Africa Media Review for December 14, 2018

Sweeping Change to US Policy for Africa Announced
The United States is immediately instituting a new policy for Africa that was just approved by President Donald Trump, his national security adviser, John Bolton, announced Thursday. “Under our new approach, every decision we make, every policy we pursue, and every dollar of aid we spend will further U.S. priorities in the region,” said Bolton, speaking in Washington. “Our first priority, enhancing U.S. economic ties with the region, is not only essential to improving opportunities for American workers and businesses. It is also vital to safeguarding the economic independence of African states and protecting U.S. national security interests.” The policy shift is also meant to counter on the continent the rapidly expanding financial and political influence of China and Russia. “They are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States,” Bolton said at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.  VOA

U.S. to Counter China, Russia Influence in Africa – Bolton
The United States plans to counter the rapidly expanding economic and political influence of China and Russia in Africa, where the two nations use corrupt business practices with little regard for the rule of law, according to prepared remarks on Thursday by U.S. national security adviser John Bolton. The United States’ No 1. priority will be developing economic ties with the region to create opportunities for American businesses and protect the independence of African countries, as well as U.S. national security interests, he said in the prepared remarks. “Great power competitors, namely China and Russia, are rapidly expanding their financial and political influence across Africa,” Bolton said. “They are deliberately and aggressively targeting their investments in the region to gain a competitive advantage over the United States.”  Reuters

US Seeks End to UN Africa Missions Not Bringing ‘Lasting Peace’
The United States will seek an end to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa that do not bring long-term peace, national security advisor John Bolton said Thursday. “We will only back effective and efficient operations, and we will seek to streamline, reconfigure or terminate missions that are unable to meet their own mandate or facilitate lasting peace,” Bolton said in a speech on Africa policy. “Our objective is to resolve conflicts, not freeze them in perpetuity,” he said at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Bolton, long known for his hawkish criticism of the United Nations, accused the world body of creating peacekeeping missions and then not looking further at how to resolve the underlying conflict.  AFP

Gunmen Kill Dozens of Tuareg Civilians in Mali Violence
Armed men on motorbikes killed more than 40 Tuareg civilians this week in northern Mali, where clashes over land and scarce water are common, an official said on Thursday. The violence compounds an already dire security situation in the desert region used by armed groups to launch attacks in Mali and neighbouring countries in West and Central Africa. The identity of the assailants was unknown, but disputes between the nomadic Tuareg and herder Fulani ethnic groups have killed several hundred and displaced thousands this year. Menaka town mayor Nanout Kotia told Reuters news agency that 43 Tuareg died in a village 20km from the town over the past two days. Al Jazeera

Ugandan Opposition Vents Concerns about Repression
Heads of Uganda’s political parties have gathered to address growing criticism among opponents of longtime President Yoweri Museveni and growing political repression in the country. The roundtable discussion – known as the Inter Party Organization for Dialogue – served as a forum for leaders who are voicing concerns on whether Uganda’s 2021 elections will be free and fair. Uganda’s opposition political parties used the Inter Party organization for dialogue summit to push for constitutional reforms, improved governance, stop electoral fraud and bring an end to torture and other human rights abuses. Among those attending was President Yoweri Museveni. The 74-year-old leader’s mandate began in 1986 and was extended to a fifth term in 2016 elections that were marred by widespread reports of fraud and intimidation. The next elections are set for 2021 and Mr. Museveni has shown signs he may not relinquish power, telling attendees he has no plans to retire. VOA

UN Extends Central African Republic Peacekeeping Mission
The U.N. Security Council has approved a resolution extending the mandate of the 14,600-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in conflict-wracked Central African Republic. The French-drafted resolution adopted Thursday urges all militias and armed groups in the country “to lay down their arms, cease all forms of violence and destabilizing activities.” It calls on President Faustin-Archange Touadera to advance talks with armed groups and national reconciliation “without delay.” Russia and China abstained from voting. Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Moscow supports the peacekeeping force but he sharply criticized France for not including Russian concerns in the resolution. Russia wanted the U.N. force to support its training of Central African Republic troops. AP

Somalia Violence: Deadly Clashes after Arrest of Mukhtar Robow in Baidoa
Several people are reported to have been killed in southern Somalia as violence erupted following the arrest of a former al-Shabab commander set to contest regional elections. At least 11 people, including soldiers and civilians, died in Baidoa during clashes involving supporters of Mukhtar Robow, sources told the BBC. The government has accused Mr Robow of being a security threat. He is seeking the presidency of South West state in next week’s election. News of Mr Robow’s arrest early on Thursday triggered street protests in Baidoa, the regional capital. A Somali radio station tweeted images of roads strewn with burning tyres and rocks.  BBC

Ethiopia Moving Troops from Eritrean Border amid New Peace
Ethiopian military officials on Friday announced they are moving troops away from the border with Eritrea, months after the former rivals made a surprising peace. Relations have “improved tremendously” and the “threat level from the Eritrean side has declined sharply. So we have decided that there is no use in keeping that massive force in the border areas,” said Gen. Asrat Denero, head of the army’s Western Command. “It will be deployed to other locations.” He did not say how many troops will be moved. Lt. Gen. Molla Hailemariam, special operations chief with the Ethiopian Defense Forces, said the majority of armed forces had been deployed along the border. But the situation “has changed dramatically,” Molla said. Both officials spoke during a press conference aired by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate. Amid the country’s sweeping reforms since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April, officials also say army commands are being cut from six to four, while landlocked Ethiopia seeks to re-establish a naval force.  AP

Eritrean Leader Pays First Visit to Somalia, Seeking Closer Ties
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki arrived on Thursday for his first-ever visit to Somalia, in another sign of rapidly changing relations in the region following Eritrea’s rapprochement with one-time foe Ethiopia. Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi’s office said in a statement the visit was meant to boost diplomatic relations and explore areas to cooperate in security and investment. Isaias landed in Mogadishu and headed to the Somali president’s office, Reuters witnesses. Security was tight in the capital, they said. “President Isaias’s historic visit is part and parcel of the consultative Tripartite Summits of the Heads of State and Government of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter. Reuters

For the First Time in Decades, There Are No Ethiopian Journalists in Prison
Ethiopia has long had a reputation as one of the worst jailers of journalists in the world, at one point reportedly holding 18 reporters at one time in detention. Yet as of Dec. 1, the country was recorded as not having any imprisoned journalists. This comes after a number of political and economic reforms undertaken by the newly elected reformist leader of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front party. The last time Ethiopia was recorded as having no journalists in prison was 2004, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2018 annual prison census. The government for years oversaw a media environment that restricted access to independent information and analysis. It shut down newspapers, cut off internet services, banned the use of social media platforms to communicate or document anti-government protests, used sophisticated commercial spyware to target dissidents, and at one point, declared watching opposition, diaspora-run television stations illegal. It has also used harsh anti-terrorism laws to target bloggers, journalists, and human rights defenders, according to digital advocates.  Quartz

DR Congo Election Campaign: ‘I Saw Police Open Fire’ on Opposition Supporters
Violent clashes broke out on Tuesday in Lubumbashi, in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo, during a campaign visit by Martin Fayulu, the opposition candidate in the presidential election scheduled for December 23. Two people in the crowd were killed, according to a human rights NGO. Less than two weeks ahead of the poll, violence has marked the presidential election campaign in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fayulu, backed by the opposition coalition Lamuka, visited Lubumbashi, in the south of the country, for a campaign rally. But before he even arrived, police tried to prevent activists from gathering at the airport, and then forced the candidate’s motorcade to change itinerary. At Lubumbashi’s Cité des jeunes, a vocational training centre where the rally was to take place, police fired shots to disperse hundreds of people who had come to see the opposition candidate. A provisional death toll given by the Congolese Association for Access to Justice (ACAJ), a human rights NGO, said the shots killed two of Fayulu’s supporters.  France 24

Togo’s Government Stands Firm on Election Date
The government of Togo insists parliamentary elections will take place later in December, despite an opposition boycott and deadly violence. “The electoral process is irreversible and the ballot will be held on December 20 2018,” said the minister of civil service Gilbert Bawara. A coalition of 14 opposition parties has said it will not take part, citing irregularities in preparations and calling for an overhaul of the electoral commission. It called for 10 days of protest in the run-up to the vote but the government banned the action on security grounds. Bawara expressed regret at violence between opposition supporters and security forces on Saturday and on Monday that officially left four dead. The opposition said six died. But he denounced “certain political leaders” that openly “incite [the population] to attacks and attacks on police”. Business Day

EU Parliament Urges Egypt to Lift Human Rights Constraints
The EU’s lawmaking body has condemned Egyptian authorities for human rights abuses and is urging them to lift restrictions on free speech and assembly, halt mass trials and stop sentencing minors to death, and release political prisoners. In a resolution passed by a vote on Thursday, the European Parliament says Cairo enforces continuous restrictions on fundamental democratic rights. It implored authorities to also “drop all existing baseless criminal investigations into the work of non-governmental organizations.” The resolution urged the release of several detained human rights advocates by name , saying that “the long-term prosperity of Egypt and its people goes hand in hand with the protection of universal human rights.” The European Union has occasionally condemned Egypt vocally under general-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s rule, although it rarely impacts trade or weapons sales.  AP

John Bolton: ‘I Want to See Western Sahara Conflict Resolved’
Days after the much-awaited Geneva meeting between stakeholders in the Western Sahara dispute failed to deliver significant overtures, Trump’s national security adviser has expressed his “great frustration” over the lack of discernible settlement prospect in the Western Sahara conflict. Speaking at the Heritage Foundation today, the US national security adviser, John Bolton, said he was concerned and “frustrated” that the territorial dispute in Western Sahara conflict has still not been resolved. “I’d like to see this resolved if the parties can agree on the way forward. That’s the preference,” Bolton said in the Q&A session that followed his keynote address. He mentioned his tenure as assistant to the UN’s former Personal Envoy, James Baker, and his tenure as US ambassador to the United Nations, stressing that despite all the efforts made by James Baker, the UN failed to bring an end to the conflict. He voiced his frustration that after the 27 years, the conflict is still in standstill, and called on Algeria and Morocco to work out a formula to put an end to it.  Morocco World News

US Pushes for Talks to End Violence in Cameroon
The United States demanded an immediate end to violence in Cameroon on Thursday and a speedy start to talks between the government and Anglophone separatists without preconditions. U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the Security Council that security and humanitarian conditions in Cameroon’s English-speaking North West and South West regions “have significantly deteriorated.” October was the most violent month on record in recent years — and November is likely to surpass it, he said. Hundreds have been killed in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions in months of fighting between the military and separatists who claim they are marginalized in the largely French-speaking country. “The violence must stop now,” Cohen said. “The United States calls for an immediate and broad-based reconciliatory dialogue, without preconditions. … We urge all sides to foreswear violence, to restore peace, and to resolve their grievances through political dialogue.”  AP

IGAD Political Role Is More Needed in South Sudan than Its Troops: UN Chief
United Nations Secretary-General said there is a need for political efforts by the IGAD country to ensure the implementation of the security arrangements in South Sudan more than the deployment of additional troops. The recommendation was expressed in a progress report released Thursday by the UN chief to the Security Council on the activities of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and progress made in the implementation of its mandate during the period between 2 September and 30 November 2018. Speaking about the implementation of the security arrangements, the report underscored the delay in the cantonment and integration of troops and on the security arrangements necessary to support its implementation. “This weakness cannot be compensated for by the deployment of additional forces to the UNMISS regional protection force and needs to be addressed politically,” said the UN chief in his report to the Security Council seen by Sudan Tribune.  Sudan Tribune

Tanzanian Girls’ Rights Activist Wins the UN Human Rights Prize
At just 31 years old, Rebeca Gyumi has a list of accomplishments anyone twice her age would be proud of. She has successfully challenged her country’s legal system, winning a landmark ruling in 2016 to raise the age of child marriage for girls in Tanzania from 14 to 18; started a foundation to advocate for girls’ education; won the UNICEF Global Goal Award and was named 2016 Woman of the Year by New Africa Magazine. Now, she’s on her way to New York to collect the 2018 Human Rights Prize awarded by the United Nations. “I was pretty much shocked. So shocked and caught unaware that I was even considered for such a prestigious prize,” she tells CNN. Gyumi was just a child herself when she started to see the injustice happening around her. She was 13 when some of her schoolmates were forced to drop out of school because of pregnancy and were married off. Volunteering at a youth initiative at the age of 20, she began to realize it was a national problem and not just a local one happening in her hometown of Dodoma. CNN

Shell, Eni Face $1.1 Billion Nigerian Lawsuit over 2011 Deal
The government of Nigeria is suing Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Eni SpA and other companies for more than $1 billion over a 2011 oil deal it says was tainted by corruption. The suit, filed Wednesday in London, alleges that money the companies paid to acquire an oil exploration license in the Gulf of Guinea was diverted to bribes and kickbacks, the Nigerian government said in a press release. The transaction is already the subject of a separate, ongoing criminal trial in Milan. Nigeria’s government claims that Shell and Eni are partly responsible for the behavior of “corrupt Nigerian officials” who used a $1.1 billion payment to acquire the oil block for personal enrichment. The suit seeks to recoup that money, which it says belongs to the Nigerian people. Bloomberg

Devastated by War, This African Park’s Wildlife Is Now Thriving
Gorongosa National Park, in central Mozambique, along the southeastern coast of Africa, is rising anew from the ashes and ruination of war. The latest numbers from its 2018 aerial wildlife count, just released, show that the park’s populations of large mammals, devastated during the conflict, continue to rebound. This is a place—rare in Africa, cause for jubilation—where most species of big fauna are vastly more numerous now than in 1992, at the end of the civil war. Surveys then found just 15 African buffalo, six lions, 100 hippo, and a handful of blue wildebeest. By the latest counts, the buffalo population is above one thousand head, hippo are at nearly 550, wildebeest above 600. Lions, though harder to count, are thriving too amid the expanded prey base. National Geographic



Photo: Adam Jones