Africa Media Review for November 1, 2021

How Global Warming Threatens Human Security in Africa

[Infographic] Global warming is contributing to more and extended heat waves, a tripling of droughts, a quadrupling of storms, and a tenfold increase in flooding since the 1970s in Africa—exacerbating security threats on the continent. The last decade was the warmest on record, part of a multidecade trend. Last year, the average temperature for Africa hovered around 1.2°C above the 1981-2010 average. … Of the 20 countries deemed most vulnerable to climate change according to the ND-GAIN Country Index, 17 are African. Of those African countries, nine are experiencing conflict. While most analysts agree that global warming does not cause conflict, many have stressed that it acts as a “crisis amplifier and multiplier” which can increase tensions around access to resources, food, and ancestral lands. In places where there are sociopolitical disparities, weak rule of law, and frayed social cohesion, these tensions can lead to conflict. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Sudan Democracy March: Three Protesters Killed as Security Forces Open Fire

Sudanese security forces have opened fire on massive demonstrations across the country against last week’s military coup, killing at least three protesters and injuring many more. According to reports on social media and claims by Sudanese pro-democracy organisations, pro-coup security forces have used live ammunition and teargas in several locations in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman as well as in the city of Nyala. The three casualties were reported as unarmed demonstrators who had gathered with others outside the country’s parliament building in Omdurman. Gunfire was also reported in Khartoum in the central 40th Street area and around the Manshia bridge over the Nile. The killings came as hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people took to the streets on Saturday in a huge show of opposition to Monday’s military coup. … Carrying Sudanese flags, protesters in Khartoum chanted, “No, no to military rule” and “We are free revolutionaries and we will continue the road” of democratic transition. … The marches began as the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, warned that Sudan’s security forces must respect human rights, adding that any violence against peaceful demonstrators was “unacceptable.” The Guardian

UN Chief to Sudan Army: Reverse Coup, Take Heed of Protests

The U.N. secretary general urged Sudan’s generals on Sunday to reverse their takeover of the country, a day after tens of thousands of people took to the streets in the largest pro-democracy protest since last week’s coup. Antonio Guterres said the generals should “take heed” of Saturday’s protests. “Time to go back to the legitimate constitutional arrangements,” he said in a tweet. He was referring to a power-sharing deal that established joint military-civilian rule following the ouster of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamist government in April 2019. The U.N. envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, meanwhile, said he met Sunday with Abdalla Hamdok, the deposed prime minister who remained under house arrest in the capital Khartoum. … A military official said that other efforts are underway, also supported by the U.N. but conducted by a Sudanese committee that began separate meetings last week with Hamdok and coup leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to release the information, said that Hamdok is still the main candidate for heading a Cabinet that would report to the leading generals. But should he not accept, other Sudanese figures could. It remains unclear what mandate such a government would have. AP

Arab States’ Interests Fuelling Generals’ Thirst for Power in Khartoum

[The Sudan coup leaders are] emboldened by the shadow of Egypt and the Gulf monarchies as the US and Bretton Woods institutions mull freezing aid. … Sudan, The EastAfrican has learnt, has also seen support within the AU. At a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), an intense debate raged on about whether to condemn the coup or just call for the release of detained officials and urge peace. The continental body’s 15-member conflict and crisis response organ was divided, with countries with recent military leaderships reluctant to attack al-Burhan. The AUPSC comprises Egypt, Chad, Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Malawi, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya and Lesotho, among others. “There’s a big divide between governments that have been brought in by military coups and those that have been brought in by democratic free and fair elections,” said Macharia Kamau, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary. “That divide is playing out all over Africa. It is for us to understand which side we stand on. The more we sanction and legitimise coups, the more we should expect to be out-negotiated in many of these continental decisions and organisations.” The AU has a clear policy on unconstitutional changes of government, which includes coups, and is supposed to reject them outright and suspend the culprits. Sometimes though, it falls short, as was the case in Zimbabwe and Chad. The EastAfrican

Ethiopia’s PM Defiant as Rival Tigray Forces Make Advances

Ethiopia’s prime minister has called on citizens to redouble their efforts to combat the rival Tigray forces who claim to have seized key cities on a major highway leading to the capital, while a new wave of detentions of ethnic Tigrayans has begun. A move on Addis Ababa is a new phase in the war that has killed thousands of people since fighting broke out a year ago between Ethiopian and allied forces and Tigray ones who long dominated the national government before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018. … Abiy in a statement on Sunday said federal troops are fighting on four fronts against the Tigray forces and “we should know that our enemy’s main strength is our weakness and unpreparedness.” Amid calls on social media for attacks against ethnic Tigrayans, he said “we should closely follow those who work for the enemy and live amongst us.” A new roundup of Tigrayans was seen in the capital on Monday. … The Tigray forces over the weekend claimed to control the key cities of Dessie and Kombolcha, though the federal government disputed it, and Legesse asserted that the Tigray forces killed more than 100 youths in Kombolcha overnight. The United States has said it is “alarmed” by the reports of Tigray forces taking the cities. The Tigray forces also told the AP they were poised to physically link up with another armed group, the Oromo Liberation Army, with which it struck an alliance earlier this year. AP

Syringe Shortages Could Be Yet Another Obstacle in Africa’s COVID Vaccination Efforts, the W.H.O. Warns

As countries across Africa struggle to vaccinate 1.3 billion people, the continent faces another obstacle besides a lagging supply of doses: the looming likelihood of a shortage of syringes. “Early next year, Covid-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Africa, said at a news briefing. “Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it.” Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya have already reported delays in receiving supplies of syringes, according to the W.H.O. Covax, a global vaccine-sharing initiative that is working to supply many African countries with doses, is now seeking agreements with syringe manufacturers and trying to plan to keep vaccine deliveries from outpacing the availability of needles. Africa has the lowest vaccination rate of any continent, and the W.H.O. estimates that about 59 million of the continent’s population have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, though only somewhat more than eight million cases have been officially recorded. The New York Times

Nigerian Army Says Islamic State West Africa’s New Leader Killed in Military Operation

Nigeria’s army said on Thursday it had killed the new leader of insurgent group Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in a military operation this month, two weeks after announcing the death of the group’s former head Abu Musab al-Barnawi. … Army spokesman Brigadier Benard Onyuko said in a statement that Nigerian troops had conducted several land and air raids on suspected insurgent locations, during which ISWAP’s new leader, Malam Bako, was killed. … If confirmed, Bako would be the fourth leader of an Islamist insurgent group in West Africa to die this year, after Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in May, Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi of Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) in August and al-Barnawi this month. Since Shekau’s death, thousands of Boko Haram fighters have surrendered to the Nigerian armed forces. Reuters

Fruit-Shaped Bomb Kills 2 Children in Uganda

The explosion occurred in Nakaseke district, 60km (27 miles) north of the capital, Kampala. It killed a 14-year-old and a second child with disabilities, police spokesman Asan Kasingye said in a tweet. Uganda has been the target of multiple attacks over the past week. A bomb packed with nails and shrapnel exploded in a popular restaurant in Kampala, killing one person and wounding three others on October 23. The ISIL (ISIS) armed group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on an affiliated Telegram channel. The group said some of its members detonated an explosive device in a bar where “members and spies of the Crusader Ugandan government were gathering” in Kampala. On Monday, a second bomb went off on a bus, killing the suspected attacker and injuring several commuters. Police initially said two people were killed. … Ugandan authorities have been investigating the attacks. A shadowy group called the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) … emerged earlier this week as the possible author of the blasts. … The ADF was initially a coalition of armed Ugandan groups that opposed Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The group moved across the border into eastern DRC in 1995, establishing itself in the rugged Rwenzori Mountains in North Kivu province. Al Jazeera

Five Burkina Police Killed in Fresh Attack Near Mali

At least five police officers were killed in Burkina Faso on Sunday in an attack near the border with Mali, security forces said. It was the fourth deadly assault in a week against security forces battling jihadists in the poor West African country. Burkina Faso has been hit by deadly jihadist attacks since 2015, mostly in the northern and eastern regions close to Mali and Niger but also in the south. On Friday, rebels attacked two mining convoys, killing at least one soldier and wounding another in the north and east of the country. On Thursday, two police officers were killed in an attack in the north. And on Monday, three soldiers were killed and seven were injured in the southwest near the border with Ivory Coast. The Defense Post with AFP

US Ambassador to UN Urges Mali to Hold February Elections

The United States representative to the United Nations stressed the importance of Mali’s return to civilian rule through democratic elections in February after she visited the West African nation as part of a U.N. Security Council mission. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield spoke to reporters online Friday from Libreville, Gabon, after visiting Mali and Niger. “We reiterated that the United States continues to stand firmly with the people of Mali in their aspirations for democracy, peace, development and respect for human rights,” she said of her meetings with Mali’s transitional government and civil society groups. A military junta staged a coup in August 2020, overthrowing Mali’s democratically elected president. Col. Assimi Goita led the coup and is now president of the transitional government. He has pledged to keep the country on track to return to civilian rule with an election in February 2022. “We were very clear as the Security Council in Mali, that they needed to put in place immediately plans to move forward on the election,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that the February date was actually set by the transitional government themselves. AP

Gambia’s Former Dictator Jammeh Rejects Alliance with President Barrow

The Gambia’s former President Yahya Jammeh has turned down an offer to join forces with incumbent President Adama Barrow in the upcoming presidential election. The exiled politician told his supporters the move to form an alliance was without his consent. … In exile for the past four years, Jammeh remains influential in the Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) party. … The news of alliance between the two parties sent shock waves across the country, especially for victims of human rights violations committed under Jammeh. To them, even the split is no assurance justice will be served. The day after Jammeh announced the non-alliance, victims marched for justice. … Others are worried about the delay of the Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission’s report, while some are concerned with the government’s will to implement the report. After the victims march for justice earlier this month, the government issued a press statement, assuring it will fully implement the commission’s recommendations. As the election approaches, many APRC supporters were hoping for Jammeh’s return if Barrow wins the December polls. As it stands, the supposed amnesty program the expelled APRC executive claimed to have lobbied for Jammeh is now uncertain. RFI

Central African Opposition Parties Reject National Dialogue Plans

The main Central African Republic opposition parties have rejected national dialogue plans announced by President Faustin Archange Touadera as he attempts to end eight years of conflict. The Coalition of the Democratic Opposition (COD-2020) in a statement accused Touadera of wanting to lift the immunity of opposition MPs, “thus trampling on the requirement of… the creation of a peaceful climate for dialogue.” … One of the world’s poorest nations, the CAR has repeatedly been wracked by conflict since obtaining independence from France in 1960. Civil war broke out in 2013 after a coup toppled president Francois Bozize, who had seized power a decade earlier. While that conflict has dropped in intensity in the past three years, unrest remains rife. Since 2007, there have been 13 peace accords and a welter of ceasefires but none has held in the long term. In mid-October, Touadera issued a unilateral ceasefire declaration, vowing to pursue dialogue, and said all but two of the main armed rebel groups had agreed to put down their weapons. But the president has given no start date for this “republican dialogue” even before Sunday’s announcement. AFP

DR Congo: Religious Groups Join Forces to Oppose New Electoral Chief

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the appointment of the electoral chief Denis Kadima has attracted opposition mainly from religious groups and other opposition parties. Congo’s constitutional court on Tuesday swore in the electoral commission chief amid controversy over his nomination. The archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo, during his visit to the neighboring Congo Brazzaville said that he disagreed with the choice of the head of the electoral commission. The new appointment was confirmed by President Félix Tshisekedi but contested by the Catholic Church and Protestants who represent, according to Mr. Ambongo, more than 90% of the population of the DRC and blame Mr. Kadima for his closeness to the head of state, who has already expressed his intention to run again. AfricaNews with AFP

South Sudan: Graduation of Unified Forces to Be Delayed Yet Again

The graduation of unified forces might be delayed again from its initial schedule as a body tasked with screening of forces at the training sites face logistical challenges. “The screening committee is ready to begin its work, but it is still waiting for money from the National Transitional Committee (NTC). So, there might be a slight delay in the graduation of the forces because screening has to happen first,” Major General Lul Ruai Koang, a spokesman for the military, told Radio Tamazuj on Friday. President Salva Kiir in July promised the graduation of the first batch of 53,000 unified forces, but this has not materialized due to lack of consensus on the unified military command structure among the parties in the unity government. In mid-October, the Joint Defense Board, the body charged with overseeing the training and graduation of the necessary unified forces, said the graduation of the necessary unified forces will take place in the first week of November. … However, Lul said the National Transitional Committee (NTC) led by President Salva Kiir’s security advisor Tut Gatluak has not yet prepositioned the necessary logistics required to facilitate the screening process. Radio Tamazuj

In India, Facebook Grapples with an Amplified Version of Its Problems

On Feb. 4, 2019, a Facebook researcher created a new user account to see what it was like to experience the social media site as a person living in Kerala, India. For the next three weeks, the account operated by a simple rule: Follow all the recommendations generated by Facebook’s algorithms to join groups, watch videos and explore new pages on the site. The result was an inundation of hate speech, misinformation and celebrations of violence, which were documented in an internal Facebook report published later that month. … The report was one of dozens of studies and memos written by Facebook employees grappling with the effects of the platform on India. They provide stark evidence of one of the most serious criticisms levied by human rights activists and politicians against the world-spanning company: It moves into a country without fully understanding its potential impact on local culture and politics, and fails to deploy the resources to act on issues once they occur. … Facebook did not have enough resources in India and was unable to grapple with the problems it had introduced there, including anti-Muslim posts, according to its documents. Eighty-seven percent of the company’s global budget for time spent on classifying misinformation is earmarked for the United States, while only 13 percent is set aside for the rest of the world — even though North American users make up only 10 percent of the social network’s daily active users, according to one document describing Facebook’s allocation of resources. The New York Times

Nigerian Nobel-Winning Author Wole Soyinka Has Hope in Young

Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s Nobel-winning author, sees his country’s many problems — misgoverning politicians, systemic corruption, violent extremists, and kidnapping bandits — yet he does not despair. At 87, he says Nigeria’s youth may have the energy and the know-how to get the troubled country back on track. It is up to the new generation “to decide whether they want to keep going along the same chugging one-track train,” or chart a new course, Soyinka told The Associated Press. Soyinka credits young Nigerians — about 64 million between 15 and 35 years of the country’s more than 200 million people — for trying to fundamentally reform the country. He cites the Oct. 2020 #EndSARS protests against police brutality, comparing it to the “positive watersheds of resistance” during the years of military rule Nigeria endured for nearly 30 years. Although the protests one year ago ended in shootings and the deaths of more than 30 protesters, Soyinka says the widespread demonstrations organized on social media show the promise of the young to achieve change. “The kind of energy and intelligence which created the #EndSARS movement is one, for instance, that can be used on a much broader scale to involve masses of people,” he said. AP



Photo: Adam Jones