Africa Media Review for June 26, 2024

Anti-Tax Riots Rock Kenya, as President Vows Crackdown on ‘Treasonous’ Protesters
Thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, and some broke into Parliament and briefly set fire to the entrance on Tuesday, after lawmakers approved tax increases that critics said would drive up the cost of living for millions. During the protests, the police fired tear gas and guns, plunging the capital into turmoil. [Several people] were fatally shot and [many] others injured, according to Amnesty International and several prominent Kenyan civic organizations…As tear gas wafted through the streets, some protesters climbed through the windows of Parliament after lawmakers voted 195 to 106 in favor of the tax bill on Tuesday, with supporters saying it would raise revenue for education and other essential services. The New York Times

Kenyan Protesters Promise More Rallies
Kenyan protesters vowed on Wednesday to keep up their demonstrations against new tax hikes, a day after police opened fire on crowds trying to storm parliament, leaving at least eight people dead and scores wounded. As heavily armed officers patrolled the streets of the capital Nairobi, supporters of the week-old protest movement took to X, using the hashtag #tutanethursday, or “see you on Thursday” in a mix of Swahili and English…Last week, protesters had circulated a schedule that called for the occupation of parliament on Tuesday and the occupation of State House, the president’s office and residence, on Thursday…Protesters say they want the whole bill scrapped, and many are now demanding that Ruto resign. Reuters

Haiti PM Vows to Retake Country as First Kenyan Police Arrive
The first contingent of Kenyan police arrived in the Haitian capital on Tuesday to launch a long-awaited peacekeeping mission in the Caribbean country that has been ravaged by gang violence, even as deadly protests back home prompted doubts…The mission was first requested by Haiti’s previous government in 2022. But support sagged and Conille’s predecessor was forced to resign in early March after traveling to Nairobi to secure Kenyan support while violence escalated back in Haiti. The gang wars have now displaced over half a million people and nearly five million are facing severe food insecurity…The Kenyan police are expected to be joined by officers from some 15 other nations, including other countries in Africa and the Caribbean, as well as Canada, France, Germany, Britain and Spain. All together, the security forces will form a 2,500-strong peacekeeping mission funded primarily by the United States which has pledged $360 million, though much of this has been held up by some lawmakers. Reuters

Expanding Extremist Groups in Africa Fuel Worries that They Could Attack the US or Western Allies
“Threats like Wagner, terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations continue to sow instability in multiple regions,” Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in opening remarks Tuesday at a conference of African chiefs of defense in Botswana. “I think we can all agree, what happens in one part of the world, does not stay in one part of the world”…This is the first time that the chiefs of defense conference has been held on African soil. And it is the first time the U.S. joint chiefs chairman has visited a sub-Saharan country since 1994, when Gen. John Shalikashvili visited Rwanda and Zaire…[Gen. Michael Langley, head of U.S. Africa Command] met with Niger’s top military chief, Brig. Gen. Moussa Salaou Barmou, during the conference, and said military-to-military communications continue but that it’s yet to be determined how much the new transitional government will deal with the U.S…Both Langley and Brown spoke more extensively about the need for the U.S. and African nations to communicate more effectively and work together to solve security and other problems. And Brown acknowledged that the U.S. needs to “do better at understanding the perspectives of others, ensuring their voices and expertise don’t get drowned out.” AP

ICC Convicts Al-Qaida-linked Leader of Atrocities in Mali
The International Criminal Court has convicted an al-Qaida-linked Islamic extremist leader of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Mali’s Timbuktu. Al Hassan Ag Abdoul Aziz Ag Mohamed Ag Mahmoud was accused of playing a key role in a reign of terror unleashed by insurgents on the historic desert city in northern Mali in 2012. He was accused of involvement in crimes including rape, torture, persecution, enforced marriages and sexual slavery. Prosecutors say he was a key member of Ansar Dine, an Islamic extremist group with links to al-Qaida that held power in northern Mali at the time. Al Hassan faces up to life imprisonment when a sentence is handed down at a later date. Prosecutors say he was a key member of Ansar Dine, an Islamic extremist group with links to al-Qaida that held power in northern Mali at the time. AP

RSF Continued Shelling in El-Fasher Kills Civilians, Targets Another Hospital
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) intensified its assault on El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, killing at least five civilians in artillery shelling on the Abu Shouk displacement camp. The RSF also targeted Iqra Hospital, further crippling the city’s healthcare system. This latest attack follows a two-month siege and relentless shelling campaign by the RSF, which began in mid-May and has displaced thousands…This sustained assault has severely disrupted healthcare services, endangering lives and causing environmental damage…The health sector in El-Fasher is nearing collapse as the RSF continues to target medical facilities. The southern hospital in El-Fasher and the Saudi Hospital have also been attacked, further exacerbating the crisis. Sudan Tribune

UNHCR Calls for Urgent Support for Sudanese Refugees in Chad
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is calling for urgent international support as the humanitarian crisis in eastern Chad reaches a critical point. This immediate calls for action follows the increasing numbers of Sudanese refugees in border areas, rising health concerns, escalating security incidents and the impending rainy season. Since April 2023, the conflict in Sudan has reportedly forced over 600,000 refugees and 180,000 Chadian returnees, the vast majority of them women and children, to flee into Chad, with more than 115,000 arriving since the start of 2024. This influx shows no signs of abating, with an average of 630 people crossing the Adre border each day over the last month…Overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in Adre have led to a severe health crisis, with over 1,200 cases of Hepatitis E reported, including three fatalities. The impending rainy season, expected between June and September, threatens to exacerbate this crisis, potentially leading to outbreaks of waterborne diseases and impeding humanitarian access. Sudan Tribune

Urgent Plea to Aid Sudanese Refugees in Ethiopia and Uganda
The No to Women’s Oppression initiative has launched an urgent humanitarian appeal to the international community to resolve the crisis of Sudanese refugees stranded in the Kumer and Ulala camps in the forests of Ethiopia, while Sudanese refugees in Uganda’s Kiryandongo camp called for improved living conditions and support from Tagadom. In a statement published yesterday, the initiative called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Ethiopian authorities to evacuate all refugees to safe camps and provide them with essential resources. The statement documented testimonies from activists in the camps, confirming that refugees had died due to a lack of medical care…Sudanese refugees in the Kiryandongo camp in Uganda have called on the Civic Democratic Forces alliance (Tagadom) to provide them with survival means, enhance safety measures, and offer psychological support at the camp. They highlighted the lack of food aid, which has led to malnutrition, the scarcity of basic health services, and the lack of clean drinking water. Radio Dabanga

South Sudan Revenge Attack Sparked by Cattle Raid Kills 17
A revenge attack triggered by a cattle raid earlier this month has killed at least 17 people in northern South Sudan and forced oil workers to evacuate from the Toma South oil field, a local official said on Monday. Cattle raiding linked to competition for scarce resources is one of the main triggers of conflict between ethnic groups in South Sudan, which is awash with weapons after decades of war. The fighting began on Saturday in a Khat Elnar village in the Ruweng Administrative Area, where government officials were trying to resolve issues over a previous cattle raid, said James Arop Ayuel, a local government spokesperson. The violence spread to the Toma South oil fields, which are managed by Greater Pioneer Operating Company (GPOC), where a facility was attacked and looted, Ayuel said. “We are calling for the government of South Sudan to bring forces so that they protect the oil fields because this is a national issue,” Ayuel said. Reuters

Migration of 6m Antelope in South Sudan Dwarfs Previous Records for World’s Biggest, Aerial Study Reveals
An extensive aerial survey in South Sudan has revealed an enormous migration of 6 million antelope – the largest migration of land mammals anywhere on Earth….The animals across the region have endured despite decades of civil war and instability in South Sudan…South Sudan isn’t considered safe for international tourism, but such a vast wildlife spectacle means “the potential for tourism is immense”, says [David Simpson, wildlife NGO African Parks’ park manager for Boma and Badingilo national parks, which the migration moves between and around.]. “Having the world’s largest land mammal migration could put South Sudan on the map as a must-visit ecotourism destination. But the migration’s current critical value is food security for local communities.” The Guardian

South Africa: New MPs – Impeached Judge Hlophe, Other MK Party Members and ANC’S Kodwa Sworn In
Dr John Hlophe, the former Western Cape Judge President who was impeached for gross misconduct, has been sworn in as a Member of Parliament. Hlophe will lead former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party in the National Assembly, marking a significant and contentious moment in the country’s legislative history. Joining Hlophe in Parliament are several notable figures, including Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla, daughter of Jacob Zuma, and Andile Mngxitama, both of whom are known for their strong loyalty to Zuma. Also sworn in was Des Van Rooyen, infamously nicknamed “weekend special” after his brief stint as Finance Minister during Zuma’s presidency, a tenure that lasted only a few days before being rescinded amid public outcry. Hlophe emphasised that former President Zuma remains the leader of the MK party, while he will head the party’s activities in Parliament. Daily Maverick

South Africa: Life and Death Issue’ — Health Lab Service Shuts down Test Results Communication System after Cyberattack
Senior doctors working in the public health system have called for urgent interventions to speed up medical testing after the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) had to shut down its communication system because of a cyberattack. Clinicians have raised serious concerns that they are now unable to timeously access their patients’ test results and can’t discharge patients without those results…[NHLS CEO Professor Koleka Mlisana] said that after Saturday there were more cyberattacks on the system, but they were blocked by an additional layer of security that had been built in…“There is a high likelihood of deaths of severely ill patients if their doctors cannot access the precise data in test results in a timely manner on the causes or degree of illness, nor can they monitor the level or cause of any deterioration in many settings,” said [Dr Aslam Dasoo from the Progressive Health Forum (PHF)]. Daily Maverick

Warnings over Lethal and Contagious Strain of Mpox as Children in DRC Die
A dangerous strain of mpox that is killing children and causing miscarriages in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most transmissible yet and could spread internationally, scientists have warned. The virus appears to be spreading from person to person via both sexual and non-sexual contact, in places ranging from brothels to schools. Hundreds of people with the disease, formerly known as monkeypox, have attended hospital in the mining town of Kamituga, South Kivu province, in what is likely to be the “tip of the iceberg” of a larger outbreak, doctors say. Mpox is a virus from the same family as smallpox, and causes flu-like symptoms and pus-filled lesions…South Kivu is on the border with Burundi and Rwanda and close to Uganda, and there is frequent cross-border travel by local people. [Trudie Lang, professor of global health research at Oxford University] said it was unclear how many asymptomatic or mild cases there were, with the long incubation time of the virus increasing the risk of transmission before people realised they were sick. The Guardian

Congolese President Visits Moscow in Bid to Deepen Ties
The trip by Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso comes less than a month after Russia’s foreign affairs minister Sergei Lavrov made a stop in the central African country. Sassou Nguesso is expected to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladmir Putin. The two leaders will hold discussions on the economy, trade, energy as well as security cooperation. This is Sassou Nguesso’s second trip to Russia in less than a year. Last July, he traveled to Saint Petersburg to attend the Russia-Africa summit. Brazaville is one of Moscow’s staunchest allies in Africa. Russian companies maintain a presence in the country’s oil, mining and military sector. Africanews