Africa This Week (15/06/2024)

South Africa’s parliament re-elected Cyril Ramaphosa as president on Friday, facilitated by a historic coalition deal involving his ANC party, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), and smaller parties. This alliance comes after the ANC lost its parliamentary majority for the first time in three decades during recent elections, receiving 40% of the vote compared to the DA’s 22%. The National Assembly proceedings also saw the swearing-in of an ANC speaker and a DA deputy speaker.

Niger’s ousted President Mohamed Bazoum on Friday had his immunity lifted by the country’s highest court, clearing the path for the military junta to prosecute him for alleged high treason following his overthrow by mutinous soldiers a year ago. Bazoum and his family have been under house arrest since the coup, with accusations from the junta of undermining national security. Legal proceedings to lift his immunity were conducted by a newly established State Court, criticized by Human Rights Watch for procedural irregularities and limitations on Bazoum’s defense rights, including restricted access to legal counsel and case materials since October.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) cease their siege of El Fasher in Darfur, where over a million people are trapped. The resolution reached on Thursday, sponsored by Britain and approved 14-0 with Russia abstaining, calls for an immediate end to hostilities between the RSF and Sudanese military, U.N. Ambassador Barbara Woodward warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if the siege continues, as essentials like food and water are running out. The conflict, ongoing since April 2023, has resulted in over 14,000 deaths. The resolution urges all countries to stop supplying weapons to combatants and stresses the need for humanitarian aid, noting the U.N.’s appeal for Sudan is severely underfunded. Russia abstained, arguing the resolution doesn’t adequately address the situation or propose viable solutions.

Rwanda this week accused the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) of lying to a British court about the risks faced by asylum seekers sent to the East African country. The UNHCR’s lawyers argued that Rwanda’s asylum system is inadequate and that asylum seekers could be subjected to refoulement, where they might be moved to states where they risk torture or death. Rwanda’s government spokesperson dismissed these allegations as fabricated, noting the UNHCR’s ongoing partnership with Rwanda in relocating African migrants from Libya. The UNHCR maintains its concerns about the risks involved in the UK-Rwanda asylum partnership, emphasizing that it shifts responsibility for asylum decisions and refugee protection.

The Nigerian government dropped tax evasion charges against two Binance executives on Friday after the crypto exchange appointed a local representative to handle court processes. The executives, Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crimes compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a regional manager for Africa, both denied the charges. Binance emphasized that Gambaryan, who has been in custody since February, is not a decision-maker and should be fully discharged from the matter. Although tax evasion charges have been dropped, Binance and the executives still face money laundering charges, which they deny.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province, as announced on its Telegram channel on Friday. The attack occurred on Wednesday in the village of Mayikengo in Lubero territory, resulting in the deaths of at least 42 people, according to local officials.

A military aircraft carrying Malawi’s Vice President Saulos Chilima crashed on Monday, resulting in the deaths of all ten people on board, including the 51-year-old Chilima. The plane, which took off just after 9:00 am local time, went off radar and failed to make a landing.

In Madagascar, President Andry Rajoelina’s ruling party, Tanora Malagasy Vonona, fell short of maintaining its parliamentary majority in the recent elections. The party secured 80 out of 163 seats, while independent candidates gained 52 seats and the remaining 25 seats went to the opposition. Voter turnout was reported at just over 48% by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI). Following the results, opposition leader and former President Marc Ravalomanana accused the ruling party of electoral violations and fraud. President Rajoelina controversially won re-election in November amidst a backdrop of low voter turnout and an opposition boycott.

Interior ministers from Libya and Tunisia announced plans to reopen the Ras Jdir border crossing, starting with a partial reopening on Thursday and full resumption on June 20. The decision comes after over three months of closure due to armed clashes and attacks by “outlaws” in mid-March. Ras Jdir serves as a crucial link between Libya’s western region and Tunisia, facilitating travel for medical treatment and transporting goods. Libya, divided between eastern and western factions since the 2011 uprising, sees the Government of National Unity (GNU) controlling Tripoli and parts of the northwest, internationally recognized but not by the eastern-based parliament.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Egypt on Monday at the start of a regional tour to push for a much awaited Gaza ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Blinken held closed-door talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo before heading to Jerusalem later on Monday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Writer and researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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