Africa Media Review for May 12, 2022

Transition Period Set at 36 Months in Guinea
In Guinea, the National Council of the Rally for Development, CNRD, has announced a transition period to civilian rule of three years or 36 months. The decision, announced on Wednesday, places the country at odds with regional partners and the UN who have both called for a much shorter transition period. The head of the military junta, Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, had previously set the transition period at 39 months. Colonel Mamady Doumbouya overthrew Alpha Conde in September 2021 and has since proclaimed himself as head of state. Doumbouya also pledged to hand over power to elected civilians. Like Mali and Burkina Faso, two other countries in the region where the military seized power, Guinea has been suspended from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). AfricaNews

WHO: COVID-19 Falling Everywhere, Except Americas and Africa
The number of new coronavirus cases reported worldwide has continued to fall except in the Americas and Africa, the World Health Organization said in its latest assessment of the pandemic. In its weekly pandemic report released late Wednesday, the U.N. health agency said about 3.5 million new cases and more than 25,000 deaths were reported globally, which respectively represent decreases of 12% and 25%. The downward trend in reported infections began in March, although many countries have dismantled their widespread testing and surveillance programs, making an accurate count of cases extremely difficult. WHO said there were only two regions where reported COVID-19 infections increased: the Americas, by 14%, and Africa, by 12%. Cases remained stable in the Western Pacific and fell everywhere else, the agency said. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned during a press briefing this week that “the rising cases in more than 50 countries highlights the volatility of this virus.” AP

Somalia Set To Elect New President Amid Growing Insecurity
Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president’s term expired last year without a successor in place. Authorities have registered 39 presidential candidates, a list that includes incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, two former presidents, a former prime minister, several top officials and even a journalist. The field includes one woman, Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam, a lawmaker who once served as Somalia’s foreign minister. The vote will take place amid heightened insecurity as the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which opposes the federal government, continues to stage lethal attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa nation. With mortar shells and gun assaults, al-Shabab in recent months has repeatedly tested the defenses of the Halane military camp, which is protected by African Union peacekeepers. AP

A Record of 39 Candidates Running for Somalia’s Presidential Election
A record of 39 candidates have registered for the race taking place Sunday, May 15. More than 300 MPs will be in charge of deciding who will be the next leader of the Easternmost african nation. Current president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed or Farmajo is running again after an attempt of extending his four years first term in 2021. Former foreign minister, Fawzia Yusuf Adam is the only female candidate. This election will put an end to over a year of political crisis because of a power struggle between Farmajo and his Prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble in charge of organising the vote. Somalia has also been facing a turbulent security crisis for the past 30 years. Wednesday morning, at least 4 people were killed in a suicide explosion near Mogadishu International Airport where Sunday’s election will be taking place. The attack has already been claimed by the Islamic extremist group, Al Shabab. AfricaNews

Togo: Eight Soldiers Killed in Attack by Suspected ‘Terrorists’
Eight soldiers have been killed and 13 wounded in an attack in northern Togo, the government said, marking potentially the first deadly raid on its territory by armed groups who have killed thousands in neighbouring countries. Before dawn on Wednesday, a group of heavily armed gunmen ambushed an army post in the Kpendjal prefecture near the border with Burkina Faso, the government said in a statement. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The government blamed “terrorists”, without providing specifics. Security analysts said the attack was likely carried out by a local al-Qaeda affiliate that is based in Mali but in recent years has spread south into Burkina Faso. Groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda have carried out hundreds of attacks across the Sahel region of West Africa in recent years, focusing mainly on the landlocked countries of Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali. Al Jazeera

Germany Shifts Focus of Military Missions in West Africa
The German government backed a change to two of the country’s military deployments in West Africa, moving hundreds of soldiers from Mali to neighboring Niger and shifting its emphasis in Mali from a European to a United Nations mission. Government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann said Wednesday the training and support previously provided to Malian forces would in the future be offered to the military of Niger for the region’s fight against Islamic extremists “due to the changed situation.” France, which had a significantly larger military force in Mali, announced in February that it was pulling its troops out of the EU mission there by the summer amid tensions with the country’s ruling military junta. Germany’s decision was also motivated by concerns that Malian forces receiving EU training could cooperate with Russian mercenaries operating in the country, Hoffmann said. At the same time, Germany will increase its participation in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, providing up to 1,400 soldiers. The Cabinet’s decisions still need to be approved by parliament. AP

Nigeria’s Buhari Asks Ministers With Political Ambition To Resign
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all members of his cabinet who nurse political ambitions to resign their current appointments, according to the country’s information minister. “The mandate I have from the president is to announce that all members of the Federal Executive Council contesting for elective office must resign their ministerial cabinet appointments on or before Monday, May 16, 2022,” Information Minister Lai Mohammed, told journalists in the capital, Abuja, on Wednesday. Mohammed specified that the instruction excludes Vice President Yemi Osinbajo because he was elected alongside Buhari. The directive came after an appeal court sitting in Abuja ruled that a section of the amended electoral act passed this year, was unconstitutional. The clause prevents political appointees at any level from being “a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election”. The appellate court held that the provision was “unconstitutional” because it denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in elections. Asked if the directive would be extended to other federal appointees outside the cabinet like the central bank governor who is attempting an unprecedented presidential run, Mohammed said only ministers of the administration are asked to resign. Al Jazeera

How the War in Ukraine Is Affecting Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the worst affected among a group of 12 countries in the world in need of immediate food aid, the majority of which are from Sub-Saharan Africa. The countries have populations of over three million needing immediate food aid. The Integrated Phase Classification 3 (IPC3), the crisis stage, according to the “Global Report on Food Crises 2022” report, was released on Monday. The following countries – DRC 25.9 million people, Afghanistan 22.8 million, Nigeria 19.5 million, Yemen 19 million, Ethiopia between 14-15 million, South Sudan 7.7 million, Somalia 6 million, Sudan 6 million, Pakistan 4.7 million, Haiti 4.5 million, Niger 4.4 million and, lastly, Kenya 3.4 million – are faced with acute food shortages. The latest challenge for African countries and food security, the report says, is the ongoing war in Ukraine…Given the repercussions of the war in Ukraine on global food, energy and fertiliser prices and supplies, the situation could get worse in years to come. All the countries on the list receive food aid and relief from organisations, such as the World Food Programme (WFP).  The situation in Ukraine means that aid agencies have to spend more to secure much-needed relief. News24

Africa Unveils New Platform To Cushion Countries From Ukraine Crisis Shocks
African countries will be able to jointly procure basic commodities, whose supply has been affected by the Ukraine crisis, following the launch of the African Trade Exchange (ATEX), a platform created to avert the effects of the war in eastern Europe on Africa. They will be able to purchase the commodities at favourable prices. The platform has been developed by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and African Development Bank (AfDB), in collaboration with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). It seeks to help the already fiscally strained African economies deal with the supply shortages caused by the Ukraine war, UNECA said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Russia-Ukraine crisis has increased the strain on critical supply chains in commodity markets, with current and expected price increases in agricultural products and inputs such as cereals and fertilisers,” the statement read. East African

Global Coalition To Defeat ISIS Says It Will Renew Its Efforts To Fight Extremist Groups in Africa
The Global coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) vowed to pursue their fight against jihadist groups in Africa and in the Middle East. The meeting brought together over 60 partners and was held in Marrakesh on Wednesday, May 11. “Our shared assessment of the dangerous rise of terrorist threat in Africa has led to the emergence of a tailored approach of the coalition’s support to the African continent. This approach is embodied by the Africa Focus Group, co-led by the United States, Italy, Niger and Morocco.”, said Nasser Bourita, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs co-chairing the meeting with U.S. Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland. “The United States is committed to working with our partners in West Africa to confront the challenges that have allowed this group to flourish. Among them, the lack of state legitimacy, persistent rights violations, and food insecurity.” followed the U.S. top diplomat. The coaliation was created in 2014 and gathers 84 states and international organizations. Based on figures from the US bureau of Counterterrorism, it revealed in the Sahel region, the number of terrorist attacks had increased by 43% between 2018 and 2021. AfricaNews

Intl. Activists Call for ‘Targeted US Sanctions on Sudan Coup Leaders’
The signatories of the memorandum to US President Joe Biden, organised by NGO Sudan Unlimited, include former Foreign Minister Ibrahim Taha Ayoub, and Sudan researcher Eric Reeves, call for an end to impunity for the massive human rights violations in Sudan. “The serious human rights abuses connected to El Burhan and Hemeti are in violation of the International Bill of Human Rights and the Rights and Freedoms Charter included in Sudan’s 2019 Constitutional Declaration. The memorandum makes it clear that El Burhan and Hemeti are linked to a long list of grave violations of human rights, and that the coup and the State of Emergency violates the right and will of the Sudanese people. The memorandum points out that the right of citizens to peaceful assembly was repeatedly violated by the forces, which led to the killing of more than 90 demonstrators and the injury of more than 3,000 others. It notes the arbitrary and violent detentions, as well as cases of rape and torture of political opponents and peaceful demonstrators. “It is vitally important that your Administration does not accept the coup as the new status quo in Sudan,” the letter says. “The people of Sudan have courageously established a new paradigm of freedom, peace and justice that must be respected and supported. Abrogation of Sudan’s new paradigm by Burhan and Hemeti warrants the Administration’s outrage, not complacency.” The memo concludes that “the coup and all serious human rights abuses connected to El Burhan and Hemeti demand targeted sanctions at a minimum and as an important and necessary component of an overall strategy to support the restoration of democratic transition in Sudan.” Dabanga

Meet Election Deadline for Smooth Transition, South Sudan Urged
South Sudan’s peace monitoring agency has appealed to the Revitalized Transitional Legislative Assembly to urgently enact legislations aimed at meeting the elections deadlines as stipulated in the 2018 revitalized peace deal. While officialising a sensitisation workshop on the peace deal in Juba on Tuesday, Gen Charles Tai Gituai, the interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC), urged the revitalised National Assembly to prioritise and focus on the legislative preparations for election processes. Maj Gen Gituai said this would ensure appropriate legislation that will ensure the election process is achieved within the timelines. East African

Mozambique: Cabo Delgado Insurgency: Southern African Leaders Moot Fixed Deployment of Troops
Southern African leaders want a more permanent military deployment to Mozambique’s insurgency-hit Cabo Delgado region instead of renewing the mandate of armed forces every three months. South Africa has already poured billions of rand into the mission since July last year amid a surge of terror attacks. According to International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was considering proposals for a fixed one-year deployment. News24

What Is Behind Zimbabwe’s Currency Crash?
Zimbabwe’s government has blamed currency speculators and money launderers for sending the local currency, introduced three years ago, spiraling down in value. The country has a history of hyperinflation, abandoning its currency in 2009 – so it is understandably nervous. It does not want to see history repeat itself. In response, the president unexpectedly stepped in over the weekend announcing on state TV that all banks had to suspend lending. Businesses were also banned from importing from one country but paying in another for goods – to curb money laundering. There are also higher transaction fees for foreign currency transfers. This is all because the government says some businesses have been borrowing huge sums of local money to buy US dollars on the black market. Even though these rates are high, businesses say it is safer to keep their money in US dollars as that does not lose value. BBC

 

 



Photo: Adam Jones