Africa Media Review for September 11, 2020

58 Killed in Attacks in Eastern Dr Congo’s Ituri Province
Fifty-eight people have been killed in the eastern DR Congo province of Ituri, the province’s interior minister told AFP on Thursday, attributing the massacres to a notorious militia. Twenty-three people were killed in Irumu territory in southern Ituri on Tuesday, followed by 35 there on Thursday, said minister Adjio Gidi. “Large numbers of the population” have fled their homes, he told AFP. He blamed the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which originated in the 1990s as a Ugandan Muslim rebel group. “It was ADF, fleeing military pressure in (neighbouring) North Kivu province, namely in (the) Beni (region),” Gidi said. “Our forces are already in the area and are in contact with the enemy,” he said. Hundreds of civilians have died at the hands of the ADF since the armed forces launched a crackdown in North Kivu last November. AFP

Leaders in Mali Meet with Junta for Conference on Transition
Leaders of Mali’s military junta who deposed the West African country’s president last month are meeting with political parties and civil society groups to outline a transition to a civilian government and, ultimately, elections. The three-day conference beginning Thursday comes after regional leaders Monday warned the junta, known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People, that it must designate a transitional civilian head of state by next week or face further sanctions from the 15-nation West African regional bloc. … The junta has said it will facilitate a return to civilian rule, but no agreement has been reached on what civilian leader will lead the transition or when new elections will be held, despite repeated rounds of talks with domestic groups and regional leaders. The West African regional bloc, known as ECOWAS, has said that by Sept. 15 the junta should have installed transitional civilian leaders, a president and prime minister, who will lead the country to elections within one year. AP

ECOWAS Peacekeeping Troops to Leave Guinea-Bissau
The mission of a West African peacekeeping force in Guinea-Bissau has come to an end after eight years in the country. They were deployed by regional bloc ECOWAS in 2012 following a military coup against Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior after a disputed presidential election. The force of about 1,000 soldiers was mandated to protect heads of institutions and public buildings. The authorities say Guinea-Bissau’s armed forces will now take over to ensure order and stability in the country. Newly elected President Umaro Sissoco Embalo was confirmed on Monday by the country’s Supreme Court following an appeal lodged by his opponents eight months ago. BBC

Ethiopian Region Holds Local Elections in Defiance of Prime Minister
When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came to power in 2018, he introduced a raft of reforms aimed at helping Ethiopia transition from an authoritarian state to an inclusive democracy, actions that helped win him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. But his plans have faced resistance – and a particularly daunting challenge came on Wednesday when Ethiopia’s northernmost region of Tigray went ahead and held parliamentary elections that Mr. Abiy has called “unconstitutional” and “illegal.” Officials in Tigray, as well as groups opposed to Mr. Abiy’s rule, had been infuriated when the federal government, citing the coronavirus pandemic, postponed general elections that were supposed to be held in August. … Federal authorities have so far stayed out of Tigray’s election. Mr. Abiy said in a state television interview this week, “We are not going to lift our hands every time someone shouts asking to affirm their existence.” … Authorities expect to announce the final results on Friday. The New York Times

UN Urges End to Attacks on Schools, Especially in Africa
The U.N. Security Council on Thursday urged warring parties in all conflicts to immediately stop attacking schools and teachers and reaffirmed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for global cease-fires to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. A presidential statement approved by all 15 council members expressed “grave concern about the significant increase of attacks on schools in recent years and the resulting alarming number of children denied access to quality education.” The U.N. envoy for children in conflict told the council that attacking schools and teachers seems to be an emerging tactic of war, particularly in Africa’s Sahel region, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse. Virginia Gamba said that in the Sahel, “schools are targeted precisely because they are schools, and even more if they cater to girls.” AP

Central African Republic Seeks Justice for Rural Victims of Sexual Violence
Restoring court operations in rural parts of the war-torn Central African Republic is vital to tackling sexual violence and ensuring victims can seek justice, a top government official said, as the coronavirus pandemic fuels gender-based abuse. Rape has been widely used as a weapon of war in the country of 4.6 million, which is still largely controlled by armed groups despite the signing of peace deals in 2019 to end a long civil war, according to the United Nations. Aline Gisèle Pana, minister for women, the family and child protection, said the government’s priority was to deploy magistrates outside the capital, Bangui, to re-establish state authority in rural areas ravaged by the seven-year conflict. “Our first priority is that victims must first obtain justice and to that end there must be a criminal chain,” she said, referring to the need to have courts functioning at a local level. Thomson Reuters Foundation

Protests Flare in Libya’s Benghazi over Power Cuts, Living Conditions
Scores of people protested in Benghazi on Thursday over power cuts and living conditions, witnesses said, burning tyres and blocking some roads in an unusual public show of dissent in the eastern Libyan city. Benghazi is the base of Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA), which is fighting in a civil war against the internationally recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli, in the country’s west. Electricity supply has deteriorated this year, leading to protests last month in Tripoli and adding to poor living standards amid a surge in cases of the novel coronavirus. The most immediate cause of the worsening power supply is a lack of fuel for electricity plants. The LNA has accused the Tripoli-based National Oil Corp (NOC) of not importing enough fuel to operate the plants. Reuters

Al-Shabaab Commander Killed in Airstrike Identified
The United States military command for Africa (Africom) has revealed the identity of a senior Al-Shabaab militant who was killed in an airstrike ten days ago. Abdulqadir Commandos, one of the top militants within the Al-Qaeda affiliate terror group, was killed on August 25. In a statement, Africom said the fighter was killed near Saakow, a town in Middle Juba. “The Al-Shabaab leader was killed in the airstrike near Saakow, Somalia. He held numerous positions within the Al-Shabaab terrorist organisation, including recently serving as a senior Al-Shabaab commander,” Africom said. US army general Stephen Townsend said the airstrikes have been very critical in stopping the spread of terrorism activities in Somalia. The Nation

Malware-Infected Phones Raise Security Questions
Cyber security experts say Africa’s top smartphone brand has sold tens of thousands of phones loaded with malicious software. The phones drain users’ data, sign them up for subscription services without their knowledge, and make them unwilling accomplices in fraudulent ad schemes. The Triada malware turned up on Chinese-made Tecno W2 smartphones in Ethiopia, Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa, according to a recent report. Traida uses a hard-to-remove program known as x-Helper to do its dirty work, experts say. In addition to creating fake subscriptions, the malware generates fake clicks on banner ads in the background of sites that made millions of dollars for cyber criminals by defrauding advertisers with fake impressions. ADF

Sudan Declares Economic Emergency after Currency Plunges
Sudan has declared an economic state of emergency after its currency fell sharply in recent weeks, setting up special courts to prosecute what officials called a “systematic operation” to vandalise the economy. The transitional government, in charge of the country since the removal of Omar al-Bashir last year, will criminalise purchasing, selling, possessing or smuggling raw gold or precious minerals, key hard-currency earners. The move comes days after Sudan declared a national emergency for three months and designated the country a natural disaster zone after flooding that has killed dozens of people. The Sudanese pound has declined in recent weeks on what officials blamed as manipulation by those opposing the transitional government. Al Jazeera

Severe Floods Hit 760,000 People in West and Central Africa
Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Niger, Mali, Nigeria, Congo Republic and Senegal are among those worst-hit this year, with at least 111 people killed, according to latest figures from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Waters have yet to recede in parts of Niamey since torrential rains in August caused rivers to burst their banks, destroying nearly 32,000 houses and 5,768 hectares of farmland across Niger. … Flooding across landlocked Niger alone has so far impacted nearly 333,000 people. Over 188,000 people have been affected in neighbouring Chad, with OCHA warning of potential food shortages due to inundated land. With further rain expected, particularly in Central Africa, the situation is expected to worsen, said OCHA’s director for West and Central Africa, Julie Belanger. Communities’ ability to cope with natural disasters has been eroded by instability, food shortages and mass displacement in some areas. Reuters

Japan Ship Operator to Pay $9m over Mauritius Oil Spill
The Japanese operator of a bulk carrier that struck a coral reef and caused a widespread oil spill off the coast of Mauritius said Friday it will provide 1 billion yen ($9 million) to fund environmental projects and support the local fishing community. Mitsui O.S.K. Lines said the Mauritius Natural Environment Recovery Fund will be used for mangrove protection, coral reef recovery, protection of seabirds and rare species, and research by private and governmental groups. The environmental disaster began on July 25 when the ship MV Wakashio strayed off course and struck a coral reef a mile (1.6 kilometers) offshore. After being pounded by heavy surf for nearly two weeks, the ship’s hull cracked and on Aug. 6 it began leaking fuel into a lagoon, polluting a protected wetlands area and a bird and wildlife sanctuary. AP

Senegal: A Family’s 76-Year Quest for Truth – and Justice
Painful chapters of history burst open worldwide after George Floyd’s killing renewed outrage this summer around old symbols and systems of oppression. Statues were toppled in the United States, Britain, Belgium and New Zealand. Companies, universities and public figures across the globe apologized for their own wrongdoings. The relationship between Senegal and France, dating back more than three centuries, is fertile ground for such moral excavation, activists here say. The West African territory was the European power’s regional headquarters until its independence in 1960, and leaders on both sides have hesitated to probe the collective memory too deeply. … Today, no one disputes the story began with a group of West African soldiers, freshly returned from deployment, asking for their wages. The Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones