Africa Media Review for March 27, 2024

Senegal’s President-Elect Pledges to Fight Corruption after a Stunning Victory for the 44-Year-Old
Senegal woke up Tuesday to a new president-elect, Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a former tax inspector and political newcomer who inspired voters, including many unemployed youth, with a vow to fight corruption and reform the economy…“I pledge to govern with humility and transparency, and to fight corruption at all levels. I pledge to devote myself fully to rebuilding our institutions,” he said during his first speech Monday night as president-elect, restating promises made during his campaign…Faye was considered an anti-establishment candidate, and his campaign messages of economic reform and anti-corruption resonated with the youth…On Monday night, Faye outlined some early foreign policy priorities, which included reforming the troubled West African regional bloc known as ECOWAS. AP

Tunisian Journalist Accused of Insulting a Public Official to Face Trial Next Month
A prominent Tunisian journalist was put under pre-trial detention on a judge’s order after a Tuesday hearing in which he dangled the prospect of publishing reporting on corruption and the misuse of public funds by several ministers and public institutions. Mohamed Boughalleb’s court hearing came four days after he was arrested in Tunis on suspicion of insulting a public official on social media. As Tunisia heads to a presidential election later this year, Boughalleb’s arrest was the latest to earn condemnation from free speech advocates in the country where pro-democracy demonstrators sparked the Arab Spring last decade…His arrest is the latest example of officials in Tunisia referring complaints to public prosecutors using a controversial 2022 law that free expression and civil liberties advocates have said is increasingly being misused to silence journalists and opponents of the government. The law, known as Decree 54, was intended to combat cybercrime but rights activists say it has been used to prosecute high-profile journalists and opposition figures. AP

4 Sentenced to Death in Tunisia for a 2013 Assassination of a Politician
A Tunisian court sentenced four people to death and two to life in prison on charges stemming from the murder of a left-wing politician, a public prosecutor said Wednesday. Chokri Belaid, the 48-year-old leader of the Popular Front coalition, was shot in his car outside his home in Tunis in February 2013. His assassination, the country’s first in decades, prompted mass protests and helped lead to the resignation of the then-prime minister. The case was reopened last month after a former investigating judge was arrested on suspicion of concealing certain files…Before his death, Belaid had earned a following for his forceful criticisms of Ennahda, the Islamist party that rose to power after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali became the first dictator toppled in the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings…Two dozen defendants were ultimately charged in a sprawling case that took years to investigate and bring to trial. One died in prison. Of the 23 defendants sentenced on Wednesday, five were acquitted while others received sentences ranging from two to 120 years. AP

Seven Soldiers in Chad Are Killed in an Explosion Blamed on Boko Haram Extremists
An explosive device detonated and killed seven soldiers in Chad during a patrol in the country’s west near Lake Chad, the government says. The interim president, Mahamat Deby Itno, announced the deaths Monday on social media. Chadian authorities said they suspected Boko Haram extremists from Nigeria were behind the attack, renewing concerns about an escalation of violence near the border. Boko Haram launched an insurgency more than a decade ago against Western education and seeks to establish Islamic law in Nigeria’s northeast. The insurgency has spread to West African neighbors including Cameroon, Niger and Chad…Violence has returned to the Lake Chad area after a period of peace following a successful operation launched in 2020 by the Chadian army to destroy the extremist group’s bases there. Schools, mosques and churches have reopened and humanitarian organizations have returned. AP

Ukraine Is Making a Big Push to Woo African Governments
Ukraine is pushing to strengthen its alliances with African countries through an expansion of its grain shipments program, roughly doubling its embassies in Africa, and President Volodymr Zelenskyy making his first state visit to the continent in the coming months. Now in the third year of a brutal war, following a full-scale invasion by Russia in February 2022, Ukraine faces an existential battle to build geopolitical ties globally as its key ally in the United States wavers in its support. The move to ramp up the grain program coincides with broader moves to foster closer ties with African nations. A Ukrainian government spokesperson, responding to Semafor Africa’s questions about plans to expand its diplomatic reach, said Kyiv intends to roughly double its 12 embassies in Africa by adding between 10 and 12 more this year…Ukraine hopes that with its expanded program of grain shipments, it can counter the impression that Russia is the only side in the conflict trying to address the impact on Africans. At the same time, Zelenskyy’s visit to South Africa offers a high profile opportunity to show an affinity with the continent’s most influential country in geopolitical terms. Semafor

Sudan Military Rejects Power-Sharing Deal, Favours Technocratic Government
Lieutenant General Ibrahim Jaber, a member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and the military’s second-in-command, declared the armed forces’ refusal to participate in any power-sharing agreement with civilian political groups. Despite regional and international efforts to resolve the year-long conflict and return to a civilian-led transition, Jaber outlined the military’s stance: they firmly refuse to share power again with political parties that stand accused of aligning themselves with the rebellious paramilitary forces. In a speech to soldiers and an officer of the 2nd Infantry Division in Gedaref State on Monday, Ibrahim Jaber declared: “The armed forces are no longer party to any agreements with politicians, effective immediately. Secondly, the armed forces stand as the sole national army of Sudan, and we will accept no alternatives.” “Our message to politicians is clear: a non-political transitional period will be established with a government of technocrats. This government will manage the affairs of the Sudanese people and prepare for elections in which the people will choose their leadership.” Sudan Tribune

US Eyes April 18 to Potentially Resume Sudan Peace Talks in Jeddah
The United States is eyeing April 18 for the potential resumption of Sudan peace talks in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as part of Washington’s efforts to mitigate a dire humanitarian disaster and prevent the conflict from escalating into a regional war. Nearly a year into Sudan’s civil war, the country is grappling with the world’s largest internal displacement crisis. Tom Perriello, U.S. special envoy for Sudan, told reporters on Tuesday that these talks need to be “inclusive,” involving the African Union, the East African bloc IGAD, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates…The United States and Saudi Arabia have brokered multiple cease-fires between Sudan’s warring parties and facilitated talks in Jeddah last year, but the negotiations stumbled amid competing international peace efforts…U.S. officials have said their priority in Sudan is to secure a peace deal that immediately ends the violence, ensures full humanitarian access to all citizens and facilitates the country’s return to civilian governance. VOA

Igad Names Lawrence Korbandy as Special Envoy to Sudan
Regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) on Tuesday named South Sudanese lawyer Lawrence Korbandy as Special Envoy for Sudan…[W]hile the new move signals Igad’s intent to participate in the peace search, it came several months after Khartoum announced a ‘pause’ on interactions with Igad following complaints over perceived bias…The Korbandy’s appointment has been long overdue as it should have been made last year. Initially, he was to report to the Igad Quartet on Sudan — Kenya, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti. However, after Sudan’s protestations, the Quartet, sort of, dissolved. Khartoum had specifically accused Kenyan President William Ruto, who was to lead the Quartet, of bias. After that, Igad announced realignment with the Jeddah Process, a mediation engagement led by the US and Saudi Arabia. The EastAfrican

South Sudan’s Kiir, Tshisekedi Discuss Regional Peace Efforts
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart, Félix Tshisekedi have renewed efforts to end the eastern DRC crisis. On Monday, the two leaders called for the swift revival of the Nairobi and Luanda peace processes. The initiatives refer to African regional efforts to ease the tension in the eastern DRC, including meetings in the Angolan and Kenyan capitals…The meeting, held in the DRC capital, Kinshasa, further highlighted the crucial role of peace and security in fostering socio-economic development within the East African Community (EAC)…The renewed push for peace talks suggests a regional commitment to resolving the conflict in eastern DRC. However, the success of these efforts hinges on cooperation among regional leaders. Sudan Tribune

Schools to Reopen in South Sudan after Two Weeks of Extreme Heat
South Sudan’s government on Tuesday said schools will reopen next week following a two-week closure due to extreme heat across the country. The health and education ministries said temperatures were expected to steadily drop with the rainy season set to begin in the coming days. South Sudan in recent years has experienced adverse effects of climate change, with extreme heat, flooding and drought reported during different seasons. During the heat wave last week, the country registered temperatures up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit). Teachers have been urged to minimize playground activities to early morning or indoors, ventilate classrooms, provide water during school time and monitor children for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. AP

Son of Guinea-Bissau’s Ex-president Jailed in US for Trafficking Drugs to Fund Coup
The son of Guinea-Bissau’s ex-president [Malam Bacai Sanha] has been sentenced to over six years in prison by a US court for leading an international heroin trafficking ring. Malam Bacai Sanha Jr, 52, planned to use the proceeds to fund his ambitions to become Guinea-Bissau’s president through a coup, authorities say…Sanha Jr was also linked to the February 2022 foiled coup attempt. He was extradited to the US in August 2022, following his arrest in Tanzania a few weeks earlier. His trial began soon afterwards and in September last year, he pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally import drugs…Guinea-Bissau is a notorious drug trafficking hub and a key conduit for narcotics destined for Europe and the US, which led to the US and the UN designating it as a “narco-state” more than a decade ago. Experts say that drug traffickers and networks are highly influential and well-entrenched in the country’s government, often funding election campaigns for politicians they can rely on to protect the illegal trade. BBC

Somalia’s Old Rivals Reunite in Debate on Constitution
Former Somali presidents Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed are showing rare unity as the country debates how to write its new constitution. On Saturday, they converged in Garowe town, the capital of Puntland, one of the Somalia’s Federal Member States. The two former leaders held meetings with Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni and other politicians including legislators from the bicameral parliament in Mogadishu. The move was significant especially since they were on opposing sides during the 2022 presidential election in Somalia…After the meeting, Farmaajo and Ahmed issued a nine-point statement on Sunday, expressing firm opposition to current Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. They blame his administration of initiating changes to the provisional constitution without consulting…Farmaajo and Ahmed saw security as the most pressing issue for Somalia, especially in the face of feared terrorists. The EastAfrican

South Africa’s Main Opposition Party Not Ruling Out Deal with ANC
South Africa’s second most popular party the Democratic Alliance (DA) would not rule out a deal with the ruling African National Congress should the ANC fail to get the majority it needs to retain power in May elections, its leader said on Monday. Pollsters expect the ANC to lose its legislative majority on May 29 for the first time since Nelson Mandela took power at the end of apartheid 30 years ago, with voters unhappy with poor service delivery, joblessness, crime and power cuts. If that happens, President Cyril Ramaphosa or a successor for the top job would be unable to stay on without a coalition, since South Africa’s parliament elects the president…The ANC’s Deputy Party Secretary Nomvula Mokonyane told Reuters earlier this month the party was not considering a coalition government with other parties, and that she did not think a power-sharing deal would work. The DA has banded together with smaller parties to try to capture the more than 50% of the vote needed to take power. Reuters

New Togo Charter Weakens Future Presidents but Could Extend Incumbent’s Rule
Togo has adopted a new constitution that lengthens presidential terms by one year while limiting the number of terms to one, which will likely allow President Faure Gnassingbe to extend his 19-year rule by a year longer than previously expected. The presidency of the tiny phosphate-producing country on the West African coast has been a family affair since 1967, when Gnassingbe Eyadema seized power in a coup. His son succeeded him after his death in 2005. Under the new constitution, which does not take into account the time he has already spent in office, Faure Gnassingbe could now stay in power until 2031 if he is re-elected in 2025. This is a highly likely scenario because his party controls parliament…Several other African countries, including Central African Republic, Rwanda, Congo Republic, Ivory Coast and Guinea, have pushed through constitutional and other legal changes in recent years allowing their presidents to extend their terms in office. Reuters

‘Women Farmers Are Invisible’: A West African Project Helps Them Claim Their Rights — and Land
[The Casamance village of Niaguis, Senegal] is the headquarters of a 115,000-strong rural women’s rights movement in West Africa, We Are the Solution. [Mariama] Sonko, its president, is training female farmers from cultures where women are often excluded from ownership of the land they work so closely…Her movement is training women farmers who traditionally have no access to education, explaining their rights and financing women-led agricultural projects. Across West Africa, women usually don’t own land because it is expected that when they marry, they leave the community. But when they move to their husbands’ homes, they are not given land because they are not related by blood…In a recent week, Sonko and her team trained over 100 women from three countries, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Gambia, in agroforestry – growing trees and crops together as a measure of protection from extreme weather – and micro gardening, growing food in tiny spaces when there is little access to land. AP