Africa Media Review for December 21, 2016

DR Congo Anti-Kabila Protests ‘Leave More Than 20 Dead’
More than 20 people have been killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, over President Joseph Kabila’s failure to give up power, a UN official has said. Some of the dead were shot at close range by troops, witnesses said. Mr Kabila’s 15-year rule was due to have ended on Monday at midnight, but has been extended to 2018. Mr Kabila’s main rival said the refusal to give up power amounted to a coup. BBC

UN Voices Concern over ‘Wave of Arrests’ in DR Congo
The United Nations voiced alarm on Tuesday over a wave of arrests in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tensions were running high after President Joseph Kabila’s term in office expired. Maman Sambo Sidikou, the head of the UN mission in DR Congo, said it had documented 113 arrests of opposition leaders and civil society activists, human rights campaigners and journalists by state police or intelligence officials since December 16. “I am gravely concerned by the arrests of those who seek to express their political views,” said Sidikou, who is also the UN secretary general’s special representative to the country. “I urge the national authorities to strictly adhere to their international human rights obligations, to create a climate of political tolerance and respect at this important juncture in the DRC’s history, and to grant full access to United Nations personnel to all detention centres.” The East African

Belgium Says It Will ‘Re-examine’ Relations with Democratic Republic of Congo after Kabila Fails to Step Down
Former colonial power Belgium has said it will “re-examine” its relations with Democratic Republic of Congo after President Joseph Kabila failed to step down when his mandate expired on Monday. Mr Kabila, who has ruled since 2001, was required by constitutional term limits to leave office but his government says the presidential election to replace him cannot take place until 2018. A statement issued by Belgium’s government said: “As there is no inclusive agreement, relations between Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo will be re-examined, with the greatest circumspection for any new engagement with the current authorities.” The Independent

Defiant Gambia leader says not a ‘coward’ and won’t leave
Gambia’s longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh has vowed to defend himself, saying he is not a coward and only Allah can deny him victory, in his latest defiant comments as international pressure mounts for him to step down. Jammeh initially conceded defeat following the Dec. 1 election, only to make a dramatic about-face a week later. He maintains that voting irregularities nullify the results, and insists he will not hand over to President-elect Adama Barrow in January. In comments broadcast on state television late Tuesday, Jammeh said he was prepared to die for what he believes in, and said he was prepared to defend himself and Gambia. “I will not be intimidated by any power in this world. I want to make sure that justice is done. I am a man of peace, but I cannot also be a coward,” he told a meeting of the African Bar Association that was aired on television. “Nobody can deprive me of that victory except the almighty Allah,” he vowed. AP on The Washington Post

Berlin truck attack: Tunisian sought over market deaths – reports
German police are searching for a Tunisian over Monday’s Berlin Christmas market attack, media reports say. According to a temporary-stay permit found in the cab of the lorry that ploughed into crowds, the man, named as Anis A, was born in 1992 in the city of Tataouine, the reports say. A police operation is said to be under way in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia where the permit was issued. Reports say the suspect may have been injured in a struggle with the driver. According to the newspapers Allgemeine Zeitung and Bild, the Tunisian suspect is aged 21 or 23 and is also known to use false names. BBC

US Says it Concluded Its Anti-IS Campaign in Libya
The U.S. says it has concluded its campaign against the Islamic State group’s affiliate in Libya after the downfall of the group in its only remaining foothold in the chaotic North African country. In a statement released on Tuesday, The United States Africa Command says that it carried out 495 airstrikes against militant vehicles and positions in the former IS stronghold of Sirte. It said that the U.S. will continue to help Libyans “counter the evolving threat” of IS. U.S. warplanes intervened in August after the fight against IS had stalled. The assault led by militias from the adjacent city of Misrata started in June and ended this month with the announcement that IS forces in Sirte had been vanquished. AP on The Washington Post

Libya National Oil Co. Says Pipelines Reopened in the Country’s West
Libya’s National Oil Company said Tuesday long shuttered pipelines had reopened in the country’s west that could supply 270,000 barrels a day of crude oil in the next three months—almost half its current output. The new production, if sustained, would be a boost for Libya as it tries to reboot its oil industry following years of strife in the wake of the 2011 ouster and death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Its production fell from a peak of over 1.6 million barrels a day to less than 300,000 barrels a day at points this year. Pumped-up Libyan output would also complicate efforts to raise oil prices by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, the 13-nation cartel that counts Libya as a member. The group pledged to trim its output by 1.2 million barrels a day, but exempted Libya and Nigeria from any obligations because their production had been disrupted by violence. The Wall Street Journal

Fresh Clashes Erupt in Different Parts of South Sudan
Fresh clashes erupted between government troops and opposition fighters in Renk and Mundri Counties and on the outskirts of Wau town, several local officials said. Renk County Commissioner Chan Aloung told Radio Tamazuj yesterday that the SPLA-IO forces attacked Shamedi area in the east of Renk County, but their forces repulsed the attackers, claiming they killed about five opposition soldiers. He said yesterday. “The armed opposition forces attacked us yesterday, but we repulsed them, and there were no casualties from our outside,” said Aloung. Elsewhere in Mundri County, the county commissioner said that the armed opposition forces attacked Kadiba area on Sunday, but they were repulsed, claiming they killed several rebel forces. He said yesterday. “Yesterday around 12:00 pm, the armed opposition forces attacked the headquarters of the county in Kadiba area,” said the commissioner. Radio Tamazuj

Japan Resisting Frustrated U.S. Lobbying for South Sudan Arms Embargo
After threatening South Sudan with a U.N. arms embargo to encourage steps toward peace, the United States wants to impose the measure, but the 15-member Security Council is split and Washington cannot even convince ally Japan. U.S. frustration with Tokyo’s resistance to an embargo and additional targeted sanctions spilled over on Monday when Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, publicly questioned the reluctance of Japan, which last month deployed troops to a U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. “It’s a highly questionable logic to think that the way to keep your peacekeepers safe is to not support an arms embargo,” Power told reporters. “Why would it be good for your peacekeepers to have a government whose people are starving spend what little money it has on weapons – large weapons systems – instead of on food?” she said. “It is in everyone’s interest, including the peacekeepers, for there to be fewer heavy weapons.” Reuters

S. Sudan Opposition Parties Contest Membership of Dialogue Committee
Several leading South Sudanese armed and non-armed opposition figures contested the manner in which president Salva Kiir on Monday night issued a decree appointing over 30 eminent persons as members of the national dialogue steering committee to develop agenda for the dialogue and work with experts and resource persons to facilitate the process. President Kiir, according to order number 27, read out on state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation (SSBC) on Monday evening, appointed retired Catholic Emeritus Bishop Paride Taban and former Sudanese Vice President Moses Machar Kachuol as co-chairpersons to the committee. He also appointed Abel Alier-wal Kwai, Joseph Lagu, Bona Malual Madut and Francis Mading Deng as advisors. Other members to the committee included former Upper Nile state governor, Simon Kun Puoc as Member. Sudan Tribune

Africa: Term Limits Topic A at Intl Lawmakers Meeting
As presidents of some African nations make bids to extend their decades in power, officials of over 100 nations meeting in Kenya talked about ways to arrest that trend. Gathering in the capital Nairobi, parliamentarians from 79 countries from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions and 27 from the European Union Monday had their minds on constitutional limits on presidential terms. “I personally…and my colleagues here are concerned about the unfortunate turn of events in my own country the Gambia, following presidential elections held on Dec. 4, 2016,” Gambia’s Netty Baldeh, co-president of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, told the meeting, recounting how the country’s leader for 22 years, President Yahya Jammeh, rejected the verdict of voters after losing to businessman Adama Barrow. Anadolu Agency

Nigerian Navy Commissions 30 Patrol Vessels Into Service
President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned 30 vessels into service with the Nigerian Navy (NN) including the new 95-metre long, P18N Class off-shore patrol vessel (OPV) NNS Unity, which was one of two ordered from China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) in April 2012. The new vessels commissioned at a ceremony in Lagos last week. NNS Unity, the largest of the vessels commissioned, was designed and partially built in China, while the majority of its outfitting work was done locally in Nigeria. The 1 800 ton vessel is powered by two MTU 20V 4000M diesel engines to a maximum speed of 21 knots. It has a range of up to 3 000 nautical miles at an average cruise speed of 14 knots. Built to support and carry a helicopter on a rear deck, the P18N Class OPV carries a standard armaments of one H/PJ26 76mm gun , which is complemented by two h/PJ14 30 mm guns. It can carry up to 70 sailors. DefenceWeb

Tuareg Rebels Step Back From Panel Implementing Mali Peace Accord
The main separatist group in northern Mali, the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), has suspended its participation in a committee charged with implementing a 2015 peace accord, according to a statement seen Tuesday by Reuters. The document, dated December 19 and signed by CMA President Alghabass Ag Intalla, an elder of the Tuareg ethnic group, cited rising violence and a lack of progress on reforms among other reasons for its decision. However, in a sign that the suspension might be temporary, Ag Intalla also called for a high-level encounter with mediators in order “to save the accord and preserve the credibility of the process.” A statement on Twitter from a branch of the CMA group said it would continue to participate in security aspects of the peace process, without giving details. VOA

Kenya Tensions Rising Ahead of 2017 Presidential Election
Tensions around next year’s presidential poll are heating up in Kenya. A special sitting of parliament to debate changes to the electoral law ended with a fist fight on the House floor. With fewer than eight months until the general election, Kenyan politicians are wrangling over how the electoral commission should carry out the process. In September, members of parliament from both sides of the political divide passed electoral reforms, following weeks of protests demanding the electoral commissioners step down. The commission was accused of favoring the ruling Jubilee coalition administration. On Tuesday, a special session of parliament met to debate proposed amendments to the reforms. The opposition said the amendments were proposed by, and favor, the ruling Jubilee coalition. VOA

Central African Republic: Mayhem by New Group
A recently formed armed group called “Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation,” or 3R, has killed civilians, raped, and caused largescale displacement over the past year in northwest Central African Republic. United Nations peacekeepers in the area have been unable to fully protect civilians. “The Central African Republic is on the international agenda, but its neglected northwest territory now presents an emerging crisis,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The 3R armed group, which originally portrayed itself as a protector of the Peuhl, has used it increased strength to expand abusive attacks.” Human Right Watch

What Magufuli Did: The Anti-corruption Purge and Austerity
In the war against corruption, President John Magufuli hit the ground running, and has sent home a number of public servants. Before he sacked the city director in public over irregularity in awards of contracts, he had sent packing the entire board of the Tanzania Revenue Authority for approving the depositing of Tsh26 billion in fixed accounts in three commercial banks. He also sacked regional administration officials after they were implicated in siphoning relief funds for quake victims in western region of Kagera, where 16 people perished and hundreds were rendered homeless. While corruption has not been completely eradicated, the situation is certainly not what Tanzanians used to experience over a year ago. In addition, the business-as-usual conduct of civil servants is no more. The East African

Ethiopia releasing 9,800 detained under state of emergency
Ethiopia said Wednesday it is releasing nearly 10,000 people detained under its ongoing state of emergency but plans to charge almost 2,500 others accused of destabilizing the country. Deputy government spokesman Zadig Abraha told The Associated Press that 9,800 people were being freed. “They have been given lots of trainings … so that they won’t be part of the destructive trend that we have seen in the past,” Zadig said. This East African country declared the state of emergency in October after nearly a year of anti-government protests that human rights groups say left hundreds dead. It was some of the country’s worst violence since Ethiopia’s ruling party came to power in 1991. Rights groups have accused the government of using excessive force. Most of the detainees are from the restive Oromia and Amhara regions. The government has said that under the state of emergency, people detained could be sent to rehabilitation centers without charges. AP on The Washington Post

The Biggest Donors of 2016
The European Union and its members spent almost $10 billion on emergency relief this year, but some of that was spent for the first time inside the union, in Greece, raising questions of how to properly define and measure humanitarian aid. Figures collated by the UN in its Financial Tracking Service offer the most complete view of official international relief spending. Overall, some $22 billion of humanitarian spending was tracked in 2016, up from $20.9 billion in 2015, but not as high as the $23.5 billion reported in 2014. Emergency aid in 2015 formed about 16 percent of $131.6 billion in total international aid spending, according to the OECD, which tracks the largest donors. IRIN

Morocco to Grant Residents’ Permits to Migrants
Morocco has launched the second phase of a campaign that will “regularise” the status of thousands of undocumented migrants living in the North African country. The drive, launched in 2014, will see permits being issued to allow migrants to work, enrol their children in schools and access medical care. More than 23,000 undocumented migrants have been given resident permits in the last few years, according to authorities. Some 23 per cent of them from Syria, 21 per cent from Senegal and 19 per cent from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior. Morocco, like nearby Libya, is a popular transit route to Europe for migrants, but due to Europe increasing its border security checks, migrants end up remaining in the country. Middle East Monitor

Africa Has Highest Rate of High Blood Pressure, WHO Says
Africa has the highest rate of high blood pressure in the world, affecting about 46% of adults, a World Health Organization (WHO) study has found. It blamed increasing urbanisation and unhealthy lifestyles for the rise in cases. The global average for the number of people suffering from the condition was about 40%, the WHO said. High blood pressure was often detected too late and was a silent killer, it added. If lifestyles do not change, more people in Africa could die from chronic illnesses, including diabetes and cancer, than infectious disease by 2030, the WHO said. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones