Africa Media Review for January 30, 2024

Deaths Linked to Militant Islamist Violence in Africa Continue to Spiral
Fatalities linked to militant Islamist violence rose by 20 percent in the past year (from 19,412 in 2022 to 23,322)—a record level of lethal violence…83 percent of the reported fatalities have been in the Sahel and Somalia…The picture across the continent varied widely, however. Both North African and Mozambican theaters saw dramatic reductions—98 percent and 71 percent, respectively—in the number of fatalities linked to militant Islamist violence…The declines in violent activity in North Africa and Mozambique contributed to a 5-percent drop in the number of violent extremist events across the continent over the past year—6,559. This is the first decline in the number of violent incidents linked to militant Islamist groups in Africa since 2016, when there were 2,513 violent events. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

About 30 Killed in Mali in Weekend Village Attacks
About 30 people were killed in attacks on two villages in central Mali over the weekend, the rural commune’s mayor said on Monday…The attacks started on Saturday in the villages of Ogota and Oimbe in Bankass circle, in the Mopti region, Bankass Mayor Moulaye Guindo said in a phone interview…”Armed men burst in, surrounded and attacked the two villages, Ogota and Oimbe, located side by side. They shot at the populations and set fire to the houses,” Guindo said. “The toll is heavy, around 30 deaths including men, women and children. The two villages were completely destroyed and burned,” he said. Reuters

ECOWAS Chair Nigeria Slams Juntas’ Move to Quit Bloc
Nigeria on Monday said the “unelected” military authorities in Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso were letting their people down with their joint decision to leave the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Nigeria, which is the current chair of the political and economic bloc, was commenting for the first time on the three junta-led countries’ Sunday announcement that they were immediately quitting the nearly 50-year-old regional alliance. The Nigerian foreign ministry in a statement said “…[U]nelected leaders engage in a public posturing to deny their people the sovereign right to make fundamental choices over their freedom of movement, freedom to trade and freedom to choose their own leaders,” it said. Reuters

Sudan: ICC Prosecutor: Warring Parties Likely Committed War Crimes in Darfur
[Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court,] said Monday he believes war crimes have been committed by both sides in the Darfur region of Sudan since fighting erupted between rival generals in mid-April….Darfur saw large-scale ethnic violence and crimes against humanity in the early 2000s, and the U.N. fears a repeat now. The U.N. Security Council referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC in 2005, and it is based on that mandate that Khan’s office is investigating recent human rights violations. VOA

US Offers Reward for Escaped Sudan Official Wanted on Darfur
The United States on Monday offered a reward of up to $5 million for the arrest of a former Sudanese official sought over alleged Darfur war crimes who escaped from prison when war erupted last year. Ahmed Harun, a former top aide to deposed dictator Omar al-Bashir, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for helping form the notorious Janjaweed militia which carried out a scorched-earth campaign in Darfur in the 2000s…The United States pointed out that the Janjaweed has evolved into the Rapid Support Forces, which is accused of ethnic-based attacks against the non-Arab population in western Sudan. AFP

Somalia: India Navy Rescues Pakistani Sailors from Pirates
Indian naval forces have rescued 19 Pakistani sailors after their fishing vessel was hijacked by pirates off Somalia’s coast. This was the second rescue operation in 36 hours by Indian warship INS Sumitra. Hours earlier, the ship had rescued the 17-member Iranian crew of a vessel which was also hijacked by pirates, the navy said…On Saturday, defence forces from the Seychelles had rescued six Sri Lankan fishermen after their vessel was hijacked…And earlier in January, Indian navy commandos had rescued 21 crew members from a Liberian-flagged ship which was attacked by pirates off the Somalian coast. BBC

Kenya’s Government Says it Will Appeal High Court Ruling that Blocks Sending Police to Haiti
Kenyan President William Ruto says he will appeal a court ruling last week rejecting a planned deployment of Kenyan police officers to Haiti. Ruto promised last year that Kenya would lead a multinational force to help fight gangs in the troubled Caribbean nation, but critics challenged his legal authority…In a statement, Ruto’s government reiterated its commitment to honoring the country’s international obligations and says it will appeal the court ruling…The challenge to the deployment was brought to court by three petitioners, including opposition politician and constitutional lawyer Ekuru Aukot, who told VOA at the time the proposed deployment was unconstitutional. VOA

South Africa: African National Congress Suspends Former President Jacob Zuma
South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress, in a remarkable rebuke, suspended its former president, Jacob Zuma, on Monday, for launching “vitriolic attacks” against the organization after throwing his support behind a rival political party…The suspension letter to Mr. Zuma, obtained by The New York Times, said he had violated his oath of membership and the party’s constitution. It said that he had brought the party into disrepute and that he had collaborated with a political organization that opposes its objectives. So serious were his actions, the letter said, that the party was suspending him immediately. The New York Times

South Africa: Auction to Sell Mandela’s Personal Items Suspended
Guernsey’s auction house in New York has halted the sale of approximately 70 personal items belonging to South Africa’s anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela…The decision comes in response to public outcry in South Africa. Makaziwe Mandela, the eldest daughter of Nelson Mandela, had planned to auction items such as his hearing aids, walking sticks, and reading glasses on February 22. She aimed to use the proceeds to fund a memorial garden near his burial site…South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa said that blocking the sale was necessary as Mr Mandela “is integral to South Africa’s heritage”. Africanews with Agencies

Only Three SADC Countries Have Capacity to Fight Fast-Spreading Cholera
[O]nly three countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have the capacity to deal with [widespread cholera outbreaks] experts say. This came out of an extraordinary virtual meeting of health ministers from the SADC, as well as officials from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) on Saturday, who sought ways to deal with the growing crisis. The only three SADC countries considered equal to the task are South Africa, Botswana and Namibia…The cholera outbreak coinciding with the rainy season has been so devastating that there’s going to be an urgent SADC summit on 30 January, convened by the Africa CDC. News24

Millions Urgently Need Food in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region despite the Resumption of Aid Deliveries
Just 14% of 3.2 million people targeted for food aid by humanitarian agencies in the region this month had received it by Jan. 21, according to [a memo seen by The Associated Press] by the Tigray Food Cluster, a group of aid agencies co-chaired by the U.N.’s World Food Program and Ethiopian officials…The U.N. and the U.S. paused food aid to Tigray in mid-March last year after discovering a “large-scale” scheme to steal humanitarian grain. The suspension was rolled out to the rest of Ethiopia in June…Humanitarian donors have blamed Ethiopian government officials and the country’s military for the fraud. The U.N. and the U.S. lifted the pause in December after introducing reforms to curb theft, but Tigray authorities say food is not reaching those who need it. AP

African Union Commission Calls for ‘Paradigm Shift’ at Italy-Africa Summit
Speaking at the much anticipated Italy-Africa summit in Rome, Moussa Faki [, the chair of the African Union Commission,] welcomed Italy’s overtures for a mutually beneficial strengthening of relations with the African continent, but said: …“Africa does not want to reach out. We are not beggars”…The Italian prime minister announced her Africa plan soon after her far-right government took office in October 2022, with the main goal of transforming Italy into an energy hub as Europe was weaning itself off Russian gas. A priority for Meloni in exchange for helping African economies to prosper is stemming the flow of migrants from Africa, an election pledge she has so far failed to fulfil. The Guardian

Kenya ETA: President Ruto’s Vision of Visa-Free Entry Proves Tricky for Some
Kenya’s President William Ruto was celebrated last year when he announced his country would be going visa-free for African visitors, but many have been surprised by the new requirements, which have introduced fresh costs and paperwork for some. [Nationals of more than 40 countries,] including several from Africa, were previously able to arrive in Kenya, get a stamp on their passport and enter without paying…[U]nder new rules, travellers must get an Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) every time they enter Kenya…Only citizens from countries in the East African Community (EAC) are currently exempt…[O]ther visa-free countries in Africa, like Rwanda, do not require any authorisation prior to arrival and there is no cost to enter for the large majority of travellers. BBC