CW 47/2021: Everything Back To The Start?
Press Review 19 November 2021 to 26 November 2021

After military coup: Prime Minister Hamdok back in office

After the military coup in Sudan on 25 October and the arrest of Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, leading party politicians and cabinet members by soldiers, Hamdok was released from house arrest last Sunday and reinstated in office a few hours later. Before that, tens of thousands of demonstrators had been protesting for weeks on the streets of Khartoum and other major cities in Sudan against the military’s takeover of power. The military used tear gas and gunfire against the protesting population. According to media reports, more than 40 civilians have already been killed in the demonstrations. As reported by the state broadcaster Sudan TV, Hamdok has now agreed on a deal with the leader of the coup, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, to return to the constitutional agreement negotiated in 2019, before being reinstated to office. This would see Hamdok reinstated as head of the transitional government and allowed to form a cabinet of civilian representatives. In addition, the release of all political prisoners arrested in the coup was agreed. However, the Sovereign Council, which was supposed to pave the way for the formation of a civilian, elected government before the coup, would continue to operate under the leadership of Al-Burhan, who would thus be at the head of the new transitional government together with Hamdok. While the international community welcomed the agreement between the military and Hamdok, it was sharply criticised in some parts of the country and protests continued. In particular, the forces around democracy movement Forces for Freedom and Change (FCC), which played a key role in the overthrow of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019, reject the deal as it would legitimise the coup plotters. The protesters are therefore demanding a withdrawal of the military from any government responsibility and a legal prosecution of the coup. Hamdok’s political support is also diminishing: Meanwhile, twelve ministers of the old interim government have resigned in protest against the agreement with the military.


US Secretary of State on Africa trip

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first physical trip to the African continent last week is said to mark a turning point for the substantive reorientation of US policy under the Biden administration towards the African Union (AU) and its 55 member states. In the course of the three-state tour of Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal, Blinken met with both government representatives and civil society partners to exchange views on current challenges and future development goals. Kenya and Nigeria had already welcomed Blinken virtually in April this year. The current visit on the ground was intended to convey the signal of the American will to re-establish and strengthen new country relations in Africa. The legacy of Trump’s Africa policy had recently left deep wounds. The former president did not visit the continent in his entire term and received fewer African heads of state than any other president in the last 50 years. Disparaging remarks, restrictions on entry, the termination of numerous aid programmes and the failure to fill ambassadorial posts in Africa for months also took their toll on diplomatic relations. The now newly unveiled Africa policy is supposed to pick up where previous US administrations left off, but at least in its wording puts a stronger emphasis on an equal partnership. This partnership is to be based primarily on the development of five key areas: improving trade, providing support in pandemic emergencies, combating climate change, promoting democratic structures and strengthening peace and security. While it remains to be seen to what extent the new tone will translate into new policies, from an economic perspective, the visit produced concrete results: Blinken signed a 2.17 billion US dollar “Development Assistance Agreement” in Nigeria and a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) investment of over 1 billion US dollars in Senegal. In 2022, US President Joe Biden is inviting participants to a US-Africa Summit, which will focus on Africa’s future role as a geopolitical player in the international system.


In other news

This year, four films by anglophone Cameroonian filmmakers were offered on Netflix for the first time. In The Fisherman’s, for example, watchers can share the journey of 12-year-old Ekah, who wants to go to school in a culture where girls’ education is considered taboo. Or, in Broken, follow Sassys as she attempts a daring mission to save her father’s company in Douala. For Cameroonian filmmakers, the road to international recognition was long. Before 1990, Cameroonian media were state-run and mainly showed francophone films. Since private media were also allowed in 2000, they broadcast mainly foreign content. The new presence of Cameroonian filmmakers on Netflix is now giving them the attention they deserve and is recalling the successes of Nollywood and Ghallywood.

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