Africa Media Review for June 6, 2017

U.S. Wants Inquiry Into Deaths of U.N. Investigators in Congo
The United States on Monday called for an international inquiry into the gruesome murders of two United Nations investigators in the Democratic Republic of Congo in mid-March. In an emailed statement, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, pressed the secretary general, António Guterres, to “initiate a special investigation” into the murders of Michael J. Sharp, an American citizen, and Zaida Catalan, a dual citizen of Chile and Sweden. The two were appointed by the Security Council to an independent panel of experts to investigate atrocities in the vast, conflict-scarred country. Along with a Congolese interpreter, they had traveled to a part of Kasaï-Central Province to investigate a new rebellion that had pocked the area with suspected mass graves. Their own bodies were found in a shallow grave two weeks later. Ms. Catalan had been decapitated. The New York Times

Congo Faces U.N. Deadline of June 8 for Human Rights Probe
Congo has two days to heed U.N. calls to jointly investigate violence in Kasai province, or else it risks having an international human rights inquiry imposed upon it, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Tuesday. “The already dire situation in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to deteriorate, spreading to other provinces and across the border with Angola,” Zeid told the U.N. Human Rights Council. “Unless I receive appropriate responses from the Government regarding a joint investigation by 8 June, I will insist on the creation of an international investigative mechanism for the Kasais.”  VOA

Tribal Feud Leaves 38 Dead in South Sudan
At least 38 people have been killed while 35 others injured in remote Gogrial State of South Sudan, in an apparent resurgence of a long-running tribal feud, an official said Monday. The clashes between Apuk and Aguok — sub-clans of the country’s largest ethnic group Dinka — are the latest outburst of violence in President Salva Kiir’s home state. The recent clashes took place over the weekend as a result of disputes on borders, grazing land and water points, said Agoth Mel, Gogrial State’s deputy governor. “Each group claims that they are avenging killing of their members by either side,” he said. Anadolu Agency

S. Sudan Dialogue Body Tells Machar to Denounce Violence
South Sudan former First Vice President and rebel leader Riek Machar will only be allowed to participate in the country’s national dialogue initiative if he denounces rebellion, a member of the dialogue committee said on Monday. “We are not saying Machar should not participate in the dialogue. No this is not our position, we don’t determine who should participate in the dialogue and who should. We are only facilitating the dialogue by ensuring that all the stakeholders take part in a more inclusivity, transparent, open and participatory manner,” said the co-chair of the national dialogue committee, Angelo Beda. He added, “What we emphasise is that any participation must be on non-violence basis. We want to replace violence with peaceful means”. Sudan Tribune

Al-Shabab Claims Bomb Attack on Somali Police Station
A bomb planted in a police station killed at least one policeman in Somalia’s southern port city of Kismayu on Monday, and militant Islamist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility. “A policeman died and several others were injured after a bomb blast. We are investigating the cause of the blast,” Hassan Nur, a policeman, told Reuters by phone. Al-Shabab said the toll was higher. “We planted a bomb inside a police station in Kismayu. We killed four policemen and wounded 27 others,” its military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab said. VOA

Cease-fire in Effect in South Sudan’s War-torn Yei River State
A cease-fire has taken effect in South Sudan’s war-torn Yei River state. The deal was signed Sunday in Uganda between a breakaway faction from the SPLA in opposition and the government. But top opposition SPLM-IO leaders say they do not recognize the deal. A peace agreement for Yei River state came after a four day joint military committee meeting in Kampala to discuss a cessation of hostilities, permanent cease-fire, national dialogue, and the opening of all roads leading to and from Yei town in South Sudan. The key agreement was the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in opposition agreed to declare a permanent cease-fire and for both sides to ensure Yei River State is not a battleground. VOA

Lesotho Opposition Leads as Vote Count Passes Two-Thirds Mark
Lesotho’s main opposition party took a commanding lead as the constituency vote count from June 3 elections in the tiny southern African mountain kingdom passed the two-thirds mark. With results tallied from 57 of the 80 constituencies, Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, or ABC, had won 45 parliamentary seats, the ruling Democratic Congress, or DC, led by Pakalitha Mosisili, had secured eight and four smaller parties one each, the nation’s Independent Electoral Commission announced in the capital, Maseru. Results from the southern part of the country, a ruling-party stronghold, haven’t been announced. Under Lesotho’s electoral rules, 80 National Assembly seats are allocated to the candidates who win the most votes in each constituency, while another 40 seats are allotted according to a proportional representation system. The winners of three of the constituency seats won’t be announced because the candidates had died and by-elections will be held in three months time. Ballots from those areas will be included in the proportional vote tallies, the electoral commission said. Bloomberg

Lesotho: Orderly Election Marked by Unsettling Military Presence
Technically, they shouldn’t have been there. Certainly the election officials weren’t expecting them. But there they were all the same: small groups of soldiers lingering on the edges of Lesotho’s snap poll on Saturday. After Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s ruling coalition collapsed and he lost a no-confidence vote in March, the country was now voting for the third time in five years. And the sense of déjà vu was palpable, the major players all unchanged since the last poll just two years ago. Facing off were Mosisili of the Democratic Congress (DC) and his comrade-turned-rival Thomas Thabane, leader of the All Basotho Convention (ABC). Former allies, they’d served in the same Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) for years before both breaking away to form acronyms of their own. Daily Maverick

Burundi to Pay Salary Arrears to Peacekeepers in Somalia
Burundian peacekeepers serving in the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) are to receive their salary arrears as the European Union (EU) has peacekeepers’ salary arrears for six months, the Burundian army spokesman said Wednesday. “Our peacekeepers in Somalia had spent over one year without getting their salaries. But we got them on Saturday last week. The European Union has deposited salary arrears for six months. We are therefore going to pay our troops,” Gaspard Baratuza said. Baratuza said the participation in international peacekeeping missions “bears positive results” for countries contributing troops as the latter gain experience. Burundi has one battalion of about 850 soldiers at the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) since 2014, and six rotating battalions consisting of about 5,500 troops in Somalia since December 2007. News Ghana

Beating Ethiopia’s Internet Outage – Diplomacy, Cash and Technology
Ethiopian authorities recently blocked internet access across the country. The move was to preserve the integrity of nationwide examinations that started last week (May 31) and is expected to end on Friday June 8. More often than not when internet cuts are imposed, people are advised to switch to Virtual Private Networks to access the service. The Addis Standard news portal which was also affected by the internet cut ‘celebrated’ a limited release of the net and took the opportunity to share how people could join the privileged few who had internet despite the outage. Africa News

Nigeria Seeks Help to Recover Looted Funds
Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said Monday that the administration had a duty to trace all funds looted from the country as well as “call out” countries and foreign financial institutions found not to be cooperating with its effort to repatriate such funds. Speaking at a conference in capital Abuja on the return of recovered assets and combating illicit financial flow through intergovernmental cooperation, Osinbajo said stolen assets and funds remained a phenomenon because many countries and financial institutions helped the perpetrators. “There is no way this [illicit] transfer of assets can happen without a handshake between the countries that they are transferred and the international banking institutions in the countries in which they are transferred, there is no way it will happen without some form of connivance,” he said. Anadolu Agency

Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Global Advocate for Women’s Health, Dies at 68
Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, who as head of the United Nations Population Fund promoted public health, especially sexual and reproductive health for women and girls, died on Sunday night at his home in West Harrison, N.Y. He was 68. The population agency confirmed his death, saying it was sudden, but did not give a cause. Dr. Osotimehin, a Nigerian, had been the executive director of the agency, the world’s leading provider of family planning services, including contraception, since 2011. He led efforts to advance a 1994 action plan adopted by 179 countries that recognized for the first time that women have the right to control their reproductive and sexual health and to choose whether to become pregnant. He also advocated family planning services, championed methods to prevent maternal deaths in childbirth and sought to eliminate genital cutting of women and girls. AP

US Bars Diplomats from Egypt Religious Sites Outside Cairo
The State Department is banning U.S. diplomats in Egypt from visiting religious sites outside the capital following a spate of recent deadly terrorist attacks. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo said Monday that additional attacks are possible and urged Americans living or traveling in Egypt to take “prudent steps” to enhance their security. It said that the prohibition on U.S. government officials’ travel to religious sites outside of “greater Cairo” would remain in place until further notice. The ban comes after a series of attacks against the Christian community in Egypt, the latest of which last month killed 29 people. It was the fourth assault targeting Christians in Egypt since December. The attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State group. AP

Montreal: The Latest Hotspot for Africa’s Rulers to Keep Their Wealth?
A new African Arguments investigation has found that politically-exposed African nationals hold Canadian real estate worth several millions of dollars. The study, conducted in partnership with the Journal de Montréal and Le Monde Afrique, reveals over a dozen individuals who have invested nearly $26 million in Canadian real estate, often without a mortgage. The source of the funds used to buy these properties could be legitimate. But the sales should have raised red flags because of the public positions of the individuals involved or because of their association with deals that have raised suspicion. Buying bricks and mortar abroad has long been a strategy of the rich to diversify their assets. Typically, the likes of France, US and UK have been the go-to places to buy up expensive property. Not all of it uses clean money. In 2016, a UK parliamentary committee estimated that a shocking $150 billion is laundered in London’s real estate market every year. But in recent years, luxurious flats owned by families of African leaders have been seized in each of these countries. African Arguments

Netanyahu Seeks African UN Support in Return for $1bn Investment
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Liberia to attend a summit of the Economic Community of West African States. Netanyahu says he wants to expand trade and win allies. He has signed a memorandum of understanding with ECOWAS members for green energy projects worth $1bn. But Netanyahu wants something in return. “I ask for your support in rejecting anti-Israel bias at the United Nations and in bodies such as the general assembly, UNESCO and the Human Rights Council,” he told the summit. Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris reports from Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Al Jazeera

West African Regional Bloc Extends Military Mission in Gambia
West African troops have extended their military mission in Gambia by one year after entering the country in January to force out longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh, regional bloc ECOWAS said on Monday. About 500 ECOWAS troops remain in Gambia of the original 7,000 that crossed over from neighboring Senegal to compel Jammeh to go into exile and leave the presidency to Adama Barrow, who defeated him in a December election. Soldiers from the mission, known as ECOMIG, came under attack last Friday by locals in Jammeh’s native village of Kanilai, Interior Minister Mai Ahmed Fatty said in a televised statement, underscoring unresolved tensions from Jammeh’s 22-year rule. VOA

Ecowas Agrees to Admit Morocco to West African Body
West African regional group Ecowas has in principle approved Morocco’s membership application despite the country being in North Africa. But Ecowas leaders meeting in Liberia said the implications of its membership still needed to be considered before Morocco could formally join. King Mohammed VI was not at the summit because Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been invited. Morocco’s application comes after it rejoined the African Union in January. Morocco left the continental body in 1984 after it recognised the independence of Western Sahara. BBC

Morocco Arrests Two Leaders of Defiant Protest Movement
Moroccan authorities on Monday arrested two more leaders of a protest movement, after demonstrators rallied for more than a week against corruption and unemployment. The northern port city of Al-Hoceima, in the neglected Rif region, has been rocked by social unrest since the death in October of a fishmonger. Mouhcine Fikri, 31, was crushed in a rubbish truck as he protested against the seizure of swordfish caught out of season and his death has sparked fury and triggered nationwide protests. The demonstrations have snowballed, giving way to a wider protest movement demanding more development and railing against corruption, repression and unemployment. News 24

EU To Give 50m Euros To New African Fighting Force
The European Union has agreed to give more than 50m euros to fund a new African joint military force in the Sahel region. The force will be made up of troops from Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger, known as the Sahel G-5. Its main mission will be to combat jihadist groups active in the region, as well as tackle trafficking networks and illegal migration. The Sahel is home to many Islamist groups, some aligned with al-Qaeda. More than 3,000 French troops and 12,000 UN troops have been engaged in Mali since 2013, when Islamist and Tuareg militants led an insurgency in the north of the country. BBC

Kenya’s Most Outspoken Activist Wants to Fix Its Corruption Crisis from The Inside
Kenya’s most flamboyant anti-corruption activist, Boniface Mwangi spent years enraging politicians with headline-grabbing stunts, once herding blood-drenched pigs to parliament to highlight legislators’ sky-high salaries. Now he’s running for office. Mr Mwangi, the fiery 33-year-old son of a street hawker, promises to force change from within if he wins a parliamentary seat in the 8 August elections, when Kenyans choose a president, parliamentarians and local representatives. Winning the seat he seeks in a Nairobi district could be tricky. Kenyans are used to politicians showing up in convoys of luxury cars around elections, handing out small banknotes while asking for votes, a practice that is illegal but ubiquitous. Instead of cash, Mr Mwangi offers flyers and handshakes. The Independent

Kenya’s Ruling Jubilee Banking on Gains from Constitution To Win Second Term
In March, when President Uhuru Kenyatta delivered his State of the Nation address, he was bullish about the political transformation and the deepening of democracy. He took pride in having assented to 136 laws during the life of the 11th Parliament, one of the highest in the country’s history. “Our democracy has matured,” he said. “I took office as an embodiment of the transition to a new constitutional order. Since then, there have been a number of significant transitions, especially in the Judiciary with a full bench in the Supreme Court led by the second Chief Justice under the new Constitution.” Since 2010, Kenya has seen a revamped Judiciary and the creation of 24 commissions and two independent offices that are meant to protect the sovereignty of the people and ensure that all state organs observe democratic values and principles. The East African

Rising Deportations to Somalia Raise Concerns in Minnesota
The pace of deportations to Somalia is picking up fast — and setting local natives of the East African country on edge. Eight months into the fiscal year, deportations to Somalia have already outpaced last year’s record-setting numbers. Nationally, more than 260 people were deported to Somalia since October — mostly Somalis who sought asylum unsuccessfully, but also some permanent U.S. residents with criminal convictions. Alarmed community members grilled the Somali ambassador on a recent visit to the Twin Cities. Minnesota’s DFL congressional delegation in May wrote the Trump administration questioning the removals to a country grappling with famine and threats by the terror group Al-Shabab. “These realities cause great concern for the decision to deport so many Somalis to a situation where they would face imminent risk and danger,” the letter said. Star Tribune



Photo: Adam Jones