Africa Media Review for July 19, 2018

South Sudan Foes Fail to Reach Power-Sharing Deal
The South Sudanese warring parties meeting in Khartoum on Wednesday failed to agree to a power-sharing deal. South Sudan Information Minister Michael Makuei said the government agreed to create five vice president positions, including a first vice president, but opposition members rejected the proposal. “Some few members from SSOA [South Sudan Opposition Alliance] were saying that it is not what they want. They want to see a very small, lean [government],” said Edmond Yakani, a member of the civil society delegation attending the talks. Yakani said distrust between the parties made them unwilling to compromise. He also said some delegates are still putting their personal interests first, hoping to be included in the slate of Cabinet positions being discussed.  VOA

South Sudan’s Kiir Names New Foreign Minister
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has appointed Mr Nhial Deng Nhial as new Foreign Affairs minister. The President made the announcement in a live broadcast on state television in Juba on Tuesday night. The appointment seals the fate of Mr Deng Alor Kuol, who previously held the position. Chief negotiator Mr Alor has been in exile since March, having alleged a plot by South Sudanese president to kill him. He is a member of former political detainees and was appointed to the Foreign ministry role under the terms of the 2015 August peace agreement. The East African

Fifteen Dead in Armed Clashes in DR Congo
Fifteen people were killed during five days of clashes between armed militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s restive east, before the army intervened, local officials said on Wednesday. “Five civilians and two members of the ‘Guidon’ group were killed Monday in clashes in Kamiro,” said Cosmas Kangakolo, administrator of the Masisi territory in the North Kivu province. A further eight civilians were killed and others were injured between Friday and Tuesday in clashes between Lukweti and Nyabiondo, he told AFP. North Kivu has served as a base for Hutu rebels since the genocide of Tutsis by majority Hutus in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994. AFP

Burkina Faso Army Arrest 60 in Anti-Terror Operation
Sixty people were arrested in the north of Burkina Faso in an operation targeting terrorist bases, the army said on Wednesday. Counter terrorist forces launched the security operation on July 8 to search suspicious areas in the region, which borders Mali to the north and Niger to the east. “This work with the support of the air force allowed the dismantling of terrorist bases and the arrest of a hundred suspicious individuals,” a statement from the army said. “After verification, 60 of them were transferred to the police and the others were released.” Explosives, batteries and electric wires used in the manufacture of improved explosive devices were also seized during the raids.

Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis Hits Palm Oil, Cocoa Production
The crisis in anglophone Cameroon is damaging the Southwest Region’s economy, with palm oil plantations closing and the cocoa trade tumbling, an NGO report said Wednesday. The Southwest Region faces almost daily clashes between the army and separatists in a conflict that originated mainly in Cameroon’s second anglophone area, the Northwest Region. The state-run palm oil company Pamol has deserted some of its plantations, and cocoa and coffee production has stopped because villages have abandoned their crops, according to the Cameroon NGO Human Is Right. Sources at the private firm Telcar Cocoa, a market leader, told the NGO that insecurity in the region had caused an 80 percent fall in cocoa trade. Vanguard Nigeria

Mali’s Election Overshadowed by Violence
Malians head to the polls on 29 July in an election that has been marred by violence. A report by the British NGO Peace Direct says the security situation is worse now than it was in 2012, while the UN says it is “deeply concerned” about the surge in intercommunal violence that has killed hundreds of people since the start of the year. “This is a turning point for the country,” says Dylan Mathews, chief executive of the British NGO Peace Direct that published a new report Wednesday entitled Mali on the brink. “We’re not talking about a civil war, we’re talking about a series of interconnected crises across the country,” he told RFI. RFI

Nigerian Police Say 8 Boko Haram Suspects Confess to Chibok Abduction
Eight suspected members of Islamist militant group Boko Haram have confessed to involvement in the 2014 abduction of some 270 girls from the town of Chibok, the Nigeria Police Force said on Wednesday. The mass abduction of girls from their school caused global outrage and drew attention to the militant group which has killed more than 30,000 people since 2009 in an insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in northeast Nigeria. Abba Kyari, deputy commissioner of police, said 22 suspected members of the militant group were arrested in different locations in the neighbouring northeastern states of Yobe and Borno. Reuters

Herdsmen-Farmers Conflicts Becoming More Sophisticated, Deadlier – UN Envoy
The Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, says the conflicts between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria are becoming more sophisticated and deadlier. Chambas, who is Head, UN Office for West African and the Sahel (UNOWAS), in a report presented to the UN Security Council, said the violence was a major security threat in the region, warning that it risks changing into terrorist attacks. “Violence between farmers and herders is increasingly a major security threat in the region and risks morphing into the terrorist attacks that have defined the security landscape. “Farmer-herder conflicts are becoming more sophisticated and deadlier, especially in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. The Nation Nigeria

Senegal: Appeal Court Rejects Dakar Mayor’s Release
The request for an injunction for provisional release in favour of Khalifa Sall, made by lawyers of the jailed mayor of Dakar, was rejected on Wednesday by the court of appeal in Dakar. The presiding judge, Demba Kandji, ruled that Sall must remain in prison. In making their request, Sall’s lawyers had relied on a judgment of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, which in a recent ruling on the Khalifa Sall case, found that the procedure leading to his trial and sentence to five years in prison (plus a fine of 5 million and the seizure of one fifth of his properties) had not respected Sall’s rights, including the presumption of innocence and the right of the accused person to be assisted by a lawyer. APA News

Djibouti Asks UN Help to End Border Dispute with Eritrea
Djibouti is asking Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to help peacefully resolve a border dispute with Eritrea following the recent end to that nation’s 20-year border dispute with Ethiopia. Djibouti’s U.N. ambassador, Mohamed Siad Doualeh, asked Guterres in a letter circulated Wednesday to work with the Security Council to bring his tiny port nation and Eritrea together “with the aim of facilitating an agreement between them upon a mutually acceptable means of peaceful dispute settlement.” He said Djibouti’s preference would be to refer the dispute “to judicial settlement or arbitration” that would be legally binding. Djibouti’s appeal to the U.N. chief follows the dramatic diplomatic thaw to one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts that began last month when Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister fully accepted a peace deal that ended a 1998-2000 border war with Eritrea that killed tens of thousands. AP

New Rules and Ghost Voters Threaten Zimbabwe’s Vote
Zimbabwe has a history of elections that are far from free and fair – and several ominous developments suggest that nothing will different at the end of July, when the country votes in the first election since the resignation of Robert Mugabe. Of particular concern is the apparent complicity of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), which is issuing controversial new voting regulations that undermine the secrecy of the ballot. As in previous polls, the commission has become increasingly obstructive to engagement as the elections draw closer. Another major worry is the unconstitutional nature of the ballot itself, which features two columns, with President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s face at the top of the right-hand column. Although the ballot should have been in alphabetical order, it is not – apparently to allow the president to occupy the prime position at the top. This attempt to give the ruling Zanu-PF an advantage and has been roundly criticised by opposition parties and civil society groups. It is a blatant example of partisanship and undermines the last vestiges of ZEC independence. Mail & Guardian

Ramaphosa’s Shine Fades as Reality Bites South African Economy
Economic and political problems are piling up for Cyril Ramaphosa, dampening the euphoria that accompanied his ascension to the South African presidency. A labor union boss turned business tycoon, Ramaphosa took office in February after the ruling African National Congress forced Jacob Zuma to resign following a scandal-tainted tenure that lasted almost nine years. While Ramaphosa initially won plaudits from investors and the public for instigating a crackdown on graft, sentiment has soured as record-high fuel prices, inflation-busting pay increases for government workers and demands for bailouts by broke state companies stymie his efforts to turn around the flagging economy. Bloomberg

Egypt’s Al-Sisi to Visit Khartoum on Thursday
Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi on Thursday would arrive in Khartoum on his first visit since he has been re-elected for a second term.[…] The tumultuous relations between Sudan and Egypt experienced last December a new crisis over media attacks against al-Bashir after a visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Sudan. Also, Sudan accused Egypt and Eritrea of supporting rebel groups to attack Kassala State on the eastern border. However, the two countries recently developed joint security cooperation against the opposition groups from both sides. The main differences between the two neighbours remain the dispute over the border triangle area of Halayeb and the construction of Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam that Sudan backs. Sudan Tribune

Somalis in Minnesota Await Decision on Protected Status
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is expected to decide by Thursday whether it will extend temporary legal protections for about 250 Somalis who fled violence and famine in their home country, many of whom live in Minnesota. If the special status is not extended, some Somali families who have built lives in Minnesota could be forced to separate, The Star Tribune reported. Then-President George H.W. Bush initially approved the special immigration designation for Somalia in 1991 due to the country’s civil war. The designation has been extended 22 times since then. The program, known at ‘temporary protected status’ has shielded many Somalis from deportation. The program was created to help people from countries that are wracked by armed conflicts, natural disasters and other forms of civil conflict. AP

How the Diaspora Influenced 2017’s Elections in Africa: Report
A new report has shed light on the role of Twitter during recent elections across Africa and how key voices from the diaspora helped shape the debate online. The How Africa Tweets study was released on Wednesday by Portland Communications, a UK-based consultancy. It covers polls held between June 2017 and May 2018 in Angola, Kenya, Egypt, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Lesotho and Rwanda – as well as the self-declared Republic of Somaliland in northern Somalia. It highlights how Twitter conversations were affected by leading voices from outside the continent when polls were contested. Overall, 54 percent of key non-domestic voices were from outside Africa. Al Jazeera

How Social Media Bots Became an Influential Force in Africa’s Elections
Automated bots are increasingly muddying election cycles in Africa, disrupting conversations, distorting facts, and bringing into focus the changing dynamics of politics in the continent. Bots on social media became an influential voice during crucial Africa polls over the last year, claims a report called How Africa Tweets from communications consultancy Portland. These bots, defined by some as a new form of media, are software programs that combine artificial intelligence with communication skills and intimate human behavior. Using them, one could amplify a specific conversation on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook by posting videos, photos, and biased statements targeting particular hashtags and wordings. In 10 elections across nine African nations which took place between June 2017 and March 2018, bots were used as important vessels for spreading misinformation and furthering negative narratives about major issues, candidates, and perceived electoral irregularities, say the report’s authors. Quartz

Nigerians Bury Cash in Backyard Banks as Mobile Money Stumbles
Every few days, Tasiu Abdurrahman takes the money he makes from selling spices in Nigeria’s biggest northern city and buries it in his yard. The 55-year-old closed his bank account eight years ago after growing disillusioned with standing in long lines for hours to deposit or withdraw cash. Abdurrahman is one of about 50 million of the unbanked in Nigeria, which despite having Africa’s largest mobile-phone market, is only just opening up to the technology to bring banking to its estimated 200 million people. “My business partners need cash,” said Abdurrahman as he juggled two mobile phones at his ginger and tamarind stand, one of many dotting the streets in Kano. “If they all opened bank accounts, I would be happy to.” Bloomberg

Kenya’s China-Funded Railway Makes Massive Losses
Kenya’s flagship railway project registered losses of $100m (£76m) in its first year of operation, according to the transport ministry. The China-funded standard gauge railway – which links the coastal city of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, – was funded by a $3bn loan from China’s Exim bank, to be repaid over 15 years. Kenya dismissed concerns that the railway project was overpriced, unsustainable and economically unviable. The railway line was central to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election strategy, launched only months before the presidential poll last year. While passenger trains get fully booked regularly, the minister said it was hard convincing businessmen to switch cargo transportation from road to rail. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones