Africa Media Review for April 5, 2022

Topic in Focus: Countering Violent Extremism
Violent extremism remains one of Africa’s most pressing security threats. Militant Islamist violence in Africa is largely concentrated in five theaters, each comprising distinct, locally based actors and context-specific challenges: the Sahel, Somalia, the Lake Chad Basin, North Africa, and Mozambique. Employing asymmetric tactics and integrating within local communities, militant groups have sought to amplify grievances and intercommunal differences as a means of mobilizing recruitment and fostering antigovernment sentiments. Given these complex challenges, governments must prioritize building trust with local communities while developing more robust and mobile defense capabilities to sustain a security presence in contested regions. Following are a series of Africa Center analyses that track the evolution of the varied militant Islamist groups in Africa and ways to counter them. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero Not Slapped With Life Sentence: Judge
A judge in Kigali has ruled that Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager credited with giving hundreds of people shelter during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, will only serve a 25-year sentence for terrorism, not a life sentence as the prosecution has demanded. “Since he is a first time offender, the court finds that his sentence should not be increased, because the 25 years he was given is in accordance with the weight of his crimes, and the court maintains his sentence,” said judge Francois Regis Rukundakuvuga on Monday. Rusesabagina, 67, was convicted in September of eight terrorism changes after the court said he supported activities against President Paul Kagame’s rule. Although convicted on these charges, he refused to take part in the original trial, calling the process a sham and politically motivated. His supporters and a number of diplomats in the international community have come to his defense. RFI

Western Officials Condemn Reports of ‘Massacre’ by Military in Central Mali
French, American and European officials have expressed serious concerns about allegations that hundreds of people were killed last week in a town in the West African nation of Mali by Malian soldiers accompanied by Russian mercenaries on a campaign to fight insurgents. Although the accounts are still unclear, human rights organizations, security analysts and Malian civil society groups said that between 200 and 400 people had been killed in the town, Moura — and that government troops and Russian fighters might have been responsible. Human Rights Watch described it as “the worst atrocity in Mali’s decade-long armed conflict.” Hundreds more were reportedly killed last month by Islamist insurgents, according to the group. New York Times

Mali Opposition Figure Summoned After Junta Criticism
Malian authorities have summoned opposition politician Oumar Mariko, a family member and security official said Monday, after he criticised the ruling junta and suggested that the army “was murdering people”. Mariko’s left-leaning SADI party also stated on Sunday that heavily armed men had broken into the politician’s home and demanded that relatives reveal his location. The move comes after Mariko suggested the army “was murdering people” during a public meeting, and called on the ruling junta to take responsibility for the situation in the conflict-torn Sahel nation. AFP

Leaders Seek Solutions to Recent Coups in Sahel, West Africa
The scene has played out repeatedly across the Sahel in recent years: A group of military officers take to the airwaves to announce that the nation’s president has been deposed and a new leader installed while crowds fill streets in celebration and protest. African countries lead the world in coups, with military takeovers in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali (twice) and Sudan in the past 24 months. Chad experienced a nondemocratic transfer of power and the continent saw attempted coups in Guinea-Bissau and Niger. Extremism, government corruption and economic pressures all have served as justification for the rash of military coups. But some observers see another force: foreign actors trying to restructure governments to their own advantage. DefenceWeb

Sudan: Darfur Militia Leader Denies Crimes Against Humanity at ICC
A Janjaweed militia leader has pleaded not guilty to dozens of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the first trial at the international criminal court to deal with Sudan’s Darfur conflict of nearly two decades ago. Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman is accused of overseeing thousands of pro-government Janjaweed fighters responsible for persecution, murder, rape and torture during the 2003-04 height of the violence, in which hundreds of thousands were killed…Abd-Al-Rahman, whom prosecutors say was also known as Ali Kushayb, voluntarily surrendered to The Hague-based court in June 2020 after 13 years on the run. He has denied the charges. The trial comes amid a surge in what humanitarian groups say is intercommunal violence in Darfur since the end of the United Nations and African Union mission there. Guardian

Prominent Egyptian Dissident Abdel Fattah Launches Hunger Strike in Prison
Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, a key figure in the country’s 2011 revolution, began a hunger strike in prison over the weekend, his mother Laila Soueif said Monday. “He refuses to eat, because his prison conditions must change,” Soueif told AFP, adding that her son has been placed under “heavy supervision, in solitary confinement”. “He is not allowed books or exercise, and this prison is known for not respecting any laws,” she continued. Abdel Fattah was sentenced in December to five years in prison after he was convicted along with two others of “broadcasting false news”…His latest arrest came in September 2019 in the wake of rare protests called for by an exiled dissident businessman against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. France24

Spy Agency Warns Al-Shabab Targeting Somali Leaders
Somalia’s spy agency has warned about an alleged plot by al-Qaeda-allied al-Shabab militants to attack the president and the prime minister. The National Intelligence and Security Agency (Nisa) said in a tweet that it had briefed the nation’s leaders on the “plot being hatched by the al-Shabab mafia”. The agency did not provide further details, but said that it was pursuing everyone involved. The warning comes amid a political crisis in the country due to the much-delayed indirect elections. Al-Shabab has also intensified attacks across Somalia. The group recently attacked a heavily-fortified airport complex which houses UN offices, foreign embassies and various diplomatic missions in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. It also carried out two suicide bombings in the central Beledweyne town, killing at least 48 people, including a female member of the federal parliament. BBC

Drivers Queue for Hours As Kenya Reels From Fuel Shortage
Kenyan motorists endured another day of major fuel shortages on Monday, with hours-long queues and strict rationing at petrol stations as pumps across the country ran dry. The government blamed hoarding and panic buying for the snaking lines at bowsers that worsened over the weekend, but oil dealers said they were owed outstanding subsidy payments from the state. “If you know any gas station in your area that has fuel, comment with name, location, available fuel,” the Motorist Association of Kenya said on Twitter in a public appeal to ease congestion at pumps. AfricaNews

IGAD Welcomes South Sudan Deal on Unification of Forces
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) has welcomed the recent agreement signed by South Sudan’s main peace parties on the unification of command forces, in a move to form one professional army. In a statement seen by The EastAfrican on Monday, IGAD’s Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu applauded the step taken by peace parties towards the full implantation of transitional security arrangements. “IGAD commended H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Vice-President H.E. Riek Machar and the parties to the agreement for the goodwill and thanked the Government of the Republic of Sudan, the Chair of IGAD, for brokering the deal. East African

South Africa: Ramaphosa Lifts National State of Disaster
Over two years of government imposed regulatory measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in South Africa ended on Monday when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the national state of disaster over with a handful of rules remaining in place…Ramaphosa said, in part: “The declaration of a state of disaster was a response to a global health crisis that posed a grave threat to the lives and the well-being of our people. There is no doubt the response was necessary under the circumstances. “The declaration of the National State of Disaster on 15 March 2020 empowered government to take measures that prevented many more people becoming severely ill and saved countless lives. DefenceWeb

Zimbabwe: A New Hope for the Opposition Amid Fresh Repression
Zimbabwe has a new opposition party. The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) is so new that its website isn’t even finished yet, full of dummy text where its political goals should be. But although it was only registered in January 2022, the CCC already had its first taste of success in late March, winning 19 of the 28 newly allocated parliamentary seats in by-elections. “I can tell you that what we have just done is a teaser,” party leader Nelson Chamisa told reporters. “[We are] putting the nation and the world on notice that CCC is the next government. There’s nothing that will stop us from forming the next government.” DW

More Than a Dozen Killed in Eastern Congo Attack
Suspected rebels attacked a village in eastern Congo with machetes and guns, killing at least a dozen civilians, Congo’s army and a survivor said Monday. Fighters believed to be part of the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group staged the attack Sunday night in Masambo, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) away from the city of Beni, army spokesman Capt. Anthony Mwalushayi told The Associated Press. “Investigations are underway,” he said. “We are in pursuit of the enemy towards the Uganda border near Mount Ruwenzori. I call on the population to remain calm and to collaborate with the Congolese army by giving any information on suspicious persons.” AP

DR Congo: Second Train Derailment in Two Weeks Kills Seven
At least seven people died when a goods train derailed in the southeast Democratic Republic of the Congo, the second accident in the area in a fortnight, a local official has said. The accident occurred in the village of Buyofwe, Lualaba province Saturday. In mid-March, a train came off the tracks in the same village, killing at least 75 people and injuring 125, according to the official toll…Trails frequently derail in the vast Central African country. There are not enough passenger trains and few negotiable roads, so people needing to cover long distances often travel by freight train. Al Jazeera

Nigerians Spend $1Bn Annually on Medical Tourism – NMA
Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has said that Nigerians spend $1billion annually on medical tourism, adding that 9,000 doctors left the country for the United Kingdom, United States of America and Canada in two years (2016-2018), leaving the country with just 4.7 per cent specialists. This, the NMA said, has negatively impacted the country’s health care system…Noting that human resources for health represents one of the six pillars of a strong and efficient health system, Ujah said, “The Nigerian health sector today groans under the devastating impact of huge human capital flight which now manifests as brain drain.” Leadership

High-Tech, Higher Tax: Ghanaians Face Punishing New Levy on Electronic Payments
“I’m not against taxes but I think this particular tax is unnecessary. First of all, look at the cost involved in importing goods into the country. The freight charges are outrageous. Now they want us to pay an e-levy – for what? This is going to affect me seriously and I may end up losing customers, which will eventually affect my business.” Many in Ghana feel similarly bitter. Kofi Brobbey sells spare parts from his store nearby. After being robbed he began using mobile money more often, especially to buy fuel. “I don’t want to pay with MoMo any more because I’m going to be taxed on top of the price for the fuel. Does this make sense at all? Where is the digitalisation they promised us? We’ve been deceived, and now the reality is dawning on us.” An e-levy adding 1.5% tax on all electronic and merchant payments, bank transfers and inward remittances of more than 100 cedis (£10) passed in Ghana’s parliament on 29 March, and will come into effect in May. It has sparked widespread anger about the impact on people’s incomes, and warnings it could reduce the use of mobile payments, which are hugely popular in Ghana. Guardian

Europe Looks to Africa To Fill Natural Gas Gap
To move away from depending on Russian energy, Europe is increasingly turning to Africa for its natural gas imports. Though the potential is there, low supply and serious bottlenecks stand in the way. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is forcing Europe to diversify its energy supply. “Germany and Europe must now quickly make up for what they have missed over the last 20 years,” Stefan Liebing, chairperson of the German-African Business Association, said in a recent press release. He advised Germany’s Economy Minister Robert Habeck to travel to African countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and Angola, which could help free Europe from its dependence on Russian gas. Algeria is the 10th-largest gas producer globally. Cargoes of liquefied natural gas — also known as LNG — exported in 2021 were largely destined for the European markets. This makes Algeria one of the top five LNG exporters to Europe. DW



Photo: Adam Jones