Africa Media Review for May 30, 2023

Bola Tinubu Sworn In as Nigeria’s President amid Hopes, Skepticism
Bola Tinubu became Nigeria’s president on Monday during a period of unprecedented challenges for Africa’s most populous country, leaving some citizens hopeful for a better life and others skeptical that his government would perform better than the one he succeeded. Thousands of Nigerians and several heads of government attended the swearing-in ceremony for the 71-year-old Tinubu in the country’s capital, Abuja. He succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari to lead a country that by 2050 is forecast to become the third most populous nation in the world, tied with the United States after India and China. Tinubu—the former governor of Lagos, which is Nigeria’s economic hub—has promised to build on Buhari’s efforts to deliver democratic dividends to citizens in a country where deadly security crises, widespread poverty and hunger have left many frustrated and angry. And with his election still being contested in court by opposition parties and among many young Nigerians, Tinubu has also pledged to reunite the country. AP

Niger Says 55 Jihadists Killed in Joint Operation
Niger’s army said Monday that 55 jihadists, including several high-ranking combatants affiliated to the Islamic State group, had been killed in a joint operation with Nigeria. The 22-day operation, which ended Sunday, targeted an Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stronghold in Arege, in northeastern Nigeria’s border region with Niger, it said. The 55 “neutralized terrorists” include several senior military operatives as well as several religious leaders, it said, using a traditional term for jihadists. The figures were given in an army bulletin on operations in Niger’s southeastern region of Diffa, seen by AFP on Monday. The ground and air operation aimed to “maintain pressure” on ISWAP and cut supply routes, the bulletin added. … The vast Lake Chad region, shared by Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, is a notorious refuge for Boko Haram jihadists and ISWAP, their deadly rival. VOA

Sudan War Raises Fear of Cross-Border Weapons Smuggling
Sudan’s conflict, which is now in its second month, is raising worries among neighbours that lawlessness there will be exported in the form of illegal small arms. The problem of illegal arms was already being felt across the Horn of Africa, owing to porous borders and continual violence in places like Somalia and South Sudan. But Sudan’s conflict is likely to raise the number of arms in the wrong hands as mercenaries flock in from across borders in the face of inability by the government to protect citizens from rogue elements due to the breakdown of law and order. Just like neighbouring Libya, the current situation is a fertile ground for dealers in illegal arms to flood the country with weapons. Before the fighting broke out on April 15, the UN Panel of Experts on Sudan had estimated that there were more than 2.7 million small arms and light weapons circulating outside of state-controlled stockpiles. East African

Darfur Governor Urges Civilians to Take Up Arms amidst Escalating Violence
The governor of Darfur, leader of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), has called on citizens to defend their property against looting and theft following the outbreak of armed conflict between the government army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In a tweet from El-Fasher, Governor Minnawi highlighted the increasing attacks on civilians and the sabotage of national institutions since the start of the fighting in Darfur. He urged the people of Darfur to take up arms to protect their property, emphasizing that the struggle movements would support them in legitimate acts of self-defence. He expressed his commitment to neutrality and called for an immediate cessation of the war, urging direct dialogue for a comprehensive political solution. Darfur armed groups formed a joint force to protect civilians earlier this month. … Over 500 people were killed in West Darfur as a result of the tribal fighting that erupted simultaneously with the clashes in Khartoum. Sudan Tribune

At Least 17 Civilians Killed by Extremist Rebels in Eastern Congo
At least 17 people were killed by extremist rebels in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province, local authorities said. Civilians were killed by fighters with the Allied Democratic Forces … in the Bambuba-kisiki area in Beni territory, said Sabiti Njiamoja, a deputy to the local governor, on Monday. “We buried 10 bodies on Sunday. The victims are civilians killed by ADF between Thursday and Friday in Kainana. Seven others were found on Monday,” he said. … Since last April, ADF attacks have killed at least 370 civilians and several hundred people have been abducted, including a significant number of children, according to the UN. The group also extended its area of operations to Goma and into the neighboring Ituri province. AP

Tunisia: 1 Beninese Stabbed to Death in Attack Targeting Sub-Saharan Migrants
A Beninese migrant aged 30 was stabbed to death and five other wounded in an attack by a group of Tunisians in the central eastern part of the country. The spokesperson for the Sfax court made the announcement Monday (May 29). The attack against 19 migrants gathered in a housing in El Haffare (Sfax area) was carried out by 7 Tunisians armed with knives and sabres between May 22nd and 23rd. The Sfax tribunal spokesperson Faouzi Masmoudi said the 5 victims from Sub-Saharan Africa had been admitted o hospital and suffered only ‘mild injuries’. Three Tunisians aged 17, 23 and 26 were arrested and a judicial inquiry opened, Masmoudi added. … Earlier this year the president linked African migrants to “violence and crimes.” Rights groups have reported a spike in vigilante violence including stabbings of black Africans, since the President’s initial comments while migrants say they have been thrown out of their dwellings en masse and handed over to “mob justice”. AfricaNews/AFP

Zimbabwe: Opposition Petitions ZEC over Anomalies on Voters’ Roll
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has expressed concerns regarding the voters roll that has been made available for public inspection. In a letter addressed to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the opposition movement highlighted numerous errors and discrepancies that deviate from constitutional standards, casting doubt on the credibility of the upcoming elections. “As the Citizens Coalition for Change we have noted serious anomalies in the voters roll that has been laid out for inspection by the public. A reflective sample across all the ten (10) provinces have indicated numerous errors of commission and omission which indicate deviations from the Constitutional standards of a credible voters’ roll,” read part of the letter. One of the key issues highlighted in the preliminary reports is the presence of missing names of prospective voters, some of whom had previously cast their votes in the 2018 general elections and even the March 2022 by-elections. Another issue of contention highlighted in the letter is the presence of the Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (FAZ) organization at the Inspection Centers. The CCC asserts that FAZ officials have been interfering with and, in some cases, controlling the inspection process. 263Chat

Senegal’s Main Opposition Leader Says He is ‘Illegally Held,’ Urges Protest
Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane Sonko alleged on Tuesday he was being “illegally held” by security forces and urged the public to protest. “I urge all Senegalese people to come out onto the streets,” he said on social media, escalating a political tug-of-war with President Macky Sall’s government. Sonko, a critic of the government who came third in the 2019 presidential election, was declared “unreachable” by his party on Sunday after police in southern Senegal had forcibly taken him to the capital Dakar. On Friday he had set out for Dakar in a convoy ahead of the outcome of a rape trial that could render him ineligible to contest next year’s presidential election. He denies the charges against him but failed to attend the first two hearings in the case, citing what he called fears for his safety. The verdict is expected on Thursday, triggering fears of violence. France24

Rescue Groups Say Malta Coordinated the Return of 500 Migrants to Libya Instead of Saving Them
A group of non-governmental organizations dedicated to rescuing migrants in the central Mediterranean is accusing the European island nation of Malta of coordinating the return of around 500 people to Libya where they were subsequently imprisoned, in violation of international maritime law. The group of migrants, which included 55 children and pregnant women, had been trying to reach Europe on May 23 aboard a rusty iron fishing vessel when they reported to Alarm Phone – a hotline for migrants in distress – that they were adrift and taking in water, the NGOs said in a statement. People smugglers have increasingly packed migrants and refugees into old and dangerous fishing vessels that set out from Libya to Italy or Malta. … Despite repeated requests for help sent to Maltese authorities, the migrants were reportedly taken back to Benghazi in eastern Libya three days later, Alarm Phone said, citing relatives of the migrants. AP

Libya Court Sentences 23 to Death for Islamic State Campaign
A Libyan court sentenced 23 people to death and another 14 to life in prison on Monday for their role in a deadly Islamic State militant campaign that included beheading a group of Egyptian Christians and seizing the city of Sirte in 2015. The Attorney General’s office said in a statement that one other person was sentenced to 12 years in prison, six to 10 years, one to five years and six to three years, while five were acquitted and three others died before their case came to trial. Islamic State’s Libyan branch was one of the militant group’s strongest outside its original territory in Iraq and Syria, taking advantage of the chaos and warfare that followed a 2011 NATO-backed uprising. Reuters

Lavrov in Surprise Kenya Visit after Ukraine FM Trip to Africa
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Kenyan leaders on Monday on a surprise visit to Nairobi, as Moscow and Kyiv both seek to bolster support from African nations over the war in Ukraine. “During our visit, we will discuss our cooperation in the trade, investment and economic spheres, humanitarian and cultural questions, education, cooperation in the UN and many other issues,” Lavrov told Kenyan lawmakers, according to the Russian foreign ministry. The trip was not announced in advance. The Russian official has visited Africa several times in the past year, as global powers tussle for influence on the continent of 1.3 billion people. Lavrov’s trip to Kenya comes on the heels of a trip to the continent last week by his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba. … Meanwhile, a Russia-Africa summit, the second in a series, is to be held in Saint Petersburg from July 26 to 29. Al Jazeera

South African President Appoints Judge to Oversee Weapons-for-Russia Inquiry
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a judge to oversee an inquiry into allegations that the country supplied arms to Russia on a ship that docked secretly at a naval base in December. … Judge P.M.D. Mojapelo, a former Supreme Court of Appeal judge, was appointed chairman of a three-member panel to investigate the incident, Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement on Sunday. A lawyer and a former minister of justice were also appointed. The panel has six weeks to complete its investigations and another two weeks from then to provide a report to Ramaphosa, the president’s office said. “The panel has been tasked to establish persons who were aware of the cargo ship’s arrival, and, if any, the contents to be off-loaded or loaded, the departure and destination of the cargo,” Ramaphosa’s office said. AfricaNews/AP

South Africa Grants Putin Diplomatic Immunity for BRICS Summit
In preparation for the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting and summit, the South African government has granted diplomatic immunity to all officials involved. Clayson Monyela, the spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said Pandor’s notice was “routine”, and such notices were issued every time there was a similar international meeting in South Africa. The notice, signed on 19 May and gazetted on Monday, states that Vladimir Putin and his international counterparts will be granted immunities and privileges provided in terms of Section 6(1)(a) of the act. … Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen filed an application to the Pretoria High Court on Monday seeking an urgent order to the government to arrest Putin if the ICC requests South Africa to arrest him if he sets foot in the country. Daily Maverick

Relocated Refugees in Malawi Decry Dehumanizing Conditions
In Malawi, hundreds of people who were forcibly relocated to the country’s only refugee camp are complaining of poor conditions with no food, clean water or shelter. The U.N.’s refugee agency and the World Food Program say they cannot cater to the needs of those at the highly congested camp because of funding shortfalls. Malawi’s government recently started to forcefully relocate about 8,000 refugees or asylum seekers who were residing in areas outside the Dzaleka refugee camp. The action followed the expiration of an April 15 deadline the government had given refugees to move to the camp. Officials say the refugees are violating a government policy that requires them to live within the boundaries of the camp. More than 1,000 refugees have so far relocated to the camp, where they have complained of dehumanizing conditions. VOA

Namibia Targets 600 Rhinos for Dehorning
Since the start of the year, at least six rhinos have been poached in Etosha National Park, home to the highest concentration of black rhinos in the world. Last week, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism kicked off the annual dehorning campaign with a goal of removing the horns of 600 rhinos in the next 12 months. Increased incidents of poaching — which recently led to several arrests — have prompted Namibian authorities to embark on a mixed approach to deter would-be poachers from targeting black rhinos. The critically endangered species is often targeted for its horns which hold mystical, ornamental and medicinal value for consumers in Asian markets. Speaking at the launch of the annual dehorning campaign, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta said dehorning rhinos brings down their value and deters poachers from targeting them. VOA

‘People Find Us Easy Targets’: Women Politicians Face a Torrent of Online Abuse but Say They Won’t Stop Their Work
Doreen Nyanjura is a modern politician. She announced on Twitter that she would be standing in Uganda’s 2026 presidential election; has a name for her supporters — the Nyanjuraholics — and has characterized her platform with a catchy hashtag: #ThePoliticalAntidote. But with this presence online, Nyanjura says she faces the now-standard challenges of being a woman in politics: in addition to the tweets of support or derision that most politicians on social media have become accustomed to, Nyanjura also receives tweets of misogynistic mockery. … As the Deputy Lord Mayor of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, Nyanjura is no stranger to personal attacks online, which she tells CNN increased in volume after she took on her mayoral appointment nearly three years ago, and cover everything from the length of her hair to her age and marital status. … Nyanjura goes on: threats of “physical attacks happen when I am planning a demonstration and posting about them on social media … I get threats of being arrested or being carried in a ‘drone’ (a nickname given to the vans that have reportedly been used in arrests of political activists in Uganda). So, I stay away from my home at such times and ask my family members to do the same,” she told CNN. At first, the abuse made her feel awful, she says, but aware that her abusers want to silence her Nyanjura tells CNN that she’s decided to stand her ground and be a positive example for other women in public life. CNN