Africa Media Review for February 3, 2023

South Sudan: The World’s Newest Country Is Broken and Forgotten. Enter Pope Francis.
The new country was cheered on in 2011 by the American diplomats who had midwifed its delivery and the Hollywood celebrities who championed its cause. Billions of dollars poured into an ambitious state-building project that offered a fresh start to a people weary after decades of war. “Freedom!” they cried. But to the people in South Sudan, that now feels like a very long time ago. Engulfed by civil war, famine and now floods, the world’s youngest country has been plagued by schisms and thwarted by leaders who pocketed its considerable oil wealth. No Western leader has ever made a public visit, leaving many South Sudanese feeling forgotten. But not by Pope Francis. He is scheduled to land in the capital, Juba, on Friday, after visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo — an African tour intended to shine a light on some of the continent’s most troubled yet ignored countries. New York Times

Embassies Warn of New Violence in South Sudan Ahead of Pope Visit
The embassies of Britain, Norway, and the United States have expressed grave concerns about possible new fighting in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State. The warning by the so-called Troika Embassies comes just days ahead of Pope Francis’ first visit to South Sudan on Friday for what the Vatican is calling a pilgrimage of peace. Serious security alarms have been sounded barely 24 hours before Pope Francis arrives in South Sudan’s capital for what is seen as an attempt by Vatican to find a lasting peace in the war-torn nation. Already, foreign embassies have sent out warnings of a possible outbreak of war in parts of the country. Voice of America

Sudan and Israel Discuss Establishing ‘Fruitful Relations’
Sudan and Israel have intensified talks to establish ties in what could be an expanding diplomatic victory for the Jewish state in the Arab world. On Thursday, Lt-Gen Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan the leader of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, hosted Israeli Foreign Minister Elie Cohen in Khartoum where they discussed enhancing the prospects for joint cooperation, especially in the security and military fields…In late 2020, Israel and Sudan announced the normalisation of relations between them, after then US President Donald Trump pledged to remove Sudan from the list of what Washington considers “state sponsors of terrorism” and provide aid to Khartoum. However, Sudan has not yet officially signed the agreement. East African

U.S. Summons Sudanese Ambassador to Protest Release of USAID Employees’ Killer
The United States summoned the Sudanese ambassador to protest the release of Abdel-Ra’uf Abuzaid an Islamist militant who killed USAID employees on January 2008. The Supreme Court in Khartoum ordered the release of a Sudanese who killed a US diplomat John Granville and a Sudanese worker Abdel Rahman Abbas. His release on January 30 took place after a letter to the head of the Sovereign Council and chief justice to announce that he would stage a hunger strike to protest psychological abuse, neglect and humiliation in prison…Abuzaid’s family told Sudan Tribune that the judges decided on his release after consulting the foreign ministry which approved the step saying that Sudan paid compensation to Granville’s family within the framework of the 2020 deal that led to removing Sudan from the U.S. terror blacklist. Sudan Tribune

Spanish and Moroccan Leaders Meet to Repair Ties
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez was in Rabat on Thursday to hold high-level talks with the Moroccan government as the two try to patch up a spat over the fate of Western Sahara. Sanchez, who was joined by several ministers, met with his Moroccan counterpart Aziz Akhannouch for the first “high-level meeting” since 2015. The visit comes following a breakdown in relations between the two after Spain allowed the leader of a pro-independence group from Western Sahara to receive hospital treatment in the city of Logrono in 2021. But Madrid’s subsequent support for Morocco’s claims over the contested region has led to criticism from Sanchez’s left-wing coalition partner that it has caved to pressure from Rabat. DW

Regional Heads Plan Joint Push Against Al-Shabab in Somalia
The leaders of Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya have agreed on a joint “search and destroy” military campaign against the Somali al-Shabab Islamic militant group that has carried out attacks in the region — including firing mortars near the meeting venue in Mogadishu before officials gathered Wednesday. In a joint communique issued after the meeting in Somalia’s capital, the four heads of state said the operation would “prevent any future infiltrating elements into the wider region.” “The Summit agreed to make the final push for joint operations in the areas that remain under the terrorists to completely liberate the whole of Somalia from Al-Shabab,” read Wednesday’s communique from the four countries — whose soldiers are part of the Africa Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia. AP

Inside Villa Somalia: 72 Hours with the President Promising to Rebuild His Broken Country
Being president of Somalia – a country whose name is still used widely, if slightly misleadingly, as shorthand for “failed state” – could seem a uniquely thankless job. Mohamud has the unique distinction of having done it twice. His first government, between 2012 and 2017, was the country’s first elected, non-interim administration since 1991, the year Somalia’s long-ruling military dictator, Mohamed Siad Barre, was overthrown in a coup. Almost immediately after his election Mohamud survived an assassination attempt at a hotel where he was meeting Kenya’s foreign minister. On another occasion, terrorists belonging to al-Shabaab, al-Qaida’s richest and most lethal affiliate, which controls much of the country, blew up a car at the gates of Villa Somalia. One of the fighters got to within 100 metres of the president before being shot dead. Guardian

Russian Forces Help Secure Central Africa Gold Zone in New Pact
Three nations have agreed with the help of Russian troops to secure a gold-rich region in the Central African Republic rife with armed rebel groups, the latest sign of Moscow’s expanding influence on the continent. A deal struck last month between the CAR, Chad and Sudan aims to fight armed groups operating along the mineral-rich borders with the two neighboring states, Hassan Bouba, a powerful ex-rebel leader who now serves as CAR’s livestock minister, said in a phone interview. During a trip to Chad on Sunday, Sudanese General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan said both countries agreed to “achieve security and stability” in CAR. Bloomberg

Russian Envoy Says 1,890 Russian ‘Instructors’ in Central African Republic – RIA
The Russian ambassador to the Central African Republic said in an interview published on Friday that 1,890 “Russian instructors” were present in the country, a focus of operations for the Kremlin-linked Wagner Group mercenary outfit…The Wagner Group, founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, has become a major player in the Central African Republic, largely displacing former colonial power France. The mineral-rich Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world. Wagner initially intervened on the side of the government to quell a civil war which has raged since 2012. Wagner, which is deeply involved in the Ukraine war having recruited extensively in Russia’s penal system, has previously deployed to Syria, Libya and Mali, among other countries. Reuters

‘A New Level’: Reports Link Russian Mercenaries Wagner to Massacre of Civilians
Mercenaries from Wagner, a private military company with close links to the Russian government, may have committed significant war crimes in Mali, according to UN experts.  International rights groups and observers have frequently accused Wagner of human rights violations and the wanton targeting of civilians in Libya, Mozambique, Central African Republic and other African nations. In March 2022, the company was accused of conducting massacres in Mali after arriving at the behest of the Malian government in 2021…The warning came as the Kremlin-affiliated company comes under increased scrutiny by the US, which recently designated the group as a transnational crime organisation. Meanwhile, legal proceedings on behalf of its alleged victims in Ukraine and Africa have begun in civil court in the UK. VICE

Cameroon: Suspected Killers of Martinez Zogo Arrested
In the communiqué signed on 2 February by Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh highlighted  that several people suspected of having participated in the “heinous” murder of Martinez Zogo have been arrested. “The hearings underway and the legal proceedings that will follow will make it possible to delimit the degree of involvement of some and others and to establish the identity of all those involved in one way or another in the assassination of Martinez Zogo,” wrote the SGPR. Regarding this case, we recall that the gendarmerie opened an investigation last week, in collaboration with the General Delegation of National Security (DGSN), and “on very high instructions of the President of the Republic,” as we read in a letter sent by Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh to Galax Etoga, Secretary of State for Defence, in charge of the gendarmerie. It is therefore this commission that is at work. Its investigations are ongoing to find other suspects, as indicated by the SGPR. This will undoubtedly lead to further arrests. Journal du Cameroon

Nigeria’s Electoral Commission Faces Growing Insecurity Ahead of February 25 Polls
Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission says an attack Wednesday on its offices in southeast Anambra state destroyed hundreds of ballot boxes and other election materials. Authorities say armed men also attacked a police station in the area and killed a teenager. It’s the latest attempt to disrupt Nigeria’s preparations for February 25 elections. The Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, said Thursday it is making plans to replace some 700 ballot boxes, 243 voting cubicles, and 256 election bags destroyed by attackers. The election commission said the damage was serious, but the permanent voter cards kept in a fireproof cabinet were spared. Voice of America

Descendants of Namibia’s Genocide Victims Call on Germany to ‘Stop Hiding’
Descendants of victims of genocide in Namibia have called on Germany to “stop hiding” and discuss reparations with them directly, as they take their own government to court for making a deal without their approval. The Herero and Nama people have gone to Namibia’s high court, rejecting an apology made in 2021 after years of talks between Namibia and Germany, which they say falls short of atoning for the 1904 to 1908 genocide, the first of the 20th century. “We were not involved at any stage. The government set the agenda, it discussed what it discussed and never disclosed it until we saw a joint declaration last year,” said Prof Mutjinde Ktjiua, chief of the Herero. Guardian

Boost for Africa Cash Repatriation as New Pacts Eliminate Double Taxation
Favourable new tax treaties among African states are tipped to spur investment across the continent as governments move to eliminate burdensome tax barriers. Trends show that non-double taxation agreements or DTAs could become more commonplace in Africa as AfCFTA, the ambitious single market for goods and services, begins to take shape…Intra-African treaties are a departure from past trends where tax treaties were chiefly between African states and former colonial powers and Nordic countries while neglecting their peers. The Tax Justice Network-Africa (TJN-A) notes that South Africa, Mauritius and Tunisia were the only significant African treaty partners for African countries during the last two decades. A 2013 tax treaty between Mauritius and South Africa, which entered into force in 2015, was one of the continent’s most high-profile intra-African treaties and at the time represented a new eagerness for intra-African-trade. Bird Story Agency

Ivory Coast Gives Cocoa Farmers Electronic Cards to Track Beans, Ensure Fair Price
Ivory Coast’s cocoa regulator on Thursday started distributing electronic cards to cocoa farmers to help track beans from plantations to their export ports and ensure the growers are paid a guaranteed price for their produce. The countrywide exercise is part of a response to plans by the European Union to ban imports of commodities and products linked to deforestation and rights abuses by 2024. Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer has been criticised over the years for using thousands of child labourers in farms, and destroying large areas of forests and national parks to expand production…The new card system, which will start operating at the start of the next cocoa season on Oct.1, will enable the CCC to reject beans grown illegally and trace them from plantations to the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro. Reuters