Africa Media Review for December 27, 2022

Putin Wants Fealty, and He’s Found It in Africa
In early March, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its third week, a Russian diplomat nearly 3,000 miles away in the Central African Republic paid an unusual visit to the head of this country’s top court. His message was blunt: The country’s pro-Kremlin president must remain in office, indefinitely. To do this, the diplomat, Yevgeny Migunov, the second secretary at the Russian Embassy, argued that the court should abolish the constitutional restriction limiting a president to two terms. He insisted that President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, who is in his second term and surrounds himself with Russian mercenaries, should stay on, for the good of the country. “I was absolutely astonished,” recalled Danièle Darlan, 70, then the court’s president, describing for the first time the meeting on March 7. “I warned them that our instability stemmed from presidents wanting to make their rule eternal.” The Russian was unmoved. Seven months later, in October, Ms. Darlan was ousted by presidential decree in order to open the way for a referendum to rewrite the Constitution, only adopted in 2016, and abolish term limits. New York Times

Ethiopia Sends Delegation to Rebel-Held Tigray for Talks on Implementing Peace Deal
Addis Ababa and Tigray’s rebel forces have agreed to create a joint monitoring body to ensure the November peace deal to end the brutal war is respected by all sides. Among the terms of the agreement was a provision to establish a monitoring and compliance mechanism so that both sides could be confident the truce was being honoured, and any violations addressed. Tens of thousands have died in two years of bloodshed in Tigray. “The delegation is the first of its stature as a high-level federal government body heading to Mekele in two years,” a statement said, adding that it was led by House of Representatives speaker Tagesse Chafo. The aim is to supervise the application of the peace deal signed on November 2. The agreement provides for the disarmament of rebel forces, the re-establishment of federal authority in Tigray and the reopening of access to the region. AFP

Abduction, Torture, Rape: Conflict in Congo Worsens, Says UN
The accounts are haunting. Abductions, torture, rapes. Scores of civilians including women and children have been killed by the M23 rebels in eastern Congo, according to a U.N. report. In addition, the M23 rebels have forced children to be soldiers, according to the report by a panel of U.N. experts. The 21-page report based on interviews with more than 230 sources and visits to Rutshuru area of Congo’s North Kivu province where the M23 have seized territory, is expected to be published this week. Conflict has been simmering in eastern Congo for decades where more than 120 armed groups are fighting in the region, most for land and control of mines with valuable minerals, while some groups are trying to protect their communities. The already volatile situation significantly deteriorated this year when the M23 resurfaced after being largely dormant for nearly a decade. … The violence by the rebels is part of an overall worsening of the crisis in eastern Congo, with fighting by armed groups intensifying and expanding in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces, said the report. AP

Fuel Tanker Wedged Beneath Overpass Explodes Near Hospital in South Africa
A gas tanker that got stuck beneath a low overpass outside of Johannesburg exploded in a massive plume of fire early Saturday morning, killing at least 10 people, injuring at least 60, and leaving a horrific scene of twisted vehicles and bystanders with missing limbs, according to the authorities and eyewitnesses. The large early morning blast could be felt nearly half a mile away, officials said. It shattered windows and cracked the ceiling of the adjacent Tambo Memorial Hospital, where two dozen patients and 13 staff members suffered injuries ranging from severe burns to lacerations after being struck by flying debris, the authorities said. “It resembles a war zone,” Panyaza Lesufi, the premier of Gauteng Province, where the accident occurred, said after touring the site. New York Times

Ten Civilians Killed in Burkina Faso after Bus Hits Landmine
Ten people have been killed and several injured when their bus hit a roadside bomb in eastern Burkina Faso, the country’s government said on Monday. The bus was travelling from the market town of Fada N’Gourma, about 220km (136 miles) from the capital Ouagadougou, to the border town of Kantchari near neighbouring Niger. …. The injured were taken to the hospital in Fada N’Gourma, the main town in the east, and the rest of the passengers on the bus disappeared, Yameogo said. The government is restoring security to the area and trying to locate the missing passengers. Al Jazeera

UN Chief Says Burkina Faso Has No Grounds to Expel Envoy
The United Nations has said Burkina Faso had no grounds for ordering senior UN official Barbara Manzi to leave the country and that the doctrine of “persona non grata” could not be applied to her. Burkina Faso’s military government on Friday put out a statement instructing Manzi, an Italian national who was appointed UN resident coordinator last year, to leave the country with immediate effect. Foreign minister Olivia Rouamba later accused Manzi of painting a negative picture of the security situation in Burkina Faso, which has been grappling with a security crisis and escalating violence since 2015. … The UN provides some essential services in Burkina Faso, including supplying food to thousands of malnourished children as insecurity has crippled local economies, caused mass hunger and restricted access for aid organisations. The country, one of the world’s poorest, is battling armed groups linked to al-Qaeda and ISIL (ISIS) who have killed thousands of civilians. Reuters

Togo Presidency to Oversee Armed Forces
Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbé will oversee the armed forces as part of a reshuffle amid growing security concerns in the northern regions, according to a decree which has been announced. Under a presidential decree, read by a spokesperson on national television on Friday, the ministry of the armed forces will become part of the presidency. … The minister of the armed forces, Marguerite Gnakadè, has stepped down. The Chief of Staff of the Togolese Armed Forces, Brigadier General Dadja Maganawé, has been replaced by Air Brigadier General Tassounti Djato. Al Jazeera

Sudan’s Signatories to Launch Second Stage toward Civil-Rule Process Next Week
Sudanese political forces signatories of the framework declaration will launch next week the second phase of a process aiming to establish a transitional civilian government. On December 5, the political forces and the military signed a framework agreement to end the military coup where they agreed that sticky issues–justice, security reforms, review of the Juba peace agreement, eastern Sudan issue and dismantlement of the former regime–should be thoroughly discussed with the participation of the stakeholders. A Spokesman of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) Shihab al-Tayeb, told Sudan Tribune that the coalition drafted general ideas on three of the five issues, which they will discuss from the 3rd of January 2023. “We have finished conceptualizing the issues of dismantling the structure of the former regime, the East crisis, and transitional justice,” said al-Tayeb. He pointed out that a transitional justice conference will be held next week in conjunction with a workshop to dismantle the Islamist regime, on January 3. Sudan Tribune

Press Freedom Group Calls for Release of Algerian Journalist
Reporters Without Borders has called on Algerian authorities to release journalist Ihsane El Kadi, director of the news outlets Radio M and Maghreb Emergent. Radio M said El Kadi was taken into custody after six agents from Algeria’s Directorate General of Internal Security searched the offices of Radio M and Maghreb Emergent and seized computers and documents. Radio M, an internet station, and Maghreb Emergent, its sister website, were seen as Algeria’s last outlets for independent news. The news outlets said the arrest and search were part of a long-running intimidation and harassment campaign by authorities. VOA

Ukraine to Boost Diplomacy in Africa, Other Regions
In his nightly video address, Zelenskiy said diplomats would focus on countries where Ukraine has lesser influence, particularly in the Global South. “There is colossal economic potential and considerable diplomatic avenues,” he said. … Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian agricultural exports through the Black Sea sparked global grain and fertiliser shortages this year, endangering millions before a U.N.-brokered deal partially eased it in July. “We are overhauling relations with dozens of African countries,” Zelenskiy told the diplomats. “Next year we need to strengthen this.” Zelenskiy said Ukraine also wants to set up trade representative offices in several hubs on the continent. Reuters

Africa Eyes More Broadband Networks in 2023
African countries are looking to roll out more broadband networks in 2023 as mobile and internet service providers expand their investment in undersea and land-based cables and internet services originating in space become a financially viable option for some consumers. Broadband is a technology widely defined as one that gives users access to faster internet with a minimum of 25 Mbps in download and 3 Mbps in upload speeds. The recent landing of a 45,000-kilometer subsea cable in South Africa by mobile network provider, MTN South Africa and its subsidiary, MTN GlobalConnect in the Western Cape Province, is just the latest major investment in internet infrastructure on the continent. It follows a recent announcement by the pan-African network operator, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, that it is expanding its network – already the largest in Africa – into Nigeria, a potentially massive market for the operator. The 2Africa subsea cable project, -one of the longest in Africa – is expected to go live in 2023. It will link African countries to Europe and the Middle East. Bird Story Agency

‘Seas Are Becoming Landfills’: The Senegalese Surfer Saving a Beach – and a Way of Life – from Plastic
It took a wave of plastic-strewn water crashing over Babacar Thiaw as he paddled out to sea for him to decide to act. By the time his surfboard had carried him back to Virage beach on the north shore of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, Thiaw had a plan that would make use of the surfing community he had built there. Within a year he had turned Copacabana Surf Village, which he founded with his father two decades ago, into a hub for young Senegalese eco-surfers, organising beach cleans, environmental courses for children and Senegal’s first zero-waste restaurant. The cafe has signs up explaining to customers why they don’t use plastic bottles, straws, coffee pods or sugar sachets. In a country that produces an estimated 350,000 tonnes of plastic waste, most of which is not properly collected, Thiaw has found the work challenging, but is convinced it is crucial for a city where people are closely tied to the sea. The Guardian