Africa Media Review for October 24, 2018

Burkina Faso’s Neighbours Brace as Violence Spreads
No one was killed when gunmen on motorcycles stormed a police station in Burkina Faso’s restless north last week – but only because the outnumbered officers quickly fled the scene, allowing an unknown number of detained terror suspects to escape. The attack in the heart of Djibo on Thursday night came just hours after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrived in the capital Ouagadougou, his second visit this year to address deteriorating security in the country since a deadly assault on the French embassy last March. French officials say the raid was a “catastrophe”, signalling a growing boldness of jihadist fighters in the north of the former French colony, while also broadcasting the government’s apparent inability to protect its citizens. “Clearly Burkina Faso is now the main worry” among the G5 Sahel nations trying to fend off jihadism and lawlessness in five nations on the Sahara’s southern rim since 2015, a top French diplomatic source said, warning of a “very long” anti-terrorist fight.  AFP

Officials: Deputy Chief of IS-Linked Group in Somalia Killed
Somali intelligence officials say the deputy leader of an Islamic State-affiliated extremist group based in northern Somalia has been killed in the capital. The officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters told The Associated Press that Mahad Moalim’s body was found near a Mogadishu beach last week, a few days after he reportedly was abducted while secretly visiting the city. The officials said his relatives have accused other deputies in the extremist group. Reports have emerged that the group’s leader was ill, creating rivalry among possible successors. The United States in February sanctioned Moalim as a “specially designated global terrorist,” saying he was responsible for facilitating shipments of weapons and fighters across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen. VOA

UN Envoy Says Armed Groups in CAR Will Start Disarming Soon
The UN envoy for Central African Republic says half a dozen armed groups are participating in a national programme and the government will begin disarming some groups in the west by the end of the year. This was part of an upbeat report on Tuesday to the Security Council by Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, who said “a very important” new African peace initiative has been launched to try to bring peace to the impoverished and troubled country. Central African Republic has seen deadly interreligious and intercommunal fighting since 2013, when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power in the capital and mainly Christian anti-Balaka militias fought back. Onanga-Anyanga says the current situation remains “unpredictable and precarious” but he believes the foundations that have been laid “can help bring about sustainable peace” to the country.  AP

Mali: New Political Coalition
The Convergence of Patriotic Forces is a new political formation in Mali formed on October 28. It is a coalition of about four political parties, that is, the Party for solidarity and African integration, Yelema, the Convergence for Mali development and the Platform for change. Members of the four opposition parties forged the new alliance to protest any postponement of the country’s upcoming parliamentary elections, initially due for November and December 2018. According to them, the move is anti-constitutional.  Africa News

Machar to Attend South Sudan Peace Celebration in Juba: SPLM-IO
The leader of South Sudan’s main opposition group (SPLM-IO) Riek Machar will take part in the national peace celebration the government plan to hold in Juba Tuesday 30 October. The announcement was made in Khartoum on Tuesday. following a meeting between Machar and the members of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) who came to brief him about the progress, they achieve in their meetings. “Machar announced his participation in the national celebration on 30 October pointing that the Revitalized Peace Agreement is the last chance for the political leaders to assume their national role to prevent the collapse of the country,” told Sudan Tribune Manawa Peter Gatkuoth SPLM-IO Deputy Chairperson of the National Committee for Information and Public Relations. According to Manawa, Machar through his decision to take part in the celebration wants to send a reassuring message to South Sudanese about his commitment to the revitalized agreement and to contribute to creating a suitable atmosphere for the implementation of the peace pact. Sudan Tribune

IGAD Military Leaders Decide to Assess South Sudan’s Security Situation
In a meeting convened in Khartoum on Monday, the IGAD chiefs of staff discussed the deployment of the IGAG forces in South Sudan and decided to assess the needs on the ground before to take further steps. In line with the outcome of the IGAD Summit of 12 September 2018 Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda will deploy troops within the framework of the 4,000-troop Regional Protection Force (RPF) that the Security Council decided to deploy in South Sudan in support of the 13,000 UNMISS force. The meeting of the IGAD military leaders was attended by the chiefs of staff of Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, in addition to the Rwandan army chief of staff as his country is chairing the current session of the African Union. Also, the Sudanese Defence minister addressed the one-day meeting. A statement released after the meeting said the participants discussed the expansion of the regional force and assessed the status and duties of Regional Protection Force in light of the situation in South Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Mobs Loot, Burn Nigerian Shops in South Africa
Angry mobs have burnt and looted several shops owned by Nigerian nationals in Johannesburg’s neighborhood of Hillbrow. Habib Miller, publicity secretary of the Nigerian Union in South Africa, said Monday nine shops belonging to his countrymen had been looted and burnt. “Before the violence began, residents held a meeting accusing foreign nationals of selling and hiding drugs in their shops,” said resident Moses Mazibuko, outside a burnt shop. He said during the meeting residents agreed they should attack Nigerian businesses in the area in a bid to get rid of drugs. “They began the violence on Sunday and continued until Monday,” Mazibuko said. Police spokesman Capt. Mavela Masondo confirmed that some foreign owned shops had been burnt in the area. “No arrest has been made yet but police investigations continue,” he told Anadolu Agency in a text message. Anadolu Agency

South Africa’s Second Party Is Playing a Populist Immigration Card
As elsewhere in the world, migration is increasingly at the centre of South Africa’s public and political debate. For the first time, the country’s official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has released a document outlining its “immigration plan” for the country. In advance of next year’s national election, this is the first of many policy documents intended to distinguish the party and win voter support. In a country where many citizens are uncomfortable with current migration patterns, this is an important, if contentious, move. This pandering to populism signals heightening competition in South Africa’s electoral politics. The party is smelling electoral blood, most importantly the possibility of winning Gauteng, the country’s most populous province and its economic hub, in next year’s elections. In the 2016 municipal elections, the party made significant gains against the long dominant African National Congress (ANC).  Quartz

In Africa, Praise for Saudi Arabia Reveals Diplomatic Dance
As shocking details in the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi approached a crescendo, the war-torn nation of South Sudan this week issued a rare foreign ministry statement. It praised the Saudi position to defuse the crisis as “honorable” and assured the kingdom of its commitment to strong relations. Impoverished South Sudan isn’t the only African nation to support the Saudis at a time when much of the world is shying away. Whether pressured to speak up after receiving assistance or making a diplomatic play for more, a few countries have bucked the global trend while others appear to waver in the face of billions of dollars in Saudi funding. Their statements reveal the balancing act many African countries, notably in the Horn of Africa, are making these days as more of the world’s powers see the continent as a strategic investment. On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister sat next to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, exchanging a warm handshake, during the Saudi investment forum that many have shunned over the Khashoggi affair.  AP

France Offers to Provide Libya with Logistical Support
French Ambassador to Libya Beatrice Le Fraper du Hellen has voiced her country’s readiness to provide the troubled North African country with security and logistical support, according to Libya’s Tripoli-based Interior Ministry. At a Tuesday meeting with Interior Minister Fatih Ali Bashagha (held at the ministry’s Tripoli headquarters), Du Hellen extended an offer of French logistical support, especially in the fields of border security and surveillance, the ministry said in a statement carried on its official Facebook page. According to the same statement, Du Hellen also voiced France’s desire to enhance the two countries’ bilateral ties, particularly in terms of security. Bashagha, for his part, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting, describing it as “the beginning of real security cooperation, especially in terms of upgrading the efficiency of Libyan police and security personnel”. Anadolu Agency

Ethiopian Migrants Die Off Tanzania Coast Trying to Sail to S.Africa: Police
Seven Ethiopian migrants drowned after a boat carrying 13 people capsized off the coast of Tanzania while en route to South Africa, Tanzanian police said on Tuesday. Tanga Regional Police Commander Edward Bukombe said the boat went down early on Monday off East Africa’s Indian Ocean near Tanzania’s maritime border with Kenya. “Of the people onboard, 12 were Ethiopians and another person, who was the boat captain, (his) nationality has not been identified because he is still missing. Seven people died in the accident and five have been rescued,” Bukombe told Reuters. He said they were still searching for the missing person. Bukombe said Tanzania’s immigration service was in touch with the Ethiopian Embassy to arrange proper burial arrangements for the dead and decide on how to deal with those rescued at sea. “After questioning the survivors told us that they were going to South Africa,” he said. Reuters

UN: over 45,000 Migrants Reached Spain This Year
The U.N. migration agency says that so far this year Spain has received more migrants via the Mediterranean Sea than it did in the previous three years combined. The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration reported Tuesday that 45,145 men, women and children entered Spain through the western Mediterranean route through Oct. 21. That was almost half of the more than 94,000 migrants who have this year entered Europe by sea from North Africa and came amid a migrant crackdown by countries in the eastern Mediterranean. The U.N. agency says total arrivals are significantly down on recent years, with almost 147,000 recorded by this point last year and just over 324,000 in 2016. The Mediterranean continues to be a deadly route for migrants trying to enter Europe illegally, with 1,857 deaths reported so far this year.  AP

EU Begins Tricky Negotiations with Developing States
At first glance, everything seems very simple. The European Union (EU) and the 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries which make up the so-called ACP are used to negotiating contracts with one another. They reached their very first agreement over 40 years ago. The current Cotonou Agreement, which was signed in 2000, regulates relations between the two groups of states, but it is set to expire in 2020. Negotiations for a new treaty have been underway since the end of September. “But these are not self-fulfilling,” warns Evita Schmieg from Germany’s German Institute for International and Security Affairs SWP). This is mainly because there is a lot at stake for both sides. The Cotonou Agreement affects more than 100 countries and over 1.5 billion people worldwide. It covers three important areas: political relations, trade issues and development cooperation. Under the new agreement, these should stay the same. On closer inspection, however, there are also a number of differences to take into account for both sides. Deutsche Welle

UN Wants Nigeria to Protect Civilians Better after 90 Die in Attacks
The United Nations is concerned about rising sectarian violence in parts of northern Nigeria, its resident coordinator in the West African country said, citing attacks in the past week in which more than 90 people were killed. The incidents include clashes between rival communities near the northern city of Kaduna in which at least 50 people were killed and an attack by Boko Haram Islamist militants on civilians in the country’s northeast that left about 40 people dead, UN resident coordinator Edward Kallon said Tuesday in an emailed statement.  Bloomberg

Kenya, Uganda Make Laws to End Harassment of Fishermen
Ugandan has promised to end harassment against Kenyan fishermen in Lake Victoria should they abide by maritime laws. The Ugandan government said Kenyan fishermen normally bend laws governing fishing activities in Lake Victoria which has led to consistent arrests and detention. The Uganda’s Special Presidential Advisor in the Office President Yoweri Museveni, Mohammed Mayanja said they are committed to protect all fishermen operating in the lake. He told fishermen who will be harassed by security officers from his country to report the cases to the relevant authorities. Mayanja disclosed that they had given the security detail in Kenya and Uganda emergency alert numbers through which they can respond promptly to distress calls from fishermen. The Star

Madagascar’s Prison Shame
The concrete floor of a prison cell crawls with bodies as detainees labour to draw their limbs closer to their torsos. The little light illuminating this daily custom, an exercise in preventing unwanted contact, enters through two small windows with bars on them. This scene, captured on film at a Manakara prison, shows the conditions in which many of Madagascar’s prisoners are forced to live — even if they have never been convicted of a crime. As of October last year, 55% of Madagascar’s total prison population — around 11 000 people — had yet to stand trial. The details of this island’s peculiar crisis are contained in a new Amnesty International report, titled ‘Punished for Being Poor’. The report, which scrutinises the conditions at nine different prisons in Madagascar, seeks to reveal how “economically and otherwise disadvantaged people … are subjected to unjustified, excessive and lengthy pre-trial detentions”.  Mail and Guardian

How Kenya Plans to Gain from Direct Flights to US
The government will roll out a programme to market agriculture produce as part of an initiative to make the most from the maiden Kenya Airways (KQ) flight to the United States. In the plan being spearheaded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Brand Kenya and Java House Africa, ‘made in Kenya’ giveaway hampers comprising coffee, tea, leather passport wallets among other things will be distributed to passengers on the direct flight. However, this is subject to agreement by KQ management. At the same time, commercials showcasing Kenyan’s tea and coffee will be aired in local and global media encouraging buyers to purchase Kenyan products. Already video infomercials focusing on tea and coffee in Bomet and Kirinyaga Counties have been prepared. These infomercials positioning Kenya’s tea and coffee on the world map will also be broadcast on one of the world’s most watched international channel CNN.  Daily Nation

Vandalism, Neglect Haunt Libya’s Ancient Heritage Sites
Graffiti covers the ruins of Cyrene in eastern Libya, a city founded by Greeks more than 2,600 years ago that once attracted tourists but is now neglected and the target of vandals. Insecurity and looting has hit Libya’s archaeological sites in the chaos and fighting that has followed the overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi in 2011, as rival groups struggle to consolidate control of the country. Libya is home to five of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, listed for their outstanding universal value. The sites include the ruins of the Roman city of Leptis Magna and Sabratha, which is famous for its amphitheater. There are also prehistoric rock carvings in the Akakous mountains deep in the southern Sahara desert near the border with Algeria. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones