Africa Media Review for November 2, 2021

Removed Sudan PM Demands Gov’t Reinstatement amid World Mediation
Sudan’s deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Monday the reinstatement of his government, dissolved in a military coup, could pave the way to a solution in the country, the information ministry said, as international mediation progressed to end the political crisis. Hamdok spoke during a meeting at his home, where he is under effective house arrest, with the ambassadors of the United States, Britain and Norway, the ministry, which remains loyal to the prime minister, said. … The statement added that the three ambassadors also informed Hamdok that the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Jeffrey Feltman, would arrive on Tuesday in Khartoum “to pursue efforts to ease the crisis.” Mediation efforts in Sudan and abroad have meanwhile, been under way to find a possible solution for the country, the UN envoy [Volker Perthes] to Khartoum said on Monday. … Perthes on Monday urged Sudan to return “to the steps of political transition, as we viewed it before 25 October,” the date of the coup. AFP

COP26: Uhuru Kenyatta Paints Grim Picture of Impact on Africa.
Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on leaders of wealthier nations to take into consideration the “special needs and circumstances of Africa “in the fight against climate change.” Addressing the world at COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, he said Kenya has developed a plan to maintain low carbon development trajectory by 2030. He further called on leaders of developed nations to provide tailor made support for Africa as Africa has its own challenges. “We expect that detailed rules and procedures for implementing the Paris Agreement will be finalised and a clear way forward for a climate-resilient pathway set. We also expect that the agreement will be sufficiently inclusive to accommodate the needs and priorities of developing countries and in particular, the special needs and circumstances of Africa.” AfricaNews

Global Leaders Pledge to End Deforestation by 2030
Leaders of more than 100 countries, including Brazil, China and the United States, vowed on Monday at climate talks in Glasgow to end deforestation by 2030, seeking to preserve forests crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming. The pledge will demand “transformative further action,” the countries’ declaration said, and it was accompanied by several measures intended to help put it into effect. But some advocacy groups criticized them as lacking teeth, saying they would allow deforestation to continue. … If tropical deforestation were a country, it would be the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, according to the World Resources Institute, after China and the United States. Much of the world’s deforestation is driven by commodity agriculture as people fell trees to make room for cattle, soy, cocoa and palm oil. … Supporters of the new pledge point out that it expands the number of countries and comes with specific steps to save forests. The New York Times

Addis Ababa Government Tells Residents to Prepare to Defend Neighbourhoods
Authorities in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday urged residents to prepare to defend their neighbourhoods after rebellious forces from Tigray region, who have been fighting the central government for a year, indicated they might advance on the city. People should register their weapons and gather in their neighbourhoods, the city administration said in a statement carried by the Ethiopian News Agency. House-to-house searches were being conducted and troublemakers arrested, the statement said. … The appeal came after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) claimed to have captured several towns in recent days and said it was considering marching on Addis Ababa, about 380 km (235 miles) to the south of their forward positions. … On Tuesday, TPLF spokesperson Getachew Reda said Tigrayan forces had taken took control of the town of Burka in the neighbouring region of Amhara. Reuters

Ethiopia Tried to Limit Rare UN Report on Tigray War Abuses
The findings of the only human rights investigation allowed in Ethiopia’s blockaded Tigray region will be released Wednesday, a year after war began there. But people with knowledge of the probe say it has been limited by authorities who recently expelled a U.N. staffer helping to lead it. And yet, with groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International barred from Tigray, along with foreign media, the report may be the world’s only official source of information on atrocities in the war, which began in November 2020 after a political falling-out between the Tigray forces that long dominated the national government and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s current government. The conflict has been marked by gang rapes, mass expulsions, deliberate starvation and thousands of deaths. The joint investigation by the U.N. human rights office and the government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, or EHRC, is a rare collaboration that immediately raised concerns among ethnic Tigrayans, human rights groups and other observers about impartiality and government influence. AP

Somalia Kicks Off Long-Delayed Elections of MPs
Somalia on Monday began electing lawmakers for its Lower House of Parliament, the next phase in a long-delayed and turbulent process toward a presidential vote that has sometimes turned violent. The first two lawmakers for the next 275-member lower house of national parliament were elected at a voting ceremony in the capital Mogadishu under heavy security. … Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled was the first to be elected to the Lower House, a chamber commonly known as The Peoples’ House. Also elected by 101 delegates representing the breakaway Somaliland was Bihi Iman Ige, who maintained his seat. The results were announced by Khadar Harir Hussein, the chairman of the electoral implementation team for Somaliland. Somalia has not held a one-man-one-vote election in 50 years. Monday’s ballot followed a complex indirect model used in the past to choose new leaders in the troubled Horn of Africa country. Nearly 30,000 clan delegates are assigned to choose the 275 MPs for the lower house, while Somalia’s five state legislatures elect senators for the 54-member upper house. Once elected and sworn in, both houses of parliament then vote for the next president. The EastAfrican

Guinea Strongman Doumbouya Retires 1,000 Soldiers
Guinea’s Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who seized power in a coup in the West African nation in September, has announced that he is placing nearly 1,000 soldiers into retirement. … It is not clear which members of the military are being forced into retirement, nor why the decision was taken. However, the announcement follows the forced retirement of 44 generals and admirals on October 12, in an apparent purge of the military top brass. Former special-forces commander Doumbouya rose to power in Guinea on September 5 in a coup that ousted elected president Alpha Conde after months of brewing discontent against his government. Doumbouya defied broad condemnation of the putsch and was sworn in as interim president on October 1. AFP

Egyptian Peacekeepers Wounded by Gunfire in Central African Republic, UN Says
Ten Egyptian peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) were wounded by shots fired by the presidential guard in Bangui, the UN said Tuesday. The UN called the incident, which took place on Monday, “a deliberate and unspeakable attack” on an Egyptian police contingent that was unarmed at the time and travelling in a bus marked UN. Members of the Egyptian Constituent Police Unit “came under heavy fire from the presidential guard without prior warning or any response, while they were unarmed,” the UN said. The incident happened around 120 metres (yards) from the presidential residence, the UN added. In its attempt to leave the area, the bus “hit a woman who lost her life,” said MINUSCA, adding that it had “offered its condolences to the victim’s family” visited later in the day. The members of the police unit had arrived earlier on Monday at Bangui airport as part of a periodic rotation and troop deployment in CAR. They were heading towards their base in a bus clearly marked “with UN initials”, said Vladimir Monteiro, MINUSCA spokesman. AFP

Concern as Kenya’s Voters Shun Registration for 2022 Election
When Kenya’s electoral commission launched its mass voter registration exercise on October 4, it always expected that reaching its target of registering six million new voters in a month would be challenging. But on the eve of its November 2 deadline, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seems shocked by the dismal number of new registrations. The IEBC appealed last week to all Kenyans that are eligible to “take advantage of the remaining one week and register,” emphasizing that their staff were ready to enroll people in every ward. … Kenya’s electoral commission initially set a target of recruiting some six to seven million new voters before lowering its goal to 4.5 million. But even that figure won’t be met because “young people don’t see the motivation,” said Nairobi-based political analyst Martin Oloo. “They don’t identify with anybody who is campaigning who seems to have their issues in mind. For that reason, they [the youth] aren’t very enthusiastic. Most of them have no jobs and no hopes, so they’re not swayed by the political players,” Oloo told DW. … Around 75% of Kenya’s 48 million people are below the age of 35, according to the county’s 2019 census. DW

Nigeria Building Collapse Kills at Least 5 with Many More Trapped
A 21-story building under construction crumbled on Monday in Lagos, Nigeria’s financial capital and Africa’s largest city, leaving what workers said were as many as 100 construction workers trapped and at least five dead in the latest structural failure in a rapidly expanding metropolis. The collapse occurred at about 2 p.m. in the upscale neighborhood of Ikoyi — where construction is booming — in a country where building materials are often of poor quality and construction standards are poorly enforced, according to experts. … As rescue efforts continued into the evening, officials said they had dispatched emergency responders to the scene. Mr. Farinloye said authorities were trying to speed up the rescue operations. “We are moving in the military to take over operations because it is beyond the capacity of the civil operators,” he said. Olufemi Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu, the director general of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, said in a Facebook statement: “All first responders are at the scene while the heavy duty equipment and life detection equipment have been dispatched.” In 2019, a building in Lagos housing a school for children collapsed, killing at least 20 people, according to officials. In 2016, at least 34 people were killed in the Lekki district in Lagos State when a building under construction collapsed. In 2013, at least seven were killed after a three-story building in the low-income Ebute Meta neighborhood in Lagos collapsed. The New York Times

Sudan’s Female Activists Lead the Resistance in Wake of Military Coup
Alaa Salah became a symbol of resistance in 2019, when the young Sudanese student climbed on to a car outside Khartoum’s military garrison to rally the crowd demanding the removal of dictator Omar al-Bashir. Dressed in a striking white toub robe and reciting a revolutionary poem, some called her Kandaka, a reference to the ancient Nubian queens of what is now Sudan who would lead warriors into battle. Her actions two years ago — and those of other women whose voices were suddenly thrust into Sudan’s political discourse — helped convince the country’s armed forces to end Bashir’s three-decade Islamist regime, ushering in a fragile democracy. Yet this week, as the transitional government was dissolved in a military coup, troops and protesters were back on the streets of Khartoum and the “woman in white” was forced into hiding. … Abdel Fattah Burhan, the general who has been the face of the coup, has claimed he would stick to the transition to democracy, promising to work with a technocratic civilian government and to hold elections in two years. Yet many Sudanese people do not believe such promises, including the tens of thousands who protested in cities across the country this week. … “This tells us one thing: that civilians are still there, women are still there, the commitment is still there and people are not being deterred by the violence. I definitely feel like the spirit of the 2019 revolution is back,” said Asmaa Ismail, a 35-year-old activist who was one of those on the streets this week. FT



Photo: Adam Jones