Africa Media Review for May 3, 2022

Mali’s Junta Breaks Off From Defence Accords With France
Mali’s ruling junta announced on Monday it was breaking off from its defence accords with former colonial ruler France, condemning “flagrant violations” of its national sovereignty by the French troops there…Maiga cited multiple instances of French forces having violated the country’s airspace. He also referred to the June 2021 decision by France to end joint operations with Malian forces. Tensions between France and the junta in Mali, which seized power in August 2000, have been rising for some time. Monday’s announcement, threatened several times over the past few weeks, was the latest confirmation of deteriorating relations between the junta and France. The agreements being ended set the framework for France’s intervention in Mali in 2014. They were signed a year after French troops deployed a large force to help Mali’s armed forces stop a jihadist offensive there. But in February, France decided to pull out its troops after falling out with the military junta, particularly over its rapprochement with the Kremlin. AfricaNews

Abuse of Civilians ‘With Impunity’ – Rights Group Says Russian Fighters Are Killing Civilians in CAR
Human Rights Watch on Tuesday said there was “compelling evidence” that Russian paramilitary troops were committing serious rights abuses and killing civilians in the Central African Republic. A civil war in the CAR that began in 2013, pitting numerous militias against a state on the verge of collapse, had eased considerably in recent years. But about a year ago, fighting resumed abruptly when rebels launched an offensive to overthrow President Faustin Archange Touadera. After the president called on Moscow for help, hundreds of Russian paramilitary forces helped push back the rebels, who still hold sway over swathes of the country. The private military contractors are often described as belonging to the “Wagner group” – a Russian entity with no known legal status. Human Rights Watch said…”Several Western governments, and United Nations experts and special rapporteurs have found evidence that the forces linked to Russia operating in the Central African Republic include a significant number of members of the Wagner Group, a Russian private military security contractor with apparent links to the Russian government,” it added. The UN, NGOs and CAR’s former colonial ruler France accuse both the army and rebels of committing crimes against civilians. AFP

Al Shabaab Attacks African Union Camp in Somalia, 3 Killed – Resident
Somalia’s al Shabaab group attacked an African Union mission troop camp in the Shabelle region in the centre of the country, a local elder and the group said on Tuesday, and another resident said three civilians had died in the crossfire. The resident, who lives in a village near the scene, later said he saw two helicopters flying by and gunfire coming from them. “We were awoken by huge blasts early in the morning. The blasts were at the African Union mission base. Heavy exchange of gunfire followed,” local elder Mohamed Nur told Reuters by phone from El Baraf, about 130 km (80 miles) to the north of the capital Mogadishu. Al Shabaab, which has been fighting for years to topple the central government and establish its own rule based on its strict interpretation of Islam’s sharia law, claimed responsibility for the attack. Reuters

Eritrean Initiative on Sudan Has Nothing To Do With Gulf Countries: Official
Eritrea dismissed reports that its initiative to end political strife in neighbouring Sudan was backed by Gulf countries. A newsletter on African affairs reported last week that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are seriously concerned about the return of Sudan’s Islamists to power after the coup of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan last October. The two countries, in an attempt to ward off the Islamist threat, decided to back the efforts of Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki concluded the report. In response to the report, Yemane Meskel Eritrea’s Minister of Information posted a tweet rejecting that their initiative was prodded by Gulf countries. “First off, it is not in Eritrea’s DNA to undertake diplomatic tasks under bidding of others. Secondly, periodic consultation with Sudan on issues of mutual concern is a norm,” he stressed. On April 16, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh handed over to al-Burhan an initiative aiming to “bridge the views of the Sudanese parties to resolve the political crisis in the country,” according to a statement issued in Khartoum after the meeting. Sudan Tribune

Joint Rwanda and SADC Forces Operation Restores Life in Macomia, Mozambique
A month-long joint operation by Rwandan security forces and the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado has restored life to normal. Rwanda’s Defence and Military spokesperson, Colonel Ronald Rwivanga said a considerable number of people who were in captivity were rescued from Islamic State-linked insurgents. “The operations have been successful and have led to the return of hundreds of civilian captives who were under the insurgents’ control,” he said. The Governor of Cabo Delgado Province, Valige Tauabo, visited Rwandan forces at Chai administrative post and commended the joint effort by the two armies.”In his remarks, the Governor of Cabo Delgado commended the work done by the Joint Forces in fighting Al Shabaab in Cabo Delgado. He said that it was now clear that the security situation has normalised in the province. “He further said that the population would soon fully return to their homes,” said the Rwandan Defence Forces in a statement. The two forces initially deployed to the oil and gas-rich province of Mozambique separately last year were until March conducting operations against Islamic extremists, which critics said were uncoordinated. But after a series of meetings between the two forces, they agreed that the Rwandan security forces should come on board in Macomia a territory that lay under the SAMIM radar. News24

Chad: Junta Postpones Reconciliation Dialogue to a “Later” Date
The military junta in power for more than a year in Chad postponed to an unspecified date a reconciliation dialogue scheduled for May 10 before elections, while preliminary negotiations with the rebels drag on in Qatar. N’Djamena “agreed” to the postponement of the forum, which should lead to a handover of power to civilians, at the request of Qatar, which is mediating a “pre-dialogue” that has been stalled for a month and a half in Doha between the junta and the numerous rebel groups. The Chadian Foreign Ministry however did not give a new timetable. On 20 April 2021, the army announced that President Idriss Déby Itno, who had ruled Chad for more than 30 years, had been killed on the front line against rebels. The same day, his son Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, a young 37-year-old general, was proclaimed by the army as “transitional president” at the head of a junta of 15 generals. AfricaNews with AFP

Sudanese Families Urge Military Leaders to Free Detainees
Like dozens of other Sudanese who were members of resistance committees, Mohammed Mustafa has been held in Soba prison for more than a month without being charged with an offense. The 19-year-old’s mother, Zahra Abduwahab, said she could not celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday Monday knowing her son was suffering in prison. “We saw his name on the list of prisoners and we continued to take food and clothes for him, but they never allowed us to see him,” Abduwahab told VOA. “I tried to talk to them to allow me to just see him so I can be sure that he is safe and healthy, but they refused.” Resistance committees are informal, grassroots neighborhood networks of Sudanese residents that began organizing civil disobedience campaigns against the government of former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2013. They played a key role in the Sudanese revolution. Security officers arrested Mustafa on March 31. Since then, the family has not been allowed to speak to him, Abdulwahab said. She said family members saw his name on a list of prisoners. Since last October’s military coup led by army commander Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, hundreds of pro-democracy activists and members of the resistance committee have been arrested and detained. So far, none has been charged in a court of law. Voice of America

UN Chief Urges Investment To Help Niger Fight Jihadists
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday urged the international community to “fully invest” to help impoverished Niger fight jihadist insurgents threatening the government in Niamey and neighbouring countries. “Today I believe, looking at the remarkable performance of Niger’s army, the international community must fully invest to strengthen the capacity of Niger’s army,” said Guterres, alongside the Sahel nation’s President Mohamed Bazoum. Equipment and training are needed, Guterres said. “Niger cannot face all these multiple challenges alone,” he added, listing major organisations such as the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) who are key actors for peace and development in the region. Guterres acknowledged however that the G5-Sahel, that brings together Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, “has been weakened by the coups d’Etat that took place in some of your neighbours,” referring to Mali and Burkina Faso in the last two years. “While terrorist attacks continue to increase in the Sahel and spread to the states on the Gulf of Guinea, the international community has to understand it is no longer just a regional African question, but really is a global threat,” the UN chief said. “The peace, the stability of Niger, of the whole Sahel, represent an absolute priority for the United Nations.” AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria: What We’re Doing To Ensure Safe Return of Kidnapped Victims of Kaduna-Abuja Train Attack – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has assured families of those kidnapped by bandits in the ill-fated Abuja-Kaduna train service of March 28 that efforts were on-going to ensure their safe return. The president gave the assurance on Monday in Abuja when he hosted residents of the FCT who paid him Sallah homage. He directed security agencies and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to provide detailed information to families of the victims regularly saying government would explore every opportunity to secure their return alive and unhurt. “As we celebrate this occasion with joy amidst friends and family members, we are fully conscious of the fact that many families in our country are in a state of fear and anxiety. “This is on account of the many captives held by terrorists against their will; including those taken away in the tragic attack of the Abuja-Kaduna train service. “I have directed security agencies to ensure quick and safe recovery of all victims of kidnapping. “I urge the Railway management to immediately set up a situation room for the coordination of the rescue mission and for a minute-by-minute engagement with families of the captives. “This should ease their pain and anxiety as we push the military to ensure their safe return to their families. My aim is to see all those in captivity safely rescued. “Let me assure Nigerians that the bandits are just pushing their luck, but this is only for a while before they are finally crushed. “They are using civilians as human shields, thereby making it difficult to confront them directly,’’ he said. Premium Times Nigeria

Only Two African Countries Sign ‘The Declaration for the Future of the Internet’
Cabo Verde and Niger are the only two African countries that have signed ‘The Declaration for the Future of the Internet’. The United States also lists Kenya as one of the three from Africa to have committed to the cause, but Nairobi said they are yet to do so, since it has to go through parliament. Government spokesperson retired Colonel Cyrus Oguna said in a statement said, “Our attention has been drawn to a statement published on the US Government White House website on the Declaration for the Future of the Internet. The statement lists Kenya as one of the 60 signatories to the said declaration. “We wish to state that, as a country, we have not gone through our processes and laws for endorsing this declaration. As per our laws, Kenya can only be a signatory to any international instrument after Cabinet approval, and ratification by the National Assembly.” According to the US, the declaration comes at a time when the internet is providing opportunities never seen before for people around the world to connect socio-economically. However, despite this positivity, the internet has also provided policy challenges and the world was, “… witnessing a trend of rising digital authoritarianism where some states act to repress freedom of expression, censor independent news sites, interfere with elections, promote disinformation, and deny their citizens other human rights.” As such, “… democratic governments and other partners are rising to the challenge.” News24

In Africa, Namibia and Eritrea Reflect Journalism’s Polar Opposites
Across Africa, laws and customs respecting the media vary considerably. As the world marks World Press Freedom Day on Tuesday, here’s a look at the brightest and darkest situations for the continent’s news media. On the positive side is the southwest African nation of Namibia, ranked the continent’s most free country and 24th worldwide in an annual index by the Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF). At the very bottom is Eritrea, considered the least free not only in Africa but also among all 180 countries in the ranking. Namibia’s judiciary is “very protective” of media freedoms, something that is “quite rare” elsewhere in Africa, said Arnaud Froger, head of RSF’s Africa desk. He added, “Generally, it is quite safe to be a journalist in Namibia.” Namibia’s stance on media freedom can be attributed to the country’s “very violent history,” said Zoe Titus, director of the Namibia Media Trust, which publishes The Namibian newspaper and also promotes free speech and information access within and beyond the country’s borders. Voice of America

Africa’s Fastest Growing Companies Are in Kenya and Nigeria, a New FT Survey Shows
The two fastest-growing companies in Africa are in Kenya, according to a new ranking released by the Financial Times on Tuesday, and five of the top ten are in Nigeria. South Africa dominates the list numerically, with more entries than any other country – but the first SA company features only at number 10. And, were it not for SA’s precious metals, Nigeria would have claimed that title too. The FT created the inaugural list with research company Statista, and it ranks companies on the continent based on their compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in revenue between 2017 and 2020…Every company had to have its headquarters in an African country, and its revenue growth had to be organic. That made for a list of 75 companies that had grown between 8,800% (Kenya’s Wasoko) and 26% (Morocco’s Hightech Payment Systems) over the three-year period. Business Insider South Africa