Africa Media Review for November 13, 2018

Toll Rises to 53 Dead from Bomb Blasts in Somalia’s Capital
Somali hospital and police sources say the death toll from Friday’s bombings outside a hotel in Mogadishu has risen to 53 with over 100 injured. Capt. Mohamed Hussein, a senior Somali police officer, said many of the injured suffered horrific wounds, raising fears that death toll could rise further. The figure given by Hussein is consistent with submissions from hospitals. Ahmed Yusuf, a nurse at Madina hospital, said that Mogadishu’s hospitals are coping to treat the influx of wounded victims who continued to come in Saturday. Four car bombs by Islamic extremists exploded outside a hotel in the capital, Mogadishu, Friday afternoon. After the three explosions in front of the hotel, a fourth blast hit as medics attempted to rescue the injured. Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the bombs. AP

Cameroon School Kidnap: Final Four Hostages Freed in Bamenda
The final four hostages of the 82 people kidnapped from a boarding school in Cameroon have been released. The principal, one teacher and two students were dropped off on the outskirts of Bafut, a town 15 miles (24 km) from Bamenda, local officials say. It remains unclear who was behind the kidnapping in Bamenda – the government has blamed Anglophone rebels but they have denied responsibility. Separatists took up arms in English-speaking parts of Cameroon a year ago. Bamenda journalist Peter Tah said a family member of one of the hostages, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the four had been released at around 08:00 (07:00 GMT) local time. He added that the school’s principal was receiving medical attention. Family sources said she had been traumatised by her ordeal. … “From what I gather, the gunmen tried to find out which of the children had parents who worked for the government,” Tah told the BBC. “People whose parents worked for the government were held and separated for more questioning. The last two children were held because of their parents’ jobs.” BBC

Cameroon: Military Tribunal Drops Case against Journalist Mimi Mefo
The Douala military tribunal has dropped all charges and discontinued the case against Equinoxe television and radio journalist Mimi Mefo, sources have said. The journalist who was released from the Douala Central prison in New Bell on Saturday November 10 appeared before the court today to face charges brought before her by the tribunal. She was accused of propagating false information and attempt on state security after she was quizzed on Wednesday November by judicial authorities before she was later detained the same day. Journal du Cameroon

Ethiopia Arrests 63 Suspected of Rights Abuses, Corruption
Ethiopia has arrested 63 intelligence officials, military personnel and businesspeople on allegations of rights violations and corruption, the country’s attorney general announced Monday. The sweeping high-profile arrests carried out in recent days are a result of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s order for a months-long investigation into misdoings under the previous government. Attorney General Berhanu Tsegaye told the media that some of those arrested are suspected of abuses of prisoners including “beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution and even killings.” Some of those arrested are accused of mismanaging a state-owned military corporation, the Metal and Engineering Corporation, that was looted in a multi-billion dollar corruption scheme, he said. AP

Madagascar Ex-president Rajoelina Leads in Vote Count – Initial Results
Former Madagascar president Andry Rajoelina was leading after last week’s presidential election aimed at ending a political crisis, ahead of rival Marc Ravalomanana, according to preliminary results released on Sunday. Rajoelina and Ravalomanana were frontrunners in the 7 November vote in the poor Indian Ocean island that has struggled with instability since independence from France in 1960. After counting from 30.6% of polling stations, Rajoelina was ahead with 40.9% of the votes against 36% for Ravalomanana, the CENI electoral authority said. Outgoing president Hery Rajaonarimampianina had 7% of ballots, it said. His attempts to change the electoral laws this year backfired, sparking nearly three months of sometimes violent protests in the capital Antananarivo. The demonstrators forced Rajaonarimampianina to accept a “consensus” government tasked with organising the election in an impoverished country burdened by a long history of coups and unrest. Madagascar’s electoral regulations mean the two frontrunners will be forced into a run-off in December if neither manages to secure more than 50% of the votes in the first round ballot. AFP

175 Dead, over 10,000 Affected by Nigeria Cholera Outbreak
Suspected cholera cases have jumped in northeast Nigeria where Boko Haram violence has forced tens of thousands of people to seek refuge in crowded camps, the Norwegian Refugee Council said Monday. The humanitarian group said 10,000 people have been affected by the fast-spreading cholera outbreak and 175 people have died in the northeast states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe as of early November 2018. “One of the major causes of the outbreak is the congestion in the camps that makes it difficult to provide adequate water, sanitation and hygiene services,” said Janet Cherono, the NRC’s programme manager in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. “The rainy season has also worsened the conditions. If more land is not urgently provided for camp decongestion and construction of health and sanitation facilities, Nigeria is steering towards yet another cholera outbreak in 2019.” Nigeria has seen regular cholera outbreaks since Boko Haram took up arms against the government in 2009. … Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, suffers from a high-rate of water-borne diseases as a result of dilapidated infrastructure and under-investment. AFP

AMISOM Ready to Withdraw
The African Union Mission in Somalia is going ahead with plans to withdraw its troops in February next year even though some troops-contributing countries are not keen on leaving. In a recent workshop in Nairobi, Amisom top brass, representative of Somalia government and African Union developed a document that will provide an effective framework for the gradual transition of security responsibilities to Somali institutions. Known as the Concept of Operations (CONOPs), the document will guide Amisom’s activities and operations for the 2018-2021 period, marking the final phase of the transition and eventual exit from Somalia. … The document, which will have to be approved by AU and senior defence officials of troops-contributing countries, looks at Amisom’s transition plan vis-à-vis the political and security situation in the country. … Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta for most of this year has been critical of the withdrawal as “unfortunate timing” and that the UN and AU should be practical because the Somalia National Army and other security agencies are not yet ready to take on full responsibility for security. Uganda on the other hand has issued a proposal to donors that would enable its troops to remain in Somalia under a new arrangement provided there are funded. The East African

DRC Opposition Picks Martin Fayulu as Presidential Candidate
Top opposition leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have picked legislator Martin Fayulu as their joint candidate for presidential elections due next month. The decision was taken on Sunday after days of negotiations in the Swiss city of Geneva. The meeting included two heavyweights – former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba and ex-Provincial Governor Moise Katumbi – who have both been barred from standing in the long-delayed December 23 election. Fayulu, the 62-year-old leader of the Commitment for Citizenship and Development party (ECIDE), is expected to be the main challenger against Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister backed by outgoing President Joseph Kabila. … The choice of Fayulu was seen as a surprise development, with Felix Tshisekedi – son of longtime opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi – widely regarded as the frontrunner before the announcement. Al Jazeera

Current Ebola Outbreak is Worst in Congo’s History – Ministry
The current Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the most severe in the country’s history with 319 confirmed and probable cases, the health ministry said late on Friday. The haemorrhagic fever is believed to have killed 198 people in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, where attacks by armed groups and community resistance to health officials have complicated the response. Congo has suffered 10 Ebola outbreaks since the virus was discovered near the eponymous Ebola River in 1976. “The current epidemic is the worst in the history of DRC,” Jessica Ilunga, a spokeswoman for the ministry told Reuters. With over 300 cases the epidemic also ranks as third worst in the history of the continent, following the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa where over 28,000 cases were confirmed and an outbreak in Uganda in 2000 involving 425 cases. World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday that security represented the primary challenge in the current epidemic, followed by community mistrust. Reuters

Over 300,000 Congolese Refugees Forced to Leave Angola
The mass repatriation to the DRC is creating an increasingly heavy burden on an already unstable, conflict-weary region. The United Nations is warning that the mass eviction of Congolese refugees, over 330,000 of them, from Angola may trigger a humanitarian crisis. Last month alone, hundreds of thousands of people who are originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo were forced to leave Angola following an order targeting, what the Angolan government calls, “irregular migrants”. Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari reports. Al Jazeera

Hundreds Flee Their Homes after Boko Haram Raid in Northeast Nigeria
Hundreds of villagers fled their homes in Nigeria’s northeast late on Saturday after an attack by Islamist militants from the Boko Haram group, militia officials and witnesses said. The raid highlighted fragile security in Nigeria’s northeast, where the army is still battling to end a conflict that erupted in 2009. “One disabled person was allegedly killed while 65 houses were burnt, 200 cows and 300 flock of sheep and goats were carted away,” the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said. “Injured victims have been provided with first aid and humanitarian needs assessment is being conducted to enable the mobilisation of immediate relief assistance,” it said. Militants arrived in trucks in Jimmi, 5km from Maiduguri city, and opened fire, setting homes ablaze and also attacking an informal refugee camp. AFP

Libyan Players in Italy for Fresh Bid to Solve Crisis
Libya’s key political players meet with global leaders in Palermo on Monday in the latest bid by major powers to kickstart a long-stalled political process and trigger elections. A summit in Paris in May had seen the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) and eastern Libya strongman Khalifa Haftar agree to hold national polls on December 10, but that date has fallen by the wayside. Acknowledging the chaotic political situation since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011, the UN on Thursday conceded elections will not be viable before at least the spring of 2019. … Analysts say the Sicily summit risks being compromised not only by tensions between Libyan factions, but also the competing agendas of foreign powers. Just as in May, the key Libyan invitees are Haftar, the eastern parliament’s speaker Aguila Salah, GNA head Fayez al-Sarraj and Khaled al-Mechri, speaker of a Tripoli-based upper chamber. AFP

Media Rights Group Indignant over Detention of Its Employees in Tanzania
A media rights group expressed indignation over statements made by officials in Tanzania and South Africa justifying the detention of two of its employees. New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said officials from both countries falsely claimed the two employees — CPJ’s Africa program coordinator Angela Quintal and sub-Saharan Africa representative Muthoki Mumo — were in Tanzania without proper visas when they were detained and interrogated. In a statement Monday, CJP said both women were traveling on valid visas, as part of a fact-finding trip to better understand local press freedom conditions in Tanzania. CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said “we are outraged by their treatment at the hands of Tanzanian authorities,” and said CPJ has “concluded that the intention of Tanzanian authorities was to harass and intimidate our team.” … Press freedom in Tanzanian has come under attack in the last few years by President John Magufuli’s administration, which has implemented harsh legislation and harassed journalists and bloggers, CPJ has said. VOA

Zimbabwe: Tendai Biti’s Trial Commences
The trial of opposition political party leader Tendai Biti will commence on Monday 12 November 2018 at the Harare Magistrates Court. Biti will stand trial on allegations of contravening the Electoral Act. He is accused of unlawfully and unofficially announcing the 30 July 2018 presidential election results. Biti, the Vice-Chairperson of the MDC-Alliance party was arrested on 8 August 2018 after being returned from Zambia under unclear circumstances. He was initially charged with contravening section 66(A)(1) of the Electoral Act for allegedly announcing the results of the presidential elections held in July 2018, as well as contravening section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. Biti is represented by Beatrice Mtetwa and Alec Muchadehama, who are members of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. Kubatana

1 Year after Mugabe Fall, Zimbabwe Asks ‘What Has Changed?’
One year ago the unthinkable happened in Zimbabwe: Robert Mugabe fell from power. Tanks rolled in the streets of the capital, Harare, on November 14, 2017, and the military put Mugabe under house arrest, in reaction to Mugabe’s firing of vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa. Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans danced in the streets to celebrate the end of Mugabe’s repressive rule that had brought ruin to the once prosperous economy. Mugabe, then 92, soon resigned, ending his 37-year rule. A year later Zimbabwe’s economic problems have worsened and restrictions on basic freedoms remain, bringing some Zimbabweans to ask ‘What has changed?’ and ‘Are things better?’ The euphoria at Mugabe’s fall has evaporated. Mnangagwa promised Zimbabwe “a new dawn” but to many the country looks depressingly familiar with long lines at the banks to withdraw paltry amounts of cash and shortages of basic goods have led to the rationing of cooking oil, bottled water and beer. “They played us, we marched for nothing,” Adrea Magoronye, a Harare resident said as she stood in a line for cooking oil at a supermarket. AP

As Slavery Evolves in Mauritania, Silent Victims Prove Harder to Find
Day after day, Aminetou Mint Yarg and her fellow villagers in southern Mauritania haul water from the river and tend to their crops under a burning desert sun. In good years, they grow fields of corn, millet and beans. But the profits are not theirs to reap. “The land belongs to our masters,” says Yarg, referring to members of the light-skinned elite, known as white Moors. When the harvest is good, they come from the city to take their part. Yarg is descended from a family of slaves that have for decades served a family of masters. This is the predominant structure of society in Mauritania, an Islamic republic on the Sahara’s western edge that straddles Arab and black Africa. Today, slavery is criminalized. But such relationships endure, transferred into a modern economy where it is increasingly difficult to find and free the tens of thousands of people being exploited from farms to mansions in the capital. … The Global Slavery Index estimates that two percent of the population, or 90,000 Mauritanians, are enslaved. VOA

Chad Set to Postpone November Vote: Election Panel
Legislative elections in Chad planned for November are set to be postponed to May, a member of the electoral panel organising the vote told AFP Monday. The voting date has been pushed back several times in the central African state. The original mandate of the legislature expired in June 2015, but has been prolonged. “We have scheduled the holding of the legislative elections for the month of May according to our timeline, which will be examined and possibly adopted on Friday,” said Abdramane Djasnabaille of the election commission (CNDP). The 15-strong National Framework for Political Dialogue was formed in April and is made up of members of the ruling majority and the opposition. One of its tasks is to set up the Independent Electoral Committee (CENI). The delay to the vote was because of the need to set up an electoral code, the CENI itself and also to carry out a census of the voting population that takes account of bounder changes, said Djasnabaille. AFP

Pope to Visit Morocco in March in Big Year for Foreign Trips
Pope Francis is going to Morocco in March in what is expected to be a heavy year of foreign travel for the 81-year-old pontiff. The Vatican on Tuesday confirmed the March 30-31 visit to Rabat and Casablanca. Previously, there were rumors that Francis would travel to Marrakesh next month to participate in the adoption of a new U.N. global compact on migration. The March visit is likely to feature migration, as well as touch on relations between Christians and Muslims. Francis has several trips under consideration for 2019, though Morocco is the first to be confirmed. AP

Mozambique Opens $785m Chinese Bridge
Mozambique’s president Filipe Nyusi opened a Chinese-built bridge in the capital Maputo on Saturday that cost $785 million, saying it would help link northern and southern Africa. The twin-tower suspension bridge stands 141 metres above Maputo Bay, is 680 metres-long and joins the city centre to the outlying district of Katembe. “Today is a unique day of our history, the achievement of the dream of (former president) Samora Machel,” Nyusi said at a rally following the inauguration. “With the completion of this bridge… the connection of southern Africa to the north over land and across our country is guaranteed.” … He described China, whose Road and Bridge Corporation began construction in June 2014, as a “brother and friend” of Mozambique. China’s ambassador to Maputo Su Jian attended the opening and described Mozambique as a foreign policy priority for Beijing. Ninety-five percent of the bridge’s cost was financed through loans provided by Chinese lenders. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones