Africa Media Review for May 13, 2022

Russia and the Future International Order in Africa
Russian president Vladimir Putin has made it apparent for the past several years that he is ready to move on from the democratically based international order that has shaped global governance norms since the end of World War II. These norms are clearly enshrined in the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—respect for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of other states, peaceful resolution of disputes, and the rights of citizens to participate in political life. Inherent in the Charter, signed by 193 member states, is a collective responsibility to hold members accountable when these principles are violated in accordance with international law. Russia’s invasion of and attempt to annex all or parts of Ukraine, therefore, has always been more than just a bilateral dispute—but an explicit effort to redefine international norms. Kenya’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, recognized the stakes from the outset by declaring at the United Nations Security Council during the launch of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that the viability of multilateralism itself was under attack. So, what does a Russian driven international order look like? Africa Center for Strategic Studies

US Lawmakers Pass Concurrent Resolution Calling for Targeted Sanctions on Sudan Coup Leaders
U.S. Senate and House of Representatives concurrently passed a resolution calling for targeted sanctions on the military coup in Sudan, six months after its introduction, increasing pressure on the Biden administration for concrete steps. Introduced on November 4, 2021, the Concurrent Resolution 20 was adopted on May 11, 2022. It was introduced by Senators Bob Menendez and Jim Risch jointly with Representatives Gregory W. Meeks and Michael T. McCaul. A concurrent resolution aims to express the sentiment of the two chambers but is not binding for the President. So, the administration still has discretionary power on the matter. The Concurrent Resolution calls on the Secretary of State to “(A) immediately identify coup leaders, their accomplices, and enablers for consideration for targeted sanctions;” reads the resolution. The two chambers also call on the Biden administration to urge “junta leaders” to restore the civilian transitional government; and to “monitor, discourage, and deter any effort by external parties to support the coup and the military junta”. The resolution calls on the administration to pause non-humanitarian aid and to work on the level of international financial institutions to suspend “all actions related to non-humanitarian loans or debt relief to Sudan.” Sudan Tribune

Gun Prices Soar Ahead of Somalia’s Presidential Elections
The price of an AK-47, the standard weapon of Somali militias, has soared on gun markets ahead of a fraught ballot this weekend, when lawmakers will select the country’s next president. Parliamentarians from Somalia’s lower and upper houses will decide on 15 May from a list of 39 candidates that includes two former presidents, an ex-prime minister, as well as the second term-seeking incumbent, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as “Farmajo”. Tensions are high in the run-up to the vote, especially in Mogadishu; the capital, and the stronghold of the powerful Hawiye clan, who are opposed to Farmajo.  Armed clashes broke out in April 2021 when politicians resisted Farmajo’s attempt to extend his first term by two years. The president said it was to allow long-delayed elections to be held, but his critics interpreted it as a “power grab”. The fear is that a disputed vote on Sunday could trigger even worse violence. As a result, the price of a standard AK-47 has more than doubled since last year – up by nearly 40 percent in just the last few months, according to research by The New Humanitarian among gun traders. New Humanitarian

South African Firm Says It May Close Its COVID Vaccine Plant
The first factory to produce COVID-19 vaccines in Africa says it has not received enough orders and may stop production within weeks, in what a senior World Health Organization official described Thursday as a “failure” in efforts to achieve vaccine equity. South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare said that it cannot let its large-scale sterile manufacturing facilities sit idle, and will return instead to making anesthetics. At the outset of the COVID pandemic, the company shifted its production and achieved capacity to produce more than 200 million doses annually of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “It was widely hailed as a great achievement for Africa, a game-changer for the continent. But it has not been followed up with orders. We have not received any orders from the big multilateral agencies,” Stavros Nicolaou, senior executive for strategic trade development at Aspen Pharmacare, told The Associated Press Thursday. “COVAX has placed orders for 2.1 billion doses of COVID vaccines and not a single one has been placed with Aspen or any other African manufacturers,” said Nicolaou, referring to the U.N.-backed effort to distribute coronavirus vaccines to poorer countries. AP

Climate Change a Major Factor in Fatal South Africa Floods
The fatal floods that wreaked havoc in South Africa in mid-April this year have been attributed to human-caused climate change, a rapid analysis published Friday by a team of leading international scientists said. The study by the World Weather Attribution group analyzed both historical and emerging sets of weather data relating to the catastrophic rainfall last month, which triggered massive landslides in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces, and concluded that climate change was a contributing factor to the scale of the damage. “Human-induced climate change contributed largely to this extreme weather event,” Izidine Pinto, a climate analyst at the University of Cape Town and part of the group that conducted the analysis, said. “We need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a new reality where floods and heatwaves are more intense and damaging.” The scientists said that extreme rainfall episodes like those in April can now be expected about every twenty years, doubling the number of extreme weather events in the region if human-caused climate change had not been a factor. Rainfall is also expected to be about 4 to 8% heavier, the report said. AP

Egypt: At Least Five Soldiers Killed in Fresh Jihadist Attack
Five Egyptian soldiers and seven jihadists were killed at dawn Wednesday in a new attack in the Sinai region (east) plagued by a jihadist insurgency, the Egyptian army reported. “A military officer and four soldiers were killed and two other soldiers were wounded,” the spokesman for the armed forces said in a statement. This is the second such attack in less than a week. On Saturday, the army reported that 11 soldiers were killed and five others wounded in an attempt to foil a “terrorist” attack near the Suez Canal in Sinai. The jihadist group Islamic State (EI) claimed responsibility for the attack on Sunday via its propaganda arm Amaq. AfricaNews

Mali Court Summons French Foreign Minister Over Passport Concession Allegations
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has been summoned by a court in Bamako as part of an investigation into an alleged “attack on public property and other offences” dating back to 2015, concerning the manufacture of Malian biometric passports. This comes at a time of tense relations between France and Mali. The Bamako court has summoned Le Drian to present himself on 20 June at 8am “for a matter concerning him”. Le Drian and his son Thomas are suspected of “attacking public property and other offences at the expense of the Malian state”. The summons was prompted by a complaint from Maliko – a civil society association close to the military junta – regarding a biometric passport concession dating from 2015. Maliko accuses Le Drian, who was then France’s defence minister, of having “taken advantage of his position to twist the arm of [former president] IBK [Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta]”, to accept that Oberthur, a Breton company now called Idemia, would win the contract to manufacture Malian biometric passports, replacing a Canadian company. RFI

Mali’s Army Chief in Rwanda To Strengthen Defense Cooperation
Mali’s army chief ended a three-day visit to Rwanda Thursday as the countries seek to stregthen bilateral defense cooperation. Malian General Oumar Diarra concluded Thursday a three-day visit to Rwanda. The Chief of the General Staff of the Malian Armed forces, was received by his counterpart Gen Jean Bosco Kazura at the Rwanda Defense Forces Headquarters in Kigali. If bilateral defense collaboration was on the agenda, the discussion between the two men tackled different aspects of “cooperation in human resource development, military training and welfare”, a statement by the Rwanda Ministry of Defence read. During the official visit, General Oumar Diarra also met with President Paul Kagame and the minister of Defence. Mali’s army chief said the purpose of his trip was “to exchange experience and expertise on capacity building” of both the Rwanda Defence Force and Malian Armed Forces. AfricaNews

Analysts Question Fairness of Planned Trials for Guinea’s Ex-President and Colleagues
Analysts say plans by Guinea’s transitional military government to prosecute former president Alpha Condé and 26 of his top officials will likely be marred by doubts over the fairness of their trials. A 2019 Afrobarometer survey revealed that over 90% of Guineans consider the judiciary to be corrupt. Additionally, Jesper Bjarnesen, a senior researcher at Denmark-based Nordic Africa Institute, told VOA that this trial is arguably a diversion. ”There are legitimate charges against the former president,” he said, but added ”I think that a transitional government has the primary task to work towards free and fair elections.” As for judicial credibility, Bjarnesen said, “I am not sure that a temporary transitional government is the best facilitator of a legal process against the former president” and his cadre. ”There might be room for reconstitution of the judiciary with the military takeover, but that’s still a very slim hope in a system where there’s systematic abuse of power,” Bjarnesen said. “What’s more likely,” he said, “is that you’ll have new people in power making use of a dysfunctional system.” Voice of America

Niger: NGOs Complain Over Alleged Loss of $99M in State Funds
Nigerien non-governmental organisations have filed a legal complaint over alleged losses of approximately $99m in state funds, one of them has said. On Thursday, Ali Idrissa of the Nigerien Organisations for Budgetary Transparency and Analysis (ROTAB) said he and other associations combed through an audit of 2021 state spending handed to President Mohamed Bazoum last month. The groups estimated that there were discrepancies of up to 63 billion West African CFA francs ($99m). They made an official complaint on Wednesday, he said. “It’s essential that this allegation be made with the prosecutor’s office so no one can bury the file,” he told the AFP news agency. The audit, a copy of which was seen by AFP, reported a lack of documents to back the purchase of supplies or justify the construction of infrastructure, fake public tenders, and the “granting of undue advantages” to officials. It said purchases for supplies to battle coronavirus were made at “unreasonable costs”, though the health ministry defended itself, citing “demand far superior to supply in a climate of general panic” worldwide. Al Jazeera

Nigerian Analysts Skeptical About Alleged Mass Surrender of Insurgents
A Nigerian military commander said at least 51,000 Boko Haram terrorists and their families have surrendered in the country’s northeast in just the first three months of this year. Major General Chris Musa said Tuesday that the mass surrender of insurgents is a sign that Nigerian security forces are winning the 13-year-conflict against Boko Haram. But some analysts remain skeptical. Musa, the commander of operation Hadin Kai, made the announcement Tuesday to reporters in Abuja. He said among those who surrendered were 11,000 people who had been enslaved by, conscripted by or born to the insurgents…According to the country’s 2016 Safe Corridor plan, which provides recruits with a voluntary exit from Boko Haram, many defectors could have a normal civilian life. But analysts said the program, if not properly managed, could pose risks. Voice of America

Equatorial Guinea Launches Operation Against Gangs
The Equatorial Guinean authorities launched an operation on Monday to track down criminal gangs that have been terrorising the population with assaults and robberies since the beginning of the year, state television reported on Wednesday. “It said 816 police officers and gendarmes had been deployed “permanently in places where gangs are active” and had already arrested more than 300 delinquents and criminals, 119 of whom had been transferred to prisons, TVGE said. A curfew from 10pm to 6am has been introduced for young people under 18 “with a view to protecting citizens and their property and restoring peace and security”, according to a Ministry of Security order. It is justified by an “increase in delinquency and criminality perpetrated by young people under 25 (…) who attack passers-by at night with machetes and sometimes break into homes to kill their occupants”, the order adds. “If the people are crying, the government must react without question. I have decided to clean up the streets of Equatorial Guinea and teach the youths who commit crimes in the country the right way. Enough is enough, the people must regain their security,” Vice President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, nicknamed Teodorin, tweeted Monday. AfricaNews

Bank of Central African States Urges CAR To Annul Bitcoin As Currency
The Cameroon-headquartered Bank of Central African States (BEAC) has urged the Central African Republic (CAR) to annul a law it passed in late April that made the cryptocurrency Bitcoin legal tender. The bank warned in a letter made public last week that the move breached its rules and could affect monetary stability in the region. BEAC said the CAR’s decision to make Bitcoin legal tender could compete with the Central African Franc (CFA), the region’s France-backed currency. A letter from the bank’s governor to the CAR’s finance minister dated April 29, and made public last week, said the move suggests the CAR wants a currency beyond the bank’s control. The regional bank’s letter goes on to suggest using the cryptocurrency could upset monetary stability in the six-member Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). CEMAC members, including the CAR, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo, use the CFA Franc as currency. Voice of America

Kenyans Are Protesting Plans by Tax Authority To Snoop on Their Online Chats
There is outrage across Kenya after the country’s tax authority announced on May 11 that it plans to start mining data from digital devices in a bid to combat tax and financial fraud. In a notice for tenders of suppliers of software, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) calls for an application that should be able to scan through silos of data in emails, desktops, laptops, tablets, hard disks, micro-SIM ID Cloning cards, smartphones of all operating systems and even across social media accounts. The software is to be purchased at the cost of $280,000. This move, in one of the few countries in Africa that has data protection laws, has been met with anger and consternation by Kenyans. The recent move is an escalation on an announcement by the taxman in November last year that it will begin monitoring social media posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and WhatsApp in a bid to arrest Kenyans who have been posting their lavish lifestyles, cars, and assets online without paying tax for them. Quartz Africa

South Sudan’s Security Advisor in Khartoum for Bi-Lateral Talks
South Sudan’s Security Affairs advisor, Tutkew Gatluak Manime arrived in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum on Thursday for talks with the leadership the country’s Transitional Sovereignty Council. Manime, SUNA reported, was received upon arrival by the acting Foreign Affairs minister, Ambassador Ali Al-Saddiq and the Secretary General of the Transitional Sovereignty Council, Gen. Mohamed Al-Ghali Ali Yousif. He was accompanied by South Sudan’s Finance minister, Agak Achuil Lual. Speaking to reporters at the Khartoum airport, the official said he was in Sudan to discuss issues of mutual concerns, citing the peace accords in the two countries and joint cooperation in economic and political fields. Sudan Tribune

Sudan/South Sudan: Security Council Renews UNISFA’s Mandate Till November 15
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday renewed the mandate of its interim security force in Abyei (UNISFA), a region contested by Sudan and South Sudan for six months. Resolution 2630, acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and recognizing that the situation in Abyei constitutes a threat to international peace and security, extended the mission’s mandate until 15 November. The Security Council first modified the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in December 2011 to add tasks of supporting a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) of Sudan and South Sudan, which gained independence from the former in July 2011. Security Council Resolution 2630 also decided that UNISFA should maintain the authorized troop ceiling at 3,250 and authorized police ceiling at 640. It urged the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to provide full support for UNISFA to implement its mandate and deployment personnel, reiterating that Abyei shall be demilitarized from any forces and armed elements of local communities, other than UNISFA and Abyei Police Service. The UN interim force for the disputed area was set up by the Security Council in June 2011 following tensions between Sudan and South Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Senegal Border Towns Bear the Brunt of ECOWAS Sanctions in Mali
[Video] Mali is facing economic sanctions following last year’s coup. The impact of the ECOWAS embargo has been particularly disastrous for towns bordering Senegal. France 24