Africa Media Review for May 3, 2019

Sudan Protesters Flood to Capital for ‘Million-Strong’ Standoff as Tensions Rise
Sudanese demonstrators are expected to stage a “million-strong” march on Thursday to press for a civilian administration after talks with military rulers hit a snag. The two sides have agreed on forming a joint civilian-military council to run Sudan but are at odds over its composition. Protest leaders from the Alliance for Freedom and Change say the army is not serious about handing power to civilians, three weeks after it toppled autocratic president Omar al-Bashir. The army, which took over after Bashir’s ouster on April 11, has been pushing for a 10-member council including seven military representatives and three civilians. France 24

Sudan Army Rejects Civilian Majority in Ruling Council
A top official in Sudan’s military council has told the BBC it will not allow civilians a majority on the supreme council set to rule the country during a transitional period. Lt Gen Salah Abdelkhalek said that equal share of the membership would be an option they might consider. Protesters are continuing their mass sit-in outside military HQ to demand that the army cede control. President Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power on 11 April after 30 years. He was replaced by a military transitional council that promised to relinquish power to civilians within two years – a proposal rejected by protesters.  BBC

Sudan: What Future for the Country’s Islamists?
As members of Sudan’s Islamist Popular Congress party arrived for a meeting in Khartoum one Saturday afternoon, they were greeted by abuse from groups of young protesters and chants of “no to Islamists”. In the scuffles that followed, both sides threw stones. Dozens were injured and more than a hundred were arrested. “It happened just after we started the meeting,” said PCP member Qusai Abdalla, 38. “Some of the attackers came with fuel to burn everyone inside the hall, but we defended ourselves by throwing stones back at them. “I think some of them wanted us to die. And when we looked on social media, we found out there were people from the protest movement who were saying that the Islamists are holding meetings – go to them. There was clear incitement.”  The Guardian

Shots Fired as Post-Election Violence Grips Benin
Soldiers in Benin firing automatic rifles deployed in force against hundreds of protestors demonstrating against controversial parliamentary polls, with casualties reported in the violence, witnesses said Thursday. “They fired bursts of bullets,” said one witness, a close relative of former president Thomas Boni Yayi, who had led calls for a boycott of the ballot and whose house has become a focal point of protests. The witness claimed that three people were killed, and that other protesters had fled. There was no official confirmation of the toll. A video seen by AFP showed soldiers firing automatic rifles.  AFP

Uganda’s Pop Star Opposition MP Bobi Wine Freed on Bail
Ugandan pop star and opposition figure Bobi Wine has been freed on bail after spending three nights in a maximum-security prison. The politician, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, is charged with disobeying statutory authority. He faces trial over staging a street protest in July against a tax on social media. Prosecutors opposed his bail application on Thursday. The singer appeared via video link from prison in an apparent move by authorities to prevent a public appearance. Wine also faces treason charges for asking the youth to challenge the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni in the East African country and has hinted he may run for the presidency in 2021. Al Jazeera

Uganda Censors Target 39 for Reporting on Bobi Wine
The detention and subsequent release on bail of a popular musician in Uganda has led to the censure of 39 journalists at more than a dozen media outlets in that country. Singer Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was arrested on April 29 on charges of leading an illegal protest against a newly imposed tax on social media. Wine has been a frequent critic of current President Yoweri Museveni and has even hinted at making a run for the office himself.  Wine’s arrest was widely covered by Ugandan media. That lead the Ugandan Communications Commission to call for suspension the journalists, who were accused of airing “sensationalized programming.” In a letter to 13 media organizations, including popular outlets such as Capital FM and NBS-TV, the UCC demanded tapes of all live programming from April 29. VOA

South Sudan Adversaries Meet in Bid to Save Peace Deal
South Sudan’s rival parties began two days of talks in Addis Ababa on Thursday in a bid to salvage a peace deal, with just days left before a unity government is meant to be formed. President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar and a handful of other groups inked the peace deal in September 2018, the latest in a string of efforts to end a devastating conflict now in its sixth year. But the parties have failed to resolve several crunch issues before a power-sharing government is to be installed on May 12. Representatives of the parties gathered in Addis for a meeting called by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), a regional bloc for East Africa, holding prayers before going into a closed session. AFP

UN Experts: South Sudan Security Service Works outside Law
U.N. experts say South Sudan’s National Security Service has been operating outside the law and poses “a significant threat” to last September’s fragile peace agreement, including by allegedly killing two government critics and arresting others. The experts monitoring sanctions against South Sudan said “it is highly probable” that opposition member Aggrey Idri and human rights lawyer Dong Samuel Luak were kidnapped in Kenya where they had fled, taken to the capital of Juba, and slain Jan. 30 the on orders of Lt. Gen. Akol Koor Kuc, director of the service’s Internal Security Bureau. In a 111-page report to the Security Council circulated Thursday, the panel of experts also said youth activist Peter Biar Ajak was arrested on his arrival at Juba airport on July 28, 2018, and has since been detained “where he has had only intermittent access to lawyers and family.” The immediate release of political prisoners is a key provision of the peace agreement, the panel said.  AP

15 Killed in Nigeria’s Northwest State: Police
At least 15 civilians were killed when gunmen stormed two adjoining villages in Nigeria’s northwestern Katsina state, police said on Thursday. Gambo Isa, police spokesman in the region, said on Thursday that around 150 gunmen riding motorbikes attacked Gobirawa and Sha Ka Wuce communities, stealing their properties and setting their homes ablaze. “It is true that 15 people died in the attacks in the two communities while dozens of houses were torched,” Isa told Anadolu Agency. He said police personnel have been dispatched to the areas to restore normalcy while security agencies stepped up surveillance to prevent future attacks. Anadolu Agency

Britain, France, Germany Vie for Influence in Africa
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel are conducting separate visits to Africa this week, the latest in a flurry of visits by European leaders and officials as Western states look to expand their engagement on issues like trade, migration and security. Chancellor Merkel is visiting Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, and pledged more than $68 million to support police and security services. More than 1,000 German troops are deployed in West Africa as part of United Nations peacekeeping and European Union training missions to defeat Islamist terrorism. “We from the European side have to become faster with our commitment,” Merkel told reporters after meeting Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore Wednesday.  VOA

As Assault Grinds On, Tripoli Lawmakers Reject Offensive by UAE Ally
Lawmakers loyal to Libya’s U.N.-backed government on Thursday denounced an attack on Tripoli by an ally of the United Arab Emirates and defended their record in fighting terrorism, after the Gulf state said “extremist militias” ruled the capital. The lawmakers spoke at a meeting deliberately staged in the beleaguered city to challenge the official parliament based in Libya’s east, a body aligned to UAE ally Khalifa Haftar, in a move that further cements divisions in the oil-producing nation. Haftar is fighting to capture Tripoli from forces allied to Libya’s internationally recognised government, and an official of the Gulf state said on Thursday the priority in Libya was to counter “extremism/terrorism”. Reuters

Rage over South Africa Corruption Turns Off Voters
For many South African voters, the government’s struggle with corruption — which in the past five years has provoked numerous inquiries, dominated headlines, and even forced out former President Jacob Zuma — isn’t about the staggering scope of the problem, though a minister in the ruling African National Congress has estimated that corruption could be costing the economy nearly $2 billion every year. For student Mathabo Mokopane, all it took to turn her off the ANC-led government was a tiny road, in her tiny town in rural South Africa. “There was a contract that came to do the paving,” she told VOA recently, as she stood on the side of a rural highway, waiting for a lift into town.”And then, the [ward] councilor’s friends got the tender. And actually their papers were expired, while they still got the tender, while there were people who were supposed to get the tender.”  VOA

Economists Think South Africa’s Persistent Inequality Should Be Tackled with a Wealth Tax
It’s well-established that South Africa has one of the most unequal income distributions in the world. Despite significant efforts by the State to stimulate inclusive growth, the income gap between the rich and the poor has continued to widen in post-apartheid South Africa. A less explored topic is that of wealth inequality and, relatedly, the potential use of wealth taxation to reduce wealth inequality while also further diversifying the sources of much-needed government revenue. An important consequence of a highly unequal distribution of wealth in society is the undermining of social, political and economic norms. For instance, high wealth inequality creates an imbalance of political power between citizens as the wealthy can potentially influence the political process unfairly. This can, in turn, reduce the optimum workings of a democracy.  Quartz

Six Killed by Rebels in Eastern DR Congo
Armed rebels have attacked a village in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo killing six people, and there are fears that dozens of others were abducted. A Congolese military spokesman blamed Wednesday’s attack in Ituri Province’s Tshabi village on the Allied Democratic Front (ADF)—a rebel group that originated in Uganda. Congolese soldiers are reported to have fought the rebels for more than an hour. A spokesman said five of the attackers were killed and one soldier died. A traditional chief in the area says 30 people from the village are still missing and are feared to have been kidnapped by the rebels, who also looted 100 cattle.  BBC

World Press Freedom Day Events Raise Alarm on Fake News
A rising tide of fake news and disinformation is dominating World Press Freedom Day discussions taking place this week in Ethiopia, which is hosting the event after freeing jailed journalists as part of sweeping reforms. As the world prepares to mark the day on Friday, media practitioners and experts have raised the alarm and deliberated on ways to combat disinformation that they say is becoming a “threat to democracy.” The relationship between the press and democracy is the main theme this year, with more than 100 events taking place around the world. “In my country, Somalia, disinformation is so rampant to the extent that some candidates were falsely alleged to have died or withdrawn right before elections so that their competitors were given more chances of winning,” said Hussein Abdi Adam with Somalia’s electoral commission. “Everybody is using phones these days. And it’s becoming more difficult to deal with it as many of those engaged in this disinformation are based in various parts of the world.”  AP

Congolese Refugees Cross Illegally into Uganda, Raising Risk of Ebola – Aid Groups
People fleeing violence in an Ebola-hit region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are being forced to cross the border illegally into Uganda, risking the virus spreading into the neighboring East African nation, aid groups said on Friday. More than 60,000 people in Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Beni region in North Kivu province have left their homes since the latest wave of armed attacks began on March 30. While some have found legal refuge in Uganda, others are being used as human shields by armed groups who prevent them from reaching official border points to be registered, screened for Ebola and given sanctuary.  Reuters

Ebola Responders in Congo Confront Fake News and Social Media Chatter
[…] Amid the scramble to contain the outbreak, social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp have provided a platform for all types of messages – true or otherwise. “We are monitoring social media because that’s where most rumours are spreading,” Jessica Ilunga, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Health, told The New Humanitarian. “We use that monitoring to adapt our messaging in the field and on local radio. We are working on setting up a special team just to monitor and create content adapted to social media.” A study published in The Lancet in March found that people had been bombarded by misinformation. Sampling some 961 adults between 1 September and 16 September last year in the towns of Beni and Butembo, some 86 percent, said they’d heard Ebola didn’t exist. About one in four, or 230 people, said they didn’t believe it existed. Similarly, some 86 percent had heard the disease was being used to destablise the area, while more than one in three believed that to be true. The New Humanitarian

 



Photo: Adam Jones