Africa Media Review for February 14, 2023

How Nigerian Youth Are Galvanising for Upcoming Presidential Vote
Onyinye Odinmah is excited about voting for the first time as Nigeria’s presidential election nears. After two months of long waits at the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office in Shomolu, Lagos, she secured a biometric Permanent Voters Card (PVC), becoming one of a record 10 million new registered voters ahead of the February 25 election. Of that number, 84 percent are aged 18 to 34, according to INEC. Young people in that demographic represent more than a third of 93.4 million registered voters – the highest compared with previous elections. “I didn’t get my PVC and [didn’t] vote in the last election [in 2019] because I felt they already knew what the outcome would be, and our votes do not count,” Odinmah, a 26-year-old guidance counsellor based in Lagos, told Al Jazeera. “It’s different this time because I participated in EndSARS [protests of October 2020]. I felt there was no need to start complaining but to do the right thing [vote],” she added. … “It [#EndSARS protests] underscored for young people the need for direct engagement with the political and electoral system to reform and get it to be responsive to their needs,” Ikemesit Effiong, head of research at Lagos-based geopolitical consultancy SBM Intelligence, told Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera

Nigeria Election 2023: Nigeria Military Denies Coup Plot Claim Ahead of Poll
The Nigerian military has denied a claim by the governing party that it is planning to disrupt the upcoming presidential election. An official from the APC party had said that generals had last week held a secret meeting with the rival PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar. … The army said that it was professional and “loyal to the constitution” and would never be part of a plot to overthrow the civilian authorities. “The Armed Forces of Nigeria will never be part of any ignoble plot to truncate our hard-earned democracy,” said the spokesperson for Nigeria’s Defence Headquarters Brigadier General Tukur Gusau. BBC

Controversial Russian Frigate Sails into Cape Town Harbour Ahead of Contentious War Game
The controversial Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov sailed into Cape Town on Monday, and refuelled after a long voyage from Russia. The ship is en route to Durban and Richards Bay to participate in the joint maritime Exercise Mosi II with the South African and Chinese navies. … As it sailed into port, the ship proudly sported a large “Z” on the starboard (right) side of funnel, and a V on the port (left) side. These are the symbols which Russian tanks and other vehicles and warships have all been using since February 24 last year to show they are participating in the war against Ukraine. “It’s not deserving neutrality,” Democratic Alliance defence spokesperson Kobus Marais told Daily Maverick, saying the Z symbol showed South Africa would not be participating in a neutral exercise. The Russian frigate has also stirred considerable controversy because its armament includes the “hypersonic” ship-to-ship Zircon missile which Moscow claims is too fast to be intercepted by any Nato forces. The official news agency Tass recently reported that the Admiral Gorshkov would test-fire the Zircon during Exercise Mosi II which alarmed Western diplomats. However, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) told Daily Maverick on Sunday that “according to the Protocol agreement signed by the three countries, there is no planned launch of any missile during Exercise MOSI II.” Daily Maverick

Burkina Faso Inches Closer to Wagner Mercenaries
As it seeks to expand its presence in the Sahel region, Russia appears to be following the same playbook in Burkina Faso that it used to embed itself into Mali’s security apparatus. Despite recent denials, Burkina Faso has courted Russian support, possibly including Wagner Group mercenaries. Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tambela indicated as much after January talks with Russia’s ambassador. He also visited Moscow for several days in December to discuss cooperation between the two countries. … The group has been accused of committing atrocities against civilians and pillaging mineral wealth, which has resulted in further deterioration of the security landscape. In Mali, Wagner fighters have been linked to civilian massacres, including the summary executions of some 300 people in a central Mali village in March 2022. In the Central African Republic, the Russian mercenaries have been accused of killing, raping and torturing civilians while looting gold and diamonds. Part of the Wagner playbook is to create the appearance of local support with fake grassroots movements led by paid influencers who typically hand out Russian flags. defenceWeb and ADF

Refugees Flee as M23 Offensive Moves Closer to Key City in Eastern Congo
Thousands of panicking people are fleeing from a strategic town in eastern Congo as a Rwanda-backed militia group pushes closer to sealing off the last road exit from Goma, the provincial capital and biggest city in the region. Videos on social media showed an exodus of exhausted women and children from the town of Sake, a key crossroads west of Goma. Old people staggered under the weight of mattresses and sacks of belongings, children carried infants on their backs, farmers pulled goats and young men pushed bicycles and wooden scooters overloaded with bags. The M23 militia was reported to have advanced to within 10 kilometres of Sake by Thursday afternoon, and heavy artillery was reportedly audible in the town. If they capture Sake, they will be able to control Goma’s supply routes and place the city under siege. They already control the road to the north, while the east is blocked by the Rwandan border and the south has only a lake route with limited boat traffic. Globe and Mail

Ugandan Move to Close UN Rights Office Angers Opposition
A move by Uganda’s government to close the United Nations’ local human rights office has drawn strong criticism from opposition leaders and activists, who say it highlights the country’s worsening record on civil liberties. The government told the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) last week that it would not renew the mandate of its office in the east African country, effectively expelling the rights monitors. The office was set up in 2006 and has highlighted widespread rights violations including torture, illegal detentions and failure by the state to prosecute offenders. The government said in a letter to OHCHR this month that the U.N. presence was no longer necessary because of the progress it made in developing domestic capacity to monitor human rights compliance, including the emergence of a strong civil society. Critics of the government of President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, begged to differ. “The regime in Uganda should be isolated by all democracy seeking people,” Bobi Wine, a pop star turned politician who heads the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) said in response to a question about the government’s decision. During the last presidential election in January 2021, in which Wine finished runner-up to Museveni, gun-toting security officers tear-gassed and baton-whipped people protesting against brutality by security forces. Reuters

Tunisian Islamist Leader Arrested in Crackdown on Opposition
Tunisian authorities arrested the leader of the Ennahda opposition Islamist movement in a crackdown on rival politicians and critics of the North African country’s increasingly authoritarian president Kais Saied, lawyers said Tuesday. Noureddine Bhiri, a senior Ennahda leader, was taken into custody by armed police at his home in the capital, Tunis, late Monday on suspicion of being part of a “conspiracy against the country’s security,” the movement’s lawyer, Ines Harrathi, said in a Facebook post. … The crackdown — targeting Tunisian opposition figures, the president’s critics and opponents in the media, judiciary and business community — comes after a disastrous parliamentary election last month in which only 11% of the voters cast their ballots. The vote was organized by Saied, who is determined to reshape the country’s political system and replace a legislature that he had dissolved in 2021. … Tunisia is going through a major economic crisis, with soaring inflation and unemployment, particularly among the country’s youth. Critics of Saied’s leadership and political elites accuse them of bringing the country’s economy to the brink of bankruptcy. AP

Cameroon President’s 90th Birthday Marked by Cocktail of Woes
Edith Kah Walla was at the front of a crowd of students that welcomed Cameroon’s new President Paul Biya on a tour of the United States in 1984, full of hope that the young leader would bring stability and democracy, and end corruption. Four decades on, Biya, now the world’s oldest leader, turns 90 on Monday. When he cuts a large cake, as he usually does on his birthday, Kah Walla, who was one of Biya’s challengers in the 2011 presidential election, will not be celebrating. Her support for Biya evaporated over the years as economic progress stalled, dissenting voices were silenced, and the oil-producing country of 27 million people became split by a separatist uprising that has killed thousands, amid growing Boko Haram attacks in the north. At 90, Biya should spend his days playing with his grandchildren, she said. “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.” Al Jazeera

Sudan Court Sentences Three Men to Hand Amputation for Stealing
Three Sudanese men have been sentenced to hand amputation for stealing, the first time in almost a decade that such a punishment has been handed down in the country’s courts. The three men in their 20s were convicted of stealing gas cylinders in Omdurman, Sudan’s most populous city, which sits across the Nile River from the capital, Khartoum. The verdict was handed down two weeks ago but has just come to light, in a case that will further worry many who fear Sudan is sliding back into state extremism, 15 months after the military coup which destabilised the country and halted its transition to democracy. … After Bashir was ousted in 2019, some progressive laws were introduced, such as the criminalisation of female genital mutilation and the abolition of flogging. However, the October 2021 military coup ended a two-year transition to democracy, and several unpopular and regressive public order laws have been reintroduced. Guardian

Sudan Prepares to Withdraw Mercenaries from Libya
Large-scale counts of foreign fighters in Libya have begun, most of them Sudanese, in preparation for their withdrawal from the north African country. On February 7-8, the Egyptian capital Cairo hosted the meetings of the Libyan 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC)), to discuss the withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign forces from the country. UN special envoy for Libya Abdoulaye Bathily chaired the meeting with the participation of a liaison committee from Sudan and Niger.The 5+5 JMC approved the establishment of an integrated mechanism for joint coordination and data sharing to facilitate the full withdrawal of mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libya, according to a statement released by the UN Support Mission in Libya. A Sudanese diplomatic source told Sudan Tribune that the meeting, also, discussed a plan to evacuate mercenaries and foreign forces. He added that the plan includes a cooperation mechanism between the parties to remove fighters from Libya. Sudan Tribune

Gemfields Evacuates Workers after Nearby Attack in Mozambique
Gemfields, the JSE-listed miner of coloured gemstones, has evacuated employees and contractors from operations after an insurgent attack on a nearby village in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique. The attack, which occurred in the village of Nairoto shortly before midnight on Sunday, prompted Gemfields to evacuate operational employees and contractors from the Nairoto Resources exploration camp located 15km away from the village. Operations at Nairoto have been stopped. Some 83km away from the Nairoto village is Gemfields’ Montepuez ruby mine, one of the most significant recently discovered ruby deposits in the world. There is no present impact at these operations, the company said on Tuesday. … For the past five years, Mozambique has been battling attacks from violent extremists… The attacks have been focused on the oil-and-gas-rich Cabo Delgado province. Last month, the province was rocked by three simultaneous attacks which coincided with a visit by the global CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanné, to the group’s local operations. News24

Attacks by Bandits Prompt Kenya to Deploy Military in the North
Kenya deployed the military in its northern region to help fight bandits after they killed more than 100 civilians and 16 police officers in the past six months. The deployment begins Feb. 15, with an immediate mandate to support the National Police Service to respond to the security emergency in the counties of Turkana, West Pokot, Elgeyo Marakwet, Baringo, Laikipia and Samburu, Defense Secretary Aden Duale said in a gazette notice. Banditry in the arid and semi-arid north is a longstanding issue that Kenya has grappled with for decades, with authorities pointing to cattle raiding as the main cause. The robbers often burn police vehicles, schools and other social amenities during their raids, and take off with thousands of cattle. The bandits have, however, exhibited unexpected lethal force against the police in recent months, including ambushing and killing officers, prompting President William Ruto’s administration to call in the army in a bid to end the menace completely. Bloomberg

Equatorial Guinea Confirms Country’s First Marburg Virus Disease Outbreak -WHO
Equatorial Guinea has confirmed its first outbreak of the Marburg virus, a highly infectious and deadly disease similar to Ebola, following the deaths of at least nine people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. The small Central African country quarantined more than 200 people and restricted movement last week in its Kie-Ntem province after detecting an unknown hemorrhagic fever. Neighboring Cameroon also restricted movement along its border over concerns about contagion.In addition to the nine deaths, Equatorial Guinea has reported 16 suspected cases of Marburg virus with symptoms including fever, fatigue and blood-stained vomit and diarrhea, the WHO said. Marburg virus disease can have a fatality rate of up to 88%, according to the WHO. There are no vaccines or antiviral treatments approved to treat it. “Thanks to the rapid and decisive action by the Equatorial Guinean authorities in confirming the disease, emergency response can get to full steam quickly,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, said in the statement. Reuters

AKA, Influential South African Rapper, Is Fatally Shot
AKA, a generation-defining South African rapper whose blend of local sounds with American hip-hop vaulted him into stardom, was fatally shot on Friday night outside a restaurant in the coastal city of Durban. The police said that AKA, 35, had been walking to his car on a popular nightlife strip shortly after 10 p.m. when two armed people approached from across the street and fired several shots at close range before running away. AKA, whose legal name was Kiernan Forbes, and another man died at the scene, the police said. Although the police did not name the second victim, South African news reports identified him as AKA’s close friend Tebello Motsoane, a 34-year-old chef and music entrepreneur known as Tibz. The police said on Saturday that they were still searching for the suspects. New York Times