Africa This Week: Sudan’s army withdraws from positions in Wad Madani after RSF advances; Liberian President intervened to overturn Liberia’s vote against a U.N. resolution on Gaza Strip ceasefire; Guinea-Bissau’s Geraldo Martins removed as prime minister just a week after his reappointment; World Bank approved loans totaling approximately $1.14 billion for Tanzania; Angola announced departure from OPEC due to disagreements over production targets, 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.
Sudan’s army on Tuesday announced its withdrawal from positions in Wad Madani after the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) made advances in the city, triggering a mass exodus of civilians, including those displaced during an ongoing eight-month war. The RSF, gaining momentum in recent weeks, has extended its control over the Darfur region and seized territory eastwards toward the capital, Khartoum.
Liberian President George Weah this week intervened to overturn Liberia’s vote against a U.N. resolution calling for a Gaza Strip ceasefire. Liberia was the sole African nation and one of ten countries to reject the resolution. The information ministry stated that the Liberian diplomats acted without Weah’s backing, and he, as president, holds the final decision on foreign policy. Weah, expressing a commitment to peace, has requested the U.N. General Assembly to reverse the ‘NO’ vote and register a new vote in favor of the Gaza ceasefire. Weah had previously urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exercise restraint in a letter before the U.N. vote.
Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo removed Geraldo Martins as prime minister just a week after his reappointment, replacing him with former prime minister Rui Duarte de Barros, according to presidential decrees on Wednesday. The move follows the dissolution of Guinea-Bissau’s parliament by Embalo, who accused the government of passivity in response to a foiled coup on Dec. 1. Although no reason was provided for Martin’s dismissal in the decrees, sources suggest a disagreement between the prime minister and the president. De Barros, previously the country’s minister of economy and finance, as well as a commissioner at the West African Economic and Monetary Union, served as prime minister in a transitional government from 2012 to 2014.
The World Bank approved two loans totaling approximately $1.14 billion for Tanzania. The first tranche, worth $750 million under Development Policy Financing, aims to accelerate private sector growth by implementing reforms such as expediting business licensing and expanding access to affordable credit. The second portion, amounting to $385 million, will be directed towards infrastructure and institutional development in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital, to address the impacts of climate change.
France is planning to indefinitely close its embassy in Niger due to constraints imposed by the ruling junta, as revealed in a letter dated Tuesday. Relations between Niger and France have deteriorated since a coup in July toppled President Mohamed Bazoum. The junta, following tactics seen in neighboring Mali and Burkina Faso, ordered the expulsion of France’s ambassador and called for the departure of French troops. While initially ignoring the order, France later announced the ambassador’s return to Paris and the withdrawal of French troops. The embassy’s request to operate under regular conditions after the coup did not receive a favorable response from Nigerien authorities, according to the document.
The death toll from a blast and fire at an oil terminal in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, rose to 23 from the earlier reported 13, with the number of injured increasing to 241 from 178, according to a government statement on Thursday. Ten remains are yet to be identified, and reports indicate several people are still missing. Despite the incident, the government assured that gasoline distribution is ongoing across the country.
Somalia and U.S. forces this week successfully targeted and killed Maalim Ayman, a senior leader of the militant Islamist group al Shabaab, according to Somalia’s information minister. The operation took place on December 17th, with the Somali National Army receiving assistance from U.S. forces. Ayman, accountable for planning numerous terrorist attacks in Somalia and neighboring countries, had a $10 million bounty on his head as part of the U.S. State Department’s Rewards for Justice program. The U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) confirmed conducting an airstrike near Jilib town in southern Somalia against the militant group, though the specific target was yet to be officially confirmed. Ayman was implicated in planning an attack on a military base in Kenya in January 2020, resulting in the deaths of three Americans.
Angola, Africa’s second-largest oil producer, announced its departure from OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) due to disagreements over production targets. This decision deals a blow to OPEC, particularly its current chair, Saudi Arabia. Last month, OPEC lowered Angola’s oil output target as part of a broader effort led by Saudi Arabia to stabilize oil prices. The disagreement arose from attempts to lower Angola’s production baseline, reflecting declines in the country’s capacity, a move resisted by Angola. The recent departure will not significantly impact OPEC’s overall market influence, as Angola’s daily production of 1.2 million barrels represents about 2% of the total output of the OPEC+ alliance, which includes Russia. Brent, the international crude oil benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, experienced declines following the news.