Africa Media Review for October 17, 2019

9 Dead as Guineans Protest President’s Bid to Extend Power

At least nine people have been killed in three days of protests in Guinea against the president’s bid to extend his time in power, while hospitals are overwhelmed with scores of people wounded, a doctor told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Some of the bullet wounds indicate that people were shot at close range, Dr. Diallo Mamadou Bella said. He is volunteering to treat the more than 70 wounded protesters at a hospital in the suburbs of the capital, Conakry, where many of the protests have been taking place. It is not clear how many people have been killed and wounded overall in the protests, which have drawn thousands of people into the streets. President Alpha Conde’s mandate ends in December 2020 but he seeks a referendum to allow a third term in the West African nation of some 12 million people. The National Front for the Defense of the Constitution, a coalition group, called for the demonstrations. Its leader, Abdourahmane Sanoh, and at least five others have since been arrested and were in court on Wednesday, charged with acts to compromise public security and disrupt public order. AP

Sudan Rebels Suspend Juba Peace Talks after Militia Ambush in South Kordofan

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction in South Kordofan led by Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu) has suspended negotiations with Sudan’s transitional government on Wednesday accusing government forces of violating the agreed ceasefire. A statement issued by Ammar Daldoum, head of the movement’s delegation to the negotiations in Juba – that were scheduled to resume today – said that yesterday, elements of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) government militia driving Land Cruisers reportedly ambushed civilians on the road which connects the western and eastern regions, near Khor Waral in Habila locality, which is part of the “liberated areas.” The RSF detained 16 people. They released three of them later, but still hold 13 people including their goods and belongings. The movement says it will only return to negotiations after an immediate cessation of hostilities, the immediate release of the detained civilians, and the immediate handover of the area to the SPLM-N El Hilu. … Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council (TSC), Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, on Wednesday issued a constitutional decree declaring a cease-fire throughout the country. Radio Dabanga

AU Faces Backlash after Terminating Ambassador’s Appointment
The African Union is facing a backlash after terminating the appointment of Arikana Chihombori-Quao, its ambassador to the United States. In a letter addressed to Chihombori-Quao on October 7, AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said the diplomat was relieved of her position in line with the commission’s rules. Chihombori-Quao, a US-trained doctor, took up the position in 2017 and had strong views on France’s occupation and hold over its former African colonies, which she shared publicly. … But the African Diaspora Congress, in an online petition demanding her reinstatement, said the diplomat was fired because of “influence and pressure exerted on African leaders and people by the former colonial powers of Europe.” … The spokeswoman for the AU chairman’s office, Ebba Kalondo, told CNN that Chihombori-Quao has come to the end of her political appointment after spending three years in the position, and to imply she was being punished for her views is not true. CNN

Africans Fail to Get UN Support for AU-UN Envoy for Libya

African members of the Security Council tried unsuccessfully Wednesday to appoint a joint African Union-United Nations envoy for conflict-torn Libya, in an apparent attempt to replace current U.N. envoy Ghassan Salame. South Africa, Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea were following up on decisions by the AU High Level Committee on Libya on July 8 and the AU Peace and Security Council on Sept. 27 in New York calling for a joint envoy. Diplomats said the Africans raised the issue during closed consultations Wednesday, but there was no support in the 15-member council, with several members saying it wasn’t the time to “change horses in midstream.” … The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the council discussions were private, said many Security Council members said they need to focus on implementing Salame’s plan and the Berlin conference. According to the diplomats, members said the Security Council should work closely with the AU, and they would think about the joint envoy in the future. AP

Morocco’s King Pardons Journalist Sentenced on Abortion Charge

Morocco’s king pardoned Hajar Raissouni, a journalist for an independent newspaper who was sentenced to a year in prison for an abortion that she denied having, the country’s ministry of justice said on Wednesday. The ministry characterized the pardon as an act of “compassion and mercy,” saying that King Mohammed VI wanted to “preserve the future of the two fiancés who planned to found a family in accordance with religious precepts and the law.” But human rights advocates said that Ms. Raissouni’s conviction was unjust and politically motivated, and that it exemplified the state’s persecution of independent journalists. The king also pardoned her fiancé, two doctors and an office assistant. The case sparked weeks of outrage in the North African kingdom, with many speaking out in defense of press freedoms and others asking for reforms to the penal code. The New York Times

Mozambique: Vote Counting Marred by Allegations of Rigging by Renamo Leader

Mozambicans voted on October 15 in an election which the incumbent President Filipe Nyusi said should help anchor peace, but his main rival, Renamo leader Ossufo Momade has already made allegations of vote rigging, Verdade reports. According to the report, voting had to be stopped in Nampula province due to verbal confrontations between the polling agents and delegates of the main opposition Renamo party, who were claiming evidence of fraud. “If these results are manipulated we will never accept them, we do not want a return to the problems of the past,” Momade told the media after casting his vote. Momade is reported to have shown journalists evidence of attempted fraud and declared that his party “would do whatever the people want them to,” without elaborating on the warning. … Acceptance of the results of the polls is seen as a key test of a peace deal signed in August between the ruling Frelimo party and its old civil-war-foe-turned-political-rival, Renamo. All Africa

Ex-Mozambique Finance Minister Fights Extradition to US

Former Mozambican finance minister Manuel Chang is challenging attempts to extradite him to the United States for a corruption trial related to a $2 billion debt scandal that rocked his country’s economy. At his extradition hearing Wednesday in neighboring South Africa, Mozambique’s government argued that he should be returned home instead. Chang was arrested in South Africa last year on the request of the U.S. government, as the scandal affected some U.S. investors. Chang was finance minister from 2005 to 2015. South Africa’s justice minister decided to review his predecessor’s decision to have Chang extradited to Mozambique instead. Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has asserted that Mozambique has not shown seriousness in prosecuting him. In the scandal, companies set up by Mozambique’s secret services and the defense ministry borrowed $2 billion in secret, with Chang’s help, to set up maritime projects that never materialized but allegedly enriched a range of local and foreign players. AP

‘Killing without Any Reason’: Deaths in Rural Ethiopia Spark Outcry

For decades, herders in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley have relied on guns to fend off rivals as well as hyenas and lions roaming the forests and plains. But over the past month, security forces have embarked on a campaign of forced disarmament that pastoralist leaders say has been accompanied by shooting of civilians, mass detentions and beatings. Witness accounts from the Lower Omo Valley bolster critics who contend that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed-named the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize-is presiding over a deteriorating security situation, worsened by the actions of the military and police. The violence is unfolding ahead of elections next year in one of the country’s most volatile and ethnically diverse areas: the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region. Elders from the Bodi community, the main group earmarked for disarmament in the Lower Omo Valley, told AFP nearly 40 people had been killed as of mid-October but the toll could be far higher. … A senior police official in Jinka, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss disarmament, disputed claims that Bodi people had been killed. AFP

Hundreds of Ethiopians Return Home from Saudi Arabia Jails

About 400 Ethiopian migrants serving prison sentences in Saudi Arabia returned home on Wednesday, state-linked Fana Broadcasting Corporate reports. The returnees were welcomed at Bole International Airport, in the capital Addis Ababa, by an official from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Fana did not mention the crimes the returnees had committed, it is also unclear if they will continue serving their jail terms in local prisons or be set free. According to the foreign affairs ministry, 32,890 Ethiopian migrants jailed in different countries have been returned in the past three months alone. … Thousands of Ethiopians migrate to the Gulf and southern Africa in search of economic opportunities, with many of them arrested for illegal entry to their destinations. The Ethiopian government has also been struggling with resettling millions of internally-displaced people following ethnic conflicts. BBC

Is Al-Shabab Looking to Ethiopia?

Ethiopia, backed by the United States, invaded Somalia in December 2006, capturing the capital Mogadishu and helping the Somali interim government drive out the loose-knit Union of Islamic Courts, which controlled the capital and much of southern Somalia. Ethiopia also decided in 2013 to send troops to Somalia to join AMISON. In retaliation for this move, al-Shabab renewed its call for ‘jihad’ against Ethiopia. Despite this, Ethiopia has been targeted far less than Kenya and has so far managed to evade large-scale attacks. … In September this year, however, Ethiopian security officials announced the arrest of a number of alleged al-Shabab suspects. The suspects aimed to attack “hotels, religious festivities, gathering places and public areas” in the capital Addis Ababa, Ormomia and Ethiopia’s Somali region, according to a statement by the country’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) read out on state television. DW

Why Kenya’s Daadab Refugee Camp May Not Be Closed Soon

Kenya may be forced to delay closure of Dadaab Refugee Camp to avoid creating a situation of stateless people. Nairobi’s delegation attending this year’s inter-governmental meeting on refugees and statelessness, in Geneva, Switzerland, last week admitted there were still people in Dadaab who may not return to their countries because they are Kenyans or qualify to be such. For a long time the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab which used to have five sub-camps, has gradually been reduced as the population leaves in what officials say is mostly through voluntary repatriation. … And the earlier announcement by the Refugee Affairs Secretariat was that the camp could be shut down as early as 2020. Yet in Geneva, at the 70th Session of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme (excom), Nairobi did admit the possibility of urgent closure creating a new problem. … Kenya hosts an overall refugee population of 479, 194 scattered in Dadaab, Kakuma and Nairobi. The East African

Psychological Care Lacking in Cameroon’s Separatist Conflict

Cameroon’s three-year separatist conflict has left close to 3,000 people dead and growing numbers in need of psychological care. An influx of people impacted by the conflict are flooding into trauma centers across the English-speaking regions of the central African state. Medical officials say they are running short of supplies and trauma workers are struggling to provide care. A middle-aged woman cries for help at the Integrated Mental Health Care Center in Babungo, a village in Cameroon’s English-speaking Northwest. She tells a reporter her husband was shot dead in a crossfire between the military and separatist fighters in September. Then on Saturday, her only son’s body was found in an abandoned school building in the town of Mbengwi. In the same trauma center, 19-year-old Yvonne Ikah says that last month three armed men in the English-speaking town of Bamenda stopped her on the way to school and raped her. VOA

Gulf of Guinea Still a Piracy High Risk Area

The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report for 2019’s third quarter shows fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships than the first nine months of 2018, but Africa’s Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area. A hundred and nineteen incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired on, 10 attempted attacks and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage in the first nine months declined to 49 this year from 112 in 2018. The overall number of incidents has dropped but incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. Statistics confirm IMB concerns on continued threats to seafarers’ safety and security. defenceWeb

South Africa’s Rand Rattled by Major Power Cuts

The rand fell on Wednesday as electricity outages in South Africa by state utility Eskom highlighted the challenges facing the country’s ailing economy. At 15:05 GMT, the rand was 0.47 percent weaker at 14.96 per United States dollar, after earlier hitting a one-week low of 15.055. … The power cuts on Wednesday highlight the challenges facing President Cyril Ramaphosa in rescuing the state power firm. … The firm produces more than 90 percent of South Africa’s electricity, but has been hobbled by technical faults at its fleet of mainly coal-fired power stations. Johannesburg residents, who have grown accustomed to frequent power outages over the past decade, expressed renewed frustration about the impact of the power cuts on their lives. “It’s almost year-end, and this is when we make money,” said Bridgette Moyo, 29, a hairstylist. “We make money out of this business through electricity. If it’s not there, then we are going down.” Al Jazeera

Young Africans Face Poor Job Prospects as Education Deteriorates: [Mo Ibrahim 2019 African Governance] Report

The quality of education and training provided by African countries has deteriorated since 2014, leaving many of the continent’s growing population of young people ill-prepared to enter the job market, an influential report said on Tuesday. The African Governance Report 2019, which uses data from the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), the most comprehensive survey of its kind on the continent, found that enrolment and access to education was particularly low in the tertiary sector. “This has resulted in the burgeoning youth population being faced with increasing struggles when entering the job market,” researchers at the Mo Ibrahim Foundation wrote ahead of a full report due to be published next year. Under 15s now made up the majority age group in Africa, the authors added. The index rates 54 African nations on criteria such as security, human rights, economic stability, just laws, free elections, corruption, infrastructure, poverty, health and education. … The report noted more progress in health and nutrition, saying countries were making strong strides in combating communicable diseases and child and maternal mortality rates. Reuters

Liberia Ranked Number One for Helping Strangers

Liberia has been named number one in the world when it comes to helping strangers, according to the World Giving Index, an annual ranking of people’s generosity. Helping strangers is one of the three criteria the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation used to draw up the overall index of generosity. It also looked at how much money people donate to charity and how much time people give to volunteering. The index was based on a 10-year study that surveyed 1.3 million people across the globe. In the overall rankings, Kenya was listed as the most generous country in Africa and the 11th most generous in the world. Liberia was listed as 17th, Sierra Leone 20th and Nigeria 22nd. But it is in helping strangers that Africa excelled. Including Liberia, there were seven African countries in the top 10 in that category: Sierra Leone (second), Kenya (fourth), Zambia (fifth), Uganda (sixth), Nigeria (seventh) and Malawi (joint 10th). BBC



Photo: Adam Jones