Africa Media Review for March 7, 2024

Senegal’s Government Sets March 24 as the New Date for the Delayed Presidential Election
The Senegalese government has set March 24 as the new date for the country’s delayed presidential election, its spokesperson said Wednesday after a meeting of the Council of Ministers, also announcing the dissolution of the government and appointment of a new prime minister…Prime Minister Amadou Ba, an election frontrunner who has been endorsed by the outgoing president, was replaced by Sidiki Kaba who was the interior minister. Wednesday’s announcement came as news broke that the Constitutional Council had rejected a proposal by civil, political and religious leaders that the election be held on June 2. Senegal’s election authority, which now has less than three weeks to prepare for the crucial vote, did not immediately issue any public statement on the new date. Sall already said he will step down by April 2 when his tenure is due to end but there had been concerns over who would take over from him if elections were not hold before then. AP

UN Security Council considering Call for Ramadan Truce in Sudan
The United Nations Security Council is considering calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities ahead of Ramadan in the nearly year-long war between the Sudanese army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, diplomats said. The 15-member council is negotiating a British-drafted resolution that diplomats said could be put to a vote on Friday. The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan begins early next week. The draft resolution also “calls for all parties to ensure the removal of any obstructions and enable full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access, including cross-border and crossline, and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” according to the text seen by Reuters. Reuters

Sudan Reporter’s Diary: Inside Darfur’s Neglected Refugee Crisis
I have visited Chad three times since the start of the war – which has displaced eight million Sudanese overall – and I have seen that the humanitarian response has barely improved. There is little food, inadequate shelters, and not enough medicine…Like in so many conflicts, women and girls are suffering the most. Some were raped in Darfur by RSF fighters and are now giving birth in the camps. Others have endured horrific sexual abuse since crossing into Chad, and have received almost no assistance…Most refugees fled from El Geneina to the Chadian border town of Adré, where they were supposed to get refugee registration cards and move on to newly constructed camps or to older settlements built during the 2000s conflict. But these camps have limited capacity, and refugees have to fight for weeks or even months on end to receive their cards…Meanwhile, local authorities won’t let unregistered refugees travel outside of Adré without paying a fee. This prevents people from meeting family members and friends, and hinders their ability to find work or visit hospitals outside of the town…It is true that local authorities have done a lot for the refugees, and it was Chadian communities that were feeding people last year in some areas before the big aid agencies arrived. But there is still clearly a need for much better protection. The New Humanitarian

South Sudan: Top UN Official Calls for Greater Political Investment as Polls Loom
With only nine months remaining before the polls in December, South Sudan is not ready to hold elections and a lot more needs to be done, the head of UN peace operations said on Tuesday. Briefing ambassadors at the Security Council, Jean-Pierre Lacroix said that if the parties display greater political will and invest adequate resources, credible elections can still take place before the end of the transition period…During his briefing, Under-Secretary-General Lacroix highlighted that the peace agreement remains the “only viable framework” to achieve peace and stability in South Sudan. In that context, he stressed the that was “imperative” to harmonize the UN position on key political issues with those of the east African regional development bloc IGAD and the African Union (AU). UN News

At Least 10 People Killed as Rebels Seize a Town in Congo’s Conflict-Hit Eastern Region
A rebel group with alleged links to neighboring Rwanda seized a town in Congo’s conflict-hit eastern region following attacks that killed at least 10 people and displaced thousands, reports said Wednesday. The seizure of Nyanzale by M23 rebels came after days of fighting with security forces, local civil society leader Jonas Pandasi said. He said thousands of people had fled toward Goma, which is eastern Congo’s largest city and the capital of North Kivu province. It is more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. “Initial reports put the death toll at around 10, with houses burnt down and shops looted of their goods. The humanitarian situation is catastrophic as almost the entire village of Nyanzale has moved towards Kikuku,” Pandasi said. AP

Junta-Led Sahel States to Form Joint Force to Fight Insurgents
Junta-led Niger, Burkina Faso, and Mali have agreed to set up a joint force to tackle security threats across their territories, Niger’s armed forces chief Moussa Salaou Barmou said on Wednesday after a meeting with his counterparts…In a televised statement, Barmou said the new task force would be “operational as soon as possible to meet the security challenges,” but did not give further details on the size or remit of the force. Violence in the region fuelled by the decade-long fight with Islamist groups linked to Al Qaeda and Islamic State has worsened since the three countries’ militaries seized power in a series of coups from 2020 to 2023. It hit a high in 2023, with conflict fatalities in the central Sahel rising by 38% compared with the previous year, according to U.S.-based crisis-monitoring group ACLED, citing reports of over 8,000 people killed in Burkina Faso alone last year. Reuters

Somalia Has Gained Full Membership in the East African Community (EAC)
At a brief ceremony held Monday (Mar. 04) at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, Somalia’s Minister of Commerce and Industry,Jibril Abdirashid Haji, presented the instrument of ratification to the bloc’s Secretary-General, completing the admission process. EAC Secretariat head Peter Mathuki said that the move will enable Somalia to kick off the process of joining EAC’s areas of cooperation. The areas include trade, investment, industrial development and free movement of people, labour and services, he added…Somalia first applied to join in 2012. It is now the eighth member of the bloc which includes the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. Somalia is expected to designate a ministry and appoint a minister to coordinate EAC matters as required by the Treaty. Africanews

Suspected Insurgents Kidnap 50 People in Northeast Nigeria
Suspected Islamist insurgents kidnapped 50 people, mostly women, in northeastern Nigeria this week, local officials and a resident said on Wednesday, the latest mass abduction by fighters who have waged an insurgency for more than a decade…The latest incident took place on Monday in the remote Gamboru area, which shares a border with Chad and Cameroon, said an official of the Civilian Joint Task Force, which helps the army to fight the jihadists. The official, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak to the media, said the group of at least 50 people from a camp for internally displaced persons, went to collect firewood on the shores of Lake Chad, where [Islamic State West Africa Province] is known to operate. They were ambushed by gunmen and made to walk across bushy paths into neighbouring Chad, the official said, adding that three of the kidnapped women managed to escape. Reuters

Russian and Nigerian Foreign Ministers Hold Talks in Moscow
The foreign ministers of Russia and Nigeria held talks in Moscow on Wednesday where they discussed future relations between the two countries. Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, told his Nigerian counterpart, Yusuf Tuggar, that Moscow sees Nigeria as a priority partner on the African continent. Tuggar echoed his sentiments. “The relationship will continue to grow. We feel that we are in a right position to have a very strong strategic relationship with Russia,” he said…As Russia faces criticism over its war in Ukraine, its attempting to increase its influence in the global south. A meeting with African foreign ministers is due to take place in Sochi later this year. Africanews

South Africa Asks World Court for More Measures against Israel
South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to order additional emergency measures against Israel, which it says is breaching the measures already in place, the U.N.’s top court said on Wednesday…In a statement issued Wednesday the South African presidency warned that the people of Gaza cannot wait. “The threat of all-out famine has now materialised. The court needs to act now to stop the imminent tragedy by immediately and effectively ensuring that the rights it has found are threatened under the Genocide Convention are protected,” it added. South Africa also asked the court to order that Israel take “immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address famine and starvation” in Gaza. It added that the ICJ, also known as the World Court, should take these measures without scheduling a new round of hearings because of the “extreme urgency of the situation”. Reuters

African Seed Trade Members Meet to Boost Seed Adoption, Distribution
More than 350 delegates from governments, research institutions and seed production companies are gathering in Kenya this week to address challenges in getting good-quality seeds to African farmers. Experts say the lack of good seeds is hampering food production across the continent and contributing to the hunger crisis in many countries. According to U.N. agencies, more than 280 million people in Africa are food insecure, with over a billion unable to afford healthy diets. One of the problems is that quality seeds are inaccessible to many African farmers, leading to higher rates of crop failure…For the time being, seed policies across much of Africa are stuck in the status quo. The regional bloc COMESA, the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa, has introduced rules to harmonize the seed trade, but only seven out of 21 countries have ratified the regulation. VOA

How This Zambian Writer Makes Her Choices on Languages, Culture, and Place
Zambian writer Mubanga Kalimamukwento was named this year’s winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize for her forthcoming debut collection of stories, Obligations to the Wounded, the first African to scoop the award…Semafor: How relevant was it to anchor the anthology on Zambian languages, culture, and place? Mubanga Kalimamukwento: Nothing prepared me for how much I would re-fall in love with my languages when I left Zambia a few years ago. It wasn’t a conscious decision; it’s just that when I am writing Zambian women, I think a lot about how they would talk depending on where they are. There are things I don’t ever say in English. They are only their true selves in their mother tongue. As for place and culture, well, I was born and raised in Zambia–the places and culture I write about are the ones I observed around me. Semafor