Africa Media Review for June 6, 2019

100 Killed in Sudan and Dozens of Bodies Are Pulled from Nile, Opposition Says
Two days after a violent crackdown by Sudan’s security forces on pro-democracy protesters in the capital, a doctors’ organization that has helped organize protests reported that more than 100 people had been killed and hundreds more injured. The doctors’ group said on Wednesday afternoon that 40 bodies had been pulled from the Nile, reportedly by paramilitary groups, after the attack. Earlier on Wednesday, the doctors group said 101 people had been killed, including those recovered from the river, and 326 injured. If confirmed, the toll would make the attack the deadliest by security forces on the protesters since April, when the dictator who ruled Sudan for 30 years was toppled by his generals. In the aftermath of the raid, residents reported rapes and robberies at the hands of paramilitary forces, and said that internet and cellphone networks had been restricted or cut off. The New York Times

Sudan Military Arrests Rebel Group Leader Yasir Arman
Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) on Wednesday arrested rebel group leader Yasir Arman, accusing him of fuelling the protests in the crisis-hit state, credible sources confirmed. Mr Arman arrived in Khartoum two weeks ago and declared his support for a civilian-led government in Sudan. His arrest came a few days after he was summoned by Sudan’s Intelligence agency. Last week the military junta asked Mr Arman to leave the Sudanese capital Khartoum but he did not heed the warning. Mr Arman is the secretary general of Sudan People’s Liberation Army/ Movement-North (SPLM/A-N), an armed faction led by Malik Agar in the Blue Nile region.  The East African

China, Russia Block UN Action on Sudan
China, backed by Russia, blocked a bid at the UN Security Council on Tuesday to condemn the killing of civilians in Sudan and issue a pressing call from world powers for an immediate halt to the violence, diplomats said. During a closed-door council meeting, Britain and Germany circulated a press statement that would have called on Sudan’s military rulers and protesters to “continue working together towards a consensual solution to the current crisis,” according to the draft seen by AFP. But China firmly objected to the proposed text while Russia insisted that the council should await a response from the African Union, diplomats said. Russian Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said the proposed statement was “unbalanced” and stressed the need to be “very cautious in this situation.”  AFP

Ian Khama’s Renewed Ambitions Could Reshape Botswana’s Long-Standing Political Equation
It’s no secret that former Botswana president Ian Khama wants to see his successor, President Mokgweetsi Masisi, toppled. Then at the end of May 2019, after weeks of speculation, Khama quit the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), founded by his father in 1961, just as the formation of a new party, the Botswana Patriotic Front, was confirmed. Khama backed former foreign minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi to challenge Masisi before the Botswana Democratic Party’s elective conference earlier this year, but she was prevented from running. He told the Sunday Standard he would use all his resources to ensure that the BDP lose the elections in October 2019, because Masisi, his handpicked successor, was providing “poor leadership”. Last week Khama embarked on a charm offensive in South Africa during which he granted interviews to some major news outlets (Botswana journalists say they were rarely afforded a similar opportunity).  Daily Maverick

U.N. Aid Chief Warns of Looming ‘Horror’ as Somalia Again Faces Famine
The top humanitarian official at the United Nations sounded the alarm on Wednesday about the looming risk of famine in the Horn of Africa because of drought, warning that more than five million people are threatened, mostly Somalis. The official, Mark Lowcock, under secretary general and emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations, said that he had allocated $45 million from its emergency relief fund to help purchase food and other assistance for people of the region, and that many of them could face a serious food crisis by September. He called the allocation one of the biggest ever made from the fund. Somalia and parts of neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya have suffered from repeated seasons of failed rains that have shriveled crops, depleted livestock and left people’s food and water supplies increasingly insecure. The New York Times

Egyptian Officials: Militant Attack Kills 10 Police in Sinai
Islamic militants attacked a checkpoint in Egypt’s restive northern part of the Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, killing at least 10 police, security officials said. The attack took place as Muslims in the city of el-Arish were holding prayers marking the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which follows the holy month of Ramadan, early in the morning. Two officers and eight conscripts were among those killed, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. The Islamic State group, through its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for the attack. The officials said the militants attacked the checkpoint south of el-Arish and seized an armored vehicle to make their getaway, but a warplane chased them down in the desert, killing at least five. AP

Islamic State Claims First Presence in Mozambique but Police Beg to Differ
The Islamic State group has claimed it was involved in an insurgent clash in Mozambique for the first time, but analysts expressed doubt and police dismissed the claim outright. A jihadi insurgency has been growing in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, with more than 200 people killed and many villages torched. According to SITE Intelligence, a company that monitors extremist activity, Islamic State issued a statement late Tuesday claiming involvement in an apparent gunfight with the Mozambique military in Cabo Delgado. “The soldiers of the Caliphate were able to repulse an attack by the Crusader Mozambican army in Metubi village, in the Mocimboa area,” said the statement, according to a SITE translation.  AFP

An Urgent Mystery: Who’s Attacking Ebola Responders in Congo — and Why?
David Gressly is not a medical expert. But he has just taken on what has to be one of the toughest jobs in global health. On May 23, the United Nations’ secretary-general named Gressly to a new position overseeing the organization’s effort to stop the 10-month-long Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of the Congo. (His official title is U.N. emergency Ebola coordinator.) Until then, Gressly had been deputy head of the U.N. mission in Congo, which includes a massive force of peacekeepers. His appointment amounts to a recognition by the U.N. that it’s no longer an option to leave coordination of the international Ebola response solely to its health officials — specifically the staff of the World Health Organization. That’s because the biggest obstacle to ending the outbreak is a problem that WHO officials say has ballooned beyond their purview to address: Since late February, there’s been a dramatic surge in violent — and sometimes deadly — attacks against Ebola response teams.  NPR

Sierra Leone Annuls Election of Opposition MPs
Sierra Leone’s High Court has cancelled the election of 10 opposition MPs for alleged breaches of the electoral law during March 2018 legislative polls. The verdict meant that nine MPs elected under the ticket of the main opposition All Peoples Congress were to be kicked out immediately and replaced by candidates of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party who came second in the elections. The decision helped the ruling SLPP regain a one-seat majority in the chamber (58 against 57 for the APC the opposition) prompting the disqualified MPs to barricade themselves in their offices as their supporters clashed with police in the capital Freetown.  RFI

French Court Validates François Compaoré Extradition to Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso has welcomed the ruling by France’s highest court approving the extradition of François Compaoré. The brother of ousted president Blaise Compaoré is facing prosecution for the murder of a journalist in 1998. François Compaoré was arrested in Paris in October 2017 on an international arrest warrant. He is wanted on charges of “inciting” the death of an investigative journalist, Norbert Zongo, whose body was found, along with three others, in a burnt-out car in southern Burkina Faso December 1998. Zongo was investigating the murder of a driver who worked for François Compaoré, and had written several hard-hitting articles about misrule in the Compaoré regime. Blaise Compaoré was ousted in a popular revolt in October 2014 after trying to change the constitution to extend his 27-year rule. His brother was an economic adviser to the president, and had become one of the most disliked figures in the government. RFI

Malawi Opposition Rally against Election ‘Robbery’
Malawian opposition supporters marched through the capital Lilongwe and burst into government offices on Tuesday to protest against alleged fraud in elections last month that returned Peter Mutharika as president. Backers of the opposition Malawi Congress Party (MCP) allege their leader Lazarus Chakwera was robbed of victory in the May 21 election, which an official count showed he lost by just 159 000 votes. Protesters swarmed into ministerial and civil servant offices after about 3000, according to an AFP estimate, marched from MCP headquarters to Capital Hill, the seat of the Malawi government, chanting anti-Mutharika slogans. “People are demanding that Chakwera, who won the elections, must be sworn in as the president,” participant Eliah Kamphinda-Banda told AFP.  AFP

Zim Government Moves to ‘Ban’ Strikes and Protests
The Zimbabwean government is expected to enact a law this week that will outlaw workers from staging strikes and protests before exhausting other avenues. The new law comes at a time when the country’s government has stopped police officers from retiring or taking leave. Since the disputed general elections on July 30 2018, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been rocked by a series of protests and strikes by workers. Doctors and nurses have led from the front in strikes that brought the country’s health sector to its knees. Labour minister Sekai Nzenza said the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) Bill, which is due to be signed into law by the president, will ensure that government workers can no longer go on strike before engaging all stakeholders – government, industry captains and the Apex Council that brings together all workers’ unions.  Times Live

Zimbabwe and EU Seek to Move On from Mugabe-Era Strains
Zimbabwe and the European Union began political talks on Wednesday aimed at turning the page on hostile relations during Robert Mugabe’s rule, a step that could enable a resumption of direct financial aid for the ailing economy. During Mugabe’s four-decade rule until 2017, he would routinely blame European “colonialists” for Zimbabwe’s problems, and snarled at EU and U.S. sanctions for rights and vote abuses. The EU has only kept sanctions on Mugabe, his wife and the state arms manufacturer, but is yet to resume direct funding to the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, preferring to channel money through local charities and U.N. agencies.  Reuters

Senegal President Rejects Graft Claims as Attempt to ‘Destabilise’
Senegal’s President Macky Sall Wednesday rejected corruption allegations against his brother in a BBC investigation as an attempt to destabilise a country hoping to make the most of newly-discovered fossil fuel reserves. “We know that where there is oil, some will try to destabilise the country,” Sall said at prayers to mark the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. He vowed the government would pursue the matter, adding: “I want the truth to be reestablished.” Demanding proof of the BBC allegations, he vowed that “If we must punish, we will punish. “However, we will not accept false accusations.” On Sunday, the British broadcaster said Aliou Sall, a brother of the president, had benefited from lucrative dealings in the gas sector. The brother has denied the claims and said he would file suit against the BBC. AFP

Nigeria’s Oil Thieves Roar Back as Militants Kept in Check
Just as Nigeria gets to grips with militants who brought the nations oil industry to its knees a few years ago, another group of longstanding foes are slowly making a comeback: thieves. Saboteurs including thieves caused an 80% increase in the number of spills in 2018, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the largest international producer in the West African country, said in a report last month. By contrast, there have been no militant-related halts to operations since 2016. The disruptions underscore how hard it will be for Nigeria to fully rid itself of security challenges that have plagued the nation for decades. Overseas crude shipments represented by far the nations largest source of export income, with about $43.6 billion of sales last year, according to ITC Trade Map, a venture between the WTO and the UN. Bloomberg

Nearly Half of All Child Deaths in Africa Stem from Hunger, Study Shows
One in three African children are stunted and hunger accounts for almost half of all child deaths across the continent, an Addis Ababa-based think-tank has warned. In an urgent call for action, a study by the African Child Policy Forum said that nearly 60 million children in Africa do not have enough food despite the continent’s economic growth in recent years. A child dies every three seconds globally due to food deprivation – 10,000 children every day – but although figures show an improvement in child hunger at a global level, it is getting worse in some parts of Africa, where the problem is largely a question of political will. Nine out of 10 African children do not meet the criteria for minimum acceptable diet outlined by the World Health Organization, and two out of five don’t eat meals regularly.  The Guardian

Fight the Fakes: How to Beat the $200Bn Medicine Counterfeiters
By the time the teenage boy was standing in front of Bernice Bornmai, feverish and delirious, it was already too late. It wasn’t just the malaria that was killing the 17-year-old, it was the time he’d wasted taking fake medicine. The antimalarials did nothing to stop the disease marching through the young Ghanaian’s body: his organs were already shutting down. “He died waiting to be taken to a larger teaching hospital for dialysis,” Dr Bornmai told the Guardian, from the small hospital in Accra where she works as a senior medical officer. “It was one of my saddest cases, but I have lost other patients who would have survived because of fake medicines too.”  The Guardian

Congo’s Hidden Crisis: Snakebites and Envenomation
Sub-Saharan and Central Africa are key case study areas for a health crisis now receiving international attention from health authorities. Lack of funding for an issue that isn’t immediately perceivable means relevant and potentially life-saving anti-venom programs aren’t present in vulnerable communities. […] The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that between 81,000 and 138,000 deaths in the DRC are caused yearly by snake bites and envenomation. With the habitats of the deadliest venomous snakes often overlapping with the tropical and subtropical climate of the global south, the issue overwhelmingly affects less privileged, rural populations who lack access to adequate health infrastructure. In Africa, snakebites have been noted as a neglected health crisis by the WHO and Doctors without Borders (MSF). A bite from a viper, cobra or mamba can kill in a matter of hours, or leave a victim suffering life-changing injury. Common symptoms include tissue necrosis, intense pain and nausea; beyond symptomatic treatments, specialized antidotes are needed to counteract the venom. Mongabay



Photo: Adam Jones