KW 14: Guinea referendum backs constitutional changes, Mali election underway despite coronavirus fears, South Africa goes into 3-week lockdown

– NEWS –

Guinea referendum backs constitutional changes: Guinea has voted overwhelmingly for a change in the constitution, according to provisional results of a referendum, an outcome which the opposition fears will allow President Alpha Conde to govern for 12 more years. 92 percent of voters supported changing the constitution in last Sunday’s referendum, which was boycotted by the opposition. Conde has refused to rule out using a new constitution as a reset button on his mandate, which expires in December, citing other African countries as examples of where leaders have extended their rule. The new constitution would impose a limit of two six-year terms, up from the current two five-year terms. It does not specify whether terms served under the previous constitution would count, but Conde has suggested they would not.
reuters.com

Mali election underway despite coronavirus fears: Malians headed to the polls Sunday for a long-delayed parliamentary election, less than a day after the country reported its first death from coronavirus. The country has now declared a medical emergency despite the relatively low number of cases so far. Much of Mali’s territory lies outside of state control, meaning that widespread implementation of preventative measures could be difficult or impossible. Security concerns have seen the parliamentary vote postponed several times since 2018. The war-torn country has over 200,000 displaced people, none of whom are expected to be able to vote. Also overshadowing the election was the kidnapping of the leading opposition figure of the West African country on Wednesday. Soumaila Cisse is believed to be in the hands of jihadists.
dw.com

Boko Haram terrorist attack in Nigeria and Chad: Nearly 100 Chadian troops were killed in an attack by Boko Haram militants, President Idriss Deby Itno said on Tuesday. The seven-hour assault on an island army base was the deadliest yet by the extremist group against the armed forces in Chad. At least 50 Nigerian soldiers are also reported to have been killed in an ambush by Boko Haram in eastern Borno. The attacks are the latest in a series of offensives that Boko Haram has launched in Chad, Niger and Cameroon, in addition to northeastern Nigeria. The Boko Haram insurgency began in north-eastern Nigeria a decade ago – and the violence has spread to neighboring countries, killing more than 30,000 people and forcing two million from their homes, according to the United Nations.
dw.com, bbc.com

European special unit in Mali: Eleven European countries have set up a special unit to fight Islamist terrorist groups in Mali. Germany will also participate in the mission, although only politically. The special unit will operate under the name “Tabuka” and will include several hundred emergency services. Tabuka will conduct operations in the Liptako region, the border area between Mali and Niger, under French leadership.
zeit.de

EU to launch new Libya sea patrols: EU nations have reached an agreement to launch a naval mission in the Mediterranean Sea to enforce a UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya. The new operation “Irini” will replace the EU’s current military mission “Operation Sophia”, which stopped deploying ships a year ago. The operation was discontinued as countries such as Austria and Italy argued that it acted as a pull factor for asylum seekers, encouraging migrants attempting to reach Europe via Libya to set out to sea in the hope of being rescued. With hundreds of thousands making the perilous crossing from North Africa each year and thousands dying at sea, EU ships are required under international law to rescue those in trouble. The breakthrough for the launch of operation “Irini” came after Greece offered its ports as disembarkation points for migrants saved at sea by the mission’s warships. The EU also agreed that the ships would not be deployed in the central Mediterranean, but much further east, far from the migrants’ route in the Mediterranean.
bloomberg.com, reuters.com, tagesspiegel.de

How Africa prepares for the coronavirus deutschlandfunk.de
Africa: Alcohol consumption on the rise dw.com
Corona: German World Hunger Help warns of drastic consequences in Africa topagrar.com
Western Sahara: New consulates cause trouble dw.com

– BACKGROUND –

A lot of fake news on coronavirus in Africa: Inaccurate claims and potentially dangerous medical advice is spreading in Africa even faster that the coronavirus itself. One example: “If the virus is exposed to a temperature of 26-27⁰ C. it will be killed, as it does not live in hot regions.” That, however, has not been medically proven. The rest of the message was likewise unhelpful in warding off the coronavirus: “Also drinking hot water and sun exposure will do the trick and staying away from ice cream and cold food is advised.” The World Health Organization WHO refers to the global misinformation problem as an “infodemic” and has pointed out that combatting its spread requires enormous resources, much like measures taken to control the outbreak of the virus itself. It means that aid organizations cannot just concentrate on providing resources to regions in need, they also have to fight to demonstrate their own credibility.
spiegel.de

E-learning on the rise in Africa: E-learning is very popular in many African countries. An increasing number of African entrepreneurs are entering the business and establishing platforms on which people can network and study online. The two Senegalese Massamba Thiam and Arona Gueye founded the “Afriboard Education” platform, which is used by schools, universities and companies. Many students in Senegal have “problems with crowded classrooms and the exchange of learning content. We saw a great need for alternative forms of learning,” said Thiam. The development of their platform was supported by the government of Senegal. There are around 230 African e-learning start-ups in Africa, according to one expert.
dw.com

South Africa goes into 3-week lockdown: South Africa started a three-week nationwide lockdown on Friday as the country reported its first coronavirus deaths and the number of confirmed corona cases there neared 1,000, the highest on the continent. Police and the military are enforcing an order forbidding all but essential movement. Grocery stores are allowed to remain open, but liquor stores will be closed. Activities such as jogging and dog walking are prohibited. South Africa had already closed its borders, allowing only essential supplies to come into the country. Officials said the lockdown could be extended if the situation with the growing number of infections doesn’t improve. South Africa is the most industrialized country in Africa, but it is already in a recession, with unemployment at 29%. The 21-day lockdown is certain to exacerbate its economic woes.
npr.org

– NUMBER –

Around 4,000 people in Africa have been infected with the coronavirus. Health experts fear a sharp increase in illnesses in the near future.
m.tagesspiegel.de

– QUOTE –

“Our capabilities are pretty limited. Many African countries have problems. We do not have the resources to launch economic stimulus programs that we see elsewhere in the world.”

South African analyst Jakkie Cilliers on the economic consequences of the coronavirus in Africa.
dw.com

– AT LAST –

Six million coronavirus face masks missing in Kenya: German customs officials are trying to track down about 6 million face masks, ordered to protect health workers from the coronavirus, that they say went missing at an airport in Kenya. The shipment was due in Germany on March 20th but never arrived after disappearing at the end of last week at an airport in Kenya. A German defense ministry spokeswoman said there was no financial impact from the loss of the masks as no money had been paid.
reuters.com

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