Africa Media Review for March 6, 2024

Jihadists Target Schools, Displace Women in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado
Jihadism in north Mozambique is hitting schools and displacing mostly women and children, according to a flash report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef). More than 70,000 people have been internally displaced in Mozambique’s insurgent-hit oil gas-rich Cabo Delgado and neighbouring Nampula Province since January this year. Among those, 85% of were women, Unicef said. Its report highlights that Cabo Delgado saw more than a hundred schools shut down, with another 16 closed in the Memba District of Nampula Province. Unicef fears the current displacements will aggravate an already critical situation owing to cholera outbreaks in the six districts of Cabo Delgado and Nampula…There are challenges in the Chiure district of Cabo Delgado where cholera is treated like a myth, leading to “disinformation and violence, with populations attacking cholera treatment infrastructure and staff.” According to the report, 10,900 people or 2,500 households are in seven displacement sites within Chiure. News24

Nigeria Starts Trials Against Alleged 2023 Election Offenders
Nigeria began trials this week for hundreds of people, including members of the country’s electoral commission, accused of committing offenses related to last year’s general elections. Trials for 190 people, including electoral body officials and members of the major political parties, opened in courts across the country on Monday. Lawyers from Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission, or INEC, are serving as the prosecutor at the trials, with attorneys with the Nigerian Bar Association providing the defense. The INEC says the trials will serve as deterrents in future elections…Defendants are facing charges such as vote buying, stealing and destroying election materials, disorderly conduct at election venues, willful neglect of duty, possession of firearms and election-related violence. Such infractions are common in Nigeria before, during and after the polls. In last year’s general elections, police say more than 20 people were killed in election-related violence. VOA

Liberia: War Crimes Court Momentum Swells
The momentum for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court (WECC) in Liberia is gaining significant traction as the House of Representatives voted unanimously to endorse a Resolution for its establishment. A majority of members (49) of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, March 5, during the 16th day sitting, affixed their signatures to the instrument…The House’s decision is unprecedented as it marks the first time since the Civil War that such action has been taken by the Legislature…The establishment of a WECC is a recommendation contained in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was established to investigate the root causes of the nearly three decades of civil crises…The TRC in its final report recommended the creation of an extraordinary criminal court, which would be a hybrid court composed of Liberian and international judges, prosecutors, and other staff with a mandate to try those allegedly responsible for committing serious crimes. Liberian Observer

Ghana’s President Vows No Action on Anti-LGBTQ+ Bill until Supreme Court Rules on a Challenge to It
Ghana’s president said Tuesday his government will wait for a Supreme Court ruling before taking action on a bill that would further criminalize members of the LGBTQ+ community in the West African nation. President Nana Akufo-Addo said he sought to reassure the diplomatic community that Ghana would not be turning its back on its longstanding human rights record. Gay sex is illegal in Ghana, carrying a three-year prison sentence, but the new bill could imprison people for more than a decade for activities including public displays of affection and promotion and funding of LGBTQ+ activities. The president said a citizen mounted a constitutional challenge to the bill in court. The bill has sparked condemnation from rights groups and some in the international community who have been concerned about similar efforts by other African governments. AP

Will Senegalese Opposition Leader Ousmane Sonko Be the First Released under Partial Amnesty?
Adopted by the Council of Ministers on Wednesday, February 28, this measure, urged by President Macky Sall “to pacify the political arena,” must now undergo an expedited passage in the National Assembly…The first article of the draft text states that the amnesty pertains to “all acts that may be classified as a criminal or correctional offense committed between February 1, 2021, and February 25, 2024, both in Senegal and abroad, relating to demonstrations or having political motivations, including those made by any communication media, whether or not the perpetrators have been tried”…These lines should spark debate on the potential release, or even the candidacy, of Sonko, who is being held with conspiracy against the state and calls for insurrectionsHowever, there is another conviction hanging over Sonko’s prison and political future that would not be covered by the bill: a two-year prison sentence for “corruption of youth,” after the PASTEF leader was accused of repeated rape by an employee of a massage parlor in Dakar. Given the stakes involved, discussions at the National Assembly are expected to be long and contentious, even though the text is not unanimously supported by either the majority or the opposition. Le Monde

Human Rights Watch Accuses Ethiopian Government of Silencing Dissent, Targeting Journalists
Human Rights Watch has leveled allegations against the Ethiopian government, asserting that it has been engaged in the arbitrary apprehension and confinement of opposition figures, journalists, and critics as part of an escalating effort to suppress dissent. One case cited by Human Rights Watch occurred in February 2024 when plainclothes security officers detained Batte Urgessa, a spokesperson for the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) political party, and French journalist Antoine Galindo as the two met for an interview at a hotel in the capital, Addis Abeba…Ethiopia has recently been ranked as the third-worst country in Africa for the imprisonment of journalists in 2023, according to the findings of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The number of Ethiopian journalists in detention has risen to eight by the end of 2023, which CPJ said highlights the significant challenges facing the nation’s media environment. Addis Standard

‘Horrific’ Civilian Toll as Ethiopia Turns to Combat Drones to Quell Local Insurgencies
Drone attacks…have become a hallmark of the counterinsurgency campaign aimed at quashing a rebellion that erupted in Amhara, Ethiopia’s second-biggest region, at the end of July…Fano forces have retreated to Amhara’s mountainous interior…The military, which has scant control over the countryside, appears to be increasingly turning to its fleet of drones to counter them. This arsenal includes Iranian and Chinese drones, but it is Türkiye’s Bayraktar TB2 that Ethiopia has come to rely on most, analysts say…There is mounting concern about the civilian toll in Ethiopia, where drones are being used to put down regional revolts…The deployment of drones in Amhara mirrors their use in Oromia, Ethiopia’s biggest state, where regional and federal security forces have been battling ethno-nationalist militants from the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) since 2018…Drones were first used extensively in Ethiopia during the Tigray war…Drone strikes killed hundreds of civilians throughout 2021 and 2022 in Tigray. One strike, on 7 February 2022, killed at least 59 people at a displacement camp in the region. The New Humanitarian

Libya’s Central Bank Governor Pushes for More Unified Government
Libya’s central bank governor on Tuesday devalued the dinar currency and asked parliament’s speaker to approve a new unified government, expanding his challenge to the prime minister in Tripoli. The governor, Sadiq Kabir, is at odds with Prime Minister Abdulhamid al-Dbeibah over the extent of spending by the Government of National Unity (GNU), which is recognised internationally but not by the eastern-based parliament. Disputes over control of government and access to Libya’s state finances have often been at the heart of factional rivalry that has ripped the North African country apart since a NATO-backed uprising in 2011…While the GNU controls Tripoli and northwestern parts of Libya, the east mostly recognises an administration appointed by the parliament…Efforts by the parliament-appointed government to move into Tripoli in 2022 led to two bouts of deadly clashes that left Dbeibah more deeply entrenched in the capital. Reuters

Kenyan Politician Vows Fresh Challenge to Haiti Police Deployment
A Kenyan opposition leader said on Wednesday he would launch a fresh court challenge to a plan to send police officers to gang-ravaged Haiti, after the two countries signed a deal last week intended to fast-track the stalled deployment. Ekuru Aukot told Reuters the agreement between President William Ruto and Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry was invalid and failed to address objections by the judge who blocked the deployment in January following a lawsuit by Aukot’s party…A High Court judge ruled in January the officers could only be sent to Haiti if a “reciprocal arrangement” was in place with the host government. Aukot said Henry, who came to power after the 2021 assassination of President Juvenal Moise, does not have the legal legitimacy to enter into such an arrangement. He also said Haiti’s laws governing the police were not similar enough to Kenya’s to make a reciprocal agreement possible. Reuters

4 Migrants Are Found Dead and 64 Are Rescued as a Mauritanian Boat Reaches Spain’s Canary Islands
Four migrants were found dead and 64 were rescued when a boat from Mauritania reached Spain’s Canary Islands after a dangerous Atlantic journey from West Africa, Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service said. The migrants arrived on the island of El Hierro late on Tuesday evening, with the survivors including two women and nine minors, the service said…Nearly 12,000 migrants fleeing poverty, conflict and instability in West Africa have landed on the Spanish archipelago in the first two months of the year, according to Spain’s interior ministry. At least 191 migrants have been reported dead or missing so far in 2024 trying to reach the Canary Islands, according to the International Organization for Migrations Missing Migrants Project. But that number is believed to be an undercount. AP

Sudan’s Conflict Risks Creating the World’s Largest Hunger Crisis, the Top UN Food Official Warns
Cindy McCain, head of the World Food Program, said the fighting in Sudan, which pits the country’s military against a violent paramilitary group, has shattered the lives of millions across the northeastern African nation. “The war in Sudan risks triggering the world’s largest hunger crisis,” McCain said as she wrapped up a trip to neighboring South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of Sudanese had fled the fighting in their home country. The U.N. food agency said some 18 million people across Sudan face acute hunger, with the most desperate trapped behind the front lines. AP

US Court Sides with Apple, Tesla, Other Tech Companies over Child Labor in Africa
In a 3-0 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Google parent Alphabet, Apple, Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Tesla, rejecting an appeal by former child miners and their representatives. The plaintiffs accused the five companies of joining suppliers in a “forced labor” venture by purchasing cobalt, which is used to make lithium-ion batteries that are widely used in electronics. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt comes from the DRC. According to the complaint, the companies “deliberately obscured” their dependence on child labor, including many children pressured into work by hunger and extreme poverty, to ensure their growing need for the metal would be met. The 16 plaintiffs included representatives of five children who were killed in cobalt mining operations. But the appeals court said buying cobalt in the global supply chain did not amount to “participation in a venture” under a federal law protecting children and other victims of human trafficking and forced labor. Reuters

Nigerian Businesses Increasingly Skip Traditional Banks and Turn to Moniepoint
Moniepoint’s light-blue payment machines have become ubiquitous across Nigeria — from megastores in Lagos to roadside shops in Kano. Shoppers prefer it to other options because Moniepoint offers a lower-than-average transaction decline rate and instantly reverses transactions in case of failed payments. The Lagos-headquartered company, founded in 2015, has expanded its footprint across the length and breadth of Nigeria, and is now available across all 774 local governments in the country, according to its website…In 2023, Moniepoint reportedly recorded 5.2 billion transactions, worth over $150 billion. The same year, it ranked second in the Financial Times’ list of Africa’s fastest-growing companies…In early 2023, when Nigeria experienced an acute cash crisis after the government changed the currency’s design, Moniepoint came to the rescue of many small businesses. Rest of World