Africa Media Review for April 29, 2024

Burkina Faso Suspends More International News Media, including Le Monde
Burkina Faso has suspended several international news organizations, some of them for an indefinite period, according to a statement from communications regulator the CSC on Sunday, April 28. Among those named in the weekend order are French newspaper Le Monde, British publication The Guardian, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and French broadcaster TV5 Monde. They were suspended for reporting on a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that accused the army of attacks on civilians in its battle against jihadists. Other news media named in the latest statement, dated Saturday, were French regional newspaper Ouest-France, APAnews and Agence Ecofin. Already on Thursday, the CSC announced it had directed internet service providers to suspend access to the BBC, VOA and Human Rights Watch from Burkinabe territory for two weeks. Le Monde with AFP

Togo Holds Key Parliament Ballot after Divisive Reform
Togolese began voting in legislative elections on Monday after a divisive constitutional reform that opponents say allows President Faure Gnassingbe to extend his family’s decades-long grip on power. The ballot comes after lawmakers this month approved the reform creating a new prime minister-style post opponents believe is tailored for Gnassingbe to avoid presidential term limits and stay in office…Monday’s vote will elect 113 lawmakers and 179 regional deputies from the country’s five districts who, along with municipal councilors, will elect a newly created senate…Togo’s shift from a presidential to a parliamentary system means power now resides with the new president of the council of ministers, a sort of super-prime minister, who automatically will be the leader of the majority party in the new assembly. AFP

South Africa: Security Teams on Alert to Mitigate Violence and Intimidation at 500 High-Risk Voting Stations
With the elections only 30 days away, the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster briefed the nation on the level of preparedness to ensure the safety and security of the landmark elections. While the JCPS was elusive about specific details of security plans, Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) and the Provincial Joint Operation and Intelligence Structure had joined forces to ensure a coordinated and intelligence-led planning of operations, during and after the highly contested elections to curb intimidation and violence…Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that out of more than 23,000 voting stations nationwide, only 500 have been classified as high risk. Daily Maverick

Digital Disinformation Threatens African Elections, Activists Say
[VIDEO] At least 16 African countries, including South Africa, will hold elections in the remaining months of 2024. Voters who go online for political news are risking exposure to disinformation and misinformation. But a new digital ethics organization aims to help journalists and activists identify false and misleading content so they can educate the public. VOA

Sudan: RSF Commander Warns of Attack on El-Fasher, Urges Surrender
Heightening tensions in Darfur, a prominent Rapid Support Forces (RSF) commander called on the Sudanese army and allied former rebel groups in the capital of North Darfur State El-Fsher to surrender before facing an offensive on the city. The United Nations, the United States, the Kindom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the African Union have expressed grave concerns about the potential attack on El Fasher, a city sheltering tens of thousands of civilians displaced by the ongoing conflict in Darfur. For weeks, the RSF has been mobilizing thousands of fighters, including some from Arab tribal militias, around the capital of North Darfur, raising fears of an imminent assault. In response, the army and allied rebel groups have bolstered their defences in heavily populated neighbourhoods crowded with war victims…El Fasher remains the lone major city in Darfur that is not under RSF control. In recent months, the RSF has captured South, Central, East, and West Darfur. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: El Fasher Clashes Displace over 70,000, Official Says
The recent clashes in El Fasher between the Sudanese army, allied armed movements, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have displaced over 70,000 people, a North Darfur state government official revealed on Sunday. The UN warned last Friday of a potential humanitarian catastrophe if the RSF attacks El Fasher, a city already crowded with war victims. Tensions have escalated with reports of increased RSF presence and gatherings by Arab tribal supporters around the city. According to the official, speaking to Sudan Tribune, more than 13,825 families have fled to the western areas of Golo, Shaqra, Abu Daqis, and Zamzam displacement camps. This brings the total displaced population to an estimated 73,883…Press reports allege ethnically motivated attacks by the RSF and allied militias on villages west of El Fasher, triggering the mass displacement. Sudan Tribune

Kenya to Hold South Sudan Mediation in Coming Days
Kenya will hold mediation between South Sudan government and its hold-out groups in the coming days, an official said. Gen. Lazaro Sumbeiywo, the retired Kenyan army officer appointed by President William Ruto to oversee talks between South Sudan government and the holdouts armed and non-armed groups signaled a positive start to the peace process…In December last year, President Kiir, through the Minister of Presidential Affairs Bangasi Joseph Bakasoro, asked the Kenyan President to mediate between the government and the non-signatories to the September 2018 peace agreement. Sudan Tribune

Let Us Press On with UK Migrant Plan, Rwanda Tells Critics
Rwandan President Paul Kagame’s government said on Friday it would take as many migrants as Britain sends its way and urged “shouting” critics of the deportation plan to now let both nations proceed. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expects first flights to leave in 10-12 weeks after parliament passed legislation this week to sidestep legal objections that the migrants could be sent back to nations where they may face mistreatment…[Kagame’s] government has been accused by Western nations and rights activists of muzzling the media, repressing critics, and backing rebel groups in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Reuters

Egyptian Delegation in Israel for Talks on Gaza Hostages
An Egyptian delegation met Israeli counterparts on Friday, looking for a way to restart talks to end the war in Gaza and return the remaining Israeli hostages, an official briefed on the meetings said…Citing two Israeli officials, Axios reported that Israeli officials told their Egyptian counterparts on Friday that Israel is ready to give hostage negotiations “one last chance” to reach a deal with Hamas before moving forward with an invasion of Rafah, the last refuge for around a million Palestinians who fled Israeli forces further north in Gaza earlier in the war…The visit by the Egyptian delegation followed Israeli media reports of a visit to Cairo on Thursday by the Israeli army chief, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, and Ronen Bar, the head of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service. Egypt, concerned about a potential influx of Palestinian refugees from neighbouring Gaza if the war continues with the long-promised Israeli offensive into the southern city of Rafah, has taken an increasingly active role in the negotiations. Reuters

Nigeria Landmine Blast Kills 11 Anti-jihadi Militia Fighters
Eleven militia fighters working alongside Nigeria’s military to battle jihadis were killed Saturday in the country’s northeast when their vehicle hit a landmine on a highway near the border with Cameroon, two militia sources told AFP. Jihadis in Nigeria are increasingly resorting to planting mines on highways to target military and civilian convoys after they were pushed back from the territory they once controlled during the early years of the country’s more than 15-year Islamist insurgency. The militia fighters were escorting a civilian convoy from the town of Gamboru in Borno State to the regional capital Maiduguri when around 1230GMT their vehicle drove over a landmine suspected to have been planted by jihadis at Damno village, the two sources said. AFP

Navy Recruits 1,486 to Tackle Oil Theft, Piracy
Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, says the Nigeria Navy has recruited 1,486 personnel to boost the manpower needed for effective internal security operations in the Niger Delta. Mr Matawalle said this during the Passing Out Parade (POP) of Nigerian Navy’s Batch 35 Trainees at the Nigeria Navy Basic Training School in Onne, Rivers, on Saturday. He said that the ratings went through six months extensive warfare and maritime combat training to equip them for the ongoing fight against oil thieves, pipeline vandals, and sea pirates, among other criminals…He urged the new naval ratings to be disciplined, obedient and apolitical, and exhibit unwavering loyalty to the military and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Premium Times

Somalia: Why Turkey, Atmis Jostle for Control of Mogadishu Port
The African Union peacekeepers in Somalia say they will not cede the security of the strategic commercial infrastructure yet, even as they hand over more responsibilities to the Somali National Army. The Mogadishu seaport remains key to securing the capital and intercepting supplies that sustain Al-Shabaab warfare. The port is where national, regional, global — and even parochial — interests in Somalia play out: Turks want it for economic reasons; the peacekeepers want it for security and tactical operations; the Somalis want it for business; and the Shabaab want it to sustain their war chest. Officers of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (Atmis) say the seaport is strategic for the Somalia government and the AU force as the main supply route and alternative exit in case of any emergency, and as such, it remains a high Shabaab target. The EastAfrican

DR Congo Demands Answers from Apple over ‘Blood Mineral’ Supply Chain Concerns
Lawyers representing the DR Congo have written to Apple CEO Tim Cook demanding answers on the sourcing of minerals used to manufacture the company’s products. The lawyers shared concerns that Apple’s supply chain may be tainted by blood minerals — those obtained through unethical mining practices — from the DRC. The group of lawyers, led by Robert Amsterdam of Amsterdam & Partners LLP in Washington DC and William Bourdon of Bourdon & Associés in Paris, also wrote to Apple subsidiaries in France, demanding a response within three weeks. Amsterdam & Partners said it was appointed to represent DRC in litigation related to “individuals and companies involved in the chain of extraction, supply and commercialization of natural resources and minerals pillaged from the DRC.” The law firm also released a new report on Thursday that repeats accusations that DRC’s neighbor Rwanda is backing militant group M23 in eastern Congo to control lucrative mineral trade routes. Semafor

Sierra Leone Energy Minister Resigns over Electricity Crisis, as Power Returns to Capital
Sierra Leone’s Energy Minister Kanja Sesay resigned on Friday over a weeks-long electricity crisis, the same day the government announced it had paid some of the tens of millions of dollars it owed to energy providers. In his resignation letter on Friday, Sesay said he took full responsibility for the crisis. The office of the President Julius Maada Bio later announced that the energy ministry would fall under the direct supervision of the president. Shortly after Sesay’s resignation, the government said in a statement that it had paid $17 million of the $48 million owed to Turkey’s Karpowership, which provides electricity to the capital Freetown. Reuters

Repatriated South African Apartheid-Era Artworks on Display to Celebrate 30 Years of Democracy
A selection of South African artworks produced during the country’s apartheid era which ended up in foreign art collections is on display in Johannesburg to mark 30 years since the country’s transition to democracy in 1994. Most of the artworks were taken out of the country by foreign tourists and diplomats who had viewed them at the Australian Embassy in the capital, Pretoria. The embassy had opened its doors to Black artists from the townships to be recognized and have their artworks on full display to the public. The artworks, which reflect the daily struggles of the country’s Black majority during the apartheid era and the effects of racial segregation policies, are on display alongside works by some of South Africa’s exciting contemporary artists. The exhibition creates a blend of perspectives on South Africa through the eyes of artists who lived during and after the country’s most difficult period. AP