Africa Media Review for December 16, 2019

Military’s Preferred Candidate Named Winner in Algeria Election
Sizable street protests in Algiers and other cities greeted the announcement on Friday that a former Algerian prime minister, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 74, had been elected the country’s new president in a much-contested vote the day before. Mr. Tebboune will succeed Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who ruled Algeria for 20 years before being chased out of power by popular protests in April. The protesters, who largely boycotted the election, said it meant little. The country’s real rulers were still the military, they said, and in particular the army chief of staff, Gen. Ahmed Gaïd Salah. Mr. Tebboune was seen as the military establishment’s preferred candidate. Demonstrators coursed through the streets of Algiers on Friday chanting, “We didn’t vote,” over and over. The official turnout in Thursday’s vote was a record low of around 40 percent. The actual turnout was likely far less as the vote was extremely low in the country’s major cities, including Algiers. One Paris-based Algerian analyst, Moussaab Hammoudi of the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, citing a contact in the upper ranks of the country’s bureaucracy, said the turnout was actually a fraction of the official number. The New York Times

Turkey Renews Military Pledge to Libya as Threat of Mediterranean War Grows
The threat of a military clash in the Mediterranean has drawn nearer following talks in which Turkey has underlined its willingness to send troops to Libya to defend the country’s UN-recognised government. Such a move would risk a direct military confrontation with General Khalifa Haftar, the eastern Libyan military warlord who is thought to be planning a decisive assault on the government of national accord in Tripoli, or GNA. Either the UAE or Egypt, which are supporting Haftar’s forces, might also become involved. Turkey, already at loggerheads with the US Congress and EU on multiple fronts, last week signed a military co-operation agreement with GNA that enables it to request troops from Turkey. The agreement, sent to the Turkish parliament on Saturday, provides for a so-called quick reaction force for police and military in Libya, as well as enhanced cooperation on intelligence and defence. … Ankara’s actions risk an anti-Turkish coalition forming comprising Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy. The Guardian

Militants Kill 22 in Eastern Congo despite Claims of Security Progress
Suspected Islamist militiamen killed at least 22 people overnight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said on Sunday, as the rebels kept up attacks on civilians despite government claims to have them on the defensive. Similar attacks have killed at least 179 civilians, researchers say, since the Congolese army launched an offensive on Oct. 30 against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group active in eastern Congo. In his State of the Nation address on Friday, Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said the campaign had “dismantled” nearly all of the ADF’s sanctuaries and that the rebels were turning to guerrilla tactics out of desperation. … The surge in violence has lead to deadly protests against the army and U.N. peacekeepers for failing to protect them. It has also complicated efforts to stamp out an Ebola outbreak in the area. Infections have started to rise in areas health workers have been unable to access because of insecurity. Reuters

Spike in Ebola Cases Alarms Health Officials in DRC
Health officials are investigating an alarming spike in Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with many blamed on a single individual who appears to have contracted the disease for a second time this year. Amid the struggle to bring the 16-month outbreak under control, the World Health Organization noted an almost 300% increase in cases in the last three weeks, with 17 of 27 linked to a single chain of transmission. According to officials, it appears to be the second time the person has been documented as suffering from Ebola in six months. An investigation is being held to understand the circumstances around the case. Ten cases were notified on Wednesday in Mabalako, North Kivu province, where the individual is believed to be from, after another six on Tuesday, according to officials who noted that three out of the six were practitioners of traditional medicine. The spike – and the worrying circumstances behind it – appears to buck a trend towards a declining number of cases, although security issues in the key zones of Beni, Biakato and Mangina had recently paralysed the response after violent attacks on health workers. The Guardian

Sudan’s Ousted Leader Is Sentenced to Two Years for Corruption
…[O]n Saturday, Mr. al-Bashir, 75, was convicted of money laundering and corruption and sentenced to two years in detention in a much-anticipated trial that was the first attempt by his own citizens to call him to account. … The judge, citing his age, ordered him to serve his time in a correctional center for older prisoners. … But Mr. al-Bashir could face even more serious charges related to his alleged abuses of human rights: He has already been accused of ordering the killing of pro-democracy protesters earlier this year, and was called to court this month over his role in the coup that brought him to power in 1989. … “Al-Bashir did a lot of crime in Sudan,” Mr. Yousif [a Sudanese artist who played a prominent role in the protests to oust Mr. al-Bashir] said. “I know he’s guilty and everyone knows that.” Yet trying Mr. al-Bashir only on corruption charges, and not for human-rights abuses, “doesn’t make sense,” Mr. Yousif said, and doesn’t amount to “real justice” for those he victimized. “No one is satisfied about that,” Mr. Yousif said. “The streets are awake and we are still in revolution.” The New York Times

Sudan Marks First Anniversary of ‘December Revolution’
On Friday, mass rallies were held in Khartoum and several other states across Sudan to mark the first anniversary of the December revolution under the slogan “All of its parts are our homeland.” Various activities were organised such as political forums, musical festivals, and commemoration of those who sacrificed their lives for change and freedom. The December revolution that put an end to 30 years of dictatorship is presumed to have started on December 13, 2018 in Ed Damazin and then spread all over Sudan. In Blue Nile state, a mass rally was held at Ed Damazin stadium with the participation of representatives of the Sudan Sovereign Council, the cabinet, and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC). Among the activities were political speeches, music, and debates. … From mid-December 2018, Sudan experienced a popular uprising called-out by the Sudanese Professionals Association and signatories to the Declaration of Freedom and Change, calling for the overthrow of the regime. Demonstrations were met with violent resistance from the government, however the sheer volume of public support resulted in the uprising reaching critical mass.

South Sudan Allocates $40M to Help Integrate Rival Forces
South Sudan’s government has allocated $40 million to speed up the integration of its soldiers with armed opposition fighters to create a unified national army as the country emerges from a five-year civil war. This comes amid face-to-face talks between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in the capital, Juba. Their talks continue Saturday on another key part of a peace deal that is yet to be resolved, the number of states. South Sudan’s government had pledged $100 million to help fund the peace process, and the $40 million is part of that. The international community has been pressing the rival sides to form a coalition government as a crucial part of the peace deal signed last year. A November deadline to form that government was extended to February. AP

Gambians Get behind a Movement to Hold Their Leader to His Word
The public backlash that Barrow is facing for failing to adhere to a memorandum of understanding by the coalition of parties that secured him the top job, spilled out on the streets of Banjul on 16 December 2019. Not long ago, speaking out against a president was dangerous business in The Gambia. Yet today many are determined to assert their right to hold Barrow accountable. The Gambia was thrown into a constitutional crisis in December 2016, after Barrow unexpectedly defeated Yahya Jammeh in presidential elections but the long-term strong man leader refused to step down. The dispute prompted the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), with the support of the United Nations, to prepare for a military intervention. Barrow and the coalition of several political parties and civil society groups for which he had stood as an independent candidate made a deal to end the crisis however and on January 19, 2017, Barrow with little political experience was sworn in as president in neighboring Senegal. Days later, Jammeh fled into exile and Barrow returned home. DW

Sources: Boko Haram Kill 19 Nigerian Herders in Clashes
Boko Haram jihadists gunned down 19 cattle herders Saturday in northeast Nigeria, civilian militia sources and residents told AFP on Sunday. Ethnic Fulani herders, besieged by a spate of armed attacks targeting their cattle, pursued Boko Haram, sparking a fierce gunfight outside Fuhe village, near Ngala close to the border with Cameroon. “The insurgents killed 19 of the herdsmen in the fight,” anti-jihadist militia leader Umar Kachalla told AFP. Bodies of the slain herders were brought to the police by militiamen, Kachalla said. The herders had earlier repelled an attack by Boko Haram fighters who invaded the village to steal livestock, killing one of the militants, Mada said. The herders then decided to pursue the jihadists and fight them “once and for all,” Mada said, but were overwhelmed. “The herdsmen were subdued by the better armed Boko Haram gunmen,” he said. … Boko Haram has increasingly targeted farmers, herders and loggers, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them. They have also been raiding herding communities, seizing cattle – a valuable commodity in the region – to fund their operations. AP

Armed Group Claims Killing 4 Humanitarian Hostages in Nigeria, Aid Organization Says
An armed group that kidnapped humanitarian workers in northeastern Nigeria five months ago has claimed it killed four hostages, international aid agency Action Against Hunger said on Friday. Six people were abducted in July near the town of Damasak, in the state of Borno, where Islamist insurgents operate. Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), which split from the militant group Boko Haram that began its insurgency in 2009, has become the dominant jihadist group in the region. The decade-long Islamist insurgency has caused the deaths of some 30,000 people and driven 2 million to flee their homes. Action Against Hunger said one of its employees, two drivers and three health ministry workers were abducted. In September it said one of the hostages had been killed. On Friday, the humanitarian agency said the group claimed to have killed four of the remaining five hostages. Reuters

Mali Turns to National Dialogue amid Rising Insecurity
Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta over the weekend launched an inclusive National Dialogue (DNI), in an attempt to fashion out non-military responses to the insecurity created by terrorist groups. Mali since 2012 has been ravaged by violence perpetrated by insurgents who analysts say have been emboldened by the lack of security in parts of the country. “I am delighted with the atmosphere created here so that both sides can exchange ideas, so that both can change each other and for us all to agree that diversity is our greatest wealth and unity our greatest interest,” the president said. Leader of a women’s group Korotoum Ballo for her part said: “This dialogue will allow the Malian state to emerge from the deep crisis it has been in for quite some years now… “… and we are pleading to all participants to give it their all and speak very sincerely about the country’s wounds to tell each other the truth with the greatest respect so that this country can experience lasting peace.” Africa News

Niger Fighting ‘Asymmetric War’ against Armed Groups: Analysts
Inates is located in an area where armed groups’ activity – mostly operating along the borders with Mali, Nigeria and Burkina Faso – has increased dramatically since early 2018. According to a military source, the assault on the Inates military garrison was “a cut and paste from similar attacks” claimed by the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in Mali. Created in 2015 by Adnan Abu Walid al Sahrawi, ISGS orchestrates attacks from the Menaka and Gao regions in Mali, counting on the collaboration of local fighters in the Nigerien borderlands of Tillabery and Tahoua. “In the north of the Tillabery region, where Inates lies, ISGS counts on local fighters cells that disappear among the population once an attack is done, so that when the military goes out for operations, they don’t find anyone,” Abdoul Azizou said. Protected by a barely one-metre-high (3.3 feet) clay fence, the garrison’s outpost was attacked with heavy mortar shelling, minutes after a surveillance drone was seen flying over the base. Al Jazeera

Report Accuses Malawi Police of Extrajudicial Killings
Malawian police have carried out extrajudicial killings in a systematic campaign against hardcore criminals dubbed “operation elimination”, according to a report released by a civil rights group. The report was released Friday in Blantyre, the commercial capital of the poor southeast African country, by the Centre for Human Rights Education, Advice and Assistance (CHREAA). The group’s deputy director Chikondi Chijozi said Sunday the report had been handed over to the country’s ombudsman Martha Chizuma for urgent action, but she said she had not yet received a copy. … According to the report, there have been reports in recent years of extrajudicial killings by the Malawi police of former prisoners and those suspected, charged, tried or convicted of serious violent crimes including armed robbery in a systematic plan to eliminate hardcore criminals. Chijozi told AFP that CHREAA conducted the study to investigate allegations of 43 alleged extrajudicial killings by the Malawi Police Service. AFP

Gabon Bans Gay Sex as Global Pace of Reform Falters
Gabon has passed a law against gay sex, becoming the 70th country to ban the practice, an official confirmed, as the global pace of reform falters. The central African country banned “sexual relations between people of the same sex” in a new penal code earlier this year, according to copies of the law online. A government official who declined to be named confirmed the change, which happened in July but was not widely reported. The minister of justice declined to comment. Davis Mac-Iyalla, an activist who monitors LGBT+ rights in West Africa, said he had spoken to two Gabonese men arrested under the new law who had to bribe police to be released. “It has further sent the LGBT community underground and has created harassment,” said Mac-Iyalla of the Ghana-based Interfaith Diversity Network of West Africa. “The corrupt police now use that, arrest people and then people have to bribe their way out.” Reuters

Zimbabwe Vice President’s Wife Arrested for Suspected Fraud, Money Laundering
Zimbabwean authorities arrested the wife of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga on charges of money laundering, fraud and violating exchange control regulations, the country’s anti Corruption Commission (ZACC) said on Sunday. Marry Mubaiwa was arrested on Saturday evening and will likely appear in court on Monday, ZACC spokesman John Makamure said. He declined to give further details. Mubaiwa could not be reached for comment on Sunday. Appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa this year, ZACC is under pressure to show that it can tackle high-level graft, which watchdog Transparency International estimates is costing the country $1 billion annually. An internal ZACC memorandum of the charges seen by Reuters showed that between October 2018 and May this year Mubaiwa is accused of unlawfully transferring $919,000 to South Africa under the guise of importing goods, which it claims she never did. The timing of Mubaiwa’s arrest will likely raise eyebrows after local private media reported two weeks ago that she was going through a divorce with her husband Chiwenga. Reuters

UN Calls on the World on First Ever Forum on Displaced People
The U.N. refugee agency’s new protection chief says a first-ever forum to bring together governments, civil society and business aims to drum up support for tens of millions of people displaced by war, violence, poverty, repression and other factors. Assistant High Commissioner Gillian Triggs of the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees says the “Global Refugee Forum” on December 16-18 in Geneva aims to “deal with the unprecedented numbers of refugees, displaced persons, stateless persons who are of concern to UNHCR.” “The idea of the forum, a global refugee forum, is to try to deal with the unprecedented numbers of refugees, displaced persons, stateless persons, who are of concern to UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). And the central idea is to share the burden, and the responsibilities, of this this vast and unprecedented number of people. This movement of people globally,” said Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Africa News

Women and Girls Are Joining Chad’s Internet Revolution
The internet revolution is coming – old news in much of the world but not in Chad, a tech laggard where women languish at the very back of the line when it comes to connectivity. With just 6.5 percent of the population online, the landlocked African nation of Chad has the sixth-lowest rate of internet usage in the world, according to the latest World Bank figures. Women are even more cut off than Chadian men as so few own phones, literacy rates are low, and cultural norms dictate that tech jobs go mostly to men, according to advocates. But since the emergence of a handful of tech hubs, coding classes and start-up accelerators in Ndjamena, women have started breaking into the field – and are now pushing hard to ensure others are not left behind. “Technology is something that will concern our whole lives,” said Aicha Adoum, 35, founder of a Chadian telecoms company that is working to expand internet access in the Central African country, where paved roads and electricity are rare. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones