Africa Media Review for July 13, 2018

South Sudan Lawmakers Extend President’s Term until 2021
South Sudan’s parliament has approved extending President Salva Kiir’s term until 2021, angering the armed opposition as peace talks continue in a five-year civil war. Lawmaker Atem Garang says the president is expected to sign the extension Thursday or Friday after parliament met in extraordinary session. Elections have been delayed amid the fighting that has killed tens of thousands. Opposition spokesman Mabior Garang tells The Associated Press that “we regret the move as it shows the regime is playing games at the negotiating table.” He calls on the international community not to recognize the president’s extended term. VOA

UN to Vote on Arms Embargo and New Sanctions on South Sudan
The Security Council is set to vote Friday on a resolution that would impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions against a current deputy defense chief and former army chief. The final draft resolution, obtained Thursday, expresses “deep concern” at the failure of South Sudan’s leaders to end hostilities and condemns “the continued and flagrant violation” of agreements to stop fighting. The U.S.-sponsored resolution needs a minimum of nine “yes” votes for adoption by the 15-member council. Diplomats said they expected a number of abstentions though no veto. There were high hopes that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But the world’s newest nation plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to Riek Machar, his former vice president who is a Nuer. AP

Cameroon’s Paul Biya to Contest in October Polls to Extend Reign till 2025
President of Cameroon, Paul Biya, has confirmed his candidacy for presidential polls slated for October 7 this year. This will be his seventh consecutive mandate which will also extend his reign till 2025. It will, however, be the fifth universal suffrage with multiple candidates. The octogenarian who is considered one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders made the announcement vis his social media handles on early Friday morning. “Dear Compatriots in Cameroon & the Diaspora, Aware of the challenges we must take up together to ensure a more united, stable & prosperous Cameroon, I am willing to respond positively to your overwhelming calls. I will stand as Your Candidate in the upcoming presidential election,” his post read.  Africa News

In Troubled Cameroon, U.S. Envoy Is Accused of Election Meddling
When the American ambassador took up his post in Cameroon late last year, he stepped into an increasingly troubled nation, locked in battle against Islamist militants in one part of the country and armed separatists in another.And then there is the matter of its leader.Cameroon has not had a new president since Michael Jackson released “Thriller” in 1982.Under the 36-year leadership of President Paul Biya, the nation has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including killing unarmed protesters, torturing detainees, shutting off the internet and locking up journalists.Last month, Washington’s ambassador, Peter Henry Barlerin, met with the 85-year-old president, who has taken initial steps to seek re-election in October. He told Mr. Biya that he “should be thinking about his legacy and how he wants to be remembered in the history books,” saying that George Washington and Nelson Mandela were excellent role models. The New York Times

Fighting in Anglophone Cameroon Claims More Lives
Clashes between army and anglophone separatists have claimed several lives in the town of Kumba in Cameroon’s troubled Southwest Region, sources said on Thursday. “Several people, including civilians, have been killed in Kumba since Monday,” a source close to the town’s medical services told AFP, confirming witness accounts. “These people died during various army operations” after Kumba’s police superintendent was killed on Sunday, the source said. The murder has been blamed on separatists who want secession from the French-speaking bulk of Cameroon. “There were exchanges of gunfire for much of (Wednesday) night,” one witness said. AFP

Eritrea Leader Visits Ethiopia on Saturday in Historic Thaw
Eritrea’s longtime President Isaias Afwerki is visiting Ethiopia on Saturday, the latest step in an unprecedented diplomatic thaw between the former archrivals. Eritrea’s information minister Yemane Gebremeskel confirms the visit on Twitter, saying it will “add momentum to the joint march for peace and co-operation”. The visit by the leader of one of the world’s most reclusive countries comes after Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a historic trip to Eritrea last weekend for talks with Isaias, setting off the restoration of diplomatic ties after two decades. AP

Ethiopia and Eritrea Have a Common Enemy
[…] Since the border has already been virtually demarcated, peace should, in principle, require no more than the withdrawal of Ethiopia’s troops. Unfortunately, that’s the part that will be the most difficult — for reasons that have nothing to with Abiy or with Eritrea. Although it might seem shocking to outside observers, there is a very clear reason why both leaders are suddenly so eager to cooperate. They are united by the presence of a still-potent mutual enemy: the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Abiy was swept into the prime minister’s office in April on a tidal wave of revolt. Roads had been blocked and stores shuttered as hundreds of thousands protested against the country’s ruling cabal, a small group of former liberation fighters that had been in power since 1991. The cabal had used its long rule to advance Ethiopia’s economy and had made the nation into a regional powerhouse — but it had also, through corruption, amassed the bulk of Ethiopia’s new wealth and had kept the majority of military power concentrated in the hands of a tiny ethnic minority, the Tigrayans, whose revolutionary apparatus, the TPLF, had freed Ethiopia from the communist Derg committee in 1991. Foreign Policy

Donald Trump Vows to End Africa’s ‘Vicious’ Conflicts
US President Donald Trump has vowed to help end “vicious and violent” conflicts on the African continent. “Africa right now has got problems like few people would even understand,” he said at a Nato summit press conference. “It is so sad, it is so vicious and violent,” he said, promising that his goal was to build up the US military and bring peace to the world. The US is active in counter-terrorism operations and training African troops to fight jihadists in the Sahara. His comments about Africa’s problems came after a Tunisian journalist expressed gratitude for US efforts in North Africa, where various Islamist militant groups operate. The president said the continent had “got things going on there that nobody could believe in this room”. “If you saw some of the things that I see through intelligence – what’s going on in Africa – it is so sad, it is so vicious and violent,” he said. BBC

Jihad’s Next Battleground: The Fight against Islamic State Is Moving to Africa
[…] In the potpourri of jihadist groups, many pledge their loyalties to al-Qaeda or IS. They include al-Shabab in Somalia, Boko Haram and its factions in Nigeria, and Jama’a Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin in Mali. In each country, conflict may be fuelled largely by local grievances. But the insurgents share some ideological traits. Many have been strengthened by the breakdown of Libya after the downfall of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in 2011. Weapons spilled out of Libya’s armouries, and smuggling networks for everything from people to drugs developed across the Sahara. There are signs that the jihadists are learning from one another and sucking money and support from militant groups in the Middle East. Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, warned: “The challenge for us is to manage the conflicts … and stop them joining together.”  The Economist

The Potentially More Sinister Threat in Boko Haram’s Split
Boko Haram’s split in 2016 saw the emergence of two distinct jihadist movements, with divergent operating methods, in the Lake Chad region. Boko Haram is no longer a single entity and the separation carries wider ramifications, as one of the groups appears to be positioning itself as a long-term threat in a way that the other is not. In August 2016, Islamic State supported a group of militants wishing to split from Boko Haram’s long-time leader Abubakar Shekau. Abu Musab al-Barnawi was duly crowned as the new governor of Islamic State-West Africa (Isis-WA). Shekau rejected his demotion, and continues to command loyal militants under the group’s previous name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (JAS). The primary disagreement between JAS and Isis-WA – an ideological one about targeting Muslim civilians – underscored a larger dynamic regarding Shekau’s record as leader and the group’s overall performance. Daily Maverick

Sudan Extends Ceasefire with Rebels until Year-End: Statement
Sudan has extended until the end of this year a three-year-old unilateral ceasefire with rebels fighting in three parts of the country, the presidential palace said on Thursday, as Khartoum pushes to end years of civil war and improve its economy. Thousands of people have been killed in Sudan’s civil wars, including the conflict in the western Darfur region, where rebels have been fighting against President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government since 2003. “President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has issued a presidential decision to extend the ceasefire in all fields of operations until December 31, 2018,” the presidential palace said in a statement. Ceasefires have been in place in Darfur and the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile since 2015. Bashir last extended them in March for three months. Reuters

Haftar Orders Arrest of Rogue Officer behind Executions of Detainees
On Wednesday evening, Libyan army Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar ordered the arrest of Mahmoud Al-Ourfali, a Special Forces officer, accused of executing dozens of detainees after he escaped from prison. Last January, the military ordered the arrest and capture of al-Ourfali for violating direct orders and military recommendations, and for creating sedation and confusion in Benghazi after he appeared in video clips as he was supervising the execution of terrorists who were shot dead in public squares before being helped to escape from prison earlier this month by a number of his supporters. In a statement on Wednesday, the general command of the Libyan army stated that Haftar also ordered the arrest of anyone who has committed a violation of civil and military law, or threatened the security of the homeland, citizens and state’s institutions, and to detain them in military prison while awaiting their trial. Al Arabiya

“Whoever They Met, They Would Cut and Kill”: Displaced Congolese Recount Rebel Atrocities
At the camp for displaced people in Rukoro, nobody can remember the last time they saw an aid worker. There are no tents and tarpaulins for the roughly 300 people that live here – just a collection of tiny, tunnel-shaped huts tucked out of sight down a dirt track in this remote corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Rutshuru region. […] Factions of two militias – the Nyatura and the Mai-Mai Mazembe – that claim to defend different ethnic groups have been burning houses, killing civilians, and dividing communities along ethnic lines. Media reports mention around 100 killings over the past couple of years, but IRIN heard testimony about many more and a large number likely go unreported. Frequent kidnappings, attacks on aid workers, and challenging conditions for those attempting to document the conflict mean there has been little attention on the violence. IRIN

Snipers, Armoured Car Escorts for Ugandan MPs
Ugandan parliamentarians are to receive armoured escorts and snipers to protect them, the president ordered in a letter seen Thursday, after a ruling party lawmaker was shot dead last month. President Yoweri Museveni ordered that military “sharp-shooters” and a “fleet” of armoured pick-up trucks would be put at the disposal of MPs who, he said in a directive to the finance ministry, were being “singled out” for attacks. The order follows the shooting of MP Ibrahim Abiriga as well as the unsolved murders of other prominent individuals in recent years, among them government prosecutor Joan Kagezi and police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi. The new security arrangements — so far with no cost estimates — were ordered late last month but only emerged on Thursday, drawing immediate criticism. AFP

EU Provides over $100M Humanitarian Aid for Somalia
The European Union released €89 million (nearly $105 million) in humanitarian assistance to Somalia, according to the European Commission on Wednesday. The Commission stated that the funding comes ahead of the Somalia Partnership Forum co-hosted by the EU taking place next week on July 16-17. “The devastating effects of two years of drought and the recent intense flooding are taking their toll on the livelihood of millions of people in Somalia,” Commissioner Christos Stylianides, in charge of humanitarian aid and crisis management, said in the statement. “Our aid will target the most vulnerable and provide life-saving support to those affected by climatic shocks and internal conflict,” Stylianides said. Anadolu Agency

Kenyans Have Had It with Corruption. Their Leaders May Finally Be Doing Something about It.
[…] A sense that pervasive corruption is stifling young Kenyans’ futures has been building for years, like pressure in a sealed, heated chamber. And Kenya’s leaders — themselves long accused of corruption — seem finally to have recognized the potential political cost of not addressing it. In recent weeks, Kenya’s president and deputy president have offered to be among the first subjects of a “lifestyle audit” — an anti-graft initiative that, if implemented, would require every government official to show how they earned enough to afford the mansions, ranches and luxury cars so many of them own. Only if corruption is weeded out at the top, the thinking goes, will it be possible to end the kind of petty corruption faced by the Kuyas. For now, the audits are just a proposal. Yet as corruption continues to factor into almost all economic transactions here, the clamor for change keeps growing. Real estate developers bake graft-related expenses into their budgets. Poor people grease the palms of city officials to stay in illegally built but affordable slums. Scandals involving collusion between government officials and business executives to import inferior or even contaminated foods dominate the headlines.  The Washington Post

China Opens Embassy after Burkina Switches from Taiwan
China opened its new embassy in the Burkina Faso capital of Ouagadougou on Thursday after the impoverished Sahel state stunned Taiwan by switching diplomatic ties to Beijing. The official opening comprised the unveiling of a plaque in an upmarket hotel where the embassy is being housed temporarily while a new building for it is constructed. “Today is a historic day,” declared Vice Prime Minister Hu Chunhua, who led a major delegation to Ouagadougou to oversee the event. “As of today, the embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Burkina Faso is open,” Hu said, describing the mission as the “driver of Chinese-Burkinabe friendship.”  AFP

As China’s Investment Strategies Shift, African Partners Face Risks
When the China-financed Nairobi-Mombasa Railway opened in May 2017, it became Kenya’s largest infrastructure project and a high-profile achievement for President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of his successful bid for re-election. […] As operational issues smoothed out, deeper concerns emerged. The railway cost Kenya nearly $4 billion and may take decades to pay for itself. Environmentalists worry about the impact on a vast nature preserve, and an independent analysis suggests Kenya overpaid, according to research compiled by the China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University. Throughout Africa, China is investing in large-scale infrastructure projects like the Nairobi-Mombasa line. A half-dozen railways have launched in recent years, along with dozens of other infrastructure projects, including bridges, dams, roads and power plants. These projects appear to benefit all sides. However, they often lack proper vetting, and deals unfold with little transparency.  VOA



Photo: Adam Jones