Africa Media Review for March 23, 2023

Along the Volta, African Commandos Train to Battle Terrorists by Land and Sea
… The United States and its allies in the region say [the two-week U.S.-led event, called Flintlock and held in Ghana and Ivory Coast this year] and similar events will help build a bulwark against terrorist groups that have swept south from Mali in recent years, spread across the Sahel and now threaten the coastal states of West Africa. … U.S. special operations planners added sessions on the rule of law to the training. The week of academic instruction included sessions on the law of armed conflict, which covered concepts like proportional use of force and the protection of civilians, in addition to more traditional topics in previous years on the rules of engagement at the tactical level, such as when deadly force can be used. But perhaps even more significant, prosecutors and judges from the host nations were invited this year to help the participants see their broader role in counterterrorist actions. In training for missions, the soldiers would step aside once any shooting stopped, allowing civilian or military police to process the scene and collect evidence that could be used in prosecuting suspected terrorists in court. … Small units of military special operation troops teamed with civilian law enforcement officers may be the future of counterterrorism in this part of Africa. New York Times

African Union Urges Nearly $90 Million for Its Somali Force
The African Union appealed for nearly $90 million Wednesday for its peacekeeping force in Somalia, which is providing support to its military forces battling al-Shabab extremists. Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, the AU commissioner for political affairs, peace and security, told two reporters that the more than 19,600-strong AU force won’t be able to function properly and help the Somalis unless that funding gap is filled. A year ago, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, known as ATMIS, to support the Somalis until their forces take full responsibility for the country’s security at the end of 2024. … Adeoye said the current Somali government is doing what many in the past never did — launch a full-scale offensive against al-Shabab instead of responding to al-Shabab attacks — and “there’s a need to encourage that offensive onslaught.” … The United States has increased its military assistance to Somalia as it has seen success in battling al-Shabab, with 61 tons of weapons and ammunition arriving in the capital Mogadishu on March 1. AP

Ethiopian Lawmakers Remove Tigray Group From Terror List
Ethiopian lawmakers have removed the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front from the country’s list of designated terror groups more than four months after a peace agreement ended a conflict that killed hundreds of thousands of people. Wednesday’s decision highlights the improving relations between federal officials and Tigray regional ones and moves the region closer to the establishment of an interim government. The TPLF dominated Ethiopian politics for close to three decades before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. The Tigray conflict began in late 2020. Most of Ethiopia’s 547 lawmakers voted to remove the TPLF from the terror list, with 61 objections and five abstentions, according to the state-run Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. … Kindeya Gebrehiwot, a senior TPLF official, told The Associated Press the removal will be a “very good step in moving the peace agreement forward.” AP

Rights Experts: Violations in Ethiopia Must Be Investigated to Ensure Durable Peace
U.N. human rights experts warn that peace in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region will not last unless violations committed during more than two years of armed conflict are investigated and perpetrators held to account. The three-member U.N. International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia, which presented its latest report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Tuesday, welcomed the November 2 peace agreement that ended hostilities between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF. Since the peace agreement was signed, “the region has witnessed a significant and so far, sustained reduction in conflict,” said Mohamed Chande Othman, chair of the commission. … Despite these positive developments, Othman told the Human Rights Council the gravity and scale of violations committed in Ethiopia since the war’s outbreak in November 2020 must not be forgotten. “Our 2022 September report found reasonable grounds to believe that all parties to the conflict had committed war crimes and violations and abuses of human rights since fighting erupted in November 2020,” he said. … “We strongly urge the [Ethiopian] government to reconsider its decision not to cooperate with the commission,” he said. “Under international law, the federal government has the primary responsibility to ensure accountability for crimes committed during the conflict.” VOA

Niger Army Says 20 Jihadists Killed at Nigeria Border
Niger’s army said its troops had killed around 20 jihadists and arrested 83 others in an operation against militants on its southeastern border with Nigeria. Troops supported by air power attacked jihadists who have been using Matari forest in Nigeria as a rear base for attacks in Niger, it said in a bulletin seen by AFP on Wednesday. … The operation was carried out from March 13-19 by Nigerien troops in the Multinational Joint Task Force, a seven-year-old four-country force aimed at rolling back jihadism in the Lake Chad region, it said. … The Niger army bulletin said the latest operation aimed at maintaining pressure on ISWAP by attacking its forest bolthole and cutting off lines of supply. Three bases, supply dumps, and motorbikes were destroyed and weapons were seized, it said. … The latest operation comes on the heels of an operation in southeastern Niger against Boko Haram followers who were reportedly fleeing ISWAP. … “Around 30 terrorists were neutralized” and 960 other people, most of whom were women and children, were detained, taken to the town of Diffa, and handed over to the Nigerian military authorities, it said. AFP

Nigeria Launches Counter-terrorism Centre to Tackle Insecurity
Having lost more than 65,000 people to insurgency and terrorism in 14 years, Nigeria has launched a national counter-terrorism centre to optimize efforts in addressing security challenges. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the modern facilities and infrastructure which will be used to effectively coordinate national security and counter-terrorism efforts. … At the inauguration of the new Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC) on Tuesday in Abuja, Buhari said the state-of-the-art facilities will provide Nigeria’s incoming administration with infrastructure to effectively coordinate national security and counter-terrorism efforts. EastAfrican

Ugandan Law Criminalizes Being LGBTQ Amid Crackdown on Homosexuality
The new bill, which is likely to be challenged in court, prohibits advocacy for LGBTQ rights and mandates people to report the community to law enforcement. Same-sex intercourse is already criminalized in the country and rights group said the latest law expanding restrictions would violate fundamental rights of expression, privacy and nondiscrimination. … Public figures in Uganda routinely use disparaging language for LGBTQ people and in recent months the government has clamped down on groups advocating for them. LGBTQ people often face arbitrary arrests and mob violence. … Fox Odoi-Oywelowo, one of the few lawmakers who opposed the bill, called it repugnant and retrogressive. “The bill targets a minority,” he said, adding, that it infringes on several articles of the constitution. … One young lawyer, who fled to Kenya after being outed by a newspaper in 2016, said the bill meant anyone could be accused and jailed. “This is the perfect way to take away the enemy of the state, the opposition, anyone against government. This law is danger to both straight and queer people. This is a weapon that can be used against anybody,” said the lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fears for his safety. Washington Post

Malawi President Seeks More Support for Cyclone Victims
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera is appealing for additional humanitarian assistance for thousands of Malawians displaced by Cyclone Freddy, which has killed more than 500 people in the country. Chakwera made the urgent request to Malawi’s parliament on Wednesday, when he was presenting an assessment of the impact of the cyclone, which also hit Mozambique. Though the country is receiving a lot of local and international assistance for the victims, he said, more aid is needed. “So many have responded positively to our appeal, and I have personally committed to acknowledge every support, for the situation is so grave that we simply cannot take any contribution for granted,” he told lawmakers. “However, the supplies we are deploying are far from enough for the magnitude of the need.” Malawi’s Disaster Management Affairs Department says there are more than 500,000 people who have been displaced living at 534 camps. VOA

What VP Harris’s Visit Means to Tanzania
Ms Harris and her delegation will visit three African countries – Tanzania, Ghana and Zambia from 25 March to 2 April to discuss regional and global priorities, including shared commitment to democracy, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, food security, and the effects of war between Russia Ukraine,” according to a readout from her office. … Through its official twitter handle @usembassytz, it said that, the visit is in response to President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s invitation. … “Under Dr Samia’s leadership, Tanzania has continued to flourish. It remains a vivid example of what democracy and open markets can do for a nation that is determined. Over the past few years, our economy has grown steadily, and Tanzanians are enjoying an independent judiciary, a lively Parliament, and a thriving civil society. The United States needs strong partners like Tanzania,” [Dr Hildebrand Shayo] said. Daily News

Equatorial Guinea Confirms 8 New Cases of Marburg Virus
Equatorial Guinea has confirmed another eight cases of the “highly virulent” Marburg virus, a deadly hemorrhagic fever with no authorized vaccine or treatment. The World Health Organization on Thursday said that brings the country’s total number of cases to nine in the outbreak declared in mid-February. There are two known current outbreaks of Marburg on the African continent. Tanzania this week announced eight cases of Marburg, including five deaths. One of the people killed was a health worker. “Our pathogen genomics team will sequence samples from both places … and see if there is a relationship between the current two outbreaks,” the acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, told journalists on Thursday. He said results should be known within the week. AP

Angola Joins Fight Against Illicit Financial Flows
Angola recently joined the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes (Global Forum), an initiative that seeks to foster tax transparency. “We are delighted to welcome Angola as the latest Global Forum member,” said chairperson Gaël Perraud. “The steadily growing Global Forum membership underlines the importance given to tax transparency by the international community and demonstrates the resolve of governments to join forces in the fight against tax evasion and avoidance.” The move makes Angola the 166th member — and 35th African member — of the Global Forum. The Global Forum implements international standards guiding taxation, tackling bank secrecy and tax evasion. In a 2020 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), it was estimated that African countries lose $88.6 billion annually to illicit financial activities. … “Illicit financial activities deplete public finances … and pose a risk to the stability of global financial markets” said Bernd Schlenther, an illicit financial flows expert at the African Tax Institute of the University of Pretoria. Angola is among countries that have in the past been poorly ranked in ease of doing business indexes, partly because of gaps in taxation transparency. Bird Story Agency

‘Women Get It Done’: Ireti Kingibe, Abuja’s New Senator, Plans for Progressive Nigeria
Ireti Kingibe is not the usual Nigerian politician. Four years ago, the engineer wife of a former minister was considering leaving the country for the US or Britain, or at least going on a cruise. The self-declared idealist was “profoundly disappointed” with how Africa’s most populous country was being run. “I told everybody I was done with politics and went indoors,” she said in an interview. Not long after, Kingibe’s phone started buzzing; minor parties were impressed by her independent spirit. In 2022, she joined the Labour party, led by the outsider presidential candidate Peter Obi, and then in last month’s elections the 68-year-old was the surprise winner in the race to become senator for the capital, Abuja. In a move practically unheard of in Nigeria, Kingibe has pledged to donate her salary to an “emergency” fund to support her policies, which are focused on redistributing wealth in the city and its poor rural environs. … Nigeria elected just 18 women to its 469-seat parliament in last month’s election, down from 21 in the last general election in 2019. The number of women in the senate is falling from eight to three. Those figures leave Nigeria 180th out of 186 countries ranked by the Inter-Parliamentary Union for female parliamentary representation, and last in Africa. Guardian