Africa Media Review for October 6, 2020

Sudan Peace Deal Prompts Praise, Protests
Saturday’s peace deal between Sudan’s government and various rebel groups is drawing both praise and protests from the people most directly impacted by the accord. Several Sudanese who attended a signing ceremony in Juba said the agreement marks a new beginning for the marginalized people of Sudan’s South Kordofan, Darfur and Blue Nile states. … Not all Sudanese were pleased with the agreement. Hundreds of internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps in the western region of Darfur staged a peaceful protest while the event was happening on Saturday, chanting “no, no for Juba peace.” In the Hujaj IDP camp in al-Genena town, IDP representative Mariam Adam Hussein called the signed agreement a “half peace deal.” … General Abdulfatah Al Burhan, who heads Sudan’s sovereign council, told the crowd in Juba that many Sudanese lost their loved ones in order to have lasting peace in their country and urged the holdout groups to join the peace process. VOA

Sudan Peace Talks with SPLM-N El Hilu to Resume This Month
The US Special Envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth, met with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok in Khartoum on Monday. The peace talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) will resume in the third week of October. In Juba, Lt Gen Mohamed Hemeti, said that the overall peace agreement signed with the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance will definitely be implemented. During his meeting with Hamdok, the US envoy emphasized the keenness of the USA and the Sudan Troika (USA, UK, and Norway) to support the completion of the peace process through separate negotiations with the holdout SPLM-N El Hilu, and the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdelwahid El Nur. Booth pledged they will stand by Sudan’s transitional government during the implementation of the peace agreement on the ground. Radio Dabanga

Military Appointed to Key Posts in Mali’s Interim Govt
A transition government tasked with leading Mali back to civilian rule was appointed on Monday, with numerous members of the military junta that seized power in a coup occupying key posts. … At least four central cabinet posts – defence, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation – went to colonels in the army, according to a decree read live on state television by the president’s secretary-general Sekou Traore. One of the junta’s leaders, Colonel Sadio Camara, becomes defence minister, while Colonel Modibo Kone gets the security and civil protection portfolio. Junta spokesman Colonel Ismael Wague, who broke the news of the coup in a dramatic night-time television broadcast, will become national reconciliation minister. AFP

Mali’s Transitional Govt Should Honour Commitment to ECOWAS — U.S.
The U.S. has urged the transitional government in Mali to honour its commitments to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Spokesperson for the department, Morgan Ortagus, made the call in a statement made available on the African Regional Media Hub. The commitment includes holding a democratic election within 18 months. Ms Ortagus said that the U.S. viewed the Republic of Mali’s establishment of a transitional government “as an initial step towards a return to constitutional order.” “It will be important for the transitional government to fulfill its pledges to the Malian people. “To strengthen governance, combat corruption, reform electoral processes and implement the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.” The U.S. called on the government to respect human fights and take concrete steps to prevent the violation of such rights by state security forces. NAN

UN Chief Urges Libya Cease-Fire, Warns Its Future at Stake
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged world powers and others with interests in Libya’s long-running civil war to stop sending arms to its rival governments and keep working toward a lasting cease-fire, warning that the country’s very future “is at stake.” Guterres implored those at a virtual ministerial meeting co-hosted by the U.N. and Germany to support peace efforts “not only in words but in actions,” including immediately backing a widely violated U.N. arms embargo against Libya. … Germany, which has been trying to act as an intermediary, said the virtual meeting was a chance to review what’s been achieved since Berlin hosted a summit on Libya in January at which participants from both sides agreed to respect an arms embargo and push Libya’s warring parties to reach a full cease-fire. That agreement has been repeatedly violated. … “There was broad agreement that repeated violations of the United Nations arms embargo had to stop immediately,” the co-chairs said. AP

Turkey and Russia’s Deepening Roles in Libya Complicate Peace Efforts
Plans for a durable Libyan ceasefire are to be endorsed by diplomats from 15 countries on Monday, but the value of the commitments made in the virtual meeting are belied by signs that deepening involvement in the country by rival external powers including Russia and Turkey could complicate efforts to form an interim government of national unity. The Libya conflict has to be seen as not only a long-running power struggle in the country itself but also part of a wider geopolitical dispute in which Turkey’s assertive foreign policy – ranging from the eastern Mediterranean to Azerbaijan – is an increasing factor. … At the same time, Russian-backed mercenaries in the Wagner group supporting rival forces in the east of the country have moved to strengthen their military positions. The Guardian

Hopes Fade for New Political Course in Algeria a Year after Popular Uprising
In a Moorish-style palace on the Algerian capital’s airy heights, the nation’s president proclaimed a new day for his country, saying it was now “free and democratic.” The old, corrupt system — in which he had spent his entire career — was gone, he insisted. “We’re building a new model here,” said President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, 75, chain-smoking a pack of cigarettes in an hourslong interview surrounded by aides in his sumptuous office last month. “I’ve decided to go very far in creating a new politics and a new economy.” But old habits die hard in this North African country, which has known nearly 60 years of repression, military meddling, rigged elections and very little democracy. On the streets below Mr. Tebboune’s office, Algeria’s old realities are reasserting themselves. … “We are moving backward fast,” said Mohcine Belabbas, an opposition politician who played a major role in the uprising. The New York Times

Hundreds Take to Algiers Streets despite Ban on Protests
Hundreds of demonstrators have marched in the Algerian capital, Algiers, to mark the 32nd anniversary of a pro-democracy movement and renew calls for political change. The rally on Monday came just two days before the beginning of campaigning for a November 1 referendum on a new constitution that President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has insisted will usher in a new for the North African country. … Still, some 400 to 500 demonstrators on Monday tried to march to central Algiers but were dispersed by police who made a number of arrests, according to local media reports. Protests also took place in several other areas of Algeria, with demonstrators chanting: “The people want the fall of the regime” and “Yes to a civil state, no to a military state,” according to a prisoners support committee called the CNLD and videos posted on social media. Al Jazeera

Morocco Says It Arrested Four IS-Linked Jihadist Suspects
Morocco on Monday arrested four suspects allegedly linked to the Islamic State (IS) group who were plotting “dangerous and imminent terrorist” attacks, the judicial police said. The four Moroccan men, all in their 20s, were detained in the northern city of Tangiers during a raid in which police fired warning shots, the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) said in a statement. They were planning to “destabilize security in the kingdom… through terrorist methods inspired by operations” carried out by IS jihadists in Syria and Iraq, the statement added. Bladed weapons and electronic equipment were also seized, it said. In September, authorities said they had dismantled an IS-linked cell and arrested five men accused of preparing suicide attacks against prominent figures and a security headquarters in Morocco. The Defense Post with AFP

Ethiopia Bans Flights over Huge Dam ‘for Security Reasons’
Ethiopia has banned all flights over an enormous dam it is constructing on the Blue Nile River for security reasons. the head of its civil aviation authority has said, as the country’s president said the project would start generating power in the coming 12 months. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in a bitter dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which remains unresolved although the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July. … In a speech to Parliament later on Monday, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde said: “This year will be a year where the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will start generating power with the two turbines.” She also said work was under way to enable a second filling of the giant hydropower dam within the next 12 months. Al Jazeera

South Sudan Sees Pre-War Oil Output Unlikely as Wells Decline
South Sudan faces difficulty in reaching more than 300,000 barrels a day of oil production it once pumped, due to declining fields, according to an official. With current production sustained at about 165,000 barrels a day, the government has downgraded expectations of returning to record output before a civil war broke out in 2013. It’s now focused on a planned licensing round to bring in new investment. “It is not easy for us to go back” to previous levels because of geological challenges, said Awow Daniel Chuang, undersecretary in the ministry of petroleum. “We understand there is a natural decline, this oil reserve is limited.” The country has called for an environmental audit to investigate pollution that happened amid the war that claimed more than 400,000 lives and crushed the economy. The contamination is suspected to be linked to the increasing number of infants born with deformities in crude-producing regions. Bloomberg

Conflict, Coronavirus Pandemic Threaten Refugee Protection
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi warns the coronavirus pandemic poses unparalleled challenges and threats to refugee protection at a time when conflicts are flaring up in many parts of the world. The high commissioner was speaking at the opening of the agency’s annual executive committee meeting in Geneva. The conference is opening in the midst of a pandemic that has infected more than 35 million people and killed more than one million. UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said so far, major outbreaks in large refugee settings have been prevented. But he notes the risk of contagion is huge. He said everyone must remain vigilant, especially as the pandemic has not stopped wars, pushing the number of forcibly displaced to nearly 80 million. He said the Central Sahel region in Africa is one of the most worrying political and humanitarian crises in the world. … He [also cited] new conflict-driven displacements in hot spots such as Mozambique… VOA

Nigeria: Movie Inspired by Premium Times Investigation Launches on Netflix
‘Oloture,’ a Nigerian film inspired by a 2014 trafficking investigation by Premium Times has received rave reviews. The film is currently trending on Netflix in Nigeria, Morocco, Ukraine, France, Portugal and South Africa. … The film premiered on Netflix on Friday. The Premium Times article, which was titled ‘Inside Nigeria’s Ruthless Human Trafficking Mafia’, was written by investigative reporter, Tobore Ovuorie. It was published on August 12, 2014. Ms Ovuorie was motivated by years of research into the plight of trafficked women in the country, as well as the loss of a friend, to go undercover in a multi-billion dollar criminal enterprise. … Directed by Kenneth Gyang, ‘Oloture’ follows the story of a journalist who goes undercover as a prostitute to expose human trafficking but she only finds a world of exploited women and ruthless violence. The film, which shows how sex workers are recruited and exploited overseas, was written by Craig Freimond and Yinka Ogun. Premium Times

South Africa: Testing Sewage: The COVID Canary in Our Wastewater
Dr. Awelani Mutshembele is a microbiologist and an intramural postdoctoral fellow at the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) although she usually works with the Tuberculosis (TB) Platform. For the past few weeks, she and her team have been testing samples from sewage-treatment facilities across Tshwane. The team is looking for traces of SARS-CoV-2, as part of their wastewater-based epidemiology, which is a way of monitoring the spread of diseases or chemicals through their presence in sewage. “The importance of the work is, once the trend has gone down, you expect to have a continuously low level, which is then our new normal,” says Professor Martie van der Walt, the director of the SAMRC’s TB Platform, who is running the Tshwane wastewater-based epidemiology programme. “Then, when you suddenly see a peak, you know that this may be a hotspot and there may be a mini outbreak happening in that specific area.” Testing sewage is an alternative to testing patients directly. Mail & Guardian

The Daily Battle of Rural Nurses on South Africa’s COVID-19 Frontline
South African nurse Ruth Seikaneng did not have time to mourn her colleague Dudu, who died from COVID-19 in one quick, painful week in July. In the town of Reivilo in the country’s North West Province where Seikaneng works, patients were waiting for a diagnosis, personal protective equipment (PPE) had to be ordered, and a full week of 12-hour shifts lay ahead. “We miss Dudu. That loss, it was so bad. But we had to come straight back to work to make sure no one else got sick,” Seikaneng said between consultations. Seikaneng, 64, is one of 11 nurses in the town about 500 km (310 miles) west of the country’s biggest city, Johannesburg, fighting the spread of the coronavirus in a nation with the highest numbers of confirmed cases on the continent. … “We’re doing the best we can with the little we have,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from an office in Reivilo Health Centre where she works. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones