CW 12/2023: In Motion
Press Review 17 March 2023 to 24 March 2023

Monday protests in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia

In Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia, numerous anti-government protests took place on Monday. Organised by the countries’ political opposition, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the high cost of living, corruption, unemployment and other issues, despite attempts by the governments to prevent or limit the mass protests. In South Africa, which has been struggling for months with an ongoing energy crisis that is increasingly affecting the economy and society, Julius Malema, leader of the South African Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, called for the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who he blames for failed energy and economic policies. In Kenya, opposition leader Raila Odinga, who was defeated by President William Ruto in the August 2022 presidential elections, called for protests against the high cost of living, which recently continued to rise after tax increases and the government’s removal of subsidies, as well as against alleged nepotism in the Kenyan administration. He also called again for the review of last year’s presidential election, saying there were still doubts about the legitimacy of the result. Allegations of electoral fraud have also been central to protests in Nigeria since the presidential election in February this year, which was won by Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress party. Opposition members, including runner-up Atiku Abubakar, are questioning the result due to alleged irregularities in the vote count. Many protesters fear that current problems in the country, including persistent fuel shortages, inflation, currency devaluation, insecurity and the rising cost of living, will remain unresolved by the failure to transfer power. In Tunisia, where the 67th Independence Day was also celebrated on Monday, thousands of people also took to the streets again to demonstrate against the perceived autocratic rule of President Kais Saied (see also press review week 11). They demanded the resignation of President Saied, who dissolved parliament last July and has since pushed through unpopular constitutional changes. They also accused him of cracking down on dissenting politicians, trade union representatives, judges, a prominent businessman and the head of an independent radio station. In addition, the high cost of living, inflation and impunity were also prominent issues. In some cases, security forces in the respective countries used tear gas and violence against the protesters. In Kenya and South Africa, dozens of people related to the protests had already been arrested before Monday. It remains to be seen whether the demonstrations will continue on other Mondays.

Political factions agree on transitional government in Sudan

Three months after the signing of the political framework agreement on the gradual transfer of power to the civilian population (Press review 49/2022), the political factions agreed on Sunday on a timetable for the formation of a new transitional government. The Sudanese military leadership, representatives of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and civilian parties, including the largest pro-democracy group in Sudan, Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC-CC), agreed to present and sign a corresponding agreement by 11 April, Khalid Omar Yousif, spokesperson for the political process, announced on Sunday. An eleven-member committee, consisting of nine members of the civilian group, one member of the army and another of the RSF, would now work out the final agreement. A new interim constitution should also be signed in early April, he said. Following the coup d’état led by the country’s supreme general, Abdel-Fattah Burhan, in October 2021, the formation of a new government is the result of talks mediated by the West, the Gulf states and the United Nations and could restart much-needed international economic aid to Sudan, which dried up after the coup. However, key political actors, from former rebel leaders to grassroots pro-democracy networks, continue to oppose the agreement. They criticise that some of the country’s most pressing political issues, including security sector reform and the demand for transitional justice, remain unresolved. Moreover, analysts warn of a vying between the military and the paramilitary RSF for supremacy despite the agreement on a joint accord, which could lead to conflict in the long run, destabilising the country and sabotaging the population’s aspirations for democracy.

In other news

The 16th annual Afrik Fashion Week, which took place this week in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Côte d’Ivoire, brought together 30 designers and 60 models from various African countries under the slogan “Youth, Fashion and Cultural Diversity”. Besides showcasing a variety of designs, the event also provided a platform for exchange and networking among people from the fashion industry. The African fashion industry is the continent’s second largest industry after agriculture, with a market value estimated at 31 billion US dollars by 2020. The industry is experiencing increasing growth and creating employment opportunities for a large number of people, especially women and youth. In addition to popular global fashion trends, the future and growth of the fashion industry on the African continent as well as Africa as the fashion centre of tomorrow were therefore the main topics of discussion.

 

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