Africa Media Review for October 23, 2018

Biya Wins Again in Cameroon as Crackdown Disrupts Anglophone Vote
Cameroon’s octogenarian president, Paul Biya, who has held power for 36 years, has won another term after an election marred by allegations of fraud and in which many people were too scared to vote. Biya was declared the winner on Monday with 71.28% of the votes cast in the election on 7 October. Maurice Kamto, the opposition leader who had declared himself the winner a few hours after the polls closed, refused to attend the declaration ceremony after his party was said to have taken just 14% of the vote. Turnout was 54%, far lower than in previous elections, and was just 10% in English-speaking regions, where rebels have been fighting a bitter battle for secession since their demands for English speakers to be appointed in courts and schools were brutally suppressed by the authorities. The main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front, came fourth – partly because of an election boycott enforced by anglophone separatists.  The Guardian

Ethiopia Signs Peace Deal with Rebel Group in Oil-Rich Region
After being previously dubbed a “terrorist group,” the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) signed a peace deal with Ethiopia’s government, officials announced on Monday. The agreement brings an end to a 34-year insurgency in eastern Ethiopia’s Somali Region State, also known as Ogaden. The ONLF has been fighting for the rights of ethnic Somalis living in the eastern state since 1984, including proposing secession. “The Ethiopian government and ONLF delegations held productive discussions and reached a historic deal that allows the ONLF to undertake a peaceful political struggle in Ethiopia,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said.  Deutsche Welle

Two CAR Armed Groups Pull Out of Khartoum Peace Process
Two armed groups pulled out of the Khartoum brokered talks for peace in the Central African Republic (CAR) after accusing the government of hijacking the process. Two of the five signatory groups of Khartoum Declaration: the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS) of Abdoulaye Hissène and the Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) led by Ali Darassa distanced themselves from the agreement in two separate statements issued on 19 October. The CNDS and UPC which had been part of the Seleka coalition of Muslim groups said the government hijacked the deal to deploy its forces throughout the troubled country. “(We deplore) the low-level political instrumentalization of the Khartoum Declaration of Entente of August 28th which has been diverted to the sole benefit of the deployment of the FACA (Central African Armed Forces), a revanchist army ready to return to a fratricidal armed struggle,” said the UPC. The CNDS in its statement used similar terms to explain why they pulled out of the declaration.  Sudan Tribune

Comoros Places Governor of Strife-Torn Anjouan under House Arrest
Authorities in Comoros on Sunday placed the governor of strife-torn Anjouan island under house arrest on charges of instigating unrest in the province, as the government sent in more troops to quell the violence. Anjouan has been shaken by clashes pitting security forces against young men angry at President Azali Assoumani’s plans to end a rotating presidency in a way critics say could leave the province permanently excluded from national power. Last week, the unrest worsened with government officials saying soldiers shot dead two people and wounded four as violence broke out between masked men and the military in Anjouan’s capital Mutsamudu. On Sunday, Interior Minister Mohamed Daoud told a press conference that Anjouan’s governor Abdou Salami Abdou had been placed under house arrest for instigating the rebellion and for the distribution of arms and money to the insurgents.  Reuters

Defiant Chamisa Says Mnangagwa Needs Legitimacy to Revive Zimbabwe’s Economy
Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa has called for the establishment of a national transitional authority, saying it is the only way to solve the legitimacy question of president Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Chamisa, who was addressing a press conference on Tuesday, said an illegitmate government can not resolve the prevailing economic crisis, and the long standing isolation of the country from the international community. Chamisa and the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance have consistently refused to acknowledge the triumph of the ruling ZANU-PF party at the July 30 presidential elections. Africa News

Zimbabwe to Pay $2 Billion to World Bank, AfDB, Ncube Says
The southern African country needs to clear its arrears before it can raise more loans needed to rebuild an economy hobbled by the misrule of former President Robert Mugabe. Its total debt is $16.9 billion, while external debt amounts to $7.4 billion, $5.6 billion of which is arrears, Treasury documents published earlier this month show. “The AfDB and World Bank have preferred creditor status, which means they ought to be cleared first,” Ncube said in an interview Thursday in the capital, Harare. The nation’s arrears total $680 million with the AfDB, $1.3 billion with the World Bank and $308 million with the European Investment Bank. Zimbabwe is paying 9 percent on its arrears with the World Bank, said Ncube, 55, the former vice president of the AfDB who was appointed as finance minister last month. He presented proposals for clearing the nation’s debt with the lenders at the IMF and World Bank Group annual meetings in Bali, Indonesia last week. Members of the Group of Seven nations “want to help us, they are very warm towards us,” he said.  Daily Maverick

Thousands Demonstrate against Guinea-Bissau’s Electoral Census
Thousands of people on Sunday demonstrated in Guinea Bissau against what they describe as the lack of transparency in the electoral census in the run-up to the November 18 legislative elections. The march which was organised by 20 opposition parties, took place in central Bissau and ended up at the seat of government. “All we were asking for was full compliance with the law. The law of the census, the electoral law, but above all the right of citizens,” Braima Camara, President of MADEM said. Africa News

UK Envoy: Ready to Support South Sudan Peace Process but with Conditions
The UK special representative for Sudan and South Sudan says they are committed to supporting the implementation of the peace agreement on condition that the government and parties show commitment in the process. In an exclusive interview with Radio Tamazuj last week, Ambassador Chris Trott said that South Sudanese leaders must demonstrate their commitment by setting aside part of their resources to fund the peace process while seeking external support. Trott said this is one way to instill confidence on the donor community which is yet to receive any formal requests from the National Pre-Transitional Committee, the body tasked with the oversight and implementation of the activities of the pre-transitional period. Radio Tamazuj

Egypt Arrests Economist Abdel Khalik Farouk over ‘Critical Book’
Egyptian police have arrested economist Abdel Khalik Farouk after the publication of his book in which he is critically analysing the country’s economic and social crises, the author’s wife and a lawyer said. Farouk’s detention on Sunday came days after local media reported that copies of his book – titled, Is Egypt really a poor country? – were seized by authorities from a publisher. Farouq’s wife told the Reuters news agency that three policemen who came to their home said the arrest was in connection with the book. She was later allowed to deliver food, medicine and clothes to him at a local police station, she said. Al Jazeera

Morocco Unleashes a Harsh Crackdown on Sub-Saharan Migrants
In a widespread crackdown, sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco are facing arbitrary arrest, banishment to remote sections of the country and, lately, outright expulsion, analysts and rights advocates say.Rights advocates contend that the raids, which government officials acknowledge, began in the summer and were coordinated with Spain and the European Union to stem the tide of migrants to the Continent. The Moroccan government says they were aimed at only undocumented migrants and human trafficking.The crackdown began in June and intensified in late July, after at least 600 migrants successfully crossed to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in northern Morocco, rights groups say. Sub-Saharan migrants, even some with valid residency permits, described wholesale roundups in which they were herded onto buses with little more than the clothes they were wearing and taken to cities hundreds of miles to the south. The New York Times

Pirates, Poachers and Terrorists: Air Forces in Africa Talk with US about Challenges
Security concerns ranging from terrorism and refugees to maritime piracy and poaching prevention are part of the talks at a conference of senior air force commanders from across Africa and the United States that opened Monday. “We understand that security across the African continent is vital, not only to you, but it is vital to the United States of America as well,” Stephanie Miley, charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Morocco, told more than two dozen participants of the 8th African Air Chiefs Symposium. “That is why the symposium is dedicated to developing a broader understanding of our common threats and mutual interests,” Miley said. The two-day forum is hosted jointly by the Royal Moroccan Air Force and U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa, which is represented by its commander, Gen. Tod Wolters. Deterring terrorism on the continent is a common challenge for African nations and the United States. But the security threats in Africa are also as diverse as the geography, resources and political climates of the 27 African nations at this year’s symposium. Stars and Stripes

Sudan, Libya, Chad and Niger Border Committee to Meet in Ndjamena
The 4th ministerial meeting to strengthen the security of the joint border among Sudan, Libya, Chad and Niger would be held in Ndjamena on Wednesday. The two-day meeting would be held with the participation of foreign, defence and interior ministries as well as intelligence services of the four countries. An informed source within Sudan’s Foreign Minister said the meeting would discuss ways to combat terrorism, negative movements, human and illegal drug trafficking and cross-border crimes besides development projects on border areas. In a meeting held last April in Niamey, Sudan, Chad, Libya and Niger agreed to “coordinate the actions” of their armed forces to fight against the “transnational crime” in the region. The four countries agreed “on the establishment of a cooperation mechanism for border security and the fight against transnational organized crime”.  Sudan Tribune

ICC Trial of LRA Leader Only Part of Search for Justice in Uganda
A former senior commander of a Ugandan rebel group is standing trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Dominic Ongwen, a leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, is facing 70 charges, including war crimes and murder. The rebel group he led is linked to the deaths of 100,000 people, and the abduction of 20,000 children during a 20-year civil war. However, although both sides are accused of committing atrocities, only rebel leaders are standing before the ICC, leading many in Uganda to question whether it is merely a case of victors’ justice and not a true accounting for the horrific violence of one of Africa’s most brutal wars.  Al Jazeera

Nigeria Imposes Curfew in Kaduna after Deadly Communal Violence
Authorities in Nigeria have deployed special police forces to northern Kaduna and declared a 24-hour curfew in the state’s capital following communal violence that killed dozens of people. President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the deployment on Sunday, as the regional government imposed the measure in Kaduna city after violence broke out on its streets. The clashes followed violence that broke out on Thursday between Muslim and Christian communities in the Kasuwan Magani area of southern Kaduna which left at least 55 people dead. “The violence in Kaduna … is condemnable. The police have been authorised to do everything possible to restore calm. A Special Intervention Force has been deployed to the flashpoints,” Buhari said on Twitter. Al Jazeera

Stolen Daughters: What Happened after #BringBackOurGirls?
In 2014, the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign transfixed people around the world concerned about the plight of 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. More than four years later, the spotlight shines back on their plight, and that of thousands of women like them, in the documentary Stolen Daughters: Kidnapped by Boko Haram, premiering on HBO. The wrenching film follows two Chibok girls freed in 2017 and two women who, like thousands of others, were kidnapped but are known as “forgotten girls” because they weren’t captured in a high-profile event. Karen Edwards, a writer and producer of the documentary, told the Guardian that the Chibok girls were a symbol for a much larger problem in north-east Nigeria. The Guardian

Nigerian Unions Threaten to Resume Strike Unless Government Acts on Minimum Wage
Nigerian trade unions may resume a nationwide strike if the government fails to publicly agree to a proposed increase in the minimum wage and to set about putting it into law, three union federations said on Sunday. Unions suspended a national strike on its fourth day last month, saying the government had agreed to hold talks to discuss raising the minimum wage. Three union umbrella groups said on Sunday they would resume the strike next month if the government did not meet certain demands. Unions had called for a rise in the monthly minimum wage to as much as 50,000 naira ($164) from 18,000 naira. President Muhammadu Buhari has previously promised to review the minimum wage. His handling of the economy and the cost of living since he took office in 2015 has become a campaign issue used by his critics in the build-up to a presidential election scheduled for next February. Reuters

Foreign Maids on ‘Hell’ of Kafala Jobs in Middle East
Many African and Asian countries have banned the recruitment of domestic workers for countries in the Middle East who subscribe to the “kafala” system. Under the system, foreign maids are legally bound to their employer and have limited rights. Employers can take advantage of their position and many women are overworked, underpaid and physically abused. Testimonies from women who escaped and private recordings show a world of powerlessness and abuse, hidden behind closed doors.  BBC

In Africa, ‘Paper Parks’ Are Starved for Cash
As if illegal mining, logging and poaching weren’t bad enough, Africa’s national parks face another dire threat: They’re vastly underfunded. According the most comprehensive analysis of conservation funding to date, 90 percent of nearly 300 protected areas on the continent face funding shortfalls. Together, the deficits total at least a billion dollars. Failing to address this deficit will result in severe and ongoing declines of such iconic species as lions, researchers warned on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Some parks will likely disappear altogether. “The assumption is that parks are just fine because they’re designated as protected,” said Jennifer Miller, a senior scientist at Defenders of Wildlife, a conservation group, and co-author of the report. “But in many cases, they don’t have the resources to do conservation. They’re just paper parks.”That the parks are operating on a shoestring comes as no surprise to those working to preserve Africa’s wilderness, said Peter Fearnhead, chief executive officer and co-founder of African Parks, a nonprofit that manages 15 protected areas on the continent. The New York Times

Ivory Coast’s ‘Devil’s Milk’ at Centre of US-China Trade War
Rubber tree growers in Ivory Coast are emerging as the latest casualty of the trade war between the United States and China. It is Africa’s leading exporter of the valuable commodity, which was historically called “devil’s milk” because of the brutal conflicts it fuelled.  Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones