Africa Media Review for November 1, 2023

Egypt to Receive Wounded Gazans through Key Crossing
Egypt is preparing to treat wounded Palestinians from the bombarded Gaza Strip starting Wednesday, with the opening of a border crossing to people after weeks of war, medical and security sources said. The border authority in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip said that Egypt had agreed to let in 81 of the most badly wounded on Wednesday through Rafah, the only crossing not controlled by Israel. An AFP photographer on Tuesday saw a large number of ambulances gathered at Rafah…”Medical teams will be present tomorrow (Wednesday) at the crossing to examine the cases coming (from Gaza) as soon as they arrive… and determine the hospitals they will be sent to,” a medical official in Egypt’s city of El Arish told AFP…The medical official added that a field hospital with an area of 1,300 square metres (about 14,000 square feet) would be built to receive the wounded Palestinians in the city of Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Rafah…The decision to open the crossing came hours after an Israeli strike on the largest refugee camp in Gaza, where the health ministry has said at least 50 people were killed. Egypt on Tuesday condemned the strike on Jabalia camp “in the strongest terms”, warning against “the consequences of the continuation of these indiscriminate attacks that target defenceless civilians” in a foreign ministry statement. AFP

Egypt Bans Mada Masr Website for 6 Months over Report on Israel-Gaza War
On Sunday, [Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR)] announced that, after conducting a hearing with Mada Masr’s editor-in-chief, Lina Attalah, it would block the news website for six months for “practicing media activities without a license” and “publishing false news without checking its sources,” and refer the outlet to the prosecutor general’s office, according to a tweet by Mada Masr and reports by Ahram Online and The New Arab. Mada’s website was still accessible outside of Egypt…On October 15, the SCMR announced an investigation into Mada Masr following multiple complaints that the outlet had published “inflammatory reports that undermine Egypt’s national security,” according to Ahram Online and Egypt Today. The SCMR referred to an October 11 report by Mada Masr, which speculated that Egypt was preparing to accept Palestinian refugees fleeing Israeli’s attack on Gaza, based on interviews with five anonymous high-ranking Egyptian political and diplomatic sources…The Egyptian government has a history of harassing independent media outlets. Three Mada Masr journalists are facing trial for misusing social media and offending members of parliament. The court has not ruled yet. Committee to Protect Journalists

ICRC Facilitates Release of 64 Army Soldiers Held by RSF in Sudan Capital
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Monday facilitated the release of 64 army soldiers who were held by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum. Adnan Hezam, ICRC representative in Sudan, told Radio Dabanga that the released people were transferred from war-torn Khartoum to the secure El Gezira capital of Wad Madani. The warring Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and its paramilitary counterpart, the RSF, had requested the ICRC act as a neutral intermediary. Since the war broke out in mid-April, the ICRC has facilitated the release and transfer of 292 detainees, Hezam said. In a press statement on Monday, Pierre Dorbes, ICRC head of delegation in Sudan, said that his organisation’s “main goal is to guarantee that any release operation serves the best interests of the detainees,” and added that they “are prepared to act as a neutral intermediary for the release of more detainees.” The ICRC does not negotiate or influence the decision on who is released or when the release takes place, nor does the ICRC disclose the identities of the detainees. These decisions are independently taken by the warring parties, the statement said. In end June, ICRC teams transported 125 SAF soldiers released by the RSF by bus from Khartoum to Wad Madani. Radio Dabanga

Sudan: Tensions Rise as Armed Confrontation Looms in El Geneina
Tensions between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have peaked in El Geneina, the capital of Sudan’s West Darfur State, residents said. The tension arose on Tuesday afternoon after the RSF, a paramilitary force, deployed more troops near the army base in El Geneina. In the initial days of the current conflict, El Geneina remained stable, suggesting that the war might not reach it. However, on April 24, fighting erupted between the warring parties. Given the area’s mixed population and lack of clear community-based control, it quickly became a hotspot for intense fighting…Yusuf Mohammed Yusuf, a civil society activist, said many civilians are leaving the city of El Geneina in fear of an imminent attack on the area by the Rapid Support Forces. He pointed out that fears of fresh fighting in El Geneina mounted after reports on Tuesday that the RSF deployed troops near the military base and after the capture of the army base in Zalingei in Central Darfur state by the RSF on Tuesday morning…As previously reported by Radio Tamazuj, the RSF claimed control of the 21st Infantry Division base in Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur, on Tuesday morning after having captured the 16th Infantry Division base in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State, last week. The seizure of the army base in Zalingei comes as the two sides restarted peace negotiations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Radio Tamazuj

Chad Military Government Allows Opposition Leader Succes Masra Back
Chad’s military government and one of its main opponents, Succès Masra, signed an agreement on Tuesday for his return after a year in forced exile following a bloody protest, Congolese mediation announced in Kinshasa. The “agreement in principle” was signed in Kinshasa “between the transition government (…) and the political party Les Transformateurs” to “allow the return to Chad” of its president Succès Masra, announced the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, in a press release. The latter is the “facilitator” of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) for the “Transition Process” in Chad. Nothing has been said about the content of the agreement or the date of Mr. Masra’s return. Like several other opposition leaders, he was forced to flee his country a few days after General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno’s government violently repressed opposition demonstrations on October 20, 2022…Headed by a junta of 15 generals, Mahamat Déby immediately promised “free” elections after an 18-month transition, which he extended for a further two years 18 months later. A referendum is scheduled for December 17 on a new constitution that is supposed to pave the way for elections. The agreement, which also provides for the return of “all those who had to leave Chadian territory”, was signed by Messrs Tshisekedi, Masra and Abderaman Koulamallah, Chad’s Minister of Reconciliation. Africanews

Senegal: Ousmane Sonko Will Not Be Able to Re-register on the Electoral Rolls
A department of the Senegalese interior ministry on Tuesday refused to accept the electoral commission’s request to reinstate opposition politician Ousmane Sonko on the electoral roll and to issue him with documents essential to his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. In a response to a letter from the Autonomous National Electoral Commission (Cena), the Directorate General of Elections said that it “has no jurisdiction to take any action on the electoral roll.” The DGE does not specify who has this authority. In its letter to the DGE, the Cena had written that Mr Sonko should “enjoy his status as a voter registered on the electoral roll with all the rights (that are) attached.” Mr Sonko has been removed from the electoral roll, which prevents him from competing in the presidential election. The government essentially argued that Mr Sonko’s conviction in absentia in a vice case in June justified his removal from the electoral roll. Mr Sonko, who has been in prison since the end of July on other charges, denounced these cases as plots to keep him out of the presidential election…On Tuesday, Mr Sonko’s lawyers challenged the refusal to issue him with sponsorship forms before the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of African States (ECOWAS). The regional court has decided to give itself until 6 November to settle any disputes relating to this case. Africanews with AFP

Tunisia’s Islamist Party Leader Is Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Supporting Terrorism
The leader of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party was sentenced to 15 months in prison for supporting terrorism and inciting hatred in the North African country, once seen as a model for democracy in the Arab world but increasingly authoritarian in recent years. The Court of Appeal in the capital, Tunis, pronounced the sentence late Monday against the Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi, a former speaker of parliament and a vocal opponent of President Kais Saied. Saied has cracked down on critics and political rivals while consolidating power and ruling largely by decree in the past two years. Ghannouchi, 82, is the founder and long-time leader of the Islamist party. He served as speaker of the Ennahdha-led parliament until Saied took all powers into his own hands in July 2021, suspending parliament. Ghannouchi, who has maintained that Saied’s actions amounted to a coup, was arrested in April amid growing social tensions and deepening economic troubles in Tunisia. He was previously sentenced in the Court of First Instance to a year in prison for allegedly referring to police officers as tyrants in what his party said was a sham trial…Many former and current officials have been detained as part of Saied’s anti-corruption campaign or on suspicion of plotting against the security of the state. Saied’s critics say the president’s relentless campaign of arrests aims to eliminate opposition voices in Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring pro-democracy opposition more than a decade ago. AP

Congo Presidential Candidates Call for Urgent Measures to ‘Save’ Election
Six presidential candidates in Democratic Republic of Congo, including President Felix Tshisekedi’s main rivals, called on Tuesday for urgent measures to prevent potential fraud in the upcoming general election. In a joint statement, the candidates promised to work together to prevent any manipulation of results, and demanded a number of measures from the electoral commission including the publication of electoral lists and mapping of polling stations. The run-up to Congo’s Dec. 20 vote has been fraught with tension. International allies and human rights groups have accused the authorities of cracking down on dissent and freedom of expression, charges the government has denied. All of the opposition candidates have expressed concerns about potential electoral fraud and lack of transparency. The candidates cited in particular the poor quality of the voter cards distributed, which they said were illegible, and delays in publishing the lists of voters and polling stations. The deployment of election observers is impossible because the exact number of polling stations and their locations has not been made public, the statement said. Its signatories included Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege; the former governor of the rich mining province of Katanga, Moise Katumbi; and the runner-up in the 2018 presidential election, Martin Fayulu. Reuters

Lesotho PM Matekane Survives No-Confidence Vote after Gaining New Coalition Partner
Lesotho Prime Minister Sam Matekane has survived a vote of no confidence from a group of opposition parties after securing the support of the Basotho Action Party (BAP). On 16 October, 11 political parties called for the removal of Matekane from office as they took advantage of fighting in the ruling Revolution for Prosperity (RFP) and its allies. In all, they had 61 signatures from a parliament of 120 members, enough to activate a 2020 constitutional amendment that limits the powers of the executive. But a late interdict gave Matekane more time after the case was due to be heard on Monday in court. Threats from the security sector presented a mood of uncertainty that, if the motion went ahead, the country could become a military state. Now the courts have been overtaken by events, with Professor Nqosa Mahao’s BAP joining the ruling coalition led by Matekane’s RFP. BAP received 5.65% of the vote in last year’s general elections, representing six seats. With BAP on board, Matekene has gone back to enjoying a parliamentary majority…With BAP joining the coalition, the army and other security arms have been kept at bay from entering civilian politics. News 24

Trumping It: One-Term Zambia President Edgar Lungu Returns to Politics, Seeks His Party’s Nomination
One-term Former Zambian president Edgar Lungu and his American counterpart Donald Trump have one thing in common: they both want their old jobs back. But first they have to win their respective political party’s endorsement. After losing to Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema, who polled 59.2% of the vote in 2021, Lungu resigned as the leader of the Patriotic Front. But he has Miles Sampa, a one-time Patriotic Front (PF) leader, standing in his way, a front-runner to become president of the party. On Monday, Lungu and his followers were denied access to the PF offices in Lusaka when the police were called by Sampa’s supporters…In January 2015, Lungu won a by-election to finish Sata’s presidential term. Lungu’s narrow 1.68% victory over Hichilema in August 2016 was a signal of the growing popularity of the latter, who would upstage Lungu in 2021. Writing in the Journal of Eastern African Studies, Zambian academic Sishuwa Sishuwa argued…that this “reflects the institutionalisation of democratic processes, notably embodied in competitive elections, an increasingly independent electoral commission, effective opposition parties that can devise robust campaign strategies, and a military that continues to choose non-intervention whenever an incumbent is defeated.” Lungu’s intention to come back into politics was detected from afar. Zambian police in late September accused him of “political” jogging. The police said at the time that Lungu and his followers had to seek police clearance for their runs, which turned out to be mini-political rallies. News 24

Facebook’s Algorithms ‘Supercharged’ Hate Speech in Ethiopia’s Tigray Conflict
Facebook has been accused by rights group Amnesty International of contributing to violence during the brutal two-year conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region…The African Union’s peace envoy, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, estimated that around 600,000 people died in the conflict. Researchers put the deaths down to fighting, starvation and lack of health care. The Amnesty report said Meta’s “data-hungry business model” continued to pose “significant dangers” to human rights in conflict-hit areas. This is not the first time Facebook has been accused of spreading messages of incitement against ethnic Tigrayans. Meta is currently facing a lawsuit over its alleged failures to deal with harmful content by two petitioners who are seeking more than $1.5bn (£1.2bn) in damages. Amnesty said it had reviewed internal documents from Meta, including communications the company received between 2019 and 2022. “Despite repeated warnings and a history of contributing to violence in other countries like Myanmar, Meta failed to take measures,” the rights group said. “Facebook’s algorithmic systems supercharged the spread of harmful rhetoric targeting the Tigrayan community, while the platform’s content moderation systems failed to detect and respond appropriately to such content,” it added. Meta previously told the BBC that it was developing its capabilities to tackle “violating content” posted in widely spoken Ethiopian languages. BBC

King Charles in Kenya Says ‘No Excuses’ but Gives No Apology for Colonial Violence
In his first public remarks as monarch on colonial atrocities, during his first visit as king to a Commonwealth country, King Charles III said there were “no excuses” for the “abhorrent and unjustifiable acts of violence committed against Kenyans” during their struggle for independence from Britain, but he did not offer the full apology that many people in Kenya have called for. Speaking at a state banquet Tuesday, Charles hewed closely to the British government line, saying he felt “the greatest sorrow and the deepest regret” for the wrongdoings of the past. He steered clear of any language that might open a broader conversation about reparations. Kenya, which is marking the 60th anniversary of its independence, was a relatively safe choice for Charles and Queen Camilla’s first Commonwealth trip. It has a warmer relationship with the United Kingdom than do some other former colonies…There have been calls for Charles to acknowledge, in particular, the violent suppression carried out by British authorities in Kenya during the early reign of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II. In the 1950s, British officials responded to what was known as the Mau Mau revolt — a movement to reclaim land and independence — with a brutal crackdown on the broader population. Thousands were killed and significant numbers imprisoned and tortured…In 2013, Britain expressed its “sincere regret” for human rights abuses during that time. A British court also awarded more than 5,000 Kenyans a payout of approximately $24 million. The Washington Post

Germany and Tanzania to Open Talks on Colonial Legacy
Germany will open talks with Tanzania about the legacy of its three decades of colonial rule in the East African nation, the two countries’ presidents said on Tuesday. Tanzanian politicians and activists have long pushed for reparations and the return of human remains from their country that are displayed in German museums. “We have discussed this in detail and we are ready to open negotiations to see how we are going to agree on the German colonial legacy,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan said at a news conference with her German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier…The remains are thought to have been acquired by researchers to carry out pseudoscientific studies. Steinmeier, who is on an official visit to Tanzania, said he planned to meet people affected by the 1905-1907 Maji Maji rebellion against German colonial rule…Germany ruled mainland Tanzania, then known as Tanganyika, from the 1880s until 1918, when it was captured by British forces during World War One. Tens of thousands of people died during the Maji Maji rebellion, most from hunger, after German troops targeted the local population’s food sources. Germany apologised in 2021 for the slaughter of about 75,000 tribespeople in Namibia, in southern Africa, described the massacre as a genocide and agreed to fund projects there worth over a billion euros. Reuters