Africa Media Review for May 31, 2022

Allies of Central African Republic President Propose Removing Term Limits
Allies of Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera have proposed changes to the constitution that would let him keep running for office, prompting protests from the opposition. Backers of the plan to remove presidential term limits said it was meant to bring the country into line with many of its neighbours, and was not a ploy to keep 65-year-old Touadera in power. But Crépin Mboli Goumba, president of the opposition Patrie party, said his members would be “intransigent” in seeking to block the change. Several African presidents, including in Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast and Guinea, have pushed through constitutional and other legal changes in recent years to allow themselves to stay in office. Activists and watchdog groups say this trend is undermining faith in democracy and has contributed to the spate of military coups in West African countries over the past two years. Reuters

Anti-Rwanda Protest in DR Congo over Alleged Rebel ‘Backing’
Hundreds have staged an anti-Rwanda protest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) capital Kinshasa, over Kigali’s alleged support to the M23, a notorious rebel group, as tensions between the two neighbours grow. During Monday’s demonstration, protesters also called for the expulsion of the Rwandan ambassador and brandished nationalistic slogans on banners. “Congo is our country… not a single centimetre will go to Rwanda,” read one. Relations have been strained since the mass arrival in the eastern DRC of Rwandan Hutus accused of slaughtering Tutsis during the 1994 Rwanda genocide. But relations began to thaw after DRC President Felix Tshisekedi took office in 2019, but the recent resurgence of M23 violence has reignited tensions, exacerbated by the detention of two Rwandan soldiers in Congo. The demonstrators held candles and shouted slogans against Rwandan President Paul Kagame… Kinshasa meanwhile repeated allegations that Kigali was backing the M23 – a primarily Congolese Tutsi group – after clashes between its fighters and the Congolese army broke out last week in the North Kivu province, which borders Rwanda. However, government spokesperson Patrick Muyaya said on Monday that Kinshasa was not closing the door to negotiations. Al Jazeera

African Union Chief ‘Gravely Concerned’ by Rwanda-DRC Tension
African Union chair Macky Sall on Sunday called for “calm and dialogue” between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda after both sides accused the other of supporting rebel groups operating along their shared border. “I am gravely concerned by the rising tension between Rwanda and the DRC,” Macky Sall said in a tweet in response to the escalation of tensions in recent days between the two neighbouring countries. “I call on both countries to calm down and engage in dialogue for the peaceful resolution of the crisis with the support of regional mechanisms and the African Union,” Sall added. Rwanda said on Saturday that two of its soldiers were being held captive after being abducted by rebels in the DRC, accusing the country’s authorities of supporting them. The statement comes after the DRC summoned Rwanda’s ambassador and accused its neighbour of supporting the M23 rebel group active in its eastern region. AfricaNews with AFP

Clashes Between Chad Gold Miners Leave 100 Dead
Fighting between informal gold miners in a remote part of northern Chad has left around 100 people dead and 40 injured, the government says. What began as a “mundane dispute between two individuals… degenerated”, Defence Minister Daoud Yaya Brahim told the AFP news agency. The mountainous Kouri Bougoudi district near the Libyan border attracts miners from across Chad and its neighbours. The clashes occurred last week but details are only emerging now. Some groups have put the death toll higher than the authorities, and have blamed the security forces for a number of the deaths. The government sent a mission to the affected area – about 1,000km (620 miles) north-east of the capital, N’Djamena – when news of violence first came through. A large military contingent has restored calm to the area, Gen Brahim is quoted by AFP as saying. He added that the clashes were between people from Mauritania and Libya. BBC

Sudan’s Military Junta Starts Releasing Political Prisoners, Lifts State of Emergency
The African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission (Unitams) say the release of political prisoners in Sudan is a positive step forward and will address the impasse created by last year’s coup. The military seized power in Sudan on 25 October 2021, toppling a transitional government composed of civilians and military officials. The new rulers declared a state of emergency that granted expanded power to the security forces. In a statement, the AU, IGAD and Unitams – monikered the “Trilateral Mechanism” – commended the authorities in Sudan for lifting the state of emergency put in place by the military-led sovereign council soon after the coup… The release of political prisoners in Sudan started on Sunday, two days after the AU summit on terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government, which was held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. In Malabo, AU member states agreed that they needed to reverse the tide of coup d’états by improving governance and respect for constitutionalism. News24

More Human Rights Abuses in Sudan Despite Lifting of State of Emergency
Two protesters complained about being abused in detention after they were held during a vigil for the young activists who are on trial after being accused of killing a police officer. Security forces also used heavy tear gas on protesters during yesterday’s pro-democracy protests despite the lifting of the State of Emergency on Sunday. The Sudanese Emergency Lawyers reported on Monday that two participants of a protest have been abused by security forces. The vigil was held on Sunday for the trial session of trial of Mohamed Adam (17), nicknamed ‘Tubak’, and Mohamed El Fateh (18), nicknamed ‘El Nana’, and Musab El Shareef, who were accused of killing a police officer during anti-junta protests in January. The authorities detained four people, including a young woman, during the vigil in front of the Judicial Sciences Institute in Arkaweet in eastern Khartoum on Sunday, before they were released on bail the following day. Two of them complained about being abused in detention. Lawyer Amira Mohamed, one of the Emergency Lawyers, told Radio Dabanga that the lawyers are in the process of compiling a Form 8 for the victims, in preparation for filing official complaints about torture. In Sudan, medical evidence of an assault is admitted solely via the so-called Form 8. It can be issued only by police stations, hospitals, or clinics. Critics state that the form is “glaringly inadequate”, as sufficient medical evidence is often very difficult to obtain. Dabanga

UN Experts: Libya’s Security Threatened by Foreign Fighters
Libya faces a serious security threat from foreign fighters and private military companies, especially Russia’s Wagner Group which has violated international law, U.N. experts said in a report obtained by The Associated Press. The experts also accused seven Libyan armed groups of systematically using unlawful detention to punish perceived opponents, ignoring international and domestic civil rights laws, including laws prohibiting torture. In particular, “migrants have been extremely vulnerable to human rights abuses and regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture,” the panel said in the report to the U.N. Security Council obtained late Friday by the AP. The oil-rich North African nation plunged into turmoil after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. It then became divided between rival governments — one in the east, backed by military commander Khalifa Hifter, and a U.N.-supported administration in the capital of Tripoli. Each side is supported by different militias and foreign powers. AP

UN Report Links Mali Army to Rise in Rights Abuses
Civilian deaths and rights abuses attributable to the Malian armed forces and backed by “foreign military elements” have surged in the first quarter of 2022, a United Nations report has said, with the killings seeing a 324 percent rise during the previous quarter. “Malian Armed Forces, supported on certain occasions by foreign military elements, increased military operations to combat terrorism … some of which sometimes ended in serious allegations of violations of human rights,” the UN’s Malian mission, known as MINUSMA, said in the report released on Monday. The report did not identify the “foreign military elements” supporting the army. The total number of people killed in the first quarter of 2022 by all parties in the conflict – rebels, self-defence groups and security forces – quadrupled during the last three months of 2021, rising from 128 to 543. A total of 248 civilian deaths were attributable to the defence and security forces, the report said. MINUSMA documented 320 human rights violations by the Malian military in the January-March period, compared with 31 in the previous three months. Al Jazeera

Nigeria’s PDP Picks Atiku Abubakar to Run for President in 2023
The main opposition party in Nigeria has picked former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its candidate for the 2023 presidential elections. Vote counting started late on Saturday and Abubakar garnered 371 votes, defeating his nearest rival Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, governor of oil-producing Rivers state, who received 237 votes. Abubakar, a Muslim and stalwart of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), has made numerous bids to capture the presidency of Africa’s most populous country. The 75-year-old lost to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 during the last election, which he claimed was rigged. But Buhari will not be on the ballot next year when the second of his two four-year terms comes to an end. The PDP, which ruled Nigeria after military rule ended in 1999, was removed from power by Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party in 2015.  Al Jazeera

Ghana and Uganda Ban Grain and Food Exports
Ghana and Uganda are among several African countries banning the export of grains and other farm produce, with the latter imposing high taxes to prevent food exports to neighboring countries. The Ghanian government has extended a ban on grain exports. A temporary ban on exporting maize, rice, soybeans, and other grains — which took effect in September last year — will now run until September 2022. The original ban was put in place to ensure food security and increase local poultry and livestock production. The extension of the ban comes as grain prices soar, partly because of Russia’s war on Ukraine. But some farmers are unhappy with the extended ban, saying they would get better prices if they could sell their crops outside of Ghana. So they want the government to lift it. DW

Drought Affects Almost Half of Somalia as Famine Looms
At a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia’s special envoy for humanitarian issues on Monday said more than six million Somalis were affected by the record drought. Abdurahman Abdishakur Warsameh said the number of people suffering was quickly approaching half of Somalia’s population. Warsameh said the drought has hit 72 of Somalia’s 84 districts and that six of them were already facing famine-like conditions with extreme food insecurity. He says our people are starting to die now. Deaths have begun, famine is looming in some areas, and drought is turning into famine. Warsameh says the Somali people at home and abroad should help us in taking on some of the responsibility. The special envoy did not give any figures on how many Somalis have died from hunger but appealed for aid to reach those in need. Voice of America



Photo: Adam Jones