Africa Media Review for July 7, 2020

Mayor, Soldiers among Eight Killed in Burkina Faso Attack
Gunmen ambushed a convoy in northern Burkina Faso on Monday, killing at least eight people including five soldiers and a town mayor, security and local sources said. “Armed individuals attacked a convoy of the Pensa town hall, which was under escort,” a local source in the nearby town of Barsalogho told AFP. Among those killed was Pensa Mayor Souleymane Zabre, while three others in his vehicle are missing, the source added. A military source said five soldiers were also killed in the attack, along with two “trackers.” The Defense Post

Insurgents Kill 8 Gas Project Workers in Northern Mozambique
Gunmen ambushed and killed eight employees of a private construction firm working on a multi-billion-dollar gas project in Mozambique’s restive north, the company said Sunday. Fenix Constructions Service Lda, subcontracted by French oil giant Total, said five gunmen wearing military fatigues similar to those worn by the Mozambican government forces staged the attack on June 27. Three of the 14 occupants in the vehicle survived and another three are still missing. Northern Mozambique has been hit by a jihadist insurgency since 2017 that has killed more than 1,000 people and complicated the country’s plans to develop its offshore gas reserves. But attacks on workers involved in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project development have so far been rare. The Defense Post

Ghana Presidential Candidate Selects First Female Running Mate for Major Party
Former Ghana President John Mahama said on Monday that he had chosen Jane Naana Opoku-Agyeman as his running mate for this year’s election, making her the first woman on a major Ghanaian party’s presidential ticket. The Dec. 7 poll will pit Mahama, who governed from 2012 to early 2017, against his successor, President Nana Akufo-Addo, who defeated him in the late 2016 election. Opoku-Agyeman, 69, is a former education minister and university professor. She became the first female vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Coast in 2008, according to the announcement on Mahama’s Facebook page. He called her “God-fearing, a distinguished scholar, a conscientious public servant and a role model.” … The presidency has changed hands repeatedly between the NPP and Mahama’s National Democratic Congress (NDC) since 1992 in a series of peaceful elections that have cemented Ghana’s reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies. Reuters

Malawi’s New President Urges All to Root Out Corruption
Malawi’s newly elected President Lazarus Chakwera has been inaugurated Monday in a small ceremony, following a last-minute change from a stadium event in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of a ceremony at the 40,000-seat stadium, about 100 people attended the swearing-in at Kamuzu Barracks in the capital, Lilongwe. Chakwera said Malawi must rid itself of corruption, in a speech that was broadcast on national television. “We must clear the rubble of impunity, for it has left our governance institutions in ruins,” he said. He said all Malawians must work to build a new nation free from maladministration. “I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed guilty of ruining this country are those who lost the recent election,” said Chakwera. “I put it to you that there can be no new Malawi if the only people deemed responsible for fixing this country are those who won the recent election.” AP

11 Killed in DR Congo Militia Attack
A minister and an MP were among 11 people killed by militia at the weekend in the territory of Djugu, Ituri province, northern Democratic Republic of Congo. An assistant administrator, police officers and soldiers were also among the casualties. The Saturday attack was linked to the Lendu-Codeco militia. It came a day after a delegation from Kinshasa arrived in the area in preparation for negotiations with the Codeco militiamen. Simultaneous attacks in several villages in Ituri have also been reported. The East African

Congo Dispatches Former Warlords to Try to Resolve Ethnic Conflict
Democratic Republic of Congo’s government has dispatched former warlords, including two who were tried for war crimes in The Hague, to try to convince militiamen in their home region to surrender, the governor of Ituri province said on Monday. Ethnic violence in Ituri, where a conflict between Lendu farmers and Hema herders between 1999 and 2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths, broke out again in 2017. Hundreds have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee. Now, Congo’s government is turning to some of the main players from the previous conflict to try to resolve the current one, dispatching a delegation that arrived in Ituri last week. … The delegation will begin travelling around the province later this week to meet members of the Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, whose fighters are mostly drawn from the Lendu community, Bamanisa told Reuters. Reuters

Congo-Kinshasa: Islamic Militants May Have Committed War Crimes. UN Says
A series of brutal attacks against Congolese civilians by Islamic militants are possible war crimes, United Nations monitors said Monday. Eighteen months of attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) have killed more than 1,000 civilians, the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office says in a new report. “In the majority of cases, the means and the modus operandi of the attacks indicate a clear intention to leave no survivors. Entire families have been hacked to death,” it said, adding that attacks “may amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.” According to the report, ADF extremists used assault rifles, mortars, machetes and knives against villagers. The fighters have burned down schools and health centers and kidnapped women and children, looking to recruit them. VOA

Mozambique Is Emerging as the Next Islamic Extremist Hotspot
An Islamist terror group in Mozambique is staging increasingly sophisticated and destructive attacks on oil facilities and government targets this year. Its connections with Islamic State may be growing tighter, according to a report published Monday by data analytics company Babel Street. The attacks are part of a three-year uprising in the country that has turned markedly more violent this year. Already, 447 people have died in attacks in 2020, a faster pace than last year, which saw 660 deaths in 309 attacks, the Babel Street report said, citing the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project. … Babel Street draws on a variety of sources, including local media vetted by the IntelCenter database of terrorist activity, message boards, blogs, social media, Telegram channels. Defense One

Latest Violence in Ethiopia Imperils Its Transition to Democracy
Ethiopia’s much-praised transition to democracy is under increasing jeopardy after a tumultuous month of postponed elections, political arrests, media shutdowns and a wave of violent unrest that has killed at least 166 people. Access to the internet was blocked in Ethiopia again on Monday for a seventh consecutive day, while an opposition party reported that five of its top leaders had been detained by security forces. Just eight months ago, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to bring democracy and peace to his country and its Horn of Africa neighbours. But now his achievements are threatened by deadly clashes in the streets and a heavy-handed response from the military and police. The Globe and Mail

Kenyans Protest Cop Who Allegedly Killed Man over Sanitizer
Residents of a small town in western Kenya set fire to a police station and damaged several vehicles after a police officer allegedly killed a man over a dispute about hand sanitizer, according to an official report. It is the second time in two weeks that Kenyans have violently protested alleged police killings. According to a police report seen by The Associated Press, residents of Rioma in Kisii County stormed the local police station Sunday evening after an officer reportedly shot and killed a trader he accused of selling fake hand sanitizers. Enraged members of the public pelted the station with stones, injuring five officers, and lit fires that extensively damaged the offices and several police cars, the report says. … In the last three months 22 people, including a 13-year-old boy, have been killed by police enforcing the new restrictions, allege human rights activists. AP

Sub-Saharan Africa ‘Just at the Start’ of Its Coronavirus Outbreak, UK Aid Department Warns
Many developing countries, including those in sub-Saharan Africa are “just at the start” of their Covid-19 outbreaks, the Department for International Development has warned. Giving evidence to MPs on Monday Dr Charlotte Watts, the department’s chief scientific advisor, said an “extremely concerning situation” was unfolding across large parts of the developing world. “We are seeing rapid increases across Asia, south America and sub-Saharan Africa, so this is happening in multiple geographies,” she told the international development committee when asked about infections. … “In practice its quite hard to predict when exactly because in each country it’s very dependent on the actions each country is taking and also context factors like the density people live in and the extent to which they are able to reduce transmission risk through changing their own actions.” Independent

Burundi Starts Taking COVID-19 Seriously, Begins Screening
Burundi launched a campaign of mass screening for COVID-19 on Monday, indicating that the new president is changing policies to more assertively combat the spread of the disease. Named “I won’t get infected and propagate COVID-19,” in the Kirundi language, the new program was launched in three centers in the north, center and south of Bujumbura, the East African country’s largest city. Scores of Bujumbura residents, including students, wore masks as they participated in the screening. Launching the screening scheme, Health Minister Thaddee Ndikumana said the government is determined to fight the spread of COVID-19. … Health workers in Burundi have warned that the coronavirus is more serious there than the government admits, Human Rights Watch said last month. Several workers spoke anonymously to the group, alleging that the National Institute for Public Health is refusing to conduct virus tests or properly inform the public on the extent of infections. AP

From Programmer to Gangster Boss: The Unbelievable Story of Paul Le Roux
A New York court has now sentenced the gangster boss from Zimbabwe to 25 years in prison. … A hotel room in Monrovia, Liberia, in September 2012: Paul le Roux, a brilliant programmer from southern Africa with a passion for criminal business, meets a man named Pepe – the boss of a Colombian drug cartel. In addition to cocaine, Pepe wants to sell crystal meth to North America and Europe. Le Roux, who has already been in the meth business for some time, plans to supply raw materials and use his connections to help set up drug laboratories in West Africa. What le Roux does not know is that the meeting is a trap set up by agents of the US anti-drug agency, the DEA. A hidden camera is filming their entire conversation. The very same day, le Roux is arrested by Liberian police and extradited to the USA shortly afterwards. DW



Photo: Adam Jones