Africa Media Review for November 8, 2019

Burundi’s Main Opposition Party Says About 200 Members Detained
Burundi’s opposition National Congress for Freedom party said security agencies are holding about 200 of its leaders and members amid escalating violence ahead of elections next year. Vandals destroyed party headquarters and 50 of its offices across the East African nation, according to Simeon Bizimungu, secretary general for the party known by the French acronym CNL and led by former rebel leader Agathon Rwasa. In the past few days party officials around the country have been arrested arbitrarily, beaten and even killed, he said in an interview without giving details. Last weekend, three people were killed by armed men in a bar in the commercial capital Bujumbura, police spokesman Moise Nkurunziza said Sunday on national radio. An opposition official was shot dead on Tuesday in the northern Kayanza Province by unknown people, banned civil society organization FORSC Burundi said on Twitter. Bloomberg

South Sudan President, Ex-Rebel Leader Agree to Delay Unity Government: Uganda

South Sudan’s president and a former rebel leader agreed on Thursday to delay forming a unity government for 100 days beyond the Nov. 12 deadline, Uganda’s presidency said, buying time after concerns that war could resume if the two sides were pushed. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar met in Uganda in a last-ditch effort to resolve outstanding disputes that were preventing the formation of a coalition government in time for the deadline. Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal in September 2018, under pressure from the United Nations, United States and regional governments to end a five-year civil war that devastated the world’s youngest country. Both sides blame each other for not meeting milestones stipulated by the peace deal, especially the integration of different fighting forces. Reuters

Mauritius Starts Counting Votes after Parliamentary Election

Mauritius electoral authorities began counting votes on Friday after a parliamentary election dominated by calls for a fairer distribution of wealth on the prosperous Indian Ocean island. The election, which will decide who runs the government for the next five years, was the first since Pravind Kumar Jugnauth succeeded his father in 2017 as prime minister when the elder Jugnauth stepped down. Both the ruling Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and its main rivals the Labour Party and the Mauritian Militant Movement(MMM) campaigned on strengthening the welfare state and on distributing wealth more equally in one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous economies. Results were expected later on Friday evening, Electoral Commissioner Irfan Rahman said. Some 723,660 voters, 76.84 percent of those eligible, turned out for the ballot, electoral officials said. The turnout was 2% higher than in the last election. Reuters

Fresh Protests Held in Tense Guinea Capital

Thousands of Guinean protesters took to the streets in the capital Conakry Thursday, in fresh demonstrations days after deadly clashes marred a funeral march for those killed in recent anti-government marches. The poor West African country has been shaken by deadly clashes during weeks of protest over suspicions that President Alpha Conde is seeking to prolong his rule. Demonstrators on Thursday vowed to march peacefully and demanded the release of government critics imprisoned since the beginning of the anti-government unrest. Tensions in the capital are high just days after the deaths of three youths, who the opposition says were shot by the security services as they attended a funeral march for 11 people killed in unrest since mid-October. … Conde has blamed the protesters for the gunfire and accused the opposition of trying to overthrow the government. AFP

Ten Nigerian Troops Killed in Jihadist Ambush: Military Sources

At least 10 Nigerian soldiers have been killed and nine severely injured in an ambush by jihadists in restive northeast Nigeria, military sources said on Thursday. Another 12 soldiers were missing after a column of troops on patrol was ambushed by the fighters on Wednesday in Damboa district of Borno state, a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. Fighters loyal to the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the killings, but said they had slain 22 soldiers after an assault by the army. … The troops came under attack while returning to their base in Damboa, 88km from the state capital Maiduguri, said a second military officer who gave the same casualty toll. Soldiers were forced to withdraw after an hour-long battle in which nine jihadists were also killed, said the second source. The source said militants burnt five military vehicles and took away a pickup truck along with six machine guns. AFP

1.2 Million Civilians Trapped in Nigerian Territories Controlled by Boko Haram – UN

About 1.2 million civilians are trapped and have been denied access to humanitarian aid and services in two local government areas now largely under the control of Boko Haram, Edward Kallon, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said. Mr Kallon also revealed that humanitarian workers have, in the past 18 months, become major targets of the insurgents. Delivering a keynote address at the ongoing International Civil-security summit in Maiduguri, the top UN official in Nigeria said the situation on the ground in the Northeast does not “give room for fiction.” Noting that the decade-old Boko Haram crisis has claimed the lives of over 35,000 people in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states, Mr Kallon stressed the urgent need for improved civil-military relationship in the ongoing war against insurgency. … Mr Kallon also commended the military for reducing the space of the Boko Haram crisis from six states to three. … Mr Kallon further noted that the crisis in Nigeria calls for more local and global support for humanitarian workers. Premium Times

Gulf of Guinea: He Was Hijacked by Pirates – and Then Mistaken for One

Gideon Osanebi, captain of the MV Charis, has been sailing the high seas for 32 years – longer than his second officer, Boris Oyebanji, has been alive. On this particular journey, 26-year-old Oyebanji was handling navigation as their tugboat sailed from Onne Port in southern Nigeria to the Port of Luba in Equatorial Guinea. Once there, the tugboat was supposed to escort an oil barge back to Nigeria. Although this route, cutting through the Gulf of Guinea, is regarded as the most dangerous in the world – in the first nine months of this year, the region accounts for 86% of the 49 crew taken hostage and 82% of the 70 crew kidnapped globally, according to the International Maritime Bureau – the 10-person crew was not expecting any trouble. Nonetheless, as has become standard practice, a naval escort vessel came with them all the way to the maritime boundary between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea. Once they crossed that border, they would be on their own. Mail & Guardian

US Places Radical Mali Preacher on Terrorism Blacklist

The United States on Thursday designated Mali-born preacher Amadou Koufa as a terrorist, putting a new focus on stopping the militant blamed for multiple attacks on Western interests in the Sahel. Koufa — a member of the Fulani, a long-impoverished herding community — has won a following among the young with fiery sermons urging a hard-line form of Islam that have been disseminated widely by mobile app WhatsApp. He is a senior figure in the JNIM, or Group to Support Islam and Muslims, which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The State Department said the alliance, itself designated as terrorist last year, is to blame for the deaths of more than 500 civilians since 2017. AFP

Jihadist Conflict Sends Mali’s Mopti into Downward Spiral

Today, Mopti finds itself surrounded by a sea of conflict and criminality that has left thousands dead. According to UN figures, as many as 70,000 people in the region have fled their homes. The once-tranquil regional capital is haunted by displaced villagers who have sought a haven from conflict. Unemployed tourism workers survive doing menial jobs. And others have their own well-founded reasons to crave the anonymity of the city. One such person is Ibrahim, a 45-year-old who pushes a two-wheeled cart through the streets, his face barely visible in the swaddling of a turban. His figure melts unnoticed into the crowds of hawkers and gawpers. … The poor shepherd became a gunman with the Katiba Macina, a ruthless Islamist group founded by radical Mopti preacher Amadou Koufa. … One day, jihadists came to Ibrahim, who is from the Songhai ethnic group, as he was grazing his sheep near the family’s encampment. “Fight and enforce divine sharia law, and you will be well paid” was their promise. AFP

In Ethiopia, a Growing Clamour for Ethnic Autonomy

Scrawled in big yellow letters on a road junction in Hawassa City are the provocative words “Sidama National Regional State.” It’s an aspiration at the moment, but a referendum this month will decide whether it becomes a reality and Sidama is recognised as federal Ethiopia’s new tenth region. Sidama is currently referred to as a “zone,” akin to an administrative district. Its roughly four million people are bundled together with more than 40 other ethnic groups in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region (SNNPR), Ethiopia’s most diverse. But Sidama activists argue that as Ethiopia’s fifth largest ethnic group they deserve a region of their own. In July, they appeared prepared to unilaterally declare statehood, and at least 60 people died in clashes with security forces to push that demand – until a 13 November referendum date was finally agreed. … Nearly three million people have been forced from their homes as a result of ethnic clashes over land, borders, and rights. Elections due in 2020 could add yet more fuel to an already combustible situation. The New Humanitarian

South Sudan Promoting Adult Literacy to Maintain Peace

As South Sudan slowly stabilizes after decades of conflict, the world’s youngest nation continues to battle illiteracy. South Sudan has the lowest literacy rate in world: 27% of the adult population can read and write. To combat the problem, authorities have launched thousands of adult education classes across the country. Rebecca Nyankiir Deng, 47, is studying with her 17-year-old daughter. But while most mothers help their children study, Deng has been illiterate for most of her life. So, her daughter is helping her learn to read and write English. … South Sudan’s education minister, Deng Deng Hoc Yai, says adult literacy is a top priority because it helps pull people out of poverty and prevents conflict. … The Education Ministry told VOA that slightly more than 208,000 South Sudanese adults are now enrolled in programs to learn how to read and write. And, as long as the current peace in South Sudan holds, they expect those numbers will continue to grow. VOA

For the First Time, a Man Has Been Sentenced for Sexual Slavery by the International Criminal Court. He Got 30 Years.

He was once known as the “Terminator.” Now he’s the first man the International Criminal Court has convicted and sent to jail for the crime of sexual slavery. On Thursday, Bosco Ntaganda, 46, sat stoically in a suit and tie as a court in The Hague laid out his conviction of 18 counts, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers, and sentenced him to 30 years in prison, the BBC reported. The ICC has made only a few convictions since its creation in 2002, and the former Congolese rebel’s sentencing is the longest the court has issued. … Aid groups have called the conflicts in Congo the world’s deadliest since World War II. The country’s civil war ended in 2003, but fighting and insurgencies continue. Today an estimated 4.5 million Congolese are displaced, according to the United Nations. Ntaganda was first indicted by the ICC in 2006 on charges of recruiting child soldiers. He surrendered to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda in 2013. The Washington Post

Beauty Queen’s Rape Allegation against Former Gambia President Sparks #MeToo Movement

It seemed like a fairy tale. At the age of 18, Fatou Jallow won a beauty pageant sponsored by the Gambian president and run by the Ministry of Education’s Gender Department. She was showered with gifts-clothes, cash, furniture for her parent’s house, even a new iPhone. She was invited to public events with president Yahya Jammeh – and to meet with him privately at his residence. A black government Jeep would pick her up from her house, which didn’t have running water, and take her to the presidential palace. The most significant prize for winning the beauty pageant was supposed to be a scholarship to study abroad. Instead, Jallow says, she got raped by president Jammeh. In testimony last week before Gambia’s Truth Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, Jallow described how government officials groomed young women and girls to be sexually assaulted by the leader. NPR

Angola President Awards Two Activists Branded ‘Enemies’ by Predecessor

Two Angolan activists considered “enemies of the state” by the erstwhile Jose Eduardo dos Santos government have been awarded presidential medals by President Joao Lourenco. They are human rights activist, Rafael Marques and anti-corruption crusader, Sousa Jamba. The award was in recognition for the roles that they played in keeping government accountable. The duo were part of a group of 70 other personalities who were awarded by the presidency on Thursday for their service of the development of Angola. … Since Lourenço came to power in 2017, Luanda has gradually been taking on a new leaf in the two areas – of human rights and anti-corruption. Dos Santos era officials have been fired from their positions over issues especially of corruption. Some of those affected are children of the former president who have lost top government posts. Africa News

UN Peacekeepers Warn of Increasing Global Challenges

Organized crime has become a “central scourge facing many countries,” Awale Abdounasir, Police Commissioner for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), warned the Council. Mr. Abdounasir said that the problem particularly affects fragile states, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Many countries, noted Mr. Abdounasir, have concentrated on a military response to the challenge, but “a judicial response that holds perpetrators of crimes accountable would have been more effective,” and a better strategy for combatting conflict and insecurity involves building up police forces, along with justice sector and prison system reform. The MONUSCO police commissioner declared that his force has developed an organized crime prevention strategy for DRC, and called for concerted efforts to combat the phenomenon at a regional and sub-regional level, as well as the reinforcement of State authority, and strengthened rule of law. UN News

Drought Parches Southern Africa, Millions Faced with Hunger

An estimated 45 million people are threatened with hunger by a severe drought strangling wide stretches of southern Africa. Emergency food deliveries are planned for parts of South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and other countries hard hit by a combination of low rainfall and high temperatures. “We are witnessing millions of already poor people facing extreme food insecurity and exhausting their reserves because of compounding climate shocks that hit already vulnerable communities hardest. They need help urgently,” said Nellie Nyang’wa, southern Africa director for the international aid agency, Oxfam. “The scale of the drought devastation across southern Africa is staggering.” Parts of Zimbabwe have had the lowest rainfall since 1981, contributing to making more than 5.5 million at risk of extreme food insecurity, Oxfam said in a report released Thursday. Zambia’s rich maize-growing area has been hit hard and exports are now banned; 2.3 million people there are food-insecure, according to Oxfam and the Zambia Red Cross. AP