Africa Media Review for February 5, 2018

South Sudan Recalls Envoy from US
South Sudan has recalled its ambassador to US as the dispute between Juba and Washington escalates over an arms embargo. President Salva Kiir’s Press Secretary Ateny Wek Ateny told the Africareview on phone that Juba had recalled Mr Garang Diing Akuong for consultations, especially in response to Washington’s arms restrictions to South Sudan. The South Sudan Foreign Affairs ministry also confirmed the matter, saying the nation was looking for ways to address the situation without hurting Washington-Juba relations. South Sudan and the US have been embroiled in a diplomatic row this year after Washington pressured the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Juba over its failure to end the war. Daily Nation

US to Impose Arms Embargo on South Sudan to End Conflict
The United States is set to announce an arms embargo against South Sudan on Friday, three sources familiar with the decision told Reuters, stepping up pressure against President Salva Kiir to end the country’s civil war and humanitarian crisis. The State Department is set to make the announcement later on Friday morning, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The unilateral move would signal that the Trump administration has lost patience with South Sudan’s warring sides after ceasefires have been repeatedly violated. In December 2016, the Obama administration had attempted to convince the United Nations to back an arms embargo against South Sudan. Reuters

EU Sanctions 2 Current, 1 Former South Sudan Officials
The European Union imposed sanctions Friday on three current and former South Sudanese officials implicated in human rights violations and obstructions of their country’s peace process. Former army Chief of Staff General Paul Malong, Deputy Chief of Defense and Inspector General Malek Reuben Riak and Information Minister Michael Makuei Leuth will now be subject to sanctions by all EU member states, effective immediately. The sanctions include assets freezes and a ban on travel to EU countries. Britain’s minister for Africa, Harriett Baldwin, welcomed the sanctions and pledged her country’s support to ending violence in South Sudan. VOA

Kenyan, Ugandan Banks Targeted in Fresh Sanctions on Juba Warlords
Kenyan and Ugandan banks are heading for major international scrutiny as promoters of the South Sudan peace process prepare to impose sanctions against people thought to be stumbling blocks. The sanctions against the spoilers could come as early as this week, when a review of progress in the revitalisation of the 2015 South Sudan peace process starts in Addis Ababa. The sanctions, sources said, would target the country’s top leadership, including the opposition, and would include asset freezes. The leaders are accused of money laundering and international banks will be required to enforce stricter due diligence on financial transactions involving the individuals under restraint. The East African

New Peace Talks Begin on South Sudan’s War as Pressure Grows
A new round of peace talks on South Sudan’s civil war has begun as regional powers seek a solution to a five-year conflict that has caused Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Monday’s talks in Ethiopia come days after the United States announced an arms embargo on South Sudan and urged further punitive measures. The U.S. special adviser on South Sudan, Paul Sutphin, says the arms embargo “makes clear our intents and we also hope will inspire others to take similar steps.” Impatience is growing with South Sudan’s government and rebels, who have blamed each other for violating a Dec. 24 cease-fire within hours. AP

Why UN Forces Are Finding It Hard to Bring Peace to Mali
At the weekly market in Toya, at the edge of the Niger river, just outside the ancient city of Timbuktu, little seems to have changed. Under shelters built from branches and tarpaulins, traders in turbans with leathery faces hawk almost everything imaginable. There are slabs of rock salt, mined deep in the desert, next to crates of Algerian cigarettes. Cheap radios sit beside tins of USAID vegetable oil (the marking “not for sale” roundly ignored). Yet all is not well here. A group of armed UN peacekeepers walks among the shoppers, asking questions. One elderly Tuareg says that just a few days earlier a dozen armed men had wandered into the village, flaunting their weapons. He will not say who they were, but they were not soldiers from the Malian army. “We have fear here. When these men can come and go as they please, there is no security,” he says. When asked if he had ever seen the state’s security forces, he gestures a hand with a large silver ring at the market: “They are never here.” During the past decade Mali has become one of Africa’s most intractable security problems. Once seen as a model democracy, it has been plagued by violence since 2012. The Economist

At Least 26 Killed in Inter-Ethnic Fighting in Eastern DRC
At least 26 people were killed on Saturday in inter-ethnic fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to security sources on site. The sources said the fighting involved members of the Hema and Lendu community in Ituri province, where a Hema village located a few kilometers from the city of Bunia was attacked. Sources from the provincial government of Ituri also confirmed the incident, saying that some villagers were killed and several houses were burned during the attack. Police and soldiers were dispatched to the spot to prevent the spread of violence, which followed days of tension between the two ethnic communities in the region. Xinhua

Burundi Welcomes Refugees Fleeing DR Congo Violence
Thousands of refugees have flooded into Burundi to escape a fresh outbreak of fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UNHCR has praised locals for welcoming their traumatized neighbors. “It’s definitely better here than on the other side of the lake,” a Congolese refugee in the Burundian city of Rumonge tells DW, relief clearly visible on his face. “The Burundians help us, they bring us sweet potato and corn to eat. I’m very grateful for the hospitality.” He fled his homeland in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after clashes between government forces and rebels flared there last week. According to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the violence drove around 8,000 refugees across the border into Burundi within just a few days. Deutsche Welle

Burundi Govt Starts Taxing Public Workers to Fund 2020 Elections
The Burundian government has started ‘taxing’ salaries of civil servants in order to fund the next general elections slated for the year 2020. Workers are losing 10% of their monthly earnings into a fund set aside to ensure polls hold despite a withdrawal of international donor support. The government has previously stated that workers earning between 50,000 and 500,000 Burundian francs ($28-280) would lose 5000 francs ($2.80) of their salary, whiles those earning above a million Burundian francs ($560) will part with one month’s salary a year. Africa News

Jacob Zuma: South Africa President ‘Rejects ANC Request’ to Stand Down
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has defied his party and refused to step down, according to media reports. He and senior members of the African National Congress (ANC) held talks on Sunday but no details of their meeting have been released. Facing corruption allegations, Mr Zuma was replaced as ANC leader in December. Party leaders, who may be trying to oust Mr Zuma before his State of the Nation address later this week, will hold an emergency meeting on Monday. Julius Malema, an opposition leader and former ANC member, said on Twitter that Mr Zuma had been asked to stand down but had refused.  BBC

South Africa’s Zuma Faces New No-Confidence Vote This Month
South Africa’s Jacob Zuma faces a no-confidence vote this month, a fresh attempt to unseat the president by opponents emboldened by splits within his own party. Zuma, who is battling a string of corruption allegations, is in a weakened position since he was replaced as leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party in December by Cyril Ramaphosa, the country’s deputy president. The 75-year-old president is expected to meet the ANC’s six most powerful officials this weekend, but the agenda of the meeting has not been disclosed. Ramaphosa, 65, has been lobbying the ANC’s national executive to force Zuma to resign. Reuters

SA, Rwanda Clash over AU Reforms
Tensions between South Africa and Rwanda over African Union reforms threaten to derail plans to make the continental body more effective and self-sufficient. President Jacob Zuma, as current chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), presented a list of objections to the reform process at the AU heads of state summit in Addis Ababa. This sparked an angry reaction from Rwanda. President Paul Kagame was put in charge of the AU reform process 18 months ago. He is also AU chairperson this year. Zuma told the summit on Monday that SADC objected to the lack of consultation about the reforms, and also complained that a note verbale to the AU Commission about this went unacknowledged. Mail and Guardian

At Least 20 Migrants Found Drowned Near Spanish Enclave of Melilla
At least 20 migrants are reported to have drowned near the Spanish enclave of Melilla on the Moroccan coast. The death toll is likely to rise. The migrants are thought to have died while likely trying to reach Spanish shores by boat from North Africa. Authorities have not confirmed the absolute number of deaths, as there could more people still missing. The Spanish non-profit organization Proactiva Open Arms estimated that 47 migrants had been on the boat. The El Faro de Melilla local newspaper tweeted that a Guardia Civil helicopter and Moroccan security forces were continuing to search for possible survivors. Deutsche Welle

Israel Moves toward Deporting Thousands of African Migrants
Israel is taking steps to deport thousands of African migrants. Israeli immigration authorities have begun issuing deportation orders to asylum seekers from war-torn Eritrea and Sudan. It is the latest step in Israel’s plan to expel about 40,000 African migrants, after they entered the country illegally during the past decade. A man who identified himself as Michael received a deportation notice. It said that by April 1st, he must leave for an unnamed African country, reported to be Rwanda. Michael said it is wrong for Israel to deport refugees, knowing they face certain death back in Africa. But the Israeli government rejects the refugee claim, saying the vast majority are economic migrants seeking a better quality of life. VOA

Oil Tanker with 22 Indian Crewmen Missing off Benin
An oil tanker with a crew of 22 Indian nationals is missing in the Gulf of Guinea off Benin in West Africa. There has been no contact with the Panama-registered Marine Express since Thursday. The incident occurred less than a month after another vessel was taken by pirates in the same area. The International Maritime Bureau said the Benin navy was searching for the Marine Express, which is carrying 13,500 tonnes of gasoline. In January, a ship was hijacked in the same area but was released six days later when a ransom was paid. BBC

Guinea Holds First Local Elections since Military Rule
Guinea began voting on Sunday in the first local elections since the end of the era of military dictatorship following eight years of delays. The municipal council elections, originally scheduled for 2010, have been repeatedly delayed due to a lack of funds, political infighting and the 2013-2016 Ebola crisis. Failing schools, unemployment, electricity shortages and corruption allegations are all election issues in the West African country. “This is the first time I have voted for a mayor. I hope my candidate wins and puts in place his programme to clean up our district, create employment and make our city safe,” said taxi driver Simbaya Aboulaye Soumah in the capital Conakry. AFP

CDC to Cut by 80 Percent Efforts to Prevent Global Disease Outbreak
Four years after the United States pledged to help the world fight infectious-disease epidemics such as Ebola, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is dramatically downsizing its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money is running out, U.S. government officials said. The CDC programs, part of a global health security initiative, train front-line workers in outbreak detection and work to strengthen laboratory and emergency response systems in countries where disease risks are greatest. The goal is to stop future outbreaks at their source. Most of the funding comes from a one-time, five-year emergency package that Congress approved to respond to the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa. About $600 million was awarded to the CDC to help countries prevent infectious-disease threats from becoming epidemics. The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones