Africa Media Review for May 12, 2021

Sudan Forces Disperse Protest in Khartoum; 2 Killed
Two protesters were killed when Sudanese security forces dispersed a demonstration late Tuesday in the capital of Khartoum, a local medical group said. The violence broke out when dozens of protesters made their way late in the day to the sealed-off area outside the military’s headquarters to commemorate a deadly break-up of a protester camp two years ago. The protesters have demanded justice for those killed in the 2019 violence. Security forces closed off major roads and streets leading to the government and military headquarters in Khartoum ahead of the protests. The Sudanese doctors’ committee said security forced fired live bullets and tear gas to disperse the protesters, killing at least two people and wounding more than 15 others, some of them in critical condition. The committee is the medical arm of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, which spearheaded the popular uprising that led to the military’s ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Sudan has since then been on a fragile path to democracy and is ruled by a military-civilian government now rules the country. The military said in a statement it regretted the violence in Tuesday’s demonstration outside its headquarters, vowing to investigate and bring those responsible before justice. AP

AMISOM to Get Mandate Extension to December
The African Union says its mission in Somalia, commonly known as Amisom, will get an extension on its mandate to December 31 this year, ending security uncertainties as the country heads to elections. The decision was reached on Tuesday during a meeting of the 15-member AU Peace and Security Council. A statement issued after the meeting said there had been a general agreement to extend the Mission’s mandate. … This year, the AU and UN’s plan was for the troops serving under Amisom to begin withdrawing gradually and, by December 2021, be out of the country, with the exception of technical personnel. However, the AU slowed down the departure after political stakeholders in Somalia failed to agree on a political calendar to hold indirect elections before February 8 as earlier scheduled. With tensions rising in Mogadishu last month, the AU Peace and Security Council further directed Amisom to monitor Somali troop movements, and delayed the exit procedures for some of the troops. The EastAfrican

UN Seeks Proposals to End Force on Sudan-South Sudan Border
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the mandate of the nearly 3,700-strong peacekeeping force in the disputed Abyei region on the Sudan-South Sudan border until Nov. 15. It also asked Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to provide recommendations for reconfiguring and ending the mission, although Guterres informed the council early last month that he couldn’t provide such options because of differences between the two countries. Both Sudan and South Sudan claim ownership of the oil-rich Abyei area. The 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan’s independence from its northern neighbor in 2011 required both sides to work out the final status of region, but it is still unresolved. The U.N. force, known as UNISFA, has been in Abyei since 2011. The resolution asks Guterres to conduct a strategic review of UNISFA assessing recent political developments between Sudan and South Sudan and provide detailed recommendations by Sept. 30 on reconfiguring the mission “and establishing a viable exit strategy.” … [Guterres] said Ethiopia believes the premature withdrawal of UNISFA would likely lead the security situation in the Abyei area to deteriorate — a view echoed by the African Union. AP

UN Says ‘Increasingly Concerned’ Over Algeria Rights Abuses
The UN voiced alarm Tuesday at reports of sexual violence in detention and disproportionate use of force against protesters in Algeria, calling for investigations into all alleged abuses. The United Nations human rights office said it had received numerous reports of abuses in Algeria since weekly mass demonstrations by the Hirak pro-democracy movement resumed in February. “We are increasingly concerned about the situation in Algeria where the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs continue to be under attack,” spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva. “Over the past two months, activists, human rights defenders, students, journalists, bloggers and ordinary citizens peacefully expressing dissent have continued to face criminal prosecution,” he said. AFP

Ugandan Security Forces Deployed Ahead of Museveni Inauguration
Ugandan security operations have ramped up around the capital ahead of Wednesday’s inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni. That includes tight security around the home of opposition leader Bobi Wine, who accused the government of fraud in January’s election. … Joel Ssenyonyi, the National Unity Platform party spokesperson, says Wine’s house has been heavily surrounded by security. … “But for us, all this is panic. Panic by Mr. Museveni and his regime, because they are afraid of Ugandans. Simply because they know they stole the victory of Ugandans,” Ssenyonyi said. … While ordinary Ugandans are continuing their normal business, 55-year-old Henry Kisule, a casual laborer, moving on his bicycle says there’s nothing exciting about the inauguration. He said when Museveni took power in 1986, he was completing his primary education. He has now lived under Museveni for 35 years, and said it is time for change. “The years he’s been in power are so many. Do we want to see him collapse? He should have ended with the fifth term. And even the little happiness that we had, because the children he would have propelled into power, he’s just torturing them. Things aren’t good, we are not happy,” Kisule said. VOA

South Africa’s President Suspends Party Secretary-General
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has intensified the country’s anti-corruption drive with the suspension of his African National Congress party’s secretary-general, who is facing corruption charges in court. The decision made this week to suspend Ace Magashule and implement a policy that forces leaders charged with corruption to resign is largely seen as a victory for Ramaphosa against his political rivals. These include Magashule and a political faction within the party which is sympathetic towards former president Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma as president of the ANC and of South Africa in 2017 and 2018 respectively. He has lamented the scourge of corruption in the country, particularly in government departments and the country’s state-owned enterprises. Ramaphosa promised to rid the party of the culture of corruption and the suspension of Magashule is seen as a significant step, especially in a year that the party will face local government elections. AP

Kenyan President’s Plan to Reshape State Gets Senate Backing
Kenya’s Senate joined the National Assembly in backing a plan to restructure the government to make it more inclusive and help avoid power struggles that have turned violent at past elections. Senators approved the constitutional amendment bill on Tuesday, with 51 voting in favor, 12 rejecting it and one abstaining during a televised session in the capital, Nairobi. The proposals include the reintroduction of the role of prime minister and two deputies, and the creation of the position of the head of the opposition. President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga have said the changes will provide greater political representation and end winner-takes-all elections. The legislation will be put to a referendum that’s expected to take place before a general election scheduled for next year. Still, holding the plebiscite depends on the outcome of a court ruling on Thursday following petitions challenging some of the proposed constitutional changes. Some planned reforms such as expanding the president’s powers to include the appointment of an ombudsman for the judiciary may erode the institution’s independence, said Kipchumba Murkomen, a senator who voted against the bill. Bloomberg

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Announces New Parliament
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Monday night reconstituted parliament, paving the way for the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Legislative Assembly as stipulated in the 2018 peace agreement. Through a presidential decree read on state-run television, South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, Kiir appointed 550 lawmakers from all parties who signed the revitalized peace accord. The appointment came two days after he dissolved the National Legislative Assembly and Council States. According to the peace deal, both R-TNLA and Council of States shall be reconstituted to include new appointees from other peace parties. The deal says TNLA will be expanded from 400 to 550 members, comprising representatives from the peace parties, where the former Transitional government will nominate 332 members, SPLM-IO will have 128, and South Sudan Opposition Alliance, 50. Other political parties shall have 30 representatives, while former detainees will nominate 10 members. The EastAfrican

Insecurity: Nigeria’s Southern Governors Offer 10-Point Solution
Worried by the rising wave of insecurity in the country, Southern governors yesterday met in Asaba, the Delta State capital, and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation on the issue. It will be recalled that the 17 governors of the South, operating under the aegis of Southern Governors Forum, had reconvened virtually last week, several years after the Forum had been in limbo. … The governors met on a day President Muhammadu Buhari also, for the third time in two weeks, met with service chiefs and heads of other security agencies, and approved new security measures to curtail insecurity in the South-East and South-South geopolitical zones of the country. ‘Convene national dialogue now’ Rising from the meeting which started at about noon and ended at about 4:20pm, the Southern governors urged the Federal Government to convene a national dialogue as a matter of urgency and insisted on the ban of open grazing across Southern Nigeria. They also expressed concern over the continued gridlock on Oshodi – Apapa Expressway and the chokehold it has exerted on the nation’s economy, being the sole outlet from Apapa Wharf. Vanguard

Nigeria Bans Mass Gatherings after Virus Spikes Elsewhere
Nigeria on Monday introduced new restrictions, including a ban on mass gatherings, after a spike in COVID-19 cases in some countries. Although Nigeria has seen a steady decline in new cases of the virus in recent months, the surges in India, Brazil and Turkey have raised fears of a third wave of the pandemic in Africa’s most populous nation. Mukhtar Mohammed of the Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) told reporters in Abuja that, despite existing travel restrictions on Brazil, India and Turkey, there was a need to take urgent action. This is due, he said, to Nigerians’ non-compliance with the safety and health guidelines in place. The beefed-up measures are designed “to mitigate the risk of a spike in new cases while the nationwide vaccine rollout continues,” Mohammed added. He announced the closure of bars, nightclubs, pubs, event centres as well as recreational venues throughout the country. AFP

As Ramadan Ends in Nigeria Fears over Increased Violence Grows
Muslim faithful in Nigeria end their annual fast on Wednesday May 12. But the end of the Ramadan is raising fears of increase in violence in Africa’s most populous nation. On Tuesday night, loud explosions and gunfire were heard in the city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The army confirmed that a dozen worshippers were kidnapped Tuesday in the Katsina region in Nigeria’s northwest. According to researcher, Vincent Foucher, jihadists groups have a habit of redoubling its violence when the end of Ramadan nears. This period he noted via twitter is particularly volatile, compounded by widespread insecurity. On Monday night, a mosque in the town of Jibia in the northwest was attacked while worshippers were attending a prayer vigil. The army said Tuesday it has managed to repel the attacks. AFP

Cameroon Military Says Rebels Turning to IEDs as Numbers Fall
Cameroon authorities say anglophone separatists have been increasing their use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which killed 24 people in the past two weeks. Cameroon’s military held an emergency meeting on the issue Monday. Cameroon’s Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo held two emergency meetings in the past week over the increasing use of improvised explosive devices in the country’s west. After the meeting on Monday, Assomo said IEDs planted by anglophone separatists were resulting in almost daily casualties. He says as the number of separatist fighters is reducing, the few groups of rebels remaining have resorted to IEDs to fight government troops. Assomo says the military has destroyed many separatist camps, weapons, and fighters, while some have surrendered. … Twenty-four-year-old University of Yaoundé student Chris Verla says the public bus he was riding Sunday from the northwest town of Ndop to Yaounde hit an IED. Verla says three passengers died on the spot while he and four others were severely injured. VOA

Burkina Army Says 20 ‘Terrorists’ Killed in Joint Operation
Burkina Faso’s army on Tuesday said it had killed at least 20 “terrorists” and destroyed four of their positions in a combined operation in two northern regions badly hit by jihadist insurgents. The operation was launched on May 5 in the Nord and Sahel regions, bringing together conventional and special forces, the air force and gendarmerie, a police unit that is under military command, it said in a statement. Named Houne — Dignity in the Fula, or Peul, language — the operation is expected to last more than a month, a senior security source told AFP. “More than 20 terrorists have been neutralized” and four of their bases or positions have been destroyed, the source said, adding that communications equipment, weapons, ammunition, and means of transport had also been seized. The Defense Post with AFP

Ex-Mauritania Leader under House Arrest on Corruption Charge
Mauritania’s authorities placed former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz under house arrest Tuesday as they investigate allegations of corruption, embezzlement and money laundering made against the West African country’s last leader. Aziz served as president from 2008 to 2019, handing over power to Mohamed Ould Cheikh Ghazouani in what became Mauritania’s first peaceful transfer of power since independence from France in 1960. The 65-year-old former head of state will only be able to leave his Nouakchott home to pray or seek medical care. All requests must be approved by judges. … Aziz has refused to cooperate with the investigation, citing immunity as a former president and calling the prosecution illegal. … The former president had backed the 2019 candidacy of Ghazouani, his former defense minister and one-time friend. However, the two had a subsequent falling out over the control of their ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) party. The dispute triggered a parliamentary inquiry in the former president, and a parliamentary commission found that Aziz was responsible for “misappropriations” during his time in power. Mauritania, a moderate Islamic republic, has suffered five coups since independence in 1960 and was led by military rulers for much of that time. AP

Regional Food Security Key to ECOWAS Peace, Development – Bawumia
The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has emphasized the importance of a regional food storage system for the ECOWAS subregion in order to ensure food security, peace and accelerated development for the millions of people in West Africa and beyond. Speaking at the virtual International Conference on the West African Food Security Storage System in Accra on Monday May 10, Vice President Bawumia said although individual countries are making efforts towards ensuring local food security, a concerted, collective effort is important to ensure security for all. “At a time when the global community, and indeed Africa, is reeling from the continuous threat and ravaging effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, this meeting is timely, and inspires great hope,” he stated. “As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of our food systems and our agriculture sectors in general. “In the last 7 years, statistics suggests that, people facing food insecurity in the sub region has exploded from two million to 27 million as at the end of our last cropping season.” Modern Ghana

Egypt Plans Suez Canal Expansion after Vessel Was Grounded
Egypt on Tuesday announced plans to widen and deepen the southern part of the Suez Canal where a hulking vessel ran aground and closed off the crucial waterway in March. The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, announced details of the plan in a televised ceremony in the canal’s city of Ismailia. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and top government officials attended the ceremony. The plan includes widening the canal’s southernmost stretch by about 40 meters (yards) to the east, on the side of the Sinai Peninsula, Rabie said. That segment would also be deepened to 72 feet, from the current 66 feet in depth. That part of the canal is 30 kilometers (18 miles) long. … The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship, had ran aground in the single-lane stretch of the canal on March 23 before it was extracted six days later after a massive salvage effort by a flotilla of tugboats. The vessel is still held in the canal’s Great Bitter Lake amid a financial dispute between its owners and the Suez Canal Authority. AP



Photo: Adam Jones