Africa Media Review for August 24, 2020

Talks between W Africa Mediators, Mali Coup Leaders Enter 2nd Day
Closely watched talks between a West African delegation and military officers who overthrew President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita earlier this week have entered a second day. Spearheaded by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, the delegation from the regional ECOWAS bloc met military officers led by Colonel Assimi Goita behind closed doors for several hours on Sunday morning. “The discussions are going very well,” Jonathan told journalists as he stepped out during a break, without elaborating. A senior officer close to the coup leaders told Reuters news agency that the morning’s discussion had focused on the sanctions the bloc imposed on Mali, which include suspending trade and closing borders, following Tuesday’s coup. Al Jazeera

West African Leaders Press for Mali President’s Release
West African leaders visiting Mali pressed Sunday for the release of ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita amid mounting speculation that he could be flown out of the country after thousands showed support for the military coup that toppled him. The 75-year-old Keita has been in the custody of the ruling military junta for five days at the barracks where the government overthrow originated. The 15-nation regional bloc known as ECOWAS has demanded Keita’s reinstatement, though with a wave of public support for his ouster it appeared increasingly unlikely Sunday he would return to power. ECOWAS had earlier demanded that Keita be reinstated and said it would mobilize a regional standby military force. But a demonstration by thousands of Malians showing their support for the coup in the streets of Bamako on Friday made it more difficult for the regional leaders to sideline the junta. … The high-level delegation, led by Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, held talks with the junta, including Col. Assimi Goita, who has declared himself the group’s leader. The regional delegation also met with Keita and the other detained officials. AP

Libya: 7 Points Listed for Stability after Ceasefire
Following the announcement on Friday of a ceasefire across Libya, the spokesperson of the High State Council, Mohamed Bnias made it clear that there are 7 points to be respected for ensure progress in Libya aftermath. The most important point was the rejection of any dialogue with military commander Khalifa Hifter, and said the council will hold to account anyone responsible for shutting down the gateway to the country’s major oil export terminals. According to Mohamed Bnias, Spokesman of the Libyan High State Council: “The necessity of serious work to end the state of rebellion in the country with an immediate ceasefire, and to enable the Government of National Accord to extend its control over all of Libyan soil. Second, the complete rejection of any form of dialogue with the terrorist war criminal Hifter.” … Friday’s ceasefire marks a breakthrough following international pressure amid rising fear of a new escalation in the chaotic proxy war as rival sides mobilize for a battle over the coastal city of Sirte. AfricaNews

Suspected Islamist Militants Kill 13 in Eastern Congo Villages
Suspected Islamist militants killed 13 people during raids on two villages in eastern Congo, the army and a village chief said, the latest in a spate of attacks the United Nations says may constitute war crimes. The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group operating in North Kivu province in Democratic Republic of Congo, have killed more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019, according to U.N. figure. Militiamen tied up the victims in the villages of Kinziki-Matiba and Wikeno, 10 km east of the city of Oicha, before killing them in the attack on Friday afternoon, said Chui Mukalangirwa, a local village chief. … The ADF has operated in the dense forests near the Ugandan border for more than three decades. Late last year the Congo army launched a large-scale operation against them, sparking a violent backlash against civilians. Several attacks attributed to the ADF have also been claimed by Islamic State, although researchers and analysts say there is a lack of hard evidence linking the two groups. Reuters

Militia in Eastern DRC Agrees to Stop Attacks
An armed group in the eastern DR Congo has agreed to President Felix Tshisekedi’s appeal to suspend attacks on its ethnic rivals, the militia and government said Sunday. UN officials have blamed massacres they say are akin to “crimes against humanity” on the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco), which draws its members from the mainly farming Lendu people who have historically clashed with Hema traders and herders. “We are stopping the acts of violence as the head of state is asking,” Codeco spokesman Basa Zukpa told AFP. “We are ready to seize his outstretched hand. That’s why we are telling our units to respect this process, to be calm.” It was not clear when the ceasefire was agreed. Codeco was most recently blamed for killing 19 civilians in attacks on August 9 on three villages in the troubled eastern province of Ituri. AFP

DRC Opposition Leader Fayulu Returns to Push for Early Elections
DR Congo’s opposition leader Martin Fayulu on Saturday returned to the country, after six months in Europe and the United States, to demand for an early election in the country. Fayulu ran for the 2018 Presidential election on the Lamuka Coalition ticket. Moments after he touched down in Kinshasa, he addressed supporters declaring, “I told you that Félix (Tshisekedi) is a puppet and that it is another person who is in power. Isn’t that what we see today?” Fayulu claimed he won the 2018 presidential election but accuses the electoral commission of working to deny him the victory. He says he wrote to the African Union last February to propose two solutions to end the crisis in the DRC – one being that the continental body oversees a vote recount in Kinshasa. The second proposal was to have a repeat election, which must come earlier than the planned 2023, but after adequate reforms in the electoral regime and the electoral commission. The East African

Nigerian Security Clash with Biafra Separatists Turns Deadly – DSS
At least two people were killed in a clash between Nigerian state security officers and a group campaigning for the secession of a part of southeastern Nigeria formerly known as Biafra, security services said on Sunday. The incident between Department of State Services (DSS) agents and members of the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) took place in southeastern Nigeria’s Enugu state. DSS said two of its personnel were killed in what they called an unprovoked attack, while IPOB, in a statement, said 21 of their members were killed and more than 40 others arrested after security forces stormed one of their meetings. … IPOB leaders have called for secession in the region, where tensions have simmered since a Biafra separatist rebellion sparked a civil war in 1967-70 that killed an estimated one million people. Reuters

Deadly Violence in Cote d’Ivoire as Ouattara Gears Up to Claim Third Mandate
At least two people have been killed during inter-ethnic violence which broke out on Saturday northwest of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. This comes on the heels of the nomination of President Alassane Ouattara to run as the candidate for the ruling RHDP party, for a third term in office. Clashes occurred in the town of Divo, some 200 kilometres northwest of Abidjan and at least two people were killed, according to hospital sources. Doctors reported that one man died on Sunday morning from wounds sustained during the clashes, while a second man died in a fire in a bar on Saturday evening, according to witnesses. Hospital staff also reported that several people had serious injuries from machetes. On Saturday, Côte d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara was officially chosen as the candidate to represent the ruling RHDP party in the 31 October elections. … Violent and sometimes deadly protests have spread across the country since 6 August when Ouattara decided to run in the election, going back on his initial promise. His choice to run for a third mandate has been deemed unconstitutional by the opposition. RFI

Sudan Ready to Cooperate With ICC Over Darfur, PM Says
Sudan’s prime minister said on Saturday the country was ready to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) so those accused of war crimes in Darfur appear before the tribunal, a list that includes ousted President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir, who has been in jail in Khartoum since he was toppled after mass protests last year, is wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur in a conflict that killed an estimated 300,000 people. The government reached a deal with rebel groups in February calling for all five Sudanese ICC suspects to appear before the court, but Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok had not previously publicly affirmed Sudan’s position. … Sudan’s transitional government, a three-year joint civilian-military arrangement led by Hamdok, says it is close to a peace deal with some rebel groups active in Darfur, a vast region roughly the size of France. The government and some of the rebels are expected to initial an agreement on August 28. VOA

As Burkina Faso Grapples with COVID-19, New UN Data Reveals ‘Alarming Deterioration’ in Food Security
An estimated 3.3 million people in Burkina Faso are facing acute food insecurity, two United Nations agencies warned on Friday. Citing alarming new data, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), stressed that “urgent and sustained action” is needed to address the worsening food and nutrition situation throughout the country. Since the situation in Burkina Faso was last assessed in March, acute food insecurity has increased more than 50 per cent, according to the latest analysis. And in a country already reeling from conflict and climate change, the UN survey points out that COVID-19 has intensified people’s inability to earn money to cover their daily needs. “The COVID-19 pandemic is further exacerbating a crisis that was already deteriorating at a worrying pace, pushing more and more people into severe food crisis and acute food insecurity,” said Dauda Sau, FAO Representative in Burkina Faso. Meanwhile, the provinces of Oudalan and Soum in the Sahel region have been driven into the emergency phase of food insecurity, as defined by the analysis. UN News

Ebola Spreading Rapidly in DR Congo’s Equateur Province
he World Health Organization is concerned by the rapid increase and spread of the deadly Ebola virus in remote, densely forested areas of Equateur province in the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Health officials report 100 people in DRC have been infected with Ebola in fewer than 100 days, killing nearly half or 43 of those who have contracted this highly contagious disease. The WHO says the virus is continuing to spread and is already in 11 of the province’s 17 health zones. This is of particular concern because of the difficulty of reaching affected communities in the geographically vast area. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says there currently is a delay of about five days from the onset of symptoms to when an alert about a suspected case is raised. VOA

Zambian President Fires Central Bank Governor in Surprise Move
Zambian President Edgar Lungu on Saturday summarily dismissed central bank governor Denny Kalyalya and replaced him with former deputy finance minister Christopher Mphanza Mvunga, a statement from State House said. “President Lungu has terminated the contract of Bank of Zambia governor Dr Denny Kalyalya with immediate effect,” said the statement, which did not provide reasons for the dismissal. Kalyalya, who previously served as a World Bank executive director, was appointed in February 2015 and had his contract extended in 2018 until 2023. His dismissal comes barely three days after the central bank cut its benchmark lending rate by 125 basis points to 8.0% to try to safeguard financial sector stability and protect livelihoods in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reuters

Twenty Inmates Killed after Madagascar Prison Riot
Twenty prisoners were killed in Madagascar as the authorities attempted to stop a riot in a prison in the south of the island, the justice ministry said. The trouble began at the prison in Farafagana at around 12:00 local time (09:00 GMT) with inmates splitting into two groups and attacking guards with stones, the ministry outlined in a statement on Facebook. They also seized a gun. Along with the 20 who were shot dead, eight prisoners were seriously injured as the authorities tried to regain control. Twenty-nine others were also recaptured but by 16:00 local time 31 inmates were still free, according to the justice ministry. It is not clear how the violence began but in 2018 Amnesty International reported that Madagascar’s prisons were “dilapidated, ill-equipped, with [a] lack of financial, material and general support”. It also highlighted how people can spend years in pre-trial detention. BBC

When a Crackdown Prevented Protests, a Hashtag Gave Them a Voice
hen Zimbabwean activists began planning mass protests against corruption in mid-July, the country’s authorities turned to a familiar playbook to shut down their opposition. They began rounding up government critics and arrested a prominent journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, who had exposed a corruption scandal around the government’s purchase of personal protective equipment for health care workers. A new curfew—allegedly to prevent the spread of coronavirus—slid into place, preventing movement after 6 p.m. And on July 30, a day before the proposed marches, the police warned that participants would “be regarded as terrorists.” The next morning, the streets were empty. Government, it seemed, had won. But online, it was a different story. In and outside Zimbabwe, the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter was gathering strength, first among Zimbabweans airing grievances with their government, and soon, by people around the world expressing solidarity. CS Monitor



Photo: Adam Jones