Africa Media Review for May 23, 2018

Gambia Gets $1.7 Billion in Funding Pledges to Reform Economy
International donors committed 1.45 billion euros ($1.7 billion) over three years to Gambia to help the West African nations new government revive the economy and strengthen democratic institutions. The donations, pledged at a conference co-hosted by the European Union, included funds from the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank. The EU committed 140 million euros in grants. Gambian President Adama Barrow defeated ex-dictator Yahya Jammeh, who ruled for 22 years, in elections in December 2016. The funds pledged this week will help cover the needs identified for donor support in the countrys 2018-2021 national-development plan. Bloomberg

Al Shabaab Suicide Bomber Hits Somalia Military Convoy: Police
A suicide car bomber from Somalia’s Islamist group al Shabaab hit a military convoy outside Mogadishu on Tuesday, causing an unknown number of deaths, a police officer and the group’s spokesman told Reuters. The attack targeting a passing military convoy occurred in Afgoye, a district about 30 km northwest of Mogadishu, police officer Major Abdiqadir Ali said. “What we are sure (of) is a military vehicle was hit,” Ali said, adding there were casualties but the death toll had not yet been determined. Al Shabaab’s military operations spokesman Abdiasis Abu Musab told Reuters they were responsible for the attack. The group, an ally of Al Qaeda, is fighting to topple the country’s western-backed central government and impose its rule based on its own interpretation of sharia law. Reuters

Burundi Visitor Logbooks Still Required 3 Years after Unrest
The shadow of the Burundian government’s 2015 crackdown on political unrest lingers over the capital. Amid tightened security, residents must keep log books in their homes to track visitors. Security services dropping by can demand to see them and failure to produce them can result in arrest. Twenty-two year old Irakoze lives in one of the neighborhood where protests erupted in 2015. She has not fled her area, but she has spent much of her time alone. She said it has been two years since the government gave her the book, and she hasn’t received any visitors because people are afraid. Burundian authorities distributed notebooks in homes for people to register family members and other visitors. They are required to report any visitor to the government’s “area chief.” Failure to report and register a visitor can be a ticket to jail. VOA

Kidnappings in Cameroon Multiply as English-Speaking Separatists Are Emboldened
Kidnappings are proliferating in Cameroon’s violence-torn English-speaking region, where officials, foreigners and locals alike are finding themselves targeted for abduction. Since anglophone separatists declared independence last October, dozens of people have gone missing – on average, a fresh case is reported by the local media every week. “At least 50 people have keen kidnapped,” said Felix Agbor Ngonkho, of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa. Many more abductions are probably not even been reported, he added. “It has become impossible for a Cameroonian car carrying foreigners or bearing the licence plate of a French-speaking region to travel through the English-speaking regions without being attacked by armed men emerging from the forest,” a human-rights activist said. AFP

South Sudanese Peace Talks in Ethiopia Extended in the Hope Warring Parties Can Reach Agreement
The pain of the people of South Sudan who have endured five years of civil war was palpable during an inter-faith prayer session at peace talks underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Priests and members of their congregations wept as they prayed for political leaders to find a compromise, to reconcile, and work together to build lasting peace. “The widows and orphans, for how long will they continue like this,” wept one woman. “Why should they not give up? Even the people who fight for this land, they give up. They die for this land and they don’t want to die.” All the parties attending the High-Level Revitalization Forum in Addis Ababa admit that progress in carving out a new path towards peace has been slow. Talks have now been extended a further 48-hours. ReliefWeb

S. Sudan Proposes Creation of Third Vice President’s Position
The South Sudanese government has proposed to the mediation team from the regional bloc (IGAD) that the position of the third vice president be created in an effort aimed at expanding the government size, instead of trimming it down. The country’s cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro said significant progress were made and that issues upon which the parties did not make a consensus were left to the mediation team to make a bridging gap. “There is a significant progress. Through thematic committees, there have been significant in security sector and we are hoping there will be a significant progress in governance matters. As the government we made a new proposal in an effort to break stalemates. We now proposed a creation of a third vice president position to be filled by those in opposition,” Lomuro told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday. Sudan Tribune

Delegates Mull Over IGAD Proposal for South Sudan
South Sudan’s warring parties are expected to sign a proposal drafted by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediators that addresses many of the major sticking points that have prevented a peace deal. Delegates from the parties spent five days in intense negotiations in the Ethiopian capital, but had been unable to reach a consensus, which prompted the IGAD proposal. Government and opposition representatives, activists and observers Tuesday signed a document that recommits them to talks about governance issues, including implementing 35 percent affirmative action for women at all levels of government, acknowledging the need for all guns to fall silent, and respecting the cessation of hostilities agreement signed last December. VOA

Morocco-Algeria Tensions Flare over Claims of Hezbollah Support to Polisario
Morocco’s decision to sever ties with Iran May 1, after accusing Iranian-backed Hezbollah of training and arming the Polisario Front and seeking independence for the disputed Western Sahara, provoked mutual accusations between Morocco and Algeria, which supports the Polisario Front. In a June 12 interview with the French Pan-African magazine Jeune Afrique, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita revealed details of Algeria’s “cover, backing and operational support” for meetings held between high-caliber Hezbollah cadres and Polisario leaders in a “hideout” in the capital, Algiers. He claimed that the Iranian Embassy in Algeria served as a link between Hezbollah, Algeria and the Polisario Front. Bourita said in the interview that he had told his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif the names of senior Hezbollah military officials who had visited, on several occasions since March 2017, the Tindouf refugee camps controlled by the Polisario Front in order to supervise training courses, set up facilities and meet with Polisario officials. Al Monitor

Algeria, Mauritania to Open First Border Crossing
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has approved a plan to open the first border crossing between Algeria and Mauritania following an agreement signed between the two countries last year. The Algeria Press Service on Tuesday quoted a statement released by Algeria’s presidency saying Bouteflika had signed the decree on Monday. Last November, Algerian Interior Minister Noureddine Badawi and Mauritanian counterpart Ahmed Ould Abdallah inked a deal to establish the first border crossing linking the North African neighbors. Anadolu Agency

Force Intervention Brigade Gets Its Second South African Commander
The new man at the helm of the UN Force intervention Brigade (FIB) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is Brigadier General Patrick Dube. He took up position in the mission area during the third week of April and the first official confirmation of Dube’s deployment – the second South African to command the only UN deployment mandated to use force – came in Parliament last week. Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the National Assembly Dube took over command of the FIB during April. According to the SANDF Directorate: Corporate Communications, the one-star general was named FIB commander “after being identified and rigorously interviewed by the UN for his suitability to lead the mission”. DfenceWeb

Superstition Stopping Ebola Victims from Seeking Medical Care
Health workers fighting Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo have run into an invisible but powerful hurdle — a belief system that deems the disease to be a curse or the result of evil spirits. Some people are refusing medical care and turn instead to preachers and prayers to chase away the threat, they say. The pastor of an evangelical church last Wednesday died several days after he “prayed” for an Ebola victim who went to him for help, a doctor said. “Some sick people believe that the Ebola epidemic comes from sorcery — they refuse to be treated and prefer to pray,” said Julie Lobali, a nurse on the front line against the DRC’s ninth Ebola outbreak. AFP

U.S. Pledges $8 Million to Global Effort to Fight Ebola
The United States has pledged to provide $8 million to support the global response to the growing Ebola outbreak in Congo, officials said Tuesday. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a $7 million commitment Tuesday at the World Health Assembly in Geneva that added to an initial $1 million pledge last week. The outbreak is the most serious since the 2014 West Africa epidemic that killed more than 11,000 people. At the World Health Assembly in Geneva on Tuesday, WHO officials said that there are 51 confirmed or probable cases of Ebola in the outbreak and that 27 of those people have died. Hundreds of people have been in contact with infected people and are being monitored, and they are candidates for the first round of an experimental vaccination campaign that began Monday. The Washington Post

Former PM Says Libya Risks Partition if It Rushes to Elections
Mahmoud Jibril, who led the National Transitional Council during the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi after more than four decades in power, said a U.N.-endorsed target of holding national polls by the end of the year was unrealistic. “The country is still not ready. More unity is needed, more consensus is needed,” Jibril said in an interview from his base in Cairo. “To go for elections when the country is so divided – we are exposing the country to real partition.” Jibril, 65, a U.S.-trained consultant, headed an economic reform body under Gaddafi from 2007 before siding with rebels in the 2011 uprising. He served as interim prime minister for about seven months, lobbying successfully for the NATO air campaign that provided the rebels with crucial support. Reuters

Qaddafi Regime’s Legacy Fuels Bloody Conflicts in West Africa
Centuries-old communal tensions across West Africa are taking an increasingly bloody turn, fueled by competition for land and water and an influx of weapons and fighters from Libya. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has blamed that cocktail of guns and gunmen for the intensifying clashes between crop farmers and herders as well as robberies and kidnapping by bandit gangs. The violence is stoking Nigerias ethnic and religious divisions and is rivaling Boko Harams nine-year-old Islamist insurgency in the northeast as the nations biggest security crisis. The fallout from the downfall of Moammar Qaddafis regime in Libya almost seven years ago is worsening conflict in Nigeria and other countries in the region such as Mali and Niger where al-Qaeda- and Islamic State-inspired groups operate, according to analysts including Nnamdi Obasi of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. Bloomberg

Kagame, Macron Meet to Ease Tensions over Rwanda Genocide
Rwandan President Paul Kagame will meet French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday (May 23) as they seek to improve bilateral ties after two decades of tension over the 1994 Rwandan genocide. France has admitted mistakes over the genocide but denied Rwandan accusations it was complicit in the mass killings through its support of ethnic Hutu forces who carried out most of the slaughter. More than 800,000 lives were lost during the violence, most of them ethnic Tutsis and some of them moderate Hutus. Kagame, who is also the current president of the African Union (AU), will meet Macron before they give a joint statement, according to the Elysee. AFP

Ghana President Orders Arrest of Football Assoc. Chief over Corruption
President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has ordered the immediate arrest of the country’s football association president, Kwesi Nyantakyi, several local media outlets have reported. The charge for Nyantakyi’s arrest order is said to be defrauding by false pretenses. The president’s order is for all security agencies to search and arrest the Ghana Football Association (GFA) boss. Nyantakyi at the time of the order was out of the country. Sources say the GFA President took money from people and promised them that he will “give the President of Ghana some of it” and he also guaranteed them access to the president. Africa News

HIV Drug Shortage Puts Hundreds of Thousands of Lives at Risk in Uganda
The lives of hundreds of thousands of Ugandans living with HIV are being put at risk as the country runs out of a drug given to people on antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) to fight infections. Sarah Achieng Opendi, state minister for health, told the Guardian the country’s national medical stores were running out of the antibiotic Septrin, which is used to treat and fight conditions like flu, malaria, diarrhoea and tuberculosis. Most of the public health facilities and ARV-accredited sites in the country haven’t received Septrin for the past five months. “We had a funding gap and could not procure Septrin in time,” said Opendi. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones