Africa Media Review for October 26, 2020

Amnesty International Accuses Guinea of Post-Election Crackdown
Amnesty International says security forces in Guinea fired live rounds at protesters during post-election unrest that have killed at least 10 people in the country. … President Alpha Conde, 82, won a controversial third presidential term – which requires confirmation by the Constitutional Court – with 59.49 percent of the votes, Guinea’s electoral commission said on Saturday. But the country’s leading opposition politician Cellou Dalein Diallo has disputed the result and claimed victory himself a day after the contested October 18 poll. He said he has evidence of fraud and plans to file a complaint with the Constitutional Court. … Separately, Amnesty also criticised internet and phone-line cuts on Friday and Saturday – calling them a “frontal attack on freedom of expression.” … “The authorities must immediately lift the suspension of Guinéematin.com news website and the restrictions on access to internet and social media so that everyone can freely express himself and journalists can do their job.” Al Jazeera

Nigeria’s Police Order Massive Mobilization after Unrest
Nigeria’s top police official on Saturday ordered the immediate mobilization of all officers to “reclaim the public space from criminal elements masquerading as protesters” after days of peaceful demonstrations over police abuses and then violent unrest that left at least 69 people dead. The police order could further heighten tensions in Africa’s most populous country after its worst turmoil in years. Nigeria’s inspector general of police, M.A. Adamu, ordered colleagues to “dominate the public space” while announcing that enough is enough, a statement said. Nigerians on Tuesday evening watched in horror as soldiers fired on a peaceful crowd of mostly youthful demonstrators singing the national anthem in the country’s largest city, Lagos, with Amnesty International reporting at least 12 killed. AP

Attackers Storm Cameroon School, Kill Several Children
At least eight children were killed and a dozen wounded after attackers stormed a school in southwestern Cameroon with guns and machetes, the United Nations said. Arriving on motorbikes and in civilian clothes, the men attacked the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in the city of Kumba, in the country’s Southwest Region, at around midday on Saturday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, described by the UN as “the worst atrocity” since the resumption of the school year earlier this month. It was not clear if the attack was linked to a continuing struggle between government forces and armed groups in the English-speaking west seeking to form a breakaway state. … African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said: “There are no words of grief nor condemnation strong enough to articulate my full horror at the brutal attack targeting primary schoolchildren … as they sat learning in their classroom.” Al Jazeera

Seychelles Opposition Leader Ramkalawan Wins Presidency in Landmark Victory
The Seychelles presidential election has seen an upset, with the electoral commission on Sunday declaring longtime opposition contender Wavel Ramkalawan the winner over incumbent Danny Faure. The ruling party has been knocked from power for the first time since 1977. Opposition leader Ramkalawan, a 59-year-old priest who has largely devoted himself to politics, received 54% of the vote in the Indian Ocean island nation while Faure received 43%, the commission chair Danny Lucas said, calling the race “hotly contested.” “Mr. Faure and I are very good friends and an election does not mean the end of one’s contribution to one’s motherland,” Ramkalawan, a six-time presidential candidate, said shortly after the announcement. … Faure accepted his loss and added “I wish you all the best,” the Seychelles News Agency reported. The outgoing president promised to continue living in the country and said he would be available to dispense advice. AFP

Observers Say Tanzania’s Presidential Vote Is Already Flawed
Tanzania’s opposition faces a new obstacle in its quest to unseat President John Magufuli in Wednesday’s election: It says the government has made it difficult to accredit thousands of opposition electoral observers who want to ensure the vote is fair. “Without them, fraud can occur easily,” Zitto Kabwe with the ACT Wazalendo party, a major player in an opposition coalition, told The Associated Press. … At stake is one of Africa’s most populous and peaceful countries and, at least before the COVID-19 pandemic, one of its fastest-growing economies. The populist Magufuli has been criticized for severely stifling dissent since his 2015 election win, notably barring opposition parties from holding most public gatherings. … Within a year of riding into the presidency on popular calls for reforms to tackle corruption, Magufuli consolidated power. He has weakened Tanzania’s courts with his appointments, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies wrote last month. AP

Tanzania: Zanzibar Opposition Campaign Manager Says He Was Threatened by Armed Men
An opposition party campaign manager in semi-autonomous Zanzibar said on Sunday that he had been seized and threatened by armed men, while a parliamentary candidate was still missing before Tanzanian elections next week. Earlier on Sunday the ACT-Wazalendo party said Nassor Mazrui, its Zanzibar campaign manager and the party’s deputy secretary general for the archipelago, and Abdalla Ali Abdalla, the party candidate for the House of Representative elections, had been abducted on Saturday in separate incidents. Mazrui re-emerged at the party’s political rally in Zanzibar later on Sunday, saying his assailants fired a shot in the air before forcing him out of his car and into theirs. They later released him in a forest, he said. … Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania are due to hold elections for president, lawmakers and local governments on Wednesday. Reuters

‘Long and Difficult’ Road Ahead after Libyan Cease-Fire
The rival sides in Libya’s conflict signed a permanent cease-fire Friday, a deal the United Nations billed as historic after years of fighting that has split the North African country in two. … The breakthrough, which among other things orders foreign mercenaries out of the country within three months, sets the stage for political talks in November to find a lasting solution to the chaos unleashed after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Previous diplomatic initiatives to end the war have repeatedly collapsed – but the U.N.-brokered deal aims to cement a recent lull in fighting and boost the political process. … Foreign mercenaries will depart “from all Libyan territories land, air, and sea” within three months, [Stephanie Turco Williams, the top U.N. envoy for Libya] added, referring to the thousands of Syrian fighters deployed by Turkey and Russia on opposite sides of the war. AP

Police Arrest 100 over Angola Anti-Government Demos
At least 100 people were held following violent weekend anti-government protests in the Angolan capital Luanda, a senior government official announced Sunday. Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters to break up the demonstrations that attracted around 2,000 people. Protesters set up barricades along the roads using skips, boulders, tree trunks and burning tires. Others set a national flag ablaze, an AFP photographer saw. Dozens of protesters, including journalists covering the demonstrations, were arrested. … The demonstrations were staged to demand a new date for local government elections that were supposed to happen this year but have been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Protesters also demanded jobs and better living conditions. AFP

South African Environmental Activist Shot Dead in Her Home
A South African environmental activist who opposed the extension of a coalmine near her home has been shot dead in her home. Fikile Ntshangase, 65, was involved in a legal dispute over the extension of an opencast mine operated by Tendele Coal near Somkhele, close to Hluhluwe–Imfolozi park, the oldest nature reserve in Africa. Local police told the Guardian that four men entered Ntshangase’s home in Ophondweni, KwaZulu-Natal province, at about 6.30pm on Thursday and shot her dead. A 13-year-old child witnessed the murder and is helping authorities with their investigation. No arrests have been made. Tendele Coal condemned what it called a “senseless killing” and called for calm, in a joint statement with local leaders. … A Global Witness report in July said a record number of people around the world were killed for defending their land and environment in 2019. The total was 212, up nearly 30% from the previous year’s 164. The Guardian

Sudan Has Begun to Replace UNAMID by National Troops: Official
The Sudanese government has begun implementing a national plan to protect civilians in the Darfur region, ahead of the withdrawal of the hybrid operation UNAMID by the end of the year, the foreign ministry said on Sunday. The tripartite mechanism on the UNAMID held a meeting at the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the participation Jean-Pierre Lacroix, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Smail Chergui, AU Peace and Security Commissioner. … In a statement released after the end of the meeting, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the government had begun implementing the national plan to protect civilians … by forming and deploying joint forces to establish security. … In line with the peace agreement of 3 October, a 12,000-strong force including the Sudanese army and the signatory Darfur armed groups will be deployed in the western Sudan region to protect the civilians for 39 months. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Says It Will Discuss Trade, Migration with Israel
Sudanese and Israeli officials will meet in the coming weeks to discuss a package of cooperation deals to “achieve the mutual interests of the two peoples,” Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday. The ministry statement came three days after President Donald Trump announced that Sudan would start normalizing ties with Israel. The statement said the deals would cover agriculture, trade, aviation and migration, but did not provide details on the timing or location of the meetings. … The normalization deal came with another pledge by Trump to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. … Both deals would open the door for Sudan to get international loans and aid. Sudan needs these to revive its battered economy and rescue its transition to democracy, following a popular uprising last year that led the military to overthrow longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir. AP

Russia Sends More Military Equipment to Central African Republic: RIA
Russia has opened a representative office in the Central African Republic and donated ten armoured vehicles to the country, the RIA news agency said on Saturday, citing the Russian ambassador. Moscow has been solidifying its presence in the CAR in recent years, sending weapons and contractors and political advisors, and has been growing its role on the continent overall as part of a renewed push for global prestige. Five members of the Russian military arrived in the capital Bangui on Saturday led by Oleg Polguev, the senior military officer who will head up the Russian defence ministry’s representative office, RIA reported. Polguev will also serve as an advisor to the CAR’s defence ministry, the news agency cited Vladimir Titorenko, the Russian ambassador to CAR, as saying. Reuters

#Endsars: How Nigerians Harness Social Media against Police Abuse
For two weeks, thousands of young people across Nigeria and abroad this month took to the streets to call for the dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an infamous police unit accused of extortion, extrajudicial killings, rape and torture. This was far from the first time Nigerians had made such a demand. It was, however, by far, the first time their calls garnered such widespread support and international media coverage – thanks, largely, to the prominent role of social media in spreading the word. Peaceful protests against police brutality began on October 8 after a video allegedly showing a SARS operative killing a man was widely shared online. The #EndSARS hashtag swiftly started trending, boosted in part by Nigerian celebrities and high-profile personalities with large followings. As the hashtag also spread beyond the country’s borders, a number of Nigerian Twitter users announced they would help cover the phone bills of others so they could afford to keep tweeting and maintain momentum. Al Jazeera

Facebook, Instagram Indiscriminately Flag #Endsars Posts as Fake News
On Tuesday evening, as people moved online to stand in solidarity with peaceful #EndSars protesters who were attacked by heavily armed Nigerian security operatives at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos, Facebook and Instagram moved to flag users’ posts as fake. “I got a notification from Facebook that what I wrote is not entirely true, that they did their fact-checking,” Nuel Okwudili told The Continent. Photos, graphics and graphic images of the casualties and the ruins left at the tollgate— after protesters flouting a curfew order by the state government were subjected to a shooting spree — flooded the internet.  Fact-checking exercises were done indiscriminately — posts from pop star Rihanna on Facebook and Instagram also suffered the same fate. Mail & Guardian

First Tripoli-Benghazi Flight for a Year Follows Libya Talks
A commercial passenger plane flew from the Libyan capital Tripoli across front lines to the eastern city of Benghazi for the first time in more than a year on Friday after talks between the country’s warring parties in Geneva. Flights between them had stopped in the summer of 2019 as shelling by Khalifa Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA) targeted Tripoli’s Mitiga airport. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognised by the United Nations, drove the LNA back from the capital in June. … On Tuesday the UN’s acting Libya envoy Stephanie Williams said military representatives of the two sides meeting in the Swiss city had agreed to reopen land and air connections across the country. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones