Africa Media Review for September 5, 2023

Gabon Military Leader Sworn in Amid Calls for Return to Constitutional Order
The leader of the coup that ousted Gabonese President Ali Bongo was sworn in Monday, amid international calls for a return to constitutional order. VOA visited Bitam, a town in northern Gabon near the border with Cameroon, to gauge people’s moods. Scores of people in Bitam watch Gabon’s national TV broadcasting the inauguration of General Brice Oligui Nguema as interim president. … Among the civilians watching the ceremony in Bitam was local official and opposition supporter Pierre Marie Tsanga. Tsanga said he was not surprised that opposition presidential candidate Albert Ondo Ossa did not attend the inauguration ceremony. He says Gabon’s military should not think that the ongoing excitement is because civilians love General Brice Oligui Nguema, who has seized power. He says civilians are happy that Ali Bongo has been toppled, putting an end to his family’s close to 60-year grip on power.The 69-year-old Ondo also did not attend a meeting between the transitional president and opposition party leaders on Friday. … Gabon’s main opposition group, Alternance 2023, asserts that the 69-year-old Ondo, a former government minister and university professor, is the rightful winner of the August 26 election. On Friday, Alternance 2023 urged the international community to ask the junta to hand power to Ondo. The African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States last week called for a rapid return to constitutional order. VOA

Snubbed by Most Regional Leaders, Emmerson Mnangagwa Parties On with Ex-adversaries Instead
Only three out of 16 Southern African Development Community (SADC) heads of state attended Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inauguration in Harare on Monday, but that did not stop the party. Along with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, those who made the trip to Harare were Mozambique’s Filipe Nyusi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi. Other SADC countries sent foreign affairs ministers and envoys stationed in Zimbabwe. … [The] election [was] flagged as a flawed process by the SADC Election Observer Mission, the African Union, and other international missions such as the European Union and Carter Center. News24

Lawyers for Zimbabwe Abductees Arrested—Opposition
The opposition in Zimbabwe say police have arrested two lawyers representing activists who were in hospital after being abducted. The Citizens Coalition for Change (CC) said the lawyers, Doug Coltart and Tapiwa Muchineripi, had been detained on suspicion of obstructing justice. They had told police that their clients were medically unfit to be questioned. The opposition activists were badly beaten during their abduction in the capital, Harare, on Saturday by unidentified attackers. The arrests took place on the day that President Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in for a second term in office after elections described by the opposition as fraudulent. BBC

At Least 20 Civilians, Including Children, Killed in Sudan Strike
Residents of Khartoum awoke Sunday to artillery and rocket fire, hours after an air strike in the city’s south killed at least 20 civilians including two children, according to Sudanese activists. “The death toll from the aerial bombardment” in southern Khartoum “has risen to 20 civilian fatalities,” according to a statement by the neighbourhood’s resistance committee. They are among many volunteer groups that used to organise pro-democracy demonstrations and now provide assistance to families caught in the crossfire between the army and paramilitary fighters. In an earlier statement, they said the victims included two children, and warned that more fatalities went unrecorded, as “their bodies could not be moved to the hospital because they were severely burned or torn to pieces in the bombing”. Since war began between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on 15 April, around 5,000 people have been killed, according to estimates from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data project. RFI

Khartoum ‘One Big Prison for Civilians’, People ‘Tortured to Death’ by Sudan Military Intelligence
The Emergency Lawyers documented a record number of detention centres inside wider Khartoum, mainly from the RSF, and lamented the “horrific escalation” of arbitrary arrests and torture. Some detainees even died as a result of the poor conditions and violations. In South Kordofan, three people were allegedly tortured to death inside the army’s Military Intelligence prisons. The Emergency Lawyers documented the presence of 47 detention centres affiliated with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and eight detention centres affiliated with the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in wider Khartoum. These are both temporary and permanent detention centres. In their report, the lawyers said that the capital, including Khartoum, Khartoum North (Bahri), and Omdurman, has “turned into one large prison for the remaining civilians there”. Arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and illegal detention in the prisons of the RSF and the SAF are reportedly ‘escalating horrifically’ and detainees are subjected to various forms of torture and cruel treatment, including starvation, sexual assault, and even death inside the detention centres, according to the legal group. Dabanga

Five Killed in ‘Terrorist’ Attack in Burkina Faso
Four Burkina Faso army auxiliaries and a Burkinabe policeman have been killed in an attack in the center of the country, the army announced Saturday, September 2. “Following an attack on Friday against a VDP position (Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland, civilian auxiliaries to the army) in the vicinity of Silmiougou,” police units were deployed as reinforcements, the army general staff said in a press release. “One police officer and four VDPs unfortunately lost their lives during the fighting,” the statement continued, adding that their forces had killed “around 10 terrorists” and forced them to retreat. … The apparent motive for the country’s two coups in recent years was anger at failures to stem a jihadist insurgency since it spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015. More than 16,000 civilians, troops and police have died in jihadist attacks, according to an NGO count, including more than 5,000 since the start of this year. Le Monde

Uganda Arrests 5 More, Recovers Explosives in Kampala Bomb Plot—Police
Ugandan police have arrested another five people and discovered five more explosives around the capital Kampala in a bombing plot linked to an Islamist rebel group, the force said. Based in the jungles of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) pledges allegiance to the militant movement Islamic State and has for years hit civilians and military targets in both Congo and Uganda. Ugandan authorities detained a first suspect with a bomb in a bag outside a packed church on Sunday, triggering a manhunt that led to a further five arrests and the retrieval of five more improvised explosive devices, police said. The bombs were safely detonated and items including nails, batteries and powder detonators were recovered, the police said in a statement late on Monday. Reuters

Tunisia Places Senior Official in Main Opposition Party under House Arrest
Tunisian authorities placed Abdel Karim Harouni, the senior official in the opposition Ennahda Islamist Party, under house arrest, the country’s main opposition coalition said on Saturday. Harouni heads the Shura Council, the highest-ranking body in Ennahda, which was the biggest political party in the parliament closed by President Kais Saied in 2021. The Salvation Front coalition said “the arbitrary decision” against Harouni was in the context of the arrest of leaders of Ennahda and the closure of its headquarters. The police this year arrested the party’s leader, Rached Ghannouchi, the most prominent critic of president, as well as several other party officials, including Noureddine Bhiri, Riadh Bettaib, Said Ferjani, Sahbi Atigue and Mohamed Ben Salem. The government also banned meetings at all Ennahda offices, and police closed all party offices, in a move Ennahda said aimed at consolidating a dictatorial regime. Reuters

Two Military Officers Are Arrested in Congo for Leading a Protest Crackdown that Killed 43 People
Two high-ranking military officers in northeast Congo were arrested Monday for taking part in a crackdown on protests last week that left 43 people dead and another 56 severely injured, authorities said. Interior Minister Peter Kazadi said police arrested Commanders Mike Mikombe and Donat Bawili, who respectively headed the Republican Guard unit and the Congolese armed forces regiment in Goma, the eastern city where the violence unfolded. Defense and security forces in the Central African nation used lethal force last Wednesday to repress planned anti-U.N. protests in the city. A government delegation arrived in Goma on Monday to hold hearings and other proceedings “to establish responsibility,” the interior minister said. … Advocacy group Human Rights Watch said Thursday that before the protests could take place, armed forces fired on Wazalendo demonstrators in the streets, kicking off an “apparent massacre” in the city. National authorities said 43 civilians died and 56 were badly hurt. The U.N. human rights office said more than 220 people were arrested in connection with the planned protests and the subsequent crackdown. AP

Nigerian Tribunal to Rule on Presidential Vote Challenge on Wednesday
A Nigerian election tribunal will on Wednesday deliver its ruling to petitions challenging the result of a presidential vote that brought Bola Tinubu to power, the court registrar said on Monday. The victory in February for Tinubu, of the All Progressives Congress, is disputed by his two main opponents. Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party and Peter Obi who came second and third in the race, respectively, challenged Tinubu’s victory in court on the basis of fraud claims. The tribunal, which started hearing in June, will give its ruling on Sept 6, the registrar said, adding that the judgment will be televised. Every election result has been contested since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, and none has been overturned by the courts, with the exception of the 2015 poll in which Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat to Muhammadu Buhari. … The main opposition parties have described the outcome of the election as fraudulent after a new technology that the electoral commission had promised would make the process more transparent malfunctioned, eroding trust. Reuters

Sweeping Win for Ruling Party in Ivory Coast Local and Regional Elections
Ivory Coast’s ruling party has secured a landslide win in local and regional elections, according to nearly complete results announced by the electoral commission Monday. Voting on Saturday was seen as an indication of support for the leading political groups two years ahead of presidential elections in the West African nation, a regional economic power and leading cocoa exporter. The president of the Independent Electoral Commission, Ibrahim Kuibiert, said on national television that the results had now been compiled for 30 out of 31 regions, and 199 municipalities out of a total of 201. … The almost-complete results show they had taken 34 municipalities and four regions, with the rest going to independent candidates. The elections were the first since former president Laurent Gbagbo returned to Ivory Coast in June 2021 after being acquitted by the International Criminal Court on human rights charges linked to post-electoral violence in 2011. … Monitoring group Aube Nouvelle (New Dawn) said it had registered some isolated altercations but overall the poll had gone smoothly — in stark contrast to three years ago, when contested presidential elections won by Alassane Ouattara saw violence spark that led to 85 deaths. Some candidates did complain, however, of irregularities — including in Abidjan’s largest and bellwether district of Yopougon. France24

200,000 Children at Risk of Starvation in Mali, Warn UN Agencies
A nexus of protracted armed conflict, internal displacement and limited humanitarian access threatens to plunge nearly one million children under the age of five into acute malnutrition by the end of this year – with at least 200,000 at risk of dying of hunger if life-saving aid fails to reach them, UN agencies said on Friday. This warning comes at a time when almost a quarter of Mali’s population is experiencing moderate or acute food insecurity, with over 2,500 individuals on the brink of famine in the crisis-affected Menaka region, including many vulnerable children. Senior humanitarian officials from UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Programme (WFP) visited the country this week to reaffirm their commitment to helping its people. Ted Chaiban, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director for Humanitarian Action, highlighted the urgent need for support. “Mali is going through a complex humanitarian crisis and needs urgent support to avert a disaster for children, who are again paying the highest price for a crisis not of their making,” he said. UN News

Billions Pledged for Green Energy as Africa Climate Talks Enter Second Day
The United Arab Emirates has pledged $4.5bn in clean energy investments in Africa at a landmark climate summit aimed at showcasing the continent’s potential as a green powerhouse. Kenyan President William Ruto has sought to use the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi to shift the narrative on the continent, presenting the clean energy transition as a unique opportunity for Africa – if it can attract the financing to realise its potential. On Tuesday, the conference saw its most significant pledge so far, with $4.5bn announced by the UAE, which will also host the COP28 summit in Dubai in November-December. Sultan al-Jaber, who heads the UAE’s national oil company ADNOC and government-owned renewable energy company Masdar, said the investment would “jumpstart a pipeline of bankable clean energy projects in this very important continent”. … The three-day Nairobi summit, which began on Monday, has attracted heads of state, government and industry, including leaders from Mozambique and Tanzania, as well as United Nations head Antonio Guterres, European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen and United States’ climate envoy John Kerry. It is billed as bringing together African leaders to define a shared vision for green development on the diverse continent of 1.4 billion and set the tone for a flurry of international diplomacy leading up to the COP28 meeting. But the continent faces steep challenges, particularly in the form of mounting debt costs and a dearth of finance. Despite an abundance of natural resources, just 3 percent of energy investments worldwide are made in the continent. Al Jazeera

Amnesty Finds Eritrean Troops ‘Committed War Crimes’ in Tigray after Peace Deal
Eritrean troops allied with Ethiopia’s government “committed war crimes and possible crimes against humanity” in Tigray, raping, enslaving and executing civilians for months after the signing of a peace agreement, Amnesty International said Tuesday. Dubbed the “North Korea” of Africa, Eritrea was sanctioned by the United States in 2021 after sending troops into Tigray in support of Ethiopia’s federal forces, with its soldiers accused of murder, rape and looting during the two-year war. The deal inked in November 2022 between Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan rebels called for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the region. But Eritrea was not a party to the agreement and its troops continue to be present in border areas, according to residents. Amnesty interviewed 49 people in May and June in the border districts of Mariam Shewito and Kokob Tsibah, corroborating their testimonies with satellite imagery as well as the accounts of social workers, medical experts and government officials. “Despite the signing of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, atrocities against civilians in Tigray continued with Eritrean soldiers subjecting women to horrific abuse including rape, gang rape and sexual enslavement, while civilian men were extrajudicially executed,” said Tigere Chagutah, Amnesty’s East and Southern Africa director. … Amnesty also documented the execution of 24 civilians, including one woman, between November 2022 and January 2023, citing interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, victims’ families and local officials. France24

Growing Influence of BRICS in East Africa through Arms Race
The Brics arms race, it turns out, is already playing out in eastern Africa as new data indicates that in 2021 and 2022, Uganda and Rwanda were the biggest importers of Russian arms, while Ethiopia and Tanzania sourced their military firepower from China. This is according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) arms transfer database. … The update studied arms transfers for the period 2008 — 2022, to see whether the trend of trading between Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — which until the formal admission of six new members constituted the Brics group — is also reflected in arms trade between themselves. According to Sipri, the Brics is an important economic bloc and trade between its members is growing. Data shows that Russia has remained the top supplier of arms to India in the last 14 years, while the Asian nation was also the number one export market for Russian arms exports. “However, Russia’s share fell from 78 percent in 2008-12 to 45 percent in 2018-22, while France, Israel and USA all gained ground,” the think tank explains. According to Sipri, China receives most of its major arms imports from Russia and was ranked the number two market for Russian arms exports in 2008-2022, but the Asian giant is becoming less reliant on arms imports, including from Russia as its domestic arms industry grows rapidly. East African

Taiwan’s President Tsai Begins Visit to Remaining Ally Eswatini in Southern Africa
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday began a four-day trip to Eswatini, one of the island’s 13 remaining allies. Tsai, who is serving her last year as president, is visiting the country of 1.1 million people in southern Africa to “celebrate the friendship between the two countries,” she said, as she departed Taiwan. Since Tsai took office in 2016, China has started putting pressure on countries that have a diplomatic relationship with Taiwan to switch their formal recognition from Taiwan to China. Beijing has successfully poached 9 countries, leaving Taiwan with just 13 countries that acknowledge its statehood. … China today demands its allies agree to its One China principle, which claims that Taiwan is a part of the People’s Republic of China. Tsai belongs to a political party that states Taiwan is already independent. “Diplomacy is the accumulation of step by step. Taiwan’s steps onto the globe not only will not stop,” she said. “We will continue forward more resolutely, with self confidence, to let the world see Taiwan’s steady and good power.” AP

First Round of Egypt, Ethiopia Nile Talks Stalemate
The two-day tripartite talks involving Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan in Cairo this week, over the controversial Nile dam, ended in a stalemate. But the three countries have scheduled a fresh round in September in Addis Ababa. After the session in Egypt, it turned out Egypt and Ethiopia have not climbed down from their irreducible minimums, making it a slim chance that the next talks will produce any positive results. The talks largely centred on how to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd) on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. In a statement to the media, Mohamed Ghanem, the spokesperson for Egypt’s Irrigation and Water Resources Ministry, said Ethiopia’s stance remains unchanged and negotiations have not brought anything new. Cairo maintains that their colonial of 1929 and 1959 Anglo-Egyptian agreements that gave them the veto powers must be respected. This is despite the 2010 Nile Basin Cooperative Frame Agreement (CFA) that gave upstream countries the power to share Nile waters. Ethiopia on the other hand argues that its Blue Nile contributes over 80 percent of the Nile waters and does not need permission to use its resources to provide power, irrigation, and drinking water to its people. In fact, it says the dam released the water back in the Nile once electricity is generated, in the end. … Observers were optimistic that the recent inclusion of the two countries into the membership of Brics+6 could open doors for cordial negotiations over the controversial Gerd that has been suspended for the last two years. East African

Somalis with Albinism: Pelted with Stones and Raw Eggs
Referring to the stigma he faces in Somalia because he has albinism, 25 year-old Elmi Bile Mohamed says: “People tell me I am a cannibal and that I will eat their children. They are terrified of me.” Mr Mohamed has struggled to find a place to live in the capital, Mogadishu, since leaving his rural home in the central region of Hiraan. His brothers also suffer from the condition. “We were continuously insulted and tortured by our community. We were beaten up and mocked for the pale colour of our skin, hair and eyes,” he says. … Mr Mohamed eventually found a job as a cleaner in a restaurant earning between $1.40 and $4 (£3) a day. It didn’t last long. He was fired after customers stopped going to eat there, saying they feared he would infect them with albinism even though it is not a contagious disease, rather a genetic condition. … “I cannot afford to buy sunglasses,” Mr Mohamed says. “There is so much dust and highly polluting traffic in the market where I beg. My eyes are constantly in agony and my sight is deteriorating rapidly.” … It is not clear how many people with albinism live in Somalia as there is no data available. … Earlier this year, about 80 families living with albinism in Mogadishu came together to form an association, Somali Albinos, which they hope will raise awareness about their plight and help reduce stigma. So far, they have been sent 86 bottles of sun cream from Somali women living in the diaspora. … Prejudice against people with albinism is so severe that children with the condition rarely get an education. BBC