Africa Media Review for November 12, 2019

Mauritius PM’s Coalition Strengthens Parliament Grip after Vote

Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has won a comfortable majority in the country’s election, according to final results released by the electoral commission. Jugnauth’s coalition, the centre-right Morisian Alliance, won four more seats in the final allocation to hold 42 of 70 parliamentary seats following Thursday’s vote, the commission said late on Saturday. The result means that his alliance secured the outright majority needed to form government alone. “I have received a clear mandate,” for a five-year term, Jugnauth told supporters, adding that he would be prime minister for all Mauritians. While voters choose 62 MPs, the commission appoints eight others from those who attained the highest scores but were not elected directly. … Jugnauth’s victory has reinforced the legitimacy of a leader who took over from his father in 2017 without going through a vote. The prime minister had urged the country to judge him on his short time in office, talking up economic reforms. Al Jazeera

South Sudan: Waiting for a Unity Government

The eagerly anticipated unity government of South Sudan is not yet within reach. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have agreed to delay the forming of a power-sharing government for another 100 days. It is the second time the deadline has been pushed back – and citizens are getting worried. Kiir and Machar signed a peace agreement last September that requires all parties, including rebel groups, to become part of a unity government which was expected to be formed on Tuesday, November 12. The treaty was agreed upon under pressure from the United Nations, United States and regional governments. The main goal was to end a five-year civil war that has devastated the world’s youngest country. The creation of a unity government had already been delayed once in May this year. DW

Egypt: ‘Credible Evidence’ That ‘Brutal’ Prison Conditions Prompted Morsi’s Death, Thousands More at Risk

A group of independent UN human rights experts said on Friday that there was “credible evidence” that inadequate prison conditions in which former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was held may have led “directly” to his death in June, and thousands of other detainees may be at “severe risk.” “Dr. Morsi was held in conditions that can only be described as brutal, particularly during his five-year detentions in the Tora prison complex,” said Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, together with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. “Dr. Morsi’s death after enduring those conditions could amount to a State-sanctioned arbitrary killing,” they added in a press release. … Mr. Morsi, who took office as the first democratically-elected head of State in modern Egyptian history from 2012 to 2013 – before a military takeover – also “was denied life-saving and ongoing care for his diabetes and high blood pressure” while incarcerated, the group went on, and consequently, “he progressively lost the vision in his left eye, had recurrent diabetic comas and fainted repeatedly. From this, he suffered significant tooth decay and gum infections.” UN News

Guinea President Replaces Security Minister Following Deadly Protests

Guinea President Alpha Conde announced on Monday that he was replacing his security minister following deadly protests against suspected efforts by Conde to extend his mandate. Conde, 81, is due to step down next year when his second and final five-year term expires, but he has refused to rule out running again and asked his government in September to look into drafting a new constitution. Conde’s opponents fear a new constitution could be used as a reset button on his presidency, allowing Conde to run again like other African leaders who have amended or changed constitutions in recent years to stay in power. Protests in Conakry, the capital, and the bauxite-mining north against such a move have resulted in at least 13 deaths over the past month. The presidential statement read on national television on Monday evening did not provide a reason for the sacking of Security Minister Alpha Ibrahima Keira, but a senior government official told Reuters it was related to Keira’s “difficulty managing the socio-political crisis.” Reuters

Ethiopia Cabinet Approves Bill to Combat Fake News, Hate Speech

Ethiopia’s Council of Ministers over the weekend approved a bill drafted by the Attorney General to combat fake news and hate speech, the state-run Fana broadcasting corporate reports. The bill’s official name is the Computer Crime proclamation. Despite approval by the council, the bill will be sent to parliament, the House of Peoples’ Representatives (HoPR) for final approval. … The country is currently listed among global leaders in the area of internally displaced people. Ethiopia, as Africa’s second most populous nation, had a restrictive media space prior to April 2018 and the coming into office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Sticking by his reform promise, Abiy released hundreds of political prisoners, jailed press men and opened up the media landscape. Under his watch, media outlets previously banned were allowed to return and operate in the country. Social media has however been a blessing and headache for Abiy. His office has effectively used Twitter and Facebook to project work being done by government. Africa News

The Young Ethiopians Working for Peace

In a hotel dining room in the southern Ethiopian town of Bule Hora, a group of young Ethiopians pin drawings of trees to the wall. Each tree, they explain, represents one of them – some of them ethnic Gedeos, the rest Guji Oromos – and together they make up a forest, symbolising their multi-ethnic society. The group call themselves “peace ambassadors”, and they are leading the way in putting a fractured and traumatised society back together again. “The forest represents our unity,” says one, a murmur of assent rippling through the room. But fostering reconciliation and rebuilding peace, when memories of violence remain so fresh, will take more than well-meaning workshops. It is now more than a year since, according to official estimates, up to one million Gujis and Gedeos were left homeless after ethnic violence broke out. Reconciliation, despite the deep blood and cultural ties between the two communities, is proving a long and fraught process. The New Humanitarian

Uganda Police Confirm Arrest of 120 LGBT People

Ugandan police said Monday that in an operation around Kampala’s city center, they arrested 120 people suspected to have been using narcotics. However, members of the LGBT community say it was a health meeting that police interrupted. Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, tells VOA they received intelligence information that the site of the raid – The Ram Bar – is used as a massage parlor during day and for smoking opium and shisha during the night. … At the Central Police Station in Kampala, friends and members of the local LGBT community move around, seemingly worried. Among them is Sean Mugisha a paralegal who is trying to secure bail for the arrested members. Mugisha tells VOA that Ram Bar is the only safe place that the LGBT community has in Kampala. … “We don’t know what will happen next. I think we are still looking at the worst. I think it’s totally aimed at intimidation of the LGBT Community,” he said. VOA

DR Congo Forces Kill Leader of Splinter Hutu Armed Group

Congolese forces have killed a rebel leader and four of his bodyguards in a security operation in the restive east of the country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) army said. Troops killed Hutu rebel leader “Musabimana Juvenal, alias general Jean-Michel Africa… following an intense clash” on Saturday at Rutshuru in North Kivu province, a statement from the army seen by AFP news agency said. … Juvenal was a leader with the ethnic Hutu Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) formed in the DRC in the aftermath of the 1994 Tutsi genocide in neighbouring Rwanda. His killing comes barely two months after that of another FDLR commander, Sylvestre Mudacumura, in September. Mudacumura had been the subject of an international arrest warrant since 2012. … Elsewhere in the country, military sources told AFP news agency four civilians were killed late on Saturday in an attack by Ugandan rebels near the northeastern city of Beni. The sources said 25 rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group were killed over several days of clashes, with the army losing six soldiers. Al Jazeera

2 Ugandans Killed in Rwanda amid Border Tension

Uganda’s police said on Sunday that two Ugandans had been killed by Rwandan security forces in an incident that may escalate the border tension between the two East African countries. Elly Maate, police spokesman of Uganda’s Kigezi region, which borders Rwanda, said the victims had smuggled tobacco to Rwanda. “These two Ugandans were shot dead on November 9th at around 20:00 hours at Tabagwe village in Nyagatare district in Rwanda by Rwandan security forces on allegations that they were smuggling tobacco into Rwanda,” said Maate. He said Uganda’s border security officials were working to repatriate the bodies from Rwanda for burial. The political tension between the two countries climaxed in February when Rwanda closed its border and blocked all goods from Uganda. As a result of the closed border, communities near the border have resorted to smuggling. Last week, one Rwandan was killed and another injured by the Rwandan police after they crossed the border to buy food in Uganda. AP

Rwandan Opposition Leader Launches New Political Party

Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire announced Saturday she was launching a new political party, hoping it will be allowed to operate in a country where the ruling party has no real rival. Ingabire’s previous party FDU-Inkingi, which she founded while in exile in 2016, was not recognised by the government of long-ruling President Paul Kagame. She was imprisoned until receiving a presidential pardon last year from Kagame, whom she regularly accuses of suppressing freedom of speech, repressing the opposition and neglecting the country’s poor. “I am announcing the launch of a new opposition party,” Ingabire told AFP, saying it would be called Dalfa Umurunzi (Development And Liberty For All). … Although Rwanda is constitutionally a multi-party system there is practically no opposition, with most of the recognised parties supporting the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). AFP

East Africa Faces Debt Crisis as Borrowing Surpasses $100B Mark

A rapid build-up of loans has pushed East African countries close to a debt crisis, putting at risk the region’s long-term economic stability. Five East African Community member countries have together amassed more than $100 billion domestic and foreign debt, stretching their repayment budgets to the limit. Kenya and Burundi have the highest loan distress profiles relative to their EAC peers, with their debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratios projected to exceed 60 per cent this year. The International Monetary Fund considers a debt to GDP ratio of 50 per cent to be within the tolerable limit for developing economies such as the EAC members. “With several countries facing increased foreign exchange and refinancing risks, it is critical to enhance debt management frameworks and transparency,” warned the IMF in its latest Regional Economic Outlook report released a week ago. Kenya’s debt-to-GDP ratio is on course to hit 61.6 per cent at the end of this year from 60.1 per cent last year, while Burundi’s ratio is expected to climb to a high of 63.5 per cent from 58.4 per in 2018. The East African

Zimbabwe Begins Issuing New Notes to Help Ease Cash Crunch

Zimbabwean banks on Tuesday began issuing new notes and coins aimed at easing severe cash shortages, but they are severely limiting the amounts that people can withdraw. … The new notes are the latest currency reform in the troubled southern African country’s constantly changing, and at times confusing, monetary framework. Zimbabwe now has the world’s second highest inflation after Venezuela, according to International Monetary Fund figures. With prices rising faster than at any point in a decade amid rapid devaluation of the local currency, cash is king. … The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe says it will “drip feed” ZW$1 billion in the new small notes and coins to manage the cash shortages. The highest denomination is ZW$5. The notes are strikingly similar in design to the old ones. “It is just like the old money, and like the old money it can’t buy anything of value,” said 81-year-old Filbert Sibanda after withdrawing his monthly pension, enough to buy a kilogram of beef. AP

Gambia Files Rohingya Genocide Case against Myanmar at World Court – Justice Minister

Gambia has filed a case at the United Nations’ top court accusing Myanmar of committing genocide against its Rohingya Muslim minority, Gambian Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou said on Monday. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, is the United Nations’ top legal institution that rules on disputes between states. Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention, which not only prohibits states from committing genocide but also compels all signatory states to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. “We have just submitted our application to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention,” Tambadou told a news conference in The Hague, where the court is based. “The aim is to get Myanmar to account for its action against its own people: the Rohingya. It is a shame for our generation that we do nothing while genocide is unfolding right under our own eyes.” His tiny West African nation, which is predominantly Muslim, has filed its case with the support of the Organisation for Islamic Coooperation (OIC). Reuters

How Russia Meddles Abroad for Profit: Cash, Trolls and a Cult Leader

The Russians were hard to miss. They appeared suddenly last year in Madagascar’s traffic-snarled capital, carrying backpacks stuffed with cash and campaign swag decorated with the name of Madagascar’s president. It was one of Russia’s most overt attempts at election interference to date. Working from their headquarters in a resort hotel, the Russians published their own newspaper in the local language and hired students to write fawning articles about the president to help him win another term. Skirting electoral laws, they bought airtime on television stations and blanketed the country with billboards. They paid young people to attend rallies and journalists to cover them. They showed up with armed bodyguards at campaign offices to bribe challengers to drop out of the race to clear their candidate’s path. At Madagascar’s election commission, officials were alarmed. The New York Times

Africa’s Innovative Response to Internet Repression

From social media taxes and disruptive internet shutdowns, to divisive disinformation campaigns and overpriced mobile data rates, there is no shortage of problematic internet governance practices in Africa. Behind the headlines, however, there are a growing number of citizens pushing back. From community networks that help bridge the rural/urban connectivity divide in South Africa, to independent fact checking services in Ethiopia, people across the continent have been pushing for more innovative techniques and technologies to promote open, affordable and inclusive digital spaces. … In 2018, there were 13 nationwide internet shutdowns in Africa, according to the digital rights advocacy organisation, Access Now. This year, internet shutdowns have occurred in Sudan, Ethiopia, Algeria, Liberia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. As internet shutdowns become increasingly frequent, the number of organisations working to prevent them continues to rise. DW



Photo: Adam Jones