Africa Media Review for November 7, 2018

Cameroon Kidnap: Bamenda Students Freed
The 79 students and three others were seized early on Sunday in the region’s capital, Bamenda. The school’s principal, the driver, and a teacher are still in captivity, the BBC’s Mayeni Jones reports. The government and separatists in the English-speaking region have been accusing each other of being behind the kidnapping. A video purportedly showing some of the kidnapped students from Bamenda’s Presbyterian Secondary School has been shared online, sparking outrage. An Anglophone separatist movement took up arms last year to demand independence for the North-West and South-West regions – the two English-speaking regions in a country where French is the most widely spoken official language. BBC

Madagascar Voters Go to the Polls to Elect New President
Voting started Wednesday in Madagascar where nearly 10 million are casting their ballots to elect a new president that they hope will lead this Indian Ocean island nation out of chronic poverty and corruption. The 36 candidates have all promised to improve the country’s economy, create new jobs and end graft, but the three leaders in the race are familiar faces who offer little chance of a dramatic change. The winner must take more than 50 percent of the votes cast and with such a large number of candidates, it is likely the race will go to a second round, scheduled for Dec. 19. Preliminary results are expected by Nov. 14 and officials have until Nov. 28 to declare the final outcome.  AP

U.N. Security Council Considers Lifting Eritrea Sanctions Next Week
The U.N. Security Council is considering lifting sanctions on Eritrea next week after a rapprochement with Ethiopia, although some members want to maintain some diplomatic pressure to ensure a dispute with Djibouti is resolved, diplomats said on Monday. A British-drafted resolution, seen by Reuters, proposes the immediate removal of an arms embargo and targeted sanctions – a travel ban and asset freeze – imposed on Eritrea. It also strongly encourages Eritrea and Djibouti to work towards normalizing ties and settling a decade-old border dispute. However, diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said France and some other council members were keen to maintain some sort of diplomatic pressure on Eritrea. Council members can propose changes to the text during negotiations on the draft resolution this week.  Reuters

Two Soldiers Killed in Burkina Blast
Two soldiers were killed and three were injured, two of them seriously, in a blast in northern Burkina Faso, the theatre of a jihadist insurgency, security sources said on Tuesday. Their vehicle triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) late on Monday on a road near Nassoumbou, near the Malian border, they said. The landlocked Sahel country has seen regular Islamist attacks since the start of 2015. The north and the east are the worst-hit areas, while the capital Ouagadougou has been attacked three times. In the last month, around two dozen members of the security forces have been killed, mainly by IEDs, according to an unofficial tally. AFP

Locals Accuse AU Troops after 4 Somali Civilians Killed
Witnesses accused African Union soldiers of having killed four civilians in the capital Mogadishu on Tuesday, after opening fire when their convoy was hit by a roadside bombing. Local people alleged that an armoured AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) convoy opened fire after being hit by improvised explosive devices (IED). The incident occurred in the Huriwa district in the north of the city. AMISOM said in a tweet that its convoy had “encountered double IED explosions in the Soqola area” – part of Huriwa district. But it made no mention of the shooting, which witnesses said involved Burundian members of the force. Dozens of angry demonstrators took to the streets of Huriwa, burning tyres and calling for the killers to be brought to justice. “These innocent victims have been killed by the Burundian soldiers without reason and we are asking the government to respond to this oppression,” said Mohamed Warsame, a relative of one of the victims. AFP

Amisom Develops Final Document for Exit Plan from Somalia
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has developed a document that will provide an effective framework for the gradual transition of security responsibilities to Somalia’s security institutions. A communique’ seen by The Standard and issued by Amisom Media Monitoring stated that Concept of Operations (CONOPs), which will guide AMISOM’s activities and operations for the 2018-2021 period, marks the final phase of the AU Mission’s transition and eventual exit from Somalia. ”The action-oriented document, once approved by the African Union and senior defence officials of troops-contributing countries, will mark yet another milestone in the Mission’s quest for a peaceful and democratic Somalia,” Amisom said. Standard Media

VP Igga Says Anti-Peace Elements Will Be Treated as Terrorists
South Sudan’s Vice President James Wani Igga says rebel groups fighting South Sudan’s government will be referred to as terrorists and be treated as such after the pre-transitional period is over in 8-months’ time. South Sudanese warring parties on 12 September signed a peace agreement aimed at ending the 5-year civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions. But a splinter group of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance that include Thomas Cirillo, leader of the National Salvation Front, PDM leader Hakim Dario, NDM spokesman Emmanuel Aban and UDRA leader Gatwech K. Thich did not sign the deal. James Wani Igga addressing a public rally at the Yei Freedom Square on Monday said that the parties to the revitalized peace agreement are committed to implementing the peace agreement. Radio Tamazuj

S. Sudan Peace Raises Prospect of Release of Child Soldiers
The U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for children and armed conflict says a chief benefit of peace in South Sudan is the likelihood that many child soldiers will be freed and reintegrated into their communities. Virginia Gamba was present during the Khartoum peace process in South Sudan three weeks ago and met with government officials and members of the warring factions. She also visited camps where she met and talked with child soldiers. She said her experiences convinced her that prospects for the separation and release of children were very high. So far this year, she said, 900 child soldiers have been freed. If the peace holds, it is possible that as many as 1,000 more children will be released by the end of the year, Gamba said. Once the children are released, she said, they must go through a process of integration, and that could be problematic. VOA

Mauritania President Replaces Top Military Brass
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Tuesday issued a presidential decree making significant changes in the country’s military hierarchy. In a statement broadcast on state media, the Mauritanian presidency announced the appointment of Lieutenant-General Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed Lemine as new army chief-of-staff; Major-General Isselkou Cheikh al-Wely as the latter’s assistant; Colonel Ahmed Said ben Aouf as naval commander; and Major-General Habouboullah Nahah Ahmedou as inspector-general of the armed forces. The changes come only one week after Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mohamed al-Ghazouani, a former army chief-of-staff, was appointed defense minister in the country’s new cabinet lineup. Last week, President Ould Abdel Aziz tasked Mohamed Salem Ould al-Bashir — who recently succeeded outgoing PM Yahya Ould Hademine — to draw up a new government. Anadolu Agency

Seventeen Migrants Perish Crossing from Africa to Spain: Spanish Coast Guard
At least 17 migrants died in the space of 24 hours while trying to cross the sea from North Africa to Spain, and rescuers picked up more than 100 others, the Spanish coast guard said on Monday. Two rafts were found in the Western Mediterranean between the Iberian peninsula and Morocco and Algeria with 80 people aboard, and 13 dead. They were taken to the Spanish North African enclave of Melilla, the coast guard said. The coast guard also found four bodies and rescued 22 men in the Atlantic off the southern Spanish city of Cadiz. Spain has now become the main destination for undocumented migrants and refugees from Africa and the Middle East trying to reach Europe.  Reuters

King of Morocco Wants to Overcome Differences, Normalize Relations with Algeria
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI stated that he wants to establish a joint committee with Algeria to discuss outstanding disputes, including closed borders. The king made the remarks during a speech on Tuesday on the anniversary of the Green March, which is when a mass demonstration took place in Morocco to force Spain to hand over the disputed Spanish Sahara province. “Rabat is ready for direct and frank dialogue with brotherly Algeria to overcome the situational and objective differences that hinder the development of relations between the two countries,” King Mohammed VI said. He added that Morocco is open to proposals and initiatives from Algeria in order to overcome the stalemate in relations. He also called for the opening of the border between the two countries which has been closed since 1994, and the normalization of relations.   Al Arabiya

DR Congo’s Opposition Will Meet in Geneva to Name Joint Candidate
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) opposition leaders have agreed to meet in Geneva to choose a joint candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. The elections, to take place on December 23, are critical for the future of the DRC, a state that has never experienced a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. “All opposition heads will gather in Switzerland on Thursday to attend a meeting to designate a joint candidate,” one of the challengers, Freddy Matungulu, told AFP news agency on Tuesday. “The public has high expectations. We, as a group, cannot make any claim on winning the presidential election unless we act together,” he said. Al Jazeera

‘Brutal and Rampant’ Torture and Rape Used to Crush Political Dissent in Democratic Republic of Congo, Report Warns
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are using “brutal and rampant torture” and sexual abuse to silence political dissent, a human rights report has warned. Ordinary citizens were subject to sexual torture, burning and electric shocks and were forced to witness the torture and killing of others, the Freedom from Torture report said. “The kinds of torture we are looking at are truly horrific,” Steve Crawshaw, policy and advocacy director at Freedom from Torture, told The Independent. “It is quite extraordinary that uniformed guards can feel it is acceptable to do this and for it to go on without punishment.”  The Independent

Senior Sudanese Official to Visit Eritrea Soon for Normalization Talks: Sources
The Sudanese Presidential Assistant Faisal Hassan Ibrahim would visit Asmara soon to discuss normalization of bilateral relations between Sudan and Eritrea, an informed source told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday. In January 2018, Sudan accused Eritrea of supporting rebel groups and closed the border after the deployment of thousands of troops. Four months later, Asmara accused Sudan, Ethiopia and Qatar of supporting armed opposition groups to overthrow President Isaias Afewerki’s government. But in July, Ethiopia and Eritrea reconciled and normalized relations between the two neighbouring countries. Sudan Tribune

Charity: Thousands Hiding in Central African Republic Hospital Risk Attack
Some 5,000 people seeking refuge in a hospital in Central African Republic (CAR) risk being attacked by armed groups, a medical charity said Tuesday, amid ongoing clashes. About 10,000 people ran to the hospital in Batangafo, some 400 km (250 miles) north of the capital Bangui, last week, after armed groups looted and burned thousands of homes, three camps hosting 27,000 displaced and a market in the city. Half of those camped out in the hospital grounds have since joined others hiding in the bush or other villages, Omar Ahmed Abenza, head of mission for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in CAR, told Reuters from Bangui. “People don’t feel safe anywhere in the city,” he said, adding that MSF staff working in the town regularly heard gunshots and grenades in and around Batangafo.  VOA

President and Predecessor Feud in Proudly Stable Botswana
Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi has used his first state-of-the-nation address to openly attack his predecessor Ian Khama in an unprecedented clash in a nation that prides itself on stability. Masisi, who was hand-picked by Khama, took power in April when Khama stepped aside after serving the maximum 10 years in office. But the two men have since fallen out in a public spat that threatens to undermine Botswana’s carefully-crafted reputation for stable government. “Batswana are all aware that the transition from the previous administration has not been as smooth as expected,” Masisi said in a keynote address to parliament on Monday, using the term for the people of Botswana. He said he had tried to “smoothen the process” by appointing senior politicians to negotiate with Khama. AFP

Diane Rwigara Defiant as Treason Trial Looms
Rwanda is “like a prison” with Paul Kagame its imperious warden, according to Diane Rwigara, a young politician who sought to challenge for the presidency and whose treason trial begins Wednesday. The 37-year-old, who was released on bail in October, struck a defiant tone speaking to AFP ahead of her trial for treason, insurrection and forgery. “I just came out of a prison but my country still feels like a prison. And the prison guard is none other than the ruling party… dictating to us how to live, what to do and what to say,” she said in an interview at her home in the capital Kigali. “I was not surprised by my arrest. I was kind of expecting it because of what I was doing in the country: if you dare criticise the government that is what happens, you get arrested, imprisoned or lose your life. I expected some form of retaliation.”  AFP

France Addresses Painful History of African WWI Troops
Is France guilty of “amnesia” when it comes to the role of African troops who fought in World War I? The organisers of an exhibition on colonial fighters near Paris think so. A collection of photos has been shown since mid-October in the town hall of Bondy, a multiracial suburb of the French capital best known as the home of French football star Kylian Mbappé. Many people in the area trace their roots back to the countries which provided hundreds of thousands of men for France’s wartime struggle: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mali or Morocco. “We’re stunned by the reactions which are like, ‘We had no idea about this’,” Naima Yahi, a historian and director of Remembeur, the NGO behind the show whose name plays on the French slang for someone of North African descent.  AFP



Photo: Adam Jones