Africa Media Review for January 2, 2019

Armed Men Kill 37 Civilians in Part of Mali Hit by Ethnic Violence
Armed men killed 37 Fulani civilians Tuesday in central Mali, where ethnic violence cost hundreds of lives last year, the government said. Violence between Fulani and rival communities has compounded an already dire security situation in Mali’s semi-arid and desert regions, which are used as a base by jihadist groups with ties to al-Qaida and Islamic State. The government said in a statement that the attackers, who were dressed as traditional Donzo hunters, raided the village of Koulogon in the central Mopti region and that some of the victims were children. Moulage Guindo, the mayor of Bankass, the nearest town, said the attack occurred around the time of the first call to prayer of the new year and targeted the Fulani part of Koulogon. He said another part of Koulogon is mostly inhabited by Dogon, an ethnic group to which the Donzos are linked, less than 1 km (half a mile) away. VOA

Three Wounded in Mortar Attack on Somalia UN Base: UN
Three people were wounded when gunmen fired a barrage of mortars that landed inside the main United Nations base in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, the UN said on Tuesday. “Seven mortars landed inside the compound this afternoon, injuring two UN staff members and one contractor,” the UN said in a statement. “None of the injuries is life-threatening.” The Islamist group al-Shabaab claimed responsiblity for the attack. The Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, is fighting to overthrow the internationally backed Somali government in Mogadishu. Such attacks used to take place nearly daily, but have declined since the Shabaab fled fixed positions in the capital in 2011. AFP

Congo Opposition Cries Foul after Presidential Poll Blighted by Mishaps
The main opposition camps in Congo’s presidential election on Sunday complained of widespread irregularities after a chaotic vote disrupted by long queues, broken voting machines and torrential rain. Voting in the election to replace President Joseph Kabila, who is due to step down next month after 18 years in power, continued into the evening in some Kinshasa neighbourhoods where polling had opened hours late due to an absence of voter rolls. In other areas, election officials began counting ballots by torchlight, keeping count on classroom chalkboards. The first partial results are expected within the next two days. While voting was mostly peaceful across Democratic Republic of Congo, there were incidents of violence. At a polling station in South Kivu province in eastern Congo, a police officer shot dead a young man after a dispute over alleged voting fraud. The surrounding crowd then beat the officer to death, a witness and a local politician said. An election official was also killed in the altercation, the electoral commission (CENI) said later. Reuters

DRC Vote: Opposition Says Ruling Party Win Would be ‘Provocation’
Vote counting has started in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s long-delayed election as the opposition claimed it will not accept a ruling party victory. “I cannot see how Mr Shadary (the ruling party’s candidate) can win. I doubt anyone will have the courage to proclaim Shadary as the winner. It will be a provocation,” Martin Fayulu, leader of the opposition Lamuka coalition, told Al Jazeera on Monday. Sunday’s vote, which has been repeatedly postponed since 2016, was marked by long delays with many polling stations not opening and voters not finding their names on the poll register. The electoral commission (CENI) on Wednesday said at least 20 percent of the polling stations in the capital, Kinshasa, would not open because of a lack of voting machines. Al Jazeera

DR Congo: Internet, SMS Shutdown Threatens Crediblity of Election
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government cut internet and SMS services across the country for a second day on Tuesday, further threatening the credibility of a delayed presidential election marred by irregularities and voting problems. The government said it shut down communications for “security reasons” as votes were being tallied from Sunday’s election. In a joint statement, the European Union, the United States, Canadian and Swiss heads of mission in Kinshasa urged the government to immediately restore communications. “We request that the government refrains from blocking means of communication, in particular access to the internet and the media,” they said. They also called on the government to allow the main Congolese election monitoring organizations to have access to voting centers counting ballots. Final results are expected on Sunday. DW

Sudan Forces Suppress New Khartoum March with Live Fire
Sudanese police and paramilitary forces have once again fired on peaceful demonstrators in the capital using live ammunition and tear gas. A new mass march organised by the Sudan Professionals Association in Khartoum on Monday, with the intent to proceed to the Presidential Palace to deliver a memorandum to President Omar Al Bashir, was prevented from reaching its objective. A similar march, organised by the Association on December 25, was also violently dispersed, with government sharpshooters allegedly adopting a ‘shoot to kill’ strategy. According to journalists who spoke to Radio Dabanga, the shooting with live ammunition and heavy tear gas at Monday’s procession led to the injury of a number of people. Dozens of professionals including doctors, lawyers, teachers, and politicians were detained. The journalists described the procession as greater than the December 25 march and was characterised by precision of organisation, movement, slogans, and cheers despite the violence by the security forces. Radio Dabanga

Sudanese Opposition Groups Issue Declaration for Regime Change
The Sudanese Professional Association, and the opposition groups including the National Consensus Alliance, Sudan Call and the Unionist Gathering Tuesday launched the Declaration of Freedom and Change which calls on al-Bashir to step down and the removal of his regime. The declaration which proposes the formation of an apolitical transition government to lead the country for four years comes as the signatories have already agreed to coordinate their political action and to back the nationwide protests calling for al-Bashir to leave. The signatory opposition forces which include several armed groups reiterated their commitment for peaceful means to achieve regime change in Sudan as they have condemned the use of use of force against the peaceful demonstrations. During the transitional period, the technocrat government would hold a constitutional conference after negotiating peace agreements including the security arrangements with the armed groups. Sudan Tribune

UN Envoy Ordered to Leave Somalia
Nicholas Haysom, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia, has been asked by the Somalia government to leave the country. “The decision came after the highest U.N. diplomat in Somalia violated the agency’s standards and the international diplomatic norms by intervening the national sovereignty of Somalia,” according to the statement published by the government-controlled media. The statement gave no further details. On Monday, the U.N. ambassador urged the Somali government to safeguard human rights. In a letter, Haysom urged Somali authorities to “exercise its authority in conformance with the law and provide explanation about the atrocities committed in Baidoa last month and the detention of Mukhtar Robow.” Robow, a former al-Shabab leader, was arrest by the Somali government security forces last month. He also was excluded from elections in the South West Region of Somalia. VOA

KDF Kill Seven Al-Shabaab Militants in Somalia
At least seven Al-Shabaab militants were killed during an operation by the Kenya defence forces in southern Somalia. Through a statement, the Ministry of Defence said the soldiers engaged with the militants along Tabda–Delahola supply route. “Today at around 11am, KDF soldiers operating under AMISOM engaged Al-Shabaab militants at a location along Tabda–Delahola supply route. In the ensuing gun fight, seven Al-Shabaab terrorists were killed and an unknown number escaped with injuries,” read the statement. KDF soldiers engaged the militants at a location along Tabda–Delahola supply route recovering 9 AK 47 rifles, 10 magazines, 2 Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers and three grenades. … Al-shabaab militants have been conducting frequent assaults in Kenya, mostly in the region bordering Somalia. KBC

Somalia Military Executes 6 Militants Without Trial
The Somali military has executed six al-Shabab militants without a trial, according to officials and rights activists. “The men have been in prison for the last five months. They were part of an assassination unit. One of them was caught red-handed as he killed a government soldier, and his arrest led us to the arrest of five others, and finally we executed them,” Farah Mohamed Turba, a Somali military commander told VOA’s Somali Service on Tuesday. The militants were executed Sunday by firing squad in the town of Bardhere, about 300 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu. Bardhere, an important agricultural town, was once the main stronghold of al-Shabab in the region, but the group lost control of it to Ethiopian troops in 2015. VOA

African Union’s PSC Backs IGAD Force for South Sudan despite UN Reluctance
The African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) backed the deployment of an IGAD force within the UN Mission in South Sudan despite the growing UN reservations over the force and its role in the peace process. Following the signing of the revitalized peace agreement last September, former UN Special Envoy for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom strongly supported the deployment of IGAD forces in South Sudan within the UNMISS saying only the region can fill the remaining security gaps in the deal. However, UNMISS and UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) gradually developed a number of reservations saying its role should fit with the mandate of the UN mission and if it is about protection of civilians they have already the needed force. “Additional tasks that UNMISS could be asked to perform to support the peace process should not be at the operational or political cost of performing its protection functions,” said DPKO chief Jean Pierre Lacroix in a briefing to the Security Council on 18 December 2018, objecting tacitly to the IGAD decision to deploy troops in South Sudan during the transitional period to protect the opposition leaders in return for their acceptance of the immediate unification of troops during the transitional period. Sudan Tribune

Egypt Mulls Changing Constitution to Keep Sisi in Power
Supporters of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are calling for constitutional changes that would allow him to stay in power once his second term ends in 2022. Backers of the former military chief, re-elected in March with over 97 percent of the vote, want parliament to discuss repealing an article limiting presidents to two consecutive four-year terms. In an editorial published on Sunday, the pro-government state-run daily newspaper Al-Akhbar voiced hope that 2019 would see “the start of a belated political reform” to secure Sisi’s future in power. The column by the newspaper’s director Yasser Rizk said this would “preserve all the people’s gains in terms of security, stability and economic recovery” since Sisi came to power five years ago. He said the change could be approved by late summer 2019. AFP

Mozambican Ex-Finance Minister Held in South Africa on U.S. Charges – Police
Mozambique’s former finance minister, Manuel Chang, has been arrested in South Africa at the request of the United States, a police spokesman said on Monday. Chang, who was in charge of Mozambique’s finances when it guaranteed $2 billion in secret borrowing by state-owned firms in 2013 and 2014, was arrested on Saturday in Johannesburg. “He is wanted by the U.S.,” police spokesman Vish Naidoo said. Mozambique’s state news agency said Chang, 63, was wanted on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud and money laundering. It said the charges had nothing to do with the undisclosed borrowing, which prompted foreign donors including the International Monetary Fund to cut off support, triggering a currency collapse and debt default. Reuters

South Africa Takes Up Seat on UN Security Council
South Africa started off the New Year by officially assuming its seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019-2020. South Africa’s tenure in the Security Council will be dedicated to the legacy of former president Nelson Mandela, whose values and commitment to peace were commemorated last year during the centenary of his birth, according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. South Africa’s term will also be an opportunity for the country to work towards the African Union’s goal of “Silencing the Guns” on the continent by 2020. Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said on Tuesday: “The world is facing huge challenges, including rising unilateralism and widening geo-political divisions. These challenges threaten our collective resolve to address global challenges of peace, security and development. News24

Abiy Ahmed: The Ethiopian Prime Minister Who Captured Africa’s Imagination
At the beginning of 2018, Africa watchers were still reeling from the departure of Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwe leader’s 37-year tenure had been figuratively bayoneted by his own army in an apparent coup. The question on everyone’s lips: Would this signal the end of strongman rule in Africa? Zimbabweans were quick to remind us that the new Emmerson Mnangagwa presidency was simply a case of different feet in the same boots. All across the continent, old men such as Cameroon’s Paul Biya were running again in elections despite having already served 36 years as President. … et one African leader’s 2018 story has gripped the continent’s imagination because of the heady pace of change his appointment has engineered. Abiy Ahmed took over as Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in April. At 42, he carved a path through Ethiopia’s tense, ethnically divided landscape by becoming the first Oromo to lead his country. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones