Africa Media Review for June 19, 2017

Nigeria Says Half of Government Food Aid Never Reached Victims of Boko Haram
At least half of Nigerian government food aid sent northeast for hungry people driven from their homes by Boko Haram has been “diverted” and never reached them, a government official said. Some 1.5 million people are on the brink of famine in the northeast, where the jihadist group has killed more than 20,000 people and forced 2.7 million to flee during its eight-year uprising to create an Islamic caliphate. A program was launched on June 8 by Yemi Osinbajo, acting president while President Muhammadu Buhari is in Britain on medical leave, to distribute grain to 1.8 million people still displaced by the insurgency, many of whom live in camps. “Over 1,000 trucks of assorted grains are now on course, delivering the grains intact to beneficiaries since the commencement of the present program as against the reported diversion of over 50 trucks in every 100 trucks sent to the northeast,” said Osinbajo’s spokesman Laolu Akande in an emailed statement late on Saturday. Reuters

Suspected Jihadists Attack Tourist Resort in Mali
Suspected jihadists launched an attack Sunday on a hotel resort in Mali’s capital, taking hostages at a spot popular with foreigners on the weekends. The number of casualties was unclear in the assault, which continued through the afternoon, authorities said. Gunfire rang out at the Campement Kangaba on the outskirts of Bamako, according to a security official with the U.N. mission known as MINUSMA. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists. “I heard gunfire coming from the camp and I saw people running out of the tourist site,” said Modibo Diarra, who lives nearby. “I learned that it was a terrorist attack.” Malian soldiers succeeded in entering the site, according to Commandant Modibo Traore, a spokesman for the Malian special forces in the former French colony. Time

5 killed in Attack on Military Post in Northern Mali
A military official says at least five people are dead after an attack on a Malian army post in the country’s volatile north. Col. Diarran Kone, spokesman for Mali’s army, says eight others were wounded in the attack in Bintagoungou early Saturday. While there are no immediate claims of responsibility, the attack is similar to others by jihadists active in the region. A number of extremist groups are present in the West African nation. The Malian military and U.N. peacekeepers are frequent targets of the Islamic extremists who once ruled northern Mali’s towns. They were ousted in 2013 by a French-led military operation but continue to carry out attacks. AP

5 Killed, 12 Hurt in al-Shabab Attack on Somali Military Base
At least five people were killed and 12 others wounded Saturday in heavy fighting between Somali National Army soldiers and al-Shabab militants in the Bakol region of southwestern Somalia, officials said. Somali army officials told VOA that the militants had attacked a government military base in el-Lahelay village, about 20 kilometers west of Hudur, the provincial capital of the region. The militants used machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to assault the base from different directions at midday Saturday, engaging in a fierce gun battle with Somali troops for about an hour, officials said. On the condition of anonymity, witnesses told a VOA reporter in the region that they saw the bodies of at least five combatants, some from each side. No civilian casualties were reported. VOA

Bomb Planted on Road Kills 4 in Northeast Kenya – Official
Four people were killed and 11 injured when their landcruiser detonated a bomb planted on a road in northeast Kenya on Friday, a senior government official said, in the latest of a series of such attacks. Last month, at least eight police officers were killed in two roadside bombings in the area, with al Shabaab Islamist militants based in neighbouring Somalia claiming responsibility. Early on Friday a public service vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) between Fino and Sheikh Barow, Mandera County Commissioner Frederick Shisia said. “A (Toyota) Landcruiser which was carrying about 15 people ran over an IED. It exploded, killing four instantly, and injured 11,” he told Reuters by phone. Among the casualties were two local leaders. “One chief died and another got seriously injured,” Shisia said. Reuters

13 Dead in Eastern DR Congo Clashes
A soldier and 12 militants were killed Saturday in clashes in DR Congo’s restive eastern North-Kivu province, the army said. “Twelve Mai-Mai and an officer from the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo died in fighting that last nearly all of Saturday for control of the Kabasha area,” army spokesman Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi told AFP. The Mai-Mai are vigilante groups that run along ethnic lines. During the brutal Second Congo War between 1998 and 2003, numerous groups were armed by the government to fight against Ugandan or Rwandan forces, and some of them never disarmed. Saturday’s clashes broke out when Mai-Mai fighters attacked the army’s position in Kabasha, Tshikudi said, without indicating their ethnicity. The army is now in control of the area, which civilians have fled, he added. The Independent (Kampala)

U.S. Warns of New Reports Congo Troops Killing, Raping Women, Children
The United States warned on Friday that it had received new reports from within Democratic Republic of Congo accusing Congolese troops of actively carrying out a campaign of killing and raping women and children in the central Kasai region. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, called for action. “Reports of the Congolese government’s campaign of murder and rape of women and children should shock us into action. These allegations must be investigated and those responsible held accountable,” Haley said in a statement. The Democratic Republic of Congo mission to the United Nations was not immediately available for comment. Reuters

Lord’s Resistance Army Steps up Congo Attacks as U.S.-Backed Force Pulls out: U.N.
The outlawed Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has stepped up attacks in Democratic Republic of Congo close to the South Sudanese border as a U.S.-supported regional task force pulls out, the U.N. humanitarian office said in a report on Friday. Forty rebels from the group, which is led by Joseph Kony, kidnapped 61 civilians in a June 7 raid in the Tanganyika mining area near the Garamba National Park in Haut-Uele province, the report said, citing local civil society and aid workers. The civilians were released after being forced to move goods and food looted by the LRA, and an unknown number of villagers subsequently fled to the nearby town of Gangala Nabodio. There had been no LRA-related displacement for more than five years in the province, the U.N. said. But aid workers were now worried about the safety of people across a vast area. Reuters

CAR: Church Shelters Muslims Fleeing Anti-Balaka
At least 1,500 people, mostly Muslim civilians, currently stuck in a Catholic church in the country’s southeast, are growing increasingly desperate, a priest has told Al Jazeera. The displaced people took refuge in the cathedral in the town of Bangassou after fleeing deadly violence in mid-May. “The situation is not safe enough to leave, and so they cannot move from here,” said Father Alain Blaise Bissialo, the priest at the church. “There are men who walk around town with guns.” The crisis in Bangassou began between May 13-17 when Anti-balaka, a vigilante militia made up of mostly Christians, launched a series of attacks on Muslims in Tokoyo, a largely Muslim district of Bangassou. Al Jazeera

AU Calls for Calm amid Djibouti-Eritrea Border Tensions
The African Union (AU) has urged Djibouti and Eritrea to show “restraint” as tensions over a disputed border territory intensified and threatened to revive a long-standing and at times violent dispute. Djibouti on Friday accused Eritrean soldiers of occupying territory in the contested Doumeira region following the departure of Qatari peacekeepers from the location earlier this week. Doumeira is situated northeast of Djibouti and east of Eritrea near the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, a strategic waterway at the foot of the Red Sea through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the United States and Asia. Moussa Faki Mahamat, AU commission chairperson, said on Saturday that the union would send a “fact-finding mission to the Djibouti-Eritrea border”. Al Jazeera

Djibouti Plays the West against the Far East
Why has China invested so generously in tiny Djibouti, and why are Western governments worried? China recently established a military base in Djibouti. Little is known about the base except that it may have capacity to house up to 10,000 troops. The military base has attracted much international attention, with little understanding of either Djibouti’s or China’s motives. Turning 40 years old on 27 June, Djibouti – which has hosted military bases of both the US (since 2001) and France (since Djibouti’s independence in 1977) – has long been considered a stable country in the conflict-ravaged Horn of Africa. Djibouti geographically controls access to the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb Strait. The strait is one of the busiest maritime routes in the world and is a strategic maritime choke point leading into the Red Sea and northwards to the Mediterranean Sea. ISS

Groups in South Nigeria Ask Northerners to Go, Daily Times Says
Some groups of militants in Nigeria’s southern Niger River Delta region asked northerners living there to leave, Daily Times newspaper reported. The call was a response to a statement earlier in June by some youth groups in the north threatening to forcibly remove members of the Igbo ethnic group, originating from the southeast, if they don’t leave the region by Oct. 1. The coalition of militants from the Niger Delta, the country’s oil and gas producing region, gave the same deadline to northerners, Daily Times reported. They also threatened to attack oil wells owned by them, according to a statement published in the newspaper. Signatories were mostly previously unknown groups. Bloomberg

Nigerian Senior Military Officers Denied US, UK Visas over Rights Abuses
The United States and British embassies in Nigeria has withdrawn and denied entry visa to some serving and retired Nigerian Army (NA) officers, a report of a Board of Inquiry set up by the army to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the military in the country, has revealed. This is even as the Nigerian Army exonerated itself over allegations in its confrontations and treatment of Boko Haram terrorists and internally displayed persons (IDPs) in its operations in the North-east, as well as members and sympathizers of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The report was presented late Wednesday by the Head of the Nigerian Army Civil Relations, Maj-Gen. Nuhu Angbazo, alongside the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sani Usman. Nigeria Today

Shadowy Militant Group Says It’s Behind Deadly Cairo Bombing
A shadowy militant group in Egypt that is suspected of links to the banned Muslim Brotherhood has claimed responsibility for a deadly roadside bombing in Cairo the previous day. The authorities say Sunday’s explosion in the Egyptian capital’s upscale suburb of Maadi, home to many foreigners and diplomats, was remotely detonated. One police officer was killed and four others were wounded. The Hasm militant group says in a statement released on Monday that “members of the security forces are legitimate targets” since they have shed “the blood of peaceful demonstrators.” It says the bombing was also a protest against parliament’s move to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Hasm accuses the government of “selling the homeland.”  AP

Egypt Hisham Barakat Killing: 30 Sentenced to Death
A court in Cairo has recommended the death penalty for 30 people convicted of involvement in the killing of Egypt’s top public prosecutor. Hisham Barakat was assassinated in a car bomb attack in June 2015. He was the most senior state official to be killed by militants in recent years. Mr Barakat had sent thousands of Islamists to trial since the overthrow of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-backed government in 2013. Hundreds of Islamists were sentenced to death or life imprisonment, as part of a crackdown on supporters of the banned group. Egypt blamed the Brotherhood and Gaza-based Hamas militants for Mr Barakat’s killing, although both groups have denied they were involved. BBC

Al-Sisi Heads to Kampala to Attend Nile Basin Countries Summit
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi heads to the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Wednesday to participate in the long-awaited presidential summit of the Nile basin countries, after three times of adjourning it in June and after the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s repeated attempts for mediation and inviting presidents to the summit. The presidential summit comes after seven years of suspension and failure of resolving the issues related to managing the river’s resources since the signing of the 2010 Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA), known as the Entebbe Agreement. In 2010, the five upstream countries of the Nile Rive—Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya—had signed the CFA. In mid-May, the Nile Council of Presidents summit, which the Ugandan president has called for, was to be held in mid-June, rather than on 25 May, in Kampala, after an Ethiopian request. Daily News Egypt

Zambia ‘Becoming a Dictatorship’, Say Church Leaders
Church leaders in Zambia are worried that the country is turning into a dictatorship with challenges relating to governance, restrictions on people’s freedoms and human rights violations. The strongly-worded statement by three church bodies published on Friday calls for the release of opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema who is currently in jail facing treason charges. “We find it hard to find other ways of describing rather than to say, here are signs of a kind of regime which has the tendency of dictatorship,” Cleophas Lungu, Secretary General, Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops, told RFI. RFI

Rwanda’s Ruling Party Picks Kagame as August Candidate
Rwanda’s ruling party on Saturday chose longtime President Paul Kagame as its candidate for the August election, where he is expected to face a handful of challengers who either represent small parties or are independent. Kagame, 59, who has ruled this East African nation since 2000, was elected unopposed by Rwandan Patriotic Front members. Out of 11 registered political parties, nine have said they would back Kagame instead of fielding their own candidates, drawing criticism from the opposition. In the 2010 election, the president won with 93 percent of the vote. Kagame’s decision to pursue a third term comes after the country’s constitution was amended in a 2015 referendum, allowing him to run for an additional seven-year term and then two five-year terms. VOA

Gabon Probes Threats to Leader Before ICC Visit
Gabon authorities said on Saturday that they were investigating threats by a critic of President Ali Bongo, including an ultimatum to step down before the arrival of an international criminal court team next week. The threats included a warning that government buildings had been set with explosives, and came as armed men stormed the offices of several media outlets on Friday demanding the broadcast of an audio and video message urging Gabonese citizens to revolt. The ultimatum was made by Roland Desire Aba’a Minko, a supporter of opposition leader Jean Ping, who was narrowly defeated by Bongo in presidential elections last year. The ICC team is set to arrive for a two-day visit on Tuesday for a preliminary investigation of claims of post-election violence by Ping and 15 nongovernmental organisations. News 24

Morocco Clashes Turn More Violent
Nightly clashes between protesters and Moroccan security forces in the flashpoint city of Al-Hoceima over the region’s marginalisation are turning more violent, a witness and a news website said Friday. “Around 100 residents gathered on an avenue (on Thursday night) to demonstrate. Security forces intervened in strength,” said one witness, contacted by telephone. “They were hitting people. Youths dispersed into sideroads and started throwing stones, while the police used tear gas,” the source said, adding that women were also attacked and several protesters hurt in running battles. Le Desk, a news website, said: “The nightly confrontations… are turning into a riot… into pitched battles with police, with stones being thrown and tear gas fired.”  News 24

UN Report Points to ‘Gaddafi Millions’ in SA
The South African government, the ANC and Denel ignored the UN’s panel of experts on Libya when they inquired about the so-called Gaddafi millions and a strange weapons transaction. This is contained in the UN panel’s report to the UN Security Council, relating to the flow of weapons and capital in conflict-ridden Libya and South Africa. According to the panel, a Libyan delegation describing themselves as the “Libyan Air Force” and “Air Territory Defence Forces” had ordered a substantial number of weapons from Denel, including, among other things, 84 Rooivalk attack helicopters, 40 Atlas Oryx helicopters, 500 missile launchers and thousands of mortars. “The volumes and types of materials that were requested by the Libyan party suggest that a large amount of money was available and that the negotiations were clearly at an advanced stage. News 24

After AGOA: SA Must Prepare for Two-Way Free Trade Agreements with US
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says America’s relationship with Africa “has to continue its transition from being ‘AID-based’ to ‘TRADE-based’”. “To that end, having two-way trade agreements, not just temporary trade preferences, would create long-term, sustainable improvements to quality of life on both sides of the Atlantic,” Ross told the Corporate Council for Africa’s business summit in Washington on Thursday. The temporary trade preference he was referring to is the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which, since 2000, has given eligible African countries duty and quota free access to the US market, without having to reciprocate. In 2015 it was extended to 2025 but it is not clear that it will be extended again. South Africa has benefited more than other African countries from AGOA but experts on US-SA relations said Ross’s speech signalled that South Africa had better start negotiating with the US soon for a two-way free trade agreement to replace AGOA. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones