Africa Media Review for February 12, 2020

Sudan Agrees Ex-President Bashir Should Appear before ICC over Darfur
Sudan’s government and rebel groups in Darfur agreed on Tuesday that all those wanted by the International Criminal Court should appear before the tribunal, a list that includes ousted president Omar al-Bashir. Bashir, who has been jailed in Khartoum since he was toppled after mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Information Minister Faisal Saleh did not specifically name him when announcing the move, but said the decision applied to all five Sudanese suspects wanted by the ICC over Darfur. Bashir is one of the five suspects. The government and the rebel groups reached an agreement during a meeting in South Sudan’s capital Juba that included “the appearance of those who face arrest warrants before the International Criminal Court,” said Mohamed al-Hassan al-Taishi, a member of Sudan’s sovereign council. Taishi also said that the two sides agreed to create a Darfur special court to investigate and hear cases including those investigated by the ICC. That court would try Darfur suspects not indicted by the ICC, said Nimri Mohamed Abd, chief negotiator of the Darfur people in Juba. He said Darfur groups and Sudan’s government had agreed to “fully cooperate with the International Criminal Court,” and that the timing of the handover would be decided in final negotiations. Reuters

Who Are Those Wanted by the ICC over Darfur?
Sudan’s transitional authorities have agreed that all those wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged atrocities in Darfur should appear before the tribunal in The Hague. The list of suspects includes Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s former president who was overthrown last year in the face of mass protests against his 30-year rule. Al-Bashir, who in December was sentenced by a Sudanese court to two years in detention for corruption, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, charges he denies. The ICC opened its investigation into Darfur in June 2005 following a referral to the court by the UN Security Council. An estimated 300,000 people were killed in the conflict that broke out in the region in 2003. Al-Bashir’s government had said the death toll was grossly exaggerated. Who are the accused and what are they charged with? Al Jazeera

Leaders of Somalia, Breakaway Somaliland Meet for First Time
The current leaders of Somalia and the breakaway territory of Somaliland have met for the first time in the latest diplomatic effort by Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister. Somali presidential spokesman Abdinur Mohamed confirmed Tuesday’s meeting to The Associated Press, saying it was brokered by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. “It was behind closed doors and no communique is being released. It was an ice-breaking one,” the spokesman said. Ethiopia’s government has not commented publicly on the talks, which occurred on the sidelines of an African Union gathering. Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 as the country collapsed into warlord-led conflict, and it has seen little of the violence and extremist attacks that plague Somalia to the south. Despite lacking international recognition, Somaliland has maintained its own independent government, currency and security system. Somalia considers Somaliland as part of its territory. Several rounds of past talks over possible unification have failed to reach a breakthrough. AP

The African Union (AU) has wrapped up its annual summit, with leaders pledging that the 55-member bloc will play a greater role in resolving protracted conflicts and work to unlock the continent’s economic potential. Tackling issues such as gender equality, climate change and boosting commerce through the creation of a new continental free trade area are also high on the AU agenda for 2020. Keeping with the summit theme of Silencing the Guns, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke of an Africa “that is prosperous and at peace with itself” as he took over as AU chair from his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Commenting on the mood in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital that hosted the summit, South African Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi said: “There is indeed a lot of excitement and expectation about South Africa being at the helm of the AU.” … Hesphina Rukato, an Africa development specialist and former deputy chief of staff at the AU, said the bloc has “a lot of power” but there is “a breakdown of trusts among citizens, mostly because of non-implementation of decisions.” She believes the closing of the “implementation deficit” would give more respect and weight to the AU. Al Jazeera

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said Egypt is ready to host a special African summit to discuss setting up an African force to fight terrorism on the continent. The Egyptian president made the remarks during a televised speech on Sunday during the opening ceremony of the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa. During a closed session, African leaders proposed to convene a special African summit to discuss a counter-terrorism African force, al-Sisi said. … Three main reasons were behind the proposal of the establishment of African anti-terrorism force, according to Hesham Halby, an Egyptian military expert at Nasser Military Academy. First of all, some African countries still suffer the deteriorations of civil wars and don’t have the military capabilities to uproot terrorism, said Halby. Secondly, the mobility among the borders between the African countries facilitated the spread of the cross-border terrorism, like what is happening in the Sahel and Sahara countries that would impact Egypt and Sudan, he said. The third reason is generated by that fact that the African countries are currently witnessing large flows of investment and development momentum that require secured stability, he added. Xinhua

Robust Nigeria-Ethiopia Cooperation Will Provide Strong Pillar for African Integration – Buhari
According to the statement, speaking at a State Dinner in his honour on Tuesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mr Buhari said as the two most populous countries on the continent, Nigeria and Ethiopia shared similar challenges, stressing that it has become imperative for both countries to strengthen and expand cooperation at all levels and in all areas. Mr Buhari, according to the statement, said his visit to Ethiopia focused on how to further boost relations and explore new areas of cooperation between the two countries. “Relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia have been warm and cordial since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1964. “Currently, a ministerial joint commission meeting is taking place between Nigeria and Ethiopia to finalise documents for our consideration. “I am confident that the meeting will produce a fruitful outcome which will elevate relations to a higher level,” the statement quoted the president. President Buhari also extolled his host for bringing transformation to the country, describing his work as that of a visionary leader. Premium Times

South Sudan Leaders Asked to Agree ‘In These Final Days’
The United States, Britain and Norway on Wednesday called on South Sudan’s parties to reach consensus on a way forward on the number of states and their boundaries. With a February 22 deadline fast approaching for South Sudan’s rival leaders to form a unity government, there is still no deal on how many states the country should have or their internal boundaries. President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have been holding a series of meetings without a deal on the key pending tasks of the peace agreement. “Refusing to compromise and move forward undermines the agreement, risks the ceasefire, and erodes the trust of the public and the confidence of partners,” the three countries known as the Troika said in a statement. The Troika further said with few days remaining until a power-sharing government is due to form, time has almost run out. The three countries encouraged all parties to exercise the spirit of political compromise at the heart of the peace deal in these final days. Radio Tamazuj

Sudan Dismantles Criminal Cell Manufacturing Explosive Devices
The Sudanese police on Tuesday arrested a criminal network manufacturing explosive devices in the Eastern Nile district of Khartoum state, amid reports that the detainees are members of a terrorist cell that was planning to carry out terrorist attacks. The Police Press Office in a statement issued in the evening said that the Eastern Nile police had made a “great achievement and arrested a criminal network, including foreigners, manufacturing explosive devices.” “The operation carried out by the State Investigation Police led to the arrest of one of the suspects and the seizure of large quantities of raw chemicals and tools used in the initial operations of making explosives,” the statement quoted police chief General Lieutenant Adel Bashayer as saying. The statement further said that the seized material and devices have been examined by the General Department of Criminal Evidence, while the investigation will be carried out by specialized teams to reveal the dimensions of the activity, which he described as “criminal.” Sudan Tribune

Kenya’s Longest-Serving Ruler Divides in Death, as in Life
Thousands of mourners bade farewell on Tuesday to Daniel arap Moi, Kenya’s longest-serving president, under whose rule the country was haunted by corruption and gross violations of human rights even as it became a stable nation in a turbulent region blighted with wars and crises. Mr. Moi, the country’s second president, died last week at age 95. As choirs sang and flags flew at half-mast, the reaction to his death was a reflection of this mixed legacy. Some remembered him as a “wonderful father” and a “great leader” who played a critical role in fighting for Kenya’s liberation and shaping its post-independence future. “We should all learn from his inspiring journey and the chronicles of his life,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, where Mr. Moi’s coffin arrived draped in the Kenyan flag. But other Kenyans, particularly on social media platforms, wrote about how Mr. Moi presided over an administration that stoked ethnic violence and committed gross violations of human rights, including massacres, unlawful detention, torture, and assassinations. The New York Times

Lisbon Freezes Bank Accounts of Angola’s Former First Daughter
Portugal has ordered a freeze on bank accounts held in the country by Angola’s billionaire former first daughter Isabel dos Santos, who is accused of stealing state funds to build a colossal business empire. “The public prosecutors have ordered a freeze on the bank accounts following a request by Angolan authorities,” a spokesman for Portuguese public prosecutors told AFP. International media outlets published an inquiry dubbed “Luanda Leaks” on January 19, claiming that dos Santos fraudulently accumulated a fortune estimated at $2.1 billion (1.9 billion euros). She has denied the “unfounded allegations and false claims” and said she has taken steps “to act legally” against the outlets that published them. Dos Santos, 46, has been living in Europe since Angolan President Joao Lourenco fired her as head of the state oil company Sonangol in 2017, soon after he took over from her father. She has been indicted by Angolan prosecutors for a host of top-level financial crimes, including money laundering and forging documents. AFP

‘Don’t Forget Madagascar’s Children,’ UN Appeals for Long-Term Help as Emergency Worsens
Since 2012, the plight of children in Madagascar has not improved and is in many cases getting worse, UN humanitarians said on Tuesday. Torrential rains two weeks ago affected 120,000 people, cutting off roads, destroying 174 schools and forcibly displacing 16,000, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported. Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the current lean season has left more than 700,000 people without enough to eat. And although it is helping to feed some 230,000 hungry people, the UN agency spelled out that 11.4 million in the country are undernourished. UNICEF Madagascar Deputy Representative, Jean Benoit Manhes, pointed out that the recent floods are just one of the many challenges faced by Madagascar’s children “all year long.” These include natural disasters, drought, and pandemics – challenges that have been aggravated by climate change and require far more international attention and support. UN News

Tens of Thousands Flee Worsening Conditions in Eastern DR Congo
The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 100,000 civilians have fled worsening conditions in DR Congo’s eastern Beni Territory over the past two months. The UNHCR says attacks by armed groups in the so-called Watalinga Chiefdom, near the border with Uganda, have sent thousands of people fleeing for their lives. Attacks on villages and towns by armed groups in Congo’s lawless eastern borderland have been rising since December. This has prompted mass flight by the residents to the town of Nobili and surrounding areas. The U.N. refugee agency says many of those fleeing previously had been displaced. They had fled violence in April and only just returned to their villages in November. UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, says the displaced are in dire need of assistance. “Tensions in the region have been rising since the launch of the government-led military operation in December against the Allied Democratic Forces or ADF,” said Mahecic. “Civilians, including those displaced in November and December, are among those targeted by armed groups, including the ADF… Many people told UNHCR staff that they now live in fear, after witnessing killings, sexual violence and abductions.” VOA

WHO ‘Encouraged’ by Improved Ebola Situation in DRC
The World Health Organisation on Tuesday said it was “encouraged” by an improvement in the Ebola situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo but urged caution. The WHO’s Emergency Committee of experts will be meeting in Geneva on Wednesday to discuss whether the Ebola outbreak still constitutes a global health emergency. The current Ebola epidemic, which was declared in August 2018, has killed more than 2,300 people in the east of the DR Congo. “Although the world is now focused on coronavirus, we cannot and must not forget Ebola,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference. “We’re very encouraged by the current trend. There have only been three cases in the past week and no cases in the past three days,” Tedros said. But he added: “It’s not over. Any single case could reignite the epidemic.”… “We’re still in full response mode,” he said, pointing to the “very fragile” security situation in eastern parts of DRC, where several militia groups operate, and the need to strengthen the country’s health system. AFP

Egypt Says Its Population Reaches 100 Million
Egypt’s population has reached 100 million, its statistics agency said on Tuesday, highlighting the threat of overpopulation in a poverty-stricken country where many live in crowded megacities. The North African country retains its position as the most populous Arab nation and Africa’s third most populous country behind Nigeria and Ethiopia. A counter installed atop the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) ticked over into nine digits for the first time, the agency said. … Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly told a cabinet meeting last week that “population growth is the single largest challenge facing the state,” adding that it “affects national security.” Egyptians numbered around 57 million 30 years ago. The last census in 2017 counted nearly 95 million citizens. President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said at the time that terrorism and overpopulation represented the two biggest threats to Egypt. As with the majority of Arab countries, Egypt has a youthful population with just over 60 % under the age of 30. AFP

Uganda: Chinese Firm Wants to Build Dam on Nile River
Uganda has received an application for a licence to build a hydroelectric power plant on the Nile River from a Chinese firm, documents seen by Reuters News Agency show. The $1.4bn plant, if approved, will expand the East African country’s power generation by 40 percent, a regulatory official who also confirmed the application, said. The firm, POWERCHINA International Group Limited (PIGL), wants to develop the Ayago Hydroelectric Power Station, located on a section of the Nile between lakes Kyoga and Albert, according to its licence application. … In recent years, Uganda has been wooing private-sector energy investors and taking loans from China and other sources to help boost power production to meet fast-growing demand. … Uganda is one of six countries that signed a 2010 Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA) that allows upstream Nile basin countries to develop projects along the river without Egypt’s consent as it was in a previous colonial-era agreement on the use of Nile waters. Building dams on the Nile has proven controversial in recent years with Egypt, which almost entirely depends on the water from the river, seeing them as a national security threat. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones