Africa Media Review for September 14, 2016

Clash with Boko Haram in Niger Kills Five Soldiers, 30 Militants
Thirty members of Boko Haram and five Nigerian soldiers have been killed in fighting in the southeastern Diffa region of Niger, the defence ministry said in a statement late on Tuesday. The clash took place Monday near the village of Toumour, near Lake Chad and the Nigerian border, an area that has plagued by violence from the Islamist militant group and is under an extended state of emergency. Boko Haram took the nearby town of Bosso in early June, in an attack that killed 32 soldiers and was the deadliest Boko Haram assault in Niger since April 2015. Since then, Chad has sent troops to help Niger wage a counterattack. Reuters

It Takes a Village to Kill a Child
Life had gotten harder in Madriya in recent years. As Boko Haram pursued its stated goal of establishing a caliphate in the Lake Chad region, it destroyed virtually everything in its path. Militants looted and burned villages, kidnapped children, and brutally murdered thousands of people. They mined fields and killed farmers as they tended their crops, strangling trade routes and hampering humanitarian access. Local markets dried up, and, like most of his neighbors, Aboubacar Yunnus was able to plant less and less each year. Food stocks dwindled, and neighbors increasingly talked about how people in nearby villages were dying of starvation. Still, the family clung to a tenuous routine. Aboubacar ate and slept. Halima braided Houwa’s hair, the infant resting in his sister’s lap. Aboubacar Yunnus worked the fields and checked his Nokia phone. For the first eight months of Aboubacar’s life, things continued like this, hunger and uncertainty forming the backdrop to daily life. Then came the violence of Boko Haram.  Foreign Policy

Somalia Hosts Igad Summit for First Time in 30 Years
Regional leaders met in Mogadishu Tuesday for an extraordinary Igad summit to discuss the security situation in Somalia ahead of the election and the South Sudan crisis. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) summit was held in Somalia for the first time in three decades since the regional bloc was formed in 1986. The summit was attended by heads of state and governments from Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. Host President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud described the occasion as a great moment for Somalia. “Hosting such a high profile summit is a clear indication of recognition from the region and the international community of the progress the country has been making towards building a new Somalia, after more than two decades of anarchy,” he said. The country fell into civil war in 1991 after President Siad Barre was toppled. The East African

Gabon: Civil Society Calls for an International Inquiry on the Post-electoral “Massacres”
A Civil society group, an association of Europeans and Africans named “ Collective turn the page” has requested for an international inquiry on the military and police repression that followed the post-election violence in Gabon, in which at least six people were killed. A popular revolt had followed the re-election of outgoing President Ali Bongo Ondimba “creating a military repression” in the Central African country. Some Families are still in search of their relations who have disappeared since August 31, following the announcement of the provisional results of the presidential elections granting victory to President Bongo. The civil-society group is requesting for an international probe on the massacre of civilians by the repression forces. Africa News

David Cameron’s ‘Ill-conceived’ Libya War Led to Rise of Islamic State, Say MPs In Damning Attack on former PM
avid Cameron’s “ill-conceived” military intervention in Libya led to the rise of Islamic State in North Africa according to a scathing report from MPs. The former Prime Minister took the country to war against Col Muammar Gaddafi on a series of “erroneous assumptions” and then drifted into an “opportunistic” policy of regime change that left Libya in chaos. Attacking Mr Cameron’s leadership, MPs accuse him of misunderstanding what was happening on the ground, and doing too little to find a political way to get the dictator to stand down. The Telegraph

Libya’s Future Looks Dark with Fate of Government Close to Being Sealed
On 15 September 2011 David Cameron flew into a newly liberated Tripoli with the then president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, to be mobbed by rebels grateful for Nato airstrikes that had helped them secure victory over Muammar Gaddafi. Beaming with delight in the sunshine, Cameron declared: “Your friends in Britain and France will stand with you as you build your country and build your democracy for the future.” Back then, optimism was in the air. In rebel camps, coffee bars, hotels already jammed with foreign businesspeople – even amid the shattered concrete ruins of Gaddafi’s giant Bab al-Azizia compound – the talk was of progress. The Guardian

Western Nations Urge Libya General to Give Up Oil Terminals
The United States and five Western nations have called upon forces loyal to a Libyan general to withdraw from three eastern oil terminals seized earlier this week, drawing a rebuke Tuesday from the internationally-recognized parliament. The U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain said the U.N.-brokered government based in the capital, Tripoli, is the “sole steward of these resources,” adding that “Libya’s oil belongs to the Libyan people.” “We also call on all forces to avoid any action that could damage Libya’s energy infrastructure or further disrupt its exports,” said the joint statement, issued late Monday. It also warned against “illicit oil exports.” VOA

Scaling Up a Drug Trade, Straight Through ISIS Turf
The Moroccan drug producers consistently use individualized branding logos, like a scorpion or a dollar sign. That helped investigators pick up the drug shipments’ trail again after they left Libya, traveling along an overland route through Egypt and then on to Europe through the Balkans. But the investigators are still not sure what happened as the drugs passed through. From interrogations and surveillance, they know the route crossed territory that until a few weeks ago was claimed by the Islamic State — which has taxed shipments of drugs and other goods in Syria and Iraq. That, in particular, led the Italian drug investigators to start asking questions they never expected to confront: Could the Islamic State or some other group be profiting from the drug route by taxing it? Was the militant-driven chaos in Libya providing an opportunity by drug traffickers to pick a route the authorities wouldn’t suspect, or were the Libyan-based groups more directly involved? The investigation continues. The New York Times

Watch: South Sudan Leaders ‘Have Property in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia
A recent investigative report by The Sentry has highlighted the plight faced by the South Sudanese people after it revealed how opposing political leaders were both profiting from the ongoing civil war in the country, BBC reports. The Sentry, which is an initiative of the Enough Project looks to disrupt and ultimately dismantle the network of perpetrators, facilitators and enablers, who fund and profit from Africa’s deadliest conflicts. The investigative report, released on Tuesday said that South Sudan’s political and military elite had profited greatly while the country suffered under a civil war of their own making. News 24

South Sudan Threatens to Sue The Sentry over Corruption Report
Spokesperson of the South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, has threatened to take to court The Sentry organization based in the United States for releasing a report which has implicated him and his family in corruption in the young country. The 65-page report released on Monday in Washington DC in the presence of multiple international media representatives accused President Kiir, his family members, including teenage children, for involving corruption. The report presented evidence of documents and eyewitnesses accounts which showed that the president and his family members, in laws and close senior military officers involved in corruption. Sudan Tribune

President Kiir Accuses UN of Taking Machar’s Side for Regime Change
South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, has expressed disappointment with the United Nations for providing a transport to his rival and former First Vice President, Riek Machar, and members of his armed opposition fighters, claiming it was part of the regime change strategy. United Nations report released this week confirmed that the renewed fighting in Juba on 8 July was ordered by President Kiir and his army chief, Paul Malong Awan, during which they dislodged Machar with his small number of troops and followed him into the bushes until he crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). UN mission in the neighbouring Congo had to extract Machar and his forces and gave him medical attention. President Kiir however said the UN should not have transported Machar. He accused Machar of returning to Juba in April not to implement the peace agreement but to rather work for a regime change from within. Sudan Tribune

Zambia’s Edgar Lungu Sworn In after Disputed Vote 
Zambian President Edgar Lungu has been sworn into office after the country’s top court rejected a petition by the opposition to block his inauguration as “illegal and unconstitutional”. Lungu, re-elected last month in a closely contested vote, called for national unity in his speech on Tuesday at the event held at a stadium in the capital, Lusaka, and attended by regional leaders. “Now that the elections are over, we must say as a people that we stand as united as ever,” Lungu told tens of thousands of spectators, vowing to prioritise reviving the country’s stumbling economy.  Al Jazeera

Zambia: After a Bruising Election, Lungu Confronts Multiple Crises
On Tuesday, Edgar Lungu will be inaugurated as President of the Republic of Zambia for the second time. His path to the Heroes’ Stadium in Lusaka, where the ceremony will take place, has been long and messy. Lungu’s last 18 months in office – he won a snap election following the death in office of Michael Sata – have effectively been an audition for a full term in the top job, and it is safe to say that his performance divided audiences. For some, Lungu is an able torchbearer for Sata’s legacy, a strong leader who builds roads and schools and puts workers’ rights ahead of corporate profits. For others, he’s corrupt and power-hungry, and has abused his position to sully Zambia’s proud democratic record. Daily Maverick

Uganda Police Break Up Protest Against Removal of Age Limits
Uganda police Tuesday arrested at least two dozen women activists after breaking up a protest against a move to remove the age limit for judges. The activists said they suspected that the private member Bill tabled in Parliament by Nakifuma County MP Robert Kafeero Sekitoleko is a ruse to pave way for the amendment of Article 102 (b) of the Constitution to remove presidential age cap from the current 75 years. “We as the women’s movement in Uganda, we are committed to working for a people-centred government and we disagree with the intent and the spirit of the motion. Therefore, we felt that today we needed to come out as well and elicit public support” said Ms Eunice Musiime, the executive director Akina Mama Wa Africa. The East African

U.N. Needs More Female Peacekeepers to Protect Women In Conflict: Experts
More women must be included in United Nations peacekeeping missions to help restore credibility to troops marred by accusations of sexual violence and to protect women in conflict, speakers at a U.N. defence summit said on Thursday. Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie, an active campaigner to stop sexual violence in conflict, joined defence ministers and military chiefs from around 70 countries at the summit aiming to improve the performance of U.N. peacekeeping operations. UK Defence Minister Michael Fallon and other speakers called on U.N. member states to double the number of women peacekeepers by 2020 after UN Women data showed just four percent of peacekeepers in 16 missions globally were women. Reuters on The Huffington Post

Zimbabwe Bans Opposition Protests for One Month
Zimbabwean police have announced a fresh ban on protests in the capital Harare, state media said Tuesday, in another attempt to end demonstrations against veteran ruler President Robert Mugabe. The order came hours after a coalition of opposition parties said they would stage mass protests across the country on Saturday to push for reform before elections due in 2018. An earlier protest ban in Harare was overturned by the courts last week, despite Mugabe vowing a crackdown on dissent and blasting judges for “reckless” rulings allowing previous demonstrations. France 24

Critics Skeptical that Prisoner Release Signals Change in Ethiopia
The Ethiopian government pardoned more than 700 prisoners in celebration of New Year’s Day on the Ethiopian calendar and the Muslim holiday Eid. Among those released were people charged under the country’s controversial anti-terror law. Critics of the law say it is used to stifle dissent and lock up political opposition members. Ustaz Kamil Shemsu was imprisoned in 2012 when many Muslims in Ethiopia protested what they said was government interference in their religious doctrine. He was sentenced to 22 years. “It’s difficult to say I am happy because there are still other brothers left in prison,” he told VOA Amharic. VOA

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Is Ready for Retirement
She was the first woman in Africa elected to lead a government and the second to win a Nobel Peace Prize. But Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is most proud of the fact that next year she’ll be the only ex-president of Liberia enjoying a normal retirement. “That hasn’t happened to us in so many years,” she told Foreign Policy in a recent interview in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. The record for retired Liberian leaders is grim. Charles Taylor is serving a 50-year sentence in Britain for atrocities committed in neighboring Sierra Leone, while Samuel Doe, Taylor’s predecessor, was tortured and decapitated on camera during Liberia’s bloody 1989-2003 civil war. Before that, President William R. Tolbert Jr. was disemboweled in his bed during the coup that brought Doe to power. (The most promising precedent is probably Moses Blah, who served as a placeholder president for just two months in 2003 and lived out his last days in Liberia before dying of natural causes in 2013.) Foreign Policy

Can Two Men Once Charged with War Crimes Tame Ethnic Violence in Kenya?
Kenya’s president and his deputy launched a new party last weekend that pulled together 12 political groups in a bid to lessen the ethnic divisions that have contributed to horrific violence at election time. The formation of the Jubilee Party could be a significant step in a country where political groups are almost invariably drawn along ethnic lines. But if the message of reconciliation was welcomed by many Kenyans, the messengers raised eyebrows. That’s because President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto have been accused of fomenting the same kind of ethnic violence they now say they are fighting against. Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court accused Kenyatta and Ruto of financing and instigating ethnic mobs that took part in violence that left 1,200 dead after the disputed 2007 presidential election. The Washington Post

Somalia Lifts Controversial Ban on Kenyan Khat
Somalia on Tuesday agreed to lift a week-old ban on imports of Kenyan khat after a storm of controversy from angry growers of the leafy narcotic in neighbouring Kenya. The decision was made on the margins of a historic one-day summit in the Somali capital, which was hosting a top-level African gathering for the first time in more than four decades. Speaking at the close of the summit of the eight-nation IGAD trade bloc, Kenya’s foreign minister Amina Mohamed said “the leaders have discussed relations between the two countries and … the Miraa ban will be lifted as of the 14th September.” Khat, which is also known as miraa, is a red-stemmed, green-leafed plant that has a mildly amphetamine-like effect when chewed, like having one too many espressos. News 24

Pan-African Parliament Says Awaits Morocco’s Return to AU
The Pan-African parliament is awaiting the return of Morocco to the African Union (AU), the parliament’s spokesman Roger Nkodo Dang said here on Tuesday. “We are waiting for Morocco back to complete the list. We think that this parliament will play a basic role in unifying the continent,” Nkodo Dang told the press following a meeting with spokesman of the Moroccan house of representatives Rachid Talbi Alami. Morocco left the AU, at that time called Organization of African Unity, in 1984. In July, Morocco formally announced its wish to rejoin the AU, 32 years after leaving over a sovereignty dispute. Roger Nkodo Dang hailed Morocco’s decision to return to the AU. Xinhua

Brexit Vote Already Having an Effect on Remittances to Africa -Report
Britain’s tumbling currency has cost developing countries including Kenya millions of dollars because remittances are now worth less, while post-Brexit trade has already suffered to the tune of over $500 million. This is according to UK-based think tank Overseas Development Institute (ODI) which is also predicting huge problems in the future due to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union (EU). It is feared that trade deals with African countries in particular may suffer because the UK is either unable or unwilling to deal with the complexity of making new arrangements. The East African

The Scale of the UK’s Involvement in Africa’s Resources is Staggering. So Too is Its Disregard for the Rights of Those Affected
Over the past few decades, there has been a new scramble for African resources as foreign governments and companies have sought to control the continent’s reserves of minerals, oil and gas. As documented in ‘The New Colonialism: Britain’s scramble for Africa’s energy and mineral resources‘, a new War on Want report, 101 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) now have mining operations in Africa – and combined, they control resources worth in excess of $1 trillion. As in the colonial period, the UK government has used its power and influence to ensure these British mining companies have access to Africa’s raw materials, though it is not alone. Much of the Global North takes advantage of a global economic system – made up of regional, bilateral and international trade agreements – that opens up countries in the Global South for exploitation. African Arguments



Photo: Adam Jones