Africa Media Review for May 2, 2019

African Union Gives Sudan Military Further 60 Days to Cede Power
The African Union has given Sudan’s military rulers another 60 days to hand over power to a civilian authority or face suspension. The new threat on Wednesday came after Sudan’s military leaders ignored an earlier deadline to step aside within a 15-day period set by the bloc on April 15. The AU’s Peace and Security Council said it noted the military’s failure to transfer power to a civilian authority “with deep regret”, but said it was giving the council “an additional period of up to 60 days” to do so. The bloc also reiterated “its conviction that a military-led transition in the Sudan will be totally unacceptable and contrary to the will and legitimate aspirations, to democratic institutions and processes, as well as respect for human rights and freedoms of the Sudanese people”.   Al Jazeera

Sudanese to Hold Mass Rally amid Standoff with Generals
Sudan’s protest movement plans to hold a mass rally as it steps up pressure on the military to hand over power to civilians following last month’s overthrow of President Omar al-Bashir. The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, a coalition led by the Sudanese Professionals Association, has called for a million-person march to begin at 1 p.m. (1100 GMT) Thursday. The protesters have been holding negotiations with the transitional military council over the creation of a new sovereign council, but the two sides remain divided over how large a role the generals should have in it. The protesters fear the military intends to hold onto power or cut a deal with other factions that would leave much of al-Bashir’s regime intact.  AP

UN Panel: South Sudan Killed Activists
A new U.N. report says South Sudanese security agents likely executed two prominent critics of the government who vanished in Kenya in January 2017. South Sudan’s government has repeatedly denied responsibility for the disappearance of human rights lawyer Dong Samuel Luak and Aggrey Idri, a member of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement In Opposition (SPLM-IO). But the U.N. Panel of Experts on South Sudan says it verified evidence strongly suggesting that Luak and Idri were kidnapped in Nairobi by South Sudan’s Internal Security Bureau, acting on orders from ISB’s director general, Lieutenant General Akol Koor Kuc. The report, released Tuesday, says ISB agents transported the two men from Kenya to Juba in a commercial plane on January 27, 2017, chartered with the help of the South Sudan’s embassy in Nairobi. VOA

Tanks Surround Benin Ex-President’s Home amid Violent Poll Protests
Protestors in Benin torched businesses and set up burning barricades on Wednesday, as soldiers in tanks encircled the home of ex-president Thomas Boni Yayi after he led calls for an election boycott. Hours after initial results showed a record low turnout in Sunday’s controversial parliamentary polls held without a single opposition candidate, soldiers and large numbers of police deployed across the economic capital Contonou. Demonstrators erected makeshift barriers of burning tires, as well as setting fire to a fuel station near the presidential palace, shops and banks.  AFP

Senate Confirms Top Generals for Europe, Africa
New top generals for U.S. military forces in Europe and Africa have been confirmed by the Senate. The Senate confirmed Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters to be commander of U.S. European Command (EUCOM) and Army Gen. Stephen Townsend to be commander of U.S. Africa Command (Africom) by unanimous consent Monday night as part of a batch of a few dozen military promotions. […] Townsend, meanwhile, said at his confirmation hearing that he has a “pretty significant concern” about the way Russia uses mercenaries in Africa. He also expressed concern about China’s influence on the continent.  The Hill

Civilians Bear Brunt of Surge of Violence in Burkina Faso
An attack on a protestant Church in Burkina Faso’s Soum province last Sunday killing six, marks a turning point in the west African nation’s fight against terrorism. The shooting, the first of its kind, came days after half a dozen people were killed by assailants elsewhere in the country, in a sign that the violence could be shifting from indiscriminate to targeted. […] “I think definitely we should be concerned,” reckons Sten Hagberg, professor in Cultural Anthropology at Uppsala university in Sweden. “What is very worrying is that it is not civil defense and security forces that are the targets, but it’s school teachers, religious leaders, municipal advisers. Now it’s targeted people on the civilian side and that is of course extremely worrying because that is the basis of building a decent society,” he told RFI.  RFI

Germany’s Merkel Bolsters Support for West African States
Chancellor Angela Merkel promised Burkina Faso and four other West African countries millions of euros in new German aid on Wednesday to help fight terrorism in the region and support economic development. At the start of a three-day visit to the region, Merkel promised Burkina Faso more than 20 million euros ($22 million) and said Germany would send a further 60 million to the G5 Sahel group, to which Niger, Chad, Mali and Mauritania also belong. Western governments, including former colonial power France and the United States, are alarmed by the rise of jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State in West Africa’s lawless Sahel region. Reuters

UK Could Boost Military Support to Help Nigeria Defeat Boko Haram
Britain is considering stepping up its military efforts to help the Nigerian government defeat Boko Haram, following a rise in terrorist activity in the country’s north-east in the past year, Jeremy Hunt has said after a visit to the region. The UK foreign secretary said on Wednesday that he will be discussing what more the British government can do in terms of aid and military support to combat the terrorist group, warning the crisis had the potential to trigger a humanitarian catastrophe on the scale of that in Yemen. Britain provides £240m in aid to Nigeria, of which £100m goes to the north-east, making it the second-largest donor after the US, and giving the UK a sizeable stake in what happens in the region. The Guardian

Algeria Army Chief Calls for ‘Dialogue’ With Protesters
Algeria’s army chief called Wednesday for dialogue between protesters and state institutions, a day after pushing back against demonstrators’ demands for top politicians to quit. “I remain entirely convinced that adopting constructive dialogue with the institutions of the state is the only way to exit from the crisis,” Gen. Ahmed Gaid Salah said in a statement published by the defense ministry. This is “the wisest way to present constructive proposals, bring points of view closer and reach a consensus around the available solutions,” he added. Salah was for years an ardent supporter of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, until demanding on April 2 that impeachment proceedings be launched against the ailing leader, who stepped down the same day.  AFP

Anger at Corruption Dents Faith in South African President, ANC before Poll
Struggling farmer Meshack Ncongwane was a life-long supporter of South Africa’s governing African National Congress, but says the party won’t get his vote in parliamentary and provincial elections next week. Local ANC officials offered him what he thought would be a lucrative stake in a dairy farm in 2013. He was one of 80 people who were to be given an equal portion of a 50 percent share in the venture funded by the local government. But he says the project set up to help landless black farmers fell victim to fraud, and the venture is being scrutinised by prosecutors. Losing the support of people like Ncongwane is a worry for the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa, as they struggle to reverse a slide in support for the party caused in part by perceptions that more needs to be done to stamp out corruption. Reuters

The Disappeared – More than 15 Million Eligible Voters Will Not Vote on SA’s Future
Next Wednesday, 10 million South Africans who are eligible to vote won’t be at the ballot stations because they did not register. By polling and historic voter turnout patterns, about five million more people who have registered are unlikely to make to the polls. Let this sink in: almost one in three eligible voters in South Africa are either so disenchanted with politics or for whom democracy means so little in their daily lives that they did not turn up even to register. It could end up looking bleaker if you consider that the likely voter turnout is about 71% – which means that another five million people are not likely to turn out to vote. What’s going on? Daily Maverick

South Africa Elections: Charting Divides 25 Years after Apartheid
The quality of life may have improved for many South Africans since the landmark 1994 elections that ended white-minority rule but huge inequalities remain. As South Africans prepare to go to the polls on 8 May, we take a look at how much has changed. South Africa is Africa’s most-industrialised economy, with industries ranging from agriculture, financial services, trade, tourism and a robust informal sector, worth millions of dollars. It enjoys a seat in the Brics block of economies – with Brazil, Russia, India and China – and is a member of the G20 forum of international governments. Despite its economic standing, the country is also home to gross inequality, which is largely a legacy of its history of racial segregation. BBC

Libyan Coast Guard Rescues Nearly 100 Europe-Bound Migrants
Libya’s coast guard says it has rescued 96 Europe-bound migrants off the Mediterranean coast. Spokesman Ayoub Gassim said on Wednesday that a rubber boat carrying the migrants, mostly from Africa, stopped Tuesday off the coast of the western town of Khoms. He says the migrants were given humanitarian and medical aid and were taken to a refugee camp in the town. Libya became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after the uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Traffickers and armed groups have exploited Libya’s chaos following the 2011 uprising. AP

UN Expert on Libya Weapons ‘Illegally Jailed in Tunisia’
A UN expert on illegal Libyan weapons, Dr Moncef Kartas, is being kept in prison by the Tunisian government in violation of international law, a letter signed by more than 90 weapons experts, academics and Libyan researchers has claimed. Kartas was seized four weeks ago by Tunisian police and accused of espionage and contacts with foreign parties. The letter, which is also signed by his wife and his brother, reflects a belief that Kartas, a German-Tunisian dual national, has been imprisoned simply for carrying out legitimate investigation, on behalf of the UN, of breaches of its Libyans arms embargo. VOA

Zimbabwe Begins Exhuming Victims of Mugabe-Era Massacre
A Zimbabwean organisation has started exhuming the remains of victims of a government massacre during former president Robert Mugabe’s rule, which claimed some 20,000 lives. Mugabe’s regime deployed a North Korean-trained crack military unit to fight alleged dissidents in parts of the Matabeleland and Midlands provinces in the 1980s, according to rights groups. The targets were mainly from the Ndebele ethnic group, perceived as backing a rival to Mugabe, who is from the majority Shona group. Mugabe did not publicly apologise for the crackdown codenamed Gukurahundi (which means “the rain that washes away the chaff” in Shona) except calling the killings “a moment of madness.”  AFP

Beyond Rations: Food Aid Struggles to Adapt to Modern Crises
[…] Although awareness about malnutrition has increased in the last few decades, aid agencies still struggle to provide a balanced diet in poor, remote places, said several nutrition advisors for international charities. With U.N. figures showing wars, persecution and other violence have driven a record 68.5 million people from their homes, more people than ever are dependent on food aid – and for longer periods, making it critical for rations to be nutritious. In West Africa’s Sahel region, which includes northern Burkina Faso, climate change and conflict have kept people in displacement camps for years with no end in sight. Mali has been in crisis since 2012, while Nigeria has been battling the Boko Haram insurgency for a decade. “Historically, the concern has been about providing enough food in the context of emergencies, and this idea that an emergency is a short-term thing,” said Corinna Hawkes, director of the Centre for Food Policy at City University of London. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones