Africa Media Review for February 23, 2024

Senegal’s President Says He’ll Leave Office in April, but Gives No Date for Elections
Senegal’s President Macky Sall said Thursday that he will end his term in April as expected, but he didn’t give a new date for the presidential election originally scheduled for Sunday. Sall, who is wrapping up two terms in office and who has said he wouldn’t run again, postponed the election for 10 months citing unresolved disputes over who could run. But his move was struck down by Senegal’s Constitutional Court as illegal. Speaking to journalists Thursday on live television, Sall said he would end his term as scheduled on April 2. However, it was unclear if a new president could be elected before then. The Constitutional Court ordered the government to set a new election date as soon as possible, but Sall’s government still hasn’t set the date…Opposition groups are keeping pressure on Sall to hold elections quickly, planning protests throughout the weekend. AP

Rape and Sexual Violence in Sudan’s Ongoing Conflict May Amount to War Crimes, a New UN Report Says
The U.N. human rights office said in a new report Friday that scores of people, including children, have been subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence in the ongoing conflict in Sudan, assaults that may amount to war crimes…The report found that at least 118 people had been subjected to sexual violence, including rape — with many of the assaults committed by members of the paramilitary forces, in homes and on the streets…The report also pointed to recruitment of child soldiers on both sides of the conflict…The report is based on interview of more than 300 victims and witnesses, some conducted in neighboring Ethiopia and Chad where many Sudanese have fled, along with analysis of photographs, videos, and satellite imagery from the conflict areas. AP

South Sudan Transition in Danger of Stalling, UN Report Says
South Sudan’s transition to a complete civilian rule established through the ballot may be in danger of stalling…according to a report by Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. Yasmin Sooka, the chairperson of the Commission, says the establishment of a unified national army and transitional justice organs to deal with the past and the root causes of the conflict are the basic needs for South Sudan, which it has been unable to meet so far, affecting its journey to democracy. “Our investigations have found that the violence and gross human rights violations continue with impunity, with women and children being the main target of these crimes. Critical security arrangements, and an independent justice system supported by constitutional processes provided under the Revitalised Agreement, are essential to avoid a return to conflict following elections,” said Mrs Sooka. The East African

What Defense Pact with Turkey Means for Somalia
Somalia largely depends on international partners for regulation of its security and economic progression, as the country hosts over 15,000 foreign security troops. The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has been responsible for security protocols in the country. But the defense pact signed by Somalia’s minister for defense Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur and Turkey early in February unlocks the country’s security protocols including building, training, and equipping the Somali Navy. For a long time, Turkey has invested in training elite GorGor land troops, who are critical in the fight against Al-Shabaab. But the country is yet to build Naval forces, that would secure the 3,333 kilometers of coastline. The pact will now unleash this potential as a strategy measure to safeguard the country from sea threats. Garowe Online

MoU with Ethiopia Will Be Implemented Even If You Bring Turkey, Bihi Tells Somalia President
The controversial agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland will be implemented, Muse Bihi Abdi maintains, noting that there will be no change to the deal, which was signed over seven weeks ago, leading to outrage from several stakeholders. Mr. Abdi, who is the leader of the breakaway region of Somaliland, said the region will ensure the agreement is implemented, even if President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud ‘invites Turkey and Egypt’ to the conflict, which could destabilize the Horn of Africa…He made the remarks after Somalia approved a 10-year defense and economic pact with Turkey [Wednesday]. The agreement, widely celebrated upon approval by Parliament, covers maritime defense and economic cooperation. Garowe Online

Russia Angers Guinea’s Junta after Government Dissolved
Guinea’s military junta has protested to Russia’s ambassador after his embassy reportedly warned of possible unrest in the capital, Conakry. The warning was issued after junta leader Colonel Mamady Doumbouya dissolved the government on Monday, and ordered the closure of all borders…Guinean media reported that Col Doumbouya’s decision led to the Russian embassy in Guinea advising Russian nationals to be vigilant as there could be unrest in the West African state’s capital, Conakry. The junta reacted angrily, with an official in its foreign ministry summoning Mr Popov to a meeting…Guinea is one of several former French colonies in West Africa to be hit by coups in recent years. The juntas, which seized power in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso have pivoted toward Russia, while being hostile towards France and the West African regional bloc, Ecowas. However, Col Doumbouya has tried to maintain good relations with all sides. BBC

Nigeria Mulls State Policing to Combat Growing Insecurity
Nigeria is considering the introduction of state police in its 36 states to bolster its national police force as it struggles to contain widespread violence and insecurity, the information minister said [last week]. An Islamist insurgency in the northeast, kidnappings for ransom, deadly farmer-herder clashes in the central belt and separatist and gang violence in the southeast are some of the challenges faced by Nigeria’s police force. President Bola Tinubu met the country’s state governors to discuss insecurity…This is the first time that Nigeria’s federal and state governments have agreed on the need to set up state police to reinforce the more than 300,000-strong national police force in Africa’s most populous nation. Nigerian Police Inspector General Kayode Egbetokun said last year at least 190,000 more officers were needed to secure the country adequately. Reuters

Nigeria: At Meeting with CJID, Minister Seeks Media, Civil Societies’ Collaboration for National Development
The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, has called on civil societies and the media to collaborate with the government to improve policy engagement and drive national development. Mr Bagudu made this call while interacting with staff of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) at his office in Abuja. The CJID team led by its Chief Executive Officer, Dapo Olorunyomi, was on a scheduled visit to the minister to discuss strategies to foster accountability and transparency in governance…The minister said that the collaboration was necessary to improve information access and curb the spread of disinformation and misrepresentation of facts driven by presumptions, all of which affect public trust. Premium Times

EACJ to Rule on Lower Chamber Hearing Oil Pipeline Project Case
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) appellate division on Tuesday agreed to determine if the Court’s lower chamber has jurisdiction to hear the case challenging the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) from Hoima in Uganda to the Tanzanian port of Tanga…In November 2020, four East African non-governmental organisations (NGOs) filed the court case as part of a series of actions to challenge the construction of the world’s longest heated pipeline…The petitioners argue that Eacop violates key East African and international treaties and laws including the EAC Treaty, Protocol for Sustainable Development of the Lake Victoria basin, Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The East African

Egypt: Houthi Attacks Cut Suez Canal Revenue by Half
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said Monday that revenue from the Suez Canal had “decreased by 40% to 50%” so far this year due to attacks on shipping by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. The canal is one of the main sources of foreign currency for Egypt which is gripped by a severe financial crisis. Since November, the Iran-backed Houthis have launched numerous attacks on vessels in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea…The United Nations said in late January that the overall number of ships passing through the Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, had fallen 42% in the previous two months…The engineering landmark, which opened in 1869, raised around $8.6bn for Egypt in the 2022-23 fiscal year, a vital source of foreign currency, alongside tourism and remittances, in a country where importers and money changers struggle to source dollars. The Africa Report

Libya Factions Remain on Tripoli Streets as Withdrawal Plan Announced
Major armed factions remained visible on the streets of Libya’s capital Tripoli on Thursday after the Government of National Unity said they had agreed to withdraw from checkpoints and stop patrols over the coming weeks. Myriad armed forces have jostled for position in Tripoli since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that unseated long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi and led to years of chaos, warfare and insecurity. Interior Minister Emad Trabulsi announced on Wednesday that the main armed factions operating in Tripoli had agreed to remove their forces before the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected around April 10. However, even if armed factions become less visible on the streets, any substantive withdrawal is seen as unlikely without broader agreements on Libya’s long-term political future. Reuters

Middle-Class Tunisians Risk Shipwreck for Lure of Europe
As Tunisia’s economy has floundered over recent years, ever more young people have gone to seek their fortune in prosperous Italy or France and the record numbers have led to a spike in deaths, with Sfax morgue regularly filling with drowned bodies…In the first month of 2024 alone, more than 100 people drowned off Tunisia, including 60 Tunisians whose bodies have yet to be found…Potential migrants are pushed by a growing disillusionment among Tunisians about their country’s future and lured by social media tales of compatriots who portray their new European lives as easy and successful…Migration boats once attracted only the unemployed and desperate but they increasingly carry middle class Tunisians, sometimes entire families. Tunisia is suffering an economic crisis with shortages of basic items such as bread and sugar, leading to long queues in shops and widespread frustration. Reuters

Spanish Court to Order Arrest of Equatorial Guinea Leader’s Son
Spain’s High Court has accepted an appeal by members of Equatorial Guinea’s opposition and ordered a lower court to issue arrest warrants for the son of the country’s president and two other officials over allegations of torture and kidnapping. Carmelo Ovono Obiang, son of President Teodoro Obiang, and two other senior officials were accused of abducting four members of the Spain-based opposition group, the Movement for the Liberation of Equatorial Guinea Third Republic (MLGE3R), while they were on a trip to South Sudan in 2019. In a complaint lodged with Spain’s High Court in 2020, the MLGE3R alleged that the four – two of whom were Spanish citizens – were sent to Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, on a government plane and tortured, a court document showed. One of them, Spanish citizen Julio Obama, died last year in prison in Equatorial Guinea. Reuters

Africa’s Donkeys Are Coveted by China. Can the Continent Protect Them?
[A] growing demand for [donkey skin gelatin] has decimated donkey populations at such alarming rates in African countries that governments are now moving to put a brake on the mostly unregulated trade.The African Union…adopted a continent wide ban on donkey skin exports this month in the hope that stocks will recover. Rural households across Africa rely on donkeys for transportation and agriculture. Yet donkeys only breed a foal every couple of years…China’s donkey skin trade is the key component of a multibillion-dollar industry for what the Chinese call ejiao, or donkey gelatin. It is a traditional medicine recognized by China’s health authorities…China’s ejiao industry now consumes between four and six million donkey hides every year…[China’s] own herd has plummeted from more than nine million in 2000 to just over 1.7 million in 2022. So over the past decade China started turning to Africa, home to 60 percent of the world’s donkeys…In Africa, it is unclear yet how the continent wide ban might help save donkeys: African states now have to implement the ban through national legislation, a process that will take years. And national law enforcement agencies may not have the resources or will to tackle the illegal trafficking of donkey pelts. The New York Times