Africa Media Review for August 31, 2022

Main Target of Russian Mercenaries in Africa Is Civilians, Report Says
As Russian mercenaries from the private military group Wagner have been operating in Ukraine, their counterparts in Africa have received little scrutiny and have made civilian populations their primary targets, according to a newly released report on their activities in two of the continent’s most fragile countries. In the Central African Republic, Wagner operatives have targeted civilians in more than half of all their operations since 2018, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, or ACLED, a crisis monitoring organization. And in Mali, where Wagner mercenaries have been operating alongside the country’s armed forces since last year, ACLED reported they have targeted civilians in more than 70 percent of their activities, leading to a spike in civilian deaths that analysts say could fuel the ranks of Islamist insurgents. New York Times

Angola’s Main Opposition Party Challenges Election Results
Angola’s main opposition party on Tuesday said it had submitted legal complaints challenging the electoral commission’s finding that the governing party won last week’s election but the body said it had not received any complaints related to it. In a statement on Tuesday, the opposition party, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), said the complaints would have the effect of suspending the declaration of results of the vote. Commission spokesperson Lucas Quilundo told reporters none of the complaints it had received so far were related to the final election results, but later said he had rejected two complaints filed by UNITA related to the electoral process and the results. After the most closely fought election since independence from Portugal in 1975, the commission declared the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) the winner, prolonging its nearly five decades of uninterrupted rule and handing President Joao Lourenco a second term. Reuters

Kenyan Court Starts Hearing Challenges to Presidential Vote
Kenya’s Supreme Court started hearing arguments Wednesday in challenges to the presidential election. Losing opposition candidate Raila Odinga is among those challenging the results and alleging a range of problems with the election process. Deputy President William Ruto was declared the winner earlier this month with just over 50% of votes. The court must rule on all challenges by the end of Monday. AP

First Ukraine Ship for Horn of Africa Docks in Djibouti Port – UN
A United Nations-chartered ship loaded with Ukrainian wheat destined for millions at risk of starvation in Ethiopia has arrived in Djibouti, according to the World Food Programme. The bulk carrier MV Brave Commander, which is carrying 23,000 tonnes of grain, docked in the Horn of Africa port city on Tuesday, two weeks after leaving a Black Sea port in Ukraine. “We have officially docked! The first WFP ship to carry Ukrainian grain since February has just arrived in Djibouti,” WFP executive director David Beasley said on Twitter. “Now, let’s get this wheat offloaded and on to Ethiopia.” The UN agency said food insecurity and malnutrition are a major concern across Ethiopia, with an estimated 20.4 million people in need of food support. Ukraine, one of the world’s largest grain exporters, was forced to halt almost all deliveries after Russia invaded the country in February, raising fears of a global food crisis. Al Jazeera

UN Weather Agency Predicts Rare ‘Triple-Dip’ La Nina in 2022
The United Nations weather agency predicts the phenomenon known as La Nina is poised to last through the end of this year, a mysterious “triple dip” – the first this century – caused by three straight years of its effect on climate patterns such as drought and flooding worldwide. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on Wednesday said La Nina conditions, which involve a large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures, have strengthened in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific with an increase in trade winds in recent weeks…Taalas said the drought in the Horn of Africa and southern South America “bears the hallmarks of La Nina.” “The new La Nina update unfortunately confirms regional climate projections that the devastating drought in the Horn of Africa will worsen and affect millions of people,” he said. That drought is set to worsen with a fifth consecutive failed rainy season, the WMO projected on Friday, fearing an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are already going through their worst drought for 40 years. Al Jazeera

Africa Urged to Propose Action on Climate at Conference
Africa’s nations must develop strategies to address climate change which poses an existential threat to the continent’s megacities, Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Adimba said at the third Africa Climate Week conference. African officials and experts should sharpen the positions they will present at the 27th annual United Nations climate conference to be held in Egypt in November, said Bongo. The third African climate meeting is bringing together more than 1,000 government officials and stakeholders in Gabon’s capital Libreville. They are working to form strong African regional climate responses. “Climate change is a profound challenge in Africa and a great challenge of our time, amplifying existing social, political and economic inequalities,” Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth group of former British colonies, said to the meeting. The African climate week comes as the continent reels by several extreme weather events such as drought in East Africa and the Horn of Africa, sandstorms and extreme heat in West Africa’s Sahel region, and destructive flash floods, storm surges including cyclones in central, western and southern Africa. AP

African Leaders Call for a “Privileged Partnership” with Europe
Tunisian Prime Minister and Benin President are praising the qualities of their countries to encourage French CEOs, gathered at the national confederation of French employers’ annual meeting in Paris, to invest in Africa. Najla Bouden, Tunisian Prime Minister, called for more investment during her speech at the Meeting “Europe would benefit from betting on Africa now through ESG (environmental, social and governance criteria, Eds.) which are attracting more and more international liquidity, especially since the pandemic, with 26 billion dollars dedicated to renewable energy alone in 2021. But also, Europe would benefit from focusing on project financing in a PPP (public-private partnership, Eds.) format that facilitates economic diversification and supports the continent’s priorities.” Beninese President Patrice Talon, a former company director himself, took the opportunity to praise Benin’s development model and assets for foreign investors. AfricaNews with AFP

Madagascar Police Shooting Leaves 19 Dead, Police Say
Madagascar police killed 19 people and injured 21 when they opened fire on Monday on a crowd trying to storm a police station to seek revenge against suspected criminals, police said on Tuesday. The shooting took place in the town of Ikongo, about 330 km (205 miles) southeast of the capital Antananarivo, and security forces have sent reinforcements to restore order in the area, according to a police statement. The trouble started when a crowd attempted to break into the police station to get hold of four people who were being detained on suspicion of kidnapping an albino child and murdering his mother, according to the police. The child has not been found. In some African countries, albino children are sometimes abducted by people who believe they can be used for ritual purposes, though in this case there was no information about the motive of the alleged abduction. Reuters

Hundreds of Burkina Faso Imams Denounce Religious and Ethnic Intolerance
A group of 700 Muslim Imams and preachers in Burkina Faso on Monday (28 August) denounced “religious and ethnic intolerance,“ in response to calls for the killing of members of the Fulani community in the country, which is plagued by jihadist violence. “We, Burkinabe, are playing a pernicious self-destructive role (…) by spreading messages inciting religious and ethnic intolerance which can be a source of extremely violent confrontations,” said a statement by Moussa Kouanda, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of Burkina (FAIB), issued at the end of a seminar that brought together more than 700 imams and preachers in Ouagadougou…FAIB’s statement comes after calls for hatred and murder of the Fulani in Burkina Faso, who have been likened to the armed jihadist groups that have been bloodying the country since 2015 and whose members are from the Fulani community. Calls launched on social networks have raised fears of an outbreak of violence that could go as far as civil war and which have led the government to condemn them firmly. North Africa Post

Nigerian Court Rejects Request to Extradite Top Cop to US
A Nigerian court has rejected a request to extradite a suspended police officer to the United States after he was implicated by a social media celebrity in a fraud case. Deputy police commissioner Abba Kyari was suspended after he was implicated in the case of Nigerian social media influencer Ramon Abbas, known as Hushpuppi, who pleaded guilty to money laundering and other crimes in the United States. On Monday, a federal court sitting in Abuja dismissed an extradition request filed by Nigeria’s Attorney-General Abubakar Malami after Kyari’s indictment in the US. Judge Inyang Ekwo dismissed the application on Monday, calling it “strange, incompetent and bereft of merit.” Al Jazeera

Charters, Agreements, Conferences… Quest to Unite Sudan’s Opposition Continues
Sudan’s opposition has witnessed various calls and initiatives to overcome divisions and form a united front against the military junta that took power in the October 25 military coup. The resistance committees are working on unifying two charters, but the Forcer for Freedom and Change-Central Council refused to merge theirs. Sudan’s opposition forces have repeatedly called for more unity in the past months to overthrow the military junta and create more peace and stability in Sudan amidst a political landscape that continues to be divided.  The joint technical committee for the unification of the political charters of the resistance committees in Sudan called on the Sudanese people and all the resistance committees in the country to stand united around the democratic unity of the resistance committees and their political charters and “to participate in the making of the present and future of Sudan.” In a statement on Friday, the joint committee called on the people to actively participate in the discussions that will be organised by the resistance committees, whose members are active in neighbourhoods and villages in Sudan. Dabanga

Two Ethnic Revolts Rack Ethiopia at the Same Time
After a brief stalemate, the civil war in Ethiopia may be poised to get even bloodier. A humanitarian truce to let food be brought to the besieged region of Tigray was broken on August 24th, raising fears of a return to all-out war in the north (see map). At the same time, rebellions around the western and southern edges of Ethiopia threaten to fragment the entire country. In particular, the Oromo Liberation Army (ola), a rebel group which says it is fighting for the self-determination of Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, has been weakening the grip of the federal government which sits in Addis Ababa, the capital…Abiy plays down fears of Ethiopia’s fragmentation. Historically the central government often had little control of the country’s periphery, he recently told some of his top brass. In days of yore there were no social media to criticise the government, he added. Moreover, predictions of Ethiopia’s break-up had always proved false. Economist

From Bus Routes to Gutters, Tech-Savvy Youth Map Mali’s Capital
Under a blazing sun in Mali’s capital, Amadou Menta leaned over to measure a gutter and then jotted down the results on a mapping app on his smartphone. “We’re collecting data,” said the 27-year-old geography student, helping to chart the roadside drains of central Bamako with two friends. Until recently Mali’s capital was largely uncharted on the web. With street names or fixed public transport routes often missing in the city of some two million, people tend to ask for directions to find their way. But the lack of maps is a major obstacle to developing its infrastructure — whether to prevent traffic jams, collect wastewater and rubbish, or prevent flooding. Tech-savvy young Malians are striving to change this, cataloging the city’s features in the hope it will improve the lives of its residents. Armed with smartphones, dozens of volunteers have been collecting data for the local branch of OpenStreetMap, a free, online geographic database — which is then used by sites including Google Maps. AfricaNews



Photo: Adam Jones