Africa Media Review for April 24, 2019

African Union Gives Sudan’s Military Three Months to Transfer Power to Civil Rule
African Union leaders Tuesday have given Sudan’s transitional military council three months to achieve power transfer to civilian rule stressing that this delay should not be prolonged. The meeting convened by the Egyptian Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who is also the Chairperson of the African Union in Cairo attended by the leaders of Chad, Djibouti, Somalia, South Africa, Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister, head of African Union Commission, foreign ministers and presidential envoys of Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan and Uganda. The meeting was held on the backdrop of a two-week delay given to the Sudanese military council by the Peace and Security of the African Union to hand over power to civilian rule. The consultative meeting was briefed by Moussa Faki chairperson of the AU commission and who was in a two-day visit in Khartoum to assess the situation and met with the Sudanese stakeholders.  Sudan Tribune

Hundreds Ride ‘Freedom Train’ from Atbara to Khartoum
Hundreds of people have ridden on what activists call the ‘freedom train’, from the headquarter of the Sudanese Railways in Atbara, River Nile state, to the capital Khartoum, to swell the sit-in outside the General Command of the Sudanese army, and to provide those already at the sit-in with food and supplies. It began with a protest outside the railway headquarters in Atbara on Sunday, where demonstrators demanded accountability from all corrupt officials in the company. Atbara was the site of the earliest protests in mid-December 2018, which would grow into the current countrywide mass movement. On Sunday, the crowd then commandeered a train, which set-off southwards along the line that follows the Nile for 350 kilometres to Khartoum, laden with demonstrators and supplies destined for the thousands of protesters who have maintained a sit-in in the Sudanese capital since April 6.  Radio Dabanga

Sudanese Militia Commander Waits in Wings after President Ousted
When Omar Hassan al-Bashir wanted protection from rivals during his long rule as president of Sudan, he turned to Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a commander of widely feared Arab militias. General Dagalo, who goes by the nickname Hemedti, could soon become the most powerful man in Sudan himself following the military coup that ousted his old ally on April 11, Western diplomats and opponents say. Hemedti has played down his political ambitions. But as deputy head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) set up by the military to run Sudan for up to two years until elections, he has become the second most powerful man in the country. The Western envoys and opposition figures, who spoke to Reuters on condition on anonymity, say Hemedti is hungry for more power, and that he helped force out Bashir after 30 years in office because he has set his sights on the presidency. Reuters

Egyptians Approve Reform Allowing Sisi to Remain President until 2030
Nearly 90 percent of Egyptians who voted in a constitutional referendum backed amendments that could see President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi stay in power until 2030, the election commission announced Tuesday. Voter turnout was 44.33 percent, the commission chairman said, adding that 88.83 percent of the voters had approved the amendments. The amendments also bolster the role of the military and expand the president’s power over judicial appointments. The constitutional changes were approved by parliament earlier this month. “These (changes) are effective from now as your constitution,” commission Chairman Lasheen Ibrahim said after he announced the result on state TV, adding that more than 23.4 million voters had endorsed the changes in the referendum. France 24

Algerian Military’s Patience Wearing Thin with Daily Protests
Algeria’s army chief of staff on Tuesday signaled a growing weariness with protesters demanding the removal of the country’s entire leadership, warning that attempts to block officials from doing their jobs wouldn’t be tolerated. The remarks by General Ahmed Gaid Salah appeared directed at demonstrators calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui and those opposed to the new interim president. Salah, who threw his influence behind the protesters and helped evict longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office, said authorities had also uncovered evidence of plots to derail the OPEC members transition to democracy.  Bloomberg

Algeria’s Army Chief Hails Judiciary for Anti-Graft Move
Algeria’s army chief said on Monday he welcomed an anti-graft drive against figures close to former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state TV reported, a day after the authorities announced the arrest of five business tycoons. Bouteflika quit on April 2 after mass protests against his two-decade rule, in which protesters accused him of allowing widespread corruption in the Algerian political elite. Army Chief Ahmed Gaid Salah played a role in Bouteflika’s resignation by calling for him to be removed from office, and has since called for a crackdown on corruption. On Monday state television reported the arrest of billionaire Issad Rebrab, chairman of the family-owned Cevital diversified conglomerate with big interests in sugar refining, ranked by Forbes as Algeria’s richest man. Four brothers from the wealthy Kouninef family were also arrested.  Reuters

Afrobarometer: ‘68% of Africans Don’t Think Their Vote Is Secret’
68% of Africans are not confident that their vote is secret, according to a new survey published by Afrobarometer, the continent’s leading polling organisation. “The vote is supposed to be secret, but increasingly we find that people are scared that authorities might find out how they vote,” said Boniface Dulani, a fieldwork operations manager for Afrobarometer. Levels of distrust were notably high in what are supposed to be some of the continent’s most established democracies. In Senegal, some 89% of respondents said they had to be cautious about how they vote in an election. In Kenya that figure is 80%; in Tanzania it is 79%. In South Africa, where elections are scheduled for May 8, it is 68%.  Mail and Guardian

Senior Al-Shabab Leader Defects, Surrenders to Somali Government
Somali officials say a senior al-Shabab official has defected from the group and surrendered to the Somali government in the southwestern Gedo region. Officials say Aden Abdi Mohamed known as “Aden Obe” surrendered Tuesday near the main Bardhere town. Aden Obe surrendered with another al-Shabab official identified as Food Aden Mohamoud who is described as a taxation official. Obe held various positions with al-Shabab, including Consultative Council member, and head of Social Affairs. Most recently, he worked for al-Shabab as head of logistics in Lower Jubba region, according to Somali officials. VOA

New Zim Bill ‘Copied’ from Mugabe-Era Security Law, Warns Watchdog
A new bill set to replace the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) gives the president of Zimbabwe, instead of the country’s defence minister, sole authority to deploy soldiers for civilian policing. Zimbabwe’s military emerged from their barracks twice to quell public riots – in August 2018 and January 2019. The deployment in 2018 ended with at least seven civilians dead and many more injured. A commission of inquiry was established by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, led by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, to investigate the 2018 shootings and establish who was responsible for the army’s actions. Prior to the commission undertaking its mandate, high court judge David Mangota ruled in a case brought before him in November 2018 that Mnangagwa had not deployed the army.  Times Live

Bobi Wine Is Detained Again as His Political Star Keeps Rising in Uganda
When a politician is a musician, concerts are de facto rallies, even when they’re cancelled. This is something Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has failed to understand when it comes to his most popular political opponent, Robert Kyagulanyi, known by his stage name Bobi Wine. The musician, popularly called the “Ghetto President” was again detained on Tuesday (Apr. 23), after Ugandan police accused him of failing to comply with safety precautions ahead of a concert on Monday (April 22). Police in helmets and armed with riot shields surrounded Wine’s One Love Beach Busaabala venue, and set up roadblocks along the way ahead of the event. […] Later, in a statement from his home, Wine vowed to peacefully stand up to the government’s repressive tactics. On Tuesday, police still parked outside of Wine’s home in Kampala informed the lawmaker that he was under house arrest. By detaining Wine again, Museveni’s government is unwittingly amplifying his position as a man of the people.  Quartz

Security Issues Dominate Tshisekedi’s First Tour of DR Congo
Before his disputed electoral victory in December, DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi promised the people of troubled North Kivu province that he would crack down on rebel and militia groups that terrorise the region. But three months after taking power in a vote mired by fraud allegations, Tshisekedi has struggled to take decisive action. Hamstrung by a parliament and local officials in the sway of former president Joseph Kabila, Tshisekedi has largely failed to exert his authority and combat the vast country’s daunting problems. Last week, he issued a strong statement, saying: “I have warned all those actors who manipulate armed groups. The law will apply to them with full force.”  AFP

Madagascar’s Opposition Leader Breaks Silence on Referendum
Voters in Madagascar will head to the polls on May 27 to elect law makers. On this very day, they will also vote on a bill to amend certain provisions of the country’s constitution which was adopted in 2010. The text provides for the abolition of the senate and the granting of more power to local authorities. The opposition leader Marc Ravalomanana has accused President Andry Rajoelina of wanting to change the country’s supreme law against the will of the people. “ There should be a dialogue between all the forces of the nation and not forcing like this,” Ravalomanana said at a press conference held in his home at the weekend.  Africa News

Gold Worth Billions Smuggled Out of Africa
Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond – a Reuters analysis has found. Customs data shows that the UAE imported $15.1 billion worth of gold from Africa in 2016, more than any other country and up from $1.3 billion in 2006. The total weight was 446 tonnes, in varying degrees of purity – up from 67 tonnes in 2006. Much of the gold was not recorded in the exports of African states. Five trade economists interviewed by Reuters said this indicates large amounts of gold are leaving Africa with no taxes being paid to the states that produce them. Previous reports and studies have highlighted the black-market trade in gold mined by people, including children, who have no ties to big business, and dig or pan for it with little official oversight. No-one can put an exact figure on the total value that is leaving Africa. But the Reuters analysis gives an estimate of the scale.  Reuters

Chinese Construction Company Sets Up Toll Booth in Congo, Angers Locals
A toll booth in Kasai Central province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, operated by a Chinese construction company has drawn sharp criticism from local residents, as part of the growing hostility towards Chinese business interests in the country. Tolls are collected by CREC 7, the Congolese branch of China Railway Group Limited, on a road built by the company that connects the town of Matamba to the border post of Kalamba-Mbuji, next to Angola. The post was opened in 2018 to provide a route to the sea from landlocked Kasai Central. Guylain Balume, our Observer based in Goma, posted on social media about the toll fees after taking the road toward the Angolan border in February 2019.  France 24

What’s behind Talk of a ‘Migratory Crisis’ in Spain
Border guards in southern Spain are bracing for another spike in migrant arrivals from North Africa, but government officials and the UN say talk of a “crisis” in the run-up to Sunday’s general election – encouraged by far-right parties – is premature and overblown. […] arrival numbers in the early months of 2019 have dramatically dropped from last year, according to Interior Ministry statistics. “Rescue services and other migration-related services are not overwhelmed,” a ministry spokesperson said. Frontex, however is increasing its support to Spanish rescue crews in light of another possible increase in sea arrivals this summer, its spokesperson told TNH.  The New Humanitarian

Inside a Remarkable Local Effort to Stop Elephant Poaching in Zambia
The elephant poaching epidemic continues to tear across the African continent. It’s even reached remote refuges in recent years, like the Luangwa Valley in Zambia, where poaching deaths began surging in 2014. But last year, a conservation team working with local communities to stem those losses reached a remarkable milestone in North Luangwa National Park. “We did not lose any elephants” to poaching in 2018, said Solomon Chidunuka, the warden for Muchinga province who works with the North Luangwa Conservation Programme. It’s a success story that Chidunuka and his colleagues say would not be possible without the participation and support of the tens of thousands of people who live around the park. Pacific Standard

General Lamine Cissé – Military Leader, Diplomat, Role Model
Tributes for General Lamine Cissé have been pouring in from around the world following his death on April 19 in Dakar at the age of 80 years. “He was a man of values and principles who served his country loyally wherever he was called,” Interior Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye said of the former Chief of General Staff of the Senegalese Armed Forces. Born in 1939 in Sokone, Senegal, General Cissé had a long and distinguished career in the Senegalese military. He held positions as Inspector General of the Armed Forces from 1993-1996 and Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces from 1996-1997, with the highest military rank bestowed upon any Senegalese Army officer. General Cissé was also a long-time friend of the Africa Center, He was also the president of the Senegal Chapter of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ community chapters.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies



Photo: Adam Jones