Africa Media Review for June 11, 2018

Three Trajectories Facing South Sudan
South Sudan is arguably the most fragile state in the world. Lacking an institutional legacy at its creation in 2011, political, security, economic, and social indicators have all deteriorated with the ongoing civil conflict.1 As state legitimacy has eroded, the number of armed factions and tribal militias has increased rapidly, now exceeding 40 such groups. One consequence of the prolonged conflict is that South Sudan is now one of the main exporters of refugees in the world with nearly 2.5 million people seeking exodus in neighboring countries and another 1.85 million internally displaced. Nearly 7 million people (60 percent of the pre-crisis population) face famine and severe food insecurity.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

U.S. Service Member Killed, Four Others Wounded in Somalia Attack
A member of U.S. Special Operations forces was killed in Somalia on Friday and four other U.S. service members were wounded, marking the first time an American has died in action in Africa since four U.S. soldiers were killed in an ambush in Niger late last year. The Americans were conducting an operation against the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group al-Shabab alongside partner forces from Somalia and Kenya when they came under enemy mortar and small-arms fire, U.S. Africa Command said in a statement. The incident occurred Friday afternoon . The Pentagon did not identify the U.S. commando who was killed, pending notification of next of kin. The U.S. service members were assisting approximately 800 local troops as the group conducted a multi-day operation to liberate villages from al-Shabab control in the Jubaland region and clear the extremists from contested areas, according to the U.S. military. The Washington Post

Al Shabaab Strikes again Following Friday Attack That Killed US Commando
A suicide car bomb explosion at a military base in Somalia injured seven soldiers late Saturday, a military official said, and Islamist group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. Al Shabaab fights to topple Somalia’s western-backed central government and impose its a rule based on its own strict interpretation of Islam’s Sharia law. Major Hussein Ali, a Somali military officer told Reuters the attack took place at a military base just outside the town of Kismayu in Southern Somalia. The assault was on the same base where a U.S. soldier was killed in an attack late on Friday. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the Saturday attack and said they killed 40 Somali soldiers. Africa News

Quick Evacuation in Somalia Firefight Shows Disparity in U.S. Resources in Africa
A medical evacuation helicopter reached five United States soldiers in Somalia on Friday roughly 20 minutes after they radioed that they were being shelled by Islamist militants, according to a military spokesman, a prompt response that underlines the disparity in American military resources spread across Africa. […] The response to the firefight stood in stark contrast to the one after a bloody ambush in October on the Niger-Mali border in West Africa, when it took more than four hours to evacuate the wounded.American troops have found themselves fighting militants affiliated with the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in several countries on the African continent. The roughly 500 American troops in Somalia — stationed at a small constellation of bases throughout the East African nation — have been training and fighting alongside local troops there for more than a decade. They are now buttressed by invigorated airstrike authorities under the Trump administration. The New York Times

ICC Overturns Murder, Rape, Pillage Convictions of DR Congo Ex-VP Bemba
International Criminal Court appeals judges have overturned the convictions of former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba for atrocities committed by his forces in Central African Republic. The reversal delivered a serious blow to ICC prosecutors by scrapping all the convictions in the court’s first trial to focus largely on sexual violence and on command responsibility the legal principle that a commanding officer can be held responsible for crimes committed by his or her troops or for failing to prevent or punish the crimes. France 24

US Embassy Warns of ‘Imminent Attacks’ in Mozambique
The US Embassy in Mozambique has warned of “imminent attacks” against government and commercial centers in a northern province of the southeastern African nation and urged US citizens to leave the area. The warning, issued Friday, applies to the Palma district of Cabo Delgado province, where a string of beheadings reportedly occurred last month. The government envisions the region as being a major industrial center for mining and the development of liquefied natural gas. “In light of information pointing to the likelihood of imminent attacks on government and commercial centers in the district headquarters of Palma, Cabo Delgado Province in the coming days, we strongly advise American citizens in the district headquarters of Palma to consider departing the area immediately,” the US Embassy said. CNN

Mali: Three Soldiers, 13 ‘Terrorists’ Killed in Attacks
Three Malian soldiers and 13 “terrorists” were killed in fighting at an army camp in central Mali on Saturday, the defense ministry said. The troops “repelled a terrorist attack in the early morning,” in the central town of Boni,” the ministry said. The army forces “killed 13 terrorists and recovered arms and munitions,” and three soldiers were killed while the attack was repelled, the statement added. Earlier, military sources told AFP that two troops had been killed, along with 13 terrorists in two attacks in the region. Asharq Al-Awsat

Ethiopia PM Vows Not to Harm Egypt’s Share of Nile Water
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali vowed on Sunday that Ethiopia will not harm Egypt’s share of the Nile River water through the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). His remarks came in a joint press conference in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi following their talks on the giant dam that is currently being built on the Nile River. “I swear to Allah that Ethiopia will not do any harm to Egypt’s water,” said the Ethiopian prime minister during his first visit to Cairo since he assumed office in April. Upstream Nile Basin country Ethiopia and downstream Sudan eye massive benefits from the GERD construction, while downstream Egypt is concerned it might affect its 55.5-billion-cubic-meter annual share of the river water. Xinhua

Rival South Sudanese Leaders to Meet in Mauritania
President Salva Kiir and his longtime political rival and ex-rebel leader Riek Machar will meet in Mauritania early July, a government spokesman said on Thursday. Michael Makuei, who is also the country’s information minister, told Anadolu Agency in capital Juba that the two leaders will hold talks in Nouakchott in July as proposed by the East African regional bloc — the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). This is their meeting in nearly two years since the July 2016 fighting in Juba that sent Machar into forced exile in South Africa. The renewed violence spread across the country, and numerous new-armed opposition groups, most of them driven by local agendas formed, further complicating peace efforts. Anadolu Agency

Juba and Khartoum Agree on Oil Production Resumption
South Sudan and the Sudan have agreed to reopen oil wells in the contested Heglig along their common border. South Sudan’s Information minister and government spokesman Michael Makuei announced that a joint team from Juba and Khartoum would soon assess the damage to the oil wells in the area inflicted by the 2012 war between the neighbouring armies. He added that the wells would be repaired for the oil flow to resume in three months. “The two sides have agreed to reopen all the wells within three months,” Mr Makuei said. The pronouncement came following a visit by Khartoum Foreign Affairs minister Al-Dirdiri Mohamed to Juba on Tuesday. The East African

Thousands Rally in Kinshasa for Video Link with Exiled Congo Politician
Exiled opposition leader Moise Katumbi used a video link on Saturday to address thousands of opponents of President Joseph Kabila ahead of a December election that many hope will end his 17 years in power. Katumbi, a millionaire businessman and former governor of Democratic Republic of Congo’s copper-producing Katanga province, is seen as the opposition’s leading candidate in the election. But he has been in exile since May 2016, when prosecutors accused him of hiring foreign mercenaries. He was sentenced the following month to three years in prison for real estate fraud. He denies all the charges against him. “I will return to Congo to end the suffering of the Congolese people,” he told a rally, adding that he would form a coalition with the other main opposition leader, Felix Tshisekedi. Reuters

Anti-Kabila Activist Dies in Suspect House Fire: Group
Pro-democracy activist Luc Nkulala was killed in a suspicious fire overnight at his home in Goma, in eastern Democratic of Republic of Congo, his opposition Struggle for Change (Lucha) group said on Sunday. “We suspect that the enemies of democracy and peace carried out this act on our comrade even though, so far, we don’t know how the fire started,” said Ghislain Muhiwa, a senior figure in the movement which is based in Goma. “Our comrade Luc Nkulula died in a suspicious fire at his house on Saturday night, he told AFP. Nkulula was one of the founders of Lucha, a pro-democracy movement strongly opposed to President Joseph Kabila remaining in power. AFP

Libyan Army Air Raid Kills Egyptian Al-Qaeda Leader in Derna
The prominent Egyptian al-Qaeda leader, Omar Suroor, was killed during a series of air raids carried out by the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Derna on Saturday during clashes between the LNA and a faction of the Mujahideen Shura Council. Local al-Qaeda news outlets officially announced the news on Sunday morning reporting that he died following an air raid attack on his house. They also announced the death of Abdulsalam al-Awami, the al-Qaeda Imam in Derna, and Abi Buzaid al-Shulwi. Suroor was also known as Abu Abdullah al-Masry, and was the official Mufti of the Derna Shura Mujahideen, as well as most Shiite extremist factions in Libya that follow al-Qaeda. He was one of the most known foreign Qaea leaders in Libya and the most wanted man in Egypt with a large criminal record. Al Arabiya

Controversial Ugandan MP Ibrahim Abiriga Shot Dead
A controversial parliamentarian in Uganda has been shot dead. Ibrahim Abiriga and his personal body guard was gunned down close to Uganda’s capital Kampala. Famed for donning yellow attire to show his undying allegiance to Uganda’s ruling party- the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Abiriga represented Arua municipality, a city in the northwest. He was one of the legislators that vehemently supported a controversial constitutional amendment last year which removed the presidential age limit. Opponents of the amendment said it was meant to ensure President Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, rules for life. Africa News

Palermo Defies Populist Coalition to Offer Safe Port to Migrant Ship
The new Italian populist government has announced it is closing its ports to migrants from Libya, leaving 629 rescued migrants stuck on board a rescue ship waiting to see if Malta would instead allow the boat to dock and disembark. In the first evidence of the new government’s hardline approach, the interior minister and leader of the far right League, Matteo Salvini, said all Italian ports were now closed to the rescue boat. The Maltese government rejected a request to take the boat, saying international law required that the migrants should be taken to Italian ports. Writing on his Facebook page, Salvini foreshadowed a wider EU dispute about responsibility for migrants from Africa saying: “Malta takes in nobody. France pushes people back at the border, Spain defends its frontier with weapons. From today, Italy will also start to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration.”  The Guardian

472 Migrants Rescued off Morocco’s Northern Coast
A total of 472 migrants were rescued off Morocco’s northern coast Friday night, the Moroccan navy said in a statement on Saturday. The rescued include 28 women, 27 minors and three infants, the statement said. The migrants were rescued after their ships got into trouble, the source added. 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 Ceuta and Melilla, two Spanish ports in the Moroccan territory, or by sea to Spain or Italy, often in flimsy vessels. Xinhua

SADC Anti-Poaching Co-Operation to Be Extended
Six Southern African Development Community (SADC) states who are “closely knit” have undertaken to co-operate to deal with the scourge of poaching, particularly that of rhinos and elephants. The countries – Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe – met last month in Mpumalanga for the fourth multilateral meeting of defence and security chiefs on anti-poaching. During the meeting SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke, handed over chairmanship of the regional anti-poaching forum to Lieutenant General John Mutwa, Chief of the Namibian Defence Force. An indication of the importance the regional bloc attaches to the protection of natural heritage in Southern Africa can be seen from the positions of those attending. DefenceWeb

Corruption Gutted South Africa’s Tax Agency. Now the Nation Is Paying the Price
The nation’s tax chief steeled himself. Chiding and pleading with President Jacob Zuma to get him to file his taxes — much less pay the full amount — was always an excruciating task.And it kept getting worse. One of the president’s sons, a nephew and countless business allies had serious tax problems as well, four former senior officials said, alarming investigators and leaving them wondering what to do.South Africa’s young democracy had depended on the faith — and taxes — of its people since the end of apartheid, so the risks were evident. If the leader of the African National Congress, his relatives and his influential associates could dodge their tax duties, the rest of the country might shirk them, too, hollowing out the government’s ability to function at the most basic level. The New York Times

 



Photo: Adam Jones