Africa Media Review for December 26, 2018

Clashes Erupt as Sudanese March on Presidential Palace
Clashes erupted Tuesday in the Sudanese capital between police and thousands of protesters attempting to march on the presidential palace to demand that President Omar Bashir step down, according to activists and video clips posted online. The clips purported to show crowds of several hundred each gathering on side roads and headed toward the palace on the bank of the Blue Nile in the heart of Khartoum. They sang patriotic songs and chanted “Peaceful, peaceful against the thieves” and “The people want to bring down the regime.” The latter was the most popular slogan of the 2010 and 2011 Arab Spring revolts. Large numbers of security forces were deployed across much of Khartoum Tuesday in anticipation of the march, with soldiers riding in all-terrain vehicles. Police used tear gas to disperse some of the protesters.  VOA

Amnesty Says 37 Killed in Sudan’s Anti-Government Protests
Amnesty International says it has “credible reports” that Sudanese police have killed 37 protesters in clashes during anti-government demonstrations that erupted last week across much of the country. In a statement late on Monday, the London-based rights group said the use of lethal force by security forces against unarmed protesters was “extremely troubling” given that more protests were planned on Tuesday. A coalition of independent professional unions has called for a march on the presidential palace in Khartoum later Tuesday to submit a petition demanding that longtime autocrat Omar Bashir step down. Two of Sudan’s largest political parties called on their supporters to take part. The protests began last Wednesday, initially over rising prices and shortages of food and fuel, but later escalated into calls for Bashir to go.  AP

Sudan’s Military Pledges to Stand by Embattled President
Sudan’s military on Sunday pledged to stand by President Omar Bashir, according to a tweet by the country’s state news agency, a timely show of support as the embattled leader faces ongoing street protests decrying worsening economic conditions and demanding that he step down. “The armed forces assert that it stands behind its leadership and its keen interest in safeguarding the people’s achievements and the nation’s security, safety along with its blood, honor and assets,” said the tweet, quoting a military statement. Bashir hails from the military establishment, which has dominated the country in the six decades since independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule in 1956. The Sudanese president was an army Brigadier-General when he joined forces with Islamists to seize power in a 1989 military coup that toppled a freely elected but ineffective government. The military statement came as opposition to Bashir mounted and violent street protests continued in a string of cities across the country.  AP

‘We Are Completely Cut Off’: Sudan Govt. Disrupts Internet, School Services
[…] The State of Emergency was declared quickly in Atbara in River Nile state on Wednesday. Two protesters were shot dead in Atbara on Friday, The State of Emergency was also declared in El Gedaref on Wednesday, and today also in White Nile, by state authorities trying to curb the spread of unrest. They have led to the closure of markets, basic and secondary schools, and universities. Khartoum state followed today with the closure of all universities for an unknown period of time, and all the basic and secondary schools have also been closed. It is noteworthy to mention that the demonstrations in Sudan this week are characterised by the participation of large numbers of university students. As for the internet blockade to social media that has persisted since Thursday evening, journalists and activists from Khartoum told Radio Dabanga on Friday afternoon that they have not been able to surf to social media platforms – only after the use of privately owned networks (VPN) as circumvention tool. There has been very slow internet access in general, they pointed out.  Radio Dabanga

Congo Delays Sunday’s Election for Months in Ebola Zone
Congo’s already long-delayed election set for Sunday will be postponed for months in certain communities where a deadly Ebola virus outbreak has infected hundreds of people, the country’s electoral commission announced Wednesday. Some in the opposition quickly called it a ploy to hurt their chances at the polls. The election in and around Beni and Butembo in North Kivu province, and Yumbi in Mai-Ndombe province, will be in March instead, the commission’s statement said. That’s long after Congo’s “definitive” presidential election results are set to be announced on Jan. 15, with the inauguration three days later. Congo’s election has been delayed for more than two years, leading to sometimes deadly protests. Opposition parties have said they will not accept further delays of the vote to choose a successor to longtime President Joseph Kabila. The election already had been pushed from Dec. 23 to Sunday after a fire in the capital, Kinshasa, destroyed voting materials. AP

Congo Opposition Cry Foul over Web-Enabled Voting Machines
Opposition candidates in this weekend’s presidential election in Democratic Republic of Congo demanded on Tuesday that the electoral board deactivate SIM cards in voting machines to prevent the electronic transmission of results. The opposition are up in arms because active SIM cards could allow the electoral board (CENI) to tabulate the vote electronically, despite repeated assurances the results would be based on hand counts of paper print-outs from the machines. Disputes about the largely untested machines have stoked tensions ahead of Sunday’s long-anticipated election, which the CENI postponed from this past weekend due to delays deploying voting materials.  Reuters

Suspected Rebel Attack in DR Congo Kills Five
At least five people, including four civilians, were killed in an attack by suspected Ugandan rebels in DR Congo, an AFP correspondent and witnesses said on Sunday. The attack by Uganda-based Allied Democratic Forces targeted the locality of Masiani in the Beni region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo overnight. An AFP correspondent saw the bodies of a soldier and four civilians — three men and one woman — in the hospital morgue in Beni following the attack. Three people wounded were treated in hospital in Beni. Witnesses said the death toll from the incursion “by the ADF” could be as high as eight. Neither the authorities nor the army confirmed the attack. The ADF, which has operated in DR Congo since 1995, is a loose grouping of Islamist groups with an opaque leadership which opposes President Yoweri Museveni. AFP

Togo President’s Party Wins Majority in Parliament
Togo President Faure Gnassingbe’s party won most seats in parliamentary elections, according to provisional results on Monday, in polls overshadowed by pre-ballot clashes and an opposition boycott. But the party will need support from other legislators to secure a fourth-fifths majority for constitutional change giving President Gnassingbe the chance of staying in power beyond 2020. His Union for the Republic (UNIR) won 59 of the 91 National Assembly seats in the December 20 legislative polls, the provisional results said. The closely-watched election saw the 14-party opposition coalition, C-14, refuse to take part, condemning the playing field as skewed. “The coalition and the people have rejected any notion of elections in the prevailing conditions,” Nathaniel Olympio, head of the Party of the Togolese, told AFP. AFP

Rajoelina Set to Return as Madagascar’s President
Andry Rajoelina looks set to return to Madagascar’s presidency, as partial results from Wednesday’s run-off gave him a 10-point lead. Final results, expected next week, may be contested, with presidential rival Marc Ravalomanana claiming vote rigging. With three million ballots counted out of some five million cast, Rajoelina had won 55.1 percent to 44.8 percent for Ravalomanana, according to the electoral commission. Complete results are expected next week, before a period in which they can be legally challenged via the courts. The two-round election was beset by allegations of fraud from both sides and the result may be contested — raising the risk of political instability on the Indian Ocean island, which has a history of coups and unrest. “We are still waiting for the full results but I believe that the current results are irreversible. Victory is ours!” Hajo Andrianainarivelo, a senior member of Rajoelina’s team, told AFP. Hanitra Razafimanantso, a lawmaker close to Ravalomanana, said they demanded transparency over how the vote was being counted.  RFI

Al-Shabaab Car Bomb Kills at Least 16 in Mogadishu
A vehicle packed with explosives has been detonated at a military checkpoint near Somalia’s presidential palace, killing at least 16 people and wounding more than 20 others, police said. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabaab, which often targets Mogadishu, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Those killed include three members of staff from the London-based Universal TV station, including the prominent journalist Awil Dahir Salad, police spokesman Mohamed Hussein said. The bomber targeted the checkpoint near the rear entrance of the heavily fortified palace, Hussein said. An MP and a deputy mayor of Mogadishu were among those wounded, he said. Soldiers also were among the dead, Col Ahmed Mohamud said. The Guardian

Elections in Comoros Set for March: Presidential Decree
Elections in the Indian Ocean island nation of the Comoros will take place in March, according to a presidential decree published on Monday. Voters will choose the president of the union, a role that had rotated among the three islands of Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli, and the governors of each island. The decree sets presidential and regional elections for March 24 and a second round on April 21 if no clear winner emerges. Political tensions have been running high since July when President Azali Assoumani won a referendum critics say allowed him to consolidate his power and to serve another mandate. The referendum halted the rotation of the presidency among the three main islands, effectively punishing opposition-leaning Anjouan that had been next in line.  AFP

Egypt Names New Military Intelligence Chief
Egyptian officials say the director of the powerful military intelligence agency has been replaced by his deputy. They said Sunday that the new head of the agency, Maj-Gen. Khaled Megawer, a career soldier who commanded the 2nd Army and served as military attache in Washington. The outgoing director, Maj-Gen. Mohammed Farag el-Shahat, was named an assistant to the defense minister. Appointments in the Egyptian military are made by the defense minister and ratified by the president, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces. General-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the military intelligence before he was named defense minister in 2012. A year later, he led the military’s ouster of a freely elected but divisive Islamist president amid street protests against his one-year rule. He was elected president a year later. AP

Cameroon English-Speaking Separatists Attack Town, Kidnap 15
A regional governor in Cameroon says armed English-speaking separatists attacked a French-speaking town, killing one person, kidnapping 15 others and burning 86 homes in the country’s restive North West region. Governor Augustine Awah Fonka said the attack Sunday and Monday was the second on the town of Bangourain. Abdouramann Njowir, a resident, said the attackers called the recent release of nearly 300 suspected separatists who had been jailed for almost a year without trial “a provocation.” He said the separatists shouted for the release of their leader, who remains in prison and may face the death penalty. Cameroon’s English-speaking separatists have been protesting what they call discrimination and marginalization by the French-speaking majority since 2016. Their protests were initially peaceful, but some separatists have begun waging a violent campaign.  AP

Nigeria Says 14 Military, Police Killed in Boko Haram Ambush
Nigeria’s military says 14 military and police personnel have been killed in an ambush by Boko Haram extremists. An army statement says the security forces were on escort duty when they were attacked on Monday just outside Damaturu town in Yobe state in the north of the country. The statement signed by army spokesman Col. Onyema Nwachukwu says efforts to pursue and “eliminate” the Boko Haram extremists are ongoing. Nigeria’s military has been fighting Boko Haram’s Islamic insurgency for nearly a decade. The continued threat is a major issue for President Muhammadu Buhari as he seeks a second term in February’s election. After a recent series of deadly attacks on Nigeria’s military, Buhari and others have warned that the extremists have begun using drones to as part of a resurgence. AP

Several Dead in Suicide Attack on Libyan Foreign Ministry
Three suicide bombers attacked Libya’s foreign ministry in Tripoli on Tuesday, killing at least two other people as well as themselves, authorities said. The three attackers began their assault with a car bomb, damaging vehicles and buildings, and then opened fire on the ministry, a security source said. Two managed to get inside and blow themselves up. The other was killed by ministry guards. Heavy smoke rose from the building, which was surrounded by security forces, as people were rushed to hospital. The health ministry said that apart from the attackers, three people had been killed and at least 21 injured. Interior Minister Fathi Ali Bashagha said however that apart from the attackers only two people were killed, adding that investigations were continuing into the identity of the assailants. Reuters

Russia Says Gaddafi’s Son Should Play Role in Libyan Politics – RIA
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the most prominent son of the former Libyan leader, should play a role in his country’s political life, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov was cited as saying on Monday by the RIA news agency. RIA said that one of Saif’s representatives had delivered a letter from him to Moscow earlier this month in which he had set out ideas for the political future of Libya and that Saif was in regular contact with Russia. Western powers and the United Nations are pushing for the North African country to hold elections next year after a national conference to try to end seven years of conflict in the oil producer. Saif’s father was toppled and killed in a 2011 revolt. Saif, who was detained afterwards before later being freed, was seen by some as a potential reformist successor to his father in the years before 2011 and remains a key figure for Gaddafi loyalists. Reuters

Canada PM Justin Trudeau Makes Surprise Visit to Forces in Mali
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a surprise holiday visit to Mali this weekend to see troops on a U.N. peacekeeping mission. According to the prime minister’s press office, while in Mali Saturday Trudeau met with members of the 250-person brigade and awarded a medal to the commander of the Canadian Air Force stationed here. He thanked the service members for their sacrifice in serving Canada far from their families during the holiday season. Trudeau also met with Mali’s Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maiga to discuss relations between the two countries. Canadian troops have been stationed in Mali on a peacekeeping mission since 2013 although most were deployed in 2018. No Canadian troops have been killed although more than 100 other peacekeepers have died in attacks by extremists and separatists. The Toronto Sun

Macron in Chad to Meet French Troops, Boost G5 Sahel
French President Emmanuel Macron has had pre-Christmas dinner with French soldiers deployed in the Sahel in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, ahead of talks with his counterpart Idriss Deby, to confirm his commitment to the fight against extremism in the region. Macron was greeted by Deby at Kossei air base upon arrival Saturday before dining with French troops stationed in the region as part of the anti-insurgent Operation Barkhane. Macron brought along the Elysées Palace chef, Guillaume Gomez, and enough champagne, foie gras and chocolate for 1,300 troops. The President also addressed commanders of the British, Estonian, German and Spanish units that are taking part in the operation.  RFI

France Drops Probe of Air Crash That Led to Rwanda Genocide
French authorities have dropped a sensitive, long-running investigation into the plane crash that sparked Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, citing lack of sufficient evidence. Several people close to Rwanda’s current president, Paul Kagame, had been under investigation in the case. A French judicial official said Wednesday that investigating judges decided last week to close the case, based on a request from prosecutors. The official provided no details about the decision. The 1994 plane crash killed Rwanda’s then-President Juvenal Habyarimana, an ethnic Hutu. Militants from the Hutu majority blamed minority Tutsis for the death, sparking an ethnic slaughter that killed 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis. The cause of the crash has been a contentious issue. The plane had a French crew, and Rwanda has long accused France of complicity in the genocide, which France denies.  AP

Tunisians Clash with Police after Self-Immolation of Journalist
Tunisian security forces on Tuesday fired tear gas at protesters in the western city of Kasserine following the funeral of a journalist who had set himself on fire over harsh living conditions in this North African country. Abdel Razaq Zorgi, a 32-year-old journalist, died late Monday and his death sparked protests in the city after dark and clashes overnight with police who fired tear gas at dozens of people who had set tyres ablaze and blocked the main street. Six members of the security forces were injured and nine protesters were detained, interior ministry spokesperson Sofiane al-Zaq said Tuesday. After a brief morning calm, protesters were back on the streets of Kasserine in the afternoon after Zorgi’s funeral. They clashed with police outside the governor’s office, an AFP correspondent said.  AFP

Aid Ship with 311 Migrants Ignored by Italy, Heads to Spain
Spain’s Foreign Ministry gave permission Saturday to an aid boat carrying 311 rescued migrants to set course for Spain after Italy and other Mediterranean countries did not answer its request to dock. The boat belonging to the Spanish aid group Proactiva Open Arms saved 313 migrants Friday in waters near Libya. A baby and its mother were then evacuated from the boat. Spain’s Foreign Ministry said Malta denied the aid boat permission to dock and the boat’s calls to Italy, France, Tunisia and Libya have gone unanswered. The aid group said it now has permission to enter the Spanish port of Algeciras. On its Twitter account, Proactiva said “it will be many and difficult days sailing, but we have a safe port.” In June, Italy and Malta denied entrance to another aid ship belonging to SOS Mediterranee Sea and Doctors Without Borders that was carrying over 600 rescued migrants. Spain granted it entry to end its weeklong saga at sea, as Spain’s new center-left government made the humane treatment of migrants one of its first policy decisions in contrast with the hard-line taken by Italy’s populist leaders. AP

In Gupta Brothers’ Rise and Fall, the Tale of a Sullied A.N.C.
Even here in India, the family’s legacy — so large that it has been elevated to myth — faces collapse. The new temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva in their father’s honor, is now being investigated for the same kind of self-dealing and fraud the family is accused of mastering in South Africa.The rise and fall of the Gupta brothers is so improbable that in Saharanpur their story is told like a parable.They began by selling shoes in South Africa and swiftly became central figures in the nation’s post-apartheid history, outsiders who broke into the very pinnacle of political power. Seemingly overnight, they joined the ranks of South Africa’s most influential families, playing a leading role in one of the biggest dramas after the end of apartheid: Who is getting rich, and how? Mr. Mandela’s election as president in 1994 set off a scramble by leaders in his party, the African National Congress, to amass wealth. The early ones succeeded through ties with rich white South Africans. Many others turned to the brothers from Saharanpur.The Guptas found eager partners at all levels of the A.N.C., from bureaucrats to a sitting president, Jacob Zuma, according to dozens of interviews by The New York Times, as well as government investigators, international auditors, emails from a Gupta company, financial records and court documents.  The New York Times