Africa Media Review for November 3, 2017

Election Dramas Exhaust Kenya, Where Democracy Is Challenged
Distraught Kenyan schoolgirls huddled against an alleyway wall, trapped between stone-throwing protesters and police wielding clubs and firing tear gas in an outbreak of violence following Kenya’s disputed election that left national divisions more entrenched. The girls scrambled to safety in a scene that captured the anguish of a flawed democracy facing protracted pressures unless Kenya’s rival camps can somehow accommodate. The question of how the democratic institutions and relatively open society of this leading East African nation will respond is a bellwether for the continent, where democracy evolves in some places and authoritarianism takes root in others. “This is not just about Kenya,” said Murithi Mutiga, a Nairobi-based senior analyst for the International Crisis Group. “It’s about the idea of moving toward greater and greater political competition and freedom and against those that say, ‘Let’s privilege economic development and forget political liberalism for now.’” Kenya is in a lull after a bruising election cycle in which an Aug. 8 vote was nullified by the Supreme Court because of flaws, and an Oct. 26 repeat vote was boycotted by opposition leader Raila Odinga. AP

UN Sounds Alarm on Humanitarian Crisis in Congo’s Kasai
An official from the United Nations’ World Food Program has issued a warning about the situation in the southwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where conflict has left 3.2 million people severely hungry. In the past year, about 1.4 million residents of Congo’s Kasai region have been displaced by violence that has killed more than 3,000 people and destroyed entire villages, according to Claude Jibidar, who heads the WFP in Congo. Jibidar says the situation is comparable to well-known crisis zones like Syria and Yemen. Congo, the massive central African nation, now has the highest burden of displaced people in Africa. VOA

Lesotho: SADC Decides on a Much Smaller Stabilising Force
A “contingent” force will be deployed in Lesotho after several SADC countries meet on 10 November to finalise operational details. This is according to SADC executive secretary Stergomena Tax who told Daily Maverick that South Africa, Angola, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania would contribute contingents to the force which will comprise troops as well as police, intelligence and civilian elements. The decision on the size of the force as well as other logistical aspects was made by security chiefs representing all SADC member states at a meeting at SADC secretariat headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana. The decision to send only 250 personnel is likely to disappoint Lesotho which had requested a battalion-strength force of about 1,200 and had indicated that SADC had agreed to this. Daily Maverick

Kiir Accuses Sudan of Being ‘Source of Weapons’ in S.Sudan War
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Thursday accused Sudan of being a “source of weapons” fuelling the brutal civil war in his country as he met leader Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum. “If there is someone who can accuse the other, it is me who can accuse Sudan,” Kiir said at a joint press conference with the Sudanese president. “Sudan now is the source of weapons that are going to South Sudan and creating problems for us.” Kiir’s accusation came on the second day of his two-day visit to Khartoum aimed at resolving thorny issues with Sudan, including mutual allegations of supporting rebels in each other’s countries. The East African

South Sudan’s Kiir Washes His Hands of Support to Sudanese Rebel
South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit Thursday reiterated that his country does not support Sudanese armed opposition groups, and announced the agreement with his Sudanese counterpart on a roadmap to implement the outstanding security agreements. Kiir who ended a two-day visit to Khartoum pledged with his Sudanese counterpart not to allow the “saboteurs” to affect relations between the two countries. “We do not support the Sudanese rebel movements, and if you come to Juba, you will not find them,” Kiir told a joint news conference with President Omer al-Bashir in response to accusations that his country provides support to the Sudanese rebels. Sudan Tribune

Civil War Leaves Top South Sudanese Officials Hustling for Food
They’re high-level civil servants charged with helping South Sudan rebuild institutions and an economy shattered by a four-year civil war. First, though, they need to feed their families in a city where a bean stew can cost a day and a half’s pay. For two hours in the morning before work at a state ministry, one civil servant orders a junior employee to drive his government vehicle around the capital, Juba, in search of passengers. If his underling collects at least 2,000 South Sudanese pounds ($15.35) in fares then the official can afford a meal for his wife and children. He asked not to be identified because the practice is against ministry rules. Such ploys are common among South Sudanese government workers whose pay — when it comes at all — is woefully inadequate for a country where food costs relative to salaries are the highest on the planet. Bloomberg

Liberian Election Board Stands by Oct. 10 Polls
The head of Liberia’s election commission said late Wednesday he stands by the results of the Oct. 10 first round presidential polls and does not see any legal basis for holding a rerun, as called for by the opposition. Chairman Jerome Korkoyah says his commission admitted irregularities during the announcement of results from the first round of voting but that this did not warrant a rerun of the entire vote. His comments came in reaction to a writ of prohibition issued by the Supreme Court late Tuesday placing a stay order on all activities leading to the Nov. 7 runoff election between former football star George Weah and the ruling party’s Vice President Joseph Boakai. The Liberty Party along with two other losing collaborating parties complained to the commission of gross irregularities and demanded a rerun of the polls. Anadolu Agency

ANC Leadership Race: Dlamini Zuma Supporters in Battle to Secure the Final Prize – the Eastern Cape
Supporters of ANC MP Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s presidential campaign have been fighting tooth and nail to keep control of the ANC’s largest province, KwaZulu-Natal. About a week ago they also bagged the prized – and somewhat coy – Mpumalanga, the second-largest province and the party’s kingmaker. Next they have set their sights on regaining the third in line, the ANC’s heartland of the Eastern Cape. Daily Maverick

Lawmaker Calls for Probe of UK Bank’s Ties in S. African Money Laundering Case
British lawmaker Peter Hain said on Wednesday he has asked finance minister Philip Hammond to refer an unidentified UK bank to regulators for an investigation into possible involvement in alleged money laundering involving South Africa’s Gupta family. Hain hand delivered documents to Hammond on Tuesday that he said showed participation of an unidentified British bank in illegal transfers of funds from South Africa made by the Gupta family over the last few years. The Guptas, a family of Indian-born businessmen in South Africa, are under scrutiny for their close ties to South African President Jacob Zuma and have been accused of unduly influencing the awarding of state tenders. The family has denied any wrongdoing and no charges have been filed. Reuters

Libyan Force Says Will Not Extradite Brother of Manchester Suicide Bomber to UK
A Libyan armed group holding the brother of a suicide bomber who killed 22 people at a pop concert in the English city of Manchester will not grant a British extradition request, its spokesman said on Thursday. Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old Briton born to Libyan parents, blew himself up at the end of a show by U.S. singer Ariana Grande in the deadliest militant attack in Britain for 12 years. His victims included seven children while more than 500 people were injured. On Wednesday, British police said they had issued an arrest warrant for his brother Hashem Abedi and prosecutors had asked Libya to extradite him. “We will not extradite Hashem Abedi to UK authorities,” said Ahmad Ben Salim, spokesman of the Deterrence Force (Rada), a counter-terrorism group allied to the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli. Reuters

Egypt: Former army officer led terrorists in West Desert attack
Egyptian soldiers and officers who battled terrorists in the Western Desert confirmed that the masked dead militant leader was Imad al-Din Sayyid Ahmed Abdul Hamid, 36, a former military commando in the Egyptian army. The terrorist leader was dismissed from the army after he had adopted extremist ideology and served as an assistant to Hasham al-Ashmawi, leader of the al-Murabetin organization in Libya. Maher Farghali, a researcher and expert on terrorist and extremist groups told Al-Arabiya that security information confirmed the killing of former officer Imad Abdul Hamid in the last attack by the army’s forces on their hideouts in Kilo 175, in the oasis west of Fayoum governerate. Al Arabiya

Exit Eritrea: A Visit to ‘Africa’s North Korea’
According to the government, 116,000 Eritrean refugees visited their native country last year alone. But can the figures of a regime that manipulates statistics be trusted? And what explains the visits by Eritrean expatriates? An aid worker from Finland provides an answer: The government tolerates the returnees because they bring foreign currency to the impoverished nation and are also a source of income in the form of the so-called “development tax.” But those who pay it are still not always safe from the government’s thugs. There have been numerous cases of Eritrean expatriates who have disappeared without a trace or ended up rotting away in secret prisons. In its most recent report, the United Nations Human Rights Council levels serious accusations against the regime in Asmara, including accusations of systematic persecution of citizens, torture, rape, executions and targeted killings. Spiegle

Nigeria Grazing Ban to Stop Deadly Cattle Wars
Nigeria has implemented a controversial ban on cattle grazing they say will bring peace to the area, but opponents have decried as a recipe for anarchy. The ban, in the south-eastern Benue state, follows years violent and often deadly clashes between nomadic Fulani herdsman and local farmers. The herders accuse farmers of killing their cattle while the farmers say the animals are destroying their crops. The new law would require everyone to keep their livestock on ranches. BBC

Central Africa Regional Bloc Creates Six-country Visa-Free Zone
The Central African Economic and Monetary Community reached a key milestone this week. Heads of state meeting in Chad lifted visa requirements for their citizens traveling within the six-member regional bloc. But challenges remain to ensuring free movement and deepening economic integration. The announcement marked the culmination of 23 years of negotiation. Citizens of Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon and Chad no longer need visas to travel within the six-member economic bloc. Chadian President Idris Deby made the announcement at the CEMAC heads of state summit in Ndjamena. VOA

Refugee Graves Were a Common Sight in Libya. Now It’s Tunisia’s Turn
“The dead are someone’s husband, someone’s child, wife, sister or brother. Would you bury your loved ones in this manner?” The short Tunisian man gestures towards makeshift graves containing the bodies of dozens of drowned migrants. This may have become a common enough sight across the border in Libya in recent years. Now a crackdown on people trafficking in that country appears to be pushing the problem into Tunisia. “They are not at fault for being buried here. We are at fault. You are at fault. The world is at fault.” His name is Chamseddine Marzoug. With the help of a small group of volunteers in the fishing town of Zarzis in the southern part of Tunisia, near the Libyan border, he is the one who cleans up when bloated bodies wash ashore or when fishermen pick up both living and dead migrants at sea. The Guardian

Morocco’s Gag on Dissent in Rif Region Fuels Exodus to Europe
In Hoceima’s Mohammed VI Square – the scene of year-long unrest in this clifftop city in northern Morocco – a giant rainbow can be seen in the sky above the Mediterranean. On the ground, however, the lives of the ethnic Amazigh people in the impoverished Rif region are less colourful. Officers in riot gear pack the square in preparation for protests around the anniversary this week of the death of a local fishmonger, Mouhcine Fikri. Fikri was crushed to death in the back of a rubbish truck in 2016 as he tried to retrieve his catch, which had been confiscated and binned by the police. The truck’s mechanical crusher killed him in a street close to the square, sparking a popular uprising that spread nationwide. The Guardian

Deadly Plague Outbreak in Madagascar Appears to Wane
The large plague outbreak that began in Madagascar in August appears to be waning, according to government case counts and local news reports. The outbreak has infected about 1,800 people so far, killing 127 of them. A World Health Organization spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic, confirmed reports in Malagasy media that both deaths and new cases were declining and most hospitalized patients had recovered, although “we cannot rule out the possibility of further spikes.” An Oct. 31 situation report from W.H.O.’s Africa region shows cases peaking in mid-October; Madagascar confirmed its first plague death by laboratory testing only on September 11. The man thought to have triggered the outbreak — who was initially assumed to have malaria — died in August after he rode minibus taxis through two major cities, spreading the disease. The New York Times

Burundi Bans Women from Playing Traditional Drums
Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, has introduced strict controls over the country’s renowned drumming rituals, banning female drummers and limiting the sacred tradition to official events. “It is strictly forbidden to those of the female sex to beat drums. They can however carry out female folk dances accompanying the drums,” read a decree seen by AFP Thursday, that was signed late last month. All groups seeking to perform “cultural shows” must from now on register with the ministry of culture and are not allowed to perform outside of official ceremonies without authorisation from the ministry. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones