Media Review for December 19, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/19/2012

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

S Africa’s Zuma re-elected ruling party chief
South African President Jacob Zuma has been re-elected as the leader of the governing party, the African National Congress (ANC). Zuma beat Kgalema Motlanthe, his challenger and the country’s vice-president, as about 4,000 delegates cast their ballots on Tuesday at the ANC’s conference in Bloemfontein. Zuma will now be the party’s presidential candidate and almost certain winner in the 2014 national elections. Al Jazeera

African National Congress Chooses Tycoon as the Party’s Deputy President
In South Africa, a nation where the gap between the rich and poor yawns wider than just about anywhere in the world, Cyril Ramaphosa might seem an unlikely savior to a political party whose base is the poor. His fortune is estimated to top $500 million. He sits on the board of the mining company whose 34 workers were killed in a harsh police crackdown on an illegal strike protesting low pay and miserable living conditions. Yet when all the votes were counted at the African National Congress’s leadership conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Ramaphosa, a union leader turned business tycoon, had won more than 75 percent of the vote to become deputy president of the party, making him heir apparent to the top job and South Africa’s presidency once the nation’s leader, Jacob Zuma, ultimately leaves office. The New York Times

Jacob Zuma’s landslide victory points to trouble ahead
[...] Zuma had not just managed to see off deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe and his noisy supporters, but his grip on the party had been tightened considerably too. He was master and commander, and his increased support – up from 60% in his first term – had handed him the ability to proceed with major changes if he so wished. Yet, after the formalities were done, Zuma asked the sleep-deprived delegates (voting had proceeded through the night) if he could eat into their lunchtime and say a few words. His message was not triumphalist, but one that went to the heart of the challenges he now faces after a noisy, bruising and divisive battle. The Guardian

Review of Benghazi attack faults ‘grossly’ inadequate security, leadership failures
An independent investigation of the fatal attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya on Sept. 11 found that “grossly” inadequate security and reliance on local militias left U.S. diplomats and other personnel vulnerable, the State Department told Congress on Tuesday. The Washington Post

AFRICOM announces it will have rapid reaction force
In the politically charged aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed, it emerged that something crucial was missing from the structure of U.S. Africa Command: a rapid reaction force. Not anymore. In response to a question during a recent speech at George Washington University, AFRICOM boss Gen. Carter Ham said his command is now outfitted with a new capability. Stars and Stripes

Obama tells Rwanda to end DRC rebel support
US President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on Rwandan President Paul Kagame to end all support for rebels in the conflict-wracked Democratic Republic of Congo, the White House said. The White House issued the strongly worded statement about the leaders’ call after Washington imposed sanctions on two top leaders of the M23 rebel group, saying they had used child soldiers and singled out children as targets. The East African

US hits more DRC rebel leaders with sanctions
The US set sanctions Tuesday on two top officials of the M23 rebels in DR Congo, saying they both made use of child soldiers and singled out children as targets. The US Treasury said Baudoin Ngaruye and Innocent Kaina are senior leaders of the Mouvement du 23 Mars (M23) militants, who control part of DR Congo’s turbulent east. Africa Review

DR Congo accuses M23 rebels of breaching ceasefire
The Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday accused the M23 rebels of never fully withdrawing from the key eastern city of Goma, despite pledging to do so in a ceasefire brokered by East African nations to end the long-running conflict. Times Live

Eastern Congo: The ADF-Nalu’s Lost Rebellion
The Allied Democratic Forces-National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (Forces démocratiques alliées-Armée nationale de libération de l’Ouganda, ADF-Nalu) is one of the oldest but least known armed groups in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the only one in the area to be considered an east African Islamist terrorist organisation. Although it does not represent the same destabilising threat as the 23 March Movement (M23), it has managed to fend off the Congolese army since 2010. International Crisis Group

Sudan announces surprise breakthrough in security talks with Juba
In a surprising turn of events, Sudan has announced a major breakthrough in talks with South Sudan, saying all obstacles facing the implementation of a border security deal they signed in September have been surmounted, but it is not clear whether the two sides managed to break the deadlock over Khartoum’s demands that Juba disarms the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). Sudan Tribune

FBI Investigates South Sudan Journalist Murder
An FBI agent will investigate the killing of a South Sudanese writer and government critic, a case that has raised concerns over press freedom in the fledgling nation, U.S. embassy officials said Tuesday. The FBI “senior official” will arrive in Juba this week to assist in the “murder investigation of South Sudanese journalist, blogger and political commentator” Diing Chan Awuol, the embassy said in a statement. Naharnet

Mali’s Crisis: Is the Plan for Western Intervention ‘Crap’?
[...] There’s a divide between French officials — who now say a U.N.-mandated operation for Mali will be approved before Christmas — and dubious U.S. officials like U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who reportedly called the intervention plan supported by France and African nations “crap.” There’s even discord on how serious that disagreement is. Though French diplomats cheerfully acknowledge the “inimitable manner in which Susan Rice expresses her positions” on the Mali situation, foreign policy officials in Paris insist a U.N. agreement on intervention is quite close still. “There are 15 members of the Security Council, and at the moment 14 share France’s view,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told French media on Dec. 16, gesturing to the U.S.’s lone stance. “We’re trying to find a position that can unite everyone.” Time

Racism spurs Mali terrorist defections
Amid mounting defections within al-Qaeda linked terror groups in northern Mali, attention is turning to what some say see as racist practises of jihadist groups in the Sahel. Racism has been a key factor pushing many young Africans of non-Arab descent to defect and return to their normal lives in their countries of origin. This is taking place at a time when the majority of these young Africans are beginning to realise more than ever that the promises of equality, freedom and dignity of true Islam have not materialised within the jihadist movements. Magharebia

Mali: Humanitarian impact of armed intervention
Over 700,000 people could be displaced if military intervention goes ahead next year in northern Mali, according to preliminary estimates by humanitarian agencies, who stress that the numbers are just approximations. This includes some 300,000 internally displaced Malians (a significant increase on the current 198,550) and 407,000 refugees (currently 156,819), most of them headed to Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Algeria. IRIN

Western Sahara is not Mali: on islamist extremists and Saharwi freedom fighters
[...] Much of the evidence for the “status quo being threatened by the rise of extremist, terrorist or criminal elements in the Sahel” appears to come from the case of three European humanitarian workers who were kidnapped in Tindouf camp in western Algeria, home to an estimated 40,000 refugees from the conflict between Morocco and Polisario in October 2011. When the three were finally released in July 2012, the kidnapping was claimed by MUJAO (Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa), an off-shoot from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) which is now one of the dominant players in northern Mali. African Argument

Pirates storm oil tanker off Nigeria, kidnap five Indians
Well armed pirates who stormed and ransacked an oil tanker off Nigeria have kidnapped five Indian crew members, said a statement Wednesday from the operators of the ship. Medallion Marine, which operates the SP Brussels tanker, said their vessel was boarded on Monday by “heavily armed pirates” about 40 miles (65 kilometres) off the coast of the oil-producing Niger Delta region. AFP

NGOs critical of UN role in combating Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army
The UN’s regional strategy to combat the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), launched at the end of June, has failed to make any headway, according to a coalition of 11 NGOs. A joint report, Getting back on track, issued ahead of the UN security council deliberations on the LRA, scheduled for Tuesday, claims that progress towards achieving the core objectives has been slow, that there is no comprehensive plan to implement the new strategy, and that, as a result, the situation on the ground remains largely unchanged. The Guardian

Somalia: UN experts on use of mercenaries urge greater oversight for private security contractors
The Government of Somalia must do more to ensure the security of its citizens while increasing regulations on private military and security companies, a United Nations expert panel urged today at the conclusion of its seven-day visit to the Horn of Africa country. “As Somalia rebuilds its security institutions, the Government should ensure that private security forces are properly regulated and do not become a substitute for competent and accountable police,” said Faiza Patel, who currently heads the UN’s Working Group on the use of mercenaries. UN

LRA poach ivory as hunt for Kony intensifies
While nations believe they have Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) chief Joseph Kony on the run in the jungles of Central Africa, the Ugandan-origin rebels are still causing deadly chaos in several countries. The LRA has turned to ivory trafficking and also extended its area of operations, a UN Security Council meeting was told. “There are credible reports of the LRA poaching elephants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and illegally trafficking ivory,” said Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a deputy US ambassador, on Tuesday. Mail and Guardian

Hollande faces France’s bitter colonial past in Algeria
Fifty years after the end of Algeria’s bloody war of independence, President François Hollande is visiting France’s former colony amid new hopes of reconciliation. The question on Algerian minds is whether France will offer an apology. France 24

The Children of Hannibal
[...] Why is the Arab Spring looking sunnier in the country in which it began? The answer has much to do with Tunisia’s remarkable 3,000-year history. The northernmost point on the African continent is just outside the Tunisian city of Bizerte. The Mediterranean bottlenecks there, with the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily about 100 miles to the north and east of Tunisia, respectively. The tiny Italian island of Pantelleria is even nearer: 37 miles away. Palermo, Sicily’s largest city, is closer to Tunis than it is to Rome. The City

The Global Religious Landscape
A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Major Religious Groups as of 2010. Worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. A comprehensive demographic study of more than 230 countries and territories conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life estimates that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the globe, representing 84% of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion. The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life

Fix Africa’s Statistics
First, we don’t really know how big (or small) many African economies are. In about half of them, the system of “national accounts” dates back to the 1960s (1968, to be precise); in the other half, it is from 1993. This means that measuring things like how much is produced, consumed or invested is done with methods from the times when computers were rare, the Internet did not exist and nobody spoke about “globalization.” That is, the methodology ignores the fact that some industries have disappeared and new ones were born. The Huffington Post

Saudi Arabia Stakes a Claim on the Nile
After draining four-fifths of its massive underground aquifer for unsustainable agriculture, the Saudi Kingdom turns to verdant Ethiopia. This piece is part of Water Grabbers: A Global Rush on Freshwater, a special National Geographic Freshwater News series on how grabbing land—and water—from poor people, desperate governments, and future generations threatens global food security, environmental sustainability, and local cultures. National Geographics

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