Africa Media Review for October 28, 2020

Tanzania Votes for President Amid Fears of Violence, Fraud
Long lines of voters in Tanzania went to the polls on Wednesday for a presidential election that the opposition warned is already compromised by manipulation, deadly violence and a massive internet slowdown in a country once praised as a beacon of peace in Africa. Results declared by the electoral commission cannot be challenged in court, bringing urgency to efforts to monitor the vote, even as opposition figures said observers were turned away from scores of polling stations. Some major independent observers like the European Union were not invited or blocked. Leading opposition candidate Tundu Lissu alleged “widespread irregularities” including ballot box-stuffing, tweeting that “if this continues, mass democratic action will be the only option to protect the integrity of the election.” … The East African nation has become a human rights crisis as diplomats, the United Nations and others say the government under Magufuli has severely stifled media, civil society and opposition voices. AP

International Pressure on Guinea Mounts after Election
International mediators urged Guinea to lift a blockade of the home of its main opposition leader Tuesday, while the EU said there were doubts about the credibility of last week’s presidential election. President Alpha Conde, 82, won the hotly contested October 18 election, according to official results announced Saturday, setting the stage for a controversial third term in office. But opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, 68, had already claimed victory, citing data his activists gathered at individual polling stations. The move triggered lethal clashes between opposition supporters and security forces across the West African nation of 13 million people. … Internet connection was severely disrupted during the clashes last week. Web-monitoring groups have accused the government of being responsible. AFP

Why Nigeria Struggles to Win Its Security Battle
This year, Nigerian airline Aero Contractors announced a new, twice-daily shuttle service between the capital Abuja and Kaduna, a northern city just 180km away. Increased air connectivity is often a positive sign for a developing country — a signal of growing expendable income and business activity. But Aero’s move was prompted by the recognition that the Abuja-Kaduna highway, one of the most important roads in Africa’s most populous country, is too dangerous to traverse by car. … The kidnappings, hijackings and bandit attacks that plague the highway are emblematic of insecurity in every corner of Nigeria. … Critics argue that the administration’s militarised approach, where police and soldiers are underfunded and under-equipped, lacks a commensurate development agenda to help tackle the deficits — in education, health and jobs — that are driving some of the insecurity. FT

‘I Was Going to Die There’: Lagos Panel Begins Hearing Police Brutality Claims
A judicial panel investigating claims of police brutality and the shooting of protesters began hearing complaints in Lagos on Tuesday in a nation on edge following Nigeria’s biggest upheaval in 20 years. Independent investigations were a core demand of protesters who successfully demanded the end of a widely feared police branch called the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The demonstrations turned violent on Oct. 20 when witnesses said the military opened fire on peaceful protesters. The army said it was not there. Authorities said at least 13 states have established judicial panels. … Tensions remain high across Nigeria, with sporadic shooting in parts of Lagos and looting nationwide, particularly of warehouses holding food meant to assuage the impact of COVID-19 on the poor. Reuters

Libyan Minister Warns Ceasefire Will Not Survive Foreign Meddling
A senior Libyan official has warned that the fragile ceasefire to end the civil war in the oil-rich north African country will only survive if rival foreign countries stop meddling in the conflict. Fathi Bashagha, interior minister in the UN-backed government in Tripoli, told the Financial Times that the biggest challenge would be foreign “interference,” or a lack of international support to help Libyans “implement the ceasefire.” The UN announced the truce on Friday, halting 19 months of fighting that erupted after renegade general Khalifa Haftar launched an offensive in Tripoli against the Government of National Accord. … Tarek Megerisi, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the ceasefire reflected an international consensus on the need for a political settlement in Libya. But he added that there needed to be more international pressure on the foreign powers backing the Libyan factions. “Who will tell the Turks and the Russians to leave?” he said. FT

Libya to Release Russians Charged with Vote Meddling
Libya’s internationally recognized government has agreed to release two Russian political operatives who’ve been jailed for more than a year, officials said, signaling a detente with Moscow, which had backed a rival in a devastating civil war. The deal between Tripoli and Moscow was reached last week, four officials with knowledge of the negotiations told Bloomberg. The prisoners could be sent to Moscow within days, two of the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement isn’t yet public. Libyan authorities detained Maxim Shugaley and Samir Seifan, both Russian citizens, in May 2019 while they were working with Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of ousted leader Moammar al Qaddafi, to help engineer his return through eventual elections. Prosecutors accused them of election meddling on behalf of Moscow, jailing them pending trial. Bloomberg

UN Urges End to Violence, Intimidation in Run-Up to Ivory Coast Elections
The U.N. human rights office is urging the government of Ivory Coast to restrain its security forces and curb violent inter-communal clashes and political protests in the run-up to Saturday’s presidential elections. At least 20 people reportedly have been killed in inter-communal clashes and violent confrontations between Ivorian security forces and opposition protesters. U.N. human rights monitors report that demonstrations between Oct. 17 and 21 in Bongouanou, Dabou, Abidjan and other locations have become increasingly violent. A spokesman for the human rights office, Ravina Shamdasani, told VOA there has been a worrying uptick in violent crackdowns on demonstrations by security forces and particularly aggressive attacks by unidentified individuals. … Shamdasani said there is a deeply worrying and persistent use of hate speech aimed at manipulating ethnic differences for political ends. VOA

Zimbabwe Seeks to Bar Citizens Talking to Foreign States
Zimbabwe’s cabinet wants to bar its citizens from holding “unauthorized” communication and negotiations with hostile governments. “Such communication or negotiation has a direct or indirect implication on Zimbabwe’s foreign relations and policy,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Harare. The proposed cabinet amendments to a current criminal law will make illegal any cooperation with overseas government for self-gain or to inflict damage on Zimbabwe’s people and national interests, she said. … The proposed law will also criminalize the staging of protests which coincide with the hosting of major international and continental events by the country. Making unsubstantiated claims of torture and abductions will also be illegal. Zimbabwe has often labeled government critics as agents acting at the behest of foreign powers. Bloomberg

US Missionary Kidnapped in Southern Niger
An American citizen has been kidnapped in a village in southern Niger close to the border with Nigeria. No group has claimed responsibility so far. Philip Walton had been living and working as a missionary in the area of Massalata for a year. He was abducted by six armed men in the early hours of Tuesday morning, according to the governor of the region of Tahoua, Abdourahamane Moussa. The assailants, armed with AK-47s, arrived on foot and entered his garden on the outskirts of Massalata, a village 400 kilometres east of the capital Niamey. The village chief told RFI that the gunmen asked for money. When the American missionary said he had only 20,000 CFA (30 euros) on him they abducted him and headed off in the direction of the border with Nigeria, less than a kilometre away. RFI with AFP

Mali Opens Trial over 2015 Bamako Attacks on Foreigners
Mali has begun the trial of alleged Islamist gunmen accused of killing two dozen people in separate attacks – both targeting foreigners – on a luxury hotel and a restaurant in the capital Bamako, in 2015. A Frenchman, a Belgian and three Malians were killed in March of that year when militants opened fire on La Terrasse, a restaurant and nightclub, while a subsequent attack in November on the Radisson Blu hotel left 20 people dead. The trial’s main defendant is Fawaz Ould Ahmed, a Mauritanian national who is also known by the alias “Ibrahim 10”, and is suspected to be a member of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Mourabitoun Islamist group. He is also reportedly “a lieutenant” of the Algerian jihadist Mokhtar Belmokhtar. RFI

Algeria: President Tebboune Hospitalised, in ‘Stable’ Condition
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has been hospitalised, his office said, days after he went into self-isolation after coronavirus cases among his aides. Tebboune, 75, was moved on Tuesday to a specialised unit at a military hospital in the capital, Algiers, on the recommendation of his doctors. “His health is stable and does not cause any concern, and he is continuing his daily activities from the treatment centre,” a statement from the presidency carried by the official APS news agency said, without stating if he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Tebboune said on Saturday he was self-isolating after several senior aides were diagnosed with COVID-19. “I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that I am well and healthy and that I continue my work,” he was quoted as saying at the time. … Tebboune’s hospitalisation comes at a critical moment in his efforts to turn a page on last year’s massive street protests that forced his predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, from power after 20 years. Al Jazeera

Coronavirus: What’s Happening to the Numbers in Africa?
The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says there has been a slight increase in Covid-19 infections in Africa over the past month. The number of new daily confirmed cases has started rising after declining since mid-July, although in some countries cases are still on a downward trend. … Over the four weeks up to 21 October, there was a 4% average increase in new cases, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC). There were average increases over the month across all the regions except in west Africa. Looking at the populous countries on the continent, while there was a decline in new cases in Nigeria over the period there were increases in Ethiopia, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Kenya. … The Africa CDC’s John Nkengasong says the recent rise in numbers of reported deaths could have been due to an improvement in some countries’ ability to document deaths from coronavirus. BBC

Africa Is Warming Fast, and the Most Vulnerable Are Being Hit Hardest
African nations are spending between 2% and 9% of their gross domestic product on climate adaptation and mitigation measures, according to the World Meteorological Organization… The African continent is warming quickly, and climate change is expected to disproportionally affect every aspect of life there, from human health to food security and economic growth, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s first-ever State of the Climate in Africa report. Temperatures in Africa have increased over 1º Celsius compared to the average between 1901 and 2012, and warming in large areas of the continent may exceed 2ºC from pre-industrial times by 2080 to 2100 if emissions continue at their current levels, according to the report released on Monday and coordinated by the WMO. Bloomberg

Berber Photographer Ferhat Bouda Gets More Exposure
A young woman in a traditional garment of the Touareg kneels on the ground and cleans a rifle, a cap resting military-style on her head. It’s a disarming image of a Tuareg policewoman in Northern Mali taken by the photographer Ferhat Bouda. “I did not choose photography for fun,” Bouda says as he sits in his studio and talks via webcam. His voice is warm, his words passionate. A large cork bulletin is mounted on the wall behind him. Bouda has pinned some of his photos on the board, all of them are black and white. “I chose it because I want to do something for my culture,” he says of his photographs. “The culture of the Berber people, or Imazighen, as we call ourselves.” DW



Photo: Adam Jones