Africa Media Review for August 13, 2018

Ethiopian Rebels Declare Ceasefire amid Government Reforms
An Ethiopian rebel group declared a unilateral ceasefire on Sunday, the latest dissident movement to aim for an end to hostilities in the wake of reforms. The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) launched its bid for secession of the Somali Region, also known as Ogaden, in eastern Ethiopia in 1984. In 2007, Ethiopian forces waged a large-scale offensive against them after the group attacked a Chinese-run oil facility, killing 74 people. But the ONLF was among two other groups that were removed by parliament from a list of banned movements – part of a reform drive being led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has extended an olive branch to dissidents. In a statement, the ONLF said it had “taken into account the positive steps taken by the Ethiopian government to lay the groundwork for talks and peaceful negotiations”. Reuters

Ethiopia: Gedeo-Oromo Ethnic Clashes Continue amid Political Reforms
Ethnic violence between the Oromo and Gedeo ethnic groups in Ethiopia shows little sign of ending just over four months since reformist Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed took office. Although the government has not given an official death toll, Gedeos claim dozens have been killed in the clashes, with many forced to flee their homes as tensions between the two ethnic groups intensify. Ethiopia is no stranger to ethnic violence — with over 80 different ethnic groups and Africa’s second largest country based on population, it is extremely diverse and disagreements between various groups often spiral into communal violence. The ongoing conflict is quickly creating a humanitarian crisis in the region, with aid workers warning of grim conditions and a shortage of shelter as those fleeing their homes seek refuge from the seasonal rains.  Deutsche Welle

How Social Media Shaped Calls for Political Change in Ethiopia
[…] In 2015, a critical turning point ignited the political upheaval. Large-scale demonstrations erupted against the government’s plans to extend Addis Ababa’s borders into Oromo territory. The peaceful Oromo protesters were violently suppressed by the government, and numerous people were injured or killed. The protests garnered international attention and soon inspired a nationwide demand for change. Essential to the protest’s success was the use of social media. “You cannot imagine this revolution, this change without social media,” says Jawar Mohammed, the founder of the Oromia Media Network based in Minnesota, United States. “People from all corners of the world will snap a picture, record a video and send it to us through WhatsApp or through Facebook. We take that, we verify it, we edit it and we air it back to them.” Jawar Mohammed became a central player in the Oromo protests and exemplifies how social media affected change. Working mainly from the US, Jawar was one of many diaspora journalists who took advantage of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to bypass strict government censorship. Through these mediums, he helped orchestrate demonstrations and broadcast undeniable proof of the government’s abuses to millions of followers.  Al Jazeera

UAE to Build Oil Pipeline between Eritrea and Ethiopia
The United Arab Emirates will build an oil pipeline connecting Eritrea’s port city of Assab with Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, an Ethiopian state-affiliated broadcaster said on Friday (Aug 10). Fana Broadcasting said the information was revealed during a meeting in Addis Ababa between Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE’s state minister for international cooperation. It did not provide further details, but Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, told Reuters that the discussion with Hashimy was largely on investment in sectors including”industries, agriculture, real estate, (the) oil pipeline, (and) resorts”. “Most are under study,” Fitsum said in a message. The announcement is the latest sign of the UAE’s increasing involvement in the Horn of Africa.  Reuters

Mali Vote Count Starts in Presidential Poll Seen Mostly Peaceful
Election officials in Mali are due to start counting ballot papers after a presidential runoff that observers say was mostly peaceful, despite sporadic incidents of violence in regions where the nation is battling Islamist militancy. Voters decided Sunday whether President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita should win a second five-year mandate after securing 41 percent of the votes in the first round on July 29. His main opponent, 68-year-old Soumaila Cisse, got 18 percent of ballots cast in the initial race and hasn’t been successful in uniting a fractured opposition to back him. “All stations were staffed, the electoral material was sufficient, and ballot boxes were correctly sealed,” Cecile Kyenge, head of the European Union’s observer mission, told reporters. The EU had observers posted at 300 of about 23,000 polling stations. Bloomberg

Suspected Jihadist Kill 6 in East Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso State TV reports that five gendarmes and one civilian have been killed between the rural communes of Boungou and Ougarou in the nation’s far east. It reports the vehicle hit an explosive device late on Saturday while gendarmes were escorting mining workers to their extraction site. This comes as Islamic extremists are moving to the region, where they can hide in the thick forested areas, and are launching more attacks on security forces. Governor Ousmane Traore said his eastern territory was under threat by young men who had received extremist training in Mali and have now returned to launch a katiba,or brigade. AP

Allied Forces in Joint Operation to Flush Out Militants in S. Somalia
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army (SNA) forces this week intensified joint operations to flush out terrorists in villages near Qoryooley in southern Somalia. The AU mission said on Sunday that the joint operation to flush out terrorists which started on Thursday was aimed at disrupting the militants’ activities in the vast region. Colonel Hussein Hosh, SNA 7th brigade commander, said the joint military operation is was also aimed at denying the al-Qaida allied terror group’s access to strategic areas of Lower Shabelle from which they base to inflict harm on the population.  Xinhua

South Sudanese Army Killed 232 Civilians in April-May Attacks: UN Report
South Sudanese army and its allied militias have been accused of killing over two hundreds civilians, committing rape and burning villages in a series of attacks carried out in southern Unity region from 16 April to 24 May 2018. Based on the findings of an investigation carried out by the UNMISS Human Rights Division’s, (HRD), the peacekeeping mission and the UN human rights body OHCHR released a joint report documenting grave human right violation against civilians in Southern Unity State. The report revealed that the SPLA and allied forces attacked at least 40 villages or settlements in the reporting period, during which 120 girls and women were raped or gang-raped. “HRD also documented the killing of 232 civilians including 35 children, 50 women – including 25 who were killed by hanging, and 63 individuals comprising of children, elderly and persons with disabilities who were burned alive across these locations,” said the report. Sudan Tribune

Analysts Warn of Overly Bloated South Sudan Government
South Sudan’s government and opposition groups have begun the process of implementing the peace agreement signed last week. But some analysts warn it will be difficult to maintain the bloated government for three years. South Sudanese leaders will have a three-year transitional period to put the country on a path toward peace and resettle its people, both those who fled the country and those internally displaced. During the transition period, the country will be run by a government that includes five vice presidents, 35 cabinet ministers, and 550 legislators. Deo Gumba, a researcher with the Institute for Security Studies, said countries and international organizations will find it difficult to fund and maintain such a bloated government.  VOA

Zimbabwe Election: Emmerson Mnangagwa Inauguration Deferred after Court Challenge of Result
Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration as Zimbabwe’s president has been postponed after the main opposition party filed a legal challenge to the results of last month’s election. Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi announced a ceremony planned for Sunday “will no longer happen” after the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) alleged irregularities in the country’s first vote since long-serving leader Robert Mugabe was deposed. The opposition party has demanded either fresh elections or the instalment of their candidate, Nelson Chamisa, as president. The MDC’s lawyers arrived at court to submit papers less than an hour for the deadline to challenge the result. “We have a good case and cause,” declared Mr Chamisa on Twitter. The Independent

Trump Approves New Conditions for Ending Zimbabwe Sanctions
US President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that imposes tough new conditions that have to be met before sanctions are lifted. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said that his country is open for business, but this new law — the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Amendment Act — could scupper those plans as far as the US is concerned. Official results show that Mr Mnangagwa won last month’s presidential election with 50.8% of the vote, but the opposition alleges that the figures were manipulated. The US law says that in order for sanctions to end the election has to be “widely accepted as free and fair”.  BBC

Zimbabwe’s Post-Election Crackdown Scuppers Investment Hopes
[…] The crackdown has exposed the fundamental flaw in any plan by Mr Mnangagwa’s ruling Zanu-PF to reopen the country to investors. The economy badly needs foreign cash — literally, given the desperate shortage of US dollars, the currency in most use, which has crippled banks. Yet with Zanu-PF returning to form with violent repression of dissent, international investors are spooked. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Speculation that the hardline generals who installed Mr Mnangagwa are driving the crackdown and weakening the president’s authority have heightened anxiety. “No one will want to put his money in where there is no security,” said Wilfred Sithole, a UK-educated engineer. Unable to find work, Mr Sithole ekes out a living as a street vendor in Harare, the capital. The informal economy is believed to support more than half the population, and highlights Zimbabwe’s collapse under Mr Mugabe. During the election Mr Mnangagwa boasted of securing $15bn in investments for an economy $17bn in size, which attracted less than $300m last year. After taking power, he removed the biggest barriers to investment. Foreign mining investors mostly no longer have to hand over half of their equity to locals. Even a Rwanda-style one-stop shop to cut red tape for investors has been in the offing. Financial Times

7 Killed in Rebel Attack amid Congo’s Latest Ebola Outbreak
In a new reminder of the dangers in containing an Ebola outbreak in a war zone, suspected rebels killed seven people overnight in northeastern Congo and sent residents fleeing, an official said Saturday. Global health officials have warned that combating this virus outbreak is complicated by multiple armed groups in the mineral-rich region and a restless population that includes 1 million displaced people and scores of refugees leaving for nearby Uganda every week. The insecurity means health workers might have to change a vaccination strategy that proved successful in Congo’s previous Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization’s emergency preparedness chief Dr. Peter Salama said Saturday. The so-called “ring vaccination” approach of first vaccinating health workers, contacts of Ebola victims and their contacts might have to give way to the approach of vaccinating everyone in a certain geographic area such as a village or neighborhood. That would require a larger number of vaccine doses. AP

Egypt: Security Forces Kill 12 Islamic Militants in Sinai
Egypt’s official news agency says security forces have killed at least 12 Islamic militants in a shootout in northern Sinai Peninsula. Sunday’s report by MENA says the fighting erupted when forces raided a suspected militant hideout in the city of al-Arish. It says troops also dismantled two explosive devices and seized weapons during the raid. MENA didn’t say when the raid took place or whether any members of the security forces were killed or wounded. Egypt heavily restricts media access to the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt has battled militants for years but the Sinai-based insurgency gained strength after the 2013 overthrow of the country’s elected but divisive Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi. AP

Egypt Hands Muslim Brotherhood Leader Another Life Sentence
An Egyptian court has sentenced five people, including the head of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, to life in prison on violence-related charges. It’s the latest of several life sentences for Mohammed Badie, who has also been sentenced to death in separate trials since his 2013 arrest. Charges have included inciting violence and planning attacks against the state. The Cairo Criminal Court on Sunday sentenced four others to 10-15 years imprisonment on the same charges, related to the killing of seven people in 2013. The verdicts can be appealed. AP

Sudan Ruling Party Chooses Bashir as Candidate for Third Term in 2020 Poll
Sudan’s ruling party said on Friday it has chosen President Omar al-Bashir to run for a third elected term in 2020, despite the constitution only allowing two five-year terms. The National Congress Party’s (NCP) advisory council said it had chosen Bashir, 74, as its candidate after an overnight meeting in Khartoum, the official SUNA news agency reported. Council chief Kabashor Koko said the decision to opt for Bashir – who has been in power since a 1989 military coup – was taken by the party at all levels. “We have decided to adopt all necessary procedures for him to run in the 2020 election,” he told reporters after the meeting. The veteran leader faced his first multi-party election in 2010 – after a new constitution came into effect – and won comfortably that year. AFP

Kenya Arrests 2 Top Officials on Corruption Charges Over $3 Billion Railway
The Kenyan authorities have arrested the chairman of the agency that manages public land and the boss of the state railway on suspicion of corruption over land allocation for the new $3 billion flagship Nairobi-Mombasa railway.The line connecting Nairobi, the capital, with East Africa’s main port was financed by China and is one of the biggest infrastructure projects of President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose government began an anticorruption drive this year.The public prosecutor, Noordin Mohamed Haji, ordered the arrests and said in a statement that he was preparing to charge the officials.Kenya inaugurated the $3 billion railway last year. No Chinese companies or individuals were named in the prosecutor’s statement.The chairman of National Land Commission, Mohammed Abdalla Swazuri, was one of 18 officials, businesspeople and companies named in a list of arrests posted on Saturday on the Twitter feed of the prosecutor’s office. The managing director of the Kenya Railways Corporation, Atanas Kariuki Maina, was also arrested.Opposition leaders and Kenyan economists have criticized the railway for increasing the country’s debt burden, which the International Monetary Fund estimated at 54 percent to 55 percent of economic output in the 2017-18 fiscal year. The New York Times

Angola to Host Central, Southern Africa Heads of State Summit
Angolan President João Lourenço will Tuesday host central and southern Africa heads of state, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Manuel Augusto has said. According to Mr Augusto, the leaders will assess the political state in the region as well the current situation in DRC, particularly the elections scheduled for December 23. “During the meeting, the heads of state will discuss the persistence of violence in CAR, the electoral process in DR Congo and many other issues,” said Mr Augusto. Presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, South Africa, Rwanda, Uganda, Gabon as well as African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat have been invited for the summit. The East African

Morocco Authorities Force Hundreds of Migrants Out of North
Moroccan authorities have forcefully relocated hundreds of migrants in recent days from camps and homes in the kingdom’s north, a local official and a rights group said on Saturday. “This is an operation that is part of the fight against illegal immigration,” said an official speaking on behalf of local authorities in Tangier. The official estimated that between 1 600 and 1 800 people had been “moved to cities where living conditions are better”. But a representative of a Moroccan human rights organisation told AFP authorities detained and forcefully relocated the migrants, calling the move “illegal”. “The authorities continued on Saturday to drive migrants by bus from Nador and Tangier to the town of Tiznit, near Agadir” in the country’s south, Omar Naji of the Moroccan Human Rights Association said. AFP

Aid Group: Ships Not Willing to Save Mediterranean Migrants
Migrants in distress at sea have told their rescuers that several ships passed them by without offering assistance, a European aid group said Sunday while seeking safe harbor for a rescue vessel with 141 migrants aboard. SOS Mediterranee in a statement said that due to the recent refusal of Italy and Malta to let rescue vessels carrying migrants dock, ships might be now unwilling to get involved fearing they will be stranded with migrants aboard and denied a port to disembark them. On Friday the group’s chartered ship Aquarius, which it operates in partnership with Doctors Without Borders, rescued 141 people in waters off Libya. Of these, 25 were found adrift on a small wooden boat that had no motor and was believed to have been at sea for about 35 hours, the group said. The other 116 people, including 67 unaccompanied minors, were rescued later that day, it said.  AP

 



Photo: Adam Jones