Africa Media Review for June 10, 2022

Gunmen Kill 32 in Northwest Nigeria Villages, Residents Say
Attacks by armed gangs on motorcycles are blamed for the deaths of at least 32 people in rural northwestern Nigeria, residents told The Associated Press. The gunmen attacked four villages in the Kajuru area of Kaduna state on Sunday, said Monday Solomon, a resident of the area, about 230 kilometers (143 miles) from Abuja. The attackers moved from village to village for hours before leaving, he said. Poor telecommunications delayed residents from reporting the attacks, as is often the case in parts of Nigeria’s north. News of the killings in Kaduna state came shortly after more than 30 people were killed in an attack on a Catholic church on Sunday in southwestern Ondo, a state previously known as one of Nigeria’s safest. … Such attacks have become frequent in Nigeria’s troubled northwest. Thousands have been killed in the violence, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations. Residents are often abducted and kept in detention for weeks, usually in forest reserves, until ransoms are paid. VOA

Sudan’s Main Opposition Coalition is Meeting with Military – Sources
Sudan’s main civilian opposition coalition has begun an “unofficial” meeting with the military mediated by the United States and Saudi Arabia, two political sources said on Thursday. The meeting is the first of its kind since the military took over power in Sudan in October 2021. The coalition known as the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) agreed to “unofficially” meet with the military to “discuss means of ending the 25th of October coup and handing Power over to civilian coalitions”, Sudan’s Congress party announced in a statement on Thursday. The coup ended a power-sharing arrangement agreed in 2019 with civilian political parties following the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. Reuters

More Anti-coup and Workers’ Protests in Sudan
Khartoum and El Gezira witnessed more demonstrations to demand the overthrow of the military junta and the installation of a civilian government yesterday. The protest marches were brutally suppressed by security forces with heavy firing of tear gas and live ammunition. Other protests took place in the country around unions and workers’ rights. Most of the main roads in Khartoum were closed by the authorities. The demonstrators managed to reach El Gasr street leading to the Republican Palace despite the repression. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said in a statement that the Khartoum marches heading to the presidential palace were subjected to excessive repression, including the use of live ammunition by security forces. Dabanga

Lawyers Speak about Enforced Disappearance Cases Despite Lift of State of Emergency in Sudan
Emergency Lawyers in Sudan disclosed the increase of enforced disappearance cases after the lift of the state of emergency in Sudan. The group of lawyers who offer legal assistance to the political detainees and activists met on Wednesday with the members of the Trilateral Mechanism, UNITAMS head, the African Union and IGAD envoys, to brief them about the human rights situation in the country. Following the meeting, they issued a statement saying they extensively briefed the facilitating mechanism about the continued human rights violations in the country after the official lift of the state of emergency. The human rights lawyers said the security services continue to enforce measures to clamp down on activists under the cover of local laws and orders. “The enforced disappearances increased after the lifting of the state of emergency in the country,” reads the statement. “In addition, the security services are clearly carrying out unlawful arrests, amid the rumoured existence of secret detention centres,” stressed the lawyers. The Sudanese lawyers further said that arbitrary arrests continued until Tuesday and that dozens of activists are still held in the notorious Soba prison in Khartoum. Sudan Tribune

Tunisian Union Says Targeted by Authorities after Shunning Constitution Talks
The leader of Tunisia’s powerful UGTT union said on Thursday it was being “targeted” by authorities after it refused to participate in talks on a new constitution called by President Kais Saied last month. UGTT leader Noureddine Taboubi gave no details but sources close to the union said there were fears that Saied would use the judiciary to target the union after he sacked dozens of judges last week in a move seen as aimed at consolidating his one-man rule. Saied assumed executive powers last summer in a move his opponents called a coup, subsequently setting aside the 2014 constitution to rule by decree and suspending the elected parliament. Saied this year replaced the Supreme Judicial Council, which had served as the main guarantor of judicial independence since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that ushered in democratic reforms. Reuters

Senegal’s Sall Says Compromise Still Possible with Mali on Election Dates
Senegal President Macky Sall said on Thursday he is still hopeful that a compromise can be reached with Mali’s ruling military junta on the timeline for restoring democratic rule. Mali’s military leaders, who overthrew the government in 2020, have been negotiating with West Africa’s regional bloc on how long they can hold power. They announced this week they had decided on 24 months starting from March 2022. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it regretted Mali’s decision to publish a timeline during negotiations. ECOWAS has imposed crippling sanctions on Mali since early this year, and an agreement on the transition would pave the way for them to be lifted. “Obviously it was clumsy of them to publish (the timeline), but it was the product of an agreement with the mediator,” said Sall in an interview with French broadcasters RFI and France 24. Reuters

Somalia President Mohamud Pledges Reconciliation as Leaders Witness his Inauguration
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud on Thursday took the mantle of power for the second time, vowing to reconcile his country’s divided political groups, as well as relations with neighbours following years of bickering. Mr Mohamud, who took over from Mr Mohamed Farmaajo, said his country will remain neutral in the international space, while befriending countries that will respect its sovereignty and seek to tackle common problems like al-Shabaab and poverty. “The event that we are witnessing today [his inauguration] is a specimen of democracy being reinstituted in Somalia,” he said, stressing that except when the country was, for 21 years, under military rule (1969 – 1991), Somalis have always been pro-democracy. Mr Mohamud indicated that reconciliation and peaceful coexistence is a priority for his government, addressing a gathering that included his predecessors Sheikh Sharif Ahmed and Mr Farmaajo with whom they raise up hands to show unity. The East African

Dying Children Reflect Brutal Toll of Somalia Drought
Arbay Mahad Qasim has already lost two children to a vicious drought, and now the Somali villager fears she could lose a third as her malnourished toddler Ifrah awaits treatment in a Mogadishu hospital. Barely out of her teens, Qasim is among dozens of weary parents crowding Banadir Maternity & Children Hospital, which has become ground zero for the starvation crisis sweeping across Somalia as a record drought grips the Horn of Africa. Entire villages have been forced to uproot their lives and flee their homes after poor rainfall destroyed crops and killed livestock. … The Banadir facility is packed with parents fearing the worst for their children. Some have walked for days to find help, carrying their sick, skeletal toddlers on their backs. Many told AFP they had never endured a crisis of such terrifying magnitude, echoing the warnings of climate scientists who say the unprecedented drought is the worst seen in four decades. The East African

AU Chair Urges Ukraine to Demine Odesa Port to Ease Wheat Exports
Senegalese President and African Union Chair Macky Sall on Thursday urged Ukraine to demine waters around its Odesa port to ease much needed grain exports from the war-torn country. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions have disrupted grain deliveries from the two countries, fueling fears of hunger around the world. Cereal prices in Africa, the world’s poorest continent, have surged because of the slump in exports, sharpening the impact of conflict and climate change and sparking fears of social unrest. … Russia and Ukraine produce 30% of the global wheat supply. But grain remains stuck in Ukraine’s ports because of a Russian blockade and Ukrainian mines, while Western sanctions on Moscow have disrupted exports from Russia. Moscow has called for Ukraine to demine the waters surrounding the Ukrainian-controlled port of Odesa to allow out blocked grain, but Kyiv has refused for fear of a Russian attack. Sall said Russia President Vladimir Putin, whom he met last week in Russia, had assured him this would not happen. VOA

ISWAP Blamed for Church Massacre in Nigeria
The Nigerian government has blamed an ISIL-affiliated armed group in the country for carrying out an attack that killed dozens of worshippers at a church. Security experts, however, expressed scepticism about the allegation. The responsibility for Sunday’s deadly bomb and gun assault in Owo town, Ondo state, which killed at least 40 churchgoers, belonged to the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), according to Nigerian officials. The accusation was made to the press by Interior Minister Rauf Aregbesola after a National Security Council meeting on Thursday in the capital Abuja. The minister added that the armed forces are on the hunt for the perpetrators. However, the armed group has yet to claim responsibility for the Sunday morning attack, and analysts noted this is unusual because ISWAP is known to quickly take credit for past violence. “I think we should be prudent,” Vincent Foucher, a research fellow at the National Centre for Scientific Research, told Al Jazeera. “It is better not to pin it on them too quickly because they usually claim and they usually claim quite fast.” Al Jazeera

Anger as Cameroon Hospital Burnt to Ground
A hospital in the Cameroonian city of Mamfe has been razed to the ground in an arson attack. All 45 patients at Mamfe district hospital were safely transferred to another facility and there were no deaths, according to a local administrative official interviewed by the AFP news agency. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) called Wednesday’s fire an “unprecedented attack on a hospital of vital importance” that will have “a major impact on people in a region where access to healthcare has already been gravely impacted by years of violence”. It is not clear who was behind the attack, but local media suspect that it was the work of English-speaking separatists who want to break away from the French-speaking majority. Five years of violent conflict between Anglophone separatists and government soldiers has seen both sides accused of abuses, while more than 6,000 people have been killed and 700,000 others displaced. BBC

BioNTech to Soon Start mRNA Vaccine Factory Construction in Rwanda
COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech said construction of an mRNA vaccine factory to enable African nations to jump-start their own manufacturing network would start on June 23 in Rwanda. The groundbreaking ceremony in the capital city of Kigali is to be attended by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, further heads of African states, as well as representatives from the European Union and the World Health Organization, the biotech firm said in a statement on Thursday. The German company’s modular factory elements, to be assembled in Africa to so-called BioNTainers, would be delivered to the Kigali construction site by the end of 2022, it added. The company, which developed the western world’s most widely used COVID-19 shot with U.S. partner Pfizer, earlier this year mapped out a plan to enable African countries to produce its Comirnaty-branded shot under BioNTech’s supervision. The company has said that the initial vaccine factory, made from an assembly kit and housed in shipping containers, would over the next few years become part of a wider supply network spanning several African nations including Senegal and South Africa. Reuters

Monkeypox: Uganda Isolates Six, Takes Samples to S Africa for Testing
Uganda has isolated six people suspected to have monkeypox, authorities have confirmed. Among the six are two Congolese refugees aged 2 and 12. Samples from the six have been flown to South Africa for testing as Uganda currently lacks the capacity to test for monkeypox. Uganda has no reagents for testing for monkeypox and attempts to secure them from the neighbouring DR Congo were unsuccessful, authorities confirmed. Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) said it began preliminary investigations after receiving information that the six presented symptoms similar to those caused by monkeypox. Two of the suspected cases have been isolated in the south-western Kisoro District, which borders the DR Congo and Rwanda, while four have been taken into isolation in Kampala City. The East African

South African Parliamentary Meeting Suspended as Chaos Erupts
A sitting of South Africa’s National Assembly was suspended on Friday after lawmakers from the radical Economic Freedom Fighters disrupted proceedings for a second day, preventing President Cyril Ramaphosa from replying to a debate on his office’s budget allocation. Security officers forcibly wrestled some EFF members from the debating chamber, while others who were participating in the proceedings remotely were cut off from the online system, before the Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula halted proceedings. Former spy boss Arthur Fraser laid charges against Ramaphosa last week, accusing him of concealing the theft of more than $4 million from the Phala Phala farm in February 2020, and the EFF has labeled him a criminal. Ramaphosa has confirmed that money he earned from the sale of animals was taken while he was attending an African Union summit in Ethiopia, but far less than Fraser alleged, and denied doing anything wrong. Bloomberg

Guinea-Bissau: Portuguese Speakers Cry Foul as French, English Make Gains
The Portuguese language is facing yet another challenge in one of its most important bastions – Guinea-Bissau. Some people say they are being discriminated against as employers in the country are publishing job adverts in French or English to the detriment of Portuguese speakers. Over the years, the popularity of the French language has grown in this former Portuguese colony. “I worked in a bank for nine years and I came across that situation. It was all in French. The bank statement is in French. I cannot be Lusophone to then interpret the statement of my bank account, of my money, in French,” said Amiel Carvalho, a resident of the capital. Portuguese is Guinea-Bissau’s official language. But the country is bordered by English-speaking Gambia to the north and French-speaking Guinea and Senegal. Bissau also hosts a large community of immigrant workers.” We are being discriminated against in the labour market in Guinea-Bissau, we are Guineans, and we are having difficulties getting jobs because of this French and English language situation,” said Carvalho. … Guinea-Bissau is the only Portuguese-speaking enclave in west Africa where French and English dominate. AfricaNews/LUSA



Photo: Adam Jones