Media Review for June 24, 2016

African Assets Slump as Brexit Vote Triggers Commodity Decline
Currencies, stocks and bonds across Africa plunged after the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union triggered a slump in oil and other commodities and sent investors scurrying for safe assets. South Africa’s benchmark stock index fell the most since January, led by shares of banks and diversified mining companies. The rand dropped to a record against the yen and by the most since 2008 against the dollar before paring the decline, while yields on dollar bonds from Ghana to Kenya rose. Gold miners gained the most in four months as the precious metal, seen as a haven in times of turmoil, soared.  Bloomberg

Senegal’s Karim Wade Freed by Macky Sall and ‘Flies to Qatar’
The son of Senegal’s ex-President Abdoulaye Wade has been freed from prison after receiving a presidential pardon, the government has said. Karim Wade served three years of a six-year sentence for illegally enriching himself during his father’s rule. He left Senegal immediately after his release for Qatar, the government added. Karim Wade was charged with corruption after President Macky Sall took power in elections in 2012. BBC

U.S. Begins Targeted Sanctions on Congo Official
The U.S. government imposed sanctions on a senior police official in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday for his role in what it described as the violent suppression of opposition to President Joseph Kabila’s government. Kabila is ineligible to stand in Congo’s next election in November after serving two elected terms. Opponents accuse him of plotting to hold on to power by delaying the poll or changing the constitution to remove the term limit, as several African leaders have done. The Treasury Department said Kabila’s government has engaged in a pattern of repression, including the arrest of members of the opposition and violent suppression of political protests to avoid scheduling national elections. The department put Celestin Kanyama, police commissioner in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, on its list of “specially designated nationals” whose assets are blocked and are generally blocked from dealing with Americans. Reuters

A fragile Peace Raises Hope for Eastern Congo
There are signs of hope in Eastern Congo. This resource-rich region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has finally seen the fighting and mayhem recede and a fragile peace take hold. There are still dozens of militia groups in the area, some supported or opposed by neighbors Rwanda and Uganda, but cooperation between the DRC army and the United Nations peacekeeping force, MONUSCO, has gone a long way to pacifying the area. With growing stability and security in the region, Kinshasa can begin to restore its full authority and look to developing this part of the country. Its mineral riches, which have been a major objective for warring parties, can now be exploited in an orderly way under the control of Kinshasa. The Washington Times

U.N. Security Council Urges Congo to Hold Election by End of Year
The United Nations Security Council expressed concern on Thursday over the arrest of political opposition members in Democratic Republic of Congo and urged the president to hold elections by the end of the year as required by the constitution. The Congolese government has said it is unlikely it will be able to hold elections on time for logistical reasons as opponents of President Joseph Kabila accuse him of trying to cling to power. Kabila, who has been in power since 2001, is barred by the constitution from standing for a third term in the poll scheduled for November. But a top Kabila ally has raised the possibility of a referendum to allow him to run. In a resolution to renew U.N. sanctions, the 15-member Security Council emphasized the protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights in order to pave “the way for peaceful, credible, inclusive, transparent and timely elections in the DRC, particularly presidential and legislative elections by November 2016, in accordance with the Constitution.”  Reuters

UN to Send Peacekeepers Home over South Sudan Inaction
The United Nations has said that it will send peacekeepers home over a “lack of responsiveness” during a bloody attack on a UN-run camp in South Sudan in February. UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous acknowledged on Wednesday that an investigation had found “inadequacies” in peacekeepers’ response when gunmen in military uniforms stormed the camp in the northeastern town of Malakal on February 17 and 18, firing on civilians and setting shelters ablaze. The attack on the camp, where about 48,000 people were sheltering, left at least 40 dead and 123 wounded. Nearly 20,000 people lost their homes after they were torched by the attackers based on the occupants’ tribal affiliation. “There was a lack of responsiveness by some, a lack of understanding of the rules of engagement by some,” said Ladsous, who refused to single out any individuals. Al Jazeera

Uganda Plans to Withdraw Troops from Somalia Next Year
Uganda has said it will pull its troops out of Somalia by December 2017. Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces, General Katumba Wamala, told the BBC the decision was taken because of frustration with the Somali army and international partners. He said it was time for Somalia’s army to take over its own security, but that was not happening. The US, UK and Turkey were among countries training Somali soldiers and police officers. But Uganda’s government says they are not coordinating their activities and this is causing problems. Uganda provides the biggest contingent of soldiers to the African Union force fighting militant Islamist group Al-Shabaab. Other troop contributing countries are Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi. The East African

US Reveals Use of Defensive Fire in Somalia
U.S. forces supporting the Federal Government of Somalia, the Somali National Army and troop contributing nations to the African Union Mission in Somalia, provided defensive fire on four occasions in May, to protect U.S., SNA and AMISOM troops from imminent threats posed by the terrorist group al-Shabaab. This is according to Africa Command, which said the most recent event was on the evening of May 13, 2016, when the U.S. provided defensive fire in Southern Somalia against nine al-Shabaab combatants, killing three. The operation was conducted after it was assessed that the terrorists were planning and preparing to conduct an imminent attack against U.S. forces. DefenceWeb

Obama Speaks with Kenya President About Support for Refugees
U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone on Thursday with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta about the need for strong international support for refugees living in the East African country, the White House said. Obama and Kenyatta “agreed that the United States and Kenya would work closely together on this issue, to better ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities are met,” the White House said in a statement. News 24

Kenya Signs Oil pipeline Pact with Ethiopia after Uganda Snub
Kenya and Ethiopia have signed a deal for an oil pipeline that will run from Lamu to Addis Ababa under the Lapsset project. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn signed the pact during bilateral talks at State House, Nairobi, on Thursday. At a joint press conference that followed the talks, Uhuru said Kenya is working closely with Ethiopia on the Lapsset project. Kenya intended to build the pipeline with Uganda but President Yoweri Museveni opted for an agreement with Tanzania. Uganda changed tack in March saying it was planning a pipeline from Hoima to Tanga on Tanzania’s coast, prompting a last-minute push by Kenya for another switch.  The Star

Is Tunisia Prepared for Return of Thousands of Islamic State Fighters?
[…] Large numbers of fighters of Tunisian nationality have joined IS ranks in Syria, Libya and Iraq, and estimates indicate that the number of Tunisian fighters in Syria and Iraq amounts to over 3,000 fighters, while in Libya, Tunisians represent the largest percentage of IS members, reaching more than 500 fighters. Hence, the Tunisian authorities face the dilemma of how to deal with potentially thousands of returning IS fighters, while it has been witnessing the presence of jihadi groups that became active in the western mountainous region four years ago. The most prominent jihadi group active in this region is Katibat Uqba Ibn Nafi, loyal to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which is an extension of Ansar al-Sharia and Jund al-Khilafah that have pledged allegiance to IS. Al Monitor

Seeking to Define the Post-Mandela South Africa
Nelson Mandela died in late 2013, many asked whether the era he had nurtured of reconciliation, tolerance and hope had died with him. To a visitor to South Africa these days, or anyone who follows news reports, the answer might seem unequivocal. Just this week in Pretoria, the capital, buses were set on fire in political feuding that offered grim, pyrotechnic omens for critical local elections on Aug. 3. President Jacob G. Zuma has been resisting opposition calls for his ouster after the country’s highest court found that he had violated the Constitution.Credit rating agencies have reduced their assessment of the country’s prospects and could be preparing yet lower assessments of the slowing economy. Almost nine million South Africans cannot find work. Corruption has spread across the land. The New York Times

Experts Say South Africa Suffers Intelligence Gaps
Weaknesses in South Africa’s police and intelligence agencies could make the country particularly vulnerable to an extremist attack, security experts warned. However, the analysts said they are not aware of an immediate threat. Concern about militant threats in South Africa increased this month when the U.S. Embassy warned of information indicating “terrorist groups” were planning attacks against upscale shopping malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The Islamic State group called for attacks worldwide during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. South Africa downplayed the U.S. warning, saying the information was unreliable and that it is capable of protecting people on its soil. South African resources for combating militant threats are limited and there is a perception that such attacks only happen elsewhere, Anneli Botha, a consultant on radicalization and terrorism, said Wednesday. South Africa is an economic hub with Western interests that has been spared devastating attacks like those elsewhere in the world. AP on Stars and Stripes

4 500 Migrants Rescued in Med on One Day
About 4 500 migrants were rescued from rubber dinghies in the Mediterranean on Thursday, the Italian coastguard said, averting another potential high seas disaster. A coastguard spokesperson said it appeared many people had left the Libyan coast trying to make the perilous voyage across the sea to Europe as the weather improved. “We saved a total of about 4 500 people in about 40 rescue operations,” the spokesperson told AFP, adding the operations were continuing and the number may rise. A body was found on board one of the rubber dinghies, he added. Most of the migrants were on the dinghies, while two wooden boats were being used by Libyan people traffickers, the spokesperson said. News 24

Boat Migrant Rescues Surge as Calm Seas Return to Mediterranean
Ships manned by humanitarian organisations, the Italian navy and the coast guard helped rescue more than 2,000 boat migrants on Thursday as calm seas returned to the Mediterranean prompting a surge in departures. The Topaz Responder, a ship run by the Malta-based humanitarian group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), said 23 different migrant boats had been spotted in the sea about 20 nautical miles from the Libyan port city of Sabratha. Rescue operations were ongoing, the Italian coast guard said. “The mass movement is probably the result of week-long, unfavourable weather conditions” that have come to an end, MOAS said on Twitter. The Topaz Responder picked up 382 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa from three different large rubber boats. The Bourbon Argos, a ship run by humanitarian group Doctors without Borders, rescued 1,139 from 10 different boats, and two other humanitarian vessels picked up 156 more. Reuters on Times Live

Hijacker Says Saw killed Italian Student in Egypt Prison
An Egyptian hijacker who’s fighting his extradition accused Egypt’s military-backed government of torturing and killing an Italian doctoral student, claiming he saw Giulio Regeni being interrogated in a Cairo prison. In a surprising twist to lengthy extradition proceedings, Seif Eddin Mustafa told a Cypriot court that he hijacked the domestic EgyptAir flight in March intending to seek asylum in Italy in order to “point the finger” at the Egyptian military regime. Mustafa said he caught a glimpse from behind a blindfold of a “foreign-looking” person in Lazogli prison during his nearly two-month detention there in December and January after being arrested for using a false Ukrainian passport. The 59-year-old said he recognised Regeni from photos he came across after his release, insisting that he’s “convinced” Egyptian security forces killed the Italian at the Cairo prison he called the “slaughterhouse”. News 24

Angola is Broke, President Finally Confesses
Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos has confessed that his country is broke. The leader attributed the situation to failure of the national oil company Sonangol to remit cash to the government. Angola is the second-largest producer of crude oil in Africa and is regularly cited as one of the continent’s fastest growing economies. The country relies on crude exports for two-thirds of tax revenue, and 95 per cent of its foreign currency receipts. Analysts however say the billions of oil dollars flowing in have not benefited the ordinary people, and have only succeeded in to the emergence of an elite few. The East African

Opposition Leader Says Zambia Unlikely to Have Free Elections
Zambia’s opposition leader accused the government on Thursday of using repressive laws to restrict his side’s campaigns and said the closure of a critical newspaper would prevent free and fair elections in August. Zambia will hold presidential and parliamentary elections on Aug. 11 in which President Edgar Lungu is expected to face opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema in another close contest after last year’s neck-and-neck race. Lungu has been in power in the southern African nation since winning election in January 2015 after the death of his predecessor, Michael Sata, in October 2014. “The current environment, where basic freedoms are contravened by the government, does not support the desire of Zambians to have free and fair elections,” Hichilema, one of Zambia’s wealthiest businessmen and known locally as “HH”, told Reuters in an interview at his mansion in Lusaka. Reuters

A 700-Year-Old West African Farming Practice Could be an Answer to Climate Change
For the last 700 years women in Ghana and Liberia have been using a valuable farming technique that modern-day agronomists have only recently figured out. It transforms depleted soil into “enduringly fertile” farmland. A team of anthropologists and scientists studied almost 200 sites in the two West African countries and found that women added kitchen waste and charcoal to nutrient-poor tropical soil. The resulting rich black soil, which the researchers call “African dark earths,” could help countries adapt to the effects of climate change as well as improve agriculture not just in Africa but in resource-poor and food-insecure regions around the world. “This simple, effective farming practice could be an answer to major global challenges such as developing ‘climate smart’ agricultural systems which can feed growing populations and adapt to climate change,” said James Fairhead, an anthropologist from the University of Sussex and co-author of the study. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones