Africa Media Review for July 22, 2020

African Militant Islamist Groups Set Record for Violent Activity

African militant Islamist groups have demonstrated a decade of nearly uninterrupted growth in violent activity, though the focus of this has shifted over time. Militant groups in the Sahel, the Lake Chad Basin, and Mozambique have exhibited the sharpest increases in violent activity over the past year. A June-to-June review of violent episodes involving militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past decade underscores the growing and shifting threat posed by these groups. Key findings include a 31-percent jump in violent events involving militant Islamist groups in Africa in the 12 months ending June 30, 2020, which represents a record for violent activity by these groups. With 4,161 violent events, this period marks the first time this total has exceeded 4,000 and reflects a sixfold increase from 2011 (693). Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Dozens Killed in Tribal Clashes in South Kordofan Capital

Dozens were killed and many others injured in tribal fighting that erupted in Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan, yesterday. The fighting that continued throughout the day in the Kalba and Merta residential districts caused great fear in the town. Government buildings and markets were closed, and most people did not leave their homes, a listener reported from Kadugli. The clashes erupted following the killing of two people in the area of Saraf Ed Dei, north of Kadugli, by gunmen on Monday. … Members of the Forces for Freedom and Change and other activists in Kadugli demand the dismissal of the acting military governor because of his failure to stop the increasing insecurity in South Kordofan. … Last Thursday, three people, among them a Sudanese civilian working for the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa), were shot dead in two separate incidents in Kadugli. Radio Dabanga

Twelve Killed in DR Congo Militia Attacks

Twelve people were killed in 48 hours in the troubled Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an official said on Tuesday, where militia attacks have left more than 1,000 dead in recent years. Five were killed on Monday and another seven on Tuesday in the villages of Mayolo and Andasia, local official Innocent Madaku Ndala told AFP. … Like most recent killings, the attacks were blamed on a militia named the Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO). CODECO is drawn from the Lendu ethnic group, a predominantly farming community who have historically clashed with the Hema, a group of traders and herders. Hundreds of people have died in the North and South Kivu and Ituri provinces since last October when the armed forces launched a crackdown on armed groups in the troubled east of the vast country. The Defense Post with AFP

Nigeria: Gunmen Kill 10 Persons in Fresh Attack on Kaduna Village

At least 10 people have been reportedly killed while many others sustained various degrees of injuries when gunmen suspected to be herdsmen attacked Gora Gan Village under Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The latest attack comes barely 24 hours after about 20 persons were killed at a wedding party in Kukum Daji Village under Kaura Local Government Area of the state. The gunmen were said to have stormed the community at about 7:00pm and started shooting sporadically, leaving about 10 persons dead and many others injured.m“A fresh attack was carried out again yesterday evening at Gora Gan Village of Zango Kataf of Kaduna State of Nigeria. About 10 dead bodies have been taken to the General Hospital Zonkwa. Some villagers are still missing,” a source told SaharaReporters. Sahara Reporters

Zimbabwean Journalist, Opposition Figure Appear at Court

A Zimbabwean journalist known for exposing alleged government corruption and now accused of plotting against the government is appearing in court on Wednesday. Hopewell Chin’ono is appearing alongside Jacob Ngarivhume, an opposition politician he is accused of conspiring with to mobilize anti-government protests planned for July 31. Both men have been charged with “incitement to participate in a gathering with intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry.” … It’s the latest in a string of arrests of journalists, lawyers, nurses, doctors, teachers and political activists in the southern African country, where political tensions have been rising for months as the economy collapses amid increasing allegations of human rights abuses. … In June, Chin’ono said he feared for his life after ruling ZANU-PF party spokesman Patrick Chinamasa accused the journalist of seeking to embarrass Mnangagwa by linking the president’s family to alleged corrupt COVID-19 related contracts. AP

Ethiopia, Egypt Agree to Further Talks on Disputed Nile Dam

Ethiopia and Egypt appeared to head off an escalation in their dispute over a giant dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River, pledging further talks to resolve an impasse over how quickly it gets filled. Ethiopia’s government simultaneously announced that it’s completed the first phase of filling the dam, following recent heavy rains. That could remove a flashpoint after reports last week that Ethiopia had begun pooling water without agreement from Egypt and neighboring Sudan raised tensions between the three nations. Talks between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan’s leaders on Tuesday reached a “major common understanding” that paved the way for a “breakthrough agreement” on the filling of the reservoir, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office said in a statement. Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok made a similar announcement. Bloomberg

Egyptian Armys Says It Killed 18 Islamist Militants in North Sinai

Egypt’s military said it killed 18 suspected Islamist militants in aerial and ground operations in the restive North Sinai region on Tuesday, as part of its battle to quell a long-running insurgency. The army said in a statement that its forces succeeded in foiling “an attack by takfiri terrorist elements on one of the security complexes” in the town of Bir al-Abd. Egyptian security officials use the term “takfiri” to designate extremist Islamist militants.m”In cooperation with the air force, security forces managed to chase the takfiri elements across a farm and in abandoned houses killing 18, including one wearing an explosive belt,” the statement said. Two military personnel were killed and four others wounded in Tuesday’s operations in Bir al-Abd. Troops also destroyed four cars including three that were packed with explosives. AFP

Ethiopia Urged to Allow Peaceful Demonstrations, Investigate Protestor Deaths

Independent UN human rights experts are urging the Ethiopian authorities to allow peaceful demonstrations, in a new appeal for investigations into the deaths of people protesting the recent killing of a popular singer and activist from the Oromo ethnic group. Hachalu Hundessa was gunned down on 29 June, sparking a week of violent protests in the Oromia region and the capital, Addis Ababa. The Government also then shut down internet access amid the unrest. Although officials said 166 people were killed in the protests, unofficial reports put the number much higher, the four experts said on Tuesday. Meanwhile some 2,000 people, including opposition leaders, were arrested, according to the police. “Even the basic facts are not clear but the scale of arrests is deeply disturbing,” they stated. “It is essential that the authorities hold a thorough and transparent investigation to determine exactly what happened,” said the UN experts. UN News

Anti-Conde Protests: Clashes as Guineans Return to the Streets

Anti-government protests resumed in Guinea’s capital Conakry, with heavy clashes between the protesters and the security forces, resulting in injuries. The resumption on Monday July 20 follows a three-month coronavirus lockdown. Protesters are kicking against the president’s suspected intention of extending his stay in office after a decade in charge. Cellou Dalein Diallo, opposition UFDG party leader: “I think that we achieved the goal to show that in Guinea there are people who suffer injustice and that the people of Guinea do not support this third mandate of President Alpha Condé.” … As the government imposed measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the opposition group suspended protests that had raged since October 2019 over a potential re-election bid by President Alpha Conde. Conde’s second five-year term ends this year, with an election set for October. Africa News

Uganda’s Museveni Seeks to Extend Rule to Four Decades

Uganda’s long-serving President Yoweri Museveni has confirmed he will be seeking to extend his rule to four decades after he picked up nomination papers on Monday. Should he be re-elected in the February 2021 General Election, the veteran leader, who turns 76 this September, will continue to occupy State House since entering it in 1986. … Mr Museveni ruled for the first ten years without holding elections. Ugandans went to the polls in June 1996 for the first time under Museveni following the passing of a new Constitution in October 1995 which had a two five-year term limit for the office of the President. The term limit was amended ten years later, in 2005, allowing him to seek reelection in February 2006. Another constitutional limit that would have forced the President to stand down in next year’s election on account of his age was controversially removed in December 2017 when the Constitution was amended to remove the 35 years and 75 years lower and upper age caps… The East African

Tanzania Presidential Election to Be Held on October 28

Tanzania’s election commission has set October 28 as the date for the country’s highly anticipated presidential election. In a statement released on Tuesday, the body said the election campaign would run from August 26 to October 27. President John Magufuli will be seeking re-election after being chosen earlier this month as the candidate of the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. Chadema, the main opposition party, has several candidates vying for the nomination, including Deputy Chairman Tundu Lissu who lives in exile in Belgium after being shot outside his home in 2017. Party leader Freeman Mbowe, who was hospitalised last month with a broken leg after his party said he was beaten in a “politically-motivated” attack, has also announced his intention to run. … The opposition has called for the formation of an independent electoral commission, expressing fears the elections will take place in a climate of violence and intimidation. Magufuli has pledged “free and fair” polls. Al Jazeera

Nigerian Parliamentarians Demand Military Bosses Resign

Parliamentarians in Nigeria have called for the military bosses to resign following persistent killings by armed gangs and Islamist militants in the north of the country. A resolution adopted by Nigeria’s senate has called for the chief of defence staff, as well as air force, army and naval chiefs to resign. Responding to the resolution, President Muhammadu Buhari insisted that the appointment of military chiefs is a presidential prerogative and added that, in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, he will do what is in the best interest of the country. In the past, similar calls for the sacking of the country’s security chief have not been heeded by the president. Reports say more than 350 Nigerian soldiers will formally leave the army due to a loss of confidence in leadership and low morale. BBC

COVID-19 Lockdowns Left Nigerian Trafficking Survivors Stranded. Now They’re Looking for a Way Home

The three young women agreed they would escape by nightfall. They didn’t have any money or documents, but Jessica, 19, and her friends knew it was time to go. The brothel was not as crowded as usual: since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the client base had fallen. Together, they waited for night to settle and for the madam to retire to her room. Then, they sprinted for the highway that runs through Papara, a town in the far north of the Ivory Coast, close to the border with Mali. Jessica and her friend, Favor, had been trafficked into prostitution about a month earlier. … The women fled the brothel in March, but almost four months later they are still in the Ivory Coast: three out of hundreds of trafficked Nigerian women who anti-trafficking advocacy groups believe are stuck abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, as border closures hamper repatriation efforts across the region. Time

In Africa, Drugs Find Way around Coronavirus Restrictions

Africa’s activity as a global illicit drug hub continues, authorities say, even as many of the continent’s biggest economies have imposed restrictions on movement to try to stop the spread of coronavirus. American drug enforcement officials say they’re especially concerned about what appears to be the rising incidence of drug use on the continent – indicating that Africa is not just a transit point, but increasingly, a market of its own.  Coronavirus lockdowns across Africa have seriously battered formal economies, with economic giant Nigeria losing an estimated $18 billion during its five-week lockdown from March to April, according to data from the International Food Policy Research Institute. But still, says a top American anti-drug official, drugs – and other illegal goods are still finding a way both through the continent and to consumers in Africa. VOA

Andrew Mlangeni, Ally of Mandela in Anti-Apartheid Struggle, Dies at 95

Andrew Mlangeni, the last surviving co-defendant convicted in 1964 with Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia Trial, which focused a global spotlight on the segregationist policies of apartheid in his native South Africa and helped define the battle lines for an epochal struggle against white minority rule, has died at a military hospital in Pretoria. He was 95. … Mr. Mlangeni served 26 years as Prisoner 467/64 (Mandela was 466/64), incarcerated for much of the time on Robben Island; he was released in 1989. Unlike the charismatic Mr. Mandela, who became South Africa’s first Black president, Mr. Mlangeni cast himself in a far more self-effacing role. An official biography, written for his charitable foundation in 2017, was entitled “The Backroom Boy,” a reference to his clandestine activities in the underground world of resistance and, perhaps, to the language of apartheid, when white bosses routinely referred to adult Black underlings as “boy.” The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones