Africa Media Review for June 1, 2018

UN Approves Possible Sanctions against South Sudan
The U.N. Security Council adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution Thursday that threatens an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions against six people including the country’s defense chief if fighting doesn’t stop and a political agreement reached. The resolution received just the minimum 9 “yes” votes, with six countries abstaining: Russia, China, Bolivia, Kazakhstan, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia. The resolution asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report by June 30 on whether fighting is taking place and “a viable political agreement” has been reached. AP

South Sudan’s Kiir, Ethiopia’s Abiy Hold Talks on Peace and UN Sanctions
South Sudan President Salva Kiir Wednesday was in Addis Ababa to discuss the IGAD brokered peace forum on the implementation of 2015 peace agreement but also the looming UN sanctions on his senior ministers. The visit comes 24 hours before an extraordinary meeting on the stalled peace forum of the IGAD Council of Ministers chaired by Ethiopia. Also, on Thursday the UN Security Council will deliberate and vote on individual sanctions targeting his top ministers. Following a meeting with the visiting South Sudanese president, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed the support of his country to the peace forum adding that Addis Abba would continue to work hard for peace and stability in the neighbouring troubled South Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Gun Battle between Government Forces Erupts in Mayom
Fierce fighting started between forces commanded by Gen. Mathew Puljang and a group of soldiers allied to Gen. Stephen Buay Rolnyang in Mayom. The two commanders are allied to the South Sudanese army. An army officer told Radio Tamazuj this afternoon that heavy fighting was ongoing between government troops commanded by Gen. Mathew Puljang and a group of soldiers commanded by SPLA Division 5 former commander Stephen Buay Rolnyang in Mayom. “The fighting is ongoing on. The clashes erupted around 11 am in Mayom,” an army officer under Gen. Puljang told Radio Tamazuj. “Gen. Buay came to Mayom to visit his family, but we did not know that he came from Wau to Mayom to cause problems,” he said. Radio Tamazuj

‘Unamid Downsizing Spells Dire Consequences for Darfur’
The Sudanese Communist Party has condemned “the ongoing government violations and the terrible security deterioration in large parts of Darfur.” A statement issued by the party’s political bureau has warned of “dire consequences of the decision to downsize Unamid, which has ignored the security situation in Darfur”. Siddig Yousef of the leadership of the Communist Party denounced the ongoing violations by the government in Darfur, referring to the attacks on Khamsa Dagayig camp in Zalingei and Aradeiba camp in Garsila in Central Darfur, as well as the repeated attempts by the government to use force to dismantle Kalma camp in Nyala, capital of South Darfur. Radio Dabanga

Victims of Fake AIDS Treatment Sue Gambia’s Ex-Ruler
Three victims of a fake AIDS cure created by Gambia’s ex-president sued for damages on Thursday in the first case against Yahya Jammeh to reach national courts since the former leader fled into exile. The three filed a lawsuit at the High Court in the capital of Banjul on Thursday, said U.S.-based charity AIDS-Free World, which helped them gather evidence. Jammeh, whose 22-year rule over the tiny West African country was marked by accusations of human rights abuses, fled to Equatorial Guinea last year after losing an election. Reuters

Central African Republic Approves War Crimes Court
Central African Republic has approved a law creating a special criminal court to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity during more than a decade of ethnic and religious conflict, a lawmaker said. Hundreds have died in the violence and scores more have been raped and tortured but the perpetrators have not faced any meaningful legal pursuit, rights activists say. “With this law, we will now be able to count on the justice system to put an end to the conflicts, to the killings, to the massacres,” Ernest Mezedio, a national deputy, told Reuters on Wednesday. “The executioners who walk around freely should know that the hour of justice has sounded,” he said. The country’s parliament approved the law late on Tuesday. Reuters

Burkina Faso Abolishes Death Penalty in New Penal Code
Burkina Faso’s parliament has abolished the death penalty by adopting a new penal code that strikes it as a possible sentence. Justice Minister Rene Bagoro said on Thursday that the revised document paves the way for “more credible, equitable, accessible and effective justice in the application of criminal law”. The death penalty was kept in the version of the criminal code adopted in 1996, but Burkina Faso has not imposed capital punishment recently. Many rights movements, including Amnesty International and Catholic Church activists have pressed the government for a decade to remove it from criminal statutes. AP

Nigeria Arrest Dozens of Pro-Biafran Protesters
Dozens of pro-Biafran protesters were arrested on Wednesday across Nigeria’s southeastern region,, as authorities tried to frustrate calls for a sit-in to mark the 51st anniversary of the country’s civil war. A police spokesman Ebere Amaraizu said at least 21 pro-Biafran protesters were rounded up in the southeastern town of Enugu because they hoisted the outlawed flag of Biafra, a breakaway republic of ethnic Igbo whose unilateral declaration on May 30, 1967 touched off the 30-month civil war in which nearly 2 million lives were lost. The victims were mostly ethnic Igbo. “The Enugu State command of the Nigeria Police Force through its operatives today nabbed the leader of the Biafran Zionist Movement identified as one Benjamin Onwuka alongside with some of his members numbering about 21,” Amaraizu told reporters. Anadolu Agency

Nigeria Cuts Age Limits for Political Candidates
Nigeria on Thursday reduced the age limits for political office, a move aimed at reflecting the demographics of Africa’s most populous nation and ushering in younger leaders. President Muhammadu Buhari gave his assent to the “Not Too Young To Run” bill. The legislation was passed by both houses of parliament last year and then won majority approval at state level. Buhari, 75, signed the bill into law in the presence of young people from all of Nigeria’s 36 states and Federal Capital Territory in Abuja. He told them the legislation would help young people make their mark in politics, as they have done in business, sport, the media, arts and entertainment. AFP

UN Reports Unprecedented Fighting in Libyan City of Derna
Fighting in the Libyan city of Derna has reached unprecedented levels, with air raids, shelling of residential areas and heavy ground clashes, the United Nations humanitarian office said in a report on Thursday. There were severe water, food and medicine shortages, and electricity and water were completely cut off for the approximately 125,000 residents of Derna, which has been encircled since July 2017 by the Libyan National Army, it said. Al Arabiya

There’s a New Battle for Influence in Central Africa, and Russia Appears to Be Winning
[…] Faced with an ongoing crisis, Touadera was forced to look elsewhere for help — and Russia saw an opportunity. The first signs of a budding friendship emerged last October, when Touadera met Russia’s foreign minister in Sochi. The two discussed politics, trade and “the considerable potential for partnership in mineral-resources exploration,” according to Russia’s foreign ministry. Just two months later, Russia won an exemption to a U.N. arms embargo to donate small arms and ammunition to the Central African Republic’s military. Moscow sent the shipment in early 2018, along with five military and 170 civilian instructors to train two army battalions. While the arms-embargo exemption was by the book, what followed has been more opaque. Touadera now has a Russian security adviser and Russians in his presidential guard. Mercenaries from the same Russian company caught up in a recent Syrian clash are believed to be in the country. From the convoy in rebel-held Ndele to Russian emissaries flying around the country, it’s unclear who exactly is doing business on behalf of Moscow in the Central African Republic. The Washington Post

Zimbabwe: Trump Administration Turning ‘Blind Eye’ to Sanctions
Zimbabwe’s President says the Trump administration is easing enforcement of sanctions on the southern African country. The president spoke Thursday in Gweru town, about 350 kilometers south of Harare, a day after setting July 30 as the date for the next election. In an hour-long speech Thursday to his ZANU-PF party supporters, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said relations with Western countries are warming up since he came to power last November, after his predecessor Robert Mugabe resigned under pressure from the military. He said the U.S. is overlooking sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in the early 2000s following reports of human rights abuses and election rigging by the Mugabe regime. VOA

Defence Minister Warns of Intervention in Madagascar Crisis
Madagascar’s defence minister, General Beni Xavier Rasolofonirina, threatened on Thursday to deploy security forces if the government and opposition failed to resolve a crisis sparked by controversial election laws. His warning came after crunch talks between the opposition and government failed to defuse the dispute. “We call on all of the leaders involved in this crisis who want to obstruct the life of the nation to find a solution,” said Rasolofonirina in a statement. “If this is unsuccessful, the security forces will intervene as the nation’s last resort… to avoid a catastrophe.” Madagascar has been rocked by violent protests since April 21 that initially sought to oppose new laws that the opposition said were crafted to bar their candidates from participating in elections expected this year. AFP

Stringent Controls in Tanzania Mining Sector Begin to Pay Off
Tanzania has collected Tsh615 million ($270,000) as royalty from tanzanite small-scale miners in the first three months of 2018. This, the government says, is $100,000 more than the total collected in the last three years. Minerals minister Angellah Kairuki said the increase (59 per cent) arose after government introduced controls to curb illegal mining of the blue-violet gemstone that is only found in Tanzania. Last year, a parliamentary committee investigated tanzanite mining and reported that there was massive smuggling. The investigation revealed that the country only received 5.2 per cent of revenues from global tanzanite trade over the past decade. The East African

Egypt Is ‘Playing with Fire’ as Wheat Disputes Risk Supply
Egypt may have to import more wheat — and at higher prices — as problems from payment disputes to a fungus-tainted cargo disrupt supplies to one of the worlds top importers.The North African country on Thursday said it rejected a cargo of Russian wheat due to higher-than-allowed levels of the common ergot fungus, which is only harmful in large amounts. That follows two shipments of Russian grain that were held back amid payment disputes, while another wont be shipped due to a missed delivery time.Delivery disruptions could leave Egypts state-run buyer in a difficult position, having to buy at much higher prices than in previous tenders. Benchmark futures in Chicago surged 23 percent this year amid dryness from the U.S. to the Black Sea region that hurt crops. Any purchases would also come at a time when the General Authority for Supply Commodities typically slows imports toward the end of the season. Bloomberg

Algeria Plans Higher Costs for Identity Documents to Ease Battered Finances
Algeria plans huge hikes to the fees for identity papers, passports and driving licences, according to an official document seen by Reuters, as the government tries to ease pressure on state finances and secure new revenue sources. The North African OPEC member country has been facing financial pressure since crude oil prices started falling in mid-2014, halving its oil and gas revenue, which accounts for 60 percent of state budget. The government expects a budget deficit of 9 percent of gross domestic product in 2018, up from the 8 percent forecast for this year but down from 14 percent in 2016, the presidency said in October. Under the new government plan, a national identity card, which is now delivered free of charge, will see its cost reach 2,500 dinars ($22), said the document, which gave no indication of the proposed target to be raised. Reuters

How Chopping Off Their Horns Helps Save Rhinos from Poachers
[…] The strategy has produced dramatic results in several reserves. Chris Galliers, chairman of the Game Rangers Association of Africa, analysed 2010-15 poaching statistics from the south-eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal and found that nearly a quarter of rhino deaths were on private reserves. But over the past two and half years, coinciding with the intensive dehorning efforts, that has dropped to 5%. Toft has removed close to 1,800 horns from 900 rhinos in the past three years in KwaZulu-Natal, which has been heavily targeted by poachers. Both Galliers and Toft acknowledge that dehorning is not a permanent or ideal solution to the crisis. “This is not something we want to do. It’s expensive and invasive but we believe it is a necessary evil,” says Galliers, noting that it costs about £580 to safely dehorn a rhino. Horn trimming rhinos in South Africa – in pictures The cost is based on the hiring of helicopters and skilled vets. Galliers, also head of the anti-poaching initiative Project Rhino, points out that dehorning must be repeated every 18-24 months as the horns regrow naturally.  The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones