Africa Media Review for July 15, 2020

UN-African Union Mission Working to Restore Calm after Recent Darfur Violence
The joint UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is working with Sudanese and local authorities to de-escalate tensions following recent violent incidents in two nearby towns, including a deadly attack on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). The peacekeeping mission reported that violence broke out in Kutum, located in North Darfur, on Sunday, while nine people were killed and 20 others injured, when unidentified armed men attacked the Fato Borno IDP camp the following morning. Protestors, mainly IDPs, have been holding sit-ins in front of Government buildings to demand improved security in the region, according to media reports. … “While the farming seasons in Darfur have witnessed such occurrences in the past, it is regrettable that these incidents have taken place while the transitional Government of Sudan and the armed movements are close to concluding negotiations expected to bring peace and stability, and the promise of prosperity to the Darfur region and the whole of Sudan,” the mission said on Tuesday. UN News

Mediation Postpones Initialing Sudan-Armed Groups Peace Deal
The initialing of the peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the armed has been delayed until a later date, due to the killing of a number of civilians in North Darfur and the need to strike a deal on the security arrangements. ” We decided to postpone the initialing of the agreement on the agreed issues because the peace process has not been completed. Actually, still, we have the security arrangements to be negotiated,” the South Sudanese mediator, Dhieu Matouk, told a press conference in Khartoum on Tuesday. … For its part, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front announced that the initialing of the peace agreement will take place after the conclusion of an agreement on security arrangements and the other outstanding issues. Sudan Tribune

‘My Son Died the Worst Kind of Death’: Horrific Details of Violent Unrest in Ethiopia
According to official statistics, at least 239 people were killed during a week of violent unrest in Ethiopia sparked by the assassination of a celebrated singer, Hachalu Hundessa, on June 29. He was a politically significant figure for the historically marginalised Oromo community, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, and his death sparked protests, riots and brutal killings across the country. An internet blackout imposed by Ethiopia’s government ensured few details of the violence have emerged publicly. However, the Mail & Guardian was able to speak to relatives of the deceased who gave eyewitness accounts of the unrest. … According to Dereje [Dereje Feleke, a resident of Dera], on the night of June 28, hundreds of young Oromo men armed with clubs and machetes targeted ethnic minorities in Dera. They roamed from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, stopping at the homes of people like Dereje, who is of ethnic Amhara ancestry. Mail & Guardian

Ethiopia Enters 3rd Week of Internet Shutdown after Unrest
Ethiopia is entering its third week without internet service for almost everyone after days of deadly unrest, as the government in Africa’s diplomatic and aviation hub says it’s trying to prevent speech that could further inflame ethnic tensions. The internet cut has damaged the economy in Africa’s second most populous nation, with nearly 110 million people, as it struggles with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. It also has revived some fears of government repression. An update by internet monitoring group NetBlocks on Tuesday evening said some fixed-line internet had started to return but the more widespread mobile internet remained cut. … The cut also has hurt the dissemination of key information about the coronavirus pandemic as Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, is the home of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other arms of the African Union continental body. AP

Tensions Reignite between Ethiopia and Egypt over Nile Dam
New images captured in the last week by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite suggest that Ethiopia may have started filling its massive Nile River dam, as tensions over the project continue. Ethiopia denied the assertion but maintains the country’s position that it is still on track to begin the multi-year process of filling the dam later this month. The images set off a flurry of speculation, with Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan deadlocked in talks over the dam’s future. … International Crisis Group analyst William Davison told The Associated Press that the water seen in the images from July 9 might be a result of rainy season overflow rather than a move by the government. … Reuters reported on Tuesday that the talks hosted by the African Union between the three nations failed to reach a consensus as Ethiopia moves forward with its intentions. On Monday, the Egyptian irrigation ministry confirmed that the three countries will submit a report, with South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa as a mediator. VOA

Eastern Parliament Seeks Egypt’s Direct Intervention in Libya War
Libya’s eastern-based parliament approved a motion authorising neighbouring Egypt to directly intervene militarily in the country’s war if needed to counter Turkey’s support for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). The body in Tobruk backs renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, who fought a 14-month, ultimately unsuccessful, campaign to seize Libya’s capital, Tripoli, from the GNA. After months of impasse, Turkish military support helped the GNA to turn the tide of the conflict in recent weeks and drive Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) – backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia – from Libya’s northwest. The battle lines have now solidified near Sirte, a central coastal city seen as the gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals. Al Jazeera

Egyptian Dissident Battles Extradition in Spanish Court
An Egyptian dissident whose online videos ignited a flurry of rare antigovernment protests last year is fighting against extradition from Spain, as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt campaigns to silence his most vocal critics abroad. The dissident, the construction magnate Mohamed Ali, has been living in self-imposed exile in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia since 2018. Last year he posted a series of videos about corruption in Mr. el-Sisi’s circle, driven by his own complaints of being cheated, that set off a powerful wave of street protests in Cairo and several other cities. Several thousand young protesters clashed with the police and chanted slogans in an unusual show of defiance against Mr. el-Sisi’s oppressive rule. The New York Times

Gulf of Guinea Re-Emerges as Hotspot for Piracy, Allianz Says
The West African coast has overtaken Southeast Asia as the worst area for piracy and kidnappings reported at sea last year, with the number of seafarers seized rising by more than 50%, according to a study. The area, known as the Gulf of Guinea, also recorded the third highest number of ship losses — its most yet, Allianz Global, an insurance company with headquarters in Germany said Tuesday in a report. Abductions accounted for 90% of the global total in 2019, according to the International Maritime Bureau. “Piracy remains an ongoing issue,” said Rahul Khanna, global head of marine risk at Allianz. “We thought we had a handle on it but it has manifested yet again.” … Despite a global decline in piracy last year, there has been no let-up in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in 2020, especially off Nigeria’s coast. About 45% of global piracy occurred in the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of this year, according to Allianz. Bloomberg

ECOWAS Names Ex-President Jonathan Special Envoy for Mali
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has appointed former Nigerian President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as special envoy to lead its mediation mission in Mali. In a statement issued by his media adviser, Ikechukwu Eze, yesterday, the sub-regional body disclosed that Jonathan’s appointment was aimed at resolving the worsening socio-political situation in Mali. As a special envoy, the former President would facilitate dialogue with major stakeholders in Mali, including President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, opposition leaders, civil society and religious organisations towards resolving the socio-political crisis in the country. The Guardian (Nigeria)

Presidential Race in Ivory Coast Takes a Dangerous Turn
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara must tread carefully to keep preelection tensions at bay. Much will depend on his choice of a presidential candidate. Experts hope he will not step forward himself. … The death of Coulibaly changed the Ivorian political landscape. The president might feel he has no choice left but to run himself, to guarantee the victory of his party, the Rally of the Republicans (RDR). “In March, he made a great play in saying it is time to hand over to a new generation,” Paul Melly, consulting fellow for the Chatham House Africa Program, told DW. … Ivory Coast has a very young population, with a median age of under 19. Young people are increasingly frustrated with the power structures of the country. “They want people who can deliver jobs, better public services, more social equality, more opportunities and, of course, after the COVID downturn, help navigate the country through this very difficult period,” Melly said. DW

Somalia ‘Not Ready’ for Direct Elections, Federal State Leaders Say
Somalia had planned to hold parliamentary elections by the end of October, and presidential elections by February. … On Sunday, the five federal state leaders instead invited President Mohamed Farmaajo and his Premier Hassan Khaire to discuss an “alternative” but inclusive method, which they argued should be conducted within schedule. A universal suffrage, they argued, would be unfeasible given the “limited” time. … That stance means they are opposed to any delays as proposed by the National Independent Electoral Commission. But they said they were turning a leaf in dialogue, especially with the federal government with which they have bickered on issues of economy and politics. The East African

UN Commission Warns New Burundi Leader Needs Watching
A United Nations commission of inquiry warns that it will take more than a new president to reverse the trend of repression in the East African country of Burundi. The commission warned the U.N. Human Rights Council on Tuesday that the election won by President Evariste Ndayishimiye in May was marked by “political intolerance” even though no widespread violence was recorded. … The U.N. commission of inquiry says the new government looks much like the previous one, including some senior figures under international sanctions. The commission in a statement Tuesday urged Burundi’s new leader to signal his willingness to cooperate with the international community by reopening the U.N. human rights office in the country. …  In a note of optimism, the U.N. commission welcomed the new president’s turnaround in treating the coronavirus pandemic more seriously than his predecessor. AP

Zambia Denies Accusations President Edgar Lungu Bankrolled Rwandan Rebels
Zambia’s government on Tuesday rejected claims that President Edgar Lungu had bankrolled a Rwandan rebel leader accused of orchestrating deadly attacks in his country’s border regions. The claims were made by the rebel chief, Callixte Nsabimana, who is on trial for terrorism and other charges. He has already admitted to working with other foreign governments against Rwanda. During his latest hearing on Monday, Nsabimana told a Rwandan high court that Lungu had promised his National Liberation Front (FLN) $1 million to help oust the administration in Kigali. He said Lungu had made a down payment of $150 000 in support of “rebel attacks to remove President Paul Kagame from power.” In a statement on Tuesday, the Zambian presidency said it “would like to categorically refute these claims.” AFP

Malawi Police Arrest Former President’s Aide for Alleged Corruption
Police in Malawi have arrested a bodyguard of former President Peter Mutharika for allegedly helping him avoid nearly $7 million in import duties. Mutharika has denied knowledge of the scheme, which saw cement for construction of his private property imported duty free. Norman Chisale is one several people whom police arrested Tuesday for alleged involvement in the cement importation deal. Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed the arrest but refused further comment to avoid jeopardizing the investigation. … Kadadzera, however, said besides Chisale, police are interrogating several other people on the matter. … The arrests are part of an anti-corruption crackdown initiated after Mutharika lost the June 23rd presidential election and new President Lazarus Chakwera took office. VOA

After Years of Violence, a Kenyan Village Enjoys Precious Peace
… [A] clash between Lorengippi’s Turkana residents and neighbouring Pokot killed 23 people in 2013, said Nathan Ekal, the village chief. Their bodies are buried in a mass grave on the outskirts of Lorengippi. The bloodshed shocked government officials, despite the region’s long history of deadly cattle raids and inter-ethnic violence. Police mounted an operation to collect weapons, established a base and built a checkpoint on the border with West Pokot. Most importantly, said Ekal, the communities formed peace committees to resolve disagreements right after the 2013 killings. The new security ushered in some development – a school, a small clinic and a new road connecting the village to the county capital of Lodwar, 90 km (55 miles) away. Cross-border raids still take place but for now the committees are resolving the issues. Livestock are being returned and there have been no mass killings in recent years. Reuters

Fake Pharmaceutical Industry Thrives in West Africa
It is rare to have a conversation in Nigeria about the problem of falsified medicine without a mention of the My Pikin syrup tragedy. In 2009, 84 children were killed by a batch of teething syrup that contained diethylene glycol, an industrial solvent and ingredient found in antifreeze and brake fluid. Two employees from the company which made the syrup were found guilty by a court. The case was significant as convictions for manufacturing or selling falsified medicines remain uncommon in Nigeria. “That’s the one that got into the papers,” Dr Alero Roberts said, adding: “We’ve had numerous issues.” … She is concerned there may be more in the coming months due to the effect Covid-19 is having on the supply of drugs in Nigeria. “There are shortages looming – cancer drugs, antibiotics,” Dr Roberts said. BBC

Civil Unrest on the Rise Globally
Global civil unrest is on the rise, as every region of the world has experienced hundreds of civil unrest events over the last decade, according to the latest edition of the Global Peace Index (GPI) report. The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) in its 2020 report said a key trend identified in this year’s research is the growing level of civil unrest across the world. … This reflects a longer-term trend, with riots around the world increasing by 282% in the last decade, while general strikes are up by 821%. … Civil unrest in sub-Saharan Africa rose by more than 800% over the period, from 32 riots and protests in 2011 to 292 in 2018. … The 800% increase in incidents of civil unrest in sub-Saharan Africa was mostly driven by events occurring after 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest proportion of violent demonstrations, with riots making up 42.6% of total events, the IEP said. Nigeria accounted for the largest number of demonstrations and the largest increase. DefenceWeb

Cameroonian Artist Paints Picture of African Continent Full of Talent
The entrance to Jean-David Nkot’s studio is not easy to find- it’s nestled down an alleyway in the Nkongmondo neighborhood of Douala, Cameroon, past the statue of homegrown hero Samuel Eto’o, a footballer who played for Chelsea. This is where Nkot creates his large canvasses, filled with color and symbolism and dealing with 21st century issues– specifically, migration. … “I speak of violent problems emerging within society, but I give it an aesthetic element. At the same time, the world is not only about violence, and you have to convey hope in what you’re creating– this is how I deal with color in my work,” he says. Nkot uses stamps and maps in his work as a way of starting a discussion, he says, while the viewer looks at the central figure of his canvas. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones