Africa Media Review for October 21, 2020

Six Issues Shaping Côte d’Ivoire’s Presidential Election
Ten years after a civil conflict that led to 3,000 deaths, tensions are again rising in Côte d’Ivoire. Although it has made progress in reunifying the country over the past decade, the October 31 election has brought to the surface long-simmering differences of identity and vision for the country. Adding to the combustible atmosphere, President Alassane Ouattara is running for a controversial third term. Following are some of the underlying issues shaping this important juncture in Côte d’Ivoire’s history. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Nigerian Soldiers Fire at Protesters, at Least Two Hit: Witnesses
Soldiers opened fire on Nigerians protesting against police brutality in the Lekki district of the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday, and at least two people were shot, four witnesses told Reuters. Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated here nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders. The unit was disbanded on Oct. 11 but the protests have persisted with demonstrators calling for a raft of law enforcement reforms. “They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” said Alfred Ononugbo, 55, a security officer after the soldiers opened fire. “I saw the bullet hit one or two persons,” he said. The condition of those two people was not immediately known. Amnesty International has said at least 15 people had been killed since the protests began. Reuters

Donors Pledge $1.7 Billion for Burkina Faso, Mail and Niger
More than 20 donors pledged nearly $1 billion for the three countries at the epicenter of a humanitarian crisis in Africa’s Sahel region for this year and over $700 million for 2021 and beyond, the United Nations announced Tuesday. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the funds will help some 10 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger for the remainder of this year and through next year with nutrition, food, health services, water and sanitation, shelter, education, protection and support to survivors of gender-based violence. … The U.N. chief said this downward spiral “is a microcosm of cascading global risks converging in one region,” and needs to be reversed with a renewed push for peace and reconciliation. AP

U.N. Acting Libya Envoy ‘Optimistic’ on Talks
The United Nations’ acting Libya envoy said on Wednesday she was “quite optimistic” that ongoing talks between the warring sides would lead to a lasting ceasefire after they agreed in the negotiations to reopen land and air routes across front lines. Speaking at a news conference midway through week-long talks in Geneva this week, Stephanie Williams said the two sides had also agreed to maintain “the current state of calm on the front lines and avoid any military escalation.” … This week’s meeting between GNA and LNA military negotiators in Geneva will be followed by a political dialogue in Tunis from Nov. 9, Williams said, adding that foreign countries involved in the conflict “need to take their hands off Libya.” Reuters

Boko Haram Kills Six Chad Soldiers in Lake Chad Region: Army
Boko Haram fighters killed six Chadian soldiers in the Lake Chad region, where deadly jihadist attacks against civilians and security forces are on the rise, the army said Tuesday. Security experts say Boko Haram, which originated in Nigeria in 2009, has established bases on islets dotting Lake Chad, a vast swampy expanse in the border region straddled by Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon. The soldiers were killed while patrolling a group of islets on the Chad-Nigeria border, army spokesman General Azem Bermendoa Agouna told AFP. Twelve other soldiers were wounded and the military killed around 10 “terrorists,” he said. The Chadian army launched an offensive against Boko Haram in April after some 100 soldiers died in an attack by the group on one of its bases. The Defense Post with AFP

Guinea Opposition Reports 3 Deaths Amid Election Standoff
Guinea’s opposition party said at least three people had been killed overnight after presidential challenger Cellou Dalein Diallo declared victory before the country’s electoral commission announced official results. Diallo’s claim set up a tense showdown with incumbent President Alpha Conde, who has been in power a decade and angered the opposition when he sought constitutional changes earlier this year so that he could seek yet another term. Even before ballots were cast, international observers had raised concerns that an election dispute could reignite ethnic violence in the West African country. The opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea said early Tuesday that three youths, aged 13, 14, and 18, were killed Monday night when security forces suppressed the party’s celebrations. AP

Clashes over Presidential Vote at Ivory Coast University
Two people were hurt in Ivory Coast Tuesday in clashes involving opposition-aligned students from the powerful Fesci union, an AFP journalist said, as violence persists with two weeks to go before a contentious presidential election. Several students said around 50 people armed with clubs and machetes entered the Abidjan University campus in the morning, sparking brawls that spread into nearby streets and were later broken up by police, who deployed tear gas. … The violence at the University of Abidjan comes after a person was killed on Monday in Bonoua, 60 kilometres (40 miles) from Ivory Coast’s main city, while a total of around 20 have died in election-linked violence since August. Abidjan students had set several vehicles on fire and political unrest had broken out in several towns. Things were calmer on Tuesday, but some cars were set aflame in the working-class Yopougon district of Abidjan and demonstrators blocked several roads around the country. AFP

Sudan: ICC Prosecutor Says Held Talks with Sudan over Access
International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said Tuesday she discussed with Sudanese officials access for investigators to probe alleged atrocities in Darfur region under ousted president Omar al-Bashir. Bashir, who was toppled in April 2019, has been wanted by the ICC for nearly a decade on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in the western region of Darfur. “A memorandum of understanding on the modalities of cooperation, technical visits, and immediate access in Sudan by our investigators, amongst other action points, were discussed,” Bensouda said. … Bensouda is heading an ICC delegation that has been in Khartoum since Saturday on a mission to review options of holding Bashir and others accountable for the Darfur conflict, which left hundreds of thousands dead. … She said she was looking to launch an “investigation on the ground in Darfur as soon as possible.” AFP

Kenya: Kenyatta Urges Constitutional Reform to Resolve Poll Violence
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday pushed for constitutional changes to resolve the cycles of election violence in the country, a hot button issue that has divided the political class. Kenyatta’s plea came as ahead of a much-anticipated report on suggested reforms to be issued in the coming days, after two years of public consultations that have seen leaders traverse the nation drumming up support for the process. The Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) came about after Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga in 2018 stunned the nation by shaking hands and pledging to promote unity after a drawn-out 2017 election battle left more than 90 people dead. AFP

Ex-Burundi President Gets Prison Term for 1993 Killing of Victorious Election Opponent
Burundi’s top court has sentenced a former president to life in prison for the 1993 murder of another president who had defeated him in elections, an attack that triggered a 10-year civil war in which about 300,000 people were killed. In an Oct. 19 ruling that was seen by Reuters on Tuesday, the court sentenced Pierre Buyoya and 18 others for the death of Melchior Ndadaye, who had defeated Buyoya to become the central African country’s first freely elected president. Three of those sentenced were handed 20 years each in jail. Buyoya is at present the African Union’s High Representative for Mali and the Sahel. He could not immediately be reached for comment on the sentencing. Many of those convicted including Buyoya did not appear in court or enter a plea as they are abroad. Reuters

African Governments Encourage Surrender of Illegal Weapons
Cameroon says more than 120,000 illegal firearms are in the country, fueling a separatist conflict as well as the Boko Haram terrorist group. In Yaounde Monday, Cameroonian and African Union officials marked a delayed commemoration of Africa Amnesty Month, urging illegal holders of weapons to hand them over and be pardoned. Martin Anya, 29, a former separatist fighter, was hailed Monday as a success story as he went before African delegates with Africa Amnesty Month. While Africa Amnesty Month is September, this year’s event took place one month late because of the coronavirus pandemic. Anya says he has peace of mind and is confident he will land a profitable job since he surrendered his weapons in January. Anya says he was retrained at Cameroon’s Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Center in the town of Bamenda. VOA

What Makes India a Hotspot for Smuggled African Gold
It was too much rain for March. The roads in Lucknow, the capital city of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, had become slippery. *Brijesh Dubey, a deputy director at the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), India’s top intelligence body dealing with evasion of customs duty and smuggling, got a lead on a gold smuggler. DRI had been tracking this man for a long time. The suspect had made some security investments and had also been involved in hawala transactions. That day he planned to run away with his stash of smuggled gold. “Heavy rain made it difficult for us to identify the vehicle,” Dubey told VICE News. … Dubey’s team succeeded in nabbing all five people in the car, as well as the contraband. Gold from both neighbouring and African countries has poured into India for years through illicit channels. India seized smuggled gold, worth INR 49.5 crore (around 6.7 million USD) this year. Over a quarter of India’s gold sector is tainted with gold from questionable sources, according to an analysis by IMPACT, a Canada-based non-profit. Vice

Ebola Never Went Away. But Now There’s a Drug to Treat It
This month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted formal approval to an antibody cocktail from the pharmaceutical company Regeneron that’s been shown to reduce an Ebola patient’s chances of dying dramatically. … Julien Potet of Doctors Without Borders’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines says approval of the first drug to treat Ebola is a significant milestone. “It’s very good news for Ebola patients,” he says. “And approval by a stringent regulatory authority like the U.S. FDA is very helpful in order to support the introduction of that treatment in other countries.” The announcement comes as the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak, which began in Congo in 2018, was finally contained this summer. … A subsequent outbreak, which erupted in Congo’s Equateur province in June, has resulted in 128 cases and at least 53 deaths, underscoring the ongoing need for an effective treatment. NPR

‘People Power’ in Uganda: The Lawyer Promoting a Pop-Star Candidate
Opposition parties in Africa are often strongest in cities. With elections looming in Uganda, can the followers of Bobi Wine, a Ugandan singer-turned-politician, build support beyond the capital? … Lina Zedriga thought she was done with politics. As a lawyer and activist, she had fought for women’s voices to be heard everywhere in Uganda, from land disputes to peace negotiations to parliament. And now she wanted to go home to the north. Become a catechist. Keep goats. Rest. One day in February she changed her mind. Bobi Wine was in court in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, accused of organizing an illegal protest. The singer-turned-politician, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, is the leading opposition candidate for president in elections early next year. Ms. Zedriga, who was there to watch another case, saw Mr. Wine leave the courthouse into a throng of raucous fans. Suddenly the police fired tear gas. The Christian Science Monitor



Photo: Adam Jones