Africa Media Review for April 14, 2022

Coup: Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea Given Timelines To Return to Democratic Rule
An extraordinary meeting of the ECOWAS Commission has ended in Accra with heads of states giving extended timelines to the coup countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea to initiate processes towards the return to democratic and constitutional rule. According to the Commission, states that may fail to comply with the new timelines will risk an enforcement of economic and financial sanctions. President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, said these decisions have been taken with the objective to help those countries to restore constitutional order because that will be required for them to deal with the key issues that they are facing including security, particularly in Mali and Burkina Faso. News Ghana

Mali Massacre Survivors Say White Mercenaries Involved in Killings
It was market day in the town of Moura in central Mali when Malian troops backed by white mercenaries descended in helicopters and opened fire on bewildered residents, according to witnesses’ accounts. Stall-owner Amadou saw the soldiers fan out across town on the morning of 27 March, and ran home. They arrested him hours later and took him to a riverbank on the outskirts of town, where thousands of men sat with their hands tied. Over the next four days, the men stayed in the blazing sun with little food or water and watched as soldiers gradually took groups aside, led them to the lip of a mass grave and shot them, Amadou and two other witnesses told Reuters…Most of the soldiers who killed civilians were Malian, they said. But dozens of white men in army fatigues who spoke what the residents believed was Russian, were actively involved, they said. French is widely spoken in Mali, but the government soldiers and the white men communicated in sign language as they did not speak the same language. Reuters

Benin: Five Soldiers Killed in National Park Attack
Five soldiers were killed in an attack by suspected armed group linked to ISIL or al-Qaeda in a national park in the north of Benin Republic, two military sources have said. The attack on Monday also wounded several soldiers who are being treated at a nearby hospital, said the sources, who spoke anonymously to Reuters on Tuesday. The soldiers were killed at the Pendjari National Park when an army convoy struck an improvised explosive device, they said. It was the latest in a string of deadly attacks in northern Benin, where groups linked to al-Qaeda and the ISIL (ISIS) armed group have spilled over from neighbouring Burkina Faso, the epicentre of conflict in the Sahel, and Niger. Al Jazeera

Ivorian Prime Minister, Patrick Achi Resigns
The Ivorian Prime Minister, Patrick Achi, resigned. The head of government announced his resignation on Wednesday, April 13 at the start of the Council of Ministers chaired by Head of State Alassane Ouattara at the presidential palace in Abidjan-Plateau. “I would therefore respectfully submit to you my resignation as Prime Minister, Head of Government, Excellency the President of the Republic. “said Patrick Achi. He also expressed his gratitude to the Head of State for the opportunity, offered him to work alongside him and “to learn again”. President Alassane Ouattara accepted the government’s resignation and said he would proceed “next week to appoint a new prime minister who will propose a tighter government. AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria: INEC Declares 42% of New Voters Registrations Invalid
Nigeria’s electoral umpire, INEC, has declared 42 per cent of new voters registration invalid just as it unveiled new Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) for distribution across the country. The commission, through its National Chairman, Mahmood Yakubu, on Wednesday, said a total of 1,854,859 PVCs will be ready for collection by direct owners in the 36 states and FCT after the Easter holiday. Since the commencement of its Continuous Voters Registration (CVR) on June 28, 2021, millions of Nigerians have completed the processes physically and online ahead of 2023 General Elections. Of these figures spread across four quarters, Mr Yakubu said a little above 55 per cent of the participants in June and December 2021 scaled through the commission’s data clean up exercise. He identified multiple registration and incomplete data as the reasons for the invalid voter registrations, an ‘illegality’ he disclosed to have been encouraged by some staff of the commission across the country. Premium Times

UK To Send Channel Asylum Seekers to Rwanda: Reports
The United Kingdom is expected to sign a deal to send male asylum seekers who cross the English Channel in small boats to Rwanda while their claims are processed in the UK. Home Secretary Priti Patel will sign the 120 million pound ($158m) agreement for a “migration and economic development partnership” in Kigali, the capital of land-locked Rwanda on Thursday, according to the Times newspaper. It said the cost would be funded by UK taxpayers. There was no immediate response from Rwanda. Crossing the Channel in small boats will also be made a crime, and those who are allowed to stay will have to live in strictly-controlled camp-like environments while their cases are considered, the paper said. Al Jazeera

Renewed South Sudan Clashes Force 14 000 To Flee
Detoh Rie has spent the last five days hiding in a swamp with his children – one among thousands of South Sudanese forced to flee their homes as renewed violence threatens to return the fragile nation to war. When clashes erupted on Friday between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his rival, Vice President Riek Machar, in the country’s oil-rich Unity state, Rie wasted no time in grabbing his children and running for their lives. “The soldiers attacked our villages and burnt many of our houses. They took our cows and goats and they killed people,” the 51-year-old told AFP by telephone from Leer county. He says he doesn’t know if the rest of his family made it out alive as the attackers reduced his village Waay to smouldering ruins. South Sudan has been here before. Barely two years into its hard-won independence, the country found itself in the grip of a civil war between Kiir and Machar that left nearly 400 000 people dead before the two men signed a peace deal in 2018. But the peace process has been hamstrung by political bickering and when fighting spiralled in recent weeks, civilians have once again been forced to pay the heaviest price. AFP

Forces Are ‘Disrupting’ Insurgency in Mozambique – But Fight Is Not Over, Says SANDF Chief
South Africa’s military chief said Wednesday that multinational forces had been able to “disrupt” jihadist rebels in northern Mozambique since their deployment there last year. More than 3 100 troops from several African countries moved into troubled Cabo Delgado province last July after Islamist insurgents seized swathes of territory. Southern African “forces met strong resistance from the terrorists but were able to inflict fatal casualties and disrupt activities,” General Rudzani Maphwanya told media in Pretoria. The international forces “continue to dominate and pursue the terrorists in the operational area.” But Maphwanya said military action was not enough to resolve the crisis. He called for stronger governance to help people in the region return to normal life. “You must create conditions for the people of Mozambique to start picking up where things have fallen between the cracks and start going on with their lives,” he said. AFP

Former SA Defence Minister To Be Part of Russia/Ukraine Mediating Team
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, until last August South African Minister of Defence, will be part of an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) task force that will mediate the Russia/Ukraine conflict. South Africa abstained from United Nations voting to remove Vladimir Putin’s country from the world body’s human rights organisation and also abstained from a General Assembly vote to condemn the invasion of Ukraine. International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor has it South Africa is in favour of a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The appointment of the erstwhile defence minister, now National Assembly (NA) Speaker, was today reported by the South African Parliament. A formal invitation was made during a virtual meeting between Mapisa-Nqakula and IPU president Duarte Pacheco. She will be part of the “global legislative effort to, through dialogue, promotion of mediation and diplomacy, bring about a peaceful resolution to the current situation (in Ukraine)”. Additionally, Mapisa-Nqakula will represent the African Geopolitical Group on the IPU task force. DefenceWeb

Lawyers Group Denounces New Arrests of Resistance Committees Members in Sudan
Lawyers in Sudan said on Wednesday that the security services had carried out a fresh arrest campaign against political activists from the Resistance Committees, the spearhead of the anti-coup protests in the country. The crackdown on protest leaders took place as the military leaders pledged recently to take the needed measures to create a conducive environment for dialogue including ending the use of violence, the release of political detainees and lift of the state of emergency. The Emergency Lawyers stated that the security authorities raided the homes of the leaders of the protest and arrested them, anticipating any political action that they may organise. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Revolutionary Front Presents Political Initiative to Troika, EU
A delegation from the leadership of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), headed by Member of the Sovereignty Council and Chairman of the SRF, El Hadi Idris, met with the ambassadors and representatives of the Troika countries (USA, UK, and Norway) in Khartoum on Tuesday, followed by a meeting with ambassadors of the European Union (EU) today. The SRF presented a detailed explanation of the political initiative they propose as the correct way out of the Sudanese crisis. The Troika representatives welcomed the initiative and praised the role of the [SRF] and its quest to reach a comprehensive political settlement. Dabanga

Russia, Wagner Group Expand Ties With Sudan
In January 2019, when the protests that ultimately forced Bashir’s downfall had already erupted, Russia’s Foreign Ministry admitted for the first time that Russian companies were operating in Sudan. And leaked documents revealed that Russian nationals, among them Prigozhin, had designed a political and economic plan to keep Bashir in power. It was during all this process that the Wagner Group forged close ties with an increasingly powerful actor in Sudan: the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group accused of systematic abuses across the country, but particularly in Darfur, and led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. Today, Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, is the deputy chairman of the contested Sovereign Council ruling Sudan and is considered the country’s real strongman. The involvement of both shadowy groups in the extraction and smuggling of Sudan’s gold, which has generated wide condemnation from the West, has reportedly contributed to building up gold reserves in the Central Bank of Russia, a resource that can now prove key for Moscow to face the set of sanctions imposed as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. Al-Monitor

Hospital in Ethiopia’s Tigray Struggles To Treat Patients
Patients at the flagship hospital in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region are dying amid shortages of life-saving drugs and oxygen, according to health officials. At least 60 patients with kidney disease have died since July, the result of a lack of supplies needed for regular dialysis, a doctor at Ayder Hospital in Mekele, Tigray’s capital, told the Associated Press. Another 81 patients have died “directly because of a lack of oxygen” since the conflict between the federal government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, erupted in Nov. 2020, the doctor said. The doctor spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Tigray, in northern Ethiopia, has been cut off from the rest of the country since the TPLF recaptured most of the region in late June. Its road networks, banking services and phone lines are all severed, a situation the United Nations has described as a “de facto blockade” imposed by Ethiopia’s federal government. AP

Kenya: Safety Concerns for Political Aspirants
The run-up to Kenyan elections — such as the August 9, 2022, general election — carries a certain sense of foreboding for aspiring politicians and their staff. Winning an election may be the goal, but facing threats, kidnappings, assault, and even death is not out of the question. Recently, Kisii politician Thomas Okari was found dead with stab wounds at his home in Kisii County near Lake Victoria. Across the country, in Mombasa, United Democratic Alliance member and local politician Ali Mwatsahu survived an attack when unknown gunmen sprayed his vehicle with bullets….Wanyama also points to the state of Kenya’s courts as a reason for optimism. “We have also seen the independence of the Supreme Court,” he told DW, citing the court’s opposition to President Kenyatta’s Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), which was seen as a blow to the ruling elite. He argued that no group would sway the court, which has boosted ordinary Kenyans’ confidence.”Our hope is that the court will do a good job, unlike in 2007 and those other years where the courts were easily manipulated by government. It looks like now things have changed and everybody has to play ball.” DW

Congo, Rwanda Sign Agricultural Land Concession Agreement
The Republic of Congo and Rwanda have signed two memorandums of understanding and a concession agreement in the agricultural field. The agreements were part of a series signed during the just concluded 3 day state visit of the Rwandan President Paul Kagame to Brazzaville. Congo will reportedly grant Rwanda 12,000 hectares of exploitable land in at least three Departments in the south of the country. However the duration of the concession has not been specified. Congo has 10 to 12 million hectares of arable land, of which less than 5% is used for food crops. The agricultural deal is part of eight agreements signed for the “widening and deepening of cooperation” according to a statement issued on Tuesday in Brazzaville. Other agreements cover investment protection, mining, management of economic entities and the strengthening of cultural ties. Rwanda and Congo enjoy cordial bilateral relations.The growth of bilateral ties is evidenced by 2021 agreements to remove double taxation and visa requirements to ease trade between both countries. They also signed agreements regarding military, education, and land management at the time. AfricaNews

Russia’s War Is Heightening Africa’s Debt Risk, World Bank Says
Russia’s war with Ukraine has escalated sovereign-debt risks in sub-Saharan Africa, increasing the need for better relief measures to avert a “large wave” of crises among the region’s developing countries, the World Bank said. The share of countries in the region at high risk of debt distress has grown to 60.5% from 52.6% in October, the Washington-based lender said Wednesday in the April edition of its Africa’s Pulse report. Fears about debt sustainability are reflected in the widening of sovereign spreads for several sub-Saharan African nations, driven by rising interest rates in developed economies and the war in Ukraine, it said. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones