Africa Media Review for June 14, 2017

Illegal Arms Continue to Flow into Libya
A United Nations report concludes that arms have continued to be illicitly transferred to and from Libya on a regular basis. It states that materiel entering Libya has been of an increasingly sophisticated nature. External assistance to armed groups has also increased, with fighting groups expanding their air forces, which have been used in attacks against other armed groups and each other, the Libya Herald has reported. The conclusions were made in the United Nations Libyan Experts Panel final report presented to the Security Council released last week. Assessing the UN-imposed arms embargo on Libya, the 299-page report said that “arms have continued to be illicitly transferred to and from Libya on a regular basis”. SABC

UAE Violates Libya Arms Embargo, Supplies Haftar’s LNA
The United Arab Emirates is playing a destabilising role in Libya, analysts say, days after the release of a UN report that accuses the Gulf nation of repeatedly violating an international arms embargo. The UN’s Libya Sanctions Committee report, released on Friday, reveals the UAE has supplied attack helicopters and other military aircraft to the Libyan forces of renegade General Khalifa Haftar, in violation of UN-backed international sanctions regime. “The United Arab Emirates have been providing both material support and direct support to LNA, which have significantly increased the air support available to LNA,” said the report by a UN panel of experts.  Al Jazeera

Efforts to Rescue Migrants Caused Deadly, Unexpected Consequences
Strategies to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and disrupt smuggling networks have had deadly, unexpected consequences, according to aid groups monitoring the crisis. […] Rescuing migrants closer to the Libyan coast saved hundreds of people at sea. But critics said it introduced a deadly incentive for more migrants to risk the journey and for smugglers to launch more boats. “Migrants and refugees – encouraged by the stories of those who had successfully made it in the past – attempt the dangerous crossing since they are aware of and rely on humanitarian assistance to reach the E.U.,” said a risk analysis by Frontex, the European Union border and coast guard agency. Smugglers use flimsy boats and provide just enough fuel to reach the edge of Libyan waters. Drivers can remove the engine and head back to Libya on another boat, leaving the migrants adrift until help arrives. Groups monitoring the crisis expect the death toll to surpass last year’s figures. And it has done so for every month this year, until recently: A series of drownings over three days killed 700 people in May 2016.  The Ne York Times

Niger Army Rescues 92 Migrants in Sahara Desert
Troops in northern Niger have rescued nearly 100 migrants who were on the brink of death in the Sahara Desert, an army statement has said. Traffickers abandoned the group, which included women and children, without water and food, it added. One child is reported to have died, but there is no confirmation of this. The route from Niger to Libya is one of the main ways migrants reach North Africa before crossing the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe. However, the journey through the desert is perilous as the migrants are crammed into pick-up trucks and have little food or water. BBC

Ghana Is Safe and Stable, But its Young People Are Still Risking Their Lives To Cross to Europe
[…] Ghanaians are increasingly among the ranks of the tens of thousands of migrants flooding Europe’s southern shores. A total of 5,636 Ghanaian migrants reached Italy by boat in 2016, up 27% from the previous year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Through April of this year, 823 Ghanaians arrived in Italy. Refugees fleeing violence or oppressive regimes in countries like South Sudan and Eritrea often overshadow the plight of irregular migrants—those who cross international borders without proper documentation—from peaceful, politically stable countries like Ghana. The West African nation of about 27 million people is an outlier among sub-Saharan African countries with high numbers of migrants. There is no war in Ghana. Few ethnic flare-ups or religious feuds occur, if ever. It’s a staunch ally of the West and a fierce defender of democracy. Yet many Ghanaians still dream of migrating to Europe. Quartz

Trump Weighs Vetoing France’s African Anti-Terrorism Plan
The United States and France are hurtling toward a potential dust-up, as the Trump administration weighs vetoing a French Security Council resolution empowering an African counterterrorism force, according to U.S. officials and U.N.-based diplomats. The dispute hinges on the question of who will help fund the force of 5,000 African soldiers and police in the Sahel, a semiarid plain that stretches from Senegal to Sudan, and whether French military planners have devised a workable strategy. France spearheaded the effort to assemble the five-nation African anti-terrorism force, known as the G-5, but the countries taking part are looking to the United States, its allies, and the United Nations to share the burden of funding and supporting the cross-border operations. The negotiations have emerged as a test of will between newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron, who traveled to Mali days after being sworn in to underscore France’s commitment to battling Islamic terrorists, and President Donald Trump, who is looking to scale back U.S. funding for multilateral operations. A breach over the Sahel force could place new strains on U.S. relations with France and other governments just weeks after Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate pact. Foreign Policy

IGAD’s South Sudan Summit Begins Without President Kiir
Leaders of East Africa’s security and trading bloc in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, called for the revitalization of the 2015 South Sudan peace agreement in a summit in which the president of the war-torn country, Salva Kiir, was conspicuous by his absence. However, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes, was present for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) extraordinary summit, which began on Monday. The presidents of Somalia, Uganda, and Djibouti were also present. “The peace agreement signed in 2015 is the only political solution for the country,” said the press release issued by IGAD. Anadolu Agency

South Sudan Rebels Claim Capturing Key Military Base
Fighters loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar claimed taking control of a strategic northern military base near the Sudanese border on Tuesday — a development that was swiftly rejected by the government as “wishful propaganda”. The base is reportedly used by the army to launch assaults on rebel strongholds in the Upper Nile region. Paul Lam, deputy spokesman for Machar’s forces, told Anadolu Agency their fighters had taken control of Kuek town in the Upper Nile following clashes with government forces on Sunday and Monday. Lam added the fighters had seized military equipment, ammunition and inflicted heavy losses on government troops. He portrayed the so-called victory as a major blow to President Salva Kiir’s recently declared unilateral cease-fire and national dialogue in the region. Anadolu Agency

Medics and School Staff Forcibly Recruited in South Sudan’s War
Staff working in South Sudan’s health centres and schools have been forcibly recruited by armed groups, causing facilities to close, the United Nations said, as it struggles to provide aid in one of the world’s most dangerous war zones. More than 250 aid workers have been relocated because of fighting this year, almost double the number during the same period in 2016, it said. The country’s civil war erupted in late 2013, uprooting a quarter of the population and causing famine. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said at least 14 community volunteers and health workers had reportedly been forcibly recruited by armed groups in Guit county, in the country’s north, as of June 6. Reuters

Zambia Suspends 48 MPs Who Boycotted President’s Speech
Zambia’s parliament on Tuesday suspended 48 opposition lawmakers who boycotted President Edgar Lungu’s address to legislators in March to protest his contested electoral victory. The lawmakers from the United Party for National Development (UPND) avoided Lungu’s address claiming he was not the legitimate winner of the contested August 11 elections. Parliament Speaker Patrick Matibini said they should quit if they did not accept Lungu as the head of state. “I challenge you to resign on moral grounds if you do not recognise that there is a legitimately elected government,” said Matibini. “I have, in exercise of my powers, decided to suspend the 48 members of parliament from service for a period of 30 days with effect from today.” News 24

South Africa’s ANC Youth Wing Backs Dlamini-Zuma to Succeed Zuma 
The youth arm of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday it will back Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chair of the African Union and President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, to be the party’s next leader. The Youth League joins the ANC Women’s League, the party’s military veterans and Zuma himself in endorsing Dlamini-Zuma ahead of a leadership contest in December where her main opponent is likely to be Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa. Dlamini-Zuma, a medical doctor who served as health minister under former president Nelson Mandela, has pledged to address the gaping inequality between blacks and whites that still exists 23 years after the end of apartheid. Ramaphosa, a unionist-turned-billionaire businessman, is more investor friendly and has the support of powerful trade unions and sections of the top party leadership. Reuters

Upheaval at South African Power Utility Could Mean More Trouble For Zuma
Management upheaval at South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has dealt another blow to President Jacob Zuma as he battles allegations that he’s been pivotal to a scheme to siphon off billions of rand from the power utility and other state companies. Ben Ngubane quit as Eskom’s chairman late Monday just two weeks after the ruling African National Congress forced its board to rescind a decision to reappoint Brian Molefe as its chief executive officer. A graft ombudsman’s report and a trove of as many as 200,000 emails leaked to local media indicate that the two officials may have abused their positions to the benefit of members of the Gupta family, who are friends with the president and are in business with his son. Whereas Zuma, 75, was once seen as someone who couldn’t be challenged, the evidence swirling around him and his allies has become “too damning for anyone to ignore,” Somadoda Fikeni, a politics professor at the University of South Africa in the capital, Pretoria, said by phone. “The president is losing ground day by day.” Bloomberg

Ghana President Favors Constitutional Change to Improve Finances
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo said he is in favor of changes to the West African country’s constitution that will allow lawmakers better oversight over public finances. Akufo-Addo, whose National Patriotic Party came into power in January in the world’s second-biggest cocoa producer, is battling rising public debt following a discovery of about 7 billion cedis ($1.6 billion) in unplanned spending by the previous administration of President John Mahama. The new government is also seeking better terms under a three-year $918 million bailout package that the country agreed to in April 2015 with the International Monetary Fund, according to a person familiar. “Our parliament should be able to exercise full authority over our public finances,” Akufo-Addo said in an emailed statement on Tuesday that included remarks he delivered at a conference in Berlin. “It will be necessary to amend the constitution. If this were done, it would enhance significantly parliament’s oversight capacity.” Bloomberg

Egypt Committee OKs Deal to Transfer Islands to Saudi Arabia
Egyptian police and protesters opposed to a disputed 2016 agreement to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia clashed late Tuesday in downtown Cairo, just hours after a parliamentary committee approved the deal. Witnesses said plainclothes policemen moved to disperse dozens of protesters soon after they emerged from inside the headquarters of the Journalists’ Union in downtown Cairo and gathered on the steps leading down to the street, chanting anti-government slogans. They were staging a sit-in protest inside the building, according to the witnesses. They said the policemen punched and kicked protesters and beat them with sticks. Before the violence broke out, the protesters were chanting slogans against Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt’s general-turned-president. “Down with military rule,” they screamed. They were on the steps for several minutes before police attacked them. Newsday

Qatar Pulls All Its Troops from Djibouti-Eritrea Border
Qatar said Wednesday it had pulled all of its troops from the border of Djibouti and Eritrea, East African nations that have a long-running territorial dispute which Doha had helped mediate. […] The 450 Qatari troops controlled a mountainous border crossing between Eritrea and Djibouti, said Nasredin Ali, a spokesman for Eritrea’s biggest armed group, known as the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organization. Eritrean forces moved in after the troops departed, Ali said. Eritrea’s top diplomat to the African Union, Araya Desta, told The Associated Press the move came after Eritrea cut diplomatic ties to Qatar. However, Desta said his country wanted no confrontation with Djibouti. AP

The Deadly Conflict Tearing Nigeria Apart (and It’s Not Boko Haram) 
[…] Fulani communities have been in the Middle Belt for over 300 years. Some have settled, giving up the nomadic life, or graze their cattle locally. But there are others who still embrace a transnational existence, annually migrating along at least three international grazing routes – from Cameroon, Chad, and Niger – that pass through southern Kaduna. Climate change and the drying of northern Nigeria is forcing these herders to move southwards, into lusher but more densely populated tropical forest lands. Traditional mediation systems are failing to effectively adjudicate cross-cultural disputes over land and grazing. Ethno-religious identity drives politics in Nigeria. The city of Kaduna, for example, is divided by its river. North, the majority of its residents are Hausa-Fulani, who have traditionally held political power in the state. On the opposing bank are settlers from the rest of the country, mostly Christians, and “indigens” (a troubling concept that recognises “original” inhabitants to the disadvantage of other Nigerians). Newly created chiefdoms in southern Kaduna are both a political and cultural affirmation of independence from the historical control of the Fulani caliphate. IRIN

UN Warns of LRA Threat Following US and Uganda Troop Pullout
The threat from the Lord’s Resistance Army can’t be underestimated following the departure of Ugandan and United States forces that were deployed to pursue the rebels, the U.N. envoy for central Africa warned Tuesday. Francois Lounceny Fall told the Security Council he is concerned that the withdrawal of troops from the two countries "will create a security vacuum that may be exploited by the LRA and other armed groups operating in the region. He said the U.N. peacekeeping force in volatile Central African Republic isn’t mandated to conduct anti-LRA military operations and the country’s security forces lack training and need structural reforms. Stars and Stripes

DRC Massacre – Villages Await UN Inquiry
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights last week called for an international probe into abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s southern Kasai region, following murder, mutilation and rape and the death of a tribal chief and militia leader. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the list should include summary executions, killings of children, recruitment of child soldiers and sexual violence. Hundreds of people have been killed, many of them mutilated, and 1.3 million displaced, according to the UN, since government forces killed Kamwina Nsapu, a tribal chief and militia leader in August last year. RFI

Ethiopia’s Civil Society Getting Squeezed
From an internet shutdown to convictions of journalists and opposition members, Ethiopia’s civil society has felt like it’s under attack in recent weeks. On May 24, Getachew Shiferaw, editor of the news website Negere Ethiopia, was convicted of “inciting violence” because of a private Facebook conversation. The Ethiopian Federal Court initially charged Shiferaw under the country’s anti-terrorism law, but later charged him under the criminal code and sentenced him to time served since his arrest in 2015. On May 25, a court sentenced Ethiopian opposition spokesman Yonatan Tesfaye to six-and-a-half years in prison on charges that he encouraged terrorism with comments on Facebook. Yeshiwas Assefa, newly elected president of the Semayawi (Blue) Party, called the verdict “disappointing and embarrassing.” VOA

Zimbabwe Tobacco Farmers Struggle Despite Industry’s Big Profits
Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry earns hundreds of millions of dollars in much-needed foreign currency for the government. However, tobacco farmers have failed to reap the huge benefits and are struggling to even feed themselves. Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa reports from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. Al Jazeera

Africa Is Stepping Up to Help Save the Oceans
Plastic will outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050 – unless countries start to limit the number of manufactured products that end up as marine debris. This is one way governments are now pledging to reach the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 – to ‘conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development’. Preventing nutrient pollution of seas, oceans and African lakes and rivers is another. With this type of pollution, the flow of nutrient-rich water, in Lake Victoria for example, from maritime activities leads to excessive plant growth which depletes the amount of oxygen in the lake, suffocating marine life such as fish. While not part of the oceans, inland lakes and rivers are considered part of Africa’s maritime domain. Rising sea levels, temperatures and acidity, the loss of vital habitats such as coral reefs and with them the destruction of marine life and associated biodiversity, also threaten our seas. ISS



Photo: Adam Jones