Africa News Roundup: Kenya, South Sudan, Algeria, Nigeria, and More

VOA:

The runner-up in Kenya’s presidential election is filing a petition with the Supreme Court Saturday challenging the results.  The party of Prime Minister Raila Odinga says it will present to the court evidence of electoral fraud. Odinga’s CORD alliance has refused to accept the first-round victory of Jubilee candidate Uhuru Kenyatta.

Results released last week by the country’s electoral commission, the IEBC, declared Mr. Kenyatta had won 50.07 percent of the vote, just enough to avoid a run-off with Mr. Odinga.

Reuters: “After a Long Fight for Freedom, South Sudan Cracks Down on Dissent.”

Bloomberg:

South Sudan’s government said it signed an agreement with Ethiopia and Djibouti that may enable the East African nation to export oil by truck from July, while a study on a pipeline linking the three countries is completed.

An accord signed on March 12 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, envisages crude being exported via Djibouti’s Red Sea port of Douraleh, South Sudan Deputy Petroleum Minister Elizabeth James Bol said in an interview today. Douraleh is 1,469 kilometers (913 miles) northeast of Juba, the South Sudanese capital.

[...]

South Sudan is considering building two pipelines, one via Ethiopia and another across Kenya to the port of Lamu, as an alternative to the conduit that runs through neighboring Sudan.

Magharebia reports on Morocco’s diplomatic outreach to Mauritania, which is partly motivated by concern over the crisis in Mali.

IRIN: “Call to End Neglect of Emergency Education in Mali.”

Bloomberg: “Senegal Seeks to Become West Africa Hub for Islamic Finance.”

Al Jazeera: “Thousands Protest Unemployment in Algeria.”

VOA: “Development Improves in Ethiopia, But Just Slightly.”

The Guardian (Nigeria): “Northern Christians, Emir [of Anka, in Zamfara State] Oppose Amnesty for Boko Haram.” The titular Christians are the Northern Christian Elders Forum (NORCEF).

Osun Defender:

Two top leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in Borno State were yesterday assassinated by gunmen suspected to be operatives of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The slayings came less than one week after the officials participated in welcoming President Goodluck Jonathan during his tour of the troubled state.
The victims were Usman Gula (who was the PDP’s vice chairman for Southern Borno), and Hajia Gamboa, who served as the party’s women’s leader for Shehuri ward in Maiduguri.

What else is happening?

Kenyan Elections Open Thread

Kenyans are voting today in much-anticipated presidential elections. The BBC has profiles of the eight candidates, including front-runners Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga. The BBC also has a Q&A on the elections. Reuters has an interactive timeline covering the period from the 2007 elections to February 2013. IRIN has a page for the elections as well. International Crisis Group’s report on the elections is here (.pdf). Finally, VOA is providing live updates here.

Please consider this an open thread for Kenya-related news. What are you hearing/reading/seeing? Let us know.

Roundup: Kenya’s Presidential Debate

Kenya will hold presidential (and general) elections on March 4. For background on the elections, see herehere (.pdf), here, and here. For Ken Opalo’s forecast that Uhuru Kenyatta will win the first round, though not by enough to avoid a run-off, see here.

Yesterday, eight presidential aspirants met for the country’s first-ever presidential debate. The debate garnered massive attention – as the BBC tweeted, it was the “top trending topic on Twitter”  at one point yesterday.

Here is my roundup of coverage and reactions:

  • Daily Nation has a transcript. There was a livestream of the debate on YouTube, but I was unable to find a video of the event afterwards.
  • BBC: “[Frontrunners Uhuru] Kenyatta and [Raila] Odinga in First Kenya Presidential Debate.” From the article: “It is doubtful that the two-hour debate will significantly influence many voters as most Kenyans vote along ethnic lines.”
  • Standard Media focuses on the candidates’ remarks about ethnicity.
  • The Guardian: “Kenya Tunes in as Uhuru Kenyatta and Rail Odinga Promise Peaceful Elections.”
  • Reuters: “Raila Odinga, the frontrunner in Kenya’s presidential election, taunted his rival Uhuru Kenyatta in a debate on Monday, asking how he would be able to rule from the Hague, where Kenyatta goes on trial shortly on charges of crimes against humanity.”
  • AP: “Kenyatta insisted that he will be able to manage the task. ‘If the people of Kenya do decide to vote for me as their president, I will be able to handle the issue of clearing my name while ensuring the business of government continues and our manifesto and agenda for Kenya is implemented,’ Kenyatta said.”
  • Daily Nation: “Candidates Face Off Over Education, Health and Security.”
  • Nairobi Star: “Raila Dwells on Jobs, Shies Away from Land.”

Did you watch? What was your take?

Africa Blog Roundup: Kenya’s Elections, Nigeria’s Trains, DDR in South Sudan, and More

Ken Opalo: “Who Will Win the Kenyan Presidential Election?”

If the polls are right Uhuru Kenyatta still leads Raila Odinga by about 740,000 votes.  I estimate that Mr. Kenyatta will get 48.87% of the votes cast to Mr. Odinga’s 41.72%, which means that a run-off is almost inevitable. I don’t expect Mr. Kenyatta to hit the 50% mark since my model is slightly biased in his favor (especially coming from the Rift Valley turnout figures from 2007 that I use as a basis of estimating turnout in 2013).

Trains: Will Ross with a link to a BBC podcast segment on the Lagos-Kano Express. And Shelby Grossman with a photograph of a terminal under construction along a planned railway from Lagos to Cotonou.

Afendi Muteki: “The Oromo of Harerghe: On the Evolution of Urban Centers [in Ethiopia],” parts one and two.

Jairo Munive: “Disarmament, Demobilization And Reintegration In South Sudan: Feasible Under Current Conditions?”

Nasser Weddady on George Bush, Francois Hollande, and Mali.

Aaron Zelin compiles three new reports from Somalia’s Al Shabab.

I was thinking yesterday that my “Local Media Sources” list (in the right sidebar) was looking a bit thin, so I made some additions. Any suggestions for others to add?

Ethiopia: Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s Illness and Potential Political Changes in the Greater Horn

When Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi missed an African Union summit this past weekend, rumors spread that he was ill. News agencies reported yesterday that Meles was in “critical condition” in Brussels. By late in the day the Ethiopian government had announced that Meles was “in good condition.” Under Article 75 of the 1994 Ethiopian constitution (.pdf), Deputy Prime Minister (and Minister of Foreign Affairs) Haile-Mariam Desalegne will act on the Prime Minister’s behalf in his absence.

Meles, a former rebel leader who took power in 1991, has previously stated his desire to step down when his current term ends in 2015. If Meles leaves office, the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front will almost certainly retain power, but Meles’ absence would represent a significant political change for Ethiopia.

Indeed, Meles’ illness potentially foreshadows a coming period of political change (specifically the installation of new heads of state) for several countries in the greater Horn of Africa. Change could occur in several ways.

First, there is retirement. Meles is not the only leader in the region who has said he will step down in 2015 – Sudanese President Omar al Bashir made the same promise during a small wave of protests in early 2011, and Djibouti’s President Ismael Guellah has stated that he will step down in 2016. Some observers have doubted the sincerity of these pledges, but Meles in particular sometimes seems fatigued and ready to give up the job, an appearance that this illness underscores.

Elections will bring changes in leadership elsewhere in the region. Many observers expect Somalia’s ongoing political transition, which includes presidential elections next month, to produce a government fairly similar in personnel to the current Transitional Federal Government. But in Kenya, presidential elections set to take place in 2013 must produce a new head of state. President Mwai Kibaki, who has reached the limit of two five-year terms, cannot run again, leaving the field open to a number of major politicians, including current Prime Minister Raila Odinga and current Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Other transitions, as Meles’ case reminds us, could come about because of sudden illness or death, a grim possibility but one that must be mentioned. These leaders are not old: indeed, all of them (not counting Kibaki) are short of seventy – Meles was born in 1955, Bashir in 1944, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in 1951, Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in 1964, Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki in 1946, Djibouti’s President Ismail Guellah in 1947, and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni around 1944. Yet four of them have been in power for over nineteen years (Museveni came to power in 1986, Bashir in 1989, Meles in 1991, and Isaias in 1993). The high stress of being head of state seems to accelerate aging in some leaders. There remain only six African leaders who have been in office longer than Museveni.

Finally, no leader in the region has faced a monumental threat from mass protests, but significant anti-regime protests have occurred in the last two years in Sudan, Uganda, and Djibouti. If nothing else, such protests add to the pressures these heads of state face in other areas.

It is possible, of course, that in three or four years only Kenya, out of all the countries in the greater Horn, will have new leadership. But a combination of factors could produce transitions in Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti, and elsewhere, potentially shaking up, within a relatively short period of time, what has long been a fairly stable roster of leaders.

Kenya: Amid Terrorist Attacks, Offensive Against al Shabab Will Continue

On Sunday, “masked assailants launched simultaneous gun and grenade raids on two churches in…Garissa, the north Kenya town which has been used as a base for operations against al Qaeda-linked insurgents in Somalia.”

IRIN, meanwhile, reports on how Mombasa, Kenya is grappling with a recent spate of terrorist attacks:

Following three grenade attacks in recent months and a US “terror” alert, residents of the coastal Kenyan city of Mombasa are bracing themselves for the possibility of yet more violence; local leaders are working towards better disaster preparedness and improvements in the emergency services.

Three people lost their lives after a grenade attack on a bar in the Mshomoroni area of Mombasa on the night of 24 June, a day after the US issued a warning of an imminent attack. One person was killed and several injured in a suspected grenade attack on 15 May at a Mombasa sports bar; two grenade attacks in the city on 31 March left at least 15 injured. There have also been a spate of attacks in the capital, Nairobi, and northeastern areas of the country since Kenya crossed into southern Somalia in October 2011 to help stamp out the radical Islamist group, Al Shabab.

Kenyan leaders, however, say that the offensive in Somalia will continue. Speaking in Garissa,

Prime Minister Raila Odinga…ruled out pulling Kenyan troops from Somalia, saying it will be tantamount to surrendering to terrorism.
He made it clear that Kenyan troops will not leave Somalia until the country is liberated and pacified, noting Kenya will not be at peace until Somalia which has not known peace for two decades realizes peace.
“We want Somalia to be peaceful so that the 500,000 Somali refugees being hosted in Dadaab refugee camp can go back to their country to relieve Kenya of the burden of hosting them,” he said.
“Surrender is therefore not an option for us because if we leave Somalia, anarchy will set in which will spill over the borders.”

Kenyan forces’ next target in Somalia is the port city and al Shabab stronghold Kismayo, which they hope to take by August.

Conflict between Sudan and South Sudan Worries Kenya

Sudan and South Sudan are caught in a cycle that involves frustrating and so far largely fruitless talks over oil revenue sharing and border demarcation, alternating (or sometimes overlapping) with periods of severe tension and even cross-border clashes. As of today, talks between the two governments in neighboring Ethiopia are on hold. The situation is eliciting real concern from other neighbors as well.

A Southern Sudanese delegation visited Kenya this week. Kenyan leaders expressed their willingness to help broker a diplomatic solution between the two Sudans. While Kenyan involvement could help the two parties break the deadlock, Kenyan authorities did not say what form their participation might take. Moreover, Sudan may have concerns about Kenya’s neutrality, given the various links between Kenya and South Sudan, including plans to build a pipeline that would cut Sudan’s share of profits from Southern Sudanese oil.

Whatever the visit brings in the future, for the present it underscores the high stakes of the Sudanese crisis not just for the Sudans, but for the region. The Southern Sudanese attempted to reassure Kenyan leaders that Juba and Khartoum will not return to war, but Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga expressed nervousness about the situation:

The PM said that another full scale war between Juba and Khartoum would pose immense security and humanitarian challenges to the region which is already struggling to contain a devastating drought, refugee problems and islamist insurgents in Somalia.

[...]

The PM expressed worries that positions appeared to be hardening between the two countries.

Odinga clearly has Somalia – where Kenyan forces have been deployed since October, fighting the rebel movement al Shabab – on the brain. Kenya does not want another war on its doorstep. The refugee issues are huge as well. Kenya already hosts thousands of refugees from Somali, and is home to Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. To have Southern Sudanese pouring (back) into Kenya would put a real strain on the country. All of these problems interlock with each other and the issue of drought. In the Greater Horn of Africa, particularly with such heavy regional involvement in the war in Somalia right now, each country’s problems really do become those of its neighbors as well.

 

Kenya: Ruto, Sang, and Kosgey Back to The Hague for ICC Confirmation of Charges Hearing

September will mark a new phase in the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s legal proceedings against six Kenyans accused of fomenting post-election violence in 2007-2008. From September 1-12, three of the six (William Ruto, Joshua Arap Sang, and Henry Kosgey) will attend “confirmation of charges” hearings in The Hague, where the ICC will determine whether enough evidence exists to go forward with a trial. Later in the month, the three remaining suspects (Uhuru Kenyatta, Francis Muthaura, and Hussein Ali) will undergo the same process.

A key question going forward will be whether, and how, the ICC case affects Kenya’s internal politics.

Profiles of all six suspects are available here, but two suspects, Ruto and Kenyatta, are prominent candidates in the 2012 presidential race, and are also participants in key struggles taking place in the present. Ruto is the head of a dissident faction within the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the party of Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Odinga has moved to kick Ruto out of both the party and the new cabinet. The ICC indictment may have weakened Ruto’s position politically, but Ruto remains defiant, saying that he will run for president even if the trial is still ongoing. Kenyatta, meanwhile, survived the cabinet reshuffle, keeping his position as Finance Minister and remaining a major player in Kenya’s inflation crisis. President Mwai Kibaki may have been willing to sacrifice Ruto for a better relationship with Odinga and a shot at a legacy less tarnished by the 2007-2008 violence, but Kenyatta, ICC indictment notwithstanding, seems “too big to fail.” And though, as Reuters points out, Odinga has a lead in the polls, “his rivals’ combined support could unsettle him.” One source argues that a Kenyatta-Ruto “coalition of the damned” could beat Odinga, and put someone else – presumably Kenyatta – into the president’s seat next year.

As Ruto, Sang, and Kosgey head to The Hague this week, it will be important how their constituencies react. Ruto’s prayer rallies have generated press coverage, as have his remarks calling on other ODM leaders not to support the ICC case. These remarks underscore the potential of the ICC case to heighten tensions within and between parties, and between the country’s different ethnic groups.

NTV Kenya has a video report on the ICC case:

Kenya: ICC Rejects Delay, Begins Hearings for “Ocampo Six”

Today and tomorrow, Kenya’s “Ocampo Six” will appear in front of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in answer to summons from Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. These Kenyans – former MPs William Ruto and Henry Kosgey, former police commissioner Mohammed Hussein Ali, radio journalist Joshua Sang, Head of Public Service Francis Muthaura, and Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta – stand accused of fomenting violence after Kenya’s contentious 2007 elections.

The affair has produced mixed reactions in Kenya. The ICC’s case against the “Ocampo Six” has displeased Kenyan leaders, who have called for a one-year deferral of the proceedings. The ICC has rejected Kenyan government requests for a special hearing and more time, but the UN Security Council will consider Kenya’s deferral request in its meeting tomorrow.

As it became clear that the initial hearings, at least, would take place, Kenyan leaders spoke out in the press and in public about the case:

The International Criminal Court hearings against Kenyan suspects is “unprecedented and unfortunate,” said Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“Unprecedented because it has never happened to our citizens before,” Odinga said in an e-mailed statement from the East African nation’s capital, Nairobi, today. “Unfortunate because it is a big statement on the failure of our national institutions. From the ICC, we expect nothing but justice for the victims and a fair process for the suspects.”

In a special address yesterday, Odinga stressed themes of national unity. Odinga’s cautious statements, which are open to multiple interpretations, suggest to me that the hearings are making Kenyan leaders nervous about potential domestic fallout.

At the same time, some indicators show strong support among the Kenyan population for the hearings. Two polls, one conducted in December and the other released this month, say that around 60% of Kenyans want the case to go forward. I take such polls with a grain of salt, but it does seem that many Kenyans back the proceedings. That support potentially leaves Kenyan politicians at odds with some of their consituents.

What happens next? Moreno-Ocampo has laid out different stipulations for different defendants, which Kenya’s Daily Nation outlines here (see also their helpful list of trial participants here). Long story short, the case could take quite a while to resolve.

When I last wrote about Kenya and the ICC in March, it was unclear whether or not the “Ocampo Six” would even show up to the ICC. My suspicion at the time was that they might refuse, and clearly that hasn’t happened. It seems Kenyan government officials are still pinning their hopes on a UNSC-led deferral of the case, but that may not come. The Economist‘s Baobab has said that “the future of humanitarian law and of the ICC as an effective supranational body depends on the Kenyan case.” If so, the ICC has for the time being blocked a major challenge to its authority.

NTV Kenya has a video report on Uhuru Kenyatta, the defendant with the highest political profile:

A Test for US Influence in Kenya [UPDATED]

Since 2009, Obama administration officials have used harsh language and diplomatic pressure in an attempt to promote political reform in Kenya. The pattern continued this week with a new demand from Ambassador Michael Ranneberger that the Kenyan government “step up the fight against corruption, and replace Chief Justice Evan Gicheru and Attorney General Amos Wako.” Ranneberger’s call allows for a partial test of US influence in Kenya: how will the government respond? If the officials step down early, the US will have successfully flexed diplomatic muscle in one of Africa’s most important countries. If they do not, US prestige could take a hit on the continent.

The Daily Nation has more of Ranneberger‘s remarks:

Mr Ranneberger said two major issues threaten the future stability of development: “The culture of impunity and negative ethnicity.”

“We have seen in recent weeks a great deal of focus on corruption. Several officials have ‘stepped aside’. But we have seen before that ministers have temporarily stepped aside for alleged wrongdoing only to return in new incarnations. To demonstrate seriousness, actual prosecutions are essential and then imprisonment of those found guilty,” he said.

He called for corrupt ministers to be jailed.

According to the new Constitution, the CJ must be replaced by February and the AG by August of 2011. Mr Ranneberger said speedy action must be taken to find suitable replacements who can marshall a purge against corruption in government.

“We therefore urge the appointment of a new Attorney General and a new Chief Justice of the highest repute, and we urge that the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission be strengthened with additional resources,” he said.

He said President Obama is watching Kenya’s reform agenda “with a sense of urgency”, adding that the US is Kenya’s largest development partner contributing over US$1 billion annually.

Although Gicheru is out within four months, and Wako within a year, no matter what, Ranneberger seems to want them to leave early and perhaps to face trial as well. That posture represents an escalation over his earlier public pronouncements: “While Ambassador Ranneberger has previously called for strict vetting for future Justice and Attorney General appointments, this is the first time he has called for the two officials to step down.”

Ranneberger’s speech comes at a potentially awkward moment in US-Kenyan relations, as the latest Wikileaks revelations include documents from the US Embassy in Nairobi that are unflattering to Kenya:

Leaked reports from the US embassy in Nairobi depict Kenya as “a swamp of flourishing corruption,” the German magazine Der Spiegel reported on Sunday.

“Almost every single sentence in the embassy reports speaks with disdain of the government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga,” adds Der Spiegel.

These documents will not necessarily damage the relationship between Washington and Nairobi, and some high Kenyan officials are sympathetic to Washington’s perspective. The head of Kenya’s Anti-Corruption Authority, PLO Lumumba, indicated some agreement with Ranneberger’s perspective in an interview with VOA. But I wonder whether other Kenyan officials, including the president and prime minister, might find offensive the idea that Washington views Kenya with contempt, and I wonder whether they might feel that the US ambassador overstepped his role by calling for the ouster of specific government officials.

In any case, Washington’s views on Kenya are becoming clear both through officials’ own remarks and through leaks. Now Kenyan authorities will have to decide how to respond.

[UPDATE]: Now we’re seeing some fallout from Wikileaks in Kenya.

VOA:

Kenya says it is surprised and shocked by reported comments about the country contained in leaked U.S. diplomatic memos.

The German magazine Der Spiegel says the cables depict Kenya as a “swamp of corruption.”

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua says that if the report is true, the comments are malicious and a total misrepresentation of Kenya and its leaders.

Mutua says the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Johnnie Carson, called Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday to apologize for what is expected to come out.  Mutua adds, however, that the U.S. has not detailed what the cables say or for what it is apologizing.

If you tell someone what to do, and then they start to think that you hold them in contempt, are they more or less likely to do what you wanted?