Africa Media Review for January 22, 2019

Chinese Hard Power Supports Its Growing Strategic Interests in Africa
The debate on China-Africa relations has largely focused on Beijing’s massive infrastructure projects around the continent. Less noticeable but no less significant are its security activities, which have grown in scale and scope alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), President Xi Jinping’s signature program to strengthen infrastructure, trade, and investment links in Africa, South Asia, and Europe. China’s growing military footprint in Africa is part of a policy that has at its core the rejuvenation of China as a “Great Power” or shijie qiang guo. In the past decade, it has pursued an increasingly competitive and assertive foreign policy that made a decisive break with Beijing’s decades-long approach of “hiding our capabilities,” “biding our time,” and “keeping a low profile”—a policy known as taoguang yanghui. According to Xi, “China now stands tall and firm in the East” and should “take center stage” in the world. This theme is echoed in the Diversified Employment of the Armed Forces, China’s defense guidance, which says that a world-class military deployable in a wide range of scenarios is indispensable in pursuing the “Great Rejuvenation of China.” Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Congo Court Upholds Felix Tshisekedi’s Election Win despite Leaked Data That Suggests Results Were Rigged
A constitutional court in Congo issued a middle-of-the-night decision early Sunday affirming opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi’s victory in a contentious presidential election that featured widespread irregularities, disenfranchisement and evidence of manipulation. In an indication of how little the decision does to resolve Congo’s political crisis, another opposition candidate, Martin Fayulu, immediately declared himself president and said the court’s decision was “nothing more than a constitutional coup” while calling for “peaceful protests.” The court rejected two petitions from Fayulu and another candidate claiming that the election commission had released fraudulent results and that it had illegally disqualified more than a million voters from casting ballots in regions stricken by the Ebola virus and ethnic conflict. According to the official results, Fayulu lost to Tshisekedi by fewer votes than those who were disenfranchised by that move, which affected areas likely to support Fayulu. The Washington Post

DR Congo Election: African Leaders Congratulate Tshisekedi
Two African presidents have congratulated Democratic Republic of Congo opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi for winning last month’s presidential poll, despite the African Union saying it had “serious doubts” about the result. The constitutional court ruled that Mr Tshisekedi had won after rejecting a challenge from rival Martin Fayulu. He said Mr Tshisekedi made a deal with outgoing President Joseph Kabila. Mr Tshisekedi’s team denies this. Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa both sent their congratulations. Mr Ramaphosa called on all parties “to respect the decision of the constitutional court and commit to continue with a journey of consolidating peace”. BBC

DR Congo: SADC Backs Tshisekedi Win as AU, EU Voice Doubts
The southern African bloc SADC has hailed Felix Tshisekedi as the new president of Democratic Republic of Congo despite claims by his opponents of electoral fraud and queries from the African Union and European Union over the validity of the result. The Constitutional Court rejected a legal challenge from beaten opponent Martin Fayulu when it announced the final results early Sunday. It declared 55-year-old Tshisekedi the winner to succeed Joseph Kabila as president. The African Union cancelled a delegation to Kinshasa, planned for Monday, after the final results were announced. The European Union had also called for the results to be delayed. It joined with the AU in inviting all players to work constructively with the AU delegation to find a solution which respects the people’s vote.  RFI

10 UN Peacekeepers Killed in Attack on Mali’s Aguelhoc Camp
At least 10 peacekeepers from Chad have been killed and 25 others wounded in an attack on a United Nations camp in northern Mali, according to the world body. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack, saying it was “in reaction” to the visit to Chad by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the Mauritanian Al-Akhbar news agency, which regularly receives statements from this armed group. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned what he described as a “complex attack” on the UN camp in Aguelhoc, some 200km north of Mali’s Kidal region towards the border with Algeria, and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.  Al Jazeera

Security Forces in Zimbabwe Kill 12 People in Broadest Crackdown on Unrest in Years
It was midnight when soldiers threatened to burn Jennifer Mutobaya and her three teenage sons alive inside their home in the Zimbabwean town of Kadoma. Protesters had filled the streets earlier, chanting slogans and burning tires, joining a display of fury at a hike in fuel prices that is part of a broader economic collapse in this southern African country. The scene at her home was one repeated hundreds of times across Zimbabwe over the past week as security forces launched their biggest crackdown on dissent in years. “They took away my two sons and ordered them to clear the road that was barricaded with burning tires using their bare hands,” said Mutobaya, who is a street vendor. “I tried to intervene, and they beat me with an electric cable.” Elvis, a carpenter in the Highfields neighborhood of the capital, Harare, is covered in scars after a similar raid. […] The door-to-door operation has led to 12 deaths, 78 gunshot wounds, hundreds of instances of assault or torture, and enough arrests to fill prisons beyond capacity, according to the Zimbab­we Human Rights NGO Forum, an umbrella organization that compiles reports from observers across the country. The Washington Post

Zimbabwe High Court Orders Government to Restore Internet Access
Zimbabwe’s High Court ruled on Monday that the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa had no right to shut down internet connection to parts of the country. It has ordered the immediate and full restoration of internet access, shut down in part during unrest against Mnangagwa’s administration. Some parts of the internet had been restored over the weekend after a shutdown last week, but social media and messaging apps like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter remained blocked. The capital Harare was slowly returning to normal on Monday after weeks of protests over a massive increase in the price of fuel, making gasoline more expensive in Zimbabwe than anywhere else on earth. Government officials have said that 12 people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and police, but NGOs have put the death toll higher. Deutsche Welle

Insurgents Plan ‘Massive Attacks’ in Nigeria, Minister Says
Nigeria’s government has evidence that Boko Haram Islamist militants as well as armed bandits are planning to carry out attacks across the nation ahead of elections next month, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said. “We have credible intelligence that armed bandits and Boko Haram insurgents have been mobilized to engage in massive attacks and other acts of violence in several states across the country,” Mohammed said in an emailed statement Monday. He said at least 10 of Nigeria’s 36 states were targeted. Mercenaries from neighboring Niger have been recruited to target top government officials between now and the elections, Mohammed said. He accused the opposition of orchestrating violence ahead of the vote, without naming any party. President Muhammadu Buhari, 76, is seeking a second four-year term in polls scheduled for Feb. 16 as the country is struggling to contain a decade-long militant campaign by Boko Haram in the northeast. Jihadists loyal to Boko Haram and the Islamic State have stepped up attacks in recent months as they seek to impose their version of Shariah law on Africa’s most populous nation.  Bloomberg

Thousands Flee as Militants Kill More than 100 Soldiers in Northeast Nigeria: Aid Agencies
Armed groups have killed more than 100 soldiers and seized a huge stock of weapons in clashes in northeast Nigeria since Dec. 26, a report by a group of aid agencies said on Friday, weeks ahead of an election in which security is a campaign issue. An army spokesman denied the number of soldiers killed was that high. Attacks by militants have intensified over the past few weeks and forced thousands of people to flee to safer areas in Nigeria and over the border to neighboring Chad, the report said. They have mostly been carried out by an Islamic State-allied faction of the Boko Haram group. Reuters

US Airstrike in Somalia Kills 52 Al-Shabaab Fighters, Military Says
The US military said it carried out an airstrike in Somalia that killed 52 al-Shabaab extremists, in response to an attack on Somali forces. Al-Shabaab controls large parts of rural southern and central Somalia and continues to carry out high-profile attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, and elsewhere. The group claimed responsibility for the deadly attack on a luxury hotel complex in Nairobi, Kenya, on Tuesday. A US Africa Command statement said the airstrike occurred on Saturday near Jilib in Middle Juba region. The US said Somali forces had come under attack by a “large group” of the al-Qaida-linked extremists. The statement did not say how many Somali forces were killed or wounded. There were no reports of Americans killed or wounded.  The Guardian

Kenyan Police Repel Suspected Terror Attack in Garissa
Kenyan police have thwarted an attack by suspected Somali militants al Shabaab on a Chinese-owned construction company in the northeastern region, an official said on Monday, days after the Islamist group killed 21 people in Nairobi. The assailants wounded four people while they attempted to hit the site in Garissa County, not far from the Kenyan-Somali border, owned by a Chinese road construction company that is building the Garissa-Modogashe highway. According to locals who spoke to the press on condition of anonymity, the hooded militants all armed with AK-47 rifles kidnapped a man from a nearby village and ordered him to take them to the Chinese construction site in Shimbirey, about 50km from Garissa town. One of the villagers is said to have tipped off the police officers guarding the site. The militants are said to have started shooting indiscriminately prompting the workers who are housed outside the fenced camp to flee.  The East African

Group Behind Nairobi Attack Has Eluded Military
[…] For more than a decade, al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgency with close ties to al Qaeda, has eluded a U.S.-backed military campaign that draws troops from five different East African countries, including Kenya. This week’s 18-hour rampage at Nairobi’s 14 Riverside complex, claiming the lives of 20 civilians and a policeman, was the latest attack by al-Shabaab, which last year killed more people in Africa than any other terrorist group, according to the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies. In the 12 months through September, al-Shabaab killed some 4,000 people, the vast majority of them in Somalia, according to the Africa Center’s tally—more than Nigeria’s better-known Boko Haram and the North Africa-focused militants of Islamic State. “Al-Shabaab has proven adaptable, slipping away as dragnets close in,” said Rashid Abdi, Horn of Africa director at the International Crisis Group. “Nations in the region need to adopt better measures.”  The Wall Street Journal

South Sudan Peace Has Little Chance of Succeeding, Expert Warns
A former United Nations expert says the ongoing peace process in South Sudan has a little chance of success, saying there are already signs the agreement could collapse like the August 2015 pact which collapsed in July 2016. In a recent article published by the African Center for Strategic Studies, Dr. Klem Ryan, who was with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) from 2013 and 2015 and a former member of the UN Security Council Panel of Expert from 2015 through 2018, argues that militia groups linked to the government and the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) have carried out attacks on other armed factions, specifically the National Salvation Front (NAS) opposed to the deal. He adds that government forces are also attacking civilians it sees as pro-rebels. Ryan believes that these joint operations appear to have the backing of Uganda. Dr. Ryan also states that the five-year-old civil war is “fighting is linked to the control of land resources.” South Sudan News Agency

SA Police Ordered to Explain 5-Year Delay in Rwandan Dissident’s Murder Probe
A Randburg magistrate has effectively instructed the South African government to extradite four Rwandans suspected of murdering Rwandan dissident Colonel Patrick Karegeya in a Sandton hotel in 2014. Magistrate Mashiane Mathopa on Monday ordered the police to explain what steps they had taken to arrest the suspects, whose names and passport numbers they already know. Mathopa’s order is bound to further strain already tense relations between South Africa and Rwanda as the magistrate also made clear that South Africa suspects the Rwandan government dispatched the four men to South Africa to kill Karegeya. He was found dead in a room in the plush Michelangelo Hotel on New Year’s Day 2014. Police believe he was strangled to death by the four men the day before and that they fled back to Rwanda on the morning of January 1. Daily Maverick

More than 100 Migrants Feared Dead after Raft Sinks in Rough, Icy Mediterranean Sea
The new year has barely begun but it’s already been deadly for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. On Friday, a raft reportedly carrying 120 migrants, many from West Africa, sank in the rough, wintry sea. The Italian Navy spotted bodies floating near three survivors, two Sudanese and a Gambian, who are being treated for severe hypothermia and trauma at a hospital on the Italian island of Lampedusa. On Saturday, the three men told staff from the International Organization for Migration’s Italy office that the group set off from Libya, which is now the main departure point for migrants trying to cross to Europe by sea. The survivors said their raft left the Libyan coastal city of Gasr Garabulli, Libya, on Thursday night and began to deflate after an estimated 10 hours at sea. The migrants hailed from countries including Sudan, Cameroon, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.  NPR

France Summons Italian Envoy over Di Maio’s Migrant Remarks
France’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Italian ambassador Monday over sharp anti-French comments from an Italian official about Europe’s migrant crisis. With Italy’s government on the defensive over recent deaths at sea of migrants, Italian Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio sought to shift the blame onto France. Speaking Sunday, Di Maio said France is leading colonial-style policies in Africa that are “impoverishing” Africans and driving them to Europe’s shores. A French diplomatic official said Italian Ambassador Teresa Castaldo was questioned Monday about the “unfriendly and baseless” comments. The official said they run counter to “Franco-Italian partnership” and the sense of “European community.” The diplomat wasn’t authorized to be publicly named. De Maio’s populist 5-Star Movement is courting France’s yellow vest anti-government movement and has repeatedly criticized French President Emmanuel Macron. The two governments have notably clashed over migration. AP

EU Support for Libya Contributes to ‘Extreme Abuse’ of Refugees, Says Study
The EU’s support for Libya’s anti-migrant policies is contributing to a cycle of “extreme abuse”, including arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, extortion and forced labour. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, who interviewed 66 migrants and asylum seekers in Libya last year, EU institutions and member states are continuing to sustain a network of detention centres characterised by “inhuman and degrading” conditions where the risk of abuse is rife. Detailing a pattern of treatment in Libyan detention centres which it said “violates international law”, the group accused senior EU officials of being aware of the abuses but repeatedly failing to act. The report highlights EU assistance to the Libyan coastguard to enable it to intercept migrants and asylum seekers at sea, at which point they are taken to Libya. Italy, in particular, is accused of “abdicating virtually all responsibility for coordination of rescue operations at sea in a bid to limit the number of people arriving on its shores”.  The Guardian

Eastern Libyan Force Says It Killed Senior Al Qaeda Operative
Eastern Libyan forces said on Friday they had killed a senior al Qaeda figure in southern Libya, during an operation to secure oil and gas assets and fight militants in the lawless south. The Libyan National Army (LNA) faction said it killed Abu Talha al-Libi, a commander in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and two other militants near the city of Sabha, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said. He named the others as Abdullah al-Desouki, an Egyptian, and al-Mahdi Dangou, a Libyan also known as Abu Barakat, who a Libyan official had previously said had links with Islamic State. Al Qaeda and Islamic State have been using southern Libya as a base for attacks in Libya and neighboring countries, exploiting a security vacuum created by the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in a 2011 rebellion backed by NATO air strikes. Reuters

Rival Militias Negotiate Truce in Libya’s Tripoli
Libyan security officials say a temporary cease-fire has taken hold in the capital of Tripoli, after deadly fighting between rival militias that dominate the city flared up last week. They say negotiations overseen by tribal elders from the nearby town of Bani Walid were ongoing Sunday, with hopes the militias from Tripoli, Zintan and Tarhouna? can agree to stop the fighting. They spoke anonymously as they weren’t authorized to brief reporters. The Health Ministry raised the fighting’s death toll since Wednesday to 16, with 65 wounded and three missing. Some 213 families were evacuated from Tripoli, they added. Separately, the United Nations voiced its “deep concern” about reports of fresh violence and mobilization of armed groups in the country’s south, which it said signaled the “growing risks of imminent conflict.”  AP

Sudan Police Clash with Demonstrators in Fresh Protests
Sudanese police clashed with demonstrators in and around the capital Khartoum on Sunday, after they deployed in large numbers in anticipation of fresh protests calling on longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir to step down, activists said. Video clips circulating online showed hundreds of security forces in all-terrain vehicles in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman, a traditional hotbed of dissent that saw hours of pitched battles between police and protesters last week. Live video feeds on social media showed hundreds marching in the area, calling for the fall of al-Bashir. Activists said that security forces fired tear gas at them, to which some demonstrators responded by throwing stones. Others barricaded the streets to block the police from entering their neighborhoods, they added.  VOA

Nigeria Leader Says President Buhari ‘Can’t Hold Fair Election’
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has accused incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of planning to rig the upcoming national elections in February. In a statement issued on Sunday in Abeokuta city, Obasanjo urged Nigerians to resist any plot by the government to manipulate the vote. “I personally have serious doubts about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election,” he said. Nigeria’s era of big spending for election is disappearing (2:27) Buhari is seeking re-election on February 16. His main challenger is Obasanjo’s former deputy, Atiku Abubakar of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party.  Al Jazeera

Burkina Faso: Prime Minister and Cabinet Resign from Office
The Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, Paul Kaba Thieba, has resigned from office along with his entire cabinet. No reason was given for the move, which was announced in a televised statement by the country’s president. Mr Thieba, a former economist, had held the position since January 2016 when he was nominated by President Roch Marc Christian Kabore. His government has faced growing pressure over a rise in the number of kidnappings and jihadist attacks. Recent high-profile disappearances of foreign nationals have led to direct calls for Mr Thieba’s resignation, as well as that of his defence and security ministers. In his statement, President Kabore expressed his gratitude for their service. He said he hoped to form a new government soon.  BBC



Photo: Adam Jones