Africa Media Review for September 14, 2017

Deaths, Displacement as Battle for CAR Continues
At least 25 people have been killed in a series of clashes between armed groups over one week, in escalating violence in the Central African Republic. The UN said on Tuesday that thousands of people continue to be uprooted and forced to flee for their lives in resurgent fighting between rival factions in various parts of the country. In its weekly report released on Tuesday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that preliminary estimates indicate at least 10 people were killed and 50 others wounded in fighting between rival factions in the central town of Bria between September 7-8. Al Jazeera

Red Cross Halts Aid to Swathe of South Sudan after Staff Member Killed
The Red Cross has halted operations across a third of South Sudan after gunmen shot dead a staff member, in what the U.N. said on Wednesday was the biggest such suspension during the country’s four-year civil war. Kennedy Laki Emmanuel, a driver for the Red Cross, died on Sept. 8 when gunmen fired on a 10-vehicle convoy delivering aid in South Sudan’s restive Western Equatoria state. In response, the International Committee of the Red Cross shut down activities across Equatoria, a region roughly the size of Britain that borders Congo and Uganda and has seen some of the heaviest fighting over the last year. The suspension affected more than 22,000 people about to get aid deliveries from the Red Cross. That included more than 5,000 farmers due to receive seeds in an area teetering on the edge of famine. SABC

US: Region Must Do More to End South Sudan Conflict
African countries should do more to pressure South Sudan’s political leaders, who seem incapable of resolving the country’s four-year civil war, a top U.S. diplomat said Wednesday. “We think there is more our African colleagues can and should be doing at this point, especially in terms of focusing on leadership, that from our point of view is behaving in a way that is very irresponsible,” Tom Shannon, U.S. under-secretary for political affairs at the State Department, told reporters. Shannon, speaking on the sidelines of a U.S-African Partnerships event at the U.S. Institute of Peace, said Washington had grown intolerant of South Sudan’s leaders and the challenge was to work with African countries that are interested in seeing an end to the conflict. VOA

Five Militants, Two Soldiers, Killed in Egypt’s North Sinai
Five militants and two soldiers were killed on Wednesday in clashes that followed a failed attack on a security checkpoint in Egypt’s strife-torn North Sinai province, a military spokesman said. Troops were seeking some of the militants who fled the scene during the clashes, the spokesman said in a statement. “One of the militants, wearing an explosive vest, attempted to raid one of the security checkpoints and due to the vigilance of the security forces the terrorist was killed while the rest of the militants were dealt with,” he said. An Islamist insurgency in North Sinai has gathered pace since mid-2013 when the military ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against his rule and the group leading it pledged allegiance to Islamic State a year later. Reuters

U.S. Says Air Strikes in Somalia Kill Six Al Shabaab Fighters
The U.S. military said on Wednesday it had carried out air strikes in Somalia against an al Qaeda-allied Islamist group and killed six militants. The group, al Shabaab, is fighting to topple Somalia’s Western-backed transitional federal government and impose its own rule on the Horn of Africa country. The U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) said in a statement it had carried out three air strikes on Wednesday at 2:15 a.m. local time (2315 GMT Tuesday). “The operation occurred in southern Somalia, about 260 kilometers (162 miles) south of the capital, Mogadishu,” the statement said. Reuters

Girl Suicide Bomber Kills 5 in Cameroon Mosque
A young girl detonated a suicide bomb in a mosque in northern Cameroon early Wednesday, killing at least five worshippers and wounding others. The girl, about 12, entered the Sanda-Wadjiri mosque in Kolofata after the first call to prayer, said the governor of the Midjiyawa Bakary region, near the Nigerian border. No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but Boko Haram militants have been waging a war to establish an Islamist state in the region that includes Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon. The terrorist organization has also taken to more frequently using women and children as suicide bombers. VOA

Niger, Mali Leaders Seek Funding for New Anti-Jihadist Force
Mali and Niger, two of the West African nations hit hardest by jihadist violence, appealed Wednesday for international funding for a regional force they have set up to counter Islamist insurgencies. Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou said the force assembled by the G5 Sahel bloc — Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad — was crucial to fighting a threat that went well beyond their borders. “We bring this combat against terrorism not only to protect our own people and countries but for the whole world,” Issoufou said at a news conference in Niger’s capital, Niamey. “For terrorism knows no border. It will go to Europe, it will go to the United States,” he said. “The world has to be mobilized.” VOA

Gambia Launches Post-Dictatorship Security Reforms
Gambia’s president on Tuesday launched a reform project meant to transform the small nation’s politicized security sector, after decades of use by its autocratic ruler to suppress his opponents. Adama Barrow said the 18-month reform project, with support from the UN, European Union, and the West African regional bloc ECOWAS, will bring the service sectors up to date with the country’s current democracy. “The security sector has been mainly used to entrench the former regime, and some elements were largely used by the regime to carry out atrocities against the people they were supposed to protect,” he added. Former President Yahya Jammeh ruled Gambia for 22 years until his fall in December 2016, during which he was accused of extra-judicial killings and disappearances using the security apparatus, especially his National Intelligence Agency, to intimidate the population. Anadolu Agency

Riots in Kenya City after Rumor about Alleged Election Fraud
Riots broke out in Kenya’s opposition stronghold of Kisumu city after a rumor spread about alleged efforts to rig next month’s presidential election, a police official said Wednesday. Several people were injured as police engaged youth who blocked roads in the southwestern city and threw stones, Nyanza regional police boss Leonard Katana said. Police used tear gas to disperse them, he said. The Kenya Television Network reported that youth stormed a meeting of women from various religious groups at a local hotel as they discussed how to ensure a peaceful election. The women told KTN that the youth beat them up and stole their phones before police intervened. Kenya will hold a repeat presidential election on Oct. 17 after the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election last month. Opposition leader Raila Odinga went to court claiming electoral fraud. AP

Anger Greets Bid to Scrap Uganda’s Presidential Age Limit
A section of Ugandan lawmakers have reacted angrily to the bid to remove the presidential age limit from the Constitution. The MPs, some allied to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) and Independents, on Wednesday challenged the proposal to scrap Article 102 (b) from the Constitution. An NRM caucus on Tuesday unanimously agreed on the proposal seen as a significant step towards securing a free run for President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election in 2021. President Museveni, 72, is barred by the current Constitution from running again in the 2021 election as he will have surpassed the 75-year mark by the next election. The East African

Tunisia Pardons Thousands with Corrupt Pasts, amid Protest
Tunisia’s Parliament has adopted a hotly disputed law giving amnesty to thousands of people linked to corruption under its former authoritarian regime. Hundreds of demonstrators protested outside the legislature saying they fear a return to Tunisia’s pre-Arab Spring past. After an unusually angry debate and opposition walkout over the measure, it passed by 117 votes to nine in a Wednesday night vote. The full amnesty only concerns those who followed orders from corrupt leaders but did not make personal gains. Those who made money off corrupt dealings can pay back embezzled sums, along with a penalty, in exchange for freedom from prosecution. AP

Togo Bucks the Trend of Political Reform in W Africa
His family has ruled Togo for more than 50 years but President Faure Gnassingbe has in the last week faced unprecedented public pressure to step down. He and his country stand alone in West Africa in resisting calls for constitutional reform, even as parliament begins to look again at the issue. “Togo is the only Ecowas country never to have seen any real democratic change,” said political analyst Gilles Yabi, referring to the West African regional bloc. “The current regime is carrying on the one before it, which was one of the most brutal Africa had ever known,” he told AFP. “Beyond (constitutional) reform, the Togolese people want real change.” AFP

Angola Constitutional Court Validates Last Month’s Election
Angola’s constitutional court has validated last month’s election, calling it free and transparent. The announcement on Wednesday dismisses the challenges filed by a number of opposition groups that had alleged irregularities in the Aug. 23 vote, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reports. The court says it found no irregularities. Angola’s election commission has said the ruling MPLA party won the national election but lost ground to the opposition in the oil-rich but impoverished southern African nation. The MPLA won with 61 percent of the vote, while leading opposition party UNITA had 26 percent. Defense Minister Joao Lourenco is now set to replace President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled for 38 years and is expected to remain head of the ruling party. AP

Mauritius Attorney General Quits over Money-Laundering Probe
Mauritian Attorney General Ravi Yerrigadoo stepped down to allow an investigation into allegations of money laundering, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth said. Yerrigadoo quit at Jugnauth’s request to “ensure the investigation is conducted in a transparent manner,” the premier told reporters Wednesday in the capital, Port Louis. Le Defi, a Port Louis-based newspaper, reported that an affidavit was submitted to Mauritius’s Supreme Court on Tuesday alleging that Yerrigadoo helped set up a financial structure to enable the transfer of gambling winnings to bank accounts in Dubai and Switzerland. The allegations are “false and far-fetched,” Yerrigadoo told reporters at a briefing in Port Louis. “I have nothing to hide and my conscience is clear.” Bloomberg

Ramaphosa Has Edge in South Africa Leadership Race, Analysts Say
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has an edge in the race to become the next leader of the ruling African National Congress, according to a survey of analysts. Sixteen of 26 analysts canvassed by Bloomberg named Ramaphosa as the front-runner to take over the helm of the party from President Jacob Zuma at its national conference in December, while five expect Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and the president’s ex-wife, to win. One put Jeff Radebe, a minister in the presidency, ahead and four said it was too soon or impossible to select a likely winner. The survey, conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday, gauged the views of political science professors and lecturers from eight South African universities, country risk advisers and research-group analysts. Bloomberg

UN Probes Uganda, Tanzania over Deals with North Korea
Tanzania and Uganda are among several African countries being investigated by the United Nations for violating sanctions imposed on North Korea. A report on the investigations was released by United Nations panel of experts dated September 9. The report was issued two days prior to the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of a tough new round of sanctions aimed at coercing North Korea into negotiations on its nuclear arsenal. The eight-member panel said it is assessing information from an unnamed UN member-state indicating that Tanzania has entered into military-related contracts with a North Korean corporation valued at about $12.5 million. Daily Nation

Africa: Obama’s ‘Power Africa’ Program to Continue
President Barack Obama’s initiative aimed at doubling access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 is set to continue under the Trump administration, says the official responsible for the program. Addressing a media briefing from Pretoria on Tuesday, Andrew M. Herscowitz, the U.S. government’s coordinator for the program – known as “Power Africa” – said many in the current administration are “particularly intrigued” because of how the program harnesses private sector funds to advance development goals. The private sector invests between 50 and 100 dollars in projects for every one dollar of government money, Herscowitz said. “So this is a model that many in the administration really like and want to see continue.” allAfrica

Chocolate Industry Drives Rainforest Disaster in Ivory Coast
The world’s chocolate industry is driving deforestation on a devastating scale in West Africa, the Guardian can reveal. Cocoa traders who sell to Mars, Nestlé, Mondelez and other big brands buy beans grown illegally inside protected areas in the Ivory Coast, where rainforest cover has been reduced by more than 80% since 1960. Illegal product is mixed in with “clean” beans in the supply chain, meaning that Mars bars, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Milka bars could all be tainted with “dirty” cocoa. As much as 40% of the world’s cocoa comes from Ivory Coast. The Guardian travelled across Ivory Coast and documented rainforests cleared for cocoa plantation; villages and farmers occupying supposedly protected national parks; enforcement officials taking kickbacks for turning a blind eye to infractions and trading middlemen who supply the big brands indifferent to the provenance of beans. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones