Africa Media Review for November 13, 2023

Fighting Rages in Mali Between Army and Rebels in Kidal
Fighting resumed Sunday between the Malian army and Tuareg separatist and rebel groups in the country’s northern region, military officers and elected officials said. Since seizing power in a coup in 2020, the African country’s military rulers have made a priority of re-establishing sovereignty over all regions and Kidal could become a key battleground…Fighting had begun a day earlier as the army closed in on the area, after announcing Thursday that it was starting “strategic movements aimed at securing and eradicating all terrorist threats in the Kidal region.” A large military convoy stationed since early October at Anefis, some 110 kilometers (68 miles) to the south, set off towards Kidal. Military, political and rebel sources all reported the clashes. But details such as a casualty toll or tactics involved could not be confirmed independently in the remote region. The rebels in Kidal cut telephone links on Friday in anticipation of an army offensive following several days of airstrikes…The Tuaregs previously launched an insurgency in 2012, inflicting humiliating defeats on the army before agreeing to a ceasefire in 2014 and a peace deal in 2015. AFP

United Nations Suspends Pullout of African Union Troops from Somalia as Battles with Militants Rage
The United Nations Security Council on Thursday suspended for a period of three months the pullout of African Union troop from Somalia, where fighting rages with al-Qaida’s affiliate in East Africa. The decision follows a request by the Horn of Africa nation for the forces to remain in the country to help in the fight against the al-Shabab extremists. Somalia’s request was supported by the African Union, all countries that contribute soldiers to the force and the council, which agreed to delay the pullout of the 19,000-strong AU force for 90 days. Last year in April, the council unanimously approved a new African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, known as ATMIS, to support the Somalis until their forces take full responsibility for the country’s security at the end of 2024…Somalia’s government last year launched a “total war” on the al-Qaida-linked terror group al-Shabab, which controls parts of rural central and southern Somalia…The current offensive was sparked in part by local communities and militias driven to the brink by al-Shabab’s harsh taxation policies amid the country’s worst drought on record. AP

Somalia Fears Worst Humanitarian Catastrophe in 30 Years
Somalia’s government warns that flooding which has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people may turn into the country’s worst humanitarian disaster in decades, unless Somalis and the international community act quickly…[Mohamed Mo’alim Abdulle, the head of the National Disaster Management Agency,] said the flooding has killed 29 people and forced more than 300,000 to flee their homes in the southern and central regions of Somalia…Somali authorities say the worst-hit areas are in the Southwest and Jubbaland states…Abdulkadir Ali Mohamed, chairperson of the regional state agency for internally displaced people affairs, said the flooding has also affected IDP camps in the outskirts of the town, which was already hosting hundreds of people displaced by an Islamist insurgency and the worst drought in the country in four decades…Large parts of both the Southwest and Jubbaland states are under control of al-Shabab militants, which makes it difficult for the government and aid agencies to reach those in need…The United Nations has described the flooding in Somalia and neighboring countries as a “once-in-a-century event.” VOA

Sudan: UNHCR Warns Darfur Atrocities of 20 Years Ago May Reoccur
More than 800 people have been reportedly killed by armed groups in Ardamata, West Darfur, an area which has so far been less affected by the conflict that erupted in April. Ardamata also housed a camp for internally displaced people, Close to 100 shelters have been razed to the ground, while extensive looting – including of UNHCR relief items – has also taken place. Two decades ago, thousands were killed across Darfur and millions displaced in fighting between Sudanese Government forces backed by allied militia known as the Janjaweed on one side, and rebel groups resisting the autocratic rule of President Omar al-Bashir, who was ousted in 2019. UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, warned in June that if fighting in West Darfur continued, including attacks based on ethnicity, this could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. The UN refugee agency expressed alarm over reports of continued sexual violence, torture, arbitrary killings, extortion of civilians and targeting of specific ethnic groups…UNHCR reported that more than 8,000 people fled to Chad in the last week alone, though this is likely to be an underestimate due to challenges registering new arrivals. UN News

Ethiopian Army Regains Control of Lalibela: Alarming Humanitarian Situation and Persistent Financial Challenges
The Ethiopian federal army regained control of the Orthodox holy city of Lalibela on Thursday, in the Amhara regional state, following the withdrawal of militiamen who had largely seized it the previous day, according to local residents. A deacon from the locality, speaking anonymously for security reasons, stated that he had attended the funerals of 16 police officers killed in Thursday morning’s fighting. He added that there was no complete tally of victims, but he knew of a resident killed and a resident injured by federal forces. The deacon confirmed that the federal army now controls the city, with Amhara self-defense militias, known as Fano, having voluntarily withdrawn early in the morning. The Fano, informal Amhara militias made up of voluntary citizen combatants, had supported the Ethiopian army during the two-year conflict with rebel authorities in the neighboring Tigray region. Although the federal army has regained control of major cities and key routes in the region, the situation remains uncertain. Sahel Intelligence

Police disperse opposition demonstrators in Madagascar
Just a few days before the first round of presidential elections in Madagascar, demonstrators faced off against the police on Saturday. A few hundred people took to the streets of Antananarivo at the call of the “collective of eleven” opposition candidates who claim the electoral process is biased in favour of incumbent president, Andry Rajoelina. After building barricades, throwing stones at riot police, and setting fire to some tyres, the protestors were dispersed…Police said 11 people were arrested and the Red Cross said it treated around 10 demonstrators for minor injuries. The head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, on Saturday expressed his “deep concern” about the tense political climate in Madagascar ahead of the polls. In a statement, he reiterated the EU’s call for the authorities to guarantee all candidates in the election equal opportunities. He also stressed “the importance of respecting freedom of movement, expression, association, and assembly.” The past few weeks have been marked by regular protests by the opposition with numerous incidents of violence during demonstrations. Africanews with AFP

Liberia Heads to Competitive Runoff between President Weah and Former VP Boakai
Liberians will vote on Tuesday in a runoff election between President George Weah and former vice president Joseph Boakai after a fiercely fought first round in which neither was able to score over 50% of the vote to secure an outright victory. Former soccer star Weah led the first round, gaining 43.83% of the vote, and Boakai had 43.44%. The razor-thin margin between them, and the absence of a strong third candidate, means the second round will also be very competitive, said Maja Bovcon, senior Africa analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft. “The remaining votes from the first round are scattered among 18 candidates that are now out of the race. The final victory will go to whoever manages to garner the support of the largest number of the eliminated candidates,” Bovcon said. The runoff is a rematch of the 2017 second round in which Weah, surfing on a wave of popular support, defeated Boakai with 61.54%…Ahead of the runoff vote, both candidates have received endorsements from losing candidates from the first round. Weah has received the backing of Alexander Cumming’s CCP party, although Cummings himself has remained neutral…Boakai has secured the endorsement of three of the four best performing candidates that were eliminated in the first round. Reuters

Egypt’s Stumbling Economy Faces New Pressures from Gaza Crisis
Egypt’s struggling economy faces new risks as the war in the neighbouring Gaza Strip threatens to disrupt tourism bookings and natural gas imports. Oil-rich Gulf countries, which repeatedly propped up Egypt’s finances with deposits over the past decade, had recently shifted to seeking profitable investments instead. Now they may step up assistance once more, analysts and bankers say. The Gaza war on the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula comes after the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the coronavirus pandemic exposed long-standing frailties in the Egyptian economy. Egypt had relied heavily on inflows of short-term portfolio investment, tourism revenues and remittances to partially cover a chronic trade deficit, leaving it vulnerable to shocks…Tourism earned Egypt a record $13.63 billion in the financial year to end-June, 2023, up from $10.75 billion a year earlier, according to central bank data…Another potential drain on foreign currency is disruption to natural gas imports from Israel, which Egypt relies on for both domestic consumption and lucrative re-exports. Israel suspended production at its Tamar gas field on Oct. 9, and gas sent to Egypt at one point dropped to zero, although small quantities have resumed flowing. Reuters

Kenya Say It Won’t Send Police Mission to Haiti until UN Funds It
Kenya’s government has said it won’t deploy its police officers to Haiti until all conditions on training and funding are met. Last month the U.N Security Council gave its approval for Kenya to command a multinational mission to combat violent gangs in the troubled Caribbean country. Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki told Parliament’s Departmental Committee on Administration and Internal Security that “unless all resources are mobilized and availed, our troops will not leave the country.” He said U.N. member states are securing resources and have identified how funds will be mobilised and made available to Kenya for the mission. However, it was not immediately clear when the forces would be fully trained and funded to allow for deployment, or when they might be deployed. Kindiki also tweeted that the “Deployment of National Police Service Officers to Haiti will neither compromise nor undermine the capacity and capability of the service to fulfill its mandate to secure citizens and their property.” Africanews with AP

South Africa: Assassination Nation – Political Contract Killings Escalate in KZN as Hitmen Are Offered ‘Job after Job’
Contract killings are escalating in South Africa, especially in the volatile province of KwaZulu-Natal, where trained assassins have been making their presence felt in the taxi industry, across the political spectrum, over tenders and jobs in municipalities…In politics, these organised hits have become commonplace…KwaZulu-Natal’s political assassinations led to the Moerane Commission of Inquiry, which heard evidence of murders, extortion and hits on individuals holding key positions…After listening to more than 60 witnesses and family members of the victims, the commission released its 434-page report, which recommended, among other things, that political parties must “take responsibility for the violent competition between their members for political positions and power.” The commission also stated that political parties should carry out political education about the “universal practice of peaceful political competition;” discipline their members and report those who are involved in killings to the police; and settle differences “through peaceful means.” Government critics say few, if any, of these recommendations have been implemented, hence the hits continue unabated. Daily Maverick

One Year in the Infuriating and Humiliating Search for a Job in South Africa
South Africa is the most industrialized country in Africa and was once considered an economic success story. But it has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world — 61 percent of people ages 15 to 24 are unemployed, according to Statistics South Africa, a government agency. The overall unemployment rate is 33 percent, and 35 percent for high school graduates…In the coming decades, parts of Europe and Asia are expected to have the oldest populations in recorded history, with extraordinary numbers of retirees depending on shrinking numbers of working-age people to support them. Africa, by contrast, has plenty of young people with higher expectations than ever. A push to get more children in the classroom has paid off: Forty-four percent of Africans graduated from high school in 2020 — an increase from 27 percent two decades earlier. But the shortfall of jobs could push them deeper into poverty and desperation…About one million Africans enter the work force every month, researchers found, but fewer than one in four find a formal job. So, young Africans, even those with college degrees, do menial labor, accept payment in food, migrate to other countries on the continent looking for better opportunities and cross oceans in rickety boats to find work. The New York Times

Melting African Glaciers an Early Casualty of Global Warming, Say Experts
Experts and political leaders meeting at the One Planet – Polar Summit launched an appeal for urgent action to address the collapse of “all frozen surfaces on a planetary scale.” Among the world’s most vulnerable spots are African glaciers. The continent still has around 30 glaciers in four countries: Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania. They are among some 3,000 tropical glaciers distributed along the equator at a height of at least 5,000 meters, where it is very cold…”The main reason Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are retreating is because there is so much deforestation around them,” glaciologist Heidi Sevestre told RFI. “The lack of vegetation dries out the mountain and the glaciers receive less and less precipitation because of this.” Increased rains instead of snow over glaciers was another factor…Mount Kilimanjaro’s last glaciers will vanish as will glaciers in the Alps and Yosemite National Park in the US, and they will melt regardless of the world’s actions to combat climate change, experts said…Meltwater from mountain glaciers is a vital water source. Once glaciers reach “peak water,” when they provide the maximum amount of water run-off, the supply will slowly decline. RFI