Africa Media Review for October 19, 2018

Abiy Ahmed: Protesting Ethiopian Soldiers Wanted to Kill Me
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said that some of the soldiers who entered the grounds of his office last week had wanted to kill him. At the time, he defused the situation by ordering them to do press-ups and joining in. Mr Abiy and the soldiers were seen laughing but he told parliament that “inside I was very unhappy”. Over the past six months, he has made some major reforms and he said some of the troops wanted to derail them. “The march of some members of the army to the National Palace [the prime minister’s office] was not only unlawful but very dangerous, because the intention was to abort the ongoing reforms,” Mr Abiy told MPs during a question-and-answer session.  BBC

Cameroon Court Rejects All Petitions Calling for Re-Run of Elections
Cameroon’s Constitutional Council on Friday rejected the last of 18 petitions calling for a re-run of an Oct. 7 election that the opposition said was marred by fraud, paving the way for results expected to extend President Paul Biya’s 36-year rule. The rejections clear all legal objections to the polls. Nearly two weeks after the vote, no results have been announced but under national law authorities have until Sunday to do so. Biya is seeking a seventh term that would see him keep his place as one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. The only current African president to have ruled longer is Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.  Reuters

Opposition Politician in Benin Jailed for 20 Years on Drugs Charges
A court in Benin on Thursday sentenced opposition politician Sebastien Ajavon to 20 years in prison on drugs charges and issued an international warrant for his arrest. The former presidential candidate was not at the hearing in the West African country’s administrative capital, Porto-Novo, which lasted less than an hour. His legal team has previously denounced what they said were “serious irregularities” in proceedings and called the allegations “absurd and false”. Ajavon came third in Benin’s presidential election in 2016 behind the then-prime minister Lionel Zinsou and the eventual winner, millionaire businessman Patrice Talon. He has made no secret of his desire to contest the next presidential election due in 2021 and has set up his own political party. AFP

Mozambique: Journalists and Activists Face Death Threats and Intimidation in Post-Election Witch-Hunt
Journalists, priests and civil society leaders are facing death threats and intimidation following local government elections at the weekend, Amnesty International said today. The organization knows of at least eight individuals who have been targeted with anonymous phone calls and text messages accusing them of contributing to the defeat of the ruling Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in Nacala-Porto and Nampula cities in the northern province of Nampula. “This is a post-election witch-hunt targeting anyone who expresses critical views of the government and is suspected of associating with the main opposition, RENAMO, in Nampula,” said Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa.  ReliefWeb

France Rejects Amnesty Criticism of Arms Exports to Egypt
France’s government on Wednesday denied reports it had broken its own rules over arms exports by equipping Egypt with weapons used for the internal repression of civilians. Responding to allegations by rights group Amnesty International, French Defence Minister Florence Parly told a Senate committee that French weapons were destined to Egypt’s military and not the police. “If Egypt uses hardware that was exported long ago […] against its own civilian population, that was not our objective,” Parly told the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. Her comments came a day after Amnesty International released a statement stating that analysis of open-source multimedia content shows, “Egyptian security forces firing on protesters from within French supplied armored vehicles.”  France 24

Egypt’s War on the Muslim Brotherhood
Egyptian police released the 25-year-old son of former president Mohammed Morsi Wednesday after he spent less than 24 hours in detention on charges of joining an outlawed organization and publishing “fake news.” Abdullah Morsi Mohammed Morsi, a graduate business student, posted a bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds [about $280] according to a statement by Attorney General Nabil Sadek. “The Attorney General decided to release Abdullah until further investigations take place into the charges against him,” said Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud, a member of Morsi’s defense team. Abdullah frequently posts updates on social media about his father’s condition at the Tora maximum security prison, about eight miles south of downtown Cairo, as the family seeks more visitation rights and better health care for the jailed Brotherhood leader. The London-based Arabi21 website published an interview with Abdullah just days before his arrest detailing the conditions of the family’s September visit at the prison.  The Jerusalem Post

Putin: Russia to Resume Flights to Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh
Russian President Vladimir Putin affirmed following the negotiations with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi on Wednesday that Russia will resume flights to Egyptian resorts in Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, reports Russian News Agency. “We will seek to resume charter flights in these destinations in the near future,” the president said, adding that Egypt is doing everything it can to ensure flight safety. The decision comes after Putin previously suspended flights between Egypt and Russia in 2015 following airplane crash in North Sinai that left 224 passengers dead. The two presidents also signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation agreement during the bilateral summit, which was described by both leaders as a step in enhancing the relations between the countries in the future.  Egyptian Streets

Can Libya’s Tribes Help Solve Crisis?
In September, Libya’s capital Tripoli was the scene of violent clashes between rival militias that killed 96 people and injured 306 others. The clashes pitted forces from the 7th Brigade against a coalition of armed brigades in Tripoli, which include the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade and the Deterrent and Intervention Joint Force of Abu Salim. The 7th Brigade, which is mainly made up of Tarhuna tribal men, announced its affiliation with the Government of National Accord (GNA), even though the head of the GNA’s Presidential Council denied this affiliation. The brigade’s main goal is to put an end to the spread of armed militias in Tripoli. […] On Sept. 24, Al-Monitor interviewed over the phone Mawlay Qudeidi, head of the Supreme Council of the Tuareg Tribes, who represents the Tuareg tribe based in southern Libya. Around 150,000 people in the south belong to the tribe, as well as 100,000 who live across different regions of Libya. The Tuareg tribe controls the southern borders with Algeria and western Niger. Al Monitor

EU Moves Closer to Overcoming Migration Feud
The head of the European Parliament said on Thursday EU countries who refuse to host refugees could instead pay more for EU migration and development projects in Africa, signalling possible compromise to end a bruising dispute in the bloc. The migration feud has divided southern and eastern EU states as well as rich destination countries such as Germany since 2015, when more than one million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa reached the bloc’s borders. But the tone of the discussion has changed recently after years of one camp insisting that all EU states must take in some migrants and the other side rejecting that. “No relocation – (then) more money for Africa,” European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told a news conference on Thursday as the bloc’s 28 national leaders discussed migration.  Reuters

Mr. Clean vs. Mr. Action: How Nigeria’s Top Contenders Square Up
Two main contenders have emerged as Africa’s top oil producer heads to presidential elections: incumbent Muhammadu Buhari, who is widely perceived as clean but inefficient, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, an entrepreneur who’s long been accused of corruption.As Nigeria, a nation of 200 million people, prepares for a close election in February, the two septuagenarians are laying out the policies they hope will lead them to victory. They may both be northern Muslims and stalwarts of the political establishment, but their careers and ideas for how to take Nigeria forward differ. Buhari, 75, who led the OPEC member as a military dictator in the 1980s before returning to power as a civilian ruler in 2015, has promised to curb graft and invest in infrastructure if he wins another four-year term. He has a reputation for honesty in what ranks as one of the worlds most corrupt countries. Bloomberg

S. African Army Fires Warning Shots over Budget Cuts
The South African military said Tuesday that budget cuts have hampered its defence capacity at home and its ability to participate in foreign peacekeeping operations. National army chief Lieutenant General Lindile Yam sharply criticised the government for the funding shortage, saying the army was even struggling to buy uniforms. “These budget cuts impacts negatively on our force operations efforts,” Lt Gen Yam told journalists at the army headquarters in Pretoria. “There is a danger coming that seems no one is seeing here.” Lt Gen Yam said the army’s defence budget was 28 percent of the GDP during apartheid, but has been whittled down to less than one percent of the GDP.  AFP

South Africa’s Economic Slump Doesn’t Just Hit South Africans 
South Africans aren’t the only ones struggling through the country’s economic slump.The fortunes of Lesotho, Namibia, and Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, are beholden to developments in their larger neighbor with their exchange rates pegged to the rand, the worst-performing major currency against the dollar this year. The three nations, together with Botswana, also derive revenue from a customs-sharing pool that gains and falls on South African trade. Big Brother South Africa’s economy is much larger than those of its neighbors. The continents most-industrialized country is struggling through a recession, but the central bank is hamstrung in cutting its key rate from 6.5 percent as it strains to contain inflation spurred by higher oil costs and a 13.2 percent drop in the rand versus the dollar this year. Bloomberg

Rwanda Replaces Mushikiwabo, Announces New Defence Minister
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame on Thursday appointed a new foreign affairs minister, to replace Louise Mushikiwabo, in a mini cabinet reshuffle that also included a new defence minister. Following Mushikiwabo’s election as secretary-general of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF) last week, a replacement foreign affairs minister was expected. Kagame, whose country has commendable diplomatic credentials named Richard Sezibera, a former secretary general of the East African Community regional bloc, as the new foreign minister. 54-year-old Sezibera also previously served as health minister.  Africa News

New Zimbabwe Documentary on Massacres Takes Aim at President
A new documentary on massacres by Zimbabwe’s military has led to harsh exchanges as the 1980s killings challenge a new president who preaches unity but refuses to apologize for his alleged role in one of the country’s deepest wounds. The screening in the capital, Harare, would have been almost impossible under former leader Robert Mugabe, who led the country for 37 years and resigned following military intervention in November. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a longtime Mugabe loyalist and enforcer who succeeded him, has tolerated documentaries and plays critical of the government amid promises of a “flowering of democracy.”  VOA

Report: South Sudan Armed Opposition Seized Girls as ‘Wives’
South Sudan’s armed opposition abducted women and girls as young as 12 and lined them up so commanders could choose “wives,” and those not selected were left to be raped repeatedly by other fighters, a new UN report said on Thursday. The report , based on victim and witness accounts, gives new details on the surge in violence and abuses that occurred even as South Sudan’s rivals negotiated the latest agreement to end a five-year civil war. “Most of the abducted civilians are, as far as we know, still being held captive,” new UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said in a statement. The report focuses on the Western Equatoria region between April and August, saying 900 people were abducted and some 24 000 people forced to flee their homes as fighting surged after months of relative calm. It says opposition forces attacked at least 28 villages and a refugee camp, and abducted young men and boys were made to be fighters or porters.  AP

Sudan: Former President Abdulrahman Siwar Al-Dahab Dies Aged 83
Former Sudanese president Abdulrahman Siwar al-Dahab has died in Saudi Arabia, Sudan’s state news agency (SUNA) reports. The 83-year-old former leader of Sudan died in a military hospital in Riyadh, the agency said on Thursday, without providing further details. Described by his contemporaries as a deeply religious man who was “noted for his high moral behaviour”, Siwar al-Dahab was also known for his “sense of duty and nationalism”. He was a former military officer, who served as defence minister before he led the removal of Gaafar Nimeiry in 1985; Nimeiry had been president since 1969. Expelled by Nimeiry from Sudan with no explanation in 1972, Siwar al-Dahab moved to Qatar where he served as adviser to the then-emir, Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani.  Al Jazeera

Comoros: Civilians Flee Strife-Torn City on Anjouan Island
Security forces in the Comoros have intensified their crackdown against anti-government protesters on the island of Anjouan, with witnesses reporting heavy gunfire and residents fleeing amid a wave of unrest against constitutional changes. President Azali Assoumani on Thursday sent in reinforcements to quell a nascent uprising on the opposition stronghold as clashes continued for a fourth day between security forces and armed protesters. Residents of the island are angry at Assoumani’s plans to extend term limits and end rotation of the presidency between the country’s three main islands after one term, a move that disadvantages Anjouan which was next in line. An official at Anjoun’s airport told the AFP news agency a significant contingent of security forces arrived on the island to quell unrest there.  Al Jazeera

DR Congo Threatens International Action over Angola Expulsions
The Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday threatened to take international action over Angola’s recent, and allegedly violent, expulsion of some 200,000 illegal migrants from its west African neighbour. DR Congo invites the Angolan government “to carry out a thorough investigation in order to establish who was responsible for these reprehensible acts,” Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu told a press conference in the capital Kinshasa. Unless this is done, the DR Congo government “would be obliged to take the matter to the relevant authorities,” he warned, adding that his country will not stoop to “brutally expelling” Angolans in any tit-for-tat response. Since the start of the month Angola has expelled around 200,000 Congolese living clandestinely in its northern province of Lunda Norte, which borders DR Congo.  Daily Monitor

Life at the Bottom of the Global League of Internet Access
Somalia is not a place for web addicts. Even in the capital, Mogadishu, coverage is patchy, expensive and unpredictable. Things are slightly better in the north, but further afield, and anywhere the al-Shabaab militant group holds sway, there is no internet at all. All of which means that in the global league of internet access, Somalia is at the bottom, with fewer than 2% of its people regularly online. This has unfortunate repercussions for locals. In Marka town, Lower Shabelle region, Anas Farah, 26, who ran a music studio, said he has been forced to shut his business because of lack of internet service. “I used to download new music from the internet and also post on to my Facebook to advertise the new music I have got so that customers could come and buy,” he said. “First al-Shabaab banned the internet and the internet provider closed the company. There was no money. I could not survive without internet so I closed the music shop.”  The Guardian

 



Photo: Adam Jones