Africa Media Review for January 13, 2023

UN Says Security Deteriorating in Mali
The United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) recently released its semi-annual report covering the period from June 23, 2022 to December 30, 2022.Over the past six months, the security situation in Mali has not improved, according to the report of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) presented on Tuesday 10 January by its interim head, Giovanie Biha. According to the document consulted by APA, security has deteriorated in this Sahelian country especially after the departure of Barkhane, precipitated by the diplomatic row between Paris and Bamako, against the backdrop of the Malian transitional authorities’ rapprochement with Moscow and a supposed recourse to Wagner mercenaries…One of the consequences of this insecurity is the increase in the number of internally displaced persons in Mali, which now stands at more than 400,000. While humanitarian needs are increasing, funding to meet them is not as great as desired. Journal du Cameroun

Nine Killed in Mosque Attack in Burkina Faso
Nine people were killed when suspected jihadists attacked a mosque in northeastern Burkina Faso, local sources said Thursday. The attack happened at around nightfall on Wednesday in the village of Goulgountou in Burkina’s Sahel region, when assailants arrived on motorbikes and herded worshippers inside the mosque, a witness said. “They separated out the women, children and elderly and then made sermons to try to convince worshippers of abandoning” their form of faith, the source said…Goulgountou is located close to the gold mining town of Falagountou, which lies near the border with Niger. The area has suffered several incursions by suspected jihadists since the start of the week, the sources said. Defense Post with AFP

Elections: Don’t Meddle in Nigeria’s Politics, Buhari Tells Diplomats
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reiterated his call on members of the diplomatic community not to meddle in Nigeria’s internal politics. The president’s call comes as Nigeria prepares for a general election in February and March, this year, that will produce the next president and other political leaders in the country. Buhari, while speaking on insecurity in West Africa, said Nigeria was working closely with members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to deal with insecurity in the region, as well as implementing strategies to contain the spate of unconstitutional change of governments…“As you settle down to your diplomatic responsibilities, I am hopeful that you will appreciate the political, socio-economic and cultural diversities which are the hallmarks of the Nigerian nation.” Business Day

2023: Google Launches Nigeria Elections Trends Hub
A new portal called Nigeria Elections Trends Hub has been unveiled by social media giant, Google, for the 2023 general elections scheduled for February and March. The platform, according to a statement from the firm, will provide an avenue for Nigerians to search and discover trending interests related to the presidential and vice-presidential candidates, parties, and issues through the lens of Google Trends…As Nigeria celebrates 24 years of democracy in the upcoming elections, Google’s mission to organise and make the world’s information universally accessible and useful is more relevant than ever. “We want Nigerians to be empowered with information during the upcoming elections, so we’re organising information to make it easy for voters to learn more about the candidates through the eyes of Google Trends,” said Taiwo Kola-Ogunlade, Communications and Public Affairs Manager for West Africa. “More accessible and useful political information improves the political process and leads to greater citizen participation,” Kola-Ogunlade added. Business Post

Benin Pro-Government Parties Win Parliament Majority
The constitutional court in Benin has declared that pro-government parties won a majority of seats in Sunday’s parliamentary election. Allies of President Patrice Talon secured 81 seats, while the main opposition party, the Democrats, won 28 seats. It is the first time in four years that the opposition will be represented in parliament, as in the last poll the only parties that were allowed to compete were the ones loyal to President Tallon, whose opponents were jailed or exiled at that time. Earlier the Democrats’ party leader, Eric Houndete, denounced the result, saying the poll was rigged, though without providing evidence. BBC

M23 Rebels Meet Uhuru, Agree to Withdraw from DRC’s North Kivu
M-23 rebels have agreed to withdraw fighters from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province and follow a strict cease-fire. North Kivu had been the most volatile region in the entire Eastern DRC but that has changed in the last four weeks when displaced persons began returning to their homes. This emerged after a meeting between the M-23 rebel leaders and former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa…During the meeting, it was also agreed that the withdrawal process would continue to be verified by both the East African Regional Force and the ICGLR Verification Mechanism to ensure the safety and swift return of all the displaced citizens and refugees to their homes. Nation

Ethiopia’s War in Tigray Has Ended, but Deep Faultlines Remain
Fisseha Gebreselassie contemplates all he has lost. Days after Ethiopia’s civil war began in November 2020, Ethiopian soldiers killed his 12-year-old son in front of him. Fearing for his life, he fled Tigray, the northern region at the centre of the fighting, for Sudan, leaving behind his wife and three remaining children, hoping they would be safe. But militiamen from the neighbouring Amhara region soon seized their home, forced them onto a truck and drove them across the river to central Tigray. More than two years later, the family is still separated. A peace deal signed in November has raised hopes that Fisseha and thousands like him might be able to go home. It has stopped both the fighting and a blockade of Tigray by federal forces that led to probably hundreds of thousands of deaths from bombs, bullets or war-induced famine and disease. By resetting relations between the two main belligerents—Ethiopia’s government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (tplf)—the deal is also reshaping alliances inside Ethiopia and perhaps the wider region. Economist

Ethiopia: ‘Thank God You’re Alive’: Tears, Grief as Phones Ring Again in Tigray
Beniam Yetbarek didn’t even know his cousin was alive when the phone rang on Christmas Eve, and a voice he hadn’t heard in two years crackled down the line from Tigray. Calls to family in the embattled Ethiopian region hadn’t gone through since November 2020, when phone and internet services were largely disconnected at the outset of war, and Tigray was cut off from the world. But following a ceasefire, phones are starting to ring again, bringing joy but also grief and anger as Tigrayans like Beniam reconnect with loved ones who suffered through one of the world’s deadliest conflicts. AFP

South Sudan Announces Visit of Pope Francis in Early February
Pope Francis will visit South Sudan from February 3-5, the government announced on Thursday. The Foreign Affairs ministry urged foreign diplomats to attend the occasion due in the capital, Juba…Pope Francis will be accompanied by religious leaders from the Anglican community and the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  The papal visit had originally been scheduled for the summer of 2022, but had to be postponed due to his poor health…Despite cancelling the Africa trip, the pope forged ahead with other overseas visits, including a trip to Canada in late July. Last month, he spent four days in Bahrain. Sudan Tribune

Human Rights Watch Criticises SA, Eswatini and Zimbabwe Governments in Latest Report
Southern African leaders have come under sharp criticism in the Human Rights Watch (HRW) 2023 report, with claims that they have failed to address the abuse of civilians. The report, which was released on Thursday, cited the refusal of Eswatini’s King Mswati III to engage in dialogue, South Africa’s failure to protect migrants, Mozambique’s ongoing conflict with insurgents in Cabo Delgado, and Zimbabwe’s lack of meaningful steps to uphold rights. Al Jazeera

Malawi: ‘Some Were Discovered Dead in Their Communities’: The Cholera Outbreak That Should Never Have Been
Cholera is caused by a bacterial infection of the intestine. Symptoms typically include acute diarrhoea, sickness, fatigue and dehydration. In the most severe cases, the rapid loss of bodily fluids and electrolytes can lead to death within hours, unless a patient receives immediate treatment…With the crisis showing no signs of abating, Malawi’s government has sent out an SOS to the humanitarian community for aid…The announcement is the latest attempt by the government to suppress the outbreak, which is rapidly spiralling out of control. Earlier this month, government health officials announced the closure of secondary and primary schools in Blantyre and Lilongwe. Some markets in the cities were also temporarily shut down to pave the way for disinfection. Telegraph

South Africa’s Power Supplier Defends Price Hike amid Record Blackouts
South Africa’s debt-laden power utility Eskom on Friday defended as a “tough decision” a steep tariff increase despite record power cuts that have angered the nation. The energy regulator on Thursday allowed the state-owned firm, struggling with a 400-billion-rand ($23.3 billion) debt, to raise prices by 18.65 percent. Eskom, which had applied for a 32 percent increase, said it appreciated the regulator’s “tough decision”, adding that it “will positively contribute from a financial and sustainability point of view”. The hike takes effect in April. AFP



Photo: Adam Jones