Media Review for January 4, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 01/04/2013

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

Mali Islamist group revokes pledge to end hostilities
One of the armed Islamist groups occupying northern Mali, Ansar Dine, said Thursday it was revoking a pledge to end hostilities made last month during peace negotiations in Algeria.”Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith) has decided to revoke the offer to stop hostilities together with the negotiations being conducted in Ouagadougou,” said Ansar Dine’s leader, Iyad Ag Ghaly, in a statement published by Mauritanian news agency Sahara Medias. AFP

Northern Mali: A Violent Islamist Stronghold
This past spring, Islamic extremists allied with al-Qaida took control of northern Mali after a coup destabilized the country. Adam Nossiter, the West Africa bureau chief for The New York Times, has been reporting on the Islamist takeover in the north — but has had to do so by telephone. The kidnapping threat for reporters covering the conflict is virtually 100 percent, he says. “If a Westerner like myself were to show up in northern Mali right now,” he tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, “we would be certain to be kidnapped, held hostage for ransom and probably, possibly, executed.” NPR

Algeria mediates peace deal with Azawad Arabs
Less than two weeks after the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and radical Islamist group Ansar al-Din signed a Mali peace treaty, Algeria is trying to convince the Arab Front for the Liberation of Azawad (FNLA) to join the agreement. Algeria’s objective is to isolate al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and minimise the fallout of any intervention in northern Mali on neighbouring countries, especially Algeria, Mauritania and Niger. Magharebia

Thirteen terrorists killed in Algeria
Algerian terrorists suffered two major blows within the first 24 hours of 2013. A total of thirteen terrorists were killed in two separate operations carried out by security forces in the province of Boumerdes, 30 kilometres east of Algiers, on Monday (December 31st) and Tuesday. Over the past few months, security forces have been closing in on small terrorist groups still in hiding within the Boumerdes-Tizi-Ouzou-Bouira triangle, the traditional stronghold of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). Magharebia

Leader of Algerian ruling party resigns
The RND has been shaken for months by a movement led by former Minister of Health and Sport Yahia Guidoum, which has been claiming the departure of Ouyahia. In statements to Xinhua, Bachir Medjhed, a political analyst, said that “the resignation of Ouyahia has been expected, as it is part of the wind of change blowing on the political parties in Algeria. The people do not want a leader forever.” “After the stepping down of the leader of two prominent opponent parties, namely the secular Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), and the leftist Socialist Forces Front (FFS), now it is the turn on the RND, and later on the other ruling party National Liberation Front (FLN), whose leader Abdelaziz Belkhadem is being contested,” the analyst said. Xinhua

Morocco’s Engagement with the Sahel Community – by Benjamin P. Nickels
The Arab Spring’s echoes in sub-Saharan Africa are more complex than initially imagined; for example, much has been made of how Libya’s crisis has led to Mali’s crisis, but rather less has been said about how the transitions in North Africa may set the stage for new forms of security cooperation in the Sahel. Such possibilities are quietly taking shape now, even as the world struggles to find a multilateral response to northern Mali. A prime example is the upcoming January 2013 meeting of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) in N’djamena, Chad, where Morocco will likely continue its steps to take command of the organization. Sada – Carnegie Enndowment

Mauritania, Senegal partner against terrorism
Mauritania and Senegal just launched a large-scale awareness campaign against terrorism along their shared border. “Mauritanian and Senegalese army delegations explain to villagers that they need to get involved in the fight against terrorism by promptly reporting any movements of suspicious individuals or groups to the nearest authorities,” said about the joint initiative launched on December 24th. Soldiers are visiting communities on both sides of the Senegal River to tell citizens about the “dangers that terrorism, cross-border crime and trafficking of all kinds pose to their peace of mind and safety”, the Mauritanian news site said. Magharebia

Inside disputed Western Sahara
The fighting drove much of the indigenous population of Western Sahara into refugee camps in Tindouf in southern Algeria, but some remain as a minority within the territory, west of the 2,600-kilometre separation wall that Morocco built during the war with the Polisario. The UN peacekeeping mission, MINURSO, has limited jurisdiction: unusually for such missions, the UN Security Council has not given it a mandate to monitor rights abuses. Nor is it sufficiently staffed: the mission has only six police officers and 237 military personnel covering an area larger than Britain. MINURSO staff said they need an additional 10 civilian police just to monitor their own compound. Al Jazeera

Central African Republic president refuses to leave power, defying rebels
Central African Republic President Francois Bozize will refuse to leave power during talks with rebels, his spokesman said on Thursday, rejecting the insurgents’ main demand and raising the prospect of a return to fighting. The Seleka rebel alliance, which has accused Bozize of reneging on a past peace deal, advanced to within striking distance of the mineral-rich nation’s capital this week before bowing to international pressure to start negotiations. Reuters

Diplomats seek progress on Central African Republic crisis
International diplomats are meeting Thursday in Gabon for talks aimed at resolving a brewing crisis in the Central African Republic, where rebels are threatening the capital. The discussions in the Gabonese capital, Libreville, come a day after the United Nations called on the C.A.R. government and rebels to end violence and turn to dialogue. Diplomats from the United States and Japan are expected to meet separately with Nassour Guelendouksia Ouaido, secretary general of the Economic Community of Central African States, a spokesman for the regional body said. CNN

22 civil society actors to take part in Central African Republic’s peace talks
The Central African Republic’s civil society groups will take part in the peace negotiations over the ongoing conflict between the government and the Seleka coalition of rebels, scheduled to take place in Libreville from Jan. 8 under the guidance of the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), Xinhua heard on Thursday. Xinhua

Kenya’s long walk to free elections
Three issues define the race to succeed President Mwai Kibaki. Firstly, how the trials at the International Criminal Court will affect political stability and the fortunes of two of the leading presidential candidates, deputy prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta and former cabinet minister William Samoei Ruto. Kenya’s courts have yet to decide if Kenyatta and Ruto should be able to run in the presidential polls with their trials pending in The Hague. The Africa Report

Africa: What to watch in 2013
The headline events in 2013 – political upsets in national elections, multibillion-dollar mineral and oil deals, new threats for US and African forces along the Sahelian belt – will concentrate the minds of policymakers and journalists. But do not forget the longer-term developments in the coming pages: they grab fewer headlines but may prove more transformative. Three forces for change will gather pace on the continent this year. East Africa will lead the energy revolution, developing its oil and gas resources with Asia’s hyper-economies.

State Dept. on U.S. as 2013 Chair of Counter-Piracy Contact Group
In 2013, the United States will chair the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, a partnership of nearly 80 countries and international organizations that has been working since 2009 to turn the tide on maritime crime along one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors. In a communiqué following their December 11, 2012 meeting in New York, the Contact Group noted continued significant reductions in attacks and hijackings and called for a renewed international commitment to combating piracy through military, law enforcement, and development activities.

Blighted economies force Sudans to negotiating table
Motivated in large part by the fragile economies of their respective nations, the Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents will meet in Ethiopia on January 4 to try to resolve oil and border conflicts. France 24

Sudan’s VP says American book proves local centers received US funds to topple regime
The Sudanese 1st Vice President Ali Osman Taha has defended the recent crackdown on independent pro-democracy centers and suggested they are undercover bodies whose goal is to undermine the regime. Speaking at an interview on Sudan TV, Taha said that many international intelligence agencies use these centers as an “interface” to implement their agendas. “This is no secret. There is now an American book called ’The Rogue state’. This books talks about the connection of some organization with CIA [...] in many countries. Even some Sudanese groups were mentioned by name,” Taha said. Sudan Tribune

Israel completes most of Egypt border fence
Two years after construction began, Israel has finished the bulk of the work on a fence along its border with Egypt. Closing off the rambling, 140-mile-long stretch of desert border will prevent the “unfettered flow of illegal infiltrators, the smuggling of drugs and weapons,” said a statement from the Defense Ministry, which oversaw the $400-million engineering project. Speaking at a ceremony marking the completion of the main section, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the effort to curb the illegal entry of migrants from Africa, reduced from more than 2,000 a month in January 2012 to fewer than 40 in December. LA Times

M23 rebels threaten to quit DR Congo talks over ceasefire
The M23 rebel group has threatened to pull out of peace talks with the Democratic Republic of Congo government unless President Joseph Kabila signs a ceasefire agreement. Talks are due to start in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Friday. A Congo government spokesman told the Reuters news agency it rejected a rebel demand he described as “pointless”. BBC

Cash crunch threatens to delay Madagascar election
This year’s presidential election in Madagascar — billed as a way out of the country’s crippling three-year political crisis — could be derailed by a lack of funding, the country’s electoral agency warned Thursday. Vote organisers face a cash shortfall of at least $13 million ahead of polling due on May 8, with preparations stalled by the cash shortfall. “The difficulties and delays are due to the delayed release of funds,” Fano Rakotondrazaka, spokesman of the electoral commission Cenit, told AFP. AFP

Zimbabwe halts seizures of foreign-owned farms
Zimbabwe has ceased grabbing foreign-owned farms protected by bilateral investment agreements after a group of 40 Dutch farmers won a lawsuit for the loss of their properties, the lands minister said Thursday. Times Live

Mine Closures Hit South Africa Social Programs
For years, South African authorities have required global miners to help prop up public services. Now, as economic and labor troubles shake up the mining industry, communities are facing a double hit: With many companies closing mines, rural communities are grappling not only with large-scale job losses, but also with a blow to social services the mining firms supported. That leaves local governments to fill the void in areas that are already struggling to cope following a half-year of labor actions over wages and poor living conditions, often shacks without running water or plumbing. The Wall Street Journal

Japan and China to compete for Zimbabwean coal
Japan and China are involved in a scramble for Zimbabwe’s vast coal deposits, as the southern African country goes all out in search of investors. Energy experts believe, because of its coal deposits, Zimbabwe has the capacity to become the largest independent power producing country in the region outside South Africa, but capacity constraints hamper exploration and exports. Africa Report

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