Wife of former Gabonese President jailed on money laundering and forgery charges; A Senegalese court overturned the removal of Ousmane Sonko from the electoral rolls; High Court of Madagascar ordered the moving of the first round of the presidential election from November 9 to November 16, and others
Liberians voted on Tuesday in a presidential election that pitted incumbent George Weah against 11 challengers. Weah, a former soccer star, seeks a second term amid criticism over corruption and economic woes in Africa’s oldest independent republic. The National Elections Commission (NEC) said turnout was high and the voting was peaceful, but some logistical problems delayed the process in some areas. The counting of votes began after dark, and provisional results are expected on Wednesday. The winner must secure over 50% of the votes cast to avoid a runoff.
Sylvia Bongo, the wife of former Gabonese President Ali Bongo, was jailed on Friday on money laundering and forgery charges. She was arrested after a military coup that toppled her husband’s regime in late August. The coup leaders accused her and her son, Noureddin, of being the country’s real rulers and embezzling public funds. Noureddin and six former presidential aides are also in custody. Sylvia Bongo’s lawyer is seeking her release on bail, but a ten-day hearing has been postponed. The coup occurred shortly after Ali Bongo was re-elected amid allegations of fraud.
Thousands of people in Ghana’s southeast were forced to flee their homes due to severe flooding caused by the Akosombo Dam on Friday. The dam, which controls the water level of the River Volta, overflowed after heavy rains in the region. The floodwaters destroyed houses and crops along the riverbanks and cut off water and electricity supplies in some areas. According to local media, the Ghanaian government said that nine districts were affected by the disaster and that seven people were injured.
A court in Senegal overturned the removal of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko from the electoral rolls on Thursday evening, allowing him to run for president in 2024. Sonko, who came in third in the 2019 election, was barred from the polls after being convicted of debauching a minor in June. He is also facing other charges, including inciting insurrection and terrorism, for his alleged role in violent protests that have rocked the country since 2021. Sonko has denied all the accusations and claimed they are part of a plot to eliminate him from the political scene. His lawyers challenged his disbarment before a court in Ziguinchor, where he was mayor and registered. The court ruled that his removal was unjustified and ordered his reinstatement immediately. However, the state’s judicial agent said that the state would appeal against the decision and that Sonko could still not be a candidate.
The draw for the group stage of the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023, was held on Thursday in Abidjan, setting up some exciting clashes for the continental tournament. Hosts Cote d’Ivoire will play regional rivals Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau in Group A. Defending champions Senegal were drawn in Group C against Cameroon, Guinea, and debutants Gambia in a tough pool. As record winners, Egypt will face Ghana, Cape Verde, and Mozambique in Group B, while Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Angola will compete in Group D. The event was attended by current and former football stars, such as Didier Drogba, Mikel Obi, Sadio Mane, and Achraf Hakimi. The AFCON 2023 will take place from January 13 to February 11, 2024, in six venues across Cote d’Ivoire.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday sent a plane carrying medical supplies for 300,000 people in the Gaza Strip to an Egyptian airport near the border as volunteers from the Resala charity organisation prepared an aid convoy to head to Rafah. The supplies will be delivered to Gaza once humanitarian access can be established via the Rafah crossing, disrupted by Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian side. Egypt has reinforced security on its border and urged Palestinians to stay on their lands as the war escalates.
The High Constitutional Court of Madagascar on Thursday ordered the first round of the presidential election to be moved from Nov. 9 to Nov. 16 without giving any reason. The second round will occur on December 20. The incumbent president, Andry Rajoelina, who is running for re-election, has opposed the change and said it suited neither him nor his party. His 11 rivals have been protesting in the capital, demanding his disqualification and changes to the election commission and the court that will handle disputes. One of them, Andry Raobelina, was injured during a demonstration last week and had to seek medical attention in Mauritius.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday announced that it will occasionally intervene in the foreign exchange market to boost liquidity and end an eight-year ban on 43 items that had been restricted from accessing forex on the official market. The ban, part of the former governor’s policies to support the naira, had been criticised as a form of capital control. The CBN also said it would clear the backlog of unsettled forex obligations to local lenders, estimated at about $7 billion. Due to dollar shortages and speculation, the naira has been under pressure on the parallel market.
At least 28 people died and more than 20 were injured when a dam collapsed in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital, on Sunday, following heavy rains. The water from a small lake flooded the Mbankolo neighbourhood, destroying homes and burying people in mud and debris. Among the victims were children attending a birthday party. Residents and rescue workers are still searching for survivors, but the authorities said the situation was under control. The minister of territorial administration said the buildings were in a high-risk zone and warned that the death toll could rise. The disaster was worsened by poverty, poor infrastructure, and climate change, making extreme weather more frequent and intense in Africa.
French military convoys this week started to leave their bases in southwest Niger, following a demand by the junta that seized power in July. The withdrawal began on Tuesday and involved 1,500 French soldiers moving by road to Chad, with security backing up Niger’s army. After weeks of pressure from the military government, France agreed to pull out its troops from Niger last month.