Africa Media Review for December 12, 2016

In Reversal, Gambian President Rejects Loss And Calls For New Election
After publicly conceding electoral defeat last week, President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia has reversed course and is calling for a new election. Jammeh has ruled the tiny West African country since seizing power in a coup in 1994, and his public concession to President-elect Adama Barrow on Dec. 2 led to hopes of the first peaceful transition of power in Gambia since it became independent from the U.K. in 1965. On Friday, Jammeh said the Independent Electoral Commission made errors in vote tallies. “In the same way that I accepted faithfully the results, believing that the IEC was independent and honest and reliable, I hereby reject the results in totality,” Jammeh said in a televised speech. He also said there were other irregularities and problems in the electoral process. “Our investigations reveal that in some cases, voters were told that the opposition has already won and there was no need for them to vote,” Jammeh said. NPR

Gambia Election Chief Stand by Yahya Jammeh Defeat
The Gambia’s elections commission head has dismissed President Yahya Jammeh’s call to annul the election he was declared to have lost. Mr Jammeh said on state television on Saturday that he rejected the result and his party announced they will file a petition to the Supreme Court. Elections head Alieu Momarr Njai told Reuters that “if it goes to court, we can prove every vote cast”. Gambians use marbles instead of ballot papers to cast votes.  BBC

Soldiers in Gambia Streets Amid Peaceful Transition Calls
Soldiers stood watch on streets in Gambia’s capital and surrounding area on Sunday, as most residents went about ordinary life despite worries after their longtime leader said he would not accept election results that would force him to step down after 22 years in power. International and regional bodies and governments joined together in calls over the weekend for a peaceful transition in the tiny West African country of about 1.9 million people that is almost completely surrounded by Senegal. Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh initially conceded defeat after Gambians voted in president-elect Adama Barrow on Dec. 1. However on Friday Jammeh announced that he no longer accepted the election results and called for another vote, saying there were irregularities. Jammeh’s ruling APRC party said late Saturday that it will follow up Jammeh’s rejection of the election results by filing a petition to the Supreme Court. By law, election results can be contested up to 10 days after the vote. AP on The Washington Post

Gambia Refuses Entry to ECOWAS Head Amid Election Dispute
Gambian authorities have refused entry to the chair of regional body ECOWAS, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Senegal’s foreign minister said on Saturday, dampening hopes for a political solution after President Yahya Jammeh rejected the results of elections that he lost on Dec. 1.  Jammeh on Friday called for another election in the tiny West African country after narrowly losing to opposition leader Adama Barrow. He had already conceded defeat publicly last week. The announcement on state television threw Gambia’s future into doubt after the unexpected election result ended Jammeh’s 22-year rule and was widely seen as a moment of democratic hope. The streets of Banjul were calm on Saturday, although some residents said they were staying at home for fear of violence. Reuters

AU to Jammeh: Hand over Power
The African Union (AU) has described as “null and void” the rejection of the results of Gambia’s December 1 presidential election by long serving leader Yahya Jammeh. The AU Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, instead urged President Jammeh to facilitate a peaceful transfer of power to the poll victor, Mr Adama Barrow. “The chairperson of the commission strongly urges President Yahya Jammeh to facilitate a peaceful and orderly transition and transfer of power to the new president of The Gambia,” Dr Dlamini-Zuma said. She called on all parties in The Gambia to “comply with the rule of law” and that the AU’s Peace and Security Council would discuss the matter urgently”. The East African

Bombing at Egypt’s Main Coptic Christian Cathedral Kills 25
In the rubble outside Egypt’s main Coptic Christian church late Sunday, a crowd held a candlelight vigil for the 25 worshipers killed in a bombing at St. Mark’s Cathedral earlier in the day. The explosion in a chapel adjacent to the cathedral left pews overturned, the floor bloody, strewn with glass and other debris, according to images posted online. “She died a martyr,” Monika Athnasious Botros wrote on Facebook, posting a photo of her elderly mother and, hours later, a photo of the victims’ body bags at a nearby hospital. She said the bodies had been left on the floor due to a lack of space in the morgue. She and other Coptic Christians blamed the government for failing them. The church attack was the second bombing to hit Cairo in recent days. On Friday, the militant Islamic Hasm group claimed responsibility for a blast at a police checkpoint on the road leading to the Pyramids that killed six officers. La Times

How Egypt’s Copts Fell Out of Love with President Sisi
When the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted by a military coup in July 2013, the country’s Coptic Christians rejoiced. They saw General Abdel Fatah El-Sisi, who initiated Morsi’s removal and later became Egypt’s new president, as a savior. Bishoy Armanious, a 30-year-old electrical engineer from a suburb of Cairo, was among El-Sisi’s biggest fans. Together with thousands of Egyptians, he took it to the streets in support of the general. “We had been praying for change to happen,” Bishoy muses. “El-Sisi saved Egypt from the nothingness Morsi was leading us to.” In the early days after Morsi’s ouster, many Copts shared Bishoy’s conviction. Some, like Coptic priest Makary Younan, even claimed El-Sisi had been “sent from heaven.” But Sisi’s failure to address longstanding injustices has prompted disillusionment. Many Copts now feel that the president has failed to deliver on the promise of equality he made three years ago. In a sign of mounting discontent, protests amongst the Christian community have swollen in recent months to an unprecedented degree. Once regarded as a pillar of support for the regime, Copts now constitute a growing challenge for the government in Cairo. Foreign Policy

Ghana Election: Opposition Leader Akufo-Addo Declared Winner 
Ghana’s opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo has won Wednesday’s tightly contested presidential election. President John Mahama called Mr Akufo-Addo to admit defeat, a spokesman for his party said, as the Electoral Commission announced the result. Mr Akufo-Addo has promised free high-school education and more factories but critics have questioned the viability of his ambitions. Celebrations have broken out in the capital, Accra. Ghana has been a multi-party democracy since the end of military rule in 1992 and this result is seen as reinforcing its reputation for the peaceful transfer of power between administrations. BBC

With Election Defeat, Ghana’s President Becomes Casualty of Faltering Economy
In an election that became a referendum on Ghana’s faltering economy, Nana Akufo-Addo, a leader of the opposition, surfaced Friday as the winner over the incumbent president, John Mahama. Mr. Akufo-Addo, a lawyer and former foreign minister, rode a wave of popular discontent at a time when the growth rate has plummeted along with oil and commodity prices. The West African country, which produces oil, gold and cocoa, has endured a currency crisis, electricity shortages, and took a $918 million bailout from the International Monetary Fund last year in the face of mounting debt. The weight of those economic woes proved an insurmountable hurdle for Mr. Mahama, who ascended from the vice presidency in 2012 following the death of his predecessor, John Atta Mills. Mr. Akufo-Addo won 53.9 percent of the roughly 11 million votes cast compared with 44.4 percent for Mr. Mahama, Ghana’s electoral commission announced Friday night. The New York Times

How Ghana’s Opposition Won the Election’s Data Duel
It sounded like the denouement of Ghana’s nine-month-long political drama. At 2:00 this morning, Joy FM, one of most popular radio stations in Accra, announced that opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo had won the presidential election with 53% of the votes against incumbent John Mahama on 45.2%. The radio station based its call on results from 218 of the country’s 275 constituencies. Cheers erupted in the campaign team for the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), which had been urging the radio station to call the election. In fact, Joy was the last of the big radio stations in the capital to announce that Akufo-Addo had built an insurmountable lead in the elections that ended on 7 December. After looking at the data, Joy’s top journalists and analysts concluded that it was now “mathematically impossible” for Mahama to win the elections. The Africa Report

Nigerian Church Collapse Kills at Least 160 Worshippers – Reports
The roof of a church collapsed on to worshippers in southern Nigeria, killing at least 160 people with the toll likely to rise, according to a hospital director. Mortuaries in the city of Uyo are overflowing after the incident, Etete Peters, medical director of the University of Uyo teaching hospital, told the Associated Press. The Reigners Bible Church International was still under construction and workers had been rushing to finish it in time for Saturday’s ceremony to ordain its founder, Akan Weeks, as a bishop, congregants said. Hundreds of people, including the Akwa Ibom state governor, Udom Emmanuel, were inside the building when metal girders fell on to worshippers and the corrugated iron roof caved in. Emmanuel and Weeks escaped unhurt. The Guardian

Two Young Girls ‘Around Seven of Eight’ Blow Themselves Up Near Nigerian Market
Two girls thought to be around seven or eight years old blew themselves up in a crowded area near a market in Nigeria, killing one person and wounding 18, officials have said. The double suicide attack in Maiduguri was not immediately claimed, but bore the hallmark of Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group which has been waging an insurgency to establish an Islamic State in the country. One bomber appeared no older than seven and the second about eight years old, Abdulkadir Jabo, a civilian self-defense fighter who stopped them from going into the market told the Associated Press. The Independent

20 Killed in Blast Near Mogadishu Port
A massive truck bomb exploded outside Mogadishu’s new seaport Sunday morning, killing at least 20 people and wounding dozens others. The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the blast, which occurred in a parking lot near the entrance to Mogadishu’s port, causing massive damage to the surrounding areas. Mogadishu residents said the blast could be heard across the city, and pictures of black smoke from the scene were circulated on social media. Abdifitah Omar Halane, Mogadishu’s regional administration spokesman told VOA’s Somali Service that most of the victims were civilians. VOA

Dos Santos Leaves, the MPLA stays – But Not All Will Remain the Same in Angola
Last week, state media in Angola announced that President José Eduardo dos Santos would step down from office before the presidential election in August 2017. It is difficult to overstate the significance of this announcement. Dos Santos has ruled Angola for 37 years, becoming Africa’s longest-serving leader in the process. It is almost impossible to imagine what the country looks like without him at the helm. Already, the governing Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) has moved to anoint a successor, choosing defence minister João Lourenço as its presidential candidate. Given the nature of Angola’s political system, in which the MPLA enjoys a near-unassailable majority, this means that Lourenço will be the next president – and Dos Santos’s long rule will be over. So what does this mean for Angola? Will a new face at the top usher in a period of transformative change? Or are the networks of power, patronage and corruption in Angola too entrenched to allow for better governance? Mail and Guardian

EU, Mali Sign Deal to Return Migrants
The European Union on Sunday signed an agreement with the Malian government aimed at enabling the return of migrants who have reached Europe’s shores, and whose asylum requests have been refused. “It is the first time the EU establishes such a precise mechanism with an African country with regards to returning failed asylum seekers,” said a statement from the Dutch foreign ministry, which signed the agreement on the EU’s behalf. The accord seeks to fight “the root causes of illegal migration” and to “enable the return from Europe of Malian migrants”, the statement said. News 24

Kenya Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills More Than 30
More than 30 people have died after a fuel tanker crashed into other vehicles and burst into flames outside the town of Naivasha in Kenya, officials have said. “At 5:00 am local time, the death toll was 33, but the search is still on,” Pius Masai of Kenya’s National Disaster Unit said early on Sunday. He added that rescuers were continuing to comb the area for bodies. According to Masai, over 11 vehicles burned when the tanker rammed into others on the road and caught fire. Kenya’s Red Cross said the driver had lost control of the fuel tanker, which then crashed into other vehicles and “burst into flames”. A passenger minibus and a police truck were among the vehicles gutted by the ferocious flames. Al Jazeera

IGAD Condemns Targeted Killings in South Sudan, Deplores Hate Speech
The intergovernmental authority on development Authority (IGAD) has expressed disappointment at the targeted killings in South Sudan, forcing its member states to condemn in the strongest terms. IGAD heads of states and governments held a two day meeting in Addis Ababa on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 where they discussed the implementation of the South Sudanese peace agreement, and the delay of presidential election in Somalia. The summit, according to the communique, was chaired by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn and attended by the heads of state of Sudan, Djibouti, South Sudan and Somalia. Kenya and Uganda were represented by Foreign ministers. The regional leaders, according to the communique, expressed disappointed and “condemned sexual violence on women and girls and expresses deep concern with the rising ethnic rhetoric, hate speech and ethnically-fueled violence,”. Sudan Tribune

Algerian Journalist Dies During Hunger Strike Against Prison Sentence
A lawyer says an Algerian journalist on a hunger strike to protest a two-year sentence for offending President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has died in a hospital in the capital. Journalist Mohamed Tamalt died Sunday after falling into a coma following months of a hunger strike, his lawyer Amine Sidhoum told The Associated Press. Amnesty International, which had called for the release of the 41-year-old Tamalt, asked Algerian authorities in a statement to “launch an independent, in-depth and transparent inquiry” into his death. Tamalt was arrested in his Algiers home in June. He was convicted of “harming the institutions of the republic” and “offending” Bouteflika following critical pieces posted on his Facebook page. He was transferred to an Algiers hospital in August after going on a hunger strike. France 24

The poor are more vulnerable to bribery in Africa. Here’s why.
New research finds that in Africa, the poor are more likely to pay bribes than those who are well off. But shouldn’t we expect that officials seeking bribes wouldn’t target poor people because they don’t have much money? Caryn Peiffer and Richard Rose, authors of the recent study (ungated), show that the poor are more likely to pay bribes because they are more vulnerable to bribery. They argue that poor people are vulnerable because they rely on the government for public services. Peiffer and Rose’s study corroborate results from an earlier study by Mogens Justesen and Christian Bjørnskov. Justesen and Bjørnskov found that poor people were almost three times as likely to pay bribes compared to wealthier people. In the same study, Justesen and Bjørnskov also found that poverty increases the frequency with which Africans face demands for bribes in return for obtaining services from government officials. The Washington Post

To Fight Poverty in Africa, a New-old Solution: Cash Handouts
[…] for many in the humanitarian world, countries like Lesotho raise a question that is both breathtakingly simple and nearly impossible to answer: How do you actually make poor people less poor? Shake a stick anywhere in Africa, and you’re bound to bump into someone trying to figure that out, whether it’s an NGO doling out pregnant goats to Ugandan villagers, a wheezing Mercedes truck carrying sacks of USAID-sponsored grain into eastern Sierra Leone, or Madagascan government officials negotiating with Asian garment makers to build massive textile factories inside their borders. But over the past decade, a far simpler approach has also gained traction on the continent, pushed by a growing crowd of governments, NGOs, and researchers. They argue that the best way to make the poor less poor is just to give them the very thing they don’t have enough of. Money. CS Monitor

Google and Facebook do Battle for Africa’s Web
Africa’s internet users are benefiting from the fact that two of the world’s biggest tech companies are using their considerable means to compete over Africa’s internet users. Facebook’s Internet.org initiative, launched in 2013, is in the pole position, controlling access to the web through its Free Basics platform. This has stung search giant Google to fight back and get more Africans on the open web, or risk losing its role as the internet’s main search tool. Both powerhouses have grasped the huge potential the continent’s 1.2 billion audience presents for increased advertising revenue and growth in new users. Using old and new technologies, the giants are playing it out undersea, on land and in the skies to secure a piece of the African connectivity pie. Facebook opened its first African office in South Africa in 2015 and has a substantial footprint on continent. According to 2015 statistics released by the social network, 60% of all internet users in Africa were active Facebook users. The Africa Report

 



Photo: Adam Jones