Africa Media Review for March 25, 2019

Implications for Africa from China’s One Belt One Road Strategy
China’s Belt and Road Initiative forges intertwining economic, political, and security ties between Africa and China, advancing Beijing’s geopolitical interests. […] Launched in 2014, One Belt One Road (一带一路), presented internationally as the Belt and Road Initiative, is China’s signature vision for reshaping its global engagements. It is strategic and comprehensive in scope and an essential component of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC’s) twin objectives of achieving national rejuvenation (zhonghua minzu weida fuxing, 中华民族伟大复兴) and restoring China as a Great Power (shi jie qiang go, 世界强国). It now spans three continents and touches 60 percent of the world’s population. The 65 or so countries that have so far signed on to the program (including approximately 20 from Africa) account for 30 percent of the world’s GDP and 75 percent of its energy reserves. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Death Toll from Central Mali Massacre Up to 134, Says UN
The death toll from a massacre in a central Malian village rose to 134 dead, the U.N. said, as new video emerged Sunday showing victims strewn on the ground amid the burning remains of their homes. An ethnic Dogon militia already blamed for scores of attacks in central Mali over the past year attacked an ethnic Peuhl village just before dawn on Saturday. Among the victims in Ogossogou were pregnant women, small children and the elderly, according to a Peuhl group known as Tabital Pulaaku. Graphic video obtained by The Associated Press shows the aftermath of Saturday’s attack, with many victims burned inside their homes. A small child’s body is covered with a piece of fabric, and at one point an ID card is shown covered with blood. In the capital of Bamako, visiting U.N. Security Council President Francois Delattre, condemned the killings as an “unspeakable attack” late Saturday.  PBS

Mali Sacks Top Army Chiefs, Dissolves Militia after Scores Killed
[…] Survivors of Saturday’s attack said ethnic Dogon hunters carried out the raid in Ogossagou, a village in central Mali inhabited by the Fulani community. Later on Sunday, Reuters news agency reported that army chief of staff General M’Bemba Moussa Keita was removed and replaced by General Abdoulaye Coulibaly, while chief of land forces General Abdrahamane Baby was replaced by Brigadier-General Keba Sangare. The developments came hours after President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita called an emergency meeting in response to the attack, in which at least 134 men, women and children were killed. The victims were shot or hacked to death with machetes, a security source told AFP. Al Jazeera

Chad Fire Chief of Staff after Boko Haram Attack Kills 23
Chad President Idriss Deby has fired his armed forces chief of staff following the latest bout of unrest which culminated in a Boko Haram attack that left 23 dead. Deby fired Brahim Seid Mahamat and his two deputies by presidential decree after six years in the post Friday (Mar 22)night just hours after the attack in the southwest of the country. The soldiers were killed after coming under attack from jihadists in the early hours of Friday morning in the deadliest attack on the Chadian military by Boko Haram, which launched an insurgency in Nigeria a decade ago. The unrest has spread to neighbouring Niger and Chad with the Boko Haram revolt to date claiming more than 27,000 lives and uprooting more than 1.7 million people. AFP

Burkina Faso Is Fighting for Democracy. Are the Terrorists Winning?
Burkina Faso was supposed to take an important step Sunday toward democracy. The West African nation was expected to adopt presidential term limits through a long-anticipated national vote, even as Islamist violence gripped the countryside. But days before the polls were to open, the government has postponed that milestone indefinitely and without explanation. Analysts had called the constitutional referendum a bright spot during turbulent times for the Colorado-size nation. Extremist attacks in Burkina Faso have quadrupled since 2017, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington. “The country appears to be falling apart,” said Michael Shurkin, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corp. “The relevance of the constitutional reforms in light of the security crisis is doubtful.”  The Washington Post

Somalia: 15 People including Deputy Minister Killed in Al Shabaab Attack
Somalia’s authorities secured the site of an attack after fifteen people were killed including a deputy minister when al-Shabaab militants stormed government buildings in the capital, Mogadishu. At least 11 people were also wounded when gunmen set off explosions and stormed the government ministries on Saturday in an attack claimed by the Al-Shabaab Islamist group, police said. “There can be others inside but we have so far collected eleven people wounded in the attack,” said Abdukadir Abdirahman Adan, director of the Aamin ambulance service in the capital Mogadishu.  AFP

Somalia: Troop Drawdown Risks Reversal of Amisom Gains
Security and the planned elections in Somalia in 2020 could be in jeopardy as the country continues to face increased terror attacks blamed on poor facilitation and funding of the national army and African peacekeepers. The Somali National Army (SNA) this week vacated at least three of their bases in protest over months of missed pay. The abandoned bases are in the Middle Shabelle region. The SNA is funded by the government in Mogadishu, the United States and the European Union, while Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the UK occasionally chip in. The East African

Rwanda Convicts ISIS, Al-Shabaab Suspects
Rwandan judicial authorities on Friday sentenced 13 people to five years and two others to ten years in jail after convicting them of belonging to extremist groups including al Shabaab and Islamic State and providing them support. The high court in Rwanda’s southern Nyanza area acquitted 25 others after the prosecution failed to prove their involvement in extremist acts. Police in the central African country arrested the 40 in January 2016, less than a week after they killed Muhammad Mugemangango, a preacher accused of encouraging youths to join extremist groups. Reuters

The Roots of the Mounting Crisis between Rwanda’s Kagame and Uganda’s Museveni
[…] The Ugandan government, led by president Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM), gained power during the Ugandan Bush War (1980-1986) thanks in part to the military assistance of Rwandan refugees who fled their home country when the Tutsi ethnic group was persecuted. Among those refugees was current Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who joined Museveni’s ultimately successful struggle against the government of Milton Obote (1980-1985) and Tito Okello (1985-1986). Conversely, by providing a refuge for them, Uganda enabled these displaced Rwandan refugees to create what became, in the late 1980s, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). Additionally, it was thanks to Uganda that the RPF’s military wing, the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA), escaped total defeat at the hands of the Rwandan government’s military, the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR), following its failed October 1990 invasion of Rwanda.  Quartz

Comoros Islanders Head to the Polls in Presidential Election
People in Comoros are casting their ballots in the archipelago’s presidential elections, with incumbent Azali Assoumani widely expected to win a new term in a vote that rivals say has been hijacked. The main opposition alleged that irregularities at several polling stations reported on Sunday by the electoral commission amounted to a “coup d’etat” and called for public “resistance”. “We candidates declare the current government illegitimate … [we] call on the people to resist and mobilise against it,” Soihili Mohamed, the head of the Union of the Opposition group and a former deputy president, told journalists on Moroni island. Azali confirmed but played down sporadic incidents after voting at a school in Mitsoudje on the main island Grande Comore. Al Jazeera

Comoros Opposition Cries Foul as Election Violence Erupts
Gun shots, arrests and roadblocks marred voting in two of the three biggest islands of the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros as the first round of presidential elections began, with former leader Azali Assoumanis campaign predicting victory. We have been informed that voting centers have opened illegally since 4 a.m. and full ballot boxes were already on spot, 12 of 13 candidates in the elections said Sunday in statement sent to reporters. Gunshots have been heard in several regions. Some representatives of candidates have been arrested.  Bloomberg

With Zero Senators, DRC President Faces Litmus Test of Legitimacy
The legitimacy of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi is being tested following the failure of his party to win a single Senate seat, and the decision by the US to impose sanctions on electoral officials who presided over his victory. On March 22, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on three senior officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Ceni) due to alleged corrupt deals made behind the scenes. The three are the electoral body’s president Corneille Nangaa, vice-president Norbert Basengezi Katintima, and Mr Katintima’s son, Marcellin Mukolo, a high-level Ceni advisor. Sarah Gardiner, an investigative analyst at The Sentry, said the sanctions are an important step in ensuring accountability for electoral fraud during Congo’s presidential election in December last year.  The East African

Algeria: New Opposition Umbrella Group Fails to Reach Consensus
As tens of thousands of Algerians filled the streets for the fifth week in a row on Friday in an effort to push President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power, leading opposition figures began working on collectively shaping the country’s political transition. Echoing demands of the street, the National Coordination for Change (CNC), an emerging bi-partisan umbrella group, that ranges in membership from socialist to Islamist activists, has rejected Bouteflika’s plan to extend his 20-year rule, while overseeing Algeria’s political transition. This newly-formed group issued a statement on Monday titled the “platform of change” in which it urged Bouteflika to hand over power to a temporary collective presidency on April 28, the day on which his fourth term expires.  Al Jazeera

Algerian President’s Party Rejects His Protest Strategy
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s own party is rejecting his plans for a national conference aimed at quelling mass protests against his leadership. The spokesman for the FLN party said Sunday on private TV channel Dzair News that the conference idea is “no longer valid” because it would involve unelected figures and the protesters reject it. Spokesman Hocine Khaldoun said the solution to Algeria’s political crisis is “the election of a president capable of talking to the people.” The comments mark a new blow to 82-year-old Bouteflika, who has barely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke and has faced a month of protests.  AP

Sudan Uprising: Protests across Sudan and across the World
Demonstrations calling for the unconditional step-down of President Omar Al Bashir and his regime, that has held power in Sudan for 30 years, continued throughout the capital of Khartoum. Internationally, Geneva, New York, Washington saw demonstrations in solidarity, and a round-table discussion on the transitional period in Sudan. Several parts of Khartoum saw demonstrations following Jumma (Friday prayers), the largest of which was in Wad Nubawi in Omdurman. After Friday prayers, the capital also witnessed demonstrations El Muhandiseen in Omdurman, El Taif in Khartoum, El Shaabiya in Khartoum North and other areas.  Radio Dabanga

South Sudan: Security Forces Arrest Ruling Party Official in Rumbek
A senior local official of South Sudan’s ruling SPLM party was arrested on Saturday in Western Lakes State for unclear reasons, a government source said. Chol Dut Ajieng, the secretary of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Western Lakes State, was taken away from his home by security agents on Saturday night, the government source told Radio Tamazuj on Sunday. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there is no official information from the authorities why Dut was arrested. He explained that the party official was arrested from his home at Malual-Akan neighborhood in the town of Rumbek, and taken to an undisclosed location. Radio Tamazuj

Nigeria: Court Declares Winner in Governor’s Poll
A Nigerian election petition tribunal on Friday declared opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) winner of a Sept. 22 governorship ballot in southwest Osun state. The decision sets aside an earlier result by the electoral body. The three-man tribunal said in a two-to-one split decision that PDP’s Ademola Adeleke won the ballot by a small margin and should have been declared the governor-elect. The tribunal said a supplementary ballot of Sept. 27, which was called after the electoral body canceled votes in certain areas and declared the election inconclusive, was unlawful as there held no basis. Anadolu Agency

Nigeria Declares Ex-Spy Chief, Wife Wanted
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency on Sunday declared the country’s former spy chief and his wife wanted after they repeatedly spurned court summons to answer to corruption charges. Ayodele Oke, former director general of the National Intelligence Agency — Nigeria’s equivalent of the FBI — had been charged alongside his wife, Folasade, for unlawfully keeping $8.4 billion in public funds. The two are also facing a $36.1 million money laundering charge at a federal high court in Lagos, where a judge recently ordered their arrest for refusing to appear to take their pleas.  Anadolu Agency

UN: No Quick, Easy Solution to Western Sahara Conflict
A second round of U.N.-mediated talks aimed at solving the Western Sahara conflict has ended with no resolution, but with an agreement by the Moroccan and the Polisario Front delegations to meet again. Getting parties in a dispute that has lasted 43 years to agree to keep talking is an achievement itself, albeit a small one. The U.N. mediator, former German President Horst Koehler, said there was still a lot of work ahead in the effort to end the conflict. “Nobody should expect a quick outcome, because many positions are still fundamentally diverging,” he said. “At the same time, being able to listen to each other, even when things get controversial, is an important step to build trust.”  VOA

Death Toll in African Cyclone Rises Above 750 as Workers Try to Stop Cholera Outbreak
Cyclone Idai’s death toll has risen above 750 in the three southern African countries hit 10 days ago by the storm, as workers restore electricity, water and try to prevent outbreak of cholera, authorities said Sunday. In Mozambique the number of dead has risen to 446 while there are 259 dead in Zimbabwe and at least 56 dead in Malawi for a three-nation total of 761. All numbers for deaths are still preliminary, warned Mozambique’s Environment Minister Celso Correia. As flood waters recede and more bodies are discovered, the final death toll in Mozambique alone could be above the early estimate of 1,000 made by the country’s president a few days after the cyclone hit, said aid workers. Time

Hunt for Bogus Asthma Cure Threatens Pangolins
One of nature’s most remarkable creatures, the pangolin, is being driven to extinction as hunting and trafficking have soared in recent years. Studies have discovered that hundreds of thousands of these distinctive, scaly animals are now being killed every year to satisfy markets in Asia, making it the most trafficked and poached mammal on Earth. The pangolin is hunted for its meat – and also for its scales, which are believed to have important medicinal properties as cures for poor circulation, skin complaints and asthma. Last January, authorities in Hong Kong seized 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales in a shipment from Nigeria bound for Vietnam. It was one of the largest confiscation of the animal’s scales ever made and its weight suggests that around 13,800 animals died to make up the consignment.  The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones