Africa Media Review for May 17, 2024

Chad’s Mahamat Deby Confirmed as Winner of Disputed Election
Chad’s constitutional council confirmed Mahamat Idriss Deby as winner of the May 6 presidential election on Thursday after dismissing challenges by two losing candidates – cementing a victory that extended his family’s decades-long rule…Opposition leader Masra acknowledged the council’s ruling and did not say he would fight it. “With the decision of the constitutional council today, we have used all available legal means, and even if we do not accept this decision, there are no other legal means in our judicial architecture,” he said in a live address on Thursday evening…Before the election, some opposition parties and civil society groups had called for a boycott, saying Deby and his allies control the main institutions of power, including the constitutional council, and could influence the process. Authorities banned the publication of polling station results. Reuters

Arab Summit Voices Support for Sudan, Urges Ceasefire
The Arab League concluded its summit in Manama, Bahrain, on Thursday with a final statement expressing full solidarity with Sudan and affirming support for the country’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. The League emphasized “The importance of maintaining Sudanese state institutions, particularly the armed forces”. Arab leaders urged all parties to adhere to the Jeddah Declaration, a Saudi Arabia and US-mediated agreement signed in May 2023. The Declaration calls for a ceasefire, the opening of humanitarian aid routes, and civilian protection. Sudan Tribune

UN’s Rights Chief Says Horrified by Sudan Escalation as Famine Draws Nearer
According to the UN human rights office, OHCHR, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, held separate phone calls on Tuesday with Lt-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the rival Rapid Support Forces. Mr. Türk urged them both to act immediately – and publicly – to de-escalate the situation, said OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani, who noted that the UN rights chief had previously approached the rival generals in November 2022…Thirteen months of war in Sudan have left half of the population in need of humanitarian assistance – a staggering 25 million people, including 14 million children. Millions have been repeatedly displaced, becoming more vulnerable each time, and aid teams have warned repeatedly that famine is closing in, with the approach of the rainy season. UN News

South Sudan Government, Rebel Groups Sign Peace Pact
South Sudan government and rebel opposition groups on Thursday signed a commitment declaration for lasting peace. The agreement, signed during the high-level mediation talks in Kenya, is seen as key in ongoing efforts to end the conflict that has engulfed the young nation. Chaired by the Kenyan mediator, Major-Gen (rtd) Lazarus Sumbeiywo, the talks are between the Juba government and rebel opposition groups that were not part of the September 2018 peace agreement that ended a five-year civil war. The talks have been dubbed Tumaini, meaning hope in the Swahili language.
The content of the agreement was, however, not made public at the ceremony. The two parties pledged to support efforts to end hostilities and promote peace…The leader of the South Sudanese government delegation, Albino Mathom said the talks showed why home-grown solutions are key in tackling regional conflicts. Sudan Tribune

Ethiopia Protests US Ambassador’s Speech After He Calls for Release of Political Prisoners
Ethiopia lodged a complaint Thursday over statements by the U.S. ambassador after he said the release of political prisoners could help the country engage in a productive dialogue and that detaining critics won’t resolve the country’s issues. The Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement that Ambassador Ervin Massinga’s speech on policy and human rights contained “allegations” and “unsolicited advice,” and that it would work with the Embassy to correct the “errors and inconsistencies” in his statement…[Massinga] urged the government and rebel groups to agree to dialogue and that “the country has far more to gain through peace than on the battlefield.” AP

As Crisis Escalates in Tunisia, Lawyers Strike over Arrested Colleague They Say Was Tortured
Lawyers in Tunisia took to the streets on Thursday to protest a string of recent arrests that have convulsed the country over the past week and provoked international outcry…Protests about civil rights have been routine since President Kais Saied froze Tunisia’s parliament, consolidated his own power and fired top ministers in July 2021. But the speed and number of arrests this week — of the lawyers as well as journalists and prominent activists — have marked a new phase in his crackdown against dissidents. The Bar Association said in a statement that Mehdi Zaghrouba, one of the lawyers arrested, was tortured and lost consciousness after being apprehended, leaving visible injuries throughout his body. AP

Kenyan President Aims to Attract Green Investment during U.S. Visit
Kenya will launch an initiative with the United States next week to develop a green manufacturing base in Kenya, accelerating the country’s production of clean energy, building supply chains for batteries and electric vehicles, and encouraging investment by U.S. companies seeking factories powered by renewable energy, according to President William Ruto. In an interview ahead of his state visit to Washington starting Wednesday, Ruto says the deal will draw on Kenya’s green energy production — 93 percent of its power now comes from renewable sources — to help American companies shrink their carbon footprint…Ruto said he wants to see economic activities shifted to Kenya from countries more reliant on fossil fuels, including the production of apparel and steel, refining of minerals and metals and manufacturing of green hydrogen, a gas used as fuel or to make fertilizer. The Washington Post

Kenya Rallies Police Officers Ahead of Haiti Deployment
Hundreds of Kenyan police officers have been training since late last year to embark on the deployment of a lifetime: helping lead a multinational force tasked with quelling gang-fueled lawlessness in Haiti…Now, months after finishing their training, Kenyan officers were called back from leave this week in preparation for leaving for Haiti…The officers were chosen from Kenya’s General Service Unit and the Administration Police, two paramilitary units tasked with dealing with everything from riots and cattle rustling to protecting borders and the president. The officers said they received physical and weapons training from Kenyan and American security personnel and were given details about how Haitian gangs operate. They also took French classes and lessons on human rights and Haiti’s history. The New York Times

Kenyan Lawyers Move to Block Plan to Deploy Police to Haiti
Kenyan lawyers have moved to block the country’s planned deployment of police to Haiti, a court filing showed…Lawyers Ekuru Aukot and Miruru Waweru, who lead an opposition party in Kenya called Thirdway Alliance, said in their application to the High Court on Thursday that respondents including Ruto and the police had blatantly disobeyed the court order in signing the reciprocal instrument with Haiti. They said the government would be in contempt of court if it pressed ahead with the deployment…Kenya’s government said in March it was pausing the deployment following Henry’s resignation. But Ruto said later that the swearing-in of a transition council in Haiti on April 25 had addressed concerns about a power vacuum there and that Kenya was now discussing how to proceed with its deployment. Reuters

Kenya, Uganda to Extend Oil Pipeline from Eldoret to Kampala
Kenya and Uganda have agreed to jointly extend the oil pipeline from Eldoret to Uganda in a deal that will see Kampala import refined petroleum products directly through Nairobi. Nairobi says the extension will facilitate trade relations between the two nations. The two countries also signed a tripartite agreement paving the way for the Uganda National Oil Company (Unoc) to import petroleum products through the port of Mombasa…Uganda and Kenya have also agreed to extend the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Naivasha to Uganda and eventually to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nation

Senegalese Prime Minister Criticises French Military Bases on Territory
Senegal’s prime minister Ousmane Sonko raised the possibility of closing French military bases in the West African country on Thursday in a wide-ranging speech that also touched on the euro-backed CFA franc currency, oil and gas deals and LGBTQ rights. Sonko, a firebrand politician who gained power when his hand-picked presidential candidate Bassirou Diomaye Faye won a decisive victory in March, is known for criticising perceived overreach by France in its former colony. France has about 350 troops in Senegal…He also said Senegal, which shares the euro-pegged CFA franc currency with seven countries, would like a flexible currency pegged to at least two currencies to help absorb shocks and support export competitiveness…He also called on Western countries to show “restraint, respect, reciprocity and tolerance” on social matters including LGBTQ rights and gender equality. Reuters

Ghana Parliament Recalled for Urgent Business after LGBT Row
Ghana’s parliament, which has been adjourned since March following a row between the speaker and the president over an anti-LGBT bill, will reconvene on Friday to discuss approval of ministerial appointees and other “urgent matters”…Lawmakers in February unanimously passed one of Africa’s most restrictive anti-LGBT bills, but President Nana Akufo-Addo has not yet signed it into law. His office said it would wait for the outcome of two legal challenges to the bill before it passes to the president for assent.
The delay sparked a backlash from supporters of the bill and has hobbled parliamentary procedures in Ghana, including the approval of ministerial nominations following a government reshuffle in February…Around 21 nominees to ministerial and deputy ministerial posts, including two for the finance ministry, and other scheduled business, are awaiting approval. Reuters

Ex-south African Leader’s Corruption Trial Date Set as He Fights Another Case to Run for Election
Former South African President Jacob Zuma will go on trial for alleged corruption next April, four years after he was formally charged with taking bribes in connection with a multi-billion-dollar arms deal and 20 years after he was first implicated, prosecutors said Thursday. Zuma is charged with multiple counts of corruption as well as racketeering, fraud, tax evasion and money laundering over a huge deal the South African government signed to revamp its armed forces in 1999…He is accused of receiving bribes in return for giving the deal political protection and ensuring it went through despite questions over it. AP

Zimbabwe Unleashes Police, Intelligence Services on People Rejecting New ZiG Currency
A month after the introduction of the gold-backed ZiG currency in Zimbabwe, the government has set up Gestapo-like surveillance mechanisms to catch those who reject the new money…The Zimbabwe Republic Police, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Financial Intelligence Unit and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission are each running separate operations to enforce the acceptance of ZiG. National police spokesperson assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi told the media so far, 224 alleged illegal foreign currency traders or money changers had been arrested, and 90 bank accounts frozen. Last week, a transaction landed a teacher in jail on allegations of illegal money trading. News24