Africa Media Review for November 4, 2020

Ethiopia Nears War as PM Orders Military into Defiant Region
Ethiopia’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning prime minister on Wednesday ordered the military to confront the country’s Tigray regional government after he accused it of carrying out a deadly attack on a military base, declaring “the last red line has been crossed” after months of alleged incitement. The statement by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office, and the reported overnight attack by the well-armed Tigray People’s Liberation Front, immediately raised concerns that one of Africa’s most populous and powerful countries could plunge back into war. That would send a shock wave through one of the world’s most turbulent regions, the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia’s neighbors include Somalia and Sudan, and the prospect of spreading instability sent a chill down the spines of observers. Signaling the gravity of the threat, the United States in the midst of its election drama at home quickly issued a statement urging “an immediate de-escalation of the current situation in Tigray and a measured response by both sides.” AP

Zimbabwe Journalist Hopewell Chin’ono Arrested Again
Hopewell Chin’ono, the Zimbabwean journalist and anti-corruption campaigner has been rearrested for allegedly breaking bail conditions. Police and officials took Chin’ono from his home in the capital, Harare, on Tuesday evening. Legal sources said he had been charged with contempt of court relating to an alleged breach of bail conditions, an allegation that they described as “nonsense.” Chin’ono, a respected documentary-maker who has worked for a number of international organisations, was first arrested in July after publishing a series of investigations into corruption in Zimbabwe. He was held in an overcrowded cell in a high-security prison for almost six weeks pending trial on charges of inciting violence. … “Reports that authorities have again arrested @daddyhope for speaking out against corruption and defending fundamental freedoms raise serious concerns,” the [US] embassy said on Twitter. The Guardian

Two Presidential Candidates Detained as They File to Run in Uganda
Two opposition candidates in Uganda who are preparing to challenge the country’s strongman president in an election next February were detained on Tuesday as they went to register as candidates, the latest indication of a tough fight to come as they seek to unseat President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986. One candidate, Bobi Wine, 38, a musician-turned-lawmaker who is the most prominent challenger to the president, was dragged from his car after he submitted his nomination papers in the capital, Kampala. The other, Patrick Amuriat, was detained at the headquarters of his party, the Forum for Democratic Change, the party said on Twitter. The detentions are the latest examples of the roadblocks facing opposition leaders and movements in African countries as they try to challenge entrenched powers. The New York Times

Ivory Coast: Security Forces Surround Homes of Opposition Leaders
Security forces in Ivory Coast have surrounded the homes of opposition leaders after they rejected President Alassane Ouattara’s re-election and pledged to set up a “transitional government.” Ouattara, 78, won by a landslide in Saturday’s vote, which was boycotted by the opposition who said the incumbent’s bid for a third term was unconstitutional. While Ivory Coast has a limit of two presidential terms, Ouattara has insisted the new constitution approved in 2016 allowed him to run again. On Tuesday, hours after Ouattara was declared the winner of the presidential election, with more than 94 percent of the vote, Justice Minister Sansan Kambile accused the opposition of “acts of assault and plotting against the authority of the state.” The public prosecutor has been asked to investigate, Kambile said, warning that “all options are on the table.” … In a joint statement, the UN, African Union and Economic Community of West African States regional bloc called on Ivory Coast’s opposition to “respect constitutional order” and seek dialogue, while urging all sides to show “restraint to preserve human lives.” Al Jazeera

How Tanzania Got to This Point
Tanzania’s election results were announced on Friday, but they are far from conclusive. Residents across the country have been silenced by a social media blackout and sluggish internet, as security forces killed almost a dozen voters last week and have continued to arrest opposition leaders. While the electoral commission announced that President John Magufuli won a second five-year term with over 84% of the votes, observers and opposition politicians have said that the election was marred by irregularities, voter intimidation, and violence. Tundu Lissu of the Chadema Party, the key opposition leader who stood in the way of President John Magufuli’s attempt at securing a second term, has accused the electoral commission of fraud. … Lissu was briefly arrested on Monday, according to Robert Amsterdam, Lissu’s international lawyer, before he was released a few hours later. “An absolute clear sign that Tanzania is now a one-party dictatorship without rule of law,” Amsterdam told VICE News. Vice

Libya’s Rivals Urge Security Council to Back Cease-Fire
Libya’s rivals wrapped up their military talks with a call to the U.N. Security Council to adopt a binding resolution to implement a cease-fire deal inked last month, the U.N. said. The two-day talks in the oasis town of Ghadames, which concluded late Tuesday, were the first face-to-face negotiations inside Libya since last year’s months-long attack on the capital by forces loyal to the east-based military commander Khalifa Hifter. The two sides agreed to meet again in the contested coastal city of Sirte sometime in November, and to form a sub-committee to oversee the return of all Libyan forces to their camps, as mentioned in the Oct. 23 cease-fire reached in Geneva, the U.N. support mission in Libya said late Tuesday. AP

Deputy UN Chief Pushes Security Council on Global Ceasefire, to Fight ‘Common Enemy’
The UN Deputy Secretary-General on Tuesday urged the Security Council to do more to encourage combatants across the world to put down their guns and focus instead on fighting “our common enemy” – the coronavirus. “I count on your commitment to this appeal,” Amina Mohammed told the meeting via videoconference, on factors driving civil strife worldwide. “And I count on your renewed political and financial investments in prevention and solutions, to stave off security and conflict risks, at a time when the world needs peace and calm more than ever before.” She informed that the pandemic continues to exacerbate the risks and drivers of conflict, “from cross-border insecurity and climate-related threats, to social unrest and democratic deficits.” “Grievances and inequalities are deepening, eroding trust in authorities and institutions of all kinds, and increasing vulnerabilities,” she said. UN News

Dozens Feared Drowned after Boat Capsizes off Mozambique
Dozens of people are feared to have drowned off the coast of Mozambique last week when their boat capsized as they fled from unrest in the country’s insurgency-hit north. Rescue workers told AFP news agency on Tuesday that the tragedy started coming to light after some 20 survivors managed to swim to Pemba beach on Monday. About 50 are still missing. “The wreck was last Thursday but we only found out yesterday when the survivors arrived in the Paquitequete neighbourhood in Pemba and narrated what happened,” Taibo Ali, a volunteer helping the survivors find shelter, told AFP. … An armed uprising has wreaked havoc in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province over the past three years, targeting villages and towns. With the recent intensification of attacks in the districts of Central and North Cabo Delgado, thousands of people have left their villages to seek refuge in safer areas towards the south. Al Jazeera

Cameroon Officials Say 11 Teachers Abducted by Separatist Groups
Cameroon’s government says gunmen abducted at least 11 teachers in Cameroon’s northwest town of Kumbo early Tuesday morning. No one has claimed responsibility for the abductions, but residents suspect the teachers were taken by separatists. A 45-year-old teacher said fighters attacked Presbyterian School Kumbo at about 8 a.m. Tuesday. The teacher, who asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted by separatists, said children had just finished their morning prayers when the fighters moved in and kidnapped 12 teachers. “We came in the morning, did some devotion and surprisingly, the whole place was covered with armed gangs. All of us were taken. I escaped on the way so I do not know for certain the direction, I don’t know the camp in which they were taken to,” he said. VOA

Nigeria IDP Camp Fire Displaces Thousands of Residents
A fire at an internally displaced persons camp in northern Nigeria left at least 7,200 people without shelter, authorities said early on Wednesday. A total of 1,200 tents were burned in the fire at the camp in Gajiram village in Borno state, according to Yabawa Kolo, an official from Nigeria’s Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). Officials said the incident, which occurred last week, was the latest in a “series of the annual fire outbreaks” at the camp, reported an online news website called the Premium Times. … Five children were killed and 7,457 people lost their tents in a fire last year at a refugee camp in Borno state, reported Anadolu Agency. Armed groups have forced more than two million people to flee their homes since 2009 when Boko Haram began an armed campaign. Some 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict and millions forced from their homes. Al Jazeera

End SARS Protests: Why Anthony Unuode Gave His Life for a Better Nigeria
As hundreds of candles burned into the night, friends, family and strangers spoke about Anthony and his selflessness, while some shuffled their feet in grief, heavy with the burden of his death. “Have we betrayed the dead?” asked one man, who said he did not know Anthony personally but, like many others, felt a kinship had developed between them during the protests against police brutality that rocked Nigeria last month. The protests were held under the #EndSars banner, a reference to demands for the disbandment of the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad, whose officers were repeatedly accused of criminal activity ranging from extortion to extra-judicial killings. “He died fighting for the same thing we are fighting for,” said another speaker, who followed Anthony on Twitter. BBC

UK, Kenya Agree on Landmark Trade Deal
Kenya and the UK on Tuesday reached a decisive consensus on a new trade agreement, nearly 55 days before expiry of existing privileges as London formally exits the European Union protocols. The new deal, which includes clauses from the old Economic Partnership Agreements under the European Union, will now be made formal upon signing of the agreed texts by the two sides. “The agreement will provide continuity for businesses, investors and supply chains besides setting foundations for further economic development,” Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary (CS) Betty Maina said on Tuesday. … The sixth bilateral trade deal will allow British and Kenyan companies to expand on trade already worth £1.4 billion ($1.8 billion) a year. The deal will be beneficial to the export of Kenyan products such as tea, coffee, vegetables and flowers, while the UK will have free access to import vehicles, pharmaceuticals and paper worth almost £800 million ($1 billion). The EastAfrican

Special Report: African Banking and Finance
Investors electrify South African banks’ in their sustainability push; Africa’s booming tech hub of Lagos braces as Covid-19 bites; and the Kenyan banking group set on regional dominance. Plus, Ethiopia’s steps towards banking reforms FT.

Sudanese Journalists Network Honoured with Press Freedom Prize
The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) was awarded the Press Freedom Award 2020 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Swedish chapter yesterday for its efforts in defending freedom of expression and the press, besides its participation in leading the civil struggle in Sudan. Journalist Khaled Fathi, member of the SJN secretariat said that “This award came as a culmination of the network’s struggle since its establishment in 2008, and in recognition of its great role in defending freedom of expression and freedom of the press. “The network formed the first nucleus in establishing the Sudanese Professionals Association, together with the Lawyers Alliance and the Sudanese Doctors Central Committee, that later became the driving force behind the December 2018 revolution that toppled the corrupt El Bashir regime.” Radio Dabanga

Pangolin Patrol: Volunteer Team Rescues Endangered Animals
The traumatized pangolins arrive at a Johannesburg wildlife clinic emaciated and badly injured. They are the lucky ones. Rescued from poachers, they will survive thanks to a dedicated team of volunteers who tend their wounds, feed them and coax them back to health. Pangolins are unique creatures; the world’s only mammals with scales. They’re sometimes called scaly anteaters, although they’re not related. Like armadillos, they can roll up into an armored ball. Amazingly, their tongues can be longer than their bodies. Pangolins aren’t well known and yet they are among the most poached and illegally trafficked animals in the world. AP



Photo: Adam Jones