Africa Media Review for May 7, 2018

When Peace Agreements Fail: Lessons from Lesotho, Burundi, and DRC
Conflicts in Africa often reflect a breakdown of peace agreements that have been methodically dismantled by politicians intent on evading checks on power while oversight is weak. Vigilance is vital as early progress is not a guarantee of long-term success. Many of the conflicts in Africa today are resumptions of earlier conflicts. These conflicts, therefore, reflect a breakdown, to some degree, of previously negotiated peace agreements. A review of the experiences from three of these cases—Lesotho, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—offers lessons that can help inform future such accords. Africa  Center for Strategic Studies

Nigeria Kaduna: Bandits Slaughter 51 Villagers
A gang of what are said to be former cattle rustlers has killed at least 51 adults and children in a village in northern Nigeria, burning down homes. Amongst the rows of dead bodies in Gwaska, in the Birnin Gwari area of Kaduna state, were children under the age of 10. Some bodies were mutilated. Survivors say the attackers surrounded Gwaska on Saturday afternoon. They set homes alight and fired shots, causing people to flee in panic – many straight towards the gunmen. Residents have demanded that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government urgently deploy more police and military to protect vulnerable villages on the state border with Zamfara. BBC

Boko Haram Attack Leaves at Least a Dozen Cameroonians Dead
Boko Haram fighters have attacked villages in the Far North region of Cameroon leaving at least a dozen dead, several soldiers wounded and the villages torched in a large operation involving hundreds of attackers, some of whom used villagers as human shields. Children gathered in little groups along the road shout to welcome the Cameroon military in Mabanda, a northern village on the border with Nigeria. It is one of the villages that suffered the latest Boko Haram assaults this week. 43-year old village elder Alihou Idrissu says groups of fighters infiltrated the faithful praying in Mosques and sellers and buyers on their market day Wednesday. VOA

7 Killed in Northeastern Nigerian City Suicide Blasts
Three suspected female suicide bombers and four civilians were killed in northeastern Maiduguri city late Thursday night, according to the country’s relief agency Friday. “Last night at around 11 p.m. local time, three teenage female suicide bombers tried to infiltrate Mainari Shuwa [suburb in Molai] and were instantly spotted. “But they detonated their explosive vests to avoid arrest. Seven people died, including four civilians,” Bashir Garga, regional coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), told Anadolu Agency Friday afternoon. Seven others were also injured in the blasts in an area that is at a short distance from Maiduguri, the heartbeat of the nine-year insurgency. Anadolu Agency

Europe and USA Take the Fight against Jihadism to Niger
Niger has been increasingly playing a pivotal role in the global struggle against jihadism since the terrorist threat has been quickly shifting from the middle-east to Africa. The special forces of the Sahel country are being trained and supported by Western military personnel. The doctrine consists of rolling back and eventually destroying the jihadists in their own desert sanctuaries, even beyond Niger’s borders. Last October four members of the 3rd Special Forces group of the US army lost their lives in an ambush carried out near the border with Mali, the country that, so far, has been suffering most of the consequences of the Libyan civil war. EuroNews

7 Kenyan Soldiers Killed in Somalia IED Blast
At least seven Kenyan soldiers were killed and two others seriously injured after a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) targeted a military vehicle near the Somali town of Dhobley near the border with Kenya, witnesses and officials say. The vehicle was in a convoy on patrol when it was hit by the IED, causing a massive explosion, witnesses said. A Somali military official who did not want to be named said he saw the bodies of seven Kenyan soldiers and two others badly injured in the explosion. The officer said the IED tore apart the vehicle, killing the soldiers instantly. VOA

Kenya’s Military Bill Rises as Uganda’s, South Sudan’s Fall
Military expenditure in the region continued to drop last year, with South Sudan cutting back its spending by more than 50 per cent, as its economy struggled from the effects of the prolonged political crisis. The region used $2.73 billion on military-related expenses, down from $2.78 billion in 2016, and a high of $3.6 billion in 2015, according to data released on Tuesday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). South Sudan spent just $72 million on its military, down from its all-time high of $1.1 billion in 2014 at the height of hostilities between the government and rebels led by former vice-president Riek Machar. Kenya remained the region’s top military spender, at $963.5 million last year, up from $933.1 million the previous year. Daily Monitor

Burundi Bans BBC and Voice of America before Referendum
Authorities in Burundi have banned the BBC and Voice of America (VOA), as well as two local broadcasters, just weeks before a crucial constitutional referendum on presidential term limits. The National Communications Council (NCC) said on Friday that the news organisations’ operations would be suspended for at least six months for breaching the “laws governing the press and ethics.” The ban will come into effect on Monday, Karenga Ramadhani, the head of the regulator, told journalists in the capital, Bujumbura. The NCC said the BBC invited a Burundian who made “inappropriate, exaggerated, non-verified [remarks], damaging the reputation of the head of state, to ethnic hatred, to political conflict and civil disobedience”. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia’s Moyale Hit by Heavy Inter-Ethnic Fighting, Casualties Reported
Reports from the Ethiopian town of Moyale indicates that intense ethnic-based clashes have claimed lives and forced residents to flee into Kenya. According to the BBC’s correspondent in the country, residents on the Kenyan side of Moyale reported hearing gunshots since early Sunday morning. Emmanuel Igunza said all his sources in the area said the face off was between the Oromo and Garre ethnic groups. It is not known as yet what may have led to the incident. Moyale, a border town with Kenya made news headlines in March 2018 after a botched military operation meant to intercept anti-government elements led to the death of nine people. Africa News

After Years of Unrest, Ethiopians Are Riding an Unlikely Wave of Hope. Will It Last?
When Ethi­o­pia’s prime minister resigned in February after more than five years in office, there was little reason to think his successor would be an improvement. The East African country was under a state of emergency that followed a years-long crackdown on opposition political activity. Thousands of activists and dissident journalists had been detained, and hundreds had died in demonstrations crushed by government forces. Then came Abiy Ahmed, who at 42 is one of the youngest leaders on the continent. In his first month as Ethi­o­pia’s premier, he has ushered in an unlikely wave of hope and even optimism in this close U.S. ally that serves as something of a linchpin to the stability of East Africa. The Washington Post

Mozambique: Instability Feared in the Wake of Veteran Renamo Leader’s Demise
Afonso Dhlakama’s death on Thursday has been confirmed by close associates, sources in Mozambique’s two main parties and the Pretoria government, though no official confirmation had been issued by late Thursday evening. 4 Dhlakama died at about 06:00 on Thursday, three hours before an evacuation helicopter arrived to rush him to hospital in Beira, according to South African constitutional law professor Andre Thomashausen, a close associate and former adviser to Dhlakama. However, veteran Mozambican political journalist Paul Fauvet said Dhlakama had died in the helicopter on route to hospital. His sudden departure from Mozambique’s political stage, on which he played such a prominent role for so long, has created uncertainty about the future of his Renamo party and that of the country. Daily Maverick

War Drums Beat East of Libya amid Plans to Liberate Derna
Army forces are gathering in and around Libya’s Derna as military strongman Khalifa Haftar announced plans to liberate the city. This escalation coincided with threats from a Salafist leader, an ally of Haftar to eliminate militants belonging to the Shura Council of Mujahideen who have controled Derna since they forced out ISIS in 2015. It is the last eastern town out of the Libyan National Army’s control. Meanwhile, the leader of the special forces in Benghazi, Wanis bou Khamadda, announced that additional troops have been sent to the Omar al-Moukhtar operation room controlled by the Libyan National Army, at the entrance of Derna city, east of Benghazi. Al Arabiya

Gabon Announces 40-Member ‘Interim’ Cabinet
Gabon’s Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet has announced an interim government, only days after the country’s top court ordered him to resign. The legal decision came after he failed to organize elections. State television on Friday carried news of Issoze-Ngondet’s new cabinet, comprising a full 40 members — including some political rivals. Although Gabon’s Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that Issoze-Ngondet was no longer the legitimate prime minister, he was sworn back in on Thursday by President Ali Bongo. Issoze-Ngondet’s populous new cabinet is composed of 11 ministers of state, 17 ministers and 12 deputy ministers. It includes seven opposition figures — three of whom are allies of Bongo’s political rival Jean Ping. Deutsche Welle

Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Claims Victory in Historic Local Elections
Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party has claimed a win over its secularist rival, Nidaa Tounes, in local elections. But voter turnout was just 33.7 percent in the first municipal poll since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party claimed victory late on Sunday in the country’s first free municipal elections. Top Ennahda official Lotfi Zitoun told the Reuters news agency that his party was more than 5 percent ahead of secularist rivals Nidaa Tounes, according to unofficial results. The North African country has held parliamentary and presidential polls since the fall of long-time autocratic president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, but local elections have faced repeated delays. Deutsche Welle

A Zimbabwe Spring? New Leader Embraces Surprising Freedoms
Zimbabwe’s new president is rolling out freedoms as never seen before in the country recovering from the 37-year grip of former leader Robert Mugabe. For some, however, President Emmerson Mnangagwa is going too far. Others accuse him of mere window-dressing ahead of July’s historic election. Signs of change are clear. Late last month, a popular musician returned from exile in the United States to perform protest songs in front of tens of thousands of people on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. Days later, an annual arts festival in Harare was allowed to invite as its headline act a South African band once banned for a video seen as mocking Mugabe. Mnangagwa promised democratic reforms when he took over in November after Mugabe resigned under pressure from the military, ruling party and the public. VOA

Kagame Distances Self from Succession Plan, Says It’s up to Rwandans
Who will succeed President Paul Kagame? Ask the ruling party – Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) – and Rwandan citizens, says the president. “The succession plan is not mine. If it had been, I would not be here now; I would have left because that is what I intended to do,” President Kagame said last week during a panel discussion at the Mo Ibrahim Governance summit in Kigali. President Kagame was elected to a third seven-year term in 2017, after a constitutional referendum led to the suspension of term limits. Under the amended constitution, a presidential term was slashed from seven to five years, and set to be renewed only once. This allows President Kagame to run for two further five-year terms when his current term ends– potentially making him rule for 34 years until 2034. The East African

This Land Is Our Land
For almost 24 years after the end of apartheid, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) supported a land reform program that was based on a willing-seller, willing-buyer policy. The policy required the consent of both the seller and buyer for the purchase of the land, with the consequence that sellers, almost exclusively white, would determine which land they wanted to sell. After decades of ignoring criticism of that policy, the ANC’s leadership has changed tack, at least rhetorically. It is now advocating a radical policy of land expropriation without compensation. The unresolved land question in South Africa is a time bomb. One out of every two South Africans was classified as “poor” in 2015, with the poverty rate increasing to 55.5 percent from a low of 53.2 percent in 2011. This translated into more than 30 million out of 55 million South Africans living in poverty in 2015. Ongoing struggles for housing in urban areas and grazing in rural areas reveal the full extent of the country’s poverty crisis. Foreign Policy

The ‘Professional Apartheid’ Sidelining Women at the African Union
When Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma left the African Union Commission, she did so to mixed reviews. But most analysts agreed that she had succeeded, where others had failed, in putting gender equality at the heart of the AU’s agenda — on paper at least. But within the commission itself, discrimination against women employees is routine, according to internal memos obtained by the Mail & Guardian from a diplomatic source. “We, female employees of the AU Commission, are totally appalled by the entrenchment of professional apartheid against female employees in the commission,” according to one memo, dated January 25 and addressed to the new AU chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat. It is signed by 37 women. Mail and Guardian

29 Million Ghanaians Share 55 Ambulances
Ghana is faced with a major health crisis that jeopardizes the lives of millions of its citizens. The country of 29 million people only has 55 functioning ambulances serving all ten regions. While the situation is not new, it has reached a level that requires urgent action, and not just the attention of health authorities. Ghana currently has 155 ambulances, 100 of which have broken down due to various faults, many of them engine-related. The remaining 55, are stationed in various parts of the country to offer emergency health responses and basic life support. There are also 130 ambulance service stations in the country, and each is supposed to have at least one ambulance, but due to the limited number of functioning ambulances in the country, many of the service centres ‘work’ without them. GhanaWeb



Photo: Adam Jones