Africa Media Review for August 12, 2016

Zambia Awaits Election Result after Tense Campaign
Zambians waited Friday for presidential election results that could trigger dispute after a violence-tinged campaign between the two leading candidates in a country usually known for its relative stability. Polling day on Thursday was peaceful, after weeks of clashes between rival supporters of President Edgar Lungu’s Patriotic Front (PF) and Hakainde Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND). Turnout was high, election officials said, as voters formed long queues nationwide to cast their ballots for the national assembly and local councillors as well as the presidency. … At least three people were killed during the campaign, with regular clashes erupting between PF and UPND activists. The election commission described the unrest as “unprecedented”, warning it had “marred Zambia’s historic record of peaceful elections”. The Guardian

UN Security Council to Vote Friday on South Sudan Force
The UN Security Council is expected to vote on Friday on deploying a 4,000-strong regional force to South Sudan despite opposition from the government in Juba, diplomats said. The United States presented a draft resolution this week to the council on setting up the protection force to ensure security in the capital and deter attacks on UN bases. Negotiations on the text continued Thursday with several council members including Russia, China and Egypt voicing concerns over deploying the 4,000 peacekeepers without the government’s consent. Juba was rocked by several days of heavy fighting in early July between the government forces of President Salva Kiir and those loyal to ex-rebel chief Riek Machar, the latest flare-up in two-and-a-half years of war. After initially agreeing to the force during a summit of the East African bloc IGAD, South Sudan’s government on Wednesday said it now had reservations. The East African

US Lawmakers Urge Obama on UN Arms Embargo for South Sudan
More than a dozen US lawmakers have written to President Barack Obama to urge a UN-imposed arms embargo on South Sudan following heavy fighting in its capital last month. A draft UN Security Council resolution calls for a vote on an arms embargo if the UN secretary-general reports that South Sudan’s authorities have blocked deployment of a regional force to help restore calm. The letter to Obama, obtained by The Associated Press, says the lack of an arms embargo would pose a direct threat to that regional force. It says both sides in the fighting have attacked civilians, aid workers and diplomats. News24

African Union Calls on New South Sudan FVP to Step Down
The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has echoed the call by IGAD for the newly appointed First Vice President of South Sudan, Taban Deng Gai, to step down so that Riek Machar, who held the position per the August 2015 until 24 July, be reinstated upon his return to the national capital, Juba. The resolution passed at the 616th meeting of the AU’s PSC in Addis Ababa on Thursday also called for deployment of a third party protection force in Juba to take charge for the security in the capital. It encourages both Machar to return to the peace process and for Gai to step down as he had assured the IGAD heads of state and government of doing. “The decision encouraging Dr. Riek Machar to re-join the peace process and the commitment by General Taban Deng Gai to step down upon the return of Dr Machar with a view to returning to the status quo ante in line with the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS),” partly reads the communiqué. Sudan Tribune

Libyan Forces Engage in Fresh Fighting with ISIS Militants in Sirte
Libyan forces were reportedly engaged in a fresh battle with Islamic State (Isis) militants in Sirte on Thursday (11 August). The fighting resumed a day after US-backed forces announced that they had recaptured the terrorists’ strongholds in the city. Fighters aligned with UN-backed pro-government forces took control of the Ouagadougou Convention Complex, which the IS (Daesh) had been using as a base. Scoring a major victory in the militant’s last bastion in the country, Libyan forces also seized the University of Sirte in the centre of the city. Libyan fighters were seen advancing towards a hotel and guest houses near the city’s port and they were involved in intermittent firing with IS, Rida Issa, a spokesman for Sirte operation told Reuters. IBTimes

Nigeria: New Militant Group Vows to Blow up More Pipelines
The Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate (NDGM) has vowed to blow up more oil installations, if government does not meet its demand for inclusion in negotiations with other militant groups. Spokesman of the group, one General Aldo Agbalaja, said the destruction of a delivery trunk line from Isoko to the Eriemu Manifold, belonging to the NPDC/Shoreline Resources, was a tip of the iceberg in its “operation zero” exercise. Agalaja said: “This is just a glimpse of what is to come. There are several assets already penned down for destruction. This line of action has been made inevitable by an unjust system, which only responds to the violent, to the detriment of the peaceful and law-abiding.” Meanwhile, the management of the National Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) said, yesterday, that it had shut down the section of the affected facility to avoid spillage. The Guardian

Nigeria Riven by New Battles over Scarce Fertile Land
Muslim herdsmen fleeing Boko Haram jihadists and fast-spreading desertification in the north of Nigeria are clashing with Christian farmers in the south, adding a dangerous new dimension to the sectarian tensions and militancy plaguing the country. Thousands of people from Muslim Fulani tribes have moved southwards this year, leading to a series of clashes over land that have killed more than 350 people, most of them Christian crop farmers, according to residents and rights activists. The fighting threatens to fracture the country further by bolstering support for a Christian secessionist movement in the southeast, which has been lingering for decades but gained fresh momentum late last year when resentment over poverty and the arrest of one of its leaders spilled over into street protests. The conflict is also exposing a growing problem that has attracted less international attention than Boko Haram and the militants threatening oil production in the Niger Delta region. Fertile land is becoming scarcer across Africa’s most populous nation, and conflict over this dwindling resource is likely to intensify. Reuters

Borno Inaugurates Board to Monitor Islamic Preaching
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, yesterday, inaugurated Borno State Islamic Preaching Board, BSIPB, to regulate Islamic preaching across the state. The group is also to spy on preachers who may want to spread radicalised doctrines, even as the governor said plans were on to set up a board to monitor the proliferation of traditional Islamiyya, Tsangaya or Almajiri and Arabic schools for the purpose of “protecting noble schools from infiltration by others that may have hidden motives.” BSIPB has different scholars from major Islamic denominations comprising the Darika and Izala groups, with the Chief Imam of Borno State, Chief Imam Zannah Ahmed, as Chairman of the Board. Vanguard

Ethiopia Must Allow in Observers after Killings: UN Rights Boss
The U.N. human rights chief urged Ethiopia on Wednesday to allow international observers into restive regions where residents and opposition officials say 90 protesters were shot dead by security forces at the weekend. In his first comments on the incident, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that allegations of excessive use of force across the Oromiya and Amhara regions must be investigated and that his office was in discussions with Ethiopian authorities. Since January, when he said the killings of protesters first began, his office had “not seen seen any genuine attempt at investigation and accountability”. “The use of live ammunition against protesters in Oromiya and Amhara, the towns there of course would be a very serious concern for us,” Zeid told Reuters in an interview in Geneva. Reuters

Iwacu Editor’s Plea for Help after Bodies Found during Search for Missing Burundian Journalist
The editor of an independent newspaper in Burundi has issued a cry for help after two bodies were found during a search for his missing journalist, Jean Bigirimana, who was allegedly abducted on 22 July. Burundi’s media was among the first casualties of violence that has rocked the country since end of April. In May 2015, IBTimes UK exclusively reported how local journalists had gone into hiding as they feared they were on an alleged hit-list rolled out by the country’s government after the failed coup d’etat. Bigirimana, a journalist at independent media group Iwacu, was arrested 20 days ago after leaving his home for Bugarama, in the central province of Muramvya.

US Urges DR Congo to Allow Human Rights Researcher to Return
The United States urged the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday to allow the return of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) researcher forced to leave the country. The State Department said it was “very concerned by the government of the Democratic Republic of (the) Congo’s decision not to renew the visa” of Ida Sawyer, who has worked for the US-based rights group in DR Congo since 2008. “The forced departure of this researcher… is incompatible with efforts to support greater transparency, accountability and democracy in the DR Congo,” State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said. News24

Zimbabwe Protest Pastor Takes his Crusade to the US
A Zimbabwean pastor who became the figurehead of recent demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s government said on Thursday he was travelling to the US to meet compatriots there and consider his next move. Evan Mawarire, founder of a protest campaign dubbed “ThisFlag”, was detained last month for allegedly trying to overthrow the state, but a court dropped charges against him. After his release he travelled to neighbouring South Africa, where he has been living and meeting with fellow Zimbabweans until leaving for the US. “I am going to the USA. I am meeting some citizens over there…and to take time to think what will be my next move,” Mawarire said in a video message posted on Facebook. “Our power is in our unity, our power is in the fact that each Zimbabwean has decided to rise up”. News24

South Africa Questions Candidates to Replace Corruption Official Who Vexed Zuma
South Africa’s parliament on Thursday began interviewing candidates to replace Thuli Madonsela, the head of a corruption watchdog whose findings undermined support for President Jacob Zuma and his administration and worried investors. Appointed by Zuma in 2009 for a seven-year, non-renewable term, Madonsela investigated several scandals involving Zuma which contributed to a sharp loss in support for the ruling party African National Congress in local elections last week. Among the 14 candidates shortlisted to replace Madonsela in the role of Public Protector are two judges, several lawyers, as well as the current deputy national director of public prosecutions. All would were due to be questioned by lawmakers on Thursday. The Public Protector has a constitutional mandate to probe misconduct and abuse in state affairs. It was not clear when a new candidate to replace Madonsela would be named but her term ends in October. Reuters

Across Southern Africa, Liberation Movements Struggle to Keep Power
It is a familiar tale in Southern Africa: The revered liberation-movement-turned-ruling-party, led by struggle-heroes of decades past, is facing increasing criticism and challenges over enduring poverty, unemployment and alleged corruption. In Zimbabwe, the venerable ZANU-PF, hailed for fighting British rule more than three decades ago, is the target of unprecedented protests. Demonstrations are led by war veterans who say 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe, the only leader independent Zimbabwe has ever had, is a dictator. A similar tale resounds in Angola, where the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola has run the country since 1975. Government forces have cracked down on dissenters, rights groups say, and last week shot dead a teenage boy at a peaceful protest in the capital. The Mozambique Liberation Front, FRELIMO, is still struggling to find peace with its opposition—more than two decades after the end of the civil war. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones