Africa Media Review for June 7, 2019

African Union Suspends Sudan, Demands Civilian Administration
The African Union says it has suspended Sudan from all activities until a civilian-led government is formed. The AU Peace and Security Council announced the suspension Thursday as protest leaders in Sudan rejected an offer from the ruling military council to negotiate the country’s political future. The protest leaders said the call for talks is insincere following this week’s deadly crackdown on demonstrators in Khartoum, which witnesses blamed on the militia known as the Rapid Support Forces. Doctors allied with the opposition said the death toll from the crackdown had risen to 108 as of Wednesday. The Sudanese Health Ministry issued a statement that said the number is “no more than 46.”  VOA

UN Pulls Staff from Sudan amid Growing Global Concern
The United Nations will pull staff out of Sudan as the African Union (AU) holds an emergency meeting after the violent dispersal of a protest camp in the capital killed dozens of people. The UN plans to relocate some personnel because of the violence but will have “critical” members in the country, its spokeswoman Farhan Haq said on Wednesday. “What we are doing is temporarily relocating some of the staff from Sudan. There will still be some staff on hand to perform critical functions but because of security some … are being relocated temporarily,” said Haq.  Al Jazeera

Sudan Junta Calls for Resumption of Talks, Opposition Refuses
The chairman of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, has called on the Alliance for Freedom and Change (AFC) to resume dialogue on the transitional phase, one day after the junta cancelled all former agreements with the Alliance concerning civilian rule. The AFC refuses to “negotiate with murderers”. El Burhan said in a speech on the occasion of Eid El Fitr on Wednesday that the TMC is “ready to unconditionally negotiate”. The only condition is “the interest of the country”. He said the TMC is “still ready to hand over power to an elected government”.  Radio Dabanga

Ethiopia’s Abiy in Sudan to Broker Talks
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in the Sudanese capital Friday to broker talks between the ruling generals and protest leaders after a deadly crackdown by security forces this week. Abiy arrived at Khartoum international airport and headed for a series of meetings with the ruling generals, an AFP correspondent reported from the airport. The Ethiopian premier was scheduled to meet protest leaders later. “We have received an invitation from the Ethiopian embassy to meet the Ethiopian prime minister at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) and we will go,” prominent protest leader Omar al-Digeir told AFP.  AFP

Tear Gas Fired as US Ambassador Meets Malawi Opposition Leader
The United States ambassador to Malawi was caught up in political unrest as police fired tear gas while she met with an opposition leader on Thursday, while police acknowledged some of the gas wafted into the U.S. embassy nearby. Departing Ambassador Virginia Palmer was meeting in the capital, Lilongwe, with Lazarus Chakwera at his party headquarters a short walk from the embassy. Chakwera finished a close second in last month’s presidential election and has gone to court to challenge the results, and his Malawi Congress Party supporters have been holding protests. A U.S. Embassy spokesman confirmed the meeting and told the privately- owned Nation newspaper that “as for the tear gas, we are monitoring the situation.” The embassy did not immediately comment to The Associated Press.  AP

Two Canadian Volunteers Missing in Rare Kidnapping in Ghana
Two Canadian women who were volunteering with an international development organisation have been abducted in Ghana, a rare attack in a country seen as one of the most secure in the West African region. The Canadians, who are ages 19 and 20, were taken on Tuesday evening in Kumasi, Ghana’s second city, some 200km (125 miles) north-west of the capital Accra. “Police command is investigating a complaint of kidnapping at Ahodwo, Kumasi Royal Golf Club, at 8.25pm on 4 June 2019, where two women of Canadian nationality were kidnapped,” said David Eklu, assistant commissioner of police, in a statement on Thursday.  The Guardian

Algeria Interim President Calls for Dialogue to Prepare New Elections
Algeria’s interim president Abdelkader Bensalah called on Thursday for all parties to launch an “inclusive dialogue” to prepare for presidential elections, following the constitutional council’s scrapping of a vote set for July 4. Bensalah, in a speech broadcast on state television, did not set a date for the new contest. The constitutional council on Sunday called off a presidential election planned for July 4 citing a lack of candidates, prolonging a period of political transition and risking more anger from anti-government protesters. Demonstrators are expected to return to the streets on Friday to demand Bensalah’s resignation and an end to the dominance of an elite who have ruled Algeria since it won independence from France in 1962. Former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika ended his 20-year rule two months ago under pressure from protesters.  Reuters

Pentagon Eyes Rare Earth Supplies in Africa in Push Away from China
The U.S. Department of Defense has held talks with Malawi’s Mkango Resources Ltd and other rare earth miners across the globe about their supplies of strategic minerals, part of a plan to find diversified reserves outside of China, a department official said on Wednesday. The push comes as China threatens to curb exports to the United States of rare earths, a group of 17 minerals used in a plethora of military equipment and high-tech consumer electronics. Although China contains only a third of the world’s rare earth reserves, it accounts for 80% of U.S. imports of minerals because it controls nearly all of the facilities to process the material, according to U.S. Geological Survey data. “We are looking for any source of supply outside China. We want diversity. We don’t want a single-source producer,” Jason Nie, a material engineer with the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency, said on the sidelines of the Argus U.S. Specialty Metals conference in Chicago.  Daily Maverick

After Allegations of Spying, African Union Renews Huawei Alliance
The accusations were explosive: For five years, the Chinese government had spied on communications at the African Union. Every night, data streamed from computers at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to unknown locations controlled by China, anonymous sources at the AU told reporters with the Financial Times and Le Monde, a French newspaper. The breach represented “what appears to be one of the longest-running thefts of confidential government data that we know about,” Danielle Cave, a senior analyst at The Australian Strategic Policy Institute, wrote last July. At the center of the controversy was Huawei, the Chinese technology giant with close ties to the Communist Party that had supplied the equipment, configured the servers and trained the staff at the African Union. Now, AU leaders have decided to solidify ties with the Chinese tech company at a time of intensifying international criticism of its practices around the globe.  VOA

Kenya, Zambia Fears Signal African Risk on Knife-Edge as Debts Soar
Risk scores deteriorated for several African countries in Q1 2019, according to Euromoney’s country risk survey, worsening adverse five- and 10-year trends for many of the region’s more sought after credits. Although Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal still offer comparatively safe bets, analysts have downgraded higher-risk borrowers, including Zambia (ranking 124th in Euromoney’s global risk table, from 186 countries), Mozambique (143rd) and Zimbabwe (169th) among others. Although a range of political, economic and structural risk factors are at play, one of the bigger issues is the worsening fiscal metrics, and the associated policymaking and corruption risks. Guinea, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Angola, Mali and Niger are among the countries with the largest downgrades to scores for the government finances indicator on a five-year basis. Kenya, South Africa and Zambia have seen the worst slide over 12 months. Euromoney

France and Rwanda: Re-Examining France’s Role in the Genocide
The times in which France and Rwanda were on the best of terms are long gone. There have been too many accusations since France sent its troops to Rwanda during the genocide. France had close ties to the old Habyarimana regime, led by the Hutu political elite of the time. Many of the main orchestrators of the genocide fled Rwanda to neighboring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) by crossing French protection zones. For years relations between France and President Paul Kagame’s government have been cool at best and often kept to a minimum. The past two years have, however, seen a relaxation of tensions between the two countries. French president Emmanuel Macron was invited to this year’s 25-year genocide commemoration – a first sign of reconciliation. When Macron instead sent Herve Berville, a young French lawmaker of Rwandan descent who represents the country’s parliamentary friendship group for relations with Rwanda and Burundi, many people were appalled.  France 24

Claims and Counter-Claims Mount over Cape Town Killing of Rwandan Dissident
As Rwandan dissident Camir Nkurunziza’s widow and children prepare to bury him in Cape Town, questions about the circumstances of his botched hijacking still grow. While the South African police have all but gone to ground, the Rwandan government is releasing blasts of information to distance itself as far as possible from his murder. Just over a week after he was shot dead in an alleged botched hijacking, Rwandan dissident and Uber driver Camir (also spelt Camille) Nkurunziza is set to be buried. Police have so far not released much detail around his death, but it was reported that there was an exchange of gunfire between the hijackers and the police and that Nkurunziza might have died as a result of that. Another man died with him in the car, 34-year-old South African Thabo Majeke. Daily Maverick

Portugal Puts Pressure on Guinea-Bissau to Appoint PM
Almost three months after the parliamentary elections in Guinea-Bissau but the political crisis persists. Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Augusto Santos Silva, said “all the conditions” are set for the Guinean president to appoint the Prime Minister and set the date of the presidential elections. Augusto said this after a meeting in New York with UN Secretary General António Guterres: “The elections were very participatory and were considered completely transparent and fair by all international observers. Since the election, a common force in the assembly has been able to form a majority to form a government. From our point of view, there are all the conditions to form a government and to set the date for the presidential elections, this should happen this year,” said Augusto Santos Silva, Portuguese Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Africa News

Where are Liberia’s Missing Millions?
In September 2018, local media reported that shipping containers filled with newly printed Liberian dollars from Swedish banknote manufacturer Crane AB disappeared from Liberia’s entry ports between 2016 and 2017. The Central Bank of Liberia denied the allegations and stated that the money was stored in vaults across the city. Just a few months before the revelation, President George Weah, who came into office in January 2018, announced that the central bank would pump $25m into the economy to replace older Liberian dollars. […] there were a number of concerns around the exercise and unanswered questions about the shipments of cash into Liberia. Two reports were commissioned to examine the details. The government’s Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) completed one. Risk advisory firm Kroll, the other.  BBC

Confederation of African Football President Ahmad Questioned by French Authorities
Confederation of African Football president Ahmad Ahmad was questioned by French authorities in Paris on Thursday, world football’s governing body FIFA said. Ahmad, a former Malagasy cabinet minister, was reported in March to FIFA’s ethics committee for alleged corruption and harassment by CAF general secretary Amr Fahmy. Fahmy was then fired. Ahmad, 59, was taken from his Paris hotel at 8.30am and questioned by officers of OCLIF, the French police agency fighting financial crime and corruption, French media reports said. Ahmad, who is also a FIFA vice president, had been in Paris for the FIFA Congress on Wednesday, where its newly re-elected president Gianni Infantino said his organisation had got rid of a “toxic, almost criminal” image.  France 24

One in Four Ebola Cases Undetected in Congo: WHO
Roughly a quarter of Ebola infections in eastern Congo are estimated to be going undetected or found too late, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert said on Thursday. But the WHO, in a weekly update issued subsequently, said there were “early signs” of an easing of the intensity with which the virus is spreading following weeks of insecurity that curbed access to communities and interrupted vaccination. Some 2,025 cases and 1,357 deaths have been recorded since the epidemic began in August in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces, said Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.  Reuters

Africa Is Home to Some of the World’s Most Polluted Cities—Here’s Why the Air Quality Is Not Improving
There’s an obvious air pollution problem across several African cities—worse still, there’s no way to tell just how bad it is. It all boils down to some grim data: just seven of Africa’s 54 countries are home to “real-time air pollution monitors” while only 6% of children across Africa live within 50 kilometers of an air quality monitoring station, according to a new UNICEF report. In comparison that number is 72% in Europe and North America. The implication is simple: with air quality data not being measured, it is very likely the true scale of the problem is underestimated. Over the years, there have been tell-tale signs though. A 2016 World Health Organization report placed four of the world’s worst-ranked cities for air quality in Nigeria. Onitsha, the worst ranked city globally, recorded 30 times more than the WHO’s recommended levels of particulate matter concentration. Meanwhile, soot particles often dominate the air in some of the continent’s oil-producing hubs, especially in southern Nigeria.  Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones