Africa Media Review for January 5, 2021

Niger Declares National Mourning, Security Boost after Attacks
Niger on Monday declared three days of mourning and vowed to beef up security in a western border region where jihadists killed 100 villagers, according to a local toll. “We have decreed three days of national mourning, and on security, we are going to strengthen the presence” in the frontier region with Mali, Interior Minister Alkache Alhada told AFP, adding that the government would also launch “forums” to defuse ethnic tension. Scores of “terrorists,” arriving by motorbike, killed 70 people in the village of Tchoma Bangou and 30 in Zaroumadareye, local mayor Almou Hassane told AFP on Sunday. It was the biggest single massacre of civilians in the Sahel’s eight-year-old history of Islamist unrest, according to a US group, ACLED, which tracks the violence. … Niger is caught in a pincer between jihadists crossing from Mali, in its southwest, and from Nigeria, in its southeast. Thirty-four people were killed in the southeastern region of Diffa on December 12 by Boko Haram jihadists. Its armed forces, poorly equipped and trained, have lost nearly 200 men to road bombs and camp raids in the last two years. AFP

Central African Republic President Touadera Reelected
Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera has won a second term in office, according to provisional results announced by the electoral commission Monday. Touadera was reelected in the first round of the Dec. 27 presidential vote with 53.9% of the votes, the National Election Authority said. In second place was Anicet-Georges Dologuele with 21.1% of the vote, and Martin Ziguele came in third with 7.4%, according to the results announced. The vote, and its aftermath, have been marked by violence and the formation of a rebel coalition, amid calls from the opposition to delay the vote. International observers noted the vote in the capital went well, but violence prevented many from going to vote in other parts of the country, despite the presence of peacekeeping soldiers and reinforcements sent in by Russia and Rwanda after a pre-election attack. … The announcement of provisional results comes as armed violence mounts outside the capital, including an attack by rebels Saturday on Touadera’s second home in Damara, a locality more than 75 kilometers (47 miles) from Bangui. AP

Tanzania: Civil Rights Bodies Cite EAC Treaty, Sue Dar for ‘Massive Violations’ by Its Police
Four civil rights organisations are suing the Tanzanian government for “massive violations” in the recent general election in which President John Pombe Magufuli was voted back in office. The organisations from Kenya and Uganda are suing Tanzania at the East African Court of Justice, alleging that security agents clobbered, disappeared, detained and even killed opposition supporters during the election campaigns as well as after the results were announced in October. “The government, through its security services and other institutions of the state, engaged in a campaign of serious and massive violations of the rule of law and fundamental and operational principles of the East African Community Treaty,” the organisations said in suit papers. The case at the EACJ could test Tanzania’s regional integration credentials once more, given its own domestic laws forbid any legal challenge on presidential elections, once the results have been declared by the National Electoral Commission. The EastAfrican

A Continent Where the Dead Are Not Counted
As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the world in 2020, it became increasingly evident that in the vast majority of countries on the African continent, most deaths are never formally registered. Reliable data on a country’s deaths and their causes are hard to come by, which means governments can miss emerging health threats — whether Ebola or the coronavirus — and often have to formulate health policy blindly. Covid-19 is often said to have largely bypassed Africa. Some epidemiologists posit that its youthful population is less at risk; others that prior exposure to other coronaviruses give some protection. But like other diseases, its true toll here will probably never be known, partly because elevated mortality rates cannot be used as a measure, as they are elsewhere. … “Every time somebody says, ‘I’m so glad Africa has been spared,’ my toes just curl,” said Maysoon Dahab, an infectious disease epidemiologist at King’s College London who worked on the Khartoum study [that declared that there was a huge, hidden outbreak in the capital of Sudan]. The New York Times

South Africa Testing Whether Vaccines Work against Variant
Scientists in South Africa are urgently testing to see if the vaccines for COVID-19 will be effective against the country’s variant virus. The genomic studies come as Britain’s health minister, Matt Hancock, and other experts in the U.K. have said they worry that vaccines may not be effective against the South African variant. “This is the most pressing question facing us right now,” said Dr. Richard Lessells, an infectious diseases expert who is working on the country’s genomic studies of the variant. “We are urgently doing experiments in the laboratory to test the variant,” against the blood of people with antibodies and against the blood of people who have received vaccines, Lessells told The Associated Press Monday. The tests, called neutralizing assays, will help determine the reliability of vaccines against the variant, he said. The South African variant, 501.V2, is more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus and has rapidly become dominant in the country’s coastal areas. It is expected that the variant will quickly become dominant inland in Johannesburg, the country’s largest city, and the surrounding Gauteng province, he said. AP

Kenya to Take up Position at UN Security Council
Kenya will on Monday evening assume its position at the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member, six months after winning the seat. A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday said that the country’s flag will be hoisted at the UN headquarters in New York at 8pm Kenyan time (5pm GMT), signalling the beginning of Kenya’s two-year term at the UN’s most powerful organ. “Flag raising ceremony for new UNSC members, including Kenya, will be held today at 12pm NY time and 8pm Kenya time,” the statement said. Kenya won the seat in June last year after beating its closest rival for the seat, Djibouti, 129 votes against 62, following months of intense lobbying and campaigns across the continent and globally. President Uhuru Kenyatta said the win, which saw the country return to the UN body after 23 years, was a demonstration of the country’s growing profile and influence in the community of nations. “Kenya will endeavour to consolidate and voice Africa’s position in the Security Council and will advance its 10-point agenda as outlined during the campaign period,” Mr Kenyatta said in a statement released after the win. The EastAfrican

Ethiopia Deploys More Troops to Prevent Refugees from Crossing into Sudan
The Ethiopian Federal Army deployed more troops on the border area to prevent people fleeing the war in the Tigray region to cross into Sudan. The federal troops have retaken control of most of the territory of the Tigray region. However, the TPLF fighters continue to resist in several areas triggering new waves of refugees. Sudanese authorities recently identified over 40 TPLF elements who arrived in Sudan among the civilians. “The Ethiopian army began closing the borders with Sudan, deploying troops, patrolling the border and building a fence to prevent refugees from reaching Hamdayet camp,” an eyewitness told the Sudan Tribune on Monday. The witness further said that the Ethiopian army and police patrols chased the refugees in May Glitte area leading to Hamdayet Reception Centre on the Sudanese side of the border. There more than 5,000 people in Dima, close to the Sudanese border who seek to enter the Hamdayet centre, according to eyewitnesses. Fateh Moghaddam the director of emergency housing for refugees told the Sudan Tribune that the number of Ethiopian refugees has exceeded 63,000. Sudan Tribune

Mozambique’s Jihadists Force Total to Suspend Gas Project
Mozambique’s jihadist violence has forced the French energy firm Total to suspend work at its multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project in the country’s northern Cabo Delgado province. After the rebels’ Jan. 1 attack on Quitunda village, just outside the fence of the gas project, the company removed most of its workforce, estimated at 3,000, from the Afungi peninsula. “In view of the evolving security situation in Cabo Delgado province,” Total “decided to reduce the number of personnel present at the Afungi site,” the company announced in a statement Monday. Total “is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of its staff and subcontractors,” its statement said. Work at the site has been suspended, according to the Zitamar news agency. Total has cut back operations to a bare minimum, evacuating staff and contractors by air. AP

France Arrests Former DRC Rebel Leader for Role in ‘Crimes against Humanity’
French anti-terror prosecutors have announced the arrest of the former head of a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on charges of “complicity in crimes against humanity.” Roger Lumbala, 62, is a former opposition lawmaker who led the RCD-N party, an armed group suspected by UN investigators of carrying out extrajudicial killings, rapes and cannibalism during the country’s civil war from 1998-2002. The charges concern his actions in 2002 in the north- eastern Ituri region predominantly against the Nande and Twa ethnic groups, the prosecutors told AFP. A United Nations report published in 2003 first pointed the finger at Lumbala, who became a minister in his country’s transition government between 2004 and 2005. Lumbala, who rejects the allegations, was arrested last week following a police investigation launched in December 2016. The French judiciary has the right to arrest and prosecute suspects in cases of crimes against humanity committed abroad. AFP

Three Killed in Suspected Jihadist Attack in Cameroon
Jihadists crossing from Nigeria killed three members of a village self-defense force Monday in northern Cameroon, the local mayor said. “Boko Haram killed three members of the vigilance committee this morning” in the village of Kaliari, the mayor of Mozogo district, and also its traditional leader, Mahamat Chetima Abba, told AFP. Cameroon has set up civilian self-defense groups in remote areas in its Far North region, which has been hit by deadly incursions from neighboring Nigeria. A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the toll, and gave the age of the fatalities as 25, 30, and 40. Boko Haram and a splinter group called the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) have stepped up attacks in recent years in Nigeria and neighboring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. The Defense Post with AFP

Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis: No End in Sight
After four years of civil war in Anglophone Cameroon, state and rebel forces have refused to engage in serious dialogue while citizens and children suffer in crossfire. DW’s Adrian Kriesch reports from western Cameroon. … “Drive on!” a soldier shouts at us in the middle of Bamenda, the economic capital of northwestern Cameroon. We have stopped because a large pool of blood, next to a pair of plastic sandals, blocks our way. “Maybe it’s just animal blood. We’re still investigating,” says the soldier dismissively. Meanwhile, around us, soldiers go house-to-house. A street further on, they load young men onto a lorry because they cannot show proof of identification. “We’re scared of the army. They make us very angry,” a young motorcycle taxi driver tells us. Violence has escalated in Cameroon since 2016. Lawyers in the city of Bamenda had taken to the streets, protesting the neglect of the English-speaking minority in the western regions of Cameroon. Soon, other branches of civil society joined. DW

After #Endsars, Community Support Helps Nigerians Heal Wounds
More than two months after she was attacked while protesting against the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Lagos, Clara Igwe*, 23, still finds it difficult to sleep. “Four [police] men cocked their guns and were facing me [saying] that I should lay down,” she recounts to Al Jazeera. “The next thing, the other one used the gun to hit me; another one was using a stick to beat me; one was using koboko (a whip made of animal skin); one of them came down from the van and just used a bottle to hit my head … The beating was mad.” … Igwe believes that, in comparison to the events in Lekki, not enough attention has been paid to the acts of brutality that took place in other parts of the country, including Alausa. Like thousands of Nigerians across the country who actively participated in the protests, she is traumatised. … The protests against police brutality have taken a toll on Nigerians’ mental health, says Amanda Iheme, lead psychotherapist and founder of Ndidi, a private mental health service in Lagos. Al Jazeera

Why the World’s Biggest Mammal Migration Is Crucial for Africa – Photo Essay
David Mubiana will always remember the day he was shot. It happened in 2002, when his unit was ambushed by poachers with AK-47 rifles and a shotgun. He was wounded in the arm and stomach; one bullet rupturing his spleen. As a wildlife police officer in Zambia’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife, his job is inherently risky. “Even if you fall down, you have to stand up and continue fighting. If we finish our wildlife, [our children] are not going to see what we are seeing today,” he says. Like other wildlife protectors, he puts his life on the line every day. But not every animal needing protection is a big beast. Following the incident in 2002 in a park bordering Angola, Mubiana was transferred to Kasanka national park in central Zambia, where he now protects one of nature’s mysteries – and the biggest mammal migration in the world – from poachers and land encroachment. These poachers may be after antelope and elephants, but their actions also pose a threat to the straw-coloured fruit bat, Eidolon helvum. Every year, between October and December, 8–10 million straw-coloured fruit bats descend on the park to feast on an abundance of fruit. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones