Africa Media Review for October 31, 2017

Benghazi Attacks Suspect Is Captured in Libya by U.S. Commandos
American commandos captured a suspect in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, the Trump administration said on Monday, bringing into custody a second man accused in the terrorist attacks that have been used by Republicans as a political spear against the Obama administration. The man, Mustafa al-Imam, was caught on Sunday in the area of Misurata, Libya, brought aboard a United States warship and will be taken to the United States to face criminal charges, American officials said. Four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed in the bloody September 2012 assaults at a diplomatic compound and a C.I.A. base a mile away that came under heavy fire. More than a dozen people have been charged, and one is standing trial. “To the families of these fallen heroes: I want you to know that your loved ones are not forgotten, and they will never be forgotten,” President Trump said in a statement on Monday. “Our memory is deep and our reach is long, and we will not rest in our efforts to find and bring the perpetrators of the heinous attacks in Benghazi to justice.” The New York Times

Eastern Libya Town Reports Airstrike Kills, Wounds Dozens
The municipal council of an eastern Libyan town under siege by forces loyal to the region’s military strongman says warplanes have killed and wounded dozens of people. The Derna council declared three days mourning following the airstrike in the al-Fatayeh district late Monday. Local media sites including al-Wasat reported 15 killed, including women and eight children. The self-styled Libyan National Army led by Field Marshal Khalifa Hafter has said its forces have struck militants in the town previously, but the group’s spokesman was not available for comment about the latest attack. No one claimed responsibility for the airstrike. AP

Kenyatta Declared Winner in Kenya Presidential Poll, Again
Uhuru Kenyatta has won Kenya’s re-run presidential election, according to the country’s electoral commission. “I hereby declare Mr. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta and Mr. William Samoei Ruto as president-elect and deputy president-elect, respectively,” said Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, or IEBC. With eight candidates listed on the ballot, Kenyatta, the incumbent, attained almost 7.5 million votes, or roughly 98 percent of the overall tally. This figure is attributed to the fact that main challenger Raila Odinga instructed his supporters to boycott Thursday’s election, resulting in non-existent, sparse or significantly shorter voter lines than those in the original August election. VOA

Officials: Mortar Shell Kills 4 Civilians in Egypt’s Sinai
Egyptian security officials say four civilians have been killed when a mortar shell hit their tractor in the turbulent northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. The officials say a fifth civilian was wounded in Tuesday’s attack in el-Arish, Sinai’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters. Mortar shells fired by militants frequently kill or wound civilians in el-Arish. Egypt has been battling militants in Sinai for years in an insurgency that intensified after the military’s 2013 ouster of an Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi.  AP

Nigeria’s Buhari Fires Govt Secretary and Spy Chief over Corruption
Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari has fired two top officials of his administration for their respective roles in two separate cases of corruption. The two officials are Secretary General of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal and former Director General of the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke. News of the sack was carried by media aides and via the official government twitter handle. Buhari also immediately announced a replacement for the secretary of government post. Africa News

Boko Haram ‘Slaughter’ 11 People in North Cameroon: Officials
Boko Haram fighters killed 11 civilians in Cameroon’s far north overnight, targetting a village where several members of the Islamist group were recently arrested, officials told AFP Monday. The Boko Haram attack in the village of Gouderi was “an act of reprisal. The jihadists acted after the arrest of a number of their comrades there,” a local self-defence group official told AFP. “Boko Haram slaughtered 11 people,” added the official who requested anonymity. The attack and the death toll were confirmed by a security services source. Since 2014, when Cameroon entered the war against Boko Haram, the Islamist fighters have killed 2 000 civilians and military personnel in the far north of the country, and kidnapped a thousand more, according to International Crisis Group (ICG) figures. AFP

Nigeria Ordered to Pay $244 Million Damages for 1967 Civil War
Nigeria was ordered to pay 88 billion naira ($244 million) in damages to those affected by a 1967 civil war after failing to clear landmines and other explosives in the country’s southeast. The government of Africa’s most populous nation must pay 50 billion naira to compensate war victims and a further 38 billion naira to state authorities to help rebuild damaged property, the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice said Monday. The three-year conflict was fought between the Nigerian government and the southeast state of Biafra. Bloomberg

The New Ways of Nigeria’s Human Traffickers
Thousands of young people move from the Nigerian state of Benue in the east to the country’s southwest every year. They are promised a good education and well-paid jobs. But they end up in modern slavery. […] When people here in Benue refer to “Yorubaland,” they refer to the southwest. For decades, people have been flocking to the region for work. In the 1980s, farmers came to Benue and negotiated wages that were actually paid after the work was done. Farmers from the opposite end of the country came to look for workers here due to the similarities in agriculture. […] Workers were denied basic rights, according to Kwaghchimin’s research. They are trapped on farms and are only allowed to leave when being supervised. They are not allowed to keep their cell phones. They sleep on the floor in crowded rooms. Often, they don’t have access to toilets. Deutsche Welle

Somalia’s Capital Restricts Movement of Trucks, Tankers after Attacks
Somali authorities imposed a daytime ban on Monday on the movement of large trucks and road tankers inside the capital Mogadishu in an attempt to improve security following a wave of devastating attacks by militants. The move followed twin truck bombings on Oct. 15 that killed more than 350 people in the city, in the deadliest attack in the history of the Horn of Africa nation. Though the Islamist militant group al Shabaab did not claim responsibility for that attack, the method is one it has often used. “Trucks and tankers cannot pass … from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. This is to ensure security and (to offer) a solution to the complaints of the public,” Tabid Abdi, the capital’s mayor, said in a statement. “Any truck or tanker driver who does not comply will be fined $1,000.” Reuters

US Promises up to $60M for Anti-Extremist Force in Africa
The U.S. pledged up to $60 million Monday to help a 5,000-soldier African force get going on fighting extremists in western Africa’s vast Sahel region, but Washington remains cool to putting U.N. resources into the nearly $500 million-a-year effort as Sahel countries look to the world body for financing. The promise of U.S. money announced separately by U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson comes after the region’s dangers hit home for Americans with the deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger on Oct. 4. Niger is among the “Group of Five” countries launching the joint military force, along with Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad. The nations have been grappling with a growing menace from extremists, including the Islamic State group, Boko Haram and groups linked to al-Qaida’s North Africa branch. AP

New $400m Army to Fight Human Traffickers and Terrorists Faces UN Moment of Truth
Unprecedented plans to combat human trafficking and terrorism across the Sahel and into Libya will face a major credibility test on Monday when the UN decides whether to back a new proposed five-nation joint security force across the region. The 5,000-strong army costing $400m in the first year is designed to end growing insecurity, a driving force of migration, and combat endemic people-smuggling that has since 2014 seen 30,000 killed in the Sahara and an estimated 10,000 drowned in the central Mediterranean. The joint G5 force, due to be fully operational next spring and working across five Sahel states, has the strong backing of France and Italy, but is suffering a massive shortfall in funds, doubts about its mandate and claims that the Sahel region needs better coordinated development aid, and fewer security responses, to combat migration. The Guardian

IMF Says Rising Debt, Political Risk Dim Sub-Saharan Africa’s Economic Outlook
Economic growth is expected to rise to 3.4 percent in sub-Saharan Africa next year from 2.6 percent in 2017, the IMF said in a report on Monday, but warned that rising debt and political risks in larger economies would weigh down future growth. Nigeria and South Africa are the biggest economies in Africa south of the Sahara, but both nations have been clouded by political uncertainty linked to the tenure of their leaders. The IMF said a good harvest and recovery in oil output in Nigeria would contribute more than half of the growth in the region this year while an uptick in mining and a better harvest in South Africa as well as a rebound in oil production in Angola will add to growth. But political uncertainty loomed large in Nigeria, where President Muhammadu Buhari is afflicted by illness, causing speculation about whether he is well enough to run Africa’s biggest economy. South Africa has been clouded by the rule of Jacob Zuma, who has battled scandals, including corrupt allegations ahead of his ANC party’s conference in December to elect a new party leader. Reuters

S. Sudan Rebel Leader Seeks Global Support to Remove Kiir
A South Sudanese rebel leader says he visited the United Nations headquarters in New York to solicit the support needed for voices that can highlight the plight of the suffering population so that President Salva Kiir can be removed from power. General Thomas Cirilo Swaka, the leader of the National Salvation Front told Sudan Tribune Saturday the he traveled to the United States to meet world leaders, the South Sudanese people and civil society entities to discuss the conflict in South Sudan. “I went to New York not as an ordinary south Sudanese but as the leader of the National Salvation Front to raise the voice and plights of our people to the world leaders. You know the ordinary South Sudanese today paying the brunt of the conflict they do not know the cause,” said Swaka. Sudan Tribune

Khartoum, Juba Agree to Activate Buffer Zone and to Open Border
Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to activate security arrangements and to open border four crossing points, ahead of the visit of President Salva Kiir which will start on Wednesday. In a meeting held at the defence ministry in Khartoum, Sudan Defence Minister Awad Mohamed Ahmed Ibn Ouf and his South Sudanese counterpart Kuol Manyang Juuk Monday discussed the implementation of the security arrangements agreed in September 2012 aiming to establish a buffer zone, and deploy a joint border monitoring force supported by the United Nations. In 2012, Khartoum accused Juba of backing Sudanese rebels in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan, two border areas with the South Sudan where the SPLM-N fights the government in Khartoum since June 2011. This agreement was the cornerstone of the Cooperation Agreement. Sudan Tribune

Cameroon Court Sentences Opposition Leader to 25 Years in Prison
A military court in Cameroon sentenced an opposition leader on Monday to 25 years in prison, his lawyer and Amnesty International said and denounced the trial as politically motivated. The court convicted Aboubakar Siddiki, the president of northern Cameroon’s main opposition party, of hostility against the homeland as well as revolution and contempt of the president over accusations he plotted to destabilize the country. “We are going to appeal this decision, which does not seem to us to be at all just,” Siddiki’s lawyer, Emmanuel Simh, told Reuters. In a statement, Amnesty said the prosecution was part of a government campaign to stifle its critics. The government denies the charges are political. VOA

Liberia’s Johnson Sirleaf Rejects Accusations of Election Interference
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s spokesman on Monday denied allegations from her own party that she meddled in this month’s presidential election. The dispute has cemented a falling out between Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and her party’s leadership after 12 years in power that saw the country consolidate a post-war peace but draw sharp criticism over alleged corruption and underdevelopment. At a news conference on Sunday, leaders from Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party accused the president of holding inappropriate private meetings with election magistrates before the Oct. 10 vote. VOA

Mugabe Rejects Western Observer Groups in Zimbabwe’s 2018 Elections
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has rejected the participation of election observer groups from the West during the southern African country’s 2018 presidential election. He said the non-governmental organisations funded by the West will not be allowed to observe the elections, local news portal NewZimbabwe.com reports. “We don’t need them. We are saying no. We are going to have elections in 2018 and we are going to say no to the whites. We don’t mind their diplomats participating but the NGOs, no. We don’t want them at all,” he was quoted to have said in an interview last week. Mugabe is reported to have said that the observer groups directly influence opposition parties including Kenya’s Raila Odinga who boycotted the election rerun on October 26. Africa News



Photo: Adam Jones