Africa Media Review for September 7, 2023

G20 Agrees to Membership for African Union on Par with EU
The G20 grouping of nations has agreed to grant permanent membership to the African Union, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. The move would give the African Union, a continental body of 55 member states, the same status as the EU, up from its current designation of “invited international organization”, it added. However, two Indian sources told Reuters that membership for AU would only be formalised next year when Brazil takes over the helm of the group of the world’s biggest economies from India. … In an article published across Indian and international newspapers on Thursday, Modi wrote, “Our presidency has not only seen the largest-ever participation from African countries but has also pushed for the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20.” Reuters

Africa Calls for a Global Tax on Carbon Emissions
The first African Climate Summit ended on Wednesday, September 6, in Nairobi, with a joint declaration by the heads of state setting out the continent’s expectations of the major polluting countries, and its aspirations to become a major player in decarbonizing the global economy. It defines the common position to be defended by the continent’s representatives in a busy international agenda – G20 this weekend in India, the UN General Assembly at the end of September, the annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Marrakesh in October and a new round of climate negotiations in the United Arab Emirates in November (COP28). The eight-page text was the subject of intense discussion to achieve a balance satisfying all 54 states. It was a successful gamble for Kenyan President William Ruto, who led this meeting, described as “historic” by its participants, and established himself as the continent’s voice. If Senegalese leader Macky Sall’s suggestion is accepted, he could even be the only head of state to speak on behalf of the whole of Africa at COP28. Le Monde

Nigerian Court Rejects Challenges to Contested Presidential Election
A judicial tribunal in Nigeria confirmed on Wednesday the results of a contested February presidential election that kept Africa’s most populous country on edge amid allegations of voting irregularities and tainted the first months in power for the declared winner, President Bola Tinubu. In their petitions, opponents of Mr. Tinubu argued that he should have been disqualified from running in the first place because of irregularities with his candidacy, and that Nigeria’s electoral commission had failed to release the results on time, opening the way for potential fraud. But judges in Abuja, the capital, rejected all three petitions for lack of credible evidence, they said. The plaintiffs have 60 days to file an appeal to Nigeria’s Supreme Court. … In March, Nigeria’s electoral commission declared Mr. Tinubu the winner of a single-round presidential election with 37 percent of the vote, ahead of the main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, who won 29 percent, and Peter Obi, who finished a surprising third with 25 percent of the vote. New York Times

Gabon Coup Leader Meets Regional Envoy, Opposition after Inauguration
On Tuesday, state televison announced that General Brice Oligui Nguema met the Central African Republic’s president, Faustin Archange Touadera, in the aftermath of the 30 August putsch. The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) appointed Touadera as “facilitator of the political process” in Gabon and tasked him with meeting “all Gabonese actors and partners of the country” with the goal of providing “a rapid return to constitutional order.” Gabon joins Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Niger among African countries that have undergone coups in the last three years – a trend that has sounded alarm bells across the continent and beyond. However, Tuesday’s broadcast gave no details of the discussions, which came a day after ECCAS member Equatorial Guinea announced that Gabon had been suspended from the 11-nation group. … Oligui, the head of the elite Republican Guard promised to hold “free, transparent and credible elections” to restore civilian rule when he was sworn in on Monday as interim president, but he did not give a timeline. RFI

UN Offers to Support Gabon for Transition Back to Civilian Rule
A U.N. representative told Gabon’s military leader the U.N. institutions stood ready to support the country as it transitions back to constitutional order following a coup that ended the Bongo family’s 56 years of dynastic autocracy. Army officers seized power on Aug. 30, annulling an election minutes after an announcement that President Ali Bongo had won, which they said was not credible. Bongo, in power since 2009, had succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years. … Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General in Central Africa, met Nguema in Libreville on Wednesday and told him that the U.N. would assist the country as it made a fresh start. “Once we know the roadmap, the timetable, once a government will have been appointed, our different agencies will make the necessary contacts and continue to support Gabon,” he said after the meeting, in remarks broadcast on Gabon 24 TV. Reuters

Where Is the Next African Coup?
Each of the recent African coups has had unique characteristics, but an increasingly common theme has been emboldened militaries realising that they are likely to face little effective resistance for their actions. “Would-be coup leaders look at this as a proof of concept,” said Kholood Khair, director of Confluence Advisory, a Sudanese think-tank. “These things happen and there’s very little pushback.” The removal of Gabon president Ali Bongo last week underscored this point. Coup leader General Brice Oligui Nguema has faced little domestic or international criticism since detaining Bongo, a distant cousin, and dissolving his government. Nguema was on Monday sworn in as interim president and the end of the Bongo family’s five-decade dynasty has been celebrated on the streets of the capital Libreville. The threat from Nigeria to use force to overturn the coup in neighbouring Niger that removed president Mohamed Bazoum was not followed with military action. As far back as 2017, Zimbabwe’s generals faced little or no censure for removing Robert Mugabe. FT

Inflection Point for Africa-Russia Relations after Prigozhin’s Death
The apparent assassination of Yevgeny Prigozhin from the crash of his private jet between Moscow and St. Petersburg represents an inflection point in Russia-Africa relations. Prigozhin, leader of the notorious Wagner Group, was the point man for Russia in Africa since Wagner first began operations on the continent in 2017. … Prigozhin advanced Russian influence by propping up politically isolated and unpopular authoritarian leaders who were then beholden to Russian interests. This support took a variety of irregular channels including the deployment of paramilitary forces, targeted disinformation campaigns, election interference, intimidation of political opponents, and arms for resources deals. Prigozhin referred to this interlocking set of influence operations as “The Orchestra,” which he conducted. ….Wagner has been attempting to influence domestic political outcomes and information narratives in some two dozen African countries. The breadth of Russian political interference in Africa points to Russia’s strategic aims for the continent—to secure an enduring foothold in North Africa and the Red Sea, to undermine Western influence, to normalize authoritarianism, and to displace the UN-based international system. None of these objectives are about making Africa more prosperous or stable. Rather, Africa is primarily a theater to advance Russia’s geostrategic interests. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

‘They Blew Our Lives Up’: South Sudanese Flee War in Sudan
Nyamut Gai lost everything four years ago when armed militias stormed through her village in South Sudan, a landlocked African country tormented by civil war, famine and flooding. Desperate, she and her family fled almost 600 miles north across the border to Sudan, where she worked as a cleaner in the capital, Khartoum, and began to settle in. But then, a fierce war broke out in Sudan in mid-April between rival factions of the military, sending her packing yet again. As she and her family made the weekslong journey by foot and bus from Khartoum, her 1-month-old son began coughing and withering away from hunger, and soon died. When she finally crossed the border into South Sudan, any sense of relief she felt was shattered when her 3-year-old son succumbed to measles. “We are not safe anywhere,” Ms. Gai, 28, said on a recent morning at a muddy and congested aid center in Renk, a town in South Sudan. New York Times

US Sanctions RSF’s Deputy Head, Commander for Atrocities in Sudan
The US government on Wednesday imposed sanctions on top leaders of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), one of the warring parties in Sudan, for atrocities against civilians. The State Department said Abdelrahim Hamdan Daglo and Abdul Rahman Juma had been fingered for overseeing violations including assassinations and kidnappings in Sudan’s five-month war that has seen nearly 2 million people displaced and over 2000 people killed. Abdelrahman is the deputy leader of the RSF and is the brother of the rebels’ leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. Juma, on the other hand, is the RSF General and West Darfur Sector Commander. The US Treasury sanction him for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights. … This is the second time the US is imposing sanctions on leaders of Sudan’s war. In June, Washington sanctioned companies and individuals seen as fueling the war in Sudan by helping protagonists access arms and money through smuggling and other underhand businesses. Some of the firms were registered in the United Arab Emirates. EastAfrican

Russian Ship Violated South African Laws as It Docked at Naval Base, Inquiry Finds
A Russian cargo ship, evading U.S. sanctions and possible foreign surveillance, violated South African laws as it sailed quietly into a naval base last December with a secret cargo, President Cyril Ramaphosa says. Mr. Ramaphosa, releasing a brief summary of an official inquiry’s confidential report on Tuesday night, did not provide any details of the Russian violations. … But critics said the inquiry had failed to clear up some of the key questions about the controversial ship visit – and had sparked fresh questions with its findings. The inquiry lacked subpoena power and could not compel witnesses to testify. Its full report will be kept secret for security reasons, and the government will not answer any further questions on the matter, Mr. Ramaphosa said on Tuesday night. … The inquiry confirmed that the Russian ship – in a highly unusual move – had switched off its transponder so that it could not be tracked. … “The vessel and those who assisted it contravened a number of provisions that relate to commercial vessels docking at South African ports,” it added. It also confirmed that the ship’s cargo was unloaded “under cover of darkness.” … A South African social-justice organization, Open Secrets, said it has requested a full copy of the inquiry’s report under access to information laws. Globe and Mail

Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina Announces Bid for Re-Election
Madagascar’s president Andry Rajoelina on Wednesday announced he will run for re-election in November. Rajoelina made the announcement at a grand ceremony held in the biggest stadium on the large Indian Ocean island, which is due to hold the presidential vote on November 9. He first took power in 2009 on the back of a coup that ousted former president Marc Ravalomanana. After not contesting in the 2013 election due to international pressure, Rajoelina was voted back into power in 2018. … The head of state has in recent months been facing questions over his dual French nationality. The information was disclosed through media reports at the end of June. Naturalised in France in 2014, under local law the president would lose his Madagascan nationality. Without his Malagasy nationality, he can neither lead the country nor run for office. But this version of the facts is vigorously disputed by the ruling party. Africanews

Hunger and Hope: Africans Tell of Desperation and Innovation as Climate Summit Meets
African heads of state, ministers, leaders and campaigners are meeting this week in Nairobi for the first climate summit held on the continent. An estimated 30,000 delegates are in the Kenyan capital to debate and lobby governments to keep their commitments to support the people suffering the worst consequences of the climate crisis while contributing the least to its causes. Africa has been hard hit by climate-related extreme weather, fuelling a severe hunger crisis affecting millions. We speak to people about living on the frontline of the crisis in three African countries, and what can be done to mitigate some of the problems. … “We were advised by our local community project manager to use drip irrigation rather than fill trenches within the garden with water, which was in short supply. Drip irrigation means you only water the specific seedling with regulated amounts. A changing climate has forced us to change our farming methods,” says Mwiti. Guardian