Africa Media Review for February 13, 2023

Attempted Bombing in North Ghana Fuels Jihadist Fears
Criminals in northern Ghana tried to blow up a bridge using explosives for the first time in a region where the government fears growing violent spillover from a jihadist war across the border in Burkina Faso, a top official said. Ghana along with Gulf of Guinea neighbours Benin, Ivory Coast and Togo are wary of instability just over their northern frontiers, where jihadist groups have been expanding. Benin, Ivory Coast and Togo have already suffered attacks and incursions across their borders, but Ghana has so far escaped a direct attack linked to Islamist militants in Burkina Faso. AFP

Chadian Rebel Soldiers to Face Trial over President Dead
Chad to begin trial of 150 rebels accused of causing the death of President Idriss Déby. The trial will take place in Kléssoum, in a high security prison, a local news website reported citing judicial sources. The suspects belong to the Front for Concord and Change in Chad (FACT), the rebel movement which launched an offensive to overthrow Chad’s goverment from its rear bases in Libya in 2021. They are being charged with terrorism, enlisting child soldiers, mercenaries, undermining state security, and assassination of a sitting president. Idriss Deby was killed on the frontline in April of 2021 while overseeing the army’s operations to drive back the rebels. Voice of Nigeria

Cameroon President’s 90th Birthday Marked by Cocktail of Woes
“We live in a violent, brutal dictatorship. Over the past 40 years it has gotten more and more violent and brutal,” said Kah Walla, now a civil society activist. “These 40 years are a huge setback for Cameroon.” A government spokesperson did not respond to calls requesting comment…Biya has repeatedly defended his record in the past and says the government has made strides to return peace to the minority English-speaking regions where separatists are trying to form their own state. He touts his Vision 2035 plan as a blueprint to boost development over the next 12 years…In Africa, only President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea has ruled longer. Millions still support Biya, although international observers have raised doubts about the fairness of elections that he routinely wins with ease. He spends long stretches in comfortable European hotels with his wife Chantal, frustrating many at home who believe the country’s crises require closer attention. In 2020, he was not seen in public for weeks, prompting speculation that he had died of COVID-19. Al Jazeera

Cameroon Panics as Unidentified Disease Kills 20 in Neighbouring Equatorial Guinea
Kié-Ntem, a community in Equatorial Guinea, is under strict observation from epidemiologists worldwide. Being 270 kilometres from Cameroon’s Olamze district in the South region, an announcement of an unidentified disease outbreak in the locality has caused worry in Cameroon. The health chief of Olamze, Dr Ngu Fankam Roland, warned citizens in a press release that the disease has already killed at least 20 persons in Kié-Ntem. He described patients with the illness as having fever, nasal haemorrhages, joint pain, and other signs that lead to death within hours. He noted that the disease is transmitted by direct contact and warned people to be cautious…The health authorities in Equatorial Guinea reported the outbreak on Feb. 7. On Friday, Health Minister Mitoha Ondo’o Ayekaba said over 200 people in two villages, who were not showing symptoms, had been quarantined to prevent its spread. He said the people who died had attended a funeral ceremony. “We are trying to quickly as possible rule out the known hemorrhagic fevers we know in the region such as Lassa or Ebola,” Ayekaba told Reuters. HumAngle

Fury Grips Togo After Report Finds COVID Fund Irregularities
Released in late January, the 86-page document made headlines this week and has been widely discussed on social media, with several opposition figures calling for justice to be served. The comptroller and auditor general examined a government fund set up to finance the response after the nation detected its first coronavirus case in March 2020. More than 108.2 billion CFA francs (about $177.4 million) were spent in 2020 alone according to the report, and “certain payments… were made on expenses that were not priority or that didn’t have a direct link with the measures being put in place to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak.” AFP

Main Togo Opposition Party Holds Rally Ahead of Elections
Sunday’s (Feb. 12) meeting which took place in neighbourhood located in the northern suburbs of Lomé was attended by the ANC president who also serves as mayor of one of Lomé’s 13 localities. He focused on the upcoming legislative elections. “This was a remobilisation rally,” Jean-Pierer Fabre said. “You may have noticed that we have called for people to go and register to vote when the census is launched. This is important because we called before not to register and many of our voters are not registered. So they have to go and register.” Indeed, main opposition parties boycotted the previous legislative polls in 2018, citing “irregularities” in their preparation. Consequently some of their supporters did not vote. Togolese president Faure Gnassimbé annouced late last year, that elections would be held this year but no date has been set. This has not deterred the hundreds of ANC supporters dreaming of change. AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria: Obi, Labour Party Fume as Thugs Attack Supporters in Lagos
The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr. Peter Obi, and his party on Saturday fumed over the high level of political intolerance in Lagos State after suspected thugs attacked the party’s supporters and destroyed several vehicles. The Labour Party Presidential Campaign Council also called on the international community to hold the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) and Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu responsible for the attack, just as the Lagos State chapter of the APC has described the allegation as reckless and irresponsible. In what may have been a coordinated attack, the hoodlums were said to have ambushed the LP supporters around Jakande in the Lekki area of Lagos and outside the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) venue of the rally on Lagos Island. Arise News

What’s at Stake in the Nigerian Presidential Elections
Nigeria—Africa’s most populous country, largest economy, and top oil producer—will hold a presidential election on Saturday February 25. Incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari, now finishing his second four-year term, is ineligible to run for re-election. Even if he could run, he probably wouldn’t win. Africa’s largest economy, still recovering from a COVID-19 shock that triggered the country’s second recession in just five years, continues to struggle. Inflation reached 21.5% at the end of 2022. The unemployment rate stands at 33 percent for all adults and 42.5% for young adults…The race remains competitive and highly unpredictable. It’s easy to be cynical when the national economic and security problems detailed above headlines the last several elections. But three-quarters of those registered to vote in this election are between the ages of 18-49. That should worry the septuagenarian frontrunners and their establishment political parties. Yet, Obi and other outsiders will have to prove they can inspire these younger voters to the polls. Turnout at the last election (2019) was just 35%. It should take about five days to count the votes and report the results. Time

Twelve Civilians Killed in Burkina Unrest
At least 12 civilians died and six were injured in an attack by suspected jihadists in northwestern Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali, locals told AFP on Sunday. “Several dozen men on motorbikes attacked the village of Sanakadougou” in Kossi province overnight Thursday and Friday, a resident told AFP, requesting anonymity. Residents said at least 12 people died and six were wounded, but it was feared the toll could be higher…There were also reports of another attack by armed groups on the neighboring town of Yaran on Sunday morning. Deadly ambushes attributed to jihadists have multiplied in recent weeks in Burkina. This week, about 40 people, civilians or soldiers, died in various attacks while the previous week 50 were killed in several jihadist raids. Defense Post with AFP

Suspected Militants Kill 10 Niger Soldiers, Defense Ministry Says
At least 10 soldiers died in an ambush in southwestern Niger — close to the Mali border — by a group of what the defense ministry Saturday called armed terrorists. The toll from Friday’s attack could rise because 16 people are still missing and 13 soldiers were wounded, a ministry statement said. The troops were on patrol in the northern part of the Banibangou department when they “came under a complex ambush by a group of armed terrorists” the ministry said, referring to jihadi groups. The statement also said several attackers were killed during the fighting but did not specify how many. AFP

Somaliland Accuses Somalia of Attacks Despite Truce
The separatist region of Somaliland on Sunday accused Somalia of attacking its soldiers, despite a ceasefire imposed after heavy fighting in a contested border town earlier in the week. Somaliland, which has claimed independence from Somalia since 1991, has never been recognised internationally but is often seen as a beacon of stability in a chaotic region. However, political unease has mounted in recent months. This week, the United Nations said at least 20 people had been killed in the disputed town of Las Anod in clashes between Somaliland’s armed forces and militias loyal to the central government of Somalia. AFP

AU Ethiopia/Tigray Peace Committee Meets for First Time
Just over a month after hostilities ceased in Ethiopia’s Tigray province, an African Union (AU) joint committee overseeing agreement for lasting peace in  the east African country met for the first time. Chaired by Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, the joint committee comprises representatives of parties in the conflict and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The committee took stock of progress implementing the peace agreement and considered operations of the monitoring verification and compliance mechanism (MVCM) deployed to Mekelle, comprising a team of African experts and liaison officers for the parties…The Committee agreed on the urgent need for political dialogue to address outstanding issues and for the AU to improve geographical coverage, capacities and resourcing of the MVCM. DefenceWeb

Algeria Arrests Relatives of Wanted Dissident: Rights Group
Algerian authorities have arrested the mother and sister of wanted activist Amira Bouraoui days after she left for France, a rights group and a radio reported on Sunday. Bouraoui, a French-Algerian doctor by training, had been arrested in Tunisia last week and risked being deported to Algeria, but she was finally able to board a flight to France on Monday evening. The 46-year-old was sentenced in Algeria in May 2021 to two years in jail for “offending Islam” and for insulting the president. Her departure, following French intervention, created a diplomatic incident between Algiers and Paris, with Algeria recalling its ambassador from France for consultations. AFP