Media Review for April 13, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 04/13/2012

Please note: The following news items are presented here for informational purposes. The views expressed within them are those of the authors and/or individuals quoted, not those of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the National Defense University, or the Department of Defense.

Today’s News

‘Attempted coup’ in Guinea-Bissau
The regional bloc of West African states has condemned what it called an attempted coup in Guinea-Bissau amid reports of soldiers seizing control of a central area of the country’s capital. Witnesses and diplomats in Bissau described explosions and heavy arms fires in Bissau late on Thursday night, with the home of Carlos Gomes Junior, the outgoing prime minister and presidential hopeful in runoff elections scheduled for later this month, coming under attack. Al Jazeera

Fate of Guinea-Bissau leaders unknown
The fate of Guinea-Bissau’s civilian leaders were unknown early on Friday after overnight attacks by soldiers who hurled grenades at the prime minister’s home and sealed off the downtown area of the capital. Portugal, the former colonial ruler of the tiny African nation, appealed for the violence to stop and advised Portuguese citizens to stay inside their homes, according to a statement carried early on Friday by the Portuguese state news agency Lusa. It said the situation in the country’s capital of Bissau was “still uncertain”. News 24

Guinea-Bissau troops attack prime minister’s residence
Guinea-Bissau’s soldiers were looking on Friday for the frontrunner in the country’s presidential election after attacking his residence and seizing much of the capital in what the West African bloc ECOWAS has condemned as an attempted coup. France 24

Sudan Warplanes Bomb South Sudan
South Sudan says Sudanese warplanes dropped several bombs early Thursday in their first attack on a major southern town. There has been no immediate confirmation of casualties. South Sudan’s Deputy Information Minister, Atem Yaak Atem, said five bombs dropped in the town of Bentiu were apparently aimed at a bridge. VOA

Sudan to ‘mobilise its army’
Sudan said it would mobilise its army against South Sudan yesterday, calling a halt to talks with Juba after an attack on an oil field vital to the north’s economy. With South Sudan accusing Sudan of bombing a village on the southern side of their 1800km border, the African Union intervened over clashes that threaten to spark a full-blown conflict between the former civil war foes. Times Live

Sudan and South Sudan teeter on the edge of war
Sudan and South Sudan teetered dangerously on the edge of war Thursday after South Sudan refused to withdraw its troops from a disputed border area despite calls to do so by the United Nations and African Union. LA Times

Huge UN Row Looms Over Darfur Weapons Report
A seismic diplomatic row is rumbling at United Nations headquarters in New York over the circulation of a damning report by former UN experts pointing to the supply of Chinese-made ammunition to the Sudan government for use against civilians in Darfur. The row exposes fresh divisions on Sudan at the UN Security Council and disarray in Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office. It may also unpick Beijing’s careful diplomacy as it seeks to realign its relations between Sudan and South Sudan. Africa Confidential

What We Can Learn From Africa’s Response to Mali
Earlier today, the Malian Parliament speaker Dioncounda Traore was sworn in as interim president of the country. A spokeswoman for the US Department of State described this as a “very good step” for Mali, and that’s because it is. Indeed, I would go further: in my view, leadership is back in Africa. Perhaps for the first time in the continent’s history, an official body, the economic community of west African states (Ecowas), has succeeded in ending a coup in a nearby nation. That’s something to celebrate. The Huffington Post

Islamist militia recruiting children to boost their forces
Islamist militia in rebel-held northern Mali are recruiting children in a bid to boost their forces, a local elected official and a journalist in the region told AFP. Both Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had recruited dozens of fighters, including children, said the source, who asked to remain anonymous. AFP

Mauritanian army boosts border presence
The recent turmoil in Mali prompted the Mauritanian government to send reinforcements to the border with the north of the country, where locals have declared the new state of Azawad. According to a Mauritanian military press release, the National Chief of Staff sent reinforcements on April 5th to the eastern and southern borders of the country, “to ward off any incursions of armed groups from Mali”. Military units “have headed for the town of Bassiknou and areas close to the border with Mali, where the MNLA and armed Islamist groups are currently active.” Magharebia

The war on terror is corrupting all it touches
On Monday the BBC Panorama programme substantiated an extraordinary allegation that suggested how far the war on terror has descended into legal abyss. The claim was that MI6 rolled the pitch for Tony Blair’s bizarre 2004 hug-in with Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi by apparently arranging for the CIA to kidnap Gaddafi’s opponent in exile, Abdel Hakim Belhaj. He was seized in Bangkok, where he and his wife were en route to Britain. It’s been suggested they were “rendered” via the British colony of Diego Garcia to Tajoura jail in Tripoli. Belhaj spent six years, and his wife four and a half months, at the tender mercies of Gaddafi’s security boss, Moussa Koussa. The Guardian

5,000 Libyan MANPADS Secured
A multinational team of weapons experts has secured and destroyed 5,000 Libyan man-operated portable air defense systems and components left over after the fall of the Gadhafi regime, according to the British Ministry of Defence. The team has been unable to rule out the possibility that a number of the weapons may have leaked out of the country or been acquired by terrorists. Defense News

Egypt passes legislation banning Mubarak officials from running as president
Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament has passed legislation that would ban top officials who served under Hosni Mubarak from becoming president, a move which could derail former Vice President Omar Suleiman. The Telegraph

Swaziland: Crossed lines and a king’s tantrum
King Mswati III is blocking attempts to liberalise the mobile telephone market in Swaziland and promote a cheaper service for ordinary Swazis in a bid to protect his private business interests, government sources in the kingdom have told the Mail & Guardian. Mail and Guardian

2 Marines Killed, 2 Injured In Osprey Crash In Morocco
Two U.S. Marines have been killed and two others injured when the V-22 Osprey they were in crashed Wednesday during a training exercise in Morocco. NPR

Ghana’s election watch: The vote starts here
Politicians and their supporters are hell-bent on convincing an underwhelmed electorate that only their party has the know-how and the integrity to run the new oil economy. The Africa Report

Sarkozy says must prevent rogue state in Mali’s north
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday everything had to be done to prevent a “terrorist or Islamic state” emerging in northern Mali after rebels seized vast tracts of the desert north. [...] Sarkozy said he supported some form of autonomy for the Tuaregs in the former French colony. “We have to work with the Tuaregs to see how they can have a minimum of autonomy and we must do everything to prevent the establishment of a terrorist or Islamic state in the heart of the Sahel,” Sarkozy told iTele television. Reuters

Same Old Solutions for Somalia?
Despite rhetoric of Somali inclusion, proposed solutions to the country’s problems continue to be externally-driven and exclusive. Think Africa press

How to Pirate Proof Your Tanker
A shocking rise in pirate attacks over the last decade has left many in the shipping industry scrambling for protection, leading to a new market for security forces trained to fight off the swashbuckling foes. Photographer Amnon Gutman witnessed this scramble for security first-hand as he sailed one of the most dangerous waterways in the world with a crew, their cargo — and a private security detail trained in pirate-deflecting techniques. Foreign Policy

Kabila halts military operations in east Congo
Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila has suspended military operations against rebels in the eastern North and South Kivu provinces following a rash of desertions in the army, the government and army said. DefenceWeb

“You can’t come here with European eyes”: A letter to John Humphreys on his trip to Liberia – By Richard Dowden
I listened to your reports from Liberia on The Today programme this morning with growing fury. I am not angry because your reporting is bad. It is extremely good. My complaint is this: you say you have been reporting Africa for more than 45 years but why, only now, are you reporting these deeper realities? “You can’t come here with European eyes,” you say. But that is precisely what you and the rest of the British media have been doing all this time. African Arguments

The Africans looking to make it in China
China has stepped up its engagement with Africa in recent years, scouring the resource-rich continent in its bid to access natural resources and forge new trade routes. But the Asian powerhouse is also emerging as an attractive business destination for Africans. CNN

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