Africa This Week 12822: Kenya presidential election, Moroccan oil outburst, Nigerian artefacts repatriation, and others

Early results from Tuesday’s Kenya election have indicated that veteran opposition politician Raila Odinga and the deputy president, William Ruto, are locked in a tight race for the country’s  presidential seat. According to the country’s national media updates, the deputy president, Ruto  is performing better than polls, Ruto is in the lead, at roughly 52%, with Odinga a close second at 47%. Analysts say the race is still too early to conclude, with results from only a little more than a third of polling centres. To win the elections in the first round, the candidates would need to secure more than 50% of the total votes cast and at least 25% of the votes from 24 of Kenya’s 47 counties. A run-off election would be held in 30 days if there is no outright winner. Unfortunately, Kenyan youths, who make up 75% of the population of the country, decided not to vote in the elections this year, with an increasing number of them claiming they do not view elections as a means of bringing about change.

Thousands of Moroccans have accused Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch of benefiting from soaring oil prices and are now calling for his removal. The call for the 61-year-old head of government’s resignation has already been trending on social media and shared by nearly 600,000 accounts on Facebook. Accompanied by a demand to halve the price of petrol and diesel, the virtual campaign did not result in demonstrations but triggered a political and media controversy, fuelled by opposition unions and parliamentarians. Meanwhile, the government has justified that the high cost of living was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as an unprecedented drought affecting agriculture, a key sector of the country.

Following the June 5th attack at St. Francis Catholic Church in southwestern Nigeria that left at least 40 people dead and many injured, security forces in Nigeria have confirmed the arrest of several suspects.The Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, who made the disclosure Tuesday during a parley with media executives at the Defence Headquarters, Abuja, said the suspects were arrested in a joint operation by the army, police and other security forces. For the past 12 years, the north-east of Nigeria has been the scene of a jihadist insurgency that has killed more than 40,000 people and displaced two million.

In Guinea, a call for demonstrations by the National Front for the Defence of the Constitution—a major group that has been opposing the ruling junta in Guinea for several months—has led the Guinean government to dissolve its operations. Signing the document of its dissolution, the country’s minister of territorial administration and decentralization, Mory Condé, said the order of dissolution takes effect from the date of its signature. The National Front for the Defence of the Constitution (FNDC) is a coalition of parties, trade unions, and civil society organizations, and was formed at the initiative of the demonstrations organized to denounce the absence of “credible dialogue” between the junta, political parties, and civil society. In the past, they have also spearheaded the protest against former President Conde.

Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, has dissociated himself from a viral post claiming he had written to the presidential candidate of the ruling All Progressive Congress in the 2023 general elections, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to support Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi. Akufo-Addo stated that he did not write the post and will not meddle in Nigeria’s internal affairs or politics.

The Malian government declared a three-day national mourning on Thursday following the deadliest recent attacks by Islamist militants in the northern region of Gao. The Malian government on Thursday declared a three-day national mourning. In a statement released by the army, the terrorists said they carried out the attack using drones, artillery, and booby-trapped vehicles and left 42 soldiers dead and twenty wounded. In return, thirty-seven terrorists were neutralised by the army so far, as well as two vehicles containing equipment and their occupants were destroyed by airstrikes in a forest. Mali has been fighting off extremists for nearly a decade. Despite deliveries of military equipment, terrorists have heaped pressure on the Malian transitional authorities.

As against the earlier scheduled date, the Kenyan government has postponed the reopening of schools to next Monday due to an intense electioneering process in the country. In a statement, the country’s education minister, Prof. George Magoha, apologized to the public for any inconveniences that may have been caused by the delay. The minister noted that hundreds of primary and secondary schools are normally used as polling stations in Kenya and that the government was keen on “ensuring the safety and comfort of learners through this period”. The decision to close schools last week abruptly caught many schools and parents unawares, leading to chaotic scenes as parents hastened to pick their children up from schools at short notice.

In Tunisia, the judiciary on Wednesday suspended the dismissal of some 50 judges, earlier dismissed in June 2021 by President Kais Saied, accusing them of corruption and obstructing several investigations. Mr. Saied took over all powers a year ago and dismissed them through a presidential decree. While fifty-three judges had filed appeals against their dismissal with the administrative court, lawyer Kamel Ben Messoud, from the defence committee of the dismissed judges, said that “about 50 judges” will be able to resume their functions as soon as they receive a copy of the verdict. Until the suspension, the dismissal of these magistrates had been denounced by several NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, as a “direct attack on the rule of law” and had led to more than a month’s well-attended strike by magistrates.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens in southeast London said that it would transfer a collection of 72 items to the Nigerian government. This decision comes after Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments formally asked for the artifacts to be returned earlier this year and following a consultation with community members, artists, and schoolchildren in Nigeria and the U.K. In a statement released by the chair of the museum’s board of trustees, Eve Salomon, he said that the evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria. The Horniman’s collection is a small part of the 3,000 to 5,000 artifacts taken from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897 when British soldiers attacked and occupied Benin City as Britain expanded its political and commercial influence in West Africa. The artifacts include plaques, animal and human figures, and items of royal regalia made from brass and bronze by artists working for the royal court of Benin.

Despite continuing objections by Egypt and Sudan over the project, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kicked started electricity production from the second turbine at its controversial mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Thursday. The prime minister also confirmed that a third filling of the multi-billion dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was under way, a development that led Egypt last month to protest at the UN Security Council. The electricity production move came even though there is still no agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors, Egypt and Sudan, about the GERD’s operations. Both neighboring countries have feared it could threaten their access to vital Nile waters and have demanded a written agreement between them and Ethiopia. Ethiopia first began generating electricity at the dam in February. This is the third time the country will be filling the $4.2 billion dam, and it is said to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa.


Writer, journalist, and legal researcher, Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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