Africa Media Review for April 23, 2019

The African Union Wavers between Reform and More of the Same
The African Union’s ability to respond effectively to political crises has been hampered by institutional challenges, dating back to well before it was established to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 2002. Intended to address some of the OAU’s inadequacies, the reforms that laid the foundation of the AU were rooted in the findings of a special OAU panel that investigated the circumstances leading to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the reasons the international community failed to act sooner, and the institutional gaps that eventually prevented a coherent response from the OAU and the United Nations. In response to the panel’s findings, the new AU undertook three major reforms. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Ugandan Police Detain Bobi Wine and Fire Teargas at Supporters
Ugandan police have detained the pop star turned MP Bobi Wine after shutting down one of his concerts and firing teargas at his fans, according to the singer’s wife and his supporters. The high-profile government critic was pulled from his car by baton-wielding police as he tried to make his way to the concert venue in southern Kampala on Monday, they said. The much-anticipated show at his private club on the shores of Lake Victoria was cancelled on Sunday by police, who sealed off roads to the venue citing safety concerns. Wine tried to reach the location on Monday but clashes broke out as his supporters threw stones and police responded with teargas and water cannon.  The Guardian

Sudan Opposition Party Declines to Join Interim Gov’t
The National Umma Party (NUP) led by prominent politician Sadiq al-Mahdi has said it would not take part in a transitional government, calling on Sudan’s ruling Military Transitional Council (MTC) to relinquish power to a civilian authority. “Our people remain in the streets, determined to realize the demands of their revolution,” the NUP said in a Monday statement. The party also accused the MTC of “trying to replicate the former regime” of ousted President Omar al-Bashir, who was “removed” by the army earlier this month. In support of its assertions, the NUP said the ruling MTC was “dragging its feet in regard to the transfer of power to a civilian government”. Anadolu Agency

Sudan’s Military Warns Protesters to Clear Barricades as Talks Break Down
Tensions are rising between Sudan’s military and protesters who have held a weeks-long sit-in around army headquarters in Khartoum. The protesters have vowed to stay until the country returns to civilian rule. Sudan’s transitional military council on Monday warned protesters it plans to clear the streets around the defense ministry. Meanwhile, protesters called for an even bigger demonstration raising the risk of confrontation. After weekend talks with protest leaders broke down, the military council issued a statement calling for barricades around the sit-in, which started April 6, to be immediately removed.  VOA

Sudan Protesters to Saudi Arabia, UAE: ‘Please Keep Your Money’
Sudanese protesters have called on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to “keep their money” a day after Riyadh and Abu Dhabi offered to send Khartoum $3bn aid. Hours after the oil-rich Gulf states made the announcement on Sunday, demonstrators at the sit-in outside Sudan’s military headquarters in the capital started chanting: “We don’t want Saudi support.” “They are lobbying and using money to try and control Sudan. We have enough resources to look after ourselves and our interests,” Adil Gasem Alseed, a trader, told Al Jazeera on Monday. “We can rebuild our country without their help. We say thank you, please keep your money,” the 52-year-old said.  Al Jazeera

Mali’s Keita Names Finance Minister as New PM
Mali President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita appointed finance minister Boubou Cisse as prime minister on Monday, days after the government resigned following pressure to respond to the vigilante massacre of about 160 Fulani herders which shocked the nation. Mali’s former prime minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga and his government resigned last week after they came under fire for failing to disarm militias and beat back Islamist militants stoking the violence that led to the Fulani massacre. “The President of the Republic has decided to name Doctor Boubou Cisse to the function of prime minister,” Keita’s office said in a statement on Monday.  Reuters

Kalashnikovs and No-Go Zones: East Burkina Faso Falls to Militants
When a stranger arrives in Bartiébougou, the Kalashnikov-wielding men in charge check his ID. But first they check his forehead. They are looking for the indent left by a beret – an instant indication he is a soldier and therefore an enemy spy. Like much of eastern Burkina Faso, the government has no control over what happens in Bartiébougou; local militants, backed by west African extremist groups, do. “They control the whole zone. The men have big motorbikes and they ride around with guns,” said a resident. “They’ve mined the whole area. If the military comes, they’ll tell people to attack them. The army doesn’t even try to come any more.”  The Guardian

Tripoli Chaos Closes In on the City’s Civilians
As fighting on the outskirts of Libya’s capital heads into its third week and shows no signs of abating, the casualty count is rising, some aid organisations are moving expatriate staff out of the country, and it’s only getting worse for civilians on the ground. “Humanitarian needs are growing by the day,” said Rabab al-Rifai, communication coordinator for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Libya. “A large-scale escalation of violence in an urban area like Tripoli, which counts over one million inhabitants, could have dramatic consequences. The situation in and around the city has evolved rapidly over the past two weeks, and fears of yet another protracted conflict are on the rise.”  The New Humanitarian

Egypt Hosts African Leaders Discussing Sudan Protests, Libya Crisis
African leaders are meeting in Egypt on Tuesday where they will address developments in Sudan and Libya, in the first emergency summits since the two nations were rocked by popular protests and an invasion on the capital respectively. In Sudan, protests that started in December last year continue even after the military toppled president Omar al-Bashir. In Libya, commander Khalifa Haftar is leading an offensive on Tripoli, with an aim of overthrowing the United Nations backed government. Sisi, who is the current president of the African Union, will receive the Chadian president Idriss Deby, Rwanda’s head of state Paul Kagame, Congo’s Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Somalia’s Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa as well as Dijbouti’s leader Ismail Omar Guelleh. Africa News

In Egypt Referendum, Only the Turnout Seems in Doubt
The message blared from social media videos, from banners too big to miss, and from the upbeat Election Day songs playing so boisterously on jumbo speakers that they drowned out the nonstop honking of Cairo traffic: “Do the right thing. Vote.”On many of banners, a green checkmark next to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s image demonstrated the proper way to vote. But even if not all of the messaging was explicit, it was clear enough what doing the “right thing” meant: Voting “yes.” […] The question was less whether the amendments would pass but more whether a high turnout would allow the authorities to cast them as broadly popular.“An election that has more participation is an election that looks more legitimate,” said Mai El-Sadany, the legal and judicial director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington.“You’re seeing the state, all of its apparatuses and its allies working toward both getting people to the street and getting people to vote ‘yes,’” Ms. El-Sadany added. “On the flip side, you’re not seeing a space for the ‘no’ vote to mobilize.”  The New York Times

Algeria: 5 Billionaires Arrested as Part of Anti-Corruption Drive
Algerian authorities have arrested five billionaires as part of an anti-corruption investigation, State TV reported. Issad Rebrab, the founder and chairman of Cevital, Algeria’s biggest privately held company, was arrested on Monday alongside four brothers from the Kouninef family. Reda, Abdelkader, Karim and Tarek Kouninef are believed to be part of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s inner circle while Rebrab, owner of the critical Liberte newspaper, opposed the president’s 2014 re-election. Rebrab denied the arrest in a tweet shortly after the announcement was made, saying he voluntarily answered the police’s call to give evidence on a case involving industrial equipment which authorities had seized from him in June 2018. Al Jazeera

Wit and Grit: Algeria’s Sizeable Youth Lead Fight for Change
They’re on the peaceful front line of the protest movement that toppled Algeria’s longtime ruler, facing down water cannons with attitude, memes — and fearless calls for shampoo. Oil-rich Algeria is one of the most youthful countries in the world with two-thirds of the population under 30. They are politically engaged, educated, on social media and funny. And they initiated nationwide protests in mid-February that toppled the only leader they’ve ever known — former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in power since 1999. A quarter of these under-30s are out of work, creating a deep well of frustration against the North African country’s veteran rulers and the policies that have left them behind.  AP

Burundi Pushing for SADC Membership
Burundi says it will be ready to meet with a Southern African Development Community (SADC) team in May to evaluate its readiness to join the 16-member organisation as Bujumbura presses for membership. Burundian Foreign Affairs Minister Ezechiel Nibigira last week visited the chair of the SADC Summit, Namibian President Hage Geingob, the East African reported. In 2017, Burundi and Comoros applied for membership in SADC, but after scrutiny, Burundi’s application was put on hold as Comoros became the 16th member of the regional bloc. Burundi’s application was assessed by the Inter-state Politics and Diplomacy Committee of SADC’s organ on politics, defence and security co-operation. The committee subsequently ruled out admission, citing instability in the East African country. African News Agency

Madagascar President Announces Constitutional Referendum
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina has called a May 27 referendum on changing the constitution, to do away with the country’s Senate and give more powers to the regions. Rajoelina made both issues part of his campaign platform in the run-up to his election in December. A statement issued over the weekend announced the referendum to change the constitution, which he himself introduced in 2010 during his first term as president. The date set is the same on which the country will vote in legislative elections, in what the official statement said was designed to cut the “exorbitant costs” of holding them separately. France 24

Kenya Begins Early Campaign in Bid to Win Seat on UN Security Council
Kenya has intensified lobbying among peers to gain a seat on the UN Security Council. The seat will provide an avenue “to our rightful place as a responsible member state of the united states”, it argues. Ahead of the official launch for the bid in June, Kenya has been lobbying peers in the African Union to support Nairobi’s campaign to focus on issues affecting the developing world. At state events, Kenyan officials have lobbied visiting dignitaries and made the same plea during President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visits abroad.  The East African

Africa Begins World’s Biggest Anti-Malaria Vaccine Campaign
Some 360,000 children a year in three African countries are to receive a powerful anti-malaria drug as part of a pilot project to help reduce the incidence of the deadly disease. Malawi on Tuesday is the first country to begin the use of the mosquirix vaccine as part of routine childhood immunization programs. Ghana and Kenya are expected to start large-scale vaccinations next week. Mosquirix — the brand name for RTS,S — triggers the immune system to defend against the first stages of the infectious disease shortly after the malaria parasite enters the bloodstream through a mosquito bite.  Deutsche Welle

The Killing of a Cameroonian WHO Doctor Is Another Setback in DR Congo’s Ebola Battle
The killing of a Cameroonian doctor is a chilling reminder of the difficulties health workers face as they combat the Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Dr Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization (WHO), was killed in an attack on Apr. 19 at the university hospital in Butembo in DRC’s North Kivu Province. Two others were injured. His body was flown back home to Cameroon where he is survived by a wife and four young children the WHO said. Quartz

Tunisia, the Safest Country for Journalists in the Maghreb
Tunisia has been ranked the safest country for journalists in north Africa and the middle east by the 2019 World Press Freedom Index report. “Tunisia is the exception and continues its democratic transition process. It has admittedly made a remarkable improvement of 25 places, but still faces innumerable challenges especially in relation to the legislative framework,” said Souhaieb Khayati, RSF head of North Africa office. Tunisia not only ranked first in its region it moved by 15 slots to rank 72 in the world. Meanwhile Syria (174th) continues to be extremely dangerous for media personnel. Africa News



Photo: Adam Jones