Africa Media Review for September 8, 2016

Gabon’s Bongo Shrugs Off Calls for Vote Recount
Gabon’s re-elected President Ali Bongo shrugged off international calls for a recount of last week’s disputed vote, saying it was a matter for the constitutional court to decide. Opposition leader Jean Ping says the election was a sham, and the European Union has questioned the validity of the results. France, the former colonial ruler once close to Bongo’s father and predecessor, supports the idea of a recount. The poll and its violent aftermath has brought unwanted international attention to the central African oil producer, which counts Total and Royal Dutch Shell PLC among foreign investors, bringing petrodollars that have flowed mostly to the elite. Reuters

Gabon’s President Accuses Challenger of Fraud, Power Grab
Gabon’s president on Wednesday tried to deflect European Union observers’ findings of a voting anomaly in his stronghold province that pushed him over the edge to win re-election, accusing his lead opponent of ballot fraud and a plot to seize power. This oil-rich Central African country has been tense since electoral commission results announced last week showed President Ali Bongo Ondimba beat challenger Jean Ping by 1.57 percentage points. Ping has said 50 to 100 people were killed in protests that followed; the government said just three died. The government says more than 1,200 have been detained. The opposition party must legally file any complaints by Thursday, eight days after the announcement of the results. VOA

Subcommittee Hearing: The Growing Crisis in South Sudan [Video]
Chairman Smith on the hearing: “Accountability for the violence across South Sudan must be established. All victims of violence deserve protection and assistance. This hearing will reexamine the U.S.-South Sudan relationship and consider steps to more effectively end the conflict that has cost so many lives and created so many refugees.” United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Are South Sudanese Forces Deliberately Targeting Americans? Is the UN next?
Colum Lynch has an explosive scoop in Foreign Policy reporting an incident in July in which a convoy of American diplomats was fired upon by South Sudanese government forces. The diplomats were traveling in armored cars, and when they passed the presidential palace they were met with a barrage of gunfire. Anxious that Juba was set to explode, Molly Phee, the U.S. ambassador to South Sudan, phoned [her deputy James Donegan] and six other American diplomats at the restaurant and ordered them to cut short a farewell dinner for a colleague over beer and Indian food. The Americans’ two armored SUVs were passing by the palace when more than half a dozen presidential guards stationed at a checkpoint pulled them to the side of the road. Brandishing AK-47 assault rifles, they yelled at the Americans in a mix of Arabic and Dinka, South Sudan’s main indigenous language. At one point, the soldiers tried to force one of the car doors open, prompting the South Sudanese driver in the lead vehicle to floor it. UN Dispatch

This Town in South Sudan Has No Name. It Was Never Supposed to Exist. Now 21,000 People Live There
[…] It is a displaced persons camp in the South Sudanese capital of Juba that sprang up when ethnic fighting in the world’s newest nation broke out in December 2013. It’s known as U.N. House Compound or PoC 2 and PoC 3 in U.N. bureaucratese. It is home to 21,000 people, and the buzzing commerce, schools and community workshops send out tendrils of hope. The place exudes heroic persistence. In a shed, women sing and take part in a workshop, before applauding each other and breaking into laughter. But there’s no escaping the adversity that threatens the optimism: A fence guards the perimeter, no-one feels safe enough to leave, and war threatens to return. After South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan, two rival leaders competed for power and the young country spiraled into civil war. LA Times

Sudan to Declare ‘End to Darfur Conflict’
President Omar al-Bashir was to make the declaration at a ceremony in the North Darfur state capital El Fasher to be attended by Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Chadian President Idriss Deby. Qatar has hosted successive rounds of peace talks between the Arab-dominated Khartoum government and the ethnic minority rebels who took up arms in 2003. Talks in the Qatari capital Doha in 2011 led to a peace deal with one small rebel faction — the Liberation and Justice Movement — and Wednesday’s ceremony was to mark its implementation. Times Live

Al-Bashir Announces Release of Child Soldiers, Vows to Consider Release of POWs
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on Wednesday announced the release of child soldiers from rebel groups and promised to consider the release of all Prisoners of War (POWs). An unofficial estimate by the national dialogue mechanism known as 7+7 has put the number of convicts from the armed movements to 93 convict as well as hundreds of POWs including 340 fighters from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) who were captured during the Gouz Dango battle in South Darfur in April 2014. The Sudanese army has been fighting Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. Sudan Tribune

The Fght to Unseat One of Africa’s Longest Ruling Dictators is Heating Up
For many in Zimbabwe, enough is enough. The words are spelled out in anti-government graffiti in the capital, Harare, one of several new declarations of defiance that authorities have trouble scrubbing away. Over the weekend, President Robert Mugabe also declared “enough is enough” of the growing protests that reflect nationwide anger over a plummeting economy and alleged state corruption. Protesters have clashed with police wielding tear gas, water cannons and batons. Hundreds have been arrested. Both sides of the political divide are increasingly fed up, an ominous sign in this country whose 92-year-old leader is showing signs of advanced age but makes no move of wanting to quit. Business Insider

Zimbabwe Court Overturns Ban on Harare Protests
Zimbabwe’s High Court has overturned a two-week ban on protests in the capital following a legal challenge from political activists. Police banned rallies in Harare and the surrounding district on Thursday, after several violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in recent weeks. But Judge Priscilla Chigumba said on Wednesday that the official police note issued last week was “invalid” and curtailed citizens’ rights. “The court has said the ban was unlawful,” lawyer Tendai Biti, a former finance minister who represented the activists, told journalists following the verdict. Biti also said that the court had delivered “a brave judgement that asserts the independence” of the judiciary. Al Jazeera

Mugabe’s Zanu-PF ‘Blocking Food Aid’ Amid Zimbabwe Drought
Zimbabwe’s ruling party has been accused of deliberately withholding aid from opposition supporters in areas facing starvation because of drought. The country’s human rights commission said opponents of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party had been told they would never get any food aid. The government has not yet commented. Mr Mugabe declared a state of disaster in February, with the government estimating that four million people would need food aid by January 2017. BBC

 The World Bank’s Plan to Bail out Mugabe’s Government
The World Bank is working on an extensive bailout package for Zimbabwe, which could see the state receive a cash injection of up to $400-million beginning in 2017, according to leaked documents. The documents have been reported in Zimbabwean media, and were received independently by the Daily Maverick. This news could provide some respite for Mugabe’s under-fire government, which is facing an unprecedented level of popular protest. This unrest has been exacerbated by the country’s perilous economic situation, which has all but emptied government coffers. Civil servants, police and military have all been paid late, while the government has imposed new restrictions on foreign exchange and imports in a bid to keep cash in the economy. Daily Maverick

AU Needs More Funding for Peace Support Operations
The African Union (AU) finds itself in a “highly unsustainable and precarious situation” as regards financing of its peacekeeping and peace support operations on the continent. According to a report released this month “the onerous nature” of its seven current peace support operations means the continental body has to rely on contributions from troop contributing countries and external partners to implement most peace support operations and, with the exception of AMISOM, has often had to transfer responsibility for its missions to the United Nations “typically within 12 to 26 months”. The report states the total cost of current operations is estimated at US$1,2 billion for the 2016 year. “AMISOM, with an approved strength of 22 126 uniformed and 114 civilian personnel, accounts for an estimated US$900 a year. DefenceWeb

Nigerian Army Says Arrests Avengers Leader, other Militants
Nigeria’s military said on Wednesday it had arrested a suspected leader of the Niger Delta Avengers militant group and other men accused of attacking oil and gas infrastructure. Soldiers, backed up by the air force and security officers, detained Isaac Romeo with two other men over the weekend in Calabar, the capital of Cross River state in the Delta region, the military said. Authorities picked up a fourth man on Tuesday in Edo state, north of Delta state. He is thought to be responsible for an attack on a pipeline operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) and Nigerian energy company Shoreline last month, the military added. Reuters

Rival Boko Haram Groups Clash in Nigeria: Sources
In-fighting has broken out in Boko Haram after the Islamic State group announced a new leader of its Nigerian affiliate, according to reports in the country’s remote northeast. IS said last month that Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the son of Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf, had replaced Abubakar Shekau at the head of the designated terrorist organisation. But Shekau then insisted he was still in charge of the Islamist group, whose insurgency has killed at least 20 000 people since 2009 and forced more than 2.6 million from their homes. Sources in northeast Nigeria now say there have been deadly skirmishes between the two factions, even as Nigeria’s military seeks to finally rout the rebels in a sustained counter-offensive. News 24

#BringBackOurGirls Vows to Continue Rally Despite Police Ban
The #BringBackOurGirls group on Wednesday said it would defy the ban on public protests by the Nigeria Police Force and carry on with its rally. The group insists that the police have no power under the law to ban rallies. #BringBackOurGirls has since 2014 been campaigning for the release of over 200 schoolgirls abducted by the extremist group, Boko Haram, from Government Secondary School, Chibok, in April that year. The new round of protest march by the group began August 23 after Boko Haram released a video indicating the girls were alive. After the release of the video, the group said it would march to the presidential villa every 72 hours, until the government makes clear the steps it was taking to recover the girls from the terrorists. On Monday, the police announced the ban on public rallies and tried to stop the group from marching to the presidential villa on Tuesday. Premium Times

Zuma Gov’t Calls for Calm as Fresh Violence Erupts in Colleges over Fee Rise
The South African government on Wednesday called for calm as fresh violence erupted in some institutions of higher learning over possible fee rises. The government said it has noted with concern media reports on the resurgence of violent protests in some institutions of higher learning. “Students are advised not to participate in activities that may place them in conflict with the law as they protest against fee increase at universities,” said Donald Liphoko, spokesperson for the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). “As government, we would like to assure South Africans that the matter of student fees is receiving our full attention. We are working together with all parties concerned to find a lasting solution,” said Mr Liphoko. Xinhua on Africa Review

Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga Rejects South Africa Luxury Cars
A new mayor in South Africa says he will give away a fleet of new luxury cars ordered by his predecessors. Solly Msimanga, from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), said the vehicles would instead be given to a police anti-hijack unit. However, he will continue to use the luxury car used by the previous mayor. The DA took control of Tshwane, a metropolitan area including the capital Pretoria, from the African National Congress (ANC) in local elections. Mr Msimanga said no more luxury cars would be bought under his leadership. He took over from the governing ANC, which lost control of the capital for the first time since 1994, last month. BBC

US Airstrikes Kill 4 Al-Shabab Militants in Somalia
The U.S. conducted two airstrikes in southern Somalia early this week that killed four al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants. The U.S. Africa Command says Monday’s strikes came in response to an attack by a “large group of armed al-Shabab fighters” on a joint counterterrosim operation by the U.S. and Somalia. The U.S. military has in the past used drones to target al-Shabab’s senior leaders. The Pentagon said in June it carried out a strike in late May against Abdullahi Haji Da’ud, one of al Shabab’s senior military planners who served as a principal coordinator of attacks in Somalia, Kenya, and Uganda. The latest strikes took place in Torotorow in Lower Shabelle region, on Monday. VOA

Kenya: 13 Parties Wind up Today for Jubilee Merger
Thirteen political parties are on Thursday expected to dissolve when they hold their National Delegates’ Conferences in Nairobi as they prepare to form the Jubilee Party on Friday. President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, set the tempo for Thursday’s activities by hosting the chairpersons and secretaries-general of the 13 parties at State House, Nairobi, where it was agreed that the new party officials be unveiled on Saturday at the Safaricom Kasarani Stadium. The two leaders also met at least 21 governors from Jubilee-affiliated parties. The county bosses pledged to work for the new party, which President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto will use to seek re-election next year. Daily Nation

A Trail of Blood from CAR to Cameroon: The ‘Business’ of Laundering Conflict Diamonds
Market day in the riverside town of Gbitti in eastern Cameroon is a colourful affair. Farmers sit on the bare red earth, their wares spread out before them. Across the narrow stretch of the Kadéï River that separates Cameroon from the Central African Republic, merchants and shoppers haul wooden canoes by pulling on a steel rope stretched between the two banks. Children squeal and splash in the muddy waters where women beat their washing on stones. On the sandy riverbank in February, a man dressed in jeans, a jacket and grey knit cap had a practiced air of nonchalance. But his eyes gave him away, darting back and forth, right and left, scanning for danger as he negotiated — perhaps for the following Monday — the delivery of rough diamonds. Mail and Guardian

Germany and Eritrea: Human Rights or Curbing Migration?
The trip to Germany is important to Eritrea’s government. Two ministers and the influential presidential advisor, Yemane Gebreab, are part of the delegation. The agenda: an economic forum, a panel discussion and a meeting with German parliamentarians. “The visit is the result of talks that were held in December 2015 when a delegation from the German development ministry, headed by minister Gerd Muller, visited Asmara,” a spokesperson from the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development told DW. Eritrea has been politically isolated for years. The small state was once a beacon of hope in the Horn of Africa. In the early 1990s, after a 30-year-long war, it declared itself independent from Ethiopia. In 2007, Germany stopped its remaining development aid to Eritrea. The United Nations have repeatedly accused Eritrea’s government of committing crimes against humanity in its detention camps and military facilities, including torture, enslavement, rape and murder. Deutsche Welle

Son of Equatorial Guinea Leader to Face Trial in France: Prosecutor’s Office
The son of Equatorial Guinea’s president is to face trial in France for suspected money laundering, the office of the financial prosecutor said on Wednesday. Teodorin Obiang, the son of President Teodoro Obiang, is vice president of the small central African state, where a majority of the population lives in poverty despite rich oil reserves. His lawyer declined to comment. Obiang has denied wrongdoing and has said his wealth, which has allowed him to buy luxury real estate in Paris, a private jet and a stable of exotic sports cars, was amassed legitimately through successful business dealings.  Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones