Africa Media Review for July 18, 2017

Storm Clouds Gather in Kenya: Five Threats to Peaceful Elections
On August 8, Kenyans go to the polls for the sixth time since the institution of multiparty elections. The lead-up to the voting, which takes place in the context of a long history of electoral violence, has exhibited a number of worrying signals—as well as signs of reform and progress. A peaceful outcome will depend on credible institutions—such as the judiciary to arbitrate disputes, electoral commission to manage the process, and security services to ensure the safety of citizens. Five issues will be important to monitor.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

One Candidate Turns up for Kenya Debate
A TV debate for Kenyan politicians hoping to become deputy president in next month’s elections went ahead even though only one candidate took part. Muthiora Kariara, a political novice who is running with independent presidential candidate Japheth Kaluyu, answered questions for about an hour. Some of the candidates were not allowed to take part because they arrived late. Political parties have accused the organisers of failing to consult them in the planning of the event. VOA

SPLM Reunification Talks Collapse over Machar Exclusion
Mediation talks that were scheduled for July 14 in Kampala to reunite the three factions of the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) collapsed after former vice president Dr Riek Machar was not invited to the meeting. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni faced mounting pressure from diplomats from Western countries to invite the former South Sudan opposition leader. Some delegations had already arrived in the Ugandan capital for the talks when it became clear that Dr Machar would not appear. President Museveni apparently declined to invite him “because he is a traitor,” sources said. The factions are SPLM In Government (SPLM-IG), SPLM In Opposition (SPLM-IO), and Former Detainees (FD). The sources further revealed that Dr Machar, the SPLM-IO leader, would not have been able to attend anyway as he is under house arrest in South Africa: He did not to send any representative to the talks. The East African

Kiir Declares State of Emergency in Parts of South Sudan
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Monday night declared a state of emergency in Gogrial, some parts of Tonj, Wau and Aweil East states for three months. The president, under the country’s transitional constitution, has powers to declare a state of emergency in consultation with the national legislative assembly. It remains unclear what necessitated the president’s impromptu decision, which could partly be linked to insecurity in those areas. It is the second time for the Republic of South Sudan to declare the state of emergency after a curfew was imposed in Juba following deadly clashes that erupted in December 2013. Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan Blocks Two News Websites, Citing ‘Hostile’ Reporting
South Sudan’s government said it blocked access to Sudan Tribune and Radio Tamazuj, popular websites for news on the war-torn country, accusing them of “hostile” reporting. The block went into effect Monday, Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth said by phone from the capital, Juba. “If they have been disseminating hostile messages towards us then we have the authority to close them,” he said. “So many countries have been closing down, even giving total blackout to such media houses which create hostility.” Paris-based Sudan Tribune didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment sent to its general inquiries address. Radio Tamazuj, which acknowledged it was blocked on its Facebook page, didn’t immediately reply to a message sent on the social-media website. Bloomberg

Malian Soldiers’ Bodies Recovered after ‘Jihadist’ Attack
The bodies of eight missing Malian soldiers have been found following a presumed jihadist attack on July 9, official sources told AFP on Monday. The soldiers were ambushed in Mali’s northeast and two escaped with their lives, but until now there had been no trace of the missing. “Eight soldiers missing after clashes with terrorists near Menaka have been found Monday killed by bullets,” a senior army official told AFP. A local official in the area said eight bodies were found in Inkadogotane, 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the town of Menaka, and added that they were captured alive before being executed. News 24

Militants Kill 5 Police in Attacks in Egypt’s Sinai
Islamic militants launched a series of attacks against Egyptian police in the northern Sinai Peninsula on Monday, killing five of them and wounding another 11, security officials said. They say the militants opened fire on an armored vehicle before setting it ablaze in the city of el-Arish. When reinforcements arrived, the militants set off a roadside bomb. The two attacks killed a total of five policemen and wounded another five, the officials said. Another roadside bomb struck a third armored vehicle near the airport south of the city, wounding six police. Earlier in the day, Egyptian F-16 fighter jets struck gatherings of suspected militants in different areas across northern Sinai, killing 30, officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.  AP

DR Congo Militia Forces Kidnap Two Priests
Ethnic militia forces have kidnapped two Roman Catholic priests in the troubled North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials said Monday. Kidnappings are frequent in this eastern part of the DRC, related to communal conflict between the Nande and Hunde communities on one hand and ethnic Hutus on the other. The two priests come from the Nande group. “The curate Charles Kipasa and the vicar Jean-Pierre Akili … were taken overnight by Mai-Mai who led them off to the mountains. They also took two vehicles and two motorbikes,” Bishop Paluku Sikuli of the Beni-Butembo region told AFP. “I confirm the kidnapping of two priests from the Catholic parish of Bunyuka by unknown armed persons,” the administrator of the province’s northern Beni district, Mr Amisi Kalonda, said. The East African

An Interview with Moïse Katumbi, DR Congo’s Would-Be President
For a man many see as the natural heir to the presidency of the vast and populous Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Moïse Katumbi cuts a fairly reserved figure. A gentle and sometimes bashful tycoon-turned-politician, one gets the sense that if he were his biblical namesake, his instinct would be to strike a behind-the-scenes deal with the Red Sea rather than command it to part with booming authority. Whatever his approach, however, it has put him in good stead. The son of a Jewish father from Greece and a Congolese mother, Katumbi, now a youthful 52, first made his mark in business. He inherited a role in the already-successful family company in Katanga province, but expanded its activities in mining and logistics. All of which helped make him one of the Congo’s richest people. From 2007 to 2015, he was governor of Katanga, which saw impressive economic growth and development. Under his presidency of the Lubumbashi football team TP Mazembe, the club has won the African Champions League three times. African Arguments

With Clooney Assist, US Aid Groups Team Up on Africa Crisis
Eight of the world’s biggest aid groups are joining together in a new campaign to get more attention in the U.S. for what the United Nations calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in more than 70 years. More than 20 million people are at risk of famine in nine African nations and Yemen, according to the United Nations. But Richard Stearns, president of Federal Way, Washington-based World Vision, says the situation has been overshadowed amid the controversies surrounding President Donald Trump’s administration. “We have seen that America is very distracted, and I think you have another phenomena — that some Americans are just so fed up with the news,” Stearns told The Seattle Times . Instead of competing for donations, the organizations — U.S.-based groups or the U.S. arms of international charities — are banding together in a fundraising appeal launching this week. The Global Emergency Response Coalition ‘s effort is backed by $1 million in matching donations each from the PepsiCo Foundation and the investment firm BlackRock, with additional corporate sponsors that include Twitter and Google. AP

Mozambique to Default on Another Bond Repayment
Mozambique will default on another Eurobond repayment due this week due to economic and fiscal problems that gives the state “extremely limited” capacity to repay any money this year, the finance ministry said on Monday. The repayment on the 2023 Eurobond – the disastrous $850 million ‘tuna bond’ – had been due on July 18. Reuters

Libya’s Fayez Al-Sarraj Announces Political Roadmap, Calls for Polls next Year
The head of Libya’s UN-backed unity government has announced a new political roadmap for his violence-wracked country, with presidential and parliamentary elections to be held in March 2018. The Government of National Accord has been struggling to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016, with a rival administration based in the remote east refusing to recognize it. “Presidential and parliamentary elections will be organized in March 2018,” GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj said in a speech broadcast on television late on Saturday. He said the polls aimed to elect a new president and parliament whose mandate will be of “three years maximum or until the drafting and organization of a referendum for a constitution”. Sarraj spoke haltingly and sounded tired as he delivered his speech flanked by Libya’s flag and behind him the slogan “Libya, together towards reconciliation and construction”. AFP

Angola Rejects EU Poll Observers’ Demands
Angola has rejected conditions demanded by an EU election observer mission that had been preparing to witness next month’s polls in the country, state media reported Monday. The European team had called for unfettered access to polling stations across the vast southern African nation during the August 23 vote. “So this is Africa. And we do not expect anyone to impose on us their means of observing elections or to give lectures,” said Foreign Minister Georges Chicoti according to the Journal de Angola newspaper. Mail and Guardian

Ex-Leader’s Supporters Resist Transition of Power in Gambia
Gambia’s new government is struggling to enforce its sovereignty in some areas still loyal to former President Yahya Jammeh. Clashes between pro-Jammeh protesters and a Senegal-led coalition of West African forces, who have been there to ensure a peaceful transition of power, left one dead and several injured in early June. Some residents accuse Senegalese troops of abusing people. Al Jazeera

Guinea’s Opposition Plans August Rally
Guinea’s main opposition party is planning a nationwide rally to call for local council elections, which haven’t been held since President Alpha Conde took office in 2010. Opposition officials are worried the president is delaying the elections to stay in power for a third term. Al  Jazeera

Chinese Overfishing Threatens West African Economies
Foreign fishing vessels, many from China, prowl the waters off West Africa every day. They capture millions of fish — catches that used to go to local boats. The fish are then shipped to China, Europe and the United States, satisfying a global demand for seafood and fueling a multi-billion-dollar industry. The foreign vessels make life hard for West African fishermen. Foreign trawlers from Asia and Europe have cost West Africa’s economy 300,000 jobs and $2 billion in income, according to John Hocevar, a marine biologist with Greenpeace. However, what to do about the problem — and possible damage to regional fish populations — has eluded experts and officials. VOA

Tourists Shrug off Possible Poll Violence for Wildebeest Migration
Tourists to Kenya are shrugging off fears of potential violence during elections in August, pouring into the country in droves for a chance of seeing the annual wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara. Tour operators and hoteliers are reporting near full capacity, in large part because of safari-lovers hoping to see the hundreds of thousands of wildebeest that run the gauntlet of hungry crocodiles as they cross the Mara river in search of greener pastures on the Kenya-Tanzania border. Elections, often a fraught and tense occasions in Kenya, are being held on August 8. But the chance of seeing the wildebeest in their splendour has pushed concerns about a repetition of post-election violence in 2008, when 1,200 people were killed, to the back of most tourists’ minds. “We are having a near full capacity in terms of business through the months of July and August,” said Kenya Tourism Board communications manager Wausi Walya. Reuters

WhatsApp Is Hurting Mobile Revenue Growth in Africa — and Telcos Want to Fight Back
Mobile revenue growth has declined in sub-Saharan Africa since 2013 and is expected to continue its downward trend until the end of the decade—despite a fast-growing subscriber base. Much of the drop has been attributed to the use of over-the-top (OTT) messaging services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. With more subscribers showing a preference to chat and make voice calls via these platforms, there’s an “increasing cannibalization of traditional voice and messaging revenues,” according to a new Mobile Economy report by the GSM Association (GSMA) trade organization. Unlike in more advanced markets, phone operators in sub-Saharan Africa are still investing in adding voice users which along with SMS text messages drives the majority of revenue. The region is expected to add another 100 million subscribers in the next three years. This is all happening as smartphone penetration and mobile-data networks also grow—and with more users starting to use apps like WhatsApp, Messenger and Skype. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones