Africa Media Review for January 20, 2017

High Stakes in Gambia: Security Implications
Gambia is facing a high-stakes political crisis as President Yahya Jammeh, in power for the past 22 years, has indicated his intent to remain in office past the end of his term on January 19, despite losing an election to Adama Barrow on December 1. The Africa Center’s Dorina Bekoe provides some perspective on the crisis, prospects for resolution, and security implications for Gambia and the region. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Jammeh Has Until Midday ‘to Hand Over Power’ – Ecowas
Long-ruling Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, who lost elections last month, has until midday Friday to hand over power and agree to leave the country or face military action, regional bloc Ecowas has said. West African troops entered The Gambia on Thursday to bolster its new President Adama Barrow but the military operation was suspended a few hours later, in favour of a final diplomatic effort to convince Jammeh – who has refused to quit – to exit the country. “We have suspended operations and given him an ultimatum,” said Marcel Alain de Souza, head of the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States. “If by midday, he doesn’t agree to leave The Gambia…we really will intervene militarily,” he added. News24

Adama Barrow Inaugurated as President of Gambia amid Standoff with Predecessor Yahya Jammeh
Adama Barrow, the winner of December’s election in The Gambia, has been inaugurated President at the country’s Embassy in Senegal, amid a standoff with his predecessor Yahya Jammeh. The presidential crisis was sparked when Jammeh refused to step down, and has mobilised the East African regional body of states ECOWAS to the point of intervention to remove the 22-year ruler by force. The president arrived to cheering crowds outside The Gambia’s diplomatic mission in Dakar, where dignitaries from across Africa had gathered to witness the ceremony. Barrow’s supporters waved Gambian flags and wore T-shirts bearing the slogan ‘Gambia has decided’. In his inaugural speech Barrow heralded his investiture as a historic day for The Gambia saying that his election marked the first occasion since independence in 1965 that the country had voted for its leader at the ballot box. IBTimes

UN Security Council Recognizes Barrow as Gambia’s Legitimate President
The United Nations Security Council has recognized Adama Barrow as Gambia’s new president while longtime leader Yahya Jammeh refuses to give up power. Barrow took the oath of office Thursday at the Gambian embassy in neighboring Senegal. He was to have been sworn in at the Gambian capital of Banjul. A Senegalese army spokesman tells Western news agencies that West African troops crossed into Gambia Thursday to keep the peace and that “significant” military resources are available. A Nigerian spokesman said Nigerian forces are also deployed “to protect the people of Gambia and maintain sub-regional peace and security.” No violence has been reported. VOA

New Gambia President Demands Army Loyalty
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow demanded “loyalty” from the armed forces Thursday as he took the oath of office in Senegal in a standoff with Yahya Jammeh, the longtime leader refusing to step down after his election defeat. Dressed all in white, 51-year-old Barrow waved to crowds before being sworn in at The Gambia’s embassy in Senegal’s capital Dakar. … The inauguration took place as a regional military force massed on the Senegal-Gambia border ahead of a UN Security Council meeting to vote on West African efforts to ensure a transfer of power. “I command the chief of defence staff and officers of high command to demonstrate their loyalty to me as commander in chief without any delay,” Barrow said. “I command all members of the armed forces to remain in their barracks, those found wanting or in possession of firearms without my order will be considered rebels.” The East African

Regional Troops Enter Gambia to Force Jammeh Out
A West African regional force charged into neighbouring Gambia late on Thursday to support the country’s newly inaugurated president, while longtime ruler Yahya Jammeh showed no sign of stepping down. The troops moved in shortly after Adama Barrow was inaugurated at Gambia’s embassy in neighbouring Senegal, after a final effort at diplomatic talks with Jammeh failed to secure his departure. His mandate expired at midnight. Senegalese military spokesperson Colonel Abdoul Ndiaye confirmed to The Associated Press that the first regional troops had crossed into Gambia and were on their way to the capital, Banjul. AP journalists saw at least 20 military vehicles gathered at the border town of Karang. News24

Over 80 ISIS Fighters Killed in Latest US Air Strike Near Sirte in Libya, Pentagon Says
More than 80 Islamic State (Isis) militants were killed in overnight US precision air strikes conducted near Sirte, Libya, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Thursday (19 January) — the eve of his final day in office. The US forces also targeted several enemy locations in Iraq and Syria as part of their ongoing offensive against the jihadist group. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said that the operation in Libya was jointly carried out by the US-led coalition force and Libya’s Government of National Accord. He added that the militants who were killed “posed a security risk to Libya, its neighbors, our allies in Africa and Europe, and to the United States and its interests”. IBTimes

Boko Haram Attacks Camp Bombed by Nigeria’s Air Force
Witnesses say Boko Haram extremists have attacked a refugee camp in northeast Nigeria just days after Nigeria’s air force bombed it. One witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of safety fears, says soldiers battled for hours to repel more than 100 Boko Haram fighters who attacked the camp in Rann in Borno state on Thursday evening. The witness says eight Boko Haram fighters were killed and one soldier was wounded. On Tuesday, Nigeria’s air force bombed the camp housing Boko Haram refugees multiple times. Nigerian officials have said it was an accident. News24

Nigeria: Lawmakers Propose Bill to Jail Ministers, Others Who Defy Them
A bill that could see officials of the executive arm of government thrown into prison if they fail to honour a summon by the legislature has passed second reading in the House of Representatives. The bill also recommended an alternative fine of up to N1 million for any official found guilty of contempt of the National Assembly. The sponsor of the bill, Sunday Karim, said during plenary on Thursday that lawmakers were frustrated by frequent refusal of members of the executive arm of government, especially ministers and directors-general, to honour invitations of investigative committees in both the Senate and the House. Mr. Karim said his bill seeks to bolster the provisions of the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act of 2004 which he said he been repeatedly desecrated by government officials. “This bill is meant to assist our oversight functions,” Mr. Karim said. Premium Times

Pressure Forces Release of Nigerian Journalists Targeted by Army
Nigerian police released two journalists from PREMIUM TIMES who were arrested in a raid Thursday afternoon on the paper’s head office in Abuja. The newspaper’s publisher, Dapo Olorunyomi, along with judiciary correspondent Evelyn Okakwu, were allowed to leave but ordered to appear Friday. Police said they were acting on a complaint filed by the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai. The Army has threatened to sue the paper over coverage of operations in the fight against Boko Haram and Buratai’s actions.Lawyers for the paper unequivocally rejected the demand for retractions and apology. AllAfrica

South Sudan Rival Forces Deny Committing Human Rights Abuses
The two main rival forces in the South Sudanese [conflict] implicated in a newly released United Nations report have denied their involvement in human right abuses, with government troops protesting and questioning the credibility of the report. The world body, in a report released on Wednesday, accused the South Sudanese army (SPLA) and the armed opposition faction of abusing civilians in form of rape, abduction and killing of innocent civilians in various parts of the country. However, the deputy spokesman of the SPLA Col. Santo Domic criticized the UN report, which claimed government troops of committing grave human rights violations including killings and gang rapes in Juba during and after the fighting that occurred between 8 and 12 July 2016. The military officer wondered why the victims could not come forward to report the alleged abuses or go to court to file their grievances against the actual perpetrators. Sudan Tribune

Burundi Drops Threat to Quit Peacekeeping in Somalia
Burundi said Thursday it would not follow through on its planned withdrawal of troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) after reaching an agreement over the payment of wages. The European Union funds Amisom salaries, which are disbursed by the AU, but Bujumbura has not received them for months as European diplomats seek to avoid sending money directly to a government against which the bloc imposed sanctions in response to a nearly two-year-long political crisis. The East Africa

ICGLR: Burundi, DR Congo Crises are Beyond Term Limits
The political crises in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to pose security challenges in the region. The executive secretary of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) Zachary Muburi-Muita tells Fred Oluoch how the matter is being tackled. … “While term extensions remain a challenge, our main job is to ensure that these countries observe human rights, civil liberties and justice. But as a whole, the stability of the entire region continues to be affected by the unfair distribution of political power and economic resources, not just extension of term limits.” The East African

Uganda Finally Admits Scores of M23 Rebels Escaped Base
Uganda’s government said Thursday that 40 Congolese rebels quartered at a Ugandan military base since 2014 have disappeared, while more than 100 were caught trying to cross into the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Congolese government said Sunday that at least 200 former members of M23, a mostly ethnic Tutsi rebel group which fled the country after being defeated by its army, had arrived from Uganda and occupied a village in North Kivu province. Uganda’s military earlier this week denied any rebels had absconded from the Bihanga army camp, 320 kilometres (190 miles) west of the capital Kampala. The East African

Uganda: Police, Army Accused of Extra-Judicial Killings
Security forces in the country including the army and police carried out at least 13 extra-judicial killings of people in the Rwenzori region shortly after the February 18, 2016 general elections, says a report from Human Rights Watch. The 2017 report by the New York-based Non-Governmental Organisation, documents cases where members of the army and police allegedly executed unarmed civilians following violence that broke out in the Rwenzori region between February and April, 2016 which left more than 30 people dead. “Human Rights Watch investigations into subsequent law enforcement operations concluded that the police and army killed at least 13 people during alleged arrest attempts. Multiple witnesses said victims were unarmed when killed. There had been no investigations at time of writing,” the report notes. Daily Monitor

China Pumps Money into Congo-Brazzaville Oil Industry Hub Despite Alleged Rights Abuses
Resource-rich Congo-Brazzaville will be one of the first countries to receive part of the multi-billion dollar fund promised by China to support industrialisation projects in a number of African nations, according to reports on Thursday (19 January). China will invest in a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the port city and oil industry hub of Pointe-Noire. According to Congolese officials, Chinese-backed work on the project, which would assist the economic development and diversification of the local economy, is poised to start in the coming weeks. Chinese companies and financial institutions will participate in the construction, operation and management of the SEZ. IBTimes

African Leaders Give Germany’s Marshall Plan a ‘Thumbs Up’
Germany’s Marshall Plan with Africa received a lot of praise but also criticism. Some call the economic plan to ambitious. Germany’s Development Minister Gerd Müller presented his long-awaited new Africa strategy on Tuesday in Berlin. He said his plan was aimed at developing joint solutions with African countries. The so-called “Marshall Plan”—drawing a direct parallel to the huge United States program that kick-started the ravaged German economy after World War Two—talks about a new level of development cooperation. The plan foresees a complete restructuring of the German economic cooperation with Africa. DW



Photo: Adam Jones