Africa Media Review for August 20, 2018

Former UN Chief Kofi Annan Dies at 80
Kofi Annan, a former secretary-general of the United Nations and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has died aged 80. The Ghanaian diplomat passed away at a hospital in the Swiss capital, Bern, on Saturday after a “short illness”, his foundation said in a statement. “Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world,” the statement said. “He was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law,” it added. Annan served as the seventh UN chief for almost a decade, from 1997 to 2006. Having joined in 1962, he was the first staffer to take over the top UN job and the first hailing from sub-Sahara Africa. Al Jazeera

Kofi Annan Obituary
The secretary general of the United Nations is charged with the unenviable duty of safeguarding international peace and security, with few tools at his command other than political antennae and the powers of persuasion. Kofi Annan, who has died aged 80, brought strong moral convictions, careful judgment and a quiet determination to the task of demonstrating that the secretary general’s post is relevant to the search for solutions to some of the more acute problems confronting the international community. He was elected to the office in 1996 at a time when the world body’s peacekeeping operations were overstretched, the vital US commitment to the UN was at a dangerous low and there was a widespread feeling that the UN had lost its way. A likable and popular choice as secretary general, Annan was a firm believer in multilateral solutions, but also recognised that the UN had to be revitalised and streamlined, and its purposes redefined to respond to the challenges of globalisation. The Guardian

At Least 19 Killed in Islamist Militant Attack on Nigerian Village
At least 19 people have been killed in an Islamist militant attack on a village in north-east Nigeria, a survivor of the attack said. The strike is the latest blow to Nigeria’s efforts to defeat insurgencies by the Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram group and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA). In recent months, the military has suffered its heaviest defeats in years, commanders have been repeatedly replaced, and special forces soldiers have mutinied. The militants attacked the village of Mailari in the Guzamala region of Borno state about 2:00 am, according to the survivor, Abatcha Umar. He said he had not been able to tell whether they belonged to Boko Haram or to ISWA. Reuters

Yemi Osinbajo: Why Nigeria’s Favourite Leader Won’t Become President – Yet
Yemi Osinbajo is basking in the love of many Nigerians at the moment – not a common experience for politicians in this country where they are generally held in low esteem. The vice-president has been praised for the decisive – and dramatic – actions he has taken while standing in for Muhammadu Buhari during the president’s recent 10-day holiday. The dynamism of the sprightly 61-year-old have been contrasted to the ponderous nature of Mr Buhari, 75, who has been nicknamed “Baba-Go-Slow”. However, as a southerner he is unlikely to be able to stand in next year’s presidential elections, due to the country’s tradition of alternating power between the mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south. BBC

Algeria’s Bouteflika Sacks 2 Senior Army Generals -Presidency
Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Friday dismissed two senior generals, the presidency said, a fresh upheaval in the OPEC oil producer’s power structure ahead of a presidential election next year. The generals, Said Bey and Lahbib Chentouf, had been in charge of the first and second military regions. Algeria, a key gas supplier to Europe, is divided into six military regions. A presidency statement did not give a reason for the dismissals which came two months after Bouteflika sacked the North African country’s powerful police chief, Abdelghani Hamel. He also fired in June Menad Nouba, who was in charge of the gendarmerie, a separate security unit controlled by the army.  Reuters

Algeria, Mauritania Open First Border Crossing
Algeria and Mauritania on Sunday opened a first ever border crossing between the two countries, Algerian media reported. Algeria’s Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui and his Mauritanian counterpart Ahmedou Ould Abdallah inaugurated the post near the Algerian town of Tindouf, telling journalists that it would boost security and trade.  The national news agency APS said the crossing, agreed in a November 2017 accord, had cost Algiers almost $10 million to build. AFP

1 Killed in Ugandan Riots over Alleged Torture of Lawmakers
Ugandan police say one person has been killed in riots over the arrests of opposition lawmakers, including two who sustained injuries during detention. Five other protesters were injured Sunday as police tried to disperse a group of people who barricaded a road in Mityana, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the capital Kampala. The area’s representative in parliament, Francis Zaake, is hospitalized in critical condition. Police said the officer who fired his weapon would be apprehended. There were riots on Thursday in Kampala over the detention of another lawmaker, the pop star Kyagulanyi Ssentamu.  AP

Ebola Deaths in DR Congo Rises to 49 with 2,000 Feared ‘Contacts’
The deadly Ebola outbreak in eastern DR Congo has now claimed 49 lives since the start of the month, the government has said, and the World Health Organization expects more cases. The gradually increasing death toll, with a further 2,000 people feared to have come into contact with the virus, adds to the woes of a country already facing violence, displacement and political uncertainty. First reported on August 1 in the North Kivu province, the current outbreak has killed 49 of the 90 cases reported, according to the latest health ministry bulletin on Saturday. It said of the 49 deaths from the hemorrhagic fever, 63 were confirmed and 27 were probable. Confirmed cases are verified through laboratory tests on samples taken from patients. The cases treated as “probable” often concern sick people with a close epidemiological link to confirmed cases, but who have not been tested. VOA

South Sudan President Visits Eritrea
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit Saturday arrived in Asmara for talks with his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki on bilateral relations. Eritrean information minister Yemane G. Meskel said the two leaders will discuss enhancing “bilateral cooperation in various sectors and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest”. Meskel added that Kiir’s official visit to Asama is on the invitation of President Afwerki. The two-day visit comes after a visit of Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to Asmara upon the invitation of President Afwerki. In the past, Somalia and South Sudan accused Asmara of supporting their rebel groups, but the Eritrean government denied the claims. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Claims a Civil War Is Over. Skepticism Abounds
South Sudan’s government claims a shattering five-year civil war is finally over, but skepticism soars. It wasn’t helped by the sight of President Salva Kiir refusing to shake the hand of rival Riek Machar after they signed a power-sharing deal this month, according to video footage seen by The Associated Press. This latest attempt at peace already shows cracks, with the armed opposition last week saying several key issues, including reconciliation, are yet to be resolved as the warring forces prepare to merge and Machar is set to return to the capital as Kiir’s deputy once more. Machar’s side won’t sign a final agreement that doesn’t ensure “accountability and justice and free and fair elections” at the end of the three-year transition period, chairman Mabior Garang de Mabior told the AP. Even as negotiations continue in Sudan, which has taken the lead in peace talks as it eyes South Sudan’s oil resources, the United States and many South Sudanese express deep concern that the fragile peace deal will end in violence as the previous one did in July 2016, with Machar fleeing his vice president post, and the country, on foot.  AP

Zuma Corruption Claims: South Africa State Capture Inquiry Opens
A public inquiry in South Africa has started investigating alleged corruption by ex-President Jacob Zuma. The inquiry is looking into “state capture”, where the wealthy Gupta family is accused of trying to influence political decisions, including the naming of ministers. Accusations of graft dogged Mr Zuma’s presidency before he was forced to step down in February. The former president and the Gupta family deny any wrongdoing.  BBC

More Than Half of South Africans Say ANC’s Future Is Uncertain, Poll Shows
More than half of South Africans say that the future of the ANC is uncertain because of leadership within the party, an Ipsos market survey released on Saturday has shown.  The Ipsos Pulse of the People poll, which was conducted from May to June this year, found that more than 54% of South Africans agreed on this.  A total of 3619 randomly selected South Africans were interviewed face-to-face in their homes and home languages by trained interviewers. According to Ipsos, the “feeling of uncertainty is widespread”. Over 52% of ANC supporters had also agreed that the future of its party was uncertain, and one in five South Africans felt certain about the future of the party. News 24

Kenya Signals Somalia Troops Withdrawal with Budget Cut
Kenya is demanding more compensation this year from the United Nations (UN) for its troops fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia as it signalled to start withdrawing the soldiers from next July. Treasury documents show that Kenya expects reimbursement of Sh8.5 billion in the financial year starting July, up from the current Sh6.1 billion — which has remained static for the past four years. The refund is set to drop to Sh5 billion and Sh3.5 billion in the next two years, indicating gradual reduction of troops. The UN eased Kenya’s cash crunch after it refunded Sh4.68 billion in the 10 months to April. Business Daily

The Human Rights Situation in Egypt Is Getting Worse. Could Withholding American Military Aid Help?
The pattern over the last five years has been consistent: The U.S. withholds military aid from Egypt, citing human rights concerns, only to eventually release the funds before any substantial improvement. The first time was under President Obama’s administration in 2013. The United States suspended aid after Egypt’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted. Two years later, Obama restored the annual $1.3 billion in military financing, citing the need to help Egypt defeat Islamic State militants in the Sinai province. It happened again most recently under President Trump. After growing concern of repression under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi’s government, the Trump administration froze $195 million in military assistance to Cairo, only to release it at the end of July — 11 months later — despite the Egyptian government not meeting U.S. conditions. Los Angeles Times

Madagascar President, Former Presidents to Run in Nov. 7 Vote
Incumbent Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina and his political rival, former president Marc Ravalomanana, will vie for the post at an election scheduled for November, part of a move aimed at defusing a political crisis on the Indian Ocean island. Rajaonarimampianina’s agent submitted his application to the High Constitutional Court on Friday afternoon, while Ravalomana sent in his on Saturday. “It’s here, if you remember, that we started five years ago, in August. The story started here, and we will continue it here because you ask for it,” Rajaonarimampianina said during a ceremony at a hotel in Antananarivo. Reuters

Ivory Coast’s Speaker of Parliament Mulls Presidential Ambition
In Ivory Coast, the National Council of the Union of Soroists have called on Speaker of Parliament, Guillaume Soro to run as their preferred candidate for the country’s 2020 elections. Members of the union made the call on Saturday during their first national council meeting in Abidjan. They said, it was now up to him to decide to run, but added they were ready to support his candidature. Guillaume Soro has yet said to openly declare an ambition to succeed President Allasane Ouattara. But in an interview with a French media outlet last month, Soro said he would first discuss the issue with President Ouattara and others before announcing his decision. Africa News

Italy Threatens to Return Migrants to Libya
Italy’s far-right interior minister on Sunday threatened to return to Libya 177 migrants who have been stuck on an Italian coast guard ship for days amid an ongoing standoff with Malta over their fate. Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded the European Union step in after Malta refused to let the Diciotti ship dock at its port. “Either Europe decides to seriously offer Italy some concrete help, beginning with, for example, the 180 immigrants on board the Diciotti ship, or we will be forced to do what will definitively stop the smugglers’ business. That means taking the people saved in the sea back to Libya,” Salvini said in a statement. The Diciotti, working under the EU’s Frontex Mediterranean rescue operation, has been stuck off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa after rescuing the migrants on August 16.  Deutsche Welle

All of Africa Is Here’: Where Europe’s Southern Border Is Just a Fence
[…] according to the International Organization for Migration, 1,419 migrants reached Spain, compared with 359 to Italy and 527 to Greece.But the sea crossing to Spain, through the narrow straits of Gibraltar, is more dangerous than other passages, because of strong currents where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic.Through June, 294 migrants drowned in the western Mediterranean, compared with 224 in all of 2017 in that area. That has made trying to breach Ceuta’s heavily guarded fence an increasingly attractive proposition, a way to enter Spain without crossing the water. On any given day, young migrant men can be seen prowling on the Moroccan side, looking for an opportunity.Some swim around the fences where they go down into the sea. Others take short, illicit boat trips from Morocco to Ceuta. But mostly they run and climb the fence, or use bolt-cutters to cut holes in it, where they are quickly spotted by motion detectors and guards in observation towers, and usually beaten back by policemen using sticks and fists. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones