Africa Media Review for April 19, 2022

A Year After Chad Coup, Junta’s Promises Start To Fade
Prospects of a swift return to civilian rule in Chad seem to be fading nearly a year after the son of the country’s veteran leader took the helm after his father died fighting rebels. The international community, led by France, swiftly endorsed Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a 37-year-old four-star general, after Idriss Deby senior’s dramatic demise. Both his father’s death and his son’s succession as “transitional” leader at the head of a 15-member junta were announced on April 20 2021 — a day that deeply shook the volatile Sahel region. Previous coups in other countries in the region had triggered a stern response from France and the international community. But Chad — a key ally in the fight against jihad insurgents — escaped any such retribution. The younger Deby was immediately embraced as Chad’s interim leader. His first acts were to dissolve parliament, sack the government and repeal the constitution. He promised to hold “free and democratic elections” after an 18-month “transition” — a period that could be extended once — and vowed not to stand in the future presidential ballot. France, the European Union and African Union have called for the junta to uphold the 18-month deadline. But cracks emerged in Deby’s plan soon after it was announced. They have since widened, and today experts doubt the initial timetable can be sustained. AFP

Somalia’s Parliament Hit by Al-Shabab Mortar Attack
Terrorist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for a mortar fire attack on Somalia’s parliament Monday that injured at least six people during a joint session. Explosions were heard in the middle of a parliamentary session. Several people were injured, but no elected officials were hit by the shrapnel that landed in the fortified airport compound near parliament in the capital Mogadishu, officials and eyewitness reports. “We don’t have details yet but these explosions were caused by mortar fire, the lawmakers were inside the building when the incident happened, they are safe,” a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Terrorist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for a mortar fire attack on Somalia’s parliament Monday that injured at least six people during a joint session. Explosions were heard in the middle of a parliamentary session. Several people were injured, but no elected officials were hit by the shrapnel that landed in the fortified airport compound near parliament in the capital Mogadishu, officials and eyewitness reports. “We don’t have details yet but these explosions were caused by mortar fire, the lawmakers were inside the building when the incident happened, they are safe,” a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. AfricaNews with AFP

Libya’s Rival Officials Conclude Election Talks Without Deal
Rival Libyan officials wrapped up weeklong talks in the Egyptian capital without an agreement on constitutional arrangements for elections, the United Nations said Tuesday. Twelve lawmakers from Libya’s east-based parliament and 12 from the High Council of State, an advisory body in the capital of Tripoli in western Libya, took part in the U.N.-brokered talks that concluded Monday in Cairo. The U.N. special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, said the officials agreed to reconvene next month after the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. Williams said the U.N. was working to seize consensus reached earlier this year between the two chambers with the aim of reaching an agreement on a constitutional and legislative framework for parliamentary and presidential elections. AP

UNITAMS Slates Sudan Military Newspaper for Slanderous Statement
The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) tweeted yesterday in response to the provocation of an inflammatory article in Sudan’s Armed Forces newspaper, El Jaish, by saying they would “hold them to account” without delay. The tweet accused the newspaper of writing an article that incited violence against political leaders in Sudan, thus bearing the hallmarks of a “hate crime”. The article in dispute was written by El Jaish’s editor-in-chief, Col Ibrahim El Houri, who accused Western countries of targeting the Sudanese army. The article also claimed the head of UNITAMS, Volker Perthes, was working to spread terrorism. UNITAMS full tweet: “Demonizing public or private figures, and inciting against them is a conduct of hate crimes that societies and authorities have interest in holding its perpetrators to account, without delay.” This is the first time the army newspaper has attacked Western countries since the ousting of former President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Dabanga

South Sudan’s President Kiir Travels to UAE for Bilateral Talks
South Sudan President Salva Kiir and a number of senior government officials left for the United State Arab Emirates Monday morning on a diplomatic mission, his spokesperson announced. “The president and his team have today (Monday) left for the United Arab Emirates for a three-day working visit.  “The president will hold bilateral meetings with the leaders of UAE on the areas in which South Sudan and the United Arab Emirates can further strengthen their relations and cooperation in areas of mutual interest,” said Ateny Wek Ateny, who heads Kiir’s Press Office. East African

South Sudan: MSF Staff, Dozens Killed in Renewed Violence in Unity State
A Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff member was among dozens of civilians killed in latest violence that erupted in Leer County of South Sudan’s Unity State on April 4, the medical charity said. Peter Mathor Tap, according to MSF, had been working in Leer since 2007, initially as Senior Department Supervisor and more recently as Nursing Care Provider in one of MSF’s Community Based Health Care (CBHC) facilities. He was shot and killed by armed aggressors on April 10, thus the second MSF staff member to be killed in Leer due to violence since December 2021. “We are shocked and profoundly saddened by the tragic death of our colleague Peter. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends,” said Federica Franco, MSF Head of Mission for South Sudan. He added, “We strongly condemn the indiscriminate violence being carried out by armed groups that have killed and injured many innocent civilians in Leer, including those most vulnerable, such as children, elderly and persons with disabilities.” Sudan Tribune

Rwanda: UK Refugee ‘Offshoring’: PM Johnson Gets New Headache Trying To Cure One
The plan by the British government on Thursday to send thousands of refugees denied entry into UK territory off to Rwanda, elicited political debate that could be Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s latest headache. The Migration and Economic Development Partnership signed by the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel and Rwandan Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Vincent Biruta is meant to help the British government tackle the continual flow of migrants attempting to reach the UK. Many of them come from poor countries in West and Horn of Africa, and war-ravaged countries of the Middle East. But UK officials say the migrants are seeking better economic opportunities and are victims of cartels it wants to end. “This will see migrants who make dangerous or illegal journeys, such as by small boat or hidden in lorries, have their asylum claim processed in Rwanda. Those whose claims are accepted will then be supported to build a new and prosperous life in one of the fastest-growing economies, recognised globally for its record on welcoming and integrating migrants,” said a dispatch from the UK government. East African

Uganda Oil Project Casts Shadow Over Total’s Eco-Friendly Image
The French oil and gas company TotalEnergies has worked to cultivate a green reputation with climate goals and plans to ramp up renewable power, but a massive east African oil project is casting a shadow over that messaging campaign. Total plans to drill for oil in a richly biodiverse national park in Uganda and build a 900-mile pipeline, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which will flow through sensitive environments to a port in Tanzania for export. Burning that oil could release the equivalent of 34m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year into the atmosphere, according to opponents of the project, who point out scientists have said the world needs to drastically decrease, not increase, emissions. Total, France’s second largest company by revenue, rebranded in May 2021, renaming itself TotalEnergies and adopting a rainbow-themed logo. But its work in east Africa has become a rallying point for protesters, including during large climate marches in France last month. Guardian

Mali Gets More Military Equipment From Russia
Mali has received another batch of military equipment from Russia after the European Union suspended its military training programme with the Sahel nation. Mali’s armed forces chief, Maj Gen Oumar Diarra, received two combat helicopters and surveillance radars, the Malian presidency said in a statement. The presidency shared a video showing the equipment as it was delivered by a Russian cargo flight at the airport in the capital Bamako. Mr Diarra termed Russia’s support to Mali as “a manifestation of the very fruitful partnership”. Last month, Mali received two Russian-made combat helicopters and radars shortly after reports that its defence minister and air force chief “discreetly” visited Moscow. State media widely publicised the reception and hailed Russia’s growing support for Mali in counter-insurgency operations. Mali has defended relations with Russia after international backlash over a decision to deploy mercenaries from the controversial Wagner paramilitary firm in December. BBC

Zimbabwe Turns 42: Opposition Calls for ‘Legitimate Democracy’
For the first time, the celebrations were held in Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city, and opposition figures from the biggest opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) led by Nelson Chamisa were part of the festivities. “Whereas there are political differences, there is no debate about honour, respect and acknowledgement of all national institutions, organs, events and programmes. Our loyalty to Zimbabwe and our loyalty to the country is the absolute marker of the preservation of our history, legacy and identity as a people,” said CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere. However, despite attending the celebrations, the CCC emphasised that “the new gun today is not the AK-47, but the vote” rallying its supporters to remove Zanu PF from power. Party leader Chamisa in his Independence Day celebration speech said Zimbabwe should grow into a “legitimate democracy”. “Independence means the respect of citizens and their dignity by leaders, good relationships, love and unity, free and fair elections without rigging, no killing of each other because the peace Zimbabweans enjoy was brought about by those elders, some of who are late,” he said. For many citizens, while festivities were underway, not knowing where their next meal would come from had become a stark reality in Zimbabwe. News24

‘Lawless Logging’ in DRC Raises Concerns Over $500M Forests Deal Signed by Boris Johnson
Environmental groups have raised concerns about a $500m (£380m) forest protection deal signed by Boris Johnson at Cop26, after a damning report into the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s “lawless” logging sector. Johnson signed the letter of intent on behalf of the Central African Forest Initiative (Cafi) for a 10-year agreement which includes objectives to protect high-value forests and peatlands. Of the £200m committed to protecting the Congo basin by the UK at Cop26, £32m was given to Cafi from the aid budget. At the beginning of April, the DRC government released a long-awaited audit of the country’s logging industry. It found that six successive ministers had illegally allocated at least 18 logging concessions, breaking a near 20-year moratorium on new industrial felling in the world’s second largest rainforest. More than $3m in royalties has not been paid to the government by operators due to a “chaotic situation”, according to the audit, which marks the first step of the deal between the DRC and 12 donors signed on the first day of Cop26 in Glasgow to unlock $500m to protect the vast ecosystem. Guardian

Hundreds Dead and Dozens Missing After Floods Devastate South Africa
[Photos] More than 440 people are dead and dozens are missing after days of torrential rainfall spurred devastating floods across eastern South Africa. Rescuers, including search parties of soldiers, continue to scour the wreckage for those who were swept away. Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones