Africa Media Review for December 7, 2017

Rerun or Runoff? Liberia Supreme Court Decides December 7
The Supreme Court is expected today to put an end to a legal battle that halted the preparations for the runoff election. The ruling from the nation’s high court will either mean the country will go for a rerun or runoff, a decision Liberians eagerly await. According to our judicial reporter, on Wednesday, December 6, a number of international guests were seen on the grounds of the Temple of Justice. Appearing before the high court last week, lawyers from the National Elections Commission (NEC), Liberty Party and Unity Party, each made a case for their clients. They cited relevant laws to defend their position but the outcome of their representations lies in the hand of the five justices on bench. Front Page Africa

2017 Africa Report on Internal Displacement
15,000 people displaced every day inside African countries, according to new IDMC report IDMC’s director calls on the development sector to join humanitarians in preventing and reducing internal displacement and finding long-term solutions for the millions of people affected. As the world focuses its attention on preventing irregular migration and protecting refugees coming out of Africa, the displacement that happens behind its own borders persists at an alarming rate. A new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reveals that since the beginning of 2017, 2.7 million people have been displaced by conflict, violence or disasters, and have not crossed an international border. In the first half of the year, 997,000 new internal displacements due to conflict were reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), more than in the whole of 2016, and 206,000 in the Central African Republic, four times the figure for the previous year. ReliefWeb

DR Congo Displacement Crisis ‘Worse Than Middle East’
Conflict has forced 1.7 million people to flee their homes in the Democratic Republic of Congo this year, causing “a mega-crisis”, aid agencies say. This means that for the second consecutive year, DR Congo is worst-affected by conflict displacement in the world, the agencies add. DR Congo has been hit by years of instability, with rival militias fighting for control of territory. The conflict has been worsened by the failure to hold elections last year. “It’s a mega-crisis. The scale of people fleeing violence is off the charts, outpacing Syria, Yemen and Iraq,” the Norwegian Refugee Council’s DR Congo director, Ulrika Blom, said. BBC

Money Low to Feed 500,000 in Deadly Congo Region, UN Says
The World Food Program says 500,000 hungry people are now on half-rations in Congo’s troubled Kasai region because money is running low for the world’s largest displacement crisis. The U.N. agency said Wednesday it managed to quickly increase the number of people helped in recent weeks because of a lull in the fighting that started in August 2016 between government troops and militia members. But it says low funding from donors has hurt as crises elsewhere get more attention. More than 3,300 people have been killed in the Kasai fighting, the Catholic Church estimated months ago. WFP says 3.2 million people are now short of food. A separate statement by the Norwegian Refugee Council on Wednesday says 1.7 million people in the Kasai region have fled their homes this year. AP

Armed Groups in Central Africa Using Roadblocks as Funding Source
Roadblocks in war-torn areas of Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo provide armed groups with millions of dollars in annual income, a report said on Wednesday. A year-long study by the International Peace Information Service (IPIS), a Belgian research group, found 1,082 roadblocks in CAR and in the North and South Kivu provinces of eastern DRC alone. Money extorted from road users nets armed groups around $8.2m annually, it estimated. Roadblocks are a “key mechanism of conflict funding,” IPIS said in a statement. “Strangling development and livelihoods, attracting violent confrontations and generating millions in revenues, roadblocks are as crucial to continuing conflict in Central Africa as natural resources.” AFP

Cahier Africain: Documenting War Crimes in CAR
This two-part documentary begins with a small school notebook filled with pages of courageous testimonies from 300 Central African women, girls and men. They record crimes committed against them by Congolese mercenaries in the early 2000s. Amzine, a young Muslim woman, gave birth to a child as a result of rape. Her daughter, Fane, is a daily reminder of the suffering she entrusted to this book. Arlette, a young Christian girl dreams of a pain-free existence after being shot in the leg. As they go about their daily lives hoping for justice while the war crimes tribunal in The Hague is underway, to their horror, a new war breaks out in CAR. Al Jazeera

After Six Years in Jail, Gaddafi’s Son Saif Plots Return to Libya’s Turbulent Politics
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the former Libyan dictator, is seeking to make a comeback after years in detention, and claims to be leading a military campaign against terrorist groups around Tripoli.[…] But in recent weeks he has told a longstanding US contact he was gathering a force that had taken control of the coastal town of Sabratha – and claimed he would fight his way to Tripoli. “Saif al-Islam is inside Libya and is committed to his word, which he gave to all Libyans in 2011, when he said that he will remain in Libya to defend its territory or die a martyr for it,” a spokesman for Gaddafi said in a written statement, supplied through the US contact who had extensive dealings with him before the fall of his family’s regime. “The forces who fought in Sabratha against Isis, the gangs of illegal immigrants and the oil-smuggling mafias were mainly members of the tribes who support Saif al-Islam, and those who were part of the former Libyan army, also loyal to Saif Gaddafi.”  The Guardian

Amnesty: EU-AU Plan to Help Refugees in Libya ‘Unrealistic’
The plan to evacuate refugees stuck in Libya’s camps will not work in practice, says Franziska Vilmar of the German branch of Amnesty International. It has only been designed to help the EU shirk its responsibilities. Last week’s joint summit of the African Union and European Union concluded with a plan to evacuatethird-country refugees stranded in Libya and facing abysmal conditions in camps. “This is great news,” said Cecile Pouilly, the spokeswoman for the UNHCR, the refugee agency of the United Nations. Most of all, she is pleased that the international community has finally taken interest in the plight of displaced people in Libya. When the US broadcaster CNN aired footage of refugees sold as slaves at auctions in Libya, there was increased impetus for the EU and AU to find a way to act at their summit in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Deutsche Welle

Nigerians Return Home with a Warning to Others: Don’t Go to Libya
[…] Nigeria says it has been working with the International Organization for Migration to bring its citizens home since January of this year. But the pace of the repatriation has picked up following a public outcry since CNN’s exclusive investigation revealed that migrants were being sold in slave auctions, an aide to the government said. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, a senior special assistant to the Nigerian president, said: “With the outcry, they are going at a faster pace. As the week goes by, the number of planes will increase…. There are stranded African migrants in detention centers outside Tripoli because those prisons are manned by rebels, we can’t get there. It’s important that the African Union and European Union instructs them to open up all detention centers so every African there can come back home,” she added. The United Nations-backed Libyan Government of National Accord, or GNA, said it’s keen to address violations against illegal immigrants but called upon regional and global partners to provide assistance. CNN

Nigeria Confirms ‘Scores Killed’ in Ethnic Clashes
Dozens of people were killed in a fresh wave of violence between herdspeople and farmers in the northeastern Adamawa state, Nigeria’s vice president Yemi Osinbajo said late Tuesday. Following the weekend violence, of which victims had included riot police officers, Osinbajo visited the region where he said the government would crack down on those responsible for the latest killings. “The clashes claimed scores of lives and injured many others, as the attackers destroyed houses in the affected villages,” said Osinbajo, according to a statement from his office. “This is the time to come together to make progress as a people. There is no reason why we should allow so much poverty, and what we are doing is fighting, killing each other. Our role should be to provide security, to provide resources for people so that everyone can enjoy their lives as citizens of this country.” Anadolu Agency

Nigeria Replaces Commander in Fight against Boko Haram after Six Months: Sources
Nigeria is replacing the military commander of the fight against Boko Haram after half a year following a string of insurgency attacks despite years of official claims the group has almost been defeated, military sources said on Wednesday. The shake-up underscores the fragility of the security situation in Nigeria’s northeast, where the conflict with the Islamist insurgent group is now in its ninth year, despite assertions by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration that it is on its last legs. Ibrahim Attahiru, theatre commander of the operation against Boko Haram, is being replaced by Major General Rogers Nicholas in the wake of a series of “embarrassing” attacks, two military sources told Reuters. They said the conduct of the war against the insurgents is now being reviewed. Reuters

Power Brokers Start to Gear up for Nigeria’s Elections in 2019
As Nigeria begins to gear up for general elections in February 2019, five senior politicians appear to be key players in Africa’s top oil producer. President Muhammadu Buhari, a 74-year-old former military ruler, will start as one of the favorites if he seeks re-election after becoming the first opposition candidate to win power in Nigeria’s history in 2015. A health scare this year (he spent more than five months in London receiving treatment for an undisclosed medical ailment) convinced some observers that he wouldn’t serve more than one term. But he returned in August with renewed vigor, regularly traveling on official trips both at home and abroad. Muhammadu Buhari has pledged to boost investments to spur growth after presiding over an economic recession, exacerbated by falling crude prices and production and a currency policy that starved factories, airlines and fuel importers of dollars. While his administration has slowed the advance of Islamist militants in the northeast, it faces renewed unrest in the oil-rich Niger River delta and the southeast, where secessionist sentiments are on the rise. Bloomberg

Cameroon Escalates Military Crackdown on Anglophone Separatists
Cameroon’s government has ordered thousands of villagers to leave their homes in the Anglophone Southwest region as it deploys troops to root out armed separatists who have vowed to loosen President Paul Biya’s long grip on power. The deployment marks an escalation of Biya’s year-long crackdown on peaceful protests in the English-speaking Northwest and Southwest regions that has killed dozens of civilians and forced thousands to flee their homes in fear of reprisals. Now, the government is using force to confront an insurgency that has sprung up alongside the civil unrest. The separatists have killed at least eight soldiers and policemen over the past month as part of their campaign to break from the capital Yaounde in Francophone Cameroon and form a separate state called Ambazonia. Reuters

Museveni Supports Extending Presidential Term Limit to 7 Years
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni said on Wednesday he supports extending a president’s term to seven years from five but one critic said any such move would help enable one of Africa’s longest serving leaders to rule for life. Museveni did not directly propose that term limits be stretched in Uganda but instead said extending the time between elections would give African leaders more opportunity to promote development because they would not be distracted by politics. “For these countries with all these problems … five years is just a joke,” a statement from the presidency quoted Museveni as saying. “Leaders in Africa have much more to do and need adequate time (between elections) to develop the continent.”  The East African

Tillerson to Visit Africa in First Quarter of 2018: Adviser
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is planning a trip to Africa in the first three months of next year, a senior aide said on Wednesday, amid speculation how long Tillerson might stay in the job. Earlier on Wednesday, Tillerson said there was no truth to reports that President Donald Trump intended to fire him and replace him with CIA chief Mike Pompeo. Directly addressing the issue at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Tillerson dismissed the reports that overshadowed his week-long trip to Europe which highlighted the yearning of allies for stability in U.S. foreign policy. “Secretary Tillerson is planning a trip to Africa in the first quarter of 2018,” senior adviser R.C. Hammond told reporters at Germany’s Ramstein Air Base. Reuters

Air Strike Reported near Somalia’s Capital, Official Says Shabaab Targeted
An air strike hit a village south of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Wednesday and a local official said the attack targeted Islamist al Shabaab militants fighting to topple the country’s central government. It was not immediately clear who had carried out the air strike but the United States frequently conducts such attacks to bolster Somalia’s army in its fight against al Shabaab. A local government official told Reuters the strike occurred in Ilimey village, about 130 km (80 miles) southwest of Mogadishu. The area is mostly controlled by al Shabaab. The target, he said, was a car used by the militants to transport supplies to a squad preparing bombs. Reuters

Ivory Coast to Retire 1,000 Soldiers to Slim Down Military
Ivory Coast will cut its armed forces by about 1,000 troops by the end of the year, a government spokesman said Wednesday, in a bid to rationalize a costly and sometimes unruly military. Government spokesman Bruno Kone told reporters after a cabinet meeting that the 997 soldiers had accepted voluntary retirement this year as part of an initiative to conform to “accepted standards,” partly by reducing the ratio of non-commissioned officers to lower ranks. Ivory Coast does not give details on the size of its military, but security sources estimate there are more than 25,000 troops in a country with a population of about 24 million. VOA

Evicted White Zim Farmer to Get Land Back, as Mnangagwa Govt Reverses Decision
A white commercial farmer, who was evicted from his farm in Manicaland province in Zimbabwe, is reportedly set to return back and resume production after the decision “was reversed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s new administration”. Heavily armed Zimbabwean riot police besieged Robert Smart’s farm outside Rusape town in June and forcefully evicted him from his farm. The tobacco and maize grower was evicted to reportedly pave way for a top cleric, Trevor Manhanga, who had links with then president Robert Mugabe. The grabbing of Lesbury Farm came shortly after Mugabe told his supporters at a rally that all remaining white commercial farmers should be kicked off their properties to make way for the ruling Zanu-PF party’s youth and his supporters who had no land. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones