Africa Media Review for August 12, 2022

Kenya Vote Count Continues in Tight Race as Observers Deem Election ‘Peaceful’
Kenyans are waiting with bated breath for the official announcement of their next president, a tight race between Deputy President William Ruto and veteran politician and former prime minister Raila Odinga. Although there have been a few glitches in Tuesday’s election, many have noted that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been carrying out its duties and the atmosphere was peaceful and conducted well and efficiently, especially in comparison to the tumultuous vote in 2013 and 2017. “The IEBC has been able to ensure that the transmission of results to the e-portal has been done in real time,” said political analyst and lawyer Elias Mutuma. He is referring to the electronic transfer of vote tallies (form 34B) from the constituencies around the country to the central vote tally, located at Bomas Kenya in Nairobi. “In 24 hours we were able to witness 90 percent of 34Bs being uploaded to the portal. That did not happen in 2017,” he told RFI from his office in Nairobi. Anyone can look at the constituency polling totals online, as part of the the effort by the IEBC to make the process more transparent. This new process stemmed from the problems with the presidential vote in 2017. RFI

Fake Election Results Flood Social Media in Kenya
AFP Fact Check found false early tallies were being shared on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. In a joint statement, Amnesty International and several other civil society groups voiced concern about “the rising levels of false or misleading information being shared on social media a day after the polls closed.” In particular, they accused the two main presidential rivals of spreading disinformation. The race has pitted Deputy President William Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza alliance against veteran politician Raila Odinga and his Azimio la Umoja alliance. “Several posts by Kenya Kwanza and Azimio candidates and their supporters have intentionally sought to misinform the electorate and the public on the electoral process and the election results,” the statement said. Observers from the Commonwealth and the US issued similar warnings on Thursday, saying the delay in releasing the results was allowing disinformation to spread rapidly online. AFP

Blinken Urges Rwanda and Congo to End Support for Warring Militias
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Thursday that he had urged the leaders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to end their support for militias in eastern Congo, warning that continuing to back the groups threatened stability across the Great Lakes region of Africa. … Mr. Blinken said that both Congo and Rwanda had to adhere to the fundamental principle that governments should refrain from arming nongovernmental groups. “To the extent that happens, that’s likely to perpetuate conflict and violence, not end it,” Mr. Blinken said. … Since late last year, hundreds of people have been killed in the area, and more than 160,000 have been displaced. … In the case of Rwanda, Mr. Blinken said, there were “credible reports” that the government was supporting the March 23 Movement, known as M23, and had deployed official military forces in eastern Congo. … Mr. Blinken added that he had urged all parties to work with a mediation process on conflict in eastern Congo that is being led by Kenya and Angola. The New York Times

Blinken Rebukes Rwanda over Rights, Suppression Concerns
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday rebuked Rwandan authorities over democracy and human rights concerns, saying the central African country may not reach its full potential without opening up political space and protecting freedoms. “We recognize Rwanda’s incredibly difficult history of the 1994 genocide and we know the ongoing legacy of that genocide but the criminalization of some people … in politics, harassment of those who express opposition views to the current government, we believe (that) undermines total peace and stability and success which has been extraordinary in the case of Rwanda,” said Blinken at a press briefing. He was speaking in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, the last stop on his three-nation tour of Africa. … One of Blinken’s aims in Rwanda is to engage officials regarding the case of Paul Rusesabagina, a U.S. permanent resident whose conviction on terror charges and incarceration has drawn attention to what some say is the Rwandan government’s harsh treatment of its critics at home and abroad. AP

Guinea’s Military Government Dissolves Opposition Group
Guinea’s military-appointed government this week announced the dissolution of the main opposition group, the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, or FNDC. The decree Monday cited alleged violence and threats to national unity and peace. Critics and rights groups said the move threatened Guinea’s return to democratic rule. The decision to dissolve the FNDC came just hours after it had called for nationwide peaceful demonstrations to demand dialogue among the military, opposing parties and civil society groups. A report by Human Rights Watch called the government’s allegations vague and said the FNDC was not given the opportunity to defend itself before an independent judicial body. Dissolution of the FNDC comes 11 months after it led demonstrations against then-President Alpha Conde, who was ultimately ousted in a military coup last September. VOA

Final Senegal Legislative Vote Tally Confirms Ruling Party Lost Absolute Majority
Senegal’s constitutional council on Thursday confirmed the results of the July 31 legislative vote that saw the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar (BBY) coalition lose its comfortable majority in parliament. The published final results confirmed President Macky Sall’s BBY won 82 out of 165 seats, one short of the 83 required for an absolute majority, while the alliance of opposition coalitions Yewwi Askane Wi (YAW) and the Wallu Senegal won 80. BBY secured 125 seats in the last parliamentary poll in 2017, and its loss of 43 seats reflects growing public acrimony towards Sall, fuelled in part by his refusal to state clearly whether he plans to run for a third mandate in 2024 in breach of term limits. Reuters

Thousands Protest Sudan Military Rule
Thousands of Sudanese protesters rallied Thursday against last year’s military coup and to demand civilian rule and better living conditions. Demonstrators in downtown Khartoum shouted for the army to “go back to the barracks,” AFP correspondents reported. Sudan has been reeling from political unrest, a spiralling economic crisis and a broad security breakdown since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led a coup last October 25. … Last month, Burhan pledged in a televised address to step aside and make way for Sudanese factions to agree on a civilian government. Civilian leaders dismissed his move as a “ruse”, and pro-democracy protesters have held fast to their rallying cry of “no negotiation, no partnership” with the military. Burhan late last month welcomed an initiative led by a renowned Sufi religious leader, Al-Tayeb Al-Jed, in the latest attempt “to reach national consensus.” Protesters were, however, sceptical. “This initiative doesn’t represent any revolutionaries. They are people who are only seeking power,” protester Shaker Mohammed said. AFP

What You Need to Know about Angola’s Upcoming General Elections
As results trickle in for Kenya’s high-stakes general elections, Angola is set to hold its fifth general election since gaining independence in 1975. President Joao Lourenco will be seeking another term but faces a challenge from a coalition called the United Patriotic Front (FPU). The FPU is a movement spearheaded by the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (Unita), which joined with the Democratic Bloc and Angolan Renaissance Party – Together for Angola. Their candidate is Unita leader and parliamentarian Adalberto da Costa. The elections, slated for 24 August, are widely seen as an uneven playing field. The government, led by the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), has not implemented recommendations made by African Union (AU) and SADC observer missions. It is an all too familiar script with past elections across Africa, particularly in countries such as Zimbabwe where the state media is run by the ruling party and electoral reforms are not implemented. News24

DRC Authorities Hunt for Hundreds of Prisoners after Massive Jailbreak
Authorities in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are searching for hundreds of inmates who escaped from Kakwanguru central prison when gunmen attacked the facility Tuesday night. Five people, including two policemen, were killed during the jailbreak in the city of Butembo. Reuters reported that only 58 of 874 inmates remained at the prison when the attack was over. Colonel Polo Ngoma, the police boss in Butembo, said Thursday that police have recaptured about 50 of the escaped prisoners. Ngoma told VOA that some of those captured were hiding with their families, while others were inside the homes of friends. He said officers are searching for the hundreds of other prisoners on the run. Authorities say the escapees are dangerous criminals. Most of the inmates in the central prison were jailed for murder and aiding terror groups. Antony Mwalushayi, spokesman for the DRC army’s operations against armed groups, said the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group was responsible for the jailbreak. VOA

Nigerian Authorities Say Airstrikes Kill 55 Members of Kidnapping Gangs
Nigeria’s air force said airstrikes this week killed 55 members of criminal gangs who were involved in abduction-for-ransom operations. An air force spokesman said after the airstrikes, the militants released people they were holding hostage. Nigeria’s government has come under heavy criticism for failing to stop mass abductions and Islamist militant attacks. The Nigerian Air Force said airstrikes in north central Kaduna state on Tuesday killed 28 members of a kidnapping-for-ransom gang, including a gang leader. It said many others were injured. Air Force Public Relations Director Gabriel Gabkwet told reporters that authorities had received intelligence that the bandits were gathering in the area. He said the success of the raid led to the release of captives they held. Gabkwet said other airstrikes in northwestern Katsina state this week killed 27 bandits. VOA

Cameroon Troops Kill 10 in Crackdown on Anglophone Separatists
Soldiers in Cameroon’s Northwest Region have “summarily killed” at least 10 people in a crackdown against anglophone separatists, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday, August 11. Its report is the latest in a string of allegations by rights monitors in the battle between security forces and English-speaking militants demanding home rule in francophone-majority Cameroon. … The Northwest and neighbouring Southwest Regions are home to most of Cameroon’s anglophones, who account for roughly a fifth of the country’s population. In 2017, resentment at perceived discrimination snowballed into the declaration of an independent state – the “Federal Republic of Ambazonia” – an entity which is not recognised internationally. The country’s veteran president Paul Biya, 89, who has ruled with an iron fist for nearly 40 years, responded with a crackdown. The ensuing violence has claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced around 1 million people, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank. International monitors and the UN say that both sides have committed abuses, including crimes against civilians. Le Monde

At Least Five People Killed, 100 Hurt in Somaliland Protests
At least five people were killed and 100 injured in Somalia’s breakaway Somaliland region when security forces clashed with protesters demanding presidential elections be held in November, a regional leader said late on Thursday. Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 but has not gained widespread international recognition for its independence. The region has been mostly peaceful while Somalia has grappled with three decades of civil war. … The president’s current term ends in November but the opposition suspect Abdi wants to delay that election and accuse him of seeking an extension of his term through “Guurti”, a council of elders that acts as the de factor parliament in Somaliland. Opposition leaders said some of the deaths occurred after security forces beat and then opened fire on demonstrators in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa and two other towns. Reuters

Ethiopia Completes Third Filling of Blue Nile Mega-Dam Reservoir
Ethiopia has completed the third filling of its mega-dam reservoir on the Blue Nile, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has announced, a development that could raise further tensions with downstream neighbours Egypt and Sudan. The announcement on Friday comes a day after Ethiopia said it had launched power production from the second turbine at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). … The enormous $4.2bn dam has been at the centre of a regional dispute ever since Ethiopia broke ground on the mega project in 2011. Egypt and Sudan view the dam as a threat because of their dependence on Nile river waters, while Ethiopia deems the dam essential for domestic electrification and development. Al Jazeera

Seasonal Floods Destroy over 2,500 Homes in Eastern Sudan
Deadly seasonal floods have collapsed more than 2,500 houses in eastern Sudan, state news has reported, leaving thousands homeless in an already impoverished region. Another 546 houses were partially destroyed by torrential rains in River Nile province, SUNA news agency said late on Thursday. Since the start of the rainy season in May, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that an estimated 38,000 people have been affected by the floods across the East African country. So far, the areas hardest hit include Kassala, South Darfur, Central Darfur, South Kordofan, the White Nile and the River Nile provinces. The total nationwide death toll remains undetermined. On Wednesday, SUNA reported that two children were killed when floods destroyed their home in the central province of the While Nile. AP

Kamoya Kimeu, Fossil-Hunting ‘Legend’ in East Africa, Is Dead
Working closely with the Leakey family in Kenya, he discovered many of the bones that rewrote how we understand human evolution. … Kamoya Kimeu, the son of a goat herder whose preternatural gift for spotting and identifying petrified tibias, skull fragments and other ancient human remains among the arid, rocky badlands of East Africa won him acclaim as the world’s greatest fossil hunter, died on July 20 in Nairobi, Kenya. He did not know his exact age, but believed it to be about 84. Don Kamoya, a grandson, said that the cause of death, in a hospital, was pneumonia and kidney failure. Most paleontologists go years between uncovering hominid fossils, and the lucky ones might find 10 in a career. Mr. Kamoya, as he was called, who had just six years of primary school education in Kenya, claimed at least 50 over his half-century in the field. Among them were several groundbreaking specimens, like a 130,000-year-old Homo sapiens skull, which he found in 1968 in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. The discovery pushed back paleontologists’ estimate for the emergence of human beings by some 70,000 years. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones