Africa Media Review for April 28, 2022

Mali Authorities Permanently Withdraw French Media Licenses
The High Authority for Communication of Mali announced Wednesday it is permanently suspending French media outlets Radio France International and France 24, two of the most listened to news outlets in the West African country. This is the first time that Mali’s government has withdrawn the operating license of foreign media. “The Radio France International, RFI, and France 24 channels are definitively withdrawn from the subscriptions of all audiovisual program distributors and from the platforms and sites of online media bodies and cell phone operators,” the body’s statement said. The High Authority for Communication of Mali called on the government to implement the decision. AP

Burkina Faso, Guinea Request More Time To Present Transition Plans
Burkina Faso and Guinea, where the military has seized power by force, have asked their West African neighbours for more time to come up with a timetable for the transition. This comes after the expiration of the Monday 25th April ultimatum, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said on Wednesday. “Burkina Faso wished to have more time than the 25 April deadline” set by West African heads of state a month earlier, “in order to continue consultations on various issues,” an ECOWAS statement said. For its part, “Guinea presented the recent developments in the transition process and also wished to have more time in relation to the 25 April deadline”, in order to “allow for further consultations”, the organisation added. ECOWAS announced that it would send missions to the two countries before a forthcoming summit of heads of state, at unspecified dates. The authorities of both countries have made it clear that they do not intend to submit to ECOWAS’ demands, at the risk of being subjected to new sanctions. AfricaNews with AFP

Outcry in Guinea As Junta Snubs Post-Coup Deadline
Political leaders in Guinea have reacted angrily after the country’s military junta spurned demands by West Africa’s regional bloc to spell out a timeline for restoring civilian rule. The junta is locked in a showdown with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which had set a deadline of Monday for putting forward an “acceptable” timetable for transition, failing which it would impose economic and financial sanctions. But in an interview with Fim FM radio station on Monday, government spokesman Ousmane Gaoual Diallo said strongman Colonel Mamady Doumbouya gave little heed to the demand… Leading political figures on Tuesday condemned the junta’s response. “It would be dangerous for Guinea to be a victim” of sanctions that would further damage its economy, said Saikou Barry of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR) — part of an umbrella group called the G58 that was in opposition during Conde’s tenure. “Guineans will never accept a junta withdrawing us from a regional institution,” he told AFP. The country’s new authorities were guilty of “capriciousness” and a “haughty tone”, he added. AFP

Somalia: Parliament Elects New Speaker After Security Standoff
Somali lawmakers have elected a new parliamentary speaker after a tense standoff between African Union peacekeepers and police, underscoring bitter divisions within the country’s security forces exacerbated by delayed elections. On Wednesday, police loyal to President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, usually known by his nickname Farmaajo, turned away lawmakers attempting to enter the airport hangar where the vote was taking place, telling them it had been postponed. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, who has been locked in a power struggle with Mohamed for many months, had instructed peacekeepers to secure the venue to allow parliamentarians access, leading to confrontations at the gates witnessed by Reuters. Eventually, in the early hours of Thursday, lawmakers elected Sheikh Adan Mohamed Nur as the speaker of the lower house, a veteran opposition figure analysts see as a pragmatic and moderate counterpoint to President Mohamed. Mohamed and Roble took to Twitter to congratulate Nur, who beat his nearest rival by 98 votes to 74. The election of speakers in the parliament and senate are a key step in establishing the new government, which must be in place by May 17 if Somalia is to continue receiving budget support from the International Monetary Fund. Somalia’s long-delayed election process has been beset by violence from armed groups and feuding between the country’s leadership, which split the security forces so badly last year that rival factions of the army fought street battles in the capital. Al Jazeera

Photos of Egyptian Economist Who Died in Custody Raise Questions of Abuse
Ayman Hadhoud, a well-known liberal economist in Egypt, was researching some politically delicate topics like the military’s role in the economy before he disappeared into the custody of the country’s security forces in early February. He had regularly criticized the government and its economic policies on Facebook. A month after he disappeared, he died suddenly under mysterious circumstances while in custody. But officials did not inform his family that he had died until more than a month after the March 5 date on his death certificate and claimed it was from natural causes, quickly clearing themselves of any wrongdoing. “These are lies,” said Omar Hadhoud, Mr. Hadhoud’s elder brother, who collected his body from the morgue and said he saw signs of abuse. “It’s very clear his head was broken. Why else would they hide him?” Photographs of his brother’s body, taken in the morgue of the psychiatric hospital where he died and obtained by The New York Times, showed injuries to his upper body, including what forensic experts said was possibly blunt force trauma, as well as burns on his face and head. Omar Hadhoud said his brother’s skull appeared to be fractured. Another person who saw the body in the morgue and witnessed the photographs being taken said they, too, noticed visible injuries, patches of discolored skin and small brownish-red spots around his face and head. The person asked not to be named for fear of government repercussions. New York Times

UN: ‘Sudan Govt Responsible for Safety of Civilians in West Darfur’
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, have independently called on the government of Sudan to take responsibility for the protection of civilians, and to prevent further outbreaks of violence in the restive Kereinik locality in West Darfur, where at least 200 people, including children, have died in several days of violence, widely attributed to attacks by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) ‘janjaweed’ militiamen, exploiting, inflaming, and blaming ‘inter-tribal conflicts.’ In a statement from New York via a spokesperson, Secretary-General deplores the killings of civilians in Kereinik, as well as the attacks on health facilities on 24 April. He calls for an immediate end to the violence. The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the families of those killed and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. In the statement, the Secretary-General underscores that “the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians in Darfur rests with the government of Sudan”. He takes note of efforts undertaken by the Sudanese authorities to address the situation, including a commitment to evacuate injured civilians, and calls for the acceleration of the deployment of the joint security keeping forces as per the Juba Peace Agreement. The Secretary-General stresses the importance of strengthening security in Darfur including through the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement, bolstering the rule of law, safeguarding human rights, and fully implementing the national plan for the protection of civilians. He calls for unhindered humanitarian access and an independent investigation of this and other acts of intercommunal violence, to ensure those responsible for the violence are held accountable. Dabanga

Algeria Threatens To Scrap Gas Contract With Spain Amid Tensions With Morocco
Gas giant Algeria threatened Wednesday to break a contract to supply gas to Spain if Madrid transferred it onwards to “a third destination”, amid tensions with regional rival Morocco. Algeria’s state-owned energy giant Sonatrach supplied more than 40 percent of Madrid’s natural gas imports in 2021, most of which was supplied directly through the 750-kilometre (465-mile) Medgaz deepwater pipeline. Algeria, Africa’s largest gas exporter, previously also supplied gas through a second GME (Gaz Maghreb Europe) pipeline, which links Spain to Algeria via Morocco. But Algiers in November shut supply through the GME due to a diplomatic rupture with Rabat, depriving Morocco of Algerian gas. On Wednesday, Algeria’s Energy and Mines Minister Mohamed Arkab said his Spanish counterpart informed him that Madrid was to “authorise the operation, in reverse flow” of the GME pipeline, and that this would start “today or tomorrow”, an energy ministry statement said. It did not mention the country the gas would be sent to. However, in February, Spain said it would help Rabat to “guarantee its energy security” by allowing it to transport gas through the GME. Algiers warned that any routing of “Algerian natural gas delivered to Spain, whose destination is none other than that provided for in the contracts, will be considered as a breach of contractual commitments.” France24

Tigrayan Ethiopian Blue Helmets in Sudan Apply for Asylum, Says Official
A group of some 550 Ethiopian United Nations peacekeepers working in Sudan have claimed asylum due to their Tigrayan background, an official working in the area of refugee response told Reuters newswire. The blue helmets fear that they will be persecuted, after the Ethiopian Federal government launched an offensive in Tigray in November 2020, causing thousands to flee the region. Reports of arbitrary detention, extrajudicial killings and rape against Tigrayans have been documented by human rights groups. The soldiers, who number between 525 and 550, were stationed in Abyei, the contested area on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, according to the official who requested anonymity. The Tigrayan blue helmets are currently in Kadugli, South Kordofan; UNHCR is planning to move them to a camp for Eritreans in Sudan’s Gadaref state. RFI

Clashes in Ethiopia Kill 20 Muslim Worshippers – Regional Islamic Leader
Twenty Muslim worshippers were killed in Ethiopia’s Amhara region in clashes with unidentified armed men, an Islamic leader in the region said. The violence was unrelated to a conflict in the neighbouring Tigray region, which erupted in November 2020 and spilled over into Amhara and Afar regions last year. “The incident happened yesterday when Muslims were on their way to bury an individual,” Seid Muhammed, president of the Amhara Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, told Reuters on Wednesday. Seid said the armed men threw an explosive device at the Muslim crowd in the town of Gondar, killing three people and wounding five. The other victims died in ensuing clashes. “There were lootings of shops and there were attempts to set fire to three mosques. One mosque suffered minor damage where its mat was set on fire,” he said. Gizachew Muluneh, spokesperson for the Amhara regional administration, said the incident was under investigation and he would give an update later. Reuters

Ethiopia Launches a National Dialogue, but Divisions Run Deep
As an 18-month civil war grinds on, Ethiopia is gearing up for a national dialogue aimed at bridging the country’s many fault lines. But key rebel groups have not been invited, and opposition figures are accusing the government of trying to orchestrate the process. The commission tasked with overseeing the three-year national dialogue process was established in late December, shortly after government soldiers and allied militia repulsed a southward advance from forces aligned to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that came within roughly 200 kilometres of the capital, Addis Ababa. So far, officials have been vague about the aims of the dialogue and what structure it will take, referring to it as a process to heal the divisions in a nation of more than 80 ethnolinguistic groups, tackling fundamental questions over Ethiopia’s future as a federal or unitary state. New Humanitarian

For Many Migrants, the View of Rwanda Is Often Far From Rosy
Britain’s recent decision to send some migrants to Rwanda is questioned by several people resettled in this tiny East African country who say it is not a suitable refuge. One Eritrean refugee who was deported from Israel to Rwanda in 2015 said he found the country “too difficult” and moved his family to South Sudan, which promised better economic opportunities than Rwanda even though it was gripped by civil war at the time. Berhani, 35, who gave only his first name to avoid possible reprisals, said he knows many other Eritreans resettled in Rwanda who have since left to make new homes in neighboring African countries or in Europe. Questions are swirling around the suitability of Rwanda as a shelter for migrants following Britain’s announcement earlier this month that it will send to Rwanda migrants arriving in the U.K. illegally as stowaways on trucks or small boats. Their asylum claims will be processed in Rwanda and, if successful, they will stay there. AP

Can Museveni and Kagame’s Renewed Bromance Inspire Regional Peace?
“The issue of relations between the states should be at national level,” Muchwa said. “Muhoozi went to meet Kagame not as an army official. He went as the son of the president.” And going forward, stabilising relations between the two countries will depend on how Rwanda views Uganda’s response to its security interests, observers said. On his part, Muhoozi’s visit to Kigali led to the removal of an army intelligence chief who was viewed as anti-Kigali and he has pledged to crush anti-Rwanda elements who dare try to establish bases in Uganda. Angelo Izama, a Kampala-based independent researcher in Kampala said Kainerugaba acted on his own in talking to Kagame – a wildcard move.  “Whether or not he is able to sustain this trend going forward is as unpredictable as the impact of his initial involvement is,” he said. The younger Museveni’s move to reconcile the two heads of state was to make out his own path, regardless of the chequered history between both countries – dominated by the heroics of the older generation – argued Izama. Nevertheless, a cordial Kagame-Museveni relationship remains crucial to the progress of the East African region, especially in finding a lasting solution to the multiple conflicts in the DRC, its newest member. Though rich in natural resources, the DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world and since its independence in 1960, the DRC has been mired in a series of conflicts. Al Jazeera

Kenya Mediates Congo Peace Talks, but Breakthrough Elusive
Some Congolese armed groups in peace talks in Kenya asked for more time before laying down their weapons, Kenyan authorities said Thursday, signaling the talks had not yet made a breakthrough. “A few” of more than 30 armed groups with representatives at the talks “requested to be given more time to appraise themselves with the set conditions but expressed willingness to join hands in building their country,” a statement from Kenya’s presidency said. Many other groups at the talks accepted efforts by Congo’s government to demobilize former rebels and integrate them into the national army, it said. The statement gave no details on which groups had not committed to the peace process, which Kenya is trying to mediate under the banner of the seven-nation East African Community trade bloc. It cited Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi urging the rebels to accept demobilization and integration into the national force as part of efforts to build a strong army. AP

Pressure Mounts for Chad To Delay Its National Dialogue
Pressure is piling on the Chadian government to delay the date of a national dialogue set to start in two weeks as rebel groups and representatives of the country’s transitional council are yet to reach an amnesty agreement seen as a crucial condition for the success of the talks. Chad has been in turmoil since longtime ruler Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield a year ago while fighting with his soldiers against rebels from the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) – one of the last remaining rebel groups with fighters on the ground. The military then swiftly took control, dissolved parliament, paused the constitution and placed the late president’s son Mahamat Deby, also known as Kaka, at the helm of a Transitional Military Council (TMC). The 37-year-old de facto leader promised a national reconciliation dialogue with a range of political stakeholders in Chad, including the rebels, to discuss and set up a legal framework to hold elections within two years. Rebel groups agreed to participate but only if certain conditions were met before the talks. This led to a so-called “pre-dialogue” which is taking place in the Qatari capital, Doha, where about 50 rebel groups presented their demands to a delegation of 24 government representatives. Al Jazeera

Second Death Reported in New Ebola Outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo
Health authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are scrambling to contain an Ebola outbreak after a second person died from the virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday. The country declared a new outbreak of the disease last week after the death of a 31-year-old man, who was diagnosed with the disease in Mbandaka, in the DRC’s northwestern Equateur Province, after being sick for more than a week. His sister-in-law, a 25-year-old woman, was the second victim. She died on April 25. “This is very sad news, and we must continue to put all our effort into saving the lives of anyone else who may have contracted the virus. So far, at least 145 people have been listed as contacts,” Dr. Fiona Braka, the team lead for emergency responses at the WHO Regional Office for Africa, said in a statement sent to CNN. WHO said investigations to determine the source of the current outbreak remain ongoing. There have been three outbreaks of Ebola in Equateur Province since 2018. CNN

Central African Republic Adopts Bitcoin As Legal Tender
The Central African Republic has adopted bitcoin as its official currency alongside the CFA franc. The country has also legalised the use of cryptocurrencies, the presidency announced on Wednesday. The National Assembly voted “unanimously” and considered the law “governing cryptocurrency in the Central African Republic” and President Faustin Archange Touadéra promulgated it. The Minister of State and Director of Cabinet of the Presidency, Obed Namsio said in a statement. On 7 September 2021, El Salvador became the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as a legal tender and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) immediately denounced the decision as dangerous for “financial stability, financial integrity and consumer protection.” “This move puts the Central African Republic on the map of the most courageous and visionary countries in the world,” said the presidency of the Central African Republic. Already present since 2018, Russian paramilitaries have come to reinforce the Central African soldiers to repel the rebel offensive. However, the UN, international NGOs and France, the former colonial power, regularly denounce “crimes” committed by “mercenaries” of the Russian private security company Wagner, as well as by the rebellion “The context, with systemic corruption and a Russian partner under international sanctions, gives rise to suspicion,” said Thierry Vircoulon, a specialist in Central Africa at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI). “The search for ways to circumvent international financial sanctions by Russia invites caution,” he continued. “The law was passed by acclamation,” according to the presidency, but some members of the opposition “are going to attack the law before the constitutional court,” Martin Ziguélé, a former prime minister and now an opposition MP, told AFP on Wednesday. AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria Outlaws Ransom Payments, Kidnap Now Punishable by Death
The Nigerian Senate has passed a bill imposing jail terms of at least 15 years for paying a ransom to free someone who has been kidnapped, and made the crime of abduction punishable by death in cases where victims die. Opeyemi Bamidele, chair of the Senate’s judiciary, human rights and legal committee, told the Senate on Wednesday that making ransom payment punishable with lengthy jail sentences would “discourage the rising spate of kidnapping and abduction for ransom in Nigeria, which is fast spreading across the country.” The bill, which amends Nigeria’s terrorism law, mandates the death penalty for convicted kidnappers where the abduction leads to loss of life, and life imprisonment in other cases. Armed gangs operating mostly in north-eastern and north-central states of Nigeria have for more than a decade spread terror through kidnappings for ransom, targeting students, villagers and motorists on highways. They have also killed thousands of people. President Muhammadu Buhari’s government has already classified the armed kidnapping gangs, known locally as “bandits”, as terrorists this year – but that has not stemmed the kidnappings, now almost a daily occurrence. Al Jazeera

SADC “Fairly Stable and Peaceful” – Executive Secretary
Elias Mogosi, the top official of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), told a senior European foreign affairs specialist the region is “fairly stable and peaceful, despite isolated challenges”. Include in the challenges list, according to an SADC communique, is Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado. Executive Secretary Elias Magosi told Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry Africa Director Alle Dorhout a terrorist insurgency in the northern province of the east African country “killed many people and displaced more than 850 000”. He thanked the Netherlands government for its support of the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) through both its “humanitarian appeal and [the] reconstruction process (of Cabo Delgado)”. On Cabo Delgado, Dorhout is reported as saying “sustainable solutions and peace” are needed to “further bridge the gap” in efforts to involve international co-operating partners and civil society to “reintegrate those affected back to normalcy. DefenceWeb



Photo: Adam Jones