Africa Media Review for August 16, 2022

Kenya Starts to Digest the Result of a Bitterly Contested Election
After a tumultuous political day in Kenya, the country on Tuesday began to come to terms with the reality of a new president-elect, William Ruto, a sharply divided electorate and uncertainty over how the election’s apparent loser would react to defeat in a nation pivotal for the economy and stability of East Africa. Mr. Ruto, who is currently the vice president, moved quickly on Monday in a speech and news conference to cement his new status after being declared the winner of last Tuesday’s election with 50.49 percent of the vote. He called for unity and said that there was “no room for vengeance” after a hard-fought campaign. He was greeted on Tuesday with a string of flattering newspaper headlines in Kenya…But two major factors served to keep the electorate on edge. The first was a worrying split in the electoral commission, four of whose seven members said on Monday that they could not accept the outcome given the opaque nature of the vote counting. Their statement was made even before Mr. Ruto was pronounced the winner and is likely to feature in any court challenge to the election result. The second is Mr. Odinga’s silence. He is scheduled to hold a news conference later on Tuesday, but one of his leading aides described the election headquarters on Monday as a “crime scene.” New York Times

Kenya Election 2022: Poll Official Found Dead Following Vote
A Kenyan election official who went missing shortly after last Tuesday’s general election has been found dead. The body of Daniel Mbolu Musyoka was found near Mount Kilimanjaro, a long way from his base in the capital. The reasons behind his death are unknown, but the news has added to the sense of anger in the wake of the disputed presidential election result. William Ruto narrowly beat rival Raila Odinga to the presidency. But Mr Odinga’s allies have questioned this. Mr Ruto took 50.5% of the vote, official results say. Although in general this has so far been one of the most peaceful election periods in Kenya’s history, the chair of the electoral commission, Wafula Chebukati, said other staff members had been arbitrarily arrested and had faced intimidation or harassment. BBC

Al-Qaeda and Islamic State Are on the Rise in Africa
As the world remembered the chaos and tragedy that surrounded the U.S. and allied withdrawal from Afghanistan a year ago, a quieter exit took place Monday. The last French troops left Mali for neighboring Niger, drawing to a formal close a near-decade-long mission in the sprawling West African nation of 21 million people. Their presence in Mali had begun in 2013 as part of an ambitious Paris-led effort to fight back an Islamist militant threat that was spreading across the vast region between desert and savanna known as the Sahel…Last week, Martin Ewi, a South Africa-based analyst, briefed the U.N. Security Council on the scale of the threat, pointing to how the Islamic State was active in more than 20 African countries already, and warned that the continent may represent “the future of the caliphate.” Washington Post

Germany Suspends Participation in Mali Military Mission
Germany announced Friday that it was suspending its participation in a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali after the West African nation refused to grant a civilian aircraft carrying German troops permission to use its airspace. The flight was part of a troop rotation, and German officials said it was not the first time Mali has denied overflight permission. Germany’s defense minister, Christine Lambrecht, alleged her Malian counterpart, Sadio Camara, had not adhered to agreements. German troops will now focus on ensuring their own security, her ministry said. “Camaras’ actions speak a different language than his words,” Lambrecht said “We must therefore take measures and suspend the operation of our reconnaissance forces and transport flights (with helicopters) until further notice.” Germany announced earlier in the year that it was drawing down its participation in a European Union military mission in Mali after France pulled out. But Germany continued to provide troops to the U.N.’s MINUSMA peacekeeping mission in the West African nation. AP

Mali PM on ‘Forced Rest’, His Office Says
Mali Prime Minister Choguel Maiga has been ordered by his doctor to rest after months of intense exertion, his office said on Saturday, while an adviser denied media reports that he had been hospitalised after suffering a stroke. “After 14 months of working without a break, the prime minister, head of government, Choguel Kokalla Maiga was placed on forced rest by his doctor,” his office said on its Facebook page. “He will resume his activities next week, God-willing.” Paris-based Jeune Afrique magazine first reported that Maiga had suffered a stroke, citing sources close to him. An adviser to Maiga, reached by Reuters, denied this. Mali’s ruling junta named Maiga, a former opposition leader, as prime minister of the transitional government it leads in June of last year. The junta came to power in an August 2020 coup and has promised to organise democratic elections in 2024. Maiga has been one of the government’s most outspoken voices in repeated public rows with West African neighbours and international partners who have criticised its military cooperation with Russian mercenaries and repeated election delays. Reuters

Malians Convinced French Troops’ Withdrawal Won’t Change Anything
A section of Malians is not convinced enough that their country’s security element will change. After the last French soldiers completed their withdrawal from Mali more than nine years, some Malians believe their country’s military can handle the security issues in the west African state. France pulled out of the country in the face of deep hostility after falling out with colonels who seized power nearly two years ago. “I, like many other Malians, have been waiting impatiently for the departure of the foreign troops, but after this departure that we are all waiting for, there are many things to do. We have to work hard to fill this void, it is up to us Malians to work hand in hand to fill this void,” said Adama Cissé, a member of the political party ADEMA. To some, this is the time for the country to steer ahead its political ambitions while adding that French troops’ withdrawal will not change any dynamic. “People have not understood that if France leaves or stays it will not change anything, Mali must take its responsibilities in hand, whether France leaves or stays it must take its responsibility.” Barkhane initially deploys 3,000 troops, rising to 5,100 troops at its peak. The force operates in cooperation with five allied countries — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. On July 1 Paris announces the end of Takuba, and on Monday Barkhane officially comes to a close. Now out of Mali, France has halved its presence in the Sahel, with just 2,500 militaries now remaining in the region. AfricaNews with AFP

Al Qaeda Affiliate Claims It Killed Four Russian Mercenaries in Mali
Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Mali claimed on Monday it had killed four mercenaries from Russia’s private military firm Wagner Group in an ambush around Bandiagara in central Mali. The media unit for Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM), said in a statement its fighters clashed with the mercenaries on Saturday in Mopti region, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist statements. Wagner has no public representation and could not be reached for comment. Mali is struggling to stem an Islamist insurgency that took root after a 2012 uprising and has since spread to neighbouring countries, killing thousands and displacing millions across West Africa’s Sahel region. Wagner began supplying hundreds of fighters last year to support the Malian military and has since been accused by human rights groups and local residents of participating in massacres of civilians – accusations it has not responded to. The Russian government has acknowledged Wagner personnel are in Mali but the Malian government has described them as instructors from the Russian military rather then private security contractors. Reuters

Mali Charges 49 Ivory Coast Soldiers Detained Since July
A Mali prosecutor says the 49 Ivory Coast soldiers held in Mali since July on accusations of being mercenaries have now been charged with undermining state security. Mali’s prosecutor in the counterterrorism unit gave the update on the soldiers’ situation. Ivory Coast has been demanding the release of the soldiers since their detention July 10. The soldiers are charged with “criminal association, attack and conspiracy against the government, undermining the external security of the state, possession, carrying and transportation of weapons of war and complicity in these crimes,” the specialized prosecutor Samba Sissoko said in a statement released Sunday. “Investigations will be carried out in order to establish the truth, identify all possible perpetrators, co-perpetrators and accomplices.” The Ivorian soldiers were detained upon their arrival in Mali at the airport in Bamako, the capital. They were sent to Mali to secure a building belonging to an airline company that was carrying out a contract with the German contingent of peacekeepers with the United Nations mission in Mali. However, Mali’s ruling junta considers the Ivorian soldiers to be “mercenaries” because they are not directly employed by the U.N. mission and therefore are not “national support elements.” AP

Residents in Nigeria’s Capital Abuja Live in Fear
Residents in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, are living in fear since gunmen attacked the Kuje prison on the night of the 5th of July. Hundreds of inmates escaped the prison. Many have since been re-arrested or turned themselves in. The attack was claimed by the Islamic State group affiliate in Nigeria, ISWAP, that usually operates far away in the northeast. Local residents fear a return to violence in the region. “Since the bandits came into the prison, Hmnn! We are all afraid because no one expected it here in Kuje, especially here in particular being where the big prison is, in Abuja, we never expected it”, said Assumpta Mgbe Ihejiaka, a Kuje based shop owner. The insurgents have claimed several attacks in states surrounding the Federal Capital Territory over recent months. After the attack in Kuje the police and the military announced new measures to improve security. These, however, failed to convince residents. “I’ve been a taxi driver in Abuja since 1990 and the issue of insecurity in Abuja now, honestly is pathetic and it is a problem to all of us. We the drivers are at the receiving ends” complained Segun Afolayan, Abuja city cab driver. In addition to the threat posed by ISWAP, residents are also worried by heavily-armed criminals known as bandits who kidnap and kill. “The Nigerian situation now in Abuja is so bad, somebody can come right into your house and kidnap you, like they do in other states. So you have to be very careful. The government is doing, but they are not doing much, they are not doing enough to secure the people”, admitted government worker Margaret Bassey. AfricaNews

Nigeria’s Inflation Rose for the Sixth Consecutive Month to Reach a 17-Year High
The rise in food and airline ticket prices in Nigeria over the past year continues to show up in the data. In July, Nigerians paid 19.64% more for goods and services than they did in the same month last year, according to the latest inflation report (pdf) from the National Bureau of Statistics today (Aug. 15). With that figure, Nigeria has now had six consecutive months of increased inflation. The July 2022 inflation rate is Nigeria’s highest since 2005. A wave of rising inflation has affected many countries around the world this year. Rates have doubled in 37 of 44 advanced economies since 2020, Pew Research said. In west Africa, Ghana and Nigeria stand out among the most affected, with Ghana seeking the IMF’s help after inflation reached a 19-year high of 29.4% in June. Inflationary pressures have seen Ghana’s central bank raise lending rates by 6.6% this year, according to McKinsey and Company. Only Argentina has raised interest rates by a higher figure. Quartz Africa

Nowhere to Run: The Plight of Eritrean Refugees in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has hosted large numbers of Eritrean refugees for years. Before the recent conflict, about 100,000 Eritrean refugees lived in camps in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region. They have fled some of the worst human rights conditions in the world, including widespread persecution and forced military conscription. Eritrea is a highly authoritarian country. Those who speak out, or are even suspected of opposition to government policy, have been jailed for years, tortured, executed, and disappeared. However, since late 2020, these Eritrean refugees found themselves caught up in the conflict between Tigrayan forces, the central government, and other regional armed groups. The conflict quickly spiralled into a full-fledged civil war, with dangerous ethnic dimensions. It has made many parts of Ethiopia unsafe for the refugees. There has been progress toward peace, but the humanitarian need for Ethiopians and refugees that it hosts is still great. In fact, the World Food Programme just announced that it could run out of food for refugees as soon as October if action is not taken. East African

Amid Energy Crisis, EU Plans to Help Gas-Rich Mozambique Boost Security
The European Union is planning a five-fold increase in financial support to an African military mission in Mozambique, an internal EU document shows, as Islamist attacks threaten gas projects meant to reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian energy. The energy squeeze due to the Ukraine war has added impetus to Europe’s scramble for gas off Mozambique’s northern coast, where Western oil firms are planning to build a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal. The move also comes as the West seeks to counter Russian and Chinese influence in the southern African nation, three years after Russian private military firm Wagner withdrew most of its forces following a string of defeats by Islamist militants. Mozambique has been grappling with militants linked to the Islamic State in its northernmost gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, near LNG projects worth billions of dollars. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones