Africa Media Review for October 16, 2018

Ethiopia’s Reformist Leader Inaugurates New Cabinet, Half of the Ministers Women
Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister announced a new cabinet on Tuesday that is half women, in an unprecedented move for the country. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has marked his nearly seven months in office with a string of staggering reforms for this once-authoritarian country, including releasing thousands of political prisoners, making peace with its main enemy and promising to open up the economy. The new cabinet, which slims down the ministerial positions to 20 from 28, has women in the top security posts for the first time in Ethiopia’s history. Aisha Mohammed takes charge of defense and Muferiat Kamil, the former parliamentary speaker, will take over the newly formed Ministry of Peace. In some ways, this could be one of the most important ministries in the government as it overseas the federal police, the intelligence services and the information security agency, and will be taking the lead in tackling much the ethnic unrest that has swept the countryside since Abiy’s reforms.  The Washington Post

Ethiopia Arresting High Ranking Military Officers behind Last Week Anarchy
Military officers who are believed to have incited members of the special forces who marched to the prime minister’s office last Wednesday are in custody, said Ethiopian Defense Force chief of staff General Seare Mekonen as reported state media, Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. However, it is unclear as to how many military officers are arrested and what exactly was the level of involvement in terms of inciting army officers for protest. And there seem to be more officers to be arrested. In a press conference held with local journalists, General Seare pointed out that the manner that some soldiers marched to the palace to raise benefits and other administrative issues was unconstitutional and out of military discipline that does not represent the Ethiopian Defense Force. The Chief of staff added that the soldiers could have presented their demands to concerned body within the chain rather than directly to the Prime Minister (Commander-in-Chief of the army). Borkena.com

US Military Airstrike in Somalia Kills 4 al-Shabab Fighters
The U.S. military says it has conducted an airstrike that killed four al-Shabab extremists after “partner forces came under small arms fire.” The U.S. Africa Command says Sunday’s airstrike was carried out near the community of Araara in Lower Juba region in the south. The statement says no U.S. service members were on the ground during the Somali-led operation and that according to its assessment no civilians were injured or killed in the airstrike. The U.S. military has carried out more than two dozen airstrikes, including drone strikes, this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, the deadliest Islamic extremist group in sub-Saharan Africa. VOA

Death Toll from Twin Suicide Bombings in Southern Somalia Rises to 20
The number of people killed in twin suicide bomb attacks on two restaurants in Somalia’s southern city of Baidoa has risen to 20 and another 40 people were injured, a local hospital official said on Sunday. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up in restaurants in Baidoa in the early evening on Saturday. Islamist militant group al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman for the group said it had targeted the restaurants because they were frequented by government troops. The attacks followed a U.S. air strike on Friday against al Shabaab militants in Haradere, a district in Galmudug region. Al Shabaab wants to topple Somalia’s Western-backed central government and impose its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law.  Reuters

Nigeria: IS-Linked Extremists Kill Abducted Health Worker
Islamic State-linked extremists in Nigeria have killed another abducted health worker despite an urgent plea from the International Committee of the Red Cross to spare her life, Nigeria’s government said late Monday. The government identified her as Hauwa Mohammed Liman, who had been working in a hospital supported by the ICRC. Her death comes a month after a third abducted health worker was killed by the same group, the Islamic State West Africa Province. It has become the largest IS-linked extremist group in Africa. All three were seized in March in the northeastern community of Rann, where thousands have sought shelter from the extremist threat that includes the Nigeria-based Boko Haram insurgency. There was no immediate comment from the ICRC, which on Sunday said “we urge you for mercy” and noted that a 24-hour deadline was counting down. The global aid organization urged Nigerian authorities and others who might have influence to help. AP

Ebola Experts Pulled from Congo amid Ongoing Outbreak
Personnel from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who have been stationed in the Democratic of Congo to help control the ongoing Ebola outbreak have been pulled back from the worst impacted areas due to safety concerns, a US government official familiar with the situation told CNN Monday. “They are not in any hot spots,” the official said. Since this most recent outbreak began on August 1, there have been 211 cases of Ebola, including 135 deaths as of Sunday, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic confirmed. Fifty-five patients have recovered from the illness. He said there has been a recent increase in cases because of “challenges faced by the response team.”  CNN

WHO to Meet on Congo’s Ebola Outbreak as Toll Soars
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday it would convene an emergency committee to decide whether Congo’s Ebola outbreak is a public health emergency of international concern as confirmed cases and deaths from the virus spiraled. The committee of experts may make recommendations to manage the outbreak, which was declared on Aug. 1 and has worsened, with a risk of the virus spreading from northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo into Uganda and Rwanda. Congo’s health ministry said on Monday that in the past week alone 33 people were confirmed with Ebola virus and 24 of them died.  Reuters

SPLM-IO Says Holdout NAS, South Sudan’s Army Attacking Its Positions
South Sudan main armed opposition (SPLM-IO) accused a holdout opposition group and the government army of attacking its positions in Yei River and Wau states raising fears of the resumption of hostilities after the signing of the revitalized agreement on 12 September. During the last three weeks, the parties ceased hostilities in the country after sporadic skirmishes here and there denounced by the South Sudanese leaders who described it as isolated incidents. However, SPLM-IO Deputy Spokesperson Lam Paul Gabriel said in a statement issued Monday the rebel fighters loyal to Gen Thomas Cirilo Swaka killed 17 civilians during two attacks on their positions in Minyori and Logo of Yei River State. “Yesterday the 14/10/2018 the forces of NAS attacked the SPLA IO position in Minyori, Yei River State killing five civilians and injuring several others leading to the displacement of many civilians into Yei town and further into the bushes for safety. They also attacked our base in Logo killing 12 worshippers,” Gabriel said. Sudan Tribune

Germany Deports Accomplice of 9/11 Attacks to Morocco
Germany has deported an accomplice of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States to his home country of Morocco. Mounir al-Motassadeq had spent almost 15 years in prison in Germany before he was deported Monday to Morocco. German media published photographs of Motassadeq wearing a blindfold and being led by two armed policemen to a helicopter. German officials confirmed he was flown out by plane from Frankfurt airport on Monday evening. Motassadeq was convicted of helping Mohamed Atta, the alleged pilot of one of the hijacked 9/11 planes, and other suicide pilots to help plot the attacks on New York and Washington. The suicide pilots were part of an al-Qaida cell based in Hamburg, Germany, where Motassadeq also lived. VOA

Protesters, Soldiers Clash in Comoros over Presidential Term Extension
Protesters barricaded roads with tree trunks, stoned cars and clashed with soldiers in the Indian Ocean island nation of Comoros on Monday in demonstrations against President Azali Assoumani’s bid to extend term limits, officials said. Assoumani’s move to compete in presidential polls in early 2019 has angered people on the archipelago’s Anjouan island as it would deny them taking over the presidency under a system that rotates the post among the country’s three main islands. “These protests are a result of a general sentiment of being fed up with the unfortunate decisions made by President Azali,” said Mohamed Sadate Nadjib, a government official in Anjouan, adding 13 people had been arrested.  Reuters

South Africa: The Unknown Impact of Land Reform
King Goodwill Zwelithini has proposed an unusual partnership in South Africa. The traditional Zulu leader has called on white farmers for help to transform the land of his ancestors into farmland. Zwelithini owns almost three million hectares (7.4 million acres) of land — approximately the same size as Belgium — in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, which he manages as the sole trustee of the Ingonyama Foundation. Above all however, the king’s offer sends a signal to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), which intends to redistribute farmland to black property owners. Zwelithini’s message in a nutshell is “don’t touch my country.” During a speech in Durban, he requested a written statement from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, while urging him not to redistribute his land. Other traditional leaders have also urged the ANC not to undermine their authority. Deutsche Welle

Most Kenyans against Vote on Changing Constitution, Star Reports
About 56 percent of Kenyans are opposed to a proposed referendum on changes to the East Africa nations constitution, according to a survey funded by the local Star newspaper. Some Kenyan politicians including opposition leader Raila Odinga are calling for constitutional revisions to address what they describe as a bloated executive and the governments failure to adequately devolve power. The demands come after Kenyas 2017 disputed election led to months of political uncertainty.  Bloomberg

Kenya Unveils Biblical Strategy to Tackle Corruption
In our series of letters from African journalists, Kenyan Joseph Warungu looks at the new strategy by the country’s anti-corruption body to use the Bible to deter theft of public funds. You know you are in deep trouble when nothing else can save you except prayer. That’s where Kenya is at the moment. The country is sinking into deep debt, much of it the result of widespread mismanagement of public funds. Corruption is eating us up alive, with new scandals emerging day after day. And nothing is sacred, not even the water we need for life. In parts of the capital, Nairobi, criminal cartels with alleged connections to some powerful people at the Nairobi county government are reportedly secretly disconnecting water supplies to whole residential estates. BBC

At Least 26 Drown in Boat Accident in Northwest Mali
Twenty-six people drowned when two boats overturned in a swollen river in northwestern Mali, officials and local residents said. “Two canoes carrying 48 people capsized on Saturday at Arnassey in Bourem Inaly district, in the Timbuktu region,” Transport Minister Soumana Mory Coulibaly said in a statement released overnight Sunday. “This sad accident caused the death of 26 people. Twenty-two bodies have been recovered.” A local resident, Martala Salley, told AFP that the passengers were farmers who had decided to go to their fields by boat as the river had risen from seasonal rain, which made water transport possible. AFP

Senegal Overfishing Leaves an Industry in Crisis
The West African Atlantic coast used to be rich in fish, yet Senegal’s government says the country is suffering a shortage, with the price of fish doubling over the past month. Scientists and environmentalists blame overfishing by local fishermen and European deep sea trawlers.  Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones