Africa Media Review for March 9, 2018

Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga Pledge Reconciliation
Kenya’s president and opposition leader have promised to begin a process of reconciliation following last year’s bitterly contested election. Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga spoke on national TV after holding their first public meeting since the poll. About 150 people were killed in the aftermath of the disputed election. Earlier this year, Mr Odinga swore himself in as the “people’s president” and refused to recognise election winner Mr Kenyatta as head of state. Until now, both had dismissed calls for talks. BBC

Mauritius Cabinet Agrees to Impeach First Female President
As Mauritius is preparing to celebrate its 50 years of independence, the government has decided to launch impeachment procedures to dismiss the President of the Republic, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim. This decision was taken during a Cabinet meeting chaired by the Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in the afternoon of Thursday, March 8. Government members reportedly agreed that the first female president of Mauritius will have to leave her position after being implicated in an expenses scandal. Africa News

Civil Society Coalition Projects Election Run-Off in Sierra Leone
A coalition of local and international civil society organisations that has been observing the Sierra Leone elections has projected an election run off, saying none of the candidates will secure the 55% constitutional threshold required to be declared outright winner. National Elections Watch (NEW) says it deployed over 10,000 election observers at every polling station in Sierra Leone and assigned 3 observers at the regional tallying centers. Acknowledging the fact that only the National Electoral Commission can declare official results, NEW says it used Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) tool, which provides accurate and timely information on the conduct of an election and counting at polling stations. Africa News

Tuareg Militias Again Clash with Islamic State-Loyal Militants in Northern Mali
The Imghad and Allies Self Defense Movement (GATIA) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA) have again reported its fighters have battled with militants loyal to the Islamic State led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi. According to the joint statement released by the groups, one of their joint patrols engaged in combat with the Islamic State-loyal militants in the Tinzouragan area of Mali’s northern Gao region yesterday. The locale sits close to In-Delimane and the Nigerien borders, an area where the so-called Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) operates. The Tuareg alliance reported that five jihadists were killed, including a high level commander named as Djibo Hamma. Other militants and vehicles were reported captured. At the same time, France’s Operation Barkhane reported its forces also clashed with suspected jihadist militants near In-Delimane on March 6. It is unclear which group the French troops battled with. While ISGS operates in that area, al Qaeda’s Group for Support of Islam and Muslims have claimed attacks on French troops in that area as well. Long War Journal

US Pushes UN to Consider Arms Embargo on South Sudan
The United States on Wednesday circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution that threatens to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and to take “all appropriate measures” against those blocking peace efforts. The draft text obtained by AFP demands an end to four years of fighting in South Sudan and urges the warring sides to uphold three ceasefire deals agreed since July 2016. The council “expresses its intention to consider all appropriate measures, including an arms embargo, to disable the parties’ ability to procure weapons and ammunition so that the peace process can proceed,” said the draft resolution. Diplomats said Russia and China are likely to raise objections to the draft, which takes a tough line on punishing those who refuse to end the war, now in its fifth year. Daily Nation

Sudanese Militia Arrests Darfur Rebel Commander
Sudanese government Rapid Support Forces (RSF) Thursday said they captured Suleiman Marjan a historical rebel commander in North Darfur. The official Sudan News Agency (SUNA) said Marjan was arrested with an aide deriving a vehicle with four automatic guns near Jabel Issa area of Malha district in North Darfur state. Marjan “confessed that he was recruiting young people and children for the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in Libya,” said the agency. The rebel commander was one the historical commanders of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) in North Darfur. He participated in several rounds of the peace talks in Abuja and UN-sponsored meetings for peace in Darfur after the failure of the 2006 peace deal. Sudan Tribune

Nigeria Vows to Recapture Boko Haram Chief Freed in Swap for 82 Chibok Girls
The Nigerian army is vowing to recapture a Boko Haram commander freed last year in exchange for 82 girls who were kidnapped from a school in the town of Chibok nearly four years ago. An army official told CNN that the Boko Haram commander, Shuibu Moni, would be apprehended again after he taunted the military in a new propaganda video from the militant Islamic group. “He was captured before; he can be captured again,” army spokesman John Agim told CNN. “The troops that captured him are still in the northeast, and they will get him.” Boko Haram sparked international outrage when the militants captured 276 girls — between the ages of 16 and 18 — from a boarding school in Chibok in Borno state in April 2014. Eighty-two of the girls were freed in a May 2017 swap with Boko Haram that also saw Moni’s release. More than 100 of the girls remain in captivity, their whereabouts unknown. CNN

Under Trump, U.S. Launched 8 Airstrikes against ISIS in Libya. It Disclosed 4.
The United States military has carried out twice as many airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Libya since President Trump took office as it has publicly acknowledged, raising questions about whether the Pentagon has sought to obscure operations in the strife-torn North African nation. The total number of strikes — eight since January 2017 — is relatively small. But the uptick points to the threat that the Trump administration believes Libya still poses, despite the president’s focus on the American-led campaign against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq that he has trumpeted as one of his administration’s signature national security accomplishments. Counterterrorism specialists warn that the Islamic State and Al Qaeda also still pose formidable threats in places like Somalia, Yemen and West Africa. On Tuesday, Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the head of the Africa Command, said in congressional testimony that “we are heavily involved in the counterterrorism piece” in Libya. The New York Times

Somaliland President Says Somalia Has Declared War over Berbera Port
Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has described Somalia’s rejection of a port deal the former signed with Ethiopia and DP World, as a ‘declaration of war’. The Somali government recently declared the tripartite agreement signed over the management of the Berbera port in Somaliland as ‘null and void’ arguing that the deal violated the unity and constitution of the country. Somaliland is internationally recognised as an autonomous state of Somalia. Bihi insists that the state has the freedom to approve this deal that will improve the lives of its people, but the Somali prime minister Hassan Ali said that all international agreements must be approved by the central government. Africa News

Tales of Terror from Congo’s Ituri Province
Tens of thousands of people have fled clashes in Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeast Ituri Province over recent weeks, travelling by boat to reach Uganda. Dozens are reported to have been killed in the violence, in which members of the Lendu community have reportedly targeted Hema and Bagagere citizens. More than 48,000 refugees have arrived since January, and more than 100,000 people remain displaced in the DRC. It is unclear what triggered this latest unrest in a region that has been relatively calm since 2007. This blog from the Congo Research Group offers some possible causes. Between 1999 and 2003, Ituri was the theatre of a fierce conflict involving Lendu and Hema militias. IRIN

Aid Group: Militia Commits Mass Rape in Central African Republic
Militia fighters attacked, kidnapped and raped en masse a large group of women in an isolated area of Central African Republic last month, Doctors Without Borders said Thursday. The medical charity treated 10 survivors of the Feb. 17 violence near Kiriwiri, a village in the country’s northwest. Fearing further attacks if they tried to reach a hospital, the women were unable to seek medical treatment until about two weeks later, it said. Many other victims remained behind, fearing that, as rape victims, they would be stigmatized in their community. VOA

Rwanda Centre Overstretched by Burundi Refugee Influx
Rwanda has said the centre hosting 2,500 Burundian refugees who left DR Congo on Wednesday for fear of deportation is overstretched. According to the Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs (Midimar), the Nayarushishi refugee transit centre in Eastern Province has a hosting capacity of only 2,300 refugees. “They will be at the transit centre for a while until registration is complete,” said Claude Twishime, the communications officer at the ministry. “They started arriving at the border post in the evening on Wednesday in big numbers,” he said. The refugees said they left DRC for fear of repatriation. They claimed they fled Burundi due to religious persecution. The East African

Zimbabwe: Reported Comeback of 94-Year-Old Robert Mugabe Is a Risky Move
State media in Zimbabwe are reporting that former president Robert Mugabe is backing the National Patriotic Front (NPF), a breakaway party from the ruling Zanu-PF, in a bid to make a political comeback. Reports that Mugabe is plotting a political comeback have clearly rattled his successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Returning to the political fray would be a very risky move by the 94-year-old ex-leader, jeopardising his generous golden handshake at the very least. But some analysts believe such a bold political gambit by Mugabe could be a spoiler, contributing to a shock defeat for Mnangagwa in the general elections expected in July, even if Mugabe has no chance of returning to power himself. Retired army brigadier and Zanu-PF MP Ambrose Mutinhiri, a veteran of the liberation struggle of the 1970s, resigned from the party and from Parliament a week ago, as a protest against the military coup which had ousted Mugabe in November. On Sunday Mutunhiri met Mugabe at his Harare home and then on Monday announced the launch of the NPF.  Daily Maverick

South Africa’s Much Needed Land Debate Is Being Turned into an International Racist Rant
South Africa’s land—still largely owned by the white minority—is to be redistributed to black owners. The resolution in parliament on Feb. 27 is historic and emotional as it seeks to address the displacement of black South Africans through four centuries of colonialism and apartheid. The motion is based on a policy decision taken by the African National Congress in December last year. It “resolved that this should be pursued without destabilizing the agricultural sector; without endangering food security in our country; and without undermining economic growth and job creation,” according to an ANC statement. Nowhere did it say that the land was to be taken from white farmers, and yet that has not only become the headline, it has fuelled political jockeying ahead of South Africa’s 2019 election. It also distracts from a process that is essential to fixing the country’s enduring inequality. Quartz

Turkey Is Quietly Building Its Presence in Africa
When you think of big investors in Africa, the United States, China, Britain and France may come to mind. But over the past decade, Turkey has been steadily raising its profile in Africa, including in some of the most troubled countries on the continent. Dozens of African government ministers milled about an Istanbul hotel ballroom recently, planning for next year’s African Union-Turkey Cooperation Summit. During a break in the meeting, Abdulkadir Ahmed-Kheir Abdi, Somalia’s state minister for foreign affairs, praised Turkey’s assistance to his country plagued by famine, civil war and an Islamist insurgency. “Turkey came to Somalia first in 2011, when no one dared to go to Somalia,” he said. “There was a drought, there was a famine, there [were] terrorist activities there, and everyone stayed away.”  NPR

‘They Are Terrified’: Italy Election Result Deepens Refugees’ Deportation Fears
The TV anchor was rattling off Italy’s general election results in the early hours of Monday morning and Zak could not fall asleep. He had been restless and sick with worry for weeks, ever since a neo-fascist had shot six Africans in the city of Macerata and the leaders of rightwing parties had vowed to kick 600,000 migrants out of the country if elected. Zak, 17, comes from the Gambia and lives in a community for minors in Catenanuova, in the heart of Sicily. He made the perilous sea crossing from Libya in a wooden boat and has been waiting for months for a decision on his refugee status. He bears the scars of torture from eight months of beatings in Libya. His father is Gambian, his mother Senegalese. In Senegal he had been forced to attend Islamic schools. Feeling deprived of his liberty, he had decided to flee.  The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones