Africa Media Review for January 30, 2018

Humanitarian Costs of South Sudan Conflict Continue to Escalate
South Sudan has now been at war for five of its seven years of existence, and there is no end in sight. This internal conflict, which has been raging since 2013, has already driven 4.5 million people from their homes—the same number of southern Sudanese displaced during the entire three-decade Sudan civil war. The humanitarian crisis is entirely manmade, with displacement escalating in tandem with increases in violence. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

UN Blames Uganda, Kenya for Fueling Conflict in South Sudan
A U.N. official has intensified the call for an end to violence in South Sudan, following sustained diplomatic pressure from the African Union on South Sudanese leaders. Adama Dieng is the U.N. secretary-general’s special adviser for the prevention of genocide. He told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program Monday that Uganda and Kenya are contributing to the conflict. “Although the responsibility is to protect the population in South Sudan, the timely responsibility lies with the South Sudan government; the responsibility to prevent atrocities is regional and international,” Dieng said. He said large quantities of weapons and ammunition are flowing into South Sudan through Kenya and Uganda. VOA

South Sudan Rebel Group Releases 15 Prisoners
A South Sudanese rebel group said on Monday it had released 15 army soldiers it had been holding to The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in line with a ceasefire agreed by the government and rebel groups last month. SPLA-IO spokesman Lam Paul Gabriel told Reuters the rebel group had released the prisoners on Sunday and that it was collecting names of prisoners of war from battlefields across the Equatoria region, which borders Uganda. More prisoners will be released in the coming days, he said. International monitors have said the truce negotiated by the East African regional bloc IGAD in December — which included a commitment to release detainees — was violated within hours. Reuters

UN Chief Met Sudan’s President Who Is Accused of Genocide
The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Sudan’s president, who is accused of genocide by the International Criminal Court, on the sidelines of the African Union summit on grounds of “operational necessity.” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Monday that those grounds allow the U.N. chief to meet with President Omar al-Bashir “from time to time” on issues such as the U.N. peacekeeping missions in Darfur and the oil-rich Abyei border region that is disputed between Sudan and South Sudan. Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told local media that Guterres praised efforts by Sudan’s government to achieve peace in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan while meeting in Addis Ababa. AP

Cameroon Receives Separatist Leader, 46 Others Deported from Nigeria
The government of Cameroon on Monday (January 29, 2018) announced that forty seven secessionists had been extradited from Nigeria. In a press conference in the capital Younde, Information Minister, Issa Tchiroma Bakary, said among the 47 was self-acclaimed leader of the Ambazonia secessionist group, Ayuk Tabe Julius. According to the minister, the extradited group “were handed to Cameroonian judiciary, before which they will be tried for their crimes. “The government of Cameroon takes this opportunity to commend the excellent multifaceted cooperation existing between Nigeria and Cameroon, particularly with regard to security,” the statement added. Africa News

Dozens of Villagers Died in Nigerian Air Force Raids, Says Amnesty
At least 35 people were killed by the Nigerian military’s air raids on villages last month, according to the human rights organisation Amnesty International. Witnesses described Nigerian air force jets bombing houses and targeting civilians trying to hide in five villages in raids that a military spokesman said at the time had a “positive effect” in tackling communal violence. Launching the attacks in December, the military said that it was targeting “hideouts of miscreants” in the villages, referring to herdsmen whom it said were armed. Thousands of people have died in a bloody conflict between herdsmen and farmers that has intensified in Nigeria’s middle belt over the past 10 years. The Guardian

China Rejects ‘Preposterous’ African Union Headquarters Spying Report
A Chinese official on Monday dismissed as ‘preposterous’ a report by French newspaper Le Mondealleging that Beijing spied on the Addis Ababa-based headquarters of the African Union (AU). Le Monde on Friday published an investigative story claiming that technicians at the Chinese-funded building discovered last year that the data from their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, the year the soaring building was inaugurated. The newspaper said it spoke to a number of anonymous AU sources for the story. “I think the report is not only a sensationalist story, but also preposterous and absurd,” Chinese envoy Kuang Weilin said on the sidelines of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Deutsch Welle

Burkina Faso Sets Date for Alleged 2015 Coup Masterminds
The trial of the alleged brains of the failed coup d’ état of September 2015 in Burkina Faso, Generals Gilbert Diendéré and Djibrill Bassolé, will open on February 27, 2018 before a military court in Ouagadougou, the justice system announced on Monday. Military Prosecutor Alioun Zanré said in a statement that the proceedings will begin on Tuesday, February 27 to prosecute General Diendéré and 83 other co-accused. General Diendéré, who had led the coup d’ état, and the other persons being prosecuted were “charged with assaulting, murder, assault, willful assault, deliberate damage to property belonging to others, treason, incitement to commit acts contrary to the rules and discipline, violence and assault on others, or complicity in such offences”.  Africa News

Kenya Election: TV Coverage Curbs for Odinga ‘Inauguration’
Kenyan authorities have shut down TV stations to prevent live coverage of a swearing-in event by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who boycotted last year’s disputed presidential election. Several hundred supporters gathered at a park in central Nairobi, where the opposition event was due to take place. The result of the August general election was annulled following allegations of irregularities. Uhuru Kenyatta won a re-run in October, but Mr Odinga did not take part. President Kenyatta was sworn in for a second term last November.  BBC

Kagame Assumes AU Chair, Launches Single Africa Air Market
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda started his reign as African Union Chairperson on Sunday by announcing the launch of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM). “Today we launch the Single African Air Transport Market, a major step forward for transportation. We are nearly ready to adopt the Continental Free Trade Area. It needs to be done this year,” said President Kagame in his acceptance speech at the opening of the 30th annual African Union summit in Addis Ababa. Kagame told Africa’s leaders that “by committing to break down these various barriers, we will send a tremendous signal in Africa and beyond that it is no longer business as usual.” The Independent – Uganda

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan Hope to Break Nile Dam Talks Deadlock in One Month
The leaders of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on Monday set a one-month deadline for laying out the ways to break a deadlock in talks over a mega dam Addis Ababa is building along its share of the Nile, an official said. Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam, a $4 billion-hydroelectric project that Cairo fears will reduce waters that run to its fields and reservoirs from Ethiopia’s highlands and via Sudan. Ethiopia, which is financing the project alone and hopes to become the continent’s biggest power generator and exporter, dismisses the claims. Sudan supports the dam because it will regulate floods and provide electricity and irrigation. Reuters

Egypt’s El-Sisi Gets Competition—and It’s from a Backer
Egypt’s Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has a last-minute challenger in March’s presidential race — a staunch backer. Al-Ghad party chairman Mousa Moustafa Mousa, who founded a group that endorsed El-Sisi’s re-election bid, filed candidacy papers with the electoral commission just minutes before the 2 p.m. deadline on Monday, state-run Middle East News Agency reported. Mousa entered the race after others either withdrew or were disqualified. But his challenge won’t allay critics who say El-Sisi’s reinstallation has been a foregone conclusion from the start. The president, a former career army officer, was first elected in 2014 after leading the military-backed popular uprising that ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi a year earlier. Bloomberg

Facing a ‘Broke’ Country, Liberia’s Weah Cuts His Own Salary
Liberia’s newly sworn-in President George Weah pledged to cut his own salary by a quarter Monday, in a nationwide address in which he warned of tough times ahead for a “broke” country. “The state of the economy that my administration inherited leaves a lot to do and to be decided,” the former international soccer star said in an address apparently aimed at lowering high expectations following his election victory at the end of last year to replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “Our economy is broken; our government is broke. Our currency is in free fall; inflation is rising,” Weah said. “Unemployment is at an unprecedented high and our foreign reserves are at an all-time low.”  VOA

Rising Internet Shutdowns Aimed at ‘Silencing Dissent’
Governments around the world are increasingly shutting down internet access in an apparent attempt to silence discontent and dissent, activists say. In 2017, internet access was cut off more than 80 times around the world, up from 56 times the year before, drawing concerns from digital rights activists. “We do see this as evidence for a global trend in the wrong direction,” Peter Micek of Access Now told Al Jazeera. One of the countries that have seen several shutdowns in the past year is Cameroon. People in the Anglophone region of the West African nation erupted in protests against the imposition of the French language, which is spoken by the majority of the population. Al Jazeera

Mauritania Failing to Tackle Pervasive Slavery, Says African Union
The African Union has reprimanded Mauritania for failing to take action against widespread slavery within its borders and ordered the government to give financial compensation to two child slaves who were failed by its legal system. The landmark ruling is the first time the AU has spoken out against the pervasive practice of hereditary slavery in Mauritania, which activists believe affects many thousands of people. Despite passing slavery laws in 2007, and amending them in 2015, Mauritania has only prosecuted two cases of slavery. In 2011, after sustained regional and international pressure, the Mauritanian courts sentenced Ahmed Ould El Hassine to two years in jail and to pay 1.35m Mauritanian ouguiya (£2,700) to two brothers, Said and Yarg Ould Salem, who had been kept in slavery since birth. The Guardian

Strike Looms as Students Arrested in Chad Anti-austerity Protest
Trade unions in Chad called on Monday for a general strike, as anti-austerity protests grow alongside growing impatience with the regime of President Idriss Deby. “The government has carried out all its wage threats,” the unions said in a joint statement as they urged an immediate and “unlimited nationwide general strike” The unions said the impending stoppage meant even their members working in the health sector would only be providing a “minimum service” for the duration. The Union of Teachers of Chad (SET) and Union of Trade Unions of Chad (UST) had earlier held a general assembly meeting on how to proceed, as civil servants protested pay cuts enacted under new legislation hitting bonuses and allowances.  France 24

Travel Ban: US to Again Conditionally Admit Refugees from 11 Nations
The Department of Homeland Security will resume admitting refugees from 11 countries, US officials told reporters on condition of anonymity Monday, but displaced people will be subjected to additional screening and other new security measures. Advocates say the changes will still effectively block refugees. “Adding yet more hurdles to an already overly bureaucratic process will burden those seeking safety for themselves and their families,” Amnesty International USA said in a statement. The administration never made public which 11 countries US President Donald Trump effectively banned in October, but arrivals from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen decreased markedly during a 90-day review period that ended last week. Administration officials offered no details about whom they would subject to the extra screening, citing security concerns.  Deutsche Welle

BBC Launches Ethiopian and Eritrean Radio Services
The BBC on Monday launched new daily radio services producing news, current affairs, features and English language training for Ethiopians and Eritreans. The BBC World Service programmes will be broadcast from Monday to Friday in the Amharic, Afaan Oromo and Tigrinya languages and will be aired on shortwave radio and streamed on Facebook. “There will be a strong focus on culture, health and original journalism from the region,” the British broadcaster said. It will also offer beginner, intermediate and advanced English language lessons once a week to speakers of the three regional languages. AFP

Too Little, Too Late, Too Risky: Surgery in Africa
Hundreds of thousands of Africans aren’t able to get the surgery they need. And those who do undergo surgery, despite being younger and having fewer underlying health risks than patients in high-income countries, face a greater risk of dying after surgery. A new study, published this month in The Lancet, looks at how 11,422 patients fared after surgery in 25 African countries. The finding: 1 in 5 developed complications. And of patients who developed complications after surgery in Africa, 5.6 percent died. That compares to 2.8 percent in 19 high-income countries studied. The high death rate reflects the consequences of providing surgery in hospitals that don’t have adequate post-operative care, intensive care units, essential equipment like ventilators or sufficient nursing staff for follow-up care, says Dr. Anna Dare, surgeon at the University of Toronto and author of a commentary accompanying the study.  NPR



Photo: Adam Jones