Africa Media Review for September 12, 2019

Sudan’s Government, Rebels Agree on Roadmap for Peace

Sudan’s newly appointed government and rebel leaders agreed Wednesday on a roadmap aimed at ending war in the country by year end, following the military’s ouster of autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April. The two sides signed an initial deal after three days of negotiations in Juba, capital of neighboring South Sudan. Sudan has been convulsed by rebellions in its far-flung provinces for decades, resulting in tens of thousands of people being killed. Fighting in the western Darfur province has largely died down in recent years, but rebels and bandits are still active there as well as in the southern provinces of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. … The power-sharing agreement between the military and the pro-democracy movement calls for the new government to make peace with rebel groups within six months. Talks are supposed to begin Oct. 14, with the goal of reaching a final peace deal within two months, according to the initial agreement, a copy of which obtained by The Associated Press. AP

South Sudan Rivals Back Deadline for Unity Government

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to form a transitional government by the middle of November as originally planned, an official said on Wednesday. The two men signed a pact a year ago to end a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced one-third of the population, and wrecked the economy. Machar’s rare visit to the capital Juba – the first this year – comes before a November deadline to form a power-sharing administration, a key part of the deal agreed on by the rivals to end the ruinous conflict. … The implementation of the accord had been delayed by several disputes. A key provision of the peace deal was the integration of former rebels into the army, which has still not occurred. “I told you earlier on that talks between us are going well, and we will reach a deal soon,” Kiir said after the meeting, exchanging handshakes with Machar. Al Jazeera

Nigerian Tribunal Upholds President Buhari’s Reelection

In upholding Buhari’s election victory, the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal ruled that Buhari’s main challenger in the presidential race, Atiku Abubakar had failed to prove allegations of electoral fraud sufficiently. The tribunal rejected all three of Atiku’s claims: that the election was marred by irregularities, that he received more votes than Buhari and that the president did not have a secondary school certificate, a basic requirement to contest the election. “This petition is hereby dismissed in its entirety,” Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba said in announcing the ruling. The five-member panel of justices found that Buhari did have the level of education to contest a presidential election. … The ruling is a significant blow to Atiku’s argument that he had secured the highest number of votes based on the results in the central computer server of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). In disputes over presidential elections in Nigeria, losers have a right to approach the highest court, the Supreme Court. Atiku is widely expected to appeal the tribunal’s ruling. DW

Nigeria Gives Condition to Reopen Borders with Neighbours

Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), says Nigeria’s borders will remain closed until the country and its neighbours agree on existing ECOWAS protocol on movement. … When asked about the consequences of closing the borders, he said “if you check our website, you will see the seizures and interception we’ve made”. He said that by closing the borders, Nigeria was able to completely block the importation of contraband. … The customs boss who was at the border to inspect the on-going Operation Border Drill, said: “This is the first time the entire military and paramilitary come together to ensure security and wellbeing of Nigerians, as well as stop human trafficking.” … Nigeria has shut its borders with its immediate neighbours, Benin Republic to the South and Niger to the north, for about a month. Arguably the most affected is Seme border, which borders Lagos with Benin Republic and through which a large volume of imported materials, legal and illegal, arrive in Nigeria. Premium Times

Somali Army Kills 8 Al-Shabab Militants in Southern Regions

Eight al-Shabab fighters were killed on Tuesday night during a fierce counteroffensive with Somali government forces in Garbaharey town in the southern region of Gedo, a military official said on Wednesday. Osman Abdi Qorah from Somali National Army (SNA)’s unit 10 told journalists that members of al-Shabab extremists launched an attack on a base used by Somali army in Garbaharey, but the forces repulsed them foiling their attempt to overrun the base. “There was a fierce fight that lasted for hours, but our forces defeated the militants killing 8 of them, including their commander in the area named Mohamed Dhere,”the military official said. Qorah confirmed that a government soldier was injuried during the fight. Locals reported a fierce fight broke out in the town. Xinhua

IS ‘Militants’ Arrested in Ethiopia

Ethiopia says it has arrested alleged members of the Islamic State group in several towns close to its borders with Somalia and Kenya. The group has a presence in Somalia but this is the first time its alleged members have been found in Ethiopia. Most of those arrested are foreign nationals, from Syria and Yemen. An army official, Colonel Tesfaye Ayalew, told the BBC that Ethiopians were also among those arrested. Col Tesfaye said Ethiopia’s strong intelligence network and its good relationship with neighbouring Somalia led to the successful arrest of the militants. Last month, IS announced that for the first time it was producing audio and video content in Amharic, which is Ethiopia’s official language. Analysts said that this was a clear indication that the jihadists had a network within the country. BBC

Niger, Mali to Set Up Inter-governmental Security Committee

Niger and Mali, two terrorism-stricken nations, have agreed to set up an inter-governmental cross-border security committee to pool efforts to fight the terrorism scourge. The decision was made Tuesday at talks in Bamako between Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, and visiting President of Niger Issoufou Mahamadou. The purpose of setting up the committee is to better fight terrorism, the two heads of state said, vowing to end insecurity and terrorism in the region. According to the two heads of state, the eradication of terrorism in the Sahel-Saharan region requires the strengthening of bilateral and multilateral mechanisms. The two presidents are counting heavily on the extraordinary ECOWAS summit, scheduled for September 14 in Ouagadougou, to set up new measures favoring enhanced cooperation between states but also greater support from the international community. North Africa Post

Detained Mogul’s Presidential Run Tests Tunisia’s Democracy

Media magnate Nabil Karoui’s run for president was testing the rules of Tunisia’s young democracy even before he was put in custody last month charged with tax fraud and money laundering. As his unlicensed news channel broadcasts footage of him doling out aid to the poor, Karoui, 56, is campaigning from behind bars, denying accusations he attributes to political chicanery. With Tunisia holding only its third free vote since its 2011 revolution, Karoui’s candidacy has raised questions over what role money and the media should play, and brought accusations that the government is interfering with the judicial process. If he beats the 25 other candidates to the presidency, but is then convicted and barred from office, it could prompt outrage among his voters – and a political crisis in Tunisia. However, with the first round of voting this Sunday, and a second round due in October or November, no date has yet been set for a verdict that would declare him guilty or innocent, though a lesser hearing on Friday may release him for now. Reuters

The Central African Republic Faces a Syria-Sized Crisis

According to the United Nations, the number of people in the Central African Republic (CAR) who rely on aid to survive rose to 2.9 million in 2019 from 2.5 million the previous year. That’s around two-thirds of the country’s population. But aid agencies on the ground say they have received less than half of what they need to help those most at risk. This African crisis is on a par with those in Yemen and Syria but gets much less attention than either — perhaps because CAR, a landlocked country of abject poverty and endemic violence, has never seemed as geopolitically significant as those other cases. After a visit to CAR this month, the UN’s Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller said the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. “Spikes of violence in areas of the country that were not previously affected by the conflict are creating new displacement and humanitarian needs,” she said. CNN

South Africa: Premier Alan Winde Requests SANDF Deployment Extension in Western Cape – but with Conditions

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has requested an extension of the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in gang-infested communities in the province. Wind said a request to this effect had been sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Defence Minister Nosiviwe-Mapisa Nqakula. He said the army deployment should be extended on the condition that certain shortcomings of the original deployment be urgently addressed to improve the results that have been recorded so far. “The SANDF has played a key role in Operation Lockdown so far, particularly in providing support to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies, however, we have seen very little in the way of a decrease in violent crime,” said Winde. He said it was clear that the SAPS did not have the resources to do this alone, and there was still a massive hill to climb before gang violence was contained Winde requested that the army continue its deployment in the Western Cape for a further period of at least six months to reach a point of stabilisation. Times Live

Liberia Chiefs Call for Action over Economic Crimes

More than 300 chiefs representing Liberia’s rural and traditional bloc have called on the president to set up a war and economic crimes court as part of measures to fight impunity that has impeded the growth of Africa’s oldest independent republic. The representative chiefs are powerful and particularly influential in political decision-making and voting processes in the rural belts In their statement, released at the close of a week-long gathering in the capital, the chiefs expressed disappointment over the government’s handling of millions of U.S. dollars since George Weah assumed the presidency. This includes $104 million in newly-minted local banknotes and $25 million withdrawn from the Federal Reserve accounts for infusion into the economy to strengthen the local currency. The government has so far failed to properly account for those funds, the group said. AP

Kenyans Who Claim UK Drove Them from Their Land Seek UN Inquiry

Thousands of Kenyans who say they were driven from their homes and abused under British colonial rule and subsequently faced hardship and poverty have called on the UN to launch an investigation into their treatment. British and Kenyan lawyers submitted a complaint to the UN special rapporteur on the promotion of justice, Fabián Salvioli, on behalf of more than 115,000 people originally from Kericho county, who claim they were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands by the British army. The victims say they were moved by the army, under instructions from the colonial administration, from their fertile lands to arid and disease-prone “native reserves” with no compensation. … There have been numerous attempts to pursue colonial-era injustices through the British courts, several involving the period of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. In 2013, the UK government agreed to pay out £20m in compensation to more than 5,000 elderly Kenyans who were tortured and abused during the uprising in the 1950s. The Guardian

Chinese Airport Project in Angola Hit by Delays, Corruption

An airport project in Luanda, the capital of Angola, Africa, represents one of the many frustrations of locals with China’s presence, since the Chinese company that managed and funded the project has come under scrutiny for its past misdealings. The firm, known as China International Fund (CIF), led a consortium of Chinese companies, in conjunction with Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht, to build the international airport, which was designed with 12 gates for airliners, to accommodate 13 million travelers annually. Construction, which began in 2004, was expected to be completed by 2017. The airport was billed by the Angolan government to be a major hub for sub-Saharan Africa, and a rival to South Africa’s O.R. Tambo International Airport, near Johannesburg, which saw 21.3 million passengers last year. Construction delays and an outdated design eventually forced the Angolan government under President João Lourenço-who took office in 2017 after being handpicked by his predecessor José Eduardo dos Santos-to cancel the contract with CIF in February this year, citing nonperformance. The Epoch Times

‘I Had to Help’: One Woman’s Fight to Aid Victims of Violence in Northeast Nigeria

The insurgency in northeastern Nigeria by criminal gangs and Boko Haram over the past 10 years has instilled fear and insecurity, creating an unbalance among civilians in the region. Aisha Waziri Umar, originally from Borno state in the region, had a successful career, but felt she had to help. She created the Inara Foundation to assist victims of violence in the region. RFI English caught up with Waziri, who was in the UK to speak on women entrepreneurs at the Centre for African Research on Enterprise and Economic Development conference. Waziri is from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the city considered the centre of the Boko Haram insurgency. Although educated outside of the state and in the UK, eventually becoming a lawyer, the news coming out of her hometown was upsetting and distracting. … It became impossible to focus on her law practice so Waziri decided to open a non-profit organization, the Inara Foundation, that focuses on helping victims of violence in northeast Nigeria. Headquartered in Abuja, the Inara Foundation helps those in need in Borno, Adamwa, and Yobe States. RFI

How Urbanisation Displaces Lagos’ Fishing Families

Urbanisation is often considered from a western perspective, with young professionals crammed into megacities, living in pods in ever-taller skyscrapers made from sustainable materials. But it is Africa that will drive global population growth over the next 30 years – and how urbanisation affects people there now informs how the greatest chunk of humanity will live in 2050. The story of Ms Huntontor’s family of Egun fishermen, like that of many of the urban poor in Lagos and megacities across the continent, is one of displacement. The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is set to double to more than 2bn by 2050. The continent is already 43 per cent urban, a figure that is set to soar as young jobseekers migrate to the cities that are the continent’s economic engines. In Nigeria, the average age is about 18 and more than 40 per cent of people are under 14. … Urbanisation is accompanied by real estate speculation, as booming populations crowd into limited land and developers force out often non-paying informal tenants to chase bigger potential profits. FT



Photo: Adam Jones