Africa Media Review for January 29, 2019

Understanding the Significance of the Protests in Sudan
Popular protests have taken hold in more than 28 towns and cities in Sudan since December. Sparked by a tripling in bread prices and an inflation rate of 65 percent and rising, the protests represent the most sustained challenge to President Omar al Bashir’s 30 years in power. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies talked to Dr. Luka Kuol, the Africa Center’s Professor of Practice and a former National Minister of Cabinet Affairs for the Republic of Sudan, for his insights. […] The current popular uprising is different from the previous ones in terms of drivers, intensity, popularity, duration, spread, and death toll. Although this uprising was triggered by the decision of the government to lift subsidies on essential commodities (most significantly bread), it is a manifestation of the structural economic, political, and social fragility of the state of Sudan. Unlike previous uprisings, these protests have been engineered by the new forces of youth and middle-class professionals that are well informed, connected, and equipped with enabling technology and social media that the regime is ill-positioned to contain.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Sudan’s Bashir Fights for Survival as Protests Spread
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir does little to hide his contempt for the young men and women who have been protesting for more than a month to demand an end to his three-decade rule. Addressing soldiers this month, Bashir, a 75-year-old former paratrooper who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1989, warned the “rats to go back to their holes” and said he would only move aside for another army officer, or at the ballot box. “They said they want the army to take power. That’s no problem. If someone comes in wearing khaki, we have no objection,” Bashir, wearing his military uniform, told soldiers at a base in Atbara, the northern Sudanese city where the protests started. “When the army moves, it doesn’t move in a vacuum. It doesn’t move in support of traitors. It moves in support of the homeland,” he added in colloquial Arabic. Reuters

A Third Party Announces Withdrawal from Partnership with Sudanese Regime
The Federal Umma Party (FUP), headed by Dr Ahmed Babikir Nahar, announced its withdrawal from the government at all governing levels and the dismantling of its partnership with this regime on Sunday. In a statement the FUP called on President Omar Al Bashir and his regime to step down and make way for an agreed-upon transitional government after the regime has lost competence, legitimacy, and the ability to deal with the political crisis. The party also expressed discontent for the regime’s unwillingness to deal with initiatives that have been raised from time to time in the past. The statement explained that the intransigence and entrenchment of the regime in its current position would lead the country to disaster. According to the statement, ongoing demonstrations represent a broad array of people in Sudan, and youth movements protesting against injustice will be “the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”  Radio Dabanga

Nigeria Lawyers Announce Nationwide Strike over Chief Justice’s Removal
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has directed its members to boycott courts across the country in protest of the manner in which the former Chief Justice was suspended by the president. NBA in a circular directed that its members should stay away from all courts for two days (between 29 – 30 January 2019). The decision was taken after the NBA’s National Executive Committee, NEC, met on Monday. The association joins a long list of groups – home and abroad that have criticized the manner in which President Buhari replaced ex Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen. Buhari suspended Onnoghen last Friday and immediately replaced him with Justice Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed, being the next most Senior Justice in the Supreme Court. Tanko took the judicial oath as Chief Justice of Nigeria in an Acting Capacity.  Africa News

Nigeria Denies Judge’s Suspension Influenced by Election
Amid growing criticism, Nigeria’s information minister denied on Monday that the president’s recent suspension of the country’s chief justice was related to the upcoming presidential elections. The suspension of Chief Justice Walter Nkanu Samuel Onnoghen had “nothing to do with the forthcoming elections” and did not “signify the onset of dictatorship or tyranny as some have insinuated,” Minister Lai Mohammed said. The chief justice faces trial on charges of allegedly failing to declare his assets, which Onnoghen has argued is without merit. This is the first time a chief justice is standing trial in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 190 million people. Critics say the suspension of the chief justice just three weeks before the election is an effort by President Muhammadu Buhari to weaken Nigeria’s judiciary and pave the way for his election to a second term in the Feb. 16 vote.  AP

Islamic State Says It Killed 30 Nigerian Soldiers -Amaq
Islamic State said it killed 30 Nigerian soldiers in an attack on Saturday in the country’s northeastern Borno state, a claim disputed by the Nigerian Army. A Nigerian Army spokesman said an attack on troops by insurgents in the Borno village of Logomani was repelled on Saturday and eight soldiers were hurt, none with life-threatening injuries. In a statement issued through its news agency Amaq, Islamic State on Sunday claimed responsibility for the attack on a village it referred to as Lomani. Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA), which split from Islamist group Boko Haram in 2016, has carried out a number of attacks in northeast Nigeria in the last few months. Reuters

Cameroon Main Opposition Leader Arrested over ‘Illegal Protests’
Prof. Maurice Kamto, Cameroon’s main opposition leader has reportedly been arrested, his party and rights activist in the Central African country confirmed on Monday, January 28. Kamto who is leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement, CRM, has been taken to an unknown destination according to a lawyer in the Anglophone region, Agbor Nkongho. Even though government has yet to comment on the development, it is largely believed that arrest which took place in Douala is linked to a peaceful protest by Kamto’s part over the weekend. Reports indicate that he is not the only one detained but that other members of the party have also been held and are due to be sent to Yaounde for questioning.  Africa News

Kabila to Pull Strings in Congo Parliament after Flawed Vote
Outgoing president Joseph Kabila’s coalition will continue to exert huge influence on the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo after winning a suspect parliamentary election, in which some vote tallies were not even counted, according to three senior Congolese politicians. Mr Kabila’s Common Front for Congo or FCC will have wide-ranging powers in the new parliament, including the ability to select the next prime minister, influence the appointment of multiple cabinet ministers and even approve constitutional changes. The FCC also won a majority of seats in provincial assemblies, which will elect governors and senators who, in turn, will probably give the FCC control over who becomes senate president. The parliamentary election was held on the same day as the presidential vote, which was widely believed to be rigged in favour of new President Felix Tshisekedi. “It’s the prime minister that runs the government day to day, and with continued control of the army and the security services, the FCC will not be giving up power,” Samy Badibanga, Congo’s prime minister from 2016 to 2017, told the Financial Times. Financial Times

Four Dead in Student Protests in DRC: Presidency
Three students and a police officer died in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo during weekend clashes at a protest over water and power outages, according to an updated death toll by the presidency on Monday. The violence was sparked after a large area including Lubumbashi university was left without water and electricity for three days because of damage caused to vital cables and pipes by torrential rains. The students were also demonstrating over higher fees. Clashes broke out on Sunday after police used tear gas and warning shots to try to disperse crowds of students returning from the governor’s residence in Upper Katanga. News 24

The French-English Divide Can Be Lethal in This African Nation
Cyprain fled his home when separatist fighters in Cameroons Northwest region threatened to kill him after he served government soldiers at his roadside bar.Hes one of a growing number of civilians trapped between the army and roaming gangs of English-speaking insurgents fighting to break away from the majority-Francophone nation. The conflict has decimated the local economy in the conflict zone, and according to the United Nations, left hundreds of people dead and displaced about 437,000 people. The military burn houses, destroys, loots property and kills citizens, Cyprain, 41, said on condition that his surname not be used out fear for his safety during an interview in the port city of Douala, where he now stays with relatives. Separatist fighters attack, kidnap and even kill people they suspect are their enemies. Bloomberg

Face-to-Face with Child Soldiers Told to Rape and Kill in South Sudan
Sky News has been given special access to child soldiers in the east-central African country of South Sudan – and found worrying signs that some may return to fighting if conditions don’t improve soon. Our inquiries also found repeated examples of rape being used as a weapon of war, and we have also spoken to the child soldiers ordered to carry out those rapes. A peace deal and ceasefire agreed by the warring parties last year is still holding, prompting hundreds of child recruits to run away from their captors, while others have been freed. But a further 19,000 children are estimated to still be in captivity in the bush working for the different militias. The UN special representative for South Sudan, David Shearer, told Sky News he believed the different fighting units were still recruiting children in an attempt to shore up their positions and bargaining power as the country tries to manage the peace after five years of civil war. Sky News

UN Asked to Scrutinize Sale, Donation of Military Equipment to Somalia
The Somaliland is calling for scrutiny of any sale, donation of military equipment to Somalia government to curb situation where such equipment end up in wrong hands. The call comes days after media reports indicated that the artillery used in a hotel in Nairobi attack made its way to Kenya from Somalia. In a terse letter to the United Nations Security Council president Francisco Antonio Cortorreal, Somaliland foreign affairs and international cooperation minister Yasin Hagi Mohammed took issue with a donation of armored vehicles donated by Qatar to Somalia. Hagi Mohammed said in light of the verified past and ongoing diversions of weapons and other military equipment to terrorist and criminal groups by the Somalia government “whether by design or neglect” represents a clear violation of the current arms embargo on Somalia and poses a material threat to Somaliland as well as the security of the neighbouring nations, Kenya included. Standard Media

Macron Raises Human Rights on Visit to Egypt
French President Emmanuel Macron said he encouraged respect for human rights when he met Monday with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a military man seen as a bulwark against Islamic extremists who has led an unprecedented crackdown on dissent. Speaking after the two met during a state visit that’s been light on specifics but loaded with symbolism, Macron said that Egypt’s success was important for the world given its size, location and military capabilities, but that free expression was one of the best safeguards against extremism. “Stability and lasting peace go along with personal freedoms and a state of law. That cannot be separated from human rights,” Macron said at a joint press conference. “We have values that are universal, they aren’t only French values. We have requirements ourselves, and human rights are among them. And we can, very frankly, affirm them, which is what I decided to do today.”  AP

Judge Questioned Ex-French President Hollande over Murder of Reporters in Mali
A French judge has questioned former French President Francois Hollande as a witness as part of the investigation into the assassination of two journalists in Mali in 2013, a member of Hollande’s staff said on Monday. Claude Verlon and Ghislaine Dupont, both journalists at RFI radio, were kidnapped and killed in the northern town of Kidal on Nov. 2 2013 by suspected Islamist militants. Their bodies were recovered near the four-wheel drive vehicle used by the abductors. Hollande and ex-chief of the DGSE external intelligence services Bernard Bajolet were questioned earlier this month and in December over statements the president had made in private to journalists that appeared to contradict the investigation. France led a military campaign in January 2013 to clear Islamist militants from the north of the country after they threatened to invade the capital Bamako, an intervention that France described as largely successful. Reuters

10 Kidnapped Children Found Dead in Tanzania with Missing Body Parts, Ministry Says
Ten children kidnapped in Tanzania have been found dead with their body parts mutilated, authorities told CNN on Monday. Tanzania’s deputy health minister Faustine Ndugulile said all 10 children had been missing since December in Njombe district, southwest Tanzania. Their bodies were discovered last week after police launched a search operation in the area. “So far, we have found 10 bodies, and most of their private parts and teeth had been removed,” Ndugulile said. “These murders are linked to witchcraft practices because that is the trend for such crimes, where herbalists ask people to get these human parts for money rituals,” he added. The children, some as young as seven, were kidnapped from their homes last month. CNN

Zimbabwe Unions Issue New Strike Ultimatum after Wage Talks Deadlock
Public sector unions gave Zimbabwe’s government a 48-hour ultimatum to make a new salary offer or face a strike after wage negotiations reached a deadlock, raising the prospect of more unrest following this month’s violent protests. President Emmerson Mnangagwa is under pressure to deliver on pre-election promises to revive an economy wrecked during the tenure of his predecessor Robert Mugabe, who ruled for 37 years before being forced to resign after a coup in 2017. Mnangagwa’s government has also come under severe criticism for a crackdown on violent protests over a fuel price hike that rights groups say killed at least 12 people and injured scores. Police say only three people died. VOA

Zuma ‘Pocketed’ $2,200 Monthly Bribes
Former South African president Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign last year under a cloud of corruption scandals, allegedly accepted monthly bribes from a security firm, according to a witness at a judicial inquiry. Mr Angelo Agrizzi, ex-chief operating officer of the Bosasa contracting company, has given days of bombshell testimony to the Zondo commission probing allegations of government corruption under Mr Zuma. Mr Agrizzi said Bosasa made monthly payments of some 300,000 rand (around $2,200) to the Jacob Zuma foundation. The money, hidden in a luxury bag, was received through foundation president Dudu Myeni, the former chair of South African Airways, Mr Agrizzi alleged. AFP

Has Algeria Joined Africa’s New ‘Cocaine Coast’?
[…] The Oran cocaine bust in Algeria echoes a similar seizure in Morocco, where 2.4 metric tons of cocaine were confiscated near Rabat in October 2017. In February 2018, Moroccan authorities confiscated 541 kg of cocaine in a cargo ship coming from Brazil and directed to Casablanca. Cocaine trafficking in the Maghreb has been at an all-time high since 2016, suggesting the emergence of new routes. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report (2018), the amount of cocaine seized in North Africa increased six-fold in 2016, and accounted for 69% of the quantity seized in Africa. Traditionally, narcotics from South America reach Africa from the west coast before being distributed in Europe and the Middle East. Developments in Morocco and Algeria suggest that cocaine is increasingly transiting through the north-west coast. This trend seems to be facilitated by historical cannabis routes that start in Morocco. There is a proven connection between South American drug cartels and Moroccan cannabis traffickers, who in turn have strong networks in north-west Algeria.  Daily Maverick

Ethiopia Has Tripled the Size of Its Main Airport as It Gets Set to Be Africa’s Gateway Hub
Ethiopia’s capital is set to cement its place as Africa’s leading aviation hub with an expanded airport terminal which triples it passenger capacity. Last year, Addis Ababa overtook Dubai as the leading transfer hub for long-haul travel to sub-Saharan Africa. On Sunday (Jan. 27), prime minister Abiy Ahmed inaugurated the newly-expanded terminal of the Bole International Airport, the main hub of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa. The project, which was funded and built by China for $363 million, triple the airport’s size and can now accommodate up to 22 million passengers annually from its current 7 million. The terminal and a new luxury hotel are a great boost for the state carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, which is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan aimed at becoming Africa’s leading airline group. Founded 74 years ago, the airline has an operating fleet of 111 planes and currently flies to more than 119 international passenger and cargo destinations, with over 61 of those in Africa alone. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones