Africa Media Review for October 22, 2020

A Dozen Protesters in Nigeria Reported Killed by Security Forces
… As darkness fell, Nigerian flags were handed out among the thousands of people gathered [in the Lekki suburb of Lagos]. Philip Agu, a sound engineer who had volunteered to run the huge speaker system, said a protest leader took the microphone and told the crowd that the police would likely arrive soon, but that if they sat down, sang the national anthem and waved their flags, they would face no danger. The speaker told the crowd, Mr. Agu recalled, that all around the world, “No soldier can shoot any citizen holding their own national flag.” Three hours later, dozens of people were hit by gunfire from security forces, some fatally, and images of bloodied protesters and their bloodied flags strewn on the ground flooded the social media accounts of millions of Nigerians. … On Tuesday, the security forces killed at least 12 people at demonstrations in the Lagos area, including 10 at Lekki, Amnesty International reported on Wednesday. The New York Times

African Union ‘Strongly’ Condemns Deadly Violence in Nigeria
African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat “strongly condemns the violence that erupted on 20 October 2020 during protests in Lagos, Nigeria that has resulted in multiple deaths and injuries,” his office said in a statement. “The Chairperson appeals to all political and social actors to reject the use of violence and respect human rights and the rule of law,” the statement said. Mahamat’s comments came as protests escalated in Lagos, following the shooting of peaceful protesters by security forces earlier this week. … The west African ECOWAS bloc appealed to the Nigerian government, its youth and civil society “to urgently pursue dialogue for an early and amicable resolution of this social unrest and maintain the Nigerian image as a bastion of law and order.” France24 with AFP

Tensions Mount in Guinea as Nation Awaits Election Results
Gunfire rang out across Guinea’s capital on Wednesday and authorities reported at least nine deaths across the West African country as tensions mounted in anticipation of official results being released from a weekend presidential election. … Election officials have said it could take until the end of the week to gather and count all ballots from across the West African country. … Diallo’s claim of victory infuriated supporters of the incumbent president, who had sought constitutional changes earlier this year so that he could seek yet another term. Sunday marked the third time that Conde and Diallo faced each other in a presidential election. Many fear that Diallo’s declaration could now lead security forces to crack down on his supporters, many of whom like him come from the Peuhl ethnic group. The president belongs to the Malinke ethnic group, and his past electoral match-ups against Diallo in 2010 and 2015 have seen bursts of intercommunal violence between the country’s two largest ethnic groups. AP

Sudanese Return to Streets over Dire Living Conditions
Sudanese protesters took to the streets in the capital and across the country Wednesday over dire living conditions and a deadly crackdown on demonstrators in the east earlier this month. The protests came on the anniversary of a 1964 uprising that ended six years of military rule. Sudan is currently ruled by a joint civilian-military government, following the popular uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir last year. The demonstrations came a week after at least 15 people were killed and dozens were wounded in tribal clashes and a government crackdown against protesters in eastern Sudan. … Security forces fired tear gas in some areas in the capital to disperse protesters. At least one protester in his 20s was shot dead and more than two dozen others wounded in Khartoum, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Committee, which also campaigned for al-Bashir’s ouster. The Culture and Information Ministry also said security forces attacked reporters covering the protests. AP

Seychelles to Hold Three Day Election across Archipelago
The Seychelles on Thursday kicks off a three-day election for the president and lawmakers, with voting to be spread out across the 115 scattered islands making up the idyllic archipelago. Narrowly defeated in a presidential election in 2015, and buoyed by a landmark victory in a parliamentary poll a year later, the opposition is hoping for its first ever presidential win. However the main opposition parties did not manage to unite and President Danny Faure — who was not elected but took over after his predecessor James Michel resigned — is running against two candidates. … Faure’s main rival is the Anglican priest Wavel Ramkalawan, who is taking his sixth shot at the presidency and lost by only 193 votes to Michel in an unprecedented second round of voting in 2015. … The main concern of voters is the economic situation in the country, which has suffered the loss of vital tourism — its main earner — due to the coronavirus pandemic. AFP

Mali Soldiers Air Drop Provisions to Village Besieged by Suspected Jihadists
Mali’s military said on Tuesday it had air dropped food into a village in the centre of the country where more than 2 000 residents have been besieged by suspected Islamist militants for the past two weeks. The situation in Farabougou, most of whose population is ethnic Bambara, has again underscored the government’s difficulties imposing its authority in a part of the country where jihadists linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State are gaining strength. The siege began two weeks ago when the militants, who have generally sided with Fulani herders in their conflicts with farming communities like the Bambara, kidnapped several villagers and clashed with local hunters. Malian troops have not been able to reach Farabougou by land because heavy rains have made the roads impassable, a local resident said. Reuters

Tanzania Readies for Polls after Years of ‘Hell’ for Opposition
Tundu Lissu, shot 16 times in an assassination attempt, returned to Tanzania to run for president — but he did not know what to expect after the “hell” experienced by the opposition under President John Magufuli. Political rallies had been banned for years, freedom of speech suffocated, opposition leaders killed, abducted and arrested. Lissu was worried for his own safety. But the 52-year-old has been amazed by the reaction as he crisscrosses the country to heaving crowds clamouring to see him. “After five years of repression, I was not expecting this kind of enthusiasm and mass support from the people,” he told AFP. He said the opposition has “gone through hell”, but believes his Chadema party will be the rightful winner of the October 28 presidential and parliamentary elections. However, like many observers, he believes it will not be a fair fight. AFP

Tanzania Confirms Terror Attack near Its Southern Gas Fields
About 300 suspected Islamist militants carried out an attack in Tanzania last week, the first such raid since Islamic State-linked fighters began an insurgency in Mozambique three years ago. The gunmen attacked Kitaya village in the gas-rich region of Mtwara and retreated to Mozambique, Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro told journalists Wednesday on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean island of Pemba, without giving more details. Kitaya is on the banks of the Ruvuma river that separates the two countries. Police have since arrested “both locals and foreigners in connection with the terrorist incident,” he said. … Some of the gunmen involved in last week’s attack were Tanzanians who authorities believe were behind a string of murders in the coastal town of Kibiti in 2017, Sirro said. Bloomberg

Uganda, DR Congo Decide to Make Roads, Not War
After two-and-a-half decades of testy relations, including an armed invasion in 1997 that contributed to one of the world’s deadliest conflicts since World War II, Uganda is betting that infrastructure investments and shared economic benefits will build better relations and long-term stability. Uganda’s cabinet recently approved plans to build three roads inside the DRC, continuing the country’s recent strategy of growing its influence in the Great Lakes region riding on infrastructure diplomacy. Jointly funded by the two countries, the roads will run from some of Uganda’s border towns into DRC: one will run from Kasindi to Beni (80km) and another will integrate the Beni-Butebo axis (54km). The third will stretch for 89 kilometres from the border town of Bunagana, through Rutshuru to the strategic city of Goma, the capital of the North Kivu Province in DRC. The EastAfrican

Advocates Want Independent Review of Death of Rwandan Gospel Singer
Friends and family members are demanding answers following the death of a Rwandan gospel singer in police custody in February. Rwandan authorities have called Kizito Mihigo’s death a suicide, but his supporters believe he was killed for his political opinions. … Mihigo died four days after being arrested near the border with Burundi. Police alleged he planned to cross the border and join a rebel group. Mihigo was a politically active artist who, although once celebrated by the Rwandan government, had fallen out of favor and been accused of collaborating with extremists. His 2014 song “The Meaning of Death” was interpreted as criticizing the government of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and questioning its version of the genocide. VOA

South Africa Sounds Alarm over Resurgence in Virus Cases
South Africa is recording a worrying increase in coronavirus infections, especially in the Western Cape province, which saw a 42% spike in new cases in the last week, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Nationwide, new cases increased 9.1% in the last seven days, prompting the health department to urge South Africa’s nine provinces to “quickly mount a response, including contact tracing and quarantine,” Mkhize said in a statement Wednesday. The rise in infections in the Western Cape province is a resurgence and the provincial health department has identified specific clusters that are responsible for the increase, said Mkhize, who is in quarantine at home after contracting the virus himself. The biggest cluster is due to a so-called super-spreader event in a bar in the city of Cape Town, he said. “The risk of a resurgence remains high,” Mkhize said. “It would be irresponsible of us to ignore ‘small flames’ that we see redeveloping in some parts of the country.” Bloomberg

Angola’s Bombs Still Maiming People Years after War Ended
Nearly 20 years since the civil war ended in Angola, landmines laid in the ground before the country gained independence in 1975 continue to maim civilians across the country. The civil war, that left at least half a million people dead and some four million civilians displaced in the oil-rich nation, officially ended in 2002. The conflict destroyed industries and agricultural firms. But two decades later, the southern African country is yet to clear all land mines. According to official government data, unexploded ordnances killed about 160 people in the last two years. In the year the war ended, some 240 people were killed. … This week, the US government provided additional $11.1 million for the southern African country. … Since 2006, the US says it has supported the destruction of 107,900 excess small arms and light weapons and over 588 metric tonnes of obsolete and excess ammunition to increase the safety of Angolan citizens. Daily Nation

FAO Expects to Control East Africa Locust Invasion by Year’s End
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) projects it will have the record desert locust swarms that have plagued East Africa under control by the end of the year. Ethiopia is currently undergoing a harvest season after several months of heavy rain, creating the ideal conditions for the locusts to multiply. According to the FAO’s latest evaluation published on October 15, the situation has recently deteriorated in the eastern Amhara, south-eastern Tigray and eastern Oromia regions, where the pests have caused “extensive crop damage.” A shifting southerly wind has also raised the threat of renewed locust invasions in Ethiopia’s Somali region, as well as in Kenya and Uganda. VOA

Special Report: African Farming & the World
Nigeria harnesses scale to boost smallholder productivity; the battle to commercialise South Africa’s Eastern Cape; camel milk’s superfood credentials; how tackling soil depletion can raise yields; Egyptian orange farmers capitalise on export boom; what Nigeria can learn from Brazilian techniques. FT



Photo: Adam Jones