Africa news roundup 30 April to 6 May

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A flag map of Africa (image:courtesy of open clipart-vectors from Pixabay)


Health Services signs MOU with French Embassy

The agreement will provide additional support to the country for scientific research into the most appropriate way to implement secondary prevention of cervical cancer among women living with HIV. The €2.8 million grant, which was made possible through Expertise France to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), will also support the country’s response against diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

The agreement between the two countries was signed in Accra, Ghana last Thursday.  Director-General of the GHS Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye signed on behalf of the beneficiaries, while the Head of Cooperation at the French Embassy in Ghana Julien Lecas signed for his country. “We at the French Embassy in Ghana are very pleased to be able to officially launch the two programmes funded by L’Initiative to strengthen and evaluate the quality of health services by the GHS on one hand. And on the other hand, it is also aimed at supporting the secondary prevention of cervical cancer among women living with HIV through the NMIMR,” Lecas said. Kuma-Aboagye said the grant was offered through a community scorecard initiative by the Ghana Health Service. According to him, the grant would help extend the scorecard implemented to include HIV and tuberculosis.


NNPP expels state chairmen

The Ogun and Delta states’ chairmen of the New Nigeria People’s Party, Sunday Oginni Olaposi and Efe Tobor, have been expelled by the national leadership of the party. Oginni, who has been at the centre of controversies on financial irregularities and other questionable conduct, especially following the last gubernatorial elections in the state, was expelled today in Abuja. Dr Agwo Major, national publicity secretary of the party, announced the expulsion.

According to Major, Oginni’s expulsion alongside his Delta State counterpart, Dr Efe Tobor, had been brought about as a result of anti-party activities. He described the development as disheartening. He said Oginni was among members of the party who openly aligned with other parties in the last election. “You will agree with me that no party worth its salt will condone such misdemeanour. Unfortunately, some states chairmen and their executives were accused of a plethora of wrongdoings which negated their oath of office. Major also added that while the Edo State chairman appeared before the Disciplinary Committee, the Delta State chairman, Chief Efe Tobor and his Ogun State counterpart, Comrade Sunday Olappsi Ogini, failed to appear on the two occasions on which they were invited.

South Africa

Police force apologizes for leaked names of rape victims

National Police Commissioner, General Fannie Masemola, has issued a public apology to the victims of the Krugersdorp attack in which eight women were raped in July 2022. The apology from the authorities follows the public release of personal information of the eight women that included their names, age and addresses.

The personal information of the victims had been disclosed on the police WhatsApp groups, which found their way to social media. The South Africa Police Service said it regretted the disclosure of such personal information and apologised to the victims for the information breach and the hardship caused as a result.


Pastor Mackenzie to face terrorism charges

Two pastors based in coastal Kenya have appeared in court over the deaths at least 110 of their congregants, many of whom are believed to have starved to death. Self-proclaimed pastor, Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, who set up the Good News International Church in 2003 and is accused of inciting followers to starve to death “to meet Jesus”, appeared in the dock in Malindi. He will face terrorism charges over the deaths of more than 100 people found buried in what has been dubbed the “Shakahola forest massacre,” prosecutors said.

The small courtroom was packed with relatives of victims as Mackenzie, dressed in a pink and black jacket and brown trousers, was brought in by about half a dozen police officers along with eight other defendants. More than 100 bodies have been exhumed from dozens of mass graves on his property within Kilifi County. Children are believed to be among the dead, but it is unclear how many, as some of the bodies are in poor condition. Autopsies on 40 of the bodies found on Mackenzie’s property revealed that the causes of death ranged from starvation to strangulation and suffocation.


New LFA headquarters unveiled

Following the refurbishment of the Stade Antoinette Tubman Stadium, which was completed last September, the Liberia Football Association (LFA) opened its new headquarters in the capital, Monrovia, on Friday 28 April. The project was funded by FIFA Forward, one of the most ambitious development programmes in the world of sport, which is now entering its third phase. The organisation also provided logistical support and human resources through its regional office in Dakar. “It’s an important step and we can only be grateful and say a big thank you to Gianni Infantino and his team,” said President George Weah. “We will keep working together to take Liberian football to the next level”, he added.

“I worked with FIFA before becoming president and I am continuing to support their work today because I know what FIFA is capable of”, Weah added. “I must express, therefore, my most sincere gratitude to Gianni Infantino, who is passionate about football and wants to see the countries of Africa keep pace with the rest of the world in terms of their development. We are proud and happy to work alongside FIFA and I would like to congratulate Mustapha Raji the president of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) and his team for successfully completing this next step.” The new head office, which cost USD 1.5m, is the first to be owned by the LFA since its foundation in 1936 and will act as the nerve centre of Liberian football. As well as providing administrative services and hosting refereeing activities, it will serve as a venue for all national team training camps in every age group.

Sierra Leone

Electoral commission approves Bio’s candidacy ahead of elections

The Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) has approved President Julius Maada Bio’s candidacy for the June general elections as he seeks a second term. The ECSL, on Tuesday, also approved the main opposition party’s nominee Samura Kamara, the runner-up in the last presidential vote in 2018. He lost to Bio, a former military ruler who had lost a presidential bid four years earlier. Bio’s first term was marred by economic hardship and rampant inflation in a country still recovering from the 2014 Ebola outbreak before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

72-year-old Kamaru said Sierra Leone told the press this week that there were “systemic challenges. Sierra Leone still cannot feed itself, we cannot light up the country. We cannot have sustainable progressive economic development, economic growth no serious infrastructure”. Meanwhile, 58-year-old Bio said he intended to continue his push to improve access to public education, which he made free at the primary and secondary levels during his first term and boost agricultural production to improve food security. Voters in June will also elect members of Parliament, mayors and local councilors. This election will be the fifth since Sierra Leone’s brutal 10-year civil war ended in 2002.


UNDP unveils new country Rep.

Binta Sanneh is the UNDP’s new resident representative in Togo. She officially stepped into the position on May 2, 2023, in Lomé. Sanneh took over from Aliou Dia. The new representative has been working at the UN organization for almost 15 years. She was in Guinea Bissau, Burundi, and Chad. An MBA holder, Binta Sanneh is from Gambia. An expert in international development, she is committed to gender equality, inclusion, and environmental sustainability. In Togo, she will monitor all of the UNDP’s activities and projects, making sure the organization efficiently contributes to Togo’s development goals.

In recent years, the UNDP has increased its investments in Togo, especially in the following areas: education, youth employment, environment, digitalization, inclusion, gender, and community development. Now, Sanneh will reinforce the cooperation between the organization of the government, with a focus on inclusive economic growth, creating jobs for the youth, and reducing poverty. She is also expected to address the issue of strengthening the ties between the UNDP, civil society, and the private sector.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso alleges violation of air space

Burkina Faso’s defence minister, on Wednesday, denounced what he said was an “international coalition” lined up against his country and alleged there had been violations of the country’s air space. The country’s intelligence agency said an April massacre of civilians – which some rights groups have blamed on the army – was carried out by Jihadist fighters dressed as soldiers. Colonel Kassoum Coulibaly, appointed by the military junta running the country, echoed the denials by the new regime’s leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore, that the Russian mercenary force Wagner was operating there. “A lot of people think it’s the Russians who are guiding us,” said Coulibaly. “But the Burkinabe aren’t children”. He insisted that Russia was not setting the rules, and “gives us nothing”. It was the people of Burkina Faso who were contributing to the war effort against the Jihadist insurgency in the country, he said. “There is no Wagner here.”

Coulibaly was speaking in Ouagadougou at a meeting with union representatives and leaders of other civil society groups. He suggested that the international coalition aligned against the country – the members of which he did not identify – was responding to the country’s closer ties with Russia since the coup last September that brought the military to power. But the country only asked for what it needed. “We don’t need anyone to send us a single foreign soldier. We have our VDP”, he added, referring to the Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP), an auxiliary force.

Ivory Coast

Former first Lady asks for forgiveness

The former First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, Simone Gbagbo, asked “forgiveness” from the victims of several violent political crises (center) on Sunday, a few months before regional and local elections and two years from the presidential election. “I once again want to ask for forgiveness from the whole nation and from all those who suffered terrible suffering, who lost parents, jobs and were forced into exile,” she said in Bouaké, a stronghold of the armed rebellion that attempted in 2002 to overthrow the regime of former president, Laurent Gbagbo, her ex-husband. The rebellion, made up of militias, had taken control of the country’s northern half for several years. “I grant my forgiveness to all those who have caused harm to the Ivorian nation and to my person, to my relatives and to his political family”, she said. “I urge all the political leaders of Côte d’Ivoire to follow me in this exercise”, she continued, in front of thousands of activists and sympathizers of her party, the Movement of Capable Generations (MGC).

Also present were representatives of the ruling Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la democratie et la paix (RHDP), and the main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire – African Democratic Rally (PDCI-RDA). Simone Gbagbo demanded, in addition, the return of the leader of the 2002 rebellion, Guillaume Soro, now in exile and sentenced to life imprisonment by Côte d’Ivoire in June 2021 in connection with an attempted insurrection in 2019. According to her, it was in the “interest” of Côte d’Ivoire ” that he returns to the country and that he has the opportunity to participate in the process of national reconciliation” initiated by the current head of the State Alassane Ouattara. She specified that she “did not approve” of Soro’s “role” during the 2002 crisis, but that she “forgave” him. Sentenced in 2015 in Côte d’Ivoire to 20 years in prison for “undermining state security”, for acts related to the post-electoral crisis of 2010-2011, Simone Gbagbo benefited from the national reconciliation process by an amnesty law in 2018.


Separatists stage attack near Douala

Authorities in Cameroon say anglophone rebels have attacked military posts near the country’s port city of Douala, killing several people. The attack is the closest the separatist conflict has come to Douala since fighting broke out in 2017. Officials in Cameroon say at least 15 heavily armed rebels attacked a military post in Matouke, a farming village less than 40 kilometers west of Douala, on Monday. Officials say the separatists killed at least six people and wounded many others without giving a figure.

The government said it is yet to confirm the identities of victims, but rebels and villagers said they killed five troops and a civilian.  Samuel Dieudonne Ivaha Diboua, governor of Cameroon’s Littoral region, which includes Matouke and Douala, said he visited the injured in a military hospital Monday night. Diboua said both the military and civilians will not accept separatists extending attacks and disorder to Douala, an economic hub in Central Africa. He said the military presence has been increased on the border between Cameroon’s Littoral region and the English-speaking Southwest region, where the fighters came from. He said civilians have been mobilized to denounce suspected fighters in their towns and villages.


One death record due to Congo fever

One person has been reported dead in Senegal of Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever, a viral disease transmitted by ticks. A butcher on duty at the Dakar slaughterhouse was declared ill on April 21 and died on April 22, Dr Boly Diop, coordinator of the fight against Congo fever at the health ministry, told AFP. “It was a single case. We then carried out investigations in the family, professional and health environments (of the victim) because the disease is contagious. The contact cases were identified, and we followed them up. All the samples came back negative” added Diop. This fatal case is the first recorded in Senegal this year. The country has had five cases of Congo fever in 2022, including one death, Diop said.

Congo disease is a zoonosis. Transmission to humans of this haemorrhagic fever occurs “either through tick bites or through contact with blood or tissues of infected animals, during or immediately after slaughter”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The majority of cases are found among people working in the livestock sector, farmers, slaughterhouse employees and veterinarians, according to a fact sheet from the Senegalese Ministry of Health. Between humans, transmission of the disease “can occur following direct contact with blood, secretions, organs or biological fluids of infected subjects”, according to the WHO. The haemorrhagic fever virus causes death in 10 to 40 per cent of cases.


Death toll in Rwanda’s floods rises

The number of victims in Rwanda’s floods has risen to at least 127. Torrential rains swept through the western, southern and northern provinces destroying homes and causing landslides. According to Rwandan authorities, most of the deaths occurred in the western province bordering Lake Kivu. Rwanda’s minister in charge of emergency management, Marie Solange Kayisire, announced that emergency relief was already on the way.

The Red Cross reported that, six people died in the west of Uganda when landslides struck their homes after days of torrential rain. Experts say extreme weather events are happening with increased frequency and intensity due to climate change. Last month, at least 14 people died after heavy rains triggered floods and landslides in southern Ethiopia.

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