Africa Media Review for December 5, 2023

Nigeria Airstrike ‘Mistakenly’ Kills Worshippers at Religious Festival
At least 85 civilians were killed in Kaduna state, north-west Nigeria, in an air strike during a Muslim religious celebration on Sunday, the local emergency management authority said. The civilians were killed in a “bombing mishap”, President Bola Tinubu said without giving a death toll. State Governor Uba Sani had earlier said they were “mistakenly killed” by a military drone “targeting terrorists and bandits”. Dozens were also wounded…Defence spokesman Maj Gen Edward Buba said Sunday’s airstrike was based on credible intelligence about the presence of “terrorists” in the area…The airstrike happened when villagers from Tundun Biri gathered for a religious festival on Sunday evening…The Nigerian military has in the past been accused of causing civilian casualties while battling militia gangs, known locally as bandits, in the north-west of the country. The government has labelled the gangs “terrorists”. In 2021, at least 20 fishermen were killed accidentally in a Nigerian fighter jet strike on a jihadist camp in north-east Nigeria. BBC

Al-Shabaab Targets Recruits in Turkish Military Base in Somalia
Al-Shabaab terrorists on Sunday targeted a Turkish military base that trains soldiers from the Horn of Africa nation, in one of many attempts to run over the facility which has been very instrumental in the fight against the group, which is seeking to topple the government. The incident, authorities said, injured at least five people and was targeting army recruits who are undergoing training ahead of deployment to the battlefield to face Al-Shabaab militants. Officials said that the incident happened on Sunday afternoon. Turkey trains Somali National Army [SNA] special forces usually known as Gorgor or Eagle Unit, who have been instrumental in the fight against Al-Shabaab. For decades, Al-Shabaab has been targeting Turkey’s infrastructure in Somalia due to close ties between Mogadishu and Ankara. According to reports, most of the victims of the attack were youths who had lined up for recruitment exercises as Somalia seeks to increase the number of special forces who can handle complex security challenges. Turkey has so far trained over 2,000 such elite forces in the country. Garowe Online

Guinea-Bissau’s President Issues a Decree Dissolving the Opposition-Controlled Parliament
Guinea-Bissau President Umaro Sissoco Embalo issued a decree Monday dissolving the nation’s opposition-controlled parliament, less than six months after it was reconstituted following a similar move by the president in 2022. Embalo cited last week’s shootout between troops loyal to him and forces controlled by the parliament…The leadership of the parliament rejected the president’s decree Monday, noting that the constitution states that parliament cannot be dissolved in the first 12 months after an election…It is the second time in less than two years that Embalo has dissolved the parliament. Three months after surviving a coup attempt in February 2022, the Guinea Bissau leader did the same thing, citing “unresolvable differences” with the legislature. Guinea-Bissau’s semi-presidential system limits the president’s powers by allowing the majority party in the parliament to appoint the Cabinet. As a result, the National Guard — which is under the Ministry of Interior — is largely controlled by the opposition-dominated parliament, while the Presidential Palace Battalion is loyal to Embalo. AP

UN Says Gender-Based Violence in DRC is Increasing
The United Nations humanitarian agency, OCHA, says it is working with other humanitarian agencies to help mitigate and respond to increasing incidents of gender-based violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The U.N. deputy humanitarian coordinator for the DRC, Suzanna Tkalec, said at a briefing Monday in Washington that women and girls in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri continue to be exposed to alarming rates of gender-based violence due to the resurgence of violence between militant groups and government forces. Tkalec said a recent report from the aid organization Doctors Without Borders found that some 90,000 women and girls had sought medical assistance after being assaulted and raped this year. The report said those who came forward likely represent only a fraction of the total number of victims. Tkalec says survivors may be unable to reach lifesaving gender-based violence services or report their abuse, out of fear of stigmatization by their communities or retaliation by perpetrators. VOA

Niger’s Junta Revokes Key Security Agreements with EU and Turns to Russia for Defense Partnership
Niger’s junta on Monday scrapped two key military agreements that the West African nation signed with the European Union to help fight the violence in Africa’s Sahel region as the country’s army leaders and a senior Russian defense official discussed military cooperation. Before the coup that deposed the country’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, Niger had been the West and Europe’s last major security partner in the Sahel, the vast region south of the Sahara Desert that Islamic extremist groups have turned into the global terror hot spot…In a rare visit on Sunday, a Russian delegation led by Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense Lounous-Bek Evkourov met with Niger’s junta leader, Gen. Abdourahmane Tchiani, and Minister of State for National Defense Salifou Mody. The two sides held more meetings on Monday to discuss military and defense issues…Russia has been active in parts of Africa through its private mercenary Wagner Group, from the Central African Republic, where the mercenary forces have helped provide security services to the government, to Mali, where they are partnering with the army in battling armed rebels and where the Evkourov-led delegation also visited. The Wagner group was one of the first sources of help that the military leaders in Niger reached out to for support as they faced a possible military intervention from West Africa’s regional bloc of ECOWAS in a bid to reverse the coup. AP

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Three Sudanese Figures with Ties to Former Leader Omar al-Bashir
The United States imposed sanctions Monday on three Sudanese individuals accused of undermining “peace, security and stability” in the conflict-stricken African nation. The sanctions imposed by the Department of the Treasury block all property and entities owned by Taha Osman Ahmed al-Hussein, Salah Abdallah Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Etta al-Moula Abbas that are in the U.S. All three held senior government positions under former autocratic President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan for 30 years. They were forced out of public office after al-Bashir was toppled in a popular uprising in 2019…Salah – otherwise known as Salah Gosh – was the head of Sudan’s now disbanded National Intelligence and Security Service. In Monday’s report, Washington accused the former intelligence chief of plotting to derail Sudan’s democratic transition through a power-sharing government that ran for more than two years before a coup led by Burhan upended it in Oct. 2021. Al-Hussein served as vice president to al-Bashir and was a longstanding figure in the autocrat’s ruling National Congress Party. Abbas was a former Sudanese ambassador and also a key figure in the country’s disbanded intelligence service. According to the U.S Treasury, he fled to Turkey following al-Bashir’s fall. AP

US Restricts Visas for Uganda, Zimbabwe Officials, Citing Repression
The United States on Monday expanded a visa restriction policy on Ugandan officials to include those it believes are responsible for undermining democracy and repressing marginalized groups in Uganda, while also announcing a new visa restriction policy for officials in Zimbabwe…Uganda’s anti-LGBTQ law, considered one of the harshest in the world, was enacted in May and carries the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality,” an offence that includes transmitting HIV through gay sex. In June, the U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions on Ugandan officials after the passage of the law. The State Department also previously put visa restrictions on Ugandan officials following the country’s 2021 elections, which it called “flawed”…Blinken also announced a new visa restriction policy for those he said were undermining democracy in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa won a second term in a disputed vote in August, which the opposition described as a “gigantic fraud” amid criticism from election observers who say the election failed to meet regional and international standards. Reuters

Mauritania’s Former President Jailed for Five Years for Corruption
Mauritania’s former president, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, has been sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering and “illicit enrichment.” Abdel Aziz led the West African country for a decade after coming to power in a 2008 coup and was an ally of Western powers fighting Islamist militants in the Sahel region. He had been on trial since January and denied corruption allegations. The court found Abdel Aziz guilty of two of 10 charges late on Monday, following an inquiry into allegations of embezzlement of public property and corruption. One of his lawyers called the ruling “a political verdict targeting a man and his family”. Prosecutors said the former head of state’s conviction was historic. The court, which specialises in corruption and economic crimes, acquitted some of Abdel Aziz’s associates who had also been on trial, including two former prime ministers. Abdel Aziz was succeeded in 2019 by a political ally, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, who remains president, but Abdel Aziz’s government quickly came under scrutiny over actions including deals on offshore oil projects. Abdel Aziz has the option of appealing his sentence at the Supreme Court. Reuters

African Court Frustrated by Kenya, Tanzania Inaction
The African Court on Human Rights and Peoples Rights (ACPHR) has named Kenya and Tanzania as some of the member states that have failed to implement its decisions. The court’s president Justice Imani Daud Aboud cited the Ogiek land rights case, whose orders the Kenya government is yet to implement…The Ogiek community took the government to the Arusha-based court after the government evicted them from Mau Forest, their “ancestral home.” After a 13-year legal battle, the African Court delivered its judgment in favour of the Ogiek in May 2017, finding seven human rights violations perpetrated against them. The delay in the delivery of the reparations created legal uncertainties, prompting the court to address the issue again in June 2022…But, to date, the government is yet to implement the orders. Tanzania faces similar accusation. The Court ruled on Tanzania’s constitution not permitting anyone to petition the election of a president after a winner is officially declared. In July 2020, the ACPHR ordered Tanzania to amend a section of its constitution in favour of the case filed 2018 by Tanzanian advocate Jebra Kambole, arguing that the provision was a violation of his rights. Despite the ruling that Tanzania submit a report within 12 months on the measures it had taken to implement the orders nothing has happened. The East African

Ethiopian authorities detain Ethio News chief editor Belay Manaye without charge
On November 13, a group of uniformed police officers and other security personnel in civilian clothes arrested Belay in the capital, Addis Ababa, near the offices of Ethio News, a private YouTube-based news outlet, Belay’s wife Belaynesh Nigatu and Ethio News co-founder Belete Kassa told CPJ…Belaynesh, who visited her husband in jail, told CPJ that the journalist feared he was being held under legal provisions introduced when a state of emergency was declared on August 4 in response to conflict in the northern Amhara state. The emergency declaration gives the government additional powers to ban public meetings, declare a curfew, shut down mass media, and detain people suspected of crimes against the state in order to “maintain public peace and order” in response to “the armed illegal activities of the Amhara National Regional Government”…The state of emergency law, reviewed by CPJ, gives security personnel wide powers of arrest and suspends the due process of law, including the right to appear before a court and receive legal counsel… Belay and Ethio News co-founder Belete…had extensively covered the conflict in the Amhara state. In the weeks following the declaration of the state of emergency, CPJ documented the arrest of at least seven other journalists who had covered the Amhara conflict. Committee to Protect Journalists

James Cleverly to Sign New Rwanda Treaty in Effort to Revive UK Asylum Plan
UK home secretary James Cleverly will on Tuesday sign a new treaty with Rwanda in an attempt to overcome the legal block on the government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to the African country. The new treaty will aim to address the UK Supreme Court’s ruling that the Rwanda policy is unlawful and pave the way for Cleverly to introduce “emergency legislation” at Westminster to try to revive it. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously last month that asylum seekers removed to the east African country would be at real risk of being sent back to their home countries without proper assessment of their claims. The new UK-Rwanda treaty, a legal upgrade on an existing memorandum of understanding between the two countries, will aim to address the Supreme Court’s concerns. Under its provisions, anyone sent to Rwanda will be given permanent leave to remain there even if their asylum application failed, according to three people briefed on the contents…Cleverly will introduce legislation in the House of Commons, possibly as early as this week, which he says will enable parliament to declare in law that Rwanda is “safe”. That assertion is expected to be challenged in the courts. Financial Times

Farmers Race to Innovate as Climate Change Threatens African Food Supply
The International Monetary Fund says each increase of 1 degree Celsius correlates to a three-percentage-point reduction in agricultural output in developing countries. It forecasts crop yields in sub-Saharan Africa will decline by 5 to 17 percent by 2050, despite a rapidly growing population. Smallholder farmers are already struggling…In Nigeria, farmers in two states are conducting trials of new forms of cassava — a staple crop for 300 million people. The chunky roots are far more drought resistant than other staples, but intense cyclones and higher temperatures leave them vulnerable to rotting and pests. Yet there’s little funding or interest in cassava — not commonly consumed outside the continent — while the African Development Bank has set aside $1 billion to boost production of far less hardy wheat. Other projects are underway: insurance for payouts, linked to NASA weather data, for livestock farmers; tailored weather alerts for farmers sent via mobile phones; and renewed interest in neglected but hardy crops. CGIAR, a global innovation network, is setting up gene banks and crossbreeding more productive strains from traditional dryland crops such as sorghum, millet and pigeon peas. The Washington Post