Africa Media Review for March 19, 2018

South Sudan Wants UN Peacekeepers Out
South Sudan has protested the renewal of the mandate of the UN peacekeepers in the country. Information minister and government official spokesperson Michael Makuei said last Thursday’s decision by the Security Council on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s (UNMISS) mandate was unfair and totally unacceptable. Mr Makuei said Juba was not consulted on the matter. “This renewal is not acceptable. It is unfair decision because the government was not consulted,” Mr Makuei said on phone. The UN Security Council last Thursday renewed the peacekeeping mission’s mandate until March 15, 2019, with the passing of resolution 2406. The resolution tasked UNMISS to continue its work to protect civilians, through the proactive deployment of its peacekeeping troops across the war-torn country. The East African

Burundi’s Nkurunziza Sets May Date for Controversial Referendum
Burundi’s president has signed a decree setting May 17 for a referendum on changes to the constitution that could keep him in power until 2034, days after some ruling party members bestowed on him the title of “eternal supreme guide.” The decree, shared online Sunday by Burundi’s UN ambassador and other officials, could lead to more unrest in the East African country that saw deadly political violence after the president’s disputed decision in 2015 to seek a third term. Opposition and human rights groups have called the referendum a plot by Nkurunziza to stay in power for life. France 24

Mauritius President Resigns amid Financial Misconduct Claims
The president of the Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius, Africa’s only female head of state, has resigned amid a financial scandal. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim Gurib-Fakim submitted her resignation in the “national interest,” her lawyer Yousouf Mohamed told reporters Saturday, according to local news reports. Her resignation is effective on March 23. It has been alleged that Gurib-Fakim made personal purchases with a credit card provided by an NGO, whose Angolan founder has sought to do business in Mauritius and is under investigation for alleged fraud in Portugal. Gurib-Fakim said earlier this week that she “inadvertently” used the credit card from the London-based Planet Earth Institute for “out-of-pocket” expenses of about $27,000, and that she had refunded the money. AP

Sierra Leone Ruling Party Cries Foul
Still reeling in the pain of its shock defeat in the first round of this month’s presidential election, Sierra Leone’s governing party has accused the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of conniving with foreign forces to push for regime change. The All People’s Congress (APC) party has subsequently made several demands it wants met before the presidential run-off slated for March 27. The APC’s candidate, Dr Samura Kamara, will face off with the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) candidate, Brig. (Rtd) Julius Maada Bio, in the second round after both failed to secure the constitutional threshold of 55 per cent in the first round. Brig Bio emerged on top with 43 per cent of the votes cast, ahead of Dr Kamara’s 42 per cent. There were 14 other candidates. The East African

Ethnic Violence in Congo’s Northeast Displaces 60,000
The assailants attacked under cover of darkness, slaughtering Nguli Nzafi ‘s wife and three children with machetes and arrows. The 71-year-old, who also lost all 40 of his cattle in the violence, was forced to flee on foot some 90 kilometers (56 miles) to safety in the town of Bunia. “I have lost everything because I no longer have my wife nor my children,” he says. “I cannot eat nor sleep. I’m afraid that this fighting is as bad as the war in 1996-2002.” Violence between Nzafi’s Hema community and the Lendu ethnic group in Congo’s northeast has now killed at least 150 people and has forced more than 32,000 people to flee to Bunia, where humanitarian assistance is strained and the suffering are eager for improved conditions. VOA

Canada to Deploy Troops, Helicopters to Mali: Report
Canada will send troops and helicopters to Mali to join a UN peacekeeping mission there, Canadian media have reported. The helicopters are expected to replace a German contingent. Canada will soon take part in its first peacekeeping mission to Africa since Rwanda in 1994, sending peacekeepers, backed by helicopters, to join UN Blue Helmets in Mali before autumn, Canadian media reported late on Friday. The commitment comes amid pressure on Canada from Germany and the Netherlands to send peacekeepers, with the Canadian helicopters expected to replace a German contingent, CBC News said, citing a senior government official. The deployment would be for a planned 12 months, according to the report. Deutsche Welle

South Africa Hits Fallen Zuma with Arms Deal Corruption Charges
Former South African president Jacob Zuma is to face corruption charges over a $2.5 billion arms deal, prosecutors said, as a years-old scandal returned to haunt him within weeks of his fall from power. It was a stunning judicial development on a continent where political “Big Men” rarely have to face their accusers in court. Zuma, who was forced to resign by his ruling African National Congress (ANC) last month, was at the centre of a 1990s deal to buy European military kit that has cast a shadow over politics in South Africa for years. Chief state prosecutor Shaun Abrahams told a media conference on Friday that Zuma’s attempts to head off the charges hanging over him for more than a decade had failed. The 75-year-old denied all the allegations against him, Abrahams added. Reuters

Angola’s Ex-Leader Eduardo Dos Santos to Quit as Ruling Party Boss
Former Angolan leader Jose Eduardo dos Santos said on Friday he will quit as head of the governing party by 2019 after the ruling MPLA denied tensions with his successor, President Joao Lourenco. Dos Santos ceded the presidency to his former defence minister Lourenco following the ruling MPLA’s victory in August elections but held on to the party’s top job. The 75-year-old veteran leader who ruled for nearly four decades is battling ill health and said that he would retire from politics entirely by April 2019 at the latest. “I cautiously recommend that the extraordinary congress elects a new party leader in December 2018 or April 2019,” he said as he opened a meeting of the MPLA’s central committee. AFP

Armed Anglophone Separatists in Cameroon Kidnap 40
Armed separatists in Cameroon have abducted 40 people, including a government official. The abductions occurred as President Paul Biya dispatched a minister to the troubled English speaking regions on a peace building mission. Cameroon businessman Angelbert Etoga has returned to his home town, Yaounde, 24 hours after he was abducted and released by armed separatist groups. He says he and about 36 others were on a bus traveling to Lebialem in southwestern Cameroon to attend a political rally when armed men attacked and seized the vehicle. Etoga says they were detained for several hours and some were asked to leave after being told they had to respect the territorial integrity of the English speaking regions of Cameroon, which the kidnappers said was now a state called Ambazonia. VOA

Nigeria Skips African Summit in Blow to Free Trade Deal
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will not attend the African Union summit in Rwanda this week, an official statement said Sunday, in a blow to plans to launch a major free trade treaty across 54 countries. The meeting in Kigali is intended to formally launch the African Continental Free Trade Area Treaty, which Nigeria’s cabinet endorsed last Wednesday. Buhari was scheduled to leave Abuja on Monday ahead of Wednesday’s launch but pulled out to allow for more consultations. “Mr President will no longer be travelling to Kigali for the event because certain key stakeholders in Nigeria indicated that they had not been consulted, for which reasons they had some concerns on the provisions of the treaty,” the statement said. AFP

“We Are Here for Your Students”: Boko Haram Abduction of More Girls Pressures Nigeria’s President
When he heard the gunfire, the guard ran outside the all-girls boarding school and saw camouflaged vehicles barreling toward the gate. Thinking they were Nigerian military troops, he rushed toward them. “Have you heard the gunshots?” Ali Gambo, 70, the unarmed guard, asked the men inside the truck. “What’s happening?” Three men dressed in army fatigues and turbans jumped down from the vehicles, threw Mr. Gambo to the ground and pointed a gun at his head. “We are Boko Haram,” Mr. Gambo recalled him saying. “We are here for your students.” Hours of chaos and confusion followed as the militants stormed the campus last month, firing into the air. Students and teachers at the Dapchi school in northern Nigeria ran for their lives. The New York Times

Nigerians Express Anger at Lawmakers’ “Outrageous” Monthly Allowance
The revelation by a Nigerian senator that lawmakers in the upper house of parliament receive about $37,500 (R449,000) each month for personal expenses has prompted anger in the west African country, where most people live on less than $2 a day. Senator Shehu Sani, who represents people in the northwestern state of Kaduna, said Senate lawmakers earn about 750,000 naira a month, with a further monthly “running allowance” of 13.5 million naira which equates to $37,500 on the black market rate of 360 naira per dollar most commonly used. Sani’s disclosure sparked outrage in parts of the press and social media. While the elite in Africa’s biggest crude producer have long benefited from the country’s oil wealth, most of its 190 million inhabitants live in poverty. “We must stop our lawmakers being the ones to determine how they are paid,” said development economist Odilim Enwegbara. eNCA

Senegal Closes Schools Linked to Turkish Cleric in Exile
Senegal’s government has closed more than a dozen schools linked to a man the Turkish government considers a terrorist, underlining Turkey’s growing influence in predominantly Muslim West Africa. About 3,000 children in Senegal have been affected as Turkey reduces the influence of Fethullah Gulen, who is labeled a terrorist by Turkey’s government. The schools closed last year were linked to Hizmet, a moderate Islamic movement developed from the teachings of Gulen, a Turkish cleric living in exile in the U.S. and accused by the Turkish government of being behind a 2016 coup attempt. The issue has taken center stage in West Africa with the recent visit by Turkey’s president. About 30 countries have been affected in Africa. AP

Zuma Faces Trial as South African Prosecutors Pursue Graft Case
Former South African President Jacob Zuma will face trial on 16 charges including graft and racketeering after prosecutors announced they’re pursuing a case shelved nine years ago amid allegations of political interference. The decision on Friday compounded Zuma’s dramatic fall from power after he was forced to step down as president last month and was replaced by new ruling party leader, Cyril Ramaphosa. That, and a commission of inquiry into alleged undue influence by Zuma’s friends the Guptas over his administration, will bolster the new president’s campaign against corruption. “This announcement today is a definite indication that the tide has been turning and this in line with Ramaphosa’s new political regime in place,” said Susan Booysen, a political science professor at the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance. “I don’t think Ramaphosa was directly involved in this decision, but once political power changes at the top then the rest of the political game changes as well.” Bloomberg

Somalia Clans Secure Peace with Death Sentences and Hefty Fines
Two rival Somali clans have signed up to a groundbreaking peace deal which aims to end the cycle of revenge killings. Following three weeks of mediation, the rival Sa’ad Yoonis and Ba’iido clans in the disputed Sanaag region reached an agreement on harsh new rules. Now, anyone found guilty of carrying out a revenge killing or vendetta will face a death sentence. The family of the perpetrator will also have to pay fine a $100,000 (£72,000). There has long been tension between many Somali clans due to rivalry and competition over resources such as grazing land for livestock or access to water. BBC

Egypt: At Least 4 Troops, 36 Islamic Militants Killed in Sinai Battle
Egypt’s military says four troops and 36 Islamic militants have died in the past five days of fighting in the restive Sinai Peninsula. Monday’s statement says one officer was among the four killed army personnel. It also says that eight soldiers were wounded, including two officers. The military says that it also destroyed 400 hideouts, munition and weapons depots and dismantled 93 explosive devices during the operation. It says 345 suspected militants and fleeing criminals have been arrested. Since Egypt launched the wide-scale operation more than a month ago, 20 troops have been killed. AP

UN Backs ‘Free, Fair, Credible’ July Elections in Zimbabwe
The United Nations has voiced its support for a plan to hold elections in Zimbabwe in July. The elections, which have not yet received a specific date, will be the first big test of President Emmerson Mnangagwa who became Zimbabwe’s president in November after the military ousted Robert Mugabe, 93, who ruled for 37 years. A statement by UN Development Programme administrator Achim Steiner on Sunday said the election is a key aspect of the country’s future. “Noting elections are first and foremost for Zimbabweans, Mr Steiner welcomed President Mnangagwa’s election pledge for a credible and peaceful election as an important milestone for a successful transition,” the statement said. al Jazeera

Mayotte Unrest: French Island Residents Round Up ‘Foreigners’
A group of residents from the Indian Ocean French island of Mayotte has been rounding up suspected illegal migrants and taking them to local police. The move targeted around 100 “foreigners, Comorans and Africans”, a member of the group told AFP. Protests against the economic crisis and illegal immigrants from the Comoros islands have paralysed the island. Mayotte has been in turmoil since mid-February, with roadblocks, a general strike and protests. France’s minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, has condemned the move, saying “this kind of practice does not exist in a department”. BBC

Morocco Plans to Spend $15.8 Billion If It Gets 2026 Soccer World Cup
Morocco has proposed using 14 stadiums and budgeting to spend 15.8 billion dollars on infrastructure if it wins the right to host the World Cup soccer finals in 2026, the country’s bid committee announced at a news conference on Saturday. But Morocco will not build any new stadiums for the tournament, preferring to renovate and modify existing venues and add temporary capacity to others, said candidature chairman Moulay Hafid Elalamy, who is also a government minister. The North African country is up against a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States when world soccer governing body FIFA’s member countries decide in Moscow on June 13 who will host the tournament eight years from now. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones