Africa Media Review for November 25, 2016

Amnesty Accuses Nigeria of Killing 150 Biafra Separatists
Nigeria’s military has killed at least 150 peaceful protesters in a “chilling campaign” to repress renewed demands to create a breakaway state of Biafra in the southeast, Amnesty International said Thursday. The military denied any “killing of defenseless agitators.” Security forces have “exercised maximum restraint” in response to violent protesters who in May killed five police officers and wounded several soldiers, said army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman.France 24

Mass Protests in Cameroon Are Exposing the Fragility of Its Dual French-English System
Protests in Bamenda, Cameroon’s third largest city, which started after school teachers embarked on an indefinite strike this week, have roots in the peculiar bilingual colonial history of the central African country. The Bamenda protests, which turned violent, were staged by aggrieved English-speaking Cameroonian youth, part of a building uprising against what is seen as the neglect of people of the south west and north west regions of Cameroon—former British colonies. Protesters mounted barricades and burnt tires along major streets, armed security forces responded with teargas and live bullets. One person is reported dead and many others have sustained injuries. Cameroon’s government, education and legal systems are dominated by the larger French-speaking region. In recent years tensions have mounted as people from the Anglophone regions have complained about being marginalized by the Francophone-led establishment. The Anglophone regions account for just under 20% of the Cameroon’s 23 million population. Quartz

Two Girl Suicide Bombers Attack North Cameroon Town
Two young female suicide bombers attacked a town in Cameroon’s Far North region early on Thursday, authorities said, the fourth strike near the Nigerian border by suspected Boko Haram militants this week. One of the bombs exploded in Mora, killing the girl and wounding at least four people, said Babila Akaou, prefect of the Mayo-Sava department. Locals killed the second bomber before her device detonated, he added, without going into further details. Fighters from Boko Haram have killed thousands in their campaign to carve out an Islamist state in their base in northeast Nigeria and have also launched attacks in neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The group has frequently used female bombers and children to hit targets. Reuters

Amisom in Need of 4,000 more Troops to Fight Al-Shabaab
The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) will need additional 4,000 troops to liberate the Al-Shabaab controlled areas in the Juba Valley, Bakool, Hiraan and along the some coastal areas. The Amisom spokesperson, Col Joseph Kibet, told the The EastAfrican in Mogadishu that although the force needs a maximum of 49,000 soldiers to fully secure the remaining areas, the recent African Union Peace Security Council recommended additional 4,000 troops, who can be sourced from the Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) or from fresh volunteers. The additional troops will boost the current 21,129 from Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Burundi who were currently on high alert to secure the ongoing elections. The East African

8 Egyptian Soldiers Killed in Sinai Car Bombing
Eight Egyptian soldiers were killed Thursday in a car bombing at a checkpoint in the northern Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian officials said. The officials said at least 12 troops were injured and that three militants also died in the attack. Egypt’s military spokesman, Mohammed Samir, said in a statement posted on his official Facebook page that militants also had blown up an armored vehicle at the checkpoint near the troubled city of el-Arish. No group has claimed responsibility. VOA

Egypt to Hold Mass Trial of Suspected Islamic State Militants
Egypt’s public prosecutor is to bring nearly 300 suspected Islamic State militants before the country’s military judiciary in one of the biggest trials of alleged violent extremists in recent years. The accused include members of Isis’s networks in Egypt and Saudi Arabia who plotted to kill the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Nayef, officials in Cairo say. Isis has generally steered away from ambitious plots to assassinate such high-profile figures as Sisi and Bin Nayef, who is also Saudi Arabia’s minister of the interior. It is unclear whether these alleged efforts – which date back to 2014 – had the sanction of senior commanders of the group. The Guardian

Ethiopia Detains Foreign Pilots in a Vintage Air Rally
Ethiopian authorities have detained several foreign pilots, including Americans, who were participating in a trans-Africa air rally, the United States Embassy said Thursday. Embassy officials are working with Ethiopian authorities to secure consular access to see the American pilots, the embassy said in a statement. The Vintage Air Rally billed itself as a “flying rally across Africa, from Crete to Cape Town,” for planes built in the early 20th century. Wossenyelah Hunegnawm, the head of the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, said the pilots entered Ethiopian airspace illegally Tuesday and are under investigation. AP on The Washington Post

Lesotho Parties to Form Coalition Govt
Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s Democratic Congress(DC) and former Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s All Basotho Convention (ABC) have signed an agreement to form a grand coalition of government of national unity after months of speculation. In the agreement, Mosisili’s Deputy Monyane Moleleki will take over as Prime Minister and Thabane will be his Deputy. ABC leader and former Prime Minister Tom Thabane, Basotho National Party( BNP) leader Thesele Maseribane and Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL ) leader Keketso Rantso are still holed up in South Africa. The agreement is now at the mercy of the Speaker of the National Assembly to get the ball rolling but all these parties want the Prime Minister to step down.   Should this move pass, Monyane Moleleki will be Lesotho’s next Prime Minister. SABC

Tanzania Suspends U.S.-funded AIDS Programs in a New Crackdown on Gays
East African nations have launched some of the world’s most vicious campaigns against gay men and women, outlawing same-sex liaisons and threatening punishments of years in jail. But in a move that has alarmed health workers, Tanzania is turning its anti-homo­sexual fury in a new direction — targeting HIV/AIDS programs that have helped tame a disease that once ravaged the region. Last month, the minister of health announced that Tanzania will ban HIV/AIDS outreach projects aimed at gay men, pending a review. That forced the closure, at least temporarily, of U.S.-funded programs that provide testing, condoms and medical care to gays. About 30 percent of gay men in Tanzania are HIV-positive; now health workers say that figure could rise. The Washington Post

Burundi Says Will Not Cooperate With U.N. Investigation Into Violence
Burundi’s government refused on Thursday to cooperate with a U.N. inquiry into months of political violence, saying accusations of abuses by its officials were part of a political plot. The United Nations announced the inquiry this week to identify perpetrators in the central African state, which has been riven by clashes and killings since protests erupted in 2015 against the president’s decision to seek a third term. “We are not involved in the investigation to be carried out by this commission,” Burundi’s human rights minister, Martin Nivyabandi, told journalists on Thursday. “We are not refusing to cooperate with human rights institutions (on all matters) … we will continue to cooperate on other issues but will not be part of the investigation.” Reuters

South Africa’s Biggest Union Group Backs Ramaphosa to Succeed Zuma
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa saw his chances of becoming South Africa’s next leader increase on Thursday when a powerful union group backed him to succeed President Jacob Zuma as head of the ruling party. Zuma is expected to stand down as African National Congress (ANC) president at a party conference in December next year, ahead of national elections in 2019 when his tenure as president will end. Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid leader popular with investors, is likely to face strong competition if he does throw his hat in the ring, including from Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is head of the African Union. No one has declared an ambition to compete but unofficial jockeying has begun and the debate over who should succeed Zuma has heated up since the ANC suffered its worst local election results in August, exposing party divisions. Reuters

Operation Frees 26 Hostages Held by Rebels in East Congo
The head of a Congo army operation against rebels in the country’s east says it has freed 26 people held by a Uganda-based rebel group. Cpt. Mak Hazukay Mongba said Wednesday the army has freed the hostages over the past several days. Some of the freed hostages said the rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces want Congo’s army to recognize they control parts of Beni. Omar Kavota, director of a local rights group, said the rebel group presents a regional threat because it aims to take control in Uganda. The ADF rebels are among scores of armed groups vying for control in mineral-rich eastern Congo and are blamed for killing nearly 700 civilians since October 2014. Stars and Stripes

South Sudan Leader Directs Expulsion of Sudanese Rebels
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has directed all the country’s security organs and armed forces to ensure no hostile group resides or operates inside the young nation’s territories. “Yes, I would like to confirm that we have received directives from the commander in chief that as of the end of this month, no hostile group operating against the government Sudan should continue to be in the territory of the republic of South Sudan,” a high ranking military intelligence officer told Sudan Tribune Thursday. The South Sudanese official was reacting to recent reports that the government had given an ultimatum for all armed and non-armed Sudanese dissidents to leave the country. “If there are political dissidents from Sudan, they will have to go to sort out their differences inside Sudanese territory or stay here as refugees in which case they will have to be disarmed and go to designated places as refugees or apply for political asylum,” he further stressed. Sudan Tribune

$360m Missing Govt Funds: Swazi Workers Threaten ‘National Shutdown’
Swaziland’s largest workers’ federation has reportedly demanded a thorough investigation into alleged missing government funds from the country’s treasury department. According to Voice of America, the Trade Union Congress of Swaziland (TUCOSWA) threatened to embark on a nationwide industrial action if the country’s prime minister Barnabas Dlamini failed to institute an independent investigation over the missing funds. An independent forensic audit of the accountant general’s office conducted by Kobla Quashie Consultants reportedly revealed that the government treasury department bank accounts had a $360m shortfall. News 24

Somalia: Blast in Mogadishu Kills Top Army Officer, Injures Five
A senior Somali security official has been killed, and five others were wounded in a car bomb explosion in Mogadishu on Thursday, witnesses said. A bomb fitted into a luxury car has resulted from the blast that killed the officer, according to the witnesses who spoke to Radio Shabelle over the phone. The blast occurred at a busy street at Mano-Bolyo junction in Mogadishu’s Shibis district on Thursday noon. No group has yet claimed credit for the attack. Local police officials said they believed Al Shabaab was responsible for the bomb attack which claimed the life the security force member and injured five people. allAfrica

Eritrean Refugees in Israel Sent to Uganda and Rwanda
The sky was still an inky black when the flight from Cairo touched down at Entebbe Airport near Kampala, the capital of Uganda, one morning in mid-January, the fluorescent glow spilling from the small terminal providing the only source of light. It had been 15 hours since Musgun Gebar left Tel Aviv, and the journey staggered him in its brevity. Four years earlier, when he had travelled the other way – from Eritrea in East Africa to Israel – he had done so on foot, a punishing journey across the Sahara and the Sinai that took more than a month. Kidnappers stalked the route, food was scarce, and half of the people with whom he had travelled didn’t survive. But this time, he simply sat down in a small cushioned seat and waited, snapping selfies and eating salty meals from aluminum tins until, suddenly, he had arrived.  Al Jazeera

Ominous Start to Trump Era as US-Africa Investment Conference Cancelled
The association representing most US businesses operating in Africa has cancelled a conference on investing in Africa’s infrastructure due to lack of interest in the planned three-day event. The December 4-6 conference sponsored by the Corporate Council on Africa was to have taken place in the southern US city of New Orleans at a time of widespread uneasiness regarding President-elect Donald Trump’s intentions toward Africa. “Despite a stellar program with top-notch speakers, registration for the conference has not reached a minimum that we believe is necessary to justify the time and effort of our speakers,” council head Stephen Hayes announced earlier this week. The East African

The Eyes in Africa’s Skies: Taking on West Africa’s Terrorists
The capital of Niger is not known as a hotspot for planespotters. But passengers waiting to take off at Niamey’s airport are sometimes in for a treat: the sight of an American Predator drone elegantly gliding down ahead of them on its only runway. If they take off and look out of the window, they will see a generously sized base with new-looking hangars and several American transport aircraft. It is not the only sign of America’s presence in Niamey. The embassy is unusually large; the city’s best restaurants buzz with American accents. And now, at Agadez, an ancient desert city in the north of the country, that is a transit point on the route to Europe, mixed in with the smugglers and migrants are contractors from Europe and South Africa, quietly building another base for drones. Niger, a desperately poor country on the edge of the Sahara—in the semi-arid region known as the Sahel—with a population of some 20m, has become a key location for America’s expanding security presence in West Africa. It is a sign of growing worries about jihadism in the region and of America’s stepped-up efforts to contain it. But the local effects of importing Western might are not always benign.  The Economist

Patients Languish in Burkina Faso Amid Doctors Strike
Doctors and nurses are on strike at Burkina Faso’s public health centers throughout the West African country, leaving only medical students to help the sick amid outbreaks of dengue fever and meningitis. In a desperate attempt to save lives, the government has requisitioned army health workers though many patients were still languishing without care. “Our mother is in critical condition as she does not eat or speak anymore but since yesterday she only had her temperature taken,” said Abdoulaye Compaore, who had brought her to the capital for treatment.“’With this strike there is no hope and we’ll ask permission to take her back to the village,” he said. AP on The Washington Post

EU takes an ethical stance on buying gold from Africa
After years of negotiation, the European Parliament, the European Commission and EU member states have finally agreed on creating laws to regulate metal imports hailing from African conflict regions. At least if the plan works, then the sale of gold, coltan, tin and tungsten, particularly from the Congo and the Great Lakes region in eastern Africa, should no longer be allowed to finance rebel groups and parties to civil war. Judith Sargentini, a Dutch parliamentarian for the Greens party, has expressed her relief over this development. “For the first time there are binding laws on the import into the EU of minerals from conflicts areas.” Deutsche Welle



Photo: Adam Jones