This Week In Review: DR Congo Elections, Gabon Coup, Sudan’s Unrest Top this Week News

Alao Abiodun
20% Complete
 12-Jan-2019

This week has been a busy news week. Here’s a roundup of this week’s top stories across Africa and the rest of the world.

Opposition candidate, Felix Tshisekedi secured a surprise win in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s presidential election, as announced by the country’s electoral commission. In another surprising development, on Monday, January 7th, 2018, news filtered around Africa over military coup in Gabon as soldiers hijacked state’s owned radio station announcing seizure of power from President Ali Bongo Ondimba and other controversial news dominated political discourse this week.

Other major stories includes the Deadly anti-government riots which rocked major Sudanese cities including the capital Khartoum demanding the exit of President Bashir. In another story, Zimbabwean doctors affirmed that they have “begrudgingly” called off a six-week long strike that crippled the country’s fragile health sector. The end of the strike by doctors is likely to give some respite to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari this week, called on African leaders to support processes that will ensure stronger political institutions across the continent.

In this week review, APRECON gives a brief recap of various headlines this week across Africa and the rest of the world.

EAST AFRICA

As reported earlier this week, Zimbabwe Doctors have started returning to work following an agreement reached with the Government which has lifted their suspension.

It was further reported that Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) in Bulawayo and officials at the institutions confirmed that some doctors were back at work.

The officials also noted improvements in drug supplies from Government.

As reported this week too, in Somalia, 10 al-Shabaab militants have been killed over the past couple of days in a series of air strikes aimed at weakening the terrorist group, the US military said in a statement on Tuesday.

The U.S. military said it conducts operations jointly with its Somali partners and are committed to preventing al-Shabaab from taking advantage of safe havens from which they can build capacity and attack the people of Somalia.

The U.S. army further said it will continue to work with its partners in Somalia to transfer the responsibility for long-term security in the country from the African Union peacekeepers to the Federal government of Somalia.

In another news, The Rwandan government announced the sending of officials across the country to enforce its ban on skin lightening and bleaching products.

It should be noted that the East African country is leading a campaign against skin bleaching and substandard cosmetics, particularly products that include hydroquinone.

Rwandan police said they seized more than 5,000 banned bleaching products — including lotions, oils, soaps and sprays — from beauty shops across the country last month, according to local media, New Times.

CENTRAL AFRICA

In another news story, an attempted military coup in Gabon was foiled earlier this week. Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, a spokesman for the government, told reporters that authorities had regained control of the state broadcasting offices and a major thoroughfare in the capital, Libreville, after four plotters were arrested.

Read Also: Attempted Gabon Military Coup: Ali Bongo’s Health and Other Controversies

He said President Ali Bongo’s government remains in control. All of the alleged plotters were junior army officers. The coup plotter, a soldier who identified himself as Lt. Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, read out a statement saying the military had seized control of the government in the West African country and called on people to “rise up.”

The soldiers said they launched a coup in a bid to “restore democracy” to the country. The attempted coup came as a surprise as the military has supported Bongo’s presidency since he took power in 2009. The president has been out of the country since October amid reports he had a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year’s message that was filmed in Morocco, where he has been receiving medical treatment.

Prior to the release of the Democratic Republic of congo’s election result, the United States, African Union, European Union and other bodies warned Congo’s government to make sure the election results conform to the will of the people.

One Congolese election observer group, Symocel, reported “major irregularities” including the disappearance of envelopes containing results from nearly 120 polling stations in Kinshasa, an opposition stronghold.

Meanwhile, Opposition Candidate, Felix Tshisekedi has been declared winner of the DR Congo Presidential Election

Felix Tshisekedi, leader of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDSP), has been announced winner of the presidential election in Democratic Republic of Congo.

If unchallenged, this would signal Congo’s first democratic transition of power since 1960 when the country gained independence.

Tshisekedi, son of late opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi, will take over from President Joseph Kabila who is stepping down after 18 years in office.

Emmanuel Shadary, Kabila’s preferred candidate, came a distant third at the poll.

NORTH AFRICA

In another controversial situation, Sudanese security authorities arrested several faculty members from Khartoum University on Sunday, two professors said, after they joined anti-government protests that have posed the most serious challenge to President Omar Al Bashir’s rule.

The arrests came amid fresh demonstrations in Khartoum and Wad Madani in response to a call by a coalition of professional unions to push for Bashir to step down.

Witnesses said security forces blocked professors and lecturers from coming out to protest outside the university, arresting at least eight. It was the first time the faculty of the country’s oldest and most prestigious educational institution has joined the protests since they began last month.

The rest were forced to return into the faculty club house, where security forces surrounded the building trapping about 100 professors and lecturers inside for nearly. Meanwhile, Intermittent protests have rocked Sudan since anger over food shortages and rising bread prices erupted into demonstrations in the city of Atbara in the north on December 19.

Read Also: Sudan – Omar al-Bashir: A Call to Rescind!

Security forces have used tear gas on occasions, live ammunition against demonstrators and rounded up more than 2,000 people. The Sudanese government said that 19 people were killed in the protests, including two members of the security forces. Amnesty International has put the death toll at 37.

In Sunday’s protests, witnesses said hundreds of men and women marched from three separate locations in the capital trying to reach the presidential palace in central Khartoum but were dispersed by security forces using tear gas and stun grenades.

WEST AFRICA

President Muhammadu Buhari has called on African leaders to support processes that will ensure stronger political institutions across the continent. Only strong political institutions, he said – as this would guarantee stability, peace and economic progress.

He said this while receiving Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of the Republic of Guinea, Siaka Cissoko, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Meanwhile on Friday, China pledged its support to help Ghana expand the University of Health and Allied Sciences located at Ho, 180 km northeast of the capital, Accra.

At a brief ceremony, Chinese Ambassador to Ghana Wang Shiting and Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta signed a formal note on behalf of their respective country for the grant support.

Wang said the signing of the document was an indication that “the Chinese government will support the construction of the second phase of the project for the University of Health and Allied Sciences.”

REST OF THE WORLD

The Trump administration is currently in dilemma as Kevin Sweenee resigned as Pentagon chief of staff after serving the defense secretary for two years. Sweeney retired as a rear admiral in 2014.

Sweeney served under former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who announced his resignation December 20 on the heels of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria.

In a similar vein, Anthony Zinni, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, has also resigned from President Donald Trump’s administration.

The general, who formerly served as the head of U.S. Central Command, was an envoy for the Trump administration to resolve an ongoing dispute between U.S. ally Qatar and a Saudi-led block of Arab states.

Zinni’s decision makes him the latest four-star general to depart from the Trump administration, following close behind the December announcement of General James Mattis, who served as secretary of defense.

Mattis departed from the Trump administration due to his objections to the president’s abrupt announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from Syria. The administration has since backpedaled from that decision.

Prior to Mattis, Trump revealed in early December that John Kelly, who was also a retired four-star Marine Corps general and was serving as the White House chief of staff, would leave at the end of 2018. Before taking over the White House role, Kelly had been Trump’s secretary of homeland security.

As the Brexit controversy continues, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government suffered a defeat in parliament this week when lawmakers who oppose leaving the European Union without a deal won a vote on creating a fresh obstacle to a no-deal Brexit.

The 303 to 296 defeat means that the government will need explicit parliamentary approval to leave the EU without a deal before it can use certain powers relating to taxation law.

According to News report this week, the World Bank has confirmed a recent report on its current President Jim Yong’s decision to resign, also naming an interim president.

The World Bank has announced that Kristalina Georgieva would assume the role of its interim president effective February 1. The organisation also confirmed that Jim Yong had stated his intention to resign on the same date.

The reasons behind Jim Yong’s decision to leave his post before the expiration of his term in 2022 are yet to be clarified. Jim Yong Kim, a Korean-born American, has been head of the World Bank since 2012.

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