Africa Media Review for June 28, 2024

At Least 750,000 on Brink of Starvation and Death in Sudan, Experts Warn
At least 14 areas across [Sudan] are near famine, including some in the capital, Khartoum, according to the latest figures from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, a group of experts from U.N. bodies and major relief agencies that measures hunger and formally declares famine…In a report issued on Thursday, the group said that 25.6 million Sudanese, or over half the population, were in a food crisis. Of them, 8.5 million are acutely malnourished or scrambling to survive while 755,000 are in a “catastrophe” — essentially, famine conditions. When the group, known as the I.P.C., last issued estimates for Sudan in December, the number of people facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity was zero. The latest figures exceed even those of Gaza, where the group said on Tuesday that 495,000 people were in the same situation. The New York Times

Sudan Recalls Ambassador from Chad over Allegations of Supporting RSF
Sudan has recalled its ambassador to Chad, Osman Mohamed Younis, over escalating tensions concerning border control and alleged Chadian support for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Relations between the two nations have deteriorated following accusations from the Sudanese government that Chadian authorities are facilitating the external supply of military provisions to the RSF through channels near the border…This diplomatic row is not the first between the two nations. In December, Chad expelled four Sudanese diplomats over accusations of interference in their domestic conflict. Sudan reciprocated by expelling three Chadian diplomats. Furthermore, last March, Sudan’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Al-Harith Idris, accused Chad of becoming the primary supply line for the RSF, providing weapons, supplies, and mercenaries to fuel the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Sudan Tribune

Mauritania Goes to the Polls with a Regional Security Crisis and Economic Concerns among the Issues
Nearly 2 million people go to the polls on Saturday in Mauritania, a vast desert nation in West Africa which positions itself as a strategic ally of the West in a region swept by coups and violence, but has been denounced for rights abuses…The vote is taking place in a particularly tense regional climate, with Mauritania’s neighboring countries shaken by military coups and jihadi violence…[President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani] used his electoral campaign to highlight Mauritania’s security commitments, a message that experts believe is addressed first to the military juntas in neighboring countries and the Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group present in the region, but also to the jihadi groups, which have carried out incursions into Mauritanian villages. AP

South Africa: DA to Continue Talks with ANC amid Dispute over Cabinet Posts
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has resolved to persist with negotiations with the African National Congress (ANC) over the composition of the government of national unity (GNU), despite significant disagreements about Cabinet positions. A special Federal Executive (FedEx) meeting convened by the DA on Thursday evening aimed to address the latest impasse but concluded with a resolve to continue discussions over the weekend. Negotiations reached a critical juncture on Wednesday evening when the ANC proposed a new arrangement involving fewer portfolios for the DA, deviating from earlier discussions. This followed the DA’s readiness to accept seven ministerial and seven deputy ministerial positions in key departments. However, sources from both parties revealed that the ANC’s revised stance meant the DA would not gain control of significant departments within the economic cluster, leading to a deadlock. Daily Maverick

Kenyan Court Allows Military Deployment to Quell Protests
Kenya’s High Court has approved the use of military force to restore order, following days of anti-tax protests that at some point overwhelmed police. More than 20 people have reportedly been killed in the nationwide protests that are largely led by young people opposed to government plans to increase taxes. Armoured military vehicles patrolled streets in the capital, Nairobi, on Thursday as police fired tear gas to disperse protesters, who had threatened to storm the presidential palace. A judge said that the military deployment was critical to protect government installations but gave the authorities two days to clarify how long the deployment would last, along with its rules of engagement. “To deploy the military in a blanket manner without defining their scope of operation and the duration of their operation is a dangerous trend that can bring about militarisation of the country,” ruled Justice Lawrence Mugambi. BBC

After Dramatic Tax Win, Kenyan Protesters Plot Next Moves
Protesters say the finance bill President William Ruto abandoned on Wednesday was only a symptom of the problems plaguing a country where many young people face dwindling job prospects despite strong economic growth. The movement has little precedent in its mass mobilisation of Kenyans across ethnic and regional divisions while rejecting any kind of political leadership. Protests in Kenya have historically been led by elites, often ending in power-sharing deals that yielded few tangible benefits for demonstrators…Despite Ruto’s U-turn on the tax hikes, some protesters called for a planned march on the presidential residence to go ahead on Thursday in an attempt to force the president from power…In the end, there were protests in several cities, although they were smaller than on Tuesday. Reuters

Dozens Beaten, Some Arrested after Zimbabwe Opposition Leader Denied Bail
Zimbabwean police beat dozens of opposition supporters and arrested several outside a court in the capital Harare on Thursday, after Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party members were denied bail following their arrests two weeks ago. A Harare magistrate denied bail to the party’s interim leader Jameson Timba and 78 activists arrested on June 16 for holding a political gathering which authorities said was unauthorised. Timba took over as interim leader of the CCC after former leader Nelson Chamisa quit the party in January, alleging it had been hijacked by the ruling ZANU-PF party. Police anti-riot units guarded the entrance to the court and the arrests were made hours after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said those who were believed to be causing trouble would “be dealt with”. Reuters

South Sudan: With Time Fast Running Out, Very Little Clarity on Elections
The Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) has expressed concerns over the limited clarity on elections, with very little time left for the polls scheduled for December. On Thursday, the peace monitors convened its 36th monthly plenary in Juba to discuss the position of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity) and Parties over the conduct of elections as scheduled. At the meeting, the RJMEC chairperson Amb. Maj. Gen. Charles Tai Gituai gave a detailed status of implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS)…Amb Gituai stressed the importance of a permanent constitution, saying the process should achieve a people-led and people owned constitution. Sudan Tribune

CAR Opposition, Civil Society Call for Local Elections Boycott
The Central African Republic government has rejected calls from the opposition and civic society groups to postpone the country’s first local elections in more than 35 years. Opponents of the polls say funds are not available and security remains fragile at best, but the CAR government and the United Nations assert the October elections will help restore democracy and peace to the troubled state. The Central African Republic’s opposition and civil society groups say a day hardly goes by in the country without reports of rebels either killing civilians or abducting people for ransom…Opposition and civil society groups accuse CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadera of preparing to rig the local elections in favor of his party, the United Hearts Movement, or MCU. They say by organizing an August 2023 referendum to scrap a two-term limit and extend the presidential mandate from five to seven years, Touadera indicated he wants to consolidate power. VOA

Red Cross Envoy: Congo Conflict Has Worsened with Sharp Increases in Sexual Violence and Wounded
The decades-old conflict in Congo’s mineral-rich east has “drastically deteriorated” since early 2022, and gotten even worse since last October, with sharp increases in sexual violence, the number of wounded, and child recruitment, the top Red Cross official in the country said Wednesday. Francois Moreillon called Congo a “double-edged crisis,” with the last 30 years of conflict weakening the capacity of government, including at local levels, to deliver basic services such as water, education and food. When it came to protecting civilians, Moreillon said the crisis was “extremely acute.” Eastern Congo has struggled with armed violence as more than 120 groups fight for power, land and valuable mineral resources, while others try to defend their communities. Some armed groups have been accused of mass killings. AP

Congo Authorities Approve Mpox Vaccines to Try to Contain Outbreak
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have approved the use of two mpox vaccines to try to tackle an upsurge in cases and a dangerous new strain spreading in the country. Congo has seen 20,000 cases and more than 1,000 deaths from mpox, mainly among children, since the start of last year…This week, the World Health Organization (WHO) and scientists warned of a new, more deadly strain spreading in Congo’s South Kivu province. The regulator has issued an emergency-use authorisation for both Bavarian Nordic’s shot, Jynneos, and LC16, made by KM Biologics, according to documents and sources involved in the process…In the latest outbreak in Congo, national and international regulatory barriers, a lack of funding, competing disease outbreaks and stigma have held back the response. Reuters

West African Defense Chiefs Propose a $2.6 Billion Security Plan that Analysts Say Might Not Work
Defense chiefs of West Africa on Thursday proposed an ambitious plan to deploy a 5,000-strong “standby force” to fight the region’s worsening security crises, a measure that analysts say might not work due to challenges of funding and division within the regional bloc. The plan, which will cost $2.6 billion annually, was proposed to heads of state at a meeting of defense officials in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja. The plan was also aimed at preventing further coups following a string of military takeovers that have destabilized the region, Nigeria’s Defense Minister Mohammed Badaru said. Thursday’s meeting is the first time the bloc is mapping out publicly the financing of its long-talked-about standby force. However, analysts identified challenges it might face, including the shortage of funds from member states required to contribute money and securing the support of coup-hit countries most affected by the security crises. AP

Ethiopia: Tigray’s Women Rally against Ongoing Atrocities, Demand End to Gender Violence
A large demonstration was held [June 25] in Mekelle by women demanding an end to violence against women in the region. The protesters called for justice for victims of sexual violence, kidnappings, and other abuses…The demonstrators gathered at Romanat Sequer in Mekelle and marched to the office of the Tigray Interim Administration…According to a report by Refugees International, cited by Addis Standard in April 2023, an estimated 40-50% of Tigrayan girls and women experienced gender-based violence during the war. The report, based on extensive field research and interviews with victims and health workers in the Tigray region by Senior Fellow Sarah Miller, revealed a harrowing reality. Over 80% of these victims reported being raped, with nearly 70% experiencing brutal gang rape by armed groups. Addis Standard

South African Researchers Test Use of Nuclear Technology to Curb Rhino Poaching
Researchers in South Africa have injected radioactive material into the horns of 20 rhinos as part of a research project aimed at reducing poaching. The idea is that radiation detectors already in place at national borders would detect the horns and help authorities arrest poachers and traffickers. The research, which has included the participation of veterinarians and nuclear experts, begins with the animal being tranquilized before a hole is drilled into its horn and the nuclear material carefully inserted. This week, researchers at the University of the Witwatersrand ‘s Radiation and Health Physics Unit in South Africa injected 20 live rhinos with these isotopes. They hope the process can be replicated to save other wild species vulnerable to poaching — like elephants and pangolins. AP