Africa Media Review for May 31, 2017

Legal and Security Sector Implications of South Sudanese Renditions
On January 24, 2017, news emerged that two South Sudanese activists aligned to the SPLM-IO disappeared in Nairobi, reportedly abducted by South Sudanese agents in collaboration with members of Kenya’s security services. Samuel Dong Luak, a lawyer and former deputy chair of the SPLM-IO Committee for Constitutional Affairs, had fled South Sudan in 2013 after facing death threats. He parted with friends at 9 p.m. on January 23 to make his way to one of Nairobi’s residential estates—but never made it home. Aggrey Idri Izbon, the chair of the SPLM-IO Committee on Humanitarian Affairs, was taken by yet unknown individuals while jogging early the next morning. Following the intervention of Amnesty International, the UN Human Rights Commission, and the families of the victims, the Nairobi High Court initially ordered Kenyan police to investigate the disappearances. The Court subsequently issued conservatory orders on January 25 calling on the Department of Immigration to desist from extraditing them to South Sudan, where they were likely to face torture and ill treatment. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

South Sudan Ethnic Violence Hits New High as Civilians Flee
“He told me not to be afraid,” Evelyn Juma says, remembering her husband. Tears stream down the young woman’s face as she sits on her unmade bed, her newborn nursing at her chest. “That’s the last thing he ever said to me.” On the morning of April 10, when South Sudan government soldiers broke into Juma’s house in the northwestern town of Wau, the 24-year-old never dreamed it would be the last time she’d see her husband alive. “They kept asking him if our neighbors were Nuer and which tribe we were from,” she says. When her husband refused to turn over their friends, the soldiers forced him outside and shot him in the head. “I heard the gunshot,” Juma says, staring at her tiny daughter. She gave birth to the child, her first, just three days later. At least 16 civilians were killed in Wau that day in what Human Rights Watch has called an “act of collective punishment, with soldiers taking revenge against unarmed civilians based on their ethnicity.” What happened in Wau is not an isolated incident, according to human rights groups. Across South Sudan, accounts of government soldiers killing civilians based on their tribe are driving the country deeper into despair. AP

Vatican Scraps Plan for Pope To Go To South Sudan This Year
The Vatican said on Tuesday it had scrapped tentative plans for Pope Francis to make a visit this year to South Sudan, which has been hit by civil war, famine and a refugee crisis. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the trip “was not for this year” but did not say when it might now take place. Church leaders in the country said they had expected the pope would visit the capital, Juba, probably in October, but the Vatican had never announced the trip officially. Burke did not give a reason for the cancellation of the plans but Vatican and Church sources said it was a combination of security concerns and logistics. Reuters

Burundi Youth Militia Compares Opposition to Lice in Video
Burundi human rights activists expressed outrage Tuesday over an online video that shows pro-government youth militia members teaching young students songs comparing the opposition to lice. The video of Imbonerakure militia members follows a recent video in which they encouraged the rape and impregnation of opposition supporters. Burundi has been plagued by deadly political violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza successfully sought a disputed third term in 2015. Hundreds have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled the country. Lawyer and activist Lambert Nigarura told The Associated Press that the latest hate messages are meant to depict ethnic Tutsi as bad people, and he called it “the final step in preparation of genocide.” He urged the international community to take action against Imbonerakure activities in schools. AP

Burundi Leader, Nkurunziza, Dismisses 23 Army Officers
President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi on Tuesday discharged 23 army officers for not returning back from abroad, the Burundian army spokesman said. “On May 26, the Burundian president signed a decree whereby he revoked 23 officers of the army who had gone to do their master’s or doctorate studies in France, Belgium or Canada. “They went there and did not come back,’’ spokesperson Gaspard Baratuza said. According to him, those army officers had went to pursue their graduate studies between 2005 and 2008 and had to come back by 2013. “Some of those officers requested an extension of two years and their request was accepted. Premium Times

Somaliland Wants To Make One Thing Clear: It Is NOT Somalia
Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire is clearly frustrated. Somaliland is being hit by a regional food crisis that the U.N. has described as one of the largest humanitarian emergencies since 1945. More than a million of Somaliland’s four million people are at risk of starvation yet relief has been slow to come. “We are being treated unfairly,” Shire says seated in a conference room of a consulting firm in downtown Washington, D.C. He’s in town lobbying American lawmakers for what has become his perpetual cause — official recognition of Somaliland as a nation. “You know by lumping Somalia and Somaliland together, it is slowing down the delivery of assistance.” NPR

China-Built Railway Biggest Kenya Project Since Independence
Kenya’s president has opened the country’s largest infrastructure project since independence. The $3bn Chinese-backed railway project eventually will link a large part of East Africa to a major Indian Ocean port as China seeks to increase trade and influence. The newly opened line between the capital, Nairobi, and the port city of Mombasa replaces the one built by the British in the 1800s. President Uhuru Kenyatta says the project will benefit generations to come. Critics have said the project is overpriced and could be a conduit for corruption. Kenyatta has dismissed those claims. News 24

Uganda, Tanzania Sign Deal for World’s Longest Heated Pipeline
Uganda and Tanzania have signed a framework agreement on their proposed $3.55 billion (Sh366.68 billion) crude export pipeline on Friday, a key milestone for the project, which is expected to start pumping Ugandan oil to international markets in three years. An official at Uganda’s Ministry of Energy told Reuters the agreement covered terms on tax incentives for the project, implementation timelines, the size of the pipeline and local content levels, keeping it on track to complete in 2020. Adewale Fayemi, the manager for Uganda at Total, said the project will become “the longest electrically heated crude oil pipeline in the world”. “It’s a record,” he told Reuters, adding it will increase the flow of foreign direct investment and open a new phase of economic development in the region when completed. Standard Media

Scores Arrested in Connection with Morocco Rif Protests
Moroccan police have arrested 40 people in connection with protest movement that has shaken the country’s northern Rif region for months. The prosecutor of the northern coastal city of Al-Hoceima said that those held, including protest leader Nasser Zefzafi, would be investigated for “undermining the security of the state” and other criminal acts. For its part, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights (AMDH) said on Tuesday it had identified 50 people detained and that “the number of arrests continues to rise” and had passed 70 across the whole province. The state bears “full responsibility for the consequences of this repressive approach” in the face of peaceful demonstrations in support of “the legitimate demands of the people”, AMDH added. Al Jazeera

Nigeria’s Senate Passes Bill to Crackdown on Money Laundering 
Nigerian lawmakers passed a bill aimed at cracking down on money laundering by urging foreign countries where currency crooks are hiding to cooperate in prosecuting them, a senior official said on Tuesday. According to the bill, Nigeria may ask any country where a money launderer is hiding to help it prosecute the offender, or prosecute that person itself. In the second case, Abuja would supply the country with evidence to support a conviction. Development in the OPEC member, which has Africa’s largest economy, has been stunted by endemic corruption. Most people live on less than $2 a day despite the country’s vast energy wealth, much of which has been plundered by a rich elite. VOA

Amnesty Says Egypt Law Threatens to Annihilate Rights Groups
A new law ratified by Egypt’s president that imposes unprecedentedly harsh restrictions on NGOs could be “a death sentence” for human rights groups in the country, rights group Amnesty International said Tuesday. In a statement, it called the law, signed by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi a day earlier, “a catastrophic blow for human rights groups working in Egypt.” “The severity of the restrictions imposed by this law threatens to annihilate NGOs in the country, at a time when the authorities’ escalating crackdown on dissent makes their work more important than ever,” said Najia Bounaim, the group’s North Africa campaign director. The law comes as part of el-Sissi’s wider crackdown on dissent since he rose to power in 2013, when he led a military overthrow of his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi. The New York Times

Sudan Ratifies Ban on Egyptian Imports, Fueling Tension
The Sudanese Cabinet ratified on Tuesday a ban on the import of Egyptian animal and agricultural products, a development that’s certain to deepen months of tension between the two neighbors over a long-running border dispute. Sudan’s official news agency, SUNA, said the Cabinet also required businessmen to import goods directly from the country of origin, not though Egypt — its neighbor to the north. Sudan first banned Egyptian agricultural imports in September, citing health concerns. It later expanded the ban. Relations between Egypt and Sudan have recently been fraught with tension, with Khartoum renewing its claim to an Egyptian-held border territory. The two countries’ dispute over the so-called Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea dates back to British colonial times. AP

Ailing African Presidents Leave Nations in Leadership Limbo
Nigeria, Angola and Zimbabwe are being left in leadership limbo as their ailing rulers spend weeks abroad seeking medical attention. The presidents of the three African nations all wield considerable power, and their absence has stoked investor uncertainty and stirred talk about succession. The situation hasn’t been helped by their governments’ failure to disclose what’s wrong with them. “Despite an average population age of around 17 to 19, many sub-Saharan African countries have elderly leaders in their 70s or above,” said Charles Robertson, Renaissance Capital’s London-based chief economist. “The benefit of experience can be offset when illness incapacitates elderly leaders. A healthy democracy like Nigeria now has institutions which function well when the president is ill. In less transparent countries like Angola or Zimbabwe, leadership changes can prove so unpredictable that some investors are deterred from investing at all.” Bloomberg

Watch: Saif al-Islam Qaddafi Freed by Libyan Court
Issa al-Saghir, the attorney-general of the Ministry of Justice in the Libyan interim government, said that Saif al-Islam has been released by power of law. The minister of justice asked the “Abu Bakr al-Siddiq” battalion, which is protecting him in prison, to release him. The Libyan Justice Minister said that the battalion is keeping Qaddafi in a safe place, for his personal safety. The battalion published video of the statements of the Libyan minister on its pages of social media sites. The deputy of the Ministry of Justice in the interim government stressed the necessity to release the son of Qaddafi, which came under the law of amnesty No. 6 in 2015. Issued by the legislative power of the Parliament. Al Arabiya

The Day Road Rage Led to a Treason Charge in Zambia, as Democracy Falters in Africa
It began as a road rage incident between the president and opposition leader of Zambia, a southern African country once seen as a beacon of democracy. Two political convoys were speeding along a perilously narrow rural road on April 8 when the opposition leader, Hakainde Hichilema, refused to pull off to let President Edgar Lungu’s caravan roar past — a move that landed him in jail facing treason charges and a possible death sentence. Observers of African politics see Hichilema’s arrest as part of a troubling trend in several nations in sub-Saharan Africa. Video of the roadway incident shows the two convoys headed in the same direction, the presidential train of vehicles in the rear. As Lungu’s convoy tries to pass, police vehicles — with lights flashing and sirens blaring — occasionally dart toward Hichilema’s convoy, apparently trying to intimidate his convoy to move over. Los Angeles Times

US Special Ops General Sees Decades-Long Struggle in Africa
The U.S. military faces a two-decade struggle to help bring stability to Africa, where the lack of an overall government strategy is complicating operations, according to the general in charge of special operations on the continent. “(T)here are too many conflicting perspectives when it comes to what the (U.S. government) policy should be for Africa,” U.S. Special Operations Command Africa’s Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc said in a recent article. “The problems in Africa defy solution within a single fiscal year, or the two- to four-year tour of a Geographic Combatant Command commander.” Bolduc, writing in the Sunday issue of the online Small Wars Journal in an essay titled “The Gray Zone in Africa,” said it will take “at least a generation for a policy to become effective.” Stars and Stripes

Senegal’s Ex-President in New Power Bid at 91
Senegal’s former president Abdoulaye Wade, aged 91, will head a list of opposition candidates for parliament in an election to take place on July 30, according to aides. The announcement was made on Monday night after a broad opposition coalition of more than 40 parties broke up, said supporters of Wade, who ruled the west African country from 2000 to 2012. Some movements and associations in the coalition backed the mayor of Dakar, Khalifa Sall, who was jailed in March on suspicion of embezzlement but will still top a separate list of candidates, according to his supporters. The deadline for submitting candidates in the poll expires overnight on Tuesday. There is no age limit on people standing for parliament. News 24

Time for EAC to Lower Its Sights; Throw Out Federation Dream
The 18th East African Community Heads of State Summit finally took place in Dar es Salaam last week, after being put off three times. At one point, Burundi requested postponement to remember the assassination of president Cyprien Ntaryamira, when the plane of Rwanda’s Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down near Kigali in 1994. Another was put off to allow Kenya to complete its party primaries ahead of the General Election in August. The reasons sound plausible, but Burundi’s “Assassination Day” and the dates for party primaries in Kenya were known well before the Summit dates were set. So, were these the real reasons for rescheduling? Sceptics suspect deeper problems. Interpersonal relations between the EAC heads of state seem uneasy, if not sour. Rwanda feels that Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza is stoking a regional crisis. A majority of the nearly 400,000 people said to have fled Burundi are Tutsis, and many have gone to Rwanda. President Nkurunziza’s practices echo — rather uncomfortably and personally for President Paul Kagame — the Hutu-led anti-Tutsi pogroms in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Rwanda that forced him and his family into exile. The East African

Could Big Data Help End Hunger in Africa?
Computer algorithms power much of modern life from our Facebook feeds to international stock exchanges. Could they help end malnutrition and hunger in Africa? The International Center for Tropical Agriculture thinks so. The International Center for Tropical Agriculture has spent the past four years developing the Nutrition Early Warning System, or NEWS. The goal is to catch the subtle signs of a hunger crisis brewing in Africa as much as a year in advance. CIAT says the system uses machine learning. As more information is fed into the system, the algorithms will get better at identifying patterns and trends. The system will get smarter. Information Technology expert Andy Jarvis leads the project. VOA

Powerful New Ebola Vaccine Heads To Congo To Help Stop Outbreak
When Ebola erupted in West Africa a few years ago, it was catastrophic. But one good thing emerged from the outbreak: The development of an Ebola vaccine — a powerful vaccine. As we reported back in December, the vaccine provided 100 percent protection against Ebola when given quickly after exposure. “It’s very unusual to have a vaccine that protects people perfectly,” said Ira Longini, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, who helped test the vaccine. Now that vaccine is headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo to help fight a small outbreak there. Since late April, Congo has reported about 19 cases, the World Health Organization said. NPR

Bankrupt, Hungry and Homeless: Life After Madagascar’s Cyclone
Cyclone Enawo was the biggest storm in more than a decade to hit Madagascar. It left scores dead and triggered floods and landslides, destroying tens of thousands of homes. Two months on, the remarkable story of the village of Antanandava is a testament to Madagascan resilience. It was late morning when Cyclone Enawo made landfall on Madagascar’s north-east coast. The most severe tropical storm to hit the Indian Ocean island in more than 10 years brought with it winds of up to 290km/h and 25cm of rainfall. The devastating cyclone ravaged Madagascar for almost two days in March, cascading vast amounts of water on the deforested slopes of the country’s high plateau, triggering floods and landslides. More than 80 people died. A further 247,000 lost their homes. Some have been able to rebuild their lives but others are still struggling in the ruins. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones