Africa Media Review for December 8, 2022

African Biodiversity Loss Raises Risk to Human Security
The conversion of natural habitat to low yielding cultivated land is the dominant driver of biodiversity loss in Africa. In arid and semi-arid regions, biodiversity losses and ecosystem degradation affects the quality of the soil and vegetation impacting agricultural output. The loss of grass-dominated biomes further reduces rangeland, impacting animal husbandry. Growing land pressure is contributing to population displacements and the escalation of farmer-herder conflicts. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Chad’s Coup Leader Stops Democracy in Its Tracks
On Monday, after four days of legal proceedings at the Koro Toro prison in northern Chad, the country’s public prosecutor announced that 262 people had been sentenced to between two and three years in prison and another 80 people to one to two years on charges of unauthorized gathering, destruction of property, arson, and disturbing public order during pro-democracy protests on Oct. 20…As these pressures intensify, Chadians will likely continue their campaign for a system of democracy and governance that can handle these challenges. “The really crucial thing to note about the Oct. 20 mobilizations is that they were indicative of the demand for democracy across the country,” said Daniel Eizenga, a research fellow at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. “They were also extremely large in scale despite everyone having very clear knowledge of what the risks were.” Foreign Policy

Africa and the Middle East United Behind Morocco
Morocco have become the first ever Arab nation to reach a World Cup quarterfinal and the first African side to do so since Ghana in 2010. In Doha, the Atlas Lions have support from across Africa and the Middle East…When a European country is eliminated from a World Cup, supporters tend to follow the rest of the tournament rather passively, interested more in the overall outcome rather than the fortunes of other European teams. Indeed, they’re more likely to take a greater interest in a side from a different confederation such as Brazil or Argentina. But not in Africa. While African fans might support their own nation primarily, it’s not uncommon to hear them say they’re supporting all the African teams, even putting aside certain rivalries. DW

US Expands Visa Restriction Those Seeking to Spoil Sudan’s Framework Agreement
The U.S. State Department decided on Wednesday to expand the policy of restricting entry visas to include Sudanese seeking to spoil the framework agreement and democratic transition in the country. Civilian and military leaders in Sudan signed a framework agreement to establish a civilian transitional government, but the deal faces opposition from supporters of the former regime,  anti-military groups and those who consider the deal detrimental to their interests. Considering the fragility of the political situation, and in order to keep pressure on all the parties to move forward and achieve the second phase of the process, Washington decided to expand the visa restriction as a measure to demonstrate their continued support for the pro-democracy forces. Sudan Tribune

UN Warns of “Catastrophic Emergency” in Somalia
The UN Humanitarian coordinator for Somalia warned on Tuesday of a “catastrophic emergency” in the country due to the ongoing drought. Speaking on Tuesday at a joint meeting between the UN and the League of Arab States, the coordinator said Somalia was suffering from its fifth consecutive failed rainy season. “The end to the emergency is nowhere in sight. As we gather here today, approximately 7.8 million Somalis, and that is nearly half of its population, have been affected by the drought and nearly 1.3 million people have been displaced since January 2021, 6.7 million people are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity. That is by the end of this coming year”, said Adam Abdelmoula, UN Humanitarian coordinator for Somalia. AfricaNews

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Shocks Mogadishu with 20-Hour Standoff
Al-Shabaab gunmen on Sunday, 27 November, stormed a hotel next to Villa Somalia in Mogadishu, the official residence of Somalia’s president. Several government ministries and both houses of Parliament are nearby…They held the hotel for 20 hours, battling with state security into Monday morning. Eight civilians were killed in the fighting. At least four cabinet ministers were caught in the siege, along with at least 60 other people…Since September, Al-Shabaab has lost dozens of towns it once controlled. It appeared to be on the back foot. But the daring attack on the Villa Ray Hotel has shaken Somalia’s elite, and brought this narrative into question. Mail & Guardian

South Sudan’s Ruling Party Endorses President Kiir as Candidate for Another Term
South Sudan’s ruling party on Wednesday endorsed President Salva Kiir as its candidate for another term in the elections that will be held at the end of 2024. Kiir has been the country’s only president since it gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the country’s 2011 provisional constitution did not provide a presidential term limit. South Sudan has since grappled with a five-year civil war and the slow implementation of a peace deal signed in 2018. Anadolu Agency

‘Ebola Could Have Wiped Us All’: Slow Lockdown Haunts Uganda
As an outbreak of Ebola swept through central Uganda in late September, government officials were willing to do anything to contain the virus except take one crucial step: impose a lockdown. This was radically different from their response during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, when Uganda introduced some of the most restrictive shutdowns in Africa by closing borders, banning public transportation and shutting schools for two years — one of the longest such shutdowns worldwide. Officials in Uganda, a landlocked nation in East Africa, now acknowledge that they hesitated to impose similar restrictions in the recent Ebola outbreak because of the lingering anger, resentment and trauma over the strict Covid measures. They worried that another harsh response to an epidemic could spark protests, batter an economy already under strain and alienate a weary population inundated with misinformation about the dangers — and even the existence — of the Ebola virus. New York Times

Who Paid the Price for Uganda’s Refugee Fraud Scandal (and Who Didn’t)?
In 2018, as Uganda was catering for hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese escaping conflict across the border, a major corruption and mismanagement scandal hit the country’s widely praised refugee programme. The scandal, which implicated both government officials and the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), made global headlines. Yet almost five years on, many of those most involved appear to have avoided legal or professional repercussions, Kristof Titeca, an associate professor of international development at the University of Antwerp in Belgium, believes. New Humanitarian

Sao Tome PM Believes ‘Extrajudicial Executions’ Occurred After Coup Bid
The prime minister of the tiny West African state of Sao Tome and Principe said “extrajudicial executions” occurred after the army thwarted a coup last month. “We have had, from our point of view, an attempted coup d’etat. The armed forces stopped this attempt,” Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada said during a visit to Portugal, the archipelago’s former colonial power. “After the end of the operation, some hours afterwards, there were what we think were extrajudicial executions, the execution of people who were key witnesses,” he said in an interview published Wednesday by the Portuguese agency LUSA. “At the very least, there was a failure in command. People placed under the responsibility of the armed forces cannot die — they are in detention,” he said. AFP

Nigeria to Limit Cash Withdrawals to $225 a Week
Nigeria’s central bank has imposed restrictions on weekly cash withdrawals to limit the use of cash in an apparent bid to curb counterfeiting and discourage ransom payments to kidnappers. Under a new policy announced late on Tuesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said that weekly cash withdrawals for individuals had been slashed to 100,000 Nigerian naira ($225) from 2.5 million naira ($5,638). Al Jazeera

Cameroon Hands Road Construction to Military Following Separatist Attacks, Abduction
Cameroon’s military has taken over construction of roads linking its troubled western regions to Nigeria after what it said were repeated separatist attacks. The military says the rebels abducted eight people this week, including road workers, who were abandoning work sites due to insecurity. Cameroon says scores of government troops and road construction equipment of its military engineering corps are moving from Yaounde to at least six western towns and villages on the border with Nigeria. The equipment that departed the capital Tuesday includes loaders, bulldozers, dump trucks and compactors, the military says. Voice of America

African Analysts Welcome ECOWAS Peacekeeping Force but Skeptical of Success
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) agreed at a summit this week to establish a regional peacekeeping force to fight terrorism and restore democracy after military coups…ECOWAS member nations also are battling jihadist fighters operating across borders, making it difficult for individual nations’ security forces to address. Security analyst and editor-in-chief of the Security Digest newspaper Chidi Omeje said there will be initial challenges. “This is a purely unconventional kind of warfare, you don’t even know the boundaries or who your adversaries are. So, how would such a standby force identify adversaries?” Omeje said. “We have the anglophone and the francophone, these two blocks always have this mutual suspicion for each other, they have different perspectives in the way that they deal with each other.” Voice of America