Africa Media Review for September 26, 2019

12 Killed in Jihadist Attacks in Mozambique
Twelve people were killed late Monday in fresh attacks by suspected jihadists in northern Mozambique ahead of elections next month, officials said. Ten people were murdered in the village of Mbau, in Mocimbao da Praia district, and half of the homes in the locality were burned down, along with the offices of the ruling Frelimo party, a local official said on Tuesday. … Northern Mozambique has borne the brunt of a nearly two-year-old wave of attacks by a shadowy jihadist organisation, defying attempts by the government to secure the region. At least 300 civilians have been killed and tens of thousands of people have fled their homes. The so-called Islamic State group has recently claimed responsibility for several attacks, but this assertion is doubted by experts. Presidential, legislative and provincial elections are due to take place on October 15. AFP

World Losing Ground against Violence in Sahel, U.N. Says
West African and international powers are failing to tackle the spiralling threat of Islamist militancy in the Sahel region, which is spreading towards the Gulf of Guinea, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday. Groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State have strengthened their foothold across the arid Sahel region this year, making large swathes of territory ungovernable and stoking ethnic violence, especially in Mali and Burkina Faso. France, the former colonial power in the region, intervened in Mali in 2013 to drive out Islamist militants who had occupied the north, but rather than stabilising the region, the situation has progressively worsened. “Let’s be clear, we are losing ground in the face of violence,” Guterres told a high-level panel on the sidelines of the United National General Assembly. Reuters

Coalition of Ex-Rebels Exits Dialogue on Mali’s Peace Deal
A coalition of former rebels in Mali announced on Wednesday it is withdrawing from a political dialogue meant to implement a 2015 peace agreement in the troubled West African nation. Spokesman Mossa Ag Attaher told The Associated Press the decision by the Coordination of Movements of Azawad comes in response to comments by President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita indicating that certain parts of the fragile accord could be revisited. “The essential is in preserving the spirit” of the deal, the president said in a national speech on Sunday. The coalition’s spokesman said they could not agree with that approach. “We believe that there’s a problem because for us all the provisions of the peace agreement are paramount and their implementation is our priority to achieve a new and peaceful Mali,” Attaher said. … This is the latest challenge to the implementation of the peace deal, which was signed after turmoil that began when mutinous soldiers overthrew the president in 2012. AP

Flee or Die: The Cruel Choice in Jihad-Hit Burkina Faso
“We have nothing,” says Belen Boureima, a 74-year-old farmer, as his weathered face contemplates the scrap of land in the remote village he and his family must now call home. “But it’s better to be alive here than to stay in Djibo and die.” Djibo, a dusty town in northern Burkina Faso, has become a byword for suffering in this impoverished country’s seven-year-old struggle with jihadism. More than 580 people have been killed since the insurgency spilled over from neighbouring Mali, according to an AFP tally. Attacks on emblems of the state, hit-and-run raids on remote villages and brutal interpretation of Islamic law have forced an estimated 300,000 people to flee their homes. Among them is Boureima, head of a family of 43 people – seven men, 13 women and 23 children. They abandoned their village of Gassalpalik, 70 kilometres (44 miles) from Djibo, eventually washing up in Yagma, a village about 30km north of the capital Ouagadougou. AFP

Over 1,900 Arrested as Egypt Braces for More Protests
More than 1,900 people have been arrested in Egypt in the last week, as the country braces for further demonstrations on Friday against the rule of president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The figures were compiled by the Cairo-based NGO the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. Bystanders and others who had little to do with the protests were reportedly detained along with the demonstrators, and those arrested were being held across the country. Egyptian authorities also arrested several prominent opposition figures, despite no indication that any were involved with this new wave of dissent. … But after tear gas, rubber bullets, beatings and live ammunition were used against demonstrators who took to the streets to call for Sisi’s ousting last weekend, questions of how security forces could respond and whether they may resort to deadly force cast a shadow over coming events. The Guardian

‘We Have a Greedy King’ Say Protesters as Anti-Monarchy Protests in eSwatini Turn Violent
Violent clashes erupted in eSwatini on Wednesday after police cracked down on civil servants protesting against low pay and rising living costs in Africa’s last absolute monarchy. Teachers and workers went on strike last week in the four main towns of eSwatini – a tiny southern African kingdom until recently known as Swaziland, surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique. They accuse King Mswati III of draining public coffers at the expense of his subjects, and flocked to the capital Mbabane from Friday to discuss action with opposition pro-democracy groups. Police fired tear gas, stun grenades and water canons on Wednesday to disperse the crowd, who responded by pelting rocks at police cars and government buildings. AFP

Somali Military Kills 30 Al-Shabab Militants in Southern Region
The Somali military confirmed on Thursday (Sept 26) its forces have killed 30 al-Shabab militants and injured 40 others in an offensive in the country’s Lower Shabelle region on Wednesday. Hassan Aden Hashi, deputy commander of the April 12 Unit of the Somali army, told journalists that the forces carried out a planned operation on a base used by the militants in an area between El Salini and Dhanane villages in Lower Shabelle. “Our forces inflicted heavy casualties on the militants during the operation. We killed 30 of them and injured 40 others,” Hashi said, adding that the forces also seized three battle vehicles and detained some members of the terrorist group during the offensive. Local inhabitants said there was an intensive gun battle in the town which lasted for several hours. The latest military offensive came four days after government forces killed 13 al-Shabab militants in a gun battle in the same area. Xinhua

Kenya, Somalia Presidents Hold Talks at UN Convention
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mohamed Farmaajo of Somalia have agreed to normalise relations between the two countries, but fell short of a deal on the simmering maritime dispute. In their first face-to-face meeting since March, the two leaders on Tuesday night in New York discussed relations, which have recently gone cold as they fight over the flow maritime boundary. The meeting, brokered by Egypt’s President Abdelfattah al-Sisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, was the first step to normalise relations between the two sides. … The Kenya-Somalia dispute had recently generated tit-for-tat moves restricting direct flights as well as issuance of visas at ports of entry. Some regional experts have warned that further deterioration of relations could allow al-Shabaab militants to thrive as the two countries also collaborate on counter-terrorism measures. The East African

Agreement Signed for UN Human Rights Offices in Sudan
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday signed an agreement with the government of Sudan to open a UN Human Rights Office in Khartoum and field offices in Darfur, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and East Sudan. Bachelet and Sudan’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs Asma Mohamed Abdalla, signed the agreement in the presence of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdouk in New York, where they are attending the UN General Assembly. “We have witnessed with admiration the persistence of the women, men and youth in Sudan in asserting their human rights. The road ahead promises to be full of challenges, but we are ready to assist to ensure human rights permeate the transition,” Bachelet said “With this milestone agreement, we are poised to accompany Sudan through an important moment in its history, to offer all our support to make this transition a success for the human rights of all the people of Sudan.” Radio Dabanga

Jihadists Kill Abducted Aid Worker in Nigeria
Jihadists aligned to Islamic State have killed one of six aid workers abducted in July in northeast Nigeria, charity group Action Against Hunger said Wednesday. The six Nigerian aid workers — one woman and five men — were seized by jihadists during an ambush on their convoy close to the border with Niger. “The armed group holding captive an employee of Action Against Hunger (ACF), two drivers and three health ministry personnel, have executed a hostage,” the Paris-based organisation said in a statement. … The announcement of the latest execution comes after the army last week shut down ACF offices in northeast Nigeria, accusing the organisation of supplying “food and drugs” to the jihadists. A second aid group, Mercy Corps, said Wednesday that it was suspending its operations in the region after the military closed its offices. … The army’s crackdown on the international organisations is the latest flashpoint in the tense relations between aid groups and the military. AFP

Ethiopia Ethnic Clashes: 1,200 Killed over Last Year
Ethiopian authorities say that more than 1,200 people have been killed in ethnic clashes over the last 12 months. The Attorney General’s Office says 1.2 million people were forced to flee their homes. Although the violence has subsided, tensions between rival ethnic groups – mostly over access to land – remain Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s greatest challenge. Earlier this year the government was criticised by some rights groups for forcing some of the displaced to return to their home areas even when they did not feel it was safe to do so. Ethiopia is made up of nine different self-governing ethnic regions. In 2018 close to three million Ethiopians were displaced by conflict – the highest figure recorded worldwide. BBC

UN Warns Libya Moving Toward Full-Scale Civil War
The United Nations warns escalating violence and a deepening humanitarian crisis in Libya is pushing the country closer toward a return to the full-scale civil war that overthrew former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The United Nations warns progress toward achieving a more stable, effective, and humane government has been shattered. It says the military offensive of rebel leader General Khalifa Haftar on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in April has brought the political process to a standstill. Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore says she fears the chaos, the unbearable suffering of the civilian population, and widespread human rights violations in the country will continue unabated. She says summary executions, abductions, enforced disappearances, torture and gender-based violence are rampant. She notes thousands of women, men and children languish in prolonged arbitrary detention. VOA

Putin-Linked Mercenaries Are Fighting on Libya’s Front Lines
A private army linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun fighting on the front lines of the Libyan war, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest projection of Russian power following a decisive military intervention in Syria. More than 100 mercenaries from the Wagner group headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, also known as “Putin’s chef” for his Kremlin catering contracts, arrived at a forward base in Libya in the first week of September to support eastern strongman Khalifa Haftar’s assault on the capital Tripoli, said the people, who included Libyan and Western officials. All asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak with the press. A Russian mercenary commander also confirmed that Wagner contractors were fighting in Libya, and said that some had been killed in action there. Bloomberg

Angola: Country Has 1,000 Minefields but 90pct Less Funding for Mine Clearance
Angola still has more than 1,000 minefields to clear, but has lost around 90 per cent of its international funding for mine clearance, making it more difficult to meet the goal of freeing the country from mines by 2025. In an interview with Lusa, Adriano Gonçalves, head of the Exchange and Cooperation office of the Intersectoral Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH), takes up the problem: “For about ten years we have been suffering declines in funding for demining in Angola,” in the order of 90%, which has had a direct impact on mine clearance activities that have been “considerably” reduced. In addition to the reduction in funding from international donors, the funds from the General State Budget have also fallen significantly, penalised by the fall in oil prices in 2014. Lusa

South Sudan Launches Mobile Money to Boost Recovery from War
South Sudan has launched mobile money, the ability to send and receive funds by phone, in an attempt to boost the economy after a five-year civil war killed almost 400,000 people. … Angelo Adud needed some persuading to leave his job as a shopkeeper and become a mobile money agent in South Sudan. Yet one week into his new role, the 29-year-old already saw a return on his investment. “This is a new country and digital things are hard to understand. I was worried, what if no one comes?” he said while helping a customer withdraw money in his newly rented space in the back of a parking lot in the capital, Juba. Adud said he earned more in commissions in one week than he would make in a month in his shop. South Sudan has launched mobile money, the ability to send and receive funds by phone, in an attempt to boost the economy after a five-year civil war killed almost 400,000 people. AP

Africa Will See the World’s Biggest Surge in Illicit Drug Users over the Next 30 Years
African health systems and law enforcement will face an increased burden over the next 30 years because of a projected rise in the number of drug users on the continent. By 2050, there will be 14 million more users of illicit drugs in addition to the current estimated drug user population of about 9 million on the continent, according to a study by Enact, a coalition of security-focused organizations including Interpol. “This figure represents the most substantial increase in the absolute number of drug users in any region in the world,” the study said. West Africa’s position as Africa’s largest drug market will remain unchanged but the study’s most alarming projection is that East Africa will witness a significant rise in the number of its drug users. Quartz Africa



Photo: Adam Jones