Africa Media Review for September 10, 2018

20 Dead as Plane Crashes into Lake in South Sudan
A commercial plane crashed into a lake in South Sudan on Sunday and killed 20 people, a local official said. The 19-seater commercial Baby Air plane had been traveling from the capital, Juba, the minister of information for the town of Yirol, Taban Abel Aguek, told The Associated Press. Officials were investigating the cause of the crash. Among the dead were at least three children and the bishop of Yirol, authorities said. The three survivors are a 6-year-old child, an adult man and an Italian doctor with an aid organization who was in surgery and in serious condition, Aguek said. AP

Islamist Extremists Overrun Key Nigerian Town
Militants have attacked the northern Nigerian town of Gudumbali, with residents reporting several deaths. The Nigerian government had asked displaced people to return to the town in June. Islamist militants reportedly traveling on motorbikes and pick-up trucks attacked the town of Gudumbali in northern Nigeria on Friday, with residents saying many people had been killed or forced to flee. A vigilante, Baba Ali Musa, said the militants had shot sporadically as they entered the town. “They were saying, if you know you’re an innocent person just leave the town, our target is not you, or if you wish to stay with us, it’s no matter, you can stay with us,” he told Reuters news agency. Another resident, named only as Mohammed for fear of military reprisals, said many civilians had been killed and thousands had fled their homes. Gudumbali, which is located at a key crossroads and home to a military outpost, is a town to which the Nigerian government ordered thousands of people displaced by the decade-long war with the Islamist militant group Boko Haram to return in June. Those who refused were reportedly denied food and other aid by officials. DW

Somalia: Car Bomb Attack Strikes Local Govt HQ in Mogadishu
A car bomb explosion struck a local government office in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on Monday morning, killing at least four people, the latest in a string of attacks in the seaside city in the past months, Garowe Online reports. A witness, speaking to Garowe Online said a suspected Al-Shabaab attacker has detonated his explosives-laden vehicle at the gate of Hodon district headquarters in Mogadishu at around 10:00 P.M. local time. Monday’s car bomb attack ripped through the district HQ and caused nearby buildings to collapse. A thick plume of white smoke was seen billowing from the scene as ambulances rushed the wounded to the hospitals. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack which becomes the second such car bombing targeting a district office in the Horn of Africa capital in a month. Garowe Online

Cameroon Anglophone Separatists Block Regional Capital
Armed Anglophone separatists burned buses and blocked traffic into and out of the capital of the English-speaking northwest region, Cameroon’s military said Sunday, and it deployed additional troops. Separatists said the action in Bamenda is meant to disrupt next month’s presidential election as they say voting cannot take place in what they call the independent state of Ambazonia. The months of deadly unrest in Cameroon’s northwest and southwest pose a serious challenge to 85-year-old President Paul Biya, who has been in power since 1982 and is running again. … The unrest began in November 2016 when English-speaking teachers and lawyers in the northwest and southwest began calling for reforms and greater autonomy in the largely French-speaking country. They marched in the streets, criticizing what they called the marginalization of English speakers by French speakers. Separatists later took over the protests and demanded independence for the English-speaking regions. AP

Zimbabwe: ZACC Terrorising Me, Says Biti
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti has said the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) is being used by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to politically persecute him. Biti said this following pronouncement by Zacc that the anti-graft body was set to probe, among other cases multi-million dollar investments by the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) which included how the ministry of Finance under Biti gave a directive to Nssa to deposit $30 million into a bank which was on the brink of collapse. According to the commission chairperson, Goodson Nguni, when Biti was still Finance minister he directed the release of some monies illegally. “We are looking for Biti but we can’t find him, we would like to ask about the allegations made against him that he ordered the release of some money illegally. … Asked to respond to the allegations, Biti who was appointed Finance minister in 2009 following the formation of the GNU accused Zacc of being a State-captured institution, aiming at abusing innocent people.

Burundi Opposition Call for Peace Talks to End
Burundian opposition leaders have called for the next mediated session, expected later this month, to be the last one. The facilitation team, under former president of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa, is currently consulting political leaders and other key stakeholders, in and outside the country, on the next fifth session of the inter-Burundi dialogue in efforts to put an end to the political crisis that erupted in 2015. … President Pierre Nkurunziza’s declaration that he would not seek another term in office was a relief for the facilitation team as it had been a stumbling block, a source close to Mr Mkapa said, adding that the main agenda of the next dialogue session is working on a roadmap for the 2020 elections. The next dialogue session will not include civil society organisations. The East African

UN Accuses DRC Police of Using Force to Break Up Peaceful Protests
The U.N. human rights office accuses police in the Democratic Republic of Congo of violently breaking up peaceful protests ahead of the country’s long-awaited election campaign. The rights office says it is deeply concerned about the violent tactics used by Congolese police to suppress peaceful protests by civil society organizations and opposition political parties. Agency spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says it is happening despite a pledge by authorities to lift a ban on demonstrations, which has been in place since 2017. … Shamdasani says one political activist has been killed in the southeast of the country and more than 140 demonstrators have been arrested since August, many of them arbitrarily. She says people are being detained on charges such as rebellion, criminal association, vandalism, arson and insulting a police agent. She told VOA some people have been released from prison and that is welcomed. VOA

Official: Prominent Police Officer in Uganda is Shot Dead
A spokesperson for Ugandan police says gunmen have killed a prominent police officer and his wife.Spokesperson Emilian Kayima said on Saturday that Muhammad Kirumira was attacked while driving his car near his home outside the capital, Kampala. Kirumira came to prominence earlier this year when he resigned as a district police commander amid a feud with higher-ups whom he accused of corruption and other crimes. … Political tensions have been rising in Uganda following the recent arrest of a musician who is challenging the president. AP

Museveni Blasts U.S. Foreign Meddling; Proposes Law to Punish Collaborators
President Museveni has warned the western community particularly United States of America against meddling in Uganda’s domestic affairs, saying a new legislation could be drafted to penalize collaborators of foreigners. “Interfering in the internal affairs of other countries is morally and practically wrong,” said Museveni in a national address on Sunday. “Morally wrong because the question is: ‘What superior intelligence do you have to think that you can understand the problem in my house better that we the occupants?’” said Museveni. “If there is a problem in our house, we the occupants will solve it. Keep out. It is also practically wrong because outsiders cannot have enough information about a foreign situation.” Museveni has faced intense criticism among groups in the western countries for a crackdown on rioters and alleged torture of lawmakers by security forces. MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine is currently hospitalized in United States where he has since held engagements with the international media. His lawyer Robert Amsterdam has since rallied the international community to remove President Museveni from power and freeze Ugandan leaders’ assets. Chimp Reports

U.N. Rights Boss Bachelet Urges Egypt to Overturn Mass Death Sentences
United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Sunday urged Egypt’s appeals court to overturn mass death sentences handed down by a lower court after what she said was an “unfair trial”. The former Chilean President, who took office as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights last week, criticised a law giving immunity from future prosecution to senior military officers. An Egyptian court on Saturday delivered death sentences to 75 people, including prominent Islamist leaders Essam al-Erian and Mohamed Beltagi, over a 2013 sit-in that ended with security forces killing hundreds of protesters. If carried out, the sentences “would represent a gross and irreversible miscarriage of justice”, Bachelet said in a statement. Defendants were denied the right to individual lawyers and to present evidence, while “the prosecution did not provide sufficient evidence to prove individual guilt”, she said. Reuters

Somali Regional States Suspend Ties With Federal Government
The leaders of Somalia’s federal member states said Saturday that they had suspended all ties with the central government in what was likely another setback for the Horn of Africa nation as it emerges from two decades of conflict. At the end of a crucial four-day conference in the southern coastal city of Kismayo, the leaders of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Jubaland, Puntland and South West states accused the Mogadishu government of failing to handle the country’s security, of failing to fulfill its responsibilities toward the states in line with the country’s federal structure, and of taking its eye off the fight against al-Qaida-linked Islamist militants. “Because it had been responsible for the issues that had worsened its relations with the Federal Member States, we came to the conclusion that we suspend our collaborations with the Federal Government until it mends its mistakes,” the leaders said in a joint communique. VOA

Madagascan President Steps Down Ahead of Election
Madagascan President Hery Rajaonarimampianina stepped down on Friday, in line with the constitution, to contest elections in which he will face rivals including opposition leader and ex-president Andry Rajoelina. Rajaonarimampianina resigned two months ahead of the November 7 vote on the Indian Ocean island that has been beset by political instability. “The time has come for me to resign in accordance with the constitution and today I have submitted my request to the constitutional court,” he said in a brief televised speech. Mounting protests earlier this year forced Rajaonarimampianina to accept the formation of a “consensus” government tasked with organising the election. Demonstrators took to the capital Antananarivo’s central square between April and June over Rajaonarimampianina’s efforts to change electoral laws that opponents said were intended to favour his party. The proposals were overturned by the courts. News24

Angola’s Lourenço Appointed Leader of Ruling MPLA Party
Angolan President João Lourenço on Saturday took the helm of the ruling MPLA party, winning unopposed a leadership election that marks the end of Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ almost 40-year dominance of Angolan politics. Although Lourenço replaced dos Santos as president last September, the latter remained head of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, a power split that some believe has slowed Lourenço’s reform agenda in a country where the separation between party and state has long been blurred. Analysts expect that, with the party leadership in hand, Lourenço may look to shuffle his cabinet to further drive his anti-corruption campaign and economic reforms in Africa’s second largest crude producer, although who will be swapped or when remains uncertain. Reuters

Interpol Breaks Up Human Trafficking Ring in Sudan
Police in Sudan’s capital have rescued 94 victims of human trafficking, 85 of them minors. Some of the victims rescued in Khartoum were 10 years old. Interpol, the international police organization, broke up the trafficking ring in Operation Sawiyan that was conducted August 26 – 30. Twelve women and two men were arrested in the bust and $20,000 was seized. The victims were found at several locations, including Khartoum’s international airport and open-air gold mines east of the city. Interpol said in a statement Monday that many of minors were “discovered working under extreme conditions in illegally-operated gold mines, where children as young as ten were also handling dangerous chemicals and substances such as mercury and cyanide.” Interpol said the rescued people were from Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan. VOA

Sudan, Russia Discuss Security Cooperation against Terrorism
Director of National Intelligence and Security Services Salah Abdallah has discussed with the Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Nikolai Patrushev ways to enhance security cooperation between the two countries. n a press release on Thursday, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation said the meeting focused on ways to counter the dangers of terrorism in the Middle East and Africa. The two sides agreed to coordinate stances on a wide range of regional and international issues of common concern, pointing Sudan and Russia have enjoyed a long-standing relationship of friendship and cooperation in various fields. … During a visit to Moscow last month to attend the 2018 World Cup Final, the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir was met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Both leaders pledged to promote military cooperation in the near future. … Politically, Russia is seen as a major ally of the government of al-Bashir that faces isolation from the West. However, economic cooperation between the two countries has remained very low, with a trade balance that does not exceed $400 million. Sudan Tribune

Ethiopia Bags China Debt Deal, Others Wait
Ethiopia became the first country on the continent to have its Chinese debts restructured even as it became apparent that several other countries were waiting for loan concessions to avert distress. On Thursday, Ethiopia announced that China had agreed to restructure some of its loans, including the one for the $4 billion railway linking its capital Addis Ababa with Djibouti. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the loans would be restructured, with a further 20-year extension, which will see its annual repayments come down to an affordable level. It is understood that Djibouti could also be on the way to enjoying reprieve, given that its debts from Beijing were already choking it. … China will implement eight major initiatives with Africa in the next three years even as some previous pledges remain unfulfilled. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones