Africa Media Review for February 8, 2023

Ghana: Authorities Brace Up as Sahel War Spills into Gulf of Guinea
Togo, Benin and Ivory Coast have already been struck by gunmen from across their northern borders –- most recently in Benin, whose government has reported more 20 armed incursions since 2021. Togo has suffered at least five attacks in that time, though not all were confirmed by jihadists. So far Ghana has escaped a direct attack, but it is already tackling the economic and social fallout from the conflict to its north. Like its neighbours, Ghana struggles with porous borders, a weaker state presence in the north, chronic smuggling and intercommunal tensions that can be a breeding ground for jihadism, say local leaders, officials and experts. Ghana’s government heeded the threat early, experts and officials say, opting for a comprehensive strategy of beefed-up military presence and community outreach to ease tensions and support local populations. A French troop withdrawal from Mali in the face of mounting hostility and disputes with the ruling junta has refocussed Western partners to aid Gulf of Guinea nations battle the war’s southward spillover. AfricaNews

African Leaders Express Condolences over Deadly Quake in Turkey
Leaders of African countries and continental bodies, on Monday, expressed their condolences and showed solidarity with Ankara after a strong earthquake hit southern Turkey and Syria, Anadolu News Agency reports. Some of those who expressed condolences included the presidents of Somalia, Senegal, Burundi and Gambia, among others. Continental bodies included the African Union, the East African Community and the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). “Africa stands in unwavering solidarity and sorrow with the government and people of #Turkey and #Syria following the devastating earthquake that led to the deaths of more than a thousand innocent people and wreaking terrible infrastructural damage,” Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, wrote in a brief statement on Twitter. Middle East Monitor

Sudan Seeks Lift of African Union’s Membership Suspension
Sudan has engaged in efforts with the African Union to end the suspension of its membership following the coup d’état that overthrew a civilian-led transitional government in October 2021. For the second time since the collapse of the al-Bashir regime, the Peace and Security Council of the African Union (PSC) has suspended Sudan’s participation in activities until the effective restoration of civilian authority, after a coup d’etat by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan on October 25, 2021. Despite the continuation of the military rule,  in November last year, the military-led Sovereign Council dispatched one of its members Ibrahim Jabir to tour the countries members of the PSC to plead the removal of sanctions on Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Mauritania: The Trial of Ex-President Aziz Can Continue
The historic trial of former Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz for illicit enrichment can continue, the court decided on Tuesday not to rule on challenges to its jurisdiction until the end of the proceedings. For days, the parties’ lawyers battled over the court’s jurisdiction, with the defense arguing that the criminal chamber could not try Mr. Aziz and his dozen co-defendants. The court finally decided that this question would be decided at the same time as that of the guilt or not of the defendants after the debates on the merits of the case noted an AFP correspondent. Mr. Aziz, who led this pivotal country between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa from 2008 to 2019, has been on trial since January 25 for having abused his power in order to amass an immense fortune, alongside two former prime ministers, former ministers and businessmen. AfricaNews with AFP

Tunisian President Dismisses Foreign Minister
Tunisian President Kais Saied dismissed Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi on Tuesday, replacing him with the former ambassador to the European Union and Belgium Nabil Ammar. The switch comes as Tunisia navigates the political uncertainty unleashed after Saied’s seizure of broad powers in 2021 and as it seeks foreign aid to ward off a looming crisis in its public finances…Jerandi was appointed foreign minister in 2020 and had previously served in the role from 2013-14. Saied replaced most government ministers in late 2021 after shutting down parliament, sacking the prime minister and moving to rule by decree, but at that time he kept Jerandi in place. Reuters

Deadly Protests Against Regional Force in DR Congo
Hundreds of demonstrators have taken to the streets for a second day in Goma, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. At least two people died on Monday following violent clashes between protesters and Congolese security forces. The demonstrators accuse the UN and the East African Regional Force of failing to support the Congolese military operations against the M23 rebel group. Fighting has intensified in the region in recent days with the group taking key towns in eastern DR Congo. Protesters have taken to the streets in several neighbourhoods of Goma, in North Kivu province, bringing the city to a standstill. BBC

Senegalese Civil Group Files Complaint over COVID Funds
A group of Senegalese organizations from the civil society and citizens filed 6th February a complaint with the Dakar court to ask the courts to take up the Covid-19 mismanagement case. The move by Sunu’y milliards du ress , our billions will not disappear collective follows the publication of a report by the Court of Auditors at the end of December which pinned the management of the Covid response funds in 2020-2021. The audit of the Court, Accounts of Senegal studied the expenditures made in 2020 and 2021 on the “Response Fund against the effects of Covid-19”. The budget amounted to more than 740 billion CFA francs (more than 1.1 billion euros), financed by donors and the state, according to this report published on the website of the audit institution attached to the Presidency. “The total amount of expenditures (made by various ministries and) not related to covid-19 amounts to 19,727,096,727 CFA francs” (about 30 million euros), the document revealed. Voice of Nigeria

Nigerian Special Rights Panel Begins Probe of Powerful Military 
A special panel named by Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) launched an investigation Tuesday into recent Reuters reports on rights abuses by the country’s army. Those familiar with the commission’s past work say it faces stiff challenges. The state-funded NHRC does its best to press officials to act in the interest of citizens whose rights have been violated, eight sources with knowledge of the commission said. But they said the NHRC, whose inquiry was supported by the government amid an international outcry, is hobbled by a lack of authority to compel military leaders and other officials to prosecute or punish anyone. None of these people, including rights lawyers and researchers, was aware of any major cases handled by the commission that had led to the prosecution of senior Nigerian officials – a lack of accountability underscored in United Nations and US State Department reports. The commission has secured financial restitution for some victims of abuse. Reuters

Ghana’s President Is Confident That Ghana’s Economic Situation Would Begin Changing by March
The debt exchange program is an invitation for the voluntary exchange of approximately GHS137 billion of the domestic notes and bonds of the Republic, including E.S.L.A. and Daakye bonds, for a package of New Bonds to be issued by the Republic. Ghana is hopeful that the current negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about the country’s requested $3 billion bailout will be completed by March. According to a recent report, the problems with Ghana’s domestic debt exchange program, one of the prerequisites for the IMF grant, have “essentially been resolved,” allowing the country’s negotiations with the IMF to move forward. Speaking with the visiting German Federal Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner, last Friday at the Jubilee House in Accra, the president of Ghana, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo made the reassurance that Ghana is very close to securing the $3 billion bailout loan has been requesting from the IMF since 2022. Business Insider Africa

Uganda Says It Will Not Renew Mandate of UN Human Rights Office
Uganda has said it will not renew the mandate of the United Nations’ human rights office in the East African country, citing the development of its own sufficient capacity to monitor rights compliance. In a letter by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Ministry sent to Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on February 3 and seen by Reuters on Wednesday, the ministry noted progress Uganda had made in developing a domestic capacity to monitor rights as the main reason for its decision…President Yoweri Museveni’s government has over the years been criticized by the opposition, human rights activists and Western countries for various rights violations including torture, illegal detentions and extrajudicial killings of opponents and critics. Officials have denied almost all of the accusations and said all security forces implicated in rights abuses have been duly punished. Reuters

Somali President Calls for Cease-Fire After Deadly Fighting
Somalia’s president has called for a cease-fire after clashes in a disputed town in the breakaway region of Somaliland left at least 13 people dead. Both sides accuse the other of starting the fighting; Somaliland insisted it was defending itself from aggression. “The reason for the confrontation is not due to animosity, but for political reasons,” Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Tuesday. “Therefore, we are sorry and not happy about what is happening there…Respect the interest of the people, lay down arms, and stop the fighting. Start negotiating.” Tensions have been building in Las Anod, the capital of the contested Sool region, since December. The region has been a point of conflict between Somaliland and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, both of which lay claim to the territory. Voice of America