Africa Media Review for February 3, 2020

Burkina Faso: Gunmen Kill 20 Civilians in Attack
As many as 20 civilians have been killed in an overnight attack in north-western Burkina Faso. Unidentified heavily armed men on motorbikes carried out the attack in Lamdamol village in Seno province, north of the capital Ouagadougou, on Saturday night, AFP news agency says. The attack comes a week after 39 people were killed when militants attacked a market in the province of Soum. The Sahel region has seen an increase in jihadist violence in recent months. News of Saturday’s attack came as France announced it would send a further 600 soldiers to the Sahel region, bringing the total number of French troops to more than 5,000. Last year saw the highest death toll due to armed conflict in the region since 2012, with more than 4,000 people killed. The security crisis in the Sahel began when an alliance of separatist and Islamist militants took over northern Mali in 2012. France then launched a military intervention against them. Although a peace deal was signed in 2015, it was never fully implemented. New armed groups have since emerged and expanded to central Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, including groups linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group (IS). BBC

Hunger in Central Sahel Rising at Alarming Rate as Conflict Intensifies
The World Food Program warns millions of people in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso do not have enough to eat and are in desperate and immediate need of food aid. A recent U.N. food assessment in the Central Sahel finds 3.3 million people are going hungry, a rise of nearly 1 million since last year. World Food Program spokeswoman Elizabeth Byrs warns this alarming situation is expected to worsen without sustained humanitarian support. “The number of food-insecure people is expected to double as the June lean season gets underway, pushing 4.8 million people into hunger, up from 2.4 million in 2019,” she said. Hunger is wreaking havoc on the nutritional status of people in these countries. The U.N. Children’s fund reports more than 700,000 children under 5 suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition. The United Nations reports nearly a million people in the region have been displaced by conflict, which is devastating agriculture and rural economies. Many people are fleeing in search of food and grazing land for their cattle. Byrs tells VOA people are resorting to extreme measures to survive. “They skip meals. They sell their asset,” she said. “In some conflict-affected areas, some people have a lot of difficulty to find something to eat.” VOA

Seven Killed in New DR Congo Raid: NGO
Seven people died in a fresh attack by the Mai-Mai militia on three police posts in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled east, where more than 60 people have been killed in violence this week. Seven bodies were found and seven others were injured in the raids late Friday in Mamove in the volatile Beni region, The Centre for Studies to promote Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (CEPADHO) said Saturday. It was not clear if the dead were civilians or policemen. In the neighbouring Ituri province, militiamen attacked a hospital at Biakato, which was serving as an Ebola treatment centre. The UN’s Okapi radio said work at the centre had been suspended as a result. … The attackers were pushed back by UN peacekeepers and Congolese soldiers, sources said. Last week, the Amkeni radio station in Biakato was burnt down, Journalists Without Borders (RSF) said. Attacks on Ebola health workers and sites by armed groups and angry youths have paralysed work in the key zones of Beni, Biakato and Mangina. AFP

Three Nigerian Soldiers Killed in Jihadist Attack
Islamic State-affiliated jihadists have killed three Nigerian soldiers and seized two military vehicles in an attack in violence-wracked northeastern Borno state, security sources and residents said on Monday. Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), stormed into the town of Askira late Friday in a dozen pickup trucks fitted with machine guns, leading to clashes with troops and local vigilantes. “Our men repelled the terrorists but we lost three soldiers and two trucks,” a military officer told AFP, adding that the insurgents suffered “heavy casualties”, without giving a toll. Vigilante Adamu Galadima said an ambush was laid for the jihadists following information they were heading to the town. … On Sunday, ISWAP released a statement claiming it killed seven Nigerian troops and seized three vehicles in the Askira attack. ISWAP, which split from the Boko Haram jihadist group in 2016, has focused on targeting military installations and troops since mid-2018. Askira Uba district, which lies near Boko Haram’s Sambisa forest stronghold, has witnessed repeated jihadist attacks. The decade-long violence has killed 36 000 people in the northeast and displaced around two million from their homes, creating a dire humanitarian crisis. AFP

Nigeria: Despite Restriction on Fuel Supply to Border Communities, Smuggling, Extortion Still Rife
Last November the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Customs Service, Hammed Ali, placed an embargo on the supply of petroleum products to filling stations with 20 kilometres of Nigeria’s land borders. According to Customs, the ban was necessary to stop the smuggling of the products across the borders to neighbouring countries. The embargo was an extension of the closure of all land borders announced in last August. The Nigerian government explained that closure of the border was to protect the economy and to stop cross-border security breaches. A week-long investigation by PREMIUM TIMES across the country’s land borders in five of the country’s six geo-political zones (for safety reasons we did not cover insurgent-infested North East region of the country), revealed that the while the restriction on supply of petroleum products has been effective, it has exposed inhabitants of the communities within the embargo area to exploitation from security operatives, and hardship. … Our investigation also revealed that while the policy might have stopped the large-scale smuggling of petroleum products, small-scale cross border smuggling of petroleum and other products is still unabated in many of the border posts visited. Premium Times

Sudan Protesters Push for New State Structures
Tens of thousands of Sudanese took to the streets in the capital, Khartoum, to demand implementation of the country’s transitional authority structures. The Sudanese Professionals Association — an umbrella group of 17 different trade unions — organised a demonstration to demand that the Sudanese Council of Ministers appoint state governors. The demonstrators are urging the government to form a Parliament and to appoint civilian governors. … The Sudanese Professionals Association called for millions to come out for the protests in order to push for the completion of “the goals of the revolution and the structures of the transitional authority, by appointing state governors, forming the legislative council and forming independent commissions.” The formation of the legislative council was supposed to be done by November 17, according to the transitional constitutional document. … However, agreements between the Sudanese government and the armed forces last December led to the postponement of this step until a comprehensive peace agreement is reached, which guarantees power for the armed groups. The East African

Sudan Arrests More Islamist Figures
The Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) on Sunday said that the authorities arrested a leading member of the party in connection with the ongoing investigations on the 1989 coup that brought to power the ousted president, Omer al-Bashir. Omer Abdel-Marouf was taken from his home in al-Manshiya suburb in Khartoum state by a police force on Sunday, for questioning regarding participation in planning the coup, and then he was transferred to Kober Prison. He is the third PCP leader who is arrested under the Islamist coup’s investigation. The authorities have already arrested both PCP General Secretary Ali al-Haj and the head of the PCP Shura Council, Ibrahim al-Sanoussi. Abdel-Marouf was one of the Islamists that were actively involved in the coup that toppled the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in 1989. Sudan Tribune

Judgement Day: Malawians Await Ruling on Presidential Election Petition
Malawi’s Constitutional Court will on Monday deliver a ruling on last year’s disputed presidential election that led to deadly confrontations and widespread unrest. The long-peaceful southern African nation has never had a presidential vote overturned, but the two opposition candidates who teamed up for a legal challenge are hoping the Constitutional Court will agree with their allegations of irregularities and order a new vote. President Peter Mutharika was declared the narrow winner of the May election with 38% of votes, followed by Lazarus Chakwera with 35% and former vice president Saulos Chilima third with 20%. The four other candidates collectively got nearly 6%. The five-judge panel has heard arguments that the vote was rigged by the president and electoral commission. Both have denied it. … Mutharika and the electoral commission acknowledges some irregularities but argued they were insufficient to affect the election’s outcome. The months-long court case has been accompanied by sometimes violent street protests demanding the resignation of electoral commission chairwoman Jane Ansah. The Malawi Human Rights Commission late last year released a report accusing the police of serious human rights abuses, including rape and assault, in one confrontation. AP

Cameroon Crisis: ‘Federalism is the Solution,’ Says Opposition Leader Maurice Kamto
During his three-day trip to Paris, Maurice Kamto opened up to DW’s Mimi Mefo about his plans to boycott the upcoming election and his concern over the deteriorating situation in Cameroon’s Anglophone region. Over four months after his release from prison, Cameroon’s opposition leader Maurice Kamto is in Europe to meet with the diaspora community. He spoke with DW about his experience in jail, why he thinks open dialogue is an essential tool when it comes to solving the Anglophone crisis and the reasoning behind his decision to boycott the upcoming election in February. DW

Kidnapping of Students Sparks Anti-Government Protests in Ethiopia
Several thousand protesters took to the streets in Ethiopian cities this week, demanding Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed do more to tackle simmering ethnic violence following the kidnapping of a group of university students. Armed men abducted the students from Dembi Dollo University in the Oromiya region in early December, according to survivors who escaped. The government said earlier this week that the army had rescued 21 of the students, but at least 12 others are still missing. While the kidnappers’ identity or motive is not clear, the incident has revived widespread fears about ethnic violence ahead of this year’s election and intensified pressure on Nobel Peace Laureate Abiy, who comes from the Oromo ethnic group. Many of the students were Amhara, a group that has clashed with Oromos in the past. Reuters

EACJ to Rule in Suit against Museveni’s Bid to Extend Rule
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) is this week expected to make a critical ruling on Uganda President Yoweri Museveni’s bid to extend his 34-year rule of the country by contesting in next year’s General Election. In a petition filed by Kampala-based lawyer Male H. Mabirizi K. Kiwanuka, the EACJ has been asked to determine whether a decision by the Constitutional Court of Uganda to extend the presidential term and age limit is against the East African Community (EAC) Treaty on democracy and good governance. … One of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, President Museveni signed a Bill into law that removed the presidential age limit of 75 from the country’s Constitution following a vote by the Ugandan Parliament in 2017. The Ugandan Constitution, enacted in 1995, previously prohibited anyone younger than 35 or older than 75 from serving as president. The EACJ, whose decisions are binding on member states, has been viewed as an independent court whose recent decisions have rattled the EAC governments. The East African

Museveni, Kagame Resolve to Release Prisoners
A Sunday meeting between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Mr Paul Kagame, in Luanda Angola, has ended with resolutions to release prisoners and promises by the two administrations not to support “destabilisers” as well as protecting human rights. It was also agreed that an ad Hoc team would meet before the two heads of State meet again on February 21, at Katuna border, according to a tweet by Mr Don Wanyama, Mr Museveni’s press secretary. The meeting was convened to review the August 2019 peace pact that was signed by the two leaders in Angola. … This month makes it a year since the dispute came to the fore when Rwanda closed the Katuna border paralysing business and movement between the country and Uganda. Kigali accused Kampala of detaining her citizens and supporting armed groups that want to overthrow the government. Uganda said Rwanda had infiltrated her security agencies. The Daily Monitor

ECOWAS Court Orders The Gambia To Pay $100,000 For Arresting, Detaining 31 Peaceful Protesters
The Economic Community of West African States Court has ordered the government of The Republic of Gambia to pay the sum of $100,000 to citizens arrested, detained and tortured for embarking on a peaceful protest in 2016. The ECOWAS Court in Abuja also held that the arrest and prolonged detention of Ousainou N M Darboe and 30 others by the APRC regime was arbitrary and went beyond the limit permitted by the law of The Gambia before the applicants were brought to court. In the case with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/27/16 and presided over by a three-man panel headed by Justice Edward Amoako Asante, the 32 applicants prayed the court to declare that section 5 of the Public Order Act of the Republic of The Gambia Chapter 22-01 is in violation of Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. They are also seeking a declaration that their torture and/or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the respondent (The Gambian state) and its agents violated Articles 4 and 5 of the ACHPR. Sahara Reporters

Angola’s President Joao Lourenco Says ‘No Negotiations’ with Isabel dos Santos
Reports of corruption have blighted Angola since President Joao Lourenco took office in 2017, despite campaign promises to reform the economy and tackle graft. In the latest headline-grabbing scandal, Isabel dos Santos, known as Africa’s richest woman, was accused of using her father’s influence to help build a business empire worth an estimated $2.1 billion (€1.9 billion), in an affair widely known as the Luanda Leaks scandal. In an exclusive interview with DW’s Adrian Kriesch, the Angolan president spoke for the first time about the scandal. Lourenco said no one was exempt in the fight against corruption in Angola, and that there would be “no negotiations” with people who had allegedly taken their assets out of the country illegally. … Responding to criticism from opposition representatives who have said Angola’s justice system is still not independent, Lourenco said while it “may have been the case in the past…today they have absolute liberty to act. That is the reason why there are so many trials, particularly related to corruption.” DW

Once a Pariah, Eritrean President Comes Up with Regional Bloc Idea
Isaias Afwerki, the mustachioed Eritrean president, is not usually known for regional integration. Critics of the revolutionary who led his country to independence accuse him of dictatorship, a charge he denies. For the past two years, though, Afwerki’s traits appear to be changing. Even the UN, which had imposed sanctions on his regime, lifted them in 2018. Afwerki mended fences with Ethiopia following two decades of hostilities. This week, he hosted Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Mohamed Farmajo, the president of Somalia. … Some analysts told the Nation that the recent meeting points to where Afwerki’s prize is: influence in the Horn of Africa. After the tripartite summit, Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel tweeted that the leaders adopted a joint action plan for 2020. The plan, he said, would focus “on two main and intertwined objectives of consolidating peace, stability and security as well as promoting economic and social development”. “They also agreed to bolster efforts for effective regional co-operation,” he said. The Daily Nation

Lassa Fever Kills 41 in Nigeria amid Global Coronavirus Scare
Forty-one people have died in Nigeria since an outbreak of the highly contagious Lassa fever earlier this month, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said amid the already scary coronavirus outbreak that has killed scores of people around the world. Within the past week, the disease spread from nine to 19 states in the West African nation, while a total of 258 cases were confirmed between Jan. 1 and Jan. 26, including seven health workers, the centre said Tuesday. Lassa fever is a viral haemorrhagic fever with symptoms including weakness, headaches, vomiting and muscle pains and a fatality rate of about 1%, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The disease is endemic in parts of West Africa, where an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 infections of Lassa fever occur annually, with approximately 5,000 deaths, according to the U.S. Centres of Disease Control and Prevention. Daily Sabah

How Prepared is Africa for an Outbreak of Deadly Coronavirus?
Countries across Africa are ramping up measures to prevent an outbreak of a new coronavirus that has killed more than 250 in China and spread to several Asian countries, and as far afield as the United States, Europe and Australia. As scientists race to find a vaccine, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday declared a public health emergency of international concern amid rising fears the virus could reach countries with weak healthcare systems. … “We can be very certain that coronavirus will be exported to Africa,” said Ngozi Erondu, associate fellow of the Global Health Programme at Chatham House. “There is a large amount of travel between China and Africa; hubs such as Addis Ababa, Cairo and Nairobi are at particular risks due to the large amount of Chinese travellers that pass through these airports.” Speaking at the African Union headquarters on Tuesday, John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the institution was working closely with their Chinese counterparts, adding that, “We in Africa are watching the situation and also preparing ourselves to deal with any outbreak or cases.” Al Jazeera

Foreign Ministers to Meet on Libya in Mid-March – Germany’s Maas
Foreign ministers of countries seeking to broker a peace agreement in Libya are due to meet again in the middle of March, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Sunday. Foreign powers had agreed at a Jan 19 summit in Berlin to shore up a shaky truce in Libya. But rival factions failed to stick to ceasefire agreements and countries supporting either the eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar or the internationally recognised government headed by Fayez al-Serraj did not stop supplying weapons. “All foreign ministers present at the recent Libya conference in Berlin will meet again in mid-March,” Maas told German broadcaster ZDF. Reuters

Worsening Locust Invasion Threatens Food Security across East Africa
The worst locust outbreak that parts of East Africa have seen in 70 years needs some $76 million to help control and the money is “required by, actually, now,” the United Nations said Thursday. So far just $15 million has been mobilized to help stop the outbreak that threatens to worsen an already poor hunger situation for millions of people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and elsewhere, Dominique Bourgeon, emergencies director with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, told a briefing in Rome. “You can imagine that a country that has not seen such a thing in 70 years is not well prepared,” he said of Kenya, East Africa’s economic hub. The outbreak, blamed in part on a changing climate, now threatens to spread to South Sudan and Uganda and new rains in the weeks to come will fuel fresh vegetation and a new wave of breeding. The outbreak might not be under control until June when drier weather arrives, authorities have said. AP

Child Labor Continues to Rob Millions of Africans of their Childhoods
[Video] According to the UN, about 152 million children between 5 and 17 years old are engaged in child labor, 73 million of them are in Africa. The UN has called for an end to child labor, worldwide, by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal for the continent with for the highest rate of child labor in the world. VOA’s Jesusemen Oni takes a deeper look at the issue and the fight to restore the childhoods of millions across Africa. VOA

Nigeria is Becoming Africa’s Unofficial Tech Capital
frica has one of the world’s fastest growing tech markets and Nigeria is becoming its unofficial capital. While the West African nation is commonly associated with negative cliches around corruption and terrorism — which persist as serious problems, and influenced the Trump administration’s recent restrictions on Nigerian immigration to the U.S. Even so, there’s more to the country than Boko Haram or fictitious princes with inheritances. Nigeria has become a magnet for VC, a hotbed for startup formation and a strategic entry point for Silicon Valley. As a frontier market, there is certainly a volatility to the country’s political and economic trajectory. The nation teeters back and forth between its stereotypical basket-case status and getting its act together to become Africa’s unrivaled superpower. The upside of that pendulum is why — despite its problems — so much American, Chinese and African tech capital is gravitating to Nigeria. Tech Crunch



Photo: Adam Jones