Africa Media Review for May 14, 2018

26 Killed in Rural Burundi Attack amid Tensions over President’s Bid to Keep Power
Twenty-six people were killed and seven wounded in an attack in a rural area of Burundi, the country’s security minister said Saturday, calling it the work of a “terrorist group” he did not identify. Speaking at the scene, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni told reporters that 24 people were killed in their homes Friday night and two others died of their wounds at a local hospital. He gave no further details about the attack in the Ruhagarika community of the rural northwestern province of Cibitoke. The attack came shortly before a May 17 referendum that could extend the president’s term. It was not immediately clear if the attack was related. One survivor told the Associated Press the attackers came around 10 p.m. local time and “attacked households and set fire on houses.” Some victims were hacked with machetes and others were shot or burned alive, she said. … Human Rights Watch has noted “widespread impunity” for authorities and their allies, including the ruling party’s youth wing, as they try to swing the vote in the president’s favor. AP

Burundi Gears Up for Constitutional Referendum
Burundians gathered in churches Sunday to pray for peace as the country prepares for a controversial referendum which could extend the president’s term in office. The Catholic church has said it will fight to protect the democratic gains in the country after its request to postpone referendum vote was denied. … The Catholic church has come out against President Pierre Nkurunziza government’s plan to change the constitution. Burundi will hold countrywide referendum vote on May 17. Some of the issues Burundians will have to choose are whether to extend president Pierre Nkurunziza’s term until 2034.… One registered voter who refused to give his name spoke to VOA about the referendum. “I will vote for fear of my well being. When I walk in the street and they ask whether I voted I will show them that I have voted but I don’t like to vote,” he said. The voter spoke of threats and intimidation presented by the ruling party youth wing known as Imbonerakure. VOA

South Sudan Peace Consultations Make Little Progress
The intensive consultations on peace between the South Sudan warring parties under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has made a little progress in Addis Ababa, sources said. The sources from the venue of the intensive interlinked consultations in Addis Ababa told Radio Tamazuj on Saturday night that the parties’ viewpoints were still divergent but they agreed on some issues. … Observers say the government was distancing itself from tackling the root causes of the conflict while the opposition alliance was still pushing for it as one of its strong positions. Radio Tamazuj

Nigeria: Herdsmen Killings: Catholic Bishops Plan Nationwide Protest May 22
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, CBCN, has fixed Tuesday, May 22, as a day of protests for Catholic faithful across the country. This came as the Tor Tiv, HRM, Prof James Ayatse, said he would soon convene a peace meeting with the governor of Nasarwa State, Tanko Al-Makura, and Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to find a lasting solution to killings of Tiv people in both Benue and Nasarawa states. The CBCN said the protests would coincide with the burial of the two priests and 17 parishioners killed by herdsmen during a morning mass at Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State. Vanguard

No Funding for Burundi, South Sudan Delegates over Sanctions
Germany and the US have said they will maintain their sanctions against Burundi and South Sudan and will not fund the two countries’ delegates to the East African Community meetings until the leadership restores political stability. Bujumbura and Juba were asked to fund their delegates to the EAC Council of Ministers in Arusha last week, after the Secretariat failed to have Washington and Berlin rescind their decision. … In response to the political crisis in Burundi that began in 2015, the EU withdrew aid to Bujumbura, with Germany following suit. But Berlin agreed to support Burundians who are not appointed by the presidency. The East African

Nurse is First to Die in Congo’s Latest Ebola Outbreak
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak has killed a nurse, according to the Health Ministry. Officials declared the outbreak in the country’s northwest on Tuesday after lab tests confirmed the deadly virus in two cases from the town of Bikoro in the Equateur province. The nurse died overnight at a hospital in nearby Ikoko Impenge, where four new suspected cases of Ebola have been reported, Health Minister Oly Ilunga said at a news conference. Seven people with a hemorrhagic fever, including two confirmed cases of Ebola, lay in hospital late Thursday, he added. … The World Health Organization said on Friday it was preparing for the worst case scenario in the latest Ebola outbreak, including for the disease spreading to a major town. WHO Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama told a regular UN briefing in Geneva that the health agency had alerted the nine neighboring countries but currently regarded the risk of regional spread as “moderate.” DW

South Africa Direct Rule for North West Province
South Africa has taken over direct administration of North West province where corruption allegations have led to violent protests. There have also been calls for the regional premier to resign. The decision to intervene was taken by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has made the fight against corruption a priority. Last month, he cut short his attendance at a Commonwealth summit in London to return home and deal with the crisis. The province’s regional premier, Supra Mahumapelo – a political ally of former President Jacob Zuma – has refused to step down but went on leave. His administration has been accused of corruption and the misuse of state funds – accusations he denies. After complaints about the poor delivery of public services and the near collapse of the healthcare system, President Ramaphosa deployed army medics to help out in the hospitals. Protesters have been demanding jobs, housing and an end to corruption.BBC

More than 31 Killed in Libya Tribal Clashes This Month
Fighting between rival tribes that has rocked a southern Libya town for weeks has killed more than 31 people since the beginning of May, a medical source said on Sunday. Eight of them were killed on the weekend when the violence flared in Sebha, some 600km south of Tripoli, the source said, adding that 18 others were wounded in the clashes. Sebha, where tribal rivalries have frequently spilt over into bloodshed, has been rocked by violence since February. On Saturday, the rival tribes fought for the control of an ancient hilltop citadel that overlooks Sebha, a region known for its smuggling routes. The fighting is pitting the Arab Alwad Suleiman tribe against the Tubus, who are repeatedly accused by their detractors of including foreign fighters, namely from Chad, in their ranks. Since the beginning of May more than 31 people have been killed and 121 wounded in the tribal clashes, the medical source said speaking on condition of anonymity. News24

Somalia Regions Maintain UAE as Ally amid Diplomatic Row over Port Deals
Somalia and the United Arab Emirates are still squabbling over the emirates’ engagements with the regional states of Jubbaland and Puntland, with Mogadishu saying it will oppose any lease deals on the ports of Bossasso and Kismayu. The dust has not even settled on the Mogadishu administration’s dispute with the semi-autonomous state of Somaliland over the lease of the port of Berbera to the UAE at $440 million. Somalia has objected to a UAE company taking over the Berbera port in the region of Somaliland in partnership with the Ethiopian government, which Mogadishu says is an invasion of its territory. And now, Puntland president Abdiweli Mohamed Ali “Gaas” and his Jubbaland counterpart Sheikh Ahmed “Madobe” are on the spot for visiting Dubai last month, further rocking the relations between the two countries. The East African

Somalia’s Illicit Charcoal Trade Threatens Security, the Environment and Livelihoods
Stockpiles of charcoal cast long shadows that shield motorists from the scorching sun on the road that links the southern port of Buur Gaabo to the capital Mogadishu in the north. Charcoal producers and traders can be seen packing their trucks near Mogadishu. Some two million trees are felled every year in the trade worth 120 million dollars (€100 million), a UN estimate shows. It names the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman as the key buyers. Of those 120 million dollars, at least 10 million are siphoned off by al-Shabab, the Islamist militant group fighting the government. DW

Ghana Judges Sacked after Taking Bribes
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has suspended four high court judges after a special committee found them guilty of corruption. They were caught on tape taking bribes in exchange for influencing the outcome of court cases. The corruption was exposed by an undercover journalist in 2015. Journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas said he had nearly 500 hours of video evidence on tape, showing judges alleging asking for bribes and demanding sex. One even accepted a goat as a bribe. The documentary shocked the nation at the time, and was shown to packed houses at cinemas in the capital, Accra. More than 20 judges and 170 judicial officers were implicated in the country’s biggest corruption scandal. Twenty judges and magistrates have already been found guilty of bribery and dismissed from their jobs. The East African

Madagascar President Lifts Restrictions on Opposition Candidates
Madagascar’s president approved a new election law lifting a provision that would have prevented the main opposition candidate from standing for office, which had provoked a political crisis and deadly street demonstrations. Supporters of opposition politician Marc Ravalomanana, who served as president from 2002 until he was toppled in a 2009 coup, have demanded the scrapping of election rules they said were drawn up to stop him from running. The High Court ruled last week that the rules were unconstitutional. “Organic laws (on elections) were promulgated today on the basis of the decisions and opinions of the High Constitutional Court,” President Hery Rajaonarimampianina’s office said in a statement late on Friday. Reuters

How Top Oil Industry Officials Ruined Nigeria’s Refineries
Oil industry sources over the weekend made startling disclosures of how top industry officials ruined Nigeria’s four refineries by diverting huge funds earmarked for their routine comprehensive turnaround maintenance (TAM). The four refineries located in Port Harcourt (two), Warri and Kaduna have a combined installed capacity to refine 445,000 barrels of crude per day, but have over the years performed abysmally owing to the obsolete state of the facilities. Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu disclosed in February that collectively, all the four refineries are producing at 14 per cent capacity utilisation. Oil industry sources familiar with operations of the refineries, told THISDAY that contrary to repeated claims by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the refineries undergo routine TAM, the four refineries might not have undergone comprehensive repairs in the last 18 years or more as contracts awarded by successive governments were either abandoned halfway or not executed at all. This Day



Photo: Adam Jones