Africa Media Review for September 7, 2016

Pressure Mounts on Gabon’s President-elect
Following the August 27 election in Gabon, former colonial power France has called for a vote recount, as President-elect Ali Bongo’s victory is based on an extremely thin majority. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke to both Bongo and his main rival Jean Ping at the weekend and “deplored the loss of life”, a UN statement said, adding that Ban “called for an immediate end to all acts of violence.” As a result of the post-election violence which by Tuesday had reportedly claimed between three and seven lives, the African Union is ready to dispatch a high-level delegation, including heads of state, to the capital Libreville to help calm the situation, AU chairman and president of Chad, Idriss Deby, said. Last week, France, the European Union and the United States called on Gabon’s electoral commission to publish detailed results from each invididual polling station. Late Monday, Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga, who doubles as a deputy prime minister, resigned. According to the AFP news agency, Moundounga also demanded “a recount of the votes, polling station by polling station, and registry by registry.” Deutsche Welle

Gabon: EU Monitor Flags ‘Clear Anomaly’ in Vote Results
A European Union mission, which observed Gabon’s presidential poll, has raised questions over a disputed election result from a southeastern province, where President Ali Bongo won 95.46 percent of votes cast. “An analysis of the number of non-voters as well as blank and disqualified votes reveals a clear anomaly in the final results in Haut-Ogooue,” Mariya Gabriel, the head of the EU observing mission in Gabon, said in a statement on Tuesday. “The integrity of the provisional results in this province is consequently compromised.” Bongo, whose family has ruled Gabon for nearly half a century, was declared the winner of the August 27 election by a slender margin of less than 6,000 votes over his rival, Jean Ping. The opposition leader, however, has called the result fraudulent and demanded a recount. Al Jazeera

Gabon Election: Ali Bongo Criticises EU over Vote ‘Anomalies’
Gabon President Ali Bongo has accused international observers who highlighted anomalies in the country’s contested presidential election of bias. Mr Bongo criticised the European Union mission observing Gabon’s election after questions were raised over his narrow victory. He also accused opposition leader Jean Ping of a “massive fraud”. “If we want to address the anomalies, we must be clear, balanced and address any anomalies,” he said.  BBC

Chad’s President Set to Mediate in Disputed Gabon Election
An African strongman accused of rigging elections in his own country is preparing to mediate between the two sides contesting the result of last week’s poll in Gabon. Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, who has ruled his country for 26 years, is expected to lead an African Union delegation that is preparing to go to Libreville to try to resolve the crisis. Both sides claimed victory, and post-election clashes between protesters and Gabon’s security forces have left up to 100 people dead, according to the opposition. Hundreds of people been have arrested, the national parliament was torched and the opposition headquarters stormed. The Guardian

50 to 100 Dead in Post-vote Violence, Gabon Opposition Says
Postelection violence in Gabon has killed between 50 and 100 people, the opposition presidential candidate said on Tuesday, a toll much higher than the government’s count of three in days of violent demonstrations against the president’s re-election. Jean Ping has declared he is the rightful winner of the August 27 vote, though election commission results showed President Ali Bongo Ondimba won by 1.57 percentage points. Clashes quickly broke out in this oil-rich Central African country after the results were announced last week. It is difficult to independently verify reports of deaths, as the internet has been shut off since August 31. International pressure is growing on Gabon’s government to show transparency in the vote results, with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday telling RTL radio that “common sense would command a recount of the ballots.” News 24

Gabon Opposition Bastion Sees Spike in Religious Violence
At nightfall, frightened Muslim youths armed with sticks stand guard in the Gabonese town of Bitam, after a wave of post-election violence saw their community mosque and businesses targeted by protesters who accuse them of supporting President Ali Bongo. Since Bongo claimed victory last week in a disputed election by a wafer-thin margin of less than 6 000 votes, many angry residents of the opposition bastion of Bitam in northern Gabon joined the riots that erupted nationwide. Here, they hurled stones and used Molotov cocktails to set fire to businesses owned by the minority Hausa community – an umbrella term used to describe the Muslim descendants of immigrant traders who moved to Gabon from neighbouring nations in the early 20th century. Among the targets in the town, which is located near the Cameroon border, were the main food storehouse and a local food shop. Barring a few surviving columns, both have been reduced to ashes. News 24

Families Seek Relatives Missing in Gabon’s Post-electoral Crisis
With hundreds detained and a disputed number of people killed in Gabon’s violent post-electoral crisis, several families in the Central African nation are on a desperate hunt for information on their missing loved ones. On Wednesday evening, shortly after the final results of Gabon’s fraught presidential elections were released, Bruna had a brief phone conversation with her sister, Carena, that left her feeling very alarmed. Carena was at the campaign headquarters of Jean Ping – the opposition candidate who has rejected the official election results – in the Gabonese capital of Libreville. Like many Ping supporters that fateful evening, Carena and her mother, Henriette, had gathered outside their candidate’s campaign office to hear the much-anticipated poll results. France 24

Gabon: Jean Ping and the Boy Who Didn’t Cry Wolf
Opposition leader Jean Ping is incensed that Gabon’s president stole the recent election. He’s right to be. But maybe Ping should have harnessed this fury earlier, when he was in a position to do something about it. Instead, as top boss of the African Union, he helped to legitimise dodgy polls and obscure accountability. Now he, and Gabon, are paying the price. Daily Maverick

Some South Sudanese Want Restrictions on Troop Deployment
While most South Sudanese lawmakers say they welcome the government’s decision to accept the deployment of a regional protection force, some say the government has the right to place conditions on that deployment, including the number of troops, their types of weapons and which countries they should come from. After initially opposing the troop deployment, the government caved to international pressure following a visit from U.N. Security Council members last weekend, saying it no longer opposed a regional protection force. But on Tuesday, that position shifted again. Member of Parliament Zachariah Matur, who represents Rumbek in Western Lakes State, said the government must have a say in choosing which troops are deployed to South Sudan. VOA

EU Denies Funding Sudanese Militia to Combat Illegal Migration
The European Union (EU) has denied providing any support to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) acknowledging support for Sudan’s efforts to combat illegal migration and human trafficking. The RSF, which is widely known as the Janjaweed militias, were originally mobilized by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003. The militia was reactivated and restructured again in August 2013 under the command of NISS to fight the alliance of rebel groups from Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states following joint attacks in North and South Kordofan in April 2013. Sudan Tribune

Ugandan Child Soldiers: Rebuilding the Broken
When former child soldiers from northern Uganda returned home, they faced aggressive reluctance. They only thing they knew was how to murder. They had no chance in civil life. Anwar Richard Ricky wants to change that. Deutsche Welle

Uganda: MPs Now to Get U.S.$60 000 Each for New Cars
Each Member of Parliament will bag Shs200m instead of Shs150m as had earlier been budgeted by the Parliamentary Commission, it has emerged A Parliament official privy to the decisions by the Parliament Commission told Daily Monitor that the deal to increase the MPs’ vehicle money by Shs50 million was reached at during a meeting with the President about a fortnight ago The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said during the meeting, the Commission is said to have tabled the proposal seeking for more money. The source also said the idea to ask the President for the extra Shs50m was sold to the Parliamentary Commission by new commissioner, Mr Peter Ogwang, who, the source said, reasoned that “the President will allow our request.”  The Monitor on allAfrica

Zimbabwe Follows Robert Mugabe’s Health by Following His Plane
It is an indirect clue at best, but it is often all they can get: Many Zimbabweans have taken to divining the state of their increasingly frail 92-year-old leader’s health from the movements of his presidential plane. On Saturday morning, anyone with a smartphone could see that Air Zimbabwe Flight 1, as the plane is known, was hugging Africa’s eastern coast on its way home to Harare, the capital, after four days in Dubai. The flight designation, UM1, meant that President Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, was on board. Mr. Mugabe’s trip to the Middle East had been made suddenly, with no explanation from the secretive Zimbabwean government, fueling rumors that the president was deathly ill and desperately seeking medical treatment overseas. The New York Times

Sharp Rise in Number of Mozambicans Taking Refuge in Zimbabwe
At least 2 600 people have fled unrest in Mozambique and are now living in makeshift camps in Chipinge district of south-eastern Zimbabwe where food is running short, a newspaper reports. The latest figure is a sharp increase on the early August tally of 712 Mozambicans who are reported to have fled into Zimbabwe in recent months to escape alleged attacks by opposition Renamo fighters. According to the Manica Post newspaper, conditions are often grim for those arriving in Chipinge, with water and food shortages at a camp in Mutoki Village. There are apparently no toilets at this camp. News 24

Tunisian PM: Fighting Corruption is More Difficult Than Combating Terrorism
Tunisian Prime Minister Yousuf Shahed said on Monday that fighting corruption in the country is much more difficult than combating terrorism. Shahed, who became Tunisia’s new prime minister in early August, said “the war on corruption and the war on terrorism are two sides of the same coin,” during the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network (ACINET) meeting. “Fighting corruption through controlled mechanisms, namely accountability, is very difficult,” Shahed, who is considered to be the youngest Tunisian premier since the country’s independence in 1956, said. Al Arabiya

Ghana’s Mountain of Debt Questioned by IMF Experts
Continuing doubts about Ghana’s rising debts and the management of its central bank could delay the release of some $300m in loans, according to a source close to talks last week between the International Monetary Fund and officials in the finance ministry in Accra. However Finance Minister Seth Terkper was confident that the IMF loan would go ahead, in an interview with The Africa Report in Accra on 30 August, and that the Washington-based institution’s concerns were mainly about policy actions that needed to be taken in the next stage of the process. Terkper insisted the government had controlled spending rigidly ahead of the election as required by the Fund. The Africa Report

Kilinto Fire: Ethiopian Government Accused of Gunning Down Political Prisoners as They Flee Burning Jail
Rights groups have raised serious concerns over the fate of political prisoners held at a facility on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa after 23 inmates died in a huge fire at the high-security complex. While the cause of the blaze remains unknown, the Ethiopian government has admitted at least two of the prisoners were gunned down by the authorities as they fled the burning building. The Kilinto prison has become notorious as a holding facility for jailed members of the opposition, including members of the ethnic minority Oromo people. And the Oromo Federalist Congress, a key opposition party, said there were fears for the lives of its “entire leadership”, which it said was being detained at Kilinto at the time. The Independent

Somalia President Signs Political Parties Bill Into Law
Somalia has legitimised the operations of political parties for the first time in nearly five decades, ahead of this month’s election. All politicians are now required to register with the political parties by October 2018 in readiness for competitive universal suffrage in 2020, when all citizens will have the right to vote on the basis of one person one vote. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Monday September 5, signed into law the Political Parties Bill in line with the resolution by the National Leadership Forum (NLF) issued last month. All political parties are now required to have branches across the country and pay $1,000 registration fee. The East African

Zulu King Tells Zuma to Stand Aside and Let Him Rule South Africa
South Africa’s influential Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, has suggested that President Jacob Zuma step aside given the African National Congress’s recent travails and that he take up the reins of national power instead. The king, the traditional head of South Africa’s largest ethnic group, lamented that under Mr Zuma’s leadership “the country is gone”, citing the ruling party’s losses in recent local elections. The August vote saw the ANC lose control of the country’s capital Pretoria, along with Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth to the opposition Democratic Alliance, a party previously dogged by claims that its senior leadership were “too white”. He denounced the current crop of leaders as “failures” who were “setting a bad example” during an address to Zulu maidens taking part in the annual Reed Dance, which sees them parade bare-breasted before the king. The Telegraph

South African Economy Rebounds as Political Risks Loom: Chart
South Africa’s economy probably rebounded, growing at the fastest pace since 2014 in the three months through June, according to a Bloomberg survey. The outlook for the rest of the year may be clouded by political turmoil after reports that Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan may be arrested and the news that some money managers have stopped lending to certain state-owned companies. The statistics office is scheduled to release gross domestic product data at 11:30 a.m. in Pretoria on Tuesday. Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal. Bloomberg

App Launches in Egypt to Combat Forced Disappearances
For Egyptians, the risk of being snatched from the street and forcibly disappeared by the country’s security forces has never been greater. In the first eight months of 2015, 1,250 people disappeared, according to a report by the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). In response, the organisation has created I Protect, an app that allows Android phone users to key in a code when they are being detained, which sends three text messages to contacts and an email containing the location of their arrest to the ECRF. The group hopes the messages will aid a quick reaction during the first 24 hours of an arrest, key to stopping people being transferred from a police station to a larger facility, making them harder to find. The Guardian

Observers: Africa’s Moment of Truth at G-20 Fell Short of Expectations
With an aim of becoming a leader of emerging economies, China made sure that the voice of Africa was heard at the Group of 20 Nations leaders’ summit in Hangzhou this year. In its communique concluded on late Monday, the G-20 launched an initiative on supporting industrialization in Africa to strengthen the continent’s inclusive growth and sustainable development potential. But analysts are skeptical the group – with widely diverse interests on the continent – can put words into action without a clear plan. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones