Africa Media Review for October 23, 2023

17 Aid Trucks Enter Gaza from Egypt
For the second day in a row, trucks carrying aid have crossed from Egypt into war-torn Gaza, as Israel intensified strikes on the Palestinian enclave in the war sparked by Hamas’s bloody attack. Seventeen aid trucks entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt on Sunday, to provide assistance to the Palestinian territory, which has been bombarded and besieged by Israel since the beginning of the conflict with Hamas, as reported by an AFP correspondent. On Saturday, after the first convoy of 20 trucks passed through, the UN estimated that the cargo was only equivalent to 4% of Gaza’s daily imports before the start of the war. They also stated that at least 100 trucks per day would be needed for the 2.4 million Gazans, half of whom are children, who are deprived of essential supplies. Africanews with AFP

Liberia’s Election Set for Run-Off in Tightest Race since End of Civil War
Weah won 43.8 percent of the 10 October first-round vote, with Boakai at 43.4 percent, according to the National Elections Commission. None of the other 18 presidential candidates received more than three percent. The run-off must take place within 15 days of the election, but experts say there might be delay because of potential appeals. The election was the first to be fully organised by Liberia, without financial support from international partners, since the end of the country’s 14-year civil war in 2003. The run-off promises to be a close contest hotly contested between the long-standing adversaries, who faced each other in 2017…Liberians turned out en masse to vote in the election’s first round, with no major incidents. During the campaign, however, clashes between supporters of the ruling party and opposition supporters led to several deaths, notably in Lofa county, raising fears of post-election violence. International observers, present in large numbers for the polls, have congratulated the electoral commission on the smooth conduct of the first round. The vote in the nation of 5.5 million is seen by many as a test for the future of representative government in West Africa, as the region has been rife with coups, postponed elections, presidents clinging to office, and polls tainted by irregularities. RFI

Renewed Fighting Breaks Truce in Congo
Violent clashes in eastern DR Congo this weekend pitted M23 rebels against pro-government soldiers and armed groups, stirring up tension in the strategic Masisi region, sources from the area said Sunday. M23 rebels and militias loyal to the government have battled across the area recently, breaking a precarious truce that has lasted for months…”The rebels are in Kitshanga and we are trying to find a way to retake the town,” a security source told AFP, also on condition of anonymity…According to the security source, fighting was underway Sunday in the neighbouring territory of Rutshuru. Kitshanga, located at a crossroads in the Masisi region, about 80 kilometres (miles) northwest of the provincial capital Goma, has changed hands between powers several times since the beginning of the year, with fighting resuming three weeks ago after a precarious six-month truce. The Rwanda-backed, Tutsi-led M23 seized the town in January, continuing its conquest of vast swathes of territory. At the beginning of October, Kitshanga passed from the hands of an international force deployed by the East African Community, which patrolled a buffer zone between the armed groups, to the local militia and for 24 hours to the M23, before retreating. On October 14, the army, which claims to be observing a ceasefire ordered by a regional mediator, had organised a press trip to the town a week before the town fell back into rebel control. VOA

Sudanese Civil Forces Meetings to Commence in Addis Ababa
The meetings of the Civil Front to Halt the War and Restore Democracy in Sudan are set to kick off in Addis Ababa on Monday, which is a change from the initially scheduled start date of Saturday. On Saturday, the anti-war factions announced the delay of the preparatory sessions for the Civil Front, shifting the beginning of the meetings to Monday. This decision was made in response to a request from former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, granting him additional time to conclude consultations with the SPLM-N led by Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Nur (SLM-AW) for their inclusion in the front…Certain civil groups opposing the coalition are attempting to question the legitimacy of the front, asserting that it is merely a façade for the Forces for Freedom and Change. It is important to note that this comprehensive anti-war coalition includes both political, professional and civil society groups Nonetheless, some resistance committee groups reject any political process that leads to the participation of the Rapid Support Forces. Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Peace Talks to Resume in Jeddah
The Sudanese armed forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) will resume peace negotiations this week in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, a member of Sudan’s Sovereign Council has said. The move comes after a military delegation withdrew from talks in July that were sponsored by the US and Saudi Arabia. Addressing forces in Port Sudan, Lieut. Gen. Shams Aldin Alkabashi, who is also the deputy military commander, announced that the army had received an official invitation from the mediators and confirmed that the talks will resume Thursday. “The talks will begin with humanitarian issues, including the delivery of assistance to the war zones. The second phase will involve the discussion of a cease-fire and the final stage will concern the political track of trying to put an end to the war in the country,” he said. The negotiations, which stopped in June, are scheduled to discuss a permanent ceasefire throughout the country, paving the way for the start of a political process with the participation of political and civil forces. Saudi Arabia and the US are meditating on talks between the two warring parties in Sudan to end the war that has been ongoing since mid-April. Radio Tamazuj

Suicide Car Bomb Kills Somali Security Personnel
A suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at a security post outside Somalia’s capital Saturday, killing at least six security personnel and injuring seven others, a security official and residents told VOA Somali. Militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the early-morning attack, in which the bomber drove a car packed with explosives into a camp manned by Somali military police at Elasha Biyaha, about 20 kilometers west of Mogadishu. A security official who asked not to be identified because he is not allowed to speak to the media told VOA that the soldiers fired on the incoming car but said the windows were shielded with metal to deflect bullets, allowing it to hit the perimeter. The information about the car and casualties were confirmed to VOA by Mohamed Ibrahim Barre, the governor of the Lower Shabelle region, where Elasha Biyaha is located. The bombing targeted soldiers who were assigned to intercept al-Shabab car bombs, the official added. The Somali government deployed hundreds of newly trained personnel in and around Mogadishu earlier this year to beef up security and prevent retaliatory attacks as the national army, working with local militias, battles al-Shabab in central Somalia. VOA

Al-Shabaab Militants Defect from the Group amid Offensive in Somalia
Several Al-Shabaab militants in Southwest state defected on Friday, authorities reported, in one of the major shakeups in the group which comes amid reports of internal wrangles within the group, which controls sections of central and southern Somalia. There have been reports of conflict between Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Diriye alias Abu Ubaida and the group’s finance controller Mahad Karate, with their factions recently fighting in Middle Jubba. The two are wrestling for the control of the militants. “14 al-Shabaab terrorists surrender to security forces in Baidoa, Somalia. They claim to have defected from the militant group,” state media reported, noting that they were received by security teams from the Somali National Army [SNA] ahead of rehabilitation. The second phase of operations is set to begin soon within Jubaland and Southwest states, with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud asking for atechnical pause of withdrawal of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS]. Most soldiers will report to the states after the conclusion of the combing exercise in central Somalia. Garowe Online

Madagascar Opposition Denounce “Illegitimate Electoral Process”
A collective of opposition candidates taking part in the Madagascan presidential elections have held a major rally in the capital, Antananarivo, denouncing what they described as “an illegitimate electoral process. Some 50,000 people attended the gathering called for the by the “Collective of Eleven,” as they call themselves. They say the electoral process is being orchestrated to ensure the victory of outgoing President Andry Rajoelina, who is standing for re-election…Last month the Constitutional Court dismissed appeals to have Rajoelina’s candidacy declared void over his dual French nationality, sparking opposition anger…With less than a month before the polls, opposition candidates are taking part in almost daily unauthorised protest marches in the capital…Opposition MPs have also called for the resignation of the prime minister, Christian Ntsay, an ally of Rajoelina who has been put in charge of a disputed interim government ahead of the election period. The position should normally have been held by the president of the Senate who declined for “personal reasons.” Voters were initially due to head to the polls on 9 November, but the country’s top court last week ordered that the elections be postponed by one week to 16 November. Africanews with agencies

Senegal: Thousands Sign Petition to Resume Dakar-Ziguinchor Maritime Service amid Political Tensions
Thousands of people have signed an online petition demanding the resumption of the maritime service between Dakar and Ziguinchor, the main city in Casamance, southern Senegal. The service has been suspended for over four months due to political tensions related to opposition figure Ousmane Sonko…Passenger and freight transport, which was provided by three vessels, has been halted by Senegalese authorities without an official explanation since June. The suspension followed violent unrest in Ziguinchor and other cities in the country following the conviction of the political opposition leader Sonko in a moral-related case…A source within the [Ministry of Fisheries] stated that the suspension of the service was due to ‘security reasons.’ Since then, there has been a void at the Ziguinchor port. The entire local economy has come to a standstill, and transportation costs by road have tripled…After the June disturbances, Senegalese authorities temporarily suspended public bus services to the region. Air travel remains inaccessible for many people wishing to reach this area, which has seen an armed separatist rebellion since 1982 and is separated from the rest of the country by The Gambia. Opposition figure Sonko, who serves as the mayor of Ziguinchor, has been detained since late July on various charges, including incitement to rebellion. He announced on Tuesday that he would resume his hunger strike, which he had stopped in early September, in ‘solidarity’ with his ‘unjustly arrested’ supporters. Africanews and AFP

December By-Elections in Zimbabwe as the Main Opposition Disappears
Zimbabwe’s president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, proclaimed 9 December as the by-election date for constituencies where opposition legislators were recalled. Vacancies were created when a self-imposed secretary-general of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), Sengezo Tshabangu, wrote to the clerk of Parliament, announcing that he had recalled 14 legislators – drawn from Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, and Bulawayo. In a government gazette, Mnangagwa said the nomination court would sit on 7 November. The president went ahead despite the CCC disputing that Tshabangu was its secretary-general or even held a post in the party. CCC leader Nelson Chamisa said the move by Tshabangu was a Zanu-PF tactic to clandestinely have a two-thirds majority in Parliament. CCC deputy spokesperson Ostallos Siziba said the proclamation by the president was part of his grand plan to destroy the opposition…Because Tshabangu is recognised by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission as the man in charge of CCC, the recalled candidates, if they intend to stand for re-election, will have to find an alternative name for their party. Tshabangu added that more recalls would be done, setting the stage for by-elections again. News 24

South Africa: Pollard’s Late Penalty Gives Boks Last Gasp Semi-final Win Over England  
The Springboks are into their fourth Rugby World Cup final after beating England 16-15 in the semi-finals…For almost the entire 80 minutes it felt like it wasn’t going to be the Boks night…Had they lost – and they came close, it would have hurt for years because they hardly fired a shot. It was an error-strewn performance that lacked the same energy they’d displayed so stirringly against France a week earlier…England might have put the game away just after halftime when they had two lineouts five metres from the Bok line and lost both through a skew throw and then when the ball slipped out of hooker Jamie George’s hands. [Owen] Farrell hit an outrageous 54th-minute drop-goal from near the halfway line to stretch the lead moments after the Boks’ best attack after they pushed England off their own scrum ball. That put nine points between the sides, which in these conditions was more than daylight; it was a solar flare…The dream of back-to-back titles is still alive. Daily Maverick

Thousands Show Up for First African Football League Match in Tanzania
The new African Football League, bringing together eight of the continent’s top clubs, opened on Friday in the Tanzanian economic capital Dar es Salaam, in front of an enthusiastic crowd for a “historic match” between Simba Sports Club and Egyptian stars Al Ahly. The first leg of this two-legged tie ended in a 2-2 draw, after an intense encounter witnessed by Fifa President Gianni Infantino and tens of thousands of supporters of Simba Sports Club, East Africa’s leading club. The Benjamin-Mkapa stadium was sold out for the launch of this tournament, created by CAF with the aim of “improving the quality of soccer in Africa and promoting the financial growth” of participating clubs. Africanews