Africa Media Review for August 17, 2018

DRC Issues Global Arrest Warrant for Opposition Leader Katumbi
The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has issued an international arrest warrant for opposition leader Moise Katumbi, who has been in self-imposed exile since 2016. Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said on Thursday that the warrant by the DRC’s attorney general was issued to several African and European countries. “He must be arrested where he is found,” he said. Katumbi tried to enter DRC from Zambia before the August 8 deadline to register as a candidate for December’s presidential election, but he was denied entry. Mwamba said Katumbi engaged in a “political show” in trying to return. Al Jazeera

Gambia: The Size of Military to Be Reduced
As part of the security reform process, the size of the Gambia Armed Forces will have be to cut down, President Adama Barrow has said a in press conference with journalists on Tuesday at State House. The president was responding to a question posed in light of the slow security reform process citing numerous factors that have to be put into play. “With the military, we have started checking records how people came in to the army and this is a process that is going on,” he went on. “It is all part of the security reform, but we need finance also because we need to reduce the size of the army; in doing that there must be handshake with officers we don’t need in the military.” He assured the keenly attentive journalists that the process is going on, citing the importance of the military as an institution to his government. The Point Gambia

Ethiopia Reportedly Withdrawing Troops from Eritrea Border
Ethiopian troops are reportedly withdrawing from areas bordering Eritrea. Eritrean Press cited what it called “unnamed” sources in Ethiopia to report that troops in Shiraro front, south-west of the border town of Bademe. It has also withdrawn from the border town of Badme itself, which the boundary commission, established by Algiers Peace Agreement, awarded to Eritrea, and which Ethiopia refused to give up until early June – when the 36 members executive committee of the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front under the chairmanship of prime minister Abiy Ahmed decided to accept the Algiers peace agreement in all its forms including the decision on Bademe. Military convoys were seen carrying Ethiopian troops, and apparently moving south, according to the source. Lt. General Berhanu, deputy chief of staff of the Ethiopian Defense Force (EDF) who also heads military operations, is quoted by EP as saying “moving military forces stationed in border areas in the Ethiopian regions of Afar and Tigray is not the decision of the military, but the government.”  Borkena Ethiopian News

Farmajo Shakes Security Chiefs To Rump Up War On Al-Shabab
The president of Somalia’s Federal government, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has made a major security shake-up on Thursday to step up the fight against Al-Shabaab. In a presidential decree, President Farmajo appointed General Dahir Adan Elmi as the country’s new military chief, replacing Gen Abdiweli Jama Gorod. Amina Sa’ed Ali named as the new the Chief staff of Villa Somalia, the state house, succeeding Fahad Yasin, who becomes deputy director of Intelligence Agency (NISA). Yasin takes over from Abdikadir Mohamed Nur who has been relieved of his duties as the deputy director of (NISA). Radio Shabelle

Somalia President in Djibouti for Talks amid Diplomatic Tension
Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo is in Djibouti on an official visit. The visit comes amid recent tensions of Somalia’s position on Eritrean sanctions. The presidency, Villa Somalia, tweeted photos of president Farmaajo’s arrival in Djibouti together with his delegation. They were met at the airport by the Djiboutian Prime Minister Abdoukader Kamil and some high-ranking members of cabinet. Villa Somalia said partnership was key to stability, progress and prosperity of the two brotherly nations. Farmaajo is set to hold talks with his counterpart, Ismail Omar Guelleh on a number of bilateral issues. Africa News

Sudan, Ethiopia to Deploy Joint Force along Border
Sudan and Ethiopia agreed to deploy a joint force along their common border during a Thursday meeting held in capital Khartoum attended by the military chiefs-of-staff of both countries. Sudanese Military Chief-of-Staff Kamal Abdul-Maarouf told reporters after the meeting that the joint force would be tasked with “fighting terrorism, preventing rebel groups from crossing the border and combating illegal migration and human trafficking”. His Ethiopian counterpart, Seare Mekonen, for his part, said that stepped-up coordination along the shared border would contribute to regional peace and security. “These troops will bolster border security and help stabilize the entire region,” he said. Anadolu Agency

South Africa to Take Up FIB Restructuring with UN Department of Peacekeeping
South Africa is going to take restructuring and possible downsizing of the Democratic Republic of Congo-based Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) up with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. South Africa, along with Malawi and Tanzania, contribute both materiel and troops to the FIB, currently the only UN force worldwide with an offensive mandate. Speaking to the DIRCO news agency in Windhoek where the South African Development Community (SADC) summit is currently underway, South African Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said the FIB was the sole item on the agenda when the bloc’s organ on politics, defence and security met in the Namibian capital earlier this week.  DefenseWeb

U.S. Concerned about Irregularities in Tanzania’s Local Elections: Embassy
The United States said it was concerned about accounts of violence and intimidation in the run-up to Aug. 12 by-elections in Tanzania. Tanzanian opposition leaders have complained that tolerance for dissent has diminished rapidly since President John Magufuli took office in 2015 on pledges to reform the East African nation’s economy and crack down on corruption. The U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam cited “credible” accounts of violence and irregularities ahead of the by-elections. In a statement published on its website on Wednesday, the embassy said the National Election Commission had refused to register opposition candidates and that they had been subject to police intimidation. Reuters

Islamic State Releases Photos from Deadly Raid on Military Base Near Lake Chad
Yesterday, the Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) released photos from last week’s raid on the Garunda military base in northeastern Nigeria in the Lake Chad region. At least 17 Nigerian soldiers were killed in the assault, which saw the militants temporarily control the base. Last week, Nigerian officials acknowledged the raid and confirmed the high number of casualties in the attack. The Islamic State’s photos confirms that the militants did overrun the base before withdrawing with captured weapons and vehicles. ISWA claims to have battled African Union troops, however, local reporting has only indicated Nigerian troops as being present in Garunda. The deadly raid is only the latest in a series of recent attacks on military bases committed by ISWA in northern Nigeria. On July 18, the jihadists stormed the base at Jilli on the border between Nigeria’s Borno and Yobe states. Disguised as Nigerian soldiers, ISWA militants were able to kill dozens of troops. Of the 730 Nigerian troops stationed at the base at the time, over 600 were unaccounted for after the assault according to US officials. Long War Journal

Buhari’s Undisguised Weapon to Win Nigeria Vote: Incumbency
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s party may be wracked by defections and his battles against corruption and an Islamist rebellion under fire, but he has one crucial advantage in securing re-election: incumbency. The 75-year-old leader is going to need all the tools available to repeat his 2015 victory — the first time an opposition party won power at the ballot box in Africa’s biggest oil producer. At his disposal, analysts say, is a record with some policy successes, as well as the state power to reward or punish. Buhari “seems prepared to deploy the institutions of state to his advantage,” said Clement Nwankwo, executive director of the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre in the capital, Abuja. “It’s kind of a plan to beat people into line.”  Bloomberg

Medical Staff Abandon Hospitals in Cameroon’s Troubled Region
Medical staff are fleeing hospitals in Cameroon’s troubled English-speaking regions after attacks this month left several nurses dead and many others wounded. Medics say they are stuck between a military that accuses them of aiding armed separatists and rebel fighters who say hospitals betray them to the army. Elvis Ndansi, of the Cameroon trade union of nurses, says the killings and abuse provoked outrage in the medical corps. “The military comes, chase them out of the hospital, brutalize them, beat them. As medical personnel, we all stand to condemn these acts and say they are very wrong. Medical personnel are supposed to be protected in times of war. They are there to take care of all casualties, be they from the military, be they from the Ambazonians or secessionists. Their role is to save lives,” Ndansi said. VOA

UN Chief Urges Mali’s Leaders ‘Not to Go Backwards’ in Election Row
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has spoken by phone with Mali’s leaders to urge them “not to go backwards” following contentious elections in the strife-torn West African country, a spokesperson said on Thursday. Official results showed President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was re-elected in the runoff held Sunday, but opposition challenger Soumaila Cisse rejected the outcome and vowed to appeal to the constitutional court. During separate phone calls with Keita and Cisse on Wednesday, Guterres “underlined the need to always keep the Malian people first, and not to go backwards on the reconciliation effort at a crucial moment,” said UN spokesperson Farhan Haq. “He underlined that the elections happened and that it is of utmost importance for disputes to be resolved by legal means and political dialogue.”  AFP

Detained Ugandan Pop Star Politician ‘In Dire State’
Lawyers for a pop singer turned politician and prominent critic of Uganda’s veteran ruler Yoweri Museveni claim he has been badly beaten up, following his arrest after the presidential convoy was pelted with stones. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known to fans as Bobi Wine, was charged in a military court on Thursday with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. He had been arrested in the north-western town of Arua on Tuesday, after clashes broke out on Monday during campaigning for a byelection. Kyagulanyi’s driver was shot dead in the violence. He later posted a graphic picture of the dead man slumped in the front of a car on Twitter, saying he had been killed by the police “thinking they’ve shot at me”. The Guardian

In Uganda, a Pop Star Takes On a President, at His Peril
In his red beret and jumpsuit the Ugandan pop star Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine, leads cheering campaigners down a street, punching the air and waving the national flag. That image has defined the unlikely new political phenomenon — and possibly now put him in danger as an opposition figure taking on one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Once considered a marijuana-loving crooner, the 36-year-old “ghetto child” is a new member of parliament who urges his countrymen to stand up against what he calls a failing government. His “Freedom” video opens with him singing behind bars: “We are fed up with those who oppress our lives.” He has protested against an unpopular social media tax and a controversial change to the constitution removing presidential age limits. Despite murmurs about his wild past and inexperience in politics, his approach appears to be working: All of the candidates he has backed in strongly contested legislative by-elections this year have emerged victorious. AP

Stable Libya Key to Ending Migration to Europe – Niger
If Europe wants to halt migrant boat arrivals on its shores from Africa it must end the state of chaos in Libya, Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou told Reuters on Thursday, warning that the stability of neighbouring countries was at stake. Niger is a country of transit for migrants seeking to reach Europe by boat from Libya and Issoufou is an ally of the West in its fight against Islamist insurgents based in Mali and Nigeria. On Wednesday, Issoufou said in a statement before talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel that his administration wanted more European assistance for Niger in the fields of security and development. “On Libya for example, I expressed my wish that the chancellor support us so that together we can quickly find a solution to get out of the crisis in Libya because as long as Libya remains in the current chaos, the stability and the security of the Sahel countries is at stake,” he said.  Reuters

Marikana Massacre Police Were Not in Danger, Report
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has published a new report into the killing of 34 striking miners on the 16 August 2012.The South African thinktank has found that the police officers responsible were not under threat when they fired at the miners. The research‚ published under the title Sound of Gunfire, includes photographs‚ witness accounts and forensic evidence presented to the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the massacre. If the stain of the worst killing by post-apartheid South African police is to be expunged, the cleanup has to start from the top, says Gareth Newham, ISS head of justice and violence prevention. “We are currently at a crossroads when it comes to policing in South Africa,” Newham said on Wednesday at an ISS seminar on the police’s conduct at, and after, the 2012 shootings. “Since the ill-conceived appointment by [former president] Jacob Zuma of the disastrous Riah Phiyega as [SA Police Service] SAPS commissioner in 2012, police performance has declined notably.”  RFI

Mozambique’s Debt Crisis: Who Will Pay the Bill?
“Public hospitals have no medicines and there are no gloves in the maternity wards. The situation is getting more and more serious,” said Eufrigínia dos Reis from the Mozambique Debt Group (Grupo Moçambicano da Dívida), a civil society organization fighting for debt reform. The country’s economic woes were brought on by secret loans that were backed by Mozambique’s financial minister without parliamentary approval – as is required by the constitution. The Mozambique Debt Group, as well as other civil society organizations, wants these loans to be declared illegal. This could help the Southern African nation find a way out of its debt crisis. The $2 billion (€1.76 billion) loans from Credit Suisse and Russian lender VTB were made to three state companies supposedly for the purchase of naval equipment and a fishing fleet. Not only have the companies failed to start operating, the whereabouts of some $500 million can’t be traced. Deutsche Welle

Congo Copper Faces Increased LME Scrutiny With Audits
The London Metal Exchange will start requiring that copper producers which source metal from the Democratic Republic of Congo carry out independent audits to prove their material is ethically sourced, according to people familiar with the matter. The LME is reviewing its requirements to ensure that no metal traded on the bourse has links to child labor, conflict or corruption. Copper producers that buy from Congo will be categorized as higher-risk suppliers alongside manufacturers of tin and cobalt, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the changes have not been made public. The designation will mean copper producers could be removed from the LME’s list of deliverable brands unless a third-party auditor signs off on their sourcing standards, the people said. The new rules will require producers to show they’re not buying metal from suppliers linked to human-rights abuses, money laundering and bribery. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones