Africa Media Review for August 26, 2020

Mali Junta Denies Three-Year Transition Plan with Military Government
Mali’s ruling military junta has denied that it wanted to put in place a three-year transitional authority led by soldiers, following the overthrow of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, ousted last week by the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). “At no time have we talked about a government mostly consisting of the military,” CNSP spokesman Ismael Wague told journalists in Bamako. Soldiers calling themselves the CNSP last week mutinied at the Kati military base outside of Bamako and arrested President Keita, with Colonel Assimi Goita declaring himself the head of the junta.  RFI

International Francophone Organisation Suspends Mali’s Membership over Coup
The international community increased pressure on the military junta that has seized power in Mali, as the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) suspended the nation from its membership Tuesday. Its leadership agreed the move at an extraordinary session held via videoconference, while adding that it would maintain any cooperation that would help the civilian population and a transition to democracy. The decision came a day after envoys from the West African bloc ECOWAS and the new military rulers said they had failed to agree on a timetable to return Mali to democratic rule. France 24

French Troops Stay in Mali after Coup, No End in Sight
It was a picture postcard meant to portray unity in the vast and fragile lands that once were French colonies: President Emmanuel Macron standing with the leaders of five West African countries where France has spearheaded a counter-terrorism war since 2013. “We are all convinced that victory is possible,” Macron said at the summit in Mauritania. That was less than two months ago. Today, one of the five leaders has fallen. Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, the president of Mali — the country at the center of the battle against Islamist extremists — was ousted last week in a coup d’etat. But an unflinching Macron is pressing on, refusing to withdraw France’s 5,100 troops from West Africa, even though extremist attacks have multiplied and victory looks like a mirage in the crescent-shaped sand dunes for which France’s Operation Barkhane is named. “Operation Barkhane … continues,” French Defense Minister Florence Parly tweeted last week, after the bloodless coup in Mali by a clutch of military officers who detained Keita and his prime minister. AP

U.S. and Sudan Near Pact to Compensate American Terrorism Victims
The Trump administration has reached an agreement in principle with Sudan’s new transitional government to settle a series of long-standing claims by American terrorism victims, laying the groundwork for the country’s removal from the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism, officials and congressional aides familiar with the matter told Foreign Policy. The deal—which has yet to be finalized—requires Sudan’s fledgling civilian-led government to deposit $335 million in an escrow account for the families of victims of terrorist attacks that the former Sudanese regime played a role in supporting two decades ago. The attacks covered in the agreement are the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 terrorist attack against the USS Cole. It would not address claims of families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York.  Foreign Policy

Sudan PM Tells Pompeo He’s Not Authorised to Normalise Ties with Israel
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday that he was not mandated to normalise ties with Israel, and the issue should not be linked to Sudan’s removal from a U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list. Pompeo arrived from Israel on what he said was the first official non-stop flight between the two countries, as the United States looks to strengthen Sudan-Israel ties. He met Hamdok and ruling council head Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, tweeting that Sudan’s democratic transition was a “once in a generation opportunity”. He discussed the Sudan-Israel relationship with both Hamdok and Burhan, according to State Department statements.  Reuters

Mauritania Releases Ex-President Week after Arrest for Corruption
Former Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has been released by police after undergoing week-long questioning over suspected embezzlement, his lawyer said. “He has not been charged but his passport, which was taken on his arrest, has not been returned,” attorney Taghioullah Aida said on Monday, adding that Aziz has also been banned from leaving the capital, Nouakchott. Al-Akbar news portal, citing an official source, said the former president has been placed under surveillance by the Economic Crimes Police.  Al Jazeera

What Messages Did Egypt’s Top Military Official Carry to Libya’s Hifter?
The head of Egypt’s military intelligence agency, Maj-Gen. Khaled Megawer, and an accompanying delegation, met Aug. 19 with Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Hifter, LNA Chief of Staff Gen. Abdul Razzak al-Nazouri and head of the LNA air force Saqr al-Jaroushi at the LNA headquarters in al-Rajma in eastern Libya. During the meeting with Hifter, Megawer delivered a message from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which stressed Egypt’s rejection to withdraw the LNA forces from the Libyan key coastal cities of Sirte and al-Jufra and turn these cities into demilitarized areas. According to anonymous sources quoted by Al-Arabiya, the message also reiterates Cairo’s refusal to divide Libyan territories and to besiege Libya. According to the message, Egypt will open a direct communication channel in the near future with the LNA for full coordination. Al Monitor

At Least 15 Dead as Rebels Attack Southern Burundi
At least 15 people were killed when gunmen attacked an area in southern Burundi, three local witnesses told Reuters on Monday. It was unclear whether the dead were members of the security forces, civilians or the attackers. The witnesses asked not to be named for fear of repercussions. The fighting in Bugarama district in Rumonge province began on Sunday and continued into Monday and people were hiding in the bush, a resident who escaped the attack told Reuters. “The gunmen kidnapped everyone they met and killed them before engaging in fighting with the army on Sunday morning,” the man said. He asked for anonymity to avoid reprisals.  Reuters

I.Coast President Urges Peace as He Files Candidacy for Elections
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara called for peace after clashes that have claimed at least eight lives as he filed his candidacy on Monday for elections less than three months away. Clashes broke out after Ouattara, who initially said he would not stand again, changed his mind following the sudden death of prime minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, his anointed successor. “I know I can count on all my fellow citizens to ensure that this election is peaceful and that Ivorians can make their choice in peace, without violence,” Ouattara said as he left the headquarters of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) in Abidjan, flanked by most members of the government. AFP

Court Blocks Gbagbo from seeking Ivory Coast Presidency Again
A court in Ivory Coast has confirmed the decision of the country’s electoral commission to strike off former president Laurent Gbagbo from the electoral list, his lawyer told said on Tuesday. “It’s a definitive no,” Claude Mentenon told AFP, adding that there was no further legal recourse inside Ivory Coast. Election officials had already rejected appeals by Gbagbo and former rebel leader Guillaume Soro to be allowed to compete in the October 31 presidential election, in which the incumbent Alassane Ouattara is running for re-election President of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), Ibrahime Coulibaly-Kuibiert, said back in August when the revised electoral list was revealed that anyone convicted of a crime would be struck from the list of candidates. AFP

Sudan and Ethiopia Vow to Resolve Blue Nile Dam Dispute
Ethiopia and Sudan have said they would make every effort to reach a deal on a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile River that has caused a bitter dispute between Addis Ababa and Cairo over water supplies. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Tuesday in the latest effort by the African nations to reach an agreement over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). “The two sides emphasised they would make every possible effort to reach a successful conclusion to the current tripartite negotiations,” said a joint statement issued by Ethiopia and Sudan.  Al Jazeera

Burkina Faso Army Blamed for Extrajudicial Torture, Deaths
[…] Of the dozen men taken from Burkina Faso’s eastern town of Tawalbougou in late June on suspicion of supporting Islamic extremist rebels, only five survived, they said. One man died from the beatings and six others were shot and killed, said the survivors. Their families were too afraid to collect their bodies, they said. Some of the survivors can barely speak after the trauma, but all maintain they had no affiliation with the Islamic extremists who have rapidly destabilized Burkina Faso over the past few years. Such accusations of extrajudicial killings, torture and unlawful detention by Burkina Faso’s military are mounting, as the ill-equipped and under-trained army scrambles to stem the spread of jihadist violence that’s ravaging the country. As attacks linked to Islamic militants increase, so does the army’s targeting of civilians perceived to support them, charge rights groups. AP

Africa Could Be Past the Peak of Virus Pandemic: WHO
Africa’s coronavirus outbreak may have passed its peak, the World Health Organization (WHO) continental chief said Tuesday, warning against complacency to avoid a second wave. WHO Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti told a conference of African health ministers that numbers of new cases were declining. “We are seeing that we have had what seems to have been a peak, and now we have the daily numbers of cases being reported overall in the region going down,” she said during an online meeting. But there are still a few countries, such as Namibia, experiencing increases in daily cases. AFP

‘I Want Them to Know What It’s like Not to Breathe’: COVID-Fatigue Sets In as Nigeria’s Infections Rise
The streets of Kano, Nigeria’s bustling northern city, appear to be floating in a pre-Covid bubble, blissfully unaffected by the virus raging through cities across the world, forcing people to mask-up and stay away from their loved ones. On a recent Friday, men in prayer robes crowd into corner streets for Jumuah – the congregational prayer – and women in veils sashay in and out of overflowing markets. When the rare, mask-sporting individual passes by, people turn to stare. But the seeming normality here belies gruesome scenes in April when gravediggers had more corpses to bury than usual. In just three weeks, Kano gravediggers recorded 979 deaths – around 43 per day compared to the usual 11 estimated daily burials. More than half of them are Covid-related, the health ministry confirms. Covid fatigue has set in on Africa’s biggest economy after months of battling the virus with restrictions that froze businesses and pushed millions deeper into poverty. Many have abandoned precaution measures that saw moderate compliance in the early months of the outbreak. The Telegraph

Conflict, Climate and COVID-19 Contribute to Cabo Delgado Crisis
Mozambique’s Cado Delgado province has seen an alarming rise in insurgent attacks in the first half of 2020. Violence associated with various Islamist groups started in 2017 and according to the United Nations, more than a 1 000 people have been killed and over 210 000 displaced. The rise in scale and frequency in violent attacks on villages in Cado Delgado in the first half of 2020 and insurgents capturing Mocímboa da Praia, a port strategic to gas companies operating in the region, has raised concern throughout the region and beyond. Prior to this year, authorities in Mozambique had been relatively secretive about the burgeoning insurgency. Now the humanitarian impacts of the violence, the scale of the attacks, fear of regional spread and potential economic impacts have led to a call for help. Cabo Delgado’s crisis is representative of so many others around the world. DefenceWeb

DR Congo Claims Victory over Two-Year-Long Measles Epidemic That Killed Thousands of Children
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday declared the end of a 25-month outbreak of measles that claimed the lives of more than 7,000 children aged under five. The outbreak was countered by vaccination on a massive scale, in which millions of children and infants were immunised. “For the past month, we are able to say that this epidemic has been eliminated from across our territory,” Health Minister Eteni Longondo told a press conference. “We can say that measles (in the DRC) no longer exists.” Measles is a highly contagious viral disease that attacks mainly children. The most serious complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory infections.  France 24

Former Congo President Pascal Lissouba Dies at 88
Former Congolese president Pascal Lissouba, who in 1992 won his country’s first multi-party presidential elections, died in France on Monday at the age of 88, his party told AFP. “President Lissouba passed away after an illness,” Pan-African Union for Social Democracy (UPADS) spokesman and MP Honore Sayi said. Lissouba died in Perpignan, southwestern France, he said. The death was confirmed on Facebook by his son Jeremie Lissouba, who is also a lawmaker.  AFP

Deadline Looms for Signing of UK-EAC Brexit Trade Pact
Kenya is racing against time to sign a post-Brexit trade deal with the UK, as ideological differences among EAC member states threaten to derail negotiations for a collective trade agreement. With only four months to the December 31 expiry of the current trade arrangement, in which EAC partner states enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the lucrative UK market, Kenya is starting to lose patience with the slow pace of negotiations at the regional trade bloc level, The EastAfrican has learned.  The East African



Photo: Adam Jones