Africa Media Review for April 4, 2023

The Role of Parliamentary Committees in Building Accountable, Sustainable, and Professional Security Sectors
Parliamentary committees that oversee the security sector play an essential role in building accountable, sustainable, transparent, and professional institutions. On average, African countries spend 6 percent of their national budgets on the defense sector. Yet, these expenses are often opaque and poorly overseen. Such support, therefore, represents an important investment on the part of African taxpayers, beyond the security implications they entail. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies spoke to the Honorable Bertin Mubonzi, President of the Committee on Defense and Security of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as well as President of the Network of African Parliamentarians Members of Defense and Security Committees to explain the role of parliaments and parliamentary committees in holding the security sector accountable. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Is Democracy on the Ballot in West Africa? What the Latest Data Tells Us
Democracy indices compiled by respected organisations have suggested that around the world, there’s an increase in authoritarianism or democratic backsliding. These indices typically draw from expert evaluations. They seldom consider the opinions of citizens in the countries concerned. So they may miss important parts of the democratic story. One way to evaluate potential democratic backsliding is to examine nationally representative public opinion data. We’ve done so for three west African countries that have yet to hold elections in 2023: Sierra Leone (June), Liberia (October) and Togo (December). Drawing on recently collected data from Afrobarometer, a non-partisan research network, we identified four themes prevalent in citizens’ attitudes about the democratic process. First, most citizens favour elections over alternative ways to select leaders. Second, they see their previous election as having been flawed. Third, citizens expect elections to feature violence. And fourth, they want candidates to focus on making the country better. The Nation

Nigeria Gunmen Kill 12 People in Four Attacks
At least 12 people were killed and several others injured or kidnapped in a spate of attacks in northeast and central Nigeria, police and officials said Monday. Insecurity is a major concern in Africa’s most populous country as a new president is set to be sworn in next month following an election disputed by the opposition. In northeastern Adamawa State on Monday, unidentified gunmen stormed Dabna village in Hong district, resulting in the “unfortunate murder of three (persons),” local police spokesman Suleiman Nguroje said, adding that homes were set ablaze. No group has claimed responsibility, although Boko Haram jihadists are known to launch occasional attacks in the area from their Sambisa forest enclave in neighboring Borno State. Also on Monday, gunmen attacked communities in Oganenigu, in the Dekina district of central Kogi State, according to local authorities. … On Sunday, gunmen stormed a church in Akenawe-Tswarev village in central Benue State, killing a worshipper and kidnapping three others, according to Salome Tor, political administrator of Logo district in which the village is located. … In central Niger State on Saturday, gunmen suspected to be from criminal gangs attacked several villages in Mashegu and Munya districts, killing at least seven people and abducting 26 others, according to a local official. Defense Post

Ahead Handover: Military Vows Crackdown on Security Threats, Warns IPOB, Others
Ahead of the May 29 handover, the Defence Headquarters on Monday vowed to resist anything that would truncate democracy. The Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, just as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, threatened to crack down on potential threat to national security and warned the Indigenous People of Biafra, Eastern Security Network and other fringe groups not to test the will of the military. … The military spoke against the background of the security crisis that preceded the election in parts of the country and the recent agitation for interim national government by some groups dissatisfied with the outcome of the presidential election won by the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu. Punch

Nigeria: Human Rights Commission Cautions NBC over Sanctioning of Media Houses
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), yesterday, in a form of appeal, advised the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to apply caution when acting on petitions of political parties against media organisations. … The NHRC appeal came against the backdrop of the sanction against Channels TV by the NBC after a petition was written against the news channel by one of the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Presidential Campaign Committee (PCC) spokesperson for airing an interview with the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Alhaji Datti Baba Ahmed that was allegedly inciting. Channels TV was slammed a penalty of N5 million by the broadcast control body and further warned against airing any content that could incite the public to violence. However, speaking at the monthly review of the NHRC’s Mobilising Voters for Elections (MOVE) Programme, yesterday, in Abuja, the Commission’s Project Coordinator, Hilary Ogbonna, noted that freedom of the press was an important feature of democracy and actions that may be construed as gagging the press must be avoided. This Day Live

New Mechanism Must Track and Tackle ‘Gross’ Violations in Libya
New tools must be deployed to keep the global spotlight on ongoing gross violations and crimes against humanity in Libya and serve justice to its victims, the UN rights chief said on Monday at the Human Rights Council’s latest session. “Libyan authorities, armed groups, smugglers, and human traffickers should not assume that the eyes of the international community have now left Libya,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said. “It is crucial that we redouble efforts to secure accountability for past violations and continue to monitor the reality on the ground to prevent future violations,” he said, echoing calls for action made by the recently concluded Independent Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on Libya. … In its final report, the FFM recommended that the UN Human Rights Office establish a distinct and autonomous mechanism with an ongoing mandate to monitor and report on gross human rights violations in Libya, with a view to supporting Libyan reconciliation efforts, and assisting the Libyan authorities in achieving transitional justice and accountability. UN News

East African Regional Force Take Control of Key Town in Eastern DRC
East African regional forces have announced that are now in control of Bunagana, a strategic town in eastern DRC previously held by M23 rebels for more than nine months. The spokesman for the Ugandan contingent of the regional force, Captain Kato Ahmad Hassan, confirmed that the M23 rebels had been cooperative during the transition process. The rebels’ departure from Bunagana has been a key demand during several rounds of mediation efforts on the crisis in eastern Congo, where more than 120 armed groups have been fighting for land, power and resources and some to protect their communities. Ugandan troops, which are part of the East African Community Regional Force in eastern Congo, will now try to bring about M23’s sequenced withdrawal from other areas under rebel control including Kiwanja and Mabenga. AfricaNews

Impunity Driving Violence in South Sudan, UN Rights Commission Says
Tackling impunity will be critical to end pervasive violence and horrific human rights violations and abuses in South Sudan, a UN inquiry said on Monday, presenting its latest report, which names individuals warranting investigation. The report by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan details how perpetrators of the most serious crimes – including widespread attacks against civilians and extrajudicial killings – go unpunished, with senior Government officials and military implicated in serious violations. “Over several years, our findings have consistently shown that impunity for serious crimes is a central driver of violence and misery faced by civilians in South Sudan,” said Yasmin Sooka, Chair of the independent expert group. “So, we have taken the step of naming more of the individuals who warrant criminal investigation and prosecution for their role in gross human rights violations,” she added. UN News

Kenya: Top Court Rules for Judicial Independence
Kenya’s highest court has delivered a decision that strongly defends the independence of the judiciary and, by extension, the independence of the mechanism by which judges are chosen, the Judicial Service Commission. It’s a watershed decision in that it will significantly change the way in which members of the JSC are appointed: the court said the President of the country had no role, not even a ceremonial one, in appointing and gazetting JSC members and that the role that the President had assumed in the past was a ‘fundamental contravention’ of the Constitution. The litigation in this case was prompted by action of the country’s then President, Uhuru Kenyatta. During his terms of office, he developed a track record of conflict – sometimes escalating to seriously intense levels – over the relative powers of the executive and the judiciary. AllAfrica

Sierra Leone: Political Parades Banned before the Presidential Election
Authorities in Sierra Leone announced on Monday that they have banned political street parades, a tradition during election campaigns in the West African country, less than three months before the presidential elections. Election periods are not a time for dancing and joy’, but rather ‘a time for deep reflection’, the Political Parties Regulatory Commission, a state body, said in a statement announcing the ban. During campaigns, the country’s two main parties – the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the All People’s Congress (APC) – typically hold parades through towns. The new rules now require parties to designate a fixed location (stadium, community center, etc.) to hold their campaign rallies. AfricaNews/AFP

Kenya to Launch First Ever Operational Satellite on 10 April
Kenya will launch its first operational satellite next week in a landmark achievement for the country’s space programme, the government said on Monday. Taifa-1, or Nation-1 in Swahili, is scheduled to be launched on 10 April aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. “The mission is an important milestone,” the defence ministry and Kenya Space Agency said in a joint statement, adding that it would contribute significantly to the country’s “budding space economy”. The observation satellite is “fully designed and developed” by Kenyan engineers and will be used to provide data on agriculture and food security, among other areas, the statement said. Testing and manufacturing of the parts were done in collaboration with a Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer, it added. News24/AFP

Angola Landmines: The Women Hunting for Explosives Left from Civil War
An increasing number of women in Angola are working to get rid of the scourge of landmines left from the 27-year civil war, which are still claiming victims long after the fighting finished. “I don’t want my daughter, or any other child, to be the next victim of a landmine,” Helena Kasongo tells the BBC on a video call from Moxico in eastern Angola. … People are still dying or being maimed after coming across one of the millions of landmines or unexploded ordnance left over from the fighting that ended more than two decades ago. The only national survey into this issue, carried out by the Angolan government in 2014, found that around 88,000 people were living with injuries caused by landmines in the country. … Three months ago, a six-year-old girl was killed, and six others were injured, in an explosion in Moxico province. According to local media, the children were playing with an unexploded bomb they found in a field, unaware of the risks. … “I would really like to help other countries get rid of their landmines and prevent more people suffering injuries or dying,” Ms Kasongo says. BBC

Website on Legal Tools for Law Practitioners, Researchers Debuts, a new website designed to provide legal resources to the legal community in Nigeria, has been officially launched. The website offers a subscription-based model for access to its comprehensive library of digital judgments, legal documents, automation tools, law practice management tools, and materials for lawyers, and study guides for law students. It also offers free resources for non-subscribers. … The website is also committed to promoting legal education in Nigeria, with a dedicated section for law students that provides access to resources that will help them in their studies and research. Guardian

Seychelles to Host World’s Largest Salt-Water Floating Solar Plant
Work on a floating solar farm in Seychelles is expected to begin this year, following the signing of three agreements for the project on Tuesday. Once completed, Seychelles will have built the world’s largest salt-water floating solar plant. The project, which has been seven years in the making, will see the installation of a 5-megawatt photovoltaic system in the lagoon at Providence, on the eastern coast of Mahe, which will help Seychelles move closer to its zero-emissions target. The agreements for the project were signed in a ceremony on board the Energy Observer, which is a floating photovoltaic laboratory, which is an official partner with French renewable energy company Qair. Seychelles News Agency