Africa Media Review for November 8, 2017

Interdiction Efforts Adapt as Drug Trafficking in Africa Modernizes
Drug trafficking is a major transnational threat in Africa that converges with other illicit activities ranging from money laundering to human trafficking and terrorism. Drug trafficking often complicates and extends armed conflicts by providing revenue needed to purchase weapons, corrupting law enforcement and military officers, and diverting resources from efforts to defuse conflict. It also channels funding for terrorist groups, weakens the rule of law, perpetuates crime, and makes conflicts more lethal. According to the 2017 UN World Drug Report, two-thirds of the cocaine smuggled between South America and Europe passes through West Africa, specifically Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Nigeria, and Togo. Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania are among the countries that have seen the highest traffic in opiates passing from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Western destinations. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

AMISOM Says 1,000 Troops to Leave Somalia
African Union peacekeeping troops will start withdrawing from Somalia next month, says the head of the AU mission in the country. Francisco Madeira told a news conference in Mogadishu that 1,000 soldiers from the five troop-contributing countries — Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti — will depart. “As a result of this, troop movements have started in different parts of the country and will continue for the coming weeks,” Madeira said Tuesday. “This is a process of realignment to effect the reduction in numbers and also begin the handover process of national security responsibilities to the Somali national security forces.” Members of the AU mission, known as AMISOM, have warned for over a year they may pull their troops from Somalia. AMISOM has been helping Somali governments battle militant group al-Shabab since 2007. VOA

South Sudan Commander Defects to Rebels amid Showdown with Ex-Army Chief
A South Sudanese military commander said he had defected with more than 200 soldiers to the country’s largest rebel group, amid a showdown between President Salva Kiir and his former military chief. Lieutenant Colonel Chan Garang, an ally of former army chief Paul Malong, defected to join the largest rebel group fighting Kiir, he said. All three men are ethnic Dinkas and any split within the powerful group could represent a threat to Kiir. The four-year civil war has split the country into a patchwork of fiefdoms, created Africa’s biggest refugee crisis in two decades and led to ethnic cleansing. A third of the 12 million-strong population has fled their homes and half are dependent on food aid. Reuters

UN: Landmines Threaten Million of Lives in South Sudan
About 6 million South Sudanese live in areas with the presence of landmines and explosive remnants of war, according to a UN agency on Saturday. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in war-torn South Sudan said decades of conflict have plagued nearly 90 million square meters of land with explosive hazards. The agency said an estimated 150 previously unknown hazards are discovered each month, with the full extent of contamination unknown, calling for a countrywide survey. UNMAS said since it started operations in the war-torn country in 2004, it has surveyed, cleared and released 1.184 million square meters of land back to the people of South Sudan. Radio Tamazuj

How South Sudan Refugees Are Boosting Uganda’s Economy
Uganda is often called one of the best places in the world to be a refugee because of its welcoming policies. But how do you rebuild your life – and start making money – having left everything you knew and held dear? The BBC’s John Murphy has been finding out. “Starting any business is not easy because it’s difficult to get money at the beginning,” Penina tells me. Most entrepreneurs would tell you that. But imagine how much harder it is when you are living in a refugee settlement in northern Uganda, having escaped war. “It’s not easy for the refugees to even get money,” she continues. BBC

Ramaphosa Has Early Edge in Race for ANC Presidency, Report Says
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa appears to be ahead in the race to become leader of the ruling African National Congress, but his victory is far from certain, according to an early tally of party branch nominations by one of the country’s leading research institutions. Thus far, 773 of about 3,830 ANC branches have nominated Ramaphosa, while 410 have backed his main rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, the Johannesburg-based South African Institute of Race Relations said in a report. It estimates that about 63 percent of about 2,650 branches that have yet to select a preferred candidate are in areas thought to be sympathetic to Dlamini-Zuma, a factor that could tip the race in her favor. Bloomberg

Egypt Western Desert Attack Exposes Front outside Sinai
A deadly attack on the police in Egypt’s Western Desert claimed by a new militant group risks opening up another front for security forces far beyond the remote northern Sinai, where they have battled a stubborn Daesh terror group insurgency since 2014. A little-known group called Ansar Al Islam claimed responsibility for the October 21 attack. Analysts and security sources said the heavy weapons and tactics employed indicated ties to Daesh or more likely an Al Qaeda brigade led by Hesham Al Ashmawy, a former Egyptian special forces officer turned extremist. Reuters

President Declares State of Emergency in Central Sudan
Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir on Monday announced a state of emergency in the central state of Gezira, 100 kilometers from the capital Khartoum. In a presidential decree published by the Sudanese state news agency SUNA, Bashir also dissolved the state’s legislative assembly following longstanding disputes between members of the local parliament the state’s governor, Mohammed Tahir Ella. Disputes escalated recently between the two sides after Ella sacked the speaker of parliament and another 20 parliamentarians following a vote of no confidence by parliament against him. “The President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omar Bashir, has issued a presidential decree dismissing the Gezira legislative council and instructing relevant government bodies to take the necessary measures for the implementation of the decree,” the state news agency reported. Anadolu Agency

Hostilities in Nigeria’s Niger Delta Blamed on Government Neglect
A few days after the Niger Delta Avengers, one of the most deadly rebel groups in the region, announced that it would resume hostilities in the oil rich area, other militant groups under the umbrella of a coalition of militants have followed suit. Community leaders in Nigeria’s oil-rich south reacted by urging militants not to resume attacks on pipelines but give peace talks with the government another chance. The administration reiterated that it was willing to negotiate. The minister for Nigeria’s oil-producing Delta region Usani Uguru Usani said on Monday the government was ready to meet militants days after they called off the year-long ceasefire. The coalition of rebel groups blames the resumption of hostilities on the federal Government’s neglect of the region. The alliance, headed by John Duku, issued a directive calling for all militant groups to go back to their bases and start destroying oil installations and shutting down offices of oil companies. The militants also saw a military exercise called “Crocodile Smile” currently taking place in the region as unnecessary and provocative. Deutsche Welle

More Oil Cash Needed in Nigeria’s Delta to Avert New Conflict, Says Minister
Nigeria’s oil minister will visit the Niger Delta this week in a bid to stave off a threat of more insurgent attacks in the area, and said that without more investment it would be a struggle to ease tensions and develop its main crude producing region. The Niger Delta Avengers, whose attacks on energy facilities in the region last year helped push Africa’s biggest economy into recession, said on Friday it had ended its ceasefire in its campaign for more of Nigeria’s oil earnings. “We’re constrained by cash,” Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum, told Reuters in an interview on Monday when discussing efforts to develop the Delta. “We’ve scurried around for some money just to begin the process.” Reuters

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe Widens Purge, Clearing Wife’s Succession Path
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s sacking of his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa was part of a wider purge, state media said on Tuesday, in a clear out analysts say is meant to neutralise any resistance to the political rise of his wife, Grace. Mugabe sacked his long-time ally Mnangagwa on Monday for showing “traits of disloyalty”, abruptly removing a favourite to succeed the 93-year-old leader and boosting the likelihood of Grace Mugabe becoming his next deputy and potential successor. State televsion ZBC said the purge went beyond removing Mnangagwa, 75, as half of the ruling ZANU-PF’s national provincial executives separately met and passed resolutions expelling supporters of the former vice president on Monday. Reuters

Ex-Soccer Star’s Party Fears Crisis in Liberia over Election Delay
The Liberian party of the 1995 world soccer player of the year, George Weah, said it’s concerned that a political crisis could ensue if the Supreme Court decides to annul the outcome of the first round of the presidential election that left the country facing a runoff. Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change raised the matter after the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that a runoff may not go ahead until a charge over alleged irregularities in the Oct. 10 vote is heard. The second round was scheduled for Tuesday and would’ve been contested between Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party, because neither candidate secured the majority needed for an outright victory to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Bloomberg

EU-Horn of Africa Migration Policy Inherently Flawed, New Report Suggests
The joint EU-Horn of Africa policy on migration is in dire need of a revamp, according to a new report from the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI), The Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA), and The Centre for Human Rights Law at SOAS, University of London. The policy in question is the European Union-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative, also known as The Khartoum Process. Established in 2014 between 37 EU and African states, the multilateral policy intended to curtail mass migration from the Horn of Africa into Europe and tackle regional issues of trafficking and smuggling. Critics say the policy has exacerbated the regional situation and puts more migrants in harm’s way. An Eritrean woman who left her country two years ago now resides in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and is planning to continue on to Europe. “I know refugees are kidnapped, sold, even killed. They don’t give the migrants enough water or food for days. Deutsche Welle

Sahel Anti-Terror Force Sees Teething Problems in First Mission
The maiden mission of a counterterrorism force that aims to tackle jihadist groups in the troubled Sahel experienced “logistical problems” but they are not “insurmountable”, according to the military’s first appraisal of the operation. The G5 Sahel force – an initiative comprising Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – last week began its first operation, dubbed Hawbi, with French military support. “It’s the first mission. We have lots of lessons to learn, but I don’t think it is insurmountable,” said Mahamadou Mounkaila, a Nigerien colonel, from a command post in the Niger capital, Niamey. Construction work is still underway, but the complex is already the strategic and logistical hub of the new multinational force. It has an unprecedented mandate to operate across borders in this vast region. AFP

French Envoys Meet Mali Govt over Raid Deaths
France has sent high-level representatives to talk to the Malian government after a French anti-terror raid killed Malian troops held by the jihadists. Defence Minister Tiena Coulibaly met on October 31 with the French ambassador and the commander of France’s military force in Mali, according to a ministry communique received by AFP on Monday. They discussed a night-time operation on October 23-24 “in which Malian troops, held by the terrorists, were killed,” it said. On October 26, French military headquarters announced that 15 jihadists had been killed. AFP

Tanzanian Police Raid Opposition Party Offices
Tanzanian police carried out a raid on Tuesday night on the headquarters of an opposition party which recently criticised the state of the economy under President John Magufuli. “The police have just ended a raid on the headquarters of the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) Wazalendo,” read a statement from the party. The party, whose leader Zitto Kabwe is fiercely critical of the government and has been arrested three times since main opposition chief Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party was shot and wounded in September, said police had seized a laptop, a flashdrive and a recent press statement. The statement, issued on October 12, had criticised “the bad state of the economy, the deterioration of security and the narrowing of the democratic environment.” AFP

Morocco Launches First Spy Satellite, Gets Strategic Boost
Morocco has launched its first observation satellite, to be used for military activities, surveillance of its borders and coastline and monitoring desertification in the region. The Mohammed VI-A satellite was launched Wednesday from Kourou, French Guiana, in the presence of prominent Moroccan figures. It will be piloted from an operating center near the capital, Rabat. The launch service provider Arianespace says that it will be used for mapping activities, spatial planning, monitoring of agricultural activities, prevention and management of natural disasters and monitoring of environmental developments. The satellite was built by Airbus Defense & Space and Thales Alenia Space. A second launch is planned for 2018. The project’s cost has not been disclosed. The launch has reportedly raised concern in rival neighbor Algeria, and in Spain. AP

Trade, Politics, Religion Draw Turkey to Sub-Saharan Africa
With more than three dozen embassies and billions of dollars in trade, Turkey has quietly built strong ties across Africa over the past decade. In September, the opening of a base in Somalia expanded that presence to include military power. Turkey already had a long history of engagement with north African countries, said David Shinn, an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. In 2016, Turkey conducted more than $10 billion in trade with Egypt, Algeria and Morocco. What’s new is the country’s expansion into sub-Saharan Africa. Turkish Airlines now flies to more than 50 cities across the continent, and construction firm Yapi Merkezi is building a multibillion-dollar railway line across Ethiopia and Tanzania. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones