Africa Media Review for October 29, 2018

Growing Instability in Cameroon Raises Fundamental Questions about the State
Cameroon faces a poignant irony. It has just held a presidential election, yet the process has been largely overshadowed both by the lack of suspense in its outcome and the growing unrest gripping the country’s Anglophone Northwest and Southwest provinces. Since 2016, these two provinces, representing roughly 20 percent of Cameroon’s 25 million citizens, have been shaken by a campaign against the discriminatory treatment of Anglophones. The protests began in October 2016 when peaceful demonstrations were organized by lawyers and teachers unions who demanded the right to teach in English, have access to Cameroonian legal texts in English, and interact with English-speaking state representatives. In the process, some participants chanted independence slogans, and the Cameroonian flag was burned. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Cameroon Episcopal Conference: Election Marred by Fraud
The Roman Catholic church, the main religious body in Cameroon has issued conflicting comments on the conduct of the October 7 presidential election in which incumbent Paul Biya was declared the winner. Church bells ring at Our Lady of Victories Cathedral in Yaounde, inviting Catholics to a mass to be said by metropolitan Archbishop Jean Mbarga. Mbarga says the special mass is to pray for peace in Cameroon and salute the victory of President Paul Biya in Cameroon’s October 7 presidential election. He says people should congratulate Paul Biya for his victory especially as electoral disputes were handled in a transparent manner by the constitutional council. He says everyone should recognize Biya as the president elect, start preparing for the next election and thank God for the peace that was observed during the presidential poll.  VOA

Cameroon Opposition Members Freed, but Others Detained
Cameroon authorities have released around 50 opposition supporters detained in Douala, but also arrested others on Sunday in Yaoundé, their party said. “They were freed,” said a member of Maurice Kamto’s party, Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) in reference to those arrested Saturday during an unauthorised march called to protest the results of a presidential election on October 7. Kamto placed second in the poll with 14.23 percent of the vote, behind president Paul Biya, who has governed Cameroon for 35 years and was credited with 71.28 percent. One of those arrested on Saturday was taken to hospital after he “fell from a police vehicle”, a relative said. Meanwhile, other MRC supporters were arrested Sunday in the capital, Kamto spokesman Olivier Bibou-Nissack said.  AFP

Boko Haram Jihadists Attack Military Base in NE Nigeria
Boko Haram jihadists launched a large assault on a military base in Nigeria’s remote northeast region and killed one soldier, defence officials said Sunday. The attack on 145 Battalion in Gashigar, Borno State, began on Saturday and continued into early Sunday morning, said Nigerian air force spokesman Ibikunle Daramola. “BHTs (Boko Haram terrorists) in 13 gun trucks…advanced towards the camp from two different directions,” Daramola said in a statement. Nigerian troops supported by helicopters “forced the Boko Haram terrorists to retreat from the camp,” Daramola said. “One soldier was killed in action while four others were wounded,” said the Nigerian army in a statement posted on its official Twitter account.  AFP

57 Chibok Girls Seen in Cameroon – Parents
Fifty-seven Chibok schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram have been sighted in two villages in Cameroon, parents of the abducted girls told Daily Trust on Sunday yesterday. The girls were seen by other female captives who at different times were kept by the insurgents in the two villages in the northern part of Cameroon, the Chairman of Chibok Girls Parents Association, Yakubu Nkenke, told our correspondent yesterday. Nkenke said the girls who escaped and returned to their village near Chibok, disclosed that the 57 girls were broken into two groups and held in Garin Magaji and Garin Mallam villages located in Marwa in northern Cameroon. According to him, all the girls were married off to Boko Haram fighters across the border and many of them had children. Sahara Reporters

Two UN Peacekeepers Killed in Mali Attacks
Two United Nations peacekeepers have been killed and “several others” wounded in two attacks in northern and central Mali, the UN mission in the west African country has said. MINUSMA said troops “repelled a complex attack” on Saturday at their base in Ber, 60km east of Timbuktu, launched from several trucks armed with “rocket launchers, machine guns and other explosives”. A second attack in Konna, in the central Mopti region, involved a UN vehicle running over an improvised explosive device, wounding four Togolese peacekeepers. “According to an initial toll, two peacekeepers were killed and several others were wounded,” the UN mission said in a statement. Burkina Faso army has confirmed that two of its peacekeepers were killed in the Ber attack, with five others were injured.  Al Jazeera

Libya’s South Falls Prey to Foreign Armed Groups
Neglected by rival authorities in Tripoli and the country’s east, Libya’s southern desert has increasingly become a hideout for foreign rebel groups that stand accused of stoking growing insecurity. “Kidnapping, theft and banditry have multiplied” in the region, said Ali Akri Molia, commander of a unit responsible for protecting oil installations in the Oubari area of southern Libya. He and others blame rebel groups from neighbouring Chad for much of the insecurity. Mired in chaos since the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, two entities now vie for control over Libya – the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, and a parallel body in the east. The eastern administration is supported by strongman Khalifa Haftar, who heads the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA). AFP

Algeria’s Bouteflika to Seek Re-Election in 2019: Party Chief
Algeria’s frail President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999, will stand for a fifth term at elections next year, the head of his party said Sunday. National Liberation Front chief Djamel Ould Abbes said Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke in 2013, would be the party’s candidate at the vote set for April 2019, state news agency APS reported. “Bouteflika… is the candidate of the FLN for the presidential election,” Ould Abbes was quoted as saying at a meeting with lawmakers from the party. “His candidacy has been demanded by all the FLN cadres and activists across the country,” he said. The FLN central committee will meet soon to formalise the candidacy, Ould Abbes’ chief of staff Nadir Boulegroune told AFP. AFP

Somalia Says Al-Shabab Official Killed; Follows US Airstrike
Somalia’s national security agency says a senior official with the al-Shabab extremist group has been killed, a day after the U.S. military announced an airstrike against al-Shabab in the same area. Saturday’s statement says the unnamed official in charge of collecting revenue was killed on Thursday in Kunyo Barrow, north of the port city of Kismayo. The U.S. statement says its airstrike near Kunyo Barrow on Thursday killed two extremists. The U.S. has carried out over two dozen such airstrikes this year against the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab. In a separate attack, the African Union peacekeeping mission this week said al-Shabab’s head of tax collection in Lower Shabelle region was killed on Monday after an ambush on a meeting in Bariire. Al-Shabab funds its activities by taxing communities it controls.  AP

Zimbabwe Opposition Party ‘Installs’ Chamisa as President
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Nelson Chamisa on Saturday “installed” the 40-year-old lawyer as president of Zimbabwe, two months after President Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared by the Constitutional Court as winner of the country’s July 30 presidential election. MDC vice president Morgen Komichi declared Chamisa “duly bestowed as a president of Zimbabwe” before a packed sports stadium in Harare’s Highfield high density suburb where the party was holding its 19th anniversary. The move infuriated the ruling Zanu PF party, which described Chamisa’s inauguration as treasonous, noting that Mnangagwa was the democratically-elected president of Zimbabwe. In a unanimous ruling in August, nine judges of the Constitutional Court led by Chief Justice Malaba said Chamisa failed to prove allegations of electoral fraud in the presidential election.  VOA

SADC Ready to Take Command of the African Standby Force
Umodzi means “solidarity, partnership and oneness” in Malawian chiChewa and is an apt description of the just completed Southern African Development Community (SADC) command post exercise (CPX). The exercise was final preparation for the regional bloc ahead of it taking over command of the African Union (AU) African Standby Force (ASF) next year. According to the SADC secretariat southern Africa “is expected to assume its peacekeeping responsibilities at continental level under the ASF” in just over two months. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is the current lead of the ASF roster. An SADC publication reports: “The ASF is an important tool of the African peace and security architecture for prevention, management and resolution of conflicts on the continent. It is a multi-disciplinary peacekeeping force consisting of military, police and civilian contingents deployed to respond swiftly to a crisis unhampered by political and instrumental burdens. DefenceWeb

DRC Health Ministry: Children Dying of Ebola at Unprecedented Rate
Children in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are dying from Ebola at an unprecedented rate due largely to poor sanitary practices at clinics run by traditional healers, the health ministry said on Sunday. The impact on children has been felt acutely in the city of Beni, which has emerged as the outbreak’s new epicenter. Of 120 confirmed Ebola cases in Beni, at least 30 are under 10-years-old, and 27 of them have died, according to health ministry data. Many children affected by an unrelated malaria outbreak near Beni are thought to have contracted Ebola at clinics run by traditional healers who have also treated Ebola patients, said Jessica Ilunga, a spokeswoman for the health ministry. “There is an abnormally high number of children who have contracted and died of Ebola in Beni. Normally, in every Ebola epidemic, children are not as affected,” Ilunga told Reuters.  VOA

Spanish Rescuers Recover Dead Baby, Save 520 Migrants at Sea
Spain’s maritime rescue service says a baby has died despite efforts by rescuers to save it after a small boat carrying migrants sunk in the Mediterranean Sea. The death came as over 500 others were rescued. The service says Sunday that the bottom of the rubber boat gave out, tossing 56 migrants into the water when its rescue craft reached it Saturday east of the Strait of Gibraltar. Rescue workers were able to save 55 men, women and children, but could not reanimate the baby. In all, Spanish rescue workers saved 520 people trying to cross from North Africa to Spain on Saturday. In addition, one boat with 70 migrants arrived at the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Over 1,960 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe this year.  AP

eSwatini King Appoints MTN Executive as Prime Minister – Local Media
eSwatini’s King Mswati has appointed Ambrose Dlamini, chief executive of the local unit of telecoms group MTN, as new prime minister of the southern African kingdom, local media reported. Mswati is Africa’s last absolute monarch and has tight political control over the impoverished, land-locked nation formerly known as Swaziland, where political parties are banned. The king chooses the prime minister and government. The Times of Swaziland reported that Mswati made the announcement to supporters on Saturday at his royal residence. “The heavens told me that the person I will appoint should have your support and cooperation. You should cooperate with him so that tomorrow you don’t turn around and say the king gave you someone who knows nothing,” the paper quoted Mswati as saying. Reuters

Ramaphosa Seeks Investment Pledges to Help Struggling South African Economy
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared himself in economic “repair mode” at a major conference on Friday as he sought billions of dollars from foreign investors to haul the country out of recession. The former union leader, who inherited a mismanaged economy from the scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma earlier this year, wants $100 billion of new investments over the next five years. He has already secured pledges for around $35 billion, mainly from China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. South African e-commerce giant Naspers said it would invest 4.6 billion rand ($315 million) over the next three years in its technology businesses and to fund technology start-ups. Drug maker Aspen Pharmacare also said it would invest 3.4 billion rand to manufacture sterile anaesthetics at its Port Elizabeth plant.  Reuters

Germany Accused of ‘Meddling’ over Eritrea’s Absent Civil Liberties
Eritrea has told the Berlin government to “refrain from meddling” in regional affairs after the African country’s human rights record drew criticism in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. A statement posted on the Eritrean Ministry of Information website on Saturday described a speech earlier this month by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as “appalling.” Maas’ comments centered on the signing of a peace agreement in July between Ethiopia and Eritrea to formally end the two neighbors’ 1998-2000 war. He noted that while Ethiopia had made headway in expanding the human rights of its citizens, there had been a lack of progress in Eritrea.  Deutsche Welle

Eritrea, Sudan to Normalize Relations Soon: Report
Sudan and Eritrea would normalise bilateral relations in the near future as a result of regional efforts, according to a press report published in Khartoum on Sunday. In January 2018, Sudan accused Eritrea of backing rebel groups unidentified opposition groups and closed the border after deploying thousands of troops. In return, Asmara last May accused Sudan, Ethiopia and Qatar of supporting armed opposition groups to overthrow the government of President Isaias Afewerki. However, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reconciled with Eritrea last July and sought to bridge the gaps between the two neighbouring countries as he did with Eritrea and Somalia. Sudan Tribune

Russia Not Helping to Stabilize Central African Republic: France
Russia’s expanding influence in Central African Republic (CAR), a former French colony, over the past months is not likely to stabilize the country, French Defense Minister Florence Parly told weekly Jeune Afrique. In December 2017, Russia obtained the go-ahead from the United Nations’ Security Council to deliver arms to CAR, facing near-constant armed conflict since 2013, when a mostly Muslim Seleka rebel coalition overthrew then-president Francois Bozize, prompting reprisals from Christian ‘anti-balaka’ militias. Depite electing a new leader in 2016, the country has been mired in tit-for-tat inter-communal violence and political instability. Earlier this year Russia donated hundreds of weapons and sent 175 trainers to CAR to bolster the government’s fight against militia groups. Reuters

New CAR Court Seen as Milestone in Fight Against Impunity
The U.N. Human Rights Office welcomes the establishment of the Special Criminal Court in the Central African Republic, calling it a milestone in the fight against impunity. Over the past six years, war between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian anti-Balaka has killed thousands. It has displaced about one quarter of Central African Republic’s population of 4.6 million both internally and as refugees. Violence and gross human rights violations are rampant throughout the country. The U.N. human rights office sees the establishment of the Special Criminal Court as a huge step toward ending decades of recurring violence and abuse in the country. Spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, told VOA it is hoped prosecutions by the court will help break the cycle of impunity, which has plunged the country into one conflict after another. VOA

Africa Not Creating Enough Jobs for Booming Youth Population
A new report says African nations are failing to create enough jobs for a booming young population even as some countries have seen strong economic growth. The latest Ibrahim Index of African Governance sounds a warning for a continent where the sub-Saharan population is projected to double by 2050. The report released Monday says Africa’s overall GDP has risen nearly 40 percent over the past decade but the continent’s average score for sustainable economic opportunity has increased just a fraction of 1 percent. Africa is seeing the rise of young opposition leaders in countries like Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cameroon who are impatient with some of the world’s oldest or longest-serving heads of state.  AP



Photo: Adam Jones