CW 36/2020: A Chance for a New Start
Press Review 29 August 2020 to 4 September 2020

Peace agreement in Sudan

On Monday, the Transitional Government of Sudan and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) – a coalition of several rebel groups – signed a peace agreement. The agreement aims to end civil war in the southern states of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and the Darfur region. For 17 years, the rebels there fought against the discrimination of non-Arab peoples. According to the UN, the so-called Darfur conflict has already claimed 300,000 lives and forced millions of people to flee. The peace ceremony took place in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. In 2011, South Sudan seceded from Sudan and borders on the affected regions. Since 2019, the country has been trying to mediate between the conflict parties again and again; on Monday, it finally succeeded. Unlike previous peace agreements, such as the Abuja Treaty of 2006 or the Qatar Agreement of 2010, the new agreement is not limited to security issues. Instead, fundamental conflict issues that have destabilised Sudan since its independence in 1956 are also covered. The Juba peace agreement includes agreements on land ownership, greater autonomy for the member states, the legal handling of crimes during the civil war, the return of refugees, reparations and compensation. In addition, the rebels are to be integrated into Sudan’s army. However, not all rebel groups have signed the agreement. The wing of the Darfur rebel movement, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), led by Abdulwahid al-Nur, for example, will not participate until the government promises to disarm the Janjaweed militias in Darfur. Their former leader and now second man in the state, Hamdan “Hemeti” Daglo, is leading the negotiations on the Sudanese side – another reason for individual rebel groups to boycott the treaty.  The peace agreement is a sign of all in search of an end to violence. It remains to be seen whether it will really become a historic event as announced by the parties.


Tunisian Parliament approves new government

The Tunisian Parliament has approved the government of Prime Minister-designate Hichem Mechichi – the country’s third government in less than a year. After a 15-hour meeting, which began on Tuesday, Mechichi’s cabinet was able to secure the approval of the House of Representatives. 134 of the 217 MPs voted for the new government, including members of the moderate Islamist Ennahda and the populist party Kalb Tounes. This made it possible to avoid the threatened dissolution of the parliament and new elections. The independent Mechichi succeeds Elyes Fakhfakh, whose government remained in power for only five months before he resigned as prime minister in July due to corruption scandals. Mechichi proposed a government of 25 ministers and three secretaries of state, including seven women and a blind man – a first in the country’s history. Moreover, the members of the cabinet are mostly independent technocrats, which caused resentment in the run-up to the vote among established parties. Eventually , Ennahda’s departure from the desire for a political government was decisive for the approval of Mechichi’s cabinet. The new government is taking over a country that is in deep social and economic crisis. The official unemployment rate is 18 percent and the economy, which heavily depends on tourism has shrunk by 21.6 percent compared to the same period last year due to the corona pandemic in the second quarter of 2020. In addition, a high government deficit severely limits the political room for manoeuvre. Against this background, Mechichi’s cabinet will also be responsible for resuming talks with the International Monetary Fund, whose four-year programme expired in spring.


In other news

Northflix is a still new streaming service from the North Nigerian film industry Kannywood, named after the city of Kano. During the Corona pandemic, Northflix, which costs about 4 US dollars per month, has become the main source of entertainment for the approximately 80 million Hausa speakers in West Africa. As a result, the service provider, which was only launched in 2019, has doubled the number of subscriptions since curfew and tripled its turnover. Kannywood itself has grown from seven production companies to 502 companies and 97 studios since it was founded in 1992. Like Nollywood, Kannywood deals mainly with themes such as love, betrayal and revenge, but unlike the much better-known film industry from the predominantly Christian south, it does so in accordance with Islamic standards.

Event notice

This year, the KENAKO Africa Festival will not take place on Berlin’s Alexanderplatz as usual, but instead there will be numerous events both digitally and on location from September 5th to 26th. Besides panel discussions about German colonial history and racism in Germany, there will be workshops and lectures about African achievements and numerous digital concerts by African artists.

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