Africa Media Review for January 16, 2019

Gunmen Kill 15 in Kenya Hotel Compound Attack Claimed by Somali Islamists
Gunmen blasted their way into a hotel and office complex in the Kenyan capital on Tuesday, killing at least 15 people and sending workers diving under desks to escape an attack claimed by Somalia-based Islamist group al Shabaab. More than 12 hours after the assault began at Nairobi’s upscale 14 Riverside Drive complex, bursts of gunfire and blasts were heard in the area, undermining government assurances everything was under control. The shots rang out at around 3:30 a.m. local time (0030 GMT) as a group of around 150 workers was escorted from a building where they had sought refuge. Many more remained inside and some needed first aid for gunshot wounds, a first responder told Reuters. By 1 a.m. local time, 15 bodies had arrived at Chiromo Mortuary and more were expected, an attendant told Reuters. Identification papers indicated that 11 were Kenyan, one was American and one was British, he said. The other two were not carrying documents. Reuters

Al-Shabab Extremists Claim Deadly Attack on Nairobi Hotel
Extremists stormed a luxury hotel in Kenya’s capital on Tuesday, setting off thunderous explosions and gunning down people at cafe tables in an attack claimed by Africa’s deadliest Islamic militant group. A police officer said at least 15 people had died. “It is terrible. What I have seen is terrible,” said Charles Njenga, who ran from a scene of blood, broken glass, burning vehicles and pillars of black smoke. Al-Shabab — the Somalia-based group that carried out the 2013 attack at the nearby Westgate Mall in Nairobi that left 67 people dead — claimed responsibility for the carnage at the DusitD2 hotel complex, which includes bars, restaurants, offices and banks and is in a well-to-do neighborhood with many American, European and Indian expatriates. A Kenyan police officer said 15 bodies had been taken to the morgue. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. The U.S. State Department confirmed that an American citizen was among those killed, but did not release the victim’s identity. Al-Shabab asserted that 47 people were killed but its Shahada news agency post gave no details.  AP

Congo Voting Data Reveal Huge Fraud in Poll to Replace Kabila
Martin Fayulu was the clear winner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential elections last month, a Financial Times analysis of two separate collections of voting data shows, contradicting claims from authorities that rival contender Felix Tshisekedi had won the historic vote. The analysis points to huge fraud in the first change of power since Joseph Kabila took over the presidency of the mineral-rich central African nation almost 18 years ago. It is likely to embolden critics of Mr Kabila who suspect the Congolese leader is seeking to cling on to power through a deal with Mr Tshisekedi. According to a trove of election data seen by the FT and representing 86 per cent of total votes cast across the country, Mr Fayulu won 59.4 per cent of the vote. Rival opposition candidate Mr Tshisekedi, who was declared the surprise winner last week, finished second with 19 per cent, according to this set of data. Financial Times

Regional Powers Call Emergency Summit as New Evidence Emerges Congo Election Was Rigged
Southern African government have called an emergency summit to discuss the disputed election in the Democratic Republic of Congo as further evidence emerged that the official results were falsified to hand a fraudulent victory to Felix Tshisekedi over Martin Fayulu. The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which include the DRC, will meet on Thursday in Addis Ababa a diplomatic adviser to outgoing president Joseph Kabila said on Sunday, Reuters reported. It was not immediately clear who else from Congo would be present or what action, if any, the bloc might decide to take. Analysis of two sets of voting data by the Financial Times show that Mr Fayulu was the rightful winner of the election to replace outgoing president Joseph Kabila, the newspaper reported on Tuesday. The Telegraph

Congo Constitutional Court Begins Election Appeal Hearing
Congo’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday began hearing an appeal against the presidential election results lodged by opposition candidate Martin Fayulu, who claimed he lost because of massive electoral fraud. Fayulu demanded a recount of the Dec. 30 vote, claiming the electoral commission published results wildly different from those obtained at polling stations. The appeal also says the results were published before the end of the compilation operations across the country. Fayulu’s legal team hopes evidence collected from the polling stations in various ways will convince the constitutional court to order a recount. The observation missions deployed by the Catholic Church and civic organization Symocel have also been asked to testify on behalf of Fayulu’s team. According to results compiled by influential Catholic Church’s 40,000 election observers, Fayulu won the presidential race with 61 percent of the vote.  AP

Soldiers Patrol Zimbabwe Streets after Protests Kill Three People
Zimbabwe’s military put on a show of force to deter further unrest on Tuesday after at least three deaths in violent protests over steep fuel price hikes, but continuing disorder blocked the flow of key supplies into the country. Zimbabweans accuse President Emmerson Mnangagwa of failing to live up to pre-election pledges to kick-start growth, having seen their purchasing power eroded by hyper-inflation, and of resorting to armed forces to crush dissent like strongman predecessor Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa has promised a clean break from the 37-year era of Mugabe, who was forced out in a de facto coup in November 2017. But residents said the army was beating up suspected protesters in various townships. Reuters

Zimbabweans Say Social Media Blocked In Wake of Violent Protests
Zimbabweans said they were unable to access social media Tuesday after protests erupted over a sharp increase in fuel prices was announced by the government. Users said Whatsapp, Facebook and other internet messaging services were inaccessible and journalists using VPN internet connections early Tuesday said they lost those connections later in the day. CNN has contacted Zimbabwe’s government for comment on the apparent shutdown, but did not immediately receive a response. On Monday security forces using tear gas battled protesters in the country’s capital, Harare, and in the southwestern city of Bulawayo. The protests began after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced a dramatic increase in fuel prices. Mnangagwa said the decision was meant to ease the impact of an ongoing fuel shortage. Diesel is now being sold at $3.11 per liter, while the price of gasoline has risen to $3.33, more than doubling overnight from $1.35 per liter. CNN

Nigeria: 10 Killed as Boko Haram Storms Military Base
At least 10 people were killed and several others injured when Boko Haram militants attacked a military base in Nigeria’s northeastern state of Borno on Monday, local media reported on Tuesday. According to a report by Daily Trust, the militant group also set fire to civilian houses. The attack was followed by a clash between the militant group and the military. Nigeria has been battling Boko Haram insurgency since 2009 when the group turned violent following the death of its former leader Mohamed Yusuf in police custody. More than 20,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, while 2-3 million have been displaced from their homes across the Lake Chad region.  Anadolu Agency

Thousands of IDPs Leave Rann for Cameroon Border after Boko Haram Attack
Thousands of Iinternally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have fled their tents following gun duel between Nigerian troops and Boko Haram insurgents in Kala-Balge Local Government Area of Borno State, SaharaReporters has learnt. SaharaReporters earlier reported that at least 10 persons were killed and dozens wounded in the crossfire on Monday night after the insurgents stormed Rann. It would be recalled that several houses, including a military base and a United Nations hub, were razed by the militant group. Tuesday witnessed an exodus of displaced persons their homes to Cameroon border to take refugee, with thousands already in Gamboru-Ngala. “It was a pathetic situation,” the source said. “We have about 50,000 displaced persons living in the camp at Rann. They were helpless; thousands of them said it was better for them to leave Rann for Cameroon than to stay back in Rann and get killed.”  Sahara Reporter

Suspected Jihadists Kill 12 in Northern Mozambique
Suspected jihadist fighters have killed 12 people in northern Mozambique as they shift attacks to vehicles despite increased army patrols on main roads. Most of the victims died in attacks on cars and buses in the gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region where Islamist militants have terrorised villagers in remote communities for more than a year. The murders mark a shift in strategy that had previously targeted isolated homes. Four people were killed early Saturday and four others wounded while driving near the town of Manilha, according to a police officer based near Mocimboa da Praia, in one of the worst-hit zones. On January 6, seven others were murdered in nearby Ulumbi after their bus was ambushed by a group of gunmen who torched the vehicle, local sources said.  AFP

The Acquittal of Côte d’Ivoire’s Ex-president Is Another Blow to the ICC’s Future
Just less than three years into their trial former Côte d’Ivoire president Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, leader of the youth militia, have been acquitted and ordered to be released by the International Criminal Court (ICC). They were both faced four charges of crimes against humanity. These were murder, rape, inhumane acts and persecution of opponents in the aftermath of the election in Côte d’Ivoire between December 2010 and April 2011. The conflict left over 3,000 people dead. This is not the first time that judges at the ICC have ordered the release of a person on trial. In 2008 and 2010 the Court ordered the release of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. The reason cited was the prosecutor’s failure to disclose evidence which, it was argued, undermined the defendant’s right to a fair trial. This judgment was rejected on appeal and the court later convicted him in 2012. Quartz

Mauritanian Leader Rejects Calls for 3rd Term in Office
President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Tuesday dismissed calls for a constitutional amendment that would allow him to run for a third term in office, Mauritania’s state-run AMI news agency has reported. Abdel Aziz, whose current term will expire in mid-2019, made the assertion after several ruling party MPs announced plans to launch a petition aimed at drumming up public support for a constitutional amendment which, if adopted, would allow presidents to sit for more than two terms. According to a statement issued by Abdel Aziz’s office and carried by AMI, the president “maintains his firm position… that the constitution must be respected and that constitutional articles 26, 28 and 99 [pertaining to presidential term limits] should not be amended”.  Anadolu Agency

Tanking Economy Shatters Zimbabwe’s Dream of Post-Mugabe Revival
Hopes of an economic revival in Zimbabwe lie in tatters 14 months after President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office, as the nation reels from foreign exchange and fuel shortages, strikes and a dearth of political leadership. Disgruntlement with falling living standards spilled onto the streets of Harare, the capital, and other towns on Monday with thousands of people heeding a call by the country’s largest labor group to strike against massive fuel-price increases. Five people were killed and 24 hurt in clashes between the police and demonstrators, NewsDay newspaper reported, citing the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights. Hopes of an economic revival in Zimbabwe lie in tatters 14 months after President Emmerson Mnangagwa took office, as the nation reels from foreign exchange and fuel shortages, strikes and a dearth of political leadership.Disgruntlement with falling living standards spilled onto the streets of Harare, the capital, and other towns on Monday with thousands of people heeding a call by the country’s largest labor group to strike against massive fuel-price increases. Bloomberg

In Eastern Burkina Faso, Local Grievances Help Militancy Take Root
It is part of one of the most important nature reserves in West Africa, home to endangered lions, cheetahs, and elephants, attracting tourists from around the world. But in the forests of eastern Burkina Faso – a landlocked former French colony of roughly 17 million people – a new type of visitor can now be found: Islamist militants. The militants, whose affiliation remains unclear, are gaining ground by tapping into long-standing social grievances linked to poverty, poor social services, and the conservation of protected parks, local analysts and officials say. Since early last year, they have launched a string of deadly attacks on government officials, soldiers, and residents, turning the sparsely populated eastern region into the latest front of Burkina Faso’s three-year struggle against violent extremists. IRIN

African Summit to Focus on Displacement, Migration
This year’s African Union leaders’ summit will focus on ways to improve the situation of the displaced, an official said on Tuesday. African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Kwesi Quartey’s remarks came on the sidelines of the Permanent Representatives Committee meeting consisting of ambassadors, who gathered to prepare agenda items for the summit slated for Feb. 10-11. Quartey told reporters that displacement and migration were major problems in Africa. “Displacement is a serious problem in Africa,” he added. African leaders will meet in the 32nd summit themed: “The year of refugees, returnees and internally displaced persons: Towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa.”  Anadolu Agency

Uganda Presidential Age Limit Challenged in Court
Uganda’s Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing a petition seeking to challenge a constitutional court decision removing an age limit cap of 75 for presidential candidates. Critics of the decision argue it would allow President Yoweri Museveni, 74, to seek re-election for a sixth term in 2021. A bill removing the limit was signed into law in December 2017 after a chaotic passage through parliament that saw MPS engaging in fisticuffs. The constitutional court upheld the amendment in a ruling in July 2018. Opposition lawmaker Winnie Kiiza and activist Kassim Male Mabirizi of the Uganda Law Society filed the petition challenging the constitutional court decision. AFP

UN Appeals for Nearly $300M for Burundi Refugees
The U.N. refugee agency and 35 partners report $296 million is needed this year to provide life-saving assistance to 345,000 Burundian refugees living in desperate conditions in neighboring Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. UNHCR reports thousands of Burundians are going hungry because food rations have been cut for lack of money. It says the health of many people is on a knife’s edge because medicine is in short supply. It says schools are overcrowded, with many children missing out on an education. It says shelter is inadequate. The UNHCR says Burundian refugees are in dire straits because the world pays scant attention to their plight and responds poorly to appeals for aid. Agency spokesman, Charlie Yaxley, said children, who make up more than half of the refugee population, bear the brunt of this serious under-funding. VOA

Rwanda’s Khashoggi: Who Killed the Exiled Spy Chief?
Dissident Patrick Karegeya had fled to South Africa, but was murdered in a well-planned attack. […] This week, five years after Karegeya’s murder, an inquest into what happened at the Michelangelo hotel will finally open in a high court in Randburg, a north-west suburb of Johannesburg. State prosecutor Yusuf Baba has told magistrate Jeremiah Matopa he intends calling at least 30 witnesses. Hearings are expected to stretch into February. Karegeya’s grieving family, friends and colleagues hope the inquest will, at the very least, result in arrest warrants for the killers – suspected to be a team who fled back to Rwanda. Since none of the suspects are believed to be resident in South Africa, that would require official requests for their extradition. The key issue, though, is whether the inquest will address the possibility of a political motive and state collusion in the assassination. “This is South Africa’s Khashoggi,” a member of the South African judiciary told me. “And by rights, it should receive the same kind of press coverage and raise the same kind of questions.” The murder of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey last October prompted worldwide condemnation – but there was only a brief spasm of conscience among allies and trading partners of the Saudi monarchy before business as usual largely resumed.  The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones