Africa Media Review for December 14, 2021

Sudanese Hold Fresh Anti-Coup Protests
Sudanese demonstrators massively took to the street in the capital, Khartoum, and at least 10 other cities across the country, on Monday, to express their rejection of the military-led transition in the country. … the anti-coup campaign is led and managed by the youth-controlled Resistance Committees which refuse any compromise with the military component and its allied groups. The protests are held under the slogan of “No negotiation, No partnership, No legitimacy” for the participation of the coup leaders in the transition as they are accused of seeking to hold a tight grip on power. The protests of December 13 in Khartoum state were more organized as the demonstrators in Khartoum headed to the presidential palace while the protesters in Khartoum North crossed the Nile river to march in Omdurman. The police forces used tear gas and batons to disperse the peaceful rally heading to the presidential palace. The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) said 55 people were wounded or suffocated by tear gas. In addition to three injured by batons. The security forces fear that the protesters would hold a sit-in if they reach the premises of the military-controlled Sovereign Council. Sudan Tribune

‘Torture and Executions’: EU Slaps Sanctions on Russia’s Wagner Mercenary Group
The European Union has imposed financial and travel sanctions on the Russian mercenary company Wagner for committing “serious human rights abuses” including torture and extrajudicial executions in Mozambique, Sudan, Central African Republic, Libya, Syria and Ukraine. “The Wagner Group has recruited, trained and sent private military operatives to conflict zones around the world to fuel violence, loot natural resources and intimidate civilians in violation of international law, including international human rights law,” the EU Council said as it announced the measures on Monday. The shadowy group is reputed to be close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and to conduct deniable foreign operations for the Russian government in Africa and elsewhere. … The European Council announced on Monday that it was imposing asset freezes and travel bans on Wagner itself, plus eight individuals and three entities connected to it. … The EU statement noted that Wagner was “also spreading its malign influence elsewhere, notably in the Sahel region. For these reasons the group constitutes a threat for the people in the countries where they are present, the wider region and for the European Union. The aim of today’s decision is to curtail the subversive activities of the Wagner Group.” Daily Maverick

Russia Vetoes UN Resolution Linking Climate Change, Security
Russia on Monday vetoed a first-of-its-kind U.N. Security Council resolution casting climate change as a threat to international peace and security, a vote that sank a years-long effort to make global warming a more central consideration for the U.N.’s most powerful body. Spearheaded by Ireland and Niger, the proposal called for “incorporating information on the security implications of climate change” into the council’s strategies for managing conflicts and into peacekeeping operations and political missions, at least sometimes. The measure also asked the U.N. secretary-general to make climate-related security risks “a central component” of conflict prevention efforts and to report on how to address those risks in specific hotspots. … Stronger storms, rising seas, more frequent floods and droughts and other effects of warming could inflame social tensions and conflict, potentially “posing a key risk to global peace, security and stability,” the proposed resolution said. Some 113 of the U.N.’s 193 member countries supported it, including 12 of the council’s 15 members. But India and veto-wielding Russia voted no, while China abstained. … “The force of the veto can block the approval of a text,” said Niger’s ambassador, Abdou Abarry, “but it cannot hide our reality.” AP

West African Bloc ECOWAS Calls on Guinea’s Junta to Provide Election Timetable
Leaders of the West African bloc ECOWAS have called on Guinea’s military junta to provide a timetable for elections that would lead to a return to civilian rule. The bloc’s leaders issued a statement on Monday saying it remained “very concerned that three months after the coup d’etat, a timetable for the return of constitutional order is yet to be issued.” The bloc insisted on the need for the regime to hold elections within six months, as they have previously stated. In the meantime, it said, it would maintain the sanctions already imposed. Monday’s statement came a day after the bloc’s leaders gathered in Nigeria for a summit. … ECOWAS did, however, welcome the news that Conde himself had been released after 12 weeks. According to press reports, he is still under surveillance but living with his wife in a Conakry suburb. Conde became Guinea’s first democratically elected leader in 2010, but last year sparked mass protests when he changed the constitution to allow himself to seek a third term. RFI

Tunisia President Extends Parliament Suspension, Sets Election in 1 Year
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied said Monday that parliament, suspended almost five months ago, would remain so until elections he set for December 2022, and called a July referendum on constitutional reforms. In a speech on national television, Saied announced a “popular consultation” with the Tunisian people and said that “other draft constitutional and other reforms will be put forward to a referendum on July 25.” That will mark a year since he sacked the government, suspended parliament and seized a string of powers in the only democracy to have emerged from the Arab Spring uprisings a decade ago. His move came as the North African country wallowed in political and economic crises compounded by the coronavirus pandemic. He later moved to rule by decree. … Parliament will stay suspended until “elections take place under new laws on December 17 next year,” he said. AfricaNews with AFP

Congo President Says Ugandan Troops’ Presence Will Be Temporary
Democratic Republic of Congo’s president Felix Tshisekedi said on Monday he will ensure that Ugandan troops’ presence in Congo, where they are fighting an Islamist militant group alongside Congolese forces, is for a strictly limited period. Uganda and Congo launched a joint operation this month against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), an armed group allied with Islamic State, but have given few details about its scope or expected duration. “I will ensure that the presence of Ugandan troops on our soil is limited to the time strictly necessary for this operation,” Tshisekedi said in a state of the union speech that also covered the economy and Covid-19. Uganda’s intervention has provoked unease because of its army’s conduct during Congo’s 1998-2003 civil war, when Uganda was accused of occupying territory and plundering resources. At least 1,700 Ugandan soldiers have so far crossed into eastern Congo, and Uganda’s defence ministry has said its troops will stay as long as needed to defeat the ADF. Reuters

Uganda Police, Army Surround Bobi Wine’s Home Ahead of Kayunga Visit
Police and the army on Tuesday morning surrounded the home of former presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, ahead of his planned visit to Kayunga District in central Uganda. Bobi Wine was scheduled to hold campaign meetings for his party candidate in the Kayunga district chairperson by-election. Security officers set up roadblocks on all the roads near the National Unity Platform (NUP) leader’s home in Magere, Wakiso District. “This morning, ahead of my planned visit to Kayunga District to campaign for our flag bearer, the police and military deployed overnight around my home in an apparent attempt to block me from leaving. The cowardly regime is on its way out. A matter of time,” Mr Kyagulanyi tweeted Tuesday morning. Makindye East MP Derrick Nyeko, among other people, was blocked from accessing Mr Kyagulanyi’s home. The musician-turned politician later tweeted saying his security guard and a gardener had been arrested by the security team. … In Kayunga where President Museveni is also expected to campaign for the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party candidate, Andrew Muwonge, armoured vehicles belonging to the police and to Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) were seen patrolling the town. Daily Monitor

Burundi Says Will ‘Never’ Allow in UN Special Rapporteur
Burundi’s government has signaled that it won’t allow a recently appointed United Nations special rapporteur on human rights into the East African nation. Foreign Minister Albert Shingiro last week told reporters, and separately told a meeting with diplomats, that Burundi would “never” allow the special rapporteur to investigate the country, which was rocked by deadly political violence and a crackdown on dissent around the 2015 national election. Some in the international community have tried to take a fresh approach with Burundi after President Pierre Nkurunziza died last year, but some human rights groups and critics have alleged that repression continues under current President Evariste Ndayishimiye. Local civil society groups last week asserted that several hundred arbitrary arrests have occurred since Ndayishimiye took office in June 2020. The U.N. special rapporteur for Burundi was created in October by the U.N. Human Rights Council to replace a commission of inquiry on the country. AP

U.S. Curbs Visas for Eight Alleged Wildlife Traffickers in Congo
The United States has imposed visa restrictions on eight individuals it said were wildlife traffickers in the Democratic Republic of Congo in an effort to disrupt the illicit trade, the U.S. State Department said on Monday. The State Department said the Democratic Republic of Congo is a major hub for trafficked wildlife and wildlife products from Africa to Asia and the Middle East, including ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales and endangered live animals. “We are sending a clear message that wildlife and timber traffickers are not welcome in the United States,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in the statement. Price added that the United States was committed to working with the Democratic Republic of Congo government and the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature to combat wildlife trafficking. Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo last month seized $3.5 million worth of ivory, rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales in a joint operation with U.S. officials. Reuters

Rangers in Central African Republic Give Wildlife a Fighting Chance
Since the 1960s, over 80 percent of animal species have disappeared in the north of the Central African Republic. Elephants, giraffes, and felines are all victims of intensive poaching, facilitated by porous borders with Chad and Sudan and countless infiltrations by rebel groups. In this uncontrollable area, an American NGO signed a 25-year partnership with the government to protect the area from environmental disaster; a challenge that its 150 under-armed men are struggling to meet. But in a decade, these guards have still managed to take back and control a quarter of the protected area, and some animals are gradually returning. France24

Nigeria: Bandits Abduct 20 Villagers in Separate Attacks in Sokoto
No fewer than 20 villagers have been abducted by bandits in Wurno local government area of Sokoto State, residents have said. The bandits carried out simultaneous attacks on Sunday night in Kwasare and Chacho villages, the residents reported. Wurno is one of the local government areas in Sokoto East where the activities of bandits have been on the rise. The area has witnessed kidnapping, killing and burning of houses and shops. The bandits recently burnt down a bus [with] several travellers during an attack. … Basharu Guyawa, the coordinator of w rights group, Rundunar Adalci, said while the attack on Kwasare was ongoing, “another set of bandits were attacking Chacho.” “We are under bandits’ siege. Yes, they (bandits) always attack us at will.” … “This is becoming too much because it is spreading like a wildfire and I am sure you know if these bandits can attack these communities that are not far from the city centre, tell me who can save Sokoto metropolis?” Premium Times

Nigeria: The Ultra-Violent Cult That Became a Global Mafia
A two-year BBC investigation into Black Axe – a Nigerian student fraternity which evolved into a dreaded mafia-group – has unearthed new evidence of infiltration of politics, and a scamming and killing operation spanning the globe. … Within Nigeria, Black Axe is fighting a war of supremacy with rival “cults” – similar criminal gangs with names like the Eiye, the Buccaneers, the Pirates and the Maphites. Messages the BBC have translated from West African Pidgin show Axemen keeping track of how many rivals they have murdered, tallying up the figures like a football score in each region. … But internet fraud, not murder, is the primary source of revenue for the gang. The documents given to the BBC include receipts, bank transfers and thousands of emails showing Black Axe members collaborating on online scams around the world. Members share “formats” – blueprints on how to conduct scams – with each other. Options include romance scams, inheritance scams, real estate scams and business email scams, in which the perpetrators create email accounts that appear to be those of the victim’s lawyers, or accountants, in order to intercept payments. These scams are not small-scale, conducted by a lone wolf on a laptop. They are collaborative, organised and extremely lucrative operations, sometimes involving dozens of individuals working together across continents. BBC

South Africa: Liquor and Lockdown: The Great Booze Heist
Robbers are increasingly targeting liquor depots and delivery trucks in precisely planned attacks, getting their hands on large amounts of alcohol that they push on to the illicit market, which is already worth more than R20-billion. This adds to the problem of liquor stores being robbed and looted – crimes that increased when heavy alcohol restrictions were in place in South Africa. Ranging from a full alcohol ban to limited sales times, restrictions have been sporadically implemented in the country since March 2020 as part of the government’s Covid-19 lockdown measures. … To prevent becoming the target of crooks, DM168 understands that some major liquor companies have been transporting smaller quantities of stock in vehicles instead of trucks and are making use of armed escorts. Security has also been boosted at liquor outlets as well as at warehouses and other storage facilities. At the same time, there are fears that, given the precision of attacks, corrupt police and private security officers could be working with the criminals. Some police officers have previously been arrested on suspicion of being involved in liquor theft. … “The illicit alcohol trade has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 17% since 2017 and now stands at 12% of the R177.2-billion total industry market value. By 2026, the illicit market will be worth R44.5-billion,” [Pamela Nkuna, the chair of the South African Liquor Brandowners’ Association (Salba)] said. Daily Maverick

‘We Want Justice’ on Climate, Nakate Says
The capital of Uganda coughs itself awake on weekdays under a soft blanket of smog. Kampala’s hills come into sharper focus as the morning rush of minibuses and motorbikes fades. It is this East African city that one of the world’s most well-known climate activists, Vanessa Nakate, calls home. The 25-year-old’s rise in profile has been quick. Not even three years have passed since she set out with relatives in Kampala to stage her first, modest protest over how the world is treating its only planet. In an interview this week with The Associated Press — which last year drew international attention and Nakate’s dismay by cropping her from a photo — she reflected on the whirlwind. She spoke of her disappointment in the outcome of the U.N. climate talks in Scotland and what she and other young activists plan for the year to come. “We expected the leaders to rise up for the people, to rise up for the planet” at the talks known as COP26, she said. Instead, the world could be on a pathway to warm 2.4 degrees Celsius (4.3 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times. That’s well above the goal of limiting warming to 1.5C — and would be “a death sentence for so many communities on the front lines of the climate crisis,” Nakate said. AP



Photo: Adam Jones