CW 29/2021: Conspiracy?
Press Review 17 July 2021 to 23 July 2021

Assassination attempt on Madagassy president prevented 

The Attorney General of Madagascar announced on Thursday morning that local security authorities had foiled an attempt on the life of President Andry Rajoelina. According to Berthine Razafiarivony, a group of six people allegedly planned to assassinate several senior Malagasy figures, including President Andry Rajoelina. The suspects were arrested on Tuesday as part of an investigation into threats to state security. Two French nationals are said to be among those arrested. According to the authorities, the targeted arrests were preceded by months of investigations in which the police gathered information about the specific plans for the attack. During the island state’s Independence Day celebrations on 26 June, local security forces had already announced that they had foiled an attempt on the life of Security Secretary Richard Ravalomanana. The general is considered a close confidant of the incumbent president, who has been in office again since January 2019. He previously served as the Southeast African country’s head of state from 2009 to 2014 after ousting former president Marc Ravalomanana from office with the help of the military. While both Ravalomanana and Rajoelina refrained from running in the 2013 elections after AU-led negotiations, the two long-time opponents ran against each other again in the last elections. In December 2018, Rajoelina won the power struggle with a narrow majority in the run-off for the highest office in the state. In recent months, the 47-year-old has attracted attention for his crackdown on the media and press. In April, nine television and radio stations were closed down, citing threats to national security. In addition to the politically unstable situation, the country is currently severely affected by the Corona pandemic and its economic consequences. Strict lockdown regulations have been in place for over a year. In addition, there is a steadily worsening famine in the south of the country. According to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), about 400.000 people in Madagascar are currently at acute risk of starvation due to a prolonged drought.


Tanzania’s opposition leader Freeman Mbowe detained

Tanzania’s opposition leader Freeman Mbowe was arrested with fifteen other party members in Mwanza on Tuesday night, according to his party, Chadema (Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, Party for Democracy and Progress). While the other party members were detained in Mwanza itself, the whereabouts of the leader of the country’s largest opposition party initially remained unknown. On Thursday, Chadema announced that Mbowe was being held in custody in Dar es Salaam. Tanzanian police have since confirmed the arrest. They accuse Mbowe of planning the assassination of Tanzanian government officials – he is facing terrorism charges. According to the police, six of those arrested have already been brought before a judge and charged with terrorist acts. Chadema sees the real reason behind the arrests in the party’s campaign for a reform of Tanzania’s more than 40-year-old constitution. The party had also planned to hold a rally in Mwanza in favour of constitutional reform, but it was banned, citing the Covid 19 pandemic, and Mbowe and his fellow campaigners have now been arrested. The arrests come four months after President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office as head of state following the sudden death of her predecessor, John Magufuli. The first signs of her term in office pointed to a relaxation of the hitherto autocratic style of government and the implementation of political reforms. There were also growing hopes for more freedom for the opposition. At the end of June, the Supreme Court in Dar es Salaam acquitted Freeman Mbowe of various political charges. The opposition interprets his current arrest as a sign that the new president is following the course of her predecessor. The former Chadema presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu, called for nationwide protests and the international isolation of the regime from his self-imposed exile in Belgium via social media. Amnesty International also called the arrests arbitrary and demanded the immediate release of all detainees.


In other news 

The Al Ahly football club from the Egyptian capital Cairo has won the African Football Champions League for the tenth time. In the final played in front of an empty crowd in Casablanca, the Al Ahly team defeated South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs 3-0, the Egyptian defending champions benefiting from their second-half superiority after an opponent was sent off just before the break. Before the clash with his favourite childhood club, Al Ahly’s South African coach Pitso Mosimane had openly admitted his inner conflict. Moreover, the record holders of the continental competition also play a significant political role in their own country. Al Ahly’s ultras were instrumental in the protests against the long-time ruler Husny Mubarak during the Arab Spring, and as part of civil society they are now affected by immense state repression.

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