Africa Media Review for October 31, 2016

Clashes In Central African Republic Town Leave 25 Dead
Clashes between militia groups in the Central African Republic have killed 25 people including six gendarmes caught in an ambush, the U.N. peacekeeping mission to the country, MINUSCA, said on Saturday. MINUSCA condemned the violence around the central town of Bambari and appealed to the two militia groups behind the clashes to respond to an invitation by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra for talks. “Six gendarmes and four civilians lost their lives on Friday morning in an ambush on the Bambari-Grimari road. The day before, clashes between elements of the anti-Balaka and ex-Seleka caused 15 deaths and a number of wounded,” MINUSCA said. Reuters

Fears of Fresh Violence in CAR as France Ends Military Mission
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian headed to the Central African Republic on Sunday to formally end Operation Sangaris, begun three years ago to halt mass killings there but which failed to disarm militias terrorising the population. The formal end to the French mission comes as a fresh wave of bloodshed shook the troubled nation, spearheaded by rival Muslim and Christian militia groups. “France is not giving up on Central Africa,” Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Thursday, highlighting the presence of more than 10,000 UN peacekeepers from the MINUSCA mission. France 24

Scuffles Erupt at Ivory Coast Polling Stations over Divisive Referendum
Ivorians voted on Sunday to determine the fate of constitutional changes the president says will help end years of unrest but which have alarmed the opposition, with scuffles erupting at dozens of polling stations. The package put to the country’s 6.3 million voters is being boycotted by the opposition and has left much of the electorate confused, analysts say. Commentators say turnout for the referendum is the main question, as there seems to be little doubt the changes will be approved. France 24

Somali Troops Recapture Village from al-Shabab
Somali government troops recaptured Goofgaduud in southern Somalia after al-Shabab militants briefly took control of the village Sunday, officials and witnesses said. “The militants attacked a government military base. The troops made a strategic retreat and counter attacked the militants. Now, Somali government forces have retaken the full control of the village,” said regional deputy police chief, Mohamed Isaq Ara’as. He said four government soldiers and eight militants were killed during the fighting and 10 other combatants were injured. News 24

Meet the Tank Girls Taking on al-Shabab
[…] Uwimana is one of roughly 500 women in the Ugandan contingent of AMISOM, the 17,000-strong African Union force tasked with battling al-Shabab and securing the troubled Horn of Africa nation so that a political process can take root. They serve as drivers, gunners, and technicians in the motorized infantry division — roles that women were barred from in the U.S. military until as recently as last year. But in Somalia, female peacekeepers have been serving in these positions for years. This is remarkable not only because al-Shabab is among the region’s most dangerous terror groups, but because Somalia is generally one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman, according to various rankings and polls. Somalia has the highest prevalence of female genital mutilation in the world at 95 percent, among the highest maternal mortality rates at 1,600 deaths per 100,000 live births, and, though official statistics are unreliable, anecdotal evidence suggests that sexual assault remains an inescapable threat for most women across the country. Foreign Policy

Somalia Lost $1b to Graft
A former top financial manager in the Somali government has released a report detailing how over $1 billion was diverted from the national budget between 2013 and 2015. Abdirazak Fartaag worked as the head of the Public Finance Management Unit between 2009 and 2011 and his report was released on October 26. In the report titled Breaking Point in Somalia: How state failure was financed and by whom, the whistleblower says the government receives and spends more money from donors and domestic revenue than they account for. “The deliberate deficiencies of the government in developing functional structures and accountable management controls have been conduits for budget diversion. The money is used to fund insurgencies, private investments and Islamic institutions, which fuels further anarchy in the country,” said Mr Fartaag. The East African

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for Attack Outside U.S. Embassy in Nairobi
A follower of Islamic State was responsible for an attack last week on a Kenyan police officer outside a U.S. embassy in Nairobi, the group’s Amaq news agency said on Saturday. A knife-wielding man whom police described as a criminal was shot dead outside the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi last Thursday after he attacked and injured a Kenyan police officer. “The person who carried out the stabbing of a guard outside the American embassy in Nairobi last Thursday was a soldier of Islamic State responding to calls to target coalition countries,” Amaq said. Kenya’s police spokesman said at the time the motive was unclear and an investigation was launched. The spokesman could not immediately be reached on Saturday. Reuters

Sudan Calls on African States to Withdraw from ICC
Sudan is now calling on all African states who are signatories to the Rome Statute to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC). The call comes as expectations mount that Kenya is next in line to follow the route of Burundi, and Gambia, who are pulling out of the ICC. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyta, who has previously faced charges at The Hague, is concluding a two-day visit in Khartoum. At least three African countries are pulling out with the number expected to increase. Africa has the largest number of signatories to the Rome Statute, 34 of the 124 member countries . This call comes just days before South Africa’s ambassador to the United Nations Jerry Matjila meets the chief prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda. SABC

Malawi Can Pull Out of ICC, Says Govt Spokesman
Malawi government has said it is watching with keen interest on the departure of African countries from the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying it will make a decision on its stand from the world body designed to prosecute those who commit the gravest atrocities. Minister of Information and Communication, Malison Ndau, speaking on Daybreak Malawi program which Nyasa Times monitored on Capital Radio, Friday, said the government will not be influenced by any other country to make a decision. “Membership of ICC is an individual thing. We are members as individual countries. We are watching what is happening, we are listening. We are going to make our decision,” Ndau, who is official governmentspokesman said. Nyasa Times on allAfrica

Burundi Government Tightens Grip on Private Media
Since last year, more than 50 Burundian journalists are believed to have fled the country, and now the Burundi government has taken additional measures to clamp down on independent media. The Burundi authorities have demanded that all journalists in the country register afresh. “All journalists in Burundi are requested to re-register themselves otherwise they will not be legally recognised,” said Gabriel Bihumugani, the vice chairman of the Communication Council. “The National Communication Council (CNC) decided to suspend one of the programmes of Isanganiro radio because they played a song that doesn’t conform to the ethics of journalism,” said Karenga Ramadhan, the CNC chairman. The East African

Four Egyptian Soldiers Killed in Sinai
Four Egyptian soldiers have been killed in the Sinai Peninsula, where the local branch of the Islamic State group regularly attacks security forces, the army said on Sunday. The troops were killed during operations around El-Arish, close to the border with the Gaza Strip, army spokesman Brigadier General Mohamed Samir said on Facebook. Six jihadists were killed during the same operation and others were arrested, he said. Egypt’s army has been battling an Islamist insurgency in the northern Sinai since the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013. News 24

French PM Valls Tours ‘Neglected’ Togo, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls congratulated Togo on “changing in the right direction” at the start of a four-day tour of west African states that his advisors say France has neglected in recent years. Faced with growing competition from China, France hopes to strengthen trade ties with the countries he is visiting – Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. RFI

Bomb Blasts In Nigeria Kill At Least 9
Two explosions killed at least nine people in northeastern Nigeria on Saturday. The bombs were detonated by suspected suicide bombers linked to extremist group Boko Haram. NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton told our Newscast desk that “the two blasts came 30 minutes and about a mile apart in the Maiduguri area.” She said: A Nigerian military spokesman says, in the first explosion, a suspected female suicide bomber ran into a group of men and women leaving a camp housing more than 16,000 displaced people. … In the second blast, a tricycle taxi carrying two passengers exploded outside a gas station. The Associated Press adds that the attacks follow a “months-long lull” in Boko Haram violence, stemmed from a battle among the ISIS-affiliated group’s leaders. NPR

Protests Erupt in Morocco After Fishmonger Crushed to Death
Thousands of outraged Moroccans held protests in several cities on Sunday after a fishmonger in the northern town of Al-Hoceima was crushed to death inside a garbage truck as he tried to retrieve fish confiscated by police. The death on Friday prompted a frenzy of angry postings on social media against “Hogra”, a Maghreb term referring to official abuse and injustice. Sunday’s rallies were called by activists from the February 20 movement, which organized demonstrations during the Arab unrest of 2011. In an effort to calm tensions, King Mohamed, currently on a tour of Africa, ordered the interior minister to visit the victim’s family and present royal condolences. The interior and justice ministries also promised an investigation. Reuters

An American Ally…Where Listening to Voice of America Was Just Banned?
Nearly a year of protests against land reform issues and heavy-handed government policies is starting to take its toll on Ethiopia, who earlier this month announced a six-month state of emergency. Often hailed as a rising star and economic stronghold of Africa, the growing discontent highlights the limits of authoritarian development as well as the hypocrisy of the West when it comes to human rights abuses. The protests started last November following the announcement of the government’s new plan to expand the capital of Addis Ababa into the surrounding countryside that is mainly inhabited by the Oromo ethnic group. Despite being the largest ethnic group in the country, the Oromo have long complained that they are economically marginalized in favor of the Tigray, who make up less than 10 percent of the population but dominate the government. Because of this, the plan to expand the capital was viewed as a naked land grab by the government, designed to marginalize the Oromo even further. UN Dispatch

Nigerian Migrants: Rescued But Still in the EU Crosshairs
After an accord with Turkey practically shut down the Aegean route, the EU is eying a raft of deals with African nations to stem an increasing surge across the Central Mediterranean that has led to a record number of migrant deaths at sea. Following recent visits by the Italian and German foreign ministers, the EU dispatched a delegation this week to the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The reason for the flurry of high-level meetings is no secret. Nigerians represent the top nationality of migrants arriving by boat to Italy this year. Out of 157,000 migrants and refugees who have arrived so far in 2016, 19 percent were Nigerian, according to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR. Nigeria is one of five African nations the EU has prioritised as part of its Partnership Framework with third countries, launched in June – the other four being Ethiopia, Niger, Mali, and Senegal. IRIN

Namibia Faces Piracy Threats at Sea, Official
Namibia holds the distinction as a country with no reported incident of piracy in its territorial waters since independence, but locally owned fishing vessels could come under pirate attack the country is not prepared for the worst case scenario possible, an official in the Office of Prime Minister has warned. The chief policy analyst, Deon van Zyl, told the Eighth Annual Logistics and Transport Workshop at Swakopmund on 29 September 2016 that one of Namibia’s other biggest threat is that Walvis Bay port on the south west coast has increasingly become important link in the Southern African supply chain. Some three thousand ships call at the Walvis Bay port annually, while between 2006 to 2012 container ships docking increased by 212 percent from 279 to 594. Southern African

South Africa Drops Charges Against Finance Minister Gordhan
South Africa’s chief prosecutor has dropped fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Mr Gordhan had described the allegations as without merit and politically motivated. News of the charges earlier this month rattled the financial markets and the South African rand fell more than 3%. The finance minister was appointed last year after President Jacob Zuma’s preferred candidate lasted just a few days in the job. He is not seen as a close ally of the president and has warned against corruption becoming rampant in South Africa.  BBC

In South Africa, a Private Army is Fighting Rhino Poachers
[…] Poaching has taken a devastating toll on iconic African wildlife, like the rhinoceros. In the early 20th century, there were about half a million rhinos in the wild internationally; today, there are less than 30,000 across Asia and Africa. The vast majority live in South Africa. Protecting those animals has become a serious business. Rood decided several years ago to get out of the hunting industry and start a security company aimed at conserving wildlife. Now he uses his land to train anti-poaching guards that his firm, Nkwe Wildlife and Security Services, sends to work at private reserves. “You can’t stop the poaching – that’s a pie in the sky. It’s about bringing the poaching to acceptable levels,” said Rood. The Washington Post

African Union Hearing on Child Slaves Hailed as Milestone for Mauritania
Two brothers who say they were regularly beaten and forced to work as child slaves in Mauritania have taken their case to a regional African child rights body, where they are testifying against their abuser and the Mauritanian government. The move has been heralded by human rights groups as hugely significant for the abolitionist movement in the west African republic, where modern-day slavery is more prevalent than anywhere else in the world. Said Ould Salem, now 16, and his brother Yarg, 13, became slaves at birth to the wealthy El Hassine family due to a highly rigid caste system and the practice, entrenched over the course of centuries, of passing down slave status from mother to child. The Guardian