Africa Media Review for July 12, 2022

Kenyan Elections—Another Test in the Country’s Democratic Journey
Kenyans will vote in August in their fifth presidential elections since the introduction of multiparty politics in 1991. The competitiveness of the elections, and uncertainty over the outcome, distinguishes Kenya from many of its neighbors. President Uhuru Kenyatta is stepping down, following the completion of his constitutionally limited two terms in office. This, too, makes the Kenyan elections noteworthy, given the recent trend of African leaders sidestepping term limits as a means of extending their time in power—to the detriment of stability. Rather, Kenya has a tradition of transfers of power even between candidates from opposing parties. Still, elections in Kenya remain a period of high tension. Kenyans recall the large-scale violence that erupted after the 2007 elections when supporters of Raila Odinga, and his then running mate, William Ruto fought over what Odinga’s side saw as an effort by President Mwai Kibaki and his top lieutenants including (current President) Uhuru Kenyatta, to “steal” the election. The Rift Valley was engulfed in deadly violence pitting the Luo and Kalenjin communities—respectively loyal to Odinga and Ruto—against Kenya’s largest ethnic community, the Kikuyu, from which Kibaki and Kenyatta hail. Over 3,000 people were killed, and 600,000 uprooted. Many remain displaced today. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Tunisia’s Scarred Economy Dealt Further Blow by War in Ukraine
At a grocery shop in a rundown district of central Tunis, Khaola, a civil servant, bemoaned recurring shortages of basic foods and the soaring prices that have forced her to stop buying meat and fruit. “There was a period when you could not find flour or semolina, now it’s better but they only give you two packets,” said the divorced mother of two teenagers. “There is no sugar, and rice is scarce. Prices are so high, I can no longer afford meat or tuna and I haven’t bought fruit for a month.” The Ukraine war has dealt a severe blow to Tunisia’s economy which was badly scarred by coronavirus and had been moribund for years before the pandemic. Increases in global food and energy prices sparked by the conflict pushed inflation up to a record 8.1 per cent in June, adding to the burden on a population which has seen its living standards plummet over the past decade since Tunisia’s 2011 revolution against autocratic rule. Economic growth averaged an anaemic 1.8 per cent in the years between 2011 and 2020, when the economy contracted by 9.3 per cent as a result of the pandemic. It is expected to grow 2.5 per cent this year but unemployment stands at 16.8 per cent, hitting 38.5 per cent among the young.  High prices for wheat and oil imports have piled pressure on the strained public finances of a heavily indebted government which subsidises bread and fuel for its 12mn people. Financial Times

Britain Voices Concern over Russian Negative Activities in Sudan
Britain has voiced concern over the growing involvement of the Russian private military company, the Wagner Group in gold mining and disinformation to destabilise the democratic transition in Sudan. UK Lords recently asked about the position of the British government towards the involvement of Russian companies in misinformation campaigns and gold mining in Sudan. In response to the Lords’ concerns on July 11, the Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park told the upper house he repeatedly made clear UK concerns over negative Russian activities in Africa including Sudan. “Senior FCDO officials raised our concerns directly with Sudan’s military leadership in Khartoum on 3 March,” he disclosed. The Khartoum-based diplomats of the Troika countries,  the UK, Norway and the U.S., also published an op-ed on 21 March highlighting how Russian malign influence and Wagner Group activities in Sudan spread disinformation, and undermine good governance and the rule of law, he further added. The French government several times expressed to the Sudanese authorities concern about Wagner activities in the Central African Republic as they support the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary force led by the deputy head of the Sovereign Council. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Junta Leader El Burhan Names Retired Army, Police Generals as Ambassadors
The head of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces, and leader of the military junta, Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan, has appointed five retired police and army officers as ambassadors at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in preparation for their dispatch to a number of neighbouring countries. According to the news reported by Sudan Tribune, El Burhan named Lt Gen Jamal Gasm El Sid, Lt-Gen Fateh Saleh Mohamed, Lt Gen Ibrahim Mohamed Ahmed, Police Lt Gen Osman Younis and Police Maj Gen Bushra Idris. as ambassadors. Mohamed has appeared since the coup d’état on October 25 last year on satellite channels as a strategic expert defending the El Burhan regime. Gasm El Sid is former director of the General Intelligence Service, an army officer who, according to informed sources, is likely to assume the duties of the embassy in Juba. The destination of Younes is expected to be Chad. Idris is expected to be ambassador to the Central African Republic, according to the sources. Salih Mohamed and Mohamed Ahmed are presumed to serve in Eritrea and Libya. Dabanga

SRF Is Keen on FFC but Calls for Military’s Participation in Sudan Dialogue
Hadi Idris, Head of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) dismissed Monday reports about their plans to break away from the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and also stressed the need to include the military component in the dialogue process. Press reports on Monday claimed that the alliance of the armed groups signatory of the Juba peace deal would quit the FFC coalition because they reject the contested deal which in the final analysis led some signatories to forge a pact with the military against the forces of the revolution. However, Idris swiftly dismissed the report saying it was “pure lies” stressing the SRF’s keenness to maintain and consolidate their relationship with the mainstream of the FFC…On July 10, Khalid Omer Youssif of the Sudanese Congress Party and leading FFC member dismissed allegations about their rejection of the Juba Peace Agreement saying the coalition has the most objective position for the peace pact. The FFC calls to review some points in the deal which was negotiated by the military and the armed groups, due to the frailty of the former prime minister who had to hold the process. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Suspends Dredging of Naam River, Sudd Wetlands
South Sudan’s president ordered the suspension Saturday of all dredging-related activities in the country until evidence-based studies are carried out on their impact on surrounding communities and the ecosystems they rely on. Salva Kiir Mayardit’s announcement, which was made during his address on the country’s 11th independence anniversary, means the dredging project on the Bahr el Ghazal-Naam river, approved by the cabinet last year, and the century-old Jonglei canal project will now be halted. In May, Unity State government received dredging equipment from Egypt for the project on the Naam river, claiming it would reduce the flooding that displaced thousands in the state. This was met with strong criticism from environmentalists, citizens and activists who said that the plan would result in environmental and economic catastrophe, drying up the country’s White Nile river and the Sudd wetlands which farmers and local wildlife rely on. AP

DR Congo Becomes Full-Fledged Member State of East African Community
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is now an official member of the East African Community (EAC) after depositing instruments of ratification on the accession of the EAC Treaty with the bloc’s secretariat. At a function held at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, on Monday, the DR Congo delegation led by its Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen’ Apala, completed its final step in joining the regional bloc. “This is a formalisation of a situation that has always been in existence. Somehow we can say the DRC joined their people,” said Mr Apala Pen’ Apala. “In the name of the DRC, all the institutions and the people of Congo, we totally trust the EAC.” He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to being part of the Community and joining the various areas of cooperation in all the sectors, programmes and activities that promote the four pillars of regional integration — the Customs Union, Common Market Protocol, Monetary Union and the Political Federation. East African

Somali Real Estate Boom Gives Mogadishu Residents Money Headaches
“Sometimes even paying a deposit does not secure you the property you want. Mogadishu of today is not Mogadishu of [a] few years ago,” Mumtaz adds as more would-be tenants trickle in the small waiting area. With a budget of $350 a month, Mumtaz is not too hopeful. “Three or four years ago, I will have found a four-bedroom villa in the nicest area of the city with that money,” she said. Since August 2011, when the al-Qaeda-linked armed group al-Shabab was pushed out of the seaside city, the Somali capital has been enjoying the relative calm. The city’s skyline is changing fast with brand new multistorey apartment buildings replacing the bullet-scarred houses. Sounds of hammers and cement mixers are a common feature for residents of the city. “If you look anywhere in Mogadishu, you will see they are building new apartments. But that has not made it cheaper or affordable,” Mumtaz said. With the armed group out of sight and a shaky political truce holding between the warring elites, people are flocking back into the city. Al Jazeera

Mali Authories: 49 Ivory Coast Soldiers Arrested
Malian authorities arrested nearly 50 soldiers from Ivory Coast who came to Mali to work for a contracting company of the United Nations mission in Mali. The government made the announcement Monday calling the Ivorian soldiers “mercenaries,” in a move that could raise tensions between the two West African countries. Two aircraft arrived at Mali’s international airport Sunday with the 49 soldiers “with their weapons and ammunition of war, as well as other military equipment,” said Malian government spokesman Col. Abdoulaye Maiga. They “were illegally on the national territory of Mali,” and the transitional government considers them mercenaries, he added. U.N. mission spokesman Olivier Salgado said these Ivorian soldiers “are not part of one of the MINUSMA contingents, but have been deployed for several years in Mali as part of logistical support on behalf of one of our contingents.” He said that their arrival as relief would have been communicated beforehand to the national authorities. They are working for a German company that is contracted by the U.N. mission known as the Sahelian Aviation Services. AfricaNews

Nigeria Jailbreak Raises More Questions over Insecurity
Nigerian authorities on Monday admitted shortcomings in security at a jail in the nation’s capital after an attack that resulted in the escape of hundreds of inmates last week. The jailbreak in the Kuje area of Abuja led to the escape of 879 inmates, including 64 members of the Islamic State West Africa Province extremist group which claimed responsibility for the attack. The Islamic State-linked group is an offshoot of the Boko Haram militant group which has launched a decade-long insurgency in northeast Nigeria. One of the escapees from Kuje prison was arrested on Monday, Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency said, but with at least 400 inmates still on the run, authorities are expanding the search to neighboring states. Nigeria is synonymous with jailbreaks which have become more rampant in recent years but it was the first time during that period that Abuja is being targeted, leaving many shocked and in fear over how safe they are as the West African nation battles a cycle of violence blamed on Islamic extremists and on armed groups mostly in the country’s troubled north. AP

Spanish Court Permits Autopsy on Ex-Angolan Leader dos Santos
A Spanish court has ruled that an autopsy be performed on the body of Angola’s former president José Eduardo dos Santos, who died in a clinic in Barcelona on Friday, a court spokeswoman said. She said the court had granted the request of a family member for the autopsy, which was yet to take place, but provided no further details. The Carmen Varela family law firm representing dos Santos’s daughter Tchizé dos Santos, said earlier she had asked for her father’s body to be kept in Spain for a full autopsy due to alleged “suspicious circumstances of his death”, without providing evidence. According to the office of Angolan President João Lourenço, his predecessor, who stepped down five years ago, died at the Teknon clinic in Barcelona where he was being treated following a prolonged illness. He was 79. The clinic declined to comment on the request for an autopsy or the details of his death. The elder dos Santos had been receiving medical treatment since 2019. In June, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported he was in intensive care in Barcelona, citing a source close to him, as the Angolan government said the former leader’s health had deteriorated. Al Jazeera

Suffer the Children: Ethiopia, Mozambique Named in UN Report on Children in Hostile Zones
Ethiopia and Mozambique joined the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic and Somalia as African hotspots in the annual United Nations (UN) report on Children and Armed Conflict. The report details the “horrific conditions” in conflict zones from events and data collected in 2021. It said Ethiopia and Mozambique were added to the report “as situations of concern, reflecting the dramatic impact of hostilities on children in these areas.” The report outlined issues linked to “conflict escalation, military coups and takeovers, protracted and new conflicts, as well as violations of international law.” “Cross-border conflict and intercommunal violence also impacted the protection of children, especially in the Lake Chad Basin and Central Sahel regions.” There’s an ongoing armed insurgency waged by Islamic extremists in the gas-oil-rich Cabo Delgado province, which has resulted in mass displacement, and has created a complex humanitarian crisis in one of Mozambique’s poorest regions. According to Unicef, in May this year, over 23 000 people were displaced, of which 51% were children. Since the start of the insurgency in November 2017, almost a million people have been displaced. In Ethiopia’s Tigray province, there’s a civil war that began in November 2020, which has resulted in the blockage of the province and it is now cut off from the outside world. Unicef estimates that 400 000 children are malnourished as a result of the war that has affected agriculture and socio-economic activities. Despite a mini truce put in place in April, not enough relief aid is reaching the area. Somalia and the DRC account for the worst cases of violations in Africa for 2021. News24

In Tanzania, the Maasai May Lose Their Land – Again
[Listen] In the shadow of Serengeti National Park, some 70,000 people may soon lose the land that is their home. They’re Maasai, an indigenous semi-nomadic people living alongside safari tours and game hunters. The Tanzanian government says an area where they live, Loliondo, is overpopulated and that it is threatening a precious ecosystem famed for its wild animals. It looks like a classic case of human vs animal – but the animals are also attractive to trophy hunters, and for the Maasai, the story goes much deeper. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones