Africa Media Review for May 11, 2018

Kiir Sets 1 Condition for Machar’s Return to South Sudan
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has set one condition for the return of his former deputy and rebel chief Riek Machar to the country. “Riek Machar can come back to Juba here, but without even a single soldier. If they say he will return with his army, I will never accept,” Kiir said at a ceremony of the army flag handover to the new army chief in Juba on Thursday. The South Sudanese leader said he would accept his archrival Riek Machar to return to the country as a civilian, vowing he would guarantee his protection and safety in the nation’s capital Juba. Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan Pleads with U.S. Not to Cut Aid, as White House Is Threatening
South Sudan’s government urged the United States on Wednesday not to “abandon” the country after Washington said it would review its assistance programs because it could not continue a partnership with leaders perpetuating “endless war”. “We are asking the United States not to abandon this country because we need them … their role to assist the population of South Sudan is crucial and cannot be ignored,” said Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Mawien Makol Ariik. The Trump administration threatened Tuesday to cut aid to South Sudan unless the country’s civil war ends and peace is restored. CBC

South Sudan’s Kiir Sacks Central Bank Chief
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has sacked the central bank governor, Mr Othom Roga Ajak, and his deputy, Mr Tier Tong Ngor. Their dismissal comes as inflation in the young nation hits a record high. The presidential decree on the sacking of the pair did not give any explanation for the action. It also did not name any replacements. Mr Ajak was appointed the Bank of South Sudan Governor in January last year to replace his sacked predecessor Kornelio Koryom Mayik. Mr Ajak was expected to revive the South Sudan economy that has been ravaged by a civil war that has, among other things, cut the oil production. The East African

Report: US Mission Was Overwhelmed by Unprecedented IS Force in Niger
A U.S. Special Forces mission that resulted in the deaths of four American soldiers and four Nigerien soldiers was plagued by problems up and down the chain of command but was ultimately done in by an unprecedented show of force at the hands of an Islamic State-linked terror group, an investigation found. The findings are part of a long-awaited report released Thursday on what went wrong during a two-day span in October 2017 near the village of Tongo Tongo, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) north of the Nigerien capital, Niamey. “I take ownership,” General Thomas Waldhauser, the commander of U.S. Africa Command, told reporters at the Pentagon. “I will ensure the lessons learned are communicated to all levels within AFRICOM.”​ VOA

Longtime Jihadist Leads Group That Claimed Niger Attack
Not much is known about the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, the group that claimed responsibility for killing four U.S. and four Nigerien soldiers in western Niger last October. However, the group’s leader, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, is a well-known figure in regional jihadist circles. Al-Sahrawi “is a longtime veteran of the West African subregion with deep networks in Mali,” according to Jacob Zenn, fellow of African and Eurasian Affairs for the Jamestown Foundation in Washington and a consultant on countering violent extremism. “He is able to manage groups of multiple ethnicities that engage in both terrorist attacks and criminal activity.” VOA

US Sanctions Iran, Syria, Egypt Groups over North Korea Arms Trading
The US hit a raft of organizations in Egypt, Iran and Syria with sanctions for trading arms with North Korea on Thursday, including a state-owned Egyptian company suspected to have made a clandestine purchase of thousands of rocket propelled grenades from the hermit kingdom. […] In August 2016, Egyptian customs officers acting on a tip off from US intelligence discovered some 30,000 rocket-propelled grenades on board a Cambodia-flagged ship that had sailed from North Korea. A UN panel of experts called the discovery of the disassembled weapons on board the Jie Shun the “largest interdicted ammunition consignment in the history of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.”  i24News

Gambia Selling Ex-Leader’s Luxury Cars, Planes amid Mounting Debt
Gambia is selling several planes and a fleet of luxury cars bought by former president Yahya Jammeh as it seeks to reduce a mountain of crippling debt contracted during the authoritarian leader’s decades-long rule. Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 coup, fled Gambia early last year as West African neighbours were poised for military intervention to topple him after he refused to step down following an election loss to current President Adama Barrow. While most of his people struggled in poverty under one of West Africa’s most oppressive regimes, Jammeh acquired vast wealth, much of which he packed into planes and carried with him into exile in Equatorial Guinea. Reuters

Armed Men Launch Deadly Attack on Mosque in South Africa
Three men armed with guns and knives slit the throats of three worshippers at a mosque near Durban in South Africa and a person was killed, an emergency service official said on Thursday. One victim jumped from a side window of the building, which had been set ablaze sending smoke billowing, said Prem Balram, a spokesman for Reaction Unit SA, a private emergency service, who was among the first on the scene. “One of the three has just died on his way to hospital. The other two are in critical condition,” said Balram, adding that the suspects fled in a white car. “The suspects were Egyptian males. The local people here identified them.” France 24

What Ramaphosa Is Doing to Fix South Africa’s State Companies
South Africa’s biggest state companies have been plagued by mismanagement, cash shortages and corruption scandals for years, leaving them in financial strain and posing an acute risk to the nation’s finances. The rot largely set in during the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, who stands accused by opposition parties and anti-corruption groups of appointing unqualified allies to key posts and allowing members of the Gupta family, who did business with one of his sons, to loot state coffers. They all deny wrongdoing. Faced with a loss of voter support, the ruling African National Congress forced Zuma to quit in February and replaced him with the party’s new leader, Cyril Ramaphosa, who together with his public enterprises minister, Pravin Gordhan, moved swiftly to try put the companies back on track. Bloomberg

All the Charts That Show South Africa’s Inequality Is Only Getting Worse
South Africa often feels two different countries chaffing up against each other—one for the rich and one for the poor. This separation was legislated under apartheid, but post-apartheid South Africa has struggled to bridge the divide. Today, the disparity in education, skills and income continues. Two recently released World Bank reports further show that the gap is not only widening, it is intergenerational. The circumstances that exacerbate South Africa’s inequality are both historical and a result of years of policy uncertainty, making it harder for ordinary South Africans to claw their way out of poverty. More than half of the population already lives in poverty, and a further 27% of the population live in a state of susceptibility to poverty. These 27% are referred to as the transient poor by the World Bank in it’s report “Overcoming poverty and inequality in South Africa.”  Quartz

DRC Reports Four More Ebola Cases
Four more cases of Ebola have been detected in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo, doctors said Thursday, two days after DRC reported a fresh outbreak of the disease. Of the four affected people, two are caregivers at the hospital in Bikoro where the Ebola outbreak has been concentrated, the hospital’s chief surgeon Serge Ngalebato told AFP. The latest Ebola outbreak in the region northeast of Kinshasa near the border with the Republic of Congo has so far killed 17 people. Mail and Guardian

Political Crisis in Madagascar Has Deep Roots
The electoral commission in Madagascar has proposed bringing forward general elections, originally scheduled to take place before the end of this year, in a bid to defuse a political crisis which has gripped the country since April. But some experts say that isn’t a solution. Hundreds of opposition supporters have been occupying a main square in the capital, Antananarivo, since April 21. The protesters are demanding the resignation of the current president, Héry Rajaonarimampianina. The protests began after new electoral laws were passed in late April. They included a clause requiring candidates to provide a detailed criminal record, which would disqualify some opposition candidates, including Marc Ravalomanana, who served as president from 2002 until he was toppled in a 2009 coup. RFI

Tanzania Evicted Maasai People and Burned Their Homes for Safari Tourism, Group Says
Tens of thousands of Tanzania’s ethnic Maasai people are homeless after the government burned their houses to keep the savannah open for tourism benefiting two foreign safari companies, a U.S.-based policy think tank charged Thursday. Villagers in northern Tanzania’s Loliondo area, near the Ngorongoro Crater tourism hotspot, have been evicted in the past year and denied access to vital grazing and watering holes, said the new report by the Oakland Institute, a California think tank that researches environmental and social issues. “As tourism becomes one of the fastest-growing sectors within the Tanzanian economy, safari and game park schemes are wreaking havoc on the lives and livelihoods of the Maasai,” said Oakland Institute’s Anuradha Mittal. “But this is not just about a specific company – it is a reality that is all too familiar to indigenous communities around the world.” Time

90 Pct of Tunisian Terrorists Have Received University Education: Study
A local academic study said on Wednesday that 90 percent of Tunisian terrorists have received a university education. “These terrorists are from low-income neighborhoods, and have incomplete university education before joining terrorist groups,” said Neji Jalloul, director general of Tunisian Institute for Strategic Studies (ITES), at a press conference on the study. This qualitative study is intended to “identify the real motivations that push young people to become terrorists,” explained Jalloul. Conducted by ITES in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Dutch study center and a U.S. study center from 2011 to 2014, the study interviewed 83 convicted terrorists in prison, and formed 18 focus groups. Xinhua

Britain Apologises for ‘Appalling Treatment’ of Abdel Hakim Belhaj
Theresa May has issued an unprecedented apology for Britain’s role in the “appalling” treatment of a Libyan dissident and his wife, who were victims of a rendition operation mounted with the help of MI6. The prime minister wrote to Abdel Hakim Belhaj and his wife, Fatima Boudchar, to apologise unreservedly on behalf of the government for its failings over the case and missed opportunities to end their ordeal. The attorney general, Jeremy Wright, read out May’s letter in the Commons as he announced that Boudchar, who was pregnant when the couple were kidnapped, would receive £500,000 compensation for the UK’s role in her treatment. Belhaj has neither sought, nor received, a financial settlement. The Guardian

Ethiopia Invests in Its Neighbors’ Ports
Landlocked Ethiopia has announced significant new steps to diversify its access to seagoing trade. Since the 1990s, it has depended almost exclusively upon the Port of Djibouti to handle its waterborne commerce, but it is making moves in Sudan, Somaliland, Djibouti and Kenya to create new options for Ethiopian shipping interests. On Thursday, Sudanese and Ethiopian officials reached a deal for joint investments in the Port of Sudan. “The leaders of both countries agreed to develop Port Sudan together,” said Meles Alem, a spokesman for Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry. “This deal entails that Ethiopia will be a shareholder of the port as well.” The details of the stake have not been disclosed. The Maritime Executive

Wildlife Decimated by the Surge in Conflicts in the Sahara and the Sahel
The surge in armed conflicts across the Sahara Desert and the band of dry savanna to its south called the Sahel is devastating the region’s wildlife, according to recent findings published in the journal Conservation Letters. “As if the harsh, arid landscape isn’t enough, the growth of armed conflict in the Sahara-Sahel region is yet another serious threat that wildlife in this critical region now have to contend with,” biologist Sarah Durant of the Zoological Society of London, an author of the study, said in a statement. The rise of groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, and Boko Haram over the past few years have destabilized Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Mali. These are some of the least-developed countries on Earth, and they’re adjacent to countries like Libya where power vacuums have recently emerged, contributing to the problem. Mongabay

 



Photo: Adam Jones