Africa Media Review for April 9, 2019

Sudanese Activists: 7 More Killed in Clashes with Police
Activists behind anti-government demonstrations in Sudan say security forces have killed at least seven people, including a military officer, in another attempt to break up a sit-in outside the military headquarters in the capital. Sarah Abdel-Jaleel, spokeswoman for the Sudanese Professionals Association, says clashes erupted early on Tuesday between security forces and protesters who have been camping out in front of the complex in Khartoum since the weekend. The new deaths brought the total number of people killed by the security forces since Saturday to 15. Abdel-Jaleel says at least 30 protesters were wounded in the violence. A government spokesman didn’t respond to calls seeking comment.  AP

Sudan: Sit-In Protest outside Khartoum Army HQ Continues for Third Day
Protests outside the military headquarters in Khartoum have continued for a third day in a resurgence of calls for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to step down. Clashes between the army and security forces broke out with exchanges of gunfire as protesters defied attempts to disperse them. “Outside the headquarters of the army, people were actually shouting and singing, calling for the downfall of the government,” said Nabil Adeb, chair of the Sudanese Monitor for Human Rights group. A sit-in outside the army headquarters began on Saturday marking a renewal in demonstrations that had dwindled since the imposition of a state of emergency by Bashir. Exchanges of gunfire broke out on two occasions with some activists claiming soldiers opened fire on Sudanese security forces to defend the protesters. RFI

Abdelkader Bensalah Named Algeria’s Interim President
Algeria’s parliament has named an interim leader to replace former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who resigned last week under pressure from a pro-democracy protest movement that won the army’s backing. The parliament on Tuesday named Abdelkader Bensalah, the leader of parliament’s upper chamber, as president for a maximum 90 days as is called for by the constitution until a new election can be organized. Bensalah was a key ally of Bouteflika. Most of the country’s opposition abstained from the vote on Tuesday. Algerian students again protested in the capital, Algiers. An array of protesters has called for the ouster of the country’s entire political hierarchy. Algeria’s powerful army chief was due to speak later in the day. France 24

Hopes Raised During the Arab Spring Are Being Revived Across North Africa
In Sudan, tens of thousands of demonstrators are sitting in to demand the ouster of their longtime ruler. In Algeria, millions of protesters forced out their own octogenarian leader last week. And in Libya, an aging general is battling to establish himself as a new strongman, promising to end the chaos that kicked off when Libyans threw out their own dictator eight years ago. The hopes inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 soured long ago. But across North Africa, the reverberations are coursing through the region once again, shaking autocratic governments and posing new questions about the future. Veterans of the Arab Spring struggles say the scenes feel like flashbacks to chapters of a common story. The masses now clamoring for the removal of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan evoke the crowds that gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo or outside the Tunisian interior ministry eight years ago.  The New York Times

Libya Fighting Escalates as Khalifa Haftar’s Forces Bomb Tripoli Airport
Fighting for control of the Libyan capital escalated dramatically on Monday when rebel forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar carried out an airstrike on city’s only operating airport. The attack came amid reports that the internationally recognised government of National Accord led by Fayyez al-Sarraj had begun conscripting migrants held in detention centres to fight against Gen Haftar’s troops. At least one jet was seen firing rockets at the Mitiga airport in northern Tripoli on Monday afternoon. The airport said it would be closed for the foreseeable future. No casualties were reported. At least 2,800 people have been displaced since Gen Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army launched an assault on Tripoli last week. The Telegraph

Russia Makes Move On Libya Peace as Clashes Rage Near Tripoli
Russia vowed to use “all available means” to try to broker peace in Libya as warlord Khalifa Haftar brushed aside U.S. warnings to press his military advance on the capital Tripoli. President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Russia is urging all sides “to avoid any actions that could provoke bloodshed and the death of civilians,” in a conference call with reporters on Monday. While the Kremlin has joined other global powers in urging a halt to fighting, it’s refrained from blaming Haftar for the outbreak of hostilities. Russia also blocked a more forceful statement singling out the strongman’s forces by the United Nations Security Council. Bloomberg

Oil Hits a Five-Month High as Libya Clashes Add to Supply Concerns
Oil spiked to its highest level in five months as a drop in the U.S. dollar and conflicts from Iran to Libya helped make the barrel look like an increasingly strong bet for investors. Crude futures rallied 2.1 percent in New York Monday. The dollar fell, improving the lure of commodities priced in the greenback. Meanwhile, fighter jets bombed the Tripoli airport in Libya and U.S. President Donald Trump said he would designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, escalating tensions in two of the world’s biggest producers. “The expectation that the tightened supply picture is going to boost prices is starting to attract length into the market,” said Gene McGillian, senior analyst at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut.  Bloomberg

UN Warns Peacekeeping in Mali Will Be Hurt If Canada Doesn’t Extend Mission
Marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, a Liberal MP has called his government out for not doing more on peacekeeping as the United Nations is warning it will be forced to curtail its efforts in Mali unless Canada extends its mission there by several months. While the Trudeau government insists it stands with the UN, Liberal backbencher Rob Oliphant told an all-party press conference that Canada is not pulling its weight. “Canada’s peacekeeping operations pale in comparison to those offered by many African countries,” said the Toronto MP, who recently visited Rwanda as co-chair of the Canada-Africa Parliamentary Association. “When you look at what Ethiopia contributes, what Kenya contributes, what Ghana contributes, what Rwanda contributes, Canada is not pulling its weight.”  Vancouver Sun

25 Years after Genocide, Rwanda’s Kagame Is Praised, Feared
A quarter-century after Rwanda’s brutal genocide, President Paul Kagame remains a constant figure atop the country’s politics, feted by those who say it needs his visionary leadership and loathed by others who see a firm authoritarian with a malicious streak. Kagame is so little-questioned that he speaks openly about the apparent assassinations of opponents. That fear factor keeps him in power, critics say, even as he embraces a global reputation as the man who helped bring an end to the mass killings of some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus, and who has brought stability to the East African nation. In a speech last month, Kagame spoke dismissively of the crime that launched his reputation as a hard-liner: The 1998 killing of exiled opposition leader Seth Sendashonga, a fierce Kagame critic, who was gunned down in the streets of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. AP

Chang Should Be Extradited to US on Fraud Charges — SA Court
Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang should be extradited to the US where he is wanted on allegations of conspiracy to commit fraud and taking millions of dollars in bribes in a $2-billion loan scandal, the Kempton Park magistrate’s court ruled on Monday. Chang was given 15 days to appeal the decision. Security was tight as Chang was brought into court from the holding cells below, with the court doors being guarded by seven SAPS members wielding assault rifles. Magistrate William Schutte said Chang was allegedly involved in several fraudulent transactions which had taken place in New York City in the US. Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe to Start Paying White Farmers Compensation after April
Zimbabwe is to start paying compensation this year to thousands of white farmers who lost land under former president Robert Mugabe’s land reform nearly two decades ago, the government said, as it seeks to bring closure to a highly divisive issue. Two decades ago Mugabe’s government carried out at times violent evictions of 4,500 white farmers and redistributed the land to around 300,000 black families, arguing it was redressing imbalances from the colonial era. But land reform still divides public opinion as opponents see it as a partisan process that left the country struggling to feed itself. Reuters

Will Nigeria Crackdown on Crime in Zamfara State Work? (Video)
Nigeria has suspended mining in one of its northern states and ordered all foreigners engaged in mining activities to leave. The move comes after a surge in crimes, including kidnappings and killings, in Zamfara state.  Al Jazeera

Egypt’s Prisons Are Becoming Recruiting Grounds for the Islamic State
As the Islamic State suffered defeat in its final Syrian stronghold of Baghouz last month, the White House declared victory over the self-declared caliphate, announcing via Twitter that it has been “obliterated off the map.” But human rights organizations and activists are warning that far from the front lines, recruitment for the Islamic State and other extremist groups is increasing in Egypt’s prisons, where appalling prisoner conditions have accelerated recruitment. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has presided over what has been described by Human Rights Watch as “Egypt’s worst human rights crisis in decades.” Human Rights Watch estimated in 2016 that more than 60,000 people had been arrested or charged in Egypt since Sisi’s predecessor was ousted in a 2013 coup, with the arrests targeting a broad group of political opponents. Egypt already has a history of militancy and extremism flourishing behind bars—al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is among the high-profile jihadis radicalized in the country’s prisons.  Foreign Policy

Egypt’s Alaa Al Aswany Learns the Cost of Writing against the Regime
[…] One of Egypt’s most renowned authors, Aswany hasn’t appeared on television or written “a line” in the country since strongman President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power in 2014, he says. He published his 2018 novel The Republic, As If—an elegy for Egypt’s 2011 revolution—in Lebanon because no local publishing house dared put it out. That did not stop Egyptian lawmakers slamming the writer for its contents last year. And this March, Aswany learned through an article in Egyptian newspaper Egypt Today that he was being sued at the military General Prosecution Office in a lawsuit that called for his trial over accusations he had insulted ‘the president, the Armed Forces, and judicial institutions.’[…] Reporters Without Borders ranks Egypt 161st out of 180 countries on its press freedom index and says at least 31 journalists and media assistants are in jail there unjustly. Aswany’s case is the latest example of the Sisi regime “using all tools at its disposal to silence independent media and civil society,” Rebecca Vincent, UK Bureau Director at Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says. Time

Israel and South Africa: A ‘Downgraded’ Relationship?
The first stage of a “downgrade” — that’s what South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation has called its latest decision regarding its embassy in Tel Aviv. In May 2018, South Africa recalled its ambassador to Israel following clashes between Israeli military forces and protesters during which at least 52 Palestinians were killed. In a recent speech, South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu (pictured above) clarified that a decision had now been made to not replace the ambassador. The embassy, which would be downgraded to a liaison office, “will have no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities,” Sisulu stated. However, consular services, such as visa issuing, would remain in place.  Deutsche Welle

How Malawi Saved Lives in Cyclone Idai
[…] The storm submerged vast areas of southern Malawi, with the districts of Nsanje and Chikwawa hit especially hard. In total, an estimated 868,900 have been affected by the heavy rains and flooding, including 86,980 people who have been displaced and 672 injured. Some 60 deaths have been recorded. The dramatically lower death toll, compared to past flooding events in Malawi, reflects lessons learned from floods in 2015 and meticulous preparations to mitigate the consequences of similar natural disasters – a preparedness that contrasts starkly with the difficulties humanitarian actors are experiencing in Mozambique and Zimbabwe in the wake of Cyclone Idai. The New Humanitarian

Can China Convince Africa to Like It?
China’s dramatic rise on the world stage has some people worried about its motives, and China wants to fix that. It’s putting vast amounts of money and resources toward the goal of improving its image. This can be seen in one major hotspot, Africa, where China is anxious to assure Africans that the goals of its investments there are benign. It will take some convincing. In Africa, China often comes off as “unattractive” and “kinda racist.” A “This is Africa” exhibit at one Chinese museum compared Africans to animals. A skit during the widely watched Lunar New Year gala, aired on state TV, featured Chinese actors in blackface, depicting Kenyans. Kenya itself has been the site of serious accusations of racism and discrimination from China. Quartz

Why the Future of French Is African
French President Emmanuel Macron has described Africa as “the continent of the future”, but it may also save his country’s language from the decline it is experiencing elsewhere in the world, writes Jennifer O’Mahony. When Dakar rises each morning, the first port of call is the boulangerie for a baguette. While chatting away on phone services provided by Orange, a hungry resident of the Senegalese capital might stop to get cash at local franchises of Société Générale or BNP Paribas, or visit a supermarket: there are Auchan, Carrefour and Casino to choose from. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones