Africa Media Review for October 29, 2021

Sudan Coup: UN Urges Military to Restore Civilian Government
The UN Security Council wants Sudan’s military to relinquish power and restore the civilian-led transitional government, the international body said on Thursday. In a statement, agreed by consensus, the 15-member Council called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint. The Council also called for the immediate release of all those who have been detained by the military and urged “all stakeholders to engage in dialogue without pre-conditions.” The international peace and security body expressed “serious concern” regarding Monday’s power grab by the military in the poverty-stricken African nation, which has enjoyed only rare periods of democracy since gaining independence in 1956. The British-drafted statement comes after laborious talks, which have been ongoing since Tuesday, among Security Council members. The wording of the text was somewhat diluted after pressure from Russia. The statement expresses concern over the “suspension of some transitional institutions, the declaration of a state of emergency” and the detention of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. DW

Violent Abductions Target Sudanese Civilians in Aftermath of Coup
In the days since Sudan’s military coup, it has become a familiar scene in Khartoum and other cities. At a home or an office, a convoy of vehicles crowded with armed men usually in plainclothes from army intelligence and the notorious paramilitary Rapid Support Forces suddenly arrives to make an arrest. Bundled away, sometimes beaten and hooded, for some relatives it is the last news they have of those detained. In the space of barely a week, dozens of individuals selected by the army for detention, or who have spoken out against the coup, have been swept up, including ministers and journalists, as well as activists in the “resistance committees” who have been involved in organising street protests. The spate of detentions comes as the coup faces its first big test on Friday, historically one of the biggest days for street protests in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities. … The wave of arrests also targeted journalists, among them the manager of the Democrat newspaper El-Haj Warrag on Thursday from his house in Khartoum. … Finding news of those who have been seized has been complicated by an internet and communications blackout imposed by Burhan, ostensibly “to prevent hate speech and racism”. Government offices also remain shuttered. The Guardian

Biden Criticizes Sudan’s Junta, Deaths Climb in Anti-coup Protests
The United States and United Nations dialled up the pressure on Sudan’s new military junta on Thursday as confrontations between soldiers and anti-coup protesters took the death toll to at least 11. After the 15-member U.N. Security Council called for the restoration of Sudan’s civilian-led government—toppled on Monday—U.S. President Joe Biden said his nation like others stood with the demonstrators. “Together, our message to Sudan’s military authorities is overwhelming and clear: the Sudanese people must be allowed to protest peacefully and the civilian-led transitional government must be restored,” he said in a statement. “The events of recent days are a grave setback, but the United States will continue to stand with the people of Sudan and their non-violent struggle,” said Biden, whose government has frozen aid. With thousands taking to the streets to oppose the takeover led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, witnesses said live and rubber bullets were used on protesters in Bahri, across the river from the capital Khartoum as nightly protests picked up. Reuters

Sudan Coup Leader Says Will Appoint New Premier within Week
The Sudanese general who seized power in a coup this week said the military he heads will appoint a technocrat prime minister to rule alongside it within a week. In an interview with Russia’s state-owned Sputnik news agency published Friday, Abdel-Fattah Burhan said the new premier will form a cabinet that will share leadership of the country with the armed forces. “We have a patriotic duty to lead the people and help them in the transition period until elections are held,” Burhan said in the interview. On Monday, Burhan dissolved the transitional government and detained Prime Minister Abddalla Hamdok, many government officials and political leaders in a coup condemned by the U.S. and the West. The military allowed Hamdok to return home under guard the following day after international pressure. The generals have not yet produced a list of candidates for the premiership, Burhan said. The decision to appoint such a premier follows earlier calls by the generals for a nonpartisan technocrat Cabinet. … Burhan has said military forces were compelled to take over because of quarrels between political parties that he claimed could lead to civil war. However, the coup also comes just weeks before Burhan would have had to hand over the leadership of the Sovereign Council, the ultimate decision-maker in Sudan, to a civilian, in a step that would reduce the military’s hold on the country. AP

Residents Say 6 Dead, Homes Demolished in Latest Tigray Airstrike
At least six people were killed and 21 injured in an Ethiopian army airstrike Thursday on the Tigray regional capital, Mekelle, hospital sources told VOA. The attack brings the total number of casualties reported by medical personnel from a series of government bomb strikes since last week to at least 12 dead and 55 wounded. The Ethiopian National Defense Forces issued a statement saying the latest attack was aimed at Mesfin Industrial Engineering, which it said was a military equipment maintenance facility operated by the rebel Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). But witnesses in Mekelle told VOA that the late-morning airstrike hit a residential area. The victims were rushed to the city’s Ayder Referral Hospital where Tsega, a wounded resident, told VOA that a bomb had hit her house with her entire family inside. … Dr. Kibrom Gebreselassie, the medical director at Ayder Referral Hospital, said six dead and 21 injured had been brought to the facility so far. “Ambulances are coming in as we speak now. The number might go up,” he told VOA. He said three of the dead were children. “We are treating people in makeshift tents as the hospital is full to capacity,” he told VOA’s Tigrigna Service. He blamed a blockade of the region for shortages of food, drugs and medical equipment at the hospital. VOA

Covid: Call for Rich Nations to Airlift Millions of Surplus Vaccines
More than 160 former world leaders and global figures have called on the UK and other rich countries to immediately airlift millions of surplus Covid vaccines to less developed nations. They say it would be unethical for doses to be wasted while thousands are dying with the virus every day. The call comes in a letter, organised by former prime minister Gordon Brown. It is addressed to Italian PM Mario Draghi, who is hosting the G20 group of major economies in Rome this weekend. Mr Brown told BBC Breakfast: “Countries have over-ordered and they’re over-stocked and they’re not giving the vaccines out quickly enough so a lot of vaccines could be wasted past their expiry date.” The letter’s signatories include 36 former presidents, 30 ex-prime ministers and another 100 influential global figures. Among them is the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso. While more than six billion Covid vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, they say 70% of these were administered by only a few countries and just 2% of people in low-income countries have received a jab. BBC

Syringe Shortages Could Be Yet Another Obstacle in Africa’s Covid Vaccination Efforts, the WHO Warns
As countries across Africa struggle to vaccinate 1.3 billion people, the continent faces another obstacle besides a lagging supply of doses: the looming likelihood of a shortage of syringes. “Early next year, Covid-19 vaccines will start pouring into Africa, but a scarcity of syringes could paralyze progress” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O.’s regional director for Africa, said at a news briefing. “Drastic measures must be taken to boost syringe production, fast. Countless African lives depend on it.” Rwanda, South Africa and Kenya have already reported delays in receiving supplies of syringes, according to the W.H.O. Covax, a global vaccine-sharing initiative that is working to supply many African countries with doses, is now seeking agreements with syringe manufacturers and trying to plan to keep vaccine deliveries from outpacing the availability of needles. Africa has the lowest vaccination rate of any continent, and the W.H.O. estimates that about 59 million of the continent’s population have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, though only somewhat more than eight million cases have been officially recorded. NY Times

Somalia: Renewed Clashes Dim Hopes of a Credible Election
After weeks of heated disputes between the outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and his Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble over the disappearance of a female spy, the two men finally agreed to move on. According to a deal signed by Farmajo and Roble, “speeding up elections is a top priority.” Somalia currently has no legitimate national authority. The mandates of the federal institutions expired in February and cannot constitutionally be extended. But there has been a political understanding that the incumbents remain in office pending an electoral process to establish a new parliament and government. “That understanding is now fraying because the electoral process is months behind schedule. Villa Somalia [Somalia’s Presidential Palace] has been systematically frustrating the process at every turn and trying to manipulate the election model for its benefit,” said Horn of Africa expert Matthew Bryden. “If so, then there is a very real risk that some political stakeholders will lose patience and that the fragile understanding that currently maintains stability may begin to disintegrate,” Bryden told DW. Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group has already vowed to disrupt the electoral process. To make matters worse, fighting between regional forces supported by the federal army and the once allied moderate Sufi militias in Galgaduud province of central Somalia has killed more than 100 people. The clashes injured another 200 others. DW

Free and Fair Elections Critical for South Sudan’s Stability: UN
Free and fair elections involving all citizens and political groups in South Sudan are critical for a transition towards a stable, inclusive, democratic and self-reliant state, the United Nations Security Council said in a statement on Wednesday. The Security Council, in the statement extended to Sudan Tribune, also underscored that election will need to be preceded by an inclusive, transparent constitution-drafting process, carried out in an environment that respects freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, and encourages civic engagement. Members of the 15-member Council urged South Sudanese authorities to make progress on key milestones, citing the necessary security arrangements, the establishment of the legal framework for elections, including the electoral system, boundary delimitation, national census, special measures for internally displaced persons, refugees, out-of-country voting and dispute resolution mechanisms. … Meanwhile, the Security Council expresses grave concern regarding the increased violence between armed groups in some parts of South Sudan, which has killed and displaced thousands, and condemns all acts of violence, human rights violations and abuses, and violations of international humanitarian law by parties involved. It further called on South Sudanese leaders to take immediate and effective measures to restore stability to facilitate the preparation and conduct of free and fair elections as stipulated in the peace accord. Sudan Tribune

Kenya: Why Rogue Police Officers Are Getting Away with Murder
Only 12 out of the registered 18,166 complaints against the police at the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority have reached conviction since its mandate began in June 2012. Ninety-eight others, amongst them dozens of murder cases, are stuck in the courts, as the wheels of justice grind slowly. Trends from cases against the police point to a pattern that, if not rectified, may make victims’ families give up on the search for justice and accept a fate that goes on to empower rogue officers to commit more felonies. Delay tactics, cover-ups, witness murders and intimidation of victims’ families have increasingly made it difficult to successfully prosecute rogue police officers. … Between January and June this year, the authority recorded 1,324 complaints against the police, among them allegations of 105 deaths, serious injuries and disappearances. The 105 cases include 21 deaths in custody, 55 resulting from police action, 15 from shooting causing serious injuries, 12 on enforced disappearances and two of unlawful discharge of firearms. … A status report on prosecutions of police brutality cases presented to the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee last month by Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji noted evidence tampering, intimidation of victims and witnesses and interference with investigations as the main challenges during prosecution of cases of human rights violations by police officers. The Nation

Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian Refugees Accelerates
The U.N. refugee agency reports more than 60,000 Burundian refugees have voluntarily returned home this year, ending years of exile in five neighboring countries. The election of Burundi’s then-President Pierre Nkurunziza to a controversial third term in 2015 triggered a mass exodus of refugees from the country. Observers say it took another presidential election in May 2020 to persuade thousands of refugees it was safe to go home. Evariste Ndayishimiye took office on June 20, following the sudden death of Nkurunziza earlier that month. The UN refugee agency says the voluntary assisted return program, which began in 2017, has been gathering pace after the country’s elections in 2020. UNHCR spokeswoman Shabia Mantoo, acknowledges her agency’s concerns about reported human rights violations in Burundi. She says all returns are carefully vetted to ensure that it’s done in safe manner. … Since 2017, more than 180,000 Burundian refugees have voluntarily returned home. However, nearly 270,000 Burundian refugees remain in exile. VOA

Mombasa Feted as One of Africa’s Most People-friendly Cities
Mombasa County’s “Happy Hour” traffic decongestion model, its well paved city centre roads and the white and blue colours on its buildings have earned it a place among the best people-friendly cities in Africa. A report from the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (Tumi) says the devolved unit under Governor Hassan Joho has understood that transport and socioeconomic development goes hand in hand. “The governor has successfully introduced several mobility and road safety projects including wider footpaths, tabletop crossings to reduce pedestrian fatalities, bicycle parking, and street lighting to guarantee security for residents,” the report says. Tumi seeks to change mobility “for the benefit of people and the environment” and supports transport projects around the world. … Transport CEC Tawfiq Balala said Governor Joho was among 21 leaders nominated for “Heroes 2021”, people who, despite historic challenges, achieved transport successes in 2020 and laid the groundwork for even more successful and sustainable mobility initiatives in 2021. … Mr Balala said the transport department has made many milestones in urban mobility with numerous projects under Governor Joho’s leadership. Nation

France Hands Back Benin Cultural Treasures at Historic Museum Ceremony
French President Emmanuel Macron attended a ceremony to formally hand back 26 items taken from the kingdom of Dahomey in the south of present-day Benin, currently exhibited at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris. It is the first step in a process undertaken in 2017 to improve the relationship between France and Africa. The 26 pieces, from a trove of objects snatched by French forces in 1892, are being shown for just six days at the Quai Branly museum before being shipped to the West African country later this month. Macron attended a handover ceremony on Wednesday afternoon at the museum in the presence of Benin’s foreign affairs minister Aurélien Agbenonci and the Quai Branly president Emmanuel Kasarherou. It comes on the heels of a day-long scientific summit as part of the Benin cultural week at the museum. The treasures to be returned are from the kingdom of Dahomey in the south of present-day Benin and include the throne of Dahomey’s last king, Behanzin, as well as three totemic statues, four palace doors, several portable altars and three warrior dance staffs. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones