Africa Media Review for October 2, 2018

Suicide Bomb Targets Italian Army Trainers in Somali Capital
A suicide car bomber on Monday targeted a European Union military convoy carrying Italian military trainers in the Somali capital, a Somali police officer said. The car bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle next to a military convoy near Somalia’s defense ministry compound, injuring several soldiers, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein. One civilian was killed in the powerful blast, he said. Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the blast through its radio arm, Andalus. There was no immediate comment from the European Union on the attack on its military convoy. The Italian military trainers were reportedly trainings members of the Somali army.  AP

US Airstrike Kills 9 Al-Shabab Militants in Somalia
The U.S. military says it killed at least nine al-Shabab militants in an airstrike in southern Somalia that was conducted after an insurgent attack on government forces. A statement by the U.S. Africa Command said at least one al-Shabab militant was wounded in the airstrike, which was carried out in coordination with the Somali government on Monday, about 40 kilometers northeast of the southern city of Kismayo. “We currently assess no civilians were injured or killed in this air strike”, the statement said. The U.S. has conducted more than 20 such airstrikes in Somalia this year. Al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida, has been fighting since 2006 to overthrow the Somali government and turn the country into a strict Islamic state.  VOA

Anglophone Cameroon under Curfew Ahead of ‘Independence’ Anniversary
Cameroon imposed a 48-hour curfew on restive English-speaking regions a day before the one-year anniversary of a symbolic “independence” declaration by militant separatists, officials said Sunday. by Reinnier Kaze and Gregory Walton. The commemoration on Monday comes almost a week before a presidential poll that the militants have threatened to disrupt. “The movement of people between areas in the northwest is banned for a period of 48 hours from Sunday, September 30 until Monday, October 1,” said Adolphe Lele Lafrique, governor of the primarily English-speaking region. Similar measures were in force across Cameroon’s other anglophone areas, officials told AFP. Hundreds of civilians and dozens of security personnel are understood to have been killed in western parts of the majority French-speaking country this year.  AFP

More than 20 Tuaregs Killed in Mali: Sources
More than 20 Tuareg civilians were killed late last week in Mali’s restive frontier with Niger, security sources told AFP on Monday. “On Friday and Saturday at least 25 Tuareg civilians were killed in Amalaoulaou by armed men,” a local elected official told AFP. A security source and another local official confirmed the incident. The attackers came on motorcycles “and fired indiscriminately at residents, their faces hidden behind their turbans,” the first elected official said. A Malian security official said: “The assailants killed at least 25 civilians in a well-planned attack.” Another local official said the dead came from the same Tuareg clan and described the attackers as “jihadists”. AFP

Surge in Fighting among Libya’s ‘Super Militias’ Imperils Western Peace Efforts
The rise of “super militias,” which this month triggered the worst spasm of violence in the Libyan capital Tripoli in four years, has exposed the weakness of Western efforts to stabilize Libya while creating an opening for the Islamic State to resurrect itself in North Africa. Since late August, clashes between rival armed groups have shattered Tripoli. Rockets and heavy artillery have destroyed residential neighborhoods, forcing thousands of families to flee their homes. The violence has killed more than 115 and injured hundreds more, pushing the United Nations to declare a state of emergency in the capital. Another cease-fire was declared Wednesday. But few observers expect the violence to vanish while the militias’ long-standing rivalries and economic ambitions persist. Previous cease-fire agreements have repeatedly broken down. The recent violence is the starkest evidence yet of how the strategy adopted by the United Nations and Western powers after the ouster and death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi during the 2011 Arab Spring revolts has faltered. That strategy involved installing the Government of National Accord, a U.N.-endorsed interim authority, in 2016 as a way to bring peace and stability to the country.  The Washington Post

Forces of Libya’s East-Based Warlord Bombard Derna
Derna in eastern Libya has been the scene for fierce clashes since Sunday between Derna Protection Force and the self-styled army forces led by Khalifa Haftar. Eyewitnesses said clashes renewed in Wasit Al-Blad neighborhood, where Derna Protection Force fighters are still in control as Haftar’s forces continue to encircle them. They also said artillery shells were heard all over the city. Meanwhile, Brigade 303 of Haftar’s forces said it was targeting “terrorists” in the neighborhood, saying fighting grew intense since Monday morning as it advanced to end the presence of Derna Protection Force. Pro-Haftar social media pages posted footage showing tanks shelling Wasit Al-Blad neighborhood (Old Town) while some said that houses of displaced families were robbed by Haftar-Loyal forces. Libya Observer

Clashes Kill 20, Displace Thousands in Western Ethiopia
At least 20 people were killed and 60,000 displaced in ethnic clashes flaring since last week in the western region of Benishangul-Gumuz. A government official said the clashes occurred in the areas of Kamashi zone. “The number of the deceased could be much higher because some of the clashes occurred in far-off rural areas,” said Negeri Lencho, communication chief of Oromia state which borders the area of conflict, as quoted by Ethiopian Television in its late night bulletin. The clashes occurred after two officials of the Benishangul-Gumuz regional state were killed by unidentified gunmen, which government later said were armed men operating in the guise of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). The armed men then roamed around Kamashi zone killing people and destroying property, he said. Anadolu Agency

Ethiopia’s Challenge: Overcoming ‘Mafia’-Style Violence
Roving militias killing civilians. Prisoners stripped naked and rolled in hot ashes. “Mafia”-style murders and violence that forced more than a million people from their homes. That’s the legacy that Mustafa Omer, the new president of Ethiopia’s gas-rich Somali region in the east, will have to overcome following the ouster after 11 years of the previous administration. His success could prove a crucial bellwether for efforts to usher in political freedom and reform the powerful security services across the entire Horn of Africa nation. “The top leadership of the Somali region acted like hooligans for a long period of time: you had mafia-style leaders who were killing their own people,” Mustafa said in an interview. Now, after his predecessor Abdi Mohamoud Omar’s arrest, “the federal government wants to take reform into all regions, politically and security-wise.”  Bloomberg

South Sudan Opposition Alliance Ratifies Revitalized Peace Deal
The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), a consortium of several opposition entities, last Friday ratified the revitalized peace deal. Ratification of the new peace accord by the various parties is part of the Pre-Transitional activities. In a statement to Radio Tamazuj, NDM Leader Lam Akol Ajawin, said that the alliance ratified the signed peace deal in an extra-ordinary meeting held in Khartoum. For his part, SSOA Interim Chair Gabriel Changson Chang reiterated his group’s commitment to implement the revitalized peace agreement. The opposition umbrella is split between the faction that signed the final peace agreement and those who insist the deal failed to address their concerns.  Radio Tamazuj

Sudan Urges UN to Double South Sudan Regional Force
Sudan’s foreign minister is calling for implementation of the latest agreement to end the civil war in neighboring South Sudan and urging the U.N. Security Council to quickly approve doubling a regional protection force to monitor the accord. Eldirdiri Mohamed Ahmed told Monday’s final session of the General Assembly’s ministerial meeting that Sudan hopes rival leaders in South Sudan will “give peace a chance.” He said regional leaders have called for the regional protection force in South Sudan to be doubled from 4,000 to 8,000 soldiers — with Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Somalia contributing troops. Ahmed also cited “a real change in relations” between Sudan and South Sudan, including the possibility of resolving the Abyei border dispute and conflicts in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. AP

South Sudan Signs the 1951 Refugee Convention
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, today welcomes South Sudan’s accession to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. President Salva Kiir signed the accession instrument in Juba on Friday (September 28) after it was ratified by the Transitional National Legislative Assembly. South Sudan has become 143rd country to accede to both the 1951 Convention on Refugees and its 1967 Protocol. The country hosts some 300,000 refugees, despite all the challenges of civil war that has displaced a large number of its own population. “This is a milestone for the world’s youngest nation as South Sudan commits to assuming more responsibility to protect refugees and asylum-seekers in the country,” said Valentin Tapsoba, Director of UNHCR’s Regional Bureau for Africa. In 2016 the country also became a party to the 1969 Organisation of African Union Convention on Refugees, a regional instrument governing the specific aspects of refugee problems in the African continent. UNHCR

Namibian President Wants Land Expropriated to Boost Black Ownership
Namibia’s president called on Monday for a change to the constitution to allow the government to expropriate land and re-distribute it to the majority black population. “The willing-buyer willing-seller principle has not delivered results. Careful consideration should be given to expropriation,” President Hage Geingob said at the opening of the Second National Land Conference in the capital Windhoek. The southern African country wants to transfer 43 percent, or 15 million hectares (58,000 square miles) of its arable agricultural land, to previously disadvantaged blacks by 2020. At the end of 2015, 27 percent has been redistributed, according to the Namibia Agriculture Union. Reuters

UN Invites Western Sahara Parties for New Talks in December
The United Nations has invited Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania and the Polisario Front, a Western Sahara independence movement, for talks in Geneva on the conflict in the desert region next December, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Monday. U.N. efforts have repeatedly failed to broker a settlement over the territory, contested between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario since Spanish colonial power left in 1974. U.N. Special Envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler, has invited the foreign ministers of Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania as well as the secretary general of the Polisario Front for a meeting in Geneva, the spokeswoman said. Morocco has insisted that Algeria should be brought to the negotiation table accusing it of backing Polisario militarily and financially. Algeria denies the accusations.  VOA

Tunisia’s Political Deals: How New Power Bloc May Shift Government Balance
Tunisia’s parliament reconvenes on Monday, with the government alliance weakened and a new power bloc emerging. Last week President Caid Essebsi signalled an end of the alliance between his secular Nidaa Tounes party and the Islamist Ennahda, which has lasted for four years. Tunisia is regarded as the only successful democracy that emerged out of the Arab Spring: analysts say much of this is because diverse parties were able to agree a progressive constitution in 2014, then set up an inclusive governing coalition. The current political crisis began when Hafedh Caid Essebsi, son of the president and the leader of Nidaa Tounes, suspended the party membership of prime minister Youssef Chahed and called for his resignation.  Middle East Eye

Insurgents’ Attacks Lead to Food Shortage in Northern Mozambique: Report
Sporadic attacks by insurgents in the northern province Cabo Delgado in Mozambique combined with the El Nino phenomenon have caused food shortages, according to a report released Monday here by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. The report said that recent attacks in Cabo Delgado potentially increase the displacement of people, who were forced to abandon their land and move to safer areas, and the most vulnerable households are withdrawing children from school. “If more households are unable to access food and engage in agricultural activities, food security outcomes can deteriorate,” said the report. According to the report, the Mozambican government in coordination with the World Food Program (WFP) provides humanitarian assistance to the returning refugees, however, food assistance is insufficient to meet total needs and improve the situation soon.  Xinhua

Nigerian Umbrella Trade Union Suspends Nationwide Strike
A Nigerian umbrella trade union suspended a nationwide strike on its fourth day on Sunday, after the government agreed to hold a meeting to discuss increasing the minimum wage, a union official said. “The general strike has been suspended, not called off,” said Chris Uyot, deputy secretary general of the Nigerian Labour Congress. A meeting with the government will be held on Oct. 4-5, the union said in a letter to members. Unions want the monthly minimum wage raised to about 50,000 naira ($164) from 18,000 naira. The strike began on Thursday after talks between President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and unions had broken down. In the letter, the NLC said the meeting was as a result of “united and sustained action”, adding that the suspension was part of an attempt to provide a “conducive atmosphere” for the talks to reach a satisfactory conclusion.  Reuters

US to Help Angola Repatriate Cash
The US has pledged to help Angola repatriation cash stashed abroad, the southern African country’s Foreign minister confirmed. The state-owned Jornal de Angola quoted Mr Manuel Augusto as saying that he had contacts with the US State Department to repatriate the stolen money and support Angola with other reforms. “As far as cash repatriation is concerned, American financial authorities have possibilities to help us and they are willing to do so,” he was quoted. The Angolan government in February issued a 180-day ultimatum to all its nationals to repatriate their money from foreign accounts, a deadline that was published in the official Gazette. The East African

Come Home and Sell the Coffee: Burundi Insists Crisis Is Over
The crisis is over: now dig some mines and grow some coffee. That’s the message from Burundi’s government as it seeks to draw a line under three years of deadly political upheaval, touting plans for a mining- and agriculture-led economic resurgence and a vote for a successor to President Pierre Nkurunziza. More than a quarter of a million refugees may beg to differ. As the tiny East African country tries to entice them home, a United Nations commission has warned government loyalists are still allegedly torturing and killing suspected dissidents, and the mainly exiled opposition says the roots of the unrest that’s claimed in excess of a thousand lives haven’t been addressed. Portraying Burundi as stable is the government’s attempt to “deflect reports of human-rights abuses” and restore the flow of aid that’s “important to help the economy start running again,” said Richard Moncrieff, a regional project director at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones