Africa Media Review for March 24, 2022

At Least 7 Dead in Somalia After Al-Shabab Attacks
At least seven people were killed in two attacks Wednesday, with the militant group al-Shabab claiming responsibility for both, police in Somalia said. At least six people are dead after two gunmen attacked Mogadishu’s heavily guarded international airport. The dead include a Somali national and five foreigners, according to police. Two gunmen were killed by security forces, according to police spokesman Major Abdifatah Aden Hassan. Hassan said one of the foreigners was a soldier with the African Union peacekeeping mission AMISOM. He said four others were trainers helping the Somali government with explosives training. The al-Shabab militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Hassan told VOA that two men attacked the Marine gate of the airport Wednesday afternoon and were “confronted” by security forces. The airport hosts the headquarters of the AMISOM and most of the foreign diplomats in Mogadishu. Voice of America

Prominent Somali Woman Lawmaker Among 15 Killed in Bombing
A prominent Somali woman lawmaker is among at least 15 people killed in a suicide bombing that hit a polling station in rural central Somalia, police said Thursday. The attack took place late Wednesday in the town of Beledweyne, the capital of Somalia’s Hiran region. Among its victims was opposition lawmaker Amina Mohamed Abdi, an outspoken government critic who was campaigning to retain her seat in the National Assembly…“I was at a walking distance to the polling station when a suicide bomber rushed towards the member of parliament Amina and embraced her and blew himself up,” eyewitness Dhaqane Hassan said. “Shots were fired in the air by the soldiers who seemed shocked, but unfortunately she instantly died at the scene.” AP

Libya Tensions Simmer in Shadow of Ukraine War
With the world focused on Ukraine, UN mediators are trying to avoid a political crisis degenerating into new violence in Libya, where Russia has long been a major player. The war-battered North African country found itself with two governments earlier this month after the eastern-based House of Representatives appointed ex-interior minister Fathi Bashagha in a challenge to the Tripoli-based premier, Abdulhamid Dbeibah. Bashagha came to power on the back of an alliance with eastern Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar, Moscow’s main ally in Libya with backing from the Kremlin-linked Wagner paramilitary group. But Dbeibah, who was installed last year as part of a United Nations-led peace process, has insisted he will only cede power to an elected administration. Bashagha has ruled out using force to dislodge his rival, but the standoff has sparked fears of a return to violence in a country that has seen a decade of chaos since the 2011 revolt that toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi. France24

Over 6,000 Displaced in Gambia After Senegal Separatist Fighting Flare-Up
More than 6,000 people have fled their homes in Gambia and Senegal following clashes between Senegalese soldiers and separatists near the Gambian border earlier this month, Gambia’s government said Tuesday. The Senegalese military launched an operation on March 13 against rebels fighting for independence in the West African country’s southern Casamance region, which borders Gambia. Fighting pushed 691 people in Casamance to cross over and seek refuge in Gambia, a tiny nation of around 2 million inhabitants almost entirely surrounded by Senegal, said its National Disaster Management Agency in an assessment of the aftermath. A further 5,626 people were displaced within the Gambia itself after Senegalese bullets landed in border villages. Reuters

Nigeria: Dutch Court Rejects Suit of ‘Ogoni Nine’ Widows Against Shell
A Dutch court has thrown out a suit against Shell brought by four widows of activists who were executed by late Nigerian military leader Sani Abacha in 1995 after protests against the company’s exploitation of the oil-rich Niger Delta. The court said there was not enough evidence to support the widows’ claim that Shell had been involved in bribing witnesses related to the case. In 2019, the court had handed the widows a rare win in their long-running battle by allowing the case to continue. But it had also said the claimants needed to prove Shell’s liability. Shell has always denied wrongdoing. Esther Kiobel, whose husband Barinem Kiobel was among those executed, said she would file an appeal at The Hague. “We can’t do it in Nigeria because they [the government] are the collaborators,” she said. “I want their [activists] names exonerated. That’s what I want and that’s what I’m fighting for.” Al Jazeera

Mali Attaches Conditions to Handing Over Late PM’s Body, Says Family
Relatives of the late former prime minister of Mali say the country’s military government has refused to turn over his body unless they agree not to request an autopsy. Soumeylou Boubèye Maiga died March 21, 2022, at a Bamako hospital after seven months in detention. Maiga served under former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, who was deposed in a 2020 coup. Maiga was arrested in August 2021 on charges of fraud. His health deteriorated while in jail, and his family repeatedly sought permission to get him released for treatment. For the last three months, he has been under guard at a Bamako clinic…The spokesperson for a group of opposition parties, Ismael Sacko, talked to VOA from Bamako via a messaging app. Sacko said Maiga’s death could have been a form of political assassination, so an investigation is crucial. Voice of America

Hundreds ‘Disappeared,’ Tortured in Uganda – HRW
The Ugandan government has failed to hold to account security officials who have unlawfully detained and tortured hundreds of government critics, opposition supporters, peaceful protesters, and others, Human Rights Watch said in a new report. The 62-page report, “‘I Only Need Justice’: Unlawful Detention and Abuse in Unauthorized Places of Detention in Uganda” documents enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, torture, and other ill-treatment by the police, army, military intelligence, and Uganda’s domestic intelligence body, the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), most in unlawful places of detention in 2018, 2019, and around the January 2021 general elections. DefenceWeb

Victory for Press Freedom in Tanzania, but DRC Bans Newspaper
A newspaper banned in Tanzania five years ago, has been allowed to publish again, while in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), another newspaper has been suspended for the next six months. Mawio, a leading Tanzanian newspaper, was shelved in 2017 after authorities accused it of “jeopardising national security” when it published a series of stories over two former heads of state – the late Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete – linking them to corruption in the country’s mining sector. News24

Russia-Ukraine War Is Hurting Zimbabwe’s Struggling Economy
With Russia and Ukraine exporting about a quarter of the world’s wheat, those prices too have been shooting up globally since the start of the invasion. Its ripple effects are hitting developing nations like Zimbabwe hard as supplies of these products are disrupted both by the war and the sanctions that have since been imposed by the West on Russia and some of its allies. For Zimbabwe, it is worse as it heavily relies on Eastern nations including Russia, China, Belarus and Singapore for trade and gets at least half of its wheat from Russia. But with wheat prices up nearly 15 percent in early March from 119,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($595) to 136,544 Zimbabwe dollars ($682) per metric tonne, residents have to pay more for bread. The rising fuel and bread prices have in turn triggered a wave of price hikes of basic commodities around the country, worsening the situation for many Zimbabweans who are already grappling with widespread poverty amid stagnant salaries, uncontrolled inflation due to economic mismanagement and corruption by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. Al Jazeera

Egypt Turns to IMF Seeking Help for Economy Amid Ukraine Shock
Egypt is seeking support from the International Monetary Fund, possibly including a new loan, as its economy comes under pressure amid fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine. Egypt’s Cabinet said the country has requested discussions on a new program that “may include additional financing.” Earlier on Wednesday, IMF mission chief Celine Allard said fund staff are “working closely” with officials in Cairo to prepare for talks on a program that would “mitigate the impact of this shock on the Egyptian economy.”…Egypt is one of the Middle East’s most indebted nations, and a major food importer.  Surging prices of energy and grains as a result of the Ukraine war, along with rising interest rates in the developed world, have increased the risks to its economy. Bloomberg

Turkey Urges Libya To Avoid Steps That Could Renew Clashes
Turkey urged Libya to refrain from any steps that would lead to renewed conflict and called on authorities to follow democratic processes, amid a crisis over control of executive power in the country. Libya’s political crisis has escalated since the collapse of a scheduled election in December that was planned as part of a peace process to reunify the country after years of chaos and war following a 2011 NATO-backed uprising. Turkey has provided military support and training to Libya’s former internationally recognised Government of National Accord, and helped it fight off an assault lasting several months on the capital Tripoli by eastern Libyan forces led by Khalifa Haftar. It still has military personnel and Syrian militia fighters in Libya. Reuters

North Darfur Wali: ‘Climate Change Droughts Feeding Conflicts Over Water’
The Acting Wali (Governor) of North Darfur, Hafez Bakheet, has warned of the negative effects of climate changes that have occurred in the states of Darfur in recent decades. He said that one of the most prominent of these climatic changes is the lack of rainfall that occurred in Darfur, which led to a significant decline in surface water reserves and the outbreak of ongoing conflicts over water resources. Dabanga

Africa Grapples With Climate Finance Issue
From cyclones in the south, to floods and drought in the east: Climate change is already leaving its mark on the African continent. Although Africa accounts for the world’s smallest share of global greenhouse gas emissions — just 3.8% — it’s paying a severe price for a crisis it did little to help create. Many experts acknowledge that climate finance is crucial for Africa to be able to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. Over a decade ago, wealthy nations pledged $100 billion (€91 billion) a year to developing nations by 2020 for this very purpose. Now — two years past the deadline — developed countries estimate they won’t fulfill this pledge until 2023. And they’re under increasing pressure to make good on their promise. “We need to understand that Africa is warming faster than the entire globe,” Richard Munang, the Africa climate change coordinator at the UN Environment Program (UNEP) told DW. “The challenges of food insecurity and the socio-economic challenges that we are facing will only continue and put Africa in a very precarious situation. What is needed now is adaptation that drives resilience of communities.” DW



Photo: Adam Jones