Africa Media Review for June 3, 2022

‘Several Gunshots’ – One Killed in First Major Protest Under Guinea Junta
One person was killed in Guinea’s capital late on Wednesday during protests over fuel price hikes, an opposition coalition and a member of the victim’s family said, in the most serious unrest since a military junta took power last year. Gunfire rang out in Conakry overnight as young people barricaded streets and set tyres alight in protest over a 20% increase in the price of gasoline, a Reuters reporter and witnesses said. “Angry young people went out to protest and clash with security forces,” said Souleymane Bah, a resident of Conakry’s Koloma neighbourhood…One protester was shot dead by security forces, according to a statement by the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC), a coalition of politicians and activists that opposed former President Alpha Conde’s efforts to hold onto power. A family member of the victim, who asked not to be named, confirmed he had been killed in the protest. Guinea’s interim authorities had no immediate comment. They have previously justified the fuel price increase by citing rising prices on the international market. Wednesday’s protests were by far the largest since Colonel Mamady Doumbouya led a coup against Conde last September. Conde had changed the constitution to allow himself to stand for a third term in office in 2020, sparking widespread anger. Reuters

Guinea Junta Bows to Economic Pressure, Increases Pump Prices
Guinea’s military-led transition government has announced a new set of prices of petroleum products, despite repeatedly promising it would not increase the cost of the commodity. The decision announced on Tuesday saw the prices of petrol, diesel and oil go up 12,000 GNF ($1.36) per litre, up from 10,000 GNF ($1.14). The new prices took effect on June 1.  This represents an increase of 20 percent, making the cost of the commodities in the country among the highest in the Mano River Union (MRU) sub-region. A statement from the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Planning said the decision was necessitated by factors in the global market. East African

Africa: Dramatic Drop Forecast in COVID Deaths, but No Time to ‘Sit Back and Relax’
That’s down from a “catastrophically high” average of 970 fatalities each day last year to around 60 a day by the end of 2022. “The low number of deaths expected this year is a huge achievement for the region and a testament to the efforts of countries and partners,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti told journalists at a virtual press conference. Despite the new WHO modelling projection compared with last year – the pandemic’s most lethal – actual cases are estimated to drop by a little over a quarter this year. “However, the job is not yet done. Every time we sit back and relax, COVID-19 flares up again,” she cautioned. The analysis, which was published this week in the Lancet Global Health scientific journal, finds that while the region reported 113,102 deaths through official channels last year, about one in three were missed, driving the actual number of deaths up to a projected 350,000. The modelling suggests that if current variants and transmission dynamics remain constant, around 23,000 people are expected to die by the end of this year. However, a variant that is 200 per cent more lethal, would cause an increase in deaths to more than 70,000. “The threat of new variants remains real, and we need to be ready to cope with this ever-present danger,” cautioned Dr. Moeti. UN News

Kenyans Urged to Mask up amid New COVID Wave
Kenyans have been urged to wear their masks as the country readies itself for a potential new wave of Covid-19 infections. According Dr Francis Kuria, the Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health, the positivity rate has been on a rise since start of May hitting a high of 5.6 percent and averaging at 3.3 percent weekly. “We are urging Kenyans to have their masks on. We are worried that the Covid-19 numbers are going up,” Dr Kuria said. “At the time of lifting some of the [Covid-19 containment] mandates, the positivity rate was about 1 percent and at the beginning of May, it was about 0.1 percent but all of a sudden, we have a weekly average of 3.3 percent and the highest at 5.6 percent.” In early March, Kenya lifted the mask mandate, with the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe saying that wearing of face masks in open public places had been lifted, but encouraged citizens to put on masks at indoor functions. He also announced that full in-person worship for vaccinated persons had been restored. East African

Sudan: Protesters Demand Justice on Third Anniversary of Deadly Crackdown
Khartum residents took to the streets Thursday to protest the Sudanese military regime and demand justice for the victims of a 2019 deadly sit-in. Demonstrators in the eastern and southern neighbourhoods of the city blocked main roads, determined to voice their opposition. The fresh rally also came ahead of the anniversary of the 2019 deadly sit-in. “We will continue our struggle and we will not stop, protestor Sohaib Hassan, vows.We have brothers who died, we have martyrs, we have victims, and we will not give up our rights to ‘Burhan’ [General and leader of the military authorities], we will continue our revolution and God willing we will win.” Nazik Awad, another demonstrator marches for the due process of law to be respected: “We demand and appeal to all civil society and human rights organisations to demand the human and civil rights of minors who are arrested and to demand the rights of detainees who are exposed to violence while they are in prison, and we will continue to go down the streets until the fall of the regime.” AfricaNews with AP

Sudan Emergency Lawyers: ‘More than 90 People Continue to Be Detained Despite Lifting of State of Emergency’
Sudan’s Emergency Lawyers stated that more than 90 people continue to be detained in Soba and Rabak prison, despite the recent decision made by the President of the Sovereignty Council, Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, to lift the State of Emergency and release all detainees. Emergency Lawyers spokesperson, Amira Mohamed, told Radio Dabanga that whilst Sudan’s junta released a number of detainees recently, the welfare of detainees in Rabak prison live is unknown as their lawyers “are prevented from visiting and learning about their conditions”. She went on to explain that five children were released from Soba Prison recently, after more than a month of detention. Rehab Mubarak, a lawyer who is familiar with the details of the children recently released from Soba, told Radio Dabanga’s Sudan Today programme that “detention of children alongside adults, is a clear violation of a child’s rights.” She also appealed to the families of the children, “to contact the Emergency Lawyers and open reports of the violations they suffered under detention.” Dabanga

Chad Declares ‘Food Emergency’, Urges International Help
Chad on Thursday declared a “food emergency” in the impoverished landlocked country, urging the international community to help. The plea for aid comes before a meeting Friday between the head of the African Union and Russia’s president to discuss grain supplies in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. “Following the constant deterioration of the food and nutritional situation this year and taking into account the growing risk to populations if no humanitarian aid… is provided, this decree declares a food emergency,” read the document signed by the head of the military junta ruling the country. “The government calls on all national actors and international partners to help the populations,” the decree said. The United Nations has warned that 5.5 million people in Chad — more than a third of the population — would need humanitarian assistance this year. The World Food Program in March estimated that 2.1 million Chadians would be “severely food insecure” during the lean season starting in June. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions on Moscow have disrupted deliveries of wheat and other commodities from the two countries, fueling concerns about the risk of hunger around the world. Around 30% of the world’s wheat supply comes from Ukraine and Russia. Voice of America

Two Red Cross Workers Killed in Mali Ambush
A vehicle transporting a Red Cross team came under a hail of gunfire in western Mali, killing a worker and the car’s driver, the Malian and Dutch Red Cross organisations have said. Witnesses said the attackers were riding motorcycles when they shot at the vehicle at about 6pm on Wednesday near Kayes, the aid organisation said. The vehicle was clearly marked with the group’s emblem, they added. Two other employees survived the ambush. “The Malian Red Cross condemns with the utmost firmness this incident, which undermines the humanitarian mission aimed at vulnerable populations,” the aid group said in a statement announcing the deaths. “Disbelief and sadness,” the Dutch Red Cross said on Twitter. “Two Red Cross aid workers have been killed in an armed attack in Mali. One of them was an employee of the Dutch Red Cross. Our flag is at half-mast. Aid workers should never be the target.” Al Jazeera

Mali: Deadly Convoy Attack ‘Tragic Reminder’ of Threats to Peacekeepers
The Mission reported that the attack was the fifth incident to occur in the Kidal region in just one week, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York.  “It is a tragic reminder of the complexity of the mandate of the UN Mission and of its peacekeepers, and the threats peacekeepers face on a daily basis,” he said.  The Secretary-General recalls that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law”, said the UN Spokesperson. “He calls on the Malian authorities to spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of this attack so that they can be brought to justice swiftly.  “The Secretary-General reaffirms the determination of the United Nations to support the people of Mali in their quest for peace and security.” UN News

Nigeria: Lagos Crushes More than 2,000 Confiscated Motorbike Taxis
The authorities in Lagos have begun the process of crushing more than 2,000 confiscated motorcycles seized this week as part of the attempts to enforce a ban on motorcycle taxis, known as okadas, in the Nigerian city. The ban was introduced following last month’s killing by a mob, allegedly made up of motorbike taxi drivers, of Sunday David, a 38-year-old sound engineer in the Lekki area of the city. It’s not the first time the government has imposed a ban. In January 2020, the government banned the operation of motorcyclists in 15 local council areas across Lagos. But that stopped being enforced. BBC

US Condemns Sacking of Tunisia Judges
The US has accused Tunisian President Kais Saied of an “alarming pattern” of actions “undermining” Tunisia’s independent institutions after he fired dozens of judges. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said US officials had communicated with their Tunisian counterparts on the importance of checks and balances in a democratic system. He said the US government had called for an “inclusive and transparent reform process with input from civil society and diverse political voices to strengthen the legitimacy of reform efforts” in Tunisia. Mr Saied has pushed through a series of moves expanding his powers and dismantling elected institutions since last year, when he suspended parliament. On Wednesday he sacked 57 judges, accusing them of corruption and protecting terrorists. Earlier last month, he announced a plan for a “new republic” in Tunisia which would be put to a referendum on 25 July. BBC

Somalia’s New President Vows to Beat Back Jihadists, Then Talk to Them
When Hassan Sheikh Mohamud entered Villa Somalia as president in 2012, his writ ran little farther than the sandbagged gates of the bullet-pocked, Italian-built, Art Deco palace of the head of state. Though the central government had recently wrested control of most of Mogadishu, the capital, and had recaptured some strategic towns here and there, vast swathes of the country’s centre and south remained in the hands of al-Shabab, a jihadist group with links to al-Qaeda. Terrorist attacks were routine: just two days after his election, Mr Mohamud narrowly survived an assassination attempt. After two decades of anarchy and civil war, Somalia then looked less like a country than a gaggle of warring fiefs. “We started from scratch,” says Mr Mohamud of his first term as president. Economist



Photo: Adam Jones