Africa Media Review for September 8, 2020

Truck Bomb in Somalia Kills 3 and Wounds 3, Including a U.S. Soldier
Three Somali military officers were killed and two others injured along with an American service member in a bombing in southern Somalia on Monday, the authorities said, the latest example of a deadly insurgency that has continued to wreak havoc in the Horn of Africa nation. Officials in Jubaland State said an explosives-laden pickup truck exploded around 8 a.m. at a military outpost in the Jana Abdalle area in the Lower Juba region of southern Somalia. The attack came just days after Somali forces, with the support of American military personnel, reclaimed the area from the Somali terrorist group Al Shabab. The authorities said the area, about 37 miles from the port city of Kismayo, had been used by the group as a hub to raise funds by taxing and extorting civilians moving across the region. The New York Times

W. Africa Bloc Presses Mali Junta to Hand Power to Civilians
West African leaders warned Mali’s military junta on Monday they must designate civilian heads of state by next week to chart a path back to democracy or the country will face further sanctions from the regional bloc. The latest talks on the Mali crisis came after the 15-nation regional bloc known as ECOWAS met in neighboring Niger and tapped Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo as its new chairman. Mutinous soldiers forced Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign on Aug. 18 but no agreement has been reached on a transitional civilian leader or a time frame for a new election despite repeated talks with the junta. ECOWAS wants the process completed within a year and has set a Sept. 15 deadline for implementing a civilian president and prime minister, according to a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists. AP

Malian Soldiers Killed in Attack near Mauritania Border
At least 10 Malian soldiers have been killed in a night-time attack in the country’s west near its border with Mauritania. In Thursday’s attack, the biggest on the military since it staged a coup on August 18, the Malian army mission in Guire suffered deaths, injuries and material damage in the attack on Thursday, according to the Malian military’s Twitter account. “Reinforcements have been dispatched there,” it said. … The regional bloc, known as ECOWAS, has cut financial flows to Mali, and neighbouring countries have closed their borders in a bid to step up pressure on the coup leaders. Attacks on the army have continued, including one last week when four soldiers were killed and 12 others wounded in an ambush on an anti-poaching unit by fighters in central Mali about 25km (15 miles) from Konna, the military said. AP

Boko Haram Kill 10 Civilians in Northeast Nigeria
Boko Haram jihadists killed 10 civilians in attacks on three villages in restive northeast Nigeria, local security officials said Monday. Babakura Kolo, the leader of a government-backed anti-jihadist militia, told AFP the insurgents had carried out the assaults on Sunday. Kolo said they raided the village of Kurmari, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from regional capital Maiduguri, late Sunday, killing four residents as they slept. The attackers did not use guns so as not to attract troops in a nearby town, said another militia member Ibrahim Liman. The area has been the target for repeated suicide and gun attacks. The Defense Post

Tunisia Arrests 7 Suspects after Deadly Weekend Attack
Tunisian authorities say that they have arrested seven people suspected of involvement in a deadly weekend attack that left one security officer dead and another wounded. The attack occurred on Sunday in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse when the perpetrators rammed their vehicle into security officers and attacked them with knives. National guard spokesman Housameddine Jbabli said Monday on Radio Shems that seven suspects are being held by anti-terrorism authorities. The Islamic State group’s Amaq agency carried a brief claim of responsibility on Monday for the attack. It was unclear whether or not the claim was opportunistic. However, on Sunday, the spokesman for Tunisia’s judicial section of the counter-terrorism fight said the attackers were dressed in IS colors bearing slogans glorifying the terror organization. AP

First Famines of Coronavirus Era Are at World’s Doorstep, U.N. Warns
The first famines of the coronavirus era could soon hit four chronically food-deprived conflict areas – Yemen, South Sudan, northeast Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo – the top humanitarian official of the United Nations has warned. In a letter to members of the Security Council, the official, Mark Lowcock, said the risk of famines in these areas had been intensified by “natural disasters, economic shocks and public-health crises, all compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.” Together, he said, “these factors are endangering the lives of millions of women, men and children.” … In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where decades of conflict have worsened this year, Mr. Lowcock said 21 million people are living in “crisis or worse levels of food insecurity.” In the northeast Nigeria states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, which have been roiled for years by armed extremist militants, Mr. Lowcock said more than 10 million people – four of five – now require humanitarian assistance and protection. The New York Times

Burkina Faso: Over 535,000 Children under Five ‘Acutely’ Malnourished
New data from UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has revealed worsening nutritional situation for children in Burkina Faso, with more than 535,000 children under the age of five suffering from acute malnutrition – an unprecedented level. Among them, some 156,500 children are “severely” malnourished, leaving them nine times more likely to die than well-nourished children, according to UNICEF. “The aggravating factors causing the nutritional situation of children to deteriorate are primarily linked to the displacement of populations due to insecurity, reduced access to livelihoods and reduced access to health care and nutrition,” said James Mugaju, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Burkina Faso. “The coronavirus pandemic has had a brutal impact on households and their ability to provide for the basic needs of their children.” UN News

Southern Africa’s Hunger Upsurge Blamed on Climate, Covid-19
An estimated 45 million people in southern Africa are food insecure, with the number of people without access to adequate affordable and nutritious food up 10% from last year, the World Food Program said Monday. The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with climate change and the struggling economies of several countries, are the main causes of the food insecurity, said international aid organizations in a webinar organized by the Foreign Correspondents Assocition of Southern Africa. Zimbabwe is the worst affected country, with its number of food insecure people expected to reach 8.6 million by the end of this year, World Food Program director in southern Africa, Lola Castro, said. AP

Nigeria to Deliver Aid by Air in Conflict-Hit Northeast
Nigeria’s government plans to deliver humanitarian aid supplies by air to people in remote communities in parts of the northeast that have been ravaged by the decade-long Islamist insurgency spearheaded by Boko Haram. The insurgency, which since 2009 has killed around 35 000 people and forced two million people to flee their homes, has spawned one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. … Humanitarian affairs minister Sadiya Umar Farouk on Sunday told reporters in Maiduguri, capital of the conflict-ravaged Borno state, that Nigerian Air Force helicopters and planes would be used to drop food supplies and items such as blankets. Reuters

DRC’s Tshisekedi Invites Region’s Presidents to Peace, Security Summit
Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi has invited neighbours to a regional meeting in the eastern part of the country to discuss peace and security. President Tshisekedi’s office said he has invited Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Burundi’s Evariste Ndayishimiye and Angola’s Joao Lurenço to a summit in Goma, North Kivu Province, some 1500 km east of the capital Kinshasa. Jolino Makelele, the Minister of Communication and spokesperson for the Congolese government, said the meeting will focus on peace and security but also discuss relations among those countries. “This high-impact mini-summit will look at three themes – peace and security in the region, diplomatic and political relations among the states and the revival of economic activities in the current context of the fight against covid-19,” he said at the weekend. A meeting date has not been set but officials have rushed to finalise logistics as they await the leaders’ confirmation of attendance. The meeting is, however, expected to take place this week. The EastAfrican

Militia Enters City Unopposed in East Congo, Surrounds Prison
Around 100 heavily-armed rebel fighters entered the city of Bunia in eastern Congo with a police escort on Friday, in an apparent show of force in protest over their treatment during a continuing peace process. Wearing white headbands to distinguish each other, the fighters from the CODECO militia surrounded Bunia’s prison on Friday morning and demanded the release of their comrades. It was not immediately clear why security forces did not stop the group, which is accused by the United Nations of violence that may amount to war crimes, from entering the city. … A UN source said the CODECO fighters entered Bunia under escort from the national police. Videos circulating on social media showed Congolese soldiers holding back crowds of people as the fighters posed with guns and rocket launchers. No violence was reported. Reuters

Al-Burhan, Afeweri Discuss Security Cooperation between Eritrea and Sudan
Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sovereign Council and President Isaias Afwerki discussed the implementation of a bilateral security agreement between the two countries. Al-Burhan travelled to Asmara for a one-day working visit where he was received by Afwerki before to hold a meeting on bilateral matters. “Eritrea and Sudan have agreed on concrete measures that will be taken to implement comprehensive bilateral agreements reached in the economic, trade, security and military sectors as well as mechanisms and timelines for their commencement,” said the Eritrean information ministry after the visit. The two parties further “discussed regional issues of common concern, especially frameworks for cooperation in the security field,” said the Sovereign Council in a quoting Sudanese Chargé d’Affairs in Asmara Mahmoud Hamza. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Peace Agreement to Be Signed on October 2
The peace agreement between the Sudanese government and the members of the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance parties will be signed in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on October 2. Displaced in Central Darfur protested against the peace accord yesterday. The comprehensive peace agreement was signed in initials in Juba on August 31. Two days later, a joint committee of the two negotiating parties began preparing a matrix and time schedules for the implementation of the accord. The head of the South Sudanese mediation team, Tut Galuak, said at a press conference in Juba on Sunday that the official signing of the peace agreement is scheduled to take place on October 2. He added that he expects the committees to complete the implementation matrix today. Radio Dabanga

Veteran Guinea Opposition Leader to Challenge President Conde in October Election
Guinea’s veteran opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo accepted the nomination on Sunday of his UFDG party to challenge President Alpha Conde, who is seeking a third term in an Oct. 18 election despite protests from the opposition. Conde, 82, who defeated Diallo in a runoff in 2010, and won in the first round of the 2015 presidential election, pushed through a constitution amendment in a referendum in March that lifted a term-limit, allowing him to run again. Diallo, whose UFDG party had joined forces with other opposition parties to lead protests against the constitutional change, has said he does not recognise the new constitution. “To attain power, you have to participate in elections. The choice to go to an election when transparency and fairness are not guaranteed is not an easy one,” Diallo told supporters at the party convention, accepting the nomination. Reuters

Ethiopia Bars Journalists from Tigray Elections
Ethiopian authorities on Monday forcibly removed journalists from a plane heading to Mekele in northern Tigray region, ostensibly to prevent the coverage of a controversial election there. Reporters aboard an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa claimed security agents confiscated their identification documents and equipment, and removed other passengers from the plane on Monday morning. According to the Ethiopian Foreign Correspondents Association, a lobby for foreign journalists, members of the National Intelligence and Security Service took away passengers’ IDs and prevented them from flying. … Tigray Region, one of the ten ethnic-based autonomous regions, plans to hold local elections on Wednesday, despite the Federal Government, headed by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, postponing the national elections to March next year due to Covid-19. They had earlier been planned for August 2020. The EastAfrican

South Africa Booze, Tobacco Ban Created New Criminal Networks
South Africa could take years to dismantle the criminal networks that sprung up and benefited from a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products during the country’s coronavirus lockdown, according to the head of the tax agency. The ban, aimed at managing the health impact of the pandemic, has allowed illegal operators to gain a foothold in the market, South African Revenue Service Commissioner Edward Kieswetter said Monday in an online address to tax practitioners. Many illegal and criminal operators have now “marketed themselves to previously honest smokers and drinkers,” he said. “They are now embedded in the supply chain and it will take us years to reverse the impact.” Tobacco and liquor remained readily available through the black market from when the ban first kicked in with the nation’s coronavirus lockdown on March 27. Bloomberg

The Orphans of Angola’s Secret Massacre Seek the Truth
“My parents were last seen walking into the Ministry of Defence, hand in hand.”
That was more than 40 years ago, when João Ernesto Van Dunem was a three-month-old baby. He never saw his mother and father again. He does not know where or how they were killed. He does not know where they are buried. His parents – José Van Dunem, 27, and Sita Valles, 26 – together with other young Angolans, had accused the ruling elite of prioritising personal wealth and power over the good of the country. José Van Dunem, who was a senior military official, and a fellow MPLA central committee member, Nito Alves, who had been a government minister, led the criticism from within. This led to their expulsion. There are many versions of what happened next. … The result was bloodshed. Mr Neto called in loyal sections of the army, supported by Cuban troops, and the massacre began. Thousands, including many of the country’s young intellectuals and party activists, were imprisoned, tortured and killed. BBC

When Will Tourists Return to Africa? Continent Must Guess
Raino Bolz quickly diversified when his tourism business in South Africa’s winelands crashed to a halt in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. He sold a minibus – useless without tourists to ferry around – and bought a herd of pregnant cows. He’ll have to wait for the cows to have calves and for the calves to be old enough to sell before he can make money from them. That probably won’t be until early next year, but it’s his insurance policy. Bolz hopes to see a return of some tourists in November, the start of South Africa’s tourism season. If foreign visitors – 80% of his income – don’t arrive for end-of-year vacations, he’ll need the profit from his cattle to stay afloat. Africa will lose between $53 billion and $120 billion in contributions to its GDP in 2020 because of the crash in tourism, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates. Kenya expects at least a 60% drop in tourism revenue this year. South Africa a 75% drop. AP

Senegal’s Capital Gets Year’s Worth of Rain in Single Night
Thousands of people are homeless in Senegal’s capital on Monday after a weekend storm brought nearly a year’s worth of rainfall in a single day, turning roads into rivers. Video footage showed residents in the suburbs of Dakar wading through floodwaters up to their chests after the storm that began late Saturday in the West African nation, where at least six deaths were recorded nationwide. The government-run Le Soleil newspaper reported that some localities had seen as much rain Saturday as they normally do in a year. The suburb of Rufisque got more than 8 inches (21 cm) of rain in a single night. “We are tired. For the past two days, we have been underwater,” lamented Amdy Mbaye from his flooded home in the hard-hit suburb of Keur Massar. “The situation is out of control. We need the state to help us.” Senegalese authorities said they had launched an emergency plan, allowing for funds to be released quickly so that rescue teams can be mobilized to help evacuate residents. AP



Photo: Adam Jones