Africa Media Review for May 3, 2023

Sudan Conflict Straining Fragility of Its Neighbors
[Infographic] The conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) commanded by General Abdel Fattah al Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has thrown into turmoil a region that was already straining under record levels of humanitarian stresses. Even prior to the outbreak of conflict in Sudan, there were more than 13 million people in Sudan and its 7 neighbors who were refugees or internally displaced (IDP). More than 40 million people in these countries were facing acute food insecurity. Resources to assist these populations will now be even further stretched. This reality underscores that each of Sudan’s neighbors is currently or was recently struggling with their own conflict or political instability. It also highlights the compounding effects that each of the region’s crises are having on one another. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

800,000 Could Flee Sudan, U.N. Warns; Sides Agree to Cease-Fire, South Sudan Says
Officials in South Sudan announced Tuesday that Sudan’s warring generals had agreed to yet another cease-fire, even as fighting continued and the U.N.’s refugee agency warned that more than 800,000 could flee Sudan because of the violence. The week-long cease-fire is set to begin Thursday, according to a statement from South Sudan’s Foreign Ministry, which brokered the agreement. But the fighting that broke out more than two weeks ago has been punctuated by at least five other cease-fire announcements, each with little effect. The sides did not immediately put out statements confirming the agreement to pause the conflict, which the United Nations says has already left more than 500 dead and thousands injured. Already, more than 100,000 refugees have fled Sudan — which was plunged into violence three weeks ago by two warring generals — and hundreds of thousands have been displaced internally, U.N. officials said Tuesday at a briefing in Geneva. … The latest influx of displaced people will add to the challenges of Sudan’s neighbors, who are hosting a large number of Sudanese refugees from previous conflicts. Washington Post

Thousands Flee to Sudan’s Main Seaport, Seeking Ships to Safety
Thousands of people have descended on a port city in eastern Sudan in recent days, fleeing the violence in the capital and trying to secure their escape aboard vessels heading over the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia. The coastal city of Port Sudan — the country’s biggest seaport — has been transformed into a hub for those displaced by the war, with people using cloth and chairs to construct makeshift tents, packing a local amusement park for shelter and waiting for help in three-digit heat. … On Port Sudan’s waterfront, video footage and images shared on social media showed families waiting under the scorching sun, in temperatures of over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people rested on suitcases which contained the few possessions they had managed to take. … Saudi Arabia said that its rescue operation, using warships and private chartered vessels, had evacuated 5,197 people of 100 nationalities as of Sunday, of whom only 184 were Saudi. But the demand has far outstripped supply. New York Times

Press Organisations Call on Malian and Burkinabe Junta to Protect Journalists
Thirty media outlets, journalists’ associations and freedom of expression organisations on Wednesday called on the ruling juntas in Mali and Burkina Faso to protect journalists in the face of growing threats. In an open letter published on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, the signatories of the appeal said that the situation of journalists in Burkina Faso has become “critical.” They are alarmed by “calls for the murder of journalists and opinion leaders, threats and intimidation of the national press, grotesque set-ups against journalists, suspension of the international media RFI and France 24, expulsion of correspondents from the French newspapers Libération and Le Monde.” … increasingly, the attacks are also the work of “influencers” who, on social networks, “play vigilante and do not hesitate to threaten journalists and opinion leaders who are too independent in their eyes with death,” they add. The signatories of the document call on the Malian and Burkinabe authorities to “put an end to all measures that undermine press freedom” and to “guarantee the protection” of media professionals. AfricaNews with AFP

Amnesty Accuses Burkina Army of Village Massacre
Amnesty International on Tuesday said Burkina Faso’s army was responsible for a village massacre last month, putting the death toll at 147, more than double the official figure. Armed men in military uniform slaughtered residents of Karma village in the jihadist-hit Sahel nation’s volatile north on April 20. … Amnesty said Burkinabe soldiers entered Karma in the morning, gathered the villagers, collected their identity documents, and shot them “at point-blank range,” killing “at least 147 people,” including 45 children. Amnesty said accounts from the survivors it interviewed pointed to the third battalion of the army’s Rapid Intervention Brigade. “These people were dressed in black uniforms, others in greenish combat fatigues. Some had helmets, others wore balaclavas, and they were on several pick-up trucks and motorcycles,” one survivor said. Defense Post with AFP

Concerns over Russian Private Military Contractor Wagner Group’s Activities in Mali
[The United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ukraine, among countries] on Tuesday raised concerns over Russian private military contractor Wagner Group’s activities in Mali, including allegations of its role in the killings of civilians, at a U.N. human rights meeting in Geneva. The United States, Canada, Great Britain and Ukraine were among countries that raised the alleged role of Wagner contractors in supporting Mali’s armed forces. … several countries asked Mali to conduct an independent investigation into an incident in March 2022 in Moura, central Mali, where local troops and suspected Russian fighters allegedly killed hundreds of civilians. The U.N. has said its investigators were denied access to the site. Reuters

The ‘Slow Coup’ Taking Tunisia Back to Autocracy
… The Islamist leader is the most high-profile politician to have been arrested since Kais Saied, Tunisia’s president, staged a power grab in 2021 and began dismantling the country’s young democracy. In recent weeks, more than a dozen politicians, activists, judges, trade unionists and a leading independent editor have also been arrested in what Amnesty International has called “a politically motivated witch hunt”. Many fear it is the end of democracy in the country. “We have been living through a slow coup as Saied has sliced away at democracy over the past two years,” says Hamza Meddeb, fellow at Carnegie Middle East Centre. “The arrest of Ghannouchi is a big signal that we have reached the end of pluralism.” Tunisia’s revolt against dictatorship in 2011 was the spark that set off a series of popular uprisings across the Arab world. For much of the following decade, it was regarded as a rare example of an Arab democracy – buffeted by problems, defective but still pluralist. Now it is returning to autocracy under Saied, a former constitutional law professor who won power in 2019 promising to clean up corruption. … Meanwhile, the economy has worsened under his leadership and European officials and analysts warn of an impending meltdown. Economists predict that Tunisia will default on its debt. FT

Cameroon Separatists Stage Attack Near French-Speaking City of Douala
Authorities in Cameroon say anglophone rebels have attacked military posts near the country’s port city of Douala, killing several people. The attack is the closest the separatist conflict has come to Douala since fighting broke out in 2017. Officials in Cameroon say at least 15 heavily armed rebels attacked a military post Monday in Matouke, a farming village less than 40 kilometers west of Douala. Officials say the separatists killed at least six people and wounded many others without giving a figure. … It’s the first time rebels have attacked so close to Douala, a seaport of about four million people that supplies 80% of imported goods for the landlocked Central African Republic and Chad. On several occasions, troops have reported suspected fighters in the city and made arrests. Speaking via a messaging app, Francis Mbah, a clearing agent at the Douala seaport, said any attacks on the economic hub would impact all of Cameroon and central Africa. VOA

Somali Army Kills 67 al-Shabab Militants, Seizes Explosives
Somalia’s army said it has killed 67 al-Shabab militants and seized large amounts of explosives in an operation in the north-central Mudug region. Brigadier General Mohamed Tahlil Bihi told reporters Tuesday the military was acting on intelligence about movements of the al-Shabab group. Bihi said the operation in the Harardhere district of central Mudug region took place at around 1 a.m. when 120 jerrycans containing improvised explosive devices were offloaded from a boat and carried in a vehicle that was guided by 69 militants. Bihi said Somalia’s National Army fired rocket-propelled grenades at the vehicle and destroyed it. He said only two militants were captured alive. … Somalia’s army has been conducting joint offensives with local militias against the Islamist militants since last July as part of an all-out war against the group. VOA

Six Libyans Face Death Penalty for Converting to Christianity
Six Libyans are facing the death penalty for converting to Christianity and proselytizing under laws increasingly being used to silence civil society and human rights organisations, say activists. The women and men – some from Libya’s minority ethnic groups, including the Amazigh, or Berbers, in the west of the country – were separately detained in March by security forces. … “There has been an increase in the usage of article 207 against civil society activists and international organisations in Libya over the last year,” said Noura Eljerbi, a human rights activist who was forced into exile after receiving death threats for her work. … “Before the arrest of those people, there was a fierce campaign against them on social media led by former regime supporters.” Guardian

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa, Chiwenga in Alleged Chrome Deal With South African, Tagwirei Involving Millions of Dollars
A South African chrome miner, Zunaid Moti, allegedly paid $3 million to firms linked to the Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnanagwga and vice president Constantino Chiwenga following a $120 million deal signed in November 2017. According to The Sentry, an investigative and policy organization that seeks to disable multilateral predatory networks benefiting from violent conflict, repression and kleptocracy, a senior judge of the Supreme Court, a businessman under USA targeted sanctions are also involved in the suspected chrome scam. In detailed report published on its website, The Sentry said Moti, who bought a 70% stake in African Chrome Fields (ACF) in 2014, formed a joint venture with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces and hired then vice president Mnangagwa’s son as a consultant. The Sentry’s report indicates that Lishon Chipango, a Zimbabwe Defence Force commander at that time who was also Chiwenga’s alleged frontman, indirectly owned shares in AFC through Spincash Investments, a holding firm owned by Moti. It has a 30% stake in ACF. VOA

Sierra Leone Ratifies Candidacy of President, Opposition Leader
The Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has approved President Julius Maada Bio’s candidacy for the June general elections as he seeks a second term. The ECSL on Tuesday also approved the main opposition party’s nominee Samura Kamara, the runner-up in the last presidential vote in 2018. He lost to Bio, a former military ruler who had lost a presidential bid four years earlier. Bio will be running after a first term marred by economic hardship and rampant inflation in a country still recovering from the 2014 Ebola outbreak before the coronavirus pandemic hit. Frustration over financial distress and a perceived failure by the government to cushion the effect of rising prices stoked rare anti-government protests in August last year, which killed dozens. … Voters in June will also elect members of parliament, mayors and local councillors. This election will be the fifth one since Sierra Leone’s brutal 10-year civil war ended in 2002. Al Jazeera

China Gives Kenya Smallest Loan since 2008 in New Shift
China’s loans for President William Ruto’s first full-year budget will be the smallest in 16 years as Beijing adopts a more cautious approach to lending in Africa where some nations have reached the limit of their borrowing capacity and the prospect of default looms. Treasury documents made public on Tuesday show that Chinese funding for the year starting July will fall to Ksh1.74 billion ($12.7 million) from Ksh29.5 billion ($216.5 million) in the current fiscal year and Ksh71.2 billion ($522.5 million) in 2017. The rare fall in Chinese loans emerges in a period when the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have stepped up lending to Kenya… Kenya has insisted it cannot default on its debt repayment obligations. The IMF in 2020 listed more than 20 African countries, including Kenya, as being in or at high risk of debt distress. In response, lenders, including China Eximbank and China Development Bank, China’s two main policy banks, have adopted increasingly hard-line lending terms. Business Daily

Japan PM Fumio Kishida Visits Kenya as Part of His Africa Tour
The Japanese leader had already visited Egypt as well as Ghana from Saturday and his trip will also take him to Mozambique. “I hope to engage in discussions on the situation in Ukraine and other international issues, and reinforce our collaboration,” Kishida told reporters before his departure on Saturday, according to a transcript shared by his office. “With the very foundation of the international order facing jeopardy, I will deepen my discussions with the leaders of each of these countries and confirm our cooperation, and I will tie all our talks into the G7 Hiroshima Summit,” he said referring to an upcoming meeting of G7 leaders in his country this month. … He is expected to hold a summit with Kenya’s President William Ruto to discuss economic cooperation as well. They will also mark 60 years of cooperation. Japan established diplomatic relations with Kenya shortly after Nairobi’s independence and set up an embassy in 1964. Kenya responded by setting up one in Tokyo in 1979. Kishida will be the first Japanese Prime Minister to visit Kenya since 2016 when Shinzo Abe visited for the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad). The EastAfrican

NBA: Joel Embiid Named MVP, a Crowning Achievement for the Cameroonian Player
“The MVP race is over.” In early April, Philadelphia 76ers (Sixers) coach Doc Rivers was right. On Tuesday, May 2, his pivot Joel Embiid (29) won his first “most valuable player” (MVP) trophy of the season. After two second-place finishes behind Serbian Nikola Jokic, the Cameroonian’s time finally came and he became just the second African to win the ultimate individual award of the National Basketball Association (NBA) – after Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994. The day before, injured Embiid watched from the bench as his team beat the Boston Celtics (119-115) in the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. A victory that takes Philadelphia’s Sixers one step closer to qualifying for the conference finals for the first time since 2001, when they were led by Allen Iverson, the last MVP of the Pennsylvania franchise. It’s no accident that Philadelphia has found its way back to the top thanks to the arrival of “JoJo” (one of his nicknames). The Yaoundé, Cameroon native embodies the franchise’s long-term strategy, the “Trust the Process” project launched at the dawn of the 2013-2014 season by then-GM Sam Hinkie. Le Monde