Africa Media Review for June 25, 2020

Eastern Libya Urges Egypt to Send Troops If Sirte Attacked
The speaker of Libya’s east-based parliament urged Egypt on Wednesday to make good on its threat to send troops to fight rival Turkey-backed western Libyan forces should they attack the strategic city of Sirte, Egypt’s state news agency reported. … Aguila Saleh, speaker of the east-based House of Representatives, was quoted by Egypt’s MENA news agency as saying that an Egyptian intervention in Libya would be “legitimate … if the terrorist and armed militias crossed the red line” determined by el-Sissi. … El-Sissi’s threat prompted Italy, Germany and the United States to push for a cease-fire, fearing an even wider war. Arab League foreign ministers also warned against a “continuation of military action that alters existing front lines” in Libya. AP

Terror Groups Are Adapting and Spreading, US Report Warns
The State Department’s annual terror assessment, released Wednesday, hailed “major strides” in Washington’s ongoing effort to curb terrorism. … “Despite these successes, dangerous terrorist threats persisted,” it concluded. … Perhaps nowhere, of late, have terror groups been more successful at taking advantage of conditions that allow terrorism to thrive than in Africa’s Sahel region, where according to State Department data, terrorist attacks have increased 250% since 2018. French-led efforts there have made a dent, most recently with a strike that killed the leader of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but sustained success has been harder to come by. The G5 Sahel Joint Force, which formed in 2017 and includes Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, “is not yet capable of disrupting the growing terrorist footprint,” the State Department report said. VOA

Monitor Says 1,650 Killed in Burkina Jihadist Attacks since 2015
Jihadist attacks in Burkina Faso have killed more than 1,650 civilians and soldiers over the past five years, a local monitoring group said on Wednesday. The armed forces were responsible for 588 civilian deaths, it said. Jihadists carried out “at least” 580 attacks between April 2015 and May 2020, targeting schools, town halls, police stations, the army and militias cooperating with the state, according to the Observatory for Democracy and Human Rights (ODDH). Of those attacks, more than 350 targeted civilians, killing over 1,200. “Numerous other incidents were reported in the media and on social media networks, which suggests that the total number of attacks committed during this period is likely to be much higher,” the ODDH said. AFP

Congo’s SMB Says 3 Dead in Attack on Its Tin Mine
Société Minière de Bisunzu (SMB) on Wednesday said three people were killed and three others were injured in a grenade attack on its tin mine in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday night. SMB’s mine near Rubaya, North Kivu province, has seen an increase in violent clashes between local artisanal miners and mine police. Earlier this month a United Nations experts report said tantalum-rich ore coltan produced on the SMB concession was being smuggled off the mine by diggers and sold elsewhere. Reuters

Congo Police Clash with Parliament Protesters with Tear Gas, Water Cannon
Democratic Republic of Congo police fired tear gas and water cannon on Wednesday to repel hundreds of protesters whose rally against a proposed new law threatened to spill into the parliament compound in the capital Kinshasa. Opponents say the reform, which would place prosecutors under the government’s authority rather than the courts, undermines the independence of the judiciary. On the second day of protests, crowds of mostly young men chanted and squared up to security forces on the streets around parliament, before being pushed back by armed officers in jeeps. The proposal was put forward by a member of ex-president Joseph Kabila’s PPRD party, but has faced opposition from the UDPS party of President Felix Tshisekedi. Tshisekedi took power last year, but his presidency has been hampered by an awkward power-sharing deal with Kabila, whose allies control a majority of ministries and seats in parliament. Africa News

Tanzanian Opposition Leader Zitto Kabwe Released on Bail
Tanzania opposition leader Zitto Kabwe has been freed on bail after he and several members of his party were arrested as they held an internal meeting in southern Kilwa district. “We welcome the release of Zitto Kabwe and fellow ACT Wazalendo members earlier today,” said Seif Sharif Hamad, the party’s chair. “We now call for the charges to be dropped completely. Yesterday’s arrests were unlawful and an attempt to disrupt the legitimate actions of a political party.” President John Magufuli, who is expected to run for a second term, dissolved parliament last week in advance of the election. The vote is scheduled for October, but the precise date has not yet been set. The dissolution came days after Freeman Mbowe – another opposition leader who has announced his intention to run against Magufuli – was allegedly beaten and hospitalised in what his Chadema party said was a “politically-motivated” attack. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia Poll Body Rejects Bid for Regional Vote amid Pandemic
Ethiopia’s poll body on Wednesday rejected a plan by the northern Tigray region to hold elections despite the coronavirus pandemic, as tensions mount between the region and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. Ethiopia was due to hold national elections in August, but the election board announced in March that they would have to be delayed because of the pandemic. Lawmakers earlier this month then approved a plan to let Abiy stay in office beyond his current mandate which expires in October, though the decision drew strong objections from the opposition. Some of the most vocal criticism came from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which governs the Tigray region. AFP

UNAMID Reports Clashes between Two Rebel Factions in Darfur’s Jebel Marra Area
Recent fighting between two rebel factions of the Sudan Liberation Army, Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLA-AW) in Jebel Marra area of Darfur has displaced thousands of civilians, said the hybrid peacekeeping mission on Wednesday. UNAMID said that the fighting erupted in the mountainous area on 11 June in Wegi village, 10 km north-east of UNAMID’s Golo temporary operating base in Central Darfur state.Since the eruption of the fighting “it is reported that thousands of people have been displaced from Wegi, Ila, Fara, Katiro and Daya villages. Both sides reportedly suffered an unknown number of casualties,” said the UNAMID. A verification team of the hybrid operation confirmed the clashes in Wegi village. The head of the hybrid operation Jeremiah Mamabolo condemned the fighting and the attacks on civilians and called to immediately stop fighting. Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s Armed Groups Head to Khartoum for Talks with Government Leaders
Sudan’s chief mediator Tut Gatluak and three negotiators representing the armed groups will fly to Khartoum on Thursday in a bid to narrow the gaps on the outstanding issues, Sudan Tribune has learnt on Wednesday. … The delegation, which will likely stay for two days, will discuss in detail the power-sharing at the national level and in the war-affected areas, the security arrangements in the Two Areas and Darfur and funds compensation and development projects in Darfur. …On Monday, the government rejected the proposal of the armed groups on the power-sharing at the national institutions as they claimed 4 seats at the Sovereign Council include a vice-chairman, 9 ministerial portfolios, federal 5 state ministers, and 140 seats in the transitional parliament. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan: Kiir Sets Up Committee to Resolve Jonglei Communal Violence
President Salva Kiir on Tuesday issued an order forming a 13-member committee with a mandate to resolve the ongoing intercommunal conflict in Jonglei state and Pibor Administrative Area. The Greater Jonglei region is plagued by recurring intercommunal tensions involving the Dinka, Nuer and Murle communities. The cycle of violence is often accompanied by cattle raids, child abductions and other revenge-inducing crimes. According to reports, armed men from Jonglei State have recently marched toward Murle villages in Pibor with intentions to launch attacks. Kiir has tasked the high-level committee to arrange for a consultative meeting with community elders from Jonglei and Pibor Administrative Area with the view to contain the security situation there. Radio Tamazuj

Who Hasn’t Heard of COVID-19 by Now? More than You Think
Monitors for the International Organization for Migration, the U.N. migration agency, interview people at the border in Somalia, a crossroads on one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes: across the Red Sea with traffickers, through war-ravaged Yemen and into rich Gulf countries. The questions for migrants are simple. Origin? Destination? Why are you going? But after the first infections were confirmed in Somalia, a new one was added: How many people in your group are aware of the coronavirus? In the week ending June 20, just over half – 51% – of the 3,471 people tracked said they had never heard of COVID-19. … The findings, little more than a line in the agency’s reports, are a reminder of the huge challenges in reaching everyone in the world with information about the pandemic, much less getting them to wear face masks. AP

All African Countries Now Have Coronavirus Lab Testing Capacity – WHO Chief
All African countries have now developed laboratory capacity to test for the coronavirus, the head of the World Health Organization said on Wednesday. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also warned that the pandemic was accelerating. “The most recent one million cases of COVID-19 were reported in just one week,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a virtual conference on COVID-19 vaccine development and access across the continent. The WHO chief added that over 220 vaccine candidates are currently being worked on and urged that a vaccine be “available and developed at an unprecedented scale.” The head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control called on countries to secure sufficient vaccine supplies to avoid Africa being left out. “Unless we act now Africa is at risk of being left behind in the global vaccine race,” John Nkengasong said. Reuters

Africa-Wide Trade Deal Will Push Ahead despite Coronavirus Wrath
An Africa-wide free-trade agreement is unlikely to face any further delays even if a second wave of coronavirus infections hits the region, according to the deal’s top official. … While the agreement entered into force legally last year, commerce due to have started on July 1 has been delayed as the pandemic set back negotiations to lay the foundation for trade in goods, including tariff concessions. When fully operational by 2030, it could be the world’s biggest free-trade zone by area, with a potential market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion. Mene said that the continent’s rapid and coordinated approach to tackling the virus and introducing lockdown measures, partly due to experience in curbing infectious diseases, stands it in good stead to develop public health measures. Al Jazeera/Bloomberg

Facebook Offers Digital Literacy Training in Africa
Facebook has launched a free programme designed to meet digital literacy needs across Africa in a bid to increase awareness on responsible online behaviour on its platforms. Dubbed My Digital World the platform, a fusion of all Facebook digital literacy programmes, is tailored to equip participants across sub-Saharan Africa with skills needed to navigate the digital world. My Digital World in partnership with iEARN Kenya, will support teachers by providing virtual sessions with the aim of equipping them with knowledge, skills and competencies necessary to guide their learners on how to navigate the digital world responsibly and safely. Facebook said in a press release that it was preparing to train close to 20,000 participants across Kenya, Ethiopia, Zambia, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire on safe, responsible and beneficial usage of the digital platforms. The East African

Dan Foster, the American-Born ‘Big Dawg’ of Nigerian Radio, Dies at 61
Dan Foster had a big voice, a love of giving away a light touch with a story. And when he arrived in Nigeria to work in radio in 2000, he found a public that was ready for him. The country’s airwaves had only recently emerged from state control, and Mr. Foster’s mix of plain talk, folksy humor and American swagger – calling himself the Big Dawg or the Top Dawg – made him a new kind of morning radio host, one of the most popular in the country. “It was the first time in Nigeria we had someone who sounded different from us, who brought that American flavor, brought stories and just changed the way everybody saw radio,” said Osikhena Dirisu, a morning host at The Beat, a station in the main city, Lagos. Mr. Foster died on June 17 at a hospital in Lagos a day after receiving a positive test result for the coronavirus, his wife, Lovina Okpara, told Nigerian media. He was 61. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones