Africa Media Review for August 1, 2018

Zimbabwe Election: Zanu-PF ‘Has Most Seats’, Incomplete Results Show
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party has won the most seats in parliament, according to incomplete official results. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is poised to win with a substantial majority. However, the opposition MDC Alliance has claimed the vote is rigged, and said on Tuesday that its candidate Nelson Chamisa had won. Overseas election monitoring teams are to issue their reports on the parliamentary and presidential poll on Wednesday. It is the first election in Zimbabwe since long-serving ruler Robert Mugabe was ousted. He has refused to back his successor, Mr Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has announced 110 seats for Zanu-PF so far, and 41 for MDC Alliance, ZBC state media reported. There are 210 seats in the National Assembly’s lower house. Monday’s polls attracted a high turnout of 70%. BBC

Zimbabwe Issues Prosecution Warning after Opposition Claims Poll Win
Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC party has claimed victory in the country’s historic elections while the government threatened to jail leaders announcing results as the wait for official tallies dragged on. Electoral officials on Tuesday warned that gathering the results of the poll, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa said looked “extremely positive” for him, was “nowhere near” complete and no announcement would be made until as late as Saturday. Zimbabwe’s opposition MDC party has claimed victory in the country’s historic elections while the government threatened to jail leaders announcing results as the wait for official tallies dragged on. Electoral officials on Tuesday warned that gathering the results of the poll, which President Emmerson Mnangagwa said looked “extremely positive” for him, was “nowhere near” complete and no announcement would be made until as late as Saturday. Daily Nation

Zim Opposition Leaders Targeted for Assassination, Claims Tendai Biti
Former Zimbabwe finance minister and senior opposition official Tendai Biti has claimed there is a government plot to assassinate him and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa. A day after Zimbabwe’s general elections held on Monday, Biti — who won the Harare East parliamentary seat on an MDC Alliance ticket — said party leader Chamisa had won the presidential poll and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) was deliberately delaying announcing the official results. Biti said former army commander and current vice-president Constantino Chiwenga was behind the assassination plot. He said there said it was a “fact” that he and Chamisa are on a hit list, but said the source of the information was confidential.  Mail and Guardian

Third Candidate Claims Place in Mali Election Run-Off
Three candidates in Mali’s presidential election claimed on Tuesday to have made it into a two-candidate run-off vote, adding to confusion over a poll beset by claims of irregularities and armed attacks that prevented thousands from voting. Candidates are forbidden by law to announce results before they are officially published and by 8 p.m. (2000 GMT) on Tuesday, there was no sign of the Ministry of Territorial Administration releasing any, which did little to calm tensions. Rival parties have given differing outlooks based on their own polling, raising the political heat in the mostly desert country, already under threat from ethnic and Islamist violence. Mali has a history of peaceful elections in which disputes are resolved without mass protest or violence. But this election is closer and more contested than past polls, which raises the risk of trouble if candidates are unhappy with the outcome. Reuters

Will Djibouti Become Latest Country to Fall into China’s Debt Trap?
Djibouti is projected to take on public debt worth around 88 percent of the country’s overall $1.72 billion GDP, with China owning the lion’s share of it, according to a report published in March by the Center for Global Development. It, too, may face the possibility of handing over some key assets to China.  […] But the most noteworthy development in Djibouti—and the most worrying for the United States—is China’s first overseas military base, which is located 6 miles from the U.S. military’s only permanent base in Africa. […] “There is nowhere else in the world where the U.S. military is essentially co-located in close proximity to a country it considers a strategic competitor,” said Kate Almquist Knopf, the director of the Defense Department’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “This is not something the Pentagon is used to,” she said. Foreign Policy

7 Soldiers, 4 Extremists Killed in Clash in Algeria
Four extremists were killed in a violent clash in the Skikda region, some 420 kilometers (260 miles) east of the capital city of Algiers, Algeria’s defense ministry said Tuesday. Meanwhile, local police and a military official in Algiers told the Associated Press that seven soldiers were also killed in the skirmish that occurred Monday in the locality of Bessi during a search and sweep operation. The police and military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak publicly to journalists, said the dead soldiers’ bodies were taken to the local morgue and several other wounded soldiers were treated in the Skikda hospital. The ministry confirmed the “elimination” of four “terrorists” in which the military recovered three machine guns — but did not comment on the soldiers’ deaths.  AP

Trump Suspends Duty-Free Status for Rwanda Clothes Exports
President Donald Trump has withdrawn benefits for Rwanda to export apparel duty-free to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). In March, the Trump administration had threatened to review Kigali’s status in 60 days after the latter banned importation of used clothes and shoes. “The President, therefore, has decided to suspend Rwanda’s duty-free access to the United States for apparel products until Rwanda comes back into compliance with Agoa’s eligibility requirements,” the deputy US Trade Representative CJ Mahoney said in a statement on Monday. “We regret this outcome and hope it is temporary. “If the Agoa eligibility criteria are to have any meaning, they have to be enforced-particularly where, as here, other Agoa members took action in order remain in compliance,” he said adding that Trump’s action was “measured and proportional”. The East African

DR Congo Opposition Leader Bemba Returns Home for Presidential Bid
Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba returned home on Wednesday after a decade in prison in The Hague for a presidential run expected to pose a stiff challenge to President Joseph Kabila or his successor in December’s election. Bemba, whose war crimes convictions at the International Criminal Court (ICC) were quashed on appeal in May, touched down at Kinshasa’s N’Djili airport where thousands of cheering supporters wore T-shirts, hats, scarves and robes bearing his image. “The Congolese people have waited for this moment for a long time,” said Toussaint Bodongo, a member of Bemba’s MLC party. “Bemba will maybe bring the solution that we need to Congo.”  Africa News

Opponents of Congo’s Kabila Lead Presidential Race: Poll
Two opponents of Congolese President Joseph Kabila jointly lead a race to replace him in an election due in December, according to a public opinion poll released on Tuesday. Millionaire businessman Moise Katumbi, a former governor of the country’s copper-producing region who says he will return from a two-year exile on Friday, would receive 19 percent of the vote, as would Felix Tshisekedi, who leads Congo’s largest opposition party, the poll showed. The poll, conducted by the Congo Research Group at New York University and Congolese polling firm BERCI, also shows that 62 percent of people do not trust the electoral commission to conduct a free and fair election, due to be held on Dec. 23.  Reuters

Congo Lifts Arrest Warrant against Rebel Leader Pastor Ntumi
The Republic of Congo has lifted arrest warrants for former rebel leader Frederic Bintsamou – widely known as Pastor Ntumi – who led a violent campaign against the army in the oil-producing south, officials said on Tuesday. The move is in line with a peace accord signed on December 23 between the government and Ntumi’s Ninja militia which operated in the southern Pool region, where the capital Brazzaville is located. “Since Friday July 27, the reverend Pastor Ntumi has regained all his rights and freedoms to participate in the peace process,” senior interior ministry official Seraphin Ondele said. The arrest warrants against Ntumi and two of his lieutenants, which were also lifted, had been issued for “killings, illegal possession of arms and munitions and destruction of public buildings.”  AFP

Controversial Vote on Presidential Powers Passes in Comoros
Comorans have voted overwhelmingly in favour of controversial constitutional reforms that will allow President Azali Assoumani to seek another term, according to electoral officials. Ahmed Mohamed Djaza, president of the Comoros National Electoral Commission (CENI), said on Tuesday that the “yes” vote was backed by 92.74 percent of the voters, or 172,240 people. Speaking during a briefing in the capital, Moroni, Djaza said turnout in Monday’s referendum stood at 63.9 percent. However, government critics and election observers are questioning the legitimacy of the vote, which was boycotted by the opposition and took place amid a crackdown on dissent and a general strike that paralysed Moroni. Al Jazeera

UN Asked to Punish Peacekeepers Who Don’t Protect Civilians
More than 30 countries that support a set of principles calling for U.N. peacekeepers to protect civilians in armed conflict are asking the United Nations to go a step further and hold peacekeepers accountable if they fail to do so. A letter sent Tuesday to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and obtained by The Associated Press encourages the U.N. chief to consider repatriation and possible financial penalties when troops fail to protect civilians. It also encourages Guterres to take administrative and other measures when peacekeepers fail to implement mandates, including “holding accountable and, where appropriate, sanctioning senior mission leadership.” Rwanda, the Netherlands and the United States initiated the principles that were adopted in May 2015 in Kigali by the top 30 troop and police contributors to U.N. peacekeeping operations, the top 10 financial contributors, and other nations. VOA

Morocco: A Risky Migration Partner for the EU
On July 30, a video showing a group of African migrants in a boat arriving on a Spanish beach caused a stir on social media. The migrants jumped off the boat and onto the shore, to the astonishment of the tourists around them. Meanwhile, on Friday, more than 600 migrants attempted to break the barrier fence into the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, which borders Morocco. The two events have reignited a debate over the number of migrants entering Spain, and the European Union more broadly, via Morocco. Ever since the closure of the so-called Balkan Route, where migrants would enter the EU through Turkey and southeastern Europe, this North African path has become increasingly popular. According to the Spanish Interior Ministry, over 17,000 migrants have arrived in Spain this year, which is twice as many as in 2017. In fact, Spain has overtaken Italy as the most popular entry point for migrants to travel to Europe.  Deutsche Welle

Togo Crisis Overshadows West Africa Summit
Leaders from western and central Africa gathered in Lome on Monday for a joint two-day summit to step up their fight against terrorism. But the event has been overshadowed by Togo’s political crisis, which has dragged on for nearly a year. The summit, the first of its kind, brings together delegates from the 15-nation regional bloc, Ecowas, and 11 members of the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS. The joint event is, however, being overshadowed by Togo’s ongoing political crisis, which has dragged on for nearly a year. After playing a leading role in a historic transfer of power in The Gambia, civil society groups are now looking to west African leaders to do the same in Togo. RFI

Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari Is New ECOWAS Chairperson
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has a new leader in the person of Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari. The leadership of the bloc revolves annually among heads of state. Buhari was chosen to lead the regional political bloc at the end of a summit in the Togolese capital of Lome on Monday evening. A media aide to Buhari tweeted the news of his chairmanship. The leader of Africa’s most populous nation takes over the reigns from his Togolese counterpart, Faure Gnassingbe, who has been leader over the last year.  Africa News

Nigeria’s Senate President Quits Ruling Party in New Blow to Buhari
Nigeria’s Senate president on Tuesday became the latest senior politician to leave the ruling party, dealing a new blow to President Muhammadu Buhari ahead of an election next year. Bukola Saraki, the country’s third most senior politician, defected to rejoin the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), becoming the most high-profile figure to leave the All Progressives Congress (APC). Last week, 16 lawmakers in the upper house left the APC, as did 32 in the lower house and this month an APC faction said it no longer backed Buhari. The loss of influential figures and divisions in the party peels support from Buhari within powerful patronage networks and among voters ahead of the election scheduled for February 2019. Reuters

Canada Launches Peacekeeping Mission in Mali
Canadian armed forces officially launched their peacekeeping mission in restive northern Mali Tuesday, marking Ottawa’s return to the blue helmets after more than a decade. The contingent of 250 soldiers and six helicopters is expected to conduct medical evacuations in the north of the country from Wednesday as they take over from German troops. “My team and I are extremely proud to wear the blue beret as UN soldiers from Canada,” Canadian commander Colonel Chris McKenna said at a ceremony at the UN base in Gao. “It has been several years since Canada has had a large UN footprint and the pride that we take in hoisting the United Nations flag beside our beloved red-and-white Maple Leaf should not be underestimated,” he said.  AFP

US Court Hears Case against Germany over Namibia Genocide
A court in the United States has heard the first oral argumentation between representatives of the Herero and Nama people and representatives of the German government, in a case concerning damages for what has been termed the first genocide of the 20th century. An estimated 100,000 Ovaherero and Nama people were killed between 1904 and 1908 as a result of a mass extermination policy initiated by German colonial troops in South West Africa, currently known as Namibia, when the territory was a German colony. US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain on Tuesday presided over the one-hour hearing in New York, where a delegation of 50 Herero and Nama people from around the world joined the plaintiffs in attendance.  Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones