Africa Media Review for November 14, 2023

Liberia Presidential Election: George Weah and Joseph Boakai Vie for Top Job
Liberians are voting in a presidential run-off election after the two leading candidates were separated by just over 7,000 votes in the first round a month ago. They are choosing between incumbent and one-time football star George Weah and former Vice-President Joseph Boakai. The president narrowly won the first round but failed to get more than 50% of the vote, triggering the run-off…Images of long queues of people at polling stations have been captured in and around the city…Mr Boakai, who served as the vice-president to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, has secured the endorsement of three of the four best performing candidates, according to the Reuters news agency…The president has been talking about improving education and dealing with unemployment…Liberia is still recovering from the impact of two civil wars between 1989 and 2003, and the Ebola epidemic that killed thousands of people between 2013 and 2016. According to the World Bank, the West African nation’s economy expanded by 4.8% in 2022, due to “mining and a relatively good agricultural harvest.” BBC

Sudan, Kenya Agree to Convene IGAD Summit to Accelerate Ceasefire Talks
Sudanese Sovereign Council Chairman Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Kenyan President William Ruto have agreed to hold a meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) leaders to speed up the Jeddah process for a ceasefire. The unannounced visit by al-Burhan to Nairobi on Monday marks a shift in the Sudanese government’s stance, which had previously rejected any Kenyan involvement in the conflict resolution efforts. In a joint statement released after the meeting in Nairobi, al-Burhan and Ruto acknowledged the slow progress of the ceasefire negotiations in Jeddah and emphasized the need for urgent action. They further agreed to “work towards convening an urgent IGAD Summit to find ways to accelerate the Jeddah process towards cessation of hostilities in Sudan.” The IGAD summit will also aim to establish a framework for an all-inclusive Sudanese dialogue to address the country’s political crisis, added the statement. Sudan Tribune

EU: RSF Conducting Ethnic Cleansing in Western Darfur [Sudan]
The European Union’s (EU) chief diplomat on Sunday expressed shock at reports indicating that more than a thousand Sudanese were killed this month in West Darfur State in what could amount to an ethnic cleansing campaign committed by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell warned of the danger of “another genocide” after the conflict there between 2003 and 2008 killed some 300,000 people and displaced more than 2 million. “These latest atrocities appear to be part of a broader ethnic cleansing campaign committed by the Rapid Support Forces to eliminate the non-Arab Masalit tribe in West Darfur, and come after the first wave of acts of violence,” he said. According to the statement, reliable eyewitness reports are indicating that more than 1,000 members of the Masalit tribe were killed in Ardamata, Western Darfur, within just over two days of major attacks carried out by the RSF and its allied militias…More than 10,000 people have been killed since fighting erupted between the army and RSF in Khartoum before spilling over to the rest of the country according to a tally issued by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project or (ACLED). Radio Tamazuj

South Sudan: Kiir to Take Over EAC Leadership as States Default on Dues
South Sudan is taking the mantle of the East African Community amid pressure to show more integration credentials by giving more attention to programmes of the bloc. And President Salva Kiir, who is due to become the new chair of the EAC Summit – replacing Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye, whose one-year tenure came to an end mid this year – could either use the position to prove doubters wrong or expose the soft underbelly of Juba on regional scale…South Sudan is…facing persistent criticism from the EAC over its aloofness. A section of South Sudan lawmakers in the East African Legislative Assembly says the country’s minister for East African Community and Affairs Deng Alor does not attend parliament. Mr Alor last attended a session of the EAC Council of Ministers meeting in 2020…President Kiir takes over the reins of a regional bloc still grappling with the same old problems of non-tariff barriers, where intra trade has stagnated below 15 percent and the new burden of pacifying the Democratic Republic of Congo…President Kiir is expected to steer the regional bloc at a time when the region is holding discussions on peace and security, particularly in his home country South Sudan, where a civil war has ravaged it since 2013. The East African

Ethiopia’s Oromo Rebels in Tanzania for Peace Talks
Rebels from Ethiopia’s Oromiya region said on Monday they were in Tanzania for a second round of talks with the Ethiopian government to try to end decades of fighting. The negotiations come more than six months after a first round of discussions between the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and Ethiopia’s government ended without an agreement. The conflict in recent years has killed hundreds of people and displaced tens of thousands in Ethiopia’s most populous region… The OLA said it had delayed announcing the negotiations to make sure its team could get safely from what it called the frontlines in Oromiya to the venue. An official close to the mediators, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the talks started last week in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, and is being facilitated by the regional Africa group IGAD…The OLA is an outlawed splinter group of the Oromo Liberation Front, a formerly banned opposition party that returned from exile after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed – himself an Oromo – took office in 2018. Oromiya, which surrounds Addis Ababa, the capital, is home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic Oromo group and more than a third of the country’s 110 million people. Reuters

Opposition Boycott and Voter Skepticism Cast Shadow on Madagascar’s Presidential Election
As Madagascar prepares for its presidential election, six influential opposition figures, including two former presidents, have declared their refusal to participate in the upcoming polls. In a joint statement, these opposition leaders announced their decision to boycott the election and called on the Malagasy people to abstain from voting…The opposition, comprising ten candidates, has formed a collective, denouncing what they claim is a plot to secure a second term for [Andry] Rajoelina. In response, they have opted to abstain from campaigning…The roots of the political crisis lie in the revelation in June of Rajoelina’s dual nationality—Malagasy and French. According to the opposition, this revelation renders the incumbent president ineligible to govern or stand for election, as he allegedly lost his Malagasy nationality by acquiring French citizenship in 2014…The opposition has taken a unified stance, describing the current situation as “deleterious” and asserting that now is not the appropriate time for elections. Africanews with AFP

DR Congo Opposition Leaders Hold Talks in South Africa
Envoys of DR Congo’s top opposition leaders arrived in South Africa on Monday to discuss coordinating ahead of an upcoming election in the central African country, officials said. President Felix Tshisekedi, the incumbent, is running for a second term in the 20 December poll. Many analysts view the president as likely to win the vote, given that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s political opposition is split among several rivals. On Monday, envoys representing five major opposition politicians -who are all contesting the upcoming election – arrived in South Africa’s administrative capital Pretoria for talks. They included envoys of Moise Katumbi, a wealthy business and former governor of ex-Katanga province; ex-presidential candidate Martin Fayulu; former prime minister Augustin Matata Ponya; Delly Sesanga, an MP; and the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner Denis Mukwege…The talks in Pretoria may last until Thursday and have been organised under the aegis of the South African NGO In Transformation Initiative (ITI). AFP

Nigeria: The Ruling Party Consolidates Its Hegemony by Winning Local Elections
Nigeria’s ruling party emerged victorious in two of the country’s three states that were electing their governors on Saturday, in polls marred by violence and accusations of electoral fraud. These elections are traditionally hotly contested in a country where governors have extensive powers, and despite the deployment of large security forces, several people were shot dead, according to local media, and an official of the Independent National Electoral Commission (Inec) was abducted. The polls were held on Saturday in the central state of Kogi, the southern state of Bayelsa, and the southeastern state of Imo. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), came out well ahead in Imo State, where incumbent governor Hope Uzodinma was re-elected for a second term with 540,308 votes against 71,503 for his opponent, according to official tallies. The APC also retained Kogi State, where Ahmed Usman Ododo won with over 446,000 votes. The Social Democratic Party (SDP) came second with 259,000 votes. However, in Bayelsa State, outgoing governor Douye Diri, a member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), retained his post with 175,196 votes against 110,108 for the APC candidate, according to the results announced on Monday. Africanews with AFP

ECOWAS Orders Nigeria To Review Broadcasting Laws Gagging Citizens’ Freedom Of Expression
The ECOWAS Court of Justice has declared that parts of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code violate international human rights obligations. The court, an organ of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, also ordered the Nigerian government to stop using the laws because they infringe on several citizens’ rights, including the freedom of speech. In a judgment pronounced on Oct. 23, the court highlighted parts of the Nigerian Broadcasting Code which fail to align with international agreements such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR). In September 2020, Expression Now Human Rights Initiative (ENHRI), a non-governmental organisation, took the Nigerian government to the ECOWAS Court of Justice for violating some fundamental human rights laws, particularly freedom of expression. The think tank argued that some of the provisions of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code were restricting citizens’ freedom of expression, referencing some abuses of the laws, including the imposition of a ₦5 million fine on Nigeria Info, a radio station, for ‘inciting public disorder on air’. HumAngle

Internal Documents Show the World Health Organization Paid Sexual Abuse Victims in Congo $250 Each
Earlier this year, the doctor who leads the World Health Organization’s efforts to prevent sexual abuse traveled to Congo to address the biggest known sex scandal in the U.N. health agency’s history, the abuse of well over 100 local women by staffers and others during a deadly Ebola outbreak…the WHO has paid $250 each to at least 104 women in Congo who say they were sexually abused or exploited by officials working to stop Ebola…The amount covers typical living expenses for less than four months in a country where, the WHO documents noted, many people survive on less than $2.15 a day. The payments to women didn’t come freely. To receive the cash, they were required to complete training courses intended to help them start “income-generating activities.” The payments appear to try to circumvent the U.N.’s stated policy that it doesn’t pay reparations by including the money in what it calls a “complete package” of support…The U.N. health agency continues to struggle with holding perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation to account in Congo. A WHO-commissioned panel found at least 83 perpetrators during the Ebola response, including at least 21 WHO staffers. The youngest known victim was 13. AP

Zimbabwe Opposition Party Says Activist Found Dead after Abduction
A Zimbabwe opposition activist has been found dead after he was abducted on Saturday during a political campaign just outside Harare, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party said late on Monday, the second abduction in weeks of an opposition party member. Tapfumaneyi Masaya was reportedly bundled into a vehicle by unknown men while campaigning for main opposition party CCC’s candidate ahead of by-elections on Dec. 9, the party said. CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi told Reuters on Tuesday that Masaya was tortured and dumped on the outskirts of Harare. Masaya’s body was later moved to a mortuary at Parirenyatwa Hospital, about 5km from central Harare, where it was identified by CCC members who had been searching for him, Mkwananzi said…Zimbabwe has a long history of forced disappearances and deaths of political activists dating back to the 80s. The opposition has often accused the ruling ZANU-PF party of torture and deaths of its activists. Masaya’s abduction and killing comes barely two weeks after CCC lawmaker Takudzwa Ngadziore was abducted, tortured and dumped about 50km north of Harare by armed men. He survived the attack. Reuters

AfDB Lifts Financial Sanctions off Gabon after Bongo Removed in Coup
Gabon says the African Development Bank has lifted financial sanctions on it after President Ali Bongo was removed from power in a coup in August. Bongo served two terms as president after the death of his father in 2009, who himself ruled Gabon for 41 years. In a meeting last week officials from the government and the AFDB met in Morocco to agree on resuming work together. The bank tries to achieve sustainable economic development in Africa and at the same time reduce poverty. Two weeks ago U.S. President Joe Biden announced he would stop Gabon participating in the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade programme. It allows Gabon duty-free access to the U.S. market for its exports. Africanews with AP