Africa Media Review for June 12, 2018

US Urges Regional Governments to Block South Sudan War Money
A U.S. Treasury official is urging East African governments to tighten the loopholes that allow illicit money from war-torn South Sudan to cross into regional capitals. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker said in Uganda Monday that authorities in neighboring countries like Uganda must make it clear that “corrupt money is not wanted here.” It is widely believed that many South Sudanese government officials have invested heavily in real estate in cities such as Kampala, the Ugandan capital, where it is still possible to pay cash in real estate transactions. AP

Machar Commits to Peace in South Sudan Following Meeting with Raila Odinga
South Sudan’s rebel leader, Riek Machar has committed to the ongoing peace process that seeks to organise a face-to-face meeting with his nemesis, president Salva Kiir. Following a meeting with veteran Kenyan politician, Raila Odinga, Machar tweeted saying ‘something will change’ and emphasising that he has been ‘advocating for this peaceful resolution of the conflict’. ‘‘I have had a fruitful discussion with Hon Raila Odinga in the quest for peace in our country. IO and myself have been advocating for this peaceful resolution of the conflict. The status quo shouldn’t stand. Something will change,’‘ Machar tweeted. Africa News

AU Mission Intensities Somali Operations after Army Base Attack
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said it has enhanced security operations in the restive Somali capital and its environs to flush out al-Shabab militants as the holy month of Ramadan ends later this week. The AU mission said Monday the security operations are being carried out in places including Hawahabid, Lafoole, Afgoye, Albao and Lantabur in south of Mogadishu to degrade the militants who have engaged the Somali and allied forces in nearly daily attacks. The operations came after the extremist group launched an ambush at a military base under the Somalia National Army (SNA) in Siinka Dheer in the outskirts of Mogadishu on Sunday night. Xinhua

2 Attacks in Central African Republic Kill 1 Peacekeeper
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic said Monday that a Burundian peacekeeper was killed and several government soldiers were wounded in separate attacks over the weekend.The mission said Monday that armed elements attacked a U.N. patrol in Bambari on Sunday, killing one peacekeeper and wounding another.The U.N. mission also said members of the armed group Unity and Peace in the Central African Republic attacked a troop convoy heading from Ouaka prefecture to Bangassou in the southeast Sunday.Defense Minister Marie Noelle Koyara said two soldiers and a Russian instructor were wounded. She said five attackers were killed.The defense minister called for armed groups to honor an accord meant to facilitate the deployment of security forces to protect civilians. AP

Life-Saving Operations Halted in the Central African Republic as Rebels Raid Hospitals and Aid Agencies
International charities are being forced to curtail life-saving humanitarian operations in the Central African Republic’s second city after a series of rebel raids on hospitals and aid agencies. The country’s commercial hub, Bambari, has witnessed increasingly intense clashes in recent weeks after a mostly Muslim rebel group, the UPC, launched a campaign to reoccupy the city. A United Nations peacekeeper from Burundi was killed in a three-hour gun battle on Sunday, the latest rebel attack on UN positions in the town. But it is last week’s raid by the UPC on Bambari’s main hospital that has triggered both panic in the city and both censure from aid agencies – even though the rebels merely threatened staff and patients, killing none. The Telegraph

C Africa Asks UN to Approve China Arms Deliveries
The Central African Republic has asked the UN Security Council to approve deliveries of Chinese-made armored vehicles, machine guns, tear gas grenades and other weaponry for its struggling army and police, according to the request obtained by AFP on Monday. Defence Minister Marie Noelle Koyara requested an exemption to an arms embargo, arguing that national forces are “confronted with the strength and escalating violence of armed groups whose illegal activities pose a threat to civil order.” The council imposed an arms embargo on the Central African Republic in 2013 when the country descended into bloodshed but its sanctions committee last year gave the green light for Russia to supply weapons to the national forces. AFP

UN: Situation in Sudan’s Darfur Region Is ‘Radically’ Better
The U.N. peacekeeping chief said Monday the situation in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region “has changed radically for the better” and the United Nations and the African Union are recommending new sharp cuts in their joint security force. Jean-Pierre Lacroix told the Security Council the joint mission is finalizing a yearlong process that saw 11 joint sites close and a shift toward peacekeeping in the mountainous Jebel Marra area where intermittent clashes continue while focusing on peacebuilding in the rest of Darfur. The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans in the vast western region rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing them on civilian populations — a charge it denies. The U.N.-AU force was established in 2007 with a mandate to help protect civilians in Darfur. AP

Experts Alarmed at Rise of Jihadi Terrorism in Mozambique
[…] In the latest attacks blamed on the group known as Mozambique al-Shabab by the government, militants, armed with knives and machetes killed five people in the Quissanga district of Cabo Delgado on the night of June 6. A day earlier, seven people were hacked to death in Macomia district, while more than a 100 houses were torched. On May 27, 10 people, including children, were decapitated after they were allegedly abducted from the villages of Monjane and Ulumbi, near the coastal town of Palma, also in Cabo Delgado. “These attacks appear to be locally driven,” says Wendy Williams, adjunct research fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington. “Leadership … appear to be recruiting mainly by appealing to local grievances of unemployment, social exclusion, and lack of basic public services.”  VOA

Tanzania Orders All Unregistered Bloggers to Take Down Their Sites
Tanzania ordered all unregistered bloggers and online forums on Monday to suspend their websites immediately or face criminal prosecution, as critics accuse the government of tightening control of internet content. Several sites, including popular online discussion platform Jamiiforums, said on Monday they had temporarily shut down after the state-run Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) warned it would take legal action against all unlicensed websites. Regulations passed in March made it compulsory for bloggers and owners of other online forums such as YouTube channels to register with the government and pay up to $900 for a licence. Per capita income in Tanzania is slightly below $900 a year. Reuters

Zimbabwe Parliament Drops Call for Mugabe to Answer Questions on Diamond Mines
Zimbabwes parliament on Monday backed down from its demand for former president Robert Mugabe to answer questions related to diamond mining operations during his time in office.In what would have been his first public appearance since being ousted in a de facto military coup in November, parliament had wanted to question Mugabe about his pronouncements that the state had been deprived of at least $15 billion in revenue by mining companies operating in the eastern Marange gem fields. Mugabe had twice failed to appear before the mines committee of parliament and was given a final chance to do so on Monday, but the committee said in a statement it had now recused the 94-year-old former leader after consultations with the Speaker.The committee did not give any more details. Reuters

Spain Will Accept Migrant Ship Aquarius after Italy and Malta Refuse Entry
A French NGO’s rescue ship, the Aquarius, was given the go-ahead to dock in Spain’s eastern port of Valencia on Monday. “It is our obligation to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port for these people,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s office said in a statement, adding it wanted to comply with its international responsibilities on humanitarian crises. Sanchez, a socialist, issued the instructions after Italy and Malta refused to let it dock. The French organization SOS Mediterranee said the ship carrying 629 migrants, including 123 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women, was picked up off the coast of Libya on Saturday. Among those on board were 400 migrants rescued by the Italian navy and merchant vessels before being transferred to the Aquarius. Deutsche Welle

President Announces New Madagascar Government after Court Order
Hery Rajaonarimampianina, president of Madagascar, says a new government has been appointed after a court ruling which required a “consensus” administration to resolve a crisis sparked by electoral reform. The Indian Ocean nation has been rocked by protests initially called against new electoral laws the opposition said were aimed at barring their candidates from taking part in elections scheduled for later this year. The demonstrations then snowballed into demands for the president to step down. Al Jazeera

How Much Oil? Why East Africa’s Bounty Is Neither Significant nor Exceptional
The recent commencement of Kenya’s Early Oil Pilot Scheme confirms the country’s quest to join petroleum producing and exporting nations. Comprising the latest entrants into the ranks of petroleum oil and natural gas endowed nations, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are touted by some to be on the verge of an economic revolution. This first article of a three-part series puts into context the quantity of East Africa’s bounty, to show the significance, if any, of its resources to the rest of the world. The East African

President of Seychelles Shocks G7 Meeting with Photos of Ocean Trash
The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, shocked the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations with photographs of the damage being done to the island nation’s Aldabra atoll by plastic pollution and other types of litter coming from the rest of the world, State House said on Sunday. Faure told the roundtable of small islands developing states at the G7 summitin Quebec, Canada that Seychelles and other small island countries already had enough of a challenge managing their own waste, and didn’t need to take on the rest of the worlds. […] Faure added that the islands “needed assistance with handling the vast and increasing amounts of marine litter washing up on and polluting their beaches and coasts from way beyond their shores.”  Seychelles News Agency

Toxic and Untaxed: Perils of Global Trade in Bootleg Liquor Exposed
Methanol, mortuary formaldehyde and battery acid were among a cocktail of toxic ingredients found in unregulated drinks, according to the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (Iard). In Kenya, one of the most common varieties of home-produced alcohol is called “chang’aa”, or “kill me quick” . The spirit is widely available in poor townships and is often made with contaminated water and potentially lethal methanol. One variant, “jet-five”, is spiked with jet fuel, while another contains embalming fluid. The figures for consumption of illegal alcohol exceeded 2014 estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), which said that illegal and informally produced alcohol accounted for nearly a quarter of all alcohol consumed globally.[…] The report, Alcohol in the Shadow Economy, said illicit alcohol contributes to widening health inequalities. The Guardian

Scientists Shocked by Mysterious Deaths of Ancient Trees
A tree regarded as the icon of the African savannah is dying in mysterious circumstances. International scientists have discovered that most of the oldest and largest African baobab trees have died over the past 12 years. They suspect the demise may be linked to climate change, although they have no direct evidence of this. The tree can grow to an enormous size, and may live hundreds if not thousands of years. The researchers, from universities in South Africa, Romania and the US, say the loss of the trees is “an event of an unprecedented magnitude”. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones