Media Review for April 18, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 04/18/2012

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

Why Are There So Many Coups in West Africa?
It isn’t polite to generalize but let’s face it: West Africa has a coup problem. Today, in the latest development in Guinea-Bissau’s coup, the military said it wouldn’t release the country’s interim president until “conditions allow.” Reuters also reports that the African Union has suspended the country’s membership. Last month, another coup rocked neighboring Mali and the junta continues to cling to power. The Atlantic

African Union suspends Guinea-Bissau over coup
The African Union on Tuesday suspended Guinea-Bissau after a coup and arrests of top officials, and said they may impose sanctions on coup leaders and supporters in the tiny West African nation. The Washington Times

Mali coup: Army arrests ex-President Amadou Toure allies
Soldiers have arrested several allies of Mali’s ousted President Amadou Toumani Toure days after handing power to a civilian leader, witnesses say. Former Prime Minister Modi Sidibe was picked up by men in military police vehicles, an aide said. The arrests came as rocket scientist-turned-politician Cheick Modibo Diarra was named as prime minister. BBC

Microsoft Africa chief named Mali’s interim PM
Cheick Modibo Diarra, Microsoft’s chairman for Africa, was named interim prime minister of Mali on Tuesday, according to a decree read out over public media. “Interim president Dioncounda Traore names Cheick Modibo Diarra in the functions of prime minister,” read the decree nearly a month after the government of the impoverished Saharan state was overthrown in a coup. AFP

Donors, government failing to reform Congo army: report
Failure to reform Democratic Republic of Congo’s large and ill-disciplined army has kept much of the civilian population in poverty and insecurity despite billions of dollars of foreign aid, international and Congolese NGOs said on Monday. Reuters

In Africa, US troops moving slowly against Kony and his militia
OBO, Central African Republic — Behind razor wire and bamboo walls topped with security cameras sits one of the newest U.S. military outposts in Africa. U.S. Special Forces soldiers with tattooed forearms and sunglasses emerge daily in pickup trucks that carry weapons, supplies and interpreters — as well as the expectations of a vast region living in fear of a man and his brutal militia. Stars and Stripes

Talk point: Does Kony 2012 offer the right solutions for child soldiers?
In this month’s Global development podcast we’ll ask what can be done to stop the Lord’s Resistance Army and what’s needed to address its legacy in Uganda and the region. Share your questions and help shape the discussion. The Guardian

Global military spending flattens as U.S. cuts back, Russia adds
[...] China’s growing military might has worried its neighbors and spurred the U.S. to pay more attention to Asia, though Chinese military technology still lags behind that of the U.S. All in all, military spending was up in Eastern Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia and down in Latin America, North America and the rest of Europe, with worldwide spending staying all but level. Researchers warned that data for much of the Middle East were spotty, making them less reliable. LA Times

Sudan’s frontline: Dead bodies, circling Antonovs
The road to Heglig, an oil town that South Sudan and Sudan are fighting over, is lined with discarded furniture, destroyed buses and tanks, and clusters of dead Sudanese soldiers. South Sudan’s army, known as the SPLA, moved north into Heglig earlier this month, sparking the bloodiest fighting since South Sudan broke off from Sudan last July and became the world’s newest nation. A top SPLA official said the south plans to keep moving north, taking territory the south believes it owns. The crisis threatens to widen into all-out war. AP

UN says Western Sahara mission being ‘undermined’
The United Nations stepped up complaints about Morocco’s tactics in Western Sahara as the UN Security Council on Tuesday held its annual talks on efforts to end deadlock over the territory’s future. UN leader Ban Ki-moon has told the Security Council that the UN mission’s communications from the Moroccan-controlled territory with UN headquarters have been “compromised.” AFP

Ethiopian troops to soon leave Somalia, PM says
Ethiopian troops fighting al-Qaida-linked militants in neighboring Somalia will soon return home, Ethiopia’s prime minister said Tuesday. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said regions of Somalia currently controlled by Ethiopian forces will be handed over to troops from Burundi, Kenya, Djibouti and Rwanda. The first three countries have troops in Somalia as part of the African Union peacekeeping force. Rwanda does not currently have troops in Somalia. AP

Ethiopia PM accuses Eritrea of kidnappings
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi accused Eritrea on Tuesday of abducting dozens of Ethiopian miners from the country’s northwest, in a potential escalation of tension between the arch-enemies. The Chicago Tribune

Malawi: ‘Sleepy Malawi’ Makes Political Waves
On Thursday 5 April, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika died of a heart attack. On Saturday 7 April, Vice President Joyce Banda was sworn in as President. She is the first female president in Southern Africa and the second woman in Africa, after Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, to occupy this position. There have, however, been 5 other acting female Heads of State in Africa (including one from Mauritius). Worldwide, there have only been 55 female Heads of State (acting and holding office) ever, 10 of whom hail from the Republic of San Marino. ISS

Egypt ‘needs £7.5 billion bail-out to avoid bankruptcy’
Egypt will need to seal a $12 billion (£7.57 billion) bail-out led by the IMF and EU to avoid bankruptcy but the package will impose painful austerity on the struggling economy, a senior EU diplomat warned on Monday. The Telegraph

War planes strike suspected Somali pirate base: coastguard
War planes fired several missiles at a suspected Somali pirate base in the north of the war-torn country, wounding two civilians, a coastguard official said Tuesday. “Unknown military jets fired several missiles near the village of Gumah, elders told us at least two civilians were injured,” said Mohamed Abdirahman, a coastguard. StarAfrica

Piracy definition in dispute as Norfolk piracy trial looms
The trial of a Somali man U.S. authorities consider the highest-ranking pirate they have ever captured will begin this week in Virginia under a cloud of uncertainty about what the definition of piracy is. [...] At issue is whether piracy is legally defined as committing robbery at sea or whether it entails a broader definition that can entail simply attacking a ship or facilitating that attack. U.S. law says piracy is defined by ‘the law of nations’ and what that definition is, as well as who defines it, is at the heart of the dispute. The Virginian Pilot

Report: Al Qaida Finding Fertile Ground in Africa (Video)
From eastern shores of Somalia to western borders of Mali, there has been an upsurge in Islamist violence across Africa. A new report from Britain’s Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) cites growing evidence that al-Qaida is expanding its reach via a network of affiliates and partnerships across the continent. VOA

Cameroon ‘Albatross’ jet affair: Ministers arrested
Two high-profile politicians have been arrested in Cameroon in connection with the allegedly fraudulent purchase of a presidential plane. Marafa Hamidou Yaya used to be the interior minister and Chief Ephraim Inoni is a former prime minister. They were part of a delegation that went to the US in 2004 to buy a $31m (£20m) jet, the Albatross. BBC

Argentina Discovers Africa
Under the banner of South-South cooperation, Argentina is seeking to consolidate its ties with Africa, starting with countries that are enjoying dynamic economic growth, such as Angola and Mozambique. IPS

2012 Pulizer Price for International Reporting Awarded to Jeffrey Gettleman of The New York Times for his reports on famine and conflict in East Africa
Mr. Gettleman was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his 2011 “vivid reports, often at personal peril, on famine and conflict in East Africa, a neglected but increasingly strategic part of the world,” the Pulitzer jury said. He covers 12 countries and has focused much of his work on internal conflicts in Kenya, Congo, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia. The New York Times

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