Africa Media Review for February 12, 2024

Three Dead in Senegal Protests over Delayed Presidential Election
The death toll amid protests in Senegal over the postponement of the presidential election until December has climbed to three…President Macky Sall has said the delay is necessary because electoral disputes threatened the credibility of the poll, but some opposition lawmakers have denounced the move as an “institutional coup.” As the public outcry mounts, the West African regional bloc ECOWAS and foreign powers have urged Sall to put the country back on a regular electoral footing. The death of one young man amid reported protests in the southern city of Zinguinchor on Saturday evening took the number of those killed since Friday to three, according to Cartogra Free Senegal (CFS), a civil society platform tracking casualties. Reuters

Senegal’s President Defends Delaying Elections in Exclusive Interview as Protests Erupt Nationwide
Senegalese President Macky Sall defended his decision to postpone elections as violent protests erupted across the country on Friday. In his first interview since announcing the delay, Sall brushed off allegations that the decision was unconstitutional and that he’d created a constitutional crisis…The constitution empowers the Constitutional Council to reschedule the vote in certain circumstances including “the death, permanent incapacity or withdrawal” of candidates. But parliament’s attempts to change the legislation violates some clauses of the current constitution, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies…The Constitutional Council is expected to rule within approximately a week as to whether it agrees with the parliament’s conclusion. However, when pressed, Sall wouldn’t say whether he would accept the court’s decision if it rejected the delay. AP

Tuareg Separatists Lift Road Blockades in Northern Mali
Tuareg separatists announced Saturday the lifting of blockades they’d set up in December on main roads throughout northern Mali after the national army took back several towns…The Tuareg-dominated rebel groups lost control of several localities in the north of the country after an army offensive in late 2023 that culminated with the taking of Kidal, a bastion of the separatist movement. Hostilities had resumed last August — after eight years of relative calm — as both sides fought to take possession of military camps abandoned by United Nations troops who left under orders of the Mali government. The military junta that seized power in a 2020 coup largely won those exchanges, but the rebels didn’t surrender and retreated into remote desert and mountainous areas. AFP

At Least Five Dead after Soldier Opens Fire at Military Base in Mogadishu
At least five people, including Somali military officials and a United Arab Emirates (UAE) soldier, were killed on Saturday after a soldier opened fire at a military base in the capital Mogadishu, an army officer and hospital staff told Reuters. The UAE’s defence ministry, however, said three members of its armed forces and one Bahraini officer were killed in a “terrorist act” in Somalia while they were training Somali armed forces…The gunman, a newly trained Somali soldier, was also shot dead at the Gordon military base managed by the UAE, said the army officer, who gave his name only as Ahmed…Al Shabaab, linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack via a statement on its Radio al Andalus. Reuters

Cameroon Blast Kills at Least One Person During Youth Day Event
Cameroon officials say at least one person has died and dozens more, including children, were injured in an explosion Sunday in the country’s restive English-speaking Northwest region. The blast happened during a children’s Youth Day celebration in Nkambe. Cameroon has experienced renewed separatist attacks that have claimed several dozen civilians in recent weeks. The separatist conflict broke out in 2016 when Anglophone Cameroonians protested discrimination by the Francophone majority. The United Nations says more than 6,000 people have been killed and the unrest has deprived 600,000 children of education. VOA

Cameroon Rebels Abduct Government Officials in Fresh Wave of Attacks
Cameroon separatist fighters [last] Wednesday claimed responsibility for the killing of four government workers, including a policeman abducted Tuesday in the country’s restive English-speaking North-West region. Government officials say two of the hostages, including a government official the military freed, are responding to treatment in a hospital. The abduction and killing followed renewed separatist attacks that have claimed several dozen civilians within two weeks…English speaking separatists say they consider divisional officers, who are heads of districts, to be government troops because they undergo military training and as such constitute a legitimate target to fighters. VOA

Sudan War Spills Over into Restive Border, Worsens Abyei Crisis
More than 100,000 people have fled to South Sudan since the fighting began on April 15 and the Juba government has waived visa requirements for those fleeing the war. Twic Dinka from Warrap State is locked in a dispute with Ngok Dinka from Abyei over the location of an administrative boundary, despite the presence of the Abyei Special Administrative Area that is leading the negotiations. The disputed region of Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan has borne the brunt of the conflict in Sudan, with the flow of the displaced heightening the existing tensions in the region between the Ngok Dinka and the Twic communities, and the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya from Sudan. Abyei, which lies between Sudan’s states of South Kordofan and Warrap, and Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal states in South Sudan, has been experiencing tensions for 18 years, having failed to conduct a referendum to determine to which country they belong. The East African

U.N. Peacekeeping Mission Says Staff, Vehicles Attacked in Congolese Capital
The head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Democratic Republic of Congo said its staff and vehicles were attacked in the capital Kinshasa on Saturday as a worsening eastern security crisis fuels a backlash against the mission. Crowds on motorbikes gathered in the riverside Gombe district, where the U.N. mission known as MONUSCO and many embassies are located. They burned tyres and attacked people, a Reuters reporter said…MONUSCO has been deployed in eastern Congo since taking over from a previous U.N. operation in 2010. Its mandate includes supporting the Congolese government’s effort to stabilise the region, but in recent years it has faced sometimes violent protests linked to perceptions it has not done enough to stem the eastern bloodshed. Reuters

Seventeen Tunisians on Migrant Boat towards Italy Missing -Coast Guard Official
At least seventeen Tunisians who were on a migrant boat heading towards the Italian coast are missing, a Tunisian national guard official said on Monday.
The missing people, including a five-year-old child, had set sail on a fishing boat from Bizerte in northern Tunisia last week, the national guard official, Houssem Eddine Jebabli, told Reuters. Coast guard and Navy forces, supported by helicopter, have begun search operations, the official said. Reuters

A Plan to Send Asylum-Seekers to Rwanda Incompatible with Human Rights, a Group of UK Lawmakers Says
The British government’s plan to send some asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda is “fundamentally incompatible” with the U.K.’s human rights obligations, a parliamentary rights watchdog said Monday, as the contentious bill returned for debate in the House of Lords. Parliament’s unelected upper chamber is scrutinizing a bill designed to overcome the U.K. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Rwanda plan is illegal…Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, which has members from both government and opposition parties, said in a report that the bill “openly invites the possibility of the U.K. breaching international law”…In response to the Supreme Court ruling, Britain and Rwanda signed a treaty pledging to strengthen protections for migrants. Sunak’s Conservative government argues the treaty allows it to pass a law declaring Rwanda a safe destination. AP

Cautious on Debt, Ruto Woos Japan with Public-Private Deals for Projects
Kenya has turned to Japan to support its infrastructure ambitions, opening up for Tokyo to tap into public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a way of reducing the load of debt owed to external lenders…After the trip, Kenyan government officials said they had clinched financial deals worth Ksh350 billion ($2.19 billion). Most of these were on green energy, manufacturing, transport, roads and agriculture…Kenya is Japan’s biggest recipient of [official development assistance] ODA in Africa even though Tokyo is also one of the biggest creditors of Nairobi, owed some $1.45 billion. The Japanese have offered loans, grants and other forms of funding for health, irrigation, roads and an economic development zone in Mombasa. The East African

Leader of South African Opposition Party Promises Jobs, Land Ahead of Election
Economic Freedom Fighters party founder Julius Malema addressed a packed 56,000-capacity Moses Mabhida Stadium in the coastal city of Durban as he launched the party’s election manifesto…The EFF is popular among many disenchanted South Africans, especially youth, due to its radical policies that include the expropriation of white-owned land and the nationalization of mines and banks. Malema, a controversial figure who largely divides opinion for his radical proposals to solve the country’s problems, continues to enjoy widening popularity in South Africa and increasingly across Africa. A former ANC youth leader who was expelled from the party, Malema is now among the ruling party’s staunchest critics…The EFF garnered 10% of the national vote in the country’s 2019 elections to become the third largest opposition party. AP

China Keeps Building Stadiums in Africa. But at What Cost?
Stadiums have been a cornerstone of China’s diplomatic reach into Africa since the 1970s, but their number has increased since the early 2000s, part of a larger Chinese strategy to build infrastructure — from highways to railroads, ports to presidential palaces and even the headquarters of the African Union — in exchange for diplomatic clout or access to natural resources…But Chinese construction has sometimes been accompanied by charges of local corruption, and critics have questioned the value of the big-budget projects, noting they deliver dubious long-term economic benefits but very real debts that governments can struggle to repay…Most stadiums are donations from China, or financed through soft loans from Chinese banks. The New York Times

Ivory Coast Relief after Winning Cup of Nations
Ivory Coast’s success at the Africa Cup of Nations was all about taking advantage of second chances, but after coming from behind to beat Nigeria in Sunday’s final, relief was the overwhelming emotion, winning coach Emerse Fae said. The host nation completed a fairytale recovery after coming close to early elimination, fighting their way back from a goal down in three of their four knockout matches before securing the trophy with a 2-1 success in Sunday’s final at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium…The Ivorians are the first hosts to win the Cup of Nations in the last eight editions since Egypt’s home success in 2006. Reuters

Kenya: Marathon World Record Holder Kelvin Kiptum Dies in Car Crash at 24
Kelvin Kiptum, the marathon world record holder from Kenya who was on track to be the first person to run the race in under two hours, died Sunday in a car accident. He was 24. Kiptum was driving his Toyota Premio in western Kenya, not far from his childhood village, when he veered off the road and hit a tree about 11 p.m. Sunday…Kiptum and his coach, Gervais Hakizimana, 37, were both killed in the accident…Kiptum made international headlines in October when he won the Chicago marathon in 2 hours 35 seconds, making him the first man to run an official race in under 2 hours 1 minute, and overtaking fellow Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge’s record. A year before, Kiptum had never raced in a marathon. The Washington Post