Africa Media Review for October 19, 2020

Guinea Votes to See If President Can Extend Decade in Power
Guinean President Alpha Conde sought extend his decade in power in Sunday’s election held after the country’s constitution was changed earlier this year to allow the 82-year-old leader to run for another term. This is the third time that Conde has faced opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo who warned the president was trying to rig the vote to stay in office in this mineral-rich West African nation of 12.8 million people. “The strategy being employed by the other side is how to cheat,” Diallo, 68, said after casting his ballot. “Because Mr. Alpha Conde does not want to give up his desire to grant himself a presidency for life.” Conde is not the only West African leader testing the boundaries of term limits: Later this month Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara also is seeking re-election after modifying his country’s constitution so his first two terms no longer count toward the limit. AP

Ethnic Clashes in Ivory Coast Opposition Stronghold Ahead of Poll
The home of an opposition presidential candidate has been burned down during clashes in Ivory Coast on Saturday, two weeks before the country’s high-stakes presidential election. Violence began on Friday in Bongouanou, the stronghold of opposition candidate and former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, as residents from different ethnic groups fighting with machetes while houses and shops were set on fire. Residents told AFP news agency that people from the local Agni ethnic group were fighting Dioula people from northern Ivory Coast, who back current President Alassane Ouattara. At least two people were killed, according to a report citing witnesses. A trader from the Agni ethnic group considered pro-opposition was shot and hacked to death, a family member told AFP. At least one person from a group considered pro-government was also killed in the area, according to several witnesses and a hospital source. Al Jazeera

Sudan: Darfur Lawyers: ICC Visit ‘Historic’
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, arrived in Sudan late on Saturday evening. The Darfur Bar Association welcomed the visit and described it as historic for Sudan, and for the families of victims. During the visit, the first since the UN Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the court in March 2005, the ICC delegation will hold meetings with the prime minister, the ministers of Justice and Foreign Affairs, the Attorney General, and members of the Sovereign Council. The meetings will discuss ways to cooperate between the ICC and Sudan regarding the extradition of ousted President Omar Al Bashir, his close aide Abdelrahim Hussein, and former senior official Ahmed Haroun, all of whom are currently imprisoned in Kober Prison in Khartoum North. … The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) welcomed the ICC delegation in a statement yesterday, saying that Bensouda’s visit affirms Sudan’s conviction to carry out its international obligations. Radio Dabanga

Sudan Approves Constitutional Amendments to Include Peace Agreement
A joint meeting of the Sovereign Council and the cabinet approved on Sunday the harmonization of the peace agreement with the Constitutional Document, paving the way for the implementation of the peace agreement. However, the move was rejected by the Sudanese Communist Party, alluding to resort to the constitutional court to annul this endorsement. In line with the Juba peace agreement, the parties should harmonize the text of the transitional constitution with the peace deal which extends the term of the transition and allocates to the armed groups some seats in the collegial head of state. In a statement released on Sunday evening, the transitional authority announced the adoption of the harmonized text of the constitutional document. The joint meeting, also, rose the seats of the Sovereign Council to 14 by adding three allocated to the armed groups’ signatory of the peace agreement. Sudan Tribune

UN Hosts Libyan Military Leaders in Hopes of End to Conflict
Military leaders from Libya’s warring sides are meeting in Geneva in hopes of a U.N.-brokered breakthrough that could pave the way for a “complete and permanent cease-fire” in the conflict-ridden North African country. The meeting opening Monday marks the fourth round of talks involving the Joint Military Commission under the watch of the head of the United Nations support mission for Libya, former U.S. State Department official Stephanie Williams. U.N. organizers say the round is expected to run through Saturday, and Williams’ mission “hopes that the two delegations will reach a solution to all outstanding issues in order to achieve a complete and permanent cease-fire across Libya.” The meetings make up the security aspect of three-track talks, also involving political and economic tracks, that are aimed to lift Libya out of its grueling conflict that has ground on nearly ever since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. AP

UN Hopes Meeting Will Raise $1 Billion for Key Sahel Nations
The U.N. humanitarian chief is hoping a major ministerial meeting Tuesday will not only raise $1 billion for the three countries at the epicenter of a humanitarian crisis in Africa’s Sahel region but also spur leaders to address the underlying causes, including increasing conflict and insecurity, weak governance and a lack of development. Undersecretary-General Mark Lowcock said in an interview with The Associated Press that the troubling situation in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger is a symptom “of failure to deal with all of those causes of problems” as well as rapid population growth and climate change. … The virtual ministerial meeting Tuesday — hosted by Denmark, Germany, the European Union and the United Nations — is aimed at spotlighting one of the world’s fastest growing humanitarian crises, so as to increase aid funding and put a stronger focus on solutions, Lowcock said. AP

Nigerian Police Pledge ICRC Training as Thousands Protest Nationwide
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will help train Nigeria’s new tactical force as thousands nationwide continued to march against police brutality and in demand of further reforms, Nigeria’s police inspector general said in a statement on Sunday. Protests began roughly two weeks ago demanding the dissolution of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which was accused by Nigerians and groups such as Amnesty International of extortion, brutality and torture. … The new unit, the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, was created to “fill the gaps” left when police disbanded SARS on Oct. 11. SWAT training will begin on Monday in partnership with the ICRC and “other development partners”, Mohammed Adamu, inspector general of police, said in a statement. Former SARS officers are not eligible to join SWAT, the statement said. Reuters

Jihadists Kill 14 Soldiers in Attack on Nigerian Army Base
Two sources told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity that fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) group had attacked the base in Jakana on Friday evening, firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. “We lost 14 soldiers in the fight, including the commanding officer and another officer,” one source said. Several other soldiers were missing and presumed to have either escaped or been captured by the militants, said the second source who gave the same toll. The sources asked not to be identified as they were not authorised to speak. The insurgents seized four trucks fitted with machine guns in the raid, the sources said. Jakana, 25km (15 miles) from regional capital Maiduguri in north-east Nigeria, lies on a known crossing route for ISWAP fighters moving between their camps in the Benisheikh forest area of Borno and their hideouts in the Buni Yadi area of Yobe. The Guardian

Cameroon Closes Schools as Boko Haram Suicide Bombings Increase
Cameroon says it has again closed more than 60 schools on its northern border with Nigeria to save children and teaching staff from increasing Boko Haram attacks. The central African state has deployed its military to teach displaced children in locations they say are safe. Boko Haram is increasingly using suicide bombers, as the military has drastically reduced the terrorist group’s firepower. … Cameroon’s military has been reporting at least three Boko Haram attacks every week since January. The military says most of the attackers are suicide bombers, mainly women and children. The military says the terrorist group has torched 13 schools within the past two months, held at least 200 people for ransom and abducted an unknown number of civilians. VOA

Killing of White Farmer Becomes a Flash Point in South Africa
A young white farm manager was found earlier this month strangled and tied to a pole on a farm in the eastern part of the Free State province, police said. Two Black men were accused of the murder. At a packed court hearing on Friday, the police captain investigating the case said that the suspects were part of a ring of livestock thieves operating in the area, and that it appeared that the motive was robbery rather than racial animus. But the killing of the farm manager, Brendin Horner, has become the latest flash point for racial conflict in South Africa, where the segregationist apartheid regime fell almost 30 years ago. Tension is particularly high in rural farming areas where white people still own a vast majority of the farms and Black people still serve as their often impoverished laborers. Groups representing white farmers accuse the South African government of deliberately failing to protect them. The New York Times

Women Who Defy Mnangagwa Are Jailed, Raped, Tortured
Chikurubi is Zimbabwe’s most notorious prison. Its reputation is well-founded, said Sitabile Dewa. She would know; she spent several weeks there after being arrested in May last year on charges of attempting to overthrow the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Dewa, a gender justice activist, said more than 20 people are squeezed into a cell and share one toilet that does not flush. There’s no running water. The diet is poor and the prison clinic has no medicine, not even for mild ailments. There is no pre- and post-natal care for pregnant women or nursing mothers and their babies. “The place is not fit for human habitation,” she said. More than a year after Dewa was charged, the state dropped the case against her in August this year, citing a lack of evidence. But her ordeal did not end there. Ever since her arrest, she has been followed and unknown vehicles park outside her house. Her experience is not unique. Mail & Guardian

Ethiopia Human Rights Boss Raises Profile Amid ‘Crisis’
The last time Ethiopia held competitive elections, in 2005, lawyer Daniel Bekele was arrested during protests denouncing fraud and ended up serving more than two years in prison. This time around, as the country prepares for landmark polls next year, Daniel is in a very different position: as head of the national human rights body tasked with ensuring Ethiopia curbs the same authoritarian tactics that once landed him behind bars. With that goal in mind, Daniel’s Ethiopian Human Rights Commission is taking on a bigger public profile, denouncing recent abuses including the use of lethal force by soldiers and police against unarmed demonstrators. But its statements have drawn rebukes from lawmakers and officials in Ethiopia’s restive Oromia region, highlighting challenges facing Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s stated goal of empowering institutions. AFP

Vaccine Storage Issues Could Leave 3B People without Access
The chain breaks here, in a tiny medical clinic in Burkina Faso that went nearly a year without a working refrigerator. From factory to syringe, the world’s most promising coronavirus vaccine candidates need non-stop sterile refrigeration to stay potent and safe. But despite enormous strides in equipping developing countries to maintain the vaccine “cold chain,” nearly 3 billion of the world’s 7.8 billion people live where temperature-controlled storage is insufficient for an immunization campaign to bring COVID-19 under control. The result: Poor people around the world who were among the hardest hit by the virus pandemic are also likely to be the last to recover from it. … The medical clinic outside Burkina Faso’s capital, a dirt-streaked building that serves a population of 11,000, is a microcosm of the obstacles. AP

Man Can Drop Part of Name Denoting Slave Ancestry, Tunisian Court Rules
A court in Tunisia has allowed an 81-year-old man to remove a word from his name that marked him out as descended from slaves, in the country’s first ruling of its kind, his lawyer has said. Tunisia abolished slavery in 1846, but critics say it has not done enough to address racism against black Tunisians, who make up 10-15% of the population and are mostly descended from slaves. Campaigners said the case brought by Hamden Dali would open the door for others who wanted to drop the word “atig,” or “liberated by,” which originally denoted a freed slave and forms part of the names of many Tunisian families. Dali’s lawyer, Hanen Ben Hassena, said the association with slavery was an assault on human dignity and the man’s adult children had faced discrimination because of the family name, which had made it harder to get jobs. The Guardian

End Sars: How Nigeria’s Anti-police Brutality Protests Went Global
Nigerians have been protesting for years against police brutality, so why did this October’s protests gain international attention and support at a scale never seen before? Over the last two weeks, an outpouring of support for Nigerian protesters has played out on Twitter, with various hashtags, but predominantly #EndSARS. Sars stands for the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. Accusations of Sars officers robbing, attacking and even killing people go back years but a new wave of protest started at the beginning of October. Nigerian technology news site Tech Cabal tracks this wave down to 3 October. A tweet by someone with just 800 followers received more than 10,000 retweets. The Tweeter, who calls himself Chinyelugo, told the BBC that he normally keeps a low profile on Twitter but that he personally had been harassed by the police previously so when a friend told him about what appeared to be another attack by police he felt the need to tweet it. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones