Media Review for March 6, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 03/06/2013

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

Kenyatta holds lead on second day of tense Kenya vote count
Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces an international trial for crimes against humanity, held a steady lead as votes were tallied Wednesday from Kenya’s presidential election, the first since bloody violence five years ago after disputed polls. Times Live

The accidental run-off: Kenya left in limbo by confusion at the polls
Kenya was facing the possibility of an “accidental run-off” last night as hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots threatened to force a recount, or deny the frontrunner an outright majority, in the country’s critical election. With less than half the ballots counted from Monday’s vote, Uhuru Kenyatta, the wealthy son of the country’s founding father, led the race for the presidency with 53 per cent against the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga’s 42 per cent. The poll battle has been watched around the world for any sign of a repeat of the post-election violence that pushed the East Africa country close to a civil war five years ago. The Independant

Voting Monitors Say Kenya Showed Maturity in Balloting
The U.S.-based Carter Center election monitoring group plans to release its preliminary report on Kenya’s elections on Wednesday. “It was a peaceful election and it was a vibrant election,” said John Stremlau, the vice president for peace programs at the Carter Center. He says Kenyans have so far demonstrated maturity during Monday’s balloting. VOA

Land reform key to Kenya’s future
Land-related grievances were among the underlying causes of the violence that followed Kenya’s disputed presidential election results in 2007. Some communities, such as those in the worst-affected Rift Valley Province, invaded land that did not legally belong to them but which they perceived to be their birthright. More recently, conflict in regions in the north and near the coast have been driven in part by land-related interests. IRIN

What Causes Some Elections to Go Violent?
In the winter of 2007, machete-wielding mobs marauded around the Kenya, hacking rival tribes to death and burning women and children alive. In all, more than 1,300 people died and 600,000 people were displaced in the violence that followed the country’s previous election. The Democracy ReportThis time, Kenyans stocked up on staples like flour, rice, bread ahead of Monday’s vote in case riots broke out again. But although watchers both inside and outside of Kenya steeled themselves for violence, this year’s election was comparatively peaceful. While it’s still possible that the country’s political rivalries could turn deadly if there are reports of voting irregularities or a contentious run-off, only a few pockets of violence broke out on voting day, and it wasn’t clear that it was election-related. The Atlantic

French Officials Warn ‘Success’ in Mali Won’t End Islamist Threat
As the French-led offensive against Islamist militants in Mali advances, diplomats and intelligence officials in Paris are beginning to tamp down expectations that eliminating al-Qaeda-linked extremism in the region can be achieved anytime soon. Despite the military operation continuing to inflict heavy losses on jihadi combatants hunkered down in northern Mali’s mountainous border area, they say, the amorphous terrorist threat those extremists pose makes full military victory a relative notion. Time

Mauritania mulls Mali deployment
Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said Monday (March 4th) in Nouakchott that the country was ready to join a UN force in Mali. “If the situation changes… there will be nothing preventing Mauritania, as a UN member, from sending troops to the north (of Mali) or in the country’s western regions to provide stability and security,” Ould Abdel Aziz said at a joint press conference with his visiting Niger counterpart Mahamadou Issoufou. Both Niger and Mauritania share the same views on the anti-terror fight and rule out negotiations with terrorists, Ould Abdel Aziz added. Magharebia

EU to train Mali army from April
European Union soldiers are on track to start training Malian troops on 2 April, with the first schooled battalion expected to be ready for the field in July, the commander of the EU training mission said on Tuesday. “There is a considerable need,” French General Francois Lecointre said during a visit to Brussels. “This army has to be completely restructured.” About half of the Malian army – some 3 000 soldiers – are due to be instructed during the 15-month EU mission, which will involve the deployment of up to 550 European troops to train, protect and assist. News 24

Niger remains wary of Mali crisis on its doorstep
Niger, like Mali, was recently the scene of a military putsch but democracy was soon restored. The Nigerien military handed power back to civilians in 2011, just as they had promised a year earlier when they ousted President Mamadou Tandja, accused of hanging on to power. After 20 years in opposition Mahamadou Issoufou was elected president in 2011, in a poll endorsed by outside observers. “From the outset security was the top priority for the authorities,” says Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, head of Niger’s Lasdel research centre. “They did everything they could to maintain stability, building up the army and intelligence service. On the foreign policy front they got it all right.” The Guardian

Phone call links Benghazi attack to al Qaeda commander
Shortly after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, a phone call was placed from the area. Whoever made the call was excited. “Mabruk, Mabruk!” he repeated, meaning “Congratulations” in Arabic. Two sources with high-level access to Western intelligence services have told CNN the call was made to a senior figure in al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM. There is no proof that the call was specifically about the attack, in which U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed, but the sources say that is the assumption among those with knowledge of the call. CNN

US names Philip H Gordon as new adviser for Mena region
The White House has named a new top policy coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf. Philip H Gordon, former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, will take up his post on March 11, the American national security adviser, Tom Donilon, announced on Saturday. The National

Risk of ‘Ethnic War’ in Eastern Congo Town
Up to 100,000 people have fled a town in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where government forces have been battling a militia for most of the past week. There are fears the fighting at the town of Kitchanga could become a spreading ethnic conflict. The fighting around the town of Kitchanga is between the Democratic Republic of Congo’s national army and a militia called the Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo. VOA

Mad Money: Why foreign aid is at the heart of civil war in Congo
[...] There is substantial proof that Rwanda and Uganda are now supporting M23. Both countries deny the charges, but U.N. investigators and Human Rights Watch reports document soldiers, ammunition, and supplies passing from Rwanda to M23. Western governments believe the allegations, which has led to some foreign aid being withheld from Rwanda. The United States cut a symbolic $200,000 in military support to Rwanda — an insignificant portion of an aid package estimated at $200 million annually. Britain delayed a $33 million aid payment. But extensive Western support to the Rwandan government is likely to continue despite the violence in Congo. Foreign Policy

Kony 2012, one year later: Success or failure?

One year ago today, Jason Russell, director and co-founder of Invisible Children, posted a YouTube video titled Kony 2012. Six days later it had more than 100 million views. The video (seen below) detailed acts against humanity by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda and the Republic of Congo, and called for the world to make its leader Joseph Kony famous. Globalpost

Gulf of Guinea naval exercise concludes successfully
Fifteen nations have concluded Exercise Obangame Express 2013, an at-sea naval exercise focused on counter-piracy and maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. It provided African, European and Atlantic partner maritime services the opportunity to work together, share information and refine methods to help the Gulf of Guinea maritime nations better monitor and enforce territorial waters and exclusive economic zones, US Africa Command said. DefenseWeb

Only “friendly countries” to monitor Zimbabwe election
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party says western observers will not be allowed to observe Zimbabwe’s elections, in retaliation to sanctions imposed on the country. But the move is likely to trigger new tensions in the southern African nation’s coalition government, as other parties insist Zanu PF cannot take such a decision unilaterally. The Africa Report

Ruthless Kidnapping Rings Reach From Desert Sands to U.S. Cities
[...] To the outside world, Eritrea is a little-known sliver of Red Sea coastline above the Horn of Africa. But refugees fleeing its single-party regime have become the primary victims of what human rights groups say is one the world’s more elusive and terrifying kidnapping rings. The refugees are typically captured as they cross Eritrea’s border, then trafficked into regions of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula that are virtually lawless, creating an open season for smugglers who hold victims while extorting family members in Africa, Europe and the U.S. The Wall Street Journal

A Bold Bill for change opens up the Debate on Nigeria’s Oil Industry
Ever since Nigeria’s first oil find at Olobiri in 1956, the question of who should benefit and pay for the costs and consequences of oil production has been a contentious issue; often with little consensus amongst the key players – namely the Nigerian government, the oil companies, and the various communities affected – on who spilled what, where and when. Dealing with such a hornets’ nest of interests has often seemed insurmountable, yet a bill before Nigeria’s assembly and president seeks to change the situation. African Argument

Five Nigerian campaigns you should know about
From oil theft to online education and government finance. The Guradian

Nigeria on its way to overtaking SA as Africa’s biggest economy
The ever-expanding moonscape that stretches out behind a wall holding back the Atlantic Ocean here will one day host a project designed to help anchor Nigeria as Africa’s biggest economy. Times Live

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

USAID’s Shah Optimistic About Somalia’s Future
Rajiv Shah, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said he is optimistic about the future of Somalia. “Today the Somalia government is attempting to build its own capacity and fight corruption to make sure that public finances are transparent and that public services are being delivered to their people,” Shah said in a February 28 conference call with African reporters.

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