Africa Media Review for December 27, 2017

Liberians Await Vote Tally in Presidential Election
Liberians cast their ballots Tuesday in a runoff election to select their next president. Now they await the final vote tally, which could take days. Former soccer star George Weah and Vice President Joseph Boakai are vying to replace President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two terms, the maximum allowed under Liberia’s constitution. Poll workers said turnout appeared to be lower than the October 10 election in which Boakai and Weah were the top vote-getters, qualifying them for the runoff election. Observers said polling stations were better organized than during the October vote, and there were few reports of problems. The National Elections Commission said a woman who tried to vote twice was caught and arrested. VOA

Turnout Is Low in Liberian Presidential Run-Off
Liberia voted Tuesday in a delayed but peaceful run-off election for a new president, contested by former international footballer George Weah and Vice-President Joseph Boakai. Voters have chosen a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after 12 years as Africa’s first elected female head of state, representing the West African country’s first democratic transition since 1944. AFP journalists saw polling stations closing at 6:00 pm (1800 GMT) as counting was due to begin, while results are expected in the next few days, according to the electoral commission. Reuters

Liberian Runoff Could Mark First Peaceful Transition of Power since 1944
Liberia has not witnessed a peaceful transition of power since 1944, and the fate of past presidents — since 1971, four of them have either died in office or been sent into exile — is so grim that many Liberians consider the presidential palace to be haunted. That legacy hung over this West African nation, founded in the early 19th century by freed American slaves, on Tuesday as voters chose a successor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose term ends next month. In 2005, Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf became the first woman to be elected a head of state in Africa. During her 12 years in power, Liberia tried to turn the page on two civil wars that had left this once moderately prosperous country in ruins. She shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 in recognition of her contributions to democracy. The New York Times

New US Airstrike in Somalia Kills 13 Al-Shabab Members
The U.S. military says it has killed 13 members of the al-Shabab extremist group with a new airstrike in southern Somalia. The statement from the U.S. Africa Command says the strike was carried out Sunday morning. A spokeswoman says it occurred about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of Kismayo and that no civilians were killed. The United States has carried out 34 drone strikes in Somalia this year after the Trump administration expanded military efforts against Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group.  AP

Four Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Nigeria Attack on Monday: Sources
Four civilians were killed in an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants on Monday in the Nigerian city at the center of a conflict with the Islamists, a resident and two officials told Reuters. Nigeria’s army said on Monday evening it had repelled the assault on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the spiritual birthplace of Boko Haram. It was the first major attack on the northeast city since June. The army statement made no mention of casualties but Musa Alkali, a resident of the attacked area, Molai, told Reuters on Tuesday he saw four corpses. Reuters

Nigerian Ex-President’s Campaign Chief Held for Alleged Graft
The former campaign chief of Nigeria’s ex-president Goodluck Jonathan has been arrested for allegedly stealing $48.5 million from state coffers to fund his failed 2015 re-election bid, an official said on Tuesday. Ngozi Olojeme was head of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) and siphoned off this amount from the fund, an official from the national anti-corruption agency EFCC told AFP. “She is in our custody for an alleged fraud totally $48 485 127 belonging to NSITF,” he said, and added that the EFCC had also seized 38 properties traced to Olojeme. “The properties have been placed under an interim forfeiture in line with a court injunction pending further investigation and trial,” he said. AFP

Macron Gets Tough as France Struggles to Deal with Migrants
It’s getting colder, the clock is ticking and regional authorities are scrambling to meet President Emmanuel Macron’s deadline: get migrants off France’s streets and out of forest hideouts by year’s end. That won’t likely happen, and Macron’s government is now tightening the screws: ramping up expulsions, raising pressure on economic migrants and allowing divisive ID checks in emergency shelters. Critics contend that Macron’s increasingly tough policy on migrants — though wrapped in a cloak of goodwill — contradicts his image as a humanist who defeated an anti-immigrant populist for the presidency, and has crossed a line passed by no other president in the land that prides itself as the cradle of human rights. From snowy Alpine passes to the borders with Spain or Germany, migrants keep making their way to France. In Paris alone, police have evacuated around 30,000 people camping on sidewalks in the last two years. The Washington Post

Italy Rescues More Than 250 Migrants in Mediterranean
More than 250 migrants were rescued in the central Mediterranean during the night between Monday and Tuesday, Italy’s Coast Guard said. A statement said the migrants, in one large rubber dinghy and two small boats, were rescued in three missions by two ships, one from a non-governmental organisation. Migrant arrivals to Italy have fallen by two-thirds year on year since July after officials working for the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli put pressure on people smugglers in the Libyan city of Sabratha to stop boats leaving. Italy is also bolstering the Libyan coast guard’s ability to turn back boats. Reuters

Explosion at Major Oil Pipeline in Libya
Armed attackers blew up a major oil pipeline in Libya on Tuesday, military and oil sources said. The pipeline feeds into the central distribution station of Es Sider port on the Mediterranean Sea. The state-run National Oil Corporation said in a statement that oil flow had been reduced by about 70,000-100,000 bpd. It was unclear who carried out the attack. “Islamic State” militants had been in the area before government forces defeated them in their Siirte stronghold last year. Libya is rife with rival militias and armed groups, some in competition with the internationally backed government. Deutsche Welle

Sudan, Russia and Qatar Hold Military Discussions in Khartoum
The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)’s Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Emad al-Din Mustafa Adawi Tuesday held discussions with the visiting Qatari and Russian counterparts. The Chief of Staff of the Qatari Armed Forces Major-General Ghanim Bin Shaheen Al-Ghanim arrived in Khartoum on Monday on several days visit. He was received at the airport by Adawi and the Qatari Ambassador to Khartoum Rashid bin Abdulrahman Al Nuaimi besides a number of SAF commanders. Sudan is among the Arab states that refused to take part in the ongoing crisis between several Gulf and Arab countries and Qatar and declared its support for the Kuwaiti efforts to settle the rift. Sudan Tribune

Congo Watches for Rebels among South Sudan Refugees
Since South Sudan’s government captured a rebel base last week in the country’s southwest, hundreds of refugees have poured into Democratic Republic of Congo. Among them may be rebels, and the Congolese army, wary of conflict spilling into their nation, is arresting any suspected fighters. Refugees, however, say innocent young men are being caught up in the crackdown, too. Grace Gaba, speaking from the border of town of Aba where some 30,000 refugees have taken shelter, said her brother, Joseph Moro, was arrested by Congolese troops at a checkpoint last week and has been held ever since. VOA

Yemeni Huthis Threaten to Hit Somaliland
Rebels loyal to Yemeni Huthis have threatened to attack the self-declared Republic of Somaliland for supporting their enemies. The rebels, in a social media video message read by hooded fighters, say they were aware of Somaliland intending to provide a military base to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). “If Somaliland goes ahead with its plan to allow the UAE to use Berbera port as military base to carry out bombardments to Huthi rebels, it will be a wrong decision,” said the rebels. “If Somaliland does not heed to the warning then we will fire ballistic missiles to Somaliland,” they said further. The breakaway Somaliland has also offered UAE the administration of the Berbera port, the main harbour facing the Gulf of Aden. The rebel group fighting the internationally recognised government of Yemen has been facing stiff opposition from a coalition led by Saudi Arabia, which includes UAE. The East African

Egypt Wants World Bank to Help on Ethiopia Dam Impasse
Egypt said Tuesday the World Bank should be brought in to resolve tensions with Ethiopia over a massive dam on the Nile River that Egypt says threatens its water security. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke in Addis Ababa after a 10-month impasse over technical negotiations for the dam, which will be Africa’s biggest hydro-electric plant. The talks also involve Sudan. “Egypt has recognized the importance of economic development to Ethiopia . but science should be the determining factor on how we manage this important issue,” Shoukry said. He called the World Bank “neutral and decisive” and said it could facilitate negotiations “devoid of political interpretation and manipulation.” The Washington Post

Khaled Ali: Egypt’s Unlikeliest Challenger to Strongman President
Khaled Ali is an unassuming sort of revolutionary. Dressed in a tweed jacket, his formidable eyebrows arching over thick-rimmed glasses, he could be mistaken for a substitute teacher rather than a firebrand lawyer and hopeful presidential candidate in Egypt’s forthcoming election. “I’m seen as a traitor funded from abroad,” he said, shrugging off the criticisms levelled at him by Egyptian media and pro-government figures. Ali’s platform, a mix of welfare proposals including expanded health insurance and a minimum wage, is reminiscent of socialists who’ve broken into mainstream politics elsewhere, such as Bernie Sanders or even Jeremy Corbyn. Does he see himself in the same tradition? Ali gives his only interview response in English: “I am Khaled Ali.” Then he laughs. The Guardian

Torture Is Still Rampant in Tunisia
On Dec. 11, only one day after the 69th anniversary of the UN General Assembly proclaiming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a young man who was held up at the Tunisian National Guard Center, a semi-military apparatus in El Aroussa town in Siliana governorate, faced a horrible death. The Ministry of Interior issued an official statement Dec. 11, saying, “The victim committed suicide [by strangling himself] with a thread from his coat.” Despite the statement, the incident sparked wide protests in the town and led to clashes between the inhabitants and policemen. It seems torture is far from dead in Tunisia since the Jan. 14, 2011, revolution. Al Monitor

Thousands Protest in Morocco after Two Brothers Die in ‘Mines of Death’
They call them “the mines of death”. In the neglected northern Moroccan mining city of Jerada, hundreds of people risk their lives every day to scrape a meagre living from perilous abandoned coal pits. Last week, two brothers died in a tunnel accident, 85 metres (90 yards) below ground, sparking days of mass protests in the impoverished city. Abderrazak Daioui, who was with the brothers, narrowly escaped the same fate. “Houcine and Jedouane were just below me,” the 22-year-old said. “One of them dug horizontally and hit a water well. We were flooded. I hung on my rope and managed to get back up. They weren’t so lucky.”  France 24

Blocked from Europe, Migrants Settle in Morocco
Unable to reach Europe in search of a better life, Aliou Ndiaye settled in Morocco instead, giving up on his original goal like thousands of other sub-Saharan African migrants. “Everyone has the right to go to another country to try their luck,” the 31-year-old former fish exporter from Senegal told AFP. “Lots of people are trying to reach Europe, but some end up staying to make a living.” Seven out of 10 West Africa-born migrants stay on the continent, according to a December study by the Moroccan think tank OCP Policy Center. Discouraged by the danger of passing through countries such as Libya and by harsh policies aimed at preventing migrants going to Europe, many settle in “transit” countries including Morocco. Ndiaye said he gave up after he realised reaching Spain was “too hard”. AFP

Racially Charged Farm Murders Rock SA
[…] Robert “Oki” Turner, 66, was beaten to death before her eyes six months ago on their isolated stretch of mountain land in Limpopo. He was one of the latest victims of a long campaign of violence against the country’s farmers, who are largely white. The rural crime epidemic has inflamed political and racial tensions nearly a quarter of a century after the fall of apartheid. Farm murders are just one issue that reveals how South Africa is struggling with violence, an economic slowdown and divisions along racial lines. The Turners moved to the verdant region, halfway between the Kruger National Park and Zimbabwe, some 30 years ago. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones