Africa Media Review for January 10, 2017

Ivorian President Sacks Security Chiefs over Soldiers Mutiny
Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara dismissed the heads of the army, police and gendarmes on Monday after a two-day army mutiny that spread unrest across the West African nation, according to a statement from the presidency. Disgruntled soldiers demanding the payment of bonuses and wage increases began their revolt on Friday, seizing control of Bouake, the second largest city, before troops in military camps in cities and towns across the country joined the uprising. Army chief General Soumaila Bakayoko, Gervais Kouakou Kouassi, the superior commander of the National Gendarmerie and Director General of the National Police Bredou M’Bia were relieved of command with immediate effect, the statement said. France 24

I Coast PM and Government Quit as Tensions Rise
Ivory Coast’s prime minister Daniel Kablan Duncan resigned along with his government Monday, a day after the end of a short-lived army mutiny that raised security fears in the world’s top cocoa producer. Although the resignation is standard procedure as it follows legislative elections in December, it comes at a time of mounting speculation that former rebel leader Guillaume Soro engineered Friday’s mutiny as he is angling for the prime ministerial post or the vice presidency. Ivorian state employees meanwhile began a five-day strike on Monday to protest against pension cuts ranging from 30 to 50% and a plan to raise the retirement age from 55 to 60. “The strike affects all sectors – especially education, health and territorial administration,” Theodore Gnagna Zadi, who is leading the strikers, told AFP. News 24

Gambia’s Jammeh Fires 12 Ambassadors: Foreign Ministry
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has fired 12 ambassadors after they called for him to step aside and allow opposition leader Adama Barrow to take power, a foreign ministry source told AFP on Monday. The Gambia’s ambassadors to China, Britain, Turkey, Senegal, and the United States, as well as the country’s permanent representative to the United Nations, were among those sacked after sending a letter asking Jammeh to leave in late December. “The Gambia government has recalled 12 ambassadors after terminating their services,” a foreign ministry source told AFP on condition of anonymity. “I do not know why President Yahya Jammeh terminated their services, but I can tell you that these are the ambassadors that congratulated and endorsed President-elect Adama Barrow for his election victory,” the source added. News 24

Gambian Minister ‘Quits In Protest’ Amid Political Impasse
Gambian information minister Sheriff Bojang has resigned to protest President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept defeat in last month’s presidential election, reports say. Efforts to contest the results were “an attempt to subvert the express will” of the Gambian people, he said in a statement, Reuters news agency reports. State television reported that Mr Bojang had been sacked. The UN Security Council has called on President Jammeh to step down. He initially accepted that opposition leader Adama Barrow won the election, but then reversed his decision, citing electoral “abnormalities”. “The Gambia has decided and we must accept and respect this decision,” Mr Bojang said in his statement. He also spoke to Reuters by phone from neighbouring Senegal. BBC

West African Leaders to Visit Gambia President Again Amid Crisis
The presidents of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia will visit Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Wednesday in a second attempt to press him to hand over power, Nigeria’s foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama said on Monday. Jammeh, in power since a 1994 coup, lost a Dec. 1 election to businessman Adama Barrow, but the authoritarian leader has contested the results in a move condemned at home and abroad. An ECOWAS delegation led by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited Gambia in December but failed to persuade Jammeh to step down. The West African bloc has since said it would take all necessary steps to uphold the result of the election and had put troops on standby. Jammeh called the move “a declaration of war.” “They resolved that three presidents will visit Jammeh on Wednesday to press him again to hand over (power). They are the presidents of Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone,” Onyeama said after a one-day ECOWAS summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. The former president of Ghana, John Mahama, would also attend along with representatives of the United Nations and African Union. Reuters

Ghost Town Operations Resume in West Cameroon
Ghost town operations resumed in the English-speaking part of Cameroon on Monday as the organizers say the government has not responded to their demands. The streets of Bamenda and Buea (capitals of two English-speaking regions) were deserted on Monday. Anglophone Cameroon is made up of 20 percent of the country’s population and many anglophones say they are marginalized and poorly represented. “No classes this day in Buea despite the presence of officials and teachers. City taxis are rare, paralyzing transport,” state-run Cameroon Radio Television(CRTV) tweeted in French. “Classes did not resume in Bamenda. urban and interurban transport are paralyzed. No traders and customers in markets,” it added. West Cameroon teachers, lawyers and students and teachers have been on strike for more than two months. The Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium had called for the strike in the English-speaking part of the country. Anadolu Agency

Tunisia Beach Attack: ‘Mastermind’ Named
Chamseddine al-Sandi is described as the “mastermind” behind the attack in documents obtained by Panorama. He is named in confessions from suspects who were arrested in connection with the shootings. Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire on the beach and in the Imperial Hotel near Sousse in June 2015. Rezgui was killed at the scene, but the documents obtained by Panorama say that he was recruited and directed by al-Sandi. The confessions say al-Sandi ran a militant cell responsible for both the Sousse shootings and the attack three months earlier at the Bardo National Museum in which 22 people died. Both attacks were claimed by the so-called Islamic State. BBC

Short on Money and Friends, Egypt Discovers Its African Roots
[…] Egypt has not always been comfortable to acknowledge its geographical reality. Even though independence leader Gamal Abdel Nasser was a committed pan-African – he was a founder member of the Organisation of African Unity – he was an even more committed pan-Arabist. His successors, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, always put the Middle East first. Current president Sisi wants to change this. “My country is committed to Africa and will spare no efforts to extend and strengthen ties and integration across all African countries in order to help drive its economic and social development,” he told a gathering of African presidents and business leaders in February 2016. Sisi was speaking at a lavish forum in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, organised by the Egyptian government as an unequivocal statement of intent. The message was clear: finally, Egypt was looking south, and intended to bridge the historic divide between it and sub-Saharan Africa. ISS

Italy the First Western Power to Reopen Embassy in Embattled Libyan Capital
Italy has announced that it will be the first major Western diplomatic mission to reopen its embassy in the embattled Libyan capital of Tripoli, in what the Italian Foreign Ministry described as a demonstration of faith in the country’s stabilization efforts. The announcement comes on the heels of Monday’s meeting between Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti and Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj in Tripoli, in which the two agreed to cooperate on security, the fight against terrorism and human trafficking. Italy, a former colonial power in Libya, was one of the last major Western powers to close its Tripoli embassy in February 2015, as a coalition of militias seized control of the capital and the so-called “Islamic State” jihadi group established a firmer foothold in the region. Deutsche Welle

Ethiopia Targets Opposition Who Met With European Lawmakers
Ethiopia said Monday it will not release a leading opposition figure detained under the country’s state of emergency after meeting with European lawmakers in Belgium. Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told reporters that Merara Gudina of the Oromo Federalist Congress party instead will face justice. “Individuals in the European Parliament who are harboring anti-peace elements cannot save those who trespass the law of the country,” the prime minister said. Merara is one of 22,000 people the prime minister said were detained under the state of emergency declared in October after widespread, sometimes deadly anti-government protests. The government has said several thousand have since been released. VOA

Boko Haram Attacks Nigeria Military Base
At least five soldiers were killed in a surprise weekend attack by Boko Haram Islamists on a military base in northeast Nigeria, senior officers told AFP on Monday. A group of Boko Haram fighters launched an attack on the army facility in the town of Buni Yadi at dusk on Saturday, leading to an “intense battle”, one officer said on condition of anonymity. “We lost five soldiers in the attack, including a captain who was recently deployed to Buni Yadi,” he said, asking not to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media. “We are still trying to have a sense of the casualties on the part of the terrorists as their bodies are scattered in the bush.” News 24

Nigeria’s Jonathan Named in Italian ‘Kickback’ Probe
Italian prosecutors have alleged that Nigeria’s former president Goodluck Jonathan and his oil minister received kickbacks as part of a $1.3bn deal involving oil giants ENI and Shell. Court documents filed late last month in the city of Milan and seen by AFP outline a case against 11 people, including senior executives from the two oil majors and the companies themselves. Jonathan, who left office in May 2015, and Diezani Alison-Madueke, his long-time petroleum minister who was also the first woman president of OPEC, do not feature on the list. But they are alleged to have played a central role in the deal, which saw ENI and Shell make a $1.3bn payment in 2011 for an offshore oil block in Nigeria. No formal charges have been brought and the parties usually have 20 days to respond to the conclusion of the preliminary investigation report before any formal prosecution. News 24

Striking Kenya Doctors Told to Return to Work or Be Fired
Thousands of Kenyan doctors who have been on strike for over a month risk being fired if they do not return to work by Wednesday, government officials said. The walkout by Kenyan doctors and nurses since December 5 has devastated public health services in the east African nation, where few can afford private care. The medics on Friday rejected a 40% pay rise offer from the government, demanding the full implementation of a 2013 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which assured them a 300 % raise and other improved conditions. “We are calling upon the doctors again, to take the offer by the government and resume work,” said Peter Munya, the chairperson of the country’s Council of Governors. News 24

Hissene Habre Seeks to Have Conviction Overturned
Lawyers for former Chadian president Hissene Habre have filed an appeal against his conviction for crimes against humanity, marking the final stage in a case pursued by victims for more than 15 years. In May, the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC) in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, sentenced Habre to life in prison after founding him guilty of rape, sexual slavery and ordering mass killings during his time in power between 1982 and 1990. Two months later, the special court, which was set up by the African Union and Senegal, also ordered him to pay tens of millions of dollars in compensation to victims. The hearing in the EAC opened on Monday and the arguments are expected to last several days. A final decision will be made by the end of April, when the court’s mandate ends. Al Jazeera

Burundi Picks a Hill to Launch Fresh Attack on Rwanda
A hill on the common border between Rwanda and Burundi has become the unlikely focus of the tense relations between the two neighbours in the New Year. Both countries have since 2007 been claiming the ridge located between the southern district of Gisagara in Rwanda and the northern Burundian province of Ngozi. The hill is subject of determination by a joint border demarcation commission. This however, did not stop Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza from asserting in his New Year speech that the hill, known as Sabanegwa in Rwanda and Sabanerwa in Burundi, is part of Bujumbura’s territory. “Sabanerwa hill has never belonged to Rwanda. It has belonged to Burundi since time immemorial. I grew up in that area and I know this very well. But we are waiting for the report from those handling the dispute,” said the president. The East African

Rwandan King’s Successor Named
The new Head of the Rwandan Royal House has been announced by the Rwandan Royal Council of Abiru via the Prester John Institute, the Royal and Imperial Council of Foreign Nobility, of which the late King Kigeli V of Rwanda was Regent. His Royal Highness Prince Emmanuel Bushayija was named by His Majesty King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa to be his successor. He accedes to the exiled throne as His Majesty King Yuhi VI Bushayija. Rwanda abolished its monarchy by referendum on 28th January 1961, however the Royal House of Rwanda has always questioned the legitimacy of the vote. Accordingly, it holds that the crown continues in exile. The new Head of the Rwandan Royal House is the son of His Royal Highness Théoneste Bushayija and grandson of His Majesty King Yuhi V Masinga, and is a nephew of the late king. Unlike in some monarchical dynasties where succession to the royal house passes to the nearest relevant heir, the custom of the Royal House of Rwanda is for the king to name his successor. The Royal Council of Abiru was privy to His Majesty’s final wishes about his succession and, in respect of traditional custom, the new Head of the Royal House has been announced. Royal Central

Morocco Political Deadlock Deepens as Premier Ends Coalition Talks
Morocco’s prime minister has broken off talks to form a new government with two main coalition partners three months after the country’s elections, deepening the worst political deadlock since the 2011 Arab Spring. The failure to agree delays the appointment of a parliament chief and pushes back debate of Morocco’s economic reform program to overhaul subsidies and public spending. It was not immediately clear how the politicians would proceed. Premier Abdelilah Benkirane, leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD), was named by King Mohammed as prime minister for a second term after his party won the most seats in last October’s election. In Morocco, the election law ensures that no party can win an outright majority in the 395-seat parliament, making coalition governments a necessity in a system where the king still holds ultimate power. Reuters

UN Experts: Rebels, Criminals, Some Army Exploit Congo Gold
Some army officers, rebel groups and criminal networks in Congo are still illegally exploiting the country’s gold and mineral riches despite government and military bans, U.N. experts said in a report circulated Monday. The panel of experts monitoring sanctions against Congo said gold remains by far the mineral most used to finance rebel and criminal groups. It names several senior officers implicated in gold exploitation and trade, “on occasion in collaboration with private companies.” The report to the U.N. Security Council said a gold-tracing program has not yet become operational and efforts for the government to control its natural resources are impeded by “the impunity enjoyed by wrongdoers,” corruption by a wide range of parties, and loopholes in implementing bans and monitoring. AP

Sea Piracy Plunges to 18-year Low But Kidnappings Rise
Sea piracy plunged to its lowest levels in 18 years in 2016, but kidnappings of crew members for ransom is escalating off west Africa and in the Sulu Seas near the Philippines, a global maritime watchdog said Tuesday. The International Maritime Bureau said in its annual report that 191 piracy incidents were recorded worldwide, down from 246 in 2015 and the lowest level since 1998. It said pirates hijacked seven vessels and held 151 hostages, down from 15 ships and 271 hostages in 2015. However, it said maritime kidnappings surged by threefold to 62 people from just 19 people in 2015. It said that 34 were captured off west Africa, while 28 were taken from tugs, barges, fishing boats and more recently merchant ships in waters around Malaysia and Indonesia and believed transferred to southern Philippines. “The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous, and the escalation of crew kidnapping is a worrying trend in some emerging areas. AP

Angola Records First Zika Cases
Angolan health officials said on Monday they had recorded the country’s first two cases of the Zika virus, a French tourist and a resident in the capital Luanda. The World Health Organization in November announced that the Zika virus no longer posed a global public health emergency after an outbreak centred on Brazil erupted in 2015. The French tourist left Angola after being diagnosed with Zika two months ago, said Eusebio Manuel, head of the department of hygiene, without further details. “The second case concerns an Angolan patient who lives in Luanda and was diagnosed last week,” he said, adding that the patient was still hospitalised. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones