Africa Media Review for January 10, 2019

Opposition Candidate Felix Tshisekedi Declared Winner of Congo’s Election
Congo’s electoral commission declared Felix ­Tshisekedi the winner of a contentious presidential election in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, setting the stage for the country’s first democratic transfer of power, despite delays, irregularities and evidence of fraud. Tshisekedi’s win was announced almost two weeks after the Dec. 30 election. He garnered just under 40 percent of votes cast in a field of 21 candidates. He will replace Joseph Kabila, who has been president for the past 18 years. Tshisekedi represents Congo’s oldest political party, founded by his father, which has spent decades in the opposition. Kabila’s handpicked candidate to be his successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, drew the least number of votes of the leading candidates. A second opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, came in second despite consistently polling as the favorite. Just before the announcement of the results, Fayulu, a former Exxon employee turned parliamentarian, said in a message that a power-sharing deal between Tshisekedi and Shadary had become an “open secret.”  The Washington Post

DR Congo Presidential Election: Outcry as Tshisekedi Named Winner
Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won DR Congo’s presidential election, electoral officials say. The announcement, made overnight, sparked accusations of an “electoral coup” from runner-up Martin Fayulu. France said the figures did not match results collated on the ground by monitors from the Catholic Church. The ruling party, whose candidate finished third, has not yet contested the result, sparking accusations of a power-sharing deal with Mr Tshisekedi. It is an accusation Mr Tshisekedi’s team denies. If confirmed, Mr Tshisekedi will be the first opposition challenger to win since the DR Congo gained independence in 1960. Current President Joseph Kabila is stepping down after 18 years in office.  BBC

France Says DRC Runner-up Is Apparent Winner
France on Thursday challenged the outcome of Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election, saying the declared victory of opposition chief Felix Tshisekedi was “not consistent” with the results and that his rival Martin Fayulu appeared to have won. In remarks made just hours after the provisional results were announced, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Tshisekedi’s opposition rival Fayulu, who was declared the runner up, should have been declared the winner. “It really seems that the declared results … are not consistent with the true results,” he told France’s CNews channel. “On the face of it, Mr Fayulu was the leader coming out of these elections. ” He said DRC’s powerful Catholic Church, which deployed more than 40 000 observers to monitor the elections, knew who had really won the vote with their observations suggesting a win for Fayulu. AFP

Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir Vows to Stay in Power as Protests Rage
Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has told a rally of his supporters on Wednesday he would stay in power, as protesters massed a few miles away, calling for him to quit. Thousands of people gathered in Sudan’s capital on Wednesday in a show of support for al-Bashir’s embattled government after deadly anti-government protests erupted across the country last month. The rally backing al-Bashir, who has ruled Sudan since 1989 when he swept to power in an Islamist-backed coup, came as rival protesters launched new demonstrations in the city of Omdurman. Hundreds of riot policemen, soldiers and security agents, some carrying machine guns, were deployed around the site of the pro-Bashir rally in the Green Yard, a large open ground in Khartoum, an AFP correspondent reported.  Al Jazeera

Sudan Says Protest Death Toll Rises to 22
Anti-government protests that have rocked Sudan have left 22 people dead, authorities said on Thursday, after three demonstrators died hours after thousands cheered for President Omar al-Bashir at a rival rally in Khartoum. Wednesday’s competing rallies in the capital followed weeks of angry street protests over a government decision to triple the price of bread at a time when the country faces an acute shortage of foreign currency and soaring inflation. Hundreds of protesters who have repeatedly called on Bashir to step down marched in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman chanting “Freedom, Peace, Justice” and “Revolution is the people’s choice”. But they were quickly confronted with tear gas fired by riot police. Videos posted on social media that could not be independently verified showed some demonstrators pelting police officers with rocks.  AFP

Gabon’s Ruling Party Says President to Return ‘Very Soon’
Gabon’s ruling party says ailing President Ali Bongo Ondimba will return to the country “very soon” after a coup attempt early this week. Gabonese Democratic Party secretary general Eric Dodo Bounguendza spoke after authorities inspected the bloody scene where soldiers briefly took over the state radio station on Monday. The Republican Guard members encouraged youth to help them “restore democracy” in the oil-rich country. Authorities have said eight plotters were arrested and two killed when special forces stormed the scene and released hostages. Security Minister Guy Bertrand Mapangou said the eight have been handed over to the public prosecutor. While the capital, Libreville, was calm on Wednesday some concerns remained. Bongo is recovering in Morocco from a reported stroke in October.  AP

Madagascar’s Ex-Leader Ravalomanana Accepts Defeat
Former president Marc Ravalomanana has accepted defeat in Madagascar’s presidential election, a day after the country’s Constitutional Court confirmed Andry Rajoelina as the new leader of the Indian Ocean island nation. Ravalomanana had lodged a complaint alleging widespread fraud in the December 19 run-off vote in which he won 44.3 percent to Rajoelina’s 55.7 percent. But the court tossed out his case as “unfounded”. “I congratulate and wish him every success in accomplishing the task he is given,” said Ravalomanana in a video clip released on social media. “I have seen that the people of Madagascar are suffering, 92 percent live in poverty, they need help,” he said.  AFP

US Conducts Series of Strikes in Somalia
US forces have conducted a series of air strikes in Somalia in recent days, including one announced Wednesday that officials said killed six jihadists. The strikes come as part of an ongoing mission in which US forces are working with African Union and Somali national security forces to fight the Shabaab movement. According to US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the US conducted strikes each day from January 6-8, killing 16 militants in total. On January 2, in the first US strike of 2019 in Somalia, 10 Shabaab fighters were killed. A strike on Tuesday which left six dead took place on a Shabaab encampment that served as a staging area for “terrorists” in the region, AFRICOM said in a statement Wednesday.  AFP

Disappointment Emerges as Canada’s Mali Mission Nears Halfway Mark
Nearly halfway through Canada’s 12-month mission in Mali, questions and disappointment are emerging over what some experts see as the Trudeau government’s lack of interest in the country — and peacekeeping in general. Mali has been racked by violence and instability since a rebellion and coup in 2012, and there are fears that Islamic extremists and criminal organizations will run wild there and across the wide expanse of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Canada has had about 250 military personnel and eight helicopters in Gao, Mali, to provide medical evacuations and logistical support since August, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says is helping make a difference. “The peace process is unfolding in Mali,” Trudeau said during a whirlwind visit to Gao on Dec. 23. “Certainly our presence here is allowing it to unfold more quickly than it otherwise would be, but it is a difficult situation.”  The Toronto Star

Ethnic Clashes Kill 8 in Ghana’s North
Ethnic clashes have killed eight people in Ghana’s north, said an official on Wednesday. Abdul-Razak Tahiru, the governor of Chereponi region of the West African nation, told local media that scores of people were also injured in the violence between the Konkomba and Chokosi ethnic groups. Tahiru said security teams have been dispatched to the region to restore the order. More than 5,000 people have fled the area because of the ongoing conflict between the two ethnic groups since Dec. 31. Clashes had begun in May 2018 due to a land dispute.  Anadolu Agency

Seven Civilians, 3 Soldiers Killed in DR Congo Attack: Army
The attack, in Beni region, was carried out by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an Islamist-rooted militia operating near the border with Uganda, said Captain Mak Hazukay, a local army spokesman. “An army post was targetted by the ADF attack this morning. Three soldiers and seven civilians have been killed. Another two soldiers were wounded,” the officer said. The attack was in North Kivu province in the DR Congo’s east, where the ADF has been blamed for killing hundreds of civilians since 2014, and 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers in 2017. DR Congo’s unstable east was just one of the difficulties during a December 30 presidential election. Authorities are due on Wednesday to announce the provisional results of the ballot to replace President Joseph Kabila.  AFP

South Africa’s ANC Facing Factionalism Ahead of Vote
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) celebrated its anniversary this week by counting the party’s successes in the past 25 years. But the ANC is battling with factionalism and corruption allegations against senior party members, which could affect its standing in upcoming May national elections. In a speech Tuesday marking the 107th birthday of ANC, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa touted the party’s success since the end of apartheid. “Our economy has tripled in size over the last 25 years. Seven million more people are now employed today than they were in 1994. And we have taken bold steps to confront corruption,” Ramaphoda said. The ANC was born January 8th, 1912, in the little town of Bloemfontein. The party became famous for leaders like Nelson Mandela, who gave up his freedom to end apartheid, South Africa’s former system of racial segregation and discrimination. VOA

UN Says Tens of Thousands Fleeing Attacks in Nigeria’s Northeast
The United Nations expressed “grave concern” about an upsurge of violence in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno, which has been ravaged by Islamist group Boko Haram’s insurgency. Clashes in late December between government forces and “non-state armed groups” forced more than 30,000 people to flee to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, the UN said in a statement on Wednesday. “The impact of the recent fighting on innocent civilians is devastating and has created a humanitarian tragedy,” said Edward Kallon, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria. “It is heart-wrenching to see so many of these people living in congested camps, or sleeping outside with no shelter.” Boko Haram, a faction of which is allied to Islamic State’s so-called West Africa Province, has waged a decade-long campaign of violence to impose its version of Shariah law on Africa’s most populous country. It’s militants have stepped up attacks in recent months, including on army bases, ahead of February elections in which President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term. Bloomberg

Migrant Ships Arrive in Malta after ‘Shameful’ Standoff
Nearly 50 migrants stranded at sea for weeks aboard two rescue ships arrived in Malta on Wednesday after the island nation reached a deal with other EU member states, ending a standoff that rights groups branded “shameful”. The migrants, including a baby and several children, were brought to Valletta port by the Maltese coastguard, ending a diplomatic deadlock among EU member states over their fate. “An ad hoc agreement has been reached,” Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told journalists Wednesday, adding that the deal also included a decision on the fate of 249 rescued migrants already on the island. The Sea-Watch 3, a vessel run by a German humanitarian group, plucked 32 people from an unsafe boat off the coast of Libya on Dec. 22. Another German charity, Sea-Eye, rescued 17 others on Dec. 29. France 24

Tunisia Convicts Dozens of Jihadists over Teen Beheading
A Tunisian court has convicted dozens of jihadists over the 2015 murder of a teenage shepherd, but the vast majority remain on the run, a prosecution spokesman said Wednesday. Mabrouk Soltani, 17, was beheaded as his sheep grazed on Mount Mghilla in central west Tunisia. The details of the murder sparked outrage, with the victim’s cousin forced to watch and carry his head to the family home. A total of 49 people were convicted on Tuesday over the murder, including 45 in absentia, the prosecutor’s spokesman Sofiene Sliti said. Four were sentenced to death, one of whom is in custody, while the others were sentenced to between 15 and 36 years in prison. AFP

Rwanda Drops Appeal against Acquittal of Dissident Rwigara
Rwanda’s government has withdrawn an appeal against the acquittal of dissident politician Diane Rwigara, who was tried on charges of inciting insurrection and forgery, prosecutors said Wednesday. Rwigara was found not guilty last month at the end of the high-profile trial that highlighted a crackdown on the opposition in the East African country. Prosecutors had appealed the acquittal, but the justice ministry last week instructed them not to go forward with it. “We got an injunction from the ministry of justice and attorney general to withdraw the appeal. This is a constitutional injunction and the minster has the power to make that order, so we have written to the court to withdraw the appeal,” Faustin Nkusi, spokesperson for the National Public Prosecution Authority told AFP. AFP

Ugandan Officers Charged with Abducting Rwanda Refugees
Eight Ugandan security officers have been charged in a military court with abducting and illegally repatriating Rwandan asylum seekers to Kigali, a prosecutor said on Wednesday. The men, among them a military colonel and seven police officers, are suspected of involvement in forcibly handing over former security officer Joel Mutabazi and his brother Jackson Kalemera to Kigali in 2013. The two men had been granted asylum in Uganda and Human Rights Watch at the time accused the Kampala of having “utterly failed” to protect Mutabazi, who was at “serious risk” of persecution in his home country. “The eight officers, one a military officer and seven police officers appeared before the general court martial and were charged with abducting and repatriating Rwandan asylum seekers from Uganda without authorisation,” military prosecutor Major Raphael Magezi told AFP.  AFP

Refugees at High Risk of Kidnapping in Horn of Africa, Research Reveals
More than 15% of refugees travelling north through the Horn of Africa were kidnapped during their journey last year, according to what is believed to be one of the most comprehensive surveys of migration journeys. Researchers from the Mixed Migration Centre (MMC), who conducted 11,150 interviews across 20 countries and seven migration routes, warned that kidnappings may be increasing and identified people travelling through the Horn of Africa to north Africa and Europe as the most vulnerable. While previous reports have highlighted the issue of refugee kidnappings, most of the information was anecdotal. This is the first large survey to provide percentage figures. The research will inform policy responses on the ground, and contribute to the development of a dashboard system to forecast future migration patterns. Bram Frouws, head of the MMC, which is part of the Danish Refugee Council, said the hardening of borders had left people even more vulnerable to abuse by smugglers, who often work alongside or with tacit permission from state officials. The Guardian

Savings but No Title Deed? Loans Help Kenyan Women Turn Idle Land into Gold
For the women of Tuluroba village’s self-help group, the goal was simple: use their combined savings to buy cattle, fatten them and sell them to the beef industry for slaughter. But there was a problem. “We had no land to graze the cattle. Nor could we obtain a loan from a bank to buy land, because as women we do not own title deeds,” said Fatuma Wario, who chairs the 13-strong group. That is common. Few women in Kenya have land title documents, and few are getting them: Since 2013, less than 2 percent of issued titles have gone to women, the Kenya Land Alliance, a non-profit, said in March 2018. And because getting a loan from a mainstream bank requires collateral — typically in the form of a land title document — most women are locked out of the chance to start a business.  VOA



Photo: Adam Jones