Africa Media Review for October 13, 2016

Chibok schoolgirls: Group ‘freed’ in Nigeria
Twenty-one of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram have been freed, a senior Nigerian government official has told the BBC. The official wanted to remain anonymous and the government has not issued a statement. Previous reports of the girls’ release have turned out to be wrong. The Islamist militant group kidnapped more than 270 students from a school in Chibok in April 2014 – an act that provoked international condemnation. It also sparked one of the biggest global social media campaigns, with tweeters using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.  BBC

Nine Dead as Nigeria Police Open Fire on Shia Muslim Procession Marking Ashura
At least nine people are reported to have died after police opened fire on a procession of Shia Muslims marking the Ashura festival in Nigeria. Graphic images posted to social media appeared to show at least three women among the bodies of those killed in the clashes in the town of Funtua, in the north-western Katsina state. An eye witness to the clashes told BBC News the army and police had tried to block the procession, which commemorates the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. He said police then opened fire on the crowd, and while he had seen only eight bodies, many more were feared wounded. The Independent

Burundi Parliament Overwhelmingly Votes to Leave International Criminal Court
Burundi’s parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday in favour of withdrawing from the International Criminal Court, amid a deepening row over political violence in the East African country. Only two lawmakers voted in favour of staying under the jurisdiction of the Dutch-based ICC, while 94 voted against and 14 abstained. Pro-government lawmaker Gabriel Ntisezerana said the court was “a political tool used by powers to remove whoever they want from power on the African continent.” Earlier this year, the ICC opened a preliminary investigation into Burundi, focusing on acts of killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as enforced disappearances. Mail and Guardian

Raising Fears of a Flight from International Criminal Court, Burundi Heads for Exit
The lower house of Burundi’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to withdraw the country from the International Criminal Court, a move that international justice advocates fear could open the floodgates for other countries to divorce themselves from what was already seen as a deeply troubled institution. No country that has ratified the court’s establishing treaty has ever withdrawn, though several have threatened to do so, and some countries that signed the treaty have never ratified it, including the United States. Africa is deeply unhappy with the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, a seaside city in the Netherlands. The court is supposed to try cases of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity from around the world, but so far it has focused almost entirely on Africa’s battlefields, prosecuting rebels, warlords and government leaders from the graveyards of Darfur, in Sudan, to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The New York Times

Washington Is Unhappy That Burundi Is ‘Very Happy’ to Be Leaving the ICC
The United States has repeatedly expressed concern about human rights in Burundi, where refugees have accused security forces of hunting down government opponents, executing them in the streets, then throwing their bodies in mass graves. Earlier this year, Amnesty International published satellite imagery they said indicates the existence of those graves claims that the Burundian government has vehemently denied. On Wednesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing that the United States is “concerned by recent developments with regard to Burundi’s human rights situation, including the Burundian government’s announced decision to proceed with legislation that would lead to withdrawal from the International Criminal Court.” “Such a move would isolate Burundi from its neighbors and the international community at a time when accountability, transparency, and engaged dialogue are most needed,” Kirby said. Foreign Policy

At Least 23 Killed in Fighting in Central African Republic
Fighters from Central African Republic’s largely Muslim Seleka militia attacked refugees in the country’s remote north on Wednesday, stabbing or hacking to death 13 people before U.N. peacekeepers repelled them, killing at least 10, officials said. Several people were also wounded in the attack targeting the Kaga Bandoro, a town of dirt roads and thatched mud huts. A Reuters witness saw militiamen stab two refugees to death as people were fleeing. When some tried to fight back with clubs, the militiamen began firing their guns. Hundreds of panicked villagers, already refugees from earlier violence, then fled in the direction of the U.N. base. VOA

Gunmen Attack Burkina Faso’s North, Killing 5 People
Burkina Faso’s defense ministry says heavily armed assailants have attacked a military position in the north near the Mali border, killing three soldiers and two civilians. The ministry said the attackers escaped after the early Wednesday attack at Intangom. One soldier is missing and three others are wounded. He said the two dead, earlier thought to be the attackers, were civilians. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. This West African country has seen a number of assaults since al-Qaida-linked extremists attacked in Ouagadougou in January, killing 30 people. A June attack by extremists on an Intangom police station killed three policemen. AP on Stars and Stripes

U.N.-Approved Weapons Imports Resold in Somalia, Diplomats Say 
Many guns imported by the Somali government with U.N. approval are being resold by arms dealers on the black market in the nation’s capital Mogadishu, two Western diplomats said. Such sales violate a three-year-old deal which exempted government weapons imports from a U.N. arms embargo. The U.N. Security Council partially lifted it in 2013 to equip government forces fighting al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants. The United Nations imposed a blanket arms embargo on Somalia shortly after the nation plunged into civil war 25 years ago. Reuters

Machar Leaves Sudan for South Africa
South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar left Khartoum Tuesday for South Africa to seek medical treatment. His departure came just two month after he went to the Sudanese capital for medical attention. The former South Sudan first vice-president addressed the press at the Khartoum airport before his departure. “I thank the government of Sudan for the hospitality and I want to announce here that I am heading to South Africa for medical treatment,” said Dr Machar. The rebel leader recently declared that he would work to bring down the government of President Salva Kiir. The East African

S Sudan Denies Rumours of Leader Kiir’s Death as Tensions Rise
South Sudan’s government was on Wednesday forced to deny President Salva Kiir had died, following days of rumours over his health that have heightened tensions in the capital Juba. “This is a mere lie, there is nothing as such, Salva Kiir has not even been sick,” Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth told journalists in Juba, slamming “wild rumours” he said aimed to divide the people of South Sudan. The rumours have been doing the rounds on Twitter, and even spread as far as Uganda where Kiir, 65, was reported to have fled for medical treatment. Residents of Juba reported a higher than usual presence of soldiers on the streets, as the rumours coincided with mounting concerns over an uptick in violence in the troubled nation in recent weeks. News 24

The Crisis in South Sudan is Sending 2,000 Refugees to Uganda. Every Day
Over the past three months, an average of more than 2,000 South Sudanese a day have crossed into Uganda, seeking safety from bloodshed at home. Aid groups and government agencies are scrambling to shelter and feed everyone. The influx has not abated since fighting reignited in the South Sudan capital of Juba in July. To date, more than 1 million South Sudanese—mostly women and children—have fled to neighboring countries. Uganda has the most—432,619 as of last week. And the crisis is nearing a tipping point. “We have a shortfall of about $27 million for the next six months,” says Cheryl Harrison, World Food Program Uganda deputy country director. UN Dispatch

Revisiting France’s Role in Rwanda’s Genocide
With some 800,000 people killed in 100 days, the 1994 Rwandan genocide was one of the bloodiest events of the 20th century. Twenty-two years later, the incident that sparked the mass slaughter—the shooting down of a plane carrying the then president of Rwanda, Juvénal Habyarimana—remains a mystery, with opposing sides trading accusations of liability. France’s role in the massacre has long been scrutinized—the country  has repeatedly dismissed accusations that it trained militias from the majority Hutu ethnicity to take part in the massacres, which were directed against people from the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus. Now, much to the chagrin of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, France is reopening  an investigation into the assassination of Habyarimana. Kagame has warned of a “showdown” with France, including the prospect of freezing diplomatic relations. Newsweek

Rwandan Academic Extradited from US Charged with Genocide
A Rwandan official says an academic extradited from the United States last month has been charged with multiple offenses related to his alleged role in the 1994 genocide. Faustin Nkusi, a spokesman for the public prosecutor, said on Wednesday that Leopold Munyakazi was charged on Tuesday in the capital, Kigali. Rwandan prosecutors accuse Munyakazi, a college professor at the time of the genocide, of being among the ideologues of the genocide in which over 800 000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists. News 24

Congo Warlord Surrenders Five Years after Escape from Prison
A wanted warlord in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo has surrendered, five years after he escaped from prison following his conviction for crimes against humanity, the provincial governor said on Wednesday. Gedeon Kyungu, leader of regional separatist group Bakata Katanga, turned himself in with a bout 100 of his fighters at a ceremony in the village of Malambwe on Tuesday, Haut Katanga governor Jean Claude Kazembe said. It was not immediately clear why Kyungu had surrendered, what would happen to him now or whether the staged nature of his return suggested some sort of deal had been agreed. Authorities have struggled for decades to end violence in the east, where militia groups have attacked civilians and plundered vast mineral resources. Reuters

Ivorian Lawmakers Approve New Draft Constitution
Ivory Coast’s national assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the draft of a new constitution proposed by President Alassane Ouattara, paving the way for a referendum later this month. With Ouattara’s supporters dominating parliament after the opposition boycotted 2011 elections, 239 of 249 lawmakers voted in favour, easily surpassing the two thirds majority required. Just eight voted against and two abstained while one failed to show in protest. Former prime minister Guillaume Soro, now speaker of the assembly, said after the vote that lawmakers had “written a page of our country’s history.” France 24

Libya Forces Make Final Push to Clear ISIL from Sirte
Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government are advancing cautiously on the remaining pockets of ISIL fighters holding out in the coastal city of Sirte. The push comes after months of intense fighting in Sirte between government forces and fighters loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), which gained a foothold in the country following the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Pro-government fighter Mohamed Abdulla said troops were “making progress every day”, but he added they needed better medical care for their wounded.  Al Jazeera

Ghanaian Opposition Party to Challenge Disqualification of Presidential Candidate
Attorneys for the Ghanaian opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) plan to file a petition in court Thursday seeking to challenge the electoral commission’s decision to disqualify former first lady Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, presidential candidate of the party, from the Dec. 7 general election. Mohammed Frimpong, general secretary for the NDP, says the disqualification appears politically motivated, to ensure the former first lady doesn’t pose any threat to incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). “We have credible information around that the ruling government is very uncomfortable with our candidate,” Frimpong said. “And if she stood, it means that she was going to divide a lot of votes with the ruling government. … And for that they hatched several plots against her.”  VOA

Chad President Says EU Needs Broader Approach to Curb Migration
The European Union must seek a deal with countries across Africa’s desert Sahel region if it wants to curb an influx of migrants, rather than focusing on bilateral deals with individual countries, the president of Chad said on Wednesday. President Idriss Deby was speaking in Germany where he met Chancellor Angela Merkel after her trip this week to Mali and Niger – two of the five countries which form the G5 Sahel security organisation. Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania are the three other members of the Sahel group of countries, which stretches 4,200 km (2,600 miles) across northern Africa, from the Atlantic in the west to the border of Sudan in the east. “We can only resolve the issue if we involve the G5 frontline states, not through country by country agreements,” Deby, the first head of state from Chad to visit Germany. “That is the only possibility to slow the flow of migration.” Reuters

‘I Became a Child Refugee to Escape Rape. It Didn’t Work’
[…] Burundi has struggled with unrest since its independence in 1962. The recent protests were sparked last April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he had been re-elected for a third time, and his opponents claimed it was unconstitutional. The country is now plagued with violence, as protesters clash with government soldiers and the youth wing of the ruling party: the Imbonerakure. The government claims they are simply a political group, but Burundian refugees talk of them as mass murderers, torturers and rapists. More than a quarter of a million people have now fled, seeking sanctuary in neighbouring countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania – where more than a hundred refugees are arriving each day. The Telegraph



Photo: Adam Jones