Africa Media Review for July 11, 2024

Mali Junta Re-authorizes Political Activities Suspended in April
Mali’s ruling junta announced on Wednesday, July 10, that it was re-authorizing activities of political parties and political associations, which it had suspended in April…The parties at the time were protesting the colonels’ decision to stay in power beyond a March 2024 deadline for returning to civilian rule. The main parties and what remains of the opposition boycotted the “dialogue”, which went ahead anyway with supporters of the regime, who in May issued “recommendations” that the military remain in power “for two to five additional years”, and that the current head of the junta be allowed to run in any future presidential elections. Le Monde with AFP

Kagame Expected to Cruise to Fourth Term in Rwanda Election
Rwandan President Paul Kagame is expected to cruise to a fourth term in office in an election on Monday against two opposition candidates who were cleared to run against him but have only modest expectations. Kagame, 66, helped lead the rebel movement that ended the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and has served as president since 2000. He faces only two rivals because six other potential candidates were not cleared to run by the state-run electoral commission…His reelection could signal further stability but also continued global scrutiny, given accusations of rights abuses and continued tensions with neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo…The two approved candidates, Frank Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana, ran against Kagame in 2017…Over 9 million voters are registered for the polls in which they will also elect members of the 80-seat lower house of parliament. Provisional results are expected by July 20. Reuters

Millions of Lives Upended as Sudan’S Civil War Leads to Major Displacement Crisis.
According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, there are about 10 million internally displaced people in Sudan, making it the country with “the largest internally displaced population ever reported”…More than 7 million have been internally displaced since the war began, of whom about 4 million are children, according to Unicef…A further 2 million people have fled to neighbouring countries…In Ethiopia’s north-western Amhara region, which shares a border with Sudan and is struggling with its own conflict between insurgents and government forces, an estimated 8,000 refugees were forced to leave UN camps after repeated attacks, gunfire and kidnappings. The mass displacement has made Sudan’s humanitarian emergency even more acute. Aid organisations have been sounding the alarm, reporting shortages of medicine, food and shelter as populations in refugee camps and makeshift settlements across the country continue to increase. The Guardian

South Sudan’s President Sacks Finance Minister, Sixth since 2020
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has sacked the country’s finance minister who was just four months into the job, state-owned television reported, the sixth replacement in the post since 2020. Kiir gave no reason for firing Awow Daniel Chuong, who was appointed in mid March this year, the report said late on Wednesday, and economist Marial Deng has been tapped to replace him as finance minister. South Sudan’s economy has been under pressure in recent years amid communal violence, with crude oil export revenue having dwindled since a 2013-2018 civil war and more recently export disruptions due to war in neighbouring Sudan. Reuters

UN Tells Kiir to Reject Security Law Changes
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan wants President Salva Kiir to return proposed security law amendments to parliament for revision. The Commission said in a press release sent to Radio Tamazuj Wednesday that the National Security Service Act (Amendment) Bill, passed by legislators last week, would entrench arbitrary detention and further repression by National Security Service (NSS). The Commission wants the Bill aligned with South Sudan’s human rights obligations…The Commission has previously reported in detail on human rights violations by NSS, including the illegal prolonged and arbitrary detentions without judicial oversight or accountability, extraordinary renditions of civil society members and political opponents from neighboring countries. Rights Commissioner Barney Afako stated that as South Sudan prepares for its first elections since independence, the citizenry must be able to exercise their civil and political rights without fear of retribution. Radio Tamazuj

ECOWAS Court Holds Nigeria Liable for Human Rights Violations during #EndSARS Protests
The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja ruled on Wednesday that Nigeria violated the rights of citizens during the 2020 anti-police brutality demonstrations, popularly tagged EndSARS protests.
The #EndSARS protest erupted in numerous Nigerian cities in October 2020. At the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State, where it was most pronounced, security forces shot at peaceful protesters. At least 46 unarmed protesters were either shot dead, injured with bullets, or assaulted by security forces at the Lekki toll gate on 20 October 2020, a panel of inquiry set up by the Lagos State Government found out. Similar attacks on peaceful demonstrators took place in other parts of the country during the protests. The ECOWAS Court gave its decision affirming the violation of the rights of three Nigerians who participated in the protest at Lekki Toll Gate…The EndSARS protests were aimed at the brutality and heavy-handed tactics of the Nigerian police, particularly their tactical unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), whose operatives were notorious for inhuman treatment and extortion of citizens. Premium Times

DR Congo Detects at Least 25 Mpox Cases in Goma, Mainly in Displacement Camps
At least 25 cases of a dangerous new strain of mpox spreading through the Democratic Republic of Congo have been detected in the eastern city of Goma, mostly in camps housing people fleeing a surrounding conflict, health authorities said on Wednesday. Congo has seen 20,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths from mpox, mainly among children, since the start of 2023. Over 11,000 cases, including 443 deaths, have been reported so far this year…Authorities recently approved the use of vaccines to tackle the upsurge, but none are currently available outside of clinical trials in the country. The head of the national response team against the mpox epidemic, Cris Kacita, said in an interview that most of the new reported cases were in displaced people camps. He said cases were infected with a new strain of the virus that is spreading in South Kivu province. Goma is the capital and largest city of the neighbouring North Kivu province. Reuters

UN: Libya Remains Mired in Crisis as Political Leaders Violate Human Rights to Cling to Power
The U.N.’s chief human rights official accuses Libya’s political leaders of crushing political dissent to cling to power, leaving the country divided and its people mired in crisis, poverty, and misery. In a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council Tuesday, Volker Türk, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, presented a stinging rebuke of the methods employed by Libya’s governing elite to eviscerate its political opponents and remain in charge…The high commissioner’s report covers the human rights situation in Libya in the 12 months since April 2023. The report outlines “some disturbing developments,” among them an escalation in arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances and detention-related violations…While the figure of those arrested is likely to be higher, he noted that his office has verified at least 60 cases of arbitrary detention of people who were “peacefully exercising their right to express political views.” VOA

Ugandan TikToker Jailed for Insulting President
A Ugandan court has sentenced a 24-year-old man to six years in prison for insulting the president and the first family through his video posted on TikTok. Edward Awebwa was charged with hate speech and spreading “misleading and malicious” information against President Yoweri Museveni, First Lady Janet Museveni and son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is the head of the military. The court also heard that Awebwa had shared abusive information – saying there would be an increase in taxes under President Museveni…He was sentenced to six years for each of the four charges against him, which are to run concurrently. Rights groups regularly denounce Ugandan authorities for violations of human rights and freedom of expression…In 2022 [President Museveni] signed into law a against speech which rights groups criticised, saying it was aimed at suppressing freedom of speech online. Last year, the constitutional court ruled that a section of the act that penalised “offensive communication” was unconstitutional. BBC

UN Declares 2025 to 2034 the Decade to Combat Increasing Sand and Dust Storms from Africa to China
The U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday declared 2025 to 2034 the United Nations Decade on Combating Sand and Dust Storms — extreme weather events that are increasing and threatening health and economies from central Africa to northern China. Uganda’s U.N. Ambassador Godfrey Kwoba, who introduced the resolution on behalf of the Group of 77, a powerful U.N. group of 134 developing countries and China, told the 193-member assembly the initiative aims to “halt and mitigate the negative effects of sand and dust storms ” through “international and regional cooperation”…In a 2022 report, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification said… storms can exacerbate respiratory illnesses, kill crops and livestock, and increase desertification, though documentation of their impact is limited…The majority of emissions result from natural conditions, but droughts and climate change exacerbate the issue, it said. AP

Morocco to Acquire Israeli Spy Satellite Worth $1 Bln- Media
Morocco plans to acquire a spy satellite from Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) in a $1 billion deal, Moroccan media reported on Wednesday. The state-owned IAI said on Tuesday it entered a $1 billion contract to supply one of its systems to an unnamed third party. IAI, which makes some of Israel’s most advanced drones and missile defense systems, said in a regulatory filing in Tel Aviv that the deal will be carried out over five years. Under the contract, IAI will supply the Ofek 13 spy satellite that will replace two Airbus and Thales satellites, Moroccan news websites Le Desk and Le 360 reported, citing Israeli sources in Rabat. The head of the Israeli mission in Rabat and Morocco’s foreign ministry have not responded to a Reuters request for comment. Israel and Morocco agreed a defence pact in 2021, covering intelligence and cooperation in military industries and procurement. Reuters