Africa Media Review for June 21, 2022

Cycles of Escalating Threats Facing Africa from Global Warming
The complexities and layers of indirect factors driving global warming and its impacts on African populations can stymie decisive policy action. Understanding these linkages are key to mitigation efforts in which subtropical regions of Africa are projected to experience substantially higher increases in temperature than the global average. Even if global warming is capped at 1.5°C, for example, parts of North and southern Africa are expected to be 3°C warmer. While industrialized countries have been the key drivers of global warming, human-driven factors in Africa—like conflict, deforestation, and unregulated natural resource extraction—have further reduced resiliencies and compounded the threats for African citizens. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

More than 100 Civilians Killed in Mali Attacks: Gov’t
More than 100 civilians have been killed in attacks by suspected armed rebels in central Mali, the government has said. Members of the Katiba Macina armed group assaulted at least three villages in the rural commune of Bankass, in Mali’s central Mopti region, on the night between Saturday and Sunday, the government said in a statement on Monday. At least 132 civilians were killed and some of the perpetrators have been identified, it added. It said the civilians were “coldly killed by fighters of the Macina Katiba of Amadou Kouffa”, an organisation affiliated to al-Qaeda. The killings took place in Diallassagou and two nearby villages, Diaweli and Dessagou, in central Mali, which has long been mired in insecurity. “Investigators are on the spot today to find out exactly what happened,” Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of Bankass told The Associated Press news agency. Mali and the central Sahel region have for months faced a string of civilian massacres blamed on armed groups. The country has since 2012 been rocked by insecurity as groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have attacked civilians, plunging the country into crisis. Al Jazeera

East African Bloc to Deploy Standby Force to DRC but Stand-Off Between Kagame, Tshisekedi Remains
Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his counterpart in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, met in Nairobi in Kenya on Monday as the East African Community (EAC) resolved to send a force to the eastern part of the DRC to stabilise the region and “secure peace”. As part of the EAC block’s measures to calm simmering tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called the meeting, which the presidents of South Sudan, Burundi and Uganda also attended. Rwanda and the DRC are neighbours, but tension between them is on the rise. After the third “conclave”, as the EAC dubbed it, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni tweeted: “The problems affecting the region, like the crisis in Congo, need a collective approach from all regional members of the East African Community. We must insist on working together because these people have suffered a lot.” Since early May, Kagame and Tshisekedi have been trading counter-accusations, including allegations that each one of their governments was working with rebels to destabilise the other. While there’s no war, soldiers from the DRC and Rwanda have been found out of bounds in each other’s territories. There have also been killings and economic sanctions have been put in place. For one, Air Rwanda was banned from flying over DRC airspace, and last week, the DRC’s Security Council advised Tshisekedi to cut trade ties with Rwanda. Rwanda accused the United Nations of taking sides. News24

‘We Are Not Safe’: Ethiopians Flee Massacre That Killed Hundreds
For decades, the village had been a sanctuary for the families, who tilled the land and cared for their herds in Ethiopia’s largest region. But on Monday, two days after gunmen set upon the ethnic Amhara residents of Tole village in the Oromia region of Ethiopia — killing perhaps hundreds, injuring many others and laying waste to property — any sense of sanctuary had vanished. “We are not safe,” said Fikadu, a resident of the village who only gave his first name over fears for his safety. The rampage in Tole on Saturday shook Africa’s second-most-populous nation, where a surge of interethnic violence and a grueling civil war has left millions dead, displaced or in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Fikadu fled from the massacre scene to the nearby town of Gimbi, where he said dozens of injured people from the village had been brought to receive medical assistance. He blamed an outlawed militant group, the Oromo Liberation Army, for the attack. There has been no official confirmation of the number of casualties yet, but witnesses and reports put it at 200 people or more. Yilkal Kefale, president of the neighboring Amhara regional state, also attributed the attack to the militants, who are known as the O.L.A., according to the regional state media. And Daniel Bekele, head of the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, said the militants’ offensive on Saturday had resulted in “severe civilian casualties, injuries and damage to property.” New York Times

Fifty Days to D-Day: The Men Vying to Become Kenya’s Next President
On August 9, Kenyans head to the polls to elect their next president. Currently, there are four candidates angling to succeed incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is constitutionally barred from continuing in office after serving two five-year terms. On June 6, the country’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IBEC) concluded its vetting process and whittled down the number of contestants from 55 to four. Some of those disqualified include popular lawmaker Ekuru Aukot and independent candidate Jeremiah Nyagah. The two main challengers remain opposition leader Raila Odinga, for whom Kenyatta has publicly declared his support, and William Ruto, the president’s deputy. Al Jazeera

Kenya Records Fewer Youth for High-Stakes August Polls
The number of young voters registered for Kenya’s August elections has dropped since the last poll five years ago, the election commission announced Monday, pointing to apathy among a youth disenchanted by economic hardship and widespread corruption. This is despite the total number of people who have signed up to cast their ballots increasing by more than 12 percent, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said after an audit of the voters’ roll. There will be 22.1 million voters on the register — often seen as a key point at which an election can be rigged — up from 19.6 million five years ago. “The number of youth registered to vote in 2022 stands at 39.84 percent which is a decline of 5.27 percent against 2017,” IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said. Under-35s account for three-quarters of Kenya’s population of about 50 million, according to government figures. Women were “still under-represented” in the voter register with their number accounting for 49 percent of the total, Chebukati said. AfricaNews

Kenya Reinstates Mask Mandate Indoors
Kenya has reinstated mandatory mask-wearing in indoor public spaces including public service vehicles and flights to tame the spread of Covid-19. People are also required to wear masks in offices, supermarkets and places of worship, Health minister Mutahi Kagwe announced on Monday. He said the number of infections is “worryingly high” and if the trajectory continues, the elections might be affected, without explaining how. Kenya will hold general elections on August 9. The country has recorded a positivity rate of 12.6 percent on Monday, the highest in four months. Some 252 people tested positive from a sample of 1,993 in the last 24 hours, the Health ministry said. One patient is currently in the intensive care unit on ventilator support. Of the 75 admitted to hospitals, 11 are on supplemental oxygen. Around 3,081 patients are in home-based care. East African

Commonwealth Meeting Finally Kicks Off in Kigali
After being twice postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Rwanda is finally hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali this week from June 20th to 26th. Preceded by several forums, the official opening of CHOGM 2022 takes place on June 24th, followed by the main high-level meetings of Heads of Government on Friday and Saturday. The youth forum kicked off on Sunday with over 350 young people from across the Commonwealth participating in the three-day gathering under the theme ‘Taking Charge of our Future.’  On Monday, Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame officially opened the Commonwealth Women’s Forum themed “Delivering a Common Future: Transforming Gender Equality.” “The 2022 Kigali CHOGM Women’s Forum does not just occur in a country that consistently pushes for the emergence and recognition of women in leadership. It occurs in a country where rape was used barely three decades ago as a weapon of war. Today, Rwanda is ranked by the World Economic Forum as the seventh country in the world for closing the gender gap,” Mrs Kagame said, adding that the role played by women in peace building has been the cornerstone of Rwanda’s development…At the end of the meeting, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is expected to take over from UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the chair of the Commonwealth for the next two years. East African

Nigeria’s Ruling Party Wins Key Local Election
Nigeria’s ruling party has won a key governorship election in the bellwether state of Ekiti, the country’s electoral commission said Sunday. Ekiti, in southwest Nigeria, is among eight of 36 states where governorship elections are not being held at the same time as the rest of the country because of legal challenges to previous results. It is also considered a swing state, key to winning next year’s presidential elections in the multi-ethnic West African country of some 200 million people. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) won the most votes out of 988,923 registered voters. “Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji of APC, having satisfied the requirements of the law, is hereby declared winner,” INEC official Kayode Oyebode Adebowale said at a press conference. Oyebanji won with 187,057 votes, largely ahead of his two main opponents Segun Oni of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who came in second with 82,211 votes and Otunba Bisi Kolawole of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who got 67,457 votes. AFP

Nigeria: British Commission Worries over Vote Buying, Selling in Ekiti Poll, Seeks Probe
The British High Commission, yesterday, expressed concern over reports of vote buying during Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti State. Stressing that the development has no place in a democracy, it called on authorities to investigate and bring perpetrators to justice. The Commission, however, commended “improvements in the electoral process including the timely opening of polls, better functioning of the Biometric Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) devices for accrediting voters, and the transparent and efficient electronic transmission of polling unit results to INEC’s results viewing portal.” Guardian Nigeria

EU Adds West African Jihadists to Sanctions Blacklist
The European Union on Monday added three al-Qaeda-linked jihadist commanders in West Africa to its terrorist sanctions blacklist for attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso. The new asset freezes and visa bans target Sidan Ag-Hitta and Salem ould Breihmatt, senior commanders within the UN-listed Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin (JNIM) in Mali, as well as its Burkinabe branch Ansarul Islam and its leader Jafar Dicko. “The sanctioned group and individuals are responsible for several terrorist attacks, including against civilians, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali and defence and security forces in Burkina Faso,” the EU said. “Their activities contribute to the expansion of the terrorist threat in Western Africa and therefore pose a serious and continued threat to the EU and to regional and international stability.” The move takes to 13 people and four groups the number of targets now on the EU’s blacklist against Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group. AFP

Tunisian President Receives First Draft of New Constitution
Tunisian president Kais Saied received on Monday the first of draft of the new Constitution. Under his own timeline, Saied has until June 30 to approve or edit the draft constitution, less than a month ahead of the referendum planned for Juy 25th. “The conditions (for drafting the Constitution, ed) were difficult because of the short time we had at our disposal. But we managed, thanks to everyone’s efforts, to submit this first version of the Constitution. We hope that this will satisfy Mr President (Kais Saied, ed)”, said Sadok Belaïd, coordinator of the “National Consultative Commission for a New Republic” charged with drafting the new document. The planned referendum marks one year since the power grab by Kais Saied that saw him sack the government and suspend an elected parliament. The President wants to replace the current constitution, the product of a hard-won 2014 compromise between bitter political rivals, but which enshrined a mixed parliamentary-presidential system that often produced political deadlock. The revised constitution is at the centre of Saied’s programme for rebuilding Tunisia’s political system, more than a decade after the revolution that sparked the Arab Spring uprisings. Islamist party Ennahdha and other opposition forces were excluded from Saied’s “national dialogue” and have fiercely criticised his roadmap, accusing the President of wanting to impose a constitution tailor-made for his own ambitions. AfricaNews

UN Says Libya’s Rivals Fail to Reach Deal in Election Talks
Rival Libyan factions failed to reach an agreement after wrapping up a third round of U.N.-mediated talks in Egypt, the United Nations said Monday, further complicating international efforts to find a way out of the country’s decade-old chaos. According to the U.N. special adviser on Libya, Stephanie Williams, lawmakers from Libya’s east-based parliament and the High Council of State, based in the capital of Tripoli in the country’s west, concluded their final round of negotiations on constitutional amendments for elections late Sunday in Cairo without a breakthrough. The talks, which stared on June 12, had sought to establish a constitutional framework for elections in Libya, but the two sides failed to agree on “the measures governing the transitional period” leading to the vote, William said in a statement. She called on Aguila Saleh, the influential parliament speaker, and Khaled al-Meshri, head of the Tripoli-based council to convene within 10 days to try and bridge the gaps between the two sides. She did not elaborate. AP

‘Jackpot’ Oil Discoveries May Help Namibia Double GDP by 2040
Namibia expects its biggest oil discoveries since independence to help double its economy by 2040, Jennifer Comalie, chairperson of National Petroleum Corp. of Namibia, said in a Bloomberg TV interview. TotalEnergies in February said it had made a “significant” oil discovery off the coast of Namibia, three weeks after Shell announced a find off the southwest African nation. Explorers have drilled more than a dozen exploration wells in search of oil and gas. Consultants Woo Mackenzie estimated the combined recoverable finds at almost 4 billion barrels. “More than 30 years of exploration and we finally we hit the jackpot,” Comalie said in the interview at the sidelines of the Qatar Economic Forum on Tuesday, without giving a timeline for production. “At peak, these two discoveries could bring $5.6 billion to a very small economy.” TotalEnergies and Shell executives have warned that the discoveries still await an appraisal stage to accurately determine their size. The $11-billion economy is banking on the discoveries to boost its budget and create more jobs in a nation with one of the world’s largest unemployment rates. With countries and companies pledging to hit their net zero targets around 2050, Namibia has about a decade to develop and make the most of the recent finds. Bloomberg News

Zimbabwe Healthcare Workers Strike over Wages, Inflation Crisis
Zimbabwean healthcare workers have gone on strike to compel the government to pay salaries in US dollars as spiralling inflation has eroded the purchasing power of their take-home pay. The country’s nurses, doctors, pharmacists, radiologists and other medical professionals did not turn up for work on Monday in an action that strike organisers described as a huge “success.” Striking workers held placards and danced outside Zimbabwe’s main hospitals, such as Parirenyatwa in the capital Harare, which is one of the country’s largest referral hospitals, and Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, also in the capital, demanding better salaries. Dr Tapiwanashe Kusotera, the leader of Health Apex, a body representing all unions in the healthcare sector, described the strike as a “good first day”, which was marked by strong support for the strike across the country. “Our first goal has been achieved already,” Kusotera told Al Jazeera in a telephone interview. “We have been invited for a meeting by the Health Services Board and the ministry. This had not happened in the last 14 months,” he said. Al Jazeera

Belgium to Return Patrice Lumumba’s Tooth to DR Congo
Congo’s first prime minister, Patrice Emery Lumumba, will finally have a burial in the Democratic Republic of Congo — 61 years after his assassination — as Belgium returns to the family of the Congolese independence hero his remains, a tooth which was removed on January 17, 1961, the day the former leader was assassinated. A strong delegation of Lumumba’s family and Congolese authorities, led by Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde, is in Brussels for this event, which is considered the official mourning of independent Congo’s first prime minister. The former Congolese leader was shot in Katanga in the south of the DRC with two of his ministers who had remained loyal to him. His body was never found. Investigations in Belgium many years later revealed that his body had been cut up and dissolved in acid. East African

Africa ‘Taken Hostage’ by Russia’s Invasion, Zelenskyy Says
“Africa is actually taken hostage” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine amid catastrophically rising food prices, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the African Union continental body during a closed-door address on Monday. It took weeks of requests for Zelenskyy to address African nations, many of whom retain close ties to Russia and failed to support a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the invasion earlier this year. Ukraine and the West hope to weaken those ties by emphasizing that Russia’s actions are to blame for dramatic shortages of wheat and edible oils and skyrocketing food and fuel prices across the African continent of 1.3 billion people. Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian exports is a “war crime,” the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said on Monday. “They are trying to use you and the suffering of the people to put pressure on the democracies that have imposed sanctions on Russia,” Zelenskyy told the AU, whose leaders recently met in Russia with President Vladimir Putin and echoed Moscow’s assertion that Western sanctions are in part to blame for the food security crisis. They appealed to other countries to ensure grain and fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine aren’t blocked. AP

 



Photo: Adam Jones