Africa Media Review for March 22, 2017

Multiple Bomb Blasts Rock Migrant Camp in Nigeria 
Suicide bomb blasts rocked a camp for migrants who have fled Boko Haram insurgents near Nigeria’s restive northeastern city of Maiduguri early Wednesday, officials said. “There were four explosions inside the camp,” the coordinator of the Muna camp Tijjani Lumani told AFP. “The bombers struck at different locations around 04:30. “The explosions triggered fires which burned down many tents”, he said, adding that casualties details were not known. The emergency services confirmed the attacks. “There were some suicide explosions in Muna camp. Our men have mobilised to the scene,” Ibrahim Abduljkadir of the National Emergency Management Agency in the region told AFP. Muna camp, on the edge of Maiduguri, is currently home to tens of thousands of people who have fled Boko Haram. News 24

Boko Haram Crisis: Cameroon ‘Forcing Nigeria Refugees Home’
The UN refugee agency has criticised Cameroon for the forced return of hundreds of refugees to north-east Nigeria after they had fled from the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency. The UNHCR said forced returns had “continued unabated” despite an agreement earlier this month. Under the deal, any returns would be voluntary and only “when conditions were conducive”. Cameroon has rejected the accusation and said people returned willingly. According to the UNHCR, more than 2,600 refugees have been forcibly returned to Nigeria from Cameroon this year. BBC

Boko Haram Leader in New Video Vows to Establish Caliphate
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in a new video is vowing to continue his insurgency until he establishes an Islamic caliphate across West and Central Africa. In the 27-minute video seen by The Associated Press, Shekau says his fighters will continue to attack Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri with suicide bombers until the country accepts the ways of Islam and jettisons constitutional rule. Shekau also denies neighboring Cameroon’s claims earlier this month that 60 of his men were killed and 5,000 people were rescued from captivity. A multinational force has been fighting Nigeria’s homegrown Boko Haram extremists in the Lake Chad region amid one of Africa’s largest humanitarian crises. Nigeria’s military has claimed on a number of occasions to have killed Shekau. AP

Attack in Central Nigeria Kills at Least 17, Official Says
A Nigerian official says at least 17 people have been killed in an attack on a community in Benue state in the central part of the country. A special adviser to the governor, Tahav Agerzua, confirmed the death toll on Tuesday in Monday evening’s attack on Zaki Biam by unidentified gunmen. The assault comes barely a week after suspected Fulani herdsmen killed over 10 people in the Buruku area of Benue state, which led Governor Samuel Ortom to order the herdsmen to leave the state within 72 hours. State police confirm Monday’s attack and say security has been increased in the area. News 24

Five Killed in Mogadishu Blast
At least five people were killed when a minibus laden with explosives blew up in Mogadishu on Tuesday, a local official said, the latest attack in the troubled Somali capital. The blast occurred at a checkpoint just 500 metres from the presidential palace just as the Horn of Africa country’s new prime minister unveiled his government lineup. “The vehicle was stopped at the checkpoint for security screening when it went off. At least five people were killed including security personnel and 10 others wounded,” said Abdifatah Omar Halane, spokesman for the Mogadishu administration. “The blast was so huge, I saw smoke and dust all over the area,” witness Abdukadir Yusuf said. “I was on top of my house not very far away from the area, it was near the theatre and close to the presidential palace.” Somalia’s new Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheyre earlier Tuesday unveiled his new cabinet, made up of 26 ministers including six women, after almost a month of political bargaining. The East African

Somalia’s New Prime Minister Names 26-Minister Cabinet
Somalia’s new prime minister named a 26-strong cabinet on Tuesday, including a former foreign affairs chief as finance minister and a BBC journalist as the country’s top diplomat. Hassan Ali Khaire, who was appointed to the post by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed last month, read out his list of cabinet ministers to reporters. President Mohamed was sworn in last month after unseating Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, whose administration faced public and Western criticism for corruption scandals. A dual U.S.-Somali citizen and a former prime minister, President Mohamed has promised to tackle hunger, corruption and violence in Somalia, which has been mired in civil war for a quarter of a century. On Tuesday, the prime minister named Abdirahman Duale Beyle as his finance minister and Yusuf Garaad Omar as foreign minister. Beyle, a former economist at the African Development Bank, served as foreign minister from 2014 to 2015. Omar, a dual British-Somali national, was head of the BBC’s Somali language service. Reuters

Regional Anti-Piracy Chief in Somalia Says He’s Been Fired Over Illegal Fishing Comments
The head of anti-piracy operations in the semi-autonomous Puntland region of Somalia said he had been fired for speaking out about illegal fishing, which he claims could trigger a new outbreak of piracy in the Indian Ocean. Pirates hijacked an oil tanker off Somalia last week, the first such attack in the region since 2012 after shipping firms hired private security and international warships started patrolling nearby waters. Abdirizak Mohamed Dirir, director of anti-piracy operations in Puntland, said the province’s president sacked him after he told journalists that permits had been handed to illegal fishing vessels. “The problem with Puntland is that if you talk about illegal fishing, you are seen as a criminal,” Dirir told Reuters. “But I will not stop talking about illegal fishing because if this is not stopped, piracy will restart again.” In last week’s hijacking, unlike previous attacks, the ship was freed swiftly and with no ransom paid after the Puntland Maritime Police Force intervened. GCaptain

Special Igad Summit to Discuss Somalia Refugee Crisis
The Somalia refugee crisis is set for discussion on March 25, at a special summit of regional Heads of State and Government. The meeting, to be held in Nairobi, hopes to marshal a comprehensive regional approach to deliver lasting solutions for the Somali refugees, including a plan on how to reintegrate returnees. It brings together member states of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the international community and other stakeholders. More than two million Somalis have been displaced in one of the world’s most protracted humanitarian crises that have now entered its third decade. An estimated 1.1 million people are internally displaced (IDPs) within Somalia and nearly 900,000 are refugees in the region. The summit will be preceded by a special session of the IGAD ministerial committee on Friday March 24, bringing together ministers responsible for interior, security and refugee affairs from the Horn of Africa. The East African

UN Urges DRC to Implement December Political Deal
The United Nations said Tuesday that nearly three months after a political agreement was signed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, its implementation remains stalled, threatening security and stability. “As long as political dialogue remains in a stalemate, the tensions risk mounting,” Maman Sidikou, the head of the U.N. mission in DRC, MONUSCO, warned Security Council members. A bleak report from the U.N. secretary-general chronicles spreading violence – including in previously stable areas, such as Tanganyika, where there has been inter-communal violence, and in Kasai and Lomami provinces, where militias have clashed with the army, killing more than 200 civilians. Mass graves also have been reported in Kasai. Last week, two U.N. experts and their four Congolese colleagues disappeared in the province and fears are growing for their safe return. Human rights abuses also are alarmingly high – more than 5,000 violations last year — the majority at the hands of state agents, primarily the police. The U.N. reports continued activity of armed groups in the country’s east – including the resurgence of elements of the rebel group M23 – who were defeated in November 2013. VOA

First Wave of Regional Protection Force to Deploy to South Sudan Within Weeks
The outgoing United Nations undersecretary general for peacekeeping operations said Tuesday that he expects to see the first wave of a regional protection force to arrive in South Sudan within the next few weeks. “We are sparing no effort in speeding up, and in the next few weeks you will see the first vanguard of the regional force being deployed here in Juba. And I think that will be a very important signal to know that things are moving ahead,” Herve Ladsous said. Ladsous, who is in Juba on his final visit to South Sudan as the U.N.’s top peacekeeping boss, said the Kiir administration must first silence the guns if a national dialogue is going to work. VOA

“South Sudan Is Collapsing.” Urgent Aid Needed to Fight Mass Starvation
As the humanitarian crisis worsens in South Sudan, Bishop Erkolano Lodu Tombe, President of Caritas South Sudan and Bishop of Yei, has warned the country is in a state of collapse with millions of people facing mass starvation. Bishop Tombe and senior officials from Caritas South Sudan gathered in Rome on Tuesday to discuss the operational challenges and to scale up the global Catholic aid network’s urgent response in the country where famine has been declared in the midst of civil war. “South Sudan is collapsing and the poor and the unarmed are suffering,” said Bishop Tombe. “Without support for emergency relief it will get worse, people are dying.” Currently 1 million people are in imminent danger of famine in South Sudan and in total 5.1 million are in urgent need of food and livelihood assistance. At least 270,000 children are suffering acute malnutrition. ReliefWeb

Pope to Visit War and Famine Hit South Sudan in October
Pope Francis will visit South Sudan in October if the security situation in the country stricken by civil war and famine does not worsen, a bishop from the country said on Tuesday. The pope has said several times that he wants to go to the country to preach peace but so far no time frame has been given. “We have been informed (by a Vatican official) that he will come in October but we don’t know the exact date yet,” Bishop Erkolano Tombe of the city of Yei, told Reuters in an interview. “It depends on the security situation between now and October. If it remains as it is now, he will come,” Tombe said. He said October was towards the end of rainy season, which starts next month. Oil-producing South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in December 2013 when a dispute between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy Riek Machar ended with fighting, often along ethnic lines. Both sides have targeted civilians, human rights groups say. SABC

Warnings of a ‘Powder Keg’ in Libya as ISIS Regroups
After B-52 bombers struck an Islamic State training camp in Libya in January, killing more than 80 militants, American officials privately gloated. On the heels of losing its coastal stronghold in Surt the month before, the Islamic State seemed to be reeling. But Western and African counterterrorism officials now say that while the twin blows dealt a setback to the terrorist group in Libya — once feared as the Islamic State’s most lethal branch outside Iraq and Syria — its leaders are already regrouping, exploiting the chaos and political vacuum gripping the country. Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, head of the Pentagon’s Africa Command, told a Senate panel this month that after their expulsion from Surt, many militants from the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, were moving to southern Libya. “The instability in Libya and North Africa may be the most significant near-term threat to U.S. and allies’ interests on the continent,” General Waldhauser said. “Even with the success of Surt, ISIS-Libya remains a regional threat with intent to target U.S. persons and interests.” The New York Times

Namibian President Calls for Land Expropriation
Namibia’s president said Tuesday that the government is considering radical land expropriation to spur the transfer of property to the country’s black majority. Speaking at Namibia’s 27th independence celebrations, President Hage Geingob said the government should evoke part of the Constitution allowing for land expropriation with fair compensation since the redistribution process has been slow. “If we are committed to achieving further economic growth and maintaining peace, then everyone should be open to new approaches,” said Geingob, Namibia’s third president since the country gained independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990. “This means we need to refer back to our Constitution which allows for the expropriation of land with fair compensation and also look at foreign ownership of land, especially absentee land owners.” SABC

How a Gold Mine Has Brought Only Misery in Liberia
[…] Projects funded by the World Bank have displaced more than three million people between 2004 and 2013 in 124 countries, according to data published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Those shortcomings were acknowledged by Bank president Jim Yong Kim in 2015, after an internal review found “major problems” that caused him “deep concern”. […] Controversy at mining projects like New Liberty Gold is not new in Liberia. For nearly 100 years, natural resource extraction – from rubber to minerals – has been steeped in violence and corruption. Opaque investments carry a tremendous risk in the context of such a fragile state as Liberia. IRIN

Libya Force Accused of Killing Benghazi Captives
Libya’s eastern-based self-styled army says it is investigating abuses allegedly committed by its fighters in the city of Benghazi. It comes after several videos were posted online showing its men killing captured fighters. The Libyan National Army (LNA) took over Benghazi’s south-western district of Ghanfouda on Sunday following weeks of fighting. The graphic videos have been condemned by Libyans and human rights groups. In one piece of footage, a senior LNA commander kills three men lined up against a wall on their knees; they were shot at point-blank range. BBC

The Case of Kenya: Will Technology Deliver a Free and Fair Election?
Often states fail when there are either perceived or blatant election malpractices. This in turn can lead to prolonged civil unrest. Numerous cases exist across the continent. But I will use the Kenyan case to illustrate how election processes can be compromised, and then brought back from the brink with the use of technology. Following the election in 2007 Kenya erupted into two months of unprecedented conflict. People were unhappy with the outcome which saw Mwai Kibaki of the incumbent Party of National Unity being declared the winner ahead of Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement. Many disputed the final tally. To preempt a similar situation in future elections, a commission led by former South African judge Justice Johann Kriegler was set up. The Kriegler Commission made several critical findings. These included instances of double voter registration, widespread impersonation and ballot stuffing. It concluded that, as a result, it was impossible to know who actually won the election. Times Live

Botswana’s Ian Khama to Step Down Next Year
Botswana’s President Ian Khama will step down next year, the media reported. The Southern Times newspaper Monday said President Khama, who also leads the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), will be replaced by his deputy President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Seretse Khama Ian Khama – the son of Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana’s first post-independence leader – took over as president in April 2008. He was the chosen successor of Festus Mogae, who stepped down at the end of his second term, after a decade at the helm. The younger Khama secured a five-year term in October 2009 after BDP swept to victory in a parliamentary election. He secured a second term following the August 2014 polls, in which his party won the most seats. He had became the Botswana vice-president in 1998. The East African

Daily Hunt for Water Affects Millions of Africans
More than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the country’s problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. Even those South Sudanese who can find water spend much of their day hiking, fetching and carrying the containers of the precious fluid that is essential to life. As World Water Day approaches on March 22, nearly 27 million people do not have access to clean water in Somalia, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria and Yemen. In total about 12 percent of world population lacks clean drinking water and water-related diseases account for 3.5 million deaths each year, more than car accidents and AIDS combined, according to the World Water Council. In Africa 319 million people, representing 32 percent of sub-Saharan Africans, don’t have safe drinking water. AP

U.S. Firm Seeks $561 Million from Tanzania in Power Supply Dispute
Symbion Power is seeking $561 million from Tanzania’s state power supplier TANESCO via international mediation, accusing it of breach of contract, the U.S. firm said on Tuesday. Symbion owns a 120 MW thermal power plant in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam and is one the handful of independent producers that sell power to state-owned utility Tanzania Electric Supply (TANESCO). Tanzania has reserves of over 57 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas but faces chronic power shortages due its reliance on hydro-power dams in a drought-prone region, forcing its utility to buy from the private firms. Symbion’s spokesperson Julie Foster said it sued TANESCO at the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration in Paris on March 13, saying it had failed to honour a 15-year agreement. “The power purchase agreement is now terminated and the amount claimed is $561 million. Since the case is a very simple case to adjudicate, we hope that it will not take too long for the arbitration to come to a conclusion,” Foster told Reuters. Reuters

Western Sahara Wants AU to Sanction Morocco After No-Show
Western Sahara’s top diplomat on Tuesday called on African countries to sanction Morocco after it failed to attend an African Union meeting on the disputed territory. The call for sanctions comes less than two months after Morocco rejoined the AU, which it left decades ago because the continental body in 1984 recognized Western Sahara as the independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. Morocco claims the territory as its “southern provinces.” Western Sahara Foreign Minister Mohamed Salem Ouldsalek said Monday’s meeting of the AU’s Peace and Security Council was the first test of Morocco’s admission to the continental body, of which Western Sahara is also a member. “Morocco has boycotted the meeting that was scheduled to discuss issues related between the two countries. The African Union now must take steps by imposing sanctions against Morocco,” the foreign minister said. AP