Africa Media Review for September 15, 2020

Circumvention of Term Limits Weakens Governance in Africa
A growing pattern of evading term limits in Africa carries far-reaching consequences for the continent’s governance, security, and development. Since 2015, leaders of 13 countries have evaded or overseen the further weakening of term limit restrictions that had been in place. Despite these setbacks, the trend is not uni-directional. Several African countries have strengthened or upheld term limits since 2015. … Africa has 34 presidential elections scheduled between 2019 and 2021. In roughly one-third of these elections the issue of leaders challenging term limits has been central. The often controversial means by which these leaders are extending their terms undermines the legitimacy that these electoral processes are intended to generate. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Ivory Coast Court Clears President Ouattara’s Contentious Third-Term Bid
Ivory Coast’s top court on Monday cleared the way for President Alassane Ouattara to run for a contentious third term in the upcoming presidential election as several cities saw violent protests. The Constitutional Council barred some of Ouattara’s opponents, including former President Laurent Gbagbo and former rebel leader turned prime minister, Soro Guillaume, but allowed the candidacy of former President Henri Konan Bedie, Gbagbo’s former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, and Kouadio Konan Bertin, a dissident from Bedie’s PDCI party. … According to media reports, clashes broke out between security forces and youths in the district of Yopougon, following which protesters set a bus ablaze.  … At least 15 people have died in the violence that ensued after Ouattara’s August announcement to run for a third term. DW

Guinea Electoral Roll Unfair, Opposition Says Ahead of Poll
Guinea’s election authority published voter registration data on Monday, but opponents quickly highlighted anomalies that would appear to benefit President Alpha Conde in next month’s presidential election. The credibility of Guinea’s electoral roll is a recurring issue in the West African state, and was a key concern among international observers during a controversial constitutional referendum in the country this year. Some 5.4 million voters appear on the roll in the nation of 13 million people, according to statistics that officials from Guinea’s Independent National Electoral Commission presented at a press conference Monday. But opponents are skeptical of the regional distribution of voters, pointing to a spike in the number of voters in the Conde stronghold of Kankan, in the east of the country. … In March, President Conde pushed through a revamped constitution, which critics argued was designed to allow him to get around a two-term limit for presidents. Protests against that possibility erupted in October last year but were met with a ruthless crackdown, and several dozen people died. AFP

UN Urges a More Equal, Inclusive World, Marking International Day of Democracy
The United Nations marked the annual International Day of Democracy, on Tuesday, calling on world leaders to build a more equal, inclusive and sustainable world, with full respect for human rights. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the importance of democracy for ensuring free flow of information, participation in decision-making and accountability for the response to COVID-19. “Yet since the beginning of the crisis, we have seen the emergency used in a range of countries to restrict democratic processes and civic space,” Mr. Guterres said in a message marking International Day of Democracy. “This is especially dangerous in places where democracy’s roots are shallow and institutional checks and balances are weak,” he added. UN News

The Other Way COVID Will Kill: Hunger
As the global economy absorbs the most punishing reversal of fortunes since the Great Depression, hunger is on the rise. Those confronting potentially life-threatening levels of so-called food insecurity in the developing world are expected to nearly double this year to 265 million, according to the United Nations World Food Program. Worldwide, the number of children younger than 5 caught in a state of so-called wasting – their weight so far below normal that they face an elevated risk of death, along with long-term health and developmental problems – is likely to grow by nearly seven million this year, or 14 percent, according to a recent paper published in The Lancet, a medical journal. The largest numbers of vulnerable communities are concentrated in South Asia and Africa, especially in countries that are already confronting trouble, from military conflict and extreme poverty to climate-related afflictions like drought, flooding and soil erosion. The New York Times

UN Raises Alarm over Refugee Killings in Uganda Settlement
The United Nations refugee agency says it is “saddened and alarmed” after at least 10 refugees were killed in an attack last week by local residents in northern Uganda amid tensions over increasingly scarce resources. At least 19 others were injured in the dispute, including a member of the host community in the Rhino refugee settlement. Fifteen refugee houses were destroyed and another 26 were looted and vandalized, the U.N. agency said in a statement. Ten refugees remain missing, the statement said, calling on local authorities to “search for them immediately.” It said the agency is working with authorities to investigate the incident and “clarify the circumstances, including the role of local authorities.” … The East African nation now hosts more than 1.4 million refugees, most from South Sudan. Refugees are normally given plots of land in efforts to integrate them into host communities. But tensions have grown amid funding shortfalls that forced the World Food Program to cut food rations or cash transfers by 30% in April. AP

Bandits Target Nigeria’s Farmers and Threaten Food Security
The concept of food security-access to a reliable source of sustenance for a population-resonates across the world in the era of coronavirus and disrupted supply chains. In Africa’s biggest economy, it has many dimensions. The pandemic has triggered a surge in food prices in a nation that imports more than a tenth of its food supply. Two-thirds of the population is engaged in some form of agriculture. Yet most farmers lack the means to invest in quality seeds and fertilizer, irrigation, and machinery, all of which has constrained crop production. For many, climate change has made their situation even more dire. While farmers in the once fertile northern regions have sought new work in droves, those who remain are increasingly having to contend with gangs seeking to extort money by holding people, land and livestock for ransom. Bloomberg

Besieged Mali Junta Holds Talks on Path Back to Democracy
Mali’s ruling junta will try to convince regional leaders to accept its road map for a return to civilian rule as an ultimatum for it to name an interim president expires. The junta last week unveiled a political charter that could see a military officer heading a transitional government for 18 months — a proposition opposed by members of the M5-RFP, the main opposition coalition. Top military leaders will seek to win support for their plan and a reversal of economic sanctions when they head to Accra, Ghana’s capital, on Tuesday for a meeting with leaders of the Economic Community of West African States. … M5-RFP members say the junta has ignored some of their key proposals, including the appointment of a civilian interim president. Opposition leader Sy Kadiatou Sow called the junta’s plan an attempt to “confiscate power.” Bloomberg

In Mali’s Conflict-Hit North, the Coup Seems Far Away
Malian army lieutenant Abdoul Kadri leads a patrol through the bustling streets of the desert city of Timbuktu, gun by his side. The concerns of the capital Bamako, still reeling after last month’s military coup that ousted president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, seem far away. … Kadri’s soldiers patrol in vehicles mounted with high-calibre machine guns — a reminder of the lingering threat of violence in Timbuktu. … Colonel Boubacar Sanogoh, commander of Timbuktu’s military zone, said Mali’s new political reality demanded extra caution. “We must be vigilant because in such situations, the enemy lurking in the shadows could take advantage of negligence,” he said. … Mali’s military junta on Saturday backed an 18-month transition government, after three days of talks on restoring civilian rule with political officials and civil society figures in Bamako. As the talks were proceeding, junta officers also visited army camps around the country to ensure military unity, an army officer who requested anonymity told AFP. AFP

‘Kidnapped’ Hotel Rwanda Dissident Appears in Court on Terror Charges
Paul Rusesabagina… has appeared in court in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, facing charges of terrorism and murder. Rwandan authorities have accused Rusesabagina of being “the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits … operating out of various places in the region and abroad.” … Accompanied by lawyers appointed by the authorities, Rusesabagina declined to respond to all 13 charges, saying some did not qualify as criminal offences and saying that he denied the accusations when he was questioned by Rwandan investigators. … Supporters have raised concerns over a “show trial” in which Rusesabagina is pressured to confess to crimes he did not commit. … Rusesagabina, a cancer survivor, told judges his health was poor and that he had required hospitalisation three times since reaching Rwanda. He asked judges to look favourably on his application for bail. The court was adjourned until Thursday. The Guardian

Mozambique Condemns ‘Horrifying’ Execution of Naked Woman
Mozambique’s government and military have condemned the apparent brutal execution of a naked woman by men wearing fatigues, shown in video footage. The video, which has been widely shared on social media, shows the armed men chasing and beating the woman who has been stripped of her clothing. They beat her with sticks and shout at her in Portuguese, accusing her of being a member of the al-Shabab jihadist group. The men then open fire, shooting the woman dead. DW has been unable to verify the authenticity of the footage. The identity of the people in the video remains unknown. The country’s defense ministry called for an instant investigation into the “horrifying” images. In May, human rights group Amnesty International obtained videos that allegedly showed soldiers abusing prisoners who had been arrested on suspicion of being Islamist militants. DW

DRC Illegal Mining the Dangerous First Link in Gold Supply Chain
Illegal small-scale gold miners in DR Congo, such as those who were killed when their makeshift mine collapsed last week, are the often-exploited first link in a supply chain that extends to Dubai, according to experts. The bodies of 22 artisanal miners have been recovered as of Monday, a resident at the scene told AFP, after torrential rain flooded their mine in the eastern town of Kamituga three days before. The mining town’s mayor has said 20 local families have reported missing loved ones. Rescue efforts continued on Monday to find any survivors of the mining disaster, which are all to common in the vast central African country’s volatile east. … A United Nations expert report published last year said “a senior official of the mining administration in South Kivu assessed that about 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds) of undeclared gold transited each month” through the provincial capital Bukavu. AFP

South Sudan: FM Beatrice Urges Full Participation of Women in Governance
South Sudan’s Foreign Minister Beatrice Khamisa Wani urged women to participate more in every area of governance, saying the low representation of women in decision-making institutions remains a challenge. “The women said they wanted 35% representation, but as the minister of foreign affairs, I have seen that women are not applying for positions. For example, my ministry advertised for a position at the African Union for more than a month, and only one woman applied. Women, please let’s open our eyes,” Beatrice said. … Describing the women’s situation as unacceptable, Beatrice called for the more active involvement of women in governance. Meanwhile, Hawa Adams, a women’s rights activist in Yei River County, said women at the grassroots level lack information on their representation and empowerment opportunities. … The revitalized peace agreement provides for a 35% quota for women’s participation in the transitional government. South Sudanese women hope this key provision will be a catalyst for change in the country. Radio Tamazuj

Burkina’s Victims of Jihadist Violence Find Welcome at Free Health Clinic
Asseta Rouamba was one of thousands fleeing jihadist violence in Burkina Faso’s troubled north when her daughter contracted malaria, putting the pair in an even more desperate situation. “We are exposed. In addition to the precariousness of our shelter, there are food and health difficulties,” the 74-year-old said at the bedside of her daughter inside a white tent at a health centre outside the northeastern city of Kaya. “This centre has welcomed us with free care, which has been a huge relief.” Kaya, the capital of the Centre-Nord region, has been overwhelmed with a massive influx of people forced to flee their homes by the jihadist insurgency. More than 1,100 people have lost their lives and over a million have been displaced in the violence since 2015, and the bloodshed is stretching already slim resources in the country’s Sahel north. … Head nurse Issa Sawadogo said the centre receives an average of 160 visits a day, “80 percent of which are internally displaced people (IDPs) living in the sites that host families.” AFP



Photo: Adam Jones