Africa Media Review for September 8, 2017

Protesters Mass for Second Day to Demand Exit of Togo’s Leader
Thousands of Togolese marched for a second day on Thursday against President Faure Gnassingbe’s 50-year family dynasty despite a near blackout in communications. The scale of this week’s protests, which the opposition says were attended by hundreds of thousands of people, represents the biggest challenge to Gnassingbe’s rule since he succeeded his late father 12 years ago. In the past, security forces have violently suppressed protests, killing at least two people during an opposition march in August and hundreds after the contested election in which Gnassingbe took power in 2005. Reuters

UN to Present Africa Peacekeeping Funding Proposals
The UN has developed “concrete proposals” for funding African peacekeeping missions, the UN Security Council’s current president said Thursday. Tekeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s permanent representative to the UN, said supporting peacekeeping would top the agenda at a meeting of the council and African Union representatives on Friday. “We have concrete proposals to make,” he told a seminar at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. In February, the UN General Assembly voted to cut the $8 billion budget for global peacekeeping operations by $600 million, raising fears over the protection of vulnerable people in conflict zones in Africa and elsewhere. Anadolu Agency

Gbagbo Allies behind Wave of Attacks in Ivory Coast: Interior Minister
A group of allies of Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, including at least one living in exile in neighbouring Ghana, are behind a wave of attacks on security installations this year, the Interior Minister said on Thursday. Thirty-five people, a number of them soldiers, have been arrested for involvement in the “destabilisation project”, according to a statement released by Sidiki Diakite following a meeting of the National Security Council. Reuters

Kenya Shows Pitfalls of Digital Elections
Allegations of computer hacking in Kenya’s August 8 election have reignited a debate around the use of digital technology in national votes, with experts wondering whether sticking to paper may be best. The discussion is no longer theoretical in Africa where an increasing number of countries are turning to electronic voting or including a digital component in the voting process, such as the biometric voter recognition kits and electronic results transmission system deployed in Kenya. For example, the last two elections in Ghana, in 2012 and 2016, had a strong digital component while Namibia held the continent’s first ever completely digital election, or “e-vote” in 2014. Zimbabwe is mulling the use of biometric voter recognition in 2018 while Botswana and Nigeria are considering conducting fully digital elections in 2019. AFP

Leaked Memo Reveals Failings in Kenya’s Election Body
The chairperson of Kenya’s election commission has written to the panel’s CEO, questioning a host of failings in the conduct of last month’s presidential poll, annulled by the Supreme Court. In the confidential memo – dated September 5 and seen by AFP – Wafula Chebukati, chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), identified a dozen irregularities. He demanded that the commission’s chief executive, Ezra Chiloba, “respond (to) and explain” each one. Last week, the Supreme Court declared the August 8 presidential election to be null and void, citing “irregularities and illegalities” in the vote. AFP

Tanzania Opposition Chief Whip Tundu Lissu Shot
Tanzania’s opposition Chief Whip in Parliament Tundu Lissu was Thursday shot by unknown assailants. Mr Lissu, who is also Chadema’s chief legal counsel, was shot in stomach and leg, Dodoma Chief Regional Medical Officer James Charles said. Briefing journalists Thursday, Dr Charles said a team of medical experts have been assigned to attend to Mr Lissu. He said they will issue a report to relevant authorities in the due course but Mr Lissu is in stable condition. Regional Police Commander Gilles Muroto said they have launched investigations into the shooting but preliminary reports show that people who attacked Mr Lissu were in a white Nissan vehicle. Daily Nation

Sudan Closes Borders with South Sudan, Chad, Libya to Prevent Arms Smuggling
Sudan on Wednesday said it closed borders with South Sudan, Chad and Libya to prevent smuggling of arms. “We have closed our borders with Libya, Chad and South Sudan to prevent smuggling of arms and four-wheel-drive vehicles,” said Sudan’s Vice President Hassabo Mohamed Abdul-Rahman when addressing students’ gathering in Khartoum. “During the past period, around 60,000 four-wheel-drive vehicles have been smuggled into Sudan from Libya, Chad and South Sudan, where some of those smuggled cars were used in crimes such as murdering, smuggling, money laundering and drugs,” he added. He further noted that the International Police had recently sent requests to Sudan to register the data of those smuggled cars to help identify the criminal networks involved in those criminal acts. Xinhua

Angola’s Outgoing President Gives Daughter $4.5bn Dam Contract – Email Leak
Angola’s outgoing president Jose Eduardo dos Santos has reportedly given his daughter, Isabel dos Santos, a contract to build the country’s biggest dam yet. According to email leaks cited by the Expresso news portal, Isabel – Africa’s richest woman, had been awarded the contract to build the dam at a cost which is equal to 5% of Angola’s GDP and its annual education budget. The $4.5bn dam Caculo Cabaca dam project had been awarded in 2015 to a consortium led by one of China’s leading construction firms – China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC). It, however, turned out that CGGC had a hidden shareholder in the person of the president’s daughter who reportedly owns 40% of the consortium. The latest revelation buttresses earlier claims made by an Angolan journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais. Africa News

Angola’s Dos Santos Awards Mass Promotions within Police Corps
Angola’s outgoing President, Jose Eduardo dos Santos, promoted 165 senior police officers to a higher rank, a move that’s likely to allow him to wield influence even after he steps down this month. Interior Minister Angelo Veiga Tavares was appointed as commissioner of prison services, while at least 20 commissioners were named as advisers to police commander Ambrosio de Lemos, according to a presidential decree published in the government gazette on Sept. 1. The appointments take effect within 15 days of the publication of the decree. The ranks, which include commissioner-chief, commissioner and under-commissioner, are the highest in the police corps. It’s the first time during his 38-year rule that Dos Santos has awarded mass promotions to more than 100 senior police officers with a single stroke. In July, lawmakers approved a proposal to extend the terms of office for the chiefs of the military, police and intelligence services to eight from six years. Bloomberg

Rwanda Arrests Supporters of Jailed Opposition Figure
Rwandan police have arrested supporters of jailed opposition figure Victoire Ingabire who they said were planning to join an armed group in a neighboring country. Ingabire was jailed for 15 years in 2012 for conspiring to form an armed group to undermine the government and for seeking to minimize the 1994 genocide. Among the seven people arrested was Boniface Twagirimana, the vice president of Ingabire’s party, and Leonille Gasengayire, a member of the party – FDU-Inkingi – which has never been registered as an official political movement, the police said on Wednesday. Reuters

Cholera Outbreak Threatens More Than 1M People in Nigeria Refugee Camps
At least 1.4 million people uprooted by Boko Haram’s insurgency in northeast Nigeria are living in ‘cholera hotspots,’ prey to an outbreak of the deadly disease which is sweeping through camps for the displaced, the United Nations said on Thursday. An estimated 28 people have died from cholera in the conflict-hit region, while about 837 are suspected to have been infected with the disease, including at least 145 children under the age of five, said the U.N. children’s agency (UNICEF). The outbreak was first identified last week in the Muna Garage camp in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, which is the heart of jihadist group Boko Haram’s brutal eight-year campaign to carve out an Islamic caliphate in northeast Nigeria. VOA

Sierra Leone Faces Long Slog to Recovery after Devastating Mudslide
It’s been almost a month since torrential rains caused widespread flooding and a mountainside to collapse on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, sending a blanket of mud into several communities. Life is gradually returning to normal, but residents of the devastated regions face a slog toward recovery. “We’re getting there, but the pace is still slow,” said Ramatu Jalloh, director of advocacy and communications for Save the Children in Sierra Leone. Some 500 people were killed, more than 600 are believed missing, and almost 2,000 homes have been lost as a result of the Aug. 14 mudslide, according to humanitarian aid workers. All told, almost 6,000 people were affected by the disaster in some way, the International Organization for Migration said in its Sept. 4 situation report. Los Angeles Times

Boko Haram and Al-Shabab Recruits ‘Lack Religious Schooling’
Many young Africans drawn to extremist groups know “little to nothing” about religious texts and interpretations, a UN study has found. The survey, the first of its kind in Africa, profiled nearly 500 voluntary recruits to militant groups including al-Shabab and Boko Haram. Finding a job is “the most acute need at the time of joining a group,” the report finds. It also points to government action as a “tipping point”. Most of those surveyed reported unhappy childhoods and a lack of parental supervision. BBC

UN: Poverty, Abuse of Power Push Young Africans into Violent Extremism
Poverty, deprivation and state abuse of power are driving young Africans to join violent extremist groups, such as Boko Haram, al-Shabab and Islamic State, according to a “first-of-a-kind” study by the U.N. Development Program. The 124-page study, which was conducted over a two-year period, is based on interviews with 495 voluntary recruits to extremist organizations. It explores the reasons why young Africans are attracted to organizations that engage in terrorist activities, and it sheds light on the recruitment process, misperceptions, growing dangers and presents recommendations for resisting extremist messages and recruitment. VOA

Medical Aid Group Slams EU Migrant Policy in Libya
The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, or MSF, on Thursday accused the European Union and national governments of funding the criminal abuse of migrants in detention centers in Libya. Libya’s EU-sponsored coast guard is picking up migrants trying to flee to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea and sending them back to Libya’s detention system, which is “a thriving enterprise of kidnapping, torture and extortion,” MSF International President Joanne Liu said in an open letter to EU governments “European governments have chosen to contain people in this situation. People cannot be sent back to Libya, nor should they be contained there,” she wrote. The EU’s executive Commission denied it was turning a blind eye to the treatment of migrants in Libya and said that its priority is in fact to end the “vicious cycle” that sees people brought to the conflict-torn country by smugglers and then trapped in camps or detention centers. McClatchy

Italian Minister Defends Methods That Led to 87% Drop in Migrants from Libya
In his eight months in office, Marco Minniti, the austere Italian interior minister, has overseen a huge reduction in the number of African migrants and refugees reaching Italian shores from Libya. At the last count in August, the figure was 87% down on the previous year. A former communist with deep connections with Italian intelligence and the levers of the Italian state, Minniti is one of the most controversial politicians in Europe. His success in reducing migrant flows has won him praise and popularity on the right and notoriety on parts of the left. There have been rumours of deals struck in the desert to induce tribes and militia to end the business of human trafficking. It is claimed his methods are fragile, and leave unresolved the fate of the tens of thousands of migrants trapped in Libya in inhumane detention camps unable to reach Italy and unwilling to return to their country of origin on the other side of the Sahara desert. The Guardian

Uganda’s Anti-Pornography Drive Seen by Critics as Diversion
Uganda is launching a drive against online pornography that critics condemn as a diversion from deeper problems of graft, unemployment and crumbling social services facing President Yoweri Museveni. The campaign is the latest salvo in a culture war between conservatives fighting what they see as foreign moral influences promoting criminality and a more liberal, often younger population. “This is an invasion, it’s Western culture,” said Simon Lokodo, a 59-year-old Catholic priest who serves as minister of ethics and integrity. “Overconsumption of pornography … the consequences are very dire,” he told Reuters this week. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones