Africa Media Review for June 18, 2018

Nigeria Attacks: Blasts and Rockets ‘Kill 31′ in Borno State
Two suicide bombers have attacked a town in north-eastern Nigeria only hours after the country’s army chief urged displaced residents to return home because it was safe. The blasts hit the town of Damboa in Borno state on Saturday evening and residents say at least 31 people died. The explosions were followed up by rockets fired from outside the town. Boko Haram militants are suspected. Army chief Lt Gen Tukur Buratai had said they were no longer a threat. “Let me use this opportunity to call on the good people of northern Borno… to return to their communities which have long been liberated by our gallant troops,” he said at an inauguration ceremony for gunboats earlier on Saturday. A four-month military operation started on 1 May to expel Boko Haram insurgents from northern Borno and the Lake Chad region. No group has said it carried out Saturday evening’s attacks but a militia leader speaking to AFP, Babakura Kolo, said they bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, a jihadist group that wants to establish a caliphate in northern Nigeria. BBC

Eight Kenyan Police Killed in Latest Roadside Bombing
Five Kenyan police officers and three reservists were killed on Sunday when their vehicle hit a homemade landmine in Wajir, northeast Kenya, a government official said. “We had an attack this afternoon and eight officers have been killed,” said northeastern regional coordinator, Mohamud Ali Saleh, the area’s top security official. Saleh said the bombing occurred in Bojigaras, in the east of Wajir county. “We suspect the involvement of the Shabaab and we are looking for them,” he added. The use of improvised explosive devices against police and military patrols in the northern and eastern border regions with Somalia have become relatively common. News24

South Sudan: Peace Talks Continuing, but Positions Far Apart
The South Sudan parties’ positions in the ongoing peace consultations in Addis Ababa are far apart, according to observers. A senior official at the peace talks told Radio Tamazuj today that there were significant discrepancies between the positions of the South Sudanese government and the opposition on the formula of forming a unity government based the IGAD’s revitalized peace plan. The opposition groups at the peace talks preference a lean government while the unity government in Juba said the upcoming government should be bloated to accommodate all parties. “The reality is that South Sudan conflicting parties are still far from having confidence and trust towards each other in order to form a government that can bring them together to end the ongoing violence,” he said. Radio Tamazuj

Context and the Limits of International Engagement in Realizing Durable Stability in South Sudan
With more than 4 million South Sudanese people displaced since December 2013, recovery from the current war requires a significant reset of the systems and structures through which safety and security are provided. The government security apparatus and opposition forces have used collective punishment, forced displacement, and asset-stripping as part of the war effort. Large-scale recruitment efforts (including of children), the mobilization of ethnic militias, a multiplicity of conflict actors, and easy access to weapons transfers have characterized a conflict in which ceasefires have been meaningless. The legitimacy of the government and its security services rest on overcoming the extreme levels of violence that have been enacted against the population and establishing substantive controls on the use of force. However, there are significant reasons why international support of a large-scale reform of the security sector is unlikely to achieve this. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Kenya Rejects Push to Seize Property of South Sudan Leaders
Kenya has rejected fresh pressure from the United States to seize the properties of South Sudanese leaders that were allegedly bought with proceeds from corruption, money laundering and war profits. Officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs say the country is happy to share intelligence with the US on illicit money flows from South Sudan, but it must first establish mechanisms for verifying the reports provided by Washington. Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Macharia Kamau the told The EastAfrican Kenya is capable of seizing properties from illicit proceeds but will only act within the context of international practices through the United Nations conventions and the Bretton Woods institutions. “Kenya knows its obligations in regards to corruption and money laundering, and is working closely with the international community on the same. However, we work with multilateral platforms and don’t take instructions from other sovereign states,” Mr Kamau said. The East African

ISIL Group Claims Explosion in Somali Capital
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant also known as ISIS has claimed to have killed at least four government soldiers in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. The group says the explosion happened on Friday in the city’s Daynile district, leaving 4 soldiers dead and another one injured. “We have killed at least 4 soldiers and injured another one in an improvised explosive device in Somali capital Mogadishu”, the group said through its Amaq website. There was no comment from government officials over the claims made by ISIL group in Somalia. Mareeg

Haftar Forces Launch Push against Militias in Libya Oil Crescent
The self-styled Libyan National Army loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar announced Sunday a “major offensive” to drive rival groups from the country’s northeastern oil crescent. Armed groups on Thursday attacked the Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra terminals held by Haftar’s forces around 650km east of Tripoli. “We have launched a major offensive supported by the army and air force to drive out the militias of (Ibrahim) Jadhran and his allies”, LNA spokesperson Ahmed al-Mesmari told AFP. Jadhran’s Petroleum Facilities Guard controlled the terminals for years following the 2011 ouster and killing of longtime Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, but were eventually forced out by the LNA The LNA controls most of eastern Libya and is opposed to an internationally recognised government based in Tripoli, which has itself condemned Thursday’s militia attacks. News24

Uganda in the Grip of Violent Crime Wave
An unprecedented wave of murders and kidnappings is robbing Ugandans of easy sleep and prompting many to ask whether President Yoweri Museveni and his government is capable of keeping them safe. Despite several arrests, including that of former police chief Kale Kayihura and 10 police officers, questions continue to swirl over who or what is behind the spate of murders. Museveni said Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels are responsible. His ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) has traded blame with the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). Politicial analysts suggest the crime wave could be a manifestation of the widening gap between rich and poor, coupled with widespread corruption. Those who experienced the insecurity across Uganda in the 1970s and 1980s credit Museveni with ensuring their safety in the decades that followed. They traditionally vote in his favor. With the recent spike in urban crime, however, he is seen in some quarters to be losing his grip on national security. DW

Cameroon Seeks to Delay Elections
Authorities in Cameroon appear to want to postpone October’s general election to a later date.The BBC has obtained a copy of a letter from President Paul Biya to the leader of the senate, requesting that it debate the possibility of postponing elections for a year. It follows last week’s news that only 3% of new voters registered since the start of the year are from the country’s Anglophone regions, although English speakers account for about 20% of the population. Separatists in Cameroon’s two mainly English-speaking areas – the North-West and South-West regions – have been demanding independence. Tens of thousands of Anglophone Cameroonians fleeing violent clashes with Francophone security forces have crossed into neighbouring Nigeria in recent months. Lawyer and presidential challenger Akere Muna tells BBC Focus on Africa radio that the proposal to delay elections “shows the level of incapacity in taking care of issues that concern the common man”. But he describes the document as a “simple, procedural letter… asking the opinion of the president of the Senate before such a proposal goes to parliament”. He says that Cameroonian law dictates that only municipal and legislative can be postponed – not senatorial nor presidential elections. BBC

DR Congo Minister Says Bemba Free to Return Home
Former Democratic Republic of Congo vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba “can return” home if he wants to, following his acquittal on appeal of war crimes, Kinshasa said Sunday. Foreign minister Leonard She Okitundu did not, however, specify whether the one-time rebel leader will face prosecution by DR Congo authorities. “Jean-Pierre Bemba left of his own will. If he wants to return, he can return,” Okitundu told the French language Internationales television programme. … Bemba, who had already spent a decade behind bars, was “released provisionally under specific conditions,” the Hague-based International Criminal Court said on Friday. The East African

Congo’s Parliament to Consider Legal Protection for Ex-Presidents
Democratic Republic of Congo’s parliament will, at President Joseph Kabila’s request, hold a special session to consider legislation providing legal protection for former presidents, lawmakers said. The announcement could be a further sign that Kabila intends to step down after an election in December despite speculation that he is trying to circumvent term limits that forbid him from running again. Prime Minister Bruno Tshibala told Reuters this week that Kabila would not be a candidate, the clearest declaration yet from a senior government official on the matter. But Kabila himself has refused to publicly commit to leaving office and some of his supporters have in recent weeks floated a legal rationale that would allow him to stand again. “At the request of the president of the republic, an extraordinary session will be convened,” lower house speaker Aubin Minaku told deputies on Friday at the close of the latest parliamentary session. Reuters

African bloggers want Tanzania to repeal the Online Content Regulations
African bloggers have asked the Tanzanian government to revoke provisions of the Electronic and Postal Communications (EPOCA) Online Content Regulations, 2018. They also call upon the regional integrations including; the African Union, the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to strongly urge the East African nation to reverse its decision. A statement issued on Friday, June 15, 2018 signed by representatives from nine African countries say the regulations and other related online content laws undermine freedom of expression, access to information, and media freedom. … The statement was signed by representatives from Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Cameroon. The Citizen

Victims of Burundi Crises Suffer Painful Past, Study Reveals
In a study conducted by the American Services Committee in partnership with the Truth and Recomciliation Commission-CVR, victims of the tragic past testify that the latter affects their daily lives. Aloys Batungwanayo, a consultant who carried out the study, has said the past affects people in different ways. “There are some who have suffered the crisis and adopted a non-violent strategy. This category of people teaches young people how they should avoid making the same mistake. There is another category of people who have failed to forgive those who wronged them. This group reflects a vindictive spirit,” he says. … Bishop Jean Louis Nahimana, Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission-CVR, says this study will help the commission establish what people need for the reconciliation process. He says that survey has showed that there is a need to tell the truth. Iwacu

Angola Seeks Conviction of Top Journalist for Graft Story
An Angolan prosecutor on Friday sought the conviction of outspoken rights activist and journalist Rafael Marques for accusing a former attorney general of corruption in a real estate deal. Pedro Pederneira said Marques had insulted public authority in the 2016 article where he alleged that Joao Maria de Sousa had been involved in a dodgy land purchase. The verdict is due on July 6. Marques, who is on trial with another journalist, risks a three-year prison term if convicted. ‘Public prosecutor calls for my conviction for crimes of insult to public authority & against the state. He exonerates his ex boss – the plaintiff – of corruption & blames local admin instead,’ the 46-year-old Marques tweeted in English after the court hearing. News24

China Verges on Luring All of Africa Away from Taiwan
China’s diplomatic offensive to flip the final African countries holding formal ties with Taiwan over to the mainland’s side is nearly complete, as the Asian power wields economic might to expand its influence on the continent amid trade and security pressure from the U.S. The Chinese government sees special significance in a Beijing summit with African leaders set for September alongside the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. If China can bring the last holdout, Swaziland — recently renamed eSwatini — into its corner, it will go into the meeting having diplomatically conquered the continent, so to speak. … China has gradually forged deeper relationships with African countries through the ministerial conference, held every three years. Beijing first organized the forum in 2000. Nikkei

Donkeys Stolen, Skinned in Africa to Feed Chinese Demand
Dawn was just beginning to break when Joseph Kamonjo Kariuki woke to find his donkeys missing. The villager searched the bush frantically for the animals he depends on to deliver water for a living, but they were nowhere to be found. It was the village’s children who led Kariuki to the ghastly remains: three bloody, severed donkey heads lying on the ground. … Kariuki believes his donkeys were the latest victims of a black market for donkey skins, the key ingredient in a Chinese health fad that’s threatening the beasts of burden many Africans rely on for farm work and transporting heavy loads. From Kenya to Burkina Faso, Egypt to Nigeria, animal rights groups say, agents are seeking to feed China’s insatiable appetite for a gelatin they call ejiao (pronounced “uh-jee-ow”), made from stewed donkey skins that purports to provide health benefits. Shrinking donkey herds in China have driven ejiao producers to seek out donkey skins from Africa, Australia and South America, threatening the world’s donkey population and driving violent crime and protests across Africa, the activists say. AP

A Bloodless Malaria Test by a Young Ugandan Inventor Won Africa’s Top Engineering Prize
The $33,000 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation has been awarded to a 24-year old Ugandan engineer for his invention of a bloodless malaria test. Before now, small blood samples taken from suspected patients in hospitals or pharmacies were used to test for malaria but with Matibabu, the device developed by Brian Gitta and his team, there is no need for pricking. When a person is infected, the malaria parasite takes over a vacuole of the red blood cells and significantly remodels it. For Matibabu to work, it is clipped onto a person’s finger and using light and magnetism, a red beam of light scans the finger for changes in colour, shape and concentration of the red blood cells. A result is produced within a minute and sent to a mobile phone linked to the device. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones