Africa Media Review for April 3, 2023

Troops Film Boys’ Killings in Burkina Faso
It was a walk 16-year-old Adama had done countless times, feeding the cows not far from his grandmother’s house in northern Burkina Faso. But one day in mid-February, the teen who dreamed of becoming an imam didn’t come home. The next time his family saw him, it was in a harrowing cellphone video circulating on social media in the days after his disappearance. Adama lay alongside six other bloodied boys, their hands bound and most stripped to the waist. They were surrounded by about a dozen men, many in military fatigues, walking among the bodies, some taking video. … A frame-by-frame analysis of the 83-second video by AP and an examination of satellite imagery shows the killings happened inside a military base about two kilometers (one and a quarter miles) northwest of Ouahigouya, a regional capital near where Adama lived. From their uniforms and vehicles, AP also determined troops in the video were members of Burkina Faso’s security forces. AfricaNews/AP

Burkina Faso Expels Reporters from French Newspapers ‘Le Monde’, ‘Libération’
Burkina Faso has expelled correspondents from France’s ‘Le Monde’ and ‘Libération’ dailies, the newspapers said on Sunday, the latest move the junta running the west African country has taken against French media. Burkina Faso, which witnessed two coups last year, is battling an insurgency that spilled over from neighbouring Mali in 2015. “Libération” said it “vigorously protests these absolutely unjustified expulsions” and suggested they were linked to an investigation it published earlier in the week. “The March 27 publication of a Libération investigation into the circumstances in which a video was filmed showing children and adolescents being executed in a military barracks by at least one soldier evidently strongly displeased the junta in power in Burkina Faso,” the paper said. Burkina government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo wrote after the piece was published that “the government strongly condemns these manipulations disguised as journalism to tarnish the image of the country”. The expulsions marked the latest move against media from former colonial power France by the military junta running Burkina Faso. France24

Sahel Region Increasingly Difficult Work Area for Journalists: Report
Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) says in its latest report that journalists are facing growing difficulties to freely cover events in the Sahel region, especially after military coups in countries like Mali and Burkina Faso. RSF warns that the Sahel region, which stretches across the continent from west to east, is at risk of becoming “the biggest non-information zone in Africa.” The expulsion of journalists from the French newspapers Le Monde and Libération by the ruling junta in Burkina Faso on Saturday has made the situation even more challenging. However, RSF’s report was written before their expulsion. The report covers Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, and also the northern part of Benin, which is facing similar security challenges. It describes journalists caught between violence of jihadists and armed groups, and authorities that restrict, pressure, suspend or expel foreign correspondents. The report also highlights the negative impact of the arrival of the Russian private security company Wagner in Mali. … Nearly 120 journalists were arrested or detained during this period, 72 of whom were in Chad alone. RFI

UN Rights Body Identifies South Sudan Officials Implicated in ‘Rights Abuses’
Senior South Sudanese government officials and military officers are implicated in serious human rights violations, a UN inquiry said Monday. The new report extended to Radio Tamazuj details how perpetrators of the most serious crimes, including widespread attacks against civilians and extrajudicial killings, remain unpunished. Entitled “State of impunity: the persistence of violence and human rights violations in South Sudan,” the 114-page report of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan identifies Unity State Governor Joseph Monytuil and Lieutenant General Thoi Chany Reat of the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces as among the individuals warranting criminal investigation in relation to State-sanctioned extrajudicial killings carried out in Mayom in August 2022. Koch County Commissioner Gordon Koang is among the individuals identified in the report as being responsible for leading widespread attacks against civilians in Leer in February and April 2022. The Commission’s findings also identify other individuals warranting further scrutiny or investigation in relation to human rights violations in Warrap State, Upper Nile State, northern parts of Jonglei State, and the Equatoria states. Radio Tamazuj

UN: Children in Central African Republic Are Victims of Appalling Abuse, Brutality
A review by U.N. independent experts of the human rights situation in the Central African Republic reveals rampant ethnic violence and systemic gross violations throughout the country with children suffering appalling abuse and brutality at the hands of armed groups, defense and security forces, and private military and security companies. “It is rare to find a country with a human rights record so alarming, which has been forgotten by the rest of the world,” said Volker Türk, U.N. high commissioner for human rights in his opening salvo at the U.N. human rights council Friday. … Reports received by the U.N. human rights office estimate that armed groups who signed last year’s peace agreement were responsible for 35% of the documented abuses, including killings, abductions, detention, ill-treatment, the destruction of infrastructure and appropriation of property. … Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict said … “The recruitment and use of children remained the most prevalent violation verified in 2022. … While boys were most affected, girls were also recruited and used by parties to conflict and most of them were subjected to sexual violence during their association. Some of the girls became pregnant following the rape.” VOA

Sudan’s Political Agreement to be Signed on 6th April
The parties to the political process in Sudan agreed on Saturday to sign the final political agreement on April 6, giving more time to the military stakeholders to reach a compromise over the security sector reform. The difference between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) over the integration of the latter into the national army led to postponing the signing of the final political agreement which was scheduled for the first of April. On Saturday, SAF Commander-in-Chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo Hemetti joined political leaders in a meeting to discuss the sticky issues in the security and military process. … The two parties disagree over the duration of the RSF’s integration and other technical details that can easily be discussed in a later stage. Observers stress that the difference is political, pointing out that the army leaders did not accept the undisciplined position of the RSF leader who rejected their demand for inclusivity and backed the FFC’s position. Sudan Tribune

Kenyan Opposition Leader Odinga Suspends Anti-Government Protests
Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said on Sunday he was suspending anti-government protests and was ready for talks after an appeal from President William Ruto, though he warned that demonstrations could restart in days. Thousands have joined three marches over the past two weeks against high living costs and alleged fraud in last year’s vote. All have been marred by violence and a fourth rally was scheduled for Monday. Earlier on Sunday, Ruto asked Odinga to call off the protests that he said had resulted in three deaths and injured more than 400 people, including at least 60 security officers. … The opposition has been pushing for reforms to the electoral commission, including stronger assurances that the president can’t pack the body with supporters. Reuters

Algerian Court Sentences Prominent Journalist to 5 Years
A court in Algiers on Sunday sentenced a prominent journalist in the North African country to five years in prison with two years suspended and ordered his website and a radio station shut down based on the accusation that they threaten state security. Ihsane El-Kadi was detained Dec. 23 at his home in the capital, Algiers. He was accused of receiving foreign funding for his outlets. He has remained in custody since his arrest and appeared in court on Sunday for the verdict, along with a collective of lawyers, defending him, journalists and family members. The court also ordered El-Kadi to pay a fine of 700,000 Algerian dinars ($5,200). The media company which owns El-Kadi’s website and radio station was ordered dissolved, its assets seized, and a fine of one million Algerian dinars ($7,390) was imposed on its owners. El-Kadi, who was active in Algeria’s Hirak pro-democracy protest movement in 2019, appears to be the latest target of an encroaching crackdown on dissenting voices in the North African country. VOA

South Sudanese Troops Join Regional Force in East DR Congo
South Sudanese soldiers arrived in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, an AFP journalist saw, joining a regional military force in the region wracked by the M23 rebellion. At least 45 soldiers touched down in the city of Goma in the late morning, with further contingents expected to arrive at later dates. The South Sudanese soldiers are part of the seven-nation East African Community (EAC) military force, which was created last June to stabilise eastern DRC. … The EAC force – which comprises Kenyan, Burundian and Ugandan troops as well as South Sudanese – is due to supervise a planned pull-back of the rebels. News24/AFP

Weah Urges Citizens to Avoid Electoral Violence
With some of his partisans smarting under heavy criticism for provoking the recent violence in Electoral District #10, President George Weah has urged citizens to shun election violence as they go thru the new Biometric Voters Registration exercise ahead of the October 10 general and presidential elections. President Weah is seeking his second six years term amid allegations of corruption, money laundering, and extra-judicial killings levied against his administration by the US Government in its 2022 Human Rights report. … The pending October 10, polls have much at stake, with President Weah facing former close rivals in the 2017 runoff election, former Vice President Joseph Boakai, and Opposition Collaborating Political Party (CPP) leader Alexander B. Cummings among dozen other candidates. New Dawn

China’s Loans to Africa Worry World Bank President
The president of the World Bank has told the BBC that he is concerned about some of the loans China has been making to developing economies in Africa. David Malpass says the terms and conditions need to be “more transparent”. It comes amid worries that countries including Ghana and Zambia are struggling to repay their debts to Beijing. China says that any such lending is done within international rules. … “What I encourage strongly is that they be transparent in their contracts. That’s been one of the problems; if you write a contract and say ‘but don’t show it to anybody else’, that’s a minus. So get away from that.” There was also a warning that “for governments in Africa, they shouldn’t be offering collateral as an inducement to make a loan, because it locks it up for generations. That’s been happening with China.” BBC

Qatar’s Interests Push Mediation Role Deeper into EA
Qatar is making a big diplomatic push in East Africa as it seeks to expand its economic interests in the region in the aftermath of the Gulf crisis in 2017, which saw Doha face a blockade by several of its Gulf neighbours, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain. Last week on Monday, Paul Rusesabagina, a Rwandan opposition figure, arrived in Qatar after his 25-year jail term was commuted by President Paul Kagame. … His freedom was due to a deal mediated by Qatar, between the US government and Rwanda. … Qatar has been involved in diplomatic efforts in East Africa, including mediation between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2018, and hosting peace talks between the Sudan government and rebel groups in 2019. It helped bring a two-decade animosity between Addis Ababa and Asmara, resuming diplomatic relations and solving one of the most enduring border row in the Horn of Africa. … Most recently, Qatar has engaged in shuttle diplomacy, and is still trying to convene a meeting between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi to bring rapprochement amid escalating tensions. … There are risks, however, such as that of African states getting sucked into tensions between Qatar and its main regional rivals, the UAE and Egypt. East African

SA’s ANC Party Officials in Russia Ahead of BRICS Summit
Senior members of South Africa’s ruling party ANC are on a “working visit” to Russia. In a statement on Saturday evening, the African National Congress party said the visit followed an invitation from Russia’s ruling party and ally the United Russia Party. The meeting is set to include discussions on “the recalibration of the global order to reverse the consequences of neo-colonialism […]” The 4-days trip took place ahead of the 15th BRICS summit that will be hosted by Pretoria. Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will convene. President Vladimir Putin is expected to appear on the sidelines of the summit scheduled for August. AfricaNews/AFP

How Conflict and Erratic Weather Hurt Individual Rights in the Horn
Countries in the Horn of Africa are facing a double burden of providing security for citizens while battling effects of erratic changes in weather. This week, rights watchdog Amnesty International said conflict and drought, have combined to increase the number of people marginalised, poor and unprotected. The State of the World’s Human Rights Report for 2023 says countries like Kenya in the Horn have failed to address extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and police brutality. But it also depicts a wider problem of rights violations caused by armed conflict, worsened by continual drought in the Horn. [F]or much of Africa, these challenges disproportionately affected the most marginalised and led to rising inequality, Amnesty International says. East African

Minister Urges International Community to Support Nigeria’s Quest to Revive Lake Chad
The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has urged the international community to fully support Nigeria’s quest to save Lake Chad from extinction and revive its potential. Mr Adamu, who made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in New York, said it was important to lend his voice to President Muhammadu Buhari’s call to revive Lake Chad. Mr Adamu was in New York to attend the just-concluded 2023 UN Water Conference. … The minister said the shrinking of the Lake had impacted negatively on the source of livelihood of the people leaving in the area, adding that more than 40 million people were affected. Mr Adamu said that all the opportunities for fishing, farming, irrigation, and grazing were lost, and the lack of opportunities had caused poverty in that area, giving room for a breeding ground for Boko Haram fighters. Premium Times

Mozambique Works to Contain Cholera Outbreak after Cyclone
Weeks after massive Cyclone Freddy hit Mozambique for a second time, the still-flooded country is facing a spiraling cholera outbreak that threatens to add to the devastation. There were over 19,000 confirmed cases of cholera across eight of Mozambique’s provinces as of March 27, according to U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a figure which had almost doubled in a week. Freddy was likely the longest-lived cyclone ever, lasting over five weeks and hitting Mozambique twice. The tropical storm killed 165 people in Mozambique, 17 in Madagascar and 676 in Malawi. More than 530 people are still missing in Malawi two weeks later so that country’s death toll could well exceed 1,200. … Eighty health centers in total were affected by Freddy’s two landfalls in Mozambique, according to INGD, the country’s disaster management agency. Although cyclones do occur in southern Africa from December to May, human-caused climate change has made tropical cyclones wetter, more intense and more frequent. AP