Africa Media Review for February 20, 2024

The State of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations in Africa
Being a peacekeeper in Africa has become much more dangerous these days, observes General Birame Diop, Military Advisor in the United Nations Department of Peace Operations, in this interview with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. Forty percent of United Nations peacekeeping operations are in Africa, yet political factors—including diminishing support from host country authorities and disinformation campaigns targeting peacekeeping operations—have made peacekeeping more challenging. Peacekeeping, nonetheless, plays an invaluable, if underappreciated, role in helping stabilize highly fragile regions in Africa that face a host of violent nonstate actors. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Senegal’s President Says Election Will Be as Soon as Possible, After Court Overturns Delay
Senegal will hold a presidential election as soon as possible given that the country’s top election authority has overturned a decree by President Macky Sall to postpone the vote, the government said Friday. Sall in early February sought to postpone the Feb. 25 election citing unresolved disputes over who could run, and the National Assembly voted to reschedule it for Dec. 15. However, the country’s Constitutional Council ruled Thursday that those moves were unconstitutional and ordered the government to hold the election as soon as possible, presumably allowing enough time for campaigning. The panel acknowledged that Feb. 25 wouldn’t now be feasible, but said the government should act quickly.  AP

Protestors Keep Pressure on Senegal’s President to Hold Elections as Soon as Possible
Protestors took to the streets in Senegal’s capital Saturday to keep the pressure on President Macky Sall to hold elections quickly. Hundreds of people walked and biked through downtown Dakar chanting “Macky dictator,” while others called for the release of imprisoned opposition figures…Senegal has been seen as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, but election disputes have plunged the country into a political crisis that has sparked deadly protests and cuts to mobile internet. At least three people have been killed by security forces and dozens injured. Security forces did not try to break up Saturday’s protest, which remained peaceful. AP

Senegalese Presidential Candidates Unite in Call for New Election Date
Fifteen of the 20 candidates who were approved to stand in Senegal’s delayed February presidential poll have called for the new vote to be held no later than 2 April, the day President Macky Sall’s term officially ends…the 15 contenders wrote in a signed letter, published on Monday. They added that the list of 20 names approved in January should remain the same. The document was signed by some of the leading contenders, including detained anti-establishment candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye and former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall, who is not related to the president. It was not signed by Prime Minister Amadou Ba, who is the presidential camp’s own candidate.  RFI with AFP

Guinea’s Military Dissolves the Government without Explanation, Saying a New One Will Be Appointed
Military leaders in Guinea have dissolved the government without explanation, saying they will appoint a new one, the president’s secretary general said. Gen. Amara Camara, in a video address on Monday night, added that daily business would continue as usual under the deputy secretary generals until a new government was formed. The West African nation has been led by a military regime since soldiers ousted President Alpha Conde in 2021…Ibrahima Sory Bangoura, chief of staff of the armed forces, said Monday that members of the dissolved government had to return their vehicles and passports as soon as possible. Their bodyguards also had to end their service and the ministers’ bank accounts were frozen, he added. AP

Niger Names New Ministers of Mining and Energy in Reshuffle
Niger’s military government has named new ministers of mining and energy in a government reshuffle, splitting up the previous ministry of mines, petrol and energy into three posts, it said on Monday. Mahaman Moustapha Barke Bako, previously minister of mines, petrol, and energy, will now be minister of petrol. Professor Amadou Haoua was named the new minister of energy and Colonel Ousmane Abarchi was named minister of mines, according to a decree read out on state television, that did not give a reason for the reshuffle. All three are strategically important sectors for the West African country…Niger is one of the world’s largest producers of uranium, the most widely used fuel for nuclear energy. Reuters

DRC Conflict: Why Is Fighting Intensifying and Can It Threaten Regional Stability?
The M23, which refers to the March 23 date of a 2009 accord that ended a previous Tutsi-led revolt in eastern Congo, is the latest in a series of groups of ethnic Tutsi-led insurgents to rise up against Congolese forces. The group has accused the government of Congo of not living up to the peace deal to fully integrate Congolese Tutsis into the army and administration…The rebels have been closing in on Goma in the past few weeks and are now stationed in the hills outside Sake, 25 km from Goma, having blocked off the main roads to the north and west of the city. Capturing Goma would be their biggest military gain in more than a decade…Fighting has continued despite numerous ceasefires brokered by regional leaders and the United States in 2022 and 2023. Reuters

Tensions Escalate Between Somalia, Ethiopian Over AU Summit Incident
Tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia escalated over the weekend following allegations by Somalia’s president that Ethiopian security forces tried to bar him from attending the African Union summit in Addis Ababa. The incident came amid a dispute between the countries involving the breakaway region of Somaliland. Speaking to journalists before cutting short his trip, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the actions of the Ethiopian forces were part of a grand scheme by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to annex part of Somalia…The Somali president eventually gained access to the meeting, entering with the security team of Djibouti President Ismael Omar Guelleh. The Ethiopian government rejected Mohamud’s claim and said the Somali leader and his delegation declined to be accompanied by a security detail assigned to him. VOA

South Africa Asks World Court to Find Israeli Occupation Illegal
South Africa on Tuesday urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue a non-binding legal opinion that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal, arguing it would help efforts to reach a settlement. Representatives of South Africa opened the second day of hearings at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, in the Hague. The hearing follows a request by the U.N. General Assembly for an advisory, or non-binding, opinion on the occupation in 2022. More than 50 states will present arguments until Feb. 26. Reuters

South Africa’s Unemployment Rate Edges Up in Fourth Quarter
South Africa’s unemployment rate edged up to 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023 from 31.9% in the third quarter, statistics agency data showed on Tuesday. Sectors including community and social services, construction, agriculture and trade contributed to the increase in unemployment, a Statistics South Africa presentation showed…South Africa is due to hold a national election this year, with high levels of unemployment and weak economic growth perennial hot-button issues at the polls. Reuters

Tunisia Opposition Leader Ghannouchi Begins Hunger Strike in Prison
Imprisoned Tunisian opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi went on hunger strike on Monday in solidarity with other anti-government figures waging a protest fast to demand their immediate release, a team of opposition lawyers said. Ghannouchi, 82, a fierce critic of President Kais Saied and head of the Ennahda main opposition party, was jailed last year on charges of incitement against police and plotting against state security. Earlier this month in a separate case a judge sentenced him to three years in prison on charges of accepting external financing…Six opposition leaders arrested last year in a crackdown began an open-ended hunger strike last week to protest at their imprisonment without trial and demand their immediate release. They called for an end to judicial prosecutions against all politicians, journalists and civil society activists and for intimidation and threats to judges to stop. Reuters

U.N. in Libya Urges Probe into Tripoli Shooting Deaths
The United Nations mission in Libya has urged authorities to investigate the shooting deaths of 10 people in a Tripoli neighbourhood, with city security chiefs saying the victims included two members of a powerful armed faction…Libya has had little peace since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising and it split in 2014, with rival factions taking over different parts of the country…The Tripoli security directorate said the 10 people had been killed by “an unidentified armed group” late on Saturday night and included two members of the Stabilisation Support Apparatus, one of the biggest and most prominent forces in Tripoli. Reuters

Morocco Intercepts a Boat with 141 People as African Migrants Increasingly Attempt to Reach Spain
The Moroccan navy said it intercepted 141 people attempting to traverse the Atlantic Ocean as migration from West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands has spiked since the beginning of the year. Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces said in a statement Sunday it was able to rescue all passengers on a boat off the coast of the Western Sahara, a disputed territory with a coastline that Morocco has controlled since 1975. It said the 141 people all came from sub-Saharan Africa and likely embarked more than a week earlier from Mauritania — Morocco’s southern neighbor and the primary point of departure for migrants attempting to reach Spain’s Canary Islands. The interception was the largest that Moroccan authorities have reported this year. AP

Ivory Coast Seizes 100 Tons of Cocoa at the Border with Guinea
Ivory Coast’s Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC) has helped the national police to seize three trucks loaded with 1,500 bags of cocoa beans on the border with Guinea, the regulator’s managing director said on Friday. Low farmgate prices compared with neighbouring countries have made the West African nation, the world’s top producer of the main ingredient in chocolate, a target for smugglers from neighbouring Liberia and Guinea where beans fetch higher prices…Global cocoa prices have hit record highs in recent months amid worries about a bean deficit this season and with concerns growing for the next. In the cocoa growing regions, the concern over shortages has fuelled a scramble for beans and smuggling. Reuters