Africa Media Review for March 25, 2022

Ethiopia: Tigrayan Fighters Agree to ‘Cessation of Hostilities’
Tigrayan rebels have agreed to a “cessation of hostilities”, a turning point in the nearly 17-month war in northern Ethiopia following the government’s announcement of an indefinite humanitarian truce a day earlier. In a statement sent to AFP early on Friday, the rebels said that they were “committed to implementing a cessation of hostilities effective immediately,” and urged Ethiopian authorities to hasten the delivery of emergency aid into Tigray, where hundreds of thousands face starvation…On Thursday, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government declared a surprise truce, saying it hoped the move would ease humanitarian access to Tigray and “pave the way for the resolution of the conflict” in northern Ethiopia. Al Jazeera

Fighting Resumes in South Sudan, Threatens Peace Agreement
Fresh fighting broke out between rival soldiers in South Sudan, threatening a fragile peace agreement forged with the help of outsiders including the United States. Sporadic fighting was reported Thursday in Upper Nile state, according to spokesmen for the rival groups. Army Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai Koang, spokesman for South Sudanese government troops, charged that rival forces — known officially as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army In Opposition — had “declared war” in attacking their positions in Longechuk County. Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesman for the rival forces, said government troops attacked first. His group’s political bureau on Tuesday had approved the suspension of its participation in meetings of the security mechanisms holding together the peace deal between President Salva Kiir and his rival Vice President Riek Machar. AP

Protester Killed in Sudan’s Anti-Coup Protests
A protester was shot dead and dozens wounded on Thursday in fresh protests across the country rejecting the military coup that isolated the country against and aggravated the economic crisis in Sudan. Following a two-day blockade of the Sudanese capital streets, thousands of protesters gathered in Khartoum city before heading to the Republican Palace chanting pro-democracy slogans. In Khartoum, the security forces used excessive force to disperse the protesters and prevent them from reaching the headquarters of the military-led Sovereign Council. Also, they arrested several protesters and took them to an unknown location. Sudan Tribune

Number of People Facing Extreme Hunger in Sudan Predicted To Double
The number of people who are severely hungry in Sudan could double by September as a result of poor harvests, economic crisis, internal conflict and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UN has warned. In a joint statement, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation said more than 18 million people could face extreme hunger over the coming months, up from about 9 million currently in need of aid. “There are already worrying signs that access, affordability and the availability of food is shrinking for most people in Sudan, which is pushing more people deeper into poverty and hunger,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP’s country director in Sudan. Guardian

Ukraine To Feature Heavily in Blinken Travel to Middle East, North Africa
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to the Middle East and North Africa starting on Saturday in a trip that will be heavily dominated by discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Blinken is set to visit Israel, the West Bank, Morocco, and Algeria from Saturday to Wednesday, the State Department announced on Thursday, in a trip that will focus on Iran and the conflict in Ukraine. “Both of those are going to be really at the top of the agenda,” top U.S. diplomat for Near Eastern affairs Yael Lempert told reporters. Reuters

Morocco Scents Victory in Western Sahara
The battle Western Sahara has long felt as sluggish as the region’s barely shifting sand dunes. It is almost half a century since Morocco claimed sovereignty over the slice of desert, previously a Spanish possession, that runs 900km (560 miles) along the Atlantic coast, south of Morocco proper. The Polisario Front, an indigenous guerrilla group backed by Morocco’s rival, Algeria, is still fighting for independence. For several decades the rest of the world has looked away, parking the dispute with the un and promising the mirage of a referendum on self-determination to settle the issue. In fact, it has been frozen in the baking desert, seemingly for ever. But of late the sands have been swirling. Economist

Battle Royale As Zimbabwe Holds By-Elections on Saturday
After two months of intensive rallies and flashes of political violence that claimed at least one life, Zimbabwe will hold by-elections on Saturday to fill 28 parliamentary and 121 hundred local government seats…The by-elections are somewhat a dress rehearsal for general elections slated for 2023. “We are going into a crucial by-election. Crucial in that it is a dry run of the 2023 election,” Chamisa said. News24

Fatality Totals Rise in Somalia Attacks
The leader of Somalia’s Hirshabelle region says dozens of people were killed Wednesday in attacks in the city of Beledweyne, including a member of the Somali parliament. Several more people died when militants opened fire at an airport in Somalia’s capital. In an address aired by state TV, Hirshabelle region president Ali Gudlawe said authorities have been gathering information since Wednesday night about victims in Beledweyne. He said there are 48 confirmed dead and 108 injured. The attacks began when a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest blew himself up at the local government headquarters. Later, another suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden car into a crowd of people who had gathered to help those wounded in the first attack. Separately, two gunmen opened fire at Mogadishu’s main airport on Wednesday, killing at least six people before the gunmen were shot and killed by security guards. Voice of America

Uganda: Court Issues Warrant for Author in Exile in Germany
A Ugandan court has issued an arrest warrant for an international award-winning author who fled to Germany last month to seek treatment for injuries he said were inflicted on him during torture by security personnel, his lawyer said. The warrant was issued on Wednesday. In December, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was arrested and held for almost a month, then charged with communications offences related to tweets that criticised President Yoweri Museveni and his son. “It is true the court has issued an arrest warrant for him,” his lawyer Eron Kiiza told Reuters. “It’s just a continuation of his harassment because the court could have chosen to try him in his absentia, which is allowed, but they decided to ignore that option.” After his release in January, Rukirabashaija said he had been tortured by security personnel while in detention. Images of his body showed torture marks, which provoked public outrage. Al Jazeera

West African Court Orders Suspension of Mali Sanctions
A West African court ordered Thursday the suspension of sanctions imposed on Mali over delayed elections, in a rare diplomatic win for the country’s ruling junta. The court of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (Uemoa) issued the ruling on the eve of a regional summit on Mali, which is under pressure to restore democracy rule after a military coup in 2020.  After the junta proposed staying in power for up to five years, Uemoa and the West Africa bloc Ecowas slapped economic and diplomatic sanctions on the Sahel state in January. The eight-nation Uemoa said it endorsed measures taken by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), which included the freezing of financial assets and sanctioning leading junta members. AFP

12 Killed in Rebel Attack in DR Congo’s Ituri Province
Twelve people — one soldier and 11 mainly elderly civilians — were killed in a rebel attack in DR Congo’s troubled northeasterly province of Ituri, hospital sources and local authorities said on Thursday. “We have received 11 bodies of civilian victims of a massacre in the Lopa region at Djugu. There was also the body of one soldier,” John Katabuka, director of the main regional hospital, told AFP…The CODECO group — Cooperative for the Development of Congo — is one of a swathe of rebel groups in the violence-wracked country and local sources said their latest killing spree came in apparent reprisal for an attack on them by the military. Defense Post

Central African Republic: Five Dead After Rebel Attack
Five people have been killed in an attack by armed rebels on an army base in the Central African Republic (CAR), regional officials have said. On Thursday, deputy prefect Jean Ulrich Semberkpanga said three of the dead in the four-hour attack on Tuesday were civilians – two women and a boy. Martin Kossi, the prefect of the Ouham-Pende region, said two soldiers from the CAR’s armed forces had also died. The attack occurred in Nzakoungou near the borders with Chad and Cameroon, he said. Authorities have implicated rebels of the Return, Reclamation, Rehabilitation (3R) faction, one of the region’s most powerful armed groups, presenting itself as a Fulani self-defence militia. Al Jazeera

Nairobi Security Business Empowers Women
[Video] Frustrated with the lack of security training available for women, Nairobi-based Patricia Gakii launched her own business to help women better defend themselves — both physically and in cyberspace. DW



Photo: Adam Jones