Africa Media Review for June 28, 2018

15 Dead, 70 Injured as Fire Razes Gikomba Market in Nairobi
At least 15 people are feared dead and more than 60 injured after a night fire, once again, gutted a section of Gikomba in the capital Nairobi on Thursday morning. Witnesses told the Nation that they counted at least six unidentified bodies that had been burnt beyond recognition. Some of the victims burned while others choked after inhaling poisonous fumes as they battled to save and salvage their property. According to the Nairobi Regional Commissioner Kang’ethe Thuku, nine bodies have not yet been recovered from the scene of the fire. … The flames broke out at around 1am at Kwa Mbao area, according to the Kenya Red Cross, before spreading to other parts of the informal market. The blaze that consumed timber yards and bales of used clothes intensified at around 2.30am Thursday and by 7.30am, firefighters from Nairobi City County Fire Brigade were still battling to put it out. Mr Thuku, the regional commissioner, said the fire originated from a timber yard in the market but investigations are under way to establish its cause. The Nation

More Than 200 People Killed in Weekend Violence in Central Nigeria
More than 200 people were killed last weekend in violence in central Nigeria’s Plateau state, the state governor said late on Tuesday. The latest death toll, up from the police’s previous figure of 86 killed, makes the violence one of the bloodiest incidents this year in a series of escalating communal clashes across much of Nigeria’s hinterland states. … The governor also noted the humanitarian challenge “confronting thousands of displaced persons, whose houses and crops have burnt and completely destroyed.” Attacks like that at the weekend are broadly attributed to a decades-old cycle of conflict between farmers and semi-nomadic herders that is partly due to competition for arable land. That has taken on ethnoreligious tones, with violence often attributed to herders from the Fulani ethnic group, most of whom are Muslim, and Christian farmers from other tribes. The violence in Nigeria’s diverse Middle Belt states has now killed more people this year than the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria’s northeast, according to Reuters calculations. Reuters

Opponents of Constitutional Change in Burundi Face Torture and Execution: UN Investigators
Reporting to the Human Rights Council, the Commission of Inquiry on Burundi delivered its findings based on more than 380 interviews, in addition to 500 testimonies collected last year. The dossier compiled by the three-member panel encompasses events surrounding the national referendum last month on constitutional reform which could extend President Pierre Nkurunziza’s term in office well beyond 2020. … It also notes “difficulties” faced by international media outlets in covering events in the country amid the suspension of broadcasters including the BBC and Voice of America, following reports that were deemed “biased” by Burundian authorities. On the alleged rights violations committed in the country, the report highlights “numerous arrests” of people who called for a “no” vote in the referendum, including members of opposition parties who were then allegedly executed or abducted. It states that “unidentified bodies” have continued to be found “in various parts of the country” after their arrest by “individuals in police uniform” or National Intelligence Service (SNR) agents. UN News

South Sudan Peace Parties Sign Khartoum Declaration of Agreement
South Sudanese parties Wednesday signed the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, where they committed themselves to a permanent ceasefire and pledged to finalize a deal on the pending issues in the governance chapter of the 2015 peace agreement. The deal also paves the way for an economic integration between the North and South parts of former Sudan as the South Sudanese political leaders accept a joint collaboration between the two countries for the exploitation of the main source of income. The deal was signed by President Salva Kiir and the leader of the main opposition group SPLM-IO Riek Machar and the representatives of the other opposition political groups among important diplomatic presence and media coverage. In line with the declaration of principles, the peace partners agree to silence definitively their guns throughout the country within 72 hours based on the cessation of hostilities of December 2017. Further within three days of the signing of Khartoum document resolve the outstanding issues in the security arrangements that they failed to settle during the peace revitalization forum in Addis Ababa. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Rebels Demand Peace Deal Amendments
The South Sudan rebels now want amendments to the framework agreement penned in Khartoum on Tuesday. The rebel movement’s director of information and public relations, Mabior Garang de Mabior, said that they were opposed to the dividing of the country into three regions, the invitation of foreign forces and the resumption of oil production prior to a comprehensive negotiated settlement. “South Sudan is one country and cannot be divided into three,” said Mabior in reaction to proposals that the country should have three capitals—Juba, Wau and Malakal. According to a document leaked to the media on Tuesday, the two sides had agreed to a peace deal, including the declaration of ceasefire in the country. However, rebel leader Riek Machar was later quoted saying that his side needed two days to review the peace deal. The East African

Amid High Hopes, Eritrea & Ethiopia Move Toward Peace
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has welcomed a high-level Eritrean delegation to the capital, Addis Ababa, the latest sign that one of Africa’s most intractable conflicts may soon end. Peace between the countries could be transformational, especially for Eritrea, where the population has suffered considerably in the years since a bloody border war with Ethiopia. But experts on the region warn a quick resolution to years of antagonism isn’t a foregone conclusion. Bronwyn Bruton is the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center deputy director, and has talked recently with the Eritrean and Ethiopian governments, along with Ethiopian opposition leaders. “Peace depends on a lot more,” Bruton told VOA. “The conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea wasn’t really over the border. It was about a whole range of differences, and those differences need to be resolved in order for peace to happen.” VOA

Moroccan Protest Leader’s 20-Year Sentence Sets Off Marches
Hundreds of protesters marched in Morocco’s capital Wednesday to denounce the convictions of a charismatic protest movement leader and three other activists, all given the maximum prison sentence of 20 years over mass demonstrations touched off by the death of a fish seller. The show of public anger over the convictions signaled anew that the discontent among Moroccans, originally anchored in the northern Rif region, was shared around the North African kingdom. Protesters in the capital, Rabat, gathered in front of the parliament building and then marched up a central avenue. Earlier in the day, there were protests in the northern town of Hoceima, the center of the Hirak Rif movement that represents the biggest challenge to the kingdom since the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings. “Take us all to jail,” ”We are all Rif” and “State, beware” were among the chants repeated by the many hundreds of protesters in Rabat as dozens of police office surveyed the crowd. News24

Zimbabwe’s Chamisa Worried about Opposition Clampdown after Rally Blast
Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader on Wednesday said he feared the government would use a blast that hit a weekend rally by President Emmerson Mnangagwa as an excuse to clamp down on opponents ahead of a July 30 vote. Mnangagwa is the election favourite and a spokesman for his ruling ZANU-PF party, Simon Moyo, said the government was not planning any clampdown. Nelson Chamisa, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which has formed a poll alliance with smaller parties, said Mnangagwa was leading an unstable government without capacity to resolve Zimbabwe’s problems, including the economy. “We know that they would also want to use that as a pretext to clamp down on the opposition, they would want to use it to start targeting certain individuals, certain candidates that they perceive to be their credible opposition,” Chamisa, 40, told Reuters in an interview. Reuters

Swede Jailed for Life over Rwanda Genocide
A Stockholm court on Wednesday sentenced a Swedish man of Rwandan origin to life in prison for participating in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Theodore Tabaro, 49, was sentenced by the Stockholm district court for “genocide” after he was convicted of murder, attempted murder, and kidnappings of the Tutsi minority. He was acquitted of rape due to lack of evidence. The incidents occurred between April-May 1994 in Rwanda’s southwestern sectors of Winteko, Nyakanyinya and Mibirizi, according to the verdict, seen by AFP. Tabaro participated in an attack against a Nyakanyinya school in which hundreds of people, including women and children, had been ordered to seek refuge. News24

Libyan Gets 22 Years for Attacks on US Consulate in Benghazi
A Libyan militant was sentenced Wednesday to 22 years in prison for his role in the 2012 attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. In November 2017, a jury in Washington convicted 47-year-old Ahmed Abu Khattala of multiple terrorism-related charges but found him not guilty of murder. The convictions could have carried a maximum sentence of life in prison. Prosecutors accused Abu Khattala of heading an extremist militia and directing the attacks that killed Stevens and three others. But prosecutors also acknowledged that they lacked evidence of Abu Khattala actually firing any weapons. AP

Togo Government, Opposition Resume Talks after Three-Month Hiatus
Talks between Togo’s government and the country’s political opposition resumed on Wednesday after a three-month suspension, the presidency said on Wednesday. “The presidents of Ghana and Guinea (Nana Akufo-Addo and Alpha Conde) arrived in Lome to further the political dialogue started in February,” it said in a statement. “At the end of the talks with the participating parties, they will make suggestions to the next heads of state and government meeting of the Economic Community of West African States.” But the Togo presidency warned the opposition and the intermediaries that no decision will challenge the constitutional status quo. News24

Sudanese Teen’s Fate Fuels Child Marriage Debate
A legal battle over a teenager in Sudan who killed her husband as he tried to rape her has shone a spotlight on widespread child marriage in the African nation, campaigners said. Noura Hussein, 19, was sentenced to death in May after a Sharia court, which follows Islamic religious laws, found her guilty of premeditated murder for stabbing her husband, whom she was forced to marry. A court of appeal on Tuesday rejected the death penalty, reducing Hussein’s crime to manslaughter and punishing her with five years in jail and a fine of 375 Sudanese pounds ($20). “We are of course elated, but this is just one small step in the right direction for women in Sudan,” said Judy Gitau, a lawyer with the charity Equality Now, which is working with Hussein’s legal team. “We still aren’t satisfied with the five years in prison, as it’s not fair for a girl who was trying to defend herself.” VOA

18 Years Needed to Resettle Worlds’ Most Needy Refugees – UNHCR
The UNHCR refugee agency has said that it would take up to 18 years to resettle the most vulnerable refugees around the world. In its Projected Global Resettlement Needs 2019 annual report, the UN humanitarian agency said that there was a “widening gap between the number of refugees in need of resettlement and the places made available by governments around the world.” According to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, the number of refugees who need a solution in third countries has grown to a projected 1.4 million in 2019, while the number of resettlement places globally had dropped to just 75,000 in 2017. “We need more resettlement places to allow this programme to continue, and to see this kind of common purpose and resolve among States replicated on a massive scale to meet today’s global challenges.” … “We urgently need more countries to enter the ranks of resettlement states and for those already on board to find ways to increase their programmes,” he said. Thirty-five countries now take part in UNHCR’S resettlement programme, up from 27 states in 2008. Goobjoog



Photo: Adam Jones