Africa Media Review for November 9, 2021

Collaborative Policing and Negotiating Urban Order in Abidjan
Africa’s urban areas are expected to add nearly a billion people in the next 30 years, further reshaping Africa’s security landscape. Even now, many of Africa’s cities are facing escalating rates of violent crime, threatening the security and day-to-day activities of residents. Constrained by limited resources and training, many African police forces have struggled to maintain a security presence in these rapidly changing urban spaces. In the Africa Center’s latest Africa Security Brief, Maxime Ricard and Kouamé Félix Grodji examine how communities in Abidjan have established vigilance committees to respond to the growing challenge of urban crime. Drawing from extensive on-the-ground research, the authors review the impacts and limitations of vigilance committees on urban security—and the critical importance of coordination with police and citizen oversight of these community security groups. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Hit $100Bn Target or Poor Countries Face Climate Disaster, the Gambia Tells Cop26
Rich countries must hit their $100bn climate finance target in the last week of Cop26 or it will be catastrophic for the poorest nations suffering the most from the climate crisis, the Gambian environment minister has warned. In an interview with the Guardian as he prepared to leave for Glasgow, Lamin B Dibba urged developed countries to finally honour the annual funding commitment that was made 12 years ago at the Copenhagen climate summit (Cop15) – but which has never been achieved. “We [the world’s least-developed countries] bear the biggest brunt of the impact of climate change and we would like to see the commitment that was taken by the developed countries be fulfilled,” he said. If the $100bn (£75bn) target was not reached, he added, the consequences for those nations would be grave. “It would be catastrophic because we need those resources,” Dibba said. … The Gambia, Africa’s smallest mainland country, has been praised by some for its plans to tackle the climate crisis. A recent analysis found it to be the only “Paris-compatible” country in the world, with plans for keeping to the goal of limiting global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels by 2100. The Guardian

The World Needs to Quit Oil and Gas. Africa Has an Idea: Rich Countries First.
… That juggling act gets to the heart of a big question facing African nations: Who gets to keep using fossil fuels, and for how long, during the transition to clean energy? … in order to hit that target and avert the worst climate catastrophes, analysts here say, African nations should be supported financially by wealthier ones as they seek alternative pathways to reducing emissions. When the time comes, Mr. Gwemende said, developed countries should also transfer technical knowledge on renewables to Africa. … Sub-Saharan Africa contributes about 3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, among the lowest of the world’s regions. Yet African countries are particularly hard hit by the consequences of climate change. The region is warming faster than the global average and experiencing bigger increases in sea-level rise. … Yet, at the same time, the development stakes are particularly high for the continent, which is home to some 1.2 billion people, half of whom don’t have access to electricity — a group equivalent to the entire population of the European Union. The problems in electrification are wide-ranging and vary from country to country: Absence of power-generating capacity, absence of technical expertise, and widespread corruption. The New York Times

African Union, U.S. See Small Window of Opportunity to End Ethiopia Fighting
The African Union and the United States see a small window of opportunity to end fighting in Ethiopia, they said on Monday, as the United Nations warned that the risk of Ethiopia spiralling into a widening civil war is “only too real.” The AU envoy for the Horn of Africa, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo both briefed the U.N. Security Council. Speaking from Ethiopia, Obasanjo said that by the end of the week “we hope to have a program in hand that will indicate” how they can achieve humanitarian access and a withdrawal of troops that satisfies all the parties. The United Nations estimates 400,000 people in the northern region of Tigray are living in famine-like conditions following a year of war. “All these leaders, here in Addis Ababa and in the north, agree individually that the differences between them are political and require a political solution through dialogue,” Obasanjo told the 15-member council, but stressed: “The window of opportunity we have is very little and that time is short.” The African Union earlier on Monday held a closed-door meeting to discuss the crisis. … The Security Council on Friday called for an end to the fighting in Ethiopia and for talks on a lasting ceasefire as the body expressed deep concern in a rare statement about the expansion and intensification of military clashes. Reuters

People Fleeing Ethiopia Allege Attacks, Forced Conscription
A new round of deadly attacks and forced conscription has begun against ethnic Tigrayans in an area of Ethiopia now controlled by Amhara regional authorities in collaboration with soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, people fleeing over the border to Sudan tell The Associated Press as the yearlong war intensifies. … Those fleeing the western Tigray communities of Adebay and Humera in the past week described warnings from Amhara authorities against supporting the Tigray forces. The accounts confirm warnings by the U.S. and others that Eritrean soldiers remain in the Tigray region, and they indicate that pressure is growing on Tigrayans of mixed heritage who have tried to live quietly amid what the U.S. has alleged as ethnic cleansing in western Tigray. As reports grew about the Tigray forces’ momentum, Amhara authorities at a public meeting in Adebay on Oct. 29 warned residents against supporting them, two men who fled to Sudan said. … Meanwhile, reports of mass detentions of Tigrayans continue under the state of emergency. An Ethiopian Orthodox Church official in Addis Ababa, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said dozens of priests, monks, deacons and others had been detained in the capital because of their ethnicity. AP

Rights Groups Urge Sudan Army to Free Those Detained in Coup
Two leading international rights groups urged Sudan’s military in a joint statement Tuesday to release government officials, activists and others detained during the army’s coup last month. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also appealed for an end to “further arbitrary arrests” and the crackdown that has been taking place on anti-coup protests. … Since the takeover, at least 14 anti-coup protesters have been killed due to excessive force used by the country’s security forces, according to Sudanese doctors and the United Nations. On Sunday, security forces tear-gassed demonstrators and rounded up more than 100 people, most of them anti-coup teachers in Khartoum. The coup has drawn international criticism and massive protests in the streets of Khartoum and elsewhere in the country. Moez Hadra, a defense lawyer for the deposed officials, said half of them are believed to be held in Khartoum while the others are scattered across the country’s provinces. Hadra added that he and other defense lawyers have yet to be allowed to communicate with some of their clients or even know their whereabouts. AP

Sudan Court Orders End to Internet Cut but Services Still Offline
A Sudanese court ruled Tuesday that internet services cut during a military coup more than two weeks ago must be restored, a lawyer said. However, the country remained largely offline early Tuesday, despite the court’s directive to internet service providers. “The ruling by Khartoum district court ordered internet services to be resumed immediately,” lawyer Abdelazim Hassan told AFP. The case was brought by a group of lawyers and the Sudanese consumers’ protection society, he said, adding that the court had also ruled services should run during a possible appeals process. Online access in Sudan has largely been blocked since October 25, the day of a widely condemned military coup, and phone lines have also been intermittently disrupted. Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan dissolved the government, declared a state of emergency and detained the civilian leadership. AFP

Blinken: US, Egypt Have ‘Shared Interest’ in Sudan’s Democratic Transition
The United States and Egypt have had “a shared interest” in getting Sudan’s democratic transition back on track since the Sudanese military seized power in late October, said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. On Monday, Blinken and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry opened the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue. “The military takeover that began on October 25 has been dangerously destabilizing,” Blinken said. “Restoration of the civilian-led transitional government is the only path to facilitating the aspirations of the Sudanese people, who have demonstrated remarkable bravery in repeatedly coming out in demand for democracy,” he added. Egypt, one of Sudan’s neighbors, is notably absent from a recent joint statement issued by the U.S., United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, calling for a “full and immediate restoration” of Sudan’s “civilian-led transitional government and institutions.” … The U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue on Monday is the first bilateral dialogue held between the two nations since 2015. VOA

Hundreds Flee to Uganda amid Fighting in Eastern Congo
Congo’s military says that members of the M23 rebellion group have attacked a base in eastern Congo’s Rutshuru area and that fighting is ongoing. “The M23 insurrection movement attacked the FARDC positions in Rutshuru with the intention of destabilizing the province. At present, the fighting is underway and the loyalist forces are determined to put an end to this armed group once and for all,” said Gen. Sylvain Ekenge, deputy spokesman for Congo’s military, also known as FARDC. The rebels attacked the remote villages of Runyonyi and Chanzu, on the strategic hills of North Kivu province near the borders with Rwanda and Uganda, he said. The rebels had taken over lands near there in 2012 and were pushed from the area into Uganda and Rwanda in 2013 by Congolese and United Nations forces. … In a security alert Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Congo noted “reports of a potential attack in Goma,” the capital of North Kivu province. “There is increased security presence throughout the city,” the advisory said, adding that U.S. government personnel in the area were advised to shelter in place. AP

Gold, Diamonds and Drugs: Portuguese Peacekeepers Suspected of Smuggling
Portuguese police have clamped down on a crime ring that allegedly involved the country’s U.N. peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR) using military planes to smuggle gold, diamonds and drugs, authorities said on Monday. Police said that throughout the day more than 300 inspectors raided nearly 100 homes across the country to collect evidence related to the investigation, codenamed Operation Myriad. The armed forces said in a statement soldiers may have been used as couriers to transport the illicit goods from CAR into Portugal, and they became aware of such suspicions in December 2019. Defence Minister Joao Cravinho said he informed the United Nations last year. According to Portuguese police, the “criminal network” had international links and allegedly smuggled the illicit materials to then launder the money. Ten people, including some ex-military, have been arrested so far and are likely to appear before a judge on Tuesday. Reuters

Insecurity: Nigeria Facing ‘New Dimensions of Threats’ – Defence Minister
The Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, says the prevalence of the various security threats in Nigeria has adversely affected food security thereby posing new dimension of threats to the country. Mr Magashi, a retired major general, stated this at the opening of a retreat for Defence Advisers/Attaches Conference, organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) on Monday in Abuja. The conference/retreat has the theme, ‘’Advancing Counterterrorism Efforts through Enhanced Inter-Agency Cooperation: A Whole of Government Approach.” He said the attacks by Boko Haram Terrorists and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the North-east as well as banditry and herder/militia in the North-west and North-central had continued to pose serious security threats to Nigeria. According to him, the littoral states in the South-south region are plagued with illegal oil bunkering, piracy and militancy while the South-east is challenged with secessionist activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). … “The threats currently facing Nigeria and understanding their socio-geographic context is pivotal for adapting appropriate and lasting counter-measures.” NAN

Nigeria Counts Votes in Key State Election
Nigerian electoral officials were tallying results from a local vote on Sunday after a tightly contested race seen as a test-run for national elections to replace President Muhammadu Buhari in early 2023. Thousands of police and army were dispatched to Anambra state for the election of a local governor, in a year that has seen a string of attacks on official targets blamed on an outlawed separatist group known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Voting went ahead mostly without major incident on Saturday but technical glitches with face and fingerprint recognition technology caused delays and forced the electoral commission (INEC) to extend voting hours. … Anambra’s election was a race between former central bank governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, whose All Progressive Grand Alliance has run the state for years, and the candidates from Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Campaigning was low-key after attacks blamed on IPOB or “unknown gunmen” and several protests by the separatists over the arrest of their leader, who was detained overseas and brought back to Nigeria earlier this year. The IPOB cancelled a planned sit-in protest last week and urged people to vote. With political infighting heating up before 2023, Anambra emerged as key battleground. AFP

Ivory Coast Says It Will Invest in North to Counter Jihadism
Ivory Coast is accelerating investment in schools, hospitals, and jobs in its northern region to provide alternatives to violent extremism, the prime minister said on Monday. Northern Ivory Coast is far from commercial centres and borders Mali and Burkina Faso, where Islamist groups are active and have increasingly crossed the border to wage attacks. Recruitment of local youth is a growing concern, Prime Minister Patrick Achi told journalists, adding that the state will beef up border security along with its Western partners. “There are investments underway in the north to build more schools, hospitals, and industry and to occupy our youth to keep them away from the call of terrorists,” he said. “Ivory Coast and its partners will be able to face the terrorist threat by strengthening security in the north.” … Achi said that more than $430 million has been invested in the creation of a dry port in Ferkessedougou, the main town near the northern border, as well as in an integrated agro-industrial centre. The project is part of a series of large investments that will follow in 2022 to boost local processing of cotton and cashews, he said. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones