Africa Media Review for August 11, 2016

Queues Line Zambia’s Streets in Presidential Election Marred by Violence
Long lines are forming outside Zambia’s polling stations as the elections for president and parliament begin, in what is expected to be a bruising battle against the backdrop of the country’s lethargic growth. Both President Edgar Lungu, of Zambia’s ruling Patriotic Front (PF), and rival Hakainde Hichilema, of the United Party for National Development (UPND), have expressed confidence of outright victory, despite weak commodity prices having hit Africa’s second-biggest copper producer. For the first time, the presidential candidate must win 50% of votes in order to win the election; failure to do so would result in a second round of voting. “We’ve turned out to cast our votes in large numbers because that’s our right, to ensure that our future and that of our children is protected,” said Robinson Mwanza, 30, a construction worker who told Reuters he had joined the queue of voters at 4am local time. Despite the tight election race being marred by violence between rival factions, there were no reports of unrest during early hours of voting. IBTimes

Libyans ‘Oust’ So-called IS from Sirte Headquarters
US-backed Libyan militias say they have seized control of the headquarters of so-called Islamic State in Sirte. “The Ouagadougou [convention] centre is in our hands,” a spokesman for forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed government of national accord said. Sirte, on the Mediterranean coast, is IS’s most significant stronghold in Libya. The city has been under the militant group’s control since February 2015. The pro-government forces said IS fighters still held positions in three residential areas of Sirte and in a villa complex near the seafront. But capturing the Ouagadougou centre had been a key aim of the offensive against IS in the past few weeks. BBC

Fresh Mali Clashes as Soldiers’ Bodies Found
Renewed fighting pitted former Mali rebels against pro-government fighters for a second day on Wednesday, while the army separately found the bodies of five missing soldiers, the UN said. Fighting erupted on Tuesday near the restive northeastern town of Kidal between ex-rebels from the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and members of the pro-government group GATIA. Calm returned overnight, but “resumed this morning,” said an official with the Imghad and Allies Tuareg Self-Defence Group (GATIA). The two sides had clashed with heavy arms in Kidal itself on July 21-22, and again on July 30 around 40km to the east of the town, several sources said. News24

Mauritania: One Ton of Cocaine Seized at Nouadhibou Port
A coordinated network assault by state security forces on Sunday led to the seizure of one ton of cocaine at Nouadhibou sea port, reports say. Army coast guards, military police and police forces launched the coordinated operation at and around the port located in the city of Nouadhibou, more than 400 km north of capital Nouakchott, on Saturday night after authorities were tipped off that a vessel was carrying the drug. The port of origin of the vessel is not known yet but authorities have launched investigations to identify accomplices. Mauritania has become a main transit point for drug trafficking in West Africa and in the Sahel. Late April, the Mauritanian army seized 475 kilograms of drugs from a group of traffickers after a chase and gun battle. North African Post

Ivory Coast To Reopen Land Borders With Liberia
La Côte d’Ivoire’s land borders, which were closed to Liberia due to the civil war a few years ago, are shortly to be reopened, Vice President Joseph Boakai has said. VP Boakai made the disclosure on Tuesday, August 9, when he spoke at the 56th independence anniversary of La Côte d’Ivoire. The VP, who represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told the Ivorian Ambassador and his compatriots that the opening of the borders will ensure the full implementation of La Côte d’Ivoire-Liberia Quadripartite Agreement with the support of the international community. “We believe that this decision to reopen the borders between our two countries will create access to cross border trade, which has for ages served as a source of livelihood for many families in both countries. “I envision that the strong ties of friendship and cooperation subsisting between our two countries will be further strengthened as we continue to explore new vistas of partnership,” the VP assured. Liberian Observer

UN Calls for Probe into Ethiopia Protesters Killings
The UN human rights chief has urged Ethiopia to allow international observers to investigate the killings of 90 protesters in restive regions at the weekend. Zeid Raad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said on Wednesday that allegations of excessive use of force across the Oromia and Amhara regions must be probed and that his office was in discussions with Ethiopian authorities. “The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromia and Amhara of course would be a very serious concern for us,” Zeid told the Reuters news agency in an interview in Geneva. He also said that his office had “not seen any genuine attempt at investigation and accountability” since January when the killings of protesters first began. Al Jazeera

Unprecedented Ethiopia Protests Far from Over: Analysts
Regional protests that began last year in Ethiopia have spread across the country, and despite successive crackdowns analysts say dissatisfaction with the authoritarian government is driving ever greater unrest. Demonstrations began popping up in November 2015 in the Oromia region, which surrounds the capital, due to a government plan to expand the boundaries of Addis Ababa. The region’s Oromo people feared their farmland would be seized, and though the authorities soon dropped the urban enlargement project and brutally suppressed the protests, they badly misjudged the anger it triggered. Protests have since swept other parts of Oromia, and more recently to the northern Amhara region, causing disquiet in the corridors of power of a key US ally and crucial partner in east Africa’s fight against terrorism. News24

‘Tension Rising’ Between Militias and Regular Forces in North Darfur
Tensions between regular Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary groups stationed in the Saraf Umra area in North Darfur threaten to boil-over into armed confrontation.Speaking to Radio Dabanga on Tuesday, Sheikh Abdelrazeg Yousef Suleiman, the coordinator of the Saraf Umra camps for the displaced, said that the paramilitary groups stationed in the area have held a series of meetings over the past week – most recently on Friday at Riyadh district – in which they demanded the withdrawal of the government troops who have arrived in the area. They threaten armed confrontation should the troops not be withdrawn. Sheikh Suleiman said that the tension came to a head after the army arrested four militiamen last week, following a dispute between a member of the group and the army commander. One one of the militiamen reportedly refused to pay the fees imposed by local authorities. Radio Dabanga

South Sudan Accuses UN of Spearheading Regime Change Strategy
South Sudanese government under the leadership of President Salva Kiir has accused the United Nations of working for regime change in Juba to overthrow the current government. The government reacted angrily to a draft proposal seeking approval of the deployment of 4,000 troops with all military capabilities to provide security and protection in Juba and help in the implementation of the peace agreement in the country. “The UN Secretary General [Ban Ki Moon] has constantly advanced negative views against the Government of the Republic of South Sudan and its leadership, including his recent intrusion in the 27th African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, with the obvious intention of influencing the AU’s decisions in favour of his ‘regime change strategy,” an 8 August response to the UN draft obtained by Sudan Tribune reads in part. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Former Detainees Welcome Deployment of Regional Force
South Sudanese former detainees, a group of non-armed politicians, who form a separate bloc in the conflict, have welcomed a regional initiative to deploy troops to the country. The group comprising senior members of the divided governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), urged the region and the global community to take immediate steps so as to avert the situation from deteriorating further. “We, the SPLM Leaders (Former Political Detainees) welcome the decision of IGAD-plus, the African Union (AU) and their international partners to provide a Protection Force to stabilize the security situation in our country, South Sudan, protect civilians, pacify the spoilers and provide an enabling environment for implementation of the Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (ARCISS),” partly reads their statement extended to Sudan Tribune. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwe: Speaker in Storm Over Mugabe Impeachment
THE Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda is in the line of fire for allegedly trying to shield President Robert Mugabe from a pending impeachment motion set to be moved by opposition MDC-T lawmaker James Maridadi. Maridadi represents the Mabvuku-Tafara constituency in Harare and wants to move a vote of no confidence in Mugabe for various reasons, including failure to run the economy, rampant corruption, the missing $15 billion diamond revenue and claimed signs that the President is now incapacitated. However, the MDC-T MP claims in a letter to Mudenda dated July 27th that the Speaker could be dragged to court. “I note with concern that my No Confidence motion submitted to the papers office for processing has mysteriously gone missing somewhere in the system,” Maridadi said in the letter copied to Clerk of Parliament Kennedy Chokuda and MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese. New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe: President Robert Mugabe Faces ‘Threat of Split within Armed Forces’, Warns Lawyer
The commander of Zimbabwe’s army has vowed his forces will stand by embattled President Robert Mugabe, but Africa’s oldest head of state faces a real threat of split within the armed forces, a prominent lawyer has warned. Last week, top Zimbabwean war veterans from the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA), which has supported the long-serving leader since he came to power in 1980, were purged fromZimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party following a veterans’ revolt against Mugabe’s rule. Following the purge, ZNLWVA leaders boycotted a speech by Mugabe on Monday (8 August) to honour fighters of the country’s independence war claiming they were “being persecuted continuously”—in a confirmation of the rupture in the relationship between Mugabe and the war veterans. IBTimes

Spy Agencies Seek Immunity for African Leaders
Spy agencies from across Africa meeting in Kigali have recommended the International Criminal Court (ICC) to suspend arrest warrants and legal proceedings against African leaders. The resolution arrived at by spy chiefs drawn from 51 African states concerns pending suits and indictments of leaders from countries applying universal jurisdiction and are ICC member states. “Member services renew the African Union (AU) appeal for moratorium on all pending arrest warrants and prosecutions filed against African leaders or other high-ranking officials until discussions among stakeholders are concluded and the current stalemate is resolved” Conference for the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa (CISSA) the document dubbed Kigali declaration and classified as confidential reads in part. The heads of intelligence services said they are alarmed by the frequency of “selective indictments and threats of arrest warrants against African leaders” by the western judges which they say threatens to reverse Africa’s progress towards stability. The East African

African Union Reopens Nomination Process for New Head
The African Union (AU) has re-opened the nomination process for the next chairperson, deputy and eight commissioners, it said on Wednesday. The elections had been suspended, on July 18 during a heads of state summit in Kigali, after the three candidates nominated by member states—Uganda’s Specioza Kazibwe, Botswana’s Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi and Equatorial Guinea’s Agapito Mba Mokuy—failed to garner a two-thirds majority needed to secure the chairperson’s post. The reopening now allows both former and new candidates to be nominated. The voting will be held during the 28th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January next year. The East African