Media Review for December 7, 2012

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 12/07/2012

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

Long queues for Ghana election
Long queues of voters have formed for parliamentary and presidential elections in Ghana, which is seen as a model for democracy in Africa. A tight race is expected between President John Mahama, 54, and Nana Akufo-Addo, 68, in the newly oil-rich country – one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. A biometric voter identification system is being used for the first time. BBC

On a Knife Edge: Ghana’s Close Election to Test its Peace and Democracy
Through the campaign, rhetoric has got stronger and accusations of fraud and violence have increased. With the result be too close to call, how will things pan out? Think Africa Press

Opinion: What Ghana can teach the rest of Africa about democracy
Unlike their Western counterparts, Africans take elections very seriously — rising up early to queue patiently in line for hours under the hot sun and cast their ballots. Any misguided attempt to nullify or steal their votes will evoke a strong reaction from them. In fact, it explains why the destruction of an African country often begins with a dispute over the electoral process or transfer of power. In recent years, allegations of electoral fraud have stirred political violence and civil war, causing death and destruction in Ethiopia (2005), Kenya (2007), Zimbabwe (2008), DR Congo (2011), among others. CNN

Assessing Developments in Mali: Restoring Democracy and Reclaiming the North (video)
The Honorable Johnnie Carson, Assistant Secretary for African Affairs – U.S. Department of State: Download Testimony
The Honorable Earl Gast, Assistant Administrator for Africa – U.S. Agency for International Development: Download Testimony
Ms. Amanda Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa – Department of Defense: Download Testimony
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations – Subcommittee on African Affairs

Pentagon plans for multinational operation in Mali
[...] Amanda Dory, the Pentagon’s deputy assistant secretary for Africa, said the U.S. military has been able to gather intelligence to help shape the international force to fight Islamist extremists in northern Mali. “There’s plenty of other forms of information and intelligence that are circulating that give us enough insight for planning purposes,” she said in an interview Wednesday after testifying before the subcommittee. “You never have as much information as you want, but it’s been sufficient for planning purposes.” The Independant

US doubts African military intervention plan for Mali

The United States has raised strong doubts that a planned African-led intervention force will be tough enough to tackle Al-Qaeda linked militants in Mali, diplomats said. The United States is expected to become a major financier of any operation to oust militant Islamists and rebels who have taken over much of the West African nation and imposed a brutal rule. AFP

The Long War Reaches Mali
Despite withdrawals of our combat troops, the United States has ensnared itself in a self-perpetuating Long War now spreading to Mali. North Africa currently is the “central focus” in the War on Terror, according to Bloomberg. (July 31) Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is “strengthening its hold in Northern Mali,” and from there increasing its recruiting in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Europe, and is perhaps the best armed and financed Qaeda “franchise” in the world, according to Gen. Carter Ham. (New York Times, December 3, 2012) The Huffington Post

Mali makes further appeal to UN over deployment of support mission
Mali’s Foreign Minister Tieman Coulibaly, supported by the African Union and Ecowas, has again made a strong appeal to the UN Security Council to authorise the deployment of an Africa-led International Support Mission in Mali. The Council is currently considering a report by the UN Secretary General on the risks of military intervention in Mali. SABC News

Why No One’s Going To Timbuktu These Days
Tourism, the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people in the West African country of Mali, has ground to a halt. Since the coup in March and the subsequent occupation of the north by militants linked to al-Qaida, Mali has virtually become a no-go zone for visitors. The impact on the economy and people’s lives is profound. In the historic city of Segou, about 150 miles north of the capital, Bamako, the effects are obvious. NPR

The U.S. Pivots (Slightly) Toward Africa
There is an old saying, ‘if you’re a hammer, you will see everything else as a nail.’ Today there is no bigger hammer in the world than the U.S. military, and in one of its newest interests, the continent of Africa, nails are sprouting everywhere. Just this week (as reported in the New York Times and elsewhere) General Carter Ham, Commander of AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command, speaking at the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, said that “as each day goes by, Al Qaeda and other organizations are strengthening their hold in Northern Mali.” African Arguments

The Rice Stuff
Criticized unfairly on decades-old Africa policy, Susan Rice has shown she’s got the right temperament to be secretary of state. The debate surrounding Ambassador Susan Rice’s possible nomination to be secretary of state is stuck in a Washington echo chamber, reverberating between the content of Benghazi talking points and U.S. inaction during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, when Rice was on the National Security Council. Neither point of departure is particularly revealing. I served as one of Rice’s senior deputies for nearly four years while she was assistant secretary of state for African affairs, and would point to several events from those years that tell us considerably more about what kind of secretary of state she would be. Foreign Policy

From The Ashes Of Arab Spring, A New Generation Of Global Jihad Emerges
Overnight, the name of their organization, Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law), became famous. They were brought into the spotlight after the deadly attacks on several U.S. embassies that they were accused of organizing after the broadcast of the Islamophobic movie “Innocence of Muslims.” In 2011, in the course of just a few months, groups with the same name sprang up in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya – four countries where the Arab Spring had taken place, and repressive governments had been toppled. They all shared the same goal: to establish an Islamic state in these countries freed from dictatorship. Worldcrunch – Le Monde

Global Terrorisme Index – 2012
The index combines a number of factors associated with terrorist attacks to build a thorough picture of the impact of terrorism over a 10-year period, illustrating trends, and providing a useful data series for further analysis by researchers and policymakers. Produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the GTI is based on data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) which is collected and collated by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). The GTD is considered to be the most comprehensive dataset on terrorist activity and has codified over 104,000 cases of terrorism. Vision of Humanty

Defiant Morsi refuses to back down on referendum
Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi refused on Thursday to curb his sweeping powers or to call off the constitutional referendum that has triggered the country’s worst political crisis since the 2011 revolution. France 24

Obama expresses deep concern to Egypt’s Mursi about violence
U.S. President Barack Obama called Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Thursday to express his “deep concern” about the deaths and injuries of protesters in Egypt and said dialogue between opposing sides should be held without preconditions, the White House said. Reuters

Zimbabwe deploys troops to Mozambique border
Zimbabwe has deployed troops to its border with Mozambique as concern over military instability emanating from an uprising by Alfonso Dhlakama looms large.Dhlakama is the leader and commander in chief of Mozambican opposition party and rebel movement Renamo. He said last month that his dissident army was keen to wage war and destroy Mozambique unless the government there met his demands, which include political reforms and a revision to the 1992 peace accord. DefenceWeb

Congo’s Weak Peace Process
[...] The rebels were largely disenfranchised by the internationally mediated peace process following Congo’s 1996 – 2003 war, and their interests in eastern Congo relate both to economics and security, explains Jason Stearns of the Rift Valley Institute. The M23 pulled out from Goma because they needed a “PR boost,” says Stearns. But, he warns, the distrust between the Congolese government and the rebels make potential negotiations difficult. “The prospects for a comprehensive deal that would lead to a demobilization and reintegration of the rebels are probably still slim,” Stearns says. Council on Foreign Relations

Bordering on the Dangerous: The Invisible Frontline in North Kivu
While international media attention focuses on events in Goma, the political and military landscape of the eastern Congo is changing as Kabila’s hold crumbles in North Kivu. Think Africa Press

Does the hunt for Joseph Kony have any hunters?
More than one year after President Barack Obama sent roughly 100 elite U.S. military advisors into Central Africa to help African armies bring an end to a reign of terror by the messianic guerilla leader Joseph Kony, the mission remains stalled. [...] “The [task force] is not close to realizing the vision of a multinational force conducting effective offensive operations against the LRA and protecting civilians,” reads a paper entitled “Getting Back on Track,” released today by a coalition of human rights groups, including the Enough Project and Resolve. “It exists only on paper and cannot be considered operational.” Foreign Policy

Visit to Kismayo, Somalia, shows al Shabab militants still roam countryside
On the four-mile stretch of paved road between the Kenyan army’s main base and the southern Somali city of Kismayo, a man leading a donkey cart whispered a short warning in the local Somali language as a fleet of Kenyan troops and allied Somali militiamen rolled past. “Watch out,” the man, who gave only his first name, Adan, in the brief encounter, told a McClatchy correspondent. “There might be bombs on the road ahead.” McClatchy News

Somali Pirate Attacks Plummet in 2012
Attacks by Somali pirates have fallen dramatically in 2012, a development chalked up to multi-national naval efforts, increased security measures by ships, and developments on land in Somalia. In the Regional Marine Rescue Coordination Centre, overlooking the port in Mombasa, Kenya, officers watch monitors displaying the location of all the ships along the Horn of Africa. VOA

George Clooney: Sudan Village Burnings A War Crime
ctor George Clooney and a group of U.S. genocide scholars in the United States are warning that war crimes are taking place in an obscure conflict in Sudan’s southern region. Clooney has long worked to prevent conflict in Sudan and South Sudan, and he co-founded a group that uses satellite imagery to monitor acts of war there. That group, the Satellite Sentinel Project, said Thursday that 26 villages were intentionally set on fire last month by Sudanese forces. The Huffington Post

Kenya: the rise of the ‘Uhuruto’
Like the platypus, the Uhuruto — the newly-unveiled political alliance featuring Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto (with a supporting cast of Musalia Mudavadi and Najib Balala) — is a strange beast, consisting of two such different parts that had been thought to exist only in fantasy. African Argument

Africa: Twelve Countries Rank in Top 75 on Anti-Corruption Index
Twelve African countries are ranked among the 75 least corrupt nations in the world, according to the 2012 index published Wednesday by Transparency International. Published annually, the Corruption Perceptions Index draws upon a range of data sources to determine how corrupt countries’ public sectors are perceived to be. On a scale from 100 (highly clean) to 0 (highly corrupt), two-thirds of all countries scored below 50. This year’s survey includes 176 countries, down from 182 in 2011. allAfrica

On the line: Africa connects to citizen media
Networking a grassroots coalition of journalists, activists and bloggers provides challenges both online and offline. As Ghanaians head to the polls in presidential elections, the debate over the country’s leadership has been going on for at least a year. Helping to frame that debate is Kinna Likimani. She heads Ghana Decides, a group of Ghanaian bloggers using social media to discuss the elections. The bloggers use Twitter, Facebook and Google Hangouts to discuss the election candidates, debate issues – such as womens’ prospects in the country’s politics – and encourage Ghanaians to turn up and vote. Al Jazeera

The Clandestine Slums That Changed The Face Of Modern Morocco
[...] Welcome to Bir Jdid, an “illegal block” or clando as they say in Morocco – where a piece of land costs nothing, where there are no construction permits, no urban planning. Overnight, people secretly bring in cinder blocks, which they top with sheet metal. It takes them all night, but they have to be done by sunset, so that authorities can’t stop them. These past 10 years, clando neighborhoods like these have grown all over the country. Officials call them “the Kingdom’s new plague,” adding that “We were almost done with shantytowns but now these new kinds of illegal housing are sprouting elsewhere.” Officials have ordered every new shed to be demolished, which has slowed down the phenomenon. Worldcrunch – Le Monde

Media Review Archive
View Past Issues