Africa Media Review for June 21, 2018

Hope in the Horn as Eritrea-Ethiopia Thaw Takes Shape
Eritrea’s president broke weeks of silence on Wednesday to respond positively to conciliatory overtures from bitter foe Ethiopia, raising hopes of a fresh start in the Horn of Africa. A brutal, fruitless border conflict between the two countries ended nearly two decades ago. Since then, both have maintained a war footing with shots occasionally fired, and backed each other’s rebels. … On June 5, new prime minister Abiy Ahmed announced that his country would at last abide by a 2002 international ruling that gave the disputed town of Badme, and other territory, to Eritrea. On Wednesday, Eritrea’s 72-year-old president, Isaias Afwerki, a military leader who has ruled since 1993, responded cautiously but positively to Ethiopia’s olive branch. “We will send a delegation to Addis Ababa to gauge current developments directly and in depth as well as to chart out a plan for continuous future action,” Isaias said in a Martyrs’ Day speech commemorating those killed in the drawn-out struggle for separation from Ethiopia. AFP

Kiir, Machar Hold ‘Tough Talks’ in Addis Ababa
President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar held “tough talks” in Addis Ababa for the first time in almost two years. The meeting between Kiir and Machar continued into the night on Wednesday, with more details of the talks yet to be revealed. A top official in Addis Ababa told Radio Tamazuj that the two leaders held tough talks on the outstanding issues yesterday. “The discussions were marred by the experiences of the July 2016 events. The deliberations did not draw a consensus, but the spirit of finding a solution was highly demonstrated during the deliberations,” he said. “The big issue was on matters of security arrangements and power-sharing plan including the number of states and size of the government,” he added. Edmund Yakani, Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress (CEPO) said the meeting between Kiir and Machar was encouraging. Radio Tamazuj

Seven Islamist Militants Surrender in Southern Algeria: Ministry
Seven Islamist militants surrendered to Algerian authorities on Wednesday near the North African country’s border with Mali, the defence ministry said. Security forces recovered arms including six Kalashnikov assault rifles, the ministry said in a statement. Violence has declined in Algeria since the 1990s, when a conflict between the state and Islamist insurgents killed an estimated 200,000 people. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and small bands of fighters allied to Islamic State are still active in some remote areas. Reuters

81 Police, Soldiers Killed in Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis: Govt
Anglophone separatists in Cameroon have killed 81 members of the security forces and more than 100 civilians in their months-long campaign for independence, according to a government report obtained by AFP on Wednesday. Seventy-four soldiers and seven police have been killed by separatists since clashes erupted in the two regions in late 2017, it said. It added that more than 100 civilians had been killed “over the past 12 months,” and at least 120 schools – a favourite target of the radicals – had been torched. The document also calls for an emergency humanitarian aid plan worth $21m, funded from “the state budget, an appeal to national solidarity and contributions from international partners”. The report coincides with a blaze of international criticism over the government’s crackdown in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, home to most of the English-speakers who account for about a fifth of a mainly French-speaking population of 22 million. News24

Northeast Nigeria Threatened by Critical Food Insecurity
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, has been the epicentre of key events and changes in northeast Nigeria during the last decade. The city witnessed the birth of Boko Haram, subsequent years of violence, as well as the arrival of more than 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing their villages that were being attacked. Informal and formal IDP camps have sprung up around the city, repurposing old government grounds, abandoned lots and real estate to give shelter to those fleeing. At more than 100 sites across the greater city, vulnerable Nigerians, majority of whom are women and children, struggle to find ways to rebuild their lives. Many are farmers, as nearly 80 percent of Nigeria’s northern population works in the agriculture industry. With an increase in Boko Haram attacks and the displacement of nearly two million Nigerians, agricultural production has plummeted and staple food prices have sky-rocketed. Al Jazeera

Appalling Conditions for Burundi and Congolese Refugees in Tanzania
About 355,000 refugees from Burundi and DR Congo live in western Tanzania, where they are barred from working or setting foot outside their makeshift camps. The conditions are “miserable,” as Prosper Kwigize reports. … “The refugees live in this camp as if they are in prison,”Moso Molecha said. The 32-year-old is a refugee himself. He fled conflicts from his home town in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) fifteen years ago. “They are barred by the government from going outside this camp,” Molecha said, looking visibly angry. Since he arrived at the camp, Molecha has been living in a makeshift hut. He dreams of returning to his previous life or at least his home country. But the ongoing political instability in the DRC means he has to stay in Tanzania indefinitely. In all three camps — Nyarugusu, Nduta and Kogoma — refugees complained that they do not have enough to eat and lack appropriate school materials. DW

Voting Machines Raise Worries in Congo Ahead of Elections
Congo’s government is moving forward with plans to use electronic voting machines in this year’s highly anticipated presidential election despite warnings from watchdog groups that transparency and credibility could suffer. The vast, mineral-rich nation is under pressure to ensure a fair election in December amid concerns that President Joseph Kabila, in office since 2001, will try to run again or hold on to power. He has remained after his mandate ended in late 2016 as the election has been delayed. While Kabila cannot legally stand for a third term, the opposition worries he will. Already the election delays have been met with deadly protests. As candidates face an August deadline to declare, the voting machines have become a focus of growing concern that the vote could be manipulated. They threaten “electoral transparency as well as the overall credibility of Congo’s electoral process,” says a report released Wednesday by The Sentry, an investigative group focusing on the financial networks behind conflicts in Africa. AP

Museveni Unveils Measures to Curb Crime Wave, Criticises Police
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni accused some members of the security forces of conniving with criminals on Wednesday as he announced measures including the collection of DNA from all Ugandans to help curb surging crime. A flurry of unsolved murders and kidnappings for ransom has eroded Ugandans’ trust in law enforcement bodies. The failure of police to issue an annual crime report since 2013 has fuelled suspicions they are trying to conceal the scale of the problem. “Negligence and even collusion with the criminals by some elements in the security forces has been part of the problem,” Museveni said during a special address to parliament on the state of national security. Museveni, in power since 1986, also said the police needed to show greater vigilance. Reuters

Al-Shabab Militant Group Getting Lucky, Not Stronger in Somalia
Somalia’s most dangerous terror group is likely not getting any stronger despite a series of deadly attacks, including one that claimed the life of a U.S. special operations soldier earlier this month. The assessment, by U.S. military and counterintelligence officials, runs contrary to the conclusions of some analysts and comes as al-Shabab has been flexing its military might in recent weeks, highlighting attacks on both Somali and African Union forces. One of the most publicized of these was a brazen June 8 attack on an outpost under construction two kilometers north of the town of Sanguni, in the Lower Jubba region of Somalia. The al-Qaida-linked militants skirmished with a force of 800 Somali and Kenyan forces accompanied by U.S. special operations soldiers, one of whom was killed by mortar fire. VOA

Malawi Security on Alert after Mozambique Islamists Attacks
Government has said its security agents are on alert after Islamists attacks in Mozambique. Home Affairs and Internal Security minister Cecilia Chazama said the government was monitoring the situation in northern Mozambique very closely. “We are aware of the attacks on innocent people in some areas in northern Mozambique and we are monitoring the situation very closely,” said Chazama. BBC reports that atleast 100 people, including a traditional leader, children and women have been hacked to death with most of the bodies beheaded. The attacks are blamed on Islamists who call themselves al shabab. Nyasa Times

Tunisia Commission Proposes Sweeping Liberal Reforms
A Tunisian presidential commission on Wednesday unveiled a raft of proposed liberal reforms, including equal inheritance rights for women and decriminalising homosexuality, set to face fierce opposition from conservative Muslims. The proposals from the commission – set up by President Beji Caid Essebsi to bring the legal code in line with a 2014 constitution – come as the North African country tries to make good on reforms promised by its revolution seven years ago. The constitution was praised as a key achievement following the 2011 revolt that toppled longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked the Arab Spring uprisings. But the latest reforms put forward are set to face heated debate ahead of legislative and presidential elections next year, with one religious leader slamming them as “intellectual terrorism”. AFP

Stop Exploiting Africa, Share Resources, Pope Tells Europe
Europe should stop exploiting Africa and invest in ways that benefit the continent more, including by sharing mineral wealth more equitably, Pope Francis said. “We must invest in Africa, but invest in an orderly way and create employment, not go there to exploit it,” he told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview, while discussing the migration of Africans to Europe. “When a country grants independence to an African country it is from the ground up – but the subsoil is not independent. And then people (outside Africa) complain about hungry Africans coming here. There are injustices there!” Touching on the reasons for hunger in Africa, the pope said that “in our collective unconscious there is something inside us that says Africa must be exploited.” His comments follow moves in some African countries to win more generous terms from international mining companies. Reuters

Former US President Barack Obama to Visit Kenya on July 16
Former US president Barack Obama is set to visit Kenya next month. According to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Obama Foundation, the former president will be in the country on July 16 before he heads to South Africa where he will deliver the 16th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in Johannesburg. He is expected to hold talks with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi, before travelling to his ancestral home of K’Ogelo to visit with his relatives. There are also indications he will meet Opposition leaders during the one-day trip. The two foundations in a joint statement said the lecture’s theme will be “Renewing the Mandela Legacy and Promoting Active Citizenship in a Changing World”. The lecture will take place on July 17, 2018 – a day before Nelson Mandela International Day – at the Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg. Goobjoog



Photo: Adam Jones