Africa Media Review for May 25, 2018

Angolan Journalist Rafael Marques Named ‘World Press Freedom Hero’
Angolan journalist Rafael Marques has won a top press freedom award for braving decades of government harassment in his quest to fight corruption through journalism. The journalist who has been jailed in the past for reporting on the plunder of Angola’s natural resources, was named ‘World Press Freedom Hero’ by the International Press Institute (IPI). IPI’s World Press Freedom Hero award honours journalists who have made significant contributions to the promotion of press freedom, particularly in the face of great personal risk. The award will be presented to Marques on June 22 in Abuja, Nigeria at the IPI’s annual World Congress and General Assembly. IPI will also present the 2018 Free Media Pioneer Award to Philippine news website Rappler. Africa News

At Least Seven Killed by Car Bomb in Benghazi, Libya
At least seven people were killed and 10 wounded when a car bomb exploded on a busy street in the center of the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Thursday night, a hospital medic said. The bomb exploded behind the Tibesti hotel, the city’s biggest, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, on a street where people were taking a stroll after a day of fasting until sunset in the holy Muslim month of Ramadan. No more details on the bombing were immediately available. Eight cars parked on the street lined with shops were destroyed. Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, is controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA), the dominant force in eastern Libya led by commander Khalifa Haftar. Reuters

US Airstrike in Somalia against Al-Shabaab Kills 10 Fighters
The US military says it has carried out an airstrike outside Somalia’s capital that killed 10 extremists. The US Africa Command says it has carried out 14 such airstrikes so far this year against the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab extremist group, which continues to hold some rural areas of the Horn of Africa nation. Dozens of US airstrikes were carried out last year after the Trump administration approved expanded military operations against al-Shabaab, which was blamed for an October truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people. AP

Somaliland and Puntland in Heavy Gunfight
The armies of the breakaway Somaliland and Puntland states early Thursday engaged each other in heavy fighting, reports said. Both sides reportedly used light and heavy guns in the clash at Tukaraq District, about 1,100km northwest of the Somali capital Mogadishu. The casualty figures were not immediately available. Somaliland and Puntland have had long-standing border disputes, particularly over Sool and Sanaag regions that separate them. Somaliland controls most of the disputed territories. The East African

10 Militia Killed in DR Congo: Army
Ten suspected Ugandan militia members have been killed in an army offensive on a rebel base in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the DRC military said Thursday. The early morning operation in the Beni region of North Kivu province targeted the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militia created by Muslim radicals to oppose Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni which also operates in the DRC. General Marcel Mbangu, operations commander against Ugandan rebels in North Kivu, told AFP that at midday “provisional estimates” showed 10 ADF members had been killed. Witnesses described hearing explosions from heavy and light weapons. AFP

Sudan Military, Rebels Clash in Jebel Marra: Statement
The Sudan Liberation Movement -Abdel Wahid (SLM-AW) said they repelled a fresh government attack on their positions in the southern part of Jebel Marra area in Central Darfur state. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the SLM-AW said the fighting, which took place in Kara Gobo area, lasted for 18 hours on Wednesday and resumed on Thursday for six hours. The rebel group said they killed 37 government forces, adding that 82 Land Curser vehicles, an Antonov bombardier and a military chopper took part in the fighting from the government side. In a related development, the newly appointed Central Darfur Governor Mohamed Ahmed Gad Elsid vowed to hunt the rebel fighters from their hideouts in the caves of the mountainous Jebel Marra area. Xinhua

Burundi’s Opposition Asks Court to Reject Referendum Results
Burundi’s main opposition coalition asked the constitutional court on Thursday to invalidate the results of last week’s referendum on constitutional changes to allow the president to stay in power until 2034. The leader of Amizero y’Abarundi’s parliamentary group alleged that the vote was marred by intimidation and abuses. Pierre Celestin Ndikumana told reporters they were optimistic “considering the extent of the complaints.” The government of the East African nation did not immediately respond to the legal challenge. The election commission on Monday said more than 73 percent of 4.7 million voters supported the constitutional amendments, which include extending the president’s term from five years to seven. That could give President Pierre Nkurunziza another 14 years in power when his current term expires in 2020. AP

Burundi Accused of Widespread Rights Abuses before Referendum
The UN Security Council is meeting to review the security situation in Burundi amid reports of widespread human rights abuses. The country has just voted in a referendum on constitutional amendments boosting the powers of President Pierre Nkurunziza. Since anti-government protests and a coup attempt in 2015, unrest has killed hundreds of people, and about 400,000 are still in refugee camps. Al Jazeera

Now Eyes on Uhuru as Mega Corruption Scandals Pile Up
Reports of multi-billion shilling corruption scandals that could undermine the Jubilee administration’s four pillars of growth have turned the spotlight on President Uhuru Kenyatta. The latest resurgence of theft at the National Youth Service (NYS) and the fraudulent payments for maize supplied to the National Cereals and Produce Board come as his administration is working to lay the ground for affordable housing, manufacturing, universal healthcare and food security that the President hopes will shape his legacy. Standard Media

Rwanda, US Eye Trade War over $1 Billion Used Clothing Market
[…] Under the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), qualifying African countries are granted duty-free access to the US market for 6,500 exported products. The law was, which passed in 2000, is credited for increasing Africa’s export sector, with duty-free exports from the continent to the US market almost quadrupling to over $1 billion since the law was enacted. In March, the US warned Rwanda it would lose some benefits under the the act, after Rwanda increased tariffs on second-hand clothes to support its local garment industry. Trade officials acted after receiving a complaint in March last year from the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), a US-based organization which represents companies that collect and resell Americans’ used clothing. Selling America’s used clothing — much of it donated to charities and the bulk of it originally made outside the United States — is a nearly $1 billion industry. Exports typically end up in poor nations. Africa is a key destination. SMART said the EAC duty increase violated AGOA. PRI

New Ebola Tactics Raise Hope but May Sow Confusion
Although there is optimism that the Ebola outbreak in central Africa can still be quickly contained, the fight is already becoming more complex, health experts said this week.Novel tactics — a new vaccine already in use, and new antibody or drug treatments that may be deployed — raise hopes that the outbreak will be quickly extinguished. Nonetheless, they may sow confusion because the treatments are unfamiliar to a wary and terrified population.There are now 58 confirmed or suspected victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo, of whom 27 have died, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. Three cases were in health care workers.In one alarming development, three patients fled from an Ebola ward overseen by Doctors Without Borders in a hospital in Mbandaka, a city of more than one million about 60 miles from the outbreak’s rural epicenter.The first patient, who was about to be discharged, left Sunday night, and two others were removed by their families late Monday night despite pleas from hospital workers that they stay.One patient then died at home, and the family returned the body to the hospital for burial. The New York Times

Mozambique House Backs Constitution Reform to Bolster Peace
Mozambique’s parliament Wednesday approved constitutional changes on how provinces are governed, meeting a key demand of rebel leader Afonso Dhlakama who died this month. Decentralisation of power was a central issue in peace talks between President Filipe Nyusi and Dhlakama, the head of the Renamo opposition party that also maintains an armed fighting force. “Today we approved the punctual revision of the constitution. We owe this to the great leader,” Ivone Soares, head of Renamo’s parliamentary group, said. Mr Dhlakama died on May 3 in Gorongosa where he had been hiding since October 2015 and from where he was negotiating with President Nyusi. Provincial governors will now be selected by the party that wins local elections rather than be appointed by the president — opening the chance for Renamo to govern some provinces after the 2019 vote. The East African

Burkina Faso Cuts Diplomatic Ties with Taiwan after Intense Pressure from China
Burkina Faso has cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, following intense Chinese pressure on African countries to break with what it regards as a wayward province. Taiwan now has only one diplomatic ally left in Africa – the tiny kingdom of Swaziland – and formal relations with just 18 countries, many of them poor nations in Central America and the Pacific. The foreign ministry’s statement made no direct mention of China, but said “the evolution of the world and the socio-economic challenges of our country and region push us to reconsider our position”. Taiwanese and Chinese officials had no immediate comment. China is Africa’s largest trade partner, with massive investments in mining, construction and banking, although it has been less active to date in Burkina. The Telegraph

More Refugees Flee Carnage in Central African Republic
Thousands of people continue to flee violence in the troubled Central African Republic and the United Nations says many lack access to humanitarian care. Its response plan requesting $515 million launched in January is barely 10 percent funded. Hundreds of Central Africans sing in the Cameroon border town of Garoua Boulai to officially welcome 30 of their fellow citizens who crossed over from the C.A.R. to Cameroon within the past week. It has become a weekly event to welcome people fleeing the carnage and socially integrate them into their community or reunite them with family members. Among the newly arrived is 37-year-old Pierre Magnou. He said he and his family were targeted by armed gangs firing automatic weapons and burning houses in areas of the C.A.R capital, Bangui, two weeks ago. VOA

Central African Republic: Little Peace to Keep, but 4.7 Million Lives to Live
It’s a little-covered war, one that occasionally pops up in international headlines but mostly upends lives out of view of much of the world. This three-part series picks up where the headlines leave off, assessing how UN peacekeeping operations are faring against a spiralling conflict, looking at the violence that hobbles humanitarian efforts, and talking with rape victims fending for themselves years after they were abused by the peacekeepers sent to protect them. IRIN

Eastern African Intelligence Chiefs Meet in Uganda over Information Sharing
Intelligence and security officers from Eastern African countries have gathered in Uganda to discuss better ways of sharing information. The 5th meeting of intelligence and security heads of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and East African Community kicked off Wednesday in Entebbe, about 40 km south of the capital, Kampala. General Elly Tumwine, Uganda’s minister of security said the meeting provides an opportunity for the chiefs to review the security situation of the Eastern African region, especially pertaining to terrorism, which remains a major threat. “We need to learn from the countries that have been handling such problems. We shall learn and share information much faster to enable us to defeat these (terrorists) groups which have connections,” said Tumwine.

Morocco’s Rif Protest Leader on Hunger Strike
The leader of demonstrations that rattled the northern Moroccan town of Al Hoceime in 2017 has started a hunger strike against his solitary confinement, his father said on Thursday. Zefzafi is on trial for charges including threatening national security. He was arrested in May 2017 and transferred to a prison in Casablanca after organizing demonstrations in his hometown of Al Hoceima in what came to be called as “Hirak al Chaabi”, or popular movement, venting frustration at economic problems. “Nasser (Zefzafi) is on a hunger strike since Tuesday night in protest of his solitary confinement conditions,” his father told Reuters. “He is only asking to meet his colleagues in prison, but authorities refuse him so,” Zefzafi’s father said. Reuters

UN Adopts Measure Linking Conflict to Hunger and Starvation
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday that for the first time recognizes the link between conflict and hunger and strongly condemns the use of starvation as a method of warfare. The resolution calls on all parties to conflict to comply with international humanitarian law that bans attacks on civilians and critical civilian infrastructure including farms, markets, water systems and other essential items to produce and transport food. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently reported that the number of people who are “food insecure” is on the rise for the first time after decades of decrease and that the main cause is conflict. The U.N. World Food Program reported in March that between 108 million and 124 million people in conflict situations suffer from severe malnutrition. AP



Photo: Adam Jones