Africa Media Review for October 16, 2023

As Deaths Soar in Gaza From Israeli Strikes, Egypt Offers Aid, but No Exit
As Israeli warplanes pound Gaza, killing more than 1,500 people and crushing buildings in response to last weekend’s unprecedented attack by Hamas, Israel’s leadership has repeatedly urged civilians to flee the territory while they can…But the only viable exit is a border crossing into Egypt, and that country, as ever in times of war, is keeping it firmly shut. The Egyptians are adamantly opposed to allowing Gazans to cross the border for fear the country could become sucked deeper into the crisis — even as Israel presses ahead with a punishing siege that is rapidly escalating into a dire humanitarian crisis…The Egyptians say they will facilitate a humanitarian corridor to get urgently needed aid into Gaza, where Israel has cut off supplies of food, fuel and water as part of what its defense minister calls a “complete siege” — a tactic that aid and human rights groups have denounced as collective punishment and a likely war crime…Egypt has long insisted that Israel must solve the Palestinian issue within its borders, to keep alive aspirations for a future Palestinian state. Allowing large numbers of Gazans to cross over, even as refugees, would “revive the idea that Sinai is the alternative country for the Palestinians,” said Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, a political scientist at Cairo University. A related scenario that worries Egypt is that it could end up as the de facto administrator of Gaza. The New York Times

Hundreds Gather in Tunis at Rally in Support of Palestinian People
Hundreds of Tunisians from various political and ideological backgrounds came together in Tunis to express their unwavering support for the Palestinian people. The Protest drew attention to the dire situation in Gaza, where approximately one million residents have been displaced due to a week of intensive Israeli bombardment. “There isn’t an event linked to Palestine that doesn’t bring Tunisians of all political and ideological persuasions together, and in my opinion, Palestine is the cause that unites Tunisians,” expressed Bahri Arbaoui, a demonstrator… Around one million residents have been displaced in the Gaza Strip by a week of heavy Israeli bombardment, carried out in response to a bloody and unprecedented attack by Hamas militants on Saturday 7 October. Africanews and AFP

Liberia: EU Accuses Weah of Violating Campaign Financing Regulations
In the aftermath of the October 10 polls, President George Weah is facing allegations of “disproportionate” use of “state resources,” which distorted the political playing field. According to a report by the EU Election Observation Mission to Liberia, the president’s campaign team utilized a lot of state resources to establish a more dominant presence across the 15 political subdivisions of the country…The report, which also covers issues relating to electoral framework and administration, noted that while the country’s campaign finance regulations are overall in line with international standards, the lack of enforcement failed to ensure transparency and a level playing field. It also added that the “lack of capacity and resources constrained” the National Elections Commission (NEC), creating a sense of impunity and that the respect for campaign finance regulations by the contestants is limited or poor…The mission, however, commended Liberians for turning out to vote on October 10, saying that Liberian voters demonstrated commitment to the democratic process “by participating in great numbers.” “The technical preparations and running of the election day were well administered,” [Andreas Schieder, the head of the EU Election Mission, said]. While the campaign was largely peaceful and vibrant, and the press was free to cover all sides of the campaign, the use of government platforms and state resources constituted an advantage to the incumbency. Liberian Observer

SANDF Recalls Eight Soldiers from UN Peacekeeping Duty in DRC to Answer Sex Abuse Charges
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has recalled eight of its soldiers who were detained this month by the United Nations in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for “sexual abuse and exploitation.” The SANDF said it had received a UN report containing allegations of “serious acts of ill-discipline and misconduct” by the SANDF soldiers deployed in DRC as peacekeepers as part of the UN peacekeeping mission MONUSCO…It added that the UN report alleged that UN Military Police had apprehended the eight soldiers on 1 October 2023 “for being in direct breach of the curfew time and other regulations related to Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.” The SANDF also said it was unfortunate that the UN had not informed South Africa, as a troop-contributing country (TCC) of the allegations as is normal procedure and that South Africa had first learnt about them in the media…The UN statement did not provide details of the alleged offences, but according to French news agency AFP, internal MONUSCO reports alleged that the charges related to bars and brothels…which had sprung up near the MONUSCO base at Mavivi, near Beni. Daily Maverick

UN Voices Concern over Obstacles to Mali Mission’s Orderly Withdrawal
Heightened tensions and the increasingly hostile presence of armed groups in northern Mali are likely to impede the departure of the UN Stabilization Mission there (MINUSMA), the UN said in a note to correspondents issued on Saturday. The peacekeeping mission which for many years has been the deadliest place to serve as a UN ‘blue helmet’, is due to draw down fully by 31 December, in accordance with its Security Council mandate. At that point, MINUSMA’s 12 camps and one temporary operating base will be closed and handed over the transitional authorities there. Since it was established 10 years ago, over 300 peacekeepers have lost their lives amid continuing extremist violence and rampant insecurity across much of northern and central Mali. Close to 13,000 uniformed personnel will be repatriated, and civilian staff will leave while equipment is due to be relocated to other missions or repatriated to those countries which supplied items such as vehicles…A spike in tensions in Northern Mali, the note says, increases the likelihood of the Mission being forced to depart without being able to retrieve equipment belonging to Troop-Contributing Countries or to the UN, resulting in significant financial losses and potentially preventing the UN from distributing it to other peace operations. The situation also jeopardizes the air operations conducted by the Mission to protect its drawdown and ensure the safety of all personnel. UN News

Sudan: Central Darfur Displacement Camp ‘Encircled’ by SAF-RSF Clashes
Activists report that the inhabitants of the Hasahisa camp in Central Darfur have been encircled by fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for the last two weeks. The official spokesperson for the General Coordination of Displaced Persons and Refugees Camps, Adam Rijal, told Radio Dabanga on Friday that the camp is “blocked from all directions, and there is no access to the surrounding roads.” He adds that the fighting between the SAF and RSF since April, “has led to the deaths of 130 martyrs and 200 injured people in the camp.” Rijal states that the displaced were deprived of accessing food supplies, which led to a rise in food prices. Radio Dabanga

Sudanese Army General Killed in RSF Artillery Attack
A Sudanese army general was killed on Sunday during an artillery bombardment conducted by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) aimed at the Armoured Corps headquarters south of Khartoum. The commander of the 17th Infantry Division in Sennar State, central Sudan, Major General Ayoub Abdel Qader, was among those killed during the intense artillery shelling by the RSF on the Armored corps early on Sunday. During recent weeks, The RSF have been launching heavy artillery shells towards the headquarters of the Army General Command and the Armored Corps. Direct ground attacks have decreased following the failure of consecutive attempts in recent months. General Abdel Qader gained prominence in the ongoing conflict after leading a military brigade last May composed of troops from the states of Sennar and Blue Nile, which he named the “Lions of the Blue Nile Mobile Brigade.” After fierce battles near the Taiba camp of the Rapid Support Forces, situated ten kilometres from the army camp, he managed to reach the Armored Corps headquarters…In a video released by the Sudanese army, soldiers confirmed the demise of the General. They asserted that his death would not deter their determination and that many other generals were fighting alongside them. The military claimed to have eliminated over 60 RSF troops in clashes that occurred on Sunday without providing further details. Sudan Tribune

Senegalese Opposition Leader Wins Legal Fight to Rejoin Electoral List
The judge of the administrative court cancelled [Senegalese opposition leader Ousmane] Sonko’s removal from the electoral lists on Thursday evening. It also ordered his reinstatement, making his eligible again. It is a first victory for Sonko in his legal battle against the state. The politician remains under arrest in hospital in Dakar following a 45-day hunger strike that ended early in September for health reasons. Sonko began the hunger strike on 30 July to protest at what he describes as political oppression by the government in Senegal. He was hospitalised on 6 August and admitted to an intensive care unit. He remains under arrest, his party spokesmen told RFI. Sonko is the mayor of Ziguinchor, the capital of the Casamance region in the south of the country…Despite his judiciary troubles, Sonko has remained the leader of the Pastef party and the country’s most popular opponent to President Macky Sall. Sonko was accused of sexual misconduct and morally corrupting a young woman in the spring, and arrested multiple times, which sparked violent clashes between supporters and the police. He has faced a number of legal problems, which he says are aimed at keeping him out of politics…This week’s decision from the Ziguinchor court should allow Sonko to join the sponsorship phase, which started last week, an essential step on the path to becoming a presidential candidate. The Senegalese state has 10 days to lodge an appeal. If it does, it would then be up to the Supreme Court of Senegal to reexamine the case. RFI

Money Talks: Kenya Pushes for Veto Power in EAC
A Kenyan parliamentary committee has called for a review of East African Community (EAC) Treaty in order to grant veto powers to the highest contributing partner states. In a report tabled in the Parliament of Kenya, the Committee on Regional Integration recommends a review of the EAC Treaty to allow partner states’ contributions be based on their ability to pay and those who pay more to have veto powers. It also called on the founding partner states of EAC to consider paying contributions due for South Sudan and Burundi on the big brother spirit…“The current financial shortages occasioned by delayed partner state contributions and dwindling development partner support continue to adversely affect the performance of all EAC institutions thus frustrating the implementation of key projects and programmes meant to uplift the lives of East Africans, ” reads the report. EAC is a regional bloc of seven members — Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. They have equal voting rights and mostly make decisions via consensus and rotational policy, rather than secret ballot. Yet, the contribution share for membership fees has been problematic for some…Article 146 of the EAC Treaty says that the summit may suspend a member state from taking part in the activities of the community if it fails to observe and fulfill the fundamental principles and objectives of the treaty, including failure to meet financial commitments within a period of 18 months. The East African

World Bank to Implement LGBTQ Safeguards before New Uganda Funding Resumes
The World Bank will aim to ensure gay and transgender Ugandans are not discriminated against in its programmes before resuming new funding, which was halted in August over an anti-LGBTQ law, a bank executive said. World Bank project documents will make it clear that LGBTQ Ugandans should not face discrimination and that staff will not be arrested for including them, Victoria Kwakwa, the bank’s head for eastern and southern Africa, told Reuters. Rights groups have said that the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), which was enacted in May and prescribes the death penalty for certain same-sex acts, has unleashed a torrent of abuse against LGBTQ people, mostly by private individuals…She declined to give a timeline for assessing the measures’ efficacy and moving to a decision on whether to resume new funding for Uganda. Reuters

Congolese Journalist Goes on Trial regarding Jeune Afrique Article
A Congolese journalist appeared in court on Friday on charges of spreading false rumours about the killing of a prominent opposition politician, according to his lawyer and court records seen by Reuters. Stanis Bujakera, who also contributes to Reuters, has been in detention since Sept. 8 in connection with an article published by French news magazine Jeune Afrique about the circumstances of the death of Cherubin Okende, a former transport minister whose body was found in Kinshasa on July 13. On Friday, he was brought before a judge for the first time, and charges were read out to him, his lawyer, Charles Mushizi, told Reuters…Bujakera was not asked to enter a plea to the charges, which he denies, Mushizi said. The judge adjourned the trial until Oct. 20 following a request from Bujakera’s lawyers for time to prepare his defence. The reporter could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted on all charges, Mushizi said. The accusations relate to an article published on Jeune Afrique’s website on Aug. 31 that said an internal report by the National Intelligence Agency (ANR) had accused military intelligence agents of possible involvement in Okende’s killing, the magazine said in September. The Congolese authorities dispute the authenticity of the report, Jeune Afrique said on its web site. It said further that the article in question did not carry Bujakera’s name, and he could not be held responsible for its content…Local and international rights groups have expressed concern about Bujakera’s detention, calling it an attack on press freedom. Reuters

Somali Court Acquits Journalist over Government Charges
A freelance journalist who had been detained in Somalia for 56 days has been cleared of all charges. The Banadir Regional Court declared Mohamed Bulbul free on Wednesday after it found him not guilty of all charges against him. According to the Somali Journalists Syndicate where Bulbul also works as information and human rights secretary, the court said Bulbul’s detention was unlawful. The journalist was arrested on August 17 following an investigative report he wrote alleging corruption by Somali police in a training program funded by the European Union. Amnesty International said he was accused of “bringing the State into contempt” and for “circulating false and tendentious news”…According to SJS, which advocates for media freedom in Somalia, Bulbul was not allowed access to family and counsel and was also physically abused. The group added that Bulbul had been taken to the hospital for the physical abuse he suffered in detention. Bulbul told VOA he was held in the same cell with hardcore criminals…Journalists in Somalia continue to operate in a difficult environment. Besides risks from armed groups, the state’s use of draconian laws has been cited as a major impediment to press freedom. VOA

Tanzanian Musicians Draw Government’s Ire for Critical Songs
[VIDEO] In Tanzania, musicians face restrictions, even confinement, for exercising their right to free speech. Rapper Emmanuel Elibariki was jailed in 2017 over his music and earlier this year, his song “‘Amkeni” was banned for “incitement.” The rap track challenges the government and the president. DW

Designer Avido Puts Kenyan Slum on the Fashion Map
His creations are made in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Kenya, but have attracted the attention of global stars such as Beyonce and Bruno Mars and featured in Vogue magazine. For Avido, his designs have a dual purpose: both to show to the world what can come from the impoverished Nairobi neighbourhood where he was born and raised, and to make it a better place. Last year, the 27-year-old designer launched Kibera Fashion Week and the second edition was staged on Saturday in the heart of the sprawling slum…With his “Lookslike Avido” label, he developed a colourful, gender-neutral style, mixing a variety of patterns and textures, notably ankara, the vibrant African wax fabric, and the velvet found on his kimonos and bomber jackets. His inspiration comes not from the catwalks of New York, Paris or Milan, but from the streets of Kibera…His style has caught the eye of Bruno Mars, rapper Ty Dolla Sign, reggae singer Chronixx, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and Beyonce, who commissioned him and other African designers for her “Black is King” project…But Avido keeps both feet firmly in Kibera, where all his clothes are made. When Vogue Italia contacted him for an interview and photoshoot, he insisted that the models they used were young women from Kibera and that they were paid…Despite his global renown, he has no intention of leaving his native slum. Africanews and agencies