Africa Media Review for August 19, 2019

Guinea at a Crossroads
After breaking away from decades of autocratic rule, Guinea’s democratic progress is now at risk, as President Alpha Condé maneuvers to revise the constitution and stay in power for a third term. Guinea’s 81-year old president, Alpha Condé, who was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2015, wishes to rewrite the country’s constitution so that he can run for a constitutionally prohibited third presidential term in October 2020. Condé’s government has a history of cracking down on the opposition, delaying local and parliamentary elections, and trying to limit press freedom. More recently, the president has endeavored to subvert institutional barriers to a third term by manipulating Guinea’s political institutions, particularly the constitutional court and the electoral commission. Overriding these institutions, changing the constitution, and allowing Condé to stay in power for another term would be a deeply problematic development that risks triggering a constitutional crisis and political instability. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Sudanese Army and Civilians Seal Interim Power-Sharing Deal
Sudan’s main opposition coalition and the ruling military council on Saturday signed a final power-sharing deal that paves the way for a transitional government, and eventually elections, following the overthrow of long-time leader Omar al-Bashir. Tens of thousands of people of all ages took to the streets of the capital Khartoum in celebration, with many heading towards the newly renamed Freedom Square, once the site of many of Bashir’s rallies. Stability in Sudan, which has been grappling with an economic crisis, is seen as crucial for a volatile region struggling with conflict and insurgencies from the Horn of Africa to Egypt and Libya. One of Sudan’s top generals, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is deputy head of the military council, and opposition alliance representative Ahmad al-Rabie had initialed the agreement on Aug. 4 and were the main signatories on Saturday. … Also present were African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who helped broker the accord, and representatives from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of which see themselves as influential in Khartoum. Reuters

Ex-Sudan President Omar al-Bashir in Court on Corruption Charges
Omar al-Bashir, the former president of Sudan, has appeared in court for the first day of a high-profile corruption trial that could result in the deposed autocratic ruler being jailed for many years. The 75-year-old has been in detention since being forced out of power in April when security forces withdrew their support for his regime after months of popular protests. He was informed by the prosecutor’s office on Monday morning that he faced charges of “possessing foreign currency, corruption and receiving gifts illegally”. Bashir arrived outside the Judicial and Legal Science Institute, where the trial is taking place, in a huge military convoy, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. Pro-democracy campaigners and victims of systematic human rights abuses under Bashir’s 30-year rule hope he will also face further charges of incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters. The Guardian

Zimbabwe Police Ban Another Protest against Economic Woes
Police in Zimbabwe has banned a planned march by the country’s main opposition in the city of Bulawayo, days after brutally dispersing protesters who defied a similar order in the capital. Paul Nyathi, spokesman for the police, told reporters on Sunday that a “prohibition order” was issued in Bulawayo “due to security concerns”. Monday’s now-banned protest, organised by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was over worsening economic conditions and the jailing of Chief Ndiweni, a known critic of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. … Friday’s protests were the first since Mnangagwa’s decision to increase fuel prices by more than 100 percent sparked nationwide demonstrations in January. At the time, at least 17 people were killed and several wounded when soldiers opened fire. Nelson Chamisa, leader of the MDC, said on Friday that his party would continue to mobilise against the government but that it wanted to avoid “blood in the streets”. The demonstrations are viewed as a test of Mnangagwa’s willingness to tolerate dissent in a country with a long history of repression under his predecessor Robert Mugabe, who ruled for nearly 40 years. Al Jazeera

Chad Declares State of Emergency in Two Eastern Provinces after Intercommunal Clashes
Chad President Idriss Deby declared a state of emergency in two eastern provinces on Sunday after violent intercommunal clashes left dozens dead earlier this month. The state of emergency will run for three months in Sila and Ouaddai regions where 50 people have died since August 9 in fighting between cattle herders and settled farmers, the president’s office said. “From now, we will deploy military forces who are going to ensure the security of the population in the region,” Deby said while on a trip to Sila. “We must disarm all the civilians who have weapons in their hands,” he said. Eastern Chad is in the grip of a cycle of violence between nomadic camel herders – many from the Zaghawa ethnic group from which Deby hails – and sedentary farmers from the Ouaddian community. Drought and population growth have aggravated the conflict. Africa News with AFP

WFP Warns of ‘Unprecedented’ Food Emergency in Burkina Faso
The World Food Program warns that millions of people in Burkina Faso are facing what it calls an unprecedented humanitarian emergency because of growing hunger, instability and displacement. Fighting in Burkina Faso has intensified over the past six months, raising intercommunal tensions. Attacks, killings and targeted kidnappings by different armed groups have increased. The United Nations reports escalating fighting, some fueled by ethnic and religious beliefs, has forced more than 237,000 people to flee their homes. The insecurity and large-scale displacement, it says, has led to the closure of dozens of health centers and thousands of schools, depriving nearly 330,000 children of an education. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people are facing severe food shortages. VOA

What’s behind the Equatoguinean-Cameroonian Border Wall Plan?
It is not unusual for Equatorial Guinea to seal its border with Cameroon. But a plan to build a solid border wall has Cameroonians fuming and questions swirling over whether curbing illegal migration is the real motive. When word of the border wall reached the Cameroonian capital Yaounde at the end of July, army chief Rene Claude Meka promptly set out to tour the 180-kilometer (111-mile) stretch. On the Equatoguinean side, locals had been informed that the border wall was intended to keep out West Africans wanting to enter the country without authorization. Meka talked on state radio of an “encroachment” and “expansionist ambitions” that would not be tolerated, and anger began building among Cameroon’s citizens. Reports of officials in Equatorial Guinea laying demarcation beacons near the town of Kye-Ossi made matters worse. DW

SADC SUMMIT 2019: Summit Agrees on Measures to Stimulate Regional Development
The 39th Summit of the Southern African Development Communicty (Sadc) ended yesterday with leaders endorsing measures to take the region to another level of development. They include resource mobilization to accelerate industrialization and infrastructure development, as well as stepping up action against trade barriers, red tape and corruption. Statistics indicate Sadc exports to the outside world in 2017 amounted to $143 billion, far below the $403 billion and $213 billion which Mexico and Vietnam exported during the same period, respectively. The annual economic growth of the vast region, covering one third of the African continent’s land surface and with a population of 327 million, has not been any better. … Beside the protocol on industrialization, the summit, hosted by Tanzania for the second time, signed three protocols aimed at tackling cross-border crime. These are the protocol on inter-state transfer of sentence offenders, amendment of a protocol on extradition of suspects and legal assistance in crime matters. The Citizen

Mozambique’s Renamo Alleges Member Attacked Days after Peace Deal
Mozambique’s former rebel group-turned-opposition party Renamo on Friday said its members came under attack just days after the signing of a historic peace deal aimed at ending years of conflict. Renamo spokesperson Jose Manteigas said dozens of party members have been assaulted by police and members of the ruling Frelimo party across the country, adding that the attacks could threaten the landmark peace agreement. He said Renamo members have been beaten and their houses and other properties torched in the provinces of Tete, Zambezia, Inhambane and Gaza, mainly in night-time attacks since August 8. That was just two days after the much-hailed and long-awaited peace deal was signed by President Filipe Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade on August 6. … The allegations come just two weeks before campaigning begins for general elections on October 15 that Frelimo, the East African country’s dominant political force for more than four decades, is expected to win. Africa News with AFP

UNHCR: 360,000 Displaced in Congo’s Ituri Province Struggling to Survive
The U.N. refugee agency warns more than 360,000 people who have fled inter-communal violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province over the past two months are living in squalor, struggling to survive. The violence, which erupted between the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups over land and other resources in mid-June, is not as acute as it was then, but it has not gone away. To complicate matters, other armed groups have joined the fighting. UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch said thousands of people continue to flee, though at a lower rate. Agency staff who recently visited the town of Djugu found empty villages and burned homes, he told VOA, adding that many of the displaced are afraid to return. … Ituri, along with North Kivu province, is in the throes of an Ebola outbreak. However, World Health Organization spokesman Christian Lindmeier told VOA no case of the fatal disease has been detected among the displaced population. While no specific precautions are being taken, he said treatment centers are operational and health workers try to make both the fleeing and migrating populations aware of the risks. VOA

Litmus Test for Madobe as Regional Politics Plays Out in Jubbaland Poll
Sheikh Islam Ahmed Madobe, the president of Jubbaland state of Somalia may on August 22 be waiting for the spinning coin to land in his favour when he faces other candidates for another term in office. Previously planned for August 21, the poll for the state presidency was pushed back by a day when the Jubbaland Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission yielded to pressure from the international community on Friday to allow more candidates to register for the race. The UN and the African Union had been pressuring the JIEBC to make changes. JIEBC chairman Hamza Barre said more people interested in the presidency had 72 hour to present their papers, a decision that could raise the number of candidates from the current six. Swan had said issues surrounding who takes part “if unresolved, could have a destabilising effect on Jubbaland”. … On Thursday, a group of academics said the impact of the poll would shake regional security policies. “There are contestations from many players. Jubbaland is like the umbilical cord of Somalia and Kenya. It is very strategic,” said Patrick Maluki, a diplomacy lecturer at the University of Nairobi. The forum, organised by the think-tank Africa Policy Institute discussed “the election between democracy and terror”. Daily Nation

Leader of Kenyan Drug Organization Sentenced to 25 Years in U.S.
A U.S. judge sentenced a leading Kenyan drug trafficker, Baktash Akasha, to 25 years in prison on Friday after he pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to import heroin and methamphetamine and other crimes. S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan sentenced Akasha, 42. Prosecutors described Akasha as the leader of a crime family called the Akasha organization, a major smuggling operation connecting the poppy fields of Afghanistan to European and U.S. cities. In his guilty plea, Akasha also admitted to bribing officials in Kenya. … The four defendants were arrested in Mombasa, Kenya, in November 2014 in a U.S.-led sting operation, in which authorities said the Akasha organization provided 99 kilograms (218 lb) of heroin and two kilograms of methamphetamine to DEA informants posing as drug traffickers. Reuters

Kenya Headed for a Referendum Hoping to End Divisive Elections
Kenya, often regarded as a progressive democracy in the region, is bracing itself for the next General Election in 2022, hoping to slay the dragon of divisive politics that have led to election disputes and bloody ethnic tensions in the recent past three election cycles. In August 2017, the presidential election result drove the country close to the brink after the Supreme Court overturned President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory and ordered a repeat poll. … Mr Odinga’s decision to accept the court judgment in 2013 is believed to have spared the country a recurrence of the political violence that claimed an estimated 1,300 lives and internally displaced up to 650,000 people following the disputed presidential election outcome in December 2007 in a race between Mr Odinga and then incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. … The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce, set up by President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga in May last year-following the famous handshake of March 9, 2018 – to evaluate the inclusivity challenges of national elections and suggest appropriate reforms, is widely expected to recommend a constitutional referendum to expand the Executive to accommodate as many of the country’s ethnically influential politicians as possible. The East African

Nigeria: World Bank Blacklists Six Chinese Firms in Nigeria for Contract Fraud, Corruption
The companies include China Railway Construction (International) Nigeria Company Limited, China Railway 18th Bureau Nigeria Engineering Company Limited, CCECC Nigeria Lekki (FTA) Company Limited, CCECC Nigeria Railway Company Limited, CRCC Petroleum & Gas Company Limited, and CCECC Nigeria Company Limited. All the companies are very active in Nigeria, with ongoing or completed contracts for the construction of railways, highways, housing estates, airport terminals, municipal engineering, water resource, and hydro-power engineering projects for federal and state governments. The World Bank announcement on its website accused the companies and several others around the world of violating the bank’s fraud and corruption policy. Premium Times

Nigerian Shia Leader, Wife Reject Treatment in India, Return Home
Nigerian Shia leader Ibrahim El Zakzaky and his wife have made a dramatic return to the country, three days after arriving in India to receive medical treatment, according to aviation officials and his lawyer. The detained leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and Zeenat Ibrahim on Friday landed in Abuja’s international airport from New Delhi on an Ethiopian Airlines flight, according to supporters and lawyers. They were received by security operatives and taken back into custody. “He is in custody of the State Security Service and no one is allowed access to him,” Mahdi Garba, a supporter of El Zakzaky, told Al Jazeera. The detained couple had flown out of the country on Monday after a court in the northern state of Kaduna granted them bail in order to seek treatment abroad. Al Jazeera

Japan Seeks to Counter China in Africa with Alternative ‘High-Quality’ Development
The long rivalry between China and Japan is again playing out in Africa, with Tokyo planning to pour more aid into the continent and invest in infrastructure projects there. Beijing – which has for decades funnelled money into the continent – will be watching as the leaders of 54 African countries and international organisations descend on Yokohama later this month for the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). Japan reportedly plans to pledge more than 300 billion yen (US$2.83 billion) in aid to Africa during the conference. While that might not be enough to alarm China – which in recent years has been on a spending spree in the continent – it will be paying close attention. Japan has in the past used the meetings to criticise Chinese lending practices in Africa, saying it was worried about the “unrealistic” level of debt incurred by African countries – concerns that China has dismissed. This year, analysts expect Tokyo will use the conference to articulate how its approach to African development is substantively different from that of the Chinese. “So, look for the words ‘quality’, ‘transparency’ and ‘sustainability’ to be used a lot throughout the event,” said Eric Olander, managing editor of the non-partisan China Africa Project. South China Morning Post



Photo: Adam Jones