Africa Media Review for September 29, 2017

Car Bomb Blast Kills Seven in Somalia’s Mogadishu
A car bomb blast near a popular market in the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, has killed at least seven people, according to officials. Thursday’s explosion, which also wounded several people, occurred alongside a densely-populated road near Hamarweyne market, an area that has previously suffered bomb attacks claimed by the al-Shabab armed group. “The blast was caused by a luxurious car loaded with explosives, which was detonated at a civilian, densely-populated area, and seven people were killed and several others wounded,” Abdifatah Omar Halane, city administration spokesman, told reporters. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Al Jazeera

US Strikes ISIS Targets in Libya for a Second Time in Less Than a Week
The US military conducted airstrikes against ISIS fighters in Libya Tuesday, for a second time in less than a week and only the second time the US has struck targets in the North African country since Donald Trump became President. “US forces conducted two precision airstrikes in Libya against ISIS militants,” US Africa Command, which oversees US troops in the region, said in a statement issued Thursday. Africa Command added that the strikes killed “several ISIS militants” and were carried out “in coordination with the Libyan Government of National Accord,” the internationally recognized government based in Tripoli. The strike occurred approximately 100 miles southeast of Sirte, the one-time ISIS stronghold in Libya, according to Africa Command. Tuesday’s strikes were carried out by unmanned aircraft and killed fewer than 10 ISIS fighters, two US defense officials told CNN. CNN

Group: Burundi Refugees Pressured to Go Home; Still Not Safe
Thousands of Burundi refugees are under pressure to go home where they risk being killed, tortured or raped, an international human rights group said Friday. There is pervasive climate of fear in Burundi two years after Nkurunziza changed Burundi’s constitution and won a third term in office, which many opposed, said the rights group. More than 400,000 Burundians have fled the country fearing violence since April 2015 when Nkururunziza’s candidacy sparked weeks of protests and a failed coup. Amnesty International said in a report that it interviewed 129 Burundi refugees in camps in Tanzania and Uganda, some of whom escaped persecution by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government as recently as May this year. Sixteen people told Amnesty that they were tortured or ill-treated while in detention, among them a young man who said he was detained for a week in May in Kirundo Province, northern Burundi, the report said. He said he was held in a tiny unlit room with three others, repeatedly beaten with batons, and made to eat his meals in the toilet next door, the report said. AP

U.N. Agrees New Team of Experts for Burundi; EU, US Decry Move 
The United Nations Human Rights Council agreed on Thursday to an African resolution to send a team of three experts to work with Burundi government in pursuing perpetrators of “deplorable crimes”. The European Union (EU) and United States spoke out strongly against the last-minute text presented by the Africa Group, which was adopted by a vote of 23 states in favour, 14 against, with 9 abstentions at the 47-member Geneva forum. “The text in no way reflects the scale or severity of the situation in Burundi,” the Latvia delegation said on behalf of the EU, adding that the last-minute manoeuvre “presents a dangerous precedent for the Council”.The fate of an existing U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Burundi, which said this month that top-level Burundian officials should be held accountable for atrocities possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, was not immediately clear. Reuters

Congo Naval Boats Battle Rebels on Lake Tanganyika
Naval boats battled rebels on Lake Tanganyika in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday as heavy fighting spread close to the lakeside city of Uvira, sources in the area said. Fighting between the Mai-Mai Yakutumba militia and Congo government forces broke out at the weekend on the outskirts of Uvira, close to the Burundi border. Unrest has mounted since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired last December. “Since 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) there has been an exchange of gunfire between the army and the Mai-Mai in Uvira,” said Lubungula Dem’s M‘Sato, a member of a peacebuilding advocacy group in Uvira, the second largest city in South Kivu province. Congo’s navy also repelled an attack by Mai-Mai rebels in boats on the lake, military spokesman Louis-Claude Tshimwanga said, adding that government ships had sunk one of the rebel’s boats and that government forces remained in control of Uvira. Reuters

UN Sends Troops to East Congo City as Army Fights Rebels
The United Nations deployed troops to a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as the national army said it fought a rebel group on nearby Lake Tanganyika. The unspecified number of troops from the UN’s Congo mission were moved to Uvira, South Kivu province, on Wednesday after clashes in the area to “deter any attack to the city and to avoid the escalation of the conflict,” it said in a statement. Congo’s military said it’s been fighting a coalition of armed groups led by a militia known as Mai-Mai Yakutumba in the hills near Uvira and early Thursday thwarted an attempt to attack the city by boat. “Our naval force intercepted and fought them,” spokesman Major Louis-Claude Tshimwanga said Thursday by phone. One rebel boat was sunk and Congolese forces have surrounded three other vessels, he said. The UN has more than 16,000 military personnel in Congo, which is almost the size of Western Europe and the world’s largest source of cobalt. For two decades the country has struggled to defeat dozens of local and foreign militias in the east, which has deposits of tin, gold and coltan. Uvira sits near the border with Burundi, on the north end of Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest freshwater lake. Bloomberg

Cameroon President Deploys Army to Anglophone Regions to Face off Secessionists
Cameroonian President Paul Biya has dispatched the military to the South West and North West Regions of the country ahead of independence day on October 1 to face off secessionists. The military deployment was officially announced by the Governor of the South West Region Bernard Okalia Bilai on Thursday after restricting movement of people and vehicles, closing all public places and banning meetings. “Following repeated threats propagated by secessionists through the social media, their Southern Cameroon Broadcasting Corporation and tracts to mislead public opinion and destabilize our country; “The Head of State has ordered and mobilized the Army to protect the territorial integrity of the Nation as well as guarantee the security of all law-abiding persons and their property in conformity with the provisions of our Constitution,” he said in a statement. Africa News

Kenya’s Ruling Party Moves to Amend Election Law Ahead of Vote Re-Run
Kenya’s ruling Jubilee Party on Thursday presented parliament with proposals intended to prevent the Supreme Court annulling the results of a coming re-run presidential election, as it did the last vote in August. The court struck down President Uhuru Kenyatta’s poll victory then, saying there had been illegalities and irregularities in the transmission of results. Kenya used two systems to transmit results from polling stations: paper forms and the electronic transmission of the vote tallies plus scanned copies of the forms. The court found flaws in both. Jubilee’s proposed amendments to election law would stop the court from invalidating results if the electronic transmission again fails to work smoothly. The manually transmitted results would be final, a copy of the amendments seen by Reuters on Thursday showed. Reuters

Nigeria Sets up Special Courts to Battle Graft
Nigeria is setting up special courts to speed up the trial of corruption cases and give a boost to President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts to fulfill an electoral pledge to stamp out graft in Africa’s biggest oil producer, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said. “The chief justice has given the directive to all the 36 states to designate one court for the trial of corruption,” Mohammed said in an interview on Thursday in London. “Taking out corruption cases and putting them in special courts is going to fast-track the prosecution.” Buhari, whose election in 2015 marked the first time in Nigeria’s history an opposition candidate defeated an incumbent, campaigned on ending widespread corruption and reforming the country of more than 180 million people. Instead, a plunge in output and prices of crude, the nation’s main export and source of two-thirds of government revenue, sent the economy into its biggest slump in a quarter century. Bloomberg

South Africa Fought Boko Haram
Nigeria’s ambassador to South Africa, Danjuma Sheni, said Nigeria was happy to have received South African support in the fight against Boko Haram. The revelation that South Africa had helped Nigeria with military hardware was made at a media briefing of the third session of the South Africa-Nigeria Defence Committee meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday. Delegates from the two countries’ armed forces and commercial military stakeholders met to discuss military co-operation. It was agreed that South Africa would help Nigeria to set up its own military industrial complex. Times Live

Cameroon Seals Border as Fresh Violence Escalates in CAR
Business activity has come to a standstill as Cameroon has sealed its northern border with the troubled Central African Republic following escalating violence in the neighboring country. Cameroon says several of its citizens have been kidnapped and taken to C.A.R. by armed groups. Hundreds of villagers in the Cameroon northern town of Mayo Rey celebrated the return home of three traders captured by armed groups from their town two weeks ago. They were taken across the border to the Central African Republic and their families asked to pay $10,000 each the hostages release. Among the crowd was Julie Nelem, 25, whose uncle was kidnapped . She is very happy her uncle has returned, allowing her to continue to have money to fund her studies, Julie told VOA. VOA

Opposition Governor First to Announce Nigeria Presidency Bid
A leading Nigerian opposition politician on Thursday said he intended to run for president in 2019, becoming the first candidate to stake his claim for the country’s top job. Peter Ayodele Fayose, the governor of the southwestern state of Ekiti, formally launched his bid to be the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate at an Abuja hotel. The 56-year-old has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party. “This is to inform you formally that I will seek to contend the 2019 presidential election,” he said in a speech. “I am confident that with your support as my party leaders and supporters I will defeat the incumbent president… in a free and fair election.” AFP

‘US Sanctions Have Weakened My Country,’ Says Sudan’s Bashir
President Omar al-Bashir said on Thursday that Washington’s “unjust” trade embargo on Sudan had weakened the African country and caused immense hardship for its people. His comments came just two weeks before US President Donald Trump is to decide whether to permanently lift the embargo that Washington first imposed two decades ago over Khartoum’s alleged backing for Islamist militant groups. “The unjust sanctions imposed on our country since 1997 have primarily weakened the state and its institutions, and caused hardship to our people immensely,” Bashir said at an African security and intelligence conference in Khartoum. “Despite the sanctions … concentrated efforts are being taken for achieving national security and stability and for countering extremism.” AFP

S. Sudan Seeks Negotiation with U.S. Over Sanctioned Officials
South Sudan said Thursday that it is seeking negotiation with the United States over sanctions imposed three senior officials of South Sudan. President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Xinhua that they are not ruling out negotiation with Washington to lift sanctions imposed on these officials. “We think the government should negotiate with the U.S. on the sanctions, because these sanctions are hindering peace implementation,” he said in Juba. The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Sept. 6 imposed sanctions and travel ban that include asset freeze on the minister of information Michael Makuei, South Sudan army (SPLA) deputy chief of staff Malek Rueben and former SPLA chief of staff Paul Malong. Xinhua

Raila: Kalonzo ‘Blocked’ from Travelling to Uganda
Kenya opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga has accused State House of blocking his co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula from travelling to Uganda. Mr Odinga on Thursday said the two leaders were detained at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport while on their way to Kampala where Mr Musyoka was to preside over a graduation ceremony. The Wiper leader was headed to Uganda Technology and Management University, where he is the chancellor. While the two were later allowed to travel, Mr Odinga said, the attempts point to a rapid deterioration of the political situation in the country and the emergence of an all-out effort to create an atmosphere of fear. Mr Odinga, in a press statement, said police told the two leaders that henceforth all opposition leaders will need clearance from State House before leaving the country. The East African

Twin Explosives Hit Ugandan Lawmaker Kasibante’s Home 
Two explosives Thursday ripped through the house of a Ugandan lawmaker, only an hour after police set him free from detention over the presidential age limit controversy. Police had just escorted Mr Moses Kasibante home from detention, when the incident happened. The MP for Rubaga North was among the several lawmakers locked up on Wednesday following a second successive day of chaos in parliament. The East African

UN Scaling Back Dadaab Operations as Population and Funding Decline
A steep drop in funding and a steady decrease in population are leading the United Nations to scale back its operations in the Dadaab camps, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday. The total number of the mainly Somali residents of Dadaab has been reduced by nearly half in recent years — from 464,500 in 2011 to 240,000 as of mid-September, according to the UN. The budget for the camps has been cut by 70 percent during the same period, said UN refugee agency spokeswoman Yvonne Ndege. As a result, the UN plans to close its Alinjugur field office in Dadaab by next March. That move has sparked protests on the part of residents who fear a loss of services, the Nation reported on Tuesday. Daily Nation

Togo and Benin Pin Energy Hopes on Controversial Dam
[…] The lack of power is a big problem in Togo and Benin, two small countries in West Africa. Rural access to electricity in both countries is about 16% and the level of poverty is high. Without substantial infrastructure, they import more than 80% of their electricity from neighbouring countries like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria. But that dependence could be coming to an end. After a political struggle that lasted almost 10 years, Togo and Benin agreed to launch a joint project, the Adjarala hydropower station. Currently being built on the Mono River, which serves as a border between the two countries, it will be 40 metres high, have a reservoir that is 3.7 kilometres long and generate 147 megawatts of power. Despite serious delays and environmental concerns, the project represents hope for millions of people living without electricity in both countries. “Lack of access to electricity is a serious problem for us,” says Emmanuel. “I hope that once the dam is completed, my family will not face this problem again.” Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones