Africa Media Review for March 26, 2018

The Emergence of Violent Extremism in Northern Mozambique
The emergence of a new militant Islamist group in northern Mozambique raises a host of concerns over the influence of international jihadist ideology, social and economic marginalization of local Muslim communities, and a heavy-handed security response. News of an October 5, 2017 attack by a militant Islamist group on several police stations, government officials, and residents in the town of Mocímboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado Province caught observers of international jihadism by surprise. The existence of the group was not a surprise to members of the Province’s Islamic Council, however. Council members said that for several years they had been warning authorities about the group and the threat to peace posed by its extremist ideology. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Somalia’s Parliament and Presidential Palace Rocked by Nearby Car Bomb Blast
A car bomb in the Somali capital of Mogadishu has killed at least four people and injured several others, according to reports. The bomb detonated at a security checkpoint just 200 meters from the presidential palace. Plumes of smoke could be seen billowing over the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Sunday after a car bomb was detonated near the parliamentary headquarters and presidential palace. Somali police said the blast had killed at least four people along with the driver of the car, and injured around 10 others. Among the dead were two soldiers, officials said. The car bomb went off after security personnel stopped a suspicious vehicle at one of several checkpoints erected along a road leading to the parliament and presidential palace, senior police captain Mohamed Hussein told the AP news agency. The blast site was located next to the Interior Ministry and just 200 meters (219 yards) from the presidential palace. DW

U.S. Says Killed Two “Terrorists” in Southern Libya Air Strike
U.S. forces said they had killed “two terrorists” in an air strike in southwestern Libya on Saturday as part of efforts to deny militants a safe haven in the country’s vast desert. The strike hit on the outskirts of the city of Ubari and was carried out in coordination with the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, the U.S. Africa Command said in a statement. “At this time, we assess no civilians were killed in this strike,” the statement said. A witness in Ubari told Reuters by telephone that a large explosion had been heard around midday. A house in the Fursan neighbourhood was hit and two bodies were found there, he said. Residents from the neighbourhood said the house was frequented by foreigners, according to the witness, who did not want to be identified for security reasons. Reuters

Egypt Heads to Polls to Choose between Sisi and ‘Rival’
Egyptians vote in a presidential election on Monday to choose between incumbent Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and a little-known candidate who has struggled to make the case he is not Sisi’s minion. Polling stations open at 07:00 GMT for the three-day vote in which Sisi is all but guaranteed to win a second four-year term. Security will be tight across the country. The Islamic State group’s Egyptian affiliate, which has killed hundreds of soldiers and civilians, has threatened attacks on election-related installations. On Saturday, two policemen were killed in a car bomb attack targeting the provincial head of security for the Alexandria governorate. The security chief was unharmed. Some 60 million people in Egypt, the most populated Arab country, are registered to vote on March 26, 27, and 28. Official results are expected on April 2. They will have the choice between Sisi and Moussa Mostafa Moussa, who registered right before the close date for applications, saving the election from being a one-horse race. Moussa, who has denied he is a “puppet,” had been leading a Sisi re-election campaign until the moment he registered as a candidate. News24

DRC Military Kills 13 Rebels in Ituri Clashes, Army Spokesman Says
Congo’s military said on Saturday it had killed 13 militiamen during clashes with an unidentified group after coming under attack in the country’s volatile northeastern Ituri province. Ituri is the latest part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to descend into bloodshed since President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step aside at the end of his mandate in 2016 undermined the legitimacy of the state. Army spokesman Jules Ngongo said clashes happened around the villages of Jemi and Penyi, in the Djugu territory. A Congolese soldier had also been killed and two others wounded, he said. “Search operations are still under way and the death toll could change,” Ngongo said. Of all Congo’s complex ethnic tinderboxes, Ituri has historically been the most combustible. It was one of the places where Congo’s civil war began in 1998, drawing troops from Uganda and Rwanda into a five-year conflict in which about 5 million people died, mostly from hunger and disease. VOA

Congo Crisis Worsening, EU Says, as Government Shuns Aid Conference
The humanitarian situation in Democratic Republic of Congo is getting worse by the day, the European Union’s top aid official said on Sunday, as the Congolese government shunned a conference seeking to alleviate the suffering. Multiple crises are spiraling out of control in Congo – in the central Kasai region and in the eastern Kivu and Ituri provinces – aggravated by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his elected mandate in 2016. Over 13 million Congolese need humanitarian aid, twice as many as last year, and 7.7 million face severe food insecurity, up 30 percent from a year ago, the United Nations said in a report earlier this month. It has declared the crisis to be at Level 3, the world body’s highest-level emergency. … But Congo this week disputed the U.N. assessment of the gravity of the crisis, which it said would discourage investment at a time when the government was attempting to stabilize the volatile economy. Reuters

Ethiopia Re-Arrests Recently Freed Politicians, Journalists
Ethiopian security forces have re-arrested a number of recently freed politicians and journalists as they gathered for a social event outside the capital, Addis Ababa, with family and friends, a lawyer said on Monday. Amha Mekonnen has represented a number of the detainees. The lawyer told the Associated Press the arrests on Sunday afternoon occurred because they were accused of displaying a prohibited national flag. “I also understand they were accused of gathering en masse in violation of the state of emergency rule.” Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge. A proclamation regarding the use of the Ethiopian flag prohibits the display of the flag without the emblem at its centre and those contravening the law could be sentenced to up to a year and a half in prison. News24

Ethiopia Awaits New PM, EPRDF Admits Weaknesses in Internal Democracy
The Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the country’s ruling coalition says it remained united whiles admitting weaknesses in internal democracy, state media Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC) reports. The EPRDF’s 180-member Council has been meeting this week to deliberate on reports of its Executive Council with respect to the performance of the respective parties under its banner. FBC said a statement sent by the EPRDF office on Friday said: “…the Council acknowledged the presence of weaknesses in promoting internal democracy.” It added that the day’s session also discussed on ways “to address these challenges and bring about better understanding among the parties.” The coalition said it was doing all it takes to preserve the country’s federal system from threats. The Council as at today (March 24) is going on with its discussions and deliberations as tabled by the Executive Committee. It is also expected to pick a new Prime Minister to replace outgoing Hailemariam Desalegn. AfricaNews

Nigeria Says Talking to Boko Haram About Possible Ceasefire
Nigeria’s government is in talks with Islamist militant group Boko Haram about a possible cease-fire and the talks have been going on for some time, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said on Sunday. It is the first time in years the government has said it was talking to Boko Haram about a cease-fire. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has previously said it was willing to hold talks with the group but has given no details. Boko Haram has waged an insurgency in northeast Nigeria and neighboring countries since 2009 and aims to create an Islamic state. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, more than 2 million displaced and thousands abducted. Mohammed made his statement in an email to Reuters outlining the background to the release of more than 100 schoolgirls freed last week by the group after being kidnapped on Feb. 19 from the northeastern town of Dapchi. VOA

Sierra Leone Court Halts Preparations for Presidential Run-Off
Sierra Leone’s High Court on Saturday ordered the electoral commission to halt preparations for a March 27 presidential run-off following a legal filing by a lawyer linked to the ruling party. The order stops the National Electoral Commission (NEC) from working until “the hearing and determination of this court”, adjourning the matter until Monday, the eve of the vote. This would allow time for the commission to submit a question to the Supreme Court, it said, after which the High Court would sit again to reconsider the matter. The decision means the commission will be unable to transport election materials or organise polling until the injunction is lifted. News24

Cameroon Goes to the Polls in Parliamentary Elections
Eight opposition political parties in Cameroon will be competing with the ruling CPDM of President Paul Biya for the 70 elective senate seats in the country’s March 25 parliamentary elections. It’s a busy election year for Cameroon. The country’s second ever senatorial election is in two days, but not much is physically taking place at the headquarters of political parties. Campaigns for elections in the country are usually characterized by loud sounding caravans with effigies of candidates and political rallies. Officials of Cameroons elections management body, Elections Cameroon (ELECAM), say this is because the country’s constitution does not allow all Cameroonians to vote. … Anglophone separatists groups have warned that they will not allow elections in the English-speaking south and southwest regions, which they now refer to as Ambazonia. Mbu Peter, an ELECAM official, said they asked the government to provide security for voters and candidates. DW

South Sudan: Clashes Break Out between Rival Forces in Truce Violation
Clashes have broken out in three states between government troops and rebels, government officials said on Sunday, the latest violation of a ceasefire deal signed in December last year. On Sunday, the army’s spokesman Lul Ruai Koang told Radio Tamazuj that the rebels launched coordinated attacks on their positions in Latjor, Yei River, and Fashoda States today morning. “They attacked us in an area called Kalageny in Fashoda and captured the area from our forces. The attack was carried out jointly by Machar’s forces and rebels loyal to Lam Akol,” he said. … Rebels under former first vice president Riek Machar denied Lul’s claims, saying instead the government forces this morning attacked them in the areas of Morsak and Sokare in Kajo-keji County of Yei River State. Rebel deputy spokesman Paul Lam Gabriel said fight was ongoing in Yei River State. “In Sobat state, the government attacked us attacked our forces in Dhording and Wechtut but they were repulsed in Wichtut, while fighting is still ongoing in Dhording,” he said. Radio Tamazuj

Burundi: Dialogue after Constitutional Referendum Won’t Matter, Political Opponent Says
The UN Secretary-General Special Envoy, Michel Kafando met William Benjamin Mkapa, the facilitator in the Burundi conflict on 22 March in Dar-es-Salaam. The meeting aimed at moving the dialogue process forward, said Macocha Tembele, Mkapa’s assistant. Tatien Sibomana, the spokseman for the coalition of political opposition ‘Amizero y’Abarundi’ says that organizing the dialogue session after the constitutional referendum scheduled for 17 May 2018 will not have any importance. “We fight for the respect of the Constitution resulted from the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement signed in 2000. If the government amends the constitution, the dialogue won’t matter,” he says. He calls on the facilitation office to speed up the dilaogue process before the constitutional referendum takes place. Iwacu

Tanzanian Police Ban Mass Action, Warn of Stern Action
Tanzanian security agencies are ready to stop any mass action in the country as an online campaign for demonstrations on Union Day continues. Already, two people have been arrested for allegedly using social media to call for protests against President John Magufuli’s administration, which has been accused of limiting freedoms. President Magufuli, who came to power in 2015, has demonstrated zero tolerance to corruption, pushing for prosecution of senior government officials while strengthening revenue collection system. But his intolerance to dissenting voices has earned him criticism in Tanzania with the opposition, civil society and clerics accusing him of muzzling the freedom of speech and right to political gatherings. The president banned political rallies and several opposition politicians who have criticised him have been prosecuted. But, amid the rising tension in Dar es Salaam, police say there is no cause for alarm, adding that architects of the proposed mass action are a few individuals, who want to spread panic. The East African

UN Hails Liberia Peacekeeping Mission as a ‘Success’
At a ceremony to mark the end of the UN mission, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed described it as a major milestone for both Liberia and the UN. The UNMIL mission comes to an end after nearly 15 years. The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will formally wind down its operations in Liberia at the end of March. When the mission began operations in 2003, Liberia had been considered as a failed state. The infrastructure that existed in the country had also been decimated. Fifteen years later, Liberia still enjoys peace and tranquility. Liberians too are grateful for the impact the UN peacekeeping mission had on the country. “Through the United Nations today we have peace — at least Liberians will take upon themselves to be peaceful and we know their effort will not be in vein,” said Mohammad Sambola, a resident of Monrovia. James Johnson, also a resident of Monrovia, said: “The UN had a great impact on Liberia; it was able to give us Liberians hope in going back to school and gave us hope for a better future.” The final drawdown of the UN Mission leaves the nation’s security in the hands of the national government. DW

MPs Summon Mugabe over Missing $15bn
Former president Robert Mugabe will appear before the Mines and Energy Portfolio committee to explain how the $15 billion worth of diamonds were looted in Marange, according to Temba Mliswa. This follows his claim in 2015 when he was still president that the precious stone worth that much was stolen from the country’s only diamond fields. The committee, chaired by independent legislator Mliswa, is investigating the matter among other issues including human rights violations and the joint ventures which saw many state-linked firms mining diamonds in the area. Many government entities and departments have been appearing before the committee in the last year while many remain elusive. New Zimbabwe



Photo: Adam Jones