Africa Media Review for May 22, 2024

Chad’s PM Masra Resigns after Disputed Election, Deby Confirmed Winner
Chad’s prime minister and opposition leader Succes Masra has tendered his resignation after interim President Mahamat Idriss Deby was confirmed as a winner of the May 6 presidential election, Masra said on Wednesday. Masra, a staunch opponent of the junta, which seized power in April 2021, was appointed prime minister of the transitional government in January, four months ahead of the poll, in a move to appease the opposition…Before the official announcement of preliminary results Masra claimed victory, alleging that electoral fraud was being planned. Chad’s state election body said Deby had won the election outright with 61% of the vote and the constitutional council later confirmed him as a winner. Masra has acknowledged the council’s ruling and said there were no other legal means to contest the results. “In accordance with the constitution, I have today presented… my resignation and that of the transitional government, which has become irrelevant with the end of the presidential election of May 6,” Masra said on X on Wednesday. Deby’s victory prolongs the rule of the family that has had a firm grip on power since Deby’s father took over in a coup in the early 1990s. Reuters

More Control, Less Deniability: What Next for Russia in Africa after Wagner?
Moscow is keen to extend its sphere of influence on a global scale, find further export markets and access natural resources. Africa presents the perfect opportunity to execute those ideas, some observers say. Influence is directed through an umbrella entity run by the Russian ministry of defence called Africa Corps…It has incorporated Wagner group, the controversial paramilitary company that was headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin before his death onboard a jet north of Moscow last August…After Prigozhin’s death, Wagner’s structure and operations were absorbed into Africa Corps…Under the new arrangement, Russian troop arrivals have been restricted to only a few hundred per deployment. Even combined with understaffed local armies, numbers are too low to properly take on armed groups. Experts say that is a design feature, not a flaw. “These forces are not there for citizen security, they’re effectively protection details for the regimes … that Moscow has co-opted,” said [Dr Joseph Siegle, the director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies]. “Moscow has seen [that] it doesn’t need to deploy many [soldiers],” he added. “There’s just a hundred or so in Niger and Burkina Faso … it’s a financially satisfactory arrangement for the Russians but, even more, it’s a politically satisfactory arrangement.” The Guardian

Mali Court Jails Professor for Criticizing Military Government
A court in Mali has sentenced a well-known academic to two years in prison, one of which is suspended, for criticizing the military regime…[Etienne Fakaba Sissoko], an economist and professor at the University of Bamako, is the latest victim of a crackdown on criticism by the colonels who took power in 2020. He was charged with “harming the reputation of the state,” “defamation” and “dissemination of false news disturbing the public peace” over his 2023 book “Propaganda, Agitation and Harassment, Government Communication During the Transition in Mali”…The book details the government’s “aggressive” use of “propaganda, agitation, manipulation and even lies” to win over public opinion, according to an online summary by the publishers. But the government is experiencing its “first setbacks, a sign of running out of steam,” it said…[H]is lawyer said he particularly angered the government by speaking publicly about the effect of sanctions imposed on Mali by its West African neighbors. AFP

Why the Biden White House Chose Kenya for Its First State Visit by an African Leader
The White House welcomes this week the President of Kenya William Ruto for the first state visit for an African leader. VOA White House correspondent Anita Powell sat down with Frances Brown, the newly appointed director for African affairs at the National Security Council…VOA: Why was Kenya chosen and what deliverables can we expect? Frances Brown: We chose Kenya for a few reasons. No. 1 is the Kenya-U.S. partnership has really grown from a regionally focused one to a globally focused one…and we see a lot of complementarities in terms of what we’re trying to do on climate. What we’re trying to do on debt for the developing world, and on security issues. The second reason we wanted to have this state visit with Kenya is that we are both democracies, and our bond is very deep as democracies…The third reason is that Kenya and the U.S. really work similarly in terms of bringing in the private sector to solve global challenges. VOA

Kenyan Special Forces Police to Arrive in Haiti to Help Combat Gang Violence
Kenyan special forces police who have spent time battling al-Shabaab fighters in east Africa are expected to arrive in Haiti in the coming days, as the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, warned the Caribbean country was “on the precipice of becoming an all-out failed state”. A small advance group of Kenyan officers – part of a larger UN-backed “multinational security support mission” designed to stabilize Haiti after months of mayhem – landed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, late on Monday as the city’s airport reopened nearly three months after a gang uprising forced it to close…The first Kenyan officers to arrive will reportedly come from an elite paramilitary unit called the recce squad, the rapid deployment force and members of a police special operation group.  The Guardian

With Europe’s Support, North African Nations Push Migrants to the Desert
A year-long joint investigation by The Washington Post, Lighthouse Reports and a consortium of international media outlets shows how the European Union and individual European nations are supporting and financing aggressive operations by governments in North Africa to detain tens of thousands of migrants each year and dump them in remote areas, often barren deserts. European funds have been used to train personnel and buy equipment for units implicated in desert dumps and human rights abuses, records and interviews show. Migrants have been pushed back into the most inhospitable parts of North Africa, exposing them to abandonment with no food or water, kidnapping, extortion, sale as human chattel, torture, sexual violence and, in the worst instances, death…The E.U., under its own laws as well as international treaties, is obliged to ensure that its funds are spent in ways that respect fundamental human rights. But the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, has conceded that human rights assessments are not conducted when funding migrant management projects abroad. The Washington Post

Three Mozambican Women’s Stories of Enslavement by Jihadist Insurgents
Hundreds – and possibly thousands – of women and girls have been kidnapped by the group known locally as al-Shabab (“the youth” in Arabic), which began a rebellion in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province in 2017…Amina, 27, was kidnapped by al-Shabab from February 2020 to August 2023. She was separated from her children and only found out they were alive after breaking free. Her life was threatened in the camp and she was repeatedly raped. “You are not a person to us,” fighters told her…Sheila, 30, was kidnapped for one year between 2021 and 2022. During captivity, she was forced to find food and water for the fighters and was also used as a foil to help the group kidnap other women…Neila, 37, witnessed her husband and several relatives being killed by al-Shabab on the day that she was kidnapped. During a month in captivity, she was repeatedly raped and forcibly married to a fighter. The New Humanitarian

South Africa: Daily Maverick Journalists Came to Cover Death in Shoprite Cold Room – Security Guards Retaliate with Rubber Bullets
Daily Maverick journalist Nonkululeko Njilo and Chief photographer Felix Dlangamandla came under fire when Personal Protection Specialists security officers fired rubber bullets and stun grenades into a group of residents asking for answers about the death of a community member…”We had been alerted on the morning of 20 May that a man had allegedly been held in a Shoprite cold room for stealing a chocolate bar. The information we had was that he had died…It was obvious that I was a journalist as I was recording interviews with my phone and writing in a notebook. A colleague from Kaya FM had also joined with their recording equipment. We stood alongside the crowd, which had grown restless. Then the security guards fired rubber bullets and stun grenades and the crowd scattered. Some in the crowd retaliated by throwing stones at the guards, who continued to fire even after the crowd had fled the premises. Bystanders, shoppers and pedestrians sought shelter behind trees and cars. Like everybody else, I ran for my life, and sought shelter in front of a vehicle…I am left with the question of why the security guards continued shooting even after they had secured the area,” [Njilo said.] Daily Maverick

Time to Remind Parties of the Electoral Code and Its Protection of Journalists
It seems that we need to remind the political parties of their obligations under the Electoral Code – without credible media there can’t be credible elections…The Electoral Code is clear on the protection of journalists, it states: “8. Every registered party and every candidate: (a) Must respect the role of the media before, during and after an election conducted in terms of this Act;,(b) May not prevent access by members of the media to public political meetings, marches, demonstrations, and rallies; and (c) Must take all reasonable steps to ensure that journalists are not subjected to harassment, intimidation; hazard, threat, or physical assault by any of their representatives or supporters.” It is incredibly alarming that in covering the launch of the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) Party manifesto launch on 18 May that journalists and photographers were manhandled, shoved and pushed down to the floor. Some women journalists were allegedly kicked while others were verbally assaulted and aggressively treated by people dressed in military attire. Traditional media’s power has been significantly undermined, largely because of the rise of digital media, a deepening trust deficit in democratic institutions and the pandemic-like spread of online harms, including mis- and disinformation…While on some level the media’s power has been diluted, with other media playing a role in shaping narratives – the critical importance of news media remains…While there is no question that we need a credible electoral management body to run the elections, as well as the other elements highlighted above, for our elections to be free, fair and credible, we also need credible, accurate, fair media in the lead-up to elections. Daily Maverick

Gunmen Kill Some 40 People in Attack in North-Central Nigeria
Gunmen riding motorbikes killed around 40 people in a raid on a mining community in north-central Nigeria, opening fire on residents and torching homes, the local government said on Tuesday. The attack late Monday in Wase district in Plateau state was the latest violence in an area that has long been a flashpoint for disputes over resources and outbreaks of intercommunal clashes…Wase has deposits of zinc and lead, while Plateau as a whole is known for its tin mining industry. Sitting on the dividing line between Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south, Plateau often sees outbreaks of violence sparked by disputes between nomadic herders and pastoral farmers. AFP

Egypt Will Use ‘All Scenarios’ to Preserve Security, Source Tells Al Qahera News TV
Egypt’s respect for treaties does not prevent it from using “all scenarios to preserve its national security and the historical rights of Palestinians”, the state-affiliated Al Qahera News TV quoted what it termed a high-level source as saying on Tuesday. The report came as tension grows between Egypt and Israel over the Israeli military operation in and around the city of Rafah at the southern end of the Gaza Strip, just across the border from Egypt. Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979 and for years have cooperated closely on security across their shared border and on the border between Gaza and Egypt. Cairo has warned, however, that relations could be undermined by Israel’s campaign in Gaza. It says the offensive in Rafah is preventing use of the Rafah crossing for deliveries of badly needed humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israel announced on May 7 that it had taken operational control of the crossing. Egyptian security sources say Egypt opposes Israel’s presence there and wants it to withdraw. Reuters

French, Russia, Chinese Firms Vie to Build Ghana’s First Nuclear Power Plant
Ghana will select by December a company to build its first nuclear power plant from contenders including France’s EDF, U.S.-based NuScale Power and Regnum Technology Group, and China National Nuclear Corporation, an energy ministry official said. South Korea’s Kepco and its subsidiary Korea Hydro Nuclear Power Corporation as well as Russia’s ROSATOM were also competing for the contract expected to span the next decade, said Robert Sogbadji, deputy director for power in charge of nuclear and alternative energy…Sogbadji said 16 countries and companies had responded to the government’s request for vendors, but a technical team of state agencies led by the energy ministry narrowed it down to the current five nations. Ghana, like other African countries, is increasingly looking to the possibility of nuclear power to close supply gaps in a continent where over 600 million people lack access to electricity. Reuters