Africa Media Review for November 28, 2016

Officials: 55 Killed in Uganda Fighting Between Rebels, Army
More than four dozen people have been killed in fighting between Ugandan forces and a tribal militia in a remote district near the border with Congo, Ugandan officials said Sunday as security forces battled armed men protecting a tribal king who is accused of leading the rebels. At least 55 people, including 41 rebels and 14 police officers, have been killed in clashes in Uganda’s Rwenzori region, police spokesman Felix Kaweesi told reporters. Four police officials and four soldiers have been wounded, he said. The killings are an escalation of a long-running conflict between Ugandan security forces and rebels who are believed to be loyal to a tribal king, Charles Wesley Mumbere, a critic of the country’s long-time president. Gunfire rang out outside the king’s palace in the western district of Kasese on Sunday as Ugandan troops tried to disarm Mumbere’s guards and arrest him. Ugandan security forces overwhelmed the guards, broke into the palace and transferred Mumbere to a police post for questioning. AP on The New York Times

Uganda Traditional King Arrested over Deadly Clashes
Ugandan traditional king Omusinga wa Rwenzururu Charles Wesley Mumbere was arrested Sunday following fresh clashes in the Rwenzori region He was reportedly picked up from his Buhikira Royal Palace in Kasese town by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in a joint operation with police. Mr Mubere was later airlifted to Kampala. His arrest came just hours after police said at least 55 people were killed in fierce fighting that erupted in western Uganda between security forces and a separatist militia. Police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi said 14 police officers and 41 militants had died in the clashes on Saturday, when fighters linked to the royal guard of the Rwenzururu kingdom attacked patrolling security forces. The East African

Dozens Massacred in DRC Ethnic Violence
At least 30 civilians were killed Sunday in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo village of Luhanga. Most of those slain were Hutus, and local officials said an ethnic Nande militia was behind the killings, which are the latest in a year-long cycle of violence between the two ethnic communities DRC’s North Kivu province. Joy Bokele, a territorial administrator in North Kivu, said militants first attacked a DRC military post before the assault on Luhangabegan. “They started by attacking the FARDC position. While they were attacking the FARDC, another group was executing the population with bladed weapons or bullets,” Bokele told AFP. VOA

Somalia Car Bomb: Blast Rips Through Mogadishu Market
A car bomb has killed at least 11 people and injured 16 others in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The blast hit a market in the Waberi area, while President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was visiting a nearby university. No group claimed responsibility, but suspicion fell on the Islamist militant group al-Shabab. “There was chaos and severed dead bodies strewn around the street,” said Abdulahi Osman, a witness. BBC

Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia
The escalating American military engagement in Somalia has led the Obama administration to expand the legal scope of the war against Al Qaeda, a move that will strengthen President-elect Donald J. Trump’s authority to combat thousands of Islamist fighters in the chaotic Horn of Africa nation. The administration has decided to deem the Shabab, the Islamist militant group in Somalia, to be part of the armed conflict that Congress authorized against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to senior American officials. The move is intended to shore up the legal basis for an intensifying campaign of airstrikes and other counterterrorism operations, carried out largely in support of African Union and Somali government forces.The executive branch’s stretching of the 2001 war authorization against the original Al Qaeda to cover other Islamist groups in countries far from Afghanistan — even ones, like the Shabab, that did not exist at the time — has prompted recurring objections from some legal and foreign policy experts. The New York Times

U.S.-French Operation Targeted Elusive North African Militant, U.S. Says
French aircraft struck and likely killed one of the most wanted senior al Qaeda operatives in southern Libya this month, marking a new level of cooperation between France and the U.S. on targeting militants, U.S. officials said. This wouldn’t be the first time the U.S. thought that a strike killed Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an elusive insurgent leader known as the “one-eyed terrorist” because of an accident years ago that left him disfigured. Reports of his death following previous operations to target him over the years have proved false. But based on what they described as the caliber of the intelligence, U.S. officials expressed greater confidence that the latest strike, conducted by French aircraft in southern Libya based in part on intelligence feeds from the U.S. earlier this month, likely was successful. Efforts are under way to determine its outcome, officials said. Officials at the White House and the Pentagon declined to comment on the strike. A spokesman for the French Ministry of Defense declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal

African Union Welcomes Juba Unconditional Acceptance of Regional Forces
The head of the African Union Commission Sunday welcomed the South Sudanese government’s decision to authorize the deployment of the Regional Protection Force (RPF) without condition. On Saturday, the South Sudan’s Council of Ministers, “unanimously accepted the full implementation of the UN Security Council resolution number 2304,” said Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Peter Bandi in statements broadcasted on the official TV SSBC. “All the discussions that ensued between UNMISS and the technical working groups the government resulted with the full acceptance and immediate deployment of the RPF so that we are able to address some the security challenges that are facing us,” he added. Sudan Tribune

The African Rebel Leader Who’s Stoked About Trump
In the early morning hours of November 9, as Americans braced themselves to learn the identity of their next president, South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar sat in front of the television in his temporary residence in Pretoria, South Africa, growing increasingly perturbed. From thousands of miles away, Machar, the former vice president of South Sudan turned rebel leader in exile, had spent more than a year eagerly following the rise of Donald Trump. In Trump, he saw a fellow political outsider and potential ally in his struggle to regain power in South Sudan. Even as he moved from a hiding place in Ethiopia to a makeshift camp in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, then fled his home country for Congo, then Khartoum, and, most recently, South Africa, he claims to have never missed a U.S. presidential debate. But on election day, when CNN was still forecasting a win for Hillary Clinton, the electricity in Machar’s home abruptly went out, leaving him unable to watch as the returns came in. The Atlantic

Five Reasons Not To Trust Mugabe’s Central Bank Chief on Bond Notes
Long queues outside ATMs. Security guards confirming that those machines that are already empty “won’t be stocked until Monday”. A banking official speaking privately of “truckloads” of bond notes on the move before the weekend. Zimbabweans are in panic mode following Saturday’s announcement that the central bank is to rail-road through the introduction of this controversial currency-that-isn’t-a-currency, starting with 10 million new notes on Monday. “But I thought [bond notes] weren’t coming yet,” wailed one business owner. With the dark days of hyperinflation and rampant currency printing only eight years ago, Zimbabweans aren’t ready to have any hope in these new notes &ndash even if bank chief John Mangudya says he’s staking his career on them. Mail and Guardian

Ebola Scare over, Liberian Immigrants Lose Right to Stay in US
Four years ago, Tenneh Harris, a divorced midwife from Liberia, came to the United States on a 90-day visitor visa but never returned to her West African home. Of America’s estimated 11.2 million immigrants who are here illegally, 40 percent become undocumented in the same way, by overstaying visas. Harris, however, had one thing on her side: the Ebola contagion. The 2014-15 epidemic that ravaged Liberia made her eligible for a humanitarian program of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which deferred her deportation and gave her permission to work. After paying the $515 application fee, she obtained Temporary Protected Status, or TPS. Presto, she was documented again. Since then, Ebola in West Africa has abated. Now, Liberians like Harris are being told they must leave the U.S. by May 21 — the day their work permits expire, and they become undocumented again. The Philadelphia Inquirer

Returning Gabon Opposition Chief Still Claims He Won
Gabon’s opposition leader Jean Ping once more declared himself “president-elect” as he returned home on Saturday, claiming he had the support of multiple foreign countries after a month abroad. The re-election of President Ali Bongo in August sparked deadly unrest in oil-rich Gabon as Ping’s opposition cried foul. “All the embassies know with certainty that it was I, Jean Ping, who you elected president of the Gabonese Republic on August 27,” Ping told supporters who turned out at the airport to meet him, while hundreds of others gathered at his headquarters in Libreville. “The same embassies know that it was Ali Bongo who was the unlucky candidate in this presidential election,” said Ping, who has spent the last month in Paris, Brussels and Washington and flew in from the French capital. News 24

As Nigeria’s Recession Takes Hold, Buhari’s Shine Wanes
It’s not Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s fault that Nigeria’s economy is inextricably tied to the global price of oil, now half of its 2014 peak of over $100 per barrel. But the president’s response to the economic crisis has a growing number of people concerned that he doesn’t have what it takes to rescue Nigeria from recession. Warning signs appeared early. Buhari took six months after being elected to name a finance minister, then vowed not to “kill the naira” by devaluing it, against expert advice and with nefarious consequences. His seemingly lackadaisical attitude to the crashing economy spooked investors who worried that he was ignoring the crisis. News 24

Civil Disobedience Commences in Khartoum
A general civil disobedience began in Sudan Sunday despite the government reinstating subsidies on medical drugs. There was minimal activity at most business premises in Khartoum as their operators heeded calls to boycott work. Many learning institutions were also partially closed. Since Friday, thousands of activists have campaigned on social media for a three-day civil disobedience against the government lifting subsidies on fuel, electricity and drugs. Several opposition parties and rebel movements have declared support for the civil disobedience. Khartoum commissioner Ahmed Ali Abushanab confirmed the start of the civil disobedience in the capital, and warned against any attempts to destabilise the situation. Africa Review

Why Is the Ethiopian Diaspora So Influential?
[…] The ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has singled out social media as playing a key role in the latest unrest which broke out in November 2015 and which resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of damage across Oromia, the region where the protests began. But internet restrictions may have less to do with silencing Ethiopians at home than with stymieing influence from abroad where those in the diaspora energetically follow and respond to events. “The diaspora have the freedom to speak freely, assemble and organise under the constitutions and laws of the countries in which they reside,” says Alemante Selassie, emeritus professor at the William and Mary Law School in the US. “The diaspora can speak truth to power in ways that is not imaginable in their own homeland.”  BBC

Africa Should Benefit Most from New EU Development Vision
Africa stands to benefit more than other regions if the European Union’s (EU’s) second Consensus for Development, which it launched this week, succeeds in its aim of guiding the EU’s development work over the next decade. As a conceptual framework, it doesn’t go into the detail of who will get more of what. But the new development themes to which it will give greater prominence suggest that Africa will get more attention than other aid recipients. These themes include a greater focus on tackling extreme poverty and inequality, especially in the Least Developed States (about 70% of which are in Africa). It also puts more emphasis on tackling the root causes of migration – much of which is from Africa – and on youth. The report notes that the world population is projected to increase by 2.4 billion by 2050 – and 1.3 billion of those will be in Africa. ISS

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma Faces ANC Vote of No Confidence
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa is facing a vote of no confidence from the leaders of his own party, the ANC. He has survived several parliamentary votes but this is the first time the ANC will formally discuss his position. The top ANC body has extended its meeting to debate the motion, tabled by Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. Mr Zuma has increasingly come under criticism over corruption allegations, with a recent report highlighting his links with the wealthy Gupta family. BBC

South Africa: Concerns Expressed over Defence Corruption, State Capture in SA
Some exhibitors at the recent Aerospace and Defence expo (AAD) held at Waterkloof Air Force Base have expressed concern over the high rate of corruption they perceive in South African business and government circles. One of the anonymous sources said they were concerned at the increase in corruption in South African firms and indicated that they would watch trends closely until the next iteration of AAD, then they would decide whether to reduce their ties with certain SA companies or even start cutting back on doing business in SA. Corruption is on the increase in South Africa, according to Transparency International’s annual Transparency Index. Where low numbers mean less corruption and high numbers mean more, South Africa scored 42 four years ago, but in 2015 dropped to 44. DefenceWeb

Will Foreign Aid Get Cut on Trump’s Chopping Block?
Anxious humanitarian organizations are worried that President-elect Donald Trump, who sharply questioned the value of foreign aid during his campaign, is poised to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance for developing countries — including programs promoting democracy, family planning, LGBT rights and efforts to address climate change. Aid workers say many of the plans will come under close scrutiny and possibly be scrapped altogether. But the future of the nearly $34 billion annual budget proposed for foreign assistance next year remains a mystery after a campaign in which Trump made contradictory and vague comments about the role of international aid programs. Reinforcing the uncertainty, Trump’s transition team has so far failed to reach out to the U.S. Agency for International Development — the government body that oversees the delivery of most foreign aid — more than two weeks since the election. A USAID official told Foreign Policy that the aid agency “has not been contacted by the office of the president-elect” even though “we have appointed a team of USAID career staff to ensure this is done smoothly.” “Ensuring an orderly transition is a top priority for USAID,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Incoming administrations typically have a team ready to take over at USAID with detailed policy plans and lists of prospective appointees. But so far there has been no sign of that kind of preparation from Trump’s associates, administration officials said.  Foreign Policy

Al Jazeera Documentary on Egyptian Army Conscripts Provokes Outrage
A new documentary by the Qatar-owned Al Jazeera channel about Egyptian conscripts claiming to be mistreated while serving their compulsory military service has sparked outrage among Egyptians. The controversy began after the release of the promotional trailer for the film, where several people give their testimonies of their time as conscripts in the army, claiming ill-treatment and abuse by army officers. The trailer also showed a man in military uniform being assaulted by other officers and forced to do house work. The film “Conscripts” will be aired on  Al Jazeera’s Arabic channel and released on its YouTube channel on Sunday night. Al Araby

Angola: Fidel Castro’s Big African Adventure
Southern African leaders paid glowing tributes to the late revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, but if one country will forever be heavily indebted to his leadership of Cuba, it is Angola. Castro sent tens of thousands of troops when oil-giant Angola became embroiled in a proxy war between the United States and Russia who were vying for Cold War supremacy. Having gained independence from Portuguese colonial rule in 1975, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) government faced a civil war against the rival National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Castro supported the MPLA, which was fighting US- and apartheid-backed Unita. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones