Africa Media Review for November 21, 2018

US: Airstrikes Kill 37 Al-Shabab Militants in Somalia
The U.S. military says it conducted two airstrikes in central Somalia Monday, killing a total of 37 al-Shabab militants. A statement issued by the U.S. Africa Command Tuesday said the first strike killed 27 militants. Africa Command described the attack as a “planned and deliberate action.” It says a second strike on the same day killed another 10 Shabab militants. The statement said the airstrikes did not kill or injure civilians. Local sources tell VOA’s Somali Service that the attacks took place in the vicinity of Dabad Shil, about 60 kilometers north of Harardhere, a town in the Mudug region. Locals told VOA Somali that the strikes targeted al-Shabab vehicles and militias.  VOA

Madagascar Presidential Hopeful Sues over Poll Conduct
Presidential hopeful Marc Ravalomanana has lodged over 50 complaints at Madagascar’s top court about the conduct of presidential polls to “correct irregularities,” sources close to his campaign said on Tuesday. Neither Ravalomanana nor his arch-rival Andry Rajoelina won the 50% of votes required for a first-round victory following the November 7 election, according to results published on Saturday. The run-off vote is scheduled for December 19. “We’re not seeking a victory in the first round of voting, just to correct irregularities in the results,” said a member of Ravalomanana’s legal team who requested anonymity. More than 50 complaints, concerning voting, counting and tallying, have been submitted to the Indian Ocean Island nation’s High Constitutional Court. AFP

SADC Welcomes Madagascar’s Provisional Poll Results
SADC, which is currently chaired by Namibian President, Hage Geingob, yesterday welcomed the publication of provisional results that were released by Madagascar’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) last week, following the first round of voting in the 2018 presidential election held on 7 November in the island nation. SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, yesterday commended CENI, the Madagascar electoral body, for releasing the provisional results, and for the work the commission has done so far.  She further congratulated the Malagasy people and all political stakeholders for conducting themselves in an orderly and peaceful manner before, during, and after the first round of voting in the Presidential Election.  New Era Namibia

Cameroon Gunmen Seize Students from School
Twenty students have been kidnapped by gunmen from a school in the restive English-speaking part of Cameroon. The abduction in Kumba comes almost a fortnight after nearly 80 students were safely returned after being taken from a school in the neighbouring region. Cameroon’s North-West and South-West provinces have been hit by a separatist rebellion since last year. Armed groups have called on local residents to boycott schools until a referendum on independence is held. Protests against marginalisation by the country’s French-speaking majority have been met with a crackdown.  BBC

Boko Haram Attacks Leave 53 Dead in Pre-Election Show of Force
Boko Haram jihadists have killed 53 soldiers and farmers in three days of attacks in northeastern Nigeria, security sources said on Tuesday, in a new show of force ahead of February elections in the West African country. Despite the government’s insistence that Boko Haram is near defeat, the group has recently carried out a string of major attacks on military and civilian targets. President Muhammadu Buhari, seeking re-election in February, faces widespread criticism over his security record as soldiers based in the northeast regularly complain of fatigue and insufficient supplies of food and arms. The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram splinter group, killed at least 44 soldiers in attacks on three military bases at the weekend, according to security sources.  AFP

Boko Haram Brought Terror to Niger. Can a Defectors Program Bring Peace?
Atop a remote desert dune in the poorest corner of the least-developed country in the world is an internment camp, the site of a high-stakes program that U.S. officials hope will be a model for winning the war on terrorism. The camp is in Niger, where the U.S. government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a military strategy to counter groups aligned with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. It now houses 132 former Boko Haram fighters who are referred to as “the repentant ones.” With Boko Haram still thousands of fighters strong and able to control entire swaths of West Africa, the U.S. State Department is about to invest millions of dollars into an alternative strategy that is locally born: a deradicalization program started by a Nigerien governor that promotes defections and prepares ex-combatants for reintegration into society.  The Washington Post

Central Mali Is Now the Nation’s Deadliest Region, Group Says
A mix of rising jihadist violence, communal conflict and suspected army abuse have rendered central Mali the country’s deadliest region as the influence of Islamist insurgents and separatist rebels in the north are spreading, according to a human-rights group.More than 500 people have been killed in attacks or mass executions in the West African nations central parts during the first six months of the year, according to testimonies by civilians and local leaders, the International Federation for Human Rights said in a report published Tuesday. Soldiers were involved in at least six of the attacks, the Paris-based group said in the report. In one attack, some of 67 people escorted by soldiers were later found in a mass grave, the report said. Bloomberg

Completion of US Drone Base in Niger to Be Delayed
Niger Air Base 201, a future hub for armed drones and other aircraft, won’t be completed until the middle of 2019. The base was originally intended to be operational by the end of this year, but the region’s difficult weather and harsh environment is pushing completion back, an official with U.S. Africa Command told Air Force Times. “Weather (rainy season) and other environmental complexities are a few reasons for this minimal delay,” the official said in an email. “Because construction on the airfield and runway is ongoing, there are no U.S. ISR aircraft operating out a Nigerian Air Base 201.” The base’s total cost will be roughly $100 million, according to previous AFRICOM estimates. Officials did not immediately respond when asked whether the delays into next year are expected to increase the cost. Air Force Times

US, China at Odds over UN Push to Fund African Peacekeeping
A push at the United Nations to secure financing for peace operations led by the African Union won strong backing from China on Tuesday but the United States poured cold water on the proposal. Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast – the three African members of the Security Council – have presented a draft resolution that would allow UN financing for AU peace missions on a case-by-case basis. France and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres back the initiative that would provide the African Union with a major influx of funds and strengthen its role in dealing with conflicts on the continent. At a council meeting chaired by China, the United States, the top financial contributor to UN peacekeeping, said it was “premature” to agree to regular UN funding of new AU peace operations. AFP

Gunmen in Kenya Abduct Italian Aid Worker
A group of unidentified gunmen have abducted an Italian woman working for an aid organisation in south-east Kenya, police said on Wednesday. The men, reportedly armed with rifles, “fired indiscriminately” before taking the 23-year-old volunteer from a trading centre in Kilifi County. Five people, including three children, were wounded and taken to hospital. The reason for the attack and the identity of the attackers has not yet been established, police said. However the police added that they were treating the incident, which occurred at about 20:00 local time (17:00 GMT) on Tuesday, as a terror attack.  BBC

Rwanda, South Africa Set to Restore Bilateral Relations
Rwanda and South Africa set to resume full cordial bilateral relations, Rwandan foreign minister Richard Sezibera said Tuesday in Kigali, capital city of Rwanda. Bilateral relations between the two countries are progressing to normal and anticipated discussions will primarily focus on strengthening bilateral relations between Rwanda and South Africa, said Sezibera at a press conference, adding that the heads of state of Rwanda and South Africa have tasked foreign ministers to discuss ways of restoring the relations. However, the two top diplomats are yet to start discussions, he said. Rwanda and South Africa have had lukewarm relations after South Africa expelled in 2014 three Rwandan diplomats it linked to a raid on an exiled Rwandan general’s Johannesburg home, and Rwanda retaliated by expelling six South African envoys.  Xinhua

Rights Group: Egypt Tortures, Disappears Children
An international rights group said Tuesday that Egypt has committed “shocking violations” against children, including torture and enforced disappearances. Amnesty International said it has documented at least six children, including a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, who were tortured in custody, and 12 who were subjected to enforced disappearances since 2015. It did not give the ages of the other children. Citing the children’s families, Amnesty said the six were “severely beaten, given electric shocks on their genitalia and other parts of their body or suspended by their limbs.” Some of the torture was aimed at forcing the children to confess to crimes they had not committed, it said in a joint report with the Egyptian Front for Human Rights. VOA

IGAD Reconstitutes South Sudan Peace Monitoring Body
The East African bloc of nations IGAD on Monday reconstituted the internationally-backed body tasked with monitoring South Sudan’s peace process. “The Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) was reconstituted at a meeting convened on Monday 19 November 2018 by H.E. Dr Ismail Wais, the IGAD Special Envoy to South Sudan,” partly reads a statement issued by JMEC on Tuesday. The IGAD Special Envoy commended the IGAD Council of Ministers for their support of the revitalized peace deal as well as the government of South Sudan and the parties for their commitment to the peace process. JMEC Interim Chairman Ambassador Lt. Gen. Augostino Njoroge told the members of the reconstituted JMEC: “This august body is now reconstituted, made more inclusive, and bestowed with significant power and responsibility to monitor the Parties’ and stakeholders’ adherence to the implementation of the revitalized Peace Agreement. I can assert that we have the attention of the region as well as the people of South Sudan, and we must do our utmost to deliver.”  Radio Tamazuj

Germany Hesitant to Re-Start Cooperation with Zimbabwe One Year after Mugabe Ouster
When the military axed Zimbabwe’s long-time ruler Robert Mugabe last year, Germany’s political scene breathed a short sigh of relief. But one year on, Berlin seems to have lost hope that Mugabe’s exit has put the country back on the road to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule. “We were hoping that President Mnangagwa would introduce major political and economic reforms,” a diplomatic source in Berlin told DW. “So far we are seeing little progress.” In the eyes of western observers, Mnangagwa’s government has so far failed to reform the judicial system or the country’s security forces, both key pillars of Mugabe’s authoritarian rule. Critics say that oppression of opposition politicians, journalists and civil society organizations continues. Controversial presidential elections in late July marred by fraud claims and violent protests also did little to increase German confidence. Security forces killed six people in protests against delays in election results in early August.  Deutsche Welle

CAR Ex-Militia Leader ‘Rambo’ to Face ICC Judges
A former Central African militia leader Alfred Yekatom, also known as “Colonel Rambo” will face international war crimes judges for the first time on Friday, the International Criminal Court said. “The initial appearance of Alfred Yekatom… is scheduled for Friday, November 23, at 11:00 local time,” the Hague-based court said in a statement issued on Tuesday. At Friday’s hearing, judges will “verify the identity of the suspect and the language in which he is able to follow the proceedings.” “He will be informed of the charges against him,” the ICC added. Yekatom arrived at the ICC’s detention unit over the weekend after being extradited from the Central African Republic where he is suspected of having committed war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder and recruiting child soldiers. AFP

Libya Uses Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets to Force Migrants off Ship
Libyan authorities have used rubber bullets and tear gas to forcibly disembark more than 90 refugees and migrants who had refused to leave a cargo ship docked in the port of Misrata. The Panama-flagged ship rescued them off the Libyan coast 10 days ago, as their boat began sinking, and brought them to Misrata. Once there, 14 disembarked willingly but, in the first documented case of its kind, the other 92 refused to leave. “A joint force raided the cargo ship and used rubber bullets and tear gas to force [them off the ship],” the commander of the central region coastguards, Tawfiq Esskair, told the Reuters news agency by phone on Tuesday. Al Jazeera

Military Moves In, Cordons off Forex Shops in Arusha
Tanzanian military cordoned off forex bureaus in Arusha in an unprecedented move that rattled clients and the business community. The blockade began between 11am and 12 noon on Monday when soldiers moved in and kept guard outside the currency exchange shops in the city with no one allowed access. According to The Citizen, some officers appeared to be working from within in what many speculated could be an audit ordered by the regulator, the Bank of Tanzania. The newspaper said when it reached a senior BoT official in Arusha for comment, she initially expressed surprise. She later told the reporter that the central bank would issue a statement on the closure of the bureaux de changes. Owners of the dozens of the outlets across the central business district could not be reached for comment by press time. The East African

Can Data Be Shared among US, Chinese and Russian Aircraft? Sudan Did It.
Sudan has been flying military aircraft of Russian and Chinese origin alongside American fighter jets — and sharing data among them, according to the chief of staff of the Sudanese Air Force. “Sudanese engineers have been able to make an adaptation between Eastern and Western platforms,” Lt. Gen. Pilot Salah Eldin Abdelkhaliq Saeed said at the second Manama Airpower Symposium this month. “They have even entered American, Russian and Chinese radars in one command-and-control center. We have provided all our platforms with a unified Sudanese surveillance system and Sudanese communication devices.” Russian fighters operating in Sudan include the Mig-29, Mig-23, Su-24 and Su-25, as well as the AN-26, AN-30, AN-32, AN-12 and Ilyushin Il-76 Russian military transport aircraft. Sudan is also operating the Chinese A-5, PT-6, FTC-2000 and K-8 aircraft, in addition to American C-130s, French Puma helicopters and German Bo 105 helicopters. DefenseNews



Photo: Adam Jones