Africa Media Review for January 27, 2022

ECOWAS to Hold Extraordinary Meeting on Burkina Faso Coup
The West African bloc ECOWAS will meet virtually on Friday to discuss the crisis in Burkina Faso, where army officers have deposed President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, the group said. The 15 member Economic Community of West African States, which includes Burkina Faso, had already condemned Monday’s coup, which came amid deepening anger about Kabore’s response to violence by armed groups. The extraordinary summit on Burkina will start at 10:00 GMT on Friday and be held virtually, ECOWAS said in a note on Wednesday. … West Africa has been rattled by three military coups in less than 19 months, beginning with Mali in 2020 and Guinea in September 2021. In August 2020, army officers deposed Mali’s elected president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who had likewise been facing protests for his handling of the country’s violence. ECOWAS has already slapped broad sanctions on Mali, where the military-led government said this month it planned to hold power through 2025, going back on a previous agreement to organise elections this February. Guinea underwent a coup in September last year, when officers toppled President Alpha Conde, 83, who had been president since 2010. … Both Guinea and Mali have been suspended from ECOWAS, and the bloc has imposed an array of sanctions against those countries. Al Jazeera

Russian Mercenaries Offer Aid to Burkinabè Coup Leaders
A group of Russian military contractors has written to the coup leaders in Burkina Faso offering to train the West African country’s army in their fight against jihadists. The group calling itself “Community of Officers for International Security”, which is based in the Central African Republic (CAR), published its offer in a letter the BBC has seen and verified. It is not clear if it has been or will be accepted. Burkina Faso is now led by a military junta that overthrew the government of President Roch Kaboré on Monday. The offer in the letter is explicit: “If Russian instructors are invited to train the army in Burkina Faso, they can do it effectively.” … Western powers condemned the deployment of Russian mercenaries to neighbouring Mali in December, saying it could lead to a further deterioration of security. BBC

US Ambassador to Burkina Faso: Aid Cuts Possible After Coup
Burkina Faso’s coup leaders have yet to say if they will install a civilian or military leader after deposing President Roch Kaboré, who has since resigned formally. In an exclusive interview with VOA, U.S. Ambassador to Burkina Faso Sandra Clark says if the military installs its own leader, Washington could cut support to Burkina Faso. In the exclusive interview, Ambassador Clark said the United States is closely monitoring the situation. “We are evaluating events on the ground for any impact on our assistance. This is a very fluid situation and things are evolving. I would note that U.S. law does require a review and possible suspension of assistance in cases where a democratic government is deposed by unconstitutional means,” she told VOA. The junta has yet to announce whether it plans to install a military or a civilian president as the new ruler. If a civilian is selected, it may mean a continuation of support from the United States, which has provided counterterrorism training to Burkinabe troops, as well as funding. VOA

1960 – 2022: The Long History of Coups D’état in Burkina Faso
The military coup in Burkina Faso intensifies months of deteriorating relations between former President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and his army, in a country where the population and the military were fed up with the hopelessness of the state in the face of deadly jihadist attacks. Here is a reminder of the coups that have marked the country since its independence in 1960. 1966 – On January 3, the army seized power following strikes and demonstrations against austerity. President Maurice Yaméogo, in power since independence, was replaced by Chief of Staff Aboubakar Sangoulé Lamizana. … 1982 – On November 7, a Council for the Salvation of the People (CSP), chaired by Major Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo, overthrew Colonel Saye Zerbo. Captain Thomas Sankara, who played an important role in the coup, was appointed Prime Minister. … 1987 – On October 15, Blaise Compaoré, whose differences over how to lead the “revolution” pitted him against Thomas Sankara, took power in a deadly coup: the father of the Burkinabe “revolution” was killed along with 12 of his collaborators. … 2014 – On October 31, Blaise Compaoré was ousted by the street for wanting to change the constitution and remain in power. 2022 – On January 24, uniformed soldiers announced on state television that they had seized power and ousted President Marc Roch Christian Kaboré.

Report: 5,000-plus Deaths under Ethiopia’s Tigray Blockade
Nearly 1,500 people died of malnutrition in just part of Ethiopia’s blockaded Tigray region over a four-month period last year, including more than 350 young children, a new report by the region’s health bureau says. It cites more than 5,000 blockade-related deaths in all from hunger and disease in the largest official death toll yet associated with the country’s war. “Deaths are alarmingly increasing,” including from easily preventable diseases like rabies as medicines run out or expire, the head of Tigray’s health bureau, Hagos Godefay, told The Associated Press late last year as the findings were being compiled. “This is one of the worst times of my life, I can tell you.” His report on the findings, published Wednesday by the independent Ethiopia Insight, says 5,421 deaths were confirmed in Tigray between July and October in an assessment by his bureau and some international aid groups. … The deaths do not reflect people killed in combat, Hagos told the AP on Thursday in a call from the Tigray capital, Mekele, though the report reflects a small percentage of deaths from airstrikes. … Ethiopia’s government has sought to restrict reporting on the war and detained some journalists under the state of emergency, including a video freelancer accredited to the AP, Amir Aman Kiyaro. AP

Ethiopia’s Tigray Region Receives First Medical Aid Consignment since September
Ethiopia’s Tigray region on Tuesday received the first medical consignment since September last year, providing a temporary relief to the sick in hospitals that had run out of drugs. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) became the first humanitarian organisation to deliver the medical relief coming days after warring sides agreed to allow aid delivery. Patrick Youssef, the ICRC Africa’s regional director said that an airplane carrying medical supplies landed in Tigray’s capital Mekelle on Tuesday afternoon. The official said in a tweet that more similar deliveries will be needed to make an impact. … Until this month, fighting in the region derailed the transport of aid to the region, where an estimated 350,000 people are said to be in dire need of humanitarian support owing to famine-like conditions, according to the UN. The East African

At Least 46 Dead after Tropical Storm Ana Hits Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi
Tropical storm Ana hit east Africa this week, as heavy rains have caused flooding and mudslides in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo, killing at least 39 people. Ana also made landfall on Mozambique and continued into Malawi, killing 12 people in its path, with reported windspeeds up to 100km per hour. Madagascar’s disaster agency has reported that nearly 65,000 people have been left homeless in the wake of Storm Ana, with low-lying areas remaining on high alert. John Razafimandimby, rescue unit director with Madagascar’s disaster management agency told the media: “We are in the process of evacuating people from flooded areas”. Mozambique has already reported a large portion of the damage, as its National Institute for Management and Disaster Risk Reduction said on Tuesday that 54 people had been injured and 895 evacuated in the previous 24 hours. … More than 20,000 people in Mozambique have been affected by the storm, with more than 3,000 homes partially destroyed. … Both Malawi and Mozambique have been hit by storms with greater strength and frequency in recent years as ocean waters warm due to climate change, contributing to rising sea levels. RFI

Sudan Grassroots Forces Prioritise Social Justice in Political Proposal
On January 15, the resistance committees in Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, published a joint position paper about their demands of a democratic Sudan. Journalist and political analyst Hussein Saad read the document and presented the contents to Radio Dabanga yesterday. The resistance committees of Wad Madani have presented a political proposal about how “to start a radical and broad political process aimed at reaching a unified national political vision on the nature of the state, governance, the economy and the transfer of power,” he states. The document was developed, “through national consultation processes organised by the resistance committees and elected trade unions”. … Saad said that the Khartoum Resistance Committees are also working on a political document, but that their partners in Wad Madani preceded them. The Wad Madani resistance committees state that the transitional period to democracy will start with “the fall of the totalitarian regime, based on the alliance of Al Bashir’s security apparatus, militias, and rebel movements, followed the drafting of a transitional constitution by a transitional legislative council”. Dabanga

U.S.-sanctioned General to Head Security Mechanism in South Sudan
A Ugandan general has been appointed as head of South Sudan transitional security monitoring and verification mechanism. Maj. Gen Abel Kandiho, head of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) since January 2017, was on Tuesday removed by President Yoweri Museveni weeks after he was sanctioned by the United States over human rights violation. Kandiho was, the US statement noted, sometimes personally involved in leading interrogations of detained individuals, often singled out for their political views, their nationality or for criticizing government. … Rwandan officials have, have in recent years, accused the former intelligence chief of allegedly working with dissidents to kidnap Rwandese citizens in Uganda. The appointment of the U.S sanctioned Ugandan army general caused consternation among South Sudanese, with elites and security experts questioning motives the new assignment to a country also struggling to improve its image from allegations and accusations related to human right violations. Sudan Tribune

Government Official Assassinated in Mogadishu
Safia Abukar Karani, the Director of Administration and Finance of the Somali Government’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs was assassinated in Mogadishu last night. Armed men gunned down Safia on Wednesday night at a security checkpoint on a road leading to the Villa Somalia. The assailants fled the scene immediately after the shooting. So far, no one has taken responsibility for the killing of the government official. Safia’s husband, Muhyudin Mohamed, a former Deputy Minister of Defense, was also killed in 2016 in a suicide bomb attack. The assassination of government officials has escalated in recent weeks in Somalia, with Al-Shabaab taking advantage of the country’s tumultuous election. Goobjoog News

Jihadist Threat Stirs Anti-Fulani Hostility in Ivory Coast
Jihadist attacks in northern Ivory Coast have ramped up hostility towards the Fulani, a mainly Muslim ethnic group that some accuse of providing the bulk of the raiders. Friction and suspicion are almost palpable in Kafolo, a small town near the border with Burkina Faso where jihadists have struck twice in less than 18 months, killing 16 soldiers. … In the absence of claims of responsibility for the Kafolo attacks, the Ivorian authorities have said they were the work of foreign nationals. More locally the language is veiled, but the finger usually gets pointed at Fulani — semi-nomadic herders who are scattered across several countries in West Africa and often cross the porous border with Burkina Faso to graze their oxen in Ivory Coast. “We have our eyes on them,” acknowledged a regional official who said the public were being urged to alert the authorities if they spotted anything untoward. “We are very suspicious when a foreigner arrives in the village. We ask questions about his purpose of travel, his destination and we can take him to the soldiers,” Tiemoko, the village chief, confirmed. After the June 2020 attack, many Fulani who had been part of the community left overnight. “There used to be a great brotherhood. But after the attack, there were arrests and the Peuls left,” said Tiemoko. AfricaNews/AFP

DRC: M23 Rebel Group Resumes Military Activities
A new attack attributed to the “March 23 Movement”, which also calls itself the Congolese Revolutionary Army, targeted a Congolese army post in Rutshuru territory on Tuesday, a few kilometres north of the town of Goma. Local sources and civil society say that around 20 soldiers were killed in the fighting. The Congolese armed forces confirm the clashes but not the high number of casualties. They confirmed, however, that a colonel was among the victims. Casualties were also recorded on the rebel side, but there are no sources to confirm the number. Only yesterday the military governor of the province visited the region to “comfort the troops”. Some military sources believe that the aim of the M23 is to get the government’s attention ” to secure new talks . The movement has been accused of attacking military bases since last October. AfricaNews/FP

Ugandan Author Accused of Insulting President Freed
A Ugandan author accused of insulting the president and his family has been released after being re-arrested moments after a court freed him on bail. Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was “dumped” by the military at the gate of his home in eastern Uganda on Wednesday, his lawyer said. The novelist’s wife also confirmed the release. The lawyer said the author was unwell and had been taken to hospital for treatment. The award-winning writer was charged with offensive communication after he was accused of insulting President Yoweri Museveni, and his son, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, on Twitter. He successfully obtained bail from a Kampala court before he was rearrested in unclear circumstances. BBC

Tunisian Opposition Leader Warns of Social Explosion
The speaker of Tunisia’s suspended parliament, who also heads the main opposition party, warned on Thursday of a social situation that “threatens to explode” six months after what he calls a coup by the president. Rached Ghannouchi, head of the moderate Islamist Ennahda, said President Kais Saied’s suspension of parliament, assumption of executive powers and move to rewrite the constitution had isolated Tunisia. … Tunisia faces a looming public finances crisis after years of stagnation but painful reforms needed to secure international assistance risk sparking social unrest. Unemployment is running at about 18%, up from 15% in 2019, but is far worse in Tunisia’s impoverished interior, where it exceeds 30% in some cities. Anger over economic conditions has frequently boiled over into street protests or clashes between demonstrators and police during the decade since Tunisia’s revolution. Meanwhile, Saied has failed to attract bilateral help from foreign states, with donors demanding a more inclusive approach to both political change and economic reforms needed to win aid. Saied has said there is no going back to the suspended parliament and said last month that he expected an election in December to replace the chamber. Reuters

Malawi’s President Chakwera Names New Cabinet
Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera on Thursday appointed new ministers after sacking his entire Cabinet on Monday over graft allegations. The President faced weeks of protests and pressure from the civil society demanding action against corruption. Mr Chakwera, who swept to power in 2020 after a historic election victory, said some of the sacked ministers and government officials had to answer to the graft allegations. Samuel Kawale has been appointed Lands minister, replacing Kezzie Msukwa, who was arrested in December over a corruption scandal. Others are Mark Phiri named Trade and Industry minister, Abida Mia, who takes over the Water and Sanitation portfolio, and Vera Kamtukule to head the Labour docket. Chakwera’s office on Thursday said more appointments would be announced soon.… The Malawian leader’s move to dissolve his Cabinet has earned him praise from the United States, whose envoy said the US supports “government transparency and access to information” in the fight against corruption. “We concur with President Chakwera’s call to the citizens of Malawi to play an active role in the ongoing fight against corruption,” US embassy charge d’Affaires in Lilongwe, Jeremy Neitzke, said in a statement. The East African

Angola: Money Laundering Trial of Tycoon Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente Postponed
The money laundering trial of former tycoon Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente has been postponed on Wednesday. It was rescheduled on February 1, after a procedural mistake was picked up by his lawyers. The trial of tycoon Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente, a businessman linked to former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos accused of corruption, has been postponed until February 11, at the request of his lawyers. … Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente was taken into custody in September 2020. His arrest followed an anti-corruption crusade launched by Angolan president Lourenço. François Zimeray, De Sao Vicente’s French lawyer and ambassador for human rights has deemed the time his client served in prison illegal. … Carlos Manuel de Sao Vicente is married to a daughter of former president Agostino Neto and he is one of the many prominent figures under the Dos Santo’s presidency; who are now tarnished by corruption claims. AfricaNews/AFP



Photo: Adam Jones