Africa Media Review for July 6, 2017

A Path to Justice in South Sudan
The Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) negotiated in 2015 has been the cornerstone of efforts to reestablish stability in Africa’s youngest nation. This wide-ranging peace agreement addresses ceasefire arrangements, the structure of a transitional government of national unity (TGoNU), constitutional reforms, humanitarian assistance, and accountability for human rights violations committed since the civil conflict erupted in December 2013. The lack of political will by South Sudanese leaders to implement the ARCSS, however, has left the transition process in shambles. Fighting continues and has spread to every region of the country, humanitarian access remains severely obstructed despite an estimated 4 million refugees and displaced South Sudanese since 2013, famine has taken hold, and most of the genuine opposition has had to flee the country due to the government’s oppression of civil society, journalists, and any form of dissent.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

US Airstrike Hits Al-Shabab Militants in Somalia, 2nd Attack in 3 Days 
U.S. forces targeted a mass of Islamic militants in Somalia on Tuesday in a self-defense airstrike that marks the second American attack in less than a week in the war-torn country. U.S. Africa Command offered few details about the latest strike in the country where the military has stepped up operations, but did say the attack was about 300 miles southwest of the Somali capital of Mogadishu. “This strike was conducted within the parameters of our authority to engage in collective self-defense of our Somali partners,” AFRICOM said Wednesday in a prepared statement. AFRICOM said it was still assessing the results of the attack and did not provide an estimate of how many militants were killed. Stars and Stripes

‘Al Shabab’ Militants in Day-Long Battle with Kenyan Forces
Kenyan security forces have been battling suspected al-Shabab militants for more than 10 hours after they staged a dawn attack on a police post near the coastal town of Lamu. The latest fighting is reported to be in Boni forest, which straddles the border with Somalia. Three police officers are confirmed dead and one seriously injured, according to a statement released by the Kenyan police. Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility. BBC

Zambia: President Lungu Ratchets up Repression, Calls for State of Emergency
Blaming a series of fires stretching back to August 2016, Zambian president Edgar Lungu said the decision was necessary “to preserve peace, tranquility, safety of our citizens and national security”. “There is no doubt in my mind that the intentions of the perpetrators of these irresponsible actions is to make the country ungovernable,” the president said in a speech on Wednesday night. “I have no choice but to take this decision, given the events of the recent past show that we are slowly sliding into lawlessness.” To take effect, the declaration must be tabled before the National Assembly and approved by a majority of lawmakers within the next week. But 48 MPs from the main opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) were suspended without pay for 30 days last month after boycotting a speech of Lungu’s earlier in the year. There is about a week left in their suspension – a point that left some Zambians wondering on Twitter about the timing of Lungu’s declaration. Daily Maverick

Scores Killed in Land Dispute in Nigeria’s South
A government official says communal clashes in Nigeria’s southern Cross River State over land ownership have killed scores of people and displaced thousands. Cross River State Emergency Management Agency Director-General John Inaku said about 150 people have been killed in the past week. He appealed for aid for the displaced. State youth council chairman Prince Ndiyo, however, said Wednesday less than 100 have been killed, mostly women and children, in fighting over claims of ownership for a piece of farmland. State police commissioner Hafiz Inuwa said peace has been restored and additional security deployed. Such fighting is common in Nigeria’s south, where many are killed over farmland disputes. About 20 people were killed in June over land disputes between a Cross River State community and a neighboring Ebonyi State community. AP

Kenya County Officials Blame Military for 5 in Shallow Grave
Officials in the Kenyan county of Mandera accused the military Tuesday of executing five missing people whose bodies were found in a shallow grave. Speaking at the burial of the five, whose bodies were discovered Monday, Mandera Deputy Gov. Omar Maalim alleged that government agencies were responsible for the deaths as part of a crackdown on extremism. “All this is being done by the Kenya Defence Forces, because we have information that these five people were picked from their houses by the military before being held briefly at the Fino police station,” he said. Maalim said Mandera County Commissioner Fredrick Shisia had confirmed to him in a phone call that the five were among 11 people arrested Friday night. He added that there is a high rate of mysterious murders in the county. Kenyan security officials could not be reached for comment on the allegations. The country’s security forces have long been accused of killing suspected extremists because they are unable to investigate them and get them prosecuted successfully. The Independent Police Oversight Authority says 60 percent of criminal cases go unsolved. AP

Uhuru Kenyatta, Raila Odinga to Skip Presidential Debate
Jubilee Party leader Uhuru Kenyatta and NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga say they will not attend the presidential debate slotted for July 10. In a letter to the press, NASA presidential campaign secretariat said Raila Odinga will not take part in the under the proposed format and stipulation. Jubilee Party also announced on Wednesday that President Uhuru Kenyatta will not participate in the debate citing format issues. Jubilee party vice chairman David Murathe also indicated that Uhuru Kenyatta was not consulted on the debate. NASA secretariat however urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to be open to debating Raila Odinga on issues affecting Kenyans. Standard Media

Smugglers Are Abandoning Migrants in the Middle of a Desert the Size of Texas
[…] Hundreds of thousands of mostly West African migrants fleeing war, poverty and persecution have crossed this stretch of the Sahara over the past few years. They scrounge together life savings and bet them all on a treacherous journey — first across the Tenere; then farther into the Sahara, into Libya; then the choppy seas of the Mediterranean — in hopes of a better life in Europe. The world has looked on in horror at the thousands who have died when their overloaded boats capsized at sea. And while more do perish on that final leg, so close to European shores, the sandy graveyard of the Tenere has claimed hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. “I think we’ve overtalked the sea and undertalked the deserts,” said Tuesday Reitano, deputy director at the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime. The Tenere is located in Niger, which, per the United Nations’ development rankings, has long held the grim position of the world’s poorest country. Smugglers in Agadez, a city on the edge of the desert that functions as a migrant transit hub, stuff the back of pickup trucks with people and then speed through the roadless expanse for days until they reach the Libyan border, where their human cargo is dealt away to new handlers. The Washington Post

49 Feared Dead as Migrant Ship Sinks in Alboran Sea
Three survivors were found after a boat carrying 52 African immigrants sank early Wednesday in the Alboran Sea in the Mediterranean, authorities said. The survivors were sent to a hospital in Almeria suffering from dehydration but currently in good conditions, according to Spain’s Coast Guard Command. The remaining on board are presumed dead. Anadolu Agency

EU Appeals for Refugee Aid as Mediterranean Death Toll Continues to Rise
Brussels will urge European countries to give shelter to more refugees from Africa to ease the pressure on Italy, as record numbers of people attempt the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. The European Union executive wants all member states – including the UK – to contribute to resettling a total of 37,000 vulnerable people from five north African countries by the end of 2018. Interior ministers meeting in Tallinn on Thursday will be called on by Dmitris Avramopoulos, the EU home affairs commissioner, to make voluntary pledges by the middle of September. The appeal came as Amnesty International released a damning 31-page report linking “failing EU policies” to the the rising death toll in the Mediterranean, and shocking abuses faced by refugees and migrants in Libyan detention centres. The Guardian

South Africa’s ANC Proposes Land Redistribution
After six days of being involved in robust debates on a number of highly controversial issues, ANC delegates adopted a series of proposals that will promote party unity, high leadership values, morals and integrity, tackle the potent issues of state capture and corruption and the socio-economic emancipation of the black majority. In his closing speech, President Jacob Zuma supported a proposal on land expropriation. “We agree on the imperative to accelerate land redistribution and land reforms. Where it is necessary and unavoidable, this may include expropriation without compensation within the law, within the constitution,” Zuma said Land will be a key issue ahead of a December ANC national conference where a successor to president Zuma will be chosen. The two current frontrunners are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former African Union chair and Zuma’s ex-wife. Deutsche Welle

AU Chair Questions US Stance on African Peacekeeping
The African Union’s new chair Moussa Faki Mahamat on Wednesday questioned US commitment to fighting terrorism on the continent after it blocked efforts to get UN funding for an anti-jihadist force in the Sahel. “This is a specific case of a certain number of African states taking the initiative to create a dedicated force to fight terrorism. So, we don’t understand how the United States could hold back or not engage in the fight against terrorism,” Faki said in an interview with AFP. Faki’s January election as chairperson of the AU commission came days after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has proposed slashing US funding for aid projects and multilateral institutions like the UN. Times Live

Benghazi Has Been ‘Liberated’ from Islamist Militants and Rebels, Say Libyan Forces
Libya’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar has said his forces have taken full control of Libya’s second city Benghazi from rival armed groups after a three-year campaign. The battle for Benghazi between Mr Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) and an array of Islamist militants and other fighters has been part of a broader conflict since Libya slipped into chaos following the 2011 fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi. Victory would mark a major advance for the former Gaddafi ally who has slowly gained ground in eastern and southern Libya in defiance of a United Nations-backed government in the west in the capital Tripoli that is struggling to extend its influence. The Independent

Kagame Warns Foreign Envoys against Meddling in Rwanda Polls
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has warned Western diplomats against meddling in the country’s elections, urging them to let the National Electoral Commission (NEC) do its job. The ruling RPF Inkotanyi’s presidential candidate said foreign envoys should “stop fuelling fire” while describing the ‘interference’ as a “bizarre situation”. He was speaking during a Rwanda Television panel discussion as the country marked the 23rd Liberation by the RPF following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis on Tuesday evening. His remarks came days after several diplomats including the EU, ambassadors from the UK, South Korea and the US visited the electoral commission to “understand better” the vetting process which left out independent presidential candidates on the provisional list. The East Africa

Threat against Gambia’s President Barrow
The Gambian army has received intelligence about a possible threat to the life of President Adama Barrow. The threat is linked to army deserters who are thought to be close to former President Yahya Jammeh who left the country in January following elections that ended his 22 years in power. “We believe that some of them are in neighbouring countries – Senegal and also Guinea Bissau,” said the Gambian army’s spokesman, Omar Bojang. The possibility of Gambia being destabilised by elements based outside the country had already been raised by Mankeur Ndiaye, Senegal’s foreign affairs minister, during a recent press conference. He refused to give further details, but did confirm that the threat came from outside the country. A confidential document published by Senegalese military intelligence and seen by RFI’s French language Africa service discusses the presence of army deserters, who were close to Jammeh, being present in Mauritania, Guinea and Guinea Bissau. Notably, it references the notorious paramilitary group known as the Jungulers who had been implicated in rights abuses during Jammeh’s rule. RFI

78 Killed and Dozens Injured in Truck Crash in Central African Republic
Some 78 people were killed and dozens more were injured when a truck heavily loaded with goods and passengers crashed in Central African Republic, a doctor has said. The accident happened about six miles outside the town of Bambari as the truck was travelling to a weekly market day in the village of Maloum. “At the moment, we have counted 78 dead and 72 wounded. Some wounded were taken directly to their homes from the accident scene and died there some time after, but most died here,” said Chamberlain Bama, chief doctor at the university hospital in Bambari. The Independent

Prosecutor Demands 3-Year Jail Term for Equatorial Guinea President’s Son
French prosecutors said on Wednesday they were seeking a three-year jail term and a 30 million euro fine for Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President Teodorin Obiang, on trial in absentia for embezzlement. The 48-year-old son of President Teodoro Obiang Nguema is charged with using money plundered from his country’s state coffers to fund a jet-set lifestyle in France, where he bought a six-storey mansion in an ultra-posh part of Paris. Prosecutors also asked a court in the capital to seize the mansion on Avenue Foch, in western Paris, which is valued at 107 million euros, and other assets worth 43 million euros. The landmark trial of the notorious playboy fond of fast cars and Michael Jackson memorabilia began on 19 June in the defendant’s absence. Besides embezzlement, he is being charged with corruption, misuse of public funds and breach of trust. RFI

How the Democratic Republic of the Congo Beat Ebola in 42 Days
As anti-climaxes go, it was a most welcome one. On May 11, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) notified the World Health Organization that one of its citizens had been infected with the Ebola virus. The announcement marked the start of the country’s first Ebola outbreak since the historically unprecedented West African epidemic that infected 28,000 people between 2014 and 2016, and killed more than 11,000. But after just 42 days, it was all over. With the last confirmed patient having tested negative for the virus for the second time in a row, the WHO declared an end to the outbreak on Sunday. Just four people had died, and just four more had become infected. This swift resolution was partly a matter of luck. The virus hit the remote and sparsely populated Likati region, which is 1,300 kilometers away from the capital city of Kinshasa, and nestled deep in equatorial rainforest. “People weren’t moving around in the way they were during the West African outbreak,” says Anne Rimoin from the University of California Los Angeles, who has worked in the DRC for 15 years. “So it was a very small outbreak in and of itself.” The Atlantic



Photo: Adam Jones