Africa Media Review for January 3, 2023

Burkina Faso’s Military Junta Asks France to Recall Ambassador
Burkina Faso’s military junta has asked France to recall its ambassador, authorities said Monday, amid a surge in anti-French sentiment as the West African country moves to develop closer ties with Russia. Government spokesman Jean-Emmanuel Ouedraogo confirmed to the Associated Press that Ambassador Luc Hallade was asked to leave, but provided no further details. The French embassy refused to comment. The move comes less than two weeks after the United Nations’ resident and humanitarian coordinator in Burkina Faso, Barbara Manzi, was also declared persona non grata. France24

Burkina Faso Violence: Bodies of 28 People Found in Nouna
The bodies of 28 people who were shot dead have been discovered in Burkina Faso’s north-western town of Nouna, the government has said. A civil society group blamed the killings on armed civilians claiming to be members of a government-backed volunteer force fighting jihadists. The government did not comment on the claim, but said it was investigating. Burkina Faso has been hit by a decade-long insurgency that has displaced nearly two million people. The military seized power in Burkina Faso last January, promising an end to attacks, but the violence still rages. BBC

46 Ivorian Soldiers Sentenced to 20 Years in Mali Prison
Forty-six soldiers from Ivory Coast were sentenced to 20 years in prison for undermining state security in Mali and for attacks on Mali’s government, the African nation’s prosecutor general said Friday. The soldiers were also fined more than $3,000 and convicted of carrying and transporting weapons, Prosecutor General Ladji Sara said in a statement. Sara added that three other defendants, all women who were released in September, were tried in absentia and sentenced to death. The 49 soldiers were detained in July when they went to work for Sahelian Aviation Services, a private company contracted to work in Mali by the United Nations. Mali’s government said it considered the Ivorians to be mercenaries because they were not directly employed by the U.N. mission and accused them of undermining state security. Malian authorities said the aviation company should entrust its security to Mali’s defense forces. AP

Senegal: Dakar Residents Protest Mismanagement of Anti-COVID Funds
Hundreds of Senegalese civilians demonstrated in Dakar on Saturday by banging pots and pans during president Macky Sall’s end of year speech. Both the demonstration and Friday’s protest were to demand legal action after a report on the management of anti-Covid funds was found to contain numerous irregularities. The opposition has repeatedly denounced the authorities’ “theft” after an audit by the court of auditors pointed shortcomings, overbilling, and lack of evidence of expenditure. The crowd gathered at the Place de la Nation in Dakar, under the call of a dozen civil society organisations, shouting “thieves” and “You will not digest our billions! AfricaNews with AFP

Nigeria: 2023: Obasanjo Endorses Peter Obi for President
The former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has endorsed Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, as his preferred choice for president in next month’s election. Mr Obasanjo gave his endorsement in an open letter to young Nigerians on Sunday. “None of the contestants is a saint but when one compares their character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job particularly looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi as a mentee has an edge. Others like all of us have what they can contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration and salvaging of Nigeria collectively. “One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost,” he wrote. Mr Obi is one of the presidential candidates who had sought the support of the former president. Premium Times Nigeria

EU Calls on Rwanda to Stop Supporting M23 Rebels in DR Congo
The European Union has urged Rwanda to stop supporting the M23 rebel group, which has captured swaths of territory in North Kivu province in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The DRC – along with the United States and several European countries – has repeatedly accused its smaller Central African neighbour Rwanda of backing the M23, although Kigali denies the charge…Under heavy international pressure to disarm, M23 joined a ceremony last week to deliver the strategic town of Kibumba to an East African military force as a “goodwill gesture” for peace. The EAC also said the group had to withdraw to the border between the DRC, Uganda and Rwanda. However, the Congolese army promptly dubbed the Kibumba handover a “sham.” Al Jazeera

Tunisian Transport Strike Adds More Woes for President Saied
Metro and bus traffic in the Tunisian capital ground to a halt after employees of the state transport company held a strike over delays in the payment of wages and bonuses. The strike on Monday highlights the financial problems faced by public companies on the verge of bankruptcy, while the government of President Kais Saied suffers its worst financial crisis…The union, which has one million members, has approved a two-day strike by air, land and sea transport workers on January 25 and 26 to protest against what it called “the government’s marginalisation of public companies.” The strike sparked anger among thousands of people struggling to find transport in the capital. “Today, we do not find milk, oil, sugar, or coffee. Also now we do not find buses that take us to work. Tunisia has become an unbearable hell,” said Nejia, a woman waiting at a bus station. Al Jazeera

Algerian Journalist Jailed and His Media Offices Shut Down
Ihsane El-Kadi was detained Dec. 23 at his home and held in a police facility until Thursday, when he appeared in an Algiers court. An investigating judge ordered him kept in custody, according to Zoubida Assoul, a lawyer who is part of a collective that is defending the journalist. El-Kadi, who was active in Algeria’s Hirak pro-democracy protest movement in 2019, appears to be the latest target of an encroaching crackdown on dissenting voices in the North African country. The case against him is linked to the crowdfunding used to finance his media outlets, Maghreb Emergent and Webradio, Assoul said. The website and radio station operated in Algeria for years but did not have government recognition as official media organizations. AP

U.S. Reiterates Pledge to Support Sudanese People’s Demand for Democracy
U.S. administration renewed its pledge to support the Sudanese people to establish democratic rule in Sudan… “I admire the courage of those Sudanese who have time and again demanded that their voices be heard and that their leaders deliver freedom, peace, and justice,”  said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement congratulating the Sudanese people on the occasion of independence day…Al-Burhan called on the Sudanese political leaders to reunite and expedite their efforts to lay the foundations and build the Sudanese state. The UN mission supporting the democratic transition in Sudan, also, called on the Sudanese parties to prioritize the interest of the Sudanese people and the need for peace and stability. Sudan Tribune

No Extradition Request Yet as Botswana Issues Warrant of Arrest for Ex-President Ian Khama
South African authorities have not received any request from Botswana to extradite the country’s former president Ian Khama, according to department of justice and correctional services spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri. A Gaborone regional magistrate court issued a warrant of arrest for Khama on Thursday. Khama is believed to be residing in South Africa. South Africa and Botswana are members of the Southern African Development Community and signatories of that organisation’s extradition protocol, which states that each member state agrees to extradite to the other any person within its jurisdiction who is wanted for prosecution.  The protocol also sets out grounds to refuse to extradite, including if the requested state has substantial grounds for believing that the extradition request has been made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on account of their political opinion. Mail & Guardian

South Africa: Blair Government Had Misgivings About Mandela Mediation Role over Lockerbie
Downing Street believed Nelson Mandela’s attempt to play mediator between it and the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi over the question of compensation after the Lockerbie bombing was “unlikely to be helpful”, documents reveal. But despite misgivings, No 10 aides did not rule out using Mandela “back against [Gaddafi] if Libya rejected a reasonable offer”, the documents released by the National Archives in the UK show. At a Downing Street meeting in April 2001, the former South African leader told Tony Blair it was “wrong to hold Libya legally responsible for the Lockerbie bombing”, and against public international law, despite the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi in January 2001 after a trial in the Netherlands. Blair argued that the UK was not “insisting” Gaddafi “had ordered the Lockerbie bombing” and that the “Libyan state may not be directly responsible”, according to a record of the meeting by Blair’s foreign policy adviser, John Sawers, later head of MI6. Guardian

It Was a Tough Christmas for Most Africans
While Christmas has always been an expensive time for most households, this year in particular was very difficult for most Africans. International money transfer company, World Remit, estimates that most households spend 156% of their monthly income during the holiday season. This year, that percentage was even larger at a time when most African households are making much less than in previous years. From historical food inflation rates, low purchasing power, hiked fares, power cuts, and unpaid Christmas bonuses to civil war, and food insecurity, Africa had one of its worst Christmas moments in recent years. Quartz Africa

How an Underwater Film Inspired a Marine Protected Area off Kenya’s Coast
Famous for its sprawling nature reserves that are home to all “Big Five” animals, Kenya’s 882 miles of coastline along the Indian Ocean are often overlooked. It’s a place where people go to “chill out,” but not to observe and connect with the wild and unique ecosystem, says Kenyan filmmaker, photographer and conservationist Jahawi Bertolli. Bertolli is determined to change this outlook and believes that visual storytelling is one way to do it. “No one was telling stories about the ocean here (in Kenya),” he says…But this rich biodiversity is increasingly under threat. Bertolli says that harmful fishing practices, such as drag netting, coupled with habitat degradation due, in part, to coastal development, pollution and an increasing human population have caused a reduction in fish populations. Not only is this bad for the ecosystem, but for local fishers too. Lamu is home to one of the oldest Swahili settlements in East Africa, a community who have depended on the ocean since the 12th century. Traditionally these fishers respected the balance with nature, says Bertolli. They stopped fishing when they had enough for what was needed, they only fished in certain seasons, and they left the coral reef alone, understanding it to be a home for fish, where they needed space and time to reproduce and grow. “There’s a lot of cultural knowledge, which is actually conservation knowledge. It’s just packaged differently,” Bertolli explains. CNN



Photo: Adam Jones