Africa Media Review for February 12, 2019

Nigeria’s Election Brings Dual Crises Back to the Polls: Corruption and Boko Haram
Muhammadu Buhari won the presidency in a historic election in Nigeria four years ago by promising to crush two scourges that had plagued the nation for years: endemic corruption and a war with Islamist extremists. Back then, Mr. Buhari, a former military general, rode a wave of voter desire to impose greater accountability on the government, end a brutal war with the extremist group Boko Haram and bring back the hundreds of female students taken as captives. Now, as Mr. Buhari is in the final throes of a bruising re-election campaign, he stands accused of falling short on all fronts. Critics say Mr. Buhari has used his antigraft mantra to crush adversaries. Boko Haram is gaining ground, launching sophisticated attacks on weary, underequipped soldiers. And many of the captive students are still missing.  The New York Times

Five Killed in Pre-Election Violence in Nigeria: Police
Five people were killed in southeast Nigeria during clashes between supporters of the two main political parties, police said Monday, just days before a general election. The victims, members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), were shot and killed on Sunday in an apartment in Effurun, near the oil city of Warri, according to the Delta state police spokesman, Andrew Aniamaka. “The victims were shot in a likely revenge attack by persons suspected to be from opposing political parties in the area,” said Aniamaka, adding that they were shot on Sunday when gunmen fired into the apartment just before midnight. “Calm has been restored to the area,” he said, and everything was being done to ensure “such an incident does not reoccur especially with a few days to the general elections.”  AFP

UN: Suspension of Nigeria’s Top Judge Breaches Human Rights
The suspension of Nigeria’s most senior judge by President Muhammadu Buhari broke international human rights standards on the independence of the judiciary and the separation of powers, a United Nations expert has said. “International human rights standards provide that judges may be dismissed only on serious grounds of misconduct or incompetence,” said Diego Garcia-Sayan, the UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, on Monday. “Any decision to suspend or remove a judge from office should be fair and should be taken by an independent authority such as a judicial council or a court,” he said in a statement.  Al Jazeera

Nigeria Election: ‘Mr Honesty’ Tainted by Failure to Tackle Corruption
Nigeria’s president, who came to power with a pledge to tackle corruption, has said he needs more time to sort out the problem but has begun no successful prosecutions and has appeared to condone colleagues tainted by serious allegations. Muhammadu Buhari was elected four years ago on a wave of disgust at the perceived avarice of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration – but as he fights for a second term in Saturday’s election, his efforts to bring corruption under control are widely seen as a failure. Thousands of government supporters carrying twig brooms filled the streets of Surulere in Lagos, Nigeria’s southern megacity, on Saturday, waving them in the air to show their backing for the president and his anti-corruption drive. “It’s a broom – broom revolution,” thundered Bola Tinubu, a ruling party grandee, addressing the crowd that had gathered for Buhari’s “mega-rally”. “Broom broom!” he continued, imitating a motorbike as his fans swept the sky.  The Guardian

Islamic Militants’ Deadly Resurgence Threatens Nigeria Polls
[…] Nigeria’s government now acknowledges an extremist resurgence, this time by a Boko Haram offshoot, the Islamic State West Africa Province, the IS group’s largest presence outside the Middle East, estimated to have more than 3,000 fighters. Their near-daily attacks have many traumatized Nigerians questioning whether they can vote for Buhari as he seeks a second term. Others question how the elections can be held in the troubled northeast region. The National Assembly has approved a record $147 million for election security but some polling workers in remote areas have rejected their posts in fear of being attacked. The opposition objects that voting will be held in government-controlled camps, which in “liberated” communities are the safest locations.  AP

South Sudan Govt Announces Return to Pre-War Oil Production Levels
South Sudan will return to producing more than 350,000 barrels of crude per day by the middle of 2020, up from current levels of just over 140,000 barrels per day (bpd) currently, the country’s oil minister said on Sunday. Production is expected to rise to 270,000 bpd by the end of 2019, Oil Minister Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth told Reuters. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Petrotech conference in Greater Noida, a satellite city of India’s capital New Delhi. The world’s youngest country, which split from Sudan in 2011, has one of the largest reserves of crude in sub-Saharan Africa, only a third of which have been explored so far. The country lost many of its oilfields to a civil war that broke out two years after its independence. A September peace agreement is largely holding.  Africa News

Libya’s Haftar Takes Control of Country’s Largest Oil Field
Forces loyal to Libya’s eastern leader Khalifa Haftar have taken control of the country’s largest oil field and pledged to hand it over to the National Oil Corporation once its fully secured. Haftars self-styled Libyan National Army had fanned out in Sharara, people with knowledge of the matter confirmed, as speculation mounted that a deal was reached with guards and armed protesters who closed down the 300,000 barrel-per-day field in December, demanding more money and investment in the remote southwestern region. In a telephone interview, LNA spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said forces had entered the main oil-producing area of Sharara without a fight, days after arriving at substation unit NC-186, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) away. The LNA was still working to secure the field against long-range weapons and there was no plan to enter the nearby El Feel field for now, he said. Bloomberg

Aid Group: Boat Carrying 150 People in Distress off Libya
An Italian aid group is reporting that a migrant smuggling ship with an estimated 150 people on board is in distress off Libya. The Mediterranea Saving Humans group, which monitors migrant rescues, said Monday on Twitter that it heard about a distress call from a boat near Al Khoms, Libya. It appealed for Italian or Maltese coast guard ships to go to the area so the migrants aren’t returned to Libya. Italy has sought to boost the Libyan coast guard’s abilities to conduct rescues in its search-and-rescue zone in the Mediterranean Sea so the migrants don’t come to Europe. But aid groups say migrants face horrific conditions once they are returned to Libya, including facing beatings, torture and rape. AP

African Leaders Wrap up Summit
Leaders of African nations wrapped up the 32nd African Union Summit in Ethiopia’s capital Monday with a determination to focus on the needs of African refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Speaking at the summit’s close, the current chair of the African Union, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, said the leaders resolved to address the issues in a “comprehensive manner”. El-Sisi, who just took over the annual chairmanship from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, pledged to continue the agenda and programs introduced by his predecessor. According to el-Sisi the leaders discussed a number of key issues, including economic integration and continental merging, the completion of an infrastructure strategy and post-conflict reconstruction. A communique on the decisions reached is expected to be released Tuesday. Anadolu Agency

AU Security Chief Warns ‘Terrorism Expanding’ in Sahel
The African Union’s peace and security chief Smail Chergui called Monday for member states to tackle the root causes of extremism, as he deplored the spread of “terrorism” in the Sahel. “Terrorism is expanding,” Chergui told journalists on the sidelines of an AU summit in Addis Ababa, pointing in particular to countries on the Sahara’s southern rim. “There are increasing numbers of terrorist movements, who attack civilian populations and institutions in these countries. “Almost on a daily basis, Burkina Faso now is facing criminal and terrorist attacks,” he said. Chergui said the combination of extremist attacks, inter-ethnic conflict and clashes between pastoral and agricultural communities was leading to an “unprecedented high level of violence.” He said that AU member states had agreed to address the scourge of extremism in a more comprehensive manner. RFI

Chinese Support for AU Peace and Security Totals $180 Million
China, it was revealed last week, has been “an exemplary partner” to the African Union (AU) providing $180 million worth of funding to the continental body’s peace and security efforts. A statement issued on behalf of AU peace and security commissioner Ambassador Smail Chergui in Addis Ababa detailed this as being in two packages – $100 million for the African Standby Force (ASF) and the African Capacity for immediate Response to Crisis (ACIRC) and a second of $80 million. The statement was issued at a function where the second tranche of funding was seen as “an opportunity to begin discussions on how to use this generous package in a way that aligns with the priorities of the African continent”. “Some” of the Chinese support will go to ongoing AU peace support operations. These include the MNJTF (Multi-National Joint Task Force against Boko Haram), the G5-Sahel as well as supporting the police deployment component of AMISOM.  DefenceWeb

Ivorian President Ouattara Says All Are Free to Stand in Presidential Election
Côte d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara has told RFI in an exclusive interview that all candidates will be free to contest the 2020 presidential election – in his first comments on the resignation of his speaker of parliament, Guillaume Soro, on Friday. Speaking on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ouattara said there was no suggestion that strained relations with Guillaume Soro were the cause of his departure, putting it down to a difference in ideology. Soro, the former rebel leader of the New Forces, is a Marxist, says Outtara, while he and his ruling RHDP coalition believe in social liberalism. “I hold Guillaume Soro in high esteem. I consider him to be one of my sons – you know, I have many sons,” Ouattara told RFI. “If he now wants to pursue a career according to his political ideologies, which are not liberal, then he is free to do so.  RFI

U.S. Envoy Meets Opposition Leader after Attack on Mosque by Sudan Security
U.S. Chargé d’Affaire Steven Koutsis discussed with the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) the attack by the Sudanese security agent on a mosque of his religious sect, Al-Ansar, last Friday as the embassy expressed its concern about the recurrent use of violence. On 8 February, Sudanese security forces fired teargas and beat worshippers attempting to stage a peaceful demonstration after Friday prayers at the Al-Sayed Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi Mosque in Wahd Nubbawi neighbourhood of Omdurman. The attack resulted in injuries to several people. “Chargé d’Affaires Steven Koutsis met with Imam Sadiq Al-Mahdi to discuss the inappropriate attack on the Al-Sayed Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi Mosque and its worshipers on February 8,” said the U.S. in Khartoum in a statement released by the U.S. Embassy on Monday evening after the meeting. The statement further said that the Embassy is concerned about the use of violence. Sudan Tribune

Sudan ‘Group of 52’ Renews Call for Transitional Govt
The Peace and Reform Initiative, also known as the “Group of 52” has renewed its call for the formation of a transitional government. Its members, 52 prominent civil society and political activists, announced that they will not submit their demands the Presidency again but “initiate direct coordination with the forces behind the popular protest movement to achieve the required change”. In a statement on Saturday, the Peace and Reform Initiative repeated its call for a transitional period of four years during which a technocrat government will handle the affairs of the country. This new cabinet is to be formed in coordination with the leaders of the current protest movement and the major political opposition forces, and will consist of “well known and credible national cadres and a broad representation of political parties”.  Radio Dabanga

Sudan: Video Footage Shows Extreme Violence, Abuse
Human Rights Watch released a video on February 11, 2019, that shows government forces’ extreme violence and shocking abuses against protesters during weeks of largely peaceful protests across the country. The United Nations Human Rights Council should urgently respond to the human rights crisis in Sudan at its March session and ensure an independent investigation into the violations committed since the start of protests in December 2018. Video footage, verified by Human Rights Watch, shows security forces driving around in armed vehicles, shooting bullets and teargas at unarmed protesters, and rounding up and brutally beating protesters and bystanders with sticks and gun butts. The footage also shows gruesome, bloody injuries from gunshots; evidence of harsh beatings and torture; and the effects of raids by security forces on hospitals, filling emergency rooms with teargas and hindering medical care. Human Rights Watch

Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa Denounces Attempts at ‘Regime Change’ [Video]
Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has denounced recent turmoil as part of a plot to overthrow his rule and rejected charges of human rights violations in an exclusive interview with RFI’s partner station, FRANCE 24. During the interview, Mnangagwa also defended Zimbabwe’s bid to re-join the Commonwealth, slammed the UK’s calls for new sanctions on the country and said former President Robert Mugabe and his wife should be respected, even though “no one is above the law”. RFI

Zim Vice President Chiwenga on Emergency Medical Trip to India, in the Midst of Political Crisis
Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga is reportedly being treated for a minor ailment in India, according to a government minister. It is reported that Chiwenga had recently gone to India to attend to his health issues, Reuters reported. He was last seen by the public when he attended a cabinet meeting together with Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa on February 5. Chiwenga’s health issue has been confirmed as minor abdominal pain. Zimbabwe’s Deputy Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Energy Mutodi disclosed this information on Twitter on Sunday. He wrote: “The Hon. Vice President CDN Chiwenga is recovering well from some minor abdominal ailment in Delhi, India.”  News 24

Bouteflika Adviser to Head Algeria Constitutional Council
Algeria’s ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika appointed on Sunday one of his advisers to head the country’s constitutional council, the official APS news agency reported. Tayeb Belaiz, a 70-year-old former justice minister and judge, previously chaired the council from March 2012 to September 2013. Belaiz faced calls during his tenure for the council to initiate legal procedures to rule whether Boutleflika was capable of remaining in office, after the head of state suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in France for 80 days. In power since 1999, 81-year-old Bouteflika announced Sunday he would seek a fifth term in April elections. Belaiz left the council to become interior minister, and in 2015 became special adviser to Bouteflika. He will replace Mourad Medelci, who died in January from an illness at the age of 76.  AFP

Egypt Accelerates Efforts to Extend El-Sissi’s Rule
Egypt’s parliament is accelerating the process of passing constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to stay in office well beyond the end of his current term in 2022. Lawmakers will decide Wednesday on whether to send the amendments to the legislative committee, a vote that was initially scheduled for Feb. 17, parliament spokesman Ahmed Saad el-Din said late Sunday. The legislative committee will have 60 days to discuss the amendments before a final vote. If approved, the amendments would be put to a national referendum. The move to extend presidential terms comes amid concerns that Egypt is slipping back into authoritarianism eight years after a pro-democracy uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s nearly three-decade rule. AP

Tanzania Plans to Ban Fish Imports from China
Tanzania plans to impose a ban on fish imports to boost local fisheries. The government has announced a plan to review the Fisheries Act and regulations governing the sector to pave the way for a total ban on fish imports, especially from China and Vietnam. Luhaga Mpina, the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, said that regulations will be put in place to safeguard local fisheries. “We are looking to protect Tanzania’s marine resources through proper arrangements for commercial fishing, to make it beneficial to those in the business,” Mr Mpina said. Tanzania produces about 336,821 tonnes of fish per year, against a demand of 731,000 tonnes. The country imports about 24,000 tonnes of fish per month worth Tsh56 billion ($25 million), mostly from China, Vietnam and other states around the Indian Ocean. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones