Africa Media Review for October 2, 2017

U.N. Human Rights Council Extends Burundi Rights Probe
The U.N. Human Rights Council voted on Friday to extend the mandate of a Commission of Inquiry into human rights in Burundi, dealing a blow to an attempt by a group of African countries to replace the commission with a different team. Burundi’s ambassador told the other 46 members of the council that their decision on Thursday to send a team of experts meant the full inquiry was no longer needed. But the council voted by 22 to 11, with 14 abstentions, to back a European Union resolution to extend its mandate for a year. Reuters

At Least Eight Killed in English-Speaking Cameroon Protests
At least eight people were killed during protests in towns across western Cameroon on Sunday as residents of the mainly English-speaking regions defied a ban on public gatherings and demanded independence from the rest of the largely Francophone nation. The protests in the Southwest and Northwest regions have been called by a group known as Southern Cameroon/Ambazonia Governing Council. Four demonstrators were shot dead in the northwestern town of Kumbo as they marched to government buildings to hoist the blue and white Ambazonia flag, Mayor Donatus Njong Fonyuy said by phone. Another three bodies were taken to the mortuary in southwestern Buea, while a person with gunshot wounds was declared dead at the Kumba Presbyterian Clinic in the same region, Mercy Ndum, a nurse at the facility, said by phone. Bloomberg

Cameroon Bans Pro-Independence Rallies in Anglophone Area
Cameroon has banned public meetings and travel in a mainly English-speaking region ahead of a protest to demand independence for the area. The South-West region’s border with Nigeria has also been shut to block “infiltration” by people threatening Cameroon’s unity, officials said. Pro-independence marches have been planned for Sunday, the 56th anniversary of Cameroon’s unification. English speakers accuse the Francophone majority of discrimination. They say they are often excluded from top civil service jobs, and that the French language and legal system have been imposed on them. BBC

Cameroon Is Disrupting the Internet in Its English-Speaking Regions to Stifle Protests Again
Cameroon has once again disrupted internet connection it its restive North West and South West Anglophone regions in the wake of fresh mass protests. The interference has largely affected social media sites like WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. For the last 24 hours local residents in towns like Buea and Bamenda had noticed slow or inconsistent connections to the popular communications platforms. The disruption has sparked fears the Cameroonian government is again pressuring mobile operators to cut internet services in the English-speaking regions in a bid to stifle dissent. The government of 84-year-old president Paul Biya has been keen to frustrate online mobilization by activists in the diaspora and locals following months of protest against the dominance of French-language use in the bilingual country. The internet shutdown, which lasted a record 93 days, ended in April and was widely condemned by the national and international community. Quartz

Eastern Congo Rebels Aim to March on Kinshasa – Spokesman
A rebel spokesman in eastern Congo said on Friday that his movement intended to march across the country to the capital Kinshasa to depose President Joseph Kabila, who refused to quit power at the end of his mandate last year. Led by self-proclaimed ‘general’ William Yakutumba, the rebel force, calling itself the National People’s Coalition for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC), has emerged as one of the strongest groups in Democratic Republic of Congo’s lawless eastern borderlands since its formation in June. Analysts doubt that the CNPSC has the capacity to make a move on the capital. However it briefly captured some strategic towns in June and advanced this week to within a few kilometres of the city of Uvira along Lake Tanganyika, forcing U.N. helicopters to intervene to help Congolese troops drive them back. Congo has been beset by a wave of prison breaks, rebellions and lawlessness since Kabila’s refusal to step down in December. SABC

UN Deploys Peacekeepers after DRC Clash
U.N. peacekeepers have deployed to a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after clashes between armed groups and the Congolese army. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo, MONUSCO, said it sent troops to Uvira to protect civilians and deter any attack on the city, located near the Burundian border, on the northern end of Lake Tanganyika. A reporter for VOA’s French to Africa service said a militia known as the Mai Mai Yakutumba sent four motorboats filled with armed men over the lake to attack a bridge early Thursday. The head of the Uvira district, Sephanie Milenge Matundanya, said army troops drove the militiamen out of the city and several villages they had occupied. BBC

Congo Military Plane Crashes in Kinshasa, Killing 12 – Minister
A military cargo plane crashed in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa on Saturday, killing its 12 crew members, the defence minister said. “I confirm that a military aircraft crashed this morning,” said Defence Minister Crispin Atama Tabe. “All 12 members of the crew died.” According to an army officer who witnessed the incident, the cargo plane caught fire shortly after taking off from Kinshasa’s N‘djili Airport and crashed in a nearby reserve controlled by the military’s elite Republican Guard units. The officer, who asked not to be named, said that there were both Congolese and foreigners among the dead. An agent at Congo’s aviation agency, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the plane was an Antonov 12 destined for the eastern city of Bukavu. Reuters

US Adds Iran, Venezuela, DRC, Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan and Sudan to Trafficking List
The White House said on Saturday it had ordered that Iran, Venezuela and four African nations be added to a U.S. list of countries accused of failing to crack down on human trafficking, a step that further isolates them from the United States. […] Under a 2000 U.S. law called the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States does not provide nonhumanitarian, nontrade-related foreign assistance to any country that fails to comply with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking and is not making efforts to do so. The White House said in a notice that Iran, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Equatorial Guinea, South Sudan and Sudan had been added to the list of countries subject to these restrictions for the new fiscal year. VOA

Kiir Pushing for Elections in 2018 as Term Expires
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has started lobbying for elections to be held in 2018 despite unfavourable conditions. President Kiir is said to be fearing for his legitimacy once the term of the transitional government expires in February 2018. The August 2015 Peace agreement provides that the Transitional Government of National Unity would last for 30 months after which elections would be held. For the past one month, the South Sudan leader has been saying that he is consulting with other political leaders on the provisions of the transitional constitution to expedite the elections. This is despite the country being at war over the past four years, and the environment does not allow voter registration and voting because of increased insecurity. The East African

British Company Made Arms Deal with South Sudan, Amnesty Claims
Weapons exported to South Sudan in a deal allegedly brokered by a British company could be used against UK troops who have been deployed to the war-torn country as part of a UN mission, Amnesty International has warned. The Department for International Trade is investigating whether the deal, which has been brought to light by Amnesty International, constitutes a breach of British arms export controls. An EU arms embargo has been in force against South Sudan since its independence in 2011, while Britain has been one of the leading proponents for the establishment of a UN arms embargo. However, documents leaked to Amnesty name a British company registered to an address near Covent Garden in London, S-Profit Ltd, as being among the commercial players in what would constitute one of the largest single arms deals that South Sudan has entered into since the outbreak of major civil conflict in December 2013. The Guardian

Islamic State Regrouping in Libyan Desert, Experts Warn
As the Islamic State group faces military defeats in Syria and Iraq, the group is regrouping in war-torn Libya, hoping to re-emerge there and organize in the country’s desert, officials and experts warn. The head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Tripoli, Siddiq Al-Soor told reporters on Thursday that IS militants in the country were mostly operating through “a desert army” unit they set up after being pushed out of their stronghold of Sirte on the Mediterranean Sea last year. “Now they are being monitored in the territories south of Libya,” Al-Soor said during a news conference. Africa News

Libya Lists More Than 830 Wanted Jihadists
The Libyan attorney general said Thursday that arrest warrants have been issued for more than 830 suspected members of the Islamic State jihadist group in the north African country. Fifty other warrants will be delivered to Interpol for ISIS suspects abroad, Siddiq al-Sour told a news conference, adding that the list was compiled after questioning of suspected IS members in several Libyan towns. ISIS fighters have redeployed in the south of the country since the jihadist group was evicted from its bastion of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast last December after several months of heavy clashes. Sour said their leaders were Libyan nationals but the rank-and-file came from neighbouring Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan. AFP

Russia’s Man in Libya Turns to the Street in Bid to Take Power
In a vast square in Benghazi, a group of men is gathering signatures for a petition calling on their military hero to move beyond his eastern fiefdom and take control of all Libya. They sit behind tables flanked by a portrait of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, who’s dressed in a gray suit rather than his usual uniform and is surrounded by fawning supporters. Haftar controls more territory than any other Libyan leader and some major oil facilities. The Popular Authorization Movement for Saving the Country wants to propel him to Tripoli, seat of the rudderless United Nations-backed government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. The campaign says it has collected 700,000 names — more than a 10th of Libya’s people and a figure critics dismiss as an exaggeration — and is being seen as an attempt to give the controversial strongman popular legitimacy ahead of the December expiry of Serraj’s mandate. Libya’s fractured and militarized landscape means Haftar probably can’t take over by force, even with the support of allies Egypt and Russia. So he’s pushing his case another way at a time when the UN is starting out on a new peace plan. Bloomberg

A North Korean Ship Was Seized off Egypt with a Huge Cache of Weapons Destined for a Surprising Buyer
Last August, a secret message was passed from Washington to Cairo warning about a mysterious vessel steaming toward the Suez Canal. The bulk freighter named Jie Shun was flying Cambodian colors but had sailed from North Korea, the warning said, with a North Korean crew and an unknown cargo shrouded by heavy tarps. Armed with this tip, customs agents were waiting when the ship entered Egyptian waters. They swarmed the vessel and discovered, concealed under bins of iron ore, a cache of more than 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades. It was, as a United Nations report later concluded, the “largest seizure of ammunition in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” But who were the rockets for? The Jie Shun’s final secret would take months to resolve and would yield perhaps the biggest surprise of all: The buyers were the Egyptians themselves. The Washington Post

Turkey Sets up Largest Overseas Army Base in Somalia
Turkey has set up its biggest overseas military base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, increasing Ankara’s presence in the Horn of Africa country. Officially opened on Saturday, the base, which reportedly cost $50m, will train 10,000 Somali troops and has the capacity to train at least 1,500 soldiers at a time, according to Turkish and Somali officials. “This is the largest training base of its kind outside of Turkey,” Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s chief of General Staff, said at the ceremony. “The government of Turkey and its army will provide all the needed support to our brothers in Somalia,” Akar said. The base, spread over four square kilometres, has been under construction for the past two years. Al Jazeera

Tanzania Awards Turkish Firm 1.92 Bln USD Railway Deal
The government of Tanzania on Friday awarded a 1.92 billion U.S. dollars contract to a Turkish firm to construct a 336-kilometer standard gauge railway (SGR) line from Morogoro to Makutupora in the east African nation’s political capital Dodoma. State-run Reli Assets Holding Company Ltd (RAHCO) that oversees the construction of the SGR said the Turkish firm Yapi Merkezi Insaat VE Sanayi As was the appointed contractor on the project and will design and construct the high-speed electric railway line. Yapi Merkezi, a privately-owned Turkish contracting company, specializes in rail engineering, design, manufacture and construction. “Fifteen contractors bought bid documents, but after careful assessment of the bids, Yapi Merkezi met both the technical and financial requirements,” RAHCO said in a statement. Xinhua

Sudan Hosts Largest African Intelligence Conference
Sudan once a source of instability in Northern Africa is increasingly a source of regional stability. That was one of the themes of a major intelligence conference which concluded on Friday in Khartoum. The Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) is an annual gathering that began life in 2005 as a closed-door event for intelligence operatives which has grown to become the premier gathering of intelligence and security services in Africa. Representatives from the CIA as well as French and Saudi intelligence packed the Chinese- built Friendship Palace hall in downtown Khartoum for the conference. On Friday, Brig Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, the secretary-general of the National Intelligence and Security Services, who is also the current Chairperson of CISSA formally end his chairmanship in favor of the Sudan. During public remarks a day earlier, Nzabamwita expressed solidarity with Sudan’s efforts to have the US sanctions lifted. Al Arabiya

Anti-Government Chants Ring out on Anniversary of Ethiopian Festival Deaths
Hundreds of people chanting anti-government slogans marched in the central Ethiopian town of Bishoftu on Sunday at a religious festival where a stampede triggered by a police move to quell protests killed dozens of people last year. The incident during the annual Irreecha festival in Bishoftu, which lies 40 km (25 miles) south of the capital Addis Ababa, marked the bloodiest period in unrest that plagued the Horn of Africa country for months in 2015 and 2016. Authorities at the time said 55 had died in the stampede, while dissidents put the toll at around 150. On Sunday, thousands of people attended the thanksgiving event that marks the end of the rainy season, a majority clad in red, black and white attire – the Oromiya region’s flag. Although the lakeside event ended without any violence, anti-government slogans rang out soon after the ceremony began. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones