Africa Media Review for January 4, 2019

DRC Catholic Church Says it Knows Election Outcome, Urges ‘Truth’
Democratic Republic of Congo’s influential Roman Catholic Church said on Thursday that it knew who had won the country’s presidential elections and called on the authorities to quell a mounting storm about the outcome. A spokesperson for a senior church body, the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), said “data in its possession from vote counting reports from polling stations designates the selection of one candidate as president”. CENCO called on election overseers “to publish the election results in keeping with truth and justice,” said spokesman Father Donatien Nshole. CENCO says it deployed more than 40 000 observers across the country to monitor Sunday’s vote, the first presidential ballot since 2011. AFP

UN Security Council to Meet on DR Congo Elections
The UN Security Council will hold a closed-door meeting on Friday on the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, diplomats said. France requested the meeting, scheduled for 3:00 pm (2000 GMT), as world powers await results from the landmark vote held Sunday. The Catholic Church on Thursday said it had information from polling stations that showed one candidate had come out as the winner of the presidential race. The National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO) called on the election commission to “publish the election results in keeping with truth and justice.” The United States demanded that “accurate” election results be released and called on the DRC authorities to remove restrictions on internet access. Western powers and DRC’s neighbors hope sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country will see its first peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960. The council is scheduled to hold a public meeting on the DR Congo on Tuesday. AFP

Sudan Security Apparatus Arrests Prominent Journalist, Activists
Sudan’s security service on Thursday has clamped down on vocal journalists and civil society activists, days after the arrest of opposition leaders. Thursday’s wave of arrest took place as multiple sources confirmed to Sudan Tribune that the security authorities are looking for many opposition leaders who went underground. Activists close the Sudanese Professional Association said that three security agents arrested the well-known journalist and commentator Faisal Mohamed Salih from his office in Khartoum on Thursday afternoon. Since the start of anti-government protests, Faisal was a very vocal critic against the regime. … Furthermore, the Sudanese authorities earlier today arrested Ambassador Ibrahim Taha Ayoub former foreign minister of the April 1985 uprising government, Hassan Abdel Atti former professor at Khartoum University, Montasser al-Tayeb, a lecturer at Khartoum University’s Faculty of Medicine and journalist Qureshi Awad from Al-Midan newspaper, the organ of the Sudanese Communist Party. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Protests Biggest Threat Yet to Bashir: Analysts
Deadly protests that have grown across Sudan in recent weeks are the biggest threat to President Omar al-Bashir’s iron-fisted rule since he swept to power in a 1989 coup, experts said. Clashes have killed at least 19 since demonstrations began two weeks ago, initially in protest against bread prices tripling but rapidly evolving in to anti-government rallies. Rights group Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37 and United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an investigation. “These demonstrations and the anger that animates them are much stronger than any we’ve seen in recent years,” said Eric Reeves, a senior fellow at Harvard University who has been tracking Sudan’s politics and economy for two decades. AFP

Sudan under al-Bashir: Long History of Turmoil, Conflicts
Street protests against Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir show no sign of abating. A growing number of his former allies are clamouring for his departure. None of his friends in the region are stepping up to help. One of the Mideast’s longest autocrats may be on the way out. But if Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 military coup, seeks to cling to power, it could mean greater violence and economic paralysis for Sudan and a new stage in a dark history of strife, military dictatorships and political polarisation. Once Africa’s largest nation, Sudan under Bashir was prominent on the world stage in the 1990s and 2000s for all the wrong reasons. AP

How 5,113 Nigerians Were Killed in 11 Months
The year 2018 was one that many Nigerian families would want to forget in a hurry but alas they cannot. Reason: Many families across all states of the country lost members to the flickering flames of insecurity, which according to Vanguard’s tally claimed no fewer than 5,113 persons as of November 2018. The death figure is conservative because it is based on reported incidents. Many killings were not reported and some casualty figures were not disclosed. Specifically, deaths taken into account are those arising from sectarian violence, herdsmen and farmers’ clashes, Boko Haram insurgency, cult clashes, and armed robbery. If those who died in the custody of kidnappers were added the tally would be much higher. The deaths recorded since the beginning of 2018 exclude those who died from illness, accidents, flooding, childbirth, and Lassa fever among others. According to the tally, the North-East geo-political zone, which is the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency accounted for most of the deaths with 2,408 deaths. Vanguard

Madagascar Opposition Protest ahead of Court’s Vote Verdict
Hundreds of supporters of the losing Madagascar presidential candidate staged a protest in the capital Antananarivo on Thursday, rejecting the election result ahead of a court verdict reviewing the vote. Former president Marc Ravalomanana was defeated on December 19 by another former leader of the Indian Ocean island, Andry Rajoelina, who won nearly 56% of a run-off vote. The country’s Constitutional Court is reviewing a petition filed by Ravalomanana, who claims the election was tarnished by massive fraud. The court is due to hand down its ruling on January 8. AFP

Cameroon’s English-Speaking Areas Becoming Deserted
Towns and villages in Cameroon’s restive Anglophone regions are being deserted as battles rage between separatists and the country’s military. The fighting intensified after President Paul Biya’s New Year’s message in which he insisted that his military would neutralize separatists who refuse to lay down their arms. A senior Cameroon military official, who did not wish to be named, warns in a report that visiting the mostly deserted northwestern town of Kumbo he will need military protection. He says separatist fighters have been launching heavy attacks in the area and may be among the few people left on the streets. On a ride through the streets of Kumbo, under military protection, it’s clear that most houses, markets and public places are abandoned while some homes and schools have been torched. VOA

Two killed as Tunisian Security Forces Storm Armed Group Hideout
Two gunmen commited suicide in Tunisia after exchanging fire with security forces in the city of Jilma, located some 250 kilometres south of the capital Tunis. An interior ministry statement on Thursday said the assailants killed themselves after being surrounded by security forces during a raid on their hideout late on Wednesday. … Between 3,000 and 6,000 Tunisians are estimated to have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIL) in Iraq, Syria as well as neighbouring Libya where a civil war is raging. ISIL has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks, mostly targeting tourist destinations, including one on the Bardo National Museum and a second on a beach resort in the town of Sousse. Al Jazeera

Deadly Mali Attack to Be Investigated by UN Rights Experts
An attack on a village in central Mali earlier this week in which at least 37 civilians died, is to be investigated with the help of United Nations human rights experts, the UN stabilization mission in the country (MINUSMA), announced on Thursday. Women and children were among those killed in Koulogon Peul on Tuesday, according to MINUSMA. It has called for justice for the victims, whose deaths come amid escalating intercommunal clashes, fuelled in part by decades-old disputes over land and cattle by pastoralists across the whole Sahel region and by extremist armed groups. “I strongly condemn these attacks against civilians in the village of Koulogon Peul and call for the perpetrators to be held accountable,” said Joanne Adamson, MINUSMA Deputy Special Representative. “It is becoming more and more important to bring an end to violence in the regions of Mopti and Segou. We need to intensify our efforts to find judicial and political solutions,” she insisted. UN

CAR Rebels Buy Weapons from Sudan Traffickers: UN Report
Muslim rebels who briefly seized power in the Central African Republic in 2013 have received fresh weapons supplies from traffickers in Sudan even as they take part in peace talks, according to a UN panel of experts. The panel tasked with monitoring sanctions on the Central African Republic said in a report that leaders of the former Seleka alliance were re-arming to counter the deployment of newly-trained government troops to their areas of influence. “The influx of weapons from the Sudan, noted since January 2018, has resulted in UPC and FPRC fighters increasingly being seen with pistols and AK-type assault rifles, as well as rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns mounted on their vehicles,” said the report to the Security Council. AFP

In a Bold Experiment, Ethiopia’s Abiy Aims to Put Citizenship Over Ethnicity
One of the most dramatic political pivots of 2018 occurred in Ethiopia, where the sudden rise of 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed as prime minister ushered in a series of head-spinning reforms in a country long ruled by a deeply repressive regime. There is now the very real possibility that Ethiopia could make a lasting shift to democracy. There are so many positive signs so far that most Ethiopians at home and abroad seem gripped by a sense of euphoria. But not all is well in Ethiopia. Abiy faces a number of significant obstacles to his goal of bringing a free, peaceful and genuinely competitive contest when Ethiopia holds its next elections, scheduled for 2020. Among those challenges, the most difficult is transforming the current political landscape, dominated by ethnic and tribal allegiances, to one where citizenship—loyalty to the country as a whole—transcends narrower divisions. WPR

Malawi’s Albinos Begin 2019 with Fear of Renewed Attacks
The brutal killing of an albino man in Malawi on New Year’s Eve has renewed concerns of attacks on people with the rare genetic disorder, which causes the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color. Albinos have been killed in Malawi and some other parts of Africa over the false belief that their body parts can bring good luck and wealth. Albino rights campaigners are demanding authorities do more to end the attacks. Malawi police say they are looking for two suspects who broke into 54-year-old Yassin Phiri’s house in northern Malawi on New Year’s Eve and stabbed the albino man to death. Malawi Police Inspector General Rodney Jose on Wednesday told reporters the attackers killed Phiri in front of his nine-year-old son. VOA

7 Chinese Men in Zimbabwe Court Over Poaching Rhino Horns Worth Over $900,000
Seven Chinese men, who were arrested last week after they were allegedly found in possession of rhino horns almost worth one million dollars, have appeared before a provincial magistrate in Zimbabwe’s resort town of Victoria Falls. They are facing charges of violating some provisions of the Parks and Wildlife Act. The seven, represented by Givemore Mvhiringi, were not formally charged of contravening Section 45(1) (b) of the Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14 when they appeared before Rangarirai Gakanje, who remanded them in custody. Zeng Dengui (35), Peicon Jang (35), Liu Cheng (23), Yu Xian (25), Yong Zhu (25), Chen Zhiangfu (30) and Qui Jinchang (29) are expected to appear again in court next Wednesday. Prosecutor Bhekimpilo Tshabalala told the court that the trial should begin in earnest as the accused have been in police custody for a long time without a proper court date. Tshabalala indicated that they will face additional charges of money laundering and theft of a motor vehicle. Under Zimbabwe’s wildlife laws, it is a criminal offence to keep, possess, sell or dispose of any protected animal’s products or trophies. The offence attracts a custodial sentence. VOA

Ex-Credit Suisse Bankers Arrested over ‘$2bn Fraud Scheme’
Three former Credit Suisse bankers have been arrested over their alleged role in a $2bn (£1.5bn) fraud scheme connected to firms in Mozambique, according to US authorities. The men have been released on bail in London while the US seeks their extradition. The scheme allegedly involved loans to state-owned companies in Mozambique. Two others, including the country’s former finance minister, have also been arrested. The former employees of the Swiss investment bank were arrested in London on Thursday. The men – Andrew Pearse, Surjan Singh, and Detelina Subeva – were charged in an indictment issued by a US District Court in New York. The indictment says that through a series of financial transactions between approximately 2013 and 2016, more than $2bn was borrowed through loans guaranteed by the Mozambican government. It said over the course of the transactions, the co-conspirators acted to defraud investors. They created maritime projects as fronts to raise money to enrich themselves, and “intentionally diverted portions of the loan proceeds to pay at least $200m in bribes and kickbacks to themselves, Mozambican government officials and others,” the indictment read. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones