Africa Media Review for July 16, 2020

Tunisian PM Resigns Triggering Political Crisis
Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh stepped down on Wednesday, plunging the country into a political crisis as it tries to weather the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Fakhfakh presented his resignation to President Kais Saied, a government statement said. Political sources told Reuters Saied had asked him to do so as momentum grew in parliament to oust the prime minister over an alleged conflict of interest. Saied must now choose a new candidate for prime minister, but parliament is deeply fragmented among rival parties and a failure to build another coalition would trigger an election. The collapse of Fakhfakh’s government less than five months after it was formed will further delay urgent economic reforms and complicate efforts to handle any new surge in coronavirus cases after Tunisia brought a first wave under control. Reuters

‘Influx of Foreign Fighters’ in Central African Republic: UN Report
UN experts charged with monitoring the arms embargo in the Central African Republic cited on Wednesday an “influx of foreign fighters” into the country ahead of elections later this year. The annual report said a “series of clashes was… fed by arrivals of foreign fighters and weaponry, mainly from Sudan.” “Regional arms trafficking also continued through other routes,” it added, calling for the Central African Republic, Chad, and Sudan to “strengthen their efforts to combat the escalation in the flow of arms and foreign fighters” into the country. … A presidential election is due in December 2020. “The prospect of elections represented an additional incentive for armed groups to maintain and extend their control over territory,” said the UN report which will serve as the basis for renewing the arms embargo, in place since 2013. The Defense Post

Senegal Builds Military Camp near Mali Boundary to Deal with ‘Cross-Border Threats’
Senegal on Tuesday began building a military camp near its border with violence-torn Mali to address “cross-border threats (and) trafficking,” the defence ministry said. The camp is being constructed at Goudiry in the east of the country, nearly 600km from the capital Dakar. Neither the ministry nor the army gave details of troop numbers or the kind of equipment that the base would house. Mali is in the grip of an eight-year jihadist insurgency that has spread into neighbouring Niger and Burkina Faso, claiming thousands of lives and driving hundreds of thousands from their homes. Senegal has so far been untouched, but it has stepped up security and contributed troops to the UN peacekeeping force in Mali, and its courts have handed out several sentences in recent years for “terrorism.” AFP

Mali: Goodluck Jonathan Arrives in Bamako Kicking off ECOWAS Mediation
Former Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan landed in Bamako on Wednesday to lead mediation efforts to find a solution to the crisis in Mali. The country has been hit by ongoing protests calling for the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, with recent demonstrations marred by violence and a crackdown by security forces. Jonathan met with President Keita on Wednesday evening for talks, according to Bamako correspondent Serge Daniel. The former Nigerian president was appointed head of a mediation team acting on behalf of Ecowas, the West African regional bloc. … More protests are expected on Friday, with the opposition calling for Friday prayers to pay homage to the victims of the violence and crackdown on protesters. RFI

South Sudan Peace Building on Track, Igad Told
South Sudan’s implementation of the peace agreement, specifically the security arrangements, is on track, regional leaders were told on Tuesday. In a virtual meeting of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) called by the Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, he noted that South Sudan has been making progress in the last five months on the execution of the September 2018 peace agreement, but called for more international efforts and regional support. “The process continues to yield positive responses since the signing of the revitalisation peace agreement. I wish to call upon all partners to participate fully in the process, and the regional states and the international community to continue supporting the South Sudan peace process,” said Dr Hamdok, who is also the current chair of Igad. The East African

South Africa: Three Million Jobs Lost and Hunger Surging Amid COVID-19 Crisis – Survey
About 3-million South Africans have lost their jobs during the country’s nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. An additional 1.5-million workers have lost their incomes as a result of the lockdown. This is according to the findings from the National Income Dynamics Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (Nids-Cram), released on Wednesday. Researchers surveyed 7 000 South Africans to compile the study, which can be considered the most nationally representative survey that currently exists.  During the course of 2020 there will be at least four more waves of data collection, following the same 7 000 respondents. The survey found that already precarious workers – including young people, informal workers and women – were hardest hit by the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Mail & Guardian

Coronavirus in South Africa: Inside Port Elizabeth’s ‘Hospitals of Horrors’
An exclusive, weeks-long BBC investigation inside filthy hospitals in South Africa has exposed an extraordinary array of systemic failures showing how exhausted doctors and nurses are overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients and a health service near collapse. … “Services are starting to crumble under the strain. Covid has opened up all the chronic cracks in the system. It’s creating a lot of conflict,” he said, confirming reports that patients had been “fighting for oxygen” supplies in a ward at Livingstone Hospital in Port Elizabeth. Dr Black – one of only two infectious disease specialists in a province with a population of about seven million – was the only doctor in Port Elizabeth who agreed to talk to us on the record, but a dozen nurses and doctors spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing they would lose their jobs if they were identified. BBC

Corruption, Bribery Allegations in Namibian 5G Deal with Huawei – Report
A city councillor in Namibia’s capital has alleged she was offered a bribe by a local politician to ensure Chinese tech giant Huawei would win an exclusive contract to build the 5G telecommunication network in Windhoek. Brunhilde Cornelius made the allegations in an affidavit that was filed with police on 19 June and has been obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit. … The allegations come months after Namibia was rocked by several corruption scandals sparked by the so-called Fishrot files, revelations that saw two government ministers – the former minister of justice Sacky Shanghala and the former minister of fisheries Bernhard Esau – resign after a joint investigation by Al Jazeera, WikiLeaks and Icelandic media. Al Jazeera

US Military: Russian Mercenaries Planted Land Mines in Libya
The U.S. military on Wednesday accused Russian mercenaries fighting on the side of eastern Libya forces of planting land mines and improvised explosive devices in and around the Libyan capital, Tripoli. The U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, said verified photographic evidence shows “indiscriminately placed booby traps and minefields” around the outskirts of Tripoli and all the way east toward the strategic coastal city of Sirte since mid-June. … “Imagery and intelligence assessments show how Russia continues to interfere in Libyan affairs. Wagner Group’s reckless use of landmines and booby traps are harming innocent civilians,” said Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, AFRICOM’s director of intelligence. AP

U.S. Sanctions Russian Group over Sudan Interference
The United States on Wednesday moved to impose sanctions on companies linked to Yevgeniy Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, accusing it of working to destabilize Sudan and exploit its natural resources. The U.S. treasury announced that it targeted three individuals and a network of five entities in Russia, Sudan, Hong Kong and Thailand which Washington claimed it helped Prigozhin evade sanctions imposed on him previously. In Sudan, Prigozhin is alleged to stand behind M invest which helped deposed Sudanese leader devise plans to suppress anti-regime protest which broke out in 2018 and eventually led to his demise. “Prigozhin’s role in Sudan highlights the interplay between Russia’s paramilitary operations, support for preserving authoritarian regimes, and exploitation of natural resources. …” the U.S. Treasury said in a statement. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Campaign Demands Women Governors
Women groups in Sudan have launched the campaign No Excuse – We Want Our Full Rights to involve more women in government positions, especially at the level of state governors. In a press conference held by the campaigners in Khartoum on Wednesday, Nahid Jabrallah, director of the Seema Center for Training and Protection of Women and Child’s Rights and co-founder of the No To Women Oppression Initiative, explained that the new campaign is backed by a wide range of civil society organisations, women and youth groups, and women members of political parties. … Although Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok promoted the participation of women in the government, no member of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition has nominated a woman for the position of governor. Radio Dabanga

‘Thank You, Our Glorious Revolution’: Activists React as Sudan Ditches Islamist Laws
Sudan’s transitional government has been praised for its latest reforms, which decriminalise apostasy, ban female genital mutilation (FGM) and end the requirement for women to get travel permits. The legislation makes major strides in pushing back against discrimination faced by women and minorities during the 30-year rule of Omar al-Bashir that came to an end in 2019, according to equality advocates. The anti-torture charity Redress and the Sudan-based African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies said the measures “move Sudan a step closer towards eliminating structural violence against women and minorities.” … [Charlie Loudon, Redress’s international legal adviser] said Sudan must ensure steps are taken to enforce the legal changes. “That would be things like amending the internal policies of the relevant government agencies, whether the police, the general intelligence services or the armed forces. The Guardian

Buhari, Tinubu, Saraki, Others Mourn Nigeria’s First Female Combat Helicopter Pilot
President Muhammadu Buhari has condoled with the Nigeria Airforce Force (NAF), Kogi State Government and the family of a helicopter fighter pilot, Tolulope Arotile, over her demise. In a statement released by Mr Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on Wednesday, he said her stay on earth impacted greatly on the nation, especially in peace and security. Premium Times earlier reported the death of Ms Arotile, who died on Tuesday, according to NAF, as a result of head injuries sustained from a road accident at its base in Kaduna. NAF winged Ms Arotile as the first female helicopter fighter (combatant) pilot last year. Premium Times

From South Sudan to Australia: One Man’s Quest to Save Stories
Growing up, much of Peter Deng’s world revolved around stories. In the cattle camps where he was raised in southern Sudan, “we passed down our history through songs,” he says. When the country’s brutal civil war forced him to flee his home at the age of 18, he took those stories with him. And when, a decade later, he received the news that he was being resettled from the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to Australia, the stories he’d memorized all those years before traveled there, too. But as he made his life as a refugee in Australia, Mr. Deng began to worry. Many of the southern Sudanese he met in Australia had either been born abroad or were too young when they left to remember life there. They knew little of their community’s history. They tripped over the words when they tried to speak their mother tongues. … In 2012, he founded Africa World Books. The Christian Science Monitor



Photo: Adam Jones