Africa Media Review for May 10, 2018

Somalia Suicide Bomber Strikes Market, Kills at Least 10
A Somali official says a suicide bomber has killed at least 10 people at a crowded market in a southern town. Security official Ali Mohamed tells The Associated Press that the bomber, thought to be with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab extremist group, detonated a suicide vest in the market in Wanlaweyn, 90km south of Mogadishu. Fifteen other people were wounded in the attack. Mohamed says most of the victims are civilians. There is no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast but the Somalia-based al-Shabaab has carried out similar attacks in the region. AP

Kenya’s Patel Dam Burst ‘Causes Huge Destruction’
A dam burst in Kenya on Wednesday night after heavy rain, causing “huge destruction” and killing at least 32 people, police say. The breach happened on farmland near the town of Solai, 190km (120 miles) north-west of the capital, Nairobi. The dead are thought to include children and women trapped in mud. The Kenyan Red Cross says it has rescued some 40 people so far. More than 2,000 people are said to have been left homeless. BBC

South Sudan Accuses US of Blocking Path to Country’s Peace
South Sudan’s government is accusing the United States of obstructing peace in response to a US threat to cut off humanitarian aid amid a five-year civil war. Wednesday’s statement from President Salva Kiir’s office also accuses the Trump administration of interfering in South Sudan’s affairs ahead of peace talks that resume May 17. The US is the top aid donor to South Sudan, but on Tuesday it said it would review its hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance if the East African nation’s conflict grinds on. The US says it has given over $3.2bn in humanitarian assistance since the conflict broke out in December 2013. AP

South Sudan: Fresh Fighting Flares, Five Years into Civil War
The skeletons of burnt-out vehicles lie scattered all the way from Bentiu’s landing strip to the camp for internally-displaced people. There has been fighting here in the capital of South Sudan’s Unity State since the country’s civil war began in 2013. Today, after a year of relative calm, violence has again surged between government forces and the opposition. The head of the United Nations Mission in Unity, Hiroko Hirahara, believes that this is linked to an upcoming round of peace talks. “People started becoming a bit more political because they wanted to position themselves,” she told Euronews’ reporter in South Sudan, Monica Pinna. Euro News

How Nigeria’s Cattle War Is Fueling Religious Tension
A long-running conflict between cattle herders and farmers in central Nigeria is increasingly assuming a religious dimension, writes the BBC’s Mayeni Jones after visiting Benue state. Sebastian Nyamgba is a tall, wiry farmer with sharp cheekbones and piercing eyes. He guides me to a small bungalow adjacent to the local church, St Ignatus. It was the home of local priest Father Joseph Gor. “This is his blood,” he says, as he points to faint pink splatters on the wall of the porch of the house. BBC

Nigeria’s President Buhari under Pressure to Reveal Illness
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is under pressure to disclose the state of his health after he embarked on a fourth medical trip to London. Nigeria’s opposition party, People’s Democractic Party (PDP), said it was time for the president to reveal his medical condition. PDP spokesman Kola Ologbodiyan said: “We need full disclosure about the president’s health. He needs to be honest with Nigerians to say he his unwell. He can’t travel for an official meeting to the US and sneak into London to see his doctor, then tell Nigerians it was a technical stopover due to flight issues.” CNN

Nigeria: Police Chief Declared Persona Non Grata
Nigeria’s parliament on Wednesday declared police chief Ibrahim Idris persona non grata and unfit to hold public office after he repeatedly shunned senate summons over killings in the agrarian belt. Idris has failed to appear before lawmakers thrice — the latest on Wednesday — but he was twice represented by his deputies whom the senators turned down on each occasion. The summons have divided the country, with a section of local commentators alleging that the summons were political and meant to intimidate the cop over his handling of a criminal case against Senator Dino Melaye. Anadolu Agency

Protecting Civil Society, Faith-Based Actors, and Political Speech in Sub-Saharan Africa
Chairman Smith on the hearing: “Protecting the space for civil society is critical to preserve civil and political rights. As we learned in the U.S civil rights movement, groups like churches are the vanguard of the battle to protect civil liberties. Through sanctions and other tools, the international community can protect the space for civil society actors to operate in Sub-Saharan Africa.” House.gov

Renamo Leader’s Death a ‘Game Changer’ for Mozambique Peace Process
The death of Mozambique’s former rebel supremo turned opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama has piled pressure on his Renamo party ahead of local elections and ongoing peace talks with an increasingly authoritarian government. Dhlakama died last week in his hideout in the Gorongosa mountains aged 65 without nominating a successor. Two days after his death, the party picked Ossufo Momade, a Renamo general as its interim leader until the next party congress whose date has not yet been fixed. “It’s a provisional leader to close the ranks until the congress,” said researcher Michel Cahen. “This choice clearly shows that the generals are the guardians of power”. Times Live

Togo: Opposition Coalition Calls off Planned Protest
Togolese opposition on Tuesday called off anti-government protests that had been planned to take place on Wednesday and Saturday in Lome and several other cities in the country. The coalition of 14 opposition parties issued statement on Tuesday night saying that the demonstrations would not be marked by serenity, security for demonstrators and achievement of the objectives. This is after the government imposed new routes for the march which the opposition refused to adopt. Africa News

ICC Prosecutor: New Arrest Warrants Expected Soon in Libya
The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court said Wednesday that her office is “steadily progressing” in its investigation of crimes committed in Libya and expects to issue new arrest warrants “in the near future.” Fatou Bensouda told the U.N. Security Council there has been “significant progress” in investigations in Libya not only on events in 2011 that led to the overthrow and death of longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi but more recent and ongoing crimes. Because of insecurity, Bensouda said, the ICC was long unable to conduct investigative missions in Libya after June 2012. But she said a team from her office was able to travel to Libya in March, a visit she called “a significant advance in my office’s investigative activities.” AP

Malta ‘Fuelling Libya Instability’ by Failing to Tackle Oil Smuggling
Maltese authorities are failing to rein in illegal fuel smuggling, turning the island into a haven for traffickers of oil from Libya. International observers have warned that it is contributing to destabilisation in Libya and costing the country nearly $1bn (£740m) a year in lost revenue. An investigation by the Daphne Project, a consortium of 18 media organisations that has taken on stories pursued by the murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, has found evidence that Malta failed to act on calls by Italian authorities to try to stop the illicit trade. The Guardian

Expert Sees Little Chance That Ebola Outbreak Will Spread in DRC
The risk of Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak spreading is “very low” because of the remoteness of the affected area, a Congolese disease expert said Wednesday as medical teams arrived on the scene. Ebola has been confirmed in at least two people in the northwestern town of Bikoro. Those cases were discovered after officials last week were alerted to at least 17 deaths linked to a hemorrhagic fever in a nearby area in Equateur province, according to Congo’s health ministry and the World Health Organization. There are various hemorrhagic fevers, including Ebola. This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified. There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms. Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. VOA

Botswana: New President Fires ‘Most Feared Man’ in the Land
The appointment of new Director General of the Directorate on Intelligence and Security, Peter Magosi to replace the deposed Isaac Kgosi has sparked widespread mixed reactions from the general public. Many have been showering incoming President Mokgweetsi Masisi with praise for the bold decision to fire the ‘most feared man’ in the land after the DIS gained a reputation for notoriety, following a spate of extra judicial killings, unlawful arrests and unexplained disappearance of suspects compounded by unaccountability and flagrant abuse of state resources. The DIS had become a law unto itself, confirmed when Kgosi boldly declared before a Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that as the spy chief he is the accounting officer and does not report to anyone on issues of operations, let alone the President. That declaration was the deal breaker, the last straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak. The Patriot

Deadly Journeys: How Despair Drives Young Ethiopians to Flee to Yemen
[…] Over the past fortnight they have travelled more than 1,000km from their homes, first on buses and then later on foot, jumping the border into neighbouring Djibouti under the cover of darkness. When the group gathered in Dire Dawa, a town in the arid drylands of eastern Ethiopia a couple of hundred kilometres from the border, there were 20 of them. “Most are left in the desert,” says Badru wearily. “They are very tired. I don’t think they can follow us.” The Djiboutian police estimate that around 200 Ethiopians enter undercover like this each day, trekking through some of the most inhospitable terrain on earth in the hope of reaching war-stricken Yemen, across the Red Sea, and eventually wealthy Saudi Arabia. In February IOM, the UN’s migration agency, tracked nearly 17,000 migrants in Djibouti, most making their way northwards towards the coastal towns of Obock and Tadjoura; more than two-thirds were men and 8% were unaccompanied minors. The vast majority were from Oromia. The Guardian

Namibians Losing Patience over German Slowness to Act on Genocide Claims
Anger is building in Namibia over inaction by colonial-era power Germany, almost three years after talks began about an apology and reparations for the genocide of its indigenous Herero and Nama. After tough debate in Germany and abroad, all major parties acknowledged that Berlin should apologize for the genocide in its former colony of “German South West Africa” where tens of thousands of Herero and Nama were killed between 1904 and 1908. Namibia is still waiting for that apology. There is no mention of it in the current German government’s coalition agreement. Deutsche Welle

Coffee Faces Double Threat to Its Existence in Eastern Ethiopia
For generations, farmers planted the lush earth of Awedai and nearby areas in eastern Ethiopia with coffee trees, earning a livelihood from a crop that is now the country’s main export. But the centuries-long practice is now being abandoned in favor of khat, a leafy plant chewed as a stimulant in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. “Coffee comes only once a year. But you can harvest khat twice a year,” said Jemal Moussa, a 45-year-old farmer and father of six who depends on the narcotic leaf for income. “Khat is much more useful.” He said it was in the early 2000s that farmers in the Awedai area started planting khat as its popularity rose and coffee prices remained stagnant. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones