Africa Media Review for October 12, 2016

US warns Ethiopia over clampdown
The US has warned Ethiopia that the state of emergency it imposed on Sunday will be a “self-defeating tactic” if it leads to dissent being suppressed, AFP news agency reports. It quoted US State Department spokesman John Kirby as saying the government needed to clarify how it intended to implement a state of emergency which authorised “detention without a warrant, limitations on free speech, prohibitions on public gatherings and the imposition of curfews”. Mr Kirby added that “even if these measures are intended to restore order, silencing independent voices and interfering with the rights of Ethiopians is a self-defeating tactic” that could worsen the situation. BBC

German Leader Calls for Ethiopia to Open Up Politics after Unrest
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Ethiopia on Tuesday to open up its politics and ensure police do not use heavy-handed tactics against protesters, after more than a year of unrest that rights groups say has led to about 500 deaths. Merkel, who spoke at a news conference with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, arrived in Ethiopia after a fresh flare-up near the capital of the clashes that have cast a shadow over a nation with one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. The violence prompted the government to declare a nationwide state of emergency on Sunday. It says the death toll cited by rights groups is exaggerated and blames the wave of violence on “armed gangs” backed by foreigners. Reuters

Ethiopia PM Seeks to ‘Reform Electoral System’ after Protests
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn has said on Tuesday his government wants to reform the country’s electoral system, which has excluded the opposition and prompted months of bloody protests. “Because of this electoral system 51% of votes is enough to win all the seats,” he told journalists after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We want to reform the electoral system so the voices of those who are not represented can also be heard in the parliament.” Under Ethiopia’s current system, Hailemariam’s ruling coalition took every one of the 546 seats in parliament during last year’s election. News 24

Ethiopian protesters Attack factories in Africa’s Rising Economic Star
Protesters in Ethiopia damaged almost a dozen mostly foreign-owned factories and flower farms and destroyed scores of vehicles this week, adding economic casualties to a rising death toll in a wave of unrest over land grabs and rights. The violence has cast a shadow over a nation where a state-led industrial drive has created one of Africa’s fastest growing economies, but where the government has also faced rising international criticism and popular opposition to its authoritarian approach to development. The flare-up followed the death of at least 55 people in a stampede on Sunday when police fired tear gas and shot into the air to disperse demonstrators in the Oromiya region near the capital. Reuters

Burundi Isolates Itself further with Rejection of UN Rights Experts
In a letter sent by Foreign Minister Alain Aimé Nyamitwe, the Burundian government said the three UN investigators – Pablo de Greiff from Colombia, Christof Heyns from South Africa and Maya Sahli-Fadel of Algeria – were declared persona non grata with immediate effect. With escalating violence and the rejection of outside intervention, Burundi has become increasingly isolated diplomatically itself in recent months. About a year ago, the African Union threatened to send thousands of soldiers, to intervene in the country – an intervention authorised without the consent of Bujumbura. RFI

UN Warns of Possible ‘Large-scale’ Election Violence in DRC
The U.N.’s top diplomat in the Democratic Republic of Congo warned Tuesday the country has “entered a period of extreme risk to its stability,” as the electoral crisis deepens. “The electoral crisis has become a constitutional crisis, with deepening political polarization and no immediate resolution in sight,” Maman Sambo Sidikou, the head of the U.N. mission in DRC told the Security Council. “Actors on all sides appear more and more willing to resort to violence to achieve their ends, while the space for constructive political activity has shrunk further still,” he said. “If this trajectory continues, I believe large-scale violence is all but inevitable,” he warned. VOA

Blast Kills More Than 18 in Maiduguri
A blast has ripped through a convoy of vehicles in the outskirt of Maiduguri killing at least 18. The explosion went off this morning at Muna garage, which is not passable without a military escort, on the way to Gamboru Ngala. Trucks and vehicles conveying goods and passengers towards the area normally go in a convoy escorted by military men. An eye witness said he saw 10 corpses at the scene of the explosion, but a source in Maiduguri Specialist Hospital told Daily Trust that at least 18 bodies have been deposited in the hospital morgue with more being expected. Daily Trust

Boko Haram: Navy Commences Deployment of Troops to Lake Chad Naval Post
The Nigerian Navy has finally commenced the deployment of its personnel and other logistics to Lake Chad Basin naval post to effectively counter the activities of Boko Haram terrorists and other criminal elements in the maritime area. The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, disclosed this on Monday during the inauguration of the 2016 CNS Strategic Directive 2, at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja. Ibas revealed that the “movement of the advance party to protect Nigeria’s territorial interest on the Lake, bordering Nigeria’s and countries in the Sahel region commenced last month”. “And it will interest you to know that the NN has commence deployment to Lake Chad Basin to help fight Maritime Crime related Issues arising around its environs. This signals the presence of the NN that area,” he said. This Day Live

Nigeria: Lawmakers Blast ‘Gestapo’ Raids on Judges
Nigeria’s Senate Tuesday condemned weekend raids on the homes and arrest of at least seven judges, arguing that the secret police’s “Gestapo-like” approach was antithetical to democracy and the rule of law. But the Senate failed to summon the secret police chief to explain the operation, the first of its kind in the country’s history. Instead, it called on security agencies to “stay within the limits” of the law in carrying out their operation. “Any anti-corruption action that goes against the rule of law does not help the fight against corruption,” Senate President Bukola Saraki said after the motion was adopted and its recommendations passed on to the parliamentary Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. The motion condemning the raid was sponsored by Senator Joshua Ladan and seconded by his colleague Dino Melaiye. Both insisted that the secret police had acted outside its purview. Anadolu Agency

The U.S. Dollar Is Zimbabwe’s Main Currency, And It’s Disappearing Fast
The last time Zimbabwe went into economic freefall, in 2009, inflation was a mind-boggling 200 million percent. Shoppers had to carry the colorful bank notes, in billion- and trillion-dollar denominations, in bags to pay for basics. To address the crisis, President Robert Mugabe’s government abandoned Zimbabwe’s own currency and adopted the U.S. dollar as legal tender. That helped end hyperinflation and helped stabilize Zimbabwe’s economy. But today, the economy is again in a tailspin and the country is in desperate need of a new solution. U.S. dollars are still the main currency, but they are in critically short supply. NPR

Senior Renamo Negotiator in Mozambique Peace Talks Shot Dead
A senior official of Mozambique’s Renamo opposition party was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on a Maputo beach, Renamo’s national spokesperson was quoted as saying, potentially blocking progress in its talks with the government. The killing of Jeremias Pondeca, a member of the Joint Commission set up to find solutions in the standoff between the government and Renamo, comes days before the commission was due to resume its work. It was not immediately clear if it would do so following the shooting. Pondeca was shot while exercising on the beach on Saturday, Renamo spokesman Antonio Muchanga was quoted as saying by state news agency AIM. Mail and Guardian

Ivory Coast Parliament Approves New Constitution Draft
Ivory Coast’s parliament has approved the draft of a new constitution that removes age limits and erases nationality rules for the presidency. Backed by President Alassane Ouattara, the text scraps the requirement that both parents of presidential candidates must be native-born Ivorians. The clause barred Mr Ouattara himself for running for the post in the past. Opponents say the changes will help him to stay in power. The text will now go to a popular vote on 30 October. The question of national identity has long been a source of tension in Ivory Coast, and the nationality rule was resented by many in the north, where families have ties to neighbouring countries. BBC

South Africa’s Finance Minister Issued with Summons
South Africa’s Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, has received a summons to appear in court on charges of fraud. It relates to allegations of misconduct when he was in charge of the country’s tax collection service a decade ago. Mr Gordhan has said the allegations are wholly unfounded and are politically motivated. The summons requires him to appear in court on 2 November, which is after his budget policy statement due later this month. BBC

British National ‘Arrested in Kenya on Suspicion of Recruiting for al-Shabaab’
A British national has reportedly been arrested in Kenya on suspicion of recruiting for the jihadist militant group al-Shabaab. The suspect was arrested alongside two women of Somali origin at a house in an up-market neighbourhood of the Kenyan capital Nairobi, not far from the UN headquarters in the country. According to The Star newspaper, police said they found items in the house including training literature. The three were arrested by detectives from Flying Squad and the Special Crime Prevention Unit in a noon raid on Tuesday. The Independent

UN warns South Sudan over Troops Deployment Dates
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has sent a strong message to South Sudan to adhere to the international agreement on the deployment of the additional 4,000 troops to the country. In a statement issued to the media, Mr Ban complained that Juba was not putting into action most of its promises on the acceptance of the regional force. Although Juba convinced the UN that it was ready to comply with the international concern, it has expressed reservations about the neutrality of the countries which could contribute the troops. Mr Ban said Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda were the target countries to contribute the soldiers. The East African

Bashir Extends Olive Branch to Rivals to Join ‘New Sudan’ Govt
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has extended an olive branch to opposition parties and rebel groups that failed to sign the October 10 national dialogue agreement. President Bashir, who has declared that he would leave office in 2020 after coming to power in 1989, also said he had prolonged the unilateral cessation of hostilities in the war zones for another two months. The Sudanese leader was speaking Tuesday at Saha Alkhadia Park in Khartoum where he reiterated that a national mechanism would be established to draft a new constitution. The 72-year-old Bashir said the extension of the ceasefire until December, was to create a climate conducive for dialogue and peace, and that the national dialogue agreement would remain open for the opposition groups that were still opposed to his approach to the political crisis. The East African

Merkel Promises Millions in Aid to Stem Migrant Flow on Africa Tour
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday announced a €27 million aid package for Niger, her second stop on a three-nation Africa tour aimed at fighting terrorism and stemming the migrant flow to Europe. The German leader said the army of the arid West African country, one of the world’s poorest, would receive €10 million in equipment next year. Niger is a key transit point for people from sub-Saharan Africa who try to cross the Mediterranean to enter Europe. Merkel also promised €17 million in development aid for Niger’s desperately impoverished Agadez region, which she said can no longer subsist on its once-thriving tourism industry. France 24

UN Wants to Vaccinate 41 Million African Kids Against Polio
Email The U.N. children’s agency says a major health campaign is taking place to vaccinate 41 million children against polio in the four countries comprising the Lake Chad Basin — Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. UNICEF said Tuesday the re-emergence of polio after two years without any reported cases is “a huge concern” especially in an area where Boko Haram Islamic extremists are active. The agency said nearly 39,000 health workers are deployed in high-risk areas and so far approximately 30 million children have been vaccinated with the oral polio vaccine. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said UNICEF’s response remains hampered by continued insecurity and by a lack of funding. Only $50.4 million of the $158 million needed for the emergency vaccination campaign has been received so far, he said. AP on ABC News

Back to Square One in Tunisia as Protests Spread, Promise Fades
Unrest in Tunisia triggered the Arab Spring, and it’s bubbling up again. In the capital, ministers have to pick their way around the mattresses and tattered blankets of protest camps to get to work. No one here has publicly killed themselves, as an unemployed street vendor famously did in 2010. But Thouraya Ferchichi says she’s come close. “I tried to commit suicide and cut my veins,” said Ferchichi, a 34-year-old who’s taken part in a sit-in outside the Employment Ministry in Tunis since it began eight months ago. “We’re back to where we started,” she says of the post-revolution years. “Marginalization, humiliation and unemployment.” Bloomberg

INTERPOL Warns Morocco of 6,000 ISIS-Linked Fake Passports
Morocco will be strengthening security at airports to identify the passports and prevent ISIS fighters from boarding a flight to their intended destination or entering the kingdom. The international police organization has provided national authorities with the personal information through which the passports have been registered and has asked for the data to be distributed to all Moroccan airports. Other countries that could come in contact with the passports have also been notified of the fake documents and have been encouraged to share any new information regarding those who held the illegitimate documentation. In November 2015, INTERPOL’s Foreign Terrorist Fighter’s Working Group claimed roughly 10 percent of the 25,000 jihadists that have joined ISIS are Moroccans. The group conducted a census of the fighters and found them to be from over 50 countries. Morocco World News



Photo: Adam Jones