Africa Media Review for March 4, 2024

Chad’s Interim Leader Deby Confirms Plan to Run for President
Chad’s interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby said on Saturday he plans to run in this year’s long-awaited presidential race. Deby’s confirmation came at the end of a chaotic week in which opposition politician Yaya Dillo was shot and killed in the capital N’Djamena, prompting the European Union to express its deep concern. Dillo’s death on Wednesday in disputed circumstances has further exposed divisions in the ruling elite at a politically sensitive time as the Central African country prepares for the promised return to democratic rule via the ballot box…On Friday, the government confirmed that Deby’s uncle, General Saleh Deby Itno, had been arrested in the wake of Wednesday’s events. Itno had recently defected to Dillo’s opposition Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF)…Addressing supporters and state officials, Deby announced his candidacy for the May-June election in a speech that made no reference to Dillo’s killing or his uncle’s arrest. Reuters

Senegalese President Condemns Violent Attack against Journalist
Senegal’s President Macky Sall on Friday condemned a violent knife attack on a prominent female journalist and director of a private television station. Maimouna Ndour Faye, who presents a political programme for 7TV television channel, was attacked and stabbed several times near her home in the early hours of Friday by an unknown assailant, the channel said in a statement. Faye was hospitalised and her condition is stable, it said. The attack comes amid heightened political tension in the West African nation over the postponement of a presidential election that was scheduled for Feb. 25. It was unclear if the attack was politically motivated, officials said. The attack has been condemned by Senegal’s prominent figures, including the prime minister, and candidates in the presidential race…In the run-up to Senegal’s parliamentary elections in 2022, there was an increase in arrests and violence against media professionals in Senegal including an escalation in verbal and physical threats, according to watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Reuters

In Senegal’s Capital, Nicaragua Is a Hot Ticket among Travel Agents as Migrants Try to Reach US
Word of the Nicaragua route began spreading early last year in Dakar and took hold in May, said Abdoulaye Doucouré, who owns a travel agency that sold about 1,200 tickets from Dakar to Nicaragua in the last three months of 2023, for the equivalent of several thousand dollars each…Some are motivated by Senegal’s political turmoil — authorities delayed February’s presidential elections by 10 months — but the sudden draw seemed to hinge largely on social media posts and the spread of the route there…Passports from many African countries carry little weight in the Western Hemisphere, making the journey by land to the United States difficult to even begin. Senegalese can fly visa-free to only two countries in the Americas: Nicaragua and Bolivia, according to The Henley Passport Index. Nicaragua is much closer than Bolivia and avoids the notoriously dangerous Darien Gap in Panama…In African capitals, migrants typically buy multileg tickets from travel agents connecting through Istanbul or Madrid, followed by stops in Bogota, Colombia, or San Salvador, El Salvador, before ultimately arriving in Managua, Nicaragua. From there, they meet smugglers offering to take them to the Honduran border, or arrange the trip all the way to the U.S. AP

Burkina Prosecutor: ‘170 People Executed’ in Attacks on Villages
Around 170 people were “executed” in attacks on three villages in northern Burkina Faso a week ago, a regional prosecutor said on Sunday as jihadist violence flares in the junta-ruled country. On that same day, February 25, separate attacks on a mosque in eastern Burkina and a Catholic church in the north left dozens more dead. Aly Benjamin Coulibaly said he had received reports of the attacks on the villages of Komsilga, Nodin and Soroe in Yatenga province on February 25, with a provisional toll of “around 170 people executed.” The attacks left others wounded and caused material damage, the prosecutor for the northern town of Ouahigouya added in a statement, without apportioning blame to any group…Burkina Faso has been grappling with a jihadist insurgency waged by rebels affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group that spilled over from neighboring Mali in 2015. The violence has killed almost 20,000 people and displaced more than two million in Burkina Faso, one of the world’s poorest countries situated in the Sahel, a region wracked by instability. AFP

Fighting Returns to Capital of Ethiopia’s Amhara Region
Ethiopian government forces battled militiamen on Friday in the capital of the Amhara region, Bahir Dar, the regional administration and residents said, in the first fighting there since the early days of the conflict last year. Ethiopia’s military has been fighting insurgents from the Fano militia since July in a conflict that left more than 200 people dead last year, according to United Nations reports…Government officials have said on several occasions in recent months that the violence in Amhara, the country’s second-largest region, is under control. However, the state-appointed human rights commission has reported repeated outbreaks of violence, including drone attacks and house-to-house raids by government forces in areas outside the capital. The Amhara government said in a statement on Friday that the federal army and regional security forces were conducting “a joint operation and house-to-house surveillance around Bahir Dar to sweep out the extremist force that had infiltrated into the city”. Reuters

UN Rights Chief: Blocking Aid to Sudan Could Be a War Crime
The United Nations human rights chief on Friday said that the apparent deliberate denial of safe access for humanitarian agencies within war-torn Sudan could amount to a war crime. Addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Volker Turk, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Sudan had become a “living nightmare.” “The apparently deliberate denial of safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies within Sudan itself constitutes a serious violation of international law, and may amount to a war crime,” he said…Aid supplies have been looted and humanitarian workers attacked, while international agencies and NGOs have complained about bureaucratic obstacles to get into the army-controlled hub of Port Sudan to get humanitarian assistance into the country. Millions of people in Sudan’s Darfur region are at risk of dying of hunger after a decision by the Sudanese government to prohibit aid deliveries through Chad, an advocacy group for internally displaced people said on Tuesday. The order effectively shuts down a crucial route for supplies to Darfur, which is controlled by RSF. Reuters

Violence and Rights Abuses Threaten South Sudan’s Stability, a UN Report Warns
Mass violence and gross human rights violations in South Sudan continue unabated ahead of landmark elections due to take place in December, a report by the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan has warned. Patterns of violence, violations and entrenched impunity continue to blight the lives of an extremely vulnerable population, the report said, warning that the already dire humanitarian situation in the country will deteriorate further…A peace deal was agreed in 2018 but implementation has been sluggish and violence persists in parts of the country. The report presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva Friday said the elections face severe political and logistical challenges, and the post-election legal framework remains uncertain. Crucial steps in the 2018 peace agreement, including the the adoption of a permanent constitution, the unification of armed forces, and the establishment of transitional justice institutions, “remain outstanding or incomplete,” the report said…Nation and state-building efforts have faltered, while predation and repression have been entrenched, according to the report, adding that even as insurgency persists, violence is being instigated by political and military elites. AP

Kenya Signs Deal With Haiti to Send 1,000 Police to Caribbean
Kenya and Haiti signed a security deal on Friday intended to remove the last major obstacle to the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to the gang-ravaged Caribbean nation. President William Ruto of Kenya said that after months of delays the agreement would “enable the fast-tracking” of a security mission that has stirred cautious hopes in Haiti, where violence is escalating, but has drawn sharp criticism from Kenyan rights groups. The mission, backed by the United Nations and largely financed by the United States, has been on hold since January when a Kenyan court ruled the deployment illegal because Kenya and Haiti had not signed a formal reciprocal agreement. On Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Henry of Haiti flew to Kenya to finalize such an agreement — even as violent gangs were rampaging through the streets of his own capital, Port-au-Prince, pressing for his ouster…[Mr. Ruto] did not provide the text of the agreement, nor did he indicate how quickly Kenyan police officers might deploy to Haiti. There was no immediate reaction from Kenya’s High Court, which had insisted on an agreement in its ruling on the deployment. The New York Times

Tanzania and Ethiopia Seal Trade Deals
Tanzania and Ethiopia [last] week signed bilateral agreements targeting agriculture, trade, energy and air transport and aviation technology exchange. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and the visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Friday witnessed the signing of agreements strengthen trade between the two countries. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Co-operation said on Friday that the two leaders agreed to deepen trade and bilateral relations that would create new opportunities for trade between Tanzania, with a population of over 61 million, and Ethiopia, with a population of more than 100 million people. The East African

Ruto Uses Back Channels to Ease Ethiopia, Somalia Tensions
Kenya’s President William Ruto has engaged a higher gear for back channels to ease tension between Ethiopia and Somalia, motivated by business fervor in both countries. And, from this week, both Addis and Mogadishu are expected to tone down their public rhetoric against each other, sources privy to the discussions indicated. President Ruto hosted both Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who were in Nairobi on different missions. Dr Abiy was on a state visit while Mohamud was attending the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (Unea-6) at the Unep headquarters in Nairobi. Security and economic issues in the Horn of Africa featured prominently in their respective meetings with the Kenyan leader…Ruto’s intent to resolve the issue was clear when he met with Abiy Wednesday. A dispatch from the meeting said they had agreed to respect sovereignty and territorial boundaries of peers in the region, a revealing decision for the Horn of Africa. Meeting at State House, Nairobi, the two leaders vowed to maintain peace, security and stability within the continent “as a necessary condition for economic growth and development,” a joint communique stated, without referring to the Somalia issue by name. The East African

Military Court in Somalia Sentences 6 Moroccan Men to Death for Membership in Islamic State Group
A military court in Somalia’s northeastern semiautonomous state of Puntland sentenced to death six Moroccans believed to be foreign fighters for the Islamic State extremist group in Somalia. The individuals entered Somalia to cause harm to Muslims and Somalis and incite unrest in the country, the presiding judge in the Puntland region, Col. Ali Ibrahim Osman, said late Thursday. The six men, identified as Mohamed Hassan, Ahmed Najwi, Khalid Latha, Mohamed Binu Mohamed Ahmed, Ridwan Abdulkadir Osmany, and Ahmed Hussein Ibrahim, can appeal and if they are unsuccessful they will be shot to death by firing squad. Additionally, an Ethiopian and a Somali were each sentenced to 10 years in prison, while another Somali defendant was acquitted due to lack of evidence. It was not immediately clear if any of the men had access to legal representation or where they were being held Friday. The eight men claimed they were misled into joining the group and expressed a desire to be repatriated, Osman said. AP

Libya’s Coast Guard Tried to Prevent Rescue of Migrants in the Mediterranean, a German Charity Says
A German charity has accused the Libyan coast guard of threatening its crew members who were rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, causing at least one migrant to drown. The German charity SOS Humanity, which operates the rescue ship Humanity 1, said the Libyan coast guard used violence and fired live bullets into the water during its “life-threatening intervention” on Saturday. The charity said that many migrants who were aboard three unseaworthy boats bound for Europe were forced to jump into the water. The Humanity 1 managed to rescue 77 migrants, but many others were forced on board a Libyan coast guard boat, “separating at least six family members from each other,” it said…Libya has in recent years emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East, even though the North African nation has plunged into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. AP

At the Funeral of a Slain Zimbabwean Activist, Clashes and a Low Turnout Mirror Opposition Decline
A Zimbabwean opposition activist slain nearly two years ago was finally buried Saturday at an event marked by a low turnout and clashes between members of the main opposition party, highlighting its decline. Moreblessing Ali, 46, a member of the opposition Citizens Coalition for Change, or CCC, was abducted in May 2022 outside a bar in Nyatsime, a neighborhood of Chitungwiza town on the outskirts of the capital, Harare. Her body, cut into pieces, was found in a well in the area more than two weeks later, sparking anger. A man was later jailed for 30 years for the murder. Ali’s remains had remained in a government morgue ever since. Her family refused to bury her until the release of a top official and family lawyer who was arrested after he said she had been murdered by ruling Zanu-PF supporters. The official, Job Sikhala, spent close to two years in pre-trial detention and was released in January this year after a magistrate handed him a suspended prison sentence, paving the way for Ali’s burial on Saturday…The few mourners at Ali’s burial shoved and engaged in verbal insults as each faction tried to drown out the other and take control of burial proceedings. The brawling opposition activists left before the burial was over, with only a handful of Ali’s family members remaining to complete the process. AP