Africa Media Review for March 11, 2019

22 U.N. Workers Were among the Victims in Ethiopian Airlines Plane Crash
The flight route from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, to Nairobi, Kenya, is sometimes referred to as a “U.N. shuttle” because of how often United Nations staff members take it.On Sunday, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plummeted to the ground shortly after takeoff, killing more than 150 people, the plane had a particularly high concentration of United Nations employees: 22 staff members died in the crash, the United Nations said in a statement.The airline said the flight had passengers from at least 30 countries, some of whom were aid workers for other humanitarian organizations.The dead included at least 32 Kenyans; 18 Canadians; nine each from Ethiopia and France; eight each from the United States, China and Italy; and seven from Britain, according to the airline, officials and news accounts. The identities of many of the victims, including the Americans, have not been released.The World Food Program of the United Nations said seven of its employees died. Six employees from the United Nations office in Nairobi were killed, the organization said, as well as two each from its Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and the International Telecommunications Union. The New York Times

Ethiopia Grounds Boeing Aircraft Involved in Devastating Crash That Killed All Aboard
Ethio­pian Airlines announced Monday it would ground the type of aircraft that was involved in a devastating crash that killed everyone on board just minutes after takeoff, following the lead of Chinese aviation authorities. A national day of mourning has been declared in Ethio­pia, and investigators are sifting through the crash site to identify remains so they can be turned over to families. State television also reported that the black box voice recorder from the plane has been recovered. China’s Civil Aviation Administration said in a statement early Monday that it has asked domestic airlines to temporarily ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 jets before 6 p.m. It was the first time China has taken the lead in ordering a model grounded before other national aviation agencies. The Washington Post

U.S. to Send Teams to Assist in Ethiopian Airlines Crash
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board will send four people to assist in the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash, an NTSB spokesman said on Sunday. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is also monitoring developments concerning the crash, a statement said. “We are in contact with the State Department and plan to join the NTSB in its assistance with Ethiopian civil aviation authorities to investigate the crash,” an FAA statement said. An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 passenger jet to Nairobi crashed Sunday with 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard, the airline said earlier.  Reuters

Bouteflika Returns to Algeria Amid Protests
Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika landed in Algeria Sunday amid protests against his bid for a fifth term as president. Bouteflika, 82, has been in Geneva for two weeks, receiving what his office called routine medical checks. But many have speculated that the health of the longtime president, who has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, is far more serious. An Algerian government plane, hidden from view in a hangar, was reported to have left Geneva around 1500 GMT. The Algerian government did not immediately announce the purpose of the flight, which landed in Geneva earlier Sunday. Protests against Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term entered their third week on Friday, with thousands flooding the streets in Algeria as well as Paris, which is home to a large Algerian immigrant population. VOA

Algerians Begin General Strike against Bouteflika’s Rule
Algerians have begun five days of general strike as protests against the rule of the ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, entered a new phase. Shops across the country were closed and groups of workers gathered in the streets brandishing flags and signs objecting to Bouteflika’s attempt to serve a fifth term in office. Social media posts implored citizens to enact civil disobedience and refuse to attend their jobs for the rest of the working week. “You have a date with history,” said the national syndicate for electricity and gas workers, which represents employees of the national gas company Sonelgaz and has declared its allegiance to the strike. “Now is the time for all free workers to participate in this movement,” it said. The Guardian

EU Security Strategy in Sahel Focused on Security-Development Nexus
“Security in the Sahel is also security in Europe,” according to Ambassador Angel Losada Fernandez, the EU Special Representative for the Sahel. In this interview with the Africa Center, Ambassador Losada discusses the European Union’s strategy in the region, which concentrates on the nexus between security and development. The four pillars of the strategy are youth, the fight against radicalization, migration, and illicit trafficking. Ambassador Losada has been in his current role since 2015 and previously served in numerous diplomatic positions, including as the Permanent Representative of Spain to ECOWAS from 2006-2011. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Burkina Faso – the Country Where It’s Too Dangerous to Go to School
Desks and chairs are piled up in the corner of a school with no children. On the blackboard, the date has been written down: 15 December 2018. The headteacher says the school just outside the town of Foubé in northern Burkina Faso, which the BBC visited in March, had closed after an attack by armed men in the area. “A lot of schools have been torched. Teachers have been attacked and some even killed,” says Samuel Sawadogo, explaining that most of his staff fled in the wake of the raid. “When a teacher is killed, no-one does anything – so we have to save ourselves.” In the three areas affected by an upsurge in violence in Burkina Faso, 1,111 out of 2,869 schools have closed in recent months. BBC

Morocco Takes Back Citizens from Northern Syria: U.S.-Backed SDF
A group of Moroccans held in northern Syria by U.S.-backed SDF forces have returned home, the SDF said, in a rare case of a foreign government taking back citizens likely to have been members of the Islamic State jihadist group. As it nears victory against Islamic State, the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance has had to hold hundreds of captured foreign jihadists in prisons and thousands of their wives and children in camps, often in poor conditions, unable to release them or repatriate them. “Our forces have handed a group of people with Moroccan nationality who were in the camps in northern Syria over to the Moroccan government,” SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali told Reuters. Reuters

Sudan’s Opposition Figures Arrested amid Protests
Sudan’s opposition figures, including deputy chairwoman of the National Umma Party, have been arrested on Sunday, as protests erupted in some parts of the capital Khartoum, an eyewitness said. “Deputy chairman of the National Umma Party Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, one of the leading members in the party Rabah al-Sadig, and others have been arrested as they were leading the protests around the NUP headquarters in Omdurman on Sunday afternoon,” Ahmed Abdul Gani, the eyewitness, told Anadolu Agency. Later, Wali Ali Saeed, a leading figure of the Democratic Lawyer Alliance, told Anadolu Agency an emergency court has sentenced Mariam to one week in jail and fined 2,000 Sudanese pounds ($42). Five more protesters were also fined ranging from 5,000-10,000 Sudanese pounds ($105-211), he said. Anadolu Agency

UN Notes Progress Mixed with Challenges in South Sudan
The United Nations’ top envoy in South Sudan offered a mixed picture of progress Friday as that country tries to move toward peace after more than five years of civil war. David Shearer told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council that overall levels of political-related violence are down, opposition politicians are moving around the capital freely, and for the first time in three years, displaced civilians are expressing a willingness to return home. “That’s the positive side,” Shearer said. “The significant challenge now is to maintain the momentum of the peace process.” The U.N. envoy said the timetable set out in the Sept. 12, 2018, Revitalized Peace Agreement is “well behind where it should be” and fundamental issues still have to be resolved, such as providing security for returning opposition leaders, including Riek Machar, who is currently in neighboring Khartoum.  VOA

Seven Niger Soldiers, Dozens of Militants Killed in Boko Haram Attack in Diffa Region
Seven soldiers and 38 militants died in an assault by the Boko Haram jihadist group in southeastern Niger, the defense ministry said. “Armed forces … strongly repelled an attack by the terrorist group Boko Haram on the outskirts of Gueskerou,” the ministry said in a statement read on state television on Saturday, March 10. Gueskerou in the Diffa region is in the Lake Chad basin, close to the birthplace of Boko Haram in neighboring northeastern Nigeria. According to a provisional toll, seven soldiers and “38 terrorists” were killed. One was taken prisoner. Five vehicles belonging to the attackers and “a large quantity of weapons (four AK47 rifles, eight machine guns, two RPG rocket launchers, ammunition) were recovered,” the statement added. The Defense Post

Nigeria’s Ruling Party Wins Lagos State in Gubernatorial Poll
Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress maintained its hold on the economic capital, Lagos, in state elections Saturday and boosted its control of the National Assembly, strengthening President Muhammadu Buhari’s grip on power. The APC’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu was elected governor of Lagos, the Independent National Electoral Commission said Sunday. The city-state has 15 million to 20 million people and an economy of roughly $80 billion, according to Fitch Ratings Ltd., which makes it bigger than Ghana and similar to Kenya and Ethiopia. It was one of the hotly contested seats in the gubernatorial poll that took place in 29 of Nigeria’s 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. The balloting was the second round of general elections that saw Buhari win a new and final four-year term on Feb. 23. The disputed votes have been marred by violence that claimed the lives of at least 58 people, according to the Situation Room, a group of civil society organizations that monitored the polls.  Bloomberg

Nigeria’s Governorship Elections Peaceful despite Voter Buying and Ballot Box Sabotage
Nigerians are back at the polls today for the governorship and state assembly election being held in 29 out of 36 states. Today’s voting is taking place amidst fears of political violence and voter buying. On the eve before polls were due to open, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, issued a press release stating one of its election offices in Akwa Ibom state was set on fire early Friday morning. However, unlike the fires prior to the presidential election that destroyed voting material, this time round “the ballot papers and result sheets were not affected and are intact”. But “several sensitive and non-sensitive materials for [Saturday’s] Governorship and State House of Assembly elections were destroyed, including 198 Smart Card Readers, the printed Register of Voters, 13 Generator sets as well as several Voting Cubicles and office equipment.”  RFI

Uganda Joins Chorus to Quit Amisom over Cuts
President Yoweri Museveni has threatened to withdraw his country’s forces from the peacekeeping mission in Somalia if the United Nations insists on reducing the number of troops on the mission. Due to declining and irregular funding, the UN Security Council, in Resolution 2372 of 2017, proposed a phased drawdown of peacekeepers in Somalia with a full pullout by 2020. The Ugandan president, who has recently become critical of the UN, said he had personally informed the Security Council that Uganda would withdraw its 6,400 contingent from Somalia if it is forced to scale down. This comes after Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza threatened to pull out of Amisom if the funders of the mission insist that Bujumbura recall its 1,000 soldiers.  The East African

Is Kagame Looking for an Alternative Route to Sea?
Rwandan President Paul Kagame was in Tanzania this past week on a two-day visit, seen as a quest to firm up relations with Dar in the wake of escalating tensions with Uganda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. President Kagame, who arrived in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, held private talks with President John Magufuli, in what is perceived as a quest to have the Tanzanian leader mediate in the security and commercial dispute between Kampala and Kigali. The souring of relations between the two neighbours has been simmering for years now, and worsened last week when Rwanda closed the Gatuna border post. The East African

Guinea-Bissau Elects a New Parliament
Voting was peaceful and turnout high in Guinea-Bissau Sunday, where voters cast ballots for a new parliament with hopes of ending years of political turmoil. “No one has been killed, no fights, no coup, without random arrests and without political prisoners,” President Jose Mario Vaz was happy to say. “Instead, there is freedom of expression and the right to assemble. I think that Guinea-Bissau is a champion for freedom.” Voters chose from a field of candidates from the ruling African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cap Verde (PAIGC), and 20 opposition parties. Final results are expected later this week. The impoverished West African nation has watched a series of Vaz-appointed prime ministers come and go over the past four years because none were able to gain enough support in the divided parliament. VOA

Will Elections in Guinea-Bissau End Years of Political Crisis?
Mozambican diplomat Gabriel Dava has headed the office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Bissau for the past six years. When he talked to DW ahead of the parliamentary elections in Guinea-Bissau, his relief was evident. “This Sunday will see the end of a difficult diplomatic process. Guinea-Bissau now has the chance for a political new beginning. The time of political standstill is finally coming to an end.” The last few years have been lost time for Guinea-Bissau, Dava says. State structures practically ceased to exist. He now hopes that “with a newly elected parliament, the state’s ability to function will be restored.” The political standstill dates back to 2015, with the three most important power entities — government, parliament and president — blocking each other. Guinea-Bissau’s president, Jose Mario Vaz, known as Jomav, said he was extremely pleased with the course of the election in the country, which has seen coups in the past. Deutsche Welle

Botswana Is Going Backwards, Says Former President Khama
Botswana’s former president, Ian Khama, has vowed not to rest until stability in his country is restored. Speaking to City Press on Friday night at the Intercontinental Hotel at OR Tambo International Airport, he said he would be seeking external interventions, if need be, to bring his country back to normality. Khama was preparing to catch a flight to attend an event in India – at Dharamshala, the residence of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile. Under Khama’s presidency, Botswana had been hailed for being a stable democracy. However, the situation has recently destabilised under President Mokgweetsi Masisi ahead of the country’s general elections, set to take place in October. News 24