Africa Media Review for August 27, 2018

Zimbabwe Court Unanimously Upholds President’s Election Win
Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court confirmed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s disputed July 30 election victory Friday, dismissing an opposition challenge that had held up his inauguration, which will be held Sunday. Before the vote, Mnangagwa had said that a credible election could pull Zimbabwe out of its diplomatic isolation under its former president, Robert Mugabe, ending international sanctions and prompting an economic recovery. Instead, the vote left the nation polarized, with Nelson Chamisa, who leads the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, mounting the legal challenge and violence flaring on the streets of Harare. In a unanimous ruling of the nine judges of the country’s top court, Chief Justice Luke Malaba said Chamisa had failed to prove allegations of fraud during the presidential vote. Reuters

Zimbabwe’s President Takes Oath as U.S Censure Hangs over Vote
Emmerson Mnangagwa urged Zimbabwe to unite behind his presidency on Sunday, as he took the oath of office following a divisive election that U.S. observers said had called the country’s democratic credentials into question. The Constitutional Court confirmed Mnangagwa as president on Friday, dismissing a challenge by the man he beat in the July 30 ballot, Nelson Chamisa. Thousands of Zimbabweans, some bussed in, and foreign leaders including South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa and Paul Kagame of Rwanda gathered at Harare’s national stadium for Sunday’s swearing-in. “I exhort us to commit ourselves collectively to develop our motherland… what unites us is greater than what could ever divide us,” Mnangagwa told election participants in his inauguration speech. Reuters

DRC Deems Candidacy of Former Warlord Bemba ‘Inadmissible’
Former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba’s candidacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s upcoming presidential elections was deemed “inadmissible” by the country’s election commission on Friday, as opposition groups cried foul. The commission rejected the candidacy of Bemba, a rival to DR Congo President Joseph Kabila, on the basis that he had been “convicted by the International Criminal Court” in March 2018 and handed a year in prison and a 300,000 euro fine for bribing witnesses. Bemba’s war crimes convictions were overturned by the court in The Hague and he returned to Kinshasa in August after being acquitted.  France 24

Ugandan Pop Star, Government Critic Bobi Wine Free on Bail
Ugandan pop star-turned-government critic Bobi Wine has been freed on bail. The 36-year-old lawmaker, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has been in detention since Aug. 14. Ssentamu was released by a judge in the northern Ugandan town of Gulu on Monday. He was freed alongside others who are similarly charged with treason for their alleged roles in an incident in which the presidential motorcade was pelted with stones. Ssentamu was initially charged before a military court with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. Those charges were later withdrawn. Authorities have been under pressure to free Ssentamu, who is challenging the long rule of President Yoweri Museveni. AP

Europe Benefits by Bankrolling an Anti-Migrant Effort. Niger Pays a Price.
The heavily armed troops are positioned around oases in Niger’s vast northern desert, where temperatures routinely climb beyond 100 degrees.While both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have branches operating in the area, the mission of the government forces here is not to combat jihadism.Instead, these Nigerien soldiers are battling human smugglers, who transport migrants across the harsh landscape, where hundreds of miles of dunes separate solitary trees.The migrants are hoping to reach neighboring Libya, and from there, try a treacherous, often deadly crossing of the Mediterranean to reach Europe. The toll of the military engagement is high. Some smugglers are armed, militants are rife and the terrain is unforgiving: Each mission, lasting two weeks, requires 50 new truck tires to replace the ones shredded in the blistering, rocky sand. But the operation has had an impact: Niger has drastically reduced the number of people moving north to Libya through its territory over the past two years.The country is being paid handsomely for its efforts, by a Europe eager to reduce the migrant flow. The New York Times

Ethiopia’s Reforming Prime Minister Runs into a Roadblock of Ethnic Unrest
Fresh off a successful U.S. tour and a string of daring political reforms at home, Ethiopia’s youthful new prime minister is riding a wave of popularity in this strategic East African nation, the continent’s second-largest. At the same time, however, the country has been racked by new outbreaks of ethnic unrest, with aid agencies reporting more than a million people driven from their homes just this year, mostly by violent conflict. Seeking to safeguard his efforts to transform the once-authoritarian nation, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, 42, has departed from his usual rhetoric of love and reconciliation to insist that security is a top priority. “There are groups that are working in unison to cause chaos in different parts of the country,” Abiy told reporters Saturday. “They are triggering peoples’ emotions to this end.” Last week, days after Abiy spoke of the rule of law as “the glue and foundation” of social harmony, 300 people were arrested in Ethiopia’s Southern regional state for taking part in violence and 500 more in the Oromia region. The Washington Post

Ethiopia’s 2020 Vote Will Be Free, Won’t Be Delayed by Reforms – PM
Ethiopia’s prime minister said on Saturday an election due for 2020 would be free and should not be delayed by his sweeping reforms to the African nation’s politics, economy and diplomacy. Abiy Ahmed, who took office in April, has pledged to open up the state-dominated economy and has taken steps to end decades of hostility with neighbouring Eritrea — moves that could reshape the country and the broader Horn of Africa region. He said on Saturday at his first news conference that the World Bank would provide $1 billion in budget support in the next few months, explaining that “this is due to the reforms taking place in the country.” Since winning office, Abiy has loosened the grip of a state that had ruled with an iron fist. He has ordered the release of political prisoners and decried abuses by security forces as state terrorism.  Reuters

Kenyan President to Meet with Trump on Security, Trade
Kenya’s president will meet with President Donald Trump on Monday as East Africa’s commercial hub emerges from months of electoral turmoil. President Uhuru Kenyatta is the second African leader to meet with Trump at the White House. Nigeria’s president visited earlier this year. Kenyatta’s office says he and Trump will focus on trade and regional security. Kenya is the third highest recipient of U.S. security aid in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Security Assistance Monitor. Both Kenya and the U.S. have troops in Somalia, and the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group has crossed the border to carry out dozens of attacks inside Kenya, calling it retribution for sending troops. Nearly 100 Kenyan police officers have been killed since May 2017 in bombings and ambushes. AP

Theresa May to Make First Trip to Sub-Saharan Africa by UK Leader in Five Years
Theresa May will become the first British leader in five years to visit sub-Saharan Africa this week, making a three-day trip that includes meetings with the presidents of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The prime minister will bring a trade delegation with her on a chartered RAF Voyager in an attempt to boost Britain’s post-Brexit export prospects, although she comes at a time when the government has been accused of a paying insufficient attention to the region. The last time a British prime minister visited sub-Saharan Africa was in December 2013 when David Cameron attended Nelson Mandela’s funeral. He had intended to return in the summer of 2016 in the final days of his premiership but the planned visit was abandoned when May took over as Conservative leader earlier than anticipated. The Guardian

Islamic State Claims Responsibility for West Libya Attack
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for an attack on a checkpoint in western Libya that killed at least four people. ISIS made the announcement in statement carried by its Amaq news agency on Saturday. The attack took place outside the town of Zliten on Thursday. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya and the U.N.-backed government in the west condemned the attack. Islamic extremists expanded their reach in Libya after the 2011 uprising plunged the country into chaos and toppled and later killed longtime ruler Moammar Gadhafi. IS was driven from its main stronghold, the coastal city of Sirte, in 2016 and fled inland. AP

States Issue Dropped from Peace Talks Agenda: Opposition
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-In-Opposition (SPLM-IO) on Sunday said the issue of states had been dropped from the agenda in the ongoing process of negotiations in Khartoum. “The agenda of states has been withdrawn by the mediators… it is not among the issues being discussed now,” Manawa Peter Gatkuoth, deputy spokesman of the SPLM-IO group, told Radio Tamazuj. Manawa, who is also a member of the negotiating team, has expressed dismay over the mediation team’s cancelation of the talks on the number and boundaries of states again, saying the delay would affect the peace process.  Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan to Begin Oil Exports from Unity, Upper Nile
The government of South Sudan intends to resume oil production from the main oil wells in Unity and Upper Nile states by September 2. Oil Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth announced that the Tharjiath oilfields Unity State and Upper Nile, which were affected by the civil war, will be fully operational by the end of the year. The government hopes to produce about 40,000 barrels per day from the Unity wells to boost the current low production of 130,000 barrels per day, down from the 350,000 the country used to produce before the war broke out in 2013. Currently, only the Faloij oilfields in Upper Nile are operating at full capacity. Lily Akol, Deputy Minister for Information, said that test runs will begin on August 26 before full production starts. The East African

Burundi Govt Ready to Take Part in ‘Final’ Crisis Talks: Minister
The Burundi government is prepared to take part in a “final” session of crisis talks with the opposition, expected to be held in Uganda next month, the foreign minister announced on Saturday despite earlier official word that the dialogue was over. “We are preparing to take part in the fifth round of talks,” foreign minister Ezechiel Nibigira said in a video put online by the Iwacu newspaper. “Burundi thinks this will be the final round” of talks, the minister said. His comments come days after the UN Security Council criticised the slow progress in talks between Burundi’s government and the opposition despite President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision not to seek re-election in 2020.  AFP

Burundi UN Peacekeeper Killed in Ambush in CAR
A Burundi UN peacekeeper has been killed in an ambush in the Central African Republic, the UN’s MINUSCA mission announced on Friday. The ambush, believed to be by so-called “anti-balaka” vigilantes, occurred on Thursday evening around 20km from the town of Alindao in the centre of the country, MINUSCA said in a statement. Armed men had “attacked MINUSCA personnel who had been assuring the safety of a vehicle belonging to a contractor of the mission,” the statement said. “Blue helmets had been sent as reinforcements… and it was here that they were ambushed by another anti-balaka group,” it said. The incident brings the total number of blue helmets killed in the CAR this year to five. VOA

Cameroon’s Village Defenders Turn to Crime
Cameroon’s village defenders — local groups armed to fight off Boko Haram militants — are being accused of turning to crime. As the threat of terrorism and support for self-defense groups declines, many of the armed men villages depended on for security are looking for new ways to make a living. Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria has in recent years been preoccupied with the threat from Boko Haram. But, earlier this month police arrested 14 members of village defender groups accused of harassing, robbing, and abducting people for ransom. Ahminu Youssoufa, with the Mora Criminal Research Brigade an armed police group, said as the threat from Boko Haram declined, some defenders formed gangs that prey on locals and business travelers crossing the Nigeria border. VOA

Namibia to Hold Land Talks in October to Discuss Expropriation – President
Namibia will hold countrywide land expropriation talks for the first time since independence as the small southern African nation grapples with political and ethnic tensions over the transfer of wealth to its majority black population. President Hage Gottfried Geingob, speaking at a Heroes’ Day commemoration event in Rundu, about 700 kms (440 miles) from the capital Windhoek, said the Second National Land Conference would begin in October. He said the conference would address the willing-seller, willing-buyer principle, ancestral land claims for restitution, expropriation in public interest with just compensation, urban land reform and resettlement criteria.  Reuters

Shipping Companies Abandon Vessels without Restraint in Nigeria
The main port of Lagos and Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta see the highest concentration of shipping traffic to Nigeria. Abandoned cargo ships and fishing boats also float freely or lay submerged on parts of the coastline. Environmental groups say their numbers run into the thousands in Nigeria’s territorial waters. A quick boat ride into the Atlantic Ocean from Irede, on the outskirts of the city of Lagos, reveals the extent of the problem. Abandoned vessels dot the ocean, some visible only as chunks of rusty metal protruding from the water. “They constitute a lot of problems to us, they affect navigation in the water because of most the time some are large chunks of metal or rusty metal that was moved here from another place,” said Irede Chief Raymond Gold.  Deutsche Welle



Photo: Adam Jones