Africa Media Review for October 16, 2017

Death Toll from Somalia Bomb Attacks Tops 300
More than 300 people died after twin bomb explosions in Mogadishu, an official said on Monday, as locals packed hospitals in search of friends and relatives caught up in Somalia’s deadliest attack in a decade. The death toll has steadily risen since Saturday, when the blasts – for which no organization had claimed responsibility by Monday morning – struck at two busy junctions in the heart of the city. “We have confirmed 300 people died in the blast. The death toll will still be higher because some people are still missing,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, the director of the city’s ambulance service, told Reuters on Monday. Reuters

Mogadishu Atrocity May Provoke Deeper US Involvement in Somalia
[…] One reason for the relative lack of attention devoted to al-Shabaab in recent years in Washington, London and other western capitals is that the group has ruthlessly purged anyone who wanted to swear allegiance to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria from its ranks. That al-Shabaab – the name means “the youth” – is not seen as particularly dangerous beyond its immediate region is another reason. Though the group has been a formal affiliate of al-Qaida since 2011, it has not engaged in terrorist planning against European or US targets. Though it has attracted militants from the west, it has not sent many back the other way. Al-Shabaab has, however, launched a series of bloody attacks in east Africa, such as the assault on an upscale shopping mall in Kenya in 2013 in which 67 people were killed. It has been regional powers, including Kenya, that have done the heavy lifting in terms of military deployments in Somalia in recent years. The Guardian

World Reacts to ‘Revolting’ Mogadishu Truck Bomb Attack
Politicians, activists and social media users from around the world have offered sweeping condemnations of a powerful bomb blast that killed more than 200 people and wounded hundreds of others in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. The powerful explosion on Saturday afternoon struck a busy junction in Hodan, a bustling commercial district in the heart of the city housing many shops, hotels and other businesses. Hundreds of people had been in the area at the time of the blast. Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo on Sunday declared three days of national mourning and called for donations of blood and funds to victims. Al Jazeera

Somalia: Former Al-Shabab Militants Share Their Story
Abu and Gardere worked as teachers in Somalia before joining Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. But what made them decide to leave? DW spoke with the men to hear their side of the story. Abu and Gardere are not their real names — they wish to remain anonymous. The two men are deeply disillusioned. They expected more out of their time with the al-Shabab militia, which is linked to Islamic extremist group al Qaeda. They are both from the Lower Shebelle region in southern Somalia, which is now known as a stronghold for al-Shabab. “We want an Islamic state,” says Gardere. “Al-Shabab is fighting democracy to enforce God’s word, so I joined the movement.” Deutsche Welle

Liberia Announces Runoff Election between Weah, Boakai
A runoff vote for the presidency of Liberia will be held between former footballer George Weah and incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai, the electoral commission said Sunday. With over 95 percent of votes counted in the West African country, Weah has taken 39.0 percent of the votes and Boakai 29.1 percent – neither of them near the 50 percent required to win the presidency outright after the first round of voting last week. Voters cast their ballots Tuesday, marking the West African nation’s first smooth transition of power from one democratically elected leadership to another in more than 70 years. The country’s 2.1 million registered voters were choosing the successor to Nobel Peace laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female elected head of state, who is stepping down after serving two six-year terms, as mandated by Liberia’s constitution. VOA

Egypt: Six Troops, 24 Attackers Killed in Sinai Attacks
At least six Egyptian soldiers and 24 attackers have been killed in a series of assaults on security posts in northern Sinai, according to security and hospital officials. Dozens of fighters on Sunday used heavy machine guns and mortars to carry out a series of near-simultaneous attacks at and around the town of Sheikh Zweid.  Apache helicopter gunships were called in to repel the attackers, the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media, told The Associated Press news agency. An army statement said 24 attackers were killed and one was wounded, while two of the fighters’ SUVs were destroyed. Al Jazeera

Boko Haram Fighters Surrender in Northern Cameroon
Nearly 60 men who said they were captured by the Boko Haram Islamist group and forced to fight for them in Nigeria have surrendered to authorities in northern Cameroon. After spending two years with Boko Haram, the men decided to flee with their families and hand themselves in, according to several men who had surrendered and spoke to journalists at a ceremony in the town of Mozogo on Friday. A total of nearly 400 people originally from Cameroon — 58 men, 86 women and 244 children — said they had been taken hostage by Boko Haram fighters during attacks on their villages and taken to Nigeria, where they were forced to join the jihadist group. The men told reporters they had fought for Boko Haram and were laying down their arms of their own will. Daily Nation

South Sudan Is a Disaster. Its President Says: Not My Fault.
President Salva Kiir has presided over the world’s youngest nation as it descended into civil war, famine and a historic refugee crisis. The United Nations says his military is responsible for ethnic cleansing. The United States has imposed sanctions on some of his closest associates. But in a rare interview, Kiir presented himself as a defiant leader who has been maligned, a man too preoccupied with waging war to consider any possible mistakes, a onetime fan of Donald Trump who thinks America should worry about human rights abuses on its own soil. “I did not do anything that can make me regret,” he said Thursday in his office in the country’s military headquarters, wearing the cowboy hat he received as a gift from George W. Bush. The Washington Post

Burundi Accuses Rwanda, Belgium of Arming Refugees
Belgium and Rwanda are closely collaborating with people who attempted to stage the 2015 coup plot in Burundi and are arming refugees to disrupt Burundi’s security, a senior Burundian government official said Saturday. Therence Ntahiraja, assistant to the Burundian home affairs minister, was speaking after a demonstration staged by thousands of citizens in the streets of the country’s capital Bujumbura. The aim of the demonstration was to denounce the role of Rwanda and Belgium in backing “coup plotters” and arming refugees living in Tanzania and Rwanda. “The two countries are responsible for the assassination of several Burundian leaders like our independence hero Prince Louis Rwagasore. We call on the United Nations to tell the two countries to stop provoking us,” said Ntahiraja. Xinhua

Hafter Says LNA Now Controls Most of Libya
Only a few areas of the country are not yet controlled by the Libyan National Army (LNA) armed forces commander-in-chief Khalif Hafter has claimed. Hafter maintained the LNA now held territory to the west of Tripoli from Zuwara to the Tunisian border. In a few days, he said, Zawia, 30 kilometres west of the capital, would also be under its control. Hafter told a gathering of LNA commanders in Benghazi yesterday: “The size of Libya is 1,760,000 square kilometres. The army is currently in control of 1,730,000 square kilometres. There’s only a little left.” His announcement has been taken as an indication that the LNA would now move on Tripoli. Last December, he said that troops should be ready to “liberate” the capital. Libya Herald

600 Migrants Rescued; Fears Rise of New Surge from Libya
Some 600 migrants rescued at sea arrived Friday in Sicily — one of the biggest influxes since Italy struck a deal with Libyan authorities to limit migrant smuggling — raising concerns of a renewed surge on the Libyan human trafficking route. The migrants, including many unaccompanied minors from sub-Saharan Africa, were rescued in seven operations over 36 hours, and transported Friday to Palermo by the German non-governmental organization SOS Mediterranee. They came as three weeks of fighting around the Libyan city of Sabratha has destabilized militias that pledged to help reduce the flow of migrant smuggling across the Mediterranean Sea, leaving many migrants and refugees displaced. SOS Mediterranee President Valeria Calandra told Sky TG24 that the renewed instability in Libya has only increased the desire of migrants to escape the lawless North African country. AP

North Darfur Sets Ultimatum for Voluntary Handover of Illegal Arms
The locality of El-Fasher, North Darfur capital said next Thursday would be the last day for the voluntary handover of illegal arms before the start of the forcible collection of weapons. The commissioner of El-Fasher locality Al-Tijani Abdallah Salih Sunday told reporters that they have assigned three centres for the voluntary handover of weapons within the locality. He said the voluntary handover of arms would begin on Sunday and until Thursday, pointing that the forcible collection of weapons would start immediately after the end of the specified period. Salih called upon the residents to rush to hand over their weapons to the specified centres, demanding them to support the relevant committee and notify it about any illegal arms in the locality. Sudan Tribune

Opposition Nasa’s Well-Crafted Game Plan to Scuttle Kenya Election
Challenging the legitimacy of President Uhuru Kenyatta after October 26 is the final card in Kenya’s main opposition grouping, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) strategy, following the withdrawal of its presidential candidate Raila Odinga and running mate Kalonzo Musyoka from the fresh presidential poll. Meanwhile, Nasa plans a protracted legal battle with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in a bid to scuttle the October 26 election and — should this fail — have the poll declared illegal to pave the way for challenging the legitimacy of President Kenyatta. Nasa’s main concern is IEBC’s ability to conduct the election without external interference, mainly from the government. The opposition grouping says it will focus on campaigns once it is guaranteed a level playing ground. The East African

Gunmen Attack Kenyan School, Killing Six Children – Officials
Seven people, six of them children, were killed in northern Kenya on Saturday when unknown assailants attacked a school, officials said. Cattle rustling and clashes over grazing and farming land are relatively common between communities in the East African country’s north, and often escalate into revenge attacks. The region also borders war-torn South Sudan, and arms smuggling is common, with Kenyan police having little control over weaponry crossing the border. In a report, Kenya’s KTN television channel said four boys, two girls and a guard were killed during the attack on Lokichogio School, which it said was carried out by assailants whose identities were yet to be determined. Reuters

Four Die in Ivory Coast French Army Charter Jet Crash
A small cargo plane chartered by the French army has crashed into the waters off Ivory Coast, killing at least four Moldovan citizens, according to firefighters. Another six people were injured on Saturday in the crash of the Antonov aircraft, which had taken off from Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. It crash-landed in the sea near the airport in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, breaking in half. “There were 10 people on board, Moldovans and French people. The four victims who died are Moldovan nationals,” firefighter Colonel Issa Sakho told local television. Al Jazeera

ANC Leadership Race: In Limpopo, Dlamini Zuma Attacks the Demon of Tribalism
ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma took the battle to her opponent Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s home ground in Limpopo this weekend, where she preached unity and non-tribalism while striking at the heart of his support base. She also met with traditional leaders and got a warmer reception there than Ramaphosa’s camp might have liked. Daily Maverick

Nigeria to Start Issuing Visas on Arrival for Africans: AU
Nigeria has decided to start issuing visas on arrival for all Africans, the African Union said Friday, in a major step toward the goal of free movement on the continent. The continental body’s deputy chairman Kwesi Quartey praised the action as a “laudable move towards Africa’s integration agenda” in a Facebook post. The AU has advocated for a “single African passport” that aims to improve intra-African trade and has called for “the abolishment of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries by 2018.” A spokeswoman for the AU chairperson, Ebba Kalondo, told The Associated Press they were waiting for details from Nigeria as the news was “announced verbally with no formal communication.” AP

It’s Been 30 Years since Africa’s Last Great Revolutionary Leader Was Killed
Thirty years after the assassination of Africa’s last revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, the front cover of this week’s edition of the pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique is entitled “Who Killed Sankara?” The question has swirled since October 15, 1987 when the charismatic army captain was killed in a bloody coup in Burkina Faso which brought to power his one-time close friend Blaise Compaoré. Over the years, theories about conspiracies involving Compaoré, Liberian rebels, France and, late presidents Felix Houphouet Boigny of Cote d’Ivoire and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, have done the rounds. “We are hopeful—although it has been 30 years that this issue has not been elucidated—that we will be able to find a solution, a definitive ruling, to address this problem,” Burkina President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré declared this week in a press conference (French). Compaoré blocked any attempt to seek the truth about Sankara’s murder during his 27 years of rule. For example, his regime issued a death certificate claiming Sankara died of natural causes. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones