Africa Media Review for June 4, 2019

Al-Burhan Cancels Agreement with Sudan’s Opposition, Calls for Election in 9 Months
The head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has called for general elections within nine months and cancelled previous agreements with the opposition groups. In a speech made in the first hours of Tuesday morning, al-Burhan accused the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) of bearing the responsibility for prolonging the negotiations on power handover and trying to exclude the other political and military forces before to “clone another totalitarian regime”, as he said. He further announced the cancellation of the agreements reached with the FFC over the transitional government and parliament before to announce the organisation of general elections within nine months. “General elections will be held not later than “seven months” from now, he said pointing that it should be implemented and supervised by regional and international observers. Al-Burhan in his speech spoke about nine months but the text released by the TMC indicates seven months.  Sudan Tribune

35 Dead as Sudan Troops Move against Democracy Protesters
Sudan’s ruling military moved to crush the protest movement opposing its grip on power as security forces overran the main sit-in site in the capital Monday, unleashing furious volleys of gunfire, burning down tents and killing at least 35 people, witnesses and protest leaders said. With the assault, the generals signaled an end of their tolerance of the pro-democracy demonstrators, who for months have been camped outside the military’s headquarters as the two sides negotiated over who would run the country after the April ouster of longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir.  The dispersal of the sit-in now risks escalating violence even further. Scattered by the bloody assault, protesters vowed to keep up their campaign, suspending talks and calling for a general strike and civil disobedience. They urged nighttime marches across the country. […] The ruling military council said in a statement that security forces had been trying to clear an area adjacent to the protest camp when those it was chasing fled into the sit-in site, leading to the shooting deaths and injuries. But activists said the assault appeared to be a coordinated move, with other forces attacking similar sit-ins in Khartoum’s sister city of Omdurman and the eastern city of al-Qadarif.  AP

‘Wrong, Outrageous’: World Reacts as Sudan Forces Attack Sit-In
A deadly military crackdown on protesters in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, has prompted global concern with the United States calling the assault “wrong” and the African Union urging an immediate investigation into the reported deaths of more than a dozen people. In a Twitter post on Monday, the US embassy in Khartoum urged Sudanese troops to stop the attack and blamed the country’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) for the violence. “Sudanese security forces’ attacks against protesters and other civilians is wrong and must stop. Responsibility falls on the TMC,” read the tweet. […] Jeremy Hunt, the United Kingdom’s foreign secretary, condemned the attack, calling it an “outrageous step that will only lead to more polarisation and violence”. The TMC “bears full responsibility for this action and the international community will hold it to account,” he warned in a Twitter post. […] Moussa Faki Mahamat, the chairman of the African Union Commission, also denounced the attack and urged the TMC to protect “civilians from further harm”.  Al Jazeera

Islamic State Fighters Attack Nigeria Military Bases in Lake Chad Area
Islamic State militants conducted multiple attacks on military bases in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state over the weekend, security sources told AFP on Monday, June 3. Fighters believed to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province faction of Boko Haram attacked military bases on Saturday and Sunday, sources from the military and militia said. There were no immediate details on casualties. Since July last year, ISWAP has intensified attacks on military targets, killing dozens of soldiers and overrunning bases mainly in Lake Chad region in Nigeria, Chad and Niger where it is the dominant insurgent group. On Saturday, ISWAP fighters attacked a base in the town of Marte, around 90 km (56 miles) northeast of Borno state capital Maiduguri, pushing troops out after a prolonged gunfight, the two military sources said.  The Defense Post

UN Chief Warns of ‘High Risk’ of Atrocities in Mali
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is warning of a “high risk” of atrocities in Mali in a report that calls for beefing up the UN peacekeeping presence in the strife-torn center of the country. In the report to the Security Council obtained by AFP, Guterres said he was “appalled” by the upsurge in violence and called on the government to strengthen its response to extremist groups. “If these concerns are not addressed, there is a high risk of further escalation that could lead to the commission of atrocity crimes,” Guterres wrote in the report sent to the council on Friday. At least 157 people, including 46 children, were massacred in the central village of Ogossagou on March 23, in raids blamed on extremists stoking communal tensions.  France 24

Attacks Foiled in Niamey and Diffa, Niger Defense Ministry Says
Security forces in Niger foiled three weekend attacks in the capital Niamey and in the southeastern city of Diffa, the government said. Western embassies had issued warnings on Saturday over possible attacks in the Sahel country. Five people including “two known terrorists” were arrested near Niamey’s international airport on Saturday, the defense ministry said in a statement read on state radio on Monday, June 3. “These terrorists intended to perpetrate attacks in the city of Niamey or its environs,” the statement said. On Sunday, two attacks were thwarted in the Diffa area, according to the ministry. Overnight, four would-be suicide bombers were “neutralized,” one near a fuel depot and three at the Diffa airport, the ministry said. Local officials had earlier said all four militants were killed near the depot, which stores oil and gas for the region.  Defense Post

About 2,000 SPLA-IO Forces Arrive at Cantonment Site in Amadi
Opposition forces allied to Riek Machar’s SPLA-IO arrived for cantonment in Kotobi County of South Sudan’s Amadi state, a military official said on Sunday. Major General Fan Sisimaya Taban, the commander of SPLA-IO Division 9 told Radio Tamazuj that more than 2,000 troops from Maridi and Amadi states have reported to Ngiri, a cantonment site in Kotobi County on Saturday. Taban said this is a great step and will accelerate the implementation of security arrangements in the revitalized peace deal. He stated they are ready to work with the state authorities but added they face many challenges including lack of food, clean drinking water, medicine as well as schools for their children. Radio Tamazuj

Bemba Return Worry for DR Congo’s Tshisekedi
DR Congo former vice president Jean Pierre Bemba announced Monday that he will return home on June 23 further complicating President Felix Tshisekedi’s rule. Bemba, who was acquitted by the International Criminal Court last year after spending 11 years in custody, made the surprise announcement on Twitter. “It is with joy and enthusiasm that I announce my return to Kinshasa, DRC, on Sunday June 23 2019 at 10am,” he wrote. “I look forward to meeting you so that together we can strengthen the unity of vision and action for a prosperous Congo.” The return of Bemba to Congo, completes the Lamuka platform of the so called “six bosses” – all powerful business and political individuals. The East African

Russian Troops to Join U.N. Force in Central African Republic Soon: Ministry
Russia will in the near future send 30 military personnel to Central African Republic where they will form part of a United Nations mission to help stabilise the country, Interfax news agency quoted a Russian foreign ministry official as saying. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree in April on the despatch of the military contingent. Reuters

ICC Submission Calls for Prosecution of EU over Migrant Deaths
The EU and member states should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean fleeing Libya, according to a detailed legal submission to the international criminal court (ICC). The 245-page document calls for punitive action over the EU’s deterrence-based migration policy after 2014, which allegedly “intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress at sea, with the sole objective of dissuading others in similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe”. The indictment is aimed at the EU and the member states that played a prominent role in the refugee crisis: Italy, Germany and France. The stark accusation, that officials and politicians knowingly created the “world’s deadliest migration route” resulting in more than 12,000 people losing their lives, is made by experienced international lawyers.  The Guardian

Morocco Claims Success in Slowing Migrant Voyages to Europe
Morocco is claiming new success in lowering the number of migrant crossings into Europe as the country works with its northern neighbor, Spain, in securing more European funding for curbing migration. Foreign Affairs Minister Nasser Bourita said the number of crossings dropped 40% compared to the same month last year in the Western Mediterranean route, which last year became the main entry point into Europe. Departures have dropped significantly since the beginning of 2019, with Rabat claiming that its security forces have dismantled 60 trafficking networks and stopped more than 30,000 crossing attempts. Authorities refuse to comment on the fate of migrants stopped. In addition to Moroccans or Algerians, great numbers come from poorer sub-Saharan African countries. AP

Tunisia PM Chahed Elected as Leader of New Secular Party
Tunisia’s secular Tahya Tounes party, founded this year, elected Prime Minister Youssef Chahed as its president on Sunday, confirming expectations of his leadership months before parliamentary and presidential elections. The new party was formed in January after months of wrangling within ruling coalition party Nidaa Tounes, resulting in the resignation of dozens of leaders. The fragile coalition, which also includes the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, is struggling to pass economic reforms demanded by foreign lenders. Tahya Tounes party (Long Live Tunisia) includes ministers in the government of Chahed and dozens of lawmakers. The party said it is seeking a comfortable win in the next elections to pursue stalled economic reforms.  Reuters

Kenya’s New Banknotes and the Battle against Corruption
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced that the country’s currency is to be replaced with a new generation of banknotes. Kenyans must return their 1,000 shilling ($10; £8) notes to banks by 1 October, in a bid to fight money laundering, counterfeits and corruption. New banknotes are to be brought in over the coming months with other denominations being phased out gradually. Some Kenyans have expressed anger over the new banknote design, which features an image of a statue of Kenya’s first President, Jomo Kenyatta – the current president’s father. BBC

Rwanda Blocking Pilgrims from Commemoration, Says Uganda
Rwandan troops blocked about 200 of their citizens from crossing into Uganda to attend a Christian pilgrimage, a Ugandan government official said on Monday, amid a spat between the neighbours. The Rwandans were seeking to attend the annual Martyrs Day commemoration in Uganda but were turned back, the official said. “More than 200 Rwandans who were coming to attend Martyrs Day were stopped by the military from crossing to Uganda and sent back,” Janinah Busingye, an official at Katuna, the border town with Rwanda, told AFP Monday. “This is how bad the situation has become between Uganda and Rwanda. People’s right to worship is now being interfered with.”  AFP

Rights Groups Worried about Zimbabwe Crackdown against Activists
Rights organizations in Zimbabwe are concerned about what they say is a crackdown against opposition activists by the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. They cite the recent arrest of seven activists who were detained when they returned home from a conference in the Maldives. Makomborero Haruzivishe leaves Zimbabwe’s maximum security prison where he was visiting the seven detained activists who are being held on treason charges. He is a family friend of one of them, 37-year-old Tatenda Mombeyarara. “It’s a baseless charge. It’s a charge that they are using to crack down on human rights defenders and civil society in Zimbabwe,” Haruzivishe said. “But the reality on the ground is that the economy is in tatters. Tempers within the country are high, so the government throws fear into people, to pacify them. They are going for opposition people. They are going for leading civic organizations in order to pacify them in case of any peace mass action.”  VOA

Zimbabwe Businesses Drop Local Currency for US Dollars
As Zimbabwe’s economy struggles and the country faces scarce fuel supplies, some businesses are refusing to accept the ever-weakening local currency, insisting on doing business in U.S. dollars. One reason is that the local currency, known as bond notes, are not accepted outside the southern African country, making them useless for any companies that need to import goods. This spare vehicle parts seller, Tongai Madamombe, says he wants President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to switch to the U.S. dollar as pricing in bond-notes has become difficult. “For those that do not import, charging in bond-notes is not as difficult, as it is for us who import,” Madamombe said. “If you do not calculate well, you will fail to restock. We are really in difficult times. So we are now pricing in U.S. dollars, those who do not have it we use parallel market rates, as we will go there to get foreign currency to import our stock.”  VOA

Nigeria’s Unreliable Electricity Costs Its Economy $29 Billion a Year—Solar Power Would Save Billions
Lengthy power cuts are pretty much a daily experience in Nigeria. The country’s epileptic power supply has been identified by businesses as the second biggest obstacle to doing business in the country, after a lack of access to finance. This unreliable power supply is a major hindrance to Nigeria’s economic growth. It also costs the country an enormous amount of money. Quoting Nigerian government data, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that a lack of access to reliable electricity costs Nigeria an estimated $29 billion a year. The situation comes with environmental and health risks, too. Many individuals, households and organizations have resorted to fossil-fueled generators. Nigerians spend an estimated $14 billion a year on small-scale generators. Quartz

How A Census Can Drive Sustainable Development in Africa
In 2020 the West African Country of Ghana will conduct a census. This is a massive undertaking. Some 60,000 people will be deployed across the country in an effort to count every single person in Ghana on what is known as “census night.” This is expected next March. In a recent reporting trip to Ghana, I got a sense of what this process entails. Along with a few other journalists, I shadowed census takers, known as enumerators, as they tested their systems in a few places around Accra. This included a mental health hospital and an urban slum. The idea is to ensure that even marginalized groups are counted in this census, so enumerators are designing strategies to count people who have no fixed address or might be in institutions, like hospitals. The enumerators were also field-testing their tablets. Unlike in previous census rounds in 2010 and 2000, in 2020 census data will be collected using tablets, which provides for a far quicker turnaround time than conventional paper processing. UN Dispatch