Africa Media Review for May 20, 2022

Century-Old Canal Project Sparks Opposition in South Sudan
A petition to stop the revival of the 118-year-old Jonglei Canal project in South Sudan, started by one of the country’s top academics, is gaining traction in the country, with the waterway touted as a catastrophic environmental and social disaster for the country’s Sudd wetlands. It follows a series of calls within South Sudan’s government to restart the project in order to prevent flooding and improve the region’s infrastructure. The country’s vice president has already announced plans to conduct a feasibility study in the hopes of getting the defunct canal operational. The vice chancellor of the University of Juba, professor John Akec, launched the ‘Save the Sudd’ social media petition with the intention to submit it to the country’s president once completed. Akec’s petition has already gained tens of thousands of signatures out of the required 100,000. Previous research has shown that the canal would have serious repercussions on the delicate ecosystem of the Sudd region, including negative effects on the aquatic, wild and domestic plants and animals, as well as interfere with the farming activities of the people in the region, potentially displacing them. AP

Germany’s Bundestag Extends Troop Deployment in Mali
Germany’s parliament, or Bundestag, voted Friday on its troop deployments in the West African country of Mali. Germany has had a The Bundestag increased German participation in the UN peacekeeping force in Mali (MINUSMA), raising the maximum number of Bundeswehr soldiers to be deployed there from 1,100 to 1,400. Germany will contribute to the peacekeeping force for another year, with 541 members of parliament voting for the measure and 103 voting against. At the same time, Germany will draw down its forces deployed in the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) from a maximum of 600 German soldiers to 300. The vast majority of these troops will be stationed in Mali’s neighbor, Niger.  The EU training mission aims to help Mali secure the country from terrorist threats and organized crime. Security forces in Burkina Faso and Mauritania will also be trained as part of Germany’s mandate in the region. Recent developments in Mali have raised concerns that the West African country is not a reliable partner. DW

Guinea-Bissau’s Political Crisis Deepens
The opposition in Guinea-Bissau has condemned President Embalo’s move to dissolve the National Assembly, saying it won’t accept the decision. The Union for Change, one of the six parties with parliamentary seats, said it does not recognize Embalo’s decision on Monday to send lawmaker’s home and to call for snap parliamentary elections in December. “Neither authorities nor the people accept the acts of this president as legitimate,” said the Union for Change’s permanent secretary Armindo Handem.”He is not a president vested with authority by the People’s National Assembly,” Handem told reporters in the capital Bissau. The West African nation of about two million people has been in a political deadlock for months because of divisions between parliament and the presidency.  Handem also said parliament, which he underlined was a “a legally and constitutionally valid authority”, needed to decide whether it would accept its dissolution by the president. DW

US Says ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero ‘Wrongfully Detained’
The United States said Thursday it has determined that “Hotel Rwanda” hero Paul Rusesabagina has been “wrongfully detained” by Kigali, which handed him a 25-year prison term. Rusesabagina, who holds U.S. permanent residence and Belgian citizenship, has denounced Rwandan President Paul Kagame as a dictator and was sentenced by a court on “terrorism” charges. “The Department of State has determined Paul Rusesabagina is wrongfully detained,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “The determination took into account the totality of the circumstances, notably the lack of fair trial guarantees during his trial,” it said. The designation requires the State Department, which has earlier voiced concern about the case, to work to free him. Rusesabagina, then a Kigali hotel manager, is credited with saving hundreds of lives during the 1994 genocide, and his actions inspired the Hollywood film “Hotel Rwanda.” He has been behind bars since his arrest in August 2020 when a plane he believed was bound for Burundi landed instead in Kigali. Voice of America

Why Hussein Roble Has to Leave Somalia Prime Minister Post
Somalia Prime Minister Hussein Roble will be leaving his post once the new President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud names his substantive government, in line with Somalia’s delicate clan balancing to ensure no clan dominate the government. Mr Roble and President Mohamud come from the larger Hawiye clan although the PM is from the smaller Habar-Gidir sub-clan while the President is from Abgaal. As such, they cannot continue holding their positions at the same time, based on a formula known as 4.5. The 4.5 formula, a loose arranged rotational democracy practice, means that Somali’s four main clans—Hawiye, Darod, Dir, and Digil & Mirifle (Rahenweyn)—share out power, alongside the smaller clans generally considered the .5. Under the outgoing government of Mohamed Farmaajo, who comes from the Marehan sub-clan of the Darod clan, appointed Prime Ministers from the Hawiye. Mr Roble’s predecessor Hassan Khaire came from a different sub-clan of the Hawiye. East African

Britain, Rwanda Defend Asylum-Seekers Plan at UN Agencies
Britain and Rwanda on Thursday faced down two United Nations agencies that have sharply criticized their controversial plan in which Britain expects to send some asylum-seekers from the U.K. to the African country. In an interview with The Associated Press before meeting top officials from the U.N. human rights and refugee agencies, Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta acknowledged it was “fine that they be concerned,” adding that the discussion was aimed “to bring them on board” to work with the two countries. The U.N. refugee agency chief, in remarks on Twitter, sounded unconvinced. Under the plan unveiled last month, British officials said they will send to migrants arriving in the U.K. illegally – often as stowaways or in small boats crossing the English Channel – to Rwanda. There the migrants’ asylum claims will be processed, and if successful, the migrants will stay there. AP

Sudan Timeline January – March 2022: Political Turmoil, Lawlessness as Attempts to Revive Democratic Transition Collapse
The first days of 2022 saw the final collapse of the already tenuous political agreement that reinstated Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok after a period of house arrest following the military coup d’état of October 25 last year. On January 2, PM Hamdok announced his resignation in a televised address to the Sudanese people. He underlined that he was unable to combine all the components of the transition to reach a unified vision, describing the crisis in the country as political, but it gradually, includes all aspects of economic and social life. His resignation came amid ongoing reports of Sudanese security forces violently suppressing waves of the Marches of the Millions, that saw hundreds of thousands take to the streets across the country to express their rejection of the military coup. In the subsequent vacuum and chaos, lawlessness and insecurity increased, especially in Darfur and Kordofan, fuelled by marauding gangs of armed bandits made up of former combatants and militiamen. Stores and compounds of international peacekeeping and relief organisations were raided, looted, and often levelled. The international community, largely via the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), initiated the facilitation of dialogue between the various actors in Sudan, in an attempt to solve the political impasse. Dabanga

UN: 18 Million Facing Severe Hunger in West Africa’s Sahel
The U.N. is warning that 18 million people in Africa’s Sahel region face severe hunger in the next three months, citing the impacts of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the coronavirus pandemic, climate-induced shocks and rising costs. The hunger crisis may press increased numbers of people to migrate out of the affected areas, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Friday. The largest number of people are at risk of severe hunger across the region since 2014, and four countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger — are facing “alarming levels,” with nearly 1.7 million people facing emergency levels of food insecurity there, according to the U.N. agency. Parts of the Sahel region, a vast territory stretching across the south of the Sahara Desert, have faced their worst agricultural production in more than a decade, and food shortages could worsen as the lean season arrives in late summer, Tomson Phiri, spokesman for the U.N.’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning World Food Program, said. AP

Ghana: Kwaku Ohene-Frempong, Expert in Sickle Cell Disease, Dies at 76
Soon after his first child, Kwame, was born on May 13, 1972, Dr. Kwaku Ohene-Frempong discovered that the boy had a fatal genetic disease. “I was holding Kwame, and he came upstairs with tears in his eyes,” his wife, Janet Ohene-Frempong, said in an interview, recalling the moment her husband broke the news. “He said, ‘Our son, Kwame, has sickle cell disease.’ He knew what that meant.” Sickle cell can result in searing pain, organ damage, strokes, susceptibility to infections and premature death. Dr. Ohene-Frempong, a medical student at Yale at the time, then called his mother at their family home in Ghana. “God is telling you something,” she told him. The message, she said, was to use his medical training to help combat the disease. And that is what he did “until he drew his last breath,” Ms. Ohene-Frempong said. New York Times

Relatives of Nigeria Train Attack Victims Oppose Resumption of Railway Service
Families of people kidnapped from a train in Nigeria’s Kaduna state two months ago are protesting a decision by authorities to resume service on the railway next week. Officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) said trains would begin running between the capital, Abuja, and Kaduna city again on Monday. Relatives of kidnapped victims met Thursday morning to protest the planned resumption of train service on the Kaduna-Abuja line. Authorities suspended service indefinitely on March 28, the day armed men blew up tracks in Kaduna and attacked a train. Nine people were killed during the attack and scores are still missing. During Thursday’s protest, the spokesperson of the group, Abdulfatai Jimoh, said at least 61 people were believed to be held captive, including Jimoh’s wife. He said the government has been insensitive to the families’ plight. “Our relatives kidnapped are still in captivity and we want them to be freed first before they can start thinking of that,” he said. “We want the NRC management and the Ministry of Transportation to put adequate security measures in place to guarantee the safety of passengers before train services can resume. These are the minimum conditions we require from them.” Voice of America

Namibia Goes to Europe to Sell Its Sunshine
As Europe struggles to decarbonise its economy and wean itself off Russian oil and gas, one of the world’s sunniest and most arid nations is pitching itself to the continent as an answer to its problems. A delegation from sub-Saharan Africa’s driest country has been touring Europe to tout their nation as a potential powerhouse of clean energy. They say Namibia can produce so much solar power it will soon be self-sufficient in electricity – and, by the end of the decade, could become an exporter of so-called green hydrogen. “We came to Europe saying we have this amazing sun,” said James Mnyupe, economic adviser to the Namibian presidency. He was in Rotterdam earlier this month for the “World Hydrogen Summit” trade fair and on Wednesday was making a pitch in Paris ahead of a trip to Davos. A huge, chiefly desert country in southwestern Africa with a population of just 2.5 million, Namibia is sun-drenched and bone-dry. That makes it perfect for erecting gigantic solar farms, whose power can be used to help make hydrogen — which in turn can be used for fuel or converted into ammonia to make fertiliser. Producing hydrogen entails splitting water into its component parts of hydrogen and oxygen, using an energy-gobbling technique called electrolysis. Namibia says it is in a unique position to make the process clean. AFP

UN Slams South Africa’s Inability to Arrest Suspected Rwandan War Criminal Living in the Country
The United Nations Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has turned its focus on Fulgence Kayishema, a suspected Rwandan genocide perpetrator who it believes is in South Africa. This was revealed on Wednesday by MICT chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz after his crack team established that another genocide fugitive, Phénéas Munyarugarama, 74, had died of “natural causes” in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002. “My office is now fully focused on accounting for the final four fugitives who remain at large. Our main priority now is Fulgence Kayishema, who we previously located in South Africa,” he said. Kayishema, 62, was the inspector of the judicial police at the time of the genocide. He allegedly ordered the killing of Tutsis inside Nyange church and brought fuel for use by the militia to burn down the church. An estimated 2 000 civilians died in this attack alone. On 11 December 2019, Brammertz wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa revealing his displeasure about South Africa’s lack of co-operation in arresting Kayishema. News24

Probes into Anti-France Demo Deaths in Niger Say Cause Unclear
[Video] Investigations into the death of three people killed last November during a protest against a French military convoy travelling through Niger have failed to pinpoint the cause, the government said. France 24

Under the Volcano: A Year After Mount Nyiragongo’s Eruption, People of Goma Start to Rebuild Their Lives
[Photos] Mount Nyiragongo, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, erupted in May last year. More than 360,000 people were displaced from around Goma but the aid has dried up and now they must largely fend for themselves. Guardian

Liberia: A Post-War Surfing Renaissance Is Underway in Africa’s Oldest Republic
Nestled between Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Guinea, Liberia is the oldest republic in Africa. But despite its historic legacy, in the minds of many outsiders the West African nation is still more commonly associated with civil war and convicted war criminal Charles Taylor. But at the end of the second civil war in 2003, as Liberia was on the cusp of democratically electing the continent’s first female head of state, a different narrative was emerging in the fishing village of Robertsport; one that would ultimately change the culture of this tiny seaside community on the border of Sierra Leone. “After the war in 2003, some Americans came to Robertsport, where they started surfing our waves,” recalls local surfer Philip Banini. “(They) came across a Black guy, Alfred Lomax, who was the first Liberian surfer, and they taught him the sport. And that was how he too started sharing it with the locals around here.” Lomax, now the country’s most recognized and decorated surfer, taught Banini, who in turn has taught countless others, growing the community from one into many. CNN

 



Photo: Adam Jones