Africa Media Review for September 18, 2020

70 Armed Groups Agree to End Hostilities in DR Congo

About 70 armed groups active in South Kivu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), have pledged to end hostilities in areas under their control, local media reported on Thursday. The announcement came on Wednesday at the end of a two-day dialogue held in Muresa, near the city of Bukavu, under the auspices of the Interprovincial Commission to Support the Awareness, Disarmament, Demobilization, and Community Reintegration Process (CIAP-DDRC). The CIAP-DRRC is an initiative of the Congolese government for the stabilization of the conflict-torn North Kivu and South Kivu provinces. It was formed after the visit of President Felix Tshisekedi to Bukavu in October 2019. The disarmament initiative is also backed by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Anadolu

How Did a ‘Cocktail of Violence’ Engulf Mozambique’s Gemstone El Dorado?

For decades a forgotten corner of Mozambique, Cabo Delgado has now become the country’s El Dorado, promising billions in natural gas and gemstones but delivering its population only violence and displacement. An insurgency in the province now threatens to become further entrenched – 50,000 people have fled their homes since March and Mozambique’s neighbours are currently debating sending in regional forces to help defeat militants who seized a strategic port in the town of Mocímboa da Praia last month. … The latest attacks have added to an already desperate situation for residents, still trying to recover from the destruction caused by last year’s Cyclone Kenneth. More than a fifth of people do not have enough food. … The fighting this year has seen many humanitarian groups withdraw from the region. Agencies say they can only access some of the worst areas by air, river or sea, and that rural areas have been all but abandoned because of Covid-19. The Guardian

More Than 30 Killed in Militia Attacks in Western Ethiopia

Armed militia men killed more than 30 people in the Metakal zone of Ethiopia’s Benishangul-Gumuz region, a senior opposition leader told Reuters on Thursday, the latest security headache for reformist Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government. The attacks, whose victims included women and children, happened on Sept. 6-13, said Desalegn Chane, a senior member of new political party the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA). “Farmers and members of their families were kidnapped (and) brought to an elementary school in the area where they were handcuffed and shot one by one,” Desalegn said. Abiy said a meeting on Thursday of the federal and regional authorities had “evaluated the sporadic security incidents that have been occurring, particularly in the border areas.” Reuters

Ethiopia Brings Some Migrants Home as Concern over Saudi Camps Grows

Ethiopia will repatriate nearly 2,000 migrants from Saudi Arabia in the coming weeks, a government minister said on Thursday, amid growing international concern over conditions in migrant detention camps. Ethiopia is estimated to have tens of thousands of workers in Saudi Arabia and is under pressure to bring them home after the coronavirus left many stranded there with no work and no money. But Tsion Teklu, a state minister for foreign affairs, said the country did not have the resources to bring back the estimated 14,000 detained in Saudi camps that the United Nations this week warned were overcrowded and unsanitary. Reuters

Islamic State Claims Killing of French Aid Workers in Niger

Islamic State has credited its West Africa affiliate for killing six French aid workers and their Nigerien guide and driver at a giraffe reserve in Niger on Aug. 9, according to a statement published by the SITE Intelligence Group on Thursday. Islamic State said a detachment of its West Africa Province group (ISWAP) carried out the “blitz attack” on the group in the Koure area, southwest of the capital Niamey. This “resulted in the killing of six of them after their capture, as well as two of their companions,” a SITE translation of the statement said. The six French nationals and their driver worked for international aid group ACTED and were touring the reserve, which is a popular destination for expatriates and was considered safe by the Nigerien government. Reuters

‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero, in Jailhouse Interview, Says He Was Duped into Arrest

The former hotelier lauded as a hero during the 1994 Rwanda genocide says he was duped by the Rwandan authorities into returning to his home country last month to face charges of terrorism and murder, boarding a plane he thought was going to Burundi instead. Paul Rusesabagina, whose story inspired the movie “Hotel Rwanda,” made the assertion in an interview to The New York Times on Tuesday – as government officials listened in – at the Kigali Metropolitan Police headquarters, where he has been held for more than two weeks. A prominent government critic who had been living in exile in Texas, Mr. Rusesabagina, 66, said that during his first few days of custody in the hands of Rwandan intelligence operatives, he was kept tied up and did not know where he was. His treatment has improved since then, he said. The New York Times

Somali President Names New Prime Minister

Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo has appointed Mohamed Hussein Roble as the new prime minister, replacing Hassan Khaire who was ousted in a no-confidence vote on July 25. … “I expect the new prime minister to form a government that can facilitate the elections as well as advancing the achievements in spheres like security, reorganisation of the armed forces, development of the economic infrastructure, expansion of public service delivery and overcoming the challenges posed by terrorism and corruption,” he stated. Mr Roble is a relative newcomer to the political limelight in Somalia. He hails from the central region of the country. He was appointed moments after Somali federal leaders, including the president, agreed on a revised deal to revert to a clan-based voting system with slight improvements to how those delegates are selected. The EastAfrican

Ivory Coast Ex-PM, Barred from Standing for President, Says Ouattara Must Be Blocked

Former Ivory Coast Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, a leading candidate barred from standing against President Alassane Ouattara in an election next month, called on Thursday for the opposition to block Outtara’s re-election by any lawful means. The opposition says Ouattara is violating the constitution by seeking a third term; the president says a constitutional change means his two-term limit has been reset. At least a dozen people have been killed since anti-Ouattara riots broke out last month, tilling up memories of 2010-11, when 3,000 people died in a civil war sparked by a disputed election. … Speaking to reporters in Paris, where he has fled to escape corruption charges he says are politically motivated, he said: “I call for unity of action by the opposition to stop Mr Ouattara … by all legal and legitimate means.” He said the people did not want an election in its current form, adding, without elaborating: “There will be no election.” Reuters

South Africa Looking at Space Launch Capability

South Africa’s first steps toward better positioning the country as a world player in space comes with a Request for Information (RfI) regarding aerospace and engineering technical expertise relating to launch capabilities. Issued by SANSA (SA National Space Agency) the RfI points out it is a means of technical discovery and information gathering to determine and identify capabilities in the local aerospace and engineering sectors. … Information is wanted on orbital launch vehicles, orbital launch support services, orbital launch business services, orbital launch ground infrastructure, sub-orbital launch vehicles (sounding rockets), sub-orbital launch support services, sub-orbital launch business services and sub-orbital launch ground infrastructure. SANSA, according to the RfI, is seeking responses from capable and qualified organisations in the South African space engineering industry sector. defenceWeb

Family ‘Fakes Brawl’ to Help Chadian Colonel Escape Murder Trial

Family of a Chadian military officer faked a fight and rushed him out of the court moments after he was sentenced to five years in jail for a murder that sparked nationwide outrage, the government said. A video of Colonel Abdoulaye Ahmat Haroun shooting two young mechanics at point-blank range, killing one, triggered such fury online the government slowed the country’s internet last month. When a court in the capital Ndjamena convicted and sentenced Haroun for the murder on Thursday, “youths and women faked a brawl” to help him escape, Justice Minister Djimet Arabi told the AFP news agency. Five hours later, the colonel “was recaptured with five accomplices, hiding in a house” by police and troops, Arabi said. AFP

Uganda-Tanzania Oil Pipeline Threatens ‘Disastrous’ Environmental Consequences

…French supermajor Total, China’s CNOOC and flagging British firm Tullow Oil [are] teaming up to plan a 1,445 km pipeline transporting oil from Uganda to Tanzania. After years of discussion, the pipeline’s particular route has been confirmed: it will connect oil fields in Uganda’s Lake Albert region to the port of Tanga on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coastline, near the Kenyan border. Work on the pipeline will begin by the end of the year, and it is expected to carry nearly 200,000 barrels of oil per day. … But it cannot be realised without adversely affecting the local ecosystem and local people’s lives, human rights group FIDH and NGO Oxfam have warned. In two reports published on September 10, both groups called on the Tanzanian and Ugandan governments to listen to the people concerned. UN officials have also expressed concern over the project. France24

Why Ecowas Suspended Single Currency Launch

The Economic Community of West African States, Ecowas, has gone slow on the adoption of a common currency following divisions on its appropriateness for the region. At the end of the 57th Summit of the Head of States and Government in Niamey, Niger, on Tuesday, the regional bloc’s leaders admitted the decision to launch the Eco may have been rushed. For now, the Ecowas which comprises of 15 states, said it will take a gradual step towards launching one currency. Incoming chair of the bloc, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari had argued at the start of the Summit that the French-speaking countries in the bloc had made unilateral adoption of Eco, leaving out the rest. A communique issued on September 8, said the postponement was done in order to consolidate the achievements and chart a new roadmap for the single currency programme. The EastAfrican

Burglars Beware: Tech Pioneers Aim to Make South Africa’s Townships Safer

Jonga – the innovative township community alarm system launched by Mgiba and Shezi earlier this year – combines a wireless motion sensor with a six-month battery life and a 100-decibel siren with an Android app that sends text messages to five pre-selected contacts when the alarm is triggered. Instead of relying on expensive armed response providers, Jonga relies on the townships’ closeknit communities, while integration with the Namola security app enables a link to emergency services. The Guardian

South Africans Pay Tribute to Former Mandela Lawyer Bizos

South African gathered Thursday to pay tribute to lawyer George Bizos, who represented anti-apartheid leaders including Nelson Mandela in their legal battles against the government during racist white rule. Bizos died earlier this month at the age of 92 after a lengthy career fighting injustices in his adopted country. He was credited with helping Mandela avoid the death penalty at his 1964 treason trial and served as his personal attorney for decades. … South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Thursday that Bizos was a titan of the legal profession who displayed a life-long commitment to justice. Bizos immigrated to South Africa when he was 13, fleeing the Nazi occupation in Greece. As a result, he had a deeply personal experience of being “forced away from the land of one’s birth and being treated like a second-class citizen,” Ramaphosa said. AP