Africa Media Review for November 13, 2019

Will South Sudan Finally Be Able to Clinch Lasting Peace in 100 Days?
South Sudan’s president and its armed opposition leader have missed another 100-day deadline to form a power-sharing government, threatening a tenuous ceasefire that has paused years of bloodshed in the world’s youngest country. The warring camps were given another extension to join forces after a meeting brokered by regional leaders but whether another delay will bring peace remains to be seen. It’s not the first time President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, his former deputy, have faltered on a peace agreement since a power struggle between the two threw the country into war in 2013. Ceasefires failed, truces collapsed and the war raged on, killing hundreds of thousands and displacing millions more. The latest pact, signed in September 2018, brought a rare lull to fighting in parts of the country. But progress toward a more permanent peace has been glacial. AFP

How a Preacher Sent Gunmen into Burkina Faso’s Schools
When an Islamist preacher took up the fight in Burkina Faso’s northern borderlands almost a decade ago, his only weapon was a radio station. The words he spoke kindled the anger of a frustrated population, and helped turn their homes into a breeding ground for jihad. Residents of this parched region in the Sahel – a vast band of thorny scrub beneath the Sahara Desert – remember applauding Ibrahim “Malam” Dicko as he denounced his country’s Western-backed government and racketeering police over the airwaves. “We cheered,” said Adama Kone, a 32-year-old teacher from the town of Djibo near the frontier with Mali, who was one of those thrilled by Dicko’s words. “He understood our anger. He gave the Fulani youth a new confidence.” … The teacher Kone is one of many of Dicko’s former supporters who regret their earlier enthusiasm. “We handed them the microphones in our mosques,” he said. “By the time we realised what they were up to, it was too late.” He fled to Ouagadougou two years ago, after armed Islamists showed up at his school. More than 2,000 schools have closed due to the violence, the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF said in August. Reuters

Envoy: Angola on Right Path as It Celebrates Independence
There was little that used to come out of Angola except that it has been Africa’s second biggest oil producer with an estimated 1.4 million barrels of crude production per day. In its 44 years of independence, Angola has been stable and peaceful only since 2002, forcing it into a massive healing of war wounds; both economic and political. Now, Luanda says it is ready to play its role in Africa. “Angola had a very long time of struggle. Not only did we have foreign support but we also had support of African countries,” Mr Samuel Sianga Abílio, the Angolan ambassador to Kenya, told the Daily Nation last week. “That also gave us a vision of what Angola’s role would be, in the context of Africa. Being an African country, we need to defend the interests of each other as we did recently when Kenya filed its candidature for the UN Security seat. We supported the AU endorsement of Kenya,” added the diplomat, a chemical engineer who worked in his country’s oil industry for nearly three decades. Daily Nation

Gambia: ‘I Am Not a Witch’: Victims Testify on Ex-President’s Brutal Roundups
Matty Sanyang was at a baby naming ceremony when the soldiers arrived in Sintet, a farming town not far from the West African coast, pulled her neighbors from their homes and announced that the president had made a decision: The people of her village were witches, and they would need to be cured. Then, she said, the soldiers pushed her into a truck, stripped her naked and forced her to say she was a witch. “What they took,” said Ms. Sanyang, “was our dignity.” On Monday, a public national truth and reconciliation commission in Gambia began hearing testimony from citizens like Ms. Sanyang who say they were victims of what commission officials are calling “witch hunts” ordered by Yahya Jammeh, the former president who ruled for 22 years before fleeing abroad in 2017 with his fleet of luxury cars. The commission is designed to investigate atrocities perpetrated during his long reign. The New York Times

Why a Tiny African Country Is Taking the Rohingya’s Case to the World Court
Gambia, the smallest country in continental Africa, took an unprecedented step this week in the realm of international justice: It filed a lawsuit at the United Nations’ top court accusing Myanmar of genocide against Rohingya Muslims. The case at the International Court of Justice, which typically addresses disputes between states, raised eyebrows because Myanmar sits roughly 7,000 miles from Gambia, which lacks any tangible connection to the protracted crisis in Southeast Asia. But the story of why such a tiny player chose to tackle a distant conflict is personal. Abubacarr M. Tambadou, Gambia’s attorney general and justice minister, read a U.N. report last year that detailed how an army crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar had killed thousands of Rohingya in 2017 and driven more than 700,000 into neighboring Bangladesh. … Tambadou, who worked for years as a lawyer at the U.N. tribunal focused on the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, visited a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh in May 2018. The Washington Post

Amhara Ruling Party Backs Ethiopia PM’s ‘Controversial’ United Party Plan
The Amhara Democratic Party, ADP, the governing party in Ethiopia’s Amhara regional state has backed plans by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to reconstruct the ruling coalition into a united national party. Announcing the decision, a top regional official, Lelaku Alebel Addis wrote on Twitter: “Cognizant that it intertwines Ethiopianism with identity & [because] it is a means to implement a genuine federalism, the Central Committee of Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) decided to join the new multinational party & continue the struggle.” ADP’s move is seen as a major endorsement for Abiy’s plans which has met opposition from a number of activists and politico-security analysts. The idea of the proposed Ethiopia Prosperity Party, EPP, has been widely debated on social media but no official announcement has been made. Elections are scheduled for next year with the PM stressing that they will hold despite security concerns. Africa News

Gunshots at Protest Demanding Release of Nigeria’s #RevolutionNow Leader
Nigerian operatives fired live bullets to disperse protesters demanding the release of a journalist turned politician at a sit-in in the capital Abuja on Tuesday. Scores of protesters had gathered at the offices of the Department of State Services, DSS, demanding the release of Yele Sowore, publisher of the Sahara Reporters news website. A court in August allowed the state to hold Sowore for a 45-day period-half of the 90-day duration requested by the spy agency. He was arrested earlier in the month after he spearheaded a political protests dubbed “Revolution Now.” Officers of the DSS arrested him and detained him despite two court orders granting him bail. Africa News

UNHCR: Eastern DRC’s Forcibly Displaced Victims of Human Rights Violations
The U.N. refugee agency reports hundreds of thousands of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces are living in abject poverty and subject to mass human rights violations. A wave of brutal attacks by armed groups in North Kivu and Ituri provinces in June triggered the flight of some 300,000 people, mainly women and children from their homes. The U.N. refugee agency says these forcibly displaced people are living in dire conditions with host communities. UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch says the civilians are unprotected, subjected to extreme human rights violations on a daily basis and living in fear of death and destruction. “Five months on from the June attacks, killings, sexual violence and abductions persist amid continuing conflict,” Baloch said. “Many women and children are still living in precarious conditions, sleeping in the open or in the overcrowded public spaces, further exposing them to risks of harassment, assault or sexual exploitation.” VOA

Sudan’s Prosecutor Orders Arrest PCP Leader over 1989 Coup
Sudan’s prosecutor general has issued arrest warrants against those individuals involved in the Islamist coup d’etat that brought general al-Bashir to power thirty years ago, including the leader of a splinter group from al-Bashir’s party. Sudan’s Freedom and Change Forces (FFC) on Tuesday announced that the criminal prosecution continues its proceedings against the authors of the 30 June 1989 coup d’état, including leaders of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) which split from the National Congress Party (NCP) in 1999, ten years after the Islamist coup. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the Coordinator of the FFC Legal Committee Mohamed Hassan Arabi said that the Prosecutor Ahmed al-Nur al-Hala has asked the penitentiary authorities to hand over Omer al-Bashir, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Nafei Ali Nafei and Awad Ahmed Jazz.” All the four NCP leading members have been arrested since 11 April 2019. He further pointed to the issuance of arrest warrants against all the military who played a leading role in the coup. Sudan Tribune

Egypt Seeks to Parry Rights Criticism after Mass Arrests
Egypt has been trying to deflect criticism of its human rights record and prison conditions ahead of a U.N. review in Geneva on Wednesday that comes in the wake of thousands of new arrests. The crackdown, which rights activists say was the most intensive campaign of arrests for years, came after rare protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo and other cities in late September. More than 4,400 were detained, among them prominent activists, lawyers, academics and political figures, according to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. Around 3,000 are still being held under charges including using social media to spread false news, joining a banned terrorist group, and protesting without a permit, ECRF said. … The U.N. Human Rights Council will be reviewing Egypt’s record for the first time in five years, as part of the forum’s regular appraisal of all U.N. member states. Reuters

AU Agency Unveils New Policies
The Africa Union insurance agency, African Risk Capacity (ARC), has rolled out country-specific products to cater for the needs of individual member states. The products will cover tropical cyclones, disease outbreaks, epidemics and flooding, broadening the ARC scope from the traditional insurance against droughts. ARC made the announcement at a workshop for the East and Southern Africa (ESA) in Zimbabwe, held on October 30 and 31. Since 2014 32, policies have been signed by member states, with $73 million paid in premiums for a cumulative insurance coverage of $553 million for the protection of 55 million vulnerable individuals in participating countries. The ESA region has recently borne the brunt of droughts, floods, tropical cyclones, disease outbreaks and epidemics, with the worst being Cyclone Idai that hit Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe in March. The East African

Russia Wants End to Embargo on CAR Diamonds
Russia backs lifting an embargo on diamond exports from the Central African Republic, the deputy finance minister said Tuesday as Moscow was preparing to chair a global scheme regulating the gem trade. Russia has made moves to strengthen its influence in the poor but strategic CAR in recent months, sending military instructors to the country and receiving mining concessions as part of a plan to boost its presence in Africa. Next year Moscow will be chair of the Kimberley Process, a global scheme established in 2003 to eliminate the so-called “blood diamonds” produced in rebel-controlled areas. It currently upholds an embargo for rough diamond exports from some regions of the CAR. But Russian deputy finance minister Alexei Moiseyev said the system was not working and told RIA Novosti news agency that exports from all regions of the CAR “should be made legal.” … Russian company Lobaye Invest, which reportedly has ties to an ally of President Vladimir Putin, recently received a licence to mine for diamonds at several sites in the CAR. AFP

Huawei’s Claims That It Makes Cities Safer Mostly Look like Hype
A report on the Safe City initiative published earlier this month by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., research organization, found a big gap between what Huawei says in its marketing and promotional materials and the reality on the ground. While Huawei’s website says the technology is deployed in 230 cities in 90 countries, CSIS was able to verify only 73 locales in 52 countries. The company’s statements about improved public safety also appear overly rosy. The report doesn’t cite the Pakistan data, but in Kenya, it says, crime hasn’t fallen as much as Huawei says on its website. The company boasts a decline of 46% in 2015 from the previous year in Kenyan areas that installed its Safe City systems. Yet police statistics in one of the cities, Mombasa, showed a slight increase during 2015, and the decrease in Nairobi was far less than the figure Huawei provided, according to the report. Bloomberg

Kenya Is Stepping Up Its Citizens’ Digital Security with a New EU-Inspired Data Protection Law
A new data protection law in Kenya is setting a high standard for the rest of the continent. As the country looks to engender more safeguards in the collection, handling and sharing of data, Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta has approved legislation which complies with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. The new law outlines restrictions on data handling and sharing by government and corporations. Any infringements of the new law will be investigated by an independent office with violators facing two-year prison sentences or fines of up to $29,000. The legislation comes amid increased calls for African governments to pay more attention to protection of data “to prevent governments and corporations from overstepping their boundaries by articulating the rights and freedoms of people in digital spaces.” The need is even more urgent given the rapid and ongoing adoption of mobile technology and digital apps. Quartz

Kenya Hosts International Conference on Population and Development
Kenya is hosting a United Nations-coordinated conference on population and development this week in Nairobi. Over 6,000 delegates from 160 nations, including heads of state, are attending the three-day forum to discuss reproductive health rights, ending gender-based violence, and sustainable development. The U.N.’s International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) opened Tuesday with repeated vows made at the first summit in Cairo, twenty-five years ago. … The summit aims to examine the progress made since a 1994 Program of Action drafted in Cairo. More than 150 countries signed on to the plan, which placed women’s empowerment, individual dignity and human rights, and the right to plan one’s family at the heart of development. VOA

Trace Banda stands outside the rangers’ camp carrying an M-16 assault rifle as she prepares for an anti-poaching training exercise inside the park. “This is not an easy job, it’s typical bush life. Only the strongest survive,” she said. Banda, 35, is a ranger and risks her life to save wildlife at Kasungu National Park. Situated in the district of Kasungu, home to about 55,000 people, it is the second-biggest national park in the country at 2,316sq km. It is known for its population of elephants but over the years, they have been threatened by poachers. The population dropped from more than 1,000 in the 1990s to about 50 in 2015. Currently, there are about 120 grey giants. Banda never thought she would become a field ranger. … A 2016 World Wildlife Fund survey of 570 rangers across 12 African countries including Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa found that just 19 percent were women. According to Malawi’s department of national parks and wildlife, since 2006 there has been an increase in women rangers. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones