Africa Media Review for March 26, 2019

Malian leader vows security as massacre toll hits 160
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita vowed on Monday to beef up security as he visited a village where more some 160 people were killed by suspected militiamen from a rival ethnic group. “We need security here — this is your mission,” Keita said, giving a public order to military chief General Aboulaye Coulibaly, who was abruptly appointed on Sunday after the massacre. “Justice will be done,” he vowed. The deadly raid took place on Saturday in the village of Ogassogou, home to the Fulani herding community, near the town of Mopti in central Mali. A militia from the Dogon ethnic group — a hunting and farming community with a long history of tension with the Fulani over access to land — is suspected to have carried out the raid.  AFP

Militia Head Refutes His Group Responsible for Mali Massacre
The head of an ethnic Dogon militia blamed for a massacre in central Mali denied Monday that his fighters had been involved in the gruesome attack that left 154 dead in an ethnic Peuhl village. Youssouf Toloba also dismissed the Malian president’s vow to eliminate the group, saying “he isn’t the one who created it.” Human Rights Watch has said that Toloba’s ethnic militia known as Dan Na Ambassagou has been implicated in scores of deadly attacks over the past year. The militia has accused ethnic Peuhl of collaborating with Islamic extremists increasingly operating in central Mali. VOA

Mali Village Attack: Footage Shows Aftermath
Mali’s government has banned the group of hunters it says was behind an attack in which more than 130 villagers were killed. At dawn on Saturday, gunmen surrounded a village of the Fulani ethnic community who are accused of having ties to jihadists. The hunters had said the army failed to protect them against jihadists. The attack took place while UN ambassadors were in Mali to discuss increased violence.  BBC

In Mali, Jihadists Losing Grip but Peace Will Take Time: French Military Chief
France’s armed forces chief says jihadist forces in Mali are on the back foot but the fight to restore peace in the poor Sahel country will be long. Speaking to AFP and French radio station RFI, General Francois Lecointre said recent attacks by jihadists in Mali should be seen as the sign of a beleaguered enemy. “The reason why the enemy has reacted so brutally is precisely because we went after him in his last holdouts,” he said last week while visiting troops from France’s Operation Barkhane in Mali. “Another probable reason is that it has to restore a certain reputation with the public” for its ability to mount attacks, he argued. Daily Nation

7 in South Sudan Charged with Sabotage and Insurgency
Seven people including South Sudanese academic and activist Peter Biar Ajak were charged in court Monday with sabotage, insurgency and possession of weapons on suspicion of staging an uprising in South Sudan’s main national security prison in October. If found guilty, they could be sentenced to death. The men are being tried in a civilian court and are being accused by the country’s National Security Service for stealing firearms and communicating false statements while in prison. South Sudanese businessman Kerbino Agok Wol, one of the accused, is accused of spearheading the attack and then speaking about it with U.S.-based news outlet Voice of America while in jail. The charges are the first to be brought against the men, and they are different from the reasons each of them originally was detained.  AP

No Roofs, No Roads, No Bread: Cyclone Devastates Parts of Southeastern Africa
People in parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi began to pick through the wreckage left behind by Cyclone Idai, a category four storm that brought weeks of rain, floods and high winds to a swath of southeastern Africa. Mozambique was hit especially hard. The government said that at least 400 people have died. Rescue workers say that thousands more may have been swept out to sea as the floodwaters rose. Their bodies may never be found. At least 600,000 people have been displaced, according to the United Nations World Food Program, which deemed the crisis a level three emergency on par with war-torn Yemen, Syria and South Sudan.  The New York Times

Police Disperse Comoros Opposition Leaders’ Election Protest
Police in Comoros used tear gas on Monday to disperse demonstrators led by opposition leaders protesting against what they said were fraudulent presidential elections, witnesses said. Opposition candidates had said the Sunday poll was marred by irregularities including barring of independent monitors and marking of ballot papers before voting began, which the government denied. About 300,000 voters in the Indian Ocean archipelago of 800,000 people took part in the elections, with results expected to be announced by electoral body CENI later on Monday. Protests led by opposition candidates started on Monday morning, with nearly 1,000 people chanting “Azali Nalawe” (Azali outside), referring to incumbent President Azali Assoumani. Reuters

Algerian State TV Head Sacked after Censorship Protests
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, facing mass protests against his 20-year rule, sacked the head of the state television, private Ennahar TV channel reported on Monday. Lotfi Chriet replaced Toufik Khelladi, Ennahar added. There was no immediate official confirmation. The reported sacking comes after journalists working at state media had staged a protest in front of the state TV building to demand freedom to cover protests against Bouteflika, which are now in its fifth week. “For a public television free and open for all,” read one banner held up at the protest. State media has started covering the protests after initially ignoring them. France 24

Journalists Protest in Khartoum over Crackdown of Press Freedoms
Dozens of journalists marched in Khartoum on Monday to demand an end to a crackdown on press freedom amidst the most sustained challenge to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir since he took power in a 1989 coup. Protesters have been taking to the streets frequently across Sudan since Dec. 19. The protests were initially triggered by price rises and cash shortages but evolved into demonstrations against Bashir and his National Congress Party. Monday’s protesters carried a large banner that read “Free press or no press” as they walked down a main street in the Sudanese capital. They chanted “journalism is the voice of the people” and “the revolution is the choice of the people.”  VOA

Kagame on Row with Uganda: It’s All Politics
Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Monday accused Uganda of erecting non-tariff barriers to trade in the region, which are detrimental to integration. Responding to a question by Ellen Giokos, a CNN business reporter, at the Africa CEO Forum in Kigali on whether the closure of the Gatuna border point was impacting economic integration in the East African Community, he cited past incidents in which Ugandan authorities have held goods in transit over flimsy reasons. “Mineral containers from Kigali to Mombasa were held in Uganda for five months…Kenyans who bought milk from Rwanda had containers held in Uganda for days until tens of thousands of litres were spoilt. Politics is behind this rather than anything else,” he said. The East African

Refugees Face Routine Sexual Violence in Libyan Detention Centres – Report
Refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa are being subjected to horrific and routine sexual violence in Libyan detention centres, a survey has found. People arriving at the centres are “often immediately raped by guards who conduct violent anal cavity searches, which serves the dual purpose of retrieving money, as well as humiliation and subjugation”, the report by the Women’s Refugee Commission says. Many of the victims have been forcibly returned to the country by the Libyan coastguard under policies endorsed by the European Union. The level of psychological treatment for victims of sexual violence who reach Italy is woefully inadequate, the report adds.  The Guardian

#FreeOurGirls: Twitter Users Back Detained Burundi Schoolgirls
Twitter users have rallied to the cause of three schoolgirls arrested for defacing photos of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza by following their example. Crudely doctored images of the leader are being circulated online under the hashtag, #FreeOurGirls. The girls were charged last week with insulting the head of state and could spend up to five years in prison. Burundian authorities are routinely accused of cracking down on human rights and dissent. BBC

Uganda Holds 3.6 Tons of Gold Possibly from Venezuela
A gold refinery established by a Belgian is facing Ugandan sanctions over the questionable importation of 7.4 tons of gold earlier in March, adding to growing allegations that minerals from conflict-plagued countries pass through the Uganda-based company. The company, African Gold Refinery, had already exported 3.8 tons of the gold that may have originated from South America. But police are holding the remaining 3.6 tons as they await advice from the attorney general on whether to seize the gold and criminally charge the company’s directors, police spokesman Fred Enanga told The Associated Press Monday. African Gold Refinery, which is licensed to process raw gold, has not yet revealed where disputed consignment was sourced, he said, adding that the alternative is to release the gold if the appropriate taxes are paid to the Ugandan government.  AP

Morocco Cleared for Massive F-16 Fighter Buy
The U.S. State Department has cleared Morocco for a major increase to its F-16 fleet, including both sales of new planes and upgrades to older models. The two potential deals cover the purchase of 25 F-16C/D Block 72 fighters, estimated at $3.787 billion, as well as upgrades to the country’s existing 23 F‑16s to the more advanced F‑16V Block 52+ configuration, estimated at $985.2 million. Combined, the two sales could net American contractors roughly $4.8 billion. The new F-16 request represents the single largest notification of fiscal 2019. It is also the second largest purchase requested by Morocco, which in November requested new Abrams tanks. Defense News

Mantashe Slams Morocco over Parallel Western Sahara Conference
ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe has slammed Morocco for holding a parallel conference on the issue of Western Sahara’s independence, on the same day that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) solidarity conference kicked off. Mantashe told journalists on Monday, following the opening of the conference at the Department of International Relations headquarters, that Morocco had paid for representatives to attend its conference. “I would have expected that from Morocco because they have resources,” he said. “They are exploiting even the Western Sahara resources. They are using them to buy support and they are succeeding on the continent.”  News 24

Social Media Bridges North Africa’s Divides to Facilitate Migration
More Moroccans, Algerians, Tunisians and Libyans are undertaking irregular migration than at any point since 2011. Officials on both sides of the Mediterranean normally analyse the phenomenon by looking at national factors that drive migration decisions or enable departures. This approach misses a key element: irregular migration by Maghrebis is increasingly a shared, region-wide phenomenon. It is propelled by a social media ecosystem that drives dreams of migration and offers detailed instruction on how to realise them. With most content produced in North African dialects of Arabic, the ubiquity and importance of online information is largely missed by outside observers. Understanding it is essential – it shows the degree to which the region’s youth are increasingly networking through a shared interest in leaving.  Daily Maverick

Behind the Niceties of Chinese Leader’s Visit, France Is Wary
France rolled out red carpets and honor guards for President Xi Jinping of China on Monday, but beneath the pomp, there were wary statements about China’s influence by his host, President Emmanuel Macron. With Italy last week breaking from Europe in signing on to China’s global infrastructure project for moving Chinese goods, Mr. Macron has made it clear that a unified European response, in his view, is critical in dealing with the Chinese hegemon. […] Beneath the tight smiles and brisk handshakes, Mr. Macron’s sharpened words resonated as the template for France’s attitude toward China, a country that floods France with luxury-shopping tourists but competes directly with it in a principal arena of mutual geopolitical interest, Africa. The New York Times

The Nollywood Movie Experiment to Research Nigerians’ Anti-Corruption Behavior
The popularity of Nigeria’s Nollywood movie industry—the world’s second largest by volume—was covertly deployed for a social cause five years ago. Researchers from Princeton University, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) collaborated to commission a feature film to test local habits on reporting corruption. The research for the movie, which was funded by the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and an anonymous donor, was approved by by the Princeton Institutional Review Board. […] Nigeria’s corruption problems are well-documented with a landmark survey two years capturing the scale of corruption especially among public officers. Despite his well-publicized anti-corruption stance and message in office, Nigeria’s president Buhari has struggled to definitely address the problem with his administration suffering corruption-related scandals of its own.  Quartz

 

 



Photo: Adam Jones