Africa Media Review for June 20, 2024

Culture, Democracy, and the Fight against Violent Extremism
A deepening security threat posed by militant Islamist groups has made the western Sahel the most vulnerable region to violent extremism in Africa and, by some estimates, the world. This insecurity has been used to justify military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger—though fatalities linked to violent extremism have, in fact, escalated under each of these juntas—with no end in sight. To gain perspective on alternatives for addressing the security threat, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies spoke with Professor Abdoul Karim Sango, the former Minister of Culture of Burkina Faso. Professor Sango observes that the spread of violent extremism in the Sahel is fundamentally a cultural crisis that will require cultural solutions. These are closely aligned with strengthening national identity and democratic practices of collective governance and accountability—cultural values that are deeply rooted in African traditions. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Burkina Faso Suspends French Broadcaster TV5 Monde for Six Months
Burkina Faso on Tuesday, June 18, suspended French broadcaster TV5 Monde for six months for spreading “disinformation”, authorities said. The communications regulator (CSC) accused the channel of spreading “malicious insinuations” and “disinformation” about the country’s transitional government. The regulator had earlier suspended French newspaper Le Monde, British publication The Guardian and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW). In its latest move Tuesday, it also hit TV5 with a fine of 50 million CFA francs ($82,000). The CSC criticized the broadcaster for this week hosting Newton Ahmed Barry, a critic of the military regime who led the election commission from 2014 to 2021. TV5 was already suspended on April 28 for two weeks, after broadcasting a report by Human Rights Watch that accused the military of killing civilians. Multiple foreign news outlets – the majority French – have been shuttered temporarily or indefinitely since Captain Ibrahim Traoré seized power in the West African country in a September 2022 coup. Le Monde with AFP

Niger Group Claims Attack on China-backed Pipeline, Threatens More
An armed group opposed to Niger’s ruling junta disabled a section of the country’s PetroChina-funded crude oil pipeline in an attack on Sunday night, it said in a statement. The pipeline has a capacity of 90,000 barrel per day (bpd) and extends for nearly 2,000 km (1,243-mile) linking Niger’s Agadem oilfield to Benin’s coast. Exports are meant to be loaded under a $400 million deal with oil giant China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC)…The Patriotic Liberation Front (FPL) said its attack on the pipeline was aimed at pushing Niger’s Chinese partners to cancel the export deal. The FPL formed after the West African country’s July 2023 coup…The claimed attack deepens a crisis surrounding the pipeline, whose flows Niger said last Thursday it had shut off due to a border dispute with Benin. Reuters

South Africa: Ramaphosa Warns GNU Detractors They ‘Will Not Succeed’, Vows to Protect Constitution, Rule of Law
President Cyril Ramaphosa used his inauguration speech at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday to reinforce the principles of the government of national unity…He further went on to slam those who disregard the Constitution and rule of law, adding that the executive would do everything in its power to protect them. “They want a South Africa in which all may find shelter in our democratic Constitution and may find protection in our courts,” he said. Since election results were released by the Electoral Commission of South Africa, the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party has been at the forefront of discrediting the 2024 poll outcomes. The party has also spoken negatively about the Constitution, saying Roman Dutch law should be replaced with laws that are favourable to Africans. “We accept and respect the results of the elections and we once again say the people have spoken. Their will shall be done without any doubt or question,” Ramaphosa said. Daily Maverick

Interview: UN Refugee Chief Urges End to ‘insane’ Sudan War
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, on Wednesday urged an end to the war in Sudan, where hunger and violence have driven millions from their homes. “They are fleeing horrible violence, very severe violations of human rights,” Grandi told VOA in an interview from Juba, South Sudan, after field visits to Renk in South Sudan and across the border in Kosti, a city in Sudan’s White Nile state. Thursday is World Refugee Day, and Grandi hopes to put this neglected crisis in the global spotlight…”But increasingly they are also fleeing deprivation — and in particular food insecurity, and in some cases, hunger,” Grandi said. “So you have a multiplication of factors that are all generated clearly by this insane war that doesn’t seem to end…Let’s not forget that these people are coming, like here in South Sudan, to countries that are already very fragile — they have huge challenges of their own in terms of security, political fragility, governance, economic problems and so forth,” Grandi said, praising them for keeping their borders open and offering shelter. VOA

Why Darfur Again Faces the Risk of Ethnic Slaughter
Sudan’s brutal civil war has been spreading for months across the western Darfur region, where atrocities were seared into international consciousness 20 years ago…The U.N. Security Council, in a near-unanimous vote, has demanded an end to the siege [of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur]. As hostile forces close in on the city, one of the biggest in Darfur, an analysis of satellite and video imagery by The New York Times has found that thousands of homes have been razed and tens of thousands of people forced to flee. The fighters are part of a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces. Given their history — they are successors to the janjaweed militias that once brutalized civilians — and accounts of a massacre in another city last fall, many fear the worst. If the city falls, what had largely been a military clash could descend into ethnic slaughter like the violence Darfur endured in the early 2000s, when the janjaweed, who are Arab, set upon ethnic Africans. The United Nations estimated that 300,000 people were killed in the genocide. “The situation today bears all the marks of risk of genocide,” said Alice Wairimu Nderitu, the top United Nations official on genocide prevention. The New York Times

Sudan’s Cemeteries Swell with Fresh Graves as Hunger and Disease Spread
In all, Reuters identified 14 burial grounds in five communities across Darfur that have expanded rapidly in recent months. The area of new graves at these burial grounds has grown up to three times faster in the first half of 2024 than in the second half of last year. That increase, moreover, came on top of an already-high base: The region saw weeks of violence in the last six months of 2023 that resulted in many deaths…The satellite images – combined with food insecurity data, photos and videos of emaciated children, and interviews with dozens of people from 20 communities across Darfur – reveal how hunger and disease are spreading rapidly in Sudan…In charting the spike in mortality in the five Darfur communities, Reuters reviewed hundreds of satellite images of burial grounds over a period of several years. The recent expansion in the area of new graves may in part be due to higher mortality as a result of the influx of people into the camps who have fled violence. Nevertheless, the Reuters calculation of how much the burial grounds have expanded is likely an underestimate: It doesn’t account for new graves that have been dug in between existing ones in many places, for instance, or for the fact that there are small patches of graves not easily identifiable in satellite images. Reuters only reviewed communities in which there hasn’t been fighting in the past six months to rule out the possibility that this year’s burial-ground expansion may be due to an increase in the number of people killed in conflict. Reuters

Kenyan Protesters to Return to Streets over Tax Hikes
The cash-strapped government of President William Ruto agreed to make some concessions on Tuesday after hundreds of mostly young protesters clashed with the police in the capital Nairobi. But the government will still go ahead with some tax increases and has defended the proposed hikes as necessary for filling its coffers and cutting reliance on external borrowing…Protesters in Nairobi said they would march to parliament, which must pass the final version of the bill before June 30…The government has now targeted an increase in fuel prices and export taxes to fill the void left by the changes, a move critics say will make life more expensive in a country already battling high inflation. AFP

Haiti Police Meet Kenyan Commanders Ahead of Deployment of UN-backed Mission to Fight Gangs
A team of Haitian police commanders on Tuesday met Kenya’s inspector general of police ahead of a planned deployment to the violence-hit Caribbean country expected to take place by the end of June. Kenya is set to lead a U.N.-backed multinational peacekeeping mission with officers drawn from several countries to combat gang violence in Haiti that has left thousands of people dead and forced more than 360,000 others to flee their homes…The Haitian police also met commanders of the 1,000 Kenyan officers who will be deployed as part of the multinational peacekeeping mission. Kenya will also host Haitian police for training, and the delegation in Nairobi on Tuesday visited the barracks where drills will take place, Kenyan police said…The deployment that was set to take place in May was postponed to allow completion of bases where the officers will operate from and the procurement of key equipment including vehicles. AP

Somalia Asks Peacekeepers to Slow Withdrawal, Fears Islamist Resurgence
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a peacekeeping force, is committed to withdrawing by Dec. 31, when a smaller new force is expected to replace it. However, in a letter last month to the acting chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council the government asked to delay until September the withdrawal of half the 4,000 troops due to leave by the end of June…The government had previously recommended, in a joint assessment with the AU in March, reviewed by Reuters, that the overall withdrawal timeline be adjusted “based on the actual readiness and capabilities” of Somali forces. The joint assessment, which was mandated by the U.N. Security Council, warned that a “hasty drawdown of ATMIS personnel will contribute to a security vacuum”…The Peace and Security Council is due to meet on Somalia later on Thursday to discuss the drawdown and follow up mission. Reuters

Jihadis from Africa’s Sahel Have Crossed into Nigeria’s North, a New Report Says. A Lot Is at Stake
Jihadi fighters who had long operated in Africa’s volatile Sahel region have settled in northwestern Nigeria after crossing from neighboring Benin, a report said Wednesday, the latest trend in the militants’ movements to wealthier West African coastal nations. The extremists believed to be linked to al-Qaida have in the last year crossed over from Benin’s hard-hit northern region and settled in Kainji Lake National Park, one of Nigeria’s largest, where other armed groups have also gained access, according to the report by the Clingendael Institute think tank…Residents close to the park told The Associated Press that the facility, which holds one of West Africa’s fast-declining lion populations, has been closed for more than a year because of security threats from armed groups attacking neighboring villages and roads…The “sustained presence” of the armed groups in the park is the first sign of a connection between Nigeria’s homegrown extremists that have launched a decadelong insurgency in its northern region, and al-Qaida-linked militants from the Sahel, the vast arid expanse south of the Sahara Desert, Bruijne said. Their presence offers an opportunity for the extremists to claim large-scale success in both countries, already wracked by deadly attacks in recent years, he added. AP

Explosions at a Military Ammunition Depot in Chad’s Capital Kill 9 People and Injure 46 Others
Government spokesperson Abderaman Koulamallah said 46 people were being treated for various injuries after the explosions jolted residents from their sleep late Tuesday in the Goudji district of the capital, N’Djamena. The situation has been brought under control, Koulamallah said. The explosions lit up the sky as thick smoke covered the clouds in the West African nation, setting off frantic efforts to extinguish the fire as residents fled their homes for safety. People living in the area panicked, thinking the explosion was an armed attack, resident Oumar Mahamat said. Local media reported the blasts started just before midnight as nearby buildings shook and ammunition was thrown from the depot with explosive force. Authorities called on residents to stay out of the area, which was taken over by security forces gathering the scattered artillery shells. AP

DR Congo Says Five People Killed in Rebel Bombing of Eastern Town
At least five people, including three women and a girl, were killed in the bombardment of a town in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province on Wednesday, an army spokesperson said, accusing the M23 rebel group of the attack…Bombs hit a neighbourhood of Kanyabayonga town in the afternoon, said Mak Hazukay, an army spokesperson in Congo’s North Kivu province, where the insurgency broke out in early 2022…The conflict, the most sustained offensive by the M23 since a 2012-2013 insurrection, has deepened a humanitarian crisis in a region that has had little respite since Rwanda and Uganda invaded almost three decades ago. The latest attack happened just as some displaced people had started to return to Kanyabayonga, deputy mayor Baraka Mungumwa told Reuters. Reuters

Senegal’s President Faye to Visit France in First Trip outside Africa
Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye will travel to France this week in his first official visit outside of Africa, his office said on Tuesday, June 18. Faye, who was inaugurated on April 2, will take part in the Global Forum for Vaccine Sovereignty and Innovation, which aims to give Africa more sovereignty to address the many health crises it faces. He [was scheduled to] travel to the former colonial power on Wednesday, with the summit scheduled for Thursday. “At the end of this event, the Head of State will be invited to lunch by his French counterpart” Emmanuel Macron, Faye’s office said. Senegal and France have historically maintained strong political and economic relations. However, Faye, a left-wing pan-Africanist, has insisted such partnerships should be mutually beneficial. Le Monde with AFP