Africa news roundup 16-22 April

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A flag map of Africa (image:courtesy of open clipart-vectors from Pixabay)


Investigations into Ghana Senior High School fiasco

Recently, a video which showed students sleeping in toilet cubicles at the Ghana Senior High School (GHANASCO) in Tamale went viral, causing outrage on social media and raising concerns over the safety and well-being of the students. Since then, the Ghana Education Service (GES) has directed the headmaster and the senior housemaster of the school to step aside to allow investigations into the matter. This prompted a visit from the deputy director-general of the GES in charge of Management Services, Stephen Kwaku Owusu, to visit the GHANASCO to assess the accommodation situation, as well as to get firsthand information on the report of a toilet cubicle being used as a dormitory. The delegation interviewed staff and students of the school and also assessed the dormitory facilities including the toilet facility which had been used to house some students.

The visit revealed that there were a number of dormitories in the school which were not in use, as the school currently runs a transitional track system. Some of the dormitories are not full to capacity and others are yet to be used. In an official statement, the GES expressed shock and said it was unacceptable for students to sleep at such a place. It said the school had excess capacity to even house an extra 300 students, with only 1,467 out of the 1,790 vacancies, declared by the school, being filled. It further directed the northern regional director of education to investigate the matter further.


I am not perturbed – Peter Obi

The presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 25 February election, Peter Obi, said that he was not afraid of what he called lies and propaganda against him, describing them as part of the journey to a new Nigeria. “I have always lived my life in the most law-abiding manner possible. Sometimes, as humans, we make mistakes, but I will never knowingly break any law. I am, therefore, not afraid of the lies and propaganda against my person, which are part of the journey to a New Nigeria”, Obi said at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the LP in Asaba, Delta State on Tuesday. He noted that there may be more mud slinging from those who are against the emergence of the New Nigeria, adding that he would never be deterred by the obstacles along the way to victory.

Obi urged Nigerians to remain calm and steadfast in their journey of reclaiming their mandate of a “New Nigeria”, assuring them that he would never give up on the journey until victory is achieved. Obi explained that he didn’t expect the journey to the New Nigeria to be an easy one, adding that the forces which had, over the years, lived off the old order, were bound to fight back, as is being experienced currently. He said, “if they come at us through land, air and sea, we will respond to them through land, air and sea, but we will remain law abiding and will never give up on the nation. We are on the right path, and we will remain committed to the course. The millions of Nigerians who voted for me did not just cast their votes, but they invested their hope in me. They deserve justice, so we must stay the course. And beyond regaining our mandate, I am committed to lifting people out of poverty. I remain committed to transforming Nigeria, starting from the north to every part of the nation”.

South Africa

Police evict refugees

South African police have evicted more than 100 asylum seekers who have been camping outside the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) offices in Pretoria for over three years. The asylum seekers began living in makeshift tents pitched outside the UNHCR offices as they asked to be relocated to other countries after a spate of xenophobic violence in 2019. Pretoria municipality last week secured a high court order to remove them, and police did so on Friday. The court documents state that the refugees would be evicted and taken to the Lindela Repatriation Centre, a temporary holding centre for undocumented migrants who are earmarked for deportation to their countries of origin.

Scores of police officers, led by the sheriff’s department, carried out the eviction with the aid of immigration and other officers. Using a megaphone, State Attorney Kobus Meijer warned the people living in the encampment that they would be arrested and detained if they resisted removal. Laura Padoan, UNHCR spokeswoman, told the AFP news agency that “they are asking that we transport them to a refugee camp in another country, but this is outside of our mandate”.


William Ruto To host mediation talks

President William Ruto, on Friday, offered to host a process of mediation between warring sides in Sudan to help restore peace in the country. “We make this offer in the spirit of brotherhood, peace and solidarity as an acceptable neutral venue and also as an engaged stakeholder well-seized with the challenges facing our region,” Ruto said. He added that a peacefully negotiated solution to the conflict in Sudan is within reach and that Kenya stands ready to make its contribution. He also expressed appreciation of the gesture by the parties to the Political Framework Agreement to cease hostilities in response to the call by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) heads of states and government summit on 16 April, and subsequently the African Union’s emergency ministerial meeting on the situation in Sudan held in Addis Ababa on 20 April. “We regard the cessation of hostilities as a welcome signal of goodwill, commitment to arrest the descent into conflict, insecurity, instability and humanitarian crisis, and to pursue the peaceful resolution of the outstanding items in the framework agreement,” Ruto said.

President Ruto invited the parties to take full advantage of the opportunity for Kenya to mediate the peace process and urged IGAD, AU, and the UN to mobilize an effective international coalition to support a comprehensive peacemaking agenda for Sudan. At least 413 people have died and more than 3,500 injured since the fighting erupted last Saturday between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum and its surroundings. The RSF accused the army of attacking its forces south of Khartoum with light and heavy weapons while the military claimed that the paramilitary force was “spreading lies” and labeled it a “rebel” group. Sudan has been without a functioning government since October 2021, when the military dismissed Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s transitional government and declared a state of emergency in what political forces called a “coup”.


UNFPA applauds health workers

Ms Bidisha Pillai, UNFPA country representative, has commended the Liberian Board for Nursing and Midwifery (LNBM) for its tremendous efforts to ensure international standards for midwifery education in Liberia. Pillai made the statement on Thursday, during the opening of a two-day meeting of the LBNM, intended to rewrite and validate a comprehensive, competency-based curriculum that meets international standards for training nurses and midwives in the country and aligned with the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Curriculum of Nursing, and the International Curriculum of Midwives, among others.

Pillai said Liberia can now boast of key efforts made in midwifery education; from a certificate midwifery programme to a diploma programme, and now a bachelor’s in midwifery was a major milestone in securing a career pathway for midwives. Madam Cecelia C. Kpangbala Flomo, LBNM registrar, giving the overview on the revision of the Registered Nursing Midwifery (RNM) Curriculum in Monrovia, said the RNM, which started on Thursday, April 20, is being supported by the government through the Ministry of Health and other international partners, including the UNFPA, Last Mile Health, Partners in Health, etc. LBNM Registrar said as part of her entity’s legal responsibility, they are entitled to develop and harmonize what they called the training curriculum for nursing and midwifery training institutions for Liberians.

Sierra Leone

New ambassadors welcomed

His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has received letters of credence from five accredited diplomats to the Republic of Sierra Leone during a formal presentation ceremony at the presidency. Among them are the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Apostolic Nuncio of His Holiness the Pope, the High Commissioner of Canada, the High Commissioner of Australia, and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark. President Bio congratulated the new heads of missions in Sierra Leone on their appointments and formally welcomed them on behalf of his government and the country’s people. He assured them of peace and stability and talked about the transformation his government had embarked on in the past five years.

He also encouraged the diplomats to strengthen the existing healthy relationships between their countries and Sierra Leone, stressing that his government was looking forward to stronger bilateral relations that would benefit their governments and people. Bio later proposed a toast to the health and beautiful relationship between the Republic of Sierra Leone and the five countries. The new heads of mission responded to the toast and assured of their continued support for Sierra Leone’s government’s human capital development policy, capacity building, tourism, cultural exchange, and strengthening mutually beneficial relations. They expressed appreciation for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded them by the President, noting that they felt honoured to present their letters of credence and hoped to be able to represent their countries well in Sierra Leone.


Finance minister holds talks to support key sectors

Sani Yaya, the Togolese minister of finance, met with some members of the World Bank Group involved in cooperation with Togo. Yaya met with Sergio Pimenta, vice president of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the WB’s private sector arm. The two men talked about bolstering the Bank’s investments in Togo, with a focus on the IFC’s strategy in the West African country.

The talks covered key sectors like agriculture, energy, industrialization, financial services, digital economy, and implementing public-private partnerships in Togo. The IFC’s actions in Togo are aimed at boosting economic growth and employment, particularly by supporting SMEs. Since 2014, when the institution opened offices in the country, its portfolio has grown from $10 million to $300 million. This year, the Corporation extended a $77 million facility to the Bank of Africa Group, to support SMEs in ten African countries including Togo. It also entered a partnership with the Association of Large Enterprises of Togo.

Burkina Faso

42 killed in two new attacks

Ten soldiers and 32 civilian auxiliaries of Burkina Faso’s army were killed on Saturday and Sunday in two attacks in the north of the country, which this week declared a ‘general mobilisation’ against recurring Jihadist violence. On Saturday, a military detachment and Volunteers for the Defence of the Fatherland (VDP, civilian auxiliaries to the army) was the target of an attack by unidentified armed men at around 4:00 pm, near Aorema, some 15km from Ouahigouya, according to a statement from the governor of the northern region, published on Sunday. The army said that “the death toll is forty fighters” (“eight soldiers and thirty-two VDP”) and added that “at least 50 terrorists” had been “neutralised” in a “response”, notably from the air. On Sunday, “early in the morning, another attack targeted the military detachment of Kongoussi (Bam province, Centre-North region)”, the same source said, reporting that “two soldiers” were killed and “some twenty terrorists neutralised”.

The governor of the North region said in its statement that “33 wounded” from the first attack were “in a stable condition” and “being treated at the regional university hospital of Ouahigouya”, capital of the North region. The army writes that “two wounded” from the second attack have also been “evacuated for treatment”. According to a security source contacted by AFP, the detachment targeted by Saturday’s attack was “providing security for the Ouahigouya airfield which was targeted”.

Ivory Coast

Date set for regional and municipal elections

Regional and municipal elections in Côte d’Ivoire, a warm-up for the government and the opposition for the 2025 presidential election, will be held on 2 September, government spokesman Amadou Coulibaly announced on Wednesday. The date was set by decree in a proposal from the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), he said. Eleven members of the government will be candidates for the regional elections, according to a list published by the Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), the ruling party.

Prime Minister Patrick Achi will be a candidate for his own succession to the presidency of the Mé regional council (south-east), the region from which he originates. Other candidate ministers include Téné Birahima Ouattara (Defence), Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani (Agriculture), Anne Ouloto (Public Service), Bruno Koné (Construction), Mamadou Touré (Youth), and Pierre Dimba (Health). The President of the Senate, Jeannot Ahoussou Kouadio, and the former opponent Mabri Toikeusse, back in the ranks of the RHDP, are also presenting themselves. The regional elections must make it possible to renew the 31 regional councils of Côte d’Ivoire. Five years ago, the RHDP won 18 against 6 for the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI), the main opposition party. These elections will make it possible to take stock of the political forces in Côte d’Ivoire before the 2025 presidential election. This will be the first ballot for the African Peoples’ Party – Côte d’Ivoire (PPA-CI), created by former President Laurent Gbagbo shortly after his return to Abidjan in June 2021.


Opposition against 3rd term for Macky Sall

Ten months ahead of presidential elections, the coalition formed by the opposition in a declaration called on Sall to respect the constitution and refrain from running for an “illegal and illegitimate” third term. The president, who has been in power since 2012, has not clarified his intentions but rejects claims it would be unconstitutional for him to run again. Mamadou Mbodj, F24 Movement of Vital Forces’ coordinator, is mobilising members in May, “F24 intends to stand up to the regime in place to fiercely oppose this attempt to confiscate the law. As a first action, F24 invites the Senegalese to mobilise on 12 May 2023 for a large mobilisation against the unconstitutional third candidacy of Mr Macky Sall”. His main political opponent, Ousmane Sonko, was among several opposition leaders to attend the launch of the coalition.

More than 120 parties signed the charter of the F24 Movement of Vital Forces on Sunday, according to its instigators. It also calls for the release of “political detainees” arrested during demonstrations over a defamation case against Sonko brought by Tourism Minister Mame Mbaye Niang, a member of Sall’s party. Tensions have been running high through the country for weeks, with protests bringing the capital Dakar to a virtual standstill. Sonko was handed a two-month suspended sentence in the court case at the end of March after a trial his lawyers said would not rule him out of the 2024 presidential election. An appeal was lodged against the ruling and Sonko is due to be judged on appeal on Monday. Sonko’s fate is also wrapped up in another case in which he is accused of rape, which he contests. He and his supporters accuse the government of using the justice system to try to prevent him from running in next year’s ballot. The presidential party accuses Sonko of seeking to paralyse the country and of drumming up anger on the streets in a bid to escape justice.


Five dead as cholera hits capital

Five people in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde have died from cholera over the last month, according to the health ministry which warned of a “resurgence” of the disease. The ministry said the five had died since the disease reached the capital last month, and at least 88 cases have been identified since mid-March in the central region of the country, which includes Yaounde. Health Minister Manaouda Malachie said in a statement dated Wednesday that there was a “resurgence” of an epidemic first declared in October 2021. He added the country’s monitoring system had been put on alert.

Cholera – an acute diarrhoeal illness which can be fatal in hours if left untreated – reappears periodically in Cameroon which has a total population of some 25 million. The previous update in October tallied 272 deaths and 12,952 cases over 12 months across the country. But the latest areas hit include four districts of Yaounde, which is home to some 2.8 million, as well as the nearby towns of Mfou and Obala. The number of new cholera cases in Africa, having risen sharply in early 2023, fell by 37 per cent in late February, the World Health Organization said last month. But the UN body voiced fears that flooding in southern Africa posed a high risk of spread, reporting cases in 12 countries, notably Mozambique and Malawi, which are enduring record outbreaks.


Benin talks military cooperation

President Paul Kagame met Saturday with his Benin counterpart Patrice Talon, promising military support to help the country contain spillover from the Jihadist conflict across its northern border with Burkina Faso. West Africa coastal nations Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast are preparing for a potential spillover as Burkina Faso struggles to contain an Islamist militant insurgency gaining ground just across their northern borders. Last year, Benin said it was in talks over military and logistical cooperation with Rwanda. At that time, Kagame had already dispatched troops to help Mozambique and Central African Republic combat unrest. “We are ready to work with Benin to prevent anything that may happen around its borders” Kagame said at a press conference with Talon in Cotonou. “There will be no limit” in what “will be accomplished together for security challenges”.

Details about the cooperation were not immediately clear, though the Benin leader said it could include “supervision, coaching, training, joint deployment”. Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast have already suffered attacks in border areas blamed on jihadists, while Ghana recently reinforced military presence along its own northern frontier. Talon and Kagame had a one-on-one meeting to discuss relations between the two countries and “the search for strategic partnership” in several areas including security, Benin’s foreign ministry said in a statement. They discussed “the terrorist threat and its spread” as well as the means of strengthening cooperation to deal with it, the statement said. “The Rwandan army has experience and is seasoned,” Talon said. Benin’s military is battling an expanding threat from Jihadist conflicts across its northern border in Burkina Faso and Niger, with around 20 incursions since 2021. A top Benin government official had said last year that any agreement would not provide for deployment of Rwandan troops on the ground in Benin. Benin’s Armed Forces Chief of Army Staff Brigadier General Fructueux Gbaguidi visited Rwanda last year for talks to deepen the existing relations between the two armies.

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