Africa Media Review for January 24, 2017

In Gambia, Relief Turns to Anger at Ex-leader’s Soft Landing
Even before the cheers to celebrate the end of Yahya Jammeh’s brutal 22-year rule of Gambia died down, there was fury that he was being allowed to flee into luxurious exile. Trader Aji Jagne, 32, had chanted “we are free” until her voice was hoarse on Sunday but by the end of the day, less than 24 hours after Jammeh flew out of the country and into exile, her toothy grin had disappeared. “Why should he escape…? If he ever sets foot in Gambia again, we shall take him to the ICC,” she said, referring to the International Criminal Court, from which Jammeh had planned to withdraw before his December 1 electoral defeat. Celebrations erupted in the streets after West African regional forces entered the capital city, Banjul, and took control of the presidential palace, the State House. Reuters

New Gambian Leader Wants Truth Commission on Jammeh Years
New Gambian President Adama Barrow says he will establish a truth and reconciliation commission to examine allegations of misrule during former president Yahya Jammeh’s 22 years in power. “Twenty-two years is a long time,” said Barrow in an interview Sunday with VOA. “People need to know the truth.” An adviser to Barrow told reporters Monday that before leaving the country on Saturday, Jammeh stole $11 million from state coffers and had luxury cars shipped out by plane. Rights groups previously accused him of human rights abuses during his long reign, including the imprisonment of political opponents and journalists. VOA

Gambia’s New President Names Female VP Who Vowed to Prosecute Jammeh
Gambian President Adama Barrow’s newly appointed vice president, Fatoumata Tambajang , is a former United Nations Development Program staffer who was instrumental in uniting Gambia’s opposition parties against Jammeh. Tambajang became a controversial figure after telling “The Guardian” newspaper late last year that Jammeh, who took power in a coup 22 years ago, would be prosecuted for crimes committed by his regime. Shortly after her comments were published Jammeh backtracked on conceding his December 1 election defeat, triggering a political crisis. She also argued for a national commission for asset recovery to recover land and goods Jammeh allegedly seized for his own gain. Tambajang was the first cabinet member to be announced by the newly-inaugurated Barrow, who is still in neighboring Senegal amid fears for his safety. Deutsche Welle

Equatorial Guinea Stays Silent on Jammeh’s Presence
Officials in Equatorial Guinea refused to comment on Sunday on whether ousted former Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh had arrived in the country. But in a statement, Equatorial Guinea’s opposition denounced the presence of Jammeh, whose 22-year reign was marked by systematic human rights abuses, on their soil. Jammeh slinked off in the dead of night from The Gambia’s capital Banjul in the early hours of Sunday on an unmarked plane alongside Guinea-Conakry’s president Alpha Conde. The strongman’s departure ended six weeks of political turmoil sparked by Jammeh’s refusal to accept his election defeat to new Gambian President Adama Barrow. News 24

Nigeria: Babies Used in Suicide Bombings, Officials Warn
An attack in the town of Madagali on 13 January saw two women detonate their devices, killing themselves, two babies, and four others. They had passed a vigilante checkpoint, mistaken for civilians because they were carrying infants. Female attackers have been seen before, but officials said the use of babies could signal a “dangerous” trend. The insurgent group Boko Haram is widely suspected of having carried out the attack. Four women attacked Madagali located in Adamawa State, which was recaptured from Boko Haram in 2015. Two were stopped at a security checkpoint, and detonated their devices, officials said. The two women carrying infants, however, were not stopped, and exploded their own devices past the security point. BBC

236 Dead at Nigeria Refugee Camp Mistakenly Bombed by Air Force, Officials Say
The death toll from the bombing of a refugee camp by Nigeria’s air force has climbed to 236, a local official said Monday — a sharp increase from earlier counts. A total of 234 victims were buried in Rann, where the camp is located, while two others died after being evacuated to the city of Maiduguri for medical care, said Babagana Malarima, chairman of the Kala Balge local government council of northeast Borno state On Jan. 17, Nigeria’s air force bombed the camp housing Boko Haram refugees near the Cameroonian border multiple times. In a rare admission, air force officials said it was an accident and formed a panel of senior officers to investigate. AP

Malnutrition Wiping Out Children in Northern Nigeria, Aid Workers Say
Starvation in northern Nigeria’s Borno State is so bad that a whole slice of the population — children under 5 — appears to have died, aid agencies say. As the Nigerian army has driven the terrorist group Boko Haram out of the area, about two million people have been displaced. Many are living in more than 100 refugee camps. Doctors Without Borders, which has been in Borno State since 2014, reported in November that it was seeing hardly any children under age 5 at its clinics, hospitals and feeding centers. “There are almost always small children buzzing around the camps,” Dr. Joanne Liu, the agency’s president, and Dr. Natalie Roberts, an emergency operations manager, wrote then. “We saw only older brothers and sisters. No toddlers straddling their big sisters’ hips, no babies strapped to their mothers’ backs.”  The New York Times

Diplomatic Row Breaks out Between South Sudan and Ethiopia
A diplomatic row has broken out between South Sudan and neighbouring Ethiopia following rumours on social media that President Salva Kiir accepted to allow Ethiopian rebels to open their office in the capital Juba. “Rumours have been circulating on social media that when President Kiir visited Egypt, he discussed important issues with the Egyptian officials so that Ethiopian rebels can open an office in Juba, “a senior government official who preferred anonymity told Radio Tamazuj today. “The rumours circulated that the President has accepted to allow the Ethiopian rebels to open their office in Juba and Egypt will support the Ethiopian rebels with guns, because Egypt is having differences with Ethiopia over the issue of Renaissance Dam, so this is what happened on social media,” he added. Radio Tamazuj

US Bombing in Libya Was Linked to Berlin Truck Attack
Intelligence indicating the possible presence of terrorists linked to the Berlin truck attack contributed to the decision to strike Libyan camps 28 miles southwest of Sirte last week, a US official and a source close to Libyan intelligence told CNN. On December 19, 2016, the Tunisian extremist Anis Amri drove a truck into a Christmas market in the German capital, killing 12. Police shot him dead four days later near Milan, Italy. Soon after, ISIS released a selfie-video he prerecorded from a Berlin bridge claiming he was acting on its behalf. Investigative files obtained by CNN showed he was part of an ISIS recruitment network inside Germany. Overnight on January 18-19, two B-2 bombers making a 30-hour round trip from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, dropped 100 precision munitions on the camps, killing more than 80 ISIS fighters, according to initial Pentagon estimates. CNN

Congo: Senior Human Rights Official Deported
Human Rights Watch cried foul at the deportation of its top official in Democratic Republic of Congo Monday, while the government charged that she had made “false declarations” on her passport. ”Immigration authorities in the eastern city of Goma annulled her visa and escorted her to the border, in the eastern city of Goma,” said the group in a statement about Ida Sawyer, its central Africa director. Sawyer entered Congo on Jan. 13 on a three-month multiple entry visa that she got at the Congolese Embassy on Jan. 5 in Brussels, Belgium, where she has been based since last August, when Congolese officials revoked her work permit and told her to leave the country. “Providing Ida Sawyer a visa one day and revoking it 15 days later calls into question the Congolese government’s commitment to reversing the climate of repression in the country,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. Anadolu Agency

Lobbying, Horse-trading for African Union Commission Chair Continue
The winner of the post of the African Union Commission chairperson will be decided on the floor of the AU assembly on January 30 after lobbying across the continent over the past six months failed to produce a frontrunner. Diplomatic sources in Addis Ababa told The EastAfrican that the outcome will depend on how the presidents of the five countries that have presented candidates — Kenya, Chad, Senegal, Botswana and Equatorial Guinea — engage their counterparts at the summit to be held in Addis next week. The winning candidate must garner two-thirds, or 37 of the 54 members. Lobbying and horse-trading among the five states has been complicated by the new development that Guinean President Alpha Condé is the likely to be next chair of the African Union, taking over from Chad’s Idriss Deby. The East African

Quandary in South Sudan: Should It Lose Its Hard-Won Independence?
Tens of thousands of civilians dead, countless children on the verge of starvation, millions of dollars stolen by officials, oil wells blown up, food aid hijacked and as many as 70 percent of women sheltering in camps raped — mostly by the nation’s soldiers and police officers.Just a few years ago, South Sudan accomplished what seemed impossible: independence. Of all the quixotic rebel armies fighting for freedom in Africa, the South Sudanese actually won. Global powers, including the United States, rallied to their side, helping to create the world’s newest country in 2011, a supposed solution to decades of conflict and suffering. Now, with millions of its people hungry ordisplaced by civil war, a radical question has emerged: Should South Sudan lose its independence? The New York Times

Congo’s Catholic Church Warns Kabila Deal Risks Falling Apart
A deal struck last month requiring Congo President Joseph Kabila to step down after elections this year risks unraveling if politicians do not quickly reach compromises on implementing the accord, Catholic bishops mediating the talks said on Monday. The Dec. 31 deal was greeted as a critical step toward averting a slide into anarchy and possibly civil war in Democratic Republic of Congo over Kabila’s decision to remain in power when his mandate expired last month. The accord, signed by representatives of Kabila’s ruling coalition and the main opposition bloc, bars Kabila from trying to change the constitution to stand for a third term in an election to be held by the end of this year. But talks this month on implementing components of the deal have stalled, Congo’s Catholic Bishops Conference (CENCO) said in a statement. Reuters

Trump Calls Egypt’s El-Sissi, Offers Support
Egypt’s presidency says that U.S. President Donald Trump spoke with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who expressed hope for a “new push” in bilateral relations under Trump’s administration. The statement said that the newly-inaugurated Trump called el-Sissi on Monday and “expressed his appreciation for the difficulties Egypt bears in its war against terrorism.” Trump and el-Sissi have already shown a certain bond. Trump said there was “good chemistry” when they met on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September. The Washington Post

Agoa Treaty Facing Possible Repeal in Trump Administration
Sub-Saharan Africa is concerned about the future of a trade pact with the United States after President Donald Trump said it only benefits the corrupt. President Trump’s new policies may bring an end to the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa). “Most of Agoa imports are petroleum products with the benefits going to national oil companies. Why do we support that massive benefit to corrupt regimes?” he said. There are now fears that his administration could repeal the Act. “Agoa was extended for 10 years, and my conviction is that trade policy between the US and sub-Saharan Africa will remain despite the statement. But we need to observe how things develop,” said Richard Kamajugo, TradeMark East Africa senior director of trade and environment. Enacted in 2000 by the Bill Clinton administration, Agoa allows 39 eligible sub-Saharan Africa countries to export certain goods to the US market duty-free. It was renewed in September 2015 by then president Barack Obama, and is slated to expire in 2025. The East African

African Union to Consider Morocco Reentry and Find New Commission Chair
This year’s 28th African Union is gearing up to be one of the most important yet with the AU commission needing to find a new chair and talk of Morocco being readmitted. This week the AU’s Session of the Permanent Representatives committee and the Executive council will meet and set the agenda for the main summit next Monday and Tuesday. But the major topics already floating around this week in anticipation of the summit are a replacement for commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Morocco’s possible reentry into the AU. A new chairperson was to have been elected at the previous summit in Kigali in July last year but the heads of state were unable to come to an agreement. RFI

WFP Makes Drastic Cuts to Food Aid Across Africa
In the Central African Republic, two million people, nearly half the country’s entire population, face hunger as a result of reduced funding for the U.N. World Food Program. A cutback in donations to the WFP means the U.N. agency can only offer assistance to about 600,000 people, those most in need of help. With crises around the globe competing for donor dollars, WFP is reducing the quantity and frequency of food it supplies, and delivering that assistance to smaller numbers of people throughout Africa, in countries including Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda. In Bambari, a flashpoint in the Central African Republic, about 115,000 people receive monthly rations from the WFP – mostly those seeking safety from fighting between armed groups. VOA

Sudanese Gov’t, Darfur Group Sign Peace Agreement in Doha
January 23, 2017 (DOHA) – Sudan’s government and rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (Second Revolution) SLM-SR chaired by Abul Gasim Imam Monday have signed a peace agreement in the Qatari capital, Doha on the bases of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD). Qatar brokered the Darfur peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the DDPD by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July 2011. However, the major rebel groups didn’t join the deal. The signing ceremony was attended by the Sudanese presidential assistant Musa Mohamed Ahmed, Qatari Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud and the Joint Special Representative and head of hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) Jeremiah Nyamane Kingsley Mamabolo. Sudan Tribune

Burundi Frees Prisoners, but Rights Groups Cautious
Burundi began Monday releasing a quarter of its jail population under a mass presidential pardon, but prisoners’ rights groups voiced concern they were just making room for more political inmates. A first group of 300 were released from the Mpimba central prison in Bujumbura, but authorities aim to free some 2 500 of the total, which stood at 10 051 last month. The releases, which included 58 activists arrested in a police crackdown on demonstrators in April 2014, were aimed at “relieving prisons to allow those remaining to live in acceptable conditions,” said Justice Minister Aimee Laurentine Kanyana. “Every time political prisoners are released it’s a good thing,” Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa of the Aprodeh prisoners’ defence group told AFP. News 24

Turkish President Targets Cleric’s Schools on Africa Visit
Turkey has courted Africa for more than a decade, boosting trade, opening more than two dozen new embassies and Turkish Airlines routes and dispatching aid to conflict-torn Somalia. More recently, the Turkish government lobbied African nations to close or take over local schools linked to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, accused by Turkey of masterminding a failed coup attempt last year. So while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan travels with a big business delegation to Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar this week, he is also focusing on what he calls a security threat. Turkey accuses international schools inspired by Gulen of providing militant recruits for his movement, which in turn says an increasingly authoritarian government is casting as wide a net as possible for perceived opponents. “It is only expected that they are trying to fight the battle in Africa with the Gulenists,” said Ahmet Kasim Han, an associate professor of international relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul. AP

Equatorial Guinea Has Applied to Join OPEC: OPEC Source
Equatorial Guinea has now applied to join the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, an OPEC source familiar with the matter said on Monday, which would bring the oil producer group’s membership to 14 countries. The African nation, which said earlier that it was seeking to join OPEC, is one of the non-member producers that has agreed to cut output in the first half of 2017 alongside OPEC in an effort to boost oil prices. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones