Africa Media Review for June 23, 2023

Sierra Leone Gears Up for Crucial Election
Sierra Leone’s president, Julius Maada Bio, is seeking reelection in Saturday’s crucial general polls — the fifth since the country’s brutal 10-year civil war that left 50,000 people dead and hundreds of thousands displaced, and ended in 2002. Some 3.4 million eligible voters will choose a new president from a list of candidates which includes the incumbent Bio and 12 other contenders — although there are two distinct front runners. A former foreign affairs minister, Samura Kamara of the main opposition All People’s Congress Party (APC) is President Bio’s main opponent in Saturday’s poll. Both men contested the last election in 2018, with Bio emerging victorious following a runoff vote. Voters will also elect members of parliament and other local representatives on Saturday. In Sierra Leone, nearly 60% of the population of more than 7 million live in poverty. A rise in living costs has fuelled violence, the latest of which resulted in the death of dozens, including security forces, last year leading some people to call for President Bio to resign. DW

‘Fatal Blow’: Mali Rebels Warn against UN Peacekeepers’ Departure
The departure of a United Nations peacekeeping mission from Mali will strike a “fatal blow” to a peace accord and threaten stability across the region, a coalition of armed groups in the country’s north warned on Wednesday. Mali’s military government on Friday asked the peacekeeping force, known as MINUSMA, to leave “without delay,” a demand that followed years of fraying relations between the UN and Bamako’s military leadership. … But the coalition, the Permanent Strategic Framework for Peace, Security and Development (CSP-PSD), said in a statement on Wednesday that MINUSMA’s exit “without a credible alternative would constitute a threat to security in Mali and the whole region.” Al Jazeera

US Adjourned Sudan Talks on Wednesday Because Format Not Succeeding
The United States on Wednesday adjourned Sudan talks because the format was not succeeding in the way they wanted, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee said on Thursday. Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have brokered ceasefires between Sudan’s army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) at talks in Jeddah, but there have been reports of violations by both sides. “On Wednesday, yesterday, we adjourned those talks … because the format is not succeeding in the way that we want,” Phee told a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing on Thursday. … Phee said that while the ceasefires have not been fully effective, they have allowed the transmission of urgently needed humanitarian assistance. Phee called on other governments to join the United States in its sanctions, adding that the United Kingdom is considering doing so but that the European Union has been “rather slow” in making a decision to pursue sanctions. The United States is also in discussions with its Arab partners, Phee said. Reuters

Debt-Plagued Zambia Reaches Deal with China, Other Nations to Rework $6.3B in Loans, French Say
Zambia and its government creditors, including China, have reached a deal to restructure $6.3 billion in loans, the French government announced Thursday on the sidelines of a global finance summit in Paris. The agreement covers loans from countries including France, the UK, South Africa, Israel and India as well as China — Zambia’s biggest creditor at $4.1 billion of the total. The deal, announced by officials who spoke anonymously in accordance with the French government’s customary practices, may provide a roadmap for how China will handle restructuring deals with other nations in debt distress. The International Monetary Fund approved the deal, meaning it’s going to allow Zambia to receive more financing from the institution, the French said. AP

Senegal Opposition Leader Sonko’s Lawyer Files a Lawsuit in France and Calls for an ICC Inquiry
A lawyer for embattled Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko filed a criminal complaint in a French court on Thursday and also called for the International Criminal Court to investigate the Senegalese government’s recent deadly crackdown on protesters. The 168-page document accuses President Macky Sall and others of “crimes against humanity.” It comes in the wake of deadly protests earlier this month, sparked by criminal charges against Sonko that critics believe were politically motivated. The court filing, which was presented at a news conference on Thursday in Paris, details 50 deaths since March 2021. It names Senegal’s president, interior minister, the head of police, along with more than 100 other Senegalese and French officials, as being complicit in “politically motivated violence against unarmed demonstrators, activists, journalists, lawyers and ordinary citizens.” … Sonko, who placed third in Senegal’s 2019 presidential election and is popular with the country’s youth, also has called on the incumbent president to state publicly that he won’t seek a third term in office. But Sall hasn’t yet done so. AP

$2.7 Billion to Decarbonize Senegal
A group of wealthy nations and multilateral development banks have promised to mobilize $2.7 billion to help Senegal reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, Senegalese President Macky Sall said on Thursday, June 22. “Senegal has committed to increasing the share of electricity generated by renewable energy to 40% by 2030 with financing to the order of $2.7 billion,” Sall told a roundtable at the two-day Summit for a New Global Financing Pact in Paris. Currently, just over 30% of power comes from renewable sources in Senegal, but that is based on “unfavorable loans,” Sall said. The deal with Senegal, underwritten by France, Germany, Britain, Canada, and the European Union, is the most recent in a series of so-called just energy transition partnerships. Le Monde with AFP

Cnooc Plans Offshore Oil, Gas Exploration in Tanzania
China’s Cnooc Ltd. is planning offshore oil and gas exploration with state-owned Tanzania Petroleum Development Corp. as the East African nation seeks to boost the development of its natural resources. The joint work will be conducted in deep-sea blocks 4/1B and 4/1C held by TPDC, according to Tanzanian Energy Minister January Makamba. The acreage is located near large gas fields discovered by a consortium of international energy companies led by Equinor ASA, Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. that plan to build a $42 billion liquefied natural gas terminal. “There is also an agreement in the works” between Tanzania and Cnooc to do seismic studies in unassigned blocks before a licensing round next year, Makamba said by phone from China on Wednesday after talks with senior officials at Cnooc. Tanzania wants to launch an oil and gas licensing round in the first quarter of 2024 to bring in more investors as European nations move to diversify energy sources and cut reliance on Russian gas. The search for hydrocarbons in Africa has grown steadily since a slump in 2020, when just a single drill was operating in African waters. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan revived negotiations with oil majors for the onshore LNG terminal and has introduced economic reforms. Talks wrapped up in May, paving the way for agreements to be signed for the project. Bloomberg

Nigeria Seeks UN’s Support on Recovery, Stabilisation of Lake Chad Basin
The Federal Government has called on the United Nations and development partners to strengthen support towards the implementation of a regional strategy for stabilisation, recovery and resilience of areas affected by terrorism in the Lake Chad Basin. The National Coordinator, National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Yaminu Musa, made the call at the ongoing 3rd UN Counter-Terrorism Week in New York. … According to the national coordinator, the reintegration of the vast number of repentant and low-risk individuals associated with Boko Haram and ISWAP poses a significant new challenge for the government of Nigeria. He said there was a need for more international support to address the menace. Mr Musa, a retired major general, said the Nigerian government had in the last six years since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2349, undertaken several responses to address the impact of Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. He said the efforts had guided the 2022 Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act, the 2019 National Security Strategy, the 2017 National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, as well as the 2016 National Counter Terrorism Strategy. NAN

They Fled the War in Nigeria’s Northeast. Then Bulldozers Levelled Their Homes at a Camp in Abuja
… Islamic extremist rebels launched an insurgency there in 2009 to fight against Western education and to establish Islamic law, or Sharia, in the region. At least 35,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced due to the violence by the militant Boko Haram group and a breakaway faction backed by the Islamic State group, according to U.N. agencies. Since the demolition of Durumi in December, Andruwus and hundreds of others who had lived in the camp, have been forced to spend their nights out in the open and under the rain — with no compensation or alternative shelter provided by authorities. Slums and shantytowns are often targeted in rampant demolitions across Africa’s most populous country, and especially in Abuja. … the latest demolitions have evicted some of the most vulnerable people in the city, further worsening a housing crisis caused by high rents and growing demand, activists say. The situation has led activists to mount a pressure campaign on authorities to provide alternative shelter or at least compensate the homeless, many of whom are among the poorest in the country. AP

Kenya: President Ruto Vows to Defend Independence of the Media
President William Ruto has weighed in on the ongoing debate over the remarks by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria directed at the media. The remarks disparaging the Nation Media Group following the expose’ over the edible oil scandal has sparked mixed reactions, with media organizations and rights groups expressing concern over the potential threats to press freedom. Speaking Wednesday in Naivasha, President Ruto said that in as much as the rights of the media needs to be protected, the rights of those who call out the media should equally be safeguarded. Speaking in Naivasha on Wednesday, President Ruto emphasized the importance of protecting both the rights of the media and the rights of those who criticize the media. CapitalFM

Kenya to Launch Biggest School Meals Programme in Africa
The largest school meals programme in Africa is to begin in Nairobi this August, in a drive to “eliminate the shame of hunger in [Kenya].” Ten new kitchens, now under construction, will provide 400,000 daily lunches for children in 225 primary schools and Early Childhood Development centres in the Kenyan capital. The programme will start on 28 August, the first day of the autumn term, and the kitchens will employ 3,500 people. The $8.6m (£6.7m) initiative is a collaboration between Nairobi County and Food4Education, a Kenyan not-for-profit organisation that already supplies meals to 150,000 primary schoolchildren in the city. Guardian