Africa Media Review for January 26, 2017

Gambia’s New President Adama Barrow to Return Home
Gambia’s new President, Adama Barrow, says he will return to the country on Thursday to assume power – days after his predecessor left. Mr Barrow, who has been staying in neighbouring Senegal, won elections in December. However a handover was stalled when Gambia’s president of 22 years, Yahya Jammeh, refused to step aside. He left for exile at the weekend after mediation by regional leaders and the threat of military intervention. Mr Barrow was sworn in as president at the Gambian embassy in Senegal a week ago, but a public inauguration on home soil is planned soon, aides say. BBC

Equatorial Guinea Confirms Hosting Ousted Gambian Leader
Equatorial Guinea confirmed on Tuesday it was hosting ousted Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, who fled his country after West African troops threatened to remove him by force if he did not concede his election defeat. Information Minister Eugenio Nse Obiang confirmed that Jammeh was in the country in a statement sent out to journalists. He gave no further details. Jammeh plunged Gambia into turmoil in December when he refused to accept losing to Adama Barrow, demanding a new poll. But the former soldier finally relinquished power on Saturday under strong diplomatic pressure backed up by several thousand West African troops who crossed into Gambia and were poised to enforce the election result. Many Gambians are angry that Jammeh fled into what they assume to be a luxurious exile rather than face trial for alleged human rights abuses. SABC

Islamists Lose Benghazi District to Haftar’s Forces
Jihadist fighters in Libya have lost one of their last remaining strongholds in the country’s second city. Forces loyal to the military leader, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, said they had driven local Islamist militias out of the Ganfouda district of Benghazi. The area had been under siege for months and saw some of the worst fighting over control of the city. Some fighters were affiliated to the Islamic State group or Al Qaeda. The besieged district, nine miles west of the city centre, has been largely cut-off from the rest of Benghazi in blockades setup by Field Marshal Haftar’s forces. BBC

Libya Issues Arrest Warrants for Former Ministers
Libyan Attorney General said in a press conference here on Wednesday that arrest warrants have been issued for former ministers accused of embezzlement and corruption. He said some of the accused former ministers are abroad, adding that the Attorney General’s office in France is following up cases of oil smuggling, and the office, with the Interpol, had issued red notice for arresting one in UAE, who has been interrogated and released afterwards by the UAE authorities. Libya has been suffering a security and economic crisis following the uprising of 2011 that toppled former leader Muammar Gaddafi. The country is struggling economically with the oil exports, the country’s main source of income, which suffers drastically due to closing of oil ports by rival militias. Libya is also suffering politically, with three rival governments battling for power. Xinhua

Pan-African Security Meet Kicks Off in Algeria
A major conference devoted to discussing the impact of Libya’s political crisis on regional security kicked off on Wednesday in Algeria. According to Algerian state media, the two-day event — organized by the African Center for Research and Study on Terrorism (ACSRT) — is being attended by a host of regional experts and security officials. Participants discussed a host of issues, including the ongoing return of “terrorists” to the North African region from ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq. According to an earlier statement released by the ACSRT (which is affiliated with the African Union), the meeting will tackle means of providing support to AU member states with a view to “enhancing their ability to manage cross-border security” — especially near politically volatile states such as Libya. Anadolu Agency

Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to Set Up Anti-terrorism Force
Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali decided on Tuesday to set up an anti-terrorism force to fight against insecurity in the Liptako-Gourma area that sits across their borders. The area is believed to be a growing sanctuary for terrorists and the presidents of three states agreed in Niamey to create the Liptako-Gourma Multinational Security Force. “We have decided to pool our intelligence resources, our (military) operational capacities to deal with the security situation in this area,” Niger’s Mahamadou Issoufou, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso and Modibo Keïta of Mali agreed in during a tripartite conference. Africa News

3 Dead as 2 Suicide Bombers Attack Maiduguri
At least three persons were confirmed dead in two separate suicide bomb attacks that occurred in Maiduguri on Wednesday morning, security sources said. But for the vigilance and sacrifice of security operatives, more casualties, mostly civilians would have been recorded, witnesses said. According to a chieftain of the local vigilante, Civilian-JTF, Danbatta Bello, at about midnight, a male suicide bomber was shot dead from an observatory by a military sniper after he was spotted advancing towards a security check post manned by soldiers in Usmanti layout of Maiduguri. At about 5.30 a.m. another deafening blast echoed in Maiduguri as another suicide bomber, a teenage girl, blew herself up after members of the Civilian-JTF, stopped her from advancing towards a mosque where Muslim worshippers were praying. Premium Times

Somalia: Al-Shabab Attack at Mogadishu Hotel ‘Kills 28’
At least 28 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a coordinated gun-and-bomb attack carried out by al-Shabab at a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, according to officials. The assault on Wednesday morning began when attackers rammed an explosives-packed car into the gate of Dayah Hotel, which is near Somalia’s parliament in central Mogadishu, and then stormed inside exchanging gunfire with security guards. A second massive car bomb blast went off after ambulances and journalists had arrived at the scene, leaving at least four reporters wounded, according to AFP news agency. “We have confirmed 28 people died and 43 others were injured in the two blasts at the hotel,” Abdikadir Abdirahman, director of the capital’s ambulance services, told Reuters news agency. Al Jazeera

US Deports 90 Back Home to Somalia
Ninety Somali immigrants who either ran afoul of U.S. law or had their asylum applications rejected have been deported to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, witnesses and officials said Wednesday. Somalia’s ambassador to the United States, Ahmed Isse Awad, told VOA Somali that these immigrants had sent letters to the Somali Embassy in Washington, requesting the deportation. All had been in detention centers or prisons. “Most of them are people whose asylum cases [were] denied through [the] legal immigration process, and others broke the U.S. law and had received final orders for removal from courts in the United States,” he said. The flight carrying the 86 men and four women landed at Mogadishu’s Aden Adde Airport after stopping in Nairobi to drop off two Kenyan deportees. It was not clear from where the flight originated or who had chartered the plane. VOA

Liberia: George Weah to Lead Opposition Coalition into October 2017 Elections
Senator George Weah, African football great and one time world football player of the year will head a coalition in his second attempt to became the president of Liberia. The West African country goes to the polls in October this year. The winner of the polls will succeed incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who steps down after serving two constitutionally mandated terms. Mr Weah’s first shot at the presidency was in 2005 losing to Sirleaf in the second round of voting. In 2011 he run as a vice-presidential candidate on the ticket of Winston Tubman but that was also unsuccessful. Africa News

Instability Increasing in North Africa, Sahel as Global Militancy Rises
Nearly 12 000 destabilising events were recorded in North Africa and the Sahel in 2016, an increase in 16% compared to the previous year, while the number of attacks around the world from terrorism and insurgency rose dramatically compared to 2015, with 24 000 attacks in 2016. According to new information from MEA Risk LLC, the North Africa and Sahel zone witnessed a 16.0% increase in the number of destabilizing critical incidents in 2016 to a total of 11 916. “Despite such increase, MEA Risk’s Instability Index, measuring the crisis intensity for the region, dropped 15.2% as a result of lesser terrorism-related incidents and a shift to less deadly forms of critical incidents,” the company said. DefenceWeb

Ban on U.S. Entry Met With Alarm in Mideast, Africa
The U.S. plan to ban entry by people from countries deemed a terror risk was met with distress by some students, family members and others in the Mideast and Africa who had planned to travel or seek refuge in America. President Donald Trump is expected on Thursday to issue executive orders to institute the entry ban and to suspend the U.S. refugee program, according to people familiar with the plans. The bans were expected to bar people from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia. […] Somali officials decried the decision on social media. “What a terrible move!” Abdi Aynte, the country’s international cooperation minister. For the Sudanese, the decision came on the heels of a loosening of longstanding U.S. sanctions by Mr. Obama shortly before he left office. The Wall Street Journal

Levels of Corruption in Africa Remain High, Says Watchdog
Transparency International said the rise of populist politicians around the world risks undermining the fight against corruption. The NGO published its yearly index on perceived corruption this Wednesday, which ranks 176 countries. The number one spot – the country that is least corrupt- is shared by New Zealand and Denmark, while the spot for the most corrupt is occupied by Somalia. Looking at the Transparency international ranking – which scores countries on a scale of 0 to 100, where 100 represents the lowest levels of corruption – not much has changed in Africa compared to 2015. RFI

UN: DRC Rights Abuses Spike
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the United Nations says it recorded a significant increase in the number of human rights violations committed over the past year, and that state security forces were the main perpetrators. The spike in violations has been recorded by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in its newly-released report for the Congo for 2016. The director of the human rights office, Jose Maria Aranaz, says there was marked deterioration. “We are particularly worried about the dramatic increase in human rights violations documented in the territory of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our office has documented 5,190 human rights violations, which represents a 30 percent increase compared to 2015, which was already a year of increase compared to 2014,” Aranaz said. VOA

Cameroon’s Anglophone Areas Suffer Internet Blackout
English-speaking regions of Cameroon continue to suffer an internet blackout after Anglophone teachers, lawyers and students went on strike against the government’s alleged bias towards Francophones. Wednesday marks the eighth day since the authorities ordered the country’s telecommunications providers to shut off internet connections to the regions of Northwest and Southwest. Al Jazeera reached out to Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the country’s minister of communications, who pledged to comment on the situation but he has yet to do so. The internet blackout came after the government outlawed at least two Anglophone groups – Southern Cameroons National Council and the Cameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium – and arrested some of their leaders.  Al Jazeera

US Expanding Military Ties to Kenya with Sales, Donations and Training
A US National Guard unit is conducting “overseas deployment training” with the Kenya Defence Forces in the latest in a series of US initiatives intended to bolster Kenya’s military resources. The four-month set of exercises begun in December by the Massachusetts branch of the National Guard at Thika Barracks coincides with the recent announcement of a pending $418 million sale of US military aircraft to the KDF. That transaction in turn follows a US donation last year of six helicopters valued at $106 million for the KDF’s use in operations against al-Shabaab in Somalia. These moves point to a deepening US commitment to assisting Kenya’s efforts to enhance its security by diminishing the threat posed by al-Shabaab. The East African

Zimbabwe Stands Still as President Vacations Off the Grid
It was an urgent matter for President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe: His approval was needed so that a loyal supporter who had just died could be buried at a cemetery for national heroes. But with Mr. Mugabe off on his extended annual holiday in Asia this month, it took the acting president a couple of days to track him down, en route from Beijing to his Asian base in Singapore. “I phoned the president telling him about the death, and he told me that he had learned about it through the first lady, who had read about it on the internet,” said the acting president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, one of Mr. Mugabe’s two vice presidents. Mr. Mugabe’s annual holidays are one of the unusual aspects of the rhythms of political life in Harare, the capital of this southern African nation. Every year, from mid-December through the end of January, Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for 37 years with a tight grip, seemingly releases it. He vanishes in Asia, going off grid, becoming at times unreachable to his own deputies. The New York Times

Six Years After Egypt’s Revolution, Protesters’ Demands Are a Distant Memory
Six years ago, the Egyptian capital Cairo was the scene of huge demonstrations as a massive protest movement erupted. At the time, Egyptians were calling for strongman Hosni Mubarak to step down after nearly 30 years at the helm – which he later did. But fast-forward to present-day Egypt and another strongman, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is in power. Prices are rising, jobs are scarce and demonstrations are banned. Our team in Cairo reports. France 24

Sultan of Zing: Erdogan’s Power Trip Makes African Pit Stop
[…] Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is trying to create a mega presidency, was on a three-stop African safari to strong-arm governments to close down on Gulen-linked schools and businesses in exchange for increased trade and investment. […] Erdogan led a high-powered government and business delegation to Tanzania, Mozambique and Madagascar this week, signing trade agreements with the three countries and promising massive investment. On the surface, it looks like Turkey expanding its reach and wanting to get in on the action, particularly infrastructure development, on the continent. When you listen to Erdogan’s sales pitch however, he sounds a little… desperate. It was evident from the beginning that he had a double agenda. The Turkish media made it clear ahead of the visits that Erdogan wanted the countries to agree to shut down schools being run by the Hizmet movement that follows the teachings of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. Daily Maverick

The Future of AGOA
[…] While the benefits to African countries are obvious, there are minimum incentives for the new administration to backtrack on it. The agreement is the centrepiece of US trade policy for Africa and the most significant American initiative in the history of US-Africa relations. It is non-reciprocal and unilateral in the sense that countries do not directly concede market access to the US. However, the agreement comes with stringent country eligibility requirements that are reviewed on an annual basis at the sole discretion of the US. The most critical condition is for a beneficiary to make progress towards the elimination of barriers to US trade and investment. Also in the raft of conditions is the promotion of a market-based economy that protects private property rights and minimises government interference in the economy through such measures as price controls, subsidies, and government ownership of economic assets. The Star



Photo: Adam Jones