Africa Media Review for August 10, 2018

Treatment of Tendai Biti Sparks International Outrage While Mnangagwa Claims Credit for His Release on Bail
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has claimed credit for intervening to ensure that opposition MP Tendai Biti was released on bail after two days on the run. If this is part of a presidential strategy, it could spell bad news for a court challenge to the election results.  In a brief statement early on Thursday evening, following People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti’s release on $5,000 bail, President Emmerson Mnangagwa released a three-tweet statement. […] Did Mnangagwa give instructions to state prosecutors not to oppose bail, or, possibly worse, did he make presiding magistrate Francis Mapfumo understand that the presidential wish was that Biti be released? After all, Biti’s arrest was so messy and such a PR disaster that it would make Biti look a martyr if he were made to languish in a jail. Biti managed to cross the border into Zambia on Thursday before he was dragged back to Harare by law enforcement, so why wasn’t he considered a flight risk by the court?  Daily Maverick

Zimbabwe Opposition on Deadline to Appeal Election Result
Zimbabwe’s defeated opposition faced a deadline on Friday to file its legal challenge to try to overturn the July 30 election result, which has been mired in fraud allegations and a government crackdown on opponents. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance alleges that the vote result was rigged and President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s narrow victory was due to a falsified vote count in Zimbabwe’s first election since the end of Robert Mugabe’s rule.t Mnangagwa, who is seeking to reverse Zimbabwe’s economic isolation and attract desperately needed foreign investment, had vowed during the election campaigns that he would turn a page on Mugabe’s repressive 37-year rule. International monitors largely praised the conduct of the election itself, although EU observers said that Mnangagwa, a former ally of Mugabe, benefited from an “un-level playing field” and a degree of voter intimidation.  Times Live

11 Killed in Mali Ethnic Attack
Eleven Fulani civilians were kidnapped and killed in the latest bout of ethnic violence to hit Mali, local groups said on Thursday, while an official put the toll at 14. The attack, which occurred in the restive central region of Mopti on Tuesday, was attributed to hunters from the Dogon community. “11 Fulani civilians were kidnapped on Tuesday by the Bani river as they were going to the market in Sofara by Dogon militiamen who arrived on motorbikes,” Abdoul Aziz Diallo, who heads the country’s main Fulani association Tabital Pulaaku, told AFP. “Today, we got proof that they were executed,” he added. Ousmane Cisse, a member of Tabital Pulaaku Africa, another Fulani association, confirmed the account.  AFP

Mali Opposition Not United for Runoff Presidential Vote
Opposition candidates who fell short in Mali’s presidential election have refused to back either of the frontrunners who will contest a runoff vote on Sunday. Two of the losing candidates, businessman Aliou Boubacar Diallo and former prime minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, who came in third and fourth place respectively, said on Thursday they would not rally behind anyone. The second round vote will see a rerun of the 2013 election between President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita – widely known as IBK – and opposition hopeful Soumaila Cisse. Cisse had called for a broad opposition coalition as he prepares to take on the incumbent, but that now appears to be off the table. AFP

Suspected Boko Haram Militants Kill at Least 15 Soldiers and Disaster Worker: Sources
At least 15 soldiers and an official from Nigerias disaster agency were killed in an ambush by suspected Boko Haram militants in the northeast of the country, security sources said on Thursday, weeks after 20 troops went missing in an attack.The ambush occurred late on Wednesday in the northern Damasak area of Borno, the state worst hit by the jihadist group which has killed more than 30,000 people since 2009, when it launched an insurgency to create an Islamic caliphate.It highlights the challenge to secure the northeast months ahead of a February election President Muhammadu Buhari plans to contest in which security looks set to be a campaign issue. In July a fourth commander in 14 months was named to lead the fight against the militants after a number of embarrassing defeats. Two soldiers and a staff member from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said that 15 troops and a NEMA official who was with them were killed in the latest incident. We lost 15 troops. Our men were carrying out digging of trenches at Damasak yesterday when the Boko Haram terrorists opened fire on them, said a soldier who did not want to be named. Reuters

Bomb Attack Leaves 6 KDF Soldiers ‘Dead’ in Lamu
Six Kenya Defence Forces soldiers are feared dead while a similar number were injured when a vehicle they were travelling in ran over an improvised explosive device in Lamu County yesterday. An administrator who asked not to be named told the Nation the suspected Al-Shabaab attack left six soldiers dead and six others injured. “We heard a blast at around 8am. Shortly after we saw KDF choppers patrolling in the air. I am told there was an attack on a KDF vehicle heading to Manda from Bodhei. We are yet to get details from the ground. Security agencies have already been deployed to comb the area,” said the administrator. Daily Nation

Ethiopia: Ethnic Tensions Continue to Smolder in Somali Region
Ethiopia’s eastern region remains a hotbed of unrest. Last Saturday, mobs looted the property of ethnic minority groups in Jijiga, the capital of the country’s semi-autonomous Somali region. “We asked the state military for help, for them to save us,” one resident told DW.  He asked not to be named as he fears for his life. “People here are dying. They are even being attacked in the church of St. Michael, where they sought refuge,” he said. The weekend riots reportedly resulted in at least a dozen deaths. Thousands are said to have fled earlier.   Witnesses blamed special forces of the regional government — who reportedly shot dead at least four people — for the violence. “The Ethiopian military has not yet managed to bring the rebellious police under control,” another Jijiga resident told DW. “The attackers have not yet laid down their weapons and my community is facing great difficulties.”  Deutsche Welle

Kabila Move in DR Congo Triggers Relief, but Uncertainty Remains
By announcing he is formally stepping aside after 17 years in power, President Joseph Kabila has eased tensions in DR Congo but the volatile country remains gripped by uncertainty ahead of scheduled elections. Domestic, regional and international pressures are likely to have played a role in the president’s eagerly-awaited decision to pick a successor instead of naming himself. But suspicions will run deep that Kabila, by picking a loyalist to contest the December 23 ballot, wishes to wield influence behind the throne, analysts say. “Kabila evacuated the question about his intentions from the agenda by choosing a successor,” Hans Hoebeke, senior analyst for Congo at the International Crisis Group (ICG), told AFP.  AFP

Ivory Coast: PDCI to Leave the Coalition
The Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) on Thursday announced its withdrawal from the coalition with the Rally of Republicans (RDR) of President Alassane Ouattara. The two parties have been governing the country since 2010. In an official statement issued a day after the meeting between President Ouattara and PDCI President Henri Konan Bédié, the PDCI confirmed the dissolution of unified party (RHDP) and said it will present municipal and regional election candidates under its own banner. The alliance, created by President Ouattara, aims to unite the two parties that had been allies since 2005.  Africa News

President Kiir Orders South Sudan’s Army to Integrate Ex-Rebels
President Salva Kiir who is also the commander-in-chief of the national army has instructed the South Sudanese military to turn their back to the war and prepare themselves to welcome and integrate the former rebels who will join them soon to form one army. Within 8 months from the beginning of the transitional period, the rebel fighters shall integrate the national army after receiving the necessary training. the quick integration of the armed groups was one the things that Kiir sought to change in the revitalized security arrangements to avoid the repetition of July 2016 bloody clashes. In a speech he delivered at the headquarters of the South Sudanese army in Juba Kiir briefed the army on the recent agreements on the outstanding issues of governance and security arrangements between the government and the opposition groups. Sudan Tribune

US Cheers South Sudan’s Progress Toward Peace, Expects ‘Long Process’ 
While the Trump administration applauds this week’s progress in South Sudan’s peace talks, it expects that ending nearly five years of civil war and rebuilding confidence in the eastern African nation’s governance will be “a long process,” the top U.S. diplomat there says. “We’re excited about the progress made so far,” said Thomas Hushek, U.S. ambassador to South Sudan. “And we’re really hoping that the parties stick to their efforts to come to the table, compromise where necessary, uphold their commitments first and foremost to the cease-fire, and then start working on ways to resolve remaining issues of conflict” so they can sign a final peace agreement. The peace talks are “at a very critical stage,” he acknowledged in an exclusive interview Thursday at the U.S. embassy here with VOA’s “South Sudan in Focus” radio program. VOA

In Uganda’s Refugee Camps, South Sudanese Children Seek the Families They’ve Lost
On a pale dirt road in the Palorinya refugee camp in northern Uganda, Raida Ijo clung to her 16-year-old son, Charles Abu. They sobbed quietly into each other’s shoulder. They had been separated for 19 months, since the day that fighting broke out between rebels and government troops in their village in South Sudan. Charles was halfway through a math class in their village, Andasire, in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state, when the shooting started. He ran for the bush, and after a sleepless night in hiding, set off for the Ugandan border with his younger brother, Seme, 14. Their mother, Mrs. Ijo, feeling unwell, had checked herself into a hospital that morning. The boys knew that to try to find her would be too dangerous. The two brothers are among 17,600 minors who have crossed the border into Uganda without their parents since the outbreak of South Sudan’s civil war in 2013, according to the United Nations refugee agency. Over the last year, the pace of the conflict and the flow of refugees have slowed, but aid workers say it will take years to reunite splintered families. The New York Times

Sudan, Libya, Niger, Chad Security Cooperation Meeting Launched in Khartoum
Yesterday, the third ministerial meeting on cooperation in security and border control between Sudan, Libya, Niger and Chad at the level of the experts’ committee, which includes security chiefs of the four countries, was launched at the Corinthia Hotel in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum. Sudan’s military intelligence chief, Jamal Omar, said that the experts’ meeting discussed four main issues: study of the joint judicial cooperation agreement, coordination and follow-up mechanism for the joint work department, formation of mechanism and joint operations centres. He said the main objective of all this work is to build security partnerships, enhance confidence among the four countries and unify their efforts to secure their common borders, combat terrorism, negative movements, human trafficking, drug trafficking and cross-border crimes, as well as border development projects.  Radio Dabanga

South Africa Sees Rise of Anti-Immigrant Politics
A new South African political party wants the government to expel all foreigners, claiming they bring crime into the country and are responsible for high unemployment. While it’s unlikely the African Basic Movement party will win big in next year’s general elections, its emergence is a sign, analysts say, that the global wave of nationalist, populist politics has come to the Rainbow Nation. Party leader Thembelani Ngubane says his party, which he started last year, has gained tens of thousands of members and signatories to its petition to deport all foreigners by year’s end. Those numbers could not be verified. The party recently registered to compete in next year’s elections, but critics question whether its platform adheres to South Africa’s progressive, inclusive constitution, and whether the party’s position leans dangerously towards hate speech, which is illegal in South Africa.  VOA

Crackdown on Comoros Opposition after Referendum Boycott
Authorities in the Comoros have launched a crackdown on opposition members following a controversial referendum which they boycotted, party sources said on Wednesday. The July 30 referendum returned overwhelming backing for reforms that will allow President Azali Assoumani to run for another term in office as the head of the Indian Ocean archipelago. The vote also means the three posts of vice-president and constitutional court will be scrapped. Around 10 opponents of the government have been recently arrested while a similar number have gone into hiding as they are being sought by authorities, according to opposition sources. Former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi who leads Juwa, one of the main opposition parties, has been under house arrest since May. AFP

Mauritanian Presidential Hopeful Arrested amid Fears of Political Foul Play
A prominent Mauritanian anti-slavery activist has been taken into custody before legislative elections next month in what rights groups fear is a politically-motivated move to silence opposition. Biram Dah Abeid, who heads Mauritania’s Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement, was arrested early on Tuesday morning at his home in the capital, Nouakchott, and imprisoned in the southern part of the city. He has not yet been charged with any crime, according to the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). Abeid informed colleagues of his arrest on WhatsApp, describing the moment when police knocked on his door and told him there was “an order from above” that he should “follow them to the police station”.  The Guardian

Ghana Replaces Sacked Energy Chief in Reshuffle of Huge Cabinet
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo replaced his sacked energy minister on Thursday in a reshuffle that still maintained the West African country’s high number of ministers — 110 in total. Akufo-Addo sacked Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko on Monday, and in the reshuffle he replaced him with John Peter Amewu, former minister of lands and natural resources. Press reports said Agyarko was removed because the president was unhappy with his handling of an extension to a five-year deal with United Arab Emirates-based AMERI Energy for a 300MW emergency power plant. Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, former regional minister for the Brong Ahafo region, was named minister for lands and natural resources, while Kofi Adda, a former minister of sanitation and water resources, was appointed the minister of aviation.  Reuters

Mozambique Imposes Prohibitive New Fees on Foreign Correspondents
Mozambique is set to introduce prohibitively expensive fees for foreign journalists, in an apparent attempt to discourage reporting from the country. The new rules are set to take effect on August 22 — a month before crucial municipal elections, and little over a year before the 2019 presidential ballot — and have been strongly criticised by journalists and civil society organisations. According to academic Joseph Hanlon, a Mozambique expert, foreign correspondents can expect to pay $2500 per trip for media accreditation. Foreign correspondents living in Mozambique will be charged $8300 per year, while Mozambican freelancers working for foreign publications must pay $500 annually. Until now, registration for foreign correspondents in Mozambique has been free.  Mail & Guardian