Africa Media Review for August 14, 2020

Several Dead in Ivory Coast over President’s Third-Term Bid
At least four people have been killed in clashes in Ivory Coast as hundreds took to the streets following President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to run for a third term this October. Three people were killed in the central town of Daoukro in clashes between Ouattara supporters and backers of rival candidate Henri Konan Bedie, a security source and witnesses said. On Thursday, an 18-year-old died in the southeastern town of Bonoua, 50km (30 miles) from the economic hub, Abidjan, in violence between demonstrators and security forces, said Mayor Jean-Paul Amethier. “The police station in Bonoua has been ransacked by angry demonstrators, and the police chief and officers have taken refuge in the courtyard,” local resident Herve Niamkey said. In Abidjan, scattered groups of demonstrators built barricades and burned tyres in response to a call from the opposition and civil society groups. “His candidacy is against the constitution – we don’t want a third term,” said protester Herve Seka in Anono district. AFP

More Than 9,000 Arrests in Ethiopia since June Killing of Singer
Ethiopia has arrested more than 9,000 people after deadly clashes last month, the state-run human rights commission has told the Reuters news agency, raising fears that a government hailed for reforms is returning to the iron-fisted tactics of past administrations. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 promising democratic changes in one of Africa’s most repressive nations, is struggling to rein in resurgent ethnic nationalism that sporadically explodes in bouts of violence. Abiy’s changes have unleashed old disputes over land, resources and local power, and he now faces the challenge of protecting citizens while preserving fledgling freedoms that helped win him the Nobel Peace Prize last year. He has promised to hold Ethiopia’s first free and fair elections in 2021, which would be a milestone for Africa’s second-most-populous nation. But the state-run Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said more than 9,000 people had been arrested since the June 29 shooting of musician Haacaaluu Hundeessaa… Al Jazeera/Reuters

Africa Begins Continent-Wide Study of COVID-19 Antibodies
An Africa-wide study of antibodies to the coronavirus has begun, while evidence from a smaller study indicates that many more people have been infected than official numbers show, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Experts are eager to know the real number of COVID-19 cases in Africa, as confirmed cases and deaths have been relatively low on the continent of 1.3 billion people. Poor data collection, however, has complicated efforts. But recent surveys in Mozambique found antibodies – proteins the body makes when an infection occurs – to the virus in 5% of households in the city of Nampula and 2.5% in the city of Pemba. That’s while Mozambique has just 2,481 confirmed virus cases. … “What is important is far fewer people are coming down with the disease,” Africa CDC director John Nkengasong told reporters. “How many people are infected and asymptomatic on our continent? We don’t know that.” AP

Lagos’s Poor Lament COVID Fallout: ‘We Don’t See the Virus, We See Suffering
Drawing open the curtains in Alapere, Lagos, unveils a sea of shanty roofs and watery-coloured housing blocks. “We don’t see any virus but we see suffering,” says Juliana Chokpa, a 38-year-old cleaner. This working-class Lagos community has been reeling from job losses, a collapse in informal services, and rising food and transport costs. … In areas such as Alapere, the fallout from the pandemic has tipped economic ecosystems over the edge. While Juliana wealthier employers’s have been affected by the lockdown, they are better insulated from the disruption. The knock-on effects further down the chain are more profound. For Africa’s largest economy, the pandemic has precipitated a crisis at a time when many people were already in difficulty. … Some 42% of employed Nigerians have lost their jobs during the pandemic, a sobering survey by Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in June, and 80% of households contacted reported lower incomes compared with last year. The Guardian

Al-Qaeda, ISIS Infiltration: Nigeria Not Taking U.S. Warning Lightly – DHQ
The Defence Headquarters said the Armed Forces and all relevant security agencies are leaving nothing to chance on the warning by the United State of America on the infiltration of Al-Qaeda and ISIS into the country. The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, John Enenche, a major general, said this at the updates briefing on military operations across the country on Thursday in Abuja. The U.S. had said Al-Qaeda and ISIS were looking to make an inroad into Southern Nigeria and that Al-Qaeda had started penetrating the north-western part of the country. The Commander of the U.S. special operations command, Africa, Dagvin Anderson, made the claim in a digital briefing last week. … He said the security agencies in the country had been working and they would deal with the situation accordingly, noting that it is possible that the terrorists might be changing their mode of operations or tactic. Premium Times

Africom Continues to Combat Terrorism in Africa Amidst COVID-19
The United States, primarily through its Africa Command (Africom) continues to combat terrorism and extremism on the continent in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, especially as it sees terrorism expanding along Africa’s east coast. The US Department of State recently held a special digital briefing with commander of US Special Operations Command Africa, Major General Dagvin Anderson, to discuss US partnerships with African nations to reduce extremism, combat terrorist organisations, and bring about peace and prosperity throughout the African continent. Anderson said African countries are dealing with many threats at the moment such as food insecurity, droughts and locust swarms in East Africa on top of COVID-19. Humanitarian crises are fuel for terrorists which is something US Africa Command is watching closely and looking at addressing holistically not only via the military but through a whole of government approach. DefenceWeb

Catalogue of Rights Abuses by Anglophone Separatists in Cameroon
Anglophone separatists continue to commit serious human rights abuses in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, with kidnappings, torture and killings targeting the civilian population, according to a new report published by the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights in Cameroon (CHRDA), a local non-governmental organisation. CHRDA’s report focuses on abuses carried out between May and August 2020 as part of the ongoing conflict in the Anglophone areas of Cameroon between the military and armed separatist groups. A 35-year-old woman was beheaded by separatists in Muyuka, Fako Division of the Southwest region on 11 August, according to CHRDA. The woman, who had four children, was accused of being a spy, having spent a weekend with a Cameroonian solider. She was beheaded, her body dumped in the street and the video depicting the murder shared on social media. RFI

An unexplained death within the inner circle of Togo’s military is posing a challenge to the authorities in a tightly-ruled country where for nearly 60 years the army has been the cornerstone of power. Lieutenant Colonel Bitala Madjoulba, commander of the elite 1st Rapid Intervention Battalion, was found dead in his office in a military base on May 4, the day after President Faure Gnassingbe was sworn in for his fourth term. An autopsy found that the 51-year-old, a fervent Gnassingbe supporter whose unit helped to crush mass protests in 2017 and 2018, died of a bullet wound. But the investigators, who are being overseen by Security Minister General Damehame Yark, have been tightlipped, breaking their silence on July 13 to say Togo had asked France to provide “technical help.” AFP

UNMISS Establishes a Temporary Base in South Sudan’s Tonj
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has established a temporary base in Tonj to deter further violence in the area after recent clashes between government forces and local youth. On Tuesday, UNMISS dispatched a patrol to Tonj following the killing of dozens of people in bloody clashes between South Sudan’s People’s Defence Forces and local youth who refused to render their arms during a disarmament campaign. “Peacekeepers set up a temporary operating base to help deter further violence and are supporting local reconciliation efforts,” said UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric on Thursday. Dujarric further stressed that the security situation is calm “although tensions remain high.” He said that the peacekeepers met with local officials and military leaders, including the commander of the disarmament forces, as well as with community members and youth groups. Sudan Tribune

Two Kenya Police Officers Charged with Murder after Garissa Shooting
Two Kenyan police officers were charged on Thursday with murder after they allegedly shot dead two people in the eastern county of Garissa last month, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters. International campaigners have raised concerns about police behaviour in Kenya, including during a lockdown instituted earlier this year to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. Rights group Amnesty International said Kenyan police had killed at least 100 people in 2020, with 21 related to COVID-19 lockdown infractions such as curfew or mask violations. The national police service said last month that two officers had been arrested “over a shooting incident at Soko Ng’ombe market within Garissa Township” and that the inspector general had ordered an investigation. Reuters

Grounded Ship Emptied of Oil, but Heavy Damage for Mauritius
Almost all the remaining oil has been pumped from a Japanese ship that ran aground off Mauritius, but its initial spill of 1,000 tons of fuel has severely damaged the Indian Ocean island’s coral reefs and once pristine coast, environmental groups said Thursday. … “Today we can confirm that there is just a small amount of oil left on the ship. We are not threatened with an even worse disaster,” Jean Hugue Gardenne, communications manager for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, told The Associated Press. “However, make no mistake, the damage that has been done already is substantial. There is considerable clean-up work that must be done urgently,” Gardenne said. “The damage to the coral reefs may be irreversible.” … Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth is under pressure to explain why immediate action was not taken to empty the ship of its oil before it began to leak. Jugnauth has banned some newspapers from future press conferences after they asked tough questions, local residents said. AP

WHO: Congo Facing Growing Ebola Crisis
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is facing a growing Ebola outbreak in its northwest Equateur province in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. At his COVID-19 news briefing in Geneva on Thursday, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the outbreak is a “worrying” development, with 86 cases confirmed in the province. He said the DRC government faces significant logistical challenges in trying to rapidly investigate and respond to the outbreak because the cases are spread over a vast area, sometimes separated by more than 250 kilometers, and many areas are accessible only by helicopter or boat. … Tedros said he knows from experience that this is not just a matter for one country’s health security. “It is a matter of global health security. Whether it’s COVID-19, Ebola or other high impact epidemics, we must be prepared, we need to be on high alert and we need to respond quickly.” VOA

Kenyan All-Female Wildlife Ranger Team Breaks down Barriers
On the sweeping plains at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, a group of female wildlife rangers is making history by defying patriarchal norms that have been passed down for centuries, patrolling against poachers instead of doing household chores. The eight ethnic Maasai women known as “Team Lioness” are part of 76 community-based rangers guarding leopards, elephants, giraffe and other wildlife in the 147,000-hectare (363,000-acre) area surrounding Kenya’s Amboseli National Park. Team Lioness members say they overcame community resistance to women working outside the home and hope their precedent-setting example will help shift mindsets. … “They thought that this is only meant for men so they have been discouraging us … but we told them, ‘No, we will do it and we will make it,'” [24-year-old Purity] Amleset said. AP



Photo: Adam Jones