Africa Media Review for June 7, 2023

A ‘Dystopian Nightmare’ Unfolds in Sudan’s Battered Darfur Region
The gunmen arrived at dawn on motorcycles, horses and in cars. For hours afterward, they fired into houses, rampaged through shops and razed clinics, witnesses said, in a frenzied attack that upended life in El Geneina, a city in the Darfur region of Sudan. The violence in mid-May, which killed at least 280 people in two days, came just hours after two military factions that have been battling for control of Sudan signed a commitment to protect civilians and allow the flow of humanitarian aid. … The gunmen who poured into El Geneina were backed by the paramilitary forces. They were met with fierce resistance from armed fighters, including some of the city’s residents, who had received weapons from the army, according to doctors, aid workers and analysts. Amid the fighting, scores of markets were destroyed, dozens of aid camps burned and health facilities were shuttered. As heavy artillery rained from the sky, militants went door-to-door to find targets and shoot at unarmed civilians. With no food or water amid the 100-degree heat, thousands began fleeing the city — only to be killed by snipers, leaving bodies piled in the streets. … Communications to West Darfur have been cut off for two weeks. But interviews over the last week with two dozen displaced people, humanitarian workers, United Nations officials and analysts revealed that the region is besieged by levels of violence unlike any in recent years. More than 370,000 people have fled Darfur in the past seven weeks, according to the International Organization for Migration. NY Times

Sudanese Families Seek Safety in the Central African Republic
Families fleeing conflict in Sudan are seeking safety in the Central African Republic (CAR). The UNHCR says it is racing against time to relocate the thousands of arrivals before the rains come. In the meantime the UNHCR and the World Food Programme (WFP) are attempting to build shelters, latrines and provide water and food for up to 14,000 refugees who have arrived in CAR. Bobo Kitoko, Data Management Associate for UNHCR, said: “The needs are many, for food, shelter and also water.” The majority of new arrivals are women and children from Nyala in Sudan, who say they faced threats by armed men, extortion of goods, physical aggression and sexual violence. AfricaNews

NGO Raises Alarm in Sahel as Conflict, Climate Change Claim More Victims
More than 16 million people affected by conflict and climate change in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger need humanitarian aid, according to an American NGO report published on Monday. This represents a 172 percent rise on 2016, the US International Rescue Committee said in its report on the Sahel region. The three countries are facing a deadly jihadist insurgency which began in Mali more than a decade ago, and most of the central Sahel “is highly exposed to changes in climate”, it warned. The report said temperatures are rising 1.5 times faster than the rest of the world with an increase of between two and 4.3 degrees Celsius projected by 2080. Dry seasons are becoming longer in parts of the Sahel, and rainfall more intense and erratic, meaning droughts and floods are set to intensify, it said. … The NGO also says “frequent military coups” – 17 in the region since 1960 – have disrupted economic policy and forced governments to concentrate their spending on defence. The organisation has called for immediate aid and investment in humanitarian access. RFI

Opposition Calls on President Macky Sall to Clarify Position on Third Term
Senegal’s President Macky Sall has not yet clarified whether he will run for a third mandate in the next presidential elections or not. Opposition presidential candidate Idrissa Seck blames the recent violence on Sall’s failure to make his intentions clear. … While the presidential camp blames the protesters, the opposition has denounced what it describes as an “abuse of power”. Opponent and presidential candidate Idrissa Seck is calling for calm, and on the Senegalese President, Macky Sall, to clarify his intentions for the next presidential election, in order to avoid more violence. He told RFI that “the problem with a third term is that even the prospect of it is causing turmoil.” He added: “We are seeing violence and upheaval in our typically peaceful streets. We have seen death. This is not good for our people. Nor is it good for Senegal’s global reach. This situation will only worsen if President Macky Sall announces a bid for a third term. It would be unprecedented and deeply damaging for Senegal.” Protesters are angry that President Macky Sall has refused to rule out running for a third term while Senegal has a two-term presidential limit. RFI

Senegal Shuts Overseas Consulates after Attacks in Several Cities Including Paris and Bordeaux
Senegal has temporarily closed its consulates abroad following attacks on diplomatic missions in Bordeaux, Milan, Paris and New York among others, the foreign affairs ministry said on Tuesday. The closures were announced in the wake of deadly unrest that broke out after a leading opposition figure, Ousmane Sonko, was handed a two-year jail sentence last week that is likely to prevent him from running for president in elections next year. At least 16 people were killed and hundreds injured as protesters clashed with security forces on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, making it the worst unrest to hit the West African country in decades. Private and public structures and businesses were looted and destroyed during the riots, including university buildings, petrol stations, banks, supermarkets, administrative buildings and bus stops. … The general consulate in Milan was particularly hard-hit, with passport making machines and identity cards destroyed, the ministry said. Services will resume once working materials and security are restored, it added. France24

Burundi: the Main Opposition Party Suspended
Burundi’s main opposition party, the National Council for Freedom (CNL), has seen its activities suspended by the Interior Ministry due to ” irregularities” during its last two congresses, it has been reported. learned in a letter made public on Tuesday. The party leadership denounced to AFP “a serious violation of the Constitution” and “an attempt to destabilize and weaken the CNL” in this country in the Great Lakes region regularly singled out for human rights violations. … In a letter addressed to [CNL President] Agathon Rwasa dated June 2 and made public on Tuesday, the minister mentions “irregularities” in relation to the statutes of the CNL, which provide in particular for the holding of a meeting of the political bureau before any congress. “All the activities organized by the bodies irregularly set up are suspended throughout the country” , he concludes, specifying that “only meetings organized with the aim of defusing tensions within the party are authorized”. The secretary general of the CNL, Simon Bizimungu , denounced to AFP “a serious violation of the Constitution and of the law on political parties which prohibits (…) any interference by public authorities in the functioning of parties”. … Presidential candidate of 2020, Mr. Rwasa had described as an “electoral charade” the victory of Evariste Ndayishimiye , who succeeded Pierre Nkurunziza , who died after having led Burundi with an iron fist for 15 years. AfricaNews/AFP

Cameroon Journalists Say Suspensions Are Sign of Government Crackdown
Journalists in Cameroon say the government’s indefinite shutdown of a radio station and suspension of four reporters is a sign of a growing crackdown on the country’s news media. The government says it is trying to stop the spread of hate speech, while journalists say officials want to retaliate against criticism of President Paul Biya. Bruno Bidjang, host of the popular program on Vision 4 TV called “Club d’Elite” has said on his program that he will continue exercising his profession to the best of his ability without fear. However, Cameroon’s National Communication Council, an organ created by the government to regulate the media, imposed a one-month suspension on Bidjang for hosting guests who the government says used hateful language on his program. … The council this week also imposed suspensions on a radio station and three other media practitioners for broadcasting offensive or hateful content. … But journalists in Cameroon say they are victims of increasing oppression. They say the government clamps down on media that hold contrary opinions to state actions. The Cameroon Journalists Trade Union said the NCC was set up by Biya to defend his interests and crack down on journalists who oppose his rule. The trade union said senior state functionaries and military officials who are accused of corrupt practices ask the NCC to suspend reporters — a charge the NCC denies. VOA

Benin: A New Constitutional Court with a Controversial Composition
The new Constitutional Court of Benin began its mandate on Tuesday, a jurisdiction with a composition criticized by the opposition, which denounces the absence of its representatives within this institution, in particular, responsible for supervising the 2026 elections. “We have no doubt that you will take on this task with responsibility and honour,” President Patrice Talon declared in Cotonou during an official ceremony. Of the seven new members of the High Court, three were appointed by the president and four by the deputies. The opposition denounced the choices of the National Assembly last week, deploring not having had a say. According to Les Démocrates, the main opposition formation, the appointment of members of the Court by the office of the Assembly must also take into account the parliamentary minority. … The composition of this court could prove crucial because its mission is to control the elections, the next of which, the legislative, municipal and presidential elections will all be held in 2026. AfricaNews/AFP

Kagame Sacks More Than 200 Soldiers Including Generals
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has sacked more than 200 soldiers including senior military officers from the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF). Maj Gen Aloys Muganga – the commander of the army’s mechanised division who served as commander of the reserve forces from 2018 to 2019 – and Brig Gen Francis Mutiganda, who headed the external security in the national intelligence service, are among 14 senior officers who have been sacked. … The statement gave no reason for the sacking of those 244 soldiers, announced in the early hours of Wednesday. The move comes a day after Mr Kagame reshuffled top military officers, firing a defence minister and army chief at the same time and announcing their replacements – uncommon in Rwanda. … Brig Gen Mutiganda had been head of external security in the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) until 2018 when Mr Kagame redeployed him to RDF headquarters in the capital Kigali. The reshuffle and sacking come at a time of heightened tension between Rwanda and its western neighbour DR Congo, each side accusing the other of working with a rebel group to topple the government. BBC

Sierra Leone, Algeria Two Others Elected Non-Permanent Members of UN Security Council
United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday in New York elected Sierra Leone, Algeria, Guyana, the Republic of Korea and Slovenia as non-permanent members of its Security Council. The five newly elected countries join Ecuador, Japan, Malta, Mozambique and Switzerland as non-permanent members of the Council. The five new members will take up seats currently occupied by Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates when their two-year terms end on Dec. 31. The elected countries will join the premier body in maintaining international peace and security starting from January 2024. … The 10 non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly which comprises all 193 UN member-states and is in line with geographical distribution by region. Vanguard

Mozambique: Total Revives $20 Billion African Gas Dream as Jihadist Nightmare Fades
The French energy giant is slowly restarting its LNG project in Mozambique, helping the country’s northern cities return to normal. … Two years ago most of Palma’s residents fled in fear as rebels linked with Islamic State rampaged through the town, killing dozens, looting shops and besieging a hotel where more than 100 people had sought refuge. The real prize for the rebels was five miles south of town: a seaside patch of land about the size of Manhattan that’s home to a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project led by France’s TotalEnergies SE. Two years after Total arrived to predictions that the facility would make Mozambique a major gas exporter and supercharge its economy, construction abruptly stopped. Since Mozambique appealed to Rwanda and nearby countries for help pushing back the rebels, their numbers have dwindled to fewer than 300, from more than 2,500 in 2021, according to the United Nations. Some vehicles in the area still travel in armed convoys, but attacks by the insurgents are increasingly rare. Although Palma’s revival is far from complete, its population has rebounded to more than the 75,000 people it had before the conflict. Walls are pockmarked with bullet holes, and many buildings are black shells where shattered roof tiles crunch underfoot, but tents providing some government services have popped up. Bloomberg

Nigerian Air Force Belatedly Owns Up to Airstrike That Killed 39 along Nasarawa-Benue Border—Report
The Nigerian Air Force has finally taken responsibility for the deadly airstrike on Kwatiri, a rural community in Nasarawa State, North-central Nigeria, after months of uncertainties about the identities of the attackers, a new report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said. The organisation, which investigates and reports on human rights abuses worldwide, said its investigations confirmed 39 persons were killed and six others injured in the airstrike that occurred on 24 January. Latest media reports have indicated higher tolls resulting from the incident. HRW, a not-for-profit organisation, said in a statement announcing the release of its new report on Tuesday that “Nigerian authorities have provided little information and no justice” with regard to the airstrike. Although the authorities admitted carrying out the raid, the organisation said, they evaded “key questions” concerning the circumstances surrounding the attack. … The air force claimed that the airstrike was carried out in response to “suspected terrorist” activities but provided no details, the report released on Tuesday said. Premium Times

In Kenya, Lions Are Speared to Death as Human–Wildlife Conflict Worsens amid Drought
Parkeru Ntereka lost almost half of his goat herd to hungry lions that wandered into his pen located near Kenya’s iconic Amboseli national park. The 56-year-old’s loss made headlines in the east African country as it led to the spearing to death of six lions in retaliation by the Maasai people, who have co-existed with wild animals for centuries. The killings highlighted the growing human-wildlife conflict in parts of east Africa that conservationists say has been exacerbated by a yearslong drought. At the same time, the predator population within the parks has increased. Hunger and thirst can send them into communities. Ntereka said losing 12 goats is a huge loss for his large family. “I sell these livestock in order to afford school fees. I don’t know how I will afford secondary school fees for some of my children,” said the father of eight. AP

Guinea Bissau: ECOWAS Hails Vote Seeking End to Instability
Some 200 international observers were on hand to monitor this year’s proceedings for a single round vote based on proportional representation to elect 102 lawmakers. Under the current political system, the majority party or coalition appoints the government, but the president can dismiss it in certain circumstances. Observers have commended legislative elections held in Guinea Bissau on Sunday called by a president pushing constitutional change after years of instability in the tiny West African state. Nearly 900,000 voters were registered to vote, and results are expected on Tuesday. According to the National Election Commission, around 200 observers were in Guinea-Bissau to oversee the vote. They included an ECOWAS mission led by former Cape Verdean President Jorge Carlos Fonseca, an African Unionmission headed by former Mozambican President Joaquim Chissano, and a mission from the Community of Portuguese Language Countries led by the former Timorese vice-minister of foreign affairs, Alberto Carlos. The head of the ECOWAS election observation mission, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, told DW that he was pleased with what he saw on the ground. He praised the civism of the Guinean voters demonstrated throughout the voting. DW

Cabinet to Consider Moving BRICS Summit to China
Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting will see a proposal for South Africa to co-chair the BRICS Summit with China. At this stage, the summit is scheduled to take place in Johannesburg in August. South Africa finds itself in a position where it has to seek an alternative country to host this year’s BRICS Summit. This is seen as a means of solving Pretoria’s quandary about Russian President Vladimir Putin entering the country to attend the summit. Sources told Daily Maverick that the legal opinion sought by the BRICS-appointed technical team and presented to the interministerial committee (IMC) headed by Deputy President Paul Mashatile gave an adverse finding about Putin attending the summit. Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said, “The IMC met yesterday and discussed the various permutations with respect to our hosting of the BRICS summit. They will present their recommendation to the President. An announcement will be made once the decision has been finalised.” Daily Maverick understands that South Africa is already in talks with China about the possibility of sharing the host status this year. Daily Maverick

‘It’s Like a Death Pit’: How Ghana Became Fast Fashion’s Dumping Ground
Yvette Yaa Konadu Tetteh’s epic swim down the River Volta highlights the damage done to the country’s waterways by an out-of-control trade in secondhand clothes from the global north, and why it’s time for change. t’s mid-morning on a sunny day and Yvette Yaa Konadu Tetteh’s arms and legs barely make a splash as she powers along the blue-green waters of the River Volta in Ghana. This is the last leg of a journey that has seen Tetteh cover 450km (280 miles) in 40 days to become the first person known to swim the length of the waterway. It’s an epic mission but with a purpose: to find out whatis in the water and raise awareness of pollution in Ghana. Ghana imports about 15m items of secondhand clothing each week, known locally as obroni wawu or “dead white man’s clothes”. In 2021, Ghana imported $214m (£171m) of used clothes, making it the world’s biggest importer. As fast fashion – cheap clothes bought and cast aside as trends change – has grown, the volume of clothing coming to the market has increased while the quality has gone down. … About two miles from the market lies Old Fadama … the largest unsanctioned dump for clothing waste leaving Kantamanto, the Or Foundation believes. The area is home to at least 80,000 people – many have migrated from northern Ghana where the climate crisis is affecting farming; their houses are built on layers of rubbish. Guardian