Africa Media Review for November 21, 2019

Suspected Islamist Militants Kill 19, Burn Church in Eastern DR Congo
Islamist militiamen killed at least 19 people overnight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, stepping up attacks on civilians in response to a military campaign against them in border areas with Uganda, local officials said on Wednesday. The assailants, who the officials said belong to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, also kidnapped several people and torched a Catholic church during two separate attacks about 35 km (22 miles) apart. The Congolese army began an offensive three weeks ago near the Ugandan border. The ADF has been operating there for more than two decades and is one of dozens of rebel groups active in the mineral-rich areas where civil wars resulted in millions of deaths around the turn of the century. … Army spokesman Mak Hazukay said the ADF killed at least seven people on the outskirts of the city of Beni, adding that two soldiers were wounded and several people were missing. Donat Kibwana, the administrator of Beni territory, said ADF fighters killed another 12 people in the village of Mavete, where they also burned a church and a pharmacy and kidnapped several others. Reuters

Ethiopia’s Sidama Wait for Referendum Result for New State
Elections officials in Ethiopia’s ethnic Sidama region counted ballots on Thursday from a key referendum that many expect will endorse the carving out of a new federal state. The vote on Wednesday is seen as a critical test in a nation already struggling with community tensions. Analysts say it could inspire other groups to push for autonomy and redraw boundaries in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country with more than 100 million people. “The voting process ended completely peacefully, with no security incidents reported to us or the security forces,” said Soleyana Shimeles, spokeswoman for the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia. Where counting was completed, initial results from that station were being posted on the walls outside. Results are expected to be announced late on Thursday or on Friday, Shimelis said. AFP

Almaas Elman, Somali-Canadian Activist, Is Shot Dead in Mogadishu
A Somali-Canadian aid worker and activist was shot dead on Wednesday in Mogadishu, a police official said, dealing a new blow to efforts by the Somali diaspora to return home and help rebuild the country after decades of war. The death of the aid worker, Almaas Elman, was confirmed by Brig. Gen. Zakia Hussein, the deputy commissioner of the Somali Police Force, who said investigations into the killing were continuing. It was not immediately clear who killed Ms. Elman or why, but General Hussein said Ms. Elman was hit by a bullet while inside a car at the Halane complex, a heavily fortified compound that flanks the international airport in Mogadishu and is populated by African Union troops and representatives from United Nations agencies and embassies. The New York Times

18 Jihadists Killed by Burkina Faso Police
Burkina Faso authorities said 18 “terrorists” were killed when they attempted to attack a police base in the north of the country, where security services have been struggling to quell a rising jihadist revolt. “The attackers were repulsed thanks to a prompt response,” police said in a statement after Wednesday’s assault in Arbinda, Soum Province. One police officer was killed and seven officers were injured, the statement added. Weapons, motorcycles and GPS equipment belonging to the jihadists were recovered from the scene. It comes after the Burkina Faso army said it had killed 32 “terrorists” last week in two operations in the north of the impoverished and politically fragile Sahel country. The country’s badly equipped, poorly trained and underfunded security forces have been unable to stem jihadist violence, which has intensified throughout 2019 to become almost daily. AFP

France Takes Aim at Saudi over Failed West Africa Commitments
France’s armed forces minister criticized close ally Saudi Arabia on Wednesday for failing to honor commitments it made almost two years ago to provide millions of euros to a West African counter-terrorism force fighting Islamist militants. Saudi Arabia agreed in December 2017 to provide about 100 million euros ($110.7 million) to the G5 Sahel force, which is composed of the armies of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad. But nearly three years after its launch, the G5 Sahel remains perennially underfunded and hobbled by poor coordination. Groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have strengthened their foothold across the arid Sahel region, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso. “For the G5, there was a first phase when the international community was mobilized and donors offered commitments to arm the G5, but then there were delays,” France’s minister of the armed forces, Florence Parly, told a parliamentary hearing. “Saudi Arabia has still not honored the promises it made … I can only regret that Saudi Arabia doesn’t honor those commitments,” she said, adding it appeared others were now starting to disburse funds. Reuters

Nigerian Ex-Attorney General Arrested in Dubai over $1.3 Bn Oil Deal
Nigeria’s former attorney general, Mohammed Adoke, was arrested in Dubai, his lawyer said. Adoke was taken into custody seven months after Nigeria’s anti-graft agency issued a warrant for his arrest as part of an investigation into one of the oil industry’s biggest suspected corruption scandals. Adoke’s lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, said Adoke was arrested by Interpol on Monday, November 11, 2019, after travelling to Dubai for a medical appointment. The investigation by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency relates to the $1.3bn sale of a Nigerian offshore oilfield known as OPL 245 by Malabu Oil and Gas in 2011. The agency obtained arrest warrants in April for Adoke, former petroleum minister Dan Etete, and an Eni manager. Eni and Shell jointly acquired the field from Malabu, which was owned by Etete. … In an Italian case, prosecutors accuse former and current executives of Eni and Shell of paying bribes to secure the licence, and allege roughly $1.1bn of the total was siphoned to agents and middlemen. Reuters

CAR Rebel Chief Held in Chad, Says Government
A veteran leader of one of the militia that control most of the Central Africa Republic (CAR) has been arrested in neighbouring Chad, the CAR government said on Wednesday. Abdoulaye Miskine, leader and founder of an armed group called the Democratic Front of the Central African People (FDPC), “has been arrested in Chad. We are seeking his extradition,” spokesman Ange Maxime Kazagui told the press. … Miskine set up the FDPC in 2004, when the country first plunged into civil war, and gave himself the rank of general.He joined the coalition of mainly Muslim militias that in 2013 overthrew then-president Franois Bozize – a revolt that sparked French military intervention and the holding of elections for a successor. In February this year, Miskine signed a peace agreement in Khartoum between CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera and the heads of 14 armed groups. Under the deal, militia chiefs were given senior government positions in the purported aim of helping to cement peace. Miskine was named advisor to the new government but “never took up his position,” Kazagui said on Wednesday. AFP

Mozambique Authorities Must Release 18 Opposition Members: Civil Society
Authorities in Mozambique were on Wednesday urged to release 18 members of an opposition party who were arrested during last month’s disputed poll. A group of 30 African and international civil society and rights groups including Amnesty International, Freedom House, Southern Africa Litigation Centre and dozens others of regional, Mozambican and Angolan rights organisations, said the detainees had been denied access to lawyers and “forced to confess to wrongdoing.” Incumbent Filipe Nyusi won a new five-year term after his Frelimo party secured 73 percent of the vote. But the credibility of the results has been questioned by the European Union and various other local and international observer groups. The 18 were arrested in Gaza province in southern Mozambique as polling was about to open on October 15 after allegations their accreditation was “false.” The group, from the opposition New Democracy party, were arrested in the same province where Anastacio Matavele, 58, the head of a local election observation mission, was shot dead days before the election. AFP

Court Postpones Hearing 8th Time for Tanzanian Journalist
A Tanzanian court on Wednesday postponed the hearing for the eighth time of a
prominent Tanzanian journalist arrested in July in a case his lawyers and rights group say is politically motivated. Police arrested Dar es Salaam-based journalist Erick Kabendera in July and he was charged in August with leading organized crime, failing to pay taxes and money laundering. His lawyers reject the charges. His trial has not begun. At each of the eight hearings since August, prosecutors have told the court that investigations were not complete. Last month, Kabendera’s lawyer Jebra Kambole told the court that he is pursuing a plea bargain. On Wednesday, Kambole told the court that the process had not reached a conclusion. Rights groups say press freedom has nosedived since President John Magufuli took office in 2015. On his watch the government has shut newspapers and websites as well as arrested opposition leaders and restricted political rallies. Reuters

Uganda Bans Thousands of Charities in “Chilling” Crackdown
More than 12,000 charities have been told they can no longer operate in Uganda as critics raised fears that government regulatory measures effectively amounted to a purge. The government said a review that took place in August and September would root out poorly performing organisations and create “a reliable data bank on all NGOs” in the country. But activists say a requirement to validate their status could have a “chilling effect” on their work. Many fear that any criticism of the government could lead to a withdrawal of status. Many organisations believe they are already under scrutiny. In June, the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, which represents 149 NGOs in Uganda, reported that its members had suffered 34 office break-ins since 2011, but received no reports on police investigations. Following the government review, the number of officially registered NGOs in Uganda has been slashed from 14,207 to 2,118. It is understood that most of the organisations told to stop operating are local groups, rather than large international NGOs. The Guardian

Egyptian Exile Who Sparked Protests Launches Opposition Movement
Mohamed Ali, the whistleblower who sparked rare street protests in Egypt two months ago with his revelations about corruption in his country, has launched a plan to coordinate a new opposition movement dedicated to saving the Egyptian economy and democracy. Ali announced in London on Wednesday that he was acting to bring together liberals, the Muslim Brotherhood and the April 6 movement in a move that he hopes will end with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi forced to stand down. Ali became a near-accidental leader of the Egyptian opposition when on 2 September he launched a series of Facebook video tirades revealing the scale of personal corruption inside Egypt based on his personal knowledge as a businessman working for many years on Egyptian military construction projects. His inside knowledge and ability to speak in a way that appealed to ordinary Egyptians led to street protests across Egypt, but the protest movement died down following widespread arrests and state repression. The Guardian

Unfinished Business in the Birthplace of Sudan’s Revolution
ATBARA, Sudan – Standing on the platform where he and other protesters packed a train to Khartoum in April to pressure Sudan’s military to share power with civilians, Abdelaziz Abdallah made clear the revolution driven by their city has much further to go. A veteran railway worker-turned union leader, Abdallah was among the first to take to the streets in this labour stronghold in December, sparking a national uprising that toppled long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir almost four months later. It took another four months for the military, which had ousted Bashir, to formally agree to a three-year power sharing deal with a civilian-led transitional government. People in Atbara, a colonial-era railway hub, support the national government in the capital some 350 km (220 miles) to the south, but say some of the main grievances which drove their uprising – poor salaries and unemployment – remain. … The protesters have formed resistance committees, which helped maintain the uprising and now want a say in their city. Able to meet freely since bans on gatherings were lifted with Bashir’s fall, they discuss issues such as how to create jobs for the youth by trying to find farmland to grow crops. But they also fume that the city is still run by a military governor. Reuters

Two African Airlines Threaten to Terminate Service to Juba
Ethiopian Airlines and Kenyan Airlines are threatening to halt service to Juba International Airport because too many customers’ bags are being stolen. After a Friday council of ministers meeting, South Sudan government spokesperson Michael Makuei said the two airlines told the government they intend to stop routes through the South Sudanese capital because of the rampant theft of customer’s luggage at the Juba airport. The airlines did not specify when they might cut off service. Kuach Pech, 31, said he lost a carton of books when he flew on Ethiopian Airlines from Entebbe to Juba last year. He said he reported the case to the Ethiopian Airlines staff in Juba, but his luggage was never recovered. Pech said people often lose their belongings at Juba International Airport because of what he calls “disorganization” at the arrival terminal. … Kur Kuol, managing director of Juba International Airport, said he intends to meet with executives of the two airlines to discuss the matter. VOA

The Reluctant Farewell to Corporal Punishment
[T]he use of corporal punishment as a parts of a child’s upbringing generally comes with grave consequences for the child, says Goro Palenfo from the International Bureau of Children’s Rights in Burkina Faso. The social worker believes that it makes little sense to differentiate between stronger or lighter beatings. “Because it always brings an entire pallette of consequences with it, both physical and psychological.” … Passing and implementing laws that prohibit corporal punishment can take time. Oby Ezekwesili, Nigeria’s former education minister and co-found of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign explains what the situation is like in her country: “We have a child rights act that was passed and needed to be domesticated in the different states of the country. Most of the states in the southern part of the country have domesticated it, in other words, passed their own state act complementary to the federal act. But a number of states in the North have not done so,” Ezekwesili explained. “The fact that criminality is not punished and that people can get away with harming children and a society that does not take care for its weak and vulnerable, that is a dangerous trend,” Ezekwesili argued. DW

The ‘Amazon of Africa’ Shutters in Cameroon – Just before Black Friday
Jumia Technologies, often described as the “Amazon of Africa,” had suddenly halted e-commerce operations in Cameroon. “It all just disappeared,” said Boris Bambo, a software engineer and frequent customer in the central African country’s economic capital, Douala. The nation’s biggest online retailer shuttered this week with no warning, after the director called an all-staff meeting and told about 100 workers that it wasn’t making money in Cameroon, a senior employee told The Washington Post. The closure comes as Cameroon’s bustling tech scene fights to weather a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives over two years, rattled the nation’s economy and unleashed regular Internet outages. Dreams of quick deliveries in one of the region’s biggest markets have tangled with a lack of street signs, a general preference for cash payments, worries about fake products and escalating security concerns. The Washington Post

Kenya Creates New ‘Climate Atlas’ to Protect Its Food Supply
Kenya will launch its first localised weather modelling system early next year, providing key data on how climate change will likely impact crop production across the East African nation in the decades to come, the project’s founder said on Tuesday. Developed by researchers at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, the Climate Atlas will provide projections on rainfall and temperature patterns across Kenya’s 47 counties from the year 2050 to 2100. John Wesonga, the lead developer of the web-based Climate Atlas platform, said there were countless global climate modelling systems available, but none provided localised data for Kenya over a long period. “The Climate Atlas will provide us with future scenarios of what the weather patterns will be like at a county-level in Kenya,” Wesonga told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. … Based on tailored projections, policymakers, researchers, businesses and farmers will able to shift to interventions from using more resilient crop varieties to improving drainage during drought and floods respectively. Thomson Reuters Foundation



Photo: Adam Jones