Africa Media Review for October 11, 2017

Kenya Election Thrown into Turmoil as Top Opposition Candidate Withdraws
Kenya’s main opposition leader announced Tuesday that he was dropping out of a rerun of the August presidential election, casting doubts on the legitimacy of the voting process. Kenya is a key U.S. partner on the continent and has the most dynamic economy in East Africa, but its rowdy elections are often plagued by violence, threatening the country’s stability. Even for Kenya’s often lively politics, however, the latest developments mark a plunge into uncharted waters, with first an election outcome struck down and now a candidate walking away. It was a legal challenge by opposition politician Raila Odinga that prompted the Supreme Court, citing irregularities, to nullify the results of the Aug. 8 election, won by incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. But Odinga, who leads the National Super Alliance (NASA), says not enough has been done to address the problems. He has singled out the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for particular criticism, deeming it “rotten.”  The Washington Post

Liberia’s Ballot Count Starts after Peaceful End to Voting
Election officials in Liberia started counting ballot papers after voting stations closed in presidential and parliamentary polls that regional observers say have been conducted peacefully. Bloomberg

He Was the Face of Liberia’s Endless War. Now He Wants to Govern.
Joseph Duo edged his yellow taxi toward the river and boarded a canoe with stacks of grimy Liberian dollars and a backpack full of fliers promising more food, free education and better clinics. He marched down a damp muddy path, until the forest parted into a poor village named Zangar Town. His message was simple: Vote for me. Fourteen years ago Mr. Duo did not cast the clean-cut, earnest image voters see today in his campaign posters, which are emblazoned with the word “Transformation.” During the final throes of Liberia’s 14-year civil war, Mr. Duo was photographed jumping in the air: his torso bare and muscle-carved, his face stretched with excitement after he fired a rocket-propelled grenade at rebels. The picture, taken by the photographer Chris Hondros — who died in Misurata, Libya, in 2011 — became one of the defining images of a conflict that killed an estimated 250,000 people and displaced more than two million. The New York Times

Rwanda Illegally Detaining, Torturing Civilians: HRW
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a report detailing unlawful detention and torture in Rwanda. The 91-page report – We Will Force You to Confess: Torture and Unlawful Military Detention in Rwanda – alleges details widespread and systematic torture by the military and accuses judges of being complicit in the creation of a culture of impunity for the armed forces. Victims were beaten until they signed confessions, often on fabricated charges, in a series of centres around the country, HRW says, claiming that Rwandan officials use torture whenever they please. This is not the first time Rwanda has been accused of torture. Al Jazeera

SADC Delays Sending Protection Force into Troubled Lesotho
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has decided to send another technical assessment mission to Lesotho before taking the crucial step of sending a peacekeeping force into the troubled country. SADC military chiefs met in Luanda on Friday to consider recommendations for a “multidimensional” contingent force of about 1,000 military, civilian, police and intelligence officials to go into Lesotho by 1 November. Its initial mission would be to protect Prime Minister Tom Thabane’s government as it attempts to implement previous SADC recommendations to crack down on military officers guilty of several serious crimes, including the murder of former military chief Maaparankoe Mahao in June 2015. Daily Maverick

Niger Attack Lays Bare U.S. Troops’ Long Wait for Medical Help in Africa
[…] The operation, which left four American soldiers dead and two wounded, is now under investigation, Pentagon officials said. That inquiry, senior military officials said, will likely reveal that the American troops had deployed to a hostile area without adequately assessing the risk, and lacked ready access to medical support. Battlefield commanders have called medical aid an ethical obligation. The Defense Department follows a “golden-hour standard,” in which the military seeks to whisk wounded American troops from the battlefield within an hour of being wounded to give them access to advanced care and the best chance to save their lives. But in Africa, the time frame for evacuating injured American troops is much longer, and particularly in West Africa, military officials acknowledged this week. The team of roughly a dozen Army Special Forces in Niger were on what officials said a routine reconnaissance mission, and when they were ambushed, no American helicopters came. The French military, based about 275 miles away in neighboring Burkina Faso, scrambled to help, eventually rescuing the casualties and providing attack support. The lack of help called into question whether the American military is providing enough resources for troops undertaking dangerous missions in Africa. The New York Times

The Central African Republic Could Be on the Brink of a Bloodbath
[…] Successful democratic elections early last year spurred hopes that the conflict might finally end. But clashes erupted again in November. Since then, hundreds have died and tens of thousands have been forced from their homes amid escalating violence between the dozen or so armed groups controlling some 80 percent of the Central African Republic. Attacks are taking on increasingly sectarian overtones. U.N. officials have raised alarms about “early warning signs of genocide.” Diplomats and relief workers say this impoverished country of about 4.6 million runs the risk of an all-out civil war, which would compound the humanitarian crisis and create new security problems in a region already grappling with extremist groups such as Boko Haram. […] Analysts say the latest violence is due in part to the new government’s failure to satisfy the armed groups’ demands for political representation and amnesty. The Washington Post

EU Aims to Reopen Embassy in Libya
The European Union is seeking to reopen its embassy in Libya pending security conditions, officials said on Tuesday, offering further political support for the Tripoli government struggling to establish control. EU leaders will announce at their summit in Brussels on Oct. 19-20 that they “encourage work underway to rapidly establish a permanent EU presence in Libya”, according to their draft joint statement seen by Reuters. But the statement makes clear no such move is imminent as it would be conditional on improving the security situation on the ground. The EU moved its mission to neighbouring Tunisia in mid-2014 as security worsened in Libya amid escalating fighting between rival factions since the 2011 fall of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, ousted by rebels during a NATO bombing campaign. Reuters

S. Sudan Integrating Ex-Rebels into National Army
South Sudan said Tuesday that former rebel fighters are now being integrated into the national army (SPLA) in line with the agreement between President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Taban Deng Gai last year. Minister of Defence Kuol Manyang Juuk told Xinhua that absence of cantonment areas due to financial difficulty have forced them to directly integrate into the SPLA some former SPLA-in opposition (SPLA-IO) rebels allied to former First Vice President Riek Machar. “We have started integrating the elements of the SPLA-IO in the Yei area. They are now being taken into the SPLA directly, because the cantonment areas are not yet in place due to lack of financial support for setting up these areas,” Juuk said in Juba. Xinhua

South Sudan Peace Partners Split over IGAD Consultation
South Sudanese peace partners in the national unity government have released conflicting statements in which they expressed divergent opinions over their participation in the proposed revitalization of the 2015 peace agreement by Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The former political detainees in the unity government on Saturday issued a statement welcoming separate consultations proposed by IGAD to revitalize the 2015 peace agreement, saying they do not see any problem in separate consultation with all individual parties or even entity. “We do not see any issue in IGAD consulting all parties separately or even as one entity. It is our strong belief and hope that the convening of the proposed ARCSS Revitalization Forum by IGAD, will greatly enhance current efforts being undertaken by the parties to the agreement in South Sudan and their regional and international partners, to bring about durable peace and stability to our war-torn country and the immense suffering of our people”, the October 7th, 2017 statement reads in part. Sudan Tribune

Somaliland Elections on Track for November
Somaliland’s National Electoral Commission has released the total number of registered Voters with Identification Cards to vote in the upcoming November election. The data which was released at a news conference Tuesday put the total number of registered and eligible voters in Somaliland at 704,089. Speaking to VOA Somali, NEC spokesman, Sa’id Ali Muse said the commission has completed the distribution and the cleaning up of voter registration identification cards and released the list to Somaland’s three political parties and the minister of interior. VOA

DRC’s Katumbi Plans December 2017 Return to Face ‘Scared’ Kabila
Moise Katumbi, exiled opposition leader and presidential hopeful of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) says he will return to the country in December this year to participate in elections. Katumbi, 52, says he remains the only political opposition figure that incumbent Joseph Kabila was afraid of. “The only man Kabila is scared about in the country is me,” Katumbi said. “Congo is losing every day, every minute, every second Mr. Kabila is in office. His mandate is finished,” he told journalists in London on Monday. Africa News

7 NGOs Seek Expanded Sanctions on DR Congo
Seven international NGOs on Tuesday pushed for expanded targeted sanctions by the U.S. and European Union on President Joseph Kabila’s family members and financial associates, who they allege are benefiting from unlawful activity in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Congo’s international partners should show President Kabila that there are real consequences for his abusive rule by imposing sanctions on those family members and financial associates unlawfully benefitting from his unconstitutional power grab,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch, one of the NGOs. “Waiting any longer will only embolden Kabila’s use of violence, repression, and theft to stay in power, and the Congolese people will continue to pay the biggest price.” Anadolu Agency

Nearly There, but Never Further Away
[…] Eighteen months after the EU unveiled its controversial plan to curb illegal migration through Libya — now the primary point of departure for sub-Saharan Africans crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe — migrants have become a commodity to be captured, sold, traded, and leveraged. Regardless of their immigration status, they are hunted down by militias loyal to Libya’s U.N.-backed government, caged in overcrowded prisons, and sold on open markets that human rights advocates have likened to slave auctions. They have been tortured, raped, and killed — abuses that are sometimes broadcast online by the abusers themselves as they attempt to extract ransoms from migrants’ families. Foreign Policy

Algeria Prevents Candidates from Separatist Movements from Running for Municipal Elections
The Algerian authorities are reported to have denied potential candidates from running for the municipal elections, scheduled for 23 November, on suspicions of belonging to two separatist movements. Media sources said the the local administrations in Tizi Ouzou, Bejaia and Ghardaia have removed the candidates believed to belong to the movement for the independence of the Kabylie region (MAK), led by Ferhat Mhenni who lives in exile in France and the movement for the autonomy in Ghardaia province led by Fekhar Kamal. In the Kabylie region, the local administration is reported to have rejected the nomination of about 30 people because they belong to MAK, which the regime views as threat to the country’s stability and security. Middle East Monitor

Nigeria Schools: Kaduna Primary Teachers Fail Pupils’ Exam
Thousands of primary school teachers in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state are to be sacked after failing the exams they set for their six-year-old pupils. State governor Nasir El-Rufai said 21,780 teachers, two-thirds of the total, had failed to score 75% or higher on assessments given to pupils. He said 25,000 new teachers would be recruited to replace them. Mr El-Rufai made the comments at a meeting with World Bank representatives in the state capital, Kaduna. “The hiring of teachers in the past was politicised and we intend to change that by bringing in young and qualified primary school teachers to restore the dignity of education in the state,” he was quoted as saying by Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper. BBC

The Lion’s Head and Tail: A Discussion on Countering Insurgencies with General Mahamane Touré
Insurgencies represent a crucial component of the African security landscape. They reflect the resorting to violence of groups responding to an assortment of grievances—economic, political, or communal—or opportunistically exploiting weak governments to pursue the self-interests of insurgent leaders. Counterinsurgency responses, however, have tended to focus almost exclusively on military means, rather than the diverse drivers of these conflicts. Former Malian Defense Chief of Staff General Mahamane Touré reflects on lessons learned from Mali’s counter insurgency efforts in the North. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

 



Photo: Adam Jones