Africa Media Review for September 17, 2019

ICC Prosecutor Appeals Acquittal of Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court appealed on Monday against the shock acquittal of former Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo over post-electoral violence that killed around 3,000 people. Gbagbo, the first head of state to stand trial in The Hague, and his deputy Charles Ble Goude, were both cleared of crimes against humanity in January and released the following month. … Belgium agreed to host Gbagbo, 73, after he was released in February under conditions including that he would return to court for any prosecution appeal against his acquittal. Ble Goude is meanwhile living in the Netherlands under similar conditions. Gbagbo faced charges of crimes against humanity over the 2010-2011 bloodshed following a disputed vote in the West African nation. … However, judges dismissed the charges, saying that the prosecution “failed to satisfy the burden of proof to the requisite standard.” AFP

Cameroonian Troops Killed in Boko Haram Fighting
At least six Cameroonian troops are reported dead following a wave of fighting with Boko Haram terrorists on the central African state’s northern border with Nigeria. The attacks followed a visit in which Cameroon’s chief of defense staff declared that his military had drastically reduced Boko Haram’s ability to attack. … Local media has reported that at least six soldiers were killed and nine wounded in the attacks on several Cameroon military border posts that started last Friday and ended in the early hours of Sunday. The attackers also left with huge amounts of ammunition and weapons. The military has confirmed there were attacks but did not say how many troops were killed. It said however the attackers suffered heavy casualties. VOA

“In the beginning, I liked their ideology, everything happening in God’s name,” he said. “But soon, I realised that it was all about killing people. They just murdered without reason. So, I decided to run away.” They lived with Boko Haram, but one year into their “captivity”, fighters killed his family members, he said. In 2017, he managed to flee. But reintegrating back into society has been near impossible. After leaving, ex-fighters must complete a government-led rehabilitation programme, which lasts up to one year. At the end, they receive 45,000 naira, about $125, a sum aimed at helping them kickstart their new life. When Adamu arrived back in Gwoza, a northeastern town near Cameroon of almost 400,000 people – mostly Muslims, local elders had already decided not to accept back anyone who had lived with Boko Haram. In an instant, Adamu was an outcast. Al Jazeera

Militiamen Death Toll Rises to 38 in Central African Republic Rival Fighting
The death toll of militiamen killed in rival group fighting in the Central African Republic at the weekend has risen to 38, according to an internal United Nations report seen by AFP on Monday. The UN Mission in Central Africa (Minusca) initially put the death toll at 23. The two armed groups had signed a peace deal in February. Fierce clashes between militias in recent months have raised concerns about whether the peace accord aimed at ending years of violence in CAR will hold. The country’s president, Faustin-Archange Touadera, this month told AFP that the agreement was “quite strong” — but Minusca on Saturday said fighting had broken out in Birao, a city close to the Sudanese border. The clashes were between the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic (FPRC) and the Movement of Central African Freedom Fighters for Justice (MLCJ). AFP

UN Panel: Full-Scale War Looms in South Sudan One Year after Peace Accord Signed
A panel of U.N. experts warns the failure of South Sudan’s warring factions to implement last year’s peace accord risks plunging the country into full-scale war once again. … The chair of the commission, Yasmin Sooka, said more than six million people are going hungry, 1.3 million children under five are acutely malnourished, and millions more are stunted, affecting their health and mental development. “The starvation in South Sudan is neither random, nor accidental,” she said. “It has been part of a deliberate strategy on the part of the warring parties to target civilians in acts that may amount to war crimes. … There is no doubt that the responsibility for the enduring humanitarian catastrophe in South Sudan rests firmly with the country’s warring politicians.” … Not all assessments of South Sudan’s near-future are so bleak. In late August, IGAD representatives in Addis Ababa said last year’s cease-fire has continued to hold, and said the general security situation in South Sudan has improved. VOA

Uganda, Rwanda Committed to Luanda Agreement – Officials
Rwanda and Uganda are committed to implementing the agreement signed in August in Luanda to ease tension between them, government officials from both countries said Monday. Rwanda President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Angola’s capital Luanda, witnessed by Presidents Joao Lourenco (Angola) and Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo). On Monday, government officials from Rwanda and Uganda were locked for hours in a private meeting in Kigali, as they sought to find ways to cease hostilities that have led to trade and travel restrictions. The East African

Somaliland Sets Tough Rules on Somalia Talks
The self-declared independent Somaliland has given tough conditions for future dialogue with Somalia on bilateral relations after the last talks collapsed in Turkey in 2015. They include demands that Mogadishu admit that Somaliland was an independent country, and that international intergovernmental organisations and institutions use the name, map, emblem and flag of Somaliland in their project documents. At the council of the ministers of Somaliland chaired by the president, Musa Bihi, Somaliland decided that it is ready for continuing dialogue, which should be held in a neutral venue with a clear agenda touching on future relations, and the international community should serve as mediators. … Sources told The EastAfrican that the tough conditions have been triggered by Kenya’s move to work closely with Somaliland following its maritime dispute with Somalia and the victory of Sheikh Ahmed Islam “Madobe” in Jubbaland in August. The East African

Egypt Still at Odds with Ethiopia over Giant Nile Dam
Egypt says talks to resolve a conflict over a giant Nile River dam being built by Ethiopia have failed to achieve progress between the two countries. Monday’s statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation said two-day negotiations that also included Sudan did not touch on “technical aspects” of the $5bn Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Egypt fears the project will significantly reduce its share of the water from the Nile – the river provides almost all of Egypt’s freshwater. Ethiopia, on the other hand, says the GERD will not have any effect on Egypt’s share of water and claims the project is necessary for its economic development. … Separately, a note circulated to Egyptian diplomats last week showed the extent of the two countries’ differences, Reuters news agency reported. The note distributed by the Egyptian foreign ministry, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, said Ethiopia has “summarily rejected” its plan for key aspects of operating the dam and dismissed Ethiopia’s proposal as “unfair and inequitable”. Al Jazeera

Nigeria: Poverty, Education and Inclusion Top New General Assembly President’s Priority List
Back in June, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, was elected by acclamation to preside over the 74th session of the General Assembly, which kicks off in New York in just over a week. In his first major interview with UN News, Mr. Muhammad-Bande highlighted poverty eradication, quality education, and inclusion as his top priorities. The new General Assembly President has had an outstanding academic career in political science, in which he received a B.Sc from Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria, an MA from Boston University in the United States, and a Ph.D from the University of Toronto, Canada. … On the upcoming 75th anniversary celebration of the UN’s founding, he said there was a need to mark this important event “in the history of the Organization and of the world, and of politics in general. “It should remind us as to the purposes of the Organization, its limitation and its promise and this promise is what we should all keep in mind.” UN News

South Africa Offers ‘Profuse’ Apologies to Nigeria after Attacks
A South African envoy to President Cyril Ramaphosa apologised “profusely” to the Nigerian government after a spate of deadly xenophobic attacks that rocked Johannesburg and Pretoria. Jeff Radebe was in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to attend a meeting on Monday to convey “sincerest apologies about the incident that has recently transpired in South Africa”. “The incident does not represent what we stand for,” Radebe said, adding South African police would “leave no stone unturned, that those involved must be brought to book”. The Nigerian government said in a statement following the meeting: “President [Muhammadu] Buhari responded to profuse apologies from the South African president, pledging that relationship between the two countries will be solidified.” Al Jazeera

South Africa: Victory for amaBhungane as Court Declares Mass Interception by State ‘Unlawful and Invalid’
Investigative journalism centre amaBhungane walked out of court victorious on Monday after successfully challenging parts of South Africa’s surveillance law, the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA). The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg declared mass surveillance and the interception of foreign signals by the National Communications Centre “unlawful and invalid”. The legal battle against RICA started in April 2017 after amaBhungane received confirmation that its managing partner, Sam Sol, had been under surveillance under RICA. At the time, Sole was investigating a National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decision to drop corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma. News24

Madagascar: Dark Crystals: The Brutal Reality behind a Booming Wellness Craze
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, but beneath its soil is a well-stocked treasure chest. Rose quartz and amethyst, tourmaline and citrine, labradorite and carnelian: Madagascar has them all. Gems and precious metals were the country’s fastest-growing export in 2017 – up 170% from 2016, to $109m. This island country of 25 million people now stands alongside far larger nations, such as India, Brazil and China, as a key producer of crystals for the world. And in a country where infrastructure, capital and labour regulation are all in short supply, it is human bodies rather than machinery that pull crystals from the earth. While a few large mining companies operate in Madagascar, more than 80% of crystals are mined “artisanally” – meaning by small groups and families, without regulation, who are paid rock-bottom prices. The Guardian

Africa’s Smaller Economies Secure 13-Year Protection for Their Fragile Sectors
Africa’s 32 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have secured a 13-year reprieve to protect their sensitive economic sectors from duty-free imports under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, in a major concession aimed at securing their ratification of the deal. The matter of tariff concessions has been a sticky issue for the LDCs, which have expressed fears that implementation of the AfCFTA agreement beginning July 1 next year will lead to heavy revenue losses. The LDCs, which constitute over 50 per cent of Africa’s 55 countries, are still heavily dependent on the trade taxes to fund their national budgets. The East African

Algeria Protests: How Disinformation Spread on Social Media
Amidst months of anti-government demonstrations, an online information battle is happening in Algeria. Protesters are trying to swat away annoying trolls – dubbed “electronic flies”. The interim president of the north African country recently announced that elections will take place in December. It’s the latest twist in a year of political drama which began in February and led to the resignation of the country’s long-time president in April. But protesters who want further reforms have continued taking to the streets – and the fight over the country’s future has been particularly fractious on social media, which has been flooded with disinformation and fake news. BBC

Recycled Refrigerators, Imported Carbon Fiber Form ‘Made-In-Senegal’ Drones
Mamadou Wade Diop has been working with drones both in the photography and health sectors for years. But recently, he decided to work with local blacksmiths and construct a drone made entirely in Senegal. Mamadou Wade Diop, who calls himself Dr. Drone on social media, is one of the few people, if not the only person in the Dakar area who can fix broken drones. But recently, he’s taken his knowledge a step further, consulting with drone makers across the world on how to construct one of his own. Diop says that through the internet, he’s been able to communicate with other drone makers in France and China to chat about their experiences. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones