Africa Media Review for November 28, 2018

DR Congo’s Tshisekedi Returns to Kick Off Presidential Bid
Congolese opposition scion Felix Tshisekedi returned home to Kinshasa on Tuesday greeted by tens of thousands of supporters as he kicked off his campaign to replace longtime president and foe Joseph Kabila in December elections. “We will go with the people and we will win,” said Tshisekedi, the 55-year-old son of the late Etienne Tshisekedi, the face of the DR Congo’s opposition for decades. He vowed to deploy teams of observers to combat election fraud, while his running mate Vital Kamerhe, a former speaker of parliament, said on Twitter that the pair made a “winning ticket”. Tens of thousands of supporters from Tshisekedi’s main opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) party and Kamerhe’s Union for the Congolese Nation (UNC) were on hand to greet them as they arrived at Kinshasa’s airport.  AFP

DRC Polls: Tshisekedi, Fayulu and Shadary Unveil Campaign Programs
With less than a month to the much anticipated and long delayed presidential polls in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the three frontrunners to replace Joseph Kabila have outlined their manifestos. Kabila’s preferred candidate, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, the opposition’s Martin Fayulu and Felix Tshisekedi are likely to emerge as the leading candidates. All are representing coalitions of political parties: Shadary is the candidate of the ruling Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition, while Fayulu leads the Lamuku coalition. Africa News

Congolese Cover-Up
[…] A U.N. panel that examined the murders—the first ever of U.N. experts in the course of their work—concluded last year that Sharp and Catalán most likely drove into an ambush ordered by a local tribal chief. John Sharp said the U.S. official who chaired the panel, Gregory Starr, told him that his son and Catalán flouted U.N. security protocols designed to ensure their safety. “He said they operated like cowboys,” John Sharp said in an interview. “Irresponsible is what he meant, they were being irresponsible.” But a joint investigation by Foreign Policy, Radio France Internationale, Le Monde, Sveriges Television, and Süddeutsche Zeitung reveals that the U.N. buried evidence suggesting that Congolese authorities may have been involved in the murder. FP and the other news organizations reviewed thousands of pages of internal U.N. documents and interviewed dozens of key players for the investigation. It’s not clear from the documents why the Congolese authorities would have wanted Sharp and Catalán dead. But one possibility is that they sought to prevent the investigators from uncovering evidence of government atrocities in the Kasai province. The Sharps believe the U.N. panel led by Starr withheld critical evidence in order to avoid a diplomatic rupture with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Foreign Policy

Cameroonian Separatists Risk Death Sentence Following Terrorism Charges
Ten Cameroonian separatist leaders extradited from Nigeria earlier this year will face trial next month on terrorism charges that could lead to the death penalty, one of their lawyers said after a court hearing on Tuesday. The accused include Julius Ayuk Tabe, the leader of an Anglophone separatist movement in western Cameroon fighting to break away from the Francophone-dominated central government. Hundreds of people, including civilians, separatist fighters and Cameroonian security agents, have been killed in the past year’s violence, which has emerged as the most serious security threat to President Paul Biya, in power for 36 years. “Ten charges have been brought against them, including terrorism, advocating terrorism, secession, civil war and revolution,” lawyer Christopher Ndong told Reuters after the charges were read out at the capital Yaounde’s military court. VOA

John Magufuli: Tanzania Prefers ‘Condition-Free’ Chinese Aid
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has said he prefers Chinese to Western aid as it comes with fewer conditions. Mr Maugufuli has been under intense pressure from Western nations over his controversial policies. On 15 November, Denmark said it had suspended $9.8m (£7.5m) in aid because of “unacceptable homophobic comments” by a Tanzanian politician. China has become a major investor in Africa, challenging Western influence on the continent. It has promised to spend $60bn in investment, aid and loans in Africa over the next three years, mostly in infrastructure development. “The thing that makes you happy about their aid is that it is not tied to any conditions. When they decide to give you, they just give you,” Mr Magufuli said.  BBC

Nigeria’s Buhari to Visit Troops Fighting Boko Haram
Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari will visit troops on the frontlines of the Boko Haram conflict on Wednesday and is to dispatch his defence minister to Chad following a jump in attacks. The presidential visit comes after months of deadly raids by the IS-affiliated jihadists on military bases which have left scores of troops dead or missing in the volatile northeast. The 75-year-old former general, who is running for re-election in February presidential polls, is under pressure over claims the nine-year Islamist insurgency was close to defeat. In a posting on Twitter on Monday, presidential spokesman Bashir Ahmad said Buhari would attend an army conference in Maiduguri as well as address troops to boost their morale. AFP

Police Hold 200 Suspects after Deadly Attack on Mozambique Village
Mozambique police have rounded up more than 200 suspects following the weekend killing of a dozen villagers. The suspected Islamist attack in the northern province of Cabo Delgado has caused thousands to flee for safety in neighbouring Tanzania. The attack took place a few kilometres from the Tanzanian border, where Mozambique does not have security patrols. Victims were either hacked to death with machetes or died in the flames of their burning homes. This is the third such attack in a month, leaving a total of 20 people dead. Meanwhile, Mozambique authorities are pressing ahead with oil and gas operations in Cabo Delgado.  Eye Witness News

Battle against Ebola in Congo Pits Medical Hope against Local Chaos
The battle against Ebola now underway in central Africa is like no other. It is the first for which doctors have both a promising vaccine and treatments to offer. These medical innovations are experimental, but the vaccine seems to work well, the four new treatments have given preliminary hints of curative powers and a clinical trial of them began Monday.It had seemed, with the help of these new tools, that the outbreak was headed for a quick end. Instead, with 419 cases and 240 deaths, it is now the second deadliest ever (although the 2014 West African one was orders of magnitude larger, with over 28,000 cases and 11,000 deaths). Dr. Peter Salama, the W.H.O.’s emergency response chief, recently said he expected this outbreak to last at least another six months. The New York Times

State Department Approves $1.2 Billion in Tank Ammunition, Helicopter Sales to Egypt
The State Department approved two arms deals with Egypt worth a combined $1.2 billion, a Pentagon agency announced Tuesday. The first sale, worth an estimated $1 billion, is for 10 AH-64E Apache helicopters along with related equipment, according to a statement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), which manages foreign military sales. Egypt intends to use the attack helicopters to expand its existing fleet “to address U.S.-Egyptian interest in countering terrorist activities emanating from the Sinai Peninsula that undermine regional stability.” The statement added that the sale “will contribute to Egypt’s military goal to update its capability while further enhancing greater interoperability between Egypt, the U.S., and other allies.”  The Hill

Alone in the Arab World, Tunisians Can Protest Visit by Saudi Crown Prince
Arab leaders generally don’t have to worry too much about protesters when they visit their neighbors. There has long been a kind of informal code against allowing criticism of brotherly nations and their heads of state unless some kind of feud is going on. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring pro-democracy uprisings and the subsequent widespread crackdowns, that still holds true — with a few exceptions. One of them happens to be Tunisia. In the North African country that overthrew longtime dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, freedom of assembly and expression remains intact, and so people were able to say they aren’t thrilled with a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday. The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia has been linked by intelligence agencies to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2 in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.  The Washington Post

Uganda Faces Pressure to Probe 2016 Massacre by Military
The United States and others are urging Ugandan authorities to fully investigate a military attack on a tribal king’s palace two years ago that killed over 100 civilians and was widely condemned. At least 15 children were among the victims of the November 2016 assault targeting a kingdom known as Rwenzururu, whose leader for years has been politically opposed to Uganda’s longtime President Yoweri Museveni, according to Human Rights Watch. The killings followed clashes between police and followers of the tribal king, who later was arrested and charged along with hundreds of supporters. Many remain in detention.  AP

Migrant Flows Slow to Trickle in Libyan Former Smuggling Hub
Departures of migrant-laden boats to Italy from Sabratha, formerly Libya’s biggest people-smuggling hub, have slowed to a trickle thanks to a security crackdown triggered by European pressure that ejected the city’s top smuggler. But the local branch of Libya’s coastguard feels neglected. It says it is still starved for resources, unable to run its own patrols with only one broken-down boat, one car and no uniforms. Sabratha, 75 km (47 miles) west of the capital Tripoli where people smugglers exploited gang lawlessness for years, was the main launchpad on Libya’s Mediterranean coast for Italy-bound migrants, with the flow peaking in 2016 and early 2017. Reuters

US Sanctions Ethiopia Ex-Intelligence Chief
The US has imposed a travel ban travel and assets freeze on the fugitive former Ethiopian Intelligence head Getachew Assefa. The sanctions follow the House of Representatives (HR) 128 Bill passed by the US Congress against Mr Getachew’s violation of human rights. The request to the State Department was made by the House of Representatives’ Mike Coffman, who sponsored the HR 128 bill and finally got it passed by the Congress. Mr Getachew is accused for orchestrating the assassination attempt on the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa during the rally called in support of the reformist leader. The charges against him also include crimes against humanity on thousands of prisoners across the country such as allowing gang rape of both males and females, torturing and killings using different techniques in secrete jails. The East African

Ethiopia PM Meets Opposition Parties, Promises Fair Elections
Ethiopia’s prime minister met members of 81 opposition parties on Tuesday to discuss ways of reforming the electoral system, his office said, as he pressed on with promises to open up a political arena dominated by his coalition. Abiy Ahmed has turned national politics on its head since coming to power in April by welcoming back exiled opposition and separatist groups, releasing prisoners and appointing a formerly jailed dissident as head of the election board. The meeting focused “on highlighting the reforms required to ensure the upcoming election is free & fair, and the shared responsibilities of all,” his office said on Twitter. There was no immediate comment from opposition groups.  Reuters

MPs: Kenya Must Pass Women’s Representation Bill or Risk Constitutional Crisis
Kenyan politicians must pass a bill that would ensure women one-third of seats in parliament — or risk plunging the country into a constitutional crisis, MPs supporting the bill warned Tuesday. Despite Kenya’s 2010 constitution stating that no more than two-thirds of any elected or appointed body can be of the same gender, women hold 22 percent of seats in the country’s lower house of parliament, and 31 percent in the upper house. Court rulings since 2012 have directed parliament to pass legislation to enforce the gender rule or risk being dissolved — but previous attempts have failed with female MPs accusing male lawmakers of deliberately blocking efforts. If parliament is dissolved, a general election would need to be called. Kenya held a controversial, highly polarized and violent election last year. VOA

Israeli Leader to Visit Chad and Restore Relations
Israel’s prime minister says he will soon travel to the central African nation of Chad to officially restore relations. Benjamin Netanyahu made the announcement on Tuesday in a meeting with visiting Chadian President Idriss Deby in Jerusalem. Deby’s visit is the first by a president of Chad, a Muslim-majority country that broke off relations with Israel in 1972. Netanyahu says they discussed cooperation in agriculture, counterterrorism, border protection and technology. Netanyahu has made great efforts to extend Israeli diplomacy to Africa and has visited the continent several times in recent years. It’s part of an overall policy of seeking allies among developing countries that have historically sided with the Palestinians at the UN and other international forums. Chad has played a key role in combating jihadi groups in the Sahara.  AP

Russian Bank: We Assigned $12B ‘Loan’ to Poor African State by Mistake
The impoverished state of Central African Republic landed a windfall on Tuesday, at least on paper, when Russian state bank VTB reported it had lent the country $12 billion — but the bank then said it was a clerical error and there was no such loan. The loan was mentioned in a quarterly VTB financial report published by the Russian central bank. The report included a table listing the outstanding financial claims that VTB group had on dozens of countries as of Oct. 1 this year. In the table next to Central African Republic was the sum of $12 billion — more than six times the country’s annual economic output. When asked about the data by Reuters, the bank said the loan to the former French colony did not, in reality, exist. “VTB bank has no exposure of this size to CAR. Most likely, this is a case of an operational mistake in the system when the countries were being coded,” the lender said in a statement sent to Reuters.  Reuters

British Museum to Return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria
More than a century after British soldiers looted a collection of priceless artifacts from the Kingdom of Benin, some of the Benin bronzes are heading back to Nigeria – with strings attached. A deal was struck last month by the Benin Dialogue Group (BDG) that would see “some of the most iconic pieces” in the historic collection returned on a temporary basis to form an exhibition at the new Benin Royal Museum in Edo State within three years. More than 1,000 of the bronzes are held at museums across Europe, with the most valuable collection at the British Museum in London. Nigerian governments have sought their return since the country gained independence in 1960.  CNN



Photo: Adam Jones