Africa Media Review for December 4, 2023

Burkina Faso Rights Defender Abducted as Concerns Grow over Alleged Clampdown on Dissent
A prominent human rights defender in Burkina Faso has been abducted by unknown individuals, rights groups have announced, in what activists say could be the latest attempt by the military government to target dissidents using a controversial law. Daouda Diallo, a 2022 recipient of the Martin Ennals international human rights award, was abducted on Friday in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou after visiting the passport department where he had gone to renew his documents, according to the local Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities civic group, which Diallo founded…Earlier this year, Burkina Faso’s junta announced the “general mobilization” decree to recapture territories lost as jihadi attacks continue to ravage the landlocked country. The decree empowers the government to send people to join the fight against the armed groups. But it is also being used to “target individuals who have openly criticized the junta” and “to silence peaceful dissent and punish its critics,” Human Rights Watch has said. HRW said at least a dozen journalists, civil society activists and opposition party members were informed by the government in November that they would be conscripted, including Diallo, who joined Burkina Faso activists in condemning the move. AP

Burkina Faso Suspends ‘All Distribution Methods’ of Le Monde
Military-ruled Burkina Faso on Saturday, December 2, suspended “all distribution methods” of Le Monde daily after an article on a deadly jihadist attack in the north, in the latest measure against a French media organization…The Burkinabe authorities in recent months have suspended the French TV outlets LCI and France 24 as well as Radio France Internationale and the magazine Jeune Afrique. The correspondents of the French newspapers Libération and Le Monde have also been expelled…Relations between Burkina Faso and former colonial power France plummeted after the military seized power in a 2022 coup, citing failing efforts to quash a jihadist insurgency that erupted in 2015. The junta has since turned away from its traditional ally, forcing it to withdraw its troops deployed against the rebels, and has turned toward Russia. Le Monde

Burkina Faso, Niger Join Mali in Leaving G5 Anti-Jihadi Force
The military leaders of Burkina Faso and Niger said Saturday they would quit the G5 anti-jihadi force in Africa’s Sahel region, the latest blow to the fight against insurgents in one of the world’s most troubled zones. The G5, created in 2014, has secured meager results, with Mali also quitting the original five-nation force last year in the wake of a military coup. Leaders of the five countries agreed to deploy a joint anti-terror task force backed by France in 2017, but the military rulers of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali have all accused Paris of having an outsize role after years of French deployments on their territories…The military regimes have also formed close ties against international pressure for a swift return to civilian rule, and to combat the long-running jihadi insurgencies raging in the three countries. Only Chad and Mauritania now remain in the G5, whose military deployment is largely financed by the European Union…On the ground, few joint G5 operations have actually been carried out and the security situation has continued to deteriorate. AFP

Why the Islamic State Is Surging in Africa
Experts say the Islamic State-Sahel Province is ascendant in parts of Mali and Niger and, to a lesser extent, Burkina Faso, because of the security vacuum created by a drawdown of Western military assistance, most notably the departure of French soldiers — who were forced to end their missions by junta leaders — and the closing of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali this year. Another factor has been decisions made by the Islamic State’s rival group, the substantially larger al-Qaeda-affiliated Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), to focus its resources elsewhere after battlefield losses to the IS Sahel, essentially ceding vast tracts of land near the border between Mali and Niger. After earning a reputation for brutality and indiscriminate violence, the Islamic State branch is now focusing more on governance in the towns and villages it controls, analysts said, and committing fewer atrocities against civilians…[Guillaume Soto-Mayor,a nonresident scholar at the Middle East Institute], said that it is only recently that he has begun to hear of entire communities opting to join the Islamic State, some attracted by the imposition of strict sharia Islamic law in territories where governance is otherwise lacking and others because they lack the resources to move and rebuild their lives elsewhere. The Washington Post

UN Security Council Lifts Arms Embargo on Somalia Government
The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted on Friday to remove the final restrictions on weapons deliveries to Somalia’s government and its security forces, more than 30 years after an arms embargo was first imposed on the country. The council put the embargo on Somalia in 1992 to cut the flow of weapons to feuding warlords, who had ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and plunged the Horn of Africa country into civil war. The 15-member body adopted two British-drafted resolutions: one to remove the full arms embargo on Somalia and another to reimpose an arms embargo on al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants…Al Shabaab has been waging a brutal insurgency against the Somali government since 2006 to try to establish its own rule based on a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. Somalia’s government had long asked for the arms embargo to be removed so it could beef up its forces to take on the militants. Reuters

Security Council Agrees to Terminate UN Mission in Sudan
The Security Council on Friday decided to terminate the mandate of the UN political mission in Sudan from next Monday, after Khartoum called for its immediate withdrawal last month…The end of the UN Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) comes against the backdrop of the continuing war raging between rival militaries that has claimed over 6,000 lives, driven millions from their homes, led to abhorrent sexual and gender-based violence, and precipitated a severe humanitarian crisis…UNITAMS was established by the Security Council in June 2020 as a special political mission, to provide support to Sudan for an initial 12-month period during its political transition to democratic rule. Its mandate was subsequently extended in 2021 and 2022. Headquartered in Khartoum, UNITAMS supported the country through a range of political, peacebuilding and development initiatives, including assisting the nation to achieve the goals of the Constitutional Declaration of August 2019, and carrying out its National Plan for Civilian Protection. UN News

Chad’s Opposition, Civil Society Ask French Troops to Leave
Chad’s opposition and civil society groups are asking France to immediately withdraw troops who arrived in Chad after being ordered to depart neighboring Niger by that country’s military junta. Ordjei Abderahim Chaha, president of the opposition party Rally for Justice and Equality, said Thursday that military ruler Mahamat Idriss Deby has failed to heed calls to ask French troops to leave. Speaking at a news conference in the capital, N’Djamena, Chaha said he believes Deby wants French troops to keep Chad’s military junta in power by intimidating or cracking down on civilians who are ready to protest should Deby fail to hand power to civilian rule by November 2024 as agreed. Opposition and civil society groups have asked Deby to ensure some 1,000 French troops already stationed in Chad — plus those who have arrived from Niger — leave the central African state no later than December 28, Chaha said…France did not disclose the final destination of their forces leaving Niger. Chad said the troops were to leave for Paris via N’Djamena International airport, while their equipment was to transit through the Douala Seaport in neighboring Cameroon.  VOA

East African Force Begins Withdrawal from DRC
The East African Community (EAC) regional force began its withdrawal from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday morning after Kinshasa deemed it ineffective and refused to renew its mandate. The regional bloc first deployed troops in the violence-plagued region in November last year after the resurgence of the M23 rebel group. DRC authorities at the time invited the EAC to deploy its forces to free the areas taken by the rebels. But the future of the deployment was thrown into doubt after DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi accused the force of cohabiting with the rebels rather than forcing them to lay down arms…The UN stabilisation mission to the DRC, Monusco, has been present in the country since 1999, in addition to the EAC’s force. But it has also been accused of ineffectiveness, with Kinshasa calling for its “accelerated” departure from January 2024. Monusco comprises around 14,000 peacekeepers, deployed almost exclusively in the east of the country…Tshisekedi is counting on security forces from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to which the DRC also belongs, to replace the EAC. But the creation of a SADC force, which has been mooted since May, has so far failed to materialise. AFP

Tshisekedi, Katumbi Race Takes Shape in DRC Presidency Poll
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s upcoming presidential election officially has 23 contenders. But just two — President Felix Tshisekedi and Moïse Katumbi —have so far been campaigning across the country ahead of the polls due on December 20. However, there is now talk of the opposition amassing behind Katumbi to compete with the incumbent, which could be historic if it happens, but expensive for both sides. So far, three presidential candidates have withdrawn, at least in public statements, to back Katumbi. They are Seth Kikuni, Franck Diongo and former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo, whose stronghold of Kindu in Maniema Province (eastern Congo) witnessed heavy violence on Tuesday this week as Katumbi arrived in the city…Katumbi was once an ally of Tshisekedi in the Union Sacrée de la Nation coalition. They fell out in December 2022, and he has since been one of his biggest critics. Katumbi will need to pull veterans like Martin Fayulu, officially the third in the 2019 race, Nobel laureate Denis Mukwege and Delly Sesaga to his side to cement the opposition ticket. While they all oppose Tshisekedi, they differ on areas the country needs to improve. The East African

Disinformation Is One of Climate Summit’s Biggest Challenges
As the world’s leaders gather this week at a major summit to discuss ways to address the effects of global warming, one of the greatest obstacles they face is disinformation…Some climate disinformation was spread by countries like Russia and China, which often target such content to parts of the world where they seek to wield influence at the expense of the United States and the rest of the West. [A report from Climate Action Against Disinformation] found that Russian state media had framed emission-reduction plans as a form of “Western imperialism” engineered to undermine the development of the so-called global south, or the southern part of the world, which includes some of the poorest and least industrialized countries…Researchers… found, however, that Russian climate disinformation was opportunistic and, thus, inconsistent. The report noted that “fossil fuel investments in Africa were condemned as attempts to steal the continent’s resources when linked to Western countries, but hailed as championing economic development when related to Russia”…[The organization] also said China’s state oil giant, the China National Petroleum Corporation, was among the international energy companies making misleading claims about their environmental practices, a strategy known as “greenwashing.” The company’s ads, which often targeted countries in Asia and Africa, sometimes used an increasingly popular tactic that researchers call “nature-rinsing”: employing images of landscapes and scenery in its marketing to create a false and more forgiving association between nature and fossil fuels. The New York Times

We Need Resources to Fight Health Impacts of Climate Crisis, Africans Tell Cop28
Africa’s leading public health body [used] the first ever health day at Cop on 3 December to call for increased funding to fight the health impacts of the climate crisis on the continent and create more resilient systems to ensure it is prepared for the next pandemic. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) launched the second phase of its three-year, $1.5bn Saving Lives and Livelihoods drive [last] week, but its director general, Dr Jean Kaseya, said multiple disease outbreaks combined with the growing burden of non-communicable diseases and recovery from Covid means that much more financial support is needed…“Between January and November 2023, Africa faced 158 disease outbreaks. These come immediately after Covid when economies were almost destroyed. Now countries have to respond to these outbreaks.” He added that the climate crisis is a leading contributor to the problem, including the current rise in cholera cases. “Today we have 18 countries affected by cholera with 4,000 deaths; we have dengue in west Africa killing people.” The Guardian

Senegal: After Watching 10 Migrants Die at Sea, He Now Pleads: ‘Stay’
In 2006, the boat Moustapha Diouf boarded with his friends was one of the first of many pirogues, as the craft are known, that departed that year from the coastal villages of Senegal in the direction of the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago 60 miles off the Moroccan coast. With their traditional way of fishing no match for the industrial trawlers from China, Europe and Russia that had begun combing the sea around them, Mr. Diouf and his fellow villagers could no longer support their families. Migrating, they believed, was their best choice… Diouf was among the lucky ones: He made it to the Canary Islands alive. But the whole experience was dreadful, he said. He was imprisoned and deported to Senegal. Upon his return, together with two other repatriates, he set up his nonprofit, known as AJRAP, or the Association of Young Repatriates, whose mission is persuading Senegal’s youth to stay…When it has the funds, AJRAP organizes vocational training in baking, poultry breeding, electricity and entrepreneurship, to provide alternatives to embarking on a pirogue. Mr. Diouf also speaks to young people in local schools to rectify the overly rosy picture of Europe often painted by those who made it there. But he is painfully aware of his limitations. He does not have the capacity to offer anyone a job, and most choose to migrate anyway. The New York Times