Africa Media Review for December 10, 2021

Gunmen Kill at Least 14 Militiamen in Burkina Faso Ambush
Unidentified gunmen ambushed and killed least 14 members of a government-backed civilian militia in Burkina Faso on Thursday, officials said, the latest in a wave of violence. The attack came a day after President Roch Kabore sacked his prime minister and replaced the head of the army as he faced street protests over his handling of a security crisis that has killed thousands and displaced more than a million. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the ambush. But attacks by insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have been mounting in Burkina Faso and in neighbouring Mali and Niger. The gunmen attacked the militia about 10 km from the northern town of Titao where they were heading to reinforce other civilian fighters, the government said in a statement. The 14 killed were members of Burkina Faso’s Homeland Defence Volunteers, which receives funds and training from the government to help contain an Islamist insurgency. Reuters

Niger and Burkina Faso Kill Scores of ‘Terrorists’ in Joint Operation, Armies Say
The armies of Burkina Faso and neighbouring Niger said Thursday they had killed around 100 “terrorists” in a joint military operation against jihadists on the border between November 25 and December 9. The operation managed to “neutralise around 100 terrorists” and “detain around 20 suspicious individuals”, they said in a joint statement. They had also dismantled two bases, one in Kokoloukou in western Niger and another in Yeritagui in eastern Burkina Faso. Four Burkinabe soldiers also lost their lives in a roadside bomb attack, it added. Both sides deployed foot soldiers, as well as “surveillance and combat aircraft” during the operation, whose headquarters are in the town of Tillaberi in western Niger. AFP

Nigeria: Nine Worshippers Killed in Another Mosque Attack in Niger State
At least nine worshippers have been reported killed in an attack by suspected armed bandits in Ba’are in Mashegu Local Government Area of Niger State. The police commissioner in the state, Bala Kuryas, told reporters on Thursday that nine people were killed in the attack which occurred on Wednesday. … But residents of the area said 16 people were killed and 12 others injured in the attack. The attackers invaded the mosque in the early hours of Wednesday when residents were performing the dawn congregational prayers, a resident said, asking not to be named for security reasons. The source said the injured were taken to the Kontagora General Hospital for treatment. The latest mosque attack followed an earlier one in October in Maza-Kula in the same council area where 17 worshippers were reportedly killed. In that previous attack, many people were also abducted and many others injured. In Niger State, armed bandits have in the last few years killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands of others. Premium Times

Africa’s Limited Vaccine Supply Eases Path for Virus, WHO Says
New variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, will find an easy path in Africa as long as the continent remains largely unvaccinated, the World Health Organization warned. Africa, the world’s least vaccinated continent, last week recorded the highest number coronavirus cases since November’s discovery of the new omicron variant, the WHO and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said in separate briefings on Thursday. With only six of Africa’s 54 countries having reached the global target of vaccinating 40% of their population, millions of people have no protection from the virus. This is “simply dangerous and untenable,” said Richard Mihigo, program area manager for immunization and vaccine development at the WHO’s Africa office. Less than 8% of Africa’s population is fully inoculated. Cases on the continent almost doubled in the week through Dec. 9. South Africa, the current epicenter of omicron’s spread, together with Egypt and Zimbabwe recorded the steepest increases, the Africa CDC said. Bloomberg

Dozens Die and Thousands Flee in West Darfur Tribal Fighting
Tribal fighting has killed dozens of people over the past three weeks in three separate areas of Sudan’s West Darfur region and thousands of people have fled the violence, local medics have said. The West Darfur Doctors Committee said in statements on Wednesday and Thursday that attacks in the Kreinik area killed 88 and wounded 84, while renewed violence in the Jebel Moon area killed 25 and wounded four. Meanwhile, violence in the Sarba locality killed eight and wounded six. “They have created a wave of displacement from the outskirts into the town, with a humanitarian situation that can be described at the very least as catastrophic,” the committee said in a statement late on Wednesday, referring to Kreinik. … “Many of the wounded died because they could not reach medical facilities, and community clinics in rural areas are not equipped,” the doctors’ union in West Darfur said on Thursday. … Analysts say a peace deal signed by some rebel groups in October 2020 was one cause of unrest as local groups jostled for power. A joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission stopped patrolling in January. Humanitarian groups said there had been a rise in conflict across the wider Darfur region recently. The Guardian

Thousands Flee Northern Cameroon after Deadly Intercommunal Clashes
Several thousand people have fled deadly inter-ethnic clashes in northern Cameroon, seeking safety across the border in Chad, the Red Cross said Thursday. Cameroonian authorities say conflict between fishermen of the Musgum community and ethnic Arab Choa herders around the town of Kousseri has claimed at least four lives. Thousands of people fleeing the violence have sought refuge by crossing the Chari river into Chad, near the capital N’Djamena. “There are at least 3,000 refugees, and the number is likely to grow,” Khala Ahmat Senoussi, president of the Red Cross in Chad, told AFP. A Chadian police source said that “refugees are still arriving, some of them by boat”. … Many refugees have brought only mattresses to wait out the violence in the forest outside N’Djamena, an AFP correspondent saw. The leader of Chad’s military junta Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno said the situation was “worrying” in a statement Wednesday, calling for “solidarity and hospitality” for the refugees but also asking the international community for aid. During a week in August in Cameroon’s Far North, 32 people were killed and dozens wounded in clashes between Musgum fishermen and Choa Arab herders, the United Nations said. The authorities said the clashes were sparked by disputes over access to water. France24

Ugandan, Congolese Forces Continue Offensive Operations in Eastern DRC
UN peacekeepers in DR Congo have signed an agreement with the country’s armed forces to facilitate joint operations against armed groups troubling the east of the vast nation. The “guidelines for joint operations” set down procedures for enabling operations by the UN mission MONUSCO and the FARDC, as the Congolese army is known, they said. The accord was signed at Congolese army headquarters on Tuesday by the country’s armed forces chief of staff, General Celestin Mbala, and the commander of the UN forces in DR Congo, Affonso Da Costa, according to an AFP reporter. It fills a long-standing void for “a coordination mechanism at the operational level”, Da Costa said. The agreement coincides with a crackdown by Congolese and Ugandan troops on the bloodiest of the estimated 122 armed groups in the region. AfricaNews/AFP

Gambia’s President-Elect Adama Barrow Makes New Constitution a Priority
In his first media engagement following his re-election on Sunday, President Barrow said he would ensure the draft constitution was sent back to parliament. “I am a fan of term limits and I will make sure there is a new constitution before my term ends and this new constitution will address term limits,” said Barrow, president-elect. In September 2020, Gambia’s parliament voted against the draft constitution that was supposed to replace the 1997 constitution, a document that enhanced Jammeh’s 22 years of authoritarian rule. This move ignited fear amongst Gambians that the current president will use the 1997 constitution to extend his tenure past term limits. Incumbent Barrow won a by landslide with 53.2% of the total votes while close contender Ousainou Darboe of the United Democratic Party (UDP) finished in second place with 27.7%. Although Darboe and two other opposition leaders, independent Essa Faal and Mama Kandeh of the Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC) party rejected the results, even before the country’s electoral commission announced the winner, the tripartite alliance fell apart less than 24 hours later. “In the interest of fostering national unity, peace, stability and security of the country, ‘Team Sobeyaa’ (referring to Faal’s team) plans to concentrate on building our brand with the view of winning future elections,” said Faal in a press release on Monday. RFI

Benin Court Sentences Political Opponent to 10 Years in Prison
A court in Benin has condemned academic and political opponent Joël Aïvo to 10 years behind bars. The former presidential candidate was detained last April, the day after president Patrice Talon was re-elected with 86% of the vote. Joël Aïvo rejected the accusations of “conspiracy against the State” and “moneylaudering”, denouncing the role of the court in silencing the opposition. Rich businessman Patrice Talon was first elected in 2016 and is accused of authoritarianism by his opponents. AfricaNews

Kenya Police Recruits Brag: ‘We Are the Bad Ones’
Kenya’s national police have condemned a video showing a group of newly graduated officers boasting about how they are “the bad ones”. It has been widely circulated on social media in the east African country, with many users voicing concerns. Police bosses have called their remarks “irresponsible, unacceptable and reckless”. The video goes to reinforce the view of many Kenyans that some of their police officers can behave like thugs. “This is it, this it … we have finished, we are done. We are representing, what is this? Red beret!” one of the group says in the video in the Kenyan slang, Sheng. “We are coming outside now [graduating], and we are the bad ones! Pa! Pa! Pa! Squad 26! We are the bad ones.” Kenyans on social media have been sharing concerns over the video, with some saying it portrays a group of men more keen on issuing threats than serving the people. Others say their words imply the group is threatening to harshly deal with civilians upon graduating. The video comes at a time when cases of police brutality in Kenya have been increasing, just months before the general election. Kenya has a long history of officers using excessive force when enforcing law, often resulting in deaths, but security officers are rarely held to account. BBC

Calls Grow for a ‘Fighting Government’ in Burkina Faso as Prime Minister Quits
President Roch Marc Christian Kabore faced demands Thursday for tougher action against Burkina Faso’s jihadi insurgency, a day after the crisis cost the prime minister his job. Seeking to defuse anger over a bloody 6-year-old campaign that has claimed about 2,000 lives and forced 1.4 million from their homes, Kabore on Wednesday accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Christophe Joseph Marie Dabire. The move also triggered the departure of Dabire’s government: Under Burkinabe law, the resignation of the prime minister also requires the entire Cabinet to step down. … ”The country does not need a time of drift, with stop-gap ministers just dealing with day-to-day business,” said Issouf Sawadogo, a senior member of a coalition of civil society groups. … Dabire, appointed in 2018, had been tasked with stemming the bloodshed, which began when groups linked to al-Qaida and the so-called Islamic State group started launching attacks from neighboring Mali three years earlier. But the country’s poorly equipped security forces have struggled against a ruthless and highly mobile foe. VOA

South Sudan Violence Could Amount to ‘War Crimes’ – Amnesty International
Fighting between armed groups aligned with government and opposition forces in South Sudan this year subjected civilians to “unimaginable violence” that could amount to war crimes, Amnesty International said Thursday. The rights watchdog documented fighters on all sides indiscriminately murdering and mutilating civilians and razing entire villages during an upsurge in fighting between June and October in the Western Equatoria region. The clashes around Tambura county split along ethnic lines after politicians stirred local grievances and encouraged young people to take up arms, Amnesty said in a new report. But the “death, destruction and division” that followed involved not just local combatants but fighters aligned to rival political factions in Juba, suggesting wider forces at play. “The testimonies we have gathered speak of unimaginable violence, including civilians killed as they fled and bodies set on fire and mutilated,” said Amnesty’s regional director, Deprose Muchena. AFP

Alleged CAR Rebel Leader to Face War Crimes Trial at ICC
An alleged leader of a rebel group in the Central African Republic will go on trial to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said. The Hague-based court, which has been considering a slew of accusations against alleged Seleka leader Mahamat Said Abdel Kani, 51, said in a statement on Thursday that it “partially confirms the charges and commits the suspect to trial”. … The ICC said the court retained charges against Said that were committed in the capital Bangui between April and August 2013 against detained people suspected to be Bozize supporters. The crimes included torture, imprisonment and cruel treatment. “The chamber found that there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that Mr Said was a senior member of the Seleka coalition and is criminally responsible” for those acts, the statement said. Al Jazeera

Former Malawi Cabinet Ministers Arrested over Fraud, Corruption
Police in Malawi have arrested two former cabinet ministers and former Reserve Bank of Malawi governor “on suspicion” of fraud and abuse of office during the regime of former president Peter Mutharika. Former finance minister Joseph Mwanamveka and former reserve bank governor Dalitso Kabambe are alleged to have falsified Malawi’s gross liability and net reserve base to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Malawi was meeting the conditions connected to the Extended Credit Facility. “As a result of this scheme, the IMF has suspended Extended Credit Facility to the prejudice of innocent ordinary Malawians,” police spokesman James Kadadzera said in a statement. Mwanamveka also faces charges over the 2015 “fraudulent” sale of the then state-owned Malawi Saving Bank. Police have indicated they will also arrest others connected to the deal, although they could not disclose names. The bank sale came partly from the advice from the World Bank and the IMF after the bank failed to meet minimum liquidity requirements. They observed that politically connected people were failing to reimburse the huge loans they had taken out. RFI

Nigerians Displaced by Insurgency Fear Being Forced to Return Home
Hauwa Ahmadu Kukuda rakes straw from the top of the two-room shack she shares with eight children. Goats jostle for it as the children crouch next to tarp-covered walls. Outside, row after dusty row stretches for miles in the Bakassi camp in Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state, which houses some 30,000 people displaced by 12 years of Islamist insurgency. For Kukuda, 42, Bakassi has been home for the seven years since Boko Haram militants killed her husband in rural Gwoza. Life is tough, but she is terrified to leave. “There no peace in my hometown,” Kukuda said. Kukuda, like the nearly 300,0000 others in Maiduguri’s camps, might not have a choice. Borno state plans to close all Maiduguri camps by the end of the year, citing improved security and the surrender of thousands of Boko Haram fighters in recent months. Residents rely on the government for food, so it can easily force them out. But militant attacks across Borno continue, stoking their fears about returning home. Reuters

Madagascar Food Crisis: How a Woman Helped Save Her Village from Starvation
Loharano’s effortless grace belies the hard work that she is doing to stave off the tragedy that is unfolding in parts of her region of Madagascar. A prolonged drought in the deep south of the island has left 1.3 million people struggling to find food and 28,000 facing starvation. Some have called it the world’s first famine caused by climate change, though this has been disputed. But Loharano’s village, Tsimanananda, where she is a community leader, has been spared the worst. … “We suffered a lot from hunger. We planted but it failed every time,” the 43-year-old says, reflecting on a previous drought that started in 2013. But with the help of a local charity, the Agro-ecological Centre of the South (CTAS), this time things are very different. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones