Africa Media Review for January 31, 2017

Morocco Rejoins the African Union after 32 Years
Western Sahara and African Union sources have told the Associated Press that Morocco has officially been admitted back in to the continental body after 32 years of isolation. The decision for Morocco to rejoin the AU came Monday at the African leaders summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “Morocco has been admitted to join the AU with a view that it will become the 55th member of the continental body. That’s made with the understanding that Western Sahara will remain a member of the AU,” said Lamine Baali, ambassador of Western Sahara to Ethiopia and the African Union. “All the debates were focused on (the issue) that Morocco should respect the internationally recognized border of Western Sahara.” An African Union source who followed the debate for Morocco to return to the continental body told the Associated Press that 39 countries supported Morocco’s bid but nine countries voted against it. AP

Chad Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat to Head African Union
Chad’s foreign minister has been elected as the new chair of the African Union Commission, pledging to place development and security at the top of his agenda and streamline the organisation’s bureaucracy. Moussa Faki Mahamat – a former prime minister who has been at the forefront of the fight against Islamist militants in Nigeria, Mali and the Sahel – was chosen by the 54-member body at a summit that has exposed splits over Africa’s relationship with the international criminal court and Morocco’s readmission to the union. He edged out his closest rival, the Kenyan foreign minister Amina Mohamed, who had been regarded in some quarters as the frontrunner. The Guardian

How Amina Lost African Union Commission Post to Chad Candidate
Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed lost out to Chad’s Moussa Mahamat in the race to become the chair of the African Union Commission in the Round Seven vote. Ms Mohamed fell to a strong onslaught fronted by countries from the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) after seven rounds of voting that saw three other candidates fall by the wayside early in the voting. Amina, 56, lost to Mahamat after heads of state voted in the seventh round. Yesterday’s elections in Addis Ababa, which were delayed for two hours after the opening ceremony, took up to 3pm, eating into the time of the voting for the AUC chairperson that was scheduled to take place at 2pm. The African Heads of State and Government were forced to break and resume the voting session at 4pm. The Standard

Guinean Leader Alpha Conde Becomes New AU Chairman
African leaders have elected Guinean President Alpha Conde as new African Union chairman at a biannual summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday. Conde, succeeding to Chadian President Idriss Deby, pledged to serve the pan-African body with dedication for the traditional one-year revolving term. Earlier, African foreign ministers proposed that each member country pay 0.2 percent of their import duty earnings as membership payment for the AU. According to AU deputy chair Erastus Mwencha, the new financing arrangement should extricate Africa from dependence on foreign sources. The opening session of the two-day summit saw UN chief Antonio Guterres and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas delivering speeches. Anadolu Agency

Trump Immigration Order Shakes Africa
The fate of counterterrorism efforts and refugees awaiting resettlement in America becomes uncertain . President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring U.S. entry to foreign nationals from seven Muslim-majority nations has shaken the Horn of Africa, raising worries about the future of counterterrorism efforts in the volatile region and the fate of refugees awaiting resettlement in America. The 90-day entry ban on visa-carrying citizens from Somalia and Sudan has caused dismay in the Sudanese capital Khartoum, which reached a deal with the Obama administration earlier this month to lift a 20-year-old U.S. trade embargo and to boost cooperation in the fight against Islamic State and other militant groups. The government of President Omar al-Bashir called the policy a “negative message” and summoned the U.S. chargé d’affaires to protest. At the opening day of a summit of the 54-nation African Union in Addis Ababa, the regional bloc’s outgoing chairwoman told the continent’s leaders that Mr. Trump’s executive order heralded “very turbulent times.” The Wall Street Journal

Mali Cancels Return of Famous Music Festival After al-Qaida Attack
The fabled Festival au Désert was returning to Timbuktu, but it was a carefully guarded secret. Musicians had packed their instruments for the journey to northern Mali. Technical teams had already loaded their sound systems into canoes and taken the river route to the ancient city of learning. None of the festival-going public had yet been told, but the organisers were confident they would turn out, possibly in their thousands. It was a secret because it was a potential target for extremists in Mali’s lawless north. Since 2012, the world-famous festival, which attracted Malian nomads and music fans from all over the world, has been in exile, driven from its home in the first place by Islamic extremists who banned music, and kept out ever since by insecurity. But this weekend was to mark its triumphant return, and a huge amount of effort had gone into organising it. The Guardian

Bundeswehr in Mali: Dangerous, But Necessary?
It’s the Bundeswehr’s most difficult and dangerous overseas deployment. Soon it will also be the biggest. The German parliament has agreed to send more soldiers to Mali – but troops alone cannot resolve the crisis. […] The Mali mission is certainly dangerous, and the speakers of the governing CDU/CSU and SPD parties did emphasize this before the vote in parliament. However, Henning Otte, a CDU member of the Bundestag, described it as urgent and necessary: “In recent years we have recognized that we have to increase our level of commitment and responsibility in stemming conflicts in the places where they arise,” he said. Otte recently visited Mali as part of a parliamentary delegation. “Otherwise the repercussions come to us, in the form of terrorism and people fleeing this terrorism,” he explained. Deutsche Welle

The Gambia: President Barrow Retains Jammeh’s Peace Loving Army Chief
Ousmane Badjie, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) under former President Yahya Jammeh will maintain his job as Army chief under President Adama Barrow. Barrow made this disclosure during his first press conference as president after his return from Dakar where he took his oath of office as president. Badjie made the headlines during the post-election crisis which resulted after Jammeh refused to accept defeat from the December 1, 2016 polls. Badjie became famous for his pronouncements about loving his troops and that they were not going to fight troops deployed to oust Jammeh. Africa News

Can ECOWAS Tactics in Gambia Serve as Model?
Using a combination of diplomacy and muscle, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forced longtime Gambian President Yahya Jammeh to cede power this month to challenger Adama Barrow, who won the nation’s general election. Neighboring Senegal amassed troops and threatened to remove Jammeh by force. Regional powerhouse Nigeria threatened to help. The presidents of Mauritania and Guinea conducted shuttle diplomacy between Gambia’s capital of Banjul and Senegal, where Barrow had fled. Jammeh finally agreed to go into exile on January 20. Despite the successful outcome, some question the wisdom of ECOWAS intervening on behalf of the people of the Gambia. VOA

At Least 32 Die in Somalia after Drinking from Well
At least 32 people have died in Somalia after drinking water from a well that was believed to have been poisoned, officials said on Monday. More than 10 other people were hospitalised after drinking the water in Masuubiye near the south-western city of Baidoa, regional senior official Hassan Hussein Elay said. Elay accused the militant Islamist group al-Shabaab of poisoning the well. “Al-Shabaab poisoned the waterhole to prevent government soldiers from drinking water there,” he said, without providing details. Al-Shabaab has reportedly poisoned wells in the past. It was not immediately known if any soldiers had died in the latest incident. IOL News

24 Candidates Seek Somalia Presidency
The Somalia presidential electoral committee has cleared 24 candidates to vie for the top seat. The committee, composed of members of the Lower and Upper houses, also announced that the election will take place in Mogadishu on February 8. The candidates include incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, former transitional president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and former transitional PM Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. Others include Mr Abdurahman Mohamed Farole, a former leader of Puntland, a semiautonomous authority in northeastern Somalia, former Mogadishu mayor Mohamed Ahmed Nur alias Tarzan and former ambassador to Kenya Mohamed Ali Nur. The East African

Congolese M23 Rebels Flee to Rwanda
Fighters from former Congolese M23 rebels are said to have crossed into Rwanda, hours after reports of clashes between the DRC army and the defunct group emerged. In a brief statement issued on Sunday, Rwanda’s Ministry of Defence said that about 30 unarmed militants entered the country from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. “In the morning of 29 January 2017, a group of unarmed people claiming to be M23 combatants crossed into Rwanda through Rwanda-DRC common border, in Bugeshi Sector, Rubavu District. By 1700h, 30 individuals had been registered,” Lt Col Rene Ngendahimana, the military spokesman said in the statement. “According to information received from the combatants by Rwanda Defence Force, they claim that they are fleeing from combat action by DRC Armed Forces (FARDC),” the statement adds. The East African

Military Helicopters Crash in Eastern Congo, 4 Missing
Two military helicopters crashed in a strife-torn part of Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with at least four crew members on board, authorities said on Monday. Government spokesperson, Lambert Mende, said that it was not clear what brought down the helicopters on Friday in North Kivu province near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda. Over the weekend, UN-sponsored Radio Okapi cited military sources as saying that the helicopters crashed while pursuing fighters from the former Congolese rebel group M23. An army spokesperson declined to comment. The M23 was the largest of dozens of armed groups in the country and controlled huge swaths of eastern Congo in 2012 and 2013 before it was defeated by Congolese and UN forces. Premium Times

Cameroon Widens Clampdown to Curb Anglophone Protests
The Cameroonian Government seems especially worried that word gets out into the world about the situation in Anglophone regions. Journalists working for the international media, including DW’s correspondent in Cameroon, have been threatened with sanctions if they report on the conflict. In the meantime, the media regulator CNC (Conseil National de la Communication) has warned media outlets that they could see their licenses revoked if they report favorably on separatist or federalist demands by the English-speaking minority. In a statement, the regulator wrote that allowing English-speakers to voice their grievances in the media is likely “to adversely affect the Republican system, unity and territorial integrity, and the democratic principles on which the state stands,” Journalists have reacted by accusing the CNC of trying to muzzle the press. The widening clampdown by President Paul Biya’s government aims at strangling a protest movement by a segment of the population that feels it is being politically and economically sidelined by the Francophone majority. Deutsche Welle

German Report Details Libya Abuses Amid Pressure to Stem Migrant Flows
Conditions for migrants and refugees in Libya are worse than in concentration camps, according to a paper sent to the German foreign ministry by its ambassador in Niger. The German embassy in Niger has authenticated reports of executions, torture and other systematic rights abuses in camps on the refugee route in Libya, Die Welt cited the report as saying on Sunday. The warning came as EU leaders prepare for a summit in Malta on Friday to discuss ways to control migration across the Mediterranean from Africa this summer, amid pressure from Italy to take decisive action. Similar evidence of atrocities in Libya have been emerging from in a court case in Milan brought by the Italian state against a leading smuggler. The Guardian

Outcry in Libya after Police Seize Books They Consider un-Islamic
A police brigade in Al-Marj, a city in eastern Libya, released a video on January 20 in which they bragged about seizing a large number of books, which they claimed went against Sunni values. Their haul included books about Shia Islam but also works by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and novels by popular Brazilian author Paulo Coelho. Many Libyans have been outraged about what they say amounts to censorship. Authorities made the seizure after stopping a truck that was transporting these books to Benghazi. The video posted on the Facebook page of the Al-Marj police shows dozens of confiscated books spread out on a table. France 24

Turkey Reopens Embassy in Libya, Vows to Support Unity Efforts
Turkey reopened its embassy in Libya on Monday, 2-1/2 years after closing it due to the security situation, the Turkish foreign ministry said, as diplomatic missions begin to reopen in the divided country. Turkey closed the embassy in Tripoli in 2014 as rival factions battled three years after rebels toppled long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi. Italy reopened its embassy earlier this month. “The reopening of the embassy will allow Turkey to make stronger contributions to efforts to build peace and stability, as well as reconstruction in Libya,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement. Both Libya and Tripoli itself are home to myriad armed groups with shifting and conflicting loyalties that have sought to fill the power vacuum created when Gaddafi was killed. Reuters

Time To Get Back Into Libyan Oil? Probably Not Quite Yet
Libya is home to a massive 48 billion barrels of oil—the largest reserves in Africa–and it’s about to open its doors to new foreign investment in oil for the first time in half a decade. The question now is what’s left to develop, assuming the political instability is subdued? Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) intends to reopen its oil sector to new foreign investment again for the first time since 2011, its state-run oil company’s chief recently disclosed. Prior to the demise of Libyan strongman Muamar Ghaddafi, Libya was among the world’s top ten producers, pumping out about 1.7 million barrels per day. Today, it’s producing 715,000 barrels a day of oil, after restoring much of the production lost due to political chaos and conflicts. By the end of this year, with blockades on its ports lifted–NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla believes the country will be producing 1.25 million barrels a day, closing in the Ghaddafi-era figures. OilPrice

Quebec Mosque Attack: Victims Were African Immigrants
Canadian police have charged a 27-year-old man over the deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday. All six worshippers killed in Sunday’s shooting at a mosque in Canada’s Quebec City were of African origin. They included Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, and Ibrahima Barry, 39. Said to be brothers, they were born in Guinea. They were described as IT workers, with Ibrahima having worked for the province’s health-insurance agency and had four children. Mamadou Tanou was a father of two and was reportedly sending money home to Guinea. “Tanou lost his father three years ago, so it became his responsibility to support not only his family here but also his family in Africa. Now that’s all been cut,” a family friend told the Globe and Mail newspaper. The other four killed were of Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan origin. BBC

The Rare African Park Where Elephants Are Thriving
The elephants in Chad’s Zakouma National Park were supposed to have been wiped out by now. Instead their numbers are growing. […] Poaching has ravaged Africa’s elephants, largely to feed the appetite for ivory in China and elsewhere in Asia. Between 2007 and 2014 poaching contributed to a 30 percent decline in savanna elephant populations. In Zakouma the killing began earlier than in most places, and the losses were more terrible. In 2002 the park was home to more than 4,000 elephants, but by 2010 that figure had plummeted to a mere 400—a 90 percent drop. Experts predicted that Zakouma’s remaining elephants would be gone within two or three years if the situation stayed unchanged. But it did change—drastically. Desperate for a solution, in 2010 the Chadian government called in African Parks, a South Africa-based nonprofit that specializes in rehabilitating failing protected areas around the continent. Relying on a mix of expertise, luck, and trial and error, Rian and Lorna Labuschagne, the South African husband-and-wife team who took over management of the park, have turned things around. Under their watch poaching has been dramatically reduced, and the elephant population is growing for the first time in years. National Geographic



Photo: Adam Jones