Africa Media Review for June 28, 2017

Deadly Blast Targets Police near Kenya-Somalia Border
At least four children and four policemen have been killed in a roadside explosion in southeastern Kenya, near the border with Somalia, according to police. Noah Mwivanda, a senior police officer in Lamu County, said Tuesday’s blast happened between Mararani and Kiunga towns. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The deadly incident bore the hallmarks of similar bombings blamed on Somalia’s al-Shabab armed group, which has previously targeted security forces in the region. It increases the death toll from homemade explosives in the last three months to 46, with policemen as the majority of fatalities. Al Jazeera

Hundreds of Fighters from Chad, Darfur Feeding off Libya’s Turmoil: Report
Hundreds of fighters from Chad and Sudan’s Darfur region are feeding off instability in Libya, battling for rival factions, seeking to build rebel movements and engaging in banditry and arms trafficking, Geneva-based researchers said on Tuesday. Failure to secure peace deals and reintegrate rebels in Chad and Sudan has led to a “market for cross-border combatants” linking those two countries and Libya, said a report by the Small Arms Survey group. With desert regions already crisscrossed by Islamist militants, people smugglers and arms traffickers, there is a growing risk of destabilization unless long marginalized communities can be integrated, it says. The 179-page report largely focuses on the Teda, or Tebu, people inhabiting the Tibesti mountains in northern Chad that fringe the borders of Libya and Niger. They have played a central role in rebellions in all three countries. Reuters

Internet Connection Restored in Congo-Brazzaville after 15 Days
Internet connection in Congo-Brazzaville was restored on Saturday after 15 days of nationwide disruptions and slowdowns that started since June 9, 2017, after a damage to the country’s main submarine cables. It was restored ahead of the five-week projected period given by the technical team working on the cut cable. Network providers confirmed days after the outage that the problem was caused by a submarine cable cut off in the Atlantic Ocean near the economic capital Pointe-Noire. Africa News

East African Leaders Urged to Help End Burundi Stalemate
The East African Community (EAC) leaders were on Tuesday urged to pool together and initiate dialogue with the Burundi leaders to end the stalemate in the country. Deo Hakizimana, President of the Independent Centre for Research and Initiatives for Dialogue (CIRID), a Geneva-based civil society organization, called on leaders of the regional bloc to work together to solve the stalemate through dialogue to save citizens from suffering. “The EAC is a respected strong bloc hence the need for the leaders in the region to strongly come out and engage the Burundian leadership and the opposition in solving the long standing misunderstanding in the country,” Hakizimana said in Nairobi during the launch of Macky Sall Prize for Dialogue in Africa (PMSDA) in Kenya. Xinhua

Audio Message Heightens Concern about Nigerian President’s Health
An Eid-el-Fitr message from ailing Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, congratulating Muslims for ending the annual Ramadan fasting ritual, has turned into controversy and created more concern about his health. The one-minute audio message was reportedly arranged by aides to debunk social media rumors that Buhari, who is in London for receiving medical treatment for an unspecified illness, has suffered a speech impairment. Instead, the president’s quiet, shaky and frail voice has heightened Nigerians’ fears that the president is not getting better. VOA

Igbos Defy Call to Leave Northern Nigeria
Eze Joseph Emmanuel Chukwudimma Obilome sits on a velvet-covered throne in what he calls “the palace,” which is actually a bungalow — a sturdy single-story home with a heavy iron gate and some wooden and copper statues. Obilome is a traditional leader, known as an eze, of the Igbo community in Plateau state, one of the 19 states that make up northern Nigeria. From his throne, he raises his right arm and speaks in a strong voice. “We should ignore the declaration. We are not going anywhere,” he said, peering over the thick, black rim of his glasses. The “declaration” is a demand that the Igbo people leave northern Nigeria. It was issued recently as an open letter to acting President Yemi Osinbajo, signed by a coalition of leaders from northern youth groups. VOA

Nigeria Possibly Acquiring Su-30 Fighters
Nigeria has apparently ordered Su-30 fighter jets from Russia and has already received two examples. This is according to Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Deputy Director Anatoliy Punchuk, who was quoted by Russia’s Sputnik news agency on 26 June as saying Russia will deliver ten Su-30s in 2018. Nigeria apparently received two Su-30s under a contract for the delivery of 12 of the Russian fighters this year. The order comes as somewhat of a surprise as Nigeria has not been known to be interested in the Su-30, and has been pursuing the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) JF-17 Thunder single-engine fighter jet. Nigeria previously selected the type but by the end of 2016 had not yet signed a contract. Indications were it would order three of the jets. DefenceWeb

Sudan Hopes U.S. Travel Ban Won’t Affect Sanctions Lifting -Official
Sudan hopes the revival of President Donald Trump’s travel ban on its citizens and those of five other Muslim-majority states will not affect the planned lifting of U.S. economic sanctions next month, a Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday revived parts of a temporary travel ban on nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who lack strong ties with the United States but want to enter the country. “We hope that this ban decision will not affect next month’s decision to lift U.S. economic sanctions, especially because Sudan has completed all the roadmap requirements that were asked of it,” Foreign Ministry official Abdelghany Naeem told Reuters. The roadmap’s conditions included cooperating with Washington in fighting terrorism, halting interference in South Sudan’s affairs and allowing humanitarian aid to safely reach to conflict zones in the region. Reuters

Lack of Funds Caused Botched Measles Vaccination in S. Sudan
Lack of funds needed to train vaccinators caused the death of 16 children during the botched measles vaccination campaign in South Sudan, an official said on Tuesday. “The measles campaign was carried out by UNICEF [UN Children’s Fund] with World Health Organisation and Ministry of Health. When we asked for funding to train nurses and volunteers who were to administer the vaccines, there was no funding from UNICEF,” Kapoeta state governor, Luis Lobong told the Council of States. 35 children, who received the measles vaccine, fell ill in Kapeota. Last month, South Sudan’s health minister, Dr. Riek Gai Kok attributed the bizarre incident to what he described as typical “human error.” However, while appearing before the country’s lawmakers on Tuesday, Gai explained that steps were being taken by the health ministry, WHO and UNICEF to ensure mistakes to do occur again. Sudan Tribune

Egypt Army: 12 Vehicles Destroyed Crossing from Libya
Egypt’s military says its air force destroyed 12 vehicles loaded with weapons, ammunitions and explosives, after receiving intelligence that “criminal elements” were attempting to cross the western border with Libya. The military said, in a statement on Tuesday, that air force planes had set out to explore the border area and took more than 12 hours to track and deal with, what it described as “hostile targets.” The statement didn’t disclose exactly when the strikes had taken place. In late May, Egyptian fighter jets launched airstrikes on what the military said were militant training bases in eastern Libya, in response to an earlier attack on Egyptian Coptic Christians traveling to a remote desert monastery south of Cairo. News 24

At Least 24 Migrants Die as Thousands Rescued in Seas off Libya
Red Crescent volunteers recovered the bodies of 24 migrants on Tuesday that were washed up in an eastern suburb of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, as large-scale rescues were made in the Mediterranean. Residents in Tajoura district said the bodies had begun washing up at the end of last week. Several had been partially devoured by stray dogs, according to a local coast guard official. The toll was expected to increase as the flimsy boats used to carry migrants as far as international waters normally carry more than 100 people. Three migrants died in the Mediterranean on Monday night, a German aid group said, during Italian-led rescue operations in which thousands more were pulled to safety. Reuters

Au Summit: Absence of Zuma and Ramaphosa Raises Eyebrows
On Tuesday the government confirmed that Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane would lead South Africa’s delegation to the African Union summit on 3 and 4 July in Addis Ababa. It did not explain what is believed will be an unprecedented absence of the South African head of state from an AU summit, but the reason is clearly that the summit clashes with the ANC’s crucial policy conference starting this Friday and ending on 5 July. The debate over policy is expected to be a proxy for the bitter power contest between presidential candidates Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma – strongly backed by her former husband Jacob Zuma – and Cyril Ramaphosa. Dlamini-Zuma, ironically, returned to South Africa from Addis Ababa in January after serving just one term as AU Commission chair. Daily Maverick

Scandal-Hit South Africa Leader Says Doing Job ‘Very Well’
South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday sparred with opposition lawmakers in a parliamentary debate over presidential scandals and an economy in recession, laughing dismissively at criticism and declaring of his job performance: “I’m fit and I’m doing it very well.” Zuma also disparaged opposition calls for a secret ballot to be used in a parliamentary motion of no confidence against him, hours after South Africa’s highest court said it was up to the speaker of parliament, a ruling party member and Zuma ally, to decide how the vote should be implemented. The opposition wants a secret ballot in the belief that ruling party lawmakers could turn against Zuma if their votes are not publicly disclosed and they have less fear of reprisals. “Why are you trying to get a majority you don’t have by saying ‘secret ballot,’” Zuma said. “I think it’s not fair … Let us vote the way we have been voting all the time.”  AP

UN Envoy: Liberia’s Democratic Future Hinges on Elections
Liberia’s future as a stable democracy hinges on successful presidential and legislative elections in October and broad acceptance that they are free and fair followed by a smooth transfer of power, the U.N. envoy to the West African nation said Tuesday. Farid Zarif told the Security Council that “no major threats are envisaged beyond possible isolated and sporadic incidents” during the election period and transition of government in January. But he said “it will be crucial that Liberia’s law enforcement agencies are adequately prepared to respond to potential low-level civil unrest and mob violence during this delicate period.” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took office in 2006 after winning the country’s first election following more than a decade of civil war and was re-elected in 2011, when she was also named a joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Sirleaf will be leaving office and Zarif said there are many candidates vying to succeed her. AP

Kenya Records Five Million New Voters for August Polls
Kenya’s election commission announced on Tuesday that there would be five million new voters taking part in August polls, raising the stakes for incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his longtime rival Raila Odinga. After the first-ever audit of the voter’s register – often seen as a key point at which an election can be rigged – the election commission (IEBC) announced a final list of 19.6 million voters. “Comparatively, the register of voters has increased by 36% (5 222 642 voters) since 2013,” IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati said in a statement. During the audit, 88 602 deceased voters were removed from the list, however the KPMG audit firm said in a report earlier this month that there may still be around one million dead voters on the list. News 24

Kenya Opposition Takes Aim at Graft, Poverty in Election Bid
Kenya’s opposition alliance said it will crack down on corruption and rein in government spending and borrowing if it unseats President Uhuru Kenyatta in August elections. The National Super Alliance would fight graft by dismantling cartels that it says have “captured the state,” according to its manifesto for the Aug. 8 vote, released Tuesday. The five-party coalition, which backs former Prime Minister Raila Odinga for president, also said its government would revitalize industry, run a budget deficit that doesn’t exceed 3 percent of gross domestic product and introduce a fairer tax regime while boosting revenue collection. While current growth is “respectable,” it’s not anchored by productivity but “fueled by profligate procurement-led government spending,” the alliance said. “The average Kenyan is not experiencing improvement in their standard of living” and “many people now doubt whether this growth is real.”  Bloomberg

George Soros ‘Plotted to Oust Equatorial Guinea’s Leader’
Former British mercenary Simon Mann, who led a failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea in 2004, has accused US billionaire George Soros of plotting to overthrow the country’s government. He said he had warned President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Africa’s longest serving leader, of the alleged plan in 2011. But he said he did not have any proof, and Mr Soros has not yet commented. Simon Mann made the remarks as he was testifying on behalf of Mr Obiang’s son at a high-profile trial in Paris. Teodorin Obiang Nguema is accused of using public money to fund his jetset lifestyle in France. BBC

Is Africa with Saudi over Qatar Crisis?
Saudi Arabia recently issued a tough ultimatum to African countries in relation to the ongoing, dispute with Qatar – “You’re either with us or you’re against us.” The ultimatum has revealed the extent to which Middle Eastern rivalries are being played out on the continent. “The fact that everybody in the Horn of Africa at the moment is feeling under pressure to take sides is a very dangerous situation,” Edward Paice, Director of the African Research Institute in London, told RFI. Several countries have already reduced or cut ties with Qatar as a result. Mauritania was the first to distance itself from Doha. Senegal followed, and in fast succession came Chad, Gabon and Niger. RFI

Zimbabwe: Mujuru Set to Dump Tsvangirai? 
Former Vice President Joice Mujuru is set to dump Morgan Tsvangirai for the underrated Coalition of Democrats (CODE) following widening differences on strategy and who between the opposition heavyweights should lead the envisaged grand pact. Mujuru’s National People’s Party (NPP) and Tsvangirai’s MDC-T April this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that saw the two parties agree on an elite pact that also sought to keep out all the political minnows. However, a recent public spat over the choice of coalition chief has seen Tsvangirai and his party outflank the ambitious former Zanu PF loyalist. Confronted with narrowing chances of ever fronting a coalition that comprises the battle hardened opposition leader, Mujuru has reportedly swallowed her pride with her recent move to join CODE. New Zimbabwe

Africa Facing Shortfall of 50 Million Jobs by 2040, Report Says
Parts of Africa could face a massive unemployment crisis by 2040, with “catastrophic” consequences for the global economy, new research has found. The report predicted a shortfall of 50 million jobs, which should serve as a “wake up call” for governments across much of the continent, as well as international donors and agencies. According to the analysis by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, based on world bank data, the labour force in sub-saharan Africa will be 823 million by 2040, up from 395 million in 2015. However, total number of jobs is only expected to hit 773 million, it said, leaving 50 million people in Africa unemployed.  The report looks at why some African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, with great economic potential, have struggled to transform and generate growth that is inclusive for all their citizens. The Guardian

South Africa’s Neighbours Ban Poultry Imports after Bird Flu Outbreak
Zimbabwe, Namibia and Botswana on Tuesday suspended poultry imports from South Africa with immediate effect following outbreaks of highly contagious H5N8 bird flu. South Africa has confirmed outbreaks of avian flu, which is often transmitted by wild birds, on at least two farms. South Africa and Mozambique banned poultry imports from Zimbabwe this month after a bird flu outbreak there. Botswana, which only imports 5 percent of its poultry needs, said it would no longer buy poultry meat, processed products and feeds from South Africa. “The restriction is a precautionary measure to avoid equal infection here as well as protect our people,” agriculture minister Patrick Ralotsia told Reuters. Reuters

Sicily’s Mafia Allies with Feared Nigerian Vikings Gang in Palermo
Collaboration between Nigerian organised crime and the Sicily-based mafia syndicate Cosa Nostra is increasing in the Sicilian capital of Palermo in spite of a recent crackdown by authorities. The Vikings, a gang that originated in Nigeria in the 1980s, is now controlling heroin and prostitution rackets in the Ballaro’ neighbourhood. It is particularly benefiting from the trafficking of thousands of Nigerian women who, once their reach Italy, are forced into prostitution. Authorities believe the Vikings are working alongside Cosa Nostra, “This Thing of Ours”, probably the oldest crime syndicate in Italy and one of the world’s major drug-smuggling players. International Business Times



Photo: Adam Jones