Africa Media Review for August 14, 2023

Niger’s Coup Leaders Say They Will Prosecute Deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for ‘High Treason’
Niger’s mutinous soldiers said they will prosecute deposed President Mohamed Bazoum for “high treason” and undermining state security, in an announcement hours after the junta said they were open to dialogue with West African nations to resolve the mounting regional crisis. If found guilty, Bazoum could face the death penalty, according to Niger’s penal code. … The announcement said high-ranking West African politicians and “their international mentors” have made false allegations and attempted to derail a peaceful solution to the crisis in order to justify a military intervention. It said Bazoum was being charged following his exchanges with these people. … In a statement Sunday, the board of directors for the Press House, an independent Nigerien organization that protects journalists, said local and international media were being threatened, and intimidated by Nigerien activists who support the junta and it was deeply concerned about the “very difficult climate” they were operating in. … Since the coup, jihadi violence is also rising. … [Militant Islamist] groups are trying to consolidate power, and it’s largely a consequence of the suspended military operations, said Wassim Nasr, a journalist and senior research fellow at the Soufan Center, told The Associated Press. “This is due to the halting of cooperation and the military being busy with consolidating their coup in Niamey,” he said. AP

Niger’s Captive Leader Losing Weight in Inhumane Conditions, Daughter Says
Niger’s overthrown leader and his family are being held under inhumane conditions by their military captors, who have cut off the electricity to the presidential residence, leaving them to rapidly lose weight while food rots in the fridge, the president’s daughter has told the Guardian. … She said the junta leaders have prevented her father’s doctor from entering the presidential palace in Niamey, where he is being held, and that he was told by soldiers not to come back. Her father and mother had lost about 5kg each, while her 22-year-old brother, Salem, who is being held with his parents, has lost 10kg, she said. “This is very dangerous, [the coup leaders] are doing it to put pressure on them, but it’s not fair to see them in this situation,” she said. … Zazie added: “We, too, requested twice for him to go out but they refused. His situation is bad. [The coup leaders] are using all this stuff against them, the electricity and all that psychological pressure, because they want to see my father sign a resignation letter. This is torture, they make life very difficult for them.” Guardian

UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali Quits Base Early over Insecurity
The MINUSMA force’s departure from Ber comes after the Malian army on Saturday said six soldiers died and 24 fighters from “armed terrorist groups” were killed in a skirmish in the area on Friday. Former rebels from the Tuareg ethnic group also said the army and the Russian mercenary group Wagner had attacked their forces in Ber on Friday. … In a message posted later Sunday, the forced added: “The MINUSMA convoy that withdrew from #Ber today was attacked twice,” adding that three wounded peacekeepers had been evacuated to Timbuktu for treatment. Attacks against peacekeepers can constitute war crimes under international law, the statement added. … For several days now, the Ber area has been the scene of tensions between the army and the Russian Wagner paramilitary group against the CMA, an alliance of Tuareg-dominated groups seeking autonomy or independence from the Malian state and which controls vast areas of the north. AFP

CAR Defense Minister to Visit Russia Next Week amid Talks for Moscow to Set Up Military Base
Defense Minister of the Central African Republic (CAR) Claude Rameaux Bireau is set to visit Russia next week amid talks between the two countries for Moscow to set up a military base in the African country now very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. CAR ambassador to Russia Leon Dodonu-Punagaza told the media about the visit, adding that the minister will visit the ‘Army 2023 Forum’ with a delegation. Russia’s capital Moscow will host from August 14 to 20 ‘Army International Military-Technical Forum.’ Organized by the Russian Defense ministry, the expo is reportedly the third large-scale event by the ministry and brings together representatives of large Russian and foreign companies of the military industrial complex, leading research and development institutes as well as project and design offices. The event comes few weeks after the July-held Second Russia-Africa Summit. North Africa Post

Lawyers and Witnesses Say Ethiopian Police Have Arrested Hundreds during State of Emergency
Authorities in Ethiopia are carrying out mass arrests of hundreds, even thousands, of people in the capital after deadly unrest in the country’s Amhara region, lawyers and witnesses said. Ethiopia’s Cabinet declared a state of emergency earlier this month in Amhara after local militia fighters known as Fano seized control of several major towns, which the military has since retaken by force. The Fano, who fought alongside Ethiopian military forces in a two-year conflict in the neighboring Tigray region, have resisted being disbanded after a peace deal last November. Ethiopia’s parliament is to vote Monday on giving formal approval to extraordinary measures which allow authorities to arrest suspects without a warrant, conduct searches and impose curfews. Under the previous state of emergency imposed during the Tigray conflict, tens of thousands of ethnic Tigrayans were rounded up across the country. AP

Fighting Flares in South Darfur Amid Fears of New Civil War 
Violence flared Sunday in the western Sudanese city of Nyala and elsewhere in the state of South Darfur, witnesses said, threatening to engulf the region in Sudan’s protracted war. The conflict has brought daily battles to the streets of the capital of Khartoum, a revival of ethnically targeted attacks in West Darfur, and the displacement of more than 4 million people within Sudan and across its borders into Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and other countries. Clashes between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have flared periodically in Nyala, the country’s second biggest city and a strategic hub for the fragile Darfur region. The latest flare-up has lasted three days, with both the army and RSF firing artillery into residential neighborhoods, witnesses told Reuters. Fighting has damaged electricity, water, and telecoms networks. At least eight people were killed Saturday alone, according to the Darfur Bar Association, a national human rights monitor. Reuters

Deadly Boat Accident in Senegal Raises Concern About Patrols to Stop Migrants
When a fisherman showed up for work on a recent morning at a popular beach in Dakar, the capital of the West African nation of Senegal, he found a horrifying scene: Dead bodies splayed across the sand and a painted wooden boat bobbing unattended. He plunged into the water to help search for survivors. The pirogue, a wooden fishing boat, had been loaded with migrants hoping to reach Spain, but instead it struck a ring of underwater rocks early on July 24. At least 16 bodies were recovered, the latest in a string of tragedies to befall people risking the treacherous ocean route to Europe. This boat, however, was being chased by patrol vessels from Spain and Senegal in near-total darkness when it hit the rocks, according to a witness who was on the beach and the leader of a local aid group who has spoken with survivors. The deputy mayor for the area also said in an interview that the boat was being pursued. New York Times

Uprooted and Forgotten, Cameroon’s Climate Refugees Living in Despair
“Each time it rains our houses are flooded,” she says. Aminatou and her family of 14 share a hut. They left their home in the remote Logone-Birni community in August 2021, when Musgum farmers attacked. “It was a very scary night,” she told RFI. “It was one Friday in 2021. The Musgums came and surrounded the village … they started setting homes ablaze. That is how we fled, leaving behind everything – our cattle, goats, sheep, property – everything.” It’s a community inhabited by the Choa Arab herders and Musgum fishers and farmers: once peaceful neighbours who relied on the Logone and Chari rivers for their grazing, farming and fishing activities. … The immediate trigger was something that seemed banal: a cow owned by a Choa Arab herder had slipped into a pond dug by a Musgum fisherman and drowned. The incident speaks to the stark reality of climate change in a region where temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the global average, and where 80 percent of farmland is now degraded. RFI

Nigeria: The Town Being Eaten by the Sea… and the Researcher Racing to Rescue It
In 2017, Iyaomolere made his first trip to collect data for his research. At that time, Ayetoro was a kilometre from the shoreline. Anecdotal evidence from community leaders suggested that the community used to be farther from the ocean. “In the ’60s, the sea was very far from where the people lived. Ironically, it was the major problem fishermen were facing,” said Oba Oluwambe Ojagbohunmi, the community’s traditional ruler. “But at the moment, boats can no longer berth here,” he added. Before the discovery of oil in Ayetoro’s waters, the local economy thrived on fishing, an activity that employed more than half of the population. … However, the devastating impact of oil spills on the rich marine habitat and the advancing ocean that has inundated the fishermen’s riverside homes forced many of those who earned a living from the sea to migrate to other communities where the shores could still support fishing activities. Bird Story Agency

Nigerian Tech Workers Are Going Remote, and Pricing Out Locals in Smaller Cities
One evening in March 2022, Olusegun Akingboyega’s landlord asked him to vacate his apartment in six months because it needed to be renovated. Akingboyega, a civil servant and father of two, told Rest of World he offered to renew his tenancy after the renovation, but the landlord refused. So, he and his family left their two-bedroom home in southwest Nigeria’s Ibadan city, and relocate further away from town. When the renovation was complete, Akingboyega learned that the landlord had upped the rent by 50%, and leased the apartment to a tech worker who had just moved into town from Lagos. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, many of Nigeria’s tech workers have left Lagos and Abuja — the country’s economic and political hubs and flocked to secondary cities like Ibadan, Jos, Benin City, Uyo, and Osogbo because of their relatively lower cost of living and calmer environment. … One positive development that could arise from the trend is the enrichment of the startup ecosystem in Nigeria’s secondary cities, according to Uche Aniche, convener of StartupSouth, a startup advocacy organization based in Port Harcourt. Rest of World

Kenya’s ‘Trees of Life’ Exported despite Conservationists’ Protests
The baobab tree gives life in many forms: Shelter, food or medicine. Yet few may have imagined seeing on the highway heading for the port of Mombasa for export. These images have kicked off controversy lately, with government agencies in the eye of storm for allowing the uprooting and exportation of one of Kenya’s, and Africa’s, iconic tree species. The matter is not new. But it should have been settled last year after President William Ruto directed his environment officials to investigate why the giant trees were being taken away from their indigenous habitats. This week, however, it turned out the very exporter had been given the green light. Trucks were seen moving from the yard at Bofa to the Kilifi Old Ferry, in Kilifi County, where they were loaded on a ship to Mombasa Port. Four of the eight felled trees left Bofa this week on Monday, where they had been preserved since September last year, when the government initially halted the process of export. More would be loaded. This is despite pending court cases barring further uprooting and export of trees and the President’s order to investigate the export process. EastAfrican