This Week in Review: Nigeria 2019 Elections, Somalia Attack, Central Africa Peace Deal, Venezuela Crisis, Sudan’s Unrest Top this Week News

Alao Abiodun
20% Complete
 08-Feb-2019

The week in review has been full of activities all around the African region and the wider world. Here’s a roundup of this week’s top stories across Africa and the rest of the world.

One of the most interesting political news this week in Africa, is the Nigeria 2019 elections, over 73 candidates including the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari will be in the race to occupy the Number one seat in Nigeria. The Nigeria’s Presidential and National Assembly elections are scheduled for Feb. 16, 2019 while the Governorship and State Assembly elections are slated for March 2, 2019. A total voting population of 84,004,084 will decide the fates of these candidates.

At the National Assembly level which is the legislative arm, The 109 Senate seats will be contested by 1,904 candidates, while the 360 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested by a total of 4,680 candidates while the 991 State Constituency elections will be contested by a total of 14,583 candidates. Read more: INEC Reassures Nigerians on Election Arrangements

In another news, the EU is calling for Venezuela to hold fresh elections while the US has already recognised Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s interim president. In a similar vein, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced a national petition drive for peace, saying “I will defend this threatened country with my life.”

Maduro made the remarks to mark National Dignity Day, the anniversary of a failed 1992 coup against late President Hugo Chavez, his predecessor.

Commenting on his Spanish counterpart’s decision to recognise opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, Maduro said if a coup were to happen, Pedro Sanchez’s hands “will be covered with blood.” Read More: Venezuelan Crisis: President Nicolas Maduro Vows to Defend Country with His Life

Other major stories includes the Congo opposition leader Martin Fayulu pronouncing his first speech during a rally since losing a disputed election, rejecting any outreach by the new president, Félix Tshisekedi, and calling for “peaceful resistance”. Fayulu told thousands of supporters who gathered in the capital of Kinshasa that he will not resort to violence as he continues to oppose what he calls a rigged election and to declare he won the vote.

He vowed to tour the vast central African nation, press the United Nations and African Union and not obey the orders of Félix Tshisekedi, “the person we have not chosen”. Read More: DR Congo Opposition Leader Calls for ‘Peaceful Resistance’ Against New President

In another news, the leader of the “Support Egypt” parliamentary majority, has affirmed that more than 120 MPs have signed a petition asking that some articles of the Egypt’s 2014 Constitution be amended.

“This goes in line with Article 226 of the constitution, that stipulates that a fifth of the total number of MPs (596) can propose constitutional amendments, and with parliament’s internal regulations (issued by Law No 1/2016),” said Al-Qasabi, adding: “In this way, MPs have exercised a constitutional right, and it is up to the people at the end to vote in favour of the amendments or reject them in a public referendum.”

Al-Qasabi said the petition will be referred to parliament’s general committee (headed by Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, and including his two deputies, the chairpersons of 25 parliamentary committees and representatives of political parties and independents) to be discussed and voted on in principle. Read More: Egypt’s Political Parties Approve Constitutional Amendments

In this week’s review, APRECON gives a brief recap of various headlines across Africa and the rest of the world. Missed this week’s top stories? Read our quick round-up.

CENTRAL AFRICA

The Ebola virus spreading fast in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has 713 confirmed and probable cases and 460 deaths. It is surpassed only by the 2014-2016 outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, in which more than 11,000 people died.

It has been six months since the start of the latest Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The WHO has said that it has controlled the outbreak, the country’s worst in history, and is working with neighbouring countries to keep the epidemic from crossing the border. Read MoreDR Congo Ebola: Over 66,000 Vaccinated

Meanwhile, Democratic Republic of Congo’s new president, Felix Tshisekedi, sought on Monday to reassure the country’s security forces that he would be as “benevolent” as his predecessor, after taking power in the country’s first-ever peaceful change of leadership.

Tshisekedi, who has no military experience, has made several overtures to the powerful security apparatus since succeeding long-term president Joseph Kabila after a bitterly-fought election.

“Do not worry about anything. You are in good hands, your supreme commander will be as benevolent towards you as his predecessor,” he told hundreds of troops and their families in a visit to the presidential guard in Kinshasa. Read More: New DRC President, Felix Tshisekedi Seeks to Reassure Security Forces

In Chad, The French army says airstrikes have destroyed some 20 pickup trucks in an armed column that had made its way from Libya deep into neighboring Chad and ignored three days of warning strikes.

A statement says the airstrikes on Tuesday and Wednesday occurred at Chad’s request and in coordination with its army, saying the raid appeared to be aimed at “destabilizing the country.” It does not say where the airstrikes occurred.

France says the armed convoy initially included some 50 pickup trucks. It is not immediately clear what has happened with the rest. A French statement on Monday had said the warning strikes “helped hinder this hostile progression and disperse the column.” Read More: Airstrikes In Chad Destroy 20 Pickup Trucks Says French Army

In another good-news for Central African Republic, A peace deal has been reached between the Central African Republic government and 14 armed groups after their first-ever direct dialogue aimed at ending years of conflict, the United Nations and African Union announced. The Peace Talks began Jan.24 in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

The agreement represents rare hope for the impoverished, landlocked nation where interreligious and intercommunal fighting has continued since 2013. Thousands of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in a conflict that has sent at least two people to the International Criminal Court.

The fighting in Central African Republic has carried the high risk of genocide, the UN has warned. Scores of mosques have been burned. Priests and other religious leaders have been killed. Many Muslims have fled the country. Read More: Central Africa: 14 Armed Groups Reach Peace Deal After Years of Fighting

NORTH AFRICA

An outbreak of swine flu in Morocco has left nine people dead in the past week, the kingdom’s health minister said. The spread of the H1N1 virus was “normal” for the time of the year, said Anas Doukkali, quoted by Morocco’s official MAP news agency.

The first death in Morocco from the influenza-type virus was reported by local media on Wednesday, since when anxious rumours have spread on social media.

H1N1 is a respiratory disease contracted through contact between humans and pigs and transmitted between people through inhalation. Read More: Swine flu Outbreak Kills 9 in Morocco

In Cairo, Egypt Death sentences were handed down to eight people convicted of attempting to assassinate Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi in 2014.

The eight were among 292 people, alleged to be Islamic State terrorists, arrested and accused of involvement in a plot to kill Sisi and former Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in Saudi Arabia during a Muslim pilgrimage.

The remaining defendants will hear preliminary verdicts on March 6. The Cairo criminal court issued the verdicts after the eight men were accused of additional crimes. They include the assassination of three judges in North Sinai in May 2016, and an attack on a Sinai hotel that killed two judges supervising parliamentary elections, two policemen and a citizen. Read More: Egyptian Court Sentences 8 to Death in Plot to Kill President Fattah Sisi

EAST AFRICA

In Somalia, at least three people were killed with more than five others wounded after a suicide car bomb exploded targeting an African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) base in the town of Bardhere, Southwestern region of Gedo, officials said.

AMISOM is a peacekeeping mission operated by the AU in Somalia with approval by the United Nations.

Bashir Hassan, a police officer in Bardhere, told Anadolu Agency over the phone that the attack was a suicide car bomb blast which targeted an African Union peacekeeping mission forces base in Bardhere town, killing 3 people including the attacker. Read More: Al-Shabaab Attack in Somalia Kills 3, 5 Injured

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa has invited opposition leaders to a meeting to draw up terms for a national dialogue, they said, following a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

More than 20 politicians who contested July’s presidential election were invited, two of whom – Lovemore Madhuku and Noah Manyika – said they would attend.

It would be the first meeting between Mnangagwa and opponents since he took power from Robert Mugabe in November 2017. Read More: Zimbabwe President, Emmerson Mnangagwa Invites Opposition for National Dialogue

In another development, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland appears to have lost all confidence in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government’s commitment to institute political reforms.

This was revealed when Britain’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Harriet Baldwin appeared before the parliamentary committee on international development where she argued for the maintenance of targeted sanctions on certain individuals as well as expanding them to include other names. Said Baldwin:

‘’Specifically, with regards to sanctions, the committee may be aware that the process of rolling over the EU (European Union) sanctions has just come up and the UK has been urging that it is not the right time for us to allow the sanctions to expire’’. Read More: United Kingdom to Keep Sanctions on Zimbabwe

The East African Community (EAC) Heads of State meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, have tasked President Yoweri Museveni to oversee the political federation process of the regional bloc.

The resolution, announced by the EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfumekeko, at the close of the 20th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State at the Arusha International Conference Centre, indicated that member states – Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda – had nominated constitutional experts to guide the federation process.

President Museveni, who is the outgoing Chairperson of the Community, handed over office to his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, with a positive projection of the Community’s future. The East African Community, said President Museveni, has woken up and is now addressing core economic issues. Read More: Uganda President, Museveni Tasked to Oversee EAC Political Federation Process

In Kenya, the incoming United States ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter has revealed President Donald Trump’s agenda for Kenya, key among it being to help Kenya fight corruption and terrorism.

While speaking to Kenyan citizens living in St. Louis, Missouri, McCarter said Trump’s administration also wants to assist Kenya to foster unity among its citizens.

The Ambassador who is expected in the country any time from now to replace Robert Godec said America is also keen to aid the country in its development projects that focus on sustainability and self-reliance. “America is a generous country but you have to always ask the question, what am I doing today that will continue if I don’t come back tomorrow,” McCarter said. Read More: US President, Donald Trump Promises to Help Kenya Fight Against Corruption, Terrorism

In Sudan, Riot police forces fired teargas canisters at hundreds of protesters in the capital, Khartoum, and Omdurman, Sudan’s second-largest city, as anti-government demonstrators are mounting pressure on President Omar al-Bashir to resign over deteriorating living conditions in the African country.

Protesters took to the streets in at least two districts of the capital and its twin city of Omdurman, across the Nile, on Monday, shouting “freedom, freedom,” but were soon confronted with dozens of riot police forces, who resorted to tear gas to break up the crowds and disrupt the rallies.

Nevertheless, witnesses said, the protesters kept rallying and shouting the “freedom, peace, justice” rallying cry of an anti-government campaign that erupted on December 17 last year over price hikes and shortages of food and fuel. Read More: Sudanese Riot Police Target Anti-Government Protesters With Tear Gas

SOUTH AFRICA

The UK is seeking closer ties with South Africa, working closely with Cyril Ramaphosa’s government on the imploding economic and political situation in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, pivoting on SA’s influence as an economic powerhouse in the region.

This follows a two-day visit to South Africa by the UK’s Africa Minister, Harriett Baldwin earlier this month, building up on another visit by British Prime Minister, Theresa May in 2018. Last week’s trip to SA by Baldwin was preceded by a visit to Mozambique.

The two African trips come at a time Zimbabwe has been pressing for a bail-out loan from its southern neighbours. However, South Africa’s treasury department has said it is not in a position to advance any funding to Zimbabwe despite pressure from some politicians in the country such as EFF leader, Julius Malema.

The UK Africa Minister has now revealed that the UK is working with Ramaphosa’s government on solutions for Zimbabwe. Read More: UK Seeks South Africa’s Help in Zimbabwe, DRC Rescue Mission

WEST AFRICA 

With Nigeria as the focus for this week review in West Africa due to the build up to its elections, here are few news reports that might interest you.

The Nigerian Army effected new postings and appointments of some of its senior officers. Brigadier General Sani Usman, Director of Army Public Relations, made the announcement in a statement earlier this week.

Those affected included, Major General AA Tarfa, who has been posted from Headquarters of Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery, to Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership Peacekeeping Centre, as Commandant, Major General M Mohammed, from 1 Division Nigerian Army, to Headquarters, Nigerian Army Signals Corps and appointed Corps Commander.

Major General CT Olukoju, the erstwhile Signal Corps Commander, has been appointed Director General of the newly created Nigerian Army Simulation Centre (NASIMC) with Headquarters in Abuja. Major General US Yakubu has been posted to Headquarters of Nigerian Army Corps of Artillery and appointed Corps Commander. Read More: Nigerian Army Redeploys Senior Officers

Ahead of the February 16 presidential election, a former President of the United States of America, Bill Clinton, is reportedly planning to visit Nigeria. Mr Clinton is expected to arrive in Nigeria a day before the presidential elections.

The report also said Mr Clinton would return to his country the same day after the meetings to allow the two political leaders cast their votes. Read More: Nigerian Elections: Bill Clinton to Meet Buhari, Atiku

In a similar vein, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Head of ECOWAS Observer Mission to Nigeria and former Liberian President has promised to help ensure that the election process in Nigeria was peaceful and successful.

Sirleaf made the promise when she was received by the Vice-President of ECOWAS Commission, Mrs Finda Koroma, at the Presidential Wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, on Tuesday.

She was also received by other members of the commission and some representatives of the ECOWAS Parliament. On her mission to Nigeria, she said: “I hope to meet with political leaders, I want to be able to understand the role I have to play to make sure that I am well prepared to carry out the function. Read More: 2019 Election: ECOWAS Arrives Nigeria, Reveals Plan for Election

Meanwhile in another controversial news, Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has alleged that presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar is an “indigene” of Cameroon.

Kanu stated this on Saturday during his live broadcast from London, UK. The IPOB leader further blamed Atiku for the failure of Alex Ekwueme. Kanu said: “Some of you do not understand that the person behind the failure of Ekwueme in 1999 during PDP convention was Atiku

“Do you know that Atiku Abubakar is from Cameroon? His area of Adamawa was in Cameroon. Kanu, however, warned Nigerians against voting in the forthcoming 2019 election. “By voting, all you are doing is perpetuating the misery of our people. Read More: “Atiku is From Cameroon” Says Nnamdi Kanu, Tells Govt Way to Stop Boycott of 2019 Election

REST OF THE WORLD

U.N. Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday that there has been a “quantum leap” in relations between the world body and the African Union and he hopes this can translate into progress on some of the continent’s biggest challenges.

“I am totally committed to the cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations,” Guterres told VOA in an interview at U.N. headquarters Tuesday before he heads to Addis Ababa for this weekend’s AU summit. “We are working more and more together in addressing a number of situations in Africa.”

He pointed to Tuesday’s breakthrough on the Central African Republic — the government and 14 armed groups initialed a deal to end five years of fighting during peace talks in Sudan.

Guterres also expressed optimism that efforts to end protracted crises in Libya and South Sudan could make progress this year.

“Our own objective is to make Africa overcome its difficulties, to make Africa a continent of hope, to make Africa a continent of the future, to make Africa a pillar of the world in which we live — not seen as a problem, but seen as an opportunity,” he said. Read More: There Is ‘Wind of Hope’ in Africa Says UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

Brazil’s aircraft maker, Embraer said this week that it has finalized a contract to sell 12 light attack aircraft to Nigeria’s air force.

Embraer’s military aircraft division said in a statement it and a partner firm making electronic systems, Sierra Nevada Corporation of the United States, had sealed the order from Nigeria for the A-29 Super Tucano planes, which are to be made in the United States.

The contract had been mooted for some time but was reportedly stalled by lack of US authorization. A specialist website, defenceWeb, said last year the deal was worth $329 million. It said associated weaponry, including guided bombs and rockets, might be acquired under separate contracts. Read More: Brazil to Sell 12 Military Aircraft to Nigeria

Theresa May is expected to return to Brussels later to press EU leaders for legally binding changes to the Brexit deal.

The PM will insist the UK will not be “trapped” in the backstop – the plan to avoid the return of Irish border checks should no UK-EU trade deal be in place.

She will say the deal must change if it is to win the support of MPs who urged her to seek “alternative arrangements” when rejecting the deal last month. However, the EU has repeatedly ruled out changing the withdrawal agreement.

And Mrs May’s visit is being overshadowed by the row over Wednesday’s outburst by Donald Tusk, who declared there was a “special place in hell” for those who campaigned for Brexit without a plan to deliver it. MPs who backed Leave in the 2016 referendum reacted with anger to the comments, accusing the European Council president of “arrogance”.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has set out five demands for his party to support a Brexit deal – calling for them to be enshrined as objectives in domestic law. In a letter to the prime minister, he said Labour wants a UK-wide customs union, close alignment with the single market, “dynamic alignment” on rights and protections, “clear commitments” on participation in EU agencies and funding programmes and “unambiguous agreements” on the detail of future security arrangements. Read More: Brexit: Theresa May To EU, UK Will Not Be ‘Trapped’ In Backstop

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