Africa Media Review for April 17, 2019

Shelling Kills Four in Tripoli as UN Debates Libya Ceasefire
At least four people have been killed in heavy shelling in the Libyan capital Tripoli. Nearly two weeks into the assault to seize the city, Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) is stuck in the city’s southern outskirts battling armed groups loyal to the UN-recognised Tripoli government. But the southern district of Abu Salim got shelled late on Tuesday with explosions heard even in the city centre where life had been going on largely untouched by the violence in Libya. … As the rockets fell on Tuesday, UN Security Council diplomats began negotiations on a British-drafted resolution that would demand an immediate ceasefire in Libya. The proposed text, seen by AFP news agency, warns that the offensive by Haftar’s LNA “threatens the stability of Libya and prospects for a United Nations-facilitated political dialogue and a comprehensive political solution to the crisis”. Al Jazeera

UN Chief Appoints Adviser to Help AU Mediation in Sudan
The U.N. secretary-general has appointed special adviser Nicholas Haysom to support the African Union’s mediation efforts in Sudan, where the military ousted longtime President Omar al-Bashir last week. “He is being put at disposal of the African Union, which we understand will be engaged in some mediation capacity between the transitional council in Khartoum and various parts of Sudanese society,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday. “Mr. Haysom will be there to support them in whatever way he can.” … Haysom, a South African lawyer, was previously the U.N. special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan and was head of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan. VOA

US Mulling Lifting Sudan off Terror List as Uganda Considers Offering Bashir Asylum
The United States said Tuesday it may consider lifting Sudan off the state sponsor of terrorism list if the country’s leadership and policies change and the military no longer holds power. “We will be willing to look at removing Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism if there is significant change in the country’s leadership and policies,” a US State Department official told Reuters. … Separately, Uganda said it would consider granting asylum to Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court. “If Uganda is approached to grant asylum to Bashir it is an issue that can be considered at the highest level of our leadership,” state minister for foreign affairs Henry Okello Oryem told AFP. He said that as a result of Bashir’s key role in mediating a peace deal in neighboring South Sudan, “his asylum in Uganda is what the government of Uganda can consider.” Asharq Al-Awsat

Sudan’s Military Rulers Fire Top Chief Prosecutor, Aides
Sudan’s ruling military council says it has fired the country’s top prosecutor days after the military ousted autocratic president Omar al-Bashir. Tuesday’s statement by the council says its head, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, dismissed general prosecutor Omar Abdel-Salam and two of his aides. The Sudanese Professionals Association, which has spearheaded the protests, has called for the dismissal of all top judges and prosecutors among a package of demands. Those include the prosecution of those behind the Islamist-backed military coup in 1989, the dissolution of all pro-government unions and a freeze on the assets of top officials in al-Bashir’s government. VOA

European Union Will Not Recognize Sudan’s Military Council: Mogherini
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, called on Tuesday for a swift handover of power to civilian government and saying EU would not recognize the transitional military council. Sudan’s transitional military council which took over power last Saturday 11 April has been under internal and external pressure to transfer it to a civilian government even if after the resignation of its former head and two others close to the regime. … Mogherini further voiced the support of the European Union for the aspiration of Sudanese people to liberty and warned that the political crisis would continue if the military do not implement a true transition in the east African country. “To prevent such scenario, there has to be a swift handover to a civilian transitional government, with real decision-making authority,” she said. Sudan Tribune

Head of Algeria’s Constitutional Council Resigns as Students Protest
The chairman of Algeria’s Constitutional Council Tayib Belaiz quit his post on Tuesday, state news agency APS said, following calls for his resignation by pro-democracy protesters who say he is part of a ruling elite they want abolished. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika stepped down on April 2 after weeks of mass protests for his 20-year rule to end. But his departure has failed to placate many Algerians who want to topple the old guard and its associates. Belaiz submitted his resignation to Interim President Abdelkader Bensalah, APS reported, citing a statement from the council. Bensalah is another senior political figure who protesters want to see removed. He was appointed interim president after Algeria’s army chief declared Bouteflika unfit for office and said the military would back a transition period leading to a presidential election on July 4. Reuters

Cameroon: Civilians Arrested as Security Forces Raid Buea in Search of Ambazonia Fighters
Scores of persons were arrested on Monday April 15 in the Mile 16 Bolifamba neighbourhood in Buea South West region of Cameroon as security forces combed the area in search of armed separatist fighters. A source lin Mile 16 said security forces stormed the area early in the morning searching houses as well as checking idetification cards before taking some civilians away. Most of those arrested were taken to the Buea Central Police station though no formal charges have been brought before them. Security forces have regularly raided the Mile 16 neighbourhood in search of separatist fighters, accusing civilians of not denouncing their hideouts in the neighbourhood. Journal du Cameroun

Egypt Constitutional Changes Could Mean Sisi Rule until 2030
Egypt’s parliament has approved constitutional amendments that would allow President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030. Mr Sisi is due to stand down in 2022, when his second four-year term ends. But the amendments, which must be put to a referendum within 30 days, would lengthen his current term to six years and allow him to stand for one more. They would also give Mr Sisi more power over the judiciary and further enshrine the military’s role in politics. In 2013, Mr Sisi led the military’s overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi, following protests against his rule. BBC

Guinea under Pressure to Probe Protest Deaths
Human Rights Watch has urged the government of Guinea to set up a special task force of judges to investigate the deadly crackdown by security forces during last year’s protests.The government’s failure to adequately investigate a dozen alleged killings in 2018 by the security forces and several alleged killings by protesters risks fueling future abuses, HRW said in a statement on Wednesday. Guinea witnessed violent street protests in 2018 when opposition parties and activists spearheaded demonstrations over disputed local elections, rising fuel prices, and protracted teachers’ strike over pay. HRW warned that with tensions mounting over whether President Alpha Condé will seek to amend the constitution and run for a third term, further street protests are likely as a baclkash. Journal du Cameroun

Russia to Send Soldiers to Central African Republic as Part of U.N. Force – Decree
Russia will send up to 30 military personnel to Central African Republic as part of a U.N mission to help stabilise the country, according to a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on Monday. The decree said the Russian contingent would include military observers, staff officers and military communications specialists. Moscow has already sent military equipment to CAR and Russian instructors are on the ground helping train the country’s armed forces. Reuters

150 Missing after Shipwreck in Eastern Congo
About 150 people are missing after a boat sunk on a lake in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, President Felix Tshisekedi said on Tuesday. “I am very saddened by the shipwreck of a pirogue on (Monday) April 15 on Lake Kivu. The provisional toll is 150 people missing,” Tshisekedi said on his office’s Twitter account. Delphin Mbirimbi, a local activist in South Kivu province, told Reuters that the boat, which had departed from neighbouring North Kivu province, wrecked on the lake near Kalehe territory. He said three bodies had been recovered, 33 people had been rescued and another 150 passengers were missing. Reuters

Burundi Schoolgirls Expelled for Doodling on President’s Image in Textbook
Three schoolgirls who were detained in Burundi for doodling on a picture of the President have been expelled from school following their release from jail, Human Rights Watch told CNN. The girls, who are all minors, were detained for six days last month at Ngozi Central Prison and charged with “insulting the head of state,” President Pierre Nkurunziza, according to the rights agency. Their detention sparked worldwide anger with many taking to social media to post defaced pictures of Nkurunziza with the hashtag #FreeOurGirls. A boy, who was not charged with any offenses but was arrested as part of the initial group of seven, and another girl were also expelled, HRW’s Central Africa director Lewis Mudge told CNN. “It’s good news they were released, but the charges still haven’t been dropped, and they have now been expelled from school,” Mudge said. “This is affecting their right to an education. … This demonstrates the way schools are being politicized in Burundi.” CNN

Zimbabwe Black Market Running Amok
Government is facing renewed pressure on the economic front, with the parallel foreign currency market once again running amok — pushing the prices of basic consumer goods like bread beyond the reach of many Zimbabweans, the Daily News reported. This comes as many leading schools around the country have also sharply hiked their fees, further piling on the stress on already hard-pressed parents — especially those earning their salaries in RTGS dollars, which have been seriously eroded by inflation which officially stands at a staggering 66,8 percent. Yesterday, the coveted United States dollar breezed past the 5,20 mark to the RTGS$ on the back of what both business and political analysts say is a result of policy inconsistencies by authorities — following last week’s surprising announcement by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube that the country would have a new currency within a year. “… Bad economic mismanagement is theft on people’s savings and this has been created by Mthuli Ncube … he lives in a reality-distorted world,” former Finance minister during the short-lived government of national unity (GNU), Tendai Biti, told the Daily News yesterday. Bulawayo24

From Roads to Water, Nairobi Slum Upgrades Bear Fruit for Residents
[…] The United Nations projects that 68 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050, up from 55 percent now, with 90 percent of that growth in Asia and Africa. As climate change hits African farmers hard, people are migrating in growing numbers from rural areas to cities, where they are exposed to floods, fire and other dangers – a problem Nairobi is trying to tackle by upgrading its slum areas. … Edwin Murimi, deputy director of environment and climate change for Nairobi, said the city had teamed up with national government and partners like the World Bank, UN-Habitat and C40 Cities network, to fast-track programmes to protect vulnerable communities from extreme weather and environmental risks. “A lot has happened in Nairobi…like regeneration of our parks and open spaces in the estates by planting resilient trees to increase green cover, waste collection and unblocking of drains to avert floods,” Murimi said. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones