Africa Media Review for February 27, 2019

Nigeria Election: Muhammadu Buhari Re-Elected as President
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been re-elected for a second four-year term, the election commission says. The 76-year-old defeated his main rival, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, with a margin of nearly four million votes. Mr Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the result. Turnout was a record low at just 35.6%. Delays and violence marred the run-up to Saturday’s poll but no independent observer has cited electoral fraud. “The new administration will intensify its efforts in security, restructuring the economy and fighting corruption,” Mr Buhari said after his victory was officially announced.  BBC

Elections in Nigeria: Smartphone, Truth and Lies
Millions of voters in Nigeria took their smartphones to the polling station. They have become a tool for citizen election observers. But pictures taken at the ballot can do a lot of damage. Hailemariam Desalegn, former prime minister of Ethiopia and head of the African Union (AU) Election Observation Mission, did not mince words. At a press conference two days after the presidential, parliamentary and senatorial elections in Nigeria, he called for a responsible use of social media: “Refrain from disseminating false information on the elections, particularly the results.” At this point, thousands of tweets with #BuhariIsWinning and #AtikuIsWinning were already circulating on the micro blogging platform Twitter. Starting on elections day pictures with unverified information were shared on Facebook and in WhatsApp groups. This fell on fertile ground because social media have been rife with conspiracy theories for weeks.  Deutsche Welle

Sudan’s Bashir Reshuffles Senior Military Staff: Statement
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir reshuffled his senior military staff on Tuesday, a day after announcing sweeping new security powers to contend with months of anti-government protests, the most sustained street opposition of his 30-year rule. Several members of Sudan’s eight-strong military staff council switched positions and General Essam al-Din Mubarak, the former deputy head of the council, was given a new position as minister of state in the defence ministry. “These are normal, routine changes that happen from time to time,” the military spokesman said. Bashir announced a nationwide state of emergency on Friday and issued a raft of edicts on Monday banning unlicensed public gatherings and awarding sweeping new powers to police. Reuters

Assistant UN Secretary-General: ‘Darfur Peace Process at Standstill with Ongoing Protests’
The Darfur peace process has “once again” come to a standstill in the context of the ongoing demonstrations against the economic and political conditions in Sudan, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa and Peacekeeping Operations briefed members of the Security Council yesterday. The impact of the uprising in Sudan on the western region have “yet to be assessed”. Assistant Secretary-General Bintou Keita presented the report to the United Nations Security Council followed by consultations in Washington. The periodic briefing focuses on the performance of the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (Unamid), the peacekeeping mission’s reduction of troops and its exit from the region.  Radio Dabanga

UN Court Ruling Puts Future of Strategic US Military Base Diego Garcia into Question
The UK must return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius “as rapidly as possible,” the United Nations’ highest court ruled Monday, branding its occupation of the Indian Ocean archipelago illegal. The islands, which are home to US military base Diego Garcia, were separated from the former British territory of Mauritius during decolonization in 1968. The international Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that act was illegal under international law. For years, the US base has been vital to the military, serving as a landing spot for bombers that fly missions across Asia, including over the South China Sea. The UN ruling raises questions about its future. […] Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the US Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, said the ruling could force Washington to negotiate with Mauritius over the future of the Diego Garcia base. “Everything boils down to what Britain does,” he said. “If it transfers the islands to Mauritius — and it has a history of obeying these rulings — then it’s up to Mauritius. If they say the existing agreement is no longer valid, then (the US) would have to renegotiate.”  CNN

US Airstrike Kills 20 Al-Shabaab Militants in Somalia
American forces conducted its second airstrike in a week in the Hiran province of Somalia, killing 20 al-Shabaab militants, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said Tuesday. The strike targeted a location Monday which AFRICOM said was an al-Shabaab training camp and had been used to facilitate attacks in Beledweyne. U.S. forces have been conducting strikes in Somalia as part of a strategy to help the Somali National Army reduce the strength of al-Shabaab in the region. AFRICOM said no civilians were injured in the tactical bombing. “We are committed to supporting our Somali partners in our shared goal of diminishing al-Shabaab’s networks and disrupting its operations,” AFRICOM’s deputy director of intelligence Gen. Gregory Hadfield said in a statement. “This precision airstrike successfully targeted an encampment from which al-Shabaab could stage, coordinate, and execute attacks on Beledweyne.”  Anadolu Agency

Algeria’s Bouteflika: ‘Above the Law and above the State’
Many Algerians believed that the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) party knew better than to field a wheelchair-bound and severely ill candidate for the country’s upcoming presidential election. Despite suffering a debilitating stroke in 2013, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had been re-elected for a fourth term in office a year later. The unraveling chaos in neighbouring Libya as well as Syria convinced a significant number of people that contesting the decision of the various clans that make up the Algerian state just wasn’t worth it. But when the FLN announced on February 10 that the incapacitated and largely absent president who is 81 would seek another five-year term in the April 18 vote, Algerians wouldn’t have it. Al Jazeera

Students Protest Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s Bid for Fifth Term
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will submit his official application to seek re-election to a fifth term, his campaign manager said Tuesday, despite days of political protests sweeping the country. On Tuesday, university students took to the streets in the latest wave of demonstrations, responding to calls on social media for a rare show of public dissent. They carried banners and chanted slogans against the 81-year-old president, who has governed Algeria for two decades and who has been ailing in recent years. “Bouteflika, go away!” students called out, waving Algerian flags and singing the national anthem. Demonstrations took place across the nation, from the capital, Algiers, to the port city of Mostaganem in the west and the University of Adrar in the Sahara Desert.  NPR

Fraud-Accused Mozambique Official Faces Competing Extradition Requests
Manuel Chang is a wanted man, facing extradition requests from both the United States and his native Mozambique. On Tuesday, as a South African magistrate weighed dueling requests involving Chang, the defendant heard from two impassioned legal teams on just how much he is wanted. The U.S. wants Chang for his alleged involvement in a massive case of financial fraud which spans four continents — Africa, North America, Europe and Asia (Middle East). Chang is one of several dozen people now implicated on both sides of the Atlantic. He was arrested on a U.S. warrant in December while traveling through South Africa’s O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. The indictment, issued by the Eastern District of New York, accuses Chang and several others, some who were not named, of “creat(ing) the maritime projects as fronts to raise money to enrich themselves and intentionally divert(ing) portions of the loan proceeds to pay at least $200 million in bribes and kickbacks to themselves, Mozambican government officials and others.” VOA

Congo Ex-Rebels Head Home from Uganda
Uganda’s government on Tuesday repatriated 70 Congolese ex-rebels and their families, who had volunteered to return home five years after they were defeated, the foreign ministry said. The 70 ex-soldiers, as well as 10 family members, had all been members of a rebel group called M23. “Uganda handed over 70 former combatants of the M23 rebels to the DR Congo government, under the voluntary repatriation programme,” Ugandan ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Moses Kasujja told AFP. He said United Nations officials watched as the group boarded a plane in Uganda’s main airport in Entebbe. The M23 were former members of a Tutsi militia who had been integrated in the Congolese army under a 2009 peace deal.  AFP

DRC Main Opposition Jabs Kabila, Tasks Tshisekedi with Katumbi’s Return
Ensemble pour le Changement, known as Ensemble, a political opposition party in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, have spoken about developments in the country after the December 2018 elections. The party led by Moise Katumbi – a former governor and barred aspirant in the elections released a February 26, 2019 statement that touched on diverse areas of the polity. The issues raised in the 14-point release touched on the election and its outcome, what it said was an ungodly alliance between President Tshisekedi and his predecessor Joseph Kabila and the need for Congolese to not lose hope and keep up the fight for a better nation.  Africa News

Congo Approves Oil Deal That May Encroach on World Heritage Site
Former Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila approved an oil contract that encroaches on a world-famous national park during his final weeks in office. Kabila signed a decree Dec. 13 validating a production-sharing agreement between closely held South African company DIG Oil Ltd. and the state oil firm for three permits in central Congo. A large section of one licence — Block 8 — covers territory inside Salonga National Park, a Unesco World Heritage site. The agreement, published officially last month, may enable Congo to increase crude output above the 25,000 barrels a day it produces on its Atlantic coast. It will also heighten concerns that the worlds second-largest rainforest, where Salonga is located, will be opened up to oil exploration, potentially damaging the regions biodiversity and exacerbating climate change. Bloomberg

Ebola Treatment Center Attacked in Congo’s East
Assailants attacked an Ebola treatment center in Congo’s eastern town of Katwa on Sunday night, killing one caretaker and injuring another as the country grapples to control the second largest outbreak in recorded history, Congo’s health ministry said Tuesday. Doctors Without Borders confirmed the attack on its facility in Katwa, saying that the patients, four confirmed with Ebola and six suspected cases, have been transferred to other centers for continued treatment. It said all staff and patients are now secure and it deplores the death at the center. The medical group, known in the region by their French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres, said the assailants threw stones at the facility and then burned down parts of the treatment center and destroyed wards and equipment. The brother of a patient died while reportedly trying to escape, the group said. The ministry had identified the brother as a caretaker. AP

Why the DRC’s Latest Ebola Outbreak Is More Worrisome than the Last (Video)
It’s now more than six months since the start of an Ebola outbreak in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. And even though doctors were better prepared for this outbreak, it’s already been particularly deadly, partly because it’s happening in a war zone. The current epidemic of the virus has claimed about 500 lives, and there’s concern it may spread to a major population center. When the virus hit last August, doctors had learned from previous outbreaks in Central Africa and the western part of DRC how to quickly set up treatment centers, gear up doctors with hazmat suits, and organize the response, which includes caregiving by people who survived the virus and are now immune. But Ebola is a cruel killer, and by hitting north Kivu it targeted an already vulnerable population. An Islamist militant group called the Allied Defence Force (ADF) is fighting the army for territory and terrorizing the population. Roads are often too dangerous for medical response teams to reach the sick and stop them from spreading the disease.  Vice News

Will Botswana and SA Slay the Graft Dragon?
In 2018, winds of change ushered in new leadership in both Botswana and South Africa, albeit, in contrasting styles. Botswana recorded another peaceful transfer of power, when Ian Khama stepped down after completing his mandatory 10-year term, to hand over to his deputy Mokgweetsi Masisi. At Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the official residence of the South African president, circumstances were different. President Jacob Zuma bowed to pressure from the ruling African National Congress (ANC), amid concerns that corruption had reached alarming proportions, under Msholozi’s near-decade rule. Graft within and outside public institutions had reached alarming levels, and Mr Zuma was forced out of office last February. Ongoing investigations into State Capture have already turned up worrying information. Just under 10,000 invoices reveal how South Africa’s facilities management company Bosasa spread its tentacles into every corner of the state, pocketing more than $870 million (R12bn) in 15 years. It also emerged during the ongoing State Capture Inquiry how Bosasa milked close to 40 national and provincial government departments in payments worth millions of dollars.  The East African

Ethiopia Moves to Boost Ease of Doing Business
Ethiopia continues to work towards improving ease of doing business in the country as part of wider economic reforms of the Abiy Ahmed led government. The move according to the Prime Minister’s office is to help create a conducive environment for businesses to start up and to also have access to finance. The result of a good business atmosphere and finance the PM said will be a “means of tackling structural problem of unemployment.” Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation suffers a high unemployment rate.  Africa News

Eritrean Press: Reporting on Africa’s Most Secretive State
He’s the editor of a popular Facebook page that provides news from a country with one of the world’s worst records on press freedom. But not even the journalists who write for him know his real identity. On the surface, J’s life appears fairly ordinary. He has a day job, a family and a football team he follows religiously. But J is also the anonymous editor of the largest page on Facebook reporting news from his home country, Eritrea. BBC

The Battle for the Nile with Egypt over Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam Has Just Begun
Africa’s longest river, the Nile runs through 11 countries. One of them is Ethiopia which contributes about 85% of the Nile water flowing to Sudan and Egypt. The 11 nations are hoping that the massive Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is currently under construction, will open up many new opportunities from electric power supply to reducing evaporation losses. When completed, the dam will have installed capacity to generate 6000 MW electricity to relieve Ethiopia’s acute energy shortage and also export to Sudan and possibly Egypt. The dam can store 74 billion cubic meters of water, about half the volume of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt. A project of this size also, inevitably, brings challenges. Some of these relate to technical issues and other to the region’s politics. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones