Africa Media Review for December 8, 2016

Ghana Elections: Long Queues in Tight Presidential Poll
There have been long queues at polling stations in Ghana amid a tight election race between President John Mahama and veteran opposition leader Nana Akufo Addo. All seven candidates have pledged to keep the process peaceful but an opposition supporter died when a rally tuned violent on Monday. The campaign has been dominated by the faltering state of Ghana’s economy and the issue of corruption. Results are expected within three days. BBC

Ghana Election Commission Website Hacked
Hackers have targeted the website of Ghana’s electoral commission as votes are counted after tightly contested elections. The commission says the website is up again, and an attempt to put up “fake results” failed. In a tweet, it urged people to ignore the “fake results” circulating on social media. President John Mahama is facing a strong challenge from main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo. Wednesday’s election passed off peacefully, but voting was postponed to Thursday in one constituency after voting material failed to arrive on time.  BBC

Anxious Ghanaians Waiting for Election Results
Ghana is at a standstill waiting for the official results of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections to be declared by the Electoral Commission (EC). Results for the Wednesday Election is still trickling in from across the 275 Constituencies, although a survey conducted by the Ghana News Agency indicated that the results were too close to call. People across the country kept vigil at most collation centres to witness the process of verifying the results declared at the various polling stations within the Constituency. According to Ghana’s electoral laws, Parliamentary Elections are declared by the Constituency Returning Officer at the Constituency Collation Centre whilst the Presidential Election is declared by the Chairperson of the EC who also doubles as the Returning Officer.  GhanaWeb

Head of Gambian Army Pledges Support to President-elect Barrow
The head of Gambia’s army pledged allegiance to President-elect Adama Barrow in a phone call on Sunday, Barrow’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday, in a key sign of support after his unexpected election victory over the long-standing incumbent, Yahya Jammeh. Barrow, a former real estate developer who once worked as a security guard at the retailer Argos in London, ended Jammeh’s 22 years of authoritarian rule by winning 45.5 percent of the vote on Dec. 1. Jammeh called Barrow to congratulate him on his victory last week but has not met with him officially. It is still unclear whether he will keep his promise to leave power peacefully. That made the allegiance to Barrow of General Ousman Badjie, the chief of the defense staff, all the more important. “General Badjie called to congratulate Mr. Barrow on his victory and to offer his allegiance,” Barrow’s press secretary, Amie Bojang, told Reuters. Reuters

Kenya Muslims ‘Targeted in Extrajudicial Killings’
Kenya’s anti-terror police have carried out at least 81 extrajudicial killings in country’s mainly Muslim coastal region since 2012, a rights group says. Haki Africa said the figure could be higher but some families were reluctant to come forward for fear of victimisation by state security agents. The police oversight body said 52 officers were on trial in connection with such killings countrywide. The coastal region has suffered several terror attacks in recent years. The Somali Islamist militant al-Shabab group has been targeting Kenya over the deployment of Kenyan forces to Somalia. BBC

Kenyans Urged to End Medical Strike after Patients Die
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has urged striking medical workers to return to the job, saying nearly 20 people have died three days into the strike because of lack of treatment. All doctors and nurses from public hospitals across Kenya have gone on strike, leading to a crisis in the health sector. Healthcare workers and the public accuse the government of being slow to increase salaries while being quick to pay inflated contracts from suspect companies doing business with the health ministry, which is being investigated for corruption. “Let us be human and be mindful of the lives of the patients. I am confident that we will find a solution to the problem,” Kenyatta said. Al Jazeera

Pushing Somali President Vote to 2017 Risks More Strife, UN Says
Somalia must hold its presidential vote before the end of December, the United Nations said, warning that prolonging the already delayed election process could stoke insecurity in the war-ravaged Horn of Africa country. Electoral time-lines should be “compressed” and legislators who’ve been elected must convene and choose a new president “later this month,” Joseph Contreras, a spokesman for the UN mission in Somalia, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It’s in the interest of the Somali people to conclude this protracted electoral process as soon as possible and, at any rate, before the end of the year,” Contreras said. “The longer the presidential elections are delayed, the greater will be the financial and security implications,” he said, without elaborating. Bloomberg

Amisom Withdrawal from Somalia Delayed
African leaders are facing a dilemma over plans to start withdrawing peacekeepers from Somalia by October 2018, because there is no guarantee that the country will have been pacified by then. The drawdown, to be completed in 2020, is high on the agenda, as the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) plans a new offensive in early 2017 to capture all the remaining regions in the hands of Al Shabaab. But Amisom, which entered Somalia in 2007, first needs an additional 28,000 troops to capture regions still under Al Shabaab such as Jubba Valley, Hiraan and the northeastern coastline of Somalia. However, discussions on where the troops are going to come from and how they are going to be funded are yet to be concluded. Second, Amisom — with the support of the United Nations and international donors — must train and equip at least 20,000 Somalia National Army officers before the beginning of the Amisom withdrawal. The East African

Somalia Recaptures Town From IS-Linked Fighters; 34 Dead
A Somali official says security forces have recaptured a port town from Islamic State-linked fighters in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland. Yusuf Mohamed, the governor of Puntland’s commercial hub of Bossaso, says 30 militants and four soldiers were killed during the operation Wednesday to recapture Qandala. Residents confirmed that troops entered the town after fighters retreated into nearby villages. The seizure of Qandala in October had been the first victory for the Islamic State-linked fighters, who are expanding the areas under their control amid a rivalry with the homegrown al-Shabab extremist group. The fighters broke away from al-Shabab and declared allegiance to ISIS last year. Al-Shabab sees the splinter group as a threat to its operations in the long-chaotic Horn of Africa nation. AP on ABC News

DRC: 50 Bodies Recovered from Lake Albert
At least 50 bodies have been recovered at the western shore of Lake Albert in Democratic Republic of Congo, said police sources on Wednesday. Police officer Robert Ngeyi said the bodies were discovered by fishermen of Kasenyi landing site near Kasenyi town in Ituri province. Lake Albert is located between Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo, each sharing the lake equally. “50 bodies have been pulled from the lake by fishermen from Kasenyi. Bodies had started decomposing which means they could have been in the water for several days.” said Ngeyi. He said so far they cannot tell where the bodies came from. ”We cannot tell where they came from. We have started investigating and if all goes well we will know their origin.” Anadolu Agency

Dominic Ongwen, Ugandan Rebel Leader, Denies Charges at I.C.C. Trial
A senior commander of the notorious Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army went on trial on Tuesday to face charges of organizing massacres and kidnapping thousands of children, 11 years after an international warrant for his arrest. The commander, Dominic Ongwen, was the subject of a decade-long manhunt until he turned himself in last year, saying he feared that Joseph Kony, the founder of the group, was planning to kill him. According to a United Nations estimate, the Lord’s Resistance Army killed more than 100,000 people, abducted 60,000 to 100,000 children and displaced more than 2.5 million civilians in four African countries from 1987 to 2012. Both Mr. Kony and Mr. Ongwen were indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005, along with three other rebel commanders, making them the first people ever charged by the court. Three have since died; Mr. Kony, who claims to be a prophet with mystical powers, is said to be in hiding near South Sudan. Reuters

Cash-strapped Congo May Not Have Enough Money for 2018 Presidential Elections
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government may struggle to afford presidential elections in 2018 due to soaring costs, the electoral commission head said on Tuesday, adding a potential stumbling block to a vote that has already been postponed once. President Joseph Kabila has ruled the country since 2001 and is required by the constitution to step down in December. But the government put back the vote from this November to April 2018, citing the cost of enrolling millions of voters. The delay has prompted widespread protests and accusations that Kabila is stalling to hold on to power. Corneille Nangaa, head of the CENI electoral commission, said the budget for the ballot would rise by nearly 60 percent to $1.8-billion, a sum he suggested would be tough to raise. Mail and Guardian

Libyan Militias Launch Assault on Vital Oil Terminals
Libyan militias that were expelled from the eastern city of Benghazi are now advancing toward the country’s vital oil terminals, seeking to establish control over Libya’s primary revenue source. The so-called Benghazi Defense Force launched its assault on Wednesday, taking over three eastern towns including the al-Sidra terminal, according to lawmaker Tarek al-Jaroushi, who is the head of the national security committee in the internationally-recognized parliament. Libya is split into two governments, with an internationally recognized parliament in the east that has refused to approve the UN-brokered government in the capital, Tripoli. News 24

France Impatient over Malian Peace Accord
French Defence Minister repeated his call for the peace accords in Mali to be implemented on Tuesday at a conference on peace and security in the Senegalese capital, Dakar. He also welcomed the capture of the Libyan city of Sirte from the Islamic State (IS) armed group. “You can’t just intone ‘The Algiers peace accord must be respected’,” Le Drian said, referring to the agreement signed between the Malian government, militias that support it and armed Tuareg groups signed in the Algerian capital last year. “There’s no other solution. That agreement is there, you have to enforce it.” Noting that there “are still misgivings” about the disarmament process planned in the deal, he called on “all parties to bring pressure to bear, provide the resources, including the political ones, so that the accord is respected”. AP on ABC News

Troika Countries Concerned about Detention of Sudan’s Opposition Leaders
Western nations have expressed concern over detention of Sudanese opposition leaders and recent crackdown on press saying government actions would hinder efforts for holding an inclusive national dialogue. Following the government decision to raise fuel and electricity price on November 3rd, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) launched a large arrest campaign and detained more than 40 opposition figures from the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) , National Umma Party (NUP), Sudanese Communist Party (SCP), Arab Ba’ath Party, National Alliance Forces (NAF) as well as civil society activists and journalists. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwe ‘Has the Strongest Currency in Africa’: State Media
“This is a fact: Zimbabwe has the strongest currency in Africa”. Sounds unbelievable – but that’s what the official Herald newspaper claimed on Wednesday, hours after President Robert Mugabe resolutely avoided the vexed topic of bond notes in his State of the Nation Address (SONA). In its lead editorial, the pro-Mugabe paper said Zimbabweans “have full confidence in” their currency, ignoring the fact that photos of a broken bond coin are causing widespread alarm on social media. Ten million US worth of bond notes were introduced last Monday along with two million US worth of bond coins. The central bank insists this surrogate currency is backed by a 200 million US dollar loan from Afrexim Bank. But many fear the notes will drag Zimbabwe back to the dark days of hyperinflation that reached a peak around 2006-2008. News 24

Museveni Defends Attack on Rwenzururu Palace
President Museveni on Monday is reported to have defended the military assault on the Rwenzori Kingdom’s Buhikira Palace that left 116 people dead. Sources who attended a high level military meeting on Monday reveal that the country’s Commander-in-Chief maintained that the Rwenzururu King, Omusinga Charles Wesley Mumbere, rejected repeated calls to disband his royal guards. Mr Museveni is quoted as having told UPDF High Command members who sat for the better part of the day at State House Entebbe that King Mumbere rejected orders to disarm, disband and surrender the royal guards, thus justifying the assault on the palace last Sunday, November 27. Yesterday, army spokesman, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda confirmed that the High Command meeting convened on Monday but declined to say what was discussed. Daily Monitor

Arrest of Leading Egyptian Feminist Azza Soliman Sparks Anger
Human rights activists in Egypt have reacted angrily to the arrest of prominent women’s rights advocate Azza Soliman, saying it marked a “chilling escalation” of pressure on civil society organisations. Soliman, the founder of the Centre for Egyptian Women’s Legal Assistance (CEWLA), is one of a number of activists, lawyers and journalists to have been prevented from leaving Egypt in the past month. The rights lawyer and leading feminist said last week that she had been turned back on 19 November at Cairo airport. Soon after, Soliman discovered that her personal assets and those of her group had been frozen. On Wednesday, her foundation and a security source said she had been detained by police. The Guardian

African Capital Markets Mull Use of Local Currencies
Should African capital markets turn to local currencies to stem losses and volatilities caused by the dominance of the dollar? Experts agreed that the continent should consider such a move, at least going by the sentiments expressed at the just conclude 20th Annual ASEA Conference in Kigali, Rwanda that was co-hosted by the African Securities Exchanges Association (ASEA) and the Rwanda Stock Exchange. “The primary currency is expressed by the dollar rate; the reference currency is always the US dollar. This has created major volatilities. The transaction cost of going from local currencies to the dollar and then to local currency is high. The losses along the chain are a real pain,” said Nerina Visser, director at etfSA portfolio management services in South Africa. According to Ms Visser, the dollar dominance in African markets needs to be trimmed, and the greenback gradually replaced through trading in African currencies. The Guardian

Turkey Set to Have 54 Missions in Africa
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that Turkey is set to have 54 diplomatic missions in 54 African nations to strengthen relations and solidarity with the continent. Turkey currently has 39 missions in Africa. Each country is important for Turkey, Erdogan said at a joint press conference with his Beninese counterpart Patrice Talon in Ankara. “All [African] countries matter to Turkey, thus, I think, our ties with Africa should be strengthened much more in order to keep this friendship and solidarity together,” Erdogan said. The president also said both leaders agreed that three schools in Benin linked to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) would be taken over by a Turkish educational foundation. Anadolu Agency



Photo: Adam Jones