Africa Media Review for December 28, 2017

George Weah’s Camp Claims Victory Ahead of Liberia Presidential Poll Results
Former football star George Weah’s camp said on Wednesday he was set to win Liberia’s presidential election run-off against Vice President Joseph Boakai in the country’s first democratic transfer of power in more than seven decades. Weah’s deputy campaign manager for operations, Morluba Morlu, said his prediction was based on precinct-level vote tallies he said were trickling in from across the country after Tuesday’s vote. Liberian election officials began counting the votes from Liberia’s 15 counties on Wednesday and planned to announce preliminary results in the afternoon, with final results due on Thursday. But unofficial partial results announced on local radio stations all showed the favourite Weah in the lead, and Morlu said he expected his candidate to win with about 70 per cent of the vote. Reuters

UN Dispatches Obasanjo to Liberia
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has announced that he is sending former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo to support Liberia to peacefully transfer power to a democratically-elected president. Guterres, who announced this yesterday in New York through his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, also welcomed the peaceful conduct of the second round of the presidential election in Liberia. Liberians on Tuesday voted in a second round of elections, deciding between Vice-President Joseph Boakai and George Weah, a politician and former soccer star. This would be Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power from one democratically-elected leader to another in more than 70 years. Daily Trust

South Sudan Fighting Leaves at Least 20 Dead after Cease-Fire
Almost two dozen government troops were killed in South Sudan during fighting, just a day after a cease-fire agreement came into effect, according to the main rebel group. The nations army and rebels last week agreed to cease hostilities from midnight Dec. 24, in a bid to end three years of violence that claimed tens of thousands of lives and forced 4 million people from their homes in the nation that only got independence in 2011. The government continued with aggression, the rebel groups deputy spokesman, Lam Paul Gabriel, said on his Facebook page on Dec. 26. Our forces repulsed the attackers and pursued them to their base in Kansuk, where more than 20 of them lost their lives and several injured. Bloomberg

DRC Steps up Arrests of South Sudan Refugees to Weed out Rebels
The Congolese army has stepped up arrests of South Sudanese refugees and tightened the border in a bid to block rebels from seeking sanctuary in its country, officials say. As hundreds fled into the Democratic Republic of Congo last week, after President Salva Kiir’s government army dislodged Riek Machar’s rebel SPLA-IO from its headquarters in southwestern Lasu, some 18 suspected rebels were taken into detention. It is the first time Congolese authorities have detained a significant number of South Sudanese and may signal a change in Kinshasa’s policy towards the neighbouring country, riven by a devastating four-year power struggle. AFP

Congo and Uganda Kill Dozens of Rebels Suspected in UN Killings
A joint Ugandan and Congolese military operation killed more than 100 militants aligned with a rebel group believed to be responsible for the killings of 15 peacekeepers earlier this month in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ugandan military said Wednesday. Forces attacked eight “enemy camps” in eastern Congo last Friday with air and artillery strikes, according to the military statement. The operation targeted the Allied Democratic Forces, which has battled governments in East Africa since the 1990s and has ties to several international jihadi groups. The organization has previously been sanctioned by the United States and the United Nations for terrorist activities. CNN

DRC Opposition Plans Court Challenge to Electoral Reforms
The opposition in Democratic Republic of Congo said Wednesday it had garnered enough signatures to challenge a new electoral reform, which it says is buttressing the ruling party of President Joseph Kabila. Opposition spokesman Christophe Lutundula said the reform “automatically” banned certain hopefuls from running against Kabila in the next election, scheduled for December 23, 2018. The opposition says the law automatically excludes certain candidates by setting a minimum threshold of the share of the national vote that a candidate must win in order to obtain a seat. They also dispute the use of voting machines in ballot stations and the high deposit that candidates must pay, equivalent to several hundred dollars. The changes “have put into place provisions which exclude independent candidates and are a flagrant violation of the constitution,” Lutundula told AFP. AFP

Nigerian Air Force Says US Agrees to Sell Fighter Planes to Nigeria
The Nigerian air force said on Wednesday the United States had agreed to sell fighter planes to Nigeria, as the West African country continues its eight-year conflict with Islamist insurgency Boko Haram. The sale of the 12 A29 Super Tucano aircraft, with weapons and services, is worth $593 million. The U.S. ambassador to Nigeria presented the letters of offer and acceptance, the official agreement to make the sale, to the country’s air force earlier on Wednesday, the air force statement said. The agreements are expected to be signed and necessary payments made before Feb. 20, the statement said, adding that the U.S. State Department has already approved the sale. VOA

Jailed Cameroon Writer Who Criticised Government to Be Expelled – Lawyer
A prize-winning New York-based Cameroonian novelist will be freed from jail and expelled from his native country after being held for nearly three weeks on charges of insulting and threatening the president, his lawyer said on Wednesday. Patrice Nganang was arrested on Dec. 7 as he prepared to board a flight to Kenya, and accused of insulting President Paul Biya. The government later said he had threatened Biya in posts on Facebook. A literature professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Nganang was born in Cameroon and holds dual Cameroonian and U.S. nationality. Nganang’s lawyer, Emmanuel Simh, told Reuters that a judge had dismissed the government’s charges and ordered his client released. Simh later said the authorities had retained Nganang’s Cameroonian passport and that he would be placed on an afternoon flight to the United States. Reuters

Ex-Army Boss to Be Sworn in as Zimbabwe vice President on Thursday
Retired army chief Constantino Chiwenga and veteran politician Kembo Mohadi will be sworn in as Zimbabwe’s vice presidents on Thursday, state-run Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said on Wednesday. The pair, appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, were elevated to similar positions in the ruling ZANU-PF party on Saturday. Chiwenga retired from the military this month. His appointment was expected as a reward for leading a de facto coup in November that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule and brought Mnangagwa to power. It also adds to signs of a consolidation of power for the army since it turned against the 93-year-old Mugabe. Mnangagwa has appointed several senior military officers to his cabinet and the ruling party’s top decision-making body, the Politburo. Reuters

Zim Anti-Corruption Agency Probes Grace Mugabe Ally
Anti-corruption investigators in Zimbabwe are probing how an ally of former first lady, Grace Mugabe, acquired large areas of prime land in the east of the country. Saviour Kasukuwere fled the country last month following a military crackdown against alleged “criminals” surrounding the former president Robert Mugabe. The state-run Manica Post reports in its latest edition that Kasukuwere acquired thousands of square metres of land earmarked for industrial developments in the border city of Mutare while he was still local government minister. “Since most of the things (alleged corrupt deals) were done some years back I asked my staffers to dig deep into their files and retrieve any evidence or documents that might be helpful (to investigators),” Mutare Town Clerk Joshua Maligwa told the paper. News 24

Libya Puts 142 Migrants on Plane Back to Guinea
Libya put 142 illegal migrants on a flight back to Guinea on Wednesday with the help of the U.N. migration agency, officials said, as the North African country steps up deportations to ease severe overcrowding in its detention centers. The number of people stuck in Libyan detention centers has risen dramatically this year after armed groups largely shut down the boat route to Italy from the smuggling hub of Sabratha. The International Organization for Migration flew the Guinean migrants from two western cities to the city of Misrata, from where they boarded a plane for Conakry. The deportations come in the wake of a CNN report on migrants being sold for slave labor that sparked an international outcry. VOA

Ethiopians Deported En Masse by Saudi Arabia Allege Abuses
Undocumented Ethiopian migrants who are being forcibly deported from Saudi Arabia by the thousands in a new crackdown say they were mistreated by authorities while detained. In interviews with The Associated Press upon their arrival home, the returnees described beatings, theft and stays in dirty prison camps. Their accounts brought to light one of the world’s busiest and most dangerous migrant routes but one that remains overlooked amid the larger rush toward Europe. Saudi Arabia, like other rich Gulf nations, is a magnet for hundreds of thousands of people from impoverished East African nations like Ethiopia and Somalia. They pay traffickers for rides in boats across the narrow waters to Yemen, where they make their way by land through a war zone. VOA

Germany Builds Two Centers in Morocco to Deport Unaccompanied Minor Migrants
After opening its doors for migrants and asylum seekers in 2015, Germany is planning to deport unaccompanied Moroccans, who reached Germany in the three last years. To do so, Germany is constructing centers in north Morocco to receive more than 3000 unaccompanied underage migrants. According to a Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) document leaked to the German daily Taz, two centers are being constructed in north Morocco to house the underage migrants returning to Morocco. The housing facilities will accommodate 100 person each. About four thousands Moroccan underage migrants have applied to asylum in 2016. However, only 174 files were accepted. Those whose applications were denied might be deported by Germany under specific conditions: either to have a family member or a responsible guardian to take care of them or an appropriate reception facility in their homelands, reported German news outlet, Deutsche Welle. Morocco World News

Erdogan Signs Defense, Investment Deals in Tunisia
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday signed agreements in Tunis on defense, investment and the environment as he and his Tunisian counterpart expressed their determination to strengthen economic cooperation. “We affirmed the desire of the two states to strengthen cooperation … taking into account the circumstances affecting Tunisia,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said. The Tunisian leader went on to praise “the understanding shown by the Turkish president regarding these circumstances.” Turkey and Tunisia have deep political and commercial ties, but their free trade agreement has been the subject of fierce discussion during debate on financial legislation. Tunisia’s trade imbalance has increased considerably, reaching 1.6 billion dinars ($649 million) in the first 10 months of 2017, and the country has reinstated customs duties on certain products imported from Turkey. Daily Star

Children Increasingly Used as Weapons of War, UNICEF Warns
Children caught in war zones are increasingly being used as weapons of war – recruited to fight, forced to act as suicide bombers, and used as human shields – the United Nations children’s agency has warned. In a statement summarising 2017 as a brutal year for children caught in conflict, Unicef said parties to conflicts were blatantly disregarding international humanitarian law and children were routinely coming under attack. Rape, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement had become standard tactics in conflicts across Iraq, Syria and Yemen, as well as in Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar. The Guardian

2017 Was a Terrible Year to Be a Refugee. But at a Massive Camp, I Saw Hope.
[…] The resettlement of Somali refugees in the United States has almost ceased entirely. The Kenyan government is threatening to shutter the camp. Thousands are returning to a failed state, 50 miles away, that has been destroyed by nearly three decades of civil war. So much of life in Dadaab is waiting for your trip to the airstrip, hoping your family will wind up on a flight to the United States and not the one to Somalia. There’s almost nothing you can do to determine whether that happens. “God decides,” Somalis say. But the camp is not a place of resignation — certainly not this year. It was a year of Googling “Donald Trump” and texting the United Nations refugee office here and asking anyone who might know anything about the newest U.S. travel ban. Nowhere in the world was there a larger concentration of people who were affected by the White House’s decision to suspend refu­gee admissions — at first globally, then from 11 “high-risk,” mostly Muslim countries. In February, Dadaab had 14,500 people who were already in the pipeline for resettlement. The Washington Post

Russia Loses Contact with Angolan Satellite in Fresh Embarrassment for Space Industry
Russia has lost contact with Angola’s first national telecoms satellite, launched from the Baikonur space pad, its maker said on Wednesday (Dec 27) in a fresh embarrassment for Moscow’s once proud space industry. The incident involving the Russian-made Angosat-1 followed a similar one in November when Russia lost contact with a weather satellite launched from a new cosmodrome in the country’s far east. Energia, Russia’s top spacecraft-maker, which produced the satellite for Angola, said it had reached orbit and established communication according to plan, but “after a while, it had stopped sending telemetry” data. “Energia specialists are analysing telemetry at their disposal,” the company said in a statement, adding it was working to re-establish contact. Staits Times