Africa Media Review for August 8, 2018

Zimbabwe Activists Go into Hiding as Security Crackdown Intensifies
Hundreds more activists have gone into hiding in Zimbabwe as security agencies intensify a crackdown launched shortly after the election 10 days ago. … Nelson Chamisa, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change leader, has said his party will challenge the “illegitimate and fraudulent” election in the courts. The poll was seen as a potential turning point for Zimbabwe, which desperately needs foreign investment to avoid economic breakdown. But hopes for dramatic and immediate change have been dashed by violence and alleged human rights abuses since the election. Tendai Biti, a senior MDC leader, was arrested at the country’s border with Zambia on Wednesday, while further reports of detentions of and assaults on activists emerged. Six people died last week when soldiers opened fire on MDC protesters in central Harare. According to dozens of testimonies gathered by the Guardian, security forces have since harassed hundreds of MDC leaders and activists, arbitrarily detaining and beating scores of people. At the weekend, soldiers moved through neighbourhoods of Harare and surrounding towns, targeting opposition supporters, smashing property and assaulting dozens of people. The Guardian

Zim: Lawyer Confirms Tendai Biti’s Arrest at Border
Senior Zimbabwean opposition figure Tendai Biti was arrested as he tried to flee to neighbouring Zambia to seek asylum, his lawyer said on Wednesday, allegedly on charges of inciting violence over the disputed election result. In last week’s vote, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Robert Mugabe’s former ally, narrowly retained power, but the opposition MDC party has accused the electoral authority of rigging the result. Supporters of the MDC took to the streets on August 1 to protest the alleged fraud, triggering a brutal response from the military which opened fire on the demonstrators leaving six people dead. The day before the protests – and before the final presidential results were announced – Biti held a press conference at the Movement for Democratic Change’s (MDC) headquarters in Harare claiming victory for the party. Biti, who also alleged electoral fraud, is a senior figure in the MDC alliance and was the respected finance minister in Zimbabwe’s troubled 2009-13 power-sharing government. News24

UN Chief Tells Zimbabwe’s Leaders to Resolve Election Crisis
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa during a telephone conversation that he must rein in his security forces after six people were killed in election violence, a UN spokesperson said on Tuesday. Guterres also spoke by phone with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to urge him to turn to the courts – and not the streets – if he plans to challenge Mnangagwa’s election victory. “In his two calls, the secretary-general made clear that he counted on the president of Zimbabwe to ensure that the security forces show maximum restraint,” said UN spokesperson Farhan Haq. “He also encouraged the opposition to pursue their electoral grievances through legal channels.” … The European Union, United States, Canada and Switzerland earlier issued a joint statement calling on Zimbabwe’s defence forces to act with restraint and protect human rights. AFP

All Eyes on Kabila as DRC Election Deadline Looms
The Democratic Republic of Congo was braced Wednesday for President Joseph Kabila to announce either a successor, or his own candidacy for elections in breach of a two-term limit. A church-backed group called the Lay Coordination Committee (CLC) and a pro-democracy group, Lucha, have called for protests across the country if Kabila says he will go for a third mandate. In central Africa, Angola is the only country where in 2016 a ruling president, Jose Eduardo do Santos, chose a successor, enabling a peaceful transfer of power after 38-years. Kabila’s ruling coalition, the Common Front for Congo (FCC), has officially until 1530 GMT to submit the name of their candidate to the electoral commission. Eight candidates including at least three from the opposition have already submitted their names. … A country of some 80 million people, the DRC has never known a peaceful government transition since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960. AFP

Ethiopian Army Takes over Somali Region Security
Ethiopian army has taken over the security of the volatile eastern Somali region after heavy fighting over the weekend left an unknown number of civilians dead and thousands displaced. The region’s president Abdi Mohamoud Omar, commonly known as Abdi Illey, was forced to resign on Monday and replaced by his finance minister Mr Ahmed Abdi Mohammed. According to state-owned ESTV website, Mr Abdi was arrested and flown to the capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday. … Following uprisings in the region, the army and the federal police were ordered to enter the region to maintain peace at the invitation of the Somali Regional Council, the government said. The deployment led to standoff between the federal forces and the region’s paramilitary Liyu police and sparked protests by residents in the regional capital Jigjiga and Dire Dawa. It is reported that dozens of people died. … The Somali region, also known as Ogaden, is the second-largest and has been bedevilled by conflict lasting two decades with the government fighting the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) that is seeking secession of the oil-rich region. The East African

Ethiopian Government Signs Deal with Oromo Rebels to End Hostilities
Ethiopia’s government has signed an agreement to end hostilities with the Oromo Liberation Front, which it had previously declared a terrorist movement, state television reported on Tuesday. The deal appeared another step in a drive by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to improve security and diplomatic relations, reform institutions and open parts of the state-controlled economy. Since the 1970s, the rebels have fought a low-level insurgency for self-determination for the Oromiya region, which is Ethiopia’s largest and home to the Oromo ethnic group. … On Tuesday, the government signed a reconciliation agreement to end hostilities with the OLF’s exiled leader Dawud Ibsa, who lives in exile in Asmara, the capital of neighbouring Eritrea, said Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel. “The agreement further states that … the OLF will conduct its political activities in Ethiopia through peaceful means,” he said on Twitter. The deal was signed in Asmara. Reuters

Many Cameroonians Skeptical as Elections Approach
In exactly two months, Cameroonians will be going to the polls to elect their president. 28 candidates are in the running, including 86-year-old incumbent Paul Biya, who has been in power for 36 years. He is Africa’s second longest serving leader after his neighbor Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea. But there are doubts inside and outside Cameroon that this election will be free and fair, especially in the Anglophone regions in the west, bordering Nigeria, which have been in turmoil for the past two years, when residents started to press their claims for more autonomy or even independence. According to the United Nations, 200,000 people have been internally displaced and 40,000 have sought refuge in neighboring countries. DW

Fears of Deja Vu as South Sudan Gives Peace Another Chance
Their rivalry has fuelled appalling bloodshed in South Sudan, yet now for a third time Salva Kiir and Riek Machar will try to share power in the latest bid to bring peace to the world’s youngest nation. A deal signed on Sunday between the rivals and other opposition parties under the mediation of Khartoum was welcomed with celebrations from the capital Juba to camps housing those displaced during five years of war. Observers warn of a long road littered with obstacles between that signature and a final peace deal with rebel leader Machar’s return from exile to Juba to serve as first vice president. Getting Machar and President Kiir to work together is a tricky business, for the combination has always resulted in chaos and conflict in the past. “It is going to be a real struggle because in meetings with President Kiir, he has made it pretty clear he didn’t want to work with Machar,” a diplomat based in Juba told AFP on condition of anonymity. “He has really had his arm twisted into accepting the deal again.” AFP

Al-Shabaab Serve as Double Agents in Govt—Former Security Spokesman
Al-Shabaab militants work within the Somali government as double agents, a former Security spokesman has sensationally claimed. In an interview with the respected US magazine Foreign Policy, Abdulaziz Ali Ibrahim who served as spokesman for Internal Security ministry until last month warned the infiltration had created serious problems in the war against Al-Shabaab. Ibrahim resigned last month following an Al-Shabaab attack on the Interior and Security headquarters in Mogadishu. “I have no doubt that al-Shabab have infiltrated the Federal Government of Somalia as double agents,” Abdulaziz Ali Ibrahim said. The admission which if it holds true casts a spell on the joint Somali government and international community’s efforts in stabilizing Somalia adds to concerns raised in the past on how Al-Shabaab fighters have been able to acquire police uniforms. In several attacks including last month’s deadly bombing at the Interior Ministry, the militants were clad in uniforms similar to the ones by Somali security forces enabling them elude several checkpoints. Goobjoog

UN Agencies Help More Somali Refugees Return from Yemen
The U.N. refugee and migration agencies have helped 116 Somali refugees return home from war-torn Yemen, although conditions in parts of Somalia remain unsafe. The boat, which sailed from Aden, Yemen on Saturday arrived in the port of Berbera in Somalia the day after. Among its passengers were female heads of households, several students hoping to resume their educations, and a critically ill patient traveling with his family. Since the so-called assisted spontaneous return program began in 2017, the U.N. refugee agency and International Organization for Migration have helped more than 2,000 Somali refugees return to their homes of origin. UNHCR spokesman William Spindler says the Somali refugees are living under precarious conditions and, like the Yemenis themselves, are not receiving adequate aid and protection. VOA

Italy to Provide Vessels to Libyan Coast Guard
Italian lawmakers have approved 10 new patrol boats and two larger ships for the Libyan coast guard, as part of measures by the populist government to control migration. News agency ANSA reported that the vessels, approved by the Senate on Monday, will be ready to deploy by the end of August. Human rights groups are increasing protesting against Libyan coast guard rescues, which land the migrants back in the largely lawless country deemed by the European Union not to be a safe haven. While even the previous government was supporting the Libyan coast guard’s efforts to patrol territorial waters, the new populist government has gone one step further, refusing ports to any migrants rescued at sea by humanitarian ships. AP

Latest Ebola Outbreak Is Zaire Strain, Vaccinations to Start: WHO
The Ebola outbreak in Congo is confirmed to be the Zaire strain of the virus and vaccinations of health workers may start as early as Wednesday, a senior official of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director for emergency preparedness and response, gave the results of genetic sequencing in a tweet saying that analysis showed it was a new outbreak in North Kivu province, adding: “We can start using rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine as early as tomorrow.” The experimental vaccine, which is manufactured by Merck, proved successful during its first wide-scale usage against an outbreak of Zaire virus on the other side of Congo in the northwest that was declared over less than two weeks ago after killing 33. Reuters

Nigeria: Rogue Security Forces Briefly Blockade Parliament
Police and security forces temporarily blockaded the entrance to Nigeria’s parliament on Tuesday, in what the presidency described as rogue action to take over the National Assembly. Hooded police and members of the Department of State Service (DSS) prevented lawmakers, journalists and legislative aides from entering the National Assembly for several hours. The incident happened as tensions flare between President Muhammadu Buhari and the opposition in a brewing political standoff ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections early next year. An aide to the Senate president posted videos on Twitter of the standoff in front of the parliament, describing the scene as a “legislative coup.” … Osinbajo is acting president while Buhari is out of the country on vacation. Osinbajo’s office later on Tuesday announced that the head of DSS, Lawal Musa Daura, had been sacked. … The apparent rogue action by security forces comes as members of Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) are seeking the removal of the Senate president, Bukola Saraki. Saraki, the country’s third-highest ranking politician, abandoned the APC and joined the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the last day before recess on July 24. DW

Most Gambians Approve of Their President, Gallup Poll Shows
Coming off more than two decades of authoritarian rule, roughly three-fourths of Gambians approve of new President Adama Barrow’s leadership and express confidence in the election process, a new Gallup poll finds. The poll was released Tuesday. … In a news release on the poll, Gallup pointed out that Gambia’s gross domestic product is less than $500 per capita, among the lowest of ECOWAS’ 15 members – and less than half that of Senegal, which surrounds the country on three sides. Yet Gambia’s living conditions are improving, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of respondents told Gallup. Gambians’ optimism about the standard of living was the highest among the dozen ECOWAS countries surveyed. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones