Africa Media Review for August 2, 2018

At Least 3 Dead after Military Opens Fire on Post-Election Protests in Zimbabwe
Government forces opened fire on rioting opposition supporters Wednesday, shattering the fragile peace that had persisted through Zimbabwe’s first election since the fall of Robert Mugabe. At least three people were killed, police confirmed to the ZBC, Zimbabwe’s state broadcaster. Given that many of the injured were quickly whisked away by protesters, the number of dead could be higher. The number of injured remained unknown. The sudden outbreak of violence risked derailing an election that was seen by many as a chance for Zimbabwe to emerge from decades of isolation after 37 years of increasingly authoritarian rule by Mugabe. The conflict began with protests by backers of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) over the delayed release of results from Monday’s election that they believed signaled an attempt by the ruling party to steal victory from their candidate, Nelson Chamisa.  The Washington Post

Zimbabwe Election: International Calls for Restraint
A government crackdown in Zimbabwe after Monday’s elections has prompted international calls for restraint. The UN and former colonial power the UK both expressed concern about the violence, in which three people were killed after troops opened fire. Parliamentary results gave victory to the ruling Zanu-PF party in the first vote since the ouster of former ruler Robert Mugabe. But the opposition says Zanu-PF rigged the election. The result of the presidential election has yet to be declared. The MDC opposition alliance insist their candidate, Nelson Chamisa, beat the incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Zimbabwe’s politicians to exercise restraint, while UK foreign office minister Harriett Baldwin said she was “deeply concerned” by the violence. BBC

History Is Repeating Itself in Zimbabwe
Echoes of past Zimbabwe elections were recalled on Wednesday as chaos broke out as it dawned on disappointed MDC Alliance supporters that their dream of bringing a new political dispensation to the country was dissipating. The 2018 elections have been commended for their peacefulness even in areas previously regarded as hot spots for violence during elections. However, just after the various observer missions had announced their preliminary statements at the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare, members of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance were outside protesting over delays in election results. Soon, people were running away for their lives, walking to their various destinations as there were no taxis on site to commute to their homes. The streets of Harare’s Central Business District were almost empty except for army soldiers carrying guns at each corner of the street. Daily Maverick

Gunmen Strike Convoy with Mali Election Materials, 12 Killed in Shootout
Gunmen attacked a convoy carrying election materials in central Mali, triggering a shootout in which four soldiers and eight attackers were killed, a Defence Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. The spokesman said the attack occurred late on Tuesday on the road between Nampala and Coura in the south-central region of Segou, giving no further details, and declining to say whether it was carrying ballot papers. “The convoy was transporting some youths and election materials. There were 12 killed in total, four soldiers and eight terrorists,” the spokesman said by telephone. Reuters

Mali: Candidates Claim Election Rigging
Opposition candidates in Mali say the vote was rigged and that they will not accept results from stations they suspect of being meddled with. Eighteen out of 23 presidential candidates in Mali have denounced irregularities in Sunday’s vote. They are demanding an investigation into what they call violations by the government that favour current President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Al Jazeera

U.S. Prepares to Reduce Troops and Shed Missions in Africa
Hundreds of American troops in Africa would be reassigned and the number of Special Operations missions on the continent would be wound down under plans submitted by a top military commander, a response to the Trump administration’s strategy to increasingly focus on threats from China and Russia. Defense Department officials said they expected most of the troop cuts and scaled-back missions to come from Central and West Africa, where Special Operations missions have focused on training African militaries to combat the growing threat from extremist Islamist militant groups.The plan by Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, the leader of United States Africa Command, follows an ambush in Niger last fall that killed four American soldiers and an attack in southwestern Somalia that killed another in June.In an interview with The New York Times, General Waldhauser said his plan would help streamline the military’s ability to combat threats around the world — but not retreat from Africa.  The New York Times

Russian Filmmakers Killed in Africa Were Investigating Mercenaries Close to the Kremlin
Three Russians producing a documentary about mercenary forces close to the Kremlin were gunned down in the Central African Republic this week, highlighting the risks that Russian journalists continue to take despite the growing numbers who perish in their line of work. The journalists were shot dead in an ambush while driving across the war-torn country, according to local officials quoted by news agencies. The news outlet they were working with said they were investigating Russian military contractors operating in the Central African Republic, where President Faustin-Archange Touadéra is looking to Russia as a provider of arms and military training amid a bloody civil war. It is not clear who killed them. The Washington Post

High-Profile Terror Trial Speaks to an Emerging Threat in Senegal
Unlike other nearby West African countries like Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali, Senegal has so far been spared a major attack by Islamist extremists. But experts say an unprecedented trial of dozens of Senegalese terror suspects that concluded two weeks ago in Dakar is a timely wake-up call about a nascent and growing threat. The verdicts and sentences delivered on 19 July in the cases of 29 Senegalese citizens accused of planning to establish a terrorist cell in Senegal’s southern Casamance region were far from an unmitigated success for the prosecution. A key defendant, Alioune Ndao, whom the state wanted to see jailed for 30 years, received only a one-month suspended sentence for the unlawful possession of firearms, while 15 of the accused were acquitted for lack of evidence, and sentences handed down to others were shorter than the prosecutors’ recommended jail terms. IRIN

Madagascar’s Former Leader Andry Rajoelina Says to Seek Presidency Again
Madagascar’s former leader Andry Rajoelina said on Wednesday that he will stand in the Indian Ocean island’s presidential election at the end of the year, in a race likely to pit him against the incumbent, Hery Rajaonarimampianina. The election will be held over two rounds in November December, the prime minister said in June. That announcement followed an earlier court-ordered naming of a new cabinet by Rajaonarimampianina aimed at making the government more inclusive and ending a political crisis. “I am ready to devote my life to the nation,” Rajoelina told his supporters in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo during a meeting. Reuters

Africa Asks UN for Court Opinion on Immunity for Leaders
Kenya is asking the United Nations on behalf of African states to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on immunity for heads of state and government and other senior officials. The request by Kenyan Ambassador Lazarus Ombai Amayo follows a decision by the African Union in January to seek an opinion from the court, the U.N.’s highest judicial body. Some African countries have been highly critical of the International Criminal Court for pursuing the continent’s leaders, including Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.  VOA

South Africa Plans to Amend Constitution to Allow Land Seizure
South Africa’s ruling party will push ahead with plans to amend the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said. The African National Congress (ANC) party had said in May it would “test the argument” that land redistribution without compensation is permitted under current laws, a plan that would have avoided the risky strategy of trying to change the Constitution. The proposal was first adopted in December by the party, which has been in power since the end of apartheid in 1994. “It has become pertinently clear that our people want the Constitution to be more explicit about expropriation of land without compensation as demonstrated in the public hearings,” Ramaphosa said on Tuesday in a recorded address to the nation. Al Jazeera

Congo Declares New Ebola Outbreak in Eastern Province
Four people have tested positive for Ebola in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo just days after another outbreak that killed 33 people in the northwest of the huge country was declared over, the health ministry said on Wednesday. Twenty people have died from hemorrhagic fevers in a densely populated area near the town of Beni close to the Ugandan border, the ministry said in its statement, without saying when these occurred. The ministry said there was no evidence linking this outbreak with the last one, which began in April and occurred over 2,500 km (1,553 miles) away. A team of 12 experts from the health ministry will arrive in the zone on Thursday to set up a mobile lab, the ministry said. Reuters

Ethiopia: 4th Patriarch Returns after 27 Years in Exile  
The 4th Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abune Merkorios, on Wednesday returned to his country on Wednesday after spending 27 years in exile in the U.S. Merkorios arrived in the capital Addis Ababa together with the high-level Ethiopia delegation led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed — who was on an unofficial visit to the U.S., where he achieved his target of unifying Ethiopians in the diaspora and turned their attention to social, political and economic activities in Ethiopia. The patriarch was expelled during the 1991 change of government in what many perceive as an undue political intervention in the affairs of the church. An echelon of the clergy opposing the purge went out of the country and declared themselves as retaining a Synod in exile. Anadolu Agengy

Djibouti Slams Call for End to Eritrea Sanctions
Djibouti, an increasingly strategic nation in the Horn of Africa, has condemned last week’s call by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Eritrea. During his three-day visit to Eritrea’s capital last week, the Somali president urged an end to the economic sanctions and arms embargo that the U.N. Security Council imposed on Eritrea in 2009 for its alleged support of Islamist militant forces in Somalia. Mohamed said lifting the sanctions would promote the “economic integration of the Horn of Africa region.” Mohamed’s statement angered Djibouti, which says Eritrea is occupying the disputed Doumeira islands and is holding more than 10 Djiboutian prisoners. VOA

EU Sends Morocco Funds to Help Halt Migration
Spain’s foreign minister says the European Union’s executive branch has allocated 55 million euros ($64.2 million) to manage an upsurge of migrant arrivals, mostly from Morocco. Josep Borrell says that at least half of the funds will be used to “alleviate the current circumstances in Morocco,” where an increase of smuggling boat departures has put a strain on Spanish authorities across the Strait of Gibraltar. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU has given the North African kingdom more than 100 million euros ($117 million) to tackle migration over the past decade. In a letter published Wednesday on Twitter, Juncker told Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez that the EU was “ready to increase its contribution,” but member countries need to feed a common fiduciary fund for Africa. With nearly 23,000 migrants arriving so far this year, Spain has become the main entry point into Europe for migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat.  AP

Morocco’s King Mohammed Sacks Minister after Urging Action on Economy 
Morocco’s King Mohammed has sacked the minister for the economy and finance, the Royal Cabinet said on Wednesday, three days after the monarch urged action to tackle social and economic problems. The decision to dismiss Mohamed Boussaid from the post was taken in consultation with Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani, it said in a statement on the Moroccan news agency. “This Royal decision is part of the implementation of the principle of accountability which His Majesty is keen to apply to all officials, whatever their ranks or affiliations,” said the statement. It did not offer further details on the reasons for the dismissal but it followed the king’s call in a speech on Sunday, when he said the government should also do more to boost investment. Reuters

Egyptian President May Seek to Break Two-Term Limit, Petition Suggests
A petition demanding that Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, remain in power beyond his two-term limit is circulating within Egyptian institutions and among pro-state figures. A photograph of the petition was provided to the Guardian by a senior political figure. The document states it is part of a campaign called The People Demand, and calls for a change to the constitution to allow Sisi to remain president beyond his second term. Signatories give their name and personal details such as a national identification number to approve amending article 140 of the constitution, which stipulates that the president is elected for two presidential terms of four years. “We demand amending it to three terms,” it reads. The Guardian

A Plan for the Free Movement of Africans across the Continent Is Being Held up by Fears of Xenophobia
Some African countries have recognised the benefits of ensuring free movement of people. Seychelles, Mauritius and Rwanda have liberalised their visa requirements. One effect is that there’s been a significant rise in inward tourist arrivals from other African countries. And the removal of visa and even passport requirements within regional trading blocs in both East and West Africa are widely believed to have led to increased economic activity. But there are major obstacles that need to be cleared before the ambition of free movement across the continent can be achieved. The biggest is posed by concerns raised by the continent’s major economies like South Africa and countries in North Africa where unemployment rates are high and there are fears that increased immigration could contribute to increasing domestic tensions. There are also concerns that if not well managed the free movement could worsen brain drain for poorer countries. Because of these concerns, among others, only 30 countries have signed the protocol. This is much lower than the 44 that have signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones