Africa Media Review for May 1, 2023

Sudanese Civil Society Groups Call for End to the War and Restoration of Democracy
Civil society groups in Sudan say society will be militarised and democracy will be upended if heavy gunfire exchange in the region is not stopped immediately. The war will also uproot the very foundations of civil life, they say. … The signatories to the resolution have been drawn from political parties, civic society, trade unions, academia and media freedom. Their main demands are: Stopping the war immediately and providing urgent humanitarian, medical, and public service needs to citizens in the affected areas. Putting the country back on the course of transition to democracy and civil rule. Ensuring full exit of the military from political and economic spheres. … In an address on Saturday at a side event ahead of the 75th ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, Gambia, ACHPR commissioner Janet Ramatoulie Sallah-Njie said Africa should not watch as the continent burns down in conflict. She said the situation in Sudan should serve as a warning that if the continent failed to bring about a rules-based world, years of development would be washed away. News24

UN Says Sudan Collapsing as Fighting Enters Third Week
Warplanes on bombing raids drew heavy fire over Khartoum as fighting between Sudan’s army and paramilitaries entered a third week with the UN chief warning the country was falling apart. More than 500 people have been killed since battles erupted on April 15 between the forces of army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former number two Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). They have agreed to multiple truces but none has taken hold as the number of dead civilians continues to rise and chaos and lawlessness grip Khartoum, a city of five million people where many have been cloistered in their homes lacking food, water, and electricity. Tens of thousands have been uprooted within Sudan or embarked on arduous trips to neighbouring Chad, Egypt, South Sudan or Ethiopia to flee the battles. “There is no right to go on fighting for power when the country is falling apart,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television. … The 2021 coup that brought Burhan and Daglo to power derailed the transition to elective civilian rule launched after Bashir was ousted following mass protests in 2019. AFP

Nearly 200 Dead in West Darfur Violence: Situation ‘Extremely Dangerous’
Ibrahim Ali Hussein, Sheikh of the Kerending camp for the displaced in El Geneina in West Darfur, told Radio Dabanga yesterday that at least 180 people have been killed in attacks on El Geneina last week. The situation is described as extremely dangerous, and many have already fled to Chad. Yesterday, a local doctor’s association estimated the number of dead at 191. Local residents reported that big clashes seemed to have stopped in the city, but looting, killings, and other lawlessness is continuing. In an interview with Radio Dabanga, Sheikh Ibrahim said that at least 178 people were killed and 65 injured during the attacks last week, but that two more people died of their injuries on Saturday due to the lack of operational healthcare facilities in the city. There are no health adequate healthcare facilities to attend to the wounded as most had to close down. Wounded are crowding in one facility, Ibrahim explained. Due to the targeting of medical staff and hospitals, and the general lack of security, Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders / MSF) had to stop most of their activities in West Darfur. Radio Dabanga

Rampant Jihadists are Spreading Chaos and Misery in the Sahel
[…] Burkina Faso is at the centre of a growing jihadist crisis that is engulfing much of the Sahel, an arid strip south of the Sahara. Last year the conflict claimed more than 4,200 lives in Burkina. In just the first three and a half months of this year it has taken about 3,000 more. Neighbouring Niger and, especially, Mali are also being hit by terrorists inspired by a mix of local grievances and links to al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Their progress south means Ouagadougou, the capital, could soon be encircled within a radius of about 125km (see map). In Mali jihadists are once again attacking on the doorstep of the capital, Bamako. … Many analysts think that achieving peace requires not just guns but also bringing basic services to abandoned regions, minimising atrocities that fuel jihadist recruitment, and trying to demobilise some fighters through talks. Captain Traoré, though, seems to believe in little but men with guns. Several people asked by the previous coup leader to start talks with jihadist groups to persuade some of them to stop shooting have disappeared. Their relatives blame the intelligence services. … Many are too frightened to criticise the junta. Local journalists are threatened and detained. Some government critics have been arrested and forced to fight on the front. The junta has blocked the broadcast of French radio and television stations and expelled foreign journalists. Economist

Residents and Survivors Say 136 Killed in Burkina Faso Massacre, Blaming Army
Residents and survivors of a massacre in a Burkina Faso village said on Saturday 136 people including women and infants were killed, blaming the country’s security forces for the April 20 attack. A prosecutor last week launched a probe into the massacre which took place in the northern village of Karma and surrounding areas, following reports that people wearing the uniforms of the Burkinabe armed forces had killed around 60 civilians. The attack, one of the worst on civilians as the country battles armed militants linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State, has prompted condemnations, and calls for an investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Office. … A statement issued by the residents and survivors on Saturday said the village was surrounded early in the morning of April 20 by heavily armed men in Burkinabe military uniforms, on motorcycles, pick-up trucks and armoured vehicles. “The villagers initially rejoiced at their arrival, but their joy was quickly shattered by gunfire,” the statement said, adding they have counted 136 civilians killed and nine injured. Retuers

Militia Attack Kills 8 Farmers in DR Congo
Eight farmers were killed Sunday in an attack blamed on a militant group targeting three villages in northeast DR Congo, a local official said. Members of CODECO, or Cooperative for the Development of the Congo, attacked the villages of Duvire, Njalo and Bengi at around 5 a.m. (0300 GMT), Adubango Kivia told AFP from the district of Djugu in the Ituri province. “We found eight bodies, including a woman. They’re farmers. They were shot dead and then chopped up by machete,” he added, accusing the militiamen of setting fire to scores of homes and plundering livestock. Adubango Kivia said the militiamen “operated calmy” and called on Congolese soldiers to deploy “to secure the population and bring an end to massacres” in the area around 100 kilometers north of the provincial capital Bunia. CODECO says it is protecting the Lendu community from another ethnic group, the Hema, as well as the DRC army. VOA

Gunmen in Nigeria Free 74 Children after Ransoms Paid
Gunmen in Nigeria have released 74 children out of more than 80 people who were abducted earlier this month in northwestern Zamfara state, after ransoms were paid, parents and a village head said on Saturday. Gangs of armed men have attacked hundreds of local communities across northwestern Nigeria in recent years, while Islamist militants continue to stage attacks in the northeast. Two parents from Zamfara’s Wadzamai village said they paid 20,000 naira ($43.50) each and their children were among those released on Friday and had suffered from severe malnutrition. … Kidnappers in Nigeria often keep their victims for months in the forest if a ransom is not paid and also demand villagers pay protection fees to be allowed to farm and harvest their crops. Reuters

Ethiopia: 47 Arrests after Killing of Prime Minister’s Party Leader
Ethiopian security forces said Sunday they had arrested 47 suspects after the murder of a leader of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s ruling party, accusing him of plotting to overthrow the regime. Girma Yeshitila, leader of the Welfare Party in the recently troubled northern region of Amhara, was killed with four others in an attack on Thursday. The 47 people arrested are suspected terrorists and were found in possession of weapons, bombs and satellite communications equipment, security forces said in a statement carried by public broadcaster EBC. “The suspects worked together locally and in foreign countries with the aim of taking control of the regional government in order to overthrow the federal government by assassinating senior Amhara officials,” the security forces said in their statement. … A member of the executive committee of the 45-member Prosperity Party, Mr Girma was frequently targeted on social networks by Amhara nationalists, who called him a “traitor” because of his proximity to Mr Abiy. AfricaNews/AFP

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Urged to Proclaim Election Dates; Warned of Breaching Electoral Laws
Independent election watchdog Election Resource Centre (ERC) has warned of possible breach of laws guiding the existing legality that monitors the plebiscite process should President Emmerson Mnangagwa delay the proclamation of polling dates. In a statement, ERC raised red flags over a possible risk of breaching statutes contained in Section 158 of the Constitution. According to section 158 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, a general election must be held so that polling takes place not more than thirty days before the expiry of the five-year period which runs from the date on which the President-elect is sworn in and assumes office. Mnangagwa was sworn in on 26 August 2018. “The thirty-day period before the expiry of the Presidential term runs from 27 July – 26 August 2023,” ERC said. Further, according to section 38 of the Electoral Act, the President must fix a date for a general election and elections for Councillors, Members of Parliament and the President, after consultation with the Commission. New Zimbabwe

Government of Djibouti Launches Crackdown on ‘Irregular’ Migrants
The government of Djibouti announced Sunday a crackdown on irregular migration, with state-run television reporting that about 3,000 people had been rounded up by police to be deported. Interior Minister Said Nouh Hassan said the strategic Horn of Africa nation had become “saturated” by an influx of people from neighbouring countries, with 220,000 arriving “illegally” in 2022 alone. Djibouti, which has a population of around one million, lies on an often perilous migration route from Africa for people fleeing conflict and climate disasters or seeking a better life. … State-run television RTD reported that around 3,000 people had been detained in the operation and taken to deportation centres to be transported in trucks back to their country of origin. France24

EAC Moves to Protect Migrant Workers from Abuse
In the wake of reported human rights violations in the Gulf countries, the East African Community (EAC) is pursuing the harmonisation of labour migration policies to curb exploitation and abuse of migrant workers. The initiative being spearheaded by the International Labour Organisation and the EAC secretariat is targeting to strengthen regional integration to safeguard the lives of those who seek greener pastures in key labour destination countries. The regional technical working committee is reviewing the existing Bilateral Labour Agreements (BLAs) in EAC to develop a guideline that will help the countries to lobby as a group about the rights, jobs and terms of employment of their citizens. Of great concern, issues of the informal economy such as domestic work are not comprehensively covered in any of the regional policy frameworks. … Last week’s stakeholders meeting held in Entebbe noted that the infamous Kafala (sponsorship) system in the Gulf has stripped migrant workers of their basic rights. “Under this system, they have no right to move, travel or change work. They have little access to healthcare and no right to union representation or to form organisations.” East African

South Sudan: Dispute over Command Structure Delaying Deployment of Unified Forces
A disagreement among the peace parties over the middle command structure is delaying the deployment of the unified forces, a government official said. … President Salva Kiir, First Vice President Riek Machar and other political leaders have been slowly implementing a peace deal signed in 2018 to end five years of civil war. The parties to the agreement further delayed the transition period leading to the country’s first elections until December 2024. … Speaking to reporters after the cabinet meeting in Juba on Friday, Information Minister Michael Makuei said the parties of the agreement have not yet agreed on the middle command of the unified forces, causing delays in their deployment. … Reacting to Makuei’s remarks, Ter Manyang, the Executive Director of the Centre for Peace and Advocacy (CPA), expressed concerns over delays in the implementation of security arrangements, saying there is no sign that the government is preparing the country for elections. Radio Tamazuj

Somalia: Hundreds of Youth Demonstrate against Drug Trafficking and Abuse
Hundreds of youth demonstrated Saturday on the streets of Mogadishu protesting against abuse and trafficking of drugs in the country. The youth marched to the statute of Daljirka Dassoon in Boondeere District where they expressed support for the government’s anti-narcotics war especially in Banadir region. Banadir region youth Chairman Abdikafi Mahmoud Makaraan said the youth will continue standing with the Federal Government of Somalia in the war saying they are the most affected by the vice and challenged the entire Somali community to also support the efforts to eliminate drug and substance abuse. … The Federal Government of Somalia has declared war against drugs and called on all citizens to participate in fighting the vice saying drug trafficking and Al-Shabaab are both equally a threat to the stability of the country. Goobjoog

Gold Mining in Ethiopia ‘Breeds Rights Violations’
Ethiopia’s nascent gold mining sector may be breeding rights violations after a lobby found workers were unprotected from potential health hazards. Midroc Investment Group, the Ethiopian company operating the mine, and the Swiss refinery Argor-Heraeus that sourced its gold, are accused of taking no action over public reports about pollution from the mine for years, Human Rights Watch said. According to the report published last week, residents living near the mine, located close to the town of Shakiso in Guji Zone, in the most populous region of Oromia have for years complained of ill-health and disabilities, particularly in newborn children. … A study conducted by Addis Ababa University in 2018, confirmed that there is a large amount of arsenic in the water samples taken downstream from the mine site. Samples taken from soil outside the mine area have also been found to contain high levels of arsenic, nickel and chromium; all harmful to human health especially the nervous system. East African

After Killings, Calls to Protect South Africa’s Whistleblowers
An accountant working on a high-profile corruption case was killed along with his son by unknown gunmen while traveling on one of South Africa’s main highways. A government health department employee who warned of illegal dealings worth nearly $50 million was shot 12 times in the driveway of her home. The slayings and other cases have anti-corruption groups urging South African authorities to provide far better protection for whistleblowers. They also have fueled outrage over widespread graft linked to government contracts, which has plagued Africa’s most developed economy for years. The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime counted a total of 1,971 assassination cases in South Africa between 2000 and 2021, with whistleblowers accounting for many of the targeted individuals. AP