Africa Media Review for October 12, 2017

Congo Vote Delayed until 2019, Electoral Commission Says
Congo’s long-delayed presidential vote cannot take place until 2019 despite a deal with the opposition that it would occur this year, a top election official said Wednesday. The opposition immediately called the move a power grab, accusing President Joseph Kabila of seeking to extend his rule. There had been indications the election would be pushed back to 2018, but the new announcement escalated an already tense situation in the vast Central African nation. Kabila’s mandate ended in December, but a court has ruled that he can stay in office until the next election. The delay has been met with sometimes deadly protests in the capital, Kinshasa, and other major cities in the country of more than 77 million people. AP

‘Everything Is Going to Plan’ – Liberians Vote in First Election Run without UN
Liberians have voted in large numbers in the first election run entirely by the country’s institutions and security forces since the civil war. Police officers and election officials who had been preparing for months took their places at polling stations, listening sympathetically to complaints about impatient voters pushing in the queue and missing names on the rolls. Though there were reports of ballots not arriving at stations until mid-afternoon, and of a politician being arrested after handing out money, such incidents appeared to be fairly isolated. A video of police dealing with “election violence” which circulated on Facebook turned out to be just a drill. The Guardian

Kenya Says All Previous Candidates Can Run in Fresh Election
All eight candidates for the Kenya presidential election that was annulled can participate in the new vote later this month, the election commission announced Wednesday, saying opposition leader Raila Odinga is still considered a candidate because he hasn’t turned in the required withdrawal form. The announcement came hours after a high court decision to allow candidate Ekuru Aukot, who received just 27,000 votes of the 15 million cast in August’s election. The Oct. 26 vote at first was limited to President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose legal challenge of the August vote led the Supreme Court to annul it over “irregularities.” Odinga withdrew his candidature Tuesday, citing a lack of election commission reforms. No candidate aside from Kenyatta and Odinga had received even 1 percent of the vote in August. Odinga’s withdrawal threw East Africa’s largest economy into confusion as Kenyans wondered how the new vote would go ahead. Los Angeles Times

Kenya Bans Protests in Main City Centers
Kenya’s government on Thursday banned protests in the centres of three major cities, including the capital Nairobi, citing lawlessness following opposition demonstrations against the country’s electoral commission. “Due to the clear, present and imminent danger of breach of peace, the government notifies the public that, for the time being, we will not allow demonstrations within the central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu,” said Security Minister Fred Matiangi. “The inspector general of police has been advised accordingly.” The outlawing of city centre protests comes as the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) had promised to step up its demonstrations demanding reforms before the holding of a presidential poll re-run, due on 26 October. AFP

Kenya Parliament Passes Bill to Amend Electoral Laws
Kenya legislators have approved the controversial Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that seeks to strip the electoral agency chairman, Wafula Chebukati, of his role as the sole returning officer of the presidential election. Ruling Jubilee party MPs in the National Assembly unanimously approved the Bill that also opens the door for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to use the manual system in transmitting election results for the repeat presidential election slated for October 26 in the event electronic systems fail. The Bill seeks to ensure that the IEBC transmits electronically and manually the tabulated results of a presidential election from a polling station to the constituency tallying centre and to the national tallying centre. The East African

US Military Probes Possible Changes after Niger Attack: Mattis
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday said the military is looking at possible adaptations following last week’s deadly ambush on a joint US-Niger patrol. The October 4 attack near the Mali border, thought to have been carried out by a regional affiliate of the Islamic State group, resulted in the deaths of four US soldiers and at least four Nigerien troops. “We will look at this and say was there some things we have to adapt to,” Mattis said. “We are not complacent, we are going to be better,” he added. Speaking to reporters as he traveled to a military headquarters in Florida, Mattis said French aircraft were on the scene of the attack within 30 minutes. AFP

Militants That Attacked US Troops in Niger Were New to Area
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the Islamic militants that ambushed and killed U.S. Army commandoes in Niger last week hadn’t operated in that area before. Mattis is rejecting suggestions that rescue forces were slow to respond to the assault. But he says the U.S. military is reviewing whether changes should be made to these types of training missions in Africa. U.S. officials have said they believe militants linked to the Islamic State group were responsible for the attack. Three Army commandoes and a soldier were killed when dozens of militants ambushed them during a joint patrol with Niger troops. The U.S. troops were in unarmored trucks. AP

Pentagon Blames Islamic State in Deadly Attack on US Forces in Niger
The Pentagon said Wednesday that Islamic State fighters were responsible for an attack in southwestern Niger that killed four American soldiers, as new details suggested local villagers might have played a role in the ambush. Army Lieutenant Colonel Michelle Baldanza, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told VOA that IS militants ambushed U.S. and Nigerien forces during the October 4 firefight that also killed four of Niger’s security personnel. U.S. Army Special Forces, also known as Green Berets, had just completed a meeting with local leaders and were walking back to their vehicles when they were attacked, according to a U.S. official, who spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing. VOA

Burkina Faso Ex-Minister Charged with Treason to Get Pre-Trial Release
Burkina Faso’s former foreign minister will be released from jail pending trial for treason over his alleged involvement in a coup attempt in 2015, his lawyer said on Wednesday. Djibril Bassole was the last foreign minister under president Blaise Compaore who ruled for three decades before being driven out of power by mass protests in 2014. He is among two dozen people accused of participating in the coup attempt the following year mounted by the presidential guard led by Compaore’s military advisor General Gilbert Diendere. Bassole’s defence lawyer, Dieudonne Bonkoungou, said the military tribunal trying the case had agreed to his provisional release. It was not immediately clear when that would happen. Reuters

European Rights Chief Questions Italy’s Migrant Deals with Libya
The Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks has written to Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti seeking clarification on the deployment of Italian naval ships in Libyan waters to boost the North African country’s efforts to combat people smuggling. In a September 28 letter published on Wednesday, Muiznieks warned Italy that it risked violating the European Convention on Human Rights if it hands over migrants intercepted at sea to Libyan authorities. Muiznieks asked Minniti “what safeguards Italy has put in place to ensure” that the migrants intercepted and rescued by Italian vessels in Libyan territorial waters are not subject to torture or inhuman treatment. Deutsche Welle

Togo’s Opposition Keeps Call for Protest despite Ban
Togo’s opposition on Wednesday refused to cancel two protests planned for next week, despite a government ban on political marches on weekdays. Fourteen parties called on their supporters to take to the streets against President Faure Gnassingbe next Wednesday and Thursday. “Wednesday’s march will end on the esplanade outside the National Assembly,” the spokesperson for the main opposition National Alliance for Change (ANC), Eric Dupuy, told AFP. “The one on the 19th (Thursday), will finish outside the Ecowas offices,” he added, referring to the West African regional bloc. Dupuy maintained the opposition had given proper notification for the demonstrations, as required in law. AFP

Sudan Receives First US Dollar Transfers since Sanctions Lifted
Sudan’s central bank said on Wednesday it had received its first overseas fund transfer in US dollars since Washington announced the lifting of a 20-year-old trade embargo against Khartoum. Washington last week announced the lifting of sanctions from this on Thursday onwards, saying Khartoum had made progress on conditions set for ending the embargo, in place since 1997. “The transferring of American dollars has commenced after the lifting of sanctions,” Sudan’s official news agency SUNA said, quoting a statement from the Central Bank of Sudan. “Yesterday, two Sudanese banks received overseas money transfers in US dollars, one from America and another from Europe,” it said, without specifying the amounts or the banks’ names. AFP

Activists on Trial in Morocco for Violating National Security after Using App
The trial of seven Moroccan writers and pro-democracy activists has again been postponed, some accused of undermining national security, amid a crackdown on pro-democracy voices. The seven have been accused for allegedly promoting independent journalism, after teaching citizen journalists how to use Story Maker, a smartphone app that produces and publishes news stories. Five stand accused of violating national security and could face up to five years in prison. The other two are accused of benefitting from foreign funding to harm the image of Morocco. “This trial is political,” said Maati Monjib, a Moroccan historian at Mohammed V University in Rabat who is among those charged with a national security violation. “Its aim is to silence us.” A court in Rabat on Wednesday postponed the trial, for the ninth time in two years. Middle East Eye

For Dignity and Development, East Africa Curbs Used Clothes Imports
In Kenya, they are called the “clothes of dead white people.” In Mozambique, they are the “clothing of calamity.” They are nicknames for the unwanted, used clothing from the West that so often ends up in Africa. Now, a handful of countries here in East Africa no longer want the foreign hand-me-downs dumped on them because they’re trying to manufacture their own clothes. But they say they’re being punished for it — by the United States. Here in East Africa, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Burundi have been trying to phase out imports of secondhand clothing and shoes over the last year, saying the influx of old items undermines their efforts to build domestic textile industries. The countries want to impose an outright ban by 2019. Across Africa, secondhand merchandise is the primary source of clothing — much as it is for cars, planes, hospital equipment, computers and sometimes even drugs that have passed their expiration date. The New York Times

How Much Does an African President Earn?
After Tanzanian President John Magufuli publicly revealed his official salary, here’s a look at what some other African leaders are paid. BBC

OECD: Laws Discriminating against Women Cost Mideast, North Africa Billions of Dollars
Women in the Middle East and North Africa are better educated than ever before, but legal and social barriers are hampering their access to jobs and careers, costing the region billions of dollars a year, experts said Wednesday. Just under a quarter of women in the region are in the workforce — one of the lowest rates in the world, said the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The region also has the lowest proportion of female entrepreneurs, according to an OECD report that examines barriers to their employment in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. Nicola Ehlermann, an OECD expert on the region, said girls’ education was encouraged but professional aspirations were not. VOA

Revealed: The 10 Worst Countries for Girls to Get an Education
South Sudan has been named as the toughest nation in the world for girls to receive an education, with nearly three-quarters failing to attend even primary school, according to an index published this week. Central African Republic, where there is only one teacher for every 80 students, and Niger, where just 17% of women aged 15 to 24 are literate, followed South Sudan on the list compiled by the One campaign, which estimates that more than 130 million girls worldwide fail to attend school every single day of the year. Nine of the top 10 most difficult nations for girls to be educated are in sub-Saharan Africa. Afghanistan, which has the highest level of gender disparity in primary school, is the only non-African country to make the list, ranking in fourth place. Chad is fifth, followed by Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Liberia and Ethiopia. The Guardian

Africa’s “Reverse Missionaries” Are Bringing Christianity Back to the United Kingdom
Fourteen years ago, Reuben Ekeme Inwe’s wife, Roselyn, had a dream. In it Inwe is preaching to a large crowd—not unusual given the young pastor had been delivering sermons in Lagos for years—but this time the faces in the audience aren’t black but white. A material like white sand falls on the building where Inwe and his fictive congregation have gathered. “We later recognized this was snow. There’s definitely no snow in Lagos,” Inwe says, seated at a cafe in York’s old city center of winding lanes and overhanging second-story shops. Roselyn’s dream, or “vision” as Inwe now refers to it, would be the first of several signs that led the couple to uproot their lives in Nigeria and move to the north of England. Here, their mission is to spread the gospel, specifically among white British nonbelievers. Quartz

 



Photo: Adam Jones