Africa Media Review for September 27, 2018

World Bank Approves First Grants to Somalia in 30 Years
The World Bank has approved $80 million in grants to Somalia to fund public finance reforms, marking the first disbursement to the government of the conflict-ridden country in 30 years, the bank said. The Washington-based lender, which suspended ties with the country when war broke out in 1991, resumed support for Somalia in 2003, at the time saying it would focus on HIV/AIDS and livestock programs with other organizations, but it has not approved any direct lending to the government to date. It reopened direct ties with Somalia’s federal government in early 2013. Its board had approved financing of $60 million for the Recurrent Cost and Reform Financing Project and $20 million for the Domestic Revenue and Public Financial Management Capacity Strengthening Project, it said in a statement late on Tuesday. Reuters

At Least 15 Tuaregs Killed in Fulani Attack on Mali Village
At least 15 Tuaregs were killed when armed men from a rival ethnic group attacked their village in northern Mali, local authorities said on Wednesday. Clashes between mostly lighter-skinned Tuareg and black Fulani herdsmen, often over land and watering points, have killed dozens of civilians this year. That has compounded an already dire security situation in the country’s north, where attacks by jihadist groups are common. Tuesday’s raid on a remote desert village in the Menaka region near the border with Niger killed 16 people, Bajan Ag Hamatou, a member of parliament from the area, told Reuters. Reuters

8 Burkina Faso Soldiers Die after Vehicle Hits Explosive
Burkina Faso’s government says eight soldiers are dead after their vehicle hit an explosive device in Soum province. President Roch Marc Christian Kabore condemned Wednesday’s attack that occurred between Baraboule and Djibo in the Sahel region. This raises the death toll of security forces to 11 since Sunday. Kabore says the attacks would not affect the country’s determination to defend itself and establish peace and security. The once-peaceful West African nation now faces deadly extremist attacks in its capital, Ouagadougou, the Sahel region and more recently its forested east. Suspected extremists over the weekend kidnapped a South African, an Indian and their driver who worked for a gold mining company in Soum province. Three gendarmes were killed. AP

Cease-Fire Holds in Libya after Clashes That Killed 117
A recent bout of heavy fighting in the capital Tripoli has come to a halt after warring militias signed a new cease-fire agreement, Libyan authorities said Wednesday. The U.N.-backed government said in a statement it welcomed the cease-fire agreement, which was brokered by local representatives and tribal leaders. Fighting in Tripoli first erupted on Aug. 26 when the 7th Brigade comprised of militias hailing from Tarhouna, a town about 40 miles (60 kilometers) south of Tripoli, attacked southern neighborhoods of the capital. The Tripoli Revolutionaries’ Brigades and the Nawasi Brigade, militias which support the U.N.-backed government, came to the city’s defense. Clashes flared up again last week, breaking a previous, U.N.-brokered cease-fire that began earlier this month. AP

Ex-Gunvor Employee Says Firm Bribed Congo Republic President, Others: Document
A former Gunvor employee said he paid bribes to the president of the Republic of Congo via a presidential aide and Belgian firm Semlex to win Congolese oil contracts, according to a Swiss prosecution document. The employee said he also paid other bribes on behalf of Gunvor, the Geneva-based commodities and energy trading firm, to a state oil official and presidential aides to secure Ivory Coast oil deals. Pascal Collard, who was sentenced to an 18-month suspended prison term by a Swiss court on Aug. 28 for corruption related to these oil deals, made the accusations in a plea bargain that meant he avoided serving time in jail or paying a fine. Collard, whose plea bargain was drawn up by Swiss federal prosecutors, said managers at Gunvor knew about the payments and approved them to win the deals between 2009 and 2011. Reuters

The Men Who Would Be King: Buhari’s Main Challengers in Nigeria
With Nigerias main opposition party gearing up to nominate its presidential candidate next month for Februarys election, here are the four main contenders in the Peoples Democratic Party seeking to challenge Muhammadu Buhari for the helm in Africa’s top oil producer: A former vice president, Abubakar, 71, has been trying to win the presidency since Nigeria returned to democratic government in 1999, seeking the nomination in three different parties. He lost to Buhari in the primaries of the now ruling All Progressives Congress in 2015 but supported him as the candidate. A former Nigerian Customs Service top official who became a major shareholder in Intels Nigeria Ltd., an oil-service company, as a northerner like Buhari, he may be able to win votes in the presidents home turf.  Bloomberg

Labor Unions in Nigeria Declare ‘Indefinite Strike’
Nigeria’s labor unions on Wednesday declared “an indefinite strike” to force the government to finalize negotiations for a new minimum wage of $139, potentially crippling Africa’s biggest economy. Labors unions Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) told a joint news conference in the capital Abuja that the strike will begin at midnight. Ayuba Wabba, president of the 5 million member-strong NLC, made the declaration after the parties failed to reach an agreement with the government delegation. “In compliance with this mandate, all workers and private sector at all levels across the country have been directed to comply,” said Wabba. Anadolu Agency

President Kiir Appoints South Sudan Pre-Transitional Body
As planned, President Salva Kiir appointed the 10 numbers of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) tasked with the oversight and coordination of the implementation of the activities of the pre-transitional period. In a presidential decree issued Wednesday but published Thursday, Kiir appointed 5 members picked by the incumbent government, two nominated by the SPLM-IO, one from the SSOA, one chosen by the FDs and one from the OPP. In line with the revitalized peace agreement, the chairman of the NPTC should be from the incumbent government and will be flanked by two deputies one from the SSPLM-IO and the other from SSOA.  Sudan Tribune

Egypt Arming Sinai Tribesmen in Fight against Islamic State
In a remote outpost in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Ibrahim Abu-Sefira watches a mountainous skyline of jagged rock, ears tuned to the twilight silence, listening for any signs a fragile peace may be disturbed. An elder from the Bedouin Tayaha tribe, he has seen armies, both Egyptian and Israeli, pass through this vast desert. Now the area is the center of a yearslong, bloody conflict between the Egyptian military and a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. In a switch from the past, the military has begun arming Bedouin tribesmen like Abu-Sefira and having them patrol in operations against the IS militants deep in the peninsula’s interior, where their local knowledge gives them an advantage, Abu-Sefira and other Bedouin say. AP

Mozambique Fails to Probe Rights Abuses: UN
The United Nations criticised Mozambique in a letter seen by AFP on Wednesday for failing to take action following attacks on a dozen rights activists and reporters critical of the government since 2015. The United Nations Human Rights Commission said it was “concerned at the threats and aggression” faced by “journalists and human rights defenders” opposed to the government. The letter, dated April 24, singled out the case of media commentator Ericino de Salema, who in March was bundled by gunmen into a vehicle outside the offices of the Mozambican Union of Journalists in Maputo. Two hours later, he was dumped on the outskirts of the city with a broken arm, fractured legs and severe bruising. AFP

Fury as Madagascar Bans Presidential Vote Opinion Poll
Madagascar’s government faced a backlash on Wednesday after it moved to have the publication of an opinion poll ahead of presidential elections cancelled, claiming it was protecting “public order”. The survey, commissioned by the German Friedrich Ebert foundation, canvassed voting intentions ahead of the first round of presidential voting on November 7 and was due to be published by current affairs magazine Politika. A run-off round of polling will be held on December 19 if there is no outright winner in the first ballot. Authorities ordered that the publication containing the results be withdrawn from news stands, according to the publishers who also cancelled a scheduled media conference to announce their findings. AFP

Lesotho Opposition Parties ‘Pull Out of SADC Recommended Reform Process’ – Report
Lesotho’s opposition parties have reportedly pulled out from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) recommended reform process, demanding that the government sets aside the suspension of the country’s chief justice. According to the Lesotho Times, Chief justice Nthomeng Majara was suspended two weeks ago by Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s government after she was accused of inciting violence and threatening peace and stability in Lesotho. Majara’s suspension attracted international condemnation from judges, and rights groups, reported the SABC. The government, however, said it stood by its decision. The reforms were intended to lead to the amendment of the constitution and eventual stability, following years of political and security upheaval.  News 24

Congo Boycotts 2 UN Events Because It Wasn’t Consulted
Congo is boycotting two planned U.N. events focusing on the central African nation because it was not consulted on the agenda or expected outcome, the president’s top adviser said Wednesday. Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi told The Associated Press the government was informed that as a result the meetings had been canceled. He said Thursday’s planned meeting, hosted by Germany and U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix, was for special envoys on central Africa, “but we all know that the main issue there was going to be the Democratic Republic of Congo.” A second ministerial meeting Friday organized by the United Nations was “to review all aspects of problems facing the Congo,” Kikaya Bin Karubi said. AP

DRC Resumes Battle against Ebola after Militia Attack
Efforts to fight the continuing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo were set to resume on Wednesday after a 48-hour suspension following a attack by militia in which 21 people were killed. At least 10 people have died so far from the recent outbreak of the disease, and 150 people are known to have been infected. The decision to resume the effort to vaccinate thousands of people in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri will go some way to reassure worried health officials. The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday that the outbreak could worsen rapidly because of the attacks by armed groups, as well as because of community resistance and the broad geographic spread of the disease. The outbreak has occurred in one of the most violent parts of DRC, a base for dozens of armed groups that contest government authority and exploit mineral resources in the region.  The Guardian

Mnangagwa to Consider Voting Rights for Zimbabweans in Diaspora
Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa has pledged to consider the plea of the country’s diaspora who have consistently asked for the right to vote, the state affiliated Herald reported. Addressing Zimbabweans in New York, United States ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, Mnangagwa said he agrees with the principle of diasporans voting, even though it could not be implemented in the July 30 election this year. “I agree with that request, but we were not able, in the time available, to have the logistics put into place to implement that objective. We now have five years where we can work on that objective where we can see whether we can implement it,” President Mnangagwa said. AfricaNews

Angola: The Fall of the dos Santos Clan
The news hit like a bomb in Luanda: Jose Filomeno dos Santos, the son of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was arrested on Monday in Luanda and is now in custody. The list of allegations against him is long: among other things, it includes the formation of a criminal organization, illegal enrichment, money laundering and corruption, according to the Angolan prosecutor. The authorities are also examining whether overseas transfers of $500 million (€424 million) were lawful, as instructed by President dos Santos during his time as Chairman of the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), the country’s sovereign wealth fund. ‘Zenu,’ as Jose Filomeno dos Santos is known in Angola, has fallen deeply from favor. Only three years ago, he was positioned as a possible successor to his father as president. However this so-called “dynastic solution” did not materialize. Instead, former Defense Minister Joao Lourenco prevailed over the committee of the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA). On September 26, 2017, Lourenco took over as president of Angola, as well as president of the MPLA.  Deutsche Welle

Melania Trump to Visit 4 African Countries
U.S. first lady Melania Trump will visit four countries in Africa next month, on her first major solo international trip. Mrs. Trump, the wife of U.S. President Donald Trump, will make stops in Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt during the first week in October, according to a White House statement released Wednesday. “October 1 will mark the first day of my solo visit to four beautiful and very different countries in Africa,” she told a reception in New York on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Mrs. Trump said she looks forward to promoting the message of her “Be Best” child-welfare initiative during the trip.  VOA



Photo: Adam Jones