Africa Media Review for April 13, 2021

Somalia’s Lawmakers Try to Extend President’s Mandate
Somalia’s lower house of parliament on Monday voted to effectively extend the mandate of the president and federal government by two years in an attempt to end a political crisis after national elections were delayed in early February. But leaders of the Senate objected and called the action dangerous. The vote to hold a direct election in two years’ time, which would require the federal government and president to stay in office, came amid international pressure on Somali leaders to end the stalemate. The United Nations has warned that Somalia, rebuilding after three decades of conflict and still rocked by extremist attacks, can hardly afford more instability. The international community also has warned against a mandate extension. Somalia’s government has been unable for months to reach agreement on how to carry out the election, with the regional states of Puntland and Jubbaland objecting on certain issues and the international community warning against holding a partial election. The crisis led to deadly violence against demonstrators who opposed an election delay. AP

DR Congo Names New Cabinet, Cements President’s Power
Democratic Republic of Congo’s Prime Minister has announced a new cabinet, completing a government overhaul by President Felix Tshisekedi that strengthens his hold on power. The new government is a further blow to Tshisekedi’s predecessor and former coalition partner, Joseph Kabila, who stepped down in January 2019 but maintained control of key ministries, the legislature, judiciary and security services. … The new government, dubbed the “Sacred Union of the Nation,” counts 57 members including 14 women, according to a presidential decree read out over state broadcaster RTNC by the presidential spokesman, Kasongo Mwema. Prime Minister Sama Lukonde said the new team’s priorities would include security, infrastructure and electoral reform in the poor but resource-rich country. “The size of the government has been reduced, women’s and young people’s participation has been taken into account. Principles of representation and inclusivity have been upheld,” he added. Al Jazeera

‘Everything Is Worth Freedom’: Uganda’s Opposition Leader Faces the Future
Bobi Wine, the pop star who became a presidential candidate, considers rebuilding his anti-government movement after a violent election season that left many aides and supporters imprisoned. … Among other things, Mr. Wine said his mind was on the government crackdown against his campaign, which started even before the election season and intensified in the weeks after the results were announced, when he filed a petition contesting them. Mr. Wine’s supporters have been forcibly detained and held incommunicado for weeks on end and tortured, and his campaign aides have all been jailed. Just days before this interview, his 15-year-old nephew was kidnapped by unknown gunmen. … Despite everything, he said, his presidential run was successful in achieving its main objective: turning the world’s attention to Mr. Museveni’s oppressive government. “We are glad that he did this in the full glare of the world, unlike ever before.” he said of Mr. Museveni’s actions. “The world is watching.” The New York Times

Youth Radio Aims to Fight Sahel Jihadism
A radio station aimed at stopping youth radicalisation across five countries fighting jihadists in Africa’s Sahel region is set for launch in Burkina Faso under a deal signed Monday. Aimed at 15-35-year-olds, Radio Jeunesse Sahel (Youth Radio Sahel) will broadcast from Burkina’s capital Ouagadougou across the nation and its partners in the so-called “G5 Sahel” group: Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad. “The aim is to offer themes fighting against radicalism and violent extremism,” Burkina’s foreign minister Alpha Barry said after signing a public-service franchise with the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF), which groups French-speaking countries. So far there is no set date for the station to begin its broadcasts in French, Arabic, Hausa, Fulani, Bambara and Mossi, all widely spoken languages in the region. OIF spokeswoman Oria Vande Weghe said the content would “support living in harmony and a constructive vision of the future,” adding that it would “reflect the reality” of the region’s young people. AFP

UN Chief: 52 Armies and Groups Suspected Of Sexual Violence
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a spike in gender-based violence last year and combatants continued to use sexual violence “as a cruel tactic of war” and political repression in a number of countries, the U.N. chief said in a report circulated Monday. The report focused on 18 countries where the U.N. said it has obtained verified information. … The majority of those on the U.N. blacklist are “non-state actors” — opposition, rebel or terrorist groups linked to Islamic State or al-Qaida extremist groups. … The “blacklist” also includes government and police forces in Congo and South Sudan; government forces and intelligence services in Syria; armed forces and rapid support forces in Sudan; and army and police in Somali and forces in its Puntland region. Countries with non-state actors on the list include Congo with 20 groups; Central African Republic with 6; Mali with 5; South Sudan and Syria with 4 each; Sudan with 2; and Iraq and Somalia with 1 each. AP

African Health Workers Left without COVID Jabs as Paltry Supplies Dwindle
Millions of healthcare workers in sub-Saharan Africa continue to risk their lives to fight Covid-19 as authorities across the continent struggle to obtain and distribute vaccines to frontline medical staff. Last Thursday the World Health Organization (WHO) said less than 2% of the 690m Covid-19 vaccine doses administered globally to date were given in Africa, where most countries received vaccines only five weeks ago and in small quantities. Supplies were dwindling on the continent with almost half of the 31.6m doses delivered to Africa already administered, the WHO said. Fewer than 13m doses have been given to the continent’s 1.3 billion people so far. “Africa is already playing Covid-19 vaccination catch-up, and the gap is widening,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Africa regional director. “While we acknowledge the immense burden placed by the global demand for vaccines, inequity can only worsen scarcity,” she added. Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African president, said on Monday that Africa must expand its medical manufacturing capacity to combat the pandemic and be better equipped to face future health emergencies. The Guardian

‘We Will Lose More Doctors’: Sudan’s Health Workers Plead For COVID Jabs
More than 200 Sudanese doctors, nurses and medical workers have died from Covid-19, according to sources close to the health ministry – more than three times the official figure. Like other countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Sudan has struggled to obtain vaccines and distribute them to frontline medical staff. Many of the doctors who have died were senior consultants in their 50s and 60s or older, and so were in high-risk categories. “Doctors are exhausted and they have to work and go to their clinics despite being elderly in order to pay for their living expenses,” said Manal El-Degair, a Sudanese doctor and member of Jisir, an NGO campaigning in providing vaccines and other medical supplies to Sudan. “If no one acts now to protect them with vaccines, we will lose more doctors in the third wave.” Other health workers are also suffering. “People tend to focus on doctors but the number of nurses who died is unknown, and that’s a huge loss. With Covid19, the role of nurses is really central,” El-Degair said. Sudan has registered 32,000 cases and 2,000 deaths, but this is widely believed to reflect only a fraction of the true number of victims. The Guardian

Sudan’s Leader Visits Darfur after Tribal Clashes Killed 144
Sudan’s leader visited West Darfur province Monday following tribal violence earlier this month that killed at least 144 people, posing a challenge to the country’s fragile democratic transition. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, met separately with representatives of the non-Arab Masalit and the Arab Rizeigat tribes in Genena, the provincial capital of West Darfur, the sovereign council said. Burhan, who travelled to West Darfur along with top security and military officials, vowed to take “decisive decisions” to foster security and stability in the province, the council said without elaborating. The latest bout of fighting grew out of a shooting April 3 that killed two people from the Masalit tribe in a camp for displaced people in Genena. Over the past week, fighting ensued for around a week between the Rizeigat and the Masalit tribes. Authorities declared a state of emergency in West Darfur and deployed more troops to contain the violence. West Darfur’s governor, Mohamed Abdullah al-Doma, on Thursday criticized the central government in Khartoum for not heeding his calls for reinforcements. AP

Mozambique Terror Threat Level Undergoes Regional Bloc Probe
A Southern African Development Community technical team will assess the threat that Islamist militants pose to Mozambique to determine how to respond to the insurgency, the nation’s foreign minister said. The bloc agreed to deploy the team after regional leaders met April 8 to discuss the escalating violence in the northeast of the country. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the meeting also agreed to revive a so-called SADC brigade to intervene in the conflict. Foreign Minister Veronica Macamo didn’t directly answer a question on whether Mozambique had agreed that SADC forces will help the government fight the Islamic State-linked insurgency, only highlighting that the technical team would make a determination on what’s needed. Under SADC rules, a member state must make an official request for the group to deploy the brigade. SADC leaders are scheduled to meet again on April 29 to discuss the issue. The organization has already held a series of meetings on the conflict and is yet to announce any definitive response other than condemning the violence and expressing solidarity to those it impacts. Bloomberg

Death Toll up to 42 after Migrant Boat Capsizes off Djibouti
The International Organization for Migration says the death toll has risen to 42 after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti early Monday. Sixteen children were among the dead, spokeswoman Yvonne Ndege said. She said 14 people survived. “The smugglers have not yet been found,” she said. Olivia Headon, the IOM’s spokeswoman in Yemen, has said the migrants were returning from Yemen because of the dire situation in the Arab world’s poorest country, wrecked by war. “They were so desperate to leave Yemen they put their lives back into the hands of unscrupulous smugglers,” she said. Many people seek to make the voyage from Ethiopia and Somalia to Yemen and on to richer Gulf countries as they flee poverty and insecurity in search of work. But the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges force some to turn back. AP

Russia’s FM in Egypt for Talks on Ties and Ethiopia’s Dam
The foreign ministers of Egypt and Russia discussed trade and other ties between the two nations Monday, with Egypt’s top diplomat urging Moscow to help settle Egypt’s dispute with Ethiopia over a massive dam project. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov arrived in Cairo on Sunday for a two-day visit. He met Monday with President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi before his talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry. In a joint news conference with Shukry, Lavrov said they discussed the implementation of joint mega projects. They included a four-reactor power plant that a Russian firm is building in Egypt and a Russian industrial zone. Russian companies are expected to invest up to $7 billion in building industrial plants in the Suez Canal area. The two ministers said they also discussed regional conflicts in Libya, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian cause along with political stalemate in Lebanon. … A statement by el-Sissi’s office said the Egyptian president and Lavrov discussed “military and security” ties without providing details. AP

Turkey and Libya Renew Commitment to Contested Maritime Deal
The head of Libya’s new interim government and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have affirmed their commitment to a controversial 2019 maritime agreement that has angered Greece and Cyprus. Speaking following a meeting on Monday in Ankara with Libyan Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, who was on his first official visit to Ankara, Erdogan pledged to support Libya’s unity, its reconstruction and its military. Turkey would also be sending 150,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as managing a pandemic hospital in Tripoli to help the North African country battle its outbreak, Erdogan said. Libya’s interim government, which took power last month, is meant to bring together a country that has been torn apart by civil war for nearly a decade. It also aims to steer the country until a general election on December 24, 2021. Turkey has been closely involved in Libya, backing the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital, Tripoli, that controlled the west, against renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA), based in Benghazi, that controlled the east. Al Jazeera

African Experts Urge Local COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing
Africa is lagging in vaccinating its people against the COVID-19 disease, and continental heads of state and international health officials say vaccine manufacturing must come to Africa in earnest to combat both the illness and future health emergencies. These experts, alongside African heads of state and international finance figures, are meeting virtually this week to hash out an ambitious plan to bring more manufacturing capability to the continent. South Africa only recently started to make the COVID-19 vaccine, but is the main producer on the continent. … Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who last month became the first African and the first woman to head the World Trade Organization, said a plan to manufacture vaccines in Africa requires much more than time, care and money. It requires changes to intellectual property laws, trade agreements, transport networks, research capabilities and more. Having stepped into her new job amid the economic and social devastation of this pandemic, Okonjo-Iweala said she’s determined to prepare for the next disaster, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes fiscal sense. VOA

Kenya Opens New Small Arms Factory
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has opened a new $37 million small arms factory as the country seeks to improve self-reliance on defence and security equipment. The factory was opened on 8 April in Ruiru, Kiambu County and has the capacity to produce 12 000 assault rifles per year. In the next year the factory will focus on 9 mm pistols and 7.62 mm assault rifles. The factory draws 60 percent of its input from local sources, the Kenyan Presidency said. Kenyatta said the country seeks to enhance self-reliance in security through local production of equipment and technologies in line with the Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 programmes. He pointed out that the factory will lower the cost of acquiring weapons for Kenya’s security agencies and establish a sustainable national security industrial base that provides jobs for the Kenyan youth. … Kenyatta said the Government’s decision to set up the arms factory was encouraged by Kenya’s success in the local manufacture of some of the equipment needed in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. defenceWeb

French, Chinese Oil Firms Agree Controversial Pipeline Deal with Uganda,Tanzania
The Ugandan and Tanzanian governments have signed a series of agreements with oil companies Total of France and the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation. The deal paves the way for the construction of a pipeline to carry crude oil from Uganda to a Tanzanian port on the Indian Ocean. French and Ugandan environmental action groups have confirmed they will continue legal action against the project which they claim will cause major human and environmental problems. … On 1 March, more than 250 local and international organisations addressed major banks in a letter calling upon them to refrain from financing “the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world.” The letter cites “extensively documented risks” including “impacts on local people through physical displacement … risks to water, biodiversity and natural habitats; as well as unlocking a new source of carbon emissions.” The two French organisations, Survie and Friends of the Earth, along with StopEACOP and several Ugandan environmental action groups, have already launched a legal campaign to prevent the construction of the pipeline, or at least to oblige Total to ensure that the project will not have an irreversible human or environmental impact. RFI

Sudanese Artists Commemorate the Revolution with Exhibitions
On the occasion of the second anniversary of the overthrow of the Al Bashir regime on April 11, 2019, the Sudanese Plastic Arts Association organised exhibitions in Khartoum and Omdurman. The exhibition in the Family Club park in Khartoum III was officially opened on April 6, while the one Omdurman Cultural Centre was inaugurated on Saturday. The exhibitions present photos and paintings of the revolution and its icons, including protestors killed during the revolution. In particular young artists, those “who accompanied the Sudanese revolution since the beginning of the movement in 2018” joined the mural painting sessions. Others made paintings, sculptures, drawings, and photographs about the revolution. Inaam El Haj, the first Sudanese woman sculptor and leading member of the Sudanese Plastic Artists Association, told Radio Dabanga that in addition to the exhibitions, that will last until April 20, cultural seminars, musical events, and theatrical performances, will be organised. Radio Dabanga



Photo: Adam Jones