Africa Media Review for November 18, 2016

About 100 Migrants Feared Dead in Mediterranean: Aid Group
Six migrants died and up to 100 more were missing and feared dead after their rubber boat sank in the Mediterranean on Thursday, the president of the Italian unit of aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said. A British navy ship rescued 27 people and recovered six bodies about 20 miles from the coast of Libya early on Thursday morning, MSF Italy president Loris De Filippi said. The new disaster adds to a death toll which aid groups had put at 240 for the three days ending on Wednesday, as migrants continue to leave Libya despite rough seas. Reuters

Mozambique Fuel Tanker Blast Kills Dozens
At least 73 people have been killed and 110 injured in a fuel tanker explosion in western Mozambique, officials say. The circumstances of the blast on Thursday afternoon in the village of Caphirizanje in Tete province, near the border with Malawi, remain unclear. Some reports say the driver of the tanker was trying to sell fuel to villagers, others that he was ambushed. The blast itself may have been caused by a lightning strike or a fire nearby, reports say. Dozens of charred bodies lay around the blast site. Some of the badly burned victims had tried to run into the local river, Radio Mozambique said. Another report said the vehicle had crashed on Wednesday afternoon and that villagers were siphoning off fuel when it exploded on Thursday. BBC

Two Suicide Bombers Die at Maiduguri Checkpoint as Fight Against Boko Haram Continues
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a military checkpoint in Maiduguri, capital of Nigeria’s restive Borno state on Friday (18 November) morning. Two other explosions occurred hours later. Police confronted two women and a man running towards the checkpoint opposite the Federal High Court, deputy police superintendent Victor Isuku was quoted by AP as saying. One woman detonated the explosive she was carrying, killing herself and the male accomplice. The other woman was arrested and underwent interrogated. Boko Haram terrorists are believed to be behind the twin suicide bombings, the fifth attack to occur in Maiduguri in the past three weeks. IBTimes

U.S. to Propose UN Arms Embargo on South Sudan
The United States (U.S.) Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power Thursday announced that a proposal for arms embargo on South Sudan and additional targeted sanctions will be submitted to the Security Council very soon. In a very strongly worded speech before the Security Council, power pointed that all the ingredients for a genocide exist in South Sudan. She added that the international community should shoulder its responsibility to protection civilians and prevent an “imminent genocide” as in was said by the UN Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng last week. … Speaking about the ingredients of genocide, Power stressed that violence in South Sudan is now dramatically escalating on ethnic lines, there are no adequate forces to stop mass atrocities, and a growing climate of incitement, fear, and intimidation has been observed there. She pointed that the perpetrators of this ethnic violence “enjoy near total impunity”. Sudan Tribune

FIDH and Ligue Iteka Report on Crimes Committed in Burundi
The International Federation for Human Rights-FIDH and “Ligue ITEKA” association have published a report on 15 November about “Repression and genocidal dynamics in Burundi”. Burundi government refutes the allegations it contains. The 200–page report summarizes and identifies crimes committed in Burundi since April 2015. FIDH and Ligue Iteka report a death toll reaching 1,000 people, the detention of 8,000 people for political motives, the disappearance of between 300 and 800 people, the ill-treatment of hundreds of people, sexual abuse of several women and girls, thousands of cases of arbitrary arrests and the flight of about 300,000 refugees. According to the report, the executions are perpetrated by the regime’s security forces and the youth militia affiliated to the ruling party, the Imbonerakure.The report mentions the sluggish intervention of the international community to protect Burundians after the failure to deploy 5000 AU troops and 228 UN police observers in July 2016. Iwacu

“Low Intensity Warfare”: Burundi’s Embattled Government Tightens its Grip
Agathon Rwasa, the first deputy of Burundi’s national assembly, says the ruling party’s narrative of a stabilized, peaceful country is laughable. “If the situation is normal, [why] do we have to drag all these weapons to feel that we are safe? The high-ranking officials of this country cannot even move to attend international meetings.” Rwasa, a former opposition candidate for president, said. The country descended into crisis in the spring of 2015 as the regime responded to an attempted coup and protests against the president’s bid for a third term with a brutal crackdown on demonstrators, journalists, and civil society. The violence has since simmered into what International Crisis Group calls “low intensity warfare.” But as the attention of the international community shifts away from Burundi, the government continues to tighten its grip on power by systematically denying the basic human rights of Burundians and cultivating an atmosphere of impunity and intense fear. VICE

Egypt Pardons 82 Young Detainees
Egypt has pardoned 82 young detainees, including a former TV host convicted of “defaming religious symbols”. The names of those pardoned on Thursday by President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi were compiled by a committee he set up to examine the cases of young detainees who had not been involved in violence. Members of the committee have said supporters of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood will not be pardoned. … Authorities have detained thousands of people in the last three years, mostly Islamists but also prominent secular activists. The government has not said how many detainees are being held, but rights groups place the number at between 20 000 and 40 000. News24<

Abuse Victims to Confront Tunisia’s Demons
Victims of murder, rape and torture under successive dictatorships will testify on live television on Thursday as Tunisia –  in a rare move for the Arab world – tries to deal with decades of abuse. The Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD) has tracked human rights violations committed between July 1955, a year before Tunisia gained its independence from France, and December 2013 when the fact-finding body was established. Several men and women who survived abuses under successive authoritarian regimes will appear on national television on Thursday and on Friday evening to tell their stories. “We will participate in unveiling the truth about these violations… in order to turn a page and move directly on to national reconciliation,” IVD member Khaled Krichi told reporters ahead of the broadcasts. News24

Tanzania Police Arrest Women, Children at ‘Terrorist Training Camp’
Terrorism in Tanzania is taking a new turn with children becoming a key target for recruitment and indoctrination. On Thursday, the Dar es Salaam Special Zone police arrested four women and four children after they were discovered hiding in a house alleged to be a training ground for acts of terror. According to the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Simon Sirro, the eight were found at a house belonging to a man known as Suleiman at Kilongoni-Vikindu area about 30km from the capital. The East African

Zimbabwean Pro-democracy Activists Abducted and Beaten Ahead of Demonstration
Zimbabwean pro-democracy activists were assaulted and abducted this morning ahead of a planned demonstration dubbed #MunhuWeseMuRoad. Sources on the ground, who could not be identified for fear for their safety, told IBTimes UK that men abducted and beat half a dozen activists who had been calling for Zimbabweans to gather and protest in the capital Harare on Friday (18 November). Prominent political activists Patson Dzamara, Ishmael Kauzani and Sten Zvorwadza, who were shuttling from one safe house to another, were reportedly ambushed by between 12 and 14 men in three twin-cab vehicles. According to the sources, several of these men were wearing police clothes, while others were plain clothed. Dzamara and Kauzani’s vehicles were blocked and one was rammed into a ditch. IBTimes

Opposition ‘Worried’ as Zimbabwe Army ‘Recruits 1 000s’ Ahead of 2018 Polls
Zimbabwe’s main opposition the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has expressed concerns over the Zimbabwe National Army’s (ZNA) recruitment drive at a time when the government is struggling to pay its workers. According to New Zimbabwe, the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai has since called on the regional body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union and the United Nations to “keep a close eye on the country’s worsening political situation”. Reports indicated that the ZNA was currently recruiting “thousands” to join the national army. News24

Mali Under Threat as Peace Deal Founders, Fighting Flares
With Mali’s hard-fought peace deal foundering and jihadist groups back on the offensive, the west African country could be headed for fresh chaos, experts say. Malian, French and the United Nations forces deployed to safeguard the country after a 2013 jihadist offensive in its vast arid north have increasingly come under attack this year. Only last week, militants with the al-Qaeda-linked group Ansar Dine briefly seized a town alarmingly close to the capital, Bamako, raiding a police station, bank and a prison. Meanwhile, pro-government militia groups and former rebels who signed a 2015 peace deal are intermittently fighting each other in northern areas where the state remains absent. News24

Ethiopian Newspaper Editor, Bloggers Caught in Worsening Crackdown
In recent weeks, Ethiopian authorities have jailed a newspaper editor and detained two members of the award-winning Zone 9 bloggers’ collective, which has faced continuous legal harassment on terrorism and incitement charges. A fourth journalist has been missing for a week; his family fears he is in state custody. The crackdown on the media comes amid mass arrests following large protests that led the government to declare a state of emergency on October 9. Security forces have detained more than 11,000 people since the state of emergency was declared, Taddesse Hordofa, of the Ethiopian government’s State of Emergency Inquiry Board, said in a televised statement on November 12. CPJ

Cameroon Cracking Down on Social Media
Social media use has exploded in Cameroon, as have the government’s efforts to police it. These members of the Presbyterian church Bota in Limbe, southwestern Cameroon are praying for three local men: Fomusoh Ivo Feh, Afuh Nivelle Nfor and Azah Levis Gob. They were convicted by a military court this month after allegedly sharing an SMS joke about recruitment for the Boko Haram terrorist group. The proceedings were closed to the public and Amnesty International and local rights groups condemned the conviction. … Cameroon’s government has used several laws to crack down on mobile and online communications, including a 2014 anti-terrorism law and the newly revised penal code. VOA

Uganda: Police Prevent Opposition Leader From Meeting Lawyers
An attorney for Uganda’s main opposition leader Kizza Besigye, from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), says he plans to file a suit against the government in Kampala after accusing the police and other security agencies of violating the rights of his client. Police prevented Dr. Besigye from attending a pre-arranged meeting with attorney Ladislaus Rwakafuzi Wednesday morning in the capital, Kampala. He was subsequently taken to the police station after a crowd gathered at the offices of his attorney. In an interview with VOA, Rwakafuzi said the country’s police have been unfair and mistreated Besigye ever since he made a decision to challenge President Yoweri Museveni during elections. The police have restricted Besigye’s movement following the recent disputed general election. The electoral commission declared incumbent Museveni the winner of the presidential vote. VOA on AllAfrica

Opposition Figure Badibanga Named New DR Congo PM
Democratic Republic of Congo opposition figure Samy Badibanga was named prime minister on Thursday under a power-sharing deal that allows President Joseph Kabila to stay in office after his term ends next month, the presidency said in a statement. Congo’s main opposition bloc denounced the choice as a “provocation”, dashing hopes the decision might ease the risk of violence over Kabila’s plan to stay on until at least April 2018. International powers fear the political impasse could lead to widespread violence in the giant central African nation, where millions died in regional wars between 1996 and 2003 and which has never experienced a peaceful transition of power. The nomination of Badibanga, who is a member of parliament, to head the new government of national unity came as a surprise as another opposition leader – former Kabila ally Vital Kamerhe – had been widely tipped for the post. France24

‘Build Bridges not Walls’ – Pope Urges DRC’s Political Players
Pope Francis II has urged people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to maintain peace despite deep seated division on the issue of elections that should have been held later this month. The Pope’s admonition was contained in a message to the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO). CENCO has convened a day of prayer for peace in the DRC, slated for this Sunday, November 20, 2016, a day coinciding with the closing of the jubilee year of mercy. ‘‘I encourage everyone, especially the political and religious leaders, to initiate or pursue any action aimed at building bridges between you and not walls, to establish in Congolese society a culture of dialogue that will make you better and to love each other. Africa News

Without Proper Support Repatriation Effort of Somali Refugees from Dadaab ‘is Likely to Fail’
Humanitarian organisation the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has urged for large-scale, long-term investment in Somalia to ensure that the repatriation of Somali refugees living in Kenya’s Dadaab camp is successful. For more than 20 years, Kenya has been home to generations of Somalis who have fled their war-torn country. Kenya’s government announced on 6 May its plans to speed up the repatriation of Somali refugees and close the sprawling Dadaab refugee camp in north-east Kenya by 30 November. The government of Kenya this week revealed that it has accepted the request of the office of the UNHCR Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, to extend the deadline for the completion of repatriation of Somali refugees and eventual closure of the world’s largest refugee complex, by six months. IBTimes

Sudan Welcomes Russia’s Withdrawal from ICC
Sudanese government has welcomed Russia’s withdrawal from the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC), which seeks the arrest of President Omar al-Bashir on war crime charges committed in the Darfur region. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Wednesday to withdraw Russia from the International Criminal Court, a day after the court published a report classifying the Russian annexation of Crimea as an occupation. In a press statement in Khartoum on Thursday, Ghareb Khidir, spokesman for Sudan’s foreign ministry, said that the Russian decision gives strong support to the African position against the ICC. The official pointed out that the withdrawal of South Africa, Gambia and Burundi and from the international tribunal would encourage other countries to withdraw. Radio Tamazuj

We Have Been Almost Buried’: The Sudanese Villages Being Swallowed by Sand
Standing next to a thin belt of rattling trees that represents the only line of green in vast stretches of orange desert, 70-year-old Hamud El-Nour Hamdallah recalls a time when this area in Sudan’s River Nile state was dense forest. If you had not found Goz El Halg village by nightfall, you would have to wait until morning to find your way out. But decades of drought and deforestation have allowed sand to roll through the desert and swallow homes and farmland. Hamdallah and his community now go to bed not knowing if they will make it out of their homes the next day. “It’s especially scary when the house is covered [in sand] at night and you can only wait in the dark until morning to dig your way out,” by shovelling through sand or using a tractor to wade through it, he said. … Research from a Sudanese government climate programme launched a decade ago shows that the boundary between desert and semi-desert has shifted 50-200km southward since the 1930s. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones