Africa Media Review for April 14, 2023

‘General Mobilisation’ Declared in Burkina Faso after Series of Jihadist Attacks
The head of the military junta has said he aims to recapture 40% of the country’s territory, as the deadly insurgency continues. Burkina Faso’s military junta declared Thursday a “general mobilisation” to give the state “all necessary means” to combat a string of jihadist attacks since the start of this year. The goal is to create a “legal framework for all the actions to be taken” against the insurgents, a statement from the presidency said. Captain Ibrahim Traoré, Burkina Faso’s transitional president who staged the most recent coup on September 30, has set a goal of recapturing 40% of the country’s territory, which is controlled by jihadists affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. Last week, 44 civilians were reported killed by “armed terrorist groups” in two villages in northeastern Burkina Faso, near the Niger border. It was one of the deadliest attacks against civilians since Traoré came to power last September, after 51 soldiers were killed in February in an attack on Deou, in the far north of the country. France24

Mali: Civilians Paying the Price as Terrorist Violence Flares Up, Security Council Hears
The security situation in Mali remains quite volatile, marked by pockets of terrorist violence, with devastating consequences for civilians, the top UN official there said on Wednesday. El-Ghassim Wane, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, briefed the Security Council on major developments in the West African country over the past three months. MINUSMA was established a decade ago following insecurity in the north and a failed military coup, which led to the signing of a peace deal between the authorities and two armed group coalitions in 2015. … Since January, there has been a resurgence in fighting between the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and the militant jihadist group JNIM. The extremists are competing to extend their spheres of influence and control supply lines, he said, while engaging in constant attacks against civilians. UN News

Mali: Germany Gives Itself 9 to 12 Months to Withdraw its Soldiers but Will Maintain its Aid
Germany is counting on nine to 12 months to withdraw its soldiers from Mali, a withdrawal imposed by the new realities of the country under the leadership of the military, but which does not put an end to development aid, two ministers said Thursday during their visit. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, appointed in January, visited the German contingent of the UN peacekeeping mission (Minusma) in Gao (north), in anticipation of this withdrawal already announced by May 2024. He was accompanied by Development Minister Svenja Schulze. … Germany has several hundred soldiers among the 12,000 or so deployed by the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MINUSTAH) in the country, which is plagued by the spread of jihadism and violence of all kinds. It is the largest Western contribution, according to a mission report released this week. AfricaNews

Sudan’s Military Warns of Conflict after Rival Force Deploys
Sudan’s military warned Thursday of potential clashes with the country’s powerful paramilitary force, which it said had deployed troops in the capital of Khartoum and other areas without the army’s consent. Tensions between the military and the paramilitary, known as Rapid Support Forces or RSF, have escalated in recent months, forcing a delay in the signing of an internationally backed deal with political parties to revive the country’s democratic transition. In a statement, the military said the buildup of the RSF in Khartoum and elsewhere in the country was done without “the approval of, or coordination with” the armed forces’ leadership and presents a clear “violation of the law.” The paramilitary recently deployed troops near the northern Sudanese town of Merowe. Also, videos circulating on social media Thursday show what appear to be RSF-armed vehicles being transported into Khartoum, further to the south. VOA

Sudan Arrests Islamist for Threat to Kill UNITAMS Head
A man was arrested earlier this week, after calling for a fatwa (religious edict) authorising the assassination of United Nations Special Representative and UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) head Volker Perthes, and volunteering to commit the killing, according to recent reports. The controversial remarks were made during a political meeting of the People of Sudan Call for National Accord in Khartoum, a coalition that includes some Islamist groups, where UNITAMS and Perthes were criticised as ‘interfering in internal Sudanese affairs’. A video that was captured on social media and has since gone viral, shows a man identified as Abdelmoneim Dafallah, saying: “I volunteer to assassinate Volker, and I request a fatwa to make his blood permissible”. Dabanga

More Concerns for Nigeria, Others as ISWAP Set to Use Drones, Advanced Tech
Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) could be close to using delivery drones for attacks in the Lake Chad Basin. Weaponising and adapting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) is a new trend in the group’s operational strategy, and could worsen the conflict. Institute for Security Studies (ISS) research shows that ISWAP is already trialling delivery drones to carry improvised explosive devices. This includes assessing the weight that can be carried, how far they can go and how long they stay in the air. The threat goes beyond military targets and may impact humanitarian service delivery. Ongoing operations by Nigeria’s military and clashes with Boko Haram faction, Jama’atu Ahlis-Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad (JAS), have inflicted heavy losses on ISWAP and significantly reduced its space to operate. And successful intelligence-driven strikes resulting in arrests of ISWAP members outside the North-east are preventing the group from expanding. These setbacks may be forcing ISWAP to adapt its strategy, as it has done before. So far, ISWAP’s use of drones has been limited to propaganda, surveillance and communication. Premium Times

Nigeria: Staying Out of School to Avoid Kidnappings
In northern Nigeria, hundreds of children have been abducted from school in recent years. No longer wanting to take risks, many parents have stopped sending their children to school. They’d rather risk them dropping out. 14-year-old Hausa’u Salisu has dropped out of school but not because of bad marks or because her family couldn’t afford it anymore. Girls like her are most vulnerable to abductions in the region, which have intensified over the years. So in order to avoid their daughter being kidnapped by bandits, her parents have taken her out of school. “Before the banditry, we lived normal lives like any other person. But then they first raided the neighbouring villages before ours. We were displaced and since then, there has been no opportunity for us to return to school. Our teachers have also deserted the school for fear of being kidnapped,” Salisu told DW. Salisu lives in the Bakon Zabo village in northern Nigeria, where she says the fear of being kidnapped has pushed thousands of girls like her out of attending school. DW

Police Commission Investigates Bribe for Promotion Allegations
The Police Service Commission (PSC) has set up a committee to investigate a report published by an online medium that police officers pay up to $10,000 bribe to get promotion. The Head, Press and Public Relations of PSC, Ikechukwu Ani, said this in a statement on Thursday in Abuja. Mr Ani said the report had claimed that some police officers gave $10,000 bribe to get special promotion from the PSC. … Mr Ani assured that anyone found culpable will be dealt with in line with the laws of the land. “The commission has also set up a panel of investigation, comprising both members of the commission and the Nigeria Police Force to investigate these allegations. Premium Times

UN, Others Cite New Displacement from Ethiopia’s Tigray
Forces from Ethiopia’s Amhara region have displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans from disputed territory in the north of the country in recent weeks despite a peace deal agreed late last year, according to aid workers and internal agency documents seen by the AP. The Mai Tsebri area in northwestern Tigray is close to the regional border with Amhara. It changed hands several times during the war, which erupted in 2020 and ended with a ceasefire in November. The Amhara people claim the area as their own. Since early March, some 47,000 people uprooted from Mai Tsebri have gone to Endabaguna, a town roughly 55 kilometers (34 miles) further north, according to United Nations figures seen by the AP on Thursday. Another report, prepared by a humanitarian agency, says residents fled Mai Tsebri because of “harassment, ethnic profiling and direct threats” from irregular Amhara forces that also carried out “evictions.” AP

Dozens Raped as Migrant Workers Deported from Angola to DR Congo
Women and children have been raped and subjected to other abuses during a mass expulsion of migrant workers from Angola to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a doctor, officials and the United Nations say. Angola has deported thousands of workers in recent months, according to UN figures, echoing previous purges over the past 12 years, during which abuses also occurred, according to human rights groups and the UN. The size of the latest expulsion is not yet known, but 12,000 workers have passed through one border crossing near the DRC town of Kamako in the past six months, according to previously unreported figures from the UN’s migration agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Al Jazeera

Algerian Parliament Approves a New Law That Tightens Control over the Media
The Algerian parliament approved on Thursday a new media law that tightens control over the work of journalists and imposes new restrictions. While the government said the law is key to ensuring the free exercise of media activity under legal controls, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said the law included “negative chapters” that constitute a violation of press freedom. The law prohibits the Algerian media from receiving any funding or material assistance from any “foreign entity”. Communication Minister Mohamed Bouslimani said the law aims to “enshrine freedom and pluralism of the press” and “protect it from all forms of deviation”. The new law de facto excludes dual nationals from the right to own or contribute to the ownership of a media outlet in Algeria. … Earlier this month, a court in Algeria sentenced Ihsane El Kadi, a prominent journalist, to five years in prison. Ihsane, a vocal critic of the government who was arrested on Dec. 24, has been accused of receiving foreign funding. Reuters

More Than 64% of Deaths on Mediterranean Sea Migrant Routes This Year Were Africans
Record numbers of people have attempted to reach the European Union (EU) via illegal Mediterranean Sea routes in the first quarter of this year. This also translates to a record number of deaths since 2017, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) figures indicate. There are three Mediterranean Sea routes into Europe. The central Mediterranean is most often used by those crossing from North Africa into Italy. Migrants travel from the shores of Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria. According to IOM, Tunisia is the latest frontier, contributing about 60% of those crossing into Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) this week said the central route was the most popular one, accounting for 28 000 of all arrivals via the sea. It said the reason was the lack of strong institutions in the countries from where they were coming. News24

Kenya’s Odinga Says Demos to Resume as Talks with Govt Continue
The leader of Kenya’s opposition alliance, Azimio la Umoja, Raila Odinga on Thursday announced that the coalition will resume anti-government protests after the holy month of Ramadhan. He said the protests will run parallel with the bi-partisan talks with the government side, citing “signs of intransigence” from the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition. Addressing the opposition coalition’s first town hall meeting in Nairobi, the opposition chief took issue with President William Ruto’s camp, accusing the government of trying to determine what his side is to take to the discussion table. … “Let dialogue run parallel with the protests. We are waiting for the end of Ramadhan,” Mr Odinga said. East African

Zimbabwe: MISA Demands Enquiry over Zanu PF’s ED Texts to Voters
MEDIA Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) has demanded the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) to probe the flooding of unsolicited political short messages services by Zanu PF. Registered voters have been receiving a flurry of messages on their mobile phones soliciting support for President Emmerson Mnangagwa ahead of general elections this year. The messages clearly state names and constituencies that prospective voters will cast their votes in. SMSs asked for individuals to save a particular number before being kept up to date “on all national development issues and matters.” In a letter written by the MISA Zimbabwe national director Tabani Moyo addressed to POTRAZ director general Gift Machengete said there was a clear violation of the law which governs third-party sharing of data. “There is every reason to believe that the unsolicited texts violate the Cyber and Data Protection Act [Cap 12:07], which governs the use of personal biometric data. The Act states that the use of personal biometric data in this way is prohibited unless the data subject gives consent in writing.” New Zimbabwe

Is Zimbabwe’s President Mnangagwa behind Gold Smuggling?
One gold smuggler described Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa as his business partner. Another talked of Mnangagwa as a former partner whom he still meets. A third said he had to keep the president in the loop about gold smuggling operations. The president’s niece outlined an elaborate money laundering and gold smuggling scheme that she promised to help execute. And one of Zimbabwe’s top diplomats, handpicked by Mnangagwa, dialled the president’s wife to try to seal a laundering deal. … Al Jazeera’s investigation, however, reveals multiple links between Mnangagwa and the gold smuggling and money laundering schemes bleeding the country. They raise questions over how much Mnangagwa knows about these scams, and whether – as some of the smugglers said – he was directly facilitating them. Al Jazeera

Eswatini Govt Preparing for Protests During the King’s Birthday Celebrations
The government of Eswatini activated surveillance mechanisms in anticipation of protests on King Mswati III’s 55th birthday next week as well as on National Flag Day at the end of April. The king’s birthday is on 19 April. National Flag Day is on 25 April – and it commemorates the anniversary of the kingdom’s flag being hoisted for the first time in 1967. … Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku said the government was aware of plans to disrupt celebrations linked to the two important days. “Government has observed and not taken lightly the circulating social media reports and general talk about a planned disruption of the economy through petition delivery marches and border blockades,” he said. News24