Africa Media Review for September 21, 2018

Uganda’s Pop Star Politician Addresses Jubilant Crowds on Return from US
A Ugandan pop star turned opposition politician whose beating by soldiers last month prompted mass protests has vowed to fight on in an address to jubilant supporters on his return to the country from the US. Bobi Wine’s associates feared he had been arrested after he was separated from other passengers before immigration controls and prevented from seeing his lawyers at Entebbe international airport, then escorted by police to a waiting vehicle. However the 36-year-old later addressed crowds outside his home in the capital, Kampala. “It’s great to finally be home,” he said to cheers. “It looks like the government is determined to keep us slaves in our own country [but] I have come to continue exactly where I stopped. I am going to fight on.” He said he will now stay in Uganda because “I cannot be a refugee”.  The Guardian

Global Security at Stake in Mali’s Islamist War, President Says
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said his countrys six-year fight against Islamist militants should be a global concern as the West African nation faces the fallout from the offensives against insurgents in Iraq and Libya. Whats happening in Mali doesnt only concern us here, but the global community, Keita, 73, said in an interview in the capital, Bamako. With the advances in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, theres a flow back toward northern Africa, crossing into Libya, reaching Mali and the Sahel. Were not only defending our territory, were fighting for you too. The Mediterranean isnt far.On the front line of a regional war against militants affiliated with al-Qaeda and Islamic State, landlocked Mali has failed to quash an insurgency that began in its desert north and has since spread to the center and spilled across its borders. A former speaker of parliament, Keita was re-elected for second five-year term last month in a vote that was overshadowed by the worsening security situation. Bloomberg

5 Years after Mall Kenya Attack, Al-Shabab’s Threat Grows
Five years after al-Shabab fighters burst into a luxury shopping mall in Kenya’s capital, hurling grenades and starting a days-long siege that left 67 people dead, analysts say the Somalia-based extremist group has been pushed down Africa’s east coast as far as Mozambique as its regional threat expands. The assault on Westgate Mall on a sunny weekend afternoon horrified the world and exposed weaknesses in Kenya’s security forces after it took them hours to respond. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta promised reforms. Now the government of East Africa’s commercial hub is praising itself, saying security forces have effectively limited attacks to areas near the Somali border. “We learnt our mistakes and corrected them,” police Inspector General Joseph Boinnet told reporters this week, pointing out real-time intelligence sharing among security agencies.  AP

More Mass Graves Discovered From Rwanda’s Genocide
Authorities in Rwanda have found new mass graves they say contain 5,400 bodies of genocide victims nearly a quarter-century after the 1994 bloodshed. Naphtal Ahishakiye, executive secretary of genocide survivors’ organization Ibuka, told The Associated Press the bodies were exhumed from 26 mass graves in the capital’s Kicukiro district. He said the discovery followed a tip from a man who heard about the graves as a child. Other mass graves were found in April. The discoveries have been called the most significant in years in this East African nation still recovering from the killings of more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Many Rwandans are shocked and saddened that community residents have kept quiet about the graves for so long. Houses had been built on top of the graves. VOA

Libya Says Death Toll from Tripoli Clashes Climbs to 96
The death toll from weeks of fighting between armed groups in Libya’s capital, Tripoli, has climbed to at least 96 people, including civilians, authorities said Friday. The violence has shattered a U.N.-brokered cease-fire reached earlier this month. In addition to the fatalities, the clashes have wounded 444 people. Also, 16 people are missing. The Health Ministry said the fighting, which first erupted on Aug. 26, has also displaced at least 123 families from their homes. On Thursday, 11 people, including eight civilians, were killed and 33 others were wounded in southern Tripoli, the ministry added. The U.N. mission tweeted on Thursday, urging warring parties “to immediately cease all acts of violence in Tripoli.”  AP

Lake Victoria, Tanzania Ferry Disaster Death Toll Hits 100 
At least 100 people are known to have died after a ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized on Lake Victoria, Tanzania, officials say. Many more are missing and it is feared that more than 200 people may have drowned. Rescue efforts resumed on Friday after being halted overnight. The MV Nyerere ferry overturned near Ukara island on its way from Bugorora. It is thought the overloaded vessel tipped over when crowds on board moved to one side as it docked. Local media say the ferry’s official capacity was 100 people but officials say the vessel was carrying more than 400 passengers when it capsized.  BBC

Ghana Flooding Kills 34 during Heavy Rains
At least 34 people have died in northern Ghana during flooding caused by heavy rains and waters spilling from a dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso, relief agency officials said Thursday.  Bagre Dam is located on the White Volta river that begins in Burkina Faso and which converges with the Black Volta downstream and feeds into Lake Volta in southern Ghana. The authorities open the dam’s spillways during annual rains, but the excess volumes of water regularly flood communities along the rivers. People living along the White Volta have been urged to stay away from its banks.Others have been told to move to higher ground. Seji Saji, deputy head of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation, said the situation was under control and teams were working flat out to reach those affected. Daily Maverick

Egypt Court Orders Release of Former President’s Sons
An Egyptian court on Thursday ordered the release from detention of former president Hosni Mubarak’s two sons, overturning a ruling by another court whose judge surprisingly told police to arrest them and send them to prison. The judge in the Sept. 15 hearing ordered the detention of wealthy businessman Alaa and one-time heir-apparent Gamal before adjourning the hearings until Oct. 20. The surprise decision by Judge Ahmed Aboul-Fetouh followed his rejection of a technical report that apparently cleared the pair of any wrongdoing. Thursday’s ruling to release the Mubarak sons on a bail of 100,000 pounds ($5,600) each came just hours after an appeals court accepted a motion moved by their defense lawyers to remove the judge who ordered their detention.  AP

Spain Now Sees More Migrant Arrivals than Any Other European Country
This summer, Spain became the main entry point for migrants crossing into Europe. As of early September, more than 35,000 people crossed into the country either by land or sea, surpassing other leading entry points and topping Spain’s own total for all of 2017, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration. While migration routes to Italy and Greece have been busy for years, Spain is now receiving twice as many migrants as Greece and six times as many as Italy. The routes are constantly in flux, but academics believe this shift could be partly due to Italy essentially closing off the central Mediterranean route — first by making a deal with Libya to intercept migrants, then by detaining rescue vessels in the area, and lastly by closing off its ports. Most of the arrivals in Spain are taking place in the southern region of Andalusia, where the crossing from Morocco is much shorter. NPR

Plot, Poison, or Curse? Ebola Rumours Spread in Congo
Some think the disease is a plot to kill off opposition voters. Others believe it is a money-making scheme by foreign groups. These are among the rumours that have caused people to refuse Ebola vaccines and throw stones at health workers in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where an Ebola outbreak has killed almost 100 people since July, the Red Cross said. By analysing hundreds of household surveys, the aid agency found three main theories about Ebola: that it is a political strategy, that it is a business, and that it is a curse. Humanitarian workers hope a better understanding of these beliefs will help them gain trust, after Congo’s health minister said that “community resistance is the first challenge to the response.”  The Star

UNAMID Quick Withdrawal Puts Darfur at Risk, Say UK Lawmakers
A delegation of UK parliamentarians visiting Sudan nowadays stated that the hastened pullout of UNAMID troops from Darfur region may jeopardize the relative stability in the region as the displaced persons are still living in the camps. A four-member delegation from the House of Commons and House of Lords on Wednesday met with the North Darfur governor, Abu Shouk camp for IDPs outside, and UNAMID officials. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, David Drew MP, leader of the visiting delegation warned against the ongoing downsizing of the peacekeeping mission in Darfur region. “Withdrawing too quickly without a clear plan puts the progress made in Darfur at risk. Any further cuts must reflect genuine improvements on the ground, as well as assurances that the UN Country Team will have the resources and support necessary to fill the gaps,” said Mp Drew. Sudan Tribune

Algeria Sacks Ground Forces Chief in Army Overhaul
Algeria’s commander of ground forces has been retired, the defence ministry said on Wednesday, a day after confirmation of the air force chief’s ouster as part of a sweeping overhaul of the military. The armed forces chief of staff, Ahmed Gaid Salah, is to preside over a ceremony on Thursday at which Major General Said Chanegriha will take over as ground forces commander. He will replace “Ahcene Tafer, who has been retired”, the defence ministry said in a statement. Tafer had served as ground forces chief since 2004, after having first held the post between 1994 and 2000. The 74-year-old survived an Islamist attack on his convoy in 2008. The defence ministry’s announcement was the first official confirmation of Tafer’s dismissal, which like other high-level army sackings had been reported in Algerian media. AFP

Algeria Has Long Way to Go to Counter Terrorism Financing- U.S. Report
The scale of the informal market in Algeria dominated by cash transactions make it hard to counter terrorism financing, the U.S. department of state said in a report. “Foreign exchange restrictions and distrust of banks push Algerians to cash transactions and informal currency-exchange markets,” the U.S. State Department said in the Country Reports on Terrorism 2017. “Media reports suggest the scale of the informal market grew, partly in response to government import limitations. Multiple fiscal initiatives by the government have failed to motivate illegal traders to formalize their businesses,” reads the report in a section on countering the financing of terrorism. Despite efforts to avert terrorist attacks in Algeria, “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), AQIM-allied groups, and ISIS elements, including the Algerian affiliate locally known as Jund al-Khilafah in Algeria (JAK-A or Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria), remained in the country.”  The Africa Post

Tanzania Suspends US-Funded Family Planning Ads on Radio, Television
Tanzania has suspended broadcasting of family planning advertisements by a US-funded project, a health ministry letter showed, a fortnight after President John Magufuli said family planning was for those “too lazy to take care of their children”. The letter signed by the permanent secretary in the ministry covering health and gender issues asked the head of FHI 360, a US-based non-governmental organisation, to immediately stop airing advertisements under a project called Tulonge Afya (Let’s speak health). “The ministry intends to revise the contents of all your ongoing radio and TV spots for family planning, thus I request you to stop with immediate effect airing and publishing any family planning contents in any media channels until further notice,” the letter, dated September 19, said.  Reuters

Nigeria Suspends Relaunch of National Airline
Nigeria is suspending the relaunch of its national airline just over two months after it announced the new venture, the country’s aviation minister has said. The government had planned to launch the prestige project in December to make good on a promise by Muhammadu Buhari when he ran for president in 2015. He will seek re-election in February. “I regret to announce that the Federal Executive Council has taken the tough decision to suspend the national carrier project in the interim,” Hadi Sirika, junior aviation minister, said on Wednesday on Twitter after the weekly cabinet meeting. “All commitments due will be honoured,” he said. No reason was given for the decision. In a separate statement, Sirika said: “The suspension was strategic and had nothing to do with politics.”  Al Jazeera

Defense Expo Reflects Troubles for South African Military
South Africa is one of the continent’s biggest defense spenders but its military is increasingly stretched as the country faces recession and a weakening currency. This week’s biennial Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition is a showcase for the country’s military, which is one of the top 20 contributors to United Nations peacekeeping missions and helps with anti-piracy operations off Mozambique’s coast. Concerns also are growing about possible corruption linked to state-owned defense conglomerate Denel, part of a wider inquiry into the alleged plundering of state resources under former President Jacob Zuma. South Africa’s military has got a lot on its plate, said Guy Martin, editor of defenceWeb, an industry news site. The country has a defense budget of more than $3 billion. However, the weakening South African currency and the economic recession are making it harder for the military to acquire new equipment and training. Stars and Stripes



Photo: Adam Jones