Africa Media Review for June 13, 2019

Dozens Killed in Major Boko Haram Attack on Cameroon Island
A weekend assault by suspected Boko Haram fighters in northern Cameroon killed dozens of people, including soldiers and civilians, officials have said, in one of the deadliest attacks by the group in the country. Cameroon’s defence ministry said that “more than 300 heavily armed Boko Haram” fighters attacked military positions on Darak, an island near Lake Chad in Cameroon’s Far North region some 1,000km from the capital, Yaounde. The toll, which has been revised several times since the attack, was put at 24 dead, of which 16 were soldiers and eight civilians. The ministry said 84 fighters were killed and eight taken into custody. Separately, a military source told the AFP news agency that the fighters had killed at least 37 people. Al Jazeera

AU Envoy Mediates Sudan Crisis as Protesters Slam Military
An African Union envoy is in Sudan to mediate the crisis as leaders of the country’s protest movement accuse the ruling military of pursuing a brutal crackdown on protesters. The Sudanese Professionals Association, which was behind rallies that drove longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir from power in April, released a statement on Thursday saying the military authorities are arresting and intimidating people who took part in a general strike this week. Activists called off the strike and civil disobedience campaign as the U.S. and Ethiopia stepped up efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, following last week’s clampdown by security forces on pro-democracy demonstrators that killed over 100 people. The AU envoy to Sudan, Ahmed Labbat, was to brief the media later in the day on his mediation efforts.  AP

US Names Envoy to Find ‘Peaceful Political Solution’ in Sudan: Official
The US State Department nominated experienced Africa hand Donald Booth as a special envoy to Sudan on Wednesday, hoping he can help craft a “peaceful political solution” between the military rulers and groups seeking civilian rule. The nomination comes nine days after government troops and paramilitaries cracked down on protesters outside army headquarters in Khartoum, killing more than 110 and wounding hundreds over several days. Booth, 65, knows the country well, having served as the Obama administration’s special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan over 2013-2017. AFP

Mali Dramatically Lowers Death Toll in Village Massacre, Citing Confusion
Two days after Mali’s government announced that almost 100 villagers were killed in an overnight massacre, officials have lowered the death toll to 35, saying they had confused reports of missing people for fatalities.  Twenty-four of the victims were children, authorities said Wednesday, citing a count carried out by police officers and doctors. But some community leaders insisted the initial figure was correct, arguing investigators hadn’t uncovered every body in dwellings torched by gunmen.  “He has his toll, we have ours,” Ali Dolo, mayor of the district where the attack unfolded, told Reuters. The bloodshed comes as Mali, a West African country twice the size of Texas, grapples with surging extremist violence and ethnic tensions.  The Washington Post

New Ebola Cases in Uganda Raise Fears of Spread Beyond Congo
Uganda announced two more cases of Ebola on Wednesday — a grandmother and a three-year-old boy — confirming that a deadly outbreak has spread for the first time beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ugandan cases show the epidemic is entering a “truly frightening” phase and could kill many more people, one infectious disease specialist told Reuters. A five-year-old boy who had crossed into Uganda from Congo died late Tuesday, said Uganda’s health minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, and his family were now being monitored in isolation. The two new victims were the boy’s brother and grandmother, the Ugandan Health Ministry said. His grandfather had recently died of Ebola. VOA

DRC: 23 Opposition MPs Declared Invalid, Seats Allocated to FCC
In the DRC, twenty-three opposition members who were already sitting in the National Assembly have been invalidated by the Constitutional Court for the benefit of Joseph Kabila’s Common Front for the Congo (FCC) who has now an absolute majority in the Assembly. Hence the anger of the opposition, which denounces the FCC swindle. Daniel Safu, of Lamuka, invalidated by a court decision, considers that the Constitutional Court has taken judgments outside the two-month time limit set by law, for electoral disputes: ” The Court had to rule before two months and the Court delivers its judgments after two months. So his decision is null and void. It’s outright provocation. They went far this time . ”  RFI

South Sudan’s Kiir Sacks Oil Minister
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has sacked Oil Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth,  according to a decree issued on Wednesday. Ezekiel, who held the post of oil minister since August 2016, was one of the powerful figures in the Kiir administration. He is a strong ally of the country’s first vice president, General Taban Deng Gai. The decree which gave no reason for Ezekiel’s sacking also dismissed Jonglei state governor, Philip Aguer Panyang. According to another presidential decree, Awou Daniel Chuang, will serve as the new oil minister.  Radio Tamazuj

Shutting up Shop: Libyan Conflict Squeezes Southern Tunisia
Standing in his one-room store between tables stacked with brightly colored t-shirts and jeans, Fathi Mars gestures in despair. “If the war continues we will shut down,” said the shopkeeper. It’s a common refrain in Ben Guerdane. The town in Tunisia’s impoverished south has for decades served as an entrepot for goods, smuggled or imported, 35km across the border from Libya. Since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, however, conflict in the neighboring country has decimated business. Around 700 stores have closed in the past eight years as supplies dwindled and prices soared, according to a local traders’ association. The stalls’ skeletal remains pockmark the town’s streets — rusting and buckled metal frames once heaving with goods for sale.  Reuters

Gambia to Take All Assets Belonging to Former Ruler
Gambia will take over all assets and companies belonging to former President Yahya Jammeh and close associate, Muhammed Bazzi, the government announced Wednesday. Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou told a news conference the state will take “all companies and their respective assets belonging to former President Yahya Jammeh upon the expiration on 17 June 2019 of the freezing order of the High Court” and there would be an “immediate forfeiture to the state of all monies, all frozen commercial bank accounts in the Gambia.” Assets belonging to the former ruler have already been frozen by the High Court until June 17. Jammeh ruled Gambia for 22 years but lost an election in December 2016, after which he fled to Equatorial Guinea. Anadolu Agency

Egyptian Court Sentences 296 to Prison on Terror Charges
An Egyptian military court has sentenced 32 people to life in prison on terror charges including plotting to assassinate President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The court in Cairo Wednesday said the defendants attempted the president’s assassination twice, including when he was on pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia in 2014. The court also sentenced 264 other defendants, to three to 15 years in prison, all on terror charges, including militant attacks in the Sinai. Two were acquitted, and one defendant died during the trail, while a minor was referred another court. Nearly half of the defendants were tried in absentia. The verdict can be appealed. Rights groups have repeatedly criticized such mass sentencings in Egypt and have called on authorities to ensure fair trials. AP

Ex-Algerian PM Jailed in Sweeping Anti-Corruption Campaign
Former Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia was imprisoned Wednesday by a Supreme Court judge investigating corruption, taken in a police van to a prison on the outskirts of the capital. Numerous journalists saw the van leave the Supreme Court for the prison of El Harrach after Ouyahia made an hours-long appearance before the investigating judge. Video posted on Twitter by several Algerian sites showed crowds near the prison pounding on the van, which was escorted by police. Ouyahia, replaced in March, was the latest person held in a sweeping anti-corruption campaign amid a people’s revolt to do away with the era led by ex-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He resigned April 2 after two decades in office under pressure from weekly anti-government demonstrations and the powerful army chief.  AP

Nigeria’s Buhari Signals Four More Years Like the Last
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari promised on Wednesday to repeat in his second term successes from his first four years including an improved economy and new infrastructure. His administration has hailed Nigeria’s exit from recession, successes against Boko Haram militants including the return of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, road and railways construction, and loans for farmers, as highlights of the first term. “The principal interest of this administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years,” the 76-year-old former military leader said in his first major public speech since his re-inauguration last month. But critics have often found fault with Buhari’s first term, when he was absent for long periods for health reasons, and economic improvement was largely down to improved oil prices. Reuters

Bobi Wine Vows to Keep Fighting for Freedom in Uganda despite Recent Arrests (Video)
In tonight’s edition we speak to Bobi Wine, the Ugandan opposition politician who has become the face of calls for change from the youth. He tells us he is seriously considering taking part in the next elections. France 24

Zuma Allies Parliament Exits Expose ANC Cracks
The resignation of former South Africa President Jacob Zuma allies from Parliament after they were overlooked for cabinet positions has left the ruling Africa National Congress keenly watching their next move. While analysts cite an economic motive in the resignations – the pensions for ex-ministers is higher than a member of Parliament’s salary – the fact that most of them are allies of the disgraced Zuma suggests a political motive too. Those downplaying the impact of the resignations suggest President Cyril Ramaphosa is cleaning house but others warn the resignees could “come back to bite” him. “All the people who resigned were dropped from their ministerial positions.  The East African

Documents Suggest Russian Contractor Key Figure for Kremlin in Africa
A Russian military contractor indicted last year by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller for meddling in domestic American politics is emerging as a key figure in a wide-ranging Kremlin influence operation aimed at boosting Russian clout in Africa at the expense of Western powers, according to documents obtained by an investigative unit funded by an exiled critic of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Nicknamed “Putin’s cook’ because of his lucrative Kremlin catering contracts, the 57-year-old Yevgeny Prigozhin emerges from a tranche of documents as the go-to oligarch for Moscow’s ambition to turn sub-Saharan Africa into a strategic hub and to reduce Western influence. The documents, first reported by Britain’s Guardian newspaper, detail the activities and goals in various African countries of the Wagner group, a military contractor that supplied Russian mercenaries to Kremlin allies for combat in Syria and Ukraine.  VOA

Captain of Rescue Boat Faces 20 Years in Jail If Convicted of Illegally Aiding Migration in the Mediterranean
The female captain of a rescue vessel that saved the lives of hundreds of migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean faces up to 20 years in an Italian prison on charges of allegedly aiding illegal migration. Pia Klemp, who is German, is a member of Sea Watch, an NGO which deploys vessels to rescue asylum seekers trying to escape Libya and reach Europe by boat. More than 80,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the charges against her to be dropped. Sea Watch is one of several charities which has had its operations drastically curtailed by the policies of Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, who a year ago decreed that NGO boats should not be allowed into Italian ports. The Telegraph

Ghana, Ivory Coast Halt 2020/21 Cocoa Bean Sales as Minimum Price up for Discussion
Ghana and Ivory Coast have suspended forward sales of cocoa beans for the 2020/21 season as buyers and sellers are set to discuss a minimum price proposal, industry sources said. The two West African nations account for nearly two thirds of global output, yet they exert limited influence over international cocoa prices, which have stayed low in recent years due to overproduction. Representatives from the world’s top two cocoa producers are meeting in Ghana’s capital Accra to discuss farmers’ living standards. The governments are proposing a common floor price meant to address farmer incomes, which they complain are extremely low relative to the money made by big cocoa traders.  Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones