Africa Media Review for November 7, 2017

Liberia’s Supreme Court Suspends Weah-Boaki Vote
Liberia’s Supreme Court has halted the presidential run-off amid allegations of “irregularities and frauds”, with just a day’s notice. It says the poll cannot proceed until the electoral commission has “urgently and expeditiously” investigated the claims. The allegations were made by the Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine, who came third in the original vote. No new date has been set for the poll which was scheduled for 7 November. BBC

Mugabe Fires Vice President, Clearing Path to Power for Wife
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, the world’s oldest head of state, abruptly dismissed the country’s vice president on Monday, a move that positions Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed him as president. The vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who retains strong support from the military, had been seen as a main rival to Mrs. Mugabe in the internal fight over who might succeed the president, who led his country to independence in 1980 and is the only leader most Zimbabweans have ever known. “The vice president has consistently and persistently exhibited traits of disloyalty, disrespect, deceitfulness and unreliability,” Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo said on Monday in explaining Mr. Mugabe’s decision. “It had become evident that his conduct in his discharge of his duties had become inconsistent with his official responsibilities.” Mr. Mnangagwa’s critics had accused him of plotting to take charge of key state institutions and of forming a set of parallel institutions within the ruling party, known as ZANU-PF.  The New York Times

At Least 10 Killed in Mali, PM Cancels Visit
At least 10 people died in attacks in Mali on Monday, as the prime minister cancelled a visit to a central town after a vehicle sent to protect his team hit a landmine. A bus travelling in the restive north was blown up by a mine on Monday, killing at least four people, police and administrative officials told AFP. “A bus hit a mine near Ansongo,” a small town about 100km from Gao, the regional hub, a Malian military officer in the area said. “At least four civilians, including a teenage girl, were killed.” A local official, reached by AFP, added: “It was jihadists who laid the bomb in order to terrorise local people, whom they accuse of providing information to the security forces.” AFP

US Tells DRC President Kabila to Stick to Election Timeline
The United States on Monday backed plans by the Democratic Republic of Congo to hold elections in December 2018 and warned President Joseph Kabila must stick to the timeline. The election commission in Kinshasa announced on Sunday that the long-awaited presidential, legislative, regional and local elections would take place on December 23, 2018. “The release of an electoral calendar — while long overdue — sets a clear timeline for a transition of power,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a statement. “We will work closely with the DRC, the UN, and our partners to ensure President Kabila and his government stick to this timeline, encourage full peaceful participation and freedom of speech, and do not permit any further delay,” she added. Daily Nation

AMISOM Launches Attack against Al-Shabab in Somalia
African Union troops in Somalia have launched an operation to flush out al-Shabab militants from the Lower Shabelle region and secure main supply routes in the area. Witnesses told VOA Somali they saw AU troops along a road and in a farming area between the towns of Afgoye and Bal’ad, while noting that al-Shabab did not have a major presence in the area Monday. The AU Mission in Somalia, known as AMISOM, said in a statement that it launched the operation after receiving information that Al-Shabab was “destabilizing” a key road linking Mogadishu to Ballidogle airport, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of the capital. VOA

Petition Filed in Kenya Court Challenging Kenyatta’s Election Victory
A former lawmaker filed a petition at Kenya’s Supreme Court on Monday challenging President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in last month’s presidential election in a last minute move that opens the door to legal scrutiny of the vote. Harun Mwau filed the petition hours before a Monday deadline set by the constitution expired. Earlier in the day, a coalition of civil society groups said they were being targeted by the government in an effort to head off potential legal cases. The Supreme Court has until Nov. 14 to rule on election petitions. If it upholds the result, Kenyatta will be sworn in on Nov. 28. Kenyatta came to power in 2013 and won a second and final term in August, defeating opposition leader Raila Odinga by 1.4 million votes. The Supreme Court nullified the vote citing procedural irregularities and ordered a second election. Reuters

Egypt’s President Says He Won’t Seek a Third Term in Office
Egypt’s leader says he is not in favor of amending the constitutional provisions barring the president from staying in office beyond two, four-year terms. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi was elected to office in 2014, a year after he led the military’s ouster of an elected but divisive president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi. He has strongly suggested he would seek a second term in office in elections next year, but he has yet to make a formal announcement. Speaking to CNBC television in an interview, Sisi said: “I am with preserving the (clause on) two, four-year terms and not change it.” AP

Tunisia’s Republican Party Quits Coalition Government
Tunisia’s Republican Party on Monday announced its withdrawal from the country’s ruling coalition government. At a press conference held in capital Tunis, Republican Party Secretary-General Essam al-Shabbi said the party had withdrawn from the ruling coalition government and accepted the resignation of one of its members, Iyad al-Dahmani, who had served as a spokesman for the government. The Republican Party, which bills itself as a “centrist” party, holds a single seat in Tunisia’s 217-member parliament. Al-Shabbi attributed his party’s decision to “difficulties associated with working within a government dominated by two parties” — a reference to the Nidaa Tounes and Ennahda parties, the country’s two main ruling coalition partners. Anadolu Agency

Italy Probes Deaths of 26 Nigerian Women at Sea
The bodies of 26 Nigerian women were recovered from the Mediterranean Sea, and Italian prosecutors are probing whether their deaths are linked to sex trafficking. “Salvatore Malfi, the police prefect of the southern town of Salerno, said the 26 women may have been thrown off their rubber dinghy into the waters of the Mediterranean,” NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports from Rome. “The cause of death appears to be by drowning.” Cantabria, a Spanish warship, brought their bodies to Salerno, Sylvia adds. That ship had carried out other Mediterranean rescues and had 374 rescued migrants on board. According to the BBC, Italian authorities are questioning five migrants. The broadcaster adds that “twenty-three of the dead women had been on a rubber boat with 64 other people.” NPR

1.25 Million Face Starvation in War-Torn South Sudan, Officials Say
In war-torn South Sudan 1.25 million people are facing starvation, double the number from the same time last year, according to a report by the United Nations and the government released Monday. This country could once again plunge into famine in 2018, warn humanitarians and the government. “The widespread and extreme food consumption gaps … should make us all extremely concerned about the worst case scenario of famine in many locations across South Sudan in 2018,” said Katie Rickard, country coordinator for REACH, a humanitarian research initiative that provided data for the report. Humanitarians blame the worsening situation on South Sudan’s continuing conflict, which is nearing its fifth year and has killed more than 50,000 people.  Los Angeles Times

Cameroon’s President Clocks 35 Years in Office
Monday marked 35 years since Cameroon’s President Paul Biya took office. His supporters are marking the anniversary with celebrations. His opponents are calling for him to stand aside when the country holds a presidential election next year. A song, praising Biya for bringing peace and development to Cameroon, blasted through loud speakers in Nanga Eboko, a town in central Cameroon, where thousands of people have been brought in to celebrate the anniversary of Paul Biya’s rise to power. Among the speakers was Benjamin Zibi, an official of Biya’s CPDM party. He said Biya’s supporters are proud because a majority of Cameroonians have adhered to the party’s policies for 35 straight years. VOA

3 Britons Kidnapped in Nigeria Are Freed; 1 Is Killed
The British government says one UK missionary who was kidnapped in Nigeria last month has been killed but three others have been freed. The Foreign Office said on Monday that Alanna Carson, David Donovan and Shirley Donovan have returned to their families, but Ian Squire “was tragically killed.” The four were abducted in the Niger Delta region on October 13. In a statement, their families thanked Nigerian authorities for negotiating their release. It was unclear when and how they were freed or how Squire died. The Foreign Office said it could not comment during an ongoing investigation. AP

Sudan’s Bashir Says Time to Empty Camps of Darfur Displaced
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said on Monday it was time to shut camps hosting millions of displaced people from the conflict in Darfur as the war in the region had ended. Bashir, wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for genocide and war crimes related to the Darfur conflict, said internally displaced people should return to their villages and not stay in camps any more. “Darfur has now recovered, and the next step is to empty the IDP camps as we don’t want any more IDPs,” Bashir said in a speech at a youth convention in Khartoum. “IDPs and refugees have to return to their villages. We will provide security and services to their villages.” AFP

Kigali Puzzled over Capture of Those Who Aided Arrest and Repatriation of Wanted Fugitive
Rwanda is watching events in Uganda with growing anxiety after Kampala charged a number of high ranking police officers and two civilians with aiding in the abduction of a Rwandan fugitive to Kigali. The Ugandan military arrested and paraded in the military court last Friday: Senior Commissioner of Police Joel Aguma, Senior Superintendent of Police of Police Nixon Karuhanga Agasire, Detective Assistant of Police Benon Atwebembeire, Detective Assistant Maganda James, Special Police Constable Faisal Katende, Detective Corporal Amon Kwarisiima, Rwandan National Rene Rutagungira and DRC national Bahati Mugenga on charges related to the October 2013 kidnap and repatriation to Rwanda of Lt Joel Mutabazi, a former aide to President Paul Kagame. Kigali is baffled because it claims Mr Mutabazi was on the Interpol Red list and his repatriation to Rwanda followed normal extradition procedures between the two countries. The East African

Doctors in Uganda’s Public Hospitals Strike over Pay and Supplies
Doctors working in Ugandan public hospitals went on strike on Monday to protest low salaries and shortages of essential supplies, a spokesman for their union told Reuters. The last such national strike by doctors was more than 20 years ago, said Faustus Kavuma of the Uganda Medical Association, although local strikes are frequent. “The lack of supplies and equipment in the hospitals … should stop,” he said. “Our remuneration is very poor.” He said doctors lacked necessities like gloves, painkillers and disinfectant. An entry-level doctor in public healthcare in Uganda earns about 1.1 million shillings ($300) per month. A senior physician takes home about 3.4 million. Reuters

Africa Set to Top 1 Billion Mobile Internet Connections in Five Years: Study
Africa’s mobile internet connections are set to double in the next five years, a study showed on Monday, thanks to affordable smartphones and the roll-out of high-speed networks. A report by research and consulting firm Ovum in London estimates that mobile broadband connections will rise from 419 million at the end of this year to 1.07 billion by the end of 2022. “Data connectivity is growing strongly in Africa, and there are also good prospects on the continent in areas such as digital media, mobile financial services, and the Internet of Things,” said Matthew Reed, Practice Leader Middle East and Africa at Ovum. Reuters

Chasing a Killer: Scientists Pursue Deadly Monkeypox Virus in Africa
U.S. and Congolese scientists are tracking a virus. At a time when a deadly disease can cross the globe, they need to understand the mysterious monkeypox. The scientists are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they have embarked on this watery journey to solve a decades-old mystery about a rare and fatal disease: monkeypox. A cousin to the deadly smallpox virus, the monkeypox virus initially infects people through contact with wild animals and can then spread from person to person. The disease produces fever and a rash that often turns into painful lesions that can feel like cigarette burns. It kills up to 1 in 10 of its victims, similar to pneumonic plague, and is particularly dangerous in children. Monkeypox is on the U.S. government list of pathogens such as anthrax and Ebola with the greatest potential to threaten human health. There is no cure.  The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones