Africa Media Review for September 4, 2018

China Offers Africa Billions, ‘No Strings Attached’
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion (roughly €52 billion) in aid to African leaders during a major summit in Beijing on Monday as part of China’s push to boost its influence abroad. Xi promised at the Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) that “China’s investment in Africa comes with no political strings attached.” “China’s cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development. Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most,” Xi said. Beijing has poured billions in its Belt and Road initiative, a development and investment scheme focused on promoting trade connectivity that places China at the center. Xi, however, stressed that Belt and Road “is not a scheme to form an exclusive club or bloc against others.”  Deutsche Welle

Handful of African Presidents Not Attending 2018 FOCAC Summit in China
Every African government is represented in the Chinese capital Beijing for the 3rd Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, FOCAC. The delegations are largely led by Presidents or Prime Ministers who started arriving in China since late last week. Many of them have since held different levels of bilateral talks with officials of the host country. The summit officially kicked off today (September 3) and closes tomorrow. This year’s edition is themed “China and Africa: Toward an Even Stronger Community with a Shared Future through Win-Win Cooperation.” It turns out, however, that a handful of African leaders preferred to remain at home to tackle other affairs at a time that the continent is almost bereft of presidents. Africa News

Death Toll Hits 48 in Boko Haram Attack on Nigeria Troops: Sources
The death toll from a Boko Haram attack on a Nigerian army post on the border with Niger has risen to 48, military sources said on Monday. Scores of Boko Haram fighters in trucks stormed the base on Thursday in Zari village in northern Borno state and briefly seized it after a fierce battle. Boko Haram, which has been waging a deadly insurgency in Nigeria since 2009, has intensified attacks on military targets in recent months. At least 30 Nigerian soldiers were intially said to have been killed in Thursday’s raid. “The casualty toll now stands at 48 with the recovery of 17 more bodies of soldiers in surrounding bushes in Zari by search and rescue teams,” a military source who did not want to be named told AFP. “Search operations are still ongoing and more bodies are likely to be recovered.”  AFP

Berlin Hosts Lake Chad Donor Drive amid Humanitarian Crisis
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has pledged another €100 million in humanitarian aid for the Lake Chad basin, to be paid out until 2020. A further €40 million are to be invested in security and development projects in the region. Germany pledged the same amount at last year’s conference in Oslo. Maas said that the Lake Chad countries have had some success in pushing back Boko Haram terrorists, who have killed more than 30,000 people, according to the German Foreign Ministry. He warned, however, that there are signs that the terror group was regaining ground. “Recently, we’ve again had numerous attacks on security forces, street markets, mosques and churches,” he said in Berlin. Deutsche Welle

Libya Says Death Toll from Tripoli Clashes Climbs to 50
Libyan authorities say the death toll from fighting between rival armed groups in the capital Tripoli has climbed to at least 50 people including civilians. The Health Ministry says Tuesday the clashes since late August have left at least 138 others wounded. The fighting erupted last week between groups from Tripoli and rivals from a town to the south. The U.N.-backed government has declared a state of emergency in and around the capital. The U.N. mission in Libya has called for an “urgent dialogue on the security situation” in Tripoli on Tuesday. Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that overthrew and ruler Moammar Gadhafi and led to his death. Libya is governed by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east, each of which are backed by an array of militias. AP

Hundreds of Prisoners Escape from Tripoli Jail amid Militia Fighting
A mass jailbreak by 400 prisoners has added to the chaos of nine days of militia fighting in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, throwing into doubt French-led plans to hold elections later this year and forcing the Italian government to deny it would sanction a military intervention to restore order. The prisoners, reportedly terrified by fighting raging around them, forced their way past guards and broke down doors to escape the Ain Zara prison, flooding into a city already traumatised by the worst street fighting seen in four years. The UN-recognised government of national accord in Tripoli has already declared a state of emergency and the prime minister, Faye al-Sarraj, flew back from a holiday in London to urge a ceasefire. The scale of the fighting led the Italian interior minister, Matteo Salvini, to deny media reports of a possible military intervention by Italian special forces. “I exclude military interventions that do not solve anything,” he said.  The Guardian

South Sudan Accused of Killings, Torture, Squalor in Jails
Pushing filthy hands between the bars of his cell, Maluel Chol held up a small black plastic bag. “This is where I go to the toilet,” he said. The 28-year-old has been detained for six months in South Sudan’s capital, accused of murder but not yet officially charged and with no access to a lawyer. Hundreds of people detained in South Sudan face such treatment and far worse, a new Amnesty International report says, accusing authorities of torturing people to death and letting many others languish behind bars since civil war began in late 2013. At least 20 people died in detention between 2014 and 2016 and four died last year because of harsh conditions and inadequate medical care, according to the report. “It is extremely unconscionable that South Sudanese authorities arrest, torture and ill-treat people in total disregard for their human rights,” said Seif Magango, Amnesty’s deputy director for East Africa. He called on South Sudan’s government to release political detainees or charge them. AP

South Sudan: Parties Initial Implementation Matrix on Security Arrangements
South Sudan’s government and opposition groups on Sunday night initialled the implementation matrix on security arrangements in Khartoum. In a press statement, South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth confirmed that the parties initialled the implementation matrix on security arrangements. “The security arrangements committee accomplished its task and they have initialled the agreement. This is a great achievement and this is a clear indication of the ability of the members of the committee and their competence to do the job,” Makuei said. “We wish that the other members of the committees, the other two committees will accomplish their task,” he added.  Radio Tamazuj

Ethiopia’s Ex-Rebel Group Ginbot 7 Returns from Eritrea Base
A famed Ethiopian opposition group, Patriotic Ginbot 7, have officially returned to the country from their base in neighbouring Eritrea. State-run Fana broadcasting corporate reported that the group crossed into Ethiopia via the town of Humera on Saturday. Humera is located in the northern Tigray region that shares a long border with Eritrea. Photos shared by Fana showed ‘ex-fighters’ in trucks waving Ethiopian and Eritrean flags. The group until July 2019 were considered a terrorist organization by the Ethiopian government. Parliament voted to lift that label on the group and others like the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). Africa News

Suicide Car Bombing in Somalia’s Capital Kills at Least 6
At least six people were killed, including two children, after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle outside a district headquarters in Somalia’s capital, authorities said Sunday. Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the bomber tried to speed through a checkpoint but was stopped by security forces, prompting him to detonate the vehicle near the gate of Howlwadag district headquarters. The three soldiers who stopped the truck were killed instantly and the three others killed were civilians, said the Mogadishu mayor’s spokesman, Salah Hassan Omar. Fourteen people, including six children, need intensive care, said the Aamin Ambulance service. Among the wounded was deputy district commissioner Ibrah Hassan Matan. AP

Russia Is the Latest World Power Eyeing the Horn of Africa
Russia is joining the list of nations intent on establishing their foothold in the Red Sea. In a meeting with Eritrean leaders on Friday (Aug. 31), foreign minister Sergey Lavrov announced plans to establish a “logistics center” at a port in the East African nation. Moscow didn’t specify the location or the timetable of the project but said it was aimed at boosting bilateral trade and infrastructural investment between the two nations. The latest declaration underscores Russia’s efforts to renew its ties with African states and boost its cultural, political, and economic influence. Russia is stepping in even as the US retreats from Africa under Trump and China deepens its reach. In March, Lavrov undertook a week-long tour of Africa, visiting Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe. During his visit, he signed agreements to establish economic zones, explore opportunities in accessing minerals including diamonds and platinum, and enhance military and technical cooperation. Quartz

Rwanda Votes in Parliamentary Polls Expected to Strengthen Kagame
Rwandans in the diaspora were the first to vote on Sunday (September 2) in the polls facilitated by the country’s embassies across the world. The poll will be held over three days at 2,500 polling stations across the East African nation. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) expects some 7.1 million Rwandans to elect 53 MPs who will take seats in the lower house. Rwanda’s youth look set to make a strong showing in the country’s fourth such poll since the end of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. A large number of the 512 candidates vying for the 80 seats in the parliament in Kigali are under the age of 25, while 200,000 more are among the registered voters.  Deutsche Welle

Mauritanians Vote in Parliamentary, Local Polls
Mauritanian voters began to cast ballot in the country’s parliamentary and local election on Saturday. Polling stations opened at 07:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) and will close at 07:00 p.m. (0700 GMT). Around 1.4 million Mauritanians are eligible to cast the ballot in Saturday’s polls, which are being held in the absence of international observers. A high voter turnout was reported in a number of polling stations in the capital Nouakchott, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter. On Saturday, some 98 Mauritanian political parties are vying for seats on the country’s 146-member legislative assembly and on numerous municipal councils. Anadolu Agency

After Deadly Raid, Pentagon Weighs Withdrawing Almost All Commandos from Niger
The Pentagon is considering withdrawing nearly all American commandos from Niger in the wake of a deadly October ambush that killed four United States soldiers. Three Defense Department officials said the plans, if approved by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, would also close military outposts in Tunisia, Cameroon, Libya and Kenya, as well as seven of the eight American elite counterterrorism units operating in Africa. The shift in forces is part of the Pentagon’s defense strategy to focus on threats from China and Russia. But they represent a more severe cut of Special Operations forces in Africa than initially expected, leaving a lasting, robust military presence primarily in Somalia and Nigeria. The proposal does not say that any additional troops would return to Africa even as Special Operations units gradually draw down. Officials said that could reverse progress that has been made against Al Qaeda and Islamic State affiliates, while diminishing alliances across Africa as both Russia and China move to increase their influence.  The New York Times

Officials Say at Least 30 African Migrants Drown near Yemen
Yemeni security officials say a boat carrying at least 150 African migrants has capsized off a southern province, killing at least 30 people including five women and children. The officials said Tuesday the boat capsized on Sunday off the coast of Shabwa province. They say most of the passengers were Somali migrants. The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen’s ongoing conflict. Migrants try to make their way to oil-rich Gulf countries. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.  AP

Sharp Rise in Proportion of Migrants Dying in Mediterranean, Says UN
Fewer people are making the journey across the Mediterranean to Europe, but the proportion of those losing their lives while trying has risen sharply, the UN refugee agency has said in its latest report. The UNHCR said 1,095 people died on the central Mediterranean route, mainly from Libya to Italy, between January and July this year, amounting to one death for every 18 arrivals. This compares with 2,276 last year, or one death for every 42 arrivals. In June, the proportion hit one death for every seven arrivals, the agency said, adding that there had been 10 incidents so far this year in which 50 or more people died, most of them after leaving Libya and seven of them since June. “The reason the traffic has become more deadly is that the traffickers are taking more risk, because there is more surveillance exercised by the Libyan coastguards,” said Vincent Cochetel, the UNHCR’s special envoy for the central Mediterranean.  The Guardian

Uganda: ‘No Body Part Was Spared’: Bobi Wine Recounts ‘Torture’
Robert Kyagulanyi, a Ugandan pop star-turned-opposition politician, has alleged that security officers beat him up and squeezed his genitals until he passed out while in detention, in his first public statement since his arrest last month. Kyagulanyi, whose stage name is Bobi Wine, was held on August 14 and charged with treason over his alleged role in the stoning of President Yoweri Museveni’s car during a by-election campaign. The 36-year-old, whose case has drawn international attention, was released on bail nearly two weeks later. But Kyagulanyi was rearrested last week while trying to leave the country to seek medical treatment in the United States. He was subsequently allowed to depart. Ugandan authorities have rejected the accusations of torture but said they will investigate them.  Al Jazeera

Congo’s Top Court Excludes Opposition Leader Bemba from Presidential Election
Democratic Republic of Congo’s top court said on Monday it had definitively excluded opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba from December’s presidential election because of a witness tampering conviction at the International Criminal Court. Bemba, a former vice president and warlord, finished second to President Joseph Kabila in a 2006 election that sparked deadly clashes between Bemba’s supporters and state troops in the streets of the capital Kinshasa.  Reuters

Pro-Democracy Activists Arrested in DR Congo
More than 30 pro-democracy activists have been arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo after holding a protest against the planned use of controversial new voting machines in the presidential election, which is due in December. The activists from the organisation, Lucha, were also calling for a review of voters’ lists. The Congolese police said they had released some of the demonstrators. There are also reports of arrests at similar protests in the cities of Goma, Lubumbashi and in Kasai Province. Correspondents say there is increased tension in the country, especially after the authorities barred two prominent opposition politicians from running. A prominent leader of Lucha, Luc Nkulula, died in a mysterious fire in June. BBC

Former SA Spy Chiefs Warned Zuma of Gupta Family Links
Two former South African spy chiefs say nine years ago the CIA had flagged the danger posed by former President Jacob Zuma’s improperly close relationship with the Guptas, a wealthy Indian family. Both men were sacked by Zuma in 2011 for following up on this tip off from their US counterparts. Mo Shaik, who headed the South African Security Service which deals with foreign intelligence threats, had close ties the CIA. In 2011 he was asked by the US agency why the Guptas had bought a uranium mine and where they planned to sell this strategic mineral. The commission probing “state capture” heard last week that the Guptas planned to become the sole supplier of uranium to the South African government for the nuclear power station they were pressing it to buy.  RFI

Ebola Attacked Congo Again. but Now Congo Seems to Be Winning
The month-old Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which emerged unexpectedly in a dangerous region and quickly soared to over 100 cases, now appears to be fading. Only a handful of new cases appear each week, and the region’s two treatment centers, full until recently, now have fewer than 30 patients in their 78 beds. More than 3,500 contacts of known cases are being followed, more than 4,000 doses of vaccine have been given and officials feel hopeful enough to allow schools in the area — North Kivu Province, on the eastern border with Uganda — to open as usual on Monday. However, it is far too early to relax, health experts warned. “We cannot say the outbreak is under control yet,” said Dr. Oly Ilunga, the country’s health minister, echoing a warning from Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization. The New York Times

Nearly 90 Elephants Found Dead near Botswana Sanctuary, Killed by Poachers
The carcasses of 87 elephants have been discovered near a Botswana protected sanctuary, killed and stripped for their tusks. The elephants were discovered by Elephants Without Borders, a conservation nonprofit. The organization said they “discovered the alarming rate while flying the Botswana government aerial [elephant] census.” “I’m shocked, I’m completely astounded,” Mike Chase of Elephants Without Borders told the BBC. “The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I’ve seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date.” Many of the elephants were killed within the last few weeks and three white rhinos in the same area were poached and killed within the last three months, according to an Elephant Poaching Incident Report Reference written by Chase and obtained by NPR. “All carcasses [were] presumed to be poached, because all of them had their skulls chopped to remove their tusks,” writes Chase. “Poachers tried to hide their crimes by concealing the mounds of rotting flesh with drying bushes.”  NPR



Photo: Adam Jones