Africa Media Review for July 11, 2023

Mali Catastrophe Accelerating under Junta Rule
The threat of militant Islamist groups is spreading to all parts of Mali as the military junta stakes its claim to stay in power indefinitely. The threat from militant Islamist groups in Mali continues to escalate in tempo and scale. With the military junta’s continued exclusion of other domestic political actors and alienation of regional and international security partners, the prospect of Mali’s collapse grows increasingly likely. Mali is on pace to see over 1,000 violent events involving militant Islamist groups in 2023, eclipsing last year’s record levels of violence and a nearly three-fold increase from when the junta seized power in 2020. … Much of the north of the country has come under the de facto rule of militant Islamist groups. … The military junta, which has repeatedly ignored timetables to transition to a legitimate, civilian authority, has systematically alienated security partners from neighboring states, ECOWAS, France, the European Union, and the United Nations. It has effectively ceded territorial control of Mali’s northern region to the militant Islamist groups, inflaming tensions with the Tuareg groups that had been cooperating with the government to combat the militant Islamists. While Mali teeters under the strain of the escalating security threat, the junta appears focused on consolidating its hold on power. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

World Population Day: Populations in Africa Surge
As the United Nations prepares to mark World Population Day (July 11) , the demographic of nations around the globe is dramatically changing. Growing populations in India and Africa are leading to greater development but they both also face the brunt of climate change. … Despite facing many of the same obstacles the African continent is the centre of much interest. It’s the fastest growing and youngest population according to Tighisti Amare the Deputy Director of the Africa Programme at the Chatham House think tank in London. Tighisti Amare, Deputy Director, Africa Programme Chatham House says: “70% of Africans are under the age of 30 and this is happening while many of the developed world, the developed nations, are experiencing a rapidly aging population.” According to Amare the growth in population on the continent should be seen as a benefit and not a burden. … Amare also believes the continents’ youth will also be a key to its long-term security and prosperity, despite climate change. AfricaNews

‘Banned until Further Notice’: Nigeria Governor Imposes Curfew after New Attacks
Nigeria imposed a 24-hour curfew in a north-central region after more tit-for-tat attacks killed at least another nine people. The move was imposed on Sunday in Mangu district in Plateau State followed two months of clashes between nomadic herders and pastoral farmers that community leaders say left more than 200 dead. Intercommunal violence often flares in Plateau, which straddles the dividing line between Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. Plateau Governor Caleb Mutfwang imposed a 24-hour ban on movement after more attacks in Mangu over the weekend. … In the latest unrest, gunman raided villages in the Sabon Gari area of Mangu on Sunday, killing at least nine people in a “reprisal” attack, said regional military spokesperson Major James Oya. … Farmers blame Muslim Fulani herders for attacks on mostly Christian villages though herdsman associations dismiss those charges and say their communities are also raided. The State chair of Miyyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Nuru Abdullahi, said eight Fulani settlements were attacked on Friday, leaving 15 people dead. He blamed security forces for the raid. But army spokesperson Oya said he was still confirming details of that attack. Northwest and central Nigeria have long struggled with violence between nomadic cattle ranchers and settled farmers who accuse herdsmen of invading farmland with their grazing. News24/AFP

Newly Elected ECOWAS Chairman Vows Firmness in Face of Coups
The newly elected ECOWAS Chairperson Bola Tinubu reaffirmed Sunday (Jul. 09), the bloc’s commitment to democracy as the best form of governance. The Nigerian president who was in Bissau with fellow west African leaders promised firmness in the face of coups. The 15-member bloc has witnessed a total of five coups in 3 member countries since 2020. “Without democracy there’s no governance, there’s no freedom, there’s no rule of law. We will not allow coup after coup in West Africa sub-region,” Tinubu declared to thunderous applause. … Tinubu warned that the threat to peace in the sub-region had reached an alarming proportion with terrorism and an emerging pattern of military takeover that demanded urgent and concerted actions. … Tinubu called for collective action from member states, pledging that under his leadership, frameworks would be harmonized to actualize the dreams of ECOWAS. … While decrying the emerging pattern of coups d’etat in West Africa, where soldiers have truncated the popular mandate, Tinubu charged ECOWAS to stand firm in defense of democracy. AfricaNews/Anadolu

Rights Group Calls for Criminal Court to Investigate Sudan War Crimes
The escalating conflict between warring military forces in Sudan is overshadowed by media and policy attention to Ukraine. Yet Sudan’s location and its humanitarian crisis merit urgent and sustained attention. As Africa’s third largest country, Sudan borders seven other nations in a strategic and troubled region, where instability could intensify, with the possibility of spilling into the adjoining Red Sea, disrupting shipping and trade through the Suez Canal. Sudan’s capital, Khartoum – a major metropolis – has suffered massive destruction. Severe food shortages are projected to affect more than 19 million Sudanese if the current fighting is not curbed in the next two to three months. The United Nations says the “catastrophic” situation has put an estimated 25 million people – more than half Sudan’s population – in need of aid and protection. … Today HRW has issued a report on the escalating violence in Darfur, an area that captured attention twenty years ago for the brutality of attacks on civilians and the expressions of ethnic hatred towards its darker skinned population. The perpetrators were never held accountable, and a leader of those attacks is now one of Sudan’s warring generals. … “The magnitude of the violence since April in Darfur is significant even in a region that has witnessed countless atrocities against civilians for two decades, the report says. ” Over 400,000 Darfuris were already refugees in Chad as a result of earlier violence.” AllAfrica

Sudan Military Intelligence Continues to Detain Critical Voices
Critical voices and political opponents of the Sudanese army, including a sheikh who called for peace, face detentions throughout Sudan at the hands of Military Intelligence or security forces. Detainees have been accused of supporting the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) or other opponents of the army, often with little to no evidence. The family of detained Sheikh Mousa Burma said that a division of Military Intelligence raided the house of the sheikh in northern El Doroshab, Khartoum North (Bahri), at night in early June. In a statement yesterday, the family said that it holds the Ammunition Intelligence Division in El Doroshab responsible for his safety. Sheikh Burma is the Imam of the Falah Mosque and has been a teacher at the Quran school in the neighbourhood for more than thirty years. The force did not publicise any charges and took him to an unknown destination. During the raid, the intelligence division seized all mobile telephones and money that was intended for the evacuation of family members to a safe place far from war zones. So far, all attempts to find out either the reason for his detention or the place of his detention failed. Dabanga

Sudan Refuses to Attend Regional Peace Talks in Ethiopia
Sudan’s government refused Monday to join a regional meeting aimed at ending nearly three months of brutal fighting, accusing Kenya, which chaired the talks, of favouring the rival paramilitaries. A power struggle between Sudanese army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), spilled into war in mid-April and has since killed thousands of people and displaced millions. The east African regional bloc IGAD had invited the foes to a meeting in Ethiopia’s capital on Monday, while fighting still raged across Sudan. Neither Burhan nor Daglo personally attended the talks in Addis Ababa, although the RSF sent a representative to the “quartet” meeting led by Kenya, South Sudan, Djibouti and Ethiopia. … IGAD said it would request the African Union to look into possibly deploying the East Africa Standby Force—usually tasked with election observer missions—in Sudan “for the protection of civilians and… humanitarian access”. Sudanese ex-rebel leader Mubarak Ardol, now aligned with Burhan, denounced “a plan to occupy Sudan” and moves to “promote military interference”, while praising the army for boycotting the meeting. France24

A Libyan Court Jails 38 Human Traffickers over the Deaths of 11 Europe-Bound Migrants at Sea
A court in eastern Libya sentenced five people to life in prison after they were convicted of human trafficking over the deaths of 11 migrants who were on a rickety boat trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, the office of Libya’s chief prosecutor said Monday. The court in the city of Bayda also sentenced nine other defendants to 15 years in prison each, the office of General Prosecutor al-Sediq al-Sourr said in a statement. Another 24 others were jailed for a year, the statement added. The defendants were part of a network smuggling migrants from Libya to Europe, it said. The statement did not say when the deadly shipwreck took place or provide further details. … In recent years, Libya has become a major transit point for Middle Eastern and African migrants fleeing conflict and poverty to seek a better life in Europe. The oil-rich country descended into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi. Human traffickers have benefited from the instability in Libya, smuggling migrants across borders from six nations, including Egypt, Algeria and Sudan. They then pack desperate people into ill-equipped rubber boats and other vessels for the risky voyage across the central Mediterranean. AP

South Sudan: Returned Refugees Face a Humanitarian Crisis
Thousands of South Sudanese who had crossed into Sudan since 2012 when war broke out in their country have returned home. They are being settled into already congested camps, for more than 2 million internally displaced persons, that lack basic necessities like shelter, food, and water. Many cannot return to villages razed by floods in the last four years or destroyed by fighting between different warring factions. Humanitarian organizations caring for the returnees say they are overwhelmed and have called on the international community for more funding. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also said they expect many more people to return to South Sudan in the near future. … Martha Nyakuma Mawech, 35, left South Sudan in 2013 after her village was attacked. She had to leave some of her family behind. She started a new life in Sudan and had planned to stay. … “I can’t find the words to describe the journey home. Many people were shot dead. Some starved to death. Many were trapped in shelters without food. It was hard,” she said. … More than 7.8 million people in South Sudan are projected to fall short of their minimum food needs in 2023. South Sudan may experience greater widespread hunger and starvation than during its civil war, according to the International Rescue Committee. DW

Armed Group Kills Peacekeeper in Central African Republic, UN Says
An unidentified armed group attacked a U.N. peacekeeping patrol Monday in the Central African Republic, killing a peacekeeper from Rwanda, the United Nations said. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said initial reports indicated the U.N. patrol returned fire and killed three of the assailants. The attack happened as the peacekeepers were providing a protective presence around the town of Sam-Ouandja, in the Haute Kotto prefecture in the Central African Republic’s east, Dujarric said. Peacekeepers were deployed to Sam-Ouandja last week in response to an attack on the town by an armed group, which fled after the peacekeepers intervened, he said. He said the U.N. mission had expanded the security perimeter around the town over the past five days to protect the community and support aid deliveries. AP

Mauritania Appeals for Mali to Return to the G5 Sahel Organisation
The president of Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani, called for the return of Mali to the G5 Sahel organisation. Mali left the regional military alliance fighting jihadist groups in May last year citing “loss of autonomy” and “instrumentalization” within the organisation. The appeal took place on Monday in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, at the opening of the 4th session of the General Assembly of the Sahel Alliance, a platform of 27 bilateral partners and donors set up to mobilise international aid for the development of the region. The junta that has ruled Mali since 2020 has broken with France and its allies turning to Russia for help. AfricaNews

Nigeria Intercepts Tanker with Stolen Crude Oil
Nigeria’s state-owned oil company says an oil tanker carrying 800,000 litres of stolen crude has been intercepted offshore while heading to Cameroon. It said the vessel would be destroyed as a deterrent. Nigeria’s state-owned oil firm said the oil had been stolen from a well in the south-western state of Ondo. Oil theft from pipelines and wells in the Niger Delta is a major problem for the Nigerian economy, robbing it of much needed revenue. The oil company said that the Nigerian registered tanker had been operating in what it called stealth mode for the last 12 years. BBC

Climate-Caused Conflicts Flare among Chad’s Fulani People
[Video] At a U.N. Security Council meeting last month, speakers urged member states to do more to counter the security threat posed by climate change. Meanwhile, in Chad, conflicts between farmers and herders from the Fulani ethnic group are flaring as warming temperatures further reduce already scarce water and useable land. Henry Wilkins reports from N’Djamena, Chad. VOA

Runoff Highly Likely in Zimbabwe as Zanu PF and CCC Enter Electioneering Home Stretch, Survey Finds
If Zimbabwe were to hold its general election today, Zanu PF would win ahead of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) but it would fail to get the required majority and the election would go into a runoff. This is according to recent results from an Afrobarometer survey in partnership with the Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), a Zimbabwean research institute that gauges public opinion on issues of governance and public concern. The survey says Zanu PF would command 35% of the vote while CCC would receive 27%. This would set the stage for a presidential runoff since the law dictates that the winner should command 50% plus one vote of the electorate. … The survey also claims that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s popularity has been gradually waning post the November 2017 coup that ousted Mugabe, but his support base has strengthened by 5% since June last year. A significant number of respondents refused to reveal their preferences for the parliamentary (26%) and presidential elections (27%). While there’s some positive reflection for Zanu PF, the downside is that 85% of the respondents in both rural and urban centres were of the view that the government has failed the economy. News24

Iran’s President to Set Out on Rare Africa Tour
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will embark Tuesday on a rare Africa tour in the latest diplomatic efforts to reduce the Islamic republic’s isolation by forging new alliances. The three-day trip—which includes Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe—will be the first by an Iranian president to Africa in 11 years. Raisi will head a delegation that includes Iran’s foreign minister as well as senior businesspeople. He is scheduled to meet with presidents from the three countries, according to the official IRNA news agency. On Monday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani described the trip as “a new turning point” which could bolster economic and trade ties with African nations. He also said the rapprochement is based “on common political views” between Tehran and the three African countries. Iran has stepped up its diplomacy in recent months to reduce its isolation and offset the impact of crippling sanctions reimposed since the 2018 withdrawal of the United States from a painstakingly negotiated nuclear deal. VOA

Egypt Constructs $5bn Artificial River Parallel to River Nile
Egypt is building an artificial river, spanning 114 kilometres in length, parallel to the Nile River, Egypt Independent reported. The Nile River, whose distant source is believed to be Nyungwe forest from Rwanda, is the primary water source of Egypt, Sudan and South Sudan. Additionally, the Nile is an important economic river, supporting agriculture and fishing. Egypt is digging through the desert to create the largest artificial river in the northwest of the country, next to the Dabaa nuclear power plant, as part of its ‘New Delta’ project. The project, valued at 160 billion Egyptian pounds ($5.25 billion), will be the longest of its kind in the world and irrigate 2.2 million acres. New Times

Ugandan Engineer Wins Africa’s Largest Engineering Innovation Award
Ugandan software engineer Anatoli Kirigwajjo has warned the overall winner of this year’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Kirigwajjo, developed Yunga, a local digital security network that connects neighbours to each other and to police within a 20km radius through a physical device, smartphone app or SMS service, providing security at low cost. This innovation won him the overall award during a ceremony held in Accra, Ghana. Kirigwajjo said he was excited for having won the continental prize which he said will reinvigorate his innovation efforts. … He said the prestigious continental award will facilitate his expansion and connecting of an additional 3,000 households to the Yunga Network, with a focus on vulnerable women-led households. “This expansion aims to create a safer environment, foster economic growth, and empower these communities.This recognition validates our efforts and motivates us to continue developing cutting-edge solutions for underserved communities,” Kirigwajjo said. Kirigwajjo shared the award with South African biomedical engineer, Edmund Wessels for his FlexiGyn project, a handheld device from South Africa designed for diagnosing and treating uterine problems at a low cost. NilePost