Africa Media Review for September 26, 2016

Gabon Court Upholds President Bongo’s Election Win
Libreville’s nearly empty streets were under the watch of a heavy police and military presence on Saturday after Gabon’s top court upheld President Ali Bongo’s re-election in bitterly disputed polls. Security force checkpoints dotted routes into the capital’s centre, helicopters hovered overhead and elite troops protected the presidential palace, but no violence had been reported. The Constitutional Court, while partially changing the results of the close August 27 vote, said Bongo maintained a lead over his former ally-turned-opponent Jean Ping, at a televised public hearing overnight Friday-Saturday. Bongo took 50.66 percent of the vote against 47.24 percent for Ping, the court ruled, putting his margin at 11,000 — higher than the less than 6,000 initially announced. France 24

Gabon’s Bongo Asks National Unity After Re-election Is Confirmed
Gabon’s newly re-elected president, Ali Bongo, said Saturday that he would seek to form a new government based on a national political dialogue that will “most likely” include leading opposition figures. Bongo spoke in Libreville, a short while after the country’s Constitutional Court validated his August 27 victory, and just two weeks after opposition leader Jean Ping accused Bongo’s ruling party of vote fraud and challenged the outcome. Initial vote tallies had shown Bongo winning by 6,000 votes, but after examining voting records, the court said the incumbent in fact had won by nearly twice that margin — 11,700 votes. Ping accused the court of “bias.”  VOA

Purported Leader of Boko Haram Resurfaces in New Video
A man who claimed to be leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram has appeared in a video posted on social media, rejecting statements by the country’s military that he had been seriously wounded in an air strike. “You have been spreading in the social media that you injured or killed me,” the man purporting to be Abubakar Shekau, leader of the armed group, said in the 40-minute video released on YouTube on Sunday. Last month, Nigeria’s air force said it had killed senior members of the group, adding that Shekau had been seriously wounded. The Nigerian military has said it killed or critically wounded Shekau multiple times in recent years, often right before someone who claims to be him shoots a video denying it.  Al Jazeera

Niger Delta Avengers Claim First Attack in Energy Hub Since Ceasefire
Nigerian militant group the Niger Delta Avengers said on Saturday it had carried out its first oil pipeline attack in the country’s southern energy hub since declaring a break in hostilities in August to pursue talks with the government. The Avengers have previously launched attacks that have reduced the OPEC member’s crude oil production by around a third from the 2.1 million barrels per day average at the start of the year. The group said in a statement on its website that it had “brought down oil production activities at the Bonny 48 inches crude oil export line” in an attack on Friday night. An Avengers spokesman said in an emailed statement later that the attack took place in the sea near Bonny island in Rivers State, the location of a number of oil facilities. Reuters was not immediately able to independently verify the details. Reuters

UN Says NE Nigeria Drawn Back by 70 Years in Education
Boko Haram insurgency has set back Nigeria’s northeast by at least 70 years in education development, killing 611 teachers and forcing an estimated 952,029 children to flee schools, the UN said Friday. “As of 2015 in Nigeria, where Boko Haram has targeted education workers and students, at least 611 teachers had been deliberately killed and 19,000 forced to flee since 2009,” the UN said in a media advisory Friday ahead of public presentation on Monday of the 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report in Nigeria. The advisory, released to the media by a UN official Oluseyi Soremekun in the Nigerian capital Abuja, said up to 910 schools have been destroyed while 1,500 have been shut in the wake of the violence. GEM report shows individual country’s progress in the attainment of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Anadolu Agency

S Sudan Rebel Chief Machar Urges Armed Resistance to Juba Govt
A top South Sudanese opposition leader called on Saturday for armed resistance to the government in Juba — a stance that suggests the troubled east African nation could face a renewed civil war in the near future. Leader Riek Machar and top officials of the opposition SPLM-IO party issued a statement saying their forces would reorganise to “wage a popular armed resistance against the authoritarian and racist regime of President Salva Kiir”. It’s the first political statement by Machar since he fled South Sudan in August. The statement, obtained by The Associated Press, came after a meeting on Saturday of Machar and his supporters in Khartoum, Sudan. […] “It’s not at all surprising to see Machar call for continued armed struggle, in light of the U.S. policy to back Taban Deng as First Vice President and the clear absence of a viable political process,” Kate Almquist Knopf, director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, told the AP. The Washington Post

Former South Sudan Minister Forms New Political Party
Former South Sudan agriculture minister Lam Akol has formed a new political party, which he says will inject some ideology into the country’s politics. In an exclusive interview with The EastAfrican in Nairobi, Dr Akol said his new party, the National Democratic Movement (NDM), will fight against totalitarianism, corruption and ethnicity. Dr Akol, who resigned from the Transitional Government in August on the grounds that President Salva Kiir had gone against the peace agreement, said that NDM will work closely with Dr Riek Machar and other groups to take over the government from President Kiir. The East African

Dozens of South Sudanese Soldiers Sentenced to Death
Dozens of South Sudanese soldiers were sentenced to death Friday over abuses committed during the renewed flare-up in the capital Juba between government troops and former rebels in July. The United Nations last month had accused South Sudanese government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and former rebels backing opposition leader Riek Machar of ethnically-targeted atrocities, including extra judicial execution of civilians and rapes. Army spokesman Brig. Lul Ruai Koang said: “Yes, the military court sentenced to death soldiers convicted of murders, rapes, including looting of civilians properties.” Koang, who spoke with Anadolu Agency via phone from Juba, said the convicted soldiers would be executed by firing squad. Anadolu Agency

Somalia’s Parliamentary Election Postponed Again: Lawmaker
Elections in Somalia to choose a new parliament have been postponed for the second time in two months due to a dispute over how to select future members, a lawmaker said on Sunday. Voting for the 275-seat parliament was scheduled to start this weekend and end on Oct. 10, with new lawmakers set to appoint a president on Oct. 30. Facing an ongoing threat from the al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group al Shabaab, Somalia abandoned plans for a one person one vote election. Instead about 14,000 people representing federal states across the nation will choose members of the legislative assembly. Although a fraction of Somalia’s 11 million people, it is more than the 135 elders who picked the outgoing parliament in 2012. Reuters

Shabaab Claims Pro-government Militias Surrender in Central Somalia
One of Shabaab’s main radio stations in Somalia has published a report claiming “dozens” of pro-government militiamen in central Somalia have surrendered to the al Qaeda branch in recent days. This reportedly occurred in the Galguduud Region, where Shabaab has been able to recapture some towns after Somali and Ethiopian troops withdrew. Radio Andalus, one of Shabaab’s propaganada radio stations and media outlets, reported that dozens of these fighters surrendered and gave up their weapons to the jihadist group after a recent battle. Additionally, Shahada News, another Shabaab outlet, said that the number of militiamen that surrendered was close to 60. However, in photos released by Radio Andalus, the number appears to be nowhere near that total. It is possible that some militia members were not photographed. The fate of those fighters is not clear. Long War Journal

African Union Says EU Funds Secured for Its Mission in Somalia 
The African Union said it secured 178 million euros ($199.6 million) of financial support from the European Union for its peacekeeping mission in Somalia, as the war-torn nation prepares for elections next month. The contract signed Wednesday covers the period from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, 2016, with funds to be used for the allowances of mission troops and police, international and local civilian staff salaries and operational costs, the African Union said in a statement. The EU is the main financier of the African Union Mission in Somalia, or Amisom, previously providing about 1.2 billion euros since 2007, half of which is spent on allowances. EU contributions to Amisom were cut by 20 percent since January because of budgetary constraints. Bloomberg

Deadly Clashes in DR Congo City of Kananga
Security forces in Kananga clashed with militia fighters seeking to avenge the death of their leader who was killed in August by the military, officials and media reports say. The fighters attacked the city’s airport on Friday, killing an airline worker, witnesses said. DR Congo has suffered from years of unrest and political instability. Protests against President Joseph Kabila in the capital Kinshasa earlier this week left at least 50 people dead, the UN said. Reports said fighters loyal to late tribal chief Kamwina Nsapu first entered Kananga on Thursday morning. BBC

Kenyan Police Accused of Executing 3 Women After Attack
Human rights activists on Friday accused Kenyan police of executing three women who allegedly attacked a police station this month after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group. In one video posted on social media by a human rights activist, two of the women can be seen sprawled on the ground with severe burns on their bodies. A man with a rifle opens fire at them. Another video posted online shows a woman burnt and lying on her back while being questioned about the attack. Police said they killed the three women on Sept. 11 after they attacked the police station in Mombasa with a petrol bomb and knife. Police said the women had pledged allegiance to IS. Activist al-Amin Kimathi demanded that the police officers responsible for the executions be prosecuted. VOA

Death Toll in Migrant Shipwreck Off Egypt Rises to 300
A record number of migrants is expected to drown in the Mediterranean in 2016, after the estimated death toll in this week’s latest shipwreck rose to about 300 on Friday. Egyptian officials have rescued about 160 survivors from Wednesday’s shipwreck off the country’s north coast, leaving about 150 people still unaccounted for, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Those confirmed dead include 10 women and a baby, taking the estimated number of migrants to die in the Mediterranean so far this year to more than 3,500. At the current rate, the death toll for 2016 is expected to easily surpass the figure for 2015 of 3,771, which was the highest ever recorded. By this stage in 2015, 2,887 people had drowned. The Guardian

Development Models Aim to Create Long-term Solutions to Migration Crisis
As thousands of migrants and refugees flee the African continent for Europe and beyond, some are looking for new ways to make people’s lives better on their home continent. More than 50 countries including United States, Britain and European countries made a financial pledge to support nations that are large sources of refugees and migrants. Together, they have pledged to increase contributions in 2016 by $4.5 billion, including $1 billion from the United States. The commitments were made during the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, convened by U.S. President Barack Obama during the U.N. General Assembly. VOA

Why Is It So Hard to Stop West Africa’s Vicious Pirates?
[…] There is so much interest in understanding what overcame Somali piracy because high-seas larceny and kidnapping are spiking in other parts of the world, especially West Africa. The Gulf of Guinea, stretching from Senegal to Angola, represents a crucial gateway for oil shipments from Nigeria and Angola, two major oil exporters. But it’s increasingly a prized hunting ground for pirates looking to kidnap captains and crew from oil-industry vessels working close to shore. The pirates around Nigeria have started to expand hostage-taking from offshore supply vessels to production storage and general cargo ships. There were 54 piracy incidents reported last year, with 37 crew members kidnapped off the Niger Delta, and 34 the previous year. As a result, the area along Nigeria’s coast is now the most violent and dangerous area for shipping companies, according to Oceans Beyond Piracy, a Colorado-based nonprofit group that tracks piracy. The problem could be even graver; the IMB estimates that only one-third of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea end up being reported. Shipping companies often would rather avoid having to inform insurers or endure a long investigation that often comes to nothing.  Foreign Policy

Number Fleeing Burundi to Neighbouring Countries Tops 300,000
The number of people fleeing violence, threats, extrajudicial killings, abduction, torture and persecution in Burundi has passed the 300,000 mark, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said today. The grim milestone comes some 18 months after the political crisis in the central African nation erupted in April last year. While departure numbers have generally not been as high as in 2015, there has been a constant flow this year, including more than 20,000 in July and August. Most are fleeing Kirundo, Makamba, Bujumbura city, Cibitoke and Rumonge provinces in search of asylum or international protection. UNHCR expects numbers to continue rising in the remaining months of this year. However, there are fears that neighbouring Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and aid agencies including UNHCR will struggle to continue providing adequate shelter, protection and life-saving services. UNHCR

‘We Are Thirsty’ Say Tunisians as Drought Creates Tensions
Struggling with extremism and economic woes, Tunisia now faces another menace: persistent drought across several regions that is creating new social tensions and threatening farming, a pillar of the economy. Farmland is too parched to cultivate crops and rural protesters have tried disrupting water supplies to the capital, while one legislator is calling for a “thirst revolt.” A lack of rain, combined with years of bad resource management, has left reservoirs and dams at exceptionally low levels that could lead to a “catastrophic situation,” said Saad Seddik, who was agriculture minister until last month. With municipal water supplies periodically cut off, residents of some towns are walking several kilometers (miles) to fetch water from public fountains, loading up donkeys with water canisters — if there’s any left. AP on Stars and Stripes

Africa’s Elephant Ivory: Sell or Destroy?
Huge orange flames and plumes of smoke filled the air at Nairobi National Park in April, a sobering image as 105 tons of elephant ivory and 1.35 tons of rhino horn were destroyed. Kenya conducted the event to demonstrate that ivory has no value to anyone except elephants. President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged his country’s support for a complete ban of the ivory trade at the conference for the global conservation body known as CITES, which opens Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, is expected to make a determination on whether countries in Africa should destroy seized ivory or be allowed to sell it to fund conservation efforts. The question has sparked heated debate on the continent, with some arguing that the future of elephants is at stake. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones