Africa Media Review for October 20, 2020

Armed Fighters Free 900 Prisoners from DR Congo Jail
Armed fighters freed about 900 prisoners from a jail in Beni in east Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in a coordinated attack that took place in the early hours of Tuesday. Only 100 out of more than 1,000 inmates remained following the simultaneous assault on the Kangbayi central prison and on the military camp that provides security to it, said Modeste Bakwanamaha, the town’s mayor, blaming a rebel group operating in the area for the attack. “Unfortunately, the attackers, who came in large numbers, managed to break the door with electrical equipment,” Bakwanamaha told the Reuters news agency by phone. Two inmates were shot dead during the raid … No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Bakwanamaha said: “We believe that it was the ADF who did this.” The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan armed group active in east DRC since the 1990s, has killed more than 1,000 civilians since the start of 2019. Al Jazeera

Guinea’s Opposition Leader Claims Election Victory
Guinea’s opposition candidate Cellou Dalein Diallo declared himself the winner of the West African country’s presidential election Monday before the official results have been announced, setting up a tense showdown with the incumbent leader of a decade. The party of President Alpha Conde, who is seeking a controversial third term, swiftly condemned Diallo’s declaration as “irresponsible and dangerous.” … Monday’s development marked a dramatic escalation in an already tense electoral season. Conde’s decision to seek another term by having the constitution modified already had led to protests that left more than 50 people dead this year. Diallo said his declaration was based on information gathered at polling stations by his party, the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea. He did not give any figures to back up his claim. … Observers fear the political standoff between Conde and Diallo could reignite long-standing ethnic tensions between Guinea’s two largest ethnic groups. AP

US to Remove Sudan from Terror List
U.S. President Donald Trump says the United States will remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism after the country follows through on an agreement to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to U.S. terror victims and families. … The move would allow Sudan to once again receive international loans and aid that are needed to boost the country’s economy. … Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok thanked Trump in a tweet Monday, saying the terrorism-sponsor designation has seriously harmed Sudan. He added that the Sudanese people have never supported terrorism, and that the U.S. move is a strong support for the country’s transition to democracy. The $335 million that Sudan has agreed to pay to Americans is for victims of al-Qaida attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and for the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 in a Yemeni port. U.S. courts have found that Sudan was complicit in those attacks. VOA

At Least 20 Killed in Attacks at Mozambique Province: NGO
At least 20 people were killed in fresh attacks in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, an NGO said Sunday in a report. … According to the Development and Democracy Centre (CDD), villages in Macomia district were hit by terrorist attacks over the last few weeks, with at least 20 people assassinated, dozens of houses burned down and products stolen.” Humanitarian assistance does not reach the province and hunger and diseases such as diarrhoea have also killed 10 people in Matemo Island. “Between September 30 and October 8, a group of terrorists occupied Mucojo administrative post and from this point they made incursions to Naunde, Darumba, Manica, Rueia, Goludo, Pangane, Nambo, Messano, Runho, Muituiro Villages and Mais Island,” CDD says in the report. Daily Nation

In Ethiopia, a Heated Political Tug-of-War Sparks Security Fears
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has been locked in a bitter dispute with the political party that used to dominate the country’s politics for decades, raising questions about his ability to hold Ethiopia together through a fraught political transition. On October 7, legislators at Ethiopia’s upper house of Parliament – known as the House of Federation (HoF) – voted to withhold budgetary subsidies to the Tigray regional state in the country’s north. The move by the HoF, which is dominated by allies of Abiy, came two days after Tigray’s regional leaders – and Abiy’s political rivals – decided to recall their representatives at the federal level. Tensions were already running high since September when the Tigray region held an election in defiance of a decision by central authorities earlier this year to postpone all parliamentary and regional elections scheduled for August due to the coronavirus pandemic. Al Jazeera

DR Congo: Wanted Strongman’s Crimes Supported by Army, Says HRW
Forces loyal to a wanted Congolese rebel leader are continuing to commit killings, rapes, extortion and forced recruitment of children with support from the country’s army, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a new report. Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) issued an arrest warrant for Guidon Shimiray Mwissa in June 2019 for participating in an insurrection, recruiting child soldiers and committing the crime against humanity of rape in the country’s eastern region. Guidon, 40, is an ethnic Nyanga and former government soldier from Walikale territory who defected in 2007 to become a rebel fighter. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC) under Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka. In 2014, Guidon broke away from Sheka and established the NDC-R. … NDC-R controlled a larger area than any other armed group in DRC until the group split three months ago. Al Jazeera

UN: Central African Republic on Way to Successful Elections
The U.N. envoy for Central African Republic said Monday the country “is very definitely on its way to holding successful elections” in late December but the political situation is still tense. Mankeur Ndiaye told the U.N. Security Council that some regions remain “fragile,” and several candidates have raised doubts about last year’s peace agreement between the government and 14 armed groups. Ndiaye said the Dec. 27 presidential and legislative elections are taking place at “a crucial moment,” saying Central Africans have “a unique opportunity to leverage what has been achieved democratically and pursue stabilization of the country.” … But Ndiaye said “noteworthy progress has been achieved, particularly in terms of political reform, restoring state authority and transitional justice.” An electoral code was adopted and on Oct. 14 the national electoral authority released a computerized roster of 1.86 million people who can vote, 46% of them women, he said. AP

Cameroon Chiefs Create Militias for Protection from Separatists
Traditional village chiefs in Cameroon’s restive western regions are for the first time creating armed militias for protection against separatists. Cameroon’s government has been asking traditional rulers who fled the separatist conflict to return to their palaces and take part in December’s regional elections. But a majority of the chiefs has been reluctant to return due to threats from the rebels. … Donatus Kewa, who said he is a spokesperson for separatist fighters in the North West region, says the chiefs act as informants for the military. He said the village chiefs and their notables who escaped from the English-speaking regions to the French-speaking zones, especially Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde, will be killed if they return. VOA

Dialogue Possible with Certain Sahel Jihadists: UN Chief
Dialogue may be possible with certain jihadist groups active in Africa’s Sahel region, but not “radical” ones such as the Islamic State (IS) group, UN chief Antonio Guterres said Monday. “There will be groups with which we can talk, and which will have an interest in engaging in this dialogue to become political actors in the future,” Guterres said in an interview with French daily Le Monde. “But there are still those whose terrorist radicalism is such that there will be nothing to be done with them,” he added, citing IS. … Last week, African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui urged dialogue with extremists in the conflict-ridden region. The Defense Post with AFP

Burkina Faso ‘One Step Short of Famine,’ Warns Un Food Relief Agency
Unless access is urgently granted to humanitarian organizations, thousands in the Central Sahel will be “pushed into further destitution,” the UN emergency food relief agency warned on Monday. Ahead of Tuesday’s High-Level Ministerial Conference on the Central Sahel in the Danish capital Copenhagen, the World Food Programme (WFP) sounded the alarm that catastrophic levels of hunger could hit parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Violence and insecurity have pushed 7.4 million people in the Central Sahel region of West Africa into acute hunger, according to WFP. … “When we can’t get to vulnerable communities, we’re seeing tragic spikes in food insecurity,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP Regional Director for West Africa. UN News

Swelled by Rain and COVID Curbs, Locust Swarms Ravage Ethiopia
Widow-of-ten Marima Wadisha screamed, threw rocks and in her desperation even fired bullets at the locusts that descended on her sorghum fields in northeast Ethiopia. But the insect swarms were so relentless that her entire crop – her family’s only source of income – was destroyed. “They never left for a week. We are left with an empty harvest, we tie our waist and cry day and night. How can (I) feed … my children like this,” she said, surrounded by five of them as she held a bundle of damaged sorghum. The locust invasion is Ethiopia’s worst in 25 years, United Nations food agency FAO says. Reuters

EU Concerned over Threats Facing Aid Workers in S. Sudan
The European Union (EU) delegation, in South Sudan have jointly expressed deep concerns regarding recurrent reports of high numbers of incidents in the world’s youngest nation, where national and international humanitarian aid workers are either hindered, threatened, injured or in some cases even killed. The joint statement issued Tuesday came from heads of mission from France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Canada, United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland said. “We strongly condemn the October 5 attack on a clearly identified WFP humanitarian aid convoy carrying much-needed food assistance for South Sudanese people affected by severe food insecurity and flooding,” partly reads the statement. Sudan Tribune

US Looks to Increase Cooperation with African Navies
Both the United States Navy and US Coast Guard are looking for increased opportunities to partner with African countries, including South Africa. Speaking to journalists via conference call earlier this month, Admiral Karl Schultz (Commandant of the US Coast Guard) and Admiral Robert Burke (Commander of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa and Allied Joint Force Command Naples) discussed American partnerships with African nations to strengthen partner capacity, uphold the rules-based order and facilitate the free flow of commerce. US Naval Forces Africa, a component of US Naval Forces Europe-Africa headquartered in Naples, Italy, assists African partner nations to increase their maritime safety and security through the African Maritime Law Enforcement Partnership programme, established more than 10 years ago. Operating alongside African nations, the US Coast Guard assists partner states to uphold and assert their own sovereignty through engagement, partnership and presence. DefenceWeb

No It’s Not a TV Movie: Death, Renewed Determination, a $1 Million Prize
Sometimes, you must go home again, no matter the risks. That’s the philosophy of the winners of the 2020 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, which comes with a $1 million grant. The recipients are Fartuun Adan and her daughter, Ilwad Elman. Their home is Somalia. After their husband and father, the Somali peace activist Elman Ali Ahmed, was assassinated in 1996 in Mogadishu, Fartuun and her three daughters left the country and found safe haven in Canada from the African nation’s brutal civil war. What called them back was the desire – and sense of responsibility — to fulfill Elman Ali Ahmed’s humanitarian legacy. … Together, they took up the mantle of the Elman Peace and Human Rights Center that Fartuun and her husband had founded in 1990. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones