Africa Media Review for April 2, 2019

Algeria’s President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to Step Down by 28 April
After two decades in office, Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has announced that he will step down before his current term ends on 28 April, after a succession of loyalists deserted the ailing leader. Hundreds of thousands of Algerians have taken to the streets in weekly protests which began in late February when Bouteflika launched his bid for a fifth term in office. Bouteflika, who is 82 and in poor health, has recently lost support from his own allies. Last week the coalition ally of Algeria’s ruling party called for him to resign, piling pressure on the president after the military chief also demanded he be declared unfit for office.  The Guardian

Algerians Celebrate Bouteflika Departure but Remain Vigilant
Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is to resign before his mandate expires on 28 April, according to his office. The president will take “steps to ensure state institutions continue to function during the transition period,” said the statement carried by the official APS news agency. “It is a first victory, but it is not over,” says Zoheir Rouis, secretary general of the liberal Jil Jadid (New Generation) opposition party. “The voice of the people has been heard,” he told RFI following weeks of mass protests. “Now we must go further.” On Monday night, Bouteflika’s office announced that he would resign before the end of his term on 28 April after a succession of loyalists deserted him, ending his 20-year rule.  RFI

Seven Algerian Businessmen Investigated for Corruption: Ennahar TV
Algerian authorities have seized the passports of seven businessmen under investigation over corruption allegations, the private Ennahar TV reported on Monday. On Sunday, authorities also arrested Ali Haddad, a leading Algerian businessman who was part of the inner circle of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been facing mass protests for more than a month to resign. Demonstrators in the North African country, an oil and gas producer, want a new generation of leaders to replace a ruling elite seen by many ordinary Algerians as out of touch and unable to jump-start a faltering economy hampered by cronyism. No details were immediately available on the reported arrests.  Reuters

EU Accused of Funding Project in Eritrea Using ‘Forced Labour’
Eritrean human rights activists have accused the EU of funding a scheme in Eritrea that uses “forced labour”. The EU is backing a road-building project as part of its programme to stem migration from Africa into Europe. National service recruits will be used and the Foundation Human Rights for Eritreans (FHRE) says conscripts are “trapped for an indefinite period within the service”. FHRE has threatened to sue the EU over violating its human rights charter. FHRE director Mulueberhan Temelso has called Eritrea an “open-air prison [where] every person in national service is trapped in extremely harsh conditions”.  BBC

Is Ethiopian PM Abiy’s Reform Drive Running Out of Steam?
Abiy Ahmed came to power a year ago in a country on the brink of collapse. Hailed as a great reformer by his supporters, Abiy’s critics say he is not acting fast enough to turn the tide. […] Merera Gudina, chairman of the multi-ethnic opposition party Medrek and professor of political science and international relations at Addis Ababa University, thinks Abiy deserves top marks for amending repressive legislation covering anti-terrorism, civil society and the media. However, he says a roadmap for elections in 2020 and other political issues has not been established and laments a “lack of national consensus among political parties.” […] inter-communal conflict has been escalating, leading to the displacement of about three million people. Critics say Abiy’s administration is not reacting quickly enough.  Deutsche Welle

Mali Warns of More Turmoil If UN Cuts Peacekeeping Forces
Government leaders in Mali have warned of a greater turmoil than the country is already in if the United Nations reduces its peacekeeping force. The mandate of the mission is due for renewal in June. But Canadian and Dutch peacekeepers, who form part of the 16,000-strong force, are already going home. Al Jazeera’s Nicolas Haque reports from Gao, where he joins one of the UN’s last missions as they pull out of territory regularly attacked by fighters linked to al-Qaeda.  Al Jazeera

Niger: Counting the Dead, Waiting for Justice
Alhamdou Issalak has spent the last year counting the violent deaths in his community, one of those worst affected by the growing number of armed attacks in western Niger – part of a rising tide of militancy sweeping across the Sahel region from Mali to Burkina Faso. The “catastrophe”, as the vice-mayor of the town of Inatès in the Tillabéri region calls it, began with the killing of two of his friends in May 2018. “From then to early November, 57 people were killed [around Inatès] by armed groups,” Issalak said. “About 14,000 displaced found shelter in my municipality, while thousands of animals have been stolen to fund these same groups.”  The New Humanitarian

Demands for Nigeria to Scrap Special Police Unit
Amnesty International is demanding Monday the immediate scrapping of a police special crime unit because of rights violations and corruption. Criticism came as reports emerged of the death late Sunday of Kolade Johnson from a “stray” bullet allegedly fired by an officer of the Special Anti Robbery Squad, or SARS. Kolade was reportedly going to watch a football match at a public viewing center when the bullet hit him. His death triggered fierce online protests across Nigeria. The hashtags #EndSARS and #EndPoliceBrutality has been the top trending topics across the country. Anadolu Agency

Sudan Protest Demands ‘Legitimate’ but Caused Deaths: Bashir
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Monday acknowledged that the demands of anti-government protesters were “legitimate” but said they had been expressed unlawfully causing several deaths. Protests have rocked the country since December, with demonstrators calling on the veteran leader to step down. They accuse Bashir’s government of mismanaging the country’s economy leading to soaring food prices and regular shortages of fuel and foreign currency. “The economic crisis has impacted a wide section of our people,” Bashir told lawmakers in his first speech to parliament since a state of emergency he imposed on February 22 to quell the protests.  AFP

Refugees from Sudan Putting Pressure on Egypt
Conflict and political unrest in Africa has forced thousands of people to flee their homelands in the hope of finding better lives. Many Sudanese and their families have sought refuge across the border in Egypt. But the large number of refugees is placing a strain on Egypt’s resources. […] Nour Khalil is a lawyer and represents immigrants living in Egypt. Khalil says the refugee crisis there is even worse than official reports suggest. Tens of thousands of Syrians, Yemenis, Ethiopians, Eritreans and Libyans have left their countries because of the many conflicts in the area. Many of these individuals are not officially registered with the U.N. refugee agency, the UNHCR. At a recent gathering of heads of state and government from Europe and Africa, Egypt’s president said that his country is heavily burdened by the millions of refugees living there. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi added that Egypt has “prevented boat-loads of refugees from leaving its territory for Europe since 2016.”  VOA

Ahead of Trump Meeting, Egypt’s Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi Seeks to Consolidate Power
The White House confirmed that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is to meet President Trump at the White House on April 9. The invitation to the White House was offered amid a deepening crackdown on human rights and a further erosion of the rule of law in Egypt, nearly six years after al-Sisi ousted President Mohammad Morsi. The White House visit comes as Egypt is facing yet another inflection point that could further ensconce al Sisi in power. At issue are a series of constitutional amendments that would effectively make al Sisi president for life and create what analyst Amy Hawthorne calls a “personalist dictatorship.” Amy Hawthorne is the deputy director for research at the Project on Middle East Democracy and co-author of a recent Foreign Policy piece on the current tumult in Egyptian politics.. After years of crackdowns on political opposition, she explains why Egyptian politics is poised to enter a potentially more dangerous phase.  UN Dispatch

South Africa Addresses Increasing Xenophobic Attacks
South Africa’s President vows to come down hard on anyone who has attacked foreigners during last week’s bout of xenophobic violence in Kwazulu natal province in which 3 people were killed.Algeria’s ailing president vows to step down before April 28th. But Bouteflika has not given a date after weeks of protests against his 20 year rule.Home is where the art is. Private homes in the Unesco heritage site of Goree island in Senegal open their doors to visitors.  France 24

US, Nigeria, Other Countries Train Navies in Gulf of Guinea
The United States Navy and 33 other countries recently carried out weeks of maritime training in the Gulf of Guinea, to improve safety against pirates and to improve the monitoring of the West Africa coastline. The Obangame Express training exercise, in its ninth year, this year included 2,500 personnel, 95 ships and 12 aircraft, with the participation of countries in West Africa, Europe and North America. Adm. James G. Foggo III, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples said that in West Africa the Gulf of Guinea is crucial to economic development because economic prosperity is tied to the maritime domain. He said the maritime countries of the region need strong, professional military and law enforcement institutions that can allow maritime trade to flourish.  AP

Hunger Stalks Mozambique after Deadly Cyclone Destroys Farmland
Fulai Joaquim has enough food to feed his 10 children for another week, maybe two. Then, he says, it is in the hands of God. A cyclone ripped his cassava crop from the ground, leaving the roots to rot in the field, and the floods that followed washed away his maize. “There have been a lot of tears,” said Joaquim, 45, as he trudged past the small plots of land that hug the mud and stick homes of Nhampuepua, also destroyed by the storm. “Everyone is hungry.” Hundreds of rural communities were plunged into food crisis after Cyclone Idai tore through central Mozambique on March 14, humanitarian workers say. The government estimates that more than 700,000 hectares of agricultural land was flooded, leaving many farmers with nothing to harvest.  Reuters

WHO: Congo Ebola Outbreak Spreading Faster than Ever
Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ebola outbreak is spreading at its fastest rate yet, eight months after it was first detected, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. Each of the past two weeks has registered a record number of new cases, marking a sharp setback for efforts to respond to the second biggest outbreak ever, as militia violence and community resistance have impeded access to affected areas. Less than three weeks ago, the WHO said the outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever was largely contained and could be stopped by September, noting that weekly case numbers had halved from earlier in the year to about 25.  VOA

Senegal-Born Sibeth Ndiaye Named Spokeswoman of French Govt
French President Emmanuel Macron has appointed his Senegalese-born media advisor as government spokeswoman, one of three new faces for his cabinet as it gears up for the European Parliament elections next month. Sibeth Ndiaye, a 39-year-old born in Dakar, only obtained French citizenship in 2016 while working as a communications advisor for Macron’s presidential campaign. She replaces Benjamin Griveaux, whose resignation last week came ahead of a run for Paris mayor next year. […] After growing up with a politician father and a mother who was president of Senegal’s Constitutional Council, Ndiaye moved to Paris to study at university and became a leftwing student activist before joining the Socialist Party in 2002.  Africa News

Israel Inaugurates Embassy in Rwanda
Israel on Monday opened an embassy in Rwanda, its 11th diplomatic mission in Africa, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. In a Monday statement, it said that Foreign Ministry Director-General Yuval Rotem had “inaugurated the Israeli embassy in Rwandan capital Kigali in a symbol of Israel’s return to Africa”. The move, the statement added, “reflects Israel’s policy of returning to Africa, which was articulated three years ago by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after which he visited the continent on four separate occasions and established diplomatic relations with Chad and Guinea”.  Anadolu Agency

Algerian Unrest a Potential Threat to Cuban Coffers
Cuba faces yet another threat to its exports of health services in exchange for oil and money as social unrest roils old friend Algeria, even as a new deal to mitigate declining support from crisis-racked Venezuela kicks in. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika will resign before his mandate ends on April 28, state news agency APS said on Monday, after more than a month of mass protests and army pressure seeking an end to his 20-year rule. An estimated million protesters had filled the capital Algiers on Friday demanding the ruling elite and aging leaders of the struggle against French colonialism step aside as a movement that is reminiscent of the Arab Spring grows.  VOA



Photo: Adam Jones