Africa Media Review for October 7, 2016

Somali Islamist Militants Kill Six in Kenya Attack
Islamist militants from the Somali group al Shabaab killed six people in an attack in northeast Kenya on Thursday, the latest in a series of raids by the group in the region. Mandera on the Somali border has often been targeted by al Shabaab, which says it will continue its campaign of attacks in Kenya until the Kenyan government withdraws its troops from Somalia where they are part of an African force. “We have suffered another sad attack,” the governor of Mandera county, Ali Roba, wrote on Twitter, saying six people had been confirmed killed. “If not for the quick response by our security forces, we would be talking of many more casualties now,” Roba told Reuters by telephone. “From the nature and style of the attack, it will obviously be al Shabaab.” Reuters

Eleven Killed, 14 Missing in Central African Republic Clashes
Eleven people were killed in clashes in Central African Republic’s capital this week that were set off by the murder of an army officer, the country’s United Nation’s peacekeeping mission said Thursday. Fighting erupted in Bangui’s PK5 neighborhood, a Muslim enclave in the majority Christian nation’s capital, after Commander Marcel Mombeka, a former aide to ex-President Catherine Samba-Panza, was shot dead there in his car Tuesday. Central African Republic has been plagued by inter-religious violence since 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power, prompting reprisals from Christian militias, known as anti-balaka. VOA

Violence Hinders Aid in Northern CAR
Fighting between rival armed groups and a string of attacks on humanitarians in northern Central African Republic has hindered the delivery of aid to about 120 000 people in need of food, agencies said on Thursday. Violence in the town of Kaga Bandoro last month between the mainly Muslim Seleka group and Christian anti-Balaka militia killed six people and forced 3 200 to flee their homes, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said. While the U.N. peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) has managed to quell the fighting and improve security, there has been a heavy spell of attacks on aid agencies, said Fabrizio Hochschild, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the country. Reuters

Stalled Peace Process, Fresh Ceasefire Violations Risk Mali’s Stability – UN Peacekeeping Chief
Citing a lack of progress on the peace process in Mali, the United Nations peacekeeping chief today warned that the UN mission there would not be able to fully carry out its mandate as long as the signatories to the peace agreement do not resolutely engage in its implementation. “If the relative respite in recent months [leads us] to expect a possible improvement of the situation on the ground, we need to face the fact that persistent delays in the implementation of the peace agreement and new violations the ceasefire are incompatible with lasting stabilization, albeit partial, of the situation,” Under-Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous told the Security Council. UN

International Community Slams Fresh Call For War in South Sudan
The international community on Thursday hit out at a call from South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar for renewed war with the government, raising concerns about heavy fighting in recent weeks. Machar, the former vice president, last month urged “a popular armed resistance” against his rival Salva Kiir’s government, in a statement from Khartoum where he is in exile. In a joint statement, the European Union, Norway, the United States and the United Kingdom, together with Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, condemned “calls by opposition leaders for a renewal of armed conflict”. The East African

Morocco Votes in Test of King’s Post-Arab Spring Reforms: Q&A
Moroccans head to the polls on Friday to vote for a new parliament, the kingdom’s second legislative election since the Arab Spring, when as elsewhere across the Middle East protesters took to the streets demanding change. Balloting will be a test of the political system ushered in by King Mohammed VI as anger roiled the region in 2011. The monarch was quick to introduce constitutional amendments that delegated some of his near-absolute powers to a prime minister. That helped Morocco avoid the violent unrest that swept other leaders from power, and embark on a path of economic reform. Here’s a look at the main contenders and possible outcomes. Bloomberg

Kenyan Election Commissioners Quit
Kenya’s election commission resigned Wednesday, the government said, following months of protests over alleged bias. All 10 members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) handed resignation letters to President Uhuru Kenyatta after opposition claims that they were unfit to oversee an election due next August led to weekly demonstrations and the deaths of at least four people. Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga had claimed the commissioners were planning to rig the 2017 election in exchange for money and high office in Kenyatta’s government. Anadolu Agency

Shift in U.S. Congo Policy Leaves Kabila Exposed
Shortly after Congo President Joseph Kabila came to power in 2001, the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa sent cables to Washington exuding quiet confidence in the 29-year-old who had replaced his recently assassinated father, Laurent. In one, released later by Wikileaks, the ambassador described an articulate but shy man, seemingly weighed down by the burdens of leading Democratic Republic of Congo. Days later, Kabila spoke on television for the first time. “Kabila’s address is encouraging, reflecting a shift toward the reform and moderate elements in the Congolese power structure,” the ambassador wrote. Fifteen years later, with an election due but Kabila showing little sign of being ready to relinquish power, an incident at Kinshasa’s airport highlighted how much has changed. Reuters

Burundi Says Plans to Quit International Criminal Court
Burundi plans to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, a deputy to President Pierre Nkurunziza said on Thursday, six months after the court’s prosecutor said it will investigate violence which killed hundreds of people. Burundi slid into political crisis last year when Nkurunziza announced his intention to seek a third term in office, which he went on to win in an election boycotted by opposition parties. The Hague-based International Criminal Court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in April the court would investigate incidents of violence in Burundi that have killed at least 450 and forced hundreds of thousands to flee abroad since the crisis erupted in April 2015.  VOA

Zambian Opposition Leaders Granted Bail in Sedition Case
Zambia’s opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema and his deputy were granted bail on Thursday after being charged with sedition, a move his team said was an attempt by the ruling party to silence dissent. Two months ago, Hichilema’s United Party for National Development (UPND) denounced President Edgar Lungu’s re-election as fraudulent but attempts to mount a legal challenge have so far been unsuccessful. Hichilema and Geoffrey Mwamba were detained on Wednesday accused of holding an assembly without a permit in connection with an impromptu address he gave on Sept 26 to a group of supporters in the rural town of Mpongwe, police said. Reuters

South Sudan Opposition Call for Civil War Condemned by U.S., EU 
Members of the international community including the U.S. and European Union condemned calls by South Sudanese opposition leaders for the renewal of a civil war that’s claimed tens of thousands of lives in the oil-producing nation. “Further fighting will not solve South Sudan’s pressing political and economic challenges,” according to a statement also endorsed by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development, a regional bloc, Norway and the U.K. “It will only increase the suffering of South Sudan’s people, worsen a grave humanitarian crisis and further inflame ethnic tensions.” Former Vice President Riek Machar, who’s in neighboring Sudan after being forced from South Sudan’s capital in July, said last month his country’s people “should brace for long-term popular armed resistance.” Bloomberg

UN Peacekeepers Failed to Protect Civilians in South Sudan, Says Rights Group
UN peacekeepers cowered in their bases rather than risk doing their job of protecting civilians during an outbreak of fighting in South Sudan in July, a rights group said Wednesday. Some peacekeepers in the capital Juba abandoned their posts inside “Protection of Civilian” sites – where tens of thousands have sought safety from successive bouts of fighting – while outside the fortified bases, peacekeeper presence was “non-existent.” They refused to help when foreign aid workers were attacked and some of them gang-raped in a hotel close to a UN base. France 24

Zimbabwe to Change Black Empowerment Law to Reassure Investors
Zimbabwe will amend a black empowerment law that aims to transfer majority shares from foreign-owned firms to locals after it was blamed for deterring investment, President Robert Mugabe said on Thursday. The indigenization and economic empowerment law requires foreign companies, including mining firms and banks, to transfer at least 51 percent of shares to black Zimbabweans. But implementing the policy has been difficult, with Mugabe’s ministers often issuing conflicting statements. Mugabe in April said the law was confusing businesses and made it hard for Zimbabwe to compete for foreign investment. Reuters

US Relaxes Sanctions Against Some Zimbabwean Individuals, Firms
Some individuals and companies affected by the United States sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe since 2003 have been taken off the blacklist. Among the individuals off the list are deceased Zanu PF (Mugabe’s party) members, divorced spouses of party officials and retired members critical of the administration. These include Sabina Mugabe, the president’s younger sister and politician who died in 2010; Charles Utete, ex-secretary of the president who died in July 2016; Aeneas Chigwedere, a former minister; Jocelyn Chiwenga, ex-wife of the commander of the Zimbabwean army; Cephas Msipa, retired Zanu PF leader turned Mugabe critic; Georgina Nkomo, wife of deceased Zimbabwean Vice President. Africa News

Tanzania’s Magufuli Pleases, Alarms With Dramatic Decrees
At first, Tanzania’s new president appeared keen on smashing corruption and wasteful government spending, capturing the admiration of many in this East African country with austerity measures like rarely traveling abroad. Then came President John Pombe Magufuli’s more startling decrees. He banned all opposition rallies until 2020, when the next election is due. He approved a tough new cybercrime law under which some Tanzanians have been charged with insulting him in WhatsApp chats. Less than a year after his election, Magufuli has split public opinion with what some describe as undemocratic attempts to reform the government. Others see them as exhilarating. AP

US Labels Cape Verde a ‘Model of African Democracy’ for Peaceful Polls
The United States (US) has congratulated the president and people of Cape Verde for the enthusiastic and peaceful nature in which they held the recent presidential elections. A statement from the State Department said the just ended polls confirmed that the Island nation was a model of democracy on the continent. ‘‘These successful elections reaffirm Cabo Verde’s standing as a model of democratic values and processes in Africa,’‘ the statement read. The US further congratulated Cape Verdean President Jorge Carlos Fonseca on his reelection. Fonseca won the polls with over 70 percent of the votes. Africa News

As Merkel Set to Visit Africa, Migrant Crisis Is Top Issue
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is making a three-nation visit to Africa next week, with the migrant crisis leading the agenda. A German official said Thursday that Merkel will visit Mali on Sunday, Niger on Monday and Ethiopia on Tuesday. Another top issue is support for the fight against terror. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with department rules. Niger is a major transit point for African migrants making their way north toward Europe, and Merkel is expected to visit a center run by the International Organization for Migration. On Thursday, Merkel said in a speech to Germany’s main industry lobby group that some 90 percent of the migrants who reach the Libyan coast come through Niger. Libya has been a launching point for thousands of migrants setting off toward Europe on often deadly voyages across the Mediterranean. AP on ABC News

A Year Ago Tunisia Won the Nobel Peace Prize. But the Country Is Far From Peaceful
[…] It was nearly five years ago, shortly after 24-year-old street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi lit himself on fire in Tunisia and ignited what would become known as the Arab Spring, that Husseini, then 34, doused himself in gasoline in front of a police-officer who had been harassing him in his hometown of Kasserine. He struck a match and woke up seven months later in the hospital. At the onset of the uprising, self-immolation became the modus operandi for anguished and hopeless youth hoping to demonstrate just as much as self-destruct. Around Kasserine, a hub of dissent well before the country’s protests reverberated across the region, Husseini is known as the “real Bouazizi,” whose role many Tunisians say was overhyped by Western media. Husseini never received the same international attention, but his immolation on January 7, 2011 sparked pivotal protests in Kasserine. A week later, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee Tunisia after 23 years in power. Time

South Africa’s Zuma Quizzed Over Rich Friends’ Links to Power
South African President Jacob Zuma faced questions on Thursday over allegations his wealthy business friends influenced political appointments, in the final investigation by an anti-graft chief who has been a thorn in his side. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela won popular acclaim when her investigation into $16 million of improper state spending on Zuma’s private home was upheld in the constitutional court and the president was forced to repay some of the funds. As part of her final inquiry, Madonsela will quiz Zuma behind closed doors later on Thursday afternoon over accusations the Gupta family played a role in selecting cabinet members and used their relationship with the president to gain favour in terms of government tenders, payments and licenses. Reuters

Chinese Aid Is Helping African Economies, But Not in the Places That Need it Most
Western donors and lenders are generally skeptical about China’s efforts to assume a leadership role in providing global infrastructure, and point to the benefits international competitive bidding rules and environmental and social safeguards provide to ensure responsible and sustainable implementation of infrastructure projects. And U.S. leaders, including President Obama and Hillary Clinton, have warned African counterparts that China may be motivated not by a desire to improve the lives of ordinary Africans but more by a desire to gain access to the continent’s natural resources. […] There are news reports from time to time about empty hospitals, roads that have washed away and white elephant projects. But many African leaders insist that China is a more reliable and efficient partner. In 2008, then-President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade took Western donors and lenders to task for their criticism of China’s rapidly expanding overseas development program, noting that “China has helped African nations build infrastructure projects in record time — bridges, roads, schools, hospitals, dams, legislative buildings, stadiums and airports … a contract that would take five years to discuss, negotiate and sign with the World Bank takes three months when we have dealt with the Chinese authorities.”What’s the real story? Do these projects improve economic development?  The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones