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Category Archives: Africa

The quiet way to derail a revolution

The month long sit-in of Sudan’s revolutionaries has carved a small district out of the centre of Khartoum, with its barricades, tents, art corner, transport system bringing fresh cohorts, and sound system.

The Youth of the Tunnel beating the rails of a railway bridge above and irons sheets below have become a sort of metronome for the revolution.

They refuse to leave until the armed forces hand power to a civilian government and are prepared to endure oven temperatures during Ramadan to keep the pressure up.

But it is the quieter sounds and backstage meetings that also matter.

Crushing the revolution

Last week, a joint Saudi-Emirati delegation was reported to have arrived in Khartoum for meetings with members of Sudan’s transitional military council, although the names of members of the delegation have not been officially made public.

In Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. the Emiratis and Saudis have sought to crush popular uprisings against long-entrenched leaders and the systems that they serve.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/sudan-quiet-way-derail-revolution

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Posted by on May 24, 2019 in Africa, Uncategorized

 

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Freedom Day in South Africa – a reminder of unfinished business

South Africans celebrate Freedom Day on April 27 every year to mark the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. A quarter of a century later, though, questions remain: how much and whose freedom is to be celebrated?

The differing answers among voters might affect the results of the national elections on May 8.

South Africans can still not celebrate freedom from want. They are painfully aware that one cannot eat democracy. Formal political equality is rightly celebrated as an achievement by those who suffered under dictatorship, minority rule and other forms of oppressive regimes that denied them basic rights. But democracy doesn’t put food on the table. Nor does it provide decent shelter or secure a dignified living.

Former US President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous 1941 speech to Congress identified four freedoms: those of speech, of worship, from want and from fear.

https://theconversation.com/freedom-day-in-south-africa-a-reminder-of-unfinished-business-115655

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2019 in Africa

 

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Revolutionaries in the Middle East have learnt crucial lessons since the Arab Spring


Two very different political waves are sweeping through the Middle East and north Africa. Popular protests are overthrowing the leaders of military regimes for the first time since the failed Arab Spring of 2011. At the same time, dictators are seeking to further monopolise power by killing, jailing or intimidating opponents who want personal and national liberty.

Dictators in Sudan and Algeria, who between them had held power for 50 years, were driven from office in the space of a single month in April, though the regimes they headed are still there. The ousting of Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, now under arrest, came after 16 weeks of protests. Hundreds of thousands continue to demonstrate, chanting “civilian rule, civilian rule” and “we will remain in the street until power is handed over to civilian authority”. 

The protesters are conscious of one of the “what not to do” lessons of 2011, when mass demonstrations in Egypt got rid of President Hosni Mubarak, only to see him replaced two years later by an even more authoritarian dictatorship led by General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. A referendum is to be held over three days from this Saturday on constitutional amendments that will enable el-Sisi to stay in power until 2030. 

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/arab-spring-sudan-algeria-protests-dictators-uprisings-egypt-a8878236.html

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2019 in Africa

 

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Keep your eye on these two critical dynamics in Algeria and Sudan

The ongoing street demonstrations in Algeria and Sudan and the high-level changes in leadership they have sparked include political developments that are very different from the Arab Uprisings of 2010-11 (the so-called “Arab Spring”). We should watch two dynamics, in particular, to find out if this is genuinely a historic moment of change, or another re-run of previous uprisings and some toppled leaders of Arab authoritarian states that did not fundamentally change how power is exercised or how citizens are treated.

The two dynamics to watch are: 1) the demonstrators’ insistence that the entire political leadership and its security appendages be removed or reformed, rather than just deposing the president; and that they be replaced by a civilian authority to assume power across the government, without any disproportionate role for the military and security agencies in governance; and, 2) the early discussions about holding accountable those across the power structure, and not just in government, that should be charged with crimes against the citizenry, abuse of power, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

These dynamics represent an important new dimension to Arab popular rebellions against authoritarian rule; they are being implemented to some degree already, and should not be brushed aside as romantic wishes of naive young men and women. In the last two weeks, in both countries, demonstrators and citizens at home who support them have learned to focus the immense immediate energy of their collective power on the one issue that has been the single most important impediment to decent governance and sustainable and equitable human development in the Arab region over the past half century: the absolute power of military and security officers who seized executive authority in Arab countries starting as early as the 1936 coup by General Bakr Sidqi in Iraq and the 1952 coup in Egypt led by Gamal Abdel Nasser and fellow officers.

https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/keep-your-eye-these-two-critical-dynamics-algeria-and-sudan

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Africa

 

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I saw the brutality of Bashir’s regime. Now Sudan can rediscover a lost identity

More than 20 years ago, I hid in a Khartoum University toilet stall with three other students. We held our scarves over our noses to limit the stench, as well as the teargas that was streaming through the doors. A student union election had not gone the way the government liked, and soon the campus was stormed by security forces armed with batons and gas grenades. At one point, security pickup trucks drove around campus apprehending students at random and beating them.

Eventually the campus was cleared, and we ventured out, retching. I remember, as we tried to make our way home down the Nile on the north side of the campus, a long stream of choking, crying and coughing students. Security officers stood in the street, randomly striking students with sticks and batons, meting out humiliating insults as they did. When I walked past, one struck a male student on the back. He teetered. “Where are the heroes?” mocked the officer, as he beat the student again. “I thought you were heroes?” The young man took the blows and never looked back as he walked away.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/12/bashir-regime-sudan-identity-khartoum-arab-dictator

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Africa

 

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Sudan transition: Will protesters and military reach agreement?

It took nearly four months of vigorous street protests across Sudan to trigger an army takeover that ended Omar al-Bashir‘s 30-year authoritarian rule. But it took the same protesters a mere 24 hours to get al-Bashir’s replacement taken down. 

On Friday evening, General Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf named Lieutenant General Abdelfattah al-Burhan to head the country’s ruling military council – Sudan’s third leader in as many days following al-Bashir’s overthrow on Thursday.

The departure of Ibn Auf, a close aide of al-Bashir, set off a wave of celebrations in the capital, Khartoum, including among the thousands who had defied a military-imposed curfew to keep converging outside a huge complex housing the army headquarters and the president’s residence.

“It fell again, it fell again,” chanted the protesters, who had denounced Ibn Auf’s announcement for the establishment of a two-year transitional military council as nothing but a “farce” that robbed them of their “revolution”.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/sudan-transition-protesters-military-reach-agreement-190414135158735.html

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2019 in Africa

 

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WWF Funds Guards Who Have Tortured And Killed People

Down the road from the crocodile ponds inside Nepal’s renowned Chitwan National Park, in a small clearing shaded by sala trees, sits a jail. Hira Chaudhary went there one summer night with boiled green maize and chicken for her husband, Shikharam, a farmer who had been locked up for two days.

Shikharam was in too much pain to swallow. He crawled toward Hira, his thin body covered in bruises, and told her through sobs that forest rangers were torturing him. “They beat him mercilessly and put saltwater in his nose and mouth,” Hira later told police.

The rangers believed that Shikharam helped his son bury a rhinoceros horn in his backyard. They couldn’t find the horn, but they threw Shikharam in their jail anyway, court documents filed by the prosecution show.

Nine days later, he was dead.

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tomwarren/wwf-world-wide-fund-nature-parks-torture-death

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2019 in Africa, Asia, Reportages

 

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Arab Spring, Again? Nervous Autocrats Look Out Windows as Crowds Swell

In Sudan, tens of thousands of demonstrators are sitting in to demand the ouster of their longtime ruler.

In Algeria, millions of protesters forced out their own octogenarian leader last week.

And in Libya, an aging general is battling to establish himself as a new strongman, promising to end the chaos that kicked off when Libyans threw out their own dictator eight years ago.

The hopes inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 soured long ago. But across North Africa, the reverberations are coursing through the region once again, shaking autocratic governments and posing new questions about the future.

Veterans of the Arab Spring struggles say the scenes feel like flashbacks to chapters of a common story. The masses now clamoring for the removal of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan evoke the crowds that gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo or outside the Tunisian interior ministry eight years ago.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2019 in Africa, Middle East

 

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Libya: Detained refugees ‘terrified’ as clashes near Tripoli rage

As fighting between rival forces rages on the outskirts of the Libyan capital, thousands of refugees and migrants locked up in detention centres inside Tripoli say they are terrified of what might happen to them.

Renegade General Khalifa Haftar on Thursday ordered his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which is allied to a parallel administration in the east, to march on Tripoli, the seat of the country’s internationally recognised government which is protected by an array of militias.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/libya-detained-refugees-terrified-clashes-tripoli-rage-190407172920412.html

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2019 in Africa

 

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The backstory to Hifter’s march on Tripoli

All Arab civil wars are not created equal. Libya has been in a state of civil war for five years now, yet it hasn’t been a civil war full of massacres or famines like the sectarian wars in Yemen and Syria. Libya’s war has certain highly unusual characteristics: low death tolls, high diffusion of arms, two governments (both of whom claim sovereignty but do not actually exercise it), extreme fragmentation of fighting forces, and the same central bank paying the fighters on all sides.

From a military perspective, the defining characteristic of Libya’s war relates to how territory is captured. Where there have been protracted pitched battles, usually against jihadists, exchange of territory happens slowly and destructively. Conversely, where there have been huge gains and losses of territory, it usually transpires with groups being bought off to switch their allegiances, or with one force marching its column of technicals across a highway and the other side running away with nary a shot being fired. What does this say for the prospects to resolve Libya’s civil war militarily, as one actor is now trying to do?

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/04/libya-khalifa-hifter-offensive-tripoli.html

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2019 in Africa

 

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