Africa Media Review for November 1, 2016

Rwanda Names 22 French Army Officers it Accuses of Aiding Genocide
Rwanda has released a list of 22 senior French army officers it says knowingly aided the planning and execution of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis. The list released by the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) is likely to escalate the row between Kigali and Paris, in the wake of the reopening of investigations by France into the shooting down of a plane carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana. The move to revive the probe has angered Rwanda, which has threatened to sever diplomatic ties with Paris. In a detailed report issued Monday, CNLG named 22 senior French officers who were operating in Rwanda at the time of the genocide and reportedly had a direct hand in the massacre. CNLG further says the French military officers must be charged. The East African

HRW: Boko Haram Refugees Raped by Nigerian Troops, Police
Human rights monitors are accusing Nigerian officials, soldiers and police of rape and other acts of sexual exploitation against women and girls who have escaped Boko Haram captivity for what they falsely believed to be the safety of government encampments. Human Rights Watch (HRW) leveled the accusations in a report released Monday under the headline “Nigeria: Officials Abusing Displaced Women, Girls.” The 12-page document cites the cases of 43 females who were housed at seven government camps in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the 2009 birthplace of the Boko Haram extremist movement. The conflict has led to more than 10,000 civilian deaths and the abductions of more than 2,000 people — mostly women and girls in the country’s restive northeast. VOA

Nigerian Militant Group Threatens More Attacks if Army Campaign Continues
A Nigerian militant group threatened on Monday to step up attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta if the president pursues a military campaign, casting a shadow over peace talks between the government and groups due to start on Tuesday. In written responses to Reuters questions, Mudoch Agbinibo, spokesman for the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), said President Muhammadu Buhari must “come down from…his iron-horse of ethnic and religious bigotry”. On Tuesday, Buhari is due to meet Niger Delta leaders and representatives of various militant groups in Abuja, the first time since the government began a dialogue in June to end a wave of attacks on oil facilities that has crippled output. Reuters

South Sudan’s New Rebel Group Vows to Oust President Kiir
A newly emerged rebel faction in South Sudan has called for use of any means to remove President Salva Kiir from power, highlighting the degree of frustration with which victims of war were pushing for radical change. The rebel group, calling itself South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF) called for the removal of what it described as a “failed and illegitimate regime of the SPLM/SPLA Party through peaceful means, armed struggle or both”. Formed by sons and daughters from Equatoria region, vowed to work together with other armed group to fight for removal of the government of president Kiir from power. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Ranks Among Most Deadly for Journalists
The Committee to Project Journalists says 95 percent of the journalists murdered around the world over the last 10 years were local reporters. Yet, in its latest report, it says many of those responsible go unpunished. The CPJ says such impunity is one of the biggest threats to freedom of the press. CPJ consultant Elisabeth Witchel, author of the new Global Impunity Index titled “Getting Away With Murder,” said South Sudan ranks among the top five countries where journalists have been murdered with impunity in 2016. “The situation is very dangerous, more dangerous than ever,” she said. “We’re seeing journalists not just targeted for their work, not just from something they might be reporting on, but simply because they are journalists.” VOA

ICC Gets Support after 3 Withdrawals, But Kenya Is Critical
Many countries are pledging support for the International Criminal Court following the announced withdrawal by three African countries but Kenya, which remains under investigation by the war crimes tribunal, was sharply critical and questioned its long-term survival. In speeches Monday following the presentation of the court’s annual report to the General Assembly, there were also many calls for improved dialogue between the ICC and the African Union in hopes of reversing the decisions to leave by Burundi, South Africa and Gambia. The Washington Post

Belgium, Congo Activists Urge Probe Into Congo Corruption Claims
Belgium’s foreign minister and democracy activists in Democratic Republic of Congo called on Congolese authorities to investigate allegations that high-ranking officials stole millions of dollars in public funds. The accusations surfaced shortly after the postponement of an election for a successor to President Joseph Kabila, originally scheduled for next month, until at least April 2018. The delay triggered violent unrest in the capital Kinshasa last month in which at least 50 people died. In an article last week, the Belgian newspaper Le Soir cited documents provided by Jean-Jacques Lumumba, a former employee at the Congo branch of BGFI Bank, central Africa’s biggest bank, as indicating a series of transactions that resulted in large and unexplained losses of state money. Congo’s government spokesman did not respond to a phone call or text message requesting comment and BGFI did not respond to an email. Lumumba referred questions to Le Soir. Reuters was not able to independently confirm any instances of wrongdoing. Reuters

‘Time to Account for Crippling the State’ – Mandela Foundation Takes a Swipe at Zuma
The Nelson Mandela Foundation on Tuesday took a swipe at President Jacob Zuma‚ saying South Africa is “reaping the results of a political trend of personalising matters of state around a single individual leader”. This came as protesters gathered outside the High Court in Pretoria‚ where Zuma’s lawyers attempted to halt the release of a public protector report into state capture. It also came a day after the National Prosecuting Authority dropped what have been described as politically motivated fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The foundation said that the “ability and commitment of the head of state to be a ‘constitutional being’ is one of the wheels of our state”. Times Live

Valls Promises Not to Abandon CAR as Violence Erupts with Sangaris End
Violence hit the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, Bangui, on Sunday eveing as France’s Sangaris peacekeeping operation wound up. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has told RFI that France will not abandon the CAR. About 10 people were killed in infighting between “self-defence” groups in the Muslim district PK5 on Sunday evening, according to local sources. Earlier reports put the death toll at four. Residents continued to flee the area on Monday morning. France’s Operation Sangaris started three years ago, aiming to end sectarian bloodletting between armed Christian and Muslim gangs following the toppling of president françois Bozizé. RFI

How a Fish Vendor’s Death is Sparking Rare Protests in Morocco
Protests have erupted in several parts of Morocco after a fish vendor was crushed to death Friday in a garbage truck, while trying to retrieve swordfish confiscated by police. The incident, which took place in the northern town of Al-Hoceima, is being compared by some to the spark that ignited the Arab Spring in 2011, when a fruit and vegetable vendor in Tunisia set himself alight in desperation after police confiscated his merchandise. Other analysts say the protesters have no political motivation, but simply seek justice for the victim and a change in the way Moroccans are policed. Morocco’s monarchy survived the Arab Spring by implementing reforms, and authorities’ reaction to the latest protests seem to lean toward appeasement rather than repression. CS Monitor

Mali Insurgent Group Accepts Cease-fire but With Conditions
The head of Mali’s top Islamic body says insurgent group Ansar Dine has accepted a proposed cease-fire. Mahmoud Dicko, president of Mali’s Islamic High Council, told VOA’s French to Africa service on Sunday that he asked Ansar Dine for the truce and received a letter of acceptance from the group’s leader, Iyad Ag Ghali. Dicko, in a phone interview, noted that Ghali’s letter included a line saying Ansar Dine “rejects whoever rejects Sharia.” It was not clear if Ghali was setting a condition for the cease-fire. VOA

Gambia’s Opposition Unites Behind Single Candidate
Seven opposition parties came together late Sunday to form a coalition to challenge President Yahya Jammeh in December’s election. A national convention saw 308 out of 490 delegates give their support to Adama Barrow, leader of the United Democratic Party (UDP), as the main candidate to face Jammeh in a presidential poll on Dec. 1. The 51-year-old businessman became UDP leader in September after his predecessor Ousainou Darboe was jailed for three years following rallies calling for electoral reform. Barrow said he was “overwhelmed” by the support and pledged to work to make Gambia “a better place for all of us”. Anadolu Agency

Ethiopia ‘Releases 2 000’ Arrested Under State of Emergency
State-controlled media in Ethiopia on Monday reported the release of around 2 000 people arrested since the imposition of a state of emergency earlier this month. The Fana Broadcasting Corporate said “about 2 000” prisoners, suspected of involvement in months of sometimes deadly anti-government protests, were released “after receiving education and counseling service”. Fana said defence minister Siraj Fegessa had made the announcement on Sunday but gave no information on the total number of people arrested in a series of security sweeps since a six-month state of emergency was declared on October 9. News 24

Gambian Opposition Fields Single Candidate for Presidential Poll
Seven opposition Gambian parties closed ranks and chose a sole candidate to contest against long-serving incumbent Yahya Jammeh in presidential polls in December. The candidate, Adama Barrow, was elected through primaries in a convention attended by 490 delegates. The 51-year-old from the United Democratic Party, the country’s biggest opposition movement, got 308 of the 487 votes cast. “We have put our differences aside for the interest of this country. Gambians are tired of 22 years of Yahya Jammeh’s misrule and will end it come December 1st when we go to the polls. We all have to put our hands together to save this country from destruction,” he said. News 24

West Urges Key Figures in Libya to Compromise as Economic Chaos Looms
Western leaders meeting in London have urged key political and economic figures in Libya to come together amid signs that infighting over the conduct of the central bank and the control of oil supplies is driving the country to the brink of economic chaos and authoritarian rule. The meeting was called at the insistence of the US and followed a public row between Libya’s UN-backed prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, and its central bank governor, Saddek al-Kabir. Both Sarraj and Kabir were at the meeting, also attended by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. Accused of mismanaging the economy and failing to protect the value of the dinar by Sarraj, Kabir had hit back by saying the government failed to produce any coherent economic plan or make use of resources provided by the central bank. The Guardian

The World Only Helps When Southern Africans Starve
[…] “They usually die right away,” Getwell Mgiwedula, the hospital’s aptly named director, said of children who have been admitted under similar circumstances. Tiny, landlocked Malawi declared a state of emergency in April, when it became clear that lack of rainfall was threatening crops in 40 percent of the country. Since then, the drought has pushed more than half a dozen countries in the region to the brink of famine: Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe all face significant food shortages. Zambia has fared slightly better, but it too was forced to ban exports of maize, a precaution that caused additional hardship in nearby countries its farmers used to feed. Foreign Policy

Africans Approve of China, Says Afrobarometer
“We didn’t really ask that question,” said Anyway Chingwete, co-author of a survey recently published by Afrobarometer. She was referring to the difference between East and West in their approach to trade and development aid relations with Africa. But the senior project leader for the African organization that measures public attitudes on economic, political and social issues in sub-Saharan Africa believes that China’s approach, its policy of not making aid and investments conditional on performance on human rights and good governance, has won China a lot of sympathy across the continent. “It has had a positive impact in terms of the growth of trade relationships between China and African countries.” Chingwete told DW. Deutsche Welle

Russian Firm to Build Nuclear Reactor in Tanzania
Russia’s nuclear energy agency has signed agreements with Tanzania and Uganda, only a few months after inking similar deals with Kenya, Zambia, Ghana and Nigeria, signalling Russia’s intention to become Africa’s key partner in nuclear development. The agency, Rosatom, said it was planning to start developing nuclear energy in Tanzania following discovery of uranium and because of the mining activities in southern Tanzania. In Uganda, the agency seeks to pass on expertise in nuclear technology as the country works towards building its first nuclear power plant by 2034. While meeting Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Viktor Polikarpov, Rosatom’s regional vice-president of sub-Saharan Africa, said the firm would provide professional training in nuclear infrastructure development, staff training, public acceptance, nuclear medicine, agriculture. The East African

Turn On, Tune In, Transcribe: U.N. Develops Radio-Listening Tool
Voice recognition surrounds tech-loving Americans, from Siri to Google Assistant to Amazon Echo. Its omnipresence can make it easy to forget that making this technology has been really, really hard. Understanding human speech is one of the most difficult frontiers in machine learning, and the biggest names in technology have devoted much time and money to conquering it. But their products still work for only a handful of languages. Less prominent languages are still indecipherable to computers — even for text translations, let alone voice recognition. The United Nations is working to change that, with an experiment in Uganda building a tool that can filter through the content of radio broadcasts. The ultimate goal: to involve more voices of rural citizens in decision-making about where to send aid or how to improve services. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones