Africa Media Review for October 15, 2019

Hailing “New Revolution,” Political Outsider Saied Set to Be Tunisia’s President
Kais Saied, a political outsider who is backed by leftists and Islamists and wants to remake national politics, is set to become Tunisia’s president after his opponent conceded defeat in Sunday’s election. Saied’s victory is a stinging rebuke for a governing elite that has failed to improve living standards or end corruption since the 2011 revolution in the North African country that introduced democracy and ushered in the “Arab Spring.” Saied, a 61-year-old retired law professor, has no political party and wants to introduce an experimental form of direct democracy. Supporters who celebrated in the streets after exit polls put him far ahead hailed his triumph as a revival of the revolution. Nabil Karoui, his only opponent in a run-off vote, spent much of the campaign period in detention and initially kept the door open to lodging an appeal against the results when exit polls on Sunday put Saied on more than 70% of votes. But Karoui conceded defeat on Monday, several hours before the official results were due to be announced. Reuters

Polls Open in Tense Mozambique Election
Mozambicans began voting in a general election on Tuesday that some fear could test the country’s fragile peace, after a heated campaign marred by violence and allegations of electoral fraud. The Frelimo party, which has ruled the impoverished southern African nation since independence from Portugal in 1975, is widely expected to again beat its arch-rival Renamo, a former rebel group turned main opposition party. President Filipe Nyusi, who cast his ballot as polls opened at 7:00 am (0500 GMT), called on voters to show “the world we stand for democracy and tolerance”. “Mozambique has chosen to move forward peacefully,” he said, adding that more than more than 4,000 observers had been deployed in the most-watched election in the country’s history. … Nyusi, 60, is forecast to win a second five-year term despite his popularity taking a hit from chronic unrest and a financial crisis linked to alleged state corruption … [A] shadowy jihadist insurgency that has killed hundreds in the far north has delayed development of one of the government’s biggest selling points-the discovery of vast gas reserves that is hoped to put billions in state coffers and lift millions out of poverty. AFP

Armed Men Attack Burkina Faso Mosque, Kill at Least 16
Armed men stormed the grand mosque in Burkina Faso’s northern village of Salmossi, killing at least 16 people and wounding two others, a local official said Sunday. The armed men entered during evening prayers on Friday, according to Ernest Bouma Nebie, a regional official in Oudalan province near the border with Mali. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but extremist groups with links to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group are active in the region. Increased attacks along the border in the past few months have forced more than a quarter-million people to flee, the U.N. refugee agency says. This is not the first attack on a place of worship in Burkina Faso. In May, gunmen killed six members of a parish in Dablo in Sanmatenga province, and gunmen in Sirgadji attacked a church, killing a pastor. The same month, at least five Catholic worshippers were killed during Sunday services and dozens were wounded in Toulfe in the north. AP

Kenya: Police Chief Says Roadside Bomb Kills 11 Officers
Kenya’s police chief says a roadside bomb has killed 11 officers on the country’s southern border with Somalia. Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai said Saturday the officers’ patrol car was blown up on Damajale Hare Hare road near the town of Liboi. No one has claimed responsibility for the bomb, but al-Shabab militants from Somalia are suspected. The al-Qaida-linked group has increasingly targeted Kenyan security forces in recent years. It vowed to take retribution on Kenya in 2011 for sending troops into Somalia to target its fighters. In July, Kenyan border police killed three suspected al-Shabab members who allegedly blew up their vehicle near the Somali border. A January attack on a Nairobi luxury hotel complex by al-Shabab extremists killed 21 people. AP

4 Dead as Guineans Protest President’s Bid to Extend Power
At least four people have been killed in Guinea’s capital after police fired tear gas and bullets Monday to disperse thousands of opposition supporters, civil society groups and trade unionists gathering in Conakry and across the country to protest the president’s bid to extend his time in office, Guinea’s Red Cross said. President Alpha Conde’s mandate ends in December 2020, but he is seeking a referendum to allow a third term in the West African nation. The four young men killed in Conakry Monday were all under the age of 24, Guinea’s Red Cross said Monday, which also said 20 others were wounded by bullets. Guinea’s government said a gendarmerie was killed in Mamou, and only one person was killed in Conakry. … Guinea’s army chief of staff, Gen. Namory Toure, ordered soldiers to remain in their barracks. The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, the coalition group that called for the demonstration, said six of its leaders were detained over the weekend and it demanded their release. AP

Jihadist Attacks Kill Seven in Nigeria: Local Sources
Four civilians and three soldiers have been killed in attacks in northeastern Nigeria blamed on jihadist fighters, local residents and militias said on Saturday. Gunmen suspected of belonging to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group raided a military post in the town of Gajiganna in Borno State late Friday, triggering a gunbattle. “The gunmen killed two soldiers and a civilian during the fight and took away one military vehicle,” said Babakura Kolo, a member of a militia fighting the jihadists. Earlier in the day, the jihadists attacked troops in the nearby village of Tungushe, killing a soldier and three residents, Kolo said. Gajiganna and Tungushe have been repeatedly attacked by Islamist fighters. AFP

Somalia: 7 Injured as Al-Shabaab Fires Mortars into the UN Compound in Mogadishu
At least 7 people – including 3 African peacekeeping mission forces in Somalia and one international staff – were wounded after a mortar attack targeted the compound of UN and African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) in Somali capital Mogadishu, Sunday evening. The mortars landed on the heavily-guarded Halane area of the airport that houses the African Union and United Nations Mission in Somalia. Witnesses said that six mortars were fired at the vicinity just after 1pm local time. Al-Shabab attacked the same facility with mortars earlier this year injuring two United Nations staff members and a contractor. The attack on Sunday comes a day before Somalia marks the deadliest terrorist attack in Somalia and in Africa. October 14 is the second anniversary of the truck bomb in Mogadishu that killed 587 people and injured hundreds of others. Dalsan Radio

Violent Conflicts, Looting Reported in Cameroon Commercial Town of Sangmelima
Several hundred people from Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea have escaped the southern Cameroon commercial town of Sangmelima following violent conflicts and looting between communities there, where townspeople claim outsiders are causing mounting insecurity. Cameroon has deployed at least 300 troops to Sangmelima. Hundreds of people, especially youths armed with machetes, hammers, spades and spears, defied antiriot police Thursday and Friday, invading shops in Cameroon’s southern town of Sangmelima, looting and torching some over resentment of outsiders. Among their victims is 46-year-old motor spare parts dealer Romouald Mefirou, who said he fled for his life. … Felix Nguele Nguele, governor of Sangmelima’s South region of Cameroon, said Mefirou, who is from Cameroon’s western town of Foumban, is just one of hundreds of people who have fled since the violence erupted October 9. Nguele Nguele said the violence intensified when outsiders were suspected in the killing of a 27-year-old local motorcycle taxi driver. VOA

Talks under Way between Sudan Transitional Government and Rebels
Peace talks between a delegation from Sudan’s newly-created sovereign council and a number of rebel leaders are under way in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. The discussions, which started on Monday, are aimed at ending the country’s years-long conflicts and come a month after the two sides agreed on a plan and a series of trust-building measures, including the extension of a ceasefire already in place. The sovereign council’s delegation is headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, while the rebels’ representative team is led by Abdulaziz al-Hilu, leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, which is active in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Also in attendance is Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Al Jazeera

Why Eritrea Didn’t Win a Nobel for Its Peace Accord When Ethiopia Did
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was announced as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, with the committee that decides the awards singling out his efforts to achieve peace with neighboring country Eritrea. But notably, the prize was not awarded to Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, Abiy’s partner in the talks. … In some years, the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to multiple parties for their work trying to end a conflict. But the decision to award the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize only to Ethiopia’s Abiy was hardly surprising. Eritrea’s Isaias leads one of the most repressive military dictatorships in the world; his government has been compared to North Korea and accused of possible crimes against humanity. And even though he reached an agreement with Abiy in Eritrea’s capital last year to end the conflict between the two nations, in practice the agreement remains largely unimplemented, and there have been little visible benefits for Eritreans. The Washington Post

‘A Place of Ghosts’ Ethiopia Opens Controversial Palace to a Divided Public
Five successive governments – two more emperors and a communist regime included – would rule from the same palace, orchestrating much of this country’s tragic history from within its walls. Its war rooms were where massacres, purges and mass incarcerations were ordered. Menelik’s basement refrigerator rooms were turned into torture dungeons. This week, the latest man to lead Ethiopia from this secretive compound opened most of its grounds to the public. The privately funded, $170million renovation includes a park, a zoo and a museum of the country’s history, with exhibits adorning walls once stained with the blood of prisoners. The project is emblematic of the leadership of Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s 43-year-old reformist prime minister who on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending the violent standoff with neighboring Eritrea. In office less than two years, he has given people here hope that what was once secret will now be public and what was once authoritarian will become democratic. Abiy is promising nothing less than a renaissance in Ethiopia. The Washington Post

Ethiopia Condemns Egyptian Proposal for Nile Water Usage
Ethiopia is condemning an Egyptian proposal for water allocation amid tense negotiations over the countries’ use of Nile River waters. … Ethiopia’s proposal calls for the reservoir to be filled over four to seven years, a slower pace than the two-to-three-year time span the country says it could pursue. But on Aug. 1, Egypt submitted a counterproposal that would require Ethiopia to receive approval at various points, a step Egypt said is necessary to avoid droughts. Ethiopia rejected the conditions, saying they reflect colonial-era laws that don’t account for the rights of upriver countries. … “We are certainly seeing a rapid escalation and rhetoric from the Egyptian side. So, it definitely signals a departure and strategy on the part of the Egyptians to try to alter the course of negotiations,” said Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “I don’t think you can rule out the prospect of a military conflict, but I think that’s unlikely,” he told VOA.” VOA

Amnesty Decries ‘Climate of Fear’ for Nigeria Journalists
Amnesty International on Monday said journalists in Nigeria are operating under a “climate of fear,” after 19 reporters were detained by security forces this year. The rights group said there has been a disturbing rise in threats and attacks on journalists for expressing critical views of the authorities on both conventional and social media in the country. “Increasingly, the human rights cost of receiving and sharing information for journalists, bloggers and activists comes with dangerous consequences, forcing journalists, bloggers and activists to operate in a climate of fear,” Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osai Ojigho said in a statement. … Amnesty accused the police, military and the Department of State Services (DSS) secret police of being responsible for the clampdown on press freedom in Nigeria. It cited the case of Abiri Jones, the publisher of Weekly Source who was arrested in 2016 and detained without access to family or lawyers for two years by the DSS. AFP

Nigeria: Police Rescue Chained Students from Another Islamic School
A 78-year-old Muslim cleric has been arrested in northern Nigeria over the alleged torture and abuse of students who attended his Islamic boarding school. “We learnt that the inmates here are over 300 and because of the inhuman treatments they are being subjected to they revolted yesterday,” Katsina police spokesman Sanusi Buba told reporters on Monday. Most of the students in the all-male school escaped on Sunday. However, police later found 67 people aged between 7 and 40, “shackled with chains” in the school located in the town of Daura, near the border with Niger. Students had been tortured and some of them sexually abused by their teachers, according to Buba. … The latest discovery of mass abuse comes less than three weeks after a similar incident in a different part of the country. In late September, police freed over 300 students from an Islamic school in the city of Kaduna, in the northwest. DW

Nigeria Looks to Sign Military Cooperation Deal with Russia This Month
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari hopes to sign a military technical cooperation deal with Russia at talks with President Vladimir Putin this month that will help it fight Boko Haram militants, Nigeria’s ambassador in Moscow said on Friday. The Nigerian leader is due to meet Putin on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea city of Sochi amid a push by Moscow to expand its influence in Africa. “We’re sure that with Russian help we’ll manage to crush Boko Haram, given Russia’s experience combating Islamic State in Syria,” Nigerian envoy Steve Ugbah said in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency. He added that Nigeria was interested in purchasing Russian helicopters, planes, tanks and other military equipment. Ugbah said a military technical cooperation deal between Russia and Nigeria had already been drafted and that it only needed to be finalised. Reuters

It’s Official: Hyperinflation Has Returned to Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is now a hyperinflation economy, according to the Public Accountants and Auditors Board, which is mandated to regulate auditing and accounting standards in the southern African country. According to the PAAB, in a statement released Friday, entities in Zimbabwe must now apply IAS 29 in their financial reporting, effective July 1, 2019. IAS 29 deals with financial reporting in hyperinflationary economies, and allowing it to be applied in the country indicates acknowledgement by Zimbabwean authorities that the country has now entered into hyperinflation for the second time in two decades. … Prices of basic products are now beyond reach of many, with inflation topping 175% in June before government stopped publication of annual inflation figures, saying they were misleading. The monthly inflation figures have, however, remained elevated, and stood at almost 300% at the last count in August. Fin24

Botswana Ex-president Backs Opposition Ahead of Poll
Botswana’s influential former president Ian Khama on Sunday threw his weight behind the opposition, a fierce critic of his when he was leader, in a bid to oust his handpicked successor in the country’s upcoming elections. Earlier this year Khama dramatically defected from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which has ruled the southern African country since it gained independence from Britain in 1966. His departure and condemnation of President Mokgweetsi Masisi has thrown the party into an internal crisis ahead of a high-stakes general election on October 23. The vote will test the strength of the BDP after more than five decades in control of the diamond-rich country, which has a reputation as a beacon of stability in a troubled continent. Khama, a 66-year-old former general whose father led the country to independence, had a bitter fall-out with his former deputy Masisi after he took office last year. At a rally in his eastern home town Serowe on Sunday, Khama told thousands of supporters that the BDP – which was co-founded by his father – was dead. AFP

Zuma Corruption Trial Postponed to 2020
Former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial has been postponed to February next year, after he told the high court he wanted to appeal last week’s judgment refusing him a permanent stay of prosecution. In what must be one of the longest-running legal sagas of our time, the former president is yet to begin his trial on 12 counts of fraud, four counts of corruption, one count of racketeering and one of money laundering. The charges relate to the infamous “arms deal” – the 1999 purchase by the government of strategic armaments, which has been mired in allegations of corruption for nearly 20 years. Prosecutor Billy Downer told the high court on Tuesday that the parties had agreed to a hearing of Zuma’s application for leave to appeal in November and that, by February, they would have an idea of which way the case was going. … The order rejecting the application for a permanent stay was handed down on Friday. Mail & Guardian

U.S Announces $50M to Boost Education of Vulnerable Children in Somalia
The US government has announced an additional $50 million to support education in Somalia adding to $65 million the U.S government’s injection into the education sector in Somalia. Somali Embassy in Somalia said this week the funds will ‘aims to increase access to quality education and support accelerated learning for out-of-school children and youth who have been persistently left behind.’ U.S ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto said the funds will be instrumental in enabling vulnerable students to access education. “This U.S. Government investment will give vulnerable Somali students vital skills so that they can contribute in a meaningful way to their society. The program focuses on teacher quality and student learning, and invokes the spirit of other successful Somali-led literacy campaigns.” … The five year programme dubbed Bar Ama Baro (“Teach or Learn” in Somali) will target Somali out-of-school children and youth between approximately 8-15 years old. Goobjoog News

Work on Poverty in Africa Wins Nobel Economics Prize
A trio of American economists on Monday won the Nobel Economics Prize for their work in the fight against poverty, including with new approaches in education and healthcare. Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee of the US, his French-American wife Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer of the US were honoured for breaking down difficult issues into smaller subsets. These can then be answered through field experiments among the people who are most affected. “This year’s laureates have introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said. The jury said their studies had led to more than five million Indian children getting remedial tutoring in schools and heavily subsidised preventive healthcare in many countries. Duflo is only the second woman to win the Nobel Economics Prize in its 50-year existence, following Elinor Ostrom in 2009. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones