Africa Media Review for September 13, 2019

Sudanese on the Streets, Call for New Judicial Appointments
Thousands of Sudanese rallied in the capital Khartoum on Thursday in the largest protest since the country’s transitional government was announced, demanding the chief of the judiciary and general prosecutor be removed because of alleged ties to ousted autocratic former president Omar al-Bashir. Sudan’s Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change, the umbrella coalition representing different pro-democracy parties and groups, called for a “million-man march” to pressure the joint civilian-military Sovereign Council – formed last month as part of a power-sharing deal between protesters and the generals – to appoint judges known for their competence as well as political impartiality. The generals had previously dismissed nominations put forward by pro-democracy protesters for Sudan’s two top judicial posts. “Judicial and legal reforms should be a top priority during the transitional period; however, we have seen inaction on the part of sovereign council to appoint a new head of the judiciary and a new general prosecutor,” Ahmed Rabie, a leader of the Sudanese Professionals’ Association, said. The group has spearheaded protests since al-Bashir was still in power. AP

Four Things to Know about Tunisia’s Presidential Election
Tunisians head to the polls on September 15 to elect a new president in the second such vote since the 2011 revolution. … Analysts say the large pool of high-profile candidates makes it difficult to predict the outcome. … The latest pre-election surveys have shown jailed media magnate Nabil Karoui with a narrow lead over his rivals. The owner of Nessma TV, one of the country’s most popular television stations, was arrested in late August on money laundering and tax evasion charges. … Tunisia’s economy has struggled to recover since the 2011 revolution, in which longtime ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was removed amid massive popular street protests. … Following Ben Ali’s overthrow in 2011, Tunisia opted for a parliamentary system. The presidency was relegated to a secondary role, leaving it in charge of foreign policy, defence and national security. … Tunisia does not have a constitutional court. The body was due to be formed within a year of the country’s adoption of its 2014 constitution but disagreements over its composition have stood in the way of its creation. Al Jazeera

UN Calls for Libya Cease-Fire, Says No Military Solution
The U.N. Security Council stepped up its call for a lasting cease-fire in Libya on Thursday, saying there can be no military solution to the fighting sparked by a rebel commander’s offensive launched five months ago to take control of the capital, Tripoli. A resolution adopted unanimously by the council extends the mandate of the U.N. political mission in Libya until Sept. 15, 2020, and calls on countries with influence on the parties to use it to bring about a cease-fire and restart a U.N.-facilitated political process. A civil war in Libya in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. In the chaos that followed, the country was divided, with a weak U.N.-supported administration in Tripoli overseeing the country’s west and a rival government in the east aligned with the self-styled Libyan National Army led by Gen. Khalifa Hifter. AP

UN Eases Arms Embargo on Central African Republic
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to ease the arms embargo on the Central African Republic, where the government signed a peace deal with 14 armed groups. The French-drafted resolution said there is an “urgent need for the CAR authorities to train and equip their defense and security forces to be able to respond proportionately to threats to the security of all citizens.” Conditions for easing the embargo include limits on the caliber of the weapons security forces can have and banning the sale or transfer of the weapons. In her first appearance before the Security Council, new U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft spoke out against arms trafficking in the region. “The irresponsible flooding of arms into a desperately poor and divided country would only increase the likelihood of a return to widespread bloodshed and violence. This is not what anyone wants,” she said. VOA

Forced Out: Measuring the Scale of the Conflict in South Sudan
Since the collapse of the peace deal in 2016 alone, more than a million people are said to have fled across the border, escaping rape, murder, destruction of property, and occupation of land. Al Jazeera used a mobile phone survey, satellite imagery, submitted photos and public data to try to confirm these reports and shed light on the scale of the conflict. We called more than 35,000 numbers by random dialling on the Zain mobile network in South Sudan. The survey was distributed by a company called Viamo. Of those calls, more than 2,900 people listened to the introduction and selected a language, and 405 people completed the entire 14-question survey, which was designed in consultation with South Sudan land rights experts and statisticians. We prerecorded questions in six languages: English, Arabic, Dinka, Nuer, Bari and Madi, and participants could respond to those multiple-choice questions by pressing number keys on their phones. In a few cases, open ended-questions allowed people to record an answer, which was later transcribed. Al Jazeera

Nigeria: 22,000 Nigerians Missing in North-East, Says Red Cross
Nearly 22,000 Nigerians have been reported missing in the North-east region due to a decade of conflict in the area, according to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer. Maurer told reporters Thursday in Lagos that the figure is the highest number of missing persons registered with the ICRC in any country. He also said millions of people had also been displaced due to the conflict. … “Families in North-east Nigeria are often separated while fleeing attacks. Others have had loved ones abducted or detained and do not know their whereabouts. The ICRC works with the Nigerian Red Cross and other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in the region to trace missing people by showing photographs, calling out names, and going door-to-door in camps and communities,” Maurer said. This Day

‘I’ll Never Go Back’: Nigerians Flee South Africa Xenophobic Violence
“I’ll never go back in my life,” says Victor Indiobe. Five years ago, the young technician left Imo in southern Nigeria to start a new life in South Africa’s economic capital Johannesburg. But on Wednesday, he was one of 189 Nigerians on a plane to Lagos, after the Nigerian government said it would repatriate around 600 citizens fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa. … The 29-year-old lived in Hillbrow, one of Johannesburg’s most dangerous and deprived areas, where he repaired plasma TV screens — until September 2, when three of his friends were shot dead. … Back in Lagos, Nigeria’s government has promised to help those returning from South Africa. Speaking to reporters on the tarmac, Nigerian foreign affairs representative Abike Dabiri-Erewa said the government would pay for citizen’s travel expenses to reach their families and enrol them in programmes to find work or start a business. But in a country blighted by unrest and poverty — more than 80 million Nigerians live under the extreme poverty line, surviving on less than $1.90 a day — many say they are not hopeful. AFP

Internal Displacement in West Africa on the Rise – Report
During the first six months of 2019, internal displacement in West Africa accelerated due to pockets of violence, especially along the porous Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger borders, according to a mid-year report out by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre on Thursday. “The violence has its roots in the activities of several local but globally oriented jihadist groups that have spent years laying the groundwork for armed insurgencies that are now wreaking havoc across the three countries,” according to the report. … For the first half of 2019, IDMC reports that 173,000 civilians in Burkina Faso were displaced, while in Mali, 140,000 fled their homes due to violence. RFI

Mali Bus Attack Targeted French Troops
A Mali-based al Qaeda affiliate said a landmine it planted that killed 14 civilians when it exploded under a passenger bus targeted French troops. Around 60 people were in the vehicle when it hit the landmine on September 3 in central Mali a haven for Islamist militants despite a five year French military operation to counter them. Jama’a Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM) – an umbrella group for al Qaeda-linked militants in West Africa and the Maghreb – said it had not intended to attack the bus and offered condolences and sympathy to the relatives of those killed. … “This came as the result of the detonation of a landmine mujahideen planted for patrols of the French occupation,” it said in the statement. At least 24 civilians were wounded in the blast in addition to those killed, according to Malian authorities. Reuters

Kenya, Uganda: President Kenyatta, Museveni Sign Pact to End Cross-Border Conflicts
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni Thursday witnessed the historical signing of a peace deal towards the joint development of the marginalised Turkana-Pokot-Karamoja region along the border of the two countries. The two Heads of State shook hands at Naitakwae Playgrounds in Moroto, in the Ugandan side of the border, after witnessing the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for Cross-Border Peace and Development on the border. … For years the communities have fought each other over pasture and cattle in conflicts that have often led to deaths. “This agreement will help us ensure long-lasting peace for our people. It is not only about peace but sustainable development,” said President Kenyatta. … The biggest challenge within the region has been cattle rustling that has always been fuelled by readily available guns. Uganda has tried to rid the Karamojong of the lethal guns through past disarmament but other countries including Kenya have failed in similar missions. The East African

Kenya Becomes 3rd African Nation to Introduce World’s First Malaria Vaccine
Kenya on Friday added the world’s first malaria vaccine to the routine immunization schedule for children under two, becoming the third country in Africa to roll out the vaccine for the disease that kills one child globally every two minutes. Malaria is a top killer of children under five in the East African nation, and the vaccine is critically important to its efforts to combat the disease because other measures such as mosquito nets have not proven adequate, the director general of Kenya’s health ministry, Wekesa Masasabi, told Reuters. “We still have an incidence of 27% (malaria infection) for children under five,” Masasabi said before Friday’s launch of the vaccine in the western county of Homa Bay. … African nations Ghana and Malawi launched their pilot programmes of the vaccine earlier this year. Kenya plans to roll out the vaccine to eight of its 47 counties over the next two years, Masasabi said. Reuters

Tanzania’s Magufuli Sacks Spy Chief Ahead of Polls
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has sacked the head of the country’s intelligence service, the presidency said on Thursday, a move seen as indicating a shake-up of the intelligence network ahead of elections next year. Modestus Kipilimba was dismissed as director general of the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS) after three years in the post. No reason was given. “President John Magufuli today appointed and swore in Diwani Athuman Msuya as director general of national intelligence,” the presidency said in a statement. Under Tanzanian law, the spy chief serves for a five-year term, which is renewable. Reuters and The Citizen

Dispute, Stampede Mark Day of Mourning for Robert Mugabe
Dispute over where the body of former Zimbabwe president will be buried as well a stampede in which several people were injured marked a day of mourning for Robert Mugabe. Thousands of Zimbabweans walked through Harare’s Rufaro Sports Stadium to pay their last respects to the late leader. Some mourned as they walked past, while others saluted as they had one last look at the veteran leader lying in an open wooden coffin. Earlier, the Mugabe family expressed its intention to bury the former president at a private ceremony at an undisclosed location. But supporters of Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF objected to the plan, urging President Emmerson Mnangagwa to ensure Mugabe is buried at the National Heroes Acre. … “The bottom line is the family is very bitter that Robert was pushed out. If Mugabe were to be buried at Heroes Acre, it would allow Mnangagwa to pontificate over his body and that would legitimise his rise to power,” said Mandaza. Al Jazeera

Ten Dead, Dozens Wounded in Mozambique Election Rally Stampede
At least 10 people have died and 98 others wounded in a stampede at a campaign rally of Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi, health authorities said. Nampula Central Hospital officials said the deaths and injuries occurred when a crowd tried to move through a single gate of a stadium in the northern city of Nampula, where the rally was being held on Wednesday. … The stampede deaths were not the first loss of life in the ongoing election campaign in Mozambique. Twelve people were killed in the first week of campaigning – 10 in traffic accidents and two in political violence – while at least 29 were injured, according to the Public Integrity Centre monitoring group. Mozambique is currently in its second week of election campaigning in advance of the October 15 general elections, in which Nyusi is hoping to secure a second term. The party has dominated power in the East African country of just under 30 million people for more than four decades and the president is expected to win again. Al Jazeera

Up to 50 Dead in Congo after Train Derails
Up to 50 people were killed when a cargo train derailed in Congo’s southeastern province of Tanganyika in the early hours of Thursday, government officials said, though reports on casualties differed widely. The Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Steve Mbikayi, said the derailment happened around 3 a.m. local time (0100 GMT), near the town of Mayibaridi, and gave a provisional death toll of 50. But the governor of Tanganyika, Zoe Kabila, gave a lower estimate: 10 people killed and 30 injured. He said three of the train’s carriages had come off the tracks. Mbikayi later told Reuters the ministry was aware of the contradictory death tolls and was trying to establish the exact number. Deadly transport accidents are common in Democratic Republic of Congo due to poor infrastructure and lack of regulation. Reuters

The Algerian Air Force will be receiving additional Su-30MKA and MiG-29M/M2 fighters from Russia after contracts worth nearly $2 billion were signed. Russian daily newspaper Vedomosti on 9 September reported that Algeria had ordered an additional 16 Su-30MKA aircraft, joining the 58 already in service, and another 14 MiG-29M/M2 aircraft. Both purchases are worth around $1.8 billion, but the value could exceed $2 billion if weapons and equipment is added. The agreements were apparently reached at the MAKS Moscow Aerospace Exhibition last month by Algeria’s Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Major General Hamid Boumaiza. Defence Web

India, Africa Review Progress of Projects in Maritime Security, Climate Change, Counter-Terrorism
India and Africa reviewed projects of cooperation in maritime security, climate change, connectivity and counter-terrorism among others during a two-day mid-term review meeting. The mid-term review meeting of the Strategic Cooperation Framework of Africa-India Forum Summit (IAFS) III took place in New Delhi on Wednesday and Thursday. It was attended by representatives from the Ministry of External Affairs and a delegation from the African Union, and representatives of the African Diplomatic Corps. … According to a joint statement by India and the African Union, both sides discussed cooperation in priority areas of AU Agenda 2063 such as projects at continental level, cooperation in the health sector, maritime security, connectivity, and climate change. “Both sides committed to address common challenges of extremism and counter-terrorism. Underlying the importance of cultural cooperation, the two sides also discussed organisation of Festival of Africa in India, AU nominations under Distinguished Visitors Programme of the ICCR and enhanced utilisation of scholarship and training programmes,” it said. Economic Times

Cyber Security Remains the Biggest Threat to Business in Africa
African business owners who attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Cape Town have flagged cybersecurity as the biggest threat to business. With the rise in adopting mobile and digital technologies, 94 percent of all companies in Africa and the Middle East admitted to have suffered a cyber attack in the past year. The forum was confronted with answering the question of how the private and public sector could cooperate to improve cyber security. Cyber-security, the protection of computer systems from the theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data is crucial to businesses globally. According to The Global Risks Report 2019, cybersecurity has been listed as one of the top five short-term risks for the future. The realisation of the digital economy is at the national level and is customarily delivered by the private sector. Business Report

Huawei, Africa and the Global Reach of Surveillance Technology
Huawei’s rapid growth, as well as its readiness to do business with authoritarian governments and its potential links to Chinese state agencies, has led to accusations that the company is implicated in the global decline of digital rights and, with it, democracy itself. Freedom House, a US government-funded NGO, has accused China and its companies of pursuing a policy of “techno-dystopian expansionism”. Their Freedom on the Net 2018 report (the latest to be released) found China to be the world’s worst abuser of internet freedoms. … Despite its sizable influence, though, Huawei is just one of many private companies looking to sell potentially oppressive technology to authoritarian governments. Many of their biggest competitors and collaborators are, in fact, based in the West. “The spread of surveillance technology is a global problem. It is not just Chinese companies – indeed, far from it,” said David Kaye, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Law Professor at the University of California, Irvine, in an email to DW. The Ethiopian government, for example, acquired invasive surveillance software called FinSpy from the UK-based Gamma Group back in 2013. DW

Deforestation Damage Goes Far beyond the Amazon
Africa is of particular concern. According to a report on the New York Declaration on Forests, signed in 2014 with the aim of halting deforestation globally by 2030, the new hotspots of increasing forest loss are in west Africa and the Congo basin. While the greatest losses of forests by area in the years 2014-18 occurred in tropical Latin America, the greatest rate of increase was in Africa, where deforestation rates leapt from less than 2m hectares a year on average from 2001 to 2013, to more than 4m a year from 2014 to 2018. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo rates of deforestation have doubled in the past five years. In Africa much of the demand for logging comes from China, which has taken a strategic interest in the continent, buying land and doing resource deals with governments in exchange for internal investment and development cash. “African timber is exported to China, and this is one of the three dominant causes of deforestation. China could act on illegal timber and be very effective, for instance if the Chinese government put in a requirement on tracing [timber and forest goods],” said Streck. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones