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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 26th August 2019

The week ahead in Africa: The new power-sharing government sets up in Khartoum

Patrick Smith

We start this week with the new government in Sudan, then to Kenya for a contested census, and to the next steps after elections in Jubaland, Somalia. Despite the best efforts of Angola's President Joaõ Lourenço, the latest diplomatic deal between Presidents Kagame and Museveni looks frail and Zimbabwe faces more confrontation as economic conditions worsen.

PRIME MINISTER HAMDOK TO PICK HIS TEAM: Facing myriad economic and political threats, the new power-sharing government sets up in Khartoum

Veteran economist Abdallah Hamdok, who was sworn in as head of the council of ministers on 21 August, has three weeks to appoint his cabinet, in consultation with the ruling body of the new government, the Sovereignty Council. Hamdok, together with representatives from the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), will propose candidates for the ministries of finance, foreign affairs, education and health while military members of the Sovereignty Council will choose the ministers of interior, defence and national security.

Hamdok, who has garnered a wide range of support for his premiership, has already sounded the alarm on the state of the economy, suggesting the country needs an infusion of US$2billion to shore up foreign reserves and stabilise the national economy in the short term.

To return to sustainable growth, Hamdok says, the country will have to secure some $8bn over the next three years to repair the damage wrought by the previous regime and restructure the economy. He added that he will reopen discussions with the United States government about getting Sudan removed from Washington's list of state sponsors of terror; a designation that has deterred many foreign companies from doing business in the country.

There are several disagreements between the military members of the government and civilians to be resolved in the coming days such as the choice of the Chief Justice and head of the National Prosecuting Authority. On 24 August the Sovereignty Council declared a state of emergency in Port Sudan after ethnic clashes broke out.

A POLITICAL HEADCOUNT IN KENYA: Tough questions about what happens to the confidential data

The census in Kenya, the sixth since independence, is due to wind up on 31 August after a week of head counting. It will be an important first test of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), a compulsory new identity card known as Huduma Namba. Ministers have sought to reassure Kenyans that their personal data will be safe with them.

That has prompted concern from NGOs, including Amnesty International, who say that collecting electronic data without having a comprehensive data protection law puts personal privacy at risk.

The first losers are bar-owners and their patrons, who were ordered by Interior Cabinet Secretary and chief government fixer Fred Matiang'i to close all bars, pubs, and entertainment places at the weekend. The tone of Matiang'i and other ministers and agencies involved has done little to assuage public concern that a statistical exercise could easily be manipulated for political gain by the government.

KENYA'S ALLY WINS IN JUBALAND: After his electoral victory, Madobe makes overtures to Somali government about defeating common enemy – Al Shabaab

In his first remarks since being re-elected as Jubaland President, Ahmed Islam Mohammed, popularly known as Madobe, tried to strike a conciliatory tone. Jubbaland, Madobe said, would remain part of Somalia, and should unite with the federal government in Mogadishu against Al Shabaab.

Madobe's election, disputed by the federal government, which described the vote as a 'self-appointed process', threatens to open up a fresh rift with neighbouring Kenya, which has allied itself to Madobe and was quick to congratulate him.

TENSIONS CONTINUE DESPITE TRUCE IN THE EAST: Long way to go to normalisation after Angola brokered deal between Rwanda and Uganda

There is little prospect of a thawing of relations between Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni despite their signing of a Memorandum of Understanding negotiated by Angola.

The two leaders have accused each other of security breaches, espionage, illegal detentions and support for fugitives in a war of words that has ramped up over the past two years.

The agreement, brokered by Angolan President Joaõ Lourenço, commits the two sides to re-open their borders and resume trade between. But Rwanda still advises its citizens against travelling to Uganda.

Within a day of the signing the two countries fought a tit-for-tat propaganda battle. Uganda blocked pro-Rwandan government media websites accusing them of publishing material that was 'harmful and detrimental to national security', prompting Kigali to respond by blocking a group of Ugandan titles. The media blocking was quickly resolved by regulators, but is symptomatic of a deeply uneasy truce.

POLITICS HEATS UP AS ZIMBABWE'S ECONOMIC MELTDOWN CONTINUES: More protests planned after President Mnangagwa's government cracks down, shreds pledges of democratisation and loses foreign diplomatic support

Trade unionists and pro-democracy activists expect political confrontations to multiply and have given up any hope that President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government will be more open to negotiation or consultation than that of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s Organising Secretary, Amos Chibaya, was arrested on charges of failing to stop opposition protests in Harare earlier this month that had been banned by the High Court at the eleventh hour. Chibaya, who is already facing trial on subversion charges linked to violent protests in January, will appear in court later this week.

The banning order on the demonstrations on 16 August reduced the numbers on the streets, but some still defied the ban and were attacked with tear gas, with dozens arrested. Adopting the sort of tactics that were the hallmarks of the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front under Mugabe, Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi and government spokesman Nick Mangwana have accused the MDC of faking abductions, including of the comedian Samantha Kureya, who was hospitalised after being seized from her home and beaten last week.


POLITICAL FUNDING ROW GETS MURKIER STILL IN SOUTH AFRICA: Company boss at centre of storm over donations to Ramaphosa's election campaign dies in car crash

REAPPOINTED FINANCE TEAM IN NIGERIA FACES REVENUE CRUNCH: Finance Minister and Central Bank governor have ear of President but uphill battle to navigate $9bn judgement debt and new plans to fund infrastructure projects

UNCONVINCING NEW ORDER IN CONGO-KINSHASA: President Tshisekedi faces scepticism after his predecessor's supporters get lion's share of posts in new government

POLL PREPARATIONS GET SERIOUS IN ETHIOPIA: Addis Ababa parliament passes new political party ahead of planned vote next year