Africa Media Review for January 19, 2017

Gambia Crisis: Barrow Inauguration in Senegal as Jammeh Stays Put
The man who won The Gambia’s disputed election says he will be sworn in as president at the country’s embassy in neighbouring Senegal. The message, posted on Adama Barrow’s social media accounts, invited the general public to attend the ceremony. Last-ditch efforts by regional leaders to convince Yahya Jammeh to step down as president failed overnight. He lost elections last month, but wants the results annulled citing errors in the electoral process. BBC

Troops Ready to Enter Gambia as President Refuses to Step Down
A midnight deadline has passed in Gambia, leaving the African country in flux with two presidents and West African troops massed on the border. Outgoing President Yahya Jammeh has refused to step down since losing the December election to rival Adama Barrow, who was due to take power on Thursday. Troops from several West African countries were ready to enter Gambia if Jammeh didn’t step aside by midnight, Colonel Seydou Maiga Moro with the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) told Senegal’s state media. CNN

Senegal Troops Move to Gambia Border as Jammeh Crisis Grows
Senegalese troops have been seen moving towards the Gambian border in a show of force to pressure President Yahya Jammeh to stand down. Senegal gave him a midnight GMT deadline to quit and Nigeria has sent 200 soldiers and air assets including fighter jets to Senegal in support of the possible intervention. Wednesday was meant to be his last day in office but parliament has granted him three more months in the post. It effectively stops successor Adama Barrow being sworn in on Thursday. His shock victory in the December 1 election plunged The Gambia into crisis. The East African

Senegal Asks UN to Back Ecowas Action in Gambia
Senegal on Wednesday presented a draft resolution to the UN Security Council seeking support for Ecowas efforts to press Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh to step down, diplomats have said. But the text does not explicitly seek council authorisation to deploy troops to The Gambia to force Jammeh to cede power to president-elect Adama Barrow, diplomats said. The Economic Community Of West African States (Ecowas) has repeatedly called on Jammeh to respect the result of the December 1 election and step down after 22 years in power. Jammeh on Tuesday declared a state of emergency as Barrow, who is currently in Senegal, maintained his inauguration will go ahead as planned on Thursday on Gambian soil. News 24

Gambian Vice President Resigns as Jammeh Remains Defiant
In what is clearly the biggest indication that the President of The Gambia, Yayha Jammeh, has lost control of his government, the country’s Vice president, Isatou Njie-Saidy, on Wednesday resigned. She announced her resignation hours before official end of the tenure of Mr. Jammeh’s administration as the country’s political impasse gets worse over the refusal of Mr Jammeh to relinquish power to the President-elect Adama Barrow who was scheduled to be sworn in on Thursday. The country’s minister of higher education, Aboubacar Senghore, who was appointed to the position last July, also resigned on Wednesday saying he cannot serve in the post beyond the tenure of the outgoing president. Premium Times

Gambia: Tourists Scramble for Flights Out as Troops Mass at Border
Tourists and Gambians have scrambled to leave the west African country after the Senegalese army said its forces would cross the border if long-time president Yahya Jammeh did not stand down. Last-ditch efforts by the leaders of Mauritania and Senegal to persuade Jammeh to step aside peacefully after ruling for more than two decades appeared to have failed early on Thursday. As tourists were evacuated amid scenes of chaos at Banjul airport, Col Abdou Ndiaye, a spokesman for the Senegalese army, said troops were at the Gambian border and would enter the country at midnight if the deadline for a transfer of power passed. “We are ready,” he told Reuters. “If no political solution is found, we will step in.” The Guardian

Gambia: Jammeh ‘Imports Rebels’
Mercenaries in Banjul from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Casamance, according to Gambian newspaper. Following recent newspaper reports that alleged Liberian mercenaries, led by former President Charles Taylor’s elite security commander Benjamin Yeaten, resurfaced in The Gambia, the Freedom newspaper has reported yet another recruitment of rebels by President Yahya Jammeh. Freedom newspaper is Gambia’s premier online newspaper. It has reported that Jammeh has assembled mercenaries from former war-ravaged West African nations–mainly from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, and the Southern Province of Casamance in Senegal. This is the area of Senegal south of The Gambia including the Casamance River that has witnessed years of turmoil as rebels there are seeking for independence from Senegal. Both Liberia and Sierra Leone recorded bitter civil wars, with the Liberian conflict starting as an internal crisis from 1989, and lasting until 2003. The conflict eventually led to the involvement of the ECOWAS and the United Nations Mission to Liberia. Daily Observer

Death Toll in Mali Suicide Blast Rises to at Least 60 
A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden vehicle penetrated a camp in northern Mali on Wednesday, killing at least 60 people and wounding 115 soldiers and former fighters who are trying to stabilize the region. The attack marked a significant setback for peace efforts. Suspicion quickly fell on the Islamic extremist groups operating in the area which oppose the 2015 peace agreement that brought the parties together. A Mauritanian news agency that frequently receives communications from extremist groups, Alakhbar, said a group linked to al-Qaida’s North Africa branch, al-Mourabitoun, had claimed responsibility. The morning blast hit the Joint Operational Mechanism base in the city of Gao, home to Malian soldiers and hundreds of former fighters who signed the peace agreement with the government. Witnesses said the car breached the camp as hundreds of fighters were gathering for a meeting. The office of Mali’s president late Wednesday put the provisional death toll at 60, with 115 wounded. AP

Al-Qaeda Affiliate Claims Mali Car Bomb Attack in Gao
Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate says a group linked to it carried out the suicide attack that killed at least 50 people in northern Mali. A vehicle packed with explosives detonated at a camp housing soldiers and members of rival armed groups in the region’s main city, Gao. Mali’s northern desert region has been restive since it was captured by militant Islamists in late 2012. Despite French military intervention in 2013, the region remains tense. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said the suicide bombing was meant to punish rebel groups co-operating with France, according to a statement obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group. BBC

France Weighs UN Sanctions Regime for Mali
France is considering a United Nations Security Council draft resolution that would set up a sanctions regime for Mali to target opponents of the June 2015 peace deal signed between the Malian government and rebels, the ambassador said on Tuesday. The peace accord was intended to end years of fighting in the north, but its implementation has been piecemeal. Mali regained control of the north after a French-led military intervention in January 2013 drove out jihadists, but insurgents remain active across large parts of the region. RFI

Youth Wing of Burundi’s Ruling Party Accused of Killings
Members of the youth league of Burundi’s ruling party have beaten, tortured and killed scores of people across the country in recent months, according to Human Rights Watch. Members of the Imbonerakure youth group carry out violent crimes with impunity because President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government is unwilling to prosecute or rein in the youth group, said the rights group in a report released Thursday. Imbonerakure members have been frequently mentioned among the perpetrators of violence that has rocked Burundi since April 2015, when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a disputed third term. AP

Burundi: Will President Nkurunziza Really Withdraw His Troops from AMISOM Mission in Somalia?

Last week, the Burundian authorities said they had ordered both Foreign and Defence Ministries to “begin the process” of withdrawing the nation’s troops deployed in Somalia as part of the African Union (AMISOM) force, but a question mark remains over whether the authorities will go ahead with the pullout. […] Burundian activists have questioned the veracity of the government’s statements regarding the withdrawal of its troops, claiming Nkurunziza has no intention of pulling out his soldiers from the mission. The president of civil society organisation FOCODE, activist-in-exile Pacifique Nininahazwe, who started the campaign #BringBackOurSoldiers, said that, even if the EU stopped funding the Burundian soldiers’ wages a year ago, Nkurunziza may be hoping that he can pressure the AU to intervene with the EU in his favour. International Business Times

Uganda Confirms Hundreds of Congolese M23 Rebels Missing
Uganda’s government says hundreds of members of a Congolese rebel group have fled a military camp where they had been awaiting amnesty since the signing of a peace deal with Congo’s government in 2014. Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said in statement Thursday that some members of M23, a Tutsi-led rebel group that once controlled vast territory in eastern Congo, “have been quietly escaping into the general public.” Opondo said Ugandan authorities have arrested 101 M23 members who were being ferried in trucks heading for Congo. AP

In South Sudan, Mass Killings, Rapes and the Limits of U.S. Diplomacy
The starkest diplomatic defeat for the United States came late last month. Ms. Power was unable to persuade the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and sanctions on key leaders. “Council members who didn’t support this resolution are taking a big gamble that South Sudan’s leaders will not instigate a catastrophe,” Ms. Power said, citing the world’s failure to respond to genocide in Rwanda in 1994. But poor timing, bad judgment and a lack of a unified strategy have hampered the administration’s own efforts to avert a catastrophe, many advocates, aid workers and former United States officials say. In turn, it has drawn attention to the limits of American influence — that, too, in a country whose independence from Sudan the United States supported enthusiastically. It is also a reminder of how challenging it has been for Ms. Power in particular to put into effect the idea that she is best known for: using diplomacy to prevent mass atrocities. The New York Times

In Africa, Obama’s Presidency Couldn’t Help But Be Personal
Africa was electrified by the rise of Barack Obama, the first U.S. president of African descent. It was in Africa that he signaled a historic opening toward Cuba, took aim at the twin scourges of corruption and dictatorship and sent thousands of troops to fight one of the most terrifying disease outbreaks in decades. Above all, Obama’s ties to Africa were personal. On the first visit to his father’s homeland, Kenya, since winning the White House, he assured the cheering crowds: “I’ll be back.” But many Africans with high hopes were left wishing for more. AP

Gunfire Erupts in Ivory Coast Second Port City of San Pedro
Heavy gunfire erupted after dark on Wednesday in Ivory Coast’s second port city, San Pedro, residents said, as two weeks of military uprisings that have tarnished the West African nation’s image as a post-war success story showed no sign of letting up. The shooting came just hours after the other main port in the commercial capital, Abidjan, reopened after paramilitary gendarmes firing in the air temporarily sealed off access forcing companies, including cocoa exporters, to close down. President Alassane Ouattara, who is also facing a wave of public sector strikes, ordered his defence minister and military chiefs to hold urgent talks with members of the security forces about their grievances in a bid to quell the instability. Reuters

Nigeria Military Acknowledges Mistake in Accidental Bombing of a Refugee Camp
[…] The strike, which initially intended to target Boko Haram extremists, mistakenly killed at least 76 civilians, and left at least 46 “severely injured,” in a refugee camp. The Nigerian military has faced much criticism from multiple international organizations as they acknowledged making such a mistake for the first time. The camp, which was set up by the United Nations in March in Rann, Borno state in a remote northeast region near the border with Cameroon, hosts 43,000 people who have fled Boko Haram. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a statement Wednesday that he was shocked to learn about the news. “This has been a truly catastrophic event. Lives have been lost, and this in a designated site for the displaced,” Mr. Grandi said. “A full accounting has to take place so that the causes are known and measures can be put in place to ensure this never happens again.” CS Monitor

English-speaking Cameroon Close to ‘Guerrila Warfare’ If Crisis Talks Don’t Happen
The Cameroonian government has banned two Anglophone organisations amid ongoing tensions in its English-speaking areas. Now a security analyst has warned IBTimes UK that this action could send the English-speaking regions into a cycle of guerilla attacks by protesters against security forces. In a letter dated 17 January made available to local media, the Cameroonian government banned all activities by CACSC and the the Southern Cameroons National Council. Barrister Nkongho Felix Agbor-Balla, president of the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), and the group’s secretary general, Dr Fontem Neba, were also arrested. “Any other related groups with similar objectives or by anyone partisan to these groups, are hereby prohibited all over the national territory,” the letter said, according to independent online news site Africa Times. International Business Times

Ethiopian Ruling Party Holds Dialogue with Opposition
Ethiopia’s ruling party is meeting Wednesday with the nationally registered main political opposition for a dialogue aimed at long-term stability. The move came a week after Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn promised to engage with the country’s opposition that “chose the peaceful path”. Accordingly, about 23 opposition parties sat in discussion with the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) at the office of the government whip in a closed session. The meeting, the first in a series, will first agree on procedural and protocol issues followed by substantive issues. Anadolu Agency

Ethiopian Government Appeals for Humanitarian Aid
On the heels of failed rains and a calamitous El Niño in Ethiopia, the country’s government has launched an appeal for $948 million to urgently address food and non-food needs, while the United Nations (UN) agriculture agency warned that a new drought may put the East African nation’s hard fought gains at risk. The humanitarian response plan, launched by the Ethiopian government and humanitarian partners, aims to help 5.6 million people mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “Last year the government of Ethiopia, with the support of international donors and humanitarian partners, was able to mount the biggest drought response operation in global history. Today we need that partnership once again as we face a new drought, with 5.6 million in need of urgent assistance,” said Commissioner Mitiku Kassa, Head of the National Disaster Risk Management Commission on Tuesday. SABC

Refugees Tortured and Raped in Squalid Desert Camps, Arrest of Somali ‘Sadist’ Reveals
he arrest of a “sadistic” Somali smuggler in Italy has revealed the shocking abuse suffered by refugees and migrants who are held in squalid camps in the Sahara before being herded onto boats across the Mediterranean. Prosecutors have compiled a 40-page dossier on the horrific abuses allegedly carried out by Osman Matammud, 22, who is accused of raping women and savagely beating men in a dusty desert camp south of Tripoli. Matammud managed to make it to Italy by passing himself off as a refugee, but in September he was recognised by fellow Somalis in a migrant centre in Milan. He was almost lynched, before police stepped in and arrested him. Initially suspected of being a straight-forward trafficker, it soon became apparent from witness testimony that he had instituted a reign of terror at the abandoned hangar in Bani Walid, 100 miles south-east of Tripoli, with prosecutors comparing him to a Nazi concentration camp guard. The Telegraph



Photo: Adam Jones