Africa Media Review for April 29, 2022

Saadia Samatar Makes History As Somalia’s First Female Deputy Speaker
Members of Somalia’s House of the People (Lower House of the bicameral parliament) on Thursday elected Ms Saadia Yasin Haji Samatar as its first deputy speaker. Ms Samatar becomes the first woman to be elected to the top leadership in parliament in a largely patriarchal Somali society. In the last round of voting, Ms Samatar garnered 137 votes, beating Mr Mohamed Ali Omar alias Ananug who attained 107. Soon after the election of Ms Samatar was announced, Villa Somalia, the State House in Mogadishu, issued a statement with President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo congratulating her for her achievement. On Wednesday, Farmaajo also issued a statement congratulating Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nur alias Madobe, who was elected speaker of the 11th parliament of Somalia. Similar congratulatory messages came from the office of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and many political figures. Ms Batula Ahmed Gaballe, the chairperson of the influential Somali Women Association, welcomed the election of Ms Samatar. “The election of Ms Samatar to co-lead the Somali parliament is the first step towards greater female participation in decision-making at national level,” she said. East African

Africa’s Tolerance for Coups “No Longer Exists”, Says Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa says the African Union and its Member States are demonstrating that the acceptance of unconstitutional takeovers of governments on the continent will not be tolerated. The Head of State was briefing media following the official State visit of the President of the Republic of Guinea Bissau, General Umaro Sissoco Embaló, on Thursday. The West African country was involved in an attempted coup earlier this year. President Ramaphosa emphasised that South Africa has always advocated for peaceful negotiation in any conflict situation. “As a continent, we have a lot to learn from our previous experiences. We also, equally, have a lot to learn in the way that ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] is dealing with these – much as it is experiencing a spate of coups. The determination and the decisiveness in the leadership of ECOWAS is something that stands out as a very good example for the rest of the continent. “I think the continent is moving and maturing towards a state where tolerance for coups and acceptance of coups is now a thing of the past. The AU has taken a very clear and strong position on this, and I think it sends a very strong and important message to those who would want to perpetrate coups that they will have no place to hide and action will also be taken against them.” DefenceWeb

‘Relentless’ Destruction of Rainforest Continuing Despite Cop26 Pledge
Pristine rainforests were once again destroyed at a relentless rate in 2021, according to new figures, prompting concerns governments will not meet a Cop26 deal to halt and reverse deforestation by the end of the decade. From the Brazilian Amazon to the Congo basin, the tropics lost 11.1m hectares of tree cover last year, including 3.75m ha of primary forest critical to limiting global heating and biodiversity loss. Boreal forests, mainly in Russia, experienced a record loss in 2021 driven by the worst wildfire season in Siberia since records began, according to new data from the University of Maryland released via Global Forest Watch. Experts called the continued forest loss a disaster for action on global heating and said the 143 governments that pledged to halt and reverse forest loss by 2030 at Cop26 held in Glasgow, had to urgently make good on their commitment…The expansion of small-scale agriculture and harvesting of trees to meet energy demands drove forest loss in the DRC last year, while Bolivia experienced record primary forest loss due to agriculture and fires, including in protected areas. Guardian

Increased Infectious Disease Risk Likely From Climate Change
Climate change will result in thousands of new viruses spread among animal species by 2070 — and that’s likely to increase the risk of emerging infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans, according to a new study. This is especially true for Africa and Asia, continents that have been hotspots for deadly disease spread from humans to animals or vice versa over the last several decades, including the flu, HIV, Ebola and coronavirus. Researchers, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Nature, used a model to examine how over 3,000 mammal species might migrate and and share viruses over the next 50 years if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), which recent research shows is possible. Researchers said not all viruses will spread to humans or become pandemics the scale of the coronavirus but the number of cross-species viruses increases the risk of spread to humans. The study highlights two global crises — climate change and infectious disease spread — as the world grapples with what to do about both. Previous research has looked at how deforestation and extinction and wildlife trade lead to animal-human disease spread, but there’s less research about how climate change could influence this type of disease transmission, the researchers said at a media briefing Wednesday. AP

President Kenyatta Urges Rebels To Work With Tshisekedi for Peace in DRC
[Video] Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has reiterated his call for armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo to lay down their weapons and work with President Félix Tshisekedi for peace and stability. Rebel groups have been warring in eastern DRC, leading to loss of life and property as well as displacement of locals. DR Congo recently joined the bloc as the seventh member. Last week, leaders from the East African Community urged the armed groups to choose dialogue, with some of the groups meeting in Nairobi to begin talks. The EAC leaders also agreed to send a regional force to quell any further violence in eastern DRC, a move that was endorsed by the African Union and the United Nations. Talks between emissaries of Tshisekedi and representatives of armed groups ended on Wednesday in Nairobi after meeting for five days. The negotiators will meet again in the coming days, before the next conclave of evaluation of the Heads of State of the East African community scheduled for the end of May. East African

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. Even as talks proceeded in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, fighting erupted in eastern Congo near the Uganda border as government troops battled the M23 rebel group. Fleeing gunfire, hundreds of Congolese civilians regularly seek shelter in Uganda. AP

Ugandan Media Persecuted for Airing Critical Views of First Family, Rights Group Says
[Video] Press freedom supporters are condemning Ugandan authorities for persecuting media that air critical views of President Yoweri Museveni and his family. Ugandan security forces in March raided Digitalk TV, an online station, and arrested and charged its reporters with cyber stalking and offensive communication. The charges could see them facing up to seven years in prison, as Halima Athumani reports for World Press Freedom Day on May 3, from Kampala, Uganda. Videographer: Mukasa Francis. Voice of America

Ethiopian Government Denies Withdrawal of Tigrinyan Forces
The Ethiopian government on Thursday denied claims of the announcement of the withdrawal of the Tigrayan forces. Government spokesperson Legesse Tulu told state media that the news that Tigrayan forces had left Afar were “big lies.” The government asserted that the rebellious forces were still present in the neighboring region of Afar. Speaking to Reuters on Thursday, Afar Police Commissioner Ahmed Harif said that Tigrayan forces were still in four districts bordering Tigray – Koneba, Abala, Berhale, as well as Magale – and had not moved since Monday. Getachew Reda, the spokesman for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controls Tigray, did not respond to requests for comment. On Monday, he told Reuters Tigrayan forces were leaving Afar. The Tigrayan forces said they were withdrawing so that humanitarian convoys could enter. Only a trickle of aid has made it into famine-hit Tigray, where more than 90% of the population needs food aid since the Ethiopian military withdrew at the end of June. The United Nations has blamed government bureaucracy and fighting for blocking convoys. On March 25 the federal government announced a unilateral ceasefire, saying it would allow humanitarian aid to enter. AfricaNews with Reuters

Int’l Envoy Arrives in Sudan Ahead of UNITAMS Joint Discussion
Representatives of the Troika countries (USA, UK, and Norway), as well as senior officials from France, Germany, and representatives from the European Union (EU), arrived in Khartoum yesterday to discuss the possibility of providing economic assistance. Members of the international delegation will meet with Sudanese officials and civil society members to stress the importance of making “rapid and tangible progress in setting a framework for an inclusive civilian transitional government”. The visiting countries came to confirm their support for Sudan’s democratic transition ahead of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), African Union, and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) tripartite Eid al-Fitr dialogue with a number of Sudanese stakeholders. African Union envoy, Mohamed Elhassan Labat, stressed the need for “large sectors of the resistance committees and female activists to participate in the dialogue”, and described the situation in Sudan as “sensitive and dangerous”. He also added that the National Congress Party had not participated in the dialogue, and the tripartite effort was “considering their participation”. IGAD representative, Ismail Awais, welcomed the release of Wajdi Saleh and others as a “positive development,” he called for the release of the rest of the political prisoners and resistance committees before Eid al-Fitr as part of a show of good faith. Dabanga

Sudan: Detained Protesters Sent to Prison Without Any Preliminary Evidence
Six detained anti-coup protesters from Khartoum were transferred from the federal investigations bureau in Khartoum North (Bahri) to El Hoda Prison as their detention was renewed without any preliminary evidence. Human Rights Watch condemns the unlawful detention of hundreds of protesters. The Coordination of the El Dayum El Shargiyah Resistance Committees said that 6 of its detainees were transferred from the federal investigations bureau in Bahri to El Hoda Prison and that their detention was renewed without any preliminary evidence. The detainees are also still prevented from meeting their lawyers. The El Dayum El Shargiyah Resistance Committees, from the east of Khartoum, indicated that detainee Hamza Saleh was still held in the federal investigation buildings in Bahri and he was not transferred with the rest of the detainees. Three others were released two days ago. The Coordination said that the detainees suffer from health conditions and that their transfer process included the shaving of the detainees’ heads and exposing them to the worst types of psychological torture. They called on all the revolutionaries, parties, and entities to stand with the detainees of El Dayum El Shargiyah and all other detainees of the Sudanese revolution. Dabanga

Media Rights Body Helps RFI, France 24 Bypass Mali Internet Ban
On Wednesday, the junta definitively banned RFI and France 24 in the wake of reports that the Sahel nation’s army had carried out abuses. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said it had used its Operation Collateral Freedom mirror site to ensure that the websites of the two broadcasters can be accessed from within Mali. RSF launched the operation in 2015. The organisation’s “mirror sites” enable 47 websites in 24 countries, including Russia, “to circumvent censorship by their governments.” RFI and France 24 cover African news extensively and have a strong following in the former French colony. The broadcast ban comes after diplomatic relations between Mali and its former colonial power France plunged to their lowest point in years amid disputes over democracy and the alleged presence of Russian paramilitaries in the country. Mali expelled the French ambassador in January. RFI

‘White Hands’: The Rise of Private Armies in African Conflicts
Ahead of the holy month of Ramadan every year, traders from neighbouring towns flock to the popular cattle market in the central Malian town of Moura. That ritual continued this year. But on March 27 – one of those market days – military helicopters suddenly appeared in the sky. Malian troops and foreign soldiers descended on the busy market to target members of armed groups who had controlled the remote town for years. Witnesses said the bloodied operation lasted for more than four days, with about 300 civilian men, some of them suspected fighters, summarily executed in that period. One trader said dozens of men, including two of his brothers, were executed by Russian-speaking soldiers who “took them several meters away and executed them, point-blank.” The “Non-French speaking white soldiers”, and “white men with a bizarre language” as described by locals to Human Rights Watch, are widely believed to be members of the Kremlin-linked group Wagner, the only Russian soldiers currently in the country. The Malian military described the incident as a “systemic cleansing of the entire area.” It also denies Russian participation in the Moura affair and their presence in the country but says it cooperates with Russian “instructors” under a longstanding bilateral cooperation agreement with Moscow. Al Jazeera

WHO: Africa Seeing Uptick in COVID Cases Driven by South Africa
Africa is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases largely driven by a doubling in cases reported in South Africa, the World Health Organization has said. “This week new COVID-19 cases and deaths on the continent increased for the first time after a decline of more than two months for cases and one month for deaths,” Benido Impouma, director for communicable and non-communicable diseases at the WHO’s Africa office told an online news conference on Thursday. “This uptick is largely associated with the increasing number of cases reported from South Africa as the country enters its winter season when respiratory illnesses become more prevalent,” Impouma added. Africa has been experiencing a lull in COVID cases, with the WHO earlier this month pointing to the longest-running decline in weekly infections on the continent since the start of the pandemic. But last week cases started to pick up in South Africa – the country that has recorded the most infections and deaths in Africa to date – and health authorities there are monitoring for signs of a fifth infection wave. “Just in the last week the country’s (South Africa’s) cases have doubled, and there is a small increase in hospitalisations. Although the Omicron variant continues to mutate, there is no current evidence to suggest that this new upsurge is linked to any new sub-lineages or a new variant,” the WHO’s Impouma said. Al Jazeera

The Nigerian Entrepreneur Who Runs ‘An Amazon for Blood’
Temie Giwa-Tubosun had an epiphany 13 years ago when she met an expectant mother who was about to lose her baby. Giwa-Tubosun was working as a 22-year-old intern with a health services organisation in northern Nigeria, doing surveys of rural people seeking care. The family of the mother-to-be thought she would die in a complicated labour because the baby was upside down in a twisted breech position. This wasn’t an unrealistic fear, in a country where one in 22 women perish in pregnancy, during birth, while undergoing abortions, or afterwards. As it turned out, the woman got surgery and survived. But her baby didn’t, and that death shook Giwa-Tubosun deeply. She didn’t leave her hotel room for four days and barely ate. “I thought it was so unjust that women could die in childbirth,” she recalls. “That got me hooked on maternal healthcare.” Al Jazeera

 



Photo: Adam Jones