Africa Media Review for July 6, 2018

7 Killed in Clashes between DR Congo, Ugandan Navies: Congolese Governor
Four Ugandan soldiers and three civilians were killed Thursday in clashes on Lake Edward that lies between the two countries, a senior official in the Democratic Republic of Congo said. Other clashes in the region between DR Congo forces and Ugandan rebels as well as a local militia claimed eight more lives, the army said. A DR Congo naval patrol was “attacked this morning by a Ugandan patrol boat in Congolese waters,” Donat Kibwana, the administrator of the Beni region in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu said. “The Ugandan boat sank and four troops and three Ugandan civilians are dead,” he said. “On the Congolese side, a soldier and a civilian have been injured.” The clash took place near the Congolese village of Kyavinyonge on Lake Edward. There has been no confirmation from the Ugandan side so far.  AFP

Conflict in Congo’s Kasai Could Be Prelude to Genocide, U.N. Expert Warns
Mutilation, gang rape and killing documented in Congo’s Kasai region could be a harbinger of genocide, the U.N. torture investigator told Reuters on Wednesday, calling for action to prevent another Rwanda or Srebrenica. Nils Melzer, U.N. special rapporteur on torture worldwide, said he was alarmed by a report issued by U.N. human rights experts on Tuesday which said Congolese rebels and government troops have committed atrocities including mass rape, cannibalism and the dismemberment of civilians. The U.N. report – building on an earlier report accusing all sides of war crimes and crimes against humanity – catalogued gruesome attacks committed in the conflict in the central region of Kasai, which began in late 2016, involving the Kamuina Nsapu and Bana Mura militias and Congo’s armed forces.  Reuters

Ethiopia Removes 3 Rebel Groups from Terror List
The Ethiopian Parliament on Thursday unanimously approved a Council of Ministers resolution to rescind “terrorist” tags on three rebel groups. The Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), and Patriot Ginbot 7 will not carry the “terrorist” appellation anymore. No international agency or country has ever labeled any of the three organizations as terrorist. Since he came to power on April 2, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has called on all rebels to join the democratic process. His overtures were met with positive responses as senior OLF leaders came to the capital Addis Ababa in May to meet senior government officials. Anadolu Agency

19 Dead in South Sudan Cattle Raids
At least 19 people were killed and 11 others injured in cattle raids that occurred in South Sudan’s Eastern Lakes state on Wednesday, an official said. “Among the dead were 10 youths, who were fighting in self-defence, three children, four women and two attackers,’’ Taban Abel, the state minister for information, told dpa Thursday. The unknown attackers, the minister said, came from an area controlled by force loyal to former first vice president, Riek Machar. The Machar-led armed opposition group is yet to react to the state official’s claims. Cattle raids among South Sudanese communities are common incidences, often leading to deaths as well as abduction of children.  Sudan Tribune

U.S. Condemns Effort to Extend South Sudan President’s Term
The United States on Thursday condemned a bill proposed by South Sudan’s government that would extend President Salva Kiir’s term for three years. “The draft bill undermines ongoing peace talks with opposition groups and civil society,” a State Department official, who spoke on condition anonymity, said. Backed by the United States, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. Fighting broke out two years later over a political disagreement between Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar. Tens of thousands of people have since been killed and over three million forced to flee their homes. Kiir and Machar met last week and agreed on a new peace deal. It included a ceasefire, which took effect on Saturday. It was violated that day when government and rebel forces attacked each other’s positions. AFP

South Sudanese Parties Strike Deal on Security Arrangement Chapter
South Sudanese belligerents have reached an agreement on the security arrangements as they settled the last four outstanding issues paving the way for discussions on pending issues in the governance chapter. Sudanese army spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami, announced that the South Sudanese parties in the IGAD-led process have reached an agreement on the outstanding issues in the security arrangements. “The final draft agreement will be signed in an official ceremony in presence of President Omer al-Bashir, sponsor of the negotiation process,” al-Shami said adding that the signing date of the agreement will be announced later. Sudan Tribune

Africa Has Highest Number of Deployed Peace Operations Worldwide – SIPRI
Last year saw 63 multilateral peace operations worldwide with 25 in Africa – the highest of any continent – according to the latest SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) yearbook. Eighteen peace operations were deployed in Europe, nine in the Middle East, six in Asia and Oceania and five in the Americas. Nearly 75% of peacekeeping and peace support personnel worldwide were deployed in Africa. The total number of personnel deployed in multilateral peace operations decreased by 4.5% during 2017, from 152 822 to 145 911. The decrease in the number of personnel is explained by the fall, by 7.6%, in deployments by the United Nations, whiles the number of personnel in non-UN operations increased by 2.3% to 47 557. DefenceWeb

Gabon to Keep Troops in UN Mission in CAR
Gabon said it will keep its 444 troops in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR), reversing a decision to quit after allegations of abuse were made against the contingent. A government statement said the reversal followed “several requests and appeals from CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera and the UN Secretary General” Antonio Guterres. This was “in line with African solidarity and the excellence of the relations of friendship and brotherhood with the Central African people”, the text released late on Wednesday said. Touadera had visited Gabon last month and asked Gabonese leader Ali Bongo to maintain the troops in the UN force MINUSCA, saying he needed “this force in our quest for stability.” AFP

Fighting between Somalia’s Al Shabaab and Clan Militias Leave 17 Dead
At least 17 people have been killed in fighting between militants from Somalia’s al Shabaab group and clan militias in the country’s central semi-autonomous region of Galmudug, residents and the group told Reuters on Thursday. Somali state-run Radio Muqdisho reported on its website on Thursday that the fighting in the Haradheere area, which started on Wednesday, had been triggered by alleged al Shabaab conscription of teenagers into their ranks. Al Shabaab has controlled the port district for years but has repeatedly clashed with local clan militias over a range of disputes. “Al Shabaab asked for teenagers to be recruited,” the radio reported. A tax called zakat being imposed by al Shabaab had also stoked anger among the residents and militias, it added. Reuters

EU Slams UAE Retaliatory Acts against Somalia over Gulf Crisis
The European Parliament has condemned the United Arab Emirates (UAE), saying the country was taking retaliatory actions against Somalia for the latter’s neutral position on the Gulf crisis. In a resolution passed on Wednesday, the Belgium-based parliament said that Somalia has “sought to remain neutral” on the ongoing Gulf crisis, but was in turn “deprived of regular budgetary support payments by Saudi Arabia and the UAE”. “In terms of the wider confrontation between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and Qatar, on the other, the Federal Government of Somalia has sought to remain neutral; whereas, in retaliation, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have ceased their regular budgetary support payments to Somalia, which further weakens the government’s ability to pay the security forces,” the resolution reads. Al Jazeera

US Troops Should Not Be Fighting in Niger, Says President Issoufou
The president of Niger has said American and other foreign troops working in his country should limit themselves to providing training, equipment and intelligence, not fighting jihadists, in the wake of the botched raid in which five Nigerien and four US soldiers died last year. In a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, Mahamadou Issoufou also promised to quit as president when his second term comes to an end in 2021, committing not to abolish term limits and hang on to power. Europe is not doing enough to support Niger in addressing the root causes of migration, Issoufou added. The west African country has long been a transit point for people from other parts of the continent seeking refuge or a better life in Europe, but in recent years the government has cracked down hard on the lucrative business of moving, feeding and sheltering them. Niger is doing its part to keep the number of people crossing the Mediterranean low; Europe must do more to help fight poverty and create jobs, the president said. The Guardian

Italy Calls for End to Embargo on Libya
Italy’s interior minister has called for the end of the international arms embargo on Libya, saying weapons and migrant traffickers disregard it anyway. Matteo Salvini made the assertion Thursday at a news conference in Rome with a deputy prime minister of the U.N. -backed Libyan government in Tripoli, Ahmed Maiteeg. Salvini added that he’ll lobby fellow EU countries to adopt his position that Libya needs aid when he meets fellow interior ministers next week in Austria. Salvini, who leads the anti-migrant League party, also said he wants to make migrant detention centers in Libya “more pleasant.” AP

Libya Takes Over from Italy on Rescuing Shipwrecked Migrants
Italy has handed sea rescue mission responsibility to Libya’s coast guard in an effort to stop migrants reaching Europe. Critics argue the move violates international law and that Libyan authorities are ill-prepared. At the recent EU summit one week ago, European leaders once again agreed to protect the bloc’s exterior borders from migrants entering illegally. That meant, in effect, blocking migration across the Mediterranean Sea between Italy and Libya. Italy’s new right-wing populist government has already taken matters into its own hands. In late June, it forbid private vessels from bringing rescued asylum-seekers into Italian ports and it struck a deal whereby Libya is now again in charge of rescuing shipwrecked migrants in its own waters. Previously, Italy had assumed responsibility for the entire maritime area between its own coast and Libya’s shoreline, with Italy’s navy headquarters coordinating all search and rescue missions. Deutsche Welle

Destination Europe: Deportation
As the EU sets new policies and makes deals with African nations to deter hundreds of thousands of migrants from seeking new lives on the continent, what does it mean for sub-Saharan Africans following dreams northwards and the countries they transit through? From returnees in Sierra Leone and refugees resettled in France to smugglers in Niger and migrants in detention centres in Libya, IRIN explores their choices and challenges in this multi-part special report, Destination Europe. IRIN

Former Top Officials in Sierra Leone Arrested for Corruption
Two former top officials in Sierra Leone were arrested on Thursday under a sweeping crackdown on graft by new President Julius Maada Bio’s government, the country’s anti-corruption chief said. Victor Foh, the former vice president, has been charged with various counts of public fund mismanagement, including the embezzlement of money meant to help poor Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca, Anti-Corruption Commission head Francis Ben Kaifala said. Mansaray Minkailu, the former mines minister, has been charged for his role in the sale of a stake in a mining project to former President Ernest Koroma’s nephew for an artificially low price, Kaifala told the Reuters news agency. Al Jazeera

No, Uganda’s New Social Media Levy Isn’t Just Another Tax to Raise Revenue
In an attempt to clarify Uganda’s new daily levy for social media users, president Museveni, without irony, turned to Twitter to release a statement, published to his personal blog. The president who first floated the social media tax as a response to online gossip, now says it is meant to reduce capital flight and improve the country’s tax to GDP ratio, which stands at 12%. Cabinet ministers are also fire fighting via social and mainstream media to explain the move as a legitimate tariff. The thing is not many Ugandans are convinced. In fact, four members of parliament are collecting signatures for a recall of the country’s parliament (currently on recess) to reconsider the tax, along with a 1% tax on mobile money transactions. Quartz

Zambia Planning Social Media Clampdown
Zambia said on Thursday it will introduce tough new laws to regulate social media use to fight cyber-crime and combat the consumption of pornography in the conservative African country. Communication Minister Brian Mushimba told parliament that some Zambians were using social media to commit identity theft, send pornographic images and spread hate speech. “It is evident that social media in Zambia has become a catalyst for the detachment of members of the Zambian society from our cultural norms,” Mushimba said. “Prior to the proliferation of social media, people in Zambia behaved and communicated within acceptable and expected cultural boundaries.”  France 24

Djibouti Commissions $3.5 Bln Chinese-Built Free Trade Zone
Djibouti commissioned a $3.5 billion, Chinese-built free trade zone on Thursday, deepening ties with the Asian giant and helping the Horn of Africa nation generate more jobs for its youths. Djibouti, with a population of 876,000, already hosts Chinese, U.S. and French naval bases and it also handles roughly 95 percent of the goods imported by Ethiopia, its land-locked neighbour with 99 million people. The new trade zone, one of several new port and trade facilities being developed by Djibouti, covers 48 square kms and was built by China’s Dalian Port Corporation. The zone will be jointly operated by Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority and China’s Merchants Holdings company. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones