Africa Media Review for November 20, 2023

Liberia: Pres. Weah Concedes Defeat to President-Elect Boakai in Historic Election
President George Weah has conceded defeat to President-elect Joseph Boakai, marking a historic moment in Liberia’s political landscape. An official post from the Executive Mansion says “President Weah has congratulated Former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai as winner of the 2023 presidential runoff election. “President Weah called Mr. Boakai via telephone following the announcement of provisional results by the National Elections Commission (NEC) on Friday, November 17, 2023…With 99.58% of all polling places nationwide reporting (5,865 out of 5,890), Boakai securing victory with 814,212 votes, representing 50.89%, while President Weah followed closely with 785,778 votes, accounting for 49.11%. The margin between the two candidates is 28,434 votes, a difference of 1.78%…In a significant twist, President Weah’s loss makes him the first president in Liberia’s history to fail in his reelection bid. This defeat comes just six years after he won against Boakai in the 2017 runoff, securing a decisive win with 61.5% to 38.5%, following a 10% margin victory in the first round. Liberian Observer

Congo: Presidential Candidates Kick Off Monthlong Campaigns
Presidential candidates in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) launched their election campaigns on Sunday ahead of the country’s December 20 presidential vote. Incumbent President Felix Tshisekedi is seeking a second term…Meanwhile, the country’s opposition is trying to organize its ranks and agree on a single candidate to take on the president. Representatives of five leading opposition groups met earlier this week in South Africa, in an effort to propose an individual for the job. On Sunday evening, former Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo announced that he was dropping his presidential bid. Instead, Ponyo said he was throwing his support behind opposition candidate Moise Katumbi…Some 44 million registered voters are set to take part in the vote, out of Congo’s population of some 100 million. Voters will also decide on candidates for the country’s legislative and local bodies. DW/AFP/Reuters

DRC Signs Deal for SADC Troops Deployment
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has signed an agreement on the status of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) force that is to be deployed in the east of the country. President Félix Tshisekedi presided over the official ceremony in Kinshasa on Friday. Deployment of the force was decided at the summit held in Windhoek, Namibia, on May 7, 2023…The Congolese government is now awaiting the arrival of SADC troops, while at the same time, preparing to withdraw from the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) whose contingents were deployed in North Kivu and Ituri at the end of 2022 to combat armed groups, principally the M23. According to the latest decisions by Congo, the regional force and the United Nations Mission, which has been present in Congo since 1999, are due to begin their withdrawal next month. A final decision is expected to be taken at the level of the entire East African region at the 23rd ordinary summit to be held in Arusha, Tanzania, on November 24. The East African

Senegal Opposition Party Sponsoring New Candidate Faye after Court Blocks Jailed Leader Sonko’s Bid
The party of jailed opposition leader Ousmane Sonko said Sunday it was sponsoring another candidate for the February presidential election, just days after Senegal’s Supreme Court effectively blocked Sonko’s own bid. Election authorities have refused to provide Sonko with the sponsorship papers that need to be submitted by early December. On Sunday, the YouTube channel of Sonko’s Pastef party said it now would sponsor the party’s No. 2 politician, Bassirou Diomaye Faye. In making the announcement, the party said Faye “is the candidate that Pastef will sponsor,” but specified that Sonko’s candidacy has been maintained…Faye, a tax and property inspector, is the opposition party’s Secretary General. In April he was arrested on charges of “spreading false news, insulting a magistrate and defaming a constituted body” after making comments on social media. Like Sonko, he is also now facing a slew of other criminal charges that the party believes are politically motivated. Those include calling for insurrection, undermining state security and plotting against the authority of the state among others. AP

Hichilema Called Out for Political Repression in Zambia
Democratic space in Zambia is shrinking, with increased cases of persecution of political rivals by President Hakainde Hichilema, according to the Law Association of Zambia (LAZ). This is against the backdrop of the arrest on espionage charges of the opposition leader of the Socialist Party of Zambia, Fred M’membe, a former journalist…LAZ said that, because of its constitutional mandate, it could not be silent when opposition leaders were being victimised in the country. The lawyers argued that the arrests of politicians in most cases do not amount to credible charges, nor do they have to end up having their day in court. Instead, the lawyers said, the arrests are “an attempt to cower them into silence, something which is retrogressive in a democratic dispensation”…In southern Africa, Zambia ranks as the country with the most changes of government since independence. Much of it is owed to strong institutions. However, LAZ believes that continued repression of the opposition could derail this record. News 24

Chad Opposition Leader Urges Reconciliation with Military Regime
Opposition leader Succès Masra spoke Sunday to hundreds of supporters in N’Djamena. The Les Transformers party chief had left Chad along with other opposition leaders after demonstrations held last year to protest military rule were violently repressed. On Sunday (Nov. 19), Masra called for “reconciliation”…Masra returned home after reaching an agreement with the military regime. The rest of Chad’s opposition, many of whose leaders remain in exile, have denounced the deal which allegedly includes an amnesty for those responsible for killing demonstrators last year…A constitutional referendum is scheduled for next month…The opposition leader finished with a nod to future cooperation with the military leaders, calling President Deby “our brother.” Africanews and AFP

Sudan: ‘Six Days of Terror’ in West Darfur: Ethnically-Based Attacks on the Rise
Hundreds of ethnic Masalit civilians were reportedly killed earlier this month in Ardamata town, West Darfur, by the RSF and their allied Arab militia. The RSF has its roots in the Janjaweed militias which fought on the Government side against a rebel coalition in the Darfur war two decades ago. Some of its leaders face outstanding war crimes and atrocity crimes charges. “Preliminary information we have obtained from survivors and witnesses suggests Masalit civilians suffered six days of terror at the hands of the RSF and its allied militia after they took control of the Sudanese army’s base in Ardamata on 4 November,” said OHCHR Spokesman Jeremy Laurence, speaking in Geneva. The army base is located just outside the West Darfur capital, El Geneina. Some of the victims were summarily executed or burnt alive. Many of those killed were young Masalit men and relatives of Sudanese soldiers remaining in Ardamata after the troops fled the town. UN News

Ethnic Fighting Kills 32 in Disputed Region Straddling Sudan, South Sudan
Attacks by rival factions of the Dinka ethnic group in an area claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan killed at least 32 people over the weekend, a local official said on Monday. Deadly violence is common in the oil-rich Abyei region, where Twic Dinka from South Sudan’s neighbouring Warrap State are locked in a dispute with Ngok Dinka from Abyei over the location of an administrative boundary. On Sunday morning, Twic Dinka armed youth, backed by a local militia, attacked several Ngok Dinka villages northeast of Agok town, Bulis Koch, the information minister for Abyei Administrative Area, told Reuters. Men in South Sudan army uniforms, backed by Twic Dinka fighters, also attacked Ngok Dinka settlements, Koch said…Abyei has been claimed by Sudan and South Sudan since the latter declared independence in 2011. Abyei had a special administrative status, governed by an administration comprising officials appointed by Juba and Khartoum. Reuters

Nigeria: Terrorists Kill Policeman, Abduct 13 Others in Fresh Zamfara Attack
A mobile policeman attached to the Maru police division was killed by terrorists who attacked Ruwan Doruwa, a community in Maru Local Government Area of Zamfara State on Sunday. Residents said 13 people consisting of six women, five men and two children were abducted by the terrorists during the attack that lasted more than two hours…The community leader said the terrorists came to abduct residents of the community so they could collect ransom before releasing them…Maru is one of the most insecure communities in Zamfara. Attacks by terrorists are common in the town and surrounding neighbourhood. The North-west subregion has been battling terrorists, also called bandits, for over a decade. The terrorists have killed or abducted thousands of people and tens of thousands of others have been displaced in the region. The terrorists primarily target schools, religious houses, travellers and rural communities. Premium Times

50 Terrorists Killed, 122 Arrested across Nigeria Last Week — Defence HQ
No fewer than 50 terrorists were killed and 122 others arrested in several counter-terrorism operations across Nigeria last week, the Defence Headquarters said on Friday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory. The troops also rescued about 182 kidnap victims in a renewed effort towards eliminating and cutting the terrorists’ chain of command, recovering 66 assorted weapons and 11,474 assorted ammunition comprising one conqueror APC, one GPMG, one NSVT gun, one GT3 rifle, 25 AK47 rifles, four pump action guns, and two locally made AK47 rifles. In the North West, troops of Operation Hadarin Daji stormed terrorists’ hideouts, killing 20 and arresting 48 others. The troops rescued 56 kidnap victims and recovered several weapons. An air raid was subsequently conducted on the hideout of a terror kingpin in Maru local government in Zamfara, the epicentre of the crisis in the region. HumAngle

Uganda’s Divided House as Opposition Threatens Paralysis
The opposition in Uganda’s Parliament [last] week announced that it will continue with an ongoing boycott of plenary sessions that have stalled House business for weeks, until the government commits itself to address a series of key demands tabled over a month ago…The opposition demands include seeking answers to the whereabouts of 18 supporters of the opposition National Unity Platform party (NUP) members who have been missing for over two years, a stop to the targeting and victimisation of Muslims, a stop to the detention without trial of political dissenters, an end to human rights violations against fishing communities, the shrinking civil space, mistreatment of politicians and the media, and the trial of civilians in military courts…Some ruling party MPs believe that the boycott by their opposition colleagues cannot deter house business since it does not affect the rules of procedure. The East African

As Morocco Tries to Rebuild after Quake, Tradition Is Top of Many Minds
The government has pledged to spend about $11.8 billion to rebuild and repair the homes of an estimated 4.2 million Moroccans in the next five years. At the same time, officials are weighing how best to restore the cultural heritage of a region that is also an important part of the country’s tourism industry. In the Atlas Mountains, traditional architecture had long endured, with picturesque flat-roofed houses, built with mud and stone bricks mixed with straw, clustered together across spectacular landscapes that were a draw for visitors…The Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco, a national cultural scientific reference institution, has consulted several experts from different disciplines on how using traditional materials to rebuild can help preserve Morocco’s heritage. The country’s highest authorities seem, according to the experts who were consulted, aware of the need to draft a plan that could be a starting point to preserving the cultural and architectural heritage of the Atlas Mountains, while also building homes that will resist natural disasters…As winter approaches and temperatures continue to drop, the first concern of many residents is to get back in their homes. Some have been avoiding them for fear of aftershocks. The New York Times