Africa Media Review for November 26, 2018

Al-Shabab Militants Kill 15 in Attack on Religious Center
Al-Shabab militants have attacked the compound of a controversial cleric in the central Somalia town of Galkayo, killing him and at least 14 other people, officials and witnesses said. Residents in the town said they woke up Monday to huge explosions followed by heavy, sustained gunfire at the compound in the southern half of the town. Witnesses said at around 6:00 a.m. local time a suicide car bomb rammed into the gate followed by suicide infantry who stormed the compound. The compound has been the headquarters of the Sufi cleric Sheikh Abdiweli Ali Elmi and his congregation. Al-Shabab accused him of committing blasphemy last year and threatened to kill him after he posted controversial videos on YouTube. Religious leaders criticized him for posting the videos that showed the cleric pointing to a picture some thought represented the Prophet Muhammad. He was also condemned for using music in his worship services. VOA

Top Mali Jihadist Amadou Koufa Killed in French Raid – Army
One of Mali’s top jihadist leaders has been killed in a raid by French forces, the Malian army says. It says Amadou Koufa died in Friday’s operation in the central Mopti region. France earlier suggested that Koufa might be among about 30 Islamists “put out of action” in the raid. The radical preacher is described as a senior member of the Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM) group that has carried out frequent attacks in Mali and neighbouring Burkina Faso. “I confirm that Amadou Koufa was killed during the operation,” Malian army spokesman Col Diarran Kone told Reuters news agency on Saturday. He declined to provide any further details. The French army had earlier said that its operation targeted a base controlled by Koufa.  BBC

12 Dead in Suspected Mozambique Islamist Attack
Twelve people have been killed in a suspected Islamist attack in northern Mozambique, with thousands of villagers fleeing the area into neighbouring Tanzania, police sources said Sunday. Early Friday, “there was an attack in Nangade district, where there are no security patrols. The attackers killed 12 people, mostly women and children,” a police source in Cabo Delgado province, who asked not to be named, told AFP. The attack took place in the village of Chicuaia Velha, just a few kilometres (miles) from Tanzania, forcing several thousand people to cross the border to seek safety, police said. A local journalist said the villagers were killed by machete or died when their houses were set on fire by the attackers. It was the third such incident in the last month in Cabo Delgado, leaving 20 dead in all. AFP

US Embassy in DRC Warns of ‘Possible Terrorist Threat’
The US embassy in Kinshasa said it has received information about a “possible terrorist threat” against its facilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. With four weeks to go until a crucial election in the crisis-gripped central African nation, the American authorities urged its citizens to “keep a low profile” and said the embassy would be closed on Monday. “The United States Embassy in Kinshasa has received credible and specific information of a possible terrorist threat against US Government facilities in Kinshasa,” a statement posted on its website on Saturday said. “US citizens in Kinshasa and throughout the DRC are strongly encouraged to maintain a heightened level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness. Monitor local media for updates.”  AFP

DR Congo Opposition Figures Tshisekedi and Kamerhe Form Joint Ticket
Congolese presidential candidate Vital Kamerhe endorsed rival Felix Tshisekedi on Friday, creating a second opposition bloc that will contest the December 23 election against President Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor. Tshisekedi, 55, the president of Congo’s largest opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress, will stand against opposition leader and businessman Martin Fayulu and former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, who is backed by Kabila. “I decide today to support Mr. Tshisekedi as the president of Congo,” Kamerhe said at a joint news conference with Tshisekedi in Nairobi to cheers from supporters. “This is the winning ticket.”  France 24

Influential Church on Election Stump in DR Congo
The influential Catholic Church joined the electoral fray Sunday as the Democratic Republic of Congo gears up for next month’s watershed presidential election to chose a successor to veteran leader Joseph Kabila. Addressing several thousand attending mass, new archbishop of Kinshasa, Fridolin Ambongo, made a “vibrant appeal to the patriotic conscience of our people … not to succumb to provocation and, above all verbal, violence during this presidential campaign.” Instead, he called for national unity ahead of a crucial poll in a volatile, poverty-stricken nation which outgoing President Kabila has ruled with an iron fist since 2001 Ambongo, who three weeks ago succeeded charismatic Laurent Monsengwo, used his open-air mass to urge voters they should have no truck with discrimination in any form, be it ethnic or political.  AFP

18 Girls Kidnapped by Boko Haram in Niger, Official Says
A regional deputy official in Niger says that 18 girls have been kidnapped from two different villages by suspected Boko Haram militants. Lamido Harouna Moumouni said 24 attackers abducted 15 girls in the village of Blaharde early Saturday and three other girls in the village of Bague. This is not far from where suspected extremists killed at least seven people at a French drilling company’s site Wednesday, and near Nigeria’s border. Moumouni asked the government do “everything possible to secure this population, including through dialogue with Boko Haram,” saying people will leave. Two years ago, about 39 women were kidnapped in Ngalewa in the same region.  Anadolu Agency

Nigerian Soldiers Lash Out in Video after Bloody Boko Haram Attack
Troops fighting on the frontlines of the Boko Haram conflict in northeastern Nigeria have released a video claiming at least 100 soldiers died in a recent attack and deploring the poor state of their equipment. In the five-minute video seen by AFP on Saturday, a soldier narrating in the background shows the burnt shells of several tanks and vehicles at the Metele base, which was attacked by the IS-affiliated Islamic State West Africa Province on November 18. At least 43 soldiers were killed in the attack according to military and civilian sources, though the army disputes the death toll. The video came as it emerged Saturday that around a dozen girls had been kidnapped by suspected members of Boko Hara. AFP

Ahead of Nigeria’s Election, Opposition Weaponises Soldier Deaths
Hundreds of Nigerian soldiers have been killed in recent months by Islamist militants who the president vowed to defeat when voted into power in 2015 – and the bloodshed has become a useful weapon for opponents aiming to topple him in coming elections. Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has been largely silent about the fighting in the northeast as, in battle after battle, soldiers have died. On Thursday Buhari’s political opponents disclosed that 44 soldiers had been killed in an attack in the village of Metele, in the northeastern state of Borno, on Sunday. The move is calculated to undermine the security credentials of the president as he seeks a second term in three months’ time, say politics and security analysts. Reuters

Tanzania’s Opposition Head Arrested
The head of Tanzania’s main opposition party was arrested Friday in Dar es Salaam, after twice failing to appear in court to face charges of illegal protest, a party official said. Chadema leader Freeman Mbowe was arrested at Kisutu court alongside fellow opposition MP Esther Matiko, where they and seven others were attending a trial hearing for their participation in a February protest. “They were immediately taken to prison. That is to say, they are no longer free defendants. The judge cancelled their release on bail,” said Chadema secretary-general Vincent Mashinji, who is also an accused in the case. The magistrate ordered Mbowe’s detention after he failed to appear before the court twice, on November 1 and 8. AFP

Gabon’s Ali Bongo to Move from Riyadh to Rabat ‘To Convalesce’
Gabon’s Ali Bongo, who has spent a month in treatment at a Saudi hospital, will be transferred next week to Rabat to convalesce, a presidential source told AFP on Friday. Bongo, 59, was rushed to hospital in Riyadh on October 24 after falling ill at an economic forum. After an extended period of silence, the Gabonese presidency eventually admitted he was “seriously ill” and had undergone surgery, while insisting he was on the mend. The source said Bongo would be transferred to a hospital in the Moroccan capital “next week” where he would undergo “a period of convalescence and rehabilitation”. “The doctors think he is up to travelling, even for such a long trip… he is breathing normally and communicating in a coherent manner,” the source said. AFP

South Sudan Military Leaders Hold Joint Defence Board Meeting in Khartoum
The top military officials of the signatories to the South Sudan peace deal held the first meeting of the Joint Defence Board (JDB) in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum on Sunday. Under the peace accord, the JDB is formed at the level of Chiefs of Staff and Directors General of National Security Service, Police and all other organized forces. The mechanism is tasked with command and control over all forces during the pre-transitional period. The meeting which was held at the Higher Academy for Strategic and Security Studies was attended by Sudan’s army general Isam al-Din Mubarak and the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais.  Rdio Tamazuj

Holding of Political Detainees Likely to Delay Healing in Juba
South Sudan’s refusal to release all political detainees as per the September Agreement could delay the national reconciliation and healing. While Juba recently released Riek Machar’s spokesperson James Gatdet Dak, the whereabouts of other prominent personalities — Peter Biar Ajak, Kerbino Wol, Samuel Dong Luak and Aggrey Idri Izbon — remain unknown. The former chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Information Thomas Wani Kundu has remained under house arrest in Juba since 2016. He is not allowed to go to church or even attend funerals. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) representative in Kenya James Oryema told The EastAfrican that the continued detention of perceived opponents is going to derail the implementation of peace deal, and is not good for national healing.  The East African

Egypt and Sudan Set up Joint Patrols against Cross-Border Threats
Egypt and Sudan, which face cross-border threats from militias operating in Libya, agreed on Sunday to set up joint military patrols on their border, Sudan’s chief of staff said following talks between the countries’ defense ministers. Libya, with which Egypt and Sudan have a joint border, has been riven by internal strife since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011 and a power vacuum has grown that has allowed rival militias and armed Islamist groups to grow. “It was agreed to establish joint military patrols between the two countries’ borders, establish mechanisms to control the border and establish future joint forces on the border to combat terrorism, cross-border crimes, control the border and combat all manifestations of evasion,” Sudanese Chief of Staff Kamal Abdul Maarouf told reporters.  Reuters

Islamic State Claims Deadly Attack in Southern Libya
The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a town in Libya’s southern desert that killed at least nine people and in which several others were kidnapped. The militant group, which made its claim in a statement on its news agency Amaq, said 29 people had been either killed or wounded in Friday’s attack, Reuters reported. A military source said the gunmen had occupied a police station in the oasis town of Tazerbo, north of Kufra, until residents expelled them. IS fighters targeted security service members loyal to Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, who heads the self-styled Libyan National Army, AFP news agency reported. Middle East Eye

Burundi Arrests 4 Former Army Officials in Connection to Assassination of Former Ruler
Burundian authorities have arrested four former military officials suspected of playing a role in the assassination of the country’s first democratically elected President Melchior Ndadaye in 1993. State prosecutor Sylvestre Nyandwi on Saturday said prosecution had evidence that the four conspired to execute President Ndadaye. “We took our time to gather evidence and the case is still pending in the Supreme Court so we are doing this in order to fight against impunity in our country,” said Nyandwi. He, however, did not reveal the identity of the soldiers arrested but added that more suspects will be arrested in connection to the foul play. “We are going to continue with our investigation and then bring them to court,” he added. President Ndadaye, a Hutu, was assassinated three months after coming into office on October 21, 1993.  The East African

Ethiopia PM, Opposition to Discuss Electoral Reforms
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed has called for discussions with registered opposition parties in the country, one day after he appointed a new elections board chairperson. The office of the prime minister issued a statement saying Abiy will on Tuesday next week, meet opposition parties, including those that recently returned from exile. The meeting will discuss electoral reforms ahead of the much anticipated general elections in 2020. ‘‘The discussion will focus on Ethiopia’s ongoing democratisation process as well as electoral reforms required to ensure that the next elections are free and fair,’‘ read part of the statement. Africa News

New US Ambassador to Somalia Sees Path to Peace, Prosperity
A week before Donald Yamamoto arrived in Mogadishu, three car bombs exploded in the heart of the city, just outside the Sahafi Hotel. Dozens of nearby motorists and pedestrians were killed or maimed. A fourth bomb went off when first responders arrived, bringing the death toll to at least 52, with more than 100 casualties. It was the latest in a string of attacks by the Islamist terror group al-Shabab, which for more than a decade has sought to dismantle the Somali federal government. But Yamamoto, the United States’ new ambassador to Somalia, isn’t deterred. By strengthening its institutions and economy, Somalia can achieve security and stability, Yamamoto told VOA’s Somali service.  VOA

Chad’s Idriss Deby in First-Ever Visit to Israel
Chadian President Idriss Deby has met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first such visit by a leader of the northcentral African nation which severed bilateral ties in 1972. Both leaders called the visit “historic” as they met in Jerusalem on Sunday with security issues high on the agenda. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Netanyahu said “we never fully stopped our contacts … but we are now expanding them at a very rapid rate.” “And we wish to do so in all areas, first of all in fighting terrorism,” he said, adding that he hoped to visit the Muslim-majority African nation. Deby spoke of the two countries committing to a new era of cooperation with “the prospect of re-establishing diplomatic relations.”  Al Jazeera

Lake Victoria Disaster: Many Dead after Ugandan Pleasure Boat Sinks
At least 30 people have died in a boat accident on Lake Victoria in Uganda. Diving teams were retrieving bodies from the lake on Sunday after the boat overturned and sank at about 7pm on Saturday night. Senior police officer Zurah Ganyana said 27 people were rescued overnight. More than 90 passengers were onboard, leading officials to believe the death toll will rise. Ganyana said the boat was in poor condition, had been grounded for some time and did not have a valid licence to operate. The boat was taking passengers on a pleasure cruise on Lake Victoria, a popular weekend activity for young people in Kampala, when it capsized close to shore.  The Guardian

Ailing Mugabe “Unable to Walk”
Zimbabwe’s former leader Robert Mugabe is receiving medical care in Singapore and unable to walk due to illness and old age, says President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa told his ZANU-PF party supporters at a rally that the 94-year-old Mugabe had been receiving medical care in Singapore for the past two months. “He (Mugabe) is now old. Of course, he now is unable to walk but whatever he asks for we will provide,” Mnangagwa told hundreds of supporters Saturday in Mugabe’s home area of Zvimba, about 100 km west of the capital Harare. “We are looking after him. He is the founding father of the nation of Zimbabwe. He is our founding father of free Zimbabwe.” RFI



Photo: Adam Jones