Africa Media Review for October 26, 2018

Homes, Villages Burned as Cameroon Targets Separatists 
Some of the thousands of people who fled the volatile English-speaking regions of Cameroon before the Oct. 7 presidential election have returned home to find that their houses and villages have been burned to the ground. Separatists pushing for an English-speaking state had vowed to prevent any voting in northwestern and southwestern Cameroon, and they attacked many polling places on election day. Christa Banla, 18, fled her village of Ngarum for a town in a French-speaking area. After incumbent President Paul Biya was declared winner of the election, she decided to go back to her village, thinking that peace had returned. Instead, she found her home had been torched. The military had attacked the village and other areas where they believed armed separatists were hiding or holding training camps.  VOA

Fighting between Cameroon Military, Separatists Kills ‘Many’
Cameroon’s military on Thursday said “many have been killed” in fighting with Anglophone separatists after launching attacks the day after President Paul Biya was declared the winner of a seventh term. Biya has called the separatists “terrorists,” and fighting since last year has killed hundreds of people. The military launched simultaneous attacks on Tuesday against at least seven suspected training grounds in the Northwest region, with fighting reported in villages in Bui, Mezam, Donga Mantung and Ngoketungia administrative areas, authorities and residents said. An Associated Press reporter saw at least 18 corpses. Ngarum resident Tata Leslie said he counted 15 dead. “The military attacked on the early hours of Tuesday and the fighting continued for over 24 hours,” he said.  AP

South Sudan Peace Deal Bumpy as Rebel Leader Doesn’t Return
South Sudan’s government is spending millions of dollars next week to celebrate a “final final” peace deal to end a five-year civil war. One problem: The rebel leader who agreed to share power is reluctant to come home. Riek Machar’s hesitation amid security concerns is the latest sign that one of Africa’s deadliest conflicts might be merely on pause. Worried observers can list several more: Key implementation deadlines have not been met. Cease-fire violations continue amid shocking abuses. And detainees who should have been freed remain behind bars. “There’s been no indication that the peace deal’s been working,” said Denay J. Chagor, chairman of South Sudan’s United Movement opposition party, who helped negotiate the peace talks. He told The Associated Press it looks unlikely that Machar and President Salva Kiir, whose previous attempts at sharing power have erupted in gunfire, will ever work together again despite their recent handshakes. AP

South Sudan Frees Five Political Detainees-Intelligence Agency
South Sudan freed five political detainees and prisoners of war on Thursday, although none appeared to be senior rebel officials, a category of captive whose release is required by a peace deal signed last month. South Sudan plunged into war two years after independence from Sudan in 2011 when a dispute between Kiir and then vice-president Riek Machar erupted into armed confrontation. More than 50,000 people have been killed in the violence, and more than two million have been forced to flee their homes. On Thursday in Juba, a National Security official who did not give his name told reporters that the release of the prisoners was in line with the peace deal signed in September in the Ethiopian capital.  Reuters

I Am Ready to Face the ICC, Kiir Says
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir said he is ready to face the International Criminal Court (ICC) if called upon to answer charges of war crimes committed during the civil war. A recent report published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimates that at least 382,900 people have died as a result of the country’s five-year civil war. President Kiir said in an interview with Citizen TV’s Jeff Koinange in Juba on Wednesday. Kiir said he is not an obstacle to peace and that he believes the peace deal between his government and opposition groups would not collapse. Radio Tamazuj

AU Force Says Key Al-Shabab Commander Killed 
A “chief finance controller” for the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group has been killed in an ambush on a meeting of its fighters in southern Somalia, the African Union peacekeeping mission announced Thursday. The unnamed commander, the head of tax collection in Lower Shabelle region, was killed Monday in Bariire, the AU mission said. The extremist group funds its deadly activities by taxing the communities under its control. It also collects taxes on millions of bags of charcoal that make their way out of the country despite a ban on the exports, according to the latest report by U.N. sanctions monitors. Another seven al-Shabab fighters were killed Sunday when their attack on a forward operating base was “botched,” the AU mission said.  VOA

Somalia: CIC Summit in Garowe Wraps Up with Big Decisions
The fourth conference of Somalia’s Council of Inter-state cooperation [CIC] held in Garowe, the capital city of Puntland state was wrapped up on Thursday, Garowe Online reports. The five-day summit has brought together Puntland, Galmudug, Southwest and Jubbaland leaders, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas, Ahmed Dualle Geelle Haaf, Sharif Hassan, and Ahmed Madobe respectively. The CIC heads and participants at the meeting have discussed key issues, including security, political and social issues and finally released a joint communique seen to be critical of the Federal Government of Somalia plans. They made tough decisions, with the formation of “Interstate security council” a new political party [National Progressive Party] and joint integrated security force drawn from the four regional states’ Darwish under one command. Each of the Federal State has agreed to contribute 1,000 soldiers to the new Inter-state forces who will be integrated and trained within two months, with the aim to set up a united front against the terrorists. Garowe Online

As Congo Rolls toward Election, Voting Machines a Flashpoint
A deadly Ebola outbreak grows. Rebels kill civilians in the streets. And yet the arrival of voting machines in this troubled corner of Congo has some especially worried as a long-delayed presidential election promises further upheaval. The machines now arriving by the thousands in this Central African nation are of such concern that the U.N. Security Council has come calling, the United States has issued warnings and opposition supporters on Friday plan a national protest. As Congo faces what could be its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power, fears are high that the more than 100,000 voting machines will be ripe for manipulation. They also could pose a technical nightmare in a sprawling nation of more than 40 million voters where infrastructure is dodgy — just 9 percent of Congo has electricity — and dozens of rebel groups are active. “We cannot accept people inventing stories that trample our constitution,” said Clovis Mutsuva, a Beni resident with the LUCHA activist organization, which has tweaked the French term “machines a voter” into “machines a voler,” or “machines to steal.”  AP

Three Days of Violence That Emptied Angolan Town of Congolese
Residents of Kapende, a Congolese neighborhood in the Angolan town of Lucapa, scrawled messages on their homes to keep the looters away, but it did not work. “Occupied,” “do not enter,” “home of an Angolan” — the writing remains visible on the wrecked houses belonging to Congolese who have gone home as Angola has clamped down on illegal diamond mines and the migrants who worked them. The destruction in Kapende, where no house remains occupied or intact, marked the culmination of three days of violence in Lucapa, a sprawling mining town in the northeast surrounded by some of the world’s richest diamond fields. About 300,000 Congolese have fled Angola in the last few weeks, many of them in response to the violence in Lucapa at the beginning of October.  VOA

Khartoum Lifts Year-Old Embargo on Egyptian Commodities
Sudan has lifted its embargo on Egyptian goods, President Omar al-Bashir said Thursday during a visit to Khartoum by Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.  Addressing a joint press conference, al-Bashir confirmed that he had issued a presidential decree officially ending the one-year-old embargo.  “I have just issued a presidential decree lifting the embargo on Egyptian commodities as part of our efforts to enhance bilateral relations and encourage the movement of goods,” al-Bashir told reporters.  Sudan’s embargo on Egyptian commodities first came into effect in May of last year.   Anadolu Agency

Algeria: Online Rights Group Says News Site Creator Arrested
A French association of digital freedom and anti-censorship groups says its correspondent in Algeria has been arrested. Internet Without Borders said Abdou Semmar was detained Wednesday evening along with Merouane Boudiab, the associate director of an online news site Semmar founded, Algerie Part. Semmar started the site in 2017 to focus on political corruption and clan succession wars surrounding ailing Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The 81-year-old president is deciding whether to seek a fifth term next year. Internet Without Borders Executive Director Julie Owono said Semmar’s work “has been systematically deterred by the authorities for more than two years.”  AP

EU Turns Attention to Morocco in Bid to Slow African Migrant Flow
As migration patterns from Africa into Europe shift westward, European leaders are turning their attention, and their money, toward efforts to stem the fast-growing human traffic between Morocco and Spain. EU and Moroccan officials agreed last week on a $160 million emergency funding package, making the North African country the third largest recipient of EU funds earmarked for that purpose. Much of that money will go to stepped up border security, according to Morocco’s chief government spokesman, Mustapha El Khalifi. About $50 million will be spent to secure the sea routes to Spain and the extensive desert borders with Algeria and Mauritania Morocco says it already has 13,000 security personnel deployed to deal with the growing flow of migrants seeking to reach Spain. AP

The Harrowing, Step-by-Step Story of a Migrant’s Journey to Europe
Nearly every part of the illegal journey a migrant makes from West Africa to Europe across the Sahara desert and the Mediterranean is filled with peril. But even a routine roll call, innocuous as it may seem, can turn into a recurring nightmare. Andrew (real name withheld), a Nigerian migrant with hopes of reaching Italy, found that out the hard way at Sabratha, a coastal town in northern Libya in February 2016. As desperate migrants are transported across borders through a vast illegal network, their smugglers carry out roll calls at regular intervals during the long convoluted itinerary to confirm every migrants’ journey has been fully paid up. While most migrants pay “agents”—the shady middlemen who make all the initial travel arrangements—at the start of their journey to arrange the trip all the way to Europe, these agents do not always pay the smugglers the full amount. When migrants duped by agents become stranded along the way, things turn ugly. In Andrew’s case, the agent had paid his way to Libya but not all the way to Europe, as previously agreed.  Quartz

As Ethiopia Reforms, Ethnic Violence Spreads
Two decades ago, Ethiopia’s leaders took a gamble: give the country’s many ethnicities their own autonomous regions in the hope greater prosperity would forge national unity. For a time it worked, but now simmering inter-communal disputes have erupted into bloodshed, with violence displacing 1.4 million people this year, the most globally, according to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. The rise in violence contrasts sharply with the global praise for Ethiopia’s young, reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has forged peace with neighbouring Eritrea, vowed to overhaul state companies and reached out to dissidents at home. Analysts see no single cause for the killing that has stretched from the countryside to the capital and left scores of Ethiopians dead.  AP

Kagame Sacks Four Senior Government Officials for Gross Misconduct
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has sent home four senior government officials for “gross misconduct”, barely two months after he sacked the entire staff of a health ministry unit for wastage of public resources. The Cabinet chaired by President Kagame on Wednesday sacked Syridion Dusabimana, director of animal resources extension at the Rwanda Agriculture Board, and Margaret Mbabazi, director of finance and administration at the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda. The others are Albert Ruhumuriza, director of administration at the Rwanda Transport Development Agency, and Emmanuel Toto Wa Mugenza, director of planning and ICT at the National Industrial Research and Development Agency. At a press conference Thursday, the Minister of Justice Johnson Busingye declined to provide more information on the sackings. The East African

Libyan Wealth Fund: Frozen Assets Should Not Go to IRA Victims
A bill that proposes using assets frozen during Libya’s civil war to compensate victims of the IRA would hinder the country’s efforts to rebuild, the head of its sovereign wealth fund has said. London banks hold an estimated £12bn of Libyan funds after the UN ordered that they be frozen in 2011 to prevent their theft or misuse during the war that toppled Col Muammar Gaddafi. Under proposals in a bill scheduled for debate in the House of Commons on Friday, some of the funds would be diverted to victims of the IRA from the period when it was funded and supported by Gaddafi’s regime. The chief executive of the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) has written to Alistair Burt, the minister for the Middle East, insisting the money belongs to the Libyan people.  The Guardian

Liberia’s Weah Announces Free Tuition for Undergraduates
Liberian President George Weah, who overcame childhood poverty to become one of the world’s top footballers, has abolished tuition fees for undergraduate students in the poor West African country’s state universities. Speaking Wednesday on the campus of the University of Liberia in the name of “the Liberian people and my government”, President Weah declared “free tuition for all undergraduate students” at all the public universities. President Weah said his decision arose after a meeting he had with the university administration. “The students came in front of my office to complain that the administrators have increased the tuition in the school. I was not happy about that,” said President Weah, who took office in January.  AFP