Africa This Week: WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

THIS IS A RECAP OF STORIES THAT MADE THE HEADLINES ACROSS THE CONTINENT DURING WEEK.

MONDAY

D.R. CONGO

We began in Central Africa where more than 150 children have been separated from their families and over 170 children are feared to be missing as people fled the city of Goma.

This followed Saturday night’s Mount Nyiragongo’s eruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Thousands of residents from the Democratic Republic of Congo have sought refuge in Rwanda.

EGYPT

From Central to North Africa where a court in Egypt has denied a request made by EverGreen Marine, owners of the EverGiven, a ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March to have it released.

EverGreen Marine wanted the vessel to be released pending the determination of another case in which the Suez Canal Authority is seeking compensation for the six days of blockage.

The authority wanted the ship to be detained until a deposit of the compensation is paid.

It is seeking more than nine hundred million dollars in compensation from the Ever Given’s owner Shoei Kisen.

Authorities say the compensation covered the costs of freeing the ship, damages caused and diversion of ships from the canal.

MALI

In West Africa, staff of Mali’s prison service commence a 10-day strike expected to end on June 7.

Their protest aimed to pressure the country’s transitional authority to implement an MOU signed in December 2020.

Members of the country’s main trade union, the National Union of Malian Workers also commenced a nationwide strike last week to demand better pay.

SENEGAL 

Opposition leader Ousmane Sonko was barred from leaving the country to attend a conference.

He had been invited by economist Kako Nubukpo to participate in a convention on the future West African currency which will be held in the Togolese capital, Lome.

A court ruling by Judge Abdoulaye Assane Thioune denied Sonko permission to leave the country.

Sonko, a fierce critic of President Macky Sall has an ongoing rape case and was only released on condition that he remains within the country’s borders.

His arrest in March sparked protests across the country with his party saying the rape allegations are political.

COVID-19 UPDATES ACROSS AFRICA

African scientists said the next phase of the COVID-19 fight on the continent should place emphasis on enhanced surveillance and genomic sequencing to help identify new variants and limit the transmission of the virus.

The scientists stated this at a virtual forum organised by the Nairobi-based African Academy of Sciences.

The forum was convened to discuss evidence-based interventions to boost Covid-19 response on the continent.

Senior policymakers and researchers who participated in the forum recommend African improvement on surveillance, diagnosis, and modelling to enhance understanding of the pandemic and its impact on the economy.

WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY

The World Health Organisation referred to the ongoing vaccine crisis as a scandalous inequity. 

While WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus had earlier remarked that more cases have been reported so far this year than in the “whole of 2020,” and with current trends, “the number of deaths will overtake last year’s total in the next three weeks”, he seems pleased that for the three consecutive weeks he predicted, there have been continuous downturns in the number of cases and deaths reported. 

TUESDAY

AFRICA DAY

Africans across the world celebrated Africa Day 2021 on Tuesday May 25.

Governments across the continents urged Africans to use the day as an opportunity to recite the political and socio-economic achievements of African governments and African citizens.

MALI 

Mali’s Vice-President, Colonel Assimi Goita, removed the Interim President and Prime Minister because they violated the terms of the transition by not consulting him on cabinet changes.

This is Mali’s second coup in nine months.

Colonel Goita has pledged that elections will hold in 2022.

Last year, he led the coup against President Ibrahim Boubaca Keïta. 

He took up the post of vice-president in the interim administration that was meant to pave the way to a return to civilian rule.

In the meantime, the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, would dispatch a delegation to Mali to assess the situation in the country.

SUDAN

Sudan declared a state of emergency and imposed a night curfew in parts of the coastal Red Sea state, after tribal violence that killed at least five people.

Local medical official reported the clashes left at least five people dead and 13 wounded.

The clashes broke out in some areas in the city of Port Sudan.

Red Sea state, in eastern Sudan, has a history of deadly clashes between the Beni Amer and Nuba, even after leaders from the two tribes signed a peace agreement in 2019.

EGYPT/GUILIO REGENI   

Italian prosecutors on Tuesday asked a judge to put on trial four members of the Egyptian security forces in connection with the murder of an Italian student, Giulio Regeni who disappeared in Cairo five years ago. 

Egyptian authorities denied their officers were to blame for the killing, and it is unlikely they would be sent to Italy.

If the case goes ahead, the men would be tried in absentia.

The trial would draw international attention to what goes on in Egyptian detention centres, where human rights activists say there is constant, systematic use of torture.

ROBERT MUGABE

Still on Tuesday, a traditional court ruled that former president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe be exhumed and reburied at the country’s national shrine by July 1st.

The decision came following a hearing conducted in Zvimba, in the absence of the former president’s widow, Grace Mugabe, who is currently in Singapore.

In his ruling, Chief Stanley Mhondoro said the late Mugabe shall be exhumed and reburied at the National Heroes Acre in Harare within 30 days or before July 1, 2021. 

Former first lady, Grace Mugabe received a fine of five cattle and two goats to cover the costs of a cleansing ceremony, because Mugabe’s remains was buried inappropriately.

WEDNESDAY

MALI COUP   

Moving on now to Wednesday in West Africa where Mali’s Interim President, Bah Ndaw, and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane have resigned following their arrests by the Military on Monday.

The resignation was presented to Assimi Goïta, the transitional Vice President, during an emergency meeting with Nigeria’s former President Goodluck Jonathan and his delegation from the Economic Community of West African States.

Vice president Goïta is expected to become Transitional President following Bah N’Daw’s resignation. 

N’Daw and Ouane were forced from Bamako on Monday in what is the second coup in the Sahel nation in the past year.

CHAD   

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari  on Tuesday called for support for Chad to aid the peaceful transition from military to democratic government within the set 18 months.

He rallied development partners and France, the United States and the United Kingdom to support Chad’s transition regime.

SOUTH AFRICA   

South Africa’s former President, Jacob Zuma has pleaded not guilty to the allegations of corruption levelled against him. 

The plea by the former president led his supporters to gather outside Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday where his trial kicked off following multiple delays.

Zuma is accused of receiving bribes from a French arms manufacturer. He has always denied any wrongdoing and insists he has been a victim of political witch hunting and the nation’s courts are working for his political enemies.

Zuma is also facing fresh allegations of corruption and could be imprisoned for contempt of court in a separate matter.

UGANDA 

In East Africa, a Ugandan military court has released on bail 17 people detained five months ago during Presidential candidate Bobi Wine’s campaigns.

The Chairperson of the Court, Andrew Gutti, barred them from travelling outside the capital, Kampala, and Wakiso, a district that encircles it.

Each has been subjected to a non-cash bond of 20 million Ugandan shillings and those who stood as their sureties to a non-cash bond of 50m Ugandan shillings to be paid if they abscond.

ATHLETICS NIGERIA  

In Sports,Nigeria has agreed to step in to host the African Athletics Championships in the commercial capital Lagos.

This comes after Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, and the President of the Confederation of African Athletics, Kalkaba Malboum, met in Cairo, Egypt, to discuss moving the championships to the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos.

Algeria had been due to host the event but had asked for a postponement due to the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic.

The event will now be held between June23 and 27. 

THURSDAY

SOMALIA POLITICS

The Somali government announced that delayed elections would now hold within 60 days, following months of deadlock over the vote that erupted into violence in the troubled country.

In mid-April, the two-year extension mandate of President Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo expired on February 8th without elections leading to violent clashes in the capital.

In early May, Farmajo had tasked Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein to oversee that elections were held as soon as possible.

SECURITY IN NIGERIA

In Nigeria,President Mohammadu Buhari appointed Major General Farouk Yahaya as the new Chief of Army Staff. 

He replaced Lt. Gen. Ibrahim Attahiru, who died last week Friday alongside 10 other officers in a military air crash. 

Prior to his appointment Major General Yahaya was the General Officer Commanding Division 1 of the Nigerian Army and the incumbent Theatre Commander of the Counter Terrorism Counter Insurgency military outfit in the Northeast code-named Operation Hadin Kai.

MALI 

Mali’s coup leaders released interim President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane.

They were freed at about 1am local time on Thursday.

The two men had been held at a military camp since Monday.

The President and Prime Minister both announced their resignations after being stripped of their powers by the military in the second coup the West African nation has seen in nine months. 

CHILDREN’S DAY

Thursday was Children’s day celebration in Nigeria.

SOUTH AFRICA

Still on Thursday, former South African President, Jacob Zuma will have to find a million Rand to cover a hefty legal bill after the Constitutional Court dismissed a case that he brought challenging the creation of the country’s commission into State Capture. 

The former President’s lawyers were a no-show at the Constitutional Court leading to the court dismissing the case.

Zuma was also ordered to pay the legal costs in the case. 

This is now the third cost order against Zuma in this matter and the fees were estimated to be between 6-million and 10-millon rand. That’s between four-hundred and thirty seven thousand and seven hundred and twenty-nine thousand U.S. dollars. 

FRIDAY

ETHIOPIA

On Friday, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Ethiopia Catherine Sozi spoke against the mode of conduct of the Ethiopian military in the Tigray region especially during the unrest that plagued the region.

UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric called for an end to the arbitrary arrests and the need for human rights to be respected.

Dujarric used the opportunity to shed light on the humanitarian situation in Tigray harping on the need to tackle food shortage and depreciating health services in the region

SOUTH SUDAN

A two-day workshop which took place in South Sudan to create the framework for new legislation that will govern the constitution making process in South Sudan ended on Friday.

The workshop which is supported by regional partners is aimed at laying the foundations for free and fair elections to be held and also make way for the formation of a new constitution.

It came almost a decade later after South Sudan won its independence from its northern neighbour Sudan, in 2011 after a long and bloody war.  

D.R. CONGO

On Friday, the military governor of Congo’s North Kivu province, Lt. Gen. Constant Ndima Kongba, disclosed a that a new volcanic eruption could occur at any moment.

Tens of thousands of people are now fleeing the city of Goma and nearby towns in Eastern Congo fearing another volcanic eruption by Mount Nyiragongo, which spewed lava near the city last week.

Residents left the city carrying just a few belongings with them to seek shelter in Sake, Rutshuru and other places including neighbouring country, Rwanda.

The crisis caused by the volcano is not the only one in D.R. Congo, a country hit by violence among rebel groups and armed forces that every year takes the lives of hundreds of Congolese and leaves millions displaced.

COVID-19 AFRICA 

And finally on Friday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached over 4.7 million.

Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, reported the death toll from the pandemic stands at more than 129,000 while over 4.3 million patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.

South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt are the countries with the most cases in the continent.

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