Media Review for February 7, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 02/07/2013

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

Tunisia’s Ennahda rejects dissolving cabinet
Tunisia’s ruling Islamic Ennahda party has rejected Prime Minister Hamdi Jebali’s proposal to dissolve the government and install a cabinet of technocrats in a bid to restore calm after the killing of an opposition leader. “The prime minister did not ask the opinion of his party,” said Abdelhamid Jelassi, Ennahda’s vice-president on Thursday. “We in Ennahda believe Tunisia needs a political government now. We will continue discussions with others parties about forming a coalition government.” Al Jazeera

Uprising in Tunisia as regime critic is murdered
Tunisia has dissolved its government in an attempt to stem violent protests sparked by the assassination of a liberal opposition politician, in the biggest threat to the country’s stability since the Arab Spring. The Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali took the decision to install a unity administration of technocrats until elections can be held after Chokri Belaid was shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis. Mr Belaid was an outspoken critic of the coalition government led by Mr Jebali’s moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which family members were quick to blame for the killing. The Independant

Tinderbox: An Assassination Brings the Spotlight Back to Tunisia
Tunisians complain that their country never got the full credit it deserved for starting the Arab Spring: the young revolutionaries who stormed Kasbah Square two years ago had barely removed their longtime dictator from office — an astonishing achievement at the time — before their thunder was stolen by copycats in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. As the fruits of the Spring have been soured by ugly, often violent political conflict, Egypt has monopolized the world’s attention. Tunisia’s own postrevolutionary complications have gotten little notice. Time

Stash of weapons, rocket rattle Mali town of Gao
Soldiers combing abandoned jihadist hideouts and sand-dusted streets for weapons have found industrial-strength explosives, raising the specter Wednesday of bomb attacks by the jihadists who fled into the desert after the arrival of French forces. As the French began talking about a timeline for a troop drawdown, there also were growing concerns that the Islamic militants may be creeping back toward their stronghold amid reports of clashes near Gao. AP on Stars and Stripes

As Mali Fighting Persists, France Vows to Exit in Weeks
Amid reports of continued skirmishes with Islamist extremists driven out of the main settlements of northern Mali, France renewed a promise on Wednesday that its soldiers would begin returning home within weeks, handing over authority to West African and Malian units charged with keeping the vast desert area under government control. The new York Times

France’s Mali Mission: Has al-Qaeda Already Been Defeated?
The continued assault Monday by French air forces against Islamist targets in the remote reaches of northern Mali served as a new reminder of how remarkably fast and far the Franco-Malian counteroffensive has advanced since beginning Jan. 11. Jihadi forces that had surged south to within 700 km of Mali’s capital, Bamako, in early January rapidly abandoned northern cities they’d controlled since last April as the French-backed counteroffensive progressed. The extremist units are believed to have retreated into Mali’s barren mountainous region near the border with Algeria, where French air strikes seek to immobilize them, reportedly pounding local fuel and supply depots. Time

France seeks UN peacekeepers for Mali
France has asked the United Nations Security Council to establish a peacekeeping force to Mali, where French forces have killed hundreds of al-Qaeda-linked fighters but are still coming under attack in territory reclaimed from the rebels. Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, said on Wednesday a peacekeeping force could be in place by April, incorporating troops being deployed under the banner of a West African intervention force, AFISMA, into a UN peacekeeping mission. Al Jazeera

A better way to keep Islamists at bay in Mali
France says it will withdraw from Mali once an African peacekeeping force is in place. To keep Islamists at bay, the US is considering increasing its military presence in the region. A better approach is to focus on fixing the governance issues that fuel radicalism to begin with. CS Monitor

Britain Seals French Military Axis in West Africa
British support for France’s military intervention in West African Mali, announced this week, follows a deepening of defense and foreign policy coordination between Europe’s two Atlantic powers that notably excludes the continent’s central power—Germany. Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said on Tuesday that 240 British soldiers would join the counterinsurgency effort in Mali where France joined government forces in pushing Islamist rebels out of cities and towns in the north of the country. The United Kingdom has also contributed two transport aircraft to the operation. Atlantic Sentinel

Can the AU Deliver Pax Africana?
Last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African Union (AU) leaders celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – the AU’s predecessor. They spoke of the OAU’s leadership in past liberation struggles and offered lofty visions for the future. But, in his final speech as AU assembly chairperson, Benin’s President Yayi Boni took a more critical look at the present. Referring to France’s recent military intervention in northern Mali, he asked: “How can we understand that when danger threatened its very basis, Africa, which has the means to organise its own defence, continued to wait?” Think Africa Press

Sudan served as a hub for receiving Al-Qaeda suspects nabbed by CIA
The CIA transferred five individuals suspected of having links to Al-Qaeda from Malawi to Sudan in 2003, according to a report released on Tuesday. The revealing report titled ‘Globalizing Torture’, issued by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI), provides a detailed account of assistance provided by more than 50 countries around the world to the United States in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Sudan Tribune

Corruption in the defence sector to get greater attention
[...] While Africa only accounted for 2% of this, it still spent US$32 billion that year. Much of this was spent on buying military weapons and hardware from developed countries. However, as Andrew Feinstein details in his book The Shadow World: Inside the Global Arms Trade, weapons procurement is usually shrouded in secrecy and, because of the toxic combination of vociferous greed and unaccountability, more often than not involves corrupt practices. It is therefore interesting to note that between 2007 and 2011 weapons transfers increased by 24% when compared to the previous four years. ISS

Cameroon: Is Biya’s 2035 Dream Becoming A Delusion?
In two short decades, Cameroonians will be enjoying the trappings and quality of life that go with living in an emerging economy – at least, that is, according to President Paul Biya’s 2035 vision. But is Biya’s vision more fantasy than prophecy? The status of ‘emerging nation’ is defined as one having achieved industrial capacity, and on the path to becoming a fully industrialised state. For Cameroon to do this in little over two decades would be miraculous – even more so because this Cameroonian miracle has not shown any sign of emerging during the last 30 years of Biya’s presidency. Think Africa Press

At Brussels conference, UN stresses need for dual-track approach to stabilize Mali
Both military and political efforts are vital if Mali’s partners are to help the country emerge from its ongoing crisis, the United Nations political chief stressed today at a conference held in Brussels to discuss the latest situation in the West African nation. “Ultimately, the success of our support to the Malian people will depend on the effective combination of our political and security efforts,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told the meeting, which also included the participation of regional bodies such as the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). UN

All set for Kenya’s presidential debate
All is set for Kenya’s first presidential debate to be aired live on eight television and 34 radio stations on Monday. Google will stream the debate online to the world, while international media outlets CNN and Reuters will also cover the event, officials said Wednesday. Six presidential candidates Raila Odinga, Uhuru Kenyatta, Musalia Mudavadi, Martha Karua, Peter Kenneth and James ole Kiyiapi have confirmed they will attend the debate to be held at the auditorium of the Brookhouse International School, Nairobi. Daily Nation

Poachers Devastate Gabon Elephant Population
Researchers say poachers may have killed as many as two-thirds of the elephants in Gabon’s Minkebe National Park in the past eight years. Results of an ongoing survey released by the government Wednesday show a loss of 11,000 elephants in the park since a similar survey was conducted in 2004. In an interview with VOA, Fiona Maisels of the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society said increased access to the park has spurred an increase in poaching. VOA

$600 000 for Mugabe’s 89th birthday bash

Preparations for Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s 89th birthday celebrations have begun, with the fundraising committee aiming to raise $600 000 for the event, according to a report. The state-owned Herald reported on Wednesday that the funds were expected to be raised from the country’s 10 provinces. The celebrations, slated for Chipadze Stadium in Bindura on 23 February, will be held under the theme “Youth for Indigenisation, Empowerment, Development and Employment Creation”. News 24

Ethiopia dam project is devastating the lives of remote indigenous groups
Human rights abuses in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo valley are said to be rampant, with tribal leaders imprisoned, dozens of people killed and troops cracking down on dissent ahead of the building of a massive dam, which is forcing the relocation of some of the most remote tribes in Africa. The valley, a Unesco world heritage site renowned for its isolated cultures and ethnic groups, is home to 200,000 pastoralist farmers including the Kwegu, Bodi, Mutsi and Nyangatom tribes. These groups all depend on the Omo river, which flows through their traditional land on its way to Lake Turkana in Kenya. The Guardian

Oil in Uganda: International Lessons for Success
The oil era is dawning in Uganda. It has the potential to accelerate development and drive the country’s transformation into a regional – and even global – economic player. But oil also brings risks – of the erosion of the relationship between people and government, of economic distortion, of increased corruption and of internal tensions. The ‘resource curse’ is a spectre that all Ugandans wish to avoid. A well-informed, inclusive national conversation about the management options available to Uganda is vital in generating broad-based political consensus robust enough to stand up to the pressures that oil will inevitably bring. Chatham House

Why Morocco Holds Mixed Fortunes for Investors
The uprisings of the Arab World reshuffled the political landscape in North Africa, toppling dictators in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. But Morocco is one country that has been able to resist the wave of revolutions, and holds mixed fortunes for foreign investors. “The jury is still out as to whether Morocco can remain fully insulated from what’s going on in neighboring North African countries and more recently Mali, which has increased the political and social risk of all of North Africa,” Slim Feriani, CEO at Advance Emerging Capital, told CNBC. A quick look at the local stock exchange, classified by the MSCI as an emerging market, delivers some perspective in that it has lost considerable appeal. Over the course of one year, the index fell over 20 percent and comes in as one of the worst performers from that group. CNBC

Polygamy Fading Out Of Fashion For African Muslims, Men And Women Alike
Young Muslim men in the Democratic Republic of Congo are less interested in having several wives than their fathers were. Facing rising prices and feuds over inheritance, the new generation doesn’t see how the benefits outweigh the costs of having multiple spouses in the same household. As for the women of the current generation coming of age, they see that wives are often the victims of polygamous customs, and reject this form of marriage. It’s also worth noting that it is no longer legal under Congolese law. Syfia

FOR THE RECORD – AFRICA – U.S. Government Events, Statements, and Articles
A weekly compilation by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS)

Defense Department Press Briefing from the Pentagon
January 29, 2013 – U.S. Department of Defense“Since French operations began on January 11, the U.S. has been sharing intelligence with the French. In addition, since January 21st, the United States has been providing airlift support to the French army. As of January 27th, the United States Air Force has flown 17 C-17 sorties, moving French personnel, supplies and equipment into Bamako. We have carried more than 391 tons of equipment and supplies and nearly 500 passengers.” – DOD Press Secretary George Little
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