Africa Media Review for December 20, 2021

Sudan Anti-Coup Protesters Face Off against Tear Gas at Massive Democracy Rally
Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese protesters rallied Sunday for a civilian-led transition to democracy, three years since the start of mass demonstrations that led to the ouster of veteran strongman Omar al-Bashir. … Demonstrators approaching the palace gates chanted slogans against military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led a coup on October 25. … In the evening, demonstrators declared they would hold a sit-in similar to the one that eventually toppled Bashir. … Some 123 people were injured in Khartoum, its twin cities of Bahri and Omdurman and the eastern city of Kassala, according to the Sudanese health ministry. … Sudan’s generals in the post-Bashir transition government launched their coup almost two months ago and held Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok under effective house arrest for weeks but reinstated him on November 21. The move alienated many of Hamdok’s pro-democracy supporters, who dismissed it as providing a cloak of legitimacy for Burhan’s coup. “Any coup, even after the reinstatement of Hamdok, is unacceptable,” a protester in his 20s told AFP as thousands waving Sudanese flags marched past him. “Our glorious December revolution is seeking civil institutions, not particular individuals.” … “The coup has put obstacles in the way of the democratic transition and has given the military complete control over politics and the economy,” Ashraf Abdel-Aziz, chief editor of the independent Al-Jarida newspaper, told AFP. Sudan’s military dominates lucrative companies in sectors from agriculture to infrastructure. The prime minister said last year that 80 percent of the state’s resources were “outside the finance ministry’s control.” France24 with AFP and Reuters

Sudan: On Revolution’s Third Anniversary, Protesters Vow Not to Be Silenced
Millions are still fighting for a democratic government, three years after their protests began… Perhaps the biggest setback came this autumn, when an unreformed and unrepentant military tried to seize power again in an October coup. Officers were apparently afraid of losing power and decades of accumulated privileges, and of being held accountable for past abuses, if progress towards civilian rule continued. They have partially backed down, after weeks of lethal protests and turmoil in the street and a near-total halt of foreign support for the country’s battered economy. … The coup has changed the political dynamic in Sudan, consolidating military power. But it also showed that brutal security forces and the slow, stuttering nature of progress towards democracy have not sapped the political will for change. “I never missed a single protest for the past three years,” said Galal. Like Abbas, she found her injury only intensified her commitment. … The scale of medical assistance needed is further testimony to the commitment of Sudanese protesters to put their lives on their line in the long struggle to wrest control of their country back from the army. “The military is in a stronger position than it was before the coup,” said Cameron Hudson, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Africa Centre, but protests have shown that “the most powerful force in the country is not the military – it is the people.” The Guardian

US and Norway Urge Sudan’s Coup Leaders to Recommit to Civilian-Led Democratic Transition
US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, has urged Sudan’s political and military leaders to respond to the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a democratic Sudan, by putting the interests of the country above their own and recommitting to civilian-led democratic transition. … “Three years ago, Sudan’s citizens united to demand an end to repression and the start of a democratic future. Sudanese from all walks of life – especially Sudan’s women and youth – showed great courage in taking to the streets. Some paid with their lives. Their bravery and sacrifice will forever remain an inspiration to all those seeking democracy. … Since the unconstitutional military takeover on October 25, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese have again taken to the streets to demand respect for their basic human rights and to voice their enduring aspiration for a democratic Sudan. The United States stands in solidarity with their calls for a civilian-led transition, which is the only pathway to a stable, just, prosperous, and peaceful Sudan. We urge Sudan’s political and military leaders to respond to these calls by putting the interests of the country above their own and by recommitting to the spirit of the 2019 Constitutional Declaration through demonstrable action. Transitional institutions need to be strengthened under civilian authority, and the state of emergency should be lifted. All political detainees held since October 25 should be freed and freedom of assembly and peaceful protest must be guaranteed. Those responsible for the use of excessive force against civilians should be held accountable.” Radio Dabanga

Thousands Protest against Tunisian President on 10th Anniversary of Uprising
Thousands of protesters demonstrated against Tunisian President Kais Saied in the capital on Friday, pointing to growing opposition to his seizure of power and suspension of parliament five months ago. Called to coincide with the anniversary of the uprising that toppled the autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali a decade ago, it was the first protest since Saied announced a long-awaited road map on Monday that keeps parliament suspended for another year. The protesters began to gather in centre of Tunis, chanting “Freedom, freedom, the police state is over!” and “The people want the removal of the president!” “It isn’t a road map to exit the crisis, but to perpetuate the crisis,” said Jawhar Ben Mubarak, a constitutional law expert and activist in “Citizens against the coup,” which has mobilised opposition to Saied. Saied “abducted the country half a year ago and wants to abduct it for another year,” he said. … Security forces deployed heavily in the area. Reuters

Gunmen Kill 47 in Latest Attacks in Nigeria’s Troubled North
Nigerian security forces are searching for armed gangs who killed 47 people in attacks in recent days in rural areas of the country’s northwest, the latest killings in the troubled region. The attacks took place in the northwest Kaduna state which neighbors Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, Kaduna commissioner for security Samuel Aruwan confirmed. … The attacks have escalated in the past three months so the death toll for the entire year is expected to increase. … Security forces deployed after the attacks are patrolling the affected areas, but no arrests have been announced and details are still emerging. Local residents reported that the assailants rampaged for hours in some of the villages. Nine people were killed across three villages on Friday, according to Kaduna commissioner Aruwan, a reminder of how the armed groups are able to carry out prolonged assaults in remote locations where help is often delayed as a result of inadequate security presence. … The ongoing violence in Nigeria’s troubled northwestern region has defied measures introduced by authorities including the deployment of thousands of security forces to restore peace in violent hotspots and the recent designation of the armed groups as terrorist organizations. Part of the problem is that Nigeria’s military is already overstretched in a decade-long war against Islamic extremist rebels in the northeast region. AP

Terror Leader Writes Government, Gives Conditions for Peace in Northwest Nigeria
Notorious terror leader, Bello Turji, whose group has been unleashing havoc on communities in Sokoto-Zamfara states of Northwestern Nigeria has allegedly listed conditions for him and his men to lay down their arms. In an open letter written in Hausa language and obtained by HumAngle, Turji is calling for a truce between his group in Zamfara, and the Nigerian Government. His letter, addressed to the Nigerian Government via Shinkafi Emirate Council appealing for peace talks, was dated Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021.  … According to the letter translated to the English language, Turji said “massive killing of innocent citizens, vigilante groups, and security agents including the kidnapping for ransom shall come to an end by the grace of God. “This is subject to the unconditional ban of vigilantes groups. Then we will drop all our arms.” The terror leader also asked for a roundtable with traditional rulers and religious leaders, including Sheikh Ahmad Gummi, Kaduna based Islamic cleric, demanding that there should be a stop to the ongoing military actions against him and his groups. Various acts of terrorism have been attributed to Bello Turji, across Zamfara, Sokoto, and Niger states. Most recent of which has been the murder of 23 travelers in Sokoto state, who were burnt alive. HumAngle

Hundreds Protest Treatment of Senegal’s Opposition
Several hundred demonstrators protested Friday in Senegal’s capital, accusing the government of subjecting opposition figures to lengthy detentions. Many of the protesters directed their anger at President Macky Sall, who has been accused by critics of interfering in judicial cases to benefit himself politically. He has denied the allegation. “With this regime, Senegalese democracy has gone backwards. Citizens are no longer equal before the law and institutions. It is time to stop this situation,” said Moustapha Seck, a young activist at the protest. “Macky Sall needs to understand that this country does not belong to him. He must no longer protect members of his camp who have problems with the law,” Seck added. Senegal has long been considered a bastion of democracy in Africa and a regional leader on diplomacy issues in West Africa. When Sall was first elected in 2012, he defeated then President Abdoulaye Wade, who had sparked big demonstrations by seeking a third term in office. Since Sall’s re-election in 2019, though, he has faced growing criticism, particularly from those who fear that he too may seek to run for president again. On Friday, protesters called for the release of a leading member of the activist group Y’en a Marre. Mbissane Seck, known by his alias Kilifeu, was arrested on visa trafficking charges. AP

Uganda, DRC Claim 35 Rebels Held in Fighting
The Democratic Republic of Congo army and its Ugandan allies said Sunday they had destroyed rebel “strongholds” in the country’s restive east this week, in a campaign launched last month against ADF rebels. Troops from the two countries bombarded “new enemy camps identified in the Beni district of North Kivu province and in Ituri province” to the north, the DR Congo armed forces said in a statement posted on Twitter. Since the joint operation was launched on November 30, soldiers had initially improved the region’s roads to make troop movements easier. The army said it had attacked positions of the Allied Democratic Forces — accused of massacres in eastern DR Congo and bomb blasts in Uganda — in the Virunga national park. Meanwhile in Ituri, the armed forces said they had “captured 35 ADF terrorists” from several villages in the Irumu district between December 13 and 15. Uganda’s army had said Saturday that the allies would “step up the operations in different sectors now that the terrorists are no longer encamped, having been dislodged from their former strongholds.” So far, the armies have not made public a toll of dead or wounded in the anti-ADF push. AFP

Kenyans Find Rural Lifeline after COVID City Exodus
If the coronavirus pandemic had not happened, it is likely Jack Onyango would still be living alone, working in Kenya’s capital and sending money back to his wife and children in his faraway rural home. Like so many Kenyans, he moved to Nairobi as a young man, believing that was where the country’s economic opportunities lay. But life in the capital was not easy. Mr Onyango could only afford to travel home to see his family in Kisumu county in the west of the country once a year. … When the virus struck in 2020, the authorities introduced tough lockdown restrictions and like many others, Mr Onyango found himself with no work. … Seeing no way of staying in the city, he decided to move back home to his village in July of that year. … The international development charity World Neighbors says Mr Onyango’s experience is part of a wider reverse migration trend, triggered by the pandemic. “Covid-19 caught everybody by surprise,” says Chris Macoloo, the organisation’s Africa region director. “Most of the people were laid off and, because they live from hand to mouth, they couldn’t feed themselves, they couldn’t pay rent and they couldn’t send money to their families. “So quite a number migrated from cities back to their rural areas.” He says the countryside offered a lifeline for many. “In Africa we are children of two worlds. We have one leg in the city and another one in the countryside. It helped because if we didn’t have that, they would have really been in serious trouble.” BBC

New Head of Unesco World Heritage Centre Wants to Put Africa on the Map
It covers 9 million sq miles (24m sq km) from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and from the Sahara in the north to Cape Point in the south. And in between lie some of the world’s most ancient cultural sites and precious natural wonders. However, despite its vast size, sub-Saharan Africa has never been proportionately represented on Unesco’s world heritage list, its 98 sites dwarfed by Europe, North America and Asia. Now, the first African to be made head of the world heritage centre has said that needs to change – and fast. Lazare Eloundou Assomo, a Cameroonian who led the reconstruction of the Timbuktu mausoleums after they were badly damaged in 2012 by Islamist fighters allied to al-Qaida, has said it will be a priority of his time in office. “What we think has room for improvement is that, when you look at the list, you still, 50 years after [the signing of the world heritage convention], see that there are some regions of the world that are not equally represented in the list as compared to others,” he told the Guardian. “This is something that we, together with the [Unesco] member states and other state parties, have … to address.” The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones