Africa Media Review for November 9, 2018

Two Ex-Presidents Neck and Neck in Madagascar Elections
Partial results in Madagascar’s presidential race showed former presidents Andry Rajoelina and Marc Ravalomanana neck and neck as election officials counted ballot papers on Thursday. Rajoelina won 43.5 percent of votes cast in Wednesday’s vote, while Ravalomanana secured 42.44 percent, according to results from 147 polling stations out of 24,852 nationwide. The country’s most recent president Hery Rajaonarimampianina trailed with 2.93 percent of the votes counted so far. The Ceni electoral commission estimated turnout at 47.18 percent. This election came after the outgoing president Rajaonarimampianina’s attempt to change voting laws – which observers say would have excluded Rajoelina and Ravalomanana – led to three months of protests earlier this year. RFI

Former President Alleges Fraud in Madagascar Election
Former Madagascar president Hery Rajaonarimampianina has alleged “many voting irregularities” in this week’s election, raising fears of protests and a disputed result. In a statement on Thursday, Rajaonarimampianina said a number of “anomalies” have been detected, including an “invalid electoral register, intimidation [and] the presence of pre-ticked ballots”. “All indications are that the votes of the Madagascan people have been stolen,” Rajaonarimampianina, who held office from 2014 to September 2018, said. “We will not let the people be robbed of their vote,” he added. As of the latest count, Rajaonarimampianina had won about three percent of the vote based on results from nearly 300 of Madagascar’s 24,852 polling stations. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia: Police Unearth Mass Grave of 200 People
Police have uncovered a mass grave containing an estimated 200 bodies in the eastern part of Ethiopia, state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting reported Thursday. Fana said police were carrying out a court-ordered investigation into alleged abuses by forces loyal to Abdi Mohammed, the former president of an Ethiopian Somali region currently in detention. Authorities have been granted 14 days to unearth and do forensic examinations on the bodies. It is not yet clear where the people are from or what happened to them. Mohammed has been accused of human rights violations and of being connected to the Liyu, an unofficial militia active in the region that is known to have committed violent acts. The unearthed bodies appear to be related to a series of ethnic clashes involving the militant group. Deutsche Welle

Burundi Refuses to Register Key Opposition Party
Burundian authorities have refused to register a new political party by main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, according to a letter seen by AFP Thursday. Rwasa had attempted to create a new party, the National Freedom Front – Hope of the Burundians (FNL – Amizero y’Abarundi), after a new constitution adopted by referendum in May which no longer allows a coalition of independent candidates to run in an election. The former Hutu rebel leader’s current coalition, named Amizero y’Abarundi, won 17 percent of the vote in the 2015 parliamentary polls, making it the main rival to the ruling CnDD-FDD. A letter from the interior ministry to Rwasa said the request to register the party ahead of polls in 2020 was denied over the similarity of its acronym, emblem and slogan to “a party that is already registered”.  AFP

Malawi’s Mutharika Dumps Vice Pres Chilima Ahead of 2019 Elections
Malawian President Peter Mutharika sacked Vice President Saulos Chilima on Wednesday in a cabinet reshuffle, the government said, ahead of a presidential election next year in which Chilima is seen as the biggest threat to Mutharika. Chilima had quit the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in July in protest at alleged corruption in the southern African nation, which has been rocked by graft scandals over the last decade. The issue has resurfaced in the build-up to the elections next year, when the country is also due to elect a new parliament and ward councillors. In July, the president’s office withdrew Chilima’s security clearance, saying he would only have that privilege when performing government duties.  Reuters

Libya Commander Haftar Visits Russia Ahead of Conference
Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu met Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian media reported, signaling Kremlin support ahead of a conference aimed at settling the north African country’s years of strife. Russia’s military has long shown backing for the powerful Libyan commander, who dominates eastern Libya. He has visited Russia before, and last year the Russian defense ministry hosted him aboard its sole aircraft carrier. Shoigu and Haftar discussed the Libyan crisis and the security situation in the Middle East and North Africa, Russian news agencies said, citing a defense ministry statement, without giving details. Italy will host an international conference on Libya on Nov. 12 and 13, which Haftar will attend, Italy has said. Haftar’s office has not confirmed his attendance yet. Reuters

IGAD to Meet as South Sudan Peace Deal Falls Behind Schedule
The IGAD Council of Ministers will hold a meeting on South Sudan this month as the peace deal falls further behind schedule, a top official said. The revitalized peace agreement signed in September will see the creation of a new unity government after eight months. Mawien Makol Ariik, the official spokesman of South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Radio Tamazuj on Thursday that the upcoming IGAD council of ministers’ meeting will assess the implementation of the pre-transitional period to ensure that the peace deal is implemented as planned. “The people of South Sudan want this peace. People are working hard to ensure that the transitional government is formed by May 2019,” he said.  Radio Tamazuj

From #WhatwouldMagufuliDo to #Magufoolishness: What Will John Magufuli Do Next?
[…] Magufuli did things like walking into public hospitals to discover for himself whether they were delivering the public services they promised. Within days of becoming president he discovered that Dar es Salaam’s main hospital lacked beds. So he cancelled the upcoming independence celebrations and diverted the money to buying more beds.1 This sort of no-nonsense approach to governance soon spawned its own hashtag; #WhatwouldMagufuliDo. All over the continent, envious non-Tanzanians tweeted about all the good things Magufuli might do if he applied himself to their problems. Three years later, most of that euphoria looks with hindsight like #Magufoolishness. The original hashtag has taken on a deeply ironic flavour as former fans wonder with growing concern what the next thing Magufuli might do to stamp out freedom. He has gone the way of other “new” African presidents who once raised great hope, like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni or Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. And that’s the way of authoritarianism. Magufuli is still bulldozing through red tape and graft. But he is just as aggressively bulldozing through political freedoms and human rights.  Daily Maverick

Ramaphosa Pushes African Free Trade Agreement, Private Investment
The African Continental Free Trade Area has the potential to fundamentally transform economies on the continent, said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday at the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg. “This is a free trade area that has never been seen in the world. It’s going to be the largest integrated market on the African continent, which is a clear demonstration that indeed Africa is not only on the rise but Africa is on the move,” said Ramaphosa. The free trade agreement was signed in March, with 44 countries having ratified it. Forty-four countries have signed the deal, including economic powerhouses South Africa, Egypt and Kenya, but Nigeria remains hesitant, fearing the dumping of goods in the country. “The fortunes of any country will be even more closely dependent on the fortunes of all countries,” said Ramaphosa, saying the the agreement would include a combined GDP of $3.2-trillion covering 1.2-billion people. Daily Maverick

Ex-Finance Chief Implicates Zuma in South African Looting Spree
Former South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan directly implicated Jacob Zuma in being part of an orchestrated campaign to loot billions of rand in taxpayer funds and decimate state institutions during his almost nine-year tenure as president. Gordhan, who now oversees state companies, made the allegations in a statement to a judicial panel that’s investigating claims that members of the Gupta family exploited their close relationship with Zuma to influence cabinet appointments and raid public coffers — a process known as state capture. Zuma, who quit in February under pressure from the ruling African National Congress, and the Guptas deny wrongdoing. Gordhan, who is due to appear before the commission later this month, said his statement had been leaked to the media and declined to comment further. Bloomberg News was among several news organizations that obtained a copy. Bloomberg

US, Rights Groups Pressure Mauritania over Slavery
International rights groups are urging Mauritania to release anti-slavery activists, as the United States has announced it will end trade benefits to the West African country over the continuation of slavery. Amnesty International and 32 other human rights organizations on Thursday called for the release of 35-year-old blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir, who remains in custody in an undisclosed location, with limited access to his family and no access to his lawyers. Mkhaitir was initially arrested in January 2014 after he published a blog that spoke of slavery and discrimination, including against the blacksmith caste, which he belongs to, according to Amnesty International. He was convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death in December 2014. An appeals court later reduced his punishment to two years imprisonment, which he has served. However, he has not yet been released.  AP

2 Dead in Continuing Unrest in W. African Country of Guinea
Two young men were fatally shot amid continuing political unrest following the disputed results of this West African country’s first municipal elections in 13 years, authorities said Thursday. The two were killed at a demonstration in the capital city of Conakry on Wednesday night, according to police and opposition officials. Protesters have called on the government to release what they consider to be the true results of the poll. After years of waiting, the municipal elections were held in February. More than 100 people have died in the ongoing political violence following that vote. “The party in power stole the opposition voices. These are the voices we are demanding,” said Cellou Dalein Diallo, a Guinean opposition leader. Opposition parties are scrambling to register voters before the upcoming 2020 presidential election, when President Alpha Conde will be at the end of his two-term mandate. Elections had been repeatedly delayed since 2005 due to lack of funding, political tensions, and the Ebola crisis.  AP

Tunisian President Accepts New Ministers, Easing High-Level Standoff
Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said on Thursday he was ready to swear in ten new ministers named in a reshuffle that he had originally rejected, easing a high-level political standoff that has alarmed donors. Prime Minister Youssef Chahed announced the reshuffle on Monday – but Essebsi quickly rejected it, saying he had not been consulted. On Thursday, he relented and told reporters he would swear in the ministers if parliament approved the changes. “I have no problem with the prime minister but I dislike the handling of his reshuffle,” he said. The dispute highlighted tensions at the highest levels of Tunisian politics that have been exacerbated by an economic crisis. Reuters

Illegal Trade and Smuggling Continues at Sudan-Chad Border
The Sudan-Chad border has been the main trading route for merchants in Sudan’s Darfur state. But the border, which has remained a point of tension between the two countries, is also a route for smuggling goods worth millions of dollars in and out of the country. The border has been shut down several times over the past decade due to the smuggling of weapons, cars and other goods, but the illegal trading continues.  Al Jazeera

Senegal Targets Higher Royalties, Bigger Stakes in New Oil Code
Senegal is considering raising royalties and taking a bigger stake in oil and natural gas projects as part of the West African nation’s overhaul of its oil code, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg. Senegal is revising its code as a string of major discoveries off its coast is expected to make the country an oil exporter in coming years, with explorers including BP Plc and FAR Ltd. due to make investment decisions on projects within the next 12 months. Existing regulations are two decades old and were adopted when the nation wanted to attract investment for largely untested resources. A draft of the new code is proposing that state-owned oil producer Societe Des Petroles Du Senegal, also known as Petrosen, take a stake of between 10 percent and 30 percent in operational fields and a carried interest of the same size when projects are being developed, according to the document. Existing regulation limits Petrosen’s holding to 20 percent for these stages. Bloomberg

U.S. Agency Pledges $550 Million to Improve Senegal Power Supply
The U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corp. approved a five-year $550 million agreement to increase reliability and access to electricity in Senegal, one of Africa’s fastest expanding economies. The compact consists of three projects, including the strengthening of the West African nation’s transmission network, increasing access to electricity in rural areas and an overhaul of the sector’s regulatory framework, the foreign aid agency said in a statement on its website dated Wednesday. Senegal will contribute an additional $50 million to implement the projects, said the agency. Senegal’s gross domestic product expanded by 6.8 percent in 2017 and is on course to grow by a similar rate this year, buoyed by investment in infrastructure and services. Bloomberg

DRC, Congo Sign $500M Deal to Build Kinshasa-Brazzaville Connecting Bridge
The African Development Bank (AfDB) and Africa50 on Thursday signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Congo to develop and finance the first road-rail bridge project linking their capitals – Kinshasa and Brazzaville. This landmark project consists of a 1 575km toll bridge over the Congo River. It will include a single railway track, a double-lane road, sidewalks, and a single border checkpoint at each end, connecting to existing road infrastructure in both countries.  The two governments have mandated Africa50 – an infrastructure investment platform investing in bankable projects – and the AfDB to develop the project as a public/private partnership, while the bank will act as the debt provider under the aegis of the Economic Community of Central African States.  IOL News