Africa Media Review for March 27, 2019

Algeria Army Urges Removal of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika
Algeria’s army chief of staff has demanded President Abdelaziz Bouteflika be declared unfit to rule after weeks of protests against him. Speaking on television, Lt Gen Ahmed Gaed Salah said: “We must find a way out of this crisis immediately, within the constitutional framework.” The president has already agreed not to stand for a fifth term in upcoming elections, which have been delayed. Demonstrators accuse the 82-year-old of a ploy to prolong his 20-year rule. Talks have been set up to oversee the country’s political transition, draft a new constitution and set the date for elections. But they do not yet have a date to start. BBC

Comoros President Wins Discredited Vote with 60.77%
Incumbent president Azali Assoumani of Comoros was on Tuesday declared winner of the presidential election, even as the opposition rejected the electoral outcome as fraudulent. The electoral body CENI said in a statement Assoumani had won 60.77 percent in Sunday’s vote. The runner up, Ahamada Mahamoudou, one of 12 opposition candidates, received 14.62 percent. Assoumani’s victory with more than 50 percent of the vote ensured he avoided a second round against a single opponent. The results had initially been scheduled for release on Monday, when police used tear gas to disperse opposition demonstrators protesting against the vote. Reuters

Togo: Internal Squabbles Cause Opposition to Crumble
Afiwa Yogue sells material for a living in Togo’s capital, Lome, and is disillusioned with the West African country’s opposition leaders. “We walked for months under the hot sun and sometimes in the rain, hoping to bring about the end of the regime,” the 34-year-old trader told AFP. “But we were deceived, as the leaders of the opposition only fight among themselves. We’re tired of them.” A coalition of 14 opposition parties came together more than 18 months ago to protest against the government of President Faure Gnassingbe. […] Seven of the 14 parties have since left the coalition, including the Panafrican National Party (PNP) of Tikpi Atchadam, the driving force behind the initial protests. The National Alliance for Change (ANC) of opposition stalwart Jean-Pierre Fabre and the Action Committee for Renewal (CAR) of ex-premier Yawovi Agboyibo have followed. They have complained about the direction the group was taking. AFP

Ghana Parliament Passes Right to Information Law after Long Delays
Ghana’s parliament has passed into law the Right To Information, RTI, bill, as at Tuesday evening according to an influential local media outlet, the Multimedia Group. The bill which is meant to allow citizens access to a certain category of information in order to hold government accountable has been the subject of a series of protests especially from the media and civil society groups. They accused lawmakers of deliberately delaying the passage of the law because of their own selfish interests. On their part, the lawmakers have argued that the bill needed fine-tuning in areas especially bordering on national security.  Africa News

Where Is the Islamic State Group Still Active around the World?
[…] Data collected by BBC Monitoring shows that despite having lost most of its territory in Syria and Iraq at the end of 2017, IS said it was behind 3,670 attacks worldwide last year – an average of 11 attacks per day – and 502 attacks in the first two months of 2019, while Baghuz was under siege. […] Although Iraq and Syria continue to account for the lion’s share of IS attack claims, Afghanistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Nigeria and Egypt’s Sinai peninsula also feature regularly. BBC

UN to Probe ‘Horrific’ Mali Attacks as Death Toll Jumps to 160
The United Nations has sent a team of investigators to Mali’s restive Mopti region, where more than 150 people were killed this weekend, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. The raid took place on Saturday in the village of Ogossagou, home to the Fulani herding community, near the town of Mopti in central Mali. Local officials and security sources told AFP news agency that the death toll had climbed to 160, while the UN rights office said at least 153 people were killed and 73 were wounded. The “horrific attacks” marked a “significant” surge in “violence across communal lines and by so-called ‘self-defence groups’ apparently attempting to root out violent extremist groups”, said Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UN rights office.  Al Jazeera

Mali’s Security Crisis: A Cycle of Exploitation and Corruption
The brutal massacre over the weekend of 154 Fulani men, women and children in central Mali once again drew the world’s attention to a once peaceful state now dogged by ongoing violence. The massacre took place as a delegation from the United Nations Security Council visited the unstable Sahel region to assess the security situation amid the threat of Islamic extremist groups. Despite the ongoing presence of international observers, Mali’s seven-year-long security crisis — which was sparked by the Tuareg rebellion of 2012 in the country’s north — shows little sign of abating. The reasons for the conflict are complex but are ultimately linked to a persistent cycle of exploitation, corruption and violence. Deutsche Welle

Kenya Plans to Close World’s Biggest Refugee Camp Dadaab: Document
Kenya plans to shutter the world’s largest refugee camp, home to nearly a quarter of a million people, in the next few months, according to an internal UN document seen by AFP Tuesday. The three-decade-old Dadaab camp in eastern Kenya, which shelters mostly Somalis, would be closed by the end of August under the Kenyan plan, it said. A United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) document dated February 28 said the Kenyan government had sent a note verbale informing it of “plans to close the Dadaab camps within a six-month period”. The note, which was dated February 19, asked UNHCR “to expedite relocation of the refugees and asylum-seekers residing therein.”  The East Africa

U.S. Supreme Court Backs Sudan in USS Cole Bombing Lawsuit
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday prevented American sailors injured in the deadly 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the Navy destroyer USS Cole from collecting $314.7 million in damages from the government of Sudan for its alleged role in the attack. In a 8-1 decision, the justices overturned a lower court’s decision that had allowed the sailors to collect the damages from certain banks that held Sudanese assets. The decision represented a major victory for Sudan, which denies that it provided any support to the al Qaeda militant group for the attack in Yemen. Sudan was backed by President Donald Trump’s administration in the case. Reuters

EU Weighs up Awkward Migration Compromise on Mediterranean Mission
The European Union on Tuesday was considering extending air patrols to search for migrants crossing the Mediterranean but withdrawing ships that could save them, a change in policy that reflects Europe’s growing aversion to irregular arrivals. The agreement would greatly weaken Operation Sophia’s role in saving lives in the sea where nearly 2,300 people perished last year, according to the United Nations. Italy, under the influence of the anti-migration deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini, has said it would no longer be the main point of disembarkation for people picked up from the water by Operation Sophia ships. Germany and other EU states are also not keen on hosting the people – most of whom are fleeing wars and poverty in Africa and the Middle East – but they do want the mission to continue.  Reuters

African Migration: Five Things We’ve Learnt
More than one in three Africans have considered emigrating, researchers for Afrobarometer say. Their continent-wide survey also found that young and educated people were more likely than others to want to leave their home country. For those who do leave, it is not to Europe or North America that most go to, but another African country. Here are five key things we have learnt from the report. “Looking for work” and “escaping poverty and economic hardship” were the biggest factors for wanting to emigrate in almost all of the 34 countries surveyed, accounting for 44% and 29% respectively. Having family and loved ones abroad could influence that decision too. BBC

In Diplomatic First, DRC’s Tshisekedi Lays Wreath at Rwanda Memorial
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Monday paid tribute at a genocide memorial on the sidelines of an economic forum in Rwanda, a highly symbolic gesture in bilateral relations badly hobbled by the 1994 bloodbath. The Twitter account of the genocide memorial published a video of Tshisekedi, who was elected in January, laying a wreath at the memorial in Kigali, a diplomatic first. The gesture came ahead of the 25th anniversary on April 1 of the start of the massacre, in which at least 800,000 people — mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus—were killed in 100 days. After the carnage, many of the men who carried out the massacres fled into eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, destabilising the region to this day. AFP

Tshisekedi’s Shuttle Diplomacy Heads to US after Visits to 6 African Nations
Democratic Republic of Congo’s new President Felix Tshisekedi is scheduled to visit the United States of America, in what will be his first diplomatic visit outside the continent, from April 3 to 5. The spokesperson of the State Department Robert Palladino on Tuesday said Tshisekedi will hold meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior cabinet officials in the Trump administration. “We share President Tshisekedi’s interest in developing a strong partnership between the United States and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” Palladino told a briefing. It was not immediately clear whether he will meet with President Donald Trump. Africa News

Tunisian President Accused of Complicity in Torture
An independent commission set up to investigate crimes by the Tunisian state has accused President Beji Caid Essebsi of complicity in torture and his predecessor Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of corruption. A report by the Instance Verité et Dignité (IVD), or Truth and Dignity Commission, details the 92-year-old Essebsi’s alleged responsibility for crimes committed while serving as a minister in the regime of Habib Bourguiba. It also alleges extensive corruption by the former president Ben Ali, his extended family and wider network, including the misuse of public funds, and human rights violations including enforced disappearances and torture committed under his rule. Tunisian authorities have frequently attempted to impede the work of the Truth and Dignity Commission since its creation in 2013. It is tasked with exposing decades of crimes committed between the last year of French rule in 1955 and the 2011 uprising that overthrew Ben Ali.  The Guardian

Major New Inquiry into Oil Spills in Nigeria’s Niger Delta Launched
A major new inquiry into oil companies operating in the Niger Delta has been launched by the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. The probe will investigate “environmental and human damage” in Nigeria’s vast oil fields. “This Commission will investigate the human and environmental impact of multinational oil company activity and is crucial to the prosperous future of the people of Bayelsa and their environment, Nigeria and hopefully to other oil-producing nations,” he said. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer. The country’s crude oil production — estimated at over 300 million liters per day — makes up 70 percent of the Nigerian government’s revenue. This new commission, convened by Bayelsa Governor Seriake Dickson, says that it wants to make oil companies in the region more accountable.  CNN

Is China’s Fishing Fleet Taking All of West Africa’s Fish? (Video)
The BBC investigates illegal and unsustainable fishing off the west coast of Africa to find out how one of the most fertile ecosystems on earth has been pushed to the brink.  BBC

Activists in France Prevent Auction of African Artefacts
The auction of 40 artefacts taken from the ancient kingdom of Dahomey during a French military campaign in the 19th century, and then kept as part of a private collection for decades in France, was cancelled following a dramatic intervention by African activists in the city of Nantes. The objects are set to be returned to Benin. What started out as a regular sale at the “Salorges enchères” auction house in the northwest city of Nantes turned into a public debate about pros and cons of returning artefacts taken out of Africa during France’s colonial era. While the auctioneers were busy preparing the 40 artefacts mainly consisting of spears and battle axes from the ancient kingdom of Dahomey, Thomas Bouli, president of Afrique Loire, was working out how best to prevent the sale from going ahead.  RFI



Photo: Adam Jones