Africa Media Review for July 22, 2022

Hundreds of Motorbike Gunmen Kill Nigerian Police
Gunmen in the north-western Nigerian state of Katsina have killed 17 people, including five policemen, in separate attacks, the authorities say. About 300 armed men on motorbikes targeted a police post in Kankara on Wednesday, shooting the officers dead. They also killed at least three people in a nearby village. In another incident, gunmen attacked several villages in Faskari district, killing nine people, looting supplies and stealing livestock. Katsina, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, is one of the areas worst affected by violence in Nigeria. The government is facing increasing criticism for failing to tackle security problems. BBC

Al-Shabab Attacks Somali Towns Close to Ethiopian Border
Heavy fighting was reported Wednesday after al-Shabab militants attacked two Somali towns along the border with Ethiopia. Regional officials who confirmed the attack with VOA Somali said militants clashed with Liyu police, members of Ethiopia’s controversial paramilitary forces that have long been present in Somalia’s southwestern Bakool region towns of Yeed and Aato. Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) operating in Somalia as part of a bilateral security deal between Ethiopia and Somalia rely on Liyu police for border protection and supply route safety and logistics. A security official who requested anonymity because he is not allowed to speak with media told VOA’s Somali Service that al-Shabab first attacked a Liyu police camp in Aato town; a local Bakool region official confirmed the al-Shabab then carried out a second attack on Yeed, where militants again entered a Liyu police encampment. VOA

Biden to Host African Leaders for December Summit in Washington
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he’ll host African leaders for a summit in Washington in mid-December. The U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit will be held Dec. 13-15 and demonstrate a commitment by the U.S. to Africa that Biden described as “enduring.” He said the gathering will “underscore the importance of U.S.-Africa relations and increased cooperation on shared global priorities.” Biden added that the summit will help foster new economic engagement, reinforce a shared commitment to democracy and human rights, manage the effects of COVID-19 and future pandemics, advance peace and security, respond to climate change, strengthen regional and global health and promote food security. President Barack Obama held a similar summit in Washington in 2014, when Biden was his vice president. The summit followed Obama’s 2013 trip to Africa. Biden has not visited Africa since taking office. AP

Reports of Dead in Libya as Clashes Strike Capital
Intense clashes erupted between rival factions in Libya early on Friday with reports of several people killed amid growing concern that a political standoff could prompt renewed conflict. A Reuters journalist saw clashes in the central district near the Radisson Blu hotel, an area where several government and international agencies and diplomatic missions are based, as well as military vehicles mobilised around Zawiyat Dahmani. Witnesses also said there was fighting in the Asbaa area and in Ain Zara. Tripoli residents said a man and a child had been killed. Local news reports, citing medical sources, later said that five people had been killed. Libya has been teetering on the edge of chaos for months after the eastern-based parliament rejected the unity government in Tripoli, which was installed through a U.N.-backed process last year, and appointed a rival administration. Reuters

Tunisia Standing at Crossroads With Constitutional Referendum
[Video] Exactly a year after Tunisia’s president, Kais Saied, fired his government, suspended parliament and seized sweeping powers, its citizens vote Monday, July 25, on a draft constitution that critics fear could pull the fledgling Arab Spring democracy back to authoritarian rule. VOA

Youth Apathy Sours African Election Fever
On August 9, Kenyan voters will cast their ballots in what many are calling a two-horse race between the 77-year-old Raila Odinga and the 55-year-old William Samoei Ruto, the current deputy president. … According to IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati, the general elections will likely witness a reduced participation of young people. “The number of youths aged 18 to 34 years and registered to vote in 2022 stands at 39.84%, which is a decline of 5.27% against what we had in 2017,” he told reporters in the capital Nairobi as he unveiled an audit of the voters’ register. Kenya is predominantly young, with youths making up about 80% of the population of 56 million. But many young people seem disinterested in the political and electoral process. Some say that this has something to do with insufficient civic education but not everyone agrees. … Many young people, who also form the bulk of the unemployed, often grumble about being marginalized in terms of opportunities. At least 1 million young Kenyans enter the labor market each year, but most struggle to get jobs, according to Kenya Private Sector Alliance. Wilkister Aduma, a youth leader who runs an NGO that supports young people seeking elective seats, said that the “political space” had encouraged a climate of “apathy.” … The young political activist said that he believed the current economic hardships had also fueled voter apathy among youths. Others say that young people have lost faith in the entire election process because of a lack of trust in politicians. DW

Respect for Fundamental Rights Key to Peaceful Elections in Kenya: UN Experts
Independent UN human rights experts on Thursday called on authorities and political candidates standing in next month’s general election to foster an enabling civic space to ensure the vote goes ahead peacefully, and prevent violence. “Civic space, public participation, fundamental freedoms and a violence-free environment are critical to foster inclusive engagement in the electoral process, and the exercise of political rights,” the experts emphasised in a press release from the UN human rights office OHCHR, as the East African nation prepares to go to the polls on 9 August. Political tensions during the campaign as well as hate speech by candidates and their supporters, have a dangerous potential to ignite flames of violence, said the experts. They urged all parties to uphold the right to political participation, freedoms of assembly, opinion and expression, and to respect the role of an independent judiciary. “All those involved in the electoral process must commit themselves to peaceful conduct prior, during and after elections. Candidates and political parties must refrain from using inflammatory language which may lead to violence and human rights abuses, particularly against women, persons with disabilities, LGBTIQ+ individuals or ethnic groups,” they said. … “Perpetrators who committed human rights violations during past elections are yet to be held accountable,” the experts noted. UN News

EU Envoys Call for Dialogue to Resume Democratic Transition in Sudan
European Union (EU) diplomats to Khartoum Wednesday reiterated the need for an agreement paving the way for the resumption of the democratic transition process and reaffirmed their readiness to support Sudan. Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dafa Allah al-Haj Ali, met a delegation headed by the EU Representative in Sudan, including the ambassadors of Spain, France and the charges d’affaires of the embassies of Sweden, Germany and Italy. In a statement released after the meeting, the foreign ministry said that Ali expressed his appreciation for the continuous keenness of the European Union to support Sudan and to contribute to the success of the political dialogue process facilitated by the tripartite mechanism. … However, the EU and the international community say the resumption of economic and financial support would only resume after the restoration of a civilian-led transition. … “We affirmed our full support for the return to the democratic transition process, and we seek to support the Sudanese people,” stressed the EU official. Sudan Tribune

Dozens of Malawians Arrested in Anti-‘Selective Justice’ Protests
Police in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe have arrested 75 people including human rights campaigners during a clampdown on protests against “selective justice” by the country’s judiciary. The arrests followed a last-minute high court injunction that attempted to ban the demonstrations. … The activists are demonstrating against what they call selective justice by the Southern African country’s judiciary in recent months. They cited the case of a teenager, Mussa John — who was given an eight-year jail sentence by a magistrates’ court for being found with cannabis. However, a prominent business executive reportedly found cultivating the plant in his compound was only given a fine by the courts. This led to outrage as social media users pointed out the discrepancies in the rulings, causing protests and a high court review of John’s case. Other grievances of the activists include a string of pending court cases including one involving Norman Chisale, a former bodyguard to former President Peter Mutharika, who has been accused of corruption after being unable to account for his enormous wealth. Protesters are also angry over a delay in the prosecution of former lands minister Kezzie Msukwa, who has been linked to kickbacks for contracts worth more than $150m. Although President Lazarus Chakwera has suspended some top officials implicated in the scandal, the demonstrators demanded speedy public trials. Al Jazeera

Desperation and Hope Drive Migrants onto ‘Boats of Death’ in Tunisia
A photograph of Fadi’s smiling face is emblazoned on his mother’s t-shirt. The then-20-year-old is pictured standing near the shores of the Mediterranean Sea in Tunisia. Above her son’s image, 53-year-old Samia Jabloun has written the words “Dove Sei?” — “Where are you?” in Italian — in permanent marker. Samia often carries the scraps of IT student Fadi’s life, and the clues she’s gathered to his disappearance, in a pink plastic folder. She says the desperate hunt for her son consumes her every waking hour: “I will search for him all my life. I will search for him everywhere. I will search for him until I know the truth.” … Thousands of people follow the migrant trail to Tunisia each year, lured to its 700-mile-long coast by the dream of a better life just across the Mediterranean Sea. The central Mediterranean is the deadliest migration route on the planet, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM): More than 24,000 people have gone missing on it since just 2014. After a massive peak in 2015, the number of people crossing the Mediterranean was on a downward trend — but since 2021 the number of those trying to make the journey has been climbing again and the journeys are becoming more deadly, according to the IOM. The United Nations and Tunisian officials say they are now witnessing the biggest surge in illegal migration to Europe since the Arab Spring began in 2011. … The recent surge in migration is good news for the criminal gangs who control the people smuggling trade along Tunisia’s coast. CNN

Climate Change ‘Drowning’ West African Coastline
Scattered scraggy palm trees blow in the sea breeze, and stone ruins rise from the sand — the last remnants of a village besieged by the sea. The coastal village of Fuveme in Ghana’s Volta region could soon disappear — forever. The small village in the Keta lagoon has already shrunk to an island, forcing many families to move inland. Knowledge Dewornu stands stunned in front of his former house. The roof was torn away by sea floods. In November last year, huge waves from the Gulf of Guinea hit the thin sandbank where the last inhabitants of the village lived. Dewornu is devastated by the sight of what used to be his home. “This disaster is happening in all places along the coast, but it is most difficult here in Fuveme because we share the boundary with the Volta River,” Dewornu told DW in an interview, urging the government to support them. “Otherwise, we will die.” … Many small fishing villages on the Ghanaian coast are below sea level. Joel Deque, an environmentalist, believes that climate change has contributed significantly to rising waters along the coast. … Climate change experts, such as Kwasi Appeaning Addo from Accra’s University of Ghana, say there is evidence that rising sea levels are threatening people’s livelihoods. … It’s not just nature that contributes to erosion, but humans as well. For example, sand mining on beaches is illegal — but authorities hardly enforce the ban, Addo said. Another problem is the destruction of coastal vegetation, which is essential for combating erosion. DW

Somalia renews push to join East African Community
Somalia has renewed interest in joining the East African Community (EAC), cementing the desire of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to stabilise ties with neighbours. President Mohamud, who won the presidential polls in May, was expected in Arusha on Thursday as a special guest to attend the 21st Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State. And Villa Somalia, his official residence, said his trip would also be about renewing his push to join the regional bloc. “President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is leaving tomorrow (Thursday) for Arusha in Tanzania to seek support for to join the East African Community (EAC), which if possible will benefit the Somali people,” his office said on Wednesday. Mr Mohamud had attempted joining the EAC in his first term between 2012 and 2017, but the bloc initially refused the application, citing sporadic conflict and weak institutions in Somalia. But Mogadishu got back its hope after an equally troubled South Sudan was admitted in 2016. East African

Nationwide Darkness as Nigeria’s Grid Collapses Seventh Time in 2022
In its usual nature, Nigeria’s epileptic electricity grid, yesterday, collapsed, causing blackout and leaving businesses and homes with losses. Managed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), the nation’s electricity grid, located in Osogbo, Osun State, has gone down seven times this year alone. In a message to customers, major electricity distribution companies (DisCos) said the national grid collapsed at 11:27a.m. The DisCos did not state the cause of the fresh system collapse. The incident comes 38 days after the national grid suffered a system failure on June 13. The grid has forcefully shutdown for over 140 times since the Federal Government privatised the power sector. … Despite the investment going into improving the grid, World Economic Forum (WEF)’s data that measured grid-related performance under the Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI) for 2017, had ranked Nigeria 110th among 127 countries. … Power sector engineers have called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI), to enable the mobilisation of resources to tackle the challenges facing the sector and allow capital punishment for those involved in the vandalism of power infrastructure. Guardian

Africa Prepares Rollout of World’s First Malaria Vaccine
Preparations are underway for the mass rollout of the world’s first malaria vaccine to protect millions of children in Africa. The rollout is being funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for nearly $160 million. The World Health Organization said Gavi’s multimillion-dollar funding marks a key advance in the fight against one of Africa’s most severe public health threats. It noted that countries in sub-Saharan Africa bear the brunt of the yearly toll of more than 240 million global cases of malaria, including more than 600,000 reported deaths. The main victims are children under age 5. WHO regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti said one child dies every minute in Africa, with catastrophic consequences for families, communities and national development. The vaccine was introduced in Africa in 2019. Since then, more than 1.3 million children have benefited from the lifesaving inoculations in three pilot countries — Ghana, Kenya and Malawi. Moeti said those countries have reported a 30 percent drop in hospitalizations of children with severe malaria and a 9% reduction in child deaths. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones