Africa Media Review for December 21, 2017

Uganda Lifts an Age Limit, Paving the Way for a President for Life
After months of heated, sometimes violent debate, Uganda’s Parliament voted late Wednesday to lift the age limit for the presidency, setting the stage for President Yoweri Museveni to rule the country indefinitely. Mr. Museveni is in his fifth presidential term, which expires in 2021. By then, he will be 77 — two years past the age limit for a president set by Uganda’s 1995 Constitution. A majority of lawmakers supported the bill, which passed 315 to 62 late Wednesday night, but a majority of Ugandans opposed it. A September poll by Afrobarometer found that 75 percent of respondents wanted to keep the age limit. Once Mr. Museveni signs the bill, it will become law. It is expected to be challenged in court. The New York Times

South Africa’s ANC Leader Vows to Fight Graft in ‘Own Ranks’
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress must end corruption “within our own ranks” as it faces its weakest point since taking power at the end of apartheid, the party’s new leader and the country’s likely next president said early Thursday. Cyril Ramaphosa, once Nelson Mandela’s preferred successor, made his first speech as party leader while challenged with reviving one of Africa’s largest economies and the public’s trust in the ANC ahead of 2019 elections. Anger has grown over multiple allegations of corruption against President Jacob Zuma, and some observers had said the choice of Zuma’s successor to lead the ANC could split Africa’s oldest liberation movement. But Ramaphosa, South Africa’s deputy president and one of the country’s richest businessmen, proclaimed a “victory over the doomsayers.” The 65-year-old was chosen party leader on Monday in a close race against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former chair of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife. AP

#ANCdecides2017: New NEC Split down the Middle
Election results for the ANC’s additional 80 members of the national executive committee (NEC) were finally released in the early hours of Thursday morning. With the allegiances of the top six officials split, the NEC will be crucial moving forward. But the results point to a stalemate, with the two different factions taking a similar number of positions. Daily Maverick

Fighting Pushes More South Sudanese into Congo
Hundreds of South Sudanese refugees entered the Democratic Republic of Congo this week after South Sudanese government forces captured a rebel base near the border. Amid gunfire late Sunday, South Sudanese troops entered Lasu town, which had been the rebels’ second general headquarters. The rebels pulled out the next day. Mary Awate fled her home to the forests when the clashes began. With her children to take care of, she spent two days hiding in the bush before reaching the Congo border on Tuesday. “We just heard the sound of the gun, especially these big ones, so everyone just started running in the bush,” she said. VOA

South Sudan’s Rebecca Garang Calls on President Kiir to Step Down
Rebecca Garang de Mabior, widow of the founding leader of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said the conflict in the country would never be resolved unless President Salva Kiir steps down. Speaking at the IGAD-brokered forum to revitalize the implementation of a peace deal signed in 2015, Rebecca described the government of President Kiir as “ineffective and should be replaced”. “If you are afraid to say it, I am saying it, because there is nothing they are delivering. Three weeks ago, hundreds of people died. How many people do we need to die in order for us to see this government is not delivering and should be replaced?” Sudan Tribune

At Least 66 Journalists ‘Languishing in African Jails’ – Media Watchdog
At least 262 journalists have been jailed for doing their job around the world, and 66 of these, are in Africa – as of December 1, says a media watchdog. According to a Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) prison census 2017 report, as of December 1, sub Saharan countries had arrested at least 39 journalists, while north African countries had arrested 27. The north African power house, Egypt, remained at number 1 in Africa, with at least 20 journalists in its prisons, while Eritrea with 16 came in in second place. A surprise inclusion on the list of countries that had arrested journalists was Uganda at number 3 after it arrested at least 8 newspaper reporters in November. News 24

Cameroonian Troops Entered Nigeria without Seeking Authorization, Sources in Nigeria Say
Cameroonian troops this month crossed into Nigeria in pursuit of rebels without seeking authorization from Nigeria, causing a falling-out between the governments behind the scenes, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters. At least one incursion was confirmed by a Nigerian government official, two Nigerian military officers and two foreign diplomats, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity. Nigerian security forces were deployed to the border to stop any further crossings, said a military source. Reuters

Militants in Lake Chad Region Block Polio Program
Scientists warn a campaign to eradicate polio in central Africa is falling short because of upheaval in the Lake Chad Basin area, where the Boko Haram militant group remains active. On the positive side, on country – Gabon – has been declared polio-free. Professor Rose Leke, who heads the Africa Regional Certification Commission for polio eradication, says Central Africa has seen no cases of polio in the past 15 months. But, she adds, scientists cannot be sure the polio virus has been eradicated in the region. Leke says medical teams find it difficult getting access to conflict zones in Mali, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and parts of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. VOA

Islamic State Claims Attack on Airport in Egypt’s Sinai
An Islamic State affiliate on Wednesday claimed responsibility for a missile attack the previous day that targeted an airport in Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula during an unpublicized visit to the facility by the defense and interior ministers. In a brief statement circulated on jihadi websites, the group said the intended target of the “guided” missile it fired at the el-Arish airport on Tuesday was the two ministers, and that the projectile struck an Apache helicopter that was part of their entourage. The statement, carried by the IS-run Aamaq news agency, could not be independently verified but resembled previous claims by the group that were widely seen as credible. AP

State Agents, Militia ‘Planned’ DR Congo Massacres, Says Rights Group
Security forces and an army-backed militia planned massacres in an opposition stronghold in the Democratic Republic of Congo, human rights activists charged Wednesday, calling the killings “crimes against humanity”. The southern Kasai region suffered “one of the worst human rights crises in the world” between March and July, the Paris-based International Human Rights Federation (FIDH) said in a report compiled with partner rights groups in the country. It includes heart-rending testimony such as that of a 27-year-old woman who described soldiers attacking her village and burning down houses. As she fled, she “saw a lot of corpses… of children, of villagers.” France 24

Somali Lawmakers Seek to Impeach President amid Political Crisis
Some Somali lawmakers said on Wednesday they plan to impeach the president in a mounting political crisis that could put the fledgling government on a violent collision course with one of the country’s most powerful clans. The political turmoil endangers fragile gains against the Islamist al Shabaab insurgency and could derail the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi. Universally known by his nickname “Farmajo”, the dual US-Somali citizen took power earlier this year in a UN-backed process. The Horn of Africa state’s parliament adjourned last week until the end of February, but some legislators want it to reconvene on an emergency basis, lawmaker Mahad Salad told Reuters. “Ninety-six lawmakers have asked the speaker to reopen the session so that the impeachment against the president kicks off. Reuters

Kenya Police Detain 100 Children in Islamic School Raid
Kenyan police raided an Islamic school on Tuesday, arresting two teachers and taking around 100 children into protective custody in what police described as a counter-terrorism operation involving foreign law-enforcement agencies. Police described the school in Likoni, south of the port city of Mombasa, as a centre for indoctrinating young men and children with militant ideology. “The place has been monitored for a long time,” said a police source who asked not to be named. The police spokesman was unavailable for comment. Africa News

Shell and Eni to Be Tried over $1.3 Billion Nigerian Oil Deal
An Italian judge ruled on Wednesday that two of the world’s largest oil companies, Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, the Italian company, must go on trial on charges of corruption over a $1.3 billion oil deal in Nigeria. The judge set a March 5 trial date in Milan for the companies as well as a group of current and former executives, including Claudio Descalzi, Eni’s chief executive, and Malcolm Brinded, a former chief of exploration and production for Shell. No current Shell officials were to be tried in the case. Both companies have denied wrongdoing, but having such senior or former top executives facing trial is unusual. The court case is likely to highlight the murky dealings of the international oil business, in which large sums of money are sometimes paid to governments for access to resources. The Washington Post

Mercenaries a Threat to Ghana’s Peace – UN
A UN group has warned Ghana’s peace and stability is being undermined by mercenaries and private security groups flooding the country. One expert said the ratio between private firms and the number of police officers was “the most worrying I’ve seen in any country”. According to government figures, there are about 400 private groups which employ around 450,000 people, but only 33,000 police officers. Added to this, members of the the UN working group on mercenaries noted an estimated 1.3m illegal weapons have been smuggled into Ghana, as well as the spread of vigilante groups and armed individuals. GhanaWeb

Ghana’s Visa Fraud Problem Has Triggered a Rise in Identity Theft
The former head of Ghana’s visa fraud unit tells the story about the time someone tried to rent his passport. This was over a decade ago, when this kind of thing was more common, Detective Seth Sewornu says. He had a valid UK visa, and a relative was offering £1000 ($1,300). Visa fraud in Ghana is brazen, and rising. For five years, Sewornu was at the forefront of investigating the phenomenon, as head of the Ghana Police Visa and Document Fraud Unit. Even before he was appointed, the detective says he noticed visa fraudsters didn’t think twice about propositioning a cop. “I returned from the UK in 2004, and a distant relative approached me that “Look: you have a visa. This guy looks like you. Let’s give you £1000, so you give him your passport to travel,’” said Sewornu. Quartz

Trump Threatens to Cut Aid to U.N. Members over Jerusalem Vote
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of a draft United Nations resolution calling for the United States to withdraw its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” Trump told reporters at the White House. The 193-member U.N. General Assembly will hold a rare emergency special session on Thursday – at the request of Arab and Muslim countries – to vote on a draft resolution, which the United States vetoed on Monday in the 15-member U.N. Security Council. Reuters

Florida Judge Halts Deportation of 92 Somalis Shackled on Plane for 48 Hours
A Florida judge has halted the deportation of 92 Somali men and women who alleged US immigration authorities physically abused them when they were shackled on an airplane for nearly 48 hours during a failed attempt to return the group to Somalia. US federal district judge Darrin Gayles halted their deportation hours after lawyers filed a class action lawsuit against the government that alleged the Somalian immigrants were held in “inhumane conditions” on the airplane and faced heightened danger in Somalia because of subsequent media attention. The group of deportees, which included people who had lived in the US for decades, were headed to Somalia on 7 December when the flight was turned back to the US from Dakar, Senegal, after being held there for 23 hours. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones