Africa Media Review for October 25, 2023

Term Limit Evasions and Coups in Africa: Two Sides of the Same Coin
Extraconstitutional extensions of power have shaped the contours of Africa’s governance landscape in recent years. Leaders of 14 African countries have held onto power for more than two terms after evading term limits. This continues a pattern of term limit evasion observed since 2015, reversing an evolving trend of term limit adherence between 2000–2015…Term limit evasions are also directly linked to the surge of coups observed in Africa. Five of the eight countries that have suffered coups since 2015 had leaders who evaded term limits—Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. The median time in office for those deposed leaders was 30 years…The evasion of term limits is directly responsible for the prolonged tenures of certain leaders. Ten African leaders have been in power for 18 years or longer. All of these have evaded term limits or are in countries without them…[T]erm limit evasions are rarely an isolated event. Rather, they are typically part of a pattern of leaders undermining the rule of law and restricting civil and political liberties. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Liberian President Weah to Face Opponent Boakai for 2nd Time in Runoff Vote
Liberian President George Weah will face off against challenger Joseph Boakai for the second time in a Nov. 14 runoff vote, election officials in the West African nation said Tuesday. The results of the first round announced by Liberia’s National Elections Commission are the closest runoff since the end of the country’s back-to-back civil wars. Weah, a former international soccer star, failed to win an absolute majority and took 43.83% of the first round vote, the commission announced. Boakai led a crowded field of challengers with 43.44%. The two politicians last faced off in the 2017 vote, when Weah ultimately won 60% of the vote in the second round. It was the first democratic transfer of power in since the end of the country’s back-to-back civil wars between 1989 and 2003 that killed some 250,000 people. Weah won that election amid high hopes brought about by his promise to fight poverty and generate infrastructure development…But Weah has been accused of not living up to key campaign and ensure justice for victims of the country’s civil wars. Boakai, who served as vice president under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female leader, has campaigned on a promise to rescue Liberia from what he called Weah’s failed leadership. Africanews and AP

Sudan Peace Signatories Meeting Underway in Juba
A two-day consultative meeting of the Juba Peace Agreement signatories kicked off in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, on Tuesday…The purpose of this [meeting] is to discuss and explore avenues to bring an end to the persisting conflict in Sudan. The Juba Peace Agreement was signed in Juba under the auspices of [South Sudan] President Kiir on Oct. 3, 2020, between the Sudanese government and 14 signatories. Chad, the United Arab Emirates and IGAD are the guarantors, while Egypt and Qatar are witnesses to the peace deal. Speaking during the opening of the consultative meeting, Tut Gatluak Manime, the head of the mediation committee and South Sudan presidential advisor on national security affairs, said the consultative meeting aims to seek a way to resolve the ongoing war…For his part, the deputy chairperson of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and leader of the SPLM-A faction, Malik Agar, said the ongoing war affects the region, calling on the parties to find a solution through the negotiation table. “The war in Sudan is affecting the region and Horn of Africa, and ending this war depends on how we can address our internal issues by turning to the table to discuss ways to resolve them,” he said. Radio Tamazuj

Sudan, South Darfur: Activist Urges Dialogue after Salamat, Beni Halba Clashes Kill 13
A Sudanese activist calls on the native administration to intervene and stop the ongoing fighting between the Salamat and Beni Halba tribes in Sudan’s South Darfur State…Monday saw the death of at least 13 people in South Darfur due to renewed communal fighting between the Salamat and Beni Helba tribes, further worsening the security situation in the area. In August, similar communal conflicts between the Habaniya and Beni Halba tribes resulted in at least 100 casualties, scores of injuries, and displacements. The underlying problem stems from land ownership, commercial interests, and livestock disputes in Edd al-Fursan and Kabam localities. The Salamat and Beni Halba are both Arab tribes in the Darfur region. The conflict between these two groups has deep historical roots, with disputes over land and resources dating back many years. One of the primary drivers of the conflict is competition for resources, particularly land and water sources, which are essential for agriculture and livestock. Both tribes rely on these resources for their livelihoods, and competition has intensified as population growth and environmental changes put pressure on available resources. Radio Tamazuj

Sudan: RSF Kill Three Combattants of Peace Groups in South Darfur’s Capital
Three members of the joint force of the armed groups in Darfur, tasked with the protection of civilians, lost their lives in an assault by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on Tuesday. The incident took place to the northwest of Nyala…The movements that signed the peace agreement had previously declared their impartiality in the current dispute between the army and the RSF, aiming to prevent the conflict in Darfur from escalating into a full-scale war. Nevertheless, some smaller factions have chosen to join the warring parties. The joint force, composed of signatories to the Juba peace agreement, has encountered multiple attacks in the past months. However, Tuesday’s assault occurred concurrently with the an offensive the RSF launched against the army’s command and its positions within the city…In August, the signatories group played a pivotal role in mediating a ceasefire that halted the hostilities between the army and the RSF in Nyala. Unfortunately, the truce unravelled within a few days, and both sides resumed fighting, with increased intensity. Over the past two months, the armed movements have deployed a significant number of their troops to secure regions in the northern and western sectors of Nyala, including the El Geneina Mawqif market, the city’s sole operational market. Sudan Tribune

Niger Open to ECOWAS Support on Matters of Security, Minister Says
Sent to Lomé to represent Niger, General Mohamed Boubacar Toumba said the country was open to a renewed dialogue with its partners within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Toumba has been Niger’s Minister of the Interior and Decentralisation since the coup d’état of 26 July 2023 in Niamey, and participated in the Peace and Security Forum, held in Lomé, the capital of Togo, from 20 to 22 October, to discuss the future of the region, especially in terms of security…This forum began on Friday with a meeting of foreign ministers from ten countries including those from the Sahel countries, namely Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, and lasted until Sunday. It brought together more than 300 participants and ended with the Lomé declaration on political transitions resulting from coups d’état on the continent…Asked about Niger’s future relations with ECOWAS, the minister said Niger would be happy to reopen ties. RFI

Cameroon’s ‘Ghost Town’ Days: How Residents Cope in Lockdown
Mondays are “ghost town” days in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon that became engulfed in a separatist crisis some seven years ago. In many communities, everyone is expected to stay home. Markets are closed, offices locked, and the streets deserted. The separatists who took up arms against the government in Yaounde enforce the Monday lockdowns. Residents risk being attacked, kidnapped or shot if they disobey. The separatists hope to mount pressure on the central government to make concessions for the Anglophone community in the country by stopping all economic activity once a week. Cameroon has been plagued by fighting since English-speaking separatists launched a rebellion against the government in 2017. The dissidents say they want the region to secede from the area dominated by the French-speaking majority and aim to create an independent, English-speaking state. As a way out of the isolation and boredom of “ghost towns,” residents are finding new ways to network and support each other. There are social and sports clubs, credit and thrift schemes, choirs or salons to stay active….The English-speaking regions of Cameroon remain conflict zones, with lives lost, properties destroyed, and the humanitarian crisis worsening. DW

Mauritania: Prosecutor Seeks 20 Years for Former President Aziz
A Mauritanian prosecutor Tuesday requested (Oct. 24) a 20-year prison sentence for former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Aziz has been on trial since January 25 for allegedly abusing his power in order to amass wealth when he ruled the Sahelian nation from 2008 to 2019. Prosecutor Ahmed Ould Moustapha said “All elements in the hands of the courts proved that a crime has been committed”. He called for the former leader’s assets to be confiscated. Aziz, 66, was president of Mauritania, a pivotal country between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, from 2008 to 2019…Aziz has maintained his innocence and said the trial is political and should be dismissed. Earlier this month, his lawyers claimed that the court refused to process the requests of his defence and to call witnesses on Aziz’s behalf. Ten other people, including two former prime ministers as well as former ministers and business men, are on trial with Aziz. They have been accused of illicitly amassing wealth, abusing their functions and “influence peddling.” Africanews and AFP

North Korea Shuts Embassy in Long-Time Ally Uganda
North Korea is closing its embassy in Uganda, officials said, ending a half-century diplomatic presence in one of its longest-standing African allies. The move was announced after a meeting Monday between Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and North Korean Ambassador Jong Tong Hak.”Ambassador Jong informed the president that North Korea has taken a strategic measure to reduce the number of embassies in Africa, Uganda inclusive, in order to increase efficiency of the country’s external institutions,” said a Ugandan presidency statement…North Korea forged links with Uganda shortly after independence from Britain in 1962, and it supported Idi Amin when he seized power in 1971, providing his forces with training and weapons. It opened the embassy in Kampala a year later as the international community shunned Amin, whose brutal rule lasted until 1979. After Museveni took power in 1986, Kampala and Pyongyang signed cooperation agreements which saw North Korea provide the East African country with weapons and other military equipment as well as training for its security forces. But in May 2016, Uganda said it was halting military cooperation with Pyongyang after the UN imposed heavy sanctions over its nuclear programme. Museveni has made several visits to North Korea, where he met the late leader Kim Jong Il, father of current leader Kim Jong Un. AFP

‘We Are Already Dead Here’: Last Residents of Tunisian Ghost Town Set Sights on Europe
Diyar al Hajjaj’s population has halved in less than two years as its young people try again and again to cross sea…Tunisia is facing multiple, interlinking crises. The government has failed to secure an international bailout to help the tanking economy. Living standards have dropped owing to rising prices and low wages, and the youth unemployment rate, which began to fall from a peak of above 40% in 2021, is rising again. Meanwhile, the president, Kais Saied, has implemented a comprehensive crackdown on political opponents and refugees from sub-Saharan Africa since his sweeping power grab two years ago…Romdhane Ben Amor, who works for FTDES, a rights NGO, said Tunisia’s economic crisis was affecting the entire population, regardless of educational background or skills. “Increasing number of children, women, families, and graduates are seeking to migrate. Some of them may not be in dire economic circumstances, but due to political reasons and a lack of hope, many Tunisians no longer believe that the country will recover from this difficult period”…The cost of reaching Europe illegally is about 5,000-6,000 Tunisian dinars (£1,300-£1,600), paid in cash to the smugglers. But it is not an easy or safe journey. Aid groups believe hundreds – if not thousands – of Tunisians have died in the Mediterranean trying to reach Europe. The Guardian

Morocco Town Holds Protest to Demand Aid Weeks after Earthquake
Hundreds of residents of the Moroccan town of Amizmiz have protested against local authorities, weeks after a deadly earthquake destroyed their homes. Amizmiz, located 34 miles (55km) south of Marrakesh, was one of the hardest-hit by the 8 September earthquake. The earthquake was the worst to strike Morocco in more than 60 years, killing nearly 3,000 people and leaving thousands more injured and homeless. The residents accuse local authorities of delaying aid and neglecting them. Following the earthquake, authorities put up displaced families in tented camps, accompanied by a promise of financial assistance to help rebuild their homes. But the protesters now say they cannot continue living in the camps as conditions are deteriorating, with heavy rains and winds hitting the region and temperatures dropping as winter approaches. The protesters also accuse local authorities of withholding assistance, including tents, from some of the residents who lost their homes….Morocco’s government faced criticism from some citizens in the aftermath of the earthquake after it turned down some offers of international aid, despite thousands desperately needing urgent assistance. BBC

IMF Warns Africa of Economic Vulnerabilities as China’s Economy Slows
The International Monetary Fund is cautioning African nations about the possibility of a regional economic downturn and the ripple effects that China’s slowing economy could bring. Africa and China have forged economic ties over the past 20 years, making the Asian giant the continent’s largest trading partner. Africa exports metals, minerals and fuel to China, while importing manufactured goods and machinery from that country.
The IMF says the partnership is threatened by China’s economic slowdown and aging population, trade tensions, geopolitics and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic…China’s economic recovery from the pandemic slowed in recent months due to a sluggish property market and weak consumer spending. China’s trade data showed that exports and imports continued to decline as demand for Chinese goods waned…The IMF is urging African governments to diversify their economies, increase regional trade integration and create a favorable business environment so that local and international corporations can thrive. VOA

Ghana Sends Its Vital Seeds to the Arctic Circle ‘Doomsday Vault’
Ghana has placed seeds in the Arctic Circle’s “doomsday vault” to safeguard the long-term survival of the country’s primary food crops. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located in an arctic mountain on the isolated Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, protects approximately 1.2 million seed samples, making it the world’s biggest collection of crop diversity in any one site. Ghana’s deposit was created by the Plant Research Institute of the West African country, CSIR-PGRRI, and comprises vital crops such as maize, rice, eggplant, and black-eyed peas. The Crop Trust, which operates the seed vault, claims to have seeds from practically every country on the planet. Ghana joins African countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, and Zambia in making a deposit…The Seed Vault has allowed genebanks from all over the world to store copies of their seed variety for 15 years. With the addition of this most recent donation, the Seed Vault now has “copies” of more than 1,2 million seed samples that are safely stored in genebanks spread across 74 nations. This variety is necessary to enable agrifood systems to respond to other environmental concerns, such as a fast-changing climate. Business Insider Africa