Africa Media Review for May 1, 2018

African Militant Islamist Groups Again on the Rise
Violent events linked to militant Islamist groups in Africa over the last year increased by 38 percent over the previous 12-month period (2,933 vs. 2,117). This continues an upward trend observed in 2017 after a brief decline in 2016. The surge in activity is not the result of any one factor. Rather, it reflects increases associated with all major militant Islamist groups on the continent—al Shabaab, Boko Haram, Islamic State (ISIS), and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Gabon Court Orders Prime Minister to Resign, Parliament Dissolved
Gabon’s Constitutional Court on Monday ordered the prime minister to resign and the lower house of parliament dissolved after legislative elections scheduled for the weekend were delayed. The court ruled that Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet and the National Assembly were no longer legitimate because the government failed to hold the election on time. “The decisions of the Constitutional Court are not to be commented on. They are to be applied,” Issoze-Ngondet said on national television after the ruling. Richard August Onouviet, the president of the National Assembly, also said he accepted the court’s decision. Reuters

Chad Parliament Approves New Constitution Expanding President’s Powers
Chad’s parliament on Monday overwhelmingly approved a new constitution that expands President Idriss Deby’s powers and could allow him to stay in office until 2033, in a vote boycotted by most opposition lawmakers. The new constitution reimposes a two-term limit scrapped in a 2005 referendum. But it will not be applied retroactively, meaning Deby could serve two terms after the next election in 2021. The constitution now heads to Deby for his signature. Deby’s opponents say that the constitution, which eliminates the post of prime minister and creates a fully presidential system, is aimed at installing a de facto monarchy in Chad, an ally of Western nations fighting jihadist groups in West Africa. VOA

South Sudan Rebels Free Abducted Aid Workers
A South Sudan armed group has set free 10 aid workers who went missing last week in River Yei State. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) confirmed on Monday that the 10 had been airlifted to Juba. ICRC said in a short statement that it welcomed the gesture and urged the South Sudan parties to stop aggression against humanitarian workers. “We are pleased that these 10 aid workers can now return to Juba to their families. “We want to remind all parties to the conflict that aid workers are never a target,” ICRC head of delegation Francos Stamm, said. The aid workers went missing while on a mission to provide humanitarian aid to the residents of Yei. The East African

Comoros to Hold Referendum on Presidential Term Limits in July
The Indian Ocean state of Comoros will hold a constitutional referendum in July on presidential term limits that could result in the next vote behind held two years ahead of schedule, its president has said. The move could allow the President Azali Assoumani, who won the last election in 2016, to run the country for two fresh five year-terms instead of the one five-year term allowed in the constitution. The next vote is scheduled for 2021. The referendum if passed would do away with a constitution meant to rotate power every five years between the archipelago’s islands. That system was intended to promote stability and power-sharing in a coup-prone country. Comoros has had more than 20 coups or coup attempts since it declared independence from France in 1975. VOA

Trump Calls on Nigeria to Remove Trade Barriers
US President Donald Trump has called on Nigeria to remove its trade barriers, saying America is “owed that” on account of providing the West African country with more than $1bn in foreign aid each year. Trump, speaking on Monday at a joint press conference with Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in Washington, DC, said the US will invest substantially in Nigeria if Buhari is able to create a more “level playing field” on trade. Trump’s comments come ahead of a meeting between the pair, during which they are expected to discuss a range of issues, including security. VOA

US Threatens to Cut Funding to South Africa
The United States has threatened to cut funding to South Africa, after it emerged that South Africa is among the countries in the United Nations that is most likely to vote against the US. The US, through its USAID programme, provides funding for South African health services (related to diseases such as HIV/Aids and tuberculosis), basic education, and assistance for small and medium enterprises. In 2016, USAID’s total foreign assistance to South Africa amounted to US$459.7-million. The threat to cut funding came after Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, warned in December that her government would be “taking names” of the countries who did not vote with America on the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mail and Guardian

Ex-Somalia Defense Minister Elected New Speaker of Parliament
A former Defense Minister has been elected the new speaker of Somalia’s Lower House of Parliament, local media outlets have reported. The new speaker is in the person of Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman, the Voice of America’s Harun Maruf confirmed in a tweet. He has also previously served as ambassador to Turkey. Lawmakers converged on Monday to elect a new speaker following the long-drawn political crisis that led to the resignation of Mohamed Osman Jawari. The voting process went through a number of rounds with aspirants dropping along the way. The speaker is an influential role in Somalia’s political landscape ranking closely behind the President and Prime Minister. Africa News

Cambodian Soldiers Join UN Peacekeeping Missions
Four hundred Cambodian soldiers will join a UN peacekeeping missions in Mali and South Sudan on Thursday. Major General Phal Samorn, deputy secretary-general and spokesman of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces, yesterday said that 165 soldiers from an Airport engineering unit and 144 soldiers a mine clearing unit will join a UN peacekeeping mission in Mali while 119 military policemen will join another UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. “Every year we send almost 1,000 Cambodian troops to join UN peacekeeping missions,” Maj Gen Samorn added. Maj Gen Samorn said that since 2006, Cambodia has sent nearly 5,000 troops on UN peacekeeping missions to eight countries, including Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, Central African Republic, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus and Mali. Khmer Times

Burundi Detains Official for Saying President’s Foes Should Be Thrown into Lake
Authorities in Burundi have arrested a ruling party official after he called on supporters to throw political opponents into a lake, a judicial source said on Monday, ahead of a referendum on extending President Pierre Nkurunziza’s term in office. The comments by Melchiade Nzopfabarushe, made during a rally on Sunday to party members in his native village, came amid increased political jitters in Burundi, whose modern history has been marred by ethnically-charged civil war. Nearly 430,000 people, including opposition politicians, have fled the tiny East African nation of 10.5 million since Nkurunziza won a third term in a 2015 election that sparked violent clashes. His foes said he had no right to run again. Reuters

Congo’s Katumbi to Return Home When Vote Certain to Go Ahead
Democratic Republic of Congo presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi said he’ll return from exile once he’s convinced long-delayed presidential elections are going to take place. The 53-year-old former governor of Congo’s copper-rich Katanga province would be the likeliest candidate to replace President Joseph Kabila if he’s allowed to compete in elections scheduled for December, according to a poll published last month. “The election time isn’t clear yet,” Katumbi said in an interview at a conference in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. “When it becomes clear, I will definitely go back.”  Bloomberg

U.S. Restrictions on Sudanese Banks Lifted Fully: Official
A visiting delegation from the U.S. Department of Treasury said all restrictions on banking transactions with Sudan have been lifted. In press statements following his meeting with the Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Nai’im on Sunday, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing Marshall Billingslea said time has come to integrate Sudan into the global economy, describing their visit to Khartoum as important. Billingslea pointed out that the U.S. has informed countries of the region that restrictions on Sudanese banks have been lifted, saying the visit aims to send a message that Washington is ready to move forward to normalize its ties with Khartoum. Sudan Tribune

Ethiopian Premier to Visit Khartoum on Wednesday
The newly appointed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali would visit Khartoum on Wednesday on his first foreign trip since assuming the position. According to the official news agency SUNA, during the two-day visit, the Ethiopian premier would hold official discussions with President Omer al-Bashir on bilateral relations and issues of common concern. Also, the Ethiopian premier would meet First Vice-President and Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Salih and Vice-President Hassabo Abdel-Rahman besides the joint Sudanese-Ethiopian Business Council. The visiting Prime Minister would also visit a number of development projects in the country. Sudan Tribune

Sierra Leone President Sacks Ambassadors
New Sierra Leonean President Julius Maada Bio has sacked all political appointees in the country’s diplomatic missions abroad, including ambassadors and high commissioners. President Bio, who has embarked on various measures to reduce government expenditure, also put a freeze on the hiring of new employees and purchase of vehicles. He also challenged all Sierra Leoneans to take an inward look into the state of the nation by asking what it had achieved since independence. “During my swearing-in on 4th April 2018 as President of the Republic, I said that my election and my new administration is the dawn of a new era to change and transform Sierra Leone. As a nation, we must resolve to use this opportunity to change and transform our beloved Sierra Leone,” he stated. The East African

Malawi’s Banda Says She Has Evidence of Political Witch Hunt
Malawi’s newly-returned former president Joyce Banda said Monday she had evidence that corruption allegations against her were politically motivated as she left the door open to another presidential run. Banda, 68, flew home on Saturday after four years of self-imposed exile during which she faced the threat of arrest over corruption allegations in the biggest financial scandal in the country’s history. Banda fled in 2014 when she lost power after being embroiled in the so-called Cashgate scandal, in which government officials siphoned off millions of dollars of public money. “This is not a matter I would want to discuss now. But I just want you to know that this matter is political,” she told AFP at her home in Zomba, southern Malawi. Africa News

Trump Calls on Nigeria, Other African Nations to Support USA’s World Cup Bid in 2026
President Donald Trump’s aim to get the World Cup to the United States in 2026 continues. Just days after he said allies should vote for the U.S, he put Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari on the spot during a joint press conference at the White House. He called on Nigeria and other African nations to support the United States’ bid, which is joined by Mexico and Canada. “I hope all African countries and countries throughout the world, that we also will be supporting you, that they will likewise support us in our bid, along with Canada and Mexico, for the 2026 World Cup. We will be watching very closely and any help they can give us in that bid, we would appreciate.” CBS

South Africa’s Paramount in Talks to Boost Saudi Arms Industry
South African defence company Paramount Group is in talks with the Saudi Arabia government to establish production facilities in the kingdom, its chairman said on Monday. Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest arms buyers, is seeking international partners to develop its manufacturing capabilities with the aim of producing half of its required military equipment domestically by 2030. “We are in negotiations with various governments in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, with a view to transferring technology and establishing production in those countries,” Paramount Group Chairman Ivor Ichikowitz told Reuters at a conference in Abu Dhabi. Saudi Arabia has been fighting a costly war in Yemen since 2015 in support of the internationally recognised government against the armed Houthi movement. Reuters

Heavy Rains, Landslides Kill at Least 100 in Kenya: Red Cross
Hiribae Mame stood waist-deep in water outside her wrecked house in eastern Kenya, one of around 200,000 people forced to flee by weeks of floods, landslides and heavy rains. Kenya’s Red Cross estimates at least 100 have also died in the downpours since early April, a humanitarian disaster that it says needs emergency funding. “I have lost 12 chicken and four goats. We were not able to save all of them and I can’t access the house because the door can’t open,” said the mother-of-four in the town of Tana River in lower Coast region. Her youngest daughter clung to her neck, the girl’s feet just touching the water. Mattresses and wreckage floated by as handmade boats ferried people, animals and goods to safer ground. Reuters