Africa Media Review for February 16, 2018

Ethiopian Prime Minister Resigns after Mass Protests
Ethiopia’s prime minister has submitted a letter of resignation in a surprise move that comes amid protracted anti-government protests. The resignation of Hailemariam Desalegn, who has been in power since 2012, was first reported by the state-affiliated broadcaster Fana on Thursday and follows a nationwide state of emergency last year. His stepping down is unprecedented in the east African country. Hundreds of people have died in violence sparked initially by an urban development plan for the capital, Addis Ababa. The unrest spread in 2015 and 2016 as demonstrations against political restrictions and human rights abuses broke out. “Unrest and a political crisis have led to the loss of lives and displacement of many,” Hailemariam said in a televised address to the nation. “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.”  The Guardian

South Africa Parliament Elects Ramaphosa to Succeed Zuma
Less than 24 hours after Jacob Zuma’s late-night resignation, South Africa has a new president: Cyril Ramaphosa, a successful businessman and stalwart of the African National Congress party, who was instrumental in the push to force Zuma to resign. Ramaphosa was sworn in Thursday in Cape Town, after he was nominated in parliament without opposition. The occasion came just over 12 hours after Zuma’s sudden concession to his party’s mounting insistence that he step down before his term officially ends in mid-2019. VOA

New South Africa Leader Faces Old Question: Is There Will to Fight Corruption?
As Parliament took just eight minutes on Thursday to elect Cyril Ramaphosa as South Africa’s new president, the governing African National Congress rushed to put the era of Jacob Zuma behind it, showing little appetite to grapple with the central problem afflicting the party, and the country — a culture of corruption. Mr. Zuma, who was found guilty of violating the Constitution and led a nine-year presidency rife with corruption, may have come to symbolize misconduct to most South Africans. But corruption permeates the government, and it is unclear whether the country can move on without first looking back. During brief comments on Thursday after his election, Mr. Ramaphosa said he would serve “with humility, with faithfulness and with dignity as well” — words that drew an immediate contrast with Mr. Zuma’s style and conduct. The New York Times

Egypt Says 53 Militants Killed in Massive Security Operation
Egyptian security forces killed 53 militants since the beginning of a massive security operation, mainly in restive northern Sinai Peninsula, the epicenter of a years-long Islamic insurgency, the armed forces said on Thursday. Spokesperson Colonel Tamer el-Rifaai said that forces also arrested five militants and 680 others including “criminal elements” and people suspected of supporting militants. He spoke at a press conference in the presence of senior military and Interior Ministry officials. El-Rifaai also said that forces found and destroyed hundreds of militant hideouts, targets and explosive devices. AP

Egypt’s Al-Sisi Meets with CENTCOM Chief in Cairo
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday met with Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), to discuss means of enhancing military cooperation between the two countries. According to a statement released by the Egyptian presidency after the meeting, the two men also discussed recent developments — on both the military and political levels — in the Middle East region. In his talks with Votel, al-Sisi stressed the importance of Egypt’s longstanding “strategic partnership” with the U.S., especially in terms of military cooperation. Anadolu Agency

Can Cairo Talks Succeed in Uniting Libya’s Divided Armed Forces?
The Egyptian initiative to unite the Libyan military is almost complete after several meetings were held between Libyan military officials who split up following the outbreak of the revolution in February 2011 and the death of Moammar Gadhafi. The initiative aims at laying out the structure of the Libyan unified army. Meanwhile, there are concerns that the Libyan army might take control of the civil power, or that the relationship between the military institution and the civil power will not be clearly defined. Libya has been plagued by division since anti-government protests began in 2011. Three governments were formed: the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, the interim Libyan government led by Abdullah al-Thani and the rescue government known as the General National Congress (GNC) led by Khalifa al-Ghawil. Al Monitor

Kenya: Three Teachers Killed in Wajir Shabaab Attack
Three non-local teachers were on Friday morning killed while another was injured when suspected Al-Shabaab militants attacked Qarsa Primary School in Wajir County. The injured teacher escaped with a bullet wound in his hand in the 1am attack. The injured teacher was treated at Wajir Referral hospital and discharged. Among the dead is a man and his wife. Wajir County Police Commander Stephen Ng’etich confirmed the incident, adding that they had sent security officers to the area to assess the situation. “Early this morning we received reports that there was an attack in Qarsa Primary School where three teachers lost their lives,” he said. Daily Nation

Kenya Court Rules Deportation of Key Opposition Figure Illegal
Kenya’s High Court has declared the recent deportation of a prominent opposition politician illegal. The ruling is expected to further ratchet up tensions between the government’s executive branch and the judiciary. Delivering his ruling Thursday, Kenyan high court justice Luka Kimaru termed the deportation of a prominent lawyer and opposition politician, Miguna Miguna, illegal. He ordered authorities to present Miguna’s Kenyan passport in court within seven days. The Interior Ministry quickly hit back with a statement, saying it would appeal Thursday’s ruling. The Interior Ministry rescinded Miguna’s Kenyan citizenship last week and alleges that he acquired his passport illegally. VOA

Zanzibaris Challenge Union with Tanzania in Regional Court
Separatist campaigners on the East African island of Zanzibar have appealed to a regional court to challenge the legality of its union with mainland Tanzania, they said on Thursday. Rashid Salum Adiy, head of the Zanzibar Rights of Freedom and Autonomy (Zarfa) organisation, a group not recognised by the Tanzanian authorities, claims to have the backing of 40 000 supporters for his appeal. Adiy, who has organised protests in the past denouncing the union between Zanzibar and Tanzania, argues the independence-era union agreement favours the mainland at the expense of the Indian Ocean archipelago. He has filed an appeal to the East African Court of Justice to challenge the legality of agreement. AFP

18 Killed as Gunmen Attack Village in NW Nigeria
At least 18 people have been killed following an attack by gunmen in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Zamfara, local police said on Thursday. Bandits ambushed a group of local hunters in Birani village located in Zurmi area of Zamfara, leading to the fatality on both sides on Wednesday, Muhammad Shehu, a police spokesman told reporters in the state capital of Gusau. Shehu said only 18 bodies have been found so far, hinting that more people might have died from the attack. “It is believed that the bandits took away their own members that were killed,” he said. Xinhua

The Nigerian Air Force and COIN Operations
Nigeria has been trying to contain the insurgency confronting it with all possible means. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has started playing a major role in this mission and has intensified air operations in North Eastern Nigeria. NAF operations from December 20-22, 2017 neutralized scores of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT) in Tumbun Rago, a settlement in the northern fringes of Borno state, bordering Lake Chad. The operations started with an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission. This was followed by air interdiction to strike the identified targets. Then came Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) missions after the strikes to assess the nature and extent of damage to the targets. Finally, follow on mop up operations by helicopter gunships at multiple locations enhanced the degree of target neutralisation. DefenceWeb

Sierra Leone Holds Presidential Debate Ahead of March 7 Polls
The top six candidates in Sierra Leone’s March 7 presidential elections held a debate on Thursday evening in the capital Freetown. The debate offered the candidates the opportunity to woo voters at a time when political campaigning across the West African country is at its peak. The elections body has disclosed that there are a total of sixteen parties that had filed to contest the presidency. The other ten parties had earlier attempted to place an injunction on the debate citing discrimination. All six parties had their registered candidates showing up at the event. Questions fielded by ace journalist who works for the BBC centered around human development, the economy and national cohesion. Africa News

Jihadists Close Mali Schools as Revolt against State Intensifies
When Islamist militants came to his village school and threatened to kill the teachers if they didn’t leave, Moussa Diallo wasn’t surprised. “They’d already been to nearby villages,” Diallo, a 33-year-old teacher, said in the central Malian town of Sevare, where he has lived since the gunmen’s visit. “They said they don’t want French schools anymore. They want Koranic schools.” Almost 400 schools have closed in central Mali since Islamist militants expanded their area of operation from the desert north, where they settled in the aftermath of a 2012 insurgency, toward the more densely populated regions of Segou and Mopti. Scores of soldiers and United Nations peacekeepers have been killed in ambushes in an area that has a population of 6 million. Today, there are more attacks in the Mopti and Segou regions than in the five northern regions combined. Bloomberg

U.S. Concerned by Continued Arrest of Sudanese Opponents and Activists
The United States embassy in Khartoum said alarmed by the continued arrest of Sudanese opponents and activists following a series of protests against the decision to cut subsidies on basic commodities. ” The United States Embassy in Sudan is deeply concerned by the continued arrests and detentions of hundreds of political leaders, activists and ordinary citizens, ” said a statement issued by the embassy on Thursday. The mission further said that many of the detainees are held in “inhumane and degrading conditions, and without access to lawyers or family’’. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Rejects Proposition to Appointment Four Vice-Presidents
A South Sudanese presidential advisor on Thursday has rejected a proposal by the IGAD mediation team providing to appoint four deputies for President Salva Kiir, saying it would make the decision-making process difficult. “It is unheard before that one country will have to have four deputy presidents,” said presidential adviser Tut Kew Gatluak who brushed aside the proposed power-sharing deal. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwe Opposition Announces New Leader after Tsvangirai’s Death
Nelson Chamisa will run as the opposition’s presidential candidate in Zimbabwe’s elections later this year, the Movement for Democratic Change announced on Thursday, after the death of stalwart leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai, who was a thorn in the side of recently ousted leader Robert Mugabe for decades, died on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. The MDC “noted the power vacuum created by the departure of our iconic leader Morgan Tsvangirai and unanimously agreed that Nelson Chamisa will be the acting President of the party for the next 12 months,” MDC vice chairman Morgan Komichi told dpa. “This means that he is the party’s presidential candidate in the forthcoming election,” said Komichi. IOL News

Tutu Quits as Oxfam Ambassador over Aid Agency’s Sex Scandal
South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu stepped down as an ambassador for Oxfam on Thursday, citing disappointment at the British aid agency’s embroilment in a sex scandal involving staff in Haiti after a massive 2010 earthquake. The 86-year-old Nobel Peace laureate pulled out of public life in 2010 due to his advancing years but had continued to represent Oxfam even in retirement. “The Archbishop is deeply disappointed by allegations of immorality and possible criminality involving humanitarian workers linked to the charity,” a statement from his office said. Tutu was also saddened that the allegations would tarnish the good work achieved by many thousands of people working for Oxfam, it added. Reuters

Weah Orders Review of Liberia’s Concession Agreements
Liberia’s new President George Weah has ordered a review of concessions entered into by previous administrations, the presidency said in a statement on Wednesday. The statement said a committee would “review and ensure that all contracts entered into by the government of Liberia and concessionaires are executed according to agreed principles in accordance with the laws of Liberia.” The nine-member panel will also determine if the government’s partners in those agreements had been fully implemented and met their performance requirements. During the 12-year rule of Weah’s predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the government attracted around $15 billion in foreign investment, according to a finance ministry report. Africa News



Photo: Adam Jones