Africa Media Review for January 9, 2017

Ivory Coast Strikes Deal To End Mutiny, But Turmoil Reportedly Persists
A two-day mutiny among soldiers in the Ivory Coast has come to an end, according to the country’s president. Alassane Ouattara announced Saturday that the government has struck a deal with the mutineers. The revolt, which began Friday in Bouaké, the country’s second-largest city, soon spread to cities and towns nationwide. By Saturday, parts of the Ivory Coast’s largest city, Abidjan, were on lockdown, as gunfire was reported at the military base on the edge of the city. There have been no immediate reports of casualties. As NPR’s Ofeibea Quist-Arcton notes, the soldiers’ grievances center on bonus pay and living conditions. “One soldier says former fighters integrated into Ivory Coast’s army were demanding bonuses of $8,000 apiece — plus a house,” Ofeibea reported Friday for the Newscast unit. Defense Minister Alain-Richard Donwahi flew up to Bouaké to negotiate a deal with the rebellious soldiers. NPR

Behind Ivory Coast’s Army Mutiny
Was the soldiers’ revolt a one-off, or a red flag pointing to deeper problems within the West African country? Soldiers in Ivory Coast began a revolt on Friday in Bouake, the country’s second largest city, demanding higher salaries and improved living conditions. It spread to the commercial capital, Abidjan, where soldiers commandeered the army headquarters. Within hours the mutineers had taken over nine cities, and at one point trapped the defence minister in a house for hours. President Alassane Ouattara says a deal has been reached to end the rebellion and has agreed to look at the soldiers’ demands. For a country recovering from a civil war and a political crisis, it raises concerns about peace and stability. Al Jazeera

Ghana: Nana Akufo-Addo is Sworn In As President
Nana Akufo-Addo has been sworn in as Ghana’s new president after beating John Mahama in last month’s election. Heads of state from across Africa and thousands of guests and dignitaries watched him take the oath of office at a ceremony in the capital, Accra. Mr Akufo-Addo, a 72-year-old former human rights lawyer, promised free high school education and more factories. But critics have questioned the viability of his ambitions. BBC

Ghana’s President Plagiarized Clinton and George W. Bush Word for Word in His Inauguration Speech

Ghana has long been one of Africa’s bright spots, politically speaking. It is stable, if not prosperous, and has seen peaceful transitions of power since it became a democracy in 1992. And Saturday, Ghanaians gathered in Independence Square in the capital, Accra, to witness another: the inauguration of Nana Akufo-Addo as the country’s fifth elected president. But the moment of pride was tarnished, though it may not have been immediately obvious to those in attendance. Akufo-Addo had lifted lines in his 30-minute speech word for word from the inaugural addresses of two U.S. presidents. The first came from George W. Bush’s speech in 2001. “I ask you to be citizens: citizens, not spectators; citizens, not subjects; responsible citizens building your communities and our nation,” he said — or, well, they both said. And then came a line straight from Bill Clinton’s 1993 speech, substituting Ghanains for Americans: “Though our challenges are fearsome, so are our strengths. Ghanaians have ever been a restless, questing, hopeful people. And we must bring to our task today the vision and will of those who came before us.” The Washington Post

Fears on ‘Arab Spring’ Seeping into Algeria
Seven years ago, a regional wave of protests to topple authoritarian regimes in the Arab world came to be known as the ‘Arab Spring.’ The same popular uprisings against corruption in power have become a great threat to order in the North African state Algeria. Algeria’s government loudly sounded its concerns following street protests that witnessed acts of arson and vandalism of public and private property. Imams across the nation have complied with the government’s request on delivering a Friday speech which raises awareness on the down side to compromising national security. Imams are the religious priests which not only lead prayers at mosques but also deliver speeches concerning the Muslim community. All Imams had received a statement from the Ministry of Religious Affairs on Thursday night which gave a number of directives that strongly stress the importance of security and stability, also as a core principal to Sharia law, and a religious duty that falls upon all citizens. A Sharq Al Awsat

Algeria Announces State of Emergency on Tunisia Border
Algerian authorities announced a state of emergency on its borders with Tunisia yesterday, after reports that about 800 Tunisians were returning from conflict zones emerged, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported. Algerian authorities took intensified security measures in Al-Maa Al-Abyad and Al-Koweef districts across the 1,000 kilometre border. The Algerians placed monitoring cameras for vehicles and people, in addition to sitting up 20 observation points. Commenting on the situation, security expert Faisal Al-Sharif told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “The wave of social protests, which have surged in Algeria recently due to the price hikes and a new budget, were the main reason behind the announcement of the state of emergency.” He added: “The Algerian government fears these protests will expand and so they caused security problems,” noting that “terrorists” use such opportunities to carry out “terrorist attacks.” Middle East Monitor

Tunisians Protest Against Returning Jihadists
At least 1 000 people protested in central Tunis on Sunday against allowing Tunisians who had fought with jihadists abroad back into the country. At least 3 000 Tunisians have joined the ranks of jihadist groups fighting in neighbouring Libya, as well as in Syria and Iraq, according to officials. The United Nations puts the figure at 5 000. With the Islamic State group losing its main Libyan stronghold of Sirte and the jihadists under pressure in Syria and Iraq, concern has been growing in Tunisia that many will return to the country. Protesters at Sunday’s rally – many wrapped in Tunisians flags – shouted “No to returning terrorists!” and “All Tunisians against terrorism!” News 24

Power Struggle Risks Tipping Libya Deeper Into Crisis
Escalating tensions between rival Libyan armed forces threaten to plunge the North African country deeper into turmoil only weeks after the fall of the Islamic State group’s bastion Sirte. The deeply tribal nation has been sharply divided since the 2011 ouster of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival militias vying for influence and control of oil resources. The power struggle pits an administration based in eastern Libya, backed by military strongman Khalifa Haftar, against a UN-brokered unity government in Tripoli supported by militias from the western city of Misrata. “The situation is most likely going to escalate further given that the voices of war are now the loudest” after an air strike by Haftar’s forces against the Misrata militias, analyst Mohamed Eljarh of the Atlantic Council said. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) is the centrepiece of Western hopes to stem an upsurge of jihadism in Libya, but it has failed to assert its authority across the country. AFP

Suicide Truck Hits Egypt Security Post in Sinai, Killing 9
A suicide bomber driving a garbage truck packed with explosives rammed his vehicle into an Egyptian security checkpoint outside a police building in northern Sinai on Monday, killing at least nine people and wounding 10, officials said. According to security and medical officials, the attack in the city of el-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula was followed by smaller explosions as militants wearing black masks fired rocket-propelled grenades at the troops around the checkpoint. Three floors of the police building were blown out, the officials said, adding that so far nine bodies have been retrieved from the rubble but that they feared the death toll could rise further. Ten wounded were taken to hospital. At the checkpoint, two officers survived unharmed, the officials said. There were unconfirmed reports that a number of security personnel were seized and abducted by the gunmen. News 24

The Gambia: President Buhari to Host ECOWAS Leaders in Abuja on Monday
As part of the ongoing efforts to ensure a peaceful transition of power in The Gambia, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will host a meeting with four other West African leaders in Abuja on Monday with the intention of resolving the political crisis that has erupted in the country. Mr. Buhari’s chief spokesperson, Garba Shehu, announced this in a press release issued on Sunday. He said the meeting would be “aimed at avoiding violence and preserving democracy” in The Gambia. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) chose Mr. Buhari to mediate the negotiations, while immediate past president of Ghana, John Mahama, will serve as co-mediator. Mr. Shehu stated that the two statesmen will also be tasked with ensuring that President-elect Adama Barrow is safe. Sahara Reporters

ECOWAS Holds Off on Troop Deployment to The Gambia
West African leaders are still pursuing mediation to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in The Gambia where President Yahya Jammeh refused to accept defeat in an election last month. Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told reporters on Saturday, after a meeting among regional leaders in Ghana’s capital, Accra, that regional bloc ECOWAS did not yet intend to deploy its standby military force in the country. “We are committed to a peaceful mediation and a peaceful transfer of power in The Gambia. We will continue to pursue that for now,” said Sirleaf, who chairs the 15-member body. Al Jazeera

US Orders Families of Embassy Personnel Out of Gambia
[…] Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said Saturday the West African bloc, which she chairs, hopes diplomacy will help democracy prevail in Gambia. “We want to apply diplomatic solutions to solve the problem,” Sirleaf said. Asked if troops would be moved into Gambia she responded, “No, we want to keep the region peaceful.” However, in recognition of the solidifying crisis, the United States on Saturday advised American citizens not to travel to Gambia “because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future.” The U.S. State Department also ordered relatives of diplomats and embassy staff to leave Gambia and warned all its citizens to depart now, saying those who choose to stay should “prepare for the possible deterioration of security.” Sirleaf spoke at the inauguration of Ghana’s new president, where she met with other leaders from the regional bloc known as ECOWAS. AP

At Least 15 Dead in DRC Ethnic Clashes – Local Sources
At least 15 people from DR Congo’s Bantu community were killed Thursday in an attack blamed on Pygmies in an area of the southeast that has seen repeated ethnic clashes, local sources said. “Clashes between Bantus and Pygmies in the village of Piana Mwanga have left 15 Bantus dead, 37 injured and 65 houses burned,” Paul Kwanga, bishop of the southeastern town of Manono, told AFP. Kamona Lumuna, the interior minister of Tanganyika province where the assault took place, confirmed the attack but said the precise toll was not yet known. “A team will be sent from tomorrow to investigate what really happened in the village,” Kamona told AFP by telephone. News 24

Burundi Opposition Wants New Mediator for Crisis Talks
Burundian opposition has called on the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to appoint a new facilitator in mediation efforts to end the country’s political crisis. The opposition accused Benjamin Mkapa, facilitator of the Burundi peace talks and former Tanzanian president, of supporting the government. “CNARED is asking the mediator of the Burundi crisis, Yoweri Museveni, to enter into consultation with the other heads of state of the East African Community (EAC) to find a new facilitator,” it said in a statement late Thursday. Pending the appointment of a new facilitator, CNARED called on Mkapa to cease all efforts in organizing further inter-Burundian dialogue. “Mkapa disqualified himself. He violated the basic principles of a facilitator that is to say impartiality and neutrality,” the statement said. It also called on the African Union and the United Nations to support the new facilitator. Anadolu Agency

5 Killed, 13 Injured in Twin Blasts in Mogadishu
At least five people, including three soldiers were killed and 13 others wounded when twin bomb blasts targeted a busy restaurant in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, according to government officials. Abdifatah Omar Hallane, a spokesman for Banadir region in Mogadishu, told Anadolu Agency by phone: “It was rush hour when the bomb exploded…The wounded were rushed to Daru-shifa and Madina hospitals.” Mohamud Yousuf Hassan, a police captain, also confirmed the blasts. “The bomb blasts were twin landmine explosions,” Hassan said, adding that three suspects linked to the attack had been held. So far, no individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack; however, the Somali militant group, al-Shabaab, often claims responsibility for such attacks. Anadolu Agency

5 Suicide Bombers Die, Kill 3 Near Nigeria’s Maiduguri City
Five suicide bombers trying to infiltrate Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri have died in explosions that killed at least three civilians, police said Monday, blaming Boko Haram Islamic extremists. Sunday night’s blasts occurred more than 10 kilometers (6 miles) apart on the city’s eastern outskirts, deputy superintendent Victor Isuku said. Three men strapped into explosive vests and firing assault rifles approached a military checkpoint at about 8:20 p.m., he said. One exploded, killing all three and a civilian self-defense fighter. Two hours later, two female bombers blew up, killing themselves and two unidentified people. Soldiers and civilians fighting alongside them have stopped many suicide bombers before they can reach heavily populated targets in recent months. AP

South Africa’s Zuma Denounces Corruption within Ruling ANC Party
South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday denounced corruption within the ruling ANC party and admitted that mistakes had cost the party at the ballot box after a year of damaging scandals. Zuma is set to step down as leader of the African National Congress (ANC) in December, before he completes the maximum two terms in office as national president in 2019. He and other senior ANC figures have been embroiled in a series of graft allegations, as South Africa has struggled with a slowing economy, high unemployment and regular violent protests. In August, the ANC — which came to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela after the end of apartheid — recorded its worst-ever election results at local polls. “The ANC has heard the message that the people delivered in August. We accept that we have made mistakes,” Zuma, 74, said in a speech marking the ANC’s 105th anniversary. France 24

Jacob Zuma’s Ex-wife Given Boost in South Africa Leadership Race
The chances of South African President Jacob Zuma’s ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, becoming the next leader of the African National Congress were given a boost on Saturday with the endorsement of the ruling party’s women’s division. The ANC will pick a new leader at a conference in December and, given its national dominance since coming to power at the end of apartheid in 1994, the winner is likely to go on to be South Africa’s next president when elections are held in 2019. Dlamini-Zuma, the chairwoman of the African Union, is viewed as a frontrunner. She is a Zulu, the largest tribe in South Africa, and is expected to have the backing of her former husband, who will have a major say in who succeeds him. The Women’s League’s endorsement is the first for a specific candidate by a national section of the ANC and will intensify the debate over who will take the party forward after it suffered its worst local election results last year. The Telegraph

Ethiopia’s Political Troubles Are Going to Test Its Beneficial China Relationship
[…] For the past few years, Ethiopia has been able to partly shed its association with abject poverty and famine. Arguably inspired by China, the country became a developmental success story and one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. At much the same time, Addis Ababa was able to capitalise on being the gateway to the politics of the African continent and foreign aid. It is evident just how rapidly China’s stakes here have grown over the past few years. Just as evident is China’s different approach to development as compared with the West. It is also easy to see why the recent instability in Ethiopia is a real test to China’s approach. Behind the veneer of Ethiopia’s parliamentary federalism lies an authoritarian system of state-led development that is preferred by Beijing over the country’s ragtag opposition forces. The question is whether the fruits of fast economic growth can be distributed sufficiently effectively in Ethiopia so as to forestall ethnic rural unrest. Quartz

In Zimbabwe, a First Lady Exerts Her Power
The first lady of Zimbabwe’s display of power was unspoken, though clear, during the governing party’s annual congress, as she focused her speech on new party regalia featuring a teacup-shaped image of her country. “We all drink from the teacup,” Grace Mugabe, the first lady, said, explaining that she had designed the regalia herself. Not surprisingly, the next morning in Masvingo, the small town in southern Zimbabwe where the congress of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, President Robert Mugabe’s party, was held recently, nearly all officials wore clothes adorned with Ms. Mugabe’s teacup design. Ms. Mugabe — known mostly for her lavish overseas shopping trips until she entered politics just two years ago — has emerged as one of the main actors in the fierce maneuvering to succeed Mr. Mugabe that has engulfed Zimbabwe in the last year, as the president’s visible decline presages the end of an era. The New York Times

Lost Luggage, Endless Delays and a Broken Runway: The Perils of Nigerian Air Travel
Local travelers endure immense amounts of stress getting around Africa’s most populous country by air. The biggest airports are usually overcrowded with poor air conditioning while check-in desks overflow with passengers trying to get on to planes which can be canceled after hours of delay. Arik Air, Nigeria’s largest airline, is particularly notorious for flight delays and cancellations—more than half of its flights in the first quarter of 2016 were either delayed or cancelled. In a recent incident, an Arik Air staff was assaulted by aggrieved customers requesting a refund after a prolonged delay. When flights have been on schedule, incidents of lost and delayed baggage have also been rife. […] While airlines have their troubles, government agencies like the airport authority NCAA hardly fare better. Due to bad management, local travel is set to become even more cumbersome as the Nnamdi Azikwe international airport in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, will be closed for six weeks to fix a dilapidated runway. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones