Africa Media Review for May 31, 2019

Divided UN Renews South Sudan Arms Embargo
The UN Security Council on Thursday extended for a year an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan despite resistance from African countries, Russia and China. A US-drafted resolution was adopted by a vote of 10 in favour with five abstentions. Resolutions in the 15-member council require a minimum of nine votes for adoption. The measure renews until May 31, 2020 an arms embargo on South Sudan along with an assets freeze and global travel ban slapped on eight South Sudanese nationals for their role in fuelling the war. The United States sharply criticized the three African countries on the council—Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast and South Africa—for refusing to support continued sanctions on South Sudan.  AFP

DR Congo Forces Kill 26 Rebels in Ebola Zone near Beni
Congolese forces have killed 26 rebels from a group thought to be linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), while repelling an attack in the country’s east Ebola zone, the army has said. The exchange in fire took place on Thursday in a village near the city of Beni, an area where more than a dozen different militia groups and associated armed gangs operate, and the epicentre of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic. The army’s spokesman for east Congo, General Leon-Richard Kasonga, said fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked a position in Ngite village and that soldiers returned fire and pursued them. “Twenty-six rebels were neutralised by the army, and their bodies recovered,” he told reporters in Goma.  Al Jazeera

Former Congolese Opposition Leader’s Body Arrives in Kinshasa
The body of longtime Congolese opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi arrived in Kinshasa from Belgium on Thursday, ending a two-year political standoff that eased when his son became president earlier this year. The plane transporting the body of the late Congolese politician arrived in the capital, Kinshasa, shortly after 7.20pm local time, according to Congolese state TV, RTNC. The repatriation of the opposition leader, who died in Belgium aged 84, ended a two-year political standoff after his son, Felix, won the presidential election in January. Tshisekedi was considered so potent a threat to former president Joseph Kabila that his corpse was not allowed to enter the country of his birth. France 24

Sudan Army Says Protest Site a Threat, Closes Al Jazeera Office
Sudan’s military rulers have said a protest camp in the capital has become a threat to the country’s national security, while also ordering the office of the Al Jazeera Media Network in Khartoum to be shut down, without giving any reason. In a televised statement, a spokesman of the transitional military council said on Thursday that legal action would be taken against what it called “unruly elements” at the encampment outside the defence ministry, where protesters have been staging a sit-in for weeks. “The protest site has become unsafe and represents a danger to the revolution and the revolutionaries and threatens the coherence of the state and its national security,” said General Bahar Ahmed Bahar, head of the central region in Khartoum.  Al Jazeera

UN Chief Names US Diplomat as His Somalia Envoy
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday named a new envoy for Somalia, nearly five months after his previous representative was declared persona non grata and expelled.  Career U.S. diplomat James Swan will be Guterres’ special representative and head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).  Swan will replace South African Nicholas Haysom, who in January was ordered by the Somali government to leave the country, just four months after taking up his post. The government was upset about a letter Haysom sent to authorities raising the case of Mukhtar Robow, a former al-Shabab leader who has moved into politics and sought to participate in elections in the South West State.  VOA

France 24 Questions AQIM Jihadist Leader (Video)
Abu Obeida Youssef Al-Aanabi, one of the top figures in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, spoke about the Algerian situation, relations with the Islamic State group and negotiations for the release of French hostage Sophie Pétronin. FRANCE 24’s Wassim Nasr posed 12 specific questions several months ago to Abu Obeida Youssef Al-Aanabi, head of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb’s (AQIM’s) advisory council, who responded by audio message. Al-Aanabi has been on the US watchlist of “international terrorists” since September 2015. France 24

The Civilian Fallout from the Sahel’s Spreading Militancy
A surge in violence across West Africa’s Sahel has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and left thousands dead since January, as Islamist militants with links to al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State extend their reach across the region at a time when they are losing ground in their Middle Eastern strongholds. For the past 10 months, The New Humanitarian has been one of the few news organisations reporting consistently from the front lines on the civilian impact of the rapid rise in violence by the militants, who are based primarily in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger – three countries with shared borders and problems. According to data from ACLED – a group that monitors and maps conflicts – civilian fatalities between November 2018 and March this year rose by an “alarming” 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali, when compared to the same period the year before.  The New Humanitarian

Burundi Threatens to Cut Ties with UN Envoy: Diplomats
Burundi is threatening to cut ties with the UN envoy appointed to the country, ahead of elections next year that the government in Bujumbura insists are an internal matter, according to UN diplomats. The UN Security Council abruptly scrapped a meeting on Burundi scheduled for Tuesday after Burundi’s government made clear it was ready to end relations with Michel Kafando, council diplomats said. Kafando, a former president of Burkina Faso, was appointed in 2017 to lead UN efforts in Burundi, which was wracked by more than a decade of war that ended in 2006. France requested that the council hold a closed-door meeting on Burundi on Friday, but those talks were pushed back to June to allow time to defuse the situation, diplomats said. AFP

Tunisia: Popular Front Faces Collapse Due to Presidential Candidacy Crisis
The Popular Front, a Tunisian opposition party, risks losing its parliamentary bloc following the resignation of nine of its MPs a few months before the elections. On Tuesday, nine MPs of the Popular Front’s parliamentary bloc submitted their resignation to the Parliament’s regulation office, which is expected to decide on the resignations later. The Popular Front bloc has 15 seats in parliament. Thus, in case the MPs’ resignations become final and official five days after its submission, according to the law, the bloc will be dissolved as the minimum number of MPs per parliamentary bloc should not be less than eight. Middle East Monitor

Comoros President Pardons 17 Jailed Opposition Figures
Comoros President Azali Assoumani pardoned 17 jailed opposition figures in a decree issued on Wednesday. Among those freed was Hassane Ahmed el-Barwane, secretary general of the main Juwa opposition party, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for assaulting a soldier. All those pardoned were jailed for up to 20 years on charges linked to unrest that followed a controversial constitutional referendum to extend the president’s term last year. Four others sentenced to life on charges of attempting a coup and threatening state security had their terms reduced to 20 years, said presidential adviser Mohamed Ismailla. They included writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui and Bahassane Ahmed Said, brother of former vice president Djaffar Ahmed Said, who sought refuge in France.  CGTN

South Africa Gets Gender-Balanced Cabinet
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a new cabinet in which, for the first time in the country’s history, half of all ministers are women. In another unexpected move, one of the women is from the opposition. He appointed veteran opposition politician Patricia de Lille, who had stood for the Good Party, as minister of infrastructure development. The African National Congress party won a general election on 8 May. South African journalist Verashni Pillay told BBC Newsday that the move to have half of all cabinet posts occupied by women was a “surprise”. But it shows that the head of state is “astute”, she said.  BBC

New Organisation Created to Take-up Pan-African Fight against Corruption
A new think tank founded by Congolese activists has been set up to fight corruption across the African continent. UNIS partners with organisations in various African countries and has already established a set of specific programmes to be carried out on the ground. UNIS claims to be different as it is providing African solutions for African problems. Corruption in Africa, according to UNIS, can also be shaped by traditional values. “We need to adapt measures against corruption that take into account the characteristics of the African continent,” says Franck Otete, one of the six Congolese founders of UNIS. RFI

Algeria’s Army Chief Offers National Dialogue to End Crisis
Algerians continue to protest despite the upcoming elections and will say they will continue to do so until their demands are met. As the protests continue, the army chief of staff, Gaid Salah, has called for national dialogue . “The only way to solve the crisis in our country lies in the adoption of a purposeful, serious, realistic, constructive, and visionary dialogue approach that puts Algeria above all considerations,” said Salah said in a statement published by Algerian media. But with no candidates running in the July 4 elections, the effectiveness of a national dialogue appears limited.  RFI

Maritime Trials and Tribulations
The guilty verdict handed down in a Sao Tome and Principe courtroom echoed across the globe. A Chilean captain and two Spanish crew members of the notorious fishing vessel the Thunder were sentenced to two to three years in prison and fined a total of $15 million. For the tiny Gulf of Guinea island that relies heavily on the sea economy, it felt like a rare win in a losing battle against illegal fishing. […] Justice Anthony Fernando of the Seychelles said that as recently as 2010 his country’s laws had only vague references to piracy and no definition of what constituted the crime. After the first act of piracy recorded in modern Seychellois history in 2009, the country set about updating its laws. It adopted a detailed description of the offense and made it punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of nearly $75,000. It also included language stating that pirates who commit crimes outside Seychellois waters can be tried on the islands. Since then, the tiny country has led the region by trying more than 150 pirates. “In certain countries there aren’t sufficient provisions or laws that deal with piracy,” Fernando said at a conference held by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “Just because it exists in international law, you cannot bring it into your own land in a dualist system and enforce it. It has to be granted to the courts by statutes. You cannot directly apply international law.”  DefenseWeb

Guinea Bans Polygamy, but Not Everyone Is Happy (Audio)
In Guinea, the parliament recently voted on a law that would ban polygamy. But the move has got many Guineans up in arms. While many unmarried young people have welcomed the ban, a majority of older Guineans condemn this new law. Islamic religious leaders have described the banning of polygamy as a sabotage of Islam.  RFI

Why Young Africans Want to Leave Africa
Youth unemployment and migration are global phenomena, particularly given the level of international economic stagnation. Africa is no exception: Growing unemployment does not encourage the prospect for a better life among young Africans, but the continent’s success relies on harnessing the potential of its youth. Although the headwinds facing globalisation are growing in force around the world, they have not yet managed to stem the desire by many to relocate in search of better prospects. Africa is no exception. According to the most recent round of the Afrobarometer survey — a continental public opinion survey conducted in 34 countries — more than one in three Africans have considered emigrating. The interviews were conducted between 2016 and 2018.  Daily Maverick

New Wave of Middle-Class Emigration Deepens Nigeria’s Skill Shortage
A new wave of emigration among Nigeria’s middle class is robbing the oil-rich West African nation of skills and putting local recruitment under pressure. An anemic economy that contracted for the first time in two decades in 2016, poor health facilities and schools, a worsening insecurity marked by a decade-old Islamist insurgency in the northeast, kidnapping and herdsmen attacks in other parts of the country are driving the exodus. It comes at a time when Nigeria has become the nation with the largest number of poor people. Per capital income dipped by 37% since its 2014 peak and is projected to continue declining in the next four years, according to the International Monetary Fund. The exodus in the nation of almost 200 million people is hitting the IT, finance, consumer and health industries particularly hard. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones