Leader Development & Education for Sustained Peace Program: Cross-Cultural, Geopolitical & Regional Education

LDESP AFRICOM News Update – September 2012


Note: This update is a summary of various news articles from open sources relating to African countries threatened by political instability or civil unrest, impending humanitarian crisis, emerging security threats and terrorist activities, energy security activities and economic and/or security cooperation efforts. Please click on the links below to access the complete article from the internet. External links may expire at any time depending on the archiving policy of the particular news agency. News summaries given below highlight only the portion of each article that is relevant and may not necessarily be the focus of the entire article or the headline. Please note that the update includes articles, which use the British English spelling. Articles are taken from diverse regional, American and European media sources, reflecting a range of political views/biases, and are intended to provide readers with a better understanding of various interests and perspectives regarding the situation in the region. Opinions expressed in the articles/commentaries do not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense, the US Navy, or the LDESP Staff.


AFRICOM, Mauritania Discuss Mali Intervention

U.S. Africa command head Gen. Carter Ham met with Mauritania’s president and an official says the two are discussing a possible military intervention, likely West African-led, in north Mali against al-Qaida-linked group members and their allies. Tuareg rebels helped overtake Mali’s north earlier this year after a coup in Mali’s capital. Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Islamist allies later took over the territory. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. No further details were available. (Navy Times)

No AFRICOM Base in African – Gen. Ham

The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) has assured African participants at the just-ended symposium held in Garmisch, Germany that it has no immediate plans to establish its headquarters in Ghana or in any other country on the African continent. General Cater Ham, US AFRICOM Commander, addressing participants at the symposium, noted that the sitting of AFRICOM in Stuttgart, Germany had not posed any problem to the U.S and added that the relocation of its headquarters would come with some financial cost. He said the Command intends to enhance regional cooperation among armies of various countries on the African continent. His comment is perhaps expected to put to rest speculations that the U.S army was planning to establish a base in Africa. The US AFRICOM Commander revealed that the Command has massive presence in Djibouti and added that a large military engagement was not needed in Africa. He was hopeful his statement would reassure some African countries that the U.S was not planning to takeover the African continent militarily. Explaining further, he said there had been a lot of discussions on issues regarding AFRICOM’s headquarters. He disclosed that some African countries were prepared to discuss the hosting of the Command’s base while others had rejected the establishment of an African base. (Daily Guide)

African Union

African Union Assault on Islamist Stronghold in Somalia

Hundreds of soldiers poured onto the beaches north of Kismayo on 27 September and reached the city’s outskirts before al-Shabaab could mount a defence. Fighting continued throughout the day, with Kenya’s ground troops supported by attack helicopters from its air force and missiles launched from its Navy’s warships patrolling just offshore. Other allied forces from the African Union coalition in Somalia, known as Amisom, were travelling south to reinforce the Kenyans once they took the city, according to reports. Al-Shabaab denied that it had lost control of Kismayo, the only significant urban territory it still holds, and from which it earns the majority of its money to pay for weapons and fighters. It was widely expected that its fighters would remain for at most a day or two to hold back the advancing Kenyans, but that they would eventually pull out. (…) Nonetheless, forcing al-Qaeda’s most significant African ally out of all the major towns and cities it once controlled, and in only a little over a year, was a significant success for the African Union, one Western diplomat in Nairobi said. (Telegraph)

African Union Troops from Regional Armies Start Hunt for Warlord Kony, Taking Over From Uganda

A military official says Ugandan troops tracking infamous rebel leader Joseph Kony have handed over command of the operation to African Union troops from Uganda, South Sudan and the Central African Republic. The ceremony took place on 18 September in the South Sudanese town of Nzara, said Ugandan Maj. Alex Ahabyona, an intelligence officer for the Kony operation. The AU force, which was announced early 2012, had failed to start earlier because of lack of equipment and troops. It remains unclear how many of the proposed 5,000 troops have been amassed, although the handover ceremony suggests they have enough to start with. The force will be led by Ugandan Col. Dick Olum. Some 100 U.S. troops are helping regional governments to eliminate Kony and his murderous Lord’s Resistance Army. (The Washington Post, Associate Press)

United Nations

U.N. Investigator Urges Morocco to End Police Torture

The United Nations’ special reporter said on 22 September that torture against people suspected of national security crimes in Morocco was systematic and urged the country to quickly end ill treatment in its prisons and police detention centers. At the end of a rare fact-finding mission at the invitation of Moroccan authorities, Juan Mendez told reporters there was also evidence of torture being inflicted on people held in prisons and detention centers in the disputed Western Sahara, which Rabat controls. Treatment “amounting to torture” appears in Morocco during “large demonstrations, a perceived threat to national security or terrorism,” Mendez told a news conference. (…)The U.N. investigator also denounced a rise in “severe beatings, sexual violence and other forms of ill-treatment” on undocumented migrants, many of whom flock from sub-Saharan Africa to Morocco in the hope of moving illegally into Europe. (Reuters)

Ban Sees No Military Solution to DRC Woes

There is no military solution to the crisis simmering in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on 27 September. A rebellion waged by members of the March 23 Movement in eastern DRC has led to about 500,000 people fleeing the region. M23 rebels are accused of committing war crimes in the country’s eastern provinces. Ban told leaders from DRC, Rwanda and the African Union that there is no military solution to the conflict. “We must consider concrete options to bring about a peaceful resolution that is based on enhanced dialogue, deepening integration, and regional confidence-building,” he said in a statement. “The regional and sub-regional actors most affected are in the best position to help respond to it.” (UPI)

Liberia Says Lacks Cash Not Will to Fight Blood Diamonds

Liberia has challenged a United Nations report that questioned its commitment to stamp out the trade in blood diamonds, saying it lacked the means not the will to clean up its role in the industry. A report to the U.N. Security Council in early September said the West African state, whose wars between 1989 and 2003 were partly fuelled by fighting over diamonds, had shown limited commitment to international efforts to regulate the trade, known as the Kimberley Process. (…) But the U.N. report said that government bodies due to oversee the Kimberly Process were meeting infrequently and said the United States had said it might stop funding a programme to help the Liberian government improve compliance, partly due to Liberia’s lack of commitment to the scheme. (Reuters)

Mali’s Humanitarian Crisis May Worsen If Intervention Calls Heeded, UN Warned

Western and African political leaders have issued a forceful call for a military intervention in Mali, a country struggling with severe food shortages, drought and conflict. Meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in New York on 26 September, several leaders stressed that parts of Mali under rebel control following a coup in early 2012 are serving as a haven for terrorists and must be brought under control. Aid officials warn, however, that an armed intervention in Mali could exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the region. (…) Since late 2011, humanitarian officials have been warning of food shortages in the Sahel, a region of Africa that stretches from Senegal and Mauritania along the Atlantic coast through to Chad and Sudan further east. The situation has been caused largely by erratic rainfall and drought. (Guardian)

More Than 10,000 Somalis Flee Kismayo as Troops close in on Rebel Stronghold

Thousands of civilians are fleeing one of the final strongholds of an al Qaeda-linked militant group in Somalia, according to the U.N. refugee agency. (…)The agency said that Somalis were leaving in minibuses, in trucks and on donkey carts. Kismayo, a port city south of the capital of Mogadishu, is a key potential battleground between African Union forces and Al-Shabaab, a group that has long tried to overthrow the Somali government but has been increasingly beleaguered. (…)Military analysts believe, however, that Al-Shabaab is militarily cornered. After losing control of much of Mogadishu in 2011, Kismayo became even more critical to the militant group. Al-Shabaab uses the port to garner much needed tax revenue from the illegal charcoal trade and smuggling operations. (CNN)

European Union

EU Partially Freezes Aid to Rwanda

Rwanda’s biggest aid donor, the European Union, has partially frozen its financial support to the east African nation, dealing what may be the heaviest blow yet to President Paul Kagame. The move follows decisions by the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden to suspend donor support over allegations that the Rwandan military is supporting a murderous rebellion in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. Britain’s position has been more ambiguous: after initially freezing £16m of general budget support to the country in July, it unblocked half that amount in early September, a partial U-turn that provoked criticism. The EU’s decision now leaves Britain isolated. (…) The EU said it would press on with existing aid projects aimed at Rwanda’s poor, but direct budgetary support of up to €70m (£56m) over six years has effectively been suspended. Overall EU aid to the country is €380m from 2008 to 2013. (…) When the controversial decision was made, Britain claimed that Rwanda deserved credit for engaging constructively in peace talks. (Guardian)

EU Mulls Mali Support Request

A senior EU Foreign Affairs official says the 27-nation bloc is considering requests to support West African-led military intervention in Mali and to restructure the country’s beleaguered army. European External Action Service Deputy Secretary-General Maciej Popowski says the EU is studying a request to back a proposed troop deployment by the Economic Community of West African States to root out Al-Qaida -linked Islamists who overran northern Mali after a March coup.  Separately, Mali’s interim government has asked for support for restructuring the country’s military.  Popowski said the EU is “ready to play an active role in coordinating an international effort” and would work with the U.N. and other international organizations on the issue. (IOL News, Associated Press)

EU Falls Short on Africa Water Projects – Auditor

More than half of the European Union’s projects to provide safe drinking water in sub-Saharan Africa failed to deliver, the EU’s audit watchdog said in a report on 28 September. The report by the European Court of Auditors examined 23 projects co-funded by the EU in six African countries between 2001 and 2010. The audit found that the projects, at a total cost of 400 million euros ($514 million), often lacked sufficient supervision and that checks were not always carried out to ensure that water was fit for human consumption. The authors said that while equipment was usually installed properly, local communities did not receive enough support to manage the projects long term. (…)The EU spent 1.01 billion euros ($1.3 billion) on water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa from 2001 to 2010, but the World Bank and the United Nations say that between $8 billion and $11.8 billion would be required each year until 2015 to reach the millennium goal on water and sanitation. (Reuters)

South Africa, European Union Lock Horns

European Union officials and business leaders are “disappointed” and “very concerned” about South Africa’s decision to cancel investment protection agreements with the EU, the source of more than 80% of foreign direct investment in South Africa. In mid-September, South Africa terminated an investment treaty with Belgium and Luxembourg when it expired. In total, South Africa has 13 agreements with EU member states, which will all be cancelled as they come up for renewal. Existing investments will enjoy the same protection for a sunset period of 10 years, but new investments will not be covered by the agreements, which guarantee compensation should expropriation or damage be suffered by investors. (…)European business leaders attending the summit expressed concern over the delays in South Africa’s renewable energy bid process, the lack of a trade agreement covering services and the lack of co-ordination between government departments, which hampers infrastructure roll-out programmes. (BD Live, Business Times)



As Libya Presses Some Militias to Disband, Fighters Attack a Hotel in Tripoli

Libyan militia fighters assaulted a hotel in Tripoli housing members of the newly elected General National Congress on 25 September, dramatizing the challenge the government faces in enforcing its ultimatum that all unauthorized brigades must submit to its authority or disband (…)Some militia leaders in Benghazi said that the new government led by President Mohamed al-Magariaf was trying to appoint its own officers over, or at least along with, the commanders of the three biggest brigades in the country’s eastern region. Since Colonel Qaddafi’s ouster, the brigades have acted as the government’s main military and police force in the region, and two of them battled the fighters who attacked the United States Mission.

Libya’s Army Evicts Unauthorized Militias

A newly formed unit of the Libyan Army has carried out nonviolent raids on rogue militia positions in and around Tripoli as part of a government ultimatum issued on 22 September. Armed groups must either align themselves with the country’s military or disperse, a government spokesman said. The “National Mobile Force” is evicting militias after handing them a deadline to withdraw from military compounds, public buildings and property belonging to members of the former regime, according to prime minister spokesman Mohammed Al-Akkari. (…) Two hardline Islamist armed groups have conceded to disperse, including Ansar al Sharia. Some members of the group have been detained for an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on 11 September, when U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed. Militias and other unauthorized armed groups have been a growing concern in post-revolution Libya. Militia members across Libya remain loyal to their groups and distrust the new government’s authority. (CNN)

Libya Islamists Arrest Opponents, Accept Army Control

Libyan Islamist militias announced a mass round-up of opponents they accused of instigating violence as one of their commanders said they’d accept the appointment of an army officer to run the group. (…) The militia detentions, along with popular protests and efforts by Abushagur to rein-in the armed groups, underscore the fragile state of Libyan politics. Abushagur, named premier by the newly-elected parliament in September, has yet to appoint a Cabinet, while the old administration under Prime Minister Abdurahim El Keib is still overseeing much of the day-to-day business of government. (Bloomberg)

Libyan Protesters Evict Militiamen from Compound

Hundreds of protesters stormed the compound of one of Libya’s strongest armed Islamic extremist groups in Benghazi on 21 September, in the wake of the assault that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. The armed men at the base for the Ansar al-Sharia militia fired into the air to disperse the surging crowd, but eventually withdrew from the site with their weapons and vehicles after it was surrounded by waves of protesters shouting “No to militias.” (…)Earlier the same day, tens of thousands of Libyans marched through Benghazi to demand the disbanding of the powerful armed gangs. The anti-militia demonstrators demanded that the militias disband and that the government build up the police and military to take their place in providing security. (Voice of America)

Libyan leader says 50 arrested in U.S. consulate attack

The head of Libya’s national congress said on 16 September about 50 people had been arrested in connection with a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on 11 September, although the interior minister put the figure far lower. The attacks on 11 September in Benghazi coincided with protests over a video made in the United States that denigrates the Prophet Mohammad. It resulted in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Libyan assembly head Mohammed Magarief was asked by the “Face the Nation” program on the U.S. television network CBS how many people had been arrested in connection with the assault, and replied: “About 50.” But Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel A’al, when asked about that figure, told Reuters in Tripoli that only four arrests had been made and around 50 people were “wanted for investigation”. (…) Magarief said some of those arrested were not Libyans and were linked to al Qaeda. (Reuters)


Tunisia Rape Victim Accused of ‘Indecency’

Tunisian civil society is rallying in support of a young woman who was raped by police officers in what they say is part of a broader assault on women’s rights by religious conservatives. (…) Leading human rights, feminist groups and other prominent members of civil society have formed a committee on 27 September to co-ordinate a campaign in support of the woman, including the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women and the Tunisian League of Human Rights. (…) There are also calls for a nationwide “Women’s strike” in the public sector on 02 October. (…) The outrage is not only directed at the ruling coalition. The interior ministry is seen by many Tunisians as a relic of Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali’s oppressive rule and many bureaucrats from the old regime have managed to hold on to influential posts. (…) Activists see the case as an important one because of the symbolism in the wider cultural battles between those who want Tunisia to maintain its position as one of the most progressive countries in the Arab world, and religious conservatives. (Al Jazeera)

Tunisia Arrests Senior Salafist over US Embassy Attack

A senior member of Tunisian hardline Salafist group Ansar al-Sharia has been arrested in connection with the attack on the US embassy in Tunis early September, the interior ministry said on 24 September. “Hassen Brik, who is the subject of a police inquiry, was arrested on 23 September in the connection with the investigation,” ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche told AFP. Supporters of the extremist group’s leader Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, who is also wanted by the police, said on their Facebook page that the preacher “Hassen Brik was arrested in the El-Khadra district of Tunis on the pretext of checking his identity.” His arrest adds to the 96 protesters held following the attack on the American embassy in Tunis on 14 September, which left four people dead and dozens wounded. Since then, the police have been searching for Salafist leaders, including Ibn Hussein who is also known as Abu Iyadh and who has managed to escape arrest several times since the deadly violence in which he has been implicated. The ruling Islamist party Ennahda has been strongly criticised for failing to clamp down on Tunisia’s Muslim extremists, who have carried out numerous acts of violence since 2011’s revolution that ousted former strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. (Ahram)

Tunisia Protests: Two Dead as Protesters Attack U.S. Embassy

At least two people were killed and 29 others were wounded on 14 September when police fought hundreds of protesters who ransacked the U.S. embassy in Tunisia in their fury over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad, state television said. Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki condemned what he called “an attack against the embassy of a friendly nation.” Tunisia expects Washington to guarantee around a fifth of the $2.2-2.5 billion its needs to borrow in 2013 to help its economy recover after its revolution overthrew its veteran leader and triggered the Arab Spring uprisings. (…)The protesters, many of whom were Islamic Salafists, also set fire to the nearby American School, which was closed at the time, and took away laptops and tablet computers. The protests began after Friday prayers and followed a rallying call on Facebook by Islamist activists that were quickly endorsed by the local faction of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia. (Huffington Post)


Algeria Thwarts Arms Smuggling Across Libya Border

Algerian security forces are struggling to cope with arms smuggling gangs that have stepped up their operations along the southern border, prompting the Algerian army to intensify its presence across some rugged border crossings currently exploited by smugglers. Forces from the People’s National Army in the border area adjacent to Libya recently succeeded in confiscating 32 weapons and 14,000 rounds of ammunition in one operation near Karat Alain, south of Djanet in the province of Illizi. The 12 September operation was part of a search along the desert border frequently used by smugglers and terrorists seeking to transfer weapons. (…) Intelligence services, in investigations carried out during in August, uncovered a plan by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb for a large operation of smuggling weapons obtained from Libya to be transferred to the Algerian desert, passing through the desert of Mali and Niger. The operation was supposed to pass the guns through smugglers who would then bury the weapons in marked locations in the desert for later use by terrorists against security the Algerian government in the south. (Eurasia Review)

Algeria Tightens Security in South after New Kidnapping Warning

Security forces in southern Algeria have warned of possible new abductions targeting foreigners or government officials. This warning came immediately following the announcement of the killing of Algerian Vice-Consul Taher Touati in Gao in northern Mali. (…) Security forces are concerned that terrorist operations, such as the abductions of foreigners and administrative officials, could take place in the far southern provinces and be used as bargaining chips in Algeria. A security source has revealed that the Algerian security agencies and army received an official memo ordering the tightening of surveillance in southern cities and inspection measures on roads, especially in the provinces located in the far south. The memo also urged extreme caution during the movement of official convoys. New security reports have estimated the presence of at least 146 dangerous terrorists of Algerian origin within the so-called Desert Brigades, which are affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO). The Desert Brigades are the main force that helped the Islamist Ansar al-Din Movement lead military operations against the regular forces of the Malian army. (Al Monitor)

Rebels Claim to Have Killed Algerian Diplomat

Members of a radical Islamic group in northern Mali are claiming to have executed one of the Algerian diplomats they kidnapped in early 2012, when their fighters raided the Algerian consulate in the city of Gao. The information could not be independently verified, and the Algerian Foreign Affairs Ministry said they are investigating the rebels’ claim. Islamist leader Oumar Ould Hamaha told The Associated Press by telephone that the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (known by the French acronym MUJAO), had executed the diplomat in order to teach Algeria a lesson. The group had demanded that Algeria, Mali’s northern neighbor, release the members of their group who had recently been arrested. (Boston News)

Al-Qaida accuses France of endangering hostages

The North African branch of al-Qaida said on 26 September that France has broken off negotiations over the French hostages it has held over the past two years, endangering their lives. Al-Qaida kidnapped four French employees of the Areva nuclear energy corporation from the northern Niger town of Arlit in September 2010. (…)The statement added that al-Qaida was always ready to negotiate, while criticizing French President Francois Hollande for exacerbating the situation by calling for an invasion of Mali, where the northern half has been conquered by Islamist extremists and the hostages are believed to be held. (Bradenton Herald)


US Officially Supports Morocco’s Western Sahara Autonomy Plan

For the first time in the history the Western Sahara conflict, a United State Secretary of State indicates in unequivocal terms the United State support of the Moroccan official position. During a meeting with her Moroccan counterpart, who is in a visit to Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton restated the United States support for the Morocco’s “Autonomy Plan for the Sahara”. In qualifying the Moroccan Plan as “serious, realistic and credible”, Mrs. Clinton has laid out Washington position on this long simmering territorial dispute. Algeria, without a doubt, unhappy with the U.S. explicit support of the Moroccan position, has not commented on this important development. (Morocco Tomorrow)

Morocco Makes Rare Move on Soft Wheat Subsidies

Cash-strapped Morocco on 27 September announced a rare cut in a subsidy it pays millers for imported soft wheat in a new sign authorities are discreetly testing the waters as they gradually reform a costly subsidy system. The move may pit industry operators and authorities on whether the 15 percent reduction in the subsidy would mean raising the price of bread, a sensitive issue in the North African country, where protests over unemployment and poverty are common. It may also cool local industry operators appetite for imports, after authorities announced the suspension of custom duties on soft wheat imports during the fourth quarter to ensure regular supplies to the domestic market. Instead of 100 percent, the government will pay 85 percent of any excess between its reference 2,600 dirhams ($300) price for soft wheat and the price of soft wheat imported between Oct 1 and end-December, state grains authority ONICL said in a circular published on its website. Morocco’s fiscal and current account deficits surged in 2011 to their highest levels in many years and analysts are worried about Rabat’s ability to quickly reverse the trend. (Alert Net)

Morocco Bus Crash Leaves 42 People Dead

A bus plunged into a ravine in the Atlas Mountains of southern Morocco on 04 September killing at least 42 people, a security official said, in the worst such accident recorded in the kingdom. All the victims were Moroccan, a local official said. “But we are still in the process of identifying the bodies, as well as the injured,” he added. The accident took place at around 2:00am (0100 GMT) when the vehicle fell off a main road in Haouz province, around 60 miles south of Marrakesh, one of Morocco’s top tourist destinations. The crash also left some 25 people injured, who were taken to different hospitals in the region, according to a local official. The official MAP news agency, which said the bus fell 165 yards, gave the same death toll of 42, saying that five of the victims died in hospital, and that 24 people were injured in the crash, four of them critically. The cause of the accident was not immediately clear. (Telegraph)



Somalia Offers New Deal to Al Shabaab Rebels

Somalia has promised to find civilian jobs and training for rebels from the radical Islamist group Al Shabaab if they abandon their part in a six year old insurgency. The new deal comes after around 250 fighters from the Al-Qaeda linked group surrendered to pro-government forces in late September. Interior minister Abdisamed Mohamed Hassan appealed to the estimated 6,000 militants occupying areas in the south of the country to give themselves up. “If the Shabaab come back, we’ll not just send them to the streets. We will divide them into few groups. If they come voluntarily, they’re going to be part of the factories and we will take care of them. We try to improve their skills and we will try to protect them. If they come as fighters, then we pass to the Justice Department and they will go to jail,” he said. In another significant blow to the rebels, a closely aligned insurgent group Hezbul Islam has announced an end to its alliance with Al Shabaab. Leaders cited ideological differences. (Euro News)

Al-Shabab Threatens to Eliminate Somali MPs ‘one by one’

Somalia’s Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabab threatened to kill Somalia’s all the new lawmakers, saying that an MP killed at Mogadishu in mid-September was just the first to be targeted. “The successful elimination of Mustafa Haji Mohamed was the action of the mujahideen who are committed to killing all MPs,” according to a Al-Shabab official, who said, the group would kill all other lawmakers “one-by-one”. (…)Mustafa Haji, the father-in-law of former president Sharif, was gunned down on 22 September after leaving a mosque in Mogadishu, the first lawmaker to be targeted since the new assembly came into being. (…)On 20 September, Al-Shabab supporters launched a double suicide attack on an upmarket restaurant in the capital opened by Somalis from the diasporas, killing 18 people, including three journalists. (Arab News)

Somalia’s Shabaab Urge Attacks on West Over Anti-Islam Film

The Shabaab mujahideen are urging people of Somalia to show their love for Islam and particularly to our Prophet Mohammed by making attacks against the West,” Shabaab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage told AFP by telephone, without specifying any targets. (Times Live, AFP)

Somalia’s New President Survives Attack by 2 Suicide Bombers at His Hotel

Somalia’s new president survived an assassination attempt on his second day in office, 12 September, when two suicide bombers blew themselves up while trying to gain access into a heavily guarded hotel that is his temporary residence, officials and witnesses said. The attack highlights the challenge that insecurity caused by an Islamist insurgency poses to Somalia’s fledgling government, which is expected to help transform the east African country from being a failed state to one with functioning government. (Washington Post)


Kenyan Muslims Fear the Worst over Proposals to Boost Police Powers

Muslim leaders in Kenya fear a new anti-terrorism bill will give more powers to a widely distrusted police force that is suspected of involvement in the disappearances of several Muslims with alleged links to Somalia’s al-Shabaab militant group. The disappearances, and the killing of radical Muslim cleric Aboud Rogo in Mombasa in August, have enraged Kenya’s Muslims, who make up about 11% of the population, with the majority living along the Indian Ocean coast. After Rogo was gunned down by unidentified assailants, Muslims in the Indian Ocean city torched churches, looted shops and hurled grenades at police. Three officers were killed. Activists and community leaders warned that the anger, exacerbated on the coast by poverty, unemployment and perceived neglect by authorities, could erupt again if manipulated, either by politicians or foreign extremists. As Kenya prepares for its first elections since about 1,200 people were killed after a disputed poll in 2007, rising anger among Muslims is just one piece in a complex mosaic of ethnic, economic, and political pressures in east Africa’s largest economy. (The Guardian)

Kenya’s Navy Shells Kismayo in Somalia

The Kenyan navy has shelled Kismayo, the main Somali city controlled by militant Islamist group al-Shabab, a military spokesman has said. Colonel Cyrus Oguna said the attack was part of a push by an African Union (AU) force to capture the city. Residents told the BBC that al-Shabab was reinforcing its positions in the city and people had started to flee. AU forces have vowed to capture Kismayo – a port city that is key to financing and arming the al-Qaeda affiliate. The move on Kismayo comes as Somali MPs prepare to choose a new president under a UN-brokered peace plan. (…)In August, al-Shabab lost control of Merca, the third biggest port city after Mogadishu and Kismayo, to AU and pro-Somali government forces. (BBC)

Kenya Riots Expose Deep Rifts

The assassination of a Muslim cleric in Mombasa, Kenya, and ensuing deadly riots have exposed deep social, political and sectarian divides that could unleash more violence ahead of 2013’s presidential poll. Gunmen sprayed bullets into the car of Aboud Rogo on 03 September, killing him. Both Kenya and the U S had accused him of helping al-Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in Somalia. Rogo’s supporters fought running street battles with the security forces shortly after his death, and sporadic violence continued in the days that followed. Churches were torched and two grenades were tossed at police vans. At least five people have been killed. The government blamed the violence on Kenya’s ”enemies” and Muslim radicals for supporting al-Shabab, the Islamists that Kenya’s military has been battling since invading Somalia in 2011. Muslims, who dominate many neighbourhoods of Kenya’s second-largest city, have blamed the authorities for the cleric’s killing, saying it was part of a campaign against their faith. (Times Live)

Kenya Red Cross: 38 People Killed in Kenya Clashes

Clashes between farmers and herders in southeastern Kenya escalated on 10 September with 38 people killed, including nine police officers, and a government official and the Kenya Red Cross suggested the military should be deployed to the area. The tit-for-tat cycle of killings may be related to a redrawing of political boundaries and next year’s general elections, the U.N. Humanitarian coordinator for Kenya, Aeneas C. Chuma, said in August. However, on the surface the violence seems driven by competition for water, pasture and other resources, he said. Political tensions and tribal animosities have increased due to competition among potential candidates in the March election. At least 100 people have died in the clashes, which started in August. (Boston News, Associated Press)

Kenya Curfew Fails to Stem Clashes

Clashes between two tribal communities in Kenya’s restive Tana River area erupted again on 11 September despite a dusk-to-dawn curfew, leaving four people dead, in violence that has driven out residents and brought renewed scrutiny of the country’s security situation. The bloodshed came as Prime Minister Raila Odinga promised “decisive action” to return calm to the region. He criticized local law enforcement for failing to stop the clashes in Tana, the worst ethnic conflict in the country since the postelection violence in 2008. (…) Much of the fighting has taken place around the towns and villages of the Tana Delta area, about 500 miles southeast of Nairobi. The broader coastal region is also on edge after the recent killing of a radical Muslim cleric sparked riots in the nearby port city of Mombasa, the country’s second-largest city after the capital.(The Wall Street Journal, Africa News)


New Ethiopian PM Backer of Dominant Party Rule

Hailemariam Desalegn is Ethiopia’s second leader since the EPRDF came to power in 1991.  At 47, he is considered part of a new breed not associated with the guerrilla war that ousted the pro-Soviet military dictatorship led by Mengistu Hailemariam. (…)Sitting in his spacious office at EPRDF headquarters next door to parliament, Hailemariam expressed annoyance at western portrayals of Ethiopia as a one-party state.  He noted that in a diverse nation made up of many ethnic and language groups, even the ruling front is made up of several parties. (…) He rejected opposition complaints about being shut out of the political process and defended the EPRDF’s long tenure, calling it the will of the Ethiopian people. (…) Hailemariam is expected to remain in office at least until 2015, when Ethiopia’s next national election is scheduled. (Voice of America)


Uganda: Country Discovers More Oil

After confirming the discovery of 2.5 billion barrels of oil in 2006, Uganda has said it has discovered another 1 billion barrels of oil from at least three new oil wells in on 25 September. This, according to Mr. Ernest Rubondo, the commissioner Petroleum Exploration and Production, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has increased Uganda’s oil capacity to 3.5 billion barrels of oil as of September 2012. The discovery of more oil deposits is a clear indication that the country can go ahead with the planned construction of an oil refinery in Hoima, Western Uganda. “From just three wells we have increased our oil barrels capacity to 3.5 billion,” said Rubondo. (…)With the increasing discoveries, it’s clear the refinery project will be viable. (All Africa)

Uganda Threatens Ban on Kenyan Imports

Ugandan importers using Mombasa port have threatened to take legal action against Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) over a directive that they deposit a cash bond equivalent to the value of imported cargo or bank guarantee before clearing their goods. In mid-September, KRA directed that all transit sugar and motor vehicle imports, whose capacity exceeds 2000cc, must pay a cash bond equivalent to the value of imported cargo or bank guarantee before leaving the port of Mombasa. However, in a letter dated 17 September, 2012, Uganda’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives protested to Kenya’s ministries of Trade and Industry threatening retaliatory measures against Kenyan imports to Uganda if the cash bond is not withdrawn. (New Vision)

In Uganda, Mixed Reactions to Africa’s Youngest MP

The Ugandan parliament swore in the youngest MP in African history, 19-year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait. Proscovia Alengot Oromait, a 19-year-old from eastern Uganda, took her oath of office on 20 September as Africa’s youngest-ever Member of Parliament. Having won a local bi-election in early September, Oromait will be filling the seat of her late father, a legislator who died in July. But the difference is that while her father was an independent, Oromait belongs to Uganda’s ruling party, the National Resistance Movement or NRM. The election is historic, leading some local media to speculate that politics could be changing in a country where around 50 percent of the population is below the age of 15. (Voice of America)


Sudanese Leaders Sign Oil and Trade Deals

The leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have agreed deals on trade, oil and security, easing tensions that brought them to the brink of war in April. Omar al-Bashir and Southern counterpart Salva Kiir signed the accords after days of talks in Ethiopia’s capital. They agreed to set up a demilitarised buffer zone, and concluded other deals that may allow oil sales to resume. But the sides have not thrashed out border issues including the flashpoint region of Abyei that they both claim. (…) Mr Kiir said the agreements signed on 27 September brought to an end the long conflict and hailed a “great day in the history of the region”. Mr Bashir described his Southern counterpart as a “partner in peace” and hinted that there would be talks to open the border. But the two sides failed to agree on Abyei, which lies on their border and is inhabited by both nomadic herdsmen who are loyal to Sudan and other tribes who are closely linked to the South. And few details have been released about the agreement the two sides made regarding oil. African Union official Barney Afako told reporters only that the deal would start oil flowing again and boost their economies. (BBC)

Sudan Refugees Flee Intensified Bombing Runs

Newly arrived refugees at a camp along the volatile South Sudan-Sudan border say renewed fighting between rebels and Sudan’s military is likely to send thousands more people to an expanding camp here filled with refugees of war and hunger. (…)As the fighting intensified, tens of thousands began streaming into South Sudan. In its efforts to quell the rebels in South Kordofan, Sudan has routinely employed crude bombs rolled from the backs of Antonov warplanes to target the SPLA-North fighters. But the bombs often fall in civilian areas. (Fox News)

South Sudan

South Sudan Shakes Up Oil Sector

South Sudan issued the biggest revision of its oil-exploration rights yet, seizing a giant license area long held by Total SA and slicing it into three as the newly independent nation attempts to hasten crude production and secure much-needed revenue. The move is South Sudan’s latest attempt to remove itself from oil deals signed before its secession from Sudan. It comes amid renewed tensions with its northern neighbor over who should control the oil-rich regions that straddle their border. South Sudan said its decision was prompted in part by Total’s failure to expedite exploration in the block, which it received more than 30 years ago. (…)South Sudan’s oil law passed late-2011 stipulates that it isn’t bound to deals agreed with the Khartoum government. In early 2012, South Sudan renegotiated and signed a new contract with Petrodar, a consortium involving Chinese and Malaysian oil companies. (The Wall Street Journal)

Sudan’s Al-Bashir Opens Large Gold Refinery in Khartoum

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has opened the country’s first gold refinery, which officials say is one of Africa’s largest plants. Analysts say it is part of a strategy by the Khartoum government to deal with the loss of oil revenue following the session of South Sudan in 2011. The Sudan Gold Refinery will produce more than 328 tonnes of gold each year. (…)The country has great mining potential, but overall production figures are hard to verify because unofficial miners account for a large part of the gold industry, the agency says. The new refinery, which will also process silver, is intended to reduce the amount of gold smuggled to other markets, such as Dubai, as producers should receive more money for higher-quality gold (BBC)



Death Toll Rises in Cameroon Flooding, Which has Displaced Thousands

Cameroon authorities have found six more bodies in flood waters, bringing the number killed to as high as 40 in the wake of tropical downpours and the breaching of a dam in the West African country. The inundation in the Far North Region has affected more than 26,000, officials said, and in neighboring Nigeria at least 15 deaths are blamed on waters rushing into the country from Cameroon’s compromised Lagdo Dam on the Benoue River. Cameroon’s Communication Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary has described the flooding as “a calamity” and called for urgent action to save lives and property. Local officials are calling it the worst flood disaster in over 60 years. Water has submerged swaths of the North Region downstream, wiping out homes, farms and livestock, and Cameroon’s government has dispatched a military contingency to assist and evacuate victims. (…)Thousands of children are suffering from respiratory problems brought on by the flooding, and malaria infections among pregnant women are running high, according to Dr Alain Njiki of the UNFPA, which normally offers reproductive health services in Cameroon but has had to double as a medical aid agency since the flooding began. Food supplies are running low, boosting worries about malnutrition, and tent shelters are inadequate for the tens of thousands of displaced flood victims, said Demian Toh from the Red Cross. (CNN)

Democratic Republic of Congo

Another 1,000 Refugees from Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Flee To Uganda

A new wave of fighting between the M23 rebels and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government forces in the eastern DRC has forced another 1,000 people to take refuge in Uganda. The rebels are reported to have overrun Nyamirima, Buganza and Nyakakoma towns in the Rutshuru area after heavy fighting with government forces, forcing people to flee. The refugees, mostly women and children, began crossing into uganda through the Ishasha border post on 14 September. They were temporarily sheltered at Kihiihi Police Station awaiting transportation to the Nyakabande refugee transit centre in Uganda’s Kisoro district. (…)Security authorities in Kanungu have urged the people to stop crossing the border into Congo with immediate effect, saying their security cannot be guaranteed. (Bernama News Agency)

DR Congo M23 Rebels Have ‘De Facto Administration’

Rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have set up a “de facto administration”, the head of the UN’s peacekeeping operations has said. Herve Ladsous said the M23 group – formed of soldiers who mutinied in April – are controlling populations and taking taxes. The UN accuses neighbouring Rwanda of supporting the M23 – an allegation Kigali has repeatedly denied. More than 200,000 people have been displaced in the 2012 unrest. (…)Meanwhile, the Congolese authorities are seeking an embargo on the trade in minerals from Rwanda, Reuters news agency reports. Analysts say most minerals exported from Rwandan are likely to have originated in DR Congo and been mined by rebel groups accused of links to Rwanda. (BBC)

DRC: Army Commander Seeks Solution to Masisi Crisis

Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say they are trying to arrange for the assembly and disarmament of rival ethnic militias implicated in the massacres of hundreds of people in Masisi territory in the eastern province of North Kivu. Congolese army spokesman Lt-Col Olivier Hamuli told IRIN that following a visit to Masisi in September, the commander of the DRC’s land forces, Gen Amisi Tango Fort, called on the militias to ‘regroup’ and disarm. Regrouping refers to the assembly of combatants in specific locations where they can be monitored prior to disarmament. (…) Community leaders in Masisi welcomed Amisi’s visit to the territory, which seems to have raised hopes that the Nyatura, and perhaps the Raïa Mutomboki, could be integrated in the armed forces. (IRIN Global)

DRC: Thousands of Displaced Out of Reach

Weather conditions and continued insecurity are hampering aid agencies’ efforts to reach hundreds of thousands of people displaced by armed conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The onset of the rainy season has made many roads impassable, cutting off large populations from assistance. UN World Food Programme (WFP) officer Laura Parker told IRIN that a convoy of trucks that WFP sent to Walikale territory in North Kivu province in early September took 11 days to cover 250km. (…) UN agencies are also concerned about 129,000 newly identified displaced people who have fled massacres in Masisi territory in. (IRIN Global)


Maersk: Another Oil Discovery Offshore Angola

Maersk Oil, the oil and gas producing division of Danish industrial conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S (MAERSK-B.KO), said on 24 September it has made a new oil discovery at an exploration block offshore Angola. Maersk Oil and partners Sonangol P&P and Odebrecht Oil and Gas Angola Ltd. have struck oil at the Caporolo-1 exploration well in exploration Block 16 in the Lower Congo Basin. A test produced a maximum flow rate of 3,000 barrels of oil a day, said Maersk Oil. (Market Watch)

Angola: Promises Temper Election Victory

Angola’s long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his party, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), have enjoyed another thumping victory at the polls. (…)But with a new mandate comes new responsibility, and while the opposition parties squabble over alleged fraud and irregularities, ordinary Angolans are waiting for campaign promises to be delivered in Africa’s third-largest economy. (…) Many ordinary Angolans seem less concerned about how the electoral process was organised and more focused on what their new government – legitimate or not – will bring. (BBC)

Angola Seeks to Be Africa’s Top Oil Power

Angola is driving to become Africa’s leading oil producer and that’s expected to gain momentum after its president since 1979, the autocratic onetime jungle fighter Jose Eduardo dos Santos, won another five years in office. (…) More than one-third of Angola’s 21 million people live below the poverty line and the disparity between rich and poor is widening, despite the country’s oil wealth and the prospect of that swelling on the back of recent deep-water discoveries offshore that are expected to elevate Angola to Africa’s top oil producer. Right now, with a production level of 1.8 million barrels per day, it trails Nigeria, the continent’s top producer with an output of 2.5 million bpd. (UPI)


Central African Republic

Central African Republic: 3 Towns north of Capital Attacked by New Rebel Group

Three towns north of the capital, Bangui, were attacked in mid-September by a new rebel group. Damara, Sibut and Dekoa, respectively 75, 185 and 260 kilometers (46, 114, and 160 miles) north of the capital were attacked by a group called the Fundamental Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace. The private radio Ndeke Luka broadcast Fundamental CPJP spokesman, Colonel HA, who said the rebels intend to march on Bangui and overthrow President Francois Bozize. A source close to the army said that two soldiers died fighting the rebels at Dekoa. Reached by telephone, Central Defence Minister Jean-Francis Bozizé confirmed the fighting. These attacks are a surprise as the CPJP signed a peace accord in August, but the new Fundamental CPJP group said it remains unsatisfied. (The Washington Post, Associated Press)

Central African Rebels Hit Cameroon Border Post, Three Killed

Three people were killed when Central African Republic rebels attacked a Cameroon border post on 23 September in an attempt to free comrades held in the neighboring country. (…)The attack was the first time rebels from the Central African Republic used deadly force in an incursion into Cameroon, which has managed until now to avoid the conflicts that have engulfed its neighbors in the central African region. Central African Republic is struggling to tame several rebel groups opposed to President Francois Bozize, who came to power in a 2003 coup and has faced low-level insurgencies since 2005. The government in Bangui signed a peace deal with one of the last rebel groups in August. (Reuters)


Tanzania Offers Troops to Help Pacify Eastern Congo, Scene of Violent Rebellion

Tanzania has offered to contribute troops toward a proposed “neutral international force” for eastern Congo, which has been wracked by violence since a group of soldiers staged a mutiny and then engaged Congolese troops in serious battles that displaced thousands of villagers. Tanzania’s offer was announced at the end of a meeting of regional leaders trying to find an amicable solution to a diplomatic crisis in which Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting the M23 rebellion. Officials said the negotiations were sometimes tense, with Congo insisting Uganda and Rwanda cannot contribute to the proposed force. The officials requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. Only Angola, Congo, Tanzania and Kenya will contribute to this force, according to a communiqué released 08 September. It remains unclear when the force will actually be deployed. (Edmonton Journal)

Tanzania Develops Policy to Guide Natural Gas Exploitation

A policy to guide Tanzania on how to develop the natural gas sector will be ready by the end of November 2012, a senior official privy to petroleum development, said on 18 September. Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) director of marketing and investments Joyce Kisamo, told members of the press at her office in Dar es Salaam that the policy was at the draft stage. (…) Tanzania is currently a new hotspot in hydrocarbon exploration, thanks to discoveries of major gas reserves. In June 2012, Tanzania nearly tripled its estimate of recoverable natural gas reserves up to 28.74 trillion cubic feet (tcf). This discovery forced the government to take the initiative to develop the Natural Gas Policy; the Natural Gas Utilisation Master Plan and the Natural Gas Act to guide the country in its endeavour to become a gas economy. (The Citizen)


Malawi Shifts Focus to Nutrition and New Crops to Tackle Food Crisis

A nutrition act and new crops are at the centre of the Malawi government’s latest attempts to overcome the effects of annual food shortages that affect more than 10% of the population. From October, President Joyce Banda’s government says it will give away 60,000 goats to needy families on condition that they pass on the goats’ kids to designated neighbours. The landlocked south-east African country is also drafting a nutrition act that will ban the sale of non-fortified basic foodstuffs. Senior civil servants claim the moves mark a departure from farming policies that simply aimed to fill people up with staple maize in lean times. Food shortages affect 1.6 million people every year, and an estimated 47% of children have stunted growth because of under-nutrition, making them more vulnerable to illness and learning difficulties. Mary Shawa, the principal secretary for gender, said the nutrition act will send a signal that Banda, in power since April, considers food security a high priority. (…) Malawi has a long way to go and a potentially restive population to deal with. In 2011, protesters rioted against the cost of living and the suspension of European aid that had provided 40% of the country’s revenues. (The Guardian)


Zambians Mourn Death of Former First Lady Betty Kaunda

Zambia is mourning the death of Betty Kaunda, wife of the country’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, who died on 19 September in Zimbabwe while visiting her daughter.  The former first lady is viewed as the mother of the nation and the strength of her husband, who played a leading role during Africa’s liberation struggle. Kaunda was 84. (…)Kaunda’s popularity even in death, and nearly 21 years since her husband left power, is symptomatic of the kind of humble life she led. (Voice of America)

Zambia Sells Debut $750 Million Eurobond to Boost Budget

Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producer, is selling its debut $750 million international bond to help fund its budget and invest in infrastructure. (…)Zambia may use proceeds from the sale for investment in infrastructure and general budget support (…) Zambia’s kwacha has gained 2.1 percent against the dollar in 2012, the second-best performer in Africa after Nigeria’s naira. (Bloomberg)


Zimbabwe President: Constitution Changes on Track

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has assured regional leaders that adoption of a new constitution is on track, ahead of proposed elections to end the nation’s fragile coalition government. (…)Mugabe met with South African President Jacob Zuma, the chief regional mediator on Zimbabwe, on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly in New York on 25 September, the Herald newspaper reported. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the former opposition leader, has declared that the talks for constitutional reforms have become deadlocked. (Seattle PI, Associated Press)

Zimbabwe’s President Says He Has Turned to China for Military Defense

Zimbabwe’s president says his country turned to China to beef up its military training capabilities after what he called threats of an invasion from Western countries intending to lead to “regime change.” President Robert Mugabe said on 14 September at the opening of a Chinese-built military training academy north of Harare that “hate-filled tactics” by the West have acted as a “wake-up call” for the country to strengthen its defense. Zimbabwe received a $98 million loan from China to build the sprawling complex. China wants the loan repaid over 13 years from diamonds being mined by Chinese companies in eastern Zimbabwe. Mugabe said the new National Defence College will act as a “think tank” on security matters under threat from Western enemies whose “adventurism went to the extent of seeking a military invasion of Zimbabwe.” (The Washington Post, Associated Press)


Swaziland Jails South African over Botched Bomb for King

High Court Judge Bheki Maphalala found Amos Mbedzi guilty of planning to plant the bomb at a bridge of the Lozitha Royal Palace in the commercial hub Manzini in 2008. The bomb was intended for Africa’s last absolute monarch, who was due to use the bridge the same night, but the bomb exploded prematurely in the car Mbedzi was travelling in. Mbedzi survived with serious injuries while two others in the car were killed. “Having found you guilty…, I therefore sentence you to 85 years in prison,” Maphalala said. The judge sentenced him to 25 years in jail for each of the two killed in the car, 20 years for attempted murder and 15 years for sedition, but he added that the sentences will run concurrently and date to the day he was arrested. In other words, he will serve the longest term of 25 years, less the six years he has already spent in detention since his arrest. (Times Live, AFP)


Lesotho: Hunger Emergency Escalates

The number of people suffering from hunger in Lesotho has risen sharply in 2012, according to new findings released by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on 20 September. Around 39% of Lesotho’s population will need humanitarian assistance during 2012-2013, an increase of 514,000 compared to 2011. A lack of rainfall has led to a dramatic 70% drop in cereal production compared to the previous year. Lesotho, a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa, is now forced to import more of its food. This has made food more expensive, including a 33% increase in the price of maize meal, the staple food. (All Africa, Think Africa Press)


Botswana Extends $70M Credit Line to Zimbabwe

Botswana has extended a credit facility of about $70 million meant to revive Zimbabwe’s ailing industrial sector. The line of credit, announced on 03 September, comes at a time when Zimbabwe has no access to international lenders like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. According to the African Development Bank, Zimbabwe needs at least $4 billion in lines of credit so its struggling industries can get back on their feet. Speaking after the signing ceremony for the Botswana credit facility, Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti outlined the rise and fall of his country’s economy. (…) Biti has repeatedly criticized government policies of seizing white-owned farmland and “indigenzing” foreign-owned companies to give a majority stake to black Zimbabweans. Those policies crippled farm production and scared away investors. As a result, the economy has struggled for more than a decade, and the country‘s external debt is now about $10 billion. (Voice of America)


100 Killed in Madagascar Cattle Rustling Unrest

Villagers in Madagascar have killed nearly 100 cattle thieves in a wave of attacks in southern areas of the Indian Ocean Island plagued by rustling. (…)Theft of the humped cattle – a prized breed in parts of southern Madagascar – has surged and grown more violent in recent years. In June 2012, security forces were deployed in the forests of southwestern Madagascar to crack down on hundreds of armed cattle rustlers. Several deaths of policemen and thieves were reported and around 100 thieves were arrested. (Telegraph)

All Banks in Madagascar Closed to Protest Robbery

All banks in Madagascar are closed on 24 September for their solidarity against robbery in a bank in the capital city of Antananarivo in mid-September, a statement from the Association of Professionals of Banks(…) The statement revealed that professionals of banks decided to close all banks in Madagascar because of a robbery happening in an agency of Bank of Africa in the capital. Professionals of Banks said in their statement that since 2009, seven robberies to the banks were recorded in Madagascar, “representing significant harms”. The association called authorities in the country to “ensure safety and property of people to restore an environment conducive to the serene exercise of banking profession.” (Global Times)


Mozambique, China Sign $25m Agreements

Mozambique and China signed on 22 September two cooperation agreements worth nearly $25 million for the funding of projects that will still be identified by both governments. Out of the total amount, $9.4 million was given to Mozambique as a loan while the remaining $14.3 million was given as a donation. (…)The Minister of Fisheries Victor Borges who represented Mozambique said that the agreements are part of the increasing and strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two governments and that the money will be applied in the development of infrastructures for the benefit of Mozambican people as part of the government efforts in the fight against poverty. The Chinese government was represented by the assistant minister of commerce Li Rongcan. The injection of funds in Mozambique is in addition to $1.2 billion that the Chinese government has disbursed and $500 million to be provided. (China Daily)

South Africa

South African Truckers Swell Strikers to 100,000 as Gold Mining Slammed

South African truckers swelled the ranks of workers on strike to almost 100,000, escalating a conflict with mine owners and police that has shut 39 percent of the nation’s gold production and led to 46 deaths. (…) Security forces fired rubber bullets at strikers at a factory in Howick, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa Regional Secretary Mbuso Ngubane said 27 September by mobile phone. About 20,000 transportation industry workers are on strike, the South African Press Association reported 27 September. (…) Strikes at Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (AMS), the largest producer of the metal, may lead to job losses after at least 21,000 staff halted work without following required dispute resolution procedures, Chief Executive Officer Chris Griffith said. (…)The company began disciplinary action on 27 September that may lead to dismissals. (Bloomberg)

South Africa’s Malema Charged With Money Laundering

Renegade South African politician Julius Malema has been charged on 26 September with money laundering in a high-profile corruption case his supporters say is part of a political plot to silence him. The trial of Malema, who has backed wildcat miners’ strikes and has been pushing for nationalization of the mines, is one of the biggest since apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) took power in 1994. (…)Scores of police deployed razor wire to block more than 1,000 Malema supporters from approaching the court compound in Polokwane. (…)Ousted as leader of the ANC Youth League in April for ill-discipline, Malema has returned from the political wilderness with a vengeance in the past several weeks, stepping up public criticism against President Jacob Zuma and the ANC hierarchy. (ABC News, Reuters)



Ghana Has Peace Stake in Ivory Coast, Says Official

A joint Ghana and Ivory Coast task force will launch an investigation soon into cross border attacks on military installations in Ivory Coast, according to Chris Kpodo, Ghana’s deputy foreign minister. (…) On 21 September, Ivory Coast closed its border with Ghana after gunmen reportedly attacked security posts in the town of Noe, near the Ghanaian border. The Ivorian administration blames supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo, including those living in Ghana, as the perpetrators of the attack. (…)The two neighbors have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that enables their security agencies to cooperate to prevent cross border attacks. (…)The two countries share strong diplomatic relations. Some analysts have warned the cross border attacks could weaken those relations between Accra and Yamoussoukro, but, Kpodo disagrees. (Voice of America)

Ghana Signs $210m World Bank Funded Projects to Sustain Middle Income Status

Ghana’s Finance Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor has signed three World Bank funded projects worth $210 million, the bank announced in a statement released on 25 September. The projects are the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project worth $100 million, West African Agriculture Productivity Programme ($60 million) and the Urban Water project (Additional Financing of $50 million). The Washington-based lender explains that the projects aim to support Ghana’s “efforts to sustain economic growth, and maintain its middle income status.” (Ghana Business News)

Cote d’Ivoire

Cote d’Ivoire Council Suspends Pro-Gbagbo Papers

Cote d’Ivoire’s National Press Council (CNP) has ordered the suspension from publication of six newspapers that support former president Laurent Gbagbo. The CNP accused the papers of publishing photos of Gbagbo and those close to him, who are now in jail, with banned captions detailing ministerial posts given to some of these aides during a post-electoral crisis in December 2010 to April 2011. Gbagbo had been defeated in November 2010 elections by Alassane Ouattara, but refused to step down and named his own ministers, triggering a showdown that claimed some 3 000 lives before he was arrested. He is in prison at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces trial for crimes against humanity. (…) The CNP ruled that the photo captions posts were “seditious” and “of a nature to prolong the post-electoral crisis”, giving the impression that there were two governments in Côte d’Ivoire.


Liberia, China Sign U.S. $60 Million Ministerial Complex Agreement

Liberia’s Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan and Chinese Ambassador accredited to Liberia, His Excellency Zhao Jianhua on 11 September signed the agreement for the construction of the multimillion dollar Ministerial Complex at an impressive ceremony witnessed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The agreement signed in the C. Cecil Dennis Auditorium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill is for an estimated US$60 million. The complex in Liberia will be the second largest building constructed by China in Africa after the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. During the event, Foreign Minister Ngafuan stated that the signing meant President Sirleaf and her Government will be finally closing the chapter on the inconvenience of being a tenant and opening a new chapter on the respectability and cost-saving of being a landlord. (All Africa)

Liberians Reluctantly Reactivate Army

Liberia is embarking on its first large-scale army operation since the end of its civil war in 1999, with troops being deployed to the border with Ivory Coast in a mission to root out militants that officials also hope will revamp the military’s image at home. (…)A joint force made up of the army, police and immigration officials has been deployed for Operation Restore Hope, a mission to take control of dense forests that observers say are used by rebel Ivorian fighters as a base to launch attacks on the Ivorian army and civilians seen as loyal to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. (The Washington Times)


Mali’s PM Calls For Foreign Intervention

Mali’s prime minister has called for the UN Security Council to approve international military intervention in his country to defeat rebels who control vast swathes of territory in the north. Cheick Modibo Diarra’s call on 26 September came as Francois Hollande, the French president, called for the council to approve African military intervention in Mali “as quickly as possible”. (…)But Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, signalled caution, saying immediate efforts should concentrate on putting a legitimate government back in power in Mali before its internal divisions are addressed. (…)Mali’s interim government has asked a West African bloc for a military intervention to root out so-called Islamists who overran northern Mali after a March coup.The Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, is awaiting Security Council approval before sending in about 3,000 troops with aerial support. (Al Jazeera)

Mali Agrees to Host Anti-Islamist Ecowas Force

UN backing for the force is being sought by the Malian government and the West African regional body Ecowas. Militant Islamists captured northern Mali in April, prompting fears of instability across the region. Mali was initially opposed but has now agreed to host the 3,000-strong force in the capital, Bamako. After intense regional diplomatic efforts, the authorities have given the green light for a logistical base on the outskirts of the city (…) Islamists seized control of the north of the country, taking advantage of chaos that followed an army coup in March 2012. (…) On 21 September, the UN Security Council expressed its concern about the “increasing entrenchment of terrorist elements including al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and affiliated groups” in northern Mali. (BBC)

Mali Islamists ‘Increasingly Repressive’

The Islamists’ efforts to impose Sharia law has also extended to banning ring tones on mobile phones that are not Koranic verse readings, as well as prohibiting cigarettes and alcohol. Women who wear jewellery or perfume, or fail to cover their heads can also face punishment, Human Rights Watch said in its report on 25 September. (…) Several Islamist groups including Ansar Dine and al-Qaida’s North Africa branch have been strengthening their presence there since mid-2012 amid the power vacuum. Witnesses have reported that most of the leadership has come from other countries, including Mauritania, Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Chad, Human Rights Watch said. The Islamists have also recruited hundreds of children as young as 12 in an effort to boost their ranks after fighting in northern Mali forced nearly half a million people to flee earlier in 2012. (The Telegraph)

Mali Islamists say Army Killing of Preachers Declaration of War

Mali Islamic militant group MUJWA said on 09 September that the killing of 16 Muslim preachers including eight Mauritanians and eight Malians by an army patrol in Mali was a declaration of war. The Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA) is one of the Islamic groups that has hijacked a Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali since April with the intention of imposing sharia law in the country. (Reuters)

Ecowas Ministers Meet on Mali, Guinea Bissau

West African defence and foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting 17 September in the Ivorian capital Abidjan on the political and security crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau, an official statement said. The extraordinary meeting will consider reports presented by the president of the Ecowas Commission, Desire Kadre Ouedraogo, on the political and security situations in the two countries, the Ecowas statement said. The foreign ministers of Burkina Faso and Nigeria will also brief the Ecowas Mediation and Security Council meeting on the mediation efforts in Mali and Guinea Bissau, respectively, it said. The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) is trying to broker an end to the political crises in Mali – which has been effectively sliced in two after a putsch – and in impoverished Guinea-Bissau, which suffered a coup in April. Ivory Coast’s Chief of Defence Staff, who is also the chairperson of the Committee of the Ecowas Chiefs of Defence Staff, will also brief the Council on the outcome of the two-day committee meeting which ended on 15 September in Abidjan. The defence chiefs have held several meetings as part of Ecowas efforts towards the resolution of the crises in Mali and Guinea Bissau following the coups d’tat which interrupted constitutional rule in both countries, and the separatist rebellion in northern Mali. (News24, AFP)


In a major crackdown, the Joint Task Force (JTF) comprising of military, police and the State Security Service (SSS) discovered a bomb factory belonging to suspected members of Boko Haram in Mubi on 25 September, north of Adamawa State. At the bomb factory, which was located after Shagari quarters in Mubi-North Local Council in the state, six bombs ready for use were in one of the rooms of the three-bed room apartment. (…)The task force also recovered eight AK47 locally made machine gun, many ammunition and other dangerous arms. (…)The brigade commander who lamented the withholding of information by members of the public, especially the village heads that he said were closer to their subjects, appealed to the public to always inform security agents about suspicious people in their area.The house-to-house operation by the JTF in the area, he said would continue until reasonable progress in search of the group he called terrorists was recorded. (The Guardian – Nigeria)

Nigeria Braces for Escalation in Terrorist Attacks

The Nigerian government has lost control of security and lacks a coherent strategy to counter the threat of terrorism, according to its own advisers. Senior political and military figures have told the Guardian of their growing pessimism over the state’s ability to contain Boko Haram, the Islamist sect behind a deadly wave of bombings and kidnappings in northern Nigeria, and are bracing themselves for an escalation in attacks. (…) Boko Haram – whose name is often translated as “western education is sinful” – has become increasingly sophisticated in its operations since first launching mass attacks in northern Nigeria in 2010. (…) The government has tried to fight back against the sect, and claims to have killed at least 35 militants on 24 September, and detained 60 others during raids in Adamawa and Yobe states in northern Nigeria – two of the areas most affected by the violence. But its failure to stop Boko Haram attacks has led many to question the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan, who promised in March that security services would end the insurgency by June. (…) Experts have frequently attributed the rise of Boko Haram to the growing divide between rich and poor, compounded by regionalism that has often pitched the largely Christian south against the mostly Muslim north. (…) The relationship between Boko Haram and officials is complex, experts say, with some in the security services assisting the sect. (The Guardian)

Nigerian Airline Collapses as Industry Struggles

Almost half the aircraft had been pulled out of service at Air Nigeria, this West African nation’s second-largest airline, and its staff hadn’t received a paycheck in four months when its top executive summarily fired nearly all of its employees for “dishonesty.” (…) The collapse and the mass firing of about 800 workers at Air Nigeria comes as only three domestic airlines are currently flying in Nigeria, down from nine flying at the start of 2012. The dramatic decrease highlights the current turmoil of the nation’s troubled aviation sector. (Bloomberg)

Nigerian Soldiers Open Fire on Muslims Protesting Film

Soldiers opened fire on 14 September to drive away young Muslims in central Nigeria protesting a film critical of the Prophet Muhammad, witnesses and authorities said, as demonstrators elsewhere in the county’s Muslim north burned a U.S. flag. (…)The youths, some wearing white shirts that read “To Hell With America, To Hell With Israel,” chanted slogans and called for the arrest of the makers of the film that has sparked protests across the Middle East and North Africa. As the youths grew angry, soldiers fired assault rifles into the air to drive them away, said Capt. Mustapha Salisu, a spokesman for the military command in Jos. The soldiers dispersed the youths as demonstrations have been largely banned in the city since the violence, said Salisu. (Mercury News, Associated Press)


Gambia: Stepping Up Pressure on Human Rights

 Public, forceful international pressure on Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to halt ongoing executions of death row prisoners was successful – at least temporarily – leading activists to call for governments, multinationals and human rights groups to exert more sustained pressure on the government to clean up its human rights act. (…)At first the government would not confirm executions had taken place, and then was unwilling to publicly admit to them, according to Amnesty International. To go from that to publicly admit them and issue a statement that no more would take place – albeit only under certain conditions – is a sign of progress, however small. (IRIN Global)

Gambia Opposition Group Formed in Senegal

Sheikh Sidia Bayo said he was spurred to create the new group by the recent execution of some death-row prisoners. The aim of the National Transitional Council of The Gambia (CNTG) was to see the end of President Yahya Jammeh’s “dictatorship”, he said. Human rights groups say most of those on death row are political prisoners. (…) Two Senegalese nationals were among the nine prisoners killed at the end of August after President Jammeh vowed to execute all 47 death-row inmates by mid-September, prompting the anger of Senegal’s President Macky Sall. Relations between the two countries are often frosty, with Senegal accusing its neighbour of backing separatist rebels in its southern Casamance province, which borders The Gambia.


Senegal Senate Abolished to Pay for Floods

Senegalese MPs have voted to abolish the senate as part of moves to help the victims of recent deadly floods. President Macky Sall has said the money reserved for the upper house – about $15m (£9.5m) – will also go towards preventing further flooding. But critics say the aim is to weaken the opposition as most of the senators were supporters of the ex-president. The 100 senators had fought to be retained, but lost the vote in the joint session of parliament. The Congress also abolished the post of vice-president – although no-one has held the position since it was created in 2009 by then-President Abdoulaye Wade. Low-lying suburbs of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, have flood during most rainy seasons, but in 2012 has seen exceptionally high rainfall across West Africa. Thirteen people died in Senegal and it is estimated that thousands of people have been left homeless. Before President Sall announced his intention in August to abolish the Senate, residents took to the streets of the capital to denounce the government for failing to act faster and were dispersed with tear gas. (BBC)


Thousands of Opposition Members Rally in Togo

Protestors in their thousands rallied in the Togolese capital, Lome, in the latest demonstration ahead of parliamentary polls, after police used tear gas to disperse several previous marches. Protest organizers and authorities were said to have agreed on a route ahead of the march, which came at the start of three consecutive days of planned demonstrations, thus reducing the likelihood of police action to stop it. The protest was organized by Let’s Save Togo, a coalition of opposition and civil society groups in the West African nation of some six million people. They want the departure of President Faure Gnassingbe, and sweeping electoral reforms. Ex-prime minister Agbeyome Kodjo, a key figure in the coalition, said the group met with a government delegation late on 24 September on the itinerary of the protesters. “We have never set out to provoke,” Kodjo told Agence France Presse (AFP). “In Let’s Save Togo, we have always been responsible. During a meeting on 25 September with officials of a special Lome delegation, they brought forward certain arguments. We finally accepted to respect the government proposal on the itinerary.” The protesters chanted anti-government slogans and marched peacefully through several streets of Lome, in the presence of security agents. A member of the coalition, Pedro Amuzu, said: “The protest march is a show of force. The country is badly governed. Faure must go. We are ready to negotiate his exit, because we want a peaceful change.” Parliamentary elections are theoretically due in October, but they are widely expected to be delayed as a date has not been announced and preparations have been slow. (The Guardian – Nigeria)

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