Africa Media Review for June 27, 2022

Why the EAC Regional Force Is Yet to Be Deployed to DR Congo
Slightly over two weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s proposal to deploy the East African Standby Force (EASF) to the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, there are no boots on the ground. The proposal was endorsed by regional leaders at the third EAC Heads of State Conclave on peace and security in eastern DRC in Nairobi on June 20. But if the reaction inside DR Congo is anything to go by, it could take even longer or not happen at all.  The EASF is expected to face off with several armed militias and M23 rebels who have intensified attacks on civilians in the last few months, killing tens and displacing thousands. But however noble President Kenyatta’s deployment proposal, not everyone in the DRC agrees with the regional leaders’ decision of a military solution to stabilise the restive eastern DRC provinces. The proposal has been received with mistrust and even rejection by a large section of politicians, civil society and even the public, who are particularly wary of the possibility of having Rwandan troops in the contingent. Kinshasa had already objected to having Rwanda contribute troops during the third Conclave in Nairobi.  In a swift reaction, on June 20, the 10-year-old North Kivu-based citizen’s movement and civil society group Lucha (Struggle for Change) wrote to President Félix Tshisekedi, opposing the deployment saying it could pose an operational problem in an area with more than 100 local and foreign armed groups, the Congolese army, UN peacekeepers and the Ugandan army. East African

Separatist Forces Getting Away with Serious Abuses in Anglophone Cameroon – Human Rights Watch
There are concerns that separatist leaders in English-speaking areas of Cameroon might be losing control of their forces, as grave human rights violations are on the rise, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its latest report. The separatists, according to the report, also don’t fear the possibility of being held accountable by Cameroon’s security forces…After compiling its report, HRW shared its findings with key separatist groups operating in anglophone Cameroon provinces, but most didn’t bother to respond. The organisation contacted three leaders of the major separatist groups: the spokesperson and vice-president of the Ambazonia Interim Government (Sako), Christopher Anu and Dabney Yerima; the defence chief of the Ambazonia Defence Forces (ADF), Capo Daniel; and the chairperson of the African People’s Liberation Movement (APLM), Ebenezer Derek Mbongo Akwanga. Only Daniel is said to have responded…According to the United Nations, the six major grave violations are: killing and maiming of children; recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups; sexual violence against children; attacks against schools or hospitals; abduction of children; and denial of humanitarian access for children. The HRW report highlights that, since January this year, “armed separatist fighters have killed at least seven people, injured six others, raped a girl.” News24

Salary Protests, Demos Calling for the June 30 ‘Intifada’ Continue in Sudan
Resistance committees and various political and professional opposition groups continue their preparations for the launch of the June 30 Marches of the Millions, calling for the overthrow of the military rulers of the country. Protests calling for the implementation of the 2022 revised salary schedule continue in Red Sea state. The resistance committees active in the neighbourhoods and villages in the country continue to run parades and vigils to call for mass participation in the intifada Marches of the Millions coming Thursday calling for “full civilian rule.” Earlier Radio Dabanga reported that the Association of Sudanese Abroad urged people planning to travel “to adjust their travel conditions to and from Sudan before June 30, the date of the popular uprising that the country has not witnessed before.” The Association warned that “the air, sea and land borders will be closed by order of the people, meaning whoever is inside remains inside, and whoever is abroad remains abroad.” The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD) stressed its “full readiness to treat protesters on the 30th of June in field aid teams and hospital emergency wards” in a statement yesterday. The doctors as well called on their colleagues to urgently help setting up strike committees for June 30. The statement said that the June 30 demonstrations coincide with a campaign calling for criminalising the use of violence against protesters and the banning of shotguns. The CCSD also stated that they are working on the formation of committees and elected union bodies to complete the re-establishment of a Sudan Doctors Union. Dabanga

Sudan Accuses Ethiopia of Executing Sudanese Soldiers
Sudan’s military has accused the Ethiopian army of executing seven Sudanese soldiers and a civilian who were captives. In a statement on Sunday, the Sudanese military also accused the Ethiopian army of displaying the bodies of those executed to the public and promised that there would be “an appropriate response.” “This treacherous act will not pass without a response,” it said. There was no immediate response from Ethiopian authorities to a request for comment. Tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia have run high in recent years because of a spillover of the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region and Ethiopia’s construction of a giant hydropower dam on the Blue Nile. Tens of thousands of refugees have fled into eastern Sudan, and there have been military skirmishes in an area of contested farmland along the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. Al Jazeera

Sudanese Women Demonstrate in Support of Civilian Rule
Hundreds of Sudanese women, dressed in white Toub, women’s national dress, Saturday took to the street in Omdurman city calling for an end to excessive violence against protesters and the restoration of a civil rule. The women’s rally was organised by the pro-democracy Kandakat,(Nubian queens) group with the participation of over 20 women’s organizations including mothers of martyrs, gender groups, lawyers, doctors, as well as political parties. The demonstrators chanted slogans hostile to the military coup such as “The Revolution is the revolution of the people, the authority is for the people, and the military have to go back to the barracks.” Also, they chanted slogans reminding women’s role in the December revolution  “O Girls, stay steady. The revolution is a girls’ revolution”. Despite several cases of sexual assaults and rape by the security forces on detained female protesters, Sudanese women continue to participate in the anti-coup demonstrations organized by the neighbourhood committee in Khartoum state. A member of the Lawyers Without Borders group, Iqbal Ahmed Ali, told the Sudan Tribune; that the White Toub demonstration was organized in order to stop the bloody violence against the anti-coup protesters, especially after the increasing use of the cartridge weapon. “The demonstration is a message to the security forces and the police to stop killing of the Sudanese people, but also to advertise for the June 30 protest,” she further said. Activists and political parties launched since a week a campaign calling to demonstrate on June 30 against the military coup of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: The Darfur Bar Association: Russian Wagner Mercenaries in South Darfur After Attacks on Gold Miners
The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) has confirmed the presence of Russian ‘Wagner’ mercenaries in South Darfur, which it claims to have documented ‘since last year’. The mercenaries are specifically accused of attacks on artisanal gold miners in Um Dafug locality, close to the border with the Central African Republic (CAR). In a statement on Friday, the DBA says that it has documented pictures of mercenaries in cafes and in the streets and valleys of Um Dafug, and has heard testimony from relatives of people in South Darfur who were allegedly killed by Wagner mercenary elements in the border areas with CAR. In its statement, the DBA places moral responsibility on “everyone involved in granting concessions to companies and the Rapid Support Forces for gold mining in the Sengo area in exchange for a share supplied in the Central Bank of Sudan” for their “allowing companies to exploit the wealth of the area’s residents without their participation.” The DBA cites as an example the exploitation of the gold of the Sengo area “under the cover of obtaining the concession and supplying the state’s share to the Central Bank. The RSF, commanded by Deputy Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo, has long been associated with the control of gold mining in Darfur. The RSF has built up a vast business empire that captures not only a large part of the country’s gold industry, but has huge interests in many sectors of the Sudanese economy. The anti-corruption NGO Global Witness published a report in 2019 about the financial networks behind the RSF. According to political analyst Magdi El Gizouli, Hemeti’s visit to Russia in March this year was “arranged by the Russian Wagner mercenaries in order to find a way out for their ally in Sudan, and to ensure his continuation in power so that they can continue to plunder the country’s resources.” Dabanga

‘This Is Going to Cause Chaos in South Africa’: Fears Expressed over Zimbabwe Extension Permit Cancellation
Zimbabwean expatriates are scrambling to apply for a visa to continue living in South Africa after their Zimbabwe Extension Permits (ZEP) expired in December. If they are unsuccessful, in some cases, an entire generation of children will be forced to relocate with their parents to a country they may never even have visited. However, according to Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza, the agent VFS Global has only received 2 301 visa applications and 3 014 waiver applications from the exemption holders. A special team at the department is still working through these for final approval. According to the records of the department, a total number of 178 412 Zimbabwean nationals were granted exemptions. “It must however be noted that some of them did not renew their permits, and as such they lapsed. While others either migrated to other visas or left the country,” said Qoza. In November 2021, the department announced that the ZEP would not be extended again, and all holders of this special permit had until 31 December 2021 to apply for a visa to stay in South Africa. The ZEP cancellation and requirement to apply for a new visa aligns with the department’s review of all visas issued from as far back as 2004, but Zimbabweans are the only ones who have to reapply for a visa at the moment. This appears to contradict the White Paper on International Migration, which painstakingly sets out the democratic South African government’s commitment to undo the apartheid-era’s preference for white immigrants, and restricting permits to black migrants who were contributing to the country’s cheap labour pool of mine and farm workers.  News24

Burkina Faso: 14 Days to Evacuate Before Vast Army Operation
Burkina Faso’s army has given civilians two weeks to evacuate vast areas in northern and southeastern regions of the country in advance of military operations against rebel fighters. The military evacuation order follows after a major attack by rebels on June 11 that left at least 100 civilians dead and displaced thousands more. The West African country’s army this week ordered civilians to leave two large “military interest zones” to protect them, but did not specify how long they would have to evacuate or where they should go. One of the military zones is a rural area of approximately 2,000sq kilometres (772sq miles) bordering Mali in the northern province of Soum. The other military zone covers about 11,000sq km (4247sq miles) on the southern border with Benin and is mostly national park land. “A delay of 14 days will be accorded to resident populations to join safer zones,” army spokesperson Yves Didier Bamouni said at a news briefing on Friday. “It is very important to be able to distinguish friends from enemies,” he said, without providing further detail. Al Jazeera

Nigerian Governor Lets Residents Carry Guns for Self-Defense
A Nigerian governor has ordered the issuing of licenses so citizens can carry guns to defend themselves against armed groups, a first among the measures drawn up to defeat gunmen blamed for the deaths of thousands in the West African country’s troubled northern region. Zamfara state Gov. Bello Matawalle announced Sunday through the state commissioner for information that the directive to issue gun licenses follows “the recent escalating attacks, kidnapping and the criminal levies being enforced on our innocent communities.” Armed groups known locally as bandits have targeted remote communities in Nigeria’s northwest and central regions. Kidnappings for ransom took place last year in Zamfara, one of the worst-hit states in the armed violence. Gun permits for self-defense are very rare in Nigeria, and Zamfara could be the first state to offer mass approvals. It was not yet clear how arming citizens would help prevent the attacks; authorities have admitted that even the Nigerian police are sometimes overwhelmed during violent attacks. Nigeria also is fighting a decade-long war against Islamist extremist rebels in the northeast region. “This act of terrorism has been a source of worry and concern to the people and government of the state,” Ibrahim Dosara, the Zamfara information commissioner, said in a statement. He said the government has arranged for 500 licenses to be distributed to those “who qualify and are wishing to obtain such guns to defend themselves.” Past measures, including telecommunications blackouts, blocks of millions of unregistered phone lines and a series of curfews, have not achieved the long-sought peace. AP

Suspects Held Over Nigeria Church Massacre
Suspects linked to the killing of at least 40 people in a church in south-west Nigeria have been detained by a regional security force, the authorities there say. Gunmen stormed the St Francis Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo state, during a service earlier this month and opened fire. The suspects are being held by a force set up by the south-west state governors, known as Amotekun. It is a separate organisation from the police. Amotekun commander Adetunji Adeleye told the BBC that the suspects were at different stages of interrogation. He did not give any details about those being held but said a vehicle and some weapons were recovered. Amotekun will need to hand the suspects over to the police if they are going to be prosecuted as it does not have the power to take people to court. As well as the at least 40 people who died on 5 June, more than 100 others were injured during the attack. The Nigerian government blamed the killings on the militant group, Islamic State of West African Province (Iswap). But the jihadists have not said that they carried out the attack. BBC

West African Nations Gabon and Togo Join Commonwealth
The 54-nation group of mostly former British colonies accepted Togo and Gabon’s application for membership on the final day of its leadership summit in Rwanda. “We have admitted Gabon and Togo as new members, and we all welcome them to the Commonwealth family,” Rwandan President Paul Kagame said at the closing press conference. The French-speaking West African states are the first new members to join the Commonwealth since Rwanda in 2009. Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey said membership opened the door to 2.5 billion consumers in the Commonwealth realm, offered new education opportunities, and tapped a “craze” for English among his countrymen. “Togo’s membership is motivated by the desire to expand its diplomatic, political, and economic network… as well as to get closer to the English-speaking world,” he told AFP. It also allowed the small and developing nation of 8.5 million to redefine bilateral relations with the UK outside the European Union in the aftermath of Brexit, he added. Francophone states have also sought Commonwealth membership in recent years to pivot away from France, analysts said. Togolese political scientist Mohamed Madi Djabakate said the move would prove popular as French influence in Togo was often blamed for its economic woes. “Togo joining the Commonwealth is better for many people than sharing the French language and culture, which at the end of the day has not promoted development,” he told AFP. France 24

Somalia Parliament Approves New Prime Minister
Members of Somalia’s Parliament have approved the appointment of Hamza Abdi Barre as the new prime minister. More than 200 members of Parliament, who were present at a session held Saturday in Mogadishu, unanimously backed Barre, who also is member of the lower house of Parliament. After the vote, Barre told VOA in an exclusive interview he would form “an effective government to deal with the current situation.” “I will form a government that would advance the key priorities of my new government, including security, drought response, reconciliation, and development,” Barre said. “I thank the respected lawmakers for giving me the confidence, a confidence, I know comes with a burden and challenges, a confidence that makes me both happy and a little bit worried about its extent and the huge expectations.” International humanitarian organizations and the Somalia’s special presidential envoy for drought and climate, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, continue to warn that Somalia faces a climate emergency and a famine. “Our people are facing a severe drought as a result of an unprecedented fourth failed rainy season with catastrophic hunger, and we extremely fear that the situation may turn into a deadly famine, therefore my government will give the priority in dealing with drought response,” Barre said. Voice of America

Groups in Spain, Morocco Push for Border Deaths Inquiry
Human rights organizations in Spain and Morocco called on both countries to investigate the deaths of at least 18 Africans and injuries suffered by dozens more who attempted to scale the border fence that surrounds Melilla, a Spanish enclave in North Africa. Moroccan authorities said the casualties occurred when a stampede of people tried to climb the iron fence that separates Melilla and Morocco. In a statement released Friday, Morocco’s Interior Ministry said 76 civilians were injured along with 140 Moroccan security officers. Local authorities cited by Morocco’s official MAP news agency said the death toll increased to 18 after several migrants died in the hospital. The Moroccan Human Rights Association reported 27 dead, but the figure could not immediately be confirmed. Two members of Morocco’s security forces and 33 migrants who were injured during the border breach were being treated at hospitals in the Moroccan cities of Nador and Oujda, MAP said. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Saturday condemned what he described as a “violent assault” and an “attack on the territorial integrity” of Spain. Spanish officials said 49 Civil Guards sustained minor injuries. “If there is anyone responsible for everything that appears to have taken place at that border, it is the mafias that traffic in human beings,” Sánchez said. His remarks came as the Moroccan Human Rights Association shared videos on social media that appeared to show dozens of migrants lying on the ground, many of them motionless and a few bleeding, as Moroccan security forces stood over them. Voice of America

As Summit Host, Spain Urges NATO to Watch Its Southern Flank
While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is certain to dominate an upcoming NATO summit in Madrid, Spain and other member nations are quietly pushing the Western alliance to consider how mercenaries aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin are spreading Moscow’s influence to Africa. As the host of the summit taking place from Tuesday to Thursday, Spain wants to emphasize its proximity to Africa as it lobbies for a greater focus on Europe’s southern flank in a new document outlining NATO’s vision of its security challenges and tasks. The Strategic Concept is NATO’s most important working document after the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, which contained the key provision holding that an attack on one member is viewed as an attack upon all. The security assessment is updated roughly every decade to reset the West’s security agenda…In their view, the security challenges in Africa arise from a Putin apparently dead-set on restoring the imperial glories of Russia as well as from an expansive China. Russia has gained traction thanks to the presence of its mercenaries in the Sahel region, a semiarid expanse stretching from Senegal to Sudan that suffers from political strife, terrorism and drought. “Each time I meet with NATO ministers, the support of the allies is total due to the instability that we see on the alliance’s southern frontier and especially the situation in the Sahel region right now,” Spanish Foreign Minister José Albares said. The Kremlin denies links to the Wagner Group, a mercenary force with an increasing presence in central and North Africa and the Middle East. The private military company, which has also participated in the war in Ukraine, has developed footholds in Libya, Mali, Sudan and Central African Republic. AP



Photo: Adam Jones