Africa Media Review for May 9, 2022

Ambushes Leave 11 Dead in Northern Burkina Faso, Army Says
Seven soldiers and four civilian volunteer troops have been killed in two ambushes in Burkina Faso’s troubled north, the army said. The first attack near the town of Solle on Thursday led to the deaths of two soldiers and four civilian volunteers helping the army while five paramilitary troops perished in another raid on the same day at Ouanobe, the army said in a statement received Friday. The ambushes were staged by “terrorists”, according to the army, using a term to signify armed groups active in Burkina Faso’s north. Nine people were wounded, the army said, adding that the bodies of about 20 attackers had been found during follow-up operations. The military also seized or destroyed weapons, ammunition and communication devices, the statement said. Armed groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) have regularly carried out attacks in northern and eastern Burkina Faso since 2015, killing more than 2,000 people and displacing almost two million. Unrest linked to armed groups also plagues Burkina Faso’s West African neighbours Mali and Niger. The three land-locked countries rank among the poorest in the world and their armed forces are ill-equipped against a foe skilled at hit-and-run raids, ambushes and planting roadside bombs. Al Jazeera

UN Chief Wants African Union Force With Tougher Mandate for Mali
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has told RFI Mali could collapse if the UN withdraws its peacekeeping mission there, but suggested an option could be to replace it with an African Union force backed by a tougher operating mandate. The UN Security Council will decide next month whether to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Mali (Minusma). “The true situation is that without Minusma, the risk of the country’s collapse would be enormous,” Guterres said in an interview with RFI as he concluded a three-nation tour of West Africa. “I am not going to propose that this mission be ended because I think that the consequences would be terrible. “But it is operating in circumstances that really call not for a peacekeeping force, but a strong force to enforce peace and fight terrorism.” Guterres said the force would need to be African, and “from the African Union, but with a Chapter Seven Security Council mandate and obligatory financing” – referring to a UN charter that permits the use of armed force in the event of a “threat to peace.” RFI

S. Sudan’s Kiir, Tshisekedi Discuss Sanctions, Security
The President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Felix Tshisekedi has vowed spearhead the African Union’s (AU) efforts for lifting of sanctions and arms embargo imposed on South Sudan. Speaking at a joint press conference with his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir in the country’s capital, Juba on Sunday, Tshisekedi said policies of the AU do not allow and encourage sanctions on its member states. The DRC leader pledged to engage the international community for lifting South Sudan sanctions, saying it delays implementation of the peace deal. On July 13, 2018, the United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan’s territory, legally obliging all UN member states to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale, or transfer of arms and related material – including ammunition, military vehicles as well as spare parts. Sudan Tribune

Gunmen Kill 48 People in Northwest Nigeria
Gunmen in Nigeria killed at least 48 people in attacks on three villages in northwest Zamfara state. The attacks took place last Friday and were reported by a local official and residents on Sunday. The village of Damri was the worst hit. The gunmen killed 32 people including two security personnel. According to Aminu Suleiman, administrative head of Bakura district, the attacks were coordinated. In early January, gunmen killed more than 200 people in Zamfara state. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has called on the security forces to redouble their efforts to put an end to the killings. The violence has forced thousands to flee to neighbouring Niger, with over 11,000 seeking refuge last November, according to the United Nations. Northwest and central Nigeria have been terrorised for years by criminal gangs who raid and loot villages, steal cattle and carry out mass abductions of residents for ransom. AfricaNews

Nigerian Airlines Suspend Flights Over Soaring Jet Fuel Prices
Nigerian airlines are to suspend all domestic flights from Monday over a fourfold increase in jet fuel prices, an umbrella organisation of operators said on Saturday. The Airline Operators of Nigeria said the price of jet fuel had jumped from 190 to 700 Nigerian naira per litre (from $0.45 to almost $1.70). The rise in jet fuel prices is primarily caused due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. The cost of fuel has soared worldwide since Russia invaded its western neighbour, which triggered a wide range of sanctions by the West on Moscow – a major exporter of oil and gas. “No airline in the world can absorb this kind of sudden shock from such an astronomical rise over a short period,” the AON said, adding that it would now cost a customer 120,000 naira ($289) for a one-hour flight, a sum unaffordable for Nigerians “already experiencing a lot of difficulties.” Al Jazeera

Fears of Massacre in DR Congo Gold Mine Attack
A militia attack has left at least 40 civilians dead in the northeastern Congolese province of Ituri. Local sources say more than 100 people are missing after the suspected Sunday massacre by the armed group Cooperative for the Development of Congo (Codeco) in the Mongwalu territory. The rebels targeted an artisanal gold mine in the province and there are fears the missing miners could have been killed. “The enemy, the Codeco militia, stormed the town of Kablangete, located seven kilometres from Mongwalu in the Banyali Kilo sector of the mine site, and unleashed untold terror,” said Jean-Pierre Bikilisende, mayor of Mongwalu. “For the moment, the provisional toll is at least 40 dead and more than 100 civilians missing and several properties looted by the rebels.” The attackers, he said, struck after taking advantage of the weekend absence of military personnel in the area. East African

Ethiopia: Tigray Govt Demands Independent Investigation After Major-General Dies in Detention
Major-General Gebremedhin Fekadu – who went by the alias, Wedi Necho – died in detention in Addis Ababa last week. He has been described as a “martyr” who paid “the ultimate price” at the hands of the Ethiopian government. Fekadu was the head of communications in the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) before his imprisonment as part of the sweeping detention of almost all Tigrayan members of the ENDF. In an emotional statement, the Tigrayan transitional government said the decorated soldier, who also served as the commander of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Somalia, wrote an indelible history. They blamed the Ethiopian government for forcing Fekadu, “who committed no sin other than honourably serving his people and country, to languish in jail solely on account of his Tigrayan identity, ultimately killing him”. Fekadu was arrested on 11 November, along with 17 other military generals and low-ranking officers, for allegedly cutting communications to the Northern Command and enabling Tigrayan forces to attack it. News24

Interfaith Tensions Simmer in Ethiopia
It was a deadly attack on the funeral of an Islamic scholar in Gondar, in Ethiopia’s northwestern Amhara region, on April 26 that unleashed unrest in the city and in some other parts of Ethiopia over the past week. Gondar’s mayor Zewdu Malede told DW on Friday that authorities have formed an investigation team to look into the attack, which left some 150 people injured. The number of dead still unclear more than a week after the violence. The Amhara regional state peace and security bureau put the number of victims at 14 while the Amhara Islamic Affairs High Council said 20 lives were lost. According to Mayor Zewdu, both Muslims and Christians lost their lives in the attack, which local Muslim leaders blamed on heavily-armed “extremist Christians.” “In my evidence, both Muslims and Christians were killed,” Zewdu Malede told DW. “We buried Muslims and we buried some people who were not identified as Christians or Muslims.” The majority of Ethiopia’s 115 million people are Orthodox Christians while about a third of the population is Muslim. DW

Somalia Presidential Candidates Face Tough Rules Ahead of Polls
Somalia’s definitive polls date has exposed candidates to a new round of conditions, setting the stage for one of the toughest contests they will face to be cleared. On Thursday, a special parliamentary task force chosen to prepare for the much-delayed elections settled on May 15 this year as the presidential elections date. The date coincides with Somalia’s Youth Day, a day Somalis say sowed the seed of independence demands back in 1943 when the Somali Youth League was formed. But this time, apart from offering certainty to an end of a prolonged electoral cycle, the date could also be giving candidates a headache. The elections, initially scheduled for March 2021, have been delayed for more than a year, attracting more aspirants along the way. By Thursday, at least 15 candidates had expressed intent to contest. East African

Rise of Ugandan Leader’s Son Draws Excitement and Concern
Public fetes celebrating the son of Uganda’s leader are raising concern that he is aiming for the presidency after years of apparently being groomed to succeed his father, President Yoweri Museveni, who has held power since 1986. Three events marking Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s 48th birthday have been held in recent days in the capital, Kampala, and his supporters in other parts of this East African country have staged lively rallies they said were in tribute to their future president. The most recent event, Saturday’s thanksgiving ceremony, was attended by hundreds, including top government officials and military officers. Kainerugaba, who commands Uganda’s infantry forces, has been increasingly assertive in Twitter posts in which he mentions his wish to rule Uganda. He spoke of increasing the sports budget in favor of young people when he “ wins power in this country.” And he says he will announce his political program soon. AP

Kenya’s Economy Booms As Tanzania Softens Borders
Tanzania’s “softened” borders with Kenya, reduced non-tariff barriers and solutions to bilateral issues have resulted in the growth of businesses in both countries, a year after President Samia Suluhu took office. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey 2022 shows that Tanzania’s exports to Kenya doubled in just 10 months.  Before President Samia’s tenure, the two countries had a number of spats on trade matters, with Dar es Salaam looking inward and imposing restrictions on trade with Kenya. The survey shows that the pandemic notwithstanding, Kenya imported more goods during the past year than before from Tanzania. The report says Kenya’s economy grew by 7.5 percent, the highest rate since 2010, and more than 20 times the rate of 0.3 percent recorded at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. East African

Army Will Uproot Terrorism, Vows Egypt’s Sisi After 11 Soldiers Killed in Sinai
Eleven Egyptian soldiers were killed on Saturday attempting to thwart a “terrorist” attack on the Suez Canal zone abutting the Sinai peninsula, a hotbed of jihadist activity, the army said. It was the heaviest loss of life the army had suffered in years in its long-running campaign in and around the Sinai against militants loyal to the Islamic State group. Five soldiers were also wounded in the firefight on the eastern bank of the canal, the army said, adding security forces were “continuing to chase the terrorists and surround them in an isolated area of the Sinai”. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pledged on Facebook: Washington condemned the “terrorist attack in the Sinai targeting members of the Egyptian military” and expressed its condolences to the victims’ families. “For decades, the United States has been and remains Egypt’s strong partner in confronting terrorism in the region,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement. Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula has been gripped by an armed insurgency for more than a decade, which peaked after the ouster of late Islamist president Mohammed Morsi in 2013. News24

88 Political Detainees Are Still in Jail: Sudanese Lawyers
Sudanese lawyers revealed on Sunday that there are at least 88 political detainees held in jail many of whom were subjected to torture, despite the pledges made by the military leaders about their release. In a bid to quell the anti-coup protests, the security forces arrested dozens of activists of the Resistance Committees and leaders of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) after the coup of October 25, 2021. In a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday, the Emergency Lawyers confirmed the presence of about 88 detainees in the Sudanese prisons across the country. “There are 27 detainees in Soba prison, 2 in Muqrin detention facility and one detainee in Debek prison (in Khartoum state), in addition to 29 in Port Sudan, (Red Sea State) and 29 in Rabak (of the White Nile state),” said Rahba Mubarak one of the lawyers who spoke to the media on Sunday. The lawyer underscored that the security forces have returned to their old bad habits and cruelly torture the political detainees. Sudan Tribune

Zimbabwe Suspends Bank Lending
Authorities in Zimbabwe have ordered banks to stop lending with immediate effect on Saturday. According to the governrment, the decision was taken to stop speculation against the Zimbabwean dollar and was part of a raft of measures to stop its rapid devaluation on the black market. Zimbabwe reintroduced a local currency in 2019 after abandoning it in 2009 when it was hit by hyperinflation. President Emmerson Mnangagwa accused unnamed speculators of borrowing Zimbabwe dollars at below-inflation interest rates and using the money to trade in foreign exchange. The devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar’s black market exchange rate has been driving up inflation. Year-on-year inflation reached 96.4% in April, from 60.6% in January. AfricaNews

Africa’s Tourism Operators Need Local Visitors
The Zambezi River meanders through the picturesque border region between Zambia and Zimbabwe. About midway along its course, the Zambezi’s waters thunder 110 meters (361 feet) downward at Victoria Falls — a spectacular sight that draws tourists from around the world. But the falls, one of the world’s seven natural wonders and the most powerful waterfall in Africa, remain largely hidden from view for those living nearby.  Most Zimbabweans and Zambians can’t afford the park entrance fees to see Victoria Falls, and many of the views of the falls along the river are in the hands of private businesses, like bars and tourist lodges. Gift Kashimbaya lives in the Zambian town of Livingston, just minutes from the falls. She explains that one must go through some lodges to see the best part of the Zambezi from Livingstone. “And sometimes you can go to the Zimbabwe border where you can pay a certain fee,” she added. Zambian tour operator Donald Chomba says it’s problematic that locals are often shut out of accessing public sites by private businesses and tour operators…Supporting the domestic market in African countries is now more important than ever, according to Hermione Nevill, a tourism expert with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a World Bank Group partner organization. “In the past, too little was invested in domestic and regional tourism in Africa in favor of international tourists with higher expenses,” Nevill told DW. DW

 



Photo: Adam Jones