Africa Media Review for April 19, 2019

Huge Crowds Gather in Sudan to Demand Civilian Rule
Huge crowds formed outside Sudan’s defence ministry on Thursday, joining a sit-in protest to demand that the country’s transitional military council hand power to civilians. Hundreds of thousands packed the streets by early evening – the largest crowds to gather in the centre of the capital since last week, when former President Omar al-Bashir was ousted and the military council took over. Protesters chanted “Freedom and revolution are the choice of the people” and “Civilian rule, civilian rule”, and waved national flags. Giant screens showed a film documenting apparent abuses by the security services. “We will remain in the street until power is handed to civilian authority,” said 24-year-old protester Samia Abdallah. “We will bring down military rule.” France24

US Praises Sudan, Sends Envoy to Khartoum
The United States on Thursday praised orders by Sudan’s new military leader to free political prisoners and end a night curfew as it dispatched an envoy to Khartoum to encourage a transition to democracy. Makila James, the deputy assistant secretary of state who is in charge of eastern Africa, will head to Khartoum this weekend, an official said. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that the United States will “calibrate our policies based on our assessment of events” but added that talks on delisting Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism remained suspended. … “The will of the Sudanese people is clear: it is time to move toward a transitional government that is inclusive and respectful of human rights and the rule of law,” she said. AFP

WHO Says over 200 Killed in Fighting over Libyan Capital
The fighting between Libya’s rival factions for control of the country’s capital this month killed 205 people so far, the World Health Organisation said, announcing it would deploy medical specialists, including surgeons, to treat the wounded. The clashes, which erupted earlier in April, have threatened to ignite a civil war on the scale of the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The fighting has also forced the UN to indefinitely postpone reconciliation talks planned for mid-April that meant to try and find a way to pull Libya out of the chaos that followed Gadhafi’s ouster. WHO said on Wednesday it would send medical staff to treat the wounded, whose number has reached 913. It wasn’t clear how many among the dead are civilians. AP

Armed Group Attacks Air Base in Southern Libya Held by Haftar – Officials
An armed group on Thursday a major air base in southern Libya held by eastern military commander Khalifa Haftar on Thursday after he moved most of his forces north to try to seize the capital Tripoli, officials said. The eastern Libyan National Army (LNA) forces managed to repel the assault on the Tamanhint air base near Sabha, the main city in Libya’s south, two eastern military officials said. An LNA soldier was killed at the base’s main gate, one official said, describing the attackers as “militia”. It was unclear whether they were linked to the internationally recognised government in Tripoli, in northwestern Libya, that is fighting Haftar-led forces allied to a parallel government based in the eastern city of Benghazi. Reuters

Libya Crisis: PM Fayez al-Serraj Condemns ‘Silence’ of Allies
he UN-backed PM of Libya has condemned the “silence” of his international allies as opposing forces advance on the capital Tripoli. Fayez al-Serraj is facing down an insurgency led by eastern commander Gen Khalifa Haftar. More than 205 people have been killed since fighting began on 4 April, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. As violence continues, Mr Serraj told the BBC his people were starting to feel abandoned by the world. He said failure to support his internationally recognised government could “lead to other consequences”, citing the risk of the Islamic State group capitalising on the instability. … On Thursday, his administration accused France of supporting Gen Haftar, saying it would sever any “bilateral security agreements” with Paris as a result. But France has denied allegations of “relentless backing” for the general, whose Libyan National Army (LNA) say they are aiming to restore security in the country. BBC

Uganda’s Top Court Upholds Ruling to Remove Presidential Age Caps
Uganda’s top court Thursday upheld a decision to scrap presidential age limits, paving the way for the country’s 74-year-old leader, Yoweri Museveni, to seek a sixth term in office. The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by Museveni’s opponents, who had appealed against a ruling by the constitutional court that removed an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders. “This appeal therefore fails,” Chief Justice Bart Katureebe declared in handing down the court’s majority 4-3 verdict. The East African

Mali Government Resigns After Massacre
Mali’s prime minister and his whole government resigned Thursday, four weeks after a massacre of some 160 Fulani herders by an ethnic vigilante group shocked the nation. “The president accepts the resignation of the prime minister and that of the members of government,” a statement from President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita’s office said. It gave no reason for the departure of Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga, but legislators had discussed Wednesday a possible motion of no confidence in the government because of the massacre and failure to disarm militias or beat back Islamist militants. VOA

Anger in Gambia as the Extent of Jammeh-Era Corruption and Brutality Surfaces
Rows of Bentleys, Rolls Royces and at least one black Humvee fill the garage of the presidendtial palace in Banjul. Although rarely used, they’re polished every other day. The luxury cars with the VIP plates are relics of a regime that ruled The Gambia over two decades, a regime now under close scrutiny. Ex-strongman Yahya Jammeh amassed a fortune while the people of the small West African state went without even the basics. As the extent of his alleged dirty dealings and human rights violations now comes to the surface, public anger is rising. The Gambia is confronting its past under his leadership between the mid-1990s and 2017, and people are convinced that Jammeh has gotten off scot-free. DW

Nigeria’s Chief Justice Banned from Holding Public Office
Nigeria’s top judge has been sacked by a tribunal that found him guilty of falsely declaring his assets. Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was banned from office for 10 years on Thursday and ordered to forfeit any assets he could not account for to the state. Onnoghen’s suspension in January by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, just weeks before a presidential election, prompted allegations of interference in judicial matters. The chief justice holds a key role in determining the outcome of Nigerian elections if the results are appealed by a candidate and a tribunal is formed. A request to remove the chief justice usually requires the approval of two-thirds of the Senate, but Buhari did not follow that process.Onnoghen was tried for failing to divulge cash in five foreign bank accounts in contravention of rules governing the declaration of assets by public officials. Al Jazeera

South Africa Faces Escalating Unrest if ANC Doesn’t Reform, Opposition Says
South Africa faces escalating unrest if the governing African National Congress (ANC) party retains power in next month’s election and fails to introduce major reforms, the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party said on Thursday. In the most hotly contested election since the end of apartheid in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa is hoping to reverse a slide in support for the ANC, which has won every general election since Nelson Mandela swept to power in 1994. Reuters

Kenya Issues Cholera Alert in Five Counties as 6 People Die
The Kenyan Government has raised a cholera alert in the five counties of Narok, Kajiado, Nairobi, Garissa and Machakos with six deaths reported since January. The Health ministry said suspected cases have been recorded in the five counties and linked the surge to the current water shortage in the country. A regional cholera outbreak update by the Unicef indicates the five counties have positively captured 72 cases of the infectious disease and six deaths between January 1 to April 16. … The confirmation by the ministry comes as the Nairobi Hospital confirmed that 52 staff members were infected with the disease since it broke out last week. The government is in talks with distributors of anti-cholera supplies comprising pharmaceutical, non-pharmaceutical and laboratory diagnostic support to facilitate timely confirmation and effective case management. Business Daily

Cyclone Idai: Zimbabweans rally to Help Each Other
[…] “When you are hanging off a cliff at the end of a rope, there isn’t anyone to call,” said Doug van der Ruit, a Chimanimani timber farmer who was one of a disparate group of people who led the first cyclone relief efforts. With low expectations and little trust in government, Zimbabweans took matters into their own hands after Cyclone Idai clawed the mountainous Chimanimani area with 190km/hr winds and 1,000mm of rain, bringing floods and mudslides that cut swathes through settlements and washed away bridges, cut out electricity and with it, cellular communication. Those who survived looked upon an altered landscape. Rocks and mud covered the ground where houses used to stand, and bodies and parts of bodies were scattered amidst the debris downriver. Not only was there no electricity and no cellular signal, there was initially no way in and no way out. Van der Ruit was one of the first people to organise relief efforts in the first week after the cyclone struck on Friday 15 March. GroundUp

Africa Rising: The Art Scene on the African Continent is Thriving
A new generation of women and men are spurring change by starting businesses, organizing innovative projects, and inspiring important conversations. A continent rich in resources, and people are the richest resource of all; it is a youthful and growing population with a contemporary mindset and definitive African roots. Extending far beyond the confines of canvas and the studio, the fibers of contemporary African art interweave with the patterns, textiles, and sands of the past. Together, they voice a complex multi-thread story that is mirrored in the landscapes of the voluptuous continent that they narrate. Viewed as a panoramic whole—from the creative hotspots of South Africa, the thriving music scene in Mali, the vibrant fashion community in Dakar to the myriad of art galleries in Lagos—there is a cohesive and powerful sense of change in the air. Newsweek



Photo: Adam Jones