Africa Media Review for September 20, 2016

Clashes in Kinshasa Leave 50 Dead, say DRC Opposition Groups
Police and demonstrators have clashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the latest round of violence sparked by the ongoing political crisis in the troubled central African state. Opposition groups said more than 50 people died on Monday in clashes in the capital, Kinshasa. The government said at least 17 people had been killed but warned that the toll could rise further. Witnesses said protesters had beaten at least one police officer to death. Four people were also killed when the headquarters of three DRC opposition parties were torched overnight and early on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported. The Guardian

DR Congo Opposition HQs Torched, at Least Two Dead: AFP
The headquarters of three DR Congo opposition parties were torched overnight and early Tuesday, a day after deadly clashes between police and opponents of President Joseph Kabila, AFP journalists said. At least two burnt bodies could be seen in the fire-ravaged offices of the main opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), while two other people were burnt alive and one person injured, they said. By 8:30 am (0730 GMT) flames were dying down at the headquarters of the Forces of Union and Solidarity (FONUS) and the Lumumbist Progressive Movement (MLP) in the north of the capital Kinshasa. The fires came after more than 50 people were killed on Monday in clashes between protesters and security forces in Kinshasa, according to opposition groups. France 24

DRC: Kabila Cracks Down – And Will Probably Get Away With It
Last week, Reuters asked a senior advisor to Congolese President Joseph Kabila a simple question. Why, if Kabila really does plan to step down after his second term in office, will the president not say so? Barnabe Kikaya’s answer was revealing. “He cannot say it. We are in Africa… where if Kabila had to say that… from that time on he loses all authority.” It may be 2016, but the Congolese government is still relying on colonial-era tropes to justify its poor governance. Kikaya was speaking to an audience in Washington DC, where he was trying to persuade lawmakers not to impose sanctions on Congolese officials, and his response played neatly into all those tired stereotypes: that Africa is a country; that only strongmen can rule here; that Africans are too ignorant to respect or understand the constitutional process. And Kabila is clearly the strongman that Kikaya thinks his people deserve. Daily Maverick

European Nations to Discuss Possible Congo Sanctions: Ayrault
European nations will discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Monday. Asked if France wanted sanctions like those Washington has imposed for what it described as the violent suppression of opposition to President Joseph Kabila’s government, Ayrault told reporters: “it’s a question we will discuss (among) Europeans, but the situation is extremely worrying and very dangerous.”  Reuters

Population Displacement in Africa: Top 10 Countries of Origin
As the UN General Assembly and the United States host high-level summits on global refugee issues, a snapshot of Africa’s displaced populations—refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers—reveals that: 71 percent of Africa’s 18.5 million displaced persons are from 5 countries (Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo). Africa Center for Strategic Studies

World Leaders at UN Approve Plan for Refugee Crisis
World leaders on Monday approved a declaration aimed at providing a more coordinated and humane response to the refugee crisis that has strained resources and sparked divisions from Africa to Europe. The issue of what to do about the world’s 65.3 million displaced people took center stage at the U.N. General Assembly with leaders from the 193 member states taking part in the first-ever summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. Advocacy groups worried that the New York Declaration on Migrants and Refugees — an outcome document which contains no concrete commitments and is not legally binding — falls short of what is needed, while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, himself a refugee during the Korean War, hailed it as historic. “Today’s summit represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility,” Ban said. The New York Times

Boko Haram Insurgents Launch Attacks in Northeast Nigeria
Boko Haram insurgents launched three attacks within hours in northeast Nigeria, beheading a village chief and his son, ambushing a convoy under military escort, and gunning down eight Christians returning from a Sunday church service, witnesses and the army spokesman said Monday. On Monday, the Musllim extremist insurgents shot and killed six civilians and wounded three soldiers traveling in a convoy, army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman said. It happened on the highway about 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of Maiduguri, the biggest city in the northeast and birthplace of Boko Haram. Extremists came to the village of Tallari before dawn Monday, beheaded village chief Ba’ Lawan and his son and then set their homes and others on fire, spokesman Abbas Gavi of the Vigilante Group of Nigeria, a self-defense force, said. Then they opened fire on fleeing villagers, killing two people and injuring others, he said. AP on ABC News

Kenya: World Court Has No Jurisdiction in Somalia Dispute
Kenya says that the International Court of Justice has no jurisdiction in a case filed by Somalia covering a dispute over potentially oil-rich seabed off the two countries’ Indian Ocean coasts. Somalia launched a case with the United Nations’ highest judicial organ in 2014 asking it to rule on the maritime border between the east African states, saying that diplomatic efforts to resolve the disputed boundary had failed. At a preliminary hearing Monday, Kenya argued that the world court has no jurisdiction because there are two other methods for resolving the dispute — a 2009 memorandum of understanding between the two countries and a United Nations maritime treaty. AP

ICC Refers Kenya to State Parties for Non-cooperation
Kenya failed to cooperate with the court in the case against President Uhuru Kenyatta, the International Criminal Court has found. The court has referred the matter to the Assembly of State Parties for action. “…In general, the lack of bona fide cooperation by the Government of a situation country, as shown by the Kenyan Government in this instance, may have a serious impact on the functioning of the Court in future proceedings,” a statement from the Hague-based court read. The international court is accusing the government of failing to abide by a request to hand over vital evidence relating to Mr Kenyatta’s case. The East African

Two Italians, Canadian Kidnapped in Libya
The ministry said in a brief statement that it had learned on Monday about the abduction. But it declined to provide further details, citing the “delicateness” of the situation. A spokesperson for the ministry later said they had been informed about the kidnapping earlier in the day and that a crisis unit was following the situation. The ministry had no information about the reported kidnapping of the Canadian national, which was first reported by Tunisian and Turkish media. Italian news agencies said the mayor of the southern Libyan city of Ghat, Qawmani Muhammad, told media that the two Italians had been abducted in his city, along with a Canadian. Deutsche Welle

Libyan Forces Renew Push Against Islamic State in Sirte
Libyan forces allied with the U.N.-backed government on Sunday battled Islamic State militants in their last hideouts in the city of Sirte, in a renewed push after a break in fighting for the Muslim celebrations of Eid. At least two were killed in clashes after pro-governnment forces shelled neighbourhoods inside the city, targeting militants who have been holding on in a last section of Sirte after months of street-to-street fighting. U.S. air strikes and helicopter raids along with small teams of Western special forces have helped the Libyan troops advance in Sirte and losing the city would be a major blow for the militant group depriving it of its North African stronghold. “Our forces targeted on Sunday hideouts of Daesh in Neighbourhood No.3’s 600 block area and Geza Bahriya with heavy artillery shelling,” said Mohamed Ghasri, a spokesman for the forces, said using an Arabic term for militants. Reuters

Sudanese, U.S. Officials to Discuss Normalization of Ties in New York
Senior Sudanese and U.S. officials on Thursday will meet in New York to continue discussions on bilateral relations. According to Al-Sudani newspaper on Monday, a ministerial team formed by President Omer al-Bashir to follow up on relations with Washington, would discuss with U.S. officials ways to normalize ties between the two countries and possibilities for implementing partial lifting of sanctions especially with regard to banking wire transfers. The Sudanese team is headed by foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour and it includes representatives from the Defence Ministry, Finance Ministry, Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Sudan Tribune

Khartoum Threatens to Shut South Sudan Border Over Rebels
Sudan on Sunday threatened to shut its border with South Sudan used by refugees fleeing conflict if Juba failed to “fulfil its commitment” of expelling insurgent groups battling Khartoum. South Sudan split from Sudan in 2011 under a peace deal that ended a 22-year civil war, but Juba and Khartoum have traded allegations of supporting each other’s rebels on their territory, charges which both countries deny. Sudan has regularly accused its neighbour of aiding rebels in its war-torn Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions. “South Sudanese Vice President Taban Deng had given assurances that Juba will expel rebels within 21 days after his trip to Khartoum,” Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Kamal Ismail said, quoted by Sudan Media Centre, close to the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service. The East African

President Kiir’s Government in Talks with Opposition Military Leader
South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir on Monday revealed that it was in talks with General Peter Gatdet Yak, former Deputy Chief of General Staff in the opposition group led by Riek Machar. He defected from Machar in 2015. The government said approaching the defected army General through dialogue was important for consolidating peace and stability in the country. “This country called South Sudan needs all of us to cooperate. This is our country. There is no need to destroy it. The solution can’t be achieved through holding weapons. It can be found around the table of dialogue. There is nothing which cannot be solved. The president of the republic is ready to bring peace through peaceful dialogue,” Tut Kew Gatluak, Presidential Advisor on Security Affairs, said on Monday. Sudan Tribune

Kenya Bank Linked to Money Laundering from South Sudan
Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) has been linked to the ongoing money laundering by corrupt government officials in South Sudan, including senior military leaders sanctioned by the United Nations in the wake of the civil war which erupted in December 2013. […] Among the senior army generals in South Sudan which the report named as conducted illegal money transfers to his personal bank account in the Kenyan bank is General Gabriel Jok Riak, who had been transferring hundreds of thousands of US dollars yet is monthly salary is less than $3,000 dollars, or only about $35,000 a year. General Riak, commander of Sector One, which include Divisions 3, 4, and 5, of the South Sudan’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), has been under the United Nations sanctions for his brutal role in the civil war in which all his assets have been frozen and he is banned from travelling to another country. Sudan Tribune

Disease Outbreak Kills 19 in Rain-hit Sudan – Minister
An outbreak of water-borne disease has killed at least 19 people and sickened scores more in Sudan’s rain-ravaged states of Blue Nile and Kasala, a minister said Monday. Since June, heavy rain and flooding have hit several states of Sudan, killing at least 100 people, destroying thousands of homes and submerging many villages. “In the past three weeks, 19 people including children have died from water-borne diseases like diarrhoea,” Health Minister Bahar Idris Abu Garda told AFP. Seventeen died in the state of Blue Nile and two in Kasala. So far 632 cases of people suffering from diarrhoea have been registered across the country, said Abu Garda, without specifying the type of disease. News 24

Twelve Liberian Political Parties Join Forces
A dozen political parties in Liberia are joining forces to take on the ruling Liberty Party in the 2017 presidential election, Senator Prince Johnson told VOA Daybreak Africa. “We want continue our peace that we celebrated some time ago. We do not want to see violence. So we all met to discuss the issue how to collaborate and move our country forward. A technical team or committee was set up by the convention to draw up the modalities for the collaboration,” Johnson said. VOA

The Rise, Fall, Then Grudging Acceptance of Khat, East Africa’s Controversial Stimulant
In 2014 the UK banned khat, the stimulant stems and leaves of the tree Catha edulis. In Kenya it is more commonly known as miraa or veve. This move brought to an end the weekly importation into London’s Heathrow of about 56 tonnes of the commodity. Most had been grown on farms in Kenya’s picturesque Nyambene Hills in Meru County. An estimated £12.7 million ($16.5 million) was remitted to Kenya from the UK for this trade in 2010 alone. The loss of this income has had adverse economic effects in those parts of the growing regions that had been reliant on the UK market. The UK ban opened the latest chapter in the story of a remarkable commodity. It is a story I have been tracking for the past 16 years as an anthropologist who is fascinated by how people use, trade and perceive this botanical substance. Quartz

Chinese Invest in Former White-owned Zim Farms – Report
Chinese farmers have reportedly taken over farms that used to belong to white farmers in Zimbabwe. According to Telegraph, the Chinese farmers had invested extensively in at least five tobacco farms in Mashonaland Central, a province that was traditionally one of the country’s best tobacco-producing areas. The farms would grow and cure about 1 500 acres of tobacco this year. The new infrastructure, including equipment manufactured by a US Company, Valley Irrigation was estimated to have cost at least $9 129 260. An unnamed insider in the tobacco industry was quoted saying that the Chinese company would be paying expensive rentals for the land they were now using. News 24