Africa Media Review for February 7, 2024

West African Bloc Asks Senegal to Reverse the Presidential Election Delay That’s Caused an Uproar
Authorities in Senegal should hold the presidential election this month as scheduled instead of delaying it by 10 months, West Africa’s regional bloc said Tuesday, as the United Nations human rights office expressed concern about the unprecedented decision in one of Africa’s most stable democracies…The West Africa bloc known as ECOWAS, which has struggled to contain a surge in coups in the region, encouraged the political class “to take steps urgently to restore the electoral calendar in accordance with the provisions of Senegal’s Constitution.” AP

Blasts in Somalia’s Capital Mogadishu Kill at Least 10 – Residents
Several blasts at a popular open-air market in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu killed at least 10 people and left many others injured on Tuesday, local residents told Reuters…It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blasts but Islamist group al Shabaab frequently carries out bombings in Somalia and elsewhere…Bakara, Mogadishu’s largest market, teems with traders and is where most residents buy their food, clothes, medicine, electronics and other items daily…Al Shabaab has been battling Somalia’s federal government and an African Union (AU)-mandated peace keeping force for years seeking to establish a new government based on its own interpretation of sharia law. Reuters

Ethiopia’s Leader Plays Down Fears of Conflict with Somalia over a Planned Naval Port
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has played down fears of a war with Somalia over his quest for sea access for his landlocked country, saying Tuesday that Ethiopia is only interested in peace with its neighbor. Ethiopia signed a memorandum of understanding with the breakaway region of Somaliland on Jan. 1. The document has not been made public, but Somaliland says Ethiopia agreed to recognize its independence in return for a naval port. The deal has rattled Somalia, which asserts that Somaliland is part of Somalia. Somalia’s president has suggested he is ready to go to war with Ethiopia to prevent it from building a port there. AP

UN Says War-Torn Sudan Must Not Be Forgotten, Calls for Aid Funding
The United Nations on Wednesday urged countries not to forget the civilians caught up in the war in Sudan, appealing for $4.1 billion to meet their humanitarian needs, as well as support those who have fled to neighbouring countries…In its joint appeal with the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) launched on Wednesday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called for $2.7 billion in funding to provide humanitarian aid for 14.7 million people. “Sudan keeps getting forgotten by the international community,” U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths told diplomats at the United Nations in Geneva…OCHA’s appeal last year to provide aid to civilians in Sudan was less than half funded. Reuters

Youth-Led ‘Emergency Rooms’ Shine Rays of Hope in War-Torn Sudan
With the war in Sudan triggering widespread violence and instability, youth-driven emergency response rooms (ERRs) are among a growing number of community-led initiatives reaching vulnerable civilians with myriad assistance, from repairing damaged power lines to carving out safe evacuation routes for millions fleeing the conflict. Teams of volunteer medical staff, engineers and other emergency experts across the country are addressing civilian needs amid the current bout of violence and insecurity stemming from clashes with rival military forces in April 2023. So far, ERRs have reached more than four million civilians, bucking bureaucracy and finding innovative solutions…Operating in states across the country, ERRs function like a “local emergency government”. UN News

Burkina Faso Outcry over ‘Conscription Used to Punish Junta Critics’
In what was widely seen as punishment for his strident criticism of Burkina Faso’s military rulers, anaesthetist Arouna Louré was forced to go to the front lines of the battle against jihadists wreaking havoc in the West African state…He is one of many men who have been forced to join the so-called Volunteers for the Defence of the Homeland (VDP). Envisaged to be made up of 50,000 recruits, it was set up by Captain Ibrahim Traore’s junta to bolster the army’s efforts to regain territory from jihadists who, according to the US Department of Defense’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, have “moved to encircle Ouagadougou leaving a trail of unprecedented violence in their wake”…Human Rights Watch (HRW)…and other rights groups say that Dr Louré’s case is not isolated – at least a dozen activists, journalists and opposition leaders have been conscripted. BBC

Nigeria’s Security Chiefs to Appear before Lawmakers Wednesday
Nigeria’s security chiefs will appear before senators on Wednesday to discuss the worsening insecurity across Nigeria. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Adetokunbo Abiru, disclosed this on Tuesday. Mr Abiru said the service chiefs will appear before the Senate on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the possible solutions to the security challenges facing the country. Those expected to appear include the heads of the army, navy, air force and the police. Last Tuesday, the Senate summoned service chiefs to appear before the lawmakers over the rising case of insecurity in the country. Premium Times

Landmine Deaths Resurge In Northeast Nigeria Amid Insurgents’ Mass Surrender Claims
Northeast Nigeria has been plagued by the scourge of IEDs for years…[O]n Jan. 29, another blast on the Pulka/Firgi road in Gwoza Local Government Area claimed the lives of thirteen individuals, further highlighting the deadly tactics insurgents use to instil fear and disrupt communities. These incidents are stark reminders of the fragile security situation in the region, where armed groups such as Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) continue to pose a significant threat despite military efforts to control their activities…Civilians, particularly children, have become the inadvertent victims of a conflict that shows little sign of abating. HumAngle

Macron Names Bockel Envoy to African Countries That Have French Military Bases
According to a letter obtained by RFI, Jean-Marie Bockel’s mission will be to support Senegal, Côté d’Ivoire, Gabon and Chad as part of the evolution of the French military presence in these countries. These are the last remaining African countries where French still has a military presence…According to the letter of appointment, Bockel is tasked with “changing the status, format and tasks of French bases in Africa.” Bockel is known for announcing the end of ‘Françafrique’ in 2008, a term used by historians to describe the relationship between Paris and its former colonies on the continent. The annoucement cost him his position as minister for cooperation under Sarkozy. RFI

South Africa Opposition Leaders Disrupted the President’s Speech Last Year. They’re Barred This Time
A South African court on Tuesday upheld a ban on leaders of a boisterous opposition party from attending a speech this week by President Cyril Ramaphosa opening the new parliamentary session after they were sanctioned for disrupting the event a year ago. The leader, deputy leader and four other officials with the Economic Freedom Fighters — the third biggest party in Parliament — will not be allowed at Thursday’s State of the Nation Address…They were among a group of EFF members ordered out of the room by the speaker for interrupting Ramaphosa’s 2023 speech. But instead of leaving, the group, led by EFF president Julius Malema, jumped onto the stage and held up signs calling for Ramaphosa to step down before security forced them out. AP

Kenya Plans to Bypass Court Order in Haiti Deployment
Kenya’s government will not await a court of appeal ruling before deploying its forces to Haiti, a senior government official said, further underscoring the government’s determination to move ahead with the proposed multinational force aimed at bringing stability to the gang-ravaged Caribbean nation. Abraham Korir Sing’Oei, the principal secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The New York Times in an interview that Kenya and Haiti were working to finalize a bilateral agreement in the next two weeks and that, once in place, Kenyan forces would immediately deploy. [Kenya’s] High Court blocked the deployment of 1,000 police officers, saying it could go ahead only if there was a “reciprocal arrangement” detailing the framework under which Kenyan forces can operate in Haiti.  The New York Times

Kenya, Poland Sign Deals on Agriculture and Taxes
Kenya has signed two bilateral agreements with Poland aimed at boosting relations between the two countries. The signing of the agreements on agricultural cooperation and tax solidarity at state house in Nairobi on Monday was witnessed by President William Ruto and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda…Later in the day, the two presidents participated in the Kenya-Poland business and economic forum, which realised the endorsement of various instruments of collaboration…Polish technology on the use of virtual reality to support smart welding operations critical in industrial development and the deployment of drone technology to monitor Kenya’s vast wildlife conservation parks was also showcased.  Nation

Zimbabwe Cabinet Scraps Colonial-Era Death Penalty Law
Zimbabwe’s cabinet on Tuesday agreed to abolish the death penalty following months of debate in parliament, choosing instead to impose lengthy prison sentences for the worst offences. The cabinet passed a private member’s bill introduced last year in the National Assembly to abolish the death penalty inherited from British colonial rule…Zimbabwe carried out its last execution in 2005. President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was once put on the death row during the struggle for independence against British rule, has been pushing to end the death penalty. Reuters

Côte d’Ivoire: Playing Soccer in Abidjan? Get Yourself a Pair of Lêkê.
While the best African teams run out in expensive branded cleats at this year’s continental soccer championship, the Africa Cup of Nations, it is in lêkê (pronounced leh-keh) that amateur players craft the best street soccer. They praise the cheaper sandals for their practicality…in games that take place not on manicured grass fields in shiny new stadiums but on countless sandy pitches, dusty courtyards and narrow alleyways…Most players said they had been wearing them since they were toddlers…The French company that now owns the patent, Humeau-Beaupreau, sells 800,000 pairs a year, according to a representative of the company. But the bulk of the lêkê seen across West Africa are manufactured locally; in Ivory Coast, one can buy a pair on almost every street corner for about $1.50. The New York Times