Africa Media Review for May 26, 2017

23 Killed, 25 Injured in Gun Attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt
At least 23 people have been reported killed and 25 injured in gun attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt, provincial governor has said. It was earlier reported that gunmen attacked a group of Coptic Christians in Egypt on Friday, killing a number of them, eyewitnesses said. The number of deaths in the attack in Minya province was not immediately known. Reuters

Egypt Officials Say Sinai Militants Kill 4 Security Forces
Egyptian security officials say separate attacks in restive northern Sinai peninsula where Islamic militants are active have left four security personnel dead. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media, say the first attack took place in the town of el-Arish when militants opened fire on an off-duty policeman. They said three conscripts in an armored vehicle were killed later in a roadside bomb explosion in the border town of Rafah. Egypt has in recent years been battling a stepped-up insurgency in northern Sinai, mainly by militants from an Islamic State group affiliate. The militant campaign accelerated after the military ouster of elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. AP

Militia Violence in Central African Republic Leaves 300 Dead
Militia violence in Central African Republic has killed around 300 people and displaced 100,000 in the last two weeks, the United Nations and the government said on Thursday, in the worst displacement since a 2013 civil war. The violence marks a sharp escalation in the long conflict that began when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition overthrew then-president Francois Bozize in 2013, prompting reprisals from Christian anti-balaka militias. Fighting in the last two weeks has hit the towns of Bria, Bangassou and Alindao, all hundreds of kilometres east of the capital Bangui, the U.N. humanitarian office and the minister of social affairs said in a joint statement. Reuters

France Deploys Drones to Support UN force in Central African Republic
A detachment of about 100 French soldiers has been operating the drones from a base in Chaumont, east of Paris, since 20 May, the army command revealed. The unmanned aerial vehicles are not armed and are used for intelligence-gathering to “better find out the threat that certain armed groups represent to civilian populations and territorial integrity”, according to Minusca spokesman Vladimir Monteiro. Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister at the time, promised to make the drones available in September 2016. France has 50 soldiers working as part of a European Union training mission in CAR. RFI

Congo Opposes International Probe of U.N. Investigators’ Deaths
Democratic Republic of Congo opposes an international investigation into the deaths of two U.N. investigators, the foreign minister said on Thursday, amid mounting criticism of the Congolese authorities’ own probe. Congolese military prosecutors announced last weekend that two alleged militiamen would soon face trial for the March killings of U.N. investigators Zaida Catalan, a Swede, and American Michael Sharp in the insurrection-plagued Kasai region. Rights groups, however, say they suspect Congolese forces could have been involved in the deaths. A U.N. spokesman on Tuesday cast doubt on the credibility of the Congolese investigation, saying the world body was “taken aback at the rapidity at which it was done”. Reuters

Pro-Haftar Forces Capture Strategic Airbase in S. Libya
Forces loyal to Libya’s Tobruk-based parliament have captured a strategic airbase in the country’s south following the withdrawal of forces loyal to the country’s UN-backed unity government, according to a local official. Pro-Tobruk forces, led by military commander Khalifa Haftar, assumed control of the Tamanhint Airbase on Thursday after pro-government forces withdrew from the area without a fight, Bilqassem Said, governor of the nearby Al-Bouanis municipality, told Anadolu Agency. One week ago, pro-government forces attacked another airbase in central Libya — the Birak Airbase — during which 141 people were reportedly killed. The deadly attack prompted an outcry among local residents, including tribal chiefs and civil society groups, who demanded that government forces withdraw from the airbase. Anadolu Agency

Libya Becomes a Key Focus of the Manchester Bombing Probe
British investigators searching for clues to the motives and possible accomplices of the suicide bomber who killed at least 22 at a concert in Manchester are increasingly focusing on Libya — and the Islamic State’s presence here. Authorities say that Salman Abedi, a British citizen of Libyan descent, spent four weeks in Libya, returning to Manchester days before he carried out Monday night’s attack, for which the Islamic State asserted responsibility. His brother, Hashem Abedi, was arrested in the capital, Tripoli, on Tuesday on suspicion of having ties to the group, and authorities say he was planning an attack in this Mediterranean city. The focus on Libya comes as the Islamic State branch here has fragmented into smaller groups, spreading across the nation and into neighboring nations. Investigators are trying to find out whether a network of plotters extended all the way to Libya. Did anyone help Salman Abedi build the bomb, and did he receive other assistance from Islamic State cells or operatives in Libya? The Washington Post

Charities Call on UK and EU to Pull Support from Libyan Coastguard That Opened Fire During Refugee Rescue
Humanitarian agencies are calling on the UK and European Union to pull support from the Libyan coastguard after officers opened fire during battles to save almost 2,000 refugees. Rescue ships operated by four charities were deployed by maritime commanders in Rome to help a dozen migrant boats in international waters, but were soon approached by two armed Libyan vessels. Gunshots can clearly be heard in footage taken from the Aquarius, run by SOS Méditerranée, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which shows one coastguard officer pointing a machine gun at refugees packed in a rubber dinghy. The Independent

Spanish Navy Rescues 282 Migrants from 2 Boats Off Libya
Spain’s defense ministry says a navy frigate has rescued 282 migrants from two boats found adrift in waters off the Libyan coast. A ministry statement says the migrants rescued Wednesday included 18 Eritrean children under 10 years old. They were sailing in a small rubber boat and a larger wooden one. The statement Thursday says the migrants were from African and Asian nations. They were transferred to a British vessel also taking part in the European Union’s anti-smuggling mission in Libyan waters. The ministry says the rescue brought to 3,035 the number of migrants picked up by the frigate in the past three months. It says three alleged traffickers were detained. AP

Two More Kenyan Police Die in Latest Roadside Bombing
A roadside bomb killed two Kenyan police near the Somali border on Thursday, police said, making it 11 Kenyan security officials that have been killed by roadside bombs over the past two days. The string of bombings, most of which were claimed by Somali Islamist insurgents, underscores the difficulty facing Kenya’s government as it tries to secure the country ahead of national elections scheduled for Aug. 8. “Our officers were going to boost an ongoing operation at around 10 am and on the way their vehicle was hit by an IED (improvised explosive device) around the Liboi area, which is near the location of yesterday’s attack,” Garissa County Police Commissioner James Kianda, told Reuters by phone. Liboi is in the northeast of the country on the Somali border. Reuters

Asian Kenyans Seek to Be Declared a Tribe of Their Own
Kenya’s national census used to classify them as “Other.” Now, Kenyans of Indian and Pakistani descent, many of whose forebears helped build the nation and fight colonialism but who have often been secluded from mainstream Kenyan life, are demanding official recognition for the first time. The “Other” want to become Kenya’s 44th ethnic group. That, at least, is the ambition of people like Shakeel Shabbir, Kenya’s first member of Parliament of Asian descent, who supports the fledgling movement to have Asian Kenyans officially classified as an ethnic group. Asians, a term that in Kenya refers to those from the Indian subcontinent, have long enjoyed economic success, but many feel excluded from the country’s political and social fabric, Mr. Shabbir said. Unlike the Kikuyu or the Kamba, the Maasai or the Samburu, Asian Kenyans do not belong to a “tribe,” as the census officially refers to distinct ethnic groups. In politics, too, Asians lack representation. There are only four Asian Kenyan lawmakers in the national Parliament, and Kenya has never had an Asian government minister. The New York Times

U.A.E. May Fly Warplanes From Somalia as Africa Reach Grows
A proposed United Arab Emirates base in semi-autonomous northern Somalia may add a naval facility to a military airport, extending the Arab nation’s reach on the Horn of Africa coastline, a Somali official said. The U.A.E. has leased the airport in the Somaliland port town of Berbera for 25 years and is still negotiating terms of use, Somaliland Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire said in an interview. Berbera is located on the Gulf of Aden, about 260 kilometers (162 miles) south of Yemen, where U.A.E. troops in a Saudi Arabia-led coalition are battling Houthi rebels, and on the approach to the Bab el-Mandeb, a choke-point in global shipping that gives tankers access to the Red Sea and Suez Canal. “It will be like any other base in the world,” Shire said by phone. “They’ll use it as a sort of surveillance facility, a training facility, and sometimes as an operational facility.” An official at the U.A.E.’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t respond to requests for comment. Bloomberg

Ethiopia Jails Opposition Politician for Six Years over Facebook Post
An Ethiopian court sentenced an opposition politician to six and a half years in prison on Thursday over a series of anti-government comments on Facebook that it said encouraged terrorist acts, his lawyer said. Yonatan Tesfaye, a former spokesperson for the opposition Semayawi Party, was arrested in 2015 and charged in May last year over remarks he made about anti-government protests on the social media site. Hundreds of people died in anti-government demonstrations in 20015 and 2016 in the Horn of Africa nation. Since then, more than 26,000 people have been detained, including many opposition activists, according to an April parliamentary report. A state of emergency has been partially lifted, but many restrictions are still in place. Reuters

Signs of More Trouble in Ivory Coast as Hidden Hand Saves Mutineers
When a rag-tag group of soldiers launched a mutiny in Ivory Coast earlier this month, it looked like they were doomed. A column of elite troops quickly descended to put the mutiny down. The rebels were running out of ammunition and the armories had been locked. Then, the phone rang. According to one of the mutiny leaders, the caller, whose identity the mutineers declined to disclose, told them where they could find weapons: at the home of an aide to the parliament speaker. The group initially feared a trap, but when they reached the location, they found dozens of crates of rifles, machineguns, grenade launchers and ammunition. Freshly armed, the mutineers were able to hold their ground. Swiftly, President Alassane Ouattara’s forces sent in to crush the mutiny began falling apart, according to one Special Forces officer who was part of it. The column U-turned and headed back to Abidjan, and for a second time this year, mutineers had brought Ouattara’s government to its knees. Reuters

SADC Sets Up Election Observer Mission in Lesotho
Tanzanian Foreign Minister Dr Augustine Mahiga says The Southern African Development Community (SADC) will stand up if anyone doesn’t accept the outcome of an election declared free and fair after the mountain kingdom’s June 3 poll. The minister, who is heading the SADC Election Observer Mission, launched it in Maseru and says it is disappointing that when Lesotho should be celebrating Africa Day it is preoccupied with forming and stabilising government. SADC says Lesotho is ready for elections and the atmosphere is peaceful about 41 Observers from 9 SADC member states will be deployed for the June 3 elections. But SADC believes if Lesotho had implemented constitutional reforms as advised, the government would not have collapsed again. SABC

Zambia Plans to Move Its Capital from Lusaka to Ngabwe in the Centre
Zambian authorities are planning to move the capital city from Lusaka in the southern part of the country to Ngabwe in the centre. The decision was announced by the Minister of National Planning Lucky Mulusa who said the choice has been proposed to the cabinet as Lusaka congested and disqualified to be the capital city, local media Lusaka Times reports. “When you look at Lusaka in the next 10 years, the city will not be able to sustain us. The rate at which commerce and industry and official activities are growing cannot be met with Lusaka’s ability to grow its capacity,” Mulusa said. Africa News

South Africa to Give Zambia its Démarche over Barring Maimane’s Entry
The South African government is to call in the Zambian High Commissioner to demand an explanation for why his government prevented DA leader Mmusi Maimane from entering Zambia on Thursday evening. “We intend calling in the Zambian High Commissioner to come and explain this whole thing to us,” Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations, said on Thursday night. He confirmed that this would be a “démarche”, the strong form of diplomatic protest which the DA had demanded. Monyela also said that an official from the SA High Commission in Lusaka had been at the airport to receive Maimane but had been unable to help him. Daily Maverick

Populism on the Rise as SA, Namibia Gear Up to Elect New Presidents
[…] There are interesting similarities and differences between the two cases. As in many other countries, both states have a strong executive Head of State. There are term limits for the president of the country, if not for the president of the party. Both countries have constitutions that provide for a democratic governance structure, guided by the rule of law. But in both cases the state presidency has so far been decided by the parties in power. Both governing parties came to power after armed liberation struggles in which a culture of secrecy and suspicion was widespread. Both had to negotiate a regulated transition from a minority regime to a legitimately elected government. In both, returned exiles played key roles once their parties were voted into government. The African National Congress (ANC) and the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) had to adapt to a liberal democratic order that included transparency and accountability as part of civic demands and expectations. In both cases the constitutions provided for strong executive presidents with far-reaching influence and power, along with the rule of law and multi-partyism. News 24

Ugandan President Hosts SPLM Factions Meeting
Between 25 and 26 May 2017, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni the President of Uganda, is hosting a meeting aimed at the reunification of the different factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). According to several officials from the different factions of the fragmented ruling party, the meeting will be held in Kampala and moderated by the Ugandan leader. Each faction is represented by the top official in the capacity of the secretary general and a senior member. President Salva Kiir’s SPLM faction is represented by its acting Secretary General Jemma Nunu Kumba, Presidential Advisor Daniel Awet Akot and military figure Simon Kun Puoch. Sudan Tribune

Insecurity, Underfunding Hamper Nigeria Hunger Relief
Aid agencies warn that humanitarian efforts against hunger in northeastern Nigeria are dangerously underfunded and some communities remain cut off from aid and their farms as the military continues to battle Boko Haram. Communities in northeastern Nigeria are facing the dual threats of hunger and the terrorist group known as Boko Haram. The zone has been identified by aid agencies as one of four conflict-torn parts of the world at risk of famine this year. The United Nations Children’s Fund estimates that the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition will reach 450,000 this year in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe. Scott Paul, a senior humanitarian policy advisor for the international charity organization Oxfam America, was recently in northeastern Nigeria. He said the biggest driver for the humanitarian emergency is the inability for residents to access their farmlands, fishing sites and the markets. VOA

Equatorial Guinea Approved as Latest OPEC Member
Equatorial Guinea has become the 14th member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Africa’s third biggest oil producer said in January that it was seeking to become the sixth country from the continent to join OPEC after its Mines and Hydrocarbons minister met with officials in Vienna to submit his country’s bid. OPEC president, Khalid al-Falih who is Saudi Arabia’s Energy minister, on Thursday officially welcomed Equatorial Guinea’s Mines and Hydrocarbons minister, Gabriel Obiang to the group at the 172nd OPEC meeting in Vienna. Africa News

Tunisian Businessmen Arrested in ‘War on Corruption’
Tunisia declared a “war on corruption” on Wednesday after the arrest of three businessmen and a customs officer suspected of graft and financing protests. Corruption was widespread under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the president who was ousted in a 2011 uprising, and has remained endemic since. “In the war on corruption, there’s no choice. It’s either corruption or the state. Either corruption or Tunisia,” said Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. “I want to reassure all Tunisians that the government will see this war on corruption through to the end,” he said in his first comments since the arrests started on Tuesday. A senior official, on condition of anonymity, said that businessmen Chafik Jarraya, Yassine Chennoufi and Nejib Ben Ismail along with customs officer Ridha Ayari were arrested Tuesday “under the state of emergency” in force in Tunisia since November 2015. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones