Africa Media Review for September 11, 2017

Peacekeeping Crucial for African Stability
Despite their shortcomings, African peace operations have saved lives, built security sector capacity, and helped mitigate conflict—reducing pressure on international actors to become directly involved. Armed conflicts in Africa have substantially declined from their peak in the early 1990s. The 12 ongoing conflicts represent a 35 percent drop from two decades ago. This downward trend can be attributed to a variety of factors. One of these has been the greater willingness to deploy peacekeeping missions in Africa. Since 2000, more than 40 United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), and other UN–authorized missions have been deployed to the continent. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Al-Shabab Fighters Storm Military Base in Somalia
Militant Islamists have attacked a Somali military base and police station near the border with Kenya, killing eight soldiers, an official has said. The al-Shabab militants rammed the base in Beled Hawa town with an explosives-packed vehicle, and then stormed it on foot, Mohamud Hayd Osman added. Al-Shabab said it had killed 30 soldiers in the hit-and-run attack. It has carried out a spate of attacks in Somalia and Kenya since launching an insurgency more than a decade ago. BBC

Suicide Bomber Kills 6 in Central Somalia
At least six people died after an al-Shabab suicide bomber blew himself up in a restaurant just outside a senior official’s office in the central Somali city of Beledweyne. The deadly blast took place outside the office of the governor of the Hiran region, where he was holding a meeting, police and residents said on Sunday. “At least six people died and several others were wounded. A suicide bomber blew up himself in a restaurant,” Major Hussein Osman, a police officer, told Reuters news agency from Beledweyne. The al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab group said it was behind the attack. “We are behind the attack at the Hiran governor’s headquarters. There are casualties. We targeted the workers of the Hiran administration,” said Abdiasis Abu Musab, an al-Shabab spokesman. Al Jazeera

US General, World Summit Hint on KDF Time Frame in Somalia
Almost six years since Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) moved to Somalia, debate still rages on whether the combat mission is tenable. General Thomas Waldhauser of the United States Marines, a key ally of Kenya’s involvement in Somalia, says that ultimately Kenya will withdraw from Somalia, but it is not yet time. He recommends a tactical withdrawal. This should happen when the Somalia National Army is well equipped and big enough in terms of personnel to take on Al-Shabaab terrorist group on its own. Speaking at US Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany, he said: “In Amisom, there has been discussion on departure and, at some point, it is going to be inevitable. “After the London conference, one of the things that came out is that you can’t simply walk away, or fall out. “There needs to be a type of transition. Troop-contributing countries can’t stay there forever. “President Farmajo needs to make sure that the Somalia national army is ready for that.” Amisom is the Africa Union Mission in Somalia and is supported by the United Nations. Daily Nation

Nigeria Claims Major Boko Haram Plot Stopped
Nigeria on Saturday said it had foiled Boko Haram plans for a coordinated series of attacks across the country during celebrations for the recent festival of Eid al-Adha. The country’s intelligence agency, the Department of State Services (DSS), said it had disrupted “sinister plans… to cause mayhem and destruction” during the public holiday weekend last week. “The plan was to conduct gun attacks and suicide bombing on selected targets in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Niger, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states,” said DSS spokesperson Tony Opuiyo. The alleged mastermind of the planned attacks, identified as Husseini Mai-Tangaran, was arrested in the northern city of Kano on August 31, leading to the detention of a number of others, he added. AFP

Nigeria: 19 Killed in Suspected Fulani Reprisal Attack
At least 19 people were killed in a suspected reprisal attack on a village in the central Nigerian Plateau state in the early hours of Friday, according to a local police chief. The incident came three days after a Fulani boy, who had been declared missing, was found dead in the village of Ancha, police commissioner Peter Ogunyanwo told reporters late Friday. “We are investigating the matter, but from our findings so far, the attack was carried out by Fulani herdsmen to avenge the killing of a young boy. We have been told that a Fulani boy resident in the village was reported missing on Aug. 3. We are told that his body was later found without the head,” said the police chief. Anadolu Agency

Cracks Grow in Nigerian Ruling Party over Buhari Election Plans
With doubts growing that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will seek a second term because of lingering health issues, cracks are emerging in the ruling All Progressives Congress as key politicians jostle to succeed him. Women Affairs Minister Aisha Alhassan appeared in an online video last week declaring support for former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to become leader in 2019, when Buhari’s term ends. Alhassan confirmed the recording to the British Broadcasting Corp., saying she would quit the government if Buhari, 74, decided to seek re-election and back Abubakar, whom she referred to as her “godfather.” “It’s an open rebellion; it’s an indication that many do not believe he will run in 2019,” said Cheta Nwanze, an analyst at Lagos-based SBM Intelligence business advisory. “It’s also an indication that even if he does run they don’t think he has the political machinery to pull off a return.”  Bloomberg

Mugabe Drops Succession Bombshell
Mugabe told thousands of his supporters at Bindura’s Chipadze Stadium, Mashonaland Central that anointing Grace as his successor would be a violation of the Zanu PF constitution. However, the declaration contradicted his wife who had spoken a few minutes earlier emphasising that the 93-year-old ruler had a right to hand-pick a successor. Last month the 52-year-old first lady went public demanding that Mugabe anoint a successor as Zanu PF infighting reached frightening levels. “I will never do that, never,” he said. “The party leader will be chosen by the people at congress and as a lawyer, I will respect that.” Mugabe’s speech, which appeared like an attempt to cool off tempers after his wife humiliated Mnangagwa, was about the history of factionalism in Zanu PF but also a serious attack on the VP’s standing as a politician. The Zimbabwe Standard

Zimbabwe: Marange Diamond Fields Firms ‘Captured’ by Sinister Spooks, State Elites
Corruption watchdog Global Witness says it has found new evidence linking Zimbabwe’s military and intelligence agency with several companies operating in the Marange diamond fields, connections long hidden behind an opaque wall of secrecy over revenue flows and ownership. “From the outset of the Marange discovery, Zimbabwe’s diamond mining sector has been shrouded in secrecy with poor governance underpinned by a lack of transparency and accountability,” the report, titled “An Inside Job”, reads. “Inside a closed industry, chronic mismanagement and diverted diamond proceeds have provided off-budget funds to those who have stifled dissent and democracy in Zimbabwe.” First discovered in Zimbabwe’s far east in 2006, the Marange diamond fields have been repeatedly linked to corruption and human rights violations. The armed forces were accused in 2008 of brutally evicting thousands of artisanal miners who had flooded the area after diamonds were discovered, while in 2011 activists claimed the diamonds were being used to fund President Robert Mugabe’s presidential campaign. Daily Maverick

Ouattara Declines Leadership of Ivory Coast Ruling Party
Ivory Coast president Alassane Ouattara has declined an opportunity to continue as leader of the ruling Rally of Republicans (RDR) party. The 75-year-old whiles rejecting the position also put forward a female nominee for the post during the RDR’s third congress held in the capital Abidjan over the weekend. His nominee, Henriette Diabate, was subsequently voted leader by acclamation whiles the President was also appointed an honorary president of RDR. Africa News

South Africa’s Ruling ANC Limps toward Choosing New Leader
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is fending off fresh crises as the bitter fight for control of the former liberation party grows before President Jacob Zuma steps down as party leader in December. A racially divisive public relations campaign, sexual allegations against the deputy president and what appears to be a political assassination highlight the struggle for power within Nelson Mandela’s storied movement. “It’s a really tense time for the ANC,” said Daniel Silke, an independent political analyst. The scandals are a testament to the ANC’s instability as it gets ready to select a new leader at its conference in December, he said. AP

South Africa’s Dlamini-Zuma, ANC Leadership Contender, to Become MP
South African veteran politician and anti-apartheid activist Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a leading contender to take over as head of the ruling ANC in December, will be sworn in as a member of parliament next week, a senior party official said on Friday. Dlamini-Zuma, the ex-wife of current ANC leader and South African President Jacob Zuma, does not hold a top position and could use a seat in parliament to raise her profile ahead of the party’s December leadership conference. “She is going to be sworn in,” ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe was quoted as saying by the local EWN news network. The former health and foreign affairs minister’s main opponent in the ANC leadership race is expected to be Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a trade unionist-turned-business tycoon whom many investors would prefer to see running a country with serious economic challenges. Reuters

Togo Must Introduce Two-Term Limit Swiftly to Prevent Crisis-UN
Togo must go the way of other West African nations and swiftly limit presidential terms to two if it wants to prevent protests escalating into a political crisis, the United Nations envoy to the region said on Saturday. Thousands of people have taken to the streets in the past three days to demand that President Faure Gnassingbe step aside, in the most serious challenge to his family’s 50-year ruling dynasty since the death of his father in 2005. Police have responded with tear gas, although avoiding the bloodshed that has tarnished previous demonstrations, and internet and phone calls have been restricted. There were no further reports of protests on Saturday, and they seemed to have died down, but the opposition said they would continue until Gnassingbe steps aside. Reuters

EU Border Agency Chief Sees Spike in Spain Migrant Arrivals
The head of the European Union’s border agency says the number of migrants arriving in Europe through Spain has more than doubled this year. Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri said Monday that “we have registered almost 14,000 arrivals in Spain, arriving from Morocco, from the western part of the Maghreb.” Leggeri said it “means that the figures were multiplied by more than 2.5 this year” compared to the same January-August period last year. He said most migrants were Moroccan nationals. He says arrivals to Europe from Libya through the central Mediterranean have dropped but could he not say whether the rise in Spain was due to tougher migrant controls around Libya. He says, as of now, “Frontex has no indication of such displacement.” AP

Egypt Says Police Killed 10 Suspected Militants in Cairo
Egypt said police on Sunday killed 10 militants who sneaked into the capital from the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, epicenter of an insurgency led by an affiliate of the Islamic State group. A statement by the Interior Ministry, which oversees security forces, said the militants were hiding in two apartments in the densely populated Ard el-Liwa neighborhood, where they held organizational meetings and planned a “series of terror attacks” in central provinces, a reference to Cairo and its twin city of Giza. The presence of a cell of as many as 10 militants in a Cairo district not far from the heart of the city points to a determined effort by IS and other militant groups to stage deadly and potentially high-profile attacks in the national capital, which would shatter a fragile but relative sense of security in a city of some 20 million people. ABC News

Tanzania: Political Climate Worsens amid Crackdown on Opposition
President Magufuli has been accused of governing in an increasingly authoritarian style, as members of the opposition become concerned for their safety. In Tanzania, there is growing concern over the worsening political climate. One of the government’s most prominent critics has undergone an operation following an assassination attempt on Thursday in neighboring Kenya. Opposition leader Tundu Lissu was on his way home after attending a parliamentary meeting when armed men fired multiple shots at his car. The 49-year-old leader of the Party for Democracy and Progress, also known as Chadema, was severely injured in the attack. Lissu is considered to be one of the most vocal critics of President John Magufuli. Deutsche Welle

South Africa Drawn into Lesotho’s Power Struggle
The Southern Africa’s regional body (SADC) is sending a rapid-response team to Lesotho. The team is to investigate the assassination of the country’s army commander. The killing of Lesotho’s army chief Khoantle Motsomotso dashed any hopes that the Southern African Development Community regional body (SADC) might have had about an end to the cycle of violence in the tiny mountain kingdom. Instead, the killing—which occurred at a military barracks in the capital, Maseru—has highlighted the bitter power struggle between the country’s military and its politicians. Deutsche Welle

Sudanese Officials Optimistic of Full Lifting of U.S. Sanctions
A number of Sudanese officials have expressed optimism over the full lift of more than 20 years of U.S. sanctions against Khartoum. Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan. The process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in Darfur region, the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Last January, former U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order easing the Sudan sanctions on a probationary basis. The sanctions relief was to become permanent on 12 July unless the U.S. Administration acted to stop it. Sudan Tribune

WHO: Over 500 Dead as Congo Cholera Epidemic Spreads
More than 500 people have died so far in a cholera epidemic that is sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. Outbreaks of the water-borne disease occur regularly in Congo, mainly due to poor sanitation and a lack of access to clean drinking water. But this year’s epidemic, which has already hit at least 10 urban areas including the capital Kinshasa, is particularly worrying as it comes as about 1.4 million people have been displaced by violence in the central Kasai region. The WHO said at least 528 people had died and the epidemic had spread to 20 of Congo’s 26 provinces. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones