Africa Media Review for September 13, 2018

France’s Macron Admits to Military’s Systematic Use of Torture in Algeria War
France will formally recognize the French military’s systemic use of torture in the Algerian War in the 1950s and 1960s, an unprecedented step forward in grappling with its long-suppressed legacy of colonial crimes. President Emmanuel Macron announced his watershed decision in the context of a call for clarity on the fate of Maurice Audin, a Communist mathematician and anti-colonial militant who was tortured by the French army and forcibly disappeared in 1957, in the midst of Algeria’s bloody struggle for independence from France. Audin’s death is a specific case, but it represents a cruel system put in place at the state-level, the Elysee Palace said. “It was nonetheless made possibly by a legally instituted system: the ‘arrest-detention’ system, set up under the special powers that been entrusted by law to the armed forces at that time,” reads a statement to be released by Macron’s office Thursday, seen by Le Monde newspaper. Macron, 40, has shown a rare willingness to wade into the memory of Algeria, arguably the most sensitive chapter in the French experience of the 20th century, after entering the political arena. The Washington Post

South Sudan Conflicting Parties Sign Final Peace Deal
South Sudanese arch-foes this evening signed a peace agreement, aimed at ending the devastating civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions. President Kiir and opposition groups, including his arch-rival Riek Machar signed the final deal in Ethiopia, under which the main opposition leader is set to return to a new unity government as first vice presidents, one of five vice presidents. As part of the signed power-sharing deal, Kiir will remain president. The deal, which paves the way to peace and stability in the war torn country, was signed in the presence of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his counterparts from the region, along with foreign diplomats.  Radio Tamazuj

DR Congo Opposition Unites to Warn Kabila of Election ‘Chaos’ Risk
Six DR Congo opposition leaders on Wednesday urged President Joseph Kabila’s government to respect the rules for a long-delayed presidential election or risk “chaos” in a country mired by poverty and political rivalries. The appeal was made in Brussels by presidential candidates Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe, along with fellow opposition leaders Jean-Pierre Bemba, Moses Katumbi, Adolphe Muzito and Antipas Mbusa. They warned the national election committee and Kabila’s government to heed their demands or be “held responsible for the chaos and consequences that will result from organising a parody of an election”. Their demands are contained in a joint statement ahead of the December 23 elections. AFP

US Targets Libyan Militia Leader with Sanctions
The U.S. Treasury Department has slapped sanctions on the leader of a militia in Libya for attacks on the country’s oil facilities. The U.S. says Ibrahim Jadhran (ib-rah-heem jud-raan)’s attacks “robbed the Libyan people of billions of dollars in oil revenue.” Wednesday’s action is part of a push to take forceful action against “rogue criminals and militia forces who undermine peace and security.” It blocks any property that Jadhran may have in the U.S. and prohibits Americans from doing business with him. The North African nation has been in turmoil since an uprising in 2011 that toppled and later killed longtime ruler Moammar Gaddafi (moo-ah-mahr gah-daf-ee). Treasury says Jadhran has sought control of key oil terminals in Libya’s northeast and his attacks have hurt oil exports. The Washington Post

US Seeks Tougher UN Action against Peacekeepers’ Failures
The United States is seeking Security Council approval for a resolution to toughen U.N. action against peacekeepers that fail to protect civilians, including by sending them home and refusing to pay their governments. The United Nations, which deploys 96,000 peacekeepers in 14 missions from the Mideast and Africa to Haiti and India-Pakistan’s disputed Kashmir region, has come under sharp criticism for sexual abuse by its troops and failures to protect civilians. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told a council meeting Wednesday that the key to peacekeeping is trust between the protected and the protectors, and when that is gone the mission will fail. “Even worse than failures to protect are instances in which civilians have been attacked, abused, and exploited by the peacekeepers who are supposed to protect them,” she said.  AP

Violence Continues to Disrupt Life in Many Parts of Cameroon
People are deserting the English-speaking regions of Cameroon after hundreds of armed separatists and the military were involved in Tuesday’s bloody conflicts in five towns and villages leaving at least 15 people dead. The population complains that the army was slow in responding to simultaneous attacks by the separatists. Intensive shooting between an unknown number of armed separatists and at least 50 soldiers of the Rapid Intervention Battalion, BIR, an elite corps of Cameroon’s military is going on at Mile 16, Bolifamba, a neighborhood in the southwestern town of Buea. As the military shoots, some of the troops clear the wreckage of vehicles, abandoned containers, trees and heavy metals the armed separatists are said to have used in blocking all entrances into the town before the military arrived. The military said the attackers also burned vehicles, houses and shops.  VOA

Nigeria’s Buhari Officially Declares for Second Term
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday formally submitted his candidacy to stand for a second term of office at elections in February next year. The 75-year-old leader travelled to the headquarters of his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party in the capital Abuja to hand in his nomination form. He was accompanied by state governors, government ministers and party supporters. He said afterwards he was seeking the nomination “with all humility, sense of responsibility and an unquestionable desire to serve and protect the interest of all Nigerians”. Well-wishers and supporters clubbed together to pay the 45 million naira ($125 000) for the nomination form.  AFP

Nigeria Accuses Switzerland of Being ‘Accessory’ to Abacha Loot
Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, has flayed Switzerland for its role in keeping the infamous Abacha loot and making the process of repatriation of the assets strenuous. The Abacha loot refers to monies believed to have been stolen and stashed in countries and tax havens around the world by late Nigerian ruler, Sani Abacha. Switzerland recently agreed to repatriate a fresh $350 million as part of the Abacha loot in that country. The minister said he was also shocked and angry by the chunk of the money retained by “institutions in Switzerland and lawyers”. Mr Onyeama spoke Tuesday morning at the opening of 2nd International Conference on Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Enhancing Asset Recovery for Sustainable Development.  Premium Times

No Books, No Desks, No Pay – Nigeria’s Education Is Failing
When Babalola Foluke enters her classroom at Ibadan Municipal Government school in southwestern Nigeria each morning she faces a demoralizing scene: shortages of books, chalk and desks for her 41 students. Often, she hasn’t been paid for several months. Foluke, 44, is one of tens of thousands of teachers struggling to train the next generation in Africa’s most populous nation in a ramshackle school system gutted by corruption, a lack of investment and the flight of qualified instructors abroad and to private sector jobs. Nigeria’s education system is failing to arm its children with the skills they need to work in the banking, manufacturing and petroleum industries that drive the economy. Bloomberg

Rockets Fired at Airport in Libya’s Capital Tripoli
Rockets were fired late on Tuesday in the direction of the airport in Libya’s capital, residents said, forcing flights to be diverted, less than a week after the United Nations brokered a fragile truce between rival armed groups in Tripoli. A spokesman for a faction controlling Matiga airport, the only one functioning in the capital, said there were no casualties or damage. Libyan channels reported that several people had been wounded by the rockets, one of which landed in the Mediterranean sea. Rival groups have been fighting in Tripoli for several days but clashes had been focused on the south of the city.  France 24

UNAMID Completes Construction of New Base in Jebel Marra
An aerial photo published by the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Wednesday has shown completion of the Mission’s base in Golo, Jebel Marra area, Central Darfur State. Last year, the UN Security Council decided to reduce the UNAMID, admitting that the security situation has improved but it decided to reinforce its presence in Jebel Marra because there is no cessation of hostilities as the Sudan Liberation Movement -Abdel Wahid fighters (SLM-AW) refuses to declare it unilaterally or to engage in peace negotiations. On January 28, the Sudanese government officially handed over a land to UNAMID to establish a Temporary Operating Base (TOB) in Golo, Jebel Marra. The aerial view of the newly established base shows a completed outer fence including three major gates and four observation towers.  Sudan Tribune

Islamic Development Bank Freezes Somalia Project
The Islamic Development Bank has suspended a multimillion dollar project in Somalia due to accusations of corruption and mismanagement. Started in October 2016, the Dryland Development Project was being conducted in three rural villages to help pastoralists build resilience to drought, give them access to health and education services, and develop livestock and crops. The project was set to cost $5 million overall, and since February 2017, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) had transferred about $1.5 million to an account at Somalia’s central bank in three installments. But according to an IsDB audit of the project, a progress report submitted by the project’s coordinator, Abdishakur Aden Mohamud, contained “no substantial information” on what the project has achieved.  VOA

Public Assembly Banned in Zimbabwe Capital amid Cholera Outbreak
Authorities in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, banned public gatherings as part of efforts to contain a cholera outbreak that has killed 21 people over the past week. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Zimbabwe Republic Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba asked residents to “take heed” of the ruling, which came after health officials identified more than 3,000 suspected cases of the waterborne disease. “The government has declared the cholera outbreak in Harare a state of emergency, meaning that it is also a threat to human security,” Charamba said. Outbreaks of cholera occur regularly in Zimbabwe because of dilapidated water and sanitation facilities. Informal housing areas without running water have mushroomed and basic infrastructure has collapsed after years of neglect. Al Jazeera

As a New Leader Rises in Ethiopia, Its Diaspora Dares to Dream
The last time Neamin Zeleke saw home was in 1986. He was 16, dressed in his only suit, waiting for a plane in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that would take him to the United States for high school. With a repressive communist regime running his country, he never returned. Instead, he settled in the Washington suburbs and remained there as the decades passed and the old dictatorship was replaced by a new one. He raised a family in Virginia and lost contact with relatives at home. Then in February, after three years of mounting unrest, Ethiopia’s prime minister resigned. Abiy Ahmed, an outspoken 42-year-old reformer, took office. Since then, there has been a wave of stunning change. The Washington Post

New EU-AU Partnership to Create 10 Million Jobs
The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday the continent’s regional bloc will propose a new alliance with Africa, that will create up to 10 million jobs. Juncker, who was delivering his annual state of the union speech to the European Parliament said a framework will be set up to attract more investment into Africa. ‘‘Today, we are proposing a new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa, that would help create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next 5 years alone,’‘ Juncker said. While he will be stepping down from his role in a year’s time, Juncker indicated that in the future, the EU would seek to take advantage of Africa’s efforts to forge a free trade area within the continent by offering a continent-to-continent free trade agreement.  Africa News

Morocco Bans Forced Marriage and Sexual Violence
Morocco’s law criminalising violence against women has come into force. The law includes a ban on forced marriage, sexual harassment in public places, and tougher penalties for certain forms of violence. It has been criticised by Human Rights Watch for not explicitly criminalising marital rape and lacking a precise definition of domestic violence. A government survey found that 63% of women between the ages of 18-65 had been victims of violence. Samira Raiss, one of the main Moroccan campaigners for a law criminalising violence against women, said: “We will not stop here. This law is an asset but it has shortcomings that we have to work on.” The law – known as the Hakkaoui law after Women’s Minister Bassima Hakkaoui, who drafted it five years ago – has been criticised for requiring victims to file for criminal prosecution to obtain protection.  BBC

Algeria Blighted by Youth Unemployment despite Recovering Oil Prices
Two years after graduating from university, Ali Lamir, 26, spends his days sitting in a cafe in central Algiers thinking about how to land a job. He is not alone – more than one in four Algerians under the age of 30 are unemployed in a country which remains heavily reliant on its exports of oil and gas, despite numerous official promises of economic diversification over many years. And economists see little prospect of improvement despite a recovery in global oil prices, saying the government of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, will probably spend any increased revenues on imports, not on job-creation initiatives. “My university degree is of no use. I have been looking for a job for two years but to no avail,” said Lamir, a graduate of the Algiers Institute of Law and Administrative Sciences. Reuters

After Elephant Killings, Botswana Is Considering Lifting Hunting Ban
Botswana launched a review on Wednesday of a 2014 hunting ban imposed to reverse a decline in elephants and other wildlife. The prohibition on big game sports hunting was the work of ex-president Ian Khama, a keen conservationist, to shield species decimated by hunting and habitat loss. But lawmakers from the ruling Botswana Democratic party have been lobbying to overturn the ban, especially on elephant hunting, saying populations have become unmanageably large in parts – placing the animals on a collision course with humans. Khama’s successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, launched a month of nationwide consultations on Wednesday that could ring in the end of the ban. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones