Africa Media Review for September 26, 2017

A Medley of Armed Groups Play on Congo’s Crisis
DRC’s political crisis has galvanized and revived many of the estimated 70 armed groups currently active in the country, making the nexus between political and sectarian violence by armed militias a key feature of the DRC’s political instability. The legitimacy of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in its peripheral regions has always been tenuous. Throughout the country’s history, the most vehement opposition to Kinshasa has frequently emerged from its most far-flung provinces, such as Kasai, Katanga, and the Kivus. Today, this fault line is being exacerbated by President Joseph Kabila’s decision to suspend elections and remain in office after the end of his constitutionally mandated term limit in December 2016. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

President Lungu Calls for International Community to Address the Influx of Refugees Fleeing War in DR Congo
President Edgar Lungu has raised concern over the high number of refugees fleeing political conflict from Congo DR into Zambia and has called for international support to help contain the crisis and to care for asylum seekers. Special Assistant to the President for Press and Public Relations, Amos Chanda says President Lungu expressed his concern when he attended a high level side meeting called by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the SADC Troika to discuss the situation in the DRC. Mr. Chanda said President Lungu said Zambia will need the international support to enable the country manage the refugee crisis due to civil strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “The head of state has expressed concern over the influx of refugees running away from the political conflicts in Congo DR, and as a result the President held a high level meeting with UN secretary general to engage the international community to assist the country,” Mr. Chanda said. Lusaka Times

Angola Invites 26 Heads of State to New President’s Inauguration, over a Dozen Arrive
Angola is expecting 26 heads of state and government to the inauguration of newly elected president João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço on Tuesday. Among the invited guests are Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Teresa May, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, the Angolan foreign affairs ministry said. However, about a dozen heads of state are already in the country for the ceremony including the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Namibian President Hage Geingob, Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, President of Cape Verde Jorge Carlos Fonseca. Africa News

Why Is Chad in Trump’s New Travel Ban?
[…] The bans on Venezuela and North Korea are less jarring because of the heightened diplomatic tensions and already-existing sanctions on the two nations. But experts are befuddled by the decision to include Chad, one of America’s closest counter-terrorism partners in Africa. “I’m scratching my head about this decision,” said Richard Downie, deputy director of the Africa program at the Center for Strategic International Studies. “I’m not going to even try to make sense of this one,” he added. The central African nation, bordered by countries mired in conflict and revolt such as Libya, Sudan, and the Central African Republic, plays a big role regionally in the fight against terrorism. It houses the headquarters and provides troops for the multinational task force fighting the terrorist group Boko Haram. Additionally, Chad houses the headquarters for the French counterterrorism mission in the region and is a member of the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, a U.S.-led project that aims to address “terrorist threats and prevent the spread of violent extremism” in the region. Foreign Policy

Donald Trump Drops Sudan from US Travel Ban ‘after Lobbying by UAE’
Donald Trump’s travel ban has been expanded to eight countries, with citizens of North Korea, Venezuela and Chad joining the list of those restricted. But one country, Sudan, will no longer be subject to strict visa controls. The north-east African nation was one of the six Muslim-majority countries – also including Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia – whose citizens were barred from entering the US under the previous travel ban, which expired on Sunday. […] “Sudan getting dropped from the travel ban comes as the UAE has been lobbying hard for them in DC in exchange for mercenary support in Yemen,” tweeted Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief at The Intercept. Sudan has supplied thousands of troops to support the Saudi-led coalition, also including the United Arab Emirates and other Middle Eastern countries, to help fight Houthi rebels in Yemen’s civil war. The US has also provided “logistical support” to the coalition. The Independent

Ethnic Clashes in Ethiopia Leaves ‘Hundreds’ Dead
Clashes that erupted in Ethiopia this month between two of the country’s largest ethnic groups have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands, the government said Monday. The killing of two local administrators coupled with long-running land disputes led to an outbreak of fighting between the Oromo and Somali peoples in the south, government spokesman Negeri Lencho said. “We can say hundreds of the Oromo ethnicity were killed… and there were also deaths from the Somali side, we don’t know exactly how many,” Negeri told a press conference. The fighting that started along the border between the regional states belonging to the two ethnic groups has since been quelled, Negeri said. ENCA

Ethiopia Says Somaliland Displaced Thousands of Oromo People
Ethiopia accused a semi-autonomous territory in neighboring Somalia of illegally displacing more than 3,000 long-term Oromo residents in the wake of clashes on the boundary between two of Ethiopia’s regional states. The northern territory of Somaliland displaced the Oromos, who belong to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group and are now sheltering in Ethiopia’s Oromia and Somali regional states, Information Minister Negeri Lencho told reporters Monday in the capital, Addis Ababa. He said the eastern part of Oromia experienced “bloody conflict” in the border clashes earlier this month and described Oromos as having been “targeted” there, in Ethiopia’s Somali region and in Somaliland, without elaborating. He said fighting that occurred in the Ethiopian regions of Oromia and Somali this month has left “hundreds” of people dead and resulted in “tens of thousands” fleeing their homes, although the federal government will give exact figures after an investigation. Somaliland Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire said by email that he has instructed his staff to report to him on the matter and he needed the facts before he could comment. Bloomberg

Kenya May Face Constitutional Crisis over Election Impasse
Kenya is lurching toward a constitutional crisis as a standoff deepens between the two presidential candidates over how to manage a rerun of last month’s botched election. Both sides have entrenched their positions: Raila Odinga’s opposition coalition has called mass protests starting Tuesday to demand the electoral commission is overhauled before the vote, while President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling party rejects any changes to the authority and says the ballot must take place by the end of October. The impasse raises the risk that the election won’t happen at all, a situation the constitution doesn’t envisage. “If the parties retain their hard-line stances, there will be a constitutional crisis,” Charles Kanjama, managing partner at Muma & Kanjama Advocates, said in an interview Monday in the capital, Nairobi. “It’s very important that all political actors show sobriety and realize that the country can’t afford their political games, endangering our peace and security.”  Bloomberg

Museveni Allies Renew Push to Abolish Presidential Age Limit
Fierce debate continues in Uganda over the ruling party’s plans to remove the presidential age limit from the constitution. Parliament is expected to again take up the issue this week with the opposition pledging to continue its resistance. Uganda’s ruling party says it will push ahead with its plans to scrap the presidential age limit despite street protests and stiff resistance from opposition lawmakers last week. Peter Ogwang is vice-chairperson of the ruling party caucus in parliament. “It’s provided for in this law, in this constitution of the Republic of Uganda. What are we doing? We are using the law which were made by the delegates in the 1995, which [is] the law which we have been using to amend provisions of this constitution, so I am within the law,” Ogwang said.  VOA

Poll: Ugandans Don’t Want Presidential Age-Limit Change
Voters in Uganda support an existing age limit for presidential candidates by a wide margin, according to poll results released by Afrobarometer over the weekend. The survey teams interviewed 1,200 Ugandans in late December and early January, the Ghana-based organization said. They found that 75 percent of voters favored keeping the upper age limit. That limit is at the heart of a Ugandan political crisis as the nation’s parliament considers removing the constitutionally mandated upper age limit of 75 years. Opponents say the move is calculated to allow longtime ruler President Yoweri Museveni, 73, to seek re-election at the end of his current term. “Well before the current heated public debate about the presidential age limit,” Afrobarometer said, they asked Ugandans about “a range of proposed electoral reforms. Dropping the existing age limit is the only one that failed to register majority support.”  Africa Times

South Sudan Rebel Factions in Talks for Coordinated Military Operations
Various rebel factions in South Sudan said Monday they are talks to come up with a unified strategy and establish a military operation centre to help them fight the government. “It has been quite sometimes since we started talking about the need to unify and coordinate our military operations. The talks have reached a significant stage. They are at advanced level, just waiting for logistics to bring together all the leaders”, said Gen. Agany Abdel Bagi Ayii Akol, leader South Sudan Patriotic Army (SSPA). Akol explained that the military operation centre will operate under the supervision of several active leaders for strategic reasons and operations. Sudan Tribune

Over 100,000 South Sudanese Refugees Relocated in Ethiopia’s Camps
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted the Ethiopian government in relocating to refugee camps more than 100,000 South Sudanese who fled renewed conflict in the world’s youngest nation, since September 2016. Since the eruption of the brutal conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, Ethiopia has received some 330,000 refugees, including more than 115,000 since the renewed violence in September 2016 which came as a major setback to peace efforts in that country. Of these, some 30,000 arrived fleeing the escalation of conflict in July in Maiwut, Mathiang and Pagak in Upper Nile Region bordering Gambella. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwe Pastor on Trial for Subversion, Faces 20-Year Jail Term
Zimbabwe put on trial on Monday an activist pastor accused of attempting to subvert the government, a charge that carries up to 20 years in prison on conviction, following protests last year against President Robert Mugabe’s handling of the economy. Evan Mawarire, through his #ThisFlag movement, led a stay-at-home demonstration in 2016, the biggest protest in a decade, via a social media campaign that urged citizens to speak out against economic problems and government failure to pay workers. Mawarire was arrested again for subversion on Sunday as he stepped down from his pulpit after police accused him of circulating social media posts that accused the government of wrecking the economy. Reuters

General Accused of War Crimes Courted by West in Libya
European leaders are embracing a Libyan general who has ordered his soldiers to commit war crimes, according to new evidence that has been analysed by senior legal experts. The allegation of human rights abuses by Gen Khalifa Haftar, a former CIA asset who controls nearly half of Libya from his base in the east, comes as the general is due to arrive in Rome on Tuesday, where he will be received by Italian officials. The visit is a radical departure for Italy, who had previously shunned Haftar and seen him as a major obstacle to stability in the region because of his refusal to recognise the UN-backed government in the west. The two experts – a former top Pentagon attorney and a former official at the international criminal court – said that newly unearthed video evidence suggests that Haftar has been complicit in calling for extrajudicial killings and the unlawful siege of the eastern port city of Derna. In one case, he is believed to have called for the “choking” of Derna just a day after he met Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, in Benghazi. The Guardian

BNP Paribas Subject of Full-Scale Rwanda Probe in France
French judicial investigators have opened a full-scale inquiry into allegations of complicity in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, an official at the public prosecutor’s office said on Monday. BNP Paribas bank, accused by non-governmental organisations of complicity over a transfer of $1.3 million to an arms dealer, said the move was expected and not a surprise. “This in no way constitutes a new development,” a BNP spokeswoman said. The full-scale inquiry follows a preliminary investigation that began earlier this year, when three non-government organisations filed a complaint on the matter.  France 24

Algeria’s Economic Situation Deteriorates
Algeria is going through the pain of a budget crisis amid the global slump in oil prices. There are ongoing tensions within the Algerian government between those who suggest that Algeria needs to pass urgent reforms only, and those who want overall reform as well to develop both the non-hydrocarbon and private sectors. Energy sales account for 95 percent of Algeria’s exports and provide 60 percent of the state budget; but export revenues have reduced owing to both falling oil prices and the depreciation of the dinar. For nearly 15 years, the Algerian government has been able to rely on comfortable oil revenues and, consequently,with available financial resources that helped the country in maintaining social peace. Africa News

Somalis Cheer First Night Landing of Plane at Mogadishu Airport in 27 Years
This feat follows early September’s history made after the first football game was played under floodlight in three decades. The Juba Airways flight from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia carrying Somali pilgrims landed Saturday night marking the official opening of the airport for passenger flights at night since the civil war broke out in 1991. The government announced that it had opened the airport for night flights in July. Africa News



Photo: Adam Jones