Africa Media Review for May 16, 2017

I Coast Army Mutiny Spreads but Government Claims Deal
Heavy gunfire rang out Monday in Ivory Coast’s two biggest cities as a four-day mutiny by disgruntled soldiers spread nationwide but the government claimed a deal to end the crisis had been reached. Banks, offices and department stores closed in the heart of the economic capital, Abidjan, as shots were fired in San Pedro, the second biggest port in the world’s top cocoa-producing nation. Border posts closed, snarling road traffic to Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, while the west African nation’s second biggest city, Bouake, was under the control of mutinous soldiers. The mutiny is the latest in a series of armed protests since January, with troops angered by a wages dispute, leaving them to demand President Alassane Ouattara’s government pay up. News 24

UN Gives Sudan and South Sudan 6 Months for Abyei Monitoring
The U.N. Security Council agreed unanimously late Monday that the stalemate between Sudan and South Sudan over the status of the oil-rich region of Abyei has gone on for too long and gave the countries a final six months to implement joint border monitoring. A U.N. peacekeeping mission has been in Abyei since June 2011 and the council also voted to reduce its military ceiling to 4,791 troops. It was 5,326 in October. The council’s unanimous actions reflected the Trump administration’s determination to reform the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations and take action when missions aren’t able to carry out their mandates. Sudan’s north and south fought a civil war that lasted decades and killed some 2 million people. It ended with a 2005 peace deal that required both sides to peacefully resolve the final status of oil-rich border region of Abyei, and gave the south the right to hold a self-determination vote. AP

DRC Unrest Kills 390 Fighters, 124 Troops Since End March
Spiralling violence in Democratic Republic of Congo’s central Kasai region has killed 390 tribal militia fighters and 124 government troops since the end of March, the army said on Monday. “DRC’s armed forces have been waging operations to back up the police since end March in Kasai,” the army’s (FARDC) Brigadier General Leon-Richard Kasonga told a news conference. “We have klled 390 militia fighters” and recorded “39 deaths in FARDC ranks” as well as “85 police officers killed”, he said. News 24

President Macron’s first African trip: set to visit French troops in Mali
French President Emmanuel Macron will be undertaking his first African trip days after officially taking over at the Elysee Palace. According to AFP news agency, the 39-year-old’s first stop on the continent will be in West Africa, specifically in Mali. He is expected to visit troops fighting insurgents in the country on Thursday or Friday. France has been involved in the fight against militancy in the Sahel region. Under the Operation Barkhane mission, the French join United Nations troops in counter-insurgency efforts. Africa News

France Was a Key Security Player in Africa Under Hollande. Now What?
Yesterday, only one week after the presidential election, Francois Hollande walked out of the Elysée palace, and Emmanuel Macron officially became the 8th president of France’s fifth Republic. Macron’s election was a political earthquake in France, with the political newcomer seemingly emerging from the wilderness. How he plays on the international stage–particularly in regards to French interests in Africa-is a key question mark surrounding the young leader. “France is not a global power without Africa,” former Malian Minister of Culture Aminata Traoré recently reminded a panel of African journalists debating Hollande’s legacy on the continent. After a Hollande presidency, defined by a low-key yet decisive type of activism and engagement, what kind of partner will France be to African countries under Macron? UN Dispatch

Al-Shabab Kill Chief in Kenya’s North; 2 Police Missing
A Kenyan official says gunmen suspected to be al-Shabaab Islamic extremists have killed an administrative chief in an attack in Kenya’s north that left two Kenya police reservists missing Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh said Tuesday the attack took place in Omar Jillo in Mandera County Monday night. Omar Jillo is among towns in the area under dusk to dawn curfew over insecurity caused by the al-Qaida linked affiliated al-Shabab militants. The other towns are Mandera, Arabia, Fino, Lafey Kotulo and Elwak. AP

Sinai Tribes Take Up Arms Against IS
A number of tribes in northern Sinai have taken up arms in the battle launched by the Egyptian military against Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State’s (IS) Sinai affiliate. Their involvement followed an April 29 statement by the Tarabin tribe in which it called on the tribes in the northern Sinai governorate to unite against the extremist organization. In its statement, the Tarabin proclaimed, “Facing the terrorist and immoral invasions of the Islamic and Arab nation, targeting our people and the entity of our state and violating all human and moral standards and traditions of Islam, strife is knocking on our doors that were once safe, and deceit is stealing the lives of our youths and depriving our tribes of their financial and moral assets in [northern] Sinai.” Al Monitor

South Africa Court Reserves Judgement on Zuma Confidence Vote
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng did not announce on Monday evening what date the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg would deliver the postponed verdict on whether or not secret ballots would be allowed in a no-confidence vote against President Jacob Zuma. The adjournment came after the opposition argued that only secret voting would enable representatives from Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) to cast ballots against the ANC leader and “vote with their conscience.” The ANC currently holds a comfortable majority of parliamentary seats, and prior no-confidence motions against Zuma with open voting have fallen short. The speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, a member of Zuma’s ANC, previously had maintained that she did not possess the power needed to order a secret ballot in a parliament. Her argument caused an opposition party, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), to turn to the courts. Deutsche Welle

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma Endorses Ex-Wife for Party Leadership
South African President Jacob Zuma has publicly endorsed his ex-wife for the leadership of the African National Congress, the party which has governed the country since the end of racial segregation in 1994. Zuma—whose term as president is due to end in 2019—has been head of ANC since 2007 but is likely to be replaced at the party’s elective conference in December. Two figures have emerged as the leading candidates within the ANC to replace Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, the country’s current deputy-president, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former head of the African Union (AU) Commission who has held various ministerial positions under successive South African presidents, including Nelson Mandela. Newsweek

This Is What Happens When a Family of Business Moguls Takes Over a Country
When thousands of South Africans took to the streets last month to demand President Jacob Zuma’s ouster, an unprecedented show of popular discontent in a country where Zuma’s party has ruled uninterrupted since 1994, some took their frustrations to what they consider the real seat of power: the Gupta family. Outside the cluster of mansions owned by the notorious business family, in the leafy Johannesburg suburb of Saxonwold, hundreds of protesters waved signs — “Puppet masters must go!” — and chanted a portmanteau slogan that has become a rallying cry against patronage politics: “Zupta must fall!” The Guptas, an extraordinarily wealthy family led by three brothers from northern India — Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh — have become a lightning rod for South Africans fed up with a president who is widely perceived as corrupt. The brothers have lived in South Africa for just over two decades but have come to own stakes in multiple media properties, an engineering firm, and coal and uranium mines — a business empire that has risen in tandem with the political fortunes of the Zuma family, with whom the Guptas have cultivated a close relationship. Now, having risen together, both families risk falling together amid a groundswell of popular discontent. Foreign Policy

A Mission to Capture or Kill Joseph Kony Ends, Without Capturing or Killing
A contingent of Ugandan and American military officials — and a handful of journalists — will board a plane on Tuesday in the Ugandan capital of Entebbe for an approximately two-and-a-half-hour flight. Destination: the remote town of Obo, in the southeastern part of Central African Republic, where they will take part in a ceremony organized by Uganda to mark the end of the mission to capture or kill Joseph Kony, the notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or L.R.A. Mr. Kony was, of course, never captured or killed. The United States spent almost $800 million on the effort since 2011, when President Barack Obama deployed Special Operations forces to the region to provide advisory support, intelligence and logistical assistance to African Union soldiers fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army. Officials from the countries involved say they have significantly degraded the L.R.A., diminishing it to around 100 people today from a fighting force of 3,000. Now, they say, it’s time to go home. The New York Times

Trump Expansion of Abortion ‘Gag Rule’ Will Restrict $8.8 Billion in U.S. Aid
President Trump’s executive order to block U.S. aid to groups abroad that counsel or provide referrals about abortion went into effect Monday and will restrict nearly $9 billion in foreign health assistance. The rule, which has reproductive-rights advocates reeling, is significantly broader than similar bans in place intermittently since 1984. Those past actions were limited to about $600 million in family planning funding. Senior administration officials confirmed Monday that Trump’s version will impact $8.8 billion for programs, including those related to AIDS, malaria and child health. About $6 billion of that supports programs for HIV/AIDS services, primarily in Africa, as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief established in 2003. Another program that could be hit hard is the President’s Malaria Initiative, started under George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama. Defense Department grants related to global health security will also be impacted. The Washington Post

UN: Sexual Violence Increasingly Used as ‘Terrorism’ Tactic
A top U.N. official says sexual violence is increasingly being used as “a tactic of terrorism” from Iraq, Syria and Yemen to Somalia, Nigeria and Mali. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed says “the same litany of horrors” has been told by Yazidis held captive by Islamic State extremists, girls who fled from Boko Haram, Somali women liberated from the al-Shabab extremist group and women living under an al-Qaida-linked group in northern Mali. She told the U.N. Security Council on Monday that extremist groups “are outrageously boosting profiting through the sale, trade and trafficking of women and girls.” AP

Christian Militias Renew Attack on U.N. Base in Central African Republic
Militia fighters from Central African Republic’s (CAR) Christian minority attacked a U.N. base for the second consecutive night, a U.N. official said on Sunday, after a week of violence that has killed six peacekeepers at the southeastern border. Access to the town centre of Bangassou to recover the wounded and the dead has been impeded by fighting although 24 injured people had been treated at a nearby hospital, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières said. Fighting in and around Bangassou, in a region on the Congolese border previously sheltered from years of conflict, has also caused an undetermined number of civilian deaths. An attack on Monday on a U.N. convoy killed five peacekeepers. Reuters

Evacuations Begin from Violence-Hit Central African Town
Armed groups have agreed to allow for the evacuation of some civilians from a mosque in Bangassou, after two days of deadly fighting in the southeastern town in the Central African Republic. Around 1,000 Bangassou residents had sought refuge from attacks inside and then found themselves trapped there by the militias, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Central African Republic, Najat Rochdi said. But as of late morning, women and children as well as the injured had been allowed to leave. An unknown number of men were still held hostage inside, Rochdi added. A total of 26 bodies have so far been identified in the town and are being recovered by aid workers, according to the UN official. France 24

Armed Herdsmen Kill 20 Farmers in Western Nigerian Mosque: Police
Nigerian herdsmen armed with guns killed 20 farmers and injured eight other people in a mosque in the western central Niger state this weekend, police said on Monday. Fighting over land use between semi-nomadic cattle herders and more settled communities, claims hundreds of lives a year in the middle belt and in the north of Nigeria. Last year, the government said preventing attacks was a security priority. Bala Elkana, a spokesman for Niger state police, said the attack happened at about 05:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Saturday at Epogi community, in the Mokwa area of the state. Reuters

Kenya Says Eight Party Candidates to Run for President in August
Candidates from eight political parties registered to run for president in Kenya’s August elections, the electoral body said, in a race that’s set to be dominated by incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and four-time contender Raila Odinga. The Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission announced the number on its Twitter account, without naming the contenders. It said parties had registered a total of 11,309 candidates for the Aug. 8 elections, which will include votes for the presidency, governors, senate and county assemblies. It didn’t give details on any independent candidates. Bloomberg

Zambia’s Opposition Leader Acquitted But Remains in Jail
A Lusaka Magistrate has acquitted Zambia’s main opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema on the charge of use of insulting language towards law enforcement officers. Hichilema remains in custody facing treason charges. There was heavy police presence at the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court as hundreds of people flocked the area. Entry to the courtroom was restricted and many people were turned away. Magistrate Greenwell Malumani delivered his ruling by saying that the state failed to prove that the opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema used insulting language towards police officers. Hichilema was arrested at his home on April 11. He chose to remain quite during the court proceedings. Deutsche Welle

Four Red Cross Employees Kidnapped in Central Mali
Four Malian Red Cross employees have been kidnapped in the country’s restive centre, the organisation said on Monday, while a local official said negotiations were underway for their release. The Red Cross briefly suspended operations in the northern city of Kidal following a burglary at its offices last month, and has suffered kidnappings of its staff in the past by jihadist groups. “Colleagues of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Cross Mali were kidnapped in the Tenekou area, Mopti region, on Sunday May 14 around 19:00,” a Red Cross Facebook post said. “They were conducting a survey of the humanitarian situation when unidentified and armed individuals said they had to come with them,” it added. News 24

African Police Organisation ‘Afripol’ Launched in Algeria
The official launch of the African Police Organisation (Afripol) was announced in Algeria yesterday in the presence of police leaders from African countries and officials of regional and international police bodies. The first General Assembly of African Police Leaders was also launched at the Exhibition Centre in the west of the capital. The founding agreements of Afripol were ratified by the 28th Summit of the African Union held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in late January 2017. During the two-day General Assembly, the internal regulations of the General Assembly and the Steering Committee will be discussed; as well as the appointment of members of the Afripol steering committees and the general outlines for cooperation among police bodies at the national, regional, continental and international levels. Middle East Monitor

Slaughter of Africa’s Donkeys for China Hurts Poorest Farmers
When the impoverished West African nation of Niger imposed a ban on donkey exports last year, a small community of traders just over the border in Nigeria was devastated. “Before the ban, you could see thousands of donkeys here,” said Mohammed Sani, a 45-year-old trader in the Nigerian town of Jibiya, as he wiped the sweat off his brow. “Now look at them: there’s no more than 50, crippling the business.” Donkeys are being slaughtered at an alarming pace to feed a global trade in donkey hides that’s fueled by soaring demand in China, where the skins are used to manufacture a gelatin believed to have anti-ageing and libido-enhancing properties. The gelatin, known in China as e’jiao, is so popular with middle-class consumers that a Chinese producer has created a donkey exchange to help companies find enough hides to keep their factories busy. With its large donkey population and close trade relations with China, Africa is a key target for donkey buyers. Annual global sales of the cooked gelatin may be worth as much as $2.6 billion, based on the 2014 per-kilogram sales price in China, according to the U.K.-based charity, The Donkey Sanctuary. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones