Africa Media Review for July 16, 2018

U.N. Security Council Imposes Arms Embargo on South Sudan, despite Concerns It Might Jeopardize Peace Process
[…] On Friday, following years of discussions over how to slow down the conflict in the war-torn country, the U.N. Security Council narrowly passed an arms embargo against South Sudan. Haley pushed through the U.S.-drafted resolution, which also places a travel ban and asset freeze on the former South Sudanese army chief and a current deputy defense chief. […] A U.N. report published this week said that in recent months, government troops and those aligned with them raped women and girls and killed hundreds of civilians. […] Kate Almquist Knopf, director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, said that “the government in South Sudan should be focused on how to feed its people, which it can’t even do in its capital city at the moment, and not on how to produce arms.” She also said the arms embargo is “long overdue” and that the government in Juba “continues to use its meager resources to procure weapons to use against its people in truly heinous ways.”  The Washington Post

Hundreds of Nigerian Troops Missing after Boko Haram Overruns Base
Hundreds of Nigerian troops are missing after Boko Haram jihadists overran a military base in the remote northeast, security sources said on Sunday, in the second major assault on the armed forces in two days.  The militants invaded a base holding more than 700 soldiers in Yobe state – where they abducted over 100 girls from a school earlier this year – in an hours-long onslaught on Saturday night, a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity. Fewer than 100 soldiers have returned following the attack, which took place just 24 hours after Boko Haram fighters ambushed a military convoy in neighbouring Borno state on Friday.  AFP

DR Congo’s Kabila Promotes Blacklisted Generals
DR Congo President Joseph Kabila replaced the country’s army chief in a military shake-up at the weekend that included the promotion of two key allies on a US sanctions blacklist. The changes come as the vast African country is in the grip of a crisis over whether President Kabila will run in crucial, long-delayed elections in December despite his constitutional limit expiring in 2016. Lieutenant-General Celestin Mbala will replace retiring General Didier Etumba as the head of the army (FARDC), according to orders signed Saturday and announced on public television Sunday. Major General Gabriel Amisi, a former army commander, will take the army’s second most powerful post as deputy chief of staff in charge of operations and intelligence. President Kabila also appointed General John Numbi, a former national police chief, as the army’s inspector-general.  AFP

Congo’s Jean-Pierre Bemba Nominated as Presidential Candidate
Former Democratic Republic of Congo Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba has been nominated his party’s candidate for upcoming presidential elections, five weeks after his conviction for war crimes was overturned at the International Criminal Court. The Movement for the Liberation of Congo, known as the MLC, named Bemba, who was the country’s vice president from 2003 to 2006, on Friday at the end of a two-day congress, according to a statement issued by the party. Presidential and legislative elections are due to take place on Dec. 23. The 55-year-old’s return to the political fray presents President Joseph Kabila and his ruling coalition with a major rival who they expected to still be behind bars in The Hague. The International Criminal Court quashed Bemba’s 2016 convictions for war crimes and crimes against humanity on June 8. Bloomberg

Mugabe Is Gone. But His Tactics Persist in Zimbabwe’s First Election without Him.
Most Zimbabweans have only ever known one president: Robert Mugabe. But on July 30, a new man will represent Zimbabwe’s ruling party on the ballot for the first time in 38 years. Emmerson Mnangagwa, who went from being Mugabe’s right-hand man to his unseater, has taken the reins. Although he’s a party stalwart, Mnangagwa, 75, has cast himself as a beacon of change. And after decades of authoritarian rule that isolated Zimbabwe, he is promising to end the political violence and intimidation that characterized Mugabe-era elections. International observers are in Zimbabwe for the first time in decades. But accounts from opposition supporters in this rural constituency, 50 miles from the capital city of Harare, show how the ruling party’s intimidation and patronage apparatus is still very much intact. The Washington Post

UN Votes to Cut UN-AU Force in Sudan’s Darfur Region in Half
The Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday that will dramatically cut the United Nations-African Union military force in Sudan’s vast western Darfur region by more than half in response to reduced fighting and improved security conditions. The resolution adopted by a vote of 15-0 also looks ahead to “the eventual exit” of the joint force known as UNAMID. The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing them on civilian populations — a charge it denies. The U.N.-AU force was established in 2007 with a mandate to help protect civilians in Darfur.  AP

Eritrea’s President in Ethiopia for Historic Visit
To dancing and cheers, Eritrea’s longtime president arrived in Ethiopia for his first visit in 22 years on Saturday amid a dramatic diplomatic thaw between the once-bitter rivals. “This is a historic day for all of us,” President Isaias Afwerki said. “Anyone who thinks the people of Eritrea and Ethiopia are separated is considered as naïve from now on.” Thousands turned out in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, under tight security to welcome Isaias, whose three-day visit is the latest step in ending a long state of war. “Welcome home President Isaias!!” the Ethiopian prime minister’s chief of staff said on Twitter. France 24

Pair of Deadly Car Bombs Rip Mogadishu
At least six people have been killed — including five of the attackers — in two assaults Saturday near the presidential palace in Mogadishu, witnesses said. According to those on the scene, a speeding car exploded at a security check point near Peace Garden, a public park, followed by heavy gunfire between gunmen and security forces. Reports say the security forces engaged with the gunmen and repulsed the attack on their check point.  The initial reports say six people, including a government soldier and five attackers, were killed in the attack.  VOA

Deepening Military Ties Solidify China’s Ambitions in Africa
In late June, top military officials from Mali, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and dozens of other African countries gathered to discuss defense strategies and security threats. The meeting didn’t take place in a major African city, but thousands of kilometers away, in Beijing, China. The occasion was the inaugural China-Africa Defense and Security Forum, a high-profile showcase of expanding military partnerships hosted by China’s Ministry of National Defense. VOA

Tanzania’s Main Opposition Says about 20 of Its Members Arrested
Tanzania’s main opposition party said about 20 of its members, including an MP, were arrested on Saturday in the south of the country over claims they were “fomenting trouble”. Lawmaker Frank Mwakajoka was arrested in his office in southern Tunduma after going to ask for forms for his party’s candidates to take part in partial municipal elections in August, said party secretary general Vincent Mashinji. “We don’t understand the reasons behind this arrest,” said Mashinji, adding police had arrested “20 other members of Chadema who were gathered in a local office of the party to prepare these election”. “According to the initial information we have, the police are saying they were fomenting trouble,” he added.  AFP

Tanzania President Says Prisoners Should Be Kicked and Made to Work ‘Day and Night’
Tanzanian president John Magufuli on Saturday ordered that prisoners be made to work “day and night”, that conjugal visits be ended and that lazy inmates should be “kicked”. The leader, who has come under fire from rights groups over his authoritarian leadership style and a crackdown on freedoms, was speaking at the inauguration of new prisons chief Faustine Martin Kasike. “It is a shame for the country to continue to feed prisoners. All the prisons have fields, inmates must cultivate them,” he said. “Some prison staff don’t have homes. Make the prisoners work, let them make bricks day and night. If they show laziness, kick them. You have labourers, and for free,” he added. Magufuli also criticised prison staff for allowing prisoners to receive conjugal visits. The Guardian

Mauritanian General to Take Over Sahel Anti-Terror Force 
Mauritania’s deputy chief of staff General Hanena Ould Sidi will take charge of the five-nation “G5 Sahel” force following a series of deadly jihadist rebel attacks, official sources said. The decision to remove Malian commander General Didier Dacko from the post was reached July 2 at a G5 meeting of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad but not announced, the sources told AFP late on Saturday. A spate of attacks in Mali and neighbouring Niger has left more than two dozen people dead since the end of June, including a suicide bombing at the G5 headquarters in central Mali on June 29.  AFP

Libya’s Biggest Oil Field Set to Cut Output after Kidnappings
Oil output at Libya’s biggest field is set to drop by about half after authorities evacuated staff and shut wells for safety following the armed abduction of several workers at the Sharara deposit, according to the state National Oil Corp. Production at the field in western Libya will fall by about 160,000 barrels a day as a result of the precautionary steps, the NOC said in a statement. Unidentified assailants released two of four workers it kidnapped at Sharara early Saturday but still held the other two, the company said, offering no further details about the kidnappers or their possible motives. The abductions and output losses highlight the hurdles for Libya as it tries to restore reliable crude flows from its largest field after years of political division and internal conflict. Sharara is operated by a joint venture between the NOC and Total SA, Repsol SA, OMV AG and Equinor ASA, known formerly as Statoil ASA. Bloomberg

More Rafales for Egypt?
Egypt may acquire additional Rafale fighter jets from France after issues over exporting SCALP cruise missiles were resolved. This is according to La Tribune, which reported that French President Emmanual Macron broached the SCALP issue during his visit to the United States in April. The newspaper reports that licenses have been granted to export components used in the missiles to Egypt while France is also in the process of finding alternative components for the missile that are ITAR-free. Egypt is now apparently negotiating for the purchase of an additional 24 Rafales, La Tribune reports. DefenseWeb

Spain Reports 479 Migrants Rescued over Weekend
Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says at least 479 people, including more than 100 children, were rescued over the weekend while attempting to cross a narrow stretch of the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa. The service said 330 migrants were rescued on Saturday, most of them in the Strait of Gibraltar area and some further east in a part of the Mediterranean known as the Alboran Sea. They included about 100 minors who were picked up by a Spanish Civil Guard vessel and a Moroccan man who was found drifting on an inflated inner tube from a truck tire. The rescue service says another 149 people were brought ashore on Sunday.  AP

Deadly Algerian Migrant Expulsions Resume in Desert, UN Says
Algeria’s government has resumed expelling migrants into the Sahara Desert to die, leaving 391 people to wander through some of the world’s most hostile terrain in the middle of summer, a U.N. migration official said Saturday. The migrants, from 16 different countries, were abandoned at the border with Niger, according to a tweet from Giuseppe Loprete , the head of the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration in Niger. The Associated Press reported last month that Algeria has left more than 13,000 migrants in the desert of Niger and Mali since May 2017, forcing them to walk or die under searing heat, For several weeks after the AP report came out, the expulsions appeared to have been suspended. IOM in Mali said the normally secretive Algerian government seemed to be trying to make an effort to communicate the movement of the migrants. An aid worker with contacts inside Algeria said the government instead was rounding up migrants to jail in detention centers. AP

Tens of Thousands Protest in Morocco over Jailed Rif Activists
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Morocco’s capital Rabat on Sunday to demonstrate against the jailing of leaders of a protest movement in the predominantly Berber region of Rif. Carrying pictures of the detained activists and waving Berber blue, green, yellow and red flags, demonstrators chanted “Freedom, dignity and social justice”, “Long live the Rif”, and “The people want immediate release of Rif detainees”. In June, a court in Casablanca sentenced 39 people, including protest leader Nasser Zefzafi, to terms of up to 20 years in jail in connection with a protest movement that shook Morocco in late 2016 and early 2017. The protests erupted after a fishmonger was crushed inside a rubbish truck while trying to recover fish confiscated by police in the northern city of Al-Hoceima in October 2016. Reuters

Obama Arrives in Kenya, Meets Kenyatta and Odinga
Former U.S. President Barack Obama arrived in Kenya, on Sunday for the first time since leaving office in 2017. Obama is visiting Kenya for the fifth time, as a private citizen. Obama attended a meeting at State House in Nairobi with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Deputy William Ruto and his half-sister Dr Auma Obama. He has also held talks with opposition leader Raila Odinga who recently agreed to work with Kenyatta after a prolonged and highly contested election period in 2017. On Monday, he will inaugurate the Sauti Kuu Foundation’s project which comprises a sport , resource and vocational training centre in Kogelo, Siaya county and later fly to South Africa, where he will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela annual lecture in Johannesburg.  AfricaNews



Photo: Adam Jones