Africa Media Review for November 6, 2017

U.S. Carries out First Airstrikes against Islamic State in Somalia
The U.S. military for the first time has conducted two airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Somalia, where the extremists are a growing presence in a country long threatened by the Al Qaeda-linked Shabab. The U.S. Africa Command said the two drone strikes killed “several terrorists” in northeastern Somalia, the first around midnight local time and the second Friday morning. The strikes were carried out in coordination with Somalia’s government, the statement said. Local officials confirmed the airstrikes. At least six missiles struck Buqa, a mountainous village roughly 37 miles north of Qandala town in the northern state of Puntland, a Somali security official told the Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. AP

Somali Pro-IS Group Chief Survives US Strike, Says Regional Leader
The leader of the Pro-Islamic State group in Somalia has survived U.S. airstrikes which targeted caves in a remote mountainous area in Puntland, the region’s president told VOA Somali. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said the leader of the group, Sheikh Abdulkadir Mumin, was the target of Friday’s U.S. strike. “They [US] were targeting those troublemakers and their biggest leader Abdulkadir Mumin, they were looking for them,” he said. “Based on the information I’m getting he is still alive and is not dead.” Ali said the U.S. did not share intelligence with his region but assessment is based on information from his region’s intelligence agencies. VOA

US Orders Staffers to Leave Somalia Over ‘Specific Threat’
The United States has ordered all non-essential employees of its mission to Somalia to leave the capital, Mogadishu, citing “specific threat information” against them. The statement issued Saturday by the U.S. State Department relates the threat information to Mogadishu International Airport, protected by African Union Troops and run by a Turkish firm. “Due to specific threat information against U.S. personnel on the Mogadishu International Airport, the U.S. Mission to Somalia has directed its non-essential U.S. citizen employees to depart Mogadishu until further notice,” said the statement. It also urged U.S. citizens who decide to remain in Somalia to be vigilant. VOA

Congo Sets Presidential Election for December 2018
Congo’s electoral commission announced on Sunday that long-awaited presidential elections to replace President Joseph Kabila would take place on December 23, 2018. Around 43 million voters have been registered for the vote so far, Corneille Nangaa told a news conference in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa. The election will be held on December 23, 2018, with the results to be published on January 9, 2019, and the president to be sworn in on January 13, another official from the Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), Jean Pierre Kalamba, told the same news conference. Reuters

Renegade Colonel Surrenders in Eastern Congo after Clashes, 7 Dead
Clashes between Congolese troops and supporters of a renegade colonel in Congo’s eastern city of Bukavu killed seven people on Sunday before he surrendered and turned himself in to U.N. peacekeepers, the army said. Democratic Republic of Congo army spokesman for South Kivu province, Dieudonne Kasereka, said clashes had started after police came to disarm Colonel Abbas Kayonga, who was sacked on Thursday from his post overseeing anti-fraud efforts in local mines. Kayonga, a former rebel from a group that had been disarmed and integrated into the Congolese military, gave himself up at the local base for the U.N. mission to Congo. “He has just surrendered with 17 people at the base of the mission,” Kasereka said by telephone. Two army soldiers and three of Kanyonga’s bodyguards were killed in the fighting and two civilians were killed by stray bullets, he said. Reuters

Niger Allows U.S. to Deploy Armed Drones Against Militants
Niger permitted the U.S. to use armed drones in the fight against Islamist militants in the West African nation, Agence France-Presse reported, citing Defense Minister Kalla Moutari. Drone strikes will be a “decisive and key response” to highly armed combatants in the Sahel region, Moutari was quoted as saying on state-owned radio. The U.S. currently deploys unmanned surveillance craft in Niger, which has previously been reluctant to allow the use of armed drones. While Niger doesn’t have known jihadist groups in its territory, it’s increasingly affected by the spread of Islamist militancy in West Africa. Four U.S. troops and five Nigerian soldiers died on Oct. 4 when their convoy in the Tillabery region was ambushed. Bloomberg

Deaths of Four U.S. Soldiers in Niger Hint at the Shadow War against ISIS in Africa
Less than a year ago, the Islamic State’s ambitions in Africa seemed all but shattered. In Libya, militias assisted by U.S. Special Operations soldiers and airstrikes drove the militants from their stronghold in the city of Sirte. Hundreds of Islamic State fighters died. Others fled south toward desert hideouts. “There were no more black flags,” recalled Claudia Gazzini, a senior Libya analyst for the International Crisis Group, describing the situation when she visited southern Libya after the militant group’s defeat in December. But many highly trained Islamic State fighters crossed into the vast ungoverned areas of impoverished Niger, according to regional security officials and analysts. Some then flowed to zones where militants were active in Mali, Nigeria and other countries. The fighters have helped inject new energy into a spreading Islamist militancy, creating fresh challenges for U.S. forces in the region. The Washington Post

Tension in South Sudan Capital after Bid to Disarm Detained Ex-Army Chief
South Sudan’s government has sought to disarm the bodyguards of detained former army chief Paul Malong on fears he might escape and launch a rebellion, his wife said on Saturday, highlighting tensions within the leadership. Malong – the man who has led President Salva Kiir’s campaign against rebels – has been under house arrest since May after Kiir sacked him following a string of military resignations by senior generals alleging abuses and ethnic bias. Malong had initially fled the capital Juba with a convoy of vehicles for his home state of Aweil following his dismissal – raising fears he might join opposition forces, before returning to the capital. On Saturday, his wife Lucy Ayak told Reuters security officials arrived at their home late on Friday with “specific orders” from Kiir. Reuters

Mugabe Set to Appoint Woman Deputy, All Eyes on Wife
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe is set to appoint a woman deputy after a special ruling party congress next month, the first lady said on Saturday and added that there was nothing wrong if her husband appointed her. The 93-year-old Mugabe has held power in the southern African nation since independence from Britain in 1980 and consistently refused to anoint a successor. He argues that the ruling ZANU-PF party would choose his replacement if and when he decides to retire. Grace Mugabe told a ZANU-PF rally in the second city of Bulawayo that the party would amend its constitution this month and the changes would be adopted at a special December congress to ensure that one of Mugabe’s two deputies would be a woman. Reuters

Egypt Summons Western Ambassadors over Rights Comments
Egypt has summoned the ambassadors of Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Britain in protest over a statement they made expressing concern over the fate of a detained human rights lawyer. The move Sunday came after the countries issued a rare public statement Friday regarding the case of Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, who focused on the issue of forced disappearances and was himself arrested in secret on Sept. 10 at Cairo Airport on his way to a U.N. meeting on the topic. In its statement, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry called the statement “unacceptable,” saying it was an outright intervention in its internal affairs and judiciary. Authorities later acknowledged Hegazy’s detention, and he remains in custody on charges of “spreading false news.” His son disappeared at an Islamist protest in 2013. AP

Nigerian Troops Kill `Large Number’ of Boko Haram in Ambush
Nigerian forces ambushed Boko Haram militants attempting to cross into the Sambisa forest in Northern Borno State on Friday, killing a “large number” of them, the military said. Some of the insurgents escaped with gunshot wounds while the troops rescued a 6-year-old boy and recovered items including uniforms and cutlasses, army spokesman Sani Usman said in an emailed statement. The militants had ambushed soldiers escorting civilians from Banki to Maiduguri in Borno State, killing four civilians and injuring 14 people including six soldiers, the Nigerian army said last week. Bloomberg

Kenya Election Law Amendment Takes Effect
A controversial bill amending Kenya’s election law has come into effect, which makes it more difficult for the Supreme Court to annul elections. Uhuru Kenyatta won last week’s re-run of the election, after the Supreme Court declared August’s poll invalid. President Kenyatta said on Monday that he did not agree with the new election law, however he did not send it back to parliament. Opposition leader Raila Odinga pulled out of the re-run, calling it a “sham”. BBC

Ethiopia Billionaire Mohammad Al-Amoudi among Those Arrested by Saudi Arabia
Ethiopia born Mohammad al-Amoudi, one of the richest persons in the world is among those detained by Saudi Arabia, learned. He is among the several high profile princes, ministers and businessmen that were arrested over an alleged corruption. The sweeping campaign of arrests appears to be the latest move to consolidate the power of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the favorite son and top adviser of King Salman. It is not clear why and how Mohammad al-Amoudi ended up in the dragnet. According to Forbes magazine, Al Amoudi is the second richest person in Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia’s richest person. He is a controversial figure in Ethiopia where critics accuse him of being supportive of an authoritarian government, while supporters say his vast investment in his birth country have created job opportunities for many.  His business interest span the globe from an oil refinery in Morocco to Sweden. Nazret

Niger Delta Avengers Calls off Ceasefire with Nigerian Govt
The Niger Delta Avengers, a group of militants that struck oil installations in Niger Delta region last year, has announced an immediate end to its ceasefire with the Nigerian government. In a statement posted on its website Friday afternoon, the group said it would resume hostilities any day from now, saying the Buhari administration has not been sincere with its peace talks and promises for the Niger Delta. The group also condemned a former top militant in the region, Government Ekpemupolo, a.k.a. Tompolo, saying he had failed to live up to his leadership roles for those who seek absolute “emancipation” for the region. The statement was signed by the group’s spokesperson, named Mudoch Agbinibo, who also announced a string of successful attacks on oil and gas facilities that sent major international oil firms like Shell and Chevron deferring activities last year. Premium Times

At Least “800,000 Firms in Nigeria Have Never Paid Taxes”
More than 800,000 companies in Nigeria, including government contractors, have never paid any taxes, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun has revealed. In a statement, she also said that only 14 million Nigerians, out of an economically active base of 70 million, paid taxes. Of the 14 million, more than 95% were salary earners in the formal sector, but only 241 people paid personal income taxes amounting to about $65,500 (£50,000) in 2016, Ms Adeosun said. There was “systematic tax evasion at all levels”, and the government planned to step up efforts to increase tax collection, she added. Daily Times Nigeria

Red Cross: $6 Million for Ebola Fight Stolen through Fraud
Fraud by Red Cross workers and others wasted at least $6 million meant to fight the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the organization confirmed Saturday. The revelations follow an internal investigation of how the organization handled more than $124 million during the 2014-2016 epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The disease erupted in Guinea and quickly spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia. The international aid response was initially slow, and money once it arrived was often disbursed quickly in the rush to purchase supplies and get aid workers into the field. As much as $2.13 million disappeared as the result of “likely collusion” between Red Cross staff and employees at a Sierra Leonean bank, the investigation found. It is believed that the money was lost when they improperly fixed the exchange rate at the height of the epidemic. ABC News

Burundi Orders Unmarried Couples to Wed by End of 2017
Unmarried couples in the East African country of Burundi have until the end of the year to legalise their relationships through church or state registrations. In May, President Pierre Nkurunziza signed a new law which the government says will help protect women and create a more moral society, but some disagree. The government insists a legal document recognising a marriage helps protect women and their children, especially when it comes to issues such as inheritance. However, others say the new marriage law infringes on people’s religious beliefs, customs and practices. Al Jazeera

Revealed: Glencore’s Secret Loan to Secure DRC Mining Rights
The world’s largest mining company, Glencore, secretly loaned tens of millions of dollars to an Israeli billionaire after it enlisted him to secure a controversial mining agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Paradise Papers reveal. The documents show in forensic detail how the mining magnate Dan Gertler held Glencore’s imprimatur as key negotiator with DRC authorities. The Paradise Papers, a leaked cache of documents including more than 6m from within Appleby, one of the world’s leading and most secretive offshore law firms, lay bare the arcane multi-jurisdictional dealings of Glencore, a scandal-plagued Swiss multinational with mining interests across the globe, but particularly in Africa. The Guardian

Smuggled, Beaten and Drugged: The Illicit Global Ape Trade
[…] Ape trafficking is a little-known corner of the illicit wildlife trade, a global criminal enterprise that hauls in billions of dollars. But unlike the thriving business in elephant ivory, rhino horns, tiger bone wine or pangolin scales, ape smuggling involves live animals — some of the most endangered, intelligent and sensitive animals on Earth. Mr. Stiles, 72, grew intrigued by apes decades ago as a graduate student in anthropology. Since then, he has plunged deeper and deeper into the ape world, becoming the lead author of “Stolen Apes,” a report published by the United Nations in 2013 that was considered one of the first comprehensive attempts to document the underground ape trade. He and the other researchers estimated that the smuggling had claimed more than 22,000 apes — either trafficked or killed. Malnourished and terrified apes have been seized across the world, in undercover busts or at border checkpoints, in countries as varied as France, Nepal, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kuwait. Two years ago, at Cairo’s international airport, the Egyptian authorities discovered a baby chimp curled up into a ball and stashed in a piece of hand luggage. The New York Times