Africa Media Review for October 24, 2016

Officers: 83 Nigerian Soldiers Missing in Boko Haram Attack
Some 83 Nigerian soldiers are missing in action since Boko Haram Islamic extremists attacked a remote military base in the northeast, senior army officers said Sunday. The soldiers were unable to fight back and fled because Boko Haram had superior fire power, the officers told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to give information to reporters. Morale also was low among the troops because they were being rationed to one meal a day and their allowances were being pilfered by their commanders, the officers said. Army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman reported last week that “some” soldiers were missing and 13 wounded when the insurgents on Oct. 17 attacked their base in Gashigar village, on the border with Niger. Usman has not responded to requests for the actual number. AP on ABC News

2nd Nigerian Ex-minister Arrested over $2.1B Graft Case
Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency on Friday arrested another former government minister in connection with a $2.1 billion corruption case. Former aviation minister Femi Fani-Kayode was arrested at around 1.55 p.m. local time (1255GMT) outside a court building in Ikoyi, Lagos State. On Monday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arrested Musliliu Obanikoro, who was a defense minister in the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The EFCC is investigating the misappropriation of $2.1 billion earmarked for the fight against Boko Haram, part of the alleged theft of $6.8 billion of public funds by senior officials in Jonathan’s administration and the People’s Democratic Party. Anadolu Agency

At Least 600 Taken to Hospital after 70 Killed in Cameroon Train Derailment
Authorities in Cameroon rushed more than 600 injured people to hospitals in the country’s two main cities on Saturday a day after an overcrowded train derailed, killing more than 70 people. Bodies remained strewn along the tracks at Eseka, which is about 75 miles west of Yaoundé, as rescue workers searched for more injured or dead. The injured were being taken to hospitals in the capital, Yaoundé, and the port city where the train was heading, Douala, officials said, as the president declared Monday to be a national day of mourning. The Guardian

Somalia’s Shabaab Seize Third Town this Month after Peacekeepers Withdraw
Islamist militant group al Shabaab on Sunday seized control of yet another town in central Somalia after it was abandoned by African Union peacekeepers, a militant spokesman and a local official said, the third to fall to insurgents this month. On Sunday, an Ethiopian contingent abandoned the town of Halgan in the Hiran region, allowing the group’s fighters to enter soon after, said Abdiasis Abu Musab, al Shabaab’s spokesman on military operations. A military offensive launched in 2014 by AU forces and the Somali army pushed out of major strategic centres, but the insurgents, who once held sway over much of the Horn of Africa country, still control some settlements and rural areas. Reuters

Somali Pirates Release 26 Foreign Crew Held for Nearly Five Years
Somali pirates Saturday released 26 sailors who were captured during a ship hijacking nearly five years ago, bringing to an end one of the longest-running hostage taking cases in the country, officials said. Sources close to the pirates told a VOA reporter in the region that hostages were released after their captors were paid a $2 million ransom, a claim repeated by one pirate in an interview with a local media outlet. “We have freed the crew after the agreed ransom of $2 million was paid,” a pirate who identified himself as Omar Nur told a local radio station by telephone. VOA

Burkina Faso: Coup Attempt Thwarted, Says Government
Security officials in Burkina Faso said they had foiled another coup plot in the West African nation and blamed it on former presidential guards. The government said on Friday that it thwarted a “vast conspiracy” by forces loyal to ousted leader Blaise Compaore that aimed to seize power. About 30 men from the former president’s security unit plotted to free prisoners who were part of a September 2015 coup attempt and then attack the presidential palace, said Interior Minister Simon Compaore. A local news website, Koaci.com, quoted the minister as saying the coup plotters also intended to target the headquarters of the gendarmerie in the capital, Ouagadougou, in addition to the detention centre where leaders of a failed coup attempt last year were being held. Al Jazeera

Little-known Group Claims It Killed Senior Egyptian Army Officer
A little-known Egyptian group has claimed responsibility for the killing of a senior Egyptian army officer outside his suburban Cairo home. The claim came in a statement by the Banner of the Revolution on social media accounts known to be sympathetic to militant groups. The claim’s authenticity could not be immediately verified. Brig Gen Adel Ragai was the commander of the army 9th armoured division headquartered in the sprawling military base of Dahshour, near Cairo. He had recently served in the northern part of the Sinai peninsula, where security forces have been fighting Islamic militants for years. The unit was also responsible for destroying smuggling tunnels running between the Sinai and the Gaza Strip, according to reports. The Guardian

Egyptians Losing Patience with Sisi as Economy Deteriorates
A cartoon which appeared on social media shows a drowning Egyptian, only his hand protruding from the depths, waving for help. The next strips show President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi diving in, taking the drowning man’s watch and turning away. The cartoon captures the mood of desperation and anger among Egyptians clobbered by tax rises, soaring food price inflation and cuts in state subsidies. Some fear a repeat of the mass street protests that drove Sisi’s two immediate predecessors from power. Core inflation is at seven-year-highs, near 14 percent, as a foreign exchange shortage and a hike in customs duties bite hard in a country that imports everything from sugar to luxury cars. Reuters

Algeria’s Ruling FLN Party Chief Steps Down
The long-standing chief of Algeria’s ruling FLN party Amar Saadani has resigned just weeks after making accusations that a retired spy chief and a former prime minister had been French agents. Saadani, a close ally of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has often been critical of opponents, but analysts said he crossed a line when he openly criticized veterans of the independence war against France. Algeria is mostly still run by a generation of older politicians involved in the war of independence against France, including Bouteflika. And the FLN or Front de Liberation Nationale has dominated Algeria’s politics since independence in 1962. “I am resigning because of health problems,” Saadani told FLN members during a meeting on Saturday, which was broadcast on local television. Reuters

USS San Antonio to Begin Airstrikes on ISIS in Libya
The amphibious transport dock San Antonio has moved into the Mediterranean to replace the amphibious assault ship Wasp in conducting airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Libya. U.S. Africa Command announced Friday that the San Antonio would conduct a relief in place with the Wasp to allow the mission to continue. An AfriCom spokesman, Charles Prichard, told Military.com the San Antonio would contribute UH-1Y Huey Venoms and AH-1W SuperCobras from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s aviation combat unit, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (reinforced). Notably, the San Antonio is not equipped with AV-8B Harriers, which had been the primary strike asset for the Wasp. Military.com

Italian Coastguard Rescues Thousands of Refugees
The coastguard coordinated 20 rescue operations over the weekend, intercepting about 2,400 people. Around 3,300 more migrants disembarked in five different ports in Sicily over the two days, the ANSA news agency reported. Rescue workers also saved over 460 migrants who arrived in Naples on Sunday, but it was not clear if those rescued had been accounted for in prior counts, local interior minister Gerarda Pantalone told reporters. “I’ve never had a SAR [Search and Rescue] like it. We were in the process of transferring 1,000 migrants from the Okyroe [tanker] to the Siem Pilot when suddenly, in the dark, rubber boats appeared. It looked hopeless,” Pal Erik Teigen, the police officer in charge of the rescue operation, told reporters on Sunday. Deutsche Welle

Former Defence Official Wants Kiir and Machar Out
A former Deputy Defence Minister in the government of South Sudan has warned that the country could disintegrate into ethnic enclaves if President Salva Kiir and his former deputy in government and party turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, do not step aside. Majak Agot, who in 2013 was arrested for allegedly instigating fighting in the capital Juba, claimed that both Kiir and Machar were responsible for the state of anarchy in the country. The former official, according to IBTimes UK, asserted that peace can only be achieved in the country only if both President Kiir and rebel leader, Machar, are excluded from the political process in South Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Rebels Suspend Peace Talks after Chemical Attack Claims
A prominent Sudanese rebel group said on Friday it was suspending peace talks with Khartoum after a rights group accused government forces of using chemical weapons against civilians in war-torn Darfur. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North, which is fighting government troops in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, this summer signed a roadmap brokered by African mediators to end conflict in the two states. But on Friday the SPLM-N said it would suspend talks with Khartoum after Amnesty International accused government forces of unleashing chemical weapons on civilians in Darfur state this year, killing up to 250 people. VOA

Sudan Signs Accord, US Eases Sanctions
The Sudanese uprising of 2013 in which about 100 people were killed by security forces prompted deep reflections within the ruling elite on how to prevent a recurrence. The one-month deadly riots — that came to be known as Sudanese Intifada — spread to the cities of Khartoum, Omdurman, Port Sudan, El Obeid and other towns, not only challenging President Omar al-Bashir’s then 24-year rule, but also exposing Sudan to further international scrutiny in addition to the indictment by the International Criminal Court over atrocities in Darfur. The September-October riots were direct results of the secession of South Sudan in July 2011 that took with it 75 per cent of the oil wells and left the former north with a severe shortage of dollars to pay for imports. The East African

South Africa: ANC Chief Whip Urges Jacob Zuma to Quit
The chief whip of South Africa’s governing political party has called on its entire leadership – including President Jacob Zuma – to step down. Jackson Mthembu said fraud charges against the finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, were politically motivated. He said the current government was worse than the apartheid state. The ANC, which liberated South Africa from white minority rule in 1994, suffered its worst ever electoral performance in August. Mr Mthembu said he excluded no-one in the leadership from his call for resignations – not even himself. BBC

S. Africa Opposition to Legally Challenge Government’s ICC Withdrawal Decision
South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) plans to petition the Constitutional Court Monday to challenge the government’s decision to withdraw the country’s membership to the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC). This, after Justice Minister Michael Musutha said the government will present a motion to parliament for legislators to repeal the country’s signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC. On Friday, South Africa officially notified the United Nations that it wants to withdraw from the ICC. But parliamentarian James Selfe, a leading member of the DA’s legal affairs group says President Jacob Zuma’s government constitutionally erred in its approach to the United Nations before seeking approval from the South African parliament. VOA

Anti-terror Efforts at Risk as Ethiopia Quells Protest at Home
Ethiopia could be headed for largescale ethnic strife that would have negative repercussions to the region despite the state of emergency and top government officials saying the grievances are being addressed. Thousands of ethnic Tigrayans belonging to the ruling class are being evicted in the northwestern Amhara region in the protests that began in November 2015 in Oromiya region over land boundaries. The protests have assumed a political dimension and are spreading to Amhara region. The biggest concern is that Ethiopia’s instability will kill counter terrorism programmes against al-Shabaab. The country is not only a major player in the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), but the leading Western ally in the war against terror in The Horn. The East African

Besigye to address UN Rights Council in Geneva
Ugandan politician Dr Kizza Besigye has again travelled abroad two weeks after his return from a month long stay in the UK. His travel to the West last Monday points to growing international stature for the four-time presidential challenger who, just five years ago, was viewed as a sour loser by the diplomatic corps in Kampala. Dr Besigye is scheduled to have meetings with the World Bank which recently withheld new lending worth about $1.5 billion (Ush5 trillion) to Uganda effective August 22. The Bank’s suspension, some analysts say, has the potential to cause a snowball effect on other lenders. Early this month, a team from the Ministry of Finance was in Washington DC to plead with the Bank to reverse its decision in order to forestall any spillover effects. Kampala is currently in the grip of a struggling economy, strained by post-election spending. The East African

Mozambique Army Destroys Renamo Bases as Talks Continue
Security forces in Mozambique have revealed that they have devised a strategy to “knock out” opposition National Resistance Movement rebels from their bases.  Spokesperson for the General Command of the Mozambican police Inacio Dina disclosed the strategy after government forces dismantled two bases of the Renamo rebels in Zambezia and Nampula provinces this week. According to Dina, government forces have now started to launch attacks on the rebel bases instead of simply defending civilians and conducting military escorts of convoys as was the case in the past. News 24

West Africa Is Being Swallowed by the Sea
Twenty years ago, Fuvemeh was a thriving community of 2,500 people, supported by fishing and coconut plantations that are now completely underwater. But in the past two decades, climate change and industrial activity — such as sand mining and the construction of dams and deep-sea ports, which trap sediments and prevent them from reaching the coastline — have accelerated coastal erosion here. Gradually but inexorably, the ocean has swallowed up hundreds of feet of coastline, drowning the coconut plantations and eventually sweeping away houses. For a time, villagers retreated, rebuilding destroyed houses farther away from the advancing shoreline. But eventually they ran out of land to fall back on: The narrow peninsula is now less than 1,000 feet across, and high tides routinely wash over the entire sandy expanse.  Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones