Africa Media Review for January 5, 2024

Congo’s Catholic and Protestant Churches Demand Inquiry into Election Issues
Democratic Republic of Congo’s powerful Catholic bishops conference and Protestant churches on Thursday demanded an independent inquiry be opened into irregularities and alleged legal violations observed during December general elections. Congo’s CENI election commission said on Sunday that President Felix Tshisekedi had secured more than 73% in the Dec. 20 vote. But a large group of opposition candidates say the election was fraudulent and reject the provisional results. Hours-long delays, malfunctioning machines, and other issues led to an unscheduled extension of voting beyond Dec. 20 that independent observers said affected the credibility of the election. In a joint statement the CENCO-ECC Catholic and Protestant churches, whose thousands of independent observers flagged widespread issues on and after election day, said the CENI needed to allow an investigation. It said the results of the presidential and legislative vote would only be acceptable if an inquiry was set up…The CENCO-ECC statement urged the court to consider any allegation raised in connection with the reported election irregularities and make sure justice is rendered. Reuters

Sudan’s Feared RSF Rebel Leader Dagalo Meets Ramaphosa
Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, leader of Sudan’s feared rebel army the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) met President Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Thursday to discuss efforts to end the country’s brutal civil war. Fighting erupted in April between Dagalo’s RSF and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council. Ramaphosa welcomed the briefing Dagalo gave him and commended the central role of the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) under Djibouti’s chair in mediating between the RSF and Burhan’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), the presidency said…Dagalo travelled to Pretoria to meet Ramaphosa as part of a tour of African capitals to brief them on his perspective of the civil war which has killed thousands and displaced many more. On Wednesday Dagalo met Kenyan President William Ruto in Nairobi…On Sunday, Dagalo travelled to Djibouti to brief President Ismail Omar Guelleh, and on Friday he met Ethiopia’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister Demeke Mekonnen. Daily Maverick

Sudan Recalls Ambassador to Kenya over Hemetti’s Reception
The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday that it had recalled its ambassador to Kenya, Kamal Jubbara, in protest against the official reception hosted by the Kenyan government for Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemetti,” the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), on Wednesday. In a statement to the Sudan News Agency, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Al-Sadiq stated that Sudan had recalled its ambassador for consultations to express its strong disapproval of the Kenyan government’s “official reception of the leader of the rebel militia (Hemetti) upon his visit there yesterday”…Over the past few days, Hemetti has met with the leaders of Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and South Africa. He received official receptions with a guard of honours at the Addis Ababa airport, while he was welcomed with traditional dances at Nairobi airport before meeting President William Ruto at the presidential palace. In contrast, the receptions hosted by President Museveni and President Cyril Ramaphosa were limited to their respective private residences, outside the presidential palaces. Sudan Tribune

Kenyan President’s Remarks on Judiciary Condemned
Kenya’s president is coming under criticism from judges, lawyers, legal experts and opposition groups after saying he won’t respect court orders that he perceives as an effort to undermine key policies of his administration. Critics are calling for nationwide protests to protect the judiciary’s independence and respect for the rule of law. Kenyan lawyers have called for a demonstration following Tuesday’s comments from President William Ruto…On Tuesday, President Ruto said he will ignore some court orders that he sees as aimed at stalling government development programs. He accused some judges of corruption and working with those filing cases against his government’s economic plans. … The government led by Ruto has made the construction of affordable houses and provision of universal healthcare two of his top priorities. But critics say in implementing the plans, the government is trampling over the legal process. A Kenyan court stopped the government’s plan to raise taxes to construct the houses, saying it was unconstitutional and discriminatory, a decision that has angered the executive…The constitution passed in 2010 gave the judiciary independence to do its work without the interference of the government, a freedom which has given Kenyans increased confidence in the judiciary. VOA

Horn of Africa: A Conflict Evolving around Berbera Port
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had been calling for sea access for months — his rhetoric leading to fears of a fresh dispute with neighboring Eritrea. However, the Somali government in Mogadishu, which has little control over the north-western breakaway province, was caught by surprise when Ethiopia and Somaliland struck their deal on New Year’s Day. Besides using the port for international trade, Ethiopia also wants to lease land from Somaliland on which to build a naval base. Somaliland, in return, gets an equivalent value in shares of Ethiopian Airlines. Moreover, Abiy’s government promises to “make an in-depth assessment towards taking a position regarding the efforts of Somaliland to gain recognition.” While the deal’s wording leaves much room for interpretation, any diplomatic revaluation for Somaliland’s cause would further weaken the Somali central government in Mogadishu…Somalia has deployed rebel militias in what is now Ethiopia’s Somali region. However, there’s reason to doubt that Mogadishu would engage in an armed confrontation with Ethiopia, a country whose military spending is three times higher and is part of the coalition fighting the Al-Shabab militant organization within Somalia. DW

Senegal’s Supreme Court Rejects Sonko’s Appeal of Libel Conviction
Senegal’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled against opposition politician Ousmane Sonko in his appeal of a libel conviction, dealing another blow to his hopes of competing in next month’s presidential election, lawyers said. Sonko, 49, has been battling various court cases since 2021. These have hampered his plans to vie for the presidency in the Feb. 25 vote and fuelled unrest that has damaged Senegal’s reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies. After deliberations that extended from Thursday into the early hours of Friday, the court rejected Sonko’s appeal against a May conviction that led to him receiving a six-month suspended sentence for libel, lawyers involved in the case said. According to Senegalese law, Sonko cannot compete in the presidential race while such a conviction is upheld…He denies any wrongdoing and says all charges against him are politically motivated. The government rejects this and accuses Sonko of stoking violence. It dissolved his Pastef party in July…After placing third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election, Sonko is seen as a strong potential challenger in the race to succeed President Macky Sall, who is stepping down after two terms. Sonko submitted his candidacy from custody last month after another court in the southern city of Zinguichor, where Sonko is mayor, ordered he be reinstated on the electoral register.  Reuters

Cameroon Opposition Calls for Single Candidate to Face Biya in Next Election
Leaders of Cameroon’s main opposition party say they are negotiating with more than 30 opposition leaders to present a single candidate in the next election, should 91-year-old President Paul Biya be incapacitated by ill health. The opposition reacted after Biya, who has ruled for more than four decades, made no mention of running for re-election in a New Year’s message. Maurice Kamto, president of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement Party, said scores of civil society and political opposition members have set up a platform called the Political Alliance for Change, also known as the PAC, to press for Biya to relinquish power. The 91-year-old has been president since 1982 and is the world’s oldest political head of state. Presidential elections are to take place in Cameroon by October 2025, but civil society groups and opposition parties expected Biya to announce, during his New Year’s message, early elections in 2024. That didn’t happen…According to Cameroon’s constitution, if Biya dies, resigns or becomes incapacitated, Marcel Niat Njifenji, the 89-year-old president of the Senate, the upper house of parliament, would take power, and organize elections for a new president within 120 days. VOA

In Liberia, Women Struggle for Elective Offices Amidst Sexism
Liberia has one of the lowest levels of representation of women in elective office in the world, according to World Bank 2022 data. Just 11 percent of the seats in the legislature are held by women…In the Senate, women hold fewer of the 30 seats, about 7 percent. Liberia has had two women heads of state, Ruth Sando Fanbulleh Perry and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; one woman has served as vice president, Jewel Howard Taylor. Out of 162 countries, Liberia is ranked 156th on the Gender Inequality Index, a measure of gender disparities in opportunities for economic advancement and reproductive health. Advocates and activists attributed Liberia’s low score to sexism, established social norms, the economy, and online bullying. In addition to online harassment and attempts at shaming, one of the major obstacles faced by women candidates has been a lack of funding…In 2014, the National Election Law was amended to state that a political party or coalition should endeavor to ensure that women make up no less than 30 percent of candidates on lists submitted to the National Elections Commission. The law was not widely enforced. Advocates subsequently pressed 25 parties to commit to the 30 percent goal through a memorandum of understanding. In the last election, however, only two political parties achieved the 30% female quota during the nomination process-Transformation Party, and the Reformers National Congress. Liberian Observer

TotalEnergies Audits Land in Uganda, Tanzania Oil Projects
TotalEnergies is pushing ahead with its Tilenga drilling project in Uganda and 1,443-kilometre East African Crude Oil Pipeline (Eacop) to the coast in Tanzania in the face of opposition from activists and environmentalists. Tilenga targets oil under the rich Murchison Falls nature reserve in western Uganda with a planned 419 wells, triggering fears among opponents of the projects for the region’s fragile ecosystem and the people who live there. TotalEnergies, which is working with Chinese oil company CNOOC on the plans, says on its website that going ahead would mean “relocating 775 primary residences, and will affect a total of 18,800 stakeholders, landowners and land users”. But Human Rights Watch called in July for the plans to be halted, saying in a report that it had already “devastated thousands of people’s livelihoods in Uganda”. The oilfield would “ultimately displace over 100,000 people,” it charged. Four environmental groups have filed a criminal complaint on climate grounds against TotalEnergies in France. AFP

Ugandan Police Say Gay Rights Activist in Critical Condition after Knife Attack
A well-known gay rights activist in Uganda who was stabbed by unknown assailants this week attributed the attack to what he described Thursday as a growing intolerance of the LGBTQ+ community fueled by politicians. The climate of intolerance is being exacerbated by “politicians who are using the LGBTQ+ community as a scapegoat to move people away from what is really happening in the country,” Steven Kabuye said in an interview from a hospital bed on the outskirts of Kampala. Two attackers on a motorcycle tried to stab Kabuye in the neck on Wednesday, and when he tried to shield himself the attackers stabbed him in the right arm and stomach, police said. A video posted on the social media platform X shows Kabuye on the ground writhing in pain with a deep wound to his right arm and a knife stuck in his belly. Kabuye is the executive director of the advocacy group Colored Voice Truth to LGBTQ. He had gone into exile in Kenya last March after receiving death threats following an attack on one of the members of the group, organization advocacy officer Hans Senfuma said. Kabuye had returned to Uganda on Dec. 15. AP

Egypt Plans Expansion of New Capital as First Residents Trickle In
Egypt is preparing to spend billions doubling the size of a lavish new capital it is building in the desert 45 km (28 miles) east of Cairo, where the first residents are trickling in, the head of the company overseeing the project said. The city is the biggest of a series of mega-projects that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi says are needed for economic development and to accommodate a growing population of 105 million, but critics say it will divert resources and increase Egypt’s debt burden. Government employees transferred in July to ministries and offices built in the new city’s first phase, eight years after the launch of the project known as the New Administrative Capital (NAC)…Built on virgin land, the city is designed to serve as a high-tech model for Egypt’s future away from the clutter and chaos of Cairo. The government wants it to absorb part of Egypt’s population, which is growing by an estimated 1.6% a year…In 2019, [Chairman of the Administrative Capital for Urban Development Khaled] Abbas’ predecessor put the price tag for the new capital at $58 billion. Egypt’s finances have come under strain from an over-valued currency, a decline in remittances and surging debt repayment costs after heavy overseas borrowing. Reuters

Nigerian Journalists Dodged Attacks, Mourned Lost Colleagues As They Chased Stories In 2023
Three days after he was declared missing by his family, the corpse of Hamisu Danjibga, a long-serving broadcast journalist at the Voice of Nigeria (VON), was found in a soakaway pit a few metres from his residence at the Samaru Quarters in Zamfara, North West Nigeria. Danjibga, who reported extensively on the widespread insecurity in his state, was kidnapped on Sept. 18, but his abductors, according to the police, stabbed him to death when he tried to overpower them. “I felt terribly sad when my father was found dead. But whenever I remember that he died as a martyr, I feel a sense of relief,” said Surajo Danjibga, son of the deceased, who spoke to Daily Trust newspaper. Twenty-twenty-three was a tough year for Nigerian journalists. There were many instances of journalists getting harassed, threatened, or even paying the supreme price in the course of their work. HumAngle

‘We’re Playing Whac-a-Mole’: Why the Aid System Is Broken
Across the world, aid agencies are grappling with a funding shortage at a time when humanitarian needs are soaring. In 2023, the UN appealed for a record $51.5bn (£40.6bn) to help 339 million people, the most ever. So far it has received just 38.6% of that total. This is the worst funding gap the humanitarian system has faced: between 2016 and 2022 the UN’s appeals were 58% funded on average…Last year, unpredictable funding brought conflict-ridden Somalia to the brink of famine. Even though aid agencies had been sounding the alarm for more than a year, they only got the funds they needed to prevent a disaster at the last minute. By then, more than 43,000 people had already starved to death. The WFP, meanwhile, has slashed rations for millions of crisis-stricken people in Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, the DRC, Haiti and elsewhere…Conflict is by far the biggest driver of the explosion in humanitarian need. Not only has there been a wave of fresh conflicts, such as those in Ethiopia, Ukraine, Sudan and Gaza, wars are lasting longer. This causes greater economic disruption, inflicts more damage to infrastructure and requires lengthier, more expensive aid responses. On top of this instability are the effects of the climate crisis. In recent years, there have been droughts in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, while floods have ravaged Pakistan, South Sudan and Libya. In addition to creating new emergencies, extreme weather helps deepen existing ones: 70% of wars are in countries hit hard by the climate emergency, according to the IRC. The Guardian

Transatlantic Slavery Continued for Years after 1867, Historian Finds
Historians have generally assumed that the transatlantic slave trade ended in 1867, but it actually continued into the following decade, according to new research. Dr Hannah Durkin, an historian and former Newcastle University lecturer, has unearthed evidence that two slave ships landed in Cuba in 1872. One vessel, flying the Portuguese flag, had 200 captives aged from 10 to 40, and the second is believed to have been a US ship with 630 prisoners packed into its hold. Durkin said she found references in US newspapers from that year to the landings of these ships. “It shows how recently the slave trade ended. The thefts of people’s lives have been written out of history and haven’t been recorded”…Durkin said that, while Spain officially ended its slave trade in 1867, she had come across an account by the explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who had travelled to Benin and visited the slave port of Ouidah in 1873. He wrote of seeing 300 people locked in a barracoon, a slave pen, and noted that two slave ships had recently sailed from that port. Ouidah was the second-most important slave port in the whole of Africa, behind only Luanda, in Angola, Durkin said. “… Almost 2 million people, around one in six of all enslaved people sent to the Americas, are estimated to have been transported from the Bight of Benin”…Durkin’s research found that almost all the Clotilda [the last US ship of the Atlantic slave trade] survivors were Yoruba speakers from the same town in present-day south-west Nigeria, challenging previous conclusions that they were from a variety of locations in Benin and Nigeria. The Guardian

AFCON 2023: Full Schedule, Fixtures, Teams, Kick-Off Times
Ivory Coast will stage the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time after hosting the 1984 edition of the tournament. Much has changed since Cameroon secured their first AFCON title some 40 years ago with just eight nations participating in the 14th edition of the competition. Fast forward to 2024 and twenty four nations will participate at six stadiums in five Ivorian cities with the host nation kick-starting the competition on 13 January as the Elephants face Guinea-Bissau in Abidjan with the final set for 11 February. At the outset of the competition, current champions Senegal, Cameroon, Egypt and Morocco are the tournament favourites with the spotlight set to fall on greats such as Sadio Mané, Kalidou Koulibaly, Mohamed Salah, Victor Osimhen or Riyad Mahrez. The top two sides in each of the six groups will advance to the Round of 16 and will be joined by four of the best placed third placed teams. The competition then follows a direct knock-out format through to the 11 February final where the champion of Africa will be crowned at the 60,000 capacity Alassane Ouattara Stadium in the capital, Abidjan. AS