Africa Media Review for May 21, 2019

The Many Drivers Enabling Violent Extremism in Northern Mozambique
The armed Islamist movement in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, known locally as “al Shabaab” (no direct relation to the Somalian militant group) or “Swahili Sunnah” (the Swahili path), among other names, is responsible for over 100 deaths, destruction of property, and the displacement of thousands of people. The group first gained attention with an attack on a police station in October 2017. Inspired by the teachings of the late radical Kenyan preacher Aboud Rogo, the group was seen as young and brash—and at odds with the established Muslim Council in the region. Failing to win over the Muslim leadership, the group went on to establish its own mosques and madrassas and recruited from local youth by playing up feelings of disaffection. Since May 2018, the group’s attacks have become less discriminate and more violent—to include beheadings. Numerous villages have been attacked, with over 1,000 homes burned or destroyed. Militants, moreover, are reported to have begun kidnapping women and girls. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

In Africa, All Jihad Is Local
Those who argue that there is a significant link between the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the Islamic State point to financing given to the rebels by transnational jihadis and videos released by the ADF featuring Islamic State iconography. But the extent of the relationship remains murky. Much clearer are the ADF’s local ties. It was founded as a coalition of dissident groups, both secular and religious, in response to repression by the Ugandan government. Since then, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, “the ADF has taken on many faces ranging from Salafi-Jihadi to secular-nationalist, ethno-nationalist, and secessionist, with each aimed at different audiences and employed for different purposes.” That makes fighting the group challenging; governments face the “difficulty of determining which of these identities is dominant at a given point in time.” And although the ADF may now use rhetoric that aligns its activities with transnational jihadi groups, it has spent years brokering relationships with local politicians and businessmen, recruiting members by speaking to local grievances, and embedding itself in the communities where it operates in eastern Congo.  Foreign Policy

7 Dead in Southern Mali after Attack Near Burkina Faso
Authorities in Mali say at least seven people are dead after an attack in Koury, near the West African country’s troubled border with Burkina Faso. Amadou Sangho, spokesman for the Interior Security Ministry, said the dead include four civilians, two gendarmes and a customs official. The attack took place Sunday night when gunmen on motorcycles opened fire, killing seven people. A similar attack happened in Boura, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) away but no one was killed. There was no immediate claim of responsibility though Islamic extremists are known to be active along the porous border with Burkina Faso.  AP

Voters in Malawi Go to Polls to Elect President, Parliament
More than 6 million Malawians are voting Tuesday for president, parliament and local councils in the country’s sixth election since the 1994 end of dictatorship. Of a field of seven presidential candidates, incumbent 78-year-old President Peter Mutharika faces stiff competition from his vice-president, Saulos Chilima, 46, and from Lazarus Chakwera, 64, leader of the main opposition, the Malawi Congress Party. Malawi’s winning candidate must get the most votes cast but is not required to receive more than 50% of the votes. Previous president Joyce Banda dropped out of the race and is supporting Chakwera. Of the registered voters, 54% are young people between the ages of 18 and 34. Women make up 56% of the registered voters while all the presidential candidates are male.  AP

Sudan Protesters Plan General Strike as Talks Falter
Sudanese protest leaders called on their supporters Tuesday to prepare for a general strike after talks with the country’s military rulers stalled on who will lead an agreed three-year transition. Protest leaders had reached agreement with the ruling military council on the other main aspects of the transition. But early on Tuesday, the generals who overthrew veteran president Omar al-Bashir last month baulked at protesters’ demands for a civilian head and a civilian majority for an agreed new sovereign council to lead the transition. “In order to achieve a full victory, we are calling for a huge participation in a general political strike,” said the Sudanese Professionals Association, which took the lead in organising the four months of nationwide protests that led to Bashir’s ouster. “The strike is our revolutionary duty and the participation in the sit-in … is a crucial guarantee to achieve the goals of the revolution.” AFP

Sudan Revolution Struggles to Keep Momentum
In a working-class neighborhood of Khartoum, six friends helped topple Sudan’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir. Now, as they hope for a transition to civilian power, they are afraid their protest is devolving into a street party, and that the military will remain in control. […] Abbas is the leader of a “resistance committee” in the city quarter of Burri-Lamab. And his small cell aided the primary organizers of the large marches from the very beginning, back in December 2018. It is a small unit, but intricately linked to other similar cells in the city. It has a core comprised of a security chief, a poster coordinator, a chant leader, a lead fighter and a negotiator. There are at least five of these committees in the Burri district. When the protests started, there were around 30 active groups in the city. The cells have been loosely organized under the Sudanese Resistance Committee for the last six years. Once the marches began, many new cells popped up. Indeed, the country’s recent revolution is very much a story of these cells. Never before had protesters in the country organized themselves to such a degree.  Der Spiegle

DR Congo’s Tshisekedi Names New Prime Minister
DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi on Monday named the head of the country’s railways, Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, as the next prime minister, a move that came nearly four months after his inauguration. Ilunga Ilunkamba was appointed under “the political agreement” between Tshisekedi and his predecessor Joseph Kabila “regarding the creation of a coalition government,” presidential spokesman Kasongo Mwema Yamba Yamba said. Ilunga Ilunkamba, whose government career spans decades, replaces Bruno Tshibala, who had been appointed by Kabila in 2017. Ilunga Ilunkamba’s aides gave his age as 78.  France 24

Congo’s Ebola Crisis Threatens to Spiral Out of Control
More than 1,100 people have died from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Despite information campaigns, new treatment facilities that reduce disease transmission and an effective new vaccine, the outbreak is spreading because of ongoing violence and residents’ deep distrust of government. Nick Schifrin talks to International Rescue Committee’s David Miliband about the growing crisis. Today, the head of the United Nations’ health agency called an outbreak Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo one of the most complex emergencies that the WHO has ever faced. More than 1,100 people have died from the deadly virus in two provinces along the borders of three countries. That makes it the second worst Ebola outbreak ever. But, as Nick Schifrin reports, experts fear the outbreak is increasing and that the virus could soon spread. PBS

Community Conflict in Eastern Chad: At Least 31 Dead since Thursday
At least 31 people have died since Thursday in eastern Chad, during three separate clashes between indigenous Udderian farmers and Arab tribal herders, according to official sources. In the province of Sila, at least 19 people died and several were wounded between Sunday and Monday morning in the villages of Amchaloka and Amsabarna, a provincial authority told AFP. A hospital source in the province reported a higher death toll – 21 dead and 29 wounded – in the “violence that opposes since yesterday the Waddenians and Arabs”. Meanwhile, twelve people died Thursday in the neighboring province of Ouaddai in eastern Chad, in the attack on a village by several armed men, according to the provincial prosecutor, Hassan Djamouss Hachimi. As a result of this attack, “we proceeded to the arrest of thirty people”.  AFP

Libyan Fighters in Tripoli Get Armored Vehicles from Abroad
Fighters allied with the U.N.-recognized government in Libya’s capital said they have received armored vehicles and “quality weapons” despite a U.N. arms embargo on the country. A Facebook page linked to the Tripoli government posted photos on Saturday appearing to show more than a dozen armored vehicles arriving at port, without saying who supplied them. Supporters of the various militias allied with the government said the vehicles, which resemble Turkish-made Kirpi armored vehicles, were supplied by Turkey. Spokesmen for Turkey’s military and foreign ministry did immediately not respond to phone calls seeking comment. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last month his government would stand by Tripoli authorities as they repel an offensive launched by Khalifa Hifter’s self-styled Libyan National Army. AP

Libya Armed Group Cuts Off Water Supply to Tripoli
Gunmen have cut off the main water pipeline to Libya’s besieged capital Tripoli, spelling more misery for residents already reeling from weeks of fighting, residents and officials said. Armed men on Sunday raided a station of the Great Man-Made River Project, a pipe network that carries groundwater from the Sahara to the country’s western region, the project administers said. “Pumping from water wells has stopped after an armed group stormed the facilities and forced the workers to close all flow control valves and stop water well,” the statement said. The eastern forces of Khalifa Haftar’s Libya National Army (LNA) launched an assault on Tripoli in early April and are bogged down in southern suburbs by fighters loyal to the UN-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. Al Jazeera

Algeria’s Army Chief Says Elections Best Way Out of Crisis
Algeria’s army chief of staff has warned against calls by protesters to postpone the country’s presidential election, saying it were the best way out of the current political crisis. The announcement by Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah on Monday came just days after tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in cities across the country to denounce the army’s proposed plan. “Holding a presidential election could help [Algeria] avoid falling into the trap of a constitutional void, with its accompanying dangers and unwelcome consequences,” Gaid Salah said in a speech. Emphasising “the need to accelerate the establishment of an independent body to organize and oversee the election,” he said holding the poll “would stop those who are trying to prolong the crisis”.  Al Jazeera

S. Africa Ex-President Zuma Back in Court over Graft Charges
Former South African president Jacob Zuma arrived in court on Monday as he fights to have corruption charges against him over 1990s arms deal dropped before the case comes to trial. Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling ANC party last year, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering relating to the weapons deal dating back to before he took office in 2009. Zuma, 77, is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales during his time as a provincial economy minister and later as deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC). He allegedly pocketed around four million rand ($280,000) from 783 payments handled by Schabir Shaik, a businessman who acted as his financial adviser. AFP

Angola: Separatists Accuse President of Crackdown
Separatist fighters in Angola’s oil region of Cabinda, have accused President Joao Lourenço of pursuing the repressive policy of his predecessor José Eduardo dos Santos. Long-time activist for the cause to free Cabinda, Jeovanny, Ventura is indicted the regime of persecution. “What the Angolan state is doing to us is persecution. The authorities treat us like terrorists,” he says. “And it didn’t get any better with Joao Lourenço. Everything we organize always ends in detention.” Some 70 supporters of the Cabinda Independence Movement (MIC) were arrested while preparing a demonstration to celebrate an 1885 treaty that turned the Cabinda entity into a Portuguese protectorate. AFP

Zambia Seeks ‘Divorce’ from Vedanta over Alleged Mining Breaches
Zambia plans to strip Vedanta-controlled Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) of its mining license and bring a new investor into the operation, in a move likely to stoke international miners’ concerns about rising government intervention in the sector. Zambian President Edgar Lungu announced the plan on Monday, which his spokesman said followed a number of breaches of the terms of the license, without giving details. Zambia, Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, has also proposed tax changes that Lungu says he will push through, despite opposition from international miners which say they will deter investment that Zambia desperately needs. Some miners have already reduced or threatened to cut output, although First Quantum said it had abandoned plans to lay off workers. Union leaders on Monday called on Glencore to reverse its decision to close two shafts. Reuters

Facebook Shut Down a Network of Fake Accounts That Targeted African Elections—from Israel
As part of its fight to root out fake news and misinformation, Facebook is also going after networks of fake accounts. The social media giant has removed hundreds of Facebook and Instagram accounts, and Facebook Pages and Groups, involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” it said in a statement today. The network of accounts, Facebook says, were used to share content, including election-related news and criticism of targeted politicians, and “artificially increase engagement” while presenting themselves as locals and local news organizations. Facebook says “the individuals behind this activity coordinated with one another to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.” The pages and accounts have been removed “based on their behavior, not the content they posted,” Facebook stressed. The network of accounts spent over $800,000 on Facebook ads from 2012 till April this year. That helped it garner a significant audience. Around 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of the removed Pages, Facebook says. Quartz

Legislation in Canada Could Change How the World Deals with Frozen Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials
Several countries have laws on the books that enables governments to freeze the assets of corrupt foreign officials. Canada is one of those countries, and now one Canadian Senator is trying to take that law one step further by redistributing the frozen assets to those harmed by the actions of the corrupt official. Ratna Omidvar is an independent Senator from Ontario to the Senate of Canada. She is the author of legislation that is starting to make its way through the Canadian Parliament called the Frozen Assets Repurposing Act. The bill would seize the assets of corrupt and abusive foreign officials and redeploy those assets to the very people harmed by those foreign officials. This includes people displaced by the actions of corrupt and violent regimes.  UN Dispatch

Rapid Urbanization Presents New Problems for Africa
Africa has become the world’s most rapidly urbanizing continent. In sub-Saharan Africa, the urban population has doubled since the mid-1990s, and reached 400 million people in 2016. According to experts, 40 percent of the region’s total population resides in cities, compared to 31 percent in 2000. During the next 15 years, the United Nations predicts the world’s 10 fastest-growing cities will be in Africa. However, the development of infrastructure and industries has not kept pace with the growth in urban population. Sixty percent of city dwellers in sub-Saharan Africa live in slums, and only 25 percent have access to safe drinking water. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones