CW 38/2021: Political turbulences
Press Review 17 September 2021 to 24 September 2021

Protests in Namibia ahead of vote on reconciliation agreement
Some 400 opposition activists protested outside Namibia’s parliament building on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming vote on the German-Namibian reconciliation agreement. The agreement between Namibia and Germany, announced in May after six years of negotiations and processing, was to be ratified by the Namibian parliament this week. In the course of the agreement, Germany publicly acknowledges the genocide committed against the Herero and Nama during the colonial period. In addition the political agreement also includes the willingness to provide around 1.1 billion euros over the next 30 years for projects that will benefit the Namibian population. The negotiation is thus seen as an attempt to set new standards in the way former colonial powers deal with historical crimes. However, the protest highlights the existing social division in the African country in the unification process with Germany. In particular, the planned agreement is strongly criticised by some of the descendants of the Herero and Nama peoples. According to the critics, for example, not all of the country’s interest groups were involved in the negotiations and the amount of the payment was too low. In the parliamentary debate on the agreement, which continued Wednesday and Thursday, some opposition MPs called for payments of up to 9 billion euros. Given the large number of MPs who want to contribute to the discussion, the final vote is not expected until next week. The agreement was reached between the governments of Germany and Namibia. Since the South-West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) is the ruling party with a two-thirds majority, Namibia’s National Assembly is expected to ultimately approve the agreement.

Coup attempt in Sudan thwarted

According to the state news agency Suna, a coup attempt took place near the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Tuesday morning, which was thwarted by the security forces. It was reported from inside government circles that coup plotters tried to take control of the premises of the state media, but ultimately failed. The mastermind of the revolt was said to be Major General Abdul-Baqi Al-Bakrawi, who was arrested along with eleven officers and several soldiers. Information Minister Hamza Baloul announced on state television that supporters of al-Bashir’s former regime were behind the coup. Since the overthrow of former strongman Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, the country has been run by a military-civilian transitional government, which is supposed to implement a transition to a purely civilian and democratic government. Despite the historic peace agreement reached with a coalition of rebels in 2020, the transition suffers from deep divisions between the political factions. In addition, the economic situation continues to deteriorate and economic reforms introduced in recent months to qualify for International Monetary Fund (IMF) debt relief have led to the cancellation of subsidies and rising costs of living. This has already led to increased tensions and protests within the country in recent months. According to analysts, the coup attempt could also have an impact on the leadership of the Sovereign Council. Until now, the interim government has been dominated by the military, which is why it is suspected that the coup attempt could be used as an opportunity to continue taking over the leadership of the Council rather than handing it over to the civilians as agreed. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the coup attempt and warned against undermining the political transition.

In other news 
On Wednesday evening, for the first time in 30 years, a film was publicly screened in Somalia. The two short films “Hoos” and “Date from Hell” by Somali director Ibrahim CM were shown at the National Theater in Mogadishu. It was also the first time that films by a Somali director were shown in the building, which was built in 1967 and was a gift from then Chinese President Mao Zedong. The event took place under high security, and a ticket was sold for €8.50. Nevertheless, it is expected to mark a cultural turning point and provide Somali artists with an opportunity to showcase their talent in the future, echoing the capital’s cultural heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. At that time, Mogadishu was home to numerous cinemas and concerts as well as theatre performances were given at the National Theater. However, with the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, all cultural activities came to a halt.

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