Africa Media Review for March 1, 2023

Nigeria’s Tinubu Wins Presidential Election; Opposition Cries Foul
Former Lagos governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu has won Nigeria’s presidential election, officials said early Wednesday, marking a victory for the ruling party despite the unpopularity of its outgoing president, Muhammadu Buhari. The opposition, including the campaigns of outsider candidate Peter Obi and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, has vowed to contest the results, saying that a new election should be held under a new elections chief. … Hours before the results were announced Tuesday, the opposition alleged widespread technological problems, delays in poll openings on Election Day, violence and voter intimidation, and manipulation of results. Pockets of protest, including in the capital, Abuja, emerged Tuesday, and political analysts warned it could spread. Leaders of the opposition and ruling parties urged calm. Tinubu, 70, known as a kingmaker in Nigerian politics, received 36 percent of more than 24 million votes cast, according to results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). … Turnout was lower than in 2019, according to election officials, with 27 percent of people casting ballots Saturday compared with 35 percent four years ago. Nigeria, a country of 220 million, usually has low turnout for its elections, but analysts warned it could be even lower this year because of a nationwide cash shortage caused by a currency redesign. Washington Post

Nigerian President-Elect Bola Tinubu Strikes Unified Tone
Tinubu, 70, struck a unified tone while speaking to the nation for the first time after his victory in Saturday’s election. “Together, we shall build a brighter and more productive society for today, tomorrow and for years to come,” he said from a packed party headquarters in the capital, Abuja. … In succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari, who ends his tenure in May, Tinubu will inherit a multitude of crises that have plagued Africa’s most populous nation for years. Despite being the continent’s largest economy and a top oil producer, Nigeria has been marred by violence with extremist attacks in the north, separatist clashes in the south, as well as endemic corruption, soaring inflation, unemployment and poverty. … Nigerian politicians have a history of overpromising during campaigns and under-delivering when in power, Nigeria experts say. “After elections, they spend so much time complaining about the wrath they’ve seen and why it is difficult for them to meet the expectations of the same Nigerians they promised heaven and earth,” said Chris Kwaja, the U.S. Institute of Peace’s interim country manager for Nigeria. AP

Civil Society Groups Rise To Safeguard Sudan’s Shaky Transition To Democracy
The North African country stands on the cusp of change. It is at a juncture where it can either slip back into the tribulations of the past or advance into a bright democratic future. And while there have been many events since al-Bashir’s toppling that compel pessimism, there’s also been a lot of reasons to be hopeful. One is the rise of civil society groups like Alassam’s. Mohamed Nagi Alassam, 32, spent many years studying to become a physician, but today he only practices “from time to time”. What could be more important than treating the sick and saving lives? Perhaps, rescuing a nation of 46 million people from the grip of despots. In Aug. 2021, Alassam co-founded Beam Reports with two friends. Events surrounding the revolution made it clear to him that the media scene in Sudan needed something different. He explains that the shortcomings in the sector were a result of deliberate policies by the al-Bashir regime targeted at the media and civil society. A lot of the newsrooms are controlled or partly owned by the military powers or people who benefit from and support the ruling class. … The [Beam Reports] media group has various departments. With Sudalytica, one of the units, it collects and analyses public opinion as a way to generate more grassroots data, which is lacking in the country. It also publishes a lot of social and political analyses. Finally, it fact-checks under a unit it calls Beam Observatory. The newsroom was founded at a time when the Sudanese authorities pushed disinformation as a way to quell the uprising. HumAngle

Gabon Summit Promotes Worth of Tropical Rainforests 
A two-day conference to highlight the key environmental role and value of the world’s rainforests got underway in Gabon Wednesday, backed by several leaders of tropical countries. “Forests potentially represent 20-30 percent of the solution to climate change,” Gabon’s minister of waters and forests, British-born Lee White, said in opening remarks. Long recognized as a haven of biodiversity, tropical forests are increasingly acknowledged also as a buffer against climate change. Vegetation absorbs carbon dioxide under the natural process of photosynthesis, making forests a shield against climate-altering carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. But they are also at threat, especially from loggers. Between 2015 and 2020, around 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of forests were destroyed annually, according to United Nations figures. AFP

France’s Macron to Tout ‘Responsible Relationship’ with Africa on Four-Nation Tour
President Emmanuel Macron kicks off a tour of Central Africa on Wednesday in a diplomatic drive to test out a new “responsible relationship” with the continent as anti-French sentiment runs high in some former colonies. He will first stop in Gabon for an environmental summit, before heading to Angola then the Republic of Congo – also known as Congo-Brazzaville – and finally neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Macron’s trip comes as alarm grows in Paris over Russia’s rising influence in French-speaking African countries, alongside Chinese jockeying for position, which has been visible for some years. In Gabon, he will attend the One Forest Summit on preserving forests worldwide, including along the vast Congo River basin. Paris has also accused Russia of spreading disinformation to undermine French interests on the continent. Macron on Monday said the military would reduce its footprint on the continent in the coming months, turning French outposts there into training academies or “partner” bases with more African forces. AFP

Hundreds Massacred in Ethiopia Even as Peace Deal Was Being Reached
Just days before a deal to end the war in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, soldiers from neighboring Eritrea last fall massacred more than 300 villagers over the course of a week, according to witnesses and victims’ relatives. Eritrean forces, allied with Ethiopian government troops, had been angered by a recent battlefield defeat and took their revenge in at least 10 villages east of the town of Adwa during the week before the Nov. 2 peace deal, witnesses said, providing accounts horrifying even by the standards of a conflict defined by mass killings of civilians. The massacres, which have not been previously reported outside the Tigray region, were described in interviews with 22 relatives of the dead, including 15 who witnessed the killings or their immediate aftermath. They spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. … The agreement between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels brought about a cease fire in a two-year war that had made northern Ethiopia one of the deadliest places in the world. But the deal did not address the status of Eritrean troops. Neither the Ethiopian nor Eritrean government has made any public statement on how Eritrean soldiers who perpetrated mass killings like the most recent one near Adwa could be brought to justice. Washington Post

Militants Kidnap 25 Youths in Northern DR Congo
Unidentified militants have kidnapped 25 young people in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo, an administrative official said on Tuesday, during attacks on several villages in the region. Gunmen raided three villages in the Banda area of Bas-Uele province in the early hours of Tuesday morning, said Marcellin Mazale Lekabusiya, a local government administrator. Details about the attack are hazy, but Lekabusiya said the militants kidnapped 25 people aged between 12 and 18. Seven of those abducted were girls. In a telephone interview, the administrator also explained that the gunmen had released the adults they had captured. AFP

Rebel Clashes Flare in East DR Congo despite Pull-Out Plan
M23 rebels continued fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local sources said on Tuesday, the day they were due to begin withdrawing from their positions under a regional plan. On February 17, East African leaders urged all non-state armed groups to withdraw from the territory they occupy in eastern Congo by March 30. The withdrawal was intended to take place in three stages, with the initial phase to begin on February 28. … On Monday, the Tutsi-led group seized the town of Mweso, about 100 kilometres west of the provincial capital Goma. Local civil society leader Alphonse Habimana told AFP on Tuesday that the M23 was in control of the town of 30,000 people. Heritier Ndangendange, spokesman for the APCLS — one of the militias fighting the M23 — confirmed that rebels had captured Mweso. Clashes with the M23 continued on Tuesday about 30 west of Goma, a city of over one million people, according to a security official who declined to be named. M23 fighters also remained in their positions several dozen kilometres north of Goma. The rebels are close to encircling the city — which is sandwiched between Lake Kivu and the Rwandan border — with three out of four roads leading out of it cut off. AFP

A Year into Ukraine War, Food Prices Rise and Aid Drops in Niger
As butchers chop meat, boys push carts of coconuts and fragrant spices entice passersby in the main market of Maradi, Niger’s second-largest city, many residents agree on one thing: life is more expensive this year than last. A litre of cooking oil that once went for 700 CFA francs ($1.13) now goes for 1,050 CFA ($1.70), says one merchant. Aminu Maman, who sells salt, cowpeas and dried baobab fruit says demand has also drastically reduced for his items. “Almost everything is going up.” … A year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the effects are still being felt across the world as inflated prices eat into the budgets of consumers, government and aid agencies in Niger – one of the world’s poorest countries. Before the invasion, Russia exported 16 percent of the world’s supply of fertiliser. Amid the war, it announced export restrictions to prop up domestic supplies. … But taking in the bigger picture, Kader Issaley, Alima’s director of operations says, Ukraine looms large over all humanitarian funding. The country’s humanitarian response plan, from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), received $3.3bn in funding from donors last year, “the same amount received for all West and Central African countries.” Al Jazeera

International Concern as Conflict Grows in Breakaway Somaliland
Qatar, Somalia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States have expressed concern over fighting around a disputed town in Somalia’s northern breakaway region of Somaliland, where at least 34 people were killed in clashes in early February. Tension has risen between Somaliland and local clan forces in Lascanood since the end of last year, and heavy fighting has broken out around the town, which straddles a key trade route.“The partners expressed concern about the ongoing conflict in and around Lascanood and called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire, de-escalate, allow unhindered humanitarian access, and engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue,” the six countries said in a joint statement released by the US State Department on Tuesday. Fighting around the town erupted in early February after elders in three provinces of Somaliland – including Sool Province, where Lascanood is located – announced that they wanted to rejoin Somalia and issued a statement pledging support for Somalia’s federal government. Al Jazeera

US Increases Military Support for Somalia against Al-Shabab
The United States is increasing its military assistance to Somalia as the country sees success in battling what the U.S. calls “the largest and most deadly al-Qaida network in the world.” Sixty-one tons of weapons and ammunition arrived Tuesday in Mogadishu, the U.S. said in a statement of support for a historic Somalia-led military offensive against al-Shabab extremists that has recaptured dozens of communities since August. In a separate joint statement with other leading security partners Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Britain, the U.S. said they will support Somalia’s efforts to manage weapons and ammunition that could allow the United Nations Security Council to lift its arms embargo on the country. AP

UN Slams Deployment of South Sudan Troops in Disputed Region
The United Nations on Wednesday condemned the deployment of South Sudanese troops in an area of the disputed region of Abyei, which both Sudan and South Sudan claim. The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the contested region warned that the deployment of troops in the southern part of Abyei would create “untold suffering and humanitarian concerns” for civilians in the area. There was no immediate comment from South Sudanese authorities, and a spokesman for the ruling military in Sudan did not answer a request for comment. The deployment followed renewed fighting within and around Abyei, said the mission, known as UNISFA. It urged both parties to stop fighting and “allow the political process to resolve the lingering crisis.” “UNISFA is against any form of unauthorized deployment” in Abyei, the mission said. AP

Call For Africa’s Leaders to Commit to Reaching 2030 SDGs
The Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations Amina Mohammed, has advised African leaders to support and invest in environmental and sustainability solutions that have their roots in the continent. Mohammed, gave the advice at the opening ceremony of the Ninth Session of the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD-9), held in Niamey, Niger Republic, where she tasked African leaders to understand that true African-led solutions that were born in the continent would enable them to meet the challenges of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs. She also tasked African leaders to ensure that young people play a key role in the digital economy. “When the world leaders, including our 54 African leaders, gather for the SDG Summit next September, it is solutions that are likely arising in Africa that must be supported and must be invested in,” Mohamed said. Africa is faced with incredible complexities in our environment in which we must achieve so much with so little, and urgently, for our people and the environment that we live in. AllAfrica

Jill Biden Departs Africa, Leaving Message of Warmth, Hope in Wake
“We face many of the same challenges, from climate change to economic inequality to strengthening democracy, which is why the U.S. African Leaders Summit was held in Washington, D.C., in December because it was so important to him,” she said, referring to her husband, President Joe Biden, in a speech to a room full of dignitaries and diplomats who gathered to hear her at Namibia’s State House on Thursday. “And it’s why I’m proud to be standing here, standing with a strong democracy. … As Joe said at the summit, African voices, African leadership and African innovation are all critical to addressing the most pressing global challenges and realizing the vision. We all share a world that is free.” … President Joe Biden — who often refers to himself as “Jill Biden’s husband” — said after her return on Monday that her effort showed his administration’s strong commitment to Africa. “She met with the presidents and first ladies of both countries,” he said. “She spoke to more than a thousand young people — the first generation born out of apartheid in Namibia. … In Kenya, she met families affected by devastating drought and food insecurity … made worse by Putin’s brutal assault on Ukraine. And made it clear that America’s commitment to Africa is real.” VOA