Africa Media Review for April 20, 2021

Chad President Idriss Deby Dies on Frontlines, Army Spokesman Says
Chad’s President Idriss Deby has died while visiting troops on the frontline of a fight against northern rebels, an army spokesman said on Tuesday, the day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election. Deby, 68, came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders. His campaign said on Monday he was joining troops battling what he called terrorists after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of km (miles) south toward the capital N’Djamena. The cause of death was not yet clear. Army spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna announced his death in a broadcast on state television, surrounded by a group of military officers he referred to as the National Council of Transition. “A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together,” he said. … Deby was also dealing with mounting public discontent over his management of Chad’s oil wealth and crackdowns on opponents. His election victory had given him a sixth term in office but the April 11 vote was boycotted by opposition leaders. Reuters

China Suspicion, ‘Foreign Plot’ Fears Hamper Africa Vaccine Plan
As if the struggle to secure its meager supplies of Covid-19 vaccines wasn’t bad enough, Africa is now having a hard time getting people to take them. Only 5.22 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa have been vaccinated, a region with a population of about a billion. From suspicions about Chinese-made vaccines in Zimbabwe and conspiracy theories in Ivory Coast about Covid-19 being “a planned event by foreign actors” to Somalia, where the Islamist militant Al-Shabaab group is warning people they’re “guinea pigs” for AstraZeneca, large sections of Africans are steering clear of vaccines. Only about 17.5% of the doses available in Ivory Coast and 19% in Zimbabwe have found their way into arms. Already lagging behind the rest of the world in its inoculations, the wave of vaccine skepticism — made worse by a lack of trust in local governments and misinformation on social media — threatens to put the continent even further behind. … Vaccine hesitancy is standing in the way of efforts by African governments to head off successive waves of the virus. A prolonged pandemic will delay the continent’s recovery, already forecast by the International Monetary Fund to be the slowest region to revive. Bloomberg

Somalia President Calls for African Union Mediation
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said he was willing to negotiate with stakeholders in Somalia’s political crisis in order to find a solution. Mohamed, known by his nickname Farmaajo, made the announcement Sunday night during an unannounced visit to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he met with President Felix Tshisekedi, the current chair of the African Union (AU). … Following a meeting Saturday with Farmaajo in Mogadishu, the ambassadors of the United States and Britain and representatives from the United Nations, European Union and the AU told Farmaajo “there is no other solution but consensus-based agreement,” according to a source familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified. … Meanwhile, the term extension created tension in Mogadishu among members of the Somali security forces. Former commander of the Mogadishu police forces Sadik Omar Hassan, who was sacked last week after he opposed the extension, has camped in a neighborhood inhabited by his clan in the southwestern parts of Mogadishu. Lawmakers representing his clan urged the federal government not to attack him. … According to observers, the standoff between the security forces created fear among residents in the capital of a potential return to an armed rivalry between political stakeholders. VOA

Amnesty: ‘Alarming Crackdown’ on Rights Defenders in Congo Brazzaville
Rights group Amnesty International has accused the Republic of Congo of conducting an “alarming crackdown” on human rights defenders and activists who have spoken out about the economic crisis in the country. Amnesty said it gathered testimonies from more than 50 people, including patients, trade unionists and members of human rights associations, in its report that documents the devastating effect of the economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic on the country. “Human rights defenders, trade unionists, journalists and students have all been targeted with legal proceedings, threats, and ill-treatment” for claiming their economic and social rights, the London-based human rights group said in its report published on Monday. Congo’s economy, heavily dependent on oil, took a hit in 2014 when crude prices collapsed, leading to mounting debt that rose to more than 100 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

Dozens Killed in Central Mali Jihadist-Hunter Clashes
About 40 people have been killed in recent clashes between jihadists and traditional hunters, the government of central Mali’s Mopti region said Monday, with the fighting displacing around 1,000 people. The war-torn region’s government said in a statement that clashes began with a dispute between two brothers, one a traditional hunter and the other an alleged jihadist. The fighting between central Mali’s main towns of Mopti and Djenne left about 20 dead on both sides, the statement added. Army reinforcements have been dispatched to the area. A Malian security official who requested anonymity told AFP that the clashes broke out after the hunters decided to “take back” rice that jihadists had collected as taxes. AFP was unable to independently confirm the details. Sidiki Diarra, spokesman for a group of traditional hunters in the area, said the clashes began on April 12. “We lost many hunters (and) the survivors have moved to neighboring villages,” he said. The Defense Post with AFP

Ethiopia Asks UN to Urge Egypt, Sudan to Resume Nile Dam Talks
Ethiopia told the United Nations Security Council that Egypt and Sudan aren’t negotiating in good faith and asked members to urge the governments to return to talks on a controversial Nile dam, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said. … The two countries are downstream of the GERD and have refused a data exchange initiative by Ethiopia before the second filling of the dam during the upcoming rainy season. Egypt’s irrigation ministry said in statement that Ethiopia’s “unilateral measures could harm the two downstream countries, due to the absence of a clear coordination mechanism between the three countries within the framework of a fair and binding legal agreement.” Two days ago, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry began visits to several African countries including Kenya, Tunisia, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo to discuss the dam, according to the statement. Bloomberg

Eighteen Killed in Clashes between Ethiopia’s Oromo, Amhara Groups
Clashes between people belonging to Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups, the Oromo and Amhara, killed at least 18 people late last week, local officials said on Monday, the latest outbreak of violence ahead of national elections in June. Political and ethnic violence has become a major challenge for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, whose political reforms have also emboldened regional powerbrokers after nearly three decades of iron-fisted government. The Oromo are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group and the Amhara are its second largest. The Amhara and Oromiya regions share a border and attacks on civilians from one ethnic group living on the other side of the border have been rising in recent months. The latest incident happened in the north of the country, in Ataye town in Amhara region on Friday, after Amhara’s security forces killed a shopkeeper, said Jemal Haasen, head of the region’s Jile-Temuga district of Oromo Special Zone. The zone is classified as special because it is in Amhara region, but residents are predominately Oromos. Reuters

Suspected ISWAP Jihadists Storm Army Base in Nigeria’s Borno State
Suspected Islamic fighters stormed into a base in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state before an aerial bombardment killed their “key commanders,” the military said Monday. Jihadists from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) rolled up in a dozen gun trucks at the garrison town of Dikwa late Sunday and dislodged troops after a lengthy battle. “The terrorists in their numbers… attacked the town… just as the locals prepared to break their Ramadan fast for the day,” the military said in a statement. The soldiers withdrew to nearby Gulumba Gana town “to enable Air Component to engage” the insurgents, said the statement from army spokesman Brigadier General Mohammed Yerima. Troops launched a counter-offensive against the jihadists on Monday and “successfully reoccupied their main headquarters in Dikwa,” Yerima said. … A military source and residents said the militants had attacked the base around 1700 GMT on Sunday and stole weapons. “The terrorists attacked on two fronts aboard several light trucks mounted with heavy machine guns,” a military officer told AFP. The Defense Post with AFP

Nigeria: Twin Attacks Rock Police Divisions in Abia, Anambra
Two weeks after Imo State security facilities were attacked four times in five days, leading to the unveiling last week of a security outfit in Southeast codenamed Ebube Agu, two police divisions in Abia and Anambra states were yesterday set ablaze by armed groups in what looked like another set of coordinated attacks. A divisional police station in Uzuakoli, Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, was razed in the early hours of Monday. It was gathered that the armed group attacked the police station around 2:00a.m. and freed suspects in police cells before setting the station ablaze. The attack happened about the same time as the attack on Zonal Police Headquarters, Zone 13 in Ukpo, Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State, also in the Southeast region. Spokesman of the Abia State Police Command, Geoffrey Ogbonna, said an investigation has commenced to unravel the perpetrators of the attack, adding that no group has claimed responsibility yet. He disclosed that the gunmen who razed the Uzuakoli Police station used dynamite and rocket launchers, which frustrated the efforts of the policemen guarding the station to repel them. The Guardian Nigeria

Nigeria: We’ll Continue to Assist Our Close Neighbours – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that Nigeria will continue to assist its close neighbours in diverse ways as required. The President’s spokesperson, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, said Mr Buhari gave the assurance when he hosted the newly inaugurated President of Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, who was in Nigeria on his first international visit. The Nigerian leader also assured Mr Bazoum that Nigeria would continue to do all it could to stabilise the West African sub-region, saying that Nigerians and Nigeriens shared similar culture and language. … The president congratulated Mr Bazoum on winning the recent presidential election, and his successful inauguration into office. … Mr Bazoum had earlier said he was delighted to make Nigeria his first port of call, noting that the two countries had common interests, “and, therefore, a good relationship is very important.” On security, he observed that the fact that some Nigerians flee to Niger during terrorist attacks “shows that we need to cooperate, and we will face our challenges together.” NAN