Africa Media Review for June 18, 2024

Malawi’s Vice President Laid to Rest as President Calls for an Independent Probe into His Death
Malawi Vice President Saulos Chilima was laid to rest Monday in his village south of the capital, following a funeral where President Lazarus Chakwera called for an independent probe into his death in a plane crash. Chilima and nine other people died in the plane crash last week in Malawi’s northern region of Mzimba…In his address, Chakwera called for an independent investigation into the crash…Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and forest rangers had searched for more than 24 hours before the wreckage was discovered in a forest plantation south of Mzuzu…He said that the Malawi Defense Force cannot conduct an investigation “that can be credible on its own, which is why we need an independent investigation.” He did not elaborate…The Chilima family also called for an independent probe. AP

South Africa: Five-Party Pact — PA and Good Join Government of National Unity
Two more political parties, the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and Good, have signed the government of national unity (GNU) statement of intent, taking the GNU above the two-thirds majority required in the National Assembly to change the Constitution. The GNU now comprises five political parties: the ANC, DA, IFP, PA and Good. The collective holds 273 of 400 seats in the National Assembly or 68% of the seats. However, it is still looking at roping in more political parties, including the Freedom Front Plus, which appears to be eager to co-govern. FF+ spokesperson Wouter Wessels confirmed the party had been approached by the ANC on Friday and had received the statement of intent. Daily Maverick

Putin Congratulates South Africa’s Ramaphosa on Re-election, an Indication of Warm Ties
Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin congratulated South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa on his re-election as president on Monday, reflecting continued good relations with Pretoria despite uncertainty over Moscow’s more than two-year-old invasion of Ukraine…Russia and Ukraine have jostled for support from African nations since the 2022 invasion, with each country’s foreign minister embarking on several regional tours…South Africa’s longstanding links with Moscow – as with a number of African states – date back to Soviet times, when Moscow was a prominent backer of liberation movements and the fight to end apartheid, spearheaded by the ANC. South Africa initially denounced Russia’s February 2022 invasion, but has since adopted a more nuanced position, including abstaining in several votes in the U.N. General Assembly condemning Russian actions. Reuters

Sudan Conflict Forces More than 40,000 People into Libya
Over 40,000 Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers have arrived in Libya following outbreak of conflict in Sudan, the United Nations said. A statement from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) also warned of an impending humanitarian disaster if aid is not urgently provided to those in need. Urgently required, the agency said in its latest bulletin, are needs for health and mental health services, food, shelter, household goods for the homeless, and logistical support….[T]o address the needs for Sudanese refugees in multiple locations, WFP enhanced its emergency food assistance contingency stocks by prepositioning 83 metric tons in both the Libyan capital, Tripoli and in the town of Benghazi…The estimated total number of Sudanese refugees in Libya’s Kufra city is 45,000. Authorities, however, say it is difficult to know the exact number of these displaced people due to the continuing waves of people coming from war-torn Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Uganda Hosts Thousands of Sudanese Refugees: UN
Uganda is welcoming increasing numbers of Sudanese arrivals – over 33,000 people, 19,000 of whom have arrived in Kampala since the start of 2024, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said…Most Sudanese arrivals are from Khartoum, and many have a university-level education. Including the Sudanese, on average 2,500 people arrive in Uganda every week, mainly from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, primarily driven by ongoing conflicts and climate-related challenges. The continuous influx of refugees is not making the headlines, but combined with funding shortfalls, puts significant pressure on protection and assistance services provided to refugees and their host communities, risking Uganda’s solid protection regime and refugee response model…For decades, Uganda has been at the forefront of assisting refugees and has been a beacon of stability in the region, embracing progressive policies that exemplify the Global Compact on Refugees, allowing refugees to have land and freedom of movement and to reside in urban areas provided they can support themselves. Sudan Tribune

Central African Republic Faces Increased Rebel Activity and Spillover from Sudan War, UN Experts Say
Activities of armed groups in the volatile Central African Republic have increased, complicating a security landscape that has seen a spillover of the conflict in neighboring Sudan, U.N. experts warn in a new report. The panel of experts cite confirmed reports of air raids by the Sudanese military around border areas and of fighters from the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces crossing over to recruit from armed groups in the Central African Republic…The expert panel, which monitors sanctions on mercenaries and armed groups in the Central African Republic, said the U.N. had registered almost 10,700 Sudanese refugees who had fled across the border by late March. It said 565 new refugees, the vast majority women and children, arrive at the Korsi refugee camp in the northern city of Birao every week. AP

Africa’s Tragedy of Displacement Rises Highest in Two-Decade Period
In Africa, global trends show, that the root causes of displacement are human rights violations, risk of persecution, conflict, poor governance and loss of livelihoods…The report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRC): Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2023, shows that, overall, the world has reported 117.3 million people as displaced. The number could rise to 124 million “as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, human rights violations or events seriously disturbing public order.” And Africa has contributed the biggest number of displacements in the past year, even though it has fewer conflicts now compared to 20 years ago…Globally, there are some 43.4 million refugees including 31.6 million directly under UNHCR protection. But that is half the picture. Most of the people forced to leave their homes may remain within their country. The world now has 68.3 million Internally Displaced People (IDPs). That means one in five people are displaced, and most live in poor countries. The EastAfrican

‘I would be beheaded’: Islamist insurgency flares in Mozambique
More than 700 people fled this latest round of fighting [in May] in Macomia, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Those who stayed behind…have been left with no medical facilities, no electricity, and live in constant fear of another attack. It was the latest resurgence of the violence that had declined as security forces, backed by troops from neighbouring states, seemed to be getting the situation under control. But now, many of those troops are being withdrawn. The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) mission, made up of about 2,000 soldiers from eight countries, has said it will withdraw its forces from Mozambique by 15 July, and not extend its three-year mandate. Regional security experts have warned that this may be too early, as the area remains unstable…South Africa, which currently contributes more than 1,000 soldiers to the peacekeeping efforts, has said it will keep its troops in Mozambique until the end of 2024, but not as part of the Sadc mission…On the other hand, Rwanda, which is not part of Sadc but has supported Mozambique, announced it will send an additional 2,000 troops to the country…[I]nsurgents have killed hundreds of people, displaced communities and burnt towns and villages. They have been fighting for control of the region that is rich in natural gas and minerals such as hydrocarbons, graphite and rubies. BBC

Al-Shabab Reverses Somali Force Gains, Is Working with Houthis in Somalia
Al-Shabab has reversed all Somali National Army gains made over the last two years and is now working with the Houthi militant group to expand its capabilities, according to senior U.S. defense officials…The official said that the Houthi militants in Yemen view this “nascent” collaboration as a means “to be taken more seriously” as they try to pose a threat to American and British vessels outside the Red Sea…Guled Ahmed, a Horn of Africa scholar at the Middle East Institute, said the Houthis, with help from the Iranian government, aim to establish a new front in the Indian Ocean where al-Shabab can receive advanced missiles and drones. He said the Houthis have already sent three engineers to al-Shabab in southern Somalia to help build sophisticated weapons and bombs for the al-Qaida affiliate…Another senior U.S. defense official said the reversals by al-Shabab are a clear sign that some enabling support must remain once the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) ends. VOA

Benin Sentences 3 Nigeriens amid Diplomatic Spat
A Benin court on Monday handed 18-month suspended jail sentences to three Nigeriens at the center of a diplomatic dispute as tensions escalate between the West African neighbors. Ties between Benin and Niger have been strained since last year’s coup ousted Nigerien President Mohammed Bazoum, and Benin’s Atlantic port of Seme-Kpodji, which exports landlocked Niger’s oil, has become a flashpoint. Five Nigeriens were arrested earlier this month at Seme-Kpodji, accused of entering the port illegally. On Monday, Benin’s Court for the Repression of Economic Offenses and Terrorism (CRIET) sentenced three of them to 18 months in prison suspended, an AFP correspondent said. Moumouni Hadiza Ibra, Deputy General Director of Wapco-Niger — a local affiliate of a Chinese company operating a pipeline from Niger to Benin’s coast — and two of her compatriots were jailed after their initial arrest…The court on Monday reclassified the charges as “usurpation of title and use of falsified computer data.” AFP

In Burundi, Shortages and Power Cuts Slow a Return from International Isolation
A deadly nationwide political crackdown in [Burundi] is now in the past. But the return to international favor, and benefits like development assistance that come with it, has been slow…[A]n electricity shortage is hitting the hardest, slowing attempts at economic recovery…The years of being relatively offline from some key international partners have taken a toll…Burundi has few exports and is heavily reliant on donor support, making its international relations key…Government authorities blame the power outages on obsolete equipment that dates to the 1960s. A new hydroelectric power plant under construction in the northwestern province of Cibitoke would add 20 megawatts to the national grid. Two more hydroelectric power plants under construction would add a total of 76 megawatts to the grid when they are commissioned later this year, according to the state-owned utility company known as Regideso. AP

Kenya to Host Second US-African Nuclear Summit
Kenya will in August host the second nuclear forum between the US and Africa as the country gears up to join the league of nations generating part of their electricity from nuclear power. The forum will attract top officials from the US nuclear energy sector to offer more insights on the technology besides pursuing possible engagement agreements as more African countries seek to pursue power generation from nuclear plants. Kenya plans to set up a nuclear power plant and has already picked Kilifi, at the Coast, as the preferred host of the maiden nuclear power plant with the alternative being the neighbouring Kwale…South Africa is the only African country currently generating electricity from a nuclear power plant. Egypt is also setting up plants with a capacity of 4,400 mega watt energy (MWe). Kenya and Ghana are racing to build nuclear power plants. Kenya has set an ambitious target of commencing the construction of a nuclear power plant in 2027 and commissioning it by 2034. The EastAfrican

Production Starts at Senegal’s First Offshore Oil Field
Senegal joined the club of oil-producing countries on Tuesday as Australian group Woodside Energy announced that production had started in the West African country’s first offshore project. While Senegal’s fossil fuel output is not expected to be as high as that of bigger producers such as Nigeria, there are hopes the oil and gas industry will bring billions of dollars in revenue to the country and contribute to transforming its economy…The floating facility is moored about 100km offshore. The vessel has a storage capacity of 1.3  million barrels, Woodside said. The deepwater project aims to produce 100  000 barrels of oil a day. The field also contains natural gas…Senegalese President Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who took office in April, has announced the renegotiation of oil and gas contracts as part of reforms he promised during the election campaign. AFP