Africa Media Review for February 28, 2023

Malian Military Junta Scuttles Security Partnerships While Militant Violence Surges
Since taking power in August 2020, the military junta in Mali has alienated its regional and international security partners and pursued a strategy that has exacerbated the militant Islamist violence threatening the country, thereby accelerating the security crisis in the Sahel. Violence linked to militant Islamist groups has nearly doubled since the junta seized power in 2020. And annual fatalities associated with this violence more than doubled in 2022. Civilians have borne the brunt of this violence. There were more civilians killed in Mali in every quarter of 2022 than in any previous calendar year. Fatalities associated with violence against civilians are seven times higher in 2022 than in 2021. Simultaneous to this escalation, the junta has imposed restrictions on regional and international security partner troop rotations, flight clearances, maneuvers, and patrol routes. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Mali: Transition President Receives “Final” Draft of Constitution
The head of Mali’s ruling junta, Colonel Assimi Goita, received a draft of a new constitution on Monday, amending a draft that was contested last fall, his office said, without saying when it would be put to a referendum. This Constitution is a key element of the vast reform project invoked by the military to justify its continued rule. Its adoption would be an important step in the timetable leading to elections in February 2024 and a return to civilian rule. The content of this new draft presented as “final” by the Malian presidency had not been made public early Monday evening. In the timetable drawn up by the junta, this Constitution was supposed to be submitted to a referendum on March 19. But with less than three weeks to go, there is growing doubt that this deadline will be met, and the Malian presidency’s statement is silent on the subject. AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria Opposition Alleges Election Fraud As Ruling Party Takes Lead
Votes for the presidency were tallied by hand at local polling stations, with results uploaded online to INEC’s central database IReV. But long delays in voting getting underway and the slow pace of uploading state-by-state counting fuelled accusations of manipulation. PDP and other party agents on Monday walked out of a counting centre in Abuja. “We are not here to rubber stamp the electoral fraud that has been prepared by INEC and APC,” PDP official Dino Melaye said. “We are saying that INEC is compromised.” Labour campaign director Akin Osuntokun called for INEC to suspend announcing the results because of the manipulation of tallies. An EU observer mission said INEC “lacked efficient planning and transparency during critical stages” and reduced public trust with delays in voting and results. Nigeria has a long history of vote rigging and ballot buying, though INEC said new technology would help curtail electoral malpractice. RFI

France Must Demonstrate ‘Profound Humility’ Towards Africa, Macron Says Ahead of Four-Nation Trip
President Emmanuel Macron on Monday outlined France’s new strategy for Africa, where anti-French sentiment runs high in some of its former colonies. Ahead of a visit to Gabon, Angola, Congo-Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Macron said that France needs to demonstrate a “profound humility” in Africa. Macron also said France is planning a “noticeable reduction” of its military presence in Africa. “The change will happen in the coming months, with a noticeable reduction in our numbers and the increased presence of our African partners at these bases,” he said.  France will end its practice of hosting regular military bases in Africa and will instead establish “academies” to be co-run by French and African armies. He said there would be a notable fall in French military personnel but an increase in efforts to provide training and equipment. But this “reorganisation” is not a withdrawal, Macron said. France24

Young Africans Are Logging In and Clocking On
Africa’s digital workers are rewiring the old geographies of labour. Freelances on online platforms can reach clients around the world, harnessing skills from blogging to web design. Others are hired by outsourcing companies, sifting data used to train chatbots and self-driving cars. Optimists hope that online work can set Africa on the path of services-led growth trodden by countries such as India and the Philippines. Pessimists worry such work will entrench injustices. Economist

Algeria and Russia Aim To Boost Military Ties
The head of Algeria’s army hosted Russia’s top security official on Monday to discuss boosting their military ties, the defense ministry in Algiers said. General Said Chengriha said the visit of National Security Council secretary Nikolai Patrushev reflected both countries’ “firm desire to strengthen their historic and strategic partnership… in particular in the area of military cooperation.” Patrushev said Russia was working to “further strengthen” their relations. He also met Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, according to images shown on state television. Tebboune is set to visit Russia in May. DefensePost with AFP

FFC Leading Member Calls To Form Civilian Government in Sudan
A former member of the Sovereign Council and leading figure in the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) on Monday said that they look forward to naming the head of state and prime minister as soon as possible, ahead of the formation of the new transitional government. The FFC leaders expressed their fear that the Sudanese army leadership might disavow the framework agreement after repeated statements against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as a result of his calls to implement the political deal…The framework agreement granted the power to appoint the head of state and prime minister to the revolution’s forces, which include the FFC, the Resistance Committees and the signatories of the Juba peace agreement. The deal provides the signing of a final agreement after holding conferences on five sticky issues. Until now, the parties concluded three workshops: dismantling the structure of the former regime, evaluating the peace agreement and the crisis in eastern Sudan. Two other conferences on justice and reform of the security sector are expected to be held in the coming days. Sudan Tribune

UN Will Struggle To Unify Libya With Elections This Year
A new push to convince chaos-stricken Libya’s rival factions to hold presidential and legislative elections this year was announced by the top United Nations diplomat in the country on Monday, but any optimism was dampened by a lack of details and continued disputes. Abdoulaye Bathily, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ special representative for Libya, told the U.N. Security Council in New York that the latest initiative aims for elections within 10 months. To date, he said, “the political process remains protracted and falls short of the aspirations of Libyans who seek to elect their leaders and reinvigorate their political institutions.” “In short, Libyans are impatient,” he continued. “They question the will and desire of political actors to hold inclusive and transparent elections in 2023.” AP

‘The Conflict Goes On’: South Sudan’s Never-Ending War
“South Sudan remains significantly peaceful”, declared the opening line of a government-issued fact sheet for visitors and press as they awaited the historic arrival of Pope Francis in the country this month. But on his first day in Juba, as the pontiff waved to the faithful, mass graves were being dug just 100 kilometres away for 27 civilians killed in a hail of automatic gunfire. The deadly episode underscored a sobering reality in South Sudan: despite assurances to the contrary, and billions spent on peacekeeping, law and order rarely extends beyond the capital. Conflict still torments the oil-rich but deeply-poor country half a decade after its leaders declared an end to the civil war that killed 380,000 people. AFP

Egypt Taps Private Firms and Long-Delayed Museum To Revitalize Tourism
Tourism is a crucial source of foreign currency and jobs for Egypt’s struggling economy. The sector earned $10.75 billion in the financial year ending in June 2022, up from $4.86 billion the prior year, when it was hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. But it captures a little under 1% of the global tourism market, said Ahmed Issa, a former banker appointed as tourism minister last summer. The budget for more than 2,000 archaeological sites and 41 museums in the 2021/22 financial year was a modest 3.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($170 million at the exchange rate at the time). “I think Egypt deserves and should be able to grow its tourism industry by 25% to 30% per annum consistently over the coming decade. And that should get us to about 30 million (visitors) by the year 2028,” Issa told Reuters in an interview. Reuters

South Africa’s Ramaphosa Vows To Fight Dirty Money After ‘Grey’ Listing
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said South Africa would seize “an opportunity” to tackle dirty money after the country had been placed on a watchlist for financial crimes. A global watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), on Friday said it had placed South Africa on its “grey list” for increased monitoring over deficiencies in combating “money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing.”…South Africa’s state sector was devastated by corruption under former president Jacob Zuma, which Ramaphosa vowed to clean up when he took office five years ago. The radical leftist opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), reacted strongly to the grey listing, lashing Ramaphosa as “a criminal who is leading a criminal state”. Ramaphosa is “part of the reasons why South Africa has been grey listed,” it said on Friday. AFP

UN Suspends Flights in East Congo After Helicopter Fired On
A United Nations helicopter came under heavy fire in eastern Congo, bringing the organization to suspend flights in the conflict-riddled region, the U.N. said Monday. A helicopter returning from Walikale to the regional capital, Goma in North Kivu province, came under attack for 10 minutes last week but was able to land safely in Goma with all three crew and 10 passengers unharmed, said a statement by the U.N.’s World Food Program. Flights have been suspended on specific routes in the region until the security situation can be reassessed, said the U.N. The helicopter delivers assistance to some of Congo’s most remote areas which would otherwise be inaccessible because of poor roads or insecurity. AP