Africa Media Review for June 23, 2020

Post-Nkurunziza Burundi: The Rise of the Generals
Barely two weeks after an election marked by government violence, intimidation, extrajudicial killings, and a media blackout, Burundians were shocked by news that longtime president, Pierre Nkurunziza, 55, had died. Rumors swirled about possible causes, with some saying he died of COVID-19 and others citing foul play. The government said he died of cardiac arrest. A succession crisis immediately ensued, exposing rifts in the ruling party and military. … The transition of power from Nkurunziza to Ndayishimiye may seem to many regional and international observers a quick and stabilizing solution to the sudden power vacuum created by Nkurunziza’s death. This overlooks the remaining sharp rivalries within the [ruling National Council for Defense of Democracy/Forces for the Defense of Democracy] CNDD-FDD, however, as well as the ongoing exclusion of nearly all independent voices, opposition parties, and civil society. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Malawi Votes in Historic Election Rerun
Polls opened in Malawi on Tuesday morning and voters have been casting their ballots following the annulment of last year’s presidential poll results. Crucially, today’s election differs from last year’s vote in that winner now needs to secure an absolute majority of 50% plus one vote, instead of being a first-past-post system. … The vote pits incumbent President Peter Mutharika against Lazarus Chakwera, who has the support of an opposition coalition, including the Malawi Congress Party and the United Transformation Movement. … In May 2019, Mutharika thought he was the victor by a slim margin when he gained 38.6% of the vote ahead of Chakwera with 35% and Vice President Saulos Chilima with 20%. However, Malawi’s Constitutional Court annulled those results in February 2020, ruling that the 2019 vote showed “grave,” “widespread” and “systematic” irregularities. … The Supreme Court subsequently upheld the Constitutional Court ruling, dismissing an appeal by the president and paving the way for Tuesday’s polls. DW

Ivory Coast Arrests Armed Group Leader behind Border Post Attack
Ivory Coast says it has arrested the leader of an armed group that last week carried out a deadly attack on a military post near the border with Burkina Faso. “The commander of the team who led the action was taken yesterday,” Minister of Defence Hamed Bakayoko said on Monday at a military camp in the main city of Abidjan. “We will go further as the investigation progresses. We will know who he was in contact with, who is behind it,” said Bakayoko without identifying the individual or giving further details about the capture. His comments came during a speech honouring the victims of the pre-dawn June 11 attack, when at least 10 soldiers were killed and six others wounded after dozens of fighters assaulted the post at Kafolo, on the northeastern border with Burkina Faso. Al Jazeera

Nobel Prize Laureates Call for Cameroon Ceasefire
The Global Campaign for Peace and Justice in Cameroon on Monday asked the African Union, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie to urge the government of Cameroon to call for a “COVID-19 ceasefire.” Seven of the group’s Nobel Prize laureates and former heads of states include 2018 laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege, former president of South Africa FW de Klerk and three former United States ambassadors to Cameroon. The declaration was made after the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for global ceasefire in countries in conflict to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. “It is one of the great neglected conflicts of our times,” said Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. DW

UN Orders Probe of Abuses in Libya since 2016
The UN Human Rights Council on Monday adopted a resolution ordering a “fact-finding mission” to Libya in order to document violations and abuses committed in the conflict-torn country since 2016. The United Nations’ top rights body adopted the resolution without a vote, “strongly (condemning) all acts of violence in Libya”, and urging UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet to “immediately establish and dispatch a fact-finding mission” to the country. Tamim Baiou, Libya’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said he hoped the resolution would show that “impunity will no longer be tolerated” in the country. The draft resolution was tabled in March by a group of African countries, but the UN’s top rights body was forced to suspend its main annual session for three months due to the coronavirus crisis, postponing a vote by the 47-member council until Monday. UN News

Burkina Faso: When the Soldiers Meant to Protect You instead Come to Kill
Market day was in full swing when soldiers sped into the northern town of Taouremba, firing in the air, as their drone buzzed overhead. They herded the men into the central marketplace, residents said, letting the women run home. A soldier began reading names from a tablet computer, and those who were called forward were told to strip, then tied up with their own clothes and thrown into a pickup truck. When some men tried to hide in the crowd, two informants in hoods and veils pointed them out. One man was shot on the spot. Later, according to accounts from witnesses and human rights advocates, the bodies of the 13 abducted villagers were dumped just outside of town. The New York Times

Kenyan Fathers Grapple with Their Sons’ Deaths in Police Custody
Two policemen came to Peter Njogu’s door with handcuffs. But instead of taking his son, Daniel, 20, and his friend Amos Ng’ang’a, 17, to the police station, they cuffed them and dragged them onto the unlit road and into the mob. In front of Destiny hair salon, the officers stepped back and let other neighborhood youths smash their heads with rocks, killing them as Njogu watched, helpless. … Death at the hands of police or in their custody happens at a far greater rate in Kenya than in any other African country, according to reports aggregated by human rights organizations. … Almost all the dead are young men in the slums, where residents say police operate with impunity because legal recourse is largely unavailable to the poor. The Washington Post

Former South Africa President Zuma Appears in Court for Resumed Graft Trial
South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma appeared in court on Tuesday to face multiple charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering, as a decade-old trial delayed by procedural bickering resumed. Zuma is being tried on 16 charges relating to a $2 billion arms deal with French defence firm Thales in 1999, when Zuma was deputy president. The charges were reinstated in March 2018, a month after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party kicked him out of office after a presidency marked by graft allegations and sovereign credit rating downgrades. Reuters

Suicide Bomber Kills 2 at Turkish Military Base in Somalia
A suicide bomber detonated inside a Turkish military training base in Somalia’s capital and killed two people, police said Tuesday. It was the first time the Turkish base in Mogadishu, Turkey’s largest overseas military base, has been attacked by the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group. The Somalia-based group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Radio al-Furqan, one of the group’s radio affiliates. Police Capt. Mohamed Hussein said the attack occurred as new military cadets were doing their morning drills. It was not immediately clear if any Turkish officers were killed. … Turkey has a significant presence in Somalia and operates one of a number of foreign military training operations in the Horn of Africa nation long destabilized by conflict. AP

France ‘Will Not Tolerate’ Turkey’s Role in Libya, Macron Says
France will not tolerate Turkey’s military intervention in Libya, President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, accusing Ankara of playing “a dangerous game.” Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the government based in Tripoli repel a year-long assault by eastern military leader Khalifa Haftar. “I have already had the opportunity to say very clearly to President (Tayyip) Erdogan, I consider that Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya today and going against all of its commitments made at the Berlin conference,” Macron said alongside his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied, referring to a peace meeting earlier this year. Reuters

Nigeria Summons Ghana Envoy over Embassy Demolition
Nigeria summoned a senior Ghanaian diplomat to complain over “attacks” on its embassy compound in Accra that saw a building demolished, the foreign minister said on Monday. “Summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the High Commission of Ghana to Nigeria, Ms Iva Denoo to demand urgent explanation on the recent attacks on a residential building in our diplomatic premises and reinforcement of security around diplomatic premises and staff,” Geoffrey Onyeama wrote on Twitter. Armed men reportedly entered the Nigerian High Commission compound in Ghana’s capital Accra on Friday to supervise bulldozers to demolish a building under construction. AFP

Amnesty Says Spyware Used to Monitor Critics in Morocco
Amnesty International said Monday that sophisticated telephone surveillance software appears to have been used to spy on a journalist-activist in Morocco, in a continuing crackdown on dissent in the North African kingdom. The global rights watchdog said the intrusion continued despite a pledge by the Israeli company behind the malware to abide by a set of human rights principles. In a report, Amnesty said forensic analysis it carried out on the cellphone of Omar Radi indicated that his communications were monitored from January 2019 using technology developed by Israeli hacker-for-hire company NSO Group. Radi gained prominence last year after he was arrested for a tweet that defended anti-government protesters. AP

Painting the Post-Pandemic World in Senegal
A group of mural artists in Senegal is painting its vision of how the world may look after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, whilst providing important information about how, in the meantime, to stay safe from the deadly virus. Ten muralists from the capital, Dakar, have been supported by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Union, to depict issues relating to social distancing, stigmatization and the fight against misinformation. Their messages are targeting young people and others in two of the city’s busiest neighborhoods. On 19 June, the West African country had 5,475 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 76 deaths. UN News



Photo: Adam Jones