Africa Media Review for August 5, 2019

Sudan Factions Sign Agreement Paving Way for Civilian Rule
Sudan’s ruling military council and pro-democracy protesters on Sunday initialed a constitutional declaration aimed at paving the way for a transition to civilian rule after the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and months of unrest. Protest leaders hugged and congratulated one another with tearful smiles after officials signed the agreement. … The latest round of negotiations took place over two nights beginning on Thursday, as the two sides worked out the last sticking points from a landmark agreement on power sharing that aimed to establish civilian rule in Sudan. One of the points that had been left undecided was the fate of the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary run by the powerful General Hamdan. According to the agreement signed on Sunday, the forces will be directly overseen by the Sudanese Army. Another point of contention was the possibility of absolute immunity from prosecution for military generals for past actions, including protest-related violence. The agreement established that immunity could be lifted for a convicted military official based on a vote by a legislative body made up of representatives from the pro-democracy movements, Mr. Hamid said. The New York Times

What Does Sudan’s Constitutional Declaration Say?
The document, initialled on Sunday, paves the way for a transition to civilian rule following the toppling of long-time President Omar al-Bashir in April. It sets the shape of an interim government that will govern Sudan for a transitional period of three years until elections are held. … A formal signing of the document will take place in front of foreign dignitaries on August 17. The following day, the generals and protest leaders are expected to announce the composition of the Sovereign Council which will replace the TMC. Here is what the new agreement entails… Al Jazeera

The Kaduna State High Court has granted the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and his wife Zeenatu Zakzaky bail for medical leave in India. The name of the hospital where the IMN is expected to visit is Mandeta Hospital, located in New Delhi, India. Mr El-Zakzaky has been in detention since 2015 after soldiers raided the IMN headquarters in Zaria and killed at least 347 Shiites. The government accused the group of not recognising the Nigerian constitution and authority. Mr El-Zakzaky’s prolonged detention despite several court orders for his release fueled protests by Shiites in Nigeria. Recent protests by the group have resulted in violence, with a journalist and a police officer killed two weeks ago in Abuja. It is not clear yet if the government will obey the latest bail and release Mr El-Zakzaky and his wife, who are said to be in very poor health. Premium Times

Security forces have fired teargas at protesters in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos Monday morning. The Revolution Now protests called for by activists had been expressly outlawed by the police who said it was treasonable. Photos shared on social media showed people gathered at the Lagos national stadium where people were gathering for the event. The forceful dispersal of protesters led to some scuffles that left a number of people bruised. Protesters were heard singing a famous revolutionary anthem about solidarity and fighting for their rights. A leader of the protest and publisher of Nigeria’s online news portal Sahara Reporters, Omowole Sowore was over the weekend detained by intelligence operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS. Africa News

The Presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 2019 presidential election in Nigeria, Omowole Sowore, has reportedly been arrested by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS). According to Sahara Reporters, Sowore’s online outfit, he was picked up at his apartment in the early hours of Saturday, with an eyewitness confirming that his phone was forcefully taken from him. Local media report his arrest by the DSS could be as a result of his plans to mobilised people in Lagos and many parts of the country for a revolution protest tagged ‘Days of Rage’ to demand a better Nigeria. Africa News

The multinational force fighting Boko Haram along the Lake Chad region on Saturday debunked claims that militants attacked a military base and killed up to 40 in Baga, a town in Nigeria’s northeast region. The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) described the media reports which as “false”, saying it was a desperate attempt by certain individuals to promote propaganda by the terror group. Col. Timothy Antigha, a Nigerian army officer who is also the spokesman for the MNJTF, said in a statement reaching Xinhua in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno, that the very last engagement between the multinational force and Boko Haram militants was on July 29. Xinhua

The Presidency on Sunday questioned the activities of Amnesty International, a group that advocates human rights and freedom. PREMIUM TIMES reported how ‘pro-government’ protesters mounted a demonstration outside the Abuja office of Amnesty International on Friday. Amnesty International had condemned some activities of the government like the detention of the Shiites Islamic Movement’s leader, Ibrahim El-zakyzaky, and his wife, Zeenat, against court orders. Another issue for which the group criticised the Nigerian government was the arrest of SaharaReporters’ publisher and activist, Omoyele Sowore, over the planned protest against bad governance. In a tweet on its social media handle, the presidency said it has no objection to the activities of Amnesty International but questions ‘their promotion of tweets that call for the overthrow of the Nigerian constitution’. … The human rights group said it remained undaunted by the “sponsored protests” and would continue to carry out its duties in the country. Premium Times

Nineteen people died and 30 were injured in an explosion resulting from a car crash in central Cairo, Egypt’s health ministry said early on Monday. There was no official statement indicating that the explosion was an attack. The blast happened when a car driving against traffic on Cairo’s Nile corniche road collided with three other cars, the interior ministry said in a separate statement. It triggered a blaze that forced the partial evacuation of the nearby National Cancer Institute, the health ministry said. Egypt’s public prosecutor is investigating the cause of the incident, the report said, but there was no official statement indicating whether the explosion was a terrorist attack. Egypt has battled Islamic jihadists for years in the Sinai Peninsula in an insurgency that has occasionally spilled over to the mainland, hitting minority Christians or tourists. Monday’s explosion comes as Egypt’s vital tourism industry is showing signs of recovery after years of stagnation due of the political turmoil and violence that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak. Reuters

Terrorists Turn to Female Suicide Bombers in New Trend
On July 24, this year, a female suicide bomber walked into a security meeting being held at the office of Mogadishu mayor Abdirahman Omar Osman and blew herself up killing seven and injuring several others. Al-Shabab terrorists claimed responsibility for the attack, telling local media that UN envoy to Somalia James Swan, who had left the building when the attack happened, was their target. Mr Osman was critically injured in the blast and later died in Qatar where he was receiving treatment. This was the fourth known time Al-Shabaab has used a woman in a suicide attack. Now the frequency at which it is deploying women in their attack missions is alarming regional security agencies. Not only are they concerned by the high rate at which the Al-Qaeda-affiliated group is recruiting young well- educated women, but are also wary about the high profile positions it is giving them in the insurgency movement. Daily Nation

Libya to Shut Down Three Migrant Detention Centers
Libya plans to shut down three migrant detention centers in the country following deadly shipwrecks on the Mediterranean at the end of July. According to the United Nations, July has seen the deadliest shipwrecks involving migrants to Libya this year. On July 25, a boat carrying migrants from North African countries capsized after setting off from Libyan shores trying to reach Europe. A total of 150 migrants from Eritrea, Sudan, Egypt and Libya are feared dead or missing in the Mediterranean. “We live with political division. We have two governments, one in the east and the other in the west. Our south unfortunately, is wide open for anyone to enter, because of that political war. The migrant problem is much bigger than the current capabilities of both governments,” said Saleh Feheima, member, Migrants and Displaced Committee, Libyan Parliament. Africa News with Reuters

Seychelles Gov’t Condemns Somaliland of Violating an International Piracy Agreement
Seychelles has condemned the early release of 19 convicted pirates who were sentenced in the island nation and transferred to Somalia to complete their sentences, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. Somaliland authorities on Thursday released the convicts, who were sentenced in Seychelles to serve 30, 36 and 42 years in prison for piracy. In 2011, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the transfer of sentenced pirates between the government Somaliland and Seychelles. In 2012, 19 convicts were transferred into the custody of the Somaliland authorities where the pirates were to complete their sentences. The government of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, formally wrote to the Somaliland authorities, expressing its strong disapproval of the early release. Goobjoog News

Uhuru’s Diplomatic Charm Offensive to Save Kenya from Losing to Somalia
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has kicked off a diplomatic charm offensive in Africa, Europe and the Middle East as the dispute with Somalia over maritime resources continues to weigh heavily on his government. The time is running out and Kenya’s options are dwindling as the International Court of Justice at The Hague prepares to start hearings on September 19 on the Indian Ocean maritime border case filed by Somalia in 2014. The dispute has simmered over time, with Somalia accusing Kenya of encroaching on its 100,000-square-kilometre territory with oil and gas deposits. Before the case was filed, bilateral negotiations had dragged on for six years without much success. The East African

Benin Court Bans Presidential Rival Zinsou from Polls for 5 Years
A court in Benin has handed a top opposition politician a suspended six-month jail term over campaign breaches and banned him from standing for elections for five years, in the latest case targeting rivals of President Patrice Talon. Former Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, who lives in France, was found guilty of using false documents and “exceeding” spending limits in his 2016 bid for the West African nation’s presidency, judicial sources told AFP news agency. Critics say Friday’s ruling is part of a concerted crackdown by former business magnate Talon that has driven key opponents into exile. In October, multimillionaire Sebastien Ajavon, who has voiced his ambitions for the top job, was sentenced in absentia to 20 years for drug trafficking. Former President Thomas Boni Yayi left Benin in June, ostensibly for medical treatment, after being kept under de-facto house arrest after he criticised one-sided parliamentary elections that sparked bloody street protests. AFP

Ugandan Academic Jailed for Insulting President on Facebook
A prominent Ugandan academic has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after being found guilty of cyberharassment for a series of Facebook posts criticizing President Yoweri Museveni, including calling him “a pair of buttocks.” The verdict on Friday against Stella Nyanzi, a university lecturer and researcher, drew the ire of rights activists, who accused the government of using laws about electronic communications to stifle political dissent. Joan Nyanyuki, director for East Africa at Amnesty International, said, “This verdict is outrageous and flies in the face of Uganda’s obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression.” She added that it “demonstrates the depths of the government’s intolerance of criticism.” The New York Times

Zimbabwe Protests US Sanction against Its Tanzania Ambassador
Zimbabwe protested on Friday against US sanctions against its current ambassador to Tanzania for his alleged role in the repression of a post-election demonstration that killed six people last year in his country. Anselem Sanyatwe, former head of the presidential guard, is accused of commanding the soldiers who opened fire in August 2018 on demonstrators protesting against a delay in publishing the results of the previous month’s presidential election. The Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a statement that it had summoned the United States Ambassador to Harare, Brian Nichols, to “express its dissatisfaction” with the sanctions imposed on Mr. Sanyatwe. AFP

Zimbabwe Reaches ‘Tipping Point’ as Inflation Blacked Out
Zimbabwe’s finance minister responded to the country’s worsening economic crisis last week by blacking out inflation statistics for the next six months, boosting the price of the little power that’s available five-fold and admitting what the International Monetary Fund told him in April: the economy will contract for the first time since 2008. At the same time he spoke of fiscal surpluses and a relaxation in local ownership requirements for the key platinum industry. This all happened in a country with daily power cuts of up to 18 hours and shortages of everything from bread to motor fuel. People are receiving food aid in cities for the first time and a drought has necessitated the import of hundreds of thousands of tons of corn. Bloomberg

DR Congo Tests 12 More Patients for Ebola
The Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, tested 12 more patients for Ebola, the twelve people were instructed to undergo testing for possible Ebola infection in Goma district. This comes only a few days after three patients were tested positive for the disease. According to the presidency, a total of 12 people from various centres on the outskirts (of Goma) are undergoing testing after the response team triggered the alert protocol. Another six others suspected of carrying the virus were discharged on Friday after testing negative, the presidency added. Africa News with AFP

Mozambique Sets Up Checkpoints for Ebola along Malawi Border
Mozambique set up checkpoints along its border with Malawi to prevent an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo from spreading to the country. Travelers coming from Malawi will be monitored for the disease using a scanner, Hidayate Kassim, the provincial health director of the Zambezia region in Mozambique, told reporters, citing reports of “suspected” cases of Ebola in Malawi that have not been confirmed. Malawi has no direct border with Congo, but it borders Zambia and Tanzania, which both do. … Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, Burundi, South Sudan and the Republic of Congo all border the Democratic Republic of Congo. The World Health Organisation declared the current outbreak of Ebola an international public health emergency in July. Bloomberg

More than 70 Cambodian Troops to Join UN Mission in S. Sudan
The contingent of the blue helmets, Khmer Times reported, will comprise of 73 military police officers from Company 861 based in the country’s province. “Military police officers, including 11 women, will leave to join a UN peacekeeping mission in South Sundan,” said General Sem Sovanny, the director-general of the National Centre for Peacekeeping Forces in Cambodia. He said all the officers received training to carry out the UN mission’s requirements. Cambodia, according to Gen. Sovanny, has already sent thousands of the blue helmets for various UN missions in eight countries since more than a decade ago. Sudan Tribune

Halfway Round the World by Plane: Africa’s New Migration Route
Migrants using traditional routes from Africa to Europe often fail to reach their destinations. Smugglers now offer new options, such as taking migrants to faraway countries by plane. In early July, Mexico’s authorities reported that the number of African migrants in the country had tripled. According to government figures, around 1,900 migrants, most of them from crisis-ridden countries like Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are now in Mexico. Their destination? The United States of America. The journey by plane of some of these migrants began halfway across the world in Uganda. In a garden bar in the Ugandan capital Kampala sits a 23-year-old Eritrean man who could soon be one of them. For security reasons, he does not want to give his name. He fled the brutal military service in Eritrea last September. According to human rights organizations, military service in Eritrea can mean years of forced labor. “I do not believe that anything will change in Eritrea soon; on the contrary,” he said. Many young Eritreans see their futures overseas. DW



Photo: Adam Jones