This Week in Review: Uganda-Rwanda Border Crisis, Algeria’s Unrest, Omar Al-Bashir’s Dilemma, US 2020 Elections Top this Week News

Alao Abiodun
20% Complete
 09-Mar-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.

Last week, Rwanda closed its border leaving hundreds of stranded trucks ferrying goods from Uganda and Kenya. Some of the perishable goods including bananas, mangoes and tomatoes rotted, leading traders to heavy financial losses.

This week started with one of the fiercest diplomatic spats between Rwanda and Uganda playing out on social media. The Ugandan government rejected accusations on Tuesday by Rwanda that it closed its borders because Uganda is hosting forces bent on destabilizing Kigali.

Meanwhile, the Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Dr. Richard Sezibera spoke to reporters in Kigali on Tuesday and said his country is concerned about people in Uganda who allegedly support the Rwanda National Congress led by renegade Rwandan Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa, based in South Africa.

He said many Rwandans have been arrested in Uganda and are languishing in prisons without the opportunity to be seen by Rwanda’s ambassador. A statement issued Tuesday by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa said it is not true that Uganda is supporting Rwanda’s enemies. Read More: Uganda Rejects Claims From Rwanda on Closing Border

Other major stories includes; At the Africa Health Agenda International Conference, which took place in Kigali, Rwanda, Hon. Marie-Chantal Rwakazina, Mayor of the City of Kigali, has called for prioritising women’s health in plans for Universal Health Coverage across Africa

“Gender inequality denies women and girls much-needed access to health services. When we developed Rwanda’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) framework, we were mindful of creating gender-centric policies that address barriers in women’s right to health care,” said Hon. Rwakazina.

The 3-day conference was co-hosted by Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and Amref Health Africa, to discuss the progress made toward UHC in Africa and accelerate indigenous solutions to address some of the continent’s greatest health challenges.

The conference brought together over 1,500 participants, including health ministers, private sector and civil society leaders, representatives from multilateral organisations, media and vital voices from 49 countries. Read More: African Leaders Commit To Bold Targets And Urgent Action To Advance Universal Health Coverage

Meanwhile, Egypt is looking to enhance archaeological cooperation with China after a team of Chinese experts began restoration work at an ancient temple in Luxor last year, an Egyptian minister said.

The Chinese mission from the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) started work on a joint project at the site of the Temple of Montu, north of the famous Karnak Temple Complex in Luxor, in October 2018.

Egypt, known for its rich ancient past, hosts close to 250 international missions on a number of excavation sites across the country. Read More: Egypt Seeks Enhancing Archaeological Cooperation With China

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

In Cameroon, the ex-Defence minister Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o, often touted as as a possible successor to he long-serving President Paul Biya, has been remanded in prison over corruption allegations.

The Special Criminal Court in Yaoundé ordered that Mr Mebe Ngo’o be remanded at the Kondengui Maximum Security Prison while investigations continue into an alleged corruption and embezzlement case against him.

Mr Mebe Ngo’o, who had earlier been barred from leaving the country, was at the special criminal court on Tuesday for the second grilling in less than a month. Eye witnesses said he was in tears as he was being whisked from the court to prison.

Prior to his appointment as Defence minister in 2009, Mr Mebe Ngo’o served as Delegate-General for National Security (National Police Boss) for five years. After six years at the helm of the ministry of Defence, he was appointed Transport minister in 2015 in what critics described as a demotion. Read More: Cameroon’s Ex-Defence, Edgard Alain Mebe Ngo’o Minister Detained

The World Health Organization (WHO) says the deadly Ebola virus is likely to spread in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo because of deteriorating security in conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces. The latest WHO figures put the number of Ebola cases at 885, including 555 deaths.

International efforts to stop the spread of the deadly Ebola virus in eastern DR Congo have hit a serious roadblock. The charity Doctors Without Borders has suspended its life-saving operations. The action follows attacks on two of its Ebola treatment centers this week — the first on February 24 in Katwa, followed by an attack three days later in Butembo.

The World Health Organization called the attacks deplorable and said there is a great risk of the spread of the disease. During the attack on the facility in Butembo, four Ebola patients fled for their lives.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said three of the patients have since returned, while one is still missing. Read More: Ebola Likely to Spread in Eastern DRC as Security Worsens

NORTH AFRICA

Egyptian photographer, Mahmoud Abu Zeid, the most high-profiled journalist imprisoned by Egypt, was released Monday after more than five years in jail for what human rights groups say was simply doing his job covering anti-government protests.

A picture of a smiling Abu Zeid, widely known as Shawkan, with his father and brother was posted on a family-run Twitter account shortly after his release with the hashtag #Shawkan_is_Free.

“Thank God that it is over,” declared Taher Abolnasr, his lawyer. “I pray to God that things become easier for him from now on and his life gets better.”

For years, human rights groups, the United Nations, journalist organizations and legions of supporters have waged a campaign to release Shawkan. He became a visible symbol of the ongoing authoritarianism of President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who has jailed tens of thousands of opponents and critics of his regime, including many journalists. Read More: Renowned Egyptian Photojournalist, Mahmoud Abu Zeid Released after More Than 5 Years in Prison

Tunisian coast guards have apprehended off Kelibia, in the governorate of Nabeul, 34 migrants aboard a fishing vessel who were trying to reach Italy’s coasts, Tunisia’s interior ministry said.

The ministry did not mention the nationality of the migrants, who were arrested and indicted on attempted illegal emigration charges. Read More: Tunisia Foils Illegal Migration Attempts to Italy

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir sacked Central Bank Governor Mohamed al-Zubair, a statement from the presidency said on Wednesday.

Bashir appointed Zubair’s deputy Hussein Yehia Janqool to replace him, the statement said without providing further details. Read Also: Sudan President, Bashir Appoints New Central Bank Governor – Presidency

EAST AFRICA

Kenya’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta has called on African leaders to prioritise and fast-track integration processes for the continent to develop quicker. The President said the current leaders need to learn from founding fathers and unite the people in order to achieve this goal.

President Kenyatta further called for the removal of all systemic barriers that hinder the blossoming of people-to-people relations in Africa. “We need to build on the warm relations between our governments and include our populations so as to foster interactions,” he said.

President Kenyatta said that for Africa to defeat ignorance, diseases and poverty, challenges that have suppressed the continent for decades must be addressed by a united force. “Our people should be [allowed] to travel throughout their continent freely without any hindrances. We are all brothers and sisters with a common heritage,” he said. Read More: Kenya President, Uhuru Pushes for African Integration, Removal of Social Barriers

Meanwhile, Zambian authorities earlier this week, suspended a broadcast licence for a Lusaka-based private TV station deemed to be anti-government.

The Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) said the suspension of Prime TV was with immediate effect and would last 30 days.

IBA board secretary Josephine Mapoma told reporters that; “the IBA has found that the station exhibited unprofessional elements in its broadcasting through unbalanced coverage, opinionated news and material likely to incite violence using derogatory language”.

During the suspension, Prime TV was expected to conduct in-house training on basic journalism ethics and news script writing, she said. Read More: Zambian Authorities Shut Private TV Station For Anti-Government Activities

In another news, the United Nations (UN) has called for peaceful and credible elections in Malawi as the country is preparing for the May 21 Tripartite Elections that will decide the democratic future of the country.

The call was made by UN Emergency Relief coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Mark Lowcock when he met President Peter Mutharika at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe at the weekend.

“This is an election year for Malawi. I believe Malawi will remain a model in conducting free, fair and peaceful elections in this African region. Elections are always contested but that should be done in a peaceful manner,” said Lowcok.

“Malawi is among the first countries in Africa to manage peaceful transition of power from one ruling government to another after elections, so it is our expectation that this will continue.” Read More: Malawi: UN Urges Peaceful, Credible Elections in May

Due to the developing impasse, Religious leaders have appealed for dialogue as a measure to resolve the weeklong stand-off between Uganda and Rwanda that culminated in the closure of the border between the two countries.

Under their umbrella body, the Inter Religious Council of Uganda, the clerics describing themselves as ‘ardent advocates of dialogue’, asked the heads of the two states “to sit at a round table and find a lasting solution to the underlying misunderstandings.”

“We are certain that a number of channels still exist to resolve this conflict. These include preventive diplomacy spearheaded by two ministers of foreign affairs, the East African Conflict Management Act of 2012, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and the Peace and Security (PSC) of the African Union (AU),” said Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubaje, the IRC Chairperson.

Addressing the media in Kampala, Sheikh Mubaje also the head of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council warned that the conflict between two East African countries has far-reaching effects on the region and entire continent. Read More: Clerics, Activists Call for Dialogue to Resolve Uganda-Rwanda Border Row 

SOUTH AFRICA

In South Africa, the Marlenique Estate, a fruit farm and wedding venue just outside of Franschhoek, has unveiled Africa’s first state-of-the-art floating solar PV system.

New South Energy was the company in charge of the installation, which was built on the farm’s dam to generate clean energy while minimising the dam’s evaporation rate and saving valuable agricultural land space.

This system marks the first commercially-operated floating solar system on the African continent as well as the largest, at 60kWp. The floats for the solar panels are made of high-density polyethylene, which is recyclable and highly resistant to UV exposure and corrosion, giving the units more than a 20-year lifespan and preventing the contamination of the water.

Economic Opportunities Minister Beverley Schäfer says, “This project has looked at some of the key sustainability issues we are facing in agriculture and the economy today – water and energy – and has attempted to find solutions”. Read More: South Africa Launches Africa’s First Floating Solar Farm

In another news, South Africa Petrol consumers are in shock over the price of petrol which was increased by 74 cents a litre this week.

The Department of Energy earlier this week announced fuel hikes of 74 cents a litre for both grades of petrol 93 (ULP and LRP) and 95 (ULP and LRP).

In its statement, the department also announced increment for Diesel 0.05% sulphur by 91 cent, while Diesel 0.005% sulphur went up by 93 cents a litre.

As of Wednesday, a litre of 95 ULP cost motorists in Gauteng R14.82, up from the R14.08 a litre in February. This is the second hike in the petrol price since December 2018. Read More: South Africa’s Petrol Prices to Increase on Wednesday

WEST AFRICA 

The Central Bank Of Nigeria, CBN has refuted claims that the Governor of the bank, Godwin Emefiele has been fired by the Nigerian Government.

This week, the Nigerian media was awash with reports of Emefiele’s Sack with many making wild guesses about the government’s reason for making such a decision just barely a week after its Presidential Elections.

However, in a telephone conversation today, Spokesman of the apex bank, Isaac Okoroafor debunked the rumour saying that the governor was in his office carrying out his daily duties. Read More: Nigeria: Presidency Denies Sacking of Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele

The United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is set to support the federal government of Nigeria to provide access to education for over a million children and adolescents affected by conflicts in the North-east.

The support is coming on the heels of aid of €15 million received from the German Government. UNICEF in a statement yesterday said: “The German Government has announced a new contribution of 15 million euros to UNICEF Nigeria to support the provision of quality and equitable basic education and strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable communities, especially children, in Adamawa and Yobe States.

“Provided through the German Government’s Development Bank – Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), this new contribution will enable UNICEF to support the Government of Nigeria to provide 1,060,000 conflict-affected children and adolescents with increased access to quality education in a safe and healthy learning environment”.

The statement quoted UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Mohamed Fall as saying: “All children, regardless of their situation, must be supported to access all their basic rights.”

He added that: “Investing in education is perhaps the best investment any nation can make for its children,” noting that: “This investment (by the German Government) is timely, as it comes at a moment when we are redoubling our efforts to improve both access and quality of education for conflict-affected children.” Read More: Boko Haram: UNICEF to Provide Education for Over 1 Million Children in North-East

REST OF THE WORLD

In North Korea, an estimated 11 million people – over 43 per cent of the population – are undernourished and that “chronic food insecurity and malnutrition is widespread”, according to a United Nations report.

The report, issued by Tapan Mishra, head of the UN office in North Korea, said “widespread undernutrition threatens an entire generation of children, with one in five children stunted due to chronic undernutrition.”

Mishra said last year’s UN appeal for US$111 million (NZ$162m) to help 6 million of North Korea’s most vulnerable people was only 24 percent funded, one of the lowest levels in the world. Read More: 11 Million People in North Korea are Undernourished, Suffering from Malnutrition Says UN

This week, Venezuela’s self-declared interim leader, Juan Guaidó returned to Caracas, risking possible arrest as he breaches his travel ban.

He told his supporters at the airport he “knows the risks” they face, and urged Venezuelans to join anti-government protests this week.

President Maduro has so far resisted all calls for him to step down as leader in favour of Mr Guaidó. Read More: Venezuela Crisis: Crowds Greet Self-Declared Interim Leader, Juan Guaidó on Return

Ahead of the US 2020 Elections, Hillary Clinton has affirmed that she won’t run for president in 2020, saying she’s “not going anywhere”.

The former secretary of state, senator and first lady ruled out another campaign during an interview posted today by New York TV station News12. Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump, says, “I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe.”

She says, “What’s at stake in our country, the kind of things that are happening right now are deeply troubling to me.” Read More: US 2020: Hillary Clinton Rules out Presidential Bid, Says She’s “Not Going Anywhere”

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