Africa Media Review for May 19, 2017

Dozens Killed in Renewed Clashes Between Factions in Libya’s South
At least 60 people were killed as rival Libyan forces clashed at a southern air base on Thursday, medical and military officials said, dimming hopes that tensions in the area can be calmed. The violence erupted after a brigade from the western city of Misrata attacked Brak Al-Shati base, which they had previously ceded to an opposing faction aligned with the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA). The two sides are attached to loose and shifting alliances based in the east and west of Libya that have vied for power over the past three years, deepening the divisions that surfaced with the country’s 2011 uprising. A medical source in Brak Al-Shati said 60 bodies had been brought to a hospital there, including members of the LNA-aligned 12th Brigade and civilians who appeared to have been summarily killed. Reuters

France Under Macron Signals Shift in Libya Policy, Towards Haftar
France said on Thursday it was reviewing its position on the Libyan conflict and for the first time openly called for a united national army that included eastern militia commander Khalifa Haftar to battle Islamist militants. In the previous government, the Foreign Ministry openly supported the U.N.-backed Libyan government of Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, while the Defence Ministry worked closely with Haftar, who has waged a campaign against Islamists in eastern Libya but resisted a rapprochement with Seraj. Diplomats had told Reuters that they had expected a clarification once the new president, Emmanuel Macron, took office. The previous defence minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, is now foreign minister. Reuters

Libya Asks Italy to Arm Migrant Patrol Boats
Libya on Thursday asked Italy to arm the patrol boats it uses in the fight against illegal immigration across the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe. Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti this week handed over to the Libyan coastguard four patrol boats repaired in Italy as part of a cooperation deal against people traffickers. Another six patrol boats are to follow soon after the training of their Libyan crews, he said. “These boats are not fitted with arms. We can’t used them for patrols when the traffickers are increasingly armed,” Abdullah Tomia, a senior naval officer in charge of cooperation with Italy, told a news conference in Tripoli. News 24

Macron Arrives in Mali for Visit to French Troops
Emmanuel Macron has arrived in Mali to meet French troops, less than a week after his inauguration as president. Mr Macron’s plane touched down at a French airbase in the north of the country just before 10:00 GMT (11:00 BST). He is due to speak with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita during his short visit. French soldiers have been fighting Islamic militants in the north of the former French colony since 2013. He is due to review some of the 4,000 anti-insurgent troops France has deployed in the region. BBC

South Sudan Forces Killed 114 Civilians Around Yei in Six Months: U.N.
South Sudanese pro-government forces killed at least 114 civilians in and around Yei town between July 2016 and January 2017, as well as committing uncounted rapes, looting and torture, the U.N. human rights office said on Friday. “Attacks were committed with an alarming degree of brutality and, like elsewhere in the country, appeared to have an ethnic dimension,” a report on the U.N. investigation said. “These cases included attacks on funerals and indiscriminate shelling of civilians; cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls, including those fleeing fighting; often committed in front of the victims’ families.” Fighting flared when the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), loyal to President Salva Kiir, pursued his rival and former deputy Riek Machar and a small band of followers as they fled from the capital Juba, southwest through Yei and into neighboring Congo. Reuters

Eight Months after Approval, New U.N. Troops Trickle into South Sudan
Some eight months after the U.N. Security Council authorized the deployment of an extra 4,000 peacekeepers to war-torn South Sudan, the first of those troops have just trickled in amid bureaucratic hurdles by the country’s reluctant government. “Meanwhile the situation in the country has deteriorated at a rapid pace,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a monthly report on the status of the deployment and obstacles facing some 13,000 peacekeepers already on the ground. The 15-member Security Council approved the additional troops – known as a regional protection force (RPF) – in August, following several days of heavy fighting in the capital Juba between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing former Vice President Riek Machar. Reuters

Local Aid Workers on the Front Line of South Sudan’s Civil War
Eighty percent of the estimated 208 aid workers killed, kidnapped or seriously wounded worldwide in 2016 were local, according to the Aid Worker Security Database’s most recent records. Last year, South Sudan overtook Afghanistan in the list of countries with the most attacks on aid workers, with an estimated 82 humanitarians murdered since the start of the country’s civil war in December 2013. There were 24 deaths in 2016 alone, according to the UN’s humanitarian chief in South Sudan, Eugene Owusu. The worst month so far for humanitarians was March this year, when six aid workers and their driver were killed in an ambush in Pibor, in the country’s east. Four of the dead were national staff, all belonged to Grassroots Empowerment and Development Organisation, a UNICEF partner. IRIN

Suspected Cases of Ebola Rise to 29 in Democratic Republic of Congo
The number of suspected cases of Ebola has risen to 29 from nine in less than a week in an isolated part of Democratic Republic of Congo, where three people have died from the disease since April 22, the World Health Organization said on Thursday. The W.H.O. was criticized for responding too slowly to an outbreak in West Africa in 2014 that left more than 11,000 people dead, and Dr. Peter Salama, the executive director of the organization’s health emergencies program, said at a briefing that it was essential to “never, ever underestimate Ebola” and to “make sure we have a no-regrets approach to this outbreak.” The risk from the outbreak is “high at the national level,” the W.H.O. said, because the disease was so severe and was spreading in a remote area in northeastern Congo with “suboptimal surveillance” and limited access to health care. The New York Times

AFRICOM: ‘Terrorist Groups’ Remain a Challenge Across Africa
The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is maintaining a consistent presence across Africa in order to address security concerns. But terrorist groups continue to pose a threat in many countries with weak governance. […] AFRICOM Commander General Thomas D. Waldhauser is in Brussels this week to meet with the European Union (EU) Chiefs of Defense (CHODs) and discuss the current state of affairs in a number of African countries. A number of terrorist groups including the so-called Islamic State (IS), Boko Haram and al-Shabaab maintain a significant presence in many regions, but continue to face military pushback. Deutsche Welle

Military Graft Undermines Nigeria’s Fight Against Boko Haram: Transparency Int’l
Military corruption is weakening Nigeria’s efforts to battle the Islamist insurgency of Boko Haram, the watchdog Transparency International said on Thursday. Its report underlines the difficulty of achieving two key promises of President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 election campaign: tackling endemic corruption and defeating an insurgency that has claimed over 20,000 lives and displaced millions. “Corrupt military officials have been able to benefit from the conflict through the creation of fake defence contracts, the proceeds of which are often laundered abroad in the UK, U.S. and elsewhere,” the watchdog said in a statement. Last year, Nigeria’s vice president said around $15 billion had been stolen from the public purse under the previous government through fraudulent arms procurement deals. Reuters

US Court Battle Gives Clues to Nigerian Arms Scandal
The claims read like the plot of a best-selling thriller, with secretive arms dealers and a corruption-riddled government fighting jihadists. The weapons deal collapses in acrimony but instead of a shoot-out, the embittered parties fight it out in court. In this real life saga, Ara Dolarian is the US arms dealer, Hima Aboubakar the weapons contractor and the foreign government Nigeria, which has been locked in a battle with Boko Haram since 2009. The $246m order at the height of the jihadists’ insurgency in 2014 was for weapons and equipment, including helicopters, bombs and ammunition. News 24

Tanzania Freezes Assets of Anti-Graft Official over Suspected Corruption
Tanzania’s anti-graft watchdog said on Thursday it had frozen the assets of its chief accountant and planned to charge him with corruption. The move is part of an aggressive anti-graft drive in which thousands of officials have already lost their jobs. President John Magufuli, in office since November 2015, has vowed to root out the “cancer” of high-level corruption that has long bedevilled economic growth in the country. The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) said it had secured a magistrate’s order freezing the assets of Godfrey Gugai, its chief accountant. They include six vehicles and 40 apartments, houses and prime plots in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam and other major urban centres. “The Resident Magistrate’s Court of Dar es Salaam region at Kisutu has issued freezing orders against properties of one Godfrey Gugai, who is about to be charged with corruption offences and other related offences,” the PCCB said in a public notice. The East African

Grenade Attack Kills Three Members of Burundi Ruling Party
An unidentified man threw a grenade into a house in Burundi’s capital late on Wednesday, killing three people believed to be members of the ruling party’s youth wing. At least 700 people have been killed in violent clashes between supporters and opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza since April 2015 when he said he would run for a third term in office. He was re-elected in July 2015 in a vote largely boycotted by the opposition. “(Wednesday’s) attack claimed the lives of three young men. Three others were injured, including a woman, her kid and a man, and they were rushed to hospital,” police spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye told reporters on Thursday. Reuters

Christian Council of Lesotho Wants PM to Sign Election Pledge
The Christian Council of Lesotho is disappointed that the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have not signed a Pledge to accept the results of the June 3rd poll, and those other prominent leaders don’t take the pledge seriously. Fourteen of 30 registered parties signed the pledge brokered by churches and supported by the United Nations. The Pledge to accept the outcome of election has become tradition in Lesotho and it is driven by the Christian Council of Lesotho, a multi denominational body consisting of all churches. Bishop Mallane Taaso of the Anglican Church says its aim is to ensure post-election stability. “Look how good it is when brothers and sisters live in unity.” The United Nations is a constant observer of governance and elections in Lesotho. SABC

Central African Republic Rebels Turn on Each Other as Violence Flares
[…] Much of the current upsurge in violence is being caused by two factions of the now disbanded Séléka fighting one other. On one side is the Fulani-dominated UPC; on the other an ad hoc coalition of rebel groups lead by the Popular Front for the Renaissance of the Central African Republic (FPRC). The new coalition includes elements of the anti-balaka, the FPRC’s sworn enemies just a few months ago. A rift between the FPRC and UPC first emerged in 2014 when the former called for an independent state in northern CAR, a proposal rejected by the latter. Preferring to operate independently, UPC leader Ali Darassa has since rebuffed multiple FPRC calls to reunify the Séléka, threatening the FPRC’s hegemony over CAR’s rebel movement and resource-rich territory. IRIN

‘More than 3,000 Escaped’ Makala Jail in DR Congo
More than 3,000 prisoners are believed to have escaped from the main prison in Democratic Republic of Congo, security sources have told the BBC. The authorities say only around 50 prisoners got away when armed men attacked the prison on Wednesday. The security sources also said dozens of people were killed during the attack on Makala prison. Ne Muanda Nsemi, leader of the political-religious sect Bundu Dia Kongo, is among those who escaped. BBC

Sudan Freezes Assets of People Linked to Terrorism
Sudan’s National Counterterrorism Authority (NCA) Wednesday disclosed it has frozen bank accounts of unnamed persons linked to terrorist activities and included them in the UN Security Council Sanctions List. The European Union (EU) has held a two-day workshop in Khartoum under the title “Combating Terrorism and Money Laundering” from 17 to 18 May to enhance the efficiency of the regular forces, judicial organs and central banks. The head of the NCA and chairman of the Technical Committee for Combating Terrorism Financing, Brig. Gen. Muawiya Madani, told reporters on the sidelines of the workshop that they froze assets of persons suspected of having links to terrorist activities and included them the UN Security Council Sanctions List. Sudan Tribune

AU Lauds Improved Security in Darfur
The African Union said Thursday that the security situation in Sudan’s western region of Darfur has improved. It, however, said that there were still small pockets of clashes between President Omar al-Bashir’s government and the rebels. Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum on Thursday, the AU’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) chairman Mr Mull Katende, said that security and humanitarian situation in Darfur had witnessed a major improvement recently. Mr Katende further commended the efforts of the Sudanese government to restore stability in the region. The 15 members of the PSC ended their five-day visit to Sudan Thursday, where they had visited to Darfur. The East African

US Health Secretary Visits Liberia, Where Ebola Killed 4,800
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is making his first trip overseas to Liberia, the West African country where Ebola killed more than 4,800 people. Price on Thursday praised Liberia for its “remarkable cooperation” on health care issues. He toured a community that was hit hard by the Ebola virus in 2014. Ebola survivor Mohammed Kromah told Price how he spent almost two months at a treatment center. He showed the U.S. health secretary his Ebola-free certificate, which was greeted with wide applause. VOA

Thousands Rally in North Morocco Protest March
Thousands of Moroccans marched in a northern town to protest against injustice and corruption on Thursday, seven months after a fishmonger was crushed inside a garbage truck there while trying to retrieve fish confiscated by the police. Waving banners proclaiming “Are you a government or a gang?” and local protest flags, the march made its way peacefully through the center of Al-Hoceima, packing the main square under the watch of police and gendarmerie checkpoints. Political protests are rare in Morocco, but tensions in Al-Hoceima have been simmering since October following the death of fishmonger Mouhcine Fikri. The incident sparked outrage against “hogra”, a colloquial Derja Arabic term for deprivation of dignity because of official abuses or corruption, and prompted some of the largest protests since Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations in 2011. Reuters

Kenya Tops Region’s Military Ranking
Kenya’s military has for the second time been ranked as Africa’s eleventh most powerful force ahead of its Ugandan and Tanzanian counterparts, despite the neighbouring countries’ bigger personnel count. Global Firepower, an agency that assesses the military strength of nations, ranks Kenya as the most powerful nation in East Africa based on its manpower, range of weaponry, logistical flexibility and budgets. Kenya’s military is, however, ranked below Ethiopia and is also smaller than its East African peers based on personnel headcount. Kenya has 24,150 military personnel, slightly more than half of Uganda’s 45,000 while Tanzania commands 30,000 servicemen. The East African

African Leaders Take the blame for the Continent’s Resource Curse
African leaders tend to lay the blame on others for the ‘resource curse’ – the way the continent’s natural resources have mostly bred rampant corruption, enriched elites and triggered civil conflicts, rather than lifting Africa’s people out of poverty. The usual – and obvious – prime culprits have been the multinational companies which extract those resources. But at the 6th Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa in Ethiopia last month, current and former African leaders were unusually candid in acknowledging what just about everyone else knew anyway – that it is African governments themselves who must bear the greatest responsibility for the abuse of the continent’s resources. The current leaders present were Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Botswana’s Deputy President Mokgweetsi Masisi. ISS



Photo: Adam Jones