Africa Media Review for July 27, 2018

Uganda Top Court Backs Lifting of Age Limit, Rejects Parliament Term Extension
Uganda’s Constitutional Court delivered its ruling on the consolidated presidential age limit petition at the High Court in Mbale on Thursday. The three main issues the court was to rule on were the lifting of the age caps, extension of the term of Parliament and the raid on the House last year. In the verdict, the five-judge bench, by a majority of 4-1, upheld the removal of the 75-year age cap that allows President Yoweri Museveni, now 73 and in office for 32 years, to seek a sixth term. The court unanimously rejected the extension of the tenure of the presidency and Parliament from five to seven years, stating it was unconstitutional to amend the law without subjecting it to a referendum. This means that elections are due in 2021. The East African

Nigeria Farmer-Herder Conflict Now Deadlier than Boko Haram
Nigeria now faces a deadlier threat than its own Boko Haram insurgency, with fighting between farmers and herdsmen over scare resources killing far more people this year, a new report said Thursday. The violence “threatens to become even deadlier” and could undermine national stability ahead of elections next year, the International Crisis Group report says, adding that the conflict “has taken on dangerous religious and ethnic dimensions.” More than 1,300 Nigerians died from the farmer-herder conflicts in the first half of this year, while the death toll from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram’s insurgency was about 250. AP

U.S. Warns Congo’s Kabila That ‘Time for Posturing Is Over’
The United States said on Thursday it regrets that Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has failed to publicly state that he will not run for re-election in a planned December election, warning him that “the time for posturing is over.” Kabila said in a speech a week ago that a presidential election in December would go ahead, but he declined to say whether he would defy term limits to stand for re-election. Some of his allies have in recent weeks advanced a legal argument they say would justify his candidacy. “He is not eligible under Congolese law to seek a third term. The United States regrets that President Kabila did not use his July 19th address to parliament to resolve the uncertainty regarding his intentions,” U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Jonathan Cohen told the United Nations Security Council. Reuters

UN: Right Conditions Needed for Credible Elections in DRC
The head of the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo warned Thursday that the right conditions are not yet in place for presidential elections this December, and without progress, the credibility of the vote could be compromised. “As violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms continue to impact negatively on democratic space, some peaceful demonstrations are suppressed,” U.N. envoy Leila Zerrougui told Security Council members. “Civil society actors and political opponents continue to be arbitrarily arrested and media workers threatened.” Zerrougui said the parties have not implemented confidence-building measures, and the security situation, particularly in the eastern part of the country, remains volatile and is deteriorating in some areas. VOA

Memories of Violence Accompany Zimbabweans to Historic Polls
When Zimbabweans go to the polls on July 30, 23 presidential candidates will be vying for their vote. Zimbabwe’s harmonised election comes eight months after a military intervention which forced a change of guard in November 2017. The election is unique in that it is the first since independence from Britain in 1980 in which former President Robert Mugabe will not be a candidate. And for the first time since 2002, international observers have been invited to observe the ballot, which could never have been imagined under Mugabe. A record 23 presidential candidates have been successfully nominated to run for president, while more than 100 parties have shown interest, the largest number since the country gained independence. Daily Maverick

Zimbabwe Opposition Goes Where Followers Once Feared Death
Zimbabwe’s main opposition party has been able to campaign in what were once no-go rural areas for the first time in almost two decades, bolstering its prospects of winning next weeks election. The change, following the end of Robert Mugabes 37-year rule, has let the traditionally urban-based Movement for Democratic Change draw big crowds to rallies in rural districts, where more than half the southern African nations estimated 13 million people live. Its a spin-off from new President Emmerson Mnangagwas pledge to hold a free election — a key part of a drive to attract investment and rebuild the shattered economy. People are interested to see these guys because they’ve never seen them before, small-scale farmer Jeremiah Mahacha, 56, said by phone from Gokwe in central Zimbabwe. Wearing their red T-shirts would mean a beating or death in the old days, but now we see them and want to hear what they’re saying with our own ears. Bloomberg

Ethiopia PM Meets Leader of Opposition Ginbot 7 in United States
Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed on Thursday met with the leader of Patriotic Ginbot 7 (PG7), an opposition group that had been previously designated as a terrorist organisation. Abiy, who is currently in the United States to rally the Ethiopian diaspora to support ongoing reforms in the country, met Berhanu Nega at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. Details of the meeting are yet to emerge, but it should be recalled that Abiy also met the co-founder of PG7, Andargachew Tsige, soon after his death sentence was rescinded in May. PG7 which has since been removed from the list of terrorist organisations by parliament, announced in June that it had suspended armed operations, saying the ongoing reforms had convinced it to return to Ethiopia to pursue a peaceful struggle. Africa News

Spanish Police Clash with Migrants after 800 Storm Morocco Border Fence
About 150 people were injured Thursday after migrants — some wielding electric saws, shears and mallets — stormed a border fence to enter Spain’s northern African enclave of Ceuta from Morocco, Spanish police and the Red Cross said. Some 800 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa clashed with the Guardia Civil at 6:35 a.m. Some also employed aerosols as flame throwers, plastic containers filled with quicklime and excrement, and sticks and stones to keep officers at bay, police said. In all, 602 migrants crossed into Ceuta; 586 were placed in a temporary migrant holding center, police said. CNN

Algerian Army Chief Rejects Role in Presidential Election
Algeria’s army chief has told political parties to keep the military out of next year’s presidential election, vigorously pushing back against calls for the army to oversee a transition period. Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a speech Thursday that the army shouldn’t be part of “political distractions.” He said its loyalty is to the people and it is “above political parties.” The spring 2019 presidential election has thrown the North African nation into a slow-burning political crisis with the prospect that ailing, 81-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika may seek a fifth term. VOA

Egypt President Ratifies Law Protecting Military Officers
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday ratified a bill that could immunize senior military officers from future prosecution related to violence after the 2013 military overthrow of an elected but divisive Islamist president. The law, published in the official gazette on Thursday, grants senior military officers selected by al-Sisi rewards including immunity from investigation for alleged offenses after the suspension of Egypt’s former constitution in July 3, 2013 until parliament assumed its duties on January 10, 2016. Former president Mohammed Morsi was ousted on July 3, 2013. Any legal action against the selected officers requires permission from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces under the new law. They are also privileged with “special immunities” like those granted to diplomats. AP

Rift Looms as Alliance Suspends Its Member over Peace Deal
The power sharing deal signed by South Sudan United Movement/Army (SSUM/A), a member of the South Sudan opposition alliance, could cause fresh crisis in the group. South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), a consortium of nine opposition entities, on Thursday decided to suspend the membership of SSUM/A led by General Peter Gatdet Yak for taking a unilateral decision to sign a peace deal with the government and the opposition group led by former vice president Riek Machar in Khartoum on Wednesday. The alliance’s members except General Peter Gatdet Yak’s group had declined to initial the peace agreement, saying some pending issues in the document needed more work. In a suspension letter seen by Radio Tamazuj, the group suspended the membership of SSUM/A for signing the latest version of the power sharing proposal in defiance of SSOA leadership. Radio Tamazuj

Bread, Fuel Crisis Deepens across Sudan
The crisis of bread and fuel, particularly diesel, has escalated to the highest levels in the capital, Khartoum and the states amid surge of prices for essential commodities in the markets. The price of a pint of milk in Khartoum has amounted to SDG 12 (*$0.43), an egg to SDG 90 ($3.20) and a kilo of lamb SDG 220 ($7.80) Various bakeries in Khartoum are experiencing long queues for bread and fuel stations are seeing long queues of vehicles to get fuel amid farmers’ complaints in the states about the failed agricultural season because of scarcity of diesel and the continued rise in the price of the Dollar against the Sudanese Pound. Former banker and economic analyst Hafiz Ismail described the situation as very serious as the Sudanese Pound value has continued to decrease against other foreign currencies, especially the US Dollar. Radio Dabanga

U.S. to Re-Establish Military Relations with Gambia
H.E. Ambassador Alexander Laskaris, deputy to the Commander for Civil-Military Engagement, United States Africa Command (AfriComm) has announced that the US is committed to supporting the Gambia’s Security Sector Reform program. During a closed door meeting with His Excellency President Adama Barrow at the State House in Banjul on Wednesday morning, the one time US Ambassador to Guinea Conakry and deputy Consul to Liberia, Ambassador Laskaris, said they have formally re-established relations with The Gambia Armed Forces and government with the hope of progressing the security reforms agenda. “It is our belief that the military should be a highly professional force that does not have to engage in politics or any civilian matters. We will be working in rebuilding the security forces of The Gambia and resuming our traditional relations with them in support of the democratically elected government of The Gambia,” Ambassador Laskaris said. Freedom Newspaper

Cyprus Records Shed Light on Libya’s Hidden Millions
Newly leaked records from Cyprus show how a Gaddafi-era procurement official who stole millions from his country’s government used offshore companies and multiple bank accounts to channel and launder the proceeds abroad. […] From 1989 until 2011, Ali Ibrahim Dabaiba, once mayor of the coastal city of Misrata, controlled the Organization for Development of Administrative Centers (ODAC), a major public agency tasked with developing the country’s infrastructure. During his tenure as its director, Dabaiba awarded 3,091 contracts with a total value of 45.4 billion Libyan dinars (US$ 33 billion). In an interview to the Oxford Business Group, Dabaiba said that ODAC’s budget in 2008 was $6.8 billion. The Tripoli-based Libyan authorities believe that Dabaiba may have misappropriated between $6 and $7 billion of that amount using such techniques as charging excessive “commissions” and awarding tenders to companies that were linked to him or that he secretly owned outright. OCCRP

New Ebola Virus Found in Sierra Leone
A new Ebola virus has been found in bats in Sierra Leone, two years after the end of an outbreak that killed over 11 000 across West Africa, the government said on Thursday. It is not yet known whether the new Bombali species of the virus – which researchers say could be transmitted to humans – can develop into the deadly Ebola disease. “At this time, it is not yet known if the Bombali Ebola virus has been transmitted to people or if it causes disease in people but it has the potential to infect human cells,” Amara Jambai, a senior ministry of health official, told AFP. “This is early stages of the findings,” Jambai added, calling on the public to remain calm while awaiting further research. AFP

US Gas Roadmap to Power and Light Sub-Saharan Africa
Kenya and Tanzania are among nine African countries set to benefit from an ambitious US-led initiative to invest in gas-powered power plants. The Gas Roadmap for sub-Saharan Africa, launched in June at the World Gas Conference in Washington, DC, by the US Agency for International Development’s Power Africa coordinator, is an initiative that seeks to add some 16,000MW of gas-fired power in nine countries by 2030. The roadmap is built on the fact that based on known reserves, there is potential for approximately 400GW of gas-generated power in sub-Saharan Africa. The gas roadmap is part of the Power Africa Initiative launched in 2016, which the US is implementing and whose goal is adding 30,000MW of new generation capacity and 60 million new connections by 2030. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones