Africa Media Review for February 24, 2023

What You Need to Know About Nigeria’s Historic Presidential Election
Nigerians are readying to head to the polls this Saturday in what promises to be a historic presidential election in Africa’s most populous country. The race is the most open — and most closely contested — since democracy returned to Nigeria in 1999, with a third-party candidate running neck-and-neck in the polls with the candidates from Nigeria’s two main political parties. President Muhammadu Buhari is leaving office deeply unpopular, after two terms in which poverty and youth unemployment have surged and security crises across the West African nation have increased. The frustrations of young people in particular — more than 40 percent of whom are unemployed or underemployed — have fueled the rise of an outsider third-party candidate Peter Obi, who is promising to reform a system widely seen as broken. Despite the vast oil riches in Africa’s largest economy, more than 60 percent of its residents live in poverty. Washington Post

Ahead of Crucial Election, Security Crises and Kidnappings Plague Nigeria
In the last year alone, armed groups killed more than 10,000 people, according to a tally by the International Crisis Group. Now election officials must secure more than 176,000 polling stations for the vote on Saturday. Threats to polling stations could discourage voters from showing up. Fifty electoral commission offices were attacked between 2019 and 2022. A senate candidate was killed on Wednesday in the south of the country, according to news reports. The three leading candidates have all pledged to tackle insecurity, whether by recruiting more security personnel or upgrading the military. But many analysts argue that these promises remain vague and fail to address the root causes of the insecurity, such as poverty and unemployment. New York Times

U.S. Intelligence Points to Wagner Plot Against Key Western Ally in Africa
The U.S. has shared intelligence with authorities in Chad that the head of Russian paramilitary company Wagner Group is working with Chadian rebels to destabilize the government and potentially kill the president of the African nation, a key counterterrorism ally of the West, according to U.S., African and European officials…Supporting a plot against a sitting president would add a new page to Wagner’s known playbook in Africa, where the group has signed military and security assistance contracts with governments and a Libyan faction. Wall Street Journal

128 Killed in Chad During Repression of Protests: Rights Body
A total of 128 people died in the violent repression of opposition protests in Chad last year, the country’s human rights commission (CNDH) said Thursday, decrying “human rights violations.” Opposition groups called the demonstrations, in the capital N’Djamena and other towns, last October to mark the date when the ruling military had initially promised to hand over power — a timeline now extended for another two years by General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno. He took power after his father, president Idriss Deby Itno, who ruled for 30 years, died during an operation against rebels in April 2021. The Chadian authorities had initially put the death toll in the capital at around 50, before updating that figure to 73 deaths. AFP

Djibouti Holds Parliamentary Vote Branded as Sham by Opposition
The tiny Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti is voting in parliamentary elections on Friday that have been boycotted by the main opposition parties, who have branded the polls a sham. Only two parties are contesting seats in the 65-member National Assembly, where veteran President Ismail Omar Guelleh’s ruling Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP) is assured of victory. Despite its diminutive size, Djibouti enjoys a strategically crucial position at the mouth of the Red Sea, using it to woo trade investors and foreign military powers. The opposition charges that the poll, which follows a presidential ballot in April 2021 that saw Guelleh re-elected for a fifth term with 97 percent of the vote, will not be free and fair. Al Jazeera

South Sudan’s Kiir Calls for 2.3 Million Refugees to Return Home
South Sudan’s president is appealing to the more than 2 million South Sudanese refugees living in neighboring countries to start returning home. Salva Kiir says his government will provide returning refugees with the necessary security. There are more than 2.3 million South Sudanese living as refugees in nearby countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Egypt. Speaking Wednesday in Juba, Kiir said repatriating those citizens was at the top of the government’s priority list…He made the comments while speaking to representatives of South Sudan’s large population of internally displaced people. Kiir said the country also intended to resettle the IDPs, though not necessarily in the areas from which they came. Voice of America

Burkina Faso: Thomas Sankara’s Widow Boycotts Reburial of African Revolutionary
Burkina Faso’s most famous revolutionary Thomas Sankara has been reburied in the capital by the military junta – despite his widow and children boycotting the funeral. Sankara was laid to rest at the spot where he was assassinated in 1987. His immediate family wanted the reburial at a site that would “appease hearts”, not at the “crime scene”. The dispute is seen as unfortunate, as the funeral was aimed at honouring a man revered as a national hero.Sankara was regarded as a pan-Africanist with a modest lifestyle who spoke out against neo-colonialism…Sankara was Burkina Faso’s president when he was shot dead, along with 12 others, by a hit squad. The assassination opened the way for his friend, Blaise Compaoré, to seize power in a coup. The 12 killed with him were also reburied in coffins draped in the national flag at a ceremony attended by the junta’s prime minister and other officials and dignitaries. BBC

S Leone Presidential Opposition Candidate in Graft Trial
A court in Sierra Leone has ruled that the main opposition candidate for June’s presidential election will have to stand trial over allegations of corruption. Samura Kamara was chosen as the candidate for the All People’s Congress three days ago. He has denied any wrongdoing and says the case is politically motivated. Mr Kamara served as finance and foreign affairs minister under the former president Ernest Bai Koroma. The trial is due to begin next month. The current president, Julius Maada Bio, is set to run for a second term. The opposition APC has described his anti-corruption drive as a witch-hunt against the party. BBC

Algeria Dissolves Pro-Democracy Group amid Wider Crackdown
Algerian authorities on Thursday dissolved a decades-old pro-democracy group that participated in the peaceful protests which helped force the North African country’s long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office in 2019. The Youth Action Group, known by its French acronym, RAJ, and the left-leaning Movement for Democracy and Socialism party that was also suspended by the same decree, appear to be the latest targets of a crackdown on Algeria’s dissenting voices. The Algerian Council of State said RAJ was dissolved in line with an October 2021 administrative court decision in favor of an interior ministry lawsuit. The ministry had alleged that the group is “rallying forces to destabilize the country” and conducting other activities that violate a controversial 2012 law on nongovernmental groups. AP

Sudan Abstains Again in UNGA Vote on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine
Sudan once again abstained from voting on a non-binding resolution by the United Nations Assembly General demanding Russia withdraw troops from Ukraine and end hostilities. To mark the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 141 of 193 UNAG members adopted a resolution calling on Russia to end aggression on its neighbouring country. Seven countries voted against including  Belarus, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Mali, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria. While 32 others including Sudan, Ethiopia and South Africa abstained. Sudan Tribune

Jill Biden to Namibian Youth: Protect Your Democracy
U.S. first lady Jill Biden on Friday told the young people of Namibia that the democracy their parents and grandparents fought for is now theirs to defend and protect. She encouraged them to include women and girls, voices that she said are too often unheard, as they move forward…Namibia is a relatively young democracy, gaining its independence from South Africa in 1990. Biden is midway through her first tour of Africa as first lady, including a visit to Kenya that begins later Friday. She is using the trip to focus on empowering women and girls as well as to highlight a devastating drought that is increasing food insecurity across the Horn of Africa. AP

Powerful Storm Headed for Mozambique
A powerful storm is expected to make landfall in central and southern Mozambique in the coming hours (around 10:00 GMT). Cyclone Freddy arrives after battering the east coast of Madagascar, where at least seven people were killed. It brought torrential rain and strong winds, tearing roofs off houses – with 80,000 people affected by floods. Residents in Mozambique have been reinforcing their roofs in readiness. BBC