Africa Media Review for January 5, 2018

Nigerian Military Rescues Schoolgirl Abducted by Boko Haram in 2014
The Nigerian military said on Thursday it had rescued one of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the town of Chibok in 2014. The kidnapping of more than 270 students sparked international condemnation and heavy criticism of the Nigerian authorities at home along with a “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign. Salomi Pogu was found by troops deployed in the town of Pulka with another girl, and they “are in the safe custody of troops and receiving medical attention,” the military said in a statement. The second girl was not one of the abducted Chibok students. Reuters

At Least Seven Killed in Fresh Violence in South Nigeria
Gunmen killed at least seven people Thursday at a farm in the Nigeria’s Rivers State, police said, the latest violence to hit the oil-rich southern region. The attack, believed to have been carried out by criminal gangs, came three days after gunmen described as “bandits” and “cult” members, killed 16 churchgoers as they were returning from a midnight New Year church service on Monday. Zaki Ahmed, police commissioner for the Rivers state, confirmed Thursday’s attack on a farm in Emohua without giving a death toll. “The attackers arrived on a motorcycle and shot at people, before fleeing as quickly as they arrived,” he told reporters. A source at the Elele Police station told AFP: “Information from our men on site has it that seven have been confirmed dead.” eNCA

Ethiopia PM ‘Misquoted’ over Prisoners
Ethiopia’s government has denied that all political prisoners will be freed, saying that only some imprisoned politicians will be pardoned. An aide to the prime minister said a mistranslation led to him being quoted as saying that all political prisoners would be freed to promote dialogue. The prime minster also said a detention centre, allegedly used as a torture chamber, would be shut. Ethiopia has been hit by a wave of political unrest in recent years. Amnesty International welcomed the initial announcement, saying it could signal “the end of an era of bloody repression in Ethiopia” – although it warned that the closure of the Maekelawi detention centre should not be used to “whitewash” the “horrifying” events which took place under its roof. BBC

Sudan Extends Ceasefire with Rebels through End-March – SUNA Agency
Sudan has extended a unilateral ceasefire with rebels until the end of March, state news agency SUNA reported on Thursday, citing a presidential decree. In October, the United States lifted 20-year-old sanctions tied to progress on progress on counter terrorism cooperation and on resolving internal conflicts. Fighting between the army and rebels in the Kordofan and Blue Nile regions broke out in 2011, when South Sudan declared independence. Conflict in Darfur began in 2003 when mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against Sudan’s Arab-led government. The ceasefire was set to expire at the end of December. Reuters

Egypt: Sudan Recalls Its Ambassador to Consult amid Spat
Egypt says neighboring Sudan has recalled its ambassador in Cairo for consultations, the latest sign of rapidly deteriorating ties between the onetime allies. The Foreign Ministry says it learned of Khartoum’s decision through its embassy in the Sudanese capital. The ministry said Thursday that Egypt is “comprehensively assessing the situation with a view to making the appropriate response.” It did not elaborate. Egypt maintains that Sudan has taken Ethiopia’s side in Cairo’s dispute with Addis Ababa over a massive dam being built on the Nile River by the Ethiopians. AP

Egypt Say 3 Policemen Killed in Northern Sinai: Officials
Egyptian security officials say three policemen and a civilian have been killed in the restive northern Sinai peninsula where Islamic militants are active. The officials said on Thursday that the policemen, who were riding a car outside the town of el-Arish, were killed in an ambush by militants in the area. They added that the militants also killed a civilian and wounded another. The officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said the militants fled the scene after the attack. Egypt has for years been battling militants in northern Sinai, now spearheaded by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. The insurgency picked up steam following the ouster in 2013 of elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi whose one year in office proved divisive. AP

US Designates Al-Shabab Deputy Leader as ‘Global Terrorist’
The United States government has designated the deputy leader of the Somalia-based al-Shabab extremist group a “global terrorist.” A State Department statement says the designation of Abukar Ali Adan blocks any assets of his that are subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. citizens from making any transactions with him. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab is the deadliest Islamic extremist group in Africa. It has been blamed for the October truck bombing in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, that killed 512 people. Little is publicly known about the reclusive Ali Adan. The U.S. has designated al-Shabab as a foreign terrorist organization, and the Trump administration early last year approved expanded military efforts against the group. More than 30 U.S. drone strikes were carried out against al-Shabab last year. AP

What Will It Take to Fix the Mess in Zimbabwe?
[…] Over his 37 years in office, Mugabe impoverished Zimbabwe’s 14 million people with a series of perverse economic experiments. Formerly the breadbasket for much of the continent, today the country can barely feed itself, and a national railway that once served as a crossroads for the region barely functions. Streetlights in Harare, the capital, long ago went dark. At about $1,000, the country’s per-capita gross domestic product is less than one-fifth that of neighboring South Africa. The task of reversing this destruction falls to Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mugabe’s former vice president and political protégé, who has pledged to break with the old regime’s worst policies. “We must accept that our challenges as a nation emanate, in part, from the manner in which we have managed our politics, both nationally and internationally,” Mnangagwa said shortly after assuming the presidency. “We have an economy to recover, a people to serve.” While his early moves have won praise from reformers, it’s hard to overstate the difficulty of restoring a nearly rogue state to normal membership in the international financial community. Bloomberg

Chad FM Warns of Regional ‘Threat’ after E Guinea Coup Bid
Chad’s Foreign Minister Mahamat Zen Cherif, in a visit to Equatorial Guinea after a bid to overthrow long-time President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, condemned the attempted coup as a “major threat” to central Africa. “The attempt at destabilisation is not just an affair that only concerns Equatorial Guinea, it is also a major threat of destabilisation that concerns the entire sub-region of central Africa,” he said in remarks reported by state television TVGE. On Wednesday, Security Minister Nicolas Obama Nchama said the authorities had thwarted an attempted coup, allegedly mounted on December 24 by foreign mercenaries recruited by political opponents. Hours after his statement, TGVE reported clashes with “mercenaries” near the border with Cameroon. AFP

Border Shutdown Hurts Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea Business
The border between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea has been sealed for nearly two weeks due to the alleged coup attempt against Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Merchants on the border say the closure is costing them business. It is a relatively quiet atmosphere here at Kiossi, a town in southern Cameroon that borders Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The town is normally a conduit for farm produce, beverages and other goods being trucked across the borders. But Cameroonian businessman Fidele Kemmengne says activity has been at a standstill since the border was sealed. And Kemmenge himself has been stuck in Equatorial Guinea for nearly two weeks. VOA

Fifteen Die in Cameroon Goldmine Collapse
At least 15 goldminers have died, following the collapse of a goldmine in Ngoe Ngoe town, eastern Cameroon, sources told APA on Thursday.The victims, like the people in surrounding communities, have as their main activity the search for gold. According to the newspaper Le Messager and the weekly Repères, the mine where the tragedy occurred was “abandoned by Chinese operators, without proper arrangements, contrary to the regulations in force.” According to the Forests and Rural Development Association (FODER), which investigated in the field, “43 people died at the mining sites in the east of Cameroon in 2017 in the space of ten months.”  Journal du Cameroun

Israel Offers African Migrants a Choice: Ticket out or Jail
Israel is offering a stark choice to tens of thousands of African migrants in the country: Agree to leave voluntarily by the end of March, with a plane ticket and a grant of $3,500, or face possible incarceration. “Every country must guard its borders,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday, announcing the plan. “The infiltrators have a clear choice — cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectably, humanely and legally, or we will have to use other tools at our disposal, which are also according to the law.” Later, on Facebook, Mr. Netanyahu wrote, “The government approved a plan today that will give every infiltrator two options: a flight ticket out or jail.” It is the latest phase of Israel’s long campaign to expel tens of thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers, mostly Eritrean and Sudanese, who entered the country illegally. At least 20,000 have already left Israel. “The mission now,” Mr. Netanyahu said, “is to deport the rest.”  The New York Times

Uganda Denies It Will Host Expelled Migrants from Israel
Uganda on Thursday denied it had agreed to receive thousands of African migrants as part of a deal with Israel. The denial came a day after Israel launched the programme to force some 38 000 migrants, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, to leave the country. Israel has not clearly said where the migrants will go, but tacitly recognises it is too dangerous to return the Sudanese and Eritreans home. As a result, according to activists in Israel, it has signed deals with Rwanda and Uganda, which agree to accept departing migrants on condition they consent to the arrangement. Uganda, however, said it had made no such deal. AFP

37 Dead in Floods in DR Congo Capital
Thirty-seven people died overnight when torrential rain and mudslides swept though shanty homes in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the authorities said Thursday. The provincial minister for health and social affairs, Dominique Weloli, said many of the dead, which included “two or three drowned children,” had lived in Ngaliema, a poor hillside community that was particularly hit. “There has been not only flooding but also landslips, and several houses have collapsed,” Weloli said. Flooding is a major peril for residents of Kinshasa, a chaotic city with a population of around 10 million people, most of whom are extremely poor. AFP

Over 5,000 Soldiers Killed in War against Terrorism in Libya’s Benghazi
Libyan army spokesman on Wednesday said that the war against terrorism in the eastern city of Benghazi killed more than 5,000 soldiers. “All the military operations in the city have ended, and terrorism has been eliminated, after our forces fought battles from the Benina Air Base to Sidi Ekhrebish (central Benghazi),” army spokesman Ahmad Mismari said in a news conference. “We do not forget the sacrifices of men in this epic battle, after more than 5,000 martyr soldiers were killed and thousands others are amputees for the elimination of terrorism in Benghazi,” Mismari added. The army announced on Thursday taking control of the whole area of Sidi Ekhrebish in central Benghazi, the last terrorist stronghold in the city, after operations that lasted more than five months. Dozens of extremists fled after the army forces took control of the area. Xinhua

AFRICOM Warns against Jihadists Attack Targeting Libyan Oil
US Africa Command has warned against a terrorist plot being prepared by ISIS militants against Libya’s Oil Crescent, which is located 500 km east of the capital Tripoli, and includes the country’s largest oil reserves and export terminals. In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, AFRICOM spokeswoman Robyn Mack said: “at the moment, we believe that the organization (ISIS-Libya) is likely to give priority to the restructuring of security forces and infrastructure, and to launch strikes, which may include targets in the Libyan oil crescent.” Since last year, the Oil Crescent has been under the control of the Libyan National Army, which is affiliated with the eastern government but working with the National Oil Corporation to protect the area from militant groups. North Africa Post

UAE to Resume Flights to Tunis, Ending Row over Ban on Women
The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday it would resume flights to Tunisia after an exchange of security information, resolving a row over a ban on female Tunisian passengers. A statement by the foreign ministry on state news agency WAM said the decision was taken in light of extensive cooperation and information received from the Tunisian side that eased the national carriers’ concerns. Tunisia’s transport ministry said an agreement had been reached after “contacts with the Emirati side at various levels”. The UAE angered Tunisia by banning Tunisian women from its passenger flights in December. Tunis later said the UAE was acting on intelligence that female jihadists returning from Iraq or Syria could try to use Tunisian passports to stage attacks. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones