Africa Media Review for June 18, 2019

Mohamed Morsi, Ousted President of Egypt, Dies in Court
Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi, has collapsed during a court session and died, almost six years after he was forced from power in a bloody coup. Morsi, a senior figure in the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, was attending a session in his trial on espionage charges on Monday when he blacked out and died, according to state media. “After the case was adjourned, he fainted and died. His body was then transferred to the hospital,” reported the Egyptian state newspaper al-Ahram, referring to Morsi’s retrial for allegedly spying for the Palestinian Islamist organisation Hamas. Egypt’s public prosecutor said Morsi, 67, was pronounced dead on arrival at a Cairo hospital, after he fainted inside the defendants “cage” in the courtroom. Nabil Sadiq’s statement said the cause of death was being investigated but that “there were no visible, recent external injuries on the body of the deceased”.  The Guardian

Sudan Protesters Urge Night Rallies amid Standoff with Army
Sudan’s protest leaders on Monday called for nighttime demonstrations and marches in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country, amid a tense standoff with the ruling military over who should lead the transition after the ouster of the autocrat Omar al-Bashir. The protest leaders said they’ve begun a “revolutionary escalation” to pressure the country’s generals to hand over power to civilians and to condemn the military’s violent dispersal of their sit-in camp in Khartoum earlier this month. At least 128 people have died since the security force’s crackdown on June 3, according to the protest organizers. The military-backed authorities, however, say 61 people died, including three members of the security forces. The group representing the protesters — known as the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change — said the night rallies will begin on Tuesday and marches on Thursday. AP

At Least 161 Dead in Northeast Congo in Apparent Ethnic Clashes
At least 161 people have been killed in a northeastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week, local officials said on Monday, in an apparent resurgence of ethnic clashes between farming and herding communities. A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation, although the exact identity of the assailants remains murky. Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo that left millions dead from conflict, hunger and disease. Reuters

Massive Displacement Reported in North-Eastern DRC amid New Violence
Violence in north-eastern parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is reported to have displaced more than 300,000 since early June. The situation in Ituri Province has deteriorated since the middle of last week, with multiple attacks involving the Hema and Lendu groups. Inter-ethnic attacks between the two communities had already led to widespread displacement in late 2017 and early 2018, but the situation had calmed. Large-scale displacement is reported in three of Ituri’s five administrative territories: Djugu, Mahagi and Irumu. People are fleeing attacks and counter attacks in Djugu Territory, with reports of both communities forming self-defense groups and being involved in revenge killings. The estimates have been received from local sources in 125 locations. UNHCR and other humanitarian actors do not at present have access to most of the affected areas.  UNHCR

US Reopens Permanent USAID Mission in Somalia
The United States is reopening its permanent U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Somalia, 28 years since its closing on January 5, 1991. Although the U.S. never formally severed diplomatic relations with Somalia, the U.S. Embassy in Somalia was closed in 1991, when the civil war in the 1980s led to the collapse of the country’s central government in 1991. On Monday, USAID also announced nearly $185 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Somalia. The aid is aimed at mitigating life-threatening food insecurity and acute malnutrition, as well as delivering safe water and emergency health care services to people affected by the ongoing conflict and prolonged drought. The U.S. is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Somalia. VOA

Chad Rebel Chief Arrested in France on War Crimes Charges
One of Chad’s main rebel leaders was detained at his Paris home on Monday over alleged crimes against humanity committed in Sudan, his rebel group and French legal sources said. General Mahamat Nouri, the exiled leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), was detained at his home in western Paris in connection with “his activities in Sudan between 2005 and 2010,” a group spokesman told AFP. Paris prosecutors confirmed his arrest along with that of two other Chadian rebels as part of an investigation opened last month into crimes against humanity and similar charges. France 24

Ethiopia Has Been Offline, and Nobody Really Knows Why
Internet outages that prevented many Ethiopians from accessing online services have entered a seventh day, sparking anger and frustration among citizens. Access to social media platforms like Whatsapp and Telegram have been restricted since June 11, according to internet monitoring service Netblocks. In the capital of Addis Ababa, business owners and journalists told CNN Monday they were using VPN to connect to the internet and access messaging platforms. Tour operator Serak Tadele complained that he has been struggling to get online to book travel plans for his clients since the internet restrictions began last week. CNN

Rivalry and Revelry Mark Mauritania Election Campaign
After a campaign rich in colour and steeped in desert traditions, voters in Mauritania will choose Saturday among six candidates vying to succeed President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, who is standing down after a decade in power. The frontrunner is former general Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, a longtime ally of Abdel Aziz, whose two elected five-year terms were preceded by a military coup in 2008. His main challenger is Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, who hopes to win enough support to secure a runoff vote on July 6. He is backed by a coalition led by the main opposition movement, Islamist party Tewassoul, and by Franco-Mauritanian businessman Mohamed Ould Bouamatou, a longtime thorn in the side of the regime. Nearly 30 percent of voters say they will vote for Ould Ghazaouani and 23 percent for Ould Boubacar, according to a poll by the Mauritanian Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (CMERS), conducted among 1,300 people in the capital Nouakchott last week.  AFP

Libya’s Two Wars: One on the Battlefield and One on Facebook
In terms of its effect on the battlefield, a drone that fell from the skies one recent morning in an area south of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, was a nonevent. It was unarmed. When it crashed (or was shot down; it’s still unclear), it left behind no casualties. But by the evening, the drone was the subject of thousands of impassioned Facebook duels dissecting its origin. As well, a video examining its hull became the grist for dozens of reports by satellite news broadcasters across the region. The aftermath of the incident was just another sign that in Libya there are two concurrent wars: One involves bullets and bombs fired between the self-styled Libyan National Army and militiamen allied with the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (or the GNA) in Tripoli’s outskirts. The other war is no less intense, but virtual; its ordnance is a swarm of disinformation, gruesome videos and pictures peddled by “keyboard warriors” or “digital heroes,” as Libyans sometimes dub online partisans. Los Angeles Times

Mali: Anger over G5 Sahel Headquarters Transfer to Bamako (Video)
Police in Mali’s capital have fired tear gas at protesters after demonstrations broke out near a military barracks. Tension is growing over the deployment of a West African regional security force. Dozens of people were killed in the latest flare-up of ethnic fighting earlier this week. Al Jazeera

Algeria’s Army Chief Renews Push for Presidential Election
Algeria’s powerful army chief is stressing the need for political dialogue that would lead to a presidential election, as a people’s revolt for democracy remains at an impasse with the government. Ahmed Gaid Salah also said on Monday that a crackdown on “the scourge of corruption” since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in early April would spare none of those who benefited at the expense of Algerian citizens. The remarks Gaid Salah made in a speech were his first public comments in three weeks. He helped pressure Bouteflika to step down, but angered pro-democracy protesters afterward by supporting a since-canceled presidential election that had been set for July 4. Two former prime ministers, several once-powerful generals and the ex-president’s brother are the people already jailed on suspicion of corruption. AP

Arman: No Breakthrough in SPLM-N Reunification Talks
Rival sides in talks to reunify factions of the rebel group SPLM-N have not broken any new ground on the key issue of one leadership, a top opposition leader said. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) split into two factions in 2017 over leadership, one is led by General Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu and the other is led by General Malik Agar. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir had offered to mediate reunification talks between the two factions of the Sudanese rebel group. Yasir Arman, deputy head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) faction led by General Malik Agar, told Radio Tamazuj on Monday that recent meetings mediated by President Kiir in a bid to reunify the rebel group ended without a breakthrough.  Radio Tamazuj

Guinea Protests against Constitutional Amendment Leave One Dead
At least one person was shot dead in Guinea’s southern city of NZerekore when police clashed with crowds protesting against a constitutional amendment that may allow President Alpha Conde to run for another term in 2020. Eleven others were injured including a police officer, the Security and Civil Protection Ministry said late on Friday in a statement, adding that it was opening an investigation into the clashes. Opposition and civil society groups have opposed any constitutional revision that could allow Conde, 81, to run for another presidential term once his time in office expires next year. The West African nation holds the worlds largest reserves of bauxite, the main ore of aluminum.  Bloomberg

Burkina: Public prosecutor demands life imprisonment for Diendéré and Bassolé
In Burkina Faso, the military prosecutor demanded life imprisonment for generals Gilbert Dienderé, former chief of staff of the presidency and Djibrill Bassolé, former foreign minister under Blaise Compaore. The prosecution also asks that the two generals be dismissed from their rank. Sentences ranging from 5 to 25 years in prison were required against several other defendants. The two main defendants of the trial of the 2015 failed coup in Burkina are prosecuted for “attack on state security”, “complicity in attacking state security”, “murders”, “assault and battery” and “Incitement to commit acts of indiscipline and treason”. RFI

Zimbabwe on the Brink as Inflation Nears 100%
Zimbabwe’s year-on-year inflation reached 97,85% in May, latest statistics from the Zimbabwe Statistical Agency (Zimstat) revealed on Monday. The annual inflation rate jumped steeply from 75,86% the previous month, showing how the country’s economic meltdown continues to escalate. Zimbabwe, whose inflation rate is widely ranked as the second highest in the world after Venezuela, is experiencing its worst economic challenges with price increases at a ten-year high. At the height of the financial crisis in 2008 Zimbabwe’s inflation sky rocketed to more than 89 sextillion. In response the government printed its highest denomination of $100-trillion. Business Day

Former Zimbabwe First Lady Grace Mugabe Owns 16 Farms
Grace Mugabe, the wife of Zimbabwe former president Robert Mugabe, owns 16 farms, in what is against the country’s land policy which allows ownership of one farm per family. This was revealed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa during a radio interview in Harare on Friday. Using Grace Mugabe’s monicker, Mnangagwa said, “I know of one lady “Stop It” who has about 16 yet the law says one family one farm.” Zimbabwe went through a land redistribution exercise from 2002 which affected approximately 4,500 white farmers. While thousands of black Zimbabweans were given pieces of land, most of the prime land went to high ranking political elite, who amassed more than one farm. Fin 24

Porous Borders, Insecurity Impede Eastern Africa Ebola Effort
Porous borders and insecurity have heightened fears that the Ebola outbreak that has claimed more than 1,300 lives in DR Congo could easily spread to South Sudan and Uganda. The virus has already claimed two lives of a family in Uganda whose members visited DR Congo for a burial but Uganda President Yoweri Museveni said the situation has been contained. A suspected case that was under observation in Kenya turned negative on Monday and Somalia, with one eye on a potential risk, has moved to assure its citizens that all is well. The Ebola alert in eastern Africa follows a finding by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week that the outbreak in DRC, while not warranting declaration of an international health emergency, was grave enough to pose risks in neighbouring countries. The East African

Following in Diana’s Footsteps, Prince Harry Backs Mine Clearance in Angola
Britain’s Prince Harry on Monday threw his weight behind mine clearance efforts in Angola, a cause championed by his mother more than two decades ago when she made global headlines by walking through a minefield in the country. The prince welcomed an announcement that Angola will invest $60 million (47 million pounds) in clearing mines in the southeast of the country under a major conservation initiative in one of the world’s largest wildernesses. “Let’s not forget, land mines are a humanitarian issue and not a political one,” the Duke of Sussex told a seminar on demining Angola at London’s Chatham House think tank. Reuters

Tunisia Fishermen Become Lifesavers of the Mediterranean
The Tunisian trawler radioed in for help as it passed the migrant boat in distress out at sea. But with the packed craft still adrift two days later, captain Chamseddine Bourassine took direct action. Fishermen from the North African country are spending more and more time pulling in stranded migrants after a sharp decline in humanitarian and European naval patrols along the stretch of water between war-wracked Libya and Italy. Bourassine, his crew and three other fishing boats ferried the 69 migrants back to shore May 11, five days after their boat pushed off from Zuwara on the western Libyan coast.  VOA

Illiterate Entrepreneurs in Mali Now Have Their Own Social Media App
Mamadou Gouro Sidibe spent years developing social networking apps that he hoped would rival giants such as Facebook or WhatsApp in his native Mali. Each time, he was a step behind. Until one day, on a trip to the grocery store, the owner handed him his smartphone, asking him to read a Viber chat message he had just received in French but could not read for lack of education. “That’s when it clicked: I’m running after tools that are not understood yet,” Sidibe said. Soon after, the IT engineer — who’d left his career in French startups — created Lenali, a local social media app, which he describes as the world’s only voice-based network available in multiple West African languages. For the millions of uneducated citizens of this vast, desert West African nation, he said, it has the potential to change the way business gets done. Los Angeles Times



Photo: Adam Jones