Africa Media Review for December 29, 2017

George Weah Elected Liberian President
Former football star George Weah has been elected as Liberia’s president. With nearly all ballots from Tuesday’s run-off vote counted, Mr Weah is well ahead of opponent Joseph Boakai with more than 60% of the vote. As news of Mr Weah’s victory emerged, his supporters began celebrating in the capital Monrovia. He will succeed Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female president, in Liberia’s first democratic handover in decades. BBC

South African Court Delivers Zuma Impeachment Blow
South Africa’s top court has found that parliament failed to comply with its duties in holding President Jacob Zuma accountable over a public funding case. The ruling said parliament must now set out rules for impeachment proceedings, but it remains unclear whether this will lead to any impeachment. The court was hearing a case brought by opposition groups who wanted parliament to be compelled to begin impeachment. It relates to Mr Zuma’s use of state funds to upgrade his private home. BBC

Egypt Says 10 Killed in Attack on Coptic Church
Egypt’s Health Ministry spokesman says at least 10 people, including eight Coptic Christians, have been killed in a shootout outside a south Cairo church. Khaled Megahed says Friday’s attack took place when gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire outside Mar Mina church. One gunman was shot dead as was a security officer, he said. Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency, citing an unnamed Interior Ministry official, said the other assailant fled the scene and was being pursued. Earlier, security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity said two police were killed. AP

Bomb kills 6, including army colonel, in Egypt’s Sinai
A roadside bomb planted by Islamic militants in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula hit a military vehicle on Thursday, killing six people, including a senior army officer, security and hospital officials said. They said the bomb struck a military convoy that was patrolling an area just outside the town of Bir al-Abd in northern Sinai, killing a colonel who was the town’s military commander, a second officer and four soldiers. Three more soldiers were wounded in the attack, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media. AP

Ouster of a Brutal Militia from Libya’s Smuggling Hub Chokes off Migrant Flow
For nearly two years, this ancient, beachfront city, famed for its Roman ruins, was one of North Africa’s largest smuggling hubs, a gateway for tens of thousands of migrants seeking better futures in Europe. Now, there are none on the beaches where hundreds of rickety boats once ferried them to Italy illegally, none in the migrant detention center where they ended up when an attempt failed. At the five-star West Tallil Holiday resort, the white, two-story villas once housed as many as 3,000 migrants at a time waiting to set sail. Their traffickers, who had seized the hotel, had erected sand dunes along the beach to hide them from Libyan coast guard patrols and curious swimmers. The resort is now empty, as are the smugglers’ other safe houses. Ferocious street battles among rival armed groups erupted this fall, ultimately driving out the young warlord Ahmed Dabbashi, whose militia ran the trade in migrants. The victors then expelled the migrants. The Washington Post

Italy Aims to Send up to 470 Troops to Niger to Curb People-Smuggling
Italy aims to deploy up to 470 troops to Niger to help tackle people-smuggling, the military General Staff said Thursday. Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Sunday some of the 1,400 Italian troops now stationed in Iraq could be transferred to the Sahel region in West Africa — which includes Niger — after victories against Islamist militants in Iraq. Gentiloni said the redeployed troops could also help to combat terrorism in the Sahel. The General Staff said in a statement that a reconnaissance mission was under way in Niger to help decide the scale of the assistance, which the African country’s government has requested but which still needs to be approved by Italy’s parliament. If the necessary approval is given, Italy would aim to gradually send up to 470 troops, probably posting an average of 250 over the course of a year, the statement said. VOA

Ugandan Military Doesn’t Rule out Further Operations against ADF Rebels in Congo
More than 100 fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces militant group have been killed in a joint operation by the Ugandan and Congolese military, according to Uganda’s army spokesperson. The military action in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was in response an increased level of threat from the Muslim rebels. “We have received increased signals of intended, active, hostile activities against Uganda which necessitated beefing up security along our common border,” Richard Karemire, Uganda’s army spokesperson, told RFI. The Ugandan army used its air force and artillery division in the operation on 22 December, according to Karemire. No Ugandan troops were deployed inside the DRC, he said. RFI

South Sudan Army Deploys Former Rebel Commander in New Reshuffle
The South Sudanese army (SPLA) has deployed General Dau Aturjong, a former rebel commander, to head its third infantry division in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region. The division oversees and provides security protection to Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states, two of South Sudan’s former states expanded into Twic, Aweil East, Aweil and parts of Lol, Gogrial and Tonj states. The third infantry division under Aturjong also extends military support to the contested Abyei area and parts of the greater Unity region. The former rebel commander succeeds Dau General Santino Deng Wol who has been promoted and given new assignment as the commander of ground forces at the military headquarters in Bilpam. Sudan Tribune

Suicide Bomber Kills Six in Nigerian Market
A suicide bomber blew himself up Thursday in a crowded market in northern Nigeria, killing six people, security sources said, blaming the attack on the Boko Haram jihadist group. The bomber, who passed himself off as a grain merchant, staged the attack in Amarwa village, about 20km from Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram and the capital of Borno State. The attack came days after a failed Boko Haram attack on Christmas Day in Maiduguri. “Six people died on the spot from the explosion while 13 others were seriously injured,” Babagana Kolo, a leader of a militia force helping the army in the fight against Boko Haram told AFP. “The injured have been brought to the general hospital here in Maiduguri while the dead have been buried in the village,” he said. AFP

Boko Haram ‘Forced’ 135 Children into Suicide Bombings
UNICEF on Thursday warned of an alarming surge in the number of children being used in conflict zones around the world as parties to conflicts ignore international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable. The UN body said in a statement that in northern Nigeria and Cameroon, Boko Haram had forced at least 135 children to act as suicide bombers in 2017, almost five times the number in 2016. ”Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Program. Anadolu Agency

Nigeria Fuel Crisis Spawns Thriving Black Market
Long lines of vehicles have extended outside petrol stations in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, this week, where frustrated motorists say they have waited for upwards of 10 hours amid a severe, countrywide fuel shortage. “I’ve been on queue since last night,” motorist Abednego Abna told Al Jazeera, outside a petrol station in Abuja. “And up until this moment, there is no sign of our vehicle moving from its position, to [any] hope of getting the fuel.” The Nigerian government is struggling to deal with the situation and has placed the blame on the shoulders of petrol vendors, whom it accuses of dramatically increasing prices. Al Jazeera

US Airstrikes in Somalia Increasing Pressure on Al-Shabab
The United States military says its support for the Federal Government of Somalia is making an impact in a year in which the Trump administration increased attacks against al-Shabab militants. In 2017, the U.S. conducted at least 34 strike operations against al-Shabab and a militant splinter group supporting the Islamic State, according observers of U.S. military activities against al-Shabab. Last year there were 14 strikes. Thirty-one of the strikes targeted al-Shabab while the other three targeted pro-Islamic State militants in northeastern Puntland region. Since U.S. President Donald Trump eased combat rules in March and declared parts of Somalia a “war zone,” strike operations conducted by the U.S. have killed more than 155 militants, according to a press statement given by the Africa command. VOA

Why Are So Many Countries Expanding in the Red Sea?
Turkey has signed an agreement with Sudan that will allow it to have a military presence on the Red Sea. It is the latest country to expand into the area. The list of countries already in the region or building bases there include: Saudi Arabia, China, Israel, the UAE and the US. The US and European Union maintain regular security patrols in the region. But the Red Sea is also one of the world’s busiest maritime gateways for transporting oil. So, why is there a sudden interest in the Red Sea region?  Al Jazeera

Uganda Charges 45 Rwandan Nationals with Terrorism: Report
A government-controlled newspaper in Uganda says 45 Rwandan nationals have been charged with terrorism and establishing a terror organization. The New Vision reported Friday that the suspects were charged Thursday in a remote town in western Uganda. The report gives few details about the charges. Ugandan police and a judiciary spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. The charges come amid apparent diplomatic tensions between Uganda and neighboring Rwanda after two senior Ugandan policemen were accused of illegally handing over two wanted refugees to Rwanda. AP

Togo Govt Hit with Fresh Round of Opposition Protests
A fresh round of protests kicked off in Togo on Wednesday as opposition supporters hit the streets with anti-government demonstrations in the capital Lome and other towns. A 14-member opposition coalition in the West African country continues its demands for the resignation of the incumbent president Faure Gnassingbe. Hundreds of people wearing red head bands and carrying placards marched the streets in a largely peaceful process according to local media reports. Previous instances have been met with tear gas and live bullets from security forces. The latest protests are expected to be held till the end of the year. The opposition are also calling for other constitutional reforms and a return to the 1992 constitution which caps presidential term limits. Africa News

Robert Mugabe’s Retirement Package: 20 Staff, Private Air Travel and a Fleet of Cars
Zimbabwe’s ousted president Robert Mugabe will get a residence, a car fleet and private air travel as part of a new government-funded retirement package for former leaders, according to state media. Mugabe will also be entitled to at least 20 staffers including six personal security guards, all paid for from state coffers, according to details of the benefits published in The Herald newspaper. The 93-year-old, who quit last month under popular pressure following a military takeover, is the first beneficiary of the generous measures unveiled on Wednesday by new President Emmerson Mnangagwa. No monetary details were spelt out, but the country’s constitution stipulates that an ex-president is entitled to a pension equivalent to the salary of a sitting president. The Guardian

After Bloody Year, North Africa Braces for More Conflict in 2018
Egypt and its North African neighbors are facing terror threats, economic pressures and political uncertainty as a year of regional turmoil draws to a close and a rocky future looms on the horizon. Egypt suffered a series of major terror attacks against civilian and military targets in 2017, causing significant loss of life and economic damage. As the so-called Islamic State group crumbles, analysts predict more violence to come. “Because the so-called Islamic caliphate is collapsing in Syria and Iraq, we will then see a massive return of some of these jihadis, who would be able to penetrate within the communities of North Africa,” said David Otto of Global Risk Management. Both Tunisian and Egyptian security forces have battled Islamic militants infiltrating from neighboring Libya, a cauldron of political chaos and terrorism. VOA

Why Did 90 Percent of Kenyan Students Fail Secondary Exams?
Some Kenyan opposition lawmakers are calling on the government to investigate why 90 percent of the 600,000 students who took the 2017 secondary education exams failed. The minister of education, however, expressed satisfaction with the results. Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, opposition legislator Caleb Amisi said parliament must understand what led to only 10 percent of students scoring high enough to enter university. “Kenya National Examination Council must be ordered to prepare and present a comprehensive report over this perceived mass failure, and an independent investigation should as well be incorporated,” Amisi said. “This should be conducted by some of the most credible auditing companies in Kenya.” VOA



Photo: Adam Jones