Africa Media Review for October 27, 2020

Tanzanian Opposition Party Says Police Kill 7 Ahead of Vote
A major opposition party in Tanzania is accusing police of shooting dead at least seven citizens amid unrest over alleged fraud on the eve of the country’s presidential election. The ACT Wazalendo party on Tuesday also said police in the semi-autonomous island region arrested its Zanzibar presidential candidate, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad. A police official in Zanzibar city, Mohammed Hassan Haji, confirmed the arrest to The Associated Press but gave no details. … There was a heavy police and military presence in Zanzibar on Tuesday, with many roads blocked. People reported that internet service had slowed, amid fears that the service would be cut off altogether on Wednesday. “I’m alarmed by reports from Zanzibar and elsewhere of violence, deaths and detentions,” the U.S. ambassador to Tanzania, Donald J. Wright, said Tuesday in a statement. “It’s not too late to prevent more bloodshed! Security forces must show restraint.” AP

Press Freedom Groups Accuse Tanzania of Squeezing Media Ahead of Elections
Press freedom groups and journalists have accused Tanzania’s government of silencing critics of President John Magufuli ahead of the October 28 election. Tanzanian authorities this year suspended a number of media groups from broadcasting or publishing, raising concerns about growing censorship. As Tanzanians prepare to vote for a president on October 28, press freedom groups say media critical of the government have been targeted in a campaign of intimidation. The Media Institute of Southern Africa in Tanzania (MISA) says that in the days leading up to the election, they have recorded a number of incidents of police harassing reporters. MISA Chairperson Salome Kitomari says the organization has been trying to work with the police to ensure journalists are protected. VOA

Nearly Two Dozen Dead in Guinea Post-Election Violence: State TV
The RTG state news channel said 21 people had been killed since October 19, including officers of the security forces – six fewer than figures compiled by the opposition, which claims 27 have died. President Alpha Conde, 82, won a hotly contested October 18 election, according to official results announced on Saturday, setting the stage for a controversial third term. But his main opponent Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68, disputes the results. He claimed victory last week, citing data his supporters gathered at individual polling stations. … A diplomatic delegation from the United Nations, African Union and the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States landed in Guinea on Sunday in the aftermath of the unrest. The envoys – who include ECOWAS Commission President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou and the UN special representative to West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas – met several ministers and government officials on Monday. … Diallo told AFP news agency that the envoys met with him as well at his Conakry home, which the police have blockaded for days. AFP

Inquiry Probes Shooting of Lagos Protesters, Police Abuses
A judicial panel investigating police brutality in Nigeria and the recent shooting of unarmed protesters in the country’s financial hub of Lagos has convened for the first time, as demands for accountability grow. The establishment of an independent body to oversee the investigation and persecution of all reported cases of police misconduct has been one of the main demands of peaceful demonstrators who this month took to the streets across Nigeria to protest against police violence and call for sweeping reforms. On October 20, nearly two weeks into the protests, witnesses and rights groups said soldiers opened fire on demonstrators gathered at a toll gate in Lekki, an upmarket area of Lagos. The military denied its involvement in the attack but Amnesty International said 12 people were killed in Lekki and Alausa, another area of Lagos, by soldiers and police. Al Jazeera

Cameroon School Attack Puts Spotlight on Neglected Conflict
The massacre of schoolchildren in Cameroon has grabbed global attention. Experts have called for the international community to stop ignoring the Anglophone conflict. Cameroon’s government has blamed Anglophone separatist militants for the killing of eight children in Kumba in the country’s Southwest Region. Thirteen other children were wounded, some of them seriously, as gunmen burst into the school compound and opened fire around midday on Saturday. Some social media users, however, were quick to point out that another massacre in February in Ngarbuh, in northwest Cameroon, was carried out by government forces. At least 21 civilians, including 13 children, were killed when soldiers attacked the village. … Cameroon’s armed conflict has claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people and forced 700,000 to flee their homes. DW

DR Congo Army Says Burundi Rebels Forced from Strongholds
Congolese soldiers have forced fighters from the main Burundian rebel force from their stronghold in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) near the two countries’ border, an army statement said on Monday. Troops “dislodged and recovered the headquarters of the Burundi FNL rebels [National Forces of Liberation] after three days of intense fighting,” said Dieudonne Kasereka, the army’s South Kivu spokesman. The FNL, led by Aloise Nzabampema, is considered to be the main Burundian rebel force active in eastern DRC. The statement said soldiers had also fought members of the CNRD (National Resistance Council for Democracy), another group active in South Kivu. Troops killed 27 rebels, seizing arms and ammunition, while three soldiers died in the fighting, with another four wounded, the statement said. AFP

Peace, Development at Stake in Ivory Coast Election
The West African nation of Ivory Coast is seeing pockets of violence ahead of an October 31 election, with analysts worried about further clashes. Opposition parties announced a boycott of the election and urged civil disobedience among their supporters. The unrest has raised concerns in the region and brought a halt to tourism. … Christopher Fomunyoh, the regional director for Central and West Africa at the International Democratic Institute for International Affairs, said 2020 was meant to be the consolidation of gains made over the past decade. He says a stable Ivory Coast is important to all of West Africa. “It is an important hub for the coastline countries but also the countries in the Sahel which depend on ports in Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire to be able to export their products,” said Fomunyoh. “So if Cote D’ivoire is thriving and doing well economically and is politically stable that would mean very well for several other countries and will also mean very well for the Ivorians.” VOA

Libya Ceasefire: UN Relaunches Inclusive Political Forum, Amid Growing ‘Sense of Hope’
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has announced the launch of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum, following the signing of a permanent ceasefire agreement in the strife-torn country. The first meeting of the Forum – to be convened virtually – was due to begin on Monday and direct, in-person meetings will commence on 9 November, in Tunisian capital Tunis, according to UNSMIL. … The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) is a fully inclusive intra-Libyan political dialogue established by the Berlin Conference Outcomes, last January… It represents a variety of different constituencies, based on the principles of inclusivity, fair geographic, ethnic, political, tribal, and social representation. The group was convened by the UN to include representatives of the House of Representatives, of the High Council of State as well as Libyan political actors who are not members of the two institutions, and with a firm commitment to the meaningful participation of Libyan women, youth and minorities. UN News

Mali and France at Odds over Talks with Islamist Militants
Mali’s interim prime minister said on Monday he was open to talks with Islamist militants whose insurgency has made vast swathes of the country ungovernable, but former colonial power France signalled opposition to the idea. Ousted former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita said earlier this year that his government was prepared to negotiate with al Qaeda-linked militants. National talks in the aftermath of the August coup that overthrew Keita endorsed that policy. Malian officials have provided few specifics about what kinds of compromises could emerge, but some proponents of negotiations have said they could include recognition of a greater role for Islam in public life. … Le Drian, however, indicated he was opposed, noting that the Islamist groups had not signed a 2015 peace deal that it considers a framework for restoring peace to northern Mali. Reuters

African Debt to China: ‘A Major Drain on the Poorest Countries’
Over the past two decades, China has emerged as the biggest bilateral lender to Africa, transferring nearly $150bn to governments and state-owned companies as it sought to secure commodity supplies and develop its global network of infrastructure projects, the Belt and Road Initiative. But, as Zambia heads for Africa’s first sovereign default in a decade and pressure mounts on other debt-burdened countries during the coronavirus pandemic, the crisis has revealed the fragmented nature of Chinese lending as well as Beijing’s reluctance to fully align with global debt relief plans. China’s share of bilateral debt owed by the world’s poorest countries to members of the G20 has risen from 45 per cent in 2015 to 63 per cent last year, according to the World Bank. For many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, China’s share of bilateral debt is larger still. FT

Africa Climate Change Report Reveals Heat Rising North and South, Sahel Getting Wetter
Africa needs to prepare better for climate change by responding to a wide range of potential risks, a multi-agency report led by the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, the first in a series of continent-by-continent assessments. … The report aims to fill a gap in reliable and timely climate information for Africa, which translates into a lack of climate-related development planning, said Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General, and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Africa has been warming progressively since the start of the last century, and in the next five years, northern and southern Africa are set to get drier and hotter, while the Sahel region of Western Africa will get wetter, WMO’s Regional Strategic Office Director, Filipe Lucio, told a press conference. UN News

In Madagascar, Endangered Lemurs Find a Private Refuge
Madagascar has always been one of the best places on Earth to study the natural world. Seventy percent of its species are found nowhere else — the largest concentration of endemic wildlife anywhere. In the last 10 years alone, scientists have discovered 40 new mammals, 69 amphibians, 61 reptiles, 42 invertebrates and 385 plants in the country. Its parks are ecotourism destinations and points of national pride. With the world’s largest concentration of endangered species, Madagascar is also a leading place to study extinction. Last year the country lost the greatest percentage of primary forest, making it one of the most deforested places on Earth. Since 2012 the International Union for Conservation of Nature has named lemurs, which are found only in Madagascar, as the world’s most endangered group of animals, with 95 percent either threatened or endangered. Poaching, farming, charcoal cultivation and illegal logging have placed enormous pressure on the country’s wildlife. The New York Times

Baby Awa: The Miracle Baby Born on a Boat Fleeing Mozambique’s Violence
Muaziza Nfalume was heavily pregnant when she clambered aboard the wooden boat carrying more than a dozen people from her village, Pangane, in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, which has been hit by devastating violence that appears to be growing in intensity. Like the others from her village, and like thousands more from Macomia district, Nfalume was hoping to find safety — and make a new life for herself and her infant — in Pemba, the provincial capital. That new life started a little earlier than expected. Baby Awa was delivered on the boat before it reached Pemba. On arrival, mother and baby were transferred to the hospital, and they are in good health. The news of Baby Awa’s birth was greeted with joy across the country, which has grown weary of the bad news coming from the north. Mozambique has a habit of finding pockets of joy in the midst of crises… Mail & Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones