Africa Media Review for March 5, 2018

Jihadist Group Claims Attacks on French Interests in Burkina Faso
The jihadist Group to Support Islam and Muslims (JSIM) has claimed responsibility for the twin attacks in Burkina Faso, in a message cited Saturday by Mauritania’s Al-Akhbar news agency. The group, led by the Malian jihadist Iyad Ag Ghaly, said it carried out the attacks on the French embassy and Burkina Faso’s military HQ in the capital Ouagadougou on Friday, which left eight soldiers dead. JSIM said it took the action in response to the deaths of some of its leaders “in a French army raid in northern Mali two weeks ago,” the private news agency reported. According to French military sources, some 20 jihadists were “killed or captured” on that occasion. RFI

Brazen Burkina Faso Attacks Raise Concern of Growing Threat
Burkina Faso’s leaders urged vigilance on Saturday, a day after brazen Islamic extremist attacks on the army headquarters and French Embassy in the capital, which killed eight people. An al-Qaeda-linked group based in neighboring Mali claimed responsibility for the assaults. It was the third attack on Ouagadougou in just over two years and it was aimed directly at the army’s central command and the heavily guarded embassy, raising concerns that extremists are growing bolder in their assaults on the West African nation. The attack on the army headquarters narrowly missed a conference of top military leaders, indicating the extremists may have had inside information. Previous extremist attacks had been on soft targets of restaurants which caused a greater loss of civilian lives. AP

UN Experts Warn of Intensified Terrorist Threats in Sahel
U.N. experts monitoring the implementation of sanctions on Mali are warning that the conflict-wracked West African nation and its neighbors “face intensified terrorist threats,” especially in the border area between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The experts’ interim report said the militant group calling itself the official al-Qaida branch in Mali and the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara extremist group have declared that “jihadist groups are working together” to fight a new 5,000-troop African force charged with fighting extremists in western Africa’s vast Sahel region. Their report to the Security Council sanctions committee was obtained Friday by The Associated Press, the same day Islamic extremists opened fire on the French Embassy and army headquarters in Burkina Faso’s capital. AP

DR Congo Violence: Dozens Killed in Ituri Province
More than 33 people have been killed in a fresh outbreak of ethnic violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities say. Unrest broke out between the Hema and Lendu communities in the north-eastern province of Ituri. A UN-sponsored broadcaster said the assailants were eventually forced back by security forces. More than 100 people have been killed by violence in the province since mid-December. The unrest between the Hema cattle herders and Lendu farmers of the Ituri region is one of several conflicts in DR Congo which have produced a huge amount of refugees and internally displaced people over the past two years. BBC

Museveni Fires Police Boss Kayihura, Security Minister Tumukunde
Gen Elly Tumwine a bush war hero who fired the first shot of the NRA war has been appointed as the new minister of Security while Okoth Ochola is the new Inspector-General of Police (IGP). Ochola will be deputised by Brig Sabiiti Muzeyi, the former head of Military Police who was appointed last year following his stint as deputy Commander of Special Forces. Kayihura, a self-confessed ruling NRM party cadre has been the longest serving IGP; having been appointed in 2005. Museveni reappointed him to the position in May 2017 for at least another three years. Tumukunde was appointed security minister in July 2016. During their reign, the country has witnessed unprecedented spate of criminality in the country with murders, kidnaps, armed robberies on the increase in Wakiso, Masaka, Gulu, Mukono. The Observer, Uganda

Troop Contributing Countries Disagree with UN, Donors on Amisom Withdrawal
Eleven years after the first boots landed on Somali soil to pacify the troubled Horn of Africa country, a major disagreement between the main troop contributing countries and the Somali National Army and the international community on the other has arisen. This comes after the UN and Western countries that fund the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) are pushing for a systematic withdrawal, arguing that the Somali National Army (SNA), which has undergone training and rebuilding since 2012, has built reasonable strength of 12,000 active personnel capable of defending the country against the Al Shabaab insurgency. The SNA leadership has worked closely with troop contributing countries and was initially sceptical of the push to withdraw Amisom. The East African

2 U.N. Staffers among 11 Killed in Boko Haram Attack in Nigeria
The U.N.’s migration agency said Friday that two of its staffers were among 11 people killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants on a military base in northeastern Nigeria. The International Organization for Migration said “a large number” of Boko Haram members attacked the base in Rann, in Borno state, a day earlier with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and gun trucks. At a U.N. briefing in Geneva, agency spokesman Joel Millman said the two staffers, Ibrahim Lawan and Yawe Emmanuel, were among three humanitarian workers killed. Four soldiers and four mobile police also died, and another three humanitarian workers were injured. AP

Aid Group Pulls Out of Nigerian Town Following Deadly Suspected Boko Haram Attack
After suspected Boko Haram militants launched a brutal attack in the town of Rann in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno State Thursday, killing several people including aid workers, Doctors Without Borders has pulled out of the town. The departure is sure to be a blow to the tens of thousands of displaced people living in a nearby camp. “Prior to the attack, the roughly 40,000 people living in Rann were relying almost entirely on MSF’s services to access health care,” the group (also known by its French name, Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) said in a statement. “Leaving our patients, which include 60 children currently enrolled in our nutrition program, without medical assistance, is an extremely painful decision,” said the group’s Emergency Coordinator in Nigeria Kerri Ann Kelly. Doctors Without Borders says it will return as soon as conditions allow. NPR

In Nigeria, Pressure Mounts on President to Bow Out of Race
The calls for him to quit were already loud, coming from two former presidents, a prominent pastor and newspaper editorials. Even Catholic bishops weighed in with criticism. Now, the president of Nigeria is facing a new crisis: the mass kidnapping of 110 girls from their school late last month, prompting another wave of outrage at the government. The pressure is mounting on President Muhammadu Buhari to step down after his first term expires next year. A diverse range of Nigerians have joined the chorus, and while the presidential vote is still almost a year away, campaign season in Nigeria is in full swing. Billboards have popped up in parts of the country and election news dominates the headlines. Nigeria’s Constitution allows Mr. Buhari to seek a second term, but already his opponents and former allies are piling on. Even his wife has emerged as a detractor of sorts, using social media to post video clips of politicians criticizing her husband’s presidency. The New York Times

At Least 4 Soldiers, 10 Jihadists Killed in Egypt Sinai Campaign
Egypt’s military said on Sunday four soldiers and 10 jihadists were killed in a military operation in Sinai against Islamic State group jihadists. The deaths raise military casualties to at least 16 dead, along with more than 100 jihadists, since the start of the operation on February 9, according to previous army tolls. The army launched the campaign after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is standing in elections for his second term this month, gave them a three month deadline to crush IS in Sinai. Sisi issued his ultimatum in November after suspected Islamic State gunmen massacred more than 300 worshippers in a Sinai mosque associated with Muslim Sufi mystics. IS in Sinai has been among the group’s most resilient affiliates, killing hundreds of soldiers, policemen and civilians in Sinai and elsewhere in Egypt. AFP

Saudi’s Powerful Crown Prince Visits Egypt
Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince has arrived in Egypt for a visit meant to deepen the alliance between two of the region’s powerhouses. Soon after Prince Mohammed bin Salman touched down in Cairo Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s office also said “regional issues” and Egypt’s fight against Islamic militants were discussed by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump. Saudi Arabia has given generous financial and political support to el-Sissi since he led the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. Egypt is a member of a Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-backed Shiite rebels in Yemen. Last year, el-Sissi ratified the handover of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, triggering rare protests in Egypt. AP

Need a North Korean Missile? Call the Cairo Embassy
[…] Egypt has purchased North Korean weapons and allowed North Korean diplomats to use their Cairo embassy as a base for military sales across the region, American and United Nations officials say. Those transactions earned vital hard cash for North Korea, but they violated international sanctions and drew the ire of Egypt’s main military patron, the United States, which cut or suspended $291 million in military aid in August. Tensions may bubble up again in the coming weeks with the publication of a United Nations report that contains new information about the cargo of a rusty North Korean freighter intercepted off the coast of Egypt in 2016. The ship was carrying 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades worth an estimated $26 million. The report, due to be released this month, identifies the customer for the weapons as an arm of the Arab Organization for Industrialization, Egypt’s main state weapons conglomerate. Mr. Sisi heads the committee that oversees the group. The New York Times

Under a New State of Emergency, Ethiopia Is on the Brink of Crisis, Again
It was while he was in prison that Ethiopian opposition politician Bekele Gerba first sensed change happening in the world outside. The television news from his native Oromia region had broken from the official line and was suddenly reporting on the unrest flaring around the country. Soon after, he was released along with more than 6,000 others, most of them imprisoned for political activity, in what the government said was an effort “to establish a national consensus and widen the political sphere.” Within days of Gerba’s rapturous welcome home on Feb. 13, however, the prime minister resigned and a state of emergency was declared to restore “law and order.” Now Ethiopia appears to be on the brink of the biggest political crisis since the communist regime was overthrown in 1991. “There is a huge change in this country, especially the region we live in, the Oromia state,” said Gerba, from his home city of Adama, where people kept stopping him to pose for selfies. “We feel that some kind of air of freedom is here, but this is regarded by the federal government as a threat.” The Washington Post

Dispute over Ethiopia Emergency Rule Vote after Footage Posted Online
Footage of an Ethiopian parliamentary session posted online on Saturday appeared to contradict official reports of the number of votes cast to validate the state of emergency, though government officials dismissed the discrepancy as a mistake. On Friday, the House of People’s Representatives held an emergency session on state of emergency legislation imposed on Feb. 16, a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn’s surprise resignation. The state-run Ethiopian News Agency said on Friday that 395 lawmakers voted in favour of the bill, putting the government comfortably within the two-thirds majority needed to validate the state of emergency, which bans demonstrations and restricts publications that could incite violence. But footage made public by the privately-owned Addis Standard news website showed parliamentary speaker Abadula Gemeda stating at the end of the session that 346 parliamentarians had voted in favour. Reuters

Cameroon Appoints Top Anglophones in Sweeping Cabinet Change
Cameroonian President Paul Biya announced a government change late Friday, creating a new ministry and appointing two officials from the nation’s Anglophone regions to top positions in an apparent bid to address a secessionist crisis in the central African nation. Biya, 85, established a Ministry of Decentralization and Local Development and named Paul Atanga Nji, who hails from the restive Northwest region, as minister of territorial administration, according to a government statement read on state radio late Friday. Another Anglophone official, Pauline Nalova Lyonga Egbe, will lead the Ministry of Secondary Education, the statement said. Biya is Africa’s second-longest serving head of state. Bloomberg

Juba Wants to Try UN Sex Offenders
South Sudan wants the UN peacekeepers accused of sexual offences in Wau town to be tried by the local court. Foreign ministry official John Andruga urged the UN office in Juba not to smuggle out the culprits accused of abusing the trust of innocent women and girls inside the protection camp in Wau (west of Juba) last month. “The case of the sexual offences committed by the UN police should opened in Wau town where the crime happened and the victims are based,” Mr Duku said. “Justice must be done to the women and the people of Wau,” he said. Mr Duku said the South Sudan government was in contact with the victims of the sexual offences. A complaint was received on February 8 alleging that the UN police officers in Wau had committed sexual offences against the women and girls residing inside the local UN civilians’ protection camp. The East African

Fewer Migrants Enter Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, Says UN Agency
In the first two months of this year, 10,243 migrants entered Europe via the Mediterranean Sea, compared with 17,438 during the same time in 2017, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM). This year, roughly half of migrants attempting to reach Europe by seaarrived in Italy, with the remainder reaching the shores of Greece andSpain. The IOM says 418 people have been recorded missing or dead so far this year. At the height of the refugee crisis in Europe in 2016, more than 5,000 people died trying to reach Europe by sea alone. Read more: German school system is failing refugees In February 2016, there had already been 116,005 arrivals by the end of February. In April that year, the Balkan countries closed their borders, making it harder for migrants to get to Europe. Deutsche Welle

Cannabis, Glue and Alcohol: Ingredients of Morocco’s Violent Drug
A new drug is swarming the streets of Morocco. Locally called Karkoubi, the drug has now, more than ever, become a national concern. The pill is a dangerous mix of cheap psychotropic drugs, cannabis, alcohol and even glue. It sells cheap, only two Moroccan dirhams, making it 250 times cheaper than a gram of cocaine. For this reason, Karkoubi has been called the drug for the poor. Since users get disillusioned to feel invincible, the drug is mostly known for its sinister side effect, violence. It has been the leading cause behind rising crime among Moroccan youth. Statistics show that 80% of arrests are Karboubi related. Five percent of Moroccans have taken the drug in Casablanca alone, while 45% of young people between 12 and 35 said they used Karkoubi. Al Arabiya



Photo: Adam Jones