Africa Media Review for October 20, 2016

DR Congo’s Bemba Found Guilty at ICC of Witness Bribing
Bemba was found guilty earlier this year of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and jailed for 18 years. On Wednesday he was convicted of corruptly influencing witnesses and falsifying evidence in that trial. Four close aides were also found guilty. It is the first such corruption trial in the history of the ICC in The Hague. The court heard that Bemba had masterminded a witness corruption network from inside his prison cell during his original trial. His team used secret phones and coded language to bribe, coach and manipulate at least 14 key witnesses who came to give evidence. BBC

Boko Haram Razes Village Near Chibok, Locals Say
Boko Haram has burnt down a village neighbouring the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok where the group kidnapped over 200 schoolgirls two years ago, local residents said on Wednesday. A group of Boko Haram gunmen invaded Goptari, 10km from Chibok, late on Tuesday and set it on fire after looting food supplies and livestock. The attack underscores the continued threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria’s volatile northeast, where the military is still battling for control despite making gains against the insurgents over the past year. “They attacked the village around 8:00 pm, firing heavy guns which made people flee into the bush,” Samson Bulus from nearby Kautikeri village told AFP. News 24

How a Terrorist Group Set Off a Famine, Affecting Thousands of Families
The famine killing thousands of children in northeastern Nigeria is forcing parents to take drastic measures, and aid workers fear the death toll will continue to spiral upward. The famine is the product of Boko Haram’s scorched-earth attacks, which stopped farmers from planting, fishermen from casting their nets and traders from plying their goods. But aid from the Nigerian government and the international community only recently began to increase for a population that, already struggling with chronic malnutrition, has been tipped into starvation by the crisis. Also, there have been allegations that food meant for desperate families has been stolen in recent months, one reason food parcels do not always arrive at aid stations and camps. At least 65,000 people are in famine in Nigeria, according to aid experts, and 2.5 million children are malnourished. LA Times

South Sudan President Sets to Further Increase Number of States
South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, will soon issue another controversial order to increase the number of states from 28 states to undisclosed number, according to his second deputy and longtime ally. Speaking after Tuesday’s meeting, Vice President, James Wani Igga, flanked by the controversially newly appointed First Vice President, Taban Deng Gai, said the presidency has agreed to increase the number of states but will soon start with the issue of Malakal and Lol state as the first priority. Malakal, is a contested capital between West Nile and East Nile states, but which was given to the East Nile by the presidential decree in October last year. Lol is another controversial state in Bahr el Ghazal region. Sudan Tribune

UN Peacekeeping Chief Pleads for S Sudan Arms Embargo
The United Nations peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous is pleading with the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan where he expects an upsurge in fighting with the coming end of the rainy season. Ladsous told reporters that he had made his appeal directly to the council during a closed-door meeting on Monday. “I think an arms embargo should happen now and that’s even very late,” Ladsous told reporters on Tuesday. “The rainy season is coming to a close and that has frequently been the time of the year when people go back to military operations.” News 24

Somali Intelligence ‘Detain Journalists’
A journalists’ labor union in Somalia said Wednesday an al-Jazeera reporter was among four people detained en route to Mogadishu by Somali intelligence. Mohamed Ibrahim Mo’alimu of the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) told Anadolu Agency the Somali National Intelligence and Security Agency, NISA, arrested Hamza Mohamed plus a photographer, fixer and driver on Wednesday morning. The group was detained while heading to Mogadishu from Jowhar in the Middle Shabelle region. NISA does not comment on arrests and no reason has been given for the group’s detention. Anadolu Agency

Rights of 12M Displaced People in Africa ‘Ignored’
The rights of Africa’s 12 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are often ignored and their demands are left unmet, International Committee of the Red Cross President Peter Maurer said in a new report released Wednesday. Maurer presented the report to the African Union Peace and Security Council, which focused on the implementation of the Kampala treaty – an African Union treaty signed in 2009 to protect the IDPs and provide them access to humanitarian services. He noted that armed conflict had been one of the major causes of internal displacement in Africa. Anadolu Agency

As Egypt’s Economy Struggles, Calls for Protests Against Sissi Grow Louder
Egypt’s economic and social inequalities helped ignite the populist revolts that toppled President Hosni Mubarak five years ago. Now the economy is on the skids again, as discontentment rises in the Arab world’s most populous nation. Food shortages are widespread and prices are soaring. More people are living in poverty and unemployment remains high, especially among the nation’s disenchanted youth. There is a currency crisis, and investor confidence is flagging despite billions of dollars in aid and investments from Persian Gulf nations. “We cannot find sugar, rice and many other items,” said Ahmad Soliman, a 31-year-old shoemaker. “And when we find them, we cannot afford the prices. So we don’t buy as much as we used to do.” “The more the pressure is,” he added, “the stronger the outburst will be.” Whether Egypt’s deepening economic problems trigger another social upheaval remains to be seen. What’s palpable is the frustration directed at President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi’s government from all corners of society. The turmoil is affecting not only the poor, but also the middle class, and to some extent, even the wealthy. The Washington Post

Cautious Optimism as Latest Analysis Shows Reduction of Maritime Crime Across Traditional Hot Spots
The Gulf of Guinea, south-east Asia and the Indian Ocean High Risk Area (HRA) have all seen a significant reduction of reported maritime crime throughout July, August and September of this year according to the latest Q3 analysis released by Dryad Maritime. With the exception of the Sulu Sea, incidents of maritime crime in south-east Asia are at the lowest since 2009 and i the Indian Ocean HRA there were no confirmed acts of piracy in Q3, with the last recorded incident of piracy reported on a merchant vessel in 2014. In the Gulf of Guinea and in Nigeria’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) there has been a decrease in the frequency of attacks with just four attacks against commercial shipping at sea off the Niger Delta since early July, this compares to 36 in the first six months of the year. DefenceWeb

“No More Mr. Nice Guy”: EU Gets Tough on African Migrants
Encouraged by their success in halting a mass influx of refugees by closing Greek borders and cutting a controversial deal with Turkey, EU leaders are getting tough on African migrants too. A Brussels summit on Thursday will endorse pilot projects to pressure African governments via aid budgets to slow an exodus of people north across the Sahara and Mediterranean. It also wants swift results from an EU campaign to deport large numbers who reach Italy. “By the end of the year, we need to see results,” one senior EU diplomat said on Wednesday. Arrivals in Italy so far this year are nearly six percent higher than the same period of 2015. Italy received 154,000 migrants last year and this year’s figure will be similar or slightly higher. Reuters

France Says Ready to Keep Troops in W.Africa for as Long as Needed
France appeared on Wednesday to accept that it would need to keep thousands of troops in Africa’s Sahel region for an indefinite period given the ongoing instability and preponderance of Islamist militants. The region, a politically fragile area whose remote desert spaces spanning from Mauritania in the west to Sudan in the east host a medley of jihadist groups, is seen as vulnerable to further attacks after strikes on soft targets in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast earlier this year. That has been brought further to light after a spike in violence in northern Mali, where France intervened three years ago to drive out al Qaeda-linked militants who hijacked a rebellion in 2012 by ethnic Tuaregs and attempted to take control of the central government in Bamako. Reuters

France to Invest $47 Mln in Sahel Counter-terror Training
France plans to invest 42 million euros ($47 million) to help countries of Africa’s Sahel region prepare to face extremists attacks similar to those that killed dozens in Paris in 2015, an interior ministry official said on Friday. The Sahel, a politically fragile region whose remote desert spaces host a medley of extremists groups, is seen as vulnerable to further attacks after strikes on soft targets in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast earlier this year. Nearby Senegal, a Western security partner with a long history of stability, has so far been spared. “In future we will train all the countries of the G5 Sahel and Senegal with 42 million Euros in financing, including 24 million Euros for equipment,” said a spokeswoman for Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve during his visit to Dakar on Friday. Al Arabiya

Mauritania Stifling Jailed Anti-slavery Activists – U.N. Experts
U.N. human rights officials accused the Mauritanian government on Wednesday of stifling anti-slavery campaigners jailed for up to 15 years for their alleged role in protests against forced eviction in the capital. The West African country jailed 13 members of the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) in August for taking part in protests by residents of a slum in Nouakchott in June, many of whom were former slaves. The activists said they were not present at the protests and that the trial was an attempt by the state to discredit the IRA. “The government is hostile to civil society groups that criticise its policies, especially to groups like IRA, whose members are drawn from the Haratin minority and advocate for an end to slavery,” seven U.N. special rapporteurs said in a statement. Reuters

Is Kenya Failing Repentant Militants? (Video)
Kenya’s deradicalisation efforts are deepening the problem, according to former militants. The government has tried everything from brute force to amnesty programmes. BBC

Burundi’s Withdrawal from ICC Could Tempt Others
President Pierre Nkurunziza signed into law legislation making his country the first to withdraw from the ICC. This could have a major impact on the court’s relationship with other African countries. Nkurunziza approved the law after it won overwhelming backing from lawmakers last week. Burundi’s decision to quit the ICC follows a bitter dispute with the international community over the human rights situation in the country. More than a year of deadly violence has followed Nkurunziza’s controversial decision to pursue a third term, which some have called unconstitutional. Mark Ellis Executive Director of the International Bar Association told DW the decision is ‘unfortunate’. Deutsche Welle

Morocco King Seeks Support for AU Bid in East Africa
Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Wednesday began a tour of east Africa to shore up support for a historic bid to rejoin the African Union after more than three decades. The visit, kicking off in Rwanda and set to take in Tanzania and Ethiopia, also aims to forge diplomatic and economic ties with a region largely ignored by the north African country up until now. “We have never had any presence, neither diplomatic nor economic, nor cultural, nor historic, with east Africa,” a high-ranking member of the king’s delegation told AFP on condition of anonymity. France 24

World Bank Warns Libya Faces Economic Collapse
The report, titled “Libya’s Economic Outlook – October 2016” suggested that Libya’s lack of exploitation of its main resource, oil, is partially to blame for the country’s economic problems. Libya also faces inflation and trade deficit issues, as well as political instability due to the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi five years ago. “With oil production just a fifth of potential, revenues have plummeted, pushing fiscal and current account deficits to record highs. With the dinar (Libya’s currency) rapidly losing value, inflation has accelerated, further eroding real incomes,” the report said. Deutsche Welle

Somaliland Hopes Brexit Will Pave Way for UK to Grant International Recognition
Britain’s looming departure from the EU may be a fraught issue at home, yet in one corner of the Horn of Africa hopes are harboured of a very definite Brexit dividend. The government of Somaliland believes the impending split marks a pivotal moment, one that will free the UK to grant the self-declared state the international recognition it has been seeking for more than 25 years. “I think Brexit will make it much easier for the British government to make up its mind,” said Somaliland’s foreign minister, Dr Saad Ali Shire. “Under the EU, all the members have to abide by the EU policy regarding Somaliland. Britain did not have much leeway to make up its own mind. Being out of the EU [means] they can do whatever they want. I think it’s good for us. I think they will have the flexibility in their foreign policy.” The Guardian

The Mystery of Africa’s Disappearing Presidents
President Peter Mutharika returned to Malawi on Sunday Oct. 16, just as he’d promised. Mutharika left to attend the United Nations General Assembly mid-September and just didn’t come back. His cagey communications team would not divulge the leader’s itinerary, sparking rumors that he’d died, and the hilarious hashtag #BringBackMutharika. Mutharika is the latest African president to disappear without a word to his people. Communication between leaders and their constituents often grow quieter after elections. Poor public relations are a signal of the lack of accountability and transparency displayed by many African leaders. Mutharika’s jaunt in New York had nothing on Cameroonian’s president Paul Biya’s spontaneous stays at European hotels. In 2009, his three-week holiday in La Baule, southern France cost $40,000 a day. Quartz

Even One of the World’s Richest Airlines May Not Be Able to Operate in Nigeria for Much Longer
For much of the past year, airlines have been caught in the cross hairs of Nigeria’s contracting economy. With foreign reserves depleted due to lower oil prices, Nigeria adopted tight currency controls, making it difficult for foreign airlines to repatriate dollar profits. In May, United Airlines cancelled its flights to Nigeria and now, Emirates airlines could be thinking about following suit. Despite adopting workaround measures, including refueling in Ghana and cutting its twice-daily flights to Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria’s main aviation hubs, Emirates may be considering whether to completely pull out of Nigeria, one of its main African markets. The airline, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is a unit of the Emirates Group, which is owned by the government of Dubai’s Investment Corporation of Dubai. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones