Africa Media Review for February 9, 2017

Dual US-Somali Citizen is Somalia’s New President-elect

Somali lawmakers elected a new president Wednesday, choosing a former prime minister who is a dual U.S.-Somali citizen. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as “Farmajo,” was declared the winner after two rounds of voting by the Somali parliament in Mogadishu. Farmajo won the largest share of votes in the second round, far outdistancing incumbent leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and former president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Mohamud conceded defeat after the vote count, and the crowd inside a venue at Mogadishu’s international airport erupted into cheers. Witnesses tell VOA’s Somali service that celebrations — and celebratory gunfire — have broken out in the streets of the Somali capital. The new president was quickly sworn in and pledged to improve security, fight corruption and assist the poor. VOA

Isis Claims Responsibility for Multiple Rocket Attacks on Israel from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula

Islamic State (Isis) on Thursday (9 February) claimed responsibility for firing multiple rockets at Israel’s port town of Eilat from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula the night before. There were, however, no reports of any casualties. Retaliatory air strikes from Israel reportedly led to the deaths of two Palestinians, while five others were injured in the southern Strip near Egypt’s border, health officials in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave said. However, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) denied carrying out any strikes. The Sinai branch of IS (Daesh) reportedly said they fired six rockets at Eilat, the southernmost part of Israel. The Southern Command of the IDF said only four missiles were fired from Egypt, of which three were shot down by the Iron Dome, a mobile all-weather air defence system installed in southern Israel. IBTimes

Boko Haram-Fuelled Famine Threatens 120,000 Nigerians as Lake Chad Crisis Deepens, UN Warns

At least 120,000 people are facing starvation in northeastern Nigeria due to a “catastrophic” man-made famine caused by the insurgency of Boko Haram terrorists, the UN-agency Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned. The agency also predicted the crisis was likely to deteriorate between June and August. Borno state, Boko Haram’s birthplace and the epicentre of the group’s seven-year insurgency, is expected to have around 78,000 people living in famine-like conditions, the report continued. Due to security concerns, some markets are still closed while food and fuel prices remain high due to weak currency and civil insecurity. … Around 500,000 children in the area are at risk of death if they do not receive urgent assistance, FAO warned. At present, at least 2.6m people have been displaced by Boko Haram and nearly 7m are facing hunger and potential starvation,according to aid agencies. The UN further warned that nearly 5.1m people are expected to face serious food shortages. IBTimes

Russian Ship Crew Taken Hostage off Nigerian Coast

A crew of seven Russians and a Ukrainian has been taken hostage off the coast of Nigeria after their ship was attacked, diplomats in Moscow and Kiev said yesterday. “According to the information of the Russian embassy in Abuja, there has been an armed attack on the cargo ship BBC Caribbean which belongs to German company Briese Schiffahrt,” a Russian foreign ministry statement said. “Seven Russian citizens who are members of the crew have been taken hostage,” it said, adding that Russian diplomats were in contact with Nigerian authorities who were searching for the vessel. A Ukrainian consular official said there was also one Ukrainian national on the ship, reported AFP. “At this time the kidnappers have not made any demands and we don’t know the location of the kidnapped sailors,” said an official with the consular department of Ukraine’s foreign ministry, Vasyl Kyrylych. ThisDay

Kenyan Closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp Blocked by High Court

The High Court in Kenya has blocked the government’s bid to close the largest refugee camp in the world. A directive to shut the Dadaab camp and forcibly repatriate about 260,000 Somali refugees living there was issued last year. The deadline for its closure had been extended until May, but a high court judge ruled the decision was tantamount to an act of group persecution. The government had argued it was an issue of security. It said that attacks on its soil by the Somalia-based al-Shabab group had been planned in the camp. Dadaab was set up in 1991 to house families fleeing conflict in Somalia, and some people have been living there for more than 20 years. BBC

The Role of Ethnicity in Kenyan Politics

Kenya goes to the polls on August 8. As in previous elections, the roles played by ethnicity and tribalism are likely to be decisive. Experts say politicians beat the drum while many dance to the tune. Kenyan politics have been characterized by ethnic tensions since independence in 1963. But it was not until 2008 that the demons of tribalism really flared up after the hotly disputed national elections which left over a thousand people dead and thousands displaced. The clashes mainly between the larger ethnic tribes, the Kikuyus, Luos and Kalenjins, erupted after Mwai Kibaki from the Kikuyu community was declared the winner amidst accusations of rigging and electoral manipulation. Analysts such as Brian Wanyama say ethnicity per se has never been the problem. The dilemma arises when politicians use ethnicity for their personal gain and create a divide which breeds tribalism. DW

UN Genocide Adviser Concerned over Continued Violence in South Sudan

The Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has expressed grave concern at the continued level of violence in several areas of South Sudan. In a Tuesday statement seen by Radio Tamazuj, the UN adviser said he is particularly alarmed at the situation in Kajo-Keji, where civilians have fled in fear of violence en masse. He further said the access of the United Nations peacekeeping mission to and around Kajo-Keji has reportedly been restricted despite the serious security situation, as peacekeepers were initially blocked from accessing the area. The statement noted that the freedom of movement of residents has also reportedly been limited, saying some have reportedly been instructed to leave Kajo-Keji. Others who fled their homes and moved towards the border area between South Sudan and Uganda were reportedly intercepted by government forces, according to the statement. … “President Salva Kiir has made a commitment to end the violence and bring about peace, yet we still see ongoing clashes, and the risk that mass atrocities will be committed remains ever-present,” said Adama. Radio Tamazuj

President Kiir Threatens War if Opposition Fails to Denounce Violence

South Sudan president Salva Kiir has threatened major offensives should the armed opposition continue to reject his calls for national dialogue, as the best approach and viable way to end conflict in the country. “If they don’t listen to the voices which call for peace, I will declare war against them. I don’t think there is anyone of you who will blame me again”, said the South Sudanese leader. Kiir, speaking at a public rally Tuesday, declared his intention to “exhaust all means of getting peace back to the country, citing national dialogue as one of the means. “The dialogue I declared recently is one of the means that might bring our people back home. When our parliamentarians return from recess, that is the time we will sit down together so that we talk about how to restore peace,” said the president in a speech broadcast on the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation. President Kiir said there was no other viable alternative to end the ongoing war in the country, apart from resolving existing differences through a national dialogue initiative. Sudan Tribune

UNMISS Says Fighting in Upper Nile Worrying

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said fighting on the west bank of the River Nile in South Sudan’s Upper Nile has reached what the head of the UN mission in the country (UNMISS), David Shearer has described as “worrying proportions.” In a statement seen by Radio Tamazuj today, UNMISS said what began with an exchange of fire between SPLA and Aguelek opposition forces, has expanded geographically. It added that military resupplies have since been observed arriving in the area. “On 8 February, UNMISS received reports of hostilities between the government SPLA and opposition forces in Owachi and Tonga, Panyinkang County,” partly reads the statement. The UN mission pointed out that military operations on the west bank of the Nile River are taking place in an area where people, predominantly from the Shilluk ethnic group live, forcing people out of their homes. According to the statement, the town of Wau Shilluk town is now reported to be deserted and that humanitarian workers have been evacuated and aid is not being provided. Radio Tamazuj

Cameroon: Internet Ban Dims AFCON Celebration

As Cameroon’s President Paul Biya hosted a luncheon for the national football team after their AFCON victory over Egypt, Anglophone Cameroonians are calling on the president to lift a ban on internet connection. Sunday’s AFCON triumph of the Cameroonian national team over Egypt offered a glimpse of a united country, celebrating a historic victory. But on social media, the wave of protest is growing louder. Cameroon’s national football team popularly known as ‘The Indomitable Lions’, is being honored with a luncheon by President Biya at the presidential palace in Yaounde, after they beat Egypt 2-1 to clinch the Africa Cup of Nations for the fifth time. DW

Gunfire Reported as Ivory Coast Tries to End Special Forces Revolt

Residents reported gunfire for a second straight day in a southeast Ivory Coast town on Wednesday as officials tried to end the latest mutiny by security forces over pay. Businesses and schools were closed after a short burst of gunfire in the morning, said Monique Yao, a hospital worker in Adiake. The town is nearly 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the country’s commercial hub, Abidjan. Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi said discussions were ongoing between the special forces in Adiake and their commander, Gen. Lassina Doumbia. Members of the elite unit on Tuesday fired into the air and blocked roads to demand a payoff similar to one awarded soldiers who mutinied in the city of Bouake last month. VOA

Regional Force’s Mission in Gambia Extended by Three Months

A West African military operation that pressured Gambia’s long-time leader, Yahya Jammeh, to step down and flee into exile has had its mandate extended by three months, the office of new President Adama Barrow said on Wednesday. Barrow won a Dec. 1 election but Jammeh, who had ruled since seizing power in a coup in 1994, refused to step down, forcing his opponent to be sworn in at the Gambian Embassy in neighbouring Senegal last month. Barrow immediately asked regional bloc ECOWAS for assistance and West African troops quickly crossed into Gambia from Senegal, giving mediators the necessary leverage to negotiate Jammeh’s departure. “President Barrow is glad to inform the general public that the standby force ECOMIG has integrated itself into the security and military fabric of the country,” the president’s office said in a statement. Reuters

Equatorial Guinea Government Moves to New City in Rainforest

The government of Equatorial Guinea has moved its headquarters from the coastal capital of Malabo to an unfinished city deep in the rainforest. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema aims to use the country’s oil wealth to make Djibloho a “city of the future”. Security, and safety from any attempt to overthrow the government was also a factor in the move. … The city, which has been several years in the making, includes a five-star hotel, a championship golf course, a conference centre and a university. When the project was first announced, President Obiang said security was also a reason for moving the capital. He has been the target of attempted coups in the past, most famously by the British mercenary Simon Mann in 2004. Mr Obiang said rebels had plotted a seaborne assault on his palace in the current capital, Malabo. Although Equatorial Guinea is Africa’s third biggest oil producer, more than half the population lives below the poverty line. BBC

Zimbabwean Judge Orders Protesting Pastor Freed on Bail

A Zimbabwean pastor who was arrested for organizing protests against the government of President Robert Mugabe should be freed on bail, a judge ruled Wednesday. Evan Mawarire, who launched a protest movement on social media called #ThisFlag, has been detained since Friday at a maximum-security prison in the capital, Harare, on charges of subverting a constitutionally elected government. He faces 20 years in prison if convicted. He was arrested when he returned from the United States, where he had gone following his arrest and release in July. While in the United States, he organized protests against Zimbabwe’s government at U.N. headquarters in New York. Mawarire should be released on $300 bail, surrender his passport and report twice a week to police, Judge Clement Phiri ruled. VOA

IBM to Train 25 Million Africans for Free to Build Workforce

International Business Machines Corp. is ramping up its digital-skills training program to accommodate as many as 25 million Africans in the next five years, looking toward building a future workforce on the continent. The US tech giant plans to make an initial investment of 945 million rand ($70 million) to roll out the training initiative in South Africa, a country where 31% of 15-to-24 year-olds are unemployed, according to Statistics South Africa. At the same time, the program will be started at IBM’s offices in Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco and Egypt, enabling an expansion of the project across the rest of the continent. News24



Photo: Adam Jones