Africa Media Review for March 31, 2022

Tunisian President Dissolves Parliament, Threatens To Prosecute MPs Who Voted To Curb His Powers
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on Wednesday dissolved the country’s parliament, which has been suspended since last year, and said lawmakers who defied him by voting to repeal decrees he used to assume near total power would be prosecuted. On 25 July last year, the president froze the assembly, sacked the government and seized wide-ranging powers. Later he gave himself powers to rule and legislate by decree, and earlier this year he seized control over the judiciary. Lawmakers said the measures have blocked the democratic process. Saied accused them of a failed coup and a conspiracy against state security, and he ordered investigations into them… Saied says he will form a committee to rewrite the constitution, which will be put to a referendum in July, and then hold parliamentary elections in December. Opposition parties have been urging the president to call elections earlier, and lawmakers on Wednesday called for legislative and presidential elections and a national dialogue to break the political stalemate. RFI

Mali’s Crisis Hits 10-Year Mark
Mali’s current political and security crisis is a continuation of events that happened a decade ago.  Separatist Tuareg rebels, fighting under the banner of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), began attacking towns and army bases in northern Mali in January 2012. They went on to defeat Malian government forces and conquer Gao, a strategically important city on the banks of the Niger river in northeastern Mali, on March 31, 2012…The group, who had previously taken control of the key town of Kidal, went on to seize the historic desert town of Timbuktu with relative ease.  Less than a week later, the group declared the independent state of Azawad in northern Mali, making Gao the capital of their new country. DW

Mali: Before UN Rights Council, Expert Raises Concerns About Alleged Killings Attributed to the Army
Alioune Tine, an independent expert said he was gravely concerned about allegations of serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. “The human rights situation has remained worrying,” Alioune Tine, the UN expert on Mali, told the UN Human Rights Council. Groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and other extremist groups “have continued to carry out targeted killings, kidnappings, acts of intimidation, death threats, the imposition of illegal taxes (the Zakat), and criminal activities linked to illegal gold panning,” he said. These groups are responsible for 57.20% of human rights abuses, he added presenting a report covering the period from March to the end of December 2021. However he reported “allegations of serious violations” attributed to regular Malian forces. He referred to accusations of summary executions, enforced disappearances or acts of torture. AfricaNews with AFP

A Safe Route No More: Nigerians Mourn Victims of Deadly Train Attack
In a first class coach, Regina Ngorngor, a 46-year-old librarian, said she hid under her seat and covered herself with luggage when she heard the first shots. The gunmen later shouted, “Everybody goes out, or we will shoot you,” but she remained hidden. Hours later, she said, she was rescued by the Nigerian military, uninjured but her body covered with blood and dead passengers lying nearby. At least eight people were killed and 26 injured in the attack, and an unknown number are still missing — their relatives fearing they were kidnapped. The attack has badly shaken Nigeria because the train line was considered a safe alternative to the busy highway heading north from the capital, where armed groups have for years robbed and kidnapped drivers, wringing out ransoms. New York Times

Nigeria: Insecurity: Police Acquire Technological Devices To Combat Crimes
The Nigerian Police Force has acquired additional high-powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), popular known as drones, to improve surveillance operations across the country. The police spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi, disclosed this on Wednesday in a statement sent to Premium Times. He said the new equipment was acquired in line with the vision and mission statements of the Inspector General, Usman Alkali, which include technology-driven policing. The unveiling of the new equipment comes a few days after terrorists rigged the tracks of the Abuja-Kaduna rail lines with explosives, causing damage to a Kaduna bound train, while also shooting sporadically at the passengers on board the train. Premium Times Nigeria

Sudan Doctors: 70 Injured in Monday’s Marches
More than 70 demonstrators were injured during Monday’s March of the Millions in Khartoum, which is part of the peaceful revolutionary escalation to resist the coup announced by the coordination of the Resistance Committees in the Sudan capital for the last week of March. The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors says that one protestor will need eye surgery after a serious injury. The doctors say that five demonstrators were injured by stun grenades, one of whom lost most of his hand. Another five received head injuries when munitions were thrown into buildings. Dabanga

Burundi Lifts Its Three-Year Ban of the BBC
The BBC has been allowed to resume its operations in Burundi, three years after it was banned from the country. Burundi’s media authority – the National Communications Council (CNC) – made the announcement after a meeting on Wednesday in the commercial city of Bujumbura. The BBC had its licence withdrawn on 29 March 2019 – and no reporter was allowed to work for or pass information on to the broadcaster. It followed BBC reports that it said had damaged the reputation of the government of the late President Pierre Nkunrunziza – in particular an investigation into alleged secret torture sites used to silence dissent, which it had dismissed as “fake news”. At the time of the ban Burundi had 1.3 million BBC viewers and listeners in the country. BBC

US Announces the Continuation of National Emergency in South Sudan
The United States of America has announced the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to South Sudan for another year. US President Joe Biden said in a statement seen by Radio Tamazuj said that the national emergency declared on April 3, 2014, must continue in effect beyond April 3, 2022.  “The situation in and in relation to South Sudan continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. For this reason, the national emergency declared on April 3, 2014, must continue in effect beyond April 3, 2022,” the statement read. “Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13664.” Radio Tamazuj

Blinken Urges Algeria Re-Think on Russia, Western Sahara
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrapped up a three-nation tour of the Middle East and North Africa Wednesday with appeals for Algeria to limit ties with Russia and look to improve relations with neighboring Morocco. “The countries of North Africa and the Middle East have experienced themselves the consequences of Russia’s military campaigns before,” Blinken said, noting Russian interventions in Syria and Libya and the impact on energy and food security that the Ukraine conflict is having. “The international community must increase the pressure on Russia to end this unprovoked and unjustified war,” he said. AP

Climate Disasters Rising Faster in MENA Than Any Other Region
The frequency and severity of climate-related disasters are rising faster in the Middle East and Central Asia than anywhere else in the world, a new study says. Climate disasters in the region have injured and displaced seven million people in an average year, causing more than 2,600 deaths and $2bn in physical damage, an International Monetary Fund research paper showed. “Droughts in North Africa, Somalia and Iran. Epidemics and locust infestations in the Horn of Africa. Severe floods in the Caucasus and Central Asia. The list of disasters is quickly getting longer,” said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva in remarks at the World Government Summit in Dubai. Analysis of data spanning the past century showed temperatures in the region had risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) – twice the global increase of 0.7 degrees Celsius, and already sparse precipitation had become more erratic than in any other region, the IMF report said. Al Jazeera

Kenya’s Top Court To Issue Final Ruling on President’s Constitutional Changes
Kenya’s Supreme Court is scheduled on Thursday to rule on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s bid to make sweeping constitutional changes, which critics have seized and turned into a top issue for a presidential election this August. Last year, the High Court and the Court of Appeal struck down the proposed amendments popularly known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), prompting the government to appeal. The Supreme Court, whose ruling is final, will settle seven questions raised by appellants, including whether the president acted illegally by initiating the amendments to the constitution. Reuters

Kenyan Police Killed 167 People Last Year – Amnesty
Kenya’s police have been accused by Amnesty International of unlawfully killing 167 people last year, including some of those arrested for violating Covid-19 restrictions. The rights group alleged the force was also responsible for the forcible disappearance of 33 people in 2021. In its report looking at events in 2021, Amnesty accused the police of using “excessive and sometimes lethal force to break up protests” and said many of the alleged perpetrators were not facing justice. “Only 28 prosecutions were initiated against suspected perpetrators of unlawful killings and enforced disappearance,” the rights group said. It highlighted several cases, including that of Alex Macharia Wanjiku, who was shot in Nairobi County when security services reportedly tried to disperse a protest against the Nairobi Metropolitan Services, which manages the city’s transport, health and development. BBC

Zanu-PF Faces Threat From Zimbabwe’s New Opposition Party
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party may be facing an uphill struggle to secure a clear victory in elections due next year after a new opposition party made significant gains in byelections last weekend, raising concerns of new political instability and possible violence. The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), which was only founded in January, won 19 out of 28 parliamentary seats in polls widely regarded as a test run for the 2023 presidential election. In 2018, a fractured opposition came within 1% of forcing President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who took power following the fall of President Robert Mugabe, into a runoff. The vote was marred by allegations of rigging. Guardian

US Calls for ‘Strong African Response’ to Russian Aggression
The United States is hoping for “a strong African response” to Russian aggression and plans to help mitigate the economic effects of the Ukraine conflict on the continent, US diplomats have said. “We look for a strong African response to Russian aggression and welcome the opportunity to partner with Senegal and other Africans on both the response to Russia’s aggression but also to address the implications of it globally,” US ambassador to the African Union Jessica Lapenn told journalists in Dakar. Al Jazeera

UN Chief: 2 Billion People Live in Conflict Areas Today
The United Nations chief said Wednesday that one-quarter of humanity — 2 billion people — are living in conflict areas today and the world is facing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, when World War II ended. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cited conflicts from Yemen, Syria, Myanmar and Sudan to Haiti, Africa’s Sahel, “and now the war in Ukraine — a catastrophe shaking the foundations of the international order, spilling across borders and causing skyrocketing food, fuel and fertilizer prices that spell disaster for developing countries.” Voice of America