Africa in the news: Sudan, Mali, and Uganda political updates and Ivanka Trump’s visit to Africa

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans during the sit-in protest, outside Defence Ministry in Khartoum, Sudan April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah - RC1BF818B3C0

Update on Sudan protests and planned transition

Last Thursday, April 11, after four months of widespread civilian protest against his rule, Sudan’s military ousted now-former President Omar al-Bashir and then appointed a transitional military council to govern for two years until elections are held.

Protests have continued this week, with hundreds of thousands joining a sit-in protest on Thursday, April 18 to demand that the transitional military council hand power to civilians immediately rather than after the announced two years. So far, the council has said it is ready to meet some of the protestors’ demands, including fighting corruption. Notably, Defense Minister Awad Ibn Aouf, who announced al-Bashir’s departure, has stated he will not head the transitional council. On Friday, April 19, the BBC reported “Sudan’s protest movement say they will name members of a transitional authority on Sunday, to replace the current military junta.”

In its first week in power, the transitional military council, led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has ordered the release of political prisoners jailed by special emergency courts formed during the protests, lifted a night curfew, and ordered the central bank to review financial transfers since April 1 and seize “suspect” funds. The council has also fired Sudan’s top general prosecutor and arrested two brothers of al-Bashir as part of a continuing campaign of arrests against symbols and leaders of the previous regime.

The U.N. secretary-general has appointed special adviser Nicholas Haysom to support the African Union’s mediation efforts in Sudan. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has also offered to help mediate the political transition. South Sudan is currently attempting to undergo its own political transition, although the country’s opposition leader Riek Machar recently requested a postponement of the formation of a unity government.

Mali’s government resigns and Uganda eliminates age limit on presidency

On Thursday, April 18, Mali’s President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, announced that the prime minister and his entire government had resigned. The resignations come a few weeks after an attack on Fulani herders in Mali that killed 160 people. The statement provided no reason for the resignations although Malian legislators had been discussing a no-confidence vote against the government given its inability to stem the rising violence in the country.

In other political news, in a widely expected ruling, Uganda’s Supreme Court upheld a constitutional amendment passed in 2017 eliminating age limits for the presidency. The Supreme Court’s decision passed by a 4-3 majority. The amendment now allows President Yoweri Museveni, who has led the country for 33 years, to run for office again in 2021. Museveni’s party has a majority in the legislature and victory in the 2021 elections could potentially see him extend his time as president to 40 years.

Ivanka Trump visits Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire to promote women’s prosperity

First daughter and senior presidential advisor Ivanka Trump and USAID Administrator Mark Green landed in Ethiopia on Sunday, April 14, to promote the Trump administration’s $50 million Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, funded through USAID. The goal of the initiative is to empower 50 million women in the developing world through employment and economic stability by 2025. While in Ethiopia, Trump met with women in the booming Ethiopian coffee industry and also announced “2X Africa,” a $1 billion investment initiative led by the Overseas Private Investment Corporation ($350 million is directed toward Africa).

In Côte d’Ivoire, the first daughter met with women working in the cocoa and coffee industries. While visiting the Cayat cocoa cooperative, she announced a $2 million commitment, pledged jointly by USAID and privately held chocolate companies, toward savings associations, which are popular tools to help businesswomen earn capital.

Trump ended her visit to the continent with an appearance at the Women Entrepreneurs Financial Initiative Summit. Despite this trip and Melania’s visit to Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Egypt last year, President Trump himself has yet to visit the continent.