Africa Media Review for October 6, 2016

Ethiopia Shuts Internet Amid Growing Protests
The internet has been shut down in Ethiopia, amid growing protests against the government.  No official reason has been given for the closure.  The internet has been blocked before during previous protests, with the government accusing opposition activists in the diaspora of using Facebook and Twitter to organise protests in the country.  At least 55 people died in a stampede at a religious festival in the volatile Oromia region on Sunday after people starting demanding political freedoms.  Opposition groups accused security forces of opening fire, causing the stampede. The East African

American Killed in Ethiopia as Protests Surge After Stampede
An American woman was killed by a rock thrown in a town outside the Ethiopian capital, the US embassy said on Wednesday, as anti-government anger sparked fresh protests after a deadly stampede. Protesters stoned the vehicle the woman was travelling in as demonstrations sprung up in parts of the capital and the restive Oromia region on Tuesday, several targeting foreign companies, after the weekend stampede blamed on police. “A passenger van was hit by rocks thrown by unknown individuals on the outskirts of the city of Addis Ababa. One of the passengers, a US citizen, was struck by a rock and subsequently died from her injury,” said a statement from the embassy. News 24

Stepping Over the Dead on a Migrant Boat
It began with blips on a radar screen, 12 miles off the Libyan coast. As the rescuers approached, they found overloaded wooden vessels and rafts that evoked scenes of the slave trade. Hundreds of African migrants were crammed into boats headed for Italy. More than two dozen people were dead in one boat alone, asphyxiated from the crush aboard. In other boats, bodies were splayed on the floorboards, forcing survivors to clamber over the corpses of their fellow voyagers. Aris Messinis, an Agence France-Presse photographer aboard the rescue boat Astral, said it was like nothing he had ever seen. The passengers — from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Nigeria and other sub-Saharan countries — were found by the Astral on Tuesday, part of a wave of more than 11,000 rescued in the Mediterranean by aid groups and the Italian Coast Guard this week. Migrants aboard a large wooden boat, which may have held 1,000 people — roughly five times its capacity — waited frantically for help. Some jumped into the water. The New York Times

5 Killed in Fresh Violence in Central African Republic
Four Muslim cattle traders were killed on Tuesday by unidentified assailants in the capital Bangui, security sources told Anadolu Agency. The four lost their lives on the premises of the State Slaughterhouse Management Company, SEGA, added the sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking with the media. Another young Muslim shopkeeper was killed en route to picking up his wife from a maternity hospital by unidentified men. The five bodies were deposited at the Ali Babolo Mosque in the Km5 neighborhood, according to Gen. Mohamed Moussa Dhaffane, leader of the splinter group Renewed Seleka for Peace and Justice. Anadolu Agency

14 al-Shabaab Fighters Killed in Somalia
Somali armed forces have killed 14 al-Shabaab fighters in a security operation in the Lower Shabelle region in southern Somalia, authorities said Wednesday morning. Armed forces conducted the operation on Tuesday night, said Deputy Defense Minister Abdullah Houcine Ali. Ali said inhabitants in the region alerted authorities about the presence of al-Shabaab fighters in the area. During the operation, the army seized military equipment and torched several vehicles belonging to the militant group, Ali added. Anadolu Agency

Republic of Congo Says 23 Dead in Latest Attacks in South
Republic of Congo’s justice minister says the number of people killed in recent attacks by former members of a militia group is now at 23. Pierre Mabiala said Wednesday that former members of the Ninjas Nsiloulou group killed six soldiers, four military police, two police and 11 civilians. He said the attacks occurred in the southern Pool region during the last week of September. In one attack on Sept. 30, the fighters targeted a train, killing 14 people. The government says more than 4,000 people have been driven from their homes since April, when the fighters began launching attacks just weeks after President Denis Sassou N’Guesso’s re-election.Frederic Bitsangou, who led the group until it disbanded in 2003 and then became high commissioner for peace, has been missing since April. Stars and Stripes

DRC Opposition Takes Hard Line Against Kabila Extending Term
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s main opposition coalition, Le Rassemblement, on Tuesday announced the conclusion of a two-week conclave. Among agenda items was their response to President Joseph Kabila’s intention to stay in power beyond the end of his second term and a clarification of the platform’s position on talks it has so far boycotted. Several hundred Congolese delegates of the Rassemblement, a platform comprising most of the DRC’s opposition parties, began arriving for the ceremony held in the capital, Kinshasa, Tuesday morning. They were there to hear how leaders plan to respond to the delay of elections, which were supposed to happen in November, and President Joseph Kabila’s intention to stay in office beyond the end of his second term on December 19. VOA

Belgium Shortens Visas for Congo Diplomats in Response to Crisis
Belgium has shortened the maximum length of visas for Congolese diplomats, in a sign of concern over the political crisis in its former colony. A spokesperson for Belgium’s foreign ministry said it had limited the maximum visa duration for holders of Congolese diplomatic passports from one year to six months in response to “the overall situation” in Democratic Republic of Congo. At least 50 people were killed last month in clashes between security forces and protesters angered by what opposition groups say are efforts by President Joseph Kabila to delay a presidential vote in order to cling to power beyond the end of his mandate in December. The electoral commission said on Saturday that it expects the election, originally scheduled for November, to take place in December 2018. Reuters

Zambia Opposition  Leaders Arrested: Police
Zambian police said on Wednesday they had arrested the president and deputy leader of the country’s main opposition party. United Party for National Development president Hakainde Hichilema and his deputy Geoffrey Mwamba were arrested on suspicion of sedition, the police said. “They have been arrested and detained for seditious practices and unlawful assembly which occurred on Sept 26. They will appear in court tomorrow,” Copperbelt police chief Charity Katanga told Reuters. Reuters

Germany to Open Niger Base to Support UN Mali Mission
Germany will build a military base in Niger to support the UN mission fighting jihadists in neighbouring Mali, Berlin’s ambassador to Niamey said on Wednesday. Bernd von Munchow-Pohl also announced in a speech to mark the anniversary of Germany’s reunification seen by AFP that German Chancellor Angela Merkel would visit Niger in the next few days. “With the establishment of a German military airbase in Niamey in support of the MINUSMA mission in Mali, which Niger has supported since the beginning, a new chapter in our cooperation has begun,” he said, using the acronym for the UN mission in Mali.

Tens of Thousands of Cameroon Students Without Teachers
Cameroon’s government says at least 500 teachers in the north have not reported for duty this school year amid safety concerns. The Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram has targeted schools since its insurgency began in 2009. The nickname of the group roughly translates as “Western education is sinful.” General Jacob Kodji, one of the commanders of Cameroonian troops fighting Boko Haram, has sought to reassure teachers and coax them back into the classrooms. He told VOA the commanders have been working in collaboration with the administration and education officials to prevent any attacks. He says they are asking the population, including parents, teachers and students, to report suspicious people and share information to keep everyone safe. VOA

US Bombing in Libya Intensifies
U.S. warplanes bombarded Islamic State group targets Sunday in Libya, knocking out a command and control facility, nearly 70 enemy fighting positions and several other sites in what was the heaviest day of bombing since the two-month-old operation began, according to U.S. Africa Command data In all, 20 airstrikes were launched Sunday as the Operation Odyssey Lightening campaign in Libya headed into its third month, bringing the total number of strikes to 201. AFRICOM is targeting an increasingly small area in the coastal city of Sirte, which is the focus of the U.S. mission in Libya. The airstrikes are in support of an offensive by ground forces aligned with the internationally backed Libyan government. Stars and Stripes

Chinese-built Railway Opens Linking Ethiopia to Djibouti
A $3.4 billion Chinese-built railway linking the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa and the port city of Djibouti opened Wednesday, a boost to both African countries’ economies and an important milestone for Chinese investments in Africa. The new 750-km line, which completely replaces a long-defunct French line built in the early 20th century, will reduce travel time between the two cities to 10 hours from the two to three days it currently takes to navigate the congested potholed roads crossed by 1,500 trucks a day. France 24

Al-Bashir, Al-Sisi Sign Strategic Partnership Between Sudan and Egypt
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi on Wednesday have signed a number of agreements besides a document for a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations. A two-day Presidential Summit of the Egyptian-Sudanese Higher Committee (ESHC) has begun on Wednesday in Cairo. In his address before the summit meeting, al-Bashir called for activating and strengthening the joint mechanisms for cooperation between Sudan and Egypt, vowing to promote the distinctive and unique ties between the two countries. Sudan Tribune

Kagame Drops His Longest Serving Minister in Cabinet Shake Up
President Paul Kagame has made changes to his cabinet, retaining most of the ministers even as reduced the number of dockets. The Tuesday evening reshuffle also saw Ministries of East African Affairs and Trade and Industry merged. In the changes, the president also dropped Musa Fazil Harerimana, the longest serving minister, who was in charge of Internal Security. The ministry was scrapped and its responsibilities handed to the Ministry of Justice. Mr Harerimana was instrumental in the campaign to amend the constitution in 2011, to allow President Kagame to contest again in 2017. He had been Minister of Internal Security since March 2006, making him the longest surviving minister in President Kagame’s cabinet. The East African

Kazibwe Pulls Out of AU Race
Although she was still eligible to contest for the coveted AU chairperson post, Uganda has decided not to front a candidate after a series of meetings, where top diplomats and President Yoweri Museveni agreed that the competition ground on the continent is not favourable for the ‘Pearl of Africa’. Ambassador James Mugume, the permanent secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, confirmed the position of Uganda regarding the AU chairperson bid, saying that Uganda will support other Eastern region candidates, once the region harmonises its position. “We have decided not to front our candidate again. This decision was reached after discussions with our previous candidate, the President and other diplomats in the country,” Mugume said, emphasizing that Kazibwe will remain a member of the AU panel of the wise, which is comprised of a group of senior leaders on the continent. News Vision

Disillusioned Moroccan Voters to Snub Parliamentary Election
Morocco’s October 7 election has been presented as a showdown between the ruling PJD party and a self-styled party of “modernity”. But on the streets of Casablanca, the country’s largest city, few people can be bothered to vote. Morocco heads to the polls Friday, and yet there is hardly any trace of the looming general election in the sprawling port city of three million. France 24

Morocco: Test Time for Islamic PJD Party
The political drama in Morocco has launched with a bang as the country gears up for Friday’s legislative elections. The ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD) is vying for a second consecutive term in office after winning the 2011 vote for the first time. Mass protests that rocked much of the Middle East in 2011 and challenged the balance of power in many Arab countries lit a spark in Morocco, paving the way for the adoption of a new constitution and for the PJD to come to power. If the PJD manages to win and lead a new coalition government for a second consecutive term, it will be the first party in the modern history of the kingdom to do so. Al Jazeera

Without Jobs, Tunisia’s Shining Revolution Begins to Dim
Five years ago, their hometown of Kasserine was a cradle of the Arab Spring revolution that brought an end to a half-century of autocratic rule in Tunisia and swept in a representative democracy seen by many as a model for the Arab world. Today, however, Kasserine is a cautionary tale of how, in some ways, little has changed. Promises of political change ring hollow on an empty stomach. “The biggest lie was the revolution – the politicians used the sentiment in the streets for their own end,” says Zeid Hrizi, a 30-something protest leader outside the Ministry of Employment who has been out of work for 12 years. “If they lose us, they lose Tunisia’s future.” But there is a flip side. In Kasserine, Tunisia faces a challenge well known across the Arab world – a remote, borderland area where the rule of law is under constant threat from terrorists and a general lack of economic opportunity. CS Monitor

A Ranger, Poacher and Investigator Explain Pangolin Trade
Commercial trade in the pangolin, a scaly anteater with a distinctive coat of hard shells, is now forbidden following decisions made last week at a conservation meeting in Johannesburg. The pangolin is the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal, with rampant poaching driven by demand for its meat, considered a delicacy in Vietnam and some parts of China, and its scales, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Associated Press spoke to a former pangolin poacher, a park ranger trying to curb poaching, and an undercover investigator about the trade. AP



Photo: Adam Jones