Africa Media Review for January 22, 2018

George Weah To Be Sworn In with Liberian Hopes Sky-High
Former international footballer George Weah will be sworn in as Liberia’s new president on Monday, a landmark moment that marks the troubled country’s first peaceful democratic transition since 1944. Weah will become the 25th president of the West African nation, taking power from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 12 years, with expectations running sky-high among Liberians that he will deliver on his promises of jobs and better schools. The inauguration is due to begin at 9.45 am (0945 GMT) in Samuel Kanyon Doe stadium near the capital, Monrovia, with heads of state from Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo expected to attend along with friends and former colleagues from his football years. … After losing his first run at the presidency to Sirleaf in 2005, he has spent the last 13 years attempting to gain the political credibility to match his wild popularity at home, becoming a senator in 2014. The East African

Tunisia Forces Kill the New Leader of Local Branch of Al-Qaeda
Tunisia special forces killed a local leader in al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) during an operation in which a top aide to the group’s leader died, the interior ministry said on Sunday. Security forces killed Bilel Kobi, the top aide to Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, in an ambush near the Algerian border when he was on a mission to reorganize AQIM’s Tunisian branch following Tunisian air strikes, security forces said on Saturday. The Okba Ibn Nafaa, the local branch of AQIM, has mostly been based in the Semmama and Chaambi mountain range along the border with Algeria and the army has been trying to flush them out for several years. Militants have in the past carried out raids on checkpoints and towns nearby. The interior ministry said their forces on Sunday found the body of another militant killed during Saturday’s operation. Reuters

Ethiopia Waldiya: Five Killed by Police at Religious Festival
At least five people have been killed in northern Ethiopia after security forces fired on a crowd at a religious festival who were reportedly shouting anti-government slogans. Many more were injured in the incident in the town of Waldiya. Angry protesters have blocked roads and businesses are closed. There have been nearly three years of opposition demonstrations in Ethiopia. On Wednesday, hundreds of activists were released from jail. The deaths happened during the second day of Epiphany, when Orthodox Christians commemorate the baptism of Jesus. Dozens of people are reportedly receiving hospital treatment after the shooting. Anti-government demonstrators in Ethiopia have been calling for political and economic reforms and an end to state corruption and human rights abuses. BBC

Congolese Security Forces Kill Five While Dispersing Anti-Kabila Protest
Congolese security forces shot dead at least five people and fired tear gas to disperse a banned protest against President Joseph Kabila organised by the Catholic church on Sunday, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country said. Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in December 2016 has triggered a series of street protests in which scores have been killed in Kinshasa. It has also emboldened armed rebel groups in different parts of the country. A Reuters witness saw police and paramilitary troops fire volleys of tear gas and shoot into the air on Sunday outside the Notre Dame cathedral in the capital Kinshasa. Florence Marchal, spokesman for the U.N. mission (MONUSCO), also said 33 people were wounded and that 49 arrests had been made across the country. As well as Kinshasa, protests erupted in the central Congolese diamond-mining town of Mbuji-Mayi. Reuters

DRC Democracy Group Says Detained Activists Could be ‘Tortured’’
A pro-democracy movement has called for the release of five of its activists detained in the Democratic Republic of Congo, saying it fears they could be tortured. The activists from the Filimbi movement, whose name means “whistle” in Swahili, are accused of “insulting the head of state and inciting a revolt”, according to their lawyer, Chris-Sam Kabeya. Four of the activists were arrested in Kinshasa on December 30 while trying to organise a protest march against the 17-year rule of President Joseph Kabila for the next day, New Year’s Eve. All were “detained in total secret since January 1, 2018… at the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) where they would be tortured,” according to a statement from the pro-democracy movement received by AFP on Saturday. News24

Tunisia: Anger That Drove the Arab Spring is Flaring Again
Seven years after the revolution that toppled dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and unleashed the Arab spring, Tunisians were back on the streets demanding change, and the authorities were responding with a heavy hand. The one success story left from 2011, the democracy that had been built up as other countries across the region slid into war or back into dictatorship, now seemed to be faltering. And once more it was the jobless, dispossessed young who were at the heart of the turmoil. There are many reasons to worry about Tunisia’s future, from the huge numbers of unemployed, the struggling economy, rising inflation and sinking currency, to the corruption and the extremist attacks that have damaged its vital tourist industry. But there were also reasons to be hopeful, and one of the most unexpected was the country’s slowly ageing population, said demographer Richard Cincotta of the Stimson Centre, a global affairs thinktank. The Guardian

Seven Niger Troops Killed in Boko Haram Attack
At least seven Niger soldiers were killed and more than a dozen others wounded last week in an attack by suspected Boko Haram militants in the country’s southeast, the government has said. “The provisional toll for the cowardly terror attack on Wednesday night in Toummour is seven dead, seventeen wounded and one soldier missing,” said a cabinet statement. Toummour is located in the Diffa administrative region, which lies on the border with Nigeria and Chad. It has suffered a string of deadly Boko Haram attacks since February 2015, although the area has been relatively calm in recent months. News24

Nigeria: Kidnapped US and Canadian Citizens Freed
Two American and two Canadian citizens kidnapped in Nigeria on Wednesday have been freed, police say. The group, who were ambushed in a forested area north of the capital Abuja, were found during a joint military and police operation. Two of their police escorts were killed during an exchange of fire with the abductors. Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, with foreigners and high-profile Nigerians frequently targeted. The Americans and Canadians were all in good health, AFP quoted a police spokesman as saying. They were abducted while travelling in two vehicles from the town of Kafanchan in Kaduna state to Abuja. BBC

Thousands of Women in Anti-President Protest in Togo
housands of women took to the streets of Togo’s capital Lome on Saturday to protest against the power of President Faure Gnassingbe. Since September, a coalition of 14 political parties has held almost weekly marches, where thousands have called for Gnassingbe to step down to end the more than 50-year rule of one family. Opposition leader Jean-Pierre Fabre said during the march it was a “great initiative”, adding: “Faced with the refusal of the power to move forward, women have decided to enter the game.” The female-focused demonstration follows similar protests in West Africa, notably the Women of Liberia movement which started in Monrovia in 2003 during the country’s civil war. … “We will from now on take our destiny in our own hands because we are the ones who suffer the most in our families from this situation,” shopkeeper Kossiwa Djomadi told AFP. News24

Militants Change Game Plan, Hurt War against Terrorism
Kenya and Tanzania have made some progress in dismantling terrorist networks, but the war is far from over as the Somalia militant group Al Shabaab and its affiliates keep on changing tack. The two countries have been collaborating in the war against terror since 1998, when Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda announced its presence to the world by simultaneously attacking US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. In Kenya, Al Shabaab is now infiltrating rural populations mainly on the coast and northeastern as opposed to staging major attacks in the cities. The group has also resorted to attacking infrastructure such as telephone masts, police stations and planting improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on link roads. In Tanzania, the yet to be named group is driving a wedge between the natural resource-rich areas that still remain poor, against other regions that have prospered despite lacking resources. The East African

Human Rights Watch: Burundi’s “2015 Crisis Continued through 2017”
In its 28th annual world report made this Thursday 18 January, the Human Rights Watch has published a 643-page report reviewing the human rights practices in more than 90 countries including Burundi. The experts of the Human Rights Watch report that the political and human rights crisis that erupted in April 2015 continued through 2017, as government forces targeted real and perceived opponents with near total impunity. “The violence in 2017 claimed scores of lives. Dead bodies of people killed in unknown circumstances were regularly found across the country,” say the experts referring to figures of Burundian and international human rights organizations. They also say several grenade attacks took place in bars and elsewhere across the country in 2017, killing and injuring many people including children. “The identity of the perpetrators was often unknown,”say the experts. Iwacu

South Sudan Government Warns NGOs against Ceasefire Violation Reports
South Sudan’s government has warned Non-Government Organizations operating in the country against compiling reports on ceasefire violations. The South Sudanese parties have been accusing each other of breaking the ceasefire deal signed in December last year. The truce asked warring parties to cease hostilities and keep forces in their bases while calling for release of war prisoner and political detainees. “Nobody has a responsibility to report on violations except CTSAMM. We found that some of the NGOs that are working cross the country have taken as part of their job to report on military issues, including violations and ambushes,” South Sudan’s cabinet affairs minister, Martin Elia Lomuro, said during a press conference in Juba on Friday. “We want to warn you [NGOs] severely that nobody has the rights and the mandate or the authority to report on the violations except CTSAMM, and the agreement is clear on this,” he added. The government official urged the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to empower the international ceasefire monitoring body, known as CTSAMM, pointing to its inability to carry out its mandate effectively. Radio Tamazuj

War-hit Children in South Sudan ‘at Risk of Imminent Death’
More than 250,000 children in war-torn South Sudan are “at risk of imminent death” because of severe malnutrition, a United Nations official has said. Henrietta H Fore, executive director of the UN children’s agency (UNICEF), issued the stark warning on Friday after a two-day visit to some of the areas most affected by the country’s civil war, now in its fifth year. “It’s serious here in South Sudan,” she told Al Jazeera from South Sudan’s capital, Juba. “We are very worried that a quarter of a million children are going to be facing death this year before July.” Al Jazeera

Sudan Bread Protests: Political Leaders Still Held Incommunicado, Journalists Released
Leading members of the Communist Party of Sudan and the National Umma Party are still being held by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). Their whereabouts are unknown. Reportedly more than 400 political activists are currently detained in the country. A number of journalists held in Sudan’s capital were released on Sunday. … On Tuesday, the CPoS organised a mass rally in the Sudanese capital in protest against the economic policies of the government. The recent austerity measures implemented in the first week of January led to the doubling, and in some cases, the tripling of prices of basic consumer goods. Prices of wheat increased with 233 per cent. Dozens of journalists, political parties’ leaders, members of civil society organisations, employees, workers, youth, and students participated in the ‘bread protest’ that was dispersed by police and security forces using excessive force. Radio Dabanga

Is the Horn of Africa Being Pushed to Take Sides by Rivalries in Gulf States?
All is not well in the Horn. Tension is mounting, with the rekindling of old hostilities between Sudan and Egypt, Egypt and Ethiopia, and Ethiopia versus Eritrea over the Nile and other geopolitical issues. All the four countries maintain that they would not go to war over the Ethiopian Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), that has seen Sudan side with Ethiopia, while Egypt is luring Eritrea and other countries in the region to help it stop the construction of the $4.8 billion dam. … According to the ICG, the Gulf states’ rivalries, which at present place Saudi Arabia and the UAE on one side, and Qatar and indirectly Turkey on the other, have begun to spill over into those regions and are complicating regional relations and conflict management. “The Saudi-led war in Yemen has provided particular incentive for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi — which have signed military co-operation agreements with Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland and Sudan — to strengthen their relations on the Red Sea,” it states. The East African

Details: Zuma Will Be Removed before State of Nation Address
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa scored a significant victory at the weekend as President Jacob Zuma’s allies sided with him to oust the president and to deal with culprits behind state capture. In terms of the ANC national executive committee’s (NEC) decision, Zuma has to go before the state of the nation address (Sona) on February 8 and visible action must be taken against corruption. The NEC top six has to deliver the bad news to the president, who has to step down of his own accord, or be pushed out. The NEC decision that the party’s top brass must ask Zuma to resign left no doubt that his fate is sealed. The NEC, as the party’s highest decision-making body in between conferences, was supposed to pronounce publicly about Zuma’s fate, but respected Ramaphosa’s undertaking that the recall should not embarrass or humiliate the president. An ANC source said the NEC agreed that Zuma must go as soon as possible. That he must go is a given and that he must go sooner is also a given. “It makes no sense for Zuma to deliver the state of the nation address and then go. He has to go now before the SONA,” the source said. With Zuma supporters slowly moving to his side, Ramaphosa scored a victory which was even more significant than the one at the national conference, where he was elected as ANC president. The Citizen

Cape Town Could Run Out of Water by April
The South African city of Cape Town could soon dry up after dismal rainfall left city dams almost empty. Residents and visitors are being asked to restrict usage of water even further. Cape Town is experiencing the worst drought to hit South Africa in decades. Located only a stone’s throw away from both the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, the city’s water reserves can only last a few more months. April 21 is the date that city authorities have now named as “Day Zero,” the day when the taps run dry. “We have reached a point of no return,” Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille told residents. Strict water rationing was already implemented in October last year. From February 1, residents will now have to restrict their water usage to 50 liters (13 gallons) per person per day. … The Cape Town authorities are already preparing for the worst. Once “Day Zero” kicks in, there will be 200 water points stationed across the city. Each resident will receive 25 liters of water per day. DW



Photo: Adam Jones