Africa This Week: Chad’s interim president to run in the upcoming election; ICC judges ruled victims of Ugandan militia commander Ongwen should receive over 52 million euros in compensation; Kenya and Haiti finalized security agreement; Former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi passed away at the age of 98

Chad’s interim president, Mahamat Idriss Deby, announced on Saturday his intention to run in the upcoming presidential race amidst heightened tensions following the death of opposition politician Yaya Dillo. Dillo was killed in disputed circumstances, leading to accusations and arrests within the ruling elite. The Chadian government claims Dillo died in a shootout with security forces, while opposition groups allege assassination. Deby’s uncle, General Saleh Deby Itno, was arrested after defecting to Dillo’s opposition party. Amidst these developments, Deby’s candidacy announcement lacked reference to the recent violence. The European Union expressed deep concern over the events, calling for an independent investigation to ensure a transparent and peaceful transition in Chad.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) judges ruled on Wednesday that nearly 50,000 victims of Ugandan militia commander Dominic Ongwen should receive over 52 million euros ($56 million) in compensation, marking a record reparations order. Ongwen, a former child soldier turned top commander of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, lacks the resources to pay the compensation himself. The ICC Trust Fund for Victims will assist in covering the costs. Compensation will include a symbolic individual payment of 750 euros per victim, along with collective reparations such as rehabilitation programs and memorial sites. Ongwen was convicted in 2021 on 60 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, serving a 25-year sentence in Norway. Led by fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly 20 years. Although the militia has largely been eradicated, Kony remains one of the ICC’s most wanted fugitives. Victims recognize that reparations, while important, can only symbolically address the atrocities committed by the LRA.

In response to a prolonged five-year drought, Tunisia has raised its drinking water prices by up to 16%, as announced in the official gazette. Despite recent increases in average rainfall, Tunisian dams remain at only 35% capacity. Last year, the country implemented a quota system for drinking water and prohibited its use in agriculture, while also implementing nighttime water supply cuts since last summer. The price of water remains unchanged for small consumers, but those consuming over 40 cubic meters face an approximately 12% increase to 1.040 Tunisian dinars ($0.33) per cubic meter. Consumers using between 70 and 100 cubic meters per quarter will pay 13.7% more, at 1.490 dinars per cubic meter. The highest increase, up by 16%, applies to those consuming over 150 cubic meters and tourist facilities, priced at 2.310 dinars per cubic meter. Tunisia has initiated water desalination plants to offset the lack of dams and mitigate the impact of climate change.

Kenya and Haiti finalized a security agreement on Friday to address a Kenyan court’s concerns regarding Kenya’s plan to dispatch 1,000 police officers to lead a U.N.-sanctioned mission aimed at combating gang violence in Haiti. Kenya’s proposal, announced in July of the previous year, aimed to intervene in Haiti, where gangs dominate the capital and violence claimed nearly 5,000 lives in the previous year. However, Kenya’s High Court deemed the deployment unconstitutional without a reciprocal arrangement with the Haitian government, effectively halting the mission. Despite substantial pledges from the United States, Canada, and other nations, the deployment remained in limbo. President William Ruto of Kenya announced the signing of the agreement with Haiti, expressing optimism about the mission’s progress. Haiti sought assistance in 2022 amid escalating violence but struggled to secure support due to concerns about human rights violations and political instability. In addition to Kenya, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, and Benin have offered assistance to address Haiti’s security challenges.

The United Nations human rights chief declared on Friday that the deliberate obstruction of safe access for humanitarian agencies in war-torn Sudan could constitute a war crime. Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been engaged in conflict with the country’s army since April last year, resulting in thousands of casualties, millions displaced, and famine warnings. Speaking at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Volker Turk, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, characterized Sudan as a “living nightmare.” He emphasized that denying safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies within Sudan violates international law and may amount to war crimes. Turk urged warring parties to open humanitarian corridors promptly to prevent further loss of life. Humanitarian workers have been attacked, aid supplies looted, and bureaucratic obstacles hinder assistance efforts in Port Sudan, controlled by the army. Sudan’s decision to prohibit aid deliveries through Chad further exacerbates the crisis, particularly in Darfur, where the RSF controls the area. With half of Sudan’s population requiring humanitarian aid and millions seeking refuge in neighboring countries, Turk underscored the crisis’s regional impact, threatening peace, security, and humanitarian conditions across the region.

French journalist Antoine Galindo was released by Ethiopian authorities after being detained for a week, according to his employer. Galindo was arrested in Addis Ababa on charges of “conspiracy to create chaos” while on assignment. He has returned to France and is expected to arrive on Friday, as confirmed by Quentin Botbol, the publisher of Africa Intelligence. Human rights activists have denounced Ethiopia’s crackdown on press freedom, especially regarding critical coverage of conflicts and security crises. The Committee to Protect Journalists reported that at least eight Ethiopian journalists have been detained since August. Ethiopia has previously expelled foreign journalists or denied them accreditation, with the last arrest before Galindo involving two Swedish journalists in 2011.

Former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, known for leading the nation into free-market economics, passed away at the age of 98, as announced by current President Samia Suluhu Hassan in a televised address on Thursday. Mwinyi succeeded Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s first post-independence president, who served for 22 years and stepped down in 1985. President Hassan extended condolences to Mwinyi’s family, relatives, friends, and all Tanzanians for their loss. Mwinyi’s tenure was marked by the introduction of free-market policies, and he was succeeded by the late Benjamin Mkapa in 1995. President Hassan disclosed that Mwinyi passed away in a Dar es Salaam hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment for lung cancer since November.

Zambia is grappling with plans to import and ration electricity due to a severe drought, which President Hakainde Hichilema declared a national disaster in a live television address on Thursday. The drought severely affects hydropower generation, Zambia’s primary power source, and threatens food production and the mining sector. As Africa’s second-largest copper producer, Zambia faces an energy sector deficit of nearly 450 to 500 megawatts this year. President Hichilema announced a re-alignment of the 2024 national budget to allocate more resources to mitigate the drought’s impact. Over a million farming households are expected to be affected, with approximately half of the planted crop destroyed by the drought. Zambia, which defaulted three years ago, is undergoing debt restructuring under the G20 Common Framework to manage its financial challenges.

United Nations troops have commenced their gradual withdrawal from the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as confirmed by the peacekeeping mission in a statement released on Wednesday. The peacekeeping force, known as MONUSCO, has been present in the DRC for over 13 years, succeeding an earlier U.N. operation in 2010, with the aim of addressing insecurity in the country’s eastern region, where armed groups vie for control over territory and resources. However, MONUSCO’s 13,500-strong presence has faced mounting criticism for its perceived failure to protect civilians from escalating militia violence, leading to deadly protests in recent years. Following President Felix Tshisekedi’s request for an expedited withdrawal of the mission, endorsed by the U.N. Security Council in December, MONUSCO began its phased withdrawal. At the Kamanyola base in South Kivu, Pakistani peacekeepers lowered the U.N. flag as MONUSCO head Bintou Keita handed over the keys to provincial authorities. The base, which has been operational since 2005, will now be managed by the national police. The first withdrawal phase will witness approximately 2,000 troops departing from 14 bases in South Kivu province by April’s end, followed by withdrawals from North Kivu and Ituri provinces in subsequent phases.

Two senior executives at Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, were detained in Nigeria on Wednesday as part of the country’s crackdown on cryptocurrency exchanges. The executives traveled to Nigeria after the recent ban on several cryptocurrency trading websites in the country. However, upon arrival, they were detained by the office of Nigeria’s national security adviser, and their passports were confiscated. Binance has not yet responded to requests for comment from Reuters. The crackdown comes after Nigerian cryptocurrency websites became popular platforms for trading due to chronic dollar shortages in the country. Nigeria’s official exchange rate for the naira has been trading closely to parallel market levels following the currency’s devaluation last month, the second adjustment in less than a year.

Writer and researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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