Africa Media Review for November 17, 2023

Liberia: Can Weah Catch Boakai?
The National Elections Commission (NEC) continued its release of provisional results from the recent presidential runoff election on November 16. As the numbers were announced, Joseph Nyumah Boakai maintained his lead over incumbent President George Weah…According to Davidetta Browne Lansanah, chairperson of the National Elections Commission, 5,107 out of 5,890 polling places nationwide have reported and tallied, marking 86.71 percent of the total. Boakai secured 712,741 votes, accounting for 50.58 percent, while Weah obtained 696,520 votes, constituting 49.42 percent. Lansanah stated that Gbarpolu’s election results were unavailable due to their delayed arrival at the tallying center in Congo Town. With 1,431,388 total votes reported, consisting of 1,409,261 valid votes and 22,127 invalid votes, the margin between Boakai and Weah widened with yesterday’s results, increasing to 16,221 votes. As 13.29 percent of the votes remain to be tallied, Weah’s chances of a successful re-election are diminishing. This is particularly significant since most of his strongholds in the Southeast have already reported their numbers in larger quantities compared to the remaining areas, although the possibility of him retaining the highest office cannot be entirely ruled out. Liberian Observer

Madagascar President Takes Huge Lead in Early Results of Low Turnout Vote
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina took a predictably commanding early lead on Friday in his bid for re-election in a vote marked by low turnout and an opposition boycott, preliminary results showed…The opposition says he should not have run again in Thursday’s poll because he acquired French nationality in 2014 – which they say automatically revokes his Malagasy one – and has created unfair election conditions…There were 11 million people out of a population of roughly 30 million registered to vote in this year’s polls, which were preceded by weeks of opposition-led protests. Of 12 opposition candidates originally, only two took part in the vote. One was Marc Ravalomanana, the former president ousted in 2009, the other Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko…The United States voiced concern on Thursday over low turnout, inadequate training for election staff and irregularities by party officials. The opposition said participation was the lowest in Madagascar’s history and vowed to keep protesting…The opposition also called for changes to the makeup of electoral commission and for the formation of a special court to hear election disputes. Reuters

Sudan: Deadly Spiral of Violence Continues as Khartoum Calls for ‘Immediate Termination’ of UN Mission
Sudan’s military government wrote in a letter addressed to the UN chief and circulated to the Council – which provides each UN peacekeeping or political country mission with it’s mandate – that while calling for the withdrawal, it was committed to constructive engagement with the UN. In requesting the UN’s withdrawal, Sudan has become the latest African nation to request the pull back of UN missions this year, following on from Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Martha Ama Akyaa Pobee, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, informed ambassadors on the Security Council that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have gained territory, pushing the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) out of several of its bases in the region since late October. The RSF seems poised to advance on El Fasher in north Darfur, a major town and the last SAF holdout in the region, according to media reports. “An RSF attack on El Fasher or its surrounding areas could result in high numbers of civilian casualties, due to the large number of internally displaced persons located there,” Ms. Pobee said. UN News

Key Darfur Groups Join Sudanese Army in Its War against RSF Paramilitary Forces
The Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minawi and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) have jointly announced their active involvement in military operations alongside the Sudanese army against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)…“In response to the RSF’s threat to Sudan’s unity and their repeated assaults on cities, villages, and defenceless civilians, resulting in fatalities and displacement, coupled with the present danger to humanitarian and commercial convoys through attempts to sever supply routes to various areas, we renounce any neutrality. We declare our active participation in military operations on all fronts without hesitation,” the [two movements said in a joint statement]…The Darfur movements allege that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have exploited the ongoing conflict to expand their control over the Darfur region, using the pretext of fighting against the former regime. With the entry of two armed groups into the conflict, a forewarning of intense confrontations in significant areas of the Darfur region emerges. Sudan Tribune

Gunmen Kill One Journalist, Kidnap Two in Mali
Unidentified gunmen killed one journalist and abducted two other journalists earlier this month in Mali, the International Press Institute said Wednesday, underscoring the threats facing the media in the region. Abdoul Aziz Djibrilla, a journalist with community radio Naata, was driving in northern Mali on November 7 along with Radio Coton FM director Saleck Ag Jiddou and Radio Coton FM host Moustapha Kone when they saw gunmen ahead on the road, according to the International Press Institute, or IPI. When they tried to turn around, the unidentified gunmen fired on the car, killing Djibrilla, said Reporters Without Borders, or RSF. The gunmen then abducted Jiddou and Kone. It is unclear whether the journalists were targeted over their work…Harouna Attino, a journalist with community radio Alafia, was also in the car and was wounded in the assault but is now safe, press freedom groups said without providing further details…Political instability — including two military coups between 2020 and 2021 — and terrorism only make it harder for journalists to do their jobs safely, according to reports. VOA

Ethiopia: Conflict in Amhara Region Disrupts Delivery of Food Aid, Transportation of Fertilizers
The ongoing conflict in Amhara region has resulted in road closures, severely disrupting the timely delivery of crucial food aid to drought-affected communities in the Waghimra zone for over two weeks. Officials from the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) have revealed that a truck carrying edible oil and emergency food supplies, dispatched two weeks ago, remains stranded in Bahir Dar city due to the fighting, which has blocked access to the intended destinations. Mesfin Dereje, the Communication Director for Humanitarian Diplomacy at ERCS, explained to Addis Standard that the conflict directly obstructs the delivery of vital assistance…Mesfin also noted that additional aid convoys planned for the drought-affected Waghimra zone have also been unable to be deployed due to the volatile situation. The Waghimra zone, including Sehala district, has been grappling with depleted water resources, crop failure, and livestock loss due to months of minimal rainfall. This has resulted in at least 18 reported deaths from starvation…Additionally, the conflict in the Amhara region has disrupted the transportation of soil fertilizer. The Amhara Bureau of Agriculture recently highlighted the challenges faced in transporting soil fertilizer, which had started to be transported from Djibouti port. Addis Standard

Kenya’s President Ruto One of Four Africans on Time Climate Leaders List
Kenya’s President William Ruto has been named by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential leaders shaping global climate action. The listing comes in the week he led a national holiday aimed at planting 100 million trees in a single day. Mr Ruto was named alongside the mayor of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr. Burkinabé-German architect Francis Kéré and Ethiopian climate entrepreneur Kidus Asfaw also made the Time list. The ranking, known as “Time 100 Climate”, was released on Thursday, and is the magazine’s inaugural attempt to name those it sees as significant in highlighting and doing something about the issue of climate change across the globe…Mr Ruto has been vocal in trying to deal with the impact of climate change in Kenya and Africa. The tree-planting holiday held on 13 November was part of his larger ambition for Kenya to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years. In September, he hosted the first ever Africa Climate Summit in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, which ended in a joint declaration demanding that major polluters commit more resources to help poorer nations. But some environmentalists have called Mr Ruto a hypocrite for championing tree planting while failing to tame illegal logging in public forests. BBC

Kenyan Court Blocks Police Mission to Haiti despite Parliament’s Approval
Kenya’s High Court, which already blocked the move once before in October, extended orders blocking government plans to send the police officers to Haiti at the head of an international peacekeeping mission…High Court judge Chacha Mwita said he would issue another ruling on 26 January, effectively delaying the mission. The decision came hours after Kenya’s National Assembly approved the government’s request to send the police officers to Haiti. But the motion was hotly debated, with opposition lawmakers questioning who would fund the deployment and what justifications there were for sending security forces to Haiti, thousands of miles from Kenya…Whatever decision is reached by the High Court in January can be appealed, meaning there could be a protracted battle over sending the troops to Haiti. Burundi, Chad, Senegal, Jamaica and Belize have all pledged troops for the multinational mission. RFI with newswires

Supreme Court Rules Against UK’s Asylum Policy: Rwanda’s Response
On November 15, the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court delivered a landmark ruling, declaring the UK government’s migration strategy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda as illegal…Alain Mukurariranda, Deputy Spokesperson for the Government of Rwanda, expressed Rwanda’s commitment to respecting court rulings but asserted the possibility of disagreement. He challenged the UK judiciary’s understanding of Rwanda’s safety conditions, suggesting that a firsthand investigation in Rwanda would have been more appropriate before passing such a verdict. Mukurariranda underscored the absence of an invitation to Rwanda to participate in the court’s hearing, raising questions about procedural fairness…The UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, expressed dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision, highlighting the importance of the “Rwanda policy” in addressing the issue of illegal migration to the UK. The disagreement between the two nations raises questions about the future of their partnership in managing migration and asylum. Rwanda, in response, asserted its commitment to working with the UK on establishing a binding treaty. Africanews

A Ghana Reparations Summit Agrees on a Global Fund to Compensate Africans for the Slave Trade
Delegates at a reparations summit in Ghana agreed Thursday to establish a Global Reparation Fund to push for overdue compensation for millions of Africans enslaved centuries ago during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Accra Reparation Conference adds to the growing demands for reparations after about 12 million Africans were forcefully taken by European nations from the 16th to the 19th century and enslaved on plantations that built wealth at the price of misery. Centuries after the end of the slave trade, people of African descent around the world continue “to be victims of systemic racial discrimination and racialized attacks,” concluded a recent report by a special U.N. forum which supported reparations as “a cornerstone of justice in the 21st century”…Delegates to the conference in Accra did not say how such a reparation fund would operate. But Gnaka Lagoke, an assistant professor of history and pan-African studies, said it should be used to “correct the problems” that the continent is facing in all sectors of its economy…Activists have said reparations should go beyond direct financial payments to also include developmental aid for countries, the return of colonized resources and the systemic correction of oppressive policies and laws. AP

South Africa ‘Can’t Afford’ to Pay for New Anti-HIV Drug, despite Cut-Price Offer
The South African health department says the reduced cost of a new anti-HIV injection is still three times more than it can afford to pay. The UK-based drug company ViiV Healthcare has lowered the price from 729 rand per shot (£32) to between 540 and 570 rand (£23.66-£24.97). The medication, taken every eight weeks, essentially eliminates someone’s chances of contracting HIV through sex. It contains an antiretroviral drug, cabotegravir, that is released over a two-month period. The treatment is called CAB-LA (short for long-acting cabotegravir). With more than 13% of the South African population infected with HIV, the country has the largest HIV epidemic in the world…In March, ViiV licensed three Indian drugmakers to produce cheaper, generic versions of CAB-LA in collaboration with the Medicines Patent Pool, a UN-backed organisation that helps poorer countries get access to medicines. One of the companies, Cipla, has a plant in Durban, where it plans to manufacture the drug. But Cipla first needs to get the technology in place, build facilities and then run trials to prove its product works in the same way as the branded product. The Guardian

Meet the African Artists Driving a Cultural Renaissance
For centuries, the connection between Black people on and off the continent of Africa has been complex, bound up in a painful history of slavery, separation and, at times, suspicion. Yet the relationship has also thrived…Today, for the booming young population of Africa and its diaspora, the relationship is more direct. There’s a reciprocity of inspiration, fueled by a multitude of creative efforts and propelled by social media platforms like TikTok. Examples are plenty. Resonant movies like “Black Panther” and majestic portraits by artists like Kehinde Wiley and Omar Victor Diop. Nigeria’s hilarious pulp movies, which are binged in homes across Europe and the Caribbean. And the Afro-Pop songs of Kenya’s Sauti Sol and the Afrobeats sounds of Tems, Burna Boy and Mr Eazi. In 2022 alone, Afrobeats artists were streamed more than 13 billion times on Spotify. For this project, we spoke to 12 leading creators from Africa and the diaspora, as far afield as Asia, Europe and the United States. They include a two-time Oscar winner and first-time filmmakers, a Michelin star chef and a best-selling author, a fashion designer and an architect, a visual artist and a pop star. For them, Africa is the motherland, the source from which they draw. They are part of the global web of creatives who are making the world more African. The New York Times