Africa Media Review for February 1, 2024

Sudanese Warring Parties Hold First High-Level Talks in Bahrain
Senior leaders from Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) met three times [last] month in Bahrain, sources with knowledge of the talks said, the first such contact between the two warring sides in nine months of conflict. Unlike previous talks on war in Sudan, the meetings in Manama were attended by influential deputies from both forces and by officials from the Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, key supporters of the army and RSF respectively, according to the four sources, two of whom were present at the talks…Talks held last year in the Saudi city of Jeddah featured lower-level officials and neither side maintained its commitments. Reuters

US Imposes Sanctions on Three Sudanese Companies Tied to the Warring Parties
The United States imposed sanctions Wednesday on three Sudanese firms it accused of being directly connected to the warring forces in Sudan, as the devastating conflict in the northeast African country continues to rage…The sanctions imposed by the U.S. Treasury Department block all property and entities in the U.S. belonging to Alkhaleej Bank Co Ltd; Zadna International Co for Development Ltd; and Al-Fakher Advanced Works Co. Ltd…In a news release, the department said both Alkhaleej and Al-Fakher had direct ties to the RSF, with Al-Fakher being a key component of the paramilitary’s lucrative gold export business. Zadna is run by the army and helps provide revenue for a military-run weapons company that already has been sanctioned by the U.S., the Treasury Department said. AP

Nigeria Civil Society Coalition Demands Accountability Over Insecurity
A coalition of more than 40 civil society groups has petitioned Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, calling on him to address chronic insecurity that has only gotten worse since he assumed office last May. The petition follows a series of kidnappings in the capital, Abuja, and southwestern Ekiti state. According to a report this week by the civil society coalition, at least 2,400 people have been killed and close to 1,900 others kidnapped since May last year when Tinubu assumed office. The coalition said it was deeply concerned about the deteriorating security across Nigeria and called on authorities to take “actionable steps” to fix the problem…The report comes amid a wave of violent attacks in the country, including Abuja. VOA

Central Africa Communication Ministers Discuss Ways to Stop Hate Speech
Communication ministers from the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, are meeting in Bangui, Central African Republic, this week to map out ways to stop the spread of hate speech. Officials from central African states say some influential politicians, business moguls and community leaders are using radio, television and social media to propagate information that has fueled regional crises, resulting in the displacement of millions of people…The ministers said they will enact legislation to punish people who use TV, radio and print media to propagate hate speech, but gave no further details. They also have agreed to control harmful content they say runs rampant on social media. VOA

DRC’s Tshisekedi Pleads with the AU and UN to Sanction Rwandan and M23 Rebel Leaders
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) President, Felix Tshisekedi, has appealed to the United Nations and the African Union to sanction Rwandan leaders and the rebel group M23 that is fighting against government forces in the eastern part of the country. He declared that he would not “accept any compromise whatsoever that has objectives other than safeguarding the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and stability of the DRC”. Tshisekedi was addressing ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions and consular posts accredited to the DRC on Tuesday…He said that without the targeted sanctions, Rwanda and its allies will persist in their defiance of international stability without fear of repercussions. News24

Senegal to Probe Constitutional Council’s Handling of Presidential Polls
Lawmakers in Senegal have opened an inquiry into why presidential candidate Karim Wade, son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, was excluded from running in this month’s elections. The probe will also look at accusations of corruption against certain Constitutional Council judges…A prominent opponent, Wade served as a minister when his father was president. He was ruled inadmissible by the Constitutional Council because of his dual French and Senegalese nationality. Wade said he renounced the French citizenship in October 2023…Wade’s supporters are hoping for a postponement of the vote to allow their candidate to return to the race…The first round of the presidential election is set for 25 February, with an unprecedented 20 candidates in the running. RFI

Senegal Readies for February Presidential Polls
Under the watchful eye of the international community, Senegal — often held up as a bastion of stability in coup-hit West Africa — is preparing for a potentially fraught presidential election. No clear frontrunner has yet emerged in the February 25 vote, with an unprecedented 20 candidates in the running including an imprisoned anti-establishment contender. Fears of pre-election violence have not materialised, despite a turbulent candidate validation process and the elimination from the race of prominent opposition figures Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade. But tensions persist just days before campaigning officially begins on February 4…In July 2023, Sall said he would not seek a third term — making this the first Senegalese election without an incumbent standing. Analysts agree that neither Ba, a continuity candidate, nor any other of the hopefuls are guaranteed a place in the second round. AFP

Ghana’s Opposition Leader Expresses Anti-LGBTQ Stance Ahead of Dec. Elections
Ghana’s former president and leading opposition presidential candidate John Dramani Mahama on Wednesday expressed his opposition to LGBTQ+ rights but did not say if he would support a bill aimed at criminalizing same-sex relations. The main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress, voted last year to retain Mahama as its leader for the 2024 presidential election. During a meeting with members of the clergy in eastern Ghana, the former president said gay marriage and being transgender were against his Christian beliefs…Mahama, however, did not say whether he would sign the bill that would criminalize same-sex relations, being transgender and advocating LGBTQ rights, should he win December elections. Reuters

Ethiopia: PM Abiy’s FAO Award Sparks Mixed Reactions, Draws Criticism to the UN Agency
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has awarded Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed the prestigious Agricola Medal…The Agricola Medal according to FAO, honors “distinguished personalities for their commitment and support to the promotion of sustainable food production, world food security, and international cooperation”…However, the award also produced strong criticisms against the FAO for accolading the leader of a country that is currently witnessing one of the worst droughts and hundreds of its citizens dying of hunger. Currently, 6.6 million people in Ethiopia are reported by the government to be in need of urgent food aid due to the effects of ongoing drought. Addis Standard

Latest Mediterranean Deaths Highlight Need for Safe Migration Routes
Nearly 100 people have died or disappeared crossing the central and eastern Mediterranean so far this year – more than twice the number for the same period in 2023, the deadliest year for migrants at sea in Europe since 2016 – the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday…Three vessels coming from Libya, Lebanon and Tunisia within the last six weeks carrying 158 people are unaccounted for, though IOM has recorded 73 people from these “invisible” shipwrecks as missing and presumed dead…The annual number of migrant deaths and disappearances in all the Mediterranean jumped from 2,048 in 2021 to 2,411 in 2022 and to 3,041 by the end of last year, according to IOM’s Missing Migrants Project database. UN News

AU Troops Hand Over More Military Bases to Somali Army
The Somali National Army (SNA) has taken more Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) troops, in the latest changes geared towards handing over security responsibilities to homegrown soldiers. So far, nine bases have been handed over to the local soldiers as ATMIS complies with the Somali Transition Plan (STP) which gives guidelines on the withdrawal. It is anticipated that by December 2024, all foreign troops would have left Somalia…Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, and Burundi contribute troops to the mission and have been helping local troops face Al-Shabaab…Somalia has intensified the crackdown against Al-Shabaab, with the second phase expected to commence soon within Jubaland and Southwest states. There are close to 15,000 ATMIS troops in the country who are working closely with local troops in the crackdown against the militants. Garowe Online

Kenya: ‘We Said, There Must Be Ladies’: The Pioneering Maasai Women Ending All-Male Leadership of the Land
Two-thirds of Africa’s protected land lies outside national parks, and conservancies are one of the main models designed to protect those vital habitats. A conservancy is formed on land that is collectively owned and managed by Indigenous communities — such as the Maasai — and set aside for protection, so it will not be carved up into small farms or developments. The community earns income by partnering with wildlife tourism companies, which pay rent. Maasai societies are highly patriarchal, and governance of the conservancies has typically fallen to men. Now, however, a new generation of women are taking up leadership roles and guiding jobs…Each year, the conservancy pays 3,400 Kenyan shillings (£16) an acre, cash that the women use to feed and educate their children. The Guardian