Africa Media Review for February 1, 2018

Terrorism Study Center Established in Chad
A centre dedicated to the study and prevention of violent extremism, and the de-radicalization of jihadists, was on Tuesday inaugurated in N’djamena, the Chadian capital. A group of independent Chadian intellectuals are working on this project. This group wants to contribute to the de-radicalization of jihadist and especially to prevent extremism among the youth and young children. An Islamic scholar and socio-antropologist at the Cameroon Institute of International Relations, Ahmed Ayong has hailed the initiative. “It’s a very good initiative, people think that terrorism can only be fought with weapons, yet it’s an ideology. It’s an initiative that needs to be encouraged. Countries must commit themselves to supporting Chad in this initiative”,Ahmed said. Africa News

ANC to Discuss South African Power Shift with Zuma This Week
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress wants a speedy transition of power following its election of a new leadership and will discuss the matter with President Jacob Zuma this week, a top party official said. The rand gained. “We are aware there are a lot of people who want the new leader of the ANC taking power,” Paul Mashatile, the party’s treasurer-general, said Wednesday at a conference in Cape Town. “It is going to happen. It is not a matter of booting him out.” Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected leader of the ANC last month, replacing Zuma. While Zuma’s second and final term as president is due to end around mid-2019, his immersion in a succession of scandals has eroded support for the ANC and led to calls from within the party’s ranks for his early removal. Bloomberg

South Africa’s Zuma Asks Prosecutors to Drop Graft Charges
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has provided arguments on why he should not be prosecuted for corruption, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Thursday, as pressure mounts for the scandal-plagued president to step down. Zuma, who has faced and denied numerous corruption allegations since taking office, submitted documents on Wednesday night to the NPA providing reasons why 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2 billion) arms deal arranged in the late 1990s should not be reinstated. The NPA extended the deadline to the end of January for Zuma to make his representations before deciding whether to proceed against him.  VOA

Thinking of Another Arab Spring? Forget It, Egypt’s El-Sisi Says
Egypt’s president, in a thinly veiled warning to critics, vowed there won’t be another uprising against the government on his watch, and that he’d be prepared to pay with his life to make sure that doesn’t happen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s talk turned tough a day after opposition leaders called for a boycott of the March election, in which he is competing against a supporter after other candidates were disqualified or dropped out. The price for Egypt’s security and stability “is my life and the life of the army,” he said at the inauguration of the giant Zohr gas field. “The things that happened seven or eight years ago won’t be repeated in Egypt,” he added, referring to the 2011 popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak after 29 years in power. Bloomberg

Machar Unveils Position Paper on Peace Revitalization
South Sudan’s main rebel leader Riek Machar has unveiled a position paper on the revitalization process of the 2015 peace agreement, demanding a transitional unity government for 27 months. The position paper dated 26 January and seen by Radio Tamazuj calls for reconstitution of the current transitional unity government, national parliament, cabinet and the Judiciary. The opposition leader said parties should revert to 10 states as per the 2015 peace accord. According to Machar’s position paper, the president will be selected by SPLM party led by Kiir; the first vice president will be selected by his SPLM-IO group while the vice president will be selected by other opposition parties. Radio Tamazuj

Diaspora Voices Missing in South Sudan Dialogue, Activists Say
Activists are criticizing a South Sudan peace initiative for leaving a major group out of the discussions. The initiative, known as the High Level Revitalization Forum, is aimed at reviving South Sudan’s stalled 2015 peace agreement, and it is supposed to draw together a wide range of voices, experiences and positions. Reuben Garang, a Canadian-South Sudanese and president of the Coalition of Advocates for South Sudan (CASS), said the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a regional trade group that endorsed creation of the forum, should include a representative from the South Sudanese diaspora in the next phase of the discussions in Addis Ababa. “We need to be at the table. We have never been represented since the negotiations started,” said Garang. VOA

UN Agency to Launch South Sudan Refugee Response Plan
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will Thursday launch a regional refugee response plan (RRRP) in Nairobi, an appeal for fresh funding for the South Sudanese refugees. The UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi visited Uganda this week to access the situation and met with refugees hosted in the northern part of the country. “The High Commissioner is here to access the emergency response and proceed to Kenya where he will launch the Regional Refugee Response Plan for South Sudan on 1st February,” an official from UNHCR in Kampala told The EastAfrican. Uganda is providing sanctuary to some 1.4 million refugees and is receiving up to 500 refugees, mainly from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, a day, according to the UN. The East African

Sudan’s Rebel Movement Extends Ceasefire in South Kordofan, Blue Nile Areas
The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector on Tuesday announced an extension of the unilateral ceasefire at South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas for four month starting on Feb. 1. The sector’s leader Abdel Aziz al-Hilu said the move is a step towards opportunity for a peaceful solution to Sudan’s crisis. He directed all the movement’s army units to commit to the extension of cessation of hostilities. The Sudanese government and the SPLM/northern sector have been extending the ceasefire, from time to time, at South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas. Xinhua

Freed from Libyan Jails, Frustrated Migrants Pose Challenge to New Gambia
Jobless, restless and frustrated, 24-year-old Saikou Jammeh persuaded his father to sell the family home and give up his life savings to pay for the journey from Gambia to Europe. Jammeh saw no future for himself in Gambia, a tiny impoverished country on West Africa’s coast, so he joined an exodus of young men willing to sacrifice everything to leave. But after being robbed, beaten, and locked in a Libyan prison for several months, Jammeh found himself back where he started — in Gambia with no job prospects and empty pockets. “I felt abandoned by the government,” he said on a busy street in Churchill’s Town, a suburb of the capital Banjul. “I was just sitting, wondering what to do.”  VOA

Togo Healthcare Workers Join Strike as Protests Mount
Togo’s government was facing fresh turbulence on Wednesday as healthcare workers went on strike, joining thousands of demonstrators holding opposition protests on the streets. The two-day nationwide strike was called by the National Union of Hospital Practitioners of Togo (SYNPHOT) who are demanding better equipment and more nursing staff. “The strike is well-followed throughout the country. We will take stock tomorrow evening to know what to do in the coming days,” SYNPHOT secretary-general Atchi Walla told AFP. At Sylvanus Olympio university hospital, the country’s largest health care centre, several departments were closed, according to an AFP journalist. AFP

UN Launches Appeal for over 200 000 Displaced by Boko Haram
The UN refugee agency appealed on Wednesday for $157m to help over a quarter of a million people affected by the insurgency led by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. The UNHCR, acting with more than 40 other agencies, said it needed to help 208 000 Nigerian refugees and 75 000 of their hosts in Niger, Cameroon and Chad, where infrastructure has been strained by the influx. Since 2013, the Boko Haram conflict has internally displaced another 2.4 million people in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, it said. “The Boko Haram crisis lingers on and is far from over,” said UNHCR deputy high commissioner Kelly Clements while launching the appeal. AFP

Al-Shabaab: Inside the Ranks of Women Fighters
A combination of family ties, the desire to avenge ill-treated loved ones and economic distress is driving some young Kenyan women into the arms of Somali terrorist group Al Shabaab. Once recruited, the women play various roles in the violent extremist group as recruiters, spies, cooks and cleaners, according to a report by the Institute for Security Studies in Africa. Researchers interviewed 108 women from communities in Nairobi, Mombasa, Garissa, Diani, Kwale and Kisumu, which have been affected by violent extremism. They also spoke to women who had returned from Al-Shabaab camps, civil society and community leaders and organisers, as well as government officials and donors. The East African

Kenyan Opposition Figure Alleges Gun and Grenade Attack on Home
A senior opposition leader in Kenya has said unknown gunmen tried to kill him at his home in the early hours of Wednesday, raising the stakes after months of political turmoil. Kalonzo Musyoka, a former vice-president, said gunshots were fired and a grenade detonated at about 1am in what he described as “an assassination attempt” at his residence in the capital, Nairobi. The alleged attack came after tens of thousands of people defied the authorities to attend a ceremony to swear in Raila Odinga, a veteran opposition leader, as “president of the people” in Uhuru Park in the centre of Nairobi on Tuesday. Musyoka was to take the oath as Odinga’s deputy president in the mock inauguration but did not attend the meeting. The Guradian

New Frontex Operation in the Mediterranean to Help Detect Potential Foreign Fighters
Europe’s border agency is to launch a new naval operation in the Mediterranean on Thursday to combat the threat of Islamist terrorists trying to reach the continent from North Africa. There are fears that after the defeat of the Islamic State in its “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, extremists could try to infiltrate Europe to carry out revenge attacks. Frontex, the EU’s border and coast guard agency, announced on Wednesday that its new operation would include “the collection of intelligence and other steps aimed at detecting foreign fighters and other terrorist threats.”  The Telegraph

Interpol Circulates List of Suspected Isis Fighters Believed to Be in Italy
Interpol has circulated a list of 50 suspected Islamic State fighters who it believes have recently landed in Italy by boat, and may be attempting to reach other European countries. The list, obtained by the Guardian, was drafted by the general secretariat of the international police organisation. It was sent on 29 November to the Italian interior ministry, which subsequently distributed it to national anti-terrorism agencies across Europe. The suspects listed are all Tunisian nationals, some of whom were identified by officials when they landed in Italy. The document shows their first names, surnames and dates of births. Around 5,500 Tunisians were believed to have travelled to Isis territory in Syria and Iraq to fight for the terror group, according to UN estimates – more than any other country. Now, after the collapse of its “caliphate,” governments have expressed concern that former fighters may try to mount attacks in Europe.  The Guardian

France’s Macron Visits Tunisia to ‘Support Transition’
French President Emmanuel Macron is to visit Tunisia on Wednesday to “support the democratic transition” of a country still battered by economic stagnation and social unrest seven years after its revolution. His arrival comes after several hundred people were arrested in Tunisia this month in protests fueled by unemployment, corruption and austerity measures in the 2018 budget. The French presidency said his visit, starting on Wednesday afternoon, aims “to support the Tunisian democratic experience, the only successful transition experience after the Arab Spring” of 2011. Macron is to address the People’s Assembly on Thursday as well as meeting officials and civil society leaders and members of the public. AFP

Land Invasions ‘Halted’ in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe has effectively halted land invasions‚ a major climb-down from a policy that contributed to human rights abuses‚ lawlessness and economic meltdown. During President Robert Mugabe’s era‚ there was a policy within Zanu PF and government to get rid of the last remaining white commercial farmers‚ replacing them with landless locals. But the first signs of change emerged when Robert Smart returned to his Lesbury Farm 200 kilometres east of Harare in December. He returned to the country escorted by the army which had just led a successful mission to persuade former president Robert Mugabe to step aside. This was followed by a meeting between new deputy minister of finance Terrence Mukupe and white commercial farmers who fled to Zambia at the height of the chaotic land invasions. The farmers declared their interest to return home. Times Live

Roads, Trains to Link Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan have agreed to establish railways and roads to connect them to each other, Khartoum’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said yesterday. The presidents of the three countries met on the sidelines of the 28th ordinary AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday where they “agreed to establish railways and roads connecting the three countries,” Ghandour said in a press statement. They also agreed to establish a joint financial fund to support these projects, he added. Remarking on the talks regarding Ethiopia’s dam, Ghandour said a joint political, security and technical committee which includes the ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation, as well as directors of the security and intelligence services from the three countries will be formed in order to provide technical studies for the heads of the three countries related to filling the dam’s lake and how it will operate in a way that does not affect Egypt and Sudan’s share of Nile water. Middle East Monitor

Namibia Suspends Foreign Travel for Public Officials to Cut Costs
Namibia’s President Hage Geingob has banned all foreign travel by public officials until at least the end of February in a bid to rein in government expenditure, the presidency said on Wednesday. Namibia’s government is facing a severe cash crunch that has resulted in budget cuts across ministries as the economy struggles to recover from deep contractions in the construction, uranium and diamond industries. “No request for outbound travel by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other Political Office Bearers will be considered until after the end of February,” a presidency statement said. Reuters

Letter from Trump Prompts African Leaders to Refrain from Criticizing Him
African leaders say they have decided to refrain from issuing a resolution to criticize Donald Trump’s alleged reference to their nations as “s*hole countries” because the U.S. president sent them a letter expressing respect for the continent. The leaders who met at an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital were initially set to demand an apology from Trump over the remark reported by sources at a meeting on immigration with him this month. Trump denies making the comment. Reports of the comment touched a nerve because they come on top of decisions by the Trump administration, particularly on visa restrictions, that many Africans say unfairly penalize the continent. As the summit was being held at ministerial level, the gathering drafted a resolution calling on Trump to “publicly apologize to all Africans”. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones