Africa Media Review for May 3, 2018

Militants Attack Libyan Election Commission, 14 Killed
Islamic State suicide bombers attacked Libya’s election commission in the capital on Wednesday, killing at least 14 people in the worst such attack in years that aimed to disrupt a nation-wide vote planned for later this year. The two bombers infiltrated the building in central Tripoli and fired on people inside, then detonated their explosives when their ammunition ran out, IS said in a statement circulated by its affiliated Amaq news agency. The Health Ministry earlier said the attack also set fire to the building, which could be seen in online videos showing thick black smoke billowing upward and security forces engaging in a gun battle. IS and other Islamic extremists in Libya oppose democratic elections, which the United Nations and Libya’s foreign backers are urging to take place this year despite security problems in the oil-rich North African country. Militants have often targeted elections in other countries, and IS has called for attacks on voting infrastructure in Libya. AP

Nigeria Mosque Attack Death Toll Rises to 86
Eighty-six people were killed in a double suicide bombing in northeast Nigeria, gravediggers said. The death toll given on Wednesday was far higher than the 27 people police said had died. The Adamawa police command told Al Jazeera an additional 58 people were wounded in Tuesday’s attack in the town of Mubi, which has been blamed on Boko Haram. A suicide bomber detonated explosives at a mosque during afternoon prayers. As worshippers fled, a second bomber exploded a device about 200 metres away. Al Jazeera

Suspected Jihadists Kill at Least 16 Tuaregs in Northern Mali
Suspected Islamist militants killed at least 16 Tuareg civilians in attacks in northern Mali, just days after 40 Tuaregs were killed during similar raids on neighboring villages, local authorities said on Wednesday. The attacks occurred on Tuesday in the village of Tindibawen, 160 km (100 miles) east of the town of Menaka near the border with Niger, and in a nearby village, Menaka Mayor Nanout Kotia told Reuters. Local lawmaker Bajan Ag Hamatou said 16 Tuareg civilians had been killed in the attack. The MSA-GATIA, a Tuareg militia coalition in northern Mali, said jihadists had executed 17 civilians, including elderly people burnt alive in their homes. Reuters

Death Toll from CAR Sectarian Violence Rises to 19
Central African Republic’s president on Wednesday declared three days of mourning as the death toll from renewed sectarian violence in the capital rose to 19, with nearly 100 others wounded. New details emerged of an attack on a church that was targeted Tuesday along with mosques and health facilities in Bangui’s PK5 and Fatima neighborhoods, with a priest among the dead. President Faustin Touadera promised justice, saying the perpetrators and their accomplices would be found and prosecuted. Until then, he called for restraint. VOA

South Sudanese President Appoints New Army Chief
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has appointed General Gabriel Jok Riak as the country’s new army chief of staff. Riak, according a decree issued on Wednesday, succeeds General James Ajongo Mawut who died last month. The order of appointment came into effect in a decree Kiir issued on 2 May. Riak, who hails from South Sudan’s Jonglei state, briefly served as the acting army chief of staff after the position recently became vacant. A former deputy army chief of staff, Riak also served as sector commander in Bahr el Ghazal region before moving to the general headquarters for top level assignment at command leadership. Sudan Tribune

Libyan Commander Haftar Faces Torture Allegation in French Lawsuit
A lawsuit has been filed in France against Libyan army commander Khalifa Haftar alleging torture and barbarism, the plaintiff’s lawyer in France, Rachel Lindon, said on Wednesday. The suit, which aims to get the French government to open an investigation into operations by Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), was filed last month on behalf of a Canadian-Libyan living in Canada. Several members of the plaintiff’s family were killed during a three-year LNA campaign to take control of Benghazi, Libya’s second city. Reuters

Algeria Summons Moroccan Ambassador
Algeria summoned the Moroccan ambassador late Wednesday to protest accusations that Algiers had helped facilitate alleged Iranian support for the separatist Polisario Front. Speaking to Algeria’s official news agency APS, Algerian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abdulaziz bin Ali al-Sharif said Moroccan ambassador Hasan Abdulhalik was summoned to the Foreign Ministry. Sharif said the ambassador was informed that the Algerian government completely rejects “untrue statements” made Tuesday by Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita which were indirectly attributed to Algeria. Anadolu Agency

Somalia Must Speed Overhaul of Fragile Army to Face Militants, Say Donors
Somalia should accelerate reforms of its army, its main foreign backers said on Wednesday after discussing slow progress in transforming the graft-ridden force into one capable of fighting al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants. The statement from a donor summit in Brussels urged Somalia to work faster to address problems identified in a report last year by the government, the United Nations and the African Union (AU). That report called the Somali National Army (SNA) a “fragile force with extremely weak command and control”, and comes as AU peacekeepers prepare for their departure in 2020, leaving the local military in charge of Somalia’s security. Reuters

How Will the Somalia-UAE Diplomatic Row Affect AMISOM?
In early April, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) stopped its capacity building support for security institutions and humanitarian aid to Somalia. This was due to growing diplomatic disputes between the two countries. The move comes at a time when the international community, in the form of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), is considering its exit by 2020/21. How will the UAE’s withdrawal of its support affect AMISOM’s exit strategy? AMISOM has been in Somalia since 2007 with the mandate to support the government in restoring peace and stability. It does this by building the capacity of state security bodies and reducing security threats posed by al-Shabaab and other militant groups. AMISOM has worked in collaboration with other bilateral and multilateral bodies such as the UAE. Daily Maverick

UN Official: UN Backs Talks, Not Elections in South Sudan
The United Nations opposes a plan by South Sudan’s government to move to elections if warring parties are unable to reconcile differences at peace talks now scheduled to start May 17, the U.N.’s deputy peacekeeping chief said Wednesday. Bintou Keita, who recently returned from South Sudan and Ethiopia, told reporters that high-level shuttle diplomacy is taking place to try to reduce the gap between the parties and improve prospects for success at talks that been delayed three times since April 26. She said it was “wise” for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional group known as IGAD, to delay resuming the High-Level Revitalization Forum in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and acknowledge that the parties are “so far apart that there is a need to have some kind of homework” first rather than “ticking a box and saying we have had a meeting.” AP

Sudan Says Evaluating Participation in Yemen’s War
The Defence Ministry on Wednesday said it is assessing the participation of the Sudanese troops in the Saudi-led war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Speaking to reporters at the parliament on Wednesday, the State Defence Minister Ali Mohamed Salim said his ministry is currently evaluating pros and cons of the participation in the Yemen war in order to decide on it soon. He added the assessment is being carried out by the Defence Ministry and the General Staff of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), pointing out that the evaluation covers several aspects of the participation in the war. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Shuts 13 Diplomatic Missions, Cut Staff over Economic Conditions
President Omar al-Bashir has ordered the closure of 13 Sudanese overseas missions and job cuts at the foreign ministry due to an economic crisis in his country, state media reported Thursday. Bashir’s order comes days after he fired Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour after he said Sudanese diplomats abroad had not been paid for months. “President Omar al-Bashir issued a decree ordering the closing of 13 Sudanese diplomatic missions,” the official SUNA news agency reported early Thursday, quoting the decree. It did not name which missions were to be shuttered. Daily Sabah

‘Joyce Banda Still under Probe,’ Says Malawi Anti-Graft Body
Malawi’s anti-corruption agency says that newly-returned former president Joyce Banda was still under investigation over the massive graft scandal that erupted while she was in office. Banda returned to Malawi at the weekend after four years of self-imposed exile, saying she had done nothing wrong and had no fear of being arrested. But Malawi’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) dismissed claims that she had been cleared of all allegations over the “Cashgate” scandal, in which officials siphoned off millions of dollars of public money. “This is not true,” ACB director general Reyneck Matemba told Wednesday’s Nation newspaper. AFP

Madagascar Army Calls for End to Political Crisis
Madagascar’s defence minister has appealed to warring political parties to reach an agreement, as anti-government protests in the capital continued for a twelfth day. President Hery Rajaonarimampianina has refused to yield to opposition demands that he resign, seven months ahead of a general election. The opposition accuses the government of trying to elbow them out of the race, through new electoral laws they claim benefit the incumbent. “We, the law enforcement officials, call loud and clear for the leaders of the political parties involved in the current crisis to be responsible and find a solution as soon as possible,” said Defence Minister, General Beni Xavier Rasolofonirina. AFP

Uhuru Promises ‘A New Kenya’ in National Address
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has reaffirmed his commitment to national unity following his decision to work with opposition leader Raila Odinga two months ago. In his 5th State Of The Nation address to the joint National Assembly and Senate on Wednesday, President Kenyatta conceded that last year’s elections divided the country down the middle and threatened national unity. He said that the various political leaders failed in their duty to preserve the unity of the country and they must now make amends. The East African

‘I Printed More Money to Save Mugabe from a Coup,’ Says Ex-Central Bank Chief
Zimbabwe’s former central bank governor Gideon Gono says he printed more money during his tenure to prevent a coup by “hungry soldiers”. According to the privately owned Standard newspaper, Gono, who spoke during a business conference in Chinhoyi last week, said that he was forced to print more money in a desperate attempt by then president Robert Mugabe’s government to prevent a coup by “hungry soldiers”. Gono said that although he was aware that the move would trigger hyper-inflation, it had to be done to prevent an insurgence from hungry soldiers. He said that the cash was used to appease the troops. “If we had not done what we did printing money and allowing inflation to skyrocket, then the men and women you see in those beautiful uniforms, they were ready to get out of their barracks.”  News 24

The Challenge for Ethiopia’s New Leader: Unleash the Economy
Ethiopia’s new leader faces a critical decision on whether to open up parts of the Horn of Africa nation’s booming economy after making moves to reduce the stake of the military, former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said. Premier Abiy Ahmed inherited what the International Monetary Fund ranks as Africa’s fastest-growing economy when he took office in early April. But he also confronts the biggest challenges to the ruling coalition’s power in a quarter-century as sporadic unrest against its authoritarian rule and inter-communal violence threaten the federal structure of Ethiopia, a U.S. ally in its battle against Islamist militants in the region. Bloomberg

No Gold Rush for South Sudan
Mining for gold is the only source of income for many people living in the eastern part of South Sudan. But the country is not benefiting from it, because most of the gold discovered is quickly smuggled out of the country. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan reports from Kapoeta state, where gold digging is a way of life. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones