Africa Media Review for April 2, 2024

Key Takeaways from Senegal’s Presidential Election
The outcome of the election will have many implications for the content of public policy in Senegal, given that Faye and PASTEF have campaigned on the basis of offering a “rupture” or break from the approaches of the past. However, the process through which Senegalese institutions and the Senegalese people have managed the contention around the holding of the 2024 elections may matter even more for the future of accountable governance…The dynamics of support within the coalitions of the leading candidates thus seemed to be characterized by two tendencies: solidarity within the Faye camp and division within the [Amadou] Ba camp. This combination produced a surprising result: the opposition’s victory in the first round…President Faye will inherit a demanding policy space. Given Senegal’s oil and gas discoveries, Faye called for a strategic approach toward contract negotiations to ensure that citizens reap the benefits. Senegal also faces a high rate of youth unemployment, a dynamic of irregular migration the management of which may require a migration governance policy, and challenges posed by the high cost of living. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Cameroon Opposition: Senegal Is Example for Fair Elections, Ousting Entrenched Leader
[Members of Cameroon’s opposition parties] say it’s time for change in Cameroon, where President Paul Biya, now in his 90s, has ruled for more than four decades and is preparing to run for re-election…The opposition says Senegal’s election shows it is possible to stop leaders from clinging to power…But Samson Websi, political analyst at Cameroon’s National Institute of Management and Technology says it will be difficult to oust Biya in an election. He says unlike in Senegal where government institutions are independent, Biya has loyalists planted throughout the government…”Parliament in Cameroon is virtually at the beck and call of the executive. The judiciary in Cameroon is not independent. The president of the republic [Biya] is the head of the judiciary. He is the one who guarantees the independence of the judiciary, which means that democracy is in trouble.” VOA

South African Election Turns Populist as Parties Play Anti-foreigner Card
A clutch of opposition parties, often championing identity politics or anti-immigrant sentiment, have emerged ahead of the May 29 vote…Jacob Zuma, the former president, this week released a TikTok video that claimed there was “no crime” in South Africa “before foreign nationals came”…[Zuma’s new party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK)]…is widely regarded as courting chauvinist sentiment among Zulu people, the country’s biggest ethnic group. Separately, the Patriotic Alliance — which frequently uses the anti-immigration slogan abahambe, meaning “they must go” in Zulu — has appealed primarily to communities that identify as “coloured”, while the Freedom Front Plus, a rightwing Afrikaner party, has supported CapeXit, the independence of Western Cape from the rest of South Africa. “The rise of xenophobic, patriarchal types of politics arises out of the manipulation of black political disappointment,” said Joel Modiri, associate professor at the University of Pretoria. Financial Times

Egypt’s Sisi Sworn In for Third Term
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in for his third term on Tuesday in the country’s new capital, the largest of the mega-projects that have signified his rule while stretching the country’s finances. Sisi swept to victory in an election last December with 89.6% of the vote and no serious challengers. While his message of stability and security resonated with some voters with the war raging in neighbouring Gaza, many showed indifference, occupied with rising prices and considering the result a foregone conclusion…Sisi, a former intelligence general, rose to power in 2013 after deposing of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s only freely elected president. Rights groups estimate tens of thousands of people including liberal activists as well as Islamists have been jailed since Mursi’s ouster. Reuters

DR Congo President Appoints Country’s First Female Prime Minister
Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi on Monday appointed the country’s first ever female prime minister, naming planning minister Judith Suminwa to the role. Her appointment ends weeks of uncertainty. Tshisekedi’s inauguration for a second term in January kickstarted a lengthy search for a majority coalition in the National Assembly – a key step before a prime minister could be named and a government formed…The authorities face a raft of challenges including a worsening conflict and humanitarian crisis in eastern regions and the management of Congo’s considerable mineral wealth. Reuters

DRC Declared High-Burden, Epicentre of Typhoid Fever
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the epicentre of typhoid fever, a survey shows. According to the Severe Typhoid in Africa programme, which offers new typhoid fever burden estimates from six high burden countries on the continent — DRC, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria — the country is exhibiting a high incidence rate with 315 cases per 100,000 individuals. Four countries recorded more than 100 cases for every 100,000 person-to-years of observation, which is considered a high burden…Without prompt treatment, severe complications such as intestinal perforation or neurological issues may develop, leading to lasting consequences, and even death. There is a high burden of typhoid fever in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the study in The Lancet Global Health, with an estimated 12.5 million to 16.3 million cases of typhoid every year with 140,000 deaths. The EastAfrican

Multidimensional Crises Destabilize Mali, Expert Tells UN
An independent expert warns that multifaceted crises facing Mali, propelled by increasing attacks from Islamist armed groups, are leading to a rapid deterioration of the country’s security situation and surging human rights violations, with potentially serious effects in the region. “I reiterate my serious concerns by the rapid and continuing deterioration of the security situation in almost all regions of Mali that appears to be escaping from all control of the authorities,” said Alioune Tine, an independent expert on human rights in Mali…The independent expert expressed serious concern about attacks on civilians and Malian defense and security forces by violent extremist groups. Beginning with December 2023, the report documents numerous cases of killings and injuries from improvised explosive devices, kidnappings of civilians, pillaging, armed robberies, extortion and destruction of property. VOA

Insecurity Erodes Chances of Return to Civilian Rule in Niger and Mali
In Mali, the junta has been in power since May 2021, after the country’s second coup in ten months. Niger has been ruled by military leaders since they took over in a July 2023 coup, citing a worsening security situation as justification for the power grab. Since then jihadist violence, which had already plagued the Sahel region for most of a decade, has continued and even worsened…Groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State have operated in Niger’s Tillaberi region – which borders Mali, Burkina Faso and Benin – since 2017, despite a massive deployment of anti-jihadist forces. In Mali, armed forces and foreign fighters from Russia’s Wagner Group have “unlawfully killed and summarily executed several dozen civilians in counterinsurgency operations since December 2023”, according to the NGO Human Rights Watch. The insecurity exposes the limits of military power. “They have not brought back even the safety they claimed to be able to bring back,” [Seidik Abba, a Nigerien writer and Sahel expert, told RFI.]

All Parties to Conflict in CAR Violate Civilians’ Human Rights, Experts Say
Human rights experts accuse all parties to the conflict in the Central African Republic of perpetrating serious human rights abuses and violations against the civilian population. The experts, who held a high-level dialogue at the United Nations Human Rights Council Thursday to assess developments in the CAR, warned that the ongoing violence and instability in the country have adversely affected the human rights of civilians and kept the country mired in poverty. Nada Al-Nashif, the U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights, blamed armed groups for “51% of the abuses and state actors for the remaining 49% of violations.” She said between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, 2,100 abuses and violations were reported by U.N. peacekeeping forces, known as MINUSCA, affecting 4,676 victims. VOA

Tensions in North Darfur Mount as RSF Mobilizes Near Armed Group Stronghold
Fears of renewed conflict are mounting in Mellit, North Darfur, as tensions escalate between armed movements aligned with the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF reportedly deployed heavily armed fighters near Mellit, sparking fears of a military clash in the remote area. This follows a month of deteriorating relations between the RSF and several factions of the Darfur Joint Force, including those led by Minni Minawi, Gibril Ibrahim, and a splinter group of the Gathering of Sudan Liberation Forces Rally (GSLF). These factions declared their alliance with the Sudanese army in opposition to the paramilitary forces…The joint force, composed of signatories to the peace agreement, controls Mellit, a strategic town bordering Libya that houses a key customs point and lies on the government-designated route for delivering humanitarian aid to Darfur…Mellit is a strategic gateway to North Darfur from the Libyan border. A potential outbreak of violence in Mellit could severely disrupt this vital aid flow. Sudan Tribune

TikTok Strikes Deal with AU amid Increased Scrutiny over Data Use
Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok has announced a new campaign to educate Africans about online safety, amid increased scrutiny from countries on the continent…The new campaign will be rolled out across the continent on the digital platform and on the ground, in partnership with the African Union Commission’s Women, Gender and Youth Directorate (WGYD)…Launched on the sidelines of the TikTok Safer Internet Summit in Accra, Ghana last week, the new campaign comes at a time when TikTok is facing existential challenges in Africa and beyond, with many questioning the security of user information on the platform…In Kenya, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki last week told lawmakers that the government is considering barring civil servants from using TikTok, as part of the measures to ensure security of sensitive information…Somalia in August last year banned TikTok, citing the harm it had caused to social morals and cultural values in the horn of Africa country, coming days after Senegal also banned the platform, citing security risks. The EastAfrican

AfDB Bans Chinese Road Builder for Graft in Uganda
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has banned a Chinese road builder, China Henan International Corporation Group (Chico), for engaging in “fraudulent activity” in a project the lender is funding in Uganda. The ban on the Henan-based constructor will last 12 months effective March 28, a period in which Chico will not be able to participate in any new AfDB-funded projects on the continent including Kenya where it has an ongoing project. An AfDB investigation revealed that the Chinese road builder “failed to disclose the use of a commission agent while submitting a bid in the context of a tender for the procurement of civil works for upgrading of Rukungiri-Kihihi-Ishasha/Kanungu to bituminous standard, a component of the Road Sector Support Project in Uganda,” it said on Thursday…Chico has road projects in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, funded by the AfDB, World Bank, and local governments, some of which have also been marred in various ways. The EastAfrican

Ethiopia Repatriates 70,000 Nationals from Saudi Arabia
Ethiopia has opted to take back thousands of its nationals who had been living in squalid conditions in Saudi Arabia. The decision was announced last week in Addis Ababa but will actually begin in early April, targeting some 70,000 Ethiopians… State Minister Birtukan Ayano said the repatriation, the third such programme since 2018, will target “Ethiopians who are in a difficult situation”…Tayba Hassan, director-general of Refugees and Returnees, the Ethiopian agency charged with managing displacement in the country, said regional administrations are expected to ensure the returnees resettle in their native home areas. Ethiopia has in the past relied on donors to resettle nationals rescued from squalor abroad. The EastAfrican

Lack of Rain, Heat Could Hinder Ivory Coast Cocoa Mid-crop, Farmers Say
Lack of rain and strong sun in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa regions last week could hinder the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday. The world’s top cocoa producer just started its rainy season, which runs officially from April to mid-November. Rains are usually abundant during this time. Several farmers across the country have reported a rise in temperature compared with the previous week, sapping soil moisture. They said they were concerned about the impact of the past week’s weather on the small pods and cherelles meant to be harvested from mid-August. Marketing for the mid-crop officially opens in early April, with a new farmgate price set by the government. Most farmers said they were holding onto beans as they expected the price to increase to 1,500 CFA francs ($2.48) per kilogram, up from the 1,000 CFA. Reuters