Africa Media Review for August 7, 2018

Zimbabwe Opposition Fears Growing Post-Election Crackdown
Zimbabwe authorities are abducting opposition activists and launching court cases to suppress protests, the opposition MDC party said on Monday, despite the president’s boast of introducing new freedoms to criticise his government. Since the knife-edge election result was declared early on Friday, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) say they have been the target of a brutal crackdown that exposes President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s claims to respect rights and halt repression. Mnangagwa has blamed the MDC for fomenting post-vote unrest, but he has also vowed to usher in a more open Zimbabwe than under Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule that ended last year. Last week, six people died after troops in the capital Harare opened fire at protests against alleged election fraud, sparking an international outcry and raising grim memories of the Mugabe era. “It’s getting dicier by the day, we know the security forces are looking for 4 000 individuals,” opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda told AFP, citing state media reports. AFP

Rights Group Says Zimbabwean Soldiers Beating up Opposition
Human Rights Watch says Zimbabwean security forces and unidentified gunmen have beaten and harassed dozens of people in a crackdown on the political opposition following a disputed election. The international rights group said Tuesday that it had documented “numerous cases” of soldiers beating up people in some Harare bars and restaurants and accusing them of undermining President Emmerson Mnangagwa because most votes in the Zimbabwean capital went to the opposition. The government denies the allegations. AP

Zimbabwean Opposition Readies Legal Challenge to Election
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party will make a statement on Tuesday about its plans to challenge the country’s election results in the courts, though it believes the judicial system is biased against it, a party spokesperson said. Nkululeko Sibanda, an official in the Movement for Democratic Change party, also charged on Monday that security forces are acting with a “sense of impunity” in alleged raids on the homes of opposition supporters. Some MDC members are in hiding and “a large number” are “unaccounted for,” Sibanda said. He did not say exactly how many people might be missing, and could not confirm whether they were in custody or had temporarily left their homes to hide. News24

Zimbabwe President Rules out Coalition Government with Opposition
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has ruled out forming a coalition government, despite his narrow win in last week’s presidential election. The opposition is gearing up to challenge the official results in court. In a television broadcast, Mnangagwa ruled out forming a coalition government with Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance. The two locked horns in the July 30 presidential election with Mnangagwa winning a slim victory with 50.8 percent of the vote, according to official results. Asked by Sky television whether he would form a coalition government given his narrow victory, the 75-year-old politician pointed out his ZANU-PF party won firm control of parliament. … “Not that it’s a bad idea, but it doesn’t show that there is any need … Those who voted against me, those who voted for me, we say Zimbabwe is ours together let’s move on. The best argument, the best vision, the best ideas have taken the day.” Opposition leader Chamisa has refused to accept results given by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and accused it of rigging the July 30 polls for ZANU-PF. VOA

Suspicion of Vote Fraud Revives Mali’s Ethnic Tensions
The first round of voting in Mali’s presidential election gave outgoing President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita a conclusive lead over his rival — but unresolved anger and finger-pointing over the results have highlighted some of the country’s divisions. Eighteen of the 24 candidates in the election joined forces Monday to demand the resignation of the minister of territorial administration and decentralisation, Mohamed Ag Erlaf. They accused him of being to blame for an “electoral robbery” and urged people in the capital Bamako to rally on Tuesday. Keita won 41.42 percent of votes in the July 29 presidential poll in the sprawling west African nation, easily ahead of opposition leader Soumaila Cisse, in second place with 17.8 percent. They will face each other in a runoff vote next Sunday. Sources in Cisse’s entourage on Sunday said they had filed a case at the Constitutional Court over alleged “ballot-box stuffing, breach of electoral law and irregularities”. France24

Ethiopian Troops Clash with Somali Regional Police Force
Ethiopian troops have clashed with a local police force in the restive Somali region, with the defence ministry saying it will “take the necessary measures” to restore order. Witnesses say the fighting on Saturday in the regional capital of Jigjiga led to the burning of two churches and the destruction of several dozen businesses. It is not immediately clear what set off the clashes. Government officials were not available for comment. The Ogaden National Liberation Front, which has fought to “liberate” the Somali region, alleges that the fighting “resulted in loss of life.” The organisation calls on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to halt the military’s activities and initiate peaceful dialogue. The regional police force known as the Liyu has been criticised by Human Rights Watch of being involved in torture. AP

South Sudanese Say Hope Peace Deal Helps Revive Economy
A peace deal in South Sudan has revived hope not just that the guns will stop firing but that economic stability can return. Since war broke out in 2013, tens of thousands of people have been killed, a third of the population has fled their homes and the economy, which depends on oil, has been ruined. On Sunday President Salva Kiir and his former vice president turned rebel leader Riek Machar signed a ceasefire and power-sharing agreement in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. Previous deals have failed to end the conflict and residents of the capital, Juba, said they are desperate for this one to succeed. … A 2015 peace deal briefly halted the fighting but fell apart after Machar returned to the capital the following year. Other such deals also failed. Kiir said last week the new peace mediated by Sudan and east African nations would hold because it was not imposed by outsiders and other deals had failed because of external pressure. Some smaller opposition groups say they doubt the new deal because it does not allocate power fairly. Reuters

Another Opposition Group Distances Itself from South Sudan Governance Deal
The National Salvation Front (NAS) which is part of the opposition umbrella South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) Monday distanced itself from the agreement on outstanding issues of governance. SSOA leader Gabriel Changson Chang and SPLM-FDs leading member Deng Alor on Sunday signed the governance deal with President Salva Kiir and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar after a meeting with the IGAD leaders where they were informed that the talks will continue in Khartoum and they can continue to discuss their concerns with the Sudanese mediation. … In a statement issued on 2 August, NAS regretted that the initialled governance deal does not meet its aspiration for a strong federal system. “The current governance proposal prioritizes power-sharing over devolution of powers, strengthens and further entrenches the current rotten system in Juba rather than transforming it and defers the question of federalism to a permanent constitution-making process that the parties cannot guarantee when this will eventually happen,” stressed the statement of 2 August. The opposition group in its statement of 6 August also condemned the intimidation exercised on the opposition groups by the Sudanese mediation to bring them to ink the governance deal on Sunday, without elaborating. Sudan Tribune

Five Police Killed in Strife-Torn Anglophone Cameroon
Five police have been killed in fresh violence in western Cameroon, where English-speaking separatists have declared an independent state, security sources and witnesses said on Monday. Four gendarmes were killed in Esu, a village near the town of Wum in Northwest Region, when their unit came under attack on Sunday, a source close to the regional security services said. “The attack happened in the morning – they were new recruits who were caught off-guard,” the source said, adding that there also were wounded. The inhabitants of Esu fled after the attack, one of them said. “Many people were so afraid that they went off into the bush – others are trying to get to Bamenda,” the capital of Northwest Region, the source said. News24

Cameroon’s 2nd Largest Employer Losing Workers to Conflict
Cameroon’s second largest employer, the Cameroon Development Corporation, says it may be forced to downsize because thousands of workers have fled fighting between security forces and separatists seeking an independent English-speaking state. The atmosphere is quiet at the workers’ residential area of the Cameroon Development Corporation in Illoani, a village of about 5,000 people. But it’s not a holiday. Many workers at the CDC, a state-run agro-industrial company in the English-speaking southwest, have simply fled. Armed separatists seeking an independent English-speaking state in April killed a Cameroonian soldier in the area. The attack touched off sporadic clashes that have since led thousands of villagers to flee the area, including more than 2,000 of the CDC’s 20,000 workers. VOA

Three Burundi Soldiers Killed in Ambush: Police
At least three Burundian soldiers were killed and five others injured in an attack outside of the capital Bujumbura at the weekend, police and media sources said on Monday. According to SOS Medias Burundi, a collective of independent journalists, an army truck was ambushed on Sunday night in the town of Gihanga, 15km from the capital. “A truck with about a dozen soldiers on board was ambushed by an unidentified armed group while on their way to an army position in Rukoko,” a police source confirmed on condition of anonymity. “Three soldiers were killed on the spot and five others were injured, three of them seriously.” The region lies alongside a swampy area bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Hutu National Forces of Liberation rebels are known to be active. AFP

Fears in DRC That President Joseph Kabila Will Run for Third Term
Presidential hopefuls in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have until Wednesday to file their candidacy with the electoral commission ahead of an election in December. The Congolese people are waiting to see if President Joseph Kabila will submit his documents to run again. He is barred by the Constitution from running for a third term but has not openly declared his intentions. Former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba has submitted his candidacy to the electoral commission. He returned to his home country after being acquitted of war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands, where he spent 10 years in prison pending his trial. Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi reports from Kinshasa. Al Jazeera

Ivory Coast’s Ouattara Grants Amnesty to Wife of Ex-Leader Gbagbo
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara on Monday declared an amnesty for Simone Gbagbo, who had been convicted of offences against the state during a brief 2011 civil war. Simone Gbagbo, the wife of former president Laurent Gbagbo, was one of 800 citizens that Ouattara said he had pardoned, in a state address broadcast live on TV. She had been tried and convicted in 2015 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Last year, an Abidjan court acquitted her of crimes against humanity and war crimes linked to her role in the 2011 civil war that killed about 3,000 people. Human Rights groups criticised that decision. “Because of my commitment to peace and true reconciliation, I proceeded to sign this day an amnesty order … which will benefit 800 of our citizens,” Ouattara said in the address that seemed to be aimed at cooling political tensions. Reuters

West Africa to Put in Place National Security Strategies
Several representatives of West African countries, supported by the African Center for Strategic Studies and the United States, began Monday in Dakar consultations for the establishment of a national strategy taking into account the specificities of each of their states. “Elaborating and implementing a national security strategy is key to achieving a country’s security goals. This workshop will examine several issues including the link between the formulation of the National Strategy for Security and Strategic Leadership, resource management, consideration of civilian control and the need for external partnerships” Dr Tulinabo Mushingi, the US Ambassador in Senegal observed. The US diplomat, speaking at the opening of the workshop on developing a national security strategy for West Africa, acknowledged that security challenges “are not homogenous in the West African” For example, Mr. Mushingi emphasized that “a team effort that requires the cooperation of many agencies” is crucial to ensure that security strategies are successful. At the end of this high-level workshop that will end on August 10, each country must be able “to establish its security priorities and a coping plan,” said Tulinabo Mushingi who has, in addition, put a special emphasis on the need for “realism” in the expected strategies. Journal du Cameroon

Kenyan President Kenyatta to Visit White House
The White House announced Monday that Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta would visit August 27. Kenyatta will meet with President Trump to discuss “ways to bolster trade and investment between the two countries, while strengthening security cooperation,” according to a White House statement. In June, a U.S. delegation that included undersecretary for Commerce Gilbert Kaplan visited Kenya to attend the inaugural American Chamber of Commerce meeting. Kenyatta attended that gathering. Kaplan told VOA economic development in Africa would benefit the U.S. economy, and that the U.S. was providing resources to fight corruption in the Kenyan economy. “We can convince Kenya that following those [corruption] rules is ultimately to their benefit because it brings more businessmen and women into the system and being able to be successful,” he said. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones