Africa Media Review for December 5, 2017

Somalia’s Peacekeeping Mission Could Be Hurt by Cut in Force Size: Mission Chief
The African Union’s plan to trim its Somalia peacekeeping force (AMISOM) will hurt the mission unless extra equipment is found to offset the troop decrease, the mission’s leader told Reuters on Monday. The force of 22,000 deployed a decade ago is set to lose 1,000 soldiers this year as part of a long-term plan to pull out of the country and hand security to the Somali army. AMISOM is confronting the Islamist militant group al Shabaab, whose ranks have been swelled by Islamic State fighters fleeing military setbacks in Libya and Syria. Militants killed more than 500 people in an attack in the capital Mogadishu last month. It was the deadliest such attack in the country’s recent history. AMISOM deployed to help secure the government of a country that since 1991 has struggled to establish central control. Reuters

Uganda Begins Withdrawal of Troops from Somalia
The Ugandan military said on Monday it has begun the withdrawal of 281 peacekeepers as part of condition-based drawdown of its over 6,000 troops deployed in Somalia. Ugandan military spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire told Xinhua that phased withdrawal is in compliance with the African Union- and United Nations-approved reduction of 1,000 uniformed personnel serving under African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by the Dec. 31 deadline. “The reduction has already started and UPDF (Uganda People’s Defense Force) shall be in compliance by Dec. 31 as required by UN Security Council Resolution 2372,” said Karemire. Xinhua

Zimbabwe Swears in First Post-Mugabe Cabinet
Zimbabwe’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa swore in his cabinet on Monday, with allies defending him against criticism for giving top posts to the generals who helped his rise to power. Sworn in as president on November 24 after 93-year-old Robert Mugabe quit following a de facto military coup, Mnangagwa has also come under fire for bringing back several faces from the Mugabe era, including Patrick Chinamasa as finance minister. Air Marshall Perrance Shiri, who was handed the sensitive land portfolio, defended his appointment in remarks to reporters after a simple ceremony to take oaths of office. “Who says military people should never be politicians? I‘m a Zimbabwean so I have every right to participate in government,” he said. Shiri is feared and loathed by many Zimbabweans as the former commander of the North Korean-trained ‘5 Brigade’ that played a central role in ethnic massacres in Matabeleland in 1983 in which an estimated 20,000 people were killed. The East African

US Pulls out of UN Migrant and Refugee Pact
The United States has informed the United Nations that it will no longer participate in the Global Compact on Migration. In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the program was not consistent with American immigration policies. “While we will continue to engage on a number of fronts at the United Nations, in this case, we simply cannot in good faith support a process that could undermine the sovereign right of the United States to enforce our immigration laws and secure our borders,” Tillerson said. “The United States supports international cooperation on migration issues, but it is the primary responsibility of sovereign states to help ensure that migration is safe, orderly, and legal.” In 2016, the 193 members of the U.N. General Assembly unanimously adopted a non-binding political declaration, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, pledging to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and jobs. VOA

Saudis Pledge $100 Million to African Anti-Jihadist Force: Mali
Saudi Arabia has pledged $100 million to a new regional military force battling jihadist groups in West Africa’s Sahel region, force member Mali said on Monday. The contribution would be a major boost to the cash-strapped force and bring pledged commitments to more than half the roughly $500 million the G5 Sahel says it needs for its first year of operations. The G5 Sahel – composed of the armies of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad – launched its first military campaign in October amid growing unrest in the Sahel, whose porous borders are regularly crossed by jihadists, including affiliates of al Qaeda and Islamic State. Those groups have stepped up attacks on civilian and military targets, including tourist attractions in regional capitals, raising fears the zone will become a new breeding ground for militants. Reuters

Ramaphosa Wins Most Endorsements in South Africa Leadership Race
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa won endorsement from most African National Congress branches to succeed President Jacob Zuma as ruling party leader, giving him an edge — but not a guarantee of victory — in this month’s election. Ramaphosa was nominated for the presidency of the ANC by 1,862 branches, while 1,309 backed his main rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, tallies released by the party’s nine provincial structures and collated by Bloomberg show. The branches will account for 90 percent of the 5,240 voting delegates at the ANC’s national elective conference that’s due to start Dec. 16, while the rest will come from the party’s leadership structures and youth, women and military veterans leagues. Bloomberg

Nelson Mandela Funeral: ‘Millions Misspent’
South Africa’s corruption watchdog has found officials misused millions of dollars during Nelson Mandela’s funeral four years ago. According to the report, 300m rand ($22m; £16m) was redirected from a development fund to help with costs. It had been earmarked for things like “sanitation, the replacement of mud schools and the refurbishment of hospitals,” the report stated. Instead, the authorities allegedly spent it on items like $24 T-shirts. Allegations of misuse first emerged in 2014, months after Mr Mandela’s funeral in Qunu, Eastern Cape, in December 2013, which was attended by heads of state from around the world. Now, nearly four years after Mr Mandela’s death at the age of 95, the country’s public protector, Busi Mkhwebane, has asked President Jacob Zuma to pursue the allegations further using the special investigations unit. BBC

Zuma Says South Africa and Morocco Will Resume Diplomatic Ties: Media
South Africa and Morocco will resume diplomatic ties more than a decade after Morocco withdrew its ambassador from Pretoria, South African President Jacob Zuma said in a newspaper interview published on Sunday. Morocco recalled its ambassador from South Africa in 2004 after former South African president Thabo Mbeki recognized a breakaway region in the Western Sahara which Morocco claims as part of its territory. “Morocco is an African nation and we need to have relations with them,” Zuma told City Press in the interview. “We never had problems with them anyway; they were the first to withdraw diplomatic relations.” Zuma met Morocco’s King Mohammed last week on the sidelines of an African Union-European Union summit. Reuters

Opposition Campaigner David Ndii Arrested in Kenya as Political Crises Deepens
Police in Kenya have arrested one of the opposition’s most prominent figures, further raising tensions in the politically volatile country and triggering accusations of growing authoritarianism by the government. David Ndii, one of Africa’s best known economists and an outspoken anti-corruption crusader, was seized by armed police officers on Sunday evening as he entered a hotel dining room while on holiday on the Kenyan coast with his wife and daughter. His detention was widely condemned by human rights activists as well as by colleagues in the opposition. Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, said the arrest was “designed to intimidate and blackmail the people of Kenya” and claimed that he had been told more opposition arrests would follow. The Telegraph

The Sex Trafficking Trail from Nigeria to Europe
Sandra knew there was always a chance that her clients would kill her. For three years, she was forced to work as a prostitute on the streets of Moscow, repaying a $45,000 debt to the trafficker who brought her from Nigeria. “There were five of them,” she recalls of one occasion. “They were brutal, they beat me up, they brought out a knife and tried to stab me.” Instead, they pushed her out of the two-story window for not submitting. Sandra, not her real name, is one of tens of thousands of Nigerian women who have been trafficked into Europe for sexual exploitation. And many of those women come from a single city. For decades, Benin City, the capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria, has been tied to trafficking to Europe. Here, a potent mix of poverty and spiritualism drives thousands of young women to make the dangerous journey. CNN

Egypt’s Police Say 5 Militants Killed, 6 Arrested near Cairo
Egypt’s Interior Ministry says security forces have killed five suspected militants in a shootout in a province about 150km east of Cairo. It says in a statement on Monday police have arrested another six militants in follow up raids on a desert area in the Sharqiya province. It adds police found bomb-making materials, assault rifles and ammunition at the site. Egypt’s military and security forces have been waging a yearslong campaign against militants, mainly in the northern region of the Sinai peninsula – where Islamic extremists carried out the country’s deadliest attack last month, killing 305 people – and the country has been in a state of emergency for months. AP

Museveni Creates New Deputy Commander Land Forces Position
President Museveni has created a new position of Deputy Commander Land Forces in the latest mini army reshuffle announced on Thursday night. The office’s first occupant will be the deputy commander of Air Force, Brig Sam Kavuma, who has also been promoted to the rank of Major General. The Defence and Military spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, yesterday said the creation of the new office by the President is intended to streamline the Land Forces. “We did not have a deputy of the Commander Land Forces. In Cabinet, you have deputy ministers, and where he (Kavuma) was, he was a deputy. Therefore, there was a need to have a deputy Commander Land Forces,” Brgi Karemire said. Daily Monitor

Switzerland to Return around $321 Million in Assets Seized from the Abacha Family to Nigeria
Switzerland will return to Nigeria around $321 million in assets seized from the family of former military ruler Sani Abacha via a deal signed with the World Bank on Monday, the Swiss government said. Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, has accused Abacha of stealing up to $5 billion of public money during the five years he ran the oil-rich country, from 1993 until his death in 1998. In 2014, Nigeria and the Abacha family reached an agreement for the West African country to get back the funds, which had been frozen, in return for dropping a complaint against the former military ruler’s son, Abba Abacha. Africa News

Guinea-Bissau: Regional Leaders Consider Sanctions
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), said Sunday they are considering sanctions against Guinea-Bissau’s President for failure to implement the agreement to end the two-year political crisis. ECOWAS negotiators led by president of the Commission, Marcel De Souza, said that President Jose Mario Vaz and his ruling powerful PAIGC have failed to implement anything that came out of talks brokered by President Alpha Conde of Guinea Conarkry in June this year. Known in Bissau as the Conakry Accord, president Vaz has been asked, among other things, to appoint a concession candidate acceptable to him and his party as prime minister but Vaz appointed Umaro Cissoko Embalo who is outside of African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde. ECOWAS is expected to hold a meeting and take appropriate action in Nigeria from December 12 to 16, Souza said. Anadolu Agency

South Sudan Wants Thousands Sheltering in UN Camps to Leave
Nearly four years after the U.N., in a unique move, threw open its it peacekeepers’ camps to civilians fleeing the violence of South Sudan’s civil war, more than 200,000 people still shelter in the often squalid sites. Now the government is trying to entice them to go home, even as fighting rages on. Although the crowding and filth are well-documented, the U.N. refugee agency says some in the seven U.N.-run camps resort to harmful coping mechanisms like alcohol addiction and survival sex, many people would rather remain than venture into open conflict. They are called Protection of Civilians sites and as they embark on their fifth year of existence, they are an increasing point of contention. South Sudan government officials complain that their citizens are becoming reliant on aid handouts. AP

Broke South Sudan Spends Millions on Surveillance Drones
Cash-strapped South Sudan has spent millions of dollars on Israeli surveillance drones and security cameras aimed at fighting rampant crime in the capital Juba, officials said Monday. The first two drones and 11 cameras will be deployed by Israeli company Global Group, President Salva Kiir said at a launch event. Criminals “can now be traced and they cannot get away with crime,” he said. “All the planes at the airport will be safe. Everybody can be screened wherever he or she is going,” President Kiir said, speaking at the drone control centre at a police training centre. Edward Dimitiri, technology director at the Interior ministry, would not put an exact price tag on the project, which he said was costing “millions of dollars”. AFP

With Algeria’s Future Uncertain, Macron Unlikely to Dwell on past during Visit
French President Emmanuel Macron is likely to use a visit to Algeria on Wednesday to look to the future and turn the page on the colonial past, but stop short of apologising for his country’s actions as some demand. The trauma of the 1954-1962 independence war, in which hundreds of thousands of Algerians were killed and tortured was used on both sides, has left deep scars. Former French leader Francois Hollande sought a more conciliatory tone describing his country’s colonization of Algeria as “brutal and unfair” and Macron is unlikely to go further. With President Abdelaziz Bouteflika rarely seen in public since a 2013 stroke, Macron will focus on the generational shift and importance of enhanced economic and security within that context. Reuters

UN Voices Alarm about Spread of HIV in Egypt
The U.N. is voicing alarm over the spread of HIV in Egypt, where the number of new cases is growing by up to 40 percent a year, and where efforts to combat the epidemic are hampered by social stigma and a lack of funding to address the crisis. The virus that causes AIDS, U.N. officials say, is infecting more young and adolescent people than any other age group. Egypt, home to some 95 million people, ranks behind only Iran, Sudan and Somalia in the Middle East for the rate at which the epidemic is spreading, according to U.N. figures. In Egypt, patients are often jailed on trumped up charges and ostracized by society. The disease is associated with homosexuality, which is not explicitly illegal but is widely seen as a transgression against religion and nature in the conservative, Muslim-majority country. “There is a 25-30 percent increase in incidents every year… It’s is alarming to us because the growth of the epidemic and the discontinuation of interest from donors in funding,” Ahmed Khamis, of the U.N. AIDS agency, told The Associated Press. AP

 



Photo: Adam Jones