Africa Media Review for July 1, 2020

‘Several’ Killed in Ethiopia Unrest after Singer Shot Dead
Ethiopia’s prime minister says “several people” have been killed in unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer this week. Angry protests were reported Tuesday in the capital, Addis Ababa, after Hachalu Hundessa was shot dead on Monday. He had been a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to a change in leadership in 2018, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed taking office. … Three bombs exploded in the capital Tuesday, police said. It was not clear whether anyone was killed. Internet service has been cut again in Ethiopia, where tensions continue after the government delayed this year’s national election, citing the coronavirus pandemic. … A well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, was among 35 people arrested during the latest unrest. AP

French, Spanish and African Leaders Meet to Combat Extremism
Leaders from the five countries of West Africa’s Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger – on Tuesday called for intensifying counter-terrorism operations supported by the French military that have already seen successes in the recent months despite growing jihadist attacks in the region. The heads of state from the five Sahel countries said the stability of the region below the Sahara Desert remains challenged by persistant attacks, a deteriorating security situation in Libya and the COVID-19 pandemic, and renewed calls for the cancellation of external debts as they deal with the pandemic. The statements came after meetings between the heads of states Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Mauritania’s capital Nouakchott to discuss military operations against Islamic extremists in the region. AP

One Killed in Sudan as Thousands Rally for Faster Reform
One person was killed and several others injured during largely peaceful demonstrations in Sudan on Tuesday, a government spokesman said, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets demanding faster reform and greater civilian rule in the country’s transition towards democracy. Waving Sudanese flags, protesters gathered in Khartoum and its twin cities Khartoum North and Omdurman after the government closed roads and bridges leading to the centre of the capital in the largest demonstrations since a transitional government took power late last year following the ouster of Islamist ruler Omar al-Bashir after three decades. Similar protests took place across the country, including Kassala in eastern Sudan and in the restive region of Darfur. Reuters

Sudan: Sit-In for Security in Central Darfur Continues
A sit-in in Nierteti in Central Darfur demanding security, a halt to the daily attacks on civilians, disarmament of the militias, and arrest and trial of the perpetrators, entered its second day on Monday. The sit-in follows a mass demonstration on Sunday against the rampant insecurity in the area. The demonstrators are calling for more protection during the agricultural season. Perpetrators must be brought to justice and the militiamen in the area disarmed. They say the local authorities failed to combat the insecurity in the area, and demand the dismissal of the executive director and the director of the security committee of Nierteti locality, and the removal of the current security forces, and members of the Military Intelligence and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) from the locality. Radio Dabanga

Mortar Shells Hit after Somalia Celebrates Reopened Stadium
At least three mortar blasts sent sports fans in Somalia ducking for cover Tuesday evening, hours after the Mogadishu Stadium reopened following years of instability. The mortar shells struck in and around the stadium, police Col. Ahmed Muse said. There was no immediate word on any casualties. The al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group often targets the city. The blasts occurred after Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed attended the opening ceremonies that included a football match in the nearly empty stadium. He left before the shells hit. The 35,000-seat stadium’s opening, complete with a large ceremonial flame, was a symbol of Somalia’s attempts at rebuilding after nearly three decades of conflict. The venue had hosted a base for the African Union peacekeeping force until late last year. AP

DRC Violence Displaced More Than One Million in Six Months: UN
More than one million people have been forced to flee their homes in the violence-ravaged eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since the start of the year, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. The UNHCR voiced alarm at an increasing number of attacks by armed groups on displaced civilians, saying it was “appalled” by the surging violence. “In the last eight weeks, UNHCR and its partners have recorded multiple attacks by armed groups on displacement sites and villages,” it said in a statement. It added the attacks were mainly in Djugu Territory in Ituri province; in Fizi and Mwenga Territories in South Kivu province; and Masisi and Rutshuru Territories in North Kivu province. Al Jazeera

Zimbabwe’s Security Forces Sideline Government as Economy Crashes
Zimbabwe’s security force leaders sidelined the nation’s economic chiefs and forced the government to close the stock exchange and halt most mobile-money transactions, people familiar with the situation said. The June 26 order that sought to stabilize the nation’s currency came after pressure from the Joint Operations Command and was made without notifying the central bank, which regulates the mobile-money industry through which almost all of Zimbabwe’s commerce takes place, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the role of the JOC hasn’t been disclosed publicly. The measure is further evidence that senior ruling party and military officials are growing impatient with the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Inflation has surged to 786%, the currency has crashed and the country is facing shortages of food and fuel. Bloomberg

Equatorial Guinea Halts Construction of Cameroon Border Wall
Equatorial Guinea has agreed to pause the construction of a controversial border wall with Cameroon after talks between the two countries’ defense ministers in Yaoundé.  The two sides also agreed once again to withdraw troops from their disputed border after deadly clashes left at least seven people dead. An agreement earlier this month to withdraw forces failed to hold and some border traders are skeptical of this latest pact. After a second day of closed-door meetings in Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea’s Defense Minister Leandro Bekale Nkogo said the two sides agreed to set aside their differences. VOA

South Africa Finds the Price of Healing the Economy May Be a Surge in Coronavirus Cases
Gauteng, home to South Africa’s richest city Johannesburg, is emerging as the country’s next coronavirus epicentre after authorities eased restrictions to heal the struggling economy, health authorities have warned. Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Monday that the country, which is already dealing with hotspots in Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces, was expected to witness a surge in cases in Gauteng and surrounding areas in the winter months of July and August. “Gauteng is expected to emerge as the country’s Covid-19 epicentre within the coming days,” Mkhize said. He attributed this to inward migration, populous metropolitan areas such as Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, and workplaces such as mining sites that had many workers, which spur cluster outbreaks. SCMP

COVID-19 Cases Mount at the Ends of the Earth in Timbuktu
Harandane Toure started taking malaria pills when he first spiked a fever but as the days passed his illness only worsened. Doctors ultimately told him he was among the hundreds now infected with the coronavirus in this town long fabled for being inaccessible from the rest of the world. … Already there are more than 500 cases including at least nine deaths, making it Mali’s largest outbreak outside the capital. At the local hospital, a cluster of tents set up outside now houses 32 COVID-19 patients. There isn’t a single ventilator available. Temperatures regularly soar above 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit), adding to the patients’ misery as they battle fever. AP

Burundi Changes Tack as President Declares COVID-19 ‘Biggest Enemy’
Burundi’s new President Evariste Ndayishimiye has declared the coronavirus the country’s “biggest enemy,” in a major about-turn for a nation which has largely ignored the dangers of the virus. Former president Pierre Nkurunziza, who died suddenly last month, and even Ndayishimiye himself, had until now downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, saying God had spared Burundi from its ravages. Burundi held a full-blown campaign ahead of a May election, and unlike its neighbours which have imposed lockdowns and curfews, has taken few measures to combat the spread of the virus. Officially the country has reported only 170 cases and one death in two months. Ndayishimiye was speaking late Tuesday after the swearing in of his new government in parliament. AFP

Russia’s Nuclear Play for Power in Africa
Rwanda’s parliament has just approved a plan for Russia’s state-owned Rosatom nuclear conglomerate to build it a nuclear research center and reactor in the capital, Kigali. The Center of Nuclear Science and Technologies, planned for completion by 2024, will include nuclear research labs as well as a small research reactor with up to 10 MW capacity. Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia have signed similar deals with Rosatom, while countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Sudan and DRC have less expansive cooperation agreements. Rosatom has been aggressively wooing African nations since the mid-2000s and the nuclear deals are seen as part of Russia’s push turn a profit and also gain influence in Africa. DW

Taiwan to Establish Representative Office in Unrecognised Somaliland
Taiwan will establish a representative office in the breakaway African region of Somaliland, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on Wednesday, amid an escalating diplomatic tug-of-war between Taipei and Beijing. Taiwan has signed an agreement with Somaliland to “establish good relations” and that the two countries “share a deep-seated love of freedom & democracy,” Wu wrote on Twitter. Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with only 15 countries due to pressure from China, which considers the island to be its territory with no right to state-to-state ties. Somaliland is a self-declared state internationally recognised only as an autonomous region of Somalia. It is strategically located on the Horn of Africa on the shores of the Gulf of Aden, facing war-torn Yemen. Reuters

Belgium’s King Sends Letter of Regret over Colonial past in Congo
King Philippe of Belgium on Tuesday expressed his “deepest regrets” for his country’s brutal past in a letter to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first public acknowledgment from a member of the Belgian royal family of the devastating human and financial toll during eight decades of colonization. … In an address on Monday, Mr. Tshisekedi said that King Philippe had planned to be at the Independence Day celebrations in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, but that the coronavirus pandemic had intervened. Mr. Tshisekedi said he was trying to foster a strong relationship with the European country. “I consider it necessary that our common history with Belgium and its people be told to our children in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as in Belgium on the basis of scientific work carried out by historians of the two countries,” he said. The New York Times

Nigeria: The Toxic Legacy of 60 Years of Abundant Oil
Half a century of oil spills has left a 27,000 square-mile region of swamps, creeks and mangrove forests in southeastern Nigeria one of the most polluted places on earth. Life expectancy is just 41 years. “Sometimes I worry about the cumulative effect living in this city has on one’s health,” he said. “It’s not only the pollution, one has to worry about the heavy traffic, the high cost of living and then serious insecurity. Robberies and gunfights are frequent as various armed groups spill over into the city from the surrounding creeks.” Oil’s importance is fading fast, but the desperate situation in Port Harcourt is unlikely to improve any time soon for one simple reason: money. In the past decade, crude has gone from providing about 80% of all Nigerian state revenue to about 50% last year. This year, with the global economy hit by the coronavirus adding to existing trends as the world shifts away from fossil fuels, the government projects an 80% decline in oil income. Bloomberg

In Pictures: Thousands of Sudanese Take to the Streets Again
Tens of thousands of protesters poured onto the streets of several Sudanese cities to “correct the path of the revolution” that removed longtime President Omar al-Bashir last year. Demonstrators on Tuesday gathered in the capital, Khartoum, and its twin cities Khartoum North and Omdurman, waving Sudanese flags and chanting slogans calling for greater civilian rule. The protesters want economic reforms and the appointment of civilian state governors, as well as justice for those killed in the anti-government demonstrations before and after the overthrow of al-Bashir in April 2019. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones