Africa Media Review for December 10, 2019

Sowore: Nigerian Civil Society Groups Issue Ultimatum, Vow Mass Protests
A coalition of civil society organisations in Nigeria has issued a 14-day ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari to release Omoyele Sowore and other illegal detainees in SSS custody or brace for nationwide protests. Mr Sowore, the publisher of Sahara Reporters, was initially released by the SSS on Thursday after prolonged refusal by the State Security Service to obey a court order for his freedom. On Friday, the SSS invaded a courtroom in Abuja and rearrested the activist. Mr Sowore called for protests to demand good governance. The government accuses him of treason, money laundering and insulting Mr Buhari. … In a joint statement read by Yemi Adamolekun of Enough Is Enough Nigeria (EiE), the groups presented five demands to the government. … “Tomorrow, December 10, the world will celebrate Human Rights Day. It will also be marked in Nigeria as we review the crackdown of the freedom of the press, proposed bills to curb dissent, and a general environment of shrinking civic space of which the recent actions of our security agents is just an example,” the statement said. Premium Times

Algeria’s Unwanted Presidential Election
Algerians are being asked to vote Thursday in a presidential election bitterly opposed by the country’s nine-month-old protest movement, which sees it as a regime ploy to cling to power. While no opinion polls have been published, observers expect high levels of abstention, in keeping with previous elections in a political system seen by voters as rigid and unaccountable. … Overseas polling booths for expat Algerians opened Saturday, but have been almost empty — the few who do cast their ballots often facing a barrage of insults from protesters. Direche, of France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), said that despite being traditionally conservative and close to the regime, today the diaspora “is mobilised against the election”. … The five candidates in the poll have run low-key campaigns. All are considered “children of the system,” having either supported Bouteflika or participated in his government — two as ministers and two as prime ministers. Protesters accuse them of protecting the regime by standing for election. AFP

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed Picks Up Nobel Peace Prize as Pressure Mounts Back Home
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will collect his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Tuesday, but as ethnic violence rises at home, he has kept festivities to a minimum and refused media requests. Hailed as a modern, reformist leader, Ahmed’s decision to skip all events with the press has dismayed his Norwegian hosts. Africa’s youngest leader at just 43, he is to receive the prestigious award at a ceremony in Oslo’s City Hall at 13:00, attended by the royal family and Norwegian public figures. The Nobel Committee announced in October it was honouring Abiy for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with neighbouring foe Eritrea. On July 9, 2018, following a historic meeting in Eritrea’s capital Asmara, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally ended a 20-year-old stalemate between their countries in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict. … Abiy’s reforms and visions lifted hopes far beyond his country’s borders, but the “Abiymania” hype has faded somewhat and he is now facing major challenges. AFP

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan plan to meet in Washington, DC, in January to try and finalise an agreement to resolve their dispute over a massive dam project on the Nile River. A joint statement issued by the US Treasury Department on Monday said their three foreign ministers met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and World Bank President David Malpass in Washington to work out differences over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the second such meeting since early November. “The Ministers of Foreign Affairs look forward to reconvening in Washington, DC, on January 13, 2020 to review the results of the upcoming technical meetings in Khartoum and Addis Ababa with the goal of finalizing an agreement,” the statement said. Two more technical meetings will take place in the next few weeks centred on coming up with rules and guidelines for the filling and operation of the dam, it said. “The ministers recognise that there are substantial benefits to all three countries in developing rules and guidelines to address drought conditions,” said the statement. Al Jazeera

Libya Arms Embargo Being Systematically Violated by UN States
UN member states have systematically violated a Libyan arms embargo, according to a long-awaited UN report due to be published on Monday that will identify Jordan, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates as the main culprits. The report is expected to say these three countries “routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons with little effort to disguise the source.” It is also likely to link the UAE to a bombing of a detention centre that has been described as a war crime. With the UN already accused of overseeing a new age of impunity, the report’s findings are a further test of the organisation’s ability to enforce its own resolutions. Ghassan Salame, the UN special envoy for Libya, said at the weekend that interference by foreign powers in Libya – diplomatically and militarily – was now the biggest obstacle to peace in the country, and divisions in the UN security council meant the UN had been unable even to call for a ceasefire, despite Libya being discussed there 15 times. He said the arms embargo had been violated at least 45 times since 4 April. The Guardian

The Enemies of Sudan’s Democracy Are Lurking Everywhere
During the morning shift at Omdurman Teaching Hospital, sick people group under trees in the courtyard, awaiting admission. There are 645 beds and upwards of 1,500 patients each day. Inside, Mohammed Elhag Hamed brought a manila folder over to me. The documents inside formed a paper trail of corruption. They showed how the political appointees who had been running the hospital had put money that should have gone to patient services, into the pockets of those loyal to the National Congress Party, which had ruled the country for three decades under President Omar al-Bashir. Hamed, an open-faced man in his early fifties, talked me through the documents. They were simultaneously banal and riveting. Banal because of their bureaucratic character: expense logs, personnel lists. Riveting because they were a concrete example of how corruption had been institutionalized across Sudan throughout Bashir’s rule. Hamed found the files on the office computer of his predecessor, the former general manager of the hospital, who evidently believed that Sudan’s kleptocratic dictatorship would never fall. Foreign Policy

IOM Registers 14,500 People Displaced, 111,500 Returnees in Sudan
In the first three quarters of 2019, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) registered 14,500 displaced and 111,500 returnees in six states in Sudan. The highest number of displaced (5,800 people) was registered in South Darfur. Returns have been recorded in all Darfur states, most likely due to the improved security, cessation of hostilities, and peace-building initiatives of the Sudanese government and partners. The highest number of returnees (44,500 people) was registered in North Darfur. There are still concerns about services in return areas, which often lack even the most basic of services that can impact the sustainability of these returns, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan said in its Situation Report on Thursday. The government, with the assistance of partners, will need to ensure that return locations have the necessary basic services, including protection, water, nutrition sanitation, hygiene, health care, and education. Radio Dabanga

South Sudan Legislative Speaker Forced to Resign
The speaker of South Sudan’s transitional legislative assembly, Anthony Lino Makana, has been forced by his party members to resign. Makana resigned during a meeting of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) caucus held in Juba on Sunday. … The now-former speaker refused to resign in November when lawmakers from the SPLM threatened to vote him out office. The SPLM lawmakers accused Makana of allegedly embezzling funds and approving a $400 million loan from Afrexim Bank without bringing it first to the house as required by law. Makana denied wrongdoing and threatened to sue lawmakers for tarnishing his image. … President Kiir appointed Makana the speaker of the assembly in August 2016 following the signing of the first peace deal between the government and rebels led by former vice president Riek Machar. … Makana is the first house speaker to resign in the eight-year history of South Sudan. The SPLM has yet to nominate his replacement. VOA

The son of the man who ruled Angola for 38 years has gone on trial for corruption in a rare case of such a high-profile official being taken to court. José Filomeno dos Santos and his co-accused helped spirit $0.5bn (£0.4bn) out of the country during his time as head of Angola’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, prosecutors say. They have both pleaded not guilty. The case is seen as a test of Angola’s commitment to fight corruption. It is an extraordinary moment for a famously corrupt, impoverished and oil-rich country, says BBC Southern Africa correspondent Andrew Harding. José Eduardo dos Santos was president from 1979 until he resigned in 2017 to be replaced by President Joao Lourenco, who is from the same governing party, the MPLA. The fortunes of the family of the former president, who had allowed corruption to flourish during his rule, changed after he stepped down, our reporter says. After coming to power, Mr Lourenço abruptly turned against the Dos Santos clan and promised reforms and a clean-up, he says. BBC

US Airstrike Kills Extremist Rebel in Somalia, Say Officials
Intelligence officials in Somalia say an airstrike conducted by the U.S. military in the country’s south killed a senior extremist of the al-Shabab rebel group. The airstrike on Monday by an unmanned U.S. drone targeted a vehicle outside Sakow, a town in Somalia’s Middle Jubba region, killing the rebel and wounding another, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. The strike was conducted in coordination with Somali intelligence which assisted in tracking the slain militant before the U.S. airstrike. The U.S. Africa Command confirmed the strike. “We continue to work closely with our Somali partners to take decisive action to weed out terrorists who wish to do harm to the Somali people,” said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Miguel A. Castellanos, deputy director of operations, U.S. Africa Command, in a statement which said that no Somali no civilians were injured or killed as a result of the airstrike. AP

Qatar Airways Buys Majority Stake in Rwanda International Airport
Qatar Airways has agreed to take a 60 percent stake in a new $1.3bn international airport in Rwanda, according to a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on Monday. The board said a first phase of construction would provide facilities for seven million passengers a year in the Bugesera district, about 25km southeast of the capital Kigali. A second phase, expected to be completed by 2032, would double capacity to 14 million passengers a year. “The partnership features three agreements to build, own, and operate the state-of-the-art facility,” the MoU signed between Qatar Airways and the Rwandan government said. The country’s infrastructure minister Claver Gatete told a news conference that a construction company was still being sought to build the airport. The plans for the new airport are a modification of those drawn up in 2017 for a smaller facility with a maximum capacity of 4.5 million passengers a year in the same location. … Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani is currently visiting Kigali for the presentation of the International Anti-Corruption Excellence (ACE) Award. Reuters

South Africa Hit by Massive Power Cuts as Floods Disrupt Supply
South Africa has been hit by massive power cuts as heavy rains flood power stations and disrupt coal-fired electricity generation. The state-owned utility Eskom said on Monday that it could only meet 80% of the country’s energy demand and called for a “concerted collective effort” after about a quarter of its generation capacity failed. The failure to provide adequate power for what has long been seen as Africa’s most developed economy will underline the huge challenges faced by the president, Cyril Ramaphosa, as he attempts to turn round flagging growth rates and bring in much-needed reforms. South Africa is struggling with soaring unemployment, high rates of violent crime and patchy delivery of basic services. Many blame incompetence and graft under the previous president, Jacob Zuma. Power cuts earlier this year pushed the country close to recession. … In a statement, Ramaphosa said although many of the state-owned firms such as Eskom and SAA were deeply in debt, they remained valuable state assets with immense capacity. “We will not allow any of these strategic entities to fail. Rather, we need to take all necessary steps – even drastic ones – to restore them to health,” he said. The Guardian

Cyclone Hits Madagascar, Killing 9 and Making 1,400 Homeless
Cyclone Belna has hit northern Madagascar, with nine dead and three missing from the first tropical storm of the season, according to local officials. Belna blew into the western town of Soalala, where more than 1,400 residents were made homeless because their houses were destroyed, damaged or flooded, Col. Elack Olivier Andriakaja of the national catastrophe management office, said Tuesday. Those displaced have found temporary shelter in primary schools, mosques and district offices but they need food, said Andriakaja. Many government administrative buildings and roads have also been damaged, he said. Emergency food rations will be delivered to Soalala by sea, said officials. Madagascar’s Prime Minister Christian Ntsay will be flying to Soalala to assess the damage. The storm’s winds blew off or dislodged the roofs of 80% of the town’s residences and government offices, said Soalala’s member of parliament Naina Randriamisa, who said water is rising across the city. AP

Nobel Peace Prizes for Africa over Six Decades
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is receiving this year’s Nobel Peace Prize as the 10th laureate to come from Africa, and the youngest. The first prize went to the continent in 1960. DW takes a look back. … The first African to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize was the ANC president, Albert Lutuli, who won it in 1960 for his peaceful policies against racial segregation in South Africa. At the time, both the liberation movement and Luthuli had already been banned by the apartheid government. He wasn’t able to receive the prize in Oslo until a year later, when a travel ban was lifted for 10 days. … Archbishop Desmond Tutu campaigned for human rights and against discrimination – he was South Africa’s moral compass. “We are a rainbow nation,” he said. The Anglican priest was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. The humorous dignitary was not only a close friend of Nelson Mandela, but appreciated worldwide, including by the Dalai Lama. DW



Photo: Adam Jones