Africa Media Review for December 12, 2023

Ceasefire Agreed in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo Conflict, US Says
A 72-hour ceasefire has been agreed to by the parties involved in the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and is backed by both the DRC and Rwanda, the White House said on Monday.”The U.S. Government will use its intelligence and diplomatic resources to monitor the activities by armed forces and non-state armed groups during the ceasefire,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said. Armed forces and non-state armed groups stopped fighting to allow for the withdrawal of forces occupying Mushaki and the RP1030 road, beginning on Monday at noon Central Africa Standard Time (1000 GMT), Watson said in a statement…A ceasefire deal brokered in November last year has reportedly been breached by the M23, according to analysts. Reuters

Explainer: What Is the UK’s Rwanda Migrant Deportation Bill?
The Rwanda scheme, agreed in April 2022 by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is designed to deter migrants from making the dangerous journey of about 20 miles (32 km) across the Channel in small boats or inflatable dinghies. Under the plan, anyone who arrived in Britain illegally after Jan. 1 last year faced being sent to Rwanda, some 4,000 miles (6,400 km) away…Last month, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a ruling that the scheme was unlawful because Rwanda was not a safe third country and migrants were at risk of being sent back to their homelands where they would be at risk of mistreatment…To address the issues raised by the Supreme Court, [British Prime Minister Rishi] Sunak has agreed a new treaty with Rwanda and brought forward emergency legislation that seeks to override any laws that would prevent the deportation scheme going ahead…The “Safety of Rwanda Bill” faces a crunch vote on Tuesday in parliament’s House of Commons where Sunak’s Conservatives currently have a working majority of 56.  Reuters

Burundi Army under EA Regional Forces Depart DRC
Nearly 1,000 Burundian soldiers have left the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a phased withdrawal by a regional force after Kinshasa refused to extend its mandate, the Burundian military said on Monday. The seven-nation East African Community (EAC) first deployed troops in the violence-plagued east of the DR Congo in November 2022, at the invitation of the country’s authorities, to free areas taken by the resurgent M23 rebel group. But the future of the deployment was thrown into doubt after President Felix Tshisekedi and local residents accused the multinational force of cohabiting with the rebels rather than forcing them to lay down arms. The Burundian battalion’s departure follows the withdrawal of nearly 250 South Sudanese soldiers and 300 Kenyan troops, after the force’s mandate expired on Friday…In addition to Kenyan, South Sudanese and Burundian troops, the EAC force comprises Ugandan soldiers, who are expected to leave in the coming weeks. AFP

UN Mission in Mali Officially Ends after 10 Years
The mission, known as MINUSMA, lowered the United Nations flag on its headquarters in the capital Bamako, its spokesperson Fatoumata Kaba said. A symbolic ceremony marked the official end of the mission, she said, even though some of the elements of it are still there…Mali’s ruling junta, which seized power in 2020, demanded in June the departure of the mission, deployed since 2013, despite being an ongoing jihadist crisis…As of Friday, more than 10,500 uniformed and civilian MINUSMA personnel had left Mali, out of a total of around 13,800 staff at the start of the withdrawal, the UN mission said on Twitter. Since being told to leave, MINUSMA has so far left 13 positions in Mali, and has yet to close sites in Gao and Timbuktu in the north. Last week, the UN mission handed over the Mopti camp in the centre of Mali, one of the hotbeds of jihadist violence that has plagued the Sahel region for years. AFP

Niger Junta Refuses to Free Ex-leader Mohamed Bazoum and Have Sanctions Dropped
Niger’s military leader has refused to release the country’s deposed president in exchange for sanctions being lifted. Ecowas – an alliance of West African countries – made the offer after a summit on Sunday. It has demanded the release of Mohamed Bazoum several times since he was put under house arrest in late July. His relatives say they have had no information about him since he tried and failed to escape from detention on 19 October. On Sunday, Ecowas leaders met with the region still in crisis after military takeovers in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea since 2020, and two attempted coups elsewhere in recent weeks. Ecowas has repeatedly demanded that Niger’s junta reinstate civilian rule as soon as possible…Niger military leader Gen Abdourahamane Tchiani told state broadcaster RTN that Mr Bazoum would not be released…In response to the general’s address, Ecowas on Monday said it would maintain its sanctions on Niger. However, it said it would create a committee to work with Niger’s junta on establishing a transition roadmap and based on the outcome of those talks, sanctions would gradually be eased. BBC

Sudan War: Two People Killed in Attack on Aid Convoy in Sudan, Says Red Cross
Two people have been killed and seven others injured in a “deliberate attack” on an aid convoy in Sudan’s capital Khartoum, the Red Cross has said. The vehicles – which the charity said were “clearly marked with a Red Cross emblem” – were due to evacuate over a hundred civilians. The wounded included three charity staff, the International Committee for the Red Cross said…The attack happened in al-Shajara neighbourhood, located in the west of the city, on Sunday, the ICRC said. It added that “over a hundred vulnerable civilians” were due to be moved from Khartoum to Wad Madani. The humanitarian operation was requested by, and coordinated with, the parties to the conflict, it said – and that both had given security guarantees…Those being evacuated included the sick, children, orphans and the elderly needed to be moved to a safer area. The evacuation operation has now been cancelled until a fresh security assessment can be made. BBC

War-Torn Sudan Faces ‘Catastrophe’ as UN Runs Out of Funds
Of nearly 25 million people in need, the United Nations has only been able to reach a fraction, according to the head of the UN’s humanitarian response in war-torn Sudan. But assistance to even those four million could soon stop, Clementine Nkweta-Salami told AFP in an interview, if the chronic lack of funding continues. The UN’s humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan says eight months into a conflict between rival generals that has torn the country apart, the situation is “catastrophic”…[D]espite the scale of the crisis, the humanitarian response remains woefully underfunded. “We’ve received only 38.6 percent” of the total $2.6 billion needed for 2023, Nkweta-Salami said. “There will come a time when even if we have (physical) access, we will not have the resources to enable us to channel the relevant assistance that we need to do,” she warned…Only recently was the UN able to regain limited access through Chad into areas of Darfur, Sudan’s vast western region where the UN has warned of “genocide.” Africanews with AFP

5 Countries in East and Southern Africa Have Anthrax Outbreaks, WHO Says, with 20 Deaths Reported
Five countries in East and southern Africa are in the middle of outbreaks of the anthrax disease, with more than 1,100 suspected cases and 20 deaths this year, the World Health Organization said Monday. A total of 1,166 suspected cases had been reported in Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Thirty-seven cases had been confirmed by laboratory tests, WHO said. It said the five countries have seasonal outbreaks every year, but Zambia was experiencing its worst since 2011 and Malawi reported its first human case this year. Uganda had reported 13 deaths. Anthrax usually affects livestock like cattle, sheep and goats, as well as wild herbivores. Humans can be infected if they are exposed to the animals or contaminated animal products…WHO said there was a high risk that the Zambian outbreak would spread to neighboring countries. The outbreaks in all five countries were “likely being driven by multiple factors, including climatic shocks, food insecurity, low-risk perception and exposure to the disease through handling the meat of infected animals,” WHO said. AP

South Africa to Seek Bids for New Nuclear Power Station
South Africa will launch a bidding process for an extra 2,500 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power by March, as the country attempts to tackle its worst power outages on record. Businesses and households have been left without power for up to 10 hours on some days this year, hitting South Africa’s economic output and prompting plans to boost generation. However, officials said on Tuesday that the new nuclear power procurement is not a short-term fix, as the first units are only expected to start operating in a decade…Ramokgopa reiterated that South Africa, which has the African continent’s only operational nuclear power plant, Koeberg, close to Cape Town, will build new ones at a scale and pace it can afford…South Africans are wary of the government’s nuclear programme after a 9,600 MW nuclear deal with Russia, initiated during Jacob Zuma’s scandal-plagued presidency, was thwarted by a court challenge in 2017. Meanwhile, financing and long-term storage options for radioactive waste remain concerns, environmentalists say. Reuters

Morocco Joins International Campaign to Phase Out Coal
Morocco on Friday joined an international campaign to phase out coal, as it plans to secure more than half of its energy needs from renewables in the next seven years. The Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA) now counts 60 national governments united by the desire to make a clean break with coal-fired power generation. Earlier at the COP 28 climate summit, the United States, the UAE, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Iceland, Kosovo, Malta and Norway joined the global initiative, PPCA said in a statement. Morocco “will work together with the PPCA to develop a plan for phasing (coal) out,” PPCA said without offering deadlines. About 70% of Morocco’s electricity is generated from coal, with renewable energy representing 20% so far this year, according to official figures. Morocco plans to raise the share of renewable energy in its energy mix to more than 52% by 2030. Reuters

Ivory Coast: Opposition Leadership Hopeful Rallies Thousands Ahead Dec 16 Party Vote
Tidjane Thiam, a former boss of banking giant Credit Suisse and favourite to lead Ivory Coast’s main opposition party before 2025 elections, drew thousands of supporters on Saturday in his first rally since announcing his candidacy. He urged 2,000 party chiefs and activists gathered in the capital Yamoussoukro to “remain united” in the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast’s (PDCI) goal of returning to power. Highlighting his banking and engineering background, Thiam outlined a programme that would promote party “decentralisation” and “the autonomy and power” of the activist base…Thiam’s early career as a government minister was interrupted in 1999 when a coup toppled president Henri Konan Bedie. The PDCI, once Ivory Coast’s sole legal party, has never regained power since and is looking for a new leader after Bedie’s death in August at 89. Thiam is also a great-nephew of Ivory Coast’s long-serving first president and PDCI founder Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Africanews

How Africans are Changing French — One Joke, Rap and Book at a Time
A growing number of words and expressions from Africa are now infusing the French language, spurred by booming populations of young people in West and Central Africa…More than 60 percent of those who speak French daily now live in Africa, and 80 percent of children studying in French are in Africa. There are as many French speakers in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as in Paris. Through social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube, they are literally spreading the word, reshaping the French language from African countries, like Ivory Coast, that were once colonized by France…The youth population in Africa is surging while the rest of the world grays. Demographers predict that by 2060, up to 85 percent of French speakers will live on the African continent. That’s nearly the inverse of the 1960s, when 90 percent of French speakers lived in European and other Western countries…“Countless artists have democratized French music with African slang,” said Elvis Adidiema, a Congolese music executive with Sony Music Entertainment. “The French public, from all backgrounds, has become accustomed to those sounds.” The New York Times