Africa Media Review for December 10, 2020

Ghana President Re-Elected for 2nd Term in Tight Race
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has been re-elected for a second term after a tightly contested election, Ghana’s election commission said Wednesday. Akufo-Addo of the governing New Patriotic Party won Monday’s election outright with 51.6% of the votes, beating former President John Dramani Mahama of the main opposition National Democratic Congress, who received 47.4%, the commission said. More than 13.4 million people voted at more than 38,600 polling stations, making the turnout about 79%, Electoral Commission chief Jean Mensa said of the election, which has tested the West African nation’s credentials as one of the continent’s most politically stable countries. … Earlier Wednesday police said at least five people had been killed and at least a dozen injured in violence related to the presidential and legislative elections. Twenty-one violent outbreaks have been identified as election-related across the country, Ghana’s Police Service said Wednesday. It urged calm. AP

UN: Ethiopia’s Conflict Has ‘Appalling’ Impact on Civilians
Ethiopia’s situation is “spiraling out of control with appalling impact on civilians” and urgently needs outside monitoring, the United Nations human rights chief warned Wednesday. But Ethiopia is rejecting calls for independent investigations into the deadly fighting in its Tigray region. … And the U.N. secretary-general announced a new agreement with Ethiopia on badly needed humanitarian aid, a day after Ethiopia said its forces had shot at U.N. staffers doing their first assessment in Tigray. Antonio Guterres said joint assessments will occur “to make sure that there is full access to the whole of the (Tigray) territory and full capacity to start humanitarian operations.” … There are growing calls for more transparency into the month-long fighting between Ethiopian forces and those of the fugitive Tigray regional government that is thought to have killed thousands, including civilians. AP

Fleeing Ethiopians Tell of Ethnic Massacres in Tigray War
The armed men who stopped Ashenafi Hailu along the dirt road dragged him by a noose so they could save bullets. Mr. Ashenafi, 24, was racing on his motorcycle to the aid of a childhood friend trapped by the Ethiopian government’s military offensive in the northern region of Tigray when a group of men on foot confronted him. They identified themselves as militia members of a rival ethnic group, he said, and they took his cash and began beating him, laughing ominously. “Finish him!” Mr. Ashenafi remembered one of the men saying. … Mr. Ashenafi and dozens of other Tigrayan refugees fled the violence and settled outside the remote and dusty town of Hamdayet, a community of just a few thousand people near the border, where I spoke to them. Their firsthand accounts, shared a month after Ethiopia’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, declared war on the Tigray region, detail a devastating conflict that has become a grisly wellspring of looting, ethnic antagonism and killings. The New York Times

South Africa Sees Sharp Rise in Virus, Part of African Wave
South Africa is seeing a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases and bracing for increased hospitalizations and deaths, said the country’s health minister Zweli Mkhize. “It is important for us to recognize that this now is a second wave,” said Mkhize in a statement. “There is going to be exponential growth. This means we must expect faster-rising numbers with a higher peak, possibly, than the first wave.” South Africa’s new wave is likely to spike so quickly that it could overwhelm hospital capacities in some regions, he warned. South Africa’s surge highlights that a new wave of the disease is sweeping across Africa, John Nkengasong, the head of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday. South Africa recorded 6,700 new cases on Wednesday night, the country’s highest number of new cases since August. AP

Fund COVAX to Reduce COVID Vaccination Distribution Inequity – UN Chief
The COVAX international vaccine initiative requires $4.2 billion over the next two months to ensure that “sooner rather than later,” World Health Organization (WHO)-approved inoculation can get underway in Africa, UN chief António Guterres said. While expressing his “hope that we will be able to do it before the second quarter,” he acknowledged that several countries have made “an enormous effort” to ensure vaccinations for their own populations while at the same time, the COVAX financing requirements have yet to be fully met. During the UN-AU meeting, the UN chief observed that the partnership “has never been stronger” and expressed encouragement over the presidential support of Niger, Tunisia and Somalia as well as the Security Council. … Against the backdrop of terrorist and violent extremist groups exploiting the instability and vulnerabilities heightened by the pandemic, particularly in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, the UN chief pointed out that “we are facing new conflicts.” UN News

Cameroon Opposition Leader’s de Facto House Arrest Ends
Hundreds of supporters of Cameroon opposition leader Maurice Kamto have gathered at his home after his months-long de facto house arrest suddenly ended. Heavily armed police stationed at his home since September 22 left on Tuesday, but authorities are giving no explanation. … Christopher Ndong is secretary general of Kamto’s Cameroon Renaissance Movement party. He says the opposition leader is in good health and will be addressing his supporters at what he calls an appropriate moment. Ndong called on the government to release some 130 Kamto supporters and party officials who were among hundreds arrested in September for rebellion and illegal assembly. “We are looking forward for them (government) to release the leaders of the executive (CRM party) organs and many others,” said Ndong. “We will make this government to know that there should be meaningful and true democracy. VOA

S. Sudan’s Presidency Okays Completion of Unity Government
Representatives of South Sudan’s parties to the 2018 revitalized peace agreement have agreed to end the prolonged stalemate on formation of states governments and reconstitution of the National Legislative Assembly. A meeting convened by President Salva Kiir on Wednesday in Juba agreed to a complete formation of unity government. It was attended by First Vice President Riek Machar, the other four vice presidents, Presidential National Security advisor, acting Presidential Affairs Minister and Cabinet Minister. … However, another critical task impeding the full formation of the unity government is the training and unification of the necessary forces to safeguard the 2018 revitalized peace agreement. The forces cantoned in various training sites across the country are awaiting graduation and deployment. But the Joint Defense Board—the body tasked with implementing security arrangements in the peace deal—said it is constrained by a lack of funds. The EastAfrican

UN-African Union Envoy Says Mistrust Deep in Sudan’s Darfur
The joint U.N.-African Union envoy for Darfur cautioned on Wednesday that mistrust still runs deep in Sudan’s troubled region and urged the transitional government in Khartoum to embark on the “huge task” of gaining the trust of the local people. Jeremiah Mamabolo’s remarks came as U.N. Security Council members remained divided on the timing to end the mandate of the joint mission, known as UNAMID. The people of Darfur “have been betrayed … A lot of crimes and injustice have been committed against them, so they feel insecure,” Mamabolo told The Associated Press. “It’s a delicate situation.” … While the major fighting in Darfur has stopped, sporadic intercommunal clashes in the region have increased this year, Mamabolo said. Hundreds of protesters, mostly displaced children and women, have set up a sit-in camp outside mission headquarters in South Darfur province to protest the looming end of UNAMID, with banners reading: “No for UNAMID exit from Darfur.” AP

Egypt: IS Steps up Sinai Fight with Bombs in Civilian Homes
Residents of Egypt’s restive North Sinai region ran for their lives when an Islamic State group affiliate occupied their villages. Now, they are returning to find their homes booby-trapped. “I lost my sister-in-law and her nine-month-old baby when an explosive device planted in their home went off,” said a young resident of Aqtiya village, who asked not to be named for fear of repercussions. Around 15 people have been killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) since mid-October in villages around Bir al-Abd, in the northwest of the troubled province, say Egyptian security sources. The IED attacks — that have multiplied in the vast, remote, and sparsely populated region which authorities have declared off-limits to journalists — recall those the IS launched to sow terror in Iraq and Syria. The Defense Post with AFP

10 Nigerian Troops Killed in Clashes with ISWAP Jihadists: Sources
Ten Nigerian troops were killed and one was taken hostage in clashes with IS-linked jihadists in northeast Nigerian Borno state, according to two security sources. Clashes erupted on Monday when a team of soldiers stormed a camp of Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Alagarno village in Damboa district. “We lost 10 soldiers in the fight and one was taken by the terrorists,” a security source told AFP on Tuesday. The hostage was seized while fleeing to safety after the troops were outgunned, he said. … The insurgents seized four vehicles, including a truck and an armored vehicle, the second source said. … Alagarno, which lies 150 kilometers (90 miles) from regional capital Maiduguri, is a stronghold of ISWAP, which split from the Boko Haram jihadist group in 2016 and rose to become a dominant force. ISWAP has increasingly been attacking civilians, killing and abducting people on highways as well as raiding villages for food supplies. The Defense Post with AFP

Premium Times Journalist, Seven Others Shine at Nigeria Investigative Journalism Awards
A Premium Times journalist, Taiwo-Hassan Adebayo, and seven others were honoured for their works at the 15th award ceremony of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) in Lagos on Wednesday. The centre annually honours journalists who use investigative stories to amplify the voice of the most vulnerable in Nigeria. Only eight journalists got awards on Wednesday, picked from 188 entries. Premium Times, Punch and The Sun Newspapers also received awards for the best investigative media of the year. Mr Adebayo was runner-up in the online category for his report, “From Jonathan to Buhari, Inside Nigeria’s multi-billion naira railway fraud.” Presenting the awards under the theme, “Masked but not silenced,” the centre noted that the challenges that masked journalism, especially in the COVID-19 era, could not silence journalists and media organisations. Premium Times

In the Wake of Tumultuous #Endsars Demonstrations, Nigerian Photographers Tell a Story of Strength and Hope
In October, the world watched as waves of protesters took to the streets in cities and towns across Nigeria, calling for the disbandment of the country’s controversial Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and an end to police brutality. Powerful photos of these demonstrations filled social media feeds, creating a visual archive in real time of this pivotal moment in history. The pictures, taken by amateur and professional photographers, documented unprecedented levels of peaceful activism as well as disturbing scenes of police violence at a number of the events. Some seven weeks after one particularly bloody incident on October 20, when police forces fired fatal shots at a group of protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate, on Nigeria’s biggest city Lagos, an exhibition of still photography and moving image is online, showing scenes from protests across 17 states throughout the country. The digital exhibition “New Nigeria Studios,” was launched at the virtual edition of Art X Lagos fair in early December. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones