Africa Media Review for May 29, 2018

Suspected Islamists Behead 10 in Mozambique
Ten people including children were beheaded in a village in northern Mozambique in a weekend attack blamed on suspected Islamists, local sources said on Tuesday. The attack occurred in Monjane, a village not far from Palma, a small town gearing up to be the country’s new natural gas hub. “We were informed about this tragedy,” Palma’s administrator David Machimbuko told AFP, with the information also confirmed by a local religious leader, who blamed Islamists. AFP

20 Killed in Suspected Jihadist Attack in Mali: Sources
Around 20 people including civilians were killed in a suspected jihadist attack in northeastern Mali near the border with Niger, sources said. The deaths came after more than 100 people including many civilians, particularly from the Fulani and Tuareg communities, died in recent months as a result of attacks by rival armed groups in the region. A local official in the town of Talataye — where Saturday’s attack took place — said late Sunday that the assailants arrived in three vehicles and on a motorcycle. Khalil Toure, a teacher, added: “They opened fire on a group of people resting under a tree, killing five people on the spot and wounding two.” Daily Nation

Mali President Confirms He Will Run for Re-Election
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced on state TV on Monday that he would run for re-election in a poll scheduled for the end of July. Keita, 73, had been widely expected to run for a second term, but had not confirmed his intention. He faces growing political opposition in the capital Bamako, especially among a disaffected youth, and a raging Islamist insurgency and tit-for-tat ethnic killing in the north. “I present myself as a candidate in the presidential election of July 29,” Keita said on state TV. “I ask you to trust in me again.” A dozen other candidates have announced their candidacy, the strongest of which is seen as opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, a former finance minister. Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo Clashes Leave 30 Dead
At least 30 people, including 11 civilians and five soldiers have been killed since Thursday during clashes between the army and Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels, according to the military. The fighting in the localities of Mbau-Kamango and Eringeti in North Kivu province remains ongoing, according to Great North Sokola1 operational area spokesman Capt. Mak Hazukay Mongba. The clashes between the army and ADF rebels began following a rebel attack on civilians, he said. “After getting information that ADF rebels had killed 11 civilians in Mbau-Kamango, the army pursued them. During an exchange of gunfire, 14 rebels and five soldiers got killed,” he said. Anadolu Agency

DRC Tense as Joseph Kabila Keeps Everyone Guessing
Will President Joseph Kabila still pull a rabbit out of the hat to enable him to run for an unconstitutional third term in December?  Tensions are rising in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as President Joseph Kabila increasingly shows signs of intending to run for an unconstitutional third term as head of state in elections due on 23 December, 2018. Legally, all presidential candidates must register by 23 June, so the clock is now ticking ominously for the already very troubled central African state. Kabila has already over-extended his second and supposedly last term by about 17 months, citing delays in updating the voters roll. This postponement of elections has sparked several protests which the government violently suppressed. Daily Maverick

Central African Republic Continues Slide to Full-Scale War
The United Nations reports Central African Republic’s five-year-old civil war is intensifying and has now spread to practically all parts of the country, even to those areas in northern and central CAR that have been relatively stable. The U.N. says once safe areas, such as the capital Bangui and the country’s second city and commercial hub, Bambari, have become war zones. Aid agencies note the country’s critical situation has dramatically worsened during the past year. They say an upsurge in violence has driven up the number of internally displaced people by 70 percent, to nearly 690,000 in less than a year. Refugee numbers also have gone up 25 percent to more than 575,000. VOA

Cameroonian Army Kills Scores in Anglophone Region
Twenty-two people were killed in clashes with the army in Cameroon in the latest violence to hit the restive northwest, where separatists from the English-speaking minority are fighting for greater autonomy. The identity of those killed was not immediately clear, with the army describing them as “terrorists” and villagers saying they were criminals. The clashes come after the US ambassador to Cameroon accused government forces earlier this month of carrying out targeted killings and other abuses in the fight against the independence-seeking militants. “Twenty-two people were killed in Menka during a confrontation a group of people that were presented as criminals,” said Nji Tumasang, a member of the English-speaking opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) in Santa, the area in which the town of Menka is located. Deutsche Welle

Ebola Vaccinations Begin in Congo’s Northwest Town of Bikoro
Officials began vaccinating health workers and others on Monday in Bikoro, where Congo’s current Ebola outbreak was first declared at the beginning of May. Congo’s Health Minister Oly Ilunga traveled to oversee the Ebola vaccinations of at least 10 people in Bikoro, where at least five of 12 Ebola deaths have happened. Bikoro Hospital director Dr. Serge Ngalebato said he and other health officials were vaccinated for protection when treating Ebola patients. “We who are on the front lines of caring for the sick. We are reassured,” he told The Associated Press by telephone. Monday’s vaccinations included three doctors at Bikoro Hospital, two health experts, two nurses, one representative of women in the community and one pygmy representative, he said. AP

Gambia’s Dictator Ordered a Witch Hunt. This Village Is Still Haunted by It.
Yahya Jammeh was 15 years into his tenure as Gambia’s autocratic leader in 2009 when, according to local media reports, he ordered security forces to round up hundreds of “sorcerers” — reportedly in retribution for the death of his aunt, who he said was killed by witchcraft. Over the next seven years, Jammeh directed sporadic “witch hunts” across the West African country of 2 million, a practice confirmed by Gambia’s government. Armed soldiers targeted poor, elderly farmers, forcing them to drink a hallucinogenic liquid before pressuring them into confessing to murders by sorcery, according to victims. Interviews with more than 20 victims and dozens of witnesses and local leaders in two rural villages revealed a pattern of kidnappings, beatings and forced confessions that have had lasting health implications on survivors and resulted in several deaths, according to surviving family members and neighbors. The Washington Post

Madagascar Court Orders President to Form New Government
Opponents of the government, including former presidents Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, say the legislation approved in April favors the incumbent. The president of the republic shall terminate the functions of the government and proceed to appoint a consensus prime minister from a list of at least three names within a period of seven days from the publication of this decision, the Constitutional Court said Friday in a statement on its website. The president shall also issue a decree on the appointment of representatives for the national assembly, the senate and the High Council for the Defense of Democracy and of the Rule of Law, the court said.  Bloomberg

Spain Rescues over 500 Migrants from Mediterranean
Spanish authorities rescued 532 migrants this weekend from more than 15 boats making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. Spanish rescue boats intercepted eight small boats with almost 250 people onboard off Spain’s southern coast on Sunday, a day after they rescued close to 300 people from nine vessels. The migrants were from various countries in North and sub-Saharan Africa. Three of the boats intercepted on Sunday were in such a bad state that they sank just moments after their occupants were pulled out. Favorable weather in the Strait of Gibraltar, the narrowest passage of the Mediterranean Sea separating Spain from Morocco, is prompting more and more migrants to undertake the perilous sea journey. Deutsche Welle

UN Security Council Likely to Slap Sanctions on Senior S. Sudan Officials
United Nations Security Council is expected next Thursday to impose sanctions on the South Sudanese government, officials including Defence Minister and Minister of Cabinet Affairs who chairs the government delegation to the peace revitalization forum. Also in the same meeting of 31 May, the 15-member body will adopt a resolution renewing the measures related to targeted sanctions in order to support the search for an inclusive and sustainable peace in South Sudan. The United States which is the penholder on South Sudan circulated a draft resolution on 25 May at an informal meeting. The adoption requires nine Yes votes out of the 15 total votes. Sudan Tribune

Innovating Security Solutions on the Seas in the Seychelles
The Seychelles’ 455 square kilometers of land area is dwarfed by its 1.37 million square kilometers of sea. So its response to piracy and other evolving maritime threats—including unreported and unregulated fishing, pollution, and smuggling, among others—needed to be swift and innovative. Today its environmental, economic, and security plans include unique reforms and innovative partnerships generate benefits that reach well beyond its shores. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

EU to Observe Zimbabwe Polls for First Time in 16 Years
The European Union will deploy observers to Zimbabwe’s general election expected in July, the first time in 16 years the bloc will monitor polls in the southern African country. The EU and Zimbabwe’s government signed a memorandum on Monday outlining guidelines for election monitors. Zimbabwe formally invited the EU in March to send an election observation mission. The elections will be the first since long-time ruler Robert Mugabe was removed from power last November following a brief military take over. Mugabe’s successor President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 75, will be squaring off against Nelson Chamisa, 40, of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. AFP

Kenyan Authorities Detain 50 in Anti-Corruption Drive
Kenyan authorities have detained more than 50 top officials and executives after widespread public anger prompted by allegations of the theft of more than $100m (£75m) at government agencies. After more than a week of front-page stories in Kenyan newspapers and a flood of hashtags on Twitter, the prosecutor’s office announced on Monday that prosecution would begin of all the suspects named in a file prepared by the police’s criminal investigations department. The suspects include the head of an agency, dozens of senior officials and four members of the same family, involved in business. President Uhuru Kenyatta, who pledged to stamp out graft when he was first elected in 2013, moved swiftly to deflect public resentment. “We are not going to tolerate unethical people. People with responsibility must be ready to serve and not to be served,” he said on Monday. The Guardian

After Snubbing Taiwan, Burkina Faso Establishes Diplomatic Ties with China
Burkina Faso and China formally established diplomatic ties on Saturday, days after the West African nation broke off relations with Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing has been trying to isolate on the global stage. Burkina Faso’s decision was the latest blow to Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory. The island is now left with 18 diplomatic allies — many of them poor nations in Central America and the Pacific, like Belize and Nauru; only one is in Africa, the tiny kingdom of Swaziland.It was the second ally to break with Taiwan in less than a month, as China’s economic clout and geopolitical influence have made it difficult for countries to maintain alliances. The New York Times

African Nations Are Fed Up with the West’s Hand-Me-Downs. But It’s Tough to Keep Them Out.
When spring cleaning comes around in the United States, dropping well-loved clothes into a donation box can feel like an act of selflessness. Those stained sweaters, summer camp T-shirts and out-of-fashion shorts will clothe someone needier, right? It’s actually a little more complicated. Most of America’s castoff clothes are sold by the Salvation Army, Goodwill and others to private companies. Bales of used clothing are then shipped by the container-load, mostly to sub-Saharan Africa, in what has become a billion-dollar industry. African governments have become increasingly fed up. What many in the West think of as a gesture of generosity, they say, is preventing them from building their own apparel industries. In March 2016, four East African countries decided to raise tariffs on used clothing, in some cases to as much as 20 times the previous rate.  The Washington Post

UN Agency Chief: Africans Fear Fallout of US-ZTE Standoff
The U.N. telecommunications agency’s chief says several African countries are concerned about the possible fallout if Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp. collapses in a standoff with the United States. Houlin Zhao, secretary-general of the International Telecommunications Union, said such concerns were raised at the Transform Africa conference in Rwanda this month. Speaking Monday to reporters in Geneva, Zhao summarized the concerns that if ZTE’s systems were stopped, “then our systems would be stopped as well.” ZTE said this month it had halted its main operations after the U.S. government blocked it from importing American components for seven years. The Commerce Department accused the company of misleading U.S. regulators over sanctions against North Korea and Iran. AP

African Union Gender Investigation Is ‘Window Dressing’
The African Union’s promised investigation into systemic gender discrimination risks becoming nothing more than “window dressing”, say staffers. Last month, a Mail & Guardian investigation revealed that at least 37 women employees at the African Union Commission (AUC) had complained of a “professional apartheid” that sidelines women, as well as routine “ill-treatment and humiliation”. In response, AUC Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat promised to launch an investigation into these issues. “I want to make clear — I will not allow discrimination against women under my watch. I have ordered an investigation to get to the heart of these allegations. Gender parity is at the heart of this Administration. This is my personal conviction and professional duty to all staff,” he said. Mail and Guardian

International Day of UN Peacekeepers 29 May
[…] UN secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be in Mali, widely accepted as one of the most difficult and dangerous UN peacekeeping deployments, to “express my solidarity with colleagues facing high casualties and enormous volatility”. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of UN peacekeeping, the flagship enterprise of the world body described by Guterres as “a proven investment in global peace, security and prosperity.”  “We express our gratitude to the more than a million men and women who have served under the UN flag, saving countless lives. We honour the more than 3,700 blue helmets who paid the ultimate price over the past seven decades. And we pay tribute to the 14 peacekeeping missions working around the clock to protect people and advance the cause of peace,” he said in a message to mark the day. DfefenceWeb

Malian Immigrant Hailed for Heroic Rescue, Offered French Passport
A young Malian migrant was on Monday offered French citizenship, after he scaled the facade of a Paris apartment block to save a 4-year-old child hanging from the fourth-floor balcony. Mamoudou Gassama met with French President Emmanuel Macron two days after the dramatic rescue, where he was also given a medal for bravery, and offered a job with the Paris fire brigade. “I have also invited him to apply for naturalization. Because France is a state of mind, and Mr Gassama has shown with determination that he has it!” Macron added. Gassama has been living illegally in the French capital after arriving in September 2017. Deutsche Welle



Photo: Adam Jones