Africa Media Review for June 27, 2018

UN: Malian Forces Executed 12 Civilians at Market
Malian forces involved in the fight against Islamist militants in the West African nation executed 12 civilians in retaliation after a soldier was killed in an attack in May, the U.N. mission in Mali said Tuesday. Mali’s fight against jihadist groups in the center and north of the country has been marred by a series of alleged abuses, some of which the government has acknowledged. Those abuses, as well as tit-for-tat attacks by rival ethnic groups, have fueled surging violence across vast swathes of Mali, raising doubts about the government’s ability to organize a presidential election scheduled for July 29. VOA

Nigeria: Death Toll Now 135 as Buhari Visits Plateau
The death toll in last weekend’s attacks on some villages in three local government areas of Plateau State by herdsmen has hit 135, as President Muhammadu Buhari visited the troubled state yesterday. Vanguard reported on Monday that no fewer than 120 persons, comprising 34 in Nekan, 39 in Kufang and 47 in Ruku villages, were killed in the coordinated attacks, though the Police confirmed 86 casualties. However, the attacks which continued on Monday, despite the dawn-to-dusk curfew imposed on the three local government areas by the Plateau State Government, claimed 15 persons more as at yesterday in Dorowa Babuje village in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area. Vanguard

Nigeria: Violence in Plateau State Highlights Failures of the Federal System
The conflict in Nigeria’s Plateau State is being played out over huge swathes of West Africa between herders and farmers. To use the ‘easy’ label of Christians versus Muslims or to say it is ‘just’ an ethnic conflict or a fight over resources conceals the complexity of the problem and its potential danger. “The government needs to do more,” says Nigerian analyst, lawyer and conflict resolution expert Dr. Aminu Gamawa. Of course, the federal and the state government are partly responsible for security, Gamawa concedes but he believes the community also has a role to play — both the traditional rulers and religious leaders in Plateau State. “Most of this violence and most of this conflict is being incited and sponsored by people in the community, for their own political interests and their own power politics,” Gamawa told DW. DW

Why Violent Extremism Is on the Rise in West African Countries – Report
The rise in violent extremism in the central Sahel is mainly a reaction to states’ inability to provide security and services, and has little to do with religious ideology, a new report by the peacebuilding charity International Alert has found. Drawing on extensive interviews with Fulani communities in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, the report looked at why young people may or may not choose to join an armed group. It found that state abuse and unchecked corruption are the main factors behind some young people’s decision to join armed groups. Marco Simonetti, West Africa Regional Manager at International Alert, said: “Real or perceived abuse by government authorities – often with impunity – has led to frustrations that violent extremists take advantage of. These groups use criticism of state corruption to incite communities to embrace an alternative political and social model, inspired by the Sharia.” “In reality, the appeal of global jihad carries much less weight than the unlawful detention of a loved one, the struggle for access to grazing areas or the desire for recognition within the village,” he added. Premium Times

UN Probe Accuses DR Congo Troops, Militia of ‘Crimes against Humanity’
UN investigators on Tuesday accused the security forces and militia fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of committing crimes against humanity in the country’s restive Kasai region. The probe was established by the United Nations Human Rights Council last year to investigate abuses in Kasai, which was plunged into violence in September 2016 after government troops killed a local chieftain, Kamwina Nsapu. The chieftain was opposed to the Kinshasa government and now rebels fighting in his name are battling government forces and a pro-government militia called the Bana Mura. “Some of the abuses committed by the defense and security forces, the Bana Mura militia and the Kamwina Nsapu militia constitute crimes against humanity (and) war crimes,” the investigators said. The East African

UN Peacekeeper from Bangladesh Killed in South Sudan
A United Nations peacekeeper was killed on Tuesday in South Sudan when a U.N. convoy was attacked. Lieutenant Commander Ashraf Siddiqui from Bangladesh was part of a convoy protecting humanitarian workers traveling from Yei to Lasu in Central Equatoria province. Shots were fired by a group of unknown gunmen and Siddiqui died from his injuries shortly after, said the U.N. An “appalling act of violence” took the peacekeeper’s life, said the U.N.’s chief of peacekeeping in South Sudan, David Shearer. “Peacekeepers and aid workers should be able to carry out their work freely and safely and not be subjected to the kind of senseless attack we have witnessed,” said Shearer. The U.N. said it is concerned because this is the third attack on peacekeepers in a month. The two other attacks occurred in Unity State. The Washington Post

Sudan Says South Sudan Foes ‘Agree on Some Points’
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and arch-foe Riek Machar have “agreed on some points” at peace talks in Khartoum, a Sudanese minister said on Tuesday, raising hopes of a deal. After East African leaders stepped up calls for an end to a brutal civil war in the world’s youngest country, a new round of Kiir-Machar talks opened on Monday in Khartoum hosted by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. “President Salva Kiir and Doctor Riek Machar, in a closed meeting with President Bashir, have agreed on some points,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed told reporters. “The details will be announced tomorrow.” The latest push for peace in South Sudan launched by regional leaders last week in Addis Ababa comes as the two warring factions face a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions. News24

Ethiopia PM Abiy Ahmed Ready to Open New Chapter in Eritrea Ties
Ethiopia’s prime minister said his country was ready to open a new chapter in their relations with long-time foe Eritrea following a high-level meeting with a delegation from Asmara. Abiy Ahmed received on Tuesday a delegation led by Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and President Isaias Afwerki’s right-hand man, Yemane Gebreab. “Our desire is to love rather than hate. What we miss is to hug our brothers in Asmara. If we are in love then the other things are minor. And if we do that, we might not need a border. Our neighbourliness is sharing things and drinking coffee together,” Prime Minister Ahmed said on Tuesday night during a state dinner he hosted for the delegation. Al Jazeera

Zimbabwe’s President Blames Rally Attack on Grace Mugabe Faction
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of Zimbabwe, has blamed an apparent assassination attempt at a political rally last weekend on a faction led by Grace Mugabe, the wife of the ousted president Robert Mugabe. In an interview with the BBC, Mnangagwa said he believed the so-called G40 faction was responsible for the grenade thrown at the podium in the White City stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday afternoon. The 75-year-old leader, who took power in November following a military takeover that led to the resignation of Mugabe after a rule of 37 years, stopped short of blaming the former first lady directly. … Manangagwa earlier said the attack had been “calculated to achieve a bloodbath” and destabilise the ongoing electoral programme. The Guardian

Zimbabwe’s Political Parties Sign Peace Pledge for July Polls
imbabwe’s political parties Tuesday signed a “peace pledge” committing to peaceful campaigns for the July 30 general election. Zimbabwe’s political parties sing the national anthem before signing a “peace pledge” the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission says is aimed at ending violence that characterized the country’s previous elections. Absent from the ceremony Tuesday were the two leading candidates for the July 30 election, President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ZANU-PF party and Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance – a coalition of opposition parties. MDC-Alliance Secretary-General Douglas Mwonzora said the candidates were represented by party leaders. VOA

Morocco: Rif Protest Leader Nasser Zefzafi Sentenced to 20 Years
The leader of a protest movement that shook Morocco’s northern Rif region for months over social and economic issues has been sentenced for 20 years. A court in Casablanca on Tuesday sentenced 39-year-old Nasser Zefzafi, who was arrested in May last year and later transferred to a prison in the port city. Zefzafi was involved in organising demonstrations in his hometown of Al-Hoceima. The social unrest in the region followed the death of Mouhcine Fikri, a fishmonger crushed in a rubbish track as he protested against the seizure of swordfish caught out of season. Calls for justice for Fikri, 31, evolved into a grassroots movement demanding jobs and economic development, with Zefzafi, himself unemployed, emerging as the leader of the Al-Hirak al-Shaabi, or Popular Movement, based largely in Al-Hoceima. Al Jazeera

Malawians with Albinism to Enter Electoral Races in Bid to Stop Killings
Six people with albinism are to contest elections in Malawi next year in a bid to tackle widespread stigma and halt relentless attacks fueled by a trade in their body parts for witchcraft. Overstone Kondowe, head of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), said it was vital to get people with albinism into parliament and local assemblies because previous governments had failed to help them. “This is also [a] strategy for increasing visibility … the appointment of persons with albinism to high positions is one way to fight stigma,” he told Reuters. Malawi is one of the most dangerous countries for people with albinism — a lack of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes — who risk being mutilated and murdered for their body parts, which are prized in black magic and can fetch high sums. VOA

Nigeria Overtakes India in Extreme Poverty Ranking
Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty, with an estimated 87 million Nigerians, or around half of the country’s population, thought to be living on less than $1.90 a day. The findings, based on a projection by the World Poverty Clock and compiled by Brookings Institute, show that more than 643 million people across the world live in extreme poverty, with Africans accounting for about two-thirds of the total number. In Nigeria, as with other countries on the continent, that figure is projected to rise. “By the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today,” the researchers write. Despite being the largest oil producer in Africa, Nigeria has struggled to translate its resource wealth into rising living standards. CNN

What Europe Could Learn from the Way Africa Treats Refugees
Across Europe, asylum policies are failing both refugees and citizens. Attempts to negotiate a fair distribution of refugees within Europe are deadlocked, and this week’s emergency EU summit on migration seems unlikely to yield a breakthrough. But when it comes to refugees, Europe should think differently about African states. Instead of just being objects of inducement and coercion, many should offer inspiration. Africa now hosts more refugees than any region of the world. And yet some are adopting pioneering solutions from which the rest of the world might learn. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones