Africa Media Review for December 19, 2019

Timeline of South Sudan Peace Agreements and Violence

Since its inception, South Sudan’s governing structure has been based on the principle of power-sharing. However, the inability of the country’s leaders to share power has been a defining feature of South Sudan’s government and is at the heart of its ongoing conflict. The number of people who have been forcibly displaced has continuously increased since the start of the war, revealing the cumulative humanitarian impact from instability. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

UN Chief Urges South Sudan’s Parties to Maintain Ceasefire

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres has express concerned over clashes between government and opposition force in Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria areas, urging all the parties to maintain ceasefire. “It must be emphasized that the ceasefire is a fundamental achievement of the peace process. As the leaders move forward, maintaining the ceasefire must remain paramount, and the responsibility for it lies with them,” he told the Security Council Tuesday. Guterres, in his report on South Sudan, said there were 17 alleged clashed between the National Salvation Front (NAS) and government forces within the Central and Western Equatoria areas. He said a political solution, through sustained dialogue, is the only way forward for lasting peace to be achieved in the young nation. … Last month, President Salva Kiir and the country’s main opposition leader Riek Machar agreed to delay key benchmarks in the revitalized peace agreement by additional 100 days. Sudan Tribune

Chad: ‘More than a Dozen Killed in Boko Haram Attack’

More than a dozen people were killed in a Boko Haram attack on a fishing village in western Chad on Tuesday, a government official has said. “There were 14 dead, five wounded and 13 missing in the attack” near the village of Kaiga on the shores of Lake Chad, Imouya Souabebe, the prefect of the region, told AFP news agency on Wednesday. Kaiga lies in marshland in a remote, sprawling region where the borders of four countries – Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Nigeria – meet. The village is about 60km (35 miles) from the border with northeast Nigeria, the springboard for Boko Haram raids and kidnappings in neighbouring countries. “We know that there are always Boko Haram elements moving around the (border) area, so they are behind this attack,” Souabebe said. “The attackers first came in a small group and then brought in reinforcements to attack the fishermen,” he added. The region’s governor, Noki Charfadine, gave a toll of at least nine dead. He said the attack had taken place in a “red zone, where fishing is forbidden.” Al Jazeera

Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions Granted Special Status
Lawmakers in Cameroon on Wednesday adopted a draft law on decentralization granting special status to the country’s two English-speaking regions, where a deadly conflict between the army and separatists has been going on for more than two years, according to national radio. The Cameroonian radio station explained that if the law is approved by the Senate and promulgated, the regions will be allowed to develop public policies in the areas of education and justice. This special status was the main recommendation agreed upon by the participants at the Grand National Dialogue convened by President Paul Biya in early October to end this crisis, which has left more than 3,000 people dead. At a time when many voices were being raised to criticise the limited legislative follow-up to this major dialogue, the National Assembly met in extraordinary session on Friday to finally examine this bill. Most of Cameroon’s Anglophones live in these regions, who consider themselves disadvantaged compared to the country’s Francophone majority. AP

‘We Want Total Systemic Change’: Algeria Protesters Reject President-Elect

Ahead of his swearing-in scheduled for Thursday December 19, protesters have welcomed the new Algerian president Abdelmadjid Tebboune with more protests. Thousands of Algerians took part in a march on Tuesday against the president-elect. The protestors accuse him of being close to former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika who was stepped down in April. Tebboune served as a prime minister under Bouteflika for a seven-month period. Demonstrators even before the December 12 polls had opposed the vote demanding an overhaul of the country’s political system to get rid of old regime bureaucrats and officials. Some of the protesters expressed their reservations to journalists: “We are on the street to change the system, they have not implemented our demands, if that were the case, the movement would have stopped. “They changed people, but not ideas. We want them to change ideas and the whole system.” Another said: “Thank God, the determination of students and people has not wavered, we are against dialogue without the release of prisoners, we are against this government’s attempt to manipulate to divide the popular movement.” Africa News

Mosques in Africa: A Test of Strength in the Middle East

Africa is receiving hundreds of mosques. Be the buildings white, mint-green or sky-blue, the funding often comes from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran. The investors’ ideologies have potentially far-reaching consequences. In November the largest mosque in Djibouti, the Abdulhamid II Mosque, was inaugurated. At 13,000 square meters (140,000 square feet) and 6,000 seats, the mosque in Djibouti City is a colossus. Two minarets rise 46 meters (152 feet). The walls are decorated with classic Ottoman calligraphy. The dome is covered with gilded copper lamellas, and a huge chandelier in the inside evokes the illuminations of Turkish mosques. Djibouti’s new landmark was financed by Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs. Diyanet, as the authority is called, considers the mosque a sign of the strengthening bond between Djibouti and Turkey. Most of the material was imported from Turkey, including the cream-colored natural stone in the prayer room. DW

In Burkina Faso, ‘Poor Man’s Bomb’ Reaps a Bloody Toll

They are cheap, made from components that are easily obtained — and murderously effective. Security experts say that in the arsenal of jihadist groups whose insurgency is shaking the Sahel state of Burkina Faso, the improvised explosive device (IED) is one of the deadliest weapons. “With 15,000-20,000 CFA francs (Sh2500-3400), you’ve got an IED that can destroy something worth a thousand times more,” a security source said. “It’s a poor man’s weapon in an asymmetrical war.” Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in violence across the Sahel which began when armed Islamists revolted in northern Mali in 2012. The conflict has since spread to neighbouring Burkina Faso as well as Niger, two of the world’s poorest and most fragile countries. “IEDs appeared in (Burkina Faso) in mid-2018. Since then, we have recorded 33 attacks with IEDs, claiming 133 lives,” said Italian researcher Roberto Sollazzo. … “There’s trafficking from Ghana for the gold-diggers. They can buy a package of dynamite, fuse and detonator for 5,000 CFA francs (Sh850).” AFP

Sudan Marks Anniversary of Uprising That Ousted Bashir

A year after demonstrations broke out in Sudan over soaring bread prices, celebrations are planned across the country on Thursday to mark the uprising that brought down veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir. In the central town of Atbara, the cradle of the revolt, hundreds of people are expected to arrive on a train from Khartoum to stay for a week of festivities. Organised by the transitional government and the protest movement, it is a tribute to the thousands of demonstrators who travelled in the opposite direction to the capital at key moments during the uprising. In Khartoum, celebrations are planned in several districts, particularly at the city’s Freedom Square, which was renamed in honour of the protesters. “I’ll remember the first day of our protest under tear gas and live ammunition, which didn’t stop us,” said Hana Hussein, 21. “Now we can take to the streets in celebration. It’s a great achievement of our revolution.” Badr Mohamed, 22, plans to use the uprising anniversary to demand accountability for the killings of fellow protesters. “I will participate by carrying a banner calling for justice.” AFP

‘Deliver Justice’ for Atrocity Crimes in Darfur, Top Court Prosecutor Tells Security Council

“Concrete steps” must be taken towards ending impunity for atrocity crimes in Darfur, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) told the Security Council on Wednesday, during her briefing on Sudan. Emboldened by positive political changes over the last six months, since the overthrow of former dictator Omar Al Bashir, that include a Constitutional Declaration, and a new Sovereign Council and Cabinet, Fatou Bensouda expressed her hope that “Sudan will honour its commitments to deliver justice” for the victims of civil conflict in the restive Darfur region, stretching back decades. During the Darfur conflict between the Government, their militiamen allies and rebel groups, which began in 2003, the UN estimated that around 300,000 were killed, and around 2.7 million forced from their homes. Former president al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes including genocide, nine years ago. On “a path towards greater peace and stability,” justice for Sudan’s victims “will be essential to comprehensive and enduring peace in Darfur,” she stressed. UN News

Thousands Flee CAR Violence to South Darfur

Thousands of refugees fleeing the tribal battles between Kara and Runga tribes in the Central African Republic (CAR) have arrived in Um Dafug in South Darfur. The Commissioner of Um Dafug, Abdelbasit Abdallah, told Radio Dabanga that the CAR area bordering Um Dafug witnessed an attack and large parts of it were burned on Tuesday. He explained that the armed battles were renewed on Wednesday, saying that the fighting between the conflicting parties has been ongoing since July but has stopped and renewed from time to time. Abdallah said that since July, Um Dafug received more than 13,000 refugees from CAR because of this conflict. The World Food Programme, Unicef, and the Relief Affairs Authority arrived in the region. They undertook an inventory and registration of the refugees and provided them with some assistance. Radio Dabanga

At Least 700 000 Displaced by East DRC Violence: MSF

Nearly 700 000 people have been displaced by violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday, pointing to “worrying” cases of malnutrition and sexual violence. In a press release, it said more than 687 500 displaced people were now living in camps or with host families. Between January and September, MSF treated at least 11 220 children suffering from malnutrition, 2 310 victims of sexual violence and 1 980 wounded, it said. The agency highlighted the territories of Masisi, Rutshuru and Walikale in the southern part of North Kivu province. “We have treated twice as many victims of sexual violence as last year,” Ewald Stals, MSF’s health coordinator in Masisi, said. North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda and Uganda, is one of the most dangerous zones in Africa’s Great Lakes region. AFP

UN Says Cost-Sharing Key to World Refugee Crisis

A year after the United Nation’s General Assembly adopted the Global Refugee Compact to deal with the world refugees crisis, world leaders gathered in Geneva to weigh the progress made, and pledged more than $3 billion to support refugees and about 50,000 resettlement communities. U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the Global Forum on Refugees divvied up the responsibility for dealing with the 25.9 million refugees who have fled war and persecution, mainly exiled in poor neighboring countries. In addition to the $3 billion, Grandi said Germany, which has hosted hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, pledged about $1.9 billion. The Inter-American Development Bank pledged $1 billion to communities hosting refugees in Latin America. The World Bank also increased its funding for projects supporting refugees by 10%, to $2.2 billion. At the end of 2018, nearly 71 million people were living in forced displacement due to war, violence and persecution, including the nearly 26 million who had fled to other countries as refugees. The meeting this week in Geneva stressed the need to share the economic and societal burden of nearly 80% of the world’s refugees living in poor and developing countries. VOA

Africans Want Open Borders, but Can They Overcome Stumbling Blocks?

“The continental free trade area symbolizes our progress toward the ideal of African unity,” Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said over a year ago as he welcomed African leaders to Kigali to a special African Union summit in March 2018. Signed by 54 out of 55 African countries and ratified by 28, the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), is the much anticipated deal, which many hope will enable a single market economy and therefore cross border trade between African countries. Trading under the agreement is due to begin rolling out in July 2020. If all goes well, African countries hope to increase intra-African trade by 53% through a blend of consumer spending, investments and a reduction of import duties. … Yet Rwanda itself has closed its border to Uganda for what analysts say is a long-standing spat between presidents Yoweri Museveni and Kagame. The closure of the borders has crippled bilateral trade and also created a barrier between communities where people have deep cross-border trade and family ties. “In Rwanda’s case their model is to be the Singapore of Africa,” Satchu said. “If you want to be a Singapore of Africa you need free trade.” DW

Nigerians Raise Alarm over Controversial Social Media Bill

Tens of thousands of Nigerians have banded together online to call for the scrapping of a bill which, they say, threatens to roll back internet freedoms in the country. The proposed legislation – officially named the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019 – would allow Nigeria’s government to cut off internet access or block specific social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter at its own discretion. “The law enforcement department may direct the NCC [Nigerian Communications Commission] to order the Internet access service provider to disable access by users in Nigeria to the online location and the NCC must give the Internet access service provider access blocking order,” it says. Otherwise known as the Social Media Bill, the act also contains provisions prohibiting statements online deemed “likely to be prejudicial to national security” and “those which may diminish public confidence” in Nigeria’s government – offences that would be punishable by fines of up to 300,000 Naira ($825) or imprisonment for up to three years. Al Jazeera

Freeing Freetown: A Tale of Atrocities Committed by Nigeria’s ECOMOG Soldiers in Sierra Leone (Part 2)

In the years since the Special Court completed its mandate, Ms Alagendra has helped set up a school for children displaced in the conflict and has come in contact with victims of ECOMOG abuse. Many spoke of rape and torture. She was particularly drawn to the phenomenon of ‘ECOMOG babies’, thousands of children whose mothers were impregnated by ECOMOG troops, some through rape. In present-day Sierra Leone, there’s a social death that comes with being identified as an ‘ECOMOG baby’ as Alagendra has witnessed. The children and their mothers are taunted and called names. “I’ve spoken to some children: they are given Nigerian nicknames as part of being made fun of, and as they grow they blame their mothers,” Ms Alagendara says. “But most of them were children themselves at the time.” It’s not clear just how many mothers and children are in this situation. “ECOMOG babies boku for here,” Yeno, a 33-year-old who lives in Lungi, tells me. Yeno was pulled inside the Lungi base by a group of Nigerian ECOMOG soldiers in 2000, a few years to the end of the war. Lungi houses the airport, and many soldiers were camped there for swift evacuation. Yeno got pregnant from the rape. She is one of nine victims Ms Alagendra is seeking redress and reparations for. Premium Times and Mail & Guardian

14 Months after Stroke, Gabon’s Bongo Opens Regional Summit

Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba has opened a central African summit, marking a return to the international scene nearly 14 months after suffering a stroke. The 60-year-old gave a roughly four-minute speech on Wednesday to launch a gathering of the 11-nation Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). Bongo’s health has become a closely-watched issue in Gabon, with critics insisting that his stroke has left him medically unfit to run the country. … The extraordinary summit, announced with only a few weeks’ notice, aims at beefing up ECCAS’ secretariat to create a more powerful commission, similar to that of the African Union or European Union. The group lags far behind similar bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in terms of regional integration. Four ECCAS heads of state were present – Presidents Idriss Deby of Chad, Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic, Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Evaristo Carvalho of Sao Tome and Principe. Al Jazeera

Runner-Up in Namibia Presidential Race Challenges Poll Outcome

Namibian independent presidential candidate Panduleni Itula has lodged a legal challenge to his loss in last month’s elections. Itula has urged Namibia’s Supreme Court to order a re-run of the elections as soon as possible, charging that they were unfair. In his 126-page affidavit, Itula alleged gross irregularities with the electronic voting machines used during the polls. The Supreme Court has not yet set a date to hear Itula’s case. President Hage Geingob of the ruling SWAPO party is to be sworn in to a new term on March 21, after winning re-election to a second five-year term in the Nov. 27 elections. His support dropped from the 87% he garnered in 2014 to 56%, amid public frustration over graft scandals and unemployment. Itula, who also a SWAPO member, won 30% of the vote. The ruling SWAPO party has been shaken by corruption allegations linked to fishing quotas that brought two cabinet ministers to resign. SWAPO, in power since independence from South Africa in 1990, lost its strategic two-thirds majority in parliament, dropping from 77 seats to 63 seats. AP

‘An Unprecedented Event’: Is This the Most Important Art Show Ever Seen in Africa?

The travelling exhibition takes in seven cities – Casablanca, Dakar, Abidjan, Lagos, Addis Ababa, Cape Town and Marrakech – all of which have exciting new art markets. In a chosen gallery in each city, audiences will see work by 30 of Africa’s biggest artists. … “All too often the careers of African artists are built on exhibitions in Paris, Berlin, London and New York … but go by without anybody in Africa actually noticing them,” writes Konaté in his programme notes. “We are haunted by these ghost-like events that create the nagging feeling that Africa’s art scene has been completely ignored.” Speaking from his home in Ivory Coast, Konaté says he believes “in the power of art [to heal]. But this force is more symbolic than practical. How can one forget that art, especially music, has sometimes been used as instruments of torture in concentration camps and prisons? Artists collaborated with dictators while producing songs that filled hearts with joy. My idea is that artists work for values above money and politics.” While on the surface the show feels like a celebration unburdened by politics, you don’t need to dig too far to hit hard ground. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones