Africa Media Review for October 27, 2021

African Leaders, Hard-Hit by Climate Change, Plan a Tougher Stance at Glasgow Negotiations
Gabon’s Environment Minister, Lee White, is readying an arsenal of arguments in favour of funding the next stage in Africa’s campaign to stave off the catastrophic effects of climate change. Gabon, whose landmass is nearly 90 per cent covered in forests, making it the world’s second-most-forested country, is leading the African negotiating team at the United Nations climate summit that begins on Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland. Despite years of broken promises from Canada and the world’s other wealthy countries, Mr. White is ready to make his case for Africa again. He will tell the summit about the rainfall that Gabon’s forests generate across Africa, without which a wave of climate refugees might flee drought by migrating to Europe. He will describe the huge amount of carbon that the Congo Basin’s forests are absorbing for the world’s greenhouse emitters. And more ominously, he might warn of the wars that climate change could trigger. As many as 23 African countries could be vulnerable to violent conflict as a result of climate change, according to one study. The Globe and Mail

Malawi’s President Condemns ‘Unfortunate’ Sudan Coup as ‘Not the African Way’
In an interview with FRANCE 24, Lazarus Chakwera, the president of Malawi and chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), condemned Monday’s military coup in Sudan, stressing that this was “not the African way” to deal with differences. He regretted that such coups were back in fashion “in some parts” of the continent, but pointed to the recent elections in Zambia and in his country as examples of democratic progress. Our guest said he was optimistic for the forthcoming COP26 climate summit, despite warnings that it might not be successful. He added that climate change was a “question of life and death” for Malawi, a poor and landlocked country. The Malawian president said he fully agreed with South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa that there is a “vaccine apartheid” on Covid-19 jabs, demanding “equal access” for poor countries. France24

Sudan Arrests 3 Coup Critics as Pressure Mounts on Military
Sudanese security forces detained three prominent pro-democracy figures, according to their relatives and other activists on Wednesday, as internal and international pressure mounted on the country’s military to walk back its coup. The overnight arrests came as protests denouncing Monday’s takeover continued in the capital of Khartoum and elsewhere, and many businesses shut in response to calls for strikes. Security forces kept up their heavy-handed response, chasing demonstrators in several neighborhoods late Tuesday, according to activists who said some were shot and wounded. … Following widespread international condemnation, the military allowed deposed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his wife to return home on Tuesday night. Hamdok, a former U.N. economist, was detained along with other government officials when the military seized power. Several Western embassies in Khartoum said Wednesday they will continue to recognize Hamdok and his Cabinet as “the constitutional leaders of the transitional government” of Sudan. In a joint statement, the embassies of the European Union, the U.S., the U.K., France and several other European countries called for the release of other detained officials and for talks between the military and the pro-democracy movement. AP

‘Patients Hid under Beds’: Sudan Doctors Refuse to Hand Injured Protesters to Soldiers
At the Royal Care hospital in Khartoum, close to the military headquarters in the centre of Sudan’s capital, the beds are full of dozens of injured, all of them wounded in the protests against Monday’s coup. There are some who were shot with live bullets during the demonstrations as large numbers took to the streets to oppose the arrest of Sudan’s prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and other ministers by the security forces. Some were badly beaten. Others still were run over by cars driven into the protesters. Among them, say hospital staff, are some so badly injured they may never walk again. Salman, a surgeon, said that in the midst of the violence, as many of the injured were being brought in, the military asked staff to hand over the wounded. “I performed three operations yesterday,” he said. “As I was getting ready to go into the operating theatre there were soldiers – so many soldiers – from the army and from Darfur’s armed movements shooting around the hospital. “They asked us to hand over the injured protesters. Of course we refused,” he added. “They used heavy weapons to terrorise us including Doshka [a nickname for the Russian-made DShK machine gun].” … And among the 10 reported dead in Monday’s clashes, medical staff reported, were two doctors named as Rayan Ali and Mohamed Abdulhaleem. The Guardian

Behind Power Grabs in Sudan and Tunisia, the Shadow of Gulf Monarchies
In 2013, the two Gulf monarchies played a pivotal role in helping shore up the regime of Egypt’s coup-plotting President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. And they also may try to buttress Burhan in Sudan, which, like Tunisia, has at times become the arena for a broader regional “Great Game” pitting Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE against on-and-off geopolitical adversaries Qatar and Turkey. Those dynamics were most acutely on show in Tunisia’s neighbor, Libya, with the two camps backing rival warring factions amid tensions that spilled over into Tunisia’s domestic politics. Analysts suggest that Gulf royal largesse already strengthened Sudan’s military in its maneuverings after Bashir’s fall. “Financial support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE gave the generals crucial leeway to resist popular demands for civilian rule, shaping a lopsided balance of power that allowed the generals to navigate a period of mass mobilization,” wrote Sudan scholar Jean-Baptiste Gallopin. … Now, experts argue any hope for restoring Sudan’s democratic prospects may require exerting pressure on these Arab powers. The Washington Post

Somalia’s Militia Agrees to Ceasefire in Galmudug
Somalia’s militia, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) has agreed to a ceasefire following talks brokered by the local business community, ending days of bloodshed in Galmudug federal state. Regional state President Abdi Karie Qoorqoor told the media on Wednesday that the group, seen as moderate and who had been government allies, agreed to leave Gur-el town following night-long talks. “They have left town today morning, reportedly heading north to an area called Godwiil,” Mr Qoorqoor said. … It was unclear what offers the group agreed to or if there would be further negotiations. The AWSJ was allied with government forces against al-Shabaab but fell out over power-sharing arrangements in the local federal administration. … The decision to lay down the arms could now allow the state to complete its pending election for two senate seats, allowing the country to focus on polls of 275 MPs in the Lower House. Earlier, Somalia’s international partners raised concerns that the continual violence in the Galmudug State of Somalia could derail the country’s electoral calendar and security programmes. In a joint statement on Tuesday, the UN, the African Union, the European Union and other partners warned the fighting was already raising a new humanitarian crisis and could derail other government programmes for the country. The EastAfrican

UN, US Sanction Libyan Official over Human Trafficking
The United Nations Security Council and the United States have imposed sanctions on a Libyan official over the alleged abuse and torture of migrants in a detention center. The Security Council and the U.S. said in separate statements late Tuesday that Osama al-Kuni is the de facto head of a detention center in the North African nation’s west. Migrants there are said to have been subjected to torture, sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking. Libya emerged as a major conduit for African migrants hoping to reach Europe after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed the country’s longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country subsequently slid into chaos, with rival governments and parliaments based in its western and eastern regions, each backed by different militias and tribes. The al-Nasr Martyrs detention center is located in the western town of Zawiya, home of two of the country’s most wanted human traffickers, Abdel-Rahman Milad, and militia leader Mohammed Kachlaf. Both Milad and Kachlaf were sanctioned by the Security Council in 2018 over allegations of human trafficking and abuse of migrants. AP

BioNTech to Work with Senegal, Rwanda to Make mRNA Vaccines
Senegal and Rwanda have signed an agreement with German company BioNTech for the construction of its first start-to-finish factories to make messenger RNA vaccines in Africa. BioNTech, which developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, said Tuesday that construction will start in mid-2022. It is working with the Institut Pasteur in Dakar, Senegal’s capital, and the Rwandan government, a statement said. “State-of-the-art facilities like this will be life-savers and game-changers for Africa and could lead to millions of cutting-edge vaccines being made for Africans, by Africans in Africa,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa. “This is also crucial for transferring knowledge and know-how, bringing in new jobs and skills and ultimately strengthening Africa’s health security.” Ugur Sahin, the co-founder and CEO of BioNTech, said its goal is “to develop vaccines in the African Union and to establish sustainable vaccine production capabilities to jointly improve medical care in Africa.” AP

Gun for Hire: Nigeria Security Fears Spark Boom in Private Protection
As the security situation worsens across Nigeria, escort and guard services for wealthy clients in Lagos are booming. By one count, about 40 per cent of the country’s police officers are working for private services. … Because private guards are not permitted to carry guns in Nigeria, the companies — including the local subsidiaries of foreign-owned groups — strike agreements with the national police, which provides armed officers to ride in trucks provided by the companies, under the supervision of a private security commander. Many of the officers guarding wealthy people are from the Mobile Police (known as Mopol), a paramilitary unit — originally riot squads — of the Nigerian Police Force. Police escorts are procured in one of two ways: via a private security company or, much more cheaply, directly at the local police station, which is the route that more and more middle-class Nigerians are taking for interstate trips as security threats have grown. “Anyone can get access to these now — it’s not just politicians or VIPs — because of the high rate of insecurity . . . because you don’t want to run into armed bandits or kidnappers on the way,” says Kemi Okenyodo, executive director of the Rule of Law Empowerment Initiative, a non-governmental organisation involved in security governance. FT

Soldier Admits Role in 1987 Murder of Burkina Faso’s Revolutionary Leader Sankara
A former army private admitted at a trial on Tuesday that he had helped transport a hit squad to assassinate Burkina Faso’s revolutionary leader, Thomas Sankara, 34 years ago. The trial unfolding at a military court in Ouagadougou is being closely followed by the Burkinabe public, many of whom hope it will shed light on one of their country’s darkest chapters. Fourteen people are on trial for the 1987 assassination in which Sankara and 12 others were cut down in a hail of bullets at a top government meeting. The accused include Sankara’s friend and former comrade-in-arms, Blaise Compaore, who came to power after the bloodbath. In testimony to the court, former private Yamba Elise Ilboudo, 62, admitted a charge of complicity in endangering state security. But he said his actions were unpremeditated — he had not taken part in any meeting to plan the assassination, nor had he taken part in the shooting. AFP

Burkina Faso’s Silent Refugee Crisis
More than a million people are fleeing terror and violence in Burkina Faso, and their numbers are growing. Many are left to fend for themselves as they struggle to survive. … Jacob Ouermi does not like to talk about what his family has gone through. He, his wife Elisabet Simpore and their seven children lived in a village in northern Burkina Faso — until the violence started. “People were kidnapped, so we fled and didn’t take anything with us,” said Ouermi, sitting on a narrow wooden bench in the shade of a tree by a small house in the provincial capital of Ouahigouya, a three-hour drive northwest of the capital, Ouagadougou. At first, Ouermi and his family relocated to a village next to the one they came from. “But there, it was just as bad,” he recalled. “First my wife and children stayed. Then my wife tried to retrieve some of our belongings,” he said. Ouermi soon left because he couldn’t stand the violence. “They killed many people, including my neighbors. I was just too scared.” Less than a year ago, the family eventually moved on to Ouahigouya. At night, unfamiliar sounds still make them uneasy. The provincial capital is one of the few cities in the north that is still reasonably safe to reach by car, unlike the surrounding towns and villages. Even convoys that are assumed to be protected are attacked. Ouermi has no idea who the attackers are. “We call them terrorists. We don’t even know who is who,” he shrugged. DW

Voluntary Repatriation of Refugees to Central African Republic from DR Congo Restarts
The U.N. refugee agency reports it has restarted a voluntary repatriation operation for thousands of refugees from the Central African Republic who were living in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past two years, the U.N. refugee agency has helped more than 5,000 refugees return from Congo to the Central African Republic. The voluntary operation, which has been interrupted on two occasions, resumed on Friday. The program was first halted in March 2020 when both countries closed their borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The second interruption occurred last December when violence surrounding the C.A.R. presidential elections sent an estimated 92,000 refugees fleeing into the DRC. UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo says a first group of 250 refugees left Mole camp to Zongo city in the northwestern DRC last Friday. … “People are only returning to areas where security has improved in the past six months, such as Bangui and the prefectures of Ombella Mpoko and Lobaye. Most of those set to return fled their homes because of violence in 2013. UNHCR and partners will also soon organize voluntary repatriation flights for refugees living in Inke camp in North Ubangi province. Air transport is necessary due to the distances and poor roads,” Mantoo said. VOA

Verdict on EAC Admission of DRC Set for November
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s bid to join the East African Community (EAC) has passed the technical committee stage with the regional Council of Ministers expected to deliver the final verdict this November. The EAC technical experts have been reviewing a report of the mission tasked with verifying the readiness of DR Congo. The report touches on the social-economic and political compliance of the country with the Treaty establishing the EAC. Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the State Department of EAC Affairs Kevit Desai told The EastAfrican that DR Congo had presented a ‘strong’ case for admission into the six-member bloc. “From the next extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers to act on it before the end of November, it will be handed to the Summit of the Heads of State. We are looking at early 2022 for the Summit,” Mr Desai said. Under the EAC Treaty, criteria for admission of new countries include acceptance of the Community as set out in the Treaty, adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy and the rule of law. The EastAfrican

African Countries “Vulnerable” to Cybercrime – Interpol
A new Interpol report will assist African agencies charged with combatting cybercrime to better understand major threats and formulate a co-ordinated regional response. Cybercrimes, the international police organisation said, affect all countries but “weak networks and security make African countries particularly vulnerable.” Africa has an estimated 500 million Internet users, equating to 38% of the continent’s population, leaving major Internet growth potential. “Africa has the fastest growing telephone and Internet networks in the world and makes the widest use of mobile banking services. “This digital demand, coupled with a lack of cybersecurity policies and standards, exposes online services to major risks. “As African countries move to incorporate digital infrastructure into all aspects of society – including government, banking, business and critical infrastructure – it is crucial to put a robust cybersecurity framework into place,” Interpol maintains. The Interpol Africa cybercrime report identifies five major threats. They are: online scams … ; digital extortion … ; business email compromise … ; ransomware … ; and botnets … . defenceWeb

Boom Time for Cape Verde’s Sea Turtles as Conservation Pays Off
It’s nearly midnight as Delvis Semedo strolls along an empty beach on the Cape Verdean island of Maio. Overhead, the dense Milky Way pierces the darkness. A sea turtle emerges from the crashing waves and lumbers up the shore. Then another. And another. Semedo is one of about 100 local people who patrol Maio’s beaches each night during nesting season to collect data on the turtles and protect them from poachers. This year has been busier than usual. Sea turtle nests on the islands of Sal, Maio and Boa Vista – the primary nesting grounds for loggerheads in Cape Verde – have soared in the last five years. Cape Verde’s environment ministry puts nest numbers in 2020 across all 10 islands at almost 200,000, up from 10,725 in 2015. … In 2018, Cape Verde also toughened existing laws and criminalised the killing, trade and consumption of sea turtles. Offenders are typically fined or given community service, which can involve beach patrol with the NGO that caught them. It is not just Cape Verde’s sea turtles that are thriving. Beaches from India to the US have also seen exponential increases in nesting, and the same factors could be at play. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones