Africa Media Review for May 10, 2024

Chad Declares Interim President Deby Winner of Disputed Vote
Chad’s state election body said on Thursday interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby had won the May 6 presidential election outright with over 61% of the vote, citing provisional results, even as his main challenger declared himself the winner. Chad’s junta has become the first of the coup-hit countries in West and Central Africa to stage a return to constitutional rule via the ballot box, but some opposition parties have cried foul over vote-rigging concerns. With tensions running high, large numbers of security forces deployed at major intersections in the capital N’Djamena ahead of the results announcement. National Election Management Agency chief Ahmed Bartichet said Deby had secured 61.3% of the vote – comfortably over the 50% needed to avoid a run-off. He said Deby’s prime minister and top opposition candidate Succes Masra, 40, had won 18.53%. Just before the ceremony, Masra claimed victory in a live broadcast on Facebook and called on security forces and his supporters to oppose what he called an attempt to steal the vote. “A small number of individuals believe they can make people believe that the election was won by the same system that has been ruling Chad for decades,” he said. … The disputed results cap a fraught electoral period marked by the killing of opposition figure Yaya Dillo, the rejection of prominent opposition figures from the candidate list, and other issues that critics say have compromised the credibility of the process. Reuters

Children ‘Piled Up and Shot’: New Details Emerge of Ethnic Cleansing in Darfur
Gruesome new testimony details one of the worst atrocities of the year-long Sudanese civil war – the large-scale massacre of civilians as they desperately tried to flee an ethnic rampage in Darfur last summer. Witnesses describe children, still alive, being “piled up and shot” by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as they attempted to escape the regional capital of El Geneina in June last year during a bout of ethnic violence in which thousands of civilians were killed. Together, the 221 witness statements collated by Human Rights Watch offer the latest evidence that the Arab-led RSF has orchestrated a concerted 12-month campaign of ethnic cleansing against Sudan’s non-Arab Masalit tribe in West Darfur. … A HRW report published Wednesday calls for sanctions for those ultimately responsible for widespread war crimes, including the West Darfur RSF commander Abdel Rahman Joma’a Barakallah, along with the notorious commander of the RSF, Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo, and his brother Abdel Raheem. Since fighting erupted between the RSF and Sudan’s military in April 2023, more than 8 million people have fled their homes amid a humanitarian crisis that the UN warns is one of the largest in decades. The current flashpoint, El Fasher, is the last city held by Sudan’s military in Darfur. The city is encircled by the RSF, and diplomats fear it is on the “precipice of a large-scale massacre”. The Guardian

8 Killed in Attack on DR Congo Health Center
At least eight civilians died Thursday in an attack on a health center in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to media reports that cited locals. The attack occurred in the country’s North Kivu province. Locals attributed the attack to the Allied Democratic Forces militia, which pledged loyalty to the Islamic State group in 2019. “For now we have a toll of eight dead, including the sick and the accountant at the health center,” Beni territory civil society leader Omar Kalisia told reporters. Kalisia added that one nurse was missing, and a house was set on fire. In late 2021, the DRC and neighboring Uganda launched a joint military operation against the Allied Democratic Forces. To date, that effort has not been successful. The Thursday attack on the health center follows a May 3 attack on a camp for displaced people in the same province, and a May 7 bombing in a village in a neighboring province. VOA

Press Freedom, Civic Space Shrinking in Nigeria under Tinubu – Group
Press freedom is on the decline and there is a shrinking of the civic space under President Bola Tinubu, a group of civil society and media organisations has said. The coalition, Action Group on the Protection of Civic Actors, in a jointly signed statement, said it is “deeply concerned about the growing cases of attacks on press freedom, and the flagrant abuse of due process and the rule of law by the Nigeria Police. …” It mentioned the specific case of the arrest of a journalist, Daniel Ojukwu, who has been detained without trial for over a week due to his work. “Particularly, the recent abduction and continued detention of Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), exemplifies this disregard for the rule of law and democratic principles. “Mr Ojukwu’s fundamental human rights have been blatantly violated. Even though the Nigeria Police has filed no formal charges, he remains in custody,” the group said. Premium Times

Tent Camps Razed and Activists Arrested as Tunisia Clamps Down on Migrants
Tensions in Tunisia ratcheted up as demonstrators seeking better rights for migrants staged a sit-in before European Union headquarters on Thursday, capping a week in which Tunisian authorities targeted migrant communities from the coast to the capital with arrests and the demolition of tent camps. Several activists were apprehended this week, accused of financial crimes stemming from providing aid to migrants. Authorities razed encampments outside U.N. headquarters, sweeping up dozens of sub-Saharan Africans who had been living there for months. Fewer migrants have made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea this year compared to last year, due to weather and beefed-up border security. The 2024 figures are in line with objectives set by the EU as part of a deal worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) that included assistance to better police the border and prevent migrants without papers from reaching Europe. However, human rights activists say the crackdown has been damaging for the tens of thousands of migrants stuck in Tunisia as a result. Demonstrators on Thursday blasted the security-centric approach that governments on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea have chosen to drive their migration policies. Some of the signs at the protests decried Tunisia’s cooperation with Italy and Europe, while others mourned the lives of Tunisians who have died or gone missing at sea. AP

Somalia Urged to Take ‘Concrete Action’ against Officials Who Violate Citizens’ Rights
The UN independent human rights expert on Somalia on Thursday called on authorities to step up efforts to address the country’s complex and serious security challenges. Concluding an official visit to the Horn of Africa nation Isha Dyfan highlighted the impact on civilians, especially women and children, who continue to bear the brunt of deadly attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab terrorists. “I strongly condemn the continued deadly attacks perpetrated by Al-Shabaab and urge the Government to take all steps to ensure the protection of civilians, and for armed groups to comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international humanitarian and human rights law,” she said. … Allegations of rape and gang rapes combined with homicide need to be addressed efficiently, ensuring that alleged perpetrators are identified and brought to justice, she said. … The independent expert further voiced grave concerns over continuing restrictions on civic space, including harassment, arbitrary arrest, detention and imprisonment of journalists and media workers leading to self-censorship. “A safe and inclusive civic space is essential to good governance, rule of law, and can help to reduce and prevent violence,” she urged. UN News

South Sudan Mediation Talks Launched in Kenya with a Hope of Ending Conflict
High-level mediation talks on South Sudan were launched on Thursday, May 9, in Kenya with African presidents calling for an end to a conflict that has crippled the country’s economy for years. South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir thanked his Kenyan counterpart, William Ruto, for hosting the talks and said that his government would negotiate in good faith and with an open mind. “We hope that the opposition groups have a similar conviction and desire for peace in South Sudan, which, when fully achieved, will bring everlasting stability and economic development in the region, not just South Sudan,” he said. The talks are between the government and rebel opposition groups that were not part of an 2018 agreement that ended a five-year civil war that left 400,000 people dead. Ruto reiterated Thursday the need for inclusive and home-grown solutions to African issues. “This initiative exemplifies the Pan-African policy of African solutions to African challenges, contributing to the ‘Silencing the Guns in Africa’ initiative and fostering an environment for transformational development in South Sudan, our region, and the entire African continent,” he said. Le Monde

South Africa Top Court Hears Case Questioning Zuma’s Electoral Eligibility
South Africa’s Constitutional Court will decide on an appeal questioning former President Jacob Zuma’s eligibility to run in this month’s election, a race that could tilt the balance of the parliament and determine the country’s next leader. The court in Johannesburg is on Friday hearing the appeal filed by the country’s election body after a lower court ruled that Zuma could run for office. Earlier, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), barred Zuma from contesting the May 29 polls. Zuma, 82, is fronting a new opposition party that has become a potential disrupter in the general election. While his party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), is not expected to win enough votes to return the former leader to the presidency, it could cut into the vote share of the dominant governing African National Congress (ANC) party, and determine who will be the country’s next leader. … The eligibility case against Zuma revolves around the interpretation of a constitutional norm barring anyone sentenced to more than 12 months’ imprisonment from serving in parliament. Al Jazeera

AI Becomes Latest Frontier in China-US Race for Africa
What’s the future of Artificial Intelligence in Africa? When that question is entered into the AI platform ChatGPT, it answers that it “holds immense potential for transformative impact across various sectors,” notably health care, agriculture and education. Human experts tend to agree, and AI is fast becoming the latest frontier in U.S.-China competition on the continent. “To advance in AI research and innovation, African countries will need significant investments in computing infrastructure,” said Chinasa T. Okolo, a Center for Technology Innovation fellow at The Brookings Institution. “The U.S. and China could potentially be good partners to help with such initiatives.” In the coming years, researchers predict AI companies will run out of data in English and Western languages but that is not the case in Africa where much more data is still needed, Okolo said. “Thus, by investing in Africa, companies from AI superpowers like the U.S. and China stand to gain valuable data that they could use to build services and systems to be sold back to African countries,” she said. VOA

First UN Civil Society Forum Held in Africa Heralds ‘Inclusive’ Summit of the Future
‘Meaningful participation’ and ‘inclusion’ were the buzzwords at the opening on Thursday of a major UN conference in Nairobi, Kenya, where governments were urged to heed the diverse voices of civil society, which were well-placed to work alongside them in building a fairer and more just future. Bringing together civil society actors, government representatives, senior UN officials, young changemakers, academic and other stakeholders, the UN Civil Society Conference is the premier event on the civil society calendar at the United Nations, ahead of the Summit of the Future, set for this coming September. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, in a video message to the event, began by expressing deep condolences to the victims of the devastating floods in Kenya and reiterating the United Nation’s continued commitment to supporting the Kenyan Government during this challenging time. … Florence Syevuo, [a] SDG Young Leader, said the Conference was a call from civil society to address global inequality once and for all, particularly those between the Global North and South. Some 70 per cent of the participants hailed from Africa, which was important; those left out of the ‘New York bubble’ could not meaningfully engage in conversations on sustainable development. UN News

The Fight to Save the African Penguin
Every year there are fewer African penguins and soon there may be none at all. Scientists say that the species is declining by around 8% every year. … The African penguin – which is native to South Africa and Namibia – has lost 99% of its population over the last century. “If the current rates of decline persist into the near future we could see the extinction of the species within our lifetime by 2035, so the situation is extremely urgent,” Dr McInnes warns. This is why BirdLife South Africa and the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) are taking legal action against the government in the first case of its kind in South Africa. … The now-discontinued practice of harvesting guano (accumulated bird droppings into which penguins would dig their burrows) damaged their habitat. Climate change is exacerbating the problem – storms and flooding endanger their colonies and it is becoming harder for the birds to access food as ocean currents and temperatures shift. And the sardines and anchovies on which the penguins depend are also a valuable commodity for the commercial fishing industry. The South African government has tried to restrict the activities of so-called purse seine fishing vessels, which use large nets to catch great shoals of fish. BBC