Africa Media Review for February 6, 2024

Senegal Parliament Delays Election until December after Opposition Lawmakers Are Blocked from Voting
Senegal’s parliament voted Monday to delay the West African nation’s presidential election until Dec. 15 in a chaotic voting process that took place after opposition lawmakers were forcefully removed from the chambers as they debated President Macky Sall’s earlier decision to delay the crucial election. Security forces stormed the legislative building and forcefully removed several opposition lawmakers who were trying to block the voting process on the unprecedented delay of the presidential election initially scheduled for Feb. 25. The adopted bill extends Sall’s tenure — which was due to end on April 2 — until a new election. AP

Senegal Delays Election, Authorities Cut Mobile Internet, Revoke Walf TV’s License, Harass Journalists
On Sunday, Senegal’s Ministry of Communication, Telecommunications, and Digital Economy (MCTPEN) announced it had “temporarily” suspended access to mobile internet due to “hateful and subversive” messages on social media, without indicating the duration of the cutoff. Internet users began to notice disruption to their mobile connectivity on Monday, according to CPJ’s review of service in the country…Also on Sunday, Senegalese authorities permanently withdrew the broadcasting license of Walf TV, the television broadcast service of the privately owned media group Wal Fadjri and one of the country’s major broadcasters, according to CPJ’s review of access to the channel in the country and a copy of the MCTPEN’s decision…The same day, officers with Senegal’s gendarmerie in Dakar, the capital, harassed and briefly detained reporters. Committee to Protect Journalists

Sudan Experiences Widespread Internet Outage amidst War and Accusation
Since Friday evening, internet and communication networks have been disrupted across most of Sudan. The cause of the outage remains unclear, with accusations flying between the Sudanese government and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF, controlling areas where major infrastructure for Sudani and MTN-Sudan network operations reside, reportedly disrupted the network to protest the companies’ inaction on a communication issue affecting Darfur for months. An RSF official, however, denied responsibility for the outage, instead pointing the finger at the army. He linked the current shutdown to ongoing military operations…Independent internet monitors like NetBlocks and IODA have documented the disruption since Friday, February 2nd. Sudan Tribune

About 13 Children Die Each Day at a Camp in Sudan for Displaced People, Medical Charity MSF Says
Thirteen children are dying each day of severe malnutrition at the Zamzam camp in Sudan’s northern Darfur as a consequence of the 10-month war in their country, a medical charity said Monday…One child is dying every two hours in the camp, according to Claire Nicolet, head of emergency response in Sudan for Doctors without Borders, or MSF…MSF says that Zamzam, a camp of more than 300,000 people, was originally formed by people fleeing ethnically targeted violence in the region in 2003. However, since war broke out between Sudan’s military and paramilitary forces in April 2023, camp residents have been cut off from vital humanitarian aid and medical care, the group said in a statement. AP

South Sudan: UN Force Steps Up Patrols after Weekend of Bloodshed in Abyei
The UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) has heightened ground and aerial patrols to deter further violence, after brutal fighting in the oil-rich region claimed dozens of lives over the weekend. Heavily armed assailants attacked civilians…using rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, reportedly over a land dispute. At least 37 people are reported to have been killed and several others injured, including women and children…[UNISFA has] increased land and air patrols to deter further violence and protect civilians. According to UNISFA, peacekeepers serving with the mission were also targeted during the clashes. UN News

Nigeria: Abducted Ekiti Schoolchildren Freed, Driver Killed
The nine abducted Ekiti schoolchildren and their teachers [were] released by their captors on Sunday. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the children were released at about 2 a.m. on Sunday after spending six days in captivity. It was however learnt that of the nine persons kidnapped, only eight came back alive, as the driver of the school bus, Taye Rasaki, was reportedly killed in captivity…[Police Public Relations Officer in Ekiti, Sunday Abutu] did not, however, say whether the victims were rescued by the police and if the families paid ransom for their freedom as demanded by the kidnappers. Premium Times

Nigeria: Over 4,000 Killed in Recurrent Violence in Plateau since 1994
At least, 4,486 have been killed in the endless violence between different ethnic groups in Plateau State since 1994, according to PREMIUM TIMES’ findings. Last month, another round of violence in the Mangu Local Government Area (LGA) of the state claimed scores of lives and left many other people injured…The killings came after last year’s Christmas Eve coordinated attacks on some villages in Barkin Ladi and Bokkos LGAs where gun-wielding militiamen killed more than 100 locals…There were more than 15 instances of violence that led to the deaths and destruction of properties in Plateau State. PREMIUM TIMES analysed some of these incidents [excluding attacks by Boko Haram insurgents] from 1994 till date. In a series of violence that revolve around political, ethno-religious and resourced-based struggles, militia factions of the indigenous locals and Fulani herders have waged endless wars against each other, killing soft targets and wreaking havoc. Premium Times

AU Envoy to Somalia: Phase II of ATMIS Drawdown, Complete
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has successfully withdrawn troops from Somalia in the second phase, African Union Commission representative Souef Mohamed El-Amine has said…The two phases saw 5,000 soldiers leave the country, handing over security responsibilities to the Somali National Army (SNA). Several bases were closed down after the military installed civilian administration after the defeat of the Al-Shabaab militants. According to reports, the third phase of withdrawal will see about 4,000 soldiers leave the country and is expected to be completed by June 2024. The government of Somalia has insisted that it is ready to take security responsibilities from the foreign troops. Garowe Online

Kenya’s President Blames Corruption and Incompetence for Huge Fireball That Hurt Hundreds in Nairobi
Kenya’s president says corruption and officials’ incompetence allowed a liquid petroleum plant to operate in one of Nairobi’s most crowded residential neighborhoods, where its explosion and fire killed three people and injured more than 280 others…Although at the time of the fire the site was operating illegally, Ruto said some licenses had been issued for the gas plant to operate in a residential area…The depot in Nairobi’s Embakasi neighborhood had twice been demolished, and the owner had been found guilty of operating an illegal gas refilling business in May but continued to do business, officials said Friday. That raised suspicions — in a country where corruption is endemic — that bribes were paid to ignore the operation. AP

Kenya’s Leader Wants a Paved Road to Cut through a Forest, a Key Water Source. Scientists Don’t
The Kenyan government wants to build a 32-mile tarmac road through what has been suggested as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to connect two counties, and the country’s environmental agency, the National Environment Management Authority, issued an environmental impact assessment license for the project last month…Those in favor of the project, including Kenyan President William Ruto, say it carries economic benefit…[T]he Aberdare Range provides most of the water used in the capital, Nairobi, and also supplies water to the Seven Forks hydroelectric power stations, key generators of electricity in the country…The forest reserve also…has some of the fewer than 100 remaining critically endangered mountain bongos in the world, alongside rhinos, elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and others. AP

Namibia Interim President Says No Plan to Run in This Year’s Election
Namibia’s Nangolo Mbumba, who took over as interim president of the southern African country on Sunday after Hage Geingob died in office, said he had no plans to run in elections due at the end of the year. That means Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, who replaces Mbumba as vice president and was nominated by the governing South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) just over a year ago to be its candidate, will remain on the ballot. If she wins, she will be the southern African nation’s first female president…SWAPO’s constitution forbids making changes once the candidate has been picked two years before the poll is due. Reuters

Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party Gets Two-Thirds Majority in Parliament
Zimbabwe’s ruling party has achieved a two-thirds majority in Parliament according to by-election results released by the country’s elections commission over the weekend. That paves the way for the ZANU-PF party to amend the constitution as it wishes — including removal of the two-term limit for the presidency — but creates dread for opposition parties. ZANU-PF now holds 190 out of 280 seats in the National Assembly after winning six seats over the weekend, according to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission figures…Zimbabwe’s next general election is slated for 2028. That’s when Mnangagwa’s second and final term will end – unless ZANU-PF changes the constitution. VOA

Blinken to Meet Egypt’s Sisi on Gaza Hostage Deal
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday landed in Cairo for his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as the United States works to advance a Gaza truce and hostage deal mediated by the Egyptians and Qataris. The top U.S. diplomat departed Riyadh shortly after sunrise for what is set to be a marathon day visiting Egypt and Qatar before flying to Israel to discuss hostage negotiations, post-war Gaza plans and the prospect of Arab countries and Israel normalizing ties. Reuters

Burkina Faso Becomes 2nd African Country to Include Malaria Vaccine in Immunization Program
On February 5th, Burkina Faso became the second country in the African Region to integrate the malaria vaccine into its routine immunization schedule. The country has officially introduced the RTS,S malaria vaccine into its expanded vaccination programme across 27 health districts…Burkina Faso is one of worst-hit places in the world. In 2021, almost 12.5 million cases of the disease were recorded across the country, equating to an incidence rate of 569 cases per 1,000 population…Cameroon started the world’s first malaria vaccine program for children on January 22nd. Africanews