Africa Media Review for November 20, 2018

Top Madagascar Presidential Hopeful Alleges Vote ‘Manipulation’
The frontrunner in Madagascar’s presidential race accused election officials of “manipulation” on Monday after they published results that showed him short of the absolute majority needed to avoid a second round run-off vote. Former president Andry Rajoelina told a crowd of supporters in the capital Antananarivo that “everything had been done to prevent (him) from scoring more than 40 percent” in the November 7 first round. “They inflated the number of registered voters and gave votes for (me) to other candidates,” he said, attacking supposed “vote manipulation” by the CENI election commission. Neither Rajoelina nor his arch-rival Marc Ravalomanana won the 50 percent of votes required for a first-round victory.  AFP

Ex-Ogaden Rebels Plan Return to Ethiopia from Base in Eritrea
The Ogaden National Liberation Front, ONLF, are set to return to Ethiopia on Wednesday, the Voice of America’s Somali service reported on Monday. Leadership of the group are due to return on Wednesday, November 21, the report said. ONLF spokesperson told the VOA that their forces were going to be airlifted from Asmara to Jijiga, capital of Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, SRS, on the said date. The group recently signed a peace deal with the Ethiopian federal government in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, where they have been based. As part of the deal “The two sides have reached a historical agreement regarding the political rights of the people from Somali Regional State and genuinely addressing the root causes of the conflict between ONLF and the Ethiopian government,” ONLF said in a tweet.  Africa News

Japan to Expand Djibouti Base despite Decline in Piracy
When Japan set up a facility in Djibouti in 2009 with docks for warships, an airfield and the other infrastructure that an overseas military base requires to support troops on the ground, it had the very clearly defined task of supporting the international campaign against pirates operating out of Somalia. In 2011, there were no fewer than 237 incidents involving suspected pirates. Thanks in large part to the international response, that figure fell to zero incidents in 2015 and a mere nine cases were reported in the whole of 2017. Yet instead of declaring the Self-Defense Forces’ (SDF) mission accomplished, closing the Djibouti base and bringing the two Kawasaki P-1 patrol aircraft, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer and at least 180 ground troops back to Japan, Tokyo is expected to include in its new National Defense Program Guidelines plans to upgrade the facility.  Deutsche Welle

U.S. Senators Alarmed If China Gets Control of Djibouti Port
Two prominent U.S. senators expressed alarm on Tuesday about the military and political consequences if China gains control of a port terminal in Djibouti, and said they were concerned it could further boost Beijing’s influence in East Africa. In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic Senator Chris Coons said they were concerned about Djibouti’s termination of a contract for the Doraleh Container Terminal with United Arab Emirates-based DP World in February and the nationalization of the port in September. Reports that Djibouti, heavily indebted to Beijing, would likely cede the port’s operations to a Chinese state-owned enterprise were “even more alarming,” they said. The letter was the latest in a series of efforts by members of Congress who want to counter China’s growing international influence, which they see as a threat to U.S. economic and security interests.  Reuters

Pro-Kabila Candidate Unveils Platform for DRC Polls
President Joseph Kabila’s chosen successor on Monday unveiled his platform ahead of a landmark election in the Democratic Republic of Congo next month. Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary set out an $86bn five-year development plan for the sprawling central African country. Making his first public remarks since longstanding leader Kabila anointed him in early August, Shadary told supporters that he would reinforce the authority of the state, diversify the economy, create jobs, combat poverty and guarantee access to public services. Shadary made the pledges three days ahead of the official start of campaigning for the December 23 poll to succeed Kabila, who has been in power since January 2001. AFP

Boko Haram Attacks Three Military Bases in NE Nigeria
Boko Haram jihadists at the weekend attacked three military bases in northeast Nigeria, putting the spotlight on insecurity in Nigeria just three months before presidential polls. On Sunday, fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction attacked a base in Metele, a remote village in northeast Borno state, near the Niger border. Troops were “dislodged” from the base before it was reclaimed with aerial support, a military officer in the northeast told AFP. “There are still no details of human or material losses,” said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak on the incident. The same day, jihadists also launched a pre-dawn attack on another base in the town of Gajiram, some 80km north of the Borno state capital, Maiduguri.  AFP

Hundreds of Schools Shut In Burkina Faso over Jihadi Attacks
In Burkina Faso, a country struggling to contain jihadist violence, education is one of the victims of the insurgency, with hundreds of schools closed, teachers in hiding and pupils kept indoors over the fear of attacks. In the conflict-ridden north, more than three years of assaults and threats by radical Islamists have led to the closure of more than 300 schools, according to estimates, with the east of the West African nation now also seeing school closures. “They (the jihadists) are slowly killing education,” said Kassoum Ouedraogo, who used to teach in a primary school in the small town of Nenebouro, near the border with Mali. One of his colleagues was murdered in 2016 and last year teachers felt the security threat was so dangerous that they shut the school.  AFP

Chad Pushes Out ‘Enemy Forces’ in North after Heavy Fighting
Chads army dislodged what it described as enemy fighters from a town near its northern border with Libya after heavy fighting in a conflict the government has so far given few details about. The central African nations announcement that the army was successful in fighting insurgents in the town of Miski came a week after President Idriss Deby replaced several key cabinet officials, including the defense minister. Fighting began three months ago following a deadly attack on army positions in the north by the rebel Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, or CCSMR, which is reported to be backed by Libyan fighters. Bloomberg

UN Mission in Mali Tries to Bring Aid despite Al-Qaeda Attacks
Al-Qaeda attacks in northern Mali are increasing, especially against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). MINUSMA was not intended to participate in the war, rather supposed to be a peacekeeping force. However, UN troops have been trying to fill the gap left by other aid agencies. Despite the attacks, the UN mission has undertaken agricultural infrastructure projects and assisted schools in the area. The results have been visible, but insufficient, according to locals.  Al Jazeera

Military Official Worries Terrorism Could Spill into Liberia
The acting Sergeant Major for Armed Forces Liberia says he is concerned about terrorists in neighboring countries spilling into his homeland. Speaking in an exclusive interview with VOA, Command Sgt. Maj. Karmoh Duke Freeman said the “worrisome” terrorism developments outside Liberia must be deterred with additional forces. “We asked our partners to get involved immediately so that we’ll curtail the situation,” Freeman said, “because we need more than what we have at our border points.” The Liberian army of about 2,000 was built “from scratch,” Freeman explained, after the Second Liberian Civil War ended in 2003.  VOA

Canada Facing Dilemma on Suspending Aid to Tanzania, Minister Says
Canada’s foreign-aid minister says she is facing a “dilemma” over whether to join the growing movement to suspend millions of dollars in aid to Tanzania for its jailing of opposition MPs and its threats to arrest people who are gay. Marie-Claude Bibeau, the Minister of International Development, says she is evaluating her options in Tanzania but is worried that a cancellation of Canadian aid could “punish” innocent people in the country. Canada is one of the biggest donors to the East African country, providing almost $90-million in aid to Tanzania last year and about $2.3-billion in total since the 1960s. But only about a quarter of the assistance last year went directly to the government. The rest went largely to non-governmental groups or multilateral organizations. Tanzania’s human-rights abuses have sparked a sharp reaction this month. One of its major donors, Denmark, suspended about US$10-million in aid last week because of its concerns, and the European Union announced that it is reviewing US$88-million in annual aid to the country.  The Glob and Mail

SIPRI Report: More Transparency in Sub-Saharan Military Spending
The “Stockholm International Peace Research Institute” (SIPRI) has published a study on the availability of information on military spending in sub-Saharan Africa. Its findings show that transparency is increasing. International organizations’ knowledge about arms expenditure is, at times, limited. Not all information makes it to international forums such as the United Nations. But this does not mean that this information does not exist. It is collected but not easy to find. According to the SIPRI study, this leads to a general underestimation of the quantity of publicly available data on government spending in certain regions of the world. “We found that 45 out of 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have themselves reported military spending to their own country through either the Ministry of Finance or research and transparency websites,” Dr. Nan Tian, one of the study’s authors, told DW. Deutsche Welle

Russia to Increase Military Presence in Central African Republic
The United Nations has extended the mandate for its peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic for another month, while Security Council members negotiate whether to prolong the deployment. France has presented a draft resolution that takes aim at recent Russian efforts to negotiate peace deals in the CAR. Moscow has been sending military trainers and equipment to the government. Al Jazeera has been granted exclusive access to their operations in the rebel-held territory. Nicolas Haque reports from the town of Bria.  Al Jazeera

Ethiopia’s Anti-Graft Drive Slammed as Ethnic Witch-Hunt
A senior official in an influential faction of Ethiopia’s ruling coalition on Monday accused Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of ethnic profiling in an anti-corruption drive that has seen scores arrested. Debretsion Gebremichael, chairman of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), said the arrests of more than 60 senior military and intelligence officers in recent weeks was an attack on ethnic Tigrayans, a group that has long held disproportionate power in government and the security services. “The arrests… targeting individuals accused of corruption and human rights has veered from course and is being used to bring Tigrayan people to their knees,” Mr Debretsion claimed.  AFP

Zimbabwe ‘State Agents’ Tried to Cover up Post-Election Violence, Say Doctors
Doctors in Zimbabwe have accused “state agents” of pressuring medical officials to falsify diagnoses to cover up violence by security services and the army after historic elections this year. In a report, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) alleges government pathologists at public hospitals were forced to describe gunshot injuries as stab wounds. The ZADHR report also gives details of gunshot injuries sustained by 11 people when the army used live ammunition to clear the centre of Harare, the capital, two days after the poll. “One case of death due to gunshot wounds was reported as a stab-wound case,” the report says. “The victim’s family engaged ZADHR and, after consulting the relevant doctors, the correct cause of death was revised.” Norman Matara, the ZADHR treasurer, said state agents tried to tamper with evidence and remove corpses from examination rooms. The Guardian

Migration at Top of Agenda of Spanish PM’s 1st Morocco Visit
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez urged greater cooperation on migration while making his first visit Monday to Morocco, a jumping-off point for a growing number of migrants trying to reach Spain and get a foothold in Europe. Spain is one of the North African kingdom’s strongest European allies, and enhanced collaboration on all levels was a focus of Sanchez’s visit. It was among the topics discussed at a lunch hosted by Moroccan King Mohammed VI, the official MAP news agency said. Controlling migration from Morocco to Spain was the focus of Sanchez’s talks with Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani. “Migration is a shared responsibility, and we need to strengthen our cooperation,” Sanchez said at their joint news conference.  AP

Kenya Targets ‘Fish Thieves’ with New Coastguard
Kenya’s president has launched the country’s first coastguard to protect and monitor its territorial waters. It will guard against illegal fishing, which President Uhuru Kenyatta says costs Kenya about $100m (£78m) a year. It is also intended to secure territorial waters against smuggling and drug trafficking. Until now, Kenya’s maritime security depended solely on the Navy. Authorities say it will now be free to focus on security and military affairs. But Kenya’s coastguard currently only has one boat, which means the new force will still rely heavily on the Navy until it finds its footing, says the BBC’s Ferdinand Omondi in the capital, Nairobi. The Navy has often undertaken joint anti-drugs operations with other security forces in the coastal city of Mombasa. In 2014 on President Kenyatta’s orders, it destroyed a ship alleged to have been carrying illegal drugs worth $12.6m (£9.8m).  BBC

What Happens to Cairo after Egypt Builds Its New Capital?
Billboards across Cairo advertise luxury homes with “breathtaking” views in compounds with names like “La Verde” or “Vinci” in Egypt’s new capital that is under construction in the desert, miles from the Nile-side city which has been the seat of power for more than 1,000 years. Often, what lies behind the billboards are Cairo’s most overcrowded neighborhoods, with shoddily built homes and dirt roads frequently inundated with sewage water. A city of some 20 million people combining charm and squalor, Cairo may soon witness an exodus by well-heeled residents, state employees and foreign embassies to the New Administrative Capital, as the vast project in the desert is provisionally known. It will be the latest phase in the flight of the rich, many of whom have already moved to gated communities in new suburbs, leaving the old Cairo in neglect and decay.  Haaretz



Photo: Adam Jones