CW 27/2022: Comeback of democracy?
Press Review 1 July 2022 to 8 July 2022

Announcements by the Sudanese military meet with resistance

On Monday evening, Sudanese ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan appeared before the cameras on state television and announced the military’s intention to withdraw from the national dialogue facilitated by IGAD, AU and UN (Trilateral Mechanism). Civilian forces are to form a new transitional government, after which the military-led Transitional Sovereignty Council was to be dissolved. What at first glance sounds like a return to a democratic transition was greeted with huge scepticism within the democracy movement and seen as a tactical manoeuvre. The national dialogue that began in June faltered anyway, as the Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change and the local resistance committees responsible for organising mass protests have been rejecting any negotiations with the military and continue to demonstrate for the army’s complete withdrawal from politics. Regular protests have been taking place in Sudan since the military coup in October last year, even after the lifting of the state of emergency at the end of May (press review CW 22/2022). Only last week, another mass protest was violently surpressed by security forces, resulting in 9 deaths and 630 injured. Accordingly, the announced establishment of a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in particular is causing the democracy movement to reject al-Burhan’s plans. After the formation of a civilian transitional government, this new council would consist of members of both the state military and General Mohammed Hamdan Daglo’s controversial paramilitary Rapid Support Forces group, and would take on important tasks related to security and defence, including control of the central bank and the maintenance of diplomatic relations. Against this backdrop, civilian forces called for a clear condemnation of al-Burhan’s move by international dispute mediators, led by IGAD. While the regional organisation did not heed this call at a summit in Nairobi on Thursday, the Trilateral Mechanism announced a temporary halt to the national dialogue due to the military’s withdrawal from the talks. Meanwhile, the democracy movement is calling for further civil disobedience. At the same time, the different parts of the movement said they would come together to draft a joint constitutional declaration to set the course for a real transition to democracy.

New ECOWAS decisions on Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea

Last Sunday, the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) met in Ghana’s capital Accra to reassess efforts to provide guarantees for the restoration of civilian government in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. After the last ECOWAS summit a month ago passed without concrete results (press review week 23/2022), the economic alliance of 15 states now agreed to lift far-reaching sanctions against Mali, approved the transitional timetable presented for Burkina Faso and granted Guinea an additional one-month deadline to present an “acceptable” timetable. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, head of the ECOWAS Commission, justified the lifting of sanctions against Mali with the newly published plans of the military junta. According to these plans, a referendum on constitutional amendments is to take place in March 2023, parliamentary elections have been scheduled for the end of next year and presidential elections are to be held in February 2024. In addition to lifting sanctions, ECOWAS also decided to reopen border crossings with Mali and to allow diplomats from its member states to return to Bamako. Despite the easing, sanctions against individuals remain in place and the Sahel state’s membership in the economic alliance continues to be suspended. On Mali’s neighbour Burkina Faso, the summit welcomed the military junta’s proposal to hold a constitutional referendum in December 2024 and to hold parliamentary and presidential elections in February 2025. The release on Saturday of the former head of state Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who was overthrown in January, was seen by the summit participants as a positive signal that would allow them to ease the sanctions imposed. Burkina Faso’s membership in the Alliance, however, would also remain suspended. Guinea would also remain excluded from the organisation and all existing sanctions imposed by the ECOWAS alliance would be maintained, Kassi Brou announced after the summit. He said the junta had failed to present an acceptable plan with the proposed 36-month transition period and had rejected mediation by ECOWAS. Also during the summit, Umaro Sissoco Embalo, President of Guinea-Bissau, was elected as the new chair of the regional organisation, succeeding Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. The next summit and reassessment of the political situation of the three countries is scheduled to take place in Abuja, Nigeria, at a date yet to be confirmed.

On our own behalf

On Wednesday, the German Africa Foundation and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce hosted a summer reception in honour of the African diplomatic corps. The reception facilitated a free exchange between the approximately 120 participants from the African diplomatic corps and German politics and business in a friendly atmosphere. In the context of the reception, the discussion “Together into the Future? The G7 Summit and Africa” took place. Dr. Jörg Kukies, State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery and G7 Sherpa, H.E. Cheikh Tidiane Sall, Ambassador of the Republic of Senegal and Dr. Christian Buck, Head of Directorate- General 3 in the Federal Foreign Office, who stood in for the indisposed Minister of State Katja Keul at short notice, openly discussed the results of the G7 Summit and its impact on German-African relations. A need for further discussion became apparent, particularly with regard to the implementation of the initiatives adopted at the G7 Summit (press review week 26/2022) as well as the core question of solutions for Africa’s energy needs.

In other news

Shortly after its implementation as an official working language of the African Union in February 2022, the Ugandan cabinet decided on Tuesday to introduce Kiswahili as an official language of the country, hence implementing an East African Community (EAC) directive of February 2021. After the respective subject has already been mandatory in Ugandan secondary schools since 2017, it is now to become compulsory for primary students. In addition, training programmes are planned for members of parliament, cabinet and the media. Kiswahili is the most widely used African language on the continent, spoken by 200 million people, making it one of the ten most widely spread languages in the world. It emerged from the Arab slave trade and was used as the administrative language of German East Africa. While Kiswahili is already officially established in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, it was long associated with Idi Amin’s violent dictatorship (1971 – 1979) and thus regarded as a language of the military.

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