Africa Media Review for December 22, 2016

Security Sector Institutions and the DRC’s Political Crisis
Tension in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to mount after President Joseph Kabila crossed the threshold of his two-term limit without having secured a new mandate. Over the past 18 months, the regime’s supporters have deployed a wide range of legal, constitutional, and political maneuvers to extend the president’s term in office beyond constitutional term limit restrictions. With weak constitutional and institutional checks and balances, but concerted and widespread opposition, the stage appears set for a continued political impasse. The security sector will be instrumental in navigating this crisis. This review takes stock of the security sector in the DRC and the role it can be expected to play in the country’s hoped-for democratic transition. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Nearly 300 Are Arrested in Congo as Protests Appear to Wane
Col. Pierre Mwanamputu, the police spokesman, said most of the dead civilians had been hit by stray bullets or shot while looting on Tuesday and Wednesday. “The heavy security presence will remain in place until the end of the year,” he added. On Wednesday, security forces repressed protests in Lubumbashi in which 10 died and 47 were wounded, said King Kasongo, a lawyer and activist for Humanism and Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization. Crowds also wounded a policeman and attacked government offices, health centers and gas stations, he said. Human Rights Watch said at least 26 people had been killed across Congo, including one in Lubumbashi, though it had yet to provide a final tally. The director of the United Nations human rights office in Congo, Jose Maria Aranaz, said he had confirmed 19 dead and 45 wounded. The New York Times

Congo’s Crackdown Is Just a Preview of Violence to Come
Joseph Kabila is taking advantage of the opposition’s mistakes to extend his rule. But armed militias may be the eventual winners. […] In recent months, the opposition has seen its space to maneuver shrink rapidly, largely because of its own uncompromising and unrealistic strategy. This stubbornness was evident as far back as 2011, when Tshisekedi declared himself the winner of the presidential election even before the ballots had been counted. When the official tally revealed Kabila to be the winner, Tshisekedi refused to acknowledge the results and declared himself president. Observers said the elections had been fraudulent, but Tshisekedi’s preposterous pre-results statement had already discredited his claim. Since the 2011 elections, the opposition’s stance has grown ever more radical, and obstructionist. A dispute over the composition of the electoral commission predictably became gridlocked, and when the commission argued — conveniently for Kabila — that updating the voter rolls would take until July 2017, months after the planned presidential election date in November 2016, the Rassemblement refused to participate in a national dialogue mediated by the African Union. Only a fringe of the opposition agreed to take part, and a deal was reached in October to form a transition government until elections can be held, ostensibly in 2018. Foreign Policy

France likely to seek EU sanctions against DR Congo’s Kabila
France said Wednesday that DR Congo President Joseph Kabila may face EU sanctions over his refusal to step down at the end of his mandate. “If things don’t proceed properly, towards dialogue and an end to the democratic impasse,” France will ask the European Union to consider sanctions against Kabila, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll told reporters. He said Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault discussed the option during a cabinet meeting. The European Union imposed travel bans and asset freezes on seven top DR Congo officials on December 12, three months after a crackdown on anti-Kabila protesters left more than 50 people dead. Washington, which had previously targeted several senior figures close to the president for sanctions, added two more on December 12. The East African

Germany Suspends Aid Talks With Congo after Kabila Overstays
Germany has indefinitely postponed talks on development assistance to Congo after President Joseph Kabila stayed in power despite his mandate expiring this week, the German foreign office said on Wednesday. “From now on, the Congolese Government’s scope for action will be restricted,” the statement said. “The negotiations on development cooperation scheduled to take place next year will be postponed indefinitely. The German Government reserves the right to take further steps.” Reuters

Mediators Want Congo Political Crisis Solved by Christmas
Mediators urged Congo’s president and opposition parties Wednesday to reach an agreement before Christmas on a peaceful settlement to the country’s political crisis, saying dozens already have been killed this week amid protests over the president’s stay in power. “Enough is enough,” said Monseigneur Marcel Utembi with the team of Catholic church mediators. “A solution must be found as soon as possible by all political actors, but in particular by the government in order to reassure the Congolese people.” He also conveyed a message from Pope Francis following their meeting this week: “I am concerned by what is happening in your country, which I wish to visit at the opportune moment. I pray for the Congolese people, who need peace so much now.” President Joseph Kabila’s mandate ended this week and he is constitutionally barred from seeking another term, but a court has ruled that he can remain in power until new elections, which have been indefinitely delayed. The vote once was set for November, but the ruling party now says it won’t be held until 2018. The Washington Post

21 Killed, 5 Children Abducted in Jonglei State: Officials
Authorities in South Sudan’s Jonglei state say 21 people have been killed and five children abducted since a peace deal was signed with neighboring Boma state, this month. Jonglei and Boma states signed a peace agreement on 5 December on prevention of cattle raiding and child abduction. The Murle and Dinka Bor communities trade accusation of cattle theft, with Murle being accused by all neighbors of stealing children. “Despite the peace agreement signed between the two states early this month, Jonglei State experienced a surprised attack by Anti peace elements/ criminals who mounted a deadly attacked last week resulting into cattle raiding and child abduction,” Akec Dengdit, Jonglei’s state minister information said in a statement. Sudan Tribune

S. Sudan Atrocities Continue Despite President’s Call for Dialogue
South Sudanese fleeing the country’s 3-year conflict say armed men are committing brutal atrocities and abuses against civilians. The refugees said extrajudicial killings also were common in areas they fled. Nearly all the refugees arriving in the Bidibidi camp in Uganda’s Yumbe District over the past few weeks are from the former Equatoria state. Most of them fled from Lainya, Yei, Morobo and Kajokeji. South Sudanese refugee Chaplain Malesh said he fled his village in Lainya earlier this month when government soldiers and proxy militia began shooting villagers indiscriminately. “The Dinkas came to our area, at a place called Kirbat, and started shooting. This made people start running. If you see your neighbors running, why should you stay?” Malesh asked. VOA

U.N. Likely to Vote Friday on South Sudan Arms Embargo
The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on Friday on whether to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, even though the U.S.-drafted measure is likely to fail despite warnings by U.N. officials of a possible genocide, diplomats said on Wednesday. The resolution also proposes blacklisting South Sudan opposition figure Riek Machar, army chief Paul Malong and Information Minister Michael Makuei by subjecting them to an asset freeze and travel ban. To be adopted, a resolution needs nine votes and no vetoes. Diplomats say that so far seven members were in favor, with the remaining eight planning to abstain. The United States has requested that a vote be held on Friday. “Council members will need, each of us, to own our decisions. So the United States urges you to prepare to vote your conscience, and to vote to stand with the people of South Sudan,” Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the council on Monday. Reuters

Juba and Khartoum Agree to Extend Oil Agreement
Sudan and South Sudan have extended an oil transit agreement signed in September 2012 for another three years. The agreement between the two countries, which split up in July 2011, ends this month. A statement issued by the Sudanese oil ministry on Wednesday, said the two Sudans signed the extension agreement on Tuesday. It stated that it includes technical undertakings, besides the extension. ”The agreement has two parts, the extension of the deal and the financial transitional arrangements after the sharp decline of the international oil prices,” it pointed out. ”Sudan has accepted to reschedule the debts of South Sudan according to the transit fees agreed between the two countries in 2012,” it noted. The East African

S Sudan, Sudan Seek to Settle Border Demarcation
South Sudan hopes to agree on border demarcation, oil deal and power generation with its northern neighbor Sudan, key among draft of issues in the signed cooperative agreement between the two countries, a South Sudanese official revealed to Anadolu Agency Wednesday. The delegation headed by Petroleum Minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth returned to the country after a visit to Sudanese capital, Khartoum to discuss border demarcation including an oil transit agreement that allows landlocked South Sudan to use Sudan’s pipelines to export its oil between the two countries in a bid to settle a number of pending issues that remained unresolved before the independence of South Sudan in July 2011. Petroleum Minister Gatkuoth said that they will be negotiating extension of the signed 2012 cooperation agreement and outstanding major issues from border demarcation to oil transit fees signed between the two countries. Anadolu Agency

Nigerian Troops Rescue at Least 1 880 Civilians from Boko Haram
Nigerian troops have rescued 1 880 civilians from a Boko Haram redoubt in the restive northeast in the past week and arrested hundreds of insurgents, a military commander said on Wednesday. The Sambisa forest, covering about 1 300 square kilometres, is a stronghold of the notorious jihadist group, who kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in 2014. “During our operations in the period 14 – 21 December 2016, a total of 1 880 civilians were rescued from Boko Haram enclaves,” Major-general Leo Irabor said in a statement after a news conference in the northeastern city of Maiduguri on Wednesday. News 24

Nigerian Lawsuit Revives Billion-dollar Oil Scandal
Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency is reviving a five-year-old scandal involving one of Africa’s richest oil blocs, in which a former petroleum minister and his allies allegedly made $1.1 billion dollars and the state oil company $210 million. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission filed suit Tuesday in the federal high court charging former petroleum minister Dan Etete, former justice minister Mohammed Bello Adoke and businessman Aliyu Abubakar with fraud and money laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars in the sale of the bloc. The money came from a Nigerian escrow account at the London branch of JPMorgan Chase, according to the court document. The story of the Malabu OPL 245 oil bloc already is being investigated in the United States, Britain, Italy and France. The accusations are typical of the corruption that has impoverished Nigeria, which has the continent’s biggest economy and second-largest oil production. The Washington Post

Putin Promotes Libyan Strongman as New Ally After Syria Victory
Flush with success in supporting his ally in Syria, Vladimir Putin has a new ambition: supporting another one, this time in Libya. The effort is beginning to undermine the UN-backed government there. Russian President Putin’s government is befriending a powerful military leader, Khalifa Haftar, who now controls more territory than any other faction in the tumultuous, oil-rich North African state. In two visits to Moscow in the past half-year, Haftar met the defense and foreign ministers, plus the national-security chief, to seek support. A top ally also visited last week and Russia is supplying funds and military expertise to Haftar’s base in the east. “The longer we wait, the more likely it becomes that Haftar wins,” said Riccardo Fabiani, a senior Middle East and North Africa analyst at Eurasia Group in London. “It’s clear he’s getting military, financial and diplomatic support.” Bloomberg

Kenya’s Cord MPs Storm Out over ‘Fight’
Opposition MPs in Kenya have stormed out of parliament in the capital, Nairobi, saying that they have been assaulted in the house. The chaos came during a debate on changing the electoral laws to allow manual vote-counting for next year’s presidential election. The government wants a back-up to the electronic system but the opposition says it is a way of rigging the poll. The initial debate on Tuesday also saw rival MPs exchange punches. Kenyan politics is known to be highly partisan and this is not the first time MPs have fought in parliament. In 2014, four lawmakers were assaulted and one had his shirt torn. BBC

Tunisia’s Radicalized Youth
“He said he was going to spend the night at a friend’s house. A day later we received a text message that he was in Syria.” Iqbel Ben Rejeb’s voice trembles as he recalls the day in March 2003 when his younger brother Hamza vanished. The programming student had been contacted by the Nusra Front and traveled to Syria via Libya. He was told he could manage the Qaeda affiliate’s websites. Hamza is physically disabled and uses a wheelchair to get around. “I feared they wouldn’t have time to take care of him,” Iqbel remembers. “I thought they would stick a bomb to his wheelchair and blow him up.” Hamza’s family was able to save him and get him back to Tunisia. Soon thereafter, Iqbel founded a group to help other Tunisians who were stuck abroad get home – and to prevent others from being brainwashed by extremist ideas. Deutsche Welle

Niger: Smugglers’ Paradise
[…] As recently as 2013, the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime reported that all the trans-Saharan migrant smuggling networks combined were making $8 to $20 million per year. By 2015, according to the same organization, they were making more than $300 million in Libya alone. And a high percentage of people who travel along the sub-Saharan route have to go through Agadez before heading north. By even the most conservative estimates, migrant traffic (to say nothing of the more profitable trade in weapons and narcotics) brings in about $20 million per year to Agadez, according to Tuesday Reitano, deputy director of the Global Initiative. The trans-Saharan smuggling business grew wildly between 2013 and 2015. The final number shows how much it was estimated to be worth in 2015—in Libya alone. As a result, the city’s elite business classes now include drug dealers, smugglers and pimps—the type of people who rape newly trafficked women to “break” them, beat migrants who haven’t paid their passage or bribe officials so that all this illicit work may continue. The downtown is dotted with Western Union signs and storefronts for banks. Brand-new McMansions are sprouting up on the fringes of town. Just taking photographs of these homes can be dangerous. The Huffington Post

In Challenge of Results, Gambia’s Jammeh Says Only ‘Allah’ Can Deprive Him of Victory
Gambia’s longtime president Yahya Jammeh says only “almighty Allah” can deprive him of victory as he seeks to overturn the results of this month’s presidential election. Opposition candidate Adama Barrow beat Jammeh in the December 1 election. Jammeh graciously conceded defeat at first, but now contends there were voter irregularities, and he has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the results of the vote. “I will not be intimidated by any power in this world,” Jammeh said on nationwide television. “I want to make sure that justice is done. I am a man of peace but I cannot be a coward.” VOA

EU Court Says Western Sahara Can’t Apply to EU-Morocco Deal
The European Union’s high court says that EU agreements on closer ties and trade with Morocco should not apply to the disputed Western Sahara region. The EU’s Court of Justice said on Wednesday that any EU deal with Morocco should have specifically referred to the region and that the people there should have consented to being part of such an agreement. The territory’s status is among the most sensitive topics in the North African kingdom. Morocco considers the vast mineral-rich Western Sahara as its “southern provinces” and fiercely defends against anything it considers a threat to its territorial integrity. Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front independence movement. The UN brokered a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it. News 24

Inside Orania, South Africa’s Whites-only Town
Orania is not prime real estate by any stretch of the imagination. The settlement west of the Orange River in Northern Cape, South Africa lies on arid and weather-beaten land; baked by the harsh summer sun and frigid through the dry winter. It’s farmable, but not easy, requiring strong backs and callused hands. Rising above the scrub the town’s symbol flutters atop a flagpole, a young boy rolling up his sleeves, preparing to knuckle down and transform this landscape. It’s a romanticized image for a romanticized notion: a place where Afrikaners can be Afrikaners. Tough, resourceful and making do; descendants of Dutch settlers and proud of it. A remote farming town of approximately 1,300, Orania by this description is unremarkable. Except it is not. Instead, the community has gained a notoriety beyond its modest means as a parochial enclave within the Rainbow Nation, where the dream of an Afrikaner state is alive and well. Orania, you might have guessed, is Afrikaner-only. And by extension, whites-only. It’s also growing. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones