AfricaFocus Bulletin normally contains material on one topic only, as in bulletins earlier this year on Mozambique in January and March, Sudan in March , and Ebola in April. Each provides substantive excepts from current material as well as links for ongoing coverage.
This bulletin is an exception: updates on several topics in which there have been significant new developments since the earlier bulletins. It is also an experiment; how often I do this in the future will depend on your reaction.
The overthrow in April of Sudanese dictator Omar el-Bashir opened a period of hope, even though protesters continued to demand a comprehensive shift to a civilian government. The brutal military crackdown on June 3 brought a halt to this period, despite the determination of protesters to find ways to continue their struggle. As noted in the updates here, the international forces at play included criticism from the international community, namely the African Union and Western countries. But the most forceful intervention came from Saudi and Emirati military and economic support of the regime.
See brief excerpts and links to key updates below:
"Sudan Ousted a Brutal Dictator. His Successor Was His Enforcer," New York Times, June 14, 2019
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Once a camel trader who led a militia accused of genocidal violence in Darfur, Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan now sits at the pinnacle of power in Sudan, overlooking the scorched streets from his wood-paneled office high up in the military's towering headquarters.
From his office in the capital, Khartoum, he can see the site where his unit, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, cleared thousands of pro-democracy protesters in a storm of violence that began on June 3. The heavily armed troops burned tents, raped women and killed dozens of people, some dumped in the Nile, according to numerous accounts from protesters and witnesses.
The blood bath consolidated the vertiginous rise of General Hamdan, widely known as Hemeti, who by most reckonings is now the de facto ruler of Sudan. To many Sudanese he is proof of a depressing reality: Although they ousted one dictator in April, the brutal system he left behind is determined to guard its power.
"We thought this might happen," said Alaa Salah, 22, the woman dressed in white who led chants from atop a car and brought the world's attention to Sudan's revolution. "For years Hemeti killed and burned in Darfur. Now Darfur has come to Khartoum."
"Bloated bodies in the Nile show Sudan protesters were right to fear the arrival of Saudi and UAE money," Independent, June 11, 2019
The Sudanese democracy demonstrators were the first to protest at Saudi Arabia's interference in their revolution. We all knew that the Saudis and the Emiratis had been funnelling millions of dollars into the regime of Omar al-Bashir, wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court and now chucked out of power by a Sisi-like military cabal. But it was the sit-in protesters who first thought up the slogan: "We do not want Saudi aid even if we have to eat beans and falafel!"
… the dozens of waterlogged bodies being dragged from the Nile should focus our attention on the support which the Emiratis and especially the Saudis are now lavishing upon the pseudo- transitional military government in Sudan.
We should not be surprised. The frequent judicial head-chopping of Saudi prisoners after travesty trials, then the chopped-up remains of an executed Saudi journalist and now the decaying Sudanese corpses sloshing along the longest river in Africa - along with the Saudi-Emirati assault on Yemen and the subsequent slaughter - possess a kind of gruesome familiarity. Political problems resolved by cruel death.
The protesters want answers about the true nature of the relationship between the Gulf states and two men: the "Rapid Support Forces" commander, the frightening Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo - aka "Hemeti" - and Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, the theoretical head of the military council which took over the country after they overthrew Bashir. Both men recently visited the Gulf states - and the Sudanese who were camped out in their capital want to know why Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates promised $3bn (£2.7bn) in aid to the transitional government.
Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan 'Hemeti', the deputy chairman of Sudan's Transitional Military Council (TMC) and commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia Credit: Dabanga Sudan
"U. S. calls Sudan military crackdown 'devastating,' urges independent investigation," Washington Post, June 14, 2019
The top U.S. diplomat for Africa pushed Friday for Sudan to carry out an "independent and credible" investigation into a June 3 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that left scores dead.
Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy described the attack on a long-running sit-in near the military headquarters in the capital, Khartoum, as "just devastating."
Medical organizations linked to the protesters put the toll at least 118, while the military-led transitional government has acknowledged that at least 60 were killed when security forces cleared the square.
He declined to specify what further measures the United States might take and said the main U.S. focus is to support the mediation between the protesters and the military council by representatives from the African Union and neighboring Ethiopia.
"The Generational Gender Struggle in the Sudanese Revolution ," African Feminism, June 14, 2019
The April 11 deposing of former president Omar al Bashir from power, by the will of the people who protested and marched relentlessly, was executed by Bashir's very own loyalist military strongmen, in a hoax to gain power through a transitional military council (TMC). They oversaw the killing of more than 100 people and left as 700 injured in the recent attack on a sit-in and paramilitaries carried out more than 70 rapes.
This despite negotiations started between the TMC and de facto leader of the revolution, the Sudanese Professionals Association, and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) which comprised several factions of the political and armed rebels sphere under the Freedom and Change Declaration.
The pictures that came out of the negotiation meetings were starkly different from those that carried the news of the revolution months prior to that moment. There we were back to lack of trust in the competence and capabilities of women in politics. This became clear as the negotiating team was selected despite the criticism. A total of 8 negotiators were selected, of these only one woman was part.
AfricaFocus Bulletin, March 11, 2019 http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/sud1903.php
Dabanga Sudan, June 14, 2019 https://www.dabangasudan.org/en/all-news/article/sudan-troika-to-meet-in-berlin-on-june-21
For daily updates https://www.dabangasudan.org/en
Ebola has now spread from the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo into Uganda. The debate continues over whether a new declaration by WHO would help or would have the effects of inspiring travel bans and other harmful consequences as occurred during the West African Ebola epidemic. But two points are very clear: (1)international funding and support is still falling short, and (2) both international and national health responders have failed to win the trust of local Congolese communities in the midst of conflict, an essential component for effective action.
See brief excerpts and links to key updates below:
"WHO experts again say Ebola not global health emergency," CIDRAP, June 14, 2019
A World Health Organization (WHO) emergency committee convened in the wake of imported Ebola cases in Uganda said today that the situation still doesn't warrant a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), but they did express serious worries about the threat to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and its neighbors and over a lack of funds.
Despite surveillance efforts like these at the border of the two countries, Ebola has jumped from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Uganda. Credit: Matt Taylor/World Health Organization
Committee members are deeply disappointed that the WHO and its response partners haven't received enough funding and resources to battle Ebola. Currently, $98 million is needed to support the response through July, but so far health officials have received only $43.6 million, resulting in a $54 million gap.
Mike Ryan, MD, the WHO's executive director of emergency programs, said there has been very little funding available to help the DRC's four closest neighbors prepare for imported Ebola cases—and there's still a $27 million shortfall in that support.
Mosoka Fallah , "Radical ideas are needed to break the DRC's Ebola outbreak. Here are some," The Conversation, May 22, 2019
The critical, life-saving lessons learned from the West Africa outbreak aren't being implemented; though, admittedly, conditions in the DRC makes some hard to replicate.
For example, one of the biggest takeaways from the 2014 epidemic is that fear plays a major role in the communities where Ebola strikes. In Liberia people were initially so afraid of health workers that they resisted treatment and ignored orders not to self-quarantine.
As one of the lead coordinators of the national response to Ebola in Liberia, one of my main jobs was to ease the widespread fear. We did so by engaging with local communities. We recruited them to help in a number of ways, including being active case finders and leading negotiations with hostile community members.
A lack of trust is evident from troubling reports that many are resisting vaccination. We don't yet know why. The resistance sits side-by-side with peoples' receptiveness to other Ebola treatment.
From my previous experience it suggests that health workers must find a way to break through to clear the path for an effective vaccination drive - and to ensure that opposition doesn't quickly grow into resistance to the overall response.
What can leaders of the response do?
We had to think outside the standard conventions of emergency response.
First, they can incentivise community leaders (chiefs, healers, women, priests) on a fixed stipend to head the response in their respective towns or villages. Doing this will lead to a network of trusted messengers who can effectively communicate to a frightened, confused people. We did this in Liberia. And it can be done in the DRC, despite the challenges of war.
In Liberia we also incentivised a local gang that had been infected by offering them illicit drugs. It was unconventional - there were no rules for this kind of engagement - but it worked: we negotiated a self-quarantine of 32 homeless gang members. We also offered food to armed robbers in exchange for safe passage through a slum called West Point.
Second, food can be used to incentivise community response and volunteer self-quarantine. Food has historically being used as a weapon of war, but we turned it around in Liberia and used it as a force for Ebola containment. We did this successfully in collaboration with the World Food Programme. We provided food to entire villages where Ebola had occurred. Village leaders then decided that for 21 days no one would leave their villages and no new visitors would be allowed. By providing food and their basic needs these local leaders became empowered to work with their people to contain the outbreak.
Third, find all means necessary to incentivise the rebels and make them a part of the response. A trusted third party - like the Southern African Development Community, WHO or some other organisation - must convince the national government to allow them to meet the warring factions and give them the resources to take steps in their territory.
"Resetting the Ebola response in Congo means trusting the people affected," New Humanitarian, May 24, 2019
Across the response, an enhanced strategy of community engagement must deliver on repeated local requests for more in-depth knowledge about Ebola, the response, and treatment procedures. Local actors continue to affirm that improved information flows can de-escalate more politicised views of Ebola. Communities suggest more (facilitated discussion) forums in which they can ask questions and receive further detailed information about the virus, its treatment, vaccination, and response activities. Actors both opposing the response as well as those supporting it call for greater civilian access to laboratories and treatment centres in order to build familiarity with procedures used. Given the environment of distrust, granting more direct access will help to overcome 'fear of the unknown' and can constructively dispel misinformation.
Although the recent attacks are highly visible, communities continue to make repeated attempts to communicate peacefully with the government and national and international responders. Community members circulate announcements and situation reports from the WHO and other agencies via WhatsApp, demonstrating a determination to keep apprised of response activities. This level of engagement is positive and should be maximised. It should be the basis for the reset.
BBC, June 16, 2019 - with graphics https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-48635969
For daily updates http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/infectious-disease-topics/ebola
AfricaFocus Bulletin, April 15, 2019 http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/eb1904.php
Hit by Cyclone Idai and Cyclone Kenneth earlier this year, both central and northern Mozambique are still feeling the direct impact. The country is burdened with some $2 billion in fraudulent debt to global banks and bondholders, just ruled unconstitutional by Mozambique´s constitutional council. And an insurgency in northern Cabo Delgado province is being made more deadly by repressive military responses to unrest based on a perfect storm of underlying reasons for discontent. See brief excerpts and links to key updates below, including to video and audio of a June 6 half- day conference with outstanding panels on the insurgency in northern Mozambique.
"Mozambique: Constitutional Council Rules Ematum Guarantee Null and Void," AIM, June 4, 2019
Maputo — Mozambique's Constitutional Council, the country's highest body in matters of constitutional and electoral law, on Tuesday declared null and void all acts concerning the loan of 850 million US dollars contracted by the Mozambique Tuna Company (Ematum) in 2013.
Also null and void "with all the legal consequences" is the loan guarantee issued by the government of the time, headed by President Armando Guebuza.
The loan took the form of the issue of 850 million dollars worth of bonds, issued by the banks Credit Suisse and VTB of Russia, on the European market. The proceeds were supposed to go towards purchasing fishing boats and other equipment for Ematum, and for coastal protection.
Furthermore, the loans to Ematum, and to two other fraudulent companies, Proindicus and MAM (Mozambique Asset Management), are now the subject of lawsuits both in Maputo and in the United States. Key figures in the debts are under arrest, including Guebuza's finance minister, Manuel Chang, who is under South African police custody, three former Credit Suisse directors and Jean Boustani, of the Abu Dhabi based company, Privinvest, which became the sole contractor for the three fake companies.
The US indictment, based on a million pages of bank statements, e- mails, transcripts of phone calls and other documents, makes it clear that Ematum was a fraud right from the start. It was cooked up by senior figures in Privinvest and Credit Suisse, and had nothing to do with Mozambique's legitimate fishing needs. Instead, the project, according to the US indictment, was "a pretext to justify the maximum possible loan amount".
"Deputy Humanitarian Chief concludes visit to countries affected by Cyclone Idai and calls for increased support to tackle the effects of climate change," OCHA, June 12, 2019
"While the impact of Cyclone Idai was different in the three countries, this disaster gives us a clear picture of how the effects of climate change are increasing the humanitarian needs of people who are already extremely vulnerable," said Ms Mueller. "The climate crisis is hurting most those who have done the least to create it."
In Mozambique, which was affected by two consecutive cyclones, Idai and Kenneth, the deputy humanitarian chief visited Beira, the port city which took the brunt of Idai, and travelled to Dondo, where she met with people who have been resettled after they lost everything. "I am inspired by the incredible resilience of the Mozambican people, who are already rebuilding their lives," she said. "However, I am deeply concerned for the months ahead, as food insecurity is expected to rise due to the extensive damage to crops and livelihoods. We must ensure that no one is left behind, and that displaced people are resettled in a way that is safe, dignified, voluntary, informed and durable."
Ms Mueller welcomed the initial outpouring of support and solidarity with Mozambique, but urged the international community to do more. The Humanitarian Response Plan for Mozambique, that calls for US$440 million including the response to Cyclone Idai and Kenneth and the drought in the south, is only 34 per cent funded.
"Anadarko approves $20 billion LNG export project in Mozambique," Reuters, June 18, 2019
U.S. energy firm Anadarko Petroleum Corp on Tuesday gave the go- ahead for the construction of a $20 billion gas liquefaction and export terminal in Mozambique, the largest single LNG project approved in Africa.
The announcement, which occurred at an event in Mozambique, was widely expected after Anadarko last month flagged the decision date.
"As the world increasingly seeks cleaner forms of energy, the Anadarko-led Area 1 Mozambique LNG project is ideally located to meet growing demand, particularly in expanding Asian and European markets," Chief Executive Officer Al Walker said in a statement here
Anadarko has agreed to be taken over by Occidental Petroleum Corp. Once that deal goes ahead, Occidental has agreed to sell assets including the Mozambique LNG project to French oil major and large LNG trader Total SA. Officials at Total were not immediately available for comment.
Video and audio available of panels on Understanding Extremism in Northern Mozambique, CSIS, June 6, 2019. Video is on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34aJMFN2XuE]
Three out of 6 panelists were Mozambican. All panelists are real experts with deep knowledge on the topic, providing different but overlapping perspectives. No definitive answers - that´s the nature of the reality they were dealing with. But very clearly put background and analysis. And, for those concerned about the issues elsewhere in Africa as well as Mozambique, there are many parallels in the drivers of conflict and how multiplied by failures in both national and international response. Whether key policymakers at either levels will pay attention is another matter.
Panel 1: Examining Social, Political, and Religious Drivers
Featuring Dr. Alex Vines (Chatham House), Dr. Yussuf Adam (Universidade Eduardo Mondlane), and Dr. Liazzat Bonate (University of West Indies)
Moderated by Emilia Columbo
Panel 2: Exploring Regional and International Response Efforts
Featuring H. Dean Pittman (former U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique), Zenaida Machado (Human Rights Watch), and Dr. Gregory Pirio (Empowering Communications)
Moderated byJudd Devermont (Director, CSIS Africa Program)
Gregory Pirio, Robert Pittelli, and Yussuf Adam, "The Many Drivers Enabling Violent Extremism in Northern Mozambique," Africa Center for Strategic Studies, May 20, 2019
The armed Islamist movement in Mozambique's northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, known locally as "al Shabaab" (no direct relation to the Somalian militant group) or "Swahili Sunnah" (the Swahili path), among other names, is responsible for over 100 deaths, destruction of property, and the displacement of thousands of people. The group first gained attention with an attack on a police station in October 2017. Inspired by the teachings of the late radical Kenyan preacher Aboud Rogo, the group was seen as young and brash—and at odds with the established Muslim Council in the region. Failing to win over the Muslim leadership, the group went on to establish its own mosques and madrassas and recruited from local youth by playing up feelings of disaffection.
Since May 2018, the group's attacks have become less discriminate and more violent—to include beheadings. Numerous villages have been attacked, with over 1,000 homes burned or destroyed. Militants, moreover, are reported to have begun kidnapping women and girls.
Heavy-handed responses by Mozambican security forces following extremist attacks have heightened distrust among local residents. According to Human Rights Watch, men found in Cabo Delgado villages by security forces have been rounded up and held in military detention without due process. These security responses are alleged to have contributed to further al Shabaab recruitment in the region.
The pattern of escalating violent extremist attacks followed by indiscriminate security responses have played out repeatedly elsewhere in Africa—Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, the Sahel, and the Maghreb. The situation in northern Mozambique, however, is further complicated by a series of underlying factors—including competition over land, resettlement, and distrust of local political actors—that are fueling tensions and demanding a more comprehensive response.
"In the Wake of Cyclone Idai, the North Has a Climate Debt to Pay," Foreign Policy in Focus, April 4, 2019 https://fpif.org/in-the-wake-of-cyclone-idai-the-north-has-a-climate-debt-to-pay/
AfricaFocus Bulletin, March 22, 2019 http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/idai1903.php
AfricaFocus Bulletin, January 8, 2019 http://www.africafocus.org/docs19/moz1901.php
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