Africa Media Review for March 14, 2018

41 New Deaths Reported in Latest Violence in Northeast Congo
Authorities in northeastern Congo say more than 40 new deaths have been reported in an area where fighting has erupted between two communities in recent weeks. Willy Maese, deputy administrator in Djugu, said hundreds of homes were also set ablaze during the attack Sunday in two villages in Ituri province. Maese said investigations were underway and that the death toll is likely to rise as bodies were recovered from the surrounding countryside. The latest cycle of violence between the Hema and Lendu communities broke out in December. More than 150 people are now believed to have died over the three-month period. Tens of thousands have fled the area in fear. AP

Sierra Leone Presidential Poll Enters Runoff as Opposition SLPP Wins First Round
Sierra Leonean voters will be called upon again to cast ballots to elect a new president. The March 27 runoff date was announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Tuesday evening after declaring final results from the March 7 vote. According to the results, the main opposition Sierra Leone Peoples Party (SLPP) won by close to 1.1 million votes followed by the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC). Given that none of the top two candidates got the 55% mark, a runoff was required by law within two weeks of the final declaration. Julius Maada Bio of the SLPP is taking his second shot at the presidency as a civilian. He lost the last polls to outgoing Ernest Bai Koroma in 2011. He has also previously served as a military Head of State. Samura Kamara, on the other hand, is the immediate past Foreign Affairs minister of the country. Africa News

Mauritius President Refuses to Resign over Financial Scandal
Mauritian President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim has refused to resign, vowing to fight allegations that saw her embroiled in a financial scandal, the presidency said in a statement Wednesday. Gurib-Fakim, Africa’s only female head of state, has been accused of using a bank card provided by an NGO to make personal purchases. Last Friday Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth announced that Gurib-Fakim had agreed to resign, with a date set for her departure after Monday’s ceremony celebrating the Indian Ocean archipelago nation’s 50 years of independence. However a statement from the presidency slammed “weeks of attacks and false allegations” and said that Gurib-Fakim planned to clear her name and would not resign. AFP

Ethiopians Flee to Kenya after Botched Military Operation
Thousands of Ethiopians fled to Kenya this week after the Ethiopian military said it mistakenly killed nine civilians in a botched operation near the border. The Kenya Red Cross Society said about 5,000 members of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group — the Oromo — fled the market town to neighboring Kenya. The exodus began Saturday after the government said its forces mistook the civilians in Moyale for members of the banned Oromo Liberation Front. Nine people died and 12 others sustained injuries. “There have been gunshots, there are killings,” Halkano Halake, spokesman for the governor of Marsabit County in Kenya, told Bloomberg. Refugees “are spread in schools, churches, mosques, private residences and three camps.” UPI

Justice for Atrocities in South Sudan Just a Signature Away: U.N. Investigator
U.N. investigators of war atrocities in South Sudan urged the African Union (AU) on Tuesday to make a final push to secure justice for millions of victims. Oil-rich South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 but slid into civil war in December 2013, with President Salva Kiir’s army battling rebels under his ex-deputy Riek Machar. Under a 2015 peace deal that fell apart in 2016, the AU and South Sudan were supposed to set up a “hybrid court” consisting of South Sudanese and other African judges, to try people accused of atrocities. But the court has yet to be created. “The hybrid court of South Sudan is but a signature away. The African Union needs to act with great urgency,” Yasmin Sooka, chair of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, told the 47 member states of the rights council in Geneva. Reuters

S. Sudan’s President Sacks Finance Minister, Army Official
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Monday sacked Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau and replaced him with Salvatore Garang Mabiordit. Kiir also removed Marial Chanoung from his position as chief of operations, training and intelligence in the national army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. A presidential decree announced on state-owned radio Monday evening did not give any reason for the firing of the officials. Dau became South Sudan’s finance minister in July 2016 when he immediately embarked on radical financial reform policies seeking to tackle a biting economic crunch. Xinhua

Spat between Somalia and Somaliland Worsens over DP World Tripartite Deal
Somalia’s lower house of parliament voted to reject a deal by Somaliland and UAE ports operator DP World to grant a stake in the Port of Berbera to Ethiopia, aggravating the spat between the central government in Mogadishu and the country’s semi-autonomous northern region. The parliamentary vote comes about a week after Somaliland hit back against the Somalian prime minister’s March 2 statement declaring “null and void” a deal by the region and DP World to grant a stake in the Port development to Ethiopia. Local media reported the resolution rejecting the deal passed in the lower house by an overwhelming majority. If approved by the upper legislative house, it will pave the way for the Somalian president to sign it into law, nullifying all agreements between DP World and Somaliland, the reports added. The National

UAE Offers $1.4Bn in Aid to Sudan
The United Arab Emirates has offered $1.4 billion to Sudan’s central bank to help Khartoum tackle an acute foreign exchange crisis, the official Sudanese news agency reported Tuesday. The Sudanese pound has weakened against the dollar in recent months on the black market amid a shortage of hard foreign currency, in turn forcing the central bank to devalue the pound this year. “President Omar al-Bashir has been informed by the UAE that it is giving Sudan 4 billion dirhams… as a central bank deposit to help support the country’s foreign currency reserves,” the official SUNA news agency reported. The report did not provide further details on the aid. The Punch

In Egypt’s Presidential Election, a Strongman’s Only Challenger Is Barely Campaigning
The election billboards of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi are everywhere in this bustling capital. They read: “Yalla Sissi” — “Go Sissi” in Arabic — urging him on for a second term. Egyptian voters will struggle to find a billboard for his only challenger. That obscure candidate, after all, said weeks ago that he wants Sissi to remain as president. Moussa Mostafa Moussa has so far not given speeches, made television commercials or bought newspaper ads seeking votes. On March 4, his first election rally was attended by no more than 25 supporters. As leader of the centrist Ghad Party, Moussa has been one of Sissi’s staunchest supporters and part of a well-orchestrated effort backing Sissi for a second term. The Washington Post

Militant Threat Emerges in Egyptian Desert, Opening New Front in Terrorism Fight
The desolate terrain of Egypt’s Western Desert is emerging as a new frontier in the global fight against terrorism. Militant groups linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda are using the desert as both a haven and a crossing point for smuggling fighters, weapons and illicit goods from Libya, where lawlessness rules. Along a highway stretching toward the Libyan border, the winds blow across a vast no man’s land of sand dunes, rocky scrubs and barren hills. There are no villages, no signs of life save for the cars and trucks that speed past. But this peaceful landscape, just an hour’s drive from Cairo, is the staging ground for an ambitious insurgency. “It’s geographically a crucial place for the terrorists and extremists,” said Khaled Okasha, an Egyptian security expert and member of a government council to counter terrorism and extremism. “The presence of caves and hills makes it easier for them to attack and hide. And the capital is close. They can carry out attacks in a lot of nearby places.”  The Washington Post

Doctors across Zimbabwe Go on Strike over Pay, Drug Shortages
The action is the first major labour dispute under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Robert Mugabe in November and whose biggest challenge is fixing Zimbabwe’s economy ruined by decades of severe mismanagement. Cash shortages mean banks are forced to limit withdrawals, unemployment remains above 80 percent and the government still struggles to pay workers on time which prompted frequent public sector strike actions under Mugabe. “The main issue we have raised currently is that it does not make sense for us to continue working in hospitals that do not have any drugs or sufficient equipment,” said Mxolisi Ngwenya, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), which represents more than 1,000 members. Reuters

S.African Pro-Zuma Group Blocks Energy Deals in Blow to Ramaphosa
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was dealt a political blow on Tuesday, after a last-minute legal challenge by a group loyal to ousted leader Jacob Zuma blocked the signing of $4.7 billion in renewable energy deals. The North Gauteng High Court agreed to hold a full hearing on the challenge on March 27 after the National Union of Metalworkers (NUMSA) and Transform RSA, a group which has lobbied for Zuma in the past, on Monday argued the deals would lead to coal-sector job losses and should be scrapped. State power utility Eskom was due to sign 27 mostly wind power and solar deals with independent power producers (IPPs), in the first major investment deal since Ramaphosa replaced Zuma last month. Reuters

South Africa Graft Inquiry to Summon Zuma’s Son, Gupta Brothers
South African lawmakers said it will summon the Gupta family and the son of former President Jacob Zuma to appear before an inquiry that is investigating the mismanagement of public funds at state-owned enterprises. The former chairwoman of South African Airways, Dudu Myeni, will also be subpoenaed after failing to heed two invitations to give testimony at the hearings in Cape Town, parliament said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. The inquiry is probing allegations that the Gupta brothers used their association with Duduzane Zuma to loot billions of rand from the government. The Guptas and Zuma all deny wrongdoing. Bloomberg

About 5,000 Ethiopians Flee to Kenya after Botched Military Operation
About 5,000 Ethiopians have crossed into Kenya seeking refuge since March 10, the Kenyan Red Cross Society said, after several civilians were killed in what the Ethiopian military said was a botched security operation targeting militants. Ethiopian state media reported Sunday that soldiers had been deployed to an area near the town of Moyale in Oromia, a region that borders Kenya, in pursuit of Oromo Liberation Front fighters who had crossed into the country from Kenya. But faulty intelligence led soldiers to launch an attack that killed nine civilians and injured 12 others, the Ethiopian News Agency said. In a statement Tuesday, the Kenyan Red Cross Society said “the population of refugees from Ethiopia continues to increase” and was now estimated at 5,000. VOA

‘Freedom!’: The Mysterious Movement That Brought Ethiopia to a Standstill
Today, Desalegn is a banker. But once he was a Qeerroo: a young, energetic and unmarried man from Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, bound by what he calls a “responsibility to defend the people”. Twelve years ago he helped organise mass protests against an election result he and many others believed the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) had rigged. This landed him in prison, along with thousands of others, on terrorism charges. Since then he has married and, like many of his generation in Ethiopia, mostly avoided politics. That was until 12 February, when he joined almost everyone in the town of Adama, and in many others cities across the region of Oromia, in a strike calling for the release of opposition leaders and an end to authoritarianism. The boycott, which lasted three days and brought much of central Ethiopia to a standstill, culminated on 13 February with the release of Bekele Gerba, a prominent Oromo politician who lives in Adama, and, within 48 hours, the sudden resignation of Ethiopia’s beleaguered prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. The Guardian

Uganda Tops Arms Race as Kenya Halves to Sh1.3Bn
Kenya and Tanzania sharply cut their purchase of military weapons last year even as Uganda made a comeback to emerge the top spender on arms in East Africa. Kenya slashed its spending by half to Sh1.3 billion ($13 million) from Sh2.8 billion a year earlier while Tanzania didn’t make purchases, according to a report released yesterday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri). The report indicates that Uganda ended its lull with its last year’s arms stockpile worth Sh1.8 billion, a departure from 2016 when it made nil purchase. Business Daily Africa



Photo: Adam Jones