Africa Media Review for September 20, 2018

Nigerian Military Struggles against Islamic State in West Africa: Sources
Islamist militants have killed hundreds of soldiers in attacks in northeastern Nigeria in recent weeks, security and military sources say, forcing a turnaround in the course of an insurgency which the government has frequently claimed to have vanquished. The fatigued, ill-equipped government troops have reached breaking point, they said. The setback in the war against Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and the Boko Haram insurgency from which it split in 2016 comes as President Muhammadu Buhari seeks a second term in elections next February. Buhari came to power in 2015 on a promise to defeat Boko Haram, and security has once again emerged as a main campaign issue. In the past three weeks, according to military and security sources, ISWA killed 48 soldiers at a military base and, in a separate attack, left 32 dead in Gudumbali – a town to which thousands of refugees were ordered to return in June.  Reuters

Congo Publishes Final List of Presidential Candidates
Congo’s election commission has published the final list of presidential candidates for the highly anticipated Dec. 23 vote that will see President Joseph Kabila step down. The list published late Wednesday includes at least four opposition candidates but excludes leading opposition figures Moise Katumbi and Jean-Pierre Bemba. Twenty-one candidates are competing for the presidency, which has been occupied by Kabila since 2001. Kabila’s ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary has made the list. Opposition leaders Felix Tshisekedi, Vital Kamerhe, Martin Fayulu and Freddy Matungulu also are candidates. It is not yet clear if the opposition will rally behind one major candidate to increase the chances of ousting the ruling party. AP

Kabila Candidate Faces Divided Challenge in Congo Presidential Poll
Outgoing Democratic Republic of Congo president Joseph Kabila’s preferred successor will face a credible election challenge in December from two opposition leaders, the final list of candidates published on Wednesday showed. Kabila has ruled since his father’s assassination in 2001. He agreed last month not to defy term limits by standing for re-election, opening the door to the Central African nation’s first democratic transfer of power. His announcement calmed tensions that have seen dozens of anti-Kabila demonstrators killed by security forces since he refused to step down when his constitutional mandate expired in December 2016.  Reuters

Heavy Security, Arrests as Ugandan Pop Star to Come Home
Arrests began as Ugandan security forces deployed heavily before the return of pop star and opposition figure Bobi Wine from the United States on Thursday, enforcing a ban on rallies they said threaten public order. Police detained the singer’s brother and at least two other people who were driving to the airport to welcome him home, said lawyer Asuman Basalirwa. “They have not given any reasons for the arrests,” Basalirwa said, adding that he had been ordered to turn back. “We don’t know their intentions.” Police have said only family members would be permitted to meet the singer, who was expected to arrive at Entebbe International Airport midday Thursday.  VOA

S. Sudan Sees Renewed Fighting After Peace Deal Signed
Just days after the signing of South Sudan’s revitalized peace agreement, reports of fighting have surfaced in several parts of South Sudan, according to Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the United Nations’ undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations. “Reports indicate that these hostilities are in response to alleged government attempts to install local authorities in opposition-controlled areas. Both sides appear to have mobilized reinforcements to support these operations to secure territory,” Lacroix told U.N. Security Council members Tuesday at a briefing in New York. He said the fighting is taking place in the states of Central Equatoria and Unity, and that heavy clashes have occurred in Jamula Center in Mbudu in Kopera County.  VOA

Even in Kenya, Exiled Burundians Fear for Their Lives
Monday to Friday at 7.45 am Paris time. Pierre Nkurunziza Burundi Kenya Latest update : 2018-09-19 Even in Kenya, exiled Burundians fear for their lives inShare Subscribe to our videos for free! In 2015, a political crisis in Burundi sparked deadly violence. Since then, more than 400,000 Burundians have fled the country, some of them to Kenya. But even there, many still fear for their lives. Our correspondents report.  France 24

More than 1,000 Central African Military Personnel Trained by Russia
Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera presided over a ceremony to mark the completion of training of the fourth group of Central African Armed Forces (FACa) personnel by Russian instructors on Monday, September 17. According to a report by the Network of Journalists for Human Rights in Central African Republic (RJDH), 154 FACa personnel completed the training programme, bringing to 1,054 the total number trained by Russians. Russian advisors work with the CAR’s military and provide security and advice to Touadera. Speaking at the ceremony, Touadera said that the deployment of the newly trained soldiers will be carried out jointly with the United Nations mission Minusca because they set the same strategy, the CAR Presidency said in a Facebook post. The Defense Post

Somali Officials: Airstrike Kills or Hurts Several Al-Shabab
Several senior officials with the al-Shabab extremist group have been killed or wounded in an airstrike in southern Somalia, Somali intelligence officials said Wednesday, while the al-Qaida-linked group and a resident said children were among the dead. The intelligence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media said the overnight airstrike hit a training school and nearby hospital in Sakow, a town in Middle Jubba region. They said those targeted include longtime commander Hassan Yaqub. It was not clear who carried out the strike. The U.S. Africa Command, which has carried out more than 20 airstrikes in Somalia this year, said it has not carried out a strike there since Sept. 11. AP

Mandela’s One-Time Adviser Deployed to Somalia
Nicholas “Fink” Haysom will move from Sudan to Somalia as the United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres’s special representative and head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia. The South African constitutional lawyer and conflict resolution specialist succeeds Michael Keating of the United Kingdom‚ effective from October 1. Haysom‚ a former chief legal and constitutional adviser to then president Nelson Mandela between 1994-1999‚ previously led a project helping to draw up Iraq’s transitional constitution. He was also involved in the UN committee negotiating a new Burundi constitution‚ and has served the UN in countries including Afghanistan‚ Burma‚ Indonesia‚ East Timor‚ Sri Lanka and Colombia. Times Live

UN Envoy to Libya Vows to List Tripoli Ceasefire Violators for UN Sanctions
The UN envoy to Libya, Ghassan Salame, said he was going to ask the Security Council to amend the Action Plan in Libya. Salame told 218 TV Channel that he will be straightforward in his briefing at the UN Security Council, adding that he will tell the country members of the hindrances and violators. “There is only one plan for Libya. The one approved by the UN Security Council.” Salame added. “UNSMIL will go to Rome Conference if it was invited as scheduled in November.” He indicated, saying they cannot prevent any member country from proposing a solution to end Libya’s crisis. He added that the UNSMIL knows who the violators of Tripoli ceasefire are and who the ones risking civilians’ lives are, saying the ceasefire must prevail so the crisis can end. Libya Observer

Sudan: Bashir Makes Changes to Military Top Brass
Sudan’s president on Tuesday decided to replace a number of top military officers while referring others to early retirement, according to a statement by the military reported by Sudanese official news agency SUNA. The changes by Omar al-Bashir include the appointment of Lt. Gen. Mustafa Mohamed Mustafa as military intelligence service chief, replacing Lt. Gen. Jamal Al-Din Omar Mohammed, and the appointment of Staff Lt. Hashim Abdul Mutalib Ahmed Babikir as inspector general of the armed forces, promoting him to the rank of general, replacing Lt. Gen. Al-Sir Hussein Bashir, who has been referred to retirement, according to a statement by Brig. Gen. Ahmed al-Shami, Sudanese military spokesman. The changes also include the promotion of Maj. Gen. Magdi Ibrahim Osman to the rank of general and his appointment as deputy chief of staff for ground forces for supply as well as appointing Gen. Mohamed Osman Al-Hussein commander of Sudanese joint operations, replacing Staff Lt. Hashim Abdul Mutalib Ahmed Babikir. Anadolu Agency

Amnesty Says Crackdown Turns Egypt into an “Open Air Prison” for Critics
Amnesty International on Wednesday accused Egypt’s government of mounting a crackdown on freedom of expression that had turned the country into an “open-air prison” for critics. The international human rights group said authorities had arrested at least 111 people since December for criticising President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egypt’s human rights situation in a campaign that surpassed any under ousted President Hosni Mubarak. “It is currently more dangerous to criticize the government in Egypt than at any time in the country’s recent history,” Amnesty’s North Africa Campaigns Director, Najia Bounaim, said in a statement. “Egyptians living under President al-Sisi are treated as criminals simply for peacefully expressing their opinions.”  Reuters

Liberia Travel Ban after Tens of Millions of Dollars Vanish’
Liberia’s government has banned 15 people, including the son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, from leaving the country while it investigates the alleged disappearance of tens of millions of dollars intended for the central bank, the Ministry of Information has said in a statement. Border posts have been informed that Charles Sirleaf, the deputy governor of the central bank, and Milton Weeks, the former governor of the bank, are among those barred from travelling abroad, the statement added. Mr Sirleaf and Mr Weeks have not yet commented. However, Mrs Sirleaf was quoted by the Front Page Africa news site as saying that the bank had given “full evidence and clarification” to refute allegations that the money had disappeared. BBC

Top Cop Killed after Rwanda Police Purge
Concerns are being raised in Rwanda following the purge of more than 200 police officers for gross misconduct. Critics see the move as an attempt by authorities to get rid of their opponents. In a separate incident, a former Chief Superintendent was found murdered Tuesday, under similar circumstances as former opponents. “Recently, we’ve seen a growing number of police officers being purged,” Jean-Marie Micombero, a former official from Rwanda’s defence ministry turned opponent, told RFI. “Whether it’s on the side of the police or the army, the same thing is happening,” he says. Rwanda on Monday dismissed 230 non-commissioned and low-ranking police officers from its national police force for gross misconduct. RFI

Don’t Be Shocked If You Go Back to Jail, Kagame Tells Ingabire
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said the release of 2,140 convicts among them opposition leader Victoire Ingabire and popular singer Kizito Mihigo does not signal that the government is yielding to foreign influence. President Kagame made the remarks when he was presiding over the swearing-in of the 80-member Fourth Parliament on Wednesday. He said that granting the presidential pardon should not be interpreted as post-genocide Rwanda giving in to pressure to free political prisoners as some critics have claimed. “If we did not give clemency, how many people would still be in prison? We would still have hundreds of thousands in jail. But to build our country, we made the decision to rehabilitate our citizens and enable them to contribute to our country,” he said. “Even criminals, we find ways of accommodating them through rehabilitation so that they can also contribute to nation building,” he added.  The East African

S. Africa’s Ruling Party Accused of Meddling in Banks
Major banks in South Africa have accused the ruling African National Congress (ANC) of pressuring them not to close bank accounts of the influential Indian Gupta family accused of corruption. A commission of inquiry probing corruption heard Wednesday that former ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe had called bank executives for meetings to discuss why accounts belonging to the Guptas were being closed. “I was very clear, I will not discuss client details,” Nedbank Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mike Brown told the commission. The Guptas, close friends of former President Jacob Zuma, are alleged to have influenced him to fire ministers and give them lucrative government contracts. Anadolu Agency

EU Looks to Egypt, Africa for Help with Migrant Challenge
Austria urged its European Union partners Thursday to enter talks with Egypt to help stem the flow of migrants entering Europe from Africa, amid deep divisions over how to manage the challenge. Kurz, whose country currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, and EU Council President Donald Tusk visited Cairo over the weekend for talks with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a top army general who took office in 2014. Both men have praised him for stopping people from leaving its coast bound for Europe. “Egypt has proven that it can be efficient,” Kurz told reporters at an EU summit in Salzburg, Austria. “Since 2016, it has prevented ships sailing from Egypt to Europe or, when they have sailed, it has taken them back.” Kurz said Egypt is “now prepared possibly to deepen cooperation with us in talks. We should use that.” He also said EU leaders support the idea of entering into talks with other North African countries as well. AP

Hotspots, Not Trouble Spots: Africa Seeks Tourism Boom
Africa draws just 5% of the world’s tourists despite boasting attractions ranging from the Pyramids and Victoria Falls to wildlife safaris and endless strips of pristine beach. But the continent’s huge potential can be unlocked by eco tourism, cultural experiences, domestic travel and political stability, said experts at an African tourism conference hosted by Airbnb in Cape Town last week. “When you look at the success stories, it’s those countries who’ve embraced trends,” said the African Tourism Association’s (ATA) managing director Naledi Khabo who spoke at the summit. “When you look at some countries which have made sustainability a focal point, like Tanzania, or Rwanda, they’re very attractive for certain travellers.”  Times Live

Elephant Tusk DNA Helps Track Ivory Poachers
Poachers are killing 40,000 elephants a year and with a global elephant population of just 400,000, it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that there is an urgent need to stop the killing. But it’s hard to catch poachers in the act. They operate over a wide area, move just a few elephant tusks at a time and once their ivory contraband reaches a major port, it can be easily hidden among other goods, said Samuel Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington.In a new study published Wednesday in Science Advances, Dr. Wasser and several colleagues demonstrated an approach he hopes will help catch and convict more international ivory traffickers.Dr. Wasser had already developed a genetic map of African elephants by analyzing scat from across the continent. Now, he can link that map with genetic analysis of confiscated tusks to determine where the animal was living when it was killed. This can help law enforcement target areas most susceptible to poaching, he said in a telephone news conference on Tuesday. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones