Africa Media Review for November 20, 2017

Mugabe Defies All Expectations and Declines to Resign as Zimbabwe’s President
Zimbabweans watched in disbelief Sunday as President Robert Mugabe, who they thought was going to resign, instead delivered a meandering speech on state television that made clear the 93-year-old leader has no plans to leave power. In less than a week, Mugabe has survived both a military takeover and the largest public protests in the country’s history, reaffirming his uncanny ability to navigate the political tides. Mugabe said the criticisms leveled against his government “were inescapable.” But he suggested that he could make the necessary reforms to satisfy his critics, a doubtful contention given the overwhelming opposition to his rule. That opposition was underscored Sunday, hours before his speech, when his own party dismissed him as leader. The party, ZANU-PF, also told Mugabe that he must resign by noon Monday or face impeachment proceedings. The Washington Post

Mugabe Ousted as Ruling Zanu-PF Party Chief
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was on Sunday facing the imminent end of his 37-year rule as the once-loyal Zanu-PF party sacked him as its leader and army generals piled pressure on him to resign. President Mugabe’s grip on power was broken last week when the military took over, angered at his wife Grace’s emergence as the leading candidate to succeed the 93-year-old president. On Saturday, tens of thousands of overjoyed demonstrators flooded the streets of Zimbabwe in peaceful celebrations marking the apparent end of his long and authoritarian rule. Outside a Zanu-PF meeting in Harare, a delegate told AFP that President Mugabe had been ousted as party chief and replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was previously Grace Mugabe’s chief rival to succeed the ageing president. The East African

Figure Known as ‘Crocodile’ Could Replace Zimbabwe President 
Emmerson Mnangagwa, elected Sunday as the new leader of Zimbabwe’s ruling political party and positioned to take over as the country’s leader, has engineered a remarkable comeback using skills he no doubt learned from his longtime mentor, President Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa served for decades as Mugabe’s enforcer — a role that gave him a reputation for being astute, ruthless and effective at manipulating the levers of power. Among the population, he is more feared than popular, but he has strategically fostered a loyal support base within the military and security forces. A leading government figure since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980, he became vice president in 2014 and is so widely known as the “Crocodile” that his supporters are called Team Lacoste for the brand’s crocodile logo. AP

Behind Mugabe’s Rapid Fall: A Firing, a Feud and a First Lady
The rapid fall of Zimbabwe’s president, whose legendary guile and ruthlessness helped him outmaneuver countless adversaries over nearly four decades, probably has surprised no one more than Robert Mugabe himself. For years, he was so confident of his safety — and his potency — that he took monthlong vacations away from Zimbabwe after Christmas, never facing any threat during his long, predictable absences. Even at 93, his tight grip on the country’s ruling party and his control over the military made his power seem impervious to question. But in just a matter of days, Mr. Mugabe, who ruled his nation since independence in 1980, was largely stripped of his authority, even as he still clung to the presidency. In a much-anticipated speech on Sunday night, Mr. Mugabe, instead of announcing his resignation as most of the country had expected, stunned Zimbabwe by refusing to say he was stepping down. While he conceded that his country was “going through a difficult patch,” he gave no sign that he recognized, or accepted, how severely the ground had shifted under him in such a short time. The New York Times

Kenya Supreme Court Sides with Incumbent in Presidential Revote
Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday dismissed two petitions seeking to overturn last month’s presidential vote, paving the way for the inauguration of President Uhuru Kenyatta for a second term. The decision is the latest — and, it seems, final — stage of Kenya’s unexpectedly prolonged presidential election cycle, which erupted this weekend into clashes between opposition supporters and the police that were broadcast on live television. Kenya has been through two presidential elections this year, both of which have come before the Supreme Court for review. The court nullified Mr. Kenyatta’s Aug. 8 win, citing irregularities. On Tuesday, it dismissed two petitions against his Oct. 26 victory, saying they lacked merit. The New York Times

Kenya Election: Five Dead as Raila Odinga Returns Home
Five people have been killed in Kenya’s capital Nairobi as police broke up crowds of opposition supporters. At least two of the victims were shot dead, reports said, while others may have been stoned to death by a mob. Riot police were present but did not use any live rounds, a police spokesman said, blaming the deaths on the crowd. The supporters of the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) had gathered to welcome home its leader, Raila Odinga, from an overseas trip. On Monday, the Supreme Court is due to rule on the legality of last month’s re-run election, won by the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta with 98% of the vote. BBC

Ex-Army Chief Leaves Juba, Arrives in Nairobi
South Sudan’s former army chief Paul Malong arrived in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi this afternoon after he was officially released from house arrest by President Salva Kiir. General Paul Malong had been under house arrest in Juba on fears he might leave the capital and launch a rebellion against Kiir’s administration. President Kiir and his former military chief Paul Malong reconciled, a week after a tense standoff in Juba threatened to escalate into violence. The reconciliation happened Thursday at a prayer service at the president’s residence in Juba where Malong said he had no intention of staging a revolt against Kiir’s government. Radio Tamazuj

Regional Troops Begin Training in Eastern Sudan
The Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) will Monday begin wide-ranging military exercises in Sudan, official said. Sudanese Defence minister Mohamed Ali Salim told a press conference in Khartoum that 10 countries would take part in the exercise in eastern Sudan. The more than 1,000 troops are from Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Seychelles, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia and Comoros. Lt Gen Salim pointed out that the exercise, to continue till December 3, would focus on boosting the capabilities of the forces with regard to peacekeeping in the region, conflict and terrorism management and combating human trafficking, among other transnational crimes. The East African

Suspected Jihadists Kill at Least 6 in Northern Burkina Faso
Local government and security officials say suspected jihadists have staged an attack in Burkina Faso’s northern Soum province, killing at least six people. Issa Tamboura, mayor of the provincial capital Djibo, said Friday the heavily armed assailants came on motorbikes and wounded several others. He says they also set fire to a bar before leaving the village of Taouremba. Earlier this week the West African country’s security and education ministers toured Soum province, hoping to encourage fleeing residents and teachers to return. The threat of jihadist assaults has heightened in recent years. Government statistics say more than 133 people have died since 2015 in at least 80 attacks in Burkina Faso. AP

UN Seeks to Put Human Rights Experts into New Sahel Force
The United Nations is seeking to put human rights advisers and monitors into the 5,000-troop African force that is charged with fighting extremists in western Africa’s vast Sahel region. Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Gilmour, the deputy human rights chief who recently visited Mali, said Friday that he told senior military officials from the five countries that protecting human rights “can help unlock” funding for the force. The so called “Group of Five” or G5 nations — Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad — have been grappling with a growing menace from extremists, including the Islamic State group, Boko Haram and groups linked to al-Qaida’s North Africa branch. Gilmour said his office is preparing proposals for the force on protecting human rights which he hopes to send in the next few days.  AP

Sale of Migrants as Slaves in Libya Causes Outrage in Africa and Paris
A CNN report about the sale of African migrants as slaves in the North African nation of Libya has incited outrage in recent days, prompting a protest in central Paris, condemnation by the African Union and an official investigation. Hundreds of protesters, mostly young black people, demonstrated in front of the Libyan Embassy in central Paris on Saturday — with some carrying a sign that said, “Put an end to the slavery and concentration camps in Libya,” and chanting, “Free our brothers!” — three days after CNN aired footage of migrants being auctioned off in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. “We have to mobilize — we can’t let this kind of thing happen,” one of the protesters told the television station France 24. “Did we really need to see such shocking pictures before taking a stand? I don’t think so.” French police officers fired tear gas to disperse the rally, which had turned violent. The New York Times

Italian Fishermen Enjoy Fishing in Libyan Waters under Italian Navy’s Protection
In a blatant violation of Libya’s sovereignty, Italy’s Navy watched over Italian trawlers while fishing in Libya’s territorial waters and prevented, by the threat of force, Libyan Coastguard to stop them. In a video posted by Almarsad online news outlet, two Italian trawlers were seen fishing 20 miles off Libya’s eastern coast on November 16. A Libyan navy officer said an Italian naval vessel ordered them to keep away from the two trawlers and warned against any attempt to intercept them. “This country doesn’t want any good for Libya, it prevented us from arresting the Italian trawlers which are stealing Libya’s wealth”, the officer on board the Libyan Coastguard vessel said, calling on Libyan governments to take action against Italy. The officer indicated that the Italians directed their naval artillery at them in a show of force, but they refused their orders to leave the area. The Libya Observer

After Huge Truck Bombings, U.S. Steps Up Attacks Against Somali Militants
The United States has sharply increased attacks against Qaeda-backed Shabab militants in Somalia in recent days, conducting a flurry of airstrikes in the wake of the country’s deadliest terrorist assault last month and President Trump’s approval of new military authorities to hunt down insurgents around the world. In a five-day stretch beginning Nov. 9, American drones and warplanes carried out six strikes against Shabab fighters outside Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and one strike against Islamic State combatants — one-quarter of the 28 strikes in the country this year. Last year, the military’s Africa Command said it conducted a total of 15 strikes in Somalia. The strikes by armed American drones, which Pentagon officials said killed more than 40 fighters, came a month after a double truck bombing in Mogadishu left more than 380 people dead, and more than 300 others injured. The New York Times

Equatorial Guinea Ruling Party Wins Elections
The Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea (PDGE), which has been in power for nearly 40 years in the country, has once again won the legislative, senatorial and municipal elections of November 12 with nearly 100% of the vote. The president of the National Electoral Commission, Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene announced on Friday that the PDGE and its 14 allied parties get all 75 seats at the senatorial level. At the Chamber of Deputies in Malabo, only a single member of the opposition of the Citizens ‘ Party for Innovation (CI) was elected, leaving 99 seats to the ruling party. Africa News

Israel to Deport 40,000 African Refugees without Their Consent
The Israeli prime minister said Sunday he had reached an “international agreement” that allowed his country to deport around 40,000 African refugees. The asylum seekers, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea, entered Israel through Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in the early and mid-2000s. Read more: African asylum-seekers in Israel stuck in limbo Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet also approved plans to shut down the Holot migrant detention center in southern Israel and gave asylum seekers a three-month deadline to leave the country or face deportation. The Israeli government says the African migrants are “infiltrators” and not genuine refugees. “The infiltrators will have the option to be imprisoned or leave the country,” Israel’s Public Security Ministry said in a statement. Deutsche Welle

Tillerson: US Seeks to Unlock the Potential of a Growing African Continent
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson hosted discussions Friday at the State Department with 37 foreign ministers or other representatives from Africa. The focus was on trade and investment, good governance and countering violent extremism.The State Department says it is looking to the future, to what Africa will look like in the year 2100, when it will be the most populous continent in the world with an estimated 2.2 billion people. VOA

Morocco Food Stampede Leaves 15 Dead and a Country Shaken
At least 15 women died and five were wounded in a stampede during a food distribution operation on Sunday morning in rural Morocco, government officials said. The victims were crushed as hundreds of people, mostly women, gathered to collect baskets of food at the market of a small town, Sidi Boulaalam, according to news accounts. The town is about 40 miles from the coastal city of Essaouira. […] Morocco, with a population of 35 million, is generally regarded as much healthier economically than neighboring countries. According to the World Bank, its poverty rate fell to 4.2 percent in 2014, and tourism remains a robust part of the economy. But that can mask the conditions in rural areas like Sidi Boulaalam, where things are far more dire. Nearly 19 percent of the rural population lives in poverty, and about 15.5 percent of Moroccans live on about $3 a day. During the Arab Spring, the government spent billions to calm protests, and amid pressure from international lenders in recent years it has cut spending on subsidies and public sector hiring. The New York Times

How Madagascar Took Control of Its Plague Outbreak
[…] the plague was moving through Madagascar’s cities, which aren’t used to handling cases. Outbreaks usually happen in rural, remote parts of the country. Treatment centers bulked up their staff. Responders did extensive contact tracing to break the chain of person-to-person transmission. Health workers tracked down about 7,000 people who had interacted with confirmed and suspected plague patients. Ninety-five percent of them have taken preventative antibiotics. Fewer than a dozen of them came down with plague symptoms. In all, about 9,300 people received antibiotic treatment against the plague. At 8 percent, the case fatality rate was unusually low, says Bower, “and there was no spread out of country, either.” Travelers leaving Madagascar’s main airport continue to be screened for fevers. Those with plague symptoms are not allowed to travel. Surrounding countries remain alert. “I think I’d give it an ‘A,’ ” says Dabney P. Evans, director of the Center for Humanitarian Emergencies at Emory University, of the outbreak response. “I think the alarm bells were rung at the right time. And the response was timely. I do think that this could have been worse,” says Dabney, who was not involved in the response. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones