Africa Media Review for November 24, 2023

Sudan Activists Condemn RSF Detention and ‘Enforced Disappearance’ of Journalists
The Sudanese Journalists Network (SJN) has strongly condemned the prolonged detention of Abdelrahman Warab, a journalist with Sudan News Agency (SUNA), by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for the sixth consecutive month. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the network decried the RSF’s “arbitrary and illegal” arrest of Warab last June, highlighting the lack of any legal justification for his detention. According to the syndicate, Warab’s family has been unable to establish contact with him or obtain information regarding his whereabouts. Expressing deep concern about the potential for torture, SJN said Warab’s case could constitute an enforced disappearance, given the RSF’s failure to disclose his place of detention…Since the outbreak of the war between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF, journalists in Sudan have faced assaults, threats, enforced disappearances, and detentions, by both Military Intelligence and the RSF.  Radio Dabanga

Sudanese Army, RSF Engage in Fierce Clashes in Khartoum
On Thursday, the Sudanese Army Air Force intensified its air sorties south of Khartoum, while the intensity of artillery shelling between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) increased in several areas of Khartoum, resulting in casualties and injuries. Military aircraft bombed RSF positions in the vicinity of the Sports City, south of Khartoum, on Thursday evening, and in the area south of the belt, which includes the Al-Azhari and Mayo neighbourhoods…Eyewitnesses reported seeing flames rising from multiple locations south and west of the Sports City, and RSF soldiers were seen quickly evacuating the area. Military aircraft also bombed RSF sites in the Al-Manshiya neighbourhood, east of Khartoum, near the Al-Manshiya Bridge linking Khartoum and the East Nile locality…Simultaneously, the RSF are mobilizing in Darfur, preparing to launch an attack on the North Darfur capital El Fasher, while armed movements aligned with the Sudanese army are massing tribal fighters to counter any foreseen assaults…The escalating conflict has severely hampered humanitarian aid distribution efforts, despite the humanitarian commitments signed by both parties on November 7. Sudan Tribune

Cameroon Says Nigerian Refugee Trees Reduce Conflicts
Ten years ago, UNHCR set up the Minawao refugee camp on about 630 hectares of land near the borders [with Nigeria and Chad] to house 15,000 refugees. But unending violence swelled the camp’s population to 72,000, exerting pressure on natural resources…The Cameroon government says climate change, population growth and rampant exploitation of wood and non-timber plant resources threatens ecological biodiversity and has plunged civilians into deep poverty. The United Nations reports that in 2016 five Nigerian refugee leaders got together and decided to plant trees in the Minawao camp to alleviate the situation. Trees planted included cassia, neem, acacia, moringa, cashew and leucaena, which are all drought-resistant and have branches that can be pruned and used for fuel. Some of their leaves are also used for medicine, food or fertilizer…Refugees and host populations say the trees make it possible for them to create gardens in shade, feed and care for animals and reduce conflicts related to sharing resources. Women say they are no longer exposed to sexual abuse and violence while trekking long distances to fetch firewood and carry water. VOA

The Big Topics That Will Define Congo’s Election
As Democratic Republic of Congo heads to the polls in December, much will come down to President Felix Tshisekedi’s perceived performance running the giant Central African country of nearly 100 million people since 2019. [Following] are the key topics on voters’ minds. The Economy: [D]espite its wealth of copper, cobalt and other resources, little is passed down to ordinary Congolese. The poverty rate sits at 62%, 178th out of 182 on the 2020 Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index…Mining: Congo is the world’s top producer of cobalt, used in electric vehicle batteries, and the fifth largest copper producer. Risk-averse companies that had previously avoided Congo’s mining sector due to instability are taking a second look as new opportunities to tap into its minerals emerge…Security: Fighting between myriad rival armed groups over land and resources, and brutal attacks on civilians, have intensified in eastern Congo in recent years…Corruption: Tshisekedi came to power promising to eliminate the rampant corruption of the Kabila regime, but anti-graft measures have fallen short, critics say…Free and Fair Vote: Congo’s opposition parties and the influential Catholic Church in Congo are concerned that the election will be flawed, and have alleged irregularities during the voter registration period. Reuters

Senegal: Opposition Leader Sonko Ends Hunger Strike (Party)
Imprisoned Senegalese opposition figure Ousmane Sonko, whose bid for the 2024 presidential election is in doubt, has ended the hunger strike he has been on since mid-October, announced two of his party officials who visited him in prison…Mr Sonko had been admitted to intensive care in a Dakar hospital after losing consciousness at the end of October and was in a “very weak” state at the time, according to his lawyers…[O]n Friday, Senegal’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling that had put Mr Sonko back in the running for the presidency by overturning his removal from the electoral roll following his conviction in a vice case. The case is due to be retried on a date yet to be announced, at a time when the opposition leader is racing against time to obtain the sponsorship he needs to stand as a presidential candidate. Since Sunday, Mr Sonko’s party, Pastef, has been calling for support for Bassirou Diomaye Faye, who is also behind bars. “To sponsor Diomaye is to sponsor Sonko”, says a party campaign. However, the party continues to say that Ousmane Sonko’s candidacy is plan A. Africanews with AFP

Madagascar President on Course for Reelection as Supporters Claim They Were Promised Money to Vote
Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina was on course to win reelection Thursday after a vote boycotted by most opposition candidates and as supporters of his party claimed they were promised money in return for backing him…The lead up to the Nov. 16 election was marked by protests against Rajoelina led by opposition candidates. Security forces fired tear gas grenades at demonstrators, and two opposition candidates sustained minor injuries. Some polling stations were torched ahead of the election, which was delayed for a week because of the trouble…People have lined up outside the offices of Rajoelina’s TGV party in Antananarivo and other major towns since last week to collect party membership cards, which they claimed would allow them to be paid for their votes. Some said they had been promised about $75 for voting for Rajoelina. TGV has denied promising any money to its supporters. However, party officials have said the membership cards would give people preferential treatment for any future government handouts of food and other provisions in a country the World Bank says has one of the world’s highest poverty rates. AP

Comoros President Cleared to Seek Re-election
Comoros’ Supreme Court on Thursday approved plans by incumbent President Azali Assoumani to run for another term in a poll some opponents are threatening to boycott if certain conditions, such as the release of political prisoners, are not met. The Indian Ocean archipelago country of 800,000 people last held its presidential elections in 2019 and Assoumani was declared the winner for a five-year term, amid protests from the opposition which alleged irregularities, including barring of independent monitors and pre-ticking ballots. In the next poll due on January 14, he will be up against nine opponents, according to a list released by the Supreme Court, which approves candidates…Assoumani, a former army officer, first came to power in a coup in 1999…Some opposition supporters and leaders have vowed to boycott the poll because the electoral process lacks transparency…The opposition also wants the government to reconstitute the electoral body to guarantee its independence and to bar armed forces from involvement in the electoral process. Reuters

Ivory Coast: Ex-Prime Minister Guillaume Soro “Can Return” (Government)
The former Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, in exile for four years, “can return” to his country, but it is the justice system that will decide on the enforcement of his convictions in Côte d’Ivoire, declared the Ivorian government spokesperson on Thursday (Nov. 23)…Former leader of the rebellion that controlled the northern half of Côte d’Ivoire in the 2000s and later Prime Minister and President of the National Assembly, Guillaume Soro announced nearly two weeks ago that he was ending his exile and returning to Africa. He had left Côte d’Ivoire in 2019 after falling out with the current President Alassane Ouattara. In 2020, he was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for “complicity in embezzlement of public funds” in Côte d’Ivoire, and a year later, to life imprisonment for “endangering the security of the State”…During his exile Soro lived in France, Belgium, Dubaï and in Asia. Since his return to Africa, Mr. Soro has met with General Abdourahamane Tiani in Niger and Captain Ibrahim Traoré in Burkina Faso, two military figures who came to power through coups, in July last year and in September 2022, respectively. Africanews with AFP

Mozambique Parliament Seeks to Extend Compulsory Military Service
Mozambique’s parliament on Thursday passed draft legislation to up the minimum period of compulsory military service from two to five years, a move the government said aimed to increase professionalism in the armed forces. The country has been fighting a prolonged Islamist insurgency that has cast doubt over the development of large gas deposits discovered in its restive north…All Mozambicans have to register with the armed forces upon turning 18, although not all are called up to serve in the military, depending on factors including health, studies, professional career and government needs. The law is still subject to possible amendments and will need to be signed by President Filipe Nyusi before coming into force…Mozambique has set high hopes on vast natural gas deposits — the largest found south of the Sahara — that were discovered in the Northern Cabo Delgado Province in 2010. If all the deposits are tapped, Mozambique could become one of the world’s 10 biggest gas exporters, according to estimates. But an insurgency waged by militants linked to the Islamic State group in the region has stalled progress. AFP

Shell to Face Human Rights Claims in UK over Chronic Oil Pollution in Niger Delta
Thousands of Nigerian villagers can bring human rights claims against the fossil fuel company Shell over the chronic oil pollution of their water sources and destruction of their way of life, the high court in London has ruled. Mrs Justice May ruled this week that more than 13,000 farmers and fishers from the Ogale and Bille communities in the Niger delta were entitled to bring legal claims against Shell for alleged breaches to their right to a clean environment. The judge ruled it was arguable the pollution had fundamentally breached the villagers’ right to a clean environment under the Nigerian constitution and the African charter on human and people’s rights. Claims under these rights have no limitation period. Shell said its Nigerian subsidiary, the Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC), accepted responsibility for the spills it caused and compensated affected parties where required by relevant Nigerian regulations…The ruling this week means the claimants will now prepare for a trial. A hearing will take place on 12 and 13 December for more legal arguments. The Guardian

China Pumps Donations to Somalia’s Flood Victims
The government of the People’s Republic of China has pumped donations to several flood victims of Somalia, in the latest assistance from one of world powers, following calls for humanitarian aid in the country. On Wednesday, Chinese embassy in Somalia donated relief food, which has been directed to flood victims across the country. Thousands of people living around Rivers Juba and Shabelle have been displaced. China is the first country to provide direct humanitarian assistance to Somalia since the severe floods hit the country. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed has been asking international community to chip in and assist…Floods have killed over 50 people across the country and a similar number in neighboring Kenya. On Wednesday, Ahmed Islam Mohamed Madobe, the leader of Jubaland, said the state is worst affected and any delay for assistance will be catastrophic. Garowe Online

Cameroon Receives First Shipment of GSK’s Mosquirix Malaria Vaccine
Cameroon received its first shipment of Mosquirix malaria vaccines manufactured by British drugmaker GSK Plc late on Tuesday…A batch of 331,200 doses of the vaccine – also known as RTS,S – was offloaded at Yaounde’s Nsimalen International Airport, making Cameroon the first African country to receive the vaccine after pilot programmes in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi…The initial consignment of vaccines will go to 42 out of 203 health districts in the country, Cameroon’s health minister Manaouda Malachie said…Inoculations will begin next month or early next year, according to a health official who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity. GSK says more than 1.7 million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have already received at least one dose of the shot, and that it would be rolled out in another nine malaria-endemic countries, of which Cameroon is one, from early next year. A further 1.7 million doses of the RTS,S vaccine are expected to arrive in Burkina Faso, Liberia, Niger and Sierra Leone in coming weeks, the global vaccine alliance GAVI said in a joint statement with WHO and UNICEF. Reuters

Morocco: Marrakech Hosts Film Festival in the Shadow of War in the Middle East
International movie stars arrive in Morocco on Friday to kick off one of the Arab world’s largest film festivals amid a shadow cast by Israel’s latest war with Hamas and protests that have swept the region for almost two months…The Marrakech International Film Festival, along with Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea Film Festival that is scheduled to open next week, are taking place despite war in Gaza. That’s in contrast to the Cairo International Film Festival and Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival, both of which were canceled due to the war…[Director Martin] Scorsese will preside over the festival’s Atlas Workshops — an initiative designed to screen films or films in progress by emerging Arab and Moroccan filmmakers. The festival is scheduled to run through Dec. 2. AP