Africa Media Review for November 23, 2018

Violence-Ridden Central African Republic on Road to Famine -U.N
Endemic violence in Central African Republic is pushing the country towards famine with 63 percent of the population already needing emergency aid, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in the country said on Wednesday. Central African Republic (CAR) has been in chaos since 2013, when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted the president, provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias. The fighting has uprooted more than 1 million people. The U.N. humanitarian chief in the country, Najat Rochdi, said 2.9 million of the 4.6 million population needed aid, and 1.6 million were in acute need. In August, a food security survey assessed that for the first time, parts of CAR were in an “emergency”. That is the level four in a globally recognised food security classification system, where five is “catastrophe/famine”.  Reuters

Boko Haram Kidnaps 50 Loggers in Nigeria: Civilian Militia
Boko Haram jihadists abducted around 50 loggers in northeastern Nigerian close to the border with Cameroon, civilian militia and residents told AFP on Thursday. The hostages who were mostly from a camp for people displaced by jihadist violence were on Saturday rounded up by fighters loyal to factional leader Abubakar Shekau while collecting wood “The men were rounded up and taken away by Boko Haram insurgents and nothing has been heard from them,” militia leader Umar Kachalla said. “Two of the loggers escaped and returned home and broke the news. “We don’t have a precise number of those taken but usually the loggers move in a group of more than 50 men,” Kachalla said.  AFP

Attack on French Firm Foraco’s Site Kills Seven People in Niger
Unidentified attackers have killed seven people in an attack on French drilling company Foraco’s water well site in southeastern Niger, according to a security and company source. The security source said Thursday’s attackers were believed to belong to Nigerian armed group Boko Haram, which is active in the Diffa region near the border with Nigeria. An official at the well site in the village of Toumour did not know who was responsible for the attack but said the victims included six company employees and one civil servant. “We lost six agents in our ranks,” the official told Reuters news agency. “The controller, a civil service agent, was kidnapped before having his throat slit not far from the site.”  Al Jazeera

Latest US Airstrikes in Somalia Kill Six Al-Shabab Extremists
The U.S. military on Thursday announced the latest of several deadly airstrikes this week against al-Shabab extremists in Somalia as it targets a region well north of where the al-Qaida-linked fighters control large parts of the country. The U.S. Africa Command statement said two new strikes killed six fighters and destroyed a weapons cache on Wednesday near Harardere. That al-Shabab-controlled community last month was targeted by the deadliest U.S. airstrike in almost a year, with dozens of extremists killed. The U.S. has now carried out 35 airstrikes this year against al-Shabab, Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, which continues to stage deadly attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and other cities. Somali intelligence officials said the latest airstrikes targeted locations in the rural villages of Jimo-Luqunyar and Adaley, 75 kilometers (46 miles) northeast of Harardere.  AP

Zambia Opposition Leader Hichilema Questioned over ‘Anti-China’ Remarks
Zambian police on Tuesday questioned opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema for allegedly fuelling attacks on Chinese nationals, in a sign of growing political tension in the country. Hichilema, of the United Party for National Development, was last year detained for four months for alleged treason in a case that many critics said was politically motivated. Hichilema has repeatedly challenged the result of the 2016 election, which he lost to President Edgar Lungu.  Africa News

In Tanzania, a Bulldozer President Tests Donors
The soldiers started fanning out in the cashew nut growing regions of southern Tanzania – a jolting sight for traders and, campaigners say, a watershed moment for a country once held up as a darling of development groups. The government said the troops were there last week to make sure growers and markets were obeying new orders by President John Magufuli, known to his supporters as “the bulldozer”. His forceful interventions on everything from commerce to sexual morality have placed him on a collision course with donors. On Monday, soldiers were out again further north in the tourist hub of Arusha, this time to crack down on street black market currency dealers.  Reuters

Opposition Figure Named Ethiopia’s Election Boss
A former judge and leading opposition figure has been sworn in as the head of Ethiopia’s electoral board. Ms Birtukan Mideksa is the latest significant appointment of a woman to a key public office. Ms Birtukan returned to Ethiopia earlier this month after seven years in exile in the US. She was among dozens of opposition leaders jailed after the disputed elections of 2005 that led to the deaths of hundreds of people. The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza in the capital Addis Ababa says she faces a key challenge in restoring faith in an electoral board that has constantly faced accusations of being manipulated by the state – and will oversee elections in May 2020.  BBC

Ethiopia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya: Top US Diplomat to Visit Horn of Africa
The United States Department of State disclosed on Wednesday that its top diplomat on African Affairs was scheduled to visit the Horn of Africa starting in late November. Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs is expected to visit Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya as part of US efforts in promoting stronger trade and commercial ties, a statement read. The last time a top diplomat undertook a similar visit was in April 2018 when then Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Donald Yamamoto visited Eritrea, Djibouti before rounding up his visit in Ethiopia. Yamamoto has recently been appointed US Ambassador to Somalia. Africa News

U.N. Urges Burundi Govt, Opposition Parties to End Political Crisis
The security situation in Burundi has remained relatively calm in recent months, but the human rights situation remains worrying, the U.N says. Its Special Envoy to Burundi is urging the government and opposition parties to come together to end the lingering political crisis. ‘‘The humanitarian situation is becoming worrying. Indeed, it is estimated that nearly 1.7 million people are threatened by food insecurity. And here I would like to reiterate the Secretary-General’s concerns about the continuing deterioration of the country’s socio-economic situation and the food insecurity that affects many Burundians’‘, Special Envoy to the Secretary General, Michel Kafando said while addressing the UN Security Council in New York on Wednesday.  Africa News

Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana Launch Joint Security Operation
Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have launched a joint security operation called Koudanlgou II in the southern and western areas of Burkina Faso. The Burkinabe government announced at the end of a Council of Ministers meeting on Wednesday, that the joint effort began since November 15. It said more than 850 security elements from the three countries are involved in the joint multinational operation, which is expected to crackdown transnational crimes including terrorism, smuggling, and drug trafficking. Operation Koudanlgou II follows the Accra initiative signed in November 2017 by five countries in the sub-region: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Togo. Africa News

African G5 Force ‘Better’ than UN’s in Mali: Mauritania’s Aziz
A fledgling African regional force fighting jihadists in Sahel countries is more effective – with fewer resources – than a UN mission with a similar remit in Mali, the Mauritanian president said on Wednesday. “The G5 makes do with the little resources it has, despite lots of pledges, while MINUSMA has huge resources and doesn’t do as well,” Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz told French journalists. “Relatively speaking, the G5 has not failed.” The G5, whose secretariat is based in Mauritania, is a French-backed scheme conceived in 2015 to combat jihadism and lawlessness along the Sahara’s southern rim, but lack of funding and shortfalls in equipment and training have led to delays in its operations. It groups Mauritania with four other former French colonies – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger – where militants of Boko Haram and the Islamic State group as well as armed gangs have gained a foothold.  AFP

Tens of Thousands ‘Left to Starve’ as Mali Conflict Escalates
Tens of thousands of people who have fled fighting in Mali since September are going hungry because funding has run out as the conflict has escalated, aid agencies said on Wednesday. The West African country has been a battleground of Islamist militants, ethnic militias and international troops since a rebel uprising was hijacked by jihadists in 2012. Fighting has intensified this year, leaving 5.2 million people in need of aid – more than at any time since the start of the crisis, according to the United Nations. Of 70,000 people who have fled their homes in the last two months, about half have received food and shelter and more than 34,000 have been ‘left to starve’, said the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).  Reuters

South Africa: Cabinet Reshuffled 6 Months before Polls
South Africa’s president on Thursday announced a Cabinet reshuffle with general elections barely six months out. Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Siyabonga Cwele the new home affairs minister, replacing Malusi Gigaba, who resigned this month after a court found he had lied under oath in parliament. The president also put Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in charge of communications, postal services, and telecommunications. Ramaphosa said he had decided to fold the Postal Services and Telecommunications Ministry into the Communications Ministry in a bid to avoid duplication of duties. Cwele previously served as minister of postal services and telecommunications, with Abrahams as her deputy. Anadolu Agency

Uncertainty in Madagascar Poll — the Wait Is On for Courts to Pronounce
The results of the first round of Madagascar’s presidential elections are in and awaiting finalisation by the courts, but the two biggest candidates, Marc Ravalomanana and Andry Rajoelina, as well as the biggest loser, the most recent president Hery Rajaonarimampianina, are united in their complaints about the outcome. A strange thing happened soon after the results of the Madagascar elections were announced on Saturday— all three of the biggest candidates, winners and losers alike, filed complaints. Former president Marc Ravalomanana, who had the second-most votes by only a few percentage points, with 35.29% of the vote, first filed 208 objections to the Constitutional High Court about the outcome, but on Wednesday withdrew them.  Daily Maverick

French Troops Deployed amid Protests on Reunion Island
France is deploying soldiers to calm violence on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion after protests over fuel tax hikes degenerated into looting and rioting. Schools on the island are closed for a third day Thursday because protesters’ roadblocks prevent teachers, children and food supplies from reaching them, according to a statement from the regional administration. Gas price protests have simmered in France and its overseas territories since Saturday. On Reunion, a verdant island cherished by tourists, the protests unleashed broader anger over poverty, which is much more widespread than on the French mainland. French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday night defended government efforts to boost the economy on Reunion but also ordered troops to the area, calling the violence “unacceptable.” The French military could not provide details on the deployments.  AP

Tunisian Civil Servants Strike, Protest for Pay Raises
Tunisian civil servants have gone on strike around the country to protest the failure of negotiations with the government for wage increases, amid plunging buying power and soaring inflation. Thousands gathered Thursday in front of parliament with chants of “shame on the government” and calls to be given their “rights.” Public institutions, including in far-flung regions, were paralyzed by the strike, although minimal services were provided in hospitals. Only the defense and interior ministries worked regularly. Tunisia has some 670,000 civil servants, and more than 15 percent of the state budget goes to paying their salaries.  AP

Angola Vows to Fight ‘Cancer’ of Corruption as Economy Recovers
Angolan President Joao Lourenco pledged Thursday to continue his fight against the cancer of corruption and roll back the African nations oil dependency by investing in other sectors of the economy to bolster growth. Battling graft has been a cornerstone of what Lourenco has called the new Angola since taking the helm of Africa’s second-biggest oil producer last year from Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled for 38 years. Angola is ranked one of the worlds most corrupt nations by Transparency International. “There is a need to moralize our society as a whole,” Lourenco said in a speech to the Portuguese parliament during a three-day visit to the country. Earlier Thursday, Lourenco compared his governments fight against corruption to meddling with a nest of wasps. “We have already felt some stings but that wont kill us. It wont make us back off. We need to destroy that nest,” said Lourenco. Bloomberg

South Sudan Wants $1.5Bn for Post-Conflict Recovery
Humanitarian Affairs minister Hussein Mar Nyout told media in Juba that the return of peace and stability in the war-torn state could see heavy influx of the nearly 3 million South Sudan refugees back home. He said the money would cater for the needs of the returnees and the suffering populations in rural areas. Donor community “With present peace, in a few months to come, we will see an influx of our people back home, whether from the region or from elsewhere. These people will require a lot of support,” he said. “We need is $1.5 billion and I am appealing to the donors, to the UN agencies to help us,” he added.  The East African

France Advised to Change Heritage Law to Allow Return of African Art to Former Colonies
France should change heritage law to facilitate the return of thousands of African artworks pillaged or bought during the colonial era, a government-appointed report is to advise President Emmanuel Macron. If approved, it would amount to a radical policy shift that could pile pressure on Britain and other ex-colonial powers to hand back long-held artifacts to their countries of origin. The report follows a groundswell of calls to return cultural treasures in Africa, amid estimations that up to 90 per cent of its cultural heritage is in foreign hands. France alone possesses around 90,000 African artworks, some 70,000 of which are at Paris’ Quai Branly museum, founded by ex-president Jacques Chirac, a fan of African and Asian art. Currently, French law strictly forbids the government from parting with what amounts to state property, even in clear-cut cases of pillaging. The Telegraph