Africa Media Review for November 29, 2019

DR Congo – Ebola Responders Killed in Armed Attacks
Ebola response workers were killed in attacks carried out by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the World Health Organization confirmed on Thursday. “We are heartbroken that our worst fears have been realized,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the UN health agency, wrote on Twitter. “Our focus is caring for the wounded and ensuring staff at other locations are safe,” he added. Two members of the vaccination team were killed in Mangina while a third Ebola response worker was killed in Biakato Mines, reported news agency DPA, citing a spokeswoman for the Congolese Health Ministry. The attack came just hours after a separate attack by a suspected rebel group killed 19 people in village in east Congo — with anger mounting against the perceived inaction of the army and United Nations peacekeeping troops. The WHO already evacuated 49 of its staff from a UN peacekeeping base in the city of Beni after locals stormed the base this week, demanding more protection from rebel groups. The protests also prompted WHO to put a hold on Ebola response work in the city, sparking concern from health experts. DW

Sudan Moves to Dissolve Ex Ruling Party, Repeals Public Order Law
Sudanese transitional authorities approved a law on Thursday to dissolve the former ruling party and repealed a public order law used to regulate women’s behaviour under ex-president Omar al-Bashir, the justice minister said. The two measures responded to key demands by a protest movement that helped overthrow Bashir in April. Their implementation will be a crucial test of how far transitional authorities are willing or able to go to overturn nearly three decades of rule by Bashir, who took power in a 1989 coup and whose Islamist movement penetrated deep into Sudan’s institutions. The law to dissolve Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) also allows for the party’s assets to be seized, Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdelbari said. State TV described it as a measure to “dismantle” the former regime. The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the protests against Bashir, welcomed the law. “It is an important step on the path to building a democratic civilian state,” the group said in a statement. The law was passed during a marathon, 14-hour meeting of Sudan’s sovereign council and cabinet. Reuters

Sudan’s PM Hamdok Picked to Chair Igad
Regional bloc Igad on Friday picked Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as its chair. The decision, reached by consensus, during the Ordinary Summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa is seen as compromise to avert fallout after Kenya, Djibouti differed over seat. Hamdok will take the mantle from Ethiopia which has held the position since 2010. Sudan will now hold the position for one year, giving PM Hamdok a new clout just months after he became the head of a transitional government formed after the ouster of Omar al-Bashir. Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed had been the chair since he took power in April 2018. Ethiopia had held the position through his predecessors Meles Zenawi and Hailemariam Desalegn successively since 2010. This was the first Ordinary Summit in ten years, a fact that allowed Addis Ababa to dominate the bloc. The official communication is expected later on Friday. The East African

EAC Launches $11M Programme to Tackle Insecurity
The East African Community (EAC) has launched a joint programme to address regional and cross border security. The 10-milion euros (about $11 million) programme, funded by the European Union (EU), is a response to the growing security threats in the six-nation bloc and its neighbours. It will be implemented by the EAC Secretariat and the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) and will complement several other initiatives to provide peace and security in the region. The 45-month programme was launched by EAC secretary general Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko and the EU ambassador to Tanzania, Manfredo Fanti in Arusha on Wednesday. “The project being launched today [Wednesday] will seek to reduce opportunities for transnational and cross border threats in the integration process, “said Mr Mfumukeko. For his part, the EU envoy said that no country was immune to transnational crimes such as terrorism, noting that the project would hinge on capacity building and exchange of information. The Citizen

Guinea-Bissau Presidential Election: Ex-PMS Advance to Runoff as Incumbent Eliminated from Race
Two of Guinea-Bissau’s former prime ministers are set to participate in a presidential election run-off after winning the majority of the votes in the first-round poll held on November 24. The country’s electoral commission announced on Wednesday that Domingos Simoes Pereira and Umaro Sissoco Embalo will face off in a second round on December 29. Pereira finished first with 40% of the vote representing the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), while Embalo, who represents Madem – an opposition party composed of PAIGC rebels – came second with 28%. Incumbent President Jose Mario Vaz was eliminated from the race after receiving just 12% of the vote. His five-year tenure was marred by corruption, high-level dismissals and frequent political infighting, having worked with seven different prime ministers. However, he is the first president in 25 years to reach the end of his mandate without being ousted in a military coup or assassinated. His critics have accused him of failing to tackle rampant corruption and stem the flow of cocaine through the country from South America to Europe during his tenure as president. DW

After Mali Deaths, Macron Assesses Sahel Options Hoping for EU Help
French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the military on Thursday to review its operations against Islamist militants in West Africa and pressed his allies to do more after 13 soldiers died during a combat mission this week. In his first public remarks since France suffered its heaviest single loss of troops for nearly four decades, Macron said those seeking to understand the cost of France’s mission in the Sahel should witness a ceremony to honour the dead soldiers. “France is acting in the Sahel on everyone’s behalf,” an emotional Macron told a news conference with NATO General-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg. “Our mission there is important. Nevertheless, the situation we face compels me today to examine all our strategic options.” France, a former colonial power, is the only Western country with a significant military presence waging counter-insurgency operations in Mali and the wider Sahel region south of the Sahara desert. Macron said he had told his government and top military leaders to look hard at France’s operations in the region, adding, “I told them all options are open.” Reuters

Algerian Artist Detained over Critical Cartoons before Polls
A court in Algeria has ordered a cartoonist be kept in pre-trial detention in a move that activists decry as part of a government clampdown on free expression in advance of a controversial presidential election. Police in plain-clothes arrested Abdelhamid Amine on Tuesday after raiding the premises of his creative agency in the northwestern city of Oran and seizing all of his material. Local reports in the North African country on Thursday said Amine is expected to be presented before the court on December 5, almost 10 days after his arrest. Algerian authorities have detained hundreds of demonstrators in recent months over their objection to the December 12 presidential vote. The National Committee for the Release of Detainees, a local NGO, said in a statement on Thursday the artist’s arrest was likely due to his most recent works that dealt with the upcoming election. In one of his caricatures, Amine shows army chief Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, prostrating before former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune as the powerful general tries to fit a shoe on the presidential candidate – a scene reminiscent of the Walt Disney classic, Cinderella. Many view Tebboune, a Bouteflika loyalist, as the military’s preferred candidate in the polls. Al Jazeera

Dozens of Nigerian Men Are on Trial for Same-Sex Displays of Affection. They Could Face a Decade in Jail.
In the Nigerian metropolis of Lagos, a gay man who holds hands with his romantic partner on the street can face up to 10 years in prison. As a result, much of the LGBTQ community practices acts of tenderness in the shadows, fearing jail time, violence and the police officers who catch intimate moments between couples then demand hundreds of dollars for their silence. Such worries were validated again this week when 47 men pleaded innocent to a charge of public displays of affection with the same sex. They were among 57 people arrested in a police raid last year on a hotel in the West African nation’s commercial capital, according to Reuters, after officers accused them of being “initiated” into a gay club. (The men said they were attending a birthday party.) … The trial comes five years after then-Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law banning same-sex marriage and activities deemed “amorous” outside the bounds of heterosexual relationships. The measure triggered international outrage, but it stuck in Africa’s most populous nation and largest economy, which is known for its art scene, technology prowess and entrepreneurial spirit. Activists say the restrictions fuel human rights abuses, thwart progress and contribute to Nigeria’s well-documented brain drain. The Washington Post

The Nigerian Cyber Warfare Command: Waging War in Cyberspace
As the threat from state-sponsored cyber-attacks increases, multiple nations are putting together ‘cyber-armies’ aiming to fight back. … Another country upping its game is Nigeria, which has itself suffered from numerous incidents of cyber-terrorism after jihadist militants Boko Haram migrated to the internet. The nation claims Boko Haram is leveraging social media for recruitment and was responsible for defacing the Defence Headquarters website. The group is also blamed for a hack on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) website on a presidential election day. In 2016, the Nigerian Army announced plans to take the war against insurgency to the nation’s cyberspace. The result is the Nigerian Army’s Cyber Warfare Command: According to reports, 150 IT trained officers and men drawn from the corps and services in the Nigerian Army. Their aim: to monitor, defend and assault in cyberspace through distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on criminals, nation states and terrorists. Forbes

Central African Republic Seeks a Salve for the Scars of War
The harrowing attack in the country’s north-west is just one of many to have ravaged CAR since civil war erupted in 2013, often with no consequence for the culprits. Corrupt, dysfunctional courts mean that thousands of victims of brutality are routinely denied justice. About 350km from that forgotten crime scene, a new development in the capital, Bangui, could signal a change. On Rue Martin Luther King Jr, behind a concrete wall painted with the scales of justice, a courthouse is being overhauled. Ringed by razor wire, this construction site is part of a bold experiment to begin to pull this crisis zone back from the brink. To be known as the special criminal court (SCC), an ambitious institution is being set up in a country scarred by ethnic cleansing and war crimes, the lead actors of which remain at large. The violence stretches back to 2003, when General François Bozizé seized power in a violent coup that sparked severe unrest. The Guardian

Wool, Mohair Trade Rules: Why Lesotho Parliament Witnessed Bloody Clash
Members of Parliament, MPs, in Lesotho were involved in chaotic exchanges on Thursday arising from the decision of the Speaker to suspend sitting over controversial trade regulations. Reports indicate that opposition MPs were demanding the appearance before the house of Chalane Phoro, Minister for Small Business Development, Conservatives and Marketing. The MPs had expressly demanded him to appear to give clarity on wool and mohair regulations that had seen farmers protest over the local broker appointed by government for their produce. MPs on both sides of the house in videos posted on social media are seen hurling stationery and chairs at each other. A number of them actually engaged in fisticuffs in the middle of the chamber. A member was reportedly injured with blood splattered sheet being carried around by one of the MPs. The floor of the house was in disarray with broken furniture and documents all over the place. A journalist who covers the country added that aside the trade issue, a failed motion of no confidence aiming to curtail powers of the Prime Minister and a call for snap elections had contributed to the altercation. Africa News

Zimbabwe’s Food Crisis: ‘Food Security Is National Security’
Zimbabwe’s food security situation poses a potential threat to national security and can cause civil unrest and general insecurity in the country, a top United Nations envoy warned. The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, who was in the troubled Southern African country from November 18-28, said the food security situation could potentially worsen by the end of the year. In her preliminary findings, she said the international community should scale up humanitarian aid to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the country. … Elver said the food security situation in urban areas was a cause for concern, saying the currency crisis, a heavy tax system, unpredictable inflation rates, high levels of unemployment and low wages had worsened the food crisis affecting urban households. … Elver said several Zimbabweans she spoke to in Harare, the capital of the Southern African country, told her while food was readily available in supermarkets, inflation of up to 490 percent had made them “food insecure.” According to Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC), urban food insecurity is now affecting 2.2 million people. Al Jazeera

Cured but Still Contagious: How Mixed Messages on Sexual Transmission and Breastfeeding May Help Ebola Spread
When HIV swept across much of Africa in the 1980s and ’90s, people were warned that unprotected sex, breast milk, and exposure to other bodily fluids could put them or their children at risk. In the latest Ebola outbreak, however, warnings about sexual transmission and breastfeeding have been inconsistent, while a stark reality has emerged: most Ebola victims are women and children. As the primary caregivers to children and relatives, women have been hardest hit in an outbreak that has killed 2,200 people and counting. Roughly 70 percent of the more than 3,300 cases have been women and children, according to UNICEF, one of the lead UN agencies helping with prevention messaging. New vaccines and treatments have contributed to more people recovering from the disease, but recent studies have also shown that the virus can live in the semen of male survivors for more than three years. The virus has also been found in the breast milk of survivors who showed no Ebola symptoms. As of 28 November, there have been 1,077 survivors from the latest outbreak. While risks associated with sexual transmission and breastfeeding are touched upon during follow-ups with survivors, there is no set “protocol” to include such warnings in general prevention messaging, according to David Gressly, the UN’s emergency Ebola response coordinator. The New Humanitarian

FIFA Announce Plans to Raise $1 Billion for Africa
Football’s world governing body has announced plans to raise $1 billion dollars to build at least one stadium meeting Fifa standards in each African country. Fifa president Gianni Infantino was talking in Lubumbashi during the 80th anniversary celebrations of DR Congo side TP Mazembe. He insisted that Fifa wants African football to shine and will work with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) and other stakeholders to improve refereeing, infrastructure and competitions on the continent. “We want to bring it (Africa) to the highest of heights and show the world the outstanding talent and amazingly gifted players your continent possesses,” he said. “To do this, we want to implement a three pillar approach: refereeing, infrastructure and competitions, in close cooperation with Caf, all of its 54 member associations across Africa and other stakeholders. “I am positive that we will make African football reach the top level where it should be because the quality and potential are definitely here.” BBC



Photo: Adam Jones