Africa Media Review for December 13, 2023

Africa-India Cooperation Sets Benchmark for Partnership
Since the 1960s, India’s prime ministers have visited Africa 76 times, a level of engagement unmatched by Africa’s other external partners. Between 2015 and 2022, New Delhi received over 100 African leaders, while each African country received an Indian cabinet minister. Indo-African ties cover culture, education, trade, technical cooperation, energy, agriculture, maritime security, peacekeeping, and professional military education. India also builds capacity for good governance through institutions like the India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management, which has trained hundreds of African and Asian stakeholders…India is also the second largest lender in Africa, with strong public-private partnerships and safeguards protecting borrowers from debt distress. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

INTERVIEW: ‘Climate of Division’ Creating More Challenging Environment for UN Peacekeeping
UN peacekeeping missions in Sub-Saharan Africa are operating under more challenging political and security conditions due to a multiplication of crises and a “climate of division” amongst Member States, particularly in the Security Council. That’s according to the head of UN Peacekeeping, Jean-Pierre Lacroix….UN News: You’ve just returned from a visit to Mali, where the mission, MINUSMA, is in the process of closing. How is the drawdown going? Jean-Pierre Lacroix: The drawdown is quite well advanced. We have more than 10,000 colleagues who have already left Mali out of a total of slightly more than 13,500. So, we’re on the way to completing this drawdown by the 31st of December as planned…UN News: The landscape of insecurity in Africa is changing rapidly. How is UN peacekeeping adapting to that change? Jean-Pierre Lacroix: I think it’s important to note that peacekeepers seriously mitigate the impact of this widespread insecurity in many areas in Africa. If you look at some of the countries or regions where we no longer have peacekeepers, for example Darfur, it should give us reason to pause and to think about the added value of peacekeepers. UN News

Congo Opposition Candidate Suspends Presidential Campaign after Violence
One of the main opposition candidates for Congo’s presidential election next week, Moise Katumbi, suspended part of his campaign on Wednesday after violent clashes at one of his election rallies. Live rounds were fired and several people were injured as Katumbi addressed supporters in the coastal town of Moanda on Tuesday, marking an escalation in tension ahead of the Dec. 20 vote. There are differing accounts of the incident. The provincial government said in a statement that Katumbi’s guards fired warning shots after the crowd grew rowdy, stoking tension and jostling. The police used tear gas to restore order…Katumbi said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that police shot live bullets at people and that the incident had been orchestrated to create violence…Kananga and Tshikapa are in the Kasai-Central province, which is a stronghold for President Felix Tshisekedi’s supporters. Reuters

Somalia: Rising Tension Due to Proposed Constitutional Changes
Some Somali lawmakers are introducing controversial constitutional amendments to pave way for the adoption of universal suffrage to replace the existing 4.5 clan-based electoral system. On 27 November, a section of federal parliamentarians from the House of the People announced the formation of a National Correction Caucus, which they say is aimed at safeguarding Somalia’s constitutional framework. The current political structure is being challenged by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who is spearheading a change from a parliamentary to presidential system, to do away with the position of prime minister, replacing the role with a deputy president…The 4.5 formula was first introduced in 1997 as a transitory arrangement to manage political and governance representation at the federal level, following the outbreak of Somalia’s civil war. This power-sharing arrangement gave full share of power to four main clans and a half-share to a grouping of smaller clans…The proposed radical changes indicate the country will have two political parties to compete democratically in one-person-one-vote federal elections…The move to upend Somalia’s political system from parliamentary to presidential faces headwinds, as many view the changes as a way of centralising power in the presidency.  The Africa Report

Rwanda to Hold Presidential Poll Next July
Rwanda will hold presidential and parliamentary polls on July 15 next year, the election commission said Tuesday, with President Paul Kagame due to run for a fourth term in office…Kagame, 66, has ruled over the landlocked African nation with an iron fist for decades. He presided over controversial constitutional amendments in 2015 that allowed him to run for more terms and stay in power until 2034. A former rebel chief, Kagame became president in April 2000 but has been the country’s de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide. He was returned to office — with more than 90 percent of the vote — in elections in 2003, 2010 and 2017…While Rwanda lays claim to being one of the most stable countries in Africa, rights groups accuse Kagame of ruling in a climate of fear, stifling dissent and free speech. AFP

UK PM Sunak Wins Leadership Test over Rwanda Plan… for Now
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Tuesday faced down rebels in his ruling Conservative party by winning a knife-edge parliamentary vote on his latest plans to send migrants to Rwanda…In a tense vote after an afternoon of debate, he saw off a Tory rebellion, winning the first substantive hearing of the so-called Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill…The emergency bill, published just last week, is Sunak’s answer to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling last month that deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda was illegal under international law…But by seeking to declare Rwanda safe — despite concerns from human rights monitors — and removing legal challenges to deportation orders, Sunak has triggered deep factional Tory infighting not seen since wrangling over what form Brexit should take. AFP

Tunisia Opposition Figure Issa Denounces Military Prosecution as Creating Fear about Civil Freedoms
A prominent opposition figure on trial in Tunisia on charges of undermining state security warned Tuesday that efforts to prosecute her are sowing fear about civil rights and liberties. Chaima Issa, a leader in the coalition of parties opposed to President Kais Saied, spoke to journalists outside a military court despite a gag order. She criticized the charges as politically motivated before walking into the military court hearing…To government critics, her case encapsulates growing fears about democratic backsliding in Tunisia under Saied. Prosecutors have accused Issa of “plotting against state security” and jailed her as part of a wave of arrests targeting opposition figures…Critics of the president have increasingly faced prosecution and arrests. More than 20 have been charged in military courts with “plotting against state security.” Public prosecutors began investigating Issa after she criticized authorities on the country’s most prominent radio station in February. AP

Ethiopia Arrests Former Peace Minister over Alleged Links to an Outlawed Rebel Group
Ethiopia’s peace minister has been fired and arrested for having alleged links to an outlawed rebel group after he made a series of social media posts criticizing the government. Federal police released a statement Tuesday accusing Taye Dendea of “collaborating with anti-peace forces that are trying to destroy Ethiopia” and of belonging to the Oromo Liberation Army, which is banned as a terrorist organization…The OLA is waging a long-running insurgency against the government. It claims to be fighting for greater representation for the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, but has been accused of ethnic-based attacks on other groups. Human rights groups, meanwhile, have accused the government of targeting civilians in its military campaign against the OLA. Taye, an ethnic Oromo, is a senior member of the ruling party, but has grown increasingly critical of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed…On Monday, Taye posted his dismissal letter from Abiy on Facebook and described the prime minister as a “barbarian” who “plays with human blood.” AP

Soldiers Accused of Widespread Looting from Homes Near Sudanese Capital
Residents of Omdurman have described widespread looting by soldiers from the Sudanese armed forces in the only part of the city they still control. People living in Ombada district in the west of Omdurman, which lies across the Nile from the capital, Khartoum, said soldiers had taken everything from cars to spoons, and had shot at those who tried to stop them…The homes of people from the Rizeigat community, which makes up the core of the RSF, have been badly affected. Soldiers have been seen on a daily basis leaving the houses of Rizeigat people who fled to other parts of Sudan earlier in the war, pushing carts full of items including beds, tables and televisions…The RSF has also been accused of looting in areas under its control, including banks in central Khartoum, as well as people’s homes and cars. There have been reports of looted items being sold in Chad and Niger. One explanation for the looting is that regular army salaries are low. Soldiers can expect to earn about 10 times less than their counterparts in the RSF, which controls vast lands in the western Darfur region rich in gold and other minerals. The Guardian

In a First, Nations at Climate Summit Agree to Move Away from Fossil Fuels
For the first time since nations began meeting three decades ago to confront climate change, diplomats from nearly 200 countries approved a global pact that explicitly calls for “transitioning away from fossil fuels” like oil, gas and coal that are dangerously heating the planet…European leaders and many of the nations most vulnerable to climate-fueled disasters were urging language that called for a complete “phaseout” of fossil fuels. But that proposal faced intense pushback from major oil exporters like Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as fast-growing countries like India and Nigeria…Many African countries sharply criticized the idea that all countries should reduce their fossil fuel use at the same pace. Without outside financial help, they argued, African nations would need to exploit their own oil and gas reserves in order to grow rich enough to fund the clean energy transition. “Asking Nigeria, or indeed, asking Africa, to phase out fossil fuels is like asking us to stop breathing without life support,” said Ishaq Salako, Nigeria’s environmental minister. The New York Times

Kenya to Scrap Visas for All Visitors, President Says
Visitors to Kenya from across the world will no longer require a visa from January, President William Ruto said on Tuesday. Ruto said his government had developed a digital platform to ensure all visitors would receive an electronic travel authorisation in advance, instead of needing to apply for a visa…Ruto has long advocated for visa-free travel within the African continent. At a conference in the Republic of Congo in October he said people from African countries would not require a visa to visit Kenya by the end of 2023. The tourism industry plays a vital role in Kenya’s economy, offering beach holidays along its Indian Ocean coastline and wildlife safaris inland. “Kenya has a simple message to humanity: Welcome Home!” he said. Reuters

Ivory Coast Upgrades Sports Infrastructure Ahead of Africa Cup of Nations
Ivory Coast has built roads and constructed four new sports stadiums in preparation for hosting the Africa Cup of Nations, the soccer tournament which will kick off in January. The West African country is eager to develop football locally and demonstrate its ability to host an international sporting event. “Ivory Coast will become a hub in the sub-region. All countries in the sub-region which do not have approved stadiums will be welcome,” said Idriss Diallo, president of the Ivorian Football Federation. He estimated the country had invested more than $1 billion in roads, stadiums, hospitals and other infrastructure relating to the competition, which will take place in multiple cities from Jan. 13 to Feb 11. Reuters