Africa Media Review for August 4, 2017

Polls Open in Rwanda as Paul Kagame Heads for Third Term
Rwandans began voting Friday in a presidential election widely expected to return strongman Paul Kagame to office for a third term at the helm of the small east African nation. Some 6.9 million Rwandans have registered to vote in the poll which pits Kagame, 59, against two little-known candidates seen as unlikely to pose any threat to his Rwandan Patriotic Front’s tight control of the country. … Kagame was just 36 when his rebel army stopped extremist Hutu forces who slaughtered an estimated 800,000 people—mainly minority Tutsis—and seized Kigali. … However, rights groups accuse him of ruling through fear, relying on a systematic repression of the opposition, free speech and the media. Few Rwandans would dare to openly criticise him. AFP

Kenya: Suspected Al-Shabaab Attack on Police Station Kills 1
A policeman was killed on Thursday after suspected Islamic extremists attacked a police station in the northern Kenyan county of Mandera, officials said, raising concerns over security in next week’s national elections. Al-Shabaab militants are suspected in the attack on Lafey police station near the border with Somalia, North Eastern regional coordinator Mohamud Saleh said. Two vehicles were burnt in the early morning attack. … Former US Marine and security analyst Andrew Franklin said al-Shabaab has been threatening since March to disrupt the elections and they repeated the threat last week. News24

Historical Injustices Threaten Another Violent Kenya Vote
Kenyans again face the threat of violence as the highly competitive August 8 presidential election approaches, even as many who survived the deadliest period in the East African country’s history 10 years ago say they still haven’t found justice. Experts have warned that the government’s failure to address old wounds risks passing them along for generations with the potential for cycles of violence. More than 1 000 people died and 600 000 were evicted from their homes after what international observers called a flawed presidential election in 2007. … Though some changes have been made, Kenya has not reformed the police force, whose officers were found by the government to have killed more than 400 people in the 2007 unrest. News24

World Team Keeps an Eye on Critical Kenyan Polls
In excess of 5,000 election observers and hundreds of international journalists are in the country as the global community turns its eyes on the most competitive Kenyan election yet, due on Tuesday, August 8. On Thursday, the electoral agency Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it was swamped by requests for accreditation from more than 25 international groups to take part in the elections. Majority of countries with diplomatic relations with Kenya will also have delegations observing the polls that will pit the ruling Jubilee Party’s President Uhuru Kenyatta against his main rival Raila Odinga of the National Super Alliance (Nasa). With three days to the elections, IEBC said they had accredited more than 560 and were working round the clock to give the nod to thousands of applicants. The East African

Al Shabaab Militants Seize Town in South of Somalia: Residents
Somalia’s militant Islamist group al Shabaab seized a town in the south of the country early on Friday after it was abandoned by the military and African Union-mandated (AMISOM) peacekeepers, residents said. The town of Leego, which lies about 130 km (80 miles) to the northwest of the capital Mogadishu, is in Somalia’s lower Shabelle region where al Shabaab last week killed at least 12 peacekeepers in one of the deadliest attacks on AMISOM. Farah Ahmed, a resident of Leego, told Reuters AMISOM and Somali military forces had pulled out of the town early on Friday. “That same minute al Shabaab entered to control the town… The town is now calm and al Shabaab fighters are in every part of the town.” Reuters

US Confirms Airstrike Killed Al Shabaab Commander in Somalia
The U.S. military on Friday confirmed it killed a high-level commander of the al-Shabab extremist group with an airstrike in Somalia over the weekend, targeting a man blamed for planning deadly attacks in the capital of the Horn of Africa nation. … A U.S. Africa Command statement said the strike on July 30 killed Ali Mohamed Hussein, also known as Ali Jabal. The statement said he was “was responsible for leading al-Shabab forces operating in the Mogadishu and Banadiir regions in planning and executing attacks against the capital of Mogadishu.” Ali also had served as the extremist group’s shadow governor for Mogadishu and had been one of al-Shabab’s most outspoken officials. AP

Hunger Kills 17 People in South Sudan’s Wau State: Official
At least 17 people starved to death due to lack of food in South Sudan’s Wau state, an official said on Thursday. The commissioner of Besselia county in Wau state, Francis Ibrahim said much as the security has improved, those in remote of the county are still in danger of hunger due to the absence of humanitarian support. “The humanitarian situation is worsening and our people are starving to death. The violence which forced our people out of Wau town is deteriorating lives unless emergency relief sent to them,” he said. The commissioner said not only food was lacking, adding that the people too badly needed medical services due to their bad health. … The commissioner said civilians had not stored enough food since they left Wau town due to the violence that occurred between 2015 to 2017, while continuous violence in the area allegedly made it hard for government to offer assistance to civilians trapped in war. Sudan Tribune

Haftar to ‘Confront’ Foreign Ships in Libyan Seas
The commander of Libya’s self-styled national army has ordered his naval forces to confront any vessel entering the country’s waters without permission. The move by the renegade general, Khalifa Haftar, which was announced on Wednesday, comes after Italy instructed its navy to stop refugee boats heading to Europe from Libya. An Italian naval ship, Commandante Borsini, entered Libyan waters on Wednesday. Italy initially hoped to send six ships into Libyan waters but had to downsize the mission after objections from the administration in Tripoli. Haftar, who controls most of eastern Libya, said the order was applicable to bases in Benghazi, Ras Lanuf and Tobruk as well as the capital Tripoli, in the west, which he does not control. Al Jazeera

Sudan Urges Egypt to Convince Libya’s Haftar to Stop His Support to Darfur Rebels
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has called the Egyptian government to cooperate on ways to stop the support provided by some Libyan parties to the rebel groups from Darfur region. … Last May, Sudanese officials accused Egypt of providing armoured vehicles to two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement, one led by Minni Minnawi and the second by Nimir Abdel Rahman. The attackers came from Libya and South Sudan. However, in a complaint lodged at the UN Security Council, the government didn’t mention Egypt but pointed to Libya’s eastern commander Khalifa Haftar who is accused of using armed groups from Darfur in his efforts to control the troubled country. Sudan Tribune

US Approves $600 Million Sale of Attack Planes to Nigeria
The Trump administration has approved a $600 million sale of high-technology attack planes and equipment to Nigeria despite ongoing human rights concerns. The Pentagon said Thursday that the State Department had approved the sale and notified Congress, which has 30 days give its go-ahead. The deal includes 12 A-29 Super Tucano planes, which are described as light attack planes. The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the aircraft would support Nigerian military operations against Boko Haram and Islamic State terrorists and monitor drug, weapons and human trafficking. VOA

Germany Arms Niger against Traffickers and Terrorists
North Africa has been one of Germany’s primary focuses in recent years. It has nearly 1,000 soldiers stationed in Mali, where it helps train Mali’s army and police forces, and plays a major role in the United Nation’s most dangerous mission. It is also building military partnerships with other powers in the region. “Germany sees itself as a close partner of Niger and the entire Sahel region in the fight against terrorism, organized crime and human trafficking,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said during her visit to Niger on July 31 (Trumpet translation). Niger’s inadequate security has allowed terrorists and traffickers to flourish. It is on the main route for refugees to enter Europe. Thus Germany wants to arm Niger. An estimated 90 percent of all the refugees and migrants that landed in Libya traveled through Agadez, Niger. The Trumpet

UN Report Details Killings, Butchery in Congo This Year
U.N. human rights investigators have issued a new report documenting the killings of more than 250 people, including 62 children, in central Congo over three recent months that could turn into “wider ethnic cleansing.” The investigators based the report on interviews in June of 96 people who fled Congo’s Kasai provinces into neighboring Angola. It decried alleged violence involving a new militia, Bana Mura, backed by Congolese security officials. U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged Congo’s government to “act now to prevent such violence from tipping into wider ethnic cleansing.” AP

Ethiopia Lifts State of Emergency Imposed in October
Ethiopia’s government on Friday lifted a state of emergency imposed in October after hundreds of people were killed in anti-government protests demanding wider political freedoms. It was some of the country’s worst violence since the ruling party came to power in 1991. Lawmakers in the East African nation voted to end the emergency law that restricted a number of rights and led to the arrests of more than 21,000 people. It also hurt one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. More than 600 people were killed in nearly a year of protests that first ignited in the Oromia region and spread into the Amhara region and the capital, Addis Ababa. Demands included an end arbitrary arrests and respect for regional autonomy. AP

‘Fierce’ Critic of President Lungu Arrested in Zambia
Zambian authorities have reportedly arrested yet another opposition leader, who is a fierce critic of President Edgar Lungu, in the latest sign of a crackdown on dissent. Writing on his Facebook page Saviour Chishima, leader of the United Progressive People (UPP), said that he had been arrested and was being taken to the police headquarters in Lusaka. In a brief interview with News24 on Thursday, Zambian police spokesperson Esther Mwata confirmed Chishima’s arrest but failed to say on what charges the opposition leader was being held. Mwata said that the police were still interrogating the opposition leader before pressing any charges. News24



Photo: Adam Jones