Africa Media Review for July 10, 2020

20 Civilians Killed in DR Congo’s Volatile North: Local Official
Twenty civilians were killed early Wednesday in Ituri, in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile northeast, where the International Criminal Court says crimes against humanity could have taken place. The pre-dawn attack took place in Djugu, north of Bunia, the capital of Ituri province, a local official told AFP. “Given the insecurity that reigns over the zone, we are waiting for the return of a team on the ground to have an exact toll,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official blamed the massacre on the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO) militia which is active in the region and blamed for several deaths. The Defense Post

Three Dead in DR Congo Protest Clashes
Two protesters were shot dead and a policeman was lynched Thursday in clashes in the Democratic Republic of Congo over plans to name a new head to the country’s election panel, sources said. …The UN official deplored the use of force by military police. … AFP reporters said police in Kinshasa had used tear gas to break up thousands of members of President Felix Tshisekedi’s Union for Democracy and Progress (UDPS) who had marched to near the seat of parliament. In Kananga, a UDPS stronghold in the central region of Kasai, three protestors suffered gunshot wounds when security forces clamped down on a demonstration outside party headquarters, the reporters said. Other protests were reported in south-central Mbuji-Mayi, the eastern city of Beni and in Kisangani. … The marches have been triggered by a decision by the National Assembly to appoint Ronsard Malonda as chairman of the independent national electoral commission, CENI. AFP

Eight Chadian Soldiers Killed by Mine in Jihadist Area
At least eight soldiers in western Chad were killed and many others wounded when their vehicle struck a landmine laid by suspected jihadists, security sources and a local official said Thursday. The blast occurred on Wednesday at Kalam in the Lake Chad region, which has been battered by attacks from jihadists crossing from neighbouring Nigeria. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, put the toll at eight or nine dead and between 11 and 21 wounded. A security source in Nigeria also gave the figure of nine dead and said the device had apparently been laid by the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter group of Nigeria’s Boko Haram. Kalam lies just five kilometres (three miles) from the Nigerian border. AFP

35 Troops Killed in Nigeria Jihadist Ambush, 30 Missing: New Toll
The death toll from a jihadist attack on a military convoy in northeast Nigeria has risen from 23 to 35, while 30 troops are still missing, security sources said Thursday. Fighters linked to the so-called Islamic State group ambushed the convoy on Tuesday at Bulabulin village, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Twenty-three soldiers were initially thought to have been killed in Tuesday’s attack, and many were listed as missing. But security sources said more bodies had now been found in nearby bush. “We lost 35 soldiers from the ambush. Eighteen others were injured while 30 are still missing. Their fate is not known,” a security source told AFP. … The troops were returning from patrol and clearance operation against the insurgents when they came under attack. AFP

Sudan Reshuffles Government, Hoping to Appease Protesters
Sudan’s transitional government announced a major Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, hoping to defuse public discontent over economic collapse and other crises that have tested the country’s path toward democracy. Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok accepted the resignation of six ministers, including the finance minister criticized for failing to rescue the plunging economy. He also dismissed the health minister in the wake of a coronavirus outbreak that has hit the country hard. A government statement named the acting replacements for the seven posts, which also include foreign, energy, agriculture and transportation ministers. “The trust that the people have given the transitional government obliges us to listen to the voice of the street,” said Hamdok, referring to the sweeping protest movement that toppled longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April last year. AP

Sit-Ins against Insecurity Spread from Darfur to Rest of Sudan
Following the sit-in in Nierteti in Central Darfur, where a delegation from the federal government in Khartoum reached an agreement with the protest leaders this week, protest vigils are being staged in other parts of the country. In North Darfur, sit ins have been organised in Fata Borno and Kabkabiya. Elsewhere in Sudan, people in Soba El Aradi in Khartoum are holding a sit-in, while activists in eastern Sudan’s Kassala announced a protest vigil on Friday. The Darfur actions carry similar demands to that of the sit-in of Nierteti, including protection of the agricultural season, and the dismissal of officials accused of corruption and of neglect concerning the Rule of Law. Radio Dabanga

Intercommunal Violence, Terrorist Attacks Inflame Tensions in West Africa
Intercommunal violence and persistent attacks by extremists, continue to undermine peace and security across West Africa, the UN’s top official in the region warned the Security Council on Thursday, calling for sustained engagement with all partners to urgently advance a holistic approach to peace. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said that despite “intense and sustained” efforts by concerned countries, violent extremists continue to attack security forces and civilians alike, with children recruited into fighting in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. Presenting his latest report, the UNOWAS chief described security conditions as “extremely volatile.”  In Burkina Faso alone, as of June, 921,000 people have been forced to flee, representing a 92 per cent rise over 2019 figures. UN News

‘A Drastic Loss’: Satellite Imagery Reveals Mali’s Farmers Forced off Land by Militias
A surge in fighting in central Mali has forced hundreds of villagers from farmland they depend on and could leave them without enough food to survive this year, according to a study of satellite imagery by the UN’s World Food Programme. More than half the number of violent attacks by armed groups against Mali civilians last year were recorded in the Mopti region, largely targeting people who survive on land or livestock. Mopti has become a hotspot for violence and the UN has repeatedly warned of humanitarian disasters facing communities there. At least 100 villages showed damage in the satellite imagery used by the WFP, which revealed farming had been severely curtailed and sometimes stopped completely. The Guardian

Report: Regional Armies Must ‘Share Intelligence’ to Defeat Boko Haram
The four countries of the Lake Chad basin – Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, plus Benin, formed a joint military force in early 2015 to counter jihadist insurgencies in the region. The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which is authorized by the African Union, has since carried out periodic military operations against Boko Haram and other terrorist groups operating around Lake Chad. “Offensives have won victories and helped instill an  esprit de corps  among participating troops,” finds the International Crisis Group (ICG), an independent non-profit devoted to resolving conflict, in an assessment of the task force’s role released this week. … The MNJTF’s effectiveness, however, is hindered by “inconsistent commitment to the force, funding problems and disjointed planning,” according to the report, What Role for the Multinational Joint Task Force in Fighting Boko Haram? DW

Refugees in Africa ‘Even More Vulnerable Than Ever’ Amid COVID Crisis
Millions of refugees across Africa face even greater food insecurity because of aid disruption and rising food prices linked to the COVID-19 crisis, UN humanitarians warned on Thursday. The alert from the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), coincides with ongoing conflict and disasters on the continent, and severe underfunding for their work. “While the situation continues to deteriorate for everyone, the disaster is magnified for refugees who have absolutely nothing to cushion their fall”, said WFP Executive Director, David Beasley. “In the best of times, refugees live in cramped conditions, struggle to meet their basic needs and often have no option but to rely on outside assistance for their survival. Now more than ever, they need our lifesaving support.” UN News

South Africa Warns of Coronavirus ‘Storm’ as Outbreak Accelerates across Continent
South Africa’s health minister has warned of a “storm” arriving and pleaded with the country’s 58 million inhabitants to change their behaviour to slow the spread of Covid-19. Zweli Mkhize said South Africa was still following an “optimistic” curve, with the peak of the outbreak likely to be lower than predicted, but warned that within weeks there could be a shortage of beds to treat Covid-19 patients, particularly in the country’s most populous and wealthy regions. “It’s no longer a matter of announcing numbers of confirmed cases. We are now at a point where it’s our fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, close friend and comrades that are infected,” Mkhize said. South Africa has registered 225,000 cases of Covid-19, of which 107,000 have recovered and 3,600 have died. The Guardian

Shock, Uncertainty as Ivory Coast Begins Mourning for PM Coulibaly
Moments before his sudden death, Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly appeared upbeat as he entered a cabinet meeting. Chosen by the governing party as its candidate in a presidential election some four months away, he had just tweeted: “To have a vision is not about short term political gains but careful planning for decades to come.” But the 61-year-old, who returned to Ivory Coast last week after an extended medical leave in France to treat heart issues, felt unwell and was taken to hospital, where he passed away. His death on Wednesday has created a political vacuum, plunging the country into uncertainty. “Ivory Coast in a state of shock,” headlined the daily L’Inter. “Thunderclap,” said Soir Info. “Sledgehammer blow,” said Fraternite Matin. Al Jazeera

As Ethiopians Take to the Streets to Protest a Musician’s Murder, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Is Stuck in a Precarious Position
The June 29 murder of activist, singer and political icon Hachalu Hundessa has ignited violence across Addis Ababa and other Ethiopian cities. This is the latest chapter in this country’s tumultuous journey from authoritarian rule toward genuine democracy. Reports of vandalism, arson, robbery and murder have made national headlines. Some 1,200 people have been arrested. In the city of Ambo, police have shot and killed at least nine people, some of them mourners at Hundessa’s funeral. Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous nation, is no stranger to unrest. The country’s constitution divides Ethiopia into ethnically based territories, but many disputes over boundaries have never been resolved. Oromo, the largest of Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups, make up about one-third of the country’s 112 million people, but they say they’ve been excluded from holding national power. Time



Photo: Adam Jones