Africa Media Review for February 3, 2017

Etienne Tshisekedi: DR Congo Mourns Opposition Leader
Supporters of Etienne Tshisekedi, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s veteran opposition leader, have gathered in the capital, Kinshasa, to express their shock at his death. A prominent opponent of successive leaders, he was due to head a transitional council under a deal for President Joseph Kabila to step down. The 84-year-old died in Belgium where he went last week for medical checks. The information minister said he would be given a state funeral. BBC

Militants Raid Kenyan Police Camp in Mandera
Suspected Al-Shabaab militants have attacked a police camp in Kenya’s northeast border county of Mandera. Over 20 gunmen are said to have raided the Administration Police camp in Arabia at 1.25am (2225 GMT) on Thursday. Some 10 officers are believed to have been in the camp when the attack occured but Lafey Deputy County Commissioner Eric Oronyi said he could not give the exact number. “We have lost no officer but one student was hit by a stray bullet during the incident from their family house,” he said. Speaking to the Nation on phone, Mr Oronyi said the attackers made away with a police Toyota Land Cruiser, a motorcycle, three rifles, bullets and four voter registration kits belonging to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The East African

Fresh Fighting Flares up in South Sudan
Renewed fighting has once again been reported around South Sudan’s second largest city, Malakal. The capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile region is not far from the northern border with the Republic of Sudan. Both the United Nations and South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) confirmed the fighting. Riek Machar’s rebels and the government are blaming each other for initiating the latest unrest. “The rebels had been trying to provoke the SPLA all this time because the SPLA has been given instruction not to wage offensives against the rebel forces,” said military spokesman Colonel Santo Domic Chol. However, rebel spokesman William Gatjiath Deng said that government forces attacked them on Tuesday. The two sides are fighting to control the city. Neither the rebels nor the military were able to confirm the number of casualties. Deutsche Welle

Zimbabwe Activist Pastor Charged with Anti-government Plot
A Zimbabwean pastor at the centre of a protest movement against President Robert Mugabe was charged on Thursday with plotting to overthrow the government and insulting the national flag after he called for demonstrations last year. Evan Mawarire, who was arrested on Wednesday on his return to Zimbabwe from the United States, faced the same charges last July but the magistrate court then freed the preacher because police did not follow proper procedure when arresting him. A police statement seen by Reuters said Mawarire incited the public to “revolt against a constitutionally elected government” between July and December by circulating videos on social media urging people to demonstrate against Mugabe’s administration. Reuters

UN Court Will Settle Kenya-Somalia Maritime Dispute
The UN International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday said it had jurisdiction to hear a case about a maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia concerning a stretch of land in the Indian Ocean within reach of gas and oil. Kenya had questioned whether the court had a mandate to hear the case while the two countries were still in negotiations. Kenya sent Attorney General Githu Muigai to The Hague — where the court is located — to convince it that Somalia’s application should be thrown out. However, Judge Ronny Abraham, president of the ICJ, ruled that Somalia could continue on its quest to claim the stretch of land in the contested area. Kenya’s attorney general was quick to issue a statement acknowledging the ruling: “The government of Kenya recognizes the decision of the court that it has jurisdiction to delimit the maritime boundary dispute with Somalia. Anadolu Agency

For Stranded Somali Refugees, ‘Friend of America’ Is a Deadly Label
Ismail Ali Ibrahim gave away everything he owned: his bed, his sheets, his shirts, his pots, his pans, his plates, even his house. He didn’t care. He was going to America. But this week, he remained 7,000 miles away, marooned with more than 100 other Somali refugees in a spartan transit center in central Nairobi that smelled of nervous sweat. Mr. Ibrahim and many of his displaced comrades had been waiting more than two decades to be resettled in the United States and were supposed to fly to America this week. But their hopes were crushed by President Trump’s executive order to freeze the refugee flow into the United States for at least four months. More than 25,000 refugees from Somalia, one of the poorest, hungriest, war-torn countries on earth, were in the pipeline to be resettled in the United States. The New York Times

Exercise Cutlass Express 2017 Begins
Maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe and the United States, as well as several international organizations, began the sixth iteration of the annual multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express on 30 January in Mauritius. Cutlass Express 2017, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa (NAVAF), is designed to assess and improve combined maritime law enforcement capacity and promote national and regional security in East Africa, inform planning and operations. “The Cutlass Express exercise is a collaboration between…partners to develop their capability of controlling the waters around their countries, exercise law enforcement, reduce piracy, illicit trafficking, and promote commerce and trade,” said Capt. Geoffrey Colpitts, Exercise Cutlass Express 2017 Director. DefenceWeb

Five More Libyan Soldiers Killed as Benghazi Siege Continues
Another five soldiers from the Libyan National Army (LNA) have been killed, and more than 15 wounded, as the bloody siege of an apartment building in the Ganfouda area of Benghazi in eastern Libya continues. Holed up inside the building are Islamic State (IS)-affiliated extremists who have been battling LNA forces from inside the building since last week, the Libya Herald reported. The bloody clashes in Ganfouda are part of the Battle of Benghazi, one of the many civil battles raging across Libya since former dictator Muammar Gadaffi was overthrown and killed in 2011. The battle, which began in 2014, pits the Islamic Fundamentalist Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries and the IS against the LNA. Last week, the LNA declared that Ganfouda had been flushed clean of the extremists. IOL News

Migrant Deal With Libya Within Reach
A migrant deal between the European Union and Libya seems closer after leaders of the EU institutions met with the Libyan prime minister on Thursday. Details of the deal, proposed by the EU last week, were discussed ahead of Friday’s informal EU summit in Malta. The main discussion point at the summit will be how to control migration from North Africa into Europe, before spring approaches, when the numbers are expected to increase. The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, will propose “additional concrete and operational measures” to EU heads of states on Friday to stop the trafficking and smuggling networks. Tusk says a deal between the EU and Libya is within reach. VOA

Uganda Rules Out Military Intervention in South Sudan
Imposing an external “trusteeship” government on South Sudan to try to end a three-year ethnic civil war and potential genocide in the world’s youngest nation would only make its security situation worse, Uganda said on Thursday. Patience towards President Salva Kiir’s government in Juba has worn thin as the refugee numbers have grown, fuelling talk in international policy circles – including the opinion pages of the New York Times – that “trusteeship” is a viable solution. However, Ugandan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem rejected the notion, saying such interference would be opposed even by Kiir’s sworn enemy, Riek Machar, currently under house arrest in South Africa. “I don’t think it’s a good idea,” said Oryem, the principal foreign policy voice in Uganda, one of South Sudan’s most powerful neighbors. Reuters

President Kiir Dismisses Claims of Juba-Egypt Conspiracy
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has dismissed recent media reports alleging that Juba’s diplomatic ties with neighbouring Ethiopia have stalled following his visit to Egypt in early January this year. In a statement broadcasted by the state-owned television on Wednesday evening, President Kiir said that there was no tiff between the two countries and that his Cairo visit was aimed at deepening bilateral relations with the North African state. “The rumours continue to circulate that I visited Egypt to conspire against Ethiopia. That the Egyptian president visited Uganda to conspire against Ethiopia and that the Ugandan president visited Juba to do the same. These rumours are false,” he said. President Kiir said he held talks with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn on the sidelines of the just concluded African Union Summit in Addis Ababa on January 30 and 31. The East African

Somalia On The Brink Of Famine, U.N. Warns
The United Nations is warning that Somalia could soon be facing a famine without urgent international action, raising concerns about a repeat of 2011’s famine which killed more than a quarter of a million people. The country is in a severe drought after two seasons of weak rainfall, the U.N. said in a statement. “In the worst affected areas, inadequate rainfall and lack of water has wiped out crops and killed livestock, while communities are being forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive,” the U.N. says. “If we do not scale up the drought response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key State-building and peacebuilding initiatives,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq. NPR

Mohammed Goes To the Mountain
[…] Despite the king’s assurances, though, not everyone is convinced and many expect Morocco has not had a change of heart so much as it has had a change of tactics – a decision to work from within rather than from without, to expel the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). In doing so, it appears to have out-manoeuvred its enemies, including South Africa. South African officials were saying until recently that the return of Morocco was too big an issue to be dealt with this week, and would require a special dedicated summit during the next few months. That would have given Algeria – the Polisario’s greatest ally, and Morocco’s implacable rival over the issue – South Africa and several other countries time to build their case that Morocco should give guarantees that it would withdraw from Western Sahara and recognise the SADR before it rejoined. To these countries, this is an emotionally and ideologically charged issue; the last remaining decolonisation project on the continent. But Morocco moved fast before the summit. It needed a simple majority to rejoin, but in fact it persuaded a hefty 39 of the AU’s then 54 member states to write to outgoing AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma supporting its unconditional re-admission. ISS

Uganda’s Health Pyramid
Living in a poor country with one of the worst doctor-patient ratios in the world – about one for every 24,000 people – it’s perhaps no surprise that many Ugandans are tempted by alternative remedies, even though there’s often little evidence to support the claims made about their efficacy in treating or preventing disease. But the phenomenon does beg many questions, not least of which are who is really benefiting from the sale of these products and how exactly are they marketed? We’d heard reports about one particularly controversial business, a complex multi-level marketing scheme run in Uganda under the aegis of a Chinese company called Tiens, which produces food supplements. Its products, we’d been told, were being inappropriately sold as medications – in some cases for very serious diseases. We had also heard disturbing claims that its sales representatives, or “distributors” as they are known, were being invited to invest large sums of money in Tiens products, when in reality there was little chance of most of them ever making the kind of dazzling returns that the company promised. Al Jazeera

Psychiatric Patient Deaths Spark Scandal in South Africa
The deaths of nearly 100 psychiatric patients last year in South Africa’s most developed province have prompted anger at government officials who transferred the patients to non-governmental groups allegedly operating with invalid licenses. While President Jacob Zuma on Thursday expressed condolences to the families of the dead, some opposition leaders said the president was ultimately responsible for the scandal. They called for the resignation of David Makhura, the premier of Gauteng province. The Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s main opposition party, planned a candlelight vigil late Thursday outside Makhura’s office in Johannesburg. The province’s top health official has already quit. AP

Why is Egypt’s Military Entering the Pharmaceutical Industry?
The Egyptian government gave the military a license to establish a pharmaceuticals company. According to the prime mister’s decree, the National Authority for Military Production, which is affiliated to the Egyptian Armed Forces, will establish the Egyptian National Company for Pharmaceutical Products. The announcement came after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called upon the military to play a bigger role in major infrastructure projects and in the distribution of subsidized goods. While this step could be seen as a solution to the shortage of a large number of drugs and the soaring prices of available ones, it also heats the already-existing debate on the army’s control of the Egyptian economy.  Ala Arabiya

Malaria-carrying Mosquitoes Becoming Resistant to Bed Nets in Southern Africa
Malaria-carrying mosquitoes are becoming resistant to the insecticide used in bed nets to prevent the disease. Researchers say it is important to stay ahead of the resistance to avoid what they are calling a public health catastrophe. Bed nets treated with inexpensive pyrethroid insecticides are the main defense against biting, malaria-carrying mosquitoes, and they have significantly cut down on the number of cases. The World Health Organization reports malaria infected an estimated 212 million people in 2015, killing some 429,000 of them. That reflects a 21 percent drop in the incidence of between 2010 and 2015. But a new study, published in the journal PLoS Genetics, found that the primary mosquito that harbors the parasite in southern Africa, Anopheles funestus, is rapidly becoming resistant to the insecticide. In at least one country, Mozambique, researchers discovered that 100 percent of A. funestus remained alive after direct exposure to the chemical. VOA

Three Tonnes of Pangolin Scales Seized at Thai Airport
Thai authorities on Thursday displayed to journalists nearly 3 tonnes of scales from pangolins, the world’s most poached animal, seized in anti-smuggling operations since December. The scales, worth more than $800,000, were shipped from Africa and confiscated by police, customs and wildlife officials at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. Thai customs chief Kulit Sombatsiri told reporters that an estimated 6,000 pangolins were killed to produce almost 3 tonnes of scales, which are used in traditional medicines in Asia. A ban on global trade of pangolins took effect in January after tougher international protection was agreed last September for the eight species of the mammal, which curls up in a ball when threatened by predators. Like other illicit wildlife commodity pipelines, such as elephant ivory and rhino horn, Africa is the main source of pangolin supply, while the demand comes from Asia. The Telegraph



Photo: Adam Jones