Africa Media Review for October 5, 2017

US, Nigerien Troops Killed in Ambush on Patrol in Niger
Five soldiers from Niger and three U.S. Army Special Forces troops were killed and two wounded in an ambush on a joint patrol in southwest Niger on Wednesday, according to Nigerien and U.S. officials. The five Green Berets were attacked while on a routine patrol in an area known to have a presence of insurgents, including from al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Islamic State, a U.S. official told Reuters. It was unclear who fired on the U.S. and U.S.-backed forces, the official said. Those forces were not patrolling the area with any specific objective, such as a high-value target or rescuing a hostage, the official added. A spokesman for U.S. Africa Command confirmed the attack after Radio France International (RFI) reported a lethal ambush near the Niger/Mali border. VOA

Islamic State Claims Attack on Misrata; 4 Dead, 40 Wounded
Gunmen killed at least four people and wounded nearly 40 Wednesday in a suicide attack on a court complex in the Libyan city of Misrata, officials and a witness said. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement run by the group’s Amaq news agency it had targeted “one of the most prominent strongholds” of Libya’s U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). The attack shows the enduring militant threat in Libya after a Misrata-led coalition under nominal GNA command battled for more than six months last year to oust Islamic State from its former stronghold in Sirte, about 230 kilometers (140 miles) southeast of Misrata. VOA

Sudan, Chad Concerned over Presence of Rebel Groups in Libya: Spy-Chief
Khartoum and Ndjamena are concerned about the return of Sudanese and Chadian rebel groups who are fighting alongside the warring parties in Libya, said Chad’s director of intelligence, Ahmed Kogri. He described these rebels as “mercenaries”, saying their return would have negative security implications on both countries. In an interview with the Khartoum-based Al-Sudani newspaper Wednesday, Kogri said the rebel groups are currently present in the southern part of Libya, pointing out that they serve as mercenaries for the various Libyan warring parties. He added that Sudan and Chad attach great importance to the return of these groups and its adverse impact on the security situation in both countries. Sudan Tribune

The Horror in Sirte Is No Joke – Hundreds of Libyan Troops Gave Their Lives to Battle Isil There
Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has come under fire for saying Libya could become a magnet for tourists and investors – if it can “clear the dead bodies away” first. “They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai,” he told Conservatives attending the party’s annual conference in Manchester, talking up its “bone-white sands, beautiful sea” and “brilliant young people”. “The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away,” he added, before laughing. His comments on the city, which has only very recently been cleared of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), have been described as “crass” and “flippant”. The Telegraph

War-Torn South Sudan Sees River Route Boosting Trade With Sudan
South Sudan said it’s in talks with Sudan to restart river transport and boost trade between the two former foes, potentially easing the war-torn country’s economic crisis. South Sudan is keen to revitalize a trade agreement the nations made in 2012, the year before its civil war began, Minister of Trade and Industry Moses Hassan Tiel told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Juba. The secretary-general of the chamber of commerce, Simon Akuei Deng, said river transport could bring in exports that would end high prices in South Sudan, where inflation was 155 percent in July. “It’s mutually beneficial to both countries,” Deng said in an interview. “We believe that the market will be flooded immediately once the river transport works — the market will have no problem with all drinks and food.” South Sudan could export timber, sorghum, gum Arabic, precious stones and animals, he said. Bloomberg

US Expected to End Sanctions on Sudan
US president Donald Trump is expected to revoke longstanding sanctions on Sudan ahead of an October 12 deadline after the north African country ended ties with North Korea, according to people briefed on the matter. The Trump administration had delayed a decision in July over whether to lift sanctions permanently on Sudan amid a dearth of Africa appointments in key US departments and fears of a public backlash over going soft on the country, whose president is accused of genocide.  But senior officials from Sudan and the US have ironed out their differences in a series of bilateral meetings, including over cutting support for North Korea, according to three people briefed on the matter.  The state department’s expected recommendation to permanently remove sanctions is opposed by various human rights groups, whose efforts to unite against the move may cause the administration to bring the decision forward. “We expect good news,” Ibrahim Ghandour, Sudan foreign minister, told the Financial Times. Financial Times

Kenya Election Re-Run Puts Further Damper on Economy
[…] The court’s surprise ruling was the first of its kind in Africa and restored many Kenyans’ faith in the independence of the judiciary. “We are more confident, hopeful and somewhat relieved in the thought that future elections will not carry the [same] burden of uncertainty and the unknown,” Mr Mediratta says. However, Kenya’s economy, until recently one of the fastest growing in sub-Saharan Africa, has caught a political cold.  With a few exceptions, such as tourism and horticulture, the uncertainty ahead of the re-run is damaging what was already a tough year because of drought and a government imposed cap on lending rates. Financial Times

600,000 Displaced from Central African Republic
Renewed violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) has led the displacement of over half-a-million people, with thousands fleeing to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, Doctors Without Borders said in a statement on Tuesday. ”The violence has led to over 600,000 people being internally displaced nationwide. It has also forced 60,000 people to cross into Democratic Republic of Congo since the end of April 2017,’’ said a statement from the humanitarian NGO. It said that people are seeking refuge in hospitals, churches and mosques, with others hiding in the bush for long periods of time. The group decried the direct consequences of violence on the health of civilian populations as well as children suffering from malaria who are unable to reach medical facilities. Anadolu Agency

Rape a War Tactic in Central African Republic, Says Group
Young girls and teens raped by Christian militia members. Mothers raped in front of their children by Muslim fighters. Women forced into sexual slavery by armed groups. Rape and sexual slavery have been used as weapons of war by armed groups in Central African Republic for more than four years, with some of the attacks ordered or committed by commanders, Human Rights Watch said in a report Thursday. More than 300 cases of rape and sexual slavery have been documented as carried out by members of armed groups in Central African Republic between early 2013 and mid-2017, the rights group said in their report. The sexual violence has come from members of the two main armed groups — the mostly Muslim ex-Seleka rebels and Christian anti-Balaka militia, said the report.  AP

Tanzanian President Discloses Salary, One of Lowest among African Leaders
Tanzanian President John Magufuli has revealed he earns a salary of 9 million Tanzanian shillings ($4,000) per month, making him one of the lowest paid African leaders as he pursues a much-criticised policy of deep public spending cuts. In a speech to local officials in the capital on Tuesday he also said his government had slashed salaries of executives at state-owned companies at 15 million Tanzanian shillings ($6,700) a month — more than his own. “They can leave if they don’t want it,” he said. He said abuse of public funds was “rampant” at state firms and that he had rejected requests from some local officials to more than double their allowances, saying he could not do so while many citizens lack access to water, health care and electricity. Reuters

Main Ethnic Group in Nigeria’s Delta Oil Hub Criticises Army Exercise
A military exercise in Nigeria’s restive southern Niger Delta oil production hub is unnecessary and the government should focus on economic development, an organisation representing the region’s largest ethnic group said on Wednesday. The Nigerian army on Monday said it would carry out a training exercise from Oct. 7 to Oct. 28 in the region, where attacks on oil installations last year cut the OPEC member’s crude production by around a third. A military deployment in the Delta last year saw communities accuse troops of intimidating locals in raids aimed at capturing militants who said they wanted a greater share of energy wealth to go to the region. Crude sales make up two-thirds of government revenue. The youth council of the Ijaw ethnic group said in an emailed statement that it “disagrees” that troops would be in the area for a “routine military training exercise”. Reuters

Nigerian Minister Questions $24 Billion Oil Deals
Nigeria’s oil minister sent a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari listing at least $24 billion of contracts involving the state oil company that he said were never discussed with him or the firm’s board, a copy of the document seen by Bloomberg shows. Bloomberg

Law to Let Museveni Extend Rule Brought to Ugandan Parliament
A law amending Uganda’s constitution to allow ageing leader Yoweri Museveni to extend his rule was introduced in parliament on Tuesday, at a session where nearly all its opponents were either barred or stayed away in protest. Museveni, 73, has ruled Uganda since 1986. He is as yet ineligible to seek re-election in the next polls in 2021 because the existing constitution places an age ceiling of 75 on anyone aspiring to the presidency. The bill brought to parliament would remove the age hurdle. Parliament spokesman Chris Obore said the bill was read and then referred to a parliamentary committee. “The committee will scrutinise it, hold public hearings and make a report on it … then it will be returned to the House,” he said. Reuters

Rwanda Charges Kagame Critic Diane Rwigara with Inciting Insurrection
Rwandan authorities have charged a critic of President Paul Kagame with inciting insurrection and forgery after she was barred from challenging him in August elections, the public prosecutor’s spokesman said on Wednesday. Diane Shima Rwigara, a 35-year-old accountant, has repeatedly accused Kagame of stifling dissent and criticised his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s near total hold on power since it fought its way to power to end a genocide in 1994. Kagame won the August election with 98.8 percent of the vote. France 24

European Court Says Spain’s Expulsion of Sub-Saharan Migrants to Morocco is Illegal
On August 13, 2014, Spain witnessed a surge of sub-Saharan immigrants into its borders. Around 600 migrants attempted to cross into the North African enclave of Melilla, with none succeeding. Among them were two, identified as N.D. and N.T. Their story led the European Court of Human Rights to bring action against Spain in court. Originally from Mali, N.D., 31, arrived to Morocco in March 2013 and resided for about nine months in the makeshift camp on Gurugu Mountain, near the border crossing into Melilla. N.T., 30, came to Morocco from the Ivory Coast at the end of 2012, staying in the same camp. August 13, 2014 saw good weather conditions, prompting 600 sub-Saharan migrants to test their chances at the border. N.D. and N.T. left the camp and attempted to enter Spain with a group of sub-Saharan migrants through the Melilla crossing. Morocco World News

Europe Slams Its Gates: Imperiling Africa — and Its Own Soul
An unprecedented wave of African migration is warping Europe’s politics and threatening its stability. Can the Continent respond without destroying its values and wreaking havoc in Africa? FP’s special investigation examines Europe’s desperate campaign to barricade itself — and the policies’ unintended consequences. […] With one sea route closed, another — from North Africa across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy — quickly expanded, with a record 181,000 people taking it last year. And that number is sure to keep growing: Sub-Saharan Africa currently has one of the highest birthrates in the world, and, according to one recent study, almost 800 million working-age people there — more than the current population of Europe — will enter the labor force between now and 2050. Few of them will find decent jobs; many won’t find work at all. Foreign Policy

Mauritius’ President Brings Lessons from Science, Business to Her Office
President Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius is part of an exclusive club of women leading African nations. The club has just three members: Gurib-Fakim, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Namibian Prime Minister Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila. When Sirleaf leaves office in January, Gurib-Fakim will be the only remaining female head of state on the continent. “I am an endangered species,” she joked to VOA on Sunday in Washington. Gurib-Fakim has been president of the island nation of 1.2 million, situated east of Madagascar, since being elected by the National Assembly in 2015. She said the need for more female leadership goes beyond just numbers. It’s a matter of capitalizing on the talent of the entire population instead of just half of it. VOA

Morocco Seizes 2.5 Tons of Cocaine in 3-City Drug Bust
Moroccan authorities say they seized a staggering 2.5 tons of raw cocaine and arrested 13 people in a three-city operation. Morocco’s Central Bureau for Judicial Investigation announced Wednesday that the drugs were seized in the Atlantic coastal towns of Skhirat and Bouznika and the Mediterranean town of Nador. Police also seized cars, rifles and $480,000 in cash. The suspects include people with joint Moroccan-Dutch and Moroccan-Spanish citizenship. Two people considered the brains of the network are also in custody from a previous arrest. Bureau director Abdelhak Khiame said the cocaine had come in batches since 2013 from Mexico and Venezuela, and was destined for sale in Morocco and beyond. AP



Photo: Adam Jones