Africa Media Review for October 11, 2016

The DRC’s Oversight Institutions: How Independent?
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s incumbent president, Joseph Kabila, will have completed his second five-year term in office by December 2016. By then he should also have overseen the first-ever peaceful transfer of power in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, elections planned for November have been delayed, and there are widespread concerns that the ruling party intends to try to extend Kabila’s time in power indefinitely. The challenge of African leaders evading term limits is not new. Some 15 incumbents have tried since the continent started its move toward democratization in the 1990s. A determining factor as to whether they are successful is often the degree to which there are sufficiently robust institutions in place to constrain this executive ambition. The ability of key institutions to serve as a check and balance on executive authority, therefore, is a measure of the health of any democracy. This review assesses the state of such institutions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and their capacity for ensuring a participatory and even-handed electoral process. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Congo Opposition Leader Arrested over Deadly Anti-government Protests
An opposition leader in Democratic Republic of Congo was arrested late on Sunday for his role in anti-government demonstrations last month in which more than 50 people died, the government and his party said on Monday. Bruno Tshibala, the deputy secretary-general and spokesman for the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), Congo’s largest opposition party, was arrested Sunday night at Kinshasa airport as he prepared to board a flight for Brussels, the UDPS said in a statement. Government spokesman Lambert Mende confirmed the arrest, saying Tshibala would be questioned by the attorney general’s office on Monday over his role in the protests, including the deaths of a police officer who was burned alive and a young girl. “He is among the people who organised the protests of (September) 19th and 20th,” Mende told Reuters. “Tshibala signed a communique in which he congratulated the protesters.” Times Live

DR Congo: Civilians Killed as Rebels Clash with Army
At least eight civilians have been killed during a firefight between the army and rebels in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Gilbert Kambale, a civil society leader, told AFP news agency on Monday that rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) attacked the town of Beni in North Kivu overnight, with eight civilians, a soldier, and an ADF fighter shot dead. Mak Hazukay, the DRC army’s spokesman, said the civilians were killed in the crossfire between the army and the rebels. “The armed forces of the DRC intercepted the ADF and in the exchanges of fire civilians and soldiers were killed,” Hazukay said. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia Declares State of Emergency as Deadly Protests Continue
The Ethiopian government has declared a state of emergency following a week of anti-government violence that resulted in deaths and property damage across the country, especially in the restive Oromia region. Rights groups say that since last year more than 500 people have been killed in protests in the Oromia region surrounding the capital Addis Ababa. Anger about a development scheme for the capital turned into broader anti-government demonstrations over politics and human rights abuses as the government promotes Ethiopia as one of Africa’s top-performing economies. The government says the death toll is inflated. The Guardian

Ethiopia Blames ‘Foreign Enemies’ Egypt and Eritrea for Wave of Unrest
Ethiopia said Monday that “foreign enemies” such as Egypt and Eritrea are behind the unprecedented wave of protests that has prompted the government to declare a six-month state of emergency. Ethiopia’s government is facing the biggest challenge of its 25 years in power. The unrest has cast a shadow over Ethiopia, whose state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa’s fastest growing economies but whose government also faces criticism at home and abroad over its authoritarian approach to development. Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on Sunday after more than a year of unrest in its Oromiya and Amhara regions, near the capital Addis Ababa, where protesters say the government has trampled on land and other political rights. France 24

Ethiopia Withdraws from Key Somalia Base
Ethiopian troops fighting militant Islamist group al-Shabab have withdrawn from a key military base in central Somalia’s Hiran region, residents say. Al-Shabab fighters have taken control of el-Ali village following the withdrawal, the residents added. Ethiopian forces had destroyed the base before abandoning the area, a radio station run by al-Shabab said. The troops withdrew after the base came under artillery fire, a Somali security official said. Ethiopian has not commented on the withdrawal. In recent weeks it had also withdrawn its forces from the nearby town of Moqokori, AFP news agency reports. In June, al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, said it had killed 60 Ethiopian soldiers in an attack on a base in Halgan town, also in central Somalia. The withdrawal from el-Ali has made a large and strategic area vulnerable to occupation by the militants, reports the BBC’s Ibrahim Aden from the capital, Mogadishu. BBC

Ambush on South Sudanese Highway Kills at Least 30, Army Says
At least 30 people were killed when gunmen ambushed vehicles on a South Sudanese highway that connects the import-dependent country with Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the army said. A truck carrying about 75 civilians between Yei town and the capital, Juba, was attacked Saturday, military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said by phone. About 20 people were wounded, while passengers on two other trucks traveling alongside escaped unharmed, he said. The ambush occurred in the oil-producing country’s southern Equatoria region, where an economically vital road connecting Juba with northern Uganda and the wider East African region has seen sporadic attacks since violence flared in the capital in July. A similar attack in the region’s southern Imatong state claimed seven lives, government chief whip Tulio Odongi Ayuha told a Monday sitting of parliament in the capital. Bloomberg

Women, Children and Razor Wire: Inside a Compound for Boko Haram Families
Beyond the tall, concrete walls of a fortified compound, the authorities are holding a special group of detainees: the wives and children of Boko Haram commanders. Guards stand ready at the gate. Curls of razor wire line the walls. Civilian militia members with AK-47s hanging from their shoulders meander about. The 56 women and children held inside have been there for months, after being swept up by the Nigerian military during raids on Boko Haram strongholds. The state governor, who is operating the detention center, considers them all Boko Haram supporters. “We can’t just release them into society,” Gov. Kashim Shettima said of the women and girls in the compound. “There’s been so much brainwashing.” Continue reading the main story Mr. Shettima, whose Borno State is the center of the war with Boko Haram, called the compound a safe house, not a jail. All of the security not only keeps the outside world safe from the prisoners, but also protects the women inside from angry residents who hate Boko Haram, he argued. The New York Times

Islamist Party Wins New Mandate in Moroccan Elections
The moderate Islamist Party of Justice and Development has won Morocco’s national elections, according to official results released Saturday, despite frustration with its handling of the economy in its five years leading the government and a challenge from a party close to the royal palace. The Interior Ministry said that the PJD won 125 of the 395 seats in the Chamber of Representatives. The Party of Authenticity and Modernity, founded by an adviser to the king, won 102 seats, and several other parties shared the rest of the seats. No party won a majority in Friday’s vote, so the PJD will likely need to create a coalition government. The party won elections in 2011 for the first time, riding a wave of Arab Spring protests demanding political reform and less centralized power within the hands of the royal palace. AP on Yahoo News

Nigeria’s Buhari Seeking Contact with Militants to End Insurgency -Statement
Nigeria is talking to oil companies and seeking to make contact with the leaders of militant groups in an effort to end attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Monday. “Another serious form of insecurity has reared its head in the Niger Delta. The objective is to colonise the country economically by sabotaging oil and gas installations,” Buhari said in a statement. “We are trying to speak with their leaders to know how many groups there are.” Reuters

How is Burundi’s Media Crackdown Adding to An Already Volatile Situation that Threatens Another Civil War?
Burundi has been teetering on the brink of a civil war for the last year and a half. In 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would be taking on a third term – a notion that is illegal according to the constitution. The move is also in breach of the Arusha peace agreement of 2005 which ended the country’s 12-year-long civil war that left 300,000 people dead. Not only did the coup fail, but the government responded in earnest, with a crackdown on local media. The move was well-studied, shutting down all independent radio stations under the guise of an accusation claiming they were allied with the opposition.In protest, Burundians took to the streets in an attempted military coup. Mail and Guardian

Rwanda Genocide: Kagame Warns of ‘Showdown’ with France
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has warned of a “showdown” with France after a French investigation into the events leading to Rwanda’s genocide was reopened. Then-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down in 1994. His assassination triggered nationwide violence, leading to 800,000 deaths. Investigators want to hear evidence from a former general who claims Mr Kagame was involved. President Kagame rejected the allegations, and criticised French authorities for re-opening the investigation last week. BBC

Rwandan MPs Call for Travel Ban on EU Legislators after Scathing Report
Rwandan legislators have called for a conditional travel ban on European Union MPs following a recent damning report that cites lack of “political space” in Rwanda. In a Parliament session on Monday afternoon, furious Rwandan MPs bashed the EU for undermining the sovereignty of Rwanda and asked the government to consider restricting travel for eight EU legislators unless they apologise. The EU politicians were accused of hiding under the veil of “gender empowerment” during a recent visit to Rwanda while they “harboured a hidden agenda” against the country. In September, a delegation of eight members of the EU Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality visited Rwanda but were denied access to jailed opposition leader Victoire Ingabire for absence of a formal request. The East African

Africa Unites to Battle Pirates and Illegal Fishing
Africa will come together to battle piracy and illegal fishing for the first time at an African Union maritime security summit that kicks off in Togo on October 15. The continent urgently needs to fight “extremely high stakes” piracy and illegal fishing in its waters by joining forces over policy and working to raise necessary funds, Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey told AFP ahead of the meeting. “These are very high stakes for Africa. At least 92 percent of imported goods arrive on the continent across the seas and oceans. Of the 54 countries in the African Union, 33 have a coastline,” said Dussey. “During the summit, several issues will be tackled and piracy comes first. A few years ago, it was mostly shipping in the Gulf of Aden, off Somalia, that fell victim to pirates. Now it’s in the Gulf of Guinea. Between 2005 and the present, we have suffered more than 205 attacks. Pirates give priority to raids on oil tankers but they also target merchant shipping. AFP on Times Live

Police, Students Clash as South Africa’s Wits University Reopens
South African police clashed with student protesters demanding free education on Monday at the University of the Witwatersand (Wits) which had reopened after demonstrations forced its closure last week. Demonstrators hurled rocks at shield-wielding private security guards while police fired rubber bullets and teargas to disperse the crowd at the Johannesburg campus. A university spokeswoman earlier said the university had reopened. In a subsequent statement, Wits said: “The majority of lectures resumed this morning but were then disrupted by large groups of protesters.” “We urge students and staff to return to classes this week, even if disruptions occur,” it said. Reuters

With a New Investigation in the Works, Can the ICC Improve its Reputation in Africa?
The tiny west african country of Gabon is newest place the International Criminal Court may probe for serious human rights violations. Allegations of abuse stem from a disputed election last month which set off riots in the country, which has a population of less than 2 million. But with this newest intervention by the International Criminal Court may also come some serious baggage. The ICC’s reputation in Africa has taken a plunge in recent years, despite some landmark cases. Most situations under investigation are in African countries, including a sitting head of state. Compelling arguments have been made by both commentators and African leaders that the power dynamics of international affairs are the reason for the ICC picking primarily on Africa. On the other hand, the Court exists in part to help countries who are unable to conduct their own investigations; so can an argument also be made for the Court to fill that void when needed? UN Dispatch

Merkel’s Migration Mission to Mali
At Bamako International Airport, German Chancellor Angela Merkel walked along almost 70 meters of red carpet as a military band played the German national anthem. Many people lined up to shake her by the hand. This was the first visit to Mali by a German chancellor. Mali is a former French colony and the francophone influence persists to this day. This is evident from the school system, public administration and the fact that at least 20 percent of the Malians speak French. But with its military offensive four years ago to expel militant Islamists, who were taking advantage of a coup in Bamako, France evidently took on too much. Now for the first time France is relying on the support of its European partners in the region. Some 540 German soldiers are stationed in Gao in the north of Mali as part of the United Nations MINUSMA mission, which is supposed to prop up a fragile peace effort. It would apear, though, that in matters of security Mali has largely been left to fend for itself. Deutsche Welle

Why Has the President of Malawi Still Not Gone Home from the U.N. General Assembly?
Last month, Malawian President Peter Mutharika boarded a plane for New York to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly in New York. He still hasn’t come home. It didn’t take long for Malawians to notice his not-so-inconspicuous absence from the capital of Lilongwe, where he has served as president since 2014. And now, rumors are swirling that Mutharika, believed to be 76, has not been documented appearing in public since his Sept. 25 speech at the U.N. because he’s gravely ill and seeking medical treatment in the United States. […] Many foreign leaders, including aging Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, 73, have quietly sought medical treatment abroad. Earlier this year, Buhari was criticized for seeking treatment for an ear infection in the United Kingdom after he promised to improve Nigerian medical facilities in order to put an end to medical tourism. And in Zimbabwe, the state of 92-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s health is at the heart of much political conversation. Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones