Tuesday, January 25, 2022

ECOWAS "Blamed" for Current Unrest in Burkina Faso

Demonstrators gather in Ouagadougou to show support to the military while holding and waiving a Russian flag on October 25, 2022. In the aftermath of the coup d'etat in Burkina Faso

By Kwabena Adu Gyamfi

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has been partly blamed for the current unrest in Burkina Faso and other parts of the Sahel region in recent months.

In an interview with Africanews, the executive director for Africa Center for Security and Counter-terrorism Emmanuel Kotin says ECOWAS is becoming dysfunctional in the discharge of its duties.

“They need to have a second look at its role within these countries. They need to engage more, they need to dialogue more, the need to strengthen their governance and security institutions and they don’t only need to act when situations of this nature happens because they don’t happen out of the blues.” Mr. Kotin He said.

Soldiers in Burkina Faso on Monday January 24, announced on state television that they have seized power following a mutiny.

The president was arrested and detained at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks, along with the head of parliament and ministers, according to security sources.

Before this attempted coup in Burkina Faso, there had been successful coups in Chad, Mali, Guinea and failed military takeovers in Niger and Sudan.

“If care is not taking, the ECOWAS region risks the tsunami of Coup d’Etat…and what ECOWAS and the AU at large is trying to do is to impose none effective sanctions, what they need to do is to engage more with the government and listen to the concerns of the people.” Mr Kotin said.

A study by two US researchers, Jonathan Powell and Clayton Thyne, has identified over 200 such attempts in Africa since the late 1950s. About half of these have been successful.

The current unrest happened at a time when French soldiers were on a mission in Burkina Faso where Four French soldiers were wounded in an improvised explosive device blast in northern Burkina Faso over the weekend according to a report by the AFP.

In June last year, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a major reduction in the Barkhane mission to refocus on counter-terrorism operations and supporting local forces.

“There should be a strategic plan, if the foreign occupations really want to help the local forces to be able to fight these terrorists and the best way to go is to build the local security forces… by training them and giving them the tools to deliver the training. “ Mr Kotin explained.

Burkina Faso has been struggling with jihadist attacks since 2015, when militants linked to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group began mounting cross-border raids from Mali.

More than 2,000 people have died, according to an AFP toll.

Recent cases in the Sahel region are just few of the many coups on the continent, making it arguable the continent with the most coups.

Sierra Leone experienced three coups between 1967 and 1968, and another one in 1971. Between 1992 and 1997, it experienced five further coup attempts.

Burundi's history has been marked by eleven separate coups, mostly driven by the tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi communities.

Ghana has also had its share of military coups, with eight in two decades. The first was in 1966, when Kwame Nkrumah was removed from power, and in the following year there was an unsuccessful attempt by junior army officers.

But do these military take overs always achieve the necessary results?

“The military takeover is not going to solve the real driving forces off the conflict. Unemployment, lack of youth entailment to their citizenship and lack of security for the ordinary Burkinabe. “

Burkina Faso Coup: How President Kabore's Ouster Unfolded

Captain Sidsoré Kader Ouedraogo, spokesman for the junta, delivering the coup announcement on state TV on Monday

Africa News with AFP

Here's a look at the events in Burkina Faso, where the military announced Monday that it had seized power.

Incidents in demonstrations

On Saturday, January 22, 2022, incidents broke out in Ouagadougou and other cities in Burkina Faso between the forces of order and demonstrators who once again defied a ban on gathering to protest against the powerlessness of the authorities in the face of the jihadist violence that has ravaged the country since 2015.

Sometimes mixed with inter-communal clashes, jihadist violence has killed more than 2,000 people in the past six years and forced 1.5 million to flee their homes.

Gunfire in barracks

On Sunday, January 23, shots rang out in several barracks in the country: in the Sangoulé Lamizana camp, west of Ouagadougou, in the Baba Sy military camp, south of the capital, at the airbase near the airport, as well as in the barracks of Kaya and Ouahigouya (north).

Camp Sangoulé houses the prison where General Gilbert Diendéré, a close associate of former President Blaise Compaoré who was overthrown in 2014, is being held. Sentenced to 20 years in prison for an attempted putsch in 2015, General Diendéré is currently on trial for his alleged role in the 1987 assassination of former president Thomas Sankara.

The government of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré acknowledges the shooting, but denies "a takeover by the army."

The government claims that institutions are not threatened "for the moment. Since mid-January, several soldiers have been detained for allegedly "attempting to destabilize institutions.

Headquarters of ruling party burned

Mobile internet is cut off.

Mutinists' supporters set fire to the headquarters of the ruling party in Ouagadougou, before being dispersed by the police.

Outside the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks, some forty soldiers fired into the air near several hundred jubilant supporters.

The perimeter around the airbase barracks was also cordoned off by hooded soldiers firing into the air.

Demands of the mutineers

The mutinous soldiers are demanding the "replacement" of the army chiefs, "adapted means" in the fight against jihadist groups, as well as better care for the wounded", according to an audio recording sent to AFP. However, they did not demand the departure of the president.

In the afternoon, discussions took place between representatives of the mutineers and the Minister of Defense.

Curfew, schools closed

On the evening of 23, the president decreed a curfew. The Ministry of Education announced that schools would remain closed for the next two days.

Shooting near the President's residence

At the end of the day, gunfire was heard near the president's residence, as well as in the Sangoulé Lamizana and Baba Sy military camps.

President Arrested by Soldiers

On Sunday 24, soldiers took up position in front of Radio Télévision du Burkina (RTB).

The president was arrested and detained at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks, along with the head of parliament and ministers, according to security sources.

But, according to a government source, the president was "exfiltrated" from his residence on Sunday evening by gendarmes of his guard "before the arrival of armed elements who fired on the vehicles of his convoy.

On Mr. Kaboré's Twitter account, a message posted on Monday called on "those who have taken up arms to lay them down in the best interests of the nation.

The African Union (AU) strongly condemned the "coup attempt" while Kaboré's party denounced an "aborted assassination attempt" on the president.

The EU and the United States called for the release of President Kaboré.

Military announce they have taken power

Uniformed soldiers announced on national television that they had taken power, pledging a "return to constitutional order" within "a reasonable time.

A captain read a communiqué from Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who also announced the closure of borders, the dissolution of the government and the National Assembly, and the suspension of the constitution.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "strongly" condemned the military "coup" and called on the perpetrators "to lay down their arms" and protect the "physical integrity" of the president.

Hundreds March in Burkina Faso to Show Support for New Junta

By SAM MEDNICK

A man holds a portait of Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba who has taken the reins of the country in Ouagadougou Tuesday Jan. 25, 2022. people took to the streets in Burkina Faso to rally in support of the new military junta that ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and seized control of the country.(AP Photo/Sophie Garcia)

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital Tuesday in a show of support for the new military-led junta that ousted democratically elected President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and seized control of the country.

Days of gunfire and uncertainty in Ouagadougou ended Monday evening when more than a dozen soldiers on state media declared that the country is being run by their new organization, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration.

“Today’s events mark a new era for Burkina Faso. They are an opportunity for all the people of Burkina Faso to heal their wounds, to rebuild their cohesion and to celebrate what has always made us who we are: integrity,” said Capt. Sisdore Kaber Ouedraogo.

On Tuesday, Ouagadougou was packed with people cheering, singing and dancing and there were reports of celebrations in other parts of the country. The coup came after several demonstrations were held against the Kabore government which was criticized for its ineffective response to Islamic extremist violence.

“I’m happy to be here this morning to support the junta in power. We wish that terrorism be eradicated in the months or the years to come,” said Salif Kientga who was at the rally in the capital.

Some supporters waved Malian and Burkina Faso flags and held up photos of Mali’s junta ruler, Col. Assimi Goita, beside Burkina Faso’s new leader, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, saying that military rule was the only way to pull both countries out of crisis. Others chanted “Down with ECOWAS,” the West African regional bloc that recently sanctioned Mali for delaying elections and which has also condemned the military takeover in Burkina Faso.

The junta closed the borders, imposed a curfew, suspended the constitution and dissolved the government and parliament and said it would return Burkina Faso to constitutional order, but did not specify when. The soldiers said the overthrown president is safe, but did not reveal where he is being held. A publicly circulated resignation letter signed by Kabore said that he was quitting his office in the best interest of the country.

The coup comes after months of growing frustration at the Kabore government’s inability to stem a jihadist insurgency that’s wracked the country, killing thousands and displacing 1.5 million people. However, it’s unclear what might change under the new junta, as the ill-equipped military has struggled to battle the jihadists linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.

“A simple change in leadership is unlikely to turn the tide,” said Constantin Gouvy, a Burkina Faso researcher who works for the Netherlands-based Clingendael Institute. “If they choose to redouble military efforts, the coup leader, Damiba, has gained experience in a key military leadership position as the commander of the country’s 3rd military region ... But a change in leadership is likely not enough on its own to reverse the deteriorating trend we’ve been seeing. Burkinabe forces are generally ill-equipped to fight this war.”

While not much is known about the new leaders, they appear young and are said to be mid-ranked officers. The new apparent leader, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba, is a published author in his early 40s and was recently promoted by Kabore.

One mutinous soldier who insisted on anonymity for his security told The Associated Press that younger officers who had experienced war should run the country, rather than older ones who had never used their guns outside of military training, in a nation that had never previously seen fighting. He said the younger men might not have governance experience but they could learn. The junta is now meeting with religious and community leaders as well as the previous government to discuss a way forward, he said.

To some in Burkina Faso, the soldiers’ youth is one of the reasons they believe they’ll be able to succeed.

“If you look at those who have taken power they seem to be younger and we hope they will bring younger ideas, bring better ideas than we have seen up until now,” said Aliou Ouedraogo, a resident of Ouagadougou.

Meanwhile, the international community has condemned the takeover.

The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS, demanded that the soldiers return to their barracks and urged dialogue with the authorities to resolve the issues. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on coup leaders to put down their arms.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron, said he stands by ECOWAS in condemning the coup and that his priority is seeing that Kabore is safe and keeping the situation calm. He said France is monitoring the situation closely. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasan, said she “deeply deplores” the military takeover and called on the military to immediately release Kabore and other high-level officials who have been detained.

The U.S. State Department said it was deeply concerned by events in Burkina Faso, calling for restraint by all actors, adding that it would be carefully reviewing the events on the ground for any potential impact on assistance.

“We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to deescalate the situation, prevent harm to President Kabore and any other members of his government in detention, and return to civilian-led government and constitutional order,” said a statement from department spokesman Ned Price issued late Monday. “We acknowledge the tremendous stress on Burkinabe society and security forces posed by ISIS and JNIM but urge military officers to step back, return to their barracks, and address their concerns through dialogue.”

Soldiers Declare Military Junta in Control in Burkina Faso

By SAM MEDNICK

A Save Burkina Faso movement supporter holds a Burkina Faso flag after it was announced that Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba has taken the reins of the country in Ouagadougou Monday Jan. 24, 2022. More than a dozen mutinous soldiers declared Monday on state television that a military junta now controls Burkina Faso after they detained the democratically elected president following a day of gun battles in the capital. (AP Photo/Sophie Garcia)

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — More than a dozen mutinous soldiers declared Monday on state television that a military junta had seized control of Burkina Faso after detaining the democratically elected president following a day of gunbattles in the capital of the West African country.

The military coup in a nation that was once a bastion of stability was the third of its kind in the region in the last 18 months, creating upheaval in some of the countries hardest hit by Islamic extremist attacks.

Capt. Sidsore Kaber Ouedraogo said the Patriotic Movement for Safeguarding and Restoration “has decided to assume its responsibilities before history.” The soldiers put an end to President Roch Marc Christian Kabore’s presidency because of the deteriorating security situation and the president’s inability to manage the crisis, he said.

It was not immediately known where Kabore was, and the junta spokesman said only that the coup had taken place “without any physical violence against those arrested, who are being held in a safe place, with respect for their dignity.”

A soldier in the mutiny, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of situation, told The Associated Press that Kabore had submitted his resignation.

The new military regime said it had suspended Burkina Faso’s constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. The country’s borders were closed, and a curfew was in effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Ouedraogo said that the country’s new leaders would work to establish a calendar “acceptable to everyone” for holding new elections without giving further details.

After the televised announcement, crowds took to the streets, cheering and honking car horns in support of the takeover. People hoped that the coup would ease the devastation they have endured since jihadist violence spread across the country.

“This is an opportunity for Burkina Faso to regain its integrity. The previous regime sunk us. People are dying daily. Soldiers are dying. There are thousands of displaced,” said Manuel Sip, a protester in downtown Ouagadougou. The army should have acted faster in ousting the president, he said.

After the overthrow of strongman Blaise Compaore in 2014, several people told the AP they no longer cared if they had a democratically elected leader. They just wanted to live in peace.

The communique read aloud on state broadcaster RTB was signed by the country’s apparent new military leader, Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba. He sat beside the spokesman without addressing the camera during the announcement.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on coup leaders to lay down their arms. He reiterated the U.N.’s “full commitment to the preservation of the constitutional order” in Burkina Faso and support for the people in their efforts “to find solutions to the multifaceted challenges facing the country,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

The U.N. chief said the military takeover was part of “an epidemic of coups around the world and in that region.”

The U.S. State Department in a statement expressed deep concern about the dissolution of the government, suspension of the constitution and the detention of government leaders. “We condemn these acts and call on those responsible to deescalate the situation, prevent harm to President Kaboré and any other members of his government in detention, and return to civilian-led government and constitutional order,” spokesperson Ned Price said.

In a statement, Kabore’s political party accused the mutinous soldiers of trying to assassinate the president and another government minister and said the presidential palace in Ouagadougou remained surrounded by “heavily armed and hooded men.”

The coup “is a signal of frustration and exasperation on the heels of a growing struggle to stem the threat of militants, cope with the degraded security structure, and an attempt to restore faith in the institution of the military,” said Laith Alkhouri, CEO of Intelonyx Intelligence Advisory, which provides intelligence analysis.

Gunfire erupted early Sunday when soldiers took control of a major military barracks in the capital. In response, civilians rallied in a show of support for the rebellion but were dispersed by security forces firing tear gas. On Monday, groups of people celebrated again in the streets of the capital after reports of Kabore’s capture.

Kabore was elected in 2015 after the popular uprising that ousted Compaore. Kabore was reelected in November 2020, but frustration has been growing at his inability to stem the jihadist violence. Attacks linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group have killed thousands and displaced more than an estimated 1.5 million people.

The military has suffered losses since the extremist violence began in 2016. In December, more than 50 security forces were killed and nine more died in November.

Mutinous soldiers told the AP that the government was out of touch with troops. Among their demands are more forces in the battle against extremists and better care for the wounded and the families of the dead.

About 100 military members have planned the takeover since August, according to one of the mutinous soldiers.

The West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS said in a statement that it was following events in Ouagadougou with “great concern.” The bloc has already suspended Mali and Guinea over military coups. Those coup leaders appear in no hurry to return their countries to civilian rule.

Burkina Faso has also seen its share of coup attempts and military takeovers, although it experienced a period of relative stability under Compaore, who ruled for 27 years until his ouster in 2014.

In 1987, Compaore came to power by force. And in 2015, soldiers loyal to him attempted to overthrow the transitional government put into place after his ouster. The army was ultimately able to put the transitional authorities back in power, who led again until Kabore won an election and took office.

___

Associated Press writers Krista Larson and Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.

African American Solidarity with Ethiopia Unwavering

January 25, 2022 

BY BETHLEHEM BEDLU

ADDIS ABABA- Solidarity with Ethiopia is deeply rooted among all blacks in the world, not only the blacks in Africa, but also Afro-Americans since the times of Marcus Garvey, according to acclaimed ex-diplomat Mohamed Hassan (Professor).

The former diplomat claimed in an article published in The International Magazine that African-Americans are not idle audiences of Western intervention against Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa at large. They see the attack on Ethiopia as an attack against all blacks, including those living in the U.S.

Every attack against Ethiopia yesterday and today increases the Afro-Americans antagonism with the U.S. government. “Today our media are announcing that Ethiopia wants to carry out genocide against the Tigrayans. In actual fact; Ethiopian does not want that; and no African believes that. The majority of Tigrayans would be better off with the disappearance of the TPLF. That is what will happen.”

Mohammed further highlighted that all propaganda and attempts to divide the peoples of Ethiopia and the Horn no longer works, adding that joining this anti-Ethiopia campaign would be very unwise. A victory for the TPLF is unachievable and the faction has become unacceptable to all Africans.

As to him, many African-Americans who traditionally voted for the democrats supported Donald Trump. Trump understood that he had to keep his hands off the Horn of Africa and had given Abiy a chance. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden wants to reconquer the Horn.

“Africa is portrayed in the West as ‘a vessel of misery.’ The truth is that Africa has been changing course for some time. Nigeria, for example, is rich. Many of her cadres, as well as those of other African countries, are competent. Development is increasing. Africa is entering into endless joint ventures with China, Indonesia, India, and Turkey.”

Moreover, the attitude of ‘playing the servant’ to the former colonial powers is over. The roles are gradually being reversed. In Britain today, 28,000 African doctors and nurses work. Without them, healthcare in the U.K. would cease to exist. So, the British are obliged to show some respect to Africans.

The ex- diplomat pointed out that there are at least 10 million Africans who have one million euros and often more in their own capital. The large African cities can easily stand comparison with European cities. Agriculture is developing with modern production methods and crops. This frustrates the West. “They do not really want to face this development.”

“The African Diaspora gives far more aid to Africa than the IMF, the World Bank and all the NGOs put together. On the other hand, the Western hegemony is over that the people of the world have understood much better than the people in the West, what the defeat in Afghanistan means.”

By the same token, the West’s ability to intervene in Africa is limited and their attempts in Sudan and the campaign in Egypt against the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam at the request of the U.S., is mainly for internal use in Egypt and to maintain President el-Sisi’s regime.

“The US wants to oust Abiy from power in Ethiopia as well as break the tight unity between Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia. It cannot and will not succeed. All African countries, even Félix Antoine Tshisekedi of Congo are behind Abiy and the countries of the Horn,” he remarked.

The Ethiopian Herald January 25/2022

Panelists Urge U.S. to Reconsider AGOA Decision on Ethiopia

January 25, 2022

BY HAILE DEMEKE

ADDIS ABABA— Members of Ethiopian and Eritrean communities urged the U.S. to reconsider the decision of revoking Ethiopia from the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) and revisit other restrictions.

Ethiopian American Civic Council (EAAC) Chairperson Deacon YosephTeferi said that the sanction is used as a weaponizing tool against developing countries particularly in Africa. Ethiopians as a country are the most robbed people in Africa and according to the  global financial integrity report up to 2012 over 30USD billion Ethiopian treasure has been looted out and deposited in foreign banks which is well aware by the U.S.. “We need to use every available tools to make sure our voices heard.”

Over the past 30 years ,TPLF had been using the resources of the country for funding of anti-peace elements working to destabilize Ethiopia. The Trojan horse TPLF has worked to undermine the legitimately elected government forcing the people of Ethiopia to compromise the sovereignty of the country, which is unacceptable.

“We want to have good relationships between U.S. and Ethiopia for enduring good relationship, President Biden put pressure on the warring Parties by putting sanction. The sanction will further worsen the situation than easing the problems. TPLF is among the wealthiest terrorist organizations and the U.S. administration needs to put sanction on the TPLF officials and need to dig out all the treasures that have been looted from Ethiopia and used by the terrorist group as a good faith,” the EAAC chairperson said.

Berhe Haile Giorgis (PhD) from the Eritrean-American Community said that : “ What people in the African continent should know is that especially in Ethiopia should understand when it comes to survival as a nation we have to stand together. Even though there are huge sufferings,the moral satisfaction earned in terms of winning is going to be paying off in the end and the nation that emerges after this ordeal is going to be very powerful.”

The Horn of African region is going to contribute huge things to Africa in terms of positive leadership and others set an example and the whole continent Africa will be great in all sectors in economy, politics and others, Berhe indicated.

Political-Economic Analyst for Africa Lawrence Freeman on his part said that some of the geopolitical factions do not care about the development of Africa rather they oppose  it and they are not interested in eliminating poverty, hunger and other related problems. Rather they are pursuing to achieve their own interest.

He, therefore, said that they don’t want to see independent leader in the continent and the people of Ethiopia need to be united in reversing the pressure. As we all have witnessed the U.S embassy has doing its level best in creating hysteria among the international community every week telling that they have to leave Ethiopia even by giving them loan. Attempts to weaken Ethiopia through economic strangulation and political isolation, in this turbulent period are dangerous and could cause problems in Ethiopia than solving the issue.

“Winning the war alone is not a goal and the ultimate goal is eliminating poverty and hunger. The government of Ethiopia has started many initiatives in a way to ensure food self-sufficiency by cultivating uncultivated land and irrigation mechanisms which is promising to ensure food self-sufficiency.”

The Ethiopian Herald January 25/2022

Ethio-Sudan Close Talks: Horn Amicable Tread

January 25, 2022

 Ethiopia is always fond of trekking on peaceful boulevard especially these days as it has understood that nothing is more rewarding and lucrative than reciting lyrical concord song to bring about real change.

Yes, peace in Ethiopia has been fully restored except some antagonist moves in the northern part. As opposed to the western media futile attempts to blackmail the country through disseminating fake news and orchestrated conspiracy, Ethiopians at home along with their diaspora compatriots have marked magnificent holidays in an absolutely peaceful and alluring manner.

Besides, a number of countries have also turned their face towards Ethiopia to renew bilateral and trilateral ties with it. The coming of Sudan’s second most powerful leader, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo— Sudan’s transitional Sovereignty Council Deputy Chairman—to Ethiopia can be taken as the clear manifestation of Ethiopia’s enhanced tasks on diplomacy. The person’s visit amid border tensions is of utmost importance in bolstering the relations between the two countries and in well maintaining Horn peace in particular and that of the continent in general.

If truth be told, Sudanese and Ethiopians are one people in two different countries as everybody fails to put clear distinction between the two people especially who reside in border areas.

What is worth noting here is Ethiopia has always tabled peace on discussion and countries which have considered it as foe have at last come to become ally with it after understanding its candor.

Obviously, relations between Ethiopia and Sudan have deteriorated due to a disputed area where sporadic deadly clashes on both sides happened. Besides, Sudan, along with Egypt, is also locked in a bitter dispute over Ethiopia’s mega-dam on the Blue Nile as the two downstream countries see Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam as an existential threat, which is a baseless anxiety.

It has to be well comprehended that no one benefits out of turmoil and chaos except conflict entrepreneurs and those who have run towards gaining cheap popularity and fatten personal gain at the expense of others’ sufferings.

Ethiopia and Sudan should revive their warm and friendly diplomatic relations and the long standing frontier trade they have had has to be renewed up until the border tensions will receive lasting solutions. Though internal political and socio-economic problems in Ethiopia and the Sudan, together with some sorts of rivalries in the Horn brought about periods of increasing hostilities between the two countries, the situation has now taken the right track. Hence, the relations seem to be characterized by cooperation instead of animosity as the former is instrumental in helping the two countries grow together.

Not only does a potential border conflict between the two threaten to destabilize them but it does also have serious repercussions to spoil Horn and the entire region. Hence, commencing close talks would pave the way how the issue is handled and it reverses the severe consequences for political transitions in both countries and the issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has to be taken as firm glue for the unity of the two countries instead of being a source of confrontation.

All in all, Sudan’s official visit has upshots for de-escalation of the border dispute between the two. The diplomatic attempts to defuse tensions have to be well flourished to get the sources of conflict dried for good. A strained status quo that has been established around the border, with sporadic skirmishes needs to be aborted through civilized and peaceful means if the two countries are in a position to make a difference in all aspects as neither of them can benefit out of tense circumstances.

The Ethiopian Herald January 25/2022

Sudan’s NUP Calls for Al-Burhan’s Resignation

January 24, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – The National Umma Party (NUP) called on the Chairman of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, to step down from the head of the transitional collegial presidency.

The NUP’s political bureau held a meeting on Sunday to discuss the situation in the country and the continued violent repression of protesters by the security services.

In a statement after the meeting, the party said their road map to end the current political stalemate aims to end the coup, restore the civilian-led democratic transition.

The NUP underscored that  the escalating violence by the “coup leadership,” despite the ongoing UN led-consultations on a political process to restore legitimacy, confirms that they will continue the brutal crackdown and invent new forms to commit “violent massacres”, arresting protesters and other violations.

“For all these reasons, we strongly demand that the head of the coup and members of his entire coup authority step down immediately (..),” said the NUP in a statement released on Monday

The statement further said that the party would hand over a memorandum formally requesting al-Burhan’s resignation.

(ST)

Security Forces Arrest Medical Workers in Khartoum

January 25, 2022 (KHARTOUM) – The Unified Doctors’ Office announced the arrest of nine physicians, six foreigners and three Sudanese, by the security authorities on Monday.

According to a press release, the medical staff are members of the international humanitarian medical organization Médecins Sans frontières (MSF) working at Al-Jawda Hospital in Khartoum.

The Sudan Tribune learnt that nine doctors four including four women were taken to the Police Northern Section. Three are French, an Italian, a Pakistani and a Yemeni.

The coalition of prodemocracy groups said the arrest of nine doctors is part of the continued violations against civilians, medical and health personnel, and the sanctities of hospitals.

“MSF provides a great humanitarian service to the people wounded by the bullets of putschists and other various tools of repression on a daily basis. Their arrest is a direct attack on the humanity and disrupts the message of medicine and humanitarian cooperation between peoples,” reads the joint statement.

The group called for the release of the detained doctors, stressing that the military controlled Sovereign Council bears the responsibility for their safety.

The Unified Doctors’ Office gathers three pro-democracy groups Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, the legitimate Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, the Committee of Consultants and Specialists.

The security forces used to attack hospitals after protests and beat medical personnel. However, the arrest of doctors is a new escalation in the violent repression by the military leders.

(ST)

President Tebboune’s Visit to Egypt: Strengthening Historical Relations, Partnership

Monday, 24 January 2022 08:41 

ALGIERS- The working and fraternal visit that President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune will pay as from Monday to Egypt will enable strengthening the historical and political relations between the two countries, promoting the bilateral cooperation and continuing the coordination and dialogue on the main Arab and regional issues of common interest.

The Algeria-Egyptian relations are experiencing a momentum thanks to the exchange of visit between the two countries’ officials, the most recent is that paid last week to Egypt by Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad Ramtane Lamamra, in his capacity as the personal envoy of the President of the Republic.   

Previously, Lieutenant General Said Chanegriha, Chief of Staff of the People’s National Army, headed also for Cairo, in his capacity as representative of President of the Republic, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, minister of the National Defense, to take part in the 2nd Fair on Defense “EDEX-2021.”

Marked by coordination and consultations, the relations between the two countries are a model of cooperation and solidarity between the Arab and African countries, as demonstrated by the ongoing contacts between the leaders of the two countries to discuss the latest developments of the situation at the Arab and regional levels, notably concerning the Libyan crisis, the Palestinian issues, the preparations for the next Arab Summit and the promotion of the joint Arab action.

In this respect, the consultations between Algeria and Egypt on the Libyan issue are underway since the beginning of the crisis in order to reach an inter-Libyan political solution leading to an end of the transitional phase and the election of a legitimate direction.   

Elections that will preserve Libya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, by keeping away any interference that only aggravates the situation, notably with the presence of foreign forces.

On the sidelines of the 8th high-level seminar on peace and security in Africa, held in December in Oran, Egyptian Deputy Minister for African Organizations Souha El Djoundi affirmed that “the role of Algeria, which is a respected country and whose voice is heard within the African Union, is very important and based on a clear vision.”

The Algerian-Egyptian historical relations, with their Arab depth and African dimension, have risen in recent years to a level reflecting the two countries’ weight at the Arab and African levels.

As regards the Egyptian-Sudanese dispute on one hand, and the Ethiopian on the other hand, over the Renaissance dam, Algeria has initiated mediation between the three sides to bring their viewpoints closer and to reach a solution to this crisis.

At the economic level, this visit will constitute an opportunity to strengthen the cooperation between the two sides in the different sectors, especially as the leaders of the two countries are working to raise the economic cooperation to the level of the political and historical relations between the two sides.

This two-day visit will enable the two sides to boost the investments between the two countries, by giving a strong impetus to trade exchanges that have increased in the past few years, exceeding USD747 million in 2020, according the figures given by the Ministry of Trade.

Algeria’s exports to Egypt reached USD188.04 million in 2020 against USD559.55 million for imports.

Algeria intends to strengthen the bilateral commercial relations and the economic cooperation through the joint high committee between the two countries, which will hold its meeting soon, according to the statements of Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Community Abroad Ramtane Lamamra during his visit to Egypt last week, in his capacity as personal envoy of President of the Republic Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Algerian Minister Urges COVID Vaccination amid Virus Surge

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria’s health minister on Tuesday urged people to get vaccinated and save hospitals from collapse as the North African nation faces a surge of COVID-19 infections.

Algeria is battling infections from both the delta variant and the highly contagious omicron variant, which now accounts for 60% of COVID-19 infections. On Monday, health officials reported a daily record of 2,215 cases and 13 deaths.

“I urge you to get vaccinated and break the chain of infections which risk bringing our health institutions to their knees,” Health Minister Abderahmane Benbouzid said at a media conference in the capital, Algiers. “For now, the hospitals’ staff are managing. The question is, how long can they hold on?”

Omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant, according to studies. Omicron spreads even more easily than other coronavirus strains, and has already become dominant in many countries. It also more easily infects those who have been vaccinated or had previously been infected by prior versions of the virus.

The inoculation rate in Algeria remains low. Less than a quarter of the population has had even one vaccine dose despite the government’s robust vaccination campaign in state media and on social networks that includes pro-vaccine posts from famous Algerian actors, singers, athletes and influencers.

Algeria has a stock of vaccines that can largely ensure coverage of vaccination needs for two years, the minister said. Overall, only 13% of Algeria’s 45 million inhabitants, have been inoculated, the minister said. Of eligible adults, only 29% have received two vaccine doses, he said.

In December, Algeria started requiring a vaccine passport to enter many public venues, seeking to overcome vaccine hesitancy that has left millions of vaccines unused.

The pass is also required for anyone entering or leaving Algeria, as well as for entering sports facilities, cinemas, theaters, museums, town halls and other sites like hammams — bath houses that are popular across the region.

Official figures show Algeria has seen 6.508 COVID-19-related deaths since the pandemic began, but even members of the government’s scientific committee admit the real figure is much higher. Out of fears of being blamed for getting the virus, some Algerians keep their infections secret, which then puts others at risk.

Death Toll in Cameroon Stadium Crush at 8 as Security Blamed

By EDWIN KINDZEKA MOKI and ISIFU WIRFENGLA

CAF president Patrice Motsepe speaks during media conference at the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — The death toll in a stampede outside a game at the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament in Cameroon has risen to eight, as witnesses blamed security officials for making fatal errors and competition organizers decided Tuesday to suspend all further games at the stadium pending an investigation.

Another seven people were in serious condition in the hospital after the crush Monday night at the game between host Cameroon and Comoros at the Olembe Stadium in the capital, Yaounde.

The African soccer body has moved the next game due to take place at the Olembe on Sunday to another stadium in Yaounde. The last two games at the Olembe, a semifinal and the final of the African soccer championship on Feb. 6, could also be moved.

“I have given the local organizing committee ... up to Friday to tell me who was responsible for the accident, who shares the blame and additional safety and security measures taken to protect football fans, players and match officials,” said Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football, which runs the African Cup alongside local organizers from the host country.

“Our priority is the safety of people and if we are not assured that the stadium offers that safety, we will not accept matches to be played there again,” he said.

The death toll increased after two more fans were pronounced dead outside the Messassi hospital, police said. Injured people had initially been rushed to that nearby hospital by police and civilians trying to help. The hospital quickly became overwhelmed.

A total of 38 people were hurt in the stampede. The remaining 31 people had slight to moderate injuries. The injured were now being treated at four different hospitals, Communication Minister René Sadi said. On Tuesday morning, people gathered at the hospitals searching for missing family members.

The crush came when soccer fans struggled to get into the stadium to watch the home team play in a highly-anticipated knockout game at Africa’s top soccer tournament. The tragedy may have been connected to fans trying to avoid COVID-19 checks. Organizers have made it compulsory that fans show proof of negative virus tests and be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to attend games at the African Cup. They need to go through that health screening as well as security checks at stadiums.

Local TV stations broadcast footage showing people jumping over security fences to avoid checks and there are reports that police and security were overwhelmed. The Cameroon government said 57,000 people were at the stadium when the crowd was meant to be restricted to a maximum of 40,000 because of the virus. The Olembe has a capacity of 60,000.

A witness said the stampede at the south entrance of the stadium happened after supporters were directed by security officials toward an entrance gate that was locked. The gate was eventually opened, the witness said, causing a surge and people were trampled. Children were caught up in the stampede, the witness said.

“When the security guys finally began opening the gates, with all the anxiety and after having been locked out ... people pushed the security guys away and forced themselves inside,” said the witness, Marie-Therese Asongafack. “That’s where it all began ... By the time I found myself in front, there were people on the ground being trampled on.”

Medical help wasn’t immediately available, “so people were just trying their basic first aid on victims,” Asongafack said. “I saw a child less than 10 years old, lifeless. Guys were trying to revive him.”

Later Tuesday at a news conference, African soccer body president Motsepe said the initial investigation would center on why that gate at the stadium was shut.

“Who closed that gate? And why did they close that gate?” he said.

World soccer body FIFA released a statement expressing its “deepest condolences” to the families and friends of the victims. FIFA president Gianni Infantino attended the African Cup’s opening ceremony at the Olembe Stadium two weeks ago.

Cameroon President Paul Biya also ordered an investigation into the tragedy, which came a day after at least 17 people died after a fire set off a series of explosions at a nightclub in Yaounde.

The Central African nation is hosting the African Cup for the first time in 50 years and its preparations have been under scrutiny. Cameroon was meant to host the tournament in 2019, but it was moved to Egypt because of problems with Cameroon’s stadium preparations.

The main Olembe Stadium was one of the arenas that organizers were concerned about and serious concerns were still being raised as recently as a few months ago.

Games are also being played in four other cities. Organizers said the tournament would continue as planned later Tuesday with last 16 games between Senegal and Cape Verde and Morocco and Malawi.

At Least 6 Reported Dead in Crush at African Cup Soccer Game

By EDWIN KINDZEKA MOKI and ISIFU WIRFENGLA

People assist victims of a stampede outside a stadium hosting an African Cup of Nations soccer game in Yaounde, Cameroon, Monday Jan. 24, 2022. Several people have died in a stampede that happened as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium to watch the host country play Comoros in a last 16 knockout game in Africa's top soccer tournament. (AP Photo/Thierry Noukeu)

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) — At least six people died in a crush outside a stadium hosting a game at Africa’s top soccer tournament in Cameroon on Monday, a local government official said, realizing fears over the capacity of the country to stage the continent’s biggest sports event.

Naseri Paul Biya, the governor of the central region of Cameroon, said there could be more deaths.

“We are not in position to give you the total number of casualties,” he said.

The crush happened as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium in the capital city of Yaounde to watch the host country play Comoros in a last 16 knockout game in the African Cup of Nations.

Officials at the nearby Messassi hospital said they received at least 40 injured people, who were rushed to the hospital by police and civilians. The officials said the hospital wasn’t capable of treating all of them.

“Some of the injured are in desperate condition,” said Olinga Prudence, a nurse. “We will have to evacuate them to a specialized hospital.”

People were seen lying motionless on their backs near an entrance to the stadium in the aftermath of the crush. A man knelt next to one of the victims and appeared to be trying to resuscitate the victim. Shoes, caps and colorful wigs — part of some of the fans’ game costumes — were strewn on the ground.

Witnesses said children were among those caught up in the crush. The witnesses said it happened when stadium stewards closed the gates and stopped allowing people in. It was not immediately clear if the crush happened before or during the game.

Soccer officials said around 50,000 people had tried to attend the match. The stadium has a capacity of 60,000 but it was not meant to be more than 80% full for the game due to restrictions on the size of the crowd because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Confederation of African Football, which runs the African Cup, said in a statement it was aware of the incident.

“CAF is currently investigating the situation and trying to get more details on what transpired,” it said. “We are in constant communication with Cameroon government and the Local Organizing Committee.”

One of the federation’s top officials, general secretary Veron Mosengo-Omba, went to visit injured fans in the hospital, the statement said.

Cameroon is hosting the African Cup for the first time in 50 years. The Central African nation was meant to host the tournament in 2019 but the event was taken away from it that year and awarded to Egypt because of serious concerns with Cameroon’s preparations, particularly the readiness of its stadiums.

Olembe Stadium was one of the venues that was under scrutiny. It is the main stadium for the monthlong tournament and will stage three more games, including the final on Feb. 6.

Monday’s incident was the second serious blow to the country in the space of a day, after at least 17 people died when a fire set off a series of explosions at a nightclub in Yaounde on Sunday.

Following that incident, Cameroon President Paul Biya urged the country to be on guard while it hosts its biggest national sports event in a half century.

Cameroon won Monday’s game 2-1 to move on to the quarterfinals.

Migrant Abuses Continue in Libya. So Does EU Border Training

By RENATA BRITO, FRANK JORDANS and LORNE COOK

FILE - Migrants are brought to shore after being intercepted by the Libyan coast guard on the Mediterranean Sea, in Garaboli Libya, on Oct. 18, 2021. A confidential European Union military report calls for the continued support and training of Libya’s coastguard and navy despite concerns about their treatment of migrants, a mounting death toll at sea, and the continued lack of any central authority in the North African nation. The report circulated to EU officials on Jan. 4 and obtained by The Associated Press offers a rare insight into Europe’s determination to cooperate with Libya and its role in the interception and return of thousands of men, women and children to a country where they face insufferable abuse. (AP Photo/Yousef Murad, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — A confidential European Union military report calls for continuing a controversial EU program to train and equip Libya’s coast guard and navy despite growing concerns about their treatment of migrants, a mounting death toll at sea, and the continued lack of any central authority in the North African nation.

The report, circulated to EU officials this month and obtained by The Associated Press, offers a rare look at Europe’s determination to support Libya in the interception and return of tens of thousands of men, women and children to Libya, where they face insufferable abuse.

Compiled by Italian navy Rear Adm. Stefano Turchetto, head of the EU arms embargo surveillance mission, or Operation Irini, the report acknowledges the “excessive use of force” by Libyan authorities, adding that EU training is “no longer fully followed.”

Hundreds of thousands of migrants hoping to reach Europe have made their way through Libya, where a lucrative trafficking and smuggling business has flourished in a country without a functioning government, fragmented for years between rival administrations in the east and west, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

The EU report acknowledges “the political stalemate” in Libya has hindered Europe’s training program, noting that the country’s internal divisions make it difficult to obtain political support for enforcing “proper behavioral standards ... compliant with human rights, especially when dealing with irregular migrants.”

The European Commission and the EU’s External Action Service — the equivalent of the 27-nation bloc’s foreign office — declined to comment on the report. But spokesman Peter Stano confirmed the EU is determined to train coast guard personnel and bolster Libya’s capacity to manage a massive search-and-rescue area of the Mediterranean.

The EU training program “remains firm on the table to increase the capacity of the Libyan authorities to save lives at sea,” Stano said.

Criticism of Europe’s migration policies has been growing. At least three requests have been filed to the International Criminal Court demanding that Libyan and European officials, as well as traffickers, militiamen and others be investigated for crimes against humanity. A U.N. inquiry published in October also found evidence that abuses committed in Libya may amount to crimes against humanity.

Last week, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for countries to “re-examine policies that support interception at sea and return of refugees and migrants to Libya.”

Stano dismissed those criticisms. “When it comes to migration, our objective is to save peoples’ lives, protect those in need and fight trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling,” Stano said.

Human rights defenders and asylum seekers disagree.

“The Europeans pretend to show the good face,” said a Cameroonian woman who arrived in Libya in 2016 with her child thinking she would find work. Instead, she was trafficked and forced into prostitution after being separated from her daughter. The AP does not identify victims of sexual violence.

In 2018 she got on a smuggler’s boat bound for Europe but her group was caught by Libyan authorities and taken to the notorious Tajoura detention center where detainees were beaten and abused. She was only released after a friend paid a $700 ransom to the guards.

“They’re calling it saving lives? How is it saving lives when those lives are tortured after being saved?” the woman asked.

Questioned about the detention centers in Libya, Stano said the EU’s position is clear: “They are unacceptable. The current arbitrary detention system must end.”

But despite such assertions nothing has changed on the ground. The Libyan government last month named Mohammed Al-Khoja, a militia leader implicated in abuses against migrants, to head the Department for Combating Irregular Migration, which oversees the detention centers.

“The same people in charge of dismantling the trafficking business are the traffickers themselves,” said Violeta Moreno-Lax, founder of the immigration law program at Queen Mary University of London.

The EU report noted the “excessive use of physical force” by a Libyan patrol during the Sept. 15 interception of a wooden boat with about 20 migrants off the coast of Libya.

The Libyan forces used tactics “never observed before and not in compliance with (EU) training ... as well as international regulation,” said the report. It provided no further details about what exactly happened.

A spokesman for the Libyan coast guard did not respond to AP requests for comment about that incident or the EU report. In the past, Libyan interior ministry and coast guard officials have said they are doing their best with limited resources in a country plagued by years of civil war.

In response to AP questions, Frontex, the European coast guard and border agency that documented the Sept. 15 interception said it had filed a “serious incident report” but could not disclose details.

Ozlem Demirel, a German Left party member of the European Parliament, said the report offered “further evidence that there should be no cooperation with this force.”

“The fact that Irini is even seeking further training is, in my view, outrageous,” she said.

Violent tactics employed by Libyan authorities at sea have been widely documented for years. Last week, activists on a volunteer rescue ship reported seeing a Libyan patrol vessel “shooting at a person who had jumped into the water.”

Some 455 million euros ($516 million) have been earmarked for Libya since 2015 through the EU’s Trust Fund for Africa, substantial amounts of which have gone to finance migration and border management.

However, huge sums have been diverted to networks of militiamen and traffickers who exploit migrants, according to a 2019 AP investigation. Coast guard members are also complicit, turning migrants intercepted at sea over to detention centers under deals with militias or demanding payoffs to let others go.

EU money, much of it funneled through Italy, has been used to train staff and refurbish boats for Libyan authorities. The Libyan coast guard also received satellite phones and uniforms and will get three new patrol vessels in the next two years.

To intercept the small unseaworthy migrant boats in the Mediterranean, Libyan authorities also depend on surveillance gathered and shared by European drones, aircraft and radar. But even then the political chaos in the country often impacts search-and-rescue operations.

Irregular migration from North Africa to Italy and Malta spiked in 2021 after a drop in 2020 largely due to the coronavirus pandemic. Crossings on the central Mediterranean accounted for one-third of all reported illegal border-crossings into Europe, according to Frontex.

But as departures increased, so did interceptions. Last year, the Libyan coast guard picked up and returned to Libya more than 32,000 migrants, nearly triple the number for 2020.

Yet despite all the equipment and training provided to Libya to save lives, more than 1,500 people died or went missing last year, the highest death toll since 2017.

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Brito reported from Barcelona, Spain. Jordans reported from Berlin.

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Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

Military Seizes Power in Burkina Faso

Jan. 24, 2022

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso — The military announced Monday that it had seized power in Burkina Faso, suspending the Constitution and ousting the country’s democratically elected president hours after mutinous soldiers surrounded his home.

President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, 64, had been leading Burkina Faso, a poor, landlocked country in Western Africa, since 2015. But he faced growing criticism from civilians and the military alike over his government’s inability to beat back the Islamist insurgents creating havoc in this nation of 21 million people.

Burkina Faso had remained largely peaceful until 2015. But that year, militant groups launched a violent campaign as part of a broader upheaval in the Sahel, the vast stretch of land just south of the Sahara.

The violence has destabilized large swaths of Burkina Faso, displacing 1.4 million people and causing 2,000 deaths just last year alone. And it led to mounting public frustration with Mr. Kaboré, who, younger people, especially, faulted for the government’s failure to stem the tide of violence.

In the past year, there has been a flurry of coups in  Africa, the greatest concentration in years, with takeovers in Guinea, Sudan, Chad and Mali.

The coup in Burkina Faso was announced on state television late Monday afternoon by a junior army officer who said the army had seized power in response to the “exasperation of the people.” Beside him sat Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, a senior military officer who was introduced to the people of Burkina Faso as their new head of state.

The military said the nation’s land and air borders would be closed, and a nightly curfew imposed until further notice.

There was no mention of Mr. Kaboré’s whereabouts and no indication that he had agreed to step down. “The authorities have been captured without bloodshed and are being kept in a secure place,” the soldier said.

The military’s announcement came after a turbulent day in Burkina Faso.

On Sunday, soldiers seized several military bases and the riot police clashed with civilian protesters. In the evening, shots were heard near the president’s home, lasting into the early hours of Monday, setting off hours of uncertainty amid reports that the military was pressuring the president to resign.

In the afternoon, a tweet had appeared on President Kaboré’s account that asked people to stand fast behind their tottering democracy. “Our country is going through a difficult time,” he wrote, urging mutinying soldiers to lay down their arms.

Public support for the mutiny was driven by a perception that Mr. Kaboré was incapable of beating back the Islamist groups that have been spreading mayhem for so long, said Rinaldo Depagne, an expert on Burkina Faso at the International Crisis Group.

“He’s not absolutely awful and corrupt,” Mr. Depagne said of the deposed leader. “But it’s obvious that people think, rightly or wrongly, that a man in uniform with a big gun is better able to protect them than a democratically elected president.”

Mr. Damiba blamed the president for his own downfall, saying he failed to unite people against the rising tide of Islamist violence.

“The country has been fractured,” he said. “Instead of uniting people, Roch divided them, which allowed the jihadists to attack us. It’s his fault.”

Blame has also fallen squarely on the former colonial power, France, which has deployed troops to the Sahel region, including Burkina Faso, in an effort to counter Islamist attacks, although the situation continues to deteriorate.

A helicopter was seen over Ouagadougou on Monday.

The army officer who appears to be in charge now had just been promoted.

Two months ago, Lt. Col. Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba was put in command of one of three military regions in Burkina Faso, a promotion that gave him considerable power.

On Monday, Mr. Damiba sat stony-faced on state television as a young officer next to him announced that the military was seizing power and ousting the president. The statement he read was signed by Colonel Damiba.

Colonel Damiba was trained at the Military School of Paris, and last year published a book titled “West African Armies and Terrorism: Uncertain Responses?” A blurb posted online says that he has “endured the harsh reality” and “experienced the evolution of armed violent extremism.”

He was a member of the elite force that once guarded President Blaise Compaoré, who ruled for 27 years. That force, the Presidential Security Regiment (known as the R.S.P. by its French initials), was one of the pillars of Mr. Compaoré’s regime, but was disbanded after his fall in 2014.

The officer was one of many presidential guard members integrated into the regular army, and his star kept rising until his promotion last November.

According to Paul Koalaga, the director of the Institute for Strategy and International Relations in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou, Colonel Damiba’s loyalties may still lie with the former president, Mr. Compaoré, and his allies.

Among those allies is Gen. Gilbert Diendéré, who in 2015 led a failed coup against a transitional government. Gen. Diendéré is currently on trial in connection with the death of Thomas Sankara, Mr. Compaoré’s predecessor.

“Whoever was in the R.S.P. must have connections with the old regime, but also with Gilbert Diendéré,” Mr. Koalaga said.

For some citizens, any change, even a coup, was welcome.

“We were just sick of him,” said Adjara Dera, in Ouagadougou on Monday evening. “Our friends have been dying, our policemen have been dying. It just wasn’t working.”

With the fate of his presidency in doubt, Burkina Faso’s leader took to Twitter on Monday to urge his people to stand fast behind democracy, but as it became clear that the military was taking control, public outrage appeared in short supply.

Hours before the coup was formally announced, it appeared to be a foregone conclusion — and some residents of the capital, unhappy with the daily turmoil of life under President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, welcomed it openly.

Some took to the streets to demand his ouster, clashing with the riot police. As soldiers stood guard outside the state-owned broadcaster, young men on motorbikes streamed past, honking their horns and cheering.

And at a nearby market, one cellphone dealer, Kudougou Damiba, threw himself to his knees.

“We are saved!” he declared. “Roch is gone.”

Young people, in particular, had lost faith in the president as unceasing attacks by Islamist militants killed thousands and displaced more than a million of their fellow citizens.

The military leader who now appears to be in control pointed to that after the coup was announced on Monday.

“The country has been fractured,” Mr. Damiba said. “Instead of uniting people, Roch divided them, which allowed the jihadists to attack us. It’s his fault.”

But not everyone was convinced that things would be better now.

Among the customers at the cellphone market was Anatole Compaoré, an unemployed 31-year-old.

Mr. Compaoré took part in a wave of recent street protests against Mr. Kaboré, but even so he was skeptical that a new bout of military rule would solve his country’s problems.

When Blaise Compaoré, Burkina Faso’s leader of 27 years, was overthrown in 2014, he recalled, “they said everything would change.”

“But nothing changed,” he said. “And I’m not sure it will be any different this time.”

On the eve of a coup, gunfire, rumors and waiting.

The police used tear gas to disperse crowds in Ouagadougou on Sunday.

On Sunday, in the hours after gunfire was heard at military bases in the capital and in two other cities in Burkina Faso, a question hung in the air: Was this a coup?

No, the government insisted. Some soldiers had mutinied, but the situation was entirely under control.

Those assurances soon proved hollow.

More gunfire erupted around the president’s residence in the capital before dawn Monday, and soldiers spilled from their military bases and seized control of the state broadcaster.

Businesses shuttered in the capital, Ouagadougou, as residents anticipated the inevitable announcement on television by men in uniforms who will most likely declare themselves as the new rulers.

The first sign of trouble came before dawn on Sunday. A burst of sustained gunfire was heard from a military camp in the center of the capital that houses a prison whose inmates include soldiers involved in a 2015 coup attempt.

It was not long before the mutineers began to make their demands known.

Speaking to reporters outside the camp, one officer offered a list of demands that included the replacement of the country’s army and intelligence chiefs. He also demanded greater resources for Burkina Faso’s military campaign against Islamist militants and improved medical care for soldiers wounded in that fight.

The trouble soon spread to other bases. Even after the shooting stopped and the government of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré issued assurances that it was still in charge, rebel soldiers remained in control of several bases.

Appearing on state television, the country’s defense minister, Aime Barthelemy Simpore, said that the unrest was confined to “a few barracks” and that the government had reached out to the mutinying soldiers to learn their demands.

But it was not just the soldiers.

Ordinary citizens soon joined in, demanding the ouster of Mr. Kaboré. They were met with tear gas fired by the riot police, and mobile internet services were shut down.

The mutiny came a few months after Mr. Kaboré changed the military leadership in what analysts saw as an attempt to quell opposition in the armed forces. Earlier this month, the government arrested a dozen soldiers on suspicion of conspiring against the government.

A spate of coups in Africa has undone many democratic gains.

Opponents of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso set afire his party headquarters in Ouagadougou on Sunday.

Over the past year, Africa has experienced a surge in military takeovers and a marked backslide in democracy, with coups in at least four countries.

Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan — soldiers have seized power in all of them.

And in recent months, Burkina Faso was already looking like it might be next, with the country’s government destabilized by a wave of Islamist violence that has intensified over the past years in the Sahel, the semi-arid region stretching from Senegal to Chad on the southern flank of the Sahara.

Experts say the four successful military coups in Africa in the span of one year are the most in more than 40 years. And in some cases, citizens frustrated by government incompetence and corruption, and desperate for change, have urged soldiers to dismantle their own democracies.

The coups that marked African politics in the 1970s and 1980s had been beginning to look like largely a thing of the past. Since 2015, there have been at least 30 peaceful transitions of power in sub-Saharan African countries, even if many leaders have found other ways to stay in office, bending the rules to ensure they don’t have to give up power.

Perhaps the most notable leadership change recently was the one in Sudan, where a coup last fall halted a democratic transition that followed the 2019 ouster of the country’s longtime autocratic ruler, Omar Hassan al-Bashir.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok briefly returned to power in November — but then resigned early this month. That left Sudan with no civilian government to help steer a country that is only just emerging from a dictatorship that lasted three decades.

In Guinea, the head of the country’s special forces led a coup in September against President Alpha Condé, who had changed the Constitution to stay in power beyond the two-term limit.

In Mali, military leaders ousted civilian leaders in May, just nine months after the previous president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was forced out in a military coup. Mr. Keita died earlier this month.

And in Chad, a 38-year-old general, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, has been ruling the country since last April, when his father, Idriss Déby, died as he was commanding his troops against rebel soldiers.

U.N. and African leaders condemned the coup.

International leaders on Monday quickly condemned the military coup in Burkina Faso, with the head of the United Nations expressing concerns about the circumstances of the West African nation’s deposed president.

In a statement, Secretary-General António Guterres called on leaders of the coup to “lay down their arms and to ensure the protection of the physical integrity of the president and the institutions of Burkina Faso.”

Mr. Guterres said he was “particularly worried about the whereabouts and safety of President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, as well as the worsening security situation.”

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for Mr. Guterres, said 1,147 United Nations personnel were in Burkina Faso, including 270 international staff members. “Everyone is safe and sound,” he said at a news briefing at U.N. headquarters.

Mr. Dujarric made note of the “epidemic of coups” in Africa in recent times, referring to upheavals in Chad, Guinea, Mali and Sudan.

Leading African political figures also deplored the Burkina Faso coup.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, president of the African Union Commission, said in a statement that he was “following with deep concern the very serious situation in Burkina Faso” and called on the army and security forces to “strictly adhere to their republican vocation, namely the defense of the country’s internal and external security.”

The regional organization known as ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, said that the coup “cannot be tolerated,” and called for the soldiers to return to their barracks.

But the military junta in neighboring Mali has survived despite many such statements from the organization, which is increasingly seen as weak and an advocate for the interests of incumbents, including many who have sought to cling to power.

Members of the Koglweogo, a self-defense group, are primarily known for fighting crime but have been sucked into conflict with jihadists as violent attacks from Islamist groups skyrocket in Burkina Faso.

Once one of the most stable nations in West Africa, Burkina Faso has been trapped in spiraling violence since jihadist groups claimed their first attacks, in 2015.

Since then, the landlocked country of 21 million people has faced hundreds of attacks, some carried out by jihadist groups and others by local rebels.

In June, armed assailants killed more than 100 people in an attack on a village in northern Burkina Faso, burning houses and leaving many more injured in one of the deadliest assaults the West African nation had seen in years.

Looming over the country since 1987 has been the assassination of Thomas Sankara, who was the country’s president and a revolutionary leader renowned across Africa.

In October, one of the most highly anticipated trials ever to take place on the continent opened in the capital, Ouagadougou, aiming to establish who killed Mr. Sankara.

Among the 14 men accused of plotting his death is a man once known as his close friend, Blaise Compaoré, who went on to succeed Mr. Sankara as president — and then stayed in power for 27 years. Mr. Compaoré is being tried in absentia; attempts by the government of Burkina Faso to extradite him from Ivory Coast, where he lives in exile, have been unsuccessful.

Mr. Sankara was 37 when he was killed, and already revered in many African countries for speaking out against the vestiges of colonialism and the impact of Western financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

“The revolution’s main objective,” Mr. Sankara said not long after taking power, “is to destroy imperialist domination and exploitation.”

He renamed the country from Upper Volta, as France called it, to Burkina Faso, which means “the land of upright people” in Moore, the language of the country’s largest ethnic group. Mr. Sankara only stayed in power for four years.

After a year of political turmoil, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré was elected president in 2015, then re-elected in 2020. He had a statue erected of Mr. Sankara, and a mausoleum, cinema and media library are also being built in his honor.

But under Mr. Kaboré, life became increasingly desperate for millions in Burkina Faso. Violence caused by bandits, vigilantes and terrorists who claim to be affiliated with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State — and military abuses — has left thousands dead and more than a million displaced. And a country that prided itself on tolerance and cooperation has become increasingly polarized politically.

— The New York Times

GERD’s Contributions Deliberately Ignored by Downstream Countries

January 23, 2022

BY ADDISALEM MULAT

Sudan and Egypt have had to say more negative things about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The countries however, deliberately missed out to this every day to acknowledge the contributions the project would bring to the downstream countries.

The solid and undeniable fact is constructing a dam upstream plays a major role in maintaining the environment and reducing the magnitude of drought and things of that sort.

The downstream countries particularly Sudan, faces unprecedented flooding risk year on year putting millions of lives in danger. Last year, the country was hit by an exceptional flood that destroyed hundreds of homes while deluging others.

Heavy downpours often hit the country between June and October resulting in significant flooding. For years, Sudan has been facing flooding endangering cities and towns. Semi-arid and arid countries are more prone to climatic variability than temperate ones. And, droughts and flooding in Sudan are most likely to be caused by climate change.

For years, Sudan has been facing over flooding endangering cities and towns. Water infrastructure development of upstream countries including reservoir construction is the best alternative to mitigate extreme hydrological events, including the alteration of and flooding, most likely to be caused by climate change.

With this being the fact, Sudan and Egypt have been engaged in defaming the GERD while intentionally hiding the fact the project helps both countries to minimize their risks to flooding. But they pretend that the construction of the GERD would rather affect them.

Putting the benefits aside, the countries tried to politicize and internationalize the matter. There has been also an intrigue by Cairo to stop the construction of the dam. Despite the obstacles, the construction of the dam is progressing well with the second filling completed last year. Obviously, the successful accomplishment of the second filling GERD also testifies the unwavering resolves and defiance of Ethiopians against all odds.

Even though some forces turn on the charm, Ethiopia came victorious both technically and politically. Prior to the announcement of the second filling, the plot by Egypt to internationalize the issue came shortly after the UNSC refused Cairo what it wanted.

The announcement of the successful completion of the second phase filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) upped euphoria among the public, a strong force behind the dam. People from all walks of life across the nation took to the streets  to express their excitement and continued support for the construction of GERD.

The hysteria came in defiance of foreign intervention and ongoing misinformation against Ethiopia in what some describe as coordinated effort and collusion of internal and external forces to weaken the nation. For many though, the accomplishment of the second filling of the dam proves Ethiopia’s endurance and invincibility against all odds.

This week, as the country prepares to commence power generation, it has reaffirmed its resolve towards a collective approach to utilize the shared resource. In a statement issued Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that the downstream countries benefit from water conservation at the GERD instead of wastage of billions of cubic meters of water to evaporation and in downstream flood plains. The GERD also helps to prevent future spillage that overtops the Aswan Dam, Abiy added.

Globally and in the Nile region, the GERD as a clean renewable energy source would help to reduce emissions that could avoid up to 10.6 million tons of greenhouse gases if it were produced from fuel, coal, or gas plants. Hence, the development of the GERD plays an important role in meeting and increasing renewable energy generation share towards Sustainable Development (SDG) Goal 7 and better water management of Goal 6 of the SDGs, as well as meeting many targets of Africa’s Agenda 2063, according to the premier.

For the Nile region and for all its citizens, the GERD has the potential to stabilize the energy mix. Hydropower, due to its nature of flexible operation and suitability, can be put in operation in a matter of minutes and can enhance the harnessing of other energy sources of solar and wind energy that are variable depending on weather and climate. Undoubtedly, it will also enable affordable energy provision to the region.

 While perceived negative factors have been made more visible in the GERD discourse, the positive attributes rather outweigh the opposing rhetoric and downplay the potential for cooperation to mitigate negative factors, if such factors exist.

 It is time for our three countries of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to nurture the narrative towards building peace, cooperation, mutual co-existence, and development of all our people without harming one another. The Nile in general and the GERD project, in particular, are opportune for such a higher purpose.

“Electricity is a basic infrastructure lacking in Ethiopia and over 53% of my fellow citizens or about 60 Million people do not have access. Without electricity, no country has ever managed to defeat poverty, brought about inclusive growth, secured a dignified life for its citizens, and managed to attain sustainable economic, social, and environmental development. Hence why Ethiopia believes that Nile waters can be developed reasonably and equitably for the benefit of all people of riparian countries, without causing significant harm.” he added.

He elucidated that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is a good example that is demonstrative of the principle of cooperation. The dam has been constructed through the earnest contribution of all citizens of Ethiopia and holds multiple benefits for the two downstream countries of Sudan and Egypt, as well as the East African region at large.

Ethiopia’s intention in constructing the GERD is to connect its population living off the grid. This means, as a hydropower dam, the GERD does not consume water. Rather the water continues to flow downstream uninterrupted. Notwithstanding the fact that 86% of the Nile waters originate from Ethiopia, the downstream countries particularly Egypt has been using the river solely. The country has never attempted to resolve predicaments related to the Nile River in a calm atmosphere and rather using the issue as first aid for its internal problems.

The Ethiopian Herald January 23/2022

Sudan Security Forces Kill Three Anti-coup Protesters: Medics

Deaths bring to 76 the number of protesters killed in a crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations, the medics say.

People continue protests demanding the restoration of civilian rule in Khartoum, Sudan on January 24, 2022.

Anti-coup protests have continued since the military took power on October 25 [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu]

Published On 24 Jan 2022

24 Jan 2022

Sudanese security forces have killed three protesters during demonstrations calling for civilian rule, almost three months after a military coup, medics said.

Two protesters were killed on Monday in the capital Khartoum – one was shot in the chest and the other in the head, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors said. The third was killed in the city of Wad Madani, south of Khartoum, with bullets to the head and the shoulder, the committee said.

Other protesters were injured in the capital Khartoum and the city of Omdurman, they added.

The latest death brings to 76 the number of protesters killed in a crackdown on anti-coup demonstrations, the medics said.

“Our people are protesting peacefully and using all forms of nonviolent resistance towards a free, democratic and just country, only to be confronted by the military with the worst crimes,” the doctors’ group said.

Sudanese security forces also fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon spraying red water at protesters on Monday as they attempted to march towards the presidential palace in Khartoum.

In the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, the Reuters news agency reported a heavy security presence and tear gas fired on a main road.

The protests were called by neighbourhood resistance committees, which advocate a stance of “no legitimacy, no negotiation, no partnership” towards the military.

Such protests, along with barricades throughout the capital and a general strike last week, have continued since the military took power on October 25, ending a partnership with civilian political parties since longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir was deposed in 2019.

Some 76 protesters have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in crackdowns on the protests, according to medics aligned with the protest movement, mainly by gunshots and tear gas canisters.

One committee reported the arrest of at least four members, while another said its headquarters were raided.

There were also large protests on Monday in the city of Wad Madani, where witnesses said protesters marched towards the house of a protester killed on Friday before heading to the state government building.

“No, no to military rule,” and “civilian [rule] is the people’s choice” protesters shouted in Wad Madani, witness Emad Mohamed told the AFP news agency.

Political parties ‘divided’

Social media users shared images of other protests in the cities of El Fasher, Shendi, and Elobeid.

Last week, the United States condemned the use of force against protesters, saying it would consider additional measures to hold perpetrators of violence accountable.

Sudan’s authorities have repeatedly denied using live ammunition against demonstrators, and insist dozens of security personnel have been wounded during protests.

Military leaders have said that the right to peaceful protest is protected and have commissioned investigations into the bloodshed. The violence has deepened the deadlock between pro-democracy groups and the military leadership.

Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, reporting from Khartoum, said that since the army’s takeover, Sudan’s politics has been in “disarray”.

“Political parties are divided, some have shown support for the takeover saying it was necessary, while others have condemned it, saying that the military has … disrupted the democratic transition [to elections] that was under way,” Morgan said.

But despite the use of force by security personnel, people “continue to voice their anger against the takeover”, Morgan said.

“They say that they will not stop until the military hands power to a complete civilian government and return to the barracks,” she added.

Hundreds arrested

On Sunday, Sudan’s key Umma party pledged “to remove all traces of the coup”.

It, however, warned that the “coup leadership” will “persist with its brutality and come up with new ways to commit violent massacres and launch mass arrests of revolutionaries”.

Hundreds of pro-democracy activists have been arrested in the crackdown on anti-coup activists.

On Saturday, a leading women rights activist Amira Osman was arrested following a raid on her home in Khartoum, according to a statement by the No to Women’s Oppression initiative which she leads.

UN Special Representative Volker Perthes slammed Osman’s arrest, saying the “arrest and pattern of violence against women’s rights activists severely risks reducing their political participation”.

Other activists from the “resistance committees”, informal groups which have been instrumental in organising anti-coup protests, were also arrested late on Sunday, according to members who requested anonymity fearing reprisals.

As protests rage, military leader Abdelfattah al-Burhan appointed deputy ministers to a caretaker government, which passed this year’s budget.

On Monday, Abdelghani Alnaeem, former deputy foreign minister under al-Bashir, confirmed that he and more than 100 other diplomats and administrators who had been fired as part of an anti-corruption task force were reinstated by a judge.

“This is a positive step,” he said.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES