Africa Media Review for July 28, 2022

Anti-U.N. Protests in Congo Leave 15 Dead, Including 3 Peacekeepers
At least 15 people, including three U.N. peacekeepers, have been killed and 60 others injured in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in an escalation of dayslong protests against the United Nations in a mineral-rich region that has been ravaged by incessant deadly violence. Protesters have been demanding the departure of the peacekeeping forces, accusing them of failing to protect civilians from a recent surge of attacks by the militant groups that have terrorized the region for years — leaving hundreds dead or injured and forcing more than 160,000 people to flee their homes this year alone. Several government officials and a youth group allied with the ruling party have in recent weeks stoked anger at the U.N. forces. On Tuesday, two Indian police officers and one member of Morocco’s military were killed, and an Egyptian police officer was injured, when protesters breached the United Nations compound in Butembo, a city in the province of North Kivu, Farhan Haq, a deputy U.N. spokesman, said at a briefing in New York on Tuesday. New York Times

Tunisia: The Last ‘Arab Spring’ Democracy Is Dangling by a Thread
Once regarded as the sole democracy to have emerged from the mass protests of the Arab Spring in 2011, Tunisia on Tuesday passed a newly minted constitution that analysts fear could be the final nail in the coffin of its democratic era. With no minimum voter threshold, only 30.5% of eligible voters took part in Monday’s poll, according to the latest figures by the electoral commission, with approximately 95% of those who participated voting ‘yes.’ Analysts say that a new constitution would be the final blow to the social and political gains made by the North African country since the Arab Spring, setting the country on a path that will be difficult to return from. “We will establish a new republic that is different from the one we have had over the last ten years,” Tunisian President Kais Saied said Monday on state TV after casting his vote. When waves of protest rocked the region 12 years ago, engulfing Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Syria and Yemen, Tunisia temporarily rose as the sole success story to emerge from the Arab Spring. Egypt and Algeria soon came under strict military rule; critics say freedoms and rights have since regressed in both countries. Meanwhile Syria, Libya and Yemen plunged into bloody civil wars. CNN

New Tunisian Constitution Adopted Without Broad Support
Hamza Oueslati’s face shows his fatigue, worn down by the scorching heat. On Monday, July 25 at noon, the 34-year-old day laborer, dressed in shorts and flip-flops, visited the polling station in the working-class neighborhood of Hay Ezzouhour, Tunis, to perform his electoral duty in the referendum on the new Tunisian Constitution…With the victory of the yes side hardly in doubt, due to the boycott of the opposition, the main issue at stake was the turnout – and it was low. Late in the evening, the Independent High Authority for Elections (ISIE) announced that at least 2.46 million people – 27.54% of 9.3 million registered voters –had participated, pointing out that these were provisional figures. The “yes” campaign is said to have obtained between 92 and 93%, according to an exit poll conducted by the Sigma Conseil institute. We will have to wait until Tuesday for the ISIE to announce its official figures. Earlier in the day, at the voting center of Denden in Manouba, a middle-class suburb of Tunis, Fatma Zahra Mujahidi, a 32-year-old university teacher, said she had come “above all for a change, whether good or bad.” Le Monde

Ireland Pulls Troops Out of Mali as Russian Mercenary Group Moves in
The government is to reduce its peacekeeping commitment to Mali following concerns about the involvement of local forces with Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group, which has been accused of human rights atrocities including the execution of villagers. Ireland will withdraw 14 troops who are on deployment with Minusma, the United Nations operation established to support Mali’s political processes. The number of specialist troops serving with the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Mali, whose aim is to help the government restore the rule of law by training local forces, will be reduced from 20 to 14. Mali is now regarded as one of the most dangerous postings in the world. The Times

Arms Trafficking from Libya to Niger Is Back; Nigeria, Others Should Be Concerned
After the fall of Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, southward arms flows from Libya rose significantly. In 2012, this enabled Mali’s Tuareg rebels and armed groups operating in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin to acquire weapons and ammunition in a period of widespread regional turmoil. The weapons, transported from the Libyan south-west by Tuareg fighters and traffickers, were moved along the Algerian and Nigerien borders. They were transported along the roads that cross the Agadez, Tahoua and Tillabéri regions, joining Mali via the Niger-Mali-Burkina Faso tri-border area and Lake Chad Basin via Niger’s Diffa Region. But the military presence in northern Niger and the outbreak of Libya’s second civil war in 2014 saw arms flows to the south slow down. As demand for guns in Libya increased, Jihadist groups looked elsewhere – escalating attacks on army barracks in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger to loot their arms and ammunition stockpiles. Several drivers of insecurity in northern Niger facilitate the trafficking of Libyan arms. Vehicles of civilians and gold transporters have been attacked in the Aïr area. On 21 March 2021, armed bandits killed 137 people in various attacks in the Tillia commune. The violence prompted the population of the Agadez, Tahoua and Tillabéri regions to arm themselves in self-defence. Infuriated by the state’s failure to keep them safe, some civilians have explored the creation of militias for protection. Premium Times Nigeria

Nigerian Senators Urge Buhari Impeachment over Insecurity
Nigerian opposition senators are pushing for President Muhammadu Buhari to face impeachment, less than a year before the end of his second term in office, over the country’s spreading security problems, the Senate minority leader said on Wednesday. In February 2023, Nigerians go to the polls to elect a new president in a hotly contested vote where security and the state of the economy will be the main issues. At a closed Senate session, senators of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) tried to introduce a motion giving Buhari six weeks to improve the country’s security or face impeachment, Senator Philip Aduda said. “Nowhere is safe in Nigeria, even Abuja. Urgent steps need to be taken … we have given the president six weeks to resolve the issue or we impeach him,” he said. Aduda said the motion was blocked by the Senate president, prompting a walkout by opposition senators. Parliament is controlled by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) party and any move to impeach Buhari would require support from two-thirds of the 109 senators. The presidency in a statement backed the Senate president for not “entertaining the ridiculous motion to impeach our President.” Al Jazeera

France Could Deliver Drones to Help Benin Battle Militants
France could deliver drones and more sophisticated weapons to Benin to help it tackle a worsening Islamist insurgency that is threatening the region, President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday. Macron made the pledge during a joint press conference with Benin’s President Patrice Talon on the second leg of his three-nation tour of Cameroon, Benin and Guinea-Bissau. Benin, alongside the Gulf of Guinea states Togo and Ivory Coast, has seen increasing attacks from militants linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State as violence spreads south from the Sahel countries of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Benin and Togo have suffered deadly attacks in recent weeks. France is withdrawing thousands of troops from Mali after a decade there and seeking to redefine its strategy to fight insurgents in region. Reuters

Senegal Legislative Poll Tests Ruling Party Ahead of 2024 Vote
Senegal’s main opposition coalition is vying to gain clout in legislative polls on Sunday that will set the scene for a presidential election in 2024 – which could see President Macky Sall run for a controversial third term. Tensions have run high in the politically stable West African country since violent protests broke out last year after Sall’s main opponent Ousmane Sonko, who came third in the last 2019 presidential election, was arrested on rape charges. Sonko denies the allegations. Frustrations with economic hardship brought by the coronavirus pandemic have been stoked by fuel and food price hikes linked to the war in Ukraine – raising ire against a president accused of stifling his rivals and failing on promises to improve livelihoods. Some opponents fear Sall will breach a constitutional two-term limit and run again in 2024, an option he has neither confirmed nor denied. Amid growing discontent, opposition parties hope the ruling Benno Bokk Yakaar coalition will see its parliamentary majority slip below the 125 out of 165 seats it currently occupies in the National Assembly. Al Jazeera

Burundi Secretly Sent Troops to DR Congo – Rights Group
Burundi has secretly sent hundreds of troops and members of a youth militia into neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo since the end of 2021 to fight an armed rebel group, a Burundian human rights group said Wednesday. The main target of the operation is the RED-Tabara, the Burundi Human Rights Initiative said, referring to the most active of the rebel groups which is deemed a terrorist organisation by the Burundian government. Burundi has always denied carrying out any secret operations, insisting it has acted only within the framework of joint operations by the East African Community (EAC), African Union or United Nations. Burundi is part of a regional force agreed by the EAC in June to fight the myriad rebel groups involved in an upsurge of violence in the eastern DRC that has ensnared neighbouring countries. AFP

‘A Dirty Game’: Young Kenyans Shun Election Hype
“I have only come to the rally because there is money. I hope there will be something,” Atieno told AFP, referring to the widespread Kenyan practice of offering freebies to prospective voters. Currently without a job, the former fishmonger says she is so fed up with the country’s insular political class that she plans to stay home when Kenya votes on August 9 in parliamentary and presidential polls. She is not alone. The East African economic powerhouse ranks among the world’s youngest countries – three-quarters of Kenyans are aged under 34, according to government figures. Many have no interest in participating in an electoral process they widely dismiss as corrupt and pointless. The number of registered young voters has dropped five percent since the 2017 poll, in contrast to over-35s, whose tally has increased, Kenya’s election commission announced last month. Over 22 million Kenyans are eligible to take part in this year’s polls, with young people accounting for less than 40 percent of that number, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said. AFP

What You Need to Know About the 2022 Kenya Elections
They say politics has no permanent enemies, just permanent interests. In Kenya, the same folks often play politics, only changing alliances ahead of polls. The top contenders for the presidency in the August 9 election were once allies who fought the incumbent, who was incidentally in the opposing coalition. Now 15 years later, the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, has endorsed a man he defeated twice in a stiff race to State House, the country’s seat of power. Mr Kenyatta is backing Raila Odinga, a longtime opposition leader once detained for political activism. Mr Odinga is running against William Ruto, Mr Kenyatta’s deputy president. In Kenya’s election law, the President and deputy are elected on the same ticket. Unless one is declared insane or impeached by Parliament, the two are joined at the hip until the end of their five-year term. Apart from the frontrunners — Dr Ruto of the Kenya Kwanza alliance and Mr Odinga of Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition, there are two other presidential contenders, Prof George Wajackoyah of Roots Party and Mr David Mwaure Waihiga of Agano Party. East African

Sudan Doctors: Death Toll in Anti-Junta Protests Now 116
The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors say that the killing of a young man in Omdurman yesterday brings the death toll among protesters since the October 25 2021 military coup, and subsequent crackdown by junta authorities, to 116 people. Mohammed Kamal Ismail was killed during demonstrations calling for peaceful co-existence in Omdurman Yesterday. In a separate event, Sudanese police arrested and beat a young woman activist on Monday, leaving her with several injuries and in need of medical care. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said Ismail died after being shot in the mouth by junta forces during a procession in Omdurman. “This brings the total number of our martyrs after the October 25 2021 military coup, to 116 martyrs,” the doctors said. On Monday, forces arrested activist Hiyam Yousef in the Burri area of Khartoum, beating her on the head and stomach with the butt of a rifle. After being taken to hospital, the 19-year-old was then returned by authorities to the police station before any medical examinations took place, activists said. Yesterday, Sudan’s Emergency Lawyers issued a statement calling for the release of Yousef, indicating that the injuries from the attack had left her in need of medical care. Dabanga



Photo: Adam Jones