Africa Media Review for November 18, 2021

Sudanese Forces Shoot 14 in Deadliest Day since Military Coup
Sudanese security forces have shot dead at least 14 anti-coup protesters and wounded dozens more, in the bloodiest day since the military seized power on 25 October. The fatalities in Khartoum on Wednesday raised to 38 the death toll from unrest since the military seized power, a pro-democracy doctors’ union said. Hundreds more have been wounded. Demonstrators had taken to the streets across the capital even though telephone lines and internet services had been disrupted since the military took over, AFP journalists reported. “The people choose civilian rule,” demonstrators chanted, also shouting slogans against Sudan’s ruler, top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. … The doctors’ union said most of the casualties had suffered gunshot wounds to “the head, neck or torso”, but added that the demonstrators, undeterred and behind makeshift barricades, kept up their protests. Demonstrations also erupted in Port Sudan, an AFP journalist said, against the coup that halted a democratic transition following the 2019 toppling of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. … The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken … told Sudan’s military the country stood to regain badly needed international aid if it restores the “legitimacy” of civilian government. AFP

Nigerian Experts Have Big Expectations Ahead of Blinken’s Visit Thursday
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives in Nigeria on Thursday as part of a three-nation trip that includes Kenya and Senegal. … Blinken will meet in Abuja with Nigerian President Muhamadu Buhari and other top government officials, including the vice president and foreign affairs minister. They will discuss cooperation on global health security, expanding energy access and economic growth, and revitalizing democracy, according to a U.S. State Department release last week. Political analyst and co-founder of YouthHub Africa, Rotimi Olawale, describes Blinken’s visit as timely … “It’s an opportunity to strengthen ties with Nigeria. As the world continues to open, Africa has been lagging behind in being able to access vaccines and I hope that that would be top of the agenda as well as issues in security, and support to ensure that the shrinking civil space not only in Nigeria but across the region is also addressed,” Olawale said. … “There’s also democratic challenges across West Africa, actually also across the continent where in the last couple of months we have seen a number of coups in Chad, Guinea, Sudan and in several other countries, where there’s been a change to democracy. It’s important that Nigeria plays a stabilization role across the continent, that this is also top of the agenda.” VOA

U.S. Removes Nigeria from List of Religious Freedom Violators
The United States government has removed Nigeria from the list of countries blacklisted for “engaging in violation of religious freedom “on which they were placed in 2020, with six other countries for engaging in or for tolerating the severe violation of religious freedom. Now the U.S. has placed Algeria and Comoros on its special watch list. It also designated Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern. The U.S. removed Nigeria from the list, ahead of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s meeting with President Muhamadu Buhari, to discuss how both countries can further co-operate on global health, security, expanding energy access, and economic growth. Nigeria is battling a range of security threats, including the long-running Boko Haram insurgency, inter-communal clashes, and more recently, a wave of mass abductions at schools by armed gangs. AllAfrica

Nigeria: Death Toll Rises in Sokoto Attacks, Governor Says 45 Buried
The death toll from the violent attacks on Sunday and Monday in Illela and Goronyo Local Government Areas of Sokoto State has risen to 45, Governor Aminu Tambuwal has said. On Wednesday, Mr Tambuwal said he was briefed about the gravity of the attacks during a visit to the affected areas. President Muhammadu Buhari also condemned the incidents. … According to his spokesperson, Mr Tambuwal also condemned the activities of illegal vigilante groups in the areas, warning that the government will not tolerate their lawlessness. He said the governor, however, commended the security forces and registered volunteer groups complimenting the efforts of the security agencies. … Goronyo and Illela are among council areas where the state government has shut down telecommunications networks and banned weekly markets to curb the activities of bandits. However, reprisal attacks involving bandits and vigilante groups have intensified in Sokoto. Bandits have been reported to have established administration in many rural communities in the state, imposing taxes on villagers. Premium Times

Russian Mercenaries Kill 19 on Mining Site in Central African Republic
At least 19 civilians were reportedly killed on Sunday, Nov. 14, during an attack by Russian mercenaries on a mining site in the locality of Kouki in the Central African Republic. … According to reliable sources which have been corroborated by administrative authorities, shortly before the attack on the mineral site, a patrol of Russian mercenaries fell into an ambush by Sudanese poachers about 20 km from Kouki, resulting in the death of four Russians. “In retaliation, the Russians assaulted the mineral sites in the locality killing at least 19 miners and burning down several houses and shops,” a local source said. … The Russian mercenaries, however, claimed that 19 persons they killed were rebels and their accomplices working in the Kouki mining sites. But according to the local sources, rebels of Mahamat Alkhatim’s MPC and the UPC of Ali Darassa had since deserted the zone for about a year now leaving only Central African Republic nationals and some Chadians at the sites. At least 14 youths from Bossangoa were killed on Monday, June 2, 2021 by Russian mercenaries on the Kouki-Bossangoa highway. HumAngle

Gunmen Kill at Least 25 in Southwest Niger
Unidentified gunmen have killed at least 25 people in southwest Niger, officials said Wednesday, the latest in a string of deadly raids along the country’s border with Mali. Attackers on motorcycles stormed the camp of a local self-defense militia near the village of Bakorat in the Tahoua region on Tuesday, said Attawane Abeitane, mayor of the nearby town of Tillia. A gunfight lasted for several hours before Nigerien security forces arrived and repelled the attackers, Abeitane said. A security official said only one of the defense militia survived. “These are terrorists who came from outside, and there were many of them,” Abeitane said. “There were deaths among the terrorists, and motorcycles were also burned.” No group claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack. A local affiliate of Islamic State has killed hundreds of people in rural communities near the Malian border this year. One raid on Bakorat and neighboring villages in March killed 137 people, one of the deadliest days in Niger’s recent history. Local officials blamed that attack on Islamic State in the Greater Sahara. AFP

Burkina Faso President Criticizes Army ‘Dysfunctions’ after Deadly Attack
At least 49 gendarmes and four civilians were killed in Sunday’s attack by suspected jihadists on a gendarmerie detachment in Inata, northern Burkina Faso, according to a new toll released by the government spokesman Wednesday. “We can establish the following toll: 49 gendarmes dead, 4 civilians (killed). Fortunately, we have found 46 gendarmes” who were missing, said Ousséni Tamboura after a cabinet meeting. … This is one of the deadliest attacks against the defense and security forces since Burkina Faso has been confronted with jihadist actions, which began in this country six years ago. At the end of the council of ministers, the president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, deplored “dysfunctions at a significant level” within the army, mentioning in particular problems with food supplies. “This is unacceptable and that is why I understand very well the different reactions of anger that are expressed,” he added. The government spokesman said earlier that two commanders in charge of the northern sector of the country have been removed from their posts after the attack in Inata. AfricaNews with AFP

Mediators Step Up Ethiopia Ceasefire Bid as Aid Efforts Flounder
Efforts to facilitate humanitarian access and broker a pause in Ethiopia’s year-long civil war have gathered steam in recent weeks as forces from the northern Tigray region edge closer to Addis Ababa, the capital city. But rhetoric continues to escalate between the rebels and the government, and there has been no let-up yet in the humanitarian crisis, which has left up to seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance across northern Ethiopia. The situation is especially severe in Tigray, where a months-long government blockade of humanitarian and commercial supplies has pushed nearly half a million people to the brink of famine. Hundreds of thousands of people are also struggling to receive humanitarian aid in the Amhara region, where Tigrayan forces have captured increasing amounts of territory in recent weeks as they seek to break the federal blockade. The New Humanitarian

Completion of Somalia Elections More Important than Ever: UN Envoy
Although progress has been made in Somalia’s electoral process, it has been slow and uneven, the UN Special Representative for the country said in a briefing to the Security Council on Wednesday. James Swan welcomed completion of the indirect elections for the Upper House of Somalia’s Federal Parliament, which began in July, and the start of those for the lower chamber, known as the House of the People. While 14 women will be among the 54 Senators in the Upper House, representing 26 per cent of parliamentarians there, Mr. Swan said this figure falls short of the 30 per cent quota for women’s participation. Mr. Swan urged stakeholders to move quickly to conclude the lower house elections before the end of the year. “Although progress is being made, the efforts of Somalia’s political leaders will need to be redoubled in the coming weeks to bring the elections for the Federal Parliament to a successful conclusion, so that the presidential elections can then be held as soon as possible,” he said, speaking via videoconference. “The completion of these elections is more important than ever, so that all effort can return to the key governance, security, and development priorities in Somalia.” UN News

Gambian President Warns Opponent to Keep Exiled Predecessor Out of Campaign
Gambian President Adama Barrow has threatened an opponent in next month’s election with legal action for playing audio recordings of exiled former leader Yahya Jammeh at a campaign event. The coastal West African nation is gearing up for national elections on 4 December. Barrow will be running against five other candidates to retain the office he won from Jammeh in 2016. Jammeh, whose 22-year rule was marked by extrajudicial killings, torture and forced disappearances, fled to Equatorial Guinea in 2017 after refusing to concede to Barrow. Jammeh spoke via audio message on Monday at a rally for opposition candidate Mama Kandeh, whose candidacy he has endorsed. Kandeh came third in the 2016 polls. … Barrow’s candidacy is controversial in its own right. He initially said he would only serve as a transitional leader for three years but later reversed course and decided to stand for re-election. Reuters

Senegal Opposition Leader Arrested Again, Says Lawyer
Senegalese police arrested an opposition leader for a second time, his lawyer said Wednesday, a week after he was detained following clashes between his supporters and police. Political tensions in Senegal have flared up between President Macky Sall’s government and the opposition this year, with riots erupting in March after a leading opposition figure was arrested. Barthelemy Dias, a mayoral candidate for Senegal’s capital Dakar, was arrested by police as he left home to “distribute flyers” with a small group of supporters, one of his lawyers, Cheikh Khouraissy Ba, told AFP via telephone. Police have neither confirmed nor denied Dias’ arrest. Barthelemy Dias, a mayoral candidate for Senegal’s capital Dakar, was arrested by police as he left home to “distribute flyers” with a small group of supporters, one of his lawyers, Cheikh Khouraissy Ba, told AFP via telephone. AFP

Egyptian Ex-Lawmaker and Journalists Get Prison Sentences
An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced a prominent human rights lawyer to five years in prison for his conviction on charges that rights advocates have decried as baseless and politically motivated. The Misdemeanors State Security Emergency Court in Cairo found Zyad el-Elaimy, a former lawmaker, guilty of conspiring to commit crimes with an outlawed group. That’s a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has banned as a terrorist organization. The court also sentenced journalists Hossam Monis and Hisham Fouad to four years in prison on the same charges. Two other defendants got three-year sentences. All were fined 500 Egyptian pounds (around $32). Defense lawyer Khalid Ali said Wednesday’s verdict is not subject to appeal before civilian courts because it was issued by an emergency court. He said the defense would file an appeal to a military court. The global rights watchdog Amnesty International condemned the charges against the defendants, saying they stemmed from “their peaceful political activities.” It called for President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to quash the sentences and release them. AP

Kenyan Police Rearrest Escaped Terror Convicts
The three terror convicts who escaped from the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison have been arrested in a remote village in Kitui County, about 180 kilometres east of Nairobi. Earlier, security agencies in Kitui were on red alert after locals reported that they had spotted the three fugitive terrorists. Kitui County police commander Leah Kithei on Thursday morning confirmed that all security agencies in the region, including chiefs and their assistants, had been activated. “The information has also been shared with counterparts in neighbouring Tana River and Garissa counties,” Ms Kithei told the Nation. “If indeed they’re the ones, we’ll definitely get them. It’s a matter of time.” Locals reported spotting the three, whom they suspected to be the wanted terror convicts who escaped the jail in Kiambu County, about 16km from Nairobi city centre, on Sunday night, at Malalani shopping centre in the expansive county. The EastAfrican

Libyan Parliament Speaker Declares Presidential Bid
The speaker of Libya’s eastern-based House of Representatives said on Wednesday he would run for president in a Dec. 24 election that is part of a United Nations-backed bid to end a decade of conflict. Aguila Saleh’s candidacy follows that of several other prominent Libyans including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and Khalifa Haftar, two highly divisive figures accused of war crimes they both have denied. … Disputes persist over the election rules, including who should be eligible, the schedule and the vote’s legal basis, less than six weeks before it is due to take place, raising doubts over whether it will happen. The only law issued for holding the election is one Saleh issued in September, which critics said was done without a full vote or proper quorum. The critics said key provisions seem designed to let Saleh and his eastern ally Haftar run without risk of losing their positions if they failed to win. Defenders of the law say it was properly passed through parliament and accuse its critics of trying to delay or derail Libya’s first election since 2014. That vote, which created the House of Representatives to oversee the transition to an as-yet unwritten constitution, was quickly overshadowed by Libya’s division between eastern and western factions. Saleh was sanctioned by both the United States and European Union after he refused to recognise the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord. Reuters

Vigil in Khartoum as More Sudanese Journalists Detained, Harassed
The freedom of the press is under increasing pressure in Sudan, since Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan and a military junta seized power in a coup d’état on October 25. Several journalists have been detained, and harassment of editors is increasing. Journalists held a vigil in Khartoum on Tuesday to protest and raise international awareness. Journalist, political analyst, and editor-in-chief of El Sudani newspaper, Ataf Mukhtar, says that he was pursued on Omak Street in Khartoum on Monday evening by four masked men driving a car with darkened windows. He explained that the vehicle blocked the road in front of his car and the masked men got out and tried to open the doors of his car, but they were unable to do so. Military Intelligence detained Shawgi Abdelazim, a journalist for the electronic newspaper El Taghyeer on Saturday, after he visited the office of Al Jazeera satellite channel in Khartoum. The Radio and Television Broadcasting Corporation suspended the broadcast of Radio Hala 96 FM on Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoon, the Joint Committee of Press Groups organised a protest vigil in front of the British Council in downtown Khartoum, rejecting the military coup, the violation of press freedoms, and arbitrary detentions, in addition to cutting off the internet. Radio Dabanga



Photo: Adam Jones