Africa Media Review for November 30, 2016

Rwanda Opens Probe Into Role of French Officials in Genocide
Rwanda on Tuesday opened a formal probe into 20 French officials suspected of playing a role in the 1994 genocide which left some 800,000 dead, the prosecutor general said. “The inquiry, for now, is focused on 20 individuals whom, according to information gathered so far, are required by the prosecution authority to explain or provide clarity on allegations against them,” said a statement by prosecutor general Richard Muhumuza. This will enable prosecutors to decide “whether the concerned individuals should be formally charged or not.” Muhumuza said the relevant French authorities had been contacted and that full cooperation was expected. France 24

Burundi Says Rwanda Behind Failed Assassination of Nkurunziza’s Spokesperson
Burundi’s frosty relationship with its neighbour, Rwanda; has been rekindled following the foiled assassination attempt on President Nkurunziza’s spokesperson, Willy Nyamitwe. Mr Nyamitwe escaped the assassination attempt of Monday night but he was wounded. Burundi’s police spokesman Pierre Nkurukiye said the instructions and plan were passed from the Rwandan capital, Kigali, to someone within the military. The police disclosed further that they had known about the plot for some time and had already arrested a colonel and corporal. Another corporal was arrested on Tuesday morning during an investigation into the shooting. Bujumbura has repeatedly accused Kigali of being behind the country’s current political strife. Nyamitwe in October made a presentation to the effect that Rwanda was largely responsible for the chaos and instability in Burundi.  Africa News

Uganda:149 Alleged Rebels Arrested after Assault on Palace
Uganda’s government says 149 people have been arrested in a restive region near Democratic Republic of Congo where clashes with a tribal militia have killed at least 62 people. Most of those killed are guards who protected a traditional monarch accused of harboring rebels in the western Kasese district. The king, Charles Wesley Mumbere of the Kingdom of Rwenzururu, is now in detention after his palace was assaulted by the military on Sunday. Interior Minister Jeje Odongo told reporters on Tuesday that weapons, including automatic guns, were seized at the palace. News 24

Uganda Rwenzururu: King Charles Mumbere Charged with Murder
The king of a region in Uganda has been charged with murder after clashes with security forces over the weekend in which at least 87 people were killed. Charles Mumbere was detained after government forces raided his palace in the Rwenzururu region on Saturday. The authorities accuse him of launching a secessionist movement to create a new state, to be called Yiira. The murder charges relate to the killing of a police officer in March, not to the unrest over the weekend. King Charles has denied any involvement in the violence. BBC

The End-of-year Reports Are in for Nigeria’s President Buhari—and They’re All Bad
Nearing the end of his first full calendar year in office, Nigeria’s president Buhari is coming in for strong criticism. In the space of a week, several international media outlets have published scathing reports on Buhari’s handling of the economy and general tenure as president. In fairness, some allow that Buhari faced an uphill task upon taking office. The Financial Times says the president inherited “dire straits” while Bloomberg also acknowledged “Buhari faced ugly circumstances” when he became president. But it is the president’s response to the economic crisis which has been heavily criticized. AFP, the French news agency, writes that the president’s ineffective policies have lead many to believe he “doesn’t have what it takes to rescue Nigeria from recession.” The criticism from international media for Buhari is noteworthy as, since taking office, Buhari has shown a preference to speak with foreign media over local reporters, perhaps with a view to reach much needed global investors. Yet, plenty of the criticism aimed at the president is linked to policies which have seen the economy slip into a first recession in decades and is now on course for a full year of negative growth.  Quartz

30,000 Nigerian Refugees Return From Niger, Cameroon
About 29,581 Nigerians who fled their communities in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa State as a result of the Boko Haram activities to Republic of Niger and Cameroun have voluntarily returned. This was contained in a published report of humanitarian relief intervention by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) which was released recently. The report according to a statement by the Head, Media and Public Relations, NEMA, Sani Datti, said13,046 Nigerian returnees from Niger Republic in May, 2015 were received in Geidam, Yobe State, while between April and December 2015, NEMA received about 16,595 Nigerians who had voluntarily returned from Cameroun through the Sahuda border crossing area near Mubi, Adamawa State. allAfrica

Gambia election: President Yahya Jammeh ‘Will Never Pardon’ Opposition
The Gambia’s President, Yahya Jammeh, has said he will “never pardon” opposition activists who are in prison. He was speaking ahead of Thursday’s presidential election. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch accused the president of silencing critics ahead of the election. Umaru Fofana reports. BBC

Egypt Passes New Law Clamping Down on Rights Groups
The Egyptian parliament on Tuesday approved a new law regulating non-governmental organizations that gives security agencies extensive power over the financing and activities of NGOs and rights groups. Rights organizations condemned the law as one of Egypt’s most repressive ever on civil society, saying it would effectively shut down many such groups. Supporters of the bill called it a necessary regulation to protect the country’s security, but critics said it was part of a widening crackdown on dissent under the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Under the law, which must still be ratified by the president, those that violate administrative rules governing such groups could face up to five years in prison and heavy fines of up to 1 million Egyptian pounds (around $55,000). Under the rules, groups must get state permission to receive foreign funding or local donations of more than 10,000 pounds (about $550) or even relocate headquarters or carry out research and surveys. AP on ABC News

Egypt Denies Sending Military Troops to Syria after Al-Sisi Explicitly Supports Al-Assad
Presidential and military sources in Egypt denied sending military troops to Syria to fight alongside the Syrian army, affiliated to Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. These denials came in response to a report published in Lebanese newspaper As-Safir on Thursday, saying that a military troop including 18 military pilots were sent to Syria. However, the newspaper said it wasn’t confirmed whether they participated in the airstrikes or not. Qassem Al-Khatib, a member in the National Coalition of the Syrian Opposition, told Daily News Egypt that Egypt had not sent any military troops to Syria, adding that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi had said during an interview that Egypt supports the will of the Syrian people and the military that fights terrorists, and not the one that kills civilians. Daily News Egypt

South Africa’s ANC Backs Zuma after Calls for Him to Quit
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress said on Tuesday its executive committee had stood by President Jacob Zuma in a debate called after media reported that four ministers had demanded his resgination. The ANC denied media reports that there had been a formal no-confidence vote in the debate which ended on Monday night. The rand fell by as much as 2.5 percent against the dollar and bonds weakened as traders had hoped for a resolution to months of political uncertainty in Africa’s most industrialised economy. Since taking office in 2009, Zuma, 74, has survived several corruption scandals with the backing of senior ANC officials. “The NEC did not support the call for the president to step down,” ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told a news conference. “This issue was debated openly, robustly and, as we said, sometimes it was very difficult for members themselves.” Reuters

Libyan Commander Visits Russia to Ask for Help Fighting Islamists
Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar, the dominant figure in the divided country’s east, met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday and said he was seeking Moscow’s help in his fight against Islamist militants at home. Haftar, on his second visit to Moscow since the summer, requested military support from the Kremlin in September, according to Russian media. It was unclear on Tuesday if such help would be forthcoming. “Our relations are crucial, our goal today is to give life to these relations,” the TASS news agency quoted Haftar as saying at the start of talks with Lavrov. “We hope we will eliminate terrorism with your help in the nearest future.” Libya splintered into rival political and armed groupings after the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and remains deeply divided between factions based in the east and west that back rival governments and parliaments. Reuters

Land Grabbing Blamed for Ethnic Tensions in South Sudan
Rampant land grabbing is fuelling ethnic strife in South Sudan’s Equatoria State, an official has said. The National Land Commission Coordinator, Mr Butrus Apollo, said in Juba Tuesday that the situation could turn tragic if not addressed. Mr Apollo said some disgruntled politicians were using the land grabbing issue to foment turmoil as they pursued their personal interests. He noted the the matter was difficult to address without a policy or clear laws on the roles of the various land institutions in place. “Unfortunately, we don’t have a land policy in place….that is the major reason. In 2009, a Land Act was passed into law, but it is not enough,” he said. The East African

Scandal: How Ugandan University Awarded 1,000 Degrees  to South Sudanese  in Two Months
Another Ugandan university is caught up in an academic fraud scandal that is also threatening to engulf Kampala’s diplomatic ties with several countries whose nationals were irregularly admitted and awarded degrees. The East African has obtained copies of licence documents and correspondence between whistleblowers, the education attaché at the South Sudan embassy and Uganda’s National Council of Higher Education (NCHE), raising questions over the manner in which more than 1,000 South Sudanese were admitted to Busoga University and went on to graduate in a space of two months. The NCHE has now opened investigations into this matter after Lual Akol Nhial, the South Sudan education attaché asked the body to review the admission of these students — most of whom are government officials and generals in the army — to analyse their continuous semester results, coursework and assignments and tuition fee payments of the past three years. The East African

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir Says Dealing With Donald Trump Will Be ‘Much Easier’
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, voiced his support Tuesday for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, saying dealing with him will be “much easier”. Trump “focuses on the interests of the American citizen, as opposed to those who talk about democracy, human rights and transparency”, al-Bashir said in an interview published by Emirati daily al-Khaleej. “I am convinced that it will be much easier to deal with Trump than with others because he is a straightforward person and a businessman who considers the interests of those who deal with him,” said al-Bashir said, adding that “we can deal with double-faced people but here we have a person with a clear line.” Time

Sudan Bans 3 More Dailies Reporting on General Strike
Sudanese authorities have banned three more newspapers, seizing all copies ahead of distribution as a general strike against fuel subsidy cuts and price hikes continued for the third day. The independent dailies banned on Tuesday include the Al-Ayam, Sudan’s oldest newspaper, as well as Al-Tayar and Al-Youm al-Tali. The move brings to four the number of newspapers banned since on Monday, when authorities shuttered the daily Al-Jareeda. The privately-owned Omdurman TV network was also closed on Monday. News 24

Refugees, Migrants from Horn of Africa Flee to War-Torn Yemen
The U.N. refugee agency reports thousands of refugees from the Horn of Africa, desperate to escape difficult conditions at home, continue to make the perilous journey across the Gulf of Aden to war-torn Yemen, despite the risks. At least 79 people have been reported dead or missing at sea this year. The U.N. refugee agency reports nearly 106,000 people, mostly from Ethiopia and Somalia, have risked their lives on the high seas to reach Yemen so far this year. This is 13,000 more than all of 2015. The UNHCR says many of them embark from coastal towns in Somalia and Djibouti and that they are ill-informed about the worsening conflict and deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Yemen. The agency says it plans to launch a regional information campaign in December to try to prevent the refugees and migrants from attempting the treacherous crossing. VOA

Tunisia Wins Billion-dollar Pledges for Ailing Economy
Qatar and France promised more than a billion dollars in financial support for Tunisia at an investment conference on Tuesday aimed at reviving the country’s struggling economy. Nearly six years after its Arab Spring revolution, Tunisia hopes the meeting will help it confront challenges including high unemployment, low growth and a tourism sector hammered by jihadist attacks. The two-day “Tunisia 2020” conference aims to put the North African nation “back on the investment map of the Mediterranean”, officials said. Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani pledged $1.25bln in financial support at the opening session. News 24

Somalia’s Presidential Election Is Postponed Again. What Now?
[…] The renewed delay raises a number of fears,” Keating said back then. “Let me name just two: that the process is being politically manipulated, and that this delay may only be one of yet further rolling delays.’” Clearly, those fears were not unfounded. September’s delay was blamed on security concerns,   specifically, on al-Shabab, which has increased attacks in particular parts of Somalia, including the capital Mogadishu. (The United States government recently empowered itself to make “collective self-defense” strikes in Somalia against Shabab). These security concerns were also, at least in part, the stated reason that legislators, and not Somali citizens, were charged with electing the president. And so Somalia is left not only with rampant security concerns, but also by corruption so pervasive that it could believably be the reason for postponing presidential elections and an electoral body that at least one U.N. special representative seems to distrust. But there is at least one person who benefits from the perpetual postponement: Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who is up for reelection. Foreign Policy

Sound of Silence –The Dark Art of Quieting a Country
In October of this year, the Ethiopian authorities declared a nationwide state of emergency. They have subsequently blocked a number of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp, while mobile phone carriers have ceased offering data packages – all to quell an uprising that has existential implications for the federation. As Zuma tightens his grip on the Security Cluster, we have to ask: are you listening to the deadly silence coming out of the north, David Mahlobo? Daily Maverick

Resignations over Lesotho Coalition Government Differences
Another Minister from Lesotho Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s party Democratic Congress says has resigned following the National Executive Comittee decision to withdraw the party from the governing coalition. This brings the total number of ministers and deputies that have resigned to six. Meanwhile Mosisili and deputy leader Monyane Moleleki whose factions have each filed court applications against each other, have to wait until Thursday to find out who will be in charge of the party. Mokoto Hloaele Minister of Development Planning has written a letter to the Prime Minister thanking him for the opportunity to reflect following their meeting of 14 November 2016, but says he has decided to resign as a Minister. SABC

Foreign Firms Hit by Tax Demands Rethink Tanzanian Expansion
Some of Tanzania’s biggest foreign investors say they could scale back their operations or expansion plans because of tougher demands placed on companies, including higher tax bills, as part of the president’s drive to overhaul the economy. At least six companies are rethinking their business and investment plans, according to Reuters interviews with senior executives at a dozen of the biggest foreign firms operating in Tanzania, or their local arms, in sectors including mining, telecoms and shipping. Three said they could scale back operations in the East African nation, two said they planned to expand in other countries on the continent instead, while one said it was in the process of withdrawing from Tanzania altogether. The Africa Report



Photo: Adam Jones