Africa Media Review for October 30, 2017

Islamists Attack Somali Hotel, Killing at Least 29, Police Say
The attack proved once again that insurgents can carry out deadly assaults in the heart of the Somali capital. Twin bombings in Mogadishu two weeks ago killed more than 350 people, the worst such attacks in the country’s history. The Islamist militants al Shabaab claimed responsibility for this weekend’s attack. The government responded by sacking two of the country’s top security officials. “So far I am sure 29 people died – the death toll may rise,” Abdullahi Nur, a police officer, told Reuters. At least 12 of the dead were police officers, Nur said. And a woman, Madobe Nunow, was beheaded while her “three children were shot dead,” he said. Reuters

Somali Police, Intelligence Chiefs Fired after Deadly Hotel Siege
Minister of Information Abdirahman Omar Osman confirmed the dismissals of the Commander of Somali Police, General Abdihakim Dahir Saaid and Intelligence Chief Abdullahi Mohamed Ali Sanbalolshe. Osman told VOA, “What was expected of the security agencies was that the necessary intelligence and surveillance information should have stopped this truck.” Militants stormed the Nasa Hablod Two Hotel late Saturday following a truck bomb blast at the hotel’s gate. Osman said five al-Shabab militants executed the attack. Police captured three, and shot another dead, while the fifth died in the truck explosion. The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility within minutes of the attack. A second car bomb blast Saturday caused injuries near the former parliament building. VOA

Kenyatta Sweeps Kenya’s Presidential Vote as Opposition Warns of ‘Resistance’
A day after Kenya’s presidential vote, there was no doubt about the winner. Preliminary results showed President Uhuru Kenyatta receiving 98 percent of the ballots cast in the election, which was held after an earlier result was annulled because of irregularities. What was less clear is how this country, one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most influential nations, will emerge from a political crisis. Opposition leader Raila Odinga had boycotted Thursday’s election, claiming that the country was not ready to hold a credible poll after the bungled August vote. Kenyans waited nervously to see how his supporters would react once Kenyatta’s reelection was announced. On Thursday and Friday, some of them lobbed rocks at police and screamed “No Raila, no peace.” The Washington Post

Kenya Calls off Repeat Presidential Rerun in Restive Western Regions amid Fears of ‘Pogroms’
Officials in Kenya have called off a second attempt to hold elections in the country’s volatile west on Saturday amid opposition claims of a state plot to unleash ethnic “pogroms” against anti-government tribes in the region. With opposition supporters erecting barricades to prevent the delivery of ballot boxes, officials said mounting insecurity had made it impossible to repeat voting in parts of four counties where voting failed to take place during Thursday’s contentious presidential election. As violence continued for a second day, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s hopes of reasserting authority over his divided country suffered a blow after provisional figures indicated that two-thirds of Kenyans had chosen not to vote. The Telegraph

Kenya Opposition Leader Demands New Presidential Election
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga is demanding a new presidential election within 90 days, saying the country is in “grave danger” from political violence. Odinga spoke to the Associated Press, three days after he boycotted Thursday’s rerun of the August election, whose results were thrown out by the Supreme Court because of irregularities. Odinga called Thursday’s vote invalid because President Uhuru Kenyatta faced no opposition. “It was Uhuru versus Uhuru,” Odinga told the AP. He also said the president is trying to “destroy other institutions of governance in our country.” VOA

Egypt Triggers Major Security Shakeup a Week after Ambush
Egypt launched a major shakeup of its security services on Saturday in an apparent reaction to an ambush by militants outside Cairo last week that killed at least 16 police troopers. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi replaced his armed forces chief of staff, while the Interior Ministry, in charge of police, dismissed the head of national security, a handful of generals, and a dozen senior leaders responsible for the area where the deadly shootout occurred. The move was not unexpected after officials publicly evoked potential intelligence failures, lack of coordination, or incompetence as playing a factor in the losses, the latest installment of Egypt’s ongoing war against Islamic militants, including the Islamic State group. AP

Four Civilians, Policeman Killed in Clashes in DR Congo’s Goma
Four civilians and a policeman were killed Monday in clashes in eastern DR Congo as demonstrations took place to demand President Joseph Kabila stand down this year, an AFP correspondent said. The journalist said he saw the bodies of four civilians lying in blood in the Madjengon district of Goma, capital of the troubled North Kivu province, while the body of a policeman who had been hit with stones was on the ground in the neighbouring district Mabanga. The protest was organised by an associations of civil society groups, including the pro-democracy Struggle for Change (Lucha). “The resistance against the bloody and predatory regime of Kabila has well and truly begun,” Lucha said on Twitter. AFP

DR Congo’s Kasai Conflict: ‘Millions Face Starvation without Aid’
The head of the UN food agency has appealed for aid to avert a humanitarian crisis in the conflict-wracked DR Congo province of Kasai. David Beasley told the BBC that more than three million people were now at risk of starvation. He warned that hundreds of thousands of children could die in the coming months if aid was not delivered. Violence flared in August 2016 after the death of a local leader during clashes with security forces. It has forced 1.5 million million people from their homes, most of them children. BBC

US Envoy Haley’s Blunt Diplomacy Targets South Sudan, Congo
In a mountainous camp for displaced Congolese, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley wrapped her arm around an inconsolable woman who recounted being raped twice. “It only makes me more passionate, it makes me more determined,” Haley told a small group of reporters traveling with her during her first trip to Africa. “I’ll carry the voices of the women that I met and things that they said.” Dispatched by President Donald Trump to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo, Haley’s trip was one of the first tangible signs of interest in Africa by the nine-month old administration. Her challenge: how to show the United States is actively engaged in Africa, where humanitarian and political crises are often overshadowed by more urgent conflicts elsewhere and at the same time honor Trump’s avowed “America First” policy which puts U.S. economic and national interests ahead of international commitments. VOA

UN Mission Urges Probing into Killing of Dozens in Libya
UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Sunday called for an immediate investigation into the killing of 36 people near the eastern city of Benghazi. “UNSMIL calls for immediate investigation to bring perpetrators to justice,” the mission said on social media on Sunday. “UNSMIL condemns in the strongest terms the heinous crime resulting in the killing of at least 36 whose bodies found in Abyar area,” the mission said. The eastern-based army command on Saturday issued orders to open an urgent investigation into the incident. Residents of the town Abyar, 50 kilometers southwest of Benghazi, reported the discovery of 36 unidentified bodies with bullet marks in a deserted area, according to a military source. Xinhua

Togolese ‘Fleeing Human Rights Abuses’ to Ghana: UN
More than 500 Togolese nationals have sought refuge in neighbouring Ghana because of a government crackdown on opposition protests, the UN refugee agency said on Friday. “So far, 513 asylum seekers have been registered by the Ghanaian authorities,” UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch said in a statement. They crossed the border to Chereponi, Zabzugu and Bunkpurugu-Yunyuo in Ghana’s remote northwest and most were staying with local families or in community centres, he added. “Togolese seeking safety, including women and children, told UNHCR staff they had fled on foot, walking from their homes in Togo’s Mango region, bordering Ghana,” he said. “They said they were fleeing human rights abuses after the recent political protests.” AFP

Togo’s President Defiant in First Speech since Protests
Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe has spoken publicly for the first time since a wave of demonstrations calling for the end of the ‘Gnassingbe dynasty’ began in August. “You will agree with me that we are going through a tough political crisis in the country […] we have to be bold, courageous and patient to embrace this situation,” Gnassingbe told his party’s annual congress. In August, two opposition protesters were killed and 13 others wounded when security forces opened fire to break up protests. Al Jazeera

French FM Le Drian Asks UN to Back G5 Sahel Force
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will pitch for UN support for a five-country anti-jihadist force in the Sahel region at a UN Security Council meeting Monday. But he faces reticence on the part of the US, which has so far opposed UN involvement. France has championed the G5 force, which will be made up of troops from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad and Mauritania. It wants donors to step up but it also wants backing from the UN. The US, which negotiated a 600-million-dollar (500-million-euro) cut in the UN peacekeeping budget this year, says it is ready to give bilateral funding but does not want the UN to finance it. RFI

S. Sudan Army Units Defect after Failure to Free Ex-Army Chief
Units of the South Sudanese army (SPLA) led by high-ranking officers have defected following a failed attempt to forcefully free former army chief, General Paul Malong Awan, who has been placed under house arrest since his removal mid this year. The move, military sources told Sudan Tribune, has sparked tension and fears that the army could be divided and imbued with dissents. Actual numbers of the troops believed to have defected from the army, however, remains unclear and there are conflicting accounts and information about names of the officers who have defected. Some of these dissenting officers fled to an unnamed neighbouring country, where they hope to declare their positions on this matter. Sudan Tribune

Liberia Ruling Party Contests Result of Presidential Vote
Liberia’s ruling party on Sunday announced a formal complaint against the electoral commission over the outcome of the October 10 presidential poll, days before a runoff involving its candidate, Vice President Joseph Boakai. A statement released by the Unity Party and two other parties called for “a logical legal conclusion as quickly as permissible under Liberian law,” citing “widespread and systematic fraud (and) incompetence” that prevented legitimate voters from casting ballots. The statement also accused incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, also of the Unity Party, of “interfering” with the election by meeting polling officials at her residence. AFP

Division in Botswana Opposition Leads to New Party
The once a united force, Botswana opposition is now fragmented, resulting in the formation of a new party. This is considered a serious knock in the oppositions’ chances of ever ruling the landlocked country of just over 2 million people. In 2014 a coalition of opposition parties, called the Umbrella for Democratic Change won 20 seats out of the 57 parliament seats. The margin marked the highest number of seats the opposition has ever won in Botswana. In 2014, the late Gomolemo Motsoaledi defected from the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, he formed the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD), which is part of the Umbrella for Democratic Change. SABC

Whites Own 73% of South Africa’s Farming Land, City Press Says
White farmers own almost three-quarters of South Africa’s agricultural land, even after 23 years of government efforts to redistribute land to the black majority, City Press reported, citing a land audit by farm lobbying group Agri SA. Some 73.3 percent of agricultural land is owned by whites, down from 85.1 percent in 1994, the year South Africa first held democratic elections, the newspaper reported. Black ownership has increased markedly in some of the country’s most fertile provinces. Black farmers own 74 percent of the land in KwaZulu-Natal and 52 percent in Limpopo, City Press reported, citing the report to be released this week. Bloomberg

Public Shaming and Even Prison for Plastic Bag Use in Rwanda
They are sometimes tucked into bras, hidden in underwear or coiled tightly around a smuggler’s arms. They’re not narcotics or even the illegally mined gold and diamonds that frequently make it across the border into Rwanda. But they are, at least in the eyes of Egide Mberabagabo, a watchful border guard, every bit as nefarious. The offending contraband? Plastic bags. “They’re as bad as drugs,” said Mr. Mberabagabo, one of a dozen border officials whose job it is to catch smugglers and dispose of the illicit plastic he finds. Here in Rwanda, it is illegal to import, produce, use or sell plastic bags and plastic packaging except within specific industries like hospitals and pharmaceuticals. The nation is one of more than 40 around the world that have banned, restricted or taxed the use of plastic bags, including China, France and Italy. But Rwanda’s approach is on another level. Traffickers caught carrying illegal plastic are liable to be fined, jailed or forced to make public confessions. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones