Africa Media Review for February 6, 2020

Mozambique: Five More Villages Attacked in Cabo Delgado
Terrorist groups on Tuesday attacked five communities in Quissanga district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, according to a report in Wednesday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”. The attacks were against the villages of Nraha 2, Mussomero, Namidai, Namiruma and Mahate. The raiders burnt down homes and the Mahate health centre and beheaded seven of their victims. The terrorists intercepted these people as they were on their way to work their fields. Survivors of the attack on Mahate, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the daily paper “O Pais”, said they believed the insurgents were now threatening to attack Quissanga town, which is about 100 kilometres north of the provincial capital, Pemba. … “They also warned us that they want to enter the city of Pemba in the coming days”, said another man who had escaped from the insurgents in Mahate. Meanwhile, veterans of Mozambique’s ten year war for independence, now living in Nampula, have called on Nyusi to give them guns and send them to the front in Cabo Delgado. Mozambique News Agency

Main Points in Verdict That Overturned Malawi Election Win
Malawi’s Constitutional Court has unanimously quashed the 2019 presidential polls won by President Peter Mutharika, declaring he had been “unduly” elected. It is only the second time in Africa, after Kenya in 2017, that a presidential election has been overturned. Here are the main points from Monday’s landmark ruling. The court castigated use of a correction fluid, commonly referred to by the brand name of Tipp-Ex, to falsify vote counts. … “The widespread use of Tipp-Ex and other manual alterations on the result tally sheet greatly undermined the integrity of the election,” said the court. “The irregularities and anomalies have been so widespread, systematic and grave such that the integrity of the results has been seriously compromised”. The court also noted that three-quarters of the results sheets were approved without any audit. The court heavily criticised Malawi’s current first-past-the-post electoral system for choosing a president. It interpreted the constitutional provision of “majority of the electorate” as meaning that a candidate should be chosen by more than 50 percent of the ballots cast. From now on, the “majority to be attained by a candidate to the office of president is a minimum of 50 percent plus one vote of the total valid votes cast during the presidential election”. If no one candidate attains the constitutional majority, a run-off will have to be organised. AFP

Malawi’s President to Challenge Nullification of Vote
Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has rejected Monday’s ruling by the constitutional court which annulled the results of last year’s election. Though the court cited massive irregularities in last May’s voting, Mutharika says the call for fresh elections cannot be allowed to stand. However, Vice President Saulos Chilima is laying the groundwork for a new presidential campaign. Chilima, of the opposition United Transformation Movement party, came in third with 20 percent in the presidential election, second to Lazarus Chakwera of the opposition Malawi Congress Party, who took 35 percent. Mutharika of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party won with 38 percent. But according to the constitutional court’s verdict, Mutharika was “not duly elected,” largely because of massive and widespread irregularities including the use of correction fluid on result sheets. The judges ordered a fresh poll within 150 days. … Political analyst Vincent Kondowe says it is not easy to overturn unanimous decisions by Constitutional Court judges. “And when you look at the evidence, and when you look at the magnitude of irregularities that have been expounded by the constitutional court, I don’t think an individual would have much carriage to appeal such type of a court decision. So, for me, I would encourage President Peter Mutharika not to appeal,” Kondowe said. VOA

Libya a ‘Den of Mercenaries’, Say War-Weary Citizens
After 10 months of fighting that has torn their country apart, exhausted Libyans voice deep fears and say their fate is no longer in their own hands. The oil-rich North African country has been mired in chaos since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that killed long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with two rival administrations vying for power. The conflict deepened last April when military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who controls much of Libya’s south and east, launched an assault to seize Tripoli, the base of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). A fragile ceasefire, brokered by Moscow and Ankara, was established on January 12. And at an international summit in Berlin a week later, world leaders agreed to end all foreign interference in Libya and to uphold a weapons embargo. But on the streets of Libya, war-weary citizens are increasingly hopeless, telling AFP that their resource-rich country has become a plaything of foreign powers. AFP

Russia, South Africa Object to Draft UN Resolution on Libya
A U.N. resolution that would endorse a plan to restore peace to Libya and condemn the recent increase in violence faced opposition Wednesday from Russia and South Africa. The two countries raised objections to the British-drafted Security Council resolution, which backs the 55-point road map to end the war in Libya that was approved by leaders of 12 world powers and other key countries in Berlin on Jan. 19. Belgium’s U.N. ambassador, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, the current council president, told reporters after brief closed council consultations on the draft resolution that “efforts are continuing” to reach agreement. … The proposed resolution recalls the commitment of all participants at the Berlin meeting to support a cease-fire, refrain from interfering in Libya’s conflict and its internal affairs, fully comply with a U.N. arms embargo, and withdraw all mercenaries who have been increasingly involved in the fighting. AP

Netanyahu’s Issue Widens Gaps between Sudan’s Civil and Military Forces
Sudan’s civilian and military components of the transitional government Wednesday exchanged hot statements over al-Burhan’s meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister that may affect the relative entente between them. The Head of the Transitional Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on Wednesday stated he had informed Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok about his meeting with Netanyahu two days before. … Some political forces rejected the meeting based on their support to the Palestinian people and Netanyahu’s rejection of an independent state for them. However, the major point of divergence was who does what. … “The relationship with Israel is an issue that transcends the competences of the transitional government which has a limited mandate, and it must be considered by the legislature and the constitutional conference,” said the government. Sudan Tribune

Ivory Coast Navy Seizes Record Cocaine Haul off Coast
Ivory Coast’s navy has seized a record amount of cocaine plastic-wrapped in small bundles bearing the tattered logos of French fashion house Louis Vuitton and Pacena Black, a dark beer from Bolivia. The 411 kilograms of cocaine destined for the commercial capital Abidjan came from a Spanish-flagged ship that had been spotted by the navy idling 250 km (155 miles) off the coast since Jan. 30, the navy said in a statement on Wednesday. The ship offloaded the drugs onto a smaller boat which was picked up by a special unit of the Ivorian navy on Monday at about 1830 GMT, the navy said. Five people were also taken into custody. It was not yet clear where the cocaine originated from or who was responsible for trafficking it. … Major drug hauls in Ivory Coast are rare, but over the last 18 months several large cocaine seizures have been made along the West African Atlantic Coast, a frequent stopping point for South American cocaine heading to Europe. About 40 tonnes pass through the region annually, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Reuters

Guinea Bissau Ex-PM Embalo Declared Winner of Runoff
Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau’s opposition party has been declared winner of the second round of presidential election held on December 29 last year. The National Electoral Commission (CNE) of Guinea-Bissau made the announcement Tuesday following a request by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for verification results. He beat his contender Domingos Simoes Pereira by about 54% to 46%, the commission said. Thus a new stage has been reached in the Guinea-Bissau crisis, even if the dispute remains far from being resolved. “There was absolutely nothing, it was just a consolidation of the figures announced by the CNE, and we were there to see it. Practically nothing has changed”, Vençã Mendes, a representative of the PAIGC candidate said. The ruling party PAIGC took to Twitter to “once again condemn the electoral commission for the lack of transparency”, heralding a lengthening of legal proceedings. Pereira has vowed t contest the results. AFP

Nigerian Customs Find $8 Million in Cash on Bus at Airport
Nigerian authorities seized $8 million in cash stashed in six plastic bags on a bus at the international airport in the commercial capital of Lagos, the customs service said on Wednesday. The cash, in an unspecified foreign currency, was wrapped in 20 sealed packages inside the bags, was found on the bus at the Murtala Muhammed airport on 16 January, according to a statement from the customs authority. The bus driver was arrested at the scene, the authority said, but it was not yet clear whose money it was. Under Nigerian law, anyone seeking to cross a border with more than $10,000-worth of cash must declare it to customs. Large seizures of cash and goods are not uncommon in Nigeria, which ranked 146 out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2019 corruption perception index. Reuters

Lassa Fever: Nigeria Records Six New Deaths as Confirmed Cases Increase
Nigeria has registered an upsurge in the number of Lassa Fever cases since the beginning of the year, with 365 positive cases and 47 deaths reported from 23 states across the country. According to week five situation report on the disease released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday, the number of states reporting at least a case of the disease rose to 23 from 19 in the previous week. … Lassa Fever has become a yearly occurrence in the country. This has been raising concerns among health experts who believe Nigeria is not making enough conscious efforts to combat it. Due to the yearly death of their members from the disease, the Association of Resident Doctors called on the federal government to declare a state of emergency on Lassa fever. The association said it has become a yearly occurrence for them to lose their colleagues to the disease as they are often the first responders to Lassa fever patients. They said health workers are susceptible to infection with the disease because health facilities are poorly equipped. Premium Times

‘Fragile’ Africa Prepares for High Risk of Coronavirus Spread
An isolation ward stands ready at a hospital in Khartoum, Sudan. Laboratories in Senegal and Madagascar have the testing equipment they need. Passengers arriving at airports in Gambia, Cameroon and Guinea are being screened for fever and other viral symptoms. Africa’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says it has activated its emergency operation centre in the face of what global health officials say is a high risk the coronavirus disease epidemic that began in China will spread to its borders. On a poor continent where healthcare capacity is limited, early detection of any outbreak will be crucial. The fear is great that a spreading epidemic of coronavirus infections will be hard to contain in countries where health systems are already overburdened with cases of Ebola, measles, malaria and other deadly infectious diseases. Reuters

Equatorial Guinea Donates $2m to China to Help Combat Coronavirus
The government of Equatorial Guinea has announced a solidarity contribution of $2 million to China over the rampaging coronavirus outbreak. The decision was reached after a cabinet meeting this week. It was chaired by President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. The cabinet also expressed solidarity and support for the Chinese government. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons said about the gesture: “China has always been a very strong and loyal supporter of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and this contribution is a demonstration that Equatorial Guinea stands in solidarity with China and its people as it fights a global outbreak that has already cost too many lives.” … Latest updates from the World Health Organization indicates that the coronavirus as of 6am Geneva time on February 5, 2020; had affected 24,363 people in China, and 490 deaths. … Like almost all other African countries, China has significant investments across the oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, from the areas of telecommunication, public sector infrastructure and technology, Beijing is a close partner of Malabo. AfricaNews

Kenya Seeks Close Ties with Both U.S. and China, Kenyan President Says
Kenya sees no conflict in pursuing close ties with both the United States and China, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday, a day before he meets U.S. President Donald Trump to start talks on a potential free trade agreement. Kenyatta gave no details, but said his country was keen to secure its economic future ahead of the expiry of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows sub-Saharan African countries to export thousands of products to the United States without tariffs or quotas until 2025. The East African nation, which needs to boost exports to create jobs at home for millions of young people and bolster hard currency earnings, has seen a rising number of U.S. tourists and growing investments by firms like Alphabet Inc. Kenyatta said his country had no interest in being drawn into some proxy war between the world’s two largest economies after decades of Cold War tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union that also played out in Africa. … Kenyatta said the United States and China had different strengths that could benefit Kenya, with opportunities for all partners. Reuters

Ghana Charges Ex-Finance Minister After Collapse of Bank
Ghanaian prosecutors charged a former finance minister for alleged crimes that contributed to the collapse of one of the West African nation’s biggest local lenders during a banking crisis. Kwabena Duffuor, who served as finance chief from 2009 to 2013, and seven other individuals were named in a filing Wednesday at the Accra High Court on counts that include theft and money laundering. Duffuor is accused of receiving 663.3 million cedis ($122 million) “knowing it had been obtained by means of a criminal offense,” among other charges, according to the court document. … The scale of Ghana’s banking crisis came to the fore when the central bank started an industry cleanup in August 2017 to remedy years of poor governance and weak regulatory oversight. It left the government with little choice but to safeguard the savings of about 4.6 million depositors and protect jobs at insolvent banks and scores of second-tier lenders with 12.5 billion cedis in bailouts. Bloomberg

Kenya: World’s Famous Big Tusker Elephant Dies in Amboseli
Tim, one of the last surviving super tusker elephants in Africa has died in Amboseli National Park. While many elephants in the country die prematurely due to poaching, the Majestic Tim, one of Africa’s last big tusker elephants and an African Elephant ambassador died of natural causes early Tuesday aged 50 years in Mada area of Amboseli National Park, Kenya Wildlife Service officials said. Elephants can live up to 70 years. KWS said park management visited the scene of death and has secured the body which has been transferred to the National Museums, in Nairobi. … Famous for his rare majestic tusks, Tim was a very popular sighting for tourists who visited Amboseli National Park. He was considered an ambassador for his species and even has a life-size poster of him. Tributes to the elephant poured in social media from all over the world. … CEO Wildlife Direct Paula Kahumbu who has known Tim for over a decade described him as “the magnificent bull of the Amboseli”. Dr Kahumbu said Tim was one of the last remaining great tuskers in Kenya, a term used to describe African male elephants with long tusks. “The great tuskers are an irreplaceable symbol of our continent’s unique natural heritage. But their magnificent tusks act like a magnet for poachers (and in some countries still for trophy hunters) and means that these elephants are constantly at risk,” said Dr Kahumbu. Daily Nation



Photo: Adam Jones