Africa Media Review for August 15, 2023

Africa’s Interests in Strengthening the United Nations System
The United Nations is the only truly global organization with the mandate and profile to assist in solving pressing global problems. African members are among the most steadfast supporters of the UN and favor institutional reforms to make it a more effective, equitable, and inclusive international system. Historically, African countries have used their representational strength as the largest single voting bloc to resist efforts to weaken, undermine, or dilute the UN. Rather, they have tried to preserve the integrity of the UN system, address its shortcomings, and make it more responsive to African and Global South concerns. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

‘Another Form of Provocation’: ECOWAS Slams Niger Junta Plan to Put Ousted President on Trial
The African Union (AU) on Monday held talks on the Niger crisis as the country’s post-coup rulers sounded defiance yet also pointed to diplomacy for a potential solution. But talks at the AU’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa coincided with a flare-up over threats by the regime to prosecute Niger’s deposed president. … Those attending included AU Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat as well as representatives from Niger and the West African bloc ECOWAS, it said. … In a statement, the bloc said it had learned of the threats “with stupefaction.” “It represents yet another form of provocation and contradicts the (regime’s) reported willingness… to restore constitutional order through peaceful means.” … Bazoum’s election in 2021 marked the first time that the country had experienced a peaceful transition of power since gaining independence from France in 1960. He survived two attempted coups before being ousted, in the fifth putsch in the country’s history. AFP

Niger Scraps Jail Sentence for Head of Group Supporting Military
A Niamey court on Monday scrapped a nine-month jail sentence handed to Abdoulaye Seydou, head of a leading activist group which supports the ruling military, his entourage said. Members of Niger’s presidential guard seized power in a coup late last month. Seydou, head of the M62 group, had been behind bars for seven months in a case involving an army air strike on suspected jihadists in the south of the country. … The M62 movement, set up a year ago, is a coalition of around 10 groups and NGOs opposed to the presence of French military forces in Niger. In recent weeks, it has led calls for rallies to support officers who on July 26 toppled the country’s elected president, Mohamed Bazoum. AFP

Ethiopia: At Least 26 Killed in Drone Strike in Ethiopia’s Amhara Region
Health workers say at least 26 civilians were killed in a drone strike in a town in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. Federal government forces and a regional militia that fought on the same side during the recent war in the Tigray region have been fighting each other for the past four months. The attack Sunday took place in the central town of Finote Selam, in the West Gojam Zone of Ethiopia’s Amhara region. A doctor at Finote Selam Hospital who spoke on the condition of anonymity said injured people started arriving around midday. “There are many people who died at the site of the accident, but we do not have the exact numbers of that,” he said. “But the ones who arrived here and passed away are around 26 people as of now.” … Fighting between the federal government and Fano was sparked in April when the government ordered the militia to integrate with the country’s police or military following the peace deal in Tigray. VOA

26 Nigeria Troops Killed in Ambush: Military Sources
At least 26 members of the Nigerian security forces were killed and eight wounded in an ambush by gunmen in central Nigeria late Sunday, two military sources told AFP. Additionally, an air force spokesman said a helicopter rescuing the wounded crashed on Monday morning in the area, where the army is fighting criminal groups, without specifying whether the crew and passengers had survived. The two military officers asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to speak on the incident, while military authorities were not available for comment. “We lost 23 soldiers, including three officers, and three Civilians JTF (vigilantes) in the encounter while eight soldiers were injured,” said the first source, following “a serious fight” along the Zungeru-Tegina highway. … Northwest and central Nigeria have for years been terrorized by bandits who raid remote villages where they kill and abduct residents for ransom, as well as burn homes after looting them. Defense Post with AFP

The Price Of Being Fulani In Northwestern Nigeria
On a sweltering Wednesday morning in April, a death sentence was served on five young Fulani men. It was summarily delivered by a group of volunteer vigilantes known as Yan Sakai near Sakamaru, a community in the Gwadabawa area of Sokoto State. The killing was not well reported in the media, but it typifies the problems currently facing Fulani communities in North West Nigeria. Because of the high profile of some Fulani criminals involved in the terrorism sweeping the northwestern states, innocent Fulani communities have been targeted in response. … 50-year-old Umaru, a displaced Fulani man from Sakamaru, looked dispirited as he narrated this story. It still shocks him that five of his relatives were killed simply because they were stereotyped as kinsmen of “bandits.” In July HumAngle met Umaru, Garba, Hantsi, and Attahiru with their families taking refuge on a rocky landscape in Kwalkwalawa village, a stone’s throw from the famous Bilya Sanda Gate of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto (UDUS). They narrated to me how they and other Fulani families displaced from different communities under Gwadabawa, had to flee their ancestral communities because people of their ethnic identity were no longer safe there. HumAngle

UN Troops in DRC to ‘Accelerate’ Departure, Says Guterres
United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo will begin departing the country in an “accelerated withdrawal,” the global body’s Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, confirming the departure of one of the missions first deployed 25 years ago. In a report tabled to the UN Security Council, Guterres says the Stabilisation Mission deployed to the DR Congo, and known by its French acronym Monusco, will leave the country, concluding a controversial chapter but potentially leaving behind a void that could worsen the country’s violence. Monusco’s mandate had been extended last year in December, by a year, “on exceptional basis” of its intervention brigade. But the mission with more than 15,000 soldiers and police officers has been controversial, eliciting protests in parts of Eastern Congo where it operates. … Guterres says Monusco, is entering “its final phase” in the DR Congo. And according to a plan set out in his report, the Mission will have to begin “an accelerated withdrawal,” even though the security and humanitarian situation “deteriorating sharply.” EastAfrican

DRC: The Shadow of the Next Pandemic Looms in a Virus Hotspot
Low vaccination coverage in the Democratic Republic of the Congo raises the risk of diseases spreading and adapting undetected. … Nana Ibumbu noticed that 8-year-old Daniel Mwanza was burning up. Ibumbu is the nutritionist at an orphanage on the outskirts of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and oversees all aspects of the children’s health. Last fall, Congo faced a major mpox (previously known as monkeypox) outbreak, as well as a persistent threat from measles. She decided to give Daniel antibiotics, hoping his fever would die down. But then the vomiting started, and soon afterward blotchy rashes appeared on Daniel’s skin. FP

More Mass Graves Found in West Darfur, RSF Accused of Demolishing Camps
Civil leaders in West Darfur have uncovered 30 hidden mass graves containing roughly one thousand bodies of victims of the ongoing attacks on the state capital El Geneina since last April. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been accused of deliberately obscuring evidence of war crimes and demolishing camps for displaced people. Representative of the Masalit tribe El Farsha Saleh Arbab Suleiman gave a press conference in Port Sudan on Saturday after his return from Chadian capital N’Djamena in which he accused the RSF of seeking to obscure evidence of crimes committed in El Geneina by burying bodies in hidden locations and forcing the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) to hand over bodies. El Farsha said that the RSF force the SRCS to gather the bodies scattered around the city and load them into vehicles. These are then used by the RSF to bury them in unknown locations where they cannot be studied. Radio Dabanga

‘Every Checkpoint Could Be Your Last’: The Perilous Road to Safety for Darfuri Refugees
The route to safety for Darfuris fleeing ethnically targeted violence by Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militias is a relatively short 30-kilometre road that snakes a path to a refugee camp in neighbouring Chad. But those who have recently traversed the route – studded with militia checkpoints and strewn with corpses and mass graves – say it’s the most dangerous journey they have ever undertaken. “On the way, we found corpses lying every two kilometres,” said Zeinab Abdullah, a recently arrived refugee in Chad. “I also saw a large makeshift burial site, but I have no idea of the number of dead. It was too dangerous to stop along the road.” The scene of a major armed conflict that gained international attention in the early 2000s, Darfur has been thrust into a new phase of violence since Sudan’s army and the RSF began fighting for control of the country in mid-April. While the RSF is focused on battling the army in some parts of Darfur, in other areas its fighters – drawn largely from Darfuri Arab groups but by no means representative of the community – have launched mass attacks against non-Arabs, in particular the Masalit. New Humanitarian

Sudan Conflict: RSF and Hemedti’s Wings Clipped on Facebook ‘For Violating the Policy of Dangerous Organisations and Individuals’
Facebook’s owner Meta has removed the official pages of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), and its leader Lt Gen Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, as well as other accounts related to the paramilitary formation on Friday. The pro-military page of Ansrafi was also deleted. Meta confirmed on Friday that the RSF accounts had been removed from its platforms “for violating the policy of dangerous organisations and individuals.” Radio Dabanga

Madagascan President’s Chief of Staff Charged with Bribery in UK
The president of Madagascar’s chief of staff and an “associate” have been charged with bribery offences in Britain following a “fast-paced” police investigation, the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said Monday. Romy Andrianarisoa, 46, the top aide to Madagascan President Andry Rajoelina, and Philippe Tabuteau, 54, are accused of seeking a bribe from a British mining company to secure licences to operate in Madagascar. The pair were remanded in custody on Saturday after they were arrested Thursday in central London “at a meeting where they are suspected of having attempted to solicit a bribe,” the NCA said. … Andrianarisoa and Tabuteau, a French national, were seeking around £225 000 in “upfront charges,” as well as a five-percent equity stake in a proposed licence deal on the island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa, it said. AFP

Egypt’s Rabaa Massacre: Still Waiting for Justice
There’s plenty of evidence of what happened that day at Rabaa in Cairo: Eyewitness accounts, pictures, videos, even a documentary, “Memories of a Massacre,” that was released this month. But despite all the evidence, those who were there say there has been no real justice to atone for the massacre that happened in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya square a decade ago. On August 14, 2013, Egyptian security services took up positions around the square where an estimated 85,000 people were protesting the political situation in the country. … Although estimates vary, it is thought between 600 and over 1,000 people were killed that day. … in 2021, Egypt approved amendments to laws governing its own Supreme Constitutional Court or SCC. These amendments mean that if any international court or tribunal should one day find Egypt guilty of, say, crimes against humanity, and orders reparations, the decision would be passed back to the SCC. This local court would then decide whether the verdict was valid or not. “[The amendments] send a clear message,” lawyer Mai El-Sadany wrote in a 2021 post for Carnegie Endowment. “To those inside the country … [they] signal that those committing violations may continue to do so while enjoying protection domestically. To the global community, Egyptian authorities are challenging the international system.” DW