Africa Media Review for February 2, 2022

Six Killed in Failed Coup in Guinea-Bissau, President Sees Link to Drugs
At least six people were killed in a failed attempt to overthrow Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, state radio said on Wednesday, as residents of the capital cautiously returned to daily life. The dead in Tuesday’s incident included four assailants and two members of the presidential guard, it said. Embalo had announced on Tuesday night that the situation was under control after gunfire rang out for more than five hours near a government compound where he was holding a cabinet meeting. The West African country, which has a population of about 2 million, has now seen 10 coups or attempted coups since independence from Portugal in 1974. Only one democratically elected president has completed a full term. West Africa has been hit by a string of military coups over the past 18 months, including two in Mali, one in Guinea and one in Burkina Faso just last week. The context appeared different in Guinea-Bissau. It remains unclear who was behind the attack but Embalo suggested it was linked to the government’s fight against drug trafficking rather than an army plan to seize power. … The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said the army was responsible, adding in a Twitter post on Wednesday: “I welcome the failure of the military coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau, which was an attack on democracy and the people.” Reuters

US Pauses $450M Aid for Burkina Faso over President’s Ouster
A U.S. government agency said Monday that it is pausing $450 million in assistance to the West African nation of Burkina Faso, where mutinous soldiers overthrew the democratically elected president last week. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. agency that provides grants and assistance to countries that meet standards for good governance, said its decision came because of the uprising against President Roch Marc Christian Kabore. “Burkina Faso military officers claim to have suspended the constitution and dissolved the government and national assembly,” the agency said in a statement. … Under U.S. law, if the State Department determines a democratically elected government has been ousted by unconstitutional means, all non-humanitarian U.S. aid must be suspended. … The pause in aid comes on the heels of Burkina Faso being suspended from the West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS and the African Union. A delegation from ECOWAS visited the country earlier this week and told the military leaders they need to transition quickly back to constitutional rule if they want its support. More decisions from the bloc are expected after a scheduled summit Thursday in Ghana. AP

Norway Scraps Sending Small Force to Mali: Minister
Norway’s defense minister announced Tuesday that the country had abandoned plans to send a contingent of troops to Mali, saying it was unable to reach an agreement with the military government in Bamako. “It has not been possible to achieve a sufficient legal framework with Mali that will protect the safety of our soldiers,” Defense Minister Odd Roger Enoksen told parliament. “As of today it is not possible to send a Norwegian force to Takuba,” he added, referring to a European force in Mali. The announcement coincides with mounting friction between France and its former colony that has stoked doubts about the future of French and European forces in the troubled country. Denmark last week announced the withdrawal of its contingent of some hundred men in response to a demand from the junta… Denmark’s contingent had just arrived to join Task Force Takuba — a 900-strong French-led unit launched in March 2020 that brings together special forces from European nations to advise Malian troops and assist them in combat. The Defense Post with AFP

‘Massive Detention Campaign’ by Sudan Junta
The Sudanese coup authorities have continued with a detention campaign against activists, members of resistance committees, lawyers, and human rights defenders. Activists monitored more than 65 detentions in Khartoum in the past few days, most of them without any legal procedures. The resistance committees in Northern State denounced in the strongest terms the detention of five members of the Khartoum Resistance Committees during their return from a visit to Dongola. In a statement yesterday, they reported that the five activists were deported to Dongola Prison that morning. They gave the state authorities 24 hours to release the detainees. Abdo Ali, member of the Dongola Resistance Committees Coordination, told Radio Dabanga that the detained activists from Khartoum paid a visit to the various places in Northern State, where the Sheryan El Shimal road, leading to the Egyptian border. The road has been barricaded by angry farmers and activists. When the visitors completed their visit at the barricaded road at the Kumanar checkpoint in El Borgeig locality, they were held by members of the General Intelligence Service (GIS). Radio Dabanga

Nigerian Military to Lead UNISFA Force for the First Time
UN Secretary-General appointed a Nigerian general to lead the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA), for the first time since its establishment in 2011. The international mission was established on June 27, 2011, in response to the urgent situation in the disputed border area less than two weeks ahead of the independence of South Sudan after the eruption of violence between the two sides. “United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (Tuesday) announced the appointment of Major General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr of Nigeria as Force Commander for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA),” reads a statement by the UN spokesperson. Sawyerr succeeds Maj Gen Kefyalew Amde Tessema of Ethiopia. The mission until now [has only been] headed and composed [of] Ethiopian military forces as was requested by the Sudanese government… However, following the deterioration of bilateral relations between Khartoum and Addis Ababa, Khartoum requested the withdrawal of the Ethiopian force from Abyei… Previously, Sawyerr served as Commandant of the Nigerian Army Armour School in Bauchi State in North-East Nigeria (2020-2021). Sudan Tribune

Hunger Crisis Looms in Nigeria’s ‘Food Basket’ amid Conflict
Here in Benue state, harvests of rice, yams and soybeans were once so bountiful that it was called the “food basket of Nigeria.” But waves of violence over the last several years have reduced crops in the northcentral state of Africa’s most populous nation. More than 1 million farmers in the state have been displaced because of the intercommunal violence between herders and farmers competing for water and land, say officials. “We are heading to a food crisis,” Benue state Gov. Samuel Ortom told The Associated Press. Across northern Nigeria, at least 13 million are now facing hunger amid a lean season, according to the U.N. World Food Program. The violence has also disrupted the sales of food as roads are too unsafe for farmers to transport crops and marketplaces have been razed by attackers. Rice production has dropped so much that its price has jumped more than 60% in Benue state as well as some other parts of the country. … Government officials insist they are working to make farmlands safe enough for people to return and work the land. They’re also trying to encourage nomadic herders to take up ranching so they are less at odds with farmers. AP

Nigerian Authorities Respond To Killings North of the Country
Nigerian authorities have sent security reinforcements to areas in three states where armed groups killed scores of people over the weekend. Nigerian police say the gangs targeted civilians and security personnel in Nigeria’s northwest and central states of Niger, Katsina and Kaduna. Security analysts say the attacks underscore authorities’ failure to stem violence in the regions. … Authorities said the gangs, referred to locally as bandits, killed 12 people in Katsina, 11 in Niger, and 11 in Kaduna states. Some of the victims were burned alive as the attackers rained terror on communities, razing down houses. … “We have beefed up security in that place. And what we’re doing also…areas that are closer (to the affected area) where we suspect bandits are there, we have also mobilized officers to those places and we’re monitoring,” said the Niger state police commissioner. Authorities have also deployed heavily armed security reinforcements to the affected areas in Kaduna and Katsina states. … Security analyst Kabiru Adamu says security threats will persist unless government’s forces dislodge forest hideouts known where the gangs usually take cover.

At Least 60 People Killed in Militia Attack in Eastern DR Congo
At least 60 people were killed in a militia attack on Wednesday morning at a displaced persons’ camp in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the head of a local humanitarian group and a witness said. Both sources told Reuters the CODECO militia was responsible for the killings, which took place about 0200 GMT at the Savo camp in Ituri province. CODECO fighters have killed hundreds of civilians in Ituri in recent years and forced thousands to flee their homes, according to the United Nations. Recent attacks have also targeted displaced persons camps. … The Savo displacement site was home to about 4,000 people in December, according to the U.N. migration agency. CODECO’s fighters are drawn mainly from the Lendu farming community, which has long been in conflict with Hema herders. Reuters

‘We Have to Prepare’: Tigray’s Neighbours on War Footing as Peace Remains Elusive
At the start of the year, on Ethiopian Christmas, the government released several high-profile political opponents from prison, including senior TPLF officials, in an act it described as “victor’s mercy.” On 26 January, it announced the lifting of a draconian state of emergency, imposed in November last year as Tigrayan forces fought their way to within 100 miles of the capital, Addis Ababa, before being pushed back by government forces abetted by newly purchased armed drones. … Yet Lalibela, like much of Amhara, the country’s second most populous region and the focus of fighting in recent months, remains on a war footing. Several schools and some of the town’s hotels remain occupied by troops, as well as many of the fields and mud-brick homes lining the road from the airport. Tesfa Habte, head of the local branch of the ruling party, says authorities will continue to train people for battle in case Tigrayan forces overrun Lalibela again, as they did twice last year. … fighting on several fronts has since continued unabated, with government forces conducting regular air assaults, including drone strikes on Tigray. On 8 January, at least 56 people were reportedly killed in an airstrike on a camp for internally displaced people, prompting aid agencies to suspend their work. A fortnight later, Ethiopia’s deputy army chief, in an apparent disavowal of official government policy, threatened that federal troops would return to “eliminate” the TPLF imminently. Then, on 25 January, the TPLF claimed they had been provoked into launching a new round of “robust” military operations in Afar. The Guardian

Tigray Conflict: What Do We Know about Drone Strikes in Ethiopia?
Dozens of people have been killed in airstrikes in the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray in recent months. Some of the attacks have involved the use of armed drones, and there’s growing concern about the number of civilian casualties. The government, which has been fighting rebels for over a year, says it has the right to use whatever arms it sees fit. It denies that it has targeted civilians. An air attack on a camp for internally displaced people in Dedebit in Tigray on 8 January, killed more than 50 people and left more than a hundred injured. Images of the aftermath – supplied to Politico by aid workers – have led open-source investigators to believe one weapon used in this incident could have been a missile fired from a Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone. Fragments – including wing pieces – appear to match those of a type fitted to these drones, according to researchers from the Netherlands-based Pax peace group and Amnesty International. The presence of Turkish drones in Ethiopia was revealed in December by Wim Zwijnenburg, an investigator who works with Pax. BBC

Investors Commit $10 Billion to Pump Uganda’s Oil Deposits
Uganda and a group of investors on Tuesday announced their decision to finally proceed with oil production following years of setbacks that threatened the East African country’s efforts to become an oil exporter. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the French energy conglomerate TotalEnergies said Tuesday that the investment in Uganda would be more than $10 billion. … But activists have attacked the pipeline project as “irresponsible,” saying it isn’t compatible with the goals of the Paris climate accord. Facing pressure to abandon its projects in Uganda, in 2021 TotalEnergies acknowledged “significant social and environmental stakes” posed by oil wells and the pipeline, pledging to proceed responsibly. The conglomerate has said it will limit oil extraction from a popular national park to less than 1% of the protected area. Critics also say the rights of local residents are at risk and that the pipeline, which would cross rivers and farmland, will damage fragile ecosystems. The pipeline project could cost more than 12,000 families their land rights, according to the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights, which has been tracking Uganda’s oil projects. Others have warned against the personalization of oil resources and heavy borrowing by national budget authorities anticipating oil revenue. AP

Cameroon Players Donate AFCON Knockout-Round Bonuses to Victims of Olembe Stadium Stampede
Players for Cameroon have asked federation president Samuel Eto’o if their bonuses for qualifying to the Africa Cup of Nations knockout stages can be donated to the victims of last Monday’s deadly stampede at the Olembe Stadium. Eight supporters were killed and a further 38 were injured — seven seriously — in a crush outside the stadium’s south entrance ahead of Cameroon’s round-of-16 win over Comoros. Each Cameroon player receives $85,000 (£63,000) for reaching the knockout rounds of the tournament. … Cameroon dedicated Saturday’s 2-0 quarterfinal win over Gambia to the victims of the disaster. The tournament hosts will now return to the Olembe to face Egypt in a semifinal match on Thursday. Burkina Faso and Senegal face off in the other semifinal at the Ahidjo Stadium the day prior on Wednesday. The final, also set for the Olembe, will be on Sunday. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) confirmed on Sunday that, after a hearing into the causes and circumstances around the crush, they had received the necessary assurances that additional safety measures would be implemented. ESPN



Photo: Adam Jones