AFRICA NEWS ROUNDUP

30 January 2023

Human Rights

Swazi human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko was killed in front of his family on January 21, prompting an immediate outcry from human rights organizations and activists demanding accountability for his death. (Amnesty International) (Frontline Defenders) (Human Rights First) (HRW) (UN OHCHR). Maseko was an outspoken advocate for ending Eswatini’s monarchy, the last absolute monarchy in Africa. His funeral, attended by hundreds, was held yesterday. (New York Times) (VOA).

The day after Maseko’s apparent assassination, Cameroonian radio journalist Martinez Zogo was found dead following his abduction and disappearance. (CBS News) (The Guardian). Several human rights organizations have called for his release. (HRW) (Amnesty International) (Committee to Protect Journalists). The Africa Report underscored the tragedy of three human rights advocates being killed or found dead in the course of three consecutive days: John Williams Ntwali in Rwanda, Thulani Maseko in Eswatini, and Zogo Martinez in Cameroon. (The Africa Report). Also in Cameroon, Amnesty International called on authorities to release 23 persons who are still in detention over their participation in the 2020 protests. (Amnesty International).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

The State Department announced that it would not grant visas to Nigerians who undermine the country’s upcoming presidential elections. The policy affects “specific individuals” who are not publicly named in the statement. (State Dep’t.) (CNN) (Reuters) (Sahara Reporters) (The Guardian Nigeria). Also, this week, after a Federal High Court declared vacant the seat of a senator who was convicted of corruption, the Nigerian Supreme Court refused to grant a post-conviction application for bail by the senator. (Premium Times 1) (Premium Times 2) (This Day).

A Zimbabwean court has allowed the release on bail of 26 CCC members and activists who were charged for their participation in an “unlawful gathering.” (Al Jazeera) (BBC via The Star Kenya) (Reuters via US News). (Note: Past reports have stated the number of arrested activists as 25. This week’s reports state either 25 or 26.) Zimbabwe is expected to hold elections this year, and rights groups have warned of an escalation of the Mnangagwa government’s oppression of dissent. This week, Human Rights Watch called attention to the cancelation of nearly 300 NGOs and civil society organizations, calling on the government to reverse the decision (HRW).

Tunisia’s second round of parliamentary elections received 11% turnout, similar to the rate in the first round, which was boycotted by the country’s opposition groups. (Reuters).

The Gambian government proceeded with indictments over a recent coup attempt while “exonerating” some of those who were previously accused of participating in the attempt. (AFP via Barron’s) (Kerr Fatou) (BBC via Business Ghana).

A Rwandan appeals court reaffirmed a corruption sentence for former Youth Minister  Edouard Bamporiki, who was sentenced to 4 years in prison last year. Both the prosecution and the defense appealed the sentence, which this week was extended to 5 years. (The New Times Rwanda) (BBC via Maravi Post).

In Mauritania, an unprecedented corruption trial commenced this week against former president Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz. Along with nine other prominent defendants, he is accused of an orchestrated scheme of corruption to enrich himself while in office. (Al Jazeera) (AP) (Africa News).

Foreign Policy

Following a diplomatic visit by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to Sudan, a tentative agreement regarding the GERD dam appears to have been reached between Ahmed and those currently leading the junta in Sudan. (Al Jazeera) (AFP via Barron’s). It does not appear that this change in the Sudanese position reflects any change in the Egyptian position.

France is honoring a request by the Burkinabe junta to withdraw its troops from the country. France is also summoning its ambassador from the country. (New York Times) (CNN) (AP) (commentary from Foreign Policy). Thousands appeared at a rally in Ouagadougou on Saturday in support of the withdrawal (VOA).

Cameroon’s government has denied a Canadian statement that the North American country would lead peace talks over the Anglophone Crisis. (VOA) (Global News Canada) (The Globe and Mail). Canada’s Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, indicated that the Canadian government was, in fact, approached by Cameroonian officials. She added, “Our goal is to be patient and to take a deep breath.” (CBC).


23 January 2023

Human Rights

After last week’s protests calling for President Kais Saied to resign, Tunisian authorities have arrested and sentenced five opposition activists and politicians, including Seifeddine Makhlouf, to 14 months in prison through a military court. (The Media Line) (Arab News).

Amnesty International is calling for Algerian authorities to release journalist Ihsane El Kadi. He was arrested on Christmas Eve.  (Amnesty International) (VOA Africa) (MENA Rights) (The Guardian). 

Human Rights Watch is calling for an independent investigation into the “suspicious death” of John Williams Ntwali, a Rwandan investigative journalist who had received death threats for his reporting on human rights abuses in the country. (HRW) (Globe and Mail) (Reuters). Human Rights Watch is also calling attention to the conviction by a Rwandan court of a Rwandan politician. On December 16, 2022, Theophile Ntirutwa was sentenced to seven years in prison for “spreading false information or harmful propaganda with intent to cause a hostile international opinion against [the] Rwandan Government.” (HRW).

Sierra Leone has enacted a law that would provide not only a gender quota for the country’s parliament but also for the private sector. Companies will be required to reserve 30% of their senior posts for women. The law also provides for 14 weeks of maternity leave. (Bloomberg) (RFI) (BBC). 

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

The EU, UN, and ECOWAS have each warned of the potential for violence in connection with Nigeria’s upcoming elections following INEC Chair Mahmood Yakubu’s statements last week. (BBC via MyJoyOnline) (Sahara Reporters) (general background via Al Jazeera). 

Ruslan Obiang Nsue, the son of Equatorial Guinea’s president, has been placed under house arrest on suspicion of selling a government airplane. (Africa News) (BBC).

A Senegalese judge is permitting a rape indictment against opposition leader Ousmane Sonko to proceed. Sonko and his supporters have asserted that the allegations against him are intended to remove him from the political playing field and have no basis in reality. (Africa News) (Al Jazeera) (Reuters) (Jeune Afrique).

Ethiopian Supreme Court President, Meaza Ashenafi, resigned this week along with her deputy. They did not state their reasons for the resignation, which appears to have come as a surprise. (Addis Standard) (Africa News). Separately in Ethiopia, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed replaced the head of the country’s central bank (Bloomberg) (Addis Standard) days after the government rejected “rumors” that the birr would be devalued (Al Jazeera).  

In Zimbabwe, a group of 25 opposition activists who were arrested on January 14 for an “illegal meeting” appeared in court this week. (Africa News) (video report from Reuters) (VOA). Amnesty International has called for their immediate release and for all charges against them to be dropped.   (Amnesty International

Foreign Policy

Eritrean troops have reportedly withdrawn from the Tigray region. (AP) (Reuters via VOA) (Garowe Online). The US has hailed the withdrawal as “significant progress” in implementing the November 2 peace deal. (AFP via Ahram News) (State Dep’t. Readout of Blinken call with Abiy Ahmed). In a statement, the TPLF has emphasized that not “all” Eritrean forces have withdrawn. (Voice of Nigeria.

Canada announced that it has secured the participation of the parties to the conflict in Cameroon to participate in a Canadian-led peace process. (Canadian Government) (VOA) (CBC) (Reuters).

South Africa announced that it would proceed with joint naval exercises with Russia and China. (New York Times) (Deutsche Welle) (AP via Washington Post). Also relating to Russia’s involvement on the Continent, this week, Russia provided additional warplanes and helicopters to Mali’s junta. (Military Africa) (Africa News).

The State Department announced that Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Michele Sison would travel to Algeria and Morocco, where she will discuss, among other things, the status of Western Sahara. (State Dep’t.).    

Other Items of Interest

During a trip to Africa to discuss debt and finance issues, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet made a stop to visit the infamous “Door of No Return” in Goree Island, where she gave brief remarks noting that “the trans-Atlantic slave trade [is] not just a part of African history [but] a part of American history as well.” (AP) (Reuters) (Axios). 


15 January 2023

Human Rights

The Ugandan Constitutional Court declared void as unconstitutional a part of the country’s communications law that has been used against government critics. (20230110 Decision) (Jurist.org) (Committee to Protect Journalists) (Reuters) (Anadolu Agency).

Zimbabwe has adopted a law that would prohibit health worker strikes. In recent years, health workers in Zimbabwe have gone on strike over inadequate pay and lack of PPE during the coronavirus pandemic. (The Guardian) (Reuters) (All Africa). 

The National Industrial Court of Nigeria ruled in favor of a police officer who was fired for being pregnant while unmarried. The court held that the regulation purporting to require the firing of such persons was discriminatory and unlawful. The officer was awarded 5 million naira (about $11,100 USD) in “aggravated damages.” (BBC) (Premium Times) (The Punch Nigeria).

Amnesty International has called on Ethiopian authorities to release four human rights workers. Amnesty claims the four were arrested solely because of their work fighting forced evictions in a neighborhood south of Addis Ababa. (Amnesty International). 

Amnesty International has called on Burkinabe authorities to bring the perpetrators of targeted violence against mainly Fulani civilians to justice. The massacre allegedly took place at the end of 2022. (Amnesty International). Also, this week in Burkina Faso, jihadists attacked a mosque in Goulgountou, killing nine civilians.   (The Defense Post).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

The chair of Nigeria’s election commission, Mahmood Yakubu, issued a public statement warning that violence may prevent the country from holding presidential elections scheduled for February 25. (BBC) (Africa News) (Sahara Reporters) (The Punch Nigeria). He later clarified in an interview his commitment to holding elections. (Arise TV). It is unclear if a train attack this week in Edo State that resulted in the abduction and continued disappearance of at least 30 was related to the country’s upcoming elections. (WIO News) (Vanguard Nigeria). 

Although Benin’s opposition party won seats in parliamentary elections held on January 8, they have rejected the election results, asserting that President Patrice Talon’s party won a majority through “vote buying and fraud.” (Africa News) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera). The country’s constitutional court has affirmed the victory for the incumbent’s party. (Reuters) (France24).

In Zimbabwe, despite continued calls from human rights organizations like Amnesty International to investigate past abuses against the opposition (Amnesty International), police arrested 25 opposition members, including two MPs. (Reuters) (Africa News) (AFP via Barron’s). Zimbabwe’s elections are taking place as the UK is evaluating the country’s application to rejoin the Commonwealth. (News24).

On the 12th anniversary of the Tunisian protests that sparked the Arab Spring, demonstrators called for the resignation of President Kais Saied, who declared emergency powers on July 25, 2021. (Al Jazeera) (VOA) (AP via Washington Post) (Africa News).  

Foreign Policy

There is continued progress in implementing the Tigray peace deal, as Amharan forces withdrew from Tigray this week. (VOA) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera). Ethiopian Airlines appears to have adopted a policy of refusing boarding on domestic flights for passengers between the ages of 16 and 65, prompting complaints of discrimination from a group of passengers in Mekelle. (Addis Standard) (BBC via The Star Kenya). Meanwhile, in Oromia, the Oromo Liberation Army claimed responsibility that freed “hundreds” of detainees. (Addis Standard) (BBC via Somali Guardian).  for a prison break.

Despite Burkina Faso’s past protestations against reporting that Russia was supporting the current junta, Russia itself announced joint “counter-terrorism” efforts in the country this week. (BBC via Channel Africa). This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke with Kenyan President William Ruto by phone. (KBC) (Tuko). The DRC recently denied allegations that Russian troops were present in the Eastern DRC conflict. (African Peace) (Agenzia Nova) (News Central Africa).

On the subject of that conflict, after meeting with former Kenyan President and peace envoy Uhuru Kenyatta, M23 rebels have agreed to continue working toward a withdrawal from the eastern DRC. (The East African) (TeleSur). The rebels have asked the EAC to ensure that all rebel groups lay down their arms. (News24). Rwandan President Paul Kagame stirred controversy when he stated early in the week that Rwanda would no longer accept refugees fleeing the violence in the Eastern DRC, which the Congolese government accuses Rwanda of fueling. (Al Jazeera) (RFI). Human Rights Watch accused Kagame of politicizing refugee rights. (HRW). Kagame subsequently appears to have softened its rhetoric, stating that it has no intention to expel or ban refugees from the DRC. (Anadolu Agency) (The Daily Monitor via The Citizen).

The US Ambassador to Sudan urged holdout rebel groups to join ongoing peace talks. (RFI) (Africa News). The new round of talks began on Monday. (The National Post) (The Cable Nigeria).    

Other Items of Interest

In an apparent response to a labor lawsuit challenging worker conditions at a third-party company that provides content moderation services for facebook in East Africa, Meta has severed ties with the company. The company is also facing a $1.6 billion lawsuit alleging that its algorithms fueled ethnic violence against Tigrayans in the conflict that broke out in November 2020. (BBC) (TechCrunch) (Time) (Business Insider). 


19 December 2022

Human Rights

The International Criminal Court has rejected LRA commander Dominic Ongwen’s appeal of his sentence of 25 years on atrocity crimes.  (VOA) (NilePost via All Africa). The State Department issued a statement welcoming the decision. (State Dep’t.).

An Islamic cleric in Kano State, Nigeria, has been sentenced to death for blasphemy over statements he allegedly made in sermons. (PM News Nigeria) (The Cable Nigeria). 

South Africa has started the process of decriminalizing sex work. The move is part of an attempt to combat violence against women. (HRW) (AFP via CBS News) (Africa News) (Al Jazeera).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Following extremely low turnout in Tunisian legislative elections, opposition parties have called on President Kais Saied to resign. (Al Jazeera) (BBC) (FT) (The Guardian). Saied’s shift towards autocracy was criticized by the United States at this week’s Africa summit, to which Saied publicly took exception. (Washington Post). 

Gunmen killed three in an attack on a Nigerian election office in Imo State, southeast Nigeria. (Africa News) (Reuters). This week, a prominent Dutch diplomat argued for stricter enforcement of Nigeria’s election laws and increased economic development as levers for better election processes in Nigeria. (Premium Times Nigeria).

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa continues to fight for his political survival after facing calls for his resignation in the wake of an independent commission’s report’s conclusion that he may have broken the law. (BBC) (Reuters) (New York Times). Fellow former President Jacob Zuma is using the media moment to file a lawsuit against Ramaphosa for “negligence” in releasing confidential medical information about Zuma. (APA News) (BBC) (AFP via The East African). Zuma has sought repeated delays in his own prosecution on corruption charges based on his deteriorating health.

Kenyan President William Ruto’s daughter Charlene has attracted controversy after announcing that she has a “team” that forms the Office of First Daughter in Kenya. The Kenyan Constitution does not provide for any such office, and a government spokesperson has since insisted that the office is funded solely with private funds.  (The Monitor Uganda) (Vanguard Nigeria) (All Africa) (Standard Media) (The Star Kenya).  

Foreign Policy

The Biden administration’s Africa summit concluded with $55 billion in U.S. commitments, while African leaders continue to press President Biden to make an Africa trip. (VOA) (New York Times). The administration continues to face criticism for its decision to invite leaders with poor human rights records, including Rwandan president Paul Kagame. (Time). Meanwhile, Foreign Policy reports that U.S. officials smuggled a Chadian opposition leader out of the country while the leader of the country’s junta took part in the summit. (Foreign Policy). Human Rights Watch called on the administration to celebrate human rights defenders, and not just leaders. (HRW). Nigeria and Rwanda signed the Artemis accords for cooperation in U.S.-Africa space exploration. (State Dep’t.). And Kenya signed a MOU regarding nuclear energy cooperation. (State Dep’t.). Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi did not attend due to the ongoing conflict in the Eastern DRC. (News24).

 Ghana alleged publicly that Burkina Faso is hiring Russian mercenaries through the Wagner Group, to which the Burkinabe junta objected strongly, summoning the Ghanaian ambassador. (AP) (BBC) (Reuters). In Central African Republic, a Malian bomb almost killed a Wagner Group ally, Dmitry Sytii, who is reportedly a close associate of Yevgeny Prigozhin. (The Guardian) (Al Jazeera).

In Zimbabwe, the United States imposed additional sanctions on “human rights abusers and those who undermine democratic processes or facilitate corruption,” including President Emerson Mnangagwa’s son. (Treasury Dep’t.) (State Dep’t.) (Al Jazeera) (Bloomberg) (Reuters).

 As there is continued progress toward implementing a peace deal in Tigray, unrest is increasing in Oromia, where the federal government has just launched drone strikes. (BBC) (AP via ABC News). This week, human rights activists filed a lawsuit in Kenyan courts alleging that Facebook/Meta “fueled” ethnic violence in Ethiopia. The lawsuit, boosted by Amnesty International, seeks $1.6 billion USD. (Amnesty International) (NPR) (Reuters).    

Other Items of Interest

 French investigative journalist Romain Molina announced plans to sue the Cameroonian Football Federation after the organization accused him of blackmail and extortion. (BBC). 

Cambridge University announced plans to return its Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. (BBC).  


11 December 2022

Human Rights

The Congolese government has accused rebel group M23 of killing more than 300 civilians in a massacre in the eastern town of Kishishe. (The Guardian) (Reuters) (AP). The UN confirmed that M23 was responsible for attacks in which at least 131 civilians were killed. (Al Jazeera). M23 rebels have denied responsibility and accused the DRC of breaking a ceasefire agreement. (AP). This week, the EU put sanctions on several rebel groups in the DRC, including M23. (The East African). UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has come under fire for refusing to condemn the M23 rebels, drawing questions about whether his silence is a result of the UK’s agreement with Rwanda, which backs the M23 group, regarding the deportation of asylum seekers. (The Telegraph). Secretary Blinkn spoke with Rwanda President Paul Kagame regarding Rwanda’s assistance for the M23 group. The Rwandan government has previously denied supporting M23. (State Dep’t. Readout) (Chimp Reports) (Anadolu Agency)

A Reuters investigative report alleges that the Nigerian military has conducted a “secret, systematic, and illegal” abortion program in the country’s northeast, forcing at least 10,000 women and girls to have abortions. (Reuters) (The Punch Nigeria) (NPR interview). The Nigerian government has denied the report. (Africa News). UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for an investigation of the report. (Al Jazeera) (Reuters).

Following a mass trial, Chad arrested 262 pro-democracy protesters, whom the Chadian government has sought to blame for protest-related deaths. (Africa News) (RFI) (Al Jazeera). This week, 80 protesters who were previously arrested notwithstanding the fact that they are minors, were released. (Africa News).

Human Rights Watch has called on the U.S. to back a war crimes court in Liberia and to pressure President George Weah to prevent further delays for accountability. (HRW).

Human Rights Watch called on Eritrean authorities to release Ciham Ali Abdu, daughter of the country’s former Information Minister, who was arrested ten years ago, when she was 15. (HRW).

Human Rights Watch has released a 94-page report on the implementation of a Tunisian law intended to protect women from domestic violence. The report concludes that Tunisian authorities have not done enough to protect women. (HRW) (AFP via Barron’s) (Al Jazeera

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Sudanese military officials have announced a plan to hold elections and signed an agreement with some political parties for a transition to civilian rule. (France24) (BBC via Yahoo News) (Anadolu Agency). The deal has been opposed by some pro-democracy protesters and by some Islamist supporters of President Bashir. (Reuters). Authorities released anti-corruption activist Wagdi Salih shortly before the announcement was made. (Reuters).

Malawi police have arrested anti-corruption director Martha Chizuma after she was heard on leaked audio in which she noted that certain groups were trying to block her investigations. (VOA) (Independent Online) (Bloomberg). Chizuma has characterized her arrest as wrongful and the result of corruption. (Nyasa Times).

Ghana’s embattled finance minister has survived a no-confidence vote over his handling of the country’s inflation crisis. (Reuters) (Africa News) (Bloomberg).

Foreign Policy

The Biden administration has finalized the invite list for its long-planned Africa summit. (VOA). Delegates from Mali, Guinea-Conakry, and Burkina Faso were not invited out of “respect” for the African Union’s policies vis-a-vis coups in these countries, and Eritrea, Somaliland, and Western Sahara were not invited, because the United States does not currently have diplomatic relations with these countries. (The Guardian Nigeria). The Biden Administration has previously been criticized for inviting autocrats to the summit.

ECOWAS announced plans for a joint peacekeeping force to “help restore security and constitutional order” in light of recent coups. (Reuters). ECOWAS has also demanded that Mali release the 46 Ivorian soldiers remaining in its custody since June. (Africa News).

Some Liberian groups have criticized the United States’ decision to release arms merchant Viktor Bout in a prisoner swap with Russia for American basketball player Brittney Griner. Bout was arrested in Monrovia in May 2010 and was involved in arming militias in Liberia’s civil war. (Front Page Africa Online

Ethiopian state media reports that electricity has been restored to Tigrayan capital Mekelle. (RFI) (France24) (VOA) (Reuters). This week Kenyan President William Ruto made a surprise visit to Eritrea. It is unclear if Ruto’s visit is related to Eritrea’s alleged role in the Tigray conflict. (BBC via The Ghana Report) (The Guardian Nigeria

Other Items of Interest

Egyptian lawyers are protesting a new electronic tax invoicing system, threatening that they will not sign up for it. (Middle East Monitor) (The National News) (The New Arab).


04 December 2022

Events

The City Bar’s Task Force on the Rule of Law will be hosting a panel discussion on Tuesday, December 6, at 6:00 p.m. on “Lawyer Silence and the Rise of Authoritarianism.” (City Bar Registration Link).

Human Rights

Chadians are protesting the government’s attempt to arrest hundreds for the deaths of more than 60 individuals during clashes in previous anti-junta protests. This week, the trial of 400 individuals is scheduled to start, and the Chadian Bar Association is protesting over being asked to represent these defendants without pay or adequate access to the Koro Toro prison where the trials are being held. (Africa News) (North Africa Post) (RFI).

An uproar in Nigeria over the arrest of a 23-year-old who criticized First Lady Aisha Buhari, including nationwide protests that were planned for this Monday, led to  Ms. Buhari withdrawing her defamation complaint against the student. (BBC) (The Punch Nigeria) (Vanguard). The student subsequently apologized to Ms. Buhari. (BBC).

Following the African Court on Human and People’s Rights ruling in December 2020 that colonial-era vagrancy laws violated African human rights treaties (PALU), a Ugandan court this week ruled that Uganda’s law outlawing “rogues” and “vagabonds” is unconstitutional. (Nile Post Uganda) (Monitor Uganda) (BBC via The Independent Ghana).

Amnesty International is calling for improved protection measures for Malawians with albinism after a 3-year-old was killed. (Amnesty International) (Nyasa Times) (Malawi Voice).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Kenyan president William Ruto has suspended four senior elections officials who refused to certify his win in the country’s hotly contested recent elections. (Reuters). His opponent in that contest, Raila Odinga, who challenged the outcome in the courts but abided by the courts’ rejection of his claims, condemned the move as the first step of an attempt to rig the country’s 2027 elections. (Pd.co.ke). Ruto responded in a tweet, calling on Odinga to respect the outcome of the elections. (Nairobi News).

The scandal resulting from allegations that South African President Cyril Ramaphosa hid millions of dollars at his Phala Phala farm is increasing pressure on the leader, who has led a campaign to root out corruption in his party. A parliamentary report this week led to calls for his impeachment, which he states he will fight. The ANC’s national working committee is discussing how to address the allegations. (New York Times) (AP) (FT).

Angola has issued an arrest warrant for Isabel dos Santos, the billionaire daughter of the country’s former president. She is wanted on corruption charges and denies all wrongdoing. (Al Jazeera) (The East African) (Anadolu Agency).

A Mozambican court has begun to issue verdicts in the $2 billion USD corruption case against 19 defendants. The scandal has embroiled the country’s ex-president’s son, Ndambi Guebuza, who is one of the defendants. The trial started in August and concluded in March. The presiding judge noted that merely reading the verdict is expected to take five days. (Al Jazeera) (Africa News).

The stepson of former Malawian president Peter Mutharika has been arrested on human trafficking charges. The arrest relates to the death of 30 Ethiopian immigrants whose bodies were found in the Mtangatanga Forest Reserve. (VOA) (BBC) (Nyasa Times).

The U.S. State Department expressed “serious doubts” about the credibility of recent elections in Equatorial Guinea, which reportedly gave a sixth term to the world’s longest-serving president. (State Dep’t.) (Reuters).

Foreign Policy

There is continued slow progress toward implementing the peace agreement in Tigray, with 65% of Tigrayan forces having reportedly disarmed and talks ongoing. (Al Jazeera) (AP via Washington Post). Eritrean forces do not appear to have withdrawn. (AP). Aid is still not reaching Tigray (Deutsche Welle) (Al Jazeera), and the internet blackout in Tigray persists (AP via Washington Post). There are reports of atrocity crimes and other abuses by Ethiopian soldiers as Tigrayan forces withdraw. (AP via Washington Post) (Reuters).

The United States has charged three U.S. citizens with a conspiracy to support Cameroonian separatists. (DOJ Press Release) (Africa News) (Reuters) (Buffalo News).

Other Items of Interest

London’s Horniman Museum has followed through on its agreement to return six Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. (The Guardian) (BBC).

In other “art” related news, a Belgian auction house has canceled a planned auction of African skulls after a public outcry over the planned sale. The auction house has also issued an apology. The sale of human remains is not illegal in Belgium, but the incident has renewed calls to make it so. (The Independent Online) (VRT).

A Kenyan court has temporarily suspended a government decision to ban GMO crops. The government has sought to permit GMO crops in an attempt to combat  drought. The suspension was granted as preliminary relief in a case seeking a permanent injunction. (The East African) (Standard Media Kenya) (Anadolu Agency).


20 November 2022

Events

The New York City Bar’s Task Force on the Rule of Law will be hosting a panel discussion on Tuesday, December 6, at 6:00 p.m. on “Lawyer Silence and the Rise of Authoritarianism.” (City Bar Registration Link).

Human Rights

Godfrey Sithole, one of two Zimbabwean MPs arrested for attending the funeral of a disappeared opposition activist in June of this year, was released on bail this week alongside 13 other CCC activists. (AFP via Macau Business) (Zimbabwe Observer). The other MP who was arrested, Job Sikhala, was denied bail. Both MPs still await trial. (The Zimbabwe Herald via All Africa).

Tunisian opposition leader Fadel Abdelkefi was prevented from leaving the country at the airport this week. He claims there was no criminal case pending against him. (Africa News) (Tunisie Numerique).

Amnesty International has released a 10-point plan for the government of Somalia in order to improve the human rights situation in the country. (Press Release) (10-point plan). Also relating to Somalia, this week U.S. federal officials arrested former Somali army officer Yusuf Abdi “Tukeh” Ali in Springfield, Virginia, on charges relating to human rights violations from the period in the 1980s that he served under dictator Siad Barre. (Garowe Online) (Somaliland Chronicle). In May 2019, Tukeh was found civilly liable for human rights violations in a federal civil suit brought under the Torture Victim Protection Act. (Center for Justice & Accountability).

Amnesty International is calling on Guinean authorities to drop charges against three activists who have been jailed for demonstrating against the current military regime. One of the three has already been medically evacuated to Tunis, while the other two remain in custody. (Amnesty International).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Somaliland’s main political parties are refusing to recognize President Muse Bihi Abdi after he has overstayed his term of office, creating a similar stalemate to the one that Somalia experienced between February 8, 2021, and May 15, 2022. (AFP via France24) (background from International Crisis Group).

Sierra Leonean lawmakers appear poised to enact a 30% gender quota for the country’s parliament. (AFP via Barron’s) (The Heritage Times) (Sierra Loaded).

Amid rising pressure to fire his finance minister due to the country’s worsening inflation situation (Reuters), Ghanaian President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo has fired his deputy over a corruption scandal involving the junior minister’s attempt to extract a $200,000 fee for facilitating access to another government official. (GhanaWeb) (Africa News).

An Interpol arrest warrant has been issued for Isabel dos Santos. The charges appear to relate to the ICIJ’s Luanda Leaks investigation, while dos Santos’s only public comment so far has been that her lawyers are unaware of the warrant. (ICIJ) (Reuters) (Bloomberg). Dos Santos was sanctioned by the United States in 2021 over corruption-related issues. (ICIJ).

Foreign Policy

In advance of the Biden administration’s planned Africa summit this December, Human Rights Watch is calling on the Biden administration to prioritize human rights on the Continent. (HRW).

There continues to be slow progress toward implementing the truce agreement between the Ethiopian federal government and Tigrayan forces. This week Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed vowed to carry out “honest implementations” of the agreement. (Al Jazeera) (VOA) (Reuters). Tigrayan leader Getachew Reda also publicly defended the deal this week (BBC via The Ghana Report) while continuing to allege that Eritrea remains active in the conflict (Garowe Online). The State Department provided a briefing this week on the situation (Transcript via State Dep’t.), and food aid convoys have started to reach Tigray (The Guardian). Experts appear to be divided on optimism (HRW) versus pessimism (Foreign Policy) (Sudans Post).

Ivory Coast has announced the gradual withdrawal of its troops from a UN peacekeeping force in Mali. The withdrawal should be completed by August 2023. The Ivorian announcement came after talks fell through attempting to retrieve 46 Ivorian soldiers who were arrested at Bamako airport by the Malian junta en route to join the UN forces (Africa News) (Reuters) (AP).  Germany and the United Kingdom are also either withdrawing their troops or scaling back their deployment to the UN peacekeeping force. (The Guardian) (Deutsche Welle).

Secretary Blinken spoke with Kenyan President Ruto on Tuesday to discuss the conflicts in northern Ethiopia and the eastern DRC. (State Dep’t.). The call came shortly before the second scheduled deployment of Kenyan troops to the eastern DRC, where M23 rebels, allegedly with Rwandan backing, have resumed fighting since an earlier ceasefire. (Africa News). An apparent breakthrough came this week when Rwanda announced its support for a ceasefire ahead of an East African Community summit. (Al Jazeera). Outgoing Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is leading an EAC effort to broker such a development. (Standard Media Kenya). Along with allies, the U.S. State Department issued another joint statement in support of efforts to end the conflict. (State Dep’t.).

Other Items of Interest

Gambia’s Central Bank reported that it had been hacked. (The Voice Gambia) (The Point Gambia). The details of the hack or the extent of any data breach, remain unclear. (Compare Kerr Fatou with The Standard Gambia).


13 November 2022

Events

Thursday, November 17, at 9 a.m. Eastern Time, the Vance Center and the Institute for African Women in Law are sponsoring a panel discussion, “Building Transnational Networks,” via zoom. (Registration).

Human Rights

The Chadian government has agreed to an “international probe” into the recent death of 50 in connection with protests against the junta’s continued rule. (AFP via Barron’s). On a domestic level, however, the government continues to assert that the protests were the result of unlawful “insubordination.” (News360 via MSN). Two opposition leaders have gone into hiding out of fear for their safety. (Africa News). One of those opposition leaders, the head of the Transformers Party, has requested that the International Criminal Court open an investigation into Chad’s military government. (HumAngle Media). Later in the week, authorities arrested 621 people, including at least 83 minors. At least one of the cases is reportedly against a minor under the age of 12, the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Chad. (Africa News). The Chadian government has also openly mulled “dissolving” seven opposition parties. (News360 via MSN).

Malian TV journalist Malick Konate has received a wave of death threats, which have escalated since a report by French television channel BFMTV aired, in which Konate assisted in the documentation of Russian mercenaries’ presence in the country. Reporters without Borders has called on the Malian government to investigate these threats and to protect Konate. (AFP via Barron’s) (Reporters Without Borders). Also this week, authorities suspended the license for Joliba TV after the channel “aired an editorial criticizing rising intolerance and attacks on freedom of expression.” Mali’s National Human Rights Commission issued a statement of concern and called on the government to respect civil and political rights relating to freedom of expression and freedom of the press. (VOA). Both stories prompted a statement from Human Rights Watch calling on Malian authorities to stop intimidating journalists and critics. (HRW).

Senegalese journalist Pape Ale Niang was arrested on national security charges in apparent retaliation for his reporting exculpating opposition leader Ousmane Sonko of rape charges. (VOA). A wide range of civil society groups have called for Niang’s release. (Committee to Protect Journalists) (International Press Institute) (RFI re Senegalese press group CAP).

The DRC is refusing to issue credentials to French journalist Sonia Rolley, effectively expelling her from the country. The government did not explain its refusal to issue her press credentials in what appears to be an act of retaliation for her reporting. (Committee to Protect Journalists) (HRW) (Reuters) (Bloomberg).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

A Kenyan court has dropped a corruption case against Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, citing insufficient evidence. The case is the latest in a string of cases that have been dropped against Ruto allies after he won Kenya’s recent presidential elections. (Al Jazeera) (Reuters) (AFP via Yahoo News).

In Angola, a trial of 49 military and state security officials for corruption and embezzlement began this week. (Africa News). Former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s son, Jose Filomeno, was sentenced to five years for related crimes. (AP). And Major Pedro Lussati was sentenced to 14 years. (Africa News) (Ver Angola).

Foreign Policy

Air strikes in western Ethiopia appear to have killed “dozens” of civilians. (Addis Standard) (BBC via The Star Kenya). In northern Ethiopia, there is continued progress toward implementing a peace deal reached last week. The parties signed an agreement to begin implementation. (Reuters). And the parties have taken steps to speed up aid to the region. (BBC) (State Dep’t. Statement). The Ethiopian federal government continues to deny allegations that it is currently hindering aid. (Addis Standard).

Human Rights Watch is calling for upcoming negotiations between the United Kingdom and Mauritius regarding the status of the Chagos Islands to include Chagossians who have been expelled from the islands. (HRW). Their expulsion from the island was recently declared illegal by the International Court of Justice, but the United Kingdom continues to assert sovereignty over the territory.

Kenya and South Africa have signed a treaty that includes, among other things, visa-free travel for Kenyans visiting South Africa. (Al Jazeera) (Deutsche Welle).

Other Items of Interest

Twitter’s Ghana office, its only office in Africa, was also on the receiving end of recent layoffs at the company following the sale to Elon Musk. Almost all of the staff there have reportedly been let go. (BBC) (Africa News) (Graphic.com Ghana). The move to open an Africa office was heralded when it was announced last April).

The Nobel peace prize medal of South African president FW de Klerk was stolen from his house. He died in November 2021. De Klerk was South Africa’s last apartheid president, and he shared the peace prize with Nelson Mandela for their transition away from apartheid. (BBC) (AP via Washington Post) (Africa News).


6 November 2022

Human Rights

The Central African Republic’s Special Criminal Court delivered its first verdict, sentencing three militiamen to prison terms of 20 years to life for crimes against humanity. (France24) (RFI) (Justice Info) (Africa News). UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement welcoming the completion of the trial. (Guterres Statement via Reliefweb). The verdict does not appear to be related to the firing of Daniele Darlan, chief justice of the country’s Constitutional Court, last week. This week, a UN human rights expert emphasized the importance of judicial independence to CAR’s transitional process. (OHCHR Press Release).

A French court has convicted former Liberian rebel commander Kunti Kamara for wartime atrocities in Liberia in a landmark trial. Human rights groups have praised the verdict. (HRW) (Front Page Africa Online) (The East African).

Journalist and editor of Pinnacle News Arlindo Chissale was detained by Mozambican authorities last week on terrorism charges. After Human Rights Watch called for his release (HRW) (BBC via Club of Mozambique), the District Court of Balama released him on bail, though he still faces charges (Africa Press).

Amnesty International has called on the terror group Al Shabaab to “urgently” stop carrying out attacks against civilians. The statement follows a series of car bombings in Mogadishu that have killed more than 120, including a journalist. (Amnesty International) (Reuters) (VOA).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been the head of state of Equatorial Guinea since 1979 and the longest-serving president in the world, has launched his campaign for a sixth term. (AFP via Yahoo News). The U.S. State Department called on the government to hold “free and fair” elections and expressed concern regarding “reports of arrests and harassment of opposition members and civil society.” (State Dep’t.) (Today News Africa). Similar statements from Spain and France prompted Equatorial Guinean authorities to accuse the three countries of “interfering” in its elections scheduled for November 20. (AFP via France24).

Nigeria’s Federal High Court has constituted a group of 300 judges for a special election petition tribunal. Elections will take place in February 2023. (PR Nigeria) (Vanguard Nigeria) (Premium Times Nigeria).

Foreign Policy

AU-led efforts to mediate the dispute in northern Ethiopia, led by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo acting as an envoy of the AU, have borne a peace agreement just before the two-year anniversary of the conflict. Tigrayan forces have agreed to disarm, and the federal government has agreed to restore humanitarian access to Tigray. (AP) (Reuters) (analysis by New York Times) (analysis by Al Jazeera) (analysis by Vox). The United States issued a statement welcoming the development. (State Dep’t.). Human Rights Watch called for the agreement to be followed by “robust” human rights monitoring, and Amnesty International called for “justice” for victims and survivors of the conflict. (HRW) (Amnesty International).  In addition to implementation challenges, the federal government also faces difficulties in other parts of the country. This week, in the southern region of Oromia, OLA rebels took control of three towns. (Ethiopia Observer) (BBC via Hiraan Online).

Following Burkina Faso’s second coup in 2022, the United States has dropped the country from the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade deal that provides tariff-free access to American markets for African exporters. (BBC via The Star Kenya) (Bloomberg).

Following the resumption of hostilities by M23 in the eastern DRC, the DRC has accused Uganda of support for the group. (The East African). In Goma province, thousands protested against Rwandan support for the rebel group. (Al Jazeera). This week, Kenyan President William Ruto made Kenya the second EAC country to send troops to support DRC forces in the region, following Burundi. (VOA) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera). The U.S. called on M23 to withdraw from its positions. (State Dep’t.).

Other Items of Interest

A UK court has sentenced company Glencore Energy UK Limited to pay 280 million pounds over its “sustained criminality” in bribing African officials. (The Guardian) (Naira Metrics) (Okay Africa) (Justice Fraser’s Sentencing Remarks).


30 October 2022

Events

In connection with the International Bar Association Conference in Miami, The Vance Center’s Africa Program Director, Adaobi Egboka, will be speaking on Wednesday on a panel regarding the topic, “Current challenges and opportunities in performing pro bono work in Africa.” (IBA Page).

Human Rights

In Chad, protests against the junta led by the son of former 6-term president Marshall Deby. Following Chadian authorities’ admission that at least 50 had died in protests last week, human rights groups this week accused Chadian authorities of summary executions and torture in connection with their repression of the protests. (AFP via Barron’s) (HRW) (Deutsche Welle).

In Nigeria, there is continued legal wrangling over the case of Biafran separatist Nnamdi Kanu. Most recently, the Court of Appeal in Abuja granted an emergency stay of a ruling that would have required the release and return of Kanu to Kenya, where he claims he was illegally abducted and extradited to Nigeria. He is presently in the custody of Nigerian special police. (Premium Times Nigeria) (Sahara Reporters).

Following President Ruto’s disbanding of a police unit linked to extrajudicial killings, this week 12 senior police officials were charged with crimes against humanity in connection with a crackdown on post-election protests in 2017. (The Guardian) (AFP via Barron’s) (VOA).

Malawi police arrested about 33 organizers of an anti-government protest this week. (VOA) (BBC via Club of Mozambique).

Human Rights Watch issued a report detailing extrajudicial killings of hundreds and the forced displacement of tens of thousands since March. (HRW).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Central African Republic President Faustin Touadera issued a presidential decree to fire the chief judge of the country’s Constitutional Court. The move is perceived by some as retribution for the court’s decision nullifying a presidential decree creating a commission to rewrite the constitution. (Jurist.org) (AFP via Barron’s) (Afro Impact). The firing prompted a rebuke from the U.S. State Department. (State Dep’t.). The developments come as the country is expecting the first verdict from a Special Criminal Court. (HRW).

Zimbabwean president Emerson Mnangagwa was formally nominated by his party to lead the party in elections expected to take place in 2023. (News24) (Bloomberg). This week, Amnesty International issued a call for Zimbabwean authorities to release 16 opposition activists, including two members of parliament, who have been arrested in the run-up to election season. (Amnesty International).

The U.S. State Department issued a public statement marking the one-year anniversary of the military coup in Sudan, and “honoring” the Sudanese protesters and democracy activists who continue to challenge the coup. (State Dep’t.).

Foreign Policy

The UN Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN mission in Western Sahara, “calling on the parties to resume negotiations in good faith towards a mutually acceptable political solution for the region.” (UN Press Release) (Security Council Report). The United States voted in favor of the renewal. (US Explanation of Vote).

Ethiopian peace talks began in South Africa this week. (BBC) (Al Jazeera) (U.S. State Dep’t. Statement). There is concern that continued fighting could impede peace talks (The Economist) (AP re continued hostilities by Eritrean forces), but peace talks have survived at least the week and are expected to continue Monday (Daily Maverick).

Other Items of Interest

A British museum has announced its “readiness” to cooperate with Zimbabwean authorities over the return of human remains that were taken in the colonial era. (BBC).


23 October 2022

Events

Wednesday, October 26, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., there is a series of events at the City Bar sponsored by the Vance Center to commemorate its 20th anniversary. The full program is available at this link, and you can pick and choose which sessions you can attend.

Human Rights

Activist groups in Uganda have filed a court challenge against the country’s new social media law, arguing that it violates the right to free expression protected by the Ugandan Constitution. (Nile Post via All Africa) (AP via ABC News) (AFP via The Monitor Uganda).

Human Rights Watch has documented a series of credible human rights abuses committed by Congolese army units in the course of their fight with M23 rebels in the eastern DRC. The NGO called on President Tshisekedi to “address impunity and break these cycles of abuse.” (HRW).

Eritrean authorities have arrested a Catholic priest and bishop in the course of a few days. The reasons for their detention are unknown. The bishop, Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim, was arrested after returning from Europe. (BBC via The Star Kenya) (The Pillar Catholic) (News Central TV).

Amnesty International has launched a campaign calling on its supporters to write to the President of the Central African Republic to ensure the renewal of the country’s Special Criminal Court. (Amnesty International).

Newly elected Kenyan President William Ruto has disbanded an “elite” police unit linked to extrajudicial killings. The move was announced as part of a larger package of planned reforms. (Capital FM via All Africa)(BBC via Business Ghana).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Despite the recent announcement of a new government following Chad’s “national dialogue,” civil society groups protested this week, demanding civilian rule. Security forces opened fire on the protesters, and at least 50 have been reported killed, according to Chadian authorities. (New York Times) (Reuters). Amnesty International issued a statement calling for the repression of demonstrations to stop “immediately.” (Amnesty International). The State Department issued a statement of concern “regret[ting] the results of the Chadian National Dialogue and their consequences for an inclusive, peaceful, and timely transition to a democratic and civilian-led government.” (State Dep’t.). AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, a former prime minister of Chad, denounced the “repression of demonstrations that led to deaths in Chad.” (Reuters via Euronews).

A coalition of opposition parties and civil society groups in Guinea organized protests last week, which were violently repressed this week, with at least three dead. The country’s top prosecutor called for a “crackdown” on protest organizers and participants, while further protests are planned for October 26. (AFP via Yahoo News) (BBC via The Ghana Report). A regional leader of one of the opposition parties was arrested. (Africa News). The ruling junta has agreed to a timeline proposed by ECOWAS, which would have elections take place in early 2025.  (AP via The Washington Post) (AFP via VOA).

In Zimbabwe, dozens were injured in violent skirmishes between authorities and opposition political parties. (BBC via The Independent Ghana). The Zimbabwe Election Support Network denounced recent attacks against opposition CCC party members and asked political party leaders and their supporters to “foster” peace ahead of the 2023 elections. (VOA Zimbabwe) (NewsDay Zimbabwe).

Foreign Policy

U.S. Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT) has blocked $75 million in aid to Egypt over the country’s failure to make progress on human rights reforms. (Middle East Monitor) (Middle East Eye) (AP) (Responsible Statecraft).

During a visit by Sahrawi President and leader of the Polisario Front Brahim Ghali, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa continues to support Sahrawi independence “without hesitation.” (Official Remarks) (Africa News) (RFI via All Africa). Morocco reacted angrily to the announcement. (AFP via New Zimbabwe). Several African countries have recently recognized Moroccan claims over the territory following President Trump’s doing so in the lame-duck portion of his presidency. The New York City Bar’s African Affairs Committee has previously signed onto a letter urging the Biden Administration to review the Trump administration’s action. (NYCBA Statement). This week, U.S. officials met with UN Envoy Stefan de Mistura regarding the conflict. (State Dep’t. Readout).

Madagascar’s foreign minister was fired this week, seemingly over his vote at the UN to condemn Russia’s annexation of two Ukrainian territories. (Reuters) (AFP via Al Arabiya).

Ethiopia’s federal army has seized the strategic town of Shire and two others in Tigray. (BBC) (Reuters). The Washington Post reports that civilians from the region have begun fleeing out of fear of a repeat of previous atrocities. (Washington Post). WHO Chief Tedros Ghebreyesus, who is Tigrayan and has become increasingly vocal over the conflict, stated publicly that the Tigray conflict is a health crisis for 6 million people, and time is running out to prevent a “genocide.” (UN News) (Al Jazeera). This week, the United States granted TPS status to Ethiopians in the United States for a period of 18 months. (Reuters).

Other Items of Interest

This week saw severe flooding in Nigeria and Chad. (AP via Bloomberg). In Nigeria, floods have killed at least 600 and displaced more than one million people. (New York Times) (The New Republic) (NPR). In Chad, a state of emergency has been declared. (Reuters) (Al Jazeera) (Flood List).

Ghanaian traders have closed their shops to protest inflation rates as high as 37% in the country. (Africa News) (Quartz Africa).

Zimbabwe followed the United States and Australia this week to become the third country to approve HIV prevention drug cabotegravir. (The Guardian) (News24).


16 October 2022

Human Rights

A Nigerian appellate court has ordered the terrorism charges against Biafran separatist Nnamdi Kanu to be dropped and ruled that his extradition from Kenya was illegal. (BBC) (Reuters) (Sahara Reporters) (Vanguard Nigeria).

Uganda passed a new internet law on October 13, which prohibits the unauthorized transmission of information about a person without their consent, imposing penalties of up to 10 years. Human rights groups have warned that the law will be used to silence government critics. (AP via Washington Post) (VOA). Amnesty International called for the law to be scrapped. (Amnesty International). Human Rights Watch issued a statement calling on the Biden administration to reevaluate its relationship with Uganda’s authoritarian president, Yoweri Museveni. Earlier this week, Museveni’s most recent political opponent, singer Bobi Wine, was briefly arrested by authorities in Dubai, seemingly at the instigation of Ugandan diplomats. (Vanguard Nigeria) (NilePost via All Africa).

Somali authorities arrested freelance Somali journalist Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, who is also the secretary-general of the Somali Journalists Syndicate. Human rights groups, including Human Rights WatchAmnesty International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists, have called for his release and the dropping of charges against him. He was released on bail on Sunday. (Hiraan).

A war crimes trial against Liberian rebel leader Kunti Kamara began this week. He is accused of torture, extrajudicial killings, rape, and other atrocity crimes. (Jurist.org) (Front Page Africa Online) (Le Monde) (VOA).

Residents of the Amharan city of Raya Kobo have alleged that Tigrayan forces, who recently occupied the area. (BBC Amharic via Ethiopia Observer). As peace talks have stalled (see below under Foreign Policy), various groups are warning of a “civilian bloodbath.” (BBC).

Former DRC intelligence chief Kalev Mutond has returned to the country. He left in March 2021, when a wanted notice was issued for him over his involvement in the repression of dissent under President Kabila. (HRW) (France24).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Chadian junta leader Mahamat Deby, the son of the late president “Marshall” Deby, was sworn in as “transitional” president 18 months after he took power following the death of his father. (Africa News) (The East African). Later in the week, he named several opposition figures to his government, including naming Saleh Kebzabo as prime minister. The FACT rebel group boycotted the national dialogue that resulted in the new government. (Reuters via US News) (Sahara Reporters). Deby’s actions will also push out elections by at least another two years. (Deutsche Welle).

The Law Society of Kenya is asking for an explanation as to why prosecutors are dropping a corruption case against former MP Aisha Jumwa and former Managing Director of Kenya Power Ben Chumo. (Kenya Online News) (The Standard Kenya) (The Star Kenya).

Despite a massive election win for Lesotho’s opposition Revolution for Prosperity Party, the party’s 56 seats fell short of a majority in the 120-seat parliament. This week, the party’s leader, diamond millionaire Sam Matekane, announced a three-party governing coalition. (Africa News) (AFP via France24) (Reuters) (AP via Washington Post).

Following his “national meeting” this week, the leader of Burkina’s second coup in 2022 has been named interim president. At 34 years old, Ibrahim Traoré is the world’s youngest leader. Elections are scheduled for 2024, in which Traoré will not be allowed to run. (BBC via My Joy Online) (AFP via Yahoo News).

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has issued a decree disbanding the country’s Judicial Service Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission. The Commission oversees the independence of the judiciary. (Tola Media) (BBC via Business Ghana) (FTL Somalia).

Former Guinean dictator Moussa Dadis Camara is being held in pre-trial detention. He returned to the country after Alpha Condé’s deposition, and he is now being put on trial for his involvement in a 2009 stadium massacre. (AFP via Yahoo News) (Africa News).

Foreign Policy

Tigray peace talks have been delayed again. (CFR). The U.S., Australia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement of “profound concern” regarding the “escalation of the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis” in northern Ethiopia. (State Dep’t.) (Reuters). The chair of the African Union called for an immediate ceasefire, and the U.S. issued another statement of concern later in the week. (Reuters) (State Dep’t.).

Thousands protested against Tunisian President Kais Saied’s continued one-man rule this week. (BBC). The protests come amid an economic crisis in the country resulting from shortages in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Grocery store shelves are empty, and the country recently announced it has only enough petrol for one week. (Reuters) (AP). The United States announced $60 million in funding to address the crisis. (State Dep’t.).

Other Items of Interest

A group of US museums announced the return of 31 Benin bronzes to Nigeria. (CNN) (The Root).

The Nigerian Academic Staff Union of Universities is ending its 8-month strike following a court ruling. (Africa News) (Al Jazeera) (All Africa).

The Nigerian government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft under which Microsoft intends to train 5 million Nigerians with digital skills. (Tech Economy Nigeria) (The Whistler Nigeria).


9 October 2022

Human Rights

A Rwandan court has acquitted three journalists, who have been detained for four years on charges of spreading false information with the intention of inciting violence and tarnishing the country’s image. The journalists have been released. (Committee to Protect Journalists) (AFP via Barron’s) (Reuters).

The Somali government issued a ban on the “dissemination of extremism ideology.” The ban is directed at Al Shabaab-controlled social and traditional media. At least 40 online accounts on Facebook and Twitter have been suspended as a result of the ban. A press release announcing the ban acknowledges the protection of free speech recognized under Somali law. (Al Jazeera) (Somali Guardian) (Africa News) (VOA). This week, a U.S. air strike reportedly killed a senior leader of Al Shabaab. (Reuters).

Human Rights Watch criticized a South Sudanese trial against a group of seven activists and government critics associated with People’s Action for Civic Action, and called on South Sudan’s judiciary to act independently in its handling of the case. (Human Rights Watch).

Nigerian news outlet Sahara Reporters reports on accounts by Nigerians living in Kenya of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances targeting their community. (Sahara Reporters). Also this week, Ethiopian airlines announced that Nigerian citizens would no longer be eligible for visas on arrival in Ethiopia. Some of the reporting indicates that the suspension applies to citizens of all other African countries, not just Nigeria, but the news appears to be reported predominantly in Nigerian outlets. (The Punch Nigeria) (Daily Trust via All Africa).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Ibrahim Traoré, the leader of the junta that conducted last week’s coup in Burkina Faso announced a process to pick a transitional president under the format of a “national meeting” to be held on October 14 and 15. (AFP via Barron’s). ECOWAS appears to be satisfied with Traoré’s transitional plans. (Reuters via CNN). The UN OHCR has called for an investigation into coup-related deaths and injuries. (UN News). Al Jazeera has published a primer on the country’s second coup this year. (Al Jazeera).

In Lesotho, the newly founded Revolution for Prosperity party seems likely to be declared the winner of the country’s October 7 elections by a simple majority. The incumbent ruling party, the All Basotho Convention, has so far won no seats. (Reuters) (All Africa) (Africa News) (additional background from Africa News). Commonwealth observers have characterized the elections as “calm and peaceful,” while the U.S. State Department issued a statement congratulating Lesotho on its elections. (Jurist.org) (State Dep’t.). Amnesty International called on Lesotho’s incoming government to “address unresolved cases of police brutality, torture, and unlawful killings and ensure accountability for these human rights crimes.” (Amnesty International).

Zimbabwe is relaxing its voter registration requirements ahead of 2023 elections, requiring voters to submit only proof of identification, not proof of residence. (Bulawayo24) (263Chat via All Africa). This week, opposition MPs Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole were denied bail for the fifth time. The two were arrested for their comments following the disappearance and death of a CCC party activist. (New Zimbabwe via All Africa) (Newsday Zimbabwe) (Daily News Zimbabwe).

Following Kenya’s recent elections, 14 MPs changed their allegiance from the Azimio la Umoja opposition coalition to the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition. Members of the former coalition challenged the change in allegiance as untimely, but the Speaker recognized the shift, thus giving Kenya Kwanza the majority. This ruling by the Speaker prompted a physical altercation on the floor of the Parliament over physical control of the ceremonial mace. (Standard Media Kenya) (BBC via Business Ghana) (Sahara Reporters).

Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission has arrested several former ministers of the country in two distinct cases. (VOA, Zambia Watchdog, and Lusaka Times regarding the first case) (BBC via Channel Africa and News Diggers Zambia regarding the second).

Foreign Policy

The New York Times reports on intensive behind-the-scenes U.S. diplomacy to broker peace talks in Tigray as those efforts’ success appears to be dwindling. (New York Times). An AU-led effort is being delayed by logistical issues. (Al Jazeera) (RFI). This week, the UN Human Rights Council renewed the mandate for the International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia. The State Department and Amnesty International both issued statements welcoming the renewal. (State Dep’t.) (Amnesty International).

Ugandan General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the firebrand son of President Museveni, was fired by his father as commander of the country’s land forces after he that he would capture Nairobi in two weeks, setting off a diplomatic crisis. (Al Jazeera) (Reuters) (Yahoo News). Museveni apologized for his son’s tweets (BBC), but subsequently promoted him to the rank of general (VOA).

Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has commenced a nine-day tour to garner diplomatic support on the Continent and counter pro-Russian narratives. (New York Times) (BBC via Business Ghana). As part of the tour, he has pledged to export more Ukrainian grain to Africa. (AP).

Other Items of Interest

More than 66 children have died in The Gambia due to kidney failure. The deaths have been linked by domestic and international health authorities to an Indian cough syrup manufacturer. (BBC 1) (BBC 2) (Reuters 1) (Reuters 2). The WHO is investigating whether the contaminated product was sold outside of The Gambia as well. (The Guardian).


2 October 2022

Events

Tuesday, October 4, at 2:00 p.m. SAST/8:00 a.m. Eastern, the Institute for Security Studies is hosting a panel discussion on Africa-Europe relations in the wake of the war in Ukraine. (ISS Africa).

Human Rights

The East African Court of Justice has rejected a lawsuit brought by Maasai groups challenging the Tanzanian government’s actions setting apart portions of Maasai ancestral land for wildlife protection. (Al Jazeera) (Deutsche Welle) (The Star Kenya).

A Zimbabwean court convicted author Tsitsi Dangarembga of “inciting public violence” for holding placards that stated “We Want Better. Reform Our Institutions.” She was sentenced to a six-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to pay a $120 fine. The author announced plans to appeal the conviction. (AP) (Al Jazeera) (CNN).

The World Organisation Against Torture has released a report saying that “extrajudicial murder and torture have become widespread” in Libya since January 2020. (RFI via All Africa) (Report Press Release).

Amnesty International issued an alert on the “escalat[ion]” by Eswatini authorities of a “crackdown” on human rights. The country, the last absolute monarchy in Africa, has seen a recent series of pro-democracy protests, which the government has tried to repress. (Amnesty International) (background from the New York Times).

Amnesty International and the International Planned Parenthood Federation Africa Region issued a report calling for greater support for survivors of sexual violence in Guinea. (Amnesty International)

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

The leader of Burkina Faso’s January 2022 coup, which ousted President Roch Kaboré, has been forced to resign hours ago and reportedly fled to Togo. (New York Times) (BBC) (VOA). The coup, led by Ibrahim Traoré and buttressed by protesters expressing anti-French and pro-Russian sentiment, began two days ago. Gunfire was heard across the capital of Ouagadougou, and the French embassy had to battle off a fire before Traoré was able to take power. (Reuters) (BBC). The AU and ECOWAS have both condemned the “unconstitutional” change of government, and the State Department issued a statement “join[ing] our partners at ECOWAS, the African Union, and the European Union in condemning these acts and the ongoing violence.” (Al Jazeera re AU reaction) (Premium Times Nigeria re ECOWAS reaction) (State Dep’t.).

São Tomé and Principe’s opposition party won parliamentary elections this week, after which Patrice Travoada will become prime minister. (Africa News). The State Department issued a statement congratulating the country on the elections. (State Dep’t.).

In the ongoing saga of Chad’s on-again off-again national reconciliation talks, Chad’s ruling junta released an ad hoc report pushing elections back by at least two years. (Reuters). The United States issued a statement expressing “deep concern” over the report. (State Dep’t.).

Lesotho is set to hold elections next week. Amnesty International has called for accountability in connection with “unresolved cases of police brutality, torture, and unlawful killings” around the elections (Amnesty International) and the Commonwealth has issued a statement calling for peaceful elections (Commonwealth Statement). The Institute for Security Studies argues that democratic reforms, which should have occurred before the elections, will now be decided upon by the voters. (ISS Africa).

Guinea’s 2008 coup leader and third President, Moussa Dadis Camara, returned to the country from Burkina Faso after Alpha Condé’s deposition in 2021. (VOA). This week, the country’s courts have commenced a trial against the former leader for the acts of security forces in a 2009 stadium massacre, in which more than 150 people died and dozens of women were raped. (Washington Post) (Al Jazeera).

In the middle of his trial before the International Criminal Court, Kenyan lawyer Paul Gicheru was found dead at the age of 49. Gicheru was accused of obstruction of justice in connection with an alleged scheme to bribe and intimidate witnesses in a case that was then pending against William Ruto. Ruto was recently elected President of Kenya. In 2015, one of Gicheru’s allies, Meshack Yabei, was abducted and killed. Under precedent established in the case of Slobodan Milosevic, Gicheru’s death closes all ICC proceedings against him. (The Nation Africa) (New York Times) (VOA) (AP via Washington Post). The Kenya Human Rights Commission and the Law Society of Kenya have called for an investigation into Gicheru’s death).

Sudan is witnessing a new wave of protests months after the junta’s overtures toward abandoning their October 2021 coup have not materialized. (Dabanga Sudan via All Africa). Al Jazeera reports on the efforts of one coup leader to distance himself from the coup. (Al Jazeera). 55 civil society groups have united under a new “Revolutionary Charter for the Establishment of the People’s Authority.” (Dabanga Sudan via All Africa).

Foreign Policy

An ECOWAS delegation visited Mali to help mediate the dispute over 46 Ivorian soldiers, who remain in Malian custody after they were intercepted at Bamako airport en route to a UN peacekeeping mission in July. (The Africa Report) (VOA). This week, in an address to the United Nations, Mali’s prime minister distanced his country from ECOWAS’s sanctions against Guinea, criticized France’s “junta”, and praised Russian involvement on the Continent. (Reuters) (Africa News) (Al Jazeera). It is unclear whether the Malian prime minister’s speech came before or after an extraordinary summit of ECOWAS in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly, at which ECOWAS leaders agreed to press Guinea harder for a transition to a constitutional, civilian-led democracy. The State Department issued a statement in support of ECOWAS’s actions. (State Dep’t.).

Secretary Blinken met with Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera. (State Dep’t. Readout).

Other Items of Interest

The trial of Felicien Kabuga began this week. Kabuga is accused of financing the Rwandan genocide. He was arrested in France in 2020, where he was hiding, and French authorities transferred him to the custody of the UN International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in The Hague. (New York Times) (The Africa Report) (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-63068598) (BBC). Human Rights Watch called the trial a “significant step in efforts to ensure accountability for planning, ordering, and carrying out the genocide in Rwanda.” (HRW). The State Department also issued a statement welcoming “the opening statements” in Kabuga’s trial. (State Dep’t.).


27 September 2022

Human Rights

Equatorial Guinea has abolished the death penalty. (Reuters). The announcement came a little less than one week before President Teodoro Mbasogo, who has ruled the country for 43 years, confirmed he would stand in November elections. His candidacy was announced by his son, who is also vice president of the country. (Africa News).

The trial of Mahamat Said Abdel Kani before the International Criminal Court began this week. Kani is a former senior leader of the Sekela rebel coalition who is charged with crimes against humanity including torture. He pleaded not guilty. (Reuters) (Deutsche Welle).

Amnesty International has called on Moroccan authorities to release activist Rida Benotmane, alleging that he is being prosecuted for criticizing the authorities on social media. (Amnesty International). The day after Amnesty’s statement, a Moroccan appeals court extended the sentence of another activist, Saida el-Alami, who was arrested in March for criticizing government officials on social media. (The North Africa Journal) (VOA).

Armed bandits attacked a mosque in Nigeria’s Zamfara State, killing at least 15 worshippers. The attackers hid Ak-47s in their clothes and pretended to be there for religious services. (VOA) (Vanguard Nigeria) (Reuters).

Human Rights Watch has called on FIFA to establish a remedy fund for migrant workers who have been exploited by Qatari contractors in preparation for the World Cup, many of whom are African. (HRW).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

The Central African Republic’s Constitutional Court annulled presidential decrees establishing a committee to rewrite the constitution, seen as a preliminary step toward President Faustin Touadera attempting to run for a third term in office. (AFP via Barron’s) (Africa News) (Reuters). UN human rights experts had previously issued a statement expressing concerns about the process that had been decreed by President Touadera. (OHCHR Press Release).

Amnesty International continues to call out Zimbabwe for its continued holding of opposition MPs Job Sikhala and Godfrey Sithole. They have been in prison for more than 100 days, after both attended the funeral of a political activist, Moreblessing Ali, whose body was found three weeks after she went missing. (Amnesty International).

Tunisian authorities detained Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the Ennahda party that held a plurality in parliament before President Kais Saied suspended it by emergency decree. The 81-year-old opposition leader was questioned for 13 hours overnight and then released without charge. He was summoned the previous day as well but told to go home after waiting for 12 hours to be questioned. (Reuters) (AFP via News24) (Le Journal de l’Afrique).

Chad’s foreign minister has resigned, as on-again, off-again reconciliation talks with rebels continue. (Reuters). This week, Human Rights Watch criticized Chadian security forces for using “excessive force” against opposition members and supporters amidst the government’s “national dialogue” with rebel groups. (HRW).

Citing technical and financial challenges, Somaliland officials announced a pushback from this November to next July of presidential elections. (Reuters) (Bloomberg).

A Gabonese court has found former speaker and opposition leader Guy Nzouba-Ndama guilty of money laundering and espionage. He was arrested at the border of Congo-Brazzaville, allegedly carrying USD $2 million worth of cash. (North Africa Post) (BBC via Business Ghana).

Human Rights Watch warned that Burundian president Evariste Ndayishimiye’s appointment of Gervais Ndirakobuca is “likely a step back in terms of safeguarding fundamental rights,” citing the politician’s track record as an advisor during President Pierre Nkurunziza’s 2015 crackdown on opposition voices. (HRW).

Foreign Policy

There are several stories surrounding diplomacy at the UN General Assembly. Leaders from the DRC, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria lobbied for Africa to have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. (Africa News) (Pass Blue). Several African delegations, including Senegalese President Macky Sall speaking as AU chair, and the Presidents of Kenya, the DRC, and South Africa, reiterated their support for lifting sanctions against Zimbabwe. (The East African). Both the Rwandan and Congolese delegations used their General Assembly speeches to criticize the other in the two countries’ ongoing dispute in the eastern DRC. (Chimp Reports) (Africa News) (UN News). Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari tacitly criticized African leaders who violate term limit provisions in order to cling to power, arguing the practice has a “corrosive” effect. (CNN). And newly elected Kenyan President William Ruto called for the World Bank and IMF to grant pandemic debt relief to developing countries. (The East African). On the margins of the UN General Assembly, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement on the political crisis in Libya (State Dep’t.), and the State Department provided an update on the peace efforts in Ethiopia of U.S Special Envoy to the Horn Mike Hammer (State Dep’t.).

Following last week’s reports that Eritrea was mobilizing conscripts as the conflict in northern Ethiopia resumed, this week TPLF fighters have accused Eritrea of launching a “full-scale” offensive along the border. (BBC) (All Africa) (AP via Washington Post). A group of UN human rights experts is warning that further atrocity crimes in northern Ethiopia are at risk due to the breakdown of the ceasefire. (OHCHR Press Release) (RTE).

Mozambique and Tanzania signed an anti-terrorism defense pact. (The Defense Post) (Africa News) (The East African).


18 September 2022

Events

Tuesday, September 20, 2022, at 6 p.m. Eastern, nonprofit Make Music Matter is hosting a reception with Congolese Nobel prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege. The event is hosted by human rights lawyer Bruce Rabb. (Registration page via Mailchimp). The event will be held at the Bronx Documentary Center, Annex Gallery, 364 East 151st Street, The Bronx, NY 10455.

Friday, September 23, 2022, at 2 p.m., a coalition of civil society organizations and NGOs are hosting a panel discussion on “The State of Human Rights and Democracy in Zimbabwe and Prospects for Free and Fair Elections in 2023.” The panel discussion includes prominent speakers, including Amos Chibaya, Daniel Molokele, Godfrey Kurauone, Tafadzwa Sarupinda, Comfort Dondo, Hopewell Chin’ono, and Chipo Dendere. The event will be at the Wyndham Garden in North Bergen, New Jersey. 1706 Paterson Plank Road. RSVP by email to Handel Mlilo, [email protected], or text (240) 507-7120. You may wish to mention that you learned of the event from the committee

Human Rights

In advance of Egypt hosting the COP27 climate summit, Human Rights Watch issued a report early in the week calling on Egyptian authorities to end restrictions on environmental NGOs. (HRW). In a demonstration of its lack of independence, Egypt relied on its own human rights body, the National Council for Human Rights, to issue a statement refuting the claims by Human Rights Watch. (Egypt Today). A few days later, the Biden administration blocked $130 million in security aid over Egypt’s human rights record but promised to release $75 million because of Egyptian authorities’ steps to free political prisoners. (Washington Post). Egyptian authorities ordered the release of 46 political prisoners around the same time the U.S. made its announcement. (AP via The Washington Post). Tariq Al-Awad, a prominent left-wing activist and lawyer, and Ahmed al-Najdi, an Al Jazeera journalist, were among those released. (AFP via Barron’s) (Al Jazeera). Human Rights Watch issued a statement saying that the Biden administration’s blocking of aid did not go far enough. (HRW).       

There were two reports this week about how Libyan authorities are treating detainees from other African countries. The Guardian reports a “roundup” of at least 400 Chadian workers in the east Libyan town of Ajdabiya in apparent retaliation for Chadian authorities’ arrest of four Libyan poachers. (The Guardian). And Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement confirming that they have been granted consular access to 20 Ghanaians currently in Libyan prisons for a variety of crimes. (BBC via GhanaWeb). 

The CEO and COO of Canadian mining company Trevali Mining Corp. have resigned after two of the company’s executives in Burkina Faso were convicted in a Burkinabé court of involuntary manslaughter. The conviction relates to a flooding disaster at the company’s Perkoa mine that killed eight workers in April.  (Reuters) (CBC) (Financial Post).  

The Nigerian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has paid 289 million naira (about $700,000 USD) in compensation to victims of police brutality. The NHRC’s panel that issued the order was constituted in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria. (BBC via The Star Kenya) (Premium Times Nigeria).       

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

In Kenya, William Ruto was formally inaugurated. (AP via NPR). On the eve of the ceremony, President Kenyatta finally congratulated his former deputy. (BBC via The Star Kenya). Raila Odinga did not attend the ceremony. (New York Times). 

Zambia’s chief prosecutor, an appointee of the previous administration, told the BBC feared for her life after the government withdrew her security detail. (BBC via My Joy Online). The following day, she was suspended from her role. (BBC via The Star Kenya).      

Zimbabwe is escalating a crackdown on opposition in the run-up to the 2023 elections. Amnesty International criticized authorities in the country for bringing “sinister charges” against University of Zimbabwe students who protested high fees. (Amnesty International). Three opposition activists were also kidnapped and later released, only to be charged with “spreading falsehoods to tarnish the country’s image” after stating they had been kidnapped. Amnesty International has launched a campaign to demand justice for the three. This week, a court denied their application for the dismissal of the charges. (Amnesty International) (Zimbabwe Situation) (Newsday Zimbabwe). This week, the United States announced the removal of 11 persons from, and the addition of one person to, the Specially Designated Nationals list for Zimbabwe sanctions. (State Dep’t.). The State Department’s announcement comes one week after the UN Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights issued a report criticizing, in part, US sanctions against Zimbabwe. (Report via OHCHR).

Tunisian president Kais Saied has “issued” a new electoral law, which reduces the power of political parties. The law is authorized by the new constitution that he ushered in by a rigged referendum on the one-year anniversary of his assumption of emergency powers. (AFP via France24) (AP via Arab News). 

The UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Burundi has called on Burundian authorities to “initiate reforms and a credible and inclusive democratization process in Burundi.”  (Statement via OHCHR) (UN News).

The Burkinabé junta has Burkinabe defense minister fired has fired the country’s defense minister over the failure to control jihadist violence in the country. (AFP via Le Monde).

Business Legal News

A Nigerian court has enjoined elections for Nigeria’s football federation. The underlying lawsuit relates to a complaint that two factions of a players’ union are not allowed to participate in the elections.  The elections were recently the subject of a bomb threat if the election proceeded. (BBC). 

Foreign Policy

Amnesty International has called on the UN and AU to “prioritize justice, truth, and reparations in Ethiopia” in a statement. (Amnesty International). The statement was released one day after the Ethiopian New Year, when the State Department issued a statement encouraging a continuation of the progress on peace talks. (State Dep’t.). Both statements appear to be premature, as a ceasefire has not yet taken hold. Tigrayans finally agreed to an immediate ceasefire without preconditions (CNN), but a few days later, Eritrea began calling conscripts to the border with Tigray. (BBC) (Reuters). In the meantime, Kenyan ex-president Uhuru Kenyatta has been appointed a peace envoy to the conflicts in Ethiopia and the Eastern DRC. (Addis Standard).

Ivory Coast and Mali remain at odds over Mali’s detention of Ivorian soldiers being sent to a UN mission in the country. The troops were arrested at Bamako airport and accused of being mercenaries. All but three women from the group remain in detention since July 10. This week, Ivory Coast accused Mali of “blackmail” (Africa News), while Mali issued reciprocal allegations of “intimidation” against Ivory Coast (VOA).  

President Biden met with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at the White House. (Readout via White House) (Biden Remarks via White House) (AP via US News) (Al Jazeera).  

Shortly after being inaugurated as President, William Ruto issued a tweet purporting to change Kenya’s policy with respect to Western Sahara, revoking its support for Sahrawai independence. The tweet was subsequently deleted and has been viewed as an error. Ruto issued the tweet after a meeting with Moroccan diplomats. (The Africa Report) (Africa News).

Other Items of Note

Uganda has paid a first installment of $325 million in war reparations to the DRC following a ruling by the International Court of Justice. (Al Jazeera) (Reuters via Africa News).                   


11 September 2022

Human Rights

Amnesty International has called on Algerian authorities to drop all charges pending against 18 members of the Ahmadi religion, who are being charged with “participating in an unauthorized group” and “denigrating Islam.” Their trial was initially scheduled for September 6 but has been postponed to September 13. (Amnesty International).

Egyptian authorities have charged the editor of independent outlet Mada Masr and three journalists after the outlet published an article implicating senior officials of a pro-government political party in “grave financial  violations.” (BBC) (New York Times) (Middle East Eye). Several NGOs have released statements calling for the release of the four journalists. (Amnesty International) (HRW) (Reporters without Borders). Also, this week, Egypt followed the lead of several gulf governments in seeking to regulate certain streaming content as “un-Islamic.” The regulation changes are perceived as targeting content on Netflix and Disney in recent years. (The National (UAE)) (BBC via The Star Kenya).

A religious court in the northern Nigerian state of Kano has ordered the arrest of a hip hop artist, an actor, and eight TikTok influencers for sharing “immoral” content online. (Channels TV) (The Will Nigeria) (The Daily Nigerian).

The Ugandan government banned and then backtracked its ban on a popular music festival. The original ban was premised on the allegation that the festival promoted homosexuality. (AFP via France24) (CNN).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

An Angolan court has rejected the opposition party’s challenge to election results declaring that the incumbent MPLA and its leader President Joao Lourenco, won a second term. (Al Jazeera) (Reuters) (Bloomberg). The opposition party, UNITA, called for protests of the ruling, while the State Department issued a statement congratulating President Lourenco. (State Dep’t.).

Kenya’s parliament convened for the first time with newly elected legislators following the country’s recent elections. (Anadolu Agency) (Bloomberg via Yahoo News). In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, President-Elect Ruto noted that President Kenyatta had not yet congratulated him. (CNN). But Kenyatta has promised a “smooth” transition of power to his former deputy. (Reuters). Secretary Blinken spoke with Ruto by phone. (Readout via State Dep’t.). Michelle Gavin published an analysis for the Council on Foreign Relations’s blog about what Ruto’s election means for Kenya. (CFR).

Equatorial Guinea’s parliament has brought forward presidential elections to November of this year. They were previously held to take place alongside legislative elections in the first quarter of 2023. President Teodoro Mbatsogo, 80, has ruled the country since 1979. (BBC via Club of Mozambique) (News Central Africa).

In South Africa, the High Court for the Western Cape has set aside President Ramaphosa’s suspension of Busisiwe Mkhwebane, holding that the unilateral action was unconstitutional unless ratified by the Constitutional Court. She was suspended after she launched a probe into the allegations that President Ramaphosa was storing millions in cash at his farm in Phala Phala. (Africa News) (Mail and Guardian) (Sunday Times) (Eyewitness News).

Burundi’s president, Evariste Ndayishimiye, has replaced his prime minister after alleging that a coup plot against him was underfoot. His chosen replacement, Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, is under EU sanctions for his role in suppressing 2015 demonstrations against Ndayishimiye’s predecessor. (Reuters) (Al Jazeera) (Le Monde).

Business Legal News

Ethiopia’s central bank introduced a ban on using foreign currency in local transactions. (Bloomberg) (Business Insider Africa) (CentralBanking.com

Foreign policy

Tigrayan forces have offered a conditional truce. (Africa News) (AFP via Barron’s). Renewed fighting has halted the delivery of aid to northern Ethiopia and Tigray in particular. (AFP via France24). The Biden administration has issued new sanctions relating to the human rights crisis in Ethiopia, while the AU has extended its envoy’s mission. (Addis Standard) (AFP via Barron’s). With respect to the Grand Renaissance Dam, an opinion piece in Al Monitor argues that Egypt is trying to disrupt Ethiopia’s military alliance with Uganda. (Al Monitor).

In advance of the COP climate summit to be held in Egypt, Secretary Kerry is traveling to Nigeria and Senegal to discuss climate issues. (State Dep’t. Media Note). A group of African leaders has called on wealthier nations to pay more for changes needed to combat climate change. (Reuters). VOA reports on the human displacement brought on by climate change on the Continent. (VOA).

Namibia and Botswana are lifting passport requirements on their border. (Independent Online) (The Namibian) (ZimLive).


4 September 2022

Events

The Pan-African Lawyers Union is celebrating its 20th anniversary on September 9 in Addis Ababa. There are virtual participation options as well (PALU website).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Kenya’s Supreme Court rejected Raila Odinga’s challenge to the declaration that William Ruto had won the presidential election. In recent decades, Kenya has seen relative peace except at election time, in which Odinga was a perennial opponent of current president Uhuru Kenyatta. In 2017, Kenya’s Supreme Court ordered a redo of the 2017 election. Although Kenyatta won the redo of that election, the precedent paved the way for the peaceful transition of power in Malawi in 2020. Seemingly as part of Kenyatta’s bargain with Odinga in the wake of 2017 elections, Kenyatta this time stepped over his deputy, William Ruto, to endorse and campaign vigorously for Odinga, but the efforts appear not to have been enough. The independent electoral commission ruled Ruto the winner of this year’s elections. Odinga immediately challenged the results as “fraudulent” but promised that he would pursue his claims only through the courts. Those claims ended with today’s Supreme Court ruling, which found the claims wholly unsupported by any evidence. (New York Times) (Washington Post) (The Guardian) (Reuters). The U.S. State Department swiftly issued a statement “commend[ing] Raila Odinga and other candidates for abiding by the Supreme Court ruling” (State Dep’t.). The independent electoral commission issued a statement decrying the abuse that election officials have suffered in the past weeks, including abduction, killings, and severe forms of harassment. (IEBC Statement). The Kenyan Supreme Court issued a media summary statement, and the text of the Court’s decision is expected to be released any moment. The proceedings can be watched on YouTube.

Angola’s electoral commission declared the MPLA the winner of the country’s August elections, continuing the party’s 47-year reign. (BBC) (Reuters). The State Department issued a statement falling short of describing the results as “free and fair,” but also not overtly challenging their legitimacy. (State Dep’t.). The opposition has filed a legal challenge to the results. (Al Jazeera) (AFP via The Monitor Uganda) (AP via VOA).

Zambian police have arrested opposition activist and politician Sean Tembo for “defaming the President” in comments he made via TikTok, though he appears not to have been formally charged. (Lusaka Times). Human rights groups in Zambia have characterized the arrest as “unacceptable.” (Phoenix FM Zimbabwe). The arrest came almost immediately after the IMF approved a new $1.3 billion USD credit facility for the country. (IMF) (AFP via The East African) (Bloomberg) (Reuters). The package was part of the new platform for President Hichilema, who was elected in 2021 after running for and losing the office four times. In 2017, Hichilema was arrested and charged with treason, and his victory over an incumbent who had tried to rig the polls in 2021 was seen as a positive step for the rule of law).

A Malawian court has sentenced former electoral commissioner Linda Kunje to 18 months in prison for obstructing the presidential convoy of President Lazarus Chakwera in 2020. (Malawi24) (The Times Malawi) (Nyasa Times).

After a breakthrough agreement last week, Chad’s national dialogue has been suspended. (AFP via Barron’s) (All Africa) (BBC via Business Ghana) (opinion via  Le Journal de l’Afrique).

Libya’s political crisis persists. At least 32 were killed in clashes last week, and the clashes continued this week. (New York Times) (Wall Street Journal) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera).

South African prosecutors charged two former top executives at the state rail and ports operator with fraud and other corruption-related crimes. The charges relate to the awarding of a contract to a consortium led by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. for advice on the purchase more than 1,000 locomotives. (Bloomberg) (Empire Online) (Africa News).

Zimbabwean opposition MP has fallen ill in detention, with his family alleging that he was poisoned. (VOA Zimbabwe) (AP via Washington Post) (New Zimbabwe) (News24). Zimbabwe is already in election season, with elections expected to be called sometime between now and July 2023.

Human Rights

Sudanese journalists have formed the country’s first independent union in more than 30 years. (The Guardian) (Reuters via Arab News) (AFP via Middle East Eye) (Anadolu Agency).

In Madagascar, police shot protesters, killing at least 19. The protesters in a group of approximately 500, were protesting the recent kidnapping of an albino child. (AFP via VOA) (Reuters).

Human Rights Watch continues to focus on the rights of pregnant girls and mothers to attend school. (HRW) (The Point Gambia). This week, the NGO released an interactive index of the issue across Africa. Human Rights Watch also praised a 2019 order in Niger directing schools to allow married and pregnant girls to continue school. (HRW).

Human Rights Watch called attention to a new series of extrajudicial executions carried out by Egyptian police, this time as part of military operations in North Sinai against an ISIS affiliate. The latest report is prompted by videos that circulated in July and August showing government-aligned militias executing shackled and wounded men (HRW).

Foreign policy

In northern Ethiopia, fighting appears to be returning to pre-ceasefire levels. This week, hospital officials in Mekelle alleged that the hospital was targeted by a federal drone strike. (Ethiopia Observer) (Al Jazeera) (AFP via Barron’s) (Reuters) (VOA). The Sudanese foreign ministry summoned the Ethiopian ambassador following the Ethiopian army’s announcement two weeks ago that it had shot down a plane carrying “weapons” to Tigray from Sudan. (Sudanese Foreign Ministry) (Sudan Tribune) (Xinhua) (Africa News). Tigrayan forces have opened a new front near Kobo, in Amhara. (Reuters) (BBC) (TeleSur). A front has also opened near the border between Tigray and Eritrea, where it seems that Eritrea remains a belligerent. (Reuters). Although 23,000 metric tons of Ukrainian wheat just reached Djibouti this week (State Dep’t.), the UN reports that it has not been able to deliver any aid by road since the middle of last week. (BBC via The Star Kenya). Kenneth Roth, former Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, published an opinion piece in Foreign Policy calling for African institutions to “do their part” to end Ethiopia’s “abusive Tigray siege.” (Kenneth Roth in Foreign Policy) (see also Africa Brief in Foreign Policy). The United States is sending Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Mike Hammer to Ethiopia from September 4 to 15. (State Dep’t.) (France24). The new wave of fighting in the country’s north has also apparently led to renewed fighting in Oromia, where gunmen apparently affiliated with the Oromo Liberation Army launched a new wave of attacks, leading to the deaths of at least 42 people in Oromo-Amhara clashes. (Addis Standard) (AP via ABC News) (Al Jazeera) (Reuters via VOA). Human Rights Watch has called for independent inquiries and further efforts to protect the surviving residents of the towns that have seen clashes. (HRW).

The agenda for U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barabar Leaf to Tunisia appeared to pay only lip service to democracy and rule-of-law issues raised by President Kais Saied’s recent referendum, focusing mostly on Middle East politics. (State Dep’t.). Reports from Secretary Leaf’s visit were more mixed, noting that she did seem to tie trade matters to Tunisia’s human rights progress. (The National News) (Middle East Monitor).

Mali released three of the 49 Ivorian soldiers it detained at Bamako airport en route to a UN peacekeeping mission. The three soldiers released were all women. (Al Jazeera) (Reuters) (AP via VOA). A MINUSMA report this week alleged that at least 50 civilians were killed as part of a Malian operation in central Mali. The report also implicates “foreign troops,” likely affiliated with the Russia-backed Wagner Group. (France24) (Al Jazeera) (Reuters). According to a report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, Mali’s junta has not been any more successful at defeating Islamist insurgents than the French were. (ACSS via Reliefweb). This week, Malian authorities announced that they will negotiate with rebel groups. (Africa News). The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project has released a report on the Wagner Group’s operations in Mali. (ACLED).

Other Items of Note

To mark this year’s International Day for People of African Descent, Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo keynoted a meeting of diplomats, activists, and civil society organizations, which released the Accra Declaration on Reparations and Racial Healing. (Ghana News Agency) (Business Ghana).

After a Nigerian court blocked the extradition of former celebrity police officer Abba Kyari to the United States on charges relating to an internet fraud scheme (The Guardian Nigeria) (Business Day Nigeria) (Vanguard Nigeria), the Nigerian federal government has filed 24 fresh charges against Kyari and seized 14 assets allegedly associated with him, including shopping malls, residential real estate, and farmland. (The Punch Nigeria)


28 August 2022

Human Rights

The International Federation for Human Rights has issued a joint note along with Lawyers without Borders Canada and Amnesty International calling on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to take further action on the human rights situation in Mali, and denounce human rights violations including “serious crimes committed against the civilian population and the impunity for these crimes, as well as the restrictions placed on civic space in the context of the [post-coup] transition.” (FIDH).

In the DRC, Congolese environmental groups issued a statement that they faced “direct threats” due to their opposition to a government-sponsored auction last month of 30 oil and gas blocks. (Joint Statement via Greenpeace) (Africa News) (Development Diaries) (African Arguments op-ed via All Africa).

Former Tunisian Religious Affairs Minister Nouredine Mkhademi is staging a sit-in protest at Carthage airport after he was stopped by police at the airport en route to Qatar on a purported travel ban against him, despite his having no record of ever having been notified of such a ban. (BBC) (Africa News Watch).

The Eritrean government has seized control of a Catholic technical school, in apparent retaliation for the Catholic Church’s calls for political reforms. (BBC via Eritrea Hub).

The Tanzania Railways Corporation’s firing of Jonas Afumwisye, a regional manager who expressed his opposition to a mobile money transaction tax on social media, has garnered press attention. (The Citizen) (Africa News) (BBC via The Star Kenya).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga has filed a formal challenge to the election results declared last week, indicating his opponent William Ruto as the winner. (Al Jazeera) (BBC) (Reuters) (AP via PBS). Despite his heated rhetoric in calling the results “fraudulent” and “criminal,” Odinga has committed to a peaceful resolution of his claims. (Xinhua). The Washington Post published an analysis of the election results. (Washington Post). In non-presidential races, a record number of women were elected. (The Guardian).

With 97% of the vote counted, Angola’s ruling MPLA party leads the opposition UNITA by 51 percent to 44.5 percent, and the MPLA has declared victory. Opposition leader Costa Junior has alleged “brutal” discrepancies between his campaign’s counts and the official preliminary results. (Al Jazeera) (Financial Times) (VOA) (BBC) (Bloomberg). There has been relative calm as the votes have been counted, notwithstanding the closeness of the preliminary results immediately after election day. (Africa News) (Bloomberg). Former president José dos Santos’s body was returned to the country on Saturday after Friday passed without a challenge to a Spanish court ruling authorizing the return. A funeral service attended by foreign and domestic dignitaries was held earlier today. (Deutsche Welle) (VOA) (Reuters).

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan made a 5-day visit to Sudan to discuss the military government’s cooperation with the court. (Dabanga Sudan) (Sudan Tribune) (Karim Khan Report to UNSC). This week, the United States sent its first ambassador to Sudan in 25 years, John Godfrey, to his post. (Sudan Tribune) (Anadolu Agency) (AFP via The National UAE).

Foreign policy

A de facto 5-month ceasefire in Tigray was broken this week, with both sides blaming the other for the return to fighting. (Al Jazeera) (Africa News) (Reuters) (AP). The State Department issued a statement of concern, while UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for a cessation of hostilities. African Union Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat called for de-escalation. (State Dep’t.) (AP via Washington Post) (Al Jazeera). General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, visited Ethiopia after the outbreak of fresh hostilities, where he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Kainerugaba is perceived as being groomed to succeed his father. He had previously tweeted in support of Tigrayan forces, but his comments were walked back by the administration. (The East African) (Fana Broadcasting Corporation (state media)). Ethiopian forces shot down a plane coming from Sudan, with the Ethiopian government claiming that the plane held weapons for the TPLF. (Bloomberg) (Africa News) (The Defense Post). Staff at a nearby hospital are reporting that an Ethiopian airstrike hit a playground in Tigray, killing at least seven. (The Guardian) (New York Times) (Reuters) (AP via Washington Post). The head of the World Food Programme accused TPLF forces of stealing fuel from WFP trucks, which allegations the TPLF has denied. (UN News) (VOA) (Ethiopia Observer). Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization, who is Tigrayan and has periodically commented on the conflict, noted that he was unable to send money to certain starving family members in the region. (AP via PBS).

While visiting Algeria, French president Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a commission headed by historians to study colonial-era wrongdoing. (AP) (Al Jazeera) (Financial Times) (France24) (Politico EU) (Reuters). The announcement is part of an effort to “reset” relations with Algeria, as it becomes a more important source of European energy in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Morocco has recalled its ambassador to Tunisia after Tunisian president Kais Saied hosted Brahim Ghali, the head of the Polisario Front, for talks in Tunis. Algeria is widely considered a sponsor of the Polisario Front. (AFP via Barron’s) (Reuters).

China has agreed to waive payments on 23 loans to 17 African countries. The specifics of the relief package are not publicly disclosed. (Xinhua via South China Morning Post) (The Africa Report) (Bloomberg) (Quartz Africa) (VOA.

Germany’s foreign minister accused Russian mercenaries of exacerbating instability in Mali. (Bloomberg).

Other Items of Note

Following an agreement in principle, Germany signed a deal this week to transfer ownership of 512 Benin Bronzes currently being held in Germany to the Nigerian government. They should be physically returned sometime this calendar year. (Reuters) (Ebony) (Deutsche Welle) (Al Jazeera).

The United States entered into an agreement with the Nigerian government to repatriate $23 million in wealth stolen by former Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha. (Dep’t. of Justice) (Reuters) (Tribune Online) (Premium Times) (The Punch Nigeria).


21 August 2022

Events

Wednesday, August 25, at 4 p.m. South Africa Standard Time/10:00 Eastern time  — In connection with South Africa’s National Women’s Month, the Vance Center is hosting a webinar on Eliminating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. (Zoom Registration).

Human Rights

Nigeria’s National Broadcasting Corporation (“NBC”) revoked the license of 52 broadcast stations in the country for failure to pay licensing fees. (VOA). Several media and civil society groups quickly and forcefully condemned the action. (PR Nigeria) (ICIR Nigeria) (The Guardian Nigeria). In response to the pushback, the NBC gave the stations until Tuesday to pay their fees. (Premium Times Nigeria).

An email circulated in the UK press this week shows that British ministers who approved the Rwanda asylum plan were warned by their own adviser that the Rwandan government tortures and kills political opponents. The UK’s plan to send certain asylum-seekers to Rwanda is currently being challenged in UK and European courts. (BBC) (The Sunday Times) (The Mirror).

Amnesty International is calling on Equatorial Guinea authorities to end a program, dubbed a “Cleaning Operation” targeted at certain gang activity. Amnesty argues that the program has been used to arbitrarily arrest, detain, and torture youth in the country, and the targeting of gang activity is pretextual. (Amnesty International).

Human Rights Watch is calling on Cameroonian authorities to clarify the status of Anglophone peace activist Abdul Karim Ali, who has been detained and questioned without access to his lawyers. He is accused of “apology of terrorism,” because his phone had video footage showing alleged human rights abuses committed by a Cameroonian soldier against civilians. No formal charges have been brought. Ali was previously detained incommunicado in 2019 and released only after substantial international pressure. (HRW).

Two Burkinabe human rights groups accused the country’s soldiers of massacring more than 40 villagers, mostly of Fulani ethnicity. (The Defense Post) (Genocide Watch).

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

The chair of Kenya’s electoral commission declared William Ruto the winner of the country’s August 9 presidential election, with 50.5% of the vote in a “free and fair election.” (BBC) (New York Times) (Financial Times) (CNN).  Despite fears that Kenya would see a repeat of its past election-related violence, riots in response to the announcement have been limited. Raila Odinga, his principal opponent, has rejected the results and announced his intention to challenge them in the courts. (Bloomberg) (Washington Post) (VOA) (Reuters). Odinga has seven days from the results announcement in which to file a legal challenge. (The Monitor Uganda). The United States promptly recognized the declared outcome, and a congressional delegation led by Senator Chris Coons met with Ruto during the Kenya leg of their Africa trip this week. Senator Coons has also been trying to mediate between Ruto and Odinga, after having helped reach a similar agreement between President Kenyatta and Mr. Odinga in 2018. (The East African) (AP via Yahoo News).

Following the July 25 referendum orchestrated by Tunisian president Kais Saied to give himself more powers after he suspended the parliament last year, the new constitution takes effect this week. (Reuters). Also, this week, Amnesty International called on Tunisian authorities to “immediately drop all charges” against Salah Attia, a journalist who has been detained before a military court in connection with public remarks he made about President Saied and the armed forces. (Amnesty International).

Ahead of Angola’s elections next week, Amnesty International has noted an “unprecedented crackdown on human rights, including unlawful killings and arbitrary arrests.” (Amnesty International). Analysts warn of a very tense election on the horizon. (Reuters) (background from Deutsche Welle) (background from Al Jazeera). Meanwhile, a Spanish court has ruled that the body of José Eduardo dos Santos can be returned to Angola. Santos died in Barcelona in early July, setting off a dispute among his heirs over whether he should be buried in Spain or Angola, with apparent implications for the elections. A judicially ordered autopsy uncovered no foul play, and this week’s ruling clears the return of his body to Angola as a result. Although the body can be returned as soon as Friday, Welwitschia dos Santos has appealed the decision after alleging that her father was murdered. (New York Times).

Guinean authorities are denying allegations that they shot dead two teenage protesters engaged in anti-junta protests this week. Opposition groups have called for fresh protests in response to the killings. (AFP via Barron’s) (BBC via The Star Kenya).

Sierra Leone’s APC party, formerly in power and now in opposition, called for an independent investigation into the killing of one of its members in last week’s riots. (Africa News) (AFP via Al Arabiya).

A Ugandan court has denied bail to MP Job Sikhala on charges that Amnesty International has described as “political” and a “travesty of justice.” (AFP via Yahoo News) (Zimbabwe Situation).

Foreign policy

France’s last Operation Barkhane troops left Mali this week. (Al Jazeera) (AP via Washington Post) (New York Times). Two days after France’s withdrawal, Malian authorities accused the French of violating Malian airspace and “delivering weapons to armed groups.” (Al Jazeera). Mali has also formally charged 49 Ivorian troops with acting as mercenaries. The troops were arrested at Bamako airport en route to join a UN peacekeeping force. The soldiers have been detained since July. (UN News) (Al Jazeera) (AP via Washington Post) (VOA) (RFI).

Ethiopian diplomats have reiterated their call for a formal ceasefire without preconditions, while Tigrayan authorities continue to call for the restoration of certain basic services before dialogue can begin. (Al Jazeera) (AFP via Al Arabiya).

Other Items of Note

The United States has imposed sanctions on three Liberian government officials, including President Weah’s chief of staff, for “ongoing involvement in public corruption.” (State Dep’t.) (Reuters) (Al Jazeera). President Weah has suspended the three officials. (VOA).

A UN judge has set September 29 for the opening of the trial of Felicien Kabuga for his role in financing the 1994 Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi. The trial will take place in The Hague before the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. (New Times Rwanda) (AFP via Barron’s).


14 August 2022

Events

In connection with South Africa’s National Women’s Month, the Vance Center is hosting a two-part webinar series on Eliminating Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. The first webinar will be Wednesday, August 17, at 4 p.m. South Africa Standard Time/10:00 Eastern time. (Zoom Registration). The second webinar will be at the same time the following Wednesday, August 25. (Zoom Registration) The registration links for both installments are separate, and a flyer is attached.

Human Rights

At least 21 protesters and four police officers have been killed during anti-government protests in Sierra Leone on Wednesday. The protests targeted inflation and the rising cost of living, while the government has sought to describe the protesters as “terrorists.” (CNN) (background from  Al Jazeera). There was calm on Thursday, but violence broke out again on Friday, and the government imposed a nationwide curfew on Friday. (New York TImes). Sierra Leone’s president has called the protests an attempt to “overthrow” the government. (Reuters). UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet promptly issued a statement expressing “alarm” at reported deaths and calling on the government to conduct “prompt, impartial, and thorough investigations.” (UN OHCHR Press Release). Amnesty International has also called for a “robust” and impartial investigation. (Amnesty International).

As noted below under the Foreign Policy section, Secretary Blinken made headlines in his comments on Rwanda’s human rights situation.

There were also widespread protests in Somaliland, where opposition groups have accused the government of maneuvering to postpone elections scheduled for November. Somaliland police opened fire on protesters, and at least five have been killed and many more injured in clashes with the police. (Reuters) (Al Jazeera) (VOA).

The Ugandan government has suspended Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the country’s largest LGBTQ+ advocacy group. The group has characterized the suspension as a “witch hunt.” (Pink News) (CNN)  (The Guardian) (Xtra Magazine). Human Rights Watch has called on the Ugandan government to allow SMUG to operate freely and without harassment. (HRW).  

Human Rights Watch has issued a report on summary executions carried out by Cameroonian soldiers in the country’s Northwest Region between April 24 and June 12. (HRW). The report has been picked up by the press. (VOA) (Deutsche Welle) (AFP via Barron’s).    

Constitutional Politics and Rule of Law

Kenyans went to the polls on Tuesday, and the vote count for the presidency is, as of today, neck-and-neck. (BBC via Yahoo News) (Al Jazeera) (live updates from BBC). William Ruto earlier today gained a small lead over Raila Odinga. (Reuters). The tallying process is slower than usual, leading to some frustration and finger-pointing over the process. (New York Times) (CNN). While the world still waits for the presidential results, many downballot races have already been called, and Kenya has already elected a record number of female governors. (Al Jazeera). It is unclear if Secretary Blinken’s Saturday call with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is term-limited out from running for reelection, was prompted by the election or Secretary Blinken’s visit to the continent this week as part of a diplomatic tour. (State Dep’t. Readout).  

Qatari-sponsored peace talks have finally borne fruit, as the Chadian junta signed a peace deal with more than 40 rebel groups in Doha. The military junta, headed by the son of former president Idriss Deby, assumed power following the latter’s death, circumventing the line of succession mandated by the country’s constitution. (CNN) (Al Jazeera) (Daily Sabah). At least 9 rebel groups, including the group FACT with whom Deby was engaged in fighting before his death, have not signed onto the peace deal. (Reuters). The U.S. State Department “commended” the peace deal in a press statement issued on the day the agreement was initially reported, and referenced the agreement. (State Dep’t.). A few days later, the State Department reiterated support in its Chad National Day statement for the “people of Chad in their pursuit of an inclusive national dialogue, a new constitution, and free and fair elections that are conducted peacefully and are consistent with the May 2021 African Union Communiqué on Chad.” (State Dep’t.). 

Guinea’s military junta has “dissolved” the FNDC, coalition of political parties, trade unions, and civil groups formed in the country following the coup last September. (The Africa Report) (VOA) (RFI). A Human Rights Watch analyst noted in a statement that the move will “only further undermine democracy by discouraging any meaningful opposition,” while Amnesty International issued a statement indicating “surprise” at the government’s accusations against FNDC based on its monitoring of recent FNDC demonstrations. (HRW) (Amnesty International).

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has issued a presidential pardon to his predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo, “in order to strengthen social cohesion.” (Al Jazeera) (Le Journal de l’Afrique) (AFP via Barron’s). The move is seen as part of reconciliation efforts ahead of 2025 elections. The election dispute between Gbagbo and Ouattara in 2010 led to the Second Ivorian Civil War. In 2020, Ouattara ran for an unconstitutional third term after his chosen successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly died in October 2020. Gbagbo was barred by the country’s Constitutional Council from running in those elections. Gbagbo was acquitted by the ICC on atrocity crimes relating to the Second Ivorian Civil War in January 2019, and that acquittal was affirmed on appeal in March 2021. (ICC).

On June 1 and in advance of his constitutional referendum, Tunisian President Kais Saied purported to dismiss 57 judges in a presidential decree. 53 of the judges filed administrative appeals. This week, an administrative court “suspended” the dismissal of 48 of the 53. (North Africa Post) (African Leadership Magazine) (Africa News).

Human Rights Watch called on Malian transitional authorities to abide by the two-year timeline they have committed to. The statement by the NGO also links to a copy of Malian authorities’ response to an August 6 open letter requesting comments regarding the junta’s commitment to human rights. (HRW).

Foreign policy

Mali’s junta has issued a new approval mechanism for UN troops, paving the way for the resumption of UN peacekeeping activities in the country. (Africa News) (Reuters) (France24). After Mali invoked the new procedures to prevent 110 German peacekeepers from leaving the country, Germany announced that it will suspend its military mission in the country. (Bloomberg). The development does not resolve the predicament of 49 Ivorian soldiers who were detained at Bamako airport en route to a UN peacekeeping force in Mali. Malian authorities have accused the soldiers of being “mercenaries.” (Africa News).

The Ethiopian federal government has told the African Union that they have had “direct engagements” with Tigrayan leaders (AFP via Yahoo News), but Tigrayans have denied the existence of such talks (AFP via France24).

Following Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s Africa tour, U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken visited South Africa, the DRC, and Rwanda this week, and spoke by phone with other African leaders. (AP via Washington Post) (The Guardian) (BBC) (The Eas­­­­­­­t African) (Readout of Meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa) (Readout of Meeting with DRC Prime Minister Jean-MIchel Sama Lukonde) (Readout of Phone Call with Republic of the Congo President Denis Sassou N’Guesso) (Readout of Phone Call with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta). During an interview in the DRC, Secretary Blinken discussed the conflict in the easter part of the country, where Congolese authorities have accused the Rwandan government of backing M23 rebels. (The Monitor Uganda). In advance of the trip, Human Rights Watch called on Secretary Blinken to address Rwanda’s human rights record, including its support for “abusive operations” by M23 in the Eastern DRC. (HRW). Secretary Blinken did so at a press briefing in Kigali, the last stop of his tour, where the Associated Press reports that he also lobbied the Rwandan government for the release of Paul Rusesabagina. (AP).    

Other Items of Note

Human Rights Watch notes that increasing insecurity with increasing proximity to the seat of the government in Abuja, is “causing fear and apprehension among citizens” in the capital district. HRW called on the government to “ensure adequate security for all civilians whil­­­­-­­­­e respecting human rights.” (HRW).   

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