Africa Media Review for July 9, 2018

Ethiopia and Eritrea Declare End of War
The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a declaration saying that the “state of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end”, Eritrea’s information minister tweeted. A peace deal that ended the 1998-1999 border war between the two countries has never been fully implemented. There has been tension between the neighbours ever since. The declaration came at a meeting between the two countries’ leaders in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara. BBC

After 20-Year Military Standoff, Ethiopia and Eritrea Agree to Normalize Ties in Historic Breakthrough
Ethio­pian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed traveled Sunday to Eritrea, once a bitter adversary, and agreed to normalize ties after an unprecedented summit. The rapprochement between the two neighbors could have far-reaching consequences for improving the stability of the Horn of Africa, which is home to several conflicts and environmental crises. The two nations, sworn enemies for two decades, fought a brutal war from 1998 to 2000 in which at least 70,000 people were killed. In the intervening years, the two sides have clashed repeatedly and supported rival rebel movements. Abiy was hugged by Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki at the airport in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, and they smiled and laughed as they strode past a uniformed band and honor guard. The Washington Post

‘These Changes Are Unprecedented’: How Abiy Is Upending Ethiopian Politics
Abiy Ahmed, the prime minister of Ethiopia, has accelerated a radical reform programme that is overturning politics in the vast, strategically significant African country. Since coming to power as prime minister in April, Abiy has electrified Ethiopia with his informal style, charisma and energy, earning comparisons to Nelson Mandela, Justin Trudeau, Barack Obama and Mikhail Gorbachev. The 42-year-old – who took power following the surprise resignation of his predecessor, Haile Mmariam Dessalegn – has so far reshuffled his cabinet, fired a series of controversial and hitherto untouchable civil servants, reached out to hostile neighbours and rivals, lifted bans on websites and other media, freed thousands of political prisoners, ordered the partial privatisation of massive state-owned companies and ended a state of emergency imposed to quell widespread unrest. The Guardian

Security Sector Stabilization: A Prerequisite for Political Stability in South Sudan
Decades of conflicts in South Sudan have eroded the separation of roles and mandates between the political class and security actors, leading to a deliberate and disastrous convergence. One of the results of this entanglement is that security agencies have become central to politics, as have politicians in military and security matters. As a result, the successful courting and building of patronage-based relationships with the security agencies are crucial to surviving and thriving as a politician in South Sudan. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Former South Sudan Vice President to Be Re-Instated in His Position – Presidency
South Sudan’s former vice president Riek Machar will be reinstated in his position as part of a peace deal to end a near five-year-old war that has devastated Africa’s youngest nation, the presidency said on Sunday. According to a statement, the agreement was reached in talks held in Entebbe in Uganda, mediated by President Yoweri Miseveni and attended by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir and Machar. “After a 10-hour-long meeting, the parties agreed … there will be four vice presidents and Dr Riek Machar will be reinstated as first vice president,” the statement said. It added that although the government and the opposition had agreed to the proposal, “there will be more consultation to come up with the final decision”. Reuters

South Sudan: Confusion over Power-Sharing Deal Agreed to by President, Rebel Leader
Talks to reach a power-sharing deal in South Sudan have ended with conflicting accounts. Some reports have stated that rebel leader Riek Machar has agreed to return to his position as vice president. South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar met for peace talks in Uganda on Saturday in an attempt to end a civil war that has gone on for more than four years. The discussions, mediated by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, ended with conflicting accounts over whether both sides had reached a power-sharing agreement. Deutsche Welle

At Least 9 Killed in Attack on Somalia’s Interior Ministry
A least nine people were killed in an attack on Somalia’s interior ministry, and security forces killed all three attackers after a two-hour gun battle inside, police said Saturday, as the Al Shabab extremist group claimed responsibility. A number of people, mostly government workers, were trapped in the ministry on what had been a normal business day. Witnesses said some staffers died or were injured while leaping from windows or walls in an effort to escape. At least 13 people were wounded, paramedic Mohamed Adam said. The death toll could rise, Col. Ahmed Mohamed said. AP

‘Terrorist Attack’ Kills 6 Tunisia Security Forces Says Ministry
A national guard border patrol in the Ain Sultan area of the Jenduba border province ‘was hit in a landmine ambush that killed six agents’. Six members of Tunisia’s security forces were killed Sunday in a “terrorist attack” near the border with Algeria, the interior ministry said, updating an earlier toll. A national guard border patrol in the Ain Sultan area of the Jenduba border province “was hit in a landmine ambush that killed six agents”, the ministry said. It said the attack took place at 11:45 am (1045 GMT). Ministry spokesman General Sufyan al-Zaq said the blast was a “terrorist attack” and that assailants had “opened fire on security forces” after the mine exploded. AFP

Pope Sends Top Diplomat to DRC amid Standoff with Kabila
Pope Francis is sending a top-level diplomat to the Holy See’s embassy in Democratic Republic of Congo after the Vatican was compelled to recall its ambassador earlier this year over clashes with the government of President Joseph Kabila. Monsignor Ettore Balestrero is currently the Vatican’s ambassador to Colombia and had prior been the Vatican’s deputy foreign minister. The Vatican said on Friday he was being dispatched to Kinshasa to “settle” the affairs of the embassy, unusual diplomatic lingo that suggests the Congolese government hasn’t formally accepted the nomination. AP

40 Migrants Drown off Northern Moroccan Coast
Some 40 migrants have drowned after their boat sank off Morocco’s northern coast on Sunday, local media reported. The dead migrants are from sub-Saharan African countries, and a number of them are women, the Moroccan Alyaoum24.com news site said. The bodies of the migrants were sent to the morgue of a local hospital, in the city of Larache, the report said, adding that an investigation is underway to determine the exact circumstances of the accident. Morocco has become a hub for African migrants who seek to reach Europe for a better life. Thousands of migrants are trying to flee poverty and unrest in Africa each year via Morocco to Europe, either by land into the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla or by sea often in flimsy vessels. Xinhua

New Sea Route Keeps Spanish Rescue Crews Busy
Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service says it picked up 325 people over the weekend as they were attempting to cross a narrow stretch of the Mediterranean Sea from Northern Africa. The rescue service reported that its crews rescued 175 migrants from four different boats in the Alboran Sea on Sunday and is bringing them to Almeria in southern Spain. The service says another 150 people were found making the crossing on Saturday in five different boats, including a kayak. The number of people reaching Europe by the so-called Western Mediterranean land and sea route to Spain has surpassed boat arrivals to Italy this year. The Washington Post

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa Accused of Using Armed Forces to Gain Electoral Advantage
The clearest indication yet that the Zimbabwe Defence Forces [ZDF] could be stakeholders in elections due to be held in three weeks’ time was recorded on camera at a Zanu PF rally on Saturday. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s election campaign rolled into Bindura in Mashonaland Central for a rally where he preached‚ “We won’t return farms to whites” – a message similar to that of his predecessor‚ Robert Mugabe. However‚ soldiers were not amused when people started walking out during the president’s address. Video footage that has since gone viral on social media shows more than five soldiers in full military gear carrying assault rifles. The soldiers try to block a crowd charging away from the rally venue like animals running away from a predator in the wild. Times Live

Sudan’s Former Spy-Chief Appointed Ambassador to Washington
Former director of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Mohamed Atta would leave for the United States during the next few days to take up his duties as Sudan’s ambassador to Washington. Last February, the Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir appointed Atta as Ambassador at the Foreign Ministry days after he was removed from his position as director of the NISS. In press statements following his meeting with al-Bashir on Sunday, Atta said the president renewed Sudan’s keenness to promote its relations with the U.S. He pointed out that the next period would witness resumption of the joint Sudanese-U.S. dialogue, calling for tight coordination among government bodies to remove obstacles hindering the development of ties with the U.S. Sudan Tribune

Egypt Sentences Lebanese Tourist to 8 Years in Prison for Facebook Video
An Egyptian court sentenced a Lebanese tourist to eight years in prison on Saturday after she posted a video tirade on her Facebook page that Egyptian authorities claimed had insulted the country and its leader. The news website Ahram reported that Mona el-Mazbouh was initially handed an 11-year sentence and a fine after she was convicted of “deliberately broadcasting false rumors which aim to undermine society and attack religions.” But her sentence was immediately reduced to eight years. Under Egyptian law, “defaming and insulting the Egyptian people” is a crime. AP

French Investigation Differs with Egypt over 2016 EgyptAir Crash
France’s civil aviation accident bureau, the BEA, said on Friday that information contained in the flight recorders indicated a fire had broken out in the Airbus A320’s cockpit, leading to loss of control of the plane, which crashed in the south-eastern Mediterranean. Forty Egyptians and 15 French nationals were on board. The BEA said the crew could be heard discussing a fire on the cockpit voice recorder and that the plane’s automatic ACARS messaging system had flagged up smoke on board. French investigators have always leaned towards a mechanical fault as the cause of the crash, saying they suspected that a mobile phone or tablet had caught fire. RFI

Jacob Zuma’s Son Facing Charges in Bribery Scandal
For years he seemed untouchable, protected by his family and business partners against allegations of severe graft. But now Duduzane Zuma, son of the former South African president Jacob Zuma, is being charged for his alleged role in a high-level bribery scandal — further evidence, analysts say, that the ruling African National Congress is taking a tougher stance toward pervasive government corruption. Duduzane Zuma, 33, will appear in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg this Monday, local newspapers reported Sunday. His lawyer, Rudi Krause, confirmed the court appearance, but said he did not yet know what the charges would be. The New York Times

Kenya to Trade with Iran in Defiance of US
Kenya will continue trading with Iran even after threats from Washington that it will impose sanctions on countries and firms that trade with Tehran after the US pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran. Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma said Kenya has got its own interests and it does not take instructions from other States. President Donald Trump has warned that America will place sanctions against countries or firms that continue to trade with Iran, after Washington pulled out of the deal, a move, if heeded by Nairobi, will affect Kenyan companies selling tea to Iran. “We do not take instructions from other countries, we know what our interests are and that is what we are sticking to,” said Dr Juma in an interview. Business Daily

Kenya Faces Comesa Axe over Its Bad Sugar
The drama surrounding Kenya’s sugar imports is dragging in regional players with revelations that the country now risks suspension from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) after disregarding its rules on importation and exportation. The EastAfrican has learnt that the controversial importation of an unknown quantity of sugar — which has raised a storm in Kenya, with claims of the commodity being contaminated — was done without the approval of Comesa. Under the rules of the 19-member trading bloc, any sugar imports from outside Comesa attract a common external tariff (CET) of 25 per cent. Goods qualify for preferential tariff treatment only if they originate in the member states and are traded within the bloc. The East African

West African States in Joint Fight against Root Crop ‘Ebola’
Researchers from half a dozen states in West Africa have joined together in a battle against what one expert calls a root crop “Ebola” — a viral disease that could wreck the region’s staple food and condemn millions to hunger. Their enemy: cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), a virus that strikes cassava, also called manioc, which in some of the region’s countries is consumed by as many as 80 percent of the population. The root-rotting disease was first discovered in Tanzania eight decades ago and is steadily moving westward. “In outbreaks in central Africa, it has wiped out between 90 and 100 percent of cassava production — it’s now heading towards West Africa,” Justin Pita, in charge of the research program, told AFP. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones