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Why African countries aren't revolting

Sub-Saharan armies are more willing to shoot at anti-government protesters.

Other African countries have also censored news coverage of North Africa, notably Eritrea — where independent media has been banned for a decade — and Equatorial Guinea, which has had a blackout on coverage of the protests since Feb. 11, said Mohamed Keita with the Committee to Project Journalists.

But Keita said that many Africans, even in rural areas and in highly repressive Eritrea, are finding a way to get the news through satellite dishes and communal viewing.

“Even in Equatorial Guinea, people are still discussing these things, even if they might be whispering,” Keita said.

In South Africa, the ruling African National Congress party was criticized by the opposition and media for being slow to issue a statement condemning the violence against protesters in Libya.

Thomas Wheeler, a research associate at the South African Institute of International Affairs and a former ambassador South Africa to Turkey, said the ANC’s latest statement condemning the violence in Libya — released Wednesday — is unusual because it is one of the few such statements from an African government.

“The attitude is that African governments don’t interfere with each others’ affairs,” he said. “They want to appear to be unified to the outside world, even if that’s not really the case.”

In South Africa, where there have been violent protests over the government’s failure to provide basic services to poor communities, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan warned Thursday that the country could in the longterm face political unrest like that in North Africa if it doesn’t create jobs and narrow the gap between rich and poor.

But in the short-term, this is unlikely, Wheeler said. “I don’t think there is any question of taking it as far as it has gone in North Africa.”