Africa Media Review for November 13, 2017

U.S. Carries out 3 Drone Strikes Targeting Extremists in Somalia
U.S. forces say they have carried out three drone strikes within 24 hours in Somalia, stepping up their campaign against the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab and the Islamic State group. The strikes by unmanned drones killed several extremist fighters, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military command in Africa told The Associated Press Sunday. With these three attacks, the U.S. has now carried out 26 attacks in Somalia against extremist targets in 2017, she said. The latest U.S. strikes were carried out in coordination with Somalia’s government, she said. The first strike happened Saturday at approximately 4:30 p.m. local Somalia time and it killed one fighter for the extremists group, al-Shabab, said a U.S. Africa command statement. The strike occurred near Gaduud, about 250 miles southwest of the capital, Mogadishu, it said. AP

US Asks Amisom Troops to Stay on in Somalia, Pledges Support
The UN directive for a phased withdrawal of African peacekeepers from Somalia next month has been opposed by the US, which believes the timing is not right given the terrorist threat in the Horn of Africa. The US State Department has warned that extremism could escalate in the region if the withdrawal goes through, especially now that Al Shabaab has increased the number of suicide bombings such as the October 14 attack in Mogadishu that killed over 300. The UN Security Council has endorsed the withdrawal of another 1,000 troops from Somalia by May next year largely with finance, rather than security, as a key consideration after the EU cut its funding to Amisom. The East African

High Spirits as Somaliland Prepares to Vote
High spirits and a celebratory atmosphere have characterised the political campaign rallies in the run-up to a long-awaited presidential election in the self-declared state of Somaliland, which is due to take place on November 13. This is Somaliland’s first presidential election since 2010, and the stakes are high. Three candidates – Faysal Ali Warabe of UCID party, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi of Waddani party and Muse Bihi Abdi, of the ruling Kulmiye party – are vying to replace Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud “Silanyo”, the current head of state. The contest was delayed for more than two years due to voter registration issues, lack of funding and a devastating drought. Al Jazeera

ICC War Crimes Judges Approve Burundi Investigation
Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague approved on Thursday the chief prosecutor’s request for a full war crimes investigation in Burundi.  The judges found there was “a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation in relation to crimes against humanity” in their decision made on October 25 but not announced publicly until Thursday. United Nations investigators reported in September there was strong evidence of killings, torture and rape by mainly government forces but also by opposition groups in the land-locked, central African state. The Burundi government had a “duty to cooperate with the court for the purpose of this investigation,” the court found, since the probe was approved before Burundi’s “withdrawal became effective” from the ICC, the judges said. They added that if “sufficient evidence” was found, the prosecutor could “issue either summonses to appear or warrants of arrest.” Deutsche Welle

Tanzania, Uganda Leaders Criticize ICC Probe of Burundi
The leaders of Tanzania and Uganda criticized on Saturday a plan by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Burundi. A statement from the office of Tanzanian President John Magufuli said the court’s decision “compromised efforts” of an East African Community (EAC) committee “charged with seeking a resolution to the Burundi conflict.” The committee is led by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa. Museveni on Saturday accused the ICC of “interfering in the efforts of the EAC.” He currenty heads the EAC, a regional bloc made up of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. VOA

Equatorial Guinea: Ruling Party Expected to Win as Polls Close
Polling stations in Equatorial Guinea closed Sunday in an election that is expected to keep the party of longtime President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in power. Most stations closed by 5 p.m. local time (1600 UTC), an hour before the official end of polling. Around 300,000 people were eligible to vote for 100 members of parliament and 75 senators and mayorships in the cities of Malabo and Bata. Opposition figures said the vote in the oil-rich country in West Africa had been marred by fraud and irregularities, but state media refuted those claims. Deutsche Welle

Nearly 30 Bodies Found after Clashes near Libyan Capital: Activists
Twenty eight bodies with bullet wounds and torture marks were discovered on Saturday in an area west of Libya’s capital that has recently seen clashes between rival armed factions, a local human rights group said. Ahmad Hamza, of Libya’s National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), said that the victims were fighters opposed to government-aligned coalition forces, who had been arrested before they were killed. Locals found the bodies near a road in the town of Alhira, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southwest of the capital Tripoli, Hamza said on Sunday. Reuters

Libyan Army Storms Headquarters of Deputy Interior Minister in Benghazi
Libya’s eastern-based army on Saturday stormed the headquarters of the Deputy Interior Minister of the UN-backed government, Faraj Eg’em, in the eastern city of Benghazi, confiscating all the military vehicles, according to a military source. “Army units stormed the headquarters of Faraj Eg’em in Budzira district, and took control of the entire headquarters, confiscating all the vehicles inside with no human or material loss,” a source of the army told Xinhua. A car bomb attack hit the convoy of Eg’em in Benghazi last week, killing a security man and wounding four others. Xinhua

Why Niger and Mali’s Cattle Herders Turned to Jihad
When Doundou Chefou first took up arms as a youth a decade ago, it was for the same reason as many other ethnic Fulani herders along the Niger-Mali border: to protect his livestock. He had nothing against the Republic of Niger, let alone the United States of America. His quarrel was with rival Tuareg cattle raiders. Yet on Oct. 4 this year, he led dozens of militants allied to Islamic State in a deadly assault against allied U.S.-Niger forces, killing four soldiers from each nation and demonstrating how dangerous the West’s mission in the Sahel has become. The incident sparked calls in Washington for public hearings into the presence of U.S. troops. A Pentagon probe is due to be completed in January. Reuters


UN Begins Evacuating Refugees from Libya to Niger

A group of vulnerable refugees from several African countries, who had been stuck in war-ravaged Libya, have been evacuated to Niger, the UN said Sunday. The UN refugee agency said the evacuation of 25 “extremely vulnerable refugees” from Libya Saturday marked the first of its kind. The chaos-ridden country has long been a major transit hub for migrants trying to reach Europe, and many refugees and migrants have fallen prey to serious abuse there at the hands of human traffickers and others. “We are taking people out of a very dangerous situation,” the UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told AFP. The group evacuated Saturday was made up of 15 women, six men and four children of Eritrean, Ethiopian and Sudanese nationalities, the UNHCR said. AFP

Embattled Former South Sudan Commander Seeks Asylum
The under siege former South Sudan Chief of Staff, Gen Paul Malong, is seeking political asylum. In a letter to various international agencies dated November 8, 2017, Gen Malong pleaded that the Juba administration be prevailed upon to allow him safe exit to Uganda. He said he should be allowed to leave South Sudan with his bodyguards, to seek shelter in any UN camp in Uganda. “I should be allowed together with my guards to seek shelter and asylum at any UN camp in order to preserve my life and those around me,” the letter reads. Gen Malong also urged the South Sudan government to unconditionally release all his loyalists who escorted him to Yirol and were currently being detained by the National Security Service (NSS) in Juba. Africa Review

Little Hope of Peace Talks as Renewed Fighting Looms in South Sudan
As fresh fighting looms in South Sudan with the onset of the dry season, there is little chance of peace talks to end a war that has already killed tens of thousands of people and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis, diplomats and analysts said. South Sudan’s December-to-May dry season usually intensifies clashes because travel is easier on the impoverished country’s unpaved roads, which turn to mud in the rains. “It would be a miracle if they get anything done,” said Peter Biar Ajak, a civil society leader who consults with African and western diplomats on the country’s stop-start peace process. South Sudan’s war began in late 2013 between soldiers of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer, devastating the country’s swampy northeast. Reuters

S. Sudan Government Using Food as Weapon of War: UN Report
South Sudan government uses food as a weapon of war to target civilians by blocking life-saving aid in some areas, a United Nations report to the Security Council has revealed. According to the confidential report seen by Reuters, between 2016 and 2017, a campaign allegedly carried by government troops in South Sudan’s Wau state and areas in Western Bahr el-Ghazal targeted civilians on ethnic grounds, displacing more than 100,000. “The government has during much of 2017 deliberately prevented life-saving food assistance from reaching some citizens,” the confidential report from UN monitors partly reads. “These actions amount to using food as a weapon of war with the intent to inflict suffering on civilians the government views as opponents to its agenda,” it added. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan’s Civil War Rages, Bringing Complaints of Abuses
South Sudan’s army is steadily capturing more rebel-held territory, even as peace talks try to find a resolution to the country’s nearly four-year-old civil war. As the army gains ground, complaints are growing that both sides are committing atrocities against civilians. The Associated Press recently spoke with eight rebel soldiers who had been on the front lines in a rebel-held area and all recounted similar events: government forces gang-raping women, burning houses with people inside and killing children. Inconclusive peace talks were held in the capital, Juba in October. The negotiations are scheduled to resume in December and by that time opposition forces probably will have lost more territory, experts say. Los Angeles Times

UN Food Chief Says to End Hunger, End Conflict
The head of the U.N. food agency is telling world leaders that the only way to end global hunger is to end conflicts, which would also free up billions of dollars to build roads and infrastructure and promote economic growth in all developing countries. David Beasley said in an interview with The Associated Press this week that 19 countries are now in “protracted conflict” — which is “more conflict than we’ve ever had” — and 80 percent of the World Food Program’s funds are now going into conflict regions. For many years, he said, the number of people facing extreme hunger fell despite the increase in global population, but in the last few years the number of people facing extreme hunger has increased from 777 million to 815 million in 2016 — “all because of man-made conflict.” AP

Nigeria, DR Congo, Kenya and Uganda Have the World’s Worst Police Forces
The already-sullied reputation of some of Africa’s largest police forces is in for more beating. Of 127 countries measured in the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index, Nigeria’s police force ranks as the worst, just below DR Congo, Kenya and Uganda to make up the bottom four. The index, a collaboration between the International Police Science Association and the Institute for Economics and Peace, focuses on how much resources each nation devotes to internal security, whether the resources are used in an effective manner and whether the public view the police favorably. The index also assesses the current threats to internal security in each country. Quartz

Zuma to Challenge South Africa Graft Ombudsman’s Report in Court
South African President Jacob Zuma will probably mount a legal challenge to a report by the graft ombudsman that calls for the establishment of a judicial inquiry into allegations that the Gupta family influenced cabinet appointments and state contracts, the ruling party’s secretary-general said. Bloomberg

American Woman Faces Charges in Zimbabwe over Tweets about Mugabe
Martha O’Donovan, a 25-year-old American, is facing charges in Zimbabwe over allegations that she tweeted that the country’s longtime, nonagenarian president is “selfish and sick.” O’Donovan, a New Jersey native who works for a satirical news organization, was released on $1,000 bail Friday after a judge found that there was a “patent absence of facts” in the government’s case against her, Reuters reports. She was arrested last Friday and had been held in a maximum-security prison until her release. NPR

Nigeria Population at 182 Million, with Widening Youth Bulge
Nigeria’s population reached 182 million this year with more than half its people under 30 years of age, putting a severe strain on a nation suffering from a slowing economy and declining revenue to provide enough schools and health facilities.  Bloomberg

Revealed: How Vodafone Allowed Elites to Reap Profits of Africa’s Mobile Boom
The spread of mobile phones across Africa has been one of the continent’s success stories over the past two decades, transforming lives through better communication and simpler banking. It has also resulted in huge profits for powerful international companies – and for some of Africa’s wealthiest and best-connected individuals. But an investigation for the Observer into the African interests of UK mobile phone giant Vodafone, by the Finance Uncovered network, has raised serious questions about transparency and the processes by which western firms entered Africa’s telecoms markets. Often western operators that wanted market access in a particular country would have to choose between accepting a government stake in the venture, or giving significant shareholdings to “local investors”. But how those governments selected their partners appears contentious, and questions have been raised over how some deals were structured. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones