Africa Media Review for December 6, 2016

Gambia Court Orders Release of Opposition Leader, 18 Others
An appeals court in Gambia has ordered the release of a top opposition politician and 18 others who were arrested after they took part in a peaceful protest earlier this year calling for political reforms. The move comes just days after longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh agreed to step aside after losing a presidential election following 22 years in power. Human rights groups say Jammeh’s regime imprisoned and often killed political opponents. Appeals court president Justice A.O. Adogoke said on Monday that the prisoners would be granted bail but must have someone vouch for them and they must hand over their passports. News 24

Will Limit Powers of President: Gambia President-elect
The Gambian opposition leader, Adama Barrow, has won the presidential election, ending the 22-year rule of President Yahya Jammeh in the West African country. News of Barrow’s victory prompted thousands to take to the streets of the capital Banjul in celebration – some on foot while others rode in cars and trucks and on motorbikes – as confused soldiers looked on. Following his victory, Al Jazeera caught up with Barrow for an interview. The transcript of the interview has been edited for clarity. Al Jazeera

Libyan Forces Retake Sirte from ISIL
Members of a militia group loyal to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) have retaken control of the Libyan coastal city of Sirte from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. On Monday, Reda Issa, a spokesman for pro-government forces using the Arabic acronym for ISIl, said, “Our forces saw Daesh totally collapse”. The city, a strategic port for Libya, turned into an ISIL outpost in 2015. The group took advantage of conflict between various factions of former rebels who emerged as powerbrokers following the death of Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. Al Jazeera

DR Congo: Ethnic Clashes Leave 31 Dead
At least 31 people died in clashes between ethnic militia and security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the weekend, officials say. They say the violence in the central Kasai province was sparked by a row between an uncle and a nephew over the title of a traditional chief. Deputy Governor Hubert Mbingho N’Vula said 13 members of the security forces sent to quell the fighting were among those killed. Eighteen militiamen also died, he said. Mr N’Vula said public order had been restored in and around the city of Tshikapa in the remote province. DR Congo is beset by sporadic violence between ethnic militias. BBC

U.N. Identifies 41 Burundi, Gabon Troops Accused of Abuse in Central Africa
An internal United Nations inquiry has identified 25 peacekeepers from Burundi and 16 from Gabon accused of sexual abuse and exploitation in the Central African Republic in 2014 and 2015, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Monday. “Responsibility for further investigations lies with Burundi and Gabon,” Dujarric said, adding that the U.N. had asked those states to interview the identified troops, who all left Central African Republic before the allegations surfaced. The 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force there, known as MINUSCA, has been dogged by allegations of sexual abuse since its deployment in April 2014 to curb fighting between the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels and rival anti-balaka Christian militias. Reuters

Egypt Envisions ‘Strengthening’ of U.S. Relationship Under Trump
Egypt has experienced turbulent relations with the U.S. under the Obama administration, but President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was the first foreign leader to congratulate President-elect Donald Trump on his victory. Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner interviews Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry about anti-terrorism strategy, human rights, Egypt’s position on Syria and more. PBS Newshour

Ghana: West Africa’s Darling of Democracy Heads to the Polls
Ghana, the poster child for democracy in West Africa, votes to elect its future leaders on Wednesday. The race for the presidency is expected to be a straight contest between the National Democratic Congress (NDC), their campaign being run on the mantra of “transforming lives”, and the National Patriotic Party (NPP), which is campaigning on a “change agenda”. But there is also continuing debate over whether the ‘Nkrumahist’ forces, including the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), can emerge as a third option for voters. The leading presidential candidates are the same as those who featured in the last election in 2012: President John Mahama of the NDC and opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP. About 25 political parties are contesting the general election, but only seven candidates are in the race for the presidency (six representing political parties and one independent). allAfrica

Malawi Refers Lake Border Dispute With Tanzania to UN
Malawi has formally protested to the international community including United Nations (UN),government has confirmed. The border of Lake Malawi , which is potentially rich in oil and gas, is a subject of conflict between Malawi and ith Tanzania . Malawi disputes Tanzania’s claim to half the lake – Africa’s third biggest. Tanzania is promoting ea new map showing that the east African country owns part of the Lake Malawi. The neighbours have disagreed over their border since independence, and report that the lake had vast oil and gas reserves has reignited the ongoing dispute over the boundaries on Lake Malawi. Nyasa Times on allAfrica

Algerian Troops Discover Heavy Arms on Malian Border
Algerian Defense Ministry on Monday said its troops seized a load of war weapons on the borderline with Mali. “Part of anti-terrorism efforts and border security, vigilant army troops discovered on Monday a bunker full of arms and ammunition in the southern province of Adrar, near the Malian border,” the ministry said. The troops retrieved 20 Kalashnikov machine-guns, 13 ammunition boxes and 516 bullets of different calibers, it said. Algeria has deployed thousands of troops on the borderline with Mali and Libya to thwart intrusions of arms and militants. Xinhua

Tunisia Breaks Up 160 Militant Cells in First 10 Months of 2016: Ministry
Tunisian security forces dismantled 160 jihadist cells in the first 10 months of this year, about 45 percent more than during the whole of 2015, the interior ministry said on Friday. Tunisia has been the only Arab state to achieve a relatively peaceful democratic transition since the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 but has struggled to contain Islamist militancy, partly because of a spillover of instability from neighboring Libya. An interior ministry statement said the number of terrorism suspects arrested between January and October this year was 850, compared with 547 for all of 2015. Reuters

Somali Army, Puntland Forces Recapture Qandala Town
Somalia’s autonomous region of Puntland forces backed by Somali National Army have retaken control of the strategic coastal town of Qandala from Daesh Sunday. Colonel Abdirasaq Aynab Ali, head of Puntland Marine Forces, told reporters that they recaptured Qandala town from militants loyal to Daesh Sunday afternoon. “We have fully captured the town from militants, we reached there earlier in the morning, they fell and headed in their stronghold of Galgala” Colonel Abdirasaq told reporters. Anadolu Agency

Where to from Here for the UN in South Sudan?
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has increasingly come under criticism for failing to achieve its core mandate – to protect civilians – following the July 2016 crisis in the capital city, Juba. Numerous factors contributed to this failure, chief among them a fundamental mismatch between the mandate and capacity of the mission. The current mandate of the mission expires on December 15. The UN Security Council (UNSC) is currently reviewing the possibility of extending it. This raises several key questions. Would UNMISS be able to overcome the many hiccups it has experienced to effectively support the peace process beyond December? And, more important, would it continue with a similar mandate, or will the mission be empowered with an executive mandate of full capability? Daily Maverick

Poverty, Prejudice Drive More Women to Join Boko Haram Militants
Failing to improve the lives of girls and women trapped in poverty and domestic drudgery in northeast Nigeria could drive them into the ranks of extremist groups, analysts said on Monday. Many girls and women have been abducted by the jihadist group Boko Haram and used as cooks, sex slaves, and even suicide bombers, according to rights groups including Amnesty International. Yet some women in the mainly Muslim northeast, frustrated by poverty, gender discrimination and deep-rooted patriarchy, have chosen to join Boko Haram voluntarily in the hope of a better life, an International Crisis Group (ICG) report said. “For some women trapped in domestic life, Boko Haram offers an escape,” Rinaldo Depagne, West Africa project director for the ICG, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Dakar, Senegal. SABC

Nigeria’s President Accuses UN of Hyping up North-east Crisis for $1bn Appeal
President Buhari has accused the UN and aid agencies of creating “hype” and exaggerating the humanitarian crisis in north-eastern Nigeria in order to encourage more donations. A crisis in states severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency has been escalating in Nigeria over the last 12 months. On Friday, the UN warned that next year, 5.1 million people would be likely to face serious food shortages if more aid to the north-east of the country does not arrive. Peter Lundberg, the deputy humanitarian coordinator for the UN in Nigeria, described the crisis as the worst on the African continent, appealing that without more aid, the situation is set to worsen. In an appeal for a $1bn (£800m) humanitarian response plan launched in partnership with the Nigerian government on Friday, Lundberg claimed, “the narrative on this humanitarian crisis can no longer be ignored. We are appealing to the international community to help us prevent the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians over the coming 12 months.” The Guardian

Ahead of Trump White House, Obama Administration Releases Memo Outlining Use of Force Rules
On the eve of a new administration that has promised more aggressive counterterrorism operations, the Obama White House has released a lengthy compendium of its own policies governing the use of force. The 61-page document outlines eight years of the administration’s legal opinions, executive orders and military directives. In a strong defense of the administration’s actions, it lists rules for lethal drones and terrorist detention, and describes the international and domestic law that undergirds them. Such rules are important to reduce “the risk of an ill-considered decision,” President Obama wrote in an introduction to the document. When making policy on war and peace, he wrote, it was critical to disclose “as much information as possible to the public . . . so that an informed public can scrutinize our actions and hold us to account.” […] Revisiting past announcements and releases, the report outlines how those rules have been applied in each theater in which they have been used, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — all of which, except Somalia, have been designated “areas of active hostilities” covered by the international laws of war. The designation exempts such areas from rules that the administration laid out in 2013 for targeted killings outside war zones. The Washington Post

NATO Co-chairs Counter-piracy Conference
Last week saw Bahrain host the 39th Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) conference, a forum to discuss counter-piracy in the Gulf of Aden and in the Indian Ocean as well as the importance of co-operation between naval units in the region, industry and other concerned organisations. NATO as a deployed operational partner, co-chaired for the final time, the biannual forum. The chairmanship is a rotating role among NATO, the European Union Naval Forces (EU NAVFOR) which runs EU Operation Atalanta and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) which deploys Combined Task Force 151 (CTF151). More than 100 delegates from 25 countries, representing the military task forces, independent deployers, international organisations, industry, think-tanks and NGOs participated in the conference. Presentations and speakers addressed current counter-piracy activities and other security challenges during the two day gathering. DefenceWeb

Five African Countries Ban ‘Dirty Fuels’ from Europe
Five countries in West Africa have decided to stop importing “dirty fuels” from Europe, the UN Environment Programme says. A recent report revealed that European companies were exploiting weak regulations in West Africa to export fuels with high levels of sulphur. Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire agreed on the import ban. The UN says the move will help more than 250 million people breathe safer and cleaner air. The sulphur particles emitted by a diesel engine are considered to be a major contributor to air pollution and are ranked by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top global health risks. BBC

Court Challenge to South African ICC Withdrawal Could Go Either Way
A case challenging the South African government’s decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC) went before a court on Monday. The challenge was lodged by the country’s main opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA). The decision was taken by President Jacob Zuma last October, following similar moves from Burundi and The Gambia. The DA wants the country High Court to nullify the decision, arguing that the move was unconstitutional. The opposition party argues that Zuma has bypassed and “undermined” parliament. Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, the director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, which is a party to the challenge, was at Monday’s hearing. RFI

The U.S. Finally Did Something Right in Africa — and It’s About to Stop
[…] Money still talks just as loudly these days, of course, but Moloi’s family is now reunited in Lesotho. That’s thanks to an obscure American trade deal that has enabled the country’s garment and textile industries to flourish, elevating a generation of young women like Moloi to the status of primary breadwinners and lessening the need for male relatives to seek dangerous work across the border in South Africa. The trade deal, known as the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), has been a major economic boon for the people of Lesotho, especially the women who dominate factory floors. But it could soon become a casualty of the government’s deteriorating record on human rights. Because the government has failed to hold accountable the leaders of a 2014 attempted coup that turned violent, the U.S. Trade Representative could soon revoke Lesotho’s eligibility for AGOA. (A decision is expected by Jan. 1.) That, says Lehlohonolo Chefa, executive director of the Policy Analysis and Research Institute of Lesotho (PARIL), would be catastrophic for tens of thousands of families like Moloi’s who have benefitted from AGOA and bear no responsibility for their government’s failures. Foreign Policy

State Department: No One Entered US with Visas Issued by Fake Embassy
The U.S. State Department on Monday said no one is known to have entered the United States on visas issued by a fake U.S. embassy that operated in Accra, Ghana, for a decade. “They were duped, they were conned,” the State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, said of those who paid thousands of dollars for the documents. Ghanaian and Turkish organized crime rings ran the operation in collusion with a Ghanaian immigration and criminal law attorney, according to officials in Washington. “We learned about it this year,” despite the bogus diplomatic facility being in existence for 10 years, Toner told reporters. VOA

Yellow Fever Epidemic in Africa Shows Gaps in Vaccine Pipeline
The yellow fever outbreak in Africa this year came closer to being a disaster than is widely recognized, public health experts recently disclosed. The epidemic also revealed glaring weaknesses in the emergency vaccine supply pipeline. The first deaths in Angola were misdiagnosed as food poisoning; the global emergency vaccine stockpile was depleted before even one city was fully protected; and diagnostic laboratories were so far away that it was months before the scope of the outbreak was clear and a worldwide alarm was raised. Ultimately, the yellow fever outbreak was halted only by a huge vaccination campaign that stretched supplies by diluting doses, and even that succeeded only because some unusual donors stepped in. Brazil contributed 18 million doses of yellow fever vaccine — three times the amount in the emergency stockpile — to contain the African outbreak. Even South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest nations, gave up 400,000 doses intended for its children. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones