Africa Media Review for February 22, 2024

Macky Sall to Address Senegal, as Calls to Set Election Date Intensify
Senegalese President Macky Sall has promised he will address the nation on Thursday evening in a bid to quell rising anger over the delay in setting a new election date…He’ll be live on the national broadcaster RTS, on iTV and on Seneweb for an hour, answering questions from journalists. The country has been plunged into uncertainty since 3 February, and Sall’s unilateral decision to postpone the polls originally set for 25 February…Sall’s mandate ends on 2 April, and the Senegalese constitution states that the presidential election should take place before he leaves office, and that he should not stay in place after this date. RFI

Senegal Election: President Sall “Slow” to Set Date, Opposition Says
President Macky Sall last week promised he would abide by the Constitutional Council’s request for the vote to be scheduled as soon as possible. The court blocked Sall’s parliament-backed decree to postpone the election, originally scheduled for Feb. 25…But a new date has yet to be set, stoking concern among opposition candidates, some of whom are pushing for the election to take place before Sall’s mandate ends on April 2. In a joint statement late on Tuesday, 16 of the 19 presidential contenders…said the slow resumption of electoral operations showed Sall’s unwillingness to launch a process that would lead to a change of power…Asked in a press conference on Tuesday about the end of Sall’s mandate on April 2, Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall said it was up for debate. Reuters

Sudan: Inside the Darfur Camp Where a Child Dies Every Two Hours
Everyone knows a family that has lost a child in Zamzam, a camp for hundreds of thousands of displaced people in Sudan’s Darfur region. Hunger and disease have become grim features of daily life, and a child is dying in the camp every two hours, according to the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)…Apart from one small distribution in June, no food aid has arrived since fighting erupted across Sudan on 15 April…Zamzam was set up in the mid-2000s in the wake of the genocide in Darfur, carried out by predominately Arab militias called the Janjaweed. Before the current war between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which grew from the Janjaweed, a patchwork of international aid agencies provided services to Zamzam, but they abruptly pulled out when the fighting started. The Guardian

DRC: ‘I Feel My Heart Breaking into a Thousand Pieces’: Goma Fills with Refugees Trying to Flee Fighting in DRC
Goma, a city of about 2 million people, lies on the Congolese-Rwandan frontier, wedged between Mount Nyiragongo, an active volcano, and Lake Kivu…Goma’s outskirts alone host about half a million people who live in squalid camps, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha). More and more people are arriving. About 135,000 people moved towards Goma between 2 and 7 February alone, the humanitarian agency said, mostly from the highlands around Saké. The government-controlled pocket around Goma is now an active conflict zone that contains an array of different armed militias pledged to battle the M23…Civilians have paid a particularly heavy toll during the latest battles. Before the rebel advance on Saké, shelling killed at least 19 people in the town of Mweso on 25 January, according to the Congolese army. Both sides accused the other of firing indiscriminately. The Guardian

DR Congo: Fighting Threatens Stability of Entire Region, Envoy Warns
[MONUSCO, the UN Mission in the DRC,] continues to confront mis and disinformation surrounding its role in the ongoing clashes, mainly through online campaigns carried out by accounts mostly located outside of the DRC. “This has resulted in hostile acts against UN peacekeepers and restrictions of movement by local armed groups and government soldiers,” Ms. Keita said. Violent protests against the UN and the diplomatic community erupted in Kinshasa on 10 February, “fueled by a perception of the international community’s inaction and inefficiency over the situation in the eastern DRC.” UN entities and MONUSCO were targeted in 11 incidents and 32 staff members had to either be extracted or rescued by peacekeepers. Two UN vehicles were burnt and eight were severely damaged by stoning. UN News

DR Congo PM Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde Resigns, Presidency Says
Congolese Prime Minister Jean-Michel Sama Lukonde resigned on Tuesday, choosing, instead, to focus on parliamentary duties as an elected legislator. He presented his resignation to Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, according to an official dispatch. His resignation triggered the dissolution of the entire government…Mr Lukonde, 46, was in office for three years. He was appointed on February 15, 2021 to head the government following the break-up of the alliance between the coalition of former President Joseph Kabila and that of Tshisekedi. He was elected member of parliament in the elections of December 20, 2023. It is a legal requirement in the Democratic Republic of Congo that serving ministers are not members of parliament, which means that one has to choose whether to remain a legislator or quit to remain in government. The East African

Upsurge in Violence in Northern Mozambique Displaces Thousands
A new outbreak of unrest in northern Mozambique, scene of a jihadi insurgency, has forced thousands to flee their homes, according to United Nations figures and sources in Cabo Delgado province. An alert from the U.N. migration agency IOM said recent attacks in the Macomia, Chiure and Mecufi districts had displaced 13,088 people, most of them children, by bus, canoe and on foot. Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi confirmed there had been new population movements but played down the threat and insisted security forces had the situation under control…Forces from Rwanda and countries of the Southern African Development Community, deployed to Mozambique in July 2021 after years of jihadi attacks. They have helped the country retake lost territory in Cabo Delgado, but unrest continues. AFP

US Ambassador Meets With Gabon Coup Leader
A U.S. delegation met with the military ruler of Gabon on Tuesday and reiterated the need for a quick return to constitutional order six months after the nation’s August 30 coup. Even so, the U.S. ambassador to Gabon who led the delegation, Vernelle Trim FitzPatrick, said economic and diplomatic relations with the Central African state will be reinforced despite sanctions imposed on Gabon’s coup leaders…Speaking later on Gabon’s state television, FitzPatrick said the United States finds it important to discuss strengthening trade and commercial relations with Gabon to gain the support of the U.S Congress in fostering ties with the nation. FitzPatrick, who has been ambassador to Gabon for about a month, also said the United States will assist with the transition to civilian rule but did not say how. VOA

Turkey to Provide Maritime Security Support to Somalia -Official
Turkey will provide maritime security support to Somalia to help the African country defend its territorial waters, an official from the Turkish defence ministry said on Thursday. Turkey and Somalia signed a defence and economic cooperation agreement earlier this month during Somali defence minister’s visit to Ankara. Commenting on the details of the agreement, a Turkish defence ministry official speaking on the condition of anonymity said Ankara had been providing training to Somali army for more than ten years. The agreement aims to enhance defence cooperation between Turkey and Somalia, the official said…In 2017, Turkey opened its biggest overseas military base in Mogadishu. Turkey also provides training to Somali military and police. Reuters

Pirates Targeting Ships Diverted from Red Sea, Warns UN Shipping Chief
The head of the UN organisation for maritime issues has warned shipping companies to be on high alert for piracy off the African coast after ship seizures in recent months raised concerns that diversions away from the Red Sea and Suez Canal would prompt an increase in hijackings. Arsenio Dominguez, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, said his organisation had spoken to the authorities in Somalia, in east Africa, and countries around the Gulf of Guinea on the western side of the continent. They had discussed efforts to ensure piracy did not again become a grave problem. Many shipping companies have since December diverted sailings away from the Red Sea and Suez Canal to routes to avoid attacks by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. This has sent vessels into waters in the Indian Ocean and off West Africa that generally attract less traffic. Financial Times

Italy Arrests 12 People over Speed Boat Migrant Trips from Tunisia
Italian police said on Wednesday they had arrested 12 suspected human traffickers for allegedly organising high-speed transfers for at least 73 illegal migrants from Tunisia to Europe. Expert pilots operated the speed boats crossing from Tunisia to Marsala in Sicily between June and September last year, police said in a statement, describing them as “VIP trips”…Six Tunisians and six Italians were detained as part of an investigation coordinated by European police body Europol and the Italian anti-mafia police unit. The investigators identified a Tunisian former police officer as the head of the trafficking organisation. Reuters

‘Follow, Not Lead’: Zimbabwe Govt Warns Media about Covering Alleged Military Corruption
The government of Zimbabwe has issued a warning to the media about reporting on matters linked to the security sector…This is in response to an investigative unit’s coverage of alleged corruption in the army. Last week, NewsHawks reported three senior army commanders had been forced out of the Zimbabwe National Army due to corruption linked to a housing scandal…NewsHawks failed to publish this week and was allegedly forced to take down follow-up stories after reporters were threatened. In a statement to its readers, the publication said: We are not being silenced but forced to make some strategic decisions or choices to secure the safety of our reporters. The Southern African Editors Forum (SAEF) issued a statement in support of the decision by NewHawks. “The SAEF would like to remind the Zimbabwean government, that as a UN member state, they are bound by treaties that advocate for the safety of journalists and President [Emmerson] Mnangagwa should take the lead in this and order intelligence to stop hounding journalists,” it said. News24

Cyber-Attack Hits Malawi’s Immigration Service
Malawi has suspended the issuing of passports following a cyber-attack on the computer system at the country’s immigration service. President Lazarus Chakwera told MPs that the targeting of the government department amounted to a “serious national security breach”. He revealed that the hackers were asking for a ransom. But the president said the government would not give in to their demands and was working to resolve the problem…For the past two weeks, Malawi has not been issuing passports for what officials said was “a technical glitch”. Mr Chakwera only revealed for the first time on Wednesday that the immigration system had been “hacked” without mentioning who the hackers were suspected to be. No other details have been given about the cyber-attack including the possible implications in terms of personal data security. BBC

Ghana Moves Closer to Passing Bill That Would Crack Down on LGBT Rights
Ghana’s parliament on Wednesday moved a step closer to holding a vote on a bill that seeks to further clamp down on the rights of LGBT people, rejecting a proposal that would have seen jail terms for gay sex replaced with non-custodial sentences such as counselling…It would punish the promotion of rights of those who are lesbian, gay or other non-conventional sexual or gender identities with up to 10 years in prison…If approved, it would require presidential assent to come into force. President Nana Akufo-Addo has not confirmed if he would sign the bill into law…The United Nations said in 2021 that the proposed law, The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values, would create “a system of state-sponsored discrimination and violence” against sexual minorities. Reuters

Kenyans Mourn Marathon World Record Holder Kiptum as Body Returns Home
Hundreds of mourners on Thursday accompanied the casket of marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum on its way to his home village, where the young star who dreamed of breaking the race’s storied two-hour barrier will be laid to rest. Singing hymns and holding hands, mourners walked alongside the convoy carrying Kiptum’s flower-lined casket as it departed a morgue in the western Kenyan city of Eldoret for his village of Chepsamo. Kiptum, 24, was killed alongside his coach Gervais Hakizimana earlier this month when he lost control of the vehicle he was driving in Kenya’s Rift Valley and crashed into a tree. The pathologist’s report said he died of head injuries. Kiptum had only run three marathons but each was among the fastest seven times ever recorded. He set the world record at the Chicago Marathon in October in two hours and 35 seconds, eclipsing the 2:01:09 run by compatriot Eliud Kipchoge in 2022. Reuters