Africa Media Review for July 5, 2022

Sudan Military Withdraws from Negotiations, ‘Civilians to Form Govt’
Chairman of the Sovereignty Council and the Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, announced that the military will no longer participate in the current national negotiations. In a televised speech this evening, El Burhan announced the army’s withdrawal from the current dialogue facilitated by the AU-IGAD-UNITAMS Trilateral Mechanism. He called on Sudan’s political and revolutionary forces, and other national groups “to engage in an immediate, serious dialogue, and to form a government of independent national competencies that will complete the tasks of the transitional period” *. He stressed that the SAF will not be a vehicle for any political party to rule the country, and that it will be committed to implementing the outcomes of this dialogue. The army commander said that the Sovereignty Council will be dissolved after the formation of a new, independent government of technocrats.   A High Council of the Armed Forces will be formed by commanders from the SAF and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) “to assume the supreme command of the regular forces and be responsible for security and defence tasks, and related responsibilities, provided that its tasks are completed in agreement with the government that is formed”. El Burhan expressed his regret for “the victims from all sides”, and emphasised that “the military and security institutions will heed justice and assist in the investigations that lead to the clarification of facts and the bringing to justice of those involved in the loss of lives”. The country is witnessing a crisis that threatens its unity and national cohesion, and jeopardizes “the completion of the desired democratic transition,” he said, and called for the removal of “existential threats to the Sudanese nation and to work on the transition toward democracy.” Dabanga

Kagame Says ‘No Problem’ Rwanda Excluded from Joint DRC Force
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said Monday he had “no problem” with his troops being excluded from a proposed regional force for the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. East African leaders agreed at a meeting in Kenya last month to deploy a joint force to quell fighting in the east of DRC but Kinshasa insisted it would not accept the presence of Rwandan troops, blaming Kigali for backing a resurgent rebel group…The vast mineral-rich DRC is struggling to contain dozens of armed groups in the volatile east, many of which are a legacy of two regional wars a quarter of a century ago. A recent flare-up of heavy fighting in the east has revived decades-old animosities between Kinshasa and Kigali, with the DRC accusing Rwanda of backing the M23 militia — claims denied by Kigali. On Monday, Kagame echoed the denial, saying the rebels were Congolese. “What is happening there is an internal crisis that touches the persecution of Congolese people,” he said. Relations between Kinshasa and Kigali have been strained since the mass arrival in the DRC of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Ties had begun to improve after DRC President Felix Tshisekedi took office in 2019, but the recent flareup of violence linked to the M23 has reignited tensions. The M23 or “March 23 Movement” is a former Tutsi-dominated rebel group that was defeated in 2013 but took up arms again in late 2021. AFP

Congo and Rwanda to Meet for Talks amid Tensions over Rebels
Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi will meet his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, for talks in Angola this week, officials said Monday. There were no details on what they would discuss, but the neighbors have been at diplomatic loggerheads since a surge of attacks in eastern Congo by the M23 rebel group — which Kinshasa accuses Kigali of backing. Rwanda denies supporting the rebels and has, in turn, accused Congo of fighting alongside insurgents — a faceoff that has raised fears of fresh conflict in the region. The meeting is likely to take place on Tuesday or Wednesday in Angola’s capital, Luanda, according to the officials — two of them from Congo and one Rwanda — who did not wish to be named. Earlier on Monday, Kagame said he did not mind Rwanda being excluded from a regional military force set up in April to fight rebels in east Congo, removing a potential stumbling block to the initiative. Congo had welcomed the plan but said it would not accept the involvement of Rwanda. “I have no problem with that. We are not begging anyone that we participate in the force,” Kagame told Rwanda’s state broadcaster in a wide-ranging interview. “If anybody’s coming from anywhere, excluding Rwanda, but will provide the solution that we’re all looking for, why would I have a problem?” Kagame said. At the end of March, the M23 started waging its most sustained offensive in Congo’s eastern borderlands since capturing vast swaths of territory in 2012 and 2013.  Reuters

Mali Reacts to Lifting of Sanctions by ECOWAS
Malians have expressed hope and joy at the decision of regional bloc ECOWAS to lift the sanctions imposed on Mali’s military regime. West African leaders accepted on Sunday a March 2024 plan to return to civilian rule. Mali underwent coups in August 2020 and May 2021. “It’s a great joy for all of us, for the society because our economy had gone down. I think that with the opening of the borders, there will be progress for everyone. For operators, for carriers”, said Abdoulaye Traoré, company manager for Africa Tours Trans. The sanctions have badly hit the landlocked Sahel state, whose economy is already under severe strain from a decade-long jihadist insurgency. “The more the transport increases in price, the more the products increase in price too. If the price of gasoline goes down it will also reduce our prices. Because they are all transported. And even today with this lifting, if the price of fuel does not drop, it will not affect the price of products”, explained retail trader Aly Ballo. After months of talks, last week Mali approved a plan to hold presidential elections in February 2024. On Sunday, ECOWAS also agreed to allow Burkina Faso two years for its transition to democracy. AfricaNews

Nigeria Tasks New ECOWAS Leadership on Lingering Issues
Nigeria has called on the President Sissoco Embaló-led new leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), alongside a newly composed Commission, to work harder to resolve lingering issues in the region. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the call, yesterday while speaking with journalists at the end of the 61st Ordinary Session of ECOWAS held in Accra, Ghana. “President Nana Akufo-Addo did an excellent job in a very challenging period in the history of ECOWAS and many of the challenges remain. So, we expect that the new leadership will take over and work as hard and perhaps much harder to resolve some of the issues. There are even additional challenges today – economic challenges, especially with the Russia-Ukraine crisis, and economic problems. “Other issues are the coups that have taken place in the region in the past couple of years, and we are still trying to resolve some of those,” the Vice President said. He noted further: “The new leadership under President Sissoco Embaló (Guinea-Bissau) must step up efforts and address those very many responsibilities the region faces today.” Osinbajo, however, added that besides the challenges, the region is witnessing appreciable progress in the ECOWAS common currency policy, noting there are things “we should be happy about.” Guardian Nigeria

Sahel Insecurity, Post-Coup Sanctions Loom Large at ECOWAS Summit
West African leaders are meeting in Ghana’s capital for a summit of the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS), where rising insecurity in the Sahel and questions over how the bloc will move to restore civilian rule following three separate military coups across the region are set to loom large. The meeting on Sunday in Accra comes as the number of armed attacks across the Sahel continues to rise, with the spiralling security crisis – fuelled by a separatist movement in northern Mali in 2012 and a devolving security situation in the country’s central region perpetuated by ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda-linked groups – showing no signs of abating. The violence, which has spilled into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger and the wider region, has displaced 2.5 million people in the last decade and piqued concerns of attacks spreading into the coastal West African states, with analyst Adeeb Sanni telling Al Jazeera there were at least 19 attacks in Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo in 2021, up from zero in 2019. The situation has been cast into further uncertainty by the withdrawal of French troops from Mali, where they had been stationed since 2013, and the country’s pivot towards Russian mercenaries. Critics have also attributed the continued violence in the region to poor governance following military-led coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Guinea that have strained relations with the Western allies and regional organisations. Al Jazeera

Dozens Killed in Two Suspected Jihadist Attacks in Burkina Faso
Suspected jihadists killed at least 34 people in attacks on villages in northern Burkina Faso at the weekend, officials and sources said Monday. In the northwest of the country, 22 people, reportedly including children, were killed late Sunday at Bourasso in Kossi province, said Boucle du Mouhoun regional governor Babo Pierre Bassinga. “Armed men moved around the village at around 5:00 pm, firing in the air. They came back at night and blindly opened fire on people,” a security source said. In northern Burkina Faso, 12 people died on Saturday in an attack at Namissiguima in Yatenga province, another security source said, also speaking on condition of anonymity. Three of the dead were members of a civilian militia, the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP) – an auxiliary force set up in December 2019 to support the army. Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world, has been grappling with a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015. The campaign, led mainly by groups linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group, has claimed thousands of lives and forced some 1.9 million people to flee their homes. More than 40 percent of the country lies outside the control of the government, according to official figures. Burkina Faso underwent a coup in January, when disgruntled colonels ousted elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore. The new strongman, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, declared security to be his top priority but after a relative lull, attacks resumed, with the loss of hundreds of lives. AFP

Somalia Authorizes First Foreign Banks in Decades
Somalia announced Sunday that it has granted banking licenses to two foreign institutions, opening the country to international investment for the first time in decades. The Egyptian bank Banque Misr and the Turkish bank Ziraat Katilim thus become the first foreign banks to be allowed to operate in Somalia, the Somali Central Bank said in a statement. “The review of the applications of these two banks has been the subject of a lengthy process of several months,” the institution said, adding that they had the green light to establish and operate branches. “These are two strong banks that will add value to the development of Somalia’s financial sector and contribute to the growth of our economy,” the governor of the Central Bank of Somalia, Abdirahman Mohamed Abdullahi, was quoted in the statement as saying. One of the world’s poorest countries, with more than 70% of its population living on less than $1.90 a day, Somalia is struggling to recover from decades of civil war. The country of 15 million people has at least half a dozen commercial banks, some of which offer services through “hawala”, an informal network of over-the-counter money transfers. hawala is a low-cost system that allows deposits made at a foreign bank to be instantly credited to recipients who need only provide basic identification information matching that provided by the sender. The announcement of the licensing of foreign banks comes just six weeks after President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud took office following elections and a long political crisis. AfricaNews

Sudan & Ethiopia: Igad Leaders Meet in Nairobi amid Sudan-Addis Conflict
The heads of state and government from the eight-member countries of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) will on Tuesday convene in Nairobi for the 39th extraordinary meeting, in which they will discuss “matters of mutual concern in the region.” The summit comes against the backdrop of escalating tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia, both Igad members, after a border skirmish between the Sudanese and Ethiopian militaries. Igad Executive Secretary Workneh Gebeyehu visited Sudan at the weekend, where he met with the junta’s Sovereignty Council president Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Dr Workneh had earlier called on “the two sisterly countries to actively seek diplomatic means to find a lasting and sustainable solution.” Sudan, which currently chairs the regional trade bloc, says the summit “comes at a critical and important time.” During his visit to Sudan, Dr Workneh told journalists that Tuesday’s summit is “most importantly a ‘family meeting’ and all heads of states and government are confirmed to attend.” East African

Uganda Opposition Figure Besigye Released on Bail After Two Weeks
A court in Uganda released veteran opposition figure Kizza Besigye on bail on Friday after spending two weeks in jail awaiting trial on charges of inciting violence. Besigye, aged 66, was detained on June 14 in the capital Kampala as he led protests against skyrocketing consumer prices. He was charged with inciting violence the following day and his initial bail application made that day, was denied. On Friday, his lawyers applied for bail again and a magistrate ordered Besigye’s release saying he was “satisfied that the accused’s sureties are substantial”, according to a live video feed on Besigye’s Facebook account of the court proceedings. The opposition figure will pay 2.5 million Kenyan shillings ($665) as bail as one of the conditions for his release. He was ordered to appear in court again on July 29. Ugandans have expressed widespread anger at the steep surge in prices of fuel, cooking oil, soap, wheat and other goods and the government’s refusal to intervene to cushion consumers. Besigye has been calling for tax cuts to offset the rising inflation rate, but President Yoweri Museveni has rejected the idea, blaming the high prices on the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic. Museveni, in power since 1986, is now Africa’s fourth longest-ruling leader and the opposition and critics have accused him of rigging the polls and using security forces to maintain his grip on power. Museveni denies the accusations. Besigye has run against Museveni four times in the past and lost although he rejected the results, alleging fraud. He has been arrested many times in the past. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia’s Abiy Reports New Civilian Killings in Oromia
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has accused a rebel group of carrying out a “new massacre” of civilians in the western Oromia state. In a statement on Twitter on Monday, Abiy said the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) was “inflicting damage” on civilians as its fighters fled an offensive by security forces in Oromia. “Citizens living in the Qellem Wollega zone of Oromia state have been massacred,” he said, without giving details. “We will pursue this terrorist group to the end and eradicate it,” he added. Abiy’s office did not provide death figures and it was not possible to verify the information as access to Oromia is restricted. The region where the killings took place was also under a communications blackout. Officials have blamed the OLA for a number of killings targeting Amharas, Ethiopia’s second-largest ethnic group, although the rebels have denied responsibility. The United States-based Amhara Association of America (AAA) told the AFP news agency that Monday’s attack targeted Amhara in a village in the Hawa Gelan district of Qellem Wollega. It said phone communication into the remote area has been cut since midday. One survivor told the Amhara Media Corporation, a state-run regional outlet, that “nobody came to our rescue”. “They [the attackers] have left and bodies are now being picked up, so far 300 [bodies] have been collected,” the survivor said. “But it’s still early, there are many others whose whereabouts we don’t know.” Al Jazeera

Experts Challenge G7 to Keep Its Climate Change Promises to Africa
International climate change experts have welcomed the G7 countries’ announcement of a multibillion-dollar investment in infrastructure development in the Global South by 2027, but have questioned whether it is realistic. G7 countries met in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, last week, and some of the major issues were climate change and Africa’s place in the matrix. The only African countries invited to the G7 summit were South Africa and Senegal, and their presence was imperative since they will be the first African countries to be part of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP). For now, the JETP will aim to accelerate the decarbonisation of South Africa’s economy, with a focus on the electricity system. In the past, critics have accused the G7 summit of being a talk shop, particularly on issues like climate change in the Global South. The major highlight of the summit was the announcement of a $600 billion investment in infrastructure development in the Global South by 2027. In an interview with News24, Julian Havers, the head of international climate and development cooperation at independent climate change think tank E3G, said he was worried that the pledge was not achievable. “The announcement of a $600-billion strong G7 infrastructure initiative puts some welcome flesh on the bones on earlier G7 promises of a step change in investment flows toward developing country infrastructure, but the question is whether it is realistic. News24



Photo: Adam Jones