Africa Media Review for August 9, 2018

Congo’s Kabila Will Not Stand for Election in December
Congo’s President Joseph Kabila will not stand in the election scheduled for December, a spokesman said, finally agreeing to obey a two-term limit but picking a hard-core loyalist under European Union sanctions to stand instead. The announcement on Wednesday by spokesman Lambert Mende that former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary would represent Kabila’s ruling coalition in the Dec. 23 vote came just hours before the deadline to register candidates. “We are all going to align behind (him),” Mende said. Kabila was due to step down in 2016 at the end of his constitutional mandate, but the election to replace him was repeatedly delayed. That sparked protests in which the security forces killed dozens of people, and stoked militia violence in Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile east. Reuters

Shadary: Loyal Hardliner and Anointed Successor of DR Congo’s Kabila
[…] Shadary rose to the fore in December 2017, when Kabila bolstered his power by his ally Deputy Prime Minister and interior minister, as well as permanent secretary of the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) – a post Kabila created specifically for Shadary. Barred from seeking a third term under DR Congo’s constitution, Kabila has been in power since he succeeded his father Laurent-Désiré Kabila when the latter was assassinated in 2001. Among political allies, Shadary calls himself “Mr coup on top of coup”. In his online biography, he insists that this nickname comes from his days studying social and political sciences at the University of Lubumbashi in the 1980s. However, in an article last March, news magazine Jeune Afrique traced the nickname to the Congolese government’s violent repression of anti-Kabila demonstrations in December 2017 and January 2018, in which several protesters were killed. France 24

Zimbabwe Opposition Figure Deported from Zambia after Asylum Bid Rejected, Despite Court
Order

Senior Zimbabwean opposition official Tendai Biti has been deported from Zambia in defiance of a court order after being refused asylum, his Zambian lawyer said Thursday, as fears grew about a government crackdown after Zimbabwe’s disputed election. Zambian border guards handed Biti to Zimbabwean authorities on Thursday morning despite the Zambian court order saying he should not be deported until it could hear his appeal, Gilbert Phiri told The Associated Press. Biti was being driven back to the capital, Harare. “Zambian authorities acted in defiance of our courts, in defiance of regional and international law,” Phiri said. Zambia’s foreign minister on Wednesday said Biti’s reasons for seeking asylum “did not have merit.” Biti’s plight has raised concerns about a wave of repression against the opposition by the government of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who narrowly won last week’s election. It comes as the opposition prepares to launch a legal challenge to last week’s voting results, calling them fraudulent. AP

US Africa Envoy ‘Deeply Troubled’ by Zimbabwe
The United States’ top diplomat for Africa says he is “deeply troubled by credible reports that opposition supporters are being targeted by members of the Zimbabwean security forces” and that senior opposition official Tendai Biti has fled the country. Tibor Nagy, assistant secretary of state for African affairs, in a series of posts on Twitter says he strongly urges authorities in neighboring Zambia to allow Biti to stay there until his asylum request can be “appropriately evaluated” or allow him safe passage to a third country. Zambia’s foreign minister says the reasons Biti gave for seeking asylum “did not have merit, so he is being held in safe custody and we are trying to take him back to Zimbabwe.” AP

South Sudan’s President Grants Amnesty to Machar, All Rebels
South Sudan’s president has granted amnesty to armed opposition leader Riek Machar and all rebel groups days after signing a power-sharing agreement in the latest effort to end a five-year civil war. The South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation reported the announcement by President Salva Kiir. As part of the power-sharing deal, Kiir will remain president and Machar will return to the country as the first vice president, one of five vice presidents. A similar agreement fell apart in July 2016 as fighting erupted and Machar fled the country. AP

Mali’s Constitutional Court Confirms Runoff Vote on Sunday
Mali’s constitutional court has released the final results of the July 29 presidential election, confirming that the West African nation will vote in a second round on Sunday between the incumbent president and main opposition leader. The court says President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita received 41.7 percent of the vote, while Soumaila Cisse received 17.7 percent. The two also faced off in 2013. The court says it has registered more than 10 requests from the opposition over various anomalies in the first round, but most were declared inadmissible because of timing. France 24

Ivory Coast’s Ex-First Lady, along with Hundreds of Others, Granted Amnesty
On Monday, one day before Ivory Coast celebrated 58 years of independence, the West African country’s leader announced that he is granting liberty of another kind to hundreds of Ivorians. In a nationally televised address President Alassane Ouattara declared amnesty for some 800 people involved in the bloodshed that followed the 2010 election — including one of the country’s most notorious convicts, its former first lady Simone Gbagbo. The wife of former President Laurent Gbagbo, Simone was serving a 20-year sentence for supporting her husband’s bloody campaign to keep power after losing that election. The defeated strongman’s efforts lasted about six months — until his capture, side by side with Simone, put an end to a conflict that claimed at least 3,000 lives and left others maimed or raped. NPR

US Ups Reward for Info on Al-Qaida Leaders in Africa Attacks
The United States is doubling rewards for al-Qaida leaders charged for their roles in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa. The State Department said Wednesday the reward for information leading to the location, arrest or conviction of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah (ahb-DUHL-lah AH-mehd ahb-DUHL-lah) and (SAFE el-AH-duhl) is now $10 million, up from $5 million offered since 2000. The two leaders were charged by a federal grand jury for the 1998 attacks that killed more than 250 people, including 12 Americans and injuring nearly 5,000 others. Tuesday marked 20 years since the bombings, the first major al-Qaida attack on U.S. AP

East Libya “Army” Wants Syria-Like Russian Intervention in Libya “to Eliminate Foreign Players”
Spokesperson of Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled army, Ahmed Al-Mismari, has requested a Russian intervention in Libya similar to the one in Syria “to get rid of foreign players in the country.” Speaking to Sputnik, Al-Mismari said Libya’s situations need Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s personal intervention “to directly eliminate foreign players in Libya such as Qatar, Turkey and Italy.” “We are very confident that Russia is a superpower and its words will be heard if it holds talks with Italy, Turkey and Qatar or other countries such as Sudan, regarding the smuggling of terrorists into Libya,” he said. Al-Mismari claimed that Russia’s intervention in Syria was successful; adding that its role in eliminating foreign players there was “prominent.” The Libya Observer

In Africa, Mystery Murders Put Spotlight on Kremlin’s Reach
[…] Russia under Mr. Putin has pushed hard to regain a presence in lost territory, asserting itself not only in former Soviet lands like Ukraine but also farther afield in Syria and now Africa, where, during the Cold War, Moscow and the West supported opposing sides in conflicts from the Horn of Africa to Mozambique and Angola. Moscow’s expanding diplomatic, and sometimes military, footprint has also been seen in other African nations, including Sudan, whose leader, Omar al-Bashir, has been ostracized by the West but embraced by the Kremlin. In November, he proposed to Mr. Putin that Moscow build a military base on Sudan’s Red Sea coast. “Russia takes Africa without a fight,” proclaimed a recent analysis of Russia’s strategy in Africa by Ria Novosti, a state news agency in Moscow. The three journalists, whose funerals were held in Moscow on Tuesday, died in what seems to have been a targeted attack while driving after sundown near Sibut, a town 115 miles north of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, and where, according to a recent United Nations report, Russian military “instructors” have been deployed to support the impoverished republic’s security forces. The New York Times

Did Morocco Let More Migrants Make Dangerous Spain Crossing?
Morocco may have relaxed migration controls into Europe as leverage in key negotiations with Brussels, it’s been claimed. The country, 14 kilometres from Andalucía, is in fresh focus after its northern neighbour Spain emerged as the busiest route into the EU for migrants. Experts say while they cannot be certain, there are suspicions border checks were eased ahead of negotiations on a fisheries agreement and how much Brussels should give Rabat for helping protect the EU’s external border. It’s controversial because the sea crossing to Spain can be deadly — 293 migrants are feared to have perished in the first six months of this year alone. Euronews

Nigerian Presidency Condemns “Unauthorised” Parliamentary Blockade
A blockade of Nigeria’s parliament on Tuesday by security forces that prevented lawmakers from entering for up to an hour was done without the presidency’s knowledge, said the acting president who sacked the head of the security agency. Armed men wearing the black uniform of the Department of State Security (DSS) stood at the gates of the building in the capital Abuja and were later joined by police officers, witnesses said. Images of the blockade were shared widely on social media. A spokesman for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said in comments on Twitter that DSS head Lawal Musa Daura had been fired. Osinbajo is acting president for Muhammadu Buhari, who is out of the country on holiday. Reuters

In Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea, UAE Lends a Helping Hand
When the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea embraced in Asmara last month, promising to end the two-decade-old state of war between their two countries, it looked like a sudden breakthrough. But the rapprochement was, in fact, the culmination of a year of back-channel talks, sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. One of the drivers behind that process was the United States, which has been a major player in the Horn of Africa for decades. More surprising was the role played by a much smaller nation: the United Arab Emirates. The oil-rich Gulf state has gained increasing influence in the region in recent years, according to UAE and Ethiopian officials and diplomats. Reuters

Ex-President of Ethiopia’s Somali Region Arrested, Flown to Addis Ababa
Former president of Ethiopia’s Somali regional state, Mahamoud Omar, a.k.a. Abdi Illey, is being held under federal custody barely twenty-four hours after he resigned his post. “Officials from Ethiopia’s Somali region told the Ethiopian Somali region media that Abdi Mahmud Omar who resigned yesterday [6 August] as a governor, was arrested by Ethiopia’s federal military,” the state-run ESTV website reported. “Officials from the Somali region in Ethiopia have confirmed to us reports of the arrest of Abdi Mahmud Omar,” the report added. Privately-owned Addis Standard added that the former leader and top military officials had been rounded up by federal forces deployed on Monday on request of the Somali regional authorities. They are due in the capital Addis Ababa. Africa News

Kenya, Tanzania Mark 20 Years since US Embassy Bombings
Kenyans and Tanzanians on Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary of the al-Qaida bombings of the U.S. embassies in their countries that killed more than 250 people, with hundreds of local survivors calling on the U.S. government for compensation. The explosions on Aug. 7, 1998, were the first major al-Qaida attack on U.S. targets. Nearly 5,000 people were injured. The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec, said the extremists wanted to cause a rift between Kenyans and Americans but failed. “Their immediate purpose was to kill and destroy, but they had more in mind. They sought to divide us, to divide friends … to undermine the values we hold dear, to destroy civilization itself and to replace it with a nightmare of oppression,” Godec said. AP

Congo Turmoil Means Ebola Vaccinators Will Need Armed Escorts, Experts Warn
Armed escorts will be required to protect vaccination teams as they battle to contain Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organization has warned. The Ebola outbreak area in North Kivu province, classified as a level four security threat by the WHO – one of the highest set by the UN – comes amid local unrest including violence between rival militia groups. The turmoil poses major challenges for those tasked with locating and vaccinating people who may have come into contact with Ebola victims. “Even though we have access to the towns of Mangini and Beni, we don’t know to what extent we will be able to rely on armed escorts for broader contact tracing outside those small towns. That’s going to be a critical determining factor in our ability to respond,” said spokesman Tarik Jasarevic. The Guardian

Angola to Host Peace and Security Summit on August 14
Seven heads of state from Central and Southern Africa, including Congolese Denis Sassou N’Guesso, will take part in a summit meeting on peace and security in these two sub-regions of the continent on August 14 in Luanda (Angola), the Congolese presidency announced on Wednesday.The information was given by Angola’s Minister of Foreign Relations, Manuel Domingos Augusto, who, during an audience with the Congolese president, sent him a verbal invitation from his Angolan counterpart, Joäo Lourenço, the Presidency noted. APA News

With a Positive Spin, Chinese News Outlets Cover Africa
In Rwanda, a Chinese-owned garment factory provides jobs to hundreds of local workers. In Ethiopia, a Chinese-built railway makes life easier for business owners and travelers. In Zambia, a Chinese-funded television project will bring satellite TV to 500 villages. Each of these stories, published by Xinhua, China’s state-run news organization, typifies the country’s coverage of Africa. Rather than focus on corruption or disasters, China’s news about Africa emphasizes positive angles, especially when it comes to the Communist Party’s deepening involvement across the continent. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones