Africa Media Review for December 19, 2017

Cyril Ramaphosa Chosen to Lead South Africa’s Ruling ANC Party
Cyril Ramaphosa, an anti-apartheid activist turned tycoon and politician, has been chosen by the African National Congress as its leader for the next five years. The battle to lead South Africa’s ruling party, which has been in power for 23 years but has been hit by declining support and a series of scandals, remained on a knife edge to the last minute. Almost 5,000 delegates voted in an internal party election at a conference centre in Johannesburg. Ramaphosa won with 2,440 votes to 2,261 for his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. The delegates’ choice will almost certainly determine the next president of South Africa, due to be decided in an election in 2019, and the trajectory of the “rainbow nation” for decades to come. The Guardian

Awkward Start for Ramaphosa Puts Balance of Power in the Hands of Pending NEC Election
Cyril Ramaphosa is the ANC’s 13th president of a Top Six leadership that, on the surface, appears to boost unity, but might ultimately hinder the fight against State Capture. The 80 additional members to be elected to the national executive committee in the next day or two will be even more important now. Daily Maverick

Eight Al-Shabab Militants Killed in US Airstrike
A U.S. airstrike in southern Somalia on Friday killed eight al-Qaida-linked militants, U.S. Africa Command announced Monday. The strike against al-Shabab militants about 30 miles northwest of the coastal city Kismayo also destroyed a vehicle, according to an AFRICOM statement. The strike was the United States’ 33rd in Somalia in 2017, primarily targeting al-Shabab fighters as well as a small contingent of Islamic State-linked militants. It marks a dramatic increase over the 14 airstrikes that U.S. forces conducted in the east African nation in 2016, which marked the busiest year for the U.S. military during former President Barack Obama’s administration. “U.S forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measure to protect U.S. citizens and to disable terrorist threats,” according to the AFRICOM statement. Stars and Stripes

Somalia: Former Presidential Candidate Arrested
Somali security forces have arrested a former presidential candidate Abdirahman Abdishakur in a raid on his home in Mogadishu, the security minister told reporters on Monday. The raid began late on Sunday night at around 11.00 p.m (2000GMT), according to Mohamed Abukar Islow “Dualle”. “Security [forces] attacked a house suspected of preparing for criminal acts, including treason, and destruction of governance. It is prohibited for a citizen to serve foreign interests against the existence of the Somali government,” the security minister said in a statement. Anadolu Agency

New Initiative to Urge Peace for South Sudan
A new effort aimed at reviving the failed South Sudanese Peace process was launched in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Monday. The High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) for the South Sudan Peace Agreement was presided by the current chairman of the 8-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Speaking at the forum, Desalegn urged the South Sudanese political stakeholders to open up to dialogue, hammer out a negotiated settlement, and set the peace agreement in motion so as to end the suffering of their people. Festus Mogae, the chairman of the African Union’s Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), which was set up to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement, said at a precursor meeting on Sunday that there remained a need for a complete cessation of hostilities between the warring parties if the revitalization of the peace agreement were to bear any fruit. Anadolu Agency

Anti-Kabila Protest Due Tuesday as DRC Tensions Mount
The opposition in the Democratic Republic of Congo ramped up pressure on President Joseph Kabila to quit, calling for street protests on Tuesday. Tensions have been mounting over Kabila’s refusal to step down. He has been in power since 2001 and the prolonged rule has led to sweeping protests and a bloody crackdown. The opposition has said it wants a transition “without Kabila” in the Democratic Republic of Congo after December 31, in line with a peace agreement reached on New Year’s Eve last year. “The protest set for Tuesday will proceed,” Augustin Kabuya, the spokesperson for the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress told AFP. AFP

Cameroon Separatists Kill 4 Gendarmes as Anglophone Crisis Worsens
Militants seeking independence for Cameroon’s English-speaking regions killed four gendarmes on Monday, the government said, as disputes with the Francophone-dominated government degenerate into open warfare. Several separatists were killed by security forces in ensuing clashes, the government spokesman said. Repression by President Paul Biya’s government against what began as peaceful protests a year ago by Anglophone activists over perceived social and economic marginalization has bolstered support for armed militants demanding a full break with Yaounde. The separatists have launched a series of deadly raids on government police and soldiers in recent weeks, leading authorities to escalate a crackdown that has killed dozens of civilians. VOA

Former Malian Leader to Return from Exile Sunday
Mali’s former president Amadou Toumani Toure will on Sunday return from nearly six years exile in Senegal, according to reliable sources close to the former ruler, who led Mali between 2002 and 2012. “Amadou Toumani Toure is gearing up for his homecoming,” Nouhoum Togo, Organizing Secretary of the Party for Economic and Social Development (PEDS), the party of Toure’s heirs, told APA. Togo insisted that “his return is expected on Sunday at around 12 hours at the airport of Bamako.” A PDES communiqué dated December 17, 2017 confirmed this news. APA News

Saif Gaddafi Announces He Is Running for Libya President
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, is seeking to become the president of Libya , a Gaddafi family spokesman said, adding he will run in the 2018 presidential election. Speaking to Egypt Today, the spokesman, Basem al-Hashimi Al-Soul, said Saif Gaddafi “enjoys the support of major tribes in Libya.” Saif Gaddafi was released in June after a six-year imprisonment by militia fighters of the city of Zintan. “Saif will offer Libyans measures to stabilize the country in accordance with the Libyan geography and in coordination with all Libyan factions,” the spokesman said. Libyan Express

Libyan Mayor Mohamad Eshtewi Kidnapped and Killed in Misrata
Unknown gunmen have killed the mayor of Libya’s port city Misrata after reportedly chasing his car and kidnapping him. Mayor Mohamad Eshtewi’s body was found dumped in the street not long after returning to the city from an official visit to Turkey. Libya’s third-largest city is reputed to be safer and more stable than most in the conflict-ridden country. But the mayor had faced growing opposition earlier this year. Diplomats have condemned the killing. Ghassan Salame, special representative to Libya’s UN mission (UNSMIL), said he felt “deep grief”. BBC

Zimbabwe Army Leaves Streets a Month after Mugabe’s Ouster
Zimbabwe’s army declared an end on Monday to the military intervention that ousted Robert Mugabe, promising to shut down their last roadblocks in the capital and hand over to police. The armed soldiers who took to the streets during last month’s de facto coup had largely disappeared from the city centre by Monday afternoon. Just a handful could be seen standing around with civilian police. “Normalcy has now returned to our country. It is for this reason that … we announce the end of Operation Restore Legacy today,” Commander Phillip Sibanda said, referring to the name of the intervention which the army said targeted criminals in the entourage of the 93-year-old leader and his wife, Grace. Reuters

Zimbabwe General Who Ousted Mugabe to Quit Army for New Job
General Constantino Chiwenga, who led the Zimbabwean military ouster of long-term leader Robert Mugabe, will quit the army, the government said. Chiwenga will depart while awaiting redeployment to another position, according to an emailed statement by the government on Monday which didn’t give further details on his next assignment. General Philip Valerio Sibanda, who commanded Zimbabwe’s ground forces, will now become the armed forces commander, replacing Chiwenga, cabinet secretary Mishek Sibanda said in the statement. Bloomberg

Beijing Bids Goodbye to Robert Mugabe
As the line of Chinese-made armored vehicles rumbled into Harare last month, Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old dictator, Robert Mugabe, must have wondered what happened to the “all-weather friendship” Beijing always said they shared. For nearly four decades, Mugabe had been one of China’s staunchest allies. His “Look East” policy signaled Africa’s economic shift away from the West toward the rising superpower. Yet as the bloodless coup against him unfolded, Beijing offered no words of support or sympathy. Instead, there was silence — until afterward, when President Xi Jinping of China rushed to congratulate Mugabe’s successor, Emmerson Mnangagwa. […] In an era when the United States seems to be on the retreat — notice the absence of Americans from this story — it can be easy to shrug off China’s advance as another instance of its rapid, ineluctable expansion. But the fall of Mugabe, a charismatic despot who drove his economy to ruin, shows how Beijing is learning to navigate, very carefully, through turbulent transitions in places where it has deep economic ties, sometimes decades old, and how countries bend to the arc of China’s gravity. The New York Times

Boko Haram Militants Attack Food Aid Convoy in Nigeria
Boko Haram militants have killed four people in an attack on a food convoy carrying aid to displaced civilians in Nigeria. Some 8.5 million people in the conflict region are in need of humanitarian aid. Four people were killed when a UN World Food Program (WFP) aid convoy escorted by the Nigerian military was attacked in northeast Nigeria, a WFP spokeswoman said Sunday. The Boko Haram attack occurred on a main road southwest of Gamboru, a town on the border with Cameroon where thousands of displaced civilians rely on humanitarian aid. “WFP can confirm that a convoy escorted by the Nigerian military including WFP-hired trucks was the subject of an attack by armed groups 35 kilometers southwest of Ngala in Borno State on Saturday,” a spokesperson for the UN food assistance organization told Reuters. Deutsche Welle

Tensions in Bissau as Leaders Meet to Resolve Political Crisis
As Guinea Bissau’s political elite gather in Nigeria Friday and Saturday in hopes of resolving a two-year-long crisis, residents and activists in the capital are demanding a solution to the political impasse. Taxi driver Eduardo washes his bright blue car just a few blocks from the Presidential Palace of Guinea Bissau’s leader, Jose Mario Vaz. He says the political stalemate going on just down the road — the country’s parliament has not met in over two years — has lead to a decrease in his income. “In my opinion, the situation of the country is getting worse, nothing is getting better,” he said. “The price of petrol is cheaper now, but food is more expensive. It’s harder now to find customers. You just drive and drive and you have no customers. The roads are empty and everything has stopped.” VOA

6 Ugandan Lawmakers Suspended over ‘Life Presidency’ Bill
Six Ugandan opposition lawmakers have been suspended from the legislature amid heated debate over a bill to abolish the presidential age limit. The lawmakers were suspended on Monday for allegedly disobeying the speaker’s orders when they persistently questioned her decisions. Most other opposition lawmakers briefly walked out of the chamber, saying they wanted to consult, but later returned. The controversial bill seeks to jettison a constitutional clause that prevents anyone above 75 from being president. Critics say the bill would allow President Yoweri Museveni, who is 73 and ineligible to run again, extend his rule, possibly for life. Museveni has ruled since 1986. AP

Ebola Survivors Sue Sierra Leone Government
Two Ebola survivors have filed a suit at the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) Court against the Sierra Leonean government’s handling of the 2014 epidemic. The epidemic claimed thousands of lives. The two survivors, backed by the Freetown-based Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), are accusing the government of violating its citizens’ right to life and health by mismanaging millions of dollars poured in by the international community to fight the epidemic, which ravaged West Africa between 2014 and 2016. Nearly 30,000 people were infected and more than 11,000 of them died in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea where the viral epidemic first emerged. Daily Nation



Photo: Adam Jones