Africa Media Review for December 30, 2022

UN Says Armed Raids Force 30,000 to Flee Homes in South Sudan
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has said that armed raids in a region of South Sudan plagued by ethnic clashes have forced around 30,000 civilians to flee their homes. According to OCHA, armed men from Jonglei state, an eastern region beset by gun violence, attacked communities in nearby Greater Pibor Administrative Area, on 24 December. The violence followed clashes in South Sudan’s far north that uprooted thousands in Upper Nile state last month. According to Sara Beysolow Nyanti, the UN humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, “People have suffered enough. Civilians, especially those most vulnerable – women, children, the elderly and the disabled bear the brunt of this prolonged crisis.” … The clashes in Upper Nile state have also seen villagers seek shelter in swamps to escape the bloodshed, amid reports of civilians being raped, kidnapped or murdered. International partners, including the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the regional IGAD bloc, said in a joint statement Thursday that they were “gravely concerned” by the escalating violence. They called on South Sudan’s leaders to step-in, stressing “the need to investigate and hold accountable all perpetrators of the conflict, including those who are instigating and inciting violence.” RFI

Major Losses Shift Islamic State, Al-Qaida’s Balance of Power
Across the United States and many other Western countries, the threat from Islamist terror groups has been increasingly overshadowed by the threats from other extremist groups, some of whom have proven to be more deadly in recent years. But despite a rise in far-right and white-supremacist-driven terrorist threats, counterterrorism officials have been careful not to overlook the still persistent threat from groups such as the Islamic State and al-Qaida. “Jihadism is, yes, it is the main threat right now still in the Netherlands,” Netherlands Justice and Security Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius said in response to a question from VOA during a visit to Washington in late November. “Now you see the threat. You see still the ideology,” she said. “But the firm organization and the level of organization, also in Europe and in our country, that’s breaking down. One reason for the breakdown – both the Islamic State, known as IS, ISIS or Daesh, and al-Qaida suffered significant setbacks in 2022. … Al-Qaida also was dealt a considerable setback in August, when a U.S. drone strike killed its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri in his residential compound in Kabul, Afghanistan. … “The number one I would say probably that we’re most concerned about is the threat of al-Shabab in East Africa,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for African Affairs Chidi Blyden told VOA during a virtual briefing this month with the Defense Writers Group in Washington. VOA

How Ugandan Maids are Sold to Wealthy Saudis on Black Market
She will work day and night and does not need rest, boasts Noura, a housewife in Riyadh. Gesturing to the cowering Ugandan maid next to her, who is 23 according to Noura, she adds: “If she does something wrong, you just send her to her room and do not let her out.” Noura, who clutches gold Gucci sunglasses as she bargains for a price of £3,500 (about Shs15.6m) for the maid, is eager for a quick deal when she talks to an undercover Times reporter. “I can take her to your home tonight,” she says. “If you are still unsure, no problem, you can rent her instead . . . But tell me now, because by tomorrow someone else will buy her.” Noura advertised the domestic worker on Haraj.sa, Saudi Arabia’s largest online marketplace, through which a Times investigation shows that hundreds of domestic workers are being illegally trafficked and sold to the highest bidders. In a thinly disguised black market, dozens of listings are posted each day by Saudi citizens advertising migrant workers as available to buy or rent as maids, cleaners, nannies and drivers. Two hundred such listings have been seen by The Times. The app, which had 2.5 million visits last year — more than Amazon or AliExpress within the kingdom — is still available on the Apple and Google Play stores despite being criticised by the UN’s Special Rapporteurs in 2020 for facilitating modern slavery. Monitor

Rights Watchdogs: Tunisian President’s Actions Threaten Press Freedom
Tunisian and foreign rights watchdogs warn that President Kais Saied’s actions threaten press freedom and the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings. In this connection, Tunisian journalists protested on Thursday against what they say is growing repression and intimidation against the press since President Kais Saied’s power grab in July last year. The demonstration was organized by the national journalists’ union, the SNJT, which has condemned authorities’ attempts to “tame” media outlets and turn them into propaganda channels. Protesters carried signs saying “our liberty depends on freedom of the press” and shouted slogans against “repression”. North Africa Post

Algeria Cracks Down on Last Remaining Independent Media Outlet
The editor of one of Algeria’s last remaining independent media outlets was charged on Thursday with publishing articles that threaten national security and receiving suspicious funding from foreign sources, days after security officials shut down his internet radio station in an escalation of the North African country’s crackdown on dissent and free press. The editor, Ihsane El-Kadi, is a prominent journalist who heads Radio M and its sister news site. He has been in detention since plainclothes security agents arrested him early on Saturday at his home east of Algiers, the capital, said his daughter, Tin Hinane El-Kadi. A court extended his detention on Thursday for another two weeks, until his next hearing. … [T]he raid and arrest effectively closed down one of the last places in Algeria for freewheeling political debate — one that had hosted voices from the government as well as from the opposition. It had continued broadcasting even as the military-backed regime that leads the country grew increasingly authoritarian after being shaken by a 2019 anti-government protest movement. NY Times

Uganda: Police Block Opposition-Led End-of-Year Prayers
The much-anticipated end-of-year prayers organised by members of the Opposition at Nsambya Sharing Hall in Kampala will not take place, according to the Police. National Unity Platform (NUP) leader Robert Kyagulanyi and former leader of Forum for Democratic Change Dr. Kizza Besigye were scheduled to attend the prayers. But the advance teams were shocked to find heavily armed Police and other sister agencies already deployed at the venue. The KMP spokesperson, Patrick Onyango, in a statement said that owing to terrorism threats in the country, security agencies resolved that all public events in the country must be cleared by the Inspector General of Police. “The planned end-of-year prayers organised by United Forces of Change at Nsambya Sharing Hall today (Friday, December 30) was not cleared and therefore it will not take place,” he stated. The police advised the organisers to seek clearance before they can go ahead with their planned prayers. New Vision

Mediators Meet to Bolster Ethiopia Truce as Tigray Conflict Dims
Mediators between Ethiopia’s federal government and authorities in the Tigray region, embroiled until last month in a brutal war, are stepping up efforts to enforce a truce as relations between the two sides inch closer towards normality. The November 2 ceasefire quietened a two-year conflict that killed tens of thousands and displaced millions in the Horn of Africa country, but implementation of parts of the deal has been slower than hoped. … The issue of Eritrean forces and the restoration of services and humanitarian aid to Tigray were expected to be on the agenda of a monitoring team being set up by the mediators. The mediators were gathering in Tigray’s capital Mekelle, Nuur Mohamud Sheekh, spokesperson for the regional Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), said on Thursday. After more than a month’s delay, a joint monitoring and verification team comprising representatives of the government, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and IGAD has been assigned, government national security adviser Redwan Hussien told Reuters. Al Jazeera

Eritrean Soldiers Leave Major Towns in Northern Ethiopia – Witnesses
Eritrean soldiers, who fought in support of Ethiopia’s federal government during its two-year civil war in the northern Tigray region, have pulled out of the major towns of Shire and Axum and headed toward the border, three witnesses told Reuters. The withdrawals follow a Nov. 2 ceasefire signed by Ethiopia’s government and Tigray regional forces that requires the removal of foreign troops from Tigray. Eritrea, however, was not a party to the deal, and its troops’ ongoing presence in major Tigrayan population centres has raised questions about the durability of the accord. It was not immediately clear if the Eritrean troops were leaving Tigray entirely or just pulling back from certain towns. Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel told Reuters he could neither confirm nor deny the troops were withdrawing. … Aid workers in Axum and Shire said they saw several trucks and dozens of cars packed with Eritrean soldiers on Thursday leaving toward the border town of Sheraro. One of the aid workers said the soldiers were waving goodbye. Tigray residents have accused the Eritrean soldiers of continuing to loot and arrest and kill civilians after the ceasefire. Reuters

Eritrean Catholic Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Freed from Detention
A leading Catholic bishop in Eritrea has been freed from detention after being held without trial since October, reliable sources have told the BBC. Bishop Fikremariam Hagos was released along with a parish priest, Abba Mihretab Stefanos. No reasons were given by the authorities for their detention. The Catholic Church has repeatedly called for an end to one-party rule in Eritrea, and for democracy to be embraced. … Eritrea has not held a national election since it gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991. It has been ruled since then by President Isaias Afwerki. His regime has been accused of human rights abuses – including violating religious rights. The bishop had been detained since 15 October after he returned to the capital, Asmara, from a trip to Europe. In 2019, the authorities shut Catholic-run schools and hospitals, saying that religious bodies could not run such institutions. BBC

Lawyers Prevented from Visiting West Darfur Detainees in Port Sudan Prison
On Tuesday, the Port Sudan Prison administration in Red Sea state prevented the delegation of the Defence Committee for North and West Darfur Detainees from meeting detainees from West Darfur who are on hunger strike in the prison. The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) said in a press statement later that day that the prison administration clearly violated the law by not allowing the lawyers to visit their clients. The DBA stated they received reports about the transfer of 40 detainees from the Port Sudan Local Prison to the Port Sudan General Prison, in order to mislead a visiting human rights delegation to the prison. The Darfur lawyers strongly regret “the absence of the Rule of Law in the country and the dominance of certain power centres, noting that “Darfur has become subject to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander and his aides who remain outside the scope of jurisdiction over procedural legitimacy in the state, the exclusive jurisdiction of the Attorney General and the jurisdiction of the judiciary”. Radio Dabanga

Rwanda Accuses DR Congo of Violating Its Airspace, Again
The Rwandan government says the Democratic Republic of Congo has, again, violated Kigali’s airspace in an enduring run of accusations and counter-accusations between the two sides. Kigali claimed on Wednesday that a warplane from the DRC had violated Rwandan airspace, just over a month after another aircraft landed on the ‘wrong’ airport on the Rwandan side instead of the Congolese one. “A Sukhoi-25 fighter jet from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) violated Rwandan airspace along Lake Kivu in the Western Province of Rwanda today at around 12h00, and immediately returned to the DRC. Rwandan authorities have once again protested to the DRC government against the violations of Rwandan airspace by DRC fighter jets,” the statement said. … Rwanda’s accusations on airspace violations came as the truce was broken in North Kivu. The M23 rebels said that the Congolese army used “heavy artillery with Sukhoi planes” to attack rebel positions. East African

The Gambia Details Plan of Alleged Coup Plotters
In a press briefing in Banjul on Thursday (Dec. 29), The Gambia’s newly appointed national security adviser provided new details of last week’s coup bid. He also presented the government’s response to the foiled scheme. “Also the reports are pointing to the suspected involvement of sponsors, for the coup plot, from civilian collaborators who are both within and outside of the country. The investigations are seriously looking into this angle.” Abubakarr Suleiman Jeng also revealed that alleged coup plotters wanted to detain ministers and senior officials to prevent foreign interventions. 7 soldiers have been arrested and at least two other people accused of playing a role in the coup bid are still at large. AfricaNews/AFP

Nigeria: 10,000 New Police Recruits to Be Deployed for 2023 Elections
Ten thousand police constables that passed out on Thursday will be deployed to provide security during the 2023 general elections. The Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, disclosed this at the Passing-Out-Parade of the 2022 batch of police constables in Ilorin, Kwara State. “It is noted that after today’s event, all the graduating recruit constables will be deployed to complement officers on the forthcoming election security duties across the nation, in a bid to ensure a free, fair and credible electoral process.” … Mr Baba, who was represented by the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone 8, Ashafa Adekunle, said in the attainment of community policing goals, the recruits would all be posted back to their various local government areas. He said the return to their various LGAs would further entrench the policing strategy of the federal government towards addressing communal crimes in their respective areas of purview. The State Commissioner of Police, Paul Odama, enjoined the new policemen to maintain high level of discipline and shun corruption. Premium Times

Somalia to Review Federal Power Sharing, Judicial System in New Deal
Somali government and its constituent regional governments except Puntland have agreed to kick start reforms aimed at developing a unified judicial system and reviewing power distribution between the two levels of government in line with the federal structure adopted in 2012. The federal government and federal member state leaders who have been meeting in Mogadishu under the chairmanship of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a communique Wednesday that they had agreed to refine the federal structure to resolve perennial political and governance challenges facing the Horn of Africa nation. On the judiciary, the leaders under the aegis of the National Consultative Council resolved to develop and adopt a unified structure which shall ensure that the judicial structure at the state and federal level at in conformity with the dictates of the Provisional Constitution. Goobjoog

Arrest Warrant for Former President Ian Khama Issued in Botswana
An arrest warrant has been issued in Botswana for former president Ian Khama, who is believed to be in South Africa. According to the warrant issued by Gaborone’s regional magistrate, Mareledi Dipate, Khama should be apprehended on sight and brought before the Broadhurst Magistrate’s Court. It is the state’s case that Khama faces a charge of unlawful possession of firearms on or around 3 March 2016. He was initially charged in April this year in absentia along with former state intelligence boss Isaac Kgosi, suspended police commissioner Keabetswe Makgophe and Victor Paledi, a former deputy permanent secretary in the youth, gender, sport and culture ministry. … Khama is facing 14 charges ranging from unlawful possession of a firearm to receiving stolen property and money laundering. But the warrant is for one charge. The former president left Botswana in November 2021 for South Africa. News24

Zimbabwe Gears Up for 2023 Election amid Economic Woes
Zimbabweans are experiencing an economic crisis exacerbated by hyperinflation. Analysts say the outcome of the 2023 election is unlikely to bring relief. Zimbabwe’s main political parties have started preparing for the country’s general elections in 2023 as they hold rallies and campaign activities in cities and towns to whip up their bases. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has yet to announce the exact date for the vote, but it has revealed that it would be held in either July or August. The 2018 election took place on July 31. The main political parties for the 2023 elections remain the Zanu-PF, which has been in power since independence in 1980, and the opposition Citizens Coalition For Change (CCC), formed early this year and led by the veteran politician Nelson Chamisa. … The 44-year-old Chamisa will likely run again against Mnangagwa, 79, in 2023. Fadzayi Mahere, the spokeswoman for the CCC, told DW that she was hopeful that Chamisa would make significant gains this time. … Should the election be held fairly, Mahere said, the Zanu-PF would stand no chance of remaining in power. “Zanu-PF can never win a free and fair election in Zimbabwe. So, we remain focused on the fight to win Zimbabwe for change,” she said. DW

Namibia Halts Russian Uranium Exploration over Environmental Concerns
Namibia has halted Russia’s state atomic energy agency’s uranium exploration over concerns about potential contamination of underground water. Namibia is Africa’s biggest producer of the nuclear fuel, the world’s second, and in 2019 granted Russia’s Rosatom subsidiary, One Uranium, exploration rights. But this month, Namibia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform refused to grant it a water use permit required for mining, saying the company failed to prove its uranium extraction method would not cause pollution. Namibia’s Minister for Agriculture, Water, and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein told VOA this month they could not grant Russia’s atomic energy agency a permit for uranium mining. … Schlettwein said no further permit would be granted because the method of mining the company proposed, known as the in-situ leaching, was raising environmental concerns. … In situ mining involves recovering minerals by dissolving them in an acid pumped into the ground and then pumping the solution back to the surface. VOA

Africa Mourns Pele, ‘King of Football’
Football fans around the world have paid tribute to Brazilian soccer legend, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele, who defined his sport and inspired generations. The world’s greatest-ever football player died at the Albert Einstein Israelite Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil after a lengthy battle with colon cancer. He was 82. In a tribute to the legend on behalf of all Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari said, “May he rest in peace. He led a good life and made a huge contribution to the development of global football in particular and world sport in general. Pele and the Brazilian team won three World Cups – in 1958, 1962, 1970. During his career, he netted over 1,281 goals. He became the original football icon and was named the “Player of the Century” in 2000. Three days of mourning for Pele have been declared by the Brazilian government. AllAfrica



Photo: Adam Jones