Africa Media Review for February 27, 2018

Djibouti Ruling Party Claims Landslide Parliamentary Win
President Ismael Omar Guelleh’s ruling party claimed a resounding victory in Friday’s parliamentary elections in Djibouti, taking nearly 90 percent of seats after the opposition largely boycotted the poll. Mohamed Abdallah Mahyoub, a senior member of Guelleh’s UMP party and campaign spokesman, told AFP late Sunday the party had won 58 out of 65 parliamentary seats, an increase of three since the last vote in 2013. There was no immediate figure for turnout among the tiny Horn of Africa nation’s 194,000 registered voters. Guelleh has ruled Djibouti since 1999 and was last re-elected in 2016 with 87 percent of the vote. AFP

Nigerian Army and Police Disagree over Security in Mass Abduction Town
Nigeria’s army and police on Monday publicly disagreed over the security arrangements that were in place in the northeastern town where 110 girls were abducted by suspected Boko Haram militants. The army issued a statement in which it said soldiers were withdrawn from Dapchi, in Yobe state, before the girls were seized from their school in the town by armed insurgents on Feb. 19. The attack was one of the largest abductions since the Chibok kidnappings of 2014 in which more than 250 girls were taken by the Islamist militant group. It has prompted questions about the ability of security forces to fight insurgents which the government has repeatedly said have been defeated. Reuters

Nigeria Orders Mass Seizure of Personal Firearms
Nigeria has ordered the immediate seizure or voluntary return of all personal firearms, a step targeted at mopping up guns ahead of next year’s general election as well as reduce extrajudicial killings in the country. “All pump-action guns of all categories and other prohibited firearms are to be returned to the police within 21 days. No firearm license will be issued or recognized,” police announced in a statement on Monday. Officials say this order applies to everyone in the country except serving law enforcement agents licensed to carry firearms. Anadolu Agency

Oil-Rich Nigeria’s Fuel Scarcity Weighs on Buhari’s Popularity
Lines of cars and trucks snaking around blocks in the center of the Nigerian capital, Abuja, highlight the state’s failure to fix a problem that’s bedeviled Africa’s biggest oil producer for decades: fuel shortages. A new round of gasoline scarcity that’s gripped Africa’s most populous nation since December comes at a bad time for President Muhammadu Buhari’s government. During his campaign to win office in 2015, he promised to solve the problem. With three years of his four-year tenure gone and elections looming next year, there’s little sign he will. “It’s something Nigerians have come to expect,” said John Ape, a 42-year-old computer salesman in Abuja. “People seem to have lost all trust in the government that this will be permanently solved one day. And that reflects badly on the Buhari administration.”  Bloomberg

We Don’t Arm Juba, Says Kenya
Kenya has denied claims by a United Nations official that it is playing a negative role in the conflict in South Sudan. Foreign Cabinet Secretary Dr Monica Juma criticised the UN Special Advisor for Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, over his claims that Kenya and Uganda are aiding the transportation of arms to the Juba government. “The allegations by the senior UN official insinuating Kenya’s complicity in trafficking large quantities of weapons and ammunition into South Sudan are not only unfortunate and misguiding,” said Dr Juma. The East African

South Sudan Army Kills Rebel Commander after Fresh Attack on Yei
A rebel spokesperson accused the South Sudanese army on Monday of killing a rebel commander in Yei River State in a fresh attack on their positions, ahead of the resumption of peace talks in Addis Ababa. Major Felix Likambo was killed on Monday morning, according to a statement released on Monday by Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, Deputy Spokesperson of the SPLM-IO Riek Machar. Likambo was commanding the troops of the armed opposition around Yei area and used as headquarters Yankonye which is located some 5 miles away from Yei town. Sudan Tribune

South Africa’s New President Names Allies and Rivals to Cabinet
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa announced the makeup of his first cabinet on Monday night, appointing well-respected officials to key positions but naming as his deputy a provincial power broker with a history of poor management. In forming his cabinet 11 days after being sworn in as president, Mr. Ramaphosa also retained some allies of his scandal-plagued predecessor, Jacob Zuma, apparently trying to balance the competing factions inside the African National Congress, the governing party. Mr. Ramaphosa has pledged to make clean government a priority. Although Mr. Ramaphosa succeeded in forcing Mr. Zuma to step down as president, the composition of his first cabinet underscored the enduring influence of Mr. Zuma and his supporters, experts said. The New York Times

South Africa – Cabinet Reshuffle: The Worst of Times. The Best of Times
If Cabinet reshuffles represent the political balance of forces at the time at which they are conducted, Monday night’s announcement was the final proof, if more were needed, that the ANC is still locked in a series of massive struggles, and with big actors. It is now clear that President Cyril Ramaphosa needs David Mabuza if he is to survive, and that he still lacks the power to fire even Bathabile Dlamini from the Cabinet. But at the same time, it is also clear that he does have the authority to right one of the biggest wrongs of our times, the firing of Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister. While there are many reasons to feel these are the worst of times, there are also signs of the best of times. Daily Maverick

Inter-Ethnic Clashes in Eastern Congo Kill 22 People 
Inter-ethnic clashes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have killed at least 22 people, including 15 civilians, over the past two days, a local official said on Monday. Militiamen from the Hutu-dominated Nyatura militia attacked a Nande-dominated militia called Mai Mai Mazembe in the village of Kalusi on Sunday and Bwalanda on Monday, local administrator Hope Sabini told Reuters. Eleven civilians were killed in the fighting in Kalusi, while four civilians and seven militiamen were killed in Bwalanda, Sabini said. Reuters

11 Congolese Refugees Killed in Rwanda Protests, UN Says
A United Nations official says 11 Congolese refugees were killed last week as Rwandan police tried to put down a protest over reduced food rations. Daniela Ionita with the UN refugee agency says the deaths occurred in Kiziba refugee camp and the nearby town of Kibuye in western Rwanda. The UN is urging Rwandan authorities to investigate. Rwandan police had confirmed only five dead in a statement on Friday that said they had acted after “demonstrators armed with stones, sticks and metal projectiles assaulted and wounded seven police officers.”  AP

Ethiopian Parliament Summoned Out of Recess, Fresh Protests in Oromia
Members of the Ethiopian parliament have been notified to reconvene from their recess for an emergency meeting this coming Friday , according to a local news portal, Addis Standard (AS). The news was also carried by state affiliated FanaBC, which reported that the legislators are expected to report for duty as early as Tuesday this week. The national assembly is expected to discuss and ratify a state of emergency that was installed by the country’s council of ministers following the resignation of the prime minister, Hailemariam Desalegn. Africa News

Uganda Blames Somalia for Deadly Mogadishu Shoot-Out
The Ugandan army said on Monday its troops shot dead three Somali soldiers in Mogadishu after a military convoy carrying Uganda’s commander came under friendly fire over the weekend. Friday’s incident involving the convoy of Brigadier Paul Lokech, who heads the Ugandan contingent of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), happened when Somali soldiers established road blocks to lock down the capital after two bomb blasts that killed dozens of people. Uganda’s military spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire said Somali troops fired at the convoy and its soldiers retaliated in self-defence. AFP

Somalia Sees Enemy Al-Shabab Weaken under U.S. Military Pressure
After years of civil war and upheaval, Somalia is struggling to its feet, and the U.S. is back in with boots on the ground and drones in the skies. Special correspondent Jane Ferguson and videographer Alessandro Pavone report on the ways the U.S. and other African partner nations are helping Somali forces fight al-Shabab militants on a very complex battlefield. PBS

Tense Burundi Not Ready for Elections: UN Envoy
Burundi is not ready to hold credible elections because the ruling party and its allies remain firmly in control of political life and tensions remain high, a UN envoy said Monday. In power since 2005, Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza is leading a push for a referendum in May on changes to the constitution that would allow him to run in elections in 2020. UN envoy Michel Kafando told the UN Security Council that the political situation remains “tense” in Burundi and that conditions are not right for elections. “Only the majority party and some other allied political groups are able to conduct unobstructed political activities,” said Kafando, adding that the economy was suffering as a result of the turmoil. The Citizen

Uganda Ruling Party Wants to Extend President’s Rule to 2035
Uganda’s ruling party is pushing for a referendum that could extend the longtime president’s rule to 2035 despite the objections of opposition leaders who call it a move toward a life presidency. A national referendum to extend the president’s term from five years to seven most certainly will happen in 2018, said Rogers Mulindwa, a spokesman for the National Resistance Movement party. “It has to be held this year,” he said. In December, lawmakers passed a contentious bill that removed a measure in the constitution preventing anyone older than 75 from being president. The bill also imposed a two-term limit on the presidency, starting in 2021. AP

East Africa Pushes Second-Hand Clothing Ban
In 2015, the states of the East African Community (EAC) announced that from 2019, second-hand clothes and shoes would be banned from their markets. But the US has claimed this proposed ban goes too far and violates the Africa under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which aims to expand trade and investment on the continent. At a summit last Friday in Uganda’s capital Kampala, leaders agreed on a compromise in response to the pressure from Washington: second-hand imports will not be directly banned, but import taxes will still need to be paid. In addition, they want to invest more money in their own textile industry: “The members of the East African Community should promote their textile industry by using measures which do not jeopardize the benefits of AGOA membership,” they said in the meeting’s closing communique. Deutsche Welle

Why Build Kenya’s First Coal Plant? Hint: Think China
Across a narrow channel from this historic port town, where baobabs tower over the forest and tiny crabs skitter in and out of the mangroves, Kenya could soon get its first coal-fired power plant, courtesy of China. The plan’s champions, including senior Kenyan officials, say the plant will help meet the country’s fast-growing demand for electricity and draw investment. Its critics worry that it will damage the area’s fragile marine ecosystem, threaten the livelihoods of fishing communities and pollute the air. […] The plan embodies a contradiction of Chinese global climate leadership: The country’s huge coal sector is turning outward in search of new markets as coal projects contract at home. A Chinese multinational is tapped to build the $2 billion, 975-acre project, and a Chinese bank is helping to finance it. The project is among hundreds of coal-fired power plants that Chinese companies are helping to build or finance around the world. It represents a test for Kenya as well. While its leaders describe the Lamu plant as a source of cheap, reliable electricity, the country is also seeking to become a renewable energy hub, with huge solar and wind projects in the works and a promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030.  The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones