Africa Media Review for May 25, 2023

Guinea’s Suppression of Protests Stokes Anger against Military
With the acrid smell of burning tyres hanging in the air, Conakry resident Mariame Diallo pointed to blood splatters on a wall where she said her teenage brother was shot at close range during a protest in the capital against Guinea’s military government on May 11. “I will never forgive those who killed him,” she said between bouts of quiet crying. Clutching a bag of blood-soaked clothes that she hopes will be used for a police investigation that has yet to begin, she recalled how her apprentice brother, Boubacar, fearing the anti-government demonstrations, stayed at home, only to be shot dead by police in front of the family house. … Boubacar was one of the seven people killed that day in the West African nation as anti-government protests and violent clashes with security forces gain momentum over frustrations with military leaders overseeing a promised return to democratic rule. … It was the latest clampdown as anger mounts against military governments that seized power in a series of coups in the West and Central Africa region since 2020, with frustrations growing over the slow pace of a planned return to constitutional rule. Al Jazeera

Sudan: UN Condemns Sexual Violence amid Weeklong Cease-Fire
US and Saudi monitors said both parties have violated the truce. UN human rights chief Volker Turk called on both sides to stop sexual violence and spare civilians’ lives. Clashes continued in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum as a seven day cease-fire agreement entered its second full day on Wednesday, with the UN condemning the use of sexual violence in the conflict. The latest truce is being monitored by Saudi Arabia and the United States. It is meant to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, with hopes it could pave the way for a more lasting pause in the deadly clashes. Heavy fighting, which has been ongoing since April 15, has been taking place between Sudan’s military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Several cease-fire agreements have been brokered, yet none managed to completely quell the fighting. The current cease-fire began in the evening on Monday and is meant to last for seven days, with the possibility of extension. DW

Over One Million People Displaced in Four Months in Somalia, the UN Says
More than a million Somalis have been displaced within their own country in just over four months through a “toxic” mix of drought, conflict and floods, humanitarian agencies said Wednesday. Around 433 000 people were forced from their homes between 1 January and 10 May as a grinding Islamist insurgency raged and clashes broke out in the breakaway Somaliland region, the UN refugee agency UNHCR and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said. In addition, “over 408,000 people were displaced by floods sweeping across their villages and another 312,000 people were displaced by ravaging drought,” they said in a joint statement. Somalia and its neighbours in the Horn of Africa including Ethiopia and Kenya have been suffering the worst drought in four decades after five failed rainy seasons that have left millions of people in need and decimated crops and livestock. News24/AFP

Tunisia Court Frees Radio Station Boss Held in Crackdown
A Tunisian court on Wednesday decided to free after more than three months’ detention the head of the country’s most listened to radio station, whose release had been sought by the European Union. Noureddine Boutar, director of Mosaique FM, was let out on payment of 1 million dinars ($324,000) bail, his lawyer Dalila Msaddek said, adding he is not allowed to go abroad. … Boutar is among more than 20 prominent figures held since early this year in what Amnesty International has labeled a “politically motivated witch hunt.” … In March the European Parliament, in a non-binding resolution, decried the “authoritarian drift” of Tunisia’s President Kais Saied and called for Boutar’s immediate release. Saied says those detained were “terrorists” involved in a “conspiracy against state security.” In July 2021 he began a power grab with the suspension of parliament that was followed by a series of moves including a new constitution that gave his office unlimited powers and neutered the legislature. VOA

Families Ask Human Rights Court to Free Jailed Tunisian Opposition Leaders
Families of detained Tunisian opposition politicians filed a case at the African court on human and peoples’ rights in Arusha, Tanzania, on Wednesday, accusing Tunisia of unlawfully arresting and detaining the leaders. “On the evidence we are seeing so far, there is no proper basis for the charges,” said Rodney Dixon, a British lawyer handling the case. “They weren’t arrested lawfully with proper warrants, and the allegations haven’t been substantiated.” The families are also asking the court for urgent interim measures, including the immediate release of the detainees, or the protection of their rights, including medical access, while in jail. Guardian

Modern Slavery Most Common in North Korea and Eritrea: Study
North Korea, Eritrea and Mauritania have the highest prevalence of modern slavery in the world, according to the 2023 Global Slavery Index published Wednesday, which noted a “worsening” situation globally since its last survey five years earlier. The report said an estimated 50 million people were “living in situations of modern slavery” in 2021, an increase of 10 million over 2016, when the problem was last measured. The figure includes some 28 million people in forced labour and 22 million living in a forced marriage. The situation is worsening “against a backdrop of increasing and more complex armed conflicts, widespread environmental degradation” and impacts from the coronavirus pandemic, among other factors, the investigation said. Compiled by the human rights charity Walk Free, the report defines modern slavery as encompassing “forced labour, forced or servile marriage, debt bondage, forced commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploitation of children.” AfricaNews/AFP

ICC Prosecutor Issues Secret Arrest Warrants for Libya Crimes
The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that the court has issued four new secret arrest warrants for crimes allegedly committed in Libya since 2011. “I can announce today that four warrants were issued by the independent judges of the International Criminal Court,” Karim Khan said in presenting his half-yearly report on Libya to the UN body. He added that his office in the last few weeks had applied for two more arrest warrants, but judges have not yet ruled on those applications. The warrants are currently under seal, so it is not clear who is targeted or what crimes specifically the ICC prosecutor is charging. The prosecutor has asked judges for the warrants to be unsealed and a decision is pending. Al Arabiya

In the Congo’s Ituri Region, Two Villages Tell the Story of Two Communities at War
Since it resumed in 2017, the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo between the Hema and Lendu has left several thousand people dead in the east of the country. … The conflicts between these two communities date back to colonization when the Belgian authorities relied on the Hema to the detriment of the Lendu, who claim to be the indigenous people. After independence, the Lendu’s sense of marginalization became more pronounced when the Hema received agricultural concessions at the time of President Mobutu Sese Seko’s “Zairianisation,” a process whereby foreign-owned properties were redistributed to the Congolese people. Economic and land rivalries remained dormant until the late 1990s, when community militias tipped the region, rich in arable land and minerals – particularly gold – into the Second Congo War (1999-2003) involving Kinshasa and the two neighboring Rwandan and Ugandan armies. Le Monde

DRC Plans to Take Majority Stake in Joint Minerals Venture with China
The Democratic Republic of Congo aims to boost its stake in a cobalt and copper joint venture with Chinese firms to 70 percent from 32 percent, on concerns the deal gives away too much of Congo’s resources with little benefit to the country. The plan to boost Congo’s stake and have greater control in managing the Sicomines venture – currently dominated by the Chinese firms – was detailed in a document seen by Reuters, that outlined the country’s demands ahead of talks to overhaul a $6 billion infrastructure-for-minerals agreement. President Felix Tshisekedi who is set to visit China instructed his government on May 19 to move ahead with the talks after Congolese stakeholders “consolidated their position” on the 2008 deal. The lopsided pact, Congo says, leaves it little means to control the operations of the venture as its resources and revenue that are leaving the country. Reuters

Museveni Demands Kenya Extradites Turkana Herders for Murder Trial in Uganda
President Yoweri Museveni has demanded that Kenya hands over for trial Turkana herders, who allegedly killed five Ugandans in the volatile northeastern Karamoja region in March 2022. Through Executive Order No.3 of 2023, issued on May 19 and released on Wednesday, to end illegal guns making their way into Uganda, the veteran leader gave the Turkana a six-month ultimatum to comply with the directive, short of which he would expel all Turkana and their herds from Uganda soil. Those killed in the raid by suspected Turkana cattle rustlers included three geologists from the ministry of energy, one Uganda People’s Defence Forces officer and one soldier. … The Executive Order says that any Turkana entering Uganda with a gun would now be arrested and charged with terrorism by the military court. East African

Thirsty Elephants Rampage through North Cameroon City
Wildlife officials in north Cameroon are struggling against a marauding herd of elephants that wandered into a regional capital this week after trampling through surrounding villages, killing at least two people, they said on Wednesday. An estimated 6 830 elephants live in Cameroon, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, making it one of the largest populations of the endangered species left in Africa. Conservation efforts have increased their numbers over the past years. But the loss of habitat to plantations and villages causes the animals to occasionally wander into human settlements, trampling crops and homes and sometimes charging people. … Climate change-linked droughts have exacerbated tensions, as thirsty elephants are more likely to encroach villages and towns. Reuters

South Africa Load-Shedding: The Roots of Eskom’s Power Problem
South Africa is heading into the southern hemisphere winter with the prospect of the country’s worst-ever power cuts – up to 16 hours a day. The roots of the problem lie in poor management, corruption and sabotage. Late one Thursday afternoon, last November, a maintenance contractor reached his hand under a huge rotating shaft at an ageing power station in South Africa. It took the man just a few seconds to unscrew a steel plug, smaller than a coffee mug. As he moved away from the scene, precious lubrication oil quickly began seeping from the innards of the shaft. The steel bearings inside overheated and before long the coal mill, and with it one of the station’s eight turbines, ground to a sudden, and expensive, halt. If you are looking to understand South Africa’s current struggles – its soaring crime and unemployment rates, its stubborn inequality and stagnant economy, its relentless corruption and crippling power cuts, and its broader drift towards what some fear could become “gangster state” or even “failed state” territory – then this one act of industrial sabotage, at a coal-fired power station on the high plains east of Johannesburg, is a good place to start. BBC

Cholera Kills 17 in South Africa and a Further 9 in Neighboring Zimbabwe
At least 17 people have died in a cholera outbreak in the Hammanskraal township outside South Africa’s capital, Pretoria, authorities said Wednesday. The toll has risen from an initial 10 fatalities reported by local health authorities earlier this week. Authorities said there were another 29 laboratory-confirmed cholera cases, while 67 people were admitted to a hospital and clinics for gastrointestinal infections. Health authorities are yet to confirm the exact source of the cholera outbreak, but poor wastewater management and local government instability in South Africa’s capital city have been blamed for the situation. … In neighboring Zimbabwe, a country with a history of deadly cholera outbreaks, authorities say the capital, Harare, is turning into an epicenter of the current outbreak. Residents in some suburbs have gone for months without tap water, forcing them to dig shallow wells and boreholes that have been contaminated by raw sewage flowing from burst pipes. AfricaNews/AP

Zimbabwe: ZEC Petitioned Over Exorbitant Candidate Nomination Fees
Seven Civic Society Organizations (CSOs) have petitioned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), demanding an immediate revision of the exorbitant candidate nomination fees. The nomination fees, as per Statutory Instrument 144 of 2022, currently stand at US$20,000 for presidential candidates, payable in cash or at the prevailing official rate equivalent and candidates for Parliament must pay US$1,000, while Proportional Representation party lists for Parliament and Provincial Councils are required to pay US$100. The CSOs argue that the current fees pose a significant barrier to political participation, particularly for marginalized groups such as young people, women, and persons with disabilities. … The CSOs stressed that the exorbitant fees are a systemic obstacle to political aspirations for marginalized groups. 263Chat

One of Last Four Rwanda Genocide Fugitives Arrested in South Africa
Fulgence Kayishema, one of the last four fugitives sought for their role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, has been arrested in South Africa, UN investigators said on Thursday. “Yesterday afternoon, Fulgence Kayishema – one of the world’s most wanted genocide fugitives – was arrested in Paarl, South Africa in a joint operation,” the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) said in a statement. Kayishema is alleged to have orchestrated the killing of approximately 2,000 Tutsi refugees at the Nyange Catholic Church during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. A former judicial police inspector, he faces charges of genocide, complicity in and conspiracy to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity. He has been on the run since July 2001. AFP/Reuters

Ukrainian Diplomat Calls on Africa to Support Kyiv against Moscow
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged African countries on Wednesday to abandon their stances of neutrality towards his country’s war with Russia. … Many African countries have refused to take sides in the European conflict, with several abstaining from votes at the United Nations General Assembly condemning Russia’s invasion. Ethiopia is one of them. Russia has built a substantial presence in several parts of Africa, where Russian private military contractor Wagner is active, and recently held joint military drills with South Africa. Russia plans to hold an Africa-Russia summit in July. Kuleba also called on African countries to endorse the “ten-point peace formula” proposed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in December and emphasised Ukraine’s wish to build better relationships with Africa, based on trade in energy, technology and pharmaceuticals. … Kubela made his first trip to Africa in October when he visited Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Kenya. The trip was cut short after Russia launched strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure. AfricaNews

Why Turkey’s Election is Being Closely Followed in Africa
Turkey’s influence in Africa has been growing massively over the past 20 years and whoever wins Sunday’s presidential run-off will have to consider where next to take the relationship. Ever since Recep Tayyip Erdogan took power in Turkey two decades ago, first as prime minister then as president, he has taken an increasing interest in Africa. He saw economic, military and diplomatic opportunities. The bond between Ankara and the continent is likely to only get stronger if the president is re-elected. His rival, Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, has his eyes set on Europe and the West and is less likely to make Africa a priority. … However, Ece Goksedef from the BBC’s Turkish service points out that Turkey’s foreign policy towards the continent would take some time to recalibrate, so it is unlikely it will change that drastically given the strong foundation of this new relationship. BBC

UN Peacekeeping on 75th Anniversary: Successes, Failures and Many Challenges
Over the past 75 years, the United Nations sent more than 2 million peacekeepers to help countries move away from conflict, with successes from Liberia to Cambodia and major failures in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Today, it faces new challenges in the dozen hotspots where U.N. peacekeeping has operations, including more violent environments, fake news campaigns and a divided world that is preventing its ultimate goal: successfully restoring stable governments. The organization is marking the 75th anniversary of U.N. peacekeeping and observing the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on Thursday. … In a message, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called peacekeepers “the beating heart of our commitment to a more peaceful world,” pointing to their support for communities rocked by conflict and upheavals across the globe. U.N. peacekeeping operations have grown dramatically. At the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, there were 11,000 U.N. peacekeepers. By 2014, there were 130,000 in 16 far-flung peacekeeping operations. Today, 87,000 men and women serve in 12 conflict areas in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. AP