Africa Media Review for July 10, 2023

Gunmen Have Killed 24 Villagers in Latest Attack in Nigeria’s Hard-Hit North
Gunmen killed 24 villagers in a remote part of north-central Nigeria, authorities said on Sunday, raising further concerns about the West African nation’s ongoing security challenges. The gunmen arrived at the Akpuuna village in Benue state’s Ukum district on Saturday, shooting dead the villagers before escaping the area, according to Tersoo Kula, the spokesman for Benue state’s governor. Police blamed the attack on a “militia gang,” a common reference to armed groups in Nigeria’s hard-hit northwest and central regions where armed violence has claimed the lives of thousands in the last year. … Such attacks are common in many parts of Nigeria’s northern region where local herdsmen have clashed in the past with farmers over limited access to land and water. More than 100 people have been killed this year in the violence in Benue alone. Arrests are rare after the killings. The gunmen in the latest incident operated for more than two hours without the intervention of security forces, according to Emmanuel Udende, who represents the village at the Nigerian Senate. His comment re-echoed concerns about the security of villagers in many violent hotspots where the Nigerian security forces are far outnumbered and outgunned. AP

UN Warns Sudan Faces ‘Full-Scale Civil War’ as Air Raid Kills 22
Conflict-torn Sudan is on the brink of a “full-scale civil war” that could destabilize the entire region, the United Nations warned Sunday, July 9, after an air strike on a residential area killed around two dozen civilians. The health ministry reported “22 dead and a large number of wounded among the civilians” from what it described as an air strike Saturday on Khartoum’s sister city Omdurman, in the district of Dar al-Salam, which means “House of Peace” in Arabic. After nearly three months of war between Sudan’s rival generals, the air strike is the latest incident to provoke outrage. Around 3,000 people have been killed in the conflict, survivors have reported a wave of sexual violence and witnesses have spoken of ethnically targeted killings. There has been widespread looting, and the UN warned of possible crimes against humanity in the Darfur region. … Witnesses also reported more air strikes Sunday near the presidential palace in Khartoum and in Omdurman, as well as machine gun clashes and artillery fire in the city’s south. Le Monde

Egypt to Host Summit of Sudan’s Neighbors as Fighting Continues
Egypt said on Sunday it would host a summit of Sudan’s neighbors on July 13 to discuss ways to end a 12-week conflict between rival Sudanese military factions that has triggered a major humanitarian crisis in the region. Diplomatic efforts to halt fighting between Sudan’s army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have so far proved ineffective, with competing initiatives creating confusion over how the warring parties might be brought to negotiate. Neither Egypt, seen as the Sudanese army’s most important foreign ally, nor the United Arab Emirates, which has had close ties to the RSF, have played a prominent public role. … The summit in Cairo on Thursday aims to “develop effective mechanisms” with neighboring states to settle the conflict peacefully, in coordination with other regional or international efforts, Egypt’s presidency said in a statement. Meanwhile, Sudanese delegations, including from civilian parties that shared power with the army and RSF after the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir four years ago, are expected to meet on Monday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for exploratory talks. VOA/Reuters

Zimbabwean Court Upholds Opposition Campaign Launch Ban
A Zimbabwean court on Sunday upheld a ban on the planned campaign launch by main opposition party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), the third of its rallies to be banned as its leader Nelson Chamisa face hurdles on his campaign trail. CCC was scheduled to hold its campaign launch on Sunday in Bindura, about 100 km (62 miles) north of the capital Harare, but police banned the gathering citing problems with the venue. … CCC lawyer Agency Gumbo said: “The ruling showed there is an uneven playing ground in this election. It shows that the democratic space has been eroded. We are getting into a match with both legs tied so you cannot score.” The ruling ZANU-PF party could not immediately be reached for comment. A handful of opposition supporters chanted party slogans as they protested outside the court, adding they were not free to support their party. Some said they had travelled all night to attend the rally. “It is disheartening because ZANU PF is allowed to campaign freely but they are using the law to block our rallies. People now fear for their lives and this will impact our vote,” 36-year-old Patience Chigwande told Reuters. Political analysts say the elections, in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa is seeking a second term, may lose credibility if the clampdown on the opposition continues. Reuters

Gabon’s Ali Bongo Seeks Third Term as President in Upcoming Elections
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba said on Sunday that he would seek a third term as the oil-rich African nation’s head of state. “I officially announce today that I am a candidate,” he told a crowd of supporters in a speech broadcast live on his Facebook page. Bongo, 64, took over from his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, the country’s ruler for 41 years, in 2009. The president was narrowly re-elected in 2016, with just 5,500 more votes than rival Jean Ping who claimed the election had been fixed. Bongo suffered a stroke in 2018 and spent months on the sidelines recovering, leaving the opposition to question his fitness to run the nation. The Bongo family has ruled the country for 55 years already and is branded a “dynastic power” by the opposition. … In April, the Gabonese parliament voted to amend the constitution and reduce the president’s term from seven to five years. Sections of the opposition criticised the changes, in particular the end of two rounds of voting, as a means of “facilitating the re-election” of Bongo. AFP

At Least 300 Migrants Missing at Sea near Spanish Canary Islands, Aid Group Says
At least 300 people who were traveling on three migrant boats from Senegal to Spain’s Canary Islands have disappeared, migrant aid group Walking Borders said on Sunday. Two boats, one carrying about 65 people and the other with between 50 and 60 on board, have been missing for 15 days since they left Senegal to try to reach Spain, Helena Maleno of Walking Borders told Reuters. A third boat left Senegal on June 27 with about 200 people aboard. … All three boats left Kafountine in the south of Senegal, which is about 1,700 kilometres (1,057 miles) from Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands. “The families are very worried. There about 300 people from the same area of Senegal. They have left because of the instability in Senegal,” Maleno said. The Canary Islands off the coast of West Africa have become the main destination for migrants trying to reach Spain, with a much smaller number also seeking to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Spanish mainland. Summer is the busiest period for all attempted crossings. Reuters

Human Rights Watch Urges Tunisia to Stop Expelling Migrants to Desert
Human Rights Watch on Friday urged Tunisia to put an end to what it called the “collective expulsions” of black African migrants to a desert area near the Libyan border. Hundreds of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa have been left stranded in dire conditions in the south of Tunisia since being driven out of the port city of Sfax in the past week. The rights group’s statement comes against a backdrop of violence after the funeral of a 41-year-old Tunisian man who was stabbed to death in Sfax on Monday in a brawl between Tunisians and migrants. Sfax, the North African country’s second-largest city, is a departure point for many hoping to reach Europe by sea, often the Italian island of Lampedusa about 130 kilometres (80 miles) away. “Tunisian security forces have collectively expelled several hundred Black African migrants and asylum seekers, including children and pregnant women, since July 2, to a remote, militarised buffer zone at the Tunisia-Libya border,” HRW said. … The group said migrants it interviewed alleged “several people died or were killed at the border area” between Sunday and Wednesday, “some shot and others beaten” by Tunisian security forces. AfricaNews

Boat Sinking Off Tunisia Leaves One Dead, at Least 10 Migrants Missing
At least 10 Tunisian migrants were missing and one died after their boat sank off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, a judicial official said on Sunday. Tunisia is facing an unprecedented migration crisis and has replaced Libya as a main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe. The latest tragedy raises the number of dead and missing off the North African country’s coasts to more than 600 in the first half of 2023, far more than in any previous year, according to figures compiled by Reuters. Tunisia’s coastguard rescued 11 people from the boat, which set off from the coast off the town of Zarzis, Faouzi Masmoudi, a judge in the city of Sfax, told Reuters. The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights, a human rights group, said on Saturday that the number of dead and missing in boat sinkings has reached 608 and the coastguard had foiled attempts to board boats by about 33,000 people from Tunisia’s coasts. VOA/Reuters

Police Say 22 Officers Have Been Injured during Unrest at Eritrean Festival in Germany
German police said at least 22 officers were injured and dozens of people were detained Saturday during unrest at an Eritrean cultural event in the western city of Giessen. Police said bottles were thrown and smoke bombs were ignited as groups of Eritreans opposed to the African nation’s autocratic ruler tried to force their way to the venue. … Authorities had tried to ban the festival after similar unrest occurred there last year, but a court overturned the order. The event was organized by a group considered close to the government of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. Tens of thousands of people have fled Eritrea for Europe, many alleging they were mistreated by Afwerki’s government. AP

Nigeria’s Bola Tinubu Elected Chairman of ECOWAS
West African heads of state on Sunday chose Nigeria’s new President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to lead their regional bloc for the next year, replacing Guinea-Bissau’s leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo, AFP journalists reported. Speaking at a summit in Bissau after being named chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tinubu said democracy was “the best form of government”, despite being “very tough to manage”. “We need it, to be an example to the rest of Africa and the world,” he said. “We will not allow coup after coup in West Africa.” Three ECOWAS members – Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso – have undergone five putsches since 2020. Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS commission, urged those countries’ ruling juntas to respect agreed-upon deadlines to hand power to civilian leaders. “In the event of a failure to meet the transition deadlines, major sanctions could be imposed,” he said. The West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) on Saturday agreed to lift a suspension of Mali imposed in January 2022 over the military’s timeline for returning to civilian rule. … On Sunday, Touray said ECOWAS had set up a commission to examine security options in Mali as the UN winds down its decade-long peacekeeping mission there. AFP

Court Orders Govts of Ex-Presidents to Account for $5bn Abacha Loot
For failing to provide details of the projects executed or being executed with the $5 billion returned Abacha loot, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, weekend, ordered the administrations of former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari to account for the funds. The court also ordered the government of President Bola Tinubu to disclose the exact amount of money stolen by the former Head of State, late General Sani Abacha, total amount of Abacha loot recovered, and all agreements signed on same by the governments of former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan and Buhari. … In September 2022, SERAP had filed a lawsuit against the administration of former President Buhari over failure to publish a copy and details of the agreement the Federal Government signed with the United States for the repatriation of $23 million stolen by the former Head of State, Sani Abacha. Vanguard

Ghanaian Children Taken from Home over False Trafficking Claims
A little after midnight on 6 September, 2022, Musah Mustafa emerged from his thatched-roof hut to relieve himself and saw four cars speeding towards his tiny village. … Cars were a rare sight during the day, let alone at night. Musah hid behind a tree and watched. When he saw armed men from the cars approach the two homes, he shouted in an attempt to wake the other residents. But before anyone could act, the men entered the huts and forcibly removed four children, carrying an 11-year-old girl called Fatima by her arms and legs from the room where she had been sleeping with her grandparents. … Officially, it was a rescue operation carried out by Ghanaian police officers, under Ghana’s Human Trafficking Act. The children were transferred into the care of social services. The operation was instigated by a US-based charity, International Justice Mission (IJM). … But according to an investigation by BBC Africa Eye, IJM has removed some children from their families in cases where there was scarce-to-no evidence of trafficking. … That evidence shows that while IJM was telling their partners in both the police force and social services that the four children had been trafficked, internally the charity had reached a different conclusion. … But the mission to remove all four children, aged between five and 11, went ahead anyway because IJM concluded the children were at risk of being used for child labour, an issue that, although serious, would not have merited such an aggressive raid. BBC

BRICS Summit Will Be Held In-Person despite Putin Arrest Warrant, Says South African President
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday that next month’s BRICS summit, which Vladimir Putin has been invited to, will be held in-person despite an arrest warrant on the Russian leader. “The BRICS summit is going ahead and we are finalising our discussions on the format,” Ramaphosa told journalists on the sidelines of a conference by the ruling ANC, adding it will be a “physical” meeting. He did not say if Putin — who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over accusations that Russia unlawfully deported Ukrainian children — would attend or not. “We are going to have a physical BRICS summit, all of us are committed to having a summit where we will be able to eyeball each other,” he said in response to a question. “We have not held a physical summit for… almost three years. It’s not going to be virtual,” he stressed. … There had been rumours in the local media that Pretoria was considering moving the talks to China to avoid being put in the position of having to arrest Putin. The arrest warrant is a diplomatic dilemma for Pretoria, which has been close to the Kremlin since the anti-apartheid struggle years. AFP

Cholera Warning as South African Death Toll Nears 50
The health authorities in South Africa are urging residents of the province of Gauteng to be vigilant about the liquids they consume as the death toll from a winter outbreak of cholera rises to nearly 50. Unions and community groups have demanded more government intervention to improve water quality. Most of the deaths over the last six weeks have occurred in the Hammanskraal area, where residents say they have battled for weeks for access to clean water, but there have been cases across the country. In many areas, tap water is unsafe and people are forced to rely on government tankers. Cholera, which is mainly spread by contaminated food and water, causes acute diarrhoea and vomiting and can kill within hours if untreated. BBC

Security for All Africans
In this video, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ leadership and partners reflect on the Center’s vision of advancing security for all Africans championed by effective institutions accountable to their citizens. Addressing the complexity of Africa’s diverse security environment requires engaging a broad range of stakeholders—security sector professionals, civilian policymakers, civil society, media, and academics. By providing a trusted platform that facilitates exchanges between these diverse actors, the Africa Center deepens understanding of Africa’s security challenges and solutions. The relationships and professional networks that emerge from these engagements develop into enduring partnerships. By investing in individuals and African institutions, the Africa Center enhances African partners’ capacity to tackle the security challenges they face. Africa Center for Strategic Studies