Africa Media Review for June 13, 2022

“Peace, Freedom, and Prosperity Walk in Tandem”: President Nana Akufo-Addo’s Keynote Address
His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, delivered this year’s keynote address to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies’ Emerging Security Sector Leaders Seminar. The annual academic program brought together over 50 rising civilian and uniformed security professionals from 35 African countries to reflect critically and strategically on Africa’s security challenges. President Akufo-Addo’s remarks reflected on “the truth … that peace, freedom, and prosperity walk in tandem … and that wherever these three go, respect always follows.” … President Akufo-Addo emphasized that “the reappearance of coups in Africa in all its forms and manifestations must be condemned by all since it seriously undermines our collective bid to rid the continent of the menace of instability and unconstitutional changes in government.” He charged the continent’s future security leaders with seeking and cherishing peace, rousing them to help realize what he sees as an Africa on the cusp of a great and unique new civilization. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Jihadi Attacks Mount in Burkina Faso Despite Junta’s Efforts
The mutinous soldiers who ousted Burkina Faso’s democratically elected president early this year vowed they would do a better job at stopping the jihadi violence rocking the country. Five months later, however, attacks are increasing and patience with the junta appears to be waning. Many in Burkina Faso supported the military takeover in January, frustrated with the previous government’s inability to stem Islamic extremist violence that has killed thousands and displaced at least 2 million. Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who led the coup and was later installed as interim president, vowed to restore security. But violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State increased nearly 7% during the junta’s first three months of rule compared with the three months prior, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. “Beyond the immeasurable suffering, the effects of the violence and conflict — which show no signs of abating — are likely to lead to renewed popular discontent,” said Heni Nsaibia, senior researcher at ACLED. AP

Fresh Clashes Rock Libyan Capital after Failed Coup
Clashes between armed groups erupted in Libya’s capital on Friday night, according to local media, as the country reels from a failed coup attempt three weeks ago. Heavy exchanges of gunfire and explosions ricocheted across several districts of Tripoli on Friday, according to an AFP journalist, while images broadcast by local press showed civilians fleeing heavily trafficked areas. The intense fighting involved two influential militias from western Libya, local media reported. No casualties or motive for the fighting were immediately apparent, but it is the latest violence to rock the country as two rival prime ministers vie for power. … Last month, politician Fathi Bashagha attempted to seize power by force, sparking pre-dawn clashes between armed groups supporting him and those backing interim premier Abdulhamid Dbeibah. Dbeibah was appointed under a troubled UN-led peace process early last year to lead a transition to elections set for December 2021, but the vote was indefinitely postponed. News24

Nigeria’s Abuja-to-Kaduna Train Attack: Gunmen Free 11 Hostages
Kidnappers who had detained some victims of the March attack on the Abuja to Kaduna train in northern Nigeria have released 11 hostages. The spokesman to the cleric acting as go-between for the government and the attackers, Tukur Mamu, told the BBC that 51 people were still captive. During the gruesome assault gunmen planted explosives on the rail line and shot at travellers. At least nine people died and the incident sparked outrage. The government blamed the attack on a jihadist group working in collaboration with local militia, known locally as bandits. … Negotiations continue between the government and the kidnappers to release the remaining captives, Tukur Mamu said. BBC

Nigerian President Promises 2023 Election Will be Free, Safe, Transparent
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday vowed that next year’s presidential election will be “free”, “safe” and “transparent” as he marked the anniversary of the country’s return to democracy. “I know many of us are concerned with the rise in insecurity due to terrorist activities in parts of the country. “As a government, we are working hard to contain and address these challenges and ensure that the 2023 general elections are safe,” Buhari said in a televised address. “I am also promising you a free, fair and transparent electoral process,” he said. “Fellow Nigerians, your right to choose your government will be preserved and protected.” With the presidential campaign officially launched, and the main parties having nominated their candidate, the head of state issued an appeal for unity. “We must sustain this mature attitude to campaigning and ultimately, voting. We must never see it as a ‘do or die’ affair. We must all remember democracy is about the will of the majority. There must be winners and losers,” Buhari said in an address marking Democracy Day. After years of military dictatorships, Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999. Problems of insecurity, extreme poverty and endemic corruption persist. RFI

Civilians Bear Brunt of Heavy Fighting in Mali
Mali’s northeast is seeing heavy fighting as Mali’s army, together with pro-government militias, battle insurgents. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and tens of thousands are displaced. “The principle victims are civilians,” said Ibrahima Garigo, director of the regional station Radio Rurale de Meneka, in a telephone interview with DW. The fighting between Mali’s army and its Tuareg allies against Islamist militant groups in Mali’s northeast Menaka region has intensified in the past weeks. The local wing of extremist group known as the Islamic State has killed hundreds in the area since March, in retaliation for attacks by the Tuareg militias. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in reprisal killings, Garigo said. The extremists have also looted and burned homes, markets and vehicles. Many pastoralists in the region have also lost the animals they make their livelihoods from in the fighting, according to Garigo. DW

Mali’s Junta Creates a Body in Charge of Suggesting a New Constitution
The leader of Mali’s military transitional government, created on Friday night a body in charge of writing a new Constitution. Colonel Assimi Goïta will be in charge of choosing the members of this committee who will have to present to him a draft version of the text in two months. The team will include a president, two rapporteurs and experts. It will be able to consult, all political parties and the civil society including religious organisations and traditional authorities. This presidential decree has already been published in the Official journal. This decision comes just days after the junta announced on June 6 it would stay in power for two additional years, before organising democratic elections in March 2024. The West African country is facing sanctions from its regional partners of the ECOWAS as it did not meet the deadline for elections to be held by the end of February this year. AfricaNews

Civilian Groups Issue Conditions for Dialogue with Sudan Junta
Sudan’s main civilian lobby for democracy on Friday issued five conditions to resume talks with the ruling junta, sticking out its perennial demand for the military to stay out of government. After Thursday’s meeting with representatives of the Sudan Sovereignty Council—the military body in charge of the government—the civilian group Forces for Freedom and Change, which is the Central Committee, said it needs assurance that the military will leave governing to civilians. Sudan has been in chaos since the junta seized power on October 25 last year, toppling the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. But the Committee demands a return to the arrangement before the coup, a handover of power back to civilians, unification and reform of the military and its removal from political life, and the end of the current course of the tripartite mechanism of dialogue consisting of the United Nations, African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The East African

Death Toll Rises to 49 in Ongoing West Darfur Violence
The death toll from ongoing tribal clashes in Kulbus locality, West Darfur, has risen to 49 after six people were killed and a village burned in a continuation of clashes on Friday. Continual ‘tribal clashes’ in Kulbus locality, north of Jebel Moon in West Darfur, over the last week have now claimed at least 49 lives, with many wounded and many more displaced after fleeing the fighting, which has raged in Kulbus and the villages of El Sufra, Rmeili Waad El Qamary north of Saraf Omra, and the village of Jowk Jouk, which resulted most recently in the deaths of six people. Eight villages burned to the ground in the first two days of the clashes, Abakar El Tom, head of the Gamar tribe, told Radio Dabanga that the clashes erupted after a dispute over agricultural lands. The clashes then expanded and escalated to include a number of villages and the occupation of a water well. The fighting continued until late on Tuesday. … The Higher Coordination of Nomads in West Darfur said that the clashes occurred after the killing of one of the nomads and the injury of another in a shooting in the area of Um Hariz in Kulbus locality. In a statement after the initial clashes last week, the Nomads Coordination said that the perpetrators were pursued which led to clashes that left a number of dead and wounded, among them a police colonel after they arrived in the area on Monday evening to contain the situation. The nomads hold the West Darfur government and security committee responsible for the violence. They called for the arrest of the perpetrators and the expulsion of “the gunmen of the rebel movements” from the state. Dabanga

Rebels Claim Capture of DR Congo Border Town
The M23 rebels in eastern DR Congo claim to have captured the border town of Bunagana near Uganda, according to their spokesman. “We control the whole of the town now,” Willy Ngoma, the M23 spokesman told BBC Great Lakes. The claim follows heavy fighting between the army and rebels that on Monday saw some government soldiers cross over to Uganda, the UN-backed Radio Okapi reports citing sources. The DR Congo authorities have not yet commented on M23’s claim. Army spokesperson Lt Col Guillaume Ndjike Kaiko said he would comment on this “later”, but a statement on Sunday night had said they repelled an attack by the rebels in Bunagana. The UN says that more than 30,000 people have been displaced by the latest fighting. Bunagana town is strategic in cross-border trade and is located some 70km (43 miles) north-east of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province. The town served as M23’s base when they captured Goma in November 2012 before they lost the war and fled to Uganda. BBC

Region Steps up Diplomatic Firefighting in Rwanda-DRC Tensions
The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda continued to spar over the activities of the M23 rebels, threatening to shake the foundation of the East African Community. On Friday, Rwanda reported shelling in Gasizi village in Kinigi Sector, Musanze District at around noon, pointing an accusing finger at the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). News of the attack came as Rwanda battled allegations by FARDC that it had sent 500 Special Forces in disguise into Congolese territory. In response, Rwanda said it would not respond to such “baseless” accusations. FARDC alleged that the Rwandan special forces, clad in green and black uniform – which is different from their regular gear – had been deployed in the border area of Tshanzu, North Kivu Province. Kenya and Uganda have now stepped in to seek a de-escalation of the tension, saying that further squabbling between Kinshasa and Kigali could ruin regional co-operation on security and trade. The East African

Tunisian Judges Extend their Strike for Second Week
Tunisian judges extended their strike for a second week after President Kais Saied refused to reverse a decision to dismiss dozens of them, judges’ unions said in a joint statement on Saturday. Saied dismissed 57 judges this month, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists, charges that the Tunisian Judges’ Association said were mostly politically motivated. The first strike began on June 4. Saied’s decision sparked a wave of domestic and foreign criticism. Ten international rights groups accused him of dealing “a deep blow to judicial independence”. Reuters

Ethiopia Says Willing to Resume Dam Talks with Egypt, Sudan
A senior Ethiopian official says his country is interested in resuming talks with Egypt and Sudan on a huge and controversial Blue Nile dam that will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant. The comment by Sileshi Bekele, Ethiopia’s former negotiator on the dam and now the country’s ambassador to the United States, came during a meeting with the new U.S. special envoy to the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer. A statement by Ethiopia’s foreign ministry on Friday cited the ambassador as highlighting “Ethiopia’s interest to resume the African Union-led trilateral negotiation over the GERD,” or Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The multi-billion-dollar project is expected to bring electricity to millions of off-grid Ethiopians, but Sudan and Egypt fear it will reduce the amount of water they receive from the Nile River. Several past rounds of negotiations among Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have failed. Egypt fears a quick filling of the dam will reduce its share of Nile waters and seeks a binding legal agreement in case of a dispute. AP

Refugees at Risk: UN Uncovers Human Trafficking at Camp in Malawi
The widespread exploitation of men, women, and children at a refugee camp in Malawi has been uncovered by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Malawian Police Service. Now measures are underway to dismantle the human trafficking networks operating within the Dzaleka Refugee Camp, identify and rescue their victims, and bring those responsible to justice. “The situation was much worse than we first envisaged,” says UNODC’s Maxwell Matewere, who initially visited the camp in October 2020, where he trained camp staff and law enforcement officers how to detect and respond to trafficking cases. “I even witnessed a kind of Sunday market, where people come to buy children who were then exploited in situations of forced labour and prostitution,” he adds. UNODC coached and mentored 28 camp officials and law enforcement officers who are now involved in the identification of victims and the investigation of trafficking cases and will train other colleagues at police stations and border crossing posts. UN News

Migrant, Refugee Deaths Increasing on Dangerous Mediterranean Sea Crossing
The U.N. refugee agency says fatalities are rising along the Mediterranean Sea crossing to Europe, even as fewer migrants and refugees are making the dangerous journey. Migration reached a peak in 2015, when more than a million refugees and migrants crossed the Mediterranean to Europe. That number declined to 123,300 in 2021. However, the U.N. refugee agency says more than 3,200 died or went missing at sea last year, an increase of nearly 1,000 over recorded fatalities in 2018. In addition to the rising death toll at sea, UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo says even greater numbers may have died or gone missing along land routes through the Sahara Desert and remote border areas. She says deaths and abuses most commonly occur in and through the countries of origin and transit, including Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Libya. “UNHCR has continuously been warning of the horrific experiences and dangers faced by refugees and migrants who resort to these journeys,” said Mantoo. “Many among them are individuals who are fleeing conflict, violence, and persecution. The data visualization focuses specifically on the route from the East and Horn of Africa to the Central Mediterranean Sea.” VOA

East Africa: It’s a Bad Month in Region’s Fight against Covid-19 as New Infections Hit its Population
Numbers of Covid-19 cases are rising again in East Africa even as countries bank on vaccinations to prevent another round of restrictions. Over the past one month, Kenya’s positivity rate has risen from zero to more than five percent, the level which the World Health Organisation (WHO) often considers threatening. Kenya recorded a positivity rate of 7.2 percent on Thursday, the highest in four months. And the average positivity rate in the past seven days is 5.7 per cent. More people have in recent days been showing up for testing and the highest was 3,317 people out of which 218 tested positive for the disease. … The experts also attribute this new wave to the change in weather as the country is experiencing a cold season as well as the BA.2 sub variant, which is more infectious than Omicron. The East African

UK Courts Rush to Hear Rwanda Asylum Deal Appeals as Deportations Start
On the eve of the first scheduled departures, the British courts are examining last-minute appeals against the government’s plan to send migrants who arrived illegally in the United Kingdom to Rwanda. A first flight carrying about 30 of them is scheduled for Tuesday, four days after an appeal by refugee associations failed. However, the plaintiffs, including the associations Care4Calais and Detention Action, have filed an appeal, which will be heard on Monday. Among the plaintiffs is the civil service union PCS, whose members include customs officers who are supposed to carry out the deportations. Pointing out that the High Court plans to examine the legality of the government’s plan in detail in July, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said on SkyNews on Sunday: “Imagine being told to do something on Tuesday, which in July is deemed illegal. That would be a terrible situation.” AfricaNews

Prolonged La Niña Likely to Worsen Drought in Horn of Africa
Meteorologists predict the La Niña weather phenomenon is likely to persist into next year, prolonging devastating drought conditions in the Horn of Africa. The World Meteorological Organization says La Niña, which started in 2020, will continue until at least August and might persist into 2023. La Niña refers to the large-scale cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis said La Nina affects temperature and rainfall patterns in different parts of the world and exacerbates drought and flooding. “So, the ongoing drought in the Horn of Africa and southern South America bear all the hallmarks of La Niña, as does the above average rainfall in South-East Asia and Australasia, as well as the predictions for an above average hurricane season in the Atlantic,” she said. The WMO said all naturally occurring climate events, such as La Niña, now take place in the context of human-induced climate change. Though La Niña has a cooling influence, temperatures are continuing to rise due to global warming. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones