Africa Media Review for October 19, 2022

Ethiopian Soldiers Take Strategic City in Tigray amid Civilian Exodus
Government soldiers seized control of a key city in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray on Monday after days of airstrikes and an artillery barrage, according to a diplomat who spoke to witnesses, accelerating an exodus of civilians amid some of the most intense fighting since a five-month cease-fire was shattered in August…The renewed hostilities, pitting Tigrayan forces against the Ethiopian military and its Eritrean allies, have triggered fresh anxieties among diplomats that Africa’s second-most-populous nation will remain mired in a long, devastating war that will further destabilize the already volatile Horn of Africa region. Washington Post

Kenya Disbands ‘Killer’ Police Unit
The Special Service Unit (SSU), which was created more than two decades ago, has been in the spotlight as cases of disappearances and murders in the East African country soared in recent years. “We have disbanded the unit that was killing Kenyans arbitrarily,” Ruto said on Sunday. “Security deteriorated and the police changed to killing Kenyans instead of protecting them,” he added, referring to the tenure of the previous administration in which he was deputy president. AFP

DR Congo Leader Rules Out Deploying Russian Mercenaries to Quell Rebels 
The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has ruled out bringing in Russian “mercenaries” to help quell a raging conflict in the east of the country and vowed to press on with economic development plans despite the insecurity in the region. “I know it’s fashionable now . . . [but] no, we don’t need to” use mercenaries, Félix Tshisekedi, president of the mineral-rich central African nation, told the Financial Times during the FT Africa Summit in London on Tuesday. “I don’t even know where to find them,” he joked, referring to the Russian private security company Wagner Group, which has provided mercenaries to fight in countries from Mali and Central African Republic (CAR) to Ukraine. Financial Times

Russian Role in Burkina Faso Crisis Comes Under Scrutiny
Within hours of Burkina Faso’s second coup this year, the head of Russia’s shadowy mercenary outfit Wagner Group was among the first to congratulate the new junta leader in West Africa. In a message posted on Telegram, Yevgeny Prigozhin praised the mutinous soldiers for doing what “was necessary.” That same day, pro-Kremlin political analyst Sergei Markov, posted that the Russian people had helped Capt. Ibrahim Traore, the new coup leader. And he predicted that Burkina Faso’s new leadership would turn to Russia for help instead of former colonizer France. As Traore now solidifies his grip on power in Burkina Faso, questions are already swirling about his relationship with Russia and how much it played a hand in catapulting him and his allies to power. AP

Fourth UN Peacekeeper Dies After Mali Roadside Bomb Attack
A fourth United Nations soldier has died from injuries from a highway bomb in northern Mali, a day after the blast claimed the lives of three of his comrades, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission said Tuesday. Their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device (IED) during a search for mines in Tessalit, in the deeply troubled Kidal region…UN chief Antonio Guterres, in a statement issued in New York, strongly condemned the blast and warned that attacks on peacekeepers could constitute war crimes under international law. France 24

Nigerian Floods Kill More than 600, Slows Shipments of Essentials
The death toll from heavy flooding in Nigeria has now surpassed 600, with more than 1 million people displaced from their homes. The flooding has covered farms and roads and slowed shipments of food and fuel. Authorities are struggling to free up the gridlock, as a jump in prices is already making life more expensive for Nigerians. At Dantata Bridge in coastal Kogi State, tons of food and fuel stretch for many kilometers, far from their destinations, as the impact of Nigeria’s worst flooding in 10 years unfolds. The bridge is a link line that allows the crisscross of essentials between northern and southern Nigeria, including Abuja, the capital. Voice of America

Unity ‘The Only Way Forward’ Says Chad PM as Anti-Junta Anger Rises
Chad’s new prime minister has said that uniting the population “is the only way forward” for the chronically unstable African country after its president, Mahamat Idriss Déby, appointed him to head an interim national unity administration. Saleh Kebzabo, 75, a former opposition figure and journalist, has been tasked with leading the country towards the first free and fair elections in its political history. Several former rebels were appointed to ministerial posts in the government, which was formed last Friday, and will lead Chad until its next elections in two years. Guardian

Tunisia: Pressure Piles On Authorities to Find Shipwreck Victims
Thousands of people demonstrated Tuesday in Zarzis, a city in southeastern Tunisia paralyzed by a general strike to demand an intensified search for the bodies of Tunisian migrants who disappeared at sea a month ago, according to an AFP correspondent. The civil servants and shopkeepers of this coastal city of about 75,000 inhabitants observed a general strike at the call of a local trade union demanding an investigation into the shipwreck and the procedures for the search and burial of the remains found. AfricaNews with AFP

Sudan’s Internal Conflicts Affecting Mediation: Official
The current political situation is affecting mediation process with the non-signatories to the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement, a senior South Sudanese official disclosed on Monday. Security Affairs advisor, Tut Gatluak Manime said mediation has stopped because the political situation has taken attention of Sudanese leaders away from the process. “Consultations are continuing with the non-signatories. We have held several meetings with them to solicit their views on the peace process and they are ready to negotiate but the current political situation in Sudan has taken the attention of the leadership in Sudan,” Manime told Sudan Tribune on Monday. Sudan Tribune

US Blacklists Alleged Funders of Somali Militants
The US has blacklisted several individuals in Somalia accused of giving the Islamist al-Shabab group financial and other material assistance. Washington says they are part of a network that has engaged in smuggling weapons from local and foreign sources. This comes a day after the Somali authorities warned businesses in the capital, Mogadishu, against paying taxes to the al-Qaeda affiliate. Al-Shabab frequently extort businesses in Mogadishu raising tens of millions of dollars for their militant activities in Somalia and neighbouring countries. BBC

East Africa Vigilant as Uganda Locks Down Ebola Epicenter
To stop the spread of the Ebola outbreak, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has ordered the lockdown of two districts in Central Region, the epicenter of his country’s latest Ebola outbreak. Museveni, who had initially ruled out a lockdown, said “extra measures” were needed to curb the spread of the deadly virus. Restrictions on traffic movement and people in and out of  Mubende and Kasanda districts came into effect on October 16 and will apply for 21 days. Nineteen deaths and 54 infections have been reported in under a month since the outbreak was reported. DW

Uganda Has the Most Promising Financial Sector in Eastern Africa
Kampala could soon dislodge Nairobi from its status as the financial capital of eastern Africa if Uganda continues with measures that have seen it rise to become the regions’ most developed financial sector. This is according to the sixth edition of the 2022 Absa Africa Financial Markets Index (pdf) released by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum(OMFIF), a London-based banking think tank and Absa Bank, one of Africa’s leading banks. Quartz Africa

Billionaire Mo Ibrahim Attacks ‘Hypocrisy’ over Africa’s Gas
One of Africa’s richest entrepreneurs, the telecoms billionaire Mo Ibrahim, has criticised developed countries for seeking to dissuade African nations from exploiting their vast reserves of gas. Ibrahim told the Guardian in an interview: “We need a balanced and a fair policy for everybody. Gas can be useful to our transition … [Those who say otherwise] are hypocrites.” Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones