Africa Media Review for January 11, 2019

DR Congo Election: Defeated Candidate Vows Legal Challenge
The defeated opposition candidate in DR Congo’s presidential election has vowed to challenge the result in court. Martin Fayulu told the BBC the people of the nation deserved to know the truth of the election, which he said had led to a “coup”. Another opposition candidate, Felix Tshisekedi, was declared the winner amid accusations of a power-sharing deal with the outgoing president. Several deaths and injuries have been reported in the wake of the results. The election was to choose a successor to Joseph Kabila, who has been in office for 18 years. The result if confirmed would create the first orderly transfer of power since independence from Belgium in 1960. The influential Catholic Church, which posted 40,000 election observers, said the result did not match its findings. BBC

Congo’s Surprise Election Result Could Face Court Challenge
[…] Careful statements by the international community did not congratulate Tshisekedi, merely taking note of official results and urging peace and stability in a country with little of it. Observers appeared to be watching for the reactions of Fayulu’s supporters. Two diplomats said all major election observation missions, including those of the African Union and the Southern African Development Community, showed similar results to those of the Catholic Church. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press. Tshisekedi, who received 38 percent of the vote according to official results, had not been widely considered the leading candidate. Long in the shadow of his father, the late opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, he startled Congo last year by breaking away from the opposition’s unity candidate, Fayulu, to stand on his own. […] Several Congo analysts agreed that it appeared Kabila made a quiet agreement with Tshisekedi, saying Fayulu would have posed more of a threat. “If Fayulu and his allies, with their own independent security and financial networks, had taken power they would have changed the power structure of Congo and definitively ousted Kabila and his clan,” said Patrick Smith of the newsletter Africa Confidential. “Tshisekedi, with his weaker network, looks like being the junior partner in his accommodation with the Kabila establishment.”  AP

DR Congo Presidential Election: Church Questions Results
The influential Catholic Church has questioned the official results of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s controversial presidential election. Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi was named the winner on Thursday. However, the Church, which posted 40,000 election observers, says the result does not match its findings. The runner-up, opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, has told the BBC he will mount a legal challenge against the official vote count. “The result is a coup and not the truth from the ballot,” he said on Thursday. “The Congolese want change.” He accused Mr Tshisekedi of reaching a power-sharing deal with the ruling party, a claim the veteran figure has denied. BBC

2 Police, 2 Civilians Killed in DR Congo Vote Result Protest
Two police and two civilians were killed in the western DR Congo city of Kikwit Thursday when police intervened to end protests over the outcome of presidential elections, security forces said. “In the operation to restore public order today in Kikwit, two policemen and two civilian were killed. We also recorded 10 wounded,” city police chief General Dieudonne Mutepeke told AFP. Kikwit is a stronghold of opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who was declared runner-up in the elections.  AFP

Burkina Army Chief Sacked as Jihadist Attacks Continue
Burkina Faso’s army chief was sacked on Thursday as the armed forces struggle to put a stop to jihadist attacks in the west African nation. Major General Oumarou Sadou was replaced by General Moise Minoungou, according to a presidential decree read on public television. For three years Burkina Faso has faced increasingly frequent and deadly jihadist attacks. The country lies in the heart of the sprawling, impoverished Sahel, on the southern rim of the Sahara. The region became a hotbed of extremism after chaos engulfed Libya in 2011, followed by an Islamist insurgency in north Mali and the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria.  AFP

West ‘Risks Helping Political Hijack of Libya’s Peace Talks’
Libya risks losing its final chance to find a peaceful solution to four years of deadlock because political parties backed by the west are plotting to hijack crucial talks, a former Libyan diplomat has told the UN. The warning from the country’s former ambassador to the UN Ibrahim Dabbashi was issued in an open letter to Ghassan Salamé, the UN special envoy for Libya. Salamé is hoping to hold a national conference this month before presidential and parliamentary elections due by the summer, which are designed to bring the war-torn country back together. Dabbashi said in his letter, published on Monday, that “some Libyan parties backed by the active members of the UN security council are trying hijack the national conference”.  The Guardian

Libya’s Militias Should Not Run Prisons: UN Chief
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging the Libyan government to bring all prisons under its control and free from the grip of militias, some of whom run migrant-smuggling networks. Guterres said in a report to the Security Council released Thursday that torture and arbitrary detention is widespread in Libya. About 6,400 detainees are held in 26 official prisons but “thousands of others” are being held in facilities with little government control or “directly run by armed groups,” said the report. “I remain deeply concerned about widespread human rights violations and abuses committed in the context of detention and the prolonged arbitrary detention of thousands of men, women and children without due process,” wrote Guterres.  AFP

UN Withdraws 260 Aid Workers from Nigeria
At least 260 UN aid workers have been withdrawn from Nigeria’s northeast over fears of attacks by Boko Haram militants, a spokesman said. Samantha Newport, UN spokeswoman in Nigeria, said in a statement late Wednesday that a spike in militant activists in the region is a major setback for delivery of humanitarian services to thousands of displaced persons. “Some 260 aid workers have been withdrawn from three local government areas (Monguno, Kala/Balge and Kukawa) affected by the conflict since November, affecting the delivery of humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of people,” according to the statement. “Clashes on December 26, 2018, between Nigerian government forces and non-state armed groups in Baga town, on the shores of Lake Chad, about 200 kilometres north of state capital Maiduguri, triggered the massive displacement, with most women, men and children converging on already congested camps for internally displaced people in Maiduguri or Monguno town.”  Anadolu Agency

US Concerned at Reported Nigerian Election Intimidation
The United States said Thursday that Nigeria’s upcoming national elections will be “a critical test of democracy” in the country and the region, and expressed concern at reports of intimidation and partisanship by government security forces. U.S. deputy ambassador Jonathan Cohen told a U.N. Security Council meeting on West Africa that the Trump administration is also concerned about heightened insecurity in Nigeria, the inability of disabled and displaced people to vote, “and the risk that widespread vote buying could challenge the integrity of the electoral process.” He urged Nigerian authorities, political parties, civil society and community leaders to address these risks and ensure that the Feb. 16 elections are free, fair and peaceful. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term. The main opposition challenger is veteran politician Atiku Abubakar, but Oby Ezekwesili, a former World Bank vice president who led the global campaign to free Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram extremists, is also among the dozens of other candidates running. AP

Ethiopia Charges Ex-Head of Military Firm METEC with Corruption
Ethiopia charged the former head of military-run industrial conglomerate METEC with corruption on Thursday, nearly two months after his arrest. Kinfe Dagnew was charged with four counts of corruption related to the procurement of tractors, said a judge in the Lideta High Court in Addis Ababa. His co-defendants faced three further charges. Kinfe was arrested after a months-long investigation into METEC, which uncovered suspicious procurement practices involving more than $2 billion.  Reuters

Russian Diplomat’s Praise of Guinean Leader Sparks Outrage
Russia’s ambassador to Guinea praised President Alpha Conde as “legendary” and said constitutions can be changed, outraging the opposition and fueling speculation that Russia supports plans for Conde to stay in power after his mandate ends next year. “Do you know many countries in Africa that do better? Do you know many presidents in Africa who do better?” Alexander Bregadze said in a speech broadcast on state TV late Wednesday. “Dear Guineans, you can and must reinvigorate your beautiful country under the leadership of your legendary president.” Guinea is among several African countries with vast mineral wealth where Russia has pushed to expand its military and political influence in recent years. The West African nation, which holds the world’s largest bauxite reserves, is the single largest supplier of the ore for Russian aluminum giant United Co. Rusal. While Conde is due to step down in 2020 after two five-year terms, his refusal to address any questions about his intentions has fueled concerns he may try to extend his mandate.  Bloomberg

Murder of Russian Journalists in Africa Linked to Secretive Mercenary Group They Were Investigating, Reports Claim
Three journalists murdered in the Central African Republic in July were being accompanied by a driver connected to the secretive Russian mercenaries they were investigating, a report has found, calling into doubt Moscow’s official explanation that they were shot in a robbery. The new investigation provides the strongest evidence yet that Orkhan Dzhemal, Alexander Rastorguyev and Kirill Radchenko were killed for trying to report on military contractors whose existence is not acknowledged by the Kremlin. The revelations came after the CAR revealed its army’s chief of staff trained in Russia, highlighting Moscow’s growing military ties with Africa, which have alarmed the West. The CAR defence minister said during a visit to Russia on Thursday that Moscow was welcome to open a military base in the war-torn republic, where rebel groups still control large areas. The Telegraph

Russian Base in Central Africa on the Table While US Refocuses Its Strategy
Russia may set up a military base in the Central African Republic in a sign of deepening ties between the two countries, Russian state media reported Thursday. Russian troops are already active in the country, where they train local forces in combat techniques as part of an agreement reached in 2018. The next step could be a military base, Central African Republic Defense Minister Marie Noelle Koyara told RIA Novosti in an interview. “We have not yet spoken about the concrete development of the base, but such a possibility is not excluded in the framework agreement,” Koyara said. “If the presidents, as supreme commanders and leaders of the nation, decide to deploy the base, then our countries will carry it out.” Russia’s increased activity in Africa, along with China’s, has caught the attention of the U.S., which recently unveiled a strategy intended to counter the influence of those countries.  Stars and Stripes

Somalia Embroiled in Diplomatic Row after Expelling UN Envoy over Accusations of Interference
New Year’s Day was greeted in Somalia by a mortar attack on Mogadishu airport. A fortnight earlier 62 al-Shabaab fighters were killed in 48 hours of airstrikes, the US announced. There were 52 fatalities from three car bombs in the capital two weeks before that, an attack that followed soon after 20 deaths from a truck packed with explosives. Still the level of violence is said to be down, by Somali standards. The latest crisis for the country is one of international politics. The government has expelled the UN special envoy to the country and this directly led to the British defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, cancelling a visit to Mogadishu and a meeting with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and his ministers while on a trip to the region. The UN envoy, Nicholas Haysom, was asked to leave after he had questioned the arrest of Mukhtar Robow, the former deputy leader of al-Shabaab and one of the founders of the Islamist group, who had defected 18 months earlier and was running for a regional presidency. The special representative of the UN secretary general also raised concern over allegations of police brutality at protests which followed the detention.  The Independent

Museveni’s Crackdown on ‘Indiscipline’ in Uganda Fails to Silence the Opposition
In his New Year Address, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni issued a warning to anyone who sought to “destabilise” the country and asserted that “indiscipline” would not be tolerated. The criminalisation of protest is nothing new in the country where opposition to Museveni’s rule has been met with violence and where individuals who criticise the state have been severely punished. Ugandan feminist scholar and activist Stella Nyanzi, who was accused of insulting Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, and was charged with “cyber harassment and offensive communication”, has been in jail since 2 November 2018. Before her arrest, Nyanzi formed part of a campaign to educate the Ugandan police about gender and the need to protect, rather than violate, women’s rights. The way in which Nyanzi herself has been treated in prison only confirms the critical need for this work. Nyanzi appeared at the High Court in Kampala on 9 January 2019 and told the court that she suffered a miscarriage while incarcerated in Luzira Prison. Her application to the court that she be released on medical grounds has been denied. Her lawyer, Isaac Semakadde, has said that the ruling was made in spite of the fact that Nyanzi has made a report of torture.  Daily Maverick

In Kenya, Grassroots Efforts Combat Alleged Police Abuses
Six men were dead. On that, Kenyan police and a watchdog could agree. Then the narratives diverged, and sharply. Police posted on Twitter that the six men had robbed a motorbike taxi driver and raped his passenger. Human rights activists quickly put together a different account from witnesses: Two of the dead were robbery suspects. The others apparently were killed by police for witnessing officers kill the two men. As frustration in Kenya grows over alleged police abuses, the public has begun fighting back. They have formed the Dandora Social Justice Center and others to investigate what they say the government doesn’t. In low-income neighborhoods of the capital, Nairobi, police killings are common. Many cases have gone unreported with families suffering in silence, rights activists say. Rarely are perpetrators held accountable. AP

Zimbabwe’s Chamisa Calls for Dialogue as More Workers Threaten to Strike
Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Nelson Chamisa on Wednesday called upon president Emmerson Mnangagwa to ‘urgent dialogue’, saying its time to solve ‘our politics and economics’ before it gets worse. Chamisa, who tweeted his call for dialogue, said Zimbabweans are suffering from the high prices, non-performing economy and salary crisis, set off by worsening foreign currency shortages. ‘‘I’ve met with many on our worsening situation and unbearable suffering,’‘ read part of Chamisa’s tweet. Chamisa, who lost a presidential election to Mnangagwa last year, has insisted that the ruling ZANU-PF government has no legitimacy and is therefore incapable of solving the country’s problems.  Africa News

Madagascar Has Become a Business Outsourcing Hotspot Thanks to Its Super-Fast Internet
In a large, open-space office, employees are busy processing promotional coupons for a well-known supermarket chain; a few cubicles down, their colleagues are collating promotions and deals for an e-commerce website; further along, developers are testing an app across a battery of smartphones and tablets; downstairs, call center operators are fielding customer service calls for various French companies. These are just some of the services offered by Outsourcia, a business processing and outsourcing (BPO) company in Madagascar. With the advent of the digital economy, artificial intelligence and the explosion of e-commerce, the BPO sector has flourished over the past 15 years, meeting companies’ insatiable need for data, real-time services and presence across multiple platforms. And whilst it’s the likes of India and the Philippines that have met the needs of Anglophone markets such the US and the United Kingdom, it is countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Mauritius that have served the Francophone market. And increasingly, Madagascar too.  Quartz

Mogadishu: White Sand, Blue Waters, Heaping Piles of Trash
Before Somalia’s civil war, the shorelines of the capital were renowned for their wide beaches, cool breezes and pure blue ocean waters. In fact, all of these attractions are still there today. It’s just that in many locations, they’re spoiled by ever-spreading piles of trash. Mogadishu is a city of some 2 million people that produces an estimated 2,500 metric tons of garbage per day. And yet until very recently, it had not had a single designated trash disposal site or recycling plant. Instead, people dumped, and mostly continue to dump their trash in the streets, on the beaches or into the ocean itself. Photos acquired by the VOA Somali Service program Investigative Dossier show the extent of the problem. One picture captures a market worker dumping a wheelbarrow full of discarded fish scraps into the water. Others show huge mounds of cans, bottles, plastic bags, boxes, food waste, scrap metal and other trash strewn across the beaches, with goats and the occasional scavenger picking through the remains.  VOA

 



Photo: Adam Jones