Africa Media Review for April 25, 2019

South Sudan: SPLM-IO Says Will Not Be Part of New Government
South Sudan’s main opposition group SPLM-IO will not take part in the transitional government should the deadline for its formation not be extended for additional six months, an official said. SPLM-IO youth league leader Puot Kang Chuol told Radio Tamazuj Monday that they are not willing to be part of the unity government in May. “The [peace] agreement says we must canton the forces, train, and redeploy them together as a unified national army, unified national police and unified national security,” he said He added, “We cannot form a unity government without achieving the unification of forces stipulated in the agreement. That is our basic reason.”  Radio Tamazuj

One of Worst African Wars May Revive, South Sudan Rebels Say
South Sudanese rebels warned the nation could plunge again into all-out civil war if there isn’t a six-month delay to properly prepare a power-sharing government that seeks to end one of Africa’s worst conflicts. Warring sides are due to form a transitional government in May, the latest deal to end five years of bloodshed that’s claimed almost 400,000 lives. But the largest rebel group, led by ex-Vice President Riek Machar, is demanding more time to integrate its fighters into the army and settle disputes over state boundaries. President Salva Kiir is urging his former deputy to immediately return to South Sudan’s capital to join the new administration.  Bloomberg

Sudan Military Council Says ‘Agreement’ Reached with Protest Leaders
Three members of Sudan’s ruling military council resigned Wednesday after it said it reached “agreement on most demands” with protest leaders who have called for a million-strong march to demand a civilian government.  The 10-member military council had invited the protest leaders for a meeting after the leaders suspended talks with the army rulers on Sunday. “We have an agreement on most demands presented in the document of the Alliance for Freedom and Change,” Lieutenant General Shamseddine Kabbashi, spokesman of the ruling military council, told reporters after the meeting between the council and leaders of the umbrella group leading the protest movement.  France 24

How Fake News from Sudan’s Regime Backfired
The BBC has uncovered evidence that Sudan’s security services tried to undermine popular protests by rounding up students, torturing them until they admitted to violent intent, and spreading false confession videos on Facebook and state TV. But the plot backfired, and now the students can tell their story. “You are dirty! You are slaves!” Racist insults rained down on John and his friends as, he claims, the security services beat them with fists and sticks and stunned them with electric shocks. BBC Arabic’s investigations team has spoken to multiple sources who can attest to the torture that John and his fellow students from Darfur underwent, for hours at a time. John believes they were being tested: which of them would confess to being part of a Darfuri rebel group and inciting violence in Sudan?  BBC

Fake News and Public Executions: Documents Show a Russian Company’s Plan for Quelling Protests in Sudan
When anti-government protests erupted in Sudan at the end of last year, the response of President Omar al-Bashir came straight from the dictators’ playbook — a crackdown that led to scores of civilian deaths. At the same time, a more insidious strategy was being developed — one that involved spreading misinformation on social media, blaming Israel for fomenting the unrest, and even carrying out public executions to make an example of “looters.” The author of this strategy was not the Sudanese government. According to documents seen by CNN, it was drawn up by a Russian company tied to an oligarch favored by the Kremlin: Yevgeny Prigozhin. Multiple government and military sources in Khartoum have confirmed to CNN that Bashir’s government received the proposals and began to act on them, before Bashir was deposed in a coup earlier this month. One official of the former regime said Russian advisers monitored the protests and began devising a plan to counter them with what he called “minimal but acceptable loss of life.” While the documents do not come from official Russian agencies, they were essentially a blueprint for protecting the Kremlin’s interests in Sudan and keeping Bashir in power.  CNN

Four People Killed in Burkina Bus Attack
Armed gunmen stopped a bus travelling in northern Burkina Faso and shot dead four passengers, local sources said on Wednesday, with jihadists suspected of staging the attack. Passengers had their ID’s checked before the shooting took place, a local authority told AFP, after the bus was intercepted in the village of Liki on Tuesday. “The four people killed were from the same ethnic community,” while the others were not harmed, the source said. “It was probably members of armed terrorist groups that are active in the region,” the source added.  AFP

Eritrea Shuts All Borders with Ethiopia – Unilaterally
In less than a year since the two countries made peace, Eritrea has shut all border crossings with neighbouring Ethiopia, according to reports. The final route to be blocked according to the DW Amharic service was the Bure – Assab crossing which was opened only last December. The Afar region communication bureau confirmed the report adding that the closure was only on the Eritrean side. “After closing Serha-Zalambesa border crossing in December and Om Hajer-Humera last week, Ethiopia officials saying Eritrea shut Assab-Bure this morning – meaning all border points are now closed,” a Reuters journalist, Aaron Maasho said in a tweet of April 22.  Africa News

Ex-Gambia Presidential Aide Admits Ordering Execution of Coup Soldiers
A former deputy of Gambian ex-President Yahya Jammeh admitted that he ordered the execution of soldiers who took part in a coup four months after the ousted dictator took power more than two decades ago.Sanna Bairo Sabally, who served as the vice chairman of a military council which brought Jammeh to power in a coup in July 1994, told an inquiry into the former leaders rule that about 20 soldiers involved in a counter-coup in November that year were killed without due process. “I accept responsibility because I was the commander,” Sabally told the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission Wednesday in the capital, Banjul. “We cut the head off the snake and leave the body.” Bloomberg

Italy Warns EU to Brace for Refugee Surge as Migrants Flee Libya War
Italy’s government has asked the European Union to come up with contingency plans for a possible mass movement of refugees fleeing the fighting in Libya as diplomats struggle to rein in the burgeoning civil war for control of the country’s capital. The move came as human rights groups condemned a “horrific” attack by soldiers on migrants caught up in fighting in southern Tripoli. Amnesty International said Tuesday’s assault on the Qasr Ben Ghashir detention center, which hold 890 people, should be “investigated as a war crime.” The UN said 12 people needed hospital treatment after “armed actors” breached the compound. The Telegraph

Aid Groups Sue France to Stop Boat Donation to Libya’s Navy
Aid groups are suing the French government to stop the donation of six boats to Libya’s navy, saying the watercraft will be used to take migrants to detention centers notorious for horrific conditions. Europe has relied heavily on the Libyan coast guard, which is part of the navy, to intercept migrants bound for Europe and return them to the detention centers, where disease is widespread and migrants say they face routine abuse. Conditions have deteriorated further in recent weeks as fighting has erupted between rival militias. The U.N. says some 3,600 refugees and migrants are detained near the front lines. The lawsuit filed Thursday by eight aid groups seeks a stay on the boat donation, saying it violates the European embargo on Libya and makes France complicit in the abuse.  AP

Urban Refugees: A Decade on the Margins in Cameroon
Urban refugees typically choose to stay in cities rather than remote camps in the hope of finding work, connecting with family, or just freedom from the rations and regimentation of aid dependency. […] Humanitarian needs in Cameroon are soaring due to escalating violence and insecurity in the region. More than four million people are in need of emergency assistance. Cameroon shelters 417,400 refugees, the vast majority of them from CAR and Nigeria. Of this total, at least 33,500 refugees and asylum seekers live in urban areas, mostly in the capital, Yaoundé, and the port city of Douala. The New Humanitarian

Leader of Outlawed Algeria Islamist Party Dies in Exile
The founder of an outlawed Algerian opposition party that pushed for the creation of an Islamic state died Wednesday in Qatar where he was living in exile, his close ally told AFP. Abassi Madani died at the age of 88 “in a Doha hospital after a long illness”, said Ali Belhadj, adding that family members had informed him of the death. Madani, who had lived in Qatar since 2003, founded the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) with Belhadj in 1989. He called for armed struggle in 1992 after Algeria’s military scrapped the country’s first multi-party legislative elections.  AFP

E. Africa, Recovering From Cyclone Idai, Braces for New Storm
The government of Comoros shut down schools, airports and public offices Wednesday as Tropical Cyclone Kenneth passed over the island nation, with wind gusts topping 200 kilometers an hour. The storm, brewing in the Indian Ocean, is expected to strengthen as it heads toward the East African coast near the border between Mozambique and Tanzania. The storm comes as Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe struggle to recover from last month’s devastating Cyclone Idai. Major international aid agencies have been helping with the recovery from Idai, which struck March 14, and they now are preparing for Kenneth. VOA

Interpol Rescues Dozens of Child Slaves from Markets in West Africa
Police have rescued 216 human trafficking victims, mainly children, from forced labor and prostitution in a major operation in Benin and Nigeria, Interpol said on Wednesday. Operation Epervier II involved 100 police officers across the two countries who rescued 157 child slaves, said the global police organization, which coordinated the raids in early April. Many of the children were working in markets peddling goods, carrying heavy loads or fetching water, while others worked as housemaids or were forced into prostitution, Interpol said. Of the minors rescued, 36 were boys and 121 were girls. Investigations are underway to dismantle the crime networks active in Benin and Nigeria, which are source, transit and destination countries for human trafficking, said Paul Stanfield, Interpol’s director of organized and emerging crime.  Reuters

Union That Disrupted S. African Mining Faces Deregistration
South Africa’s Labor Department said it intends to deregister one of the country’s biggest and most aggressive mining unions, just weeks before crucial platinum-industry wage talks are expected to begin.The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has ceased to function in terms of its constitution, and is not a genuine trade union, the registrar of labor relations said in a notice published in the Government Gazette. It didn’t provide further details. The move comes as the union gears up for a face-off with platinum producers such as Anglo American Platinum Ltd., Sibanye Gold Ltd. and Lonmin Plc over new three-year wage agreements. Thousands of the unions members started returning to work at Sibanye’s gold mines Tuesday after it called off a crippling five-month strike.  Bloomberg

Ban on Insulting Rwanda’s President Upheld
The Supreme Court in Rwanda has rejected a challenge to a law which says it is a crime to insult the president. The law which was introduced last year means that anyone insulting President Paul Kagame faces between five and seven years in prison. Lawyer Richard Mugisha had argued that the law was unconstitutional as it undermined freedom of expression. The court ruled that it should remain due to the responsibility that the office holds. The same court ruled that a law which prohibits writing articles or drawing cartoons that humiliate MPs, ministers or other government officials should be annulled.  BBC

Digital Backlash Threatens Media Freedom in Ghana
Popular support for a free media has dropped sharply in Ghana, according to a survey by the non-partisan research group, Afrobarometer. Some 57% of citizens now say the government should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things it considers harmful to society. Free speech in Ghana is in a precarious place. On the one hand, many studies confirm that the country has a particularly high degree of press freedom; on the other hand, growing numbers of Ghanaians think the media and Internet culture pose a threat to society. These developments are connected.  Deutsche Welle

Drones to Deliver Vaccines, Blood and Drugs across Ghana
Hundreds of drones will begin delivering life-saving vaccines, blood and medicines to patients in Ghana this week in the largest scheme of its kind, the global vaccine alliance GAVI said on Wednesday. Medics will place orders by text message when supplies run dry, said GAVI chief executive Seth Berkley. Drones will then fly in from four distribution centres, hover over health posts and drop deliveries using tiny parachutes. “The idea is that these four distribution centres can make up to 600 on-demand delivery flights a day,” Berkley told reporters in a telephone briefing. “And that can expand up to 2,000 (a day) over time.”  Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones