Media Review for August 7, 2013

By Africa Center Media Review
Updated: 08/07/2013

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

Nairobi airport closes as fire crews tackle blaze
A huge fire has ravaged the main international airport in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) – a key regional hub – has been closed, passengers evacuated and incoming flights diverted. The fire is now said to have been contained but there has been criticism of the time it took emergency services to respond. Images from the scene showed flames leaping from one of the main buildings. Cabinet secretary for transport Michael Kamau said the fire was “very severe” and urged people to stay away from the airport. BBC

Italy ‘agrees to take migrants rejected by Malta’
A tanker carrying 102 rescued migrants is heading for Italy after Rome reportedly agreed to take them, ending a stand-off between Malta and the ship. Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat thanked his Italian counterpart Enrico Letta, saying the decision would “reinforce” ties between the countries. Malta had resisted EU pressure to take in the migrants, insisting the tanker should take them to Libya. It argued that to accept them would set a “dangerous precedent”. The tiny island state receives thousands of illegal migrants heading to Europe each year. BBC

Al-Qaida chief’s message led to embassy closures
An intercepted secret message between al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri and his deputy in Yemen about plans for a major terror attack was the trigger that set off the current shutdown of many U.S. embassies, two officials told The Associated Press on Monday. A U.S. intelligence official and a Mideast diplomat said al-Zawahri’s message was picked up several weeks ago and appeared to initially target Yemeni interests. The threat was expanded to include American or other Western sites abroad, officials said, indicating the target could be a single embassy, a number of posts or some other site. Associated Press

In Egypt, Sen. McCain calls Morsi ouster a ‘coup’
Two U.S. senators met with the Egyptian military Tuesday and urged it to release jailed members of the Muslim Brotherhood whose government the military deposed in what one called a “coup.” Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham arrived here Monday on behalf of President Obama to persuade Egypt’s leaders to hold talks with the former Brotherhood government on scheduling new elections. USA Today

US Senators Press Egyptians to End Crisis
Following their talks Senators Graham and McCain told journalists that “democracy is the only road forward” and stressed that “all Egyptians have the right to participate if they do so non-violently.” Both urged the “release of prisoners” of the Muslim Brotherhood by the interim military government and Graham called for a quick return to national dialogue. VOA

First criminal charges filed in Benghazi attack probe
Federal authorities investigating the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi have filed charges against Ahmed Abu Khattalah, leader of a Libyan militia that officials believe was involved in the assault, people briefed on the investigation said. The charges under seal are the first criminal counts to emerge from the probe. The investigation of the attack last September 11 that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others continues, these people said, as investigators try to build their case against Khattalah and others who authorities believe were involved. CNN

Nigeria seeks extradition of al Qaeda suspect to U.S.
Nigeria has asked a court to grant an extradition request for one of its citizens to the United States over charges of aiding the Yemeni branch of al-Qaeda, court documents seen by Reuters on Tuesday showed. U.S. and Nigerian authorities have accused Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi of travelling to Yemen with members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in 2010 and 2011 and receiving $8,600 in order to return to Nigeria and recruit English-speaking radicals. Reuters

Mossad interrogated us, Hezbollah suspects tell Nigerian court
Two Lebanese nationals accused of planning an attack in Nigeria told a court in that country that Mossad agents had interrogated them for 14 days, depriving them of sleep and peppering them with questions about the identities of Hezbollah agents and the locations of rockets in south Lebanon, the AFP news agency reported. “I was taken to an interrogation room where I met three Israeli Mossad agents,” Mustapha Fawaz told the court Monday. “They handcuffed my hands behind my back for days. I lost count because they did not allow me to sleep for several days.” The Times of Israel

Spanish court provisionally jails pedophile pardoned by Morocco as officials discuss his fate
A Spaniard who was convicted in Morocco of raping 11 children and then mistakenly pardoned by the North African country’s king must be held in jail while officials from both countries discuss his fate, a Spanish court said on Tuesday. Judge Fernando Andreu sent Daniel Galvan Vina to jail after the state prosecutor’s office said that his criminal record was very serious and there was a chance of flight, Spain’s National Court said in its ruling. The Washington Post

Mugabe Plans to Tranform Zimbabwe Through Wealth Transfer
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who won a disputed election last month, plans to transform the economy by transferring more wealth to its citizens, the ruling party said. Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front will boost the economy through its policies of indigenization and economic empowerment, the party said in a statement handed to reporters today in the capital, Harare. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president, center, and his son Bellarmine, second left, leaves after voting at a polling station in a school in Harare on July 31, 2013. Bloomberg

Economists Predict Bleak Future After Mugabe Re-Election
Robert Mugabe’s re-election as president of Zimbabwe last week raised concerns for many economists who believe the country’s foreign investment will greatly diminish under the 89-year-old’s economic policies. Those concerns took on greater significance Monday when the nation’s stock market suffered its largest one-day decline since 2009. VOA

Zimbabwe: African Observers Question Credibility of Polls
The dispute over the fairness of Zimbabwe’s election last week appears headed for the next summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) after Botswana called the credibility of polling into question. The Botswana government, long a critic of the standards of governance practised by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, issued a statement on Monday saying that the findings of its 80-strong observer team suggested that “an acceptable standard for free and fair elections” had not been met. allAfrica

U.S. Charges Two Men With Illegal Lobbying for Mugabe
President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe allegedly hired two Chicago men to lobby U.S. officials to lift economic sanctions against him in violation of federal law, according to a criminal complaint unsealed today. In exchange for those services rendered in 2008 and 2009, the men were to be paid $3.4 million, acting Chicago U.S. Attorney Gary S. Shapiro said in a statement issued today. Bloomberg

Three years after bloody election violence in Ivory Coast, tension simmers
Côte d’Ivoire has yet to reckon with the crimes committed during the conflict that followed its November 2010 presidential election, in which 3,000 people were killed and more than 150 women were raped. Although the country has taken some steps to pursue justice since, they have been slow and largely ineffective. The unresolved issues from the post-election period have contributed to countrywide political polarization and reduced faith in both the government and the electoral process. If these crimes are not addressed, the country’s prospects of becoming a successful democracy will be in jeopardy. Christian Science Monitor

Côte d’Ivoire: UN mission welcomes release of 14 former Gbagbo government aides
The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) today welcomed the decision by judicial authorities in Abidjan to provisionally release 14 officials from the former government headed by Laurent Gbagbo who are currently awaiting trial. “This development will bring about peace between all Ivorian political actors,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOCI, Aïchatou Mindaoudou. “It contributes to the pursuit for equal justice and is a good sign for a national dialogue that is truly republican, as part of the search for lasting reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire.” United Nations

Former Burundi rebel chief says to seek presidency in 2015
A former Burundian Hutu rebel leader believed by authorities to have been in exile in the Congo for almost three years said on Tuesday he would take a second stab at the presidency in 2015 elections. Agathon Rwasa ran for the top post in the central African country in 2010, but withdrew from the race after accusing the ruling party of rigging the vote. He later fled, saying he feared for his safety. Burundian authorities believed he was hiding in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with fellow former combatants. Reuters

Group of UN experts raise alarm over lawlessness in Central African Republic
A group of United Nations independent experts today warned that the rule of law in the Central African Republic (CAR) is “almost non-existent” as abuses of power and human rights violations have become pervasive in the country. “We are seriously concerned over reported acts of killings, torture, arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, enforced disappearances, ‘mob justice’ and the pervasive climate of insecurity and the absence of the rule of law which have prevailed in the country in the last five months,” the human rights experts said, urging authorities to take immediate steps to put an end to all human rights violations and ensure there is no impunity for the perpetrators. United Nations

Sudan: UN officials appeal to Government to renew work permits for Darfur aid workers
Two senior United Nations relief officials today called on the Government of Sudan to renew the work permits for international aid workers based in Darfur so they can resume protection and assistance to hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians in the region. Of the 37 international staff of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) based in Darfur, only 17 currently have valid permits to continue their work. Permits in the other 20 cases have not been renewed, despite extended follow-up by UNHCR with the relevant Government authorities. United Nations

S. African Arms Deal Graft Inquiry Faces Credibility Test
The credibility of a South African panel investigating allegations of corruption linked to about $5 billion worth of weapons purchased in the late 1990s is in doubt amid delays and several resignations. Judge Willie Seriti, chairman of the commission of inquiry, postponed public hearings that were due to begin today in the capital, Pretoria, by two weeks following a request from the Defense Ministry. The inquest has already been delayed by four months and hampered after two of the three judges on the panel quit. Bloomberg

Kenya’s new graft tsar sworn in despite allegations over integrity
After a year of legal battles over his integrity, Mumo Matemu was sworn in as chairman of Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on Monday. Graft has been rampant in the east African nation for decades. The anti-corruption body has struggled to make an impact because of the determined opposition of the political class. Matemu was appointed by the president to head the anti-graft body over a year ago. But the High Court nullified his appointment in September 2012 because of concerns over his integrity while working at the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC). Thomas Reuters Foundation

Congo-Brazzaville soldiers tried for Mpila depot blast
Twenty-three soldiers have gone on trial in Congo-Brazzaville over a 2012 arms depot explosion which killed at least 240 people. The soldiers have been charged with arson and harming state security.They appeared in a packed court room amid tight security, reports the AFP news agency. BBC

Uganda public order bill is ‘blow to political debate’
Ugandan MPs have passed a controversial bill limiting public protests – branded a “serious blow to open political debate” by Amnesty International. The Public Order Management bill was passed despite fierce criticism from religious leaders, opposition MPs and the public as well as rights groups. Police approval will now be required if three or more people want to gather publicly to discuss political issues. BBC

Conservation scheme delivers carbon cash to poor Kenyans
For 14 years, Lalo Mwakupha played hide and seek with the authorities as he poached animals and burned charcoal in the 200,000-hectare Kasigau wildlife corridor separating Kenya’s Tsavo East and West National Parks. Today, dressed in green ranger fatigues, the 35-year-old patrols the jungles he once plundered, arresting those now doing the same. Since April 2011, Mwakupha has been employed as an unarmed ranger by Wildlife Works (WW), a company that partners with local people to protect the wildlife corridor from encroachment and poaching. Thomas Reuters Foundation

How African innovation can take on the world
In this period of gloomy economic forecasts, Africa’s rise has become a widely discussed international policy topic. The sweeping optimism about Africa’s economic prospects has been reinforced by 2013 projections that the continent will grow faster than the world average. The content of the growth, however, has been a source of discomfort among African leaders. They worry that this growth is linked to a commodity boom which is fueled largely by China’s demand. CNN

FOR THE RECORD – AFRICA – U.S. Government Events, Statements, and Articles.

A weekly compilation by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS)

Secretary Kerry on Zimbabwe’s Presidential Election
“Zimbabweans voted in their country’s first national elections this week since the violent and disputed polls in 2008. These elections were an opportunity for Zimbabwe to move forward on a democratic path and provide a foundation for growth and prosperity.

The people of Zimbabwe should be commended for rejecting violence and showing their commitment to the democratic process. But make no mistake: in light of substantial electoral irregularities reported by domestic and regional observers, the United States does not believe that the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people.”

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