Africa This Week: Ivory Coast’s president sacked his PM; Kenya to ask China for a $1 billion loan to complete stalled road projects; Senegal’s president dissolves government and reappoints PM Amadour Ba; Ethiopia and the EU sign a cooperation agreement worth €650 million; Liberia’s President George Weah seeks reelection, among others
On Friday, Ivory Coast’s President, Alassane Ouattara, sacked his Prime Minister, Patrick Achi, and announced a new government would be formed soon. Achi had been in office since 2021 and had survived a previous reshuffle in 2022. He had also won a local election in his region last month. The move comes two years before the next presidential election, in which Ouattara has not yet revealed his plans.
At least 30 pro-government fighters and dozens of al Shabaab militants were killed in Somalia on Wednesday in the fiercest fighting of a year-long offensive against the al Qaeda-linked group. The clashes occurred in the Shabellow forest, where the Somali forces and allied militiamen faced sniper fire and helicopter bombing. The government has been struggling to defeat al-Shabaab, which has reclaimed some territory and launched deadly attacks on military bases. The government has also asked the UN to delay a planned withdrawal of 3,000 African Union peacekeepers, citing setbacks on the battlefield.
Kenya’s President William Ruto plans to ask China for a $1 billion loan to complete stalled road construction projects when he visits Beijing later this month, his deputy said on Friday. Ruto will also request to extend the repayment periods of existing Chinese loans, which stand at more than $8 billion and have been used to build infrastructure in the country. Many of these projects have been halted due to unpaid contractor bills. Ruto’s plan marks a change in his position on Chinese debt after his coalition criticized his predecessor’s borrowing spree from China during last year’s election campaign.
Senegalese President Macky Sall has dissolved the government and reappointed Prime Minister Amadour Ba as the head of a new cabinet, according to a statement from the presidency on Friday. The statement did not give any reason for the decision.
Ethiopia and the European Union signed a cooperation agreement worth 650 million euros ($680 million) on Tuesday, after a year of strained relations due to the war in the northern Tigray region. The EU commissioner for international partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said the aid was the first step to rebuilding a mutually reinforcing partnership with Ethiopia and would support its post-war recovery and economic reforms. However, she said direct budgetary support for Ethiopia’s government remained suspended until clear political conditions were met, including a program from the International Monetary Fund. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said the partnership was back on track and thanked the EU for its support.
The High Council for the Unity of Azawad (HCUA), a predominantly Tuareg rebel group, claimed on Wednesday that it had taken control of an army camp in Taoussa, near Bourem, in the Gao region of northern Mali. A local teacher reported gunfire in the area. The HCUA is part of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), which signed a peace deal with the government in 2015 but resumed fighting in August. Several army camps have been attacked by the CMA and the Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM) in recent weeks. The army said it repelled the attackers and sent a convoy of vehicles and armored vehicles towards Kidal, a stronghold of the Tuareg rebellion. The GSIM claimed responsibility for two explosive device attacks against the convoy, which included Russian mercenaries from Wagner. The renewed hostilities come amid the withdrawal of the UN mission and the persistence of jihadist violence in Mali.
The Comoros will hold presidential and gubernatorial elections on January 14, 2024, according to an official decree issued on Wednesday. The incumbent president and current chairperson of the African Union, Azali Assoumani, is seeking re-election for a second consecutive term. However, the main opposition coalition, the Enlarged Common Front, has threatened to boycott the vote, claiming that it is a “farce” and that the conditions for a democratic and fair election are not met. The opposition demands the release of political prisoners and the return of exiles, whom Assoumani has persecuted since he came to power in 1999 through a coup d’état. The opposition also denounces the exclusion of the diaspora from the electoral process, as the courts have rejected an appeal to guarantee their right to vote.
Liberia’s President, George Weah, seeks reelection, asking voters to give him more time to deliver on his promises of progress and development in the presidential election on Tuesday. He faces 19 challengers, including his main rival, former Vice President Joseph Boakai, known as “Sleepy Joe”. Weah, who came to power in 2017 with popular support, said he had done 90% of what needed to be done, despite the coronavirus pandemic that slowed down his plans. He is campaigning for building new roads, especially in rural areas, and providing free education and health care.
Thousands of Ghanaians took to the streets of Accra on Tuesday, calling for the resignation of the central bank governor, Ernest Addison, over his handling of the economy during a severe debt crisis. The protesters, wearing red and black clothes to symbolize mourning, marched to the bank’s headquarters and played reggae music from speakers. They accused Addison and his deputies of mismanaging the Bank of Ghana, which reported a record loss of 60.8 billion cedi ($5.3 billion) for 2022, mainly due to debt restructuring.
The leader of the National Unity Platform (NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, is under house arrest after being taken from the airport in Entebbe and driven to his home in Magere on October 5. He was coming from the launch of his new book, Rich State, Poor State, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The police said they escorted him for his own security, as he had planned to mobilize a massive welcome from his supporters at the airport. Kyagulanyi said he will not give up on the struggle and that he will address the nation soon. His international lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, said they are monitoring his situation closely.