Africa Media Review for June 30, 2017

UN Agrees to Cut down Darfur Peacekeeping Force
UN Security Council has agreed to a major reduction of peacekeepers in Sudan’s Darfur region after US pressure led to a $600m cut in the UN budget for peace operations. The council on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by the UK that will cut the number of troops and police serving in the joint African Union-UN mission known as UNAMID by at least 30 percent. Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Sudan’s capital Khartoum, said the mission would be downsized in only 11 out of 36 stations of Darfur. “UN plans to focus more on development for about 2.7 million displaced people in Darfur as opposed to protecting peace, which they think is no longer needed,” she said. Deployed in 2007, UNAMID has about 16,000 blue helmets on the ground who are tasked with protecting civilians in the war that Sudan’s government forces and pro-Khartoum fighters are waging against rebel groups.  Al Jazeera

UN Ends Peacekeeping Mission in Ivory Coast after 13 Years
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast comes to an end Friday, 13 years after it intervened to implement a peace agreement as the West African economic powerhouse was split in two by civil war. While many praise the mission’s success in stabilizing the country after years of conflict and post-electoral violence, others point to a recent series of army mutinies as a sign that peace remains tentative. “The departure of UNOCI shows the remarkable progress that has been accomplished in Ivory Coast on the path to peace, lasting stability and economic prosperity,” said Aichatou Mindaoudou, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative for the country. U.N. peacekeepers first worked to maintain a cease-fire between the rebel-controlled north and the government-controlled south after an attempted coup in 2002 led to civil war. A peace deal in 2007 ultimately brought key rebel leaders into the administration, but deep divisions remained. AP

South Africa’s Ruling Party Meets amid Divisions over Zuma
South Africa’s divided ruling party is holding a major policy conference amid disputes over President Jacob Zuma, whose scandal-ridden tenure has prompted calls for his resignation from some of his former supporters. The meeting of African National Congress delegates opened Friday in Johannesburg. Some party members boycotted the event because of concerns about alleged state corruption and mismanagement that they say has happened on Zuma’s watch. The ANC is seeking to project unity at the conference. But it is under pressure because of economic problems that are partly linked to the political uncertainty surrounding Zuma, who fired a widely respected finance minister in a Cabinet reshuffle in March. AP

South Sudan Says Aid Workers Can Not Go to ‘Insecure’ Rebel-Held Areas
South Sudan’s government says it may withhold permission for aid workers to go to some rebel-held areas on security grounds, the president’s spokesman said on Thursday, after the U.N. complained aid convoys were being blocked. “We cannot allow them (aid workers) to go and then be hit by wrong elements against peace and then the government will be blamed,” said the spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny. “It is about safety for the humanitarians. It is to be coordinated, and the government can only clear the humanitarian workers when it is safe.” South Sudan’s four-year-old civil war has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than three million. Earlier this year, the U.N. briefly declared a famine in the northern rebel stronghold of Unity state. Reuters

South Sudan National Dialogue Officials in South Africa for Talks with Rebel Leader
The National Dialogue Committee Co-Chairman Angelo Beda, flanked by several senior officials, Wednesday arrived in South Africa to consult with the exiled former First Vice President turned rebel leader, Riek Machar. The delegation is yet to arrange how and when it will meet Machar in coordination with authorities of the host country. Machar has been under solitary confinement since he left Sudan for South Africa. His departure was decided by the IGAD leader and backed by the American administration. However, South Sudanese officials say his accommodations are paid by Juba. Officials in Juba, in the past months, said they do not want to involve the rebel leader personally in any negotiated settlement and suggested that he can designate any of his aides to represent him. Sudan Tribune

Congo Skips Independence Day Parade for Security Reasons
Democratic Republic of Congo will not hold its annual independence day military parade on Friday because of security concerns, an adviser to President Joseph Kabila said on Thursday. Congo’s independence day parades, held each of the last three years, are usually festive events that mark the end of Belgian colonial rule in 1960 and have been used to show off the Central African country’s latest arms acquisitions. But rising militia violence, a growing humanitarian crisis and a spate of prison breaks have unsettled Africa’s largest copper producer in recent months, adding to an already tense political climate. Reuters

US Special Operators in Africa Get New Boss
U.S. special operations troops that conduct some of the military’s most sensitive missions in Africa are under new leadership after Maj. Gen. Marcus Hicks took the helm Thursday of U.S. Africa Command’s elite forces. Hicks replaces Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, who will retire after a 32-year military career that took him from private to leadership at the Stuttgart, Germany-based Special Operations Command Africa. “Long before you were assigned to AFRICOM, your leadership under fire in combat provided inspiration to all of those around you,” AFRICOM’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser said of Bolduc. Stars and Stripes

French Military to Work with G5 Sahel Troops
French troops will work with the new force from five Sahel countries fighting armed Islamists in west and central Africa, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced Thursday. “This force is first going to secure the borders, particularly in the areas where terrorist groups have developed,” the newly appointed minister said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper. “Accompanying them is the priority for the Barkhane operation.” France has deployed soldiers in the region since January 2013, when it spearheaded an international military initiative against Al-Qaeda jihadist groups allied to Tuareg separatists occupying northern Mali. Whole areas are still beyond the control of the Malian, French and UN forces working in the sub-Saharan region. RFI

French Bank BNP Paribas Accused of Complicity in Rwandan Genocide
France’s largest bank is facing serious accusations after three NGOs on Thursday said they filed legal action against BNP Paribas alleging “complicity in genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity” during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. The suit alleges Banque Nationale de Paris (BNP), as the bank was known before its merger with Paribas in 2000 to become BNP Paribas, “participated in financing the purchase of 80 tonnes of arms that served to perpetrate the genocide” despite the fact, it claims, “that the bank could not have doubted the genocidal intentions of the authorities of the country for which it authorized the transfer” of funds. The groups note that a United Nations arms embargo was in effect at the time. France 24

Cameroon Forces Hundreds More Refugees Back to Nigeria, UN Says
Cameroon authorities forced nearly 900 refugees back to northern Nigeria against their will this week, violating an agreement between the two countries to shield thousands from Boko Haram violence, the United Nations said on Thursday. The Cameroonian government denied force had been used to send refugees home and said repatriation had taken place with the refugees’ consent. About 887 Nigerians, most of them children, were ferried across the border on Tuesday night in trucks provided by the Nigerian military and Cameroonian police, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said. “The involuntary return of refugees must be avoided under any circumstances,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement. “Returns to Nigeria put a strain on the few existing services and are not sustainable at this time.” Reuters

Europe Sees Spike in Nigerian Women Trafficked for Prostitution
Police and aid groups say more than 60 percent of illegal prostitutes in Belgium are trafficked from Nigeria. Many are only teenagers and almost all come from Benin City, a city in the south of Nigeria. Rosa was sexually exploited by Nigerian traffickers and had to prostitute herself on the streets of Spain, Norway, France and Belgium. But Belgian police saved her after two years. “The police took me and asked me question if I want to talk. If I talk they are going to make a better way for me. They will give me document, I say yes because the stress is too much,” she said. Rosa – not her real name – was struggling in Nigeria, making ends meet for herself and her daughter. She was told she could marry a man in Europe. After crossing Morocco and reaching Spain by boat, she was told to repay a $55,000 debt and forced into prostitution. VOA

Nigeria Not Poor, No More Financial Assistance, EU Says
The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michel Arrion, says EU will not increase its financial assistance to Nigeria. Mr. Arrion made this known in Abuja while delivering a Distinguished Lecture organised by the IBB Golf Club, with the theme “40 years of European union in Nigeria: Lessons learned and the way forward”. The ambassador who said that EU was not promising further assistance to Nigeria however said that Nigeria remains EU key partner in view of the role it plays in global affairs. The envoy also stressed that the Union would scale up its efforts towards the country’s institutional, political and economic development for a more prosperous future. He said that Nigeria could not be said to be poor, as it has enough resources to meet its developmental needs. Premium Times

Reports: UAE Sends Yemeni Terror Suspects to Eritrean Prison
The United Arab Emirates has transferred terrorism suspects from Yemen to a secret prison in Assab, Eritrea, according to former detainees and Yemeni officials. The facility on the Red Sea coast is part of a regional network of prisons in which torture and abuse are rampant, independent investigations by the Associated Press and Human Rights Watch have revealed. Kristine Beckerle, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, says the UAE and its Yemeni partners view the prisoners as “high-value terrorism suspects [who] are accused of a variety of things related to the UAE efforts against al-Qaida in Yemen.” During a six-month period, HRW researchers visited Yemen to document abuses against detainees. VOA

Fresh Talks in Guinea-Bissau to End 2-Year Deadlock
Guinea-Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz was scheduled to meet political parties on Thursday to try to put an end to the country’s political crisis. He’s been given three months by the West African Economic Community (Ecowas) to find a solution. Jose Mario Vaz was to meet representatives of Guinea Bissau’s main political parties: the historic independence movement the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), the main opposition Party for Social Renovation (PSR) and the Union for Political Change (UPC). For two years parliament and government have been locked in a bitter power struggle over who should run the state. RFI

Kenya’s Senators Abandon ‘Powerless’ Upper House
As the August election approaches, there are lingering questions on whether the Kenyan Senate has performed its constitutional duties and whether Kenyans have realised its impact. The Senate, introduced after the 2013 election in line with the 2010 constitution as the Upper House, the Senate has become the least attractive among the four positions to be contested. Out of the 67 elected and nominated senators, 34 have announced they will not defend their seats and have opted to either seek governorship, MP and even Member of County Assembly, while other have opted to retire in frustration. Speaker Ekwe Ethuro complained that 30 Bills the total that Senate sent to the National Assembly were ignored thereby rendering them null and void. The East African

Politics of Death: the Map Maker Who Finds the Bodies in Ethiopia’s Land Battle
It was late 2015 when Endalk Chala began documenting deaths in his home country of Ethiopia, scouring Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to piece together who had died and where. Chala comes from Ginchi, a town 72 km (45 miles) from Addis Ababa where protests began in November 2015, initially over a government plan to allocate large swathes of farmland to the capital city for urban development. The plan would have displaced thousands of Oromo farmers, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. “There were reports that people were killed in the protests and no one was reporting about it. No one cared who these people are,” Chala told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone. “The information was all over the internet, not well organized. I just wanted to give perspective.” Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones