Africa Media Review for May 21, 2018

Burundi Voters Back Constitution Extending Presidential Term
Burundi’s voters approved a new Constitution that extends the presidential term from five to seven years, according to provisional figures released on Friday, handing a major victory to President Pierre Nkurunziza. Mr. Nkurunziza, who beat a two-term limit under the old Constitution through an electoral technicality to take a third term as president, is widely expected to run again, in 2020. The outcome “opens a chapter of harsh dictatorship, where the president will be beyond any other institution,” Agathon Rwasa, who led the campaign against the new Constitution, said ahead of the provisional results. Government officials, on the other hand, characterized the new Constitution as an emblem of national sovereignty and a path to a more efficient government. “People should not see this as allowing the president to have some particular power, but to give the president power to be a full president,” said Jean Claude Karerwa, Mr. Nkurunziza’s spokesman.  The New York Times

Burundi Opposition Rejects Referendum Result
The coalition led by main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa said on Saturday it did not recognise the result of a referendum on constitutional reforms that could leave President Pierre Nkurunziza in power until 2034. With provisional returns from all but one of the country’s 18 provinces showing support for reforms that could see Nkurunziza, already serving a controversial third term, start two seven-year terms in 2020, former rebel Rwasa slammed the exercise as a charade. “The electoral process has been neither free nor transparent, nor independent and still less democratic,” Rwasa said in a statement issued by his Amizero y’Aburundi coalition. AFP

Attack Kills at Least 17 in Niger Village Bordering Mali
At least 17 civilians of the Peuhle community were killed Friday night in the Niger locality of Aguey near the Malian border by armed bandits, sources said Saturday. According to local officials and media, the attack was perpetrated by young Tuaregs from neighboring Mali on board several motorcycles. In early May, Niger’s Fulani village council chairman Aboubakar Diallo, accused Tuareg vigilante militias in Mali, of committing abuses on Peuhles populations. Niger and Mali share a border of more than 800 km. Xinhua

DR Congo Ebola Outbreak ‘Not Global Emergency’
An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not yet an international public health emergency, the World Health Organization has said. It said there was a “strong reason to believe that the outbreak can be brought under control”. At least 45 people are believed to have been infected in the current outbreak and 25 deaths are being investigated. Cases emerged in a rural area with one now confirmed in the north-western city of Mbandaka. BBC

Fighting in Libya: Battle for Derna Intensifies
Forces loyal to the renegade General Khalifa Haftar are deployed around the eastern city of Derna, following his announcement of a new military operation to seize back control. The latest battle in the two-year war for control of a besieged city in eastern Libya has killed at least six fighters, another 14 were wounded in Derna. The Derna Protection Force is resisting attacks by the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army led by renegade General Khalifa Haftar. Al Jazeera

France Proposes 2018 Elections Plan to End Libya Political Stalemate
France has proposed an initiative to end Libya’s political impasse by holding parliamentary and presidential elections by the end of 2018 as per a United National timeline. The Head of the Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sirraj, Commander of self-styled army in east Libya Khalifa Haftar, Speaker of the House of Representatives Aqila Saleh and a representative from the High Council of State were invited to sign consent to the intuitive by the French Foreign Ministry. The date of signing has not been confirmed yet. A source from the HCS said US ad interim Chargé d’Affaires Stephanie Williams told the Head of the HCS Khalid Al-Mishri that the US State Department was mulling the French proposal over. Libya Observer

200 Arrests in Anti-Terrorist Operations in West Africa
More than 200 people were arrested last week in a joint anti-terror and security operation in the West African countries of Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin and Togo, the Burkinabe army said. “Fifty-two individuals were arrested in Burkina Faso, 42 in Benin, 95 in Togo and 13 in Ghana”, Colonel Blaise Ouedraogo told AFP late Friday. Explosives and contraband goods were also seized. At least two of those arrested in Burkina were suspected of being involved in jihadism, Ouedraogo said, adding that “40 sticks of explosives, 38 guns and 623 illegally registered motor bikes” had been found. Around 2,900 security and defence officers from the four countries took part, he added. AFP

Four West African Countries Meet to Fix Cross-Border Crimes
Ghana, Burkina Faso, the Republic of Benin, and Togo have met to find ways of combating cross-border crimes in the sub-region. These four West African neighbours have concluded that crimes were trans-National activities that affected development of these countries in the sub-region. The round table meeting which was a follow up to operation “Kondanlgou-2018” being executed by the four-member countries was aimed at checking and stopping trans-border crimes and to strengthen ties between the security apparatuses of these countries. It was also to ensure the safety of residents at the borders of the various countries. GhanaWeb

Makuei: Parties Agreed to ‘Form Inclusive Government’
South Sudan’s information minister Michael Makuei said the warring parties have made some progress at the ongoing peace talks in Addis Ababa today. In a press statement this afternoon from Addis Ababa, Makuei said the parties agreed to form an inclusive government in South Sudan. “So far we have agreed on inclusivity. This is something agreed even though we are still in disagreement on the type of inclusivity,” he said. The official revealed that no progress made on power sharing between the parties. However, he said the thematic committee on security agreed on cantonment of forces. Makuei, who is also the government spokesman, said his government made concessions for the sake of peace in the country, while accusing the opposition of sticking to its positions. Radio Tamazuj

Juba Mulls Referendum on Creation of States
The South Sudan government is considering holding a referendum on the controversial states created in 2015 by a presidential decree. Juba said the move would resolve the strong dispute among the various armed factions which still considered the additional states null and void. “The question of the number of states is for the people of South Sudan to decide. Government expresses a strong popular demand for the creation of even more states. “Therefore, the views of the people of South Sudan should be sought on the matter,” the government said in its position paper presented to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad). It also wants the regional bloc to seek the views of the people of South Sudan on the question of the states. The East African

South Sudan: More than 200 Child Soldiers Released, UN Says
Two hundred and ten child soldiers have been released in South Sudan, bringing the total number of underage fighters freed so far this year to 806, a UN spokesman said on Friday. Farhan Haq told reporters that “additional releases are expected in the coming months that could result in more than 1,000 children being freed.” He said that during Thursday’s release ceremony, which took place in the eastern city of Pibor, the children were formally disarmed and given civilian clothes. The children and their families would now be provided with three months’ worth of food, vocational training and education, he added. It was the third such release ceremony this year, according to Haq. Deutsche Welle

Inside the World’s Largest Refugee Camp: ‘We Just Want to Go Home’
‘Where is the money?” Salva Kiir, the president of South Sudan, asks his deputy, Riek Machar. “I bought guns,” Machar says. “Where are the guns?” Kiir insists. “I will show you,” Machar’s reply is sarcastic. Kiir is vexed. “I will remove you.” “We shall meet in the bush,” Machar says, his ego bruised. “We shall meet in the bush,” Kiir retorts. Gunshots ring out. People are killed. And so begins South Sudan’s civil war, as interpreted in a play by a class of primary school children. This is how they explain why their lives have been uprooted, why they have been forced to flee their homes, and why they have ended up here, in Bidi Bidi in north-west Uganda, the largest refugee settlement in the world. For the last five years, South Sudan has been riven by civil war since President Kiir accused his deputy of launching a coup. The Guardian

1,000 Ethiopians in Saudi Prisons to Be Freed: PM
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday said he had secured the release of 1,000 Ethiopians from Saudi prisons. He broke the news on his return from the Kingdom. An hour after the prime minister’s plane landed at the Addis Ababa airport, an aircraft carrying 690 prisoners aboard arrived. Abiy addressed a huge gathering at the Millennium Hall in the capital heralding the good news. “We demanded the release of our citizens and the Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] responded positively,” Abiy said, hailing the diplomatic victory his delegation achieved during his two-day visit to the country. Anadolu Agency

25 African Migrants Come Ashore in Brazil after Sea Rescue
About two dozen African migrants were brought ashore in northeastern Brazil after being rescued at sea by fishermen, Brazilian authorities said Sunday. The government of Maranhao state said that 25 people from Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde along with two Brazilians landed Saturday. The boat with the migrants was adrift when they were rescued, according to the G1 news portal, which also said they had been at sea for weeks. Those aboard were dehydrated and received medical care and meals upon arrival, the state government said. They were taken to a sports complex where they would be housed for the time being. AP

Boko Haram Islamists Still Control Parts of Northeastern Nigeria
In Borno and Yobe states, residents told DW that militants of the so-called Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) — led by Musab al-Barnawi — held sway over a territory spanning an estimated 100 miles (160 kilometers). Boko Haram rebranded itself as ISWA when it aligned with Islamic State in 2015, the year President Muhammadu Buhari pledged to defeat the group. “Definitely Boko Haram is very much present in our area. They even mount roadblocks, conducting stop and search operations the way the military does. Luckily they don’t kill people in this area,” said Ahmad Muhammad, who lives in Damboa, Borno State. Residents also told DW the militants were collecting taxes from citizens in return for what they said was “protection”. The Nigerian military has refuted the claims, insisting that no territory was under ISWA control. Deutsche Welle

Killings, Kidnappings Mar Cameroon National Day Celebrations
As President Paul Biya led National Day celebrations in Yaounde on Sunday, several policemen were killed, soldiers wounded and mayors kidnapped in Cameroon by suspected armed separatists who had warned against celebrating the central African state’s national day in English-speaking regions. A Nigerian military contingent — part of the Cameroon effort to fight a Boko Haram insurgency — sang before Biya, cabinet ministers, diplomats and thousands of people during the National Day parade in Yaounde. Nigerian Lieutenant Colonel Mochtar Sani Daroda said the soldiers were invited by Biya to participate as recognition for their fight against the militant group that has left 25,000 people dead and more than 2.6 million displaced in Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger. VOA

Kenya’s Crackdown on Fake News Raises Questions about Press Freedom
Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta, has signed into law a bill that criminalizes abuse on social media and the spread of false information. According to Reuters, the bill allows for a fine of up to $50,000, two years of jail time, or both, to be imposed on any person who intentionally publishes false information. The act, according to a statement posted on the president’s official website on Wednesday, “provides for timely and effective detection, prohibition, prevention, response, investigation and prosecution of computer and cybercrimes.” It is called the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act 2018, and its scope is large: The bill covers activity from cyber-bullying to child pornography, false publications and illegal monitoring of data. NPR

African Nations Vow to Recover Stolen Assets
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron two years ago was caught talking about an anti-corruption summit and calling Nigeria “fantastically corrupt”. But meanwhile his country ranks among the top destinations for stolen assets from African countries. Nigeria and ex-British colonies in Africa hope to change that by working together to repatriate billions of dollars in offshore accounts from London and beyond. At a regional conference held this week in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, the heads of anti-corruption agencies from around Africa met to discuss strategies to overcome bottlenecks in the recovery of stolen assets. AFP

Africa Back on the Map for Gruelling Dakar Rally
The organisers of the world’s longest and most dangerous motor rally are planning to return to North Africa after a decade’s absence. The Dakar Rally, in which drivers once followed a treacherous 6,000-mile route through the remote deserts, scrubland and mountainous dunes of Senegal, Algeria, Niger, Mali, Guinea and Mauritania, was relocated to South America in 2009. It had been cancelled the previous year after a French family was murdered in Mauritania by terrorists linked to al-Qaeda. The organisers said that they were discussing with north and west African governments how to bring the race back in 2020 to parts of the continent where security had improved. “We already have some avenues open, notably in Algeria, Angola and Namibia, where we’ve had very high-level talks. The Times



Photo: Adam Jones