Africa Media Review for March 28, 2022

West African Leaders Make Demands After Coups in the Region
West African leaders on Friday said they would uphold the regional sanctions imposed on Mali in January after its military leaders said they would stay in power for four more years instead of holding an election in February. The regional economic bloc known as ECOWAS made the decision during a summit in Ghana’s capital Accra, where they also discussed the situations in other coup affected member states including Burkina Faso and Guinea. Sanctions imposed on Mali in January suspended most commerce and financial aid to the country and included land and air border closures with other countries belonging to ECOWAS. The African Economic and Monetary Union Court of Justice on Thursday ordered the suspension of those sanctions after Mali’s leaders filed a legal complaint against them, saying they would severely affect Malians. However, ECOWAS President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou said after the closed-door meetings that it was the only authority that could lift such sanctions. AP

Burkina Faso Junta Arrests Ex-Ruling Party Leader
Burkina Faso’s security forces have arrested the former speaker, days after he called for the immediate release of ousted President Roch Kaboré. Alassane Bala Sakandé, who is also the leader of the former ruling party, was arrested by police at his home early on Sunday morning. He was released without charge in the evening after hours of interrogation in the capital Ouagadougou, local broadcaster Radio Omega reported. “He stands reproached for remarks he made at the news conference of his party, the People’s Movement for Progress held on 24 March,” the AFP news agency had earlier quoted his lawyers as saying. BBC

Zimbabwean Opposition Wins Majority Seats in By-Elections
The Citizens’ Coalition for Change, Zimbabwe’s leading opposition party, has won 19 out of the 28 national assembly seats in the long-delayed parliamentary by-elections. State-owned ZBC-TV reported Sunday night that the CCC won the majority in Saturday’s elections. The nine remaining seats went to the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) which still holds a parliamentary majority. Back in 2018, ZANU-PF won 145 seats from the 210 available seats in parliament. CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the party’s victory was evidence that “citizens came together & achieved a resounding victory for the movement.” The parliamentary and local government by-elections are seen as a preview of next year’s presidential elections in which the opposition is hoping to dislodge ZANU-PF, which has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. Al Jazeera

Central African Republic Peace Talks End Without Concrete Progress
The talks kicked off Monday — but no rebel groups were invited, and the opposition is boycotting the forum. President Faustin Archange Touadera promised in late 2020, following his controversial reelection, to hold the so-called Republican Dialogue for reconciliation. It was then a major surprise when he announced March 15 that talks would begin with the opposition and civil society March 21. But the agenda for the talks remained vague and lacked concrete aims. Regional experts say the dialogue forum looked increasingly like an attempt to pacify the international community, which has put the Central African Republic, one of the world’s poorest nations, on a drip feed. Voice of America

Civil Society Voices Concern Over C. Africa’s Peace Talks
A civil society representative at national reconciliation talks in the Central African Republic (CAR) expressed concern Thursday after a constitutional change allowing a head of state to stand for a third term was raised at initial discussions. Following his controversial re-election, President Faustin Archange Touadera promised in late 2020 to hold the so-called Republican Dialogue for reconciliation. The talks aimed at bringing peace to the troubled country kicked off Monday — but no rebel groups were invited and the opposition is boycotting the forum. East African

M23 Rebels Attack Military Positions in Eastern Congo
Heavy fighting erupted overnight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo when fighters from the M23 rebel group attacked army positions near the border with Uganda and Rwanda, a local official and a witness said on Monday. “I confirm the attack since last night on our positions,” said Muhindo Luanzo, assistant to the military administrator of the eastern town of Rutshuru. “(The village of) Runyoni is also besieged by the enemy but our troops are already deployed to respond and chase the enemy.” The clashes began at around 0100 local time (2300 GMT) near the villages of Tshanzu and Runyoni, around 50 km (31 miles) north-east of the provincial capital Goma, a witness in Runyoni said. Reuters

South Sudan: Machar Calls on Sudan’s General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan for Help
With growing tensions, South Sudan’s vice president Riek Machar says he has asked for help from East African countries gathered in the Igad bloc and in particular from Sudan. Machar, the embattled vice president says he wants Sudanese head of state and top General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to come to his aid against his President Salva Kiir. Khartoum was indeed one of the guarantors of the South Sudanese peace agreement, signed in 2018 after five years of civil war. The new development comes as South Sudan government forces have reportedly surrounded the residence of Riek Machar in the capital Juba. It’s not clear if Mr Machar is in the house. On Friday, the former rebel leader asked regional and international leaders to intervene to end renewed fighting in Unity and Upper Nile states – which are considered his strongholds. AfricaNews

IGAD Envoy Briefs Burhan About Their Plan for Sudanese Crisis
Ismail Wais, IGAD peace envoy met on Sunday with the head of the Transitional Sovereign Council to brief him about the plan of the East African block to end the political strife in Sudan. “The Chairman of the Transitional Sovereign Council, Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, met the IGAD Special Envoy for South Sudan, Ambassador Ismail Wais who briefed him about the IGAD initiative to achieve stability and peace in Sudan,” reads a statement released by the Sovereign Council after the meeting. Sudan Tribune

5 Injured As RSF Shoot Protesters in Gold Mining Conflict in Eastern Sudan
Five citizens were wounded when the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) shot at protesters from the Fatah El Naga area in Haya locality, Red Sea state, on Wednesday. The people were protesting the arrival of a gold mining company with support from the RSF on disputed land. The Coordination of the Haya Resistance Committees said that the people in the area closed the Port Sudan-Atbara road on Wednesday, refusing the presence and activities of Rapid Support Forces companies in the area. The security forces guarding the company’s offices opened fire on the protesters, wounding about 5 people. The Resistance Committees’ statement explained that these companies are ‘plundering resources and terrorizing citizens’ and noted that the land occupied by the company is subject to a tribal dispute that has not yet been resolved. Dabanga

Egypt Police Abusing Sudanese Refugees: HRW
Egyptian police have arbitrarily detained at least 30 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers, subjecting some to abuse and “forced physical labour”, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday. According to three Sudanese refugees and a Cairo-based civil society group interviewed by HRW, police carried out raids on 27 December and 5 January, in nearly identical circumstances. Plainclothes police arbitrarily arrested some two dozen refugees and asylum seekers from their homes, coffeeshops, on the street and at community centres. They were taken to a security facility and forced to “unload boxes from large trucks into warehouses” by police, who hurled racist insults and “used batons to beat those who they claimed were not working hard enough”. The next day, police dropped off those detained at a highway crossroads in eastern Cairo, without levelling any charges against them. The New York-based watchdog called on Egypt’s public prosecutor to “investigate and hold accountable those responsible for arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers”, HRW’s Joe Stork said. News24

Al-Shabab Surge in Somalia’s Suicide Attacks ‘Change of Tactics,’ Experts Say
Al-Shabab extremists in Somalia are getting “bolder” in their attacks and have increased using suicide bombers wearing homemade explosives in what security experts call a “change in tactics.” The Islamist militant group mounted one of its deadliest attacks Wednesday, targeting elections at the regional presidential palace in Beledweyne town around 300 km north of Mogadishu. Forty-eight people were killed, and more than 100 others wounded. Among the dead was a member of parliament, Amina Mohamed, a vocal critic to the government, who was on the campaign trail when she was targeted and killed by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest. Hours earlier, two Shabab militants breached the heavily fortified compound at Mogadishu’s airport, where presidential elections are scheduled to take place. Offices for the U.N., Western embassies and the African Union peacekeeping mission are in the same area. Voice of America

Liberia Drops Charges Against Top Opposition Figure
Liberia has dropped all charges against prominent government critic Henry Costa, the government said late Thursday, inviting him to return to his native West African country from the US. Costa, who hosts a popular online radio show from the United States, is a fierce opponent of President George Weah, a former international football star who came to power in 2018. The media personality has long clashed with the government. In 2019, the government shut down a Costa-owned radio station, arguing that it was inciting violence and engaging in blackmail. East African

Six Niger Troops Killed in Attack Near Burkina Faso Border
Six Niger soldiers have been killed in an attack in the southwest of the country, near the Burkina Faso border, the defense ministry announced Saturday. The attack, which took place Thursday, was the second in 10 days, marking a return to violence in the region after weeks of relative calm. “A Nigerien Armed Forces escort mission was ambushed by a group of armed terrorists in the vicinity of the village of Kolmane,” the ministry said in a statement giving the first information of Thursday’s attack. Voice of America

Africans trapped in Ukrainian city of Kherson without food, water, as families abroad plead for help
For a decade, Adrian Djiele has supported his parents in Cameroon by working as a sailor for a shipping company in the Ukrainian port city of Kherson. Then the war erupted, Russian troops captured the city and thousands of civilians were unable to reach safety. “It is very difficult for all of us here,” Mr. Djiele said in a brief cellphone video that reached his parents in Cameroon last week. “All we want now is just to get out of this place.” Kherson, a city of about 300,000 people, is facing a humanitarian catastrophe as its food and medical supplies run out, according to a Ukrainian government statement this week. It said the Russian army is blockading the city and preventing civilians from leaving. Thousands of Africans have managed to flee from Ukraine since the war began, but at least 100 are reportedly still stranded in Kherson. Globe and Mail



Photo: Adam Jones