Africa Media Review for July 8, 2019

Sudan’s Military and Opposition Forge Power-Sharing Deal to End Months of Unrest
Sudan’s opposition and ruling military junta agreed to a political power-sharing deal early on Friday morning, designed to end months of political unrest that toppled the country’s longtime dictator and left scores of civilians dead. Word of the deal sparked celebrations in the capital, Khartoum. … Some are sceptical that Sudan’s armed forces would ever give up the reins of power, or that armed forces’ Egyptian, Saudi, and Emirati patrons would ever allow a civilian-led democratic Arab government to flower on the Red Sea. “It’s open to question whether the military is ever going to step down,” Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Washington-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies, told The Independent. The Independent

US Welcomes Sudan Power-sharing Deal as ‘Important Step Forward’
The United States on Saturday welcomed a provisional agreement forged by Sudan’s ruling military council and a coalition of opposition and protest groups to share power for three years as an “important step forward.” The U.S. State Department said in statement that special envoy for Sudan Donald Booth will return to the region soon. The agreement brokered by the African Union and Ethiopia Union, announced on Friday, is due to be finalized on Monday. “The agreement between the Forces for Freedom and Change and the Transitional Military Council to establish a sovereign council is an important step forward,” the State Department said. “We look forward to immediate resumption of access to the internet, establishment of the new legislature, accountability for the violent suppression of peaceful protests, and progress toward free and fair elections.” VOA

In Sudan, a Power-Sharing Deal Propelled by a Secret Meeting and Public Rage
[…] While African Union mediators brokered the final power-sharing deal, the agreement was set up by a momentous week of raw street power driven by public rage at military brutality, and a round of intensive back-room diplomacy brokered by an unusual coalition of foreign powers that had previously been at odds over the fate of Sudan. The agreement started to take shape at a secret meeting. Diplomats from the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates convened Sudan’s military and protest leaders for their first meeting since the military led the June 3 massacre in which at least 128 people were killed, according to doctors. … Tensions were high. Protest leaders found themselves sitting opposite General Mohamed Hamdan, the paramilitary commander accused of ordering the vicious rampage through Khartoum on June 3 that traumatized the protest movement. In the weeks since then, General Hamdan has become a focus of protester hate, even as his troops have spread out across the city to underscore his growing authority. … The sudden interest of the Saudis and Emiratis in bringing the two sides together was prompted by General Hamdan’s brutal tactics, which apparently went too far even for two countries that have faced a barrage of criticism for the conduct of their own forces in Yemen. New York Times

Justice Close as South Sudan Hybrid Court Gets AU Nod
Justice for families of those who have been killed, raped and maimed since 2013 in South Sudan seems achievable after the office of the Legal Counsel at the African Union signed a draft for the formation of a Hybrid Court in the country. However, Juba seems to want to scuttle it. The EastAfrican has gathered from sources in Addis Ababa that there is goodwill within the AU Commission and the Peace and Security Council to form the court in order to bring to book war criminals and to ease the implementation of the revitalised September 2016 agreement. However, there is also concern that some powerful forces who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity will scuttle the implementation of the agreement. The East African

UN Calls for Libya Ceasefire as Death Toll Climbs to 1000
The UN Security Council called on Friday for a ceasefire in Libya as the death toll from a three-month offensive on Tripoli reached 1 000, including scores killed in an air strike that hit a detention centre for migrants. The council condemned the late on Tuesday attack on the Tajoura detention camp east of Tripoli and “stressed the need for all parties to urgently de-escalate the situation and to commit to a ceasefire”, said a joint statement. Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, whose forces hold eastern Libya and much of the country’s south, launched an offensive in early April to wrestle the capital from forces loyal to the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). Air strikes and ground fighting have since left nearly 1 000 people dead and some 5 000 wounded, the UN’s World Health Organisation said. AFP

HRW Releases Stinging Report on Burundi Abuses, Calls for Holding Govt to Account
Burundi is facing further global isolation after Human Rights Watch released a stinging report on rights abuses there. The report by the HRW tells of how ruling party youths have carried out dozens of beatings, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, and killings against real and suspected political opposition members, and called on the UN Security Council to increase scrutiny and impose targeted sanctions. … Released in Nairobi on June 12, the report says that a campaign by the youth belonging to the ruling Forces for the Defence of Democracy known as Imbonerakure — against people perceived to be against the ruling party has continued since the May 2018 constitutional referendum. … It says that the abuses have increased since the registration of the opposition party, the National Congress for Freedom (CNL) in February. CNL is a breakaway faction led by Agathon Rwasa, whose leadership at the National Liberation Forces (FNL) has been in dispute. The East African

South Africa’s Graft Watchdog Tells Ramaphosa to Discipline Minister Gordhan
South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog said on Friday that President Cyril Ramaphosa should discipline Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for establishing an “intelligence unit” while serving as tax commissioner and for misleading parliament. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who investigates alleged wrongdoing by state officials, said that setting up such an intelligence unit was a violation of the constitution. She also said that by misleading parliament over whether he had met the Guptas, friends of former president Jacob Zuma at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal, Gordhan had violated an executive ethics code. … Gordhan is challenging in court another of Mkhwebane’s finding against him. Gordhan’s allies have said that her investigations into the minister are politically motivated, a charge that Mkhwebane denies. Reuters

Algeria’s Ex-Police Chief Detained in Corruption Probe – State TV
Algeria’s former police chief Abdelghani Hamel has been placed in provisional detention over alleged “diversion of funds and illicit enrichment”, state television said on Friday. Hamel, who was fired in June last year, appeared before an investigating magistrate in central Algiers, it said. Two of Hamel’s sons were also detained overnight, while his wife was provisionally released in the same case, state television reported. In total, the examining magistrate will question 19 people in the case, including ex-civil servants and real estate agents, according to the official APS news agency. AFP

Congolese Rebel Bosco ‘Terminator’ Ntaganda Guilty of War Crimes: ICC
International Criminal Court judges on Monday convicted Congolese rebel chief Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda of war crimes including directing massacres of civilians and rape, in a badly-needed victory for prosecutors in The Hague. Ntaganda, 45, was a “key leader” who gave orders to “target and kill civilians” in Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile, mineral-rich Ituri region in 2002 and 2003, head judge Robert Fremr said. The atrocities included a massacre at a village where people including children and babies were disembowelled or had their heads smashed in, the judge said. Ntaganda was also responsible for the rape and sexual slavery of underage girls, and of recruiting troops under the age of 15, as well as guilty of personally killing a Roman Catholic priest, the court said. AFP

Massive Displacement in Eastern DR Congo Poses Health Hazard
The International Organization for Migration warns massive displacement from renewed inter-ethnic fighting in DR Congo’s Ebola-affected Ituri province poses a serious health hazard. At least 160 people were killed during renewed clashes early last month between Lendu farmers and Hema herders in Ituri province. U.N. agencies report the violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and sent more than 7,500 refugees fleeing for their lives into neighboring Uganda. The International Organization for Migration reports people who have fled the frontline of the conflict are living in abysmal conditions that create a fertile ground for the spread of disease, most worryingly Ebola. The latest World Health Organization figures put the number of Ebola cases at 2,382, including 1,606 deaths. The bulk of these cases and deaths are in conflict-ridden North Kivu province About 10 percent are in Ituri. VOA

13 Nigeria Civilians Killed in Air Raid Targeting Jihadists: Sources
At least 13 civilians were killed in an air raid as the military repulsed a jihadist assault in northeast Borno state, residents and a security source said Sunday. Multiple inhabitants of Gajiganna village, 50 kilometres from state capital Maiduguri, told AFP a military jet on Tuesday targeted jihadists from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) after they attacked a nearby military base. The Nigerian air force, however, said it had no reports of civilian casualties. Fleeing residents were caught up in the bombing, residents said on condition of anonymity over fears for their personal safety. … “Many residents were too scared to remain in their homes and ran out to escape from the village as the fighting raged between the troops and the insurgents,” a second resident said. “They were mistaken for the attackers by the jet which fired on them, killing 13 and injuring many,” he said. … But a security source in Maiduguri confirmed the incident to AFP and blamed residents for flouting military orders to remain indoors. AFP

73 Killed, Five Kidnapped In Violent Attacks across Nigeria Last Week
At least 73 people died in different violent attacks across Nigeria last week. Among the dead were security operatives. Also, no fewer than five people were kidnapped. All the attacks in this report were either confirmed by the police or families of the victims. No fewer than 11 persons were reportedly killed by armed bandits’ attacks on nine villages in Kankara local government area of Katsina State. … The Northern Governors Forum condemned the killing of 25 people in Agatu, Benue State. … Bandits killed 27 people on Wednesday in different attacks on Katsina communities. … President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday condemned the Wednesday attacks in Katsina. The presidency said the attacks were executed by armed herdsmen on farming communities. Also, unknown gunmen abducted two Chinese working with a glass and aluminium company in Benin, Edo State. Premium Times

Nigeria to Seize $40M of Jewellery, Gold iPhone from Ex-Minister
A Nigerian court has ordered the imminent seizure of $40 million worth of jewellery and a customised gold iPhone belonging to former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, the country’s anti-graft agency said on Friday. The items, including hundreds of bangles, rings, earrings, necklaces and watches, were found at a property owned by Alison-Madueke, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said in a statement. Alison-Madueke, who ran the petroleum ministry from 2011 to 2015, was charged by the EFCC in absentia with money laundering in 2017. Her whereabouts are unknown, and a London-based lawyer who has represented her did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters

Cameroon and Nigeria Pledge to Combat Terrorism
Nigeria has promised to assist Cameroon in combating the separatist crisis rocking the central African country’s English speaking region. The pledge, made during a security meeting, has been described by Cameroon authorities as reassuring, following accusations that separatist fighters in Cameroon were being trained in Nigeria, and that weapons they use are brought in through the neighboring country. … In January 2018, 47 separatists, including Ayuk Tabe Julius, head of a group from Cameroon’s Angolphone regions pushing for a breakaway from the French-dominant country, were arrested in Abuja, Nigeria, extradited and jailed in Cameroon. Paul Atanga Nji, territorial administration minister and Cameroon’s leader of the delegation to the security meeting, says in spite of the collaboration, the separatists continue to use porous borders to import weapons through Nigeria, making the security situation very uncertain. … Nigeria’s longest international border is with Cameroon. All along the 1,975 kilometer border there are violent crises. Nigeria’s northeast states of Borno and Adamawa continue to have Boko Haram terrorist attacks. VOA

EAC States Behind on Human-Rights Reports
East African countries are lagging behind on their human-rights reports despite signing the African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which requires the document every two years. All signatories to the Charter are required to provide the reports to the African Commission on People’s and Human-rights (ACHPR) based in Banjul, Gambia. Kenya and Rwanda have only reported once since the protocol came into effect in 2005, Uganda and Ethiopia have reported twice and Tanzania five times. Somalia leads the region, having reported 17 times. … EAC partner states are continually faulted by international human-rights organisations and the United Nations Human-rights Council. South Sudan and Burundi are currently under the spotlight for violating human-rights due to their political instability, while Tanzania has increased its crackdown on the opposition and the media. The East African

Malawi President Warns of Action Against Protest Organizers
Malawi President Peter Mutharika has warned of unspecified action against the leaders of violent protests following his narrow recent election victory. Mutharika, whose legitimacy is being challenged by key opposition leaders, said during the country’s 55th Independence Day celebration in Blantyre on Saturday that he has learned the protests have nothing to do with election results, but are aimed at toppling his government. The protests organizers dispute this and say they cannot be intimidated. … Malawi has faced street protests, which in many cases turned violent, since the Malawi Elections Commission announced on May 27 that President Mutharika had been re-elected. The MEC declared Mutharika the winner with 39 percent of the vote, and said opposition Malawi Congress Party leader Lazarus Chakwera was a close second with 35 percent. Vice President Saulos Chilima’s opposition United Transformation Movement Party came in third with 20 percent. Chakwera and Chilima are challenging the election results in court, alleging ballot-stuffing and the use of a popular correction fluid to alter ballots. VOA

Long after Angola’s Civil War, Its Veterans are Destitute
“I was defending this area during the war,” Domingo Seiala explains hunched over his rusted crutches – a constant reminder of the injuries he sustained during the Angolan civil war. The bloody post-colonial conflict lasted from 1975 to 2002, pitting the ruling MPLA against Unita rebels. Seiala, a veteran of the MPLA armed wing, now lives in a collapsed and abandoned high school still riddled with bullet marks from the war. … Angola has about 159 000 war veterans according to the veterans ministry, but only a small percentage receive a pension of 23 000 kwanzas (60 euros, $67) per month. … The Angolan government, still led by the MPLA, promised to build 36 000 homes for veterans by 2013, but so far only 9 000 have been completed. AFP

China’s Contentious Stake in Zambia’s Broadcast Media
To help switch from analogue to digital TV, Zambia did a deal with a Chinese media conglomerate. Now, Zambian media owners are complaining that locals can watch Chinese kung fu movies but have limited local programming. … When Zambia stumbled with the rollout of the digital transmitters needed to carry the new TV signal, the powerful Chinese media conglomerate StarTimes helped set up a joint venture to distribute the signals. StarTimes, which has close links to China’s government, controls 60 percent of the joint venture, called TopStar, with Zambia’s national broadcaster, ZNBC, owning the other 40 percent. … Legally, TopStar is supposed to operate only as a signal distributor – Zambia’s digital migration law forbids any single entity from holding both a license to distribute the TV signal and provide content at the same time. But some claim the ownership setup of StarTimes holding the majority of TopStar allows the company, and with it the Chinese government, to influence the content distributed by TopStar. DW

UN Pledges Support for African Countries on AfCFTA
Amina Mohammed, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, has pledged the UN’s full support to the African Union (AU) as nations begin to earnestly operationalise the landmark African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). According to a statement issued by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), she made the pledge on Sunday in Niamey, Niger, at the 12th extraordinary session of the African Union on the AfCFTA. Ms Mohammed said the UN was ready to work in partnership with African countries as they move to implement the historic and game-changing AfCFTA. “We are already working with 16 African governments to develop national strategies to maximise the opportunities created by this agreement and we will increase this number from next year. “We are committed to working with African institutions to mobilise the resources that will be required for full implementation of the AfCFTA. “In the first instance, the African Regional Integration Trust Fund will support countries to mobilise resources to finance regional integration”, she said. Premium Times

First Black African Meant to Travel to Space Dies
Mandla Maseko, 30, the first black African who would have travelled to space has died, his family confirmed on Sunday. Maseko, popularly known as Spaceboy and Afronaut – beat 1 million people to become one of 23 people who won a seat sponsored by the Axe Apollo Space Academy, on an hour-long sub-orbital trip in 2014. However, his trip to space was not meant to be after he was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle on Saturday. “He was a larger than life figure. We are all still reeling at the moment. We are very distraught because most people only found out this morning. It is still very hard, painful and tragic,” his business manager and close friend Sthembile Shabangu told News24. Shabangu said that even though Maseko did not end up going to space, he would have wanted his hope to spread. News24



Photo: Adam Jones