Africa Media Review for March 28, 2019

Algeria’s Ruling Coalition Partner Calls on President Bouteflika to Resign
The coalition ally of Algeria’s ruling party has called on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign, piling pressure on the ailing leader after the army chief demanded he be declared unfit on Tuesday, in a bid to defuse mass protests. This comes as Algerians await a decision from the country’s constitutional council on whether Bouteflika is indeed unable to carry out his presidential duties. In a statement signed by the leader of the National Rally for Democracy, recently sacked prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia said the party “recommends the resignation of the president… with the aim of smoothing the period of transition.”  RFI

Algeria Opposition Rejects Army Chief’s Proposed Road Map
A breakaway faction within Algeria’s ruling party has backed the army chief’s call for President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to be declared unfit to rule the country, even as several opposition parties and protesters denounced the powerful general’s remarks as an attempt to stifle their movement. Following weeks of youth-led anti-Bouteflika protests, Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah on Tuesday suggested that the Constitutional Council invoke Article 102, which could lead to Bouteflika’s impeachment on health grounds. “We call upon all National Liberation Front (FLN) activists to support General Gaid Salah’s proposal,” a group of dissident politicians within the party said in a statement on Wednesday.  Al Jazeera

Gambian Ex-President ‘Stole Almost $1Bn before Fleeing Country’
Yahya Jammeh, the former president of the Gambia, orchestrated the theft of almost $1bn (£760m) from his country before his flight into exile two years ago, investigative reporters have alleged. The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) said it had reviewed thousands of leaked documents that detailed how government funds had been looted over 22 years. Jammeh, a former military officer who seized power in a coup in 1994, fled into exile in early 2017 after losing an election. In December 2017, the Trump administration placed Jammeh under US sanctions for his “long history of engaging in serious human rights abuses and corruption”, including a torture and assassination squad called the Junglers that targeted Jammeh’s critics and political opponents.  The Guardian

Renegade General Shows the Perils in South Sudan Peace Plans
As South Sudan’s main combatants prepare to join forces to end a brutal five-year civil war, recent fighting involving a renegade military officer suggests the conflict may be far from over.Thousands of civilians have fled their homes in Yei state in the southwest of the country this year, witnesses to alleged murders, rape and looting as government troops battle an insurgency led by former Lieutenant-General Thomas Cirillo. Refusing to back a September peace deal signed by President Salva Kiir and main rebel chief Riek Machar, he accuses both of failing to address the personal and ethnic rivalries behind the war that’s claimed almost 400,000 lives. Bloomberg

South Sudan MP, Two Others Killed in Ambush
One South Sudanese lawmaker and two security personnel were killed in an ambush in the north-east of the country while returning from a peace mission, a ruling party spokesman said on Wednesday. South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been racked by civil war since 2013, when President Salva Kiir’s troops clashed with forces loyal to Riek Machar, the former vice president. Kiir, Machar and other rebel factions signed an accord last September, halting the fighting. Peter Lam Both, spokesman for Kiir’s SPLM party, said the incident had happened late on Tuesday when a group of lawmakers were attacked by fighters of the White Army militia in a village in Latjor state in a region formerly called Upper Nile.  Reuters

Security Council Extends Mandate of UN Mission in Somalia
The UN Security Council on Wednesday adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until March 31, 2020, Trend reports citing Xinhua . Under Resolution 2461, UNSOM will continue to provide strategic support and advice to the federal government of Somalia and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) on peacebuilding and state-building. The resolution requested UNSOM to maintain and strengthen its presence in all of the federal member states of Somalia. It underlined the importance of UNSOM’s political and technical support, as well as operational and logistical support, in collaboration with the UN Support Office in Somalia, to the federal government of Somalia for the delivery of “inclusive, peaceful, free and fair one-person-one-vote elections in 2020/2021.  Mena FM

Malta Armed Forces Seize Tanker Hijacked by Rescued Migrants
A Maltese special operations team Thursday boarded a tanker that had been hijacked by migrants it rescued at sea, and returned control to the captain, Malta’s armed forces said. The tanker was being escorted to a Maltese port, where the migrants will be turned over to police for investigation, they said. Authorities in Italy and Malta on Wednesday said that the migrants had hijacked the Turkish oil tanker El Hiblu 1 after it rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea, and forced the crew to put the Libya-bound vessel on a course north toward Europe. AP

‘Negative Forces’ at Work in DR Congo Threaten ‘Largely Peaceful’ Relations across Great Lakes Region, Says Outgoing UN Envoy
The UN’s outgoing Special Envoy for Africa’s Great Lakes region on Tuesday said countries there had made “important steps towards durable peace and stability” in the last 20 years, resulting in a region that is now “largely peaceful”. Said Djinnit, told the Security Council that “this progress notwithstanding, the continue presence of negative forces in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), perpetuates insecurity and mistrust between some countries.” He noted that allegations that some neighbouring countries had given support to some of the armed groups that operate with relative impunity in restive eastern DRC and across its borders, “continue to threaten cordial relations and stability”.  UN News

After Cyclone Idai, Bodies Litter Mozambique’s Fields, and the True Death Toll May Never Be Known
[…] Rains from the storm engorged rivers that burst and then relentlessly rose, turning into tsunamis that raced toward the sea, miles wide and taller than any building in their paths. The work of recovering bodies across this vast area has just begun, and the process is beset by seemingly insurmountable obstacles: Countless people were not just killed but washed great distances from their homes, where they came to rest in fields or in trees, or were eaten by crocodiles. And many of the dead have already been buried by villagers, without being identified first.  The Washington Post

SADC Wants Africa to Call the Shots on Western Sahara
South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have demanded a prominent role for the African Union (AU) in trying to end Morocco’s “illegal” occupation of Western Sahara and exploitation of its natural resources. This was agreed at a high-level SADC conference in solidarity with Western Sahara which ended in Pretoria on Tuesday. President Cyril Ramaphosa and several other heads of state and government, as well as other representatives, pledged support for the right to self-determination of the Saharawi people. “You stood by South Africa during the struggle for our own liberation, and today you are here to affirm your solidarity with the Saharawi people in their quest for self-determination,” Ramaphosa said.  Daily Maverick

Indian Army Wrapping up Exercise with African Militaries
The Indian Army is about to conclude its ten-day inaugural Africa-India Field Training Exercise with 17 African nations, which comes as part of India’s efforts to improve military cooperation with African states. The exercise started with an opening ceremony on 18 March at the Aundh Military Station in Pune, India. Contingents from 17 African Nations (Benin, Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) came together alongside a contingent of Maratha Light Infantry representing India. There are also observers from Rwanda, Congo and Madagascar. DefenseWeb

10 Civilians Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Attack in Niger Town
At least 10 people have been killed in a coordinated attack by suspected Boko Haram suicide bombers and gunmen on a town in eastern Niger, according to the local mayor. The attack took place late on Tuesday in N’Guigmi, which lies in the north of the Diffa region, near Lake Chad, an area that bore the brunt of cross-border infiltration by the Nigerian-based armed group. “Two female suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen then attacked civilians,” Abba Kaya Issa, the mayor of N’Guigmi, told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.  Al Jazeera

Violence and Fraud in Nigeria’s Gubernatorial Elections
All Rukayya Abba wanted to do on March 23 was cast her vote. But the scene she came across in the village of Bichi quickly made her change her mind. “There were armed thugs everywhere,” she said. “We didn’t vote because we were afraid of getting killed.” There were similar stories from other parts of Kano state, from people who had also wanted to take part in the postponed governorship elections. The two-week postponement affected 128,000 people in 28 administrative districts. It appears that many of them were deliberately prevented from taking part, like Rukayya Abba. “Thousands of thugs, armed with machetes, cudgels and other weapons, including knives, were surrounding each of the polling units, threatening people and finally forcing a change of results by taking over the electoral process,” Jibrin Ibrahim, an election observer with the NGO Center for Democracy and Development, told DW. Deutsche Welle

Liberian Rebel Leader Alieu Kosiah to Face Swiss Trial
After nearly five years of investigation, the Swiss Attorney General has indicted Liberian former rebel leader Alieu Kosiah for war crimes during his country’s conflict and referred his case for trial. “The defendant is accused of having ordered the murder respectively murdering or participating in the murder of civilians and soldiers hors de combat, desecrated a corpse of a civilian, raped a civilian, ordered the cruel treatment of civilians, recruited and employed a child soldier, ordered several pillages and ordered and/or participated in forced transports of goods and ammunition by civilians,” said a statement released by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) on Tuesday. The crimes were allegedly committed between 1993 and 1995. Swiss Info

Al-Bashir Won’t Head Sudan’s Delegation to Arab Summit in Tunisia
Sudan’s First Vice-President Awad Ibn Ouf would head the country’s delegation to the Arab League summit in Tunisia, said Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed The Arab leaders are set to meet in Tunisia on 31 March where the Arab League will hold its 30th annual summit. The meeting is the first to take place in the North African country since the fall down of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime. The announcement came following media reports that President Omer al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes would head Sudan’s delegation to the summit.  Sudan Tribune

Murder of Former French Spy Hampers Investigation into Congo-Brazza Assassination Attempt
A former French intelligence agent implicated in a plan to assassinate a Congolese dissident has been found murdered. Daniel Forestier’s body was discovered on 21 March in Ballaison, near the Swiss border, riddled with bullets, according to reports in the French media. Forestier had been charged last September with being involved with a plan to assassinate Ferdinand Mbaou, an opponent of Denis Sassou-Nguesso, president of Congo Brazzaville.  RFI

Pope to Visit 3 African Nations in September
The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will visit the African countries of Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius from Sept. 4-10. The Vatican said on Wednesday that Francis will visit the capitals: Maputo in Mozambique, Antananarivo in Madagascar and Port Louis in Mauritius. The Holy See gave no other details, saying they would be divulged in due time. The Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said in a national address on Wednesday that the pope’s visit would be “an inspiration and an encouragement” to help “rebuild a prosperous, united and peaceful” nation.  VOA

More than a Third of Gold Mines in Congo Exposed to Ebola — Report
A World Health Organization study shows that over 35% of the gold mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at risk of being affected by the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the country, which is the world’s top cobalt producer and a significant copper and gold producer. The DRC generates more than 60% of the world’s cobalt, a key material for making the batteries that power electric cars. The number of people infected with the often fatal virus has now exceeded 1,000 cases, the World Health Organization confirmed, making it the second-worst outbreak in history, with daily rates on the rise as response workers continue to face violence.  Mining.com



Photo: Adam Jones