Africa Media Review for September 27, 2017

Kenya Police Tear Gas Protests over Electoral Commission
Kenya police Tuesday dispersed protesters in front of the electoral commission offices as controversy continued over who should conduct the fresh presidential elections. Fresh presidential elections are scheduled for Oct. 26 after the Supreme Court, earlier this month, invalidated President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election win. Police lobbed tear gas after shoving broke out between opposition supporters, who demanded the resignations and prosecutions of top officials of the electoral commission, and ruling party supporters who urged no change to the electoral body, said opposition supporter Cyrus Okemwa. Peaceful protests were carried out by hundreds of supporters in the opposition stronghold of Kisumu against the commission. AP

US Urges South Sudan to Seize Last Chance to Save Peace Deal
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged South Sudan’s leaders on Tuesday to seize “the last chance” to salvage the 2015 peace agreement and end the worsening violence that has forced 4 million people to flee their homes and left 7.6 million in desperate need of aid. Haley told the U.N. Security Council that “the people of South Sudan are suffering and the promise of their hard-fought independence is slipping away.” She said opposing parties in the world’s newest nation must commit themselves to the revitalization process put forward by the eight-nation East African regional group known as IGAD “to resuscitate the peace agreement — and to do so quickly for time is running short.” There were high hopes that South Sudan would have peace and stability after its independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011. But the country plunged into ethnic violence in December 2013 when forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, started battling those loyal to Riek Machar, his former vice president who is a Nuer. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people. AP

Fistfights Erupt in Uganda’s Parliament amid Move to Extend Museveni Rule
Fistfights and chair-throwing broke out in Uganda’s parliament on Tuesday ahead of a debate on whether to grant long-serving President Yoweri Museveni another term in office, local television showed. The move to extend his rule has met widespread opposition from civic rights activists, the political opposition, religious leaders and even some members of Museveni’s own ruling party. He has been in power for more than three decades. Government and opposition lawmakers came to blows after the House speaker allowed a ruling party legislator to introduce a motion to kick-start a process to remove an age cap from Uganda’s constitution to allow Museveni to run for re-election. Reuters

Uganda Opposition Leader Kizza Besigye Arrested
Ugandan opposition supremo Kizza Besigye was Tuesday arrested in down town Kampala. The Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate was seized barely an hour to the anticipated Parliament debate on the removal of age limit cap from the Constitution. Security agencies intercepted Dr Besigye, a four time presidential candidate, as he went to rally his supporters against the removal of Article 102 (b) that caps presidential age limit at 75 years of age, from the Constitution. Dr Besigye refused to disembark from his car, forcing police officers led by the Kampala Central Police Station (DPC), Mr Joseph Bakaleke, to tow it away to their station where it was parked. The East African

Tanzania to License Blogs, Websites as Part of New Online Media Regulation
Tanzania has taken online media control up a notch with the introduction of a bill that contains strict regulations for online content producers including social media users and bloggers. The Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2017 recently passed by parliament will be enforced by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) after approval by the information minister. The bill recommends a fine of 5 million Tanzanian Shillings ($2,300), a minimum of 12 months in jail or both for those found guilty of violating the regulations. Africa News

US Lawmakers Balk at Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Nigeria
U.S. lawmakers grilled a top State Department official over arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Turkey and the Philippines in light of human rights and other concerns. Following news that the Trump administration is seeking to ease export rules for American small arms, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Ben Cardin, said it looked like an effort to skirt oversight for gun sales to Turkey and the Philippines and the accompanying controversy. The administration is mulling plans to shift oversight of international non-military firearms sales from the State Department to the Commerce Department. The changes, which can be enacted without congressional approval, are part of a Trump administration overhaul of weapons export policy nearing completion, Reuters reports. “If Commerce is making the decision, this committee loses all oversight — that is human rights, and other considerations are gone if you don’t have congressional review,” said Cardin, of Maryland. He called the move “a direct affront” to congressional oversight and said, “It does look like an end-run around Congress.” Defense News

Nigeria’s Top Muslim Cleric Dies at 79
Nigeria’s top Muslim cleric Sheikh Garba Akinola-Ibrahim died Sunday evening at a government hospital in the commercial city of Lagos, according to a local Islamic official. Akinola-Ibrahim died at age 79 after a protracted illness. He was until his death the chief imam of Lagos’ Muslim community, an office he took on July 30, 2000 after decades in the civil service. “The sheikh died at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital, and will be buried tomorrow [Monday] afternoon, God willing,” Imam Tijani Gbajabiamila, chief of Qur’anic exegesis at the Lagos central mosque, told Anadolu Agency. Akinola-Ibrahim was a major Muslim preacher and a senior member of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), the country’s apex body for the estimated 100 million Muslim population. Anadolu Agency

U.N. Launches New Plan to End Libya’s Post-Revolution Turmoil
The United Nations began a new push on Tuesday to stabilize Libya by getting rival factions to revise the stalled peace plan and set the country on the path to elections. The effort aims to end the turmoil that developed in Libya after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising ended Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule, giving space to Islamist militants and smuggling networks that have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe. Political and military fractures have left the country mired in conflict and the OPEC member’s economy in free-fall. Rival parliaments and governments have vied for power. Reuters

Rescue Ship Says Libyan Coast Guard Shot at and Boarded It, Seeking Migrants
A Libyan coast guard vessel fired shots and boarded a humanitarian ship in the Mediterranean on Tuesday, demanding that the migrants on board be handed over to them, a spokesman for the Mission Lifeline charity said. “The Libyan man said: ‘This is our territory,'” said Axel Steier, a spokesman for the German-based charity that performed its first rescues on Tuesday. “After a while, they fired shots,” he said, probably into the air or sea. No one was wounded. Afterward two Libyans boarded the Lifeline ship to try to persuade them to hand over some 70 migrants they had just taken off a wooden boat in international waters. “We told them we don’t return migrants to Libya. After a while, they gave up,” Steier said. The two men spent about 15 minutes on board, he said. Reuters

Angola’s First New President in 38 Years Vows to Fight Graft 
Angola’s first new president in almost four decades vowed to rebuild an economy devastated by falling oil prices and fight corruption at his inauguration on Tuesday. João Lourenço told thousands of supporters in Luanda he would also tackle gaping inequality in Africa’s second largest oil producer – though analysts have already raised doubts about his ability to make far-reaching change. “No one is so rich and powerful that they cannot be punished and no one is so poor that they cannot be protected,” he said to loud applause. In a 45-minute speech, Lourenço said he would strive to bring in reforms covering gender equality, the freedom of the press, private enterprise and public health. SABC

Additional 140 RDF Peacekeepers Arrive in Central African Republic
Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) has on Tuesday completed the deployment of an additional Motorised Infantry Company of 140 troops to reinforce the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA). The new company under the command of Major Steven Semwaga left Kigali International Airport, on Tuesday morning, according to the Ministry of Defence. The deployment that was concluded today started with airlifting Contingent Owned Equipment on 16 September 2017. New Times

Zimbabwe’s Protesting Pastor Freed by Judge
A Zimbabwean court has ordered the release of an anti-government pastor arrested for circulated videos highlighting the country’s worsening economic problems. Magistrate Elisha Singano Tuesday freed Evan Mawarire saying prosecutors had failed to bring the outspoken pastor before a court within 48 hours as prescribed by the law. Police arrested Mawarire after a church service he presided Sunday. He was charged with subverting a constitutionally elected government. This was after he posted videos that include images of long lines of people waiting for fuel Saturday. In the videos, Mawarire accuses the government of 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe of being insensitive to problems affecting the once-prosperous southern African country. AP

Bond Note Issue Prompts Panic Buying in Zimbabwe
“I can’t take a chance – 2008 is back! These are the last tins of fish inside this shop,” says a mother of two pushing a shopping trolley with at least 80 tins of mackerel fish in a giant supermarket in central Harare. “The shop manager, a friend, phoned me to come and hoard the fish and stock it in my bedroom because by Monday the shelves will be empty,” says Vera [not her real name]. In 2008, inflation in Zimbabwe hit 231-million percent, according to The Guardian, and shop shelves were left bare. Panic buying has returned as prices for many items have rocketed in the last two weeks and people fear shortages. The price of cooking oil has jumped from around $3 per litre to $5 (all prices in this article are US dollars) in just one week. In Harare, fuel stations are running out of petrol. Vera is not alone. Queues packed with frightened consumers could be seen in supermarkets with trolleys piled high with basic supplies, as consumers and black market speculators vied to secure goods. Daily Maverick

Former Ivory Coast President Gbagbo to Remain in Detention for Trial: ICC
The International Criminal Court on Tuesday said judges had ordered former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo to remain in detention during his war crimes trial. Judges said Gbagbo presented a flight risk and has a “network of supporters” that could obstruct or endanger trial proceedings if he were released. Gbagbo’s defence team had requested provisional release but judges said they failed to propose “concrete and solid” conditions that would ensure Gbagbo’s continued presence at the trial. Gbagbo is accused of four counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and other inhumane acts allegedly committed during post-electoral violence in Ivory Coast between 16 December 2010 and 12 April 2011 when Gbagbo refused to accept defeat by rival Alassane Ouattara. Reuters

China’s Vision of Itself as the World’s Peacekeeper Starts in Africa
At the training camp for China’s first official standby peacekeeping police force in Dongying, northeastern China, the recruits are up by 6am. They make their beds, jog around a track clad in their uniforms and blue United Nations helmets, and eat simple canteen meals of mantou buns, vegetables, and meat. Such is the discipline of Chinese peacekeepers, according to a short documentary by China Global Television Network, the international English-language channel of the state-owned China Central Television (CCTV). It’s an image Chinese officials seem eager to project, especially in Africa where more than 2,400 Chinese troops are part of seven UN peacekeeping missions across the continent. (The video was posted on the network’s Africa page.) In the video, music swells as Chinese soldiers run through a field with assault rifles. (One peacekeeper is quick to note that he’s never fired his weapon while on a mission.) Other troops are shown performing roundhouse kicks, dips on parallel bars, and driving in practice convoys. Another soldier says he is there to “fulfill his country’s duty to the rest of the world.” Quartz

Plane Crash That Killed UN Boss ‘May Have Been Caused by Aircraft Attack’
A UN report into the death of its former secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld in a 1961 plane crash in central Africa has found that there is a “significant amount of evidence” that his flight was brought down by another aircraft. The report, delivered to the current secretary general, António Guterres, last month, took into account previously undisclosed information provided by the US, UK, Belgian, Canadian and German governments. Its author, Mohamed Chande Othman, a former Tanzanian chief justice, found that the US and UK governments had intercepted radio traffic in the area at the time and suggested that the 56-year-old mystery could be solved if the contents of those classified recordings were produced. The Guardian

 



Photo: Adam Jones