Africa Media Review for February 8, 2024

Making Sense of Senegal’s Constitutional Crisis
President Macky Sall’s pronouncement that he was abrogating the decree setting Senegal’s presidential elections for February 25 has thrown the country into a constitutional crisis that is testing the strength of Senegal’s institutions and the balance of powers between them…Sall’s actions have triggered a constitutional crisis in Senegal that falsely pits the legislative and judicial branches of government against each other…The extent of the crisis is significant in the arc of Senegalese history. Senegal has never postponed elections before, and there have been multiple peaceful transitions from one president to another starting in 1981 and from one party to another (2000, 2012). Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Group of Senegal Opposition Leaders Unite to Fight Election Delay
Amid deep uncertainty about what happens next, at least 12 of the 20 presidential candidates cleared to run in the February vote have agreed to put political differences aside to fight the delay, [candidate Anta] Babacar said, adding that both legal challenges and mass protests were on the table…”Right now, we are preparing, we are cooking. So, let nobody get fooled by this peace in the streets,” Babacar said. Protracted legal battles are already in the offing. Several opposition figures have launched legal challenges via the constitutional council. Babacar said she would file her own challenge directly to the Supreme Court on Thursday. Reuters

Senegal Vote Delay Not ‘Legitimate’, Says US
The vote to delay Senegal’s presidential election until December “cannot be considered legitimate”, the US state department said, after the move plunged the normally stable West African nation into its worst crisis in decades. The reaction is the most critical to date from one of Senegal’s major international allies…”We are particularly alarmed by reports of security forces removing by force parliamentarians who opposed a bill to delay the election, resulting in a National Assembly vote that cannot be considered legitimate given the conditions under which it took place,” [Matthew Miller, a US state department spokesman, said in a statement published Tuesday.] AFP

Mali Says It Will Not Respect ECOWAS Treaty’s Withdrawal Notice Period
Mali said on Wednesday that it would not wait a year to leave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as is required by the bloc’s treaty. Mali and its neighbours Niger and Burkina Faso, all run by military juntas, announced last month that they were immediately leaving ECOWAS, West Africa’s main political and economic bloc, reversing decades of regional integration. All three formally notified the ECOWAS Commission of their decisions to leave the bloc in written notices dated Jan. 29, which according to the treaty means that they would still be bound by membership until one year from that date. Reuters

Residents Scatter as They Fear Congo Rebel Group Will Again Seize Key Eastern City of Goma
One of eastern Congo’s most active rebel groups is attacking a community considered the last line of defense before the region’s largest city of Goma, fleeing residents said Wednesday, even as the rebels claimed they had no intention to seize it again…The group rose to prominence a decade ago by seizing Goma, an important base for Congolese forces and for humanitarian workers. The M23, with alleged ties to Rwanda, detonated explosives in North Kivu’s Sake city 27 kilometers (16 miles) from Goma, residents said…Locals say the deadly unrest has worsened in recent weeks. Several armed groups have intensified attacks on civilians and tried to seize more territory as the United Nations and regional peacekeepers begin to withdraw at the government’s request. Peacekeepers have been accused of failing to stop attacks on civilians. AP

Digital Money Apps Become a Lifeline for War-Affected Sudanese
Financial technology (fintech) allows people with a mobile phone and internet connection to more safely buy basic groceries, settle bills, and receive money from abroad – easing some of the hardships. These apps have been available for over a decade in Sudan, with nearly all public sector workers paid digitally. But they are now more than just a convenience. People transact as much as they can online to avoid navigating embattled neighbourhoods or the risk of carrying physical currency, and to cope with the reduced operating hours of the few bank branches that manage to remain open. The New Humanitarian

Twenty Seven Migrants Missing after Boat Sinks off Tunisia, 13 Dead
The bodies of 13 Sudanese migrants have been recovered and 27 others are missing after a boat sunk on Wednesday off the coast of Tunisia after setting off from Sfax, a Tunisian judicial official told Reuters on Thursday. The boat contained 42 people, all of them Sudanese, and two people were rescued, the official added. Reuters

Spain and EU to Sign Migration Deal with Mauritania as People-Smuggling Rises
The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, have flown to Mauritania to sign a series of deals on migration and energy, as data reveals there has been a surge in people-smuggling operations to the Canary Islands. Figures soon to be published by Frontex, the EU’s border agency, are expected to show that the number of people risking their lives by making the perilous journey from west African shores to the Spanish islands has risen dramatically in the past year. The EU leaders will meet Mauritania’s president, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani, on Thursday morning. The Guardian

Council of Europe Calls on UK Not to Process Asylum Claims in Rwanda
In a report published on Thursday, the Council of Europe’s committee for the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment raises a litany of concerns after an 11-day visit to the UK in March and April last year. The report warns that the UK’s Illegal Migration Act, which allows asylum claims to be determined in Rwanda rather than in the UK, and the migration and economic development partnership between UK and Rwanda “raise multiple concerns over the treatment of vulnerable persons” and warns that they may be subject to torture or inhuman, degrading treatment if they are sent to Rwanda…The European court of human rights relies on the committee’s findings when ruling on relevant cases. The Guardian

Ethiopia Intelligence Head Temesgen Approved as Deputy Prime Minister
Ethiopia’s parliament on Thursday approved the appointment of intelligence service chief Temesgen Tiruneh as deputy prime minister, replacing Demeke Mekonnen, who had served in the role for 11 years, state-run media reported…Temesgen, who has coordinated the government’s response to a conflict that broke out last year in the Amhara region, was elected in late January to succeed Demeke as a vice president of the ruling Prosperity Party…Abiy appointed Demeke as foreign minister days after civil war broke out in November 2020 in the northern Tigray region. The conflict lasted two years and killed tens of thousands of people. Reuters

Presidential Candidate of Ghana’s Ruling Party Outlines Main Policies
Ghana’s Vice President Mahamadu Bawumia said he was ready to lead the nation in a campaign launch speech on Wednesday, pledging to revive the battered economy, fight graft, and boost the private sector if elected president in December…Whoever wins faces a steep challenge as the West African oil, gold and cocoa producer is still struggling to emerge from its worst economic crisis in a generation…Bawumia’s presidential prospects may be threatened by his role as the face of economic policy throughout the presidency of Nana Akufo-Addo, who is due to step down in January 2025 after serving the constitutional limit of eight years. Reuters

South Africa: Headache for ANC over 97 Members Implicated in State Capture
Despite general elections drawing closer, the ANC has not yet decided the fate of 97 party members — including MPs — who were implicated in the Zondo commission’s state capture report…The ANC Veterans’ League has called for those implicated in the Zondo report to be excluded from the lists, although it faces serious pushback from those who have been accused but have not yet been criminally charged…The ANC’s slow pace in dealing with malfeasance led to the resignation of one of its senior stalwarts, Mavuso Msimang, in December. The veteran politician however rescinded his resignation after consulting the party’s senior officials. Mail & Guardian

Kenya’s Media Giants Are Plotting for a Fight with the Government over Ad Spending
Executives at two of Kenya’s largest media houses are considering legal challenges to what they believe is a politically-charged move to centralize government advertising…Late last year, the Ruto administration awarded a two-year contract for the printing and distribution of MyGov, a pullout magazine containing government advertisements, to The Star, which is Kenya’s fourth most-read newspaper with only 3% of the market in 2022…Since his campaign for President in 2022, Ruto has made no secret of his feeling that Kenya’s biggest media companies are against him. This isn’t entirely surprising as some of them, such as Mediamax and Standard, are associated with his political rivals, the Kenyatta and Moi families. The Star, by contrast, has reported links to his allies, including former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero, and Ruto’s administration is considered to have more sway with the media house. Semafor

AFCON 2024: Cote d’Ivoire Will Battle Nigeria in Sunday’s Final
Côte d’Ivoire, the AFCON 2024 host, have booked their place in the final with a 1-0 win over DR Congo…Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria met in the group stage, where the Super Eagles won 1-0, courtesy of a penalty from William Troost-Ekong. The host country’s path to the final was turbulent. It performed poorly in it’s group matches…It only sneaked through to the Round of 16 as one the four best losers who progressed…But after almost missing out from Group A, the Elephants overcame all other subsequent obstacles, defeating favourites Senegal 5-4 on penalties in the round of sixteen. In the quarterfinal, it overwhelmed fellow West Africans Mali 2-1 in a dramatic fashion to set a semi-final date with its yesterday’s opponent DR Congo. Premium Times