Africa Media Review for October 9, 2018

Cameroon Polls Close, Vote Counting Begins in Key Election
Polls closed in Cameroon Sunday evening and vote counting began in an election that will likely see Africa’s oldest leader win another term amid fighting and threats from separatists that prevented residents in English-speaking regions from voting. President Paul Biya, in office since 1982, vows to end a crisis that has killed more than 400 people in the Central African nation’s Southwest and Northwest territories in more than a year. The fractured opposition has been unable to rally behind a strong challenger to the 85-year-old leader. Voting ended around 6 p.m. local time and results are expected within two weeks. “I am satisfied after performing my civic duty and particularly satisfied that the election is taking place in calm and serenity and without fighting,” said Biya after voting. “I hope that the calm will continue after results are proclaimed.”  AP

Cameroon Opposition Claims Election Win, Ruling Party Disagrees
Cameroon’s opposition candidate has claimed victory in Sunday’s presidential polls despite a government warning not to announce unofficial results. “I was charged with taking a penalty, I took it and I scored,” Movement for the Rebirth of Cameroon (MRC) candidate Maurice Kamto said at a news conference on Monday in Yaounde. “I have received a clear mandate from the people and I intend to defend it until the end,” he said. “I invite the outgoing president to organise a peaceful way to transfer power,” Kamto added. The opposition candidate did not give results to justify his claim, which was greeted by loud cheers from supporters as he made his announcement. Al Jazeera

Gunfire in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions Deters Voters on Polling Day
Voters in English-speaking regions of Cameroon went to the polls on Sunday amid gunfire and confrontations between the country’s military and separatists. The country’s 85-year-old president, Paul Biya, is running for a seventh term in the central African country where anglophone rebels have been fighting for secession from the francophone majority, prompting a fierce crackdown by government forces. Many anglophone Cameroonians have already fled their homes, but most of those remaining in the regions’ largest towns, Bamenda and Buea, were too scared to go out to cast their votes. Gun battles went on for hours in parts of the two towns. “We have been on the floor since the morning due to the gunshots. I felt like the bullets were passing all over my head. Now I know I cannot vote again,” said Allen Fru, an electrician in Bamenda.  The Guardian

Cameroon on Brink of Civil War as English Speakers Recount ‘Unbearable’ Horrors
A soldier’s crumpled corpse at a traffic circle. Young men gunned down in their living room while partying. A teenage boy killed by a stray bullet while watching television. Outbursts of gunfire so frequent that children call them “frying popcorn.” The horrors residents recount here at the base of cloud-covered Mount Cameroon are part of a conflict that has been upending the English-speaking regions of this country in recent months. “This situation, it’s unbearable,” said Leonard Etuge, one of the few holdouts still living in a once-bustling neighborhood along a highway called Mile 16 that is now littered with charred, overturned vehicles and shell casings. Cameroon is still grappling with a tangled colonial past that involved three European powers — Germany, France and Britain — and in recent years, it has become a vital partner of the United States in the battle against Islamist extremism in Africa. Now, the country is on the brink of civil war.  The New York Times

Gabon Ruling Party Claims Election Win
President Ali Bongo’s ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) has won a legislative election by a landslide in the first round, the presidency said. “We have observed what looks like a landslide in favour of the [ruling] majority,” presidential spokesman Ike Ngouoni said on Sunday, citing results posted publicly at voting stations. He said the PDG had won 80 of the 143 seats in the national parliament. Ngouoni said turnout was “relatively weak”. The presidential spokesman said the electoral authority would announce definitive results later Sunday or on Monday. Some opposition candidates and witnesses who spoke to the AFP news agency at polling stations alleged voting irregularities. Al Jazeera

Libya’s Eastern Forces Arrest Top Egyptian Al-Qaeda Fighter
An Egyptian former military officer accused of being behind a string of high-profile attacks in Egypt has been apprehended by Libya’s eastern forces, a Libyan military spokesperson said. Hesham Ashmawi was arrested on Sunday in Libya’s eastern city of Derna – located some 300 kilometres west of the Egyptian border with Libya – Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) said on Monday. The LNA published a picture of Ashmawi with blood on his face, being examined before having bandages applied. It also posted a photo appearing to show his Egyptian military identity card. Al Jazeera

Egyptian Military Kills 52 Militants in Sinai: Statement
Egyptian security forces killed 52 suspected militants in North Sinai, the military said in a statement on Monday. Security forces launched a large-scale operation in February to crush militants who have waged an insurgency that has killed hundreds of security forces and residents over many years. Their deaths bring the total of suspected Islamist militants killed since the beginning of the operation to at least 509, according to Reuters calculations based on military statements. The statement described those killed as “very dangerous” and said they were in possession of automatic rifles, ammunition, grenades and a drone.  Reuters

Rwandan Opposition Party Leader Feared Dead amid Reports He Escaped from Prison
The jailed vice president of Rwanda’s opposition FDU-Inkingi party escaped from prison on Sunday, according to the country’s correctional service. Boniface Twagirimana was missing from a routine headcount at the prison Monday, local media reported, quoting a Rwanda Correctional Service spokesperson. The spokesperson said that Twagirimana and another prisoner had managed to escape by jumping over the complex’s fence and said that an investigation had been launched. But members of the FDU — an unregistered political party — are calling “foul play” and fear that Twagirimana’s life could be in danger. In a statement released Monday, the FDU party questioned how Twagirimana could have escaped out of a high security prison he had been transferred to only five days prior and called on the Rwandan government for answers.  CNN

Libyan PM Looks to Broaden Support with Cabinet Reshuffle
Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj changed the interior minister and reshuffled other cabinet posts on Sunday in a move seen as a bid to broaden his support nationwide and bolster security in the capital after weeks of clashes. Tripoli has been hit by fighting between rival armed groups competing over access to public funds and power, part of chaos in Libya since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The violence started when some factions based outside the capital attacked four factions linked to the Tripoli government in late August. The United Nations has been trying to impose a ceasefire by calling for a broader security arrangement. Al Jazeera

Tunisia Extends State of Emergency amid Turmoil
Tunisia’s state of emergency came into effect on Monday amid political tensions ahead of next year’s legislative and presidential elections. The country’s presidency on Friday had announced the extension, imposed in 2015, following a series of deadly attacks by extremists. President Beji Caid Essebsi took the decision after consulting with the ministers of defence and interior, Tunisian news agency TAP said. According to a statement “the ministers discussed security and military situation in the country and at the borders, especially in response to terror threats and organised crime”. Mr Essebsi also consulted Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, despite strained relations between the two. The National

Morocco Navy Says 615 Migrants Saved in Weekend Ops
Morocco’s Royal Navy said Monday its forces rescued 615 migrants from 31 boats that ran into trouble in the Mediterranean at the weekend while trying to reach Spain. The Spanish coastguard announced on Sunday that in 48 hours it had rescued nearly 1,200 migrants bound for its shores — a main entry point for clandestine migration into Europe. All of the would-be migrants rescued by the Moroccan navy were brought back safely to the North African country’s ports, the armed forces said in a statement carried by MAP news agency. “Many of the boats that transported them sank due to their dilapidated state,” the statement said, without giving the nationalities of those rescued. On October 1, 13 migrants died when their boat sank in waters off the northeastern city of Nador while around 30 others were rescued by Moroccan fishermen. AP

Nobel Peace Prize Winner Calls on Congolese Government to Quit
[…] “The Congolese people live with unheard-of violence. Unheard of,” Mukwege said by phone from his hospital in Bukavu, in eastern DRC. “He [Kabila] is responsible for not putting an end to the violence. His role is to protect his people and their belongings. We see that 20 years after it came to power, this government does not protect women.” Kabila refused to leave power when his mandate ended nearly two years ago and his anointed successor’s strongest competitor has been forbidden to run. “I’ve always said that it’s an illegal and illegitimate government,” Mukwege said. “They must hand over to a caretaker government, which can organise free, fair, credible elections, and this transition must also put in place the foundations to build a solid democracy. “I think we’ll have elections on 23 December, but I think we’ll elect the same people, and the same actors will produce the same system that perpetuates the violence. The December elections do not seem credible or transparent … it’s a parody of an election.”  The Guardian

Ebola Threat Heightens Surveillance in Congo’s Eastern Neighbors
Rwanda and Uganda increased surveillance at their borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where instability is heightening the risk of an Ebola outbreak spreading. The virus has killed at least 113 people since it was identified near Beni in east Congo in August, the highest toll since an Ebola epidemic killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016. Insecurity and the spread of the virus toward the Ugandan frontier led the World Health Organization to say last month there’s a “very high” risk of it crossing Congo’s borders. “We have intensified our systems for health surveillance on our borders,” Ugandan Health Minister Sarah Achieng Opendi said by phone from the capital, Kampala. Anyone arriving from Congo is being screened and blood samples are being taken from those suspected of carrying the virus, she said. “Fortunately, all have tested negative.”  Bloomberg

Nigeria Election: Oby Ezekwesili to Stand for President
Nigeria’s presidential election was shaping up to be a contest between two veteran male politicians, but the candidacy of Oby Ezekwesili could change that. Women have run for the presidency before but she is the most prominent Nigerian woman to challenge for the top job, the BBC’s Nigeria reporter Chris Ewokor says. Ms Ezekwesili is well known for leading the #BringBackOurGirls campaign to help free the 276 girls kidnapped from Chibok, northern Nigeria, in 2014. She has also served as the country’s education minister and vice-president of the World Bank. But come February’s vote it will be a tough challenge to unseat incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, 75, or beat the main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, 72, who both have formidable party machines behind them.  BBC

Mozambique Local Elections to Test Peace Progress
Mozambique holds local elections on Wednesday in a vote that could test progress in the country’s peace talks after the ruling Frelimo party was accused of violence and intimidation during the campaign. The main opposition Renamo party, which has maintained an armed wing since the end of the country’s civil war, is running in the municipal polls for the first time in 10 years. Renamo fought a brutal 16-year civil war against the Marxist-inspired Frelimo government that devastated the economy and left one million people dead. When the war ended in 1992, the group soon began participating in elections. In 2013, a wave of fresh violence erupted between Renamo rebels and government troops, raising fears of a return to civil war. But three years later, the party declared a truce and opened fresh peace talks with the government. AFP

Madagascar’s 3 Recent Rulers Launch Election Campaigns
Madagascar’s election race officially opened on Monday with all three recent presidents launching their campaigns ahead of the November 7 vote, which follows months of political tensions. The Indian Ocean island suffers dire poverty and relies on foreign aid. It was rocked between April and June by protests in the main square of the capital Antananarivo over proposed electoral reforms. The growing demonstrations forced President Hery Rajaonarimampianina to accept the formation of a “consensus” government tasked with organising the November election. Among 36 candidates, the leading candidates are Rajaonarimampianina, who came to power in 2014, Marc Ravolamanana, the elected leader from 2002 to 2009, and Andry Rajoelina, who led the 2009 coup and held office until 2014. AFP

Several Congolese Killed in Angola Clashes: Reports
At least 10 Congolese were killed in Angola in clashes with locals and the police on the sidelines of a government drive to send them back to Democratic Republic of Congo, reports said on Monday. Angola’s state-run television TPA said 10 nationals from the Democratic Republic of Congo plus an Angolan police officer died in the unrest in Lucapa in Lunda Norte province, but in DRC an association representing Congolese living in Angola said 14 nationals had been killed. TPA said the trouble began on Wednesday when local Angolans clashed with Congolese gold miners. The police intervened and two Congolese were killed. It quoted witnesses as saying that trouble resurfaced the following day and that eight Congolese and a police officer were killed.  AFP

Congo Ministry Says at Least 53 Dead after Tanker Truck Fire
Congo’s Health Ministry says at least 53 people are dead and more than 72 people have been hospitalized after a tanker truck collided with another truck in western Congo. The ministry updated the figures Monday, saying the toll will likely rise, given the severity of burns suffered. The accident happened in the village of Mbuba, not far from Kisantu city and about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of the capital, Kinshasa. Witnesses say villagers rushed to collect leaking fuel from the vehicles when a fire broke out. The fire quickly spread to nearby homes. The ministry said 22 people died immediately. President Joseph Kabila had Saturday ordered three days of national mourning. An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the accident.  AP

Ramaphosa in a Fix over South African Finance Chief’s Deceit
Revelations that South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene lied about his meetings with three businessmen who’ve been implicated in plundering state funds presents President Cyril Ramaphosa with a thorny dilemma. If Ramaphosa fires Nene or he quits, the president would lose a close political ally, and a new finance chief — the nation’s fifth in less than three years — would have just weeks to deliver a mid-term budget that reassures investors and ratings companies. While a shakeup risks further eroding confidence, failure by Ramaphosa to act decisively may undermine his fight to end the graft and mismanagement that marred his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s rule. “It is a very sticky situation,” Susan Booysen, a political science professor at the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Governance, said by phone. “Nene is a key element of the Ramaphosa camp, but now it seems Nene has some skeletons of his own.”  Bloomberg

Ghana’s Grand Vision of a Life beyond Foreign Aid
The idea of a Ghana that aspires to life “beyond aid” began to resonate internationally last December, when Nana Akufo-Addo, the country’s grandiloquent president, stole the limelight at a joint press conference with the visiting French president, Emmanuel Macron. A local journalist had asked what Paris proposed to do for Africa. After the French president’s reply, Mr Akufo-Addo cleared his throat and began a 10-minute discourse in his plummy tones. Elected at the end of 2016 on his third attempt, the 74-year-old leader of the centre-right New Patriotic party (NPP) began: “It is not right for a country like Ghana, 60 years after independence, to still have its health and education budgets being financed on the basis of the generosity and charity of the European taxpayer. By now we should be able to finance our basic needs ourselves.”  The Economist



Photo: Adam Jones