Africa Media Review for August 22, 2022

Shabab Attack on Somali Hotel Ends with 21 Dead, Officials Say
A 30-hour siege by Shabab militants at an upscale hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has left 21 people dead and more than 100 wounded, government officials said. It was a busy evening at the Hayat Hotel on Friday, with friends arriving to socialize, businesspeople dining together and families unwinding after a long week. But just after 7 p.m. local time, the militants barged in, seizing the premises, killing patrons and setting off a battle with security officers that finally ended Sunday morning. When it was all over, 21 people had been killed and 117 others wounded, according to the Somali health minister, Ali Haji Adan. Fifteen of those wounded were in critical condition, Abshir Axmad, the state minister at the president’s office, said in an interview. The attack was the first complex and sustained assault carried out by Al Shabab in the Somali capital since Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected president in May. It also joined a long list of deadly strikes on hotels, restaurants and public spaces in Mogadishu over the past decade and a half, in which hundreds of civilians lost their lives in a city trying to rebuild after a devastating civil war. The offensive also underscored how the Shabab continue to pose a threat to the stability of Somalia even in the face of high-level defections and increasing airstrikes by the United States. New York Times

Raila Odinga Files Petition to Challenge Kenyan Election Outcome
Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga has filed an electronic copy of his challenge against the results of this month’s election, a lawyer for his Azimio La Umoja coalition has told a local broadcaster. “What we did this morning is to file the online copy,” lawyer Daniel Maanzo told Kenyan television channel NTV Kenya on Monday. “After today there will be four days for the other parties to reply.” The physical filing will be done later in the day in the capital, Nairobi. Last week the electoral commission chief, Wafula Chebukati, declared Deputy President William Ruto the winner of the election by a slim margin. But four out of seven election commissioners dissented, saying the tallying of results had not been transparent. This is Odinga’s fifth stab at the presidency; he blamed several previous losses on rigging. Those disputes triggered violence that claimed more than 1,200 lives in 2007 and over 100 lives 10 years later. In 2017, the Supreme Court overturned the election result and ordered a rerun, which Odinga boycotted, saying he had no faith in the electoral commission. Al Jazeera

Senior Counsel Showdown: Top Legal Minds Face Off in Kenya Presidential Poll Petition
All eyes will, from Monday and for the next 14 days, be focused on the seven judges of the Supreme Court, who have until September 5 to determine whether or not the president-elect won validly. Deputy President William Ruto was declared winner of the presidential election and the apex court, led by Chief Justice Martha Koome, has 14 days to hear and determine the case expected to be lodged by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party candidate Raila Odinga, who has described Dr Ruto’s win a nullity which he said should be overturned.  For Chief Justice Koome and Justice William Ouko, this will be their first presidential election petition to preside over, after they were promoted from the Court of Appeal. For Justices Dr Smokin Wanjala and Njoki Ndung’u, this will be their fourth petition, having joined the Supreme Court when it was first started in 2011. For Justice Mohamed Ibrahim, who joined the apex court with the duo in 2011, this will be his second presidential election petition to preside over after he opted out of the 2017 cases over health issues. Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola will also be hearing such a petition for a third time having sat and decided on the 2017 matters. East African

Elections in Angola: The Ruling MPLA Party Holds Its Last Rally
In the final weekend leading to Angola’s general elections, the ruling MPLA party held its last rally, on August, 20. According to the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola which has been in power for the last 47 years, around 600,000 people attended the meeting organised in the outskirts of Luanda. President João Lourenço who is running for a second term took to the stage to defend his actions since 2017 and also shared some political promises such as boosting electricity production and building new refineries. “We have reminded you, what this government has done for five years. Even though we had to live with a pandemic as important as the Covid-19 pandemic for half of that period. Angola people have been able to see the many new things brought up during this mandate and that has only one meaning, the MPLA is a serious party.”, said João Lourenço. João Lourenço closed the last mass act, as they call it here in Angola, calling his supporters to vote. In his speech, he listed decisions taken by his government over the last five years without attacking his opponents. AfricaNews

Thousands Gather to Fete South Africa’s New Zulu King
Thousands of people gathered at the Zulu royal palace in South Africa for the coronation of a new king in the country’s richest and most influential traditional monarchy. Misuzulu Zulu, 47, is set to succeed his father, Goodwill Zwelithini, who died in March last year after 50 years in charge, but a bitter succession dispute threatened to overshadow the ceremony. Although the title of king does not bestow executive power, the monarchs wield great moral influence over more than 11 million Zulus, who make up nearly one-fifth of South Africa’s population. Men and women in colourful traditional outfits assembled on Saturday outside the marble palace on the hills of Nongoma, a small town in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, the Zulu heartland. Tens of thousands more were expected to arrive to honour the new sovereign. “Today, the king will be acknowledged by the whole Zulu Nation,” said Misuzulu’s sister, Princess Ntandoyesizwe Zulu, 46. Al Jazeera

Chad Starts ‘National Dialogue’ to Pave Way for Elections’
Delayed talks on Chad’s future that the ruling military says are a “decisive moment” opened despite some some opposition groups boycotting the gathering. More than 1,400 delegates from the military, civil society, opposition parties, trade unions and rebel groups gathered on Saturday in the capital, N’Djamena, for the “national dialogue” that is expected to last three weeks. The talks are the initiative of army general Mahamat Idriss Deby. Deby described the forum as a “decisive moment in history of our country” after arriving in military dress surrounded by tight security to open the forum. Earlier, he inaugurated a statue symbolising national unity at the January 15 palace in the capital before reviewing an honour guard. Deby took power in April 2021 at the age of just 37 after his father, who ruled for 30 years, was killed during a military operation against rebels. Deby has said the forum should open the way to “free and democratic” elections after 18 months of rule by his military  – a deadline that France, the African Union (AU) and others have urged him to uphold. Al Jazeera

Conditions Slow Ethiopia Government Peace Talks with TPLF
Ethiopia’s path to permanent peace is facing early bumps after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) issued conditions without which they will not take part in negotiations. On Thursday, the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reaffirmed that it is ready to engage in peace at any time and at any place. Billene Seyoum, Prime Minister’s Spokesperson said Addis Ababa was ready for talks led by the African Union, whose envoy, former president of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo has been trying to mediate. But here is where Addis Ababa differs with the TPLF. The TPLF says Kenya should mediate the conflict, not Obasanjo. Other conditions are: critical services like electricity supply, banking, telecom, transport, and fuel returned to Tigray before talks begin. However, Addis Ababa has rejected the condition saying a formal ceasefire has to be signed before any resumption essential basic services to Tigray. In spite of the demands, Addis Ababa’s seven-member Peace Committee tasked by Dr Abiy to negotiate with Tigray on Thursday unveiled a new peace proposal that it says it had deliberated upon and adopted. The peace proposal is mainly three-pronged: It proposes for peace talks to take place within the coming weeks without any preconditions, something TPLF have already placed a new demand on. East African

South Sudan’s Security Advisor in Khartoum for Bi-Lateral Talks
The security advisor to South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, Tutkew Gatluak Manime is in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum for talks aimed at strengthening relation between the two nations. He was received on arrival by Sudan’s Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) Secretary General, Mohamed Al-Ghali and Shams Edeen Kabbashi, a TSC member. Manime, SUNA reported, said his visit comes in the context of the bilateral ties between the two countries and strengthening of the joint cooperation. The South Sudanese official further carried President Salva Kiir’s message to the TSC leadership on the progress in the implementation of the peace deal. Kiir invited the Sovereign Council chairman, Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan to attend the graduation ceremony of joint forces at the end of this month. Sudan is a guarantor of the peace agreement signed in September 2018. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Offers More Oil Blocks to Russian Company
Sudan has offered more oil blocks to Russia’s Zarubezhneft oil company, at the end of a three-day visit of a high-level government delegation to Moscow. The two countries also agreed to enhance cooperation and expand trade in several other sectors.   On Wednesday, Sudanese-Russian technical talks began in Moscow, in preparation for meetings of the Russian-Sudanese intergovernmental commission on Friday. The Undersecretary of the Ministry of Minerals, Mohamed Saeed Zeinelabdeen affirmed Sudan’s readiness to enter into new partnerships with Russia, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported on Thursday. El Tahir Mohamed Abulhasan, Director of the Oil Exploration and Production Administration at the Sudanese Ministry of Oil, said at plenary session of the Russian-Sudanese intergovernmental commission on Thursday that they discussed Zarubezhneft’s proposal for investments in Sudan. “We previously provided several blocks for development, and now we have added more, in regions with gas and oil potential. I think by October we will pass on the necessary information so that they can start looking at these areas,” he stated. At the end of the joint meetings on Friday, he confirmed the deal. The Interfax Information Services Group on Thursday cited Dmitry Semyonov, head of the Russian Energy Ministry’s International Cooperation Department, who said that “the number of oil blocks for development by our Zarubezhneft company, together with Sudan’s Energy and Oil Ministry and state company Sudapec, was increased. “We also agreed with companies to discuss expanding cooperation in the oil sector beyond just production, to look at oil recovery technologies, associated gas utilisation, oil refining, petrochemicals and training,” he said. Dabanga

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI Calls for ‘Unequivocal’ Support over Western Sahara Issue
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has called on his country’s partners to “clarify” their position over the disputed Western Sahara territory and offer “unequivocal” support. “I would like to send a clear message to the world: the Sahara issue is the prism through which Morocco views its international environment,” he said in a televised speech Saturday evening. He also described the issue as the “clear and simple measure for the sincerity of friendships” between Morocco and its partners, in remarks marking the Revolution of the King and the People, a national holiday that celebrates the kingdom’s anti-colonial struggle. Rabat controls most of Western Sahara, which it views as its own territory. Morocco fought a 15-year war with the Polisario Front independence movement after Spain withdrew from its former colony in 1975. A United Nations-monitored ceasefire deal provided for a referendum, but Morocco has since rejected any vote that includes independence as an option, offering only limited autonomy. France 24

Mali Appoints Government Spokesman Abdoulaye Maiga as Interim Prime Minister
Mali has appointed an interim prime minister to act in place of leader Choguel Maiga, who is resting amid media reports he had been hospitalised. Colonel Abdoulaye Maiga, currently government spokesman and minister of territorial administration, is the new acting prime minister, a government statement said. Earlier this month, Paris-based Jeune Afrique magazine reported that Choguel Maiga had suffered a stroke, citing sources close to him. One of Choguel Maiga’s advisers denied this when contacted by Reuters, and his office said he would resume his duties by the following week. He did not. Mali is governed by a military junta that came to power in a 2020 coup and has promised to organise democratic elections in 2024. Choguel Maiga had been one of the governemt’s most outspoken voices in repeated public rows with West African neighbours and international allies who criticised its military cooperation with Russian mercenaries and repeated election delays. Reuters

Nigeria to Revoke Licenses of 52 Media Outlets
Nigeria’s broadcasting regulator on Friday announced it will revoke the licenses of 52 media organizations over unpaid fees, in a move the country’s journalist union says is “ill advised.” The head of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Balarabe Illelah, announced the decision Friday at a news conference in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, Friday. The affected stations owe the commission a combined $6.2 million (2.66 billion naira), the commission said. In a press release, the NBC said it published a list of media companies owing license fees in May and gave the organizations a grace period to pay the debt and avoid having licenses revoked. Those who had still not paid were ordered to shut down operations in the next 24 hours. Included on the list are about 20 state government media outlets, including some belonging to the ruling All Progressives Congress, or APC party. Nigeria’s Union of Journalists described the move as “hasty” and “ill advised.” In a statement, the union president, Chris Isiguzo said the broadcasting commission had failed to take account of the economic reality in Nigeria and noted that some unpaid fees dated back to 2015. Isiguzo said that the union “regret[s] the inability” of broadcasters to pay their fees and cited “dwindling resources.” Voice of America

Somali Group Al-Shabab Targets Mogadishu Hotel in Daring Attack
[Photos] The siege of a hotel in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, has ended after security forces stormed the building, killing the gunmen in an hours-long gun battle, according to military officials. The fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab armed group on Friday entered the Hayat hotel frequented by government officials after triggering explosions and gunfire. Security forces say they are clearing explosives planted by fighters in the building. Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, the latest of its frequent attempts to strike places visited by government officials. The attack on the hotel is the first major incident in Mogadishu since Somalia’s new leader, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, took office in May. Mohamed Abdirahman, director of Mogadishu’s Madina Hospital, said that 40 people were admitted there with wounds or injuries from the attack. While nine were sent home after getting treatment, five are in critical condition in the intensive care unit, he said. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones