Africa Media Review for January 19, 2021

More Than 80 People Killed in West Darfur Attack
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on authorities to protect citizens in Sudan’s West Darfur after unknown armed men killed more than 80 people and injured at least 160 others in the Krinding refugee camp and elsewhere in Genena, the capital of Sudan’s West Darfur state, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency. Governor Mohamed Abdallah Al Douma also deployed hundreds of troops across the state to restore security. A statement issued by Guterres’ spokesperson said the head of the world body “expresses his deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.” The trouble began Friday when a member of the Masalit tribe killed a member of an Arab tribe in a personal dispute, Douma said. He said the killer was arrested and the state public prosecutor opened an investigation into what happened. Early Saturday morning, armed men from different parts of Darfur planned and launched what appeared to be revenge attacks, Douma said. VOA

Bobi Wine to Legally Contest Uganda Vote, Urges Non-violence
Ugandan opposition candidate Bobi Wine says he will legally contest the results of the presidential election that saw incumbent President Yoweri Museveni announced the winner, asking his supporters to refrain from violence. Bobi Wine made the announcement on Sunday via the Twitter account belonging to his National Unity Platform (NUP) party, hours after the country’s election commission said Museveni won the vote with 58.6 percent of the vote. According to the commission, Bobi Wine secured just 34.8 percent. Security personnel and police were out in force patrolling the capital Kampala and an internet blackout, ordered by the government the day before the election, was still in place. “I take this painful but nonetheless inevitable leadership decision of urging you to desist from any form of violence as we prepare to challenge the election outcome and its glaring imperfections through the courts of law for the sake of our long-term victory and for Uganda,” he said. … In the run-up to the vote, local civil society groups and foreign governments questioned its credibility and transparency after scores of requests for accreditation to monitor the election were denied. Al Jazeera

Uganda’s Opposition Leader Bobi Wine under ‘House Arrest’ after Disputed Vote, Party Says
Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine remains under “house arrest”, his party said on Sunday, after a disputed election returned President Yoweri Museveni to office for a sixth term. The former ragga singer turned lawmaker came second in the presidential election, and has said the process was marred by widespread fraud and violence. He has not left his home since he went out to vote in the election on Thursday, and on Friday said he was under “siege” as soldiers and police surrounded his home, preventing anyone from entering or leaving. “Our leader … is effectively under house arrest,” National Unity Platform spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi told a press conference, adding no one was being allowed access. … A Twitter update under Wine’s account, written by an administrator as Uganda remains under an internet blackout for a fifth day, said the couple had “run out of food supplies.” The party said prominent MP, Francis Zaake, who had been arrested during an attempted visit to Wine’s house on Friday, had been admitted to hospital “badly beaten and brutalised” by security forces. AFP

Uganda Election: Internet Restored but Social Media Blocked
Ugandans are celebrating the resumption of internet services after a shutdown was imposed ahead of last week’s election. However, social media platforms remain blocked and are only accessible using Virtual Private Networks (VPN). President Yoweri Museveni, who won an unprecedented sixth term in office, had accused the platforms of being biased. Bobi Wine, presidential candidate for the opposition National Unity Platform, alleged the poll was marred by fraud. The party’s spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi accused Mr Museveni of shutting down the internet to prevent them from sharing evidence of fraud. He told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the party was in the process of collecting election results forms that have evidence of irregularities. Mr Ssenyonyi told the Reuters news agency that NUP’s offices had been raided. BBC

Uganda: Bobi Wine Calls on the International Community
Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine urged the international community on Sunday to call for the lifting of his “house arrest” the day after the announcement of the disputed results of the presidential election that reappointed President Yoweri Museveni for a sixth term in office. He also called for international sanctions against the President, the release of political prisoners, an international audit of the election, for “all nations to review their relations with Uganda and the restoration of the internet — since reinstituted with social media access blocked and only accessible by VPN. … Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, claims he has videos of ballot-box stuffing, soldiers forcing voters to choose or pre-checked ballots. AfricaNews/AFP

Tunisia Arrests over 600, Deploys Army after Violent Protests
Tunisian authorities have arrested more than 600 people after a third consecutive night of riots in several cities throughout the North African country, officials said on Monday. Defense ministry spokesman Mohamed Zikri said the army has deployed troops in several areas including Bizerte in the north, Sousse in the east and Kasserine and Siliana in central Tunisia. Riots erupted after the Tunisian government imposed a nationwide lockdown on Thursday — the same day as it marked the 10th anniversary of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall from power during the Arab Spring — to curb a surge in coronavirus infections. The Tunisian defense ministry said that the situation was “calm” on Monday, according to the Associated Press. … The unrest comes at a time many Tunisians are already increasingly dissatisfied with the lack of change since the Arab Spring broke out at the end of 2010. The country is suffering from a weakening economy, with one third of young people unemployed. GDP contracted by nine percent in 2019 and consumer prices have skyrocketed. Citizens are also frustrated over poor public services. DW

Ethiopia Tigray Crisis: Fear of Mass Starvation
“Hundreds of thousands might starve to death” in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, according to a government official quoted in a leaked copy of notes taken at a meeting of humanitarian workers. The government-run Tigray Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) is assessing needs following the conflict there. The federal government declared victory at the end of November. But sporadic fighting has continued and the UN has described the humanitarian situation as “severe”. It added that “reports indicate that food is not available or is extremely limited in markets, posing increased risks of malnutrition”. The ECC says that 4.5 million people need emergency food aid in Tigray, according to a figure quoted in a UN report. The population of Tigray is between 5-7 million. More than 50,000 have fled to neighbouring Sudan.… Communication with much of the region remains difficult as phone lines and the internet have been cut making the verification of reports hard. BBC

UN troops Recapture CAR City from Armed Groups
United Nations peacekeeping troops said they have retaken control of a city in the Central African Republic captured two weeks ago by armed groups waging an offensive against the government of President Faustin-Archange Touadera. Rebels abandoned their positions in Bangassou, 750km east of the capital, Bangui, and fled the city following an ultimatum on Friday from the UN peacekeeping force MINUSCA, the mission’s spokesman Vladimir Monteiro said late on Saturday. … Armed groups waging a nationwide offensive captured the city on January 3, forcing many residents to flee across the border to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Al Jazeera

Court in Central African Republic Upholds Election Results
Central African Republic’s constitutional court on Monday upheld President Faustin Archange Touadera’s re-election, raising the specter of more violence days after rebels attempted to overtake the capital. The opposition had urged the court to order a re-run of the Dec. 27 voting, saying insecurity and alleged irregularities had marred the election. However, the court announced Monday that Touadera had won with 53% of ballots cast by 35% of registered voters. Anicet Georges Dologuele had 22% of the vote, repeating his second place finish in the 2016 election. Tensions have escalated dramatically since the presidential polls, with rebels opposed to Touadera’s re-election trying to invade the capital last week. Security forces backed by U.N. peacekeepers ultimately repelled the attack. Former president Francois Bozize and his allies have been blamed for inciting the violence, which erupted after the constitutional court rejected his candidacy in December. … Bozize, who took power in a coup in 2003 and ruled until 2013, faces an international arrest warrant for “crimes against humanity and incitement of genocide.” AP

Two UN Peacekeepers Killed in an Ambush in Central African Republic
Two United Nations peacekeepers were killed after their convoy was ambushed by members of the UPC and anti-Balaka armed groups in southern Central African Republic (CAR), the UN Mission in the country said on Monday. The attack took place some 17 kilometres (about 11 miles) from Bangassou, the capital of the Mbomou prefecture. UN peacekeepers had retaken control of the city on Friday, after it captured two weeks earlier by anti-government armed groups. Mankeur Ndiaye, head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), strongly condemned the attack and stressed that the Mission “will work with the Central African authorities to ensure that the perpetrators and accomplices of these war crimes are arrested and held accountable for their acts.” … MINUSCA has lost seven peacekeepers since anti-Balaka, 3R, MPC and Unity for Peace in Central Africa (UPC) armed groups – allies of former president François Bozizé – launched coordinated and simultaneous attacks. UN

Nigerian Army Regains Control of Marte Military Base Post-ISWAP Attack
The Nigerian army regained control of its military base in Marte, in the northeast of the country on Sunday morning after “intense fighting” with the jihadists of the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP). The group claimed responsibility for the attack on Friday evening and still had control of the base on Saturday, before being dislodged by the Nigerian army whose “troops of operation Tura Taka Bango, in coordination with the air force, destroyed seven of the group’s militarised trucks, decimated several terrorists and are still in pursuit” of the terrorists — as per an official statement Saturday evening. The terrorists have since left the city — as also did thousands of civilians who fled to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state which lies around 130 kilometres away. AfricaNews/AFP

Cameroon Man Arrested for Baby Trafficking Gives Stunning Details of Operation
Cameroon police said Saturday they have opened investigations into a network of traffickers who allegedly buy babies from the central African state to sell in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some members of the network, believed to have illegally sold scores of children, were arrested Saturday in Cameroon’s capital, Yaoundé, with babies they had bought and a mother who said she wanted to sell her unborn child because she is poor. The mother was also arrested. Baudouin Gweha, senior official of the Gendarmerie post at Mimboman, a Yaoundé neighborhood, says he arrested 41-year-old Pierre Essola for carrying out an activity that violates human dignity. Essola tells Cameroon police that all negotiations with potential buyers and sellers of babies are by telephone. VOA

Mozambique: Food Insecurity Looms in Cabo Delgado
The northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado is on the verge of serious hunger and a consequent increase in chronic child malnutrition, as food production especially in districts affected by terrorism has recorded very poor yields. The hunger threat was confirmed on Thursday in Pemba, the provincial capital, by the Provincial Director of Economic Activities, Agai Mario, who said the terror attacks have had a disastrous impact on the output of several sectors of the provincial economy, especially agriculture, which employs over 80 per cent of the population. “Since the start of terror attacks in 2017, over 80,000 households have abandoned agriculture, a move which obviously had a negative impact. Currently, the displaced families depend on food aid to prevent hunger,” Mario said. AIM

Libya Talks Make Progress Towards New Temporary Government, U.N. Says
A Libyan political dialogue arranged by the United Nations has made progress towards agreeing a new transitional government to oversee the run-up to elections in December, the U.N. said on Saturday. Participants at talks in Geneva agreed on a mechanism for choosing the new government, whose formation has been the subject of wrangling among the main factions in a country that is a major oil producer. Acting U.N. Libya envoy Stephanie Williams said the agreement represented the “best possible compromise” on the issue and could lead to the selection of a transitional government “in several weeks”. However, she also warned that there would still be “people seeking to obstruct” peacemaking efforts. Reuters

Angola: Could Isabel Dos Santos Make a Comeback?
The billionaire daughter of Angola’s ex-president was considered the richest woman in Africa. But the Luanda Leaks scandal brought Isabel dos Santos’ house of cards crashing down a year ago. More than 700,000 leaked documents were made public a year ago by Rui Pinto, a Portuguese hacker and whistleblower who is currently under house arrest in his home country. They included emails, contracts and memos proving how, for years, the eldest daughter of Angola’s longtime President Jose Eduardo dos Santos enriched herself with illegal business practices, corruption and nepotism. Her fortune was at times estimated at more than $3 billion (€2.5 billion). … In social media, Isabel dos Santos has repeatedly described the Luanda Leaks allegations as “politically motivated.” She has made it clear she does not rule out returning to Angola from London to run as a presidential candidate in the elections scheduled for 2022. DW

South Africa Struggles against ‘Relentless’ COVID-19 Surge
South Africa’s health services are buckling under the strain of soaring COVID-19 infections driven partly by a new variant of coronavirus spreading across the country. Medical professionals warn that the “relentless” infection wave that has seen more than 130,000 new COVID-19 cases and 4,000 related deaths in the last week alone threatens to overrun both public and private hospitals. “As soon as beds open, there are more than 10 people waiting to fill them – we cannot cope,” a medical officer working at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg told Al Jazeera. “This has been relentless and far worse than the first wave of infections.” The new variant, referred to as 501.V2, has been found in all of the country’s nine provinces, as well as beyond the country’s borders, leading several countries to ban flights from South Africa. Al Jazeera

Former South Sudan Refugee Acclaimed for Saving COVID-19 Patients in South Africa
A former refugee from Sudan’s civil war who survived torture and homelessness to become a doctor is winning acclaim for saving the lives of COVID-19 patients in South Africa. Dr. Emmanuel Malish Taban was recently named one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2020 by London-based New African magazine. The U.S. embassy in Juba, South Sudan, congratulated Taban on its Facebook page for the continental recognition and his work treating COVID-19 patients at his South African clinic. “Dr. Taban’s extraordinary story and never-say-die spirit has become a source of great inspiration for millions of young Africans who find themselves in often hopeless situations,” said the New African.



Photo: Adam Jones