Africa Media Review for November 30, 2020

‘Stop the Madness,’ Tigray Leader Urges Ethiopia’s PM
The fugitive leader of Ethiopia’s defiant Tigray region on Monday called on Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to “stop the madness” and withdraw troops from the region as he asserted that fighting continues “on every front” two days after Abiy declared victory. Debretsion Gebremichael, in a phone interview with The Associated Press, said he remains near the Tigray capital, Mekele, which the Ethiopian army on Saturday said it now controlled. … Hospitals and health centers in the Tigray region are running “dangerously low” on supplies to care for the wounded, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Sunday. Food is also running low, the result of the region being cut off from outside aid for almost a month. In a rare report from inside Mekele, the ICRC also said a major hospital in northern Ethiopia, Ayder Referral Hospital, is lacking body bags and some 80% of its patients have trauma injuries. … Human rights groups and others worry about the atrocities that might emerge once transport and other links are restored. AP

Tigray Crackdown Ignites Pressure on Addis to Initiate Peace Talks
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed says the military crackdown on the Tigray People’s Liberation Front was necessary to protect the country against impunity. … Earlier, Mr Abiy had met with African Union Special Envoys former presidents Joachim Chissano of Mozambique, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Kgalema Motlanthe of South Africa. Mr Abiy told the envoys that the TPLF had consistently violated the laws and had threatened to break up the country. He was meeting the special envoys, 10 days after they were appointed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chairperson of the African Union, “with a view to helping to mediate between the parties to conflict in the sister Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.” But Addis Ababa has spent the past week pushing back pressure to negotiate with the TPLF, once a member of the ruling party in Ethiopia, but which the federal government now calls a “junta.’’ The EastAfrican

At Least 110 Civilians Killed in ‘Gruesome’ Nigeria Massacre
A “gruesome” massacre against farmers in northeastern Nigeria killed at least 110 people, the United Nations has said, raising tolls initially indicating 43 and then at least 70 dead. he killings took place in the early afternoon of Saturday in the village of Koshobe and other rural communities in the Jere local government area near Maiduguri, the capital of the conflict-hit Borno state. Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, said in a statement on Sunday. … “The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack, but the armed group Boko Haram and its splinter faction, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have carried out a series of deadly assaults in the area in recent years. Al Jazeera

How Russian Disinformation Protects Violent Wagner Group Mercenaries in Africa
Journalists and citizens in the Central African Republic (CAR) have increasingly become targets for Russian mercenaries in the country, according to an investigation by The Daily Beast. Eyewitnesses to Russian aggression in CAR say the violence has continued since the 2018 killings of three Russian journalists who were investigating the local activities of the Wagner Group, a mercenary outfit tied to a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. And coordinated pro-Russia social-media disinformation campaigns have popped up to defend the mercenaries and circulate lies about rival peacekeepers from Western nations. … As The Daily Beast discovered, a number of citizens and journalists in CAR have been intimidated and threatened by the Wagner mercenaries, as the Russians have accused locals of siding with Muslim rebel groups and warned them about speaking out, particularly in connection to activities around the Ndassima gold mine near the southern town of Bambari, where the three Russian journalists were killed. The Daily Beast

Bombing at Ice Cream Shop in Somali Capital Kills at Least 7
A local official says a suicide bombing at an ice cream shop in Somalia’s capital has killed at least seven people, and the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group has claimed responsibility. The attack occurred just hours after acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller visited Mogadishu to meet the U.S. ambassador and military personnel. Somalian government spokesman Salah Omar Hassan announced the bombing’s toll to reporters. The government said at least eight people were wounded in the “heinous” attack. Al-Shabab often targets the capital. AP

Explosions in 3 Malian Cities Amid Jihadist Attacks
The cities of Kidal, Gao and Menaka in northern Mali were hit by simultaneous attacks on Monday against military camps housing international forces, according to residents and a United Nations official. Kidal resident Souleymane Ag Mohamed Ali said he heard more than 10 explosions coming from the direction of the camp for U.N. peacekeepers and soldiers for the French Operation Barkhane. A U.N. official confirmed the attacks on three cities, saying rockets fell Monday morning on the camp in Kidal, and at the same time there were similar attacks in Gao and Menaka. … No group has claimed responsibility for the simultaneous attacks, but they bear the mark of jihadist groups linked to al-Qaida that carry out attacks in both northern and central Mali. Attacks on the camps of international forces are frequent, but this is the first time that towns several hundred kilometers apart have been attacked around the same time — a sign of the coordination capabilities of jihadist groups in Mali. AP

Burkina Faso’s Kaboré Fails to Reach Parliamentary Majority
Marc Roch Kabore’s party won the first round of the election with his People’s Movement for Progress gaining 56 seats — falling short of the 64 needed for an outright majority in the 127 seat body. Kabore will have to depend on allies such as the New Era for Democracy, which supported his candidacy to pull together a majority. The Congress for Democracy and Progress gained 20 seats, becoming the main opposition party, with the Union for Progress and Change taking 12, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s projections. Ahead of the election, international diplomatic efforts were stepped up to prevent any possible flare-up of unrest in the country — among the poorest in the world — and which is struggling with a long-running jihadist campaign. Kabore, 63, tweeted on Saturday that the leader of the opposition had congratulated him. AFP

Report Alleges Burundian Refugees Were Disappeared, Tortured
The men kicked down the door well before dawn. They shoved their way into the home of the Burundian refugee and put him in handcuffs, while asking why his wife was standing there crying. Within minutes, they were gone. That day in March was the last time she saw her husband, the woman told The Associated Press. He became one of at least 18 Burundian refugees and asylum seekers who have forcibly disappeared from refugee camps in Tanzania over roughly the past year, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. Many were tortured at a police station in Kibondo, Tanzania, the report says. Seven remain missing. Three were released after several weeks. Eight were handed over to authorities in Burundi and imprisoned “in abysmal conditions” without due process, indicating collaboration with Tanzania’s police and intelligence services, the report says, highlighting both the pressure on refugees to go home and alleged continuing repression under Burundi’s new president. AP

Tanzania Still Bound by African Court despite Withdrawal
Tanzania’s withdrawal from the Arusha-based African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) came into effect on November 21, but the country legally remains a member of the Arusha-based court and will continue to adhere to other provisions of the protocol establishing it. The court allows individuals and non-governmental organisations to sue Tanzania. As a human rights court and the African Union’s apex human rights mechanism, it has jurisdiction to hear cases alleging violations of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. However, the withdrawal means no Tanzanian individual or non-government organisation can seek direct recourse at the court. They can still do so through the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights based in the Gambian capital Banjul. … The commission reviews all cases before and, if it is satisfied, forwards them to the court in Arusha. … Tanzania has the highest number of cases filed by individuals and NGOs as well as judgments issued against it by the African Court. The EastAfrican

Leading Togo Opposition Figure Arrested
One of Togo’s main opposition figures was arrested Saturday for “attacking the security of the state”, a government prosecutor said. The West African country of eight million is led by President Faure Gnassingbe, who took over in 2005 following the death of his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled for 38 years. … Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson was arrested at home before being taken to the Central Research and Criminal Investigation Service, her relatives told AFP. Gerad Djossou, another opposition figure, was also arrested Friday. … The opposition had called for a rally in Lome to protest against February election results but it was cancelled by the government who cited the coronavirus risk. The country has recorded 1,722 infections and 44 Covid-19 deaths. AFP

Egypt Leader in 1st South Sudan Visit Talks Nile, Stability
In the first visit by an Egyptian president to South Sudan, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said he and President Salva Kiir discussed regional security and the usage of Nile waters, but he didn’t mention the country currently at the heart of either issue, Ethiopia. The statement after Saturday’s meeting made no mention of the deadly conflict inside neighboring Ethiopia, which is also in a dispute with Egypt over a massive dam that Addis Ababa is nearing completion on the Blue Nile. El-Sissi in the statement said he and Kiir discussed maximizing the usage of Nile waters, which he said should be a source of hope and national development. His government has described Ethiopia’s dam project as an existential threat to Egypt, which relies on the Nile for most of its water supply. AP

Sudan Inflation Soars, Raising Spectre of Hyperinflation
Inflation in Sudan has risen to one of the highest levels in the world, and the country risks slipping into hyperinflation unless it gets its budget deficit and money supply under control, economists say. The runaway prices have worsened an economic crisis for millions of ordinary Sudanese and imperilled a political transition under a military-civilian power sharing deal. … This week one U.S. dollar bought 255 Sudanese pounds on the black market, up from about 85 pounds a year ago. At the official rate a dollar fetches 55 pounds. “Because of the gas situation, I’ve literally stopped going further than a 9 kilometre radius,” said Huda Khalid, who considers herself relatively well paid as a primary school teaching assistant at a private school. A 50% salary raise has done little to help. “Electricity, gas money, internet, and groceries for a week and my salary is basically gone. For the rest, my dad sends money from Oman.” Reuters

Platform to Combat Violence against Sudanese Women Journalists Launched
Within the framework of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence launched on Wednesday, El Alag Centre for Press Services in Khartoum announced the establishment of a platform against violence against women journalists in Sudan. The project, developed in cooperation with the Canadian Alternatives, Action and Communication Network for International Development, “aims to achieve and provide a measure of protection for women journalists and correspondents in Sudan, especially as we are embracing a new era of democracy that allows us to work to create a safe and inclusive environment for women journalists in Sudan,” El Alag Centre said in a press statement on Thursday. … 21 women reporters will be trained on tools for collecting information, analysing and monitoring reports through a form that will be published for use in cases of reporting cases of violence faced by women journalists. Radio Dabanga

Malaria Death Toll to Exceed COVID-19’s in Sub-Saharan Africa: WHO
Deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization warned on Monday. More than 409,000 people globally – most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa – were killed by malaria last year, the WHO said in its latest global malaria report, and COVID-19 will almost certainly make that toll higher in 2020. “Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to COVID-19) … there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them in young children,” Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO’s malaria programme, told reporters. “It’s very likely that excess malaria mortality is larger than the direct COVID mortality.” … Some of the African countries worst affected by malaria have struggled to make significant progress since 2016. Reuters

Electricity Grid Collapses in Nigeria, Africa’s Largest Economy
Nigeria’s national electricity grid collapsed on Sunday, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said in a statement. Power outages in Nigeria, the most-populous nation in Africa, are common, but a system collapse is unusual. “At 11:25am today, the nation’s electricity grid experienced multiple trippings, which led to the collapse of the system,” the company said in a statement. “TCN has since commenced grid restoration; power has been successfully restored to every part of the country, except Calabar, Ugwuaji, Makurdi, Jos, Gombe, Yola and Maidugiri axes,” it added. TCN said it would conduct investigations to establish what caused the “multiple trippings” as soon as the grid was fully restored. The nation’s sclerotic power grid, along with the resulting precarious energy supply, is a key issue hindering growth in the continent’s largest economy. Reuters

Kenyan Farmers and Young Guides Enlisted to Protect City Forests
Peter Wainana remembers when the forest near his home outside Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, was so thick with trees and vegetation it was difficult to walk through. Today, Thogoto forest, on Nairobi’s northwest edge, is dotted with open spaces that locals and environmentalists say have been illegally cleared of trees by loggers and property developers, Wainana said. The destruction motivated the 49-year-old to join with a dozen other farmers from Karinde village to protect Thogoto’s trees through projects such as bamboo farming and beekeeping. “Everybody wants a piece of this forest because it is near the capital city. Rich people are trying to steal its land, traders are taking (its) timber, even manufacturing companies are dumping toxic waste here,” said the father of three. Across Nairobi, community groups are working to stop encroachers from destroying the forests around the city, as conservationists allege that much of the activity is due to illegal deals between developers and local politicians. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones