Africa Media Review for June 29, 2022

Sudan, Ethiopia Army Clash at Disputed Al-Fashaga Border After Attack That Killed Sudan Soldiers
Clashes have been reported at the disputed al-Fashaga border area between Sudanese army and that of Ethiopia following the alleged capture, execution and public display of the bodies of seven soldiers and a civilian killed over the weekend. On Tuesday, Sudan said that it had fired heavy artilerry and recaptured several of its territories that were being held by the Ethiopian army. “Sudan’s army fired long-distance artillery from Monday morning until Tuesday afternoon, but nobody was injured”, said Assefa Ashege, a senior security official in Ethiopia’s Amhara region. The latest comes as the quarrel over al-Fashaqa, where the north-west of Ethiopia’s Amhara region meets Sudan’s breadbasket Gedaref state which has been settled by Ethiopian farmers for decades, escalated in recent years alongside a diplomatic spat over Ethiopia’s construction of a hydropower dam. Military planes according to the BBC could be seen circling the contested area as the Sudanese assault continued. Addis Ababa has denied the allegations from Sudan of its troops capturing and executing seven Sudanese soldiers. But it has also insisted and accused Sudanese soldiers of encroaching into its territory. AfricaNews

African Union Calls for Restraint and Dialogue Between Sudan and Ethiopia
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Moussa Faki called on Sudan and Ethiopia to refrain from military escalation and to seek a negotiated dispute for the border conflict between the two countries. Sudanese army on Tuesday attacked Ethiopian troops based in Barkhat area and destroyed their settlement after the killing of seven of its soldiers and the display of their bodies. Faki on Wednesday released a statement saying he was following with “deep concern” the military escalations between Sudan and Ethiopia. “The Chairperson appeals for complete refrain from any military action whatever its origin and calls for dialogue between the two brotherly countries to solve any dispute,” further he said. He further called on the two sides to hold negotiations under “the auspices of the AU Border Program”. Sudan had already rejected any talks with Ethiopia on the Fashaga area. Khartoum says there are two border demarcation agreements sealed in 1902 and 1975. Faki’s proposal, which is in line with the Ethiopian demand to engage in new discussions, has very little chance of being accepted by the Sudanese government. Ethiopia said that the abduction of the Sudanese soldiers and their murder were done by a local militia. Sudan Tribune

Rwandans Fear Leaving Their Homes in Congo as Anger Grows over Rebel Attacks
Life in Kinshasa was going well for Zawadi, a mother of two from Rwanda, until faraway fighting stoked Congolese anger against her country and videos of men with machetes prowling the city streets in search of Rwandans surfaced on social media. The trouble started in May, when the M23 rebel group resumed heavy fighting against the military in the eastern reaches of Democratic Republic of Congo after years of relative quiet. Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting M23, which Rwanda denies. Hundreds of kilometres to the west, in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, Zawadi watched in horror as videos of anti-Rwandan demonstrations circulated on social media and people she knew started posting anti-Rwandan images and slogans. “Even my business partners, when they see me, they hurl hateful words,” said Zawadi, speaking in her home where she spends hours every day with her two young children, following the latest developments on her phone. In early June, a video that circulated widely showed some men, armed with machetes and faces wrapped in Congolese flags, loitering on a Kinshasa street in front of a Rwandan-owned shop. Another video, shot during a protest in the city on 30 May, showed a crowd cheering as a picture of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, defaced with a Hitler-like moustache and swastika, was torched. Protesters, including some well-known political figures, have demanded the closure of the Rwandan embassy. The provincial commissioner of police, General Sylvano Kasongo, said officers were under orders to arrest anyone dressed in paramilitary outfits and adopting a threatening attitude, and some arrests had already taken place. “The people of Kinshasa are hospitable,” he said, condemning the anti-Rwandan protests and attributing them to a minority. Kinshasa Governor Gentiny Ngobila urged residents not to take out their anger on Rwandan citizens. Reuters

Sudan Activists, Authorities Ready for June 30 Mass Protests
Resistance groups continue their preparations for the launch of the June 30 anti-junta mass Marches of the Millions all over Sudan tomorrow, calling for a civilian-led government, while the authorities have announced strict security measures. A shut-down of telephone traffic and the Internet is expected as well. The resistance committees in the country are working on the unification of the two ‘Power to the People’ charters issued earlier this year. Members of resistance committees active on grassroots level in Sudan, supported by political and professional opposition groups, continue to run propaganda parades and vigils calling on the Sudanese to join the June 30 ‘intifada’ demonstrations calling for the overthrow of the October 25 2021 putschists. The Resistance Committees Coordination in Khartoum have set the Republican Palace as the destination for the June 30 Marches of the Millions. Sources reported from Khartoum that security forces have been carrying out a detention campaign against activists in the past few days. Propaganda parades in various Khartoum neighbourhoods on Monday were met with excessive violence by government forces, which led to the injury of seven people, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors (CCSD) reported yesterday. One demonstrator was hit by live ammunition in the arm, one was hit in the head by a tear gas canister, two others had head wounds after being hit by “hard objects”, and the other three sustained minor wounds. Dabanga

‘It’s a Sham’: Egypt Accused of Restricting Protest in Run-Up to Cop27
Five months before a pivotal UN climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, one of Egypt’s most prominent political prisoners remains behind bars. Now on his 89th day of a hunger strike, Alaa Abd El Fattah is subsisting on just a hundred calories a day, normally in the form of skimmed milk or a spoonful of honey in his tea. Abd El Fattah, a figurehead of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, has spent most of the past decade in prison. First jailed for organising demonstrations against a law that in effect banned protest altogether, he was re-arrested in 2019 during anti-government protests in which he had no involvement, and last year was sentenced to a further five years in a maximum security prison on charges of “spreading false news undermining national security”, for comments about torture on social media. In a message passed to his sister during a prison visit last week, Abd El Fattah noted the irony of the Cop27 UN climate summit taking place in Egypt. “Of all the countries to host they chose the one banning protest and sending everyone to prison, which tells me how the world is handling this issue. They’re not interested in finding a joint solution for the climate,” he told her. Environmental campaigners and activists fear that Abd El Fattah’s case is a litmus test for Egypt’s commitment to allow protest at Cop27 and that their voices will be ignored at a time when governments desperately need to hear from civil society about the worsening effects of the climate crisis. Guardian

Russia’s Wagner Group in Mali Spurs Refugee Spike in Mauritania
But with the reported indiscriminate attacks and arrests by the Russians, things had reached breaking point again. Mali’s military is in the 10th year of a war which started out as a separatist rebellion before morphing into a fight led by armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Russia-linked Wagner mercenaries reportedly arrived in Mali to support the military last December. Since the end of 2021, M’bera has experienced a population boom, United Nations officials running the camp said, inching towards 78,622 people and still counting – a record. Almost 7,000 new arrivals were recorded in March and April alone. UN officials said the true number is likely higher as many Malians are seeking refuge in neighbouring villages outside the camp. The refugees Al Jazeera spoke to are from the northern Timbuktu region and the Segou region in central Mali. They had varying motivations for crossing to Mauritania. Some were fleeing violence by the armed groups, the Malian army or fighters affiliated with it, and reported no connection to Wagner. But multiple refugees either cited the Russians specifically as a threat or said the security situation in Mali’s decade-long war has gotten worse since Wagner mercenaries arrived. Al Jazeera

Morocco: Spanish PM Blames Traffickers, Migrants for Deaths at Border
Spain’s prime minister has defended the way Moroccan and Spanish police repelled migrants last week as they tried to cross the shared border into the north African enclave of Melilla, depicting the attempt in which at least 23 people died as “an attack on Spain’s borders.” “We must remember that many of these migrants attacked Spain’s borders with axes and hooks,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said during an interview Monday with The Associated Press. “We are talking about an attempt to assault the fence that was evidently carried out in an aggressive way, and therefore what Spain’s state security forces and Moroccan guards did was defend Spain’s borders.” Authorities in Morocco have blamed the deaths on a “stampede” of people that formed early Friday as hundreds attempted to scale or break through the 12-meter (29-feet) iron double fence. The barrier surrounds Melilla, a town of 85,000 separated from the Spanish mainland by the Strait of Gibraltar. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “shocked” at the images of violence, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York. Dujarric said the use of “excessive force” by authorities on both sides of the border “needs to be investigated because it is unacceptable.” AP

UN Urges Libya’s Rivals to Agree on Elections This Week
The U.N. political chief urged Libya’s rival factions on Monday to agree on measures governing the transition to elections during talks in Geneva later this week, expressing hope this will lead to long-awaited voting “at the earliest possible date.” Rosemary DiCarlo told the U.N. Security Council that during talks in Cairo from June 12-20 the rivals reached “a broad consensus on most of the contentious articles” in the proposed 2017 constitution, which she called “commendable.” Oil-rich Libya has been wrecked by conflict since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country was then split by rival administrations, one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter, and a U.N.-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers. The Cairo meeting was the first to see Libya’s east-based parliament, the House of Representatives, and west-based High Council of State in Tripoli engage in “a serious review” of the constitutional proposal since its adoption in 2017, DiCarlo said. “We are encouraged that the leaders of both chambers have accepted the invitation of (U.N.) special adviser Stephanie Williams to meet in Geneva from June 28-29 to discuss and reach agreement on the measures governing the transitional period leading to elections,” she said. AP

Senegal Court Hands Down Prison Sentence to Opposition MP over Protests
A Senegal court Tuesday handed an opposition MP a six-month suspended prison sentence for defying a ban on protests in the tense run-up to legislative elections in July. Another lawmaker and 82 other defendants tried in the same case were released. MPs Dethie Fall and Mame Diarra Fame were tried along with the 82 other defendants at the court in the capital Dakar. They were arrested on 17 June during a rally called by the opposition after its list of candidates for the elections was disqualified on technical grounds. The rally had been banned by the authorities, citing the risk of unrest. Clashes broke out in Dakar and the southern region of Casamance after youths defied the ban. Three people died and some 200 were arrested, according to the opposition. Fall “constantly acknowledged having been the main organiser” of the demonstration, court president Ahmed Ba said, handing him a six-month suspended sentence and fine of 100,000 CFA francs ($160). The judge dismissed the case against Fame, saying the facts against her had not been sufficiently established. Ba also acquitted the other 82 co-defendants due to “insufficiently established facts” at the end of the trial, which lasted more than 14 hours, ending early Tuesday. RFI

EU to Deepen Ties with Nigeria, Others on Energy Transition
The European Union (EU) has stated that it would be prioritising Nigeria, Mozambique, Angola and Senegal in its bid to fast-tracking energy transition into renewables on the continent. The EU Ambassador to Nigeria, Samuela Isopi, at a press conference to announce its eight edition of the EU business forum scheduled to hold on the 30th of June to 1st July 2022, explained that under its European External Strategy (EES) launched recently, it is targeting Nigeria and three countries by diversifying suppliers and fast-tracking energy transition into renewables. Isopi maintained that its member states are already reaching out to these countries to fast-track the energy transition process. She, however, tasked the Nigerian government to address its infrastructure and security challenges to boost gas export to Europe. “We think there is a huge opportunity for Nigeria. The current international situation is creating a huge opportunity for Nigeria, but we need to address the challenges,” she advised. According to her, the EU bloc is by far the largest trading partner of Nigeria with about €28 billion in 2021, which she said is in favour of Nigeria with a balance of trade of €6 billion. She said the oil and gas sector represents the bulk of the trade adding that Europe accounts for 20 per cent of Nigeria’s trade with the rest of the world. Guardian Nigeria

Cop15: Lack of Political Leadership Leaves Crucial Nature Summit ‘In Peril’, Warn NGOs
UN biodiversity negotiations have reached crisis point due to a lack of engagement from governments, leading NGOs have warned, three years after experts revealed that Earth’s life-support systems are collapsing. Last week, countries met in Nairobi for an extra round of talks on an agreement to halt the human-driven destruction of the natural world, with the final targets set to be agreed at Cop15 in Montreal. Governments have never met a target they have set for themselves on halting the destruction of nature despite scientists warning in 2019 that one million species face extinction, and that nature is declining at rates unprecedented in human history. While world leaders including Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau and Boris Johnson have underscored the importance of the summit, which only takes place once a decade, the biodiversity negotiations have seen substantial divisions between the global north and south over money, proposals to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, and implementation of any agreement. The Africa group warned it would not sign off the final post-2020 global biodiversity framework unless it includes a target on digital biopiracy. Guardian

With Vast Arable Lands, Why Is Africa Dependent on Imported Grain?
The Russian army’s blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports and the ripple effects of Western sanctions against Moscow have raised international food and fuel prices, leaving millions of Africans facing an “unprecedented food emergency” this year, the World Food Programme has said. Kenya, Somalia, and large parts of Ethiopia are at risk of acute food insecurity, theUN’s Food & Agriculture Organization said this week. In Sahel and West Africa, more than 40 million people could go hungry in 2022, according to the FAO, up from 10.8 million people in 2019. Even before the Russian invasion in late February, the pandemic and a long period of drought had already hit African economies hard. The war in Ukraine made things critically worse since the continent imported about a third of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine. With food prices skyrocketing in global markets, even those countries not reliant on imports from Russia and Ukraine are suffering. Over the past decade, Africa’s food import bill has nearly tripled, but its agricultural sector has also been growing steadily. The continent has immense potential for feeding itself, with vast amounts of arable lands. But why is it still dependent on imported grain? DW

Half of Young Africans Want to Leave Their Countries in Next Three Years
This is occasioned by growing pessimism in the last two years over prospects on the continent, with 68 percent of youth aged between 18 and 24 saying they don’t think their countries are headed in the right direction anymore, an 11 percent rise since 2020. Based on the survey, youth living in Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa have grown the most pessimistic in the period, most of whom cited Covid-19 deaths, economic difficulty, political instability and conflicts for their waning confidence in the future of their nations. This has triggered a situation Ivor Ichikowitz, the chairman of the foundation, described as “bigger than a brain drain,” where majority of African youth are convinced that they can only secure a better future for themselves if they leave their countries. “I believe I will be more skilled and better placed to get a well-paying job after studying in the United States rather than an African university,” said Felix Ouma, 24, a Kenyan who is set to leave for a master’s degree programme in the US this July under the Kenya Airlift Programme. Ouma told The EastAfrican that he has not been able to secure a job after graduating from university, and has since relentlessly pursued opportunities to advance his studies abroad. The EastAfrican has learnt that there is a huge backlog of visa applications at the American embassy in Nairobi as many Kenyans seek to pursue opportunities abroad. East African



Photo: Adam Jones