Africa Media Review for August 11, 2020

80 Killed in South Sudan Warrap State’s Inter-Communal Fighting

Witnesses say at least 80 people were killed and more than 90 others were injured in violent clashes involving soldiers and civilians in Warrap state’s Tonj East County over the weekend as South Sudan troops began disarming civilians. Executive Director for Tonj East County Makuei Mabior told South Sudan in Focus an argument erupted between a small group of youths and soldiers in Romic Market after a soldier ordered a young man to remove a red piece of cloth from his head, a cloth commonly worn by cattle camp youth. “A small fight started. Bystanders rushed in and convinced them to stop and take the youth to the police but soon after that the soldiers cocked their guns and started shooting, killing the youth and other civilians in the market,” Mabior told VOA. South Sudan Army spokesman Major General Lul Ruai Koang disputed that claim, saying the fighting actually involved armed youths who attacked a police post in an attempt to free their detained relatives. VOA

Army Says East Congo Militia Killed 16 Villagers

A militia killed 16 people during a raid on villages in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the army said on Monday, in more ethnic violence that the United Nations has warned may constitute crimes against humanity. Attacks by various militia and armed groups, as well as counter-operations by the Congolese army (FARDC), forced over 400,000 people to flee their homes between March and June, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Last month, the government sent several former warlords, including one just released after more than a decade in prison in The Hague and Congo for war crimes, to convince Cooperative for the Development of the Congo (CODECO) fighters to surrender. They have not been successful so far. “The outlawed CODECO militia killed our people again on Sunday morning,” army spokesman Jules Ngongo said, confirming the 16 casualties. Reuters

Troops in Niger backed by French air power launched a hunt Monday for the killers of eight people, six of them French nationals, as prosecutors in Paris announced a terror investigation into their deaths. “Search operations with our partners are under way to root out the people behind these vile acts and strengthen security in the area,” the Nigerien interior ministry said. The French military, which has a 5,100-member anti-jihadist force in the Sahel, said it was providing air support for the operation, which is unfolding over a vast wooded area. Six French citizens were killed on Sunday along with their Nigerien guide and driver about six kilometres (four miles) from the town of Koure, in a wildlife haven about an hour’s drive southeast from the capital Niamey, officials said…. Later on Monday, officials said they had suspended access to the park and extended a pre-existing state of emergency to cover the Kollo prefecture, which houses the giraffe park. AFP

13 Dead Following Recent Eastern Sudan Tribal Clashes

The death toll from clashes between Nuba and Beni Amer tribes in Port Sudan rose to 13 yesterday, while the number of injuries reached 42. The Red Sea state Doctors’ Committee reported that seven bodies arrived at the morgue on Monday morning. Doctors told Radio Dabanga that one of the hospitals in the city received two more bodies. The emergency section of the Port Sudan Teaching Hospital received four new injuries on Monday, three of whom were shot. Residents told Radio Dabanga that clashes began in the afternoon following a calm morning in Port Sudan. A large number of houses were burnt down in districts that witnessed violence. The Governor of Red Sea state, Abdallah Shangarai, appealed to people to focus on security and peace, and “strengthen the spirit of brotherhood and citizenship in the city.” Radio Dabanga

At Least 10 Dead in Ethiopia Protests over Autonomy – Health Officials

At least 10 people died in clashes between protesters and security forces in Ethiopia’s southern region on Monday, health officials said, the latest violence as myriad ethnic groups clamour for more autonomy. The protests were sparked by Sunday’s arrest of local officials and activists seeking a new autonomous region for their Wolaita ethnic group, said Matheos Balcha, spokesman of the opposition party Wolaita National Movement Party. One of their party members was arrested, he said. Security forces shot dead at least six people in Boditi on Monday, a town 295 km (180 miles) southwest of the capital Addis Ababa, said Temesgen Hilina, a senior official at Boditi health center. “They were shot in the head, abdomen, and their chest,” he said. “I was the one who gave them the first treatment and later they died.” Reuters

At Least Six Prisoners Killed in Mogadishu Prison Shoot-Out

At least six prisoners were killed and six others wounded in a shoot-out inside a prison in the Somali capital, Mogadishu on Monday. There were conflicting reports of how the prisoners, all said to be members of the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab, got hold of the weapons. “There was heavy shooting inside the prison where some inmates managed to get hold of firearms and started shooting the guards,” security officer Abdi Dhere told the AFP news agency. “It is not clear how the prisoners ended up having access to guns.” Another security source said one of the prisoners snatched a rifle from a guard. Two prison guards were killed in the attack, General Mahad Abdirahman Aden, the country’s prison chief, told national TV. Information ministry spokesman Ismael Mukhtar Omar said the situation in the prison was now back to normal. Al Jazeera

COVID to Displace More Than a Million across the Sahel, New Tool Predicts

Coronavirus is predicted to push more than 1 million people from their homes across the Sahel, creating havoc in an already highly fragile region, according to new forecasting software. Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria in west Africa are predicted to see displacement as a result of the increasing conflict, unemployment and human rights abuses brought on by fallout from the coronavirus, the analytical tool developed by the humanitarian group Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has found. Analysing national factors such as economy, conflict level, climate, governance and food security, the Foresight tool uses open data from sources including the World Bank and the UN to predict forced displacement in a given country. … James Smith, humanitarian affairs adviser of Médecins Sans Frontières, said that while big data had potential to improve responses, modelling must also be informed by close engagement with at-risk communities. The Guardian

Mali Swears in New Constitutional Court Judges

Mali’s embattled President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has attended a swearing-in ceremony for new Constitutional Court judges, appointed last week in an attempt to end a deepening political crisis in the country. … Diplomats and prominent members of the country’s civilian society were also present at the event in the capital, Bamako. … Heads of government from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) stepped in, suggesting on July 27 the formation of a new unity government to include opposition members, while sticking by Keita. The ECOWAS bloc also urged the appointment of the new Constitutional Court judges to resolve a festering election dispute, among other measures. … Mali’s opposition June 5 Movement has repeatedly spurned the ECOWAS proposal and is expected to stage anti-Keita protests on Tuesday. Al Jazeera

UN Envoy Says Guinea-Bissau in Fragile State after Elections

The U.N. envoy for Guinea-Bissau said Monday the “political crisis and the parliamentary paralysis” following elections this year have left the impoverished West African nation in a fragile state as the United Nations prepares to end its peace-building mission at the end of the year. Rosine Sori-Coulibaly told a virtual Security Council meeting that recent political developments have led to “a politically charged atmosphere with mounting mistrust” among political players. Guinea-Bissau, a nation of just over 1.6 million inhabitants located between Senegal to the north and Guinea to the east and south, has long been beset by instability, corruption and drug trafficking. Since it gained independence from Portugal in 1974 it has experienced four coup d’etats and more than a dozen attempted coups. AP

Zimbabwe Opposition Barred from Meeting S. African Envoys

Zimbabwe’s main opposition coalition on Monday said it had not been allowed to meet with special envoys from South Africa sent in response to a mounting crackdown on dissent. South Africa appointed two special envoys to go to neighbouring Zimbabwe last week after authorities banned anti-government demonstrations and arrested around 20 protesters for “inciting public violence.” The envoys met President Emmerson Mnangagwa and ruling ZANU-PF party officials in the capital Harare on Monday. But the opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC-Alliance) said it had been excluded from the meeting and unable to speak to the envoys during their visit. AFP

Three Burundians Jailed for 30 Years over ‘Attack’ on President

A Burundi court has jailed two men and a woman for 30 years over an “attack” in which stones were thrown at a convoy carrying President Evariste Ndayishimiye, a judicial source told AFP Monday. According to the prosecution, three stones were thrown from a petrol station at the convoy of about 50 vehicles as it drove through the northern town of Kayanza last Wednesday. One stone hit a member of the presidential guard, another hit a windshield of one of the cars, and another did not hit anything. Witnesses in Kayanza told AFP the convoy did not stop during the incident. … Ndayishimiye, a key member of the ruling party, was elected on May 20, and took office in June shortly after the shock death of his predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza. The international community had hoped for a softening of the iron-fisted regime under a new president. However Ndayishimiye has formed a government of hardliners, and has shown little sign of straying from the path of his predecessor. AFP

Posting ‘Rumours’ on Social Media Could Land You in Tanzania Jail

It is now illegal to post “rumours” or messages that “ridicule, abuse or harm the reputation, prestige or status of the United Republic of Tanzania” on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Tanzanian Information Minister Harrison Mwakyembe signed into law the Electronic and Postal Communications (Online Content) Regulations 2020, which became operational on July 17. The new online content regulations effectively tighten state control over the internet and social media interactions. … Prohibited content under the new rules includes that which “threatens national security and public order” and that which “is involved in planning, organising, promoting or calling for demonstrations, marches or the like that may lead to public disorder.” … Lawyer Jebra Kambole described them as oppressive and going against the tenets of “freedom of speech and people’s rights to get information and to be heard.” Maria Sarungi Tsehai, a vocal Tanzanian activist, said they were an attempt by the government “to use the law as a weapon against the citizenry – in other words, to deploy lawfare.” The EastAfrican

South African Innovators Tackle COVID Risks in Minibus Taxis

As South Africa continues to ease coronavirus restrictions, technical and public health experts are working on plans to protect the health of the 14 million South Africans who rely on a network of minibus taxis to get to work, school and other destinations. Innovators and investors say this could be an African solution to a problem that affects millions of others in Africa, and beyond. The humble minibus taxi is a lifeline for more than 70 percent of South Africa’s workforce. The informally regulated system of vans, each seating about 14 passengers, is a mainstay in the nation’s major cities and in its rural areas.  … These measures, says Ramaphosa’s team, could decrease the risk of infection by up to 80%. So far, the team’s Supplier Development Initiative (SDI) has outfitted 5,000 school transport taxis and 1,000 commuter taxis, at an estimated cost of about $340,000. much of it provided by donors. VOA

Africa’s First Electric Bus Plant Will Industrialize Uganda While Fighting Pollution

The road from Kampala, the capital of Uganda, to Jinja, the site of Africa’s first electric bus factory, was packed with cars on a July morning. The traffic crawled. Breathing hurt your throat. Kampala was the most polluted city in the world that day, according to OpenAQ, a global air pollution tracker, and much of that was due to vehicle fumes. The journey was a lesson in why it’s so necessary-and also so challenging-to move the continent’s vehicles away from gasoline and diesel. The 50-mile trip took two hours and wound through small villages, tea estates, sugar plantations, and the giant Mabira rainforest. The factory is still under construction, but the new infrastructure needed to support the plant has already given local villagers access to new roads, power lines and water pipelines. It’s a key step to Uganda’s industrialization plan. Bloomberg

Egypt: Cairo’s Tahrir Square Gets a Contested Makeover

Egypt’s government has revamped Tahrir Square, dotting the space occupied nearly a decade ago by throngs of anti-regime protesters with Pharaonic monuments and private security guards. Critics say the project appears designed to tighten control of a symbolic public space and prevent future protests. Some archaeologists worry about the preservation of four sandstone sphinxes placed on a busy roundabout. “I think the main message is that people do not belong to the square and the square does not belong to the people. This is a square that belongs to the state,” said Khaled Fahmy, a history professor at Cambridge University who participated in the 2011 uprising and ran a short-lived official committee to document it. … Tahrir Square is charged with political symbolism. It gained global renown as the cradle of the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Reuters

Africa Olympic Stories: Nawal El Moutawakel Changes the Arab World in One Run

Every victory is special. But some, do resonate more than others, probably because they are the sum of many victories in one. Such was the case with Nawal El Moutawakel’s performance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. She didn’t just become the first woman to win the 400m hurdles – the discipline only introduced for the first time for women at that Games – but she also became the first Moroccan to ever win a gold medal at the Olympics. Indeed, she was the only Moroccan woman there at all. Perhaps this then inspired her compatriot Saïd Aouita who few days later doubled Morocco’s success by winning the men’s 5000m. But what the world should always remember is that Nawal El Moutawakel was the first Arabic African woman to ever become an Olympic champion. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones