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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 23rd April 2019

SUDAN: The Freedom and Change movement doubles down on protests for civilian-led transitional government

Patrick Smith

This week, we start in Sudan where the opposition is escalating its protests and then to Uganda where the age limit for presidents has been removed to allow President Museveni to fight yet another election. In West Africa, President Keïta is under growing pressure from militia attacks, and battle continues over the credibility of Nigeria's elections. Finally, the fight for the Libyan capital is raging.

SUDAN: The Freedom and Change movement doubles down on protests for civilian-led transitional government
Negotiations over the form and substance of the political transition are fraying fast with the Forces for Freedom and Change suspending talks with the Transitional Military Council, which is calling for an end to protests blocking public roads. It was a peaceful sit-in by one million protestors outside the Defence Headquarters in Khartoum that triggered the palace coup that ousted Omer el Beshir on the night of 10 April.

Now, activists are organising further mass protests demanding that the TMC should hand over to a transitional authority led by civilians to draw up a roadmap for political and economic reform over the next two years. On 15 April, the African Union's Peace and Security Commission called on Sudan's ruling generals to cede power to a civilian-led authority within two weeks.

To address the protestors' demands, the generals have detained Beshir in the high-security Kobar prison, as well as arresting several of his fellow Islamist politicians. It has since emerged that investigators found over US$350,000 and €6 million in cash in Beshir's apartment.

On Monday (22 April), TMC leader Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Burhan said that he was open to civilians playing a more prominent role in the transition but was vague about the details. Authoritarian regimes in the region and beyond are wary of the opposition's success in facing down one of the most ruthless regimes in the world.

Egypt, despite the AU ruling, has called on other governments to recognise Sudan's new junta. In a bid to shore up the junta and exert influence, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, which have close ties to Lt Gen Burhan, have offered to pay $500 million into Khartoum's central bank and send over a further $2.5 billion in food aid and medicines.

UGANDA: Museveni for life, court confirms
After the Supreme Court in Kampala confirmed on Thursday (18 April), by a narrow 4-3 verdict, that changes introduced in 2017 to scrap laws requiring presidents to retire at 75 are constitutional, it looks certain that 73-year old President Yoweri Museveni will stand in the 2021 elections.

Museveni can rely on a parliament dominated by his National Resistance Movement which has nominated him as its candidate. But outside, discontent is mounting.

Police used teargas and water cannon on Monday (22 April) to disperse crowds gathering for a concert at Busabula, near Kampala, by dissident MP Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine. Earlier this month, Bobi Wine said he intended to challenge Museveni in the next presidential elections.

MALI: Militant attacks in central Mali push Premier Maïga out of office and rock President Keïta
On Friday (19 April), 16 months after taking office, Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga and his administration resigned just hours before a parliamentary censure motion was due.

After a spate of murderous attacks in the centre of the country, it was the massacre of over 200 Fulani herders by a Dogon vigilante group last month which prompted mass demonstrations in Bamako.

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, re-elected a year ago, has failed to defeat jihadist groups and ethnic violence. He has promised urgent action but before he announced a new ministerial team, jihadists raided a military outpost at Guire early on Sunday (21 April), killing at least 12 soldiers.

NIGERIA: Buhari and Atiku exchange allegations as post-mortem of the national elections drags on with casualties on both sides
Questions about the credibility of Muhammadu Buhari's victory in the presidential election in February, by four million votes, looks set to delay the formation of a new government for several more weeks.

Opposition challenger Atiku Abubakar insists that Buhari's win was fraudulent. To back up his claim he has produced several officials from the Independent National Electoral Commission who have testified that they broke electoral law by transmitting results electronically instead of using a manual reporting system.

However, Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen's forfeit of money in five foreign bank accounts after he was convicted of a false assets declaration looks helpful to Buhari. When Buhari suspended Onnoghen less than a month before the polls, the opposition accused him of wrongful interference with the judiciary. Now, Buhari's supporters insist the President has been vindicated.

LIBYA: Rogue General Khalifa Haftar steps up his offensive against Tripoli
As militia leader Khalifa Haftar steps up his attacks on Tripoli, rejecting calls by the UN to withdraw, he has been gathering diplomatic and military support from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in what is seen in the region as a 'coalition of authoritarians'.

Speaking by phone on Friday (19 April) with Haftar, United States President Donald Trump commended the rogue general for 'fighting terrorism' and 'defending Libya's oil resources'. But this contradicts the policy of the US State Department Under Secretary Mike Pompeo, who said '… we have made it clear that we oppose the military offensive' by Haftar and his Libyan National Army militia.

Faiez el Serraj, the beleaguered leader of the UN-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli has railed at the lack of international support for his regime. Haftar's LNA launched an offensive to take the capital this month with support from Egypt. Dozens of civilians and would-be migrants trapped in the capital have been killed in shelling and air raids.


ANGOLA: State oil company Sonangol is to sell equity in at least 52 joint-venture companies to raise money and bring back investors
Carlos Saturnino, the new chief at Sonangol, says he is determined to clear a backlog of $5 billion in new production projects

CONGO-KINSHASA: Kinshasa Supreme Court throws out case against exiled politician Moïse Katumbi
If Katumbi returns to Congo after this court ruling he could reinvigorate those activists insisting that Martin Fayulu was cheated of victory last December

MOROCCO: Thousands march in Rabat demanding release of activists detained three years ago, raising the question of wider protests
A court ruling confirming 20-year jail sentences against activists in the northern Rif region could trigger unrest as neighbouring states face mounting pressure

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