Africa Media Review for May 3, 2021

African Youth Engaging in Peace and Security
Africa remains the world’s youngest continent with a median age of 19.7 years. By 2050, one in three young people will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. … Faced with staggering youth unemployment and widespread dissatisfaction with the performances of their governments, young Africans are growing restless. This restlessness is manifested in the form of increasing tensions between an entrenched patronage-based, autocratic political leadership and an expanding, increasingly educated and connected cohort of youth demanding reform and greater political openness. Without a path for reform, youth will despair, and conditions will further deteriorate, possibly leading to more instability and conflict. Yet, most African youth have not chosen the path of violence. Many have been leading the record numbers of protests seen across Africa in recent years. This raises the question of how youth can meaningfully and constructively engage in their countries, pushing for reforms and improved security. Following are some of the existing initiatives instigated and led by young Africans that aim to channel the energy and passion of African youth toward positive impact. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Somalia’s Parliament Unanimously Votes to Cancel Presidential Extension
Somali lawmakers voted unanimously on Saturday to cancel a two-year presidential term extension they had approved last month, after clashes in the capital Mogadishu between factions of the security forces, which are divided over the issue. In a speech following the vote in the lower house of parliament, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble ordered the army to return to barracks and urged politicians to avoid inciting violence. The political crisis has raised fears that al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents could exploit a security vacuum if state forces split along clan lines and turn on each other. The group has taken over at least one Somali town in the past week as heavily armed fighters moved from the countryside into the capital city. … Saturday’s lower house vote was broadcast on Somali television and came shortly after Mohamed addressed parliament and said he was directing the prime minister to prepare to hold a delayed parliamentary election. Roble said in a Twitter post late on Saturday that the government will “soon” prepare the plan for elections and thanked the president and the parliament. Reuters

Chad Military Council Names Transitional Government
The military council that took power in Chad last month after the shock death of veteran leader Idriss Deby has named a transitional government, the army spokesman said. Deby’s 37-year-old son Mahamat, who took the helm of the so-called “Transitional Military Council (CMT),” named a government on Sunday comprising 40 ministers and deputy ministers and created a new national reconciliation ministry, military council spokesman Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a televised statement. The new ministry is to be headed by Acheick Ibn Oumar, a former rebel chief who became a diplomatic adviser to the presidency in 2019. Longtime opposition politician Saleh Kebzabo was not named to the transition government, but he issued a statement saying he “recognised” it. Two members of his party were given portfolios. Another opposition figure, Mahamat Ahmat Alhabo, will be justice minister in the country of around 16 million. … The transitional council is meant to be in place for 18 months and lead to democratic elections – a claim opposition parties have dismissed, calling the arrangement a coup. Al Jazeera

‘We’re Just Trying to Survive’: What Africa Risks from a New COVID Wave
“What is happening in India cannot be ignored by our continent,” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said last week. … The warning to increase resources in Africa comes as the pandemic’s brutal economic consequences on the continent become increasingly clear. “The impact has been immense. These are countries with very limited social safety nets, already very high levels of debt and … very little resources to respond to a crisis of this magnitude,” said Murithi Murtiga, a Nairobi-based analyst with the International Crisis Group. … Although analysts predict a steady economic recovery on the continent during 2021, the outbreak has undone years of growth. The slow rollout of vaccines in Africa threatens to cause further misery, with new waves of infections likely to bring many more deaths and further economic damage. … Murtiga described a “multilayered crisis,” despite fairly resilient economies which rebound quickly. “Household budgets have collapsed, and during lockdowns there was limited support for those who lost livelihoods. At a macro level, there is very little fiscal space and this has left countries facing a tough task in terms of recovery,” he said. The slowdown has hit those earning a living from informal urban jobs hardest, especially women. The Guardian

Congo Declares State of Siege Over Eastern Bloodshed
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi on Friday declared a state of siege over the worsening violence in the eastern provinces of Ituri and North Kivu that has killed hundreds this year and displaced more than 1.5 million. A surge in attacks by armed militias and inter-communal violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have killed over 300 people since the start of the year as government troops and U.N. peacekeepers struggle to stabilize the mineral-rich territory. Announcing Tshisekedi’s decision, government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya said: “The objective is to swiftly end the insecurity which is killing our fellow citizens in that part of the country on a daily basis.” He did not say what steps would be taken next under the state of siege in the two affected regions. On Friday armed police in North Kivu’s regional hub of Beni dispersed students who were staging an eight-day sit-in at the town hall to draw attention to the worsening security situation. Several students were wounded and others were arrested, according to a Reuters witness. A Ugandan insurgent faction active in eastern Congo since the 1990s called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) is believed to be responsible for much of the recent bloodshed. Reuters

Islamic Leader Slain in East Congo after Attacks Killing 19
An Islamic leader in Congo’s eastern town of Beni was killed during evening prayers by unidentified gunmen after days of violent attacks by rebels left at least 19 people dead, officials said. Gunmen came into Beni’s central mosque Saturday, shooting dead Sheikh Ali Amin Uthman, the representative of the Islamic community of Beni, according to the head of the mosque, Sheikh Moustapha Matsongani. The identity of the attackers was not yet known. Matsongani told The Associated Press that Amin had been receiving threats from the Allied Democratic Forces for more than a year, and had been questioned by security services days earlier about those threats. “We asked him to leave Beni if possible to flee the death threats,” said the governor of the North Kivu province, Nzanzu Carly Kasivita. “Investigations are underway.” Amin had often gone on the radio to denounce extremism. His attack came on the heels of attacks in villages for days that left 19 dead, according to civil society groups. AP

Sixteen Soldiers Killed in Western Niger Ambush
Sixteen Nigerien soldiers were killed and another was missing after an ambush on a military patrol in the Tahoua region near the border with Mali. During the attack by “bandits” on Saturday, the toll was “16 dead, six injured and one missing,” Tahoua official Ibrahim Miko said on public television. He attended the funeral of Lieutenant Maman Namewa, commander of the patrol that was attacked. The vast desert area of Tahoua in west Niger – near the borders of Mali and Burkina Faso – has been plagued by violence since 2012. In March, an attack by rebel fighters on three villages near Niger’s border with Mali left a total of 141 people dead. They were the worst attacks committed by armed groups in Niger in recent years. Al Jazeera

Niger Army Killed 24 ‘Suspected Terrorists:’ Government
Niger troops killed 24 “suspected terrorists” after they sought to escape after being captured in the west of the country, the government said Sunday. The suspects had been planning an attack on the market town of Banibangou but the army was alerted and, after an exchange of fire, 26 people were arrested on April 28, the defense ministry said in a statement. One of the “suspected terrorists” died later from gun wounds. As they were awaiting transfer to nearby Chinegodar, where there is a military base “the prisoners tried to escape” overnight on Thursday and managed to disarm a guard, the ministry said. “After ignoring warning shots, 24 prisoners were fatally wounded and one of them was able to escape,” it said, adding that an inquiry had been launched. Chinegodar and Banibangou are in the Tillaberi region which is on the borders of both Mali and Burkina Faso. It is regularly attacked by jihadist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda or Islamic State. The Defense Post with AFP

Nigeria Jihadists Attack Two Army Bases, 8 Killed
Nigerian jihadists have attacked two army bases in the restive northeast, overrunning one camp and killing at least eight people, military sources said on Sunday. Islamic State-aligned militants have intensified attacks on army camps in recent weeks as part of a more than decade-long insurgency that has killed more than 36,000 people. Jihadists attacked a base in Ajiri early on Sunday morning, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away from the Borno state capital Maiduguri, and late Saturday hit a base in Rann in the same state, the military sources said. In Ajiri, troops fought a two-hour gun battle with jihadists in gun trucks and on motorbikes who eventually breached the base and forced troops to withdraw. “The commanding officer of the base… paid the supreme price while six civilians who were caught up in the fight were also killed,” one of the military sources said. Another source confirmed the toll and said militants escaped with weapons from the base. Late on Saturday, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) fighters attacked a base in Rann, 172 kilometers from Maiduguri, but were beaten back by troops using artillery. The Defense Post with AFP

Insecurity: 18 Police Officers Killed across Nigeria Last Week
At least 18 police officers were killed in separate attacks across Nigeria last week, continuing a trend of targeted attacks on Nigerian security officials. The targeted killings and destruction of police facilities started several weeks ago, mostly in the South-east and South-south regions and have since continued unabated; with experts saying these could worsen the already dire security situation across the country. The attacks in the two regions are separate from the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east. Also, as part of the general insecurity across the country, several states in Nigeria have been struggling with kidnapping for ransom, banditry, frequent clashes between farmers and herders, and inter-communal conflicts. Due to the regular attacks on security outfits in the South-east, the governors and heads of security agencies in the five states in the region held a summit on security where they agreed to establish a joint security outfit to check the insecurity in the region. IPOB, an outlawed secessionist group, and its security network, ESN, has been accused of being responsible for some of the attacks against the police in the South-east, but the group has denied any involvement. Premium Times

Ethiopia to Designate TPLF, OLF-Shene as ‘Terror’ Groups
Ethiopia has added two armed groups to its “terror list,” including the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), against which it launched a massive security operation late last year. The council of ministers approved a resolution on Saturday to designate the TPLF as a “terrorist” organisation, along with the OLF-Shene, after several attacks in different parts of the country targeting civilians and public infrastructure over the past couple of years. The move, endorsed by a meeting of cabinet members chaired by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, could lead to further prosecution and the arrest of the groups’ members and supporters. A statement issued by the prime minister’s office said the two groups “operate as terrorists and their management or decision-makers have acknowledged or are leading destructive activities on the nation.” It added the decision would apply to organisations and individuals who collaborate, have links with or relate to the ideas and actions of the designated “terrorist” organisations. Al Jazeera

Ugandan President’s Son Named in ICC Complaint over Abductions and Abuse
Lawyers acting for the victims of a wave of abductions and torture by security forces in Uganda have named senior military commanders, including the president’s son, in a complaint to the international criminal court. Prosecutors at the ICC are already reviewing an earlier submission from the opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, the former reggae singer known as Bobi Wine, describing widespread human rights abuses before presidential polls held in January. President Yoweri Museveni claimed victory in the vote, which was marred by allegations of fraud and the death of at least 50 people during protests. Most were shot by security forces. Kyagulanyi’s National Unity Platform party has listed more than 600 members and activists said to have been detained. NUP officials believe the true figure is likely to be higher. It has been difficult to identify the masked men or vehicles used in the abductions as well as torturers and guards in prison. However, lawyers, campaigners and victims blame the Special Forces Command, an elite military unit, for many of the abuses. The new complaint, also filed on behalf of Kyagulanyi, will be submitted to the ICC this week. The SFC is commanded by Museveni’s son 47-year-old son Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is named in the complaint along with several senior officers. The Guardian

Great Expectations as Kenya Prepares to Receive Samia on Her Maiden State Visit
There was an air of optimism in Kenya ahead of a planned visit by Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan to Nairobi this week, a visit expected to cement recent commitments between the two countries and address some sticking issues in their relations. Nairobi and Dar es Salaam confirmed that President Samia was expected in Nairobi on Tuesday. Earlier in April President Uhuru Kenyatta invited the new Tanzanian leader to Kenya. President Samia has already visited Uganda, where she and President Yoweri Museveni signed a multibillion-dollar oil pipeline deal last month. Now, Kenya expects that under her tenure, the spats over tariff and non-tariff barriers and movement of goods, people and labour under the EAC Common Market Protocol will begin to be resolved in a structured manner. …On Tuesday, after swearing in new appointees at the State House in Dar es Salaam, President Samia ordered reforms in the investment sector for the country to regain investor trust and stimulate business. Work permits, intra trade flows and review of laws regulating trade and investment between the two countries are expected to top the agenda during the state visit. The EastAfrican

Sudan MoH Warns of Overcrowding as COVID-19 Cases Rise and Health Situation Is ‘Dire’
The Ministry of Health of Khartoum state warned about crowded markets and gatherings now the coronavirus pandemic is witnessing a significant increase in infections. The director of the health ministry’s General Administration described the health situation in Sudan as dire with shortages of medicine and hospital beds. Heba Hassanein, director of the health ministry’s General Administration, said that 90 per cent of the people in Khartoum expose themselves to high-risk environments due to overcrowding. She described the situation in hospitals and care centres as dire and said that all isolation centres are completely occupied, there is no oxygen available anymore, and there are no extra beds as the third COVID-19 wave spreads through the country. Earlier this month, medics raised alarm over the dire medicine shortages and lack of health care funding. In El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, the authorities closed the Emergency section of the El Geneina Teaching Hospital after two COVID-19 patients were brought in. Radio Dabanga

UN Sounds Alarm over Dangerous Famine Threat in Madagascar
Famine threatens southern Madagascar after drought and sandstorms ruined harvests, reducing people to eating locusts and leaves, the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday. The lives of children are in danger, especially those under five years old whose malnutrition rates have reached “alarming levels,” Amer Daoudi, senior director of global WFP operations, said by videolink from Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo. At least 1.35 million people are in need of food assistance in the region, but the WFP is only reaching 750,000 with “half-rations” due to financial constraints, he said. “Famine looms in southern Madagascar as communities witness an almost total disappearance of food sources which has created a full-blown nutrition emergency,” Daoudi told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. Reuters

Ghana Opens First Us Government Funded Malaria-Focused Laboratory at Military Hospital
Ghana has opened the Joint Operational Vector-borne Disease Entomology Laboratory at 37 Military Hospital in Accra. It is the first lab of its kind in Ghana made possible with the strong military-to-military cooperation between Ghana and the US. Funded by the US government through the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) Africa Malaria Task Force (AMTF), the laboratory will establish a combined entomology research and control programme. Along with US Ambassador, Stephanie Sullivan, representatives of the Ghana Armed Forces, Ghana Police Service, National Malaria Control Programme, and Noguchi Memorial Institute of Medical Research participated in the ceremonial event to inaugurate the laboratory.The laboratory will support the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Health malaria control programmes with mosquito surveillance, directing insecticide applications, insecticides resistance monitoring, and mapping of potential disease-causing mosquitoes. The lab will also be a regional entomology hub in West Africa for other AMTF partners to benefit from in the future. Ghana Business News

Mozambique Mints a New National Park — and Surveys Its Riches
When you stand in the Chimanimani Mountains, it’s difficult to reconcile their present serenity with their beleaguered past. From the valleys below, enormous walls of gray stone rise above dense deciduous forests. Hidden among various crevices are ancient rock paintings, made in the late Stone Age by the San people, also known as Bushmen; they depict dancing men and women, and hunting parties chasing after elephants. There’s even a painting of a crocodile so enormous that it may forever deter you from the riverbank. As you climb higher, toward Mount Binga, Mozambique’s highest peak, the forests flatten into expanses of montane grasslands. Wild, isolated, lost in time, it’s a place where rich local traditions live on, where people still talk about ancestral spirits and sacred rituals. A local guide there once told me about a sacred mountain, Nhamabombe, where rainmakers still go to make rain. It’s not everyday that a country with a past rife with war and environmental destruction fulfills an ambitious conservation goal. But that’s exactly what happened last year in Mozambique when, after overhauling its environmental code, the country officially designated Chimanimani as a new national park. The New York Times

Succulent Smuggling: Why Are South Africa’s Rare Desert Plants Vanishing?
In May 2020, 10mm of rain fell at Sendelingsdrif Rest Camp in South Africa’s most north-westerly corner. After enduring nine years of almost zero rain, Pieter van Wyk, a 32-year-old self-taught botanist who heads up the Richtersveld national park’s nursery, was elated to see several species flower for the first time in almost a decade. The rain, including 200mm on the nearby mountains, was a welcome respite for the world heritage site’s flora and fauna. His joy, however, was short-lived. While the rain gave a temporary lease of life to some annuals and bulbs in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld transfrontier park, it did little to alter the fact that scores of species, especially large succulent plants such as aloes, are in peril. A study to be published by Van Wyk and others shows that 85% of the population of the distinctive Pearson’s aloe (Aloe pearsonii) – endemic to the Richtersveld – has been lost in the past five years, having been a stable presence for the previous four decades. Pearson’s aloe is just one of dozens of species Van Wyk fears may disappear in his lifetime. The plants face a number of threats, but it is the climate emergency and poaching that are having the biggest impact. … In Van Wyk’s estimation, plant poaching might be more lucrative than the country’s rhino horn industry. Poachers target the typically endangered species, which fetch the highest prices on the black market. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones