Africa Media Review for March 10, 2021

Autocracy and Instability in Africa
The lack of legitimacy and accountability are at the root of many of Africa’s armed conflicts, reflecting an inability of these political systems to accommodate participation, contestation, and power-sharing. Sixteen African countries are experiencing sustained armed conflict. While each is the result of unique, context-specific circumstances, some general patterns are evident. Chief among these is the role of governance. Three-quarters of the African countries facing armed conflict (12 out of 16) have either autocratic or semi-authoritarian governments. [Infographic] Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Inclusive Political Process Key to Sudan’s Transition, Security Council Hears
The political transition in Sudan is moving forward, though formation of the legislative council and other important milestones have yet to be achieved, the head of the new UN mission in the country told a virtual meeting of the Security Council on Tuesday. Volker Perthes delivered his first briefing to ambassadors after five weeks at the helm of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), whose mandate includes supporting progress towards democratic governance. The ongoing transition to democracy began following months of street protests which led to the overthrow of longstanding leader, President Omar Al-Bashir, in April 2019. Last October, Sudanese authorities and several armed groups from Darfur signed an historic peace agreement to end decades of conflict. A new cabinet, announced in February, is built on power-sharing between civilians, the military and armed movements. UN News

Uganda’s Bobi Wine Calls for Peaceful Protests after Polls
Ugandan opposition figure Bobi Wine is calling for peaceful protests in the aftermath of presidential elections, charging that electoral authorities are “grappling with forged results” that showed victory for President Yoweri Museveni. Wine, a singer and lawmaker whose real name is Kyagulanyi Sentamu, spoke on Tuesday, the day after police warned in a statement that some opposition politicians were planning “nationwide violent demonstrations and riots beginning with Kampala,” the capital. That statement warned that police had “deployed strategically to counter these illegal acts.” Wine on Tuesday asserted that the East African country’s constitution allows peaceful protests. “Ugandans must now rise to the occasion and resist Museveni and his regime of blood,” he said. “As we have been saying, we are nonviolent and lawful. Our philosophy stands firm. People power is stronger than the people in power.” AP

Africa CDC Director on the Continent’s Outlook for Vaccinations
Dr. John Nkengasong, the director for the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, says one reason for the low number of deaths so far is Africa’s young population — the median age there is about 20 years old, and the recovery rate is high. But a year into the pandemic, African countries are met with newer, more complex challenges — like navigating inequities surrounding the vaccine, critical shortages in oxygen and staving off a variant that emerged in South Africa that has already managed to creep into dozens of other countries. At the head of all this is Nkengasong, who coordinates COVID-19 response across the continent. “Vaccines are just now beginning to arrive on the continent,” he tells NPR. By one count, Africa has administered less than 2% of the more 300 million doses that have gone out already across the world. … “We need to be able to roll out vaccines through major cities and also expand into remote areas as quickly as possible. That requires extraordinary logistics and unprecedented efforts that we have never done on the continent. As a matter of fact the continent of Africa has never vaccinated more than 100 million people in one year, so this is going to be a historic effort.” NPR

Libya’s Interim PM-Designate Calls for Departure of Mercenaries
Libya’s interim PM-designate Abdul Hamid Dbeibah has called for the departure of some 20,000 foreign fighters present in the country as he made the case for his proposed Cabinet lineup at parliamentary talks. “The mercenaries are a stab in our back – they must leave,” interim premier Dbeibah told Parliament on Tuesday, adding that he would coordinate with the United Nations and the fighters’ countries of origin to arrange for their withdrawal. “Our sovereignty is violated by their presence.” … Last week, an advance team of a UN observer mission arrived in Libya tasked with monitoring the ceasefire and verifying the departure of the thousands of foreign fighters. In December last year, the UN said about 20,000 mercenaries and foreign fighters were still in Libya and a January 23 deadline for their withdrawal passed without any sign of them pulling out. Al Jazeera

Flights Resume between Rival Libya Cities after 7 Years
Flights between the eastern Libya city of Benghazi and the western city of Misrata were restored Tuesday after a near seven year absence, the latest tentative step towards national reconciliation. An Afriqiyah Airways plane that took off from Benghazi touched down at Misrata airport at around 9:00 am (0700 GMT), the national airline said. Residents welcomed the arriving plane “with much joy,” added the airline, which is programming four flights per week between the two cities. … A ceasefire in October last year and the selection last month of a prime minister designate — approved by both main regional fiefdoms — has brought hope that a new interim government can lead the country to elections in December. Alongside setting up a unified government, the October ceasefire also provided for the reopening of key air and land routes. AFP

Rescuers Find 39 Bodies off Tunisia after Two Boats Sink
At least 39 migrants have drowned off Tunisia when two boats capsized, the defence ministry has said, as numbers risking the dangerous crossing to Europe continued to rise. Rescuers pulled 165 survivors from the foundering boats to safety on Tuesday. Defence ministry spokesman Mohamed Zekri said later that the search had been “temporarily suspended due to nightfall and bad weather.” It was not immediately clear what caused both boats to capsize, but vessels leaving the north African coast for Europe are often heavily overloaded makeshift crafts, departing at night even in rough weather to avoid detection from the coastguard. … The boats left shore overnight carrying mainly migrants from sub-Saharan Africa aiming to reach Europe, but they were spotted by the coastguard off the Tunisian port of Sfax, according to the authorities. Last year saw an upsurge of makeshift boats attempting to cross the central Mediterranean, the deadliest route for would-be migrants to Europe. AFP

Violence a Concern Ahead of Central African Republic Election
The U.N. human rights office is raising the alarm about the risk of renewed violence during the second round of legislative elections in the Central African Republic next Sunday.  December’s parliamentary vote and presidential election in the CAR was marked by widespread violence and human rights abuses. U.N. officials are worried about a repeat of that scenario.  The U.N. human rights office has documented 185 incidents of human rights violations and abuses from October through December. Human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says armed groups were responsible for most of these actions.  “They killed and abducted civilians, fired live ammunition to intimidate the population, attacked U.N. peacekeepers — killing seven in December and January and they burned down polling stations, and destroyed election materials… State agents and their allies have reportedly arbitrarily killed civilians, as well as tortured, ill-treated and arbitrarily arrested people,” she said. VOA

Gang Kidnaps 25 Villagers in Central Nigeria
A criminal gang has kidnapped 25 villagers in two separate incidents in central Nigeria’s Niger state, an area notorious for banditry and abductions, a local official said on Tuesday. Dozens of gunmen, known locally as bandits, sneaked into Kutunku village in Wushishi district around 0030 GMT on Monday while residents were asleep and abducted 24 people, Ismail Modibbo Kagara, political administrator in charge of the area, told AFP. “The bandits moved house to house, stealing from their victims before taking 24 people along with them,” he said. “They then went to neighboring Adidi village where they kidnapped a resident.” Kagara said the gunmen left their motorcycles outside Kutunku and walked into the village so as not to alert residents. … Last week, 18 travelers were abducted in the area when their vehicles were stopped at a bogus checkpoint mounted by bandits. Last month, 42 people, including 27 students, were abducted from a boarding school in nearby Kagara. The Defense Post with AFP

Mauritius Pumps Fuel from Chinese Ship That Ran Aground
Workers in Mauritius on Tuesday began pumping 130 tons of fuel from a Chinese fishing vessel that ran aground on a coral reef on the Indian Ocean island’s west coast. The grounded ship has spilled a small amount of fuel into the ocean, but its hull remains intact, according to the local newspaper, L’Express. Police helicopters are helping to remove the diesel fuel and oil lubricant because the ship is stranded in shallow waters inaccessible to tugboats, the newspaper reported. It is expected to take up to five days to empty the ship and remove it from the reef, it said. … The quick efforts to remove all fuel from the Chinese ship comes after the island’s officials took nearly two weeks to respond in July last year when a bulk carrier ship was stranded on the southeast coast of Mauritius. Battered by waves, the hull of that ship, the Japanese Wakashio, broke in two, causing a spill of about 1,000 tons of fuel. That oil spill caused significant damage to the island’s environmentally pristine reserve. AP

United States and Kenya Strengthen Security Partnership
Major General Andrew M Rohling, the US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa commander, visited Kenya between 2 and 5 March on an official tour to broaden and strengthen the security partnership between the United States and Kenya. “The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with Kenya in our mutual objective to keep Kenyans and Americans safe through support and cooperation across all branches of the Kenya Defence Forces, including annual education and training, shared intelligence and surveillance, joint military exercises, high quality military equipment, and pandemic response,” Africa Command (Africom) said. Rohling officiated at a ceremony laying a foundation stone for a new simulator facility at the Kenya Army School of Infantry in Isiolo, part of $4 million (approximately Ksh 438 million) in current US government support to training infrastructure enhancements at the School of Infantry. This project, developed in close coordination with KDF senior leadership, will significantly improve the quality of training received by the roughly 3 000 KDF personnel who train at the school each year before deploying to combat operations, Africom said. defenceWeb

Ageing DR Congo Artists Keep Music of the Miners Alive
The cone-shaped slag heap in the south eastern Congolese city of Lubumbashi is a mighty symbol of the time when copper was king. In that heady era, a vibrant and distinctive culture of music and dancing sprouted among miners who worked for DR Congo’s state giant, Gecamines. Today, just a small number of performers are still around to play the songs and do the dances, and recount what it was like in the glory days. One of them is Marcel Tshibanda, once a guitarist with a Jecoke group — a troupe of employees who were paid by Gecamines’ social club to sing and dance for mining communities in their spare time. Their music had a distinctive, calypso-y beat and the dancers dressed in smart long-tailed suits, wowing the crowds with snappy trademark moves. … Gecamines retains its central role in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s economic strategy. But its focus these days is cobalt, the key mineral in batteries for electronic devices. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones