Africa Media Review for April 22, 2019

Sudanese Protesters Leaders Suspend Talks with Military Council
Organizers of Sudan’s protests said Sunday they have suspended talks with the ruling military council because it has failed to meet their demands for an immediate transfer to a civilian government following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir. The organizers of Sudan’s protests said Sunday they have suspended talks with the ruling military council because it has failed to meet their demands for an immediate transfer to a civilian government following the overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir. Mohammed al-Amin Abdel Aziz, a spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association, said Sunday that the political committee of the military council is too close to al-Bashir, who has been jailed in the capital, Khartoum. “The military council is delaying its response to our proposals, saying that they are considering proposals from all political forces,” he said. France 24

Sudanese Authorities Arrest Members of Bashir’s Party -Source
Sudanese authorities have arrested several top members of the former ruling party of ousted President Omar al-Bashir, in a move that could bolster military rulers who are under mounting pressure by protesters to hand power to civilians. In another part of a widening crackdown designed to remove remnants of Bashir’s rule, the transitional military council (TMC) said it will retire all eight of the officers ranked lieutenant general in the National Intelligence and Security Service. Opposition groups had demanded that the security agencies be restructured. Sudan’s public prosecutor has begun investigating Bashir on charges of money laundering and possession of large sums of foreign currency without legal grounds, a judicial source said earlier on Saturday. Reuters

More than £100M in Cash Found at Ousted Sudanese Leader’s Home
Suitcases packed with more than £100m have been found by security services at the home of Sudan’s ousted president, it has been reported. Omar al-Bashir is now being investigated over alleged money laundering after the hoard of cash – in US dollars, euros and Sundanese pounds – was discovered while he was under house arrest. He has since been transferred to capital Khartoum’s notorious Kobar high-security prison, Reuters reports. The revelation came as the new ruling military junta – led by army lieutenant general Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan – announced on Saturday that several senior members of Mr al-Bashir’s former ruling party had been arrested.  The Independent

Sudan Delegation to Visit US to Discuss Removal from Terror List
A Sudanese delegation is expected to visit the United States for talks aimed at getting Sudan removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan’s army ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in his first interview on state television since taking power, said the delegation could travel as soon as “this week or next week for discussions.” The U.S. government added Sudan to its terrorism list in 1993 over allegations that then-President Omar al-Bashir’s government was supporting terrorism. Bashir was ousted earlier this month by the military after three decades in power. In 2017, the United States lifted its 20-year-old trade embargo imposed on Sudan, but it left Sudan on its state sponsors of terrorism list along with Iran, Syria and North Korea. VOA

Attackers Kill 12 Mali Soldiers in Major Attack on Military Base
Fighters killed at least 12 soldiers in an attack on Sunday in central Mali. The military outpost at Guire was attacked at about 5am, a source told AFP news agency. “The terrorists came out of the forest. They were on motorcycles and pick-up trucks. They burned vehicles and took away others,” said the source, who asked not to be named. “The new toll is at least 12 dead, including the post commander, a captain.” The Mali armed forces confirmed the attack on Twitter, without saying how many soldiers had been killed. They said reinforcements were sent to the Nara sector, about 370km north of the capital, Bamako. A local resident said there had been heavy gunfire and the military was “taken by surprise” in the attack. Al Jazeera

Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad, Niger Deploy Troops After Fresh Attack
The Multi-National Joint Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin Commission made up of forces from Cameroon, Nigeria, Chad and Niger, has deployed troops after suspected Boko Haram terrorists attacked Cameroon killing at least 13 people and leaving hundreds homeless. Cameroon has been asking its people to collaborate with the military, stating that more attacks will be reported during Ramadan, expected in a few weeks. It is a very quiet and deserted Tchakarmari village on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria with carcasses of animals and torched houses reminding visitors of a sad event. Resident Abba Malloum says the village of more than 400 people was reduced to ashes by Boko Haram fighters who came from neighboring Nigeria on the late Thursday night.  VOA

Congo Court Annuls Sentence for Exiled Opposition Leader
A lawyer for Congo opposition leader Moise Katumbi says a court has annulled his three-year prison sentence, enabling him to return from exile in Belgium. The Court of Cassation, or supreme court of appeals, made the judgment Friday, saying that Katumbi can enter Congo a free man. Lawyer Jean Joseph Mukendi said the court found fraud in the sentencing. Congo’s government issued an arrest warrant last year against Katumbi, who had been a leading presidential contender before fleeing Congo in May 2016 after falling out with former President Joseph Kabila and as prosecutors announced they would try him on charges of hiring mercenaries, which he denied. AP

ISIS, after Laying Groundwork, Gains Toehold in Congo
Just over a year ago, Congolese troops found a book written in Arabic on the body of an enemy combatant.The book was from the Islamic State’s Research and Studies Office, a department of the terrorist group’s now-defunct state in Syria and Iraq that issued doctrinal texts buttressing its brutal worldview. The discovery of the book in the spring of 2018 was among a number of clues indicating that the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, was trying to establish a toehold in the lawless jungles of eastern Congo. On Thursday, the Islamic State’s news agency claimed the group’s first attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo, stating that its soldiers had assaulted a military barracks in the area of Beni, killing eight people. The attack took place in a region beset by violence in a part of the world long outside government control, the kind of terrain that has proved to be fertile ground for ISIS. If the group succeeds in planting its flag here, it would not only expand its reach into a new part of the continent, but it would also do so far outside the grasp of international forces. The New York Times

Algiers Court Summons Former PM Ouyahia in Public Waste Probe – State TV
An Algerian court has summoned former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and current Finance Minister Mohamed Loukal, two close associates of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in a probe into the wasting of public money, state TV said on Saturday. They are being investigated over “dissipation of public money” and “illegal privilege,” state TV said. No other details were immediately available. The move comes after army chief, Lieutenant General Gaid Salah, said last week he expected members of the ruling elite in the major oil and natural gas-producing country to be prosecuted for corruption. Bouteflika stepped down two weeks ago after 20 years in power, bowing to pressure from the army and weeks of demonstrations mainly by young people seeking change in the country. Reuters

Explosions in Tripoli Suburb after Air Raid, Death Toll Rises
Explosions rocked Libya’s capital Tripoli following air raids in an escalation of a two-week offensive by eastern forces on the city held by the internationally recognised government. Powerful blasts, believed to be caused by air strikes, were reported on Sunday across Tripoli’s southern districts, with residents saying they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the city before opening fire on a southern district. It is unclear whether an unmanned drone or fighter jet was behind the air attack. Residents reported drone attacks in the past days, but there has been no confirmation. They said explosions heard in the city centre this time were louder than in previous days.  Al Jazeera

After Years of Repression, Ethiopia’s Media Is Free — and Fanning the Flames of Ethnic Tension
From a collection of modest offices in a half-empty high rise, one of Ethiopia’s most prominent journalists publishes his weekly paper with a staff of just four. The country has imprisoned U.S.-educated Eskinder Nega multiple times, most recently for six years. But under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government, he and some dozen other jailed journalists have been released and are free to write. His new weekly Ethiopis takes a strident tone, especially against the city administration and activists from Ethiopia’s Oromo ethnic group, newly empowered by their fellow Oromo, Abiy. He sees his paper and his activism as part of his long struggle for democracy. Others see it as a danger to Ethiopia’s delicate political state and as part of a wave of news outlets that are taking sides and worsening tensions in the country’s many conflicts. […] Ethiopia has been a rare bright spot of increased rights and democracy on a continent more known for leaders overstaying their mandates. Its progress in media freedom — there are no longer any imprisoned journalists — has been so dramatic that it was chosen to host World Press Freedom Day next month. The Washington Post

Guinea Transfers Oversight of State Mining Company to Presidency
The office of Guinean President Alpha Conde is assuming oversight of the West African nations state-owned mining company in a move that will hand him more authority over the country’s holdings in some of worlds biggest bauxite deposits. The Presidency will take command of Societe Guinnéenne du Patrimoine Minier, known by its French acronym Soguipami, from the mines ministry, according to a decree read Friday on state broadcaster Radio Television Guinéene. Soguipami holds a 49 percent stake in Compagnie des Bauxites de Guinee and 10 percent of Societe Miniere de Boke, according a summary of the company’s holdings published on its website. […] Condes move to exert more control over Guineas mining holdings comes after the nation overtook Australia as the largest supplier of bauxite to China, accounting for almost half of the Asian nations imports of the aluminum-making ingredient in 2018. Conde is due to step down in 2020 after two five-year terms, but his refusal to address any questions about his succession has fueled speculation he may try to extend his mandate. Bloomberg

Egyptians Vote in Snap Referendum on Keeping Sisi in Power
Polling stations across Cairo filled with people as Egyptians voted in a snap referendum expected to allow President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to remain in power until 2030. Six people told the Guardian that they had been bussed to the polls from working-class areas, and given bags of food in exchange for their vote. Amid a subdued atmosphere on the streets of downtown Cairo, banners lined the streets telling citizens to vote to confirm the changes. A lone banner from the Egyptian Conservative party hung above one central square, stating that it “rejected the constitutional amendments,” which also increased Sisi’s control over the judiciary and expanded the military’s role in politics. Gun-toting soldiers and members of the security services watched over polling stations, accompanied by teenagers wearing T-shirts bearing the logo of the “do the right thing” campaign, set up to encourage citizens to vote, often in favour of the changes. The campaign’s logo was visible on dozens of microbuses lining the streets around polling stations in central Cairo, where voters said the buses had brought them from working-class neighbourhoods surrounding the capital. A recent change to election regulations allowed Egyptians to vote anywhere in the country, not just their local area.  The Guardian

South Sudanese Rebels Call for 6-Month Delay to Start Peace Deal
South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar, proposed that implementation of a transitional government in which he will serve be delayed to allow for all pre-conditions to be met. The transitional arrangement, part of a peace deal meant to end five years of civil war, partly by expanding the government to include the opposition, should enter into force six months after the original starting date in May, Machars group said in a statement. Machar would return as vice president, a position he held previously. The extension, according to the group, would allow admitting opposition forces into the army, agreeing on regional boundaries, putting in place a security detail that all sides are confident in, providing financial resources for the process and releasing prisoners of war, according to the statement. The transitional authority can be in place for 30 rather than 36 months as earlier proposed, the group said. Bloomberg

River of Dollars Flowing from South Sudan into Kenya, Uganda
Kenya and Uganda have failed to stop the flow of illicit money through their economies and are now facing the risk of blacklisting by global financial regulators, a new report says. The report by Kenya’s Institute of Economic Affairs says Nairobi and Kampala have become East Africa’s illicit financial flow (IFFs) capitals that receive or process billions of dollars in stolen funds from South Sudan, fuelling inflation at home and financing civil war in the world’s youngest nation. The loot, which comes from South Sudanese government officials and military top brass, is deepening Juba’s political and humanitarian crises, IEA says. Well-connected Kenyan and Ugandan businessmen have kept South Sudan’s money laundering machine alive with a regular supply of US dollars to the blackmarket and by moving the proceeds to home countries for investment in other sectors of the economy, the brief says, adding that “some of the money made from manipulation of foreign currency controls is ultimately reinvested in the two countries.”  The East African

Thousands Protest in Morocco Demanding Release of Jailed Activists
Thousands of Moroccans staged a march on Sunday in downtown Rabat to demand the release of activists who led protests over economic and social problems in the northern Rif region in late 2016 and 2017. Two weeks ago, an appeals court in Casablanca upheld 20-year prison sentences against Nasser Zefzafi, Nabil Ahamjik, Ouassim Boustati and Samir Ighid on charges including undermining public order and threatening national unity. Another 35 activists were jailed for between two and 15 years and one received a one-year suspended sentence. Carrying flags of the Amazigh community and pictures of jailed activists, participants in the march chanted “Freedom, dignity and social justice”, “Long live the Rif”, and “The people want immediate release of Rif detainees.”  Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones