Africa Media Review for December 10, 2018

EU Prolongs Sanctions against Congo Ruling Party Candidate
The European Union has prolonged sanctions against Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s chosen successor just two weeks before a historic election in the resource-rich Central African country. EU headquarters said Monday that travel bans and asset freezes will be renewed for a year against Congo’s ruling party candidate Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary and 13 other people. Shadary was sanctioned by the EU last year for obstructing Congo’s electoral process and a crackdown against protesters angry over the long-delayed vote. The decision, taken by EU foreign ministers in Brussels, could be reviewed “in the light of and following” the elections, scheduled for Dec. 23. AP

Congo’s Kabila, as His 17-Year Presidency Ends, Says He May Run Again in 2023
Congo may be approaching its first peaceful, democratic transfer of power in nearly 60 years, but Joseph Kabila, who has been president for the last 17, refused to rule out a return to power once he becomes eligible again after sitting out a term. Elections are scheduled for Dec. 23, when this central African country of 80 million will elect its fifth leader since independence in 1960. The vote was delayed for more than two years, allowing Kabila to stay on well past a constitutionally mandated term limit. In August, Kabila announced he would step down and handpicked a candidate to succeed him. “In life, as a rule, one should never rule anything out,” Kabila, 47, said in an interview Sunday. He inherited the presidency at age 29 from his father, Laurent-Désiré, who was assassinated in 2001. Congolese opposition figures have raised fears that the elections will be rigged in favor of Kabila’s chosen successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, allowing the longtime president to continue his control over the country’s political apparatus, which includes lucrative state-owned mining companies. Congo is the world’s leading producer of cobalt, an essential component in many electronic devices.  The Washington Post

Militants Kill at Least 18 Civilians in Congo’s Ebola Zone
Suspected militiamen have killed at least 18 civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, near the epicentre of an Ebola outbreak, an army spokesman said on Friday. Repeated attacks by armed groups on civilians, Congolese soldiers and U.N. peacekeepers have hampered efforts to contain the epidemic, the second worst in history. So far, it is believed to have infected 471 people and killed 273 of them. Congo’s health ministry announced 13 new confirmed cases on Thursday, one of the highest one-day totals since the outbreak was declared in August. A local army spokesman, Captain Mak Hazukay, told Reuters the civilians were killed late on Thursday during two separate attacks near the town of Beni. Reuters

Army Colonel Arrested in Congo over Deaths of UN Experts
A Congolese army colonel has been arrested in connection with the killing of two UN sanctions monitors, becoming the first member of the security services to be detained over the case. Zaida Catalán, a Swede, and Michael Sharp, an American, were killed in March 2017 while investigating reports of atrocities during an armed conflict between government forces and the Kamuina Nsapu militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kasai region. Congolese authorities initially blamed the militia, arrested about 24 alleged fighters and charged them with involvement in the killings. The government later said it could not exclude the possibility that state agents were involved. Timothée Mukuntu, the prosecutor overseeing the case, told Reuters on Friday that Colonel Jean de Dieu Mambweni had been arrested but no formal charges had been filed. The Guardian

Rwanda Says Forces Clash with Rebels from Neighboring Congo
Rwanda’s army says its forces have fought and repelled suspected rebels who crossed into the country from neighboring Congo, killing four of them. Army spokesman Innocent Munyengango tells The Associated Press that the attack by suspected Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda occurred on Sunday in western Rubavu district. Munyengango says no Rwandan forces were killed. The mayor of Rubavu district tells local media that one resident was injured. The last attack by suspected FDLR members was in 2016 when several civilians were reportedly killed. Some FDLR leaders are linked to perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which more than 800,000 people were killed. They have been operating in Congo for nearly two decades. AP

Burundi Wants Special Regional Summit on ‘Conflict’ with Rwanda
Burundian President Pierre Nkuruziza is calling for a special regional summit on what he describes as an ‘open conflict’ with neighboring Rwanda. In a letter leaked on social networks and confirmed by AFP from sources within the presidency, Nkuruziza accused Rwanda of being the origin of the crisis that Burundi has been going through since April, 2015. The letter dated December 4 and addressed to Ugandan president and mediator in the Burundian crisis, Yoweri Museveni maintained that Rwanda recruited and supported Burundian refugees who then tried to destabilize Burundi. This desire to deal with the Burundian crisis at a regional level, is seen by observers as a leap forward. But a diplomat fears this development can have dire consequences in a very unstable region. AFP

Fifteen Civilians Killed in Ethnic Attack on Mali Village
Fifteen civilians from the Fulani community were killed last week when armed men from a rival ethnic group attacked their village in central Mali, a regional governor said on Saturday. Communal violence in the West African country has killed hundreds of civilians and displaced thousands this year, compounding a dire security situation in the north, where attacks by jihadist groups are common. Mali’s central Mopti region has suffered the worst of the ethnic clashes, according to the United Nations. Mopti Governor Sidi Alassane Toure said the latest attack was on Wednesday. Toure told state radio a disarmament programme launched last month in northern regions would be expanded to curb violence. “It will be launched in the coming days, and we dare to hope that all the bearers of arms will lay down their arms,” he said.  Reuters

E Guinea Army Chief-of-Staff Fired: Presidency
Equatorial Guinea’s army chief-of-staff, who was only appointed to the post in October, has been sacked by the president, state television has reported. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, who has ruled the oil-rich country with an iron fist for 39 years, fired Colonel Ruslan Hermes Nguema Oyana for “irregularities committed in the exercise of his functions,” said a presidential decree issued on Thursday evening. Obiang, 76, seized power in the small former Spanish colony in 1979 and has faced a string of coup attempts during nearly four decades in office. In January he fired four senior regime officials, including his grandson, on suspicion of collusion with a foiled December 2017 “coup”. Critics accuse him of brutal repression of opponents as well as election fraud and corruption. AFP

Cocaine Smugglers Could Cash In on Guinea-Bissau Political Feud
A political feud in the sleepy capital of Guinea-Bissau is threatening to push one of the world’s poorest countries back to being a haven for gangs smuggling cocaine into Europe and open the door to Islamist militants. Today the only sign of the crisis is an armored vehicle of African peacekeepers next to the Portuguese colonial palace home of President Jose Mario Vaz, who’s involved in a bitter power struggle with his own party, known as PAIGC, and has fired six prime ministers since he took power in 2014. Instability has wracked the West African nation since independence in 1974, and no president has finished his term since the first multi-party elections in 1994. Bloomberg

Sudan Government Officials Killed in Helicopter Crash
At least seven local government officials have been killed in a helicopter crash in Sudan’s eastern Gadarif state. The state’s governor and three security officials were among the dead, the country’s official news agency, SUNA, reported on Sunday. Governor Mirghani Salih was travelling from the city of Gadarif heading to Gallabat, Ashorooq TV reported. Both cities are in Gadarif. A number of people were also injured in the incident, SUNA said. The officials were carrying out a security tour of the province. Witnesses said the helicopter caught fire after hitting a communications tower as it tried to land in a field in Gadarif, which known for its farmland and agricultural projects.  Al Jazeera

Jihadism Entrenches Itself in Burkina Faso with Bullets and Bribes
Once-bustling markets are hushed, popular bars are shut and tourists no longer venture to local sights in areas threatened by the encroachment of armed Islamist insurgents in eastern and northern Burkina Faso. “Before, in the time of highway robbers, we managed better, but with the jihadists it’s really serious,” said Amadou Nassouri, who runs a struggling meat business in the eastern city of Fada N’Gourma. The city lies close to territory constantly harassed by jihadists, if not under their control. “Today there are areas where you don’t go (to graze your cattle). With the jihadist problem, nothing is okay,” he told AFP, saying the numbers shopping at local markets were down. “I find it hard to feed my family.”  AFP

Will Ethiopia’s Democratic Awakening Catch On Next Door in Eritrea?
About a mile from the Eritrean border in Zalambessa, Ethiopia, there’s a small building made of corrugated metal. There’s not much inside, except for some sleeping mats and clay pots for coffee. But dozens of Eritreans have made it into a home, while they wait for the Red Cross to take them to refugee camps. Over the past year, Ethiopia has stunned the world with its democratic reforms and warming relationship with neighboring Eritrea. The two countries have formally ended their 20-year conflict and reopened land crossings to allow people and goods to move freely between them. Now, a big question fills the air in the region: Will the dramatic transformation in Ethiopia spread to Eritrea, which is often referred to as the North Korea of Africa? Sirak, 17, came to Ethiopia from Eritrea more than a month after the border opened in September. He wants only his first name used because he is afraid Eritrean authorities could seek retribution for his actions or criticism. Now, he spends his time walking around Zalambessa, marveling at the lack of troops on the streets and the frankness of conversations. NPR

Togo Protests Turn Deadly after Government Crackdown
At least two people were killed in weekend clashes between security forces and protesters in Togo, with police firing tear gas and fighting running battles in the capital, Lome, and other cities across the country. A dead protester found in Lome had “an open wound in his left eye indicating a bullet entry,” the government said in a statement read on national television. The authorities said the victim was about 17 years old, but other reports suggested he was much younger. The iciLome news outlet said that the youth was a 12-year-old apprentice mechanic and that he was killed by the police. In turn, the government said that unidentified gunmen in a black SUV were firing in the area, adding that a search for the vehicle was underway. Another man was found with no bullet wounds, and both the government and the opposition coalition said there were unconfirmed reports of a third fatality.  Deutsche Welle

Vice President: Gabon’s Bongo Suffered a Stroke
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo, out of the country since falling ill in October, suffered a stroke, his vice president said, providing the first official details of his illness. The 59-year-old leader left hospital in Morocco earlier this month and is recovering at a private residence in the capital Rabat after weeks of silence about his condition. Vice President Pierre Claver Maganga Moussavou said Bongo had suffered a cerebrovascular accident or CVA, commonly known as a stroke. “Nobody should rejoice over the death or illness of another, those who have never known a CVA, pray to God that they never know one,” Moussavou said in a speech in Franceville in the south of the country on Saturday. “I would not wish it on anyone, not even my worst enemy.”  VOA

US Airstrike outside Somalia’s Capital Kills 4 Al-Shabab
The U.S. military says it has killed four members of the al-Shabab extremist group with a “self-defense airstrike” outside Somalia’s capital after partner forces were attacked. The U.S. Africa Command statement says the airstrike occurred on Saturday near Basra, a community outside the capital, Mogadishu. The statement says no civilians were involved. The U.S. military has carried out 39 airstrikes this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab, Africa’s most active Islamic extremist group, which controls parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to stage deadly attacks in Mogadishu and other cities. The U.S. airstrikes have picked up dramatically since President Donald Trump took office and approved expanded military operations in the Horn of Africa nation. Airstrikes also target a small presence of fighters linked to the Islamic State group. VOA

Somalia: MPs Submit Impeachment Motion against President
More than 92 members of the House of the People signed the motion against president Farmajo, accusing him of “breaching” the country’s provisional constitution and abuse of power. They said the president has signed secret deals with neighboring countries, Ethiopia and Eritrea in mid this year, without consultations with the national assembly and hidden from the public. The motion, the first against Farmajo since his election last year was handed over to the speaker of the parliament, Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman and no date has been set for the vote so far. The accusations leveled against Farmajo include violating extradition laws, abuse of Presidential powers, Federalism principles, Military, and penal laws as well as demolishing the already existing Federal Member States. This comes as Abdirahman, is currently at loggerheads with the top leaders over the way the government is handling Southwest State election and its direct interference in the Lower House. Garowe Online

More than 150 Governments to Adopt U.N. Migration Pact in Morocco
More than 150 countries will join a United Nations conference to adopt a global pact to better handle migrant flows, a senior U.N. official said on Sunday, less than the number that initially worked on the plan. In July, all 193 U.N. members except the United States finalized the so-called Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration to better handle migration. Since then, the text has come under fire from European politicians who say it could increase immigration. At least six European Union members – mostly in formerly Communist Eastern Europe – have shunned the accord U.N. Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour said more than 150 governments had registered for the event in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh set to adopt the accord on Monday, without giving details.  Reuters

Hunger, Lice, Filth: Moroccan Camp Shows Migrant Challenges
As Morocco prepares to host the signing of a landmark global migration agreement, hundreds of migrants are languishing in a Casablanca camp rife with hunger, misery, lice and filth. These sub-Saharan Africans who dream of going to Europe are a symbol of the problems world dignitaries are trying to address with the U.N.’s first migration compact, being finalized at a conference in Marrakech on Monday and Tuesday. Rising numbers of migrants live in the makeshift camp that sprung up on a soccer field near a busy Casablanca bus station, where they are bedded down under tents or shacks built from plastic and wood. Scant food, a lack of heat and no sanitation are the main worries at the Oulad Ziane camp, as lice and respiratory infections are becoming endemic. VOA

Egypt Lawyer Files Case to Change President’s 2-Term Limit
An Egyptian lawyer says he and others have filed a court case to force the parliament to start a debate on amending a constitutional clause that bars President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi from running for a third term in 2022. Ayman Abdel-Hakim Ramadan told The Associated Press on Saturday that a Cairo court will hold its first hearing on the case Dec. 23. Egypt’s constitution was adopted in 2014, after Sisi, as defense minister, led the military’s ouster of a freely elected but divisive Islamist president. Sisi was elected president later that year. This year, he won a second four-year term in office. He ran virtually unchallenged after authorities either jailed or intimidated potentially serious candidates out of the race. Ramadan says Sisi has overseen an “incredible” number of achievements since 2014. AP

Egypt Holds Joint Anti-Terror Military Exercises with African States
The Egyptian armed forces started on Sunday joint counterterrorism military exercises with African counterparts, the Egyptian army said in a statement. Sudan, Nigeria and Burkina Faso are the first group of states from the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) with which Egypt plans to hold joint drills. Held at Egypt’s Mohamed Naguib military base, the largest in the Middle East and Africa that is located in Egypt’s Mediterranean province of Matrouh, the joint exercises will last until Dec. 14. “It is the first time to be held in Egypt,” said Egyptian military spokesman Tamer al-Refaie in the statement, noting that the joint work aims at bolstering Egypt’s military relations with fellow African states and creating harmony among African special forces dealing with terrorist threats. Xinhua

Colonial and Apartheid-Era Laws Still Govern Press Freedom in Southern Africa
They came for her on her way home. Walking from the offices of her newspaper on 10 October 2018, Sylvanie Kiaku did not expect to be arrested by officers of the judicial police. Kiaku, the editor of the La Percée, also did not expect to be detained or charged with criminal defamation using a 1940 law originally written by the European colonizers of her country, Democratic Republic of the Congo. In early November, she was sentenced to three months imprisonment for two articles she published in September describing the lasting damage caused by a major Congolese bank’s failure to pay workers’ salaries for over 10 years. Kiaku’s sentence was suspended, but her prosecution is not unique. In recent months, at least two other Congolese journalists—Tharcisse Zongia and Peter Tiani—have been jailed on criminal defamation charges for their reporting, and across southern Africa colonial and apartheid era laws continue to be used to prosecute the press. Quartz

Africa Cocoa Industry Failing on Deforestation Pledge – Campaigners
The cocoa industry is failing to meet a highly publicised pledge to stop deforestation in west Africa and eliminate tainted beans from supply chains, environmental campaigners say. Big chocolate companies and the governments of Ghana and the Ivory Coast continue to be responsible for the deforestation of tens of thousands of hectares of land over the past year in former rainforest-covered nations, despite their solemn promises to end the practice last November, the campaigning organisation Mighty Earth said. Last year the Guardian investigated how the chocolate industry was driving deforestation on a devastating scale in Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s two biggest cocoa producers, including in supposedly protected “classified” forests and national parks. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones