Africa Media Review for August 11, 2022

Sahel and Somalia Drive Rise in Africa’s Militant Islamist Group Violence
A review of violence involving African militant Islamist groups over the past decade underscores the continuing, although varied, escalation of this threat. Militant Islamist group violence in Africa has risen inexorably over the past decade, expanding by 300 percent during this time. Violent events linked to militant Islamist groups have doubled since 2019. Roughly 95 percent of the increase in militant Islamist violence on the continent since 2019 comes from two theaters—the western Sahel and Somalia. There has been progress in the fight against militant Islamist groups in Africa, though. Underscoring the great variance across regions, militant Islamist violence in the Lake Chad Basin and North Africa declined by 33 percent and 23 percent, respectively, over the last year. The record 6,255 violent events linked to these groups in 2022 represents a 21-percent increase from the previous year. This is close to the 18-percent average annual increase observed on the continent over the past decade. Fatalities linked to militant Islamist groups have also been on the rise, reaching 14,635 in the past year—a nearly 50-percent increase since 2019. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Blinken Presses Congo Leaders to Slow Oil-and-Gas Push in Rainforests
Pushing for a reconsideration of plans by the Democratic Republic of Congo to auction parts of its vast rainforests and peatlands, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced that American and Congolese officials would form a team to examine proposed oil-and-gas extraction in those areas. The agreement came on Tuesday during Mr. Blinken’s visit to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. While there, the secretary of state expressed concern over an effort by the country’s president, Félix Tshisekedi, to auction off vast parcels of land, which are critical to mitigating climate change, to energy companies for exploration. Mr. Blinken’s remarks were the first time the U.S. government has taken a public stand on the issue. “We had concerns about the announcement of the auction of these oil and gas exploration blocks,” Mr. Blinken said at a news conference on Tuesday. “Some of the blocks infringe on sensitive rainforest and peatland areas, including in the Virunga National Park and Salonga National Park.” New York Times

Sexual Exploitation by UN Peacekeepers in DRC
This is the first time that children of UN peacekeepers have spoken directly about the impact of abandonment on their lives and families. Their stories corroborate our previous interviews with the mothers of peacekeeper children in Haiti. In both countries, UN personnel left impregnated women and young girls to raise children in deplorable conditions, with most receiving no financial assistance. Our findings in DRC are based on 2,858 interviews with Congolese community members, including 60 in-depth interviews with victims of sexual misconduct who conceived children with peacekeepers, and 35 interviews with children who were born as a result. The research, which dates back to 2018, implicates UN personnel from 12 countries, the majority of whom were Tanzanian and South African. Mothers said these absent fathers held roles ranging from soldiers, officers and pilots to drivers, cooks, doctors and photographers. Mail & Guardian

Blinken in Rwanda to Discuss Congo Tensions, Human Rights
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Rwanda, the last stop on his three-nation tour of Africa where he has articulated Washington’s new strategy for engaging with sub-Saharan African nations as “equal partners.” Blinken comes to Rwanda at a particularly difficult time for Africa’s Great Lakes region, with the small central African nation at odds with vast neighbor Congo over allegations that both governments support rebels opposed to each other. In a meeting on Thursday with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Blinken is expected to discuss efforts to ease the tensions. Rwanda is rejecting a new report by United Nations experts saying they have “solid evidence” that members of Rwanda’s armed forces are conducting operations in eastern Congo in support of the M23 rebel group. AP

Kenyans on Tenterhooks as Votes Are Counted in Presidential Race
Kenyans waited anxiously on Wednesday for the results of their presidential election, the most closely fought in years, amid conflicting estimates of which candidate was ahead. Unofficial tallies by several Kenyan news outlets put William Ruto, the country’s vice president, who campaigned as the champion of Kenya’s “hustlers” — struggling young people — at least three percentage points ahead of his rival, Raila Odinga. But at least one major news organization put Mr. Odinga, a former political detainee who later became prime minister and is making his fifth run for the presidency, ahead by a similar margin in the balloting held on Tuesday. The conflicting estimates, based on preliminary counts of fewer than half of all votes, only confirmed that the race to lead Kenya, an East African powerhouse struggling through a grinding economic crisis, was too close to call. New York Times

Sierra Leone Imposes Curfew amid Anti-Government Protests
Anti-government protesters in Sierra Leone have clashed with police in the streets of the capital, Freetown, as tensions over the rising cost of living turned deadly in the West African nation. In a national broadcast, Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said that “lives of both policemen and civilians were lost”, without giving further details. He announced a nationwide curfew from 3pm local time (15:00 GMT) on Wednesday. On Thursday, police inspector general William Fayia Sellu said six police officers had been killed. The death toll for protesters was not immediately available. Demonstrators demanded the departure of President Julius Maada Bio, who was elected in 2018 and still has 10 months left in his term. They chanted “Bio must go” as they made their way through the capital, Freetown. Videos on social media showed large crowds of protesters and piles of burning tyres in eastern Freetown. Other footage showed a group of young men throwing rocks on a street filled with whitish smoke and another group attacking a man on the ground. Al Jazeera

Senegal Opposition Will Not Appeal the Results of the Legislatives
Senegal’s main opposition alliance on Wednesday announced it would not appeal against the July 31 legislative election results. Provisional results, published on August 4, saw the presidential coalition lose an absolute majority, a first in history for the West African country. “We think that there is no point in going to the Constitutional Council to lodge an appeal because it is not at this level that the two or even three deputies who were removed from the inter-coalition, given the ballot box stuffing that existed in some areas, it is not at the level of the Constitutional Council that these three deputies will be returned to us” said Dethie Fall, member of the Yewwi Askan Wi coalition. AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria’s President Under Pressure as Insecurity Spirals
Mounting attacks from jihadists and criminal gangs, including a brazen assault close to the capital, are creating a headache for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari as he sees out his last six months in office. Last month, the Islamic State group’s Nigerian affiliate ISWAP claimed a jailbreak outside just 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Abuja’s international airport, freeing hundreds of prisoners, including 64 jihadist commanders. Located in the centre of the country, the capital is far from the jihadists’ usual area of operations in the northeast — the city’s last major attack was back in 2015. In the same month, a military checkpoint was attacked on the outskirts of the capital and a presidential security convoy was ambushed in the country’s northwest. At least 40 worshippers were killed in June in a Catholic church in southwestern Owo, and last week five people were killed in Kogi state, in the centre of the country, when gunmen opened fire on a bus. AFP

42 Malian Soldiers Killed in Suspected Jihadi Attacks
Forty-two Malian soldiers died in a sophisticated weekend attack by suspected jihadis using drones and artillery, authorities said Wednesday, the latest violent incident to rock the troubled Sahel country. The toll is one of the bloodiest in Mali’s decadelong insurgency, which has spread from the north of the country to the center and south and into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger. A document naming the dead was authenticated to AFP by several senior military officials, while the government later confirmed the toll in a statement that said 22 soldiers were injured and 37 “terrorists” were neutralized. The attack occurred Sunday in the town of Tessit, in the troubled three-border region where the frontiers of the three nations converge. On Monday, the army had said 17 soldiers and four civilians died. Relatives of the victims, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some of the civilians were elected officials. AFP

Tunisian Court Suspends President’s Dismissal of 50 Judges
A Tunisian administrative court suspended the dismissal of fifty judges who were fired by President Kais Saied in June, a lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday. Saied dismissed 57 judges on June 1, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists – charges that the Tunisian Judges’ Association said were mostly politically motivated. The lawyer, Kamel Ben Massoud, told Reuters that the court had rejected the appeals of at least seven other judges. France 24

Africa CDC in ‘Advanced’ Talks to Obtain Monkeypox Vaccines
Africa’s public health agency says the continent of 1.3 billion people still does not have a single dose of the monkeypox vaccine, but “very advanced discussions” are underway with at least two partners. The acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, told journalists on Thursday that he could not give details, but he said the partners are “largely multilateral institutions and non-African governments.” There are no discussions with the private sector because all available doses have already been bought by countries, he said. But a clinical trial is underway in Congo for a vaccine, Jynneos, that’s under emergency use authorization, Ogwell said. The two-dose vaccine is considered the main medical weapon against the disease, but its availability is limited. More monkeypox deaths have been reported on the African continent this year than anywhere in the world. Since May, nearly 90 countries have reported more than 31,000 cases. AP

How Russian Propaganda Is Reaching Beyond English Speakers
When Russia’s war in Ukraine began, Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants moved to block or limit the reach of the accounts of the Kremlin’s propaganda machine in the West. The effort, though, has been limited by geography and language, creating a patchwork of restrictions rather than a blanket ban. In Spanish in Latin America or in Arabic across the Middle East, a steady stream of Russian propaganda and disinformation continues to try to justify President Vladimir V. Putin’s unprovoked invasion, demonizing Ukraine and obfuscating responsibility for Russian atrocities that have killed thousands of civilians. The result has been a geographical and cultural asymmetry in the information war over Ukraine that has helped undercut American- and European-led efforts to put broad international pressure on Mr. Putin to call off his war. New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones