Africa Media Review for October 13, 2017

Chad Pulls Troops from Fight against Boko Haram in Niger
Chad has withdrawn hundreds of troops from neighboring Niger, where they were helping local forces fight Boko Haram Islamist militants, humanitarian sources and officials said. The pullout over the past two weeks could weaken a regional struggle against the militants, who have killed tens of thousands of people, forced many more to flee and triggered a humanitarian crisis. There was no immediate explanation or comment from defense officials in Chad. But the move came a month after the vast central African country complained about an unexpected U.S. travel ban imposed on its nationals. Chad warned at the time the order could affect its security commitments — which include its involvement in the U.S.-backed fight against Boko Haram. VOA

Ex-Footballer Weah Takes Early Lead in Liberia Election’s First Results
One of Liberia’s largest political parties called for a halt to counting votes from the country’s presidential election Thursday, alleging irregularities and fraud as ex-soccer star George Weah took an early lead based on partial provisional results. Angry Liberty Party supporters who gathered at the party’s headquarters claimed polls in the West African nation opened late and that ballot-tampering occurred in at least one location in the capital, Monrovia. France 24

Somali Defense Minister, Army Chief Resign
Somalia’s defense minister and the country’s military chief, who were leading the fight against Islamist militants, have both resigned from the government, officials said Thursday. Speaking to VOA Somali, Information Minister Abdurahman Omar Osman said the defense minister, Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed, and the army chief, General Mohamed Ahmed Jimale, both submitted their resignations at the government’s weekly cabinet meeting. “The Defense Ministry has submitted the personal resignation of country’s military chief to the cabinet, and then defense minister submitted his resignation too, citing personal reasons,” said Omar. VOA

Migrant Deaths in the Sahara Likely Twice Mediterranean Toll – UN
West African migrants trying to reach Europe are dying in far greater numbers in the Sahara than in the Mediterranean but efforts to dissuade them may cause new routes to open up, the United Nations migration agency said on Thursday. So far this year 2,569 migrant deaths have been recorded in the central Mediterranean, while more than 107,000 migrants, mainly West Africans, have reached Italy. “One thing we still don’t have is any estimate of number of deaths in the desert,” Richard Danziger, the U.N. International Organization for Migration director for West and Central Africa, told a news conference in Geneva. “We assume, and I think we have said before, that it has to be at least double those who die in the Mediterranean. But we really have no evidence of that, it’s just an assumption. We just don’t know.” Reuters

Kenya Bans Protests, Setting up Showdown with Opposition Supporters
Tensions rose in Kenya on Thursday as the government banned demonstrations and indicated that it would go ahead with an election rerun that the opposition is convinced cannot be free and fair under the current system. The order sets authorities on a collision course with supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who earlier this week pulled out of the Oct. 26 vote. Major demonstrations against the electoral commission, which the opposition sees as favoring incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, have been called for Friday. Last month, the Supreme Court invalidated the results of an Aug. 8 presidential election Kenyatta won, after allegations of widespread irregularities in vote counting. It ordered that new elections be held within 60 days. The Washington Post

6 Dead as Protests Surge Again in Ethiopia: Official
An Ethiopian official says protests in the restive Oromia region left six people dead Wednesday as anti-government demonstrations return to some parts of the East African country. Oromia regional official Abiy Ahmed says more than 30 people were injured in clashes in Shashamane town and an area called Boke. He did not say who was responsible for the killings. Blogger and university lecturer Seyoum Teshome says more than 15,000 people rallied again Thursday in Wolisso town against the country’s ruling elite. He says it was mostly peaceful. Ethiopia in August lifted a 10-month state of emergency imposed after widespread protests. AP

Officials: Attack in Egypt’s Sinai Kills 6 Police
Egyptian officials say an attack on a checkpoint in the northern Sinai Peninsula has killed six police. Security and hospital officials confirmed the toll from Thursday’s attack on the outskirts of the city of el-Arish and said another four people were wounded. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. Egypt has been battling an insurgency in the northern Sinai that has been led by an Islamic State affiliate since 2014. In July, Islamic State militants killed 23 soldiers in a remote checkpoint in northeastern Sinai — the deadliest assault on the military in the turbulent region in two years. AP

SA President Zuma Must Face Corruption Charges, Court Rules
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma must face charges of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering, the Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled. It agreed with a lower court ruling last year that prosecutors could bring back 783 charges relating to a 1999 multi-million dollar arms deal. The charges had been set aside eight years ago, enabling Mr Zuma to become president. The president has always maintained his innocence.  BBC

Judge’s Murder Ruling for Anti-Apartheid Activist Hailed as Milestone
South Africa’s High Court has ruled that an anti-apartheid activist who died in police custody, was murdered by officers and did not commit suicide as was claimed at the time. Ahmed Timol died in 1971 after falling from the city’s police headquarters. Timol, a 29-year-old schoolteacher from the Greater Johannesburg city Roodepoort, was arrested at a police roadblock on 22 October 1971 and died five days later. Official records claim that he leapt to his death from the 10th floor of the John Vorster Square, today known as the Johannesburg Central police station, during his detention. But Timol’s family always maintained that the inquest into his death was a cover up. On Thursday South Africa’s High Court ruled they were right. RFI

AFRICOM at 10: Training Partners Is Still the Focus, but the Fight Has Grown
When former President George W. Bush announced the formation of U.S. Africa Command in 2007, the idea was that it would be a new, friendlier American military face: a combatant command focused more on partnerships than fighting. “Africa Command is not going to reflect a U.S. intent to engage kinetically in Africa. This is about prevention. This is not about fighting wars,” Theresa Whelan, then-assistant defense secretary for African affairs, said during the command’s October 2007 start-up. But 10 years later, AFRICOM has turned into something more like a mini-U.S. Central Command than the low-intensity, soft-power oriented Southern Command — the early model for military efforts in Africa. The flurry of recent high-profile, hard-power measures in parts of Africa, where five servicemembers have been killed in combat in the past six months, raises questions about AFRICOM’s role as the Pentagon’s soft touch. Stars and Stripes

Rwanda Rubbishes Report on Military Torture Claims
Rwanda has dismissed the latest report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that accuses its military of using torture to force confessions, terming it as yet another witch hunt. The Minister of Justice, who is also the Attorney-General, Johnston Busingye said Wednesday that the rights group has over the years been running a campaign to discredit the government. “There is no truth to the HRW report. Rwanda is party to, and observes the Convention Against Torture as well as domestic laws,” Mr Busingye wrote on Twitter, adding that: “HRW has recycled old, discredited and baseless allegations, for which they have no credible evidence. They will, in time, be exposed.” In its report published on Tuesday, HRW accused Rwanda’s military of using asphyxiation, electric shock and mock executions to torture confessions out of detainees. The East African

S. Sudan Agrees on Unified Consultations: Official
The various parties that make up South Sudan’s coalition government have agreed on a joint consultation at the upcoming peace deal revitalization by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an official said on Wednesday. “We have already received the IGAD letter on revitalization and without prejudice to other parties to be consulted, we have agreed to be consulted as the TGoNU [Transitional Government of National Unity],” said South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth. The High-Level Revitalization Forum takes place from October 13-17. Sudan Tribune

Oil-Rich South Sudan Faces Fuel Shortage Crisis
South Sudan is holding an international oil and power conference to deal with its fuel crisis. Petrol stations run dry on a daily basis despite the country having billions of barrels of oil in reserves. With no functioning power grid, fuel from the black market is the only option – but at a cost that many in the country with the third largest oil reserves in Africa cannot afford. Al Jazeera

UN Chief: Worldwide Famine Averted, but Numbers of Hungry Growing
The United Nations secretary-general says early action by the international community has helped avert widespread famine, but the number of people in need is continuing to grow. In February, António Guterres warned that 20 million people were facing starvation in South Sudan, Somalia, North East Nigeria and Yemen, and he appealed for more than $5.6 billion for 2017. “While we have succeeded in keeping famine at bay, we have not kept suffering at bay,” Guterres told a U.N. Security Council meeting Thursday on the issue. VOA

As Cancer Tears through Africa, Drug Makers Draw up a Battle Plan
In a remarkable initiative modeled on the campaign against AIDS in Africa, two major pharmaceutical companies, working with the American Cancer Society, will steeply discount the prices of cancer medicines in Africa. Under the new agreement, the companies — Pfizer, based in New York, and Cipla, based in Mumbai — have promised to charge rock-bottom prices for 16 common chemotherapy drugs. The deal, initially offered to a half-dozen countries, is expected to bring lifesaving treatment to tens of thousands who would otherwise die. Pfizer said its prices would be just above its own manufacturing costs. Cipla said it would sell some pills for 50 cents and some infusions for $10, a fraction of what they cost in wealthy countries. The price-cut agreement comes with a bonus: Top American oncologists will simplify complex cancer-treatment guidelines for underequipped African hospitals, and a corps of IBM programmers will build those guidelines into an online tool available to any oncologist with an internet connection. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones