Africa Media Review for June 25, 2024

How Africa’s Legislatures Can Improve Security
Legislatures play critical roles in democratic societies to set national priorities and oversee the effective implementation of government policies. This especially pertains to issues of security, which are among the most consequential responsibilities of any government. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies spoke with the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Right Honorable Dr. Abbas Tajudeen, to gain his insights on the role of legislatures in advancing security in Africa….Civilian, democratic control of the sector means that the ultimate authority on security issues and decisions rests solely with elected civilian representatives who draw their powers from the constitution and related statutes, [he said.] Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Kenya’s Ruto Bids Ceremonial Farewell to 400 Haiti-bound Police Due to Tackle Gangs
Kenya’s President William Ruto bid a ceremonial goodbye on Monday to some 400 police officers set to lead a UN-backed mission to tackle gang violence in Haiti, the presidency said…[O]fficials said over the weekend that a contingent would depart on Tuesday…A senior police official said the group will comprise elite officers from the Rapid Deployment Unit, General Service Unit, Administration Police, and Kenya Police…The deployment was approved by a UN Security Council resolution in October, only to be delayed by a Kenyan court decision in January. The court said Ruto’s administration had no authority to send officers abroad without a prior bilateral agreement. While the government secured that agreement with Haiti in March, a small opposition party, Thirdway Alliance Kenya, filed a fresh lawsuit in another attempt to block it. AFP

Protests Driven by Younger People Aim to Push Kenya to Scrap Tax Rises
Thousands of Kenyans took to the streets on Tuesday in a movement led by younger people that demonstrators hope will compel the government to scrap a finance bill that critics say would make life onerous for millions of people who are struggling to make ends meet…As thousands protested over the tax increases across the country last week, at least one person was killed and 200 others were injured, according to Amnesty International…Lawmakers in Parliament are set to debate and vote on proposed amendments to the bill on Tuesday. President William Ruto’s governing alliance has enough votes to pass it, although opposition leaders have rejected the measure in its totality. Once the bill has parliamentary approval, Mr. Ruto can sign it into law or send it back for amendments. As demonstrators packed the streets last week, lawmakers vowed to withdraw some taxes, including on bread, cooking oil and cars. But protesters have denounced other taxes, including on imported goods, and have urged the government to abandon the draft legislation. The New York Times

EU Adopts Sanctions against Six over Sudan Civil War
EU countries adopted sanctions against six people in Sudan on Monday over the war between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that has engulfed the country. The listings include a general commanding the RSF in West Darfur, who the EU Council said is responsible for committing atrocities, instigating ethnically motivated killings, sexual violence and the looting and burning of communities. They also include the RSF’s financial adviser, as well as a prominent tribal leader of the Mahamid clan affiliated with the RSF in West Darfur. On the side of the Sudanese army, sanctions target the director of Defense Industry Systems and the commander of the Sudanese Air Force for their responsibility in the “indiscriminate aerial bombing of densely populated residential areas”, the EU Council said. Reuters

Sudan: We Survive Together’: The Communal Kitchens Fighting Famine in Khartoum
Communal kitchens are assisting hundreds of thousands of people in Sudan’s embattled capital, Khartoum, providing regular meals as well as social and emotional support amid a deepening famine that international aid groups are failing to tackle. Run by neighbourhood-based mutual aid groups called emergency response rooms, the kitchens are struggling with crippling funding gaps, security threats, and communications and electricity blackouts, volunteers told The New Humanitarian…While volunteers are leading an aid response, the number of people depending on them is growing as people’s coping mechanisms are eroded, and as thousands return to the capital, fleeing attacks and suffering in the places they had fled to…Mutual aid groups established themselves across Sudan after the war erupted. They drew members from a vibrant pro-democracy movement, and brought ideas rooted in a rich heritage of social solidarity, best represented in the tradition of nafeer (“a call to mobilise”). The Greater Khartoum kitchens follow two different models. Under the takaya system, religious and community leaders feed people on the streets, in houses, or under trees; but there are also more structured kitchens run in defined spaces by the emergency response rooms…On top of food, they function as communal spaces where teachers run alternative education programmes and women organise cooperatives. The New Humanitarian

Year After Failed Mutiny, Russia Tightens Grip on Wagner Units in Africa
The Russian Ministry of Defense has taken control of Wagner’s mercenary arm in Africa and placed it under a bigger umbrella group, Africa Corps…About half of Africa Corps’ recruits are Wagner veterans, it said on its Telegram channel…But Africa Corps acts as an umbrella for Russia’s paramilitary activities on the continent — not just those of Wagner, but also of other private military companies…Wagner hasn’t disappeared altogether: Some of its operatives remain in the Central African Republic and Mali. Their close ties with local military, political and economic circles have made them hard to dislodge or too useful for Russia to get rid of, Western diplomats and analysts say. A new propaganda outlet, African Initiative, has also been created to promote the growing ties between Russia and African countries. It is supported by Russia’s intelligence services, according to the U.S. State Department…[A]buses against civilians have soared in the years since these militaries have called in Russian instructors, with Wagner mercenaries accused of mass killings and torture in Mali and rape and other crimes in the Central African Republic. The New York Times

International Court Unseals Arrest Warrant for Mali Suspect Accused of Crimes in Timbuktu in 2012
The International Criminal Court unsealed an arrest warrant Friday for a Malian accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the desert city of Timbuktu in 2012-13, where he is suspected of leading an al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist group. The warrant for Iyad Ag Ghaly, also known as Abou Fadl, was originally issued under seal in 2017. It charges him with crimes including murder, rape, sexual slavery and persecution of women and girls on gender grounds. It covers crimes in Timbuktu and an attack on a military base during which more than 40 Malian soldiers who were not taking part in hostilities were executed, including some who had surrendered and others who were in the base’s hospital, according to the French-language warrant. The court said in a statement that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that he would be the undisputed leader” of Ansar Dine, the extremist group which held power in northern Mali at the time. AP

Nigerian Farmers Abandon Farms after Attacks, Sending Food Prices Higher
[Deadly raids by armed gunmen] are forcing many farmers to leave their fields, contributing to higher food prices and soaring inflation as Nigeria faces the worst cost of living crisis in a generation…Armed gangs demand as much as three million naira per village, depending on the size, to allow farmers to work…Northern Nigeria produces the bulk of the country’s staples like rice, yam and maize, but it is also its most unstable region, as armed kidnapping gangs attack and pillage villages in the northwest while Islamist militants cause havoc in the northeast…A World Food Programme report on the outlook for acute food insecurity globally said Nigeria has joined the world’s “hunger hotspots”, which analysts attribute to insecurity in farming areas and high costs of seed, fertiliser, chemicals and diesel. Reuters

Embassy, NGO Rescue 24 Trafficked Nigerian Girls in Senegal
The combined operatives of the Nigerian Embassy and a Senegalese-based NGO have, in an overnight operation, rescued 24 Nigerian girls who were subjected to sexual exploitation in the Tamaccounda and Kedougou Regions of Senegal. The acting Ambassador of the Nigerian Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, Salihu Abubakar, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Dakar on Sunday. According to him, the girls, mostly under-aged, ranging between the ages of 11, 13 and 24, are being trafficked to Senegal through Cotonou, Republic of Benin, via the Mali to Senegal border for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Tamaccounda and Kedougou Regions…The envoy said that the successful repatriation of the girls to Nigeria was a clear indication of the strengthened international cooperation in combating human trafficking between the embassy and the Senegalese-based NGO, “Free the Slaves” (La Lumiere in French). News Agency of Nigeria

Zambia Wants SADC, AU to Mediate Deteriorating Relations with Zimbabwe
Zambia says it has called on two regional bodies — the African Union and Southern African Development Community — to mediate talks with neighboring Zimbabwe. Zambian officials say the diplomatic fallout with neighboring Zimbabwe stems from remarks that Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa shared with Russian President Vladimir Putin on a recent visit to Russia. Namely the accusation that the U.S. has been militarizing Zambia to consolidate power in the region and isolate Zimbabwe. In a televised speech in parliament Thursday, Zambia Foreign Minister Mulambo Haimbe rejected Mnangagwa’s statement as “an unwarranted attack on Zambia’s sovereignty”…Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema has denied that his country is being militarized by the U.S. He says Zambia’s army has exchange programs with a number of countries including the U.S., and that that should not be mistaken for the U.S. setting up a base in Zambia. VOA

It Was Meant to Be a Christian Utopia. Now This Nigerian Community Is Helpless against Rising Seas
The coastal Nigerian community of Ayetoro was founded decades ago and nicknamed “Happy City,” meant to be a Christian utopia that would be sinless and classless. But now its remaining residents can do little against the rising sea…Researchers studying satellite imagery of Nigeria’s coast say a number of things are contributing to Ayetoro’s disappearance. Underwater oil drilling is one reason, according to marine geologist Olusegun Dada, a professor at the Federal University of Technology in Akure who has studied years of satellite imagery. As resources are extracted, the ground can sink. But he and colleagues note other reasons, including the deforestation of mangroves that help anchor the earth and the erosion caused by ocean waves. AP

‘I Fear when We Stop, No One Will Replace Us’: Madagascar’s Forest Guardians – in Pictures
Community conservation groups are fighting to protect woodlands from illegal logging, farming and fires, but limited resources are a constant challenge and the task is getting ever more difficult…Conservation efforts are frequently hampered by the poor condition of many roads, with vehicles getting stuck in the mud, especially during the rainy season…Among the challenges they face is people coming into the forest to kill owls, snakes and chameleons, which are all associated with black magic in local folklore…A lack of resources and education opportunities can make conservation extremely challenging for the rangers. ‘Conservation groups need reports, but I never went to school … We lack phones too. Reaching the nearest town takes half a day by foot.’ says [Realy Tsitigna, one of the last four rangers]. ‘We were once seven rangers, but four are left. There are no new recruits. I fear when we stop, no one will replace us. Life is getting harder and support is non-existent, yet we stand on the frontline of this battle.’ The Guardian