Africa Media Review for July 3, 2024

Clashes between Police and Protesters Disputing Mauritania’s Presidential Election Result Kill 3
Clashes in Mauritania between security forces and protesters rallying against the reelection of President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani left three people dead, authorities said Tuesday. An unspecified number of people were reported injured. Following the clashes, mobile internet access was blocked Tuesday as authorities vowed to arrest those behind the violence. The protests broke out late Monday in parts of the northwestern African country after Ghazouani was declared winner of the presidential election. His main rival, Biram Dah Abeid, a renowned anti-slavery activist, rejected the outcome and claimed the result was falsified…Three international election observation missions also said in their preliminary statements Monday that the voting was held in a “peaceful and transparent atmosphere.” Ghazouani has been accused by his opponents of corruption and mismanagement, but remains popular among Mauritanians who see him as a beacon of stability amid regional tensions, with several neighboring countries shaken by military coups and jihadi violence. AP

How Burkina Faso’s Junta Is Conscripting Critics to Fight Islamist Rebels
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have accused Burkina’s junta of kidnapping and conscripting some of its critics, citing victims and civil society groups…Four victims who spoke to Reuters after their release said they were snatched from their workplace or the street by armed police or military officials. Their kidnappers were either wearing Burkina Faso army uniforms or were men in civilian clothing who verbally identified themselves as police or military, they said. The four victims described a violent system of intimidation that involved forced military service and torture…The abductions are part of junta leader Ibrahim Traore’s efforts to silence critics since he seized power in a September 2022 coup – the second that year – with a promise to restore security, three analysts say…Mathieu Pellerin, a Sahel expert for the International Crisis Group…said the government was hardening its stance towards internal critics as its position became more “fragile”. “It’s the flip-side of its failure to restore security,” he said…The conscription of junta critics began in March 2023 with Boukare Ouedraogo, the visually-impaired president of a civil society group in Kaya. Ouedraogo, 32, had spoken at a press conference that month about feeling let down by Traore…”It marked the start of a trend,” said Ousmane Lankoande of the Balai Citoyen, a prominent citizens movement that played a key role in 2014 protests that ousted president Blaise Compaore, who had ruled Burkina for nearly three decades. “We used to feel so hopeful about the future,” Lankoande said, describing the mood after the 2014 uprising restored civil liberties. “Today that freedom has been stolen.” Reuters

Around 40 Killed in Attack on Central Mali Village
Unidentified armed men have killed around 40 people in an attack on a village in insurgent-plagued central Mali, local officials said on Tuesday. The attack took place on Monday in the village of Djiguibombo in Mopti region – one of several areas in Mali’s north and centre where jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have been active for over a decade…[T]wo local officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said around 40 people were killed. “It was carnage, they surrounded the village where there was a wedding … There was panic, some people managed to flee, but many were killed, most of them men,” said one of the officials. They did not identify the attackers and no group has yet claimed responsibility. Reuters

Chad, Cameroon Say Boko Haram in Villages after Strikes Kill 70 Militants
The Multinational Joint Task Force in the Lake Chad basin says several hundred fighters from jihadist groups Boko Karam and Islamic State West Africa Province have fled to Chad and Cameroon after the task force attacked camps and killed more than 70 [militants] Sunday. The ongoing operation, dubbed Lake Sanity 2, aims to obliterate all [militant Islamist group] camps around Lake Chad, the task force said…The joint task force also said many jihadists surrendered in the air and ground operations but did not give a precise number. The troops said they captured many fighters and recovered large consignments of weapons…The task force’s operations are targeting [militant] hideouts in border villages, including Mokolo and Waza in Cameroon. Moubi, Menchika and Madagali in Nigeria are also part of the operation. VOA

How Congolese Journalists Covering the M23 War Are Being Forced to Pick Sides
Last year, I was arrested while reporting a story about how the war – which has displaced over 1.5 million people at the latest count – was affecting Goma, the largest city in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and my hometown…The content never aired, yet the mere collection of statements that were critical of the government was sufficient to justify my arrest once word of what I was doing reached a local police station…The conflict parties and their cheerleaders regularly harass reporters, accusing us of either supporting Rwanda and the M23, or the Congolese government and its auxiliaries. The accusations can lead to our arrest, kidnapping, torture, and even death…Meanwhile, as freedom of the press has been eroded in regions controlled by the government, a similar situation is prevailing in areas that are currently under the control of the M23. Paul, a journalist I know operating in an M23-held area, told me that he is obliged to promote rebel propaganda. He stayed put in his town when the rebels took over because he wanted to protect his family, belongings, and radio station. In a note published in April, a media regulator that is supposed to ensure press freedom in the country imposed a ban on disseminating information related to the M23 without reference to official sources…All this pressure has put journalists in a bind. If we report incidents critical of the government, we are branded Kigali sympathisers and can be thrown into prison. Yet if we choose to stay silent, we risk losing our credibility, and our humanity. The New Humanitarian

Tens of Thousands Displaced in Fresh Violence in DR Congo
Millions of displaced people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are suffering amid one of the world’s most neglected crises, the UN International Organization of Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday. The situation is particularly concerning in the restive province of North Kivu, home to 2.8 million displaced people. In the last one week, more than 150,000 were displaced due to continued fighting in the town of Lubero and the strategically important town of Kanyabayonga was seized by M23 rebels. The situation in capital Goma “is rapidly deteriorating” as it remains isolated from supply routes, IOM reported, adding that civilians face theft, burglary, abuse and harassment. “The proximity of frontlines and the presence of weapons in and around displacement sites significantly compromise the security of displaced populations,” the agency added. The situation is further complicated by the threat of disasters, including heavy rains, landslides and floods, particularly in South Kivu and Tanganyika, which displaced tens of thousands in May. UN News

Sudan: RSF Bombs Two More Hospitals in El Fasher
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued targeting health facilities in North Darfur state, shelling two hospitals in El Fasher on Tuesday. This is the ninth such attack since fighting broke out in El Fasher between the army, the RSF, and their allies on 10 May. These clashes saw the use of heavy weaponry, including airstrikes and artillery. The governor of the Darfur region, Minni Minawi, confirmed in a tweet on platform X that the RSF destroyed a private hospital in El Fasher’s Grand Market. He stated this meant they had targeted all hospitals in the area with high-precision cannons reportedly brought from the Emirates. In a second tweet, Minawi said that the RSF bombed Jabal Marra Hospital in El Fasher less than 40 minutes after the attack on the private hospital…The RSF’s targeting of medical facilities in El Fasher is seen as an attempt to cripple the health sector. The indiscriminate shelling has already destroyed the dialysis centre, El Fasher South Hospital, the Saudi Hospital, and several private medical centres. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: UN Food Convoy Attacked, Supplies Looted amid Worsening Crisis
Unidentified armed men in Sudan on Sunday attacked UN World Food Programme (WFP) trucks carrying food assistance meant for thousands of civilians in need in central Darfur, the agency reported…More than half of the population, around 26 million people, are staring at “crisis levels” of hunger and almost 9.4 million people have been driven from their homes, including about 1.9 million into neighbouring countries…According to UN humanitarians, the lives of 800,000 people “are hanging in the balance” as fighting rages densely populated areas in the provincial capital El Fasher, causing widespread and long-term harm to civilians and severely disrupting the essential services they depend on. UN News

Sudanese Journalist Released after Detention in Shendi
Sudanese Journalist Abu Aagla Amasa has been released after a 48-hour detention by the Sudanese Army Intelligence Service at the headquarters of the Third Infantry Division in Shendi, River Nile State. Amasa, who was set free on Sunday, posted on his Facebook page that his detention was due to his longstanding friendship with Mak Ubayd Mohammad Suleiman Abu Shotal, the leader of the Hamaj community in the Blue Nile…Amasa’s detention sparked a wave of criticism regarding the press freedom in Sudan. The Sudanese Journalists Syndicate condemned the detention, calling it a blatant violation of the press and media freedom. The syndicate warned against the continued infringement on journalists’ rights and the relentless targeting of the press, urging all parties to cease using detention to silence and intimidate independent voices. The Syndicate noted that over 40 journalists, including five females had been detained by the Army Intelligence, RSF, and other entities, since the war broke out on April 15, 2023, jeopardizing the core principles of free press in the country. Radio Tamazuj

Rwanda Heads to Polls with Two Optimistic Theoretical Candidates and a Very Likely Winner
On Thursday last week, Frank Habineza, the 47-year-old candidate for Rwanda’s Democratic Green Party, told journalists that after two years of preparations, he was hopeful for a good showing in Rwanda’s 15 July elections…Former journalist and now independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana (54) will be on the ballot again, after a 2017 race in which he attracted less than 1% of the vote…The third name on the ballot will be Paul Kagame, the 66-year-old leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front who will, in all likelihood, extend his 23-year term in office again…According to Rwanda’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), nine candidates were interested in running for president, but only three qualified. This year, for the first time, the presidential election will run alongside the legislative elections, with a total of 500 aspirants. News24

Financial Exclusion, Lack of Identity Documents: The Nightmare of Kenyan Refugees
Many urban refugees in Nairobi rely on proxies to be able to access any semblance of a financial service, and most are completely cut off from the conventional banking services…To get a bank account from most banks in Kenya, refugees are required to have a PIN Certificate from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), a Refugee Card, and sometimes a recognition letter from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or even a work permit, all of which they cannot immediately access…This essentially means that as a registered asylum seeker in Kenya, there is no way you can open a bank account to enable you transfer assets or receive money from abroad…According to [Teddy Kinyoro, a senior programmes manager at GiveDirectly in Nairobi], the problem is rooted in the difficulty accessing the required documentation, especially the alien ID card, which mainly stems from administrative challenges due to the huge backlog of asylum seekers in the country at any given time. The EastAfrican

Tunisian President Sets Election Date for Oct. 6
Tunisian President Kais Saied on Monday set the presidential election date for Oct. 6 and is widely expected to seek a second term, with at least one potential candidate in jail and others facing prosecution. Elected president in 2019, Saied has not officially announced his candidacy but said last year he will not hand power to what he called non-patriots. The opposition says fair and credible elections cannot be held unless imprisoned politicians are released and the media is allowed to do its job without pressure from the government…Saied seized almost all powers in 2021, dissolved parliament, and began ruling by decree in a move that the opposition described as a coup. Saied said that his steps were legal and necessary to end years of rampant corruption among the political elite. Prominent opponents of the president have been detained since last year on charges of conspiring against state security, in a crakdown that included businessmen, media figures and politicians. Reuters

South Africa: MK Party’s Arthur Zwane Becomes Third Leader to Resign from Party’S Secretary General Position
The uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party has lost yet another prominent member in secretary general Arthur Zwane, who resigned on Monday citing an inability to balance the amount of work the position demanded and his personal business interests. In a letter addressed to party leader Jacob Zuma, Zwane said the volume of work in the secretariat office was beyond his limits…The party has appointed Sifiso Maseko in his place. Maseko is the fourth secretary general the party has had since it was launched about six months ago…This comes as Zuma prepares to face charges by the ANC which could see him expelled for endorsing another party while still a member of the liberation movement which has been his political home for decades. Zuma will appear before the ANC’s national disciplinary committee on 17 July on charges of misconduct after he endorsed the MK party last December…MK is the third-biggest party in the country, after claiming 14.58% of the national votes in the 29 May general elections. Mail & Guardian

South Sudan Peace Parties to Decide Fate of 2024 Elections
The principals that are signatory to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), are expected on Wednesday to decide on the fate of elections slated for December this year. Previously, in accordance with the peace deal, the country´s first ever elections as an independent state since 2011, was meant to take place by the end of 2022. However, the 2022 deadline passed due to lack of implementation of many key provisions that should have proceeded the conduct of the elections. This forced the peace parties to postpone the elections and extended the duration of the agreement by 24 months through an agreed Roadmap from February 2022. The Roadmap rescheduled the elections to take place by December 2024. Again, many key provisions such as the unification of forces, the permanent constitution-making process, the conduct of population census to determine number of electoral constituencies, the repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), among others, are yet to be completed. The parties, thus formed a joint High-Level Committee to again review the status of the implementation of the agreement and to write an explanatory note to the main principals signatory to the agreement in order to decide what comes next…A member of the committee, also South Sudan’s Minister of Petroleum, Puot Kang Chol, said a revised document will be submitted to the principals on Wednesday. Sudan Tribune

Italy Seizes Chinese-made Military Drones Destined for Libya
Italian authorities intercepted and seized two Chinese-made military drones that were destined for Libya and disguised as wind turbine equipment, Italy’s customs police and customs agency said on Tuesday. The disassembled drones were found in six containers at the port of Gioia Tauro in the southern region of Calabria, concealed among replicas of wind turbine blades, a joint statement said. The material was impounded given that civil war-stricken Libya is subject to an international arms embargo, it added. It appeared to confirm a report last month by Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper indicating that the interception took place in Gioia Tauro on June 18, after a tip-off from U.S. intelligence. The material was seized from a container ship coming from the southern Chinese port of Yantian and on its way to Benghazi, an eastern Libya port controlled by military commander Khalifa Haftar, the daily said, citing “strong” U.S. suspicions. Reuters

Chinese Firms Eye Morocco as Way to Cash in on US Electric Vehicle Subsidies
After the United States passed new subsidies designed to boost domestic electric vehicle production and cut into Beijing’s supply chain dominance, Chinese manufacturers began investing in an unlikely place: Morocco…At least eight Chinese battery makers have announced new investments in the North African kingdom since President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, the $430 billion U.S. law designed to fight climate change, according to an Associated Press tally. By moving operations to U.S. trading partners like Morocco, Chinese players that have long dominated the battery supply chain are seeking a pathway to cash in on increasing demand from American carmakers like Tesla and General Motors, said Kevin Shang, a senior battery analyst at the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. AP

Tanzania Zooms Ahead with New Electric Trains, Express Service
Tanzania has taken a major leap forward in its railway modernisation efforts with the arrival of two new electric multiple-unit (EMU) trains from South Korea. The trains boast eight carriages each and will be deployed on the new standard gauge railway route connecting the commercial hub Dar es Salaam and the capital Dodoma. The service is scheduled to begin on July 25. An express train is set to be launched on Friday between Dar and Morogoro, easing the travel time from four hours by bus to just one hour 40 minutes…Tanzania now has three EMUs, with the arrival of the latest two. The first set arrived in April this year and has been used for test runs. The Citizen