Africa Media Review for November 21, 2016

No Amnesty for South Sudan Rebel Leader, Says President Kiir
South Sudan President Salva Kiir said amnesty will not be granted to his political rival-turned rebel leader, Riek Machar, unless he denounces violence. “My brother Riek Machar thinks the only way for him to become the president of this country is violence, killing innocent people. I told him several times [that] there is no reason to fight. If you [Machar] wants to be the president, wait for elections, but he did not listen”, Kiir said on Sunday. The South Sudanese leader said a number of people approached him demanding that he pardons the armed opposition leader when he returns. “They come asking me to pardon him. I tell them I have no problem with him. He is a citizen of this country and he can return anytime, but must denounce violence”, he said. Sudan Tribune

US Urges UN Arms Embargo Against South Sudan, Russia Says No
The United States on Thursday launched a bid at the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan following UN warnings that the war-torn country could descend into genocide. US Ambassador Samantha Power said a draft resolution will be presented to the council in the coming days to ban weapons sales to the African country and impose sanctions, setting the stage for a clash with Russia, which opposes an arms embargo. “South Sudan is a nation at the precipice,” Power told the council. “In the coming days, the United States will put forward a proposal to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and targeted sanctions on the individuals who have been the biggest spoilers to achieve lasting peace,” she said. AFP on Daily Nation

Names of Three S Sudanese Officials Proposed for UN Sanctions
The United States has proposed the names of three South Sudanese officials for sanctions by the United Nations (UN) Security Council – most notably, the ousted opposition leader and former First Vice President Riek Machar. The move comes a day after the US introduced a draft resolution calling for an arms embargo amidst warnings from the UN that violence was escalating across the country with the potential for genocide. An annex sent to Council members includes proposals to blacklist opposition leader Riek Machar, South Sudan’s army Chief Paul Malong and the country’s Information Minister Michael Makuei. A sanctions regime was established in 2015 and renewed in May this year for a period of one year and allows for such designations. The United States introduced a draft resolution on Thursday as concerns that ethnic divisions in the country could spiral out of control as the peace deal signed in August 2015 teeters on the brink. SABC

AFRICOM Could Scale Back Counter-LRA Mission in Coming Year
U.S. Africa Command is reassessing its five-year manhunt for the African warlord Joseph Kony, whose ragtag band of fighters has dwindled to almost “insignificant levels,” said AFRICOM’s Gen. Thomas Waldhauser. “We are at a point in time where we need to transition that mission,” Waldhauser said during a recent interview at his Kelley Barracks headquarters in Stuttgart. The Pentagon has directed AFRICOM to review the ongoing campaign to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army, which operates in jungle terrain in several central African countries. The LRA, which was notorious for abducting children to serve as soldiers, at one time commanded thousands of troops and posed a threat to Uganda’s government. Over the years, however, the ranks have been reduced to perhaps a couple of hundred fighters, as many senior level LRA members have defected from the organization.  The U.S. counter-LRA operation comes with a steep price tag: roughly $100 million per year. Stars and Stripes

Nigerian Clashes Cast Doubt on Claim That Boko Haram Is on Its Knees
Boko Haram has launched a series of attacks that have inflicted substantial casualties on Nigerian government forces and contradict claims by senior officials that the extremist Islamist group is on the brink of defeat. The group made headlines last month when it released 21 female students abducted more than two years ago. The women, taken in a night raid on a school in the small town of Chibok, were the focus of a global campaign and many analysts saw their liberation after negotiations with officials as evidence of Boko Haram’s weakness following an internal split. On taking power 18 months ago, the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, vowed to crush Boko Haram and has since boasted that the group, which launched a violent insurgency seven years ago, was “technically defeated”. The Guardian

Somalia’s PM Says Secures Ceasefire Between Two Warring Regions
Somalia’s prime minister said on Saturday he had secured a ceasefire between two warring regions in the Horn of Africa nation, two weeks after a peace deal collapsed leading to fighting that killed at least 29 people. The Galmudug and Puntland semi-autonomous regions have a history of clashes and the latest round of fighting between their forces two weeks ago erupted after a dispute over buildings planned in Galkayo, a city that is divided between the two sides. “Prime Minister (Omar) Sharmarke travelled to Galkayo and over (the) last week worked to negotiate an immediate ceasefire and an initiation of preliminary talks for a lasting peace agreement,” a statement from his office said. Reuters

Jihadists, Insurgents Plundering State Arsenals Across Sahel
Jihadists and other Islamist insurgents have plundered arms from inadequately secured national stockpiles in Mali, the Central African Republic, and Ivory Coast, according to a report by Conflict Armament Research, a London-based independent organization that tracks illicit weapon movements. And jihadists in the Sahel are also using assault rifles that have their origin in Syria and Iraq, thanks to a supply chain from the Islamic State terror group, which likely seized the weapons from Syrian and Iraqi government forces as its militants advanced in 2014 and the early part of last year. CAR’s report is alarming European counter-terrorism officials as much as their counterparts in the Sahel and West Africa. The study was funded by several EU governments, which fear weapons, including shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, could be smuggled into Europe along migrant routes and used for terror attacks in European capitals. VOA

Mali Ethnic Militia Group Says It Will Lay Down Its Arms
A militia in central Mali that represents ethnic Peuhls said on Saturday it would lay down its arms in a boost for government attempts to bring peace to the country. The National Alliance to Safeguard the Peuhl Identity and Restore Justice was one of three groups that claimed an attack on an army base in central Mali in July in which 17 soldiers were killed. The other two groups were Islamist. The alliance was founded in June 2015. It aims to defend ethnic Peuhl civilians from atrocities and does not agree with Islamist militant groups that operate in northern Mali or with the separatist agenda of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), which is also in the north. Many ethnic Peuhl, or Fulani, people live in the region of Mopti and rear cattle, practicing a pastoralist or nomadic lifestyle. SABC

In Mali, Waning Fortunes of Fulani Herders Play Into Islamist Hands
For centuries, Fulani cattle herders and the farmers of central Mali — both dependent on the Niger River for precious water — have had a deal. The Fulani graze their cows on the greenery that springs up after the river recedes from its flood plains. As it gets munched the farmers plant their crops, now fertilised by cow dung, so long as they do not block access to the nomads’ routes. But as climate change shrinks the river, population growth swells its users and more land gets cultivated, the Fulani are being pushed deeper into poverty. Conflicts with their sedentary neighbours are growing. Throw in radical Islam, abusive security forces, a feeling of political exclusion and a flood of guns from lawless deserts to the north, and conditions are ripe for a rebellion that could destabilise not just Mali but much of West Africa. Reuters

Head of Egypt Press Union Sentenced to Two Years’ Jail for harbouring Wanted Journalists
In May, prosecutors ordered Yahia Qalash — the head of Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate — and board members Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim be tried on charges of harbouring colleagues wanted by the law and spreading lies. The charges relate to a police raid on the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate to arrest two opposition journalists, wanted over protests against the President’s decision to transfer Egyptian sovereignty over two strategic Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia. The raid infuriated journalists, who staged protests, demanded the interior minister’s resignation, and a presidential apology. Instead, Qalash and two others were detained and charged for giving shelter to two wanted men. Saturday’s verdict marks the first time for a head of the journalists syndicate to be put on trial since the union was founded 75 years ago. ABC News

Voters Head to Polls in Troubled Mali after Years of Delay
Voters in Mali headed to the polls on Sunday for the first time since 2013, when international forces intervened to tackle rebel forces which threatened to split the country in two. Voters will elect 12,000 councilors in municipal elections throughout the country, two years later than originally scheduled. The election campaigning has been marked by bitter opposition criticism of the government and calls for a voter boycott. Despite the campaign posters and rallies, there has been little enthusiasm in the capital Bamako for this first election since August 2013, when President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was voted in. The government is currently struggling to implement a peace deal and fighting off jihadist rebels in the north. France 24

Zimbabwe Kidnaps and Tortures Activists Amid Protests Over Currency Reforms
Zimbabwe’s security forces are violently cracking down on activists ahead of a major protest against the government’s plan to introduce a new pseudo-currency to the country’s fragile economy. The plan has sparked fears of a return to ruinous hyperinflation. One Zimbabwean protest organizer who spoke with Foreign Policy said armed men, some in police uniforms, ambushed six other organizers as they drove toward Zimbabwe’s capital Harare for the demonstration in the early hours of Friday morning. “Six activist leaders were abducted and their cars were torched. We only found three of them this morning, about 100 miles from where they were supposed to be,” the protest organizer, still in Harare with other demonstrators, told FP. Three were still unaccounted for at press time. One is feared dead, Zimbabwean human rights lawyer Doug Coltart, who is in contact with the protest organizers, told FP. Foreign Policy

20 Dead As Libya Tribes Clash ‘After Monkey Incident’
More than 20 people were killed in fighting this week between rival tribes in southern Libya, a medical official said Sunday, in violence reportedly sparked by an incident involving a monkey. Witnesses said several homes were hit by rockets and shells in the confrontation. Nasser al-Jehimi of the medical centre in Sebha said 21 people were killed and around 100 others injured in clashes since on Tuesday in the city between Awled Suleiman tribal members and the Guedadfa tribe of Libya’s toppled dictator Moammar Gaddafi. The casualty toll was for the Awed Suleiman tribe alone as information was not immediately available from another hospital being used for their rivals. News 24

Catholic Bishops Apologise for Role in Rwanda Genocide
The Catholic Church in Rwanda has apologised for its role in the 1994 genocide, saying it regrets the actions of those who participated in the massacres. A church statement acknowledged on Sunday its members planned, aided, and executed the genocide, in which more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu hardliners. “We apologise for all the wrongs the church committed. We apologise on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that church members violated [their] oath of allegiance to God’s commandments,” said the statement by the Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was read out in parishes across the country. Al Jazeera

States Campaign for Protection of Civilians in War
Rwanda, the Netherlands and the United States have combined forces to push for a robust mandate for UN peacekeepers to protect civilians in conflict zones. This emerged at the training of 36 officers from the military, police and the civil service of 14 troop-contributing countries in Rwanda. The course is expected to equip them with skills to protect civilians during peacekeeping missions. The UN peacekeeping guidelines binds contingents in the field to wait for the green light from their respective governments before they can act, which has been blamed for slow response during crises. Frédérique de Man, Netherlands ambassador to Rwanda, said commanding officers on the ground come under undue pressure when they have to take decisions to protect civilians in a war zone without clear guidance or with contradicting orders from the mission and the national headquarters. The East African

Why Morocco Is Leading the Charge Against Climate Change
In 2014 the country opened the largest wind farm in Africa, valued at $1.4 billion, in the southwest near the city of Tarfaya. Then, in early 2016, it switched on the first facility of the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, Noor-1, on the fringe of the Sahara desert. When completed in 2018, it will power one million homes and make Morocco a solar superpower. And while the country is still heavily reliant on energy imports (90 percent in 2013, according to the World Bank), it plans to generate 40 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020. Following this road has lead to Morocco hosting the UN’s annual summit on climate change, COP22, in Marrakech. So what lies ahead? CNN

Morocco Signs Over $2 Billion Investment Deal in Ethiopia
Morocco signed an agreement on Saturday to invest over two billion dollars in Ethiopia over a five year period to build a fertilizer factory. The $2.4 billion to be invested between 2017 and 2022 in the 100 acre factory near the eastern city of Dire Daoua is expected to make Ethiopia self-sufficient by 2025. The deal was signed during the official visit of Moroccan King Mohammed VI to Ethiopia to strengthen its political and South/South partnership. The agreement is between Moroccan phosphate producer OCP Group and the Ethiopian government with the former financing the project. Africa News

Guinea-Bissau Ruling Party Rejects New Prime Minister
The ruling party in Guinea-Bissau has rejected the new prime minister appointed by the head of state José Mario Vaz and supported by the President of the National Assembly, Cipriano Cassama. “The PAIGC does not support the decision of the President of the Republic to appoint Umaro Sissoco Embalo to the post of Prime Minister,” according to a statement signed on Saturday. The party headed by the former Prime Minister, Domingos Simoes Pereira, accused President Vaz of “rendering null and void the Conakry Agreement and opted for the continuation of the crisis.” The agreement signed on October 14 in Conakry under the leadership of the head of state of Guinea Alpha Conde within an ECOWAS mediation framework provides for a “consensual process” to choose a leader who will remain in place until the 2018 parliamentary elections. Africa News

Senegal: Millions of Muslims Gather for Pilgrimage
Millions from across West Africa are now gathering in Senegal for this year’s Grand Magal pilgrimage in Touba, the holy city for the Mouride Muslim order. Five million are expected through this weekend for West Africa’s largest Muslim gathering. Senegal’s President Macky Sall is also attending and will pray for peace and unity. Sheik Amadou Bamba founded the Mouride Muslim order in 1883, and the central city of Touba also serves as the location of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest mosque, which the order built. Bamba fought French colonialism through preaching non-violence and was forced into exile in Gabon before returning to the city. Anadolu Agency

Blood Diamonds, Synthetics, and Ethical Supply: The Diamond Industry Fights Its Corner
Diamonds continue to hold their lustre: after a tough year that saw prices and demand fall, the market is showing signs of life in 2016. But the sector, which straddles both mining and high-end retail, is still under pressure, with consumers growing increasingly interested in provenance, while synthetic diamonds are looking to grow their appeal. The Kimberley Process this week closed its annual plenary session in Dubai, hailing “progress” in the industry to meet the challenges in the supply chain. The KP is the body charged with ensuring that so-called “blood diamonds” from conflict zones do not fall into the hands of consumers. But the process, which includes governments, NGOs and industry, has faced repeated criticism for not going far enough in upholding ethical supply. Andrey Polyakov, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC) and a vice president of Russian diamond giant Alrosa, spoke after the event to defend the KP and illustrate its progress – including its efforts to bring Central African Republic, a potentially large source of rough diamonds, back into the international fold. The Telegraph

China’s African Population Declines Amid Slowdown, Crackdown
Dreams are fading in China for African traders like Mouhamadou Moustapha Dieng, who in 2003 was among the first wave of Africans to set up homes and companies in this port city and forge trading links between China and the African continent. Young African traders who want to follow in the footsteps of Dieng’s generation complain of difficulties getting visas, police crackdowns and prejudice, which come amid rising nationalism and slowing economic growth. Guangzhou is believed to have the largest African population in Asia, but many are leaving as long-time traders struggle against a slowdown in the Chinese economy and increased competition from Chinese traders and the internet. “Now the trade is almost finished,” said Dieng, 54 and from Senegal. His profits are down 40 percent from a decade ago. In the absence of a Senegalese consulate in the city, newly arrived 20-somethings on tourist visas head directly to his office for advice on how to do business in China. AP on The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones