Africa Media Review for May 17, 2017

Ivory Coast Soldiers End Mutiny as Government Pledges Payout
Soldiers in Ivory Coast said they halted their protest after the government agreed to pay them bonuses, ending a four-day mutiny that paralyzed several cities and left two people dead. The government will pay each soldier 5 million CFA francs ($8,374) before the end of the week and another 2 million francs at a later date, soldier Tahirou Diarrrassouba said by phone on Tuesday from the second-biggest city and center of the mutiny, Bouake. Troops in other cities that joined the mutiny have also agreed to end the standoff, said Fousseni Cisse, another soldier in Bouake. “We’ve found an agreement with the government, the corridors are open again,” Cisse said. “I think it’s going to be fine this time. We’ve been heard.” Bloomberg

Regional Leaders Worry About Violence from Côte d’Ivoire Army Mutiny Spilling Over
West African leaders are concerned that violence from an army mutiny in Côte d’Ivoire could spread into the sub region, Liberia’s information minister told RFI on Tuesday. The mutiny by disgruntled Ivorian soldiers is the latest in a series of armed protests over a wage dispute with President Alassane Ouattara’s government. “The president of Liberia is calling on the mutineers to engage the government in a dialogue,” said Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, referring to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s role as chair of the Ecowas regional bloc. RFI

South Sudan President Restructures SPLA Leadership
South Sudan President Salva Kiir issued several decrees Monday night, creating major army leadership changes. The army will be restructured into three separate forces: a ground force, an air force and navy units. The changes are in line with resolutions approved in June by the fifth SPLA Command Council Conference. Kiir’s restructured army starts with the president at the helm as commander-in-chief. Under the new hierarchy, the chief of defense forces will have three assistant chiefs to oversee personnel and finance, training and intelligence, and logistics and procurement. Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the council would be the army’s supreme decision-making body. VOA

Why Kiir Had to Fire His Army Chief Malong
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir succumbed to international pressure to sack Chief of General Staff Gen Paul Malong, who represented an ethnic clique that has been holding him hostage. The sacking on May 9 coincided with the pending deployment of the United Nations-funded Regional Protection Force, which had an open mandate to deal with those who have been committing atrocities against civilians. United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has been on President Kiir’s case, accusing him of lacking the will to end the fighting and being reluctant to accept the deployment of the 4,000 Regional Protection Force. Commonly known as King Paul, Gen Malong was widely perceived as the “real” power behind President Kiir and the face of the Jieng Council of Elders (JCE) — the ethnic Dinka cultural group that controlled Cabinet appointments and key government decisions. The East African

Sudan President, Charged With Genocide, Is Invited to Saudi Summit with Trump
Sudan’s president, indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes including genocide, has been invited to a summit in Saudi Arabia alongside President Trump, a Sudanese government spokesman said Tuesday. If President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan attends the meeting this weekend with Mr. Trump, human rights advocates said, it would be a destructive breach of longstanding American policy. The United States is not a member of the International Criminal Court but has long sought to ostracize defendants who defy the court’s arrest warrants, including Mr. Bashir, who has led Sudan for nearly three decades. He was indicted in 2009 and 2010 on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s Darfur region. In refusing to honor the indictments, he has come to symbolize impunity toward the Hague-based court. The New York Times

Uganda’s President Warns Police, Army Against Torture
Uganda’s president has written a communique to the country’s army and police chiefs, warning against the torture of suspects. Yoweri Museveni’s letter comes barely two weeks after suspects arrested in connection with the murder of Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi in March, submitted court evidence of having been tortured. A week later, gruesome pictures surfaced of a town mayor with gaping wounds on his knees and ankles which were said to have been inflicted by police. In his letter on Tuesday, Museveni told the security forces that extracting confessions was not necessary if investigators got results from fingerprints, photographs, DNA tests and other scientific methods to secure convictions. Anadolu Agency

Ugandan Military to Investigate Its Troops over Alleged Sexual Abuses in CAR
The Ugandan military on Tuesday said it will investigate reports that its troops withdrawing from a regional mission in Central African Republic (CAR) were involved in sexual exploitation and abuses. Brig. Richard Karemire, the military spokesman told Xinhua by telephone that if the allegations are found to be true, the errant officers would be tried in a military court martial. “We can’t tolerate bad and errant soldiers. Once we get them they will be dealt with and punished according to our laws,” said Karemire. He said already two soldiers are being tried over similar allegations. Xinhua

Executions Increase in Somalia
In Somalia, a country long troubled by deadly violence, there’s a disturbing new trend: an increase in summary executions. Somali military courts and the militant group al-Shabab have each executed about a dozen people so far in 2017, all of them killed in public settings as crowds of between 30 and 300 people looked on. While executions in Somalia are nothing new, the sudden increase has drawn the attention of human rights groups like Amnesty International as well as the local European Union delegation, which has asked Somali authorities to enact a moratorium on the death penalty. VOA

Presidential Term Extensions a Democracy Issue in Africa
The African Union Commission says the extension of presidential term limits is a growing threat to democratic rule on the continent. Whilst the AU has taken a firm stance against regime change through military coups, the continental body has not been effective in dealing with the problem of extended presidential terms. The debate on the need to promote democratic values in Africa is currently underway at the 4th Session of the Pan African Parliament in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. A large majority of African states have moved to embrace constitutional democracy and the principle of two-term presidential limits. However, the measure has recently been flouted by several leaders who have used constitutional amendments to prolong their stay in office. SABC

Egypt Plans New Controls on Social Media
The Egyptian government is considering radical new proposals to restrict citizens’ access to social media. A draft bill circulated in Egyptian newspapers would require users to register with the government to access sites including Twitter and Facebook. Successful applicants would receive a login linked to their national ID. Unauthorized use could result in prison sentences and heavy fines. The draft was authored by MP Reyad Abdel Sattar of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, the largest party in parliament with 65 of 596 seats. He told the Egypt Independent it would: “facilitate state surveillance over social networks in Egypt by making users enroll in a government-run electronic system that will grant them permission to access Facebook.” CNN

DR Congo Jail-Break: Bundu Dia Kongo Leader Flees Kinshasa Prison
Members of a religious political sect have stormed a prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, freeing their leader and about 50 other inmates, a government spokesman says. Gunfire was heard near the prison in Kinshasa, as Ne Muanda Nsemi and other inmates escaped, witnesses said. Police are suspected to have shot dead several prisoners, witnesses added. Mr Nsemi is a self-styled prophet and the leader of an outlawed group seeking to revive the ancient Kongo kingdom. He was arrested, along with his three wives and son, in March following clashes between his supporters and police. BBC

Executions Increase in Somalia
In Somalia, a country long troubled by deadly violence, there’s a disturbing new trend: an increase in summary executions. Somali military courts and the militant group al-Shabab have each executed about a dozen people so far in 2017, all of them killed in public settings as crowds of between 30 and 300 people looked on. While executions in Somalia are nothing new, the sudden increase has drawn the attention of human rights groups like Amnesty International as well as the local European Union delegation, which has asked Somali authorities to enact a moratorium on the death penalty. VOA

Negotiations With Boko Haram Raise Hope, Questions
Nigerians celebrated last week as 82 of the Chibok schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram were released and returned to the capital, Abuja. A total of 103 girls have been released since the kidnapping more than three years ago. Despite the joy, questions remain about the fate of the 113 girls still being held captive. Additionally, some are questioning the ethics and long-term implications of the negotiating tactics used by the Nigerian government. Talks to free the girls date back several years. In October 2016, 21 girls were released, although few details were given at the time about what was exchanged for their release. VOA

C Africa Refugees Stream into DRC by the Thousands
Thousands of people fleeing troubled Central African Republic have streamed into Democratic Republic of Congo following an outbreak of sectarian violence in the border city of Bangassou, the UN’s refugee agency said on Tuesday. A UNHCR statement which described the flow as “massive” said at least 2 750 people arrived during the weekend in northern DRC. “The flow continued in some areas early this week,” the statement added. A UN peacekeeper was killed at the weekend, the sixth in a week, in an attack in Bangassou by the mainly Christian anti-Balaka group from CAR. News 24

Language of Peace Hard to Find as Cameroon Crisis Festers
It’s a Monday evening in Bamenda, the main city in troubled English-speaking Cameroon. The gates of the Vatican Express bus depot are shut, just like five other coach companies in town. Any other day and there would be at least five long-distance buses ready to leave for the rest of the majority French-speaking country. But once a week there’s a near-complete shutdown of businesses and public services. Mondays are now “ghost town” days throughout Cameroon’s two anglophone regions: Northwest and Southwest. The boycott action has been called by a civil society coalition protesting English speakers’ “oppression, marginalisation, and deprivation”. They are demanding the return to a pre-1972 federal constitution, when the entire western part of the country was self-governing. IRIN

Tunisia Extends State of Emergency for Another Month
Tunisia’s president has decided to prolong a state of emergency enacted because of a terrorism threat for another month. A statement from President Beji Caid Essebsi office issued on Tuesday said he consulted the prime minister and the head of parliament about the extension. It takes effect immediately. The state of emergency was put in place nearly 18 months ago. Presidential spokesperson Ridha Boughezzi says the extra time is needed because of “the demands of the fight against terrorism.” News 24

Why Jordan and Morocco Are Doubling Down on Royal Rule
Of the Middle East’s eight ruling monarchies, Morocco and Jordan are peculiar. Lacking the hydrocarbon wealth of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, they carry the reputation instead as moderate kingdoms being guided toward democracy by reform-minded, Western-oriented kings. For decades they have allowed elected parliaments, legal opposition and vibrant civil societies. During the Arab Spring, they responded to popular protests with reforms rather than repression. For some observers, then, these are oases of stability and enlightenment whose politics mirror Europe’s historical journey toward constitutional monarchy. In truth, Morocco and Jordan look good only because the rest of the Middle East looks so bad. It doesn’t take much to appear enlightened when stacked against such regional monarchies as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which in terms of civil and political freedom rate comparably with dictatorships such as North Korea and Turkmenistan. The Washington Post

Kenya: Tidal Wave of Aspirants Vying as Independents Worries Poll Observers
The high number of independent candidates in Kenya’s August elections has caused a stir in the country, as it emerged that once elected they could work in partnership with registered political parties. At the close of the May 10 deadline for parties to submit their aspirants’ lists and symbols to the electoral commission, there were 4,950 candidates who had applied to the Registrar of Political Parties to contest as independents. This was an increase by over 1,000 per cent from those who applied in 2013. The unprecedented high number, observers say, could affect the growth of multiparty democracy if a majority of independent candidates win in the August polls. The East African

Concern over Huge Number of Police Officers Assigned to VIPs
[…] Debate has raged about the huge number of police officers assigned to VIPs, some essentially used by the big shots to run personal errands, and whether this should be the case while the majority of the population is exposed to criminals. Kenya’s police force is estimated to have a total of 109,000 officers. Out of these, VIPs have up to 12,000 assigned to them as bodyguards, cooks and messengers. Some 13,000 are in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), 9,000 in the General Service Unit, 2,000 in the Anti-Stock Theft Unit and more than 4,000 in Administration Police guard vital installations. Others are deployed to escort cash from one place to another. About 4,000 help traffic movement across the country and hunt for drunken, careless and unlicensed drivers. Standard Media

How Long Can Ethiopia State of Emergency Last?
A decade of development in Ethiopia, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, is at risk if the country continues to ban political opposition and muzzle the media, the UN has warned. Ethiopia is now in its eighth month of emergency rule, which was imposed in October last year to crush its biggest protests in 25 years. The unrest started in the Oromia region in 2015, when the largest ethnic group, the Oromo, hit the streets demanding more rights. Demonstrations then spread to the Amhara region, home to the second major ethnic group. Al Jazeera

Trafficked into Slavery: The Dark Side of Addis Ababa’s Growth
It was the promise of education in Addis Ababa that led 11-year-old Embet to take the fateful decision to leave home. The young girl from Debat, a small town in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, packed up and left for the capital in the company of her older neighbour, who said that her relatives there would welcome her into their home, pay her 200 Ethiopian birr ($8) a month to look after their young children, and send her to school. “I thought I would enjoy Addis,” said Embet, tearfully. “The woman told me fancy things about it. I thought everything would be okay.” But it wasn’t. Despite the promises, Embet was never paid by her neighbour’s relatives, and she was never sent to school. She slept on a mattress in the living room, was barely fed, and suffered abuse at the hands of her employers. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones