Africa Media Review for April 17, 2023

Sudan Fears ‘Ghost of Civil War’ as Explosions Rock Capital
Sudan’s nightmare scenario is coming to pass. Fighter jets screamed over Khartoum, the capital, on Sunday, firing rockets into a city of millions. Artillery barrages slammed into the military headquarters, reducing it to a tower of flames. Civilian planes were bombed at the city’s airport, where terrified passengers cowered on the terminal floors. The country has been walking a tightrope for four years now, clinging desperately to the dream of the 2019 popular revolution, when protesters toppled a brutal dictator and inspired sweet hopes of democracy. But two power-hungry generals still dominate Sudan. And when their relationship disintegrated into violence this weekend, it set off a breathless descent that appeared to be the realization of many people’s worst fears. Fighting spread to the four corners of the country, where the army and a paramilitary unit known as the Rapid Support Forces battled for control of airfields and military bases. … Sudan was supposed to usher in a momentous new era this month: a return to civilian rule. The army had promised to hand over power last Tuesday, the fourth anniversary of Mr. al-Bashir’s ouster. But that transition depended on the two generals who run the country — the army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan; and his deputy, the paramilitary commander Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan — keeping their simmering rivalries in check. Instead they started fighting, dragging Africa’s third-largest country into a chaotic spiral that many fear will end in full-blown civil war. New York Times

Sudan Death Toll Nears 100 as Fighting Rages and Hospitals Run Short of Supplies
At least 97 people have been killed and hundreds wounded as clashes spread across Sudan, and the World Health Organization (WHO) said some hospitals were running out of critical supplies to treat the injured. … Burhan and Hemedti agreed a three-hour pause in fighting from 4pm local time (1400 GMT to 1700 GMT) to allow humanitarian evacuations proposed by the United Nations, the UN mission in Sudan said, but the deal was widely ignored after a brief period of relative calm. … The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, called for an immediate ceasefire and a return to talks to put Sudan back on track to a civilian-led government. Speaking at the G7 foreign ministers’ summit in Japan, he said: “There is a shared deep concern about the fighting, the violence that is going on in Sudan, the threat that that poses to civilians, that it poses to the Sudanese nation and potentially poses even to the region. “There’s also a strongly held view across all of our partners on the need for an immediate ceasefire and a return to talks. Talks that were very promising in putting Sudan on a path to a full transition to civilian-led government. “People in Sudan want the military back in the barracks, they want democracy, they want a civilian-led government. Sudan needs to return to that path.” Guardian

Mediation Efforts Grind to a Halt as Warring Parties in Sudan Refuse to Communicate
Internal and local efforts and negotiation initiatives put forward to contain the crisis between the commander of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have essentially come to a halt, Sudanese and international organisations say, as the warring parties refuse to communicate. A source from the Forces for Freedom and Change-Democratic Block (FFC-DB) alliance told Radio Dabanga that the international efforts stopped due to the difficulties in communication between the two parties. The FFC-DB called for an end to the fighting and a return to the negotiation table. In a statement published yesterday, the mainstream FFC (FFC-Central Council) also called to the leadership of the SAF and RSF to immediately stop the military confrontations and return to the negotiating table. … Intelligence Africa reported yesterday that Saudi diplomats “tried to patch things up” between Commanders Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan of the SAF and Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo of the RSF “up until the last second” but that the two decided to go to war despite all the efforts. China is one of the last countries to join a long list of those condemning the violence and calling for a ceasefire. After an emergency meeting by the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council in Addis Ababa yesterday, the AU announced that the chairman of its commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, is prepared to travel to Sudan “immediately” to persuade the parties towards a ceasefire. No further details on the possible trip were given. Radio Dabanga

How Putin Became a Hero on African TV
Over the past year, a flood of pro-Russian content has increasingly been surfacing on news outlets and social media platforms in Africa. The messages aim to drum up support for the invasion of Ukraine, and to frame Russia’s growing presence on the African continent as beneficial, while vilifying American and European — especially French — involvement in Africa. … A broad mix of media has been carrying this content, including influencers on social media and news websites and television networks that have signed partnerships with Kremlin-funded operations. … “Russian fake news is produced on an industrial scale here,” said Abdoulaye Guindo, the coordinator of Benbere, a fact-checking website based in Mali, where the Wagner group has a sizable presence. “The prowess of pro-Russian accounts is undeniable.” … “This is Moscow’s way to expand across Africa,” said Mr. Diarrah, the Malian journalist. “With mercenaries and media outlets.” New York Times

Forty Dead in Attack on Army and Volunteers in North Burkina Faso 
Unidentified assailants killed 40 people and wounded 33 others in an attack on the army and volunteer defense forces in northern Burkina Faso, the government said in a statement on Sunday. The attack took place on Saturday in the village of Aorema near the town of Ouahigouya in the North Region, not far from the border with Mali, an area overrun by Islamist groups linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State that have carried out repeated attacks for years. It is not clear which group carried out the attack. It comes nine days after gunmen killed 44 people in the villages of Kourakou and Tondobi in the north of the West African country. Six soldiers and 34 members of a volunteer defense force were killed in Saturday’s attack, the statement said. Reuters

Dozens Killed in Democratic Republic of the Congo Village Attacks
Dozens of civilians have been killed as suspected armed groups raided villages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to local advocates and news reports. The attacks took place on Friday in the province of Ituri, an area along the country’s northeast border with Uganda that has regularly experienced systematic attacks on communities since 2017. Charite Banza, the head of local civil society, told the Reuters news agency that Friday’s attack killed about 30 people, “both women and men.” “They set fire to several houses, looted property,” Banza explained. Sources quoted in both Reuters and AFP identified a group of militias called the Cooperative for Development of the Congo, or CODECO, as the suspected culprit in the attacks. The United Nations reports that violence and insecurity have caused an estimated 1.5 million people to be displaced in Ituri over the past six years. AFP

At Least 33 People Killed by Gunmen in Northwest Nigeria
Gunmen have attacked a village in northwest Nigeria and killed at least 33 people, a local official said Sunday. More than 35 houses were destroyed in the violence in Runji, which is in the state of Kaduna, said Francis Zimbo, chairman of the Zangon Kataf area where the massacre took place. Zimbo provided the number of fatalities, but state authorities wouldn’t comment on the number of people killed. “Troops had a fierce encounter with the attackers and are still in the general area,” said Samuel Aruwan, the state commissioner of security. No group has claimed responsibility for the killings. However, gangs of bandits have been accused of being responsible for attacks in the region, which includes the kidnapping for ransom and killing of civilians. Earlier this month, gunmen kidnapped 10 students about a half-hour drive by car from where Saturday’s attack occurred. AP

How Chinese Are Financing Terrorists to Illegally Access Mineral Resources in Nigeria – Report
The Times has reported that Chinese nationals in the mining sector are financing terrorist groups in some parts of Nigeria to gain access to the country’s mineral resources. The national daily revealed this in an investigation it published on Saturday, April 15. The Times said that the Chinese nationals are fuelling insecurity and terrorism through illegal transactions, lobbying and bribes. The newspaper reported, “Beijing could be indirectly funding terror in Africa’s largest economy.” According to the report, some Chinese who work informally as miners in Zamfara are serving as smugglers for some militant groups in the state and other states in the north-western part of Nigeria. It noted that Chinese firms constantly negotiate with terrorists and bandits. “Chinese companies working in parts of Nigeria where attacks are frequent have been striking security deals with insurgents. ICIR

Inside Nigeria’s Centres for Jihadists and Their Captives
On an arid plot of land in northern Nigeria, veiled women hurry past vegetable stalls and men idle outside endless rows of tarpaulin tents in what, at first glance, appears to be a typical camp for displaced people. In reality, Hajj Camp in Borno State is a centre for processing tens of thousands of jihadists, their families and those who lived under their control. In exchange for freedom, the government persuaded them to turn themselves in — a move aimed at ending an insurgency by Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (Iswap) group that has killed thousands and displaced over two million since 2009. But an investigation points to major failings in the screening and deradicalisation process, while the need for justice has been set aside. In May 2021, a key event gave the authorities an opportunity. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau died after rivals Iswap invaded his hideout, demanding he pledge allegiance. After his death, his fighters and their captives had a decision to make — either join Iswap or flee. Mail & Guardian

Kenya’s President Ruto Asks Opposition to Give Talks a Chance
Kenya’s President William Ruto asked the opposition on Sunday to give talks with the government a chance while his main opponent urged his followers to protest again over electoral reforms and the high cost of living. Thousands participated in three days of protests over two weeks in late March marred by clashes between protesters and police. The protests partly stem from accusations of fraud in August’s presidential election in which Ruto narrowly beat Raila Odinga. On Thursday, Odinga said the opposition would resume protests after the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, to coincide with talks between it and the government. Ruto’s ruling coalition has said the vote was fair, defended its economic record and called for the protests to stop, saying they cast doubt over the opposition’s sincerity in participating in the talks. Reuters

Tanzania’s Samia Moves to Salvage Legacy from Corruption under Her Tenure
The President also dissolved the Tanzania Railways Corporation board, after the CAG findings showed that the public agency twice rejected tenders to purchase locomotives and passenger coaches for the new standard gauge railway (SGR) at the lowest bid price of $263.4 million, in favour of a $478 million offer, costing the government about $215 million more. The rot in the two corporations is just an example of a web of corruption in the Tanzanian government and quasi-government institutions flagged by the CAG Charles Kichere. The revelations in Mr Kichere’s audit for the 2021/2022 fiscal year, which was made public on April 7, put the spotlight on the President, who has been endeavouring to clean up the public sector and the country’s image as an investment destination in Africa, devoid of red tape and graft. … Backed by President Samia’s call for more transparency in government spending, the annual CAG audit for the first time included projects that were previously exempt from audit by the Magufuli administration. EastAfrican

Will South Africa Use Its Political Leverage on UAE to Extradite the Guptas?
South Africa’s legal authorities are counting on politicians for help after concluding that the UAE government was duplicitous in its handling of South Africa’s application for the extradition of the Guptas. They say that the Guptas’ lawyers were present in three secret court hearings in Dubai on extradition – from which the South African government was excluded and which it was not informed about. It took the UAE authorities 37 days to inform Pretoria that the court had rejected its extradition request. By then, the 30-day period for South Africa to appeal the decision had lapsed. The delay also gave the Guptas time to skip Dubai before new Interpol Red Notices requesting their arrests could be issued. Officials say the legal reasons the UAE has offered for rejecting the extradition are spurious and that they are convinced the decision was political. Some legal sources suspect money changed hands. Daily Maverick

Rwanda Promises Military Assistance to Benin to Combat Sahel Jihadist Threat
West Africa’s coastal nations Benin, Togo, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire are increasingly worried by the Islamist insurgency gaining ground just across their northern borders. Last year Benin began talks over military and logistical cooperation with Rwanda, whose troops President Kagame has already dispatched to help quell unrest in Mozambique and the Central African Republic. Speaking at a press conference with Talon in Cotonou, Kagame said: “We are ready to work with Benin to prevent anything that may happen around its borders.” Kamaùe added that there would be no limit to what could be accomplished together to meet security challenges. Details about the cooperation were not immediately clear, though the Benin leader said it could include “supervision, coaching, training and joint deployment.” RFI

African Growth Will Erode as Inflation and Debt Costs Soar, IMF Says
Sub-Saharan Africa, hobbled by soaring inflation and higher borrowing costs as a result of the Ukraine war, will suffer its second consecutive year of slowing growth this year, the International Monetary Fund says. Half of Africa’s countries are now burdened with double-digit inflation and most have lost their access to bond markets, while foreign aid to Africa has fallen into decline, the IMF said in a report on Friday. “A funding squeeze has hit the region hard,” the IMF said. “Public debt and inflation are at levels not seen in decades.” The rising cost of living is hurting the most vulnerable Africans and adding to social pressures in many countries, at a time when their governments are struggling with the escalating cost of public debt and a cut in their access to credit markets, it said. “No country has been able to issue a Eurobond since spring 2022,” the report said. “A shortage of funding may force countries to reduce resources for critical development sectors like health, education and infrastructure, weakening the region’s growth potential.” Globe and Mail