Africa Media Review for June 5, 2019

Sudan’s Protesters Reject Military Plan a Day after Bloody Crackdown
[…] A spokesman for the Sudanese Professionals Association, the leading protest group, called the violence a “massacre,” but insisted that its members were already regrouping to continue their resistance against the military. “We are committed to a peaceful revolution to counter the coup by the Transitional Military Council,” said the spokesman, Amjad Farid. “The strikes will continue. The public marches will continue. The revolution will continue.” On the streets of Khartoum, though, there was little sign that the paramilitaries responsible for the violence on Monday intended to loosen their grip. Troops from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces paraded through the streets in long columns of military vehicles and set up checkpoints across the city.  The New York Times

Sudan Crisis: Death Toll from Crackdown Rises to 60, Opposition Says
The number of people killed in a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in the Sudanese capital Khartoum has risen to 60, an opposition group says. Members of a feared paramilitary group are reported to be roaming the streets attacking civilians. The violence began when forces of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) opened fire on unarmed protesters on Monday. The military has faced international condemnation for the attack. An attempt at the UN Security Council to condemn the violence was blocked on Tuesday by China, backed by Russia. […] Many Khartoum residents blamed the Rapid Support Forces for the crackdown. The paramilitary unit – formerly known as the Janjaweed militia – gained notoriety in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan in 2003. BBC

U.S. Official for Africa, AUC Head Discuss Ways to Resume Power Transfer Talks in Sudan
The top U.S. official for African affairs, Tibor Nagy Tuesday said he discussed with the head of African Union commission Moussa Faki about the need to bring the Sudanese parties to resume talks on power transfer. The opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) suspended the talks on the power transfer after the attack on the site of protest and the killing of 35 people at lease. They also declared a general strike in the country saying they want to topple the military council In turn, the Transitional Military Council (TMC), scraped the agreement they reached with the FFC and said they would form a caretaker government before to hold general elections in nine months. “I spoke with the African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki today about the need for the TMC and FFC to resume dialogue in Sudan,” Nagy said in a Tweet he posted on Tuesday.  Sudan Tribune

Hundreds of Opposition Members Arrested in Cameroon
Hundreds of members of Cameroon’s main opposition party are being held in custody after the country’s security forces carried out mass arrests during a series of anti-government protests over the weekend. Two people were injured and 351 arrested on Saturday in four regions of the central African country in protests against its octogenarian president, Paul Biya, and his government. Several senior opposition leaders were among those arrested. Only a handful of people have been released. The protesters’ demands included the release of their leader, Maurice Kamto, as well as hundreds of people arrested in earlier protests, and called for an end to the killings in the anglophone regions of the country, where a bloody conflict has played out over the last two years.  The Guardian

Rebel Attack in Congo Kills 13 Civilians in Ebola Zone
Authorities in eastern Congo say at least 13 civilians are dead after rebels attacked a town affected by the Ebola virus outbreak. Residents on Tuesday blamed the overnight violence near Beni on rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces group. Beni’s interim Mayor Modeste Bakwanamaha said two Congolese soldiers also were killed. Spokesman Zachee Mathima said one attacker was killed and a teenage girl was taken away as hostage. Calm returned by Tuesday morning. Attacks by various rebel groups have complicated health workers’ efforts to contain Ebola in places like Beni, where nearly 200 people have died from the virus since the outbreak was declared in August. The violence by ADF rebels and Mai Mai militias has hindered efforts to reach some Ebola-affected areas and vaccinate those most at risk.  AP

Senegal’s Opposition Calls for Inquiry on BP Gas Deal
A group of opposition politicians in Senegal called on Monday for an investigation of the history of two major offshore gas blocks run by BP after a report alleging fraud involving President Macky Sall’s brother Aliou Sall. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday published an investigation alleging that in a previously unpublished arrangement, BP agreed to pay Timis Corporation, a company run by Romanian-Australian tycoon Frank Timis, around $10 billion (7.9 billion pounds) in royalty payments for its stake in the blocks. The report said the early history of the acreage, which contains one of the largest deposits of gas in the world, was mired by fraud involving Timis, who has mining and energy interests across Africa. The BBC alleged that Timis in 2014 secretly paid $250,000 to a company run by Aliou Sall called Agritrans, based on a trove of documents it reviewed. Reuters

South Sudan Risks Losing EAC Membership over Default
South Sudan faces the risk of having its membership of the East African Community (EAC) suspended over delay in remitting its share of contributions to the bloc. South Sudan is required to pay $8 million to the EAC as contributions annually. Africa’s youngest nation became the 6th member after joining the regional body in April 2016. Kim Gai Ruot, an MP representing South Sudan at the East African parliament, told Radio Tamazuj Tuesday that South Sudan’s membership could be suspended should it fail to pay outstanding arrears within two months. He further said South Sudan government has been in default of its financial obligations for years resulting in it owing a total of $27 million.  Radio Tamazuj

Ethiopia and Kenya Are Struggling to Manage Debt for Their Chinese-Built Railways
In the wake of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum in Beijing six weeks ago, Ethiopia gained another Chinese debt-concession. China’s second-largest African borrower and prominent BRI partner in infrastructure finance also received a cancellation on all interest-free loans up to the end of 2018. This was on top of previous renegotiated extensions of major commercial railway loans agreed earlier in 2018. These concessions highlight the continuing debt-struggles that governments have in taking on Chinese large infrastructure projects. But they also demonstrate the advantages and flexibility, that African governments can gain in working with China—if they can leverage it. Ethiopia’s railway projects have been an instructive case of both the benefits and pitfalls of Chinese finance. It has been over a year since the Chinese-built and financed Addis-Djibouti standard gauge railway (SGR) opened to commercial service in January 2018.  Quartz

Kenya Threatens to Use Force against Somalia over Border Wall
Kenya has threatened to use force if Somali citizens continued to obstruct or destroy the fence it is building along the two countries’ border. “Any continued obstruction or destruction of the fence shall be responded to forcefully,” stated the letter signed by Kenya’s foreign ministry and delivered by Kenya’s mission in Mogadishu to Somalia’s ministry of foreign affairs on May 25. In the letter, Kenya accuses Somalia of “continuously” obstructing the construction of the fence and using women and children to cause harm to security personnel and construction teams. “Kenya is assessing the cost of damage caused by Somali citizens with a view of demanding compensation,” stated the two-page letter. In the letter, Kenya accuses Somalia of not reciprocating its goodwill. Radio Dalsan

Nigerian Ambassador Is Next UN General Assembly President
Members of the United Nations General Assembly have chosen the Nigerian ambassador to the world body as its next president. They elected Tijjani Muhammad-Bande by acclamation Tuesday to preside over the 74th U.N. session for one year, starting in September. He’s the second Nigerian president of the 193-member General Assembly. Joseph Nanven Garba was president during the 1989-1990 session. Muhammad-Bande succeeds Maria Fernanda Espinosa of Ecuador. He told General Assembly members that when they convene in September, priorities will include climate change, universal health coverage, gender equality and the eradication of poverty and hunger. AP

Former Nigerian Dictator’s £210M Seized from Jersey Account
More than $267m (£210m) belonging to a former Nigerian dictator has been seized from a Jersey bank account. The money was “derived through corruption” during the presidency of Sani Abacha in the 1990s, according to Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund. A shell company called Doraville held the funds, which were frozen in 2014. After a five-year legal wrangle, the money has now been recovered and will be split between Jersey, the United States and Nigeria. Jersey’s attorney general, Robert McRae QC, said the seizure “demonstrated [Jersey’s] commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering”. Mr Abacha was in power from 1993 until his death in 1998. BBC

Malawi Opposition Supporters Storm State Offices over Disputed Election Outcome
Opposition supporters in Malawi stormed a complex housing presidency and government offices on Tuesday to press demands for President Peter Mutharika to resign after an election they say was rigged. Mutharika narrowly won re-election last month, launching another five-year term for his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the southern African country. But opposition parties are challenging the state electoral commission’s May 27 declaration of Mutharika as the victor despite complaints of irregularities including results sheets with sections blotted out or altered with correction fluid. Protesters, among thousands who hit the streets of the administrative capital Lilongwe, broke into a compound containing offices of the president and government departments and told civil servants to leave. Reuters

‘No Safe Places’: Aid Group Urges Evacuation of Migrants in Libya
Thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in detention centres across Libya should be evacuated to Europe, the international medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has said. Rights groups have documented cases of abuse and torture in the Libyan centres, while a two-month conflict around the capital Tripoli has made the situation worse. “There are no safe places in Libya to take these migrants and refugees in order to remove them from the risk of conflict,” Sam Turner, MSF head of mission in Libya said at a press conference on Tuesday. “This is why we are urgently calling for their humanitarian evacuation”.  Al Jazeera

In a City of Ever-Shifting Front Lines, Libyans Confront Their Worst Fighting in Years
The last time Riad al-Hami saw his mother alive, she was chatting with a neighbor in the narrow street outside their houses, as they did every evening. Though the distant thud of mortar shells could be heard, Tripoli’s latest war had yet to reach their enclave. But minutes after Hami left, a rocket slammed into the neighbor’s house. He rushed back, he said, to find “blood everywhere.” His mother was face down, her back riddled with shrapnel. “The other old lady was torn into pieces,” recalled Hami, 36. For nearly two months, this besieged North African capital of more than 1 million people has been ensnared in its worst episode of violence since the toppling of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi almost eight years ago. The forces of renegade commander Khalifa Hifter have reached the city’s southern edges and are battling a constellation of militias aligned with a U.N.-backed government.  The Washington Post

Libyan Conflict Risks Oil Output ‘Collapse’
The head of Libya’s National Oil Company warned Monday against a “collapse in production” stemming from conflict in the North African country. Oil production “could collapse at any moment”, said NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla, even as he cited current output of over a million barrels per day. Strongman Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive against Tripoli — seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) — on April 4. But output could potentially fall by 95 percent, Sanalla said, in a video published on social media networks. Oil export terminals were not immune from the conflict, he said, recalling that the northeast of the country — nicknamed the “oil crescent” — had been at the centre at previous rounds of violence.  AFP

Zambia vs. Vedanta: Could the Government Be Paving the Way for a Chinese Buyer?
Zambia’s economic situation is getting dire. The Zambian Kwacha has fallen six percent against the US dollar this year alone. That makes it one of the world’s worst performing currencies. Last month, rating agency Moody’s downgraded the country’s credit worthiness to junk status. That means there’s a chance of Zambia defaulting on its debt — it owes around $10 billion (€8.88 billion) to foreign creditors, more than 40% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The overall public debt is actually $15 billion — equivalent to 73% of GDP So the recent liquidation of the country’s largest copper mining operation, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), is being viewed with suspicion. The government alleges that India-based Vedanta Resources, which owns a majority stake of around 80% in KCM, has violated its mining licence and owes money in unpaid taxes. The insolvency proceedings that led to KCM’s liquidation were started by the state-owned ZCCM Investment Holdings, which only owns a minority stake of around 20% in the company.  Deutsche Welle

Zimbabwe: Between Land Ownership and Food Security
A land dispute in Zimbabwe has highlighted a major hurdle in the country’s new agricultural policies. There is a need for better food security and an economic upturn, but also for a more transparent land reform. […] Although not as violent as in the early 2000s, the land redistribution claims have again cropped up, with a few remaining productive white commercial farmers being targeted. Although this was done to correct unfair land ownership imbalances dating back to the colonial era, the difference today is that Zimbabwe is very aware of the economic downturn the country experienced over the past 20 years. Additionally the country’s image on an international playing field is at stake. After years of economic isolation, the country “is open for business,” as President Emmerson Mnangagwa mentioned repeatedly after the ousting of longtime leader Robert Mugabe. Deutsche Welle

DRC Ebola Cases Pass 2,000, Prompting Call for ‘Total Reset’
More than 2,000 people have been infected with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the health ministry has said, and aid agencies expressed concern over the accelerating spread of the disease. So far there have been 1914 confirmed and 94 probable cases of infection with the virus, making the outbreak, which was declared in August last year, the second largest in history. New cases are being reported at a rate of around 10 every day. Some 1,346 people have died It took 224 days for the landmark figure of a thousand confirmed and probable cases to be reached. But it has taken only 71 days to reach 2,000 such cases.  The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones