Africa Media Review for October 30, 2018

South Sudan Rebel Leader Machar to Return on Wednesday
A spokesperson says South Sudan armed opposition leader Riek Machar is coming home on Wednesday under the country’s latest peace deal, more than two years after he fled on foot into exile. Lam Paul Gabriel tells The Associated Press that Machar is returning to take part in a nationwide peace celebration, leading a small delegation but not bringing his own security despite concerns for his safety. The spokesperson says that “if this peace has to be implemented we need to trust each other”. Under the peace deal signed last month, Machar will be President Salva Kiir’s deputy once again. That arrangement has twice collapsed in deadly fighting. South Sudan’s five-year civil war has killed almost 400 000 people with violence and disease, according to a recent estimate.  AP

Regional Leaders to Hold Mini-Summit in Juba: Opposition
Regional leaders are set to hold talks on new ceasefire violations and confidence-building measures in Juba on the sideline of the peace celebration on Wednesday, a senior opposition official said. Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, a deputy spokesman for the SPLM-IO, told Radio Tamazuj on Monday that the regional leaders will take part in talks on key areas of confidence-building and new violations of the signed ceasefire deal. “We expect the IGAD leaders who will be attending the celebration to discuss the challenges facing the peace agreement now. We hope that the president will take decisions on those issues,” his said. Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan Violence Blocking Food Aid, Says U.N.’s WFP
Violence in South Sudan is blocking deliveries of food aid needed to stave off severe hunger in some areas, the World Food Programme said, adding to evidence that a peace deal signed last month is not holding. The deal signed last month is meant to end a war that began in 2013 and has, according to a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study, killed nearly 400,000. It commits the warring parties — forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel groups fighting them — to power-sharing. Analysts and aid groups say it is unclear how the structure will work. Fighting was continuing in the Western Bahr el Ghazal and Central Equatoria regions, said WFP. Nationwide “tens of thousands of people (are) in need,” the group’s Country Director Adnan Khan told Reuters by e-mail. Reuters

Central Tunis Hit by Suicide Bomb Blast
A suicide bombing has rocked the main avenue in central Tunis, injuring at least nine people. The powerful explosion, detonated by a 30-year-old female bomber, targeted a group of police officers on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in the Tunisian capital. According to the Tunisian interior ministry and eyewitness reports, the attack took place just before 2pm when the woman approached a group of officers and set off her device. An interior ministry spokesman said all but one of the casualties were police. Some local media reports said the attacker detonated explosives she was carrying close to a police vehicle. Video and photos on social media showed smoke rising above buildings on the avenue and police and emergency services attending to the wounded. Pictures also showed a body lying on the pavement, believed to be that of the bomber.  The Guardian

Gabon Leader Has Stroke, Sources Say, Govt Says It’s Fatigue
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo was hospitalised last week in Saudi Arabia after suffering a stroke, two sources told Reuters, while Gabonese authorities said he was admitted only because of fatigue. Bongo on Monday was still under observation at the King Faisal hospital in Riyadh where he was taken on Oct. 24. A medical and a diplomatic source both told Reuters that the president suffered a stroke. Government spokesman Ike Ngouoni denied this and said that Bongo instead had “severe fatigue” after months of strenuous work. The president was in Saudi Arabia to attend the Future Investment Initiative conference where he was scheduled to speak alongside other African leaders.  Reuters

Cameroon’s Opposition Moves to Safe, Holy Ground for Anti-Biya Protests
Security forces in Cameroon have been cracking down on street rallies protesting the October 7 re-election of President Paul Biya. To avoid beatings and arrest, protesters have taken their message to safer, even holy grounds such as schools and churches. Opposition protesters sang on Monday in front of the University of Yaounde in the capital of Cameroon. The lyrics say that opposition leader Maurice Kamto won the October 7 presidential election and that longtime President Paul Biya should hand over power. A massive deployment of police stopped the protesters from singing on the campus itself. Twenty-six-year-old teacher Boniface Onana says they will continue demonstrating against Biya’s re-election.  VOA

EU Extends Sanctions on Burundi Officials
The European Union this week renewed sanctions against Burundi until October 2019 citing lack of meaningful progress in resolving the political stalemate. The measures consist of travel ban and asset freeze against four top Burundian officials whose activities are deemed to be undermining democracy and obstructing the search for a peaceful political solution in Burundi. “These activities include acts of violence, repression or incitement to violence and acts which constitute serious human rights violations,” the EU statement read. The EU stressed the need for dialogue to bring a lasting political solution for all Burundians in compliance with the 2000 Arusha Agreement that ended the civil war and the Burundi Constitution.  The East African

Al-Shabab’s Former No. 2 Leader Runs for Office in Somalia
The normal-looking campaign rally in Somalia’s capital this month was anything but. Dozens of people in T-shirts bearing the smiling candidate’s image and “Security and Justice” were praising the former No. 2 leader of Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group, the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, who until recently was the target of a $5 million U.S. reward. Stunned, Somalia’s federal government is in an awkward spot. If Mukhtar Robow’s campaign for a regional presidency goes forward, observers say the man who once praised Osama bin Laden and tried to impose an Islamic state has a good chance at winning next month’s election. Ever since surprising Somalis by defecting to a delighted government last year, the former al-Shabab spokesman and founding father has not been shy. Robow openly discussed his break with hardliners that led him to quit the extremist group — “I disagreed with their creed, which does not serve Islamic religion,” he said — and the threats that pushed him to defect after years of living in the safety of his clan. AP

Somaliland Challenges Djibouti’s Oil Conduit Plans
Somaliland, which unilaterally declared independence from war-ravaged Somalia in 1991, a move not recognised by a single country – has requested that Ethiopia reroute its nascent oil and gas exports via a proposed new pipeline, challenging Djibouti’s long-held plans for a conduit. The move follows a bid by Ethiopia to begin exploiting an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and test-drilling for oil in its restive east, the Horn Diplomat media house has reported. Somaliland is attempting to leverage its strategic location near the Red Sea to attract major foreign infrastructure projects as it battles on with its statehood attempts. “Why not send natural gas and crude oil from the Ogaden basin to Somaliland’s coast at Berbera?” Somaliland Minister of Energy and Minerals Jama Mohamoud Igel said in an interview, referring to the region’s main port. Such a pipeline would be more “cost-effective” at only 400 kilometres, rather than the 700 kilometes to Djibouti, he said. African News Agency

Can Angola Overhaul Its Struggling Oil Industry?
It is quite rare for African national oil companies (NOCs) to liberalize, especially in countries that are heavily dependent on oil revenues. Yet Angola, whose stability was sent reeling by the oil price crash of 2015-2016, is making great strides in transforming the national champion Sonangol into a more accountable and competitive business entity. With this, the new presidential administration hopes, the whole of Angola’s oil production would swing back to growth (or at least settle for a lengthy stagnation). The scope is genuinely ambitious – the new government wants to restructure Sonangol, terminate the company’s sole right privileges, sell off some off its assets including several fields, as well as to create a National Oil and Gas Agency, which would take over Sonangol’s regulatory and license-granting competence.  Oil Price

Angola Sink Deeper into Debt
Angola’s is failing to control its foreign and domestic debt which is estimated at nearly $80 billion despite being the second largest oil producing country in Africa and the continent’s third strongest economy. The debt is very high considering that the country has a resources that has been a major contributor to it’s economic revival and potential for growth if properly managed. The huge debt is creating high taxes for future generations With a population of about 30 million, it means every Angolan owes financial institutions US$2,666. Even a child born today in Angola will have a debt burden. Ironically the country has reportedly been seeking loans, especially from China, to pay off part of the debt becoming forever indebted for a longer time by taking this route.  Africa News

Belgium Probes Payments from Frozen Libya Funds: Public TV
Prosecutors are investigating whether Belgian banks paid out interest and dividends on accounts frozen under U.N. sanctions in 2011 as the Libyan state under Muammar Gaddafi collapsed, public broadcaster RTBF said on Monday. Prosecutors, the government and Belgian banks did not comment on the report, which cited an unidentified source. RTBF said that up to 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) could have been disbursed to people controlling Libyan accounts, including militia groups in the country accused of human rights abuses. RTBF said that when the United Nations agreed to freeze deposits held by Gaddafi’s administration abroad, Belgium had done so but had not halted payments of interest and dividends.  Reuters

Libya’s Lawmakers Agree to Reorganize Presidential Council
The High Council of State (HCS) and House of Representatives (HoR) have come to an agreement to reorganize the executive authority in Libya, the HoR’s dialogue committee Head Abdelsalam Nasiyah reported. Nasiyah told reporters on Monday that after a session for the HoR, the members agreed to reorganize the Presidential Council into the proposed “one head and two members as well as a new separate government.” “The HoR members also agreed to give a timeline to the two dialogue committees (ours and HCS’s) to implement the change of the executive authority in the country.” Nasiyah remarked. He also indicated that they agreed to remove the controversial Article 8 of the appendix laws of the Libyan Political Agreement (LPA.)  Libya Observer

French President Backs Ethiopia Leader’s Sweeping Reforms
French President Emmanuel Macron has expressed support for Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ambitious reforms and diplomatic peace efforts. The 42-year-old African leader was on a working visit Monday to France in his first trip to Europe since taking office in April. In a joint declaration, France welcomed “the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.” Both countries pledged to “continue their efforts in order to promote peace and prosperity in the region.” Ethiopia’s new leader “chose a courageous path, we will stand by his side,” Macron said at a news conference. Abiy said he expects Macron to play a key role in peacemaking efforts between Eritrea and Djibouti — Ethiopia’s neighbors which have agreed last month to normalize ties a decade after a border dispute led to brief military clashes.  AP

Clashes in Nigeria between Security Forces and Shia Protesters
Clashes have erupted in Nigeria between security forces and the supporters of an imprisoned Shia cleric marching in the capital, Abuja. The army and police confronted hundreds of members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), the group’s spokesman Ibrahim Musa told AFP news agency on Monday, amid reports of casualties. A witness told Reuters news agency that the military shot at the protesters who were demanding the release of Ibrahim Zakzaky, a pro-Iranian cleric. “The security agents attacked members of the IMN when they were in the procession coming into Abuja,” Musa told AFP.  Al Jazeera

Pirates Seize Eleven Crew from Ship Off Nigeria Coast
Pirates boarded a container ship off the coast of Nigeria, seizing 11 crew including eight from Poland, according the vessel’s management firm and Polish state media. The attackers struck the MV Pomerania Sky, bound for the Nigerian port of Onne, early on Saturday and abducted 11 of the crew, Midocean (IOM) Ltd said in a statement on Sunday. The firm added that nine others remained on board and were unharmed. “Our priority is securing the earliest release of the eleven crew who have been taken and we are working closely with our partners and the local authorities to achieve that,” Midocean said. “The families of those crew members taken are being kept informed of the situation,” said the company. It added the vessel had proceeded to safe waters.  Times Live

Nigeria Heads to Sea in Search of Future for Oil Producers
When it comes to the future of its oil industry, Nigeria is looking miles out to sea. By early next year, the largest offshore production vessel ever delivered to Nigeria will start pumping crude from a deposit deep beneath the seabed, boosting the West African country’s oil output by about 10 percent. The project, viewed as the most ambitious in Nigeria’s history, could help to push production to a record by 2022. The project will help to boost the share of the nation’s production from offshore fields, part of a strategic shift that began at the start of the decade when companies including Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc started looking at higher-cost offshore fields to minimize risks from sabotage, kidnapping and crude theft. Two-thirds of the nation’s production will stem from deep-water deposits by 2022, up from half today, according to Nigeria’s state oil company.  Bloomberg

Illegal Trawlers Threaten Sierra Leone Fishermen’s Jobs
The sea off the coast of West Africa is rich in marine life. But illegal fishing has been threatening stocks and is costing Sierra Leone about $200m a year. Local fishermen say their nets are being destroyed and their catch is dwindling every day.  Al Jazeera

Historic Kenya Airways Direct Flight to U.S. Arrives in New York
Kenya Airways’ inaugural flight to United States has arrived at the John F. Kennedy International Airport after leaving the capital Nairobi on Sunday just before midnight. KQ002 touched down in New York on Monday. The maiden flight has been christened Magical Kenya. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and some government officials were at the Jomo Kenyatta International airport where a flagging off ceremony was held for the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner before it departed. Kenya Airways, KQ, got permission to operate direct flights to the US last September, after several failures due to non-compliance at its airports. Africa News



Photo: Adam Jones