Africa Media Review for October 17, 2016

Clashes Erupt in Libyan Capital
Clashes have erupted in the Libyan capital between militias loyal to a U.N.-backed government and those supporting a rival Islamist-oriented administration that had ruled Tripoli until March this year, Libyan security officials said on Sunday. The clashes, which began late Saturday and continued into Sunday, followed Friday night’s takeover by militiamen loyal to the Islamist administration of the offices of the U.N.-backed National Accord government. The sites captured included a residential compound for some 145 members of a consultative chamber formally called the Supreme State Council. The council issued a statement condemning the takeover of its offices, describing the move as “a desperate and bizarre attempt to confuse the political landscape and derail efforts to bring stability to the country.” AP on The Washington Post

United Nations Condemns Attempted Coup in Libya
The United Nations has condemned an attempted coup in Libya that has seen a rival administration capture key government buildings, as both rebels and officials scrambled to win the support of Tripoli’s powerful militias. The UN envoy Martin Kobler said: “I condemn the attempt to seize the headquarters of the high council of state. Such actions … will generate further disorder and insecurity and must end for the sake of the Libyan people.” His comments came hours after armed units backed by trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns seized buildings of the UN-backed government of national accord around Tripoli’s Rixos hotel complex, with local forces fleeing without a battle. The Guardian

Egypt Admits to Airstrikes in 2015
The Egyptian air force says that last year it carried out 13 air strikes against terrorists in Libya in revenge for the reported murder of 20 Egyptian Christians. An air force commander, speaking prior to Egypt’s Air Force Celebration Day today, said that the strikes has been coordinated with the Libyan army. Egypt announced last year that it had carried out airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State but never quantified them. One of its targets, however was Derna, where IS was still partly operating and where seven civilians were reportedly killed, including women and children. They resulted in threats of reprisals from the General National Congress in Tripoli and the mujahideen in Derna who were still fighting to remove IS. They were also condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as indiscriminate and disproportionate. Libya Herald

Congo Delays Presidential Vote to April 2018, Opposition Plans Strike
Democratic Republic of Congo’s governing coalition and other smaller parties have agreed to delay next month’s elections to April 2018 – a move that will anger opposition groups who have accused the president of trying to cling onto power. Congo’s main opposition bloc was not immediately available for comment but has already called a general strike for Wednesday to press President Joseph Kabila to leave at the end of his mandate in December. Last month dozens died in two days of protests in the capital Kinshasa against planned delays to the vote due to what authorities said were logistical problems registering millions of voters in the massive and impoverished country. Mail and Guardian

In Somalia, U.S. Escalates a Shadow War
The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation. Hundreds of American troops now rotate through makeshift bases in Somalia, the largest military presence since the United States pulled out of the country after the “Black Hawk Down” battle in 1993. The Somalia campaign, as it is described by American and African officials and international monitors of the Somali conflict, is partly designed to avoid repeating that debacle, which led to the deaths of 18 American soldiers. But it carries enormous risks — including more American casualties, botched airstrikes that kill civilians and the potential for the United States to be drawn even more deeply into a troubled country that so far has stymied all efforts to fix it. The Somalia campaign is a blueprint for warfare that President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa — from Syria to Libya — despite the president’s stated aversion to American “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones. The New York Times

Shadow War in the Sahara
Africa remains a key territory on the global chessboard of the 21st century. Rich in oil and natural resources, the continent holds a strategic position. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. North Africa counts with vast oil and natural gas deposits, the Sahara holds the most strategic nuclear ore, and resources like coltan, gold, copper among many others are abundant in the continent. But despite its position and resources, conflict and chaos have spread throughout the continent. At the heart of this turmoil is a strategic territory: the Sahel. The region that straddles the Sahara to the north and the savannas in the south has become an important new front in the so-called war against terrorism. Al Jazeera

Niger Says US Aid Worker Likely Kidnapped By Mali Jihadists
A US aid worker kidnapped in Niger is likely being held by jihadists from the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao), the country’s interior minister said Sunday. Jeffery Woodke — the first American to be kidnapped in the west African country – was seized at gunpoint from his home in the central town of Abalak on Friday. Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum told AFP that Niger’s forces had tracked the kidnappers across the border into Mali, towards the region of Menaka which is controlled by the Al-Qaeda linked Mujao. “He was probably kidnapped by the Mujao or handed over to the Mujao by those who abducted him,” said Bazoum by telephone. France 24

Egypt: ‘IS Militants’ Kill 12 Soldiers in Sinai Peninsula
Suspected Islamist militants have killed 12 soldiers and injured eight in an attack on an army checkpoint in the Sinai Peninsula, Egyptian security sources say. The army says 15 militants were also killed in the attack, which took place near the town of Bir al-Abd. Gunmen from the Sinai Province group are reported to be behind the attack. It is Egypt’s most active insurgent group, which pledged allegiance to so-called Islamic State in 2014. Officials said a gun battle erupted after the militants opened fire on the checkpoint with light arms and heavy machine-guns. BBC

Britain Sends New Military Training Mission to Tunisia to Counter IS 
Britain has sent 40 military personnel to Tunisia to provide training aimed at helping the North African country prevent the spread of Islamic State fighters from neighbouring Libya, the British defence minister said on Saturday. The training will focus on operational planning, intelligence, surveillance and mobile patrolling and is the third mission of its kind by British troops in Tunisia since 30 British holidaymakers were killed in a beach attack there. The massacre in June last year at a hotel in Sousse on the Mediterranean coast was the biggest loss of British lives in such an incident since the July 2005 bombings in London. Reuters

21 Chibok Schoolgirls, Reuniting With Parents, Tell of Boko Haram Slaver
They were taken deep into the Sambisa Forest to Boko Haram’s stronghold, where the more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok were offered a choice: Join the militants or become their slaves. About half of them chose to join and marry the fighters and were taken away, never to be heard from. Those who refused endured more than two years of servitude, washing, fetching water and cooking for Boko Haram. The girls, nearly all of them Christians, lived in grass huts and were forced to convert to Islam. At first they ate rice and maize. But then food became scarce. During their captivity in the forest, a few of them died. These were the stories that parents of the schoolgirls from Chibok heard Sunday from 21 girls released last week after the Nigerian government negotiated their freedom. The parents of the freed girls, as well as parents of  girls still held captive , were bused to the nation’s capital for a joyful reunion ceremony at a hospital run by the country’s secret police service. The New York Times

EU Celebrates Return of 21 Chibok Girls, Commits More Support to Nigeria
The European Union (EU) has expressed joy at the release of 21 abducted girls by insurgent group, Boko Haram. The girls were released after over two years in captivity to the Nigerian government on Thursday. ‘‘Amongst all the troubles in the world today we celebrate. It is time to give these girls hope, life, a future. We wish for the safe return of the girls to their families and their full reintegration into society. ‘‘Yet we cannot forget all the others who remain abducted with their families and those who have suffered from the violence of Boko Haram,’‘ an EU statement read. Africa News

Ethiopia Government Unveils Rules for State of Emergency
The Ethiopian government has unveiled stringent rules for its state of emergency which the opposition says is meant to curb a wave of protests, sometimes deadly, in the Oromia region and other areas.[…] The rules announced late Saturday restricts the movement of diplomats 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside of Addis Ababa without official permission. The emergency prohibits anyone from making contact with groups that are labeled as terrorist and from watching media channels like Oromia Media Network and Ethiopian Satellite Television and Radio, according to a statement issued by Siraj Fegessa, Ethiopia’s minster of defense and head of the Command Post set up to oversee the state of emergency law. Those who break the terms of the emergency risk jail terms of three to five years. The emergency also outlaws rallies and public meetings without permission from authorities and gives security forces the right to detain and search suspects without a court order. VOA

Ethnic Unrest Threatens to Derail Ethiopia’s Boom
For a decade, Ethiopia has been lauded as an economic success story and a bastion of stability in the tumultuous Horn of Africa region. That status is now under threat as an outbreak of ethnic unrest is met with a government crackdown. […] Investors have been drawn to Ethiopia by its cheap labor and electricity, and perceived political stability. That is now in question. Businesses targeted by protests include cement companies owned by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, and Saudi investor Mohammed al-Amoudi. Unilever NV, Diageo Plc and Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) are among the companies with operations in Ethiopia, and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Africa’s biggest hydropower project, is being built by Italy’s Salini Impregilo SpA. Bloomberg

East African Community Faces Funding Crisis
The East African Community (EAC) is to consider imposing sanctions on member states that fail to meet funding obligations as a budgetary crisis looms over the regional bloc. Just 12% of the payments that member states are required to pay to sustain the bloc’s operating costs have been made so far this year, according to a motion tabled by lawmakers on Thursday. This despite stellar growth rates in the region compared to other African countries more reliant on strong commodity prices. “We have been writing letters, we have been visiting partner states…hopefully they will respond to our calls [for payment],” Libérat Mfumukeko, the EAC’s secretary general, told an assembly of 49 regional legislators in Zanzibar. The Africa Report

African Leaders Sign ‘Historic’ Maritime Deal Against Piracy and Smuggling
African leaders on Saturday signed a deal to boost security off the continent’s economically crucial coasts, hoping to shore up development by tackling maritime crimes like piracy and smuggling. Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso hailed the African Union agreement as “historic”, while Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said it showed Africa’s ability to put together a continent-wide strategy. Sassou Nguesso said 43 nations had adopted the binding agreement — which will see countries pay into a special fund for maritime security — at a summit in Togo’s capital Lome. The deal is designed to improve information-sharing between African nations, a weakness that pirates and smugglers have benefited from in the past, slipping between territorial waters with little trouble. France 24

South Sudan Seeks Asylum for Rebel Leader, Says Should Not Talk Politics
South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir on Saturday said it was working with foreign powers to find a country where the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, should stay in exile without involving in political activities and affairs of the country. Information Minister, Michael Makuei Lueth, said the government has slapped a political ban on the rebel chief, Riek Machar, following his call for armed resistance against President Kiir. Lueth, who speaks for the government as its spokesman told reporters in Juba on Friday evening that Machar will not be allowed to talk politics in South Sudan, instead advising him to seek asylum in a country of his choice. Sudan Tribune

Sudan, Germany Agree to Promote Cooperation to Combat Illegal Migration
Sudan’s police on Sunday said it has reached a joint understanding with the German police on ways to combat illegal migration and human trafficking. In a press statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the Director General of Sudan’s Police Lieu. Gen. Hashim Osman al-Hussein, said a delegation from the Sudanese Ministry of Interior has concluded a visit to Berlin on Saturday where it held talks with the German police on transfer of crime-fighting technology and illegal migration. He added the delegation also discussed ways to promote cooperation between Sudan’s police and German federal police in the various fields, pointing that cooperative ties between the two sides were old but have been severed during the eighties due to political reason. Sudan Tribune

Ghana Electoral Body Denies Candidates’ Disqualifications Politically Motivated
The Electoral Commission of Ghana sharply rejected accusations that its decision to disqualify presidential candidates from participating in the December 7 general election was politically motivated. The Electoral Commission disqualified 12 presidential candidates, including the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, presidential candidate for the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) – for failing to meet requirements it stipulated ahead of the September 30 deadline to file nomination documents. The electoral body says the presidential candidates who are qualified to participate in the elections include incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate. VOA

Malawian President Returns Home after a Month’s ‘Unexplained’ Absence
After attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September, Malawian President Arthur Peter Mutharika did not return home till Sunday, a month after his departure. He returned to a rousing welcome by his party members and government officials who had warned against allegations that his absence was due to ill health and was seeking medical attention. Government spokesperson and information minister Malison Ndau only explained after rumours were widespread that “ the President is continuing to carry out other duties which could not be concluded whilst he was at the United Nations General Assembly.” Africa News

Nigeria’s President Buhari: My Wife Belongs in Kitchen
On a visit to Germany, he said: “I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room.” Mr Buhari was standing next to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who seemed to glare at him. Aisha Buhari had said she might not back her husband at the next election unless he got a grip on his government. Responding to questions by reporters, Mr Buhari said that having run for president three times and having succeeded at the fourth attempt, he could “claim superior knowledge over her”. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones