Africa Media Review for June 2, 2022

Tens of Thousands Displaced by Resurgence of Fighting in Eastern Congo
Tensions between the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring Rwanda, and the sudden reemergence of a once-feared rebel group in eastern Congo, have raised fears of another wide-reaching conflict in the volatile Great Lakes region. The tensions erupted last week after M23 rebels attacked Congolese forces near Goma, the largest city in Congo’s mineral-rich east, which borders Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania. The United Nations and Congolese forces have long struggled to contain the violence in the east, which is driven by dozens of armed groups and complicated by national and ethnic rivalries. The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said Friday that more than 72,000 people have been displaced by the fighting in North Kivu province. Congo’s president, Félix Tshisekedi, summoned Rwanda’s ambassador on Friday, suspended RwandAir flights and barred overflights by the government-owned carrier, accusing Kigali of backing M23. Rwanda has denied supporting the ethnic Tutsi militia, which was accused by the United Nations of summary executions, rape and the use of child soldiers during a brutal insurgency a decade ago. But the group has been mostly quiet since laying down its arms in 2013. Washington Post

Rwanda Accused of Stalking, Harassing and Threatening Exiles in US
Rwanda has been accused of being among the worst perpetrators of “transnational repression” in the US, stalking, harassing and threatening exiles there, according to a new report. The report by the Freedom House advocacy group in Washington, names Rwanda alongside China, Russia, Iran and Egypt as the principal offenders in seeking to extend the reach of their repressive regimes into the US. Isabel Linzer, one of the report’s authors, said the findings raise further questions about the UK government’s agreement with Kigali to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. The first deportation flight is due on 14 June. “People often focus on Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Russia, but Rwanda is one of the most prolific perpetrators of transnational repression in the world,” Linzer said. “And it certainly has not received the same level of scrutiny as some of those other countries. “The asylum deal between the UK and Rwanda is quite shocking given how frequently the Rwandan government has gone after Rwandans in the UK and the British government is well aware of that,” she added…One of those targeted was Paul Rusesabagina, the former Kigali hotel manager whose efforts to save people in the 1994 genocide is told the film Hotel Rwanda. Rusesabagina, a US permanent resident and prominent dissident, was abducted while travelling in the Middle East in August 2020, tricked into boarding a private airplane that took him to Rwanda, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Last month the US state department formally declared him to be “wrongfully detained.” Guardian

African Union Head, Senegal’s Macky Sall, to Speak to Putin in Russia on Friday
The head of the African Union, Senegalese President Macky Sall, will speak with President Vladimir Putin in the southwestern Russian city of Sochi on Friday, Dakar said. The visit is aimed at “freeing up stocks of cereals and fertilisers, the blockage of which particularly affects African countries”, along with easing the Ukraine conflict, Sall’s office said Thursday. The visit was organised after an invitation by Putin, and Sall will travel with the president of the African Union Commission, his office added. The AU will also receive a video address from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, though no date has been set. The war in Ukraine has sent the cost of fuel, grain and fertilisers skyrocketing around the globe, which is being acutely felt in African nations. Both Ukraine and Russia are major suppliers of wheat and other cereals to Africa, while Russia is a key producer of fertiliser. The UN said last month Africa faces an “unprecedented” crisis caused by the war, compounding difficulties facing the continent, from climate change to the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this week, Sall made an appeal to European Union leaders to help ease the crisis on key commodities. He said their decision to expel Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system could hurt food supplies to the continent. France 24

Why African Union Is Calling for Peace Talks to End Russia-Ukraine War
The African Union prefers holding dialogue with both Russia and Ukraine to end the war, instead of directly allowing President Volodymyr Zelensky to address its Assembly of Heads of State and Government. The recommendation by the African Union Bureau of Heads of State and Government, a taskforce within the continental body, now means the AU will seek audience with both countries as it seeks to secure trade routes for grain into Africa. President Zelensky has, twice, requested to address the African Union to explain why the world should condemn Russia’s invasion of his country. Zelensky made the requests in April via phone calls to President Macky Sall of Senegal, the current African Union Chairman, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat. He wanted to speak to the Assembly at its May meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. East African

EU Court Rejects Alleged Wagner Group Financer’s Appeal Against Libya Sanctions
A top EU court on Wednesday rejected a bid by Kremlin-linked oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, alleged financier of the Wagner mercenary group, to overturn sanctions imposed over the conflict in Libya.  Prigozhin had challenged the EU’s decision of 15 October 2020 to freeze his assets in the European Union and to place him on a visa blacklist over the deployment of Wagner fighters to the war-torn north African country. According to the ruling, Prigozhin was “ providing support for Wagner Group’s activities in Libya,” which involved “multiple and repeated breaches of the arms embargo in Libya” established in 2011. Wagner participated in “multiple military operations against the UN-endorsed Government of National Accord,” according to the UN. However, Prigozhin claimed he had “no knowledge of an entity known as the Wagner Group” and said the EU had failed to justify the move. RFI

UNSC Extends Mandate of Sudan Assistance Mission UNITAMS for a Year
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has extended the mandate of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) until June 3, 2023. The mission, which replaced the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeping force, to assist Sudan “in its transition towards democratic governance, provide support for peace negotiations and bolster efforts to maintain accountable Rule of Law and security institutions”. The decision passed by the UNSC in New York yesterday extends the initial UNITAMS mandate, which is due to expire on June 3, 2022, until June 3 2023 “as contained in paragraph 3 of resolution 2579 (2021)“. UNITAMS was established in June 2020 with stated objectives “to assist Sudan in its transition towards democratic governance, provide support for peace negotiations and bolster efforts to maintain accountable Rule of Law and security institutions”. This occurred as the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) completed its drawdown exercise on 30 June 2021, as stipulate in UN Security Council resolution 2559 (2020), which ended the Mission’s mandate. Dabanga

Tunisia President Sacks 57 Judges
Tunisian President Kais Saied has sacked 57 judges, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists. In a television address, he said he had given the judiciary multiple opportunities and warnings to “purify” itself. Among the sackings announced in the government’s official gazette was Youssef Bouzaker, the former head of the Supreme Judicial Council. President Saied replaced the council earlier this year – part of his efforts to consolidate his position after he seized power last July. He has already dismissed Tunisia’s elected parliament and set aside the constitution. Mr Saied has promised a referendum on a new constitution next month. Opposition parties and the main trade union umbrella are boycotting the move. BBC

Guinea’s Military Junta Dismisses UN Calls to End Ban on Protests
The ruling junta in Guinea-Conakry has rejected a call from the United Nations to lift a ban on political demonstrations, insisting protests should only be allowed during the election period in three years’ time. The military, who overthrew President Alpha Condé in September, declared a ban on public demonstrations last month before any return to civilian rule – which it says will happen in three years time. On Monday, the UN’s Human Rights High Commission called for the ban to be revoked, but the junta rejected the appeal late Tuesday. In a communiqué read on state television, the junta stated: “No march will be authorised so long as public order cannot be guaranteed.” RFI

UN Peacekeeping Convoy Attacked in Mali; 1 Killed, 3 Hurt
Suspected terrorists attacked a U.N. peacekeeping convoy in northern Mali on Wednesday, the United Nations said. A Jordanian peacekeeper was killed and three other Jordanians were wounded. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the supply convoy was under sustained fire for about an hour from attackers who used small arms and rocket launchers. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the attack and sent his deepest condolences to the families of the peacekeepers and the government and people of Jordan, Dujarric said. According to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, the attack was the fifth incident in the northern Kidal region in one week, Dujarric said. “It is a tragic reminder of the complexity of the mandate of the U.N. mission and of its peacekeepers, and the threats peacekeepers face on a daily basis,” he said. Voice of America

Nigeria: The Village That Stood Up to Big Oil – And Won
On 10 October 2004, Eric Dooh received an urgent call from one of his father’s employees: the waterway surrounding their houses was running black with oil. Near the outskirts of Dooh’s village of Goi, a pipeline built by Royal Dutch Shell in the 1960s carried oil from inland Nigeria to an offshore terminal where it would be barreled and exported around the world. Dooh suspected the pipeline had sprung a leak. He attempted to alert the pipeline operator, but both Shell and its Nigerian subsidiary had largely abandoned oil operations in Goi a decade earlier in response to local uprisings. On that day, Shell’s community relations officer was unavailable, Dooh recalled. He reported the leak to a nearby police station instead. It wasn’t until the next day that officials climbed onboard a helicopter, ascended over Dooh’s village situated on the banks of the Oroberekiri Creek in Nigeria’s southern Niger Delta region, and confirmed what villagers already knew: oil was spreading and not letting up. Later that day, the situation in Goi went from bad to worse. Oil spilled into a local farmer’s house and connected with a cooking fire. The village, its oil-seeped creek and the surrounding mangrove forests erupted into flames. Guardian

South Africa Was Hit by a Wave of Coronavirus Infections, Despite Most People Having Antibodies.
Coronavirus infections surged in South Africa in recent months despite research suggesting that about 98 percent of the population had some antibodies from vaccination, previous infection, or both. The study, released Thursday but not yet peer reviewed, analyzed the prevalence of two types of antibodies in 3,395 blood donors collected mid-March across the country in order to estimate prevalence at the national level. It found that by that time, about 87 percent of the population had likely been infected with the coronavirus. About 11 percent had antibodies that, according to the study’s authors, suggest that a person had been vaccinated but not recently infected. But though the vast majority of the South African population had antibodies against the virus, many still became infected in the latest virus wave, which began in April and was driven by BA.4 and BA.5, new subvariants of Omicron. New York Times

Cyclones Killed 214 in Madagascar This Year – UN
Tropical storms and successive cyclones in Madagascar have claimed at least 214 lives and affected more than half a million people since the start of the year, the United Nations said on Tuesday, May 31. “Six tropical weather events hit Madagascar between January and April, killing at least 214 people and affecting an estimated 571,100 in the country,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement. The cyclone season in southern Africa usually runs between October / November and April. In January, tropical storm Ana caused heavy rains and flooding on the Indian Ocean island. Fifty-five people were killed and about 131,500 affected, mainly in the centre and north. In February, cyclones Batsirai and Emnati hit the east coast in quick succession. Thousands of houses were destroyed and crops devastated, increasing food insecurity in the region. Some 136 people died and 423,800 were affected. Between the two cyclones, tropical storm Dumako hit the northeast in mid-February. Fourteen people died in floods. AfricaNews



Photo: Adam Jones