Africa news roundup

Abstract Africa
Semi-abstract African art by Garfield Morgan the Artist (photo: courtesy of Christopher Charles)

March 24-30, 2024


Former Deputy AG accuses AG of unethical legal behaviour

 Former Deputy Attorney-General Dr Dominic Ayine has accused the current Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Godfred Dame Yeboah of unethical legal behaviour. The accusation follows the revelation by the Yeboah that he got the Supreme Court to expedite the hearing on an injunction application against the approval of ministers which has since been dismissed by the apex court. In an interview on 27 March, the MP for Bolga East explained that the Yeboah took an unethical approach to the case, subverting the rules of procedure in order to secure an advantage.  On a separate occasion, the Director of Legal Affairs of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe also criticised the Yeboah’s action as irregular. Tamakloe explained that, according to the rules of procedure, a formal application must be filed and the opposing party must be served with notice before any hearing can take place.

When asked if he would use the same procedure to get an expedited hearing for the ministerial nominee’s case to get an expedited hearing for the case filed against the anti-LGBTQ bill passed, Yeboah stated, “There are many parties to the action. Of course, I expect the Supreme Court to deal with the answer as quickly as possible. Stop this unnecessary play to the gallery. There is an Easter vacation. It is in the rules of the court. Did I inform the public of the letter I was writing before I wrote it? I never did it and I do not reveal my strategies to the media and I’m saying we are actually constrained by the Easter vacation. If I write it’s up to the Chief Justice to exercise administrative discussion and that request may be ignored”.


National grid collapses

On Thursday, Nigeria suffered another national grid collapse, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) confirmed to its customers through its social media handles. The AEDC said the national grid collapsed at about 4:28 p.m., plunging the country into darkness. “Dear valued customers, please be informed that the current power outage is due to a system failure from the national grid. The system collapsed at about 16:28 hours today 28 March 2024, causing the outage currently being experienced across our franchise area”.

“We appeal for your understanding as all stakeholders are working hard to restore normal supply”, the Abuja DisCo said.

In addition, the Eko Electricity Distribution Company said, “Dear valued customer, kindly be informed there was a system collapse at 16:28hrs which has resulted in a loss of power supply across our network. We are currently working with our partners as we hope for speedy restoration of the grid. We will keep you updated as soon as the power supply is restored. Kindly bear with us.”

Nigeria witnessed a system collapse of its national grid on 4 February. Power generation figures obtained from TCN at the time showed that electricity on the system moved up to 115.4MW around 3:00 p.m. on 11 December 2023, before rising further to 240.9MW at about 4:00 p.m. Nigeria’s national power grid collapsed 46 times between 2017 and 2023, according to a report by the International Energy Agency.


Safari rally to be extended to five days

The government is planning to extend the World Rally Championship (WRC) Safari Rally from a three-day sporting event to five days. President William Ruto directed the Ministry of Sports to work with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) and the WRC to make this a reality. “I think it is time to consider the request by drivers to return the rally to the five days it used to be”, said Ruto. He made the remarks on Thursday at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi during the flagging off of the 2024 WRC Safari Rally. Ruto said the government is keen on using the opportunities provided by the WRC Safari Rally to drive economic growth. He said the extensive worldwide media coverage of the rally would enhance Kenya’s global image and reputation.

President Ruto noted that the rally would not only attract tourists to the country but also investors, injecting billions of shillings into the economy and expanding opportunities for many people, especially those at the bottom of the economic pyramid. “This will provide a major boost to our economy, increasing incomes for local businesses, and direct and indirect jobs, and attracting local and foreign tourism investment, catering, accommodation facilities and services”, he said. The rally is scheduled for the Easter holiday to encourage more Kenyans and visitors from around the world to participate in the event.

South Africa

Jacob Zuma barred from running in election

Former President Jacob Zuma has been barred from running in South Africa’s general election in May. The country’s electoral commission, or IEC, has not given a reason. However, his 2021 conviction, and jailing, for contempt of court would appear to disqualify him. His backing of the new uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party has been seen as a possible threat to the governing African National Congress (ANC) which has suspended Zuma. He served as president from 2009 until 2018, when he had to step down because of allegations of corruption. Zuma’s new party is named after the ANC’s former military wing, and he sees himself as the true heir to the governing party’s revolutionary roots.

The ANC had wanted South Africa’s electoral body to deregister MK, but this request was rejected on Tuesday. Zuma was the first name on the MK’s list of candidates, but the electoral commission received objections to his, potentially, becoming a member of the National Assembly. “In the case of former President Zuma, yes, we did receive an objection, which has been upheld,” said electoral commission head Mosotho Moepya on Thursday. “The party that has nominated him has been informed”, Moepya told journalists. Zuma has until 2 April to appeal against the decision. The former president received a 15-month prison sentence in 2021 for contempt of court and the constitution says anyone who has had a prison sentence of longer than 12 months is not eligible to run for election. The IEC said that the ruling did not prevent the MK party from taking part in the 29 May poll, News24 reports. For the first time since the start of the democratic era in 1994, the ANC’s vote share could fall below 50 per cent, according to several opinion polls. The MK party is seen as popular in Zuma’s home region of KwaZulu-Natal.


Court sentence former rebel leader to 30 years

On 27 March, a French court handed former Liberian rebel commander Kunti Kamara a 30-year prison sentence for violence against civilians and complicity in crimes against humanity. The crimes occurred  between 1993 and 1994 during the First Liberian Civil War in Lofa county, north-western Liberia. During the proceedings, the Court heard 22 witnesses, nine civil parties, and five experts, according to Civitas Maxima. The group coordinates a network of national and international lawyers and investigators who work for the interest of victims of international crimes.Kamara had been sentenced to life in prison during a first trial in Paris in 2022. His lawyers welcomed the shorter sentence but still argued their client was innocent.

The 49-year-old was arrested in France in 2018. He was a regional commander of the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), a rebel group that fought the National Patriotic Front of former President Charles Taylor. Some 250,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the West African nation during back-to-back conflicts from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. Liberia’s Parliament supported the creation of a war crimes court in early March. A truth and reconciliation committee had recommended the establishment of a special tribunal to try those accused of committing crimes, but no action was taken. Senators still have to vote on the bill in a country where some former warlords have held elective positions.

Sierra Leone

Accident claims football legend

Konta Line, a village in Sierra Leone turned into a scene of sorrow as former football star Lamin Bangura, aged 59, tragically lost his life in a road accident on Tuesday night. The incident unfolded as a bus carrying Ports Authority FC, the team Bangura coached, collided with a stationary truck. Bangura, a pivotal figure in Sierra Leonean football, was rushed to a hospital in Freetown but succumbed to his injuries in the early hours of Wednesday, leaving the football community in mourning. Idrissa Tarawally, secretary general of Ports Authority, expressed profound grief, describing Bangura’s untimely demise as a profound loss for Sierra Leone football. “Today is a dark day for Sierra Leone football,” Tarawally lamented. “This news is utterly devastating. We have lost a legend and an exceptional coach”. The accident also left six players injured, some critically, as they were being transported to Freetown for medical treatment. Consequently, the Premier League fixture against Kahunla Rangers was postponed, underscoring the somber mood engulfing the football fraternity.

Bangura, revered for his contributions on and off the field, played a pivotal role in Sierra Leone’s qualification for the 1994 and 1996 Africa Cup of Nations. He transitioned seamlessly into coaching, guiding AS Kaloum to league glory in Guinea and clinching consecutive Sierra Leone Premier League titles with Diamond Stars in 2012 and 2013. Sierra Leone national team coach Amidu Karim, who shared the pitch with Bangura during the 1990s, expressed profound sorrow at the loss of “a friend, brother, and mentor. He was a beacon of inspiration for us younger players. His legacy as a true legend will endure. This news has left me utterly distraught”, Karim reminisced.

Thomas Daddy Brima, president of the Sierra Leone FA, echoed sentiments of grief and admiration for Bangura’s immense contribution to Sierra Leonean football. “As a player and coach, Bangura dedicated his life to football in Sierra Leone, Brima remarked. “His legacy will be cherished forever, and he will be sorely missed.” In the wake of the tragedy, Brima called for urgent action to address road safety concerns, advocating for a temporary halt to the Sierra Leone Premier League until robust measures are implemented to ensure the safety of football teams during travel.


Opposition rejects constitutional reform

Opposition leaders in Togo are calling for protests to stop the country’s president from signing off on a new constitution that would scrap future presidential elections and could see Faure Gnassingbé extend his rule. The constitution, which was passed by the country’s lawmakers earlier this week but now awaits President Faure Gnassingbé’s final approval, grants Parliament the power to choose the president, doing away with direct elections. This makes it likely that Gnassingbé could be re-elected when his mandate expires in 2025. Some legal experts say the constitution actually restricts the power of future presidents as it introduces a one-term limit and hands over greater power to a figure similar to a prime minister, officially called the president of the council of minister. But opposition fears the role could become another avenue for Gnassingbé to extend his grip on power. Indeed, the president of the council of minister will either be “the leader of the party which secures the majority during the legislative elections.” Or the leader of the winning coalition of parties. The president of the council of ministers will rule for a six-year term with no term limit.

The new constitution also increases presidential terms from five to six years. The almost 20-years that Gnassingbé has served in office, after taking over from his father, would not count toward that tally. The Catholic Christian clergy has urged the president not to sign the bill into law. “Such an important subject which will profoundly change the political life of the country must give rise to broad consultation and a more inclusive national debate,” say the Conference of Togolese Catholic bishops said in a statement. They reckoned that the incumbent lawmakers, “should only manage urgent and current affairs”, insisting that it is not appropriate to modify the Constitution during the ongoing campaign period. They eventually called on Faure Gnassingbé to “engage in an inclusive political dialogue, following the results of the […] legislative and regional elections” scheduled for April 20. Even if the constitutional reform was passed by lawmakers on Monday (25March), it is unclear when the changes will come into force.

Cote d’ivoire

Country commended for supporting Resolution AI

The United States has commended Côte d’Ivoire for its support of the resolution on Artificial Intelligence (AI), by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). “Côte d’Ivoire’s support for this landmark resolution demonstrates its commitment to promoting safe, secure, and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems”, said the United States. This resolution paves the way for inclusive governance of AI, ensuring equitable access to its benefits while protecting fundamental rights and freedoms. The US commended Côte d’Ivoire for its proactive approach, which serves as a model for other nations aspiring to use AI for social progress. “Côte d’Ivoire is a leader in digital transformation, and its support for the resolution introduced by the United States highlights our shared commitment to harnessing the transformative power of AI for sustainable development,” said Jessica Davis Ba, US ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire.

For the American diplomat, Côte d’Ivoire and the USA are contributing to building a future in which AI contributes to the well-being of people, and to peace and prosperity. She noted that the United States remains committed to ensuring that emerging technologies, including AI, are safe, secure, and trustworthy, and will continue to work with Côte d’Ivoire and other partners in this important effort. The US-led Resolution on Artificial Intelligence was unanimously adopted by the UNGA. It will serve as the basis for multilateral AI efforts and for existing and future UN initiatives. The text highlights the consensus that AI systems can both respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and meet sustainable development aspirations, as these are fundamentally compatible goals. Governments must work with the private sector, civil society, international and regional organisations, academia, research institutes and the technical community, and all other stakeholders to build this approach. The United States says it is committed to working with governments and other partners to ensure that the design, development, deployment, and use of emerging technologies, including AI, are safe, secure, and trustworthy, and are used to solve the most pressing problems.

Burkina Faso

More soldiers killed in terrorist ambush

Twenty-three soldiers were killed in a “terrorist” ambush in western Niger during an offensive near the border with Burkina Faso and Mali, the Defence Ministry said. The soldiers were engaged in a security sweep in Tillaberi, in the three borders area, on Tuesday and Wednesday and were killed during a “complex ambush”, it said late Thursday, adding that “about 30 terrorists had been neutralised”. The army raids were “designed to reassure local people” who were being targeted by armed groups engaged in “murders, extortion and cattle rustling”, the ministry said. It said more than 100 “terrorists” had attacked an army unit between Teguey and Bankilare using “home-made bombs and suicide vehicles”. In addition to the 23 soldiers who died, a further 17 were wounded.

Elections intended to restore a democratic civilian government in Burkina Faso in July 2024 were deemed “not a priority” and indefinitely postponed by the military junta led by Captain Ibrahim Traoré in September 2023. The democratically elected government of President Roch Kaboré was overthrown in January 2022 by a junta led by Colonel Paul-Henri Damiba. In July 2022, the junta agreed to a 24-month transition timetable with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Then, in September of that year, the 35-year-old Traoré ousted Damiba and superseded the constitution with a charter giving himself unilateral powers. Despite agreeing to keep the previously negotiated transition timetable, Traoré’s refusal to proceed with the July 2024 transition suggests his intention to retain his hold on power indefinitely.


Bassirou Diomaye Faye wins presidential election 

In Senegal, the provisional official results of the highly anticipated presidential election held on Sunday, March 24 have been unveiled, revealing Bassirou Diomaye Faye as the victor with an impressive 54.28 per cent of the votes. This announcement was made by the National Vote Counting Commission on Wednesday, 27 March, marking a significant moment in the country’s political landscape. Following closely behind Faye is Amadou Ba, who secured 35.79 per cent of the votes, positioning him in second place. Trailing further behind are Aliou Mamadou Dia with 2.8 per cent, Khalifa Sall with 1.56 per cent, and Idrissa Seck with 0.9 per cent. The voter turnout for this election reached 61.3 per cent, indicating a strong civic engagement among the Senegalese population. At 44 years old, Faye is set to become Senegal’s youngest president, a remarkable achievement considering he has never held a national elective office before. His victory has been acknowledged by his opponents, signifying a moment of unity and acceptance within the country’s political sphere.

Faye’s journey to the presidency was not without its challenges. Prior to the election, he endured eleven months of incarceration alongside Ousmane Sonko, before being released on 14 March under an amnesty law initiated by President Macky Sall. Despite this setback, Faye wasted no time and embarked on an express election campaign across the nation, culminating in a closing rally in Mbour, his hometown region. The outcome of the election was met with jubilation by Faye’s supporters, who gathered in large numbers to celebrate his victory. Additionally, he received congratulatory messages from his opponents, President Sall, and numerous other countries, highlighting the significance of his win on the international stage. While the provisional official results have been announced by the National Vote Counting Commission, the final confirmation and proclamation of the results lie with the Constitutional Council.


Government issues warning to new political groups

The Cameroonian Government has described two political groups seeking to create opposition coalitions as illegal. A statement from the Territorial Administration Minister Paul Atanga Nji said on Tuesday that under the law the Political Alliance for Change (APC) and the Alliance for Political Transition in Cameroon (APT) were not political parties. The statement also expressed concern over “pseudo-associations ahead of the 2025 presidential election”. The minister recalled that only legally recognized political parties have the right to exercise political activities at the national level and ordered the ban on any demonstration associated with these associations.

Olivier Bile, spokesperson for the APT, took note of the decision while noting confusion and exaggerations in the minister’s comments while the APC dismissed the statement calling it a “curious threat which indicates panic”. The alliance said it was “ready to face the elections victoriously” next year.

Led by former deputy Jean Michel Nintcheu, the APC was set up in December at a congress of the leading opposition Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC) which backed Maurice Kamto for president in the 2018 ballot.  Kamto came second and called Biya’s re-election a fraud. He was jailed without trial the following year, after staging peaceful protests. The movement boycotted legislative elections in 2018 and over the next two years saw 700 of its supporters imprisoned, including Kamto. International NGOs accuse the regime of President Paul Biya, who has ruled with for more than 41 years, of systematically suppressing opposition.


Kagame and Tshisekedi to meet

President Paul Kagame has confirmed his readiness to engage in talks with President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to tackle the ongoing crisis in eastern Congo. This announcement follows mediation efforts led by the Angolan Government, with President João Lourenço serving as the African Union’s mediator in the DR Congo crisis. The agreement was reached after a meeting held in Luanda, Angola’s capital, between President Kagame and President Lourenço. Angola’s Foreign Minister Tete Antonio informed the press that Kagame had agreed to meet Tshisekedi at a time to be determined by the mediator. Minister Antonio further revealed that both Rwanda and the DR Congo had consented to the meeting, with ministerial delegations from both countries actively working towards facilitating the dialogue.

Rwanda’s presidency released a statement, indicating that both leaders had “agreed on key steps towards addressing the root causes of the conflict,” signaling a potential breakthrough in resolving the crisis. This development comes in the wake of escalating tensions in eastern DR Congo, where clashes between M23 rebels and Congolese forces have resulted in the displacement of over 100,000 people, according to reports from the United Nations. However, prior to this agreement, Tshisekedi had demanded the withdrawal of Rwandan troops from Congolese territory as a precondition for the meeting, a condition that Rwanda vehemently denies. President Kagame’s willingness to engage in dialogue underscores the importance of regional cooperation in addressing the complex challenges facing the Great Lakes region.  Accusations of Rwandan support for M23 rebels have further complicated the situation, with Kigali vehemently denying any involvement in the conflict. The upcoming meeting presents an opportunity for both countries to address these allegations and explore avenues for constructive collaboration in resolving the crisis.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *