Africa Media Review for December 5, 2022

West African Leaders Agree To Create Regional Peacekeeping Force
West African leaders agreed on Sunday to create a regional force to intervene against jihadism and in the event of coups, a senior official said. Leaders of the Economic Community of West African States had decided to act to “take care of our own security in the region”, Omar Alieu Touray, president of the ECOWAS commission, told journalists at a summit in Nigeria. They are “determined to establish a regional force that will intervene in the event of need, whether this is in the area of security, terrorism and restore constitutional order in member countries,” he added. Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso have all been hit by military coups in the last two years. Several countries in the region are also suffering from the spread of jihadism, including Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and southwards to the Gulf of Guinea. AFP

West African Bloc Tells Mali To Free 46 Ivorian Troops
“We ask the Malian authorities to release the Ivorian soldiers by January 1, 2023 at the latest,” Omar Alieu Touray, president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) commission, told journalists at a summit in Nigeria. Gambian diplomat Touray also said the West African bloc reserved the right to act if the soldiers were not released by January 1. If Mali fails to do so, ECOWAS will impose sanctions, a West African diplomat told AFP. Togolese President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been mediating between Mali and Côte d’Ivoire on the issue, will travel to Mali to “demand” the release of the soldiers, the diplomat added. The Ivorian troops were arrested on July 10 on their arrival at the airport in Mali’s capital Bamako. Côte d’Ivoire says the troops were sent to provide backup for the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, MINUSMA, and are being unfairly detained. AFP

Sudan: Political Framework Agreement Will Be Signed on Monday, Confirm FFC
The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) denied reports that the signing of a framework agreement had been suspended to give room for talks with the armed groups that rejected it…“The forces for Freedom and Change confirm that the signing of the Political Framework Agreement will take place on the predetermined date, tomorrow, Monday, December 5, 2022,” read the statement. “News reports about its postponement are inaccurate and baseless,” further stressed the FFC. The coalition added that the postponement was not discussed with the Democratic Bloc, pointing out that the general principles and terms of the political framework agreement are clear regarding the objectives of the revolution and the achievement of democratic transition. Sudan Tribune

Thousands of Islamists Protest UN Mission in Sudan
Thousands of Islamists in Sudan rallied Saturday against efforts by the United Nations to solve the political crisis sparked by last year’s coup, AFP journalists said. The demonstrations, the latest by Islamist factions in recent weeks, came one day after military leaders and a key civilian bloc announced plans to sign an initial deal. Political turmoil has gripped Sudan since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan led an October 2021 military takeover, derailing a fragile transition to civilian rule installed after the 2019 ouster of long-time Islamist autocrat Omar al-Bashir. Near-weekly anti-coup protests, a spiralling economic crisis and a rise in ethnic clashes in Sudan’s remote regions have since fed deepening unrest. AFP

Tunisia’s Union Chief Denounces Legislative Elections
The secretary-general of Tunisia’s powerful UGTT union claimed on Saturday that legislative elections due later this month serve no purpose. Speaking before an audience, Noureddine Taboubi, denounced President Kais Saied’s constitutional reforms that in his view had neutralized political parties. “We are heading for elections without colour or taste, they came as a result of a constitution that was not participatory, and there was no room for consensus or majority approval”, said Taboubi. AfricaNews

Thousands Protest in Morocco Over Price Hikes, ‘Repression’
Thousands of protesters marched in Morocco’s capital Rabat on Sunday decrying the “high cost of living and repression,” amid surging inflation and rising social discontent. “The people want lower prices… The people want to eliminate despotism and corruption,” chanted the crowd, estimated by journalists to be around 3,000 people, the largest such rally in recent months…People converged from across Morocco for the protest, which was also called to highlight the cases of several jailed bloggers and journalists. Hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, poverty levels are back to where they were in 2014, the government’s High Commission for Planning said in a recent report. AFP

Ethiopian Guards Massacred Scores of Tigrayan Prisoners, Witnesses Say
The massacre at the camp near Mirab Abaya, which was covered up and has not been previously reported, was the deadliest killing of imprisoned soldiers since the war started, but not the only one. Guards have killed imprisoned soldiers in at least seven other locations, according to witnesses, who were among more than two dozen people interviewed for this story. None of these incidents have been previously reported either. The dead were all Tigrayans, members of an ethnic group that dominated the Ethiopian government and military for nearly three decades. That changed after Abiy Ahmed was appointed prime minister of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most-populous nation, in 2018. Relations between Abiy and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) quickly nosedived. War broke out in 2020 after Tigrayan soldiers in the Ethiopian army and other Tigrayan forces seized military bases across the Tigray region. Washington Post

Tigray Forces in Ethiopia Say 65% of Fighters Have Left Frontline After Truce Agreement
Tigray rebel forces’ commander-in-chief on Sunday announced that well over 65 percent of his forces have “disengaged” and are withdrawing from the frontlines a month after a ceasefire agreement over Ethiopia’s war-torn northern region, according to agencies. “We have started disengagement and relocation of our forces from battlelines… out of our forces, 65 percent of them have passed through this process, disengaging from battlelines and moved to designated places,” General Tadesse Worede, chief of staff of Tigray’s fighters, was quoted as saying…A joint committee of the Ethiopian government and Tigray forces met earlier last week in the Tigray region to outline disarmament plans for a ceasefire to implement the peace deal signed last month in the two-year conflict. Republic World

‘Hell Is Coming’: The Ugandan Army’s Heavy-Handed Crackdown in Karamoja
Violent waves of cattle raiding and tough disarmament campaigns by the authorities have swept across Karamoja since colonial times. Historically, most raids were tit-for-tat tussles between different ethnic groups. But locals say there has been a growth in commercial cattle raiding, where criminal gangs steal cows for sale. Raids draw in young men who have few other economic opportunities in the region. In large parts of Karamoja, the insecurity has made it dangerous for people to go to their fields, exacerbating a severe hunger crisis worsened by erratic rains. Robbed of their cattle, in a region with few other sources of wealth, they have no assets to sell to get by on…One farmer said soldiers held him down on a bed of smouldering thorns, ripped off his traditional necklace, and strangled him…“When the government comes, it should target the right person to arrest, instead of what is happening now where they just gather everyone,” he said. “They take those people and they torture them for nothing.” New Humanitarian

Burkina Faso Bans French Radio for Airing ‘Terrorist Propaganda’
Burkina Faso on Saturday ordered “the immediate suspension and until further notice” of Radio France Internationale (RFI), accusing it of having relayed an “intimidation message” attributed to a “terrorist leader”, the Burkinabe government spokesman announced…According to RFI’s management, the radio station is heard every week in Burkina Faso “by more than 40% of the population and more than 70% of opinion leaders.An AFP journalist in Ouagadougou noted late this afternoon that the radio station could no longer be heard. AFP

Nigeria: Attacks Won’t Stop 2023 Polls, INEC Affirms As Commission Records Seven Incidents in Four Months
Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has again assured Nigerians that the 2023 general election will be conducted despite attacks on its facilities. The commission had lamented the spate of attacks by hoodlums, putting the number of affected offices at 50, across 21 states. But speaking on Channels Television’s Roadmap 2023, INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of the Committee on Voter Education and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye, said sensitive materials to be deployed for next year’s polls were not in the facilities recently attacked. Guardian Nigeria

Liberian President’s Long Stay Abroad Criticised
Liberian President George Weah’s long absence from the country has raised eyebrows and prompted criticism, leading one opposition figure to ask if the West African nation is running on “autopilot”. Weah went abroad at the end of October for a string of political gatherings in numerous countries — and to watch his footballer son represent the United States at the World Cup in Qatar. Since then, the president — himself a former football star — has not been seen in his homeland where people are battling soaring prices and shortages of basic goods. AFP

South Africa President To Mount Legal Action in Face of Impeachment Threat
Cyril Ramaphosa, the embattled president of South Africa, has rejected calls to step down and said he will seek a judicial review of a report handed over last week by an independent panel appointed by parliament that accused him of “serious misconduct”, aides said. The move may forestall looming impeachment but could plunge South Africa into a prolonged bout of political instability…The prospect of weeks of infighting – at least until the ANC holds a conference to appoint a leader for another five years scheduled for later this month – will inflict further damage on South Africa’s flagging economy. Guardian