Africa Media Review for April 3, 2018

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela: Anti-Apartheid Campaigner Dies at 81
South African anti-apartheid campaigner and former first lady Winnie Madikizela-Mandela has died aged 81. She and her former husband Nelson Mandela, who were both jailed, were a symbol of the country’s anti-apartheid struggle for three decades. However, in later years her reputation became tainted legally and politically. Crowds of mourners and political figures flocked to her home in Soweto, in Johannesburg, after news of her death broke. BBC

Sierra Leone Presidential Election Results Delayed by 48 Hours
The final result of the Sierra Leone presidential run-off election will not be known until Wednesday, according to Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the UN envoy in West Africa. Chambas told the BBC correspondent that the result will be announced “within the next 48 hours”. The stalemate between the two political parties as to which system of tallying to use has been resolved, Chambas said. “It will be a blend of the existing system and the Excel spreadsheet. Tallying which was halted is to resume”, he said. France 24

Sierra Leone’s ‘Little Gifts’ Incite Fight against Graft
Whether you want to sit an exam, get electricity or just drive in town, life in Sierra Leone is punctuated by endless “little gifts” to those with power. In defiance of government anti-bribery campaigns, the sticky fingers of officialdom are a wearisome fact of life for many in this poor West African country. The nation of a little more than seven million people holds 128th place out of 180 on the latest Corruption Perceptions Index compiled annually by Transparency International, an NGO that focuses on the misuse of public power for private benefit. The run-off of a presidential election took place on Saturday, with both candidates contending with allegations of graft. AFP

Al-Shabaab Attack Kills Dozens of Ugandan Soldiers in Somalia
Dozens of Ugandan soldiers are thought to have been killed when Islamist extremists attacked their base on Sunday in the latest of a series of bloody strikes against peacekeepers in Somalia. Local officials told the Guardian that as many as 46 Ugandan troops, part of the 22,000-strong regional force in Somalia, died in the attack by the al-Qaida affiliated al-Shabaab movement in the town of Bulamarer, 80 miles south-west of the capital, Mogadishu, at around 9am local time. Ugandan officials have said only four soldiers were killed in the attack, which was repulsed with heavy casualties among the extremists. Such attacks are designed to hasten the departure of Amisom, the military and policing coalition under the authority of the African Union, which has been fighting al-Shabaab for more than a decade. The Guardian

US Says Its Airstrike Kills 5 Militants in Central Somalia
The U.S. military has announced Sunday that it launched an airstrike that killed five extremist militants in central Somalia. The U.S. Africa Command confirmed to the Associated Press that the airstrike was near El-Bur. The U.S. said it assessed that no civilians were killed in the airstrike. Two Somali intelligence officials told AP on Sunday that the airstrike targeted a vehicle carrying senior al-Shabab officials and the dead included a woman. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity for their security. Al-Shabab officials did not immediately comment on the incident. However, pro-al-Shabab media outlets reported that only two civilians were killed in the airstrike, quoting senior commanders of the militant group. AP

In Lopsided Election Win, Egypt’s President Sissi Tightens Grip and Stirs Resentment
With his landslide ­reelection victory, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi has deepened his grip on the Arab world’s most populous country and a key U.S. ally, making him arguably the country’s most autocratic leader since it became a republic in 1953. His consolidation of power, marked by wide-scale repression and targeting of opponents, is widely expected to grow in his second term. His supporters are already pushing to alter presidential term limits to allow Sissi to remain in office past his new term. But his outsize economic and political ambitions are at the same time breeding resentment within large segments of the general population and, some analysts say, inside Egypt’s highly influential military. “The past few months have indicated some tensions and divisions,” said Michael Wahid Hanna, a Middle East expert at the Century Foundation. “But there’s nothing to date that suggests that impacts the way in which Sissi at the end of the day can exercise power. He is in charge.”  The Washington Post

Egypt’s Election Produces Surprise Runner-Up: Invalid Votes
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s victory in last week’s election was never in doubt, but the vote produced a surprise runner-up — an unusually large number of invalid ballots, suggesting a possible protest vote against el-Sissi or the election itself. Official figures released Monday by the election commission gave el-Sissi 97 percent of the vote, securing him a second, four-year term in office following an election in which he ran virtually unopposed. His sole challenger, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, a little-known politician who made no effort to challenge him, received 656,534 votes, or 2.92 percent. Moussa’s tally was outdone by the 1.76 million invalid ballots, which would have amounted to 7.27 percent of votes cast, a considerably higher percentage than in the last two presidential elections: 4.07 percent in 2014 and 3.1 percent in the 2012 runoff. Critics denounced the latest election as a farce because a string of potentially serious challengers were either forced out of the race or arrested. Moussa stepped in the last minute to spare the government the embarrassment of a one-candidate election that would have resembled the referendums long held by the region’s autocrats. AP

Netanyahu Said Israel Had a Deal to Resettle African Migrants in the West. Hours Later, He Suspended It.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday he would scrap controversial plans to deport African asylum seekers, saying he had reached an “unprecedented understanding” with the United Nations to help resettle many of these migrants in Western countries. Many others would be allowed to remain in Israel. But just hours later, Netanyahu hit the brakes — writing on Facebook that he would suspend the new plan until he had met with delegates from south Tel Aviv, where many African asylum seekers now live. The sudden shift reflects how nettlesome the issue of African migrants has become in Israel, and Netanyahu appeared hesitant to anger his core supporters, many of whom oppose letting large numbers of migrants in the country. In the initial statement released by Netanyahu’s office, Israel said it was working with the United Nations to resettle at least 16,250 migrants in Western nations under the plan, which would be carried out in stages over five years. Netanyahu later said at a news conference that Israel would offer temporary residency status to the same number of asylum seekers as were resettled in Western nations. The Washington Post

UN Says 34 People Might Have Died in Nigeria Easter Attack
Some 34 people may have been killed and 90 injured in attacks on Sunday in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno, according to the United Nations. That brings the number of deaths related to raids by the Boko Haram militant group in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states this year to at least 120, the UN said in an emailed statement Monday. The region has been a battle ground since 2009 as Boko Haram wages a violent campaign to impose its version of Islamic law on Africa’s most populous country. “Innocent civilians continue to suffer daily from direct and indiscriminate attacks in the northeast of Nigeria,” said the UN’s deputy humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Yassine Gaba. “Endless numbers of explosions, brutal killings, abductions and looting continue to uproot the lives of women, children and men daily.”  Bloomberg

Four Teen Girl Suicide Bombers Launch Deadly Attack in Nigeria
Four teenage girl suicide bombers have killed two people in multiple attacks in northeast Nigeria, residents said on Saturday, in the latest assault since the government announced it was in ceasefire talks with Boko Haram. The suspected Boko Haram attack took place late on Friday in the northeast Borno state capital of Maiduguri, the epicentre of the group’s Islamist insurgency. The girls, estimated to be between the ages of 13 and 18, attacked the Zawuya settlement on the outskirts of Maiduguri, killing two people, residents told AFP. “We lost two people, a woman and a boy, in two of the four suicide explosions,” Zawuya resident Musa Haruna Isa said. AFP

Turkey, Nigeria Sign Military Training Agreement
Turkey and Nigeria have signed an agreement in the field of military training, the Turkish government’s Official Gazette announced on Monday. The two countries will be cooperating in the field of military training and mechanism as part of the agreement signed in Turkey’s capital Ankara. The cooperation will be extended to sectors of business cooperation, peacekeeping supports, fight against piracy, institutionalized training, delegations and personnel exchanges, humanitarian aid and more. The two parties will also cooperate in promoting and archiving military history, museum establishments and exchange of information concerning military education. Anadolu Agency

Nigeria to Launch Probe into 2007, 2015 Elections over SCL-Cambridge Analytica
Cambridge Analytica affiliate SCL Elections is to be investigated for improper involvement in elections and personal data-hacking of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Charges may follow, a government spokesman said. A Nigerian government committee is looking into claims that Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), which is linked to UK-based firm Cambridge Analytica, organized anti-election rallies to dissuade opposition supporters from voting in 2007, Garba Shehu, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, said on Monday. The committee is also looking into claims that Buhari’s personal data was hacked in 2015 when he was an opposition candidate in the elections, which he went on to win. The investigation will examine whether the then-ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) broke Nigerian law “or infringed on the rights of other parties and their candidates.”  Deutsche Welle

In Ethiopia, a New Ban on Foreign Adoptions Is about National Pride
Back in January, the country’s parliament banned foreign adoptions, citing concerns about the safety of Ethiopian children. The ban was in part triggered by high-profile cases of abuse, including one in 2011 where an adopted Ethiopian child in Seattle died of hypothermia after she was left outside in the cold. At the time, Ethiopia was second only to China as the most popular country for adoptions by Americans. Since then, the U.S. and Ethiopia made adoption requirements more stringent and the number of Ethiopian children adopted by Americans plummeted from 2,511 in 2010 to 133 in 2016, according to the State Department. Now it’s not possible at all. The parliament said Ethiopia should take care of its own children. Lawmakers worried that Ethiopian children taken abroad could suffer identity crises and psychological problems, in addition to physical abuse. NPR

Ethiopia’s New Prime Minister Pledges Reforms to End Violence
Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiye Ahmed, promised on Monday to push through democratic reforms in an effort to end three years of unrest that first erupted in the province of Oromiya from where he hails. The ruling coalition picked Abiye last week to replace Hailemariam Desalegn, who quit to clear the way for reforms in Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation and one of its fastest growing economies. After taking the oath of office, the former army lieutenant general struck a conciliatory tone towards the opposition but did not mention the possibility of lifting a six-month emergency rule imposed in February after Hailemariam resigned. VOA

Gambia Accuses Ex-President’s Supporters of Sheltering Rebels
The Gambia’s new government has accused supporters of the former president, Yahya Jammeh, of welcoming foreign rebels into their homes in an attempt to destabilise the country. Residents of Foni, the Gambian region where Jammeh had a vast farm and allegedly “bunkers and treasure”, have been hosting members of a rebel group that for three decades have been fighting for the secession of their region from Senegal. Giving them a safe haven in the Gambia threatens to upset relations with Senegal, which surrounds the tiny west African country on three sides, and was instrumental in ejecting a recalcitrant Jammeh after he lost the presidential election for the first time in his 22 years in power. The Guardian

Morocco Threatens UN Buffer Zones in Disputed Western Sahara
Morocco’s government is threatening to take control of U.N.-monitored buffer zones in Western Sahara amid concerns that the mission is failing to keep out Polisario Front independence fighters. The warning Sunday came as U.N. Security Council members received Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ annual report on the situation in Western Sahara and the 27-year-old U.N. peacekeeping mission in the mineral-rich territory claimed by both Morocco and the Polisario. Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said Sunday that the Polisario recently moved members to the U.N.-controlled areas of Bir Lehlou and Tifariti. He also said Polisario members are again entering the Guerguerat area near the Mauritanian border, despite a U.N.-brokered deal to leave after tensions erupted there in 2016. VOA

Zambia Expels Cuban Envoy for Attending M’membe Candidacy Launch
Fred M’membe’s Socialist revolution has claimed its first casualty in Cuban Ambassador Nelson Pages Vilas who has been expelled by the Zambian government. Vilas has been expelled for having attended the launch of the Zambian Socialist Party and wished the opposition political party the best of luck. The presence of the Cuban envoy accredited to Zambia has not gone down very well with the Zambian government with Presidential spokesperson Amos Chanda making the announcement that Vilas had been shown the door. Chanda told a media briefing at Pamodzi Hotel that Vilas broke diplomatic etiquette by attending an opposition political party event. M’membe was unveiled as the Presidential candidate for the Socialist Party in the 2021 elections. Zambia Reports



Photo: Adam Jones