Media Review for December 12, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/12/2012

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

Rice: French plan for Mali intervention is ‘crap’
Key U.N. powers said today that Mali’s military’s arrest and ouster of the country’s transitional leader, Prime Minister Cheick Modibo Diarra, would not deter the U.N. Security Council from forging ahead with plans to intervene in Mali to confront Islamists militants in the north of the country. But it did little to paper over differences between the United States and France on how to get the job done. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, offered a decidedly uncharitable assessment of a French- and African-backed plan to retake control of northern Mali from a coalition of Islamist militants linked to al Qaeda. “It’s crap,” the U.S. envoy told a gathering of U.N.-based officials, according to one of the officials. Rice’s office declined to comment. Foreign Policy

Mali names new prime minister in abrupt change of leadership
Mali’s president has named Diango Cissoko as the country’s new interim prime minister, according to state media reports, hours after the abrupt resignation of the former prime minister following his arrest by soldiers. Cissoko is a former public mediator for the republic, according to the state-owned newspaper L’Essor. In a brief online report, the newspaper states that interim President Dioncounda Traore signed two decrees Tuesday, one removing Diarra from office and the second naming Cissoko as his successor. CNN

Statement on the Forced Resignation of Interim Prime Minister Diarra
The United States condemns the arbitrary arrest and forced resignation of Mali’s Interim Prime Minister, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, by members of the military junta and reiterates the demand by the international community for an end to the junta’s interference in Mali’s political affairs. These events endanger the anticipated national dialogue and unhelpfully delay a return to constitutional order, and the restoration of the territorial integrity of Mali. They are a clear reminder of the need to hold elections to restore a democratically elected government by April 2013 or as soon as technically feasible. We underline the importance of the respect for rule of law and the guarantee of personal security for all political actors and members of government.

Prime Minister’s Ousting Complicates Strategy to Curb Mali’s Islamists
Slow-moving international efforts to confront an Islamist takeover of northern Mali, described at the United Nations this week as “one of the potentially most explosive corners of the world,” just got more complicated. Early on Tuesday, a grim-faced Cheikh Modibo Diarra appeared on Mali’s state television to announce what appeared to be his forced resignation as prime minister of the African desert state. Blog – The International Herald Tribune

In northern Mali, Islamists’ attacks against civilians grow more brutal

The Islamist radicals who seized a vast arc of territory in northern Mali in the spring are intensifying their brutality against the population, according to victims, human rights groups, and U.N. and Malian officials. [...] “The people are losing all hope,” said Sadou Diallo, a former mayor of the northern city of Gao. “For the past eight months, they have lived without any government, without any actions taken against the Islamists. Now the Islamists feel they can do anything to the people.” The Washington Post

Putting Mali Together Again
MALI faces a deep crisis that demands a political strategy toward a long-term settlement. What’s on offer today, namely sending a multinational force to reoccupy the Malian Sahara and fight terrorists, while negotiating deals with the cannier rebel leaders, promises only temporary respite. The reason: West Africa and the Sahara functions as political marketplace in which loyalties are for rent. Government leaders, rebels, drug traffickers and even terrorists, are all bargaining for profit and power. Op-Ed. The New York Times

Force alone can’t stop Boko Haram – US Commander
The Commander of the United States Africa Command, Gen. Carter Ham, has said the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria can not be brought to an end through the use of force alone. Ham in a lecture at the National Defence College on Tuesday in Abuja, said while the military had important roles to play in the polity, social, economic and judicial issues must be addressed in the quest for lasting solutions to the violence in the country. The Punch

Israel, Iran vie for control of Red Sea
The Red Sea is becoming an arena of confrontation between Israel and Iran, with Sudan and Eritrea key targets in a strategic contest that’s likely to intensify. UPI

The Devastating Crisis in Eastern Congo
Before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights
The Honorable Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary – Bureau of African Affairs, U.S. Department of State Download Prepared Statement
Mr. John Prendergast, Co-founder – The Enough Project. Download Prepared Statement | Download Truth-in-Testimony Disclosure
Mr. Steve Hege (Former Member United Nations Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo) Download Prepared Statement | Download Truth-in-Testimony Disclosure
Mr. Mvemba Dizolele – Peter J. Duignan Distinguished Visiting Fellow – Hoover Institution, Stanford University Download Prepared Statement

Stop the blame game and stabilize the Democratic Republic of the Congo
[...] The international community needs to become serious about resources — financial and political — necessary to effect change in the DRC. Despite a large budget, we have been trying to purchase stability on the cheap. Comparing the scope, scale and per-capita funding of the international missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor, MONUSCO [the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo] appears a terribly inadequate effort. . Former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa Rosa Whitaker. The Hill

M23 rebels return to peace talks as Congo government lays charges against rebels at talks
Peace talks with rebels in eastern Congo should end with the disbandment of the M23 rebel movement, Congo’s foreign minister said Tuesday, declaring it a criminally-minded organization that has caused suffering in the country. The Washington Post

In DRC Crisis, Uganda’s Museveni Comes Out on Top — Again
Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s long-serving president, has emerged as the central mediator of the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, orchestrating the withdrawal of rebel troops from the key Congolese city of Goma and hosting peace talks between the rebel leaders and the Congolese government. By coordinating all stages of the process, Museveni has reaffirmed his position as East Africa’s key power broker — a status that until recently appeared to be slipping. World Politics Review

France’s new envoy to Rwanda seeks better ties
France’s new ambassador to Rwanda, Michel Flesch, on Tuesday called for better ties between Paris and Kigali, which have had strained relations since the 1994 genocide in the central African country. [...] France has had no ambassador in Rwanda since the start of the year, when Kigali refused to accept Paris’s previous choice, named by the government of the time. AFP on Expatica

Counter-terrorism and human rights abuses in Kenya and Uganda, says new report
A new 46 page report by the Open Society Justice Initiative that looks at how the governments of Kenya, Uganda, the US and the United Kingdom responded to the 2010 World Cup bombing in Kampala, Uganda says counter-terrorism tactics and operations in East Africa have led to a variety of human rights violations. Newstime Africa

Libyan Reluctance Hampers U.S. Investigation Into Deadly Benghazi Assault
An unarmed American military surveillance drone now flies virtually every day over Benghazi, gathering information and poised to respond at a moment’s notice if any of the suspects believed to be behind the attacks last Sept. 11 on the American Mission in the Libyan city are located. But three months after the assault that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, the investigation into the attacks has been hobbled by the reluctance of the Libyan authorities to move against Islamist extremist suspects who belong to powerful militias, officials briefed on the investigation said. The New York Times

Southern Africa: Regional Leaders Propose Madagascar Election Bans
Southern African leaders want to bar Madagascar’s deposed president, Marc Ravalomanana, from standing in new elections – despite condemning as unconstitutional his ousting in 2009. In an extraordinary summit in Tanzania last week, heads of state and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) reiterated a previous decision that Ravalomanana, who now lives in exile, should be allowed to return to Madagascar. But, they added, neither he nor the man who seized power from him, Andry Rajoelina, should be permitted to stand in elections scheduled for May next year. They presented this “as a way forward towards resolving this crisis”. allAfrica

Eritrea denies reports that president Aferwerki is to step-down
The Eritrean government has dismissed recent reports alleging that the long-time leader of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, has decided to stand-down in 2013. Citing sources in Asmara, Ethiopian Review, an online journal, recently reported that Afewerki is planning to step down within a year, along with most of the senior leadership and will transfer power to younger leaders. Sudan Tribune

Wildlife crime profound threat to nations, says report
The global illegal trade in wildlife is worth $19bn (£12bn) a year and is threatening the stability of some governments according to new research. Carried out for conservation group WWF, a report highlights a “new wave” of organised wildlife crime by armed groups operating across borders. It says funds from trafficking are being used to finance civil conflicts. The study comes as Malaysian officials captured about 20 tonnes of ivory in one of the biggest seizures ever made. BBC

Will Egypt’s military choose to make or break the referendum process?
By granting the Egyptian military the power to arrest citizens during the referendum process, Morsi has given it enormous influence over the outcome of the controversial constitutional vote. CS Monitor

Can God Save Egypt? Op-Ed By Thomas L. Friedman

If Syria and Egypt both unravel at once, this whole region will be destabilized. That’s why a billboard on the road to the Pyramids said it all: “God save Egypt.” [...] the fight here is not between more religious and less religious Egyptians. What has brought hundreds of thousands of Egyptians back into the streets, many of them first-time protesters, is the fear that autocracy is returning to Egypt under the guise of Islam. The real fight here is about freedom, not religion. The New York Times

Tunisian national strike averted after government, unions reach agreement
Tunisia’s government has reached an agreement with the country’s leading labor union to avoid a nationwide strike over economic woes and power disputes. Government spokesman Ridha Kazdaghli told The Associated Press that the agreement was reached Tuesday after daylong negotiations. He would not give details. AP on Fox news

Ghana opposition to challenge presidential poll result
Ghana’s main opposition party said on Tuesday it would challenge in court the result of last week’s election, which gave victory to incumbent president John Dramani Mahama with 50.7 percent of the vote. Reuters

South Africa’s churches accuse Zuma, ANC of moral decay
South Africa’s churches launched a blistering attack on the African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday, accusing the ruling party of moral decay and of abandoning Nelson Mandela’s goal to build a non-racial democracy from the ashes of apartheid. Reuters

The Challenges of Democratization
The euphoria of democratic openings must inevitably confront the realities of creating functional democratic systems. Setbacks are common. In addition to overcoming entrenched autocratic institutional legacies, reformers must contend with first generation democratic leaders who become resistant to leaving the trappings of power. Journalists and civil society actors, similarly, often face restrictive and dangerous environments that limit their ability to gather and disseminate the independent information on which participatory democracy depends. Strengthening domestic and international measures to protect journalists and recognize and respond to creeping coups can help safeguard the success of democratic transitions and deepen democratic norms. By Joseph Siegle, Africa Center for Strategic Studies

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