Africa Media Review for December 6, 2018

Aid Groups Accuse UN of Manipulating Data Ahead of Congo Polls
Aid agencies working in the Democratic Republic of Congo have accused the United Nations of manipulating data ahead of elections to give an overly positive impression of the situation in a country beset by conflict and disease. They say new figures from the U.N. humanitarian agency that show a large drop in the number of displaced people are misleading, accusing it of bowing to government pressure before a presidential election scheduled for December 23. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Congo said it did not manipulate data and that it is in ongoing discussions with agencies on the issue. The government also rejected the accusation, saying aid agencies deliberately exaggerated crises to increase funding.  VOA

UN Rights Office: Burundi’s Government Has Asked Us to Leave
The United Nations human rights office on Thursday said Burundi’s government has asked it to leave, months after the outgoing U.N. rights chief called the country one of the “most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times.” Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani in Geneva confirmed they received a letter on Wednesday “requesting us to close the office. We of course regret this decision and we would like to continue our cooperation with Burundi.” She declined to comment further, calling the issue sensitive. Sources within the U.N. office in Burundi told The Associated Press that they were given two months to leave. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. The East African nation’s government has long been angered by U.N. reports describing alleged abuses amid the political turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for another term in 2015. AP

Somali Officials Report Deadly US-Backed Raid on Al-Shabab
Somali commandos backed by U.S. forces raided two al-Shabab checkpoints at which the extremists extort money from commercial vehicles, killing several fighters, Somali intelligence officials said Wednesday. The officials also said two U.S. airstrikes in the area during the overnight raid destroyed an explosives-laden minibus that was prepared for a complex attack on an unspecified location. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The U.S. Africa Command in a statement said four extremists were killed in a “self-defense airstrike” after U.S. and partner forces came under attack. It said no civilians were involved. Military Times

Somalia: Five Killed in Al Shabaab Attack Near Kenyan Border Town
At least five regional soldiers have been killed in an ambush attack carried out by Al Qaeda linked Al Shabaab near Kenyan border town along Somalia. The attack took place near Baladxawo, a town close to Kenyan border town, after Al Shabaab fighters launched a surprise attack on army base manned by Jubaland forces. Al Qaeda inspired group Al Shabaab claimed to have killed at least 5 Jubaland soldiers during the attack through its website. The group says its fighters had also seized 4 AK-47s following Thursday’s ambush assault. There was no immediate comment from Jubaland army forces over the claims. The group has been waging insurgency for more than ten years. Mareeg.com

Bloody Rivalry Erupts between Al-Shabab, IS Group in Somalia
A bloody rivalry has emerged between extremist groups in Somalia as the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab hunts upstart fighters allied to the Islamic State group, who have begun demanding protection payments from major businesses, officials tell The Associated Press. The rivalry supports some observers’ suspicions that al-Shabab, now scrambling to defend its monopoly on the mafia-style extortion racket that funds its high-profile attacks, is drifting from its long-declared goal of establishing a strict Islamic state. The manhunt began in October with the killing of a top leader of the IS-linked group by a suspected al-Shabab death squad in the capital, Mogadishu, according to several Somali intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. AP

With Arms Fair, Big-Buyer Egypt Aims to Diversify Sources
Egypt’s first international weapons fair wrapped up Wednesday, giving the major arms purchaser vast opportunities to diversify its weapons sources while hosting an event in the booming industry’s hottest region, where conflicts rage from Libya to Yemen. The three-day Egypt Defence Expo saw nearly 400 exhibition stands and some 10,000 military and defense visitors from over 40 countries. The fair was billed to the public as an event to boost the country’s prestige on the world stage and project an image of security. It also sought to draw big-ticket buyers from oil-and-gas rich Gulf countries and set up an additional platform for an increasing number of global weapons traders. Details on new agreements or sales resulting from the show have yet to be announced, and officials were tight-lipped about figures considered state secrets in Egypt, where the military has been a dominant force in politics since independence.  AP

Tunisia’s Nidaa Tounes in Shambles amid Political Turbulence
Almost seven years after the uprising that toppled one of the Arab world’s longest-serving autocrats, a looming political stalemate is threatening the stability Tunisia desperately needs to revive its stagnant economy. Late last month, the secretary-general of Tunisia’s ruling party Nidaa Tounes, Slim Riahi, initiated legal proceedings in a Tunis military tribunal against current Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and a number of other officials, accusing them of plotting to stage a coup against President Beji Caid Essebsi. Riahi’s move came in response to a recent partial cabinet reshuffle led by Chahed – himself a member of Nidaa Tounes – that created a high-level standoff between the prime minister and the party. Al Jazeera

Angola President Holds Unprecedented Talks with Civic Groups
Angolan President Joao Lourenco, elected last year as the country’s first new leader in nearly four decades, met civic groups on Tuesday in unprecedented talks as part of his reforms. The meeting was marred by presidential staff refusing entry of investigative journalist Rafael Marques who was critical of Lourenco’s predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos during his 38-year rule. Marques said later he been invited to a private meeting with Lourenco on Wednesday in what he called a sign of “good will”. Participants in the talks, including singer Luaty Beirao who served prison time on rebellion charges in 2015-2016, praised talks as progress in dialogue between the government and critics in Angola, dominated for decades by the dos Santos family. AFP

Ghana-Togo Maritime Boundary Negotiations Fail
Ghana and Togo have failed to come to a consensus after three rounds of negotiation on the maritime boundary demarcation between them. Ghana’s upstream oil and gas activities toward its eastern border with Togo have, in the recent past, met firm opposition from the eastern neighbour leading to the cessation of activities since December last year. Officials from Togo also stopped two vessels from Ghana from undertaking seismic activities to acquire data after the country claimed ownership of the disputed maritime boundary. This comes on the heels of the landmark resolution of a similar impasse between Ghana and the Ivory Coast over a maritime border demarcation. GhanaWeb

Uganda President Sets Date for Major Anti-Corruption Announcement
Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni says he will be unveiling new measures in the fight against corruption in less than a week. The president in tweets posted on Tuesday pledged to defeat the cancer of corruption which he says was affecting all sectors of the Ugandan society. “On December 10th, I will announce new measures in our renewed fight against corruption. That said, there is corruption in Uganda. It stems from the colonial times. “However, when we undertook the liberation struggle of this country, there were more pressing problems to attend to,” he said whiles addressing members of the local chapter of global corruption watchdog, Transparency International. Museveni had been invited as the main guest at the 25th anniversary celebration of TI’s Uganda Chapter in the capital, Kampala. Africa News

EU Pushes for Greater Respect for Human Rights in Uganda
Edrine Wanyama does not mince his words. “The situation of human rights in Uganda is deplorable,” the lawyer and analyst told DW, an assessment that is confirmed by human rights organizations. From repression of freedom of speech and assembly, to police brutality, including torture and arbitrary arrests, the catalogue of documented violations makes for dire reading. This is why many Ugandans welcome the help of the European Union (EU) in promoting fundamental rights in their country. “There are some good efforts [by the EU] to push the government to comply with key human rights obligations,” Wanyama said. Human rights are of the “highest possible importance” to the EU, the union’s ambassador to Uganda, Attilio Pacifici, told DW. In the case of Uganda, the EU discerns some progress, “but not the kind of progress we feel comfortable with,” Pacifici said. In 2012, the EU suspended aid to Uganda following the embezzlement of donor funds by high-ranking government officials. The EU is now back in Uganda trying to rebuild trust in a crucial partner, as the ambassador put it.  Deutsche Welle

South Sudan: Row Deepens as Opposition Alliance Splits over Leadership
The South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), a consortium of several opposition entities, is rocked by deep controversies among its members over the leadership of the group. This comes after the interim leader of the opposition alliance Gabriel Changson Chang refuted elections conducted on 30 November in Khartoum, where Gen. Peter Gatdet Yak was declared the winner of the controversial election. Hussein Abdelbagi Akol, a member of the SSOA faction led by Gabriel Changson, told Radio Tamazuj Wednesday that there were irregularities in the electoral process. “Our opinions differed over the procedures to elect the leader of SSOA because some leaders of opposition groups that are members of SSOA were absent, but some members decided to go ahead with the election,” he said. Radio Tamazuj

Video of Gabon’s Ailing President Raises More Questions Than It Answers
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo has for the first time, since his hospitalisation in Saudi Arabia last month, appeared in two videos filmed in Rabat where he is continuing treatment for an unknown illness. Bongo met with Moroccan King Mohammed VI as well as top government officials. However, his appearance continues to raise questions about the state of his health. “The head of state is aware, he recognises his representatives, he sees well, he talks well,” said Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ndonget after returning to Libreville following a meeting with Bongo in Rabat. “We were reassured and calmed coming out of this meeting,” he added. Bongo appeared alongside King Mohammed in a video broadcast on Monday and then in another with Gabonese government officials. But the Gabonese president is only shown from a profile view of his left side, obscuring the right side of his face, and neither video contains sound.  RFI

Giulio Regeni: Lawyer Adds 20 More Suspects in Egypt Murder Case
The lawyer for the family of Giulio Regeni, the Italian doctoral student murdered in Egypt in 2016, said she has a list of 20 additional suspects, which she called “20 names of men who should start being afraid”. At a press conference in Rome on Wednesday, Alessandra Ballerini said: “I find hard to believe that the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, was not aware of what was going on to Giulio Regeni. It’s impossible he didn’t know anything about this.” She said the list was compiled over the course of her almost three-year-long investigation with a legal team in Egypt. Regeni disappeared on 25 January 2016, and his body was found on an outlying Cairo desert road on 4 February that year bearing signs of extreme torture. The desert highway his corpse was found on joins Egypt’s capital with Alexandria, and passes close to a building used as a detention facility by Egypt’s National Security Agency (NSA).  The Guardian

Will a Foreign Prosecutor Solve Kenya’s Corruption Problem?
Ahead of the high profile hearing of a corruption case against Kenya’s deputy chief justice on Thursday, the government has hired a foreign attorney to prosecute high-profile state corruption cases. The decision is part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s efforts to make the fight against graft more credible. The public prosecutor’s office on Tuesday announced the appointment of Khawar Qureshi, a British attorney and legal scholar. “The stakes in such cases are very high and therefore, it is necessary that the proceedings are insulated from public perceptions of political interferences,” the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions said in a statement. Many Kenyans say government corruption is a pressing national problem that drains state coffers and distorts business and political life. Africa News

Hong Kong Businessman Guilty of Bribery in African Oil Deal
A federal jury convicted a Hong Kong businessman Wednesday of bribing the presidents of two African nations to secure oil rights for a Chinese energy conglomerate, a case that stretched from the halls of the United Nations and highlighted the often blurry line between nongovernmental organizations and private enterprise. Dr. Chi Ping Patrick Ho was found guilty of seven of eight counts, including conspiracy, money laundering and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a case that involved several former presidents of the United Nations General Assembly. Ho’s attorneys did not dispute that he made the payments, including $2 million secreted in gift boxes delivered to the president of Chad in 2014. But they insisted the transactions were charitable donations intended to foster goodwill in Chad and Uganda and expand the business of CEFC China Energy . Ho, 69, showed little emotion after the verdict was announced. He addressed reporters briefly in Cantonese as he left the courtroom, saying the outcome had been “expected.”  AP

Liberia Electricity Crisis: ‘About 60% of Power Stolen’
People are stealing about 60% of the electricity generated in Liberia annually by making illegal connections to their homes and businesses, the state-owned power utility has said. The theft caused annual losses of about $35m (£27m), Liberia Electricity Corporation officials told state radio. This was robbing the utility of cash for extending power supply, they said. Liberia is trying to rebuild its power sector, destroyed during a civil war which lasted from 1989 to 2003. The US is giving financial and technical aid to the West African state to increase connectivity, as part of the Power Africa initiative launched by former US President Barack Obama to bring electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. BBC

It’s About to Get Much More Expensive to Make Your Smartphone
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo)—the world’s largest producer of cobalt—has slammed a three-fold increase on royalties paid for the mineral. A government decree has declared cobalt, coltan and germanium—all used in producing smartphones—as “strategic” mineral resources prompting the royalty increase, despite opposition from leading cobalt mining companies who claim the tax hike will deter further investment. The hike comes amid ongoing high demand for cobalt as the mineral forms a major component of lithium-ion batteries used in smartphones and electric cars. That demand is not expected to diminish as electric car and smartphone markets continue to grow. Smartphone giants Apple and Samsung have already made moves to secure long-term cobalt supply from DR Congo, which produces around 60% of global cobalt supply.  Quartz

Kinshasa Is Drowning in Waste
The area in front of Kinshasa’s main station is bustling with activity. And everybody has to make their way through piles of garbage. Passing vehicles whirl up plastic and paper bags. The scenario repeats itself all around town. It is an everyday torture for the “Kinois”, as the inhabitants of Kinshasa are known. Many people say that they are disgusted: “It gets worse every year. Our once so beautiful Kinshasa has degenerated into a big dump,” a woman told DW. Another one added: “We Congolese obviously despise our country. Otherwise we would not allow our cities to sink into such filth.” Jules Mulimbi, in charge of environment and sustainable development at Kinshasa City Council, is worried about the quality of life in the capital too. “For me, a healthy environment is a fundamental human right,” he told DW. The problem is not just the completely inefficient disposal of waste. The behavior of the inhabitants also contributes to the problem. “The solution begins with every single citizen, every single family. If everyone disposed of the garbage on their own doorstep, we would already have solved part of the problem,” said Mulimbi.  France 24



Photo: Adam Jones