Africa Media Review for June 6, 2018

Ethiopia Says It Is Ready to Implement Eritrea Peace Deal and Privatize Parts of the Economy
Ethiopia’s ruling party announced plans Tuesday to implement a long-moribund peace deal with Eritrea, opening the way for improved relations after 18 years of hostility. The surprise announcement also included plans to allow private sector involvement in industries long reserved for the state, in a major revision of economic policy. The moves are part of reforms being implemented by Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, who was selected by the party in March after his predecessor resigned amid widespread unrest. Since becoming prime minister, Abiy has freed hundreds of prisoners and met with outlawed opposition figures, and on Tuesday, Parliament at his behest lifted a state of emergency two months early. The Washington Post

Ethiopia Vows to Give Disputed Badme Town to Eritrea
Ethiopia will give a long-disputed swath of land to Eritrea, the government announced Tuesday. The executive committee of the EPRDF, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition, said that it would adhere to the terms of the Algiers Agreement, which resulted in a definitive ruling on the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The international community backed the ruling, finalized in 2002, and both sides agreed to a U.N. boundary commission’s terms. But Ethiopia prevented demarcation of the border, resulting in 16 years of unresolved tension — and occasional open conflict — between the East African neighbors. The EPRDF said its decision Tuesday came after “reviewing the current Ethio-Eritrea situation” and deciding “to maintain peace between people of the two countries.” VOA

Niger: Suicide Bombers Kill 10 in Mosque Attack
Three suicide bombers killed 10 people at a mosque in Niger’s southeastern city of Diffa who had gathered after breaking the Ramadan fast, an army spokesman said on Tuesday. The area around Diffa, close to Lake Chad and the borders with Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon, is a stronghold for two factions of militant group Boko Haram, which have been fighting to establish an Islamic state in the region. “It was last night that these three people exploded their charges during a religious service,” the spokesman said. He later said the three bombers were female. Africa News

Kenya’s Odinga Emerges as Mediator for Face-to-Face Talks between Kiir and Machar
Kenya’s veteran politician, Raila Odinga is leading efforts to reconcile the warring factions in South Sudan, following the regional body’s proposal that president Salva Kiir holds face-to-face talks with rebel leader Riek Machar. Odinga, who has been hailed for his conciliatory and bridge building approach in Kenyan politics has on several occasions demonstrated mastery in forging alliances with allies and rivals alike. His latest reconciliation with Kenya’s president following a chaotic 2017 election has restored stability in the East African nation. South Sudan, which split off from its northern neighbor Sudan in 2011, has been gripped by a civil war sparked by political rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar. Africa News

South Sudan: President Kiir Agrees to Meet Rebel Leader Machar for Peace Talks
South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir has welcomed the regional bloc’s proposal for face-to-face talks with rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar. The Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has been leading talks between the government and the rebels to revive the 2015 peace deal. Kiir met Ethiopia’s prime minister who heads the IGAD council last week and the two leaders agreed that the regional bloc’s proposal for peace is viable. Africa News

‘It’s Just Barbarity’: Togo’s Political Prisoners Describe Torture in Police Custody
Imourane Issa braced himself for the next crack of a whip across his back. His head felt heavy on the concrete floor. He estimated that he was one of about two dozen men being tortured in the garage. The lone woman lay shaking in a puddle of her own urine. There in the the headquarters of Togo’s secret police — the notorious Research and Intelligence Service — the captives were beaten, waterboarded and forced to kneel and neigh like horses. “Some were hit with electrical cords, some of them had their heads cracked open,” Issa said. “They were forced to take their clothes off to wipe off their own blood.” Finally, they were all herded into the backs of pickup trucks and driven away. It was August 20, 2017, one day after the first in a series of massive nationwide protests calling for term limits aimed at ending the presidency of Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has ruled Togo for more than 50 years. Los Angeles Times

White House Drops Plan to Cut Ebola Funding
Seeking to revive a $15 billion plan to pare back spending that has languished on Capitol Hill, the White House on Tuesday dropped a proposal to cut $252 million in leftover funding to fight the Ebola virus in Africa. An Ebola outbreak in Congo led the administration to rethink the cuts. The White House budget office has also dropped a plan to cut $107 million appropriated during the Obama administration to help communities rebuild watersheds and floodplains damaged by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The White House originally unveiled the cuts last month, but they’ve languished in Congress. Cuts to the popular Children’s Health Insurance Program — while unlikely to have an impact on the program — are making some Republican moderates uneasy. The closely divided Senate appears unlikely to act. The Washington Post

UN Council Expected to Back Elections in Libya in December
The U.N. Security Council is expected to give its backing Wednesday to the holding of presidential and parliamentary elections in Libya in December. The council has scheduled a meeting to adopt a French-drafted presidential statement that would welcome “the momentum generated” by an international conference on Libya hosted by President Emmanuel Macron on May 29. Libya plunged into chaos following a 2011 uprising that toppled and later killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Since 2014, the country has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in the western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes. The draft presidential statement would put the Security Council on record saying that “the current political and security situation in Libya is not sustainable.” And it would note “the resounding call of all Libyans for credible, inclusive and peaceful elections in order to achieve a united and stable Libya.” AP

Zimbabwe Opposition Stages March to Demand Electoral Reforms
Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change staged a peaceful protest in the capital, Harare, to demand a series of electoral reforms before the southern African nation votes on July 30 in the first ballot since Robert Mugabe stepped down as president. Several thousand people, some of them carrying placards reading, “No to bogus polling stations” and “Free and fair elections,” joined a march Tuesday to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s offices where they presented a petition of 19 demands, including that the opposition be given the right to scrutinize the voters’ roll and enjoy equal access to the media and that military personnel be recalled from rural areas. The staging of the vote was “dependent” on the demands being met, the opposition said in the petition, although it didn’t specify whether it will stage a boycott if they aren’t. “It is self-evident that the Zimbabwean authorities and the ZEC lack the desire, ability and political will of conducting a free, fair credible election,” it said. Bloomberg

Niger Islamic State Hostage: ‘They Want to Kill Foreign Soldiers’
When a team of American special forces hunting Islamic State fighters in Niger was ambushed and four of its soldiers killed, the attack last October was described as “a total tactical surprise” by the commander of US Africa Command. Their deaths became a political scandal in Washington – where there was little awareness of US military operations in the region – and became notorious when Donald Trump, in a condolence call, told the widow of one of the dead soldiers that he “knew what he signed up for”. “They had never seen anything in this magnitude – numbers, mobility and training,” said US Gen Thomas Waldhauser last month, presenting the results of the Pentagon investigation into the attack, which found “individual, organisational and institutional failures” leading up to the ambush. The Guardian

Tuareg Alliance Claims More Operations against ISGS in Northern Mali
The Imghad and Allies Self Defense Movement (GATIA) and the Movement for the Salvation of Azawad (MSA), two allied pro-Mali Tuareg groups, announced today its fighters clashed several times over the weekend with militants loyal to the Islamic State, led by Abu Walid al Sahrawi in northern Mali. In its joint statement, the Tuareg alliance said its forces battled several times with the now US-designated Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) over the course of three days. The conflicts reportedly took place in the Tabarde area of Mali’s northern Menaka region. The alliance reportedly lost three of its fighters, while three others were wounded. However, at least six ISGS fighters were reportedly killed and many others were captured by the alliance. Weapons and vehicles were also reportedly captured by the Tuaregs. Additionally, a high level ISGS commander, identified as Almahmoud Ag Akawkaw, was also captured by the militia groups. Long War Journal

Report Says Italy Will Expel Thousands of Undocumented Tunisians
Reports coming from Rome on Tuesday revealed that Italy is planning to deport all Tunisians illegally living in the country, pointing out that many of them are involved in a few cases of theft, drug trafficking and violence. On its Tuesday issue, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that the new Italian government is preparing to launch a massive campaign to expel “illegal immigrants” in the coming weeks. The newspaper said that Tunisia ranked first in terms of the number of illegal immigrants coming to Italy, noting that more than 2,800 Tunisian immigrants arrived in Italy recently. Right-wing newspaper Il Giornale quoted Salvini as saying that: “The priority of the new Italian government and the Interior Ministry is to stop the influx of migrants coming from Tunisia and Algeria”. Al Arabiya

China Is Expanding Its Military Footprint in Africa
China has announced it will host the inaugural China-Africa defense and security forum later this month, signaling its deepening engagement in Africa. Military officials say the summit will focus on regional security issues, financing and upgrading Africa’s security capacities, and improving defense cooperation. The forum comes amid rising Sino-African political and economic relations, with growing diplomatic links, investments in much-needed infrastructure, and training of the next generation of African elites. China is striving to project itself as a responsible global power and to craft a positive image of itself on the world stage. This is especially true in Africa, where it has promoted “win-win” economic cooperation, mutual assistance in security matters, and solidarity in international affairs. Quartz

Why African Cocoa Growers Are Having an OPEC Moment
The world’s top cocoa producers have long been at the mercy of traders who set cocoa prices thousands of miles away in London and New York. Now the producers are trying to do something about it. West African neighbors Ivory Coast and Ghana, which grow about 60 percent of the world’s cocoa, have outlined wide-ranging plans to cooperate on production and marketing in hopes of gaining more influence over global prices. But some industry analysts remain skeptical. To regulate global supply and grab more of the profit from the chocolate-making value chain, Ghana and Ivory Coast say they’ll coordinate production levels, bring their sales policies closer together and make sure that more of the crop is processed locally before it’s shipped out. They’ll also build warehouses to hold surplus beans and increase spending on marketing in an effort to boost consumption of the chocolate ingredient in their own region and in other emerging markets. Bloomberg

Global Conflict Continues to Rise, Index Shows
Europe was the most peaceful region in the world in 2017, while the Middle East and North Africa were the least peaceful, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), said in its 12th annual report published in London on Wednesday. “There is an ongoing deterioration in global peace,” Steve Killelea, head of the Australia-based IEP, told DW. “It’s gradual and it’s been going on for the last decade.” The conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa and the spillover effects into other areas have been the main drivers in the decline of global peace, Killelea said. The IEP’s Global Peace Index (GPI) found that in 92 nations peacefulness fell in 2017, with improvements in only 71 countries. Killelea told DW this negative trend has continued for the fourth year in a row. According to the GPI, the Middle East and North Africa region is the least peaceful region in the world. At the bottom of the 163-state ranking are Syria, with Afghanistan, South Sudan, Iraq and Somalia not far ahead. Deutsch Welle



Photo: Adam Jones