Africa This Week: ICJ demands Israel prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and allow aid to reach affected populations; Liberia’s newly inaugurated president experienced heat exhaustion during inauguration speech but has since recovered; Senegal’s constitutional council finalizes list of 20 candidates for February presidential election; U.S. Secretary of State announces additional $45 million to combat conflict in coastal West Africa, and others
The International Court of Justice in the Hague issued a significant ruling on Friday, demanding that Israel prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and allow unimpeded aid to reach affected populations. The case was brought forth by South Africa, accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians. While the court stopped short of ordering a ceasefire, it mandated Israel to report on actions taken to prevent acts of genocide within Gaza within a month. The ruling on the genocide evidence itself is pending and could take years to resolve. In response, Balkees Jarrah of Human Rights Watch emphasized the urgency of the situation, calling for immediate action to prevent further atrocities against Palestinians.
Liberia’s newly inaugurated president, Joseph Boakai, experienced heat exhaustion during his inauguration speech but has since recovered and resumed his normal activities, according to the presidency. On Monday, Boakai, 79, was sworn in amidst sweltering heat in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital. Aides rushed to assist him as he paused during his speech due to exhaustion, prompting concerns about his age and energy levels. However, doctors declared him “perfectly fine” after the incident, and he has resumed his duties, including meetings with dignitaries. Despite the interruption, Boakai had already taken the oath of office before being assisted away from the podium.
Senegal’s constitutional council on Saturdayfinalized the list of 20 candidates for the upcoming presidential election in February, excluding opposition figures Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade. President Macky Sall, honoring his commitment to step down after two terms, has paved the way for a historic transition of power. Approved candidates include Sall’s chosen successor, Prime Minister Amadou Ba, as well as prominent figures like former Dakar mayor Khalifa Sall and ex-prime minister Idrissa Seck. Sonko’s exclusion stems from legal issues, sparking concerns about political motivations. With Sall and Sonko out of contention, there’s no clear frontrunner, drawing attention to Ba, Khalifa Sall, and Seck. The possibility of a runoff looms due to the likelihood of no candidate securing over 50% of the vote.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken this week announced an additional $45 million in aid to combat conflict and enhance stability in coastal West Africa, addressing rising insecurity due to jihadist insurgencies. Blinken’s African tour aims to bolster U.S.-African partnerships across various sectors, including trade, climate, and security, following a summit with African leaders in December 2022. Discussions during the trip include security challenges in West Africa, the aftermath of the Niger coup, and Russia’s increasing influence. In Ivory Coast, Blinken praised President Alassane Ouattara’s leadership in countering extremism and violence. The additional funding supplements the $300 million already invested by the U.S. in coastal West Africa over two years, focusing on military training and civil protection. Ouattara acknowledged ongoing security challenges and expressed appreciation for U.S. support in intelligence and counterterrorism efforts. The trip underscores U.S. commitment amidst regional instability, including recent military takeovers in West and Central Africa, prompting concerns about ties with Western allies and security vacuums. Blinken’s engagements also include meetings with African Development Bank officials, emphasizing collaborative efforts to address regional challenges.
The World Bank on Tuesday announced a $300 million funding approval to support Ghana’s economic recovery amid its significant debt restructuring efforts. Following a deal to restructure $5.4 billion of loans with official creditors, Ghana aims to alleviate its worst economic crisis in decades. This funding marks the initial step in a series of three $300 million operations, demonstrating the World Bank’s commitment to crisis response and resilience in Ghana. Recently, Ghana received approximately $600 million in disbursement from its $3 billion IMF bailout program, indicating ongoing international support amidst economic challenges.
On Tuesday, Russian military personnel reportedlyarrivedin Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, marking a significant deployment in the West African nation. This move comes amidst heightened attention on Burkina Faso’s relations with Moscow since it expelled French troops in 2023, potentially signaling a shift towards deeper security ties with Russia, akin to neighboring Mali. Details regarding the deployment remain scarce, although a group of 100 servicemen, purportedly aimed at ensuring the safety of Burkina Faso’s leader, Ibrahim Traore, and its people, have arrived, with an additional 200 expected soon. The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the matter. Photos circulating on Telegram depict men unloading equipment from a plane bearing a Russian flag, suggesting the arrival of Russian personnel, although Reuters has not independently verified the images.
A Kenyan court on Fridaydismissedthe government’s plan to deploy police officers to lead a UN-approved mission in Haiti, casting uncertainty over efforts to address gang violence in the Caribbean nation. The decision follows a legal challenge by an opposition party, contesting Kenya’s proposal to send 1,000 officers to tackle Haiti’s escalating crisis, marked by nearly 5,000 deaths and the displacement of around 200,000 people due to gang violence last year. High Court Judge Chacha Mwita ruled that Kenyan law mandates a “reciprocal arrangement” with the host government for officer deployment abroad, deeming the government’s actions unconstitutional. Despite the setback, the government intends to appeal the ruling, underscoring its commitment to international obligations. Haiti’s plea for assistance in 2022 received UN Security Council approval in October, but challenges persisted in finding a leading nation for the security mission amid concerns over Prime Minister Ariel Henry’s administration and previous human rights abuses. Kenya’s offer, made in July last year, garnered support from the Bahamas, Jamaica, and Antigua and Barbuda. The UN reiterated the urgency of addressing Haiti’s crisis, citing a staggering increase in gang violence and kidnappings, and urged member states to provide necessary support and funding.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with Chadian leader Mahamat Idriss Deby in the Kremlin on Wednesday, marking a significant shift as Chad, previously aligned with Western interests, engages with Russia in Africa’s Sahel region. Russia aims to reduce French influence, historically dominant in West Africa, amidst a wave of coups since 2020. Deby assumed power in 2021 after his father’s death, pledging an 18-month transition to elections, later postponed to October this year. Putin lauded Deby for stabilizing Chad and expressed readiness to enhance bilateral ties, announcing an increased number of Chadian students studying at Russian universities. Deby’s visit follows Niger’s prime minister’s recent trip to Moscow, reflecting Russia’s efforts to engage with Sahelian nations post-coups, diverging from French alignment. While Chad traditionally favored French influence, recent shifts indicate a potential pivot towards Russia, contrasting with neighboring nations. Russian influence, once facilitated by the Wagner Group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, transitioned after his demise, integrating Wagner’s operations into formal state structures.
Zimbabwe’s prominent opposition figure, Nelson Chamisa, announced his departure from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party exactly two years after its inception, citing a perceived takeover by the ruling ZANU-PF. Chamisa expressed disillusionment, alleging that ZANU-PF orchestrated a power grab within the CCC, compromising its independence. Despite the CCC’s significant urban support and electoral gains in Parliament and local councils, internal disputes, particularly regarding contested leadership and alleged imposters, have plagued the party. Efforts to challenge these issues in court have proven futile, with the CCC accusing ZANU-PF of leveraging the legal system to undermine opposition strength. ZANU-PF, however, denies such claims but has reaped benefits from the resulting by-elections. Chamisa’s departure raises questions about potential resignations from lawmakers and councilors aligned with him, which could trigger a wave of by-elections. Chamisa, successor to the late Morgan Tsvangirai, formed the CCC in 2022 after leadership disputes within the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Zimbabwe’s primary opposition force.
A wave of violence rocked Nigeria’s central Plateau state on Thursday, with at least 30 people killed and numerous others injured in attacks near Mangu town, despite a state-imposed curfew. The region, known as the ‘Middle Belt,’ has been a hotspot for farmer-herder clashes and communal conflicts, claiming hundreds of lives in recent years. The latest attacks, occurring around Kwahaslalek, Kinat, and Mairana villages, targeted residents seeking refuge following prior unrest in Mangu town. Survivors recounted indiscriminate shootings, arson, and property destruction. The Mwaghavul Development Association attributed the violence to herders and criticized the federal government’s troop deployment for its alleged inaction. Nigeria’s defense spokesperson refuted claims of military bias and emphasized the troops’ professionalism in responding to criminal activities. The Plateau state governor condemned the attacks, pledging proactive measures to quell further violence.