Africa Media Review for December 18, 2023

West Africa Court Orders Reinstatement of Ousted Niger Leader Bazoum
A West African court ruled on Friday that the ousted president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, and his family were arbitrarily detained and called for a return to democratic rule through his reinstatement. Bazoum was toppled during a military coup on July 26. He and his family have since been in detention without access to running water or electricity, according to his party and relatives. The coup was widely condemned, led to sanctions from the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), and prompted widespread calls for Bazoum’s release and a return to democratic rule. Bazoum and his family referred their case to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in September, his lawyers said. Judge Gberi-Be Ouattara ordered the junta to re-establish constitutional order by reinstating Bazoum, and called for his immediate and unconditional release…The ECOWAS Court of Justice is the regional body’s main jurisdiction and its decisions cannot be appealed. It has given the junta one month to communicate on how it will execute the order, the lawyers said. Reuters

A Sudanese City Took in Many Fleeing War. Now, Fighting Has Spread There.
The Sudanese Army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have been clashing on the edges of Wad Madani, a city about 100 miles southeast of the capital, Khartoum, that tens of thousands of people fled to after the war began in April…On Friday, heavy gunfire could be heard in several parts of Wad Madani’s suburbs, with fighting occurring in fits and starts throughout the afternoon, according to witnesses and aid workers. At least two people were killed in the violence, and several others were injured, according to local civilian groups known as the resistance committees…The United Nations said that all humanitarian field missions in the state were suspended until further notice…Since April 15, nearly 500,000 people have fled to Wad Madani and the wider Gezira State, many of them arriving from Khartoum and the adjoining cities of Bahri and Omdurman. As the influx overwhelmed local services and pushed up the prices of food, fuel and housing, dozens of local and international aid agencies also moved their staff and quickly began operations there…Humanitarian agencies are scrambling to get food and water to thousands of people fleeing the violence and arriving in neighboring Sennar State. With funding shortages and possible cutoffs in supplies, aid workers say it will be hard to stretch their meager resources to support so many people who are now being doubly displaced. The New York Times

Chad Declares Four Sudanese Diplomats Persona Non Grata- Government Statement
The Chad government on Sunday said it had declared four Sudanese diplomats persona non grata and ordered them to leave within 72 hours following what it called “grave statements” by Sudanese officials accusing it of interfering in the conflict in Sudan. The diplomats are the first counsellor of the embassy, the defence attache and two consuls. The decision came after “grave statements that lack any basis,” made by top Sudanese officer, General Yassir al-Atta, and repeated by Sudan’s foreign minister on local television, the statement, signed by Chad’s government spokesman, said. “The recurrence of such statements by Sudanese authorities with regards to Chad and its government is simply not acceptable, hostile, and masks a hidden agenda,” the statement said. Reuters

Sudan Orders Three Chad Diplomats to Leave in ‘Reciprocal’ Action -Report
Sudan has ordered three diplomats from Chad to leave the country within 72 hours, saying the individuals were “persona non grata”, the Sudanese state news agency reported on Sunday. The move by Sudan follows Chad declaring four Sudanese diplomats at the Sudanese embassy in N’Djamena as unwelcome a day earlier, the agency added. The term persona non grata is used when a foreign diplomat is asked by a host state to be recalled to their home country. Chad said its decision was due to what it called “grave statements” by Sudanese officials accusing it of interfering in the conflict in Sudan. Reuters

Congo Recalls Envoys to Kenya and Tanzania over Alliance Launch in Nairobi
Democratic Republic of Congo recalled its ambassadors from Kenya and Tanzania for consultations on Saturday after a new Congolese military alliance that includes rebels was launched in the Kenyan capital. Alain Tshibanda, spokesperson for Congo’s foreign ministry, made the announcement on the X platform. The envoy to Tanzania was recalled because Tanzania hosts the headquarters of the East African Community, which Congo also belongs to. Earlier on Saturday, the Kenyan embassy’s head of mission had been summoned to the foreign ministry in Kinshasa. The Kenyan government could not immediately be reached for comment. On Friday, Congolese politicians and groups including the M23 rebels, who have seized territory in eastern Congo, and Corneille Nangaa, a former Congo election commission chief, launched the Congo River Alliance in Nairobi. Speaking at the launch, Nangaa, who was sanctioned by the U.S. for corruption and obstructing the 2018 election, said the alliance would bring together various Congolese armed groups, militias, social and political organisations…The new alliance is an additional concern in a region where insecurity has persisted for decades, fuelled by ethnic rivalries and a tussle over land and resources with regional implications. Bintou Keita, head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO), said in a post on X that she was “extremely concerned by the creation of a new political-military platform.” Reuters

Former Journalist Joelle Bile Pulls Out of DRC Presidential Race
Former journalist Joelle Bile has withdrawn from the presidential race in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in support of incumbent Felix Tshisekedi. In a statement on Friday, Bile, 51, said she was doing it for the good of the country…Her withdrawal leaves only one woman in the presidential race, Marie-José Ifoku, the former governor of Tshuapa Province. On Thursday, another candidate, Patrice Majondo Mwamba withdrew in favour of Tshisekedi. Withdrawals started a few weeks into the campaign season when five opposition parties met in Pretoria to come up with a grand coalition. However, the talks fell apart when Moise Katumbi and 2018 runner-up Martin Fayulu emerged as likely leaders. Three candidates, Seth Kikuni, Franck Diongo Shamba, and Augustin Matata Ponyo, withdrew from the race to endorse Katumbi. Katumbi and Fayulu are now rivals in the race. News 24

More than 60 People Presumed Dead after Boat Sinks off Libya, Says UN
Dozens of people are missing and presumed dead after their boat sank off Libya’s coast, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said, in the latest migration tragedy off north Africa. The 61 people are believed to have died because of high waves, which swamped their vessel after it left from Zuwara, on Libya’s north-west coast, the IOM’s Libya office said in a statement on Saturday. It said there were about 86 people onboard, citing survivors. The IOM said the vessel had departed from the shores of Zuwara during the night between December 13 and 14. Libya and Tunisia are principal departure points for people risking dangerous sea voyages in hopes of reaching Europe, via Italy. In the latest incident, most of the victims – who included women and children – were from Nigeria, the Gambia and other African countries, the IOM office said, adding that 25 people had been rescued and transferred to a Libyan detention centre…Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesperson, wrote on X that more than 2,250 people had died so far this year on the central Mediterranean migration route, a “dramatic figure which demonstrates that unfortunately not enough is being done to save lives at sea”…More than 153,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Italy this year from Tunisia and Libya, according to the UN refugee agency. The Guardian

AU Mission in Somalia Resumes Drawdown After 3-Month Pause
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia on Sunday resumed handing over security responsibilities to Somali government forces after a three-month pause, officials said. The mission known as ATMIS handed over security control of the State House – also known as Villa Somalia — where Somali President Mohammed Hassan Sheikh Mohamud resides and works. Additionally, troops turned over responsibilities of the parliament building, which is not far from the presidential palace. Along with Somali forces, AU forces have been securing strategic sites in the capital, including the palace, the parliament building, airport and seaport, since 2007. Somali forces now take sole responsibility for the main seats of the executive and legislative branches of government. In an interview with VOA Somali, the AU envoy to Somalia and the head of ATMIS, Mohamed El-Amine Souef, confirmed the resumption of the drawdown…He said the mission will withdraw 3,000 soldiers by the 31st. The mission will hand over responsibilities for 10 bases in this phase of the drawdown. VOA

Kenya, Angola Projects Headline US Africa Infrastructure Craze
The US is listing projects in Kenya and Angola to set an example of what Washington plans to do to increase infrastructure building in Africa, in a series of proposals meant to implement the US-Africa Summit decisions last year. This week, US officials explained how the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) urban mobility project in Kenya, and the refurbishment of the Lobito Port Corridor in Angola signal Washington’s plan to reconnect more African countries and boost trade, and political stability…The US has been playing a chasing game on China whose infrastructure investments in Africa have topped $155 billion in the past 20 years. After the Summit last year, Washington says in a Fact Sheet released Wednesday that the US Trade and Development Agency “funded fifteen project preparation grants designed to help leverage more than $3.4 billion in infrastructure finance for projects across the continent.” The East African

South African Kidnapped in 2017 Released in Mali
A South African paramedic who had been held by jihadists in Mali for over six years has been released, security and humanitarian sources told AFP on Sunday. Gerco van Deventer, 48, was kidnapped in Libya on November 3, 2017, on his way to a power plant construction site around 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of the capital Tripoli. Three other Turkish engineers seized at the same time were freed seven months later, but van Deventer remained in captivity and was moved to Mali. “We learned that the South African hostage was released the day before yesterday,” a Malian security source told AFP. A foreign humanitarian source said that van Deventer was released on the border between Mali and Algeria, adding that she had briefly met the freed hostage at the border…Van Deventer, an emergency paramedic, had been working for a security company, according to his family, who had launched a fresh appeal in March for his release…There was a flurry of negotiations for his release during the first few years after his kidnapping, but the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on those efforts until earlier this year, [his wife] had said. AFP

South Africa: With Love from Zuma — Former President Ditches ANC in Upcoming Elections, Vows ‘Total Liberation’
Infighting in the ANC has once again played out in the broader political arena. Former president Jacob Zuma (81) has declared his refusal to vote or campaign for the ANC in the 2024 elections. Instead, he will make his X with a new party, uMkhonto Wesizwe, which has not yet announced its leadership structure…In a packed room at the YMCA in Orlando, Soweto, Zuma declared at a media briefing, to which members of the public were invited, that he could not in good conscience campaign or vote for the party he has been a part of for 62 years. Instead, the embattled former president has opted to shuffle across the political aisle and throw his weight behind the newly registered party uMkhonto Wesizwe, named after the ANC’s military wing during apartheid. Before Zuma’s announcement, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula had already said the ruling party intended challenging the new party, saying the name belonged to the ANC. Zuma is facing multiple counts of corruption relating to bribes he is alleged to have taken from French arms manufacturing company Thales for the 1999 Arms Deal worth more than $1-billion. He has, however, been involved in protracted court interventions – including a bid to secure the removal of the prosecutor in the case – which has delayed proceedings. His latest bid was denied in the Supreme Court of Appeal last week. Daily Maverick

Madagascar’s President Sworn In for Third Term after Disputed Poll
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina was sworn in on Saturday for a third term after being declared winner of last month’s presidential election, and vowed to pursue industrialisation and unity in the Indian Ocean island country. Rajoelina, 49, first came to power in a 2009 coup. He stepped down in 2014 but became president again after winning the 2018 election…[Siteny] Randrianasoloniaiko and other contenders have rejected the results of the poll, which they say was marred by irregularities including intimidation of polling officials and use of public resources by the ruling party. The election was preceded by weeks of protests, with the opposition saying Rajoelina should not have run because he acquired French nationality in 2014 – which they say automatically revokes his Malagasy one – and had created unfair election conditions. They also demanded the polls be postponed and asked Rajoelina to first appoint independent officials to the electoral body. Ten out of 13 candidates subsequently boycotted the poll after the government refused to implement their demands but their names remained on the ballot. The opposition described the voter turnout, at 46.35%, as the lowest in the country’s history. Reuters

Ivory Coast Court Suspends Main Opposition Party’s Elective Congress
A court in Ivory Coast has suspended an elective congress of the country’s main opposition party in which the former chief executive of Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam, is among the contenders for the presidency. The court of first instance in the capital Abidjan on Friday ordered the suspension of the congress, which had been planned for Saturday to elect a new Democratic Party leader before a presidential election in 2025. The ruling followed an urgent request from two senior party members alleging opacity and irregularities in the organisation of the congress, court documents seen by Reuters show. The complaints were not directly aimed at Thiam, but the plaintiffs said that a day before the congress, they did not have the names of the shortlisted candidates for the presidency or the names of party members who will be voting. The court sided with the plaintiffs and ordered the postponement of the congress. The winner of the contest to lead the Democratic Party, known by its French acronym as the PDCI, stand the chance of being the party’s candidate in the presidential election. Since leaving Credit Suisse, Thiam, 61, has returned to politics in Ivory Coast, and submitted his candidacy last month to lead the party that ruled the West African nation from independence to the early 2000s. Reuters