Africa Media Review for January 8, 2018

Gunmen Kill at Least 13 in Senegal’s Casamance Region
Thirteen youths were killed on Saturday by “armed elements” in the Casamance region of southern Senegal, an area ravaged by armed conflict for more than three decades, a security source said. The victims were out collecting wood in the Bayotte forest, 20 kilometres (12 miles) from the regional capital Ziguinchor, “when they were attacked by an armed band of 15 people,” army spokesman Abdou Ndiaye told AFP. A source in Ziguinchor said that “thirteen were killed and two were able to escape,” with Ndiaye adding that seven others were injured in the attack. The attackers would have passed the buffer zone separating the positions of the Senegalese army from those of the MFDC (Movement for Democratic Forces in Casamance), the armed independent rebellion,” the Senegalese Press Agency (APS) said. France 24

New Fighting near South Sudan Capital, Violating Cease-Fire
South Sudan’s warring sides are blaming each other for new fighting outside the capital that violates a recent cease-fire. The fighting erupted Thursday evening between government and opposition forces less than 20 kilometers (12 miles) outside Juba. The U.S. Embassy on Friday issued a travel warning for staffers barring unofficial movements in the capital after 7 p.m. until Monday morning. Neither side made claims of deaths in the new fighting. The United States and others have warned against further violations of the Dec. 24 cease-fire, which was broken within hours. “Enough is enough,” the U.S. charge d’affaires in South Sudan, Michael K. Morrow, told the United Nations-operated Radio Miraya. He said the U.S. was “actively” developing new tools to target those in South Sudan who get in the way of peace, following on recent sanctions. AP

Malong Is Mobilizing for War: South Sudan’s Kiir
January 7, 2018 (JUBA) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir said Sunday his ex-army chief of staff whom he released into exile through mediation brokered by elders was now mobilizing for war, citing videotapes in which he was talking to soldiers and officers in the army to cause rebellion and attack towns in Bahr el Ghazal. “This was what I said no one knows Malong more than me. The way he talked to me in Yirol on phone and the way he talked when he returned from Yirol was a clear proof of the reason he fled. Now listen to this video, hear it and tell me what you should do if you were in my position,” said President Kiir. The president was talking to some of the Dinka elders who mediated the release of the ex-army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan following a standoff over presidential orders asking disarmament his guards and return to their units. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Seizes Newspapers after Bread Price Rise Criticism
Sudanese security agents on Sunday seized all copies of six newspapers after they criticised the government over soaring bread prices that have almost doubled this week, editors said. Discontent has been simmering over the past few days as bread prices jumped on the back of a sharp rise in the cost of flour after a government decision to shift importing of wheat to private sector companies. Several newspapers have criticised the decision concerning wheat imports, while the country’s opposition groups called for nationwide demonstrations against the price rise. AFP

Cameroon Separatist Leader Detained in Nigeria as Unrest Grows
A leading member of a separatist movement in Cameroon has been taken into custody in Nigeria with his aides, according to sources. The once-fringe anglophone movement in Cameroon, a majority French-speaking country, has gathered strength in the past few months following a military crackdown. It represents the gravest challenge yet to the 35-year rule of the president, Paul Biya, who will seek re-election this year. Julius Ayuk Tabe, the Nigeria-based chairman of the Governing Council of Ambazonia separatist movement, was taken into custody alongside six others at a hotel in Abuja on Friday, both a Nigerian official and the separatist group said. Separatists, including armed radical elements, seek an independent state for the nation’s anglophone regions they call Ambazonia. The Guardian

South Africa’s Parliament to Review Rules on Removing President
South Africa’s parliament said on Sunday it would review its rules relating to removing the country’s president, after the constitutional court said on Dec. 29 that lawmakers had previously failed to hold President Jacob Zuma to account. The court ruling has piled pressure on Zuma and his allies as his opponents within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) are pushing for him to be removed as head of state before his term ends in 2019, when national elections will be held. Zuma is in a weakened position after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was elected leader of the ANC last month, narrowly beating Zuma’s ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. VOA

U.N. Probes DRC Attack That Killed 15 Peacekeepers
The United Nations is investigating a deadly attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo last month that left 15 U.N. peacekeepers dead, according to a news statement. To lead the investigation, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Dmitry Titov of Russia, a former U.N. assistant secretary-general, according to the statement released Saturday. The killings, considered the deadliest single assault on a U.N. mission in nearly a quarter century, happened Dec. 7 in the Beni territory of North Kivu province. The attack also left 43 peacekeepers wounded and another missing. The investigation team, which also includes two military officers from Tanzania, will travel to Congo early this month, also visiting relevant countries in the African Great Lakes region. UPI

Sudanese Troops Deployed on Border with Eritrea
The Sudanese army has deployed thousands of troops on its borders with Eritrea, after Egypt sent its own soldiers, in coordination with the UAE, to an Eritrean base in Sawa. According to Al-Jazeera, the Sudanese forces have already reached the Kassala border garrison, while both Sudan and Ethiopia have declared their borders with Eritrea closed. The Assayha Sudanese newspaper quoted Ethiopian sources as saying that the government of the Ethiopian western region sent military reinforcements to the border triangle with Eritrea and Sudan. The same sources revealed details of Eritrean military reinforcements supported by Egypt, as well as rebel movements from the Darfur region in western Sudan, gathering near the Sudanese-Eritrean border. Middle East Monitor

Mnangagwa Rules out Tsvangirai Coalition
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday ruled out another coalition with MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai shortly after visiting the ailing opposition leader at his Highlands home in Harare yesterday. Pressed further on the question of a coalition, as there was a strong lobby for it, Mnangagwa insisted there would be none. “We are a democratic country, people can lobby for anything,” he said curtly. Since Mnangagwa’s rise to the presidency, there have been calls for a unity government, which many hope is the best way out of the economic crisis, but these have been dismissed by the ruling party. Mnangagwa, with his deputy, Constantino Chiwenga, paid a largely unexpected visit to Tsvangirai, with pictures portraying an unwell MDC-T leader. News Day

Former Zimbabwe Ministers Loyal to Mugabe Charged with Corruption
Two former Zimbabwean cabinet ministers who served under ex-president Robert Mugabe have been charged with corruption, their lawyers said on Saturday, the latest sign of a crackdown on officials loyal to Mugabe. Mugabe, 93, stood down in November after 37 years in power following a de facto military coup, making way for his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa to take over. When the military seized power they arrested key allies of Mugabe and his wife, Grace, who was vying with Mnangagwa to succeed her husband. Former foreign minister Walter Mzembi and ex-energy minister Samuel Undenge were charged on Friday with “criminal abuse of office”, their lawyers said. They both deny wrongdoing. Reuters

Eight People Die and 86 Rescued from Sinking Dinghy off Libya
At least eight people died and 86 others were rescued after a rubber dinghy starting sinking in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya, according to the Italian coast guard, which said a search was continuing to find any more survivors. The coast guard, which coordinates rescues in international waters off Libya’s coast, said an aircraft on patrol for a European anti-smuggling operation spotted the dinghy in difficulty, on Saturday morning. Italian navy and coast guard vessels were involved in the rescue. The coast guard’s Cmdr Sergio Liardo told RaiNews24 “it appears the dinghy deflated” after a puncture. When rescuers arrived in the early afternoon about 20 people were still in the dinghy while others were in the water. The Guardian

More Than 200 Migrants Storm Morocco-Spain Border
More than 200 African migrants stormed over a high double fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Saturday, officials said, leaving some of them and a police officer injured. A total of 209 people from sub-Saharan Africa seeking to get to Europe forced their way across the fence in the afternoon, the central government’s representative office in Melilla said in a statement. The police officer who was injured was “attacked by an immigrant with one of the hooks they use to clamber up the fence” as he tried to stop them, the statement said, adding the implement cut his earlobe. In order to get across, migrants often use hooks and shoes studded with nails. AFP

More Than 3,100 Migrants Died Crossing Mediterranean in 2017
The number of migrants who died crossing the Mediterranean Sea surpassed 3,000 for the fourth year in a row, despite an overall drop in the number of refugees making the journey. The International Organization for Migration has called the Mediterranean “by far the world’s deadliest border,” as more than 33,000 migrants have died at sea trying to enter Europe since 2000. More than 3,100 migrants died making the trip in 2017, but the IOM notes the number of fatalities is likely higher due to the number of boats that sink without rescue crews knowing. Last year, more than 5,000 people died along the sea route. “People are still dying at sea in enormous numbers, even after years of seeing this happen repeatedly,” Eugenio Ambrosi, IOM regional director for the European Union, Norway and Switzerland, said in November. “We have to ask ourselves, why is this still happening?” NPR

From First Lady to Vice-President of Liberia: Meet Jewel Howard Taylor
Jewel Howard Taylor is set to become Liberia’s next vice-president after her successful campaign alongside George Weah. She claims that she never knew about the atrocities ordered by her ex-husband, Charles Taylor, during Sierra Leone’s civil war. When George Weah won the Liberian presidential election on December 26, 2017, his running mate Jewel Howard Taylor, became the most powerful woman in the country. The 54-year-old politician, former wife of ex-Liberian leader Charles Taylor, had won her ticket to the vice-presidency. As jubilant crowds celebrated outside their campaign headquarters in Monrovia, Howard Taylor may have reflected on her first steps in politics exactly 20 years before, when she was the country’s first lady. France 24

Egypt: Ex-PM Ahmed Shafiq Will Not Run for President
Former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq is no longer considering running in the upcoming presidential election, he said in a statement on Twitter on Sunday. “After assessing the situation in Egypt following my return from the United Arab Emirates, I see I will not be the ideal person to lead the affairs of the state in the coming period. So, I decided not to run in the upcoming elections of 2018,” the statement said. Shafiq was seen as the major potential challenger to President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in the election, which is to be announced on February 8. El-Sissi has not yet officially announced his candidacy. In his statement, he pointed to his time away from Egypt as a major reason for deciding not to run. Deutsche Welle

Eritrea Closes Hundreds of Businesses for Bypassing Banks 
Eritrea has temporarily shut down nearly 450 private businesses, the latest in a series of moves that has sent shockwaves through the economy of the Red Sea nation. The closures were a response to companies hoarding cash and “failing to do business through checks and other banking systems,” according to a Dec. 29 editorial published by Eritrea’s Ministry of Information on the state-run website Shabait.com. Most of the affected businesses operate in the hospitality sector, according to the announcement, and they will remain closed for up to eight months, depending on the severity of the violations. About 58,000 private businesses operate across the country, according to the government; less than 1 percent was affected by the recent closures. VOA

Zambia Declares Curfew in Lusaka Slum Struck by Cholera
Zambia has declared a curfew in a poor Lusaka township badly affected by a cholera outbreak that has killed 58 people across the country since September, the government said on Sunday. The curfew in Kanyama, a densely populated slum of iron-roofed shacks and winding dirt tracks, begins on Sunday and will run from between 1800 and 0600, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya told reporters. The township has a population of 370,000 people. Street vending and public gatherings have been banned in Lusaka to prevent the spread of cholera but the residents of Kanyama have been defying this order in the evenings after soldiers deployed to clean the streets have left. “Kanyama has recorded the highest number of fatalities because of the poor compliance with interventions that have been put in place,” Chilufya said. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones