Africa Media Review for May 28, 2024

Political Killings Rock South Africa as It Heads into Elections
As South Africans head into national elections Wednesday, the country’s politics have been rocked by an epidemic of assassinations, including 40 recorded since the start of last year. While they have largely targeted local officials, politicians and activists, the killings appear set to impact the outcome of the national vote. The killings have fostered a climate of lawlessness and government paralysis that has fueled voter anger, and the failure of the ruling African National Congress to stem the violence has been eroding the party’s popularity…The ANC has grown so concerned about the hijacking of local administrations by violent criminals that it warned in a document at its last party conference that “entrenched gangs and extortion networks have sought to establish criminalized forms of governance”…Many of the political killings are linked to disputes over corrupt government contracts for basic services such as sewage, security, water, trash collection, electricity and road repairs. The Washington Post

Social Media Comes under Scrutiny in South African Elections
South Africa’s upcoming election on May 29, is seeing tech companies coming under a spotlight for refusing to share detailed plans to prevent use of social media to incite the public. That and fears over fake news are a concern among some stakeholders argue freely available platforms such as Tiktok, Facebook and X could fuel the problem. In 2021, a wave of violence swept through South Africa, resulting in over 300 deaths following a top court’s decision to imprison former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. The situation escalated when social media platforms were found to have played a significant role in fueling the violence by amplifying inciting posts, as confirmed by South Africa’s Human Rights Commission in January 2024. There are growing concerns about political violence due to the reported threats from members and supporters of the newly formed uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party, led by ex-president Jacob Zuma…The refusal by tech platforms to share their election plan is seen as undermining democracy in South Africa, as activists and experts behind the Global Coalition for Tech Justice voiced their concerns about the platforms’ lack of cooperation despite the looming threat of political violence…This lack of transparency has raised doubts about the platforms’ commitment to ensuring a fair and safe electoral process. The EastAfrican

Kenyan Police Advance Team Leaves Haiti as International Mission Is Delayed
An advance team of Kenyan police officials who were assessing preparedness before a multinational force is deployed to quell violence in Haiti is heading back home after the planned deployment was delayed over logistical issues. The team is due to arrive back from Haiti on Monday after recommending a deployment delay that was later announced by the president. A senior Kenyan official who declined to be named as they are not the official spokesperson said the bases are still under construction and crucial resources including vehicles are needed before deployment of the first 200 police officers from Kenya can take place. The deployment was due to start [last] week, but President William Ruto said it would be delayed for three weeks. The base where the police will operate from is about 70% done and there is need for secure stores for the armory, according to the senior official, who was in the advance team. The officials arrived in Haiti on Tuesday, met the Haitian police on Thursday and the transitional presidential council on Friday. AP

Sudan: Deteriorating Situation in El Fasher, Health System Collapsing Nationwide
The humanitarian situation for some 800,000 civilians in El Fasher, Sudan, and surrounding areas in North Darfur continues to deteriorate amid ongoing clashes between rival military forces, the UN reported on Friday. The fighting has reportedly forced thousands of people to flee since 10 May and caused hundreds of civilian casualties, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists in New York. “Unfortunately, in El Fasher South Hospital – which is the only functioning hospital in that state – only 10 days of supplies are left, with an urgent need to restock the hospital,” he said…Mr. Dujarric said more than a dozen trucks carrying aid for more than 121,000 people have been trying to reach El Fasher for over a month, but have been hampered because of the security situation. UN News

Comoros President Sworn In for Fourth Term after Disputed Poll
Comoros President Azali Assoumani…was sworn in for his fourth term in office, following a tense January election which his opponents claim was tainted by voter fraud. One person was killed and at least 25 injured in violent protests that erupted in the country, a group of three islands off the coast of Mozambique, after the election body declared him re-elected to another five-year term…Opposition leaders claimed the latest presidential poll was rigged, alleging instances of ballot stuffing and of voting being ended before the official closing time…Assoumani first came to power through a coup in 1999. He stepped down in 2002 and then won elections 14 years later. Constitutional reforms in 2018 removed a requirement that the presidency rotate among its three main islands every five years, allowing Assoumani to seek re-election in 2019. Reuters

Tunisia Replaces Interior, Social Affairs Ministers
Tunisia’s president abruptly replaced the interior and social affairs ministers Saturday night, May 25, in a surprise cabinet reshuffle following a wave of arrests that has raised fresh fears for the health of the young democracy. President Kais Saied named Khaled Nouri minister of interior, according to a statement from his office, replacing Kamel Feki, who had been considered close to the head of state. Technocrat Kamel Madouri will be the new social affairs minister, replacing Malek Zahi, who was also seen as having the president’s ear. The reshuffle also created the new post of secretary of state overseeing national security under the interior minister, with Sofiene Ben Sadok named to the role, the statement said without elaborating…The reshuffle was announced a day after hundreds of Tunisians marched through the capital chanting “down with the dictatorship” as they protested against the recent arrests under a presidential decree critics say is being used to stifle dissent. Le Monde avec AFP

Egypt Jails Former Presidential Hopeful for One Year with Labour
An Egyptian court sentenced former presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawy on Monday to one year in prison with labour on charges of forging election documents, and barred him from standing in elections for the next five years, his lawyer Khaled Ali said. Tantawy was the most prominent politician to challenge President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he sought a third term last year. Tantawy halted his campaign saying state-linked groups had impeded him from gathering the required number of public endorsements to register as a candidate, and that dozens of his family members and allies had been arrested…Tantawy was found guilty of the charges in a lower court in February and given a suspended sentence that was upheld by on Monday…Rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of people have been jailed for political dissent under Sisi. Egyptian officials have denied holding political prisoners. Reuters

Burkina Faso Military Rule Extended for Five Years
Burkina Faso’s military regime, in power since a 2022 coup, will extend its rule for five years under an accord adopted during national consultations on Saturday, May 25, the talks’ chairman said. “The duration of the transition is fixed at 60 months from July 2, 2024,” Colonel Moussa Diallo, chairman of the organizing committee of the national dialogue process, said after the talks. He added that coup leader and acting president Ibrahim Traoré could run in any elections at the end of the transition period…An initial national dialogue had resulted in a charter that installed Traoré as president and put in place a government and a legislative assembly. Under the new charter, quotas will no longer be used to assign seats in the assembly to members of traditional parties. Instead, “patriotism” will be the only criteria for selecting deputies…Civil society representatives, the security and defense forces and lawmakers in the transitional assembly took part in the weekend talks, which most political parties boycotted. Le Monde avec AFP

Mali Opposition Sets Up Transition Government in Exile
Malian opposition politicians said Saturday that they had formed a transition government in exile to rival the one governing the country, ruled by the military since a 2020 coup. It was the latest maneuver by the civilian opposition since Mali’s military rulers failed to meet a March deadline to hold elections and hand over power to a civilian government…”The citizen assembly of the civil transition has today elected the members of the government,” read a statement datelined Geneva and signed by exiled Malian politician Adaman Traore, identified as the body’s president. This “civil transition (government)…is the only legitimate one in Mali,” the text said. It named the prime minister and defense minister of the rival government as Mohamed Cherif Kone, one of several prominent exiled politicians listed as members. The announcement came a day after the political movement behind Mali’s junta-appointed civilian prime minister, Choguel Kokalla Maiga, openly criticized the military rulers for the first time. AFP

Over 20 Killed in Attack on Central Mali Village
Over 20 civilians were killed in an attack in central Mali on Saturday, a local official said on Sunday. The attack targeted a village in the Circle of Bankass in Mopti region – one of several areas in Mali’s north and centre where jihadist groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State have been waging an insurgency since 2012. Bankass Mayor Moulaye Guindo said unidentified armed assailants attacked villagers on their way to work their fields. Reuters

EU to End Military Mission to Niger by June 30
The European Union will end a military mission comprising dozens of soldiers in Niger at the end of June, it said on Monday, citing the junta-run nation’s political situation. Until a coup in 2023, Niger had been a partner of the West in Africa’s Sahel region against militants who have killed thousands and displaced millions more. However, the military rulers have pushed former colonial power France to remove its forces and agreed on the withdrawal of American troops, while deepening ties with Russia…Established in 2022, the mission in one of the world’s poorest countries has some 50-100 European troops there to help with logistics and infrastructure. Reuters

EU Partners with Kenya to Prosecute Suspected Maritime Crime Suspects
With threats to shipping on the rise in the Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea, the European Union is asking Kenya for assistance in prosecuting suspected criminals caught in the region’s waters…The EU’s Operation Atalanta is a military operation in the Horn of Africa that counters piracy at sea…According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Kenya is holding at least 120 suspected pirates and has convicted 18 of them. Kenya faced criticism about whether its legal system allows the prosecution of suspected pirates accused of having committed crimes far away from its territory. However, in 2012, a Kenyan court ruled the East African nation has jurisdiction to try Somali pirates carrying out attacks in international waters. VOA

Nigeria Is Emerging as a Critical Mineral Hub. The Government Is Cracking Down on Illegal Operations
The clean energy transition, a shift away from coal, oil and gas and toward renewable energy and batteries has spiked global demand for lithium, tin and other minerals. Illegal mines are rife in [Nigeria’s] fledging industry as corruption among regulatory officials is common and the mineral deposits are located in remote areas with minimal government presence. Officials say profits from illicit mining practices has helped arm militia groups in the north of the county…China is the dominant player in the global EV supply chain, including in Nigeria where China-owned companies employ mostly vulnerable people leaving Nigeria’s far north — ravaged by conflicts and rapid desertification — to work in mining operations throughout the country…To fight resource theft that causes losses of $9 billion to the government annually, according to the country’s extractive industry transparency watchdog, the West African nation set up a 2,200-strong “corps of mining marshals” earlier in the year. AP

Senegal: From Cocaine Consumer to Key Smuggling Hub
At the height of its popularity, there used to be areas in Dakar, such as Medina, Grand Dakar, and Parcelles Assainies, where crack [cocaine] smoking was a common sight, especially at night. But today, even this more affordable version of the highly addictive drug is no longer a commonplace sight. Trafficking activities have replaced local consumption patterns, and Senegal’s involvement in cocaine trafficking is just one aspect of a larger trend of extensive trafficking in the sub-region, according to Amado Philip de Andres, the regional representative for West and Central Africa at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). “If we compare seizures between 2019 and 2024, cocaine seizures and trafficking to West Africa are clearly increasing. Guinea Bissau is no longer the main gateway,” de Andres told DW…In Sahel countries like Burkina Faso, Niger, and Mali, there has equally been a noticeable increase in record seizures, suggesting that these nations are now playing a significant part in the smuggling of cocaine to Europe. DW

About 10 Civilians Killed in DR Congo Rebel Attack, Sources Say
Around 10 civilians were killed in the latest attacks blamed on ADF rebels affiliated with the Islamic State group in eastern DRC this weekend, prompting local authorities to launch an urgent appeal for help, sources told AFP Sunday. The ADF, originally mainly Muslim Ugandan rebels, have established a presence over the past three decades in eastern DRC, killing thousands of civilians. In recent weeks they have stepped up their attacks and looting of villages and health centers…Since the end of 2021, the Congolese and Ugandan armies have been conducting joint operations against the ADF in North Kivu and the neighboring province of Ituri, but have so far failed to stop the deadly attacks on civilians. AFP