Africa Media Review for October 9, 2020

World Food Programme Wins Nobel Peace Prize for Fight against ‘Hunger as a Weapon of War’
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the World Food Programme (WFP) for its “efforts to combat hunger” and its “contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas.” The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which presented the award in Oslo on Friday, also described the organization as “a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.” … The WFP, a United Nations entity, was created in 1961 and today provides food to over 90 million people a year. The organization tweeted its “deepest thanks” after for the honor, adding: “This is a powerful reminder to the world that peace and #ZeroHunger go hand-in-hand.” … The combination of conflict and the pandemic has led to a dramatic rise in the number of people living on the brink of starvation in countries including Yemen, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and Burkina Faso. CNN

African Union Lifts Post-Coup Suspension of Mali
The African Union on Friday lifted its suspension of Mali which went into effect after a military coup toppled the West African nation’s government in August. The decision comes three days after the West African regional bloc ECOWAS announced it was ending its tough post-coup sanctions on Mali, saying it wished to back the country’s return to civilian rule. … “The Peace and Security Council, in view of recent positive political developments, has decided to lift the suspension it had imposed against Mali,” the AU’s 15-member security body said in a post on Twitter. The 55-nation AU quickly condemned the “unconstitutional change of government” after president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was forced out in August by mutineering soldiers following mass protests. … Despite its concessions, the junta, which calls itself the National Council for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), has still not met all the ECOWAS demands. The regional bloc on Tuesday reiterated its call for the CNSP’s dissolution and for the release of civilian and military figures arrested during the coup. AFP

Mali Coup Leaders Free Former Prime Minister, Generals
Mali’s former Prime Minister Boubou Cisse and other officials and military personnel detained during the August coup have been released, according to a statement by the vice president, Colonel Assimi Goita. The releases had taken place on Wednesday, Goita said on Thursday on the public radio station, National Radio of Mali. Although a transitional government has been appointed after the August 18 coup, Goita, who led the coup, has remained in the government as vice president in charge of security and defence issues. The officials’ release was one of the demands of international powers including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which this week lifted economic sanctions against Mali after the appointment of the transitional government. … The former head of the national assembly, Moussa Timbine, and eight generals were among those released, said the statement issued by the vice president late on Wednesday. Al Jazeera

Extremists Free a Leading Malian Politician and Three Other Hostages
A prominent Malian politician and three European hostages freed by Al Qaida-linked Islamic extremists arrived in Mali’s capital late Thursday where they were greeted by family members and supporters. The politician, Soumaila Cisse, a three-time presidential candidate, was greeted by his son. The French humanitarian Sophie Petronin, who had been abducted four years ago while helping orphans in northern Mali, arrived in a flowing white traditional dress. While their relatives had been notified of their release on Tuesday, news that two Italian hostages also had been freed came only late Thursday in a government statement once the flight had left northern Mali. … The hostages’ release came just days after Malian authorities freed nearly 200 jihadist prisoners over the weekend, which had fueled speculation that a prisoner exchange was imminent. There was no immediate information on whether a ransom was paid. AP

Malawi President Reviews His 100 Days in Office
Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera is asking his country to remain patient as his government tries to improve the economic situation. Chakwera spoke Monday at a news conference in the capital Lilongwe, where he was reviewing the performance of his administration in his first 100 days in office. Chakwera said he is aware that Malawians have a lot of expectations from his administration, such as increased employment, cheaper fertilizers and having good schools right away. Chakwera said although he made a lot of promises before his election in June, fulfilling those promises is not an easy task. “The focus of my administration for the first 100 days has been to turn Malawi around,” Chakwera said. … Chakwera also said his government has raised the minimum wage for employees to $66 per month — a 43% increase—and secured emergency funding for nearly 200 households affected by COVID-19 and increased the budget allocation for the Anti-Corruption Bureau to prosecute cases freely. VOA

South Africa: How Graft Arrests Came Together
Unravelling the billions of rands looted from the state and arresting and securing convictions in high-profile cases is a mammoth task. Several law enforcement agencies have been coordinating their efforts for months. The past two weeks have seen a flurry of high-profile arrests, seizures of glitzy assets that are allegedly proceeds of crime, and at least one convicted person turning state witness. These cases represent a culmination of months of investigation and cooperation between the law enforcement agencies, including the newly set up Investigative Directorate (ID) unit in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) headed by Hermione Cronje. Sources have given insight into how the agencies have leaned on each other’s expertise, including coordinating with the judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture, and have ensured their actions do not counteract others. Mail & Guardian

Intl Court Appeals Judges Uphold Detention of Darfur Suspect
Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court upheld Thursday the detention of an alleged Sudanese militia leader charged with more than 50 crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Darfur conflict. Ali Mohammed Ali Abdul Rahman Ali, known as Ali Kushayb, has been in the global court’s detention since being flown to its headquarters in The Hague in June, more than 13 years after judges first issued an international warrant seeking his arrest. Following his transfer to the ICC, Kushayb applied to be provisionally released from the court’s custody while his case continues. Judges rejected the request and on Thursday an appeals panel ruling upheld that decision. A hearing on whether prosecution evidence is strong enough to merit a full trial is scheduled to begin on Dec. 7. AP

UN Supports Initiative for over 5 Million IDPs in Sudan, S. Sudan
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Thursday pledged its full support to a new solutions initiative by governments of Sudan and South Sudan for over 5 million citizens of their countries who live in exile or as internally displaced people. The Initiative was reportedly announced at UNHCR’s Executive Committee in a meeting of the two foreign ministers chaired by High Commissioner, Filippo Grandi. “Today marks a great leap forward for long-awaited solutions for Sudanese and South Sudanese people as both governments agreed today to address the needs of refugees and IDPs. We whole-heartedly support the Initiative to rally more international support for solutions,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Sudan, Axel Bisschop. … All parties reportedly agreed that key factors for success will be the participation of refugees, IDPs, and returnees in the process, full regional engagement and contributions by other UN actors. Sudan Tribune

World Mental Health Day: ‘Depression, Anxiety Common in South Sudan’
An untold number of people in South Sudan are struggling with depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems triggered by conflict and violence in South Sudan, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.  As October 10th marks World Mental Health Day, the ICRC said most of the affected people in South Sudan are not receiving the support they need, especially in rural areas, either because services are not available or because of the taboo that often surrounds mental health needs prevent people to access care. “Mental health is just as important as physical health and more needs to be done to ensure that people have access to the care they need and that they don’t face stigma for seeking help,” said Fiona Allan, the mental health and psychosocial support manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South Sudan. Radio Tamazuj

Nigerian Informal Retailers Turn Tech-Savvy to Stock up Amid Pandemic
When the coronavirus outbreak forced shops to close in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, kiosk store owner Funmilayo Akinola weighed up her safety against the need to make a living. After deciding that she couldn’t afford to stop working, she faced the challenge of replenishing her stock as the pandemic has made it harder for informal traders to buy wholesale goods due to safety measures disrupting supply chains. The answer lay in a logistics firm that provides an online marketplace where manufacturers and retailers connect. Lagos-based Trade Depot delivered goods that she bought using the company’s app. “(Without Trade Depot) I would have just locked up my shop, because my husband will not allow me to go inside the market to go and be hustling for goods,” said Akinola. Reuters

Benin Scores ‘Big Victory’ as It Awaits Return of Looted Treasures from France
Benin’s national museum director called Tuesday’s unanimous vote by French lawmakers on Tuesday to return 26 looted valuables a “big victory.” “This vote represents a big victory for international cooperation. We have been heard and understood,” Alain Godonou, Benin’s national museum director, told Agence France Presse newswire. The whole process will take some time, but Godonou says that they will prepare to receive the priceless objects within a year. “To start with, the objects will be heading to the museum near the French fort in Ouidah,” Says Godonou. “Eventually, they will be displayed at a new museum in Abomey, once capital of the Kingdom of Dahomey,” he adds, referring to the former name of Benin. The 26 pieces, named the Treasure of Behanzin, were looted in 1892 when the Palace of Abomey was looted. They are currently located at the Quai Branly museum, Paris. RFI

Divers Unearth World War I Submarine off Tunisia
Tunisian divers have discovered a French submarine wreck from World War I, the Ariane, which was sunk by a German submarine in 1917. The craft was spotted off Cap Bon by managers of a diving club in the country’s northeast as they were exploring new sites student divers. “We knew they were wrecks but we didn’t know what we were going to find,” said the diving director of the Ras Adar club, Selim Baccar. … After asking several experts, the club concluded it could only be the Ariane, which was based in Bizerte, at the time a French port in northern Tunisia. “This is the third submarine found in Tunisia, and the only one from the First World War. It’s exciting, as if a history book has come to life,” said Baccar. … During the First World War, German submarines wreaked havoc off the Tunisian coast, where they were initially deployed to cut the Allies off from their reinforcements of men and provisions from the French colonies, said historian Ali Ait Mihoub, from Manouba university. About 80,000 Tunisians were mobilised to fight or work in French factories during WWI, he told AFP. Africa News



Photo: Adam Jones