Africa Media Review for November 6, 2023

RSF Seize Sudanese Army Headquarters in El-Geneina
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced on Saturday that they had successfully captured the Sudanese army headquarters in El Geneina, West Darfur state, marking the third military base to fall to the RSF within a week. The RSF shared video clips on their social media platforms, depicting their fighters inside the army’s 15th Infantry Division headquarters in El Geneina, alongside images of detained army personnel…This recent capture follows the RSF’s takeover of the 16th Division headquarters in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State, and their control of the 21st Division in Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur State, just days later. An anonymous traditional leader informed Sudan Tribune that the Sudanese army withdrew from its command headquarters at the request of local mediation led by Native Administration leaders in West Darfur. The army relocated to Kulbus, north of El Geneina, taking its military equipment, senior officers, and soldiers with it…Local leaders had previously proposed the Sudanese army’s withdrawal from the besieged base to prevent further bloodshed, but the force commander in West Darfur had rejected the idea. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Women and Girls Abducted, Held ‘In Slave-Like Conditions’ in Darfur
The UN human rights office (OHCHR) expressed alarm on Friday over reports that in Sudan, women and girls are being abducted, chained and held in “inhuman, degrading slave-like conditions” in areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Darfur…Survivors, witnesses and other sources have reported that over 20 women and girls have been taken, but the number could be higher, said OHCHR Spokesperson Liz Throssell. “Some sources have reported seeing women and girls in chains on pick-up trucks and in cars,” she said. As of Thursday, more than 50 incidents of sexual violence linked to the hostilities have been reported to the joint OHCHR-UNITAMS (the UN assistance mission) office in Sudan, impacting at least 105 victims – 86 women, one man and 18 children. Twenty-three of the incidents involved rape, 26 were of gang rape and three were of attempted rape. At least 70 percent of the confirmed incidents of sexual violence recorded – 37 incidents in total – are attributed to men in RSF uniforms, eight to armed men affiliated with the RSF, two to men in unidentified uniform, and one to the SAF, according to the office. The remaining cases involved men who have not yet been identified. UN News

Gunmen Kill at Least 20 in Pre-dawn Attack in Cameroon – Local Official
Gunmen opened fire on people as they slept in a town in western Cameroon early on Monday, leaving at least 20 dead, a local government official said. The attackers struck before dawn and set houses on fire in Mamfe, the administrative head of the surrounding Manyu division said. The town in Cameroon’s South West region is less than 50 km (30 miles) from the border with Nigeria. Seven people were in hospital and security forces were searching the area, the official Viang Mekala told Reuters. “The situation is under control and the population should not panic,” he said. Separatists in minority English-speaking parts of Cameroon have been fighting to carve out an independent state called Ambazonia since 2017. Armed groups have carried out attacks, kidnappings and killings in the North West and South West regions of the predominantly French-speaking African country. No group immediately claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack. Reuters

Insecurity Fears in Eastern DRC Ahead of Elections
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s journey to the much-awaited elections is causing insecurity fears in eastern parts of the country. Leaders of the Southern Africa Development Corporation (SADC) are expected to gather in the Angolan capital Luanda, with the top agenda being the security situation in the DRC. SADC had earlier agreed to deploy some 500 complementary troops to the DRC to support the existing East African Community Regional Force (EACRF). But the southern Africa bloc had dragged its feet as it assessed the situation. If the Angola meeting decided to provide definite dates for actual deployment, that will provide some respite for the eastern DRC, but it may not resolve the problem as armed groups resume violence that had already displaced thousands of people from their homes…For Ceni [the electoral commission]…there are logistical nightmares to surmount. First is how to deliver electoral material in a country where the road network is poor and air transport is expensive and unreliable. Connections between provinces are provided by aircraft that are increasingly rare since the national airline, Congo Airways, suspended its flights due to a loss-making. In the Eastern DRC, violence between the Wazalendo and the M23 rebels for the past two months have slowed the preparations and raised the security headache. The East African

Migration from Senegal Surges as More than 32,000 People Have Landed in Spain’s Canary Islands
Spain’s Canary Islands have set a new record for the number of irregular arrivals to the archipelago, with more than 32,000 migrants making the treacherous boat journey on the Atlantic Ocean to the European Union territory this year. Most migrants are leaving from Senegal. The islands, located near the African continent, have been used for decades as a stepping stone to Europe. Though the majority of arrivals are from Senegal, there are also boats departing from Gambia, Mauritania, Morocco and the Western Sahara. According to an Associated Press tally of figures released by Spain’s Interior Ministry and local emergency services, at least 32,029 people landed there from Jan. 1 to Nov. 5 — exceeding the notorious migration crisis of 2006, when 31,678 migrants disembarked in the Canaries…At least 512 people have died on that route so far this year according to the International Organization for Migration, though the figure is believed to be a vast undercount. Spain has nearly 40 police and civil guard officers, four boats, a helicopter and an aircraft deployed in Senegal to monitor the coast and crack down on smuggling networks in collaboration with local authorities. AP

Somalia Top Judge Vows to Help Journalists Beat Impunity
The head of Somalia’s top court has vowed to protect journalists from impunity, signaling the first time the judiciary is rallying to shield newspeople from dangers perpetrated sometimes by rogue government officials…Bashe Yusuf Ahmed, Chief Justice and President of Somalia’s Supreme Court, spoke before an audience of journalists, reflecting on the need to protect press freedom in a country considered one of the most dangerous on the continent for journalists…In Somalia, journalists are often targeted by militant groups Al Shabaab and those seen as critical of their terror have paid the ultimate price. But rogue government officials and other state officials have also abused their powers to mistreat journalists with illegal detentions, threats or shutdowns of their outlets…The promise by the top judge is significant because it could guarantee the journalists hope of fairness and justice in court…Between 2010 and 2023, 62 journalists were killed while carrying out their journalistic duties. Additionally, 67 journalists sustained injuries between 2010 and 2013. Many others have faced threats, intimidation, and forced exile, emphasising the hazardous conditions faced by journalists in Somalia and featuring the urgent nature of the situation requiring immediate action. The East African

Former Guinea Dictator Moussa Dadis Camara Recaptured after Armed Prison Escape
The former head of Guinea’s 2008 military junta has been recaptured and returned to prison hours after an apparent jailbreak led by a heavily armed commando, the army and his lawyer said. At least two other former officials on trial alongside Moussa Dadis Camara over a 2009 massacre during his presidency were taken in the earlier operation that sparked heavy gunfire in the capital Conakry, a minister and lawyers said…A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the masked and heavily armed soldiers who arrived at Conakry’s central prison declared they “had come to free” Camara. Inside, the group headed towards his cell, appearing to already know its location, the source said. Haba told AFP he believed his client had been “kidnapped” and his life was “in danger.” Wright also said Col Moussa Tiegboro Camara – another of the men taken from prison – had since been “recaptured”. Guinea is governed by the military leader Mamady Doumbouya, who took power in a coup in 2021 – one of eight in west and central Africa in the past three years. AFP

Ghana’s VP Bawumia Gets Ruling Party Nod for 2024 Presidential Run
Ghana’s ruling NPP party on Saturday elected the country’s Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia as their candidate for the 2024 presidential ballot, according to results from primaries released by the electoral commission. Ghana is undergoing its worst economic crisis in years, which will be a major electoral issue next year when President Nana Akufo-Addo steps down after two terms and an agreement for a $3 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund…Bawumia, a former deputy central bank governor, had been widely touted by pollsters to win the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidacy. He will face opposition National Democratic Congress candidate, ex-president John Dramani Mahama at the end of next year. Bawumia had already won the first round of NPP voting and as the first Muslim candidate to lead the ethnic Akan and southern-dominated party, he had positioned himself to bridge some of Ghana’s regional divisions…President Akufo-Addo has led the country since 2017 and will step down after serving the two terms allowed by the constitution. Opposition candidate Mahama lost to Akufo-Addo in the 2016 and 2020 elections. Africanews and AFP

Eswatini Has a New Prime Minister
At the end of the two-week-long Isibaya gathering in Eswatini, King Mswati III appointed Russell Mmemo Dlamini as the new prime minister of the last absolute monarchy in Africa. Dlamini is the former chief executive officer of the National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA). He takes over the prime minister’s job from Mgwagwa Gamedze, who has been in an acting role since September after the king dissolved parliament in preparation for the tinkhundla elections…Since the post was established in 1967, Eswatini has had 11 prime ministers and eight acting prime ministers. Only the late Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini was prime minister twice, from 1996 to 2003 and again from 2008 to 2018. The prime minister can only serve two terms at most. The new prime minister won a seat at the tinkhundla elections in October. Members of parliament in Eswatini only play an advisory role to the king. The prime minister’s main role will be to chair cabinet meetings as the head of government. According to Eswatini laws, the king will then choose cabinet ministers “on advice from the prime minister.” News 24

South Africa Faces Growing Xenophobia Problem
The self-appointed civilian army patrolling the streets in South Africa’s Soweto Township had one aim only: To drive out foreigners. A mob made up of people supporting the anti-immigrant group Operation Dudula stormed into so-called Spaza shops run by foreigners in the village of Diepkloof, where they harassed owners…The platform Xenowatch, which was developed by the African Center for Migration and Society (ACMS) at the University of Witwatersrand, collects data on crimes against foreigners. They recorded 1,038 attacks on migrants, 661 deaths and 5,131 shops looted since 1994…The group Operation Dudula first appeared on social media in 2020. Dudula is a Zulu word meaning “push back.” The group is now registered as a political party and will take part in the country’s 2024 general election. But Dudula candidates won’t be the only ones chanting xenophobic slogans on the campaign trail. The Economic Freedom Fighters, currently South Africa’s third-strongest party, also uses them. Though the party takes a radical leftist approach to the economy, it is also openly xenophobic. Other smaller parties, such as the Patriotic Alliance and ActionSA, have also inciting against foreigners. The latter was able to score points with xenophobic sloganeering during last year’s municipal elections. DW

Senegal: As a Teen, She Loved Video Games. Now She’s Using A.I. to Try to Quash Malaria.
Ms. [Rokhaya] Diagne is into artificial intelligence and machine deep-learning. She helped create an award-winning networking app to meet others with similar interests…And she founded a start-up called Afyasense (she borrowed “afya,” or health, from Swahili, an East African language) for her disease-detection projects using A.I…Like many other young people in Africa’s tech boom, Ms. Diagne is at the center of overlapping phenomena on the continent — a growing, educated middle class raising even more educated children who, with each tap on a keyboard, have adopted a sense that the continent’s biggest problems can be solved. Ms. Diagne wants to use A.I. to improve health outcomes in the region, a choice she made after a range of childhood illnesses landed her in Dakar hospitals, which struggled to provide consistent, quality care…Her malaria project recently won an award at an A.I. conference in Ghana and a national award in Senegal for social entrepreneurship, as well as $8,000 in funding. As her malaria project gets closer to going to market, Ms. Diagne already knows what she wants to undertake next: using A.I. to detect cancer cells. The New York Times