Africa Media Review for November 15, 2018

U.N. Security Council Removes Eritrea Sanctions after Years
The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted on Wednesday to lift a nearly decade-old arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Eritrea after a rapprochement with Ethiopia and thawing of relations with Djibouti. The British-drafted resolution also urged Eritrea and Djibouti to work towards normalizing ties and settling a border dispute. It asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report to the council on progress by Feb. 15 and then every six months. The measures against Eritrea – which include a travel ban and asset freeze on certain people and entities – were imposed in 2009 after U.N. experts accused it of supporting armed groups in Somalia. Eritrea has denied the accusations. … The resolution also removes a requirement for countries to ensure that people or companies working in Eritrea’s mining sector prevented funds from being diverted and used to undermine peace and security in the region. Reuters

UN ‘Alarmed’ by Fighting in DR Congo Ahead of December Elections
The United Nations has raised the alarm over fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), warning that violence, which is unfolding alongside an Ebola outbreak, could hamper next month’s elections. Leila Zerrougui, head of the UN stabilisation mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, said that the provinces of Tanganyika and South Kivu and parts of North Kivu province were most at risk. “I have grown increasingly alarmed over the situation in Beni in recent months, where we continue to face major challenges in implementing our mandate,” she said. “There is a potential for armed group interference in elections in specific areas throughout eastern DRC.” Eastern DRC has been troubled for decades by inter-ethnic bloodshed and militia violence, a crisis that has escalated this year. Al Jazeera

Death Toll from DRC Cholera Outbreak at 857
A cholera epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed 857 lives since the start of the year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Wednesday. Health authorities have so far recorded 25,170 cases, occurring in 21 out of the country’s 26 provinces, the WHO’s office in the DRC said. The provinces of East Kasai and Lomami, in the centre of the country, and South Kivu, Tanganyika and Upper Katanga in the east, are those most affected. Last year, the country had 55,000 cases of cholera, resulting in 1,190 fatalities. … The DRC is also battling an outbreak of Ebola in two eastern provinces, North Kivu and Ituri, that has killed 212 people since August. AFP

Cameroon Military Says 30 Separatists Killed in Fighting
Cameroon’s military says it has killed least 30 separatists in the past few days in the country’s restive North West region. Military spokesperson Colonel Didier Badjeck said on Wednesday that figures may increase after intense fighting in the Mayo Binka area. Badjeck said no soldiers died in the fighting. He said the military freed people held by separatists and more than 100 fleeing the violence have arrived in the capital, Yaounde. Hundreds have been killed in the past year in fighting between the military and armed separatists in Cameroon’s northwestern and southwestern regions. AP

Fighting Erupts in Troubled Chad Mountains
Deadly clashes are unfolding in a troubled gold-mining region in northern Chad, pitching government troops against a local “self-defence” force, sources said. Fighting broke out on Saturday in Miski, in the heart of the Tibesti mountains near the Libyan border, and resumed this week with the loss of several lives, the sources on both sides said. Two of the dead are senior officers of the elite presidential guard, Isakha Djeroua and Abdelkerim Mustapha, a military source said. Chadian forces shelled the area on Monday and Tuesday and deployed two helicopters, one of which has crashed, and two Sukhoi warplanes, added a military source. The Tibesti region has been hit by a gold rush, with an influx of illegal miners — locals or people from other Chadian regions or other countries — that has stoked unrest with locals. AFP

Madagascar Heading toward Runoff Poll in Presidential Race
A runoff presidential election in December is likely in Madagascar where two former presidents are in a tight race, according to results announced Wednesday from 70 percent of polling stations. Seven days after voting, former transitional president Andry Rajoelina is leading with 39 percent of the votes counted, followed closely by former president Marc Ravalomanana with 36 percent. The most recent president, Hery Rajaonarimampianina, is far behind with 7 percent, according to results from 17,097 of the 24,852 polling stations, according to the national electoral commission. A total of 36 candidates contested the Nov. 7 election. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round will take place on December 19th. All the leading candidates have expressed doubts about the reliability commission’s results. Madagascar has been shaken many times by post-election crises. AP

Zimbabwe: MDC’s Chamisa ‘Faces Arrest’ for Inciting Post-election Violence – Report
Zimbabwean police have reportedly said they are now close to arresting opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party leader Nelson Chamisa for inciting violence that led to the deadly military crackdown, which left six people dead. On August 1, armed soldiers were deployed in the capital, Harare, to suppress a protest against delays in announcing results of the country’s first elections without former ruler Robert Mugabe. Gunfire erupted and six people died, Associated Press reported. Despite widely published photos and videos showing the Zimbabwean soldiers firing on people in Harare’s streets, army generals said under oath this week that they did not believe the troops shot at people. … Following the military generals testimony, an acting officer commanding (crime) Harare, Detective Chief Inspector Edmore Runganga, told the commission that the police were now close to arresting Chamisa, reported the privately owned NewsDay newspaper. News24

South Sudan: Units Set Up to Carry Out Pre-transitional Period Activities
South Sudan’s Minister of Cabinet Affairs Martin Elia Lomuro said the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) on Wednesday set up four units to implement the provisions of the pre-transitional period. In a press statement in Juba, Lomuro said the national committee agreed on thematic committees on administration and finance, security, governance and advocacy. Lomuro, who is also the secretary of the NPTC, said the four units represent the parties to the revitalized peace agreement. “The finance unit will be headed by somebody nominated by the SPLM-IO and the unit for dissemination and advocacy will be headed by a representative from SSOA. The unit for security sector implementation will be headed by the incumbent TGoNU,” he said. “The unit for governance and legal affairs will be headed by Former Detainees. The other political parties will have the head of the secretariat who will be answerable to the secretary,” he added. … Under the peace deal signed in September, a new unity government will be formed after eight months. Radio Tamazuj

Tanzania Loses Denmark Aid over Rights Concerns after World Bank Scraps Loan
Tanzania’s second-biggest donor Denmark said it would withhold $10 million worth of aid money, citing concerns over human rights abuses and “unacceptable homophobic comments” made by a government official. The decision came on the same day that the World Bank said it had scrapped a plan to loan Tanzania $300 million after the country reaffirmed its policy of banning pregnant girls from school and recently made it a crime to question official statistics. “I am very worried about the negative development in Tanzania, the latest being the completely unacceptable homophobic statements from a commissioner,” Minister for Development Cooperation Ulla Tornaes said on Twitter on Wednesday. Reuters

UN Bemoans Lack of Funding for African Anti-Jihadist Force
International donors have disbursed less than half of what they had pledged for a regional force fighting to contain West African jihadists, hampering its efforts as insecurity spreads across the region, a United Nations report said. A February conference of about 50 countries including the United States, Japan and Norway pledged 415 million euros ($470 million) for the G5 Sahel force, made up of troops from Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. But the force has struggled to get off the ground and in his Nov. 12 report to the Security Council, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said only 45.9 percent of funds (about 190.76 million euros) had either been disbursed or allocated for procurement processes. … The G5 force has been hobbled by delays and poor coordination between the five countries, officials and diplomats say, while insecurity has escalated in the border region between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. VOA

South African Parliament Team Calls for Law Change over Land Reform
A South African parliamentary team has recommended a constitutional amendment to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation in the public interest. The Constitutional Review Committee said amending section 25 would make it explicitly clear that such expropriation could be carried out to accelerate land reform. “South Africans have spoken, loud and clear, and we listened to their cry,” Lewis Nzimande, co-chairman of the review team, said in a statement on Thursday. “This has truly been a massive project. We have seen people queuing for long periods, just to make sure they have a say on the matter.” The review team’s recommendation will now go to the national assembly. It is not clear when a vote will take place. Reuters

Media Watchdog Slams Gabon over ‘Erosion’ of Freedom
Freedom of the press is being eroded in Gabon, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said on Wednesday, after the government suspended a newspaper for commenting on the hospitalisation of President Ali Bongo. Gabon’s media regulator, the High Authority for Communications (HAC), on Friday handed a three-month suspension to the L’Aube (Dawn) newspaper and a six-month suspension to its editor. The paper had run an article saying the country had been put on “very dangerous autopilot” in Bongo’s absence. It called on Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet to name the speaker of the Senate, Lucie Milebou Mboussou, as interim president to fill the power vacuum. AFP

Ugandan Soldiers to Guard Chinese Businesses after Rash of Robberies
Ugandan soldiers will be deployed shortly as security guards for businesses of mostly Chinese investors that have suffered a spate of robberies, the military said on Wednesday. The East African country of 40 million people hosts a large number of Asian investors and workers, a sizeable portion of them from China, and their numbers has been growing in lock-step with China’s deepening stake in Africa. Chinese businesses have put down roots in Uganda’s retail sector, where their competition has stoked local resentment – and light manufacturing. Firms from China have also captured a large chunk of public infrastructure works in Uganda in recent years, taking advantage of large Chinese credit lines to the country. … In recent months local newspapers have reported a number of attacks on Chinese-owned businesses, mostly in central Uganda, with robbers grabbing cash and other valuables. On Wednesday, the Daily Monitor, a local paper, quoted an official from an association of Chinese-owned businesses in Uganda as saying some business owners were considering leaving the country because of insecurity. In recent years crime, including murder, robberies and kidnappings for ransom, has been growing in Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni has said security personnel may be colluding with criminals. VOA

Angola Battles to Revive Oil Exploration as Output Declines
On Saturday, nearly two decades after securing the initial rights, Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanné was in Luanda to snip the ribbon on a $16 billion oil project. It’s not clear when he, or his peers, will be cracking open the bubbly in Angola again. Without another mega-project like Total’s Kaombo on the horizon and fields getting old, Africa’s second-largest crude producer is facing a steep decline unless it can revive exploration in what was once one of the world’s most exciting offshore prospects. Sonangol, the state oil company, is negotiating contracts for new blocks with oil majors and Angola plans to hold an auction next year, the first tender for exploration rights since 2011. It’s a race against time for a country where oil accounts for 95 percent of exports and around 70 percent of government revenues. Reuters

African Leaders Meet for ‘Last Push’ on AU Reforms
African leaders are set to gather this weekend for a special summit aimed at pushing through long-debated reforms to their pan-continental body. The changes seek to streamline and empower the African Union – an ambitious call for an organisation often seen as toothless and donor-dependent, and analysts say time for forging a deal is short. Egypt, which will assume the chairmanship of the AU early next year, has little interest in the reforms, they say. The special summit is being held at AU headquarters in Addis Ababa this Saturday and Sunday at the insistence of Rwandan President Kagame, the pioneer of the reforms. Elissa Jobson, head of African advocacy for the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, described the talks as a “last push” to enact as many changes before Kagame’s one-year term as chairperson expires in January. “The concern there is that Egypt is very unlikely to push the reforms forward, even if it doesn’t try to reverse them,” she said. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones