Africa Media Review for May 1, 2024

African Union and United Nations Partnership Key to the Future of Peace Operations in Africa
The passage of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 2719 (UNSCR 2719) on December 21, 2023, has created a new chapter for peace operations in Africa. UNSCR 2719 provides a framework for peace operations led by the African Union (AU) to access UN funding through assessed contributions…It was necessitated in part by a decline of UN peacekeeping and a shift to African-led missions. While these missions have had a measure of success in addressing Africa’s armed conflicts, they tend to lack the resources, expeditionary capabilities, and civilian infrastructure typical of UN peacekeeping. By enabling African-led missions to access UN financing, UNSCR 2719 provides an opportunity for both the UN and AU to innovate the tools, practices, and partnerships needed to address Africa’s armed conflicts. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Sudan: ‘Death Has Become Normal’: War Closes In on Darfur’s Besieged Capital
El-Fasher is the biggest in the vast Darfur region to have resisted the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces that is fighting the Sudanese military in a brutal civil war now into its second year. El-Fasher’s residents are mostly drawn from communities that were targeted during the previous conflict in Darfur, some 20 years ago, by the Janjaweed militia that was the forerunner to the RSF…The fighting is stop-start, with the frequent local ceasefires interrupted by clashes between the RSF and one or other of the government-allied rebel groups. Night-time strikes from government jets take place roughly twice a week, and the army fires heavy artillery at RSF positions. The RSF responds with shells, but many of these land on people’s houses, causing civilian casualties. Financial Times

As Famine Looms in Sudan, the Hungry Eat Soil and Leaves
Parts of Sudan are on the brink of famine – a brewing crisis that is man-made. Agriculture has been ravaged as farmers have had their harvested crops stolen by the RSF and fled their lands due to the violence. Hunger, not just fighting, is now driving displacement as people leave home in search of food…And international aid arriving in Sudan is being blocked by the military from reaching people in areas where starvation has set in…People across Sudan are taking increasingly desperate measures to survive. In West Darfur, farmers whose lands were plundered by the RSF have eaten the seeds they bought for planting because they have run out of food…In Khartoum, residents under siege in their homes have picked the leaves off trees and boiled and eaten them…Farmers said their assailants, though often wearing RSF uniforms, didn’t seem to be part of a clear chain of command. They operated, vigilante style, in small cells of about 20 people, each with its own leader. Reuters

Niger: Former President Mohamed Bazoum’s Lawyers Call on the State Court
The State Court is expected to rule in about ten days on the lifting of the immunity of the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, to stand trial, particularly for “high treason.” Mohamed Bazoum’s defense team urges the State Court to reopen the debate to allow the ousted president’s lawyers access to the case file, communicate with their client, and prepare his defense…In their document, the lawyers cite various national and international texts ratified by Niger that “mandate strict respect for the rights of the defense.” They also question, in terms of legal interpretation, the designation of “former president,” which would potentially enable the lifting of his immunity: he has not completed his term, resigned, or passed away, they note. Africanews with agencies

Macron Urges Rwanda to End Support for DRC Rebels, Withdraw Troops
Rwanda must end support for M23 rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and withdraw troops from its neighbor’s territory, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday…After eight years of dormancy, the mostly Tutsi M23 rebellion took up arms again in late 2021, seizing large swathes of North Kivu province in the eastern DRC. According to DR Congo, the United Nations and Western countries, neighboring Rwanda is backing the M23. Le Monde with AFP

UK to Deport Nearly 6,000 Migrants to Rwanda This Year, Says Minister
The United Kingdom expects to deport nearly 6,000 migrants to Rwanda this year, a senior minister said Tuesday, April 30, after the government published new details on the controversial plan. The figures come days after the plan aimed at deterring migrant arrivals on small boats from northern Europe became law following months of parliamentary wrangling. Rwanda has “in principle” agreed to accept 5,700 migrants already in the UK, the Home Office revealed late Monday. Of those, 2,143 “can be located for detention” before being flown there, according to the Home Office. Law enforcement agencies will find the remainder, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said Tuesday when asked about the 5,700 earmarked for deportation. Le Monde with AFP

Over Half of UK Asylum Seekers Assigned for Removal to Rwanda Cannot Be Located
More than half of asylum seekers assigned for removal to Rwanda cannot be easily located, according to a UK government report, as official data showed the number of claimants falling into homelessness has surged. The government said Rwanda had “in principle agreed to accept” 5,700 asylum seekers from the UK but noted in an impact assessment that only “2,143 continue to report to the Home Office and can be located for detention”. Home Office officials claimed, in a document released on Monday, that the 3,557 remaining people had not necessarily disappeared or “absconded” but were not obliged to report to officials, making it more difficult to track them down…The government is expected this week to launch a UK-wide operation to detain asylum seekers in preparation for removal, which will involve detaining people who arrive at immigration service offices for scheduled meetings. Financial Times

Rwandan Opposition Leader Launches Claim in Regional Court
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza told the Guardian that the Rwandan government’s refusal to allow her to stand or leave the country to see her ill husband showed that the government under Paul Kagame did not adhere to international law. On Tuesday, she launched a claim in the east African court of justice, saying she should be allowed to oppose the president in July’s general election…Umuhoza has taken her case to the court in Arusha, Tanzania, in an attempt to oppose Kagame, the president since 2010 who has been accused of running a dictatorship. In the last election, he won 98.8% of the vote…She is asking the east African court to overturn a March ruling of the Rwandan high court that refused her application on the grounds that it determined that some conditions imposed on her release from prison in 2018 had still to be met. The Guardian

Arrest Warrant Issued for Central African Republic’s Former President over Crimes against Humanity
A UN-backed court has issued an arrest warrant for the Central African Republic’s former president François Bozizé over possible crimes against humanity committed by the nation’s military between 2009 and 2013. The alleged crimes include murder, enforced disappearance, torture, rape and other inhumane acts, according to the special criminal court (CPS), a hybrid jurisdiction located in the capital Bangui with Central African and foreign magistrates. Bozizé, 77, seized power in Central Africa in 2003 in a coup before being overthrown 10 years later. He now heads the country’s main rebellion and has been in exile in Guinea-Bissau since March 2023…The court’s magistrates are probing possible “crimes against humanity” committed by Bozizé’s presidential guard between February 2009 and March 2013 at a civilian prison and at a military training facility in the central town of Bossembélé. The Guardian

Withdrawal Limits as Zimbabwe Releases New Currency
Zimbabwe has introduced new banknotes and coins, set to commence on Tuesday, as all banks have received the local currency from the central bank for nationwide distribution. The highest denomination of the new currency, known as Zimbabwe Gold or ZiG, will be the 200 ZiG note, valued at approximately $15. In accordance with directives from authorities, individuals will be permitted to withdraw up to ZiG 3,000 per week, while companies can withdraw up to ZiG 30,000. Reports from local media suggest that there are no cash withdrawal limits for institutions such as parliament, courts, and international organizations…[E]arly indications reveal challenges for the new currency. A digital version has already experienced a 25% depreciation against the US dollar on the black market. Africanews

Botswana’s Diamond Industry Gets Boost amid Global Uncertainty
Botswana’s diamond trade is on the rise despite industry uncertainty over efforts to sanction Russian stones. De Beers has relocated its auctions headquarters from Singapore to Botswana, while the secretariat of the Kimberley Process, a trade regime that certifies rough diamond exports to eliminate trade in conflict gems, also moved to the African nation…The relocation comes as the diamond industry reels from effects of a traceability initiative introduced by the Group of Seven leading industrialized countries, or G7, in a bid to sanction Russian diamonds. Under the arrangement, all diamonds entering G7 markets are routed through Antwerp, Belgium, to ascertain their origin…The Kimberley Process is a global initiative by the diamond industry to eliminate trade in conflict gems. VOA

South African Police Investigate If Former President’s Party Forged Signatures to Contest Elections
South African police were investigating Tuesday if former President Jacob Zuma’s new political party forged supporters’ signatures to register for national elections next month…The MK Party had its registration last year rejected by the Independent Electoral Commission before a second attempt was successful…The new investigation into the MK Party came after a national newspaper reported Sunday that a former party official has told police there was an elaborate scheme to forge some of the 15,000 signatures required for parties to register for the elections. The Independent Electoral Commission called for an investigation, and National Police Commissioner Gen. Fannie Masemola said Tuesday that an inquiry had been opened in Cape Town, where the forgery allegedly occurred. Masemola said the investigation would establish if there was a case for prosecutors. AP

Tunisian Opposition Wants Political Prisoners Freed before Taking Part in Presidential Election
Tunisia’s main opposition coalition said Tuesday it won’t take part in the North African country’s upcoming presidential election unless President Kais Saied’s political opponents are freed and judicial independence is restored. More than 20 political opponents have been charged or imprisoned since Saied consolidated power in 2021 by suspending parliament and rewriting the country’s constitution. Voters weary of political and economic turmoil approved his constitutional changes in a 2021 referendum with low turnout. Saied is widely expected to run in the presidential election, likely to take place in September or October. It is unclear if anyone will challenge him. AP