Africa Media Review for July 15, 2019

Somalia Hotel Attack Kills 33
Authorities in Somalia say the death toll from Friday’s attack on a hotel in the southern Somali port city of Kismayo has climbed to 33. Ahmed Mohamed Islan, also known as Madobe, the president of the Jubbaland regional administration, said another 56 people were wounded. “Our valiant security forces have ended the hotel attack after long hours of battle with the evils, and eventually protected many innocent people who were holed up in their hotel rooms,” Madobe said in a statement.” Madobe said “those killed in the attack included two journalists, a presidential candidate for upcoming regional elections, and a U.N. agency staff member. He said “Kenyans, Americans, a Briton, Tanzanians and a Canadian were among the dead”. Security officials in Kismayo told VOA Somali that at least four militants who carried out the attack were also killed by security forces. VOA

Sudanese Man Shot Dead during Protest as Sides Wrangle over Transition
Paramilitary forces backed by Sudan’s ruling military council fired at protesters in the southeastern state of Sennar on Sunday, witnesses said, and one man died of a shot to the head, according to opposition medics. The killing occurred with the military council and civilian opposition wrangling over final details of a power-sharing agreement ahead of elections after veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir was toppled in a coup following weeks of mass protests. “The spirit of the martyr Anwar Hassan Idris was lifted in the city of al-Suki, Sennar state, after he was wounded by a bullet to the head by the Janjaweed militia,” the opposition Sudan Doctors’ Committee said in a statement. A number of protesters, who were rallying against the RSF’s use of violence against some street demonstrations, were wounded in the incident and some were in critical condition, it said. Reuters

Sudan’s Ruling Junta Appeals Court Ruling to Restore Internet
Sudan’s presidency legal adviser has asked a high court in Khartoum on Sunday to reverse the decision to restore the Internet service for the mobile phone in the country. Yasir Mirghani, the secretary-general of the Sudanese Consumers Protection Society (SCPS) told Sudan Tribune that the legal adviser to the presidency, Haydar Ahmed Abdallah, filed an appeal with the Khartoum District Court requesting the cancellation of the decision to return the Internet services. He said that the SCPS legal adviser objected to the appeal pointing to the absence of a presidential institution in the country, after the fall of ousted President Omer al-Bashir. “We asked the legal adviser to bring a written accreditation to clarify who represents,” Yasir further said. Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) ordered to shut down internet access to customers citing security concerns last month after a deadly raid on a pro-democracy sit-in in the capital Khartoum on 3 June. … On 9 July, a Khartoum court ordered telecommunication companies to restore the internet services in the country. Sudan Tribune

Sudanese Protesters Demand Justice for Army Crackdown Victims
Thousands of Sudanese protesters have poured onto the streets of Khartoum and other cities to mark the 40th day since the deadly dispersal of a sit-in outside the army headquarters that killed more than 100 people. Dubbed the “Justice First” marches, Saturday’s demonstrations were called by the Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), which has been spearheading the protests since December that led to the military ousting of longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in April. Chanting “Blood for blood, we won’t accept compensations”, crowds of protesters marched through the main streets of the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan, and central cities of Madani and Al-Obeid, witnesses said. … Saturday’s marches also put pressure on the ruling military council as it and the Forces for Declaration of Freedom and Change – which represents the protesters – planned to meet to sign a power-sharing agreement. Al Jazeera

Algeria Popular Movement Remains ‘Strong’ – But Fears ‘Business as Usual’
Protesters took to the streets in Algeria for the 21st consecutive week on Friday. Activists and experts say the popular movement is still determined to press its demands but the government is hardening its stance. During the latest day of demonstrations on July 12, they cried forth their perennial “free Algeria!” and called for “a civilian state – not a military state!” One protester attempted to set himself on fire. Friday demonstrations have continued unabated in Algeria ever since the February 10 announcement that then president Abdelaziz Bouteflika would seek a fifth term sent protesters flooding onto the streets. None of the subsequent concessions to their demands – including Bouteflika’s resignation on April 2, the arrest of his brother Saïd (widely regarded as the power behind the throne since a stroke incapacitated Abdelaziz in 2012) along with two feared and loathed former intelligence chiefs on May 4, and the detention of numerous ultra-wealthy businessmen – have been enough to appease the protesters’ indignation. France24

Burkina Faso Tightens Press Freedom amid Security Crisis
One of Africa’s bastions of press freedom is attempting to enact harsh legislation that threatens journalists reporting on an unfolding security crisis, human rights organisations and press freedom advocates have warned. Burkina Faso, currently ranked the fifth best African country for media freedom, is attempting to criminalise the “demoralisation” of its defence forces by any means, and the dissemination of information that could “undermine” public order or security operations. Journalists who share information about military operations could face up to 10 years in jail and £7,000 fines under the new law, which was voted in by 103 out of 127 deputies on 21 June and is awaiting presidential approval. In an interview with reporters in Ouagadougou, the key government official behind the law, the minister of human rights, Bessolé René Bagoro, said its scope was narrow, but then illustrated his point with an example that appeared to show that any reporting of military losses was prohibited. The Guardian

Regional Power Grab Attempt Causes Rare Discord in Ethiopia Coalition
A failed regional coup in Ethiopia has exposed rare divisions in the alliance that has dominated the country for three decades, with two of the four ethnic parties that form the ruling coalition trading insults in a public feud. While there have been disagreements among the parties in the past, analysts described the acrimonious exchange this week between the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and the Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) as among the most serious yet. The two groups have shared power with two other ethnic parties since 1991 in a coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), that tolerated little dissent until Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took power last year and launched political reforms. The new tension between them arose after a rogue militia tried to seize power last month in the northern Amhara region, ruled by the ADP. The authorities blamed the June 22 attempted regional coup on Asamnew Tsige, a rogue ADP member, killed in fighting on the outskirts of the regional capital Bahir Dar. Reuters

Nigeria Shia Group Says 2 Killed in Anti-Government Protests
Members of Nigeria’s pro-Iran Shia Muslim sect, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, say two of their members were killed and several injured in the northern city of Kaduna when police fired on an anti-government demonstration. The group said in a statement on Friday that the killings happened on Thursday at a protest against the detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky. The Nigerian Shia group has held several protests this week demanding the release of Zakzaky, who is reportedly in failing health. … The Kaduna and Abuja incidents highlight the growing tension between the police and the Shias who have stepped up their demonstrations calling for the release of their leader who has been jailed since 2015. AP

Ebola Case Confirmed in Eastern DR Congo City of Goma: Ministry
The first case of Ebola has been confirmed in Goma, now the biggest city to have been affected by the disease since its outbreak in eastern DR Congo last August, the health ministry said on Sunday. The discovery has raised concerns the virus could spread quicker in the densley populated area close to the Rwandan border. A sick man had arrived in Goma early on Sunday by bus with 18 other passengers and the driver from Butembo, one of the main towns touched by Ebola in Nord-Kivu province. “Given that the patient was quickly identified, as well as all the passengers on the bus from Butembo, the risk of the disease spreading in the city of Goma is low,” the ministry said. The passengers and the bus driver will begin getting vaccinations on Monday, it added. Goma is located south of where the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record was first detected a year ago. The disease outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has so far killed 1,655 people and 694 have been cured, according to a health ministry bulletin on Saturday. Al Jazeera

Kagame, Museveni Commit to Talks
The presidents of Rwanda and Uganda on Friday pledged at a summit in Angola to seek to resolve tensions that have erupted between their two countries in recent months. Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, once close allies, have exchanged public accusations of spying on each other’s territory and political interference. Trade has been severely disrupted since late February when Rwanda abruptly closed the border wit h its northern neighbour, severing a major economic land route. Apart from a brief interlude in June the frontier has remained shut, damaging the economies of both countries reliant on cross-border trade. AFP

Jacob Zuma Makes First Appearance at South Africa Corruption Inquiry
Jacob Zuma, the former South African president whose tenure was marred by corruption scandals, appeared for the first time on Monday before a high-profile commission looking into accusations that he enabled the plundering and misuse of state resources. Under Mr. Zuma’s leadership, the governing African National Congress became embroiled in what South Africans have come to know as “state capture” — corruption at the highest levels of government, for the benefit of wealthy private interests and A.N.C. officials. The commission, chaired by Judge Raymond Zondo, has already brought to light stupefying accusations of graft, including multimillion-dollar cash bribes being paid “like monopoly money” to senior A.N.C. leaders. … Among other allegations, Mr. Zuma has been accused of abusing state funds to lavishly upgrade his private home; steering lucrative government contracts to an Indian business family, the Guptas; and dismantling key state institutions to allow unfettered looting of the treasury, in some cases with the help of consulting firms like Bain and McKinsey. NY Times

Refugee Group: ‘Alarming’ That Only 27% of Funds Received
A leading advocacy group for refugees said Monday that with half of 2019 gone, humanitarian organizations have received only 27% of the money needed to provide relief to people affected by crises worldwide this year. Norwegian Refugee Council secretary-general Jan Egeland said “the current lack of funding is alarming.” Egeland said a total of $26 billion is required this year to provide relief for around 94 million people in need. However, donor countries have contributed only $7 billion, or $2 billion less than for the same period last year, he said, citing the U.N.’s financial tracking service. The Norwegian Refugee Council said the crisis in Cameroon is among the most critically under-funded, with less than 20% of the appeal covered so far this year. It also singled out the Democratic Republic of Congo “struck by a toxic cocktail of conflict, mass displacement and Ebola,” and also said, “even funding for Syrian refugees is drying up.” AP

New Migrants Brought to Libya Centre Hit by Deadly Air Strike
More migrants have been moved to a detention centre in Libya’s capital where an air strike killed more than 50 people last week, despite a risk it could be hit again which led to survivors being evacuated, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Friday. Around 95 migrants were moved to the Tajoura centre in Tripoli on Thursday, some rounded up in the local community and others transferred from another detention centre in the city, the aid group said. Earlier in the week migrants left at the centre after the July 3 bombing – some of whom were sleeping in the open for fear of another strike – were either released or evacuated, following appeals from the United Nations. An official at the Tajoura centre who asked not to be named said that following the evacuations, “we have resumed work and started receiving more (migrants)”. He declined to give more details. Reuters

South Sudan @8: Eight Years Wasted in War, Graft?
Africa’s youngest state, South Sudan, this past week marked its eighth Independence anniversary without national celebrations, further casting doubt on the prospects of lasting peace and an economic turnaround. … In a live address to the nation broadcast on radio and television, the president regretted that this was the first time the South Sudanese “observed” rather than conducted full celebrations of Independence. … After the September 2018 Revitalised Peace Agreement, the signatories were supposed to form a transitional government on May 12 — after an eight-month pre-transition period — but they later agreed to postpone it for six months because some of the conditions had not been met. A report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees released on July 9 shows that more than 2.3 million South Sudanese live as refugees in neighbouring countries, while 1.9 million are internally displaced. About 7.7 million — over half the population — remain food insecure. The East African

Zimbabwe Inflation Rate Soars to 175%
Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate hit 175 percent in June, official data showed Monday, stoking fears of a return of the hyperinflation that wiped out savings ten years ago when the economy collapsed. Official inflation is the highest since hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009. Supplies of essentials such as bread, medicine and petrol are regularly running short in the country. “The year-on-year inflation rate for the month of June 2019 as measured by the all items consumer price index stood at 175.66 percent while that of May 2019 was 97.85 percent,” the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency said in a statement. Millions of Zimbabweans have fled abroad in the last 20 years seeking work. AFP

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Must Go and I Must Lead Transition—Chamisa
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa wants to lead Zimbabwe’s transition to a “new dispensation” but not before he forces President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the negotiating table. Chamisa told thousands of party supporters at Masvingo’s Mucheke Stadium that he will soon lead them in a programme of “political and diplomatic pressure” to force Mnangagwa to the negotiating table. “Our country has deep problems. For the country to move forward, the first thing is that Zimbabweans must be free. For Zimbabweans to be free Zanu PF must go. We must take the power into our hands and resolve this. “We have a programme for political and diplomatic pressure in this country. If we make the call that we want to resolve the problems in this country, we want you to support us as a leadership. Once we make the call we want you to support us. Get ready! We must be united in planning. The Constitution has rights for people who are not happy,” he said to loud cheers. New Zimbabwe

Can Chinese Weapons Contribute to Peace in Africa?
China’s military leaders have invited African army chiefs to Beijing — officially, to discuss peacekeeping missions. But China’s military strategy in Africa also has a few other objectives, experts say. In 2011, Chinese troops were deployed on the African continent for the first time. Back then, the government in Beijing had dispatched a frigate to the Libyan coast to monitor the evacuation of 35,000 Chinese citizens from the war-torn country. Today, some eight years later, the presence of Chinese soldiers has become commonplace, at least in parts of the African continent. For example, some 2,000 Chinese troops are currently involved in UN peacekeeping missions in African countries like South Sudan and Mali. And it was in Djibouti, strategically located on the Gulf of Aden on Africa’s east coast, where China established its first foreign military base in 2017. The Chinese government now intends to expand its military cooperation with the continent. DW

The Evolution of a Russian Troll
Alexander Malkevich, whose employees were detained in Libya, is part of Moscow’s efforts to create a “concert of chaos” around the globe. Last summer, when the Russian media manager Alexander Malkevich came to Washington to launch a news website called USA Really—reported to be linked to the infamous Russian troll factory that interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election—he did not receive a warm welcome. He was ejected from his office near the White House—a WeWork rental—within hours of arriving, and Facebook and Twitter blocked access to the website. … Last week, Bloomberg reported that two of Malkevich’s employees had been detained in Libya in May and were accused of seeking to influence elections in the country. Authorities from the U.N.-backed government in Tripoli accused the two men of trying to set up a meeting with Saif al-Islam al-Qaddafi, the son of former leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, who was overthrown in 2011 after four decades in power. Saif al-Islam, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on allegations of crimes against humanity, is reported to be in contact with Moscow and has received the backing of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy, Mikhail Bogdanov. FT

Central Africans Express Mixed Reactions to Continental Free Trade Area
Analysts and businesspeople in the six-member Central African Economic and Monetary Community say that although the African Continental Free Trade Area launched in Niger last Sunday at an African Union summit brings hope for pan African trade, they are not sure CEMAC will be fully implemented anytime soon. CEMAC’s similar free-trade area has been plagued by corruption, national egos and a limitation of movement that have stunted the initiative. For instance, the Cameroonian town of Kiossi shares borders with Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, and quite often, authorities in those two countries seal their borders without any comment. … Chadian-born transporter Bismau Halidou said that besides the regular closure of borders by some states in the region, nontariff barriers have made it difficult for free interstate trade to take off. He said there were high levels of corruption among police, tax and customs officials in all central African states. He also noted that, surprisingly, Cameroon — which should pilot the integration process because it has a population of more than 25 million, more than half the region’s total — was viewed as a country not to be trusted because of notorious corruption. VOA

Africa is Aiming to Become a Giant, Interconnected Trading Region: It Just Might Work
Just as trade wars and Brexit are splitting alliances apart, at least one area of the world is coming together. This week all but one African country signed a continent-wide free trade agreement – the African Continental Free Trade Area – which economists are saying could open up the region for increased development. What the agreement aims to eventually achieve is a potential European Union-like allowance for free movement across the continent, tariff-free trade and perhaps even a common currency. … The African Continental Free Trade Area will be home to more than a billion people, 55 countries, and would eclipse the EU as the biggest free trade area in the world. … Many are skeptical. For one, the pact might do little to tackle corruption, inequality, and other issues that have plagued the continent for decades. … Much of the detail will come through in the coming weeks, months and years. Until then, African leaders are hopeful the collaboration could be a lone bright spot for the fragmenting world. Business Insider



Photo: Adam Jones