Africa Media Review for April 26, 2023

Sudan: Support Democracy to Build Peace Say Sudanese People
[…] Sudanese people, tens of thousands of who marched and protested on almost a daily basis after the two rival military forces ousted a civilian-led government in October 2021, halting preparations for elections and a transition to democracy. Now those protestors are trying to survive the current conflict, often without electricity, food, water, or safe places to hide. Nevertheless, they have a message for the world: support our democracy struggle, not just a ceasefire. … [Sudanese scholar Mahder Habtemariam Serekberhan] said that those outside Sudan who talk about peace must support the aspirations of the Sudanese people. “I think that young Africans and peace seekers must stand in solidarity with the Sudanese people and hold their leaders accountable for their role in furthering their suffering. We need to echo what the Sudanese people are saying: no intervention; and military back to the barracks.” AllAfrica

Power Struggle Imperils Sudan’s Future, ‘Lights Fuse That Could Detonate across Borders’
The on-going power struggle between Sudan’s top generals not only puts the future of the country at risk, but threatens to “detonate across borders”, fuelling widespread suffering that could go on for years, warned the UN chief on Tuesday. António Guterres was addressing an emergency session of the UN Security Council in New York, and again demanded an end to the fighting between troops loyal to Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) leader Fatttah al-Burhan, and his deputy on the so-called Transitional Sovereign Council, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) leader, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo “Hemedti”. “It is incumbent on Sudanese leaders to put the interests of their people front and centre”, said the UN chief, who began his speech by paying tribute to all the Sudanese men, women and children, who have lost their lives or been injured since the faction fighting began. UN News

WHO Warns of ‘Biological Risk’ after Sudan Fighters Seize Lab, as Violence Mars US-Brokered Ceasefire
The World Health Organization warned Tuesday of a “huge biological risk” after Sudanese fighters seized the National Public Health Laboratory in the capital Khartoum, as foreign nations raced to mount rapid evacuation efforts from the country and violence punctured a fragile US-brokered ceasefire. … A high-ranking medical source told CNN that the lab, which contains samples of diseases and other biological material, had been taken over by RSF forces. The WHO did not appoint blame for the lab seizure but said medical technicians no longer had access to the facility. Nima Saeed Abid, the WHO representative in Sudan, described the development as “extremely dangerous because we have polio isolates in the lab, we have measles isolates in the lab, we have cholera isolates in the lab.” CNN

Attacks on Prisons in Sudanese Capital Free Thousands of Inmates
Thousands of prisoners in the Sudanese capital were freed after men wearing Rapid Support Forces (RSF) uniforms launched attacks on several prisons. Among the freed prisoners is Mohamed Adam ‘Tupac’, who was held in El Huda Prison in Omdurman. In a statement on Saturday, Army Commander Abdelfattah El Burhan accused the RSF of storming the El Huda Prison and killing its guards. “The release of the inmates poses a grave security threat and illustrates the state of indiscipline the rebelling [RSF] forces have reached,” he said. The commander of the RSF, Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, was quick to confirm that his forces did not attack the prisons. His media office had already denied “allegations circulating on social media regarding the forces’ storming of a prison and the release of prisoners”. … In an article published by Al Jazeera Net yesterday, Muzdalifa Osman reported that “although the RSF were quick to deny their connection to the attack on the El Huda Prison, and setting prisoners free, some of the escapees confirmed that the attackers belonged to the RSF, and that they wanted to free their comrades who had been sentenced for criminal cases”. Dabanga

Burkina Faso: UN Rights Office Calls for Probe into Latest Deadly Attack on Civilians
Authorities in Burkina Faso must conduct a full and independent investigation into the recent killing of scores of civilians in a village near the border with Mali, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, said on Tuesday. The incident occurred on Thursday when armed men in uniform encircled Karma village, located in northern Yatenga province, and randomly shot at people. At least 150 civilians were killed, and many more wounded, according to reports. The attackers – allegedly members of the defence and security forces, accompanied by paramilitary auxiliaries known as the Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland (VDP) – then proceeded to loot homes, shops and mosques. UN News

Ethiopian Gov’t and Oromo Rebel Group Begin Talks in Zanzibar
Ethiopia’s federal government and a rebel group from the country’s Oromia region opened peace talks on Tuesday in the Tanzanian island archipelago of Zanzibar, according to a spokesperson for the militants. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the talks with the Oromo Liberation Army, or OLA, on Sunday at an event to celebrate a cease-fire, signed in November, with another rebel group from the northern Tigray region. Odaa Tarbii, the OLA’s spokesperson, told The Associated Press that the Oromia talks began on Tuesday morning and are expected to last until Thursday. “I want to clarify these are preliminary talks meant to pave the way for comprehensive negotiations in the very near future,” Odaa said. “The focus, for now, is confidence building and clarifying positions.” This week’s talks are being mediated by Norway and Kenya, according to Odaa. He said the European Union, the United States and a regional bloc known as IGAD are expected to be “part of the process going forward” if they are successful. AfricaNews/AP

Cameroon to Redeploy Troops to CAR, Nigeria Borders Amid Spike in Attacks
Cameroon’s military plans to redeploy troops to its borders with Nigeria and the Central African Republic after an increase in attacks from militants and rebels. The military said hundreds of Boko Haram fighters are hiding in the bush after last week’s invasion of the Mayo Moskota district on the northern border with Nigeria. The Cameroon government reported several hundred homes were set on fire, leaving thousands homeless. Joseph Beti Assomo, Cameroon’s defense minister, said President Paul Biya ordered him to convene an emergency security meeting in Yaounde this week to examine ways of stopping the attacks. … Northern border villagers said Cameroon’s military began withdrawing troops when Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram terror group, was declared killed. Nigeria’s government confirms Shekau died in May 2021. Cameroon’s military denied accusations that troops have abandoned civilians. The military said it has changed its strategy, but the protection of civilians and their property remains a priority. VOA

DRC Locals, Backed by Police, Claim Three Ugandan Villages in Zombo
A border dispute between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is brewing again in the frontier town of Padea in West Nile after DRC locals backed by the country’s police crossed into Uganda and laid claim to three villages. The villages are all in Zombo District, Uganda. Such incursions by DRC security personnel into Uganda have been a constant cause for concern in parts of West Nile. They have also become a source of insecurity, which undermines cross-border trade between the two countries. Uganda’s Area Resident District Commissioner, Lt Col (Rtd) Pius Alitema, told The Monitor that his office has scheduled a meeting with DRC security from Mahagi Territory as part of interim efforts to calm the situation. East African

Libya: 34 Bodies Washed Ashore in Five Days
The bodies of 34 illegal migrants who drowned while trying to reach Europe have been recovered from the coast of western Libya in five days, the Libyan Red Crescent (LRC) said Monday. “For the second consecutive day, after the report of the sinking of a boat of migrants near the coast of Sabratha (west), 11 bodies were recovered and handed over to the authorities of the city (…), bringing the total number of bodies recovered to 34,” the LRC said on Facebook. On Wednesday, the LRC reported six bodies found on the shores of Sabratha, 70 km west of the capital Tripoli and 17 more on Sunday. Images posted on Facebook show LRC volunteers carrying bodies in black bags and depositing them in ambulances. “An inflatable boat carrying dozens of migrants flipped over not far from the coast of Sabratha on Wednesday,” a security source in the city told AFP, estimating that “the number of casualties could increase.” AfricaNews/AFP

South Africa Backtracks on Quitting ICC, Cites Communication ‘Error’
South Africa is not planning to quit the International Criminal Court, as earlier suggested by President Cyril Ramaphosa, his office said Tuesday, citing a communication error from the ruling ANC party. Hours earlier, Ramaphosa had said his African National Congress had decided to withdraw South Africa from the International Criminal Court, which last month issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ICC arrest warrant meant that Pretoria, which is to host the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa bloc summit this year, would have to detain Putin on arrival. “The presidency wishes to clarify that South Africa remains a signatory (to the ICC),” Ramaphosa’s office said in a late-night statement. It said the “clarification follows an error in a comment made during a media briefing held by the governing African National Congress.” The ANC had earlier told journalists that the issue of South Africa withdrawing from the ICC had been raised at a weekend meeting of its national executive council. VOA

Buying Banknotes to survive Zimbabwe’s Sky-High Inflation
“Everyone finds selling on the streets the easiest way to survive, but you have to be creative.” Noel Ngwenya, 44, from Chivi District of Masvingo Province spends his working days in downtown Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city, with a loudhailer advertising a unique service. He collects torn or soiled foreign currency notes that have been rejected by supermarkets and other traders – mostly US dollars or South African rand, which are both legal tender in Zimbabwe. Mr Ngwenya pays his clients 50% of the value of whichever note they bring – so they get $1 for a torn $2 note or 100 rand for a torn 200 rand note. … Zimbabwe’s rate of inflation has been falling since August 2022 when it hit a staggering 285%. However, in March this year it was still running at 87.6%, forcing Zimbabweans to find creative ways to survive. A recent International Labour Organization Harare report says 76% of employment in Zimbabwe is now in the informal sector, in other words, selling goods or services without registering with the authorities. BBC

Lawyers: Britain’s Plan to Send Migrants to Rwanda is Illegal
Britain’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda is unlawful because the East African country is not a safe country, lawyers for a group of asylum seekers told the court of appeal in London on Monday. Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak government wants to send thousands of migrants more than 4,000 miles (6,400 kilometres) away to Rwanda as part of a $174 million deal agreed last year. It regards the plan as central to deterring record numbers of asylum seekers arriving in small boats across the Channel from France, something Sunak has made one of his five priorities amidst facing pressure from some of his own conservative lawmakers and the public to resolve the issue. However, the first planned flight to Rwanda last June was blocked by a last-minute ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which imposed an injunction preventing any deportations until the conclusion of legal action in Britain. Reuters

Death Toll in Kenyan Starvation Cult Has Risen to 89 – Interior Minister
The death toll among followers of a Kenyan cult who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves has now risen to 89, Kenya’s Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki said on Tuesday. The death toll has steadily risen in recent days as authorities have carried out exhumations in an 800-acre area of the Shakahola forest in eastern Kenya where the self-proclaimed Good News International Church was based. “I am informed by those who are responsible that, until now, over and above the figure that was given yesterday at 73, we have been able to discover until this hour another 16 bodies, bringing the total to 89,” Kindiki told reporters at the scene. He added that three more people had been rescued alive, bringing the total number of survivors found so far to 34. News24

French Court Halts Expulsions from Indian Ocean Island to Comoros
A French court on Tuesday halted the controversial expulsion of migrants from a slum on its Indian Ocean island territory of Mayotte – a plan that sparked clashes between locals and security forces and triggered tensions with neighbouring Comoros. The operation, called Operation Wuambushu (“Take Back” in the local language), aimed to expel irregular migrants from Mayotte, claiming it would improve living conditions for locals in France’s poorest department. Some 1,800 members of the French security forces have been deployed for the operation, including hundreds sent from Paris, with young locals and police clashing in the district of Tsoundzou outside the main town of Mamoudzou since Sunday. AFP journalists reported clashes outside slums in Mayotte’s main city on Tuesday. Barricades of tyres and dustbins lined the road and protesters threw stones at police, who fired tear gas. Al Jazeera