Africa Media Review for February 6, 2023

Mali Expels U.N. Mission’s Human Rights Chief
The Malian interim government on Sunday said the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission’s human rights division had 48 hours to leave the country as he had been declared persona non grata. In a statement, it said the decision to expel Guillaume Ngefa-Atondoko Andali was connected to his allegedly biased choice of civil society witnesses for U.N. Security Council briefings on Mali, the most recent of which was held on Jan. 27…The Malian authorities have come under pressure for alleged human rights violations and abuses reportedly perpetrated by Malian armed forces in partnership with the Russian private military contractor Wagner Group in Mali. On Jan. 31, U.N. experts called for an independent investigation into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity by both these forces. Reuters

Pope Francis visits South Sudan displaced persons camp
While the pope, in a conference hall, talked about the miseries and injustice of losing one’s home, many of the people five miles away in Juba IDP Camp 3, as the site is known, didn’t have the means to watch. Even in one of the world’s poorest countries, then, there was still room for a profound contrast on Saturday: between a well-planned papal event, words scripted in advance, and the ugliness of a sometimes-violent place where people see their lives permanently disrupted. “Me, I’m waiting for the pope to come here,” said Elizabeth Njadien Riek, at the camp where she has spent a decade. Washington Post

Ethiopia PM Abiy, TPLF Leaders in First Face-to-Face Meeting
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Friday met with Tigray leaders to discuss on the implementation of the peace agreement signed last November in South Africa, according to state media outlets. This is the first time for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders to hold face-to-face meeting with the Ethiopian leader since conflict between Tigray and Ethiopia federal and allied forces broke out in November 2020…Accordingly, the Prime Minister and the Tigray leaders representing the regional Peace Agreement Implementation Coordination Committee evaluated the implementation of both Pretoria and Nairobi peace agreements and set directions on the outstanding issues that need further attention to ensure durable peace. Daily Monitor

Ethiopian Government Announces Sending Money to Tigray
The Ethiopian government announced on Saturday that it had begun sending the equivalent of about $90 million to the Tigrayan capital to restart banking services in the war-torn region.
“In line with the decision taken by Prime Minister Abiy, the National Bank has started sending five billion birr to Mekele for distribution from Monday,” tweeted Redwan Hussein, Abiy Ahmed’s National Security Advisor. He added that from Saturday, the national airline Ethiopian Airlines would increase the number of flights to the region from three to five per day. Last Friday, the Prime Minister met for the first time with Tigrayan leaders since a peace agreement was signed in November after a bloody conflict between the federal government and rebels in the northern Ethiopian region. Meda Africa Times

Millions Vote in Ethiopia Referendum for New Region
Millions of voters in southern Ethiopia are casting their ballots on Monday in a referendum to establish a new regional state. This is the third such referendum – all in the country’s south – held in the past four years. Previous votes saw the formation of Sidama and South-Western Ethiopia regions. More than three million people are registered to vote in this election – which will be held in six sub-regional administrative units (zones) and five districts that have been part of the Southern Ethiopian Nations, Nationalities and People’s (SNNP) region. The new region is to be called Southern Ethiopia region, if it gets a yes vote. BBC

Atmis Troops Demand Pay Arrears as Somalia Mission Nears End
Questions of accountability are starting to emerge as different cohorts of Uganda’s military deployed for peacekeeping operations in Somalia have gone for 27 months, spread across five years, without pay, despite the European Union – the mission’s biggest funder – regularly disbursing funds to cover allowances for at least 5,000 peacekeepers serving in the war-torn country. The latest cohort, who returned from Somalia on December 31, 2022, did not receive any payment for all the 12 months they spent in the Horn of Africa country, while the one it replaced in November 2021 was also not paid for nine months. East African

Kenyan Court Sentences Police Officer to Death for Triple Murder
A police officer, Fredrick Leliman, who was among those convicted of killing Nairobi lawyer Willie Kimani, his client Josephat Mwenda and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, has been sentenced to death by a Nairobi court. In the judgment delivered on Friday, three other accused, Stephen Cheburet, Sylvia Wanjiku and Peter Ngugi, will serve 30, 24, and 20 years in prison, respectively. In Kenya, death sentences are usually commuted to life in prison, according to a ruling by the country’s supreme court…The killings caused uproar in Kenya where cases of extrajudicial killings are rife, with some organisations reporting 127 cases of police killings and 25 enforced disappearances in 2022 alone. Benson Shamala, country director of the International Justice Mission, where Kimani worked, told the BBC. “No one should experience what these three went through, especially from the same people mandated to protect them.” Guardian

UN Peacekeeper Killed in Congo After Regional Leaders Meet
A United Nations peacekeeper died and another was seriously wounded after their helicopter was shot at in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, a day after East African Community leaders met to steady a flailing peace process…Six heads of state from the EAC, including the presidents of Congo and Rwanda, met in Bujumbura, Burundi, on Feb. 4 to recommit to a political solution to the multiple conflicts and to call on armed groups to lay down their weapons. In a communique posted on Twitter, the regional bloc urged Congo to allow troops from Uganda and South Sudan to join the EAC force already on the ground. Bloomberg

Expensive Skies: EAC Cited for High Levies at Its Airports
South Sudan’s Juba International Airport has the heaviest costs for travellers and transporters, showing just how pricing can be a barrier to movement in the East African region. A study on air transport ranks the Juba airport as the fourth most expensive in Africa in terms of passenger charges, just below Niamey, Monrovia and Bissau airports…EABC chief executive John Kalisa attributes the costs to the lack of well-developed infrastructure and qualified personnel to control the airspace…The air transport regulatory environment in EAC has [also] contributed to the expensive skies in the region. East African

Liberian President Weah Accepts Nomination for Second-Term
Liberia President George Weah accepted his party’s nomination to stand for a second term in office.  Weah, 56, promised to continue programs targeting economic growth and low inflation if he wins the election in October. Weah, a former AC Milan football star, won a landslide victory in the 2017 presidential election. It was the first peaceful transfer of power between democratically elected heads of state in Liberia in decades…He has promised not to seek a third-term in office. Bloomberg

Nigeria Asks Social Media Giants to Curb Fake News Ahead of Election
Nigeria has asked Google (GOOGL.O) and Meta (META.O) to control the spread of fake news on their platforms ahead of a presidential election this month, Information Minister Lai Mohammed said on Friday. Nigerians go to the polls on Feb. 25 to elect a new president, with three frontrunners promising to deal with the rising cost of living, insecurity and a slow-growing economy. Mohammed said he met with Meta and Google representatives in Abuja on Friday and requested that they make posts from official channels visible on their platforms, and flag as unverified election results originating from unofficial sources. Reuters

More than 40 Killed in Nigeria as Gunmen and Vigilantes Clash
More than 40 people have been killed in clashes between gunmen and vigilantes in Nigeria’s northern Katsina state, the latest violence ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections. Katsina state police spokesperson Gambo Isah said on Friday that an armed gang, known locally as bandits, attacked a village in Katsina’s Bakori local government area and had rustled cattle and sheep before fleeing into the bush…Lack of security has become widespread and is a key concern for voters ahead of the February 25 election to choose new members of parliament and a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler who came to power eight years ago promising to end insecurity. Al Jazeera

Egypt’s Intelligence Chief Discussed Wagner’s Presence in Sudan Last January: Report
Egypt’s intelligence chief Abbas Kamel discussed with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan earlier last January ways to end the activities of the Russian Wagner group in Sudan, according to The Associated Press. On January 2, the Egyptian envoy met with the head of the military-led Sovereign Council to discuss the political process in Sudan. Sources close to the meeting at the time told Sudan Tribune that the meeting discussed the situation on the Central African Republic without further details. In a report about U.S. recent moves to curb Wagner’s activities in Sudan and Libya, The Associated Press said that Kamel convoyed Washington’s concerns in his meeting with al-Burhan about the Russian presence in his country. Sudan Tribune

South Africa: Ramaphosa Asks Deputy to Delay Resignation
Mr Mabuza is reported to have told a funeral gathering on Saturday that the president had “accepted” his resignation and that an announcement on his departure was coming. He said he believed it was logical for him to give way to Paul Mashatile, who was elected in December as the ruling ANC party’s deputy president. But the presidency spokesman on Sunday said the president wanted Mr Mabuza to remain until the transition process was finalised. Mr Mashatile is due to be sworn in as an MP on Monday. His entry to parliament will pave the way for the president to name him as the country’s deputy president. Mr Ramaphosa is due to deliver his state of the nation address in Cape Town on Thursday. BBC