Africa Media Review for May 16, 2018

Fearing Bloodshed, Burundi Faces Vote on President’s Power
Burundians vote Thursday in a referendum that could keep the president in power for another 16 years and threatens to prolong a political crisis that has seen more than 1,000 people killed and hundreds of thousands fleeing to neighboring countries. Many in this East African nation do not see a positive outcome no matter the results of the vote, which President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government forced through despite widespread opposition and the concerns of the United States and others warning of continued bloodshed. The country descended into crisis in 2015 when Nkurunziza pursued a disputed third term. Now Burundi’s 5 million voters are asked to approve a change to the constitution that would extend the length of the president’s term from five years to seven and would allow him to stand for two more terms. Nkurunziza has forcefully urged voters to support the referendum. AP

UN Extends African Peace Mission in Somalia
A UN-backed peacekeeping mission in Somalia, which faces attacks by an Al-Qaeda affiliate, received unanimous Security Council backing Tuesday until July 31. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), with about 21,600 troops, operates with the approval of the UN and relies on international funding. By extending AMISOM’s mandate to the end of July, the United Nations Security Council allowed for a review of recommendations expected in a “joint assessment” report on Somalia to be presented by June 15. In its resolution, the Security Council recalled that it authorized the African Union to reduce AMISOM to roughly 20,600 personnel by October 30, after 1,000 troops were pulled out last year. AFP

UN Peacekeeping Force to Stay, but Shrink, in Abyei Region
U.N. peacekeepers will remain in the disputed Abyei region on the Sudan-South Sudan border for another six months, but the Security Council is trimming the force while encouraging the two nations to resolve their stalemate over the oil-rich area. The council unanimously agreed Tuesday to extend the peacekeeping mission until mid-November. But the renewal lowers the troop ceiling to 4,500 from nearly 4,800 and expresses disappointment at the pace of progress toward a political resolution. The mission is known as UNISFA. It has been in Abyei since 2011. A decades-long civil war between Sudans north and south ended with a 2005 peace deal that allowed for South Sudan to become independent. The pact also required both sides to work out the final status of Abyei, but its still unresolved. AP

AU ‘Ready’ to Sanction South Sudan Peace Violators
The African Union has announced its readiness to impose sanctions on individuals obstructing peace in South Sudan. The AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) said in a brief statement Tuesday that it would soon punish the peace violators. The targeted sanction, said the AUPSC statement, would pave the way for the peace agreement implementation. The announcement comes just a day after Mr Festus Mogae, the head of the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), called for action against the violators of peace in the young nation. The East African

IGAD’s Foreign Ministers Meet Machar in South Africa
The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) foreign ministers Tuesday met with former South Sudan First Vice President Riek Machar in Pretoria. Ethiopia’s Hirut Zemene, Kenya’s Ababu Namwamba, IGAD special envoy for South Sudan and other officials met with Machar in South Africa as part of efforts by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to maintain peace in South Sudan. Machar, who leads the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – In Opposition (SPLM – IO) has been in exile in South Africa since renewed clashes between his forces and those of the government erupted in 2016. Radio Tamazuj

Nigeria Launches Major Operation to Defeat Boko Haram
The Nigerian army on Tuesday launched a four-month operation to totally defeat terror group Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region. The army chief Tukur Buratai said the newly launched “Operation Last Hold” would ensure the destruction of Boko Haram’s strong points and strongholds around the Lake Chad region. “The end-state of Operation Last Hold is the total defeat of the Boko Haram terrorists in the northern state of Borno,” Buratai said. The operation, according to the army chief, would facilitate the clearance of the Lake Chad waterways of seaweeds and other obstacles obstructing the movement of boats and people across the water channels. Xinhua

At Least 100 People Kidnapped along Road in Northern Nigeria
At least 100 people have been kidnapped along a road in northern Nigeria in the past few days, officials, witnesses and relatives of the abducted told Reuters on Tuesday, underscoring the insecurity still afflicting parts of the country. President Muhammadu Buhari won elections in 2015 partly on promises to bring security to Nigeria, but has struggled to fulfil them. He is now seeking a second term in February 2019. His critics and opponents question his record of tackling the multitude of conflicts that plague Nigeria, from Boko Haram and an Islamic State insurgency in the northeast to clashes between farmers and herders in which hundreds have died. VOA

Haftar’s Forces Make Push on Opposition-Held Libyan City of Derna
Forces of Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar attacked opposition targets in the eastern city of Derna on Tuesday using aircraft and artillery, taking a wheat silo and villages on the outskirts, military officials said.It was the first major operation since Haftar announced last week that he would seize the last stronghold of opposition to his Libyan National Army (LNA) in the east of the country.The LNA has surrounded the city, on the coastal highway between Benghazi and Egypt, and has long threatened to begin ground operations there. Its campaign had previously been limited to occasional air strikes and bombardments. Reuters

UK Government Trying to Block Release of Files Exposing Gaddafi Links
Government lawyers are attempting to prevent documents that detail the relationship between the British government and Muammar Gaddafi from being made public under the Freedom of Information Act, just days after apologising for the UK’s role in the kidnap and torture of one of the Libyan dictator’s opponents. They are appealing against an information tribunal ruling that the documents should be handed to Nigel Ashton, professor of international history at the London School of Economics. At a hearing in London on Wednesday, lawyers for the Cabinet Office will argue that Ashton’s request should be dismissed as being “vexatious” because of the amount of time it would take to redact the papers before release, on such grounds as national security and the safeguarding of international relations. The Guardian

Mayor: Rebels Strike Central African Republic City, Kill 6
A mayor in Central African Republic says members of a rebel group known as UPC have stormed his city with assault rifles and knives, killing at least six people. Mayor Abel Matchipata told The Associated Press the armed rebels made their way into Bambari overnight and struck on Tuesday. Matchipata says they attacked his office and police and radio stations in retaliation for the deaths of three UPC members during a robbery outside the city Monday. The rebel group is considered an offshoot of the mostly Muslim coalition known as Seleka, which overthrew Central African Republic’s longtime president in 2013. Violence has since plagued the country. AP

Congo Bars Tourists from National Park after Kidnapping
Rangers said on Tuesday they had stopped tourists entering Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park during investigations into the kidnapping of two Britons there last week. Gunmen ambushed Robert Jesty, Bethan Davies and their driver in Congo’s volatile eastern borderlands on Friday and released them three days later. Park ranger Rachel Makissa Baraka, 25, was killed trying to defend them. “The suspension of tourism is being undertaken as an additional precautionary measure whilst an investigation is undertaken surrounding the recent events,” the park said in a statement. Reuters

Refugees in Sudan Allege Chronic Corruption in UN Resettlement Process
Refugees in Khartoum, interviewed by IRIN over a 10 month period, say that individuals working with the Sudanese branch of the UN agency responsible for resettlement engage in corrupt practices, and that life-changing decisions are often made based on bribes rather than eligibility. That agency, UNHCR, says it has now mounted an investigation. More than a dozen people told IRIN of experiences in which individuals claiming to be affiliated with UNHCR solicited money in exchange for advancing refugees a few rungs up the long ladder to resettlement, in a kind of “pay-to-play” scheme. A recent staff list obtained by IRIN indicates that several individuals named in interviews with refugees as engaging in corrupt practices were still employed there as of February 2018. IRIN News

Number of Displaced Africans Doubles in 2017
A new report says the number of Africans taking refuge within their countries because of conflict has doubled in a single year. The report – by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Unit (IDMU) – found that nearly three million people were left homeless within their countries in 2017, bringing the total to nearly six-million. It says the hardest hit country was the Democratic Republic of Congo, while South Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia and the Central African Republic were also affected. BBC

Eritrea Renews Accusations to Sudan, Ethiopia and Qatar of Supporting Jihadist Groups
The Eritrean government on Monday has reiterated allegations that Sudan, Ethiopia and Qatar are providing support to opposition Jihadist groups to destabilise security in the Horn of Africa country. “During the visit of Prime Minister of the Democratic Federal Republic of Ethiopia to Khartoum two weeks ago, the two sides agreed to provide the necessary support to what they called “Eritrean resistance” by all means that enable them to carry out tasks entrusted to them through allowing them to move freely along the joint border,” said the Eritrean Information Ministry in a press release on Monday “To this end, Major General Hamdi Al-Mustafa from the Sudanese government and a consul named Burhan at the Ethiopian Embassy in Khartoum were assigned to carry out the coordination effort for “Jihadist” organizations alongside the Qatari funding,” added the press release. Sudan Tribune

UN Says 160 000 Anglophone Cameroonians Fled Violence since 2016
Some 160 000 people have fled their homes in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions because of violence between anglophone separatists and government forces, the United Nations said on Tuesday. “The majority of the displaced have fled into the bush with little to survive on,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a report. “Others are hosted by local communities who are also grappling with adverse living conditions,” it added. The figure marks the UN’s first detailed estimate of the number of people displaced since the crisis began to escalate in late 2016. Previously the UN, encountering difficulties in accessing remote parts of the Northwest and Southwest regions, had said “tens of thousands” had left their homes. AFP

Student Killed, Others Hurt amid Protests in Senegal’s North
Senegal’s Interior Ministry says a student has been killed as security forces clashed with students protesting in the northern city of St. Louis. Interior Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye says 20 others were wounded after the clashes broke out at Gaston Berger University. He says an investigation will be launched into the student’s death. The death has provoked anger across Senegal, with students in the capital, Dakar, and the southern Casamance region blocking roads and burning tires. The students in St. Louis were demonstrating after not receiving their monthly payment from the government. Tens of thousands of high-achieving students in the West African nation receive payments to help with school fees. AP

How ‘Unconditional’ Is China’s Foreign Aid?
Chinese foreign aid is often referred to as having “no political strings attached,” and is therefore a more attractive option for many non-Western countries. But is it really free of constraints? For a long time, China was seen as a foreign aid recipient rather than a donor. It was only in 2007 that China started contributing to the International Development Association, the lending arm of the World Bank, and has since steadily increased its aid to developing countries, especially those in East Asia. Although, if you were a member of the older generation in China you might remember the period under Mao Zedong when Beijing, despite economic difficulties, was so generous with foreign aid that it was thought the government would rather feed the “brother countries” (fraternal states) than prevent its own people from starving. Deutsche Welle

Former French PM Calls for a Major New African-European Partnership
A new African-European partnership could help prevent a looming clash between the US on the one side and China and Russia on the other, says Dominique Villepin. Former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has called for a formal alliance between Africa and Europe to boost the growth and stability of both continents and also mediate between the US and Asia to prevent a looming clash between them. “I believe the capacity of America and Asia to avoid a large-scale confrontation that could destroy the world order depends on a strong Euro-African backbone,” he said this week in a speech to the SA Institute of International Affairs in Johannesburg. By “Asia” he was referring mainly to China and Russia. Daily Maverick