Africa Media Review for January 12, 2017

Gambia’s President Jammeh Vows ‘To Stay Till Election Ruling’
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has said he will not step down before a Supreme Court decision on disputed elections, a ruling now not expected until May. In a nationwide TV broadcast, the longstanding ruler also reiterated his concern at “foreign interference”. Regional mediators, led by Nigeria’s president, are expected in The Gambia on Friday to urge him to accept defeat following December’s election. President-elect Adama Barrow says he will be inaugurated next week. BBC

Yahya Jammeh Slams Foreign Pressure, Appoints Mediator
Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh has criticised international pressure for him to step down as he announced the appointment of a mediator to help resolve the country’s political impasse. Gambia has been thrust into a crisis following a December 1 presidential vote, which saw longtime ruler Jammeh losing to opposition leader Adama Barrow. Jammeh initially conceded defeat but later reversed his position, lodging a legal case aimed at annulling the result and triggering new elections. In a surprise address on national television late on Tuesday, Jammeh lashed out at “an unprecedented level of foreign interference in our elections and internal affairs and also a sustained smear campaign, propaganda and misinformation”. Al Jazeera

Gambia: Barrow Vows to Introduce Term Limits to Avoid Misrule
President-elect Adama Barrow on Monday, January 09, while addressing a crowd of people from different communities on a courtesy call vowed to ensure that a two term limit of 5 years is introduced for the presidency in order to avoid misrule as a result of over-staying. At Kairaba Hotel, Barrow said the coalition government which is formed by knowledgeable and strong politicians will do all it could to make sure the rights and freedoms of every person is protected. “The reason why presidents misrule the country and govern horribly against their people is because of overstay. If you spend long sitting as a president you must be prone to dictatorship because it is highly possible to think that your power is unshakeable. You may not think that power belongs to people and eventually people will be afraid of your government instead of otherwise,” said Barrow. Foroyaa

Nigeria to Consider Asylum for Gambia’s Jammeh
Nigerian lawmakers are to discuss whether Gambian President Yahya Jammeh should be given asylum, a member of parliament said on Thursday. Emmanuel Yisa Orker-Jev, head of the rules and business committee in the House of Representatives, said the motion would be discussed later on Thursday. It asks whether Jammeh should be given “safe haven as part of the reconciliation process of the crisis going on in Gambia”, Orker-Jev told state television channel NTA. Jammeh lost December 1 elections to opposition candidate Adama Barrow but despite initially accepting the result has since vowed to challenge it in the courts. AFP

Mali Military: 5 Soldiers Killed, 3 Hurt by Roadside Bomb
Authorities in Mali say five soldiers were killed and three others wounded when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb. Military spokesman Col. Diarran Kone says the attack took place early Wednesday in central Mali. Another military official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists said the deaths happened on the road between Diafarabe and Macina. There was no immediately claim of responsibility, though al-Qaida-linked militants regularly stage attacks on the Malian military in that area. AP

Germany to Dploy Helicopters, More Soldiers to U.N. Mission in Mali
Germany’s cabinet on Wednesday approved the deployment of eight attack and transport helicopters as well as 350 additional soldiers to Mali as part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission, sources told Reuters. The helicopters will replace those of the Dutch army, and the additional troops will service and maintain the fleet. After the deployment, Germany will have some 1,000 soldiers in Mali taking part in the 15,000-strong U.N. mission that oversees a peace deal agreed in 2015 between the government and rebels. The additional deployments will have to be approved by the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. The four attack helicopters and a similar number of transport machines will stay in Mali until mid-2018. Reuters

Boko Haram Still a Threat to Refugees in Cameroon
The Minawao refugee camp in the Far North Region, the poorest and least-developed province in Cameroon, is an inhospitable home for some 60,000 refugees of Nigeria’s Boko Haram conflict. A further 27,000 live precariously, often among struggling relatives and friends, closer to the insecure border. IRIN

26 Dead in Days of DRC Clashes over Slain Militia Chief 
Over two dozen people have been killed since the start of the year in clashes pitting the Democratic Republic of Congo’s security forces against supporters of a slain tribal chief, a local governor said in a statement. “The death toll since the start of 2017 is 26 people killed including four civilians, nine members of the security forces and 12 militia fighters,” Kasai-Central provincial governor Alex Kande said in a statement seen by AFP on Wednesday. The wife of one of the militia leaders was also killed, Kande added. The latest casualties add to a soaring toll of at least 140 dead in spiralling clashes in central DRC since tribal chief Kamwina Nsapu was killed in mid-August, according to the UN. News 24

Israeli Official: Cooperation Strong With Egypt
An Israeli defense official on Wednesday confirmed that the country has developed a new policy in recent years to allow Egypt to quickly beef up its forces in the volatile Sinai peninsula as part of a shared struggle against Islamic militants. The official spoke days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh el-Sissi said there are about 25,000 Egyptian troops operating in Sinai. It was the first time an Egyptian leader has commented on the number of troops battling militants there. His comments, made Monday night in a telephone call to a live TV talk show, underlined the depth of his commitment to the fight against militants, but also reflected the immense challenges Egypt faces. In addition to the troops, Egypt’s military is also known to have deployed F-16 fighter jets as well as Apache helicopter gunships and tanks in northern Sinai. Egypt’s close coordination with Israel in the fight against IS in Sinai is widely believed to be helping to fuel the insurgency. AP

East Libya Strongman Vsits Russian Aircraft Carrier in Mediterranean – RIA
Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar was given a tour of a Russian aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean on Wednesday, Russian media reported, a show of Kremlin support for the faction leader who opposes Libya’s U.N.-backed government. Russia’s courting of Haftar, who some Libyans see as the strongman their country needs after years of instability, has prompted some to draw parallels with Syria, where the Kremlin stepped into a chaotic civil war to prop up President Bashar al-Assad. Haftar was welcomed on board the aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, as it was on route from the coast off Syria, where it has been taking part in operations, back through the Mediterranean to Russia. He was greeted by the ship’s officers, given a tour, then spoke via video-conference from one of the ship’s wardrooms with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s RIA news agency cited the defence ministry as saying. “They discussed pressing issues in the fight against international terrorist groups in the Middle East,” the agency quoted the ministry as saying. Reuters

Libya’s Facebook Militias
[…] Much of my work takes place at night. Libyans go to bed, and wake up, very very late. So most information comes out at night. Which is problematic if you want to go to the scene of an event. There are a myriad of checkpoints throughout the country, and with crime levels sky high, you never know at whose mercy you’ll find yourself. For Libyans, social media is the primary access to news. Everyone here has a cell phone. But having access to the online world doesn’t mean you’re well informed. Sometimes officials will deny to one media a statement that they made to another just a little while earlier. Everything — the truth, the lies and everything in between — is posted on Facebook. Sometimes I think that the situation in the country could improve if Internet access was cut. Then people would no longer have access to rumors, which represent roughly 90 percent of information that’s out there. All it takes is for one militia to post on Facebook that there is a problem with a refinery… and long lines form outside gas stations. This system, of everyone having a Facebook page, is not without advantages. In Sirte, for example, you can find a daily list of victims of clashes with the Islamic State on a hospital’s Facebook page. AFP

Kenya Opposition Parties Unveil a Coalition to Oust Kenyatta
Kenya’s opposition parties have unveiled a coalition to face off with President Uhuru Kenyatta during the country’s general elections due in August . The coalition dubbed the National Super Alliance (NASA) currently made up of 15 opposition political parties will front a single candidate against Kenyatta who is seeking a second and final term. Some of the key members of the coalition include former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, former Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula. Kenya goes to the polls on August 8th to choose a president, as well as members of parliament and the country assembly. Thousands of opposition supporters were on hand to witness the unveiling of the opposition coalition. SABC

Ivory Coast President Reshuffles Government Following Soldier Mutiny
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara named a new and smaller government team on Wednesday, with few changes to top positions, according to a statement read on state-owned television. Adama Kone and Abdourahmane Cisse – finance and budget ministers respectively – held onto their jobs, as did Agriculture Minister Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly. But Thierry Tanoh, the former CEO of pan-African Ecobank, replaced Adama Toungara as energy minister. Amadou Kone takes over as transport minister from Gaoussou Toure. Trade minister Jean-Louis Billon also lost his post. Marcel Amon-Tanoh, who was appointed interim foreign affairs minister when Albert Toikeusse Mabri was dismissed in November, will keep that post in the new cabinet. France 24

South Sudan Rejects 4,000 Additional UN Peacekeepers
South Sudan has announced it will no longer accept the deployment of an additional 4,000 United Nations peacekeepers, saying the security situation in the county has improved. The regional protection force, authorised by the UN Security Council in August following renewed fighting in the capital, Juba, is meant to strengthen the 13,500-strong UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. “The government of South Sudan has the ability to provide security and stability for the country and for its citizens without the deployment of a … protection force,” South Sudan’s Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Mawein Makol Ariik on Wednesday. Al Jazeera

Sudanese Security Releases Four Opposition Figures
Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Wednesday has released four leaders from the opposition umbrella National Consensus Forces (NCF). Following calls by activists for a general strike to protest the austerity measures last November, the NISS arrested four NCF leading figures Siddig Youssef, Tarig Abdel-Mageed, Munzir Abu al-Ma’ali and Mohamed Diaa al-Din. In its weekly bulletin on Wednesday, the opposition Arab Ba’ath Party (ABP) said the NISS released the four leaders, pointing they spent about two months in detention and were prevented from family visits. It added that the NISS continues to detain a number of opposition figures including ABP member Abdel-Rahim Fath al-Rahman al-Sanjak who was arrested on December 20th. On Tuesday, opposition activists published a list including 34 political detainees and their arrest dates, saying there are others who they were unable to confirm their detention dates. Sudan Tribune

DRC Political Talks Enter Second Phase
The second phase of political talks about how to implement a New Year’s Eve deal on the transfer of power has begun in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. If applied, the agreement will pave the way for the departure of President Joseph Kabila and elections this year. The DRC’s political deal was signed by Kabila’s ruling alliance and the Rassemblement, the largest opposition coalition. Delayed elections, originally scheduled for November, and Kabila’s decision not to leave office when his second term expired on December 19 launched the DRC into uncharted and volatile waters. There were widespread fears that Kabila wanted to change the constitution to permit him to serve a third term. VOA

Nigeria Oil Union Starts Three-Day Strike to Protest Job Cuts
Nigeria’s blue-collar oil union began a three-day warning strike to protest job cuts at oil companies including local units of Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp., an official said. The goal of the strike is “a nationwide shutdown” of gasoline stations, fuel depots and loading bays, Adamson Momoh, a spokesman for the 250,000-member National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, or Nupeng, said by phone from Abuja, the capital. The government is due to mediate talks between union leaders and oil company officials later Wednesday, he said. Some filling stations in Abuja and the commercial hub of Lagos remained open early in the day. Exxon Mobil didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comments. Bloomberg

Why Doctors Without Borders Is Adding Food To Its Medical Bag
Medecins Sans Frontier, the medical humanitarian organization, has added a basic item to its medical bag of drugs, stethoscopes and syringes: food. The group, also known as Doctors Without Borders, has done it in response to an unprecedented food crisis in northern Nigeria’s Borno State. “I’ve been with Medecins Sans Frontier for about five years, and this is the first time I’ve seen such massive food distribution,” says Dr. Kerstin Hanson, a pediatrician specializing in childhood malnutrition and nutrition and pediatrics technical adviser to MSF. “The problem is not just medical care. The problem is that there is no food.” Some 2.6 million Nigerians have been displaced since 2009 when Boko Haram, a militant Islamist group, began attacks in northeastern Nigeria, according to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The displaced persons have largely gone to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, and to neighboring countries including Chad, Cameroon and Niger. In those four countries, an estimated 480,000 children suffer from acute severe malnutrition, according to MSF. NPR

Angola’s Ailing Health System Has a New Illness to Deal With—the Zika Virus
Just as it seemed the Zika virus was under control around the world, Angolan health officials confirmed on Jan. 9 the country’s first two cases of the disease. Africa’s largest oil producer is already struggling to overcome a cholera outbreak that has infected 106 people and killed six. Last year, an outbreak of yellow fever, also a mosquito-borne virus, left at least 400 people dead, with the government only declaring an end to the epidemic in December. These outbreaks have exposed and exacerbated the weak state of the country’s poor public healthcare system, despite years of prosperity thanks to an oil boom. One Zika patient is a French tourist who has since returned home. The head of Angola’s department of hygiene, Eusebio Manuel, said the tourist left Angola after being diagnosed with the virus. However the World Health Organization said in its December Zika situation report that a conclusive diagnosis hadn’t yet been given, as the tourist’s yellow fever vaccination could present similar symptoms. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones