Africa Media Review for October 7, 2019

Around 20 Dead in Burkina Faso as Jihadist Violence Spreads across Region
Around 20 people have been killed in an attack on a gold mining site in northern Burkina Faso, security sources said, the latest in a spate of violence blamed on a jihadist insurgency across the region. The attack on Friday took place in Soum province not far from where alleged jihadists blew up a bridge linking two northern towns in mid-September “Armed individuals attacked the gold mining site at Dolmane … leaving around 20 dead, mainly gold miners,” one security source said. … West African leaders announced a $1bn plan to combat jihadist violence at a summit in Burkina Faso last month. The fight against the rising tide of jihadist violence in the region has so far been hampered by a lack of funds. The Guardian

Attack in Popular Rwandan Tourist Region Leaves 14 Dead
Rwandan police say 19 attackers have been killed and others are on the run after their assault on a popular tourist area killed at least 14 people over the weekend. National police spokesman John Bosco Kabera said in a statement late Sunday that five other attackers have been arrested after the assault on Friday in Musanze district near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The district is popular with tourists visiting nearby Volcanoes National Park to see gorillas. It is not yet known whether tourists were among those killed. Eighteen Rwandans were wounded. AP

Reports: Up to 35 Russian Mercenaries Killed in Libya
As many as 35 Russian mercenaries are reported to have been killed in Libya while they were fighting for Khalifa Haftar, the military general most associated with the rule of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi, who launched an offensive earlier this year on the Libyan capital of Tripoli, home to the country’s internationally-recognized government, according to a Russian media. The mercenaries are thought to work for the Wagner Group, a military contractor run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman nicknamed Putin’s Chef because he holds lucrative Kremlin catering contracts. Asked by VOA about the reports of the fatalities in an airstrike on the outskirts of Tripoli, where Haftar’s forces have been bogged down for months, Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, said she had “no detailed information” and suggested directing questions to Russia’s defense ministry. The spokeswoman later dismissed any notion the mercenaries are Kremlin-linked[.] VOA

Nigeria: Insecurity – 38 Nigerian Soldiers, 16 Others Killed in Violent Attacks Last Week
The Nigerian military suffered a major loss as armed persons killed at least 38 soldiers in violent attacks last week. Six civilians and 10 suspected bandits were also killed in other attacks while no fewer than 16 others were kidnapped across Nigeria. The major attacks last week occurred on Thursday when nine soldiers were killed in Zamfara and 11 others killed in Borno. On the same day, six students and two teachers were abducted in a Kaduna school. The Boko Haram insurgency has claimed over 30,000 lives and caused the displacement of millions of others in recent years, mostly in North-eastern Nigeria. Also, kidnapping for ransom has been identified as one of the ways the Boko Haram raises funds for its activities. … The Nigerian Army accused one major and 21 soldiers of fleeing the scene of a Boko Haram attack and subsequently declared them wanted. The soldiers were said to have fled Gubio, a community in Borno State now partly controlled by insurgents, on September 29. Premium Times

UN Peacekeeper Killed, 4 Others Seriously Wounded in Mali
The United Nations says a peacekeeper from Chad was killed and four other peacekeepers were seriously wounded in a pair of attacks in Mali. A statement on Sunday says the peacekeeper was killed and three colleagues wounded when their convoy struck an explosive device in Aguelhok in the north. The statement says a peacekeeper from Togo was wounded in a separate attack when unidentified gunmen assaulted a temporary U.N. operating base in Bandiagara in Mali’s increasingly troubled central region. The peacekeeping force in Mali is one of the deadliest in U.N. history, with more than 200 forces killed as of the end of August. AP

Cameroon Opposition Leader Maurice Kamto, Supporters Freed from Prison
Cameroon’s main opposition leader, Maurice Kamto, addressed hundreds of supporters after leaving the Yaounde prison on Saturday, following President Paul Biya’s request to prosecutors to drop charges against him. “We are here today thanks to your constant support,” he said. “I saw you even when you couldn’t see me,” he said, adding that “if some people think that our liberation means the end of our struggle, they have understood nothing.” Kamto has claimed he is the real winner of last year’s presidential election, despite official results putting the 86-year-old Biya far ahead. Biya has ruled Cameroon for nearly 37 years and is currently in his seventh term. Kamto and hundreds of members of his Cameroon Renaissance Movement had been arrested for protesting the outcome of the October 2018 vote. Kamto was put on trial before a military tribunal on charges that included insurrection, rebellion and hostility to the motherland. In a surprise move this week, however, Biya ordered prosecutors to drop charges against a number of opposition leaders, including Kamto. DW

Exit Poll Shows Tough Road to Form Government after Tunisia Election
An exit poll showed the moderate Islamist Ennahda party narrowly emerging as the largest party in Tunisia’s parliamentary election on Sunday, but with only a small proportion of votes, which may make it hard to build a governing coalition. The poll by Sigma Conseil, broadcast on state television, showed Ennahda with 17.5% of votes and the Heart of Tunisia party of detained media mogul Nabil Karoui with 15.6%. No official results are expected on Sunday. If confirmed, the result would leave Tunisia with a deeply fractured parliament in which Ennahda would need to join together with numerous rival parties and independents to gain a working majority. Both Ennahda and Heart of Tunisia had earlier claimed victory in the election. Both have ruled out working in any coalition that contains the other. It was the third free parliamentary election in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution that ended decades of autocratic rule and introduced democracy, with a new constitution agreed in 2014. Reuters

Lack of Proper Judiciary Spells Doom for Somalia, Farmaajo’s Critics Say
Somalia’s rise from the ashes of civil war faces the threat of another collapse if it does not establish competent courts, critics of President Mohamed Farmaajo say. Politicians drawn from opposition groups say lack of a credible judicial system is one reason lawlessness thrives, with key decision makers still squabbling on how to create a new constitution. In a controversial memorandum, Abdallah Ahmed Ibrahim, a political leader, wants the African Union Mission in Somalia to talk less about military support and focus on setting up courts. “Amisom has been around since 2007 yet we face the same problems. We don’t have a reliable judicial system and there is no constitutional court. There is no competent agency to address differences between the arms of government or the federal government and the states,” he said in Nairobi last week. … Ibrahim’s views came just as donors met in Mogadishu to discuss the key Transition Plan that includes holding universal suffrage elections by 2021. The targets, in a document called the Mutually Accountability Framework, include stabilising the national army, passing electoral laws by December and promulgating a new constitution by next June. But it also lists judicial reforms that will see the country establish courts. The East African

Scores of Somali Refugees Return Home from Yemen
The International Organization for Migration has helped 143 Somali refugees, stranded in war-torn Yemen, return home earlier this week. The group of Somali refugees, including 56 children, set off by boat from the port of Aden on Monday and arrived at the port of Berbera in Somaliland the following day. The U.N. migration agency’s spokesman, Joel Millman, said government officials and representatives from humanitarian agencies were on hand to greet them and provide assistance. “With the conflict having effects on the economic and security situation in Yemen, many migrants and refugees find themselves without the means to provide for themselves and their families. Stranded, they then turn to humanitarian organizations for return assistance,” Millman said. … Somalis comprise the bulk of the 250,000 refugees in Yemen. Many have been there since the 1980s. … The safety enjoyed by Somali refugees in Yemen for many years has long since dissipated. Yemen has been embroiled in a civil war for more than four years that turned situation in the country into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. VOA

Human Trafficker Was at Meeting in Italy to Discuss Libya Migration
One of the world’s most notorious human traffickers attended a meeting in Sicily with Italian intelligence officials to discuss controls on migrant flows from Libya. Abd al-Rahman Milad, known as Bija, took part in a meeting with Italian officials and a delegation from the Libyan coastguard at Cara di Mineo, in Catania, one of the biggest migrant reception centres in Europe, on 11 May 2017. Bija’s presence was documented by the Italian newspaper Avvenire, which on Friday published an extensive investigation into the meeting. A UN security report published in June 2017 described Bija as a bloodthirsty human trafficker responsible for shootings at sea and suspected of drowning dozens of people. He is considered to be the leader of a criminal organisation operating in the Zawyah area in north-west Libya, about 28 miles west of Tripoli. … According to the Italian newspaper’s source, Bija that day asked the Italian authorities for funds to manage the reception of migrants in Libya. The Guardian

3-Country Talks on Nile Waters Wrap Up without Agreement
Irrigation ministers from three key Nile Basin countries wrapped up a two-day meeting Saturday in Sudan’s capital without resolving differences over Ethiopia’s soon-to-be-finished Blue Nile dam, with Egypt calling for international mediation to help reach a “fair and balanced” agreement. Sudan Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas told reporters in Khartoum that progress was made but differences on filling the giant reservoir and operating rules of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam remain unsettled. He said Ethiopia proposed a plan to fill the reservoir over four to seven years, without elaborating. He added that the three countries would continue consultations without giving a time frame. … Eighty-five percent of Nile waters originate in Ethiopia from the Blue Nile, which is one of the Nile’s two main tributaries. Egypt fears the dam could reduce its share of the Nile River, which serves as a lifeline for the country’s 100 million people. Ethiopia has roughly the same population and says the dam will help its economic development. AP

Ethiopia’s Oromo Celebrate Festival in Addis amid Tight Security
Hundreds of thousands of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group celebrated in Addis Ababa on Saturday at the start of an annual thanksgiving festival which was marred by violence in 2016. Security was high for Irreecha, which is celebrated by the Oromo people to mark the start of the harvest season. On Friday and Saturday thousands of people dressed in traditional white costumes arrived in buses, cars and by foot from all over the Oromia region to celebrate on the streets of the capital with dancing, singing and flag waving…. Security was high, with a visible presence from security forces including snipers. Ethiopian Federal Police said nine people had been arrested on the eve of the festival for attempting to smuggle weapons within the capital. The peaceful start was in contrast to 2016 when a stampede triggered by a clash between police and protesters left more than 50 people dead. Reuters

Is a Split in the Works between Zambia and Its Long-Time Business Partner, China?
If there is an African country in which the Chinese have found a home it is Zambia. At the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in the capital Lusaka, the first billboard that welcomes travellers is one advertising the services of the Bank of China…. A landlocked nation of some 17 million people, Zambia is said to host one of the largest populations of Chinese expatriates: investors, workers, merchants and farmers. Some sources estimate there are between 80,000 and 100,000 Chinese in Zambia, but the government puts the figure at under 20,000. Like many other African countries, Zambia, a former British colony rich in copper and cobalt, has embraced China. In return it has received billions of dollars in investments. Africa’s second-largest copper producer, Zambia was one of the first countries on the continent to receive a major infrastructural investment from Beijing. … But this five-decade relationship has been put to the test in recent years. Short of critical funds to plug its budget deficit following a slump in the price of copper, which constitutes 70 per cent of its exports, Zambia turned to Beijing for loans. South China Morning Post

Blackout: How the M&G Got Censored
On September 10, the Mail & Guardian received a notice from our hosting service, Linode. The oldest online news website in Africa was accused of plagiarism. “You must remove access to the material immediately. If you do not, Linode must remove or disable access to the material expeditiously under federal law,” the email stated, referring to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a copyright law in the United States, where Linode is based. A few days later the M&G website was shut down over an unverified complaint, in an action amounting to media censorship. This is the story about how the M&G was attacked and the investigation that followed. Mail & Guardian

Facebook Removes Accounts from UAE, Nigeria, Egypt and Indonesia
Facebook has removed several pages, groups and accounts on its platforms from the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia, citing “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” aimed at misleading social media users. A total of 443 Facebook accounts, 200 pages and 76 groups, as well as 125 Instagram accounts, were removed, the social media platform said on Thursday. They were traced to three separate and “unconnected” operations, one of which was operating in three countries, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Nigeria; and two others in Indonesia and Egypt, to spread misleading posts and news articles. … Those operations created “networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were, and what they were doing,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy said in the statement. In all, the accounts on Facebook and Instagram commanded an estimated 7.5 million followers. Al Jazeera

Idi Amin’s Mastery of Media Revealed in Newly Published Photos
For decades he has been reviled as a simple-minded and sadistic dictator, or lampooned as a clownish thug. Now tens of thousands of newly discovered images have shown how Idi Amin exploited cutting-edge media technology, populism and radical ideologies to maintain his bloody grip on power in the 1970s. Most of the 70,000 pictures were taken by a team of photographers from the information ministry who followed the Ugandan dictator over the course of his eight-year rule. … Historians say the images, found in a locked filing cabinet at the Ugandan state broadcaster’s offices by archivists four years ago but only now given a public view, provide extraordinary new insights into Amin and the nature of his regime, which was one of the worst in post-colonial Africa. They also cast new light on the reality of life for ordinary Ugandans under the rule of a man held responsible for between 100,000 and 500,000 deaths. The Guardian

The End of Guinea Worm Was Just around the Corner. Not Anymore
Next year was supposed to be the end of the line for Guinea worm. The epic, decades-long campaign against the parasite – which humans and animals can contract from drinking water and which, about a year later, emerges as a worm up to 3 feet long from painful lesions on the feet or legs – has been one of the big success stories in modern global health. In the 1980s, more than 3 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia contracted Guinea worm annually. Last year, that number was down to 28. … But that goal moved further out of reach this week, when the World Health Organization quietly revealed that it has moved its expected Guinea worm eradication date, which had been 2020, ahead a decade, to 2030. The change was first reported in Nature. Over the past few years, the eradication effort has faced a series of setbacks. Last year, South Sudan, one of the countries hit hardest by the parasite, declared victory over it. But only a few months later a new outbreak surfaced there. … The outlook is also spotty on the human front. Last year, Guinea worm was detected for the first time in a patient in Angola. And longstanding civil conflicts in Mali and Sudan have hampered researchers’ efforts to track infections there. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones