Africa Media Review for February 10, 2022

Libyan PM Survives Assassination Attempt, Source Close to Him Says
Assailants struck Libyan Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah’s car with bullets early on Thursday but he escaped unharmed, a government source close to him said, amid intense factional wrangling over control of the government. The source said the incident happened as Dbeibah was returning home, describing it as a clear assassination attempt, adding that the attackers fled and the incident has been referred for investigation. Footage carried by regional Al Jazeera TV later showed what it said was Dbeibah’s vehicle, which had what appeared to be a bullet mark on the windscreen and two other marks on a headlight and the chassis. … If confirmed, an attempt to assassinate Dbeibah could aggravate the crisis over control of Libya after he said he will ignore a vote scheduled by the eastern-based parliament later on Thursday to replace him. Armed forces have mobilized more fighters and equipment in the capital over recent weeks, raising fears the political crisis could trigger fighting. … Dbeibah said in a speech this week that he would only hand over power after an election and the UN’s Libya adviser and Western countries have said they continue to recognize the GNU. Reuters

UN Court Orders Uganda to Pay DR Congo $325 Million in War Reparations
Judges at the International Court of Justice on Wednesday ruled that Uganda must pay $325 million in reparations to the Democratic Republic of Congo for its role in conflicts in Congo’s resource-rich Ituri province. … Uganda must pay the sum in five yearly instalments of $65 million to start in September of this year, she added. The total award is far short of the over $11 billion, Congo had asked for, but the court dismissed several claims including all the claims for macroeconomic damage saying there was insufficient evidence to support Congo’s calculations. The long-running dispute was first brought before the United Nations’ highest court in 1999. After lengthy proceedings, the court ruled in 2005 that Uganda had violated international law by occupying parts of the eastern Congolese province with its own troops and supporting other armed groups during a war that raged from 1998 to 2003. The court ordered the African neighbours to negotiate reparations, but in 2015 Congo returned to the tribunal, saying the talks had stalled. On Wednesday the court ruled on the final compensation amount. Reuters

General Accused of Rights Abuses Made Ugandan Head of Police
Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has appointed a former military intelligence chief, who is blacklisted by the US over alleged rights violations, to lead the country’s feared police force. Uganda’s police and military have been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, torture and assassination. Much of the repression has been directed at opposition activists contesting the 36-year rule of Museveni. The appointment of Maj Gen Abel Kandiho, who was recalled late on Tuesday from a new role as security envoy in South Sudan barely two weeks after being moved from his post as head of military intelligence, is a show of defiance towards the US and other western nations that have been critical of the deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda. … The US treasury hit Kandiho with sanctions last December alleging that he had presided over the arrest, detention and physical abuse of Ugandans “due to their nationality, political views, or critique of the Ugandan government.” … adding that in some cases Kandiho was personally involved, leading interrogations of detained individuals. … Last year, lawyers acting for the victims of a wave of abductions and torture by security forces in Uganda named senior military commanders, including Kainerugaba, in a complaint to the international criminal court. The Guardian

Ugandan Author Kakwenza Vows to Return from Exile
An award-winning Ugandan author and fierce government critic who fled the country after being “tortured” in custody told AFP on Thursday he planned to return home despite his ordeal. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 33, slipped out of Uganda on Wednesday to seek treatment abroad for his injuries, ahead of a criminal trial in a case that has triggered international concern. The satirical novelist is facing charges over a series of unflattering social media posts about veteran President Yoweri Museveni and his powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba. … Since he fled, Rukirabashaija has been tweeting relentlessly, even becoming embroiled in a Twitter spat with Kainerugaba whom he accused of being “in charge” of his torture and branding him a “baby despot.” … His case has raised concern from United States, the European Union and civil society groups, and has highlighted the state of human rights in the East African country. … On Monday, the EU released a statement expressing concern over “a significant increase of reports of torture, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, harassment as well as attacks against human rights defenders, members of the opposition and environmental rights activists.” AFP

Sudanese Security Forces Arrest FFC Figures
In an escalating crackdown against political opponents, the Sudanese authorities Wednesday arrested the former cabinet affairs minister and two former members of the Empowerment Removal Committee (ERC). For nearly a week, unconfirmed reports said that an order had been issued to arrest some leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) as part of the ongoing clampdown by the military rulers to end the anti-coup movement. On Wednesday, the security forces arrested a prominent member of the Committee Wagdi Salih who is also an outspoken opponent of the military coup. The ERC Secretary-General al-Tayeb Osman Youssef was also arrested with him. Two hours later, another security forces stormed a meeting of the Sudanese Congress Party (SCoP) leadership at their headquarters in Khartoum and arrested Khalid Omer Youssef, the former minister of the cabinet affairs. … For his part, the Secretary-General of the National Umma Party, al-Wathiq al-Brair, said the targeting of the FFC leaders is a continuation of the practices of the former regime and its attempt to distort their image. He stressed they would keep struggling to restore democracy in the country. ST

There Is Hope for Peace in Ethiopia, UN Says
The UN on Wednesday expressed hope that the ongoing peace talks between the Ethiopian government and Tigray leaders will lead to an end to the conflict. After visiting the war-torn regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar, UN Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed said there are promising developments in the talks and discussions between the warring factions are “less hostile.” “We are definitely in a better position right now. There are more discussions,” Ms Mohammed told reporters at a news conference in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. “There is certainly less hostility than there was a few months ago.” On her visit to war affected regions, Ms Mohammed was accompanied by African Union mediator Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also a former president of Nigeria. During a meeting with women and students in the regions, the UN official stressed that the organisation will not tolerate sexual and gender-based violence. She urged women to be involved in rehabilitation work, noting that women and children were the greatest victims of the Ethiopian war. … The UN envoy called for inclusive national dialogue… The UN says nearly 40 percent of people in Tigray are suffering from an extreme lack of food. The EastAfrican

Russian Mercenaries To Start Collecting Coffee Tax In Central African Republic
The Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Security Group in the Central African Republic have taken over the collection of taxes on coffee being exported to other countries. According to locals in places like Bria and Ndele, the Russian mercenaries are now in charge of taxation of agricultural export products such as cocoa and coffee. They told HumAngle that tax on each ton of coffee destined for export, which hitherto was extorted from producers by armed groups, especially the Seleka and Anti-Balaka, has been taken over by the Wagner Security Group. Before the armed groups forcefully took over tax collection on agricultural exports, it was the responsibility of the Office de Réglementation de la Commercialisation et du Controle de Conditionnement des Produits Agricoles (ORCCPA). … “With this new behaviour by the Russians which was exactly what the armed groups were doing and which was condemned by almost everybody including the Russians, we the people of the Central African Republic are beginning to ask whether the Russians are here to help us or to serve the regime in power fill the pockets of their leaders and their Russian allies,” said Reuben Bindolo, who identified himself as a human rights activist. HumAngle

Five Rangers, Soldier Killed in Attack in Benin, Park Management Says
Five rangers and a soldier were killed and 10 others wounded in an ambush by unnamed militants in a northern Benin park on Tuesday, the park’s management said in a statement on Wednesday. “In the afternoon of Tuesday Feb. 8, a team of rangers was ambushed in W National Park in Benin, while carrying out a patrol at the northern limit of the Park where it intersects with Burkina Faso and Niger,” African Parks said. Tuesday’s attack was the deadliest in a series of recent incidents blamed on militants in the north of the country, increasing fears about widening Islamist violence. African Parks, the South African non-profit group that manages the W National Park and the Pendjari National Park, said reinforcements from Benin’s army and additional rangers have been deployed on the ground. Benin is among the West African coastal countries considered most vulnerable to a spillover of Islamist violence from the landlocked Sahel countries, where groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State exert influence over vast tracts of territory. Two soldiers were killed and several others wounded in an attack in northern Benin in December. A Benin army vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in a national park near the border with Burkina Faso in January. Reuters

Kenyan President Kenyatta Takes Over as Chair of AU Climate Change Committee
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has been named the new chairperson for the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC). Kenya’s State House made the announcement on Twitter on the last day of the 35th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Mr Kenyatta takes on the mantle as chairperson from South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa who, in his virtual congratulatory message, said Kenya is up to the task for being “a leading voice on issues of climate change in Africa.” Kenya, under President Kenyatta’s tenure, is one of the African countries that has submitted an update of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) as a requirement by the Paris Agreement to show individual country effort on climate action. The appointment is ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) that will be held in Egypt later this year. … Already, the impact of climate change is alive in Africa as global warming is contributing to longer droughts, flooding and cyclones. The EastAfrican

Senegal Facility Set to Begin COVID-19 Vaccine Production
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed stark vaccine inequities among high- and low-income nations and has underscored Africa’s dependence on outside countries for shots. A new initiative in Senegal, however, hopes to reduce that inequity and make the continent more vaccine self-sufficient. Senegal administered its first doses to the public in March 2021, months after COVID-19 vaccines had become available in the West. Since then, supplies repeatedly have run dry in Senegal and other African countries that have relied on the international community for the vaccines. Today, 11% of Africans are fully vaccinated, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared with 64% in the U.S, according to the U.S. CDC, and 85% in Britain, according to the U.K.’s government’s coronavirus dashboard. But scientists are aiming to change that. Last week, scientists in South Africa announced they had successfully made a copy of the Moderna vaccine, and a new initiative at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar is on a similar track. The institute has partnered with BioNTech to build a production facility for its mRNA vaccines. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones