Africa Media Review for July 18 2022

An Attack on a Military Base in Somalia Shows Al-Shabab’s Deadly Power
In the predawn hours, the militants of alShabab attacked the peacekeepers’ base from every direction with lethal precision. Suicide bombers detonated three cars filled with explosives. Islamist fighters then pounded the facility with heavy gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades, killing several dozen African Union peacekeepers from Burundi. Footage posted on social media showed bodies in military uniforms scattered around the base. “The Burundians were caught unaware,” said Sadaq Mokhtar Abdulle, a Somali Parliament member representing the village of El Baraf, where the base was located. “They were killed in cold blood. And the others fled.” The May 2 assault claimed more than 50 lives, according to local officials and Western security personnel in Somalia, making it the deadliest strike on the U.S.-backed peacekeeping mission here in six years. Its success underscored the resurgence of al-Shabab and the challenges that African and American troops will face in containing the group. Washington Post

Sarcastic Paul Kagame Sets Tongues Wagging About Rwanda 2024 Election
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame’s comment that he intends to rule Rwanda for the next 20 years has ignited a debate about his intentions to run for a fourth term in 2024. Asked if he would seek re-election in an interview with French channel France 24 on July 8, the President said: “I would consider running for another 20 years. I have no problem with that. Elections are about people choosing. He argued that for all the criticism, the country has not been accused of holding unfair elections, unlike “a case going on in an advanced democracy,” in reference to the US. In Rwanda, many viewed his response as sarcastic and a veiled expression of frustration at the constant question put to him by Western journalists about when he intends to step down but outside the country, it is fuelling speculation that he intends to stay in power for life. East African

John Godfrey Confirmed as First US Ambassador to Sudan in 25 Years
The US Senate has confirmed John Godfrey as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the USA to Sudan. Sudan has been served by a deputy ambassador, making Ambassador Godfrey, who is expected to take up his post in Khartoum within days, the first fully ranked US ambassador to Sudan in 25 years. John Godfrey is no stranger to the region – during his time in Libya before the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, he worked on humanitarian and political issues related to Darfur; in the Counterterrorism Bureau. The confirmation of his appointment coincides with a vote by the US Congress to overwhelmingly approve a draft resolution on Thursday, condemning the October 25 military coup, and voicing support for the people of Sudan. In remarks following his nomination, Godfrey said that he sees the nomination as a chance to continue the fight against terrorism – a key problem in the region. “In important ways, this nomination represents a continuation of those efforts [terrorism fight]. If confirmed, I will draw on that broad experience to advance US interests in Sudan,” he said. The USA was set to send an ambassador just under a year after the 25 October 2021 coup which had affected humanitarian work. Dabanga

Sudan Reopens Border Crossing with Ethiopia
Sudan on Sunday announced the reopening of the border crossing with Ethiopia citing confiding building measures by Addis Ababa. After the collapse of the al-Bashir regime in April 2019, relations between Sudan and Ethiopia remained strained due to cross-border by the Amhara militiamen. Accordingly, the Sudanese authorities closed and reopened the strategic crossing several times. In a statement released on Sunday, the Sudanese army spokesman said the Technical Committee of the Security and Defence Council chaired by the head of the Sovereign Council decided to open the Gallabat crossing point starting from Sunday, July 17. Brigadier Nabil Abdallah Ali pointed to the talks between the leadership of the two countries to settle the border dispute. Ali further added saying the decision was “in return for the goodwill measures shown by the Ethiopian side to prevent the infiltration of armed elements into Sudanese territory”. On July 5, al-Burhan and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed to form a joint committee to end the border dispute between the two countries. Sudan Tribune

UN Says Flooding Kills 12 People in Sudan’s Darfur Region
Flash floods triggered by seasonal torrential rains in Sudan’s western Darfur region killed at least 12 people, including children, the U.N. and an aid group said Sunday. Heavy rains started late Friday in the Kass locality in South Darfur province, according to the the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA. Citing Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission, OCHA said around 540 people were affected by the flooding, which also destroyed or damaged more than 100 houses in an area inhabited by displaced people. Toby Harward, a coordinator with the U.N. refugee agency, reported the deaths. He posted footage on Twitter showing flooded areas and homes. He said the UNHCR and its partners were working to provide humanitarian aid to affected communities. The General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur, a local NGO, said the dead included a pregnant woman and two boys ages 2 and 8. According to OCHA, at least 9,336 people have been affected by heavy rains and flooding the provinces of South Kordofan, South Darfur, White Nile and Kassala since the beginning of the rainy season in June. AP

All Eyes on Kenya as Election Campaign Enters Homestretch
With less than a month to the General Election, Kenya is hard-pressed to assure its neighbours of a free flow of goods on the Northern Corridor, with oil marketers preferring the port of Dar es Salaam for the importation of petroleum products. Ugandan legislators have been discussing the impact of the polls and have challenged President Yoweri Museveni to assure the country that there are plans to secure its imports. MPs raised concerns in Parliament on July 12 that Kenya’s August 9 election could impact the landlocked country, which depends on the Mombasa port for most of its imports, and asked the head of state to make public the plans to cushion them from the likely effect of polls in case the aftermath disrupts the supply chain, as was the case in 2007/2008. They warned that Uganda could face further fuel price increases in the post-election period. East African

Kenya Election: Taking On the Sexist Bullies to Stand
Wavinya Ndeti has defied bullying, attempts to discredit her academic achievements and xenophobic slurs over her marriage to emerge as a front-runner for the powerful post of governor of a key county in Kenya’s forthcoming general election. The 54-year old mother of four told the BBC she has had to “toughen up” because male competitors and some voters “see women as the weaker sex”. Ms Ndeti adds that her attempt to be governor for Machakos county, near the capital Nairobi, has been met with opponents’ supporters hurling insults at her, but she is undaunted. “When they come at me I’m usually encouraged because it shows that I’m doing something right,” she says. In 2007, Ms Ndeti defeated 17 men to become the first female MP in Machakos, representing Kathiani constituency. Now she is facing off with three men in governorship elections due to be held on 9 August, along with parliamentary and presidential polls. BBC

Analysis: How Uganda’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ Prolong Museveni Presidency
A nationwide network of district commissioners loyal to the president has been crucial to his stay in power since 1986. When Ugandans next head to the polls in 2026, President Yoweri Museveni will have been at the helm for exactly 40 years. In the capital Kampala, renewed talk of a political transition is a now trending. For years, there have even been multiple reports about a succession plan for Muhoozi Kainerugaba, his 48-year-old son, a commander of the land forces and top general in the army to become the next president. But Museveni who will be 81 years old in 2026, could still appear on the ballot. And little attention is given to how the veteran has successfully managed to maintain a grip on power for so long and the state mechanisms he has crafted to enable this. Here’s one way he’s done so. Al Jazeera

Explosion of Violence in South Sudan Threatens Peace Pact
An explosion of violence in South Sudan is raising fears that the country’s fragile peace agreement will unravel before elections the international community hopes can be held next year. The wave of near-daily killings across this East African country is often blamed on marauding militias whose attacks threaten the 2018 truce between President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar. While the two leaders work in the same government in relative peace in the capital Juba, elsewhere South Sudan appears at war with itself: Hundreds of people have been killed since the start of the year in violence ranging from cattle raids to ethnically motivated revenge killings. The violence appeared to worsen in June after Pope Francis canceled his visit this month, citing his knee problem. The pope’s visit was meant to encourage faith in a country damaged by years of war, including a long conflict for independence from Sudan and then a civil war. At least 209 people were killed and 33 others wounded across the country in June alone, according to a violence tracker by the Juba-based civic group known by its initials as CEPO. Both Kiir and Machar are under pressure to release a timetable for presidential elections in 2023. While Kiir expresses hope that a vote can be held next year, Machar has said that elections are impossible amid such widespread insecurity. AP

Several Rebel Groups Withdraw from Chad Peace Talks in Doha, Qatar
Several groups of Chadian rebel and political parties on Saturday withdrew from talks with the African nation’s military government, accusing it of seeking to destabilise peace efforts. The move, by about half the groups in the talks, came less than 24 hours after President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno’s administration announced that a national peace dialogue intended to pave the way for elections would start on August 20. In a statement, the rebel groups taking part in Qatar mediated talks in Doha accused the government delegation of “harassment, intimidation, threats and disinformation”. The new date had been set without any consultation, they added, saying it was an attempt to “exclude” many of the armed groups and their political allies from the dialogue. Deby seized power at the head of a military junta in April last year after his father, longtime leader Idriss Deby Itno was killed fighting off a rebel offensive on the capital. He set out an 18-month timetable for nationwide elections, but the Doha talks have been repeatedly become bogged down and the opposition and government representatives have not yet held direct talks. Opposition groups have demanded that Deby rule himself out of standing in the election before any talks can be held, but the government has said this can only be discussed at the national dialogue. AfricaNews with AFP

Senegal Protests Poke Holes in Its Longstanding Image of Stability
As the smoke from protesters’ fires billowed upward into the sky and tear gas from police crept through boulevards and alleyways last month, Senegal – often lauded as West Africa’s most stable democracy – once again found itself in turmoil. Some opposition leaders were blocked from leaving their homes by police, while others were arrested for organizing what authorities deemed illegal protests. In southern Senegal, authorities were accused of using live rounds to disperse protesters. In Dakar, students threw stones at police. Streets were barricaded and blocked off by authorities. As protests rocked the country, three people were killed, according to Amnesty International. The most recent protests are decrying the move by Senegal’s constitutional council to throw out the candidate list for the main opposition coalition ahead of the legislative elections at the end of this month. The opposition will still be able to run alternate candidates, but main leaders like Ousmane Sonko – who came third in the 2019 presidential elections – won’t be on the ballot. Beyond the immediate concerns, however, lie longstanding political issues that have dogged Macky Sall’s presidency since he came to power in 2012. Al Jazeera

Six People Killed in Rare Attack Near Malian Capital Bamako
Six people have been killed in Mali, including two gendarmes and a police officer, in a rare attack near its capital Bamako, the security ministry has said. The landlocked country in the heart of the Sahel is facing an continuing political and security crisis, particularly in its volatile northern and central regions, where an armed uprising has raged since 2012. But the violence rarely reaches Bamako, in Mali’s southwest. On Thursday night, about 70km (43 miles) from the capital, an attack took place “at the checkpoint of Zantiguila, on the road to the central city of Segou”, the security ministry said on Friday evening. The attack was carried out “by as yet unidentified armed individuals”, leaving three civilians and three law enforcement officers dead, and wounding two others, it said. A police station on the same road was ambushed by “unidentified armed individuals” on June 24, killing one officer, authorities had said. Mali has struggled to stem violence that took root after a 2012 coup and has since spread from the West African country’s arid north into neighbouring countries. Thousands have died and millions have been displaced across the Sahel region. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones