Africa Media Review for March 27, 2018

Addis Ababa Arrests Activists Violating ‘Gathering’ Ban
Ethiopian security forces have re-arrested a number of recently freed politicians and journalists as they gathered for a social event outside the capital with family and friends, a lawyer said on Monday. Amha Mekonnen has represented a number of the detainees. The lawyer told the Associated Press news agency the arrests 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.” Among those arrested are journalists Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, politician Andualem Aragie and prominent blogger Befekadu Hailu. … Under Ethiopia’s latest state of emergency declared earlier this year, people are prohibited from such gatherings without authorities’ prior knowledge. Al Jazeera

Three Killed, 4 Injured in Heavy Battle in Southern Somalia
At least three people are reported to have been killed and 4 others wounded in heavy clashes between Somali government forces and Al Shabaab militants in southern Somalia. The fighting broke out on the outskirts of Goofgaduud village, located about 35Km north of Baidoa city after Somali troops backed by Ethiopian soldiers attacked Al-Shabab customs base. The warring sides exchanged heavy and small weaponry during the combat that left 3 people from both sides dead and wounded four others, according to the local residents. The situation has returned to normal following the gunfight with reports that the allied forces have managed to flush out the militants from the area. Radio Shabelle

Sierra Leone Postpones Runoff Vote until Saturday
Sierra Leone’s Supreme Court on Monday approved the election commission’s request to delay Tuesday’s runoff presidential vote until the weekend after the lifting of an interim injunction that had stalled preparations. The commission applied for more time once the West African nation’s high court vacated the injunction that was granted Saturday after a member of the ruling party filed a petition citing irregularities in the first round on March 7. The opposition called the petition a delay tactic. The runoff election is now set for Saturday. Tensions have risen in the nation of 7 million people after neither the ruling All Peoples Congress party candidate nor the leading opposition candidate won the first round outright. The opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party, which took 43.3 percent to the ruling party’s 42.7 in the first round, has not held the presidency since 2007. VOA

Congo Says It Rejects Foreign Aid to Fund Elections
Democratic Republic of Congo said on Monday it would refuse international financing for a long-delayed presidential election and fund the poll itself, saying donors’ conditions amounted to “foreign interference”. The United States and European countries have expressed concern about the electoral commission’s plans to use 100,000 new electronic voting machines, saying the system is untested and could allow fraud. … Only a fraction of expected international contributions have been disbursed as donors await clarification from authorities about how the vote will be conducted, including whether the commission will follow through on the plans to use the machines. Reuters

Catholic Church Plays Leading Role in Congo Protests
The Catholic Church has played a central role in the effort to make Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila step down and hold elections. Twice in recent months clergy have organized mass protests. The marches have sparked violence and casualties, but protesters say more demonstrations are coming. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Kinshasa. VOA

Egypt Holds 2nd Day of Presidential Election; Outcome Known
Egyptians are voting for a second day in a lackluster election that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is virtually certain to win after all serious rivals were either arrested or intimidated into dropping out of the balloting. Voters can choose between al-Sisi, the general-turned-president who came to power after ousting in 2013 his elected but divisive Islamist predecessor, Mohammed Morsi, and an obscure politician who registered at the last minute and says he doesn’t oppose al-Sisi’s policies, Moussa Mustafa Moussa. With the outcome known, al-Sisi’s focus will be on keeping voter turnout high enough to show citizens support his rule. News24

Thousands Displaced by Boko Haram Languish in Abuja IDP Camps
It’s a few minutes past 9am and Sunana Ibrahim Wariga’s daily struggle is just beginning. Wariga, a stocky 56-year old, is one of thousands who call Durumi camp in the capital home. He escaped the deadly Boko Haram rebellion in his home state of Borno more than three years ago. “I used to be a farmer in Chinene village. They attacked my village and seized all my harvest. What they could not carry they burned,” the husband of two wives told Al Jazeera, as children in school uniforms played nearby. … The eight-year campaign of violence by Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “Western education is forbidden”, has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced about 2.6 million others. Despite the government’s military offensive against the armed group, which wants to establish a strict interpretation of Islamic law, Boko Haram has continued to carry out deadly attacks in northern Nigeria. Al Jazeera

Sudan, Qatar Ink $4 Billion Deal to Develop Suakin Seaport
Sudan and Qatar on Monday signed a $4-billion agreement to develop the former Ottoman port city of Suakin in northeastern Sudan. “The agreement was signed in line with instructions of the leadership in both countries on the necessity to boost joint cooperation in the fields of transport and communications,” Sudanese Transport Minister Makkawi Awad told reporters. “We seek to establish twinship between the ports of Suakin and Hamad” in Qatar, he said. The cost of the project’s first phase amounts to $500 million and will be completed by 2020. On Sunday, Sudan unveiled the agreement to develop the Red Sea port, following talks with Qatari Minister of Transport Jassim bin Saif al-Sulaiti in Khartoum. According to Awad, Khartoum will get 51 percent of the project’s returns while Doha will receive 49 percent. “This project aims to get the Suakin port play its vital economic role as a gateway to Africa,” he said. The port of Suakin is Sudan’s second largest port after Port Sudan in northeastern Sudan. Daily Sabah

Juba Warns Off Khartoum over Border Military Build-Up
South Sudan has warned off Sudan for allegedly deploying troops at Kuek in Northern Upper Nile State. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesman, Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang, said the army in Juba was aware of the heavy presence of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) along the common border. He said the Sudanese forces were moving with their heavy equipment along Kuek border, adding that there was no reason provided for the movement. The movement, Brig Koang noted, was unusual and could be viewed as a security threat to the government in Juba. … South Sudan and Sudan have signed multiple pacts to cease border tensions in 2012, but there has been zero commitment to the agreements. The two countries have also been exchanging allegations of rebels support from both sides since the split of the Sudan in 2011. The East African

Somali Refugees Not Yet Free To Move About In The Region
Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Djibouti, and Yemen — home to about 900,000 Somali refugees — are still struggling to ease movement of refugees, integrate them into national development programmes and give them access to services and jobs. This is mainly because international partners that support the Nairobi Action Plan created in March last year, are constrained by funding other programmes elsewhere, among them security and environmental degradation. European Union Special Representative in the Horn of Africa, Alex Rondos, said that much as the economic bloc has provided 400 million euros for the 2017/2018 period, this is but a complementary. “Supporting education for refugees and self-reliance programmes are fundamental in averting radicalisation, but the region must address the root causes of forced displacement,” said Mr Rondos. Radio Shabelle

No International Travel for Son of Former Angolan President
Angolan authorities have barred the son of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos from leaving the country over fraud charges. Mr José Filomeno dos Santos is at the centre of the suspect transfer of $500 million from the Angolan sovereign fund, which he once headed. The money was allegedly transferred from the Angolan Reserve Bank to the Credit Suisse Bank in the UK. … President João Lourenço in January sacked his predecessor’s son as the head of the strategic $5 billion sovereign fund. Mr Filomeno dos Santos was replaced by Mr Carlos Alberto Lopes, a former Finance minister. Mr José Eduardo dos Santos appointed his eldest son as president of the Fundo Soberano de Angola in 2013 soon after its creation in October 2012. The East African

Mali’s PM Tackles Terrorism, Farmer–Herder Clashes
Mali’s prime minister promised the creation of specialist anti-terrorism prosecutors on Monday on a visit to the country’s restive centre, along with a disarmament campaign for militias operating in the area. Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga is on a tour of Mali’s most dangerous regions after being appointed in December to bolster security ahead of a presidential election in July. “We will soon set up a special judicial section to investigate and judge terrorist crimes,” Maiga said in Bandiagara, a former tourist destination abandoned by foreign visitors after the rise of a jihadist insurgency. Mali’s unrest stems from a 2012 Tuareg separatist uprising against the state, which was exploited by jihadists in order to take over key cities in the north. News24

South Africa’s Zuma in Court on April 6 on Graft Charges
Former South African president Jacob Zuma is set to appear in court on April 6 to face corruption charges, police said Monday. Zuma is accused of taking kickbacks before he became president in 2009 from the $5 billion purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and military equipment manufactured by five European firms. He resigned on February 14 when the ruling African National Congress party turned against him after a nine-year reign scarred by corruption allegations, an economic slowdown and diminished popularity. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones