Africa Media Review for September 5, 2017

Kenya Will Hold Rerun of Presidential Election on October 17
Kenya will hold another presidential election on October 17 after its disputed vote last month was thrown out, the country’s election commission said. This comes after the country’s Supreme Court on Friday invalidated the results of the contentious August 8 presidential election and ordered a new vote within 60 days. President Uhuru Kenyatta won the election over veteran opposition candidate Raila Odinga. But the court upheld a petition by Odinga, who had claimed Kenyatta’s re-election was fraudulent. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission set the date at its 204th plenary meeting, the body said on Twitter. Kenyatta and Odinga, along with their same running mates, will once again compete for the seat. CNN

Kenya’s Odinga Rejects Election Re-Run Date without ‘Guarantees’
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Tuesday his coalition would not participate in the re-run of a presidential election proposed for Oct. 17 unless it is given “legal and constitutional” guarantees. Odinga’s conditions include the removal of some officials at the election board. He wants criminal investigations to be opened against them. “You cannot do a mistake twice and expect to get different results,” Odinga told reporters. Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered on Friday that the Aug. 8 vote be re-run within 60 days, saying President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory by 1.4 million votes was undermined by irregularities in the process. Kenyatta was not accused of any wrongdoing. VOA

Kenyatta and Kenyan Judiciary Trade Accusations as Tensions Build
The judiciary is under the spotlight as Kenya prepares for new elections after the country’s Supreme Court on Friday annulled the August 8 elections on the grounds that they were not run “consistently with the dictates of the constitution.” Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) reported that President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second-term in office in the elections which saw over 14 million Kenyans turn out to vote. However, Judge David Maraga, together with six other judges, ordered the IEBC to conduct fresh polls within 60 days. Not only is the period of less than two months very little time to prepare for fresh elections, but Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga are entrenching their hard-core positions and ramping up the rhetoric which could lead to fresh outbreaks of violence. While Odinga and his supporters hailed the court’s verdict and called for members of the IEBC to be jailed, Kenyatta made what appeared to be veiled threats against the judiciary after the overturning of the “flawed” elections, Al Jazeera reported. African News Agency

Election Rerun in Kenya Raises Fears about Violence and Economic Troubles
While the decision by Kenya’s Supreme Court to annul the results of August’s presidential election was hailed around the world as a step forward for democracy, a new vote will open up the country to economic uncertainty and the renewed possibility of violence. Kenya, with East Africa’s most developed economy and most robust democracy, is often held up as a model in the region, but its elections have resulted in severe ethnic clashes and are a heavy burden on the economy. In parts of the capital, Nairobi, opposition supporters celebrated into the early hours of Saturday, while others wondered if their investments and businesses might be threatened by the stunning development. Citing irregularities in how the election commission tallied and reported the Aug. 8 vote, the Supreme Court on Friday declared the results null and void and said a new election must be held within two months. The Washington Post

Burundi Officials Should Be Tried For “Crimes against Humanity”: UN Commission
Burundians “at the highest level of the state” and in its security services should face trial at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, a UN panel investigating more than two years of human rights abuses in the central African state said today. The three-member Commission of Inquiry said it had “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed and continue to be committed in Burundi since April 2015.” The violent political crisis, sparked when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term in office, has been marked by a heavy-handed crackdown by security forces on street protests. It has all but extinguished hopes that Burundi will embrace a peaceful democratic transition in the wake of a civil war that cost some 300,000 lives between 1993 and 2006. IRIN

Somalia Confirms 20 Militants Killed in Military Base Attack
At least 20 Al-Shabaab militants were killed and several others injured early Sunday when the insurgents raided a military base in the outskirts of Somalia’s coastal city of Kismayo. Ismail Sahardid with Somalia National Army (SNA) confirmed the attack at Buulo Guduud, some 30 kilometers north of Kismayo at dawn which caused casualties on both sides. “Terrorists attacked our base in Buulo Guduud with suicide car bomb attacks, then fighting erupted causing casualties on both sides. We resisted the militants and killed 20 fighters during the operation, we are in control of the base now,” Sahardid said. He did not provide the number of casualties on the SNA side and denied that the militants seized some vehicles. Xinhua

Somali Officials: US Drone Attack Kills Top Militant Recruiter
A U.S. drone strike reportedly has killed a key al-Shabab commander in southern Somalia, officials tell VOA. Local sources said the strike on Friday targeted a vehicle in which several al-Shabab officials were traveling near Kunya Barrow village in the southern Somali region of Lower Shabelle. “I can confirm that the airstrike happened on Friday. It was carried out by a suspected U.S. drone. The strike targeted al-Shabab officials. Our intelligence sources confirm that a top al-Shabab commander in charge of recruiting fighters for the militants was killed in the strike,” said Aden Omar, the district commissioner of Barawe town in the Lower Shabelle region. He identified the dead officer as Abu-Xudeyfi, but local sources put his name as Sheekh Abdirahman Xudeyfi. VOA

Amnesty Says Boko Haram Killings Have Doubled in 5 Months
Nigeria-based Boko Haram extremists have killed more than 380 people in the Lake Chad region since April, a major resurgence of attacks that has doubled the casualties compared to the previous five months, Amnesty International said Tuesday. The spike in attacks by the Islamic extremists is a result of increased use of suicide bombers, often women and girls, who carry out the attacks in highly populated areas in Cameroon’s Far North region and Nigeria’s Borno and Adamawa states, the rights group said. Cameroon has experienced at least one suicide attack per week, it said. “Boko Haram is once again committing war crimes on a huge scale, exemplified by the depravity of forcing young girls to carry explosives with the sole intention of killing as many people as they possibly can,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty’s director for West and Central Africa. “This wave of shocking Boko Haram violence, propelled by a sharp rise in suicide bombings, highlights the urgent need for protection and assistance for millions of civilians in the Lake Chad region.” AP

Peace Corps Evacuates Burkina Faso Volunteers
The Peace Corps has evacuated 124 volunteers from Burkina Faso due to security concerns, the United States embassy in Burkina Faso said. “The Peace Corps has been closely monitoring the safety and security environment in Burkina Faso and will continue to assess the situation,” it said in a statement Sunday. “The Peace Corps looks forward to a time when volunteers can return while underscoring that the safety and security of its volunteers are the agency’s top priority.” The statement didn’t specify a concern, but the evacuation comes following the second major terror attack in less than two years and as fears rise of further violence and kidnappings. An Aug. 13 attack on a popular Turkish restaurant in the capital killed at least 19 people and wounded 21 others. Days later, three soldiers were killed by improvised explosive devices in the restive north where the extremist movement, Ansarul Islam, is targeting security forces and civilians. Local radicalized preacher Ibrahim Malam Dicko began the movement, which has been declared a terrorist group by the government. AP

France FM Visits Libya to Boost Reconciliation Deal
France’s foreign minister is visiting Libya to encourage the implementation of a reconciliation agreement reached by the main Libyan rivals in Paris in July. Jean-Yves Le Drian met on Monday with Fayez Serraj, the prime minister-designate of the U.N.-backed government, in the capital, Tripoli. He is also visiting Misrata and Benghazi, where he will meet with factions opposed to Serraj. In July, Serraj and Gen. Khalifa Hifter, the commander of Libya’s self-styled national army, committed to working toward presidential and parliamentary elections and finding a roadmap to secure the lawless country against terrorism and trafficking. Libya was plunged into chaos after the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. AP

Libyan Forces Attack Islamic State near Former Stronghold
East Libyan forces said they had launched air strikes on Islamic State fighters after the militants made incursions south and east of their former coastal stronghold of Sirte. The jihadist group has grown bolder in recent weeks, setting up temporary checkpoints, attacking local forces, and taking over village mosques to lead prayers during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, Libyan officials say. The increased activity has raised concern that Islamic State could regroup around Sirte, from where it was driven out in December by local forces and a U.S. air campaign. Most militants were killed in the nearly seven-month battle, but an unknown number fled into the desert. Sirte lies at the centre of Libya’s Mediterranean coastline, on the dividing line between regions controlled by rival Libyan factions. Reuters

U.S. Warns South Sudan: Continued Chaos Is Not Acceptable, Aid May Be Pulled
The top U.S. official for humanitarian aid has delivered a stern warning to South Sudan’s president that the Trump administration is reexamining its policy toward one of the world’s poorest and most dangerous countries as the African nation slides into lawlessness. Mark Green, the administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, met Friday with President Salva Kiir. Green said he raised U.S. concerns over the dangers humanitarian aid workers face in delivering food and medicine in the country as well as a pervasive climate of criminal activity by government forces, criminal gangs and opposition forces. Since civil war erupted almost four years ago, a third of South Sudan’s population has become internally displaced or fled the country in Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The Washington Post

South Sudanese President Grants Rebel Leader Amnesty
South Sudan president Salva Kiir has granted amnesty to Thomas Cirilo Swaka, a former military general who quit the Juba government in March to form a rebel movement. The presidential adviser on military affairs, Daniel Awet Akot said it was now up to the Swaka to accept and respond to the pardon. “Cirilo has been granted amnesty by the president and we hope he will respond. The issues he raised will be addressed through the national dialogue”, Akot said on Monday. The aide further was the rebel leader was free to rejoin the country’s ruling party (SPLM) or form his political party as provided for in the constitution to “enhance pluralism and democracy in the country”. Sudan Tribune

Jean Ping and Close Aides Banned from Leaving Gabon
Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping other close aides have been banned from leaving Gabon after calling for a popular uprising to remove Gabon’s president Ali Bongo Ondimba. Earlier in August, Gabonese officials blocked a local TV channel after it aired Jean Ping’s call for a civil protest aimed at ensuring that Ali Bongo leaves power. Grilled on the decision to stop Jean Ping and his close aides from leaving the country, Gabon’s interior minister, Noel Matha said the ban is in response to the opposition leader’s statements calling for a rebellion and civil war. Jean Ping’s camp believes this is an infringement on civil liberties which does not surprise the opposition in anyway. The top opposition leader declared himself winner of last year’s presidential election after accusing Ali Bongo of using fraud and force to cling to power. Africa News

Democratic Republic of Congo Army General Profits from Illegally Mining Conflict Gold
As gold continues to fuel the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN report says Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba with a history of serious human rights abuses is illegally running a gold mining operation. The northeastern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is home to some of Africa’s richest goldfields. From 1998 to 2003, the mineral helped fuel the deadliest conflict in the history of the continent. Today, armed groups, from government forces to rebel militia, continue to benefit from illicit trade in gold, finds a new United Nations report. Two of the experts working on the UN report were kidnapped and killed in March 2017 while carrying out field work in DRC, highlighting the widespread crisis facing the country. Deutsche Welle

Fourth Aid Group Stops Migrant Rescue Missions in Mediterranean
The charity MOAS, which has rescued some 40,000 migrants over the past three years, is to end its current operations off the Libyan coast. Instead it will take aid to the Rohingya who have fled violence in Myanmar. The Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) on Monday cited an “increasingly complex context” for its decision to suspend operations to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean. MOAS criticized the EU’s efforts to stem the latest wave of migrants plying the main route from Libya to Italy or Spain, amid attempts by Brussels to force Libya to take refugees back and hold them in processing centers. Deutsche Welle

English-Speaking Students Do Not Return to School in Cameroon
Millions of school children have failed to show up for the start of the school year in Cameroon’s English speaking regions, even after the government freed most of the jailed leaders of anglophone protests. A teacher at Ntamulung bilingual high school in Bamenda, Cameroon, is teaching 20 children who have shown up on day one of the school year. At least 70 were expected in the classroom. Schools have been closed in the English-speaking northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon since November last year when lawyers and teachers called for a strike to stop what they described as the overbearing influence of French. After strike leaders were arrested, pressure groups called for their immediate and unconditional release before resuming classes. Last week, 55 of the 75 anglophone protesters were released and their charges in a military tribunal dropped. VOA

Egypt Finalizes Deal with Russia for First Nuclear Plant
Russian media say Egypt has finalized a deal to build a nuclear power plant with funding from Moscow after nearly two years of negotiations. The reports Monday came after Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in China, where they were attending a summit. The nuclear plant will be built in Dabaa, about 80 miles northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast. Egypt’s presidency says el-Sissi has invited Putin to Egypt to mark the start of construction. In 2015, Egypt signed an agreement with Russia to build a four-reactor power plant. It will receive a $25 billion Russian loan to cover 85 percent of the plant, with a capacity of 4,800 MW. AP

Floods in Africa in August Killed 25 Times More People Than Hurricane Harvey Did
The rainy season is usually welcomed in parts of Africa as a timely break from the heat of the dry season. But so far, in 2017, the rains have given way to flood disasters which have led to a death toll numbering in hundreds. Like severe floods in southern Asia, the disasters in Africa have been largely under-reported compared to similar events in Houston where Hurricane Harvey, a once in a “500-year storm” has wreaked havoc. But while the devastation in Houston could have hardly been avoided, many of the recent flood disasters in Africa have been exacerbated by years of poorly planned drainage systems. In another contrast, while rescue and relief operations in Houston have successfully saved countless lives and helped survivors, the same can’t be said in parts of Africa that have been badly flooded, worsening the death toll. Across Texas, 50 people have been reported dead due to the tropical storm but across Africa, intense rains and mudslides killed at least 1,240 people in August. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones