Africa Media Review for March 12, 2018

DRC Opposition Rally behind Exiled Leader Katumbi
Democratic Republic of Congo opposition groups rallied behind exiled figure Moise Katumbi at talks in South Africa on Saturday aimed at forging a united front to fight elections due by the end of the year. Exiled Katumbi led dozens of opposition leaders at the three-day meeting in Johannesburg to map out a strategy for the planned December 23 election to replace President Joseph Kabila. “What brings us here is the rejection of the dictatorship that has taken root in our beautiful country and the desire to build a better world for our compatriots,” Katumbi said in opening remarks to over 100 participants. “Together we will help build the alternative for the future and show the Congolese people that they are not alone,” said Katumbi. He said conditions for credible, fair and honest elections “are far from being fulfilled”. News 24

Fighting, Displacement Cause Hunger to Soar in DRC
The United Nations says hunger is soaring in the Democratic Republic of Congo mainly because of fighting and widespread displacement in Kasai and Tanganyika in Central and Eastern DRC. The United Nations reports 7.7 million people in DRC, mainly in rural areas are suffering from acute hunger. This is a 30 percent increase since 2016 and the situation on the ground does not auger well for the future. Conditions are particularly grim in the Kasai region. Spokeswoman for the World Food Program, Bettina Luescher tells VOA 3.2 million people there — or one in four — are suffering from severe food shortages. “Malnourished children at risk of dying are 300,000. Just think of that — 300,000 little kids. We have 762,000 people that are still displaced,” she said. VOA

Sierra Leone Presidential Poll Set for Julius Maada Bio and Samura Kamara Run-Off
Sierra Leone’s electoral commission said Julius Maada Bio, leader of the opposition People’s Party, was about 15,000 votes ahead of rival Samura Kamara, with 75 percent of the ballots counted. According to partial results, Bio had 43.4 percent of the vote, while Kamara of the ruling All People’s Congress (APC) had 42.6 percent. The other two main candidates — Kandeh Yumkella and Samuel Sam-Sumana — were on 7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively. Full results are expected in the next few days. If no candidate garners the 55 percent needed to win the first round, the vote will go to a run-off. Deutsche Welle

Mauritius President to Step Down Amid Row over Credit Card Spending
The president of Mauritius, who was accused of using a credit card issued by a charity to buy clothes and jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars, will step down, the prime minister announced on Friday. Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth told reporters that Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, the first female president of the island nation off the east coast of Africa, would resign after Monday, when the country marks its 50th anniversary. “The president of the republic told me that she would resign from office and we agreed on the date of her departure,” Mr. Jugnauth said in Port Louis, the capital, according to the BBC. He did not provide the exact date of her departure, but he said her resignation would take place before Parliament returns at the end of the month. Reuters

Burundi Leader Named ‘Eternal Supreme Guide’ by Party
Burundi’s ruling party has bestowed the title of “eternal supreme guide” on President Pierre Nkurunziza, a party official confirmed Sunday, as critics claimed he wants to lock in power for life. “He is our elder, our father, our adviser,” CNDD-FDD secretary general Evariste Ndayishimiye said in a video sent to AFP whose authenticity was confirmed by an official. A party statement issued after a meeting Saturday of the party’s top leadership in Nkurunziza’s native Buye in the north of the former Belgian colony did not spell out the implications of the title. The 54-year-old former rebel leader has ruled the densely populated central African country since 2005 after a devastating civil war. Daily Monitor

Kenya: Odinga Met President Kenyatta to Avoid ‘Large Loss of Life’, Says Advisor
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga decided to hold a surprise meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta to prevent further bloodshed and possible ethnic conflict, a top advisor to Odinga has told RFI. The two rivals met on Friday for the first time since last year’s controversial election, surprising many by delivering a joint statement and announcing a programme to overcome their differences. “The negotiations cover all the ills that Kenya has been suffering from and which have built up even more strongly in the last six to eight months,” said Salim Lone, a long-time advisor to the leader of the opposition NASA coalition. RFI

Opposition Alliance in Kenya Seen ‘Dead’ as Odinga Breaks Ranks
Kenya’s main opposition alliance was cast into disarray after its leader Raila Odinga broke ranks and agreed to a truce with President Uhuru Kenyatta following a seven-month standoff over disputed elections. Odinga said March 9 he was abandoning a defiance campaign aimed at toppling Kenyatta and will work with him on fostering national unity instead — an announcement that caught the other three main leaders of his National Super Alliance by surprise. The ructions in the opposition will help Kenyatta consolidate power during his second and final term and are a boon for the ruling Jubilee Party as it gears up for the next elections in 2022. “Nasa is now dead and its epitaph written,” thanks to Odinga’s decision to strike his own deal, said Peter Kagwanja, chief executive officer of the Africa Policy Institute, based in the capital, Nairobi. “The ideological discordance is clear and its leaders have fallen apart.”  Bloomberg

Food Ration Cuts Are Becoming the Norm as Aid Agencies Struggle to Keep Up
Facing a massive funding shortfall, the World Food Program in January cut rations for Congolese refugees in Rwanda by 25%. Protests against those cuts turned deadly on February 27th when Rwandan police fired into a crowd, killing 11 refugees. This incident was yet the latest example of an exacerbating crisis in Central Africa where several countries are struggling under the weight of refugees from DRC, Burundi and South Sudan. Making matters worse, these forgotten crises suffer from a severe lack of international funding, recently leading to aid agencies cutting food aid to the refugees once again. The situation now facing both refugees and their host countries is dire, fueling further instability in a reminder of why proper funding, programming and attention is needed for refugees around the world. Africa currently hosts an estimated 18 million refugees and displaced peoples, roughly 26 percent of all refugees in the world. UN Dispatch

Ethiopia Command Post Says 9 Civilians Killed by Mistake
Ethiopian security forces mistakenly killed nine civilians in Moyale, located on the country’s southern border with Kenya, according to a command post established to oversee Ethiopia’s state of emergency. Five members of Ethiopia’s National Defense Forces involved in the killings have been disarmed and are under investigation, the command post stated. “A special armed unit set up in the border area to take measures against the Oromo Liberation Front militants mistakenly attacked civilians that resulted in the deaths of nine people,” said a statement issued by the command post, adding that 12 other civilians were also injured in the incident. “The investigation will be concluded in a short time and the result will be announced to the public.” AP

In Nigeria, Distraught Parents Demand Answers after Boko Haram Kidnaps 110 Girls
A mural on the outside wall of Dapchi Government Girls Science and Technology College in Yobe state, northeast Nigeria, is symbolic: It depicts a teacher leading a young girl to school. But what strikes you most about the painting of the woman and girl in pink is the bullet holes: both the teacher and girl are riddled with them. On the night of Feb. 19, armed men opened fire, violating the sanctity of this girls’ boarding school. They abducted 110 of the school’s 900 girls. The attack was likely the work of the extremist group Boko Haram. These were clearly not random shots, because many other murals decorating the same wall remain untouched. The message in the bullet-pocked image is unmistakable – that girls must not go to school because “Western education is haram” or sinful, a rough translation of Boko Haram’s name and its oft-repeated mantra. NPR

Curfew Imposed in Nigeria over Herder-Farmers Violence
Rural communities in Taraba state, eastern Nigeria, were on Friday on indefinite lockdown as the authorities tried to contain mounting violence between cattle herders and farmers. Police spokesperson David Misal said a round-the-clock curfew has been imposed in affected areas “due to the escalation of violence between Fulani and Mambilla ethnic groups”. Nigeria has been gripped since the start of the year with an increase in clashes between the largely nomadic herders and farmers over land, water and grazing rights. At least 10 people were killed in several days of violence in Taraba last week into the weekend, while some 24 lost their lives in the central state of Benue in the last few days. AFP

Algeria to Host African Conference on Counterterrorism in April
Algeria will host a high-level African meeting on combating terrorism-financing next month, Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel announced Sunday. Following his talks with visiting Chairperson of African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki in Algiers, Messahel told reporters that the meeting will be held on April 9, as it has been approved by the AU Peace and Security Council in September 2014 to enhance cooperation in combating terrorism among the African states. Messahel pointed out that the meeting is of great importance given the current circumstances, as it will be an opportunity to exchange views on counterterrorism laws within the member states, and ultimately draw up unified positions between them in this field. It also aims to identify the role of African bodies working in the field of combating terrorism, money laundering, smuggling and crime, he added. Xinhua

AMISOM Urges UN to Rescind Withdrawal of Troops Resolution
The troop-contributing countries to peacekeepers in Somalia now want the United Nations Security Council to reconsider its resolution on phased withdrawal issued last September. The countries — Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Djibouti — are concerned that the Council’s resolution that called for withdrawal and gradual handover of security responsibilities to the Somali security forces, is not realistic and would lead to a reversal of the gains made by the peacekeepers. The Summit of troop-contributing countries (TCCs) held in Kampala, Uganda a week ago, decided that while the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) has recovered 80 per cent of Somalia in collaboration with the Somalia National Army (SNA), the situation remains fragile and Al Shabaab is likely to bounce back if the resolution is implemented. The East African

Turkey to Rebuild Somali Parliament
Somalia has signed an agreement with Turkey to rebuilt the former’s parliament in Mogadishu known as the People’s House. The Speaker of Somalia’s Federal Parliament, Prof Mohamed Osman Jawari signed the $100 million deal with the Turkish ambassador to Somalia Olgan Bekar in Mogadishu. Prof Jawari said the project would be undertaken in several phases. “The reconstruction will begin with a controlled demolition of the historic building,” said the Speaker referring to the House constructed in the 1960s. He disclosed that a temporary building at Villa Hargeisa in Mogadishu would be used for parliamentary functions during the construction of the new one. The East African

Tillerson Flies to Chad, Nigeria
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, Monday where he will meet with Chadian President Idriss Deby. Later Monday, the top U.S. diplomat flies to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, to confer with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. Tillerson resumed his normal schedule in Kenya Sunday after canceling events the day before because he was “not feeling well.” He laid a wreath at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi Sunday at a ceremony to honor those killed and injured in a bombing there 20 years ago. VOA

Lightning Strike at Rwanda Church Kills 16
At least 16 people were killed in Rwanda and 140 others injured when lightning struck a Seventh Day Adventist church in the country’s south, said a provincial governor. The churchgoers were injured and rushed to a nearby hospital, where two are in serious condition, said Rose Mureshyankwano. She said 17 of those injured are still in the hospital while the rest have been discharged. A similar incident occurred on Friday when lightning struck a group of 18 students, killing one. Last October, lightning killed 18 people in different parts of the country. Lightning strikes are frequent across Rwanda, which has many hills and mountains, and the country’s police record a number of human and livestock deaths each year. Time

DR Congo Signs New Mining Law despite Companies’ Opposition
The Democratic Republic of Congo has moved to increase taxes on mining firms and increase government royalties from the industry despite fierce opposition from international mining companies. President Joseph Kabila signed a new mining code into law on Friday. The country is Africa’s biggest producer of copper and cobalt, a vital component in mobile phone batteries. Foreign mining firms strongly opposed the law, saying their operations in DR Congo would stop being profitable. BBC

China Floods Africa with Needed Dollars, Stoking US Concern
The new electrified rail line snakes through the African desert, charting a course from a port along the Djibouti coast to Addis Ababa, the capital of land-locked Ethiopia. The Chinese built the railway, and part of the port, and the new military base next door. On the other end of the line, Chinese dollars financed Addis Ababa’s new light rail, and the new ring road system, and the silver African Union headquarters that towers over the city. Across the Atlantic Ocean, America has noticed. From Djibouti to Ethiopia, Kenya to Egypt, the United States is sounding the alarm that the Chinese money flooding Africa comes with significant strings attached. The warnings carry distinct neocolonial undertones: With Beijing’s astonishing investments in ports, roads and railways, the US says, come dependency, exploitation and intrusion on nations’ basic sovereignty. AP

What’s the World’s Fastest-Growing Economy? Ghana Contends for the Crown
As recently as the 1980s, the West African nation of Ghana was in crisis, crippled by hunger after a series of military coups. But it has held peaceful elections since 1992, and its economic outlook turned considerably brighter about a decade ago, with the discovery of major offshore oil deposits. Now, as oil prices rise again and the country’s oil production rapidly expands, Ghana is on track to make a remarkable claim for a country mired in poverty not long ago: It is likely to have one of the world’s fastest-growing economies this year, according to the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Brookings Institution. Its projected growth in 2018, between 8.3 and 8.9 percent, might outpace even India, with its booming tech sector, and Ethiopia, which over the last decade has been one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies thanks to expanding agricultural production and coffee exports. The New York Times