Africa Media Review for July 21, 2016

To Save South Sudan, Put it on Life Support
[…] A power-sharing agreement to end a conflict that started in December 2013 was centred around two people—President Salva Kiir and opposition leader First Vice President Riek Machar—who are irredeemably compromised among segments of the population, who view them as posing an existential threat to their communities. An African Union (AU) Commission of Inquiry found Kiir and Machar’s forces both responsible for killings that constituted war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sharing power between them has now failed disastrously on two separate occasions, and further attempts can only be expected to produce more of the same: immense human suffering and regional instability. There is, however, another way: put South Sudan on “life support” by establishing an executive mandate for the UN and the AU to administer the country until institutions exist to manage politics nonviolently and break up the patronage networks underlying the conflict. This will realistically take 10–15 years. Planning for it at the outset, however, is more sensible than the accumulation of one-year mandates over decades, as is the case with other peacekeeping missions. Financial Times

South Sudan Crisis: The Wounds of War
[…] It was bodyguards for opposition leader-turned first Vice-President Riek Machar and Mr Kiir’s presidential guards who fought each other, sparking days of violence earlier this month which killed many hundreds of soldiers and civilians. Bizarrely, both leaders were inside the building at the time, as were the city’s press corps – they videoed themselves cowering as the gunfire erupted around them. As the shooting stopped, the two men gave a joint press conference appealing for calm. That the fighting continued for the next few days is either a sign they that do not control their troops, or they care more about settling scores than they do about their people. BBC

UN Angry over European Pullout of Police from South Sudan
Three European countries rushed to evacuate their nationals serving as UN police in South Sudan during the recent heavy fighting, without even consulting the United Nations, according to an internal UN memo obtained by AFP. Britain, Germany and Sweden announced “without prior consultation” that they were repatriating the 12 police officers, a move that affected the peacekeeping mission’s operations and dealt a “serious blow to the morale” of the force, the UN document said. The three countries withdrew the police from the mission known as UNMISS as fighting flared in Juba between government forces and fighters loyal to ex-rebel leader and now Vice President Riek Machar. UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the police “did not stay at their post” and that “those particular officers would be withdrawn and not be replaced by personnel from the same nations.” France 24

South Sudan Government Rejects Foreign Troops, Backs Protest
South Sudan’s government on Wednesday organized a protest against the deployment of foreign troops to secure its capital after recent clashes between opposing army factions left hundreds dead. The African Union this week called for a “regional protection force” to bolster a 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in the East African country and separate warring parties. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has supported reinforcing the mission. The spokesman for South Sudan’s former rebel leader Riek Machar, now first vice president, says Machar has also called for a “third force” to secure the capital, Juba, after President Salva Kiir’s forces bombed his house during the fighting that raised fears of a return to civil war. The spokesman, James Gatdet Dak, said Machar fled Juba and will not return, despite Kiir’s invitation, until such an outside force is in place. AP on ABC News

The Dangerous Route of Ethiopian Migrants
The route through Djibouti and Yemen to Saudi Arabia is an ancient one. Some seventy thousand years ago, early man left Africa across the Bab el-Mandeb. The migration began the process by which modern humans settled the Eurasian continent. The historical connection between this part of Africa and the Middle East stretches through history. Fifteen hundred years ago, the Ethiopian Aksumite Empire extended into the modern Middle East and controlled parts of Yemen. The modern flow of people to the Middle East waxes and wanes as wars and crises afflict the countries surrounding Djibouti. Over the past decade, though, the number of migrant arrivals in Yemen from the Horn of Africa has increased more than threefold, to about ninety-two thousand last year. That figure is small compared with the million or so irregular entries into Europe last year, but the journey is made more difficult by the harsh conditions crossing the desert. Most of the migrants crossing from Djibouti are Ethiopian, from the Oromia and Tigray regions, though some are from Somalia, which has been locked in civil war since 1991. The New Yorker

African Force in Somalia Gets New Commander as Uganda Plans Exit
A new commander took control of the African Union force battling al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia as Uganda said it wants to withdraw its troops from the war-torn nation by the end of next year. Lieutenant General Osman Noor Soubagleh arrived Monday in the capital, Mogadishu, becoming force commander of the African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, the organization said in a statement. The Horn of Africa country’s elections, due this year, are one of the mission’s main priorities, according to Amisom head Francisco Madeira. Uganda’s foreign minister last week said the East African nation plans to remove its almost 7,000 troops from Somalia by the end of 2017. While a partial cut in European Union funding for soldiers has been a “handicap,” it’s not the main reason for Uganda wanting out, Sam Kutesa said in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, where he was attending an African Union summit.  Bloomberg

Cameroon Divided Over Report on Boko Haram Fight
Cameroonians have been expressing mixed opinions over the credibility of investigations carried out by the rights organization Amnesty International after a recent report accused the central African state of gross human rights violations in its fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram. Twenty-six-year-old university student Haja Awah lost three members of her family to Boko Haram fighters in Mora on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria two years ago. She says as a victim of the insurgency, she was surprised by Amnesty International’s accusations of gross human rights violations by the Cameroon military in the fight against Boko Haram, a group, she says, that is only interested in killing, raping, maiming and stealing. VOA

Gambian Opposition Leader Receives 3-year Jail Term
Gambia’s leading opposition figure was sentenced to a 3-year jail term Wednesday after he was found guilty on charges related to a protest earlier this year. Charges against lawyer Ousainou Darboe, 67, included unlawful assembly, riots, riotously interfering with vehicles, holding a procession without a permit, disobeying an order to disperse from an unlawful procession and conspiracy to commit felony. He stood trial with 19 other members of his United Democratic Party (UDP), including seven executives. One defendant was acquitted and discharged. The defendants were found not guilty on one count of inciting violence. The full-capacity courtroom stood and sang Gambia’s national anthem after Justice Eunice O. Dada, a Nigerian national, issued her verdict. Anadolu Agency

Burundi Team Pulls Out of Kigali AU Meet, Cites Security Concerns
A Burundi delegation suddenly pulled out of the African Union Summit in Kigali accusing Rwanda of failing to accord it security guarantees and hit out at the AU for failing to address the countries problems. A delegation of Burundian officials had arrived in Kigali Rwanda to attend the summit but left on July 13, two days after the meetings preceding the Heads of State Summit had begun. There were no reasons given and the matter was not discussed during the summit. In a press briefing on Tuesday, Burundi’s Foreign Minister Alain Aime Nyamitwe said that Burundi’s delegation withdrew after it was not accorded ‘security guarantees’ and also due to the AU’s failure to address Burundi’s complaints on Rwanda. Burundi and Rwanda remain at loggerheads over Bujumbura’s accusations that Kigali is backing rebels fighting President Nkurunziza, accusations Rwanda vehemently denies. The East African

‘I Am Full of Despair’: Burundian Refugees Tell Their Stories
Since the latest outbreak of instability in Burundi, more than a quarter of a million citizens have fled the country – many for the second or third time. But life isn’t necessarily easier as a refugee. Burundi has a history of recurring political-ethnic conflicts that have scarred the population. The constant movement to refugee camps in Tanzania and Congo has left Burundians permanently unsettled and disconnected from one another; combined with targeted killings, this has created a thoroughly paranoid people.  Daily Maverick

Thousands Rally in Harare to Show Support for Mugabe
The crowd sang and chanted slogans at the Wednesday rally, calling for the 92-year-old president to rule for life. Many of the march participants wore symbols of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party. “This has given us the chance to express our solidarity with our president,” the organization’s youth official Tinashe Wenyika said. “We remain committed to our party as young people and this is a sign that the center still holds.” The demonstrators marched through Harare before stopping at the 15-story headquarters of the ruling faction. Speakers at the rally decried the anti-government movement led by pastor Evan Mawarire, which shut down most businesses, schools, hospitals, and government offices in a massive act of civil disobedience less than two weeks ago. Deutsche Welle

The Dissident, the Despot & the Divine: A Tale of Two Zimbabwean Churches
And on the seventh day, Zimbabwe rested. After a tumultuous week, the streets of Harare are empty of traffic, troubled by neither protesters nor police. There is little to suggest that we are in the middle of an epochal period of Zimbabwean history; that we appear to be at the beginning of the endgame for President Robert Mugabe. The city’s churches, however, are full. This is a deeply religious country, a deeply Christian country, and Sunday is the day to worship, and to be seen to worship. Nowhere is this latter aim more obvious than at the Church of Celebration Ministries International, in rich, leafy Borrowdale, where government ministers, ruling party apparatchiks and well connected businessmen gather to praise their God, or themselves, or something. If Zanu-PF has a spiritual home, it is here, in this luxurious, glass-clad cathedral to ostentation, constructed as the rest of Zimbabwe sunk into the economic quicksand. Daily Maverick

Tunisia Stops Militant Cell Plotting Attacks in Sousse: Interior Ministry
Tunisian authorities dismantled a cell linked to the Islamic State militant group that was planning attacks against sites in the coastal town of Sousse, the interior ministry said on Wednesday. Tunisian security forces are on high alert after attacks in Tunis and Sousse last year, and an attempt by militants to take control of a town near the Libyan border in March. On Tuesday the government extended a nationwide state of emergency that gives authorities additional powers for two more months. The interior ministry statement said the cell had been dismantled on Tuesday in the Kalaa Kbira area, and that it “planned to carry out terrorist acts in Sousse against key sites in the city”. Reuters

Mali Extends State of Emergency After Series of Deadly Attacks
Mali is extending a state of emergency after a series of deadly attacks — including an assault on an army camp on Tuesday that killed 17 soldiers. The West African country is observing three days of mourning over that attack, NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports. Around 35 people were wounded in the army camp assault, The Associated Press reports. That attack has been claimed by two militant groups, Ofeibea says: “Al Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and another Al Qaeda-affiliated group claiming to support Peulh (Fulani) ethnic rights.” NPR

France Admits Special Forces Soldiers Killed in Libya
Three French soldiers have been killed in Libya, the defence ministry said on Wednesday, for the first time admitting that its special forces are active in the country, where rival militias, including the Islamic State (IS) armed group, are fighting for power. The soldiers were carrying out “dangerous intelligence operations”, according to French President François Hollande. “It’s only a few hundred kilometres from Europe’s shores. And at the moment we’re carrying out dangerous intelligence operations,” he said. “Three of our soldiers who were, in fact, involved in these operations have lost their lives in a helicopter accident.” RFI

Ex-Janjaweed Leader Calls for Reconciliation in Darfur
The Arab Mahameed clan chief Musa Hilal has called on the Darfurian community to unify and renounce violence to achieve development, reconciliation and stability in the region. Hilal, became notorious as Janjaweed leader, after eruption of simmering conflicts in Darfur in 2003. He stands accused by many human rights groups of leading a terror campaign against the African tribes in Darfur. But he has denied any wrongdoing and told Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a videotaped interview in 2005, that he only recruited militias on behalf of Sudan’s central government. Sudan Tribune

Ugandan-led Rebel Group Steps Up Attacks in Central Africa
A Ugandan-led rebel group operating in Central Africa abducted 498 civilians and killed 17 others in the first half of this year, a watchdog organisation said on Wednesday, suggesting a resurgence of the group whose leader is the target of an international manhunt. The attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army happened mostly in the eastern part of Central African Republic and in the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the LRA Crisis Tracker, which monitors the activities of the rebel group. Members of the LRA, including leader Joseph Kony, are the subject of an international manhunt that includes US troops. Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court. The LRA is notorious for abducting children who then become fighters or sex slaves. News 24

Kenya Security Accused of Murder and Abduction: Report
Security agencies are killing and abducting men in north-east Kenya who they suspect of links to Islamist extremists, a rights group said Wednesday. Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented 34 “enforced disappearances” and 11 suspected “extrajudicial killings” over two years in Garissa, Mandera and Wajir counties as part of counterterrorism operations in Kenya’s predominately ethnic Somali north-east. “People in northeastern Kenya deserve protection from Al-Shabaab attacks, not further abuse from the authorities,” said HRW executive director Ken Roth, adding the cases documented were “just the tip of the iceberg.” The report details people taken from their homes by masked, armed men who did not identify themselves, or beaten in the streets, before being driven away in government vehicles. Some of the disappeared were last seen in police or military custody. None has been charged with any crime, nor are their families able to trace them. The East African

IMF Warns Nigeria Heading Towards Recession
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele on Tuesday gave conflicting prognoses of the Nigerian economy, with the fund forecasting that the Nigeria economy was likely to contract by 1.8 per cent this year, warning that it was heading towards recession. Emefiele, on the other hand, during a closed-door briefing with the Senate, informed the upper legislative chamber that the economy was suffering from stagflation. A recession is defined as a significant decline in activity across the economy, lasting longer than a few months. It is visible in industrial production, employment, real income and wholesale-retail trade. The technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP); although a country’s statistical agency does not necessarily need to see this occur to call a recession. This Day

Democratic Republic of Congo Launches Yellow Fever Vaccination Drive
Democratic Republic of Congo launched a campaign on Wednesday to vaccinate about a million people against yellow fever over the next 10 days in the capital Kinshasa and a nearby province. A wider campaign to vaccinate more than 10 million people in the city and along the border with Angola will have to wait at least two more weeks, however, due to shortages of vaccine and syringes. “Now I am armored. Now I have the blood of a soldier,” said Claudy Pindi, who is in his forties, holding up his yellow vaccination card. Pindi was among the first to be vaccinated in Kinshasa’s Kisenso district, where four people are suspected of having died from yellow fever. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones