Africa Media Review for October 15, 2018

At Least 16 Dead in Pair of Bombings in Somalia’s Baidoa
A suicide bomber detonated in a restaurant in the Somali town of Baidoa and another blast struck a hotel nearby, leaving at least 16 people dead and more than 30 wounded, authorities said Saturday. Most of the casualties were caused by the bomber who walked into the restaurant with explosives strapped around his waist, Col. Ahmed Muse told The Associated Press. Many of the wounded at Baidoa’s main hospital had horrific injuries, nurse Mohamed Isaq told the AP. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility for the blasts via its radio arm, Andalus. It said one blast targeted a hotel owned by a former Somali minister, Mohamed Aden Fargeti, one of several candidates running for the presidency of the region in November’s election.  AP

Mogadishu Bombings: Man Executed on Somalia Blast Anniversary
A man convicted of involvement in the deadliest bomb attack in Somalia’s history has been executed on the first anniversary of the blast. Hassan Adan Isak drove one of the vehicles involved in the attack on the capital, Mogadishu, a court ruled. Nearly 600 people were killed when a truck filled with explosives was detonated at one of the busiest intersections in the city. A commemorative ceremony was held at the intersection on Sunday. It has been renamed 14 October junction in memory of those who died there.  BBC

5 Algerian Major-Generals Face Corruption Charges, Jailed
An Algerian television station close to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s family reports that five senior Algerian army officers have been jailed after appearing before a magistrate on corruption charges. Ennahar TV says the major-generals — three former military region heads, a former gendarme head and the Defense Ministry’s financial services chief — faced charges Sunday of “illicit enrichment” and “use of a senior officer’s function for personal purposes.” A security services official confirmed the information to The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter. The officers are part of a wave of military officials who have been fired by the ailing 81-year-old president without explanation since summer.  AP

Gambia Set to Probe Pain of Past in Truth Commission
The tiny West African state of The Gambia will journey into its grim past on Monday as it begins a probe into atrocities committed under former dictator Yahya Jammeh. Dubbed the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC), the panel faces high expectations of justice in this struggling young democracy. But it is far from clear whether the man at the centre of it all will ever be put in the dock. “Prosecuting perpetrators is a lesson to others that no amount of time or distance or power can prevent justice,” human rights activist Madi Jobarteh told AFP. “Justice provides solace and relief to victims, even if it does not fully restore the rights, dignity and properties they lost, or ease the pain they endured.”  AFP

UNICEF: Armed Militia in NE Nigeria Releases 833 Child Soldiers
The U.N. Children’s Fund reports a local militia fighting Boko Haram Islamists in northeast Nigeria has released 833 child soldiers. UNICEF says it hopes the move will be followed by further releases. The local militia that released the children is one of several vigilante groups that formed an alliance in 2013 to fight Boko Haram militants. UNICEF says last year, the alliance known as the Civilian Joint Task Force CJTF), signed an agreement to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children. UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac says the 833 child soldiers, some as young as 11, were freed in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria. He says it marks the first formal release of children since the Action plan by the CJTF was signed in September 2017. “So, this is a significant milestone in ending the recruitment and use of children, but, many more children remain in the ranks of other armed groups in either combat or support roles. We call on all parties to stop recruiting children and let children be children,” he said. VOA

ICRC Urges Nigerian Militants to Free Abducted Healthcare Workers
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is making an urgent appeal to Islamic State’s West Africa affiliate in Nigeria to release two healthcare workers who were abducted earlier this year. “We urge you for mercy. We urge you to not kill another innocent health care worker who was doing nothing but helping the community in north-east Nigeria,” wrote the ICRC’s recent plea. ICRC says a deadline that could result in the killing of one of the healthcare workers is less than 24 hours away. The two nurses, Hauwa Mohammed Liman and Alice Loksha, were abducted in March along with another nurse while working in Rann, a town that serves as a home for refugees and a point of previous militant attacks. The attacks have impacted the medical care in the heavily targeted region.  VOA

No Foreign Travel for Nigeria’s 50 Corruption Suspects
Nigerian presidency on Sunday unveiled the names of the 50 high-profile personalities banned from foreign travel as a result of graft cases against them. They include 13 former governors and seven former ministers, all facing corruption trials. They were banned from travelling outside Nigeria under the Executive Order No. 6, issued by President Muhammadu Buhari. The restriction followed the judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the order. The watch-list and restriction were put in place pending the conclusion of the cases against those affected.  The East African

Gabon’s Ruling Party Wins Election Boycotted by Main Opposition
Gabons ruling party won the most seats in the Oct. 6 legislative elections that were boycotted by the main opposition leader, tightening President Ali Bongos grip on power. Bongos Gabonese Democratic Party took 75 of the 143 seats in the National Assembly, the Gabonese Elections Center said in a statement published in the state-owned newspaper L’Union on Saturday. A second round of elections for a further 60 seats will be held on Oct. 27. The vote, which was initially scheduled for December 2016, came after the Constitutional Court dissolved parliament in May because a deadline for elections had passed. The opposition in OPECs second-smallest oil producer alleged that the delay allowed Bongo, 59, to win approval for constitutional changes in January that will enable him to implement policies without consulting the legislature. Bloomberg

Egypt’s Sisi to Visit Putin for Bilateral Ties, Regional Issues
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will start a three-day state visit to Russia next Monday during which he will hold talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. The two leaders will discuss “ways of enhancing distinguished bilateral relations at all levels,” Egypt’s presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said in the statement on Sunday. He added that Sisi and Putin will also go through a number of regional and international issues of mutual concerns. Rady pointed out that the Egyptian president will deliver a speech at Russia’s Federation Council where “will be the first time for a foreign head of state to deliver a speech.”  Xinhua

Mozambique’s Opposition Renamo Party Accuses Government of Electoral Fraud
Mozambique’s Renamo opposition on Saturday accused the government of falsifying local election results in several areas, warning that such a move could prompt it to abandon peace talks. The country went to the polls on October 10 in a key test for the ongoing peace talks between the ruling Frelimo party and Renamo – negotiations which began in 2016 to end three years of violence between government troops and Renamo rebels. “We do not want war but we also do not accept any attempt to change the popular will,” Renamo’s acting leader Ossufo Momade told reporters. Africa News

SPLM-IO Questions Government Commitment to Peace
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) said it is committed to the new peace deal, but criticized military offensives against opposition-held areas. On 12 September, parties to South Sudan’s conflict signed a power-sharing deal aimed at ending the civil war. “Attacks on our positions are still continuing, so this casts doubts towards the government commitment to the agreement, “Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, deputy spokesperson for the SPLM-IO, told Radio Tamazuj on Friday. “Also, South Sudan parliament has not ratified the agreement up to now, so this shows lack of political will for peace from the government side,” he added. Manawa urged the government to show its commitment to the signed peace agreement instead of inviting regional leaders and opposition officials to attend peace celebrations in Juba. Radio Tamazuj

Eritrean President Visits Ethiopia Again
Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki arrived in Addis Ababa early on Sunday for a two-day visit. Ethiopian Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed welcomed Afeworki at the Addis Ababa Bole international airport. This is the second visit to Addis Ababa by the Eritrean president since relations between both countries thawed after decades of tension. The visit was meant to discuss the implementation of the comprehensive cooperation agreement the two countries signed on July 9. Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia in 1993, and from 1998 to 2000 the two countries fought a bloody war in which an estimated 70,000 people perished on both sides. The two countries broke two decades of tension after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed extended an olive branch to the Eritrean president in his inaugural speech in April. Anadolu

Battles over Safe Ebola Burials Complicate Work in Congo
A runaway hearse carrying an Ebola victim has become the latest example of sometimes violent community resistance complicating efforts to contain a Congo outbreak — and causing a worrying new rise in cases. The deadly virus’ appearance for the first time in the far northeast has sparked fear. Suspected contacts of infected people have tried to slip away. Residents have assaulted health teams. The rate of new Ebola cases has more than doubled since the start of this month, experts say. Safe burials are particularly sensitive as some outraged family members reject the intervention of health workers in the deeply personal moment, even as they put their own lives at risk. AP

DRC: The Boy Soldiers and Girl Brides of War-Torn North Kivu
In Democratic Republic of Congo, about six million children are affected by conflict, many of them in North Kivu in the country’s east. Now, this same province is the epicentre of a new Ebola outbreak that threatens to further increase the chaos. In war-torn North Kivu, boys as young as 14 describe being forced to fight on the battlefield under a spell of “Juju”, or black magic, so they wouldn’t be afraid of bullets. Girls describe being abducted by armed groups and forced into marriage with their captors. A Save the Children analysis of more than 10 years of United Nations data showed a dramatic increase in atrocities against children in the DRC. Last year saw the highest level of verified child casualties on record, and the highest level of recruitment of child soldiers for nearly a decade.  Al Jazeera

Congolese Migrants Flood Home, Angola Denies Claims of Brutal Crackdown
Congolese migrants and officials said dozens of people were killed this month in neighbouring Angola in a crackdown on artisanal diamond mining, an accusation Angolan security forces strongly denied. Angola, the world’s fifth largest diamond producer, has launched an operation in recent weeks to clear tens of thousands of people involved in digging for precious stones in the northeast of the country in order to attract more private investment. Many of them are from neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and hundreds of thousands of people have poured over the border into the Kasai region, border guards there told Reuters. In interviews with Reuters, more than 20 Congolese migrants who crossed the border between October 4-12 described violence, looting and forced displacement by Angolan security forces as well as a local tribe called the Tshokwe. Reuters

French Prosecutor Recommends Dropping Probe of 1994 Rwanda President Killing – Source
A French prosecutor has recommended dropping charges against eight senior Rwandan officials, including the defence minister, who were being investigated over the death of president Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994, a judicial source told Reuters. The probe, opened in France in 1998 following demands by relatives of the French crew who died when Habyarimana’s plane was downed, has led to major tensions between France and Rwanda over the past two decades. It is now up to investigative magistrates to decide whether to stop the investigation or carry it on and take it to a tribunal. Judges do not necessarily follow prosecutors’ recommendations.  Reuters

From Bouaké to Abidjan, the Bumpy Road to Reconciliation in Ivory Coast
In November 2010, a disputed presidential election in Ivory Coast sparked violence. Rival supporters of Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara clashed for weeks, leaving some 3,000 people dead. This Saturday, voters will head to the polls nationwide for regional and municipal elections. Our correspondents travelled from Bouaké to Abidjan to gauge the progress that reconciliation efforts have made to date.  France 24

‘How Can You Call Us Monkeys?’ Kenyans Say Chinese Investment Brings Racism
Before last year, Richard Ochieng’, 26, could not recall experiencing racism firsthand. Not while growing up as an orphan in his village near Lake Victoria where everybody was, like him, black. Not while studying at a university in another part of Kenya. Not until his job search led him to Ruiru, a fast-growing settlement at the edge of the capital, Nairobi, where Mr. Ochieng’ found work at a Chinese motorcycle company that had just expanded to Kenya.But then his new boss, a Chinese man his own age, started calling him a monkey. It happened when the two were on a sales trip and spotted a troop of baboons on the roadside, he said.“‘Your brothers,’” he said his boss exclaimed, urging Mr. Ochieng’ to share some bananas with the primates. And it happened again, he said, with his boss referring to all Kenyans as primates. Humiliated and outraged, Mr. Ochieng’ decided to record one of his boss’s rants, catching him declaring that Kenyans were “like a monkey people.”After his cellphone video circulated widely last month, the Kenyan authorities swiftly deported the boss back to China. Instead of a tidy resolution, however, the episode has resonated with a growing anxiety in Kenya and set off a broader debate. As the country embraces China’s expanding presence in the region, many Kenyans wonder whether the nation has unwittingly welcomed an influx of powerful foreigners who are shaping the country’s future — while also bringing racist attitudes with them.   The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones