Africa This Week: Failed coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau; Oromia regional government accuses armed opposition group of killing civilians; U.N. Security Council votes to end mission in Sudan; British PM Sunak discusses issues of deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda at COP28 with President Kagame; U.N. Security Council to lift arms embargo on Somalia, and others
This is another Alafarika’s weekly news brief, where we look at some of the top news stories making headlines across the African continent.
President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea-Bissau announced on Saturday that the recent outbreak of gunfire and clashes in the capital was an attempted coup. The disturbances began on Thursday night and continued into Friday, following the release of an opposition minister by national guard soldiers. The minister had been detained over corruption charges. The army has since declared that order was restored on Friday afternoon. This incident mirrors a similar failed coup attempt in February 2022, which resulted in six fatalities. President Embalo, addressing the situation after returning from the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, emphasized the need to put a definitive end to such upheavals in the country, which has experienced frequent coups since its independence in 1974.
On Saturday, the Oromia regional government of Ethiopia accused the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) of killing many civilians in a series of attacks. These attacks occurred in the Shirka district on November 24 and 27, following the collapse of peace talks in Tanzania. At least 36 people were reported dead after assailants targeted three villages. Hailu Adugna, the region’s spokesman, attributed the violence to the OLA, a banned group that split from a previously outlawed opposition party. The federal government and Oromiya authorities have deployed security forces to counter the rebels. The attacks happened shortly after a second round of failed negotiations aimed at resolving a long-standing conflict. Among the casualties were 17 people in one village and 11 in another on November 24, with a farmer reporting the loss of seven family members. The attackers appeared to have targeted Orthodox Christians, with another eight, including infants, killed in a third village.
The High Constitutional Court on Friday confirmed the victory of Andry Rajoelina as Madagascar’s president for a third term after dismissing challenges to the provisional results, including one from runner-up Siteny Randrianasoloniaiko, who received 14.39% of the vote. Despite a boycott by ten candidates and less than 50% voter turnout, Rajoelina emphasized the peaceful nature of the election and the political maturity of the Malagasy people. The U.S. State Department and nine foreign embassies have acknowledged the results, urging steps towards dialogue and addressing concerns for the nation’s future peace and well-being. Former minister Hajo Andrianainarivelo, among the boycotting candidates, has pledged to challenge the perceived disrespect for legal processes and oppression.
The U.N. Security Council has voted to end the United Nations political mission in Sudan, known as UNITAMS, following a request from Sudan’s acting foreign minister. The mission will cease on December 3rd and will wind down over the next three months. This decision comes amid a war that broke out on April 15th between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces due to tensions over a plan to integrate forces for a transition to civilian democracy. Despite the mission’s end, a U.N. country team will remain to provide humanitarian and development aid to nearly half of Sudan’s population in need. The U.K. has emphasized Sudan’s responsibility for the safety of UNITAMS staff during the withdrawal. The U.N. has also appointed Ramtane Lamamra as the personal envoy for Sudan, encouraging cooperation with him from all parties. Violence in Darfur and a worsening humanitarian crisis have been highlighted by U.N. officials as major concerns.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously voted on Friday to lift the arms embargo on Somalia’s government and security forces, a measure in place since 1992. The embargo was initially established to prevent weapons from reaching warlords after the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The resolution reaffirms that there is no longer an arms embargo on the Somali government, while an embargo on al-Shabaab militants remains. Somalia’s U.N. Ambassador welcomed the decision, highlighting the opportunity to strengthen security forces against threats. The resolution also calls for the construction and refurbishment of safe ammunition storage facilities in Somalia, with international support encouraged. This move comes as Somalia’s president sets a one-year goal to expel al Shabaab ahead of the African Union peacekeepers’ departure in December 2024.
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday announced his intention to visit Angola, signaling a renewed focus on engagement with Africa amid global challenges. During an Oval Office meeting with Angolan President Joao Lourenco, Biden expressed his commitment to return to Angola, although no specific date for the visit was provided. The upcoming discussions between the two leaders are expected to cover cooperation in solar energy, infrastructure, and space, with Angola set to join the Artemis Accords for space exploration. Biden’s visit would follow his attendance at a climate conference in Egypt and Vice President Kamala Harris’s trip to Africa earlier this year.
On Friday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he discussed issues regarding the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda at the COP28 climate conference in Dubai with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. This follows a ruling by the UK Supreme Court last month that deemed the policy unlawful. Sunak is confident about the new proposals, which involve a new treaty with Rwanda and domestic legislation. The details are being finalized, and Sunak plans to present the proposals to parliament and the public soon, although no specific date has been given. The Supreme Court’s decision is a setback for Sunak, who may be facing an election next year.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) said on Wednesday it has revised its economic growth forecasts for Africa, projecting a slowdown to 3.4% in 2023 from 4% in 2022, with a slight recovery to 3.8% in 2024. This adjustment reflects the long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on food and energy prices, political instability, weak global growth, and high borrowing costs. Central Africa’s forecast saw the largest reduction due to political turmoil and conflict, while Southern Africa is expected to have the lowest growth, hindered by power cuts in South Africa. Non-commodity-exporting countries are anticipated to fare better than commodity-exporting countries.
Uganda is set to borrow $150 million from China’s Export-Import Bank to enhance its internet infrastructure, as announced by the finance ministry on Monday. The finance ministry has requested parliamentary approval for the loan, which aims to support the national data transmission backbone infrastructure. Additionally, Uganda is negotiating with the Chinese export credit agency SINOSURE and Exim Bank for a loan to construct a pipeline for exporting its crude oil.
A senior Sudanese general, Yassir al-Atta, publicly accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of supplying the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) with unspecified supplies, marking the first time the UAE’s involvement in Sudan’s internal conflict has been openly alleged. The RSF, which evolved from the Janjaweed militias, has been a significant force in the Darfur conflict. General al-Atta claims to have intelligence that the UAE has been sending planes to aid the RSF, with recent support arriving via Chad’s capital airport, Ndjamena. The UAE, however, asserts its commitment to promoting peace and providing humanitarian aid in Sudan, including establishing a field hospital in Chad.