Africa Media Review for September 20, 2017

Togo’s Opposition Boycotts Constitutional Reform Vote
Togo’s opposition stayed away from parliament on Tuesday, blocking the passage of the government’s bill for political reform and forcing a referendum. The bill was published last week on the eve of protests calling for a revision of the constitution that developed into demands for President Faure Gnassingbe to step down. A four-fifths majority was needed for it to be approved but the opposition no-show meant it only secured 62 out of 91 votes, with one abstention. Eric Dupuy, spokesperson for the main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC) party, called the National Assembly session a “sham”. As he ended proceedings, assembly president Dama Dramani said: “For want of this majority, the bill, passed with a two-thirds majority… is subject to a referendum. AFP

At Least 25 Dead in S Sudan Oil State Battle
An outbreak of fighting between government and rebel forces in South Sudan’s oil-producing north left at least 25 people dead, a state official said on Tuesday. The clash between rebels loyal to exiled former deputy president Riek Machar and government forces occurred early on Monday in Nhialdiu, a village close to the town of Bentiu which has changed hands repeatedly since civil war began nearly four years ago. “The number of the bodies that were found on the ground were 25,” said Lam Tungwar, information minister for Northern Liech State, adding the rebel attack was “repulsed”. Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesperson for the SPLA-IO rebels confirmed the clash claiming “a successful operation” in which “the gallant SPLA-IO forces took control of Nhialdiu”, killed 19 government soldiers and seized dozens of weapons. AFP

Legal Worries Persist in Kenyan Election Re-Run
Several legal concerns surround the organisation of Kenya’s presidential poll re-run, the head of country’s law society told RFI on Tuesday. Any delays to new elections pushing the polls beyond the end of October could plunge the country into a constitutional crisis, while the replacement of electoral commission staff could prove legally tricky under an incumbent head of state. RFI

Kenya’s Judges Who Nullified Election Face ‘Savage’ Threats
Attempts to intimidate Kenya’s Supreme Court judges after they nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election have been “unlawful and savage in nature,” the nation’s judiciary said Tuesday, as ruling party supporters protested outside the court demanding the judges’ removal. The protests came after petitions were filed asking the Judicial Service Commission to remove Chief Justice David Maraga, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola. The petitions claim misconduct and bias. Maraga and three other justices ruled 4-2 to annul Kenyatta’s re-election and call for a new election, which is set for Oct. 17. The court ruled the electoral commission had committed “irregularities.” On Wednesday it is expected to read its full decision with details. Jubilee Party supporters also burned tires and blocked one of the major highways into the capital, Nairobi. AP

American Commandos Face Complicated Mission in Mali
A small contingent of U.S. special operations forces is operating out of Mali, where violence is soaring and heavy weapons from former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s plundered armories flow through the country. Operating at the request of the Malian government, U.S. forces face a task fraught with complications stemming from Mali’s complex political atmosphere, which features a plethora of extremist groups, terrorist organizations and sophisticated weaponry. U.S. special operators are coordinating and sharing information “with international counterparts as they continue to counter Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to bring stability to the region,” Samantha Reho, a spokesperson for U.S. Africa Command, told Military Times. AQIM is not the only nemesis in town, however, nor is it the only name brand al-Qaida organization in the country, according to Reho. The strength of AQIM is assessed in the neighborhood of “at least 1,000 fighters,” and the terror group “employs near daily conventional terrorist tactics, including guerrilla-style ambushes, mortar, rocket, and IED attacks,” Reho said. Military Times

France Eager to Have Canada Join Peacekeeping Efforts in Mali
France is still keen to see Canadian troops deployed to a UN peace operation in Mali as the Canadian government insists it has not yet decided what the “right” mission is. “We are not putting pressure on Canada to make the decision, this is very important because we know this is not an easy decision to make and that Canada has to assess the situation to make a thorough, full decision,” said Eric Navel, spokesman for the French embassy in Canada. “But still we’d be happy to see Canada come to Mali within the MINUSMA (the UN peace operation in Mali).” “We are used to working with the Canadian military and we know their expertise, and we know how good you are,” he said, adding Canadian troops have worked with French forces in the past; many speak French, and would be an asset in Mali. The Toronto Star

Sudan’s Bashir Announces Darfur Disarmament Drive
President Omar al-Bashir on Tuesday announced the launch of a new disarmament campaign in the country’s western Darfur region. Addressing a rally in the city of Geneina, regional capital of West Darfur state, Bashir said that only regular military forces deployed in the region — not civilians — would be allowed access to weapons. “By the end of this year, no civilians will be permitted to carry arms throughout the entire Darfur region,” he said. He added: “Enough is enough. We will implement the rule of law in the region and weapons will only be carried by regular forces.” Last July, the government unveiled a campaign aimed at combating arms proliferation in Darfur. Anadolu Agency

Lack of Ideology Caused South Sudan’s Conflict, Says Museveni
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has attributed the civil war in South Sudan to “lack of ideology”. Museveni, The New Vision reported, blamed South Sudanese politicians for pushing forward identity politics while forgetting the interests of the people and that he was working to unite the different factions of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). “Identity is important but it should not be promoted at the expense of the common interests of the people. Even Uganda was a failed state but was rescued by a student movement that taught people to forget about identity politics,” he said. Sudan Tribune

U.S. Ends Temporary Protected Status for Sudanese but Extends It for South Sudanese
The United States is ending temporary protected status for citizens of Sudan as of 2018 but extending it for citizens of South Sudan through mid-2019, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement on Monday. Temporary protected status allows nationals of certain countries, often facing armed conflict or major natural disasters, who are already in the United States to temporarily remain and work there. Both Sudan and South Sudan’s designations were due to expire on Nov. 2. Instead, Sudanese nationals are allowed to stay legally for another year, but then must leave. DHS urged them in a statement to use their remaining time to “prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States” or apply for other visa types allowing them to stay. Reuters

US Report Says Egypt Falls Short on Rights
Egypt is failing to protect free speech and its minorities, investigate abuses by its forces or grant U.S. monitors access to the conflict-ridden Sinai Peninsula, according to a damning Trump administration report obtained by The Associated Press. The U.S. grievances, detailed in a State Department memorandum to Congress, are likely to draw consternation from Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who meets Wednesday with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly gathering. The memo was legally required for the Trump administration to continue giving certain U.S. aid to Cairo despite its failure to meet several conditions on good governance. “The overall human rights climate in Egypt continues to deteriorate,” the memo says. “There is a continuing problem with arbitrary arrests, detentions, disappearances. There are reports of extrajudicial killings. There are numerous allegations of torture and deaths in detention.” AP

Congo Leader Opens Peace Conference in Bloody Kasai Region
Congo President Joseph Kabila declared Tuesday that “justice must be done” as he opened a peace conference in the bloody Kasai region where thousands of people have died in a year of fighting among government troops and militias. Kabila blamed the unrest on “terrorist militia” and told officials, religious and civil society leaders and former militia members at the conference that all who have contributed to the violence in the once-peaceful region will have to answer for their crimes. The fighting in the Kasai provinces in Congo’s south began in August 2016 after Congolese troops killed the leader of the Kamwina Nsapu militia. More than 3,300 people have died since then, according to the Catholic church, and the United Nations says more than 1.4 million people have been displaced. VOA

Tanzanian Newspaper Suspended for ‘Insulting President’
An independent Tanzanian newspaper has been suspended for two years, a government spokesperson said on Tuesday, accusing the publication of sedition and endangering national security. The critical Mwanahalisi newspaper was shut after publishing a letter on Monday from a reader containing “insults” against President John Magufuli and his government, said spokesperson Hassan Abbasi. Abbasi said the paper had received several warnings. The daily has been shuttered on several occasions in the past, for three months in 2008 and then three years between 2012 and 2015. The offending letter said that Magufuli “claims to be a patriot but questions the patriotism of anyone who opposes him. This is hypocritical.” AFP

Why Were 39 Burundian Refugees Shot Dead in the DRC?
[…] On the night of September 12, the national army (FARDC) patrol arrested four Burundian refugees armed with “weapons” in the DRC town of Kamanyola in South Kivu province. Al Jazeera has since seen a video showing the four refugees carrying sticks. They were held for two days by the army and were then taken to the general migration directorate. On Friday September 15, at around 16:00 GMT, Burundian refugees and asylum seekers living in the area left their camps and went to the office of the National Intelligence Agency to protest the detainment of the four men. The protesters, a group of a few hundred, were concerned the detainees would be repatriated and handed over to the Burundian government. According to a witness who spoke to Al Jazeera, who will remain anonymous for security reasons, two local police officers tried to stop the refugees from approaching the office of the National Intelligence Agency. Al Jazeera

Central African President Pleads to UN: Don’t Forget Us
The president of the Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera, on Tuesday pleaded with the world to not forget his country and urged the U.N. to bolster its peace-keeping force amid growing violence that threatens to spin the country out of control. Thousands have died and a fifth of Central Africans have fled a conflict that broke out after mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize in 2013, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka (anti-machete) militias. Although unrest has since subsided, fighting has spiked this year and the United Nations warned this month that ethnic fighting could descend again into a much larger conflict if combatants are not disarmed. VOA

Rwandan and French Presidents in Rare Meeting
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in New York for rare talks, Kigali said Tuesday, as diplomatic ties remain icy over the 1994 genocide. Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide of some 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu extremists, angering Paris and straining relations. The Rwandan presidency said in a statement on Twitter that Kagame and Macron on Monday discussed “collaboration on issues of mutual interest including peace (and) security in Africa”, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Ties between Kigali and Paris had been on the mend until 2014 when Kagame repeated accusations that French soldiers were both accomplices and “actors” in the bloodbath. AFP

Morocco to Expand Counterterror Efforts Abroad
A top Moroccan security official says his government is working on a new strategy to track Moroccans who become radicalized in Europe as part of beefed-up counterterrorism efforts. Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations director Abdelhak Khiame told The Associated Press in an interview that preventing radicalization of Moroccans abroad is especially important after extremists with Moroccan origins carried out deadly attacks in Spain last month. Khiame did not elaborate on what the new government tracking strategy would entail. His 2-year-old agency, known as Morocco’s FBI, also is cracking down on Moroccans returning from fighting with the Islamic State group. Of the 1,664 Moroccans who have joined IS, he said 85 men, 14 women and 27 minors have been arrested upon their return. AP

Confidence in UN’s Global Goals Faltering amid Slow Progress – Survey
Ambitious global goals aimed at ending poverty and inequality by 2030 are moving more slowly than expected and would struggle to get approval from United Nations members if put to a vote today, an exclusive survey showed on Tuesday. The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked policymakers, campaigners and executives with an interest in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) how they viewed the progress of the blueprint of 17 goals that won unanimous support from the 193 U.N. member states two years ago. The sweeping 15-year agenda is a global “to-do” list on such issues as climate change, women’s rights, education, hunger, joblessness and land degradation. The cost of implementation has been estimated at $3 trillion a year. But the online poll, conducted between July 31 and Sept. 8, found two-thirds of 113 respondents said progress on the goals was slower than anticipated. Reuters

Declassified: Apartheid Profits – Who Killed Dulcie September?
While researching the recently published book Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Open Secrets collected approximately 40,000 archival documents from 25 archives in seven countries. This treasure trove contains damning details of the individuals and corporations that propped up apartheid and profited in return. OPEN SECRETS believes that it is vital to allow the public to scrutinise the primary evidence. Last week we revealed Armscor’s secret sanctions-busting office in Paris, and the long-running close relationship between the French and Apartheid military intelligence agencies. This week, we ask whether the investigations of these links by a brave activist provide the motive for her murder. Who killed Dulcie September, and why? Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones