Africa Media Review for November 28, 2023

Twenty Killed in Sierra Leone Attack and Nearly 2,000 Prisoners Escape
Twenty people were killed and nearly 2,000 inmates escaped during Sunday’s attack on a military barracks, a prison and other locations in Sierra Leone, officials said on Monday…Army spokesman Colonel Issa Bangura told Reuters that the 20 dead included 13 soldiers, three assailants, a police officer, a civilian and someone working in private security. Eight people were wounded and three arrested, he said. Some 1,890 inmates escaped from the Pademba Road central prison after the attackers broke in, according to a situation report that prison officials shared with Reuters on Monday. So far, 23 have returned, it said…Sierra Leone, which is still recovering from a 1991-2002 civil war in which more than 50,000 were killed, has been tense since Bio was re-elected in June, a result rejected by the main opposition candidate and questioned by international partners including the United States and the European Union. In August 2022, at least 21 civilians and six police officers were killed in anti-government protests. Reuters

German Priest Abducted in Mali in 2022 Freed: Officials
A German Catholic priest, Father Hans-Joachim Lohre, who disappeared in Mali in November 2022 and was thought to have been kidnapped, has been released, two archdiocesan and government officials said on Sunday…Father Hans-Joachim Lohre disappeared when he was supposed to be celebrating mass in a district of Bamako. He has since been considered to have been the victim of a kidnapping, which is common in Mali but exceptional in the capital…Nicknamed “Ha-Jo”, the German priest, a member of the Society of Missionaries of Africa, known as the White Fathers, had been living in Mali for around thirty years. He taught in the Malian capital at the Institut de formation islamo-chrétienne, which receives students from Africa. He was also the national secretary of a commission for inter-religious dialogue. He is the second German to be freed in less than a year in the Sahel, following the release in December 2022 of German humanitarian Jörg Lange, who was kidnapped on 11 April 2018 in western Niger in a region bordering Mali that is plagued by jihadist activity. Africanews with AFP

Niger’s Junta Revokes a Key Law That Had Slowed Migration for Africans Desperate to Reach Europe
Niger’s junta has signed a decree revoking a 2015 law that was enacted to curb the smuggling of migrants traveling from African countries through a key migration route in Niger en route to Europe, according to a government circular issued on Monday…Niger’s Agadez region is a gateway from West Africa to the Sahara and it has been a key route both for Africans trying to reach Libya to cross the Mediterranean to Europe and for those who are returning home with help from the United Nations. But the route has also become a lucrative place for people smugglers, prompting Niger’s government, working with the European Union, to sign the 2015 law to stop the movement of at least 4,000 migrants which the U.N. estimates travel through Agadez every week without travel documents. The law empowered security forces and the courts to prosecute smugglers who faced up to five years in prison if convicted. While the law transformed Niger into a migration hub housing thousands of migrants being returned to their countries, the U.N. human rights office has also noted that it “led migrants to seek increasingly dangerous migratory routes, leading to increased risks of human rights violations.” AP

Sudan: Darfur Armed Groups Forged Agreement with SLM-AW to Defend Civilians
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), led by Gibril Ibrahim, has confirmed that the Juba peace groups reached an agreement on the protection of civilians with the Chief of Staff of the Sudan Liberation Movement Army- Abdel Wahid al-Nur (SLM-AW). Following the Rapid Support Forces’ (RSF) announcement of their intention to seize control of the Sudanese army garrison in El Fasher, the Juba peace agreement signatories have strongly condemned any attack on the populated city and aligned with the army to defend the capital of North Darfur…SLM-AW spokesman Abdel Rahman Al-Nayer two days ago told Sudan Tribune that Karjakola’s presence in El Fasher is not part of a military alliance but rather a humanitarian mission “to alleviate the suffering of civilians”. The non signatory group refuses to join the war against the RSF saying that would prolong the conflict and harm civilians ultimately. El Fasher remains the only city in the Darfur region not under RSF control, as the paramilitary force holds sway over South, Central, East, and West Darfur. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan’s Kiir Takes Over as EAC Chairperson
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has assumed the chairmanship of the East African Community (EAC) during the final day of the economic bloc’s summit in Arusha, Tanzania on Friday…President Salva Kiir took over from President Évariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi. Kiir’s leadership arrives at a critical juncture for the EAC, confronting challenges like climate change, food insecurity, and economic disparities. The EAC Chairperson slot is a rotational position, with each Member State holding the position for a one-year term. The EAC consists of seven partner countries: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. South Sudan officially joined the EAC on April 16, 2016. Somalia has also become the eighth Member after the Summit approved its bid to join the bloc on Friday, clearing the way for its accession…President Kiir will serve as the primary Spokesperson for the EAC, scheduling, noticing, and calling public meetings, hearings, and other events. Radio Tamazuj

It’s Official: The EAC Troops Are Leaving Eastern DR Congo
The East African Community peacekeeping force will leave eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after December 8, but the bloc will remain involved in the quest for peace in troubled region, the heads of state have said. A dispatch after the 23rd Heads of State Summit held in Arusha on Friday confirmed that Kinshasa will not extend the term of the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF), although they haven’t quelled the conflict yet. Their mission is to be taken over by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces…While handing over the leadership of the bloc to South Sudan’s Salva Kiir, Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye said the continued fighting in DRC poses significant risks for the region, especially for the countries that neighbour it. “The fluid security situation in eastern DRC has been a source of unease, particularly for the five EAC partner states that share borders with DRC, not only due to the concentration of the groups that may destabilise our partner states, but also the humanitarian consequence which caused a spillover of displaced persons across the borders,” he said. The East African

Top ICC Prosecutor Ends Probes into Kenya’s 2007 Electoral Violence
A senior International Criminal Court prosecutor on Monday announced that she was dropping all further investigations into crimes committed in Kenya relating to violence that erupted following elections in 2007. The decision by the ICC’s Deputy Chief prosecutor Nazhat Shameen Khan ends a 13-year legal saga which involved senior Kenyan politicians…In 2010, the Hague-based tribunal started probing post-election fighting in the nation in which prosecutors said 1,300 people died and some 600,000 others were left homeless. Initially, six suspects faced charges of crimes against humanity, including murder and deportation. The suspects included former and current Kenyan presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto respectively. But former chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda withdrew the charges against Kenyatta in 2014 and in 2016 the case against Ruto was stopped too, after judges said the prosecution’s evidence was too weak. The case against all six collapsed due to a lack of evidence. Bensouda blamed a relentless campaign of victim and witness intimidation for making a trial impossible and prosecutors launched a new probe into witness intimidation and bribery. AFP

Madagascar’s Main Opposition Candidate Files a Lawsuit Claiming Fraud in the Presidential Election
The main opposition candidate in Madagascar said Monday he has filed lawsuits with the country’s highest court seeking to have the results of this month’s national election canceled and incumbent President Andry Rajoelina’s victory declared invalid, claiming fraud…Rajoelina’s victory was announced by the national electoral commission but needs to be ratified within nine days by the High Constitutional Court…Some Rajoelina supporters have claimed they were promised money to vote for him. Main opposition candidate Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, who received the second highest number of votes behind Rajoelina with 14.4%, said he filed the appeals with the High Constitutional Court. He claims the electoral commission “modified” its figures. Rajoelina…first served as president of a transitional government in Madagascar from 2009-2014 following a coup. He was elected in 2019. He was the only candidate to attend the ceremony announcing the results of the election and sat with 12 empty chairs set aside for the other candidates…The election was marked by low turnout, with 46% of people on the electoral register voting. AP

Togo Announces Elections Will Be Held by Early 2024
Togo’s next legislative and regional elections will be held “no later than the end of the first quarter of 2024”, the government announced Monday. The proposed timeline pushes back the promise President Faure Gnassingbe made in December last year to hold polls within 12 months. The last legislative and regional elections, in 2018, were boycotted by the opposition, which denounced “irregularities” in the census. This time, the opposition hopes to challenge the ruling Union for the Republic (UNIR) party and has called for a registration surge. Togo’s opposition on Tuesday disputed an electoral register validated by an international organisation, saying it still feared fraud in the upcoming poll…Togo’s head of state has been in power since 2005 after the death of his father, General Eyadema Gnassingbe, who ruled the country for 38 years. Since coming to office, Faure Gnassingbe has won every election, though the opposition has disputed those results. AFP

Uganda to Borrow $150 Mln from China’s Exim after World Bank Halts Funding
Uganda is preparing to borrow $150 million from China’s Export Import Bank (Exim) to help expand its internet infrastructure, the finance ministry said on Monday. The move underscores the East African country’s increasing reliance for credit on Chinese lenders after the World Bank halted all new lending to Uganda earlier this year in protest at a new anti-homosexuality law…The money, the ministry said, is “to finance the supply, installation, commissioning and support of the national data transmission backbone infrastructure.” Uganda is in negotiations with Chinese export credit agency SINOSURE and Exim Bank for a loan to finance the construction of a pipeline to help Uganda export its crude oil to international markets. The World Bank, traditionally Uganda’s biggest development lender, halted loans to Uganda after President Yoweri Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act which hands out tough sentences including death for a range homosexual activities. Reuters

School Spearheads China’s Efforts to Spread Ideological Influence among Africa’s Ruling Parties
[T]he Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School…is a joint project of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the ruling parties of six countries in southern Africa – none of which has lost even a single election in their history after colonialism or white minority rule. Since its opening last year, the school has spearheaded China’s efforts to spread its ideological influence among the continent’s biggest political parties, and to ensure the perpetuation of their rule…Most of the six African parties have been in power since the 1980s or early 1990s, and some have ruled even longer. Mozambique’s governing party, FRELIMO, has been in power since 1975. Tanzania’s ruling CCM has held power, under different names, since 1964. Several of the parties have veered into authoritarian rule, sometimes using fraud and violence to retain their dominance…For China, the school is an opportunity to promote its political model, to deepen its influence in the developing world – and to compete with the United States and Europe, which have provided their own political training programs in Africa…Although the school was only opened last year, its history can be traced back to a meeting in Zimbabwe in 2016, when the concept of a Chinese-built political school was approved at a summit of the six ruling parties, who called themselves the Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa. The Globe and Mail

Egypt Wiped Out Hepatitis C. Now It Is Trying to Help the Rest of Africa.
Egypt is on track to be the first country to achieve the World Health Organization goal of eliminating hepatitis C, and it is leveraging that victory into a campaign of “health diplomacy,” pledging to donate drugs and share expertise, with the goal of treating a million African patients. It is an unusual gesture in the world of global health, where largess is typically delivered to developing countries from high-income nations…[I]n 2013, Gilead Sciences Inc. brought to market an antiviral drug — the first cure for a viral infection in the history of medicine. While the company was charging $1,000 for its once-a-day pill in the United States, Egypt negotiated to buy it for $10 a pill — and then arranged for Indian and Egyptian drug companies to make an even cheaper generic version in exchange for a royalty. Egypt has treated more than four million people, and cut hepatitis C prevalence to just 0.4 percent…Egypt chose Ghana as an early partner because it is investing in building up national health care…[It] is working to set up parallel hepatitis C programs in other countries including Chad and Sudan. The New York Times