Africa Media Review for June 26, 2018

Curfew Ordered after Deadly Clashes between Herders and Farmers in Nigeria
At least 86 people have been killed in fighting between Muslim herders and Christian farmers. The attack is part of a seemingly unstoppable cycle of violence that many consider to be Nigeria’s largest security challenge. The president of Nigeria appealed for calm late on Sunday following violent clashes between mostly Muslim herders and Christian farmers in the central state of Plateau that left an estimated 86 people dead. Describing the deaths as “deeply unfortunate killings,” President Muhammadu Buhari said that “no efforts will be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice” and prevent further violence. … The violence was the latest to occur as part of a long-term battle between predominantly Muslim herders from the north of the country and Christian farmers who live in the south. The ongoing fighting, in which members of herding and farming communities alternately attack one another in what has become a familiar pattern that authorities seem unable to stop, is considered by many analysts to be Nigeria’s biggest security threat, surpassing the Boko Haram Islamist militia that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009. DW

Nigeria Herder-Farmer Conflict Highlights Squeeze on Arable Land
The violent conflicts between farmers and semi-nomadic herders in Nigeria that left dozens of people dead over the weekend illustrate the intensifying pressure and competition for arable land in Africa, experts said Monday. Fertile land that is dwindling due to climate change combined with a population boom are fueling conflicts across the continent, they said. … Nigeria has one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, rapidly approaching 200 million and expected to be bigger than the United States by 2050, according to United Nations estimates. … Africa’s arable land is being taken up by infrastructure, farmers and multinational agricultural firms seeking to produce food for a growing population, depriving herders of grazing reserves, Depagne said. “More people to feed means more agricultural settlement and less available land and water for herders. All of this tend to trigger more and more disputes,” he said. VOA

The Untold Killings That May Have Triggered Plateau Massacre
Two days before the Saturday massacre of mainly Christian mourners in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State, four Fulani cattle traders were murdered in the same area. … Two days after the Saturday killings, which have been condemned by Nigerians including President Muhammadu Buhari, a leader of Fulani herdsmen said he believed the killing was a reprisal attack. He suggested the killings were in retaliation for the killing of hundreds of cows allegedly by ethnic Berom youth. “These attacks are retaliatory,” Danladi Ciroma, the chairman of the north central chapter of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), said on Monday. “As much as I don’t support the killing of human being, the truth must be told that those who carried out the attacks must be on revenge mission. Premium Times

South Sudan’s Peace Talks Kick off in Khartoum
Direct talks between South Sudan’s government and the main opposition group led by Riek Machar have begun on Sunday in Khartoum amid large diplomatic and regional presence. Ahead of the talks on Sunday, President Salva Kiir and Machar held a face-to-face meeting under the auspices of President Omer al-Bashir in the presence of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. But the details of the meeting haven’t been disclosed. … President Kiir said he came to the current round of negotiations to reach solutions to the outstanding issues with an open mind to achieve peace in South Sudan and to stop the “unjustified war”. He expressed his hope that “my brother Dr Rick Machar” also came with an open heart to lead the country to safety and security away from internal differences and enable the people of South Sudan to enjoy peace, stability and prosperity, as he said. Machar and Kiir held a first face-to-face discussion under the auspices of the IGAD chairperson, Abiy Ahmed on 20 June. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Refugees in Uganda Urge Kiir and Machar to Sign Peace Deal
South Sudanese refugees who are currently living in various camps in Uganda’s West Nile region have appealed to President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to agree and sign a compromised peace deal to end the ongoing conflict. Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Monday, several refugees said they were experiencing harsh conditions in the camps, calling on the two leaders to bring peace so they can return home. Moses Taban, a South Sudanese refugee in Uganda, expressed optimism that the ongoing peace talks between Kiir and Machar will bring peace in South Sudan. “I am hoping that if they have love and they feel the suffering of South Sudanese, they will bring our suffering to an end through lasting peace agreement. We are tired and we need peace now not tomorrow,” he said. Kaku Mary, another South Sudanese refugee, urged the leaders to stop the ongoing war and restore peace and stability in South Sudan. “We need to go back to farm in our country and contribute towards development in our country. We expect the leaders to sign a peace deal so that we can get better hospitals, schools and roads and enjoy development,” she said. Radio Tamazuj

Two Die after Blast at Zimbabwe Presidential Rally: State Newspaper
Two people died on Monday from injuries they suffered when an explosion rocked an election campaign rally by Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the weekend, a state-owned newspaper reported. Mnangagwa escaped unhurt from the blast on Saturday in the city of Bulawayo, an opposition stronghold, and police have said they were searching for a motive. Police originally said 49 people had been injured at the rally, the first in Bulawayo by 75-year-old Mnangagwa in his campaign for presidential and parliamentary elections on July 30. The vote is being held after Robert Mugabe was forced to resign as president following a de facto coup in November. Mugabe has said he felt betrayed by Mnangagwa, a former protege, and has called his presidency illegal. Quoting officials at Bulawayo’s Mpilo Hospital, the Herald newspaper said on its website that two people admitted to the institution had died from their injuries. A ruling ZANU-PF party official said earlier that one of the victims was a member of the Presidential Guard, an army unit that provides close security to Mnangagwa and his two deputies. Reuters

FBI Arrives in Ethiopia to Help Probe Blast
FBI investigators have arrived in Ethiopia to help with the inquiry into last Saturday’s attack on a huge political rally in the capital, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s Federal Police Commissioner General Zeynu Jemal has told me. A total of 28 suspects were now in custody, he added. The deadly explosion occurred just after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had finished addressing the rally in Addis Ababa, which was called to show support for the reforms he has introduced since taking office in April. The offer of help was made during talks between the US Under Secretary of Commerce, Gilbert Kaplan, and the Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu. Dozens of people have been arrested in connection with the blast, including the deputy chief of police in the capital, Addis Ababa. Ebru

Eritrea Sends Delegation to Ethiopia for First Talks Since Conflict
A high-level delegation from Eritrea was due to arrive in its neighbour and long-time foe Ethiopia on Tuesday to discuss recent peace overtures, raising hopes of a breakthrough in one of Africa’s most intractable military stand-offs. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said this month he was ready to honour all the terms of a peace deal that ended the countries’ 1998-2000 conflict – suggesting he might be willing to settle a festering row over the position of their border. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said last week he welcomed what he called Ethiopia’s “positive messages” and decided to send his first official delegation to the government in Addis Ababa in two decades. The Eritrean delegation was made up of presidential adviser Yemane Gebreab, Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and the envoy to the African Union, the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said. Eritrea fought a border war with its larger neighbour that killed about 80,000 people, but both sides remain at odds over the status of the frontier town of Badme. The border has remained militarised ever since. Reuters

Mozambique’s Leader Wants Renamo to Disarm Immediately
Mozambique’s president on Monday called for the immediate disarmament of the opposition Renamo’s armed wing in a bid to conclude the peace process initiated before the death of its leader. The disarmament and integration of Renamo fighters into the regular army and police has been a major sticking point in any peace deal and government would want it finalised before the local government elections which are three months away. The former rebel group Renamo – which was led by Afonso Dhlakama until his unexpected death in May – operates both as an opposition party and as an armed militant group. … Renamo accepts disarming its military wing, but differs with the government on the timeline, preferring that demilitarisation takes place shortly after the October elections. News24

Mali Administrators’ Strike Threatens July Presidential Vote
Mali local government administrators at the front line of organizing next month’s presidential election launched a seven-day strike Monday demanding more security and allowances, two unions representing them said. The administrators, who hold the rank of prefects or sub-prefects, are the government’s representatives at the local level. They are in charge of organizing the July 29 vote, and said the strike will last until at least July 1, after talks with the government collapsed over the weekend. “We are concerned about our safety and working conditions. We have requested benefits in accordance with regulations, but we have not been listened to,” said Olivier Traore, secretary general of one of the unions. The strike comes against a backdrop of growing security concerns and instability ahead of the election, and could impact the organization of the vote. France told Mali’s government on Tuesday to react strongly after at least 16 Fulani herders were killed in the latest suspected ethnic clash. VOA

Mali: Presidential Elections Critical to Consolidate Democracy, Says UN Peacekeeping Chief
Though the past 12 months had been the most encouraging in terms of advancing the peace process in Mali, security challenges still pose a dangerous threat, with civilians and security forces still being attacked, the top United Nations peacekeeping official told the Security Council on Thursday. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, said that upcoming Presidential elections, set for 29 July, must lay the foundation for consolidating democracy in the west African country. The priority, he underscored, must be for all actors to work hand in hand for an inclusive and constructive political dialogue, conducive to the peaceful resolution of disputes. After the elections, the focus must be on implementing the institutional aspects of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali, added Mr. Lacroix. UN News Centre

Italy Proposes African Migrant Centres to Halt Immigrant Tide
Italy called on Monday for migrant centres to be set up in Africa to stop a tide of asylum-seekers fleeing toward western Europe, as Rome raised pressure on its European Union partners to take a much tougher approach to immigration. The new Italian government has closed its ports to charity ships operating in the Mediterranean, saying the EU must share the burden of disembarking the hundreds of migrants who are plucked from waters each month, mostly off the Libyan coast. Italy, which lies close to Libya, has taken in 650,000 boat migrants since 2014. Its tough new approach has aggravated EU tensions over immigration policy and created concerns among investors. “Reception and identification centres should be set up…,” Italy’s anti-immigration interior minister, Matteo Salvini, said on a visit to Libya, the departure point for most migrants trying to reach Europe by sea. … However, the Tripoli-based government, which does not control the whole of Libya, is unwilling to host reception centres itself. Maiteeg said that while his government was ready to tackle migration, “we completely reject any migrant camps in Libya”. Reuters

‘No Obstacles’ in Launching CAR Special Criminal Court
A court charged with probing atrocities committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) has cleared its final hurdle and is expected to launch investigations later this year, its special prosecutor said on Monday. “There are no more obstacles to prevent the court from starting its judicial activities,” said Toussaint Muntazini in the CAR capital Bangui, adding that work should start in the latter half of 2018. The Special Criminal Court’s regulations were adopted by parliament in late May and validated by the Consitutional Court, he added. It now remains for CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera to sign a formal decree covering the SCC’s regulation and organisation and the work of a special police force attached to the court. News24