Africa Media Review for December 1, 2021

Tens of Thousands Protest in Anti-Military Marches in Sudan
Security forces fired tear gas at anti-coup protesters in the Sudanese capital on Tuesday, as tens of thousands marched in the latest demonstrations against a military takeover that took place last month. Protesters took to the streets in Khartoum and other cities around the country to demand that the armed forces stay out of government. Deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was reinstated earlier this month under military oversight in a deal that many in the pro-democracy movement oppose. Since the generals seized power on Oct. 25 and rounded up more than 100 civilian government figures, protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets. … Sudanese security forces have cracked down on the rallies and have killed some 43 protesters so far, according the Sudan Doctors’ Committee, which tracks protester deaths. … Hamdok’s reinstatement was the biggest concession made by the military since the coup but leaves the country’s transition to democracy mired in crisis. For years he has been the civilian face of the government and one of the pro-democracy movement’s most respected figures. But Sudan’s key pro-democracy groups and political parties have said the deal that reinstalled him falls short of their demands for full civilian rule. AP

Will Gambia’s Ousted Dictator Influence Its Election?
On Saturday, Africa’s smallest nation, Gambia, holds its first presidential election since it ousted longtime authoritarian leader Yahya Jammeh. Jammeh’s 22-year oppressive reign ended when he was forced from office by the Economic Community of West African States after refusing to step down following defeat in the 2016 election. That historic intervention was seen as a shining example of democracy prevailing. This week’s election will be a litmus test for Gambia’s democratic transition, said Amat Jeng, a Gambian academic at Uppsala University in Sweden. Gambia has never had a transition of this nature. Gambia’s first president since its 1965 independence was overthrown in a military coup led by Jammeh in 1994. Yet despite being exiled to Equatorial Guinea in January 2017, Jammeh continues to influence Gambian politics from afar. FP

Nigeria Has Detected the Omicron Coronavirus Variant in an October Sample.
Nigeria’s public health institute said on Wednesday that it had detected the Omicron coronavirus variant in a test sample collected in October, weeks before the variant was first reported by researchers in South Africa. The announcement expands the window of time during which Omicron is known to have been circulating before the World Health Organization labeled it a “variant of concern” last Friday, which prompted a wave of border closures and travel restrictions aimed primarily at southern Africa. As of Tuesday, the first known sample of the Omicron variant had been collected on Nov. 9 in South Africa, according to Gisaid, an international database for virus variants. The announcement from Nigeria, in western Africa, again highlighted that scientists still cannot say with certainty where or when the variant originated. In addition, Nigeria identified the variant in at least two travelers who arrived from South Africa in the last week, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the director general for the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, said in a statement. Retrospective sequencing of previously confirmed cases, he said, had also spotted the new variant in a sample collected last month. The New York Times

Rockets Fired as Ethiopia, Sudan Border Clash Escalates
The Sudanese military has again accused Ethiopian forces of threatening its soldiers and civilians near a tense disputed border section as a decades-long tiff between them threatens to escalate. Sudanese army officials said they responded by firing rockets into Ethiopian territory in the early hours of Tuesday. While Ethiopia denied that it launched an attack on the border, it blamed the dispute on rebels from the Tigray region. The Sudanese military’s official statement said that its forces advanced towards Saqi’ah, east of Barkat Noreen, to “clear the area of some pockets of threats and ambushes of the Ethiopian forces, in order to secure the harvest season from any sudden attacks.” On Sunday, the Sudanese army announced in a statement that six of its members had been killed and more than 30 wounded in an attack in the fertile agricultural area of Al-Fashqa that it attributed to armed groups and militias linked to the Ethiopian army. Nation

Rebel Attacks Kill Dozens in Central African Republic
Rebel attacks in the northwest of the Central African Republic at the weekend claimed at least 30 civilian lives and those of two soldiers, local officials said Tuesday. Simultaneous attacks on Sunday hit the villages of Kaita and Bayengou, near the border with Cameroon some 500 kilometres (300 miles) north of the capital Bangui, said regional administrator Esaie Gbanin, whose death toll was confirmed by a humanitarian source. Many residents have fled to Cameroon, Gbanin added. Gbanin blamed Sunday’s attacks on elements of the 3R (Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation) rebels. The 3R, which is mainly composed of fighters from the Fulani ethnic group, is one of the most powerful armed groups in the country. At the end of December 2020, they joined in the rebel coalition that sought to overthrow President Faustin Archange Touadera and prevent his re-election. … The European Commission on Tuesday said the presence of Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group could lead the EU to halt its military training mission in the Central African Republic. AFP

China Calls on Citizens to Leave Eastern Congo after Attacks
China on Wednesday urged its citizens to leave three provinces in eastern Congo as violence intensifies in the mineral-rich region. A posting from the Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa on the WeChat online messaging said a number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, where several anti-government rebel groups have a presence. It said Chinese residing in the three provinces should provide their personal details by Dec. 10 and make plans to leave for safer parts of Congo. … Several armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly vie for control of eastern Congo’s natural resources. Despite the danger, Chinese businesses have moved into Congo and other unstable African states in a quest for cobalt and other rare minerals and resources. Chinese workers have also been subject to kidnappings and attacks in Pakistan and other countries with active insurgencies. Security was a key topic at a meeting Monday in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, on Monday, between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Congolese counterpart Christophe Lutundula, according to China’s Xinhua News Agency. AP

Hunt for the ‘Blood Diamond of Batteries’ Impedes Green Energy Push
A man in a pinstripe suit with a red pocket square walked around the edge of a giant pit one April afternoon where hundreds of workers often toil in flip-flops, burrowing deep into the ground with shovels and pickaxes. His polished leather shoes crunched on dust the miners had spilled from nylon bags stuffed with cobalt-laden rocks. The man, Albert Yuma Mulimbi, is a longtime power broker in the Democratic Republic of Congo and chairman of a government agency that works with international mining companies to tap the nation’s copper and cobalt reserves, used in the fight against global warming. Mr. Yuma’s professed goal is to turn Congo into a reliable supplier of cobalt, a critical metal in electric vehicles, and shed its anything-goes reputation for tolerating an underworld where children are put to work and unskilled and ill-equipped diggers of all ages get injured or killed. … But to many in Congo and the United States, Mr. Yuma himself is a problem. As chairman of Gécamines, Congo’s state-owned mining enterprise, he has been accused of helping to divert billions of dollars in revenues, according to confidential State Department legal filings reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with a dozen current and former officials in both countries. The New York Times

Farmaajo Tours Qatar as Election Programme Falls Short
Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo has visited strong ally Qatar even as the election programme back home faces another possible stall. Farmaajo flew to Doha on Monday, accompanied by First Lady Zeinab Abdi Moalim, the new Foreign Minister Abdisaid Muse Ali and Sports Minister Hamza Said Hamza, alongside the chairman of Somalia’s Football Federation, Abdigani Said Arab. He met with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, with whom he enjoys close ties as Doha has become one of Somalia’s biggest donors. Farmaajo said talks had focused on “strengthening brotherly relations and bilateral cooperation between our two countries in a way that enhances strong ties and fruitful cooperation.” But if the trip was about boosting his ties, it may also have offered a temporary escape out of simmering chaos in local politics. The country was supposed to be conducting indirect elections for the Lower House, part of a bicameral Parliament that also includes the Senate, and which together sit to vote for the next President. His rivals, under the caucus of the Council of Presidential Candidates, announced they were pulling out of the parliamentary elections, which they said had been rigged. Nation

West Africa Tour: Ramaphosa Wants Deals Signed, Intra-Africa Trade
“We want to sign deals.” This is what President Cyril Ramaphosa expects from his seven-day West Africa tour, beginning in Nigeria on Tuesday. The president landed in Abuja on Tuesday evening to a warm reception. Accompanied by various ministers, Ramaphosa said he wanted to see the opening up of trade and investment on the continent. “We want those countries investing in South Africa so it is not a one-way process where South African companies invest in their countries,” the president added as he departed Johannesburg. On this trip, he will visit Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal. “It is a mixed journey; political, diplomatic, economic, trade and this is going to be beneficial to our country all around,” Ramaphosa said. At the same time, his ministers are expected to conclude five new agreements and memoranda of understanding with the Nigerian government. “We want to increase confidence in our own companies operating in those countries. We have a number of companies operating in Nigeria and Ghana and we want to see more and more of that happening in Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire,” Ramaphosa said. News24

Conservationists Flew 30 White Rhinos to Rwanda in a Huge Operation to Protect Them
Conservationists flew 30 white rhinos from South Africa to Rwanda last week in what they say is the largest single rhino translocation ever. The roughly 2,000-mile journey took the rhinos to their new home in Akagera National Park, where advocates hope the animals will be able to establish a new breeding stronghold and evade the rampant poaching that’s put their species in danger. “Introductions to safe, intact wild landscapes are vital for the future of vulnerable species like white rhino, which are under considerable human-induced pressures,” Peter Fearnhead, CEO of the non-profit conservation organization African Parks, said in a statement. White rhinos are considered “near threatened” by the World Wildlife Fund, which estimates there are about 18,000 of them in existence in protected areas and private game reserves. Officials say the decline in their population is largely attributable to poaching and the demand for rhino horns. Each of the 30 rhinos that arrived in Rwanda on Saturday was fitted with a tracking transmitter for constant monitoring. Authorities have also deployed an anti-poaching canine unit and helicopter surveillance to protect the new arrivals. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones