Africa Media Review for September 6, 2017

Three Takeaways from the Kenya Supreme Court Ruling
The decision by the Court to nullify the results of the presidential election reflects the importance of independent institutions to legitimacy and stability in Africa. The landmark decision is clearly momentous for Kenya. However, the Supreme Court’s action has broader implications for democratic development in Africa, as well. Here are three overarching takeaways. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Kenya Election Ruling Wins Africans’ Admiration
The Kenyan Supreme Court’s decision to scrap last month’s presidential election, has been held up as an example of judicial independence on a continent where judges are often seen as corrupt. Opposion parties across Africa hope the shock overturn will have ripple effects in their own countries. The court found that the electoral commission “committed irregularities in the transmission of results.” That was enough to convince a majority in Chief Justice David Maraga’s panel to annul the results of the 8 August election. “The greatness of a nation lies in its fidelity to its constitution and a strict adherence to the rule of law,” Justice Maraga declared on 1 September when he delivered his shock verdict. RFI

Kenyan Opposition Wants Later Date for New Presidential Vote
After Kenya’s Supreme Court annulled last month’s presidential election results, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced late Monday the new election will be held October 17. But opposition leader Raila Odinga and his coalition said Tuesday they prefer October 24 or 31, arguing there must be sufficient time to work out issues with the IEBC that necessitated the need for a new election in the first place. “We are saying that we are not ready to participate in elections on the 17th of October without legal and constitutional guarantees because you cannot do a mistake twice and expect to get different results,” said Odinga. Odinga said “a number” of electoral commissioners should be removed and/or prosecuted instead of being permitted to conduct another round of elections. VOA

Kenya Poll Agency CEO Replaced
The Chief Executive of Kenya’s electoral agency, Mr Ezra Chiloba, has been replaced. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson, Mr Wafula Chebukati, Tuesday announced a new six-man team that will manage the October 17 fresh presidential election. In the place of Mr Chiloba, will be the soft-spoken Marjan Hussein Marjan, who was his deputy and managed support structures in the commission. “In my capacity as the National Returning Officer for the presidential election and in accordance with Section 38 of the Elections Act (2011), I have hereby appointed the following staff members to serve in a project team for purposes of the presidential election to be held on 17th October 2017,” Mr Chebukati said. Africa Review

Lesotho Army Chief Khoantle Motsomotso Shot Dead
The head of Lesotho’s army, Lt Gen Khoantle Motsomotso, and two other senior officers have been killed in a shootout at a barracks in the capital, Maseru. Eyewitnesses said the officers burst into the army chief’s office and shot him before being killed by guards. Prime Minister Thomas Thabane has said the situation is now under control and has urged people to remain calm. Lesotho has had periods of instability marked by coups or attempted coups. The situation in Maseru has been described as tense with the military and police patrolling the streets. At a press conference, Mr Thabane said that it was with sadness that he was informing the nation about the “unfortunate and untimely” death of Gen Motsomotso and the two others. BBC

Lesotho: Political Tensions Run High Following Army Shootings
The deaths of Lesotho Defence Force commander, Lt-General Khoantile Motsomotso, Special Forces commander Lt-Colonel Tefo Hashatsi and Lt-Colonel Bulane Sechele are the latest chapter in a political and military vendetta between Prime Minister Tom Thabane and his rivals that has destabilised Lesotho for several years, according to sources. Thabane himself confirmed the “unfortunate and untimely death and a totally illegal one” of the three officers, which he said had happened around 09:00 on Tuesday. He did not elaborate on the causes of the shoot-out but said the army remained “100 percent” in control of the acting army commander, Major-General Lineo Poopa. Sources have expressed concern that the killings could spark wider conflict between members of the two factions represented by the killed officers and called for urgent intervention by regional governments through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which has been supervising attempts to stabilise Lesotho for the past three years. Daily Maverick

South Sudan Rejects Unilateral Renewal of UNMISS Mandate
South Sudan said Tuesday it will not accept any unilateral decision to renew the mandate of the United Nations in South Sudan without seeking her consent and approval. Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomuro told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the government and the people of South Sudan want to be working in partnership with the United Nations as a member state. “The United Nations and the government of the republic and the people needs be working together as partners. Whatever is to be done on behalf of the people and the government needs to be subject to consultations and discussions before taking actions. So as the government we have been getting genuine concerns from the people about the mandate of UNMISS (United Nations Mission in South Sudan) is renewed without sufficient consultations and discussion, which is a right way,” said Lomuro. Sudan Tribune

Imposing Sanctions on Mali, Security Council Targets Those Undermining Peace Process
The Security Council today established a sanctions regime on Mali, introducing a travel ban and assets freeze that will apply to individuals and entities engaged in actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the conflict-torn African country. In the resolution, adopted unanimously, the 15-member body decided to set up a Sanctions Committee, consisting of all the members of the Council, and requested the Secretary-General to create, for an initial period of 13 months, a panel of up to five experts to support the Committee’s work. The 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali included language inviting the Security Council to adopt measures against those undermining the implementation of the Agreement and the pursuit of its objectives. UN

2 UN Peacekeepers Killed in Mali When Convoy Hits Explosives
The United Nations mission in Mali says two peacekeepers have been killed and two others seriously injured when a convoy hit a mine in the northern Kidal region. The mission says in a statement that the two injured peacekeepers were immediately evacuated Tuesday after their vehicles hit the explosives about 15 kilometers (9 miles) outside of Aguelhok. A U.N. official says the peacekeepers were Chadian. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press on the matter. The U.N. condemned the attack and others by Islamic extremists. The peacekeeping mission in Mali is the deadliest of the U.N.’s 16 global peacekeeping operations. AP

France to Arm Military Surveillance Drones
France is set to arm drones that are currently used exclusively for surveillance and intelligence, a first for the French military, the defense minister said Tuesday. Florence Parly said the decision will initially apply only to the six unarmed Reaper surveillance drones that France bought from the United States. Most of them, based in Africa’s Sahel region, are involved in the fight against Islamic extremists. Parly did not specify a time frame for when they would be armed or what kind of weapons would be deployed. The drones wouldn’t become “killer robots,” Parly said, stressing that strikes would be governed by strict national and international rules relating to the use of force. Los Angeles Times

4 Beheaded in Kenya in Suspected Al-Shabab Attack: Police
A Kenyan police official says at least four people have been beheaded by suspected al-Shabab extremists based in neighboring Somalia. Larry Kieng, the police chief in charge of Kenya’s coastal region, says the attack took place Wednesday morning in the Bobo area of Hindi village in Lamu County. The attack brings the number of people reported beheaded by al-Shabab extremists in Lamu County in the past three months to 16. Beheadings by al-Shabab have been rare in Kenya but are not uncommon in Somalia, where the extremists use them to terrorize local populations. AP

Internet Clampdown amid Planned Anti-Govt Protests by Togo Opposition
Togolese opposition coalition on Tuesday wrapped up plans for an anti-government protest today after an earlier one was postponed. They are basically calling for wide ranging political reforms including he reinstatement of term limits. Activists in the small West African nation have, however, reported of a clampdown on internet speed and social media, a move seen as a means of thwarting the protests. “Whatsapp and Facebook are no longer going trough in Togo. Internet speed has also decreased considerably ahead of tomorrow’s protest,” one activist, Farida Nabourema said in a tweet. Africa News

Burundi and HCR Sign Repatriation Agreement
Nearly 12,000 Burundian refugees based in three camps in Tanzania, who are willing to return to Burundi, would have been repatriated by the end of June in 2017. This has been announced on Tuesday, by the Burundian Home Affairs Minister, Pascal Barandagiye, after having signed the repatriation convention with the representatives of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Burundi. The agreement comes after hundreds of refugees based in the camp of Nduta in Tanzania, two days ago, had demonstrated to ask for voluntary repatriation. The Minister of Home Affairs told reporters that over 6,800 refugees would have returned in the country in less than two months. SABC

Behind the Scenes, Zimbabwe Politicians Plot Post-Mugabe Reforms
In January, a photograph appeared in Zimbabwe’s media showing Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa enjoying drinks with a friend. In his hand was a large novelty mug emblazoned with the words: “I‘M THE BOSS.” To supporters of President Robert Mugabe, the inscription bordered on treason. They suspected that Mnangagwa, nicknamed The Crocodile, already saw himself in the shoes of Mugabe, 93 years old, increasingly frail and the only leader the southern African nation has known since it gained independence from Britain in 1980. Those Mugabe supporters are not alone. According to politicians, diplomats and a trove of hundreds of documents from inside Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organization (CIO) reviewed by Reuters, Mnangagwa and other political players have been positioning themselves for the day Mugabe either steps down or dies. Reuters

Egypt to Host War Games with US after 8-Year Hiatus 
Egypt will host war games with U.S. troops this month for the first time in eight years, but the American contingent will be much smaller than in previous exercises, officials said Tuesday. Army Spokesman Col. Tamer el-Rifai said the 10-day military exercises, known as “Bright Star,” would begin Sept. 10 and include anti-terrorism training. “Operation Bright Star is among the most important joint American-Egyptian exercises as they reflect the depth of relations,” el-Rifai said in the statement. He gave no further details. The bi-annual exercises date back to 1981, but the Obama administration postponed them in 2011, following the uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak, and scrapped them in 2013, after Egyptian security forces killed hundreds of protesters while breaking up a mass sit-in. AP

Egypt, Italy Reestablish Diplomatic Ties after Tension over Student’s Murder
Egypt and Italy have decided to restore diplomatic ties after over a year since the murder of 28-year-old Italian graduate student Giulio Regeni in Egyptian capital Cairo. Italian and Egyptian ambassadors in both countries will resume work on September 14 after they were withdrawn in April 2016, Egyptian news agency MENA reports. Italian foreign minister Angelino Alfano announced on Monday the decision to reinstate Ambassador Giampaolo Cantini to Cairo. The Italian news agency ANSA quoted the minister as saying the reinstatement is intended to find the truth behind the killing of the student. Africa News

A Major UK PR Firm Was Expelled from a Trade Body For “Inciting Racial Hatred” in South Africa
One of the UK’s largest public relations firms has been kicked out of the country’s industry body after it managed a campaign to stoke racial tension in South Africa. Bell Pottinger became a pariah when the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) announced its expulsion from the industry regulator on Sept. 4. The firm was sanctioned last week and given a week to appeal, which failed to change the final decision. The firm was found to have breached the industry’s ethical standards when it ran a campaign that shifted focus on racial inequality in South Africa, in order to distract from mounting corruption allegations leveled against president Jacob Zuma and the wealthy Gupta family. Bell Pottinger may not re-apply for membership for five years, the harshest sentence ever imposed, said the association. Hours before the announcement, Bell Pottinger’s chief executive James Henderson stepped down. Quartz

Nigeria, South Africa Say They Are out of Recession
Two of Africa’s leading economies said Tuesday they have emerged from recession. South Africa and Nigeria released figures showing economic growth in the second quarter of this year. South Africa’s government said the gross domestic product grew by 2.5 percent in the quarter, helped by the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors. The country announced in June it had entered recession. Nigeria’s government said its GDP grew by .55 percent in the quarter, aided by growing oil production. The West African power has struggled to diversify its economy beyond oil and has suffered from militant attacks on oil facilities in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Nigeria had been in recession since last year, with five quarters of negative growth. AP



Photo: Adam Jones