Africa Media Review for June 4, 2018

AMISOM’s Hard-Earned Lessons in Somalia
In 2017, Somalia held parliamentary and presidential elections in a relatively stable atmosphere. The African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), which has been deployed to Somalia since 2007, has been a key factor in realizing this milestone. Nonetheless, al Shabaab, the militant Islamist group that has been destabilizing Somalia, remains a serious threat. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies spoke to Simon Mulongo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Commission Chairperson to Somalia (D/SRCC) at the African Union Commission based in Mogadishu to gain a perspective on the state of the mission. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

US Airstrike in Somalia against Al-Shabab Kills 12 Fighters
The U.S. military says it has carried out an airstrike outside Somalia’s capital that killed 12 al-Shabab militants. The U.S. Africa Command has carried out at least 15 such airstrikes this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, which continues to hold some rural areas of the Horn of Africa nation. Dozens of U.S. airstrikes were carried out last year after the Trump administration approved expanded military operations against al-Shabab, which was blamed for an October truck bombing in Mogadishu that killed more than 500 people. The new statement says the U.S. military assesses that no civilians were killed in Thursday’s strike about 30 miles southwest of Mogadishu. The U.S. has faced accusations in recent months of killing civilians in joint operations with Somali forces against al-Shabab. AP

Al Shabaab Fighters Seize Town in Central Somalia – Residents
Somalia’s militant Islamist group al Shabaab has retaken a small town in the centre of the country after it was abandoned by government troops, residents said on Saturday. Fighting broke out in the town of Muqokori, about 300 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu, late on Friday, almost a month after government troops ousted the insurgents. “Al Shabaab attacked from various sides. After one hour of fighting, the government forces left and al Shabaab seized control,” Hussein Nur, a local elder, told Reuters by phone. The militant group claimed that 47 government soldiers had died in the fighting. Reuters

Cattle Rustlers Kill 23 People in Northern Nigeria
Cattle thieves have killed 23 people in northern Nigeria’s Zamfara state, which has been battling cattle rustling and kidnapping in recent months, an official has said. Bandits on motorcycles invaded Zanoka village on Friday, opening fire on residents and burning homes, said Mustapha Muhammad, the chair of the local government area. “We buried 23 people killed in the attack, including vigilantes who tried to fight off the bandits,” he added late on Saturday. “They torched homes and burnt some of their victims alive before fleeing into the bush.” Muhammad said the gunmen had earlier in the day invaded the village and carted away some cattle, but were forced to flee by local vigilantes who fought them off and reclaimed the stolen herd. The Guardian

Special Operations Forces in Africa Likely to Face Cuts in Major Military Review
American Special Operations forces are likely to be sharply cut in Africa as a result of a new Pentagon strategy that focuses on combating rising threats from Russia and China and, in turn, is driving a sweeping review of the nation’s elite commando missions. The review, ordered by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in recent weeks, could result in slashing counterterrorism forces in Africa by as much as half over the next three years. It was issued amid an ongoing Pentagon assessment of Special Operations forces worldwide after an ambush in Niger killed four American soldiers last fall. More than 7,300 Special Operations troops are working around the world, many of them conducting shadow wars against terrorists in Yemen, Libya, Somalia and other hot spots. The Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., has also assumed important new missions in recent years, like taking the lead on combating weapons of mass destruction.  The New York Times

Dozens of Migrants Drown off Tunisia and Turkey; Hundreds Rescued off Spain
Rescuers said on Sunday that dozens of migrants had drowned off the coasts of Tunisia and Turkey, while hundreds had been rescued off Spain, as the flow of people seeking to get to Europe continued despite tightened controls. At least 46 migrants died when their boat sank off Tunisia’s coast, the country’s Defense Ministry said on Sunday. The Coast Guard rescued 67 others, and the operation was continuing, the ministry said in a statement. The migrants were of Tunisian and other nationalities, according to the ministry. Security officials said the boat had been packed with about 180 migrants, including around 80 from other African countries. Human traffickers increasingly use Tunisia as a starting point for migrants heading to Europe because Libya’s Coast Guard, aided by armed groups, has tried to stem the flow from that country. The migrants often depart in makeshift boats from Tunisia, heading for Sicily. The New York Times

Police Kill 9 ‘Insurgents’ in Mozambique
Police in Mozambique said on Sunday that they killed nine “insurgents” in the country’s far north after ten people were decapitated by suspected jihadists in the region last weekend. Cabo Delgado province, which is expected to become the centre of the country’s nascent natural gas industry after several promising discoveries, has seen a number of deadly attacks by suspected radical Islamists since October. “Nine insurgents were killed” on Saturday, said a police official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that more details would be given on Tuesday. On May 27 a group of radicalised Muslims, known locally as “al-Shabaab”, attacked two small villages near the Tanzanian border and killed 10 residents who were found decapitated. AFP

How Mozambique’s Smuggling Barons Nurtured Jihadists
Attacks by young Islamist militants in northern Mozambique are fuelled by a mix of poverty and corruption, writes Joseph Hanlon. In the most recent attack, 10 people were decapitated with machetes in Palma district in the country’s northerly Cabo Delgado province. More than 300 people have been detained by the police and army since the first attack in the port town Mocimboa da Praia on October 2017. Coastal northern Mozambique has a long history of trade and movement of people with the rest of East Africa, and people in this area are traditionally Muslim. BBC

Ethiopia Set to Lift State of Emergency Two Months Early
Ethiopia ‘s cabinet has approved a draft law to lift a six-month state of emergency two months early after assessing that “law and order” has been restored in the country. Authorities imposed the emergency rule in February after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn abruptly resigned, citing ongoing “unrest and a political crisis” in the country as major factors in his decision. He was later replaced as prime minister and chairman of the ruling coalition by Abiy Ahmed. “The Council of Ministers … reviewed the security situation of the country. It noted that law and order has been restored,” the prime minister’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, said on Saturday in a post on Twitter. Al Jazeera

Landlocked Ethiopia Plans to Build Navy, Prime Minister Says
Landlocked Ethiopia is planning to build a navy, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said during a briefing of the heads of the country’s National Defense Force. “Following the efforts made to build capacity of our national defense, we built one of the stronger ground and air forces in Africa,” the ruling party-funded Fana Broadcasting Corp. reported Abiy as saying on Friday. “We should build our naval force capacity in the future.” Two calls to the mobile phone of Abiy’s national security adviser, Abadula Gemada, didn’t connect. Ethiopia currently has a civilian Ethiopian Maritime Training Institute on Lake Tana. It trains more than 500 marine engineers and electro-technical officers each year and plans to increase this to more than 1,000 officers annually, according to its website. Bloomberg

With Ebola at a ‘Critical Point’ in Congo, Aid Groups Scramble to Limit the Outbreak
The two brothers of Adalbert Wanza made a 170-mile round-trip voyage on foot, boat and motorcycle through Congo’s dense rain forest to bring him, and ultimately the rest of the world, grave news. A visitor had died while in their home village, Ikoko- ­Impenge. A local priest buried him with ritual honors, including giving the corpse its last food and drink. Days later, the priest and most of his family were dead, too. When he heard the story, Wanza, the Catholic bishop of Mbandaka, knew it could be Ebola, which is endemic in the forest, and contacted health officials. Lab tests would prove him right. Over the next three weeks, the most serious outbreak of the virus since a devastating epidemic in West Africa between 2014 and 2016 spread from deep within the rain forest to bigger towns and finally to Mbandaka, a regional hub of nearly 1.2 million people at the confluence of the Congo and Ruki rivers. The Washington Post

How West Africa’s Ebola Outbreak Shapes Response in DRC
Countries know the risks – and they know they have to act fast. This is the biggest lesson learned since an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus struck three countries in West Africa, leaving more than 11,300 people dead in its wake, said Chikwe Ihekweazu. An infectious disease epidemiologist who worked in 2015 – at the height of the outbreak – in Liberia, Ihekweazu said containment efforts were particularly challenging since it was the first time the disease had hit West Africa. The health networks in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea – the latter being where the first case of Ebola was discovered in the outbreak in late 2013, in an isolated, rural village – were ill-prepared to deal with the virus, which has no known cure. Al Jazeera

Ivory Coast’s Ouattara Says He’s Free to Run Again in 2020: Jeune Afrique
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he is free to stand for a third term in the 2020 presidential election under the country’s new constitution, according to an interview in this week’s edition of French magazine Jeune Afrique. This is the first time Ouattara, who was first elected in a 2010 election that sparked a brief civil war, has made the claim, which will anger his political foes. “The new constitution authorizes me to serve two terms starting in 2020,” Ouattara, 76, told Jeune Afrique, implying that his two election wins under the old constitution would not count against the new constitution’s two-term limit. “I will only make a definitive decision then, based on the situation in Ivory Coast. Stability and peace come before all else, including my principles,” he said. Reuters

Madagascar PM Makes Way for ‘Consensus’ Premier in Bid to End Crisis
Madagascar’s prime minister announced his resignation on Monday in the first step towards the naming of a “consensus” premier to resolve a political crisis sparked by controversial electoral reforms. The Indian Ocean island nation has been rocked by protests that initially sought to oppose new laws the opposition said were crafted to bar their candidates from participating in elections planned for later this year. The Constitutional Court has ordered President Hery Rajaonarimampianina to form a government of national unity with a “consensus prime minister” to avert a full-blown crisis. For that to happen, the current government was required to resign and the president was ordered to name a new prime minister by June 12. AFP

Sudan, Libya, Chad and Niger Sign Border Protection Agreement
The Foreign Ministry in the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) said a quadripartite agreement to control and monitor borders among Libya, Sudan, Chad and Niger has been signed in Ndjamena. In a statement issued on Friday, Libya’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Al-Sayala said his country is resolved to provide its expertise to promote cooperation to protect the joint borders in order to achieve peace, security, good-neighbourliness and economic and social development. He said the agreement would enhance joint efforts of the four countries to secure the borders, stressing his country’s keenness to support all efforts to fight against terrorism, illegal migration, human trafficking and all forms of cross-border crime. Sudan Tribune

UN Calls for Calm as Dozens Injured in Mali Opposition Protest
The UN has called for calm in Mali after dozens of people were hurt during banned opposition protests in Bamako, sparking calls for the prime minister to resign two months ahead of a presidential election. The opposition said some 30 people were hospitalized — including prominent opposition figure Etienne Fabaka Sissoko who was left “in a coma” — after security forces fired “live ammunition” at protesters on Saturday. The government rejected the claims outright. “It is absolutely false to say that shots were fired using live ammunition,” a source close to the security ministry told AFP. VOA

Zimbabwe Has Attracted Investment Worth $16 Billion since the Coup, Claims Mnangagwa
Zimbabwe has attracted investments worth US$16 billion into the country since Emmerson Mnangagwa took over through the assistance of the military in November last year, the president has claimed. Addressing scores of Zanu PF supporters in Gweru recently, president Mnangagwa also revealed that the government had also secured US$ 1 billion for the resuscitation of Hwange Colliery. “Many projects have come within the last five to six months. We have attracted into this country around US$ 16 billion in terms of projects alone and this must go towards the creation of employment and bringing of technology into the country,” said President Mnangagwa. The New Zimbabwe

Egypt’s Sisi Is Sworn In for a Second Term, amid Crackdown on Dissent
The Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has been sworn in for a second term, following a fresh round of arrests targeting opponents and critics. “Egypt can fit us all with all our differences. Accepting others and creating common ground will be important for us in order to create political development,” he told MPs who had gathered to witness his oath of office, following a ceremony heavy on military pomp. Some interrupted his speech to shout their admiration of the president, including one MP who recited a poem of praise. Sisi won more than 97% of votes in the March election, which international and Egyptian rights organisations denounced as “farcical” after five opposition candidates were barred from running. His only opponent was Moussa Moustafa Moussa, an avowed supporter of the president. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones