Africa Media Review for December 22, 2022

US Congressman Calls for Sanctions on Ethiopian Airlines over Alleged Role in Tigray Conflict
The US has been urged to withhold a loan to Ethiopian Airlines until the government in Addis Ababa meets some standards set out by the cessation of hostilities agreement reached in Pretoria in November. US Congressman Brad Sherman – in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and copied to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo as well as Reta Jo Lewis, the president and chairperson of the Export-Import Bank of the US – demanded Tigray should see unrestricted humanitarian assistance, banking, internet, and medicine before the US$100 million (about R1.75 billion) loan was disbursed…The airline finds itself on the sanctions radar because of its alleged role in the conflict, providing logistical support to the Ethiopian army. News24

Gambia Coup Attempt Foiled – Government
The Gambia’s government says it has thwarted an attempt to stage a coup. Four soldiers had been arrested and three alleged accomplices were on the run, a statement said. It is unclear who exactly was behind Tuesday’s attempt to overthrow President Adama Barrow, who won a second term in elections last year. The Gambia is a largely stable country in West Africa which is popular with holidaymakers because of its beaches and wildlife. The capital, Banjul, is peaceful, with life going on as normal. No gun shots have been heard, and there is no sign that loyalist forces have been deployed to secure strategic sites. BBC

DR Congo’s Election Campaign Signals Trouble Ahead
Analysts fear that a lack of democratic culture among candidates running in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 2023 presidential election could further deteriorate the security situation in a country beset by crises…DRC’s electoral commission (CENI) only recently published a tight schedule for the realization of general elections. Voter registration is supposed to start three days from now. “It’s rushed,” a commission member admitted to DW. Donatien Nshole, secretary general of the influential Catholic National Episcopal Conference of the Congo, agreed. CENCO is acting as an election observer. Nshole said the important thing now is to avoid disagreements. “Otherwise, a small slipup, or a wrong choice of words, could quickly turn into a major crisis.”…Congolese cleric and analyst Alain-Joseph Lomandja said these debates were upsetting. While democratization has been progressing since 1990, “more than thirty years later, I don’t feel we have true democratic politicians,” he told DW. DW 

Rwanda Responds to French Accusation of Supporting M23
Tensions between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have escalated with counter-accusations of supporting armed rebel groups. On Wednesday, Rwanda issued a statement dismissing, again, allegations that it is supporting UN-sanctioned M23 rebels in the eastern DRC. “Accusing Rwanda of support to the Congolese armed group M23 is wrong and distracts from the real cause of continued conflict in eastern DRC, and its impact on the security of neighbouring states, including Rwanda,” the statement read. It added that blaming Rwanda undermines ongoing efforts by regional leaders to find lasting peace, particularly through the Nairobi and Luanda initiatives, to which Rwanda is fully committed. East African

Somali Government Orders Media to Send News for Approval
Several media houses in Mogadishu told VOA this week that the President’s Communications Office had ordered them to submit news content to authorities before it airs. Among those affected was Risaala Media Corporation in the capital, Mogadishu. Its managing director, Mohamed Abdiwahab, said, “The objective was censorship, because directing [the media] to send the items is just singling out the items that they don’t like. Therefore, its implementation is risky to Somali media and cannot be implemented.” Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf Adala told VOA via a messaging app that he was not aware of such a directive. But Abdiwahab said an official called his company with the directive last Saturday. He said he thought the order infringed on the country’s constitution and media law, both of which provide guarantees for media freedom. Voice of America

Al Shabaab Militants Kill Two Policemen, One Civilian in Eastern Kenya
Al Shabaab fighters have attacked a police vehicle in eastern Kenya, killing two officers and one civilian, police and the armed group said. The truck was travelling from Hayley Lapsset camp to Garissa town, around 120 km (75 miles) from the Somali border, when it hit an explosive device, police said in a statement on Wednesday. The militants then fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the vehicle and engaged in a heavy firefight which took the lives of the victims, police said. Reuters

Banking Services Return to Ethiopia’s Tigray as Conflict Ends
Ethiopia’s largest bank has reopened branches in some towns in Tigray, allowing residents to access funds they have been blocked from using for over a year due to the conflict between the federal government and Tigrayan rebels…The announcement comes after the federal government and Tigrayan rebels signed a peace deal on 2 November that would reopen access to Tigray, which has been severely limited during the two-year conflict. “Our bank was forced to suspend its banking services because of the instability in the northern part of the country,” the bank said in a statement. “Conditions permitting we will continue with our efforts to expand our services and step by step restart services in all branches. RFI

Ethics Row Rages After South Sudan Leader Wets Himself on Live TV
Footage of the South Sudanese president Salva Kiir apparently urinating on himself at an official event has sparked an online debate across Africa about his ability to lead the country, and the ethics of sharing the incident on social media…Many said the incident showed Kiir was not well enough to rule a nation facing intense challenges – acute levels of hunger, conflict and climate shocks. Others have criticised the sharing of the footage on social media, complaining that doing so was disrespectful to a man of his age…Rumours also spread online that journalists present at the event had been arrested, but these were denied by the Union of Journalists of South Sudan (UJOSS). “[UJOSS] would like to make it abundantly clear that, as per our records at the moment, there is no journalist that has been arrested or is missing,” it said in a statement. A claim that the cameraman had died by suicide, circulated by supporters and opponents of Kiir, appeared to be fake. Guardian

Future of Sudan’s Burhan as Army Chief in Question Following Accord
Earlier this month a framework agreement was signed in Sudan between the military junta and major political forces who are under the umbrella of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC). The agreement provides for the formation of a transitional civilian government that would take over from the military and rule for 24 months after which elections would be held. But despite the international praise for the deal including from western nations and regional powers, many at home are wary of contentious items not addressed in the agreement that may be used by the military to slow-walk or even derail implementation….Siddiq Tawer, who was a member of the dissolved Sovereignty Council under in the transitional government, told {Sudan Tribune} that Burhan lured FFC into signing the framework agreement which recognizes him as an equal partner in the political scene rather than someone who carried out a coup against the legitimate civilian authority. Sudan Tribune

Ivory Coast Battles Chocolate Companies to Improve Farmers’ Lives
Cocoa farmers in the region are on the “front lines of the climate crisis”, according to West Africa director of the Rainforest Alliance, Siriki Diakite. And when their harvests suffer, so do their livelihoods. This is further compounded by how little they are paid per kilogramme for their crop, something the Ivorian government has been trying to tackle as it fails to force the world’s multibillion-dollar chocolate industry to pay farmers fairer cocoa prices. Ivory Coast produces around 45 percent of the world’s cocoa beans, but receives only around four percent of the chocolate industry’s estimated annual worth of $100bn. Al Jazeera

Gambia Parliament Recommends Suing of Indian Manufacturer of Cough Syrups
A parliamentary committee in Gambia has recommended that the government take legal action against an Indian drugmaker whose cough syrups were blamed for the deaths of at least 70 children in the West African country. Maiden Pharmaceuticals should be banned and authorities take tough measures against the firm for using contaminated raw material to manufacture cough syrups, Gambia parliament’s health committee said in a report on Tuesday. The report came after weeks of investigation by the committee which said that a scientific investigation into the children’s actual cause of death is still going on. Independent

The Good, Bad, and the Ugly: West Africa’s Big Issues in 2022
This year has been a generally turbulent one for West Africa – with a few bright spots. Just as the region was recovering from the post-COVID-19 economic fallout of 2020, Russia invaded Ukraine in February. That led to a global disruption in the supply of certain commodities including wheat, causing a collapse for many economies worldwide. West Africa, with its fair share of domestic troubles, was also impacted. Here are 10 of the top issues that defined the socio-political landscape across West Africa in 2022. Al Jazeera

Republic of Congo President Hopeful After US-Africa Leaders Summit
Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso says significant developments came out of this year’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. In an interview with VOA this week, Sassou Nguesso said that during this summit, the goals were more defined, including helping the African Union gain a greater voice at the United Nations. “For example, President [Joe] Biden declared that Africa [African Union] is certainly going to be a member of the G-20. I believe this is a clear orientation that we appreciate. Mr. Biden also declared that in the next few years, America is going to get involved with Africa [the African Union] finding its right place at the Security Council of the United Nations as a permanent member,” he said in French. Voice of America



Photo: Adam Jones