Africa Media Review for December 7, 2021

Sudanese Hold 8th Anti-Coup Protests
Thousands of Sudanese demonstrated in Khartoum and several regions, on Monday, against the Hamdok al-Burhan agreement three years after the spark of protests against the former al-Bashir regime. … The slogans adopted by the Resistance Committees and chanted by the protesters were the rejection of negotiations with the military junta, no recognition of their coup of October 25 and no participation in the government that Abdallah Hamdok would form based on the November 21 deal with the coup leaders. “No negotiation, No legitimacy and No participation.” [Hamdok,] after his reinstitution, directed the police chiefs several times to avoid the use of violence to disperse the protests stressing the need to ensure the freedom of expression. However, the Security forces which were heavily deployed in Central Khartoum used tear gas to break up another demonstration near the presidential palace in Khartoum. Also, some gangs armed with knives and batons sought to disperse protesters in Siteen (Sixty) Street one of the main streets in the capital… The use of criminal gangs against demonstrators coincides with the recent appointment of Ahmed Ibrahim Mufaddal as the new director of the General Intelligence Service on November 27. Mufaddal… [a] known Islamist… was the former deputy director of the dissolved National Intelligence and Security Services. The armed gangs were used by the security services during the al-Bashir era to attack protesters. Sudan Tribune

7th Edition of Dakar Forum for Peace and Security Opens in Senegal
The 7th edition of the Dakar Peace and Security Forum open[ed Monday] and focuses on the impact of Covid-19 across the continent as well as cybersecurity, terrorism, and climate change. The yearly Dakar International Forum for Peace and Security was founded at the France-Africa Summit in Paris in 2013 and has become, in the intervening years, a key event for decision makers involved in Africa, according to the Forum’s website. Organisers of the event include the government of Senegal, the Paris-based economic intelligence agency Avisa Partners, and Cheds, a Senegalese defence think tank headed by Brigade General Mbaye Cissé. … Forum organiser François-Charles Timmerman of Avisa Partners, told RFI that Africa has found itself isolated because of Covid-19. He pointed out that the export of raw materials is now nearly impossible while imports of processed products are at a standstill because of the pandemic. “It would have been totally inconsistent to continue to talk about peace and security without taking into account health issues,” he said. RFI

Leaders: Africa’s COVID-19 Fight Is Vital for World Security
Speaking at the Dakar International Forum for Peace and Security, President Cypril Ramaphosa said the restrictions are punishing the very people and governments that helped inform the world of a new coronavirus variant. “When South African scientists discovered omicron … they immediately took on the responsibility of informing the world, the entire world, that a new variant is coming through. And what is the result?” he asked, replying that is was punishment. … Ramaphosa said the travel restrictions affect struggling economies in the region that rely on tourism. The pandemic, access to vaccines and inequalities for the African continent were major points for the leader in addressing peace and security for the continent. He spoke beside Senegalese President Macky Sall, Niger President Mohamed Bazoum and African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, among other world leaders, who addressed issues of insecurity, the pandemic and what is needed to move the continent forward. … “The most critical aspect at this time, however, is the ongoing negotiation at the World Trade Organization for a temporary waiver of the trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights agreement for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines,” he said. AP

Ethiopia Government Claims Recapture of Key Towns
Ethiopia’s government said on Monday it had recaptured two strategic towns from rebel fighters, the latest in a rapid series of battlefield victories claimed by forces loyal to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The announcement marks another dramatic twist in the 13-month-old conflict that has killed thousands of people and triggered a deep humanitarian crisis in the north of Africa’s second-most populous nation. The government’s communications service said on Twitter that Dessie and Kombolcha had been “freed by the joint gallant security forces” that had also taken control of several other towns on the eastern front. The two cities, which lie in the Amhara region on a highway about 400 kilometres (250 miles) by road northeast of the capital Addis Ababa, were reportedly taken by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) at the end of October. Their capture had sparked fears that the TPLF and its ally, the Oromo Liberation Army, would march on the capital, leading alarmed foreign governments to urge their citizens to leave the country as soon as possible. AFP

UN Chief Names American Stephanie Williams as Libya Adviser
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced the appointment Monday of American diplomat Stephanie Williams, who led talks that resulted in the October 2020 cease-fire deal in Libya, to support the holding of presidential elections in the oil-rich north African country scheduled later this month which face many challenges. Her appointment as the special adviser to the U.N. chief on Libya — a new position — follows the Nov. 23 announcement that the U.N. special envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, was resigning after 10 months on the job. The Geneva-based Kubis told the Security Council he was leaving to facilitate a change he considers vital: moving the mission chief’s job to Libya’s capital, Tripoli, to be on the ground at a high-stakes moment for the country. Libya is set to hold the first round of presidential elections on Dec. 24, after years of U.N.-led attempts to usher in a more democratic future and end the country’s civil war. … As head of the U.N. mission in Libya known as UNSMIL, Dujarric said Williams will also pursue implementation of the intra-Libyan dialogue on political, security and economic issues. AP

Uganda Shores Up DRC Base to Hunt Down Rebels Blamed for Kampala Attacks
Ugandan forces were on Monday shoring up supply routes into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo where its army has set up an advance base to track down ADF rebels blamed for deadly attacks in Kampala. Just before the entrance to Virunga Park in the east of the DRC, rows of army tents sprang up in the village of Mukakati. About 13 kilometres (eight miles) from the base is the Nobili border crossing, through which columns of Ugandan soldiers, 4x4s, tarpaulin-covered trucks, tankers, armoured vehicles and heavy machine guns have been passing every day for almost a week, tearing up the dirt road. … Early on the morning of November 30, Ugandan aircraft and artillery pounded areas where bases of the Allied Democratic Forces had been spotted. The ADF, which traces its origins back to Uganda and has been active since 1995 in the eastern DRC, where it is considered the most deadly of the armed groups operating in the region, is responsible for the massacre of thousands of civilians, kidnappings and looting. After the Ugandan jet strikes, both countries’ armies said they were following up ground searches. AFP

US Slaps Sanctions on DRC National over Gertler Ties
The United States Treasury on Monday slapped sanctions on a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 12 entities linked to him for allegedly providing support to blacklisted Israeli mining magnate Dan Gertler. DRC national Alain Mukonda is accused by the US Department of the Treasury of opening bank accounts for Gertler and making payments into proxy bank accounts for him and a close associate of his. The Treasury claims Mukonda made 16 cash deposits totalling between $11m and $13.5m into accounts of companies he incorporated that ultimately belonged to Gertler’s family and redomiciled several of Gertler’s firms from Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands to the DRC. “Treasury is committed to supporting the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s anti-corruption efforts by going after those that abuse the political system for economic gain and unfairly profit from the Congolese state,” said Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury Wally Adeyemo in a statement. “Treasury recognizes that corruption fuels instability and conflict, and undercuts efforts to achieve the economic growth and the rule of law necessary to overcome fragility.” Al Jazeera

Nigerian Air Force Destroys Houses, Farms in Poor Benue Community despite Court Order
… Mr Atoo’s experience is connected to an old dispute between the Nigerian Air Force and the Tse-Poor community in the Ugondo District of Makurdi, the capital of the largely agrarian Benue State in North-central Nigeria. The air force had established a base in 1977 in Makurdi, taking about 4000 hectares of land. But the community people, who are mostly farmers, resisted the take over of their land without compensation and continued to farm on portions of the land. The Tse-Poor community say that about 187 hectares of the acquired land belong to them. The latent crisis flared when the air force decided to fence the land, saying encroachment by farmers was disrupting its operations. … In an interlocutory injunction in March this year, the state High Court in Makurdi restrained the NAF from erecting a perimeter fence on the disputed land and destroying property and economic trees at Tse-Poor, pending the determination of the substantive suit. “The court is of the opinion that in view of the above facts, the status quo be maintained pending the determination of the substantive action,” the judge, Sampson Itodo, held in the interlocutory order issued on March 5. But, in disobedience to the ruling, the Nigerian Air Force stormed Tse-Poor to pull down dozens of houses and fence off residents from their farms. Armed personnel returned to the area on September 22 to destroy more farms on the disputed land. Premium Times

Armed Gangs Raise Risks in Vaccinating Rural Nigerians
Yunusa Bawa rolled his motorcycle away from the health care clinic where he works in Kuje, southwest of Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, and secured a black box of COVID-19 vaccine for the rough ride ahead. The rocky and rugged pathway — Bawa described it as a road that “will make you tired” — was the least of his worries. Kidnapping along the route by armed gangs is rampant, he added. But such trips are essential if Africa’s most populous country is to reach its ambitious goal of fully vaccinating 55 million of its 206 million people in the next two months. As the emergence of the omicron variant underscores the importance of inoculating more people to prevent new mutations of the coronavirus, Nigeria also is facing a difficult path: Only 3.78 million are fully vaccinated. Going directly to the villagers is one way to overcome any hesitancy they might have in getting the shots, said Bawa, 39. “When you meet them in their home, there is no problem,” he added. “Everybody will take (the vaccine).” … Armed groups in northwestern and central parts of Nigeria have killed hundreds of people this year and kidnapped thousands, seeking ransoms. In areas not beset by violence, delayed payments to workers who transport and administer the vaccine remains “a big challenge for us,” said Dr. Rilwanu Mohammed, the top government official leading vaccination efforts in Bauchi state in Nigeria’s northeast. AP

Malaria Deaths Rise by 69,000 in 2020 Due to COVID-19 Disruptions, Says WHO
Healthcare disruptions linked to the coronavirus pandemic resulted in 69,000 more malaria deaths in 2020 than the previous year. Still, a worst-case scenario was averted, the World Health Organisation said on Monday. In total, over 627,000 people globally – most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa – were killed by malaria last year compared with 558,000 in 2019, the WHO said in its annual malaria report. … The WHO said about two-thirds of the additional malaria deaths in 2020 were due to coronavirus restrictions disrupting prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria. But efforts to maintain health services meant Sub-Saharan Africa did not see the doubling of malaria deaths in 2020 that the WHO had warned was a possibility. Instead, the number of deaths in the region rose by 12% compared with 2019, according to WHO data. “Thanks to urgent and strenuous efforts, we can claim that the world has succeeded in averting the worst-case scenario of malaria deaths,” said Pedro Alonso, director of the WHO’s global malaria programme. Experts hope the fight against malaria might gain considerable ground following the WHO’s recommendation in October that RTS,S – or Mosquirix – a vaccine developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline should be widely given to children in Africa. Reuters

‘Waiting for Jail’: Rwandan YouTuber Defies Personal Risks
There is nothing glamorous about being a YouTuber in Rwanda, says John Williams Ntwali, whose channel Pax TV is a year old. The pay is poor, the threats frequent and the risk of prison all too real. Ntwali has been arrested multiple times during his two-decade career as a journalist, but now fears that even YouTube, which had established itself as a rare outlet for critical reporting in Rwanda, is losing ground to an authoritarian government. “We are leaning towards the closure of YouTube channels, not by shutting down YouTube or the internet but by imprisoning those who work on YouTube,” he told AFP in an interview. YouTubers who discuss beauty, sports or shopping have little to worry about, but those who focus on politics and current affairs are in an increasingly precarious position, he said. “It’s getting more restrictive.” Unlike many YouTubers around the world, the 40-something is careful not to share any personal information about himself or his family, for safety reasons. In fact, he rarely appears on Pax TV, which has secured 1.5-million views and is nicknamed the “voice of the voiceless” for its interviews with critics and dissenters in the national Kinyarwanda language. … in recent weeks, speculation has mounted that the government is in discussions with Google about shutting down a number of YouTube channels. Neither Google nor the Rwandan authorities responded to AFP’s requests for comment on the reports, which follow a string of arrests of prominent YouTubers in recent months. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones