Africa Media Review for March 6, 2019

Rwanda Accuses Uganda of Supporting Rebels
Rwanda on Tuesday accused Uganda of supporting rebel groups opposed to President Paul Kagame’s government, amid a resurgence of hostility between the African neighbours. Relations between the two nations soured last week after Rwanda blocked Ugandan cargo trucks from entering its territory at the busiest crossing point, Katuna, and barred its nationals from crossing into Uganda. Officials in Kigali say they have directed trucks to another border point 100 km (60 miles) away, but hundreds of them are still stuck at the frontier. Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera accused Uganda of offering succour to two foreign-based Rwanda rebel groups – Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).  Reuters

Uhuru, Somalia President Hold Talks Over Maritime Border Dispute
President Uhuru Kenyatta and Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo on Wednesday held a meeting over the Indian Ocean boundary dispute. The meeting was chaired by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Nairobi. In a Tweet after the meeting, Abiy said both countries have agreed to work towards peace and to take measures in addressing issues that escalated the tensions. Abiy last week held a raft of shuttle diplomatic meetings separately with presidents Uhuru and Farmaajo. Uhuru was on Mar 1-2 invited for a two-day visit in Addis Ababa, where, together with his host, attended the Ethiopia-Kenya trade and investment forum and the inauguration of Debre Birhan Industrial Park. “I joined Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali of Ethiopia for the official opening of a two-day Kenya-Ethiopia high-level trade forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  The Star

Terror Attacks on the Rise in Mali: UN
Security is worsening in Mali with terror attacks on the rise, targeting UN peacekeepers, Malian troops, international forces and civilians, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned in a report on Tuesday. The threat from extremist groups has spread from northern Mali to the center of the West African country, complicating efforts to implement a peace deal with armed groups. “Despite significant international efforts, the security situation has continued to deteriorate with an increase in the number of terrorist attacks,” said Guterres in the report sent to the Security Council. In 2018, there were 237 terror attacks, up from 226 in 2017 and 183 the previous year, said the report. The Security Council is planning to visit Mali this month for a closer look at the conflict as it faces a June deadline to extend the mandate of the 14,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping force deployed there. AFP

UN Warns Humanitarian Crisis Unfolding in Burkina Faso
The United Nations warned Tuesday that “an unprecedented humanitarian emergency” is developing in Burkina Faso, which has seen a surge in terrorist attacks and intercommunal violence. “Thousands of families continue to flee due to persistent insecurity,” said U.N. deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller, who just wrapped up a four-day visit to the West African country. “Burkina Faso authorities and humanitarian actors have quickly provided assistance. However, more has to be done to meet growing needs of the affected people wherever they may be,” she said. “I urge all actors to respect the neutrality of aid workers and do their utmost to ensure the protection of communities.”  VOA

Chad Closes Its Border with Libya
Chad’s government announced that it has shut its border with Libya until further notice. In a televised statement on Sunday, Chadian Minster of Security said that the decision was aimed at preventing Chadian rebels and terrorists from entering his country. The move by Chad comes at a time of military operations launched by the Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA) in the south of Libya against Chadian opposition fighters and terrorist groups in Libya’s southern Fezzan region. Chad’s announcement also comes about a month after armed groups entered its northern territory from southern Libya. There were also reports of French airstrikes against Chadian rebels heading into Chad from Libya.  Libya Herald

Algeria Army Chief Pledges to Secure Country as Anti-Bouteflika Protests Continue
Algeria’s army chief on Tuesday pledged to guarantee the country’s security following mass demonstrations against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term in office. General Ahmed Gaid Salah also criticised those who he said want to return to the “painful years” of the 1992-2002 civil war “during which the Algerian people experienced all forms of suffering and paid a heavy price.” The armed forces chief of staff said in a speech at a military academy outside Algiers that the country’s success “in eradicating terrorism… has displeased some parties who are upset to see Algeria stable and safe.” The people will continue to enjoy “security and stability” of which the army “will remain the guarantor”, the general, who is close to Bouteflika and considered one of Algeria’s most powerful figures, said according to an official transcript. France 24

Social Media Breaks ‘Wall of Fear’ for Algeria Protesters
Tens of thousands of Algerians have rallied against their president’s bid for a fifth term in office, spurred on by social media which one observer says has helped “break the wall of fear”. “No to a fifth term”, “civil disobedience” and “Algeria rises up” are just some of the popular hashtags urging Algerians to protest against ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s determination to seek re-election. The 82-year-old leader has been in power for 20 years and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013. He went on to win polls the following year, but since then something has changed. “The internet has allowed Algerian youth to see what is happening in other countries culturally, economically, politically, as well as seeing younger presidents compared to theirs,” said Brahim Oumansour, a Paris-based researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS). France 24

Why France Has Kept Silent on Algeria’s Political Crisis
France has remained conspicuously silent as Abdelaziz Bouteflika, a veteran of Algeria’s independence struggle, stares down a wave of angry protests opposing his bid for a fifth term as president. And with good reason, say some experts. While President Emmanuel Macron was quick to take a position on the political crisis in Venezuela – where the masses are seeking to topple Nicolas Maduro – he’s yet to weigh in on events across the Mediterranean in France’s former colony, where huge crowds are similarly hoping to topple an authoritarian leader. William Jordan, former deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Algiers, says France has little choice but to walk on eggshells where Algeria is concerned. RFI

Thousands on Strike in Sudan Calling for President’s Ouster
A one-day strike shuttered businesses and emptied streets in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum and other parts of the country on Tuesday, activists said, as pressure mounted on longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir to step down following more than two months of deadly protests. Initially sparked by rising prices and shortages, the unrest quickly turned to calls for al-Bashir to resign after two decades in power. A heavy security crackdown has killed scores since the current wave of demonstrations began in December, the most serious protests against al-Bashir. Many students, doctors, markets, public transportation and other professionals took part in the strike Tuesday in support of al-Bashir’s ouster, according to photos and videos provided by activists and posted by the Sudanese Professionals Association. The association is an umbrella group of independent professional unions that has been spearheading the recent wave of protests.  AP

Seven Killed in Eastern DR Congo Attacks
Seven people were killed on Tuesday, three of them by machete-wielding assailants, in a fresh round of violence in eastern DR Congo, officials said. In the city of Butembo, two soldiers were killed by Mai-Mai militia who made a dawn attack on a military camp, the Congolese armed forces said on Twitter. “One assailant was killed and two (soldiers) fell on the field of honour,” they said, using a traditional term for military fatalities. Butembo is a major city in North Kivu, a province wracked by years-long militia violence and struggling with a seven-month-old epidemic of Ebola. In the provincial capital of Goma, “one person was found shot dead” in the western district of Ndosho, while “three other bodies were found hacked to pieces” in Majengo district, Claver Kahasa, the city’s deputy public prosecutor, told AFP.  AFP

UN Chief Wants to Boost Peace Mission in South Sudan
United Nations (United States) (AFP) – UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is proposing that the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan be strengthened to shore up a power-sharing deal he said presents the “best and only option” to end the conflict that has plagued the country. Guterres said in a report to the Security Council, seen by AFP on Monday, that the makeup of a regional protection force deployed in Juba as part of the mission should be reviewed. The council is expected to decide next week on renewing the mandate of the 16,000-strong UNMISS mission, six months after the latest in a string of peace deals was signed to end South Sudan’s five-year war. In the report, Guterres proposed that the peacekeeping mandate “be strengthened to allow the mission to support the implementation of the agreement and peace process in a nimble and flexible manner.”  AFP

Central African Republic Peace Deal Faces Setback
Central African Republic’s month-old peace deal with armed groups is facing its first major challenge this week, after several signatories said a newly-formed government was not sufficiently representative. The new cabinet, announced on Sunday, was meant to usher in a period of stability and political cooperation in the volatile country, after a peace agreement was reached with 14 armed groups in February. But four of the rebel groups have since withdrawn their representatives from government or demanded a reshuffle, including FPRC, one of the main participants. On Monday, another rebel group MLCJ demanded the prime minister reorganise cabinet within 72 hours. Reuters

Libya to Hold Elections by Year End: Tripoli PM
Libya should hold parliamentary and presidential elections by year end, the internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj said on Tuesday. The United Nations had planned for the North African oil producer to hold elections on Dec. 10 as a way out of conflict since the toppling of late leader Muammar Gaddafi but a spike in violence and lack of understanding between its rival camps had made this impossible. Libya is divided into a recognized government in Tripoli and a parallel version in the east backed by Khalifa Haftar, whose forces control the east. Last week, Serraj met with Haftar in Abu Dhabi but few details had emerged so far. He said in a speech in Tripoli he had agreed with Haftar to hold elections by year end. Reuters

Pope Francis’ Visit to Morocco to Focus on Migrants
Morocco’s bishops said Tuesday they hope Pope Francis’ visit to their country will help shed light on the situation of migrants in the country that is a key transit point for those trying to reach Europe. The Catholic church in Morocco mainly works with people from Sub-Saharan Africa, who make up 50 to 70 percent of churchgoers. Many are migrants illegally staying in the majority Muslim country living in poor conditions. “We have had to prioritize to whom the aid goes first. Our church suffers from lack of funds. We can give some migrants food, plastic, covers, yet we can’t give them the respect they deserve. They are people not animals.” said Santiago Agrelo Martinez, Archbishop of Tangier. He said he hopes that the pope’s visit on March 30-31 will help improve the situation. AP

Rights Group: Egyptian Activists Targeted in Phishing Scams
Dozens of Egyptian activists, rights defenders and journalists have been targeted by digital phishing attacks in the last two months, likely by their own government, an international rights group said on Wednesday. Amnesty International said it analyzed dozens of suspicious emails and that the attacks appear “to be part of a sustained campaign to intimidate and silence critics” of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government. The London-based group said the phishing attacks spiked during key political moments, such as the run-up to the January anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 uprising against autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, as well as a visit later that month by French President Emmanuel Macron. “These chilling attempts to target them online pose yet another threat to their vital work,” Ramy Raoof, a technology specialist at Amnesty, said about the scams on activists, journalists and non-governmental groups.  AP

Boost to Ramaphosa as Cosatu Offers Support
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa got a major boost ahead of the crucial May 8 elections after the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) resolved to support the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Last month, Cosatu threatened to convince its 1.5 million members to punish ANC at the polls because it continued to sideline tripartite partners in making key decisions. ANC is part of a tripartite alliance with Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP). The February warning by Cosatu was sparked by an announcement by President Ramaphosa to split power utility Eskom into three separate units – responsible for power generation, distribution and transmission – a decision that would potentially leave hundreds jobless. VOA

Burkina Faso Is Restoring Thomas Sankara’s Legacy with a Bronze Statue
More than three decades after his assassination, Burkina Faso is celebrating Thomas Sankara with a new monument. Two years ago the revolutionary leader once again became the face of a popular movement, and the new statue unveiled over the weekend in Ouagadougou formalizes his place in a new political era._ The five-meter bronze statue, which stands on a four-meter base, depicts Sankara in his army fatigues, ready to take a step forward with his arm raised and his face to the horizon. It is exactly the kind of leadership Sankara has come to represent to a new generation of Burkinabé and across Africa. Sankara is memorialized along with the busts of 12 of his comrades who were also killed in the 1987 coup. The monument was designed by Burkinabé sculptors who answered a public call to artists and architects to contribute to the project and was led by renowned artist Jean-Luc Bambara. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones