Africa Media Review for December 13, 2016

West African Leaders to Ask Gambia’s Jammeh to Step Down
West African leaders will travel to Gambia on Tuesday in an effort to convince longtime President Yahya Jammeh to step down after his loss in the December 1 election. Jammeh initially conceded defeat to election winner Adama Barrow but withdrew his concession late Friday, saying “unacceptable errors” were found by election officials. Reports from West Africa Monday say Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will lead a delegation that will travel to the Gambian capital, Banjul, and ask Jammeh to accept the election result. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the delegation will include Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Sierra Leone leader Ernest Bai Koroma and outgoing Ghanaian President John Mahama. She said it is significant that Mahama is included because he conceded defeat on Friday after losing Ghana’s presidential election. VOA

Ghana’s New President Springs from Founding Fathers
Ghana will have a new president next month when Nana Akufo-Addo takes office following his victory in last week’s election. The new president has spent a lifetime immersed in the West African country’s politics. Akufo-Addo won the presidency of Ghana by pledging to fix the economy. Despite offshore oil production, the country has struggled with escalating debt, increasing corruption and high unemployment. “We have to recognize one thing. If we do not make a focused, systematic effort to change the nature of our economy, moving away from this raw material producing economy into an industrial value-added economy, we are never going to address the issues of poverty, of the higher incomes that we’re all looking for. We must make that consistent effort,” he said. VOA

EU Joins US in Sanctioning DR Congo Officials for Rights Violations
The United States on Monday imposed sanctions on members of Joseph Kabila’s inner circle for the first time, a week before the Congolese president’s mandate expires, to try to force the government to agree a compromise with opposition leaders. Earlier on Monday, the European Union imposed travel bans and asset freezes – its first – on seven security officials it says have violated human rights and helped disrupt elections. International powers fear that Kabila’s refusal to leave power on Dec. 19, as required by the constitution, could lead to widespread violence after anti-government protests in September, in which about 50 people were killed by security forces. France 24

Congolese IDPs in North Kivu face Bulengo Camp Closure
Democratic Republic of Congo – Fifty-year-old Marie Chantel Batende feels as though she is stuck between a volcanic rock and a hard place. Four years ago, she fled her home when M23 rebels raided her farming village in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) North Kivu province, making it to the Bulengo camp, an isolated and barren site for internally displaced people (IDP) where makeshift tents sit atop dark volcanic rock. Bulengo is more than 10km of unpaved, rock-filled roads away from the provincial capital, Goma. “I used to be more beautiful,” Batende , who now serves as Bulengo’s elected deputy president, told Al Jazeera in July. “The wars stole my beauty. It’s been a tough life.” Batende lives in Congo’s mineral-rich east, a region that has, for decades, been plagued by fighting between various rebel groups and the Congolese government. She has five children who, as a result of being separated from their father and other relatives due to the fighting, she has cared for on her own. Fighting and hardship have displaced Batende more times than she can remember. Al Jazeera

Kenya President Indicates Nairobi May Reconsider Its ICC Membership
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Monday the country will have to think seriously about its membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), signalling another African country may quit the embattled court. Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto have both faced charges at the ICC over their alleged roles in the deadly inter-ethnic violence after Kenya’s 2007 elections in which about 1,200 people died. Both cases collapsed due to insufficient evidence. Reuters

Ugandan King Charged with Terrorism
The king of a region in Uganda has been charged with terrorism at a hearing in the east of the country before a courtroom packed with royal supporters. Charles Mumbere was arrested last month after a government raid on his palace in which more than 80 people died. It is not clear whether the terrorism charges relate to the recent clashes or to existing charges he faced over the murder of a police officer in March. The king denies any involvement in the violence. Extra charges of aggravated robbery and attempted murder were also laid against him during the court hearing in the eastern town of Jinja, where he was remanded in custody until 28 December. BBC

Anger Grows Among Egypt’s Christians After Deadly Church Bombing in Cairo
President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi said Monday that a suicide bomber was responsible for an attack that killed 24 worshipers at Cairo’s Coptic cathedral complex during Sunday Mass, as outrage grew among Egypt’s Christian minority. Speaking to hundreds of mourners at a state funeral, Sissi said that the bomber wore a vest packed with explosives and that four people suspected of aiding him had been arrested. Security forces were looking for two people with possible links to the attack, he said. The country’s Interior Ministry described the bomber as a 22-year-old man from the town of Fayoum, 60 miles south of the capital, Cairo. It also released a picture of what it said was the bomber’s head. At least 49 people were wounded in the explosion at the Botrosiya Church, which is also known as the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The church is adjacent to St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic pope, Tawadros II. The Washington Post

Kenyatta Indicates Nairobi May Reconsider Its ICC Membership
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Monday the country will have to think seriously about its membership in the International Criminal Court (ICC), signalling another African country may quit the embattled court. Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, have both faced charges at the ICC over their alleged roles in the deadly inter-ethnic violence after Kenya’s 2007 elections in which about 1 200 people died. Both cases collapsed due to insufficient evidence. His announcement put new pressure on the world’s first permanent war crimes court, which has had to fight off allegations of pursuing a neo-colonial agenda in Africa. South Africa, Burundi and Gambia have officially notified the United Nations of their intent to pull out of the Rome Statute, the 1998 treaty establishing The Hague-based court. Those withdrawals will take effect in 2017. Mail and Guardian

Gabon Vote ‘Anomalies’ Leave Question over Result – EU Observers
Anomalies during Gabon’s disputed presidential election “call into question” the outcome of the August vote which saw Ali Bongo reelected, a final report by EU observers said on Monday. Bongo won by a slim margin of around 6 000 votes, sparking two days of rioting and protests that left at least three people dead and saw more than 800 arrested in the oil-rich central African nation. But his victory was roundly rejected by rival Jean Ping who demanded a recount in a move scotched by Gabon’s top court. At the time, the EU mission said it had observed “anomalies” during the vote count, notably in Bongo’s stronghold of Haut-Ogooue, and its doubts were confirmed in the observers’ report. News 24

EU Warns of Possible New Sanctions in South Sudan
The European Union says it stands ready to impose fresh sanctions against anyone who incites ethnic hatred, obstructs the peace process or stops the UN agencies from doing their work in South Sudan. EU foreign ministers said in a statement on Monday that they are “profoundly disturbed” by intensifying conflict five years after South Sudan gained independence. They called on the transitional government to protect civilians, and for all parties to respect international law and bring an end to human rights violations. The UN recently warned that South Sudan is at risk of genocide and that ethnic cleansing is being carried out in several parts of the country. News 24

UN Considers Arms Embargo on Juba Combatants
There are growing concerns of a genocide in South Sudan forcing the United Nations to consider imposing an arms embargo and sanctions to reduce the capacity of the warring factions. The affected region is Yei in Central Equatoria, where fighting has intensified between government forces and rebels, with humanitarian agencies reporting that close to 4,000 ethnic militia known as Matiang Anyor have been deployed to prepare for offensive. Yei in the last one month, has experienced targeted killings, rape and burning of houses, leaving thousands of families displaced. Some countries like Japan, China and Bangladesh have deployed additional peacekeepers to protect the population while President Salva Kiir’s government maintains that the military build-up in Yei is to dislodge rebels who are attacking the public. The East African

Kenya Urged to Resend Troops to South Sudan
Pressure is piling on Kenya to rescind its decision to withdraw from the South Sudan peace process as the United Nations and regional leaders reach out to other countries to contribute to regional protection force. The heads of state from the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) met on December 9 in Addis Ababa to identify the source of the 4,000 regional protection force that had been approved by the UN in August. Kenya was one of the three countries that had earlier volunteered to contribute troops besides Ethiopia and Rwanda, but President Uhuru Kenyatta early last month pulled out 1,165 troops within the UN Mission in South Sudan (Unmiss) protesting the sacking of force commander Lt-Gen Mogoa Kimani Ondieki. The East African

Japan’s Troops Ready to Use Force in South Sudan
Japan’s self-defense forces have been allowed to use firearms and other weapons in peacekeeping missions in South Sudan. According to Japanese television network NHK on Monday, a 350-member ground self-defense force unit has been granted new duties as a rescue squad in accordance with security legislation ratified in 2015. The bill allows the country’s military to fight in overseas missions and was a historic shift for the country’s pacifist constitution, established after the end of World War II. Japanese troops are currently responsible for monitoring the situation in South Sudan and when necessary to mobilize forces in conflict zones, according to the report. UPI

Nigeria: Govt In Secret Talks With Niger Delta Militants Despite Failure to Formally Name Negotiating Team
Despite its reluctance to officially set up a negotiating committee to hold talks with militants in the Niger Delta, the federal government has continued discreet talks with the belligerent groups in the region, THISDAY learnt yesterday. It was gathered that at least three meetings had taken place in the last few months between the militants and federal government emissaries coordinated by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Mohammed Moguno (rtd). The backroom discussions, which have incorporated other smaller aggrieved groups, are continuing, it was learnt, just as there is growing anxiety among elders and leaders in the region over the inability of the government at the centre to formally name its team of negotiators about six weeks after their meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. All the meetings between the agitators and the office of the NSA, THISDAY was informed, took place in Abuja, after the Joint Task Force (JTF), a special security outfit fighting militancy in the area, cleared and certified the various groups which have attacked oil installations since the beginning of the year. This Day Live

Nigeria: Why Defence Chief is Stepping Down — Presidency
The presidency has denied a news report that President Muhammad Buhari has approved the replacement of Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, as Service Chiefs. Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said the report was “not completely true”. He however admitted that the defence chief was stepping down. ” The newspaper, rather than rush to print an unsubstantiated story, would have done better to confirm the information at its disposal, from many available military and government information channels. It then would have avoided the self-inflicted wound of publishing a one-legged story that is not completely true, and damaging its brand in the process. “Gen Olonisakin is due to retire from the Army next week, having satisfied the official number of years in service. He is yet to be replaced. But the Chief of Naval Staff has a short while more, and President Buhari could, therefore, not have approved his replacement yet.” VOA

Dip in Nigeria’s Currency a Blow to Ecowas Agenda
The depreciation of the naira and economic challenges affecting member states have stalled Ecowas integration and the adoption of a single regional currency, Eko. According to the out-going Ecowas Macroeconomic Policy Committee chairperson, Ms Ommy Sar Ndaiye, the member-states need to develop strategies to address the prevailing economic challenges The committee met last week in Abuja, Nigeria where the integration and the adoption of a single currency were the focal issues. Although the commission had made progress in its macroeconomic policies, Ms Ndaiye noted that the depreciation of the naira and a downturn in other states had greatly affected the bloc. “We all know that whatever happens in Nigeria weighs heavily on our economies. “If there are challenges there, it would reflect on the region,” she said. The East African

Libya: Limited Progress at Cairo Meeting with Communiqué Due Tomorrow
Egypt today attempted to edge forward a solution to the Libyan political crisis when it invited leading players to a meeting in Cairo. However after eight hours of talks, Egyptian foreign ministry organisers said that a communiqué would be prepared at a separate meeting tomorrow morning. According to one source quoted by Alwasat there was general agreement that the Libyan Political Agreement hammered out a year ago in Morocco’s Skirhat resort remained the only option on the table. However it seems clear that part of the discussion looked at possible changes to the LPA which when it was first produced was said to be immutable. Last week UNSMIL chief Martin Kobler told the UN Security Council that the agreement was “not written in stone”. Libya Herald

Grace Mugabe Under Fire over ‘Disgusting’ $1.4m Diamond Ring
Zimbabwe opposition parties have reportedly slammed First Lady Grace Mugabe over her love for an “extravagant” life after it emerged last week that she had purchase a diamond ring worth $1.4m through a Lebanese dealer Jamal Ahmed. Grace made headlines on Friday, with reports saying that the deal came to light after she demanded a refund, which she allegedly wanted paid to her in Dubai. The diamond ring had been meant to be President Robert Mugabe’s wedding anniversary present to her. The year 2016 marked the 20th anniversary of the Mugabes’ wedding. Following the botched deal, Ahmed had dragged the first lady to court, accusing her of occupying three of his properties in Zimbabwe. News 24

Abolishing Nairobi County: The Lessons from Kampala
A Bill seeking to place Nairobi under the national government is the latest attempt to streamline the city’s management and is reflective of a country trying to balance politics with service delivery. The Bill, sponsored by the Senate Deputy Speaker Kembi Gitura, proposes an amendment to the Constitution to abolish Nairobi County and create a “National Capital City known as Nairobi, which shall be the seat of the national government.” Under the proposed law, the president would have the powers to nominate a Cabinet secretary, with the approval of the National Assembly, to head the city. According to Mr Gitura, the intention of the Bill is to have the city managed in a “seamless manner.” He adds: “More than 60 per cent of the country’s economic activity happens within this city. We need to have proper control of it, and manage it like Washington, Abuja and Delhi.” Washington DC is run by an elected mayor, thirteen-member council and the United States Congress. The Congress exercises all legislative power over the capital. The East African

2016 African Person of the Year: Pastor Evan Mawarire
The most subversive political protest of 2016 started with a Facebook video. The quality is terrible: grainy and skew, with Pastor Evan Mawarire’s face partially cut off, his eyes obscured by the reflection of the overhead light on his glasses. It doesn’t matter. Mawarire wasn’t making cinema. He was making history. The 39-year-old – a professional MC in the week, a pastor at the weekend – was frustrated. Despite working himself to the bone, he still didn’t have enough money to pay his children’s school fees, and he knew why: a dysfunctional political system that punished ordinary, hard-working Zimbabweans, while enriching a tiny corrupt elite. Mawarire had had enough. He decided to do something about it. In a moment that changed his life – and, potentially, that of millions of Zimbabweans – Mawarire propped his camera phone on the desk in front of him, and slung a Zimbabwean flag around his neck. For the next four minutes, he spoke with emotion and eloquence about how the ideals represented by that flag had been twisted and mangled by the powers-that-be, and how it was time to reclaim those ideals. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones