Africa Media Review for December 2, 2016

Early Results Show Gambia Leader Trailing in Presidential Vote
Partial results showed Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh trailing his main rival in a presidential election on Friday. A Reuters reporter at the electoral commission said Jammeh’s rival, real estate developer Adama Barrow, had 44 percent of the vote against Jammeh’s 40 percent and 15 percent for Mammah Kandeh. Multiple civil society sources on Twitter leaked identical results, with 39 out of 53 constituencies counted. Reuters

Adama Barrow: Gambia’s Estate Agent of Change
He is quiet and understated, but if Adama Barrow wins The Gambia’s election it would reverse decades in the doldrums for the country’s opposition. A political novice whose lack of baggage has endeared him to Gambians, the businessman represents a coalition of parties seeking to cause an upset in the tiny West African nation on Thursday. “It’s very clear, the writing is on the wall that I’m going to win,” the 51-year-old told AFP by telephone before voting, perhaps mindful that, in politics, a measure of confidence is essential on polling day. Later, referring to President Yahya Jammeh, who has ruled the country for 22 years, Barrow added: “If he loses, let him concede defeat. And we know he is going to lose.” Barrow was a political unknown six months ago. AFP on The Daily Mail

Congo: Rights Bodies Accuse Government of Systematic Torture
The Congolese Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) and Human Rights and Prison Universe Association (ADHUC) have accused Congolese authorities of carrying out systematic torture. In two different reports released recently, the two NGOs denounced the kidnapping and torture of 37-year-old police sergeant Jugal Mayangui, who works as a police cadet. Arrested on the night of 12 November at his home and taken to an unknown destination, the sub-officer reappeared eight days later in a disturbing condition, as shown in a photo published by the OCDH. According to the victim’s family, he is suspected of collusion with Pastor Ntumi, the leader of the ex-militia Ninjas, who has a pending arrest warrant issued by Congolese authorities. Africa News

The Next Rebel Leader in Eastern Congo Will Be Less Astute and More Brutal
The October downpour had stopped but the imposing Mt Nyiragongo in the distance was still shrouded in clouds. As the sunshine increased in intensity, sending small plumes of smoke wafting skyward from nearby fields strewn with molten lava, the long line of SUVs screeched to a stop. The occupants were members of the UN Security Council on a fact finding mission in the DR Congo and it had been decided that they would visit and hear firsthand accounts of the victims of the M23 rebellion. Established to accommodate Rwandan refugees in 1994, the Mugunga camp held close to 160,000 internally displaced Congolese. The diplomats were soon ushered into a single-room wooden structure where a group of women, all victims of sexual violence sat. The women, who had been talking in whispers, shook their heads and wailed in unison when told that the visitors had come. The East African

DRC: Too Little, Too Late
Countless studies have shown that democracies are less likely to go to war, torture their own citizens, and censor the media. That’s one reason why Western governments and philanthropic foundations funnel more than $10 billion every year into promoting democracy overseas. For example, donors fund efforts to help train election observers, educate voters about their rights, and train local media outlets to cover political issues. In the last year, more than $70 million have been spent on such projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a poor and fragile country emerging from over two decades of armed conflict. That may sound like a lot of money, but in relative terms it’s not. The American, British and Canadian governments alone spent more than eight times that amount on democracy promotion in Afghanstan during the country’s most recent elections. In this instance — as in so many others — the international community has failed. The DRC’s president, Joseph Kabila, is decidedly unpopular. After enduring 15 years of his rule, which have been marked by corruption, conflict, and rising inequality, fewer than 10 percent of Congolese want him to remain in power. Almost all of the country’s diverse ethnic and social groups are united in opposition, and violent protests are growing increasingly common. Foreign Policy

South Sudan Conflict: UN Warns of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’
Ethnic cleansing is taking place in war-torn South Sudan, the UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) has warned. It says it has observed starvation, the burning of villages and rape being used as weapons of war across the country. The three-member commission, which was established earlier this year, has just completed a 10-day visit to South Sudan, which has been blighted by conflict for more than three years. President Salva Kiir has denied that ethnic cleansing is taking place. BBC

S. Sudan Army Denies Amassing Troops in Equatoria for Dry Season Offensive
The command of South Sudan army (SPLA), denied on Thursday a report by United Nations mission in the country presented to it’s Security Council that it had facilitated and moved into Greater Equatoria region in support of an anticipated dry season offensive against armed opposition fighters. The United Nations mission in the country, in a Thursday press release said the army’s move a ploy to “building a case for a regime change and sanctions”. The SPLA has, however, acknowledged that activities taking place in the region were rotation of soldiers, who have been serving in the area for the two years. “These are not militias, but SPLA soldiers. They [UNMISS] are twisting this for reasons known to them,” partly reads the statement. Sudan Tribune

Aid Convoys Blocked in South Sudan, U.N. Says
United Nations officials told Reuters on Thursday that attacks on aid workers and bureaucratic interference are preventing supplies from reaching tens of thousands of desperate South Sudanese who have fled their homes amid escalating violence. “On 10 November, a humanitarian convoy due to travel to areas outside of Wau town was blocked, preventing humanitarian organizations from delivering life-saving assistance to tens of thousands of people,” said Ian Ridley, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in South Sudan. Another mission was blocked from traveling outside Yei town in the southwest of the country on Nov. 11, he said. Reuters

EU: Libya’s Cities Making $346M a Year From People Smuggling
Libya’s coastal cities are making millions each year from people smuggling, a European Union military task force commander in the Mediterranean Sea says in a confidential report. The report, issued to the EU’s 28 member states Wednesday and obtained by The Associated Press, illustrates just how much the flow of migrants toward Europe is a central part of the economy in war-torn Libya. In the report, Rear Adm. Enrico Credendino warned that “migrant smuggling, originating far beyond Libyan borders, remains a major source of income among locals in Libyan coastal cities generating estimated annual revenue of up to 275 to 325 million euros ($292 million to $346 million).” The report provides no details on how the figure was calculated and EU officials didn’t immediately respond to questions by email or phone Thursday. Tens of thousands of migrants leaving Libya in unseaworthy boats have been picked up in the Mediterranean this year, however, often telling aid workers of the hundreds or thousands of euros they had to pay smugglers in Libya. AP on ABC News

IS Making ‘Last Stand’ in Libyan City: Pentagon
Islamic State group jihadists are making a “last stand” in their former Libyan stronghold of Sirte, where they now control only around two blocks, the Pentagon said Thursday. The IS group had held all of the Mediterranean port city as recently as early this summer, establishing a significant foothold in Libya. The United States started a bombing campaign in August at the request the UN-supported Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) to help local forces recapture the city more than a year after the IS group seized it. Although the operation has taken months longer than initially expected, it has pushed back the group’s control to around 50 buildings. AFP on Yahoo News

Africa Pushes for a 2017 Ban on Nuclear Weapons
[…] These differing assessments over the potential impact of a nuclear weapons ban treaty mirror the deep divisions among NPT state parties regarding their disarmament obligations, which has been a source of disagreement since the NPT’s entry-into-force. The response of African states has been largely positive. Of the 47 African UN member states present at the vote, all but three supported the resolution. From the Africa Group, only Mali, Morocco and Sudan deviating by abstaining – presumably after coming under pressure from some nuclear-weapon states. Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles and South Sudan were not present for the vote. A number of African states co-sponsored and spearheaded the resolution, including Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa. If passed by the UN General Assembly in December, negotiations are set to start in early 2017 – a step that would end two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. ISS

2 More Armed Groups Agree to End Use of Child Soldiers
A humanitarian group says its work of persuading armed groups to stop the recruitment of child soldiers is making slow, but steady progress. The group, known as Geneva Call, reports it received pledges by two rebel groups to end this practice during a recent three-day training workshop, which taught respect for international law. This unlikely gathering brought together 31 leaders, commanders, and advisers of 21 armed movements from 11 countries. Participants came from some of the world’s worst conflict zones — Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Representatives from the United Nations and specialized agencies also were present. The workshops focused on the need to better protect and educate children and the respect for international law. Geneva Call Policy Director Pascal Bongard says his organization plays a complementary role with the United Nations and was involved in getting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to agree to end child recruitment.  VOA

Lesotho Army Commander Retires
The government of Lesotho says releasing Lesotho Defence Force Commander Lt. General Tlali Kamoli was not easy, and it is an indication that Lesotho still bows to international pressure at the expense of its people. Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili led celebrations to bid farewell to Kamoli 5 years before his retirement age after a SADC Commission recommended his removal. Lt. General Tlali Kamoli made international headlines in 2014 when he was accused of attempting to overthrow former Prime Minister Tom Thabane who said he had fired him this government maintains his removal was irregular. When former Commander Maaparankoe Mahao was killed by fellow officers in 2015 Kamoli was accused of ordering the hit. A SADC Commission recommended his removal and the United States piled on the pressure. However the Prime Minister still believes Lt. General Tlali Kamoli was a competent and loyal soldier. SABC

Audio Recordings Drag Guinea President into Mine Bribery Scandal
Audio recordings obtained by France 24 have cast new light on the titanic battle raging over one of the world’s largest iron ore deposits, suggesting the murky practices Guinea’s President Alpha Condé had pledged to stamp out are still taking place. For several weeks, revelations about suspicions of corruption around juicy mining contracts have multiplied in Guinea, an impoverished West African country that is rich in mineral resources. In mid-November, the Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto admitted to paying a commission to a close adviser of President Condé to win mining rights over the Simandou project, regarded as one of the world’s largest untapped iron ore deposits. France 24

For Rio Tinto, Another Africa Headache
Rio Tinto PLC’s new chief executive faces another regulatory headache, as U.S. authorities investigate the mining company over an impairment booked in 2012. The Anglo-Australian miner said on Thursday it is cooperating with a probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which it said started in 2013. The company was responding to media reports that the SEC is examining the timing of $3 billion in impairment charges on a Mozambique coal deal. The write-down came as part of $14 billion in charges—including against another ill-timed deal, Rio’s 2007 acquisition of Alcan Inc.—that in early 2013 triggered the departure of Tom Albanese as chief executive. News of the investigation comes as Rio Tinto pursues a separate internal investigation of payments made to a consultant who helped it acquire mining rights in Guinea. Rio Tinto has said it turned over emails and additional information about the payments to authorities in the U.K., Australia and the U.S. The Wall Street Journal

Bribery Is on the Rise Worldwide, and It Costs A Lot More Than Just Money
Corruption, graft, and palm-greasing are a real and growing drag on the global economy, and they open the door to a host of evils like drug smuggling and human trafficking. Bribes to the tune of about $1.5 trillion change hands every year, according to the International Monetary Fund, or about 5 percent of global GDP. And the true cost of corruption doesn’t just boil down to money, either. “You can’t have narco-trafficking without bribery, human trafficking without bribery, or even terrorism without bribery,” said Alexandra Wrage, president and founder of the anti-bribery organization TRACE International. TRACE says that bribery is getting worse, with global graft on the rise, according to a new study. Some 60 percent of countries have an increased bribery risk compared with the 2014 study, while only 32 percent have a decreased bribery risk, the group says. While anti-bribery laws and enforcement are on the upswing in many countries, government transparency and capacity for civil society oversight of anti-bribery are not. Foreign Policy

Ghana: Voter Apathy Gives Rise to ‘Vote Selling’
“I will sell it if I find someone to buy,” Abudu, a resident in Tamale told DW. “Honestly [votes] are up for sale right now, so I’m looking for someone to buy mine because after voting you won’t see these politicians anywhere.” Voter apathy in Ghana has turned into a lucrative business in this year’s general elections. In the previous elections, presidential aspirants used to offer large sums seccretly in return for ballots in their favor. Now, the tide seems to have turned. Many dissatisfied voters are putting their votes up for sale. “I will sell my vote for 1000 Cedis ($133 or approximately 125 euros) because I don’t believe in anybody, who will become president,” another Tamale resident, Kweku, said. […] Last week, a popular local politician was on the streets of Tamale distributing cash and printed clothing materials. “These leaders make promises they cannot fulfill,” said Nabari Abdullai, an elder in Tamale. “If a politician comes to the voter again without fulfilling promises, the voter will say, ‘if you don’t give me money I won’t vote for you again.'” Deutsche Welle

Mistrust Elections? There’s an App for That
Ghana’s youth population is exploding and the upcoming elections provide a window of opportunity for them. Digital technology is enabling them to access, share and create information at a lower cost, greater speed and scale than ever before. If citizens harness this power effectively, they can monitor and track election results and irregularities, make informed choices and mobilise young people to vote and vet their leaders. Fun campaigns using hashtags #iRegistered and “Our Vote, Our Voice” – #OVOV are encouraging young Ghanaians to register and vote. On average 66% of citizens in Ghana have voted in elections since independence and it’s hoped that these technologies can help increase this figure. Citizens can also check their registration details by SMS using a shortcode established by Ghana’s Electoral Commission. CNN

One of World’s Most Wanted Hashish Smugglers Arrested in Morocco
One of the world’s most wanted hashish smugglers has been captured in Casablanca, Morocco, the Italian police said on Thursday, the highest-profile arrest yet in a three-year anti-trafficking operation that has spanned three continents. Ben Ziane Berhili, 57, the owner of a large dessert company in Morocco, made the bulk of his income by smuggling 400 tons of hashish to Europe every year, according to Italian investigators. His arrest is the latest in a multinational investigation into a lucrative new drug trafficking route to Europe that begins in Morocco and passes along the coast of North Africa to Libya, where it includes an area contested by several armed groups, including the Islamic State. The Italian operation, which has expanded to include other European countries and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, has led to the seizure of 20 shipments — more than 280 tons — of hashish, worth about $3.2 billion, since 2013. The New York Times

Top U.S. AIDS Official Touts Progress, Has Tough Words For Tanzania
Each year, the United States gives $5 billion to $6 billion to fight HIV/AIDS around the world, with particular emphasis on sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for two-thirds of the nearly 2 million new infections each year. For World AIDS Day, we sat down with the U.S. Global AIDS coordinator, Deborah Birx, to talk about the state of the epidemic and the work of PEPFAR, set up by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the intention of saving the lives of people suffering from AIDS around the world. Birx is a physician and lifelong civil servant. She’s the former head of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and directed the CDC’s division of Global HIV/AIDS before becoming the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator in 2014. While some other people see AIDS fatigue settling in, Birx says this is an “exciting” time in the global fight against the disease. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones