Africa Media Review for June 7, 2018

Scores of Ethiopian Migrants Drown off Yemen’s Coast
At least 46 migrants trying to cross from Somalia to Yemen have drowned when their boat capsized, UN officials say. Another 16 people are missing after the vessel overturned in rough seas off Yemen’s coast, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says. Survivors say the smuggler’s boat was carrying at least 100 people who had left the port of Bosaso to find work in Yemen and other Gulf countries. All the migrants were Ethiopian nationals, reports say. The IOM says the boat capsized in the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday morning. Among the victims were 37 men and nine women. BBC

Tunisia’s Interior Minister Fired after Deadly Migrant Shipwreck
Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Wednedsay fired Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem, a government statement said, after one of the worst migrant boat accidents in recent years. The boat packed with some 180 migrants sank on Sunday off Tunisia’s coast. The death toll has risen to at least 68, with dozens still missing. The statement gave no reason for the sacking, but a government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Chahed fired the interior minister for failing to stop the boat and illegal boat migration in general.” Earlier on Wednesday Chaded also fired 10 security officials for failing to stop the boat. France 24

African Migrants Are Braving a New Route to Europe. But Old Perils Remain.
[…] Over the past year, efforts by European governments to stem the flow of sub-Saharan Africans through Libya toward Europe, for instance by funding Libya’s coast guard, have helped reduce the number of migrants reaching Italy by nearly 80 percent, according to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM). Many are also afraid of being detained by local militias in Libya or otherwise becoming caught up in the chaos of the civil war there. Now, there is a surge in the number of those passing through Morocco bound instead for Spain, with more than 8,250 arriving there by sea in the first five months of this year. That is nearly double the figure in the same period last year and close to 60 percent of the number reaching Italy so far this year, long a favored destination. “They are seeing that Libya is dangerous,” said Ana Fonseca, the head of the IOM for Morocco. “Migration is like water. You cannot stop it. You close one part, and another route will open.”  Washington Post

15 Killed in Clashes in Central Nigeria
At least 15 people were killed over the past few days in separate attacks in central Nigeria’s Benue State, the scene of regular clashes between Christian farmers and nomadic cattle herders, official sources said on Wednesday. Suspected militant herders carried out the attacks on several villages in under 48 hours, Benue State information minister Lawrence Onoja said. The village of Tse Ishav, near Guma, was attacked at around 3am on Wednesday, with militants “leaving behind eight corpses, several missing and many wounded,” he said. It came after two other people were killed on Monday by the same armed men close to the nearby locality of Yelwata, he added. AFP

Five Police Officers Killed in Explosive Device Attack at Kenya-Somalia Border
Five police officers were killed in eastern Kenya on Wednesday when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device suspected to have been planted by Somalia’s al Shabaab group, an official said. Al Shabaab is fighting to topple Somalia’s government, establish their own rule based on their strict interpretation of Islamic law and drive out of the country peacekeepers deployed by the African Union. The militants frequently launch attacks in neighbouring Kenya to pressure it to withdraw its troops which form part of the peacekeeping force. Africa News

Two Somali Lawmakers Killed in Al-Shabaab Ambush: Army Officer
Two lawmakers from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Hirshabelle state were killed on Tuesday along with several of their bodyguards in an ambush near the Somali capital Mogadishu claimed by militant Islamist group al Shabaab. Major Abdullahi Abdirahman, a Somali army officer, said the lawmakers had been riding in a small car escorted by 10 soldiers in a military pickup truck when the ambush took place in the village of Elka Gelow some 45 km (28 miles) north of Mogadishu. “The lawmakers, Sheikh Dahir and Ismail Mumin, died in the fighting. Several of their bodyguards were also killed. Some bodyguards escaped into the jungle and are still missing,” Abdirahman told Reuters. Reuters

Cameroon English Speakers Want Terror Law Repeal and Amnesty to End Violence
English speakers in the Northwest of Cameroon want an anti-terrorism law repealed and a general amnesty to help end the armed separatist campaign, a government commission said on Wednesday. Among the demands are a debate on introducing a federal system to the West African country which is dominated by French-speakers. The proposals come from more than 800 people representing a cross-section of society in Bamenda, capital of the Northwest anglophone region. The commission, set up by President Paul Biya, said in a statement it had consulted traditional, religious, administrative and political figures as well as a “sample representing the population”. AFP

Ethiopia Loosens Throttle on Many Key Sectors, but Privatisation Still Far Off
Ethiopia’s decision to sell stakes in its lucrative telecoms monopoly and other assets could open one of the world’s largest untapped markets to huge potential investments by firms willing to work with a government still wary of private enterprise. The stake sales are part of a raft of measures announced by Abiy Ahmed, a young former army officer who became prime minister in April, saying a new start was necessary to end crisis and chaos in a country of 100 million people, where some 40 percent are aged under 15. While some fear Ahmed is moving too fast to challenge entrenched interests in his ruling EPRDF coalition, there is also hope across the region that his reforms will help ease crippling unemployment, foreign currency shortages and poverty. Reuters

Sudan Defense Firms Scrap North Korea Deals
Sudan said Wednesday its defense manufacturers have “cancelled all contracts” with North Korea, acknowledging for the first time that Khartoum had entered into such deals with Pyongyang. Khartoum has also set up a committee to implement UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea, the foreign ministry said in a statement. “Sudan’s defence manufacturers have cancelled all contracts signed with North Korea and also ended their relations, direct or through third parties, with North Korea,” the ministry said. “Sudan has also set up a committee to prepare a report on how to implement the international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on North Korea.” Al Arabiya

Conflict in Abyei Could Reignite South Sudan’s Civil War
Landlocked and lawless, the region of Abyei straddles Sudan and war-torn South Sudan’s borders, yet the arid expanse belongs to neither country. When the two countries signed a comprehensive peace agreement in 2005, which led to South Sudan’s independence, they couldn’t agree on boundary lines. As a result, Abyei’s status remains unresolved to this day. The oil-rich Abyei box, as it’s called, is shared by the Misseriya Arab nomads from the north and the Ngok Dinka, a South Sudanese cattle-herding tribe. After fighting erupted in 2011, Sudan and South Sudan agreed to allow a neutral peacekeeping mission to foster security until a political solution was reached. Seven years later, political stalemate in the contested region is threatening to destabilize an already fragile region. With no government, judicial system, or police force, Abyei’s 165,000 Sudanese and South Sudanese inhabitants depend on thousands of Ethiopian peacekeepers, part of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, to maintain stability.  Foreign Policy

Failed Zanu-PF March Exposes President Mnangagwa’s Weakness Ahead of Polls
The poor turnout for a Zanu-PF march in Harare raises questions about how popular the party of ousted former president Robert Mugabe really is, and what this could mean for the elections slated for 30 July 2018. A few hours after a successful march by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance to protest against the Zimbabwe government’s snail’s pace in the implementation of electoral reforms ahead of the make-or-break harmonised elections slated for 30 July, an attempt by the ruling Zanu-PF to stage a counter march backfired spectacularly after a handful of supporters turned up at Freedom Square in Harare on Wednesday. Daily Maverick

SADC Preparing for AU Standby Force Rostering
The second of three Southern African Development Community (SADC) planning conferences ahead of the regional bloc taking up position on the AU African Standby Force (ASF) roster in January next year was held recently in Malawi. The first conference ahead of the SADC Standby Force Command Post Exercise (CPX) named Exercise Umodzi, was held in December with the third and final preparation conference set for July. The conferences and subsequent CPX are, according to an SADC publication, part and parcel of the realisation and operational deployment of the AU mandated African Standby Force (ASF). DefenceWeb

Beheadings Signal Threat to Mozambique’s $30 Billion Bonanza
When a group of suspected Islamist militants beheaded 10 villagers in Mozambique’s gas-rich north late last month, it ratcheted up concerns that spreading attacks in the remote region could threaten a potential $30 billion in investment. Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Eni SpA, which are developing separate offshore gas projects near the Tanzanian border, say they haven’t been affected by the violence in Cabo Delgado province. London-listed explorer Wentworth Resources Ltd. said it hasn’t been able to gain access to its onshore licenses near the town of Mocimboa da Praia for safety concerns due to the attacks. Bloomberg

UN Court Has Jurisdiction in Equatorial Guinea-France Spat
A United Nations court ruled Wednesday that it has jurisdiction over a dispute between France and Equatorial Guinea that centers on whether a mansion on a swanky Paris avenue is a diplomatic outpost for the Central African nation. Another court in Paris last year ordered the mansion confiscated, along with a stash of sports cars and designer clothes, as it convicted the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, of embezzling millions of dollars in public money. It handed him a three-year suspended prison sentence. He has appealed. The new ruling by the U.N.’s International Court of Justice means its judges will now rule on whether France breached a treaty governing diplomatic relations with the confiscation order. AP

Moroccans Rattle Leaders with Mass Boycott over High Prices
Buying yogurt in a small grocery store in Rabat, Morocco, 24-year-old Chaima Lahsini has a request: “Nothing from Central Danone please,” she asks the clerk, who looks back mournfully at the unwanted dairy products piled in his fridge. Lahsini is taking part in a boycott movement that began by targeting the biggest companies, largely owned by a handful of tycoons, and has morphed into a protest against the concentration of wealth and power in a country that had been spared the tumult of the Arab Spring eight years ago. The movement started on social media and is now worrying the government, and prompting some companies, like the local subsidiary of dairy giant Danone, to lower milk prices to calm consumer anger. “While I initially thought that boycotting this company and two others was just some new social trend, it proved to be more powerful than expected,” said Lahsini. “Seeing how the Moroccan people grew to realize that as consumers they had the right to stand against the yoke of monopolizing companies and the economic regime is truly impressive.”  AP

Angola Shuts Its Border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to Contain Ebola Outbreak
The way things stand, the current outbreak is, while alarming and devastating, manageable. But measures like Angola’s border closure won’t hurt, and may ultimately prove very useful in containing the spread. In 2014, the virus, considered one of the most lethal pathogens in existence, decimated West Africa and killed more than 11,000 people. The DRC escaped the brutal Ebola pandemic, which was finally declared over in January 2016 – but it was struck by a smaller outbreak last year. The new outbreak is the DRC’s ninth since the discovery of Ebola in the country in 1976. Daily Mail

Nigeria: Ruling APC Coalition on the Brink of Collapse?
Less than a year from the next federal election, cracks are beginning to show in the ruling APC party. What does this mean for President Buhari’s re-election prospects and the future of the young party? Increasingly strained relations between the executive and the legislature branches of Nigeria’s All People’s Congress (APC) party are fueling speculation that the coalition may be on the verge of collapse in the lead up to next year’s federal election. Incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari won the 2015 election based largely on his promise to fight rampant corruption and address ongoing security challenges. However, critics claim the president has so far only used his policies to target his opponents. Deutsche Welle

South Africa Civil Service Strike to Close Borders
A strike by civil servants in South Africa due to begin next week will force the country to close its borders, threatening to create travel chaos for travellers, their union said. The Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) warned on Wednesday the planned walkout over stalled pay negotiations was intended to “hit where it hurts the most”. “We are expecting disruption, we are expecting to close down all the border gates of this country,” said Mr Tahir Maepa, a PSA leader. “Our disruption is going to hit where it hurts the most.”  AFP



Photo: Adam Jones