Africa Media Review for January 27, 2023

France to Pull Troops Out of Burkina Faso, as Its Unpopularity in Africa Grows
The departure of the French troops epitomizes a broader malaise developing between Burkina Faso and its former colonizer, a phenomenon spreading in Francophone countries in Africa. In Mali, Burkina Faso’s northern neighbor, thousands of French troops spent nearly a decade fighting extremists, but security did not improve, and the reach of the armed groups spread from its desert north to its more highly populated center. Malians blamed the French for the dire situation in their country, and last year, the French ambassador and several French media outlets were thrown out, while all of its troops were withdrawn under heavy pressure from the Malian government…In December, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana accused the authorities in Burkina Faso, Ghana’s neighbor, of having signed an agreement with Wagner. “To have them operating on our northern border is particularly distressing for us in Ghana,” Mr. Akufo-Addo said. New York Times

Mali Court Sentences Man to Death over UN Peacekeeper Deaths
A court in Mali has sentenced a man to death over a 2019 attack that killed three United Nations peacekeepers, the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission has said, without naming the defendant. Mali has been struggling for a decade with violence from armed non-state actors that has spread across the Sahel region despite costly international efforts to quash it…Bamako’s criminal court on Tuesday convicted the man of acts of criminal association, murder, robbery and illegal possession of firearms in connection with the Siby attack, MINUSMA said on Wednesday. Judges imposed the death penalty, which has not been carried out in Mali since a moratorium was placed on executions in 1980. Al Jazeera

Senegal Politics Heat Up as President Sall Stays Mum About Third Term
Senegal’s former prime minister Aminata Toure says she will keep fighting against a possible third term for her former boss, President Macky Sall, who remains silent on his intentions regarding the 2024 presidential election. Toure was stripped of her seat in parliament this week — a move she says is based solely on her decision to oppose to a potential candidacy by President Sall. “I believe President Macky Sall should not run for a third term. We both campaigned for the 2016 constitution which clearly says that no one can run for more than two consecutive terms,” Toure told VOA French to Africa in an interview this week. Voice of America

Russia’s FM Lavrov Meets Eritrean President on Africa Tour
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has met Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki in Asmara during the Russian diplomat’s second tour of Africa to boost international support for Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine. The visit comes after Lavrov visited officials in South Africa, one of his country’s most important allies on the continent, where on Monday he pushed back at criticisms over joint naval drills between Russia, China and South Africa scheduled for next month…The discussion centred on the dynamics of the war in Ukraine and the enhancement of bilateral ties in energy, mining, information technology, education and health sectors, said Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel late on Thursday. Al Jazeera

Somalia Welcomes Killing of IS Leader
Somalia’s government welcomed the death of Bilal al-Sudani, the Islamic State group leader killed by U.S. special operations forces in a remote part of northern Somalia on Wednesday night. “It’s a very positive and welcoming,” Hussein Sheikh Ali, national security adviser for Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud told VOA Somali on Thursday. Ali, who is in Washington, told VOA that Islamic State is not the major threat to Somalia, as is al-Shabab, but its leader, al-Sudani, was a “dangerous terrorist” who posed a potential threat to Somalia and East Africa. Voice of America

Body of Tanzanian Killed in Ukraine Returns Home
The body of a Tanzanian national who was killed in Ukraine fighting with Russian forces returned to his home country on Friday. Nemes Tarimo, 37, died three months ago after agreeing to sign up with the Russian mercenary group Wagner. His body was received by his family at the main airport in Dar es Salaam with burial scheduled for Saturday in his home village in the southern highlands of country. Mr Tarimo had been in Moscow as a business informatics master’s student at the Russian Technological University. But he was then imprisoned some time after January 2021 for what were described as drugs-related offences. Last year, he was enticed with a deal: sign up with the Russian mercenary group Wagner and be pardoned or stay in prison. BBC

Ethiopia’s Abiy on Fist Visit to Sudan Since Border Clashes
Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed visited Sudan on Thursday for the first time since border clashes between the neighbours, amid tensions heightened by the filling of a giant hydropower dam. Abiy and Sudan’s leaders discussed Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a Sudanese statement said, a project on the Blue Nile that has alarmed the downriver countries of Sudan and Egypt who fear it could threaten their water supply. Reuters

Can Hamdok Return as Sudan’s Prime Minister Again?
The head of the National Umma Party (NUP) Fadlallah Burma Nasir on January 12, expressed his support for the return of the former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, saying that it was “expected after the signing of the final agreement. Hamdok is not the only candidate for the position of prime minister, as there are rumours that former Justice Minister Nasr Eddine Abdel Bari is the candidate of the United States for the position and that the former minister has the support of the military component…Hamdok’s return faces reservations made by many groups of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) including the NUP. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Progress in Darfur Militia Leader Trial, but Government Cooperation Wanes
Presenting his latest report, ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan updated ambassadors on proceedings against Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman, also known as “Ali Kushayb”, charged with 31 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.  These atrocities were allegedly committed during the Darfur conflict which began in 2003, pitting Sudanese Government forces, backed by militia groups known as the Janjaweed, against rebel movements.  Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, and millions more displaced…Although cooperation from the Sudanese Government is critical, the ICC Prosecutor reported that many important promises and agreements – including Memoranda of Understanding signed during his visit to the capital, Khartoum, last year – remain outstanding.  “And indeed, it’s my unfortunate duty to say that cooperation has deteriorated, not improved, since my last briefing,” he said. UN News

Tanks to Ukraine Mark Change in Moroccan Foreign Policy
The EU’s relationship with Morocco was already tense following the corruption scandal that rocked the European Parliament in December. Members of the European body were accused of taking bribes from Qatar and Morocco — accusations that have been repeatedly denied by both countries. Morocco’s foreign minister Nasser Bourita complained of “harassment” from Europeans. Current tensions with the European Parliament put Morocco in a “difficult situation vis-a-vis the Europeans,” confirmed Isabelle Werenfels, senior fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, or SWP…However this week, Morocco made a move that seemed to indicate increasing warmth toward Europe. Morocco became the first African country to send heavy weapons to Ukraine. The country is delivering 20 renovated T-72B main battle tanks to the eastern European country. The move is a significant change from Morocco’s previously neutral stance on the Russia invasion of Ukraine as well as a clear turn towards Europe and the US. In the March 2022 vote at the United Nations that rejected Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Morocco and other African nations abstained. DW

US Giants Like Ford Are ‘Doubling down’ on SA, Says Janet Yellen
Yellen, who was speaking at a briefing after a visit to the Ford Motor Company South Africa’s plant in Silverton, Pretoria, said there were many countries in Africa, including SA, that the US viewed as “friends” – and that it also planned to work with them to further its security interests in ensuring there were resilient global supply chains. “We have seen over the past three years how disruptions in one part of the world can shape the global economy. Covid-19 brought the world’s economic activity to a standstill. Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine has raised energy prices and exacerbated food insecurity. These shocks taught us about the importance of secure and resilient supply chains.” Bloomberg

South African Heatwave Deaths Likely Warning of More to Come – Everywhere
This past week has seen an unprecedented and deadly heat wave across a swathe of South Africa in a pattern of altered climate that is being echoed in neighbouring countries, other regions in Africa and across the globe. While there is some residual ‘climate change denialism’, especially in ‘know-nothing’ social media posts, academics and professional atmospheric, oceanic and climate experts agree virtually unanimously that the current extreme weather patterns, as a whole, are directly linked to accelerating climate change…At least eight farm workers have died as a direct result of heat stroke and some elders have also perished, with nation-wide power outages preventing any sort of cooling by air conditioning. Nation

Govt Internet Shutdowns Cripple Civil Society, Dissent in Africa
Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition have documented that during 2021 at least 182 internet shutdowns in 34 countries were used as a tactic to suppress dissent and quell unrest.
This tactic has been used by multiple African governments, particularly during election periods. “African countries that went to the polls in recent years have developed an affinity to restrict internet access before, during and after elections especially in countries where there are disputes,” said Leah Mitaba of the Zambia Council for Social Development.  Similarly, Chad has experienced over 2.5 years in total of internet cuts or disruptions since 2016 amid increased repression of civil society and human rights activists. “We have seen in the last five years, a close link between internet cuts and Chad’s important moments of political dispute,” says Abdoulaye Diarra, Amnesty International’s Central Africa researcher. AllAfrica

Nigeria: It Took Nearly 30 Years. Is America Ready for Ben Okri Now?
Ben Okri, the prizewinning Nigerian British author, has never been easy to define. Throughout his 40-year career, critics have struggled to place him, labeling him a magical realist, an African realist, even a spiritual realist. And he’s often forged new paths entirely…Okri went unpublished in the U.S. for nearly 30 years. The reappearance of his work here comes at a time of deep reckoning and crisis — from the pandemic to political and ecological meltdowns — which has made his work feel all the more prescient. In early 2020, Akashic released his novel “The Freedom Artist,” set in an “age of anxiety” that is beset by plagues, tyranny and rampant disinformation. An underground resistance movement swells into a mass uprising, spurred on by wizard-like bards and a single, cryptic line of graffiti: “Upwake!” New York Times