Africa Media Review for August 8, 2017

Kenya Election 2017: Kenyatta Says Respect the Result
People are voting in Kenya’s general election amid fears that the result could trigger communal violence. President Uhuru Kenyatta called for unity, saying he would accept the result, and urged his rivals to do the same. He said Kenyans should “move forward as one nation”. Queues at polling stations formed early and some minor stampedes were reported. The contest pits Mr Kenyatta against his long-time rival, Raila Odinga, and is seen as too close to call. … Observers say the leading candidates both avoided inflammatory speeches as polling day drew closer. BBC

John Kerry, IGAD Happy with IEBC Preparations
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry says he is happy with the level of Kenya’s electoral body IEBC, preparedness ahead of tomorrow’s General Election. Mr Kerry, who is leading the Carter Centre Observer Delegation, on Monday said it was now up to Kenyans to vote for leaders of their choice. He said his delegation was hopeful for a peaceful atmosphere during the entire election period. … He said he was also impressed by the Judiciary and how it handled cases that arose from party primaries. … Earlier on, CJ Maraga met with the European Members of Parliament Election Observer Team, who also expressed confidence in the judiciary. Separately, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) has also said it is satisfied with IEBC’s preparations. The East African

‘Make Africa Proud,’ Mbeki, Mahama Tell Kenyans as Voting Begins
Two former presidents in charge of observer missions in the Kenyan elections have urged the country to make the continent proud by having successful elections. Former president Thabo Mbeki, who heads the African Union Elections Observer mission, said at a press conference on Monday afternoon he was so confident that Kenya’s elections would go well, that neither he nor former Ghanain president John Mahama, who heads the Commonwealth’s mission, would be getting on planes on August 9, the day after tomorrow’s elections. … Mbeki expressed confidence that things were in place for the elections to go well. “We are very pleased that the contestants in the elections have recognised that the success of the Kenyan elections is of great importance to Africa as a whole and have therefore promised not to disappoint the expectations of the peoples of our continent,” he said. News24

Kenya: Power Restored to Lamu County after Sabotage
Electricity was restored on Monday evening in Lamu County after sabotage by suspected Islamic extremists knocked out power to an estimated 100 000 people. Residents say the blackout lasted from 05:00 until 19:00. Dozens of Kenyan going home to vote in Lamu County, on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast, are being given military escorts following two suspected al-Shabaab attacks. Kenyan journalist Bernice Mbugua said on Monday the military had initially prevented vehicles from heading to Lamu because of fears that al-Shabaab militants, who have been operating in dense forest in the area, would attack vehicles. News24

14 Killed in Clashes between Police, DRC Religious Sect
Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo say at least 14 people are dead after clashes between police and suspected members of a religious sect that was behind a recent prison break. The violence broke out early on Monday in the capital of Kinshasa, where gunfire could be heard in several neighborhoods. Police blamed the fighting on the Bundu dia Mayala movement and police spokesperson Colonel Pierrot Mwanamputu said four of the sect members and eight others had been killed by stray bullets. Two others were killed in related violence in southwestern DRC. The sect’s leader Ne Mwanda Nsemi has a strong following in the southwest, where clashes with authorities left hundreds dead back in 2008. The leader has been on the run since he was freed in a prison break in May. News24

Congo Orders Internet Slowdown to Restrict Social Media: Telecoms Source
Congolese authorities ordered internet capacity be slowed down so that it cannot be used to transmit images via social media, a senior telecoms official based in Kinshasa said. The move comes as opposition is growing to President Joseph Kabila, who refused to step down when his mandate expires in December, with nationwide strikes planned for Tuesday and Wednesday. On Monday, clashes between Congolese security forces and anti-government sect Bundu dia Kongo killed at least 14 people. “In order to prevent the exchange of abusive images via social media by your subscribers, I ask you to … take technical measures to restrict to a minimum the capacity to transmit images,” post and telecoms chief regulator Oscar Manikunda Musata said in a signed letter seen by Reuters. He listed social media he wanted the measure to target, including Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter. Reuters

Drugged and Dragged into Conflict, Congolese Children Suffer ‘Terrible Abuse’
Children in conflict-ravaged central Democratic Republic of Congo are suffering “terrible acts of abuse,” having been forced into armed groups, drugged and dragged into violence, the United Nations said Monday, warning that their plight was rapidly worsening. Fighting between the army and a local militia in the Kasai region has uprooted more than 1.4 million people over the past year, including 850,000 children who are bearing the brunt of the violence, according to the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF). Children are prey to attacks, detention and sexual violence, as well as the threat of diseases and malnutrition, several aid agencies have told Reuters in recent weeks. … More than 3,300 people have been killed in Kasai since the start of an insurrection in August by the Kamuina Nsapu militia, which wants the withdrawal of military forces from the area. VOA

Gunmen Kidnap 16 from Bus near Nigeria’s Oil Hub
Gunmen abducted 16 people from a passenger bus near southern Nigeria’s oil city of Port Harcourt on Monday, witnesses told AFP. “They blocked the road and opened fire on the bus as it approached the Emohua area, thereby forcing the driver to a stop,” said witness Tamuno George. “There were 16 people including the driver.” A staff member of the company which operated the bus said the gunmen then marched the passengers into the bush. Police in Rivers state confirmed the incident, adding that a manhunt had been launched for the gunmen. … Kidnapping for ransom used to be common in Nigeria’s oil-rich south, where criminal gangs singled out the wealthy and expatriate workers in targeted or opportunistic attacks. But it has gradually spread across the country as its oil-dependent economy has imploded, to the extent that the Control Risks consultancy has said kidnapping for ransom is now “entrenched” countrywide. News24

UN Warns of Genocide in Central African Republic
The UN’s aid chief has alerted member states of the “early warning signs of genocide” amid increasing violence. The African nation has seen the worst sectarian violence since the overthrow of the government in 2013. The Central African Republic risks plunging deeper into a humanitarian crisis if the international community fails to respond to growing violence, said UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien on Monday. “Violence is intensifying, risking a repeat of the devastating destructive crisis that gripped the country four years ago,” O’Brien told a special UN briefing. “The early warning signs of genocide are there. We must act now.” Deutsche Welle

Somali Children Flee Al-Shabab Recruitment
More than 100 children fleeing areas controlled by al-Shabab militants in central Somalia have arrived in the coastal town of Adale, seeking the government’s protection, officials said. Adale is a key trading town in the Middle Shabelle region, 220 kilometers northeast of Mogadishu. In an interview with VOA Somali, the town’s district commissioner, Muse Mohamed Ahmed, said the fleeing children are resisting new al-Shabab recruitment campaigns. “Al-Shabab has a large number of old fighters, so they want to recruit children to bolster its ranks. They have started abducting children from local schools, and those who do not want to join them have decided to flee to the government-controlled areas,” Ahmed said. VOA

South Sudan: Rwandan Battalion of Regional Protection Force Arrives in Juba
The first battle of the Rwandan battalion which is part of the regional protection force (RPF) of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) arrived in Juba over the weekend, the UN mission said Tuesday. The head of the UN mission, David Shearer, said in a press conference in Juba today that 150 Rwandan soldiers have already arrived in the country and will join up with 100 Bangladeshi engineers. In August 2016, the United Nations Security Council following request by the East African regional bloc IGAD approved the deployment of 4,000-strong regional protection force to provide security in Juba. South Sudan’s government agreed after first rejecting the regional protection force as a breach of the country’s national sovereignty. Radio Tamazuj

South Africa’s Parliament Speaker Allows Secret Ballot in Zuma No-confidence Vote
The speaker of South Africa’s parliament ruled on Monday that a motion of no-confidence in President Jacob Zuma brought by opposition parties will be held through a secret ballot – a decision which increases the chances he will have to step down. The decision could embolden members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to vote against Zuma and puts him in a precarious position as he struggles to fend off opposition accusations of corruption and mismanaging the economy. If the motion succeeds, Zuma—in power since 2009—and his entire cabinet would have to step down. Reuters

Tanzania’s Magufuli Rejects Calls to Extend Rule beyond Two-term Limit
Tanzanian President John Magufuli on Monday rejected calls from some of his supporters to extend his rule beyond the constitutional limit of two, five-year terms, bucking a trend in the region. Several leaders including Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza have all tinkered with or defied their constitutions to extend their rule. “It’s impossible. I will respect the constitution,” Magufuli told a public rally in the coastal Tanzanian town of Tanga after a member of parliament from the ruling CCM party called for an extension of his rule to at least 20 years. “I have sworn to defend the constitution … I shall play my part and pass on the leadership reins to the next president when the time comes.” Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones