Africa Media Review for February 13, 2024

Ecowas President Postpones Senegal Visit as Political Crisis Deepens
Nigeria’s president and head of Ecowas, Bola Tinubu, was due to meet Sall Monday. No new date for the visit has been set at this stage, according to sources talking to RFI. During the meeting, the Nigerian leader was expected to call on Sall to respect the constitution of his country and to avoid plunging Senegal into a sustained crisis. This follows protests over the weekend against the postponement of the presidential elections that were due to take place at the end of this month…An NGO which groups together nearly a thousand civil society organisations in West Africa, the West African Civil Society Forum (Foscao), criticised Ecowas and the African Union after President Sall’s decision to postpone the presidential elections. RFI

UN Security Council Concerned About ‘Escalating Violence’ in Eastern DRC
The U.N. Security Council said Monday that it was concerned by “escalating violence” in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, condemning in a statement the offensive launched this month by M23 rebels near Goma. Clashes have intensified recently between the M23 — among the strongest of dozens of armed groups roaming the country’s troubled east — and the Congolese army. The DRC, the U.N. and Western countries say Rwanda is supporting the rebels in a bid to control vast mineral resources, an allegation Kigali denies…The M23 has seized vast swaths of North Kivu province since emerging from dormancy in late 2021, in an area wracked by violence for decades following regional wars in the 1990s. The most recent flare-up has pushed thousands of civilians to flee the town of Sake, on the route toward Goma, capital of North Kivu province. According to a U.N. document seen by AFP earlier Monday, the Rwandan army is using sophisticated weapons such as surface-to-air missiles to support M23. AFP

South Africa to Deploy 2,900 Troops to Fight Armed Groups in Eastern Congo
South Africa will send 2,900 troops as part of its contribution to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) force deployed to tackle armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the president’s office said in a statement on Monday. The one-year deployment will cover the period between Dec. 15. 2023 and Dec. 15, 2024, and will cost around 2 billion rand ($105.75 million), the statement said. The 16-member state SADC approved the eastern Congo mission in May last year to help Congo…address instability and deteriorating security in its restive eastern region. The SADC force has an offensive mandate to support Congo’s army fight armed groups. It will include troops from Malawi, South Africa and Tanzania. The deployment comes as Congo battles Tutsi-led M23 rebels whose attacks and advances in recent days, is threatening the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma. Reuters

South Africa: ANC Given Five Days to Release Contentious Cadre Deployment Records to DA
South Africa’s apex court has refused to grant the ANC further legal appeals in the ruling party’s bid to keep its cadre deployment records out of opposition hands…The Constitutional Court ruling on Monday now means that the ANC has exhausted its legal avenues…Driving the legal process against the ANC has been DA MP Leon Schreiber, who asked the courts to compel the ANC to make public all records relating to the party’s cadre deployment committee. Previously, Schreiber’s litigation succeeded in effecting the release of 58 pages of committee meeting minutes held between 2018 and 2020. The records showed how the ANC’s cadre deployment committee routinely meets to deliberate on individuals to fill a wide range of positions within the public sector: from government departments to Chapter Nine institutions as well as, most controversially, the judiciary…The documents Schreiber has been after more recently are far more significant. They are the cadre deployment records for the peak State Capture period, between 1 January 2013 and 1 January 2021. Potentially most explosively, this is the period during which President Cyril Ramaphosa — then acting as deputy — chaired the committee. Daily Maverick

Central African Republic Says 10,000 Children Are Still Fighting alongside Armed Groups There
About 10,000 children are still fighting alongside armed groups in Central African Republic more than a decade after civil war broke out, the government said Monday. Marthe Kirima, the minister for family and gender, said in a statement that children are still being recruited as fighters, spies, messengers, cooks and even used as sex slaves. While 15,000 children have escaped from rebel forces, she said, many are traumatized and find it difficult to return to normal life…The U.N. is trying to prevent children from joining armed groups and make it easier for those released to reintegrate into society. It has created training programs for them to become mechanics, masons, carpenters or take up other professions. AP

A Search Is Underway for a Polish Doctor Kidnapped from a Hospital in Chad
A search was underway for a Polish doctor kidnapped in southern Chad, officials and media in Poland reported Monday. The woman was volunteering at the Saint-Michel Hospital, several hundred kilometers (miles) from the capital in the Central African nation, when attackers pretending to be patients abducted her and a Mexican doctor, Polsat News, a private Polish broadcaster, reported. Dr. Carlos Solgado told The Associated Press by phone that he escaped during an altercation between the abductors and Chad’s security forces while the Polish woman was taken away. He said the attack happened Friday morning when four armed men on two motorbikes came into the hospital. Solgado said the kidnappers told them they just wanted money and didn’t intend to kill them. Kidnappings for ransom are frequent in the Tandjile region, where the abduction occurred. AP

Dozens of Civilians Killed by Ethiopian State Troops in Amhara Region, Say Reports
Ethiopian government troops went door-to-door killing dozens of civilians last month in a town in the country’s Amhara region, according to residents, who said the bloodshed took place after clashes with local militia. The killings in Merawi appear to be one of the deadliest episodes in Amhara since a rebellion by Fano, an armed Amhara group, erupted last year over a disputed plan to disarm regional forces. The Fano fought alongside Ethiopia’s federal military in the two-year civil war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which ended in November 2022. However, the government came to see it and other regional forces as a threat to its authority…The bloodshed started on 29 January, after several hours of fighting between federal forces and Fano militiamen, witnesses said. When the militia retreated, soldiers went into houses targeting civilians, accusing them of being fighters, they said…The Ethiopian Human Rights Council, the country’s oldest civil society group, put the total death toll at more than 80 civilians. The Guardian

Kenya Commences Pre-mediation Role in South Sudan Talks
Kenya has commenced a pre-mediation process to peacefully settle a political feud in South Sudan between the holdout groups and the Transitional Government of National Unity under President Salva Kiir. President Kiir, in a statement broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation on Monday, received a letter from his Kenyan counterpart William Ruto, highlighting the focus on peace mediation efforts between the government and the holdout groups. Kenyan envoy, Charles Keter, accompanied by South Sudanese ambassador to Nairobi, Chol Mawut Ajongo, said the letter contains the framework for resolving the differences between Juba and the holdout groups, noting that this signifies a renewed commitment towards promoting regional peace and stability…In December 2023, President Kiir moved the talks to Kenya. Sudan Tribune

Somalia Close to Formalizing EAC Membership
Somalia has moved a step closer to ratifying its admission to the East African Community (EAC), paving the way for local legislative authorities to formalise laws that will make it enjoy the benefits of membership. The Lower House of the bicameral parliament, officially known as Golaha Shacabka (Peoples’ Hall), endorsed the treaty of the EAC in a session held on Saturday. The second chair of the chamber, Abdullahi Omar Abshirow, announced that out of 150 members of Parliament present, 148 voted in favour, one objected while one abstained. The Upper House is now expected to rubberstamp the endorsement, which will then be published in the official government gazette. Somalia was admitted to the regional bloc in December, making it the eighth member state. The others are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The East African

Liberia: Why Soldiers’ Wives Held Liberia Hostage for over 10 Hours
Defense Minister, Retired Maj. Gen. Prince C. Johnson, resigned from his post on Monday, just 10 days after being appointed by President Joseph Nyuma Boakai and confirmed by the Liberian Senate, following the army officers’ mutiny that held the country hostage for over ten hours. The resignation of Gen. Johnson, former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), which came after intense consultations and lengthy dialogues with major national and international stakeholders, marked the first political crisis President Boakai had to face since he became President 24 days ago… To ensure the success of their mutiny, the officers posted their wives at strategic locations across the country, practically crippling general movement across the country. They set up roadblocks in Monrovia, Gbarnga, Zwedru, and other locations in the country…The army officers had been indirectly protesting through their wives against bad labor practices, low incentives, inadequate housing, and a lack of proper retirement programs for officers. Liberian Observer

Deadliest Cholera Outbreak in Past Decade Hits Southern Africa
Active outbreaks of cholera, a waterborne bacterial disease, are now raging in five countries in central and southern Africa, ranging from as far north as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and down to Mozambique. The epidemic has spread over the past two years, infecting more than 220,000 and killing more than 4,000 people in seven countries. This is the deadliest regional outbreak in terms of cases and deaths to hit Africa in at least a decade, said Dr. Patrick Otim, who oversees the cholera response for the World Health Organization in Africa. Public health workers in Africa say it is rare to see so many cases in so many countries at the same time…The devastation is linked to increasingly ferocious storms, a shortage of vaccines, and poor water and sewer infrastructure, public health experts said.

How AFCON’s Global Visibility Skyrocketed
Nearly 2 billion people watched the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023 over the past month, according to Patrick Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football, at a press conference in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Analysts say the AFCON’s global viewership, online engagement and commercial revenue are all expected to grow significantly compared to previous editions thanks to expanded broadcast rights and media coverage, an uptick in commercial partnerships, and the impact of social media. Matches were aired in around 180 countries spread of deals with partner broadcasters including Sky, Canal+, beIN Sport, BBC and MultiChoice, as well as 45 Free To Air broadcasters. Some 6,000 journalists applied for media accreditation, double the last AFCON in Cameroon in 2022. Semafor