Africa Media Review for March 13, 2019

Protesters’ Message to Algeria’s President: You Can’t Fool Us
Initial euphoria over the Algerian president’s decision to give up his candidacy for a fifth term quickly gave way on Tuesday to skepticism and anger among opposition figures who called the move a “trick” to save his troubled government. Hundreds of youthful protesters returned to the streets of Algiers and other cities a day after the government canceled the April election, and the country’s independent news media gave voice to a sense that the elderly and infirm president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, was maneuvering to extend his mandate under the guise of “reform.”Independent television in Algeria broadcast images of demonstrators holding signs with messages like “No extension, game over” and “System, give it up,” using one of the names Algerians commonly give to the ruling circle. The way forward in this giant, oil-rich North African country, four times the size of its former colonizer, France, is unclear. What is nearly certain, though, is that the anti-government demonstrations that have repeatedly hit cities and towns from the coastal north to the desert south will continue.  The New York Times

Veteran Diplomat Set to Guide Algeria’s Transition after Protests
Lakhdar Brahimi, the veteran diplomat who is expected to steer Algeria’s political transition after mass protests, has won respect from foreign leaders and his country’s political elite during his long career. But his appointment may not go down well with protesters demanding rapid change. At 85, he is three years older than President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and from the same generation that has presided over Algerian politics since the 1954-62 war of independence against France. Bouteflika yielded to the protests on Monday by postponing elections and dropping plans to stand for a fifth term. Brahimi is now likely to chair a conference planning Algeria’s future, a government source said. A former foreign minister, Brahimi has carried out troubleshooting missions for the United Nations across several regions and mediated on some of the Middle East’s thorniest conflicts.  VOA

Nigeria’s Ruling Party Takes Close Lead in Governor Elections, but Balance Could Tip
Nigeria’s ruling party took a close lead in elections for powerful state governors on Tuesday, although the final results hang in the balance as seven races were declared inconclusive or suspended. Most of those seven states lean towards the main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), whose politicians voiced outrage at the inconclusive results and the suspension of elections in oil-rich Rivers state due to violence. The lead for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) after voting last Saturday follows victory for its presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari, who won a second term in office last month, beating PDP candidate Atiku Abubakar. Reuters

Nigeria Says Governorship Vote ‘Inconclusive’ in Six States
Nigeria’s electoral board said on Tuesday the outcome of governorship polls in six states was inconclusive, sparking opposition fury and raising the prospect of re-runs and legal action. It said violence and other irregularities had prompted voting Saturday to be cancelled in some areas of Kano and Sokoto, in the northwest, Bauchi and Adamawa in the northwest, and the central states of Benue and Plateau. “We have concluded elections in 22 states. We have six states inconclusive and one suspended, that is Rivers,” said Festus Okoye, from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In areas where the poll was cancelled, the total vote exceeded the margin between the top two candidates, which prompted returning officers to declare the outcome for that state to be inconclusive, he said. Mail and Guardian

DR Congo: Violence May Be Crime against Humanity, UN Says
A UN investigation says violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year may amount to crimes against humanity. It says at least 500 people were killed, including families burnt alive in their homes and a two-year-old who was thrown into a septic tank. Ethnic violence broke out when one community wanted to bury one of their traditional chiefs on another community’s land. The investigation adds that violence could flare up again at any time. Investigators say the violence between 16 and 18 December was “planned and executed with the support of customary chiefs”. Members of the Batende community attacked Banunu villages “with extreme violence and speed, allowing little time to escape”. BBC

Malong Agrees to Join South Sudan Revitalized Peace Agreement.
The former South Sudanese army chief of staff turned rebel Paul Malong has agreed to join the revitalized peace and agreed and to engage discussions with the government on its implementation. On 18 December 2018, in a meeting with the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan Ismail Wais, Malong voiced his support to the revitalized agreement and said ready to engage in the peace process. Accordingly, he held a two-day meeting in Nairobi on 11-12 March with the IGAD Special Envoy, representatives of the RJMEC, CTSAMM, office of the chair and IGAD member states to discuss the modalities of his participation in the implementation of the peace agreement and the peace process. “Following the discussions, the SSUF/A led by Gen Paul Malong Awan expresses its willingness and readiness to engage in the peace process through negotiations with the government of South Sudan to be facilitated by the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan,” said a joint statement signed by Malong, Waid and Tesfa Micheal from the office of the IGAD Council of Ministers. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Dismisses Gang Rape Accusations, Asks for Peace Funding
South Sudan’s justice minister on Tuesday dismissed U.N. investigators’ accusations that fighting and gang rape persisted in his country and called for $285 million in donations to fund peacemaking bodies. Paulino Wanawilla Unango was addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council after U.N. investigators found that gang rape remained endemic in the north of the country with fighting continuing despite a September peace accord. “I was a little bit surprised that…the chairperson went on again to state dramatically (there was) a serious situation of rape and gang rape, attacks and other things continuing. We don’t know about the issue of raping and gang-raping,” he said. Unango said South Sudan needed funding for bodies set up in the peace process. The government had put $1 million into a seed account for that purpose, and he appealed for international donations to cover the full $285 million budgeted.  Reuters

Umma Party’s VP Sentenced to Prison for Protest
The Omdurman Emergency Court has issued prison and fine sentences against 13 members of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP), including the co-president, Dr Maryam El Sadig. The State of Emergency has been ratified by parliament – for six months. The NUP said in a statement on Monday that the targeting of its leaders and headquarters with repression and detention will only increase its determination of the necessity of an unconditional overthrowing of the regime. Among those sentenced to paying a fine were Rabah El Sadig, Etimad Abdallah, Mona El Tahir, Safiya El Fadul, Fatima Abdallah Nugdallah, Amna El Fadil, Mona Abdelmotaal, El Haj Hasan, Adam Abdelgadir, Mohamed Saleh, Ahmed Eisa and Jamal El Amin Abdelgadir. Radio Dabanga

Sudan, Ethiopia to Deploy Joint Forces to Secure Border
Sudan and Ethiopia signed an agreement Tuesday to deploy joint forces along their border to prevent weapons smuggling and sporadic skirmishes between armed groups from both sides, state media said. The setting up of a joint border protection force comes after a series of high-level talks between officials from the neighboring countries over several months. “The Sudanese and Ethiopian defense ministries signed today a protocol to deploy joint troops along the border to control smuggling, illegal immigration and cross-border crimes,” Sudan’s official SUNA news agency reported. “The joint force will secure the border and the people living along the frontier on both the sides,” General Kamal Abdelmarouf, chief of staff of Sudan’s army, said during the signing ceremony, according to SUNA.  VOA

US Conducts Airstrike in Somalia after Troops Come under Attack
The US military conducted an airstrike in Somalia on Monday after a Somali-led force and its accompanying US military advisers were attacked by Al-Shabaab militants. The strike killed eight Al-Shabaab fighters, US Africa Command, which oversees US military operations on the continent, said Tuesday. “US service members were present during the ground operation in an advisory capacity. All US service members are accounted for and are unharmed,” the statement added. The US has approximately 500 troops in Somalia, primarily in advisory roles. At least 244 fighters from the al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab have been killed in 25 airstrikes so far in 2019, according to figures released by US Africa Command.  CNN

7 Malian Soldiers Killed in a Mine Explosion in Central Mali
A United Nations security official says seven Malian soldiers have died after their vehicle hit an explosive device in central Mali’s Mopti region near Dialoube. Mali army spokesman Col. Diarran Kone confirmed Tuesday’s attack but said there was not yet an official casualty report. The U.N. official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to press on the matter. Dialoube was occupied by jihadist groups in 2016 before being liberated by the Malian army in 2017. However, jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida remain near the village and regularly stage attacks against Mali’s army. Insecurity in central Mali has also grown to include intercommunal conflict. Ethnic groups including the Fulani are accused of supporting extremists, while others are believed to be loyal to Mali’s army.  AP

UN Panel: Democratic Space in Burundi is Shrinking
A U.N. commission of inquiry on Burundi says the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza is becoming more repressive. The three-member commission says this does not bode well for elections in 2020. In a report presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday, the commission expressed regret at Burundi’s recent closure of the U.N. human rights office after a 23-year presence in that country. The commission of inquiry remains the only international mechanism for monitoring Burundi’s human rights situation. The report notes that Burundi has told all foreign non-governmental organizations to re-register and submit a list of their employees, mentioning their ethnicity. This, to see if they are complying with a new quota system of 60 percent Hutu, 40 percent Tutsi and a minimum of 30 percent women.  VOA

Ethiopia, France Sign Military, Navy Deal, Turn ‘New Page’ in Ties
Ethiopia and France agreed their first military cooperation accord on Tuesday, a deal that includes helping the landlocked nation build a navy, as Paris seeks to boost economic ties in Africa’s second-most populous country. On a four-day visit to the Horn of Africa, President Emmanuel Macron is looking to break from France’s colonial history on the continent and nurture relationships in a region where it has lagged behind in recent years. Macron wants to leverage a mixture of Paris’ soft power in culture and education and its military know-how to give it a foothold at a time when Ethiopia is opening up. “This unprecedented defense cooperation agreement provides a framework… and notably opens the way for France to assist in establishing an Ethiopian naval component,” Macron told a news conference alongside Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.  Reuters

Macron in Kenya, 1st French Leader There since Independence
French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Kenya today in the first visit by a French leader since the East African nation’s independence in 1963. This is the latest stop in Macron’s Africa tour, followed by Ethiopia and Djibouti, focusing on investment and security in a region of increasing strategic importance. The French leader is attending a U.N. environmental meeting and One Planet Summit in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, and meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta. Macron’s office says that Kenya is the only African nation to reach the goal of making renewable energy 75 percent of its energy mix. The office also notes the ongoing threat to Kenya from extremism. Al-Shabab is in neighboring Somalia. French business leaders are also traveling with Macron. Kenya is East Africa’s commercial hub.  AP

Will Uhuru Kenyatta Mediate Uganda, Rwanda Row?
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta made brief visits to Uganda and Rwanda on Monday amid long-running disputes between the two countries that has now threatened cross-border trade. Mr Kenyatta held private talks, first, with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame before addressing the country’s national leadership retreat in Gabiro, where he emphasised on the importance of integration. His next stop, before his return trip to Nairobi, was at State House in Entebbe where he met President Yoweri Museveni. President Kenyatta’s visit comes on the back of Mr Kagame’s two-day trip to Tanzania, seen as a quest to firm up relations with Dar es Salaam and secure a trade route from the sea. The East African

Ramaphosa Endorses Zim Government, Calls Sanctions ‘Unjust’
South Africa’s president endorsed Zimbabwe’s government Tuesday, ignoring reports of human right abuses by the military to crush persistent dissent in the neighboring country. On a visit to Zimbabwe, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa voiced his strong support of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, repeating calls for an end to Western sanctions and urging the international community to assist the once-prosperous country. He described the sanctions against Mnangagwa and dozens of other top Zimbabwean officials as “unfair” and “unjust.” He promised South Africa will assist Zimbabwe’s economic recovery “within our means.” Ramaphosa’s comments came as Human Rights Watch issued a report urging him and other southern African leaders to push Zimbabwe’s president “to put an end to security force abuses.”  AP

Venezuela an Issue Between Allies US and South Africa
Differences between South African and U.S. policy on Venezuela’s political crisis are likely to come to the fore this week, as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan visits southern Africa. Last month, South Africa was one of three members of the United Nations Security Council, along with Russia and China, to vote against a U.S. resolution calling for the recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president. South Africa is backing embattled President Nicolas Maduro, and says the U.S. should respect Venezuela’s electoral process, which saw Maduro re-elected late last year. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, said he was “disappointed” by South Africa’s move, and expects Sullivan to make that clear during meetings with South African officials. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones