Africa Media Review for April 11, 2019

Sudanese Officials Say Army Forced President to Step Down
Tens of thousands of Sudanese marched toward the center of the capital Khartoum on Thursday, cheering, singing and dancing in celebration as two senior officials said the military had forced longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir to step down after 30 years in power. The circumstances of al-Bashir’s apparent ouster after months of intensifying protests against his rule were not clear, however, and his whereabouts were unknown. The military told the nation to expect an “important statement” soon in an announcement on state TV in the morning. The developments raised speculation that, behind the scenes, the military aimed to install one of its one in place of al-Bashir. Organizers of the protests that have drawn tens of thousands into the streets reject that, seeing it as a way for the armed forces to keep the power that it has held under al-Bashir. Instead, they called on protesters to keep up their main sit-in outside the military’s headquarters in Khartoum to pressure for a civilian transitional government.  AP

Sudan Protests: Demonstrators Wait for Army Statement
Sudan’s army has told the nation to expect an announcement following growing protests calling for President Omar al-Bashir to step down. The army’s message sparked jubilant scenes among Sudanese convinced that a coup was under way, but it remained unclear what was happening. Thousands marched through Khartoum, some chanting: “It has fallen, we won.” Protests against Mr Bashir, who has governed Sudan since 1989, have been under way for several months. […] In the early hours of Thursday, several military vehicles were seen entering the large compound in Khartoum that houses the Ministry of Defence, the army headquarters and Mr Bashir’s personal residence, AFP reported. The compound has been the focus of a sit-in by tens of thousands of protesters who have been urging the military to oust Mr Bashir.  BBC

21 Dead in Four Days of Khartoum Sit-In, Police Ordered to Protect Public
The Sudanese Doctors Central Committee announced on Tuesday that 21 people have been killed over the last four days since April 6, at and around the sit-in at the General Command of the Sudanese Army in downtown Khartoum. The dead include five members of the Sudan Armed Forces. Sudan’s head of police directed all police forces in the country not to harm citizens and peaceful gatherings, and to carry out their rightful duties in preventing crime and preserving law and order. The committee said in a statement that the number of wounded during the four days of the mass vigil has reached 153. The doctors expect that the final death toll will increase as some of the wounded are still in a serious life-threatening condition. Radio Dabanga

30 Jihadists Killed or Captured in French-Malian Raids Near Burkina: French Military
French and Malian troops killed or captured more than 30 extremists and dismantled a jihadist training camp during a major counter-terrorism operation near Mali’s border with Burkina Faso, the French military told AFP. “Over 30 members of armed terrorist groups were neutralised,” the military said, a term meaning that they were killed or captured. A French military doctor was also killed during the operation, the military previously reported. The operation was launched in late March in Gourma, a crossroads region in Mali’s central belt that flanks the border with Burkina Faso.  AFP

Haftar Forces ‘Capture’ Military Camp South of Tripoli
Forces led by Commander Khalifa Haftar on Wednesday claimed to have captured the Yarmuk military camp, south of the capital, Tripoli, from the UN-backed government. Haftar forces said in a statement they set control over the camp and are advancing towards Tripoli’s center. Beginning last week, the fighters have carried out a military attack to seize the capital from the UN-backed government. The Yarmuk military camp is in the Ain Zara area which had been witnessing clashes between the Haftar forces and government forces.  Anadolu Agency

For Libyan Warlord Haftar, Tripoli Campaign Is a Life’s Work
[…] Dismissed at first as a feint to win an advantage in those talks, Haftar’s offensive now looks all too serious, even to his own foreign allies. There are few signs he’s listening to international calls to stand down his troops. Dozens have died and many more have been wounded, the international airport was briefly shuttered after airstrikes, and Libya has again convulsed oil markets. Mohammed Eljarh, a co-founder of the Libya Outlook for Research and Consulting in Tobruk, a city at the heart of Haftar’s eastern fiefdom, isn’t a bit surprised. “Everything Haftar has done since 2014 has been to get to Tripoli,” he said. “It would have been naive on anyone’s part to think that he wasn’t going to Tripoli.”  Bloomberg

Could Libya Be Russia’s New Syria?
The rumors that Libyan General Khalifa Haftar has Kremlin support are as consistent as his advance on the country’s capital. In Syria, Russia has flexed its military muscles — but it isn’t showing its cards on Libya yet. As the conflict in Libya heat up, the words out of Moscow have remained cool and rational. During a recent visit to Egypt, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia′s “task is to help the Libyan people overcome their current differences of opinion, and come up with a stable agreement” to reconcile the sides.  And at the beginning of the week Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia will use every possible opportunity to call on all sides to avoid causing bloodshed and the “deaths in the civilian population.”  Deutsche Welle

Algeria to Hold July 4 Presidential Election after Mass Protests
Algeria will hold a presidential election on July 4, the interim presidency said on Wednesday after weeks of mass protests led to the resignation of long-serving leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika. No further details were immediately given. On Tuesday, interim president Abdelkader Bensalah had said he would organise free elections within 90 days. Earlier on Wednesday, Algeria’s army chief said he expected to see members of the ruling elite in the major oil and natural gas-producing country prosecuted for corruption and that he would support a transition towards elections.  Reuters

Algerian Army Chief Wants Ruling “Gang” Prosecuted, Backs Route to Elections
Algeria’s army chief said on Monday he expects to see members of the ruling elite prosecuted for corruption and will support a transition towards elections after mass protests ousted the long-serving president. Lieutenant General Gaid Salah’s comments were the strongest hint yet that the military would play its traditional role as kingmaker following veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation after 20 years in office. “The army will meet the people’s demands,” said Salah, addressing officers and soldiers at a military base. “The judiciary has recovered its prerogative and can work freely.”  Reuters

Algeria Army Chief Backs Interim Leader, Sees Foreign Hand
Algeria’s powerful army chief on Wednesday backed the country’s newly appointed interim leader, and said the military will watch over the process to prepare for presidential elections, but suggested it doesn’t want to intervene. Ahmed Gaid Salah, speaking at a regional military headquarters in Oran, said it is “unreasonable” to organize elections in the three-month transition period allotted by the constitution without institutional guidance, such of that of Abdelkader Bensalah. The head of the Senate was appointed the day before to replace former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who was pressured by massive protests to step down after two decades in office. Bouteflika had tried to hang on, but the pressure increased when Gaid Salah withdrew his support and denounced the corrupt “gang” running the country.  VOA

Ex-President Kabila’s Allies Win Most Congo Governor Races
Allies of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s former head of state claimed a resounding victory in gubernatorial elections, cementing their grip on the country’s institutions several months after losing the presidency. Joseph Kabila’s Common Front for the Congo, known as the FCC, triumphed in 16 of 24 provinces where governorships were up for grabs on Wednesday, according to provisional results published by the electoral commission. President Felix Tshisekedi’s party was successful in a single province, while one went to an opposition faction. Former opposition leader Tshisekedi won a contested presidential election in late December, while supporters of his rival and predecessor Kabila secured large majorities in the country’s national and provincial parliaments. The two men’s alliances have agreed to govern Congo together in coalition. Bloomberg

Zimbabwe to Exhume, Rebury Thousands from 1980s Mass Killing
Zimbabwe’s government has promised to exhume and rebury the bodies of thousands of people killed during a 1980s military campaign aimed at crushing dissidents, state media reported Wednesday. The Herald newspaper cited the secretary in the justice ministry, Virginia Mabhiza, as calling the reburials part of measures supported by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to bring closure to the killings between 1983 and 1987. She did not say when they will start. Mnangagwa was state security minister and enforcer for then-leader Robert Mugabe at the time, publicly supporting the campaign. Like Mugabe he has refused to apologize for his alleged role but recently said people should be free to talk about the killings. AP

Zimbabwe, Russia Sign $4 Billion Platinum Mine Deal
Zimbabwe has signed an agreement with Russia to build a new platinum mine in the southern African country, finalizing a deal that’s stalled since 2014. A deal to develop a new platinum-group metals mine on a prospect held by Great Dyke Investment, a company jointly owned by a Russian state-controlled company and Zimbabwe’s government has been sealed, Polite Kambamura, the nation’s deputy mines minister said. The deal hadn’t progressed since an initial agreement in 2014, Kambamura said, declining to disclose the shareholding structure. He said the mine and associated infrastructure will cost $4 billion. “Two weeks ago we finalized the agreement and the Russians are ready to come on the ground,” Kambamura said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Johannesburg.  Bloomberg

Egypt Withdraws from U.S.-Led Anti-Iran Security Initiative – Sources
Egypt has pulled out of the U.S. effort to forge an “Arab NATO” with key Arab allies, according to four sources familiar with the decision, in a blow to the Trump administration’s strategy to contain Iranian power. Egypt conveyed its decision to the United States and other participants in the proposed Middle East Security Alliance, or MESA, ahead of a meeting held Sunday in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, one source said. Cairo did not send a delegation to the meeting, the latest gathering held to advance the U.S.-led effort to bind Sunni Muslim Arab allies into a security, political and economic pact to counter Shi’ite Iran, the source said. Reuters

US Resumes Airstrikes in Somalia After Brief Pause
The United States said Wednesday it has resumed airstrikes against the al-Shabab Islamist group in Somalia, after a brief pause that followed accusations from Amnesty International that it had tried to hide civilian casualties. The latest airstrike was carried out on Tuesday near Jilib, in the Moyen-Juba region southwest of Mogadishu, and killed one Islamist fighter, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) said. “Currently, we assess no civilians were injured or killed as a result of this airstrike,” AFRICOM said in a statement, adding, for the first time, that the army had procedures in place to collect follow-up information on the impact of bombings.  AFP

Boko Haram Targets Civilians in Deadly Attacks in South-East Niger
The United Nations refugee agency reports tens of thousands of refugees and displaced people in Niger’s Diffa region are suffering immense hardships as violent attacks by Boko Haram increase in frequency and intensity. According to the U.N. refugee agency, last month 88 civilians in Niger’s border areas were killed by Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based Islamist militant group. The spike in violence, it says, has forced more than 18,000 people to flee their homes, many for the second or third time. Large numbers have fled to Diffa town in search of safety, adding to the heavy burden of this overcrowded area. Since 2015, nearly 250,000 people, about half of them refugees from Nigeria, have sought protection from Boko Haram in Diffa.  VOA

South Sudan Warring Rivals Meet at Vatican ‘Peace Retreat’
South Sudan’s warring rivals President Salva Kiir and rebel leader and former vice president Riek Machar began a retreat at the Vatican Wednesday aimed at finding a path to peace. The arch-rivals met at the Casa Santa Marta within the Vatican’s walls, a residence for visitors and home to Pope Francis, who chose it over the traditional papal palace on his election in 2013. The unimposing hotel was the scene of historic peace talks between Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2014. Kiir and Machar last saw each other in October last year, shortly after the signing of a power-sharing deal, when Machar made a brief return to Juba for the first time since fleeing on foot in a hail of gunfire in July 2016.  AFP

Uganda’s Bobi Wine Confirms Intention to Run for President
Bobi Wine (real name Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu) has rapidly built up a following based largely on his message of power to the people and criticism of the Ugandan government after he was elected in a parliamentary by-election in 2017. He returned to Uganda in September 2018 from the US where he received medical treatment following alleged torture by members of Uganda’s presidential guard after his arrest at a political rally in August. His arrest led to violent protests in the capital, Kampala. Since then, Bobi Wine’s support base has gone from strength to strength and he has been widely recognised, both at home and abroad, as a serious threat to President Yoweri Museveni who has been in power for over 30 years. Bobi Wine is currently in Berlin for a conference on freedom of expression. In an interview with DW he spoke about his plans for the future.  Deutsche Welle

A Strategic Port in the Horn of Africa Is at the Center of a $500 Million Lawsuit
A London court has delivered the latest verdict in the battle to manage one of Africa’s most strategic ports. The Court of International Arbitration, which helps to resolve international commercial disputes, has ruled that Djibouti breached the rights of Dubai port operator DP World to manage the Doraleh Container Terminal when it ended a 30-year concession agreement, signed in 2006, with the port operator last February, and took control of the terminal’s operations. The company called the move by the tiny coastal nation an illegal seizure, kick-starting a trans-continental legal battle. The tribunal ordered Djibouti to pay $385 million plus interest for breaking the deal, $148 million in unpaid royalties, and legal costs. The fight over who manages the harbor comes as Djibouti seeks to become one of the biggest trading ports in Africa. With a population of less than a million people, the port is an important gateway to the Gulf of Aden, and a crucial route for global shipping operations. Quartz

How China Got a Huge Stake in Zambia’s Media (Video)
Many Zambians claim that China is taking over some of their government’s key institutions – but which ones and how true is it? DW looks into the digital migration project which gave a Chinese media conglomerate a huge stake in Zambia’s national broadcaster. Deutsche Welle

In a Poor Kenyan Community, Cheap Antibiotics Fuel Deadly Drug-Resistant Infections
Four days after her toddler’s health took a turn for the worse, his tiny body racked by fever, diarrhea and vomiting, Sharon Mbone decided it was time to try yet another medicine. With no money to see a doctor, she carried him to the local pharmacy stall, a corrugated shack near her home in Kibera, a sprawling impoverished community here in Nairobi. The shop’s owner, John Otieno, listened as she described her 22-month-old son’s symptoms and rattled off the pharmacological buffet of medicines he had dispensed to her over the previous two weeks. None of them, including four types of antibiotics, were working, she said in despair. Like most of the small shopkeepers who provide on-the-spot diagnosis and treatment here and across Africa and Asia, Mr. Otieno does not have a pharmacist’s degree or any medical training at all. Still, he confidently reached for two antibiotics that he had yet to sell to Ms. Mbone.“See if these work,” he said as she handed him 1,500 shillings for both, about $15.  The New York Times

Facebook Is Using AI to Map Exactly Where Africa’s Fast-Growing Population Lives
The population of Africa is growing rapidly. Today, one out of every six people on Earth live in Africa. In 2050, the United Nations “medium scenario” projections predicts one in four humans will live in Africa and in 2100, more than one in three. But in conversations about Africa especially about development, there are a few consistent talking points – an absence of data. This absence of data hurts African nations in their ability to make good policy and solve problems especially about a lack of infrastructure. To that end Facebook is using artificial intelligence to map population density around the world with a new type of world map as part of its Connectivity Lab project.  Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones