Africa Media Review for August 4, 2023

ECOWAS Team Leaves Niger without Meeting Junta Leader as Bazoum Calls for US Help
[…] The European Union on Friday “strongly” condemned the blocking of French media broadcasts in Niger, where last week’s coup sparked protests against the country’s former colonial ruler. “This step is a serious violation of the right to information and freedom of expression. The EU strongly condemns these violations of fundamental freedoms,” EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said on Twitter, recently rebranded as X. … A team from the West African regional bloc ECOWAS left Niger without meeting the leader of the junta that seized power in a coup last Sunday, a delegation member said Friday. The Economic Community of West African States delegation arrived in the Niger capital Niamey on Thursday “but did not spend the night” as scheduled, nor met with coup leader General Abdourahamane Tiani or deposed President Mohamed Bazoum, the team member said. … Elected Niger President Mohamed Bazoum said Thursday that if a coup attempt to depose him is successful, “it will have devastating consequences for our country, our region and the entire world.” In a column in The Washington Post, Bazoum called on “the US government and the entire international community to help us restore our constitutional order.” … “I write this as a hostage,” Bazoum wrote. “Niger is under attack from a military junta… and I am just one of hundreds of citizens who have been arbitrarily and illegally imprisoned.” … He warned that Niger’s neighbors have increasingly invited in “criminal Russian mercenaries such as the Wagner Group at the expense of their people’s rights and dignity.” … Niger’s junta on Thursday said it was scrapping military pacts made between Niamey and France, following last week’s coup. France24

Niger Coup Leaders Blamed Insecurity; Conflict Data Paints a Different Picture
When Niger’s coup leader Abdourahmane Tiani announced the overthrow of President Mohamed Bazoum on television last week, he cited persistent insecurity as justification. But an analysis of data on attacks and casualties in the country, where an Islamist insurgency has raged, shows that security was actually improving thanks to tactics used by Bazoum’s government and help from French and U.S. forces. Those tactics and that support are in jeopardy now. Meanwhile, coups can stoke insecurity. Violence has soared in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso since their militaries took power promising peace and shunning former Western allies, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), a U.S.-based crisis-monitoring group. Security analysts warn that the disarray in Niger could allow groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State to expand their reach across West Africa’s Sahel region, where they have already killed thousands and forced millions to flee. It could also hobble economic development and democratic progress in one of the world’s poorest areas. “The coup is good news for jihadist groups,” said Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank. “The support of international forces, the stability in the capital city, all those things are now gone. It is likely that things will go bad.” Reuters

With Spoiling Goods, Niger Truckers Feel Early Sting of Coup Sanctions
Nigerien driver Amadou Mounkaila was en route to deliver a truckload of onions to Ghana when last week’s military coup forced him to do a U-turn and return to the capital Niamey as borders slammed closed. Now he is among scores of drivers stranded in limbo with perishable products – a result of the stiff sanctions imposed by Niger’s regional and international partners after the military takeover. “The consequences are disastrous … If left on the truck, the onions have at most a week before they rot,” said Mounkaila on Wednesday at a depot on the outskirts of Niamey, where drivers were huddled discussing what to do with their cargoes. The closure of borders by the Economic Community of West African States poses a special threat to landlocked and impoverished Niger. Amid a worsening food crisis, the majority of key imports – including rice – would normally be trucked from neighbouring countries. … Up to 1,000 vehicles a day – many carrying goods to markets – would normally travel the trade corridor between the port of Cotonou in Benin and Niamey, making it one of the busiest crossings in West Africa, according to U.S. government data. Reuters

Senegal to Commit Troops to ECOWAS Intervention in Niger (Minister)
For the time being, ECOWAS favours peaceful dialogue as a way out of the political crisis in Niger. However, Senegal says it will send troops to Niger if the Economic Community of West African States decides to use force to restore constitutional order. At the Senegalese government’s traditional one-on-one meeting with journalists on Thursday, August 3, Foreign Minister Aissata Tall Sall said Senegal would go for two reasons. “The first is that we are part of a community organisation that has decided to do so, and Senegal is a member of ECOWAS,” the head of Senegal’s diplomacy explained, adding that the country “cannot evade the decisions” of the community institution. “The second reason is that Senegal is convinced that these coups must be stopped,” the minister added. … “Why now and not in Mali, Guinea or Burkina? Because this is one coup too many,” replied the Senegalese Foreign Minister coolly, adding that by being more lenient with the Malian, Guinean and Burkinabe juntas, “ECOWAS wanted to test its patience and its mechanism to the end by negotiating transitions.” But, according to the minister, the juntas in these countries have not achieved the objectives for which they claimed to have seized power. APA

Cameroon Says Military Deployed after New Militant Attack Kills at Least a Dozen
Cameroon said Thursday that at least 12 people have been killed in new attacks by Boko Haram in Darak, a fishing island on Cameroon’s northern border with Chad and Nigeria. Military officials say troops have been deployed to stop more incursions and attacks by the Nigeria-based insurgent group. Regional officials say the 12 corpses were discovered by civilians. Government troops say civilians have escaped to safer locations on the island. The military says ongoing sporadic attacks make it difficult to establish a total number of casualties. … The government said heavily armed militants arrived in Darak on Monday on motorboats through the vast Lake Chad. Eight of the 12 corpses already found have been identified as fishers in the lake, the government said. Civilians say at least three villages on the island have been attacked in the previous 48 hours, with attackers shooting indiscriminately, and looting. Military officials in northern Cameroon say troops have been deployed to stop the incursion. VOA

Armed Men in Central African Republic Fatally Shoot 13 and Wound 2 in Northern Village
Armed men killed 13 people and wounded two in a northern village in the mineral-rich but impoverished Central African Republic, local officials said Wednesday. Ousmane Youssef, a tribal chief in the village of Diki near the country’s border with Chad, said a group of armed men entered the community Tuesday and called a meeting with local residents and leaders, before shooting them point-blank. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but in March, the U.N. condemned an attack on another northern town by a rebel group called the Coalition of Patriots for Change. … The tragedy in Diki comes days after CAR held a national referendum that could see the adoption of a new constitution that strengthens executive powers and allows current President Faustin-Archange Touadéra to run for a third term. Rebel groups, including the CPC, have boycotted the referendum and threatened violence against voters across the country. AP

RSF Accused of Over 500 Cases of Enforced Disappearance in Sudan
The Public Prosecution in Sudan has been actively investigating over 500 cases of enforced disappearance and sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) since the outbreak of the conflict. According to reliable sources who spoke to Sudan Tribune, the Public Prosecution has filed criminal cases concerning violations of enforced disappearance and sexual assault against women and girls. During early May, the prosecution documented over 500 cases of missing persons, which included instances of enforced disappearance, along with more than 20 cases of sexual assault in various cities within Gezira state and other regions. The paramilitary force members have been under severe scrutiny for alleged war crimes and human rights violations throughout the course of the war. The accusations range from kidnappings to mass sexual violence and the unlawful occupation of homes and health facilities. … Sources close to the investigations have confirmed to Sudan Tribune that the RSF is implicated in all the cases currently under scrutiny. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwe Elections Neither Free Nor Fair, Says HRW
An upcoming nationwide ballot in Zimbabwe will be held under a “seriously flawed electoral process” that does not meet global standards for freedom and fairness, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday. The southern African country heads to the polls on August 23 to elect the president and legislature in what analysts expect to be a tense affair, marked by a crackdown and fears of rigging. “Zimbabwe’s authorities have yet again demonstrated a lack of respect for the basic freedoms necessary for a credible, free, and fair election,” said HRW’s senior Africa researcher, Idriss Ali Nassah. The US-based rights group said the authorities had adopted repressive laws to muffle dissent and used intimidation and violence against the opposition. The courts have been “weaponised” to target opposition politicians, while the election overseers lack impartiality, the group said in a report based on interviews with activists and politicians. Guardian/AFP

Zim Elections: Opposition Supporter Killed in Attack, Allegedly by Zanu-PF Activists
A Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporter died during skirmishes with suspected Zanu-PF supporters in Glen Norah, Harare, as tempers flared ahead of general elections in Zimbabwe. The supporter, identified as Tinashe Chitsunge, died after a group of CCC youths were ambushed in a truck on their way to a party rally in Glen View 7 township. Party spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere shared a video on her Twitter feed, which was filmed by CCC supporters, of the events leading to Chitsunge’s death. In the video, the suspected Zanu-PF supporters, including children, are shown following the truck and throwing stones. … According to the Zimbabwe Peace Project, a CCC aspiring councillor, Womberaishe Nhende, was injured in the same incident. News24

Ethiopia Declares ‘State of Emergency’ over Amhara Violence
Ethiopia’s Federal Government on Friday declared a “state of emergency” as violent clashes escalate between the national army and local fighters from the northern region of Amhara. “It has become necessary to declare a state of emergency as a situation has emerged where it has become difficult to control this unacceptable movement under current law,” the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said in a statement posted on social media. The statement did not make clear if the state of emergency applied nationwide or just to Amhara, which lies to the north of the capital Addis Ababa. Abiy’s government did not reply immediately to questions from AFP. Clashes in Amhara between the national army and local fighters have escalated in recent weeks, prompting travel warnings from foreign governments and the cancellation of flights by the national carrier Ethiopian Airlines. East African/AFP

Sierra Leone’s Bio Calls for Dialogue after Divisive Polls
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has called for “unity” and “dialogue” to overcome deep divisions over the June 24 disputed elections, at the official opening of the new National Assembly boycotted by the government. “In this Parliament where no party has reached a two-thirds majority, the need for dialogue and negotiation resounds with the utmost urgency. We must find common ground across political divides,” said the president re-elected at the end of June, in the first round, for a second term. The opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) decided “on its non-participation at any level of governance, including the legislature and local councils, judging the results of the presidential, legislative and local elections ” rigged” for the benefit of President Bio and his party. Only one of the 54 opposition deputies was in the hemicycle on Thursday morning. … In addition to “statistical inconsistencies”, international observers condemned the “lack of transparency” in the vote count after the June elections. AfricaNews/AFP

Global Supply Shocks Fuel New Food Crisis in Kenya
Global supply shocks have increased the prices of Kenya’s critical staples, including rice, wheat, maize, sugar and onions, fomenting a new food crisis in the country. Protectionist decisions in India and Eastern Europe to lock stocks of food within their borders are likely to disrupt the supply of rice and wheat into Kenya, even as poor weather hinders the supply of onions from neighbouring Tanzania. Wheat prices are also likely to come under pressure after Russia, which is at war with Ukraine, recently pulled out of an agreement which allowed the export of Ukrainian agricultural goods via a safe channel through the Black Sea, putting Africa’s food security at risk. Russia also destroyed critical storage infrastructure in Ukraine in a bomb attack, triggering supply disruption fears, which is driving up prices. Business Daily

Japan, Ethiopia to Work on Black Sea Grain Deal Resumption
Japan’s foreign minister, following a one-on-one meeting Thursday with Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister, expressed hope their two nations would work together on the resumption of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, making his first visit to Ethiopia, said he shared concerns about the impact of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on food security in Africa. following a one-on-one meeting with Ethiopia’s Demeke Mekonnen. “Japan deplores the termination of the Black Sea Grain Initiative by Russia, and Japan hopes to work together with Ethiopia towards the resumption of the initiative,” Hayashi said. Since the start of the Black Sea grain deal, which took effect in July 2022, the United Nations has overseen the export of more than 262 metric tons of wheat to Ethiopia. … The Japanese foreign minister’s stop in Ethiopia wrapped up a six-nation tour of Southwest Asia and Africa. VOA

Tunisian Minister Concedes ‘Small Groups’ of Migrants Were Pushed Back into Desert No Man’s Land
Tunisia’s interior minister conceded that small groups of sub-Saharan migrants trying to enter the country are pushed back into the desert border areas with Libya and Algeria, but labeled as “false allegations” claims by the U.N., humanitarian groups and migrants themselves of mistreatment. In an interview with The Associated Press Wednesday, Kamel Fekih said that while there is no “collective” expulsion of migrants, small groups trying to enter Tunisia are pushed back into the desert no man’s land. However, he disputed remarks earlier this week by the deputy spokesman for the U.N. Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, who called on Tuesday for an “immediate end” to “the expulsion of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from Tunisia to the borders with Libya and also Algeria.” … But he did say that “there are just little groups of 6 to 12 people who are pushed back” because they don’t have papers. He said that three bodies of migrants had been found in the desert frontiers between Libya and Algeria, to the north, but added the dead were found outside Tunisian territory. AP

Dozens Injured after Protesters Storm Eritrean Festival in Stockholm
More than 50 people have been injured and dozens detained in Stockholm after opponents of the Eritrean government stormed an event in the Swedish capital organised by regime supporters. About 1,000 anti-government demonstrators who had been authorised to hold a protest nearby broke through a police barrier, tearing down festival tents and setting booths and vehicles on fire. “Another public gathering took place close to the festival site, during which a violent riot broke out,” police said, adding in a statement they had detained “around a hundred people”. … Sweden is home to tens of thousands of people with Eritrean roots. The festival devoted to the cultural heritage of Eritrea is an annual event that has been held since the 1990s, but it has been criticised for allegedly serving as a promotional tool and source of money for the African nation’s government, according to Swedish media. “This is not a festival, they are teaching their children hate speech,” protester Michael Kobrab told Swedish broadcaster TV4. The Guardian

Chance Discovery Helps Fight against Malaria
Scientists have found a naturally occurring strain of bacteria which can help stop the transmission of malaria from mosquitoes to humans. They found it by chance, after a colony of mosquitoes in one experiment did not develop the malaria parasite. The researchers say the bacteria could be a new tool for fighting one of the world’s oldest diseases, which kills 600,000 people every year. Trials assessing its safety in the real world are now taking place. Scientists at a research facility in Spain, run by the GSK pharmaceutical company, made the discovery after noticing that a colony of mosquitoes being used for drug development had stopped carrying malaria. “The infection rate in the mosquitoes started dwindling and so by the end of the year the mosquitoes just would not be infected with the malaria parasite,” says Dr Janneth Rodrigues, who led the programme. … Further studies revealed that a specific strain of bacteria – TC1 – which is naturally present in the environment, had stopped the development of the malaria parasites in the gut of the mosquitoes. “Once it colonises the mosquito, it lasts for the entire lifespan,” says Dr Rodrigues. BBC

Women’s World Cup 2023: Fixtures and Match Schedule for Round of 16
The 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is set to enter the Round of 16. The football tournament’s first knock-out phase will commence on August 5 and conclude on August 8. Check out the schedule below for the eight matches that will see 16 teams battling it out to proceed to the next round. … August 6: The Netherlands vs South Africa, 02:00 GMT … South Africa finished second in Group G with four points. They lost 2-1 to Sweden in their opener but drew with Argentina 2-2 before a dramatic 3-2 victory over Italy saw them through. … August 7: England vs Nigeria, 07:30 GMT … Nigeria finished second in Group B with five points. They followed their 0-0 draw against Canada with a 3-2 win over Australia and another goalless draw with Ireland. … August 8: France vs Morocco, 11:00 GMT … Morocco finished second in Group H with six points. The debutants overcame a 6-0 thrashing by Germany with historic 1-0 wins over South Korea and Colombia, respectively. Al Jazeera