Africa Media Review for October 26, 2021

Protesters Burn Tires, Block Roads in Sudan a Day after Coup
Pro-democracy protesters blocked roads in Sudan’s capital with makeshift barricades and burning tires Tuesday, a day after the military seized power in a swift coup widely denounced by the international community. The takeover came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and the pace of Sudan’s transition to democracy. It threated to derail that process, which has progressed in fits and starts since the overthrow of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising two years ago. The United Nations Security Council was to discuss the situation in a closed-door meeting later in the day. … Mariam al-Mahdi, the foreign minister in the government that the military dissolved, was defiant Tuesday, declaring that she and other members of Hamdok’s administration remained the legitimate authority in Sudan. “We are still in our positions. We reject such coup and such unconstitutional measures,” she told The Associated Press over the phone from her home in Khartoum. “We will continue our peaceful disobedience and resistance.” … The country and the world are now braced to see if more violence will unfold in the nation, which saw a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2019. Some protesters remained in the streets of Khartoum and its twin city of Omdurman on Tuesday morning, with many roads blocked. A bigger test of how the military will respond to the resistance could come Saturday when protesters plan a mass march to demand a return to civilian rule. Troops from the military and the feared Rapid Support Forces patrolled Khartoum neighborhoods overnight, chasing protesters. AP

International Community Condemns Apparent Military Coup in Sudan
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the “immediate” release of Sudan’s detained leaders following an apparent military coup. “There must be full respect for the constitutional charter to protect the hard-won political transition,” Guterres wrote on Twitter, referencing the landmark power-sharing agreement that Sudan’s military and civilian leaders signed in 2019 after months of deadly protests. … White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre … said … “We reject the actions by the military and call for the immediate release of the prime minister and others who have been placed under house arrest. The actions today are in stark opposition to the will of the Sudanese people and their aspirations for peace, liberty and justice,” she said. “The United States continues to strongly support the Sudanese people’s demand for a democratic transition in Sudan and will continue to evaluate how best to help the Sudanese people achieve this goal,” Jean-Pierre added. The Sudanese Professionals Association, a group consisting of trade unions, called on the public Monday to occupy the streets to protect the transitional government. The association was instrumental in organizing protests that led to the 2019 deal. Separately, the Arab League and Egypt echoed remarks calling for political agreements to be upheld, as did the African Union. VOA

African Union to Buy Up to 110 Million Moderna COVID-19 Vaccines -Officials
The African Union (AU) intends to buy up to 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc in an arrangement brokered in part by the White House, which will defer delivery of some doses intended for the United States to facilitate the deal, officials told Reuters. The AU’s doses will be delivered over the coming months, with 15 million arriving before the end of 2021, 35 million in the first quarter of next year and up to 60 million in the second quarter. “This is important as it allows us to increase the number of vaccines available immediately,” AU coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa said in an email. “We urge other vaccine producing countries to follow the lead of the (U.S. government) and give us similar access to buy this and other vaccines.” Masiyiwa said the Moderna purchase represented the first time the 55-member AU had secured vaccines that were not fully produced in Africa. The new shipments of vaccine are well below what Africa needs to vaccinate its 1.3 billion people, who have had far less access to the life-saving vaccines than more prosperous parts of the world. … The Biden administration is deferring delivery of 33 million doses it had bought from Moderna to give the AU its “spot in line” to make a purchase, according to Natalie Quillian, the White House’s deputy coordinator for COVID-19 response. Reuters

Egypt’s Leader Ends State of Emergency, Says It’s No Longer Needed
Egypt’s authoritarian president announced Monday that he had lifted a four-year-old state of emergency, undoing powers that had given the government sweeping authority to quash protests, detain dissidents and control everyday life in the most populous Arab country. The proclamation by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, coming amid global criticism of Egypt’s human rights abuses, theoretically ends a decree that had been renewed every three months since 2017. But critics called it a superficial change that would not fundamentally alter the repressive system that has prevailed in Egypt for most of the past 40 years. … While rights advocates cautiously welcomed the announcement, they warned that ending the state of emergency would not mean braking repression in Egypt, where thousands of dissidents are in detention, the press and social media are tightly controlled by the state, and public criticism and protests are all but nonexistent. The New York Times

Using Cape Town as a Launchpad, Russia Boasts of Supergiant Oil Fields in Antarctic Wilderness
As Antarctic Treaty nations release the new Paris Declaration, a brand-new climate manifesto, Daily Maverick can reveal this international investigation: Russia has combed the fragile Southern Ocean for oil and gas on a staggering scale after Antarctica’s mining ban formally entered into force more than two decades ago. A mammoth potential of 500 billion barrels in hydrocarbon “resources” — the building blocks for oil and gas — might be buried in supergiant oilfields beneath the Southern Ocean, the climate-threatened waters that wrap around Antarctica, according to Russian state entities. Claiming to have found “more than 1,000 fields and deposits, including major hydrocarbon and solid mineral deposits and fields” in other world regions, the state-owned exploration company published the announcement in English on its website as the Covid-19 pandemic swamped world headlines in February 2020. Despite an Antarctic mining ban that does not expire but may be changed from 2048, the company’s suggestions of the Southern Ocean’s mineral resource largesse produced only isolated reports in market media – and a quiet “flurry” of raised eyebrows in some diplomatic and academic circles, as one analyst put it. Daily Maverick

Mali Expels Envoy of West Africa’s 15-Nation Regional Bloc
Mali’s transitional government has ordered an envoy of the 15-nation West African regional bloc to leave the country within 72 hours because of actions “incompatible with his status.” The Economic Community of West African States, known as ECOWAS, is pressing Mali’s transitional leader Col. Assimi Goita, who seized power in a coup in August 2020, to respect his pledge to hold presidential and legislative elections in February 2022. The group threatens sanctions against Mali if elections are not held by that date. Goita’s government on Monday declared the ECOWAS special representative, Hamidou Boly, “persona non grata” and ordered him to leave the country, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statement said that while Boly has been ordered to leave Mali, the government is still open to dialogue with ECOWAS, which has condemned the 2020 coup and is encouraging the country to return to democratic, civilian rule. Mali’s government has not clearly explained the reasons for its decision against Boly, which comes a day after the United Nations Security Council mission visited Mali and also pressed for February 2022 elections. AP

Gunmen Kill 16 Worshippers in Nigeria Mosque Attack
Gunmen have killed 16 worshippers at a mosque in central Nigeria, a government official said Tuesday, in the latest violence in the restive region. Scores of gunmen on motorcycles stormed Maza-Kuka village in Mashegu district of Niger state on Monday and opened fire during morning prayers, said Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, the secretary to the government. “The bandits shot dead 16 people inside the mosque while they were praying,” Matane told AFP. Three worshippers were injured in the attack, one of them critically, he added. Matane said one other person was killed in nearby Kaboji village as the gunmen fled the area. “We are still investigating the motive of the attack and we have despatched military and police personnel to the area,” he said. A police spokesman confirmed the attack but did not provide details. Gangs of cattle thieves and kidnappers for ransom known locally as bandits have been terrorizing communities in northwest and central Nigeria where they raid villages, killing and burning homes after looting them. The Defense Post with AFP

Somalia Death Toll in Fighting between Army and Former Allied Group Rises to 120
Fighting in Somalia’s Galmudug state between the Somali army and its former ally, the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a militia, has killed 120 people over the past three days, a senior ASWJ official said on Monday. Analysts and residents have expressed fears that the fighting is derailing the former allies from their common effort to defeat the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgency. “At least 120 people died and 600 were injured from both sides,” Hassan Yare from ASWJ told Reuters on Monday, adding his group intended to fight until their “last man died.” … The clashes erupted on Saturday and continued until Monday in the central state’s second-largest district of Guriceel. The United Nations said in a statement the fighting has displaced at least 100,000 people. ASWJ, a group of moderate Sufi Muslims, has been at the forefront in the fight against Al Shabaab. ASWJ says the federal government has failed to end al Shabaab insurgency and that security is worsening in Galmudug state. The government accuses ASWJ of operating without its consent, a claim the armed group has not denied. Reuters

Nigeria Becomes First African Nation to Roll Out Digital Currency
The Central Bank of Nigeria joined a growing list of emerging markets betting on digital money to cut transaction costs and boost participation in the formal financial system. “Nigeria has become the first country in Africa, and one of the first in the world to introduce a digital currency to her citizens,” President Muhammadu Buhari said in a televised speech at the launch in Abuja, the capital. “The adoption of the central bank digital currency and its underlying technology, called blockchain, can increase Nigeria’s gross domestic product by $29 billion over the next 10 years.” The International Monetary Fund projects GDP for Africa’s largest economy to be $480 billion in 2021. The issuance of the digital currency, called the eNaira, comes after the central bank earlier in February outlawed banks and financial institutions from transacting or operating in cryptocurrencies as they posed a threat to the financial system. … Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, are national currency — unlike their crypto counterparts, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which are prized, in part, because they are not tied to fiat currency. The eNaira will complement the physical naira, which has weakened 5.6% this year despite the central bank’s efforts to stabilize the currency. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones