Media Review for October 23, 2015

Army Surrounds Home of Congo Republic Opposition Leader
A Congo Republic opposition leader said late on Thursday that forces from leader Denis Sassou Nguesso’s presidential guard were surrounding his house, detaining him and three allies opposed to a vote on extending term limits. A referendum on Sunday will determine whether 71-year-old Sassou Nguesso can legally stand for a third consecutive term in next year’s election. The president, who has ruled for 31 of the past 36 years, is currently barred from running on account of both his age and constitutional term limits. As in other African countries like Burkina Faso and Burundi where veteran presidents have sought to prolong their grip on power, mass protests broke out in Congo Republic, an oil-rich, former French colony, this week. Four people died when security forces opened fire on protesters, and analysts have warned of further violence. Reuters Pascal Tsaty Mabiala: Fears for ‘Missing’ Congo Opposition Leader Who Protested Vote on Abolishing Presidential Term Limits
A leading figure in the Congolese opposition who has encouraged supporters to join protests against Sunday’s referendum on abolishing presidential term limits has been out of contact for several days, leading friends to fear for his safety. At least 11 people have died in the Republic of Congo’s capital, Brazzaville, and in the city of Pointe-Noire, since Tuesday when clashes broke out during a demonstration against President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s bid to change the country’s constitution to allow him to run for a third consecutive term of office.  The Independent

As Ivory Coast Heads to Polls, Many Left Out of Economic Boom
At 3 a.m. on a Sunday last month Charles Kakou was awoken by the trill of whistles he had helped distribute to warn that bulldozers had arrived to demolish his seafront community in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan. Police moved in with tear gas, arresting anyone who resisted. By the afternoon, Kakou and his neighbours were homeless and the last vestiges of what was once a 9 km-long (6 mile) coastal shantytown had been reduced to rubble. “We’ve been here for 40 years. All our children were born here,” he said, standing amid a vast expanse of sand and broken concrete adjacent to a highway, whose refurbishment authorities used to justify the eviction of tens of thousands of residents. In the five years since President Alassane Ouattara was elected, Ivory Coast has emerged from a decade-long political crisis and a 2011 civil war to become Africa’s rising star.  Reuters

Cote d’Ivoire: Henri Konan Bédié Backs Ouattara for Second Term – Interview
For former Ivory Coast president Henri Konan Bédié, the incumbent Alassane Ouattara deserves a second term in office. Bedie believes the ruling coalition, which includes his Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) will win the elections set for this month. The 81 year-old politician sang Ouattara’s praises in an interview with The Africa Report at his estate in Daoukuro. Below are excerpts of the interview. The Africa Reports

Uganda Begins Troop Withdrawal from South Sudan
The voluntary withdrawal of Ugandan troops from South Sudan is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to fully implement the peace agreement signed between President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar, according to presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny.   He says the pullout of troops from the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) from South Sudan will be completed within the first week in November. The withdrawal was a key demand of rebels loyal to former vice president Machar during peace negotiations to end the nation’s conflict held in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.  VOA

Ugandans in South Sudan Face Uncertain Future as UPDF Withdraws
The outbreak of war in South Sudan in 2013 put Ugandans, especially the business people, at risk. Many Ugandans were forced to return home while others lost property and goods. Peace was only restored after the UPDF moved into shore up support of President Kiir’s weak regime. However, with the withdraw of the Ugandan army there are jitters that the future portends trouble for the thousands of Uganda living in the country. NTV

Over 30,000 South Sudanese Risk Death by Starvation, UN Says
Over 30,000 people in South Sudan’s war-zone regions face death by starvation, the United Nations said Thursday, warning that “tens of thousands” more are on the “brink of famine.” While an official famine has not been declared, the report describes the worst conditions yet seen in a 22-month civil war marked by atrocities and accusations of war crimes, including the blockading of food supplies. “At least 30,000 people are living in extreme conditions and are facing starvation and death,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the UN children’s agency (Unicef) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in a joint statement. Those worst affected are in the northern battleground state of Unity, once the country’s key oil producing region, but now scene of some of the heaviest fighting, including the mass abduction and rape of women and children. The East African

Uganda’s Would-Be ‘President for Life’ Can Be Beaten
“Nobody should be president for life,” declared U.S. President Barack Obama during a pointed speech in July before the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As parts of Africa boast rising standards of living, more stable democracies, and burgeoning modern industries, the scourge of prominent autocratic leaders who perpetuate their rule through meticulously stage-managed elections remains a deadweight that is holding down a continent on the rise. Chad’s Idriss Déby has reigned for almost 25 years; Sudan’s murderous Omar al-Bashir for 26; Cameroon’s Paul Biya for almost 33; Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe for 35; and Republic of Congo’s Denis Sassou Nguesso for 31 in two separate stints at the helm on (Oct. 25, voters will decide whether to change the constitution so that he can seek yet another term in 2016). Among the most wily and influential of Africa’s gang of would-be lifers is Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled over the country of 37 million since 1986. A professed proponent of term limits when he first entered office — “The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people, but leaders who want to overstay in power,” he wrote in 1986 — Museveni amended his country’s constitution in 2005 to eliminate presidential term limits and pave the way for his own reelection to third and fourth terms.  Foreign Policy

13 Killed in Violence Linked to Guinea Election: Amnesty
At least 13 people were killed in a week of violence in Guinea before and after its contested presidential election, with the security forces responsible for the deaths of unarmed civilians, Amnesty International said in a report published Thursday. The toll covers the period October 8-13, the days surrounding the October 11 vote which, according to the country’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), handed victory and another five-year term to incumbent Alpha Conde. His main rival, opposition leader and former premier Cellou Dalein Diallo, has refused to recognise the outcome and urged supporters to take to the streets against what he labelled an “illegal” election tainted by mismanagement and fraud. AFP on Yahoo News

Tanzania Tense Ahead of Too-Close-to-Call Election
On a hot humid night on Zanzibar island, armed soldiers patrol a central roundabout where two opposing crowds have gathered. As Tanzania readies for its fifth multi-party elections on Sunday, supporters of the ruling Chama Chama Mapinduzi (CCM) party and rival Civic United Front (CUF) stand across the roadway from one another in front of their parties’ headquarters. There are no clashes or fighting, just a seemingly endless staring contest between the two groups as the police and military look on. In the run-up to the East African nation’s tightest election contest to date, post-rally gatherings such as these have become a common sight at Zanzibar’s Kisonge roundabout, a central spot where islanders normally sit and casually discuss the politics of the day. Al Jazeera

Egypt Arrests Senior Muslim Brotherhood Figure
Egyptian security forces have arrested Hassan Malik, a leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, security officials said, part of a sustained crackdown on Islamists. “He was arrested in Cairo on charges of funding a group that promotes violence,” said one of the officials. Malik, a businessman, was one of the few prominent Brotherhood members to escape the toughest crackdown on Islamists in Egypt’s modern history. Security forces have killed hundreds of Islamists and arrested thousands of others since the army toppled President Mohammad Mursi of the Brotherhood in 2013 after mass protests against his rule. President Abdelfattah al-Sisi has branded the Brotherhood a terrorist group and says it poses an existential threat to Egypt, an allegation it denies. Al Arabiya

Police: Boko Haram Using iPads, Laptops, Phones for Bombs
Nigeria’s police chief is warning that Boko Haram extremists are building bombs in iPads and cellphones and leaving them for people to pick up. Inspector Gen. Solomon E. Arase issued the warning while announcing five suspects were arraigned Thursday in Abuja High Court in connection with twin bombings in Nigeria’s capital that killed 15 people on Oct 2. Arase said they were arrested in Abuja with “dangerous bombing tools” including high-tech gadgets. He warned Nigerians to avoid temptation and not pick up abandoned iPads, phones or laptops “as terrorists now use these items in manufacturing bombs.” Nigeria’s home-grown extremist group Boko Haram is known for using kidnap victims strapped with explosives in suicide bombings that have killed hundreds in recent months, including in neighboring countries.  AP on ABC News

Islamist Militants Kill 8 Villagers in Cameroon – Govt
Eight villagers in Cameroon’s Far North region were killed and nine injured in a raid by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram that was followed by a gun battle between militants and security forces, a government official said on Thursday. Boko Haram wants to create a caliphate and impose a strict version of Islamic law in adjacent northeastern Nigeria and has carried out cross-border raids in neighbouring countries. “Wednesday’s attacks killed eight and wounded nine,” said Babila Akaou, prefect for the Mayo-Sava district, referring to the overnight attack in the village of Doulo. “For security forces and Boko Haram militants, we do not yet have a death toll,” he said. News 24

Nigeria ‘Hires Mercenaries’ Again to Battle Boko Haram
Nigeria has hired mercenaries to combat Boko Haram as military chiefs face a December deadline to crush the militants, according to senior military sources. Turkish news agency, Anadolu Agency, reports that the mercenaries, estimated at around 250 personnel and hired from South Africa-based private contractor Specialized Tasks, Training, Equipment and Protection (STTEP), are being deployed along with fighter jets in Operation Fire Force, a source at Nigeria’s defense headquarters said on condition of anonymity. “The mercenaries have been reengaged and their platforms are being deployed,” the source said. “By platforms, I mean fighter jets, helos [helicopters], coms [communication], surveillance, medics, etc.” STTEP includes veterans from the South African apartheid era who will work with and train a Nigerian strike force, according to the source.

Nigeria to Split Long-Delayed Oil Bill to Speed Passage
Nigeria’s government plans to split an oil-industry bill stuck in parliament for seven years and resubmit it to lawmakers as its delay deters investment in Africa’s largest crude producer, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said. Breaking up the Petroleum Industry Bill, or PIB, into smaller laws focused on fiscal and regulatory measures in Nigeria’s energy industry would make it easier to pass through parliament, he said. The bill, first presented in 2008, will be resent to lawmakers in the first quarter of 2016. “Separating the PIB, breaking it up, obviously is the way I would think that we’ll proceed,” Osinbajo, 58, said in an interview on Tuesday in the Aso Rock Villa presidential residence in the capital, Abuja. “That’s really what the market has been waiting for.”  Bloomberg

Zimbabwean President, Condemned by West, Is Selected for Chinese Peace Prize
The Confucius Peace Prize ceremony is scheduled to be held in December. Organizers say the official Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing will be the venue if Mr. Mugabe, 91, agrees to attend. The prize comes with a financial reward of 500,000 renminbi, or nearly $80,000. “The 21st-century interpretation of Confucianism is ‘universal harmony in the world,’ ” Qiao Wei, a poet and the president of the judging committee of the peace prize, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “Mugabe is the founding leader of Zimbabwe and has been trying to stabilize the country’s political and economic order ever since the country was first founded. He brought benefit to the people of Zimbabwe.” The New York Times

African Dictatorship Fuels Migrant Crisis

Asmara, Eritrea—On a cool March evening soon after his 16th birthday, Binyam Abraham waited until his mother and young siblings were sleeping and slipped away to begin the long trek toward Eritrea’s southern border. With his father trapped in open-ended military service that would soon snare him, too, Binyam walked for 19 hours without food or water to reach Ethiopia. He made a choice 5,000 of his countrymen make each month, by a United Nations estimate: to flee Eritrea and brave the world’s deadliest migrant trail, across the Sahara and the Mediterranean to Europe. They leave behind one of the world’s fastest-emptying nations: a country of about 4.5 million on the Horn of Africa, governed by a secretive dictatorship accused of human-rights violations, that is playing an outsize role in the biggest global migration crisis since World War II. The Wall Street Journal
Here is What’s Wappening in Benghazi These Days
[…] Benghazi, in the country’s east, is where the uprising against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi first took hold. It’s where peaceful protests grew large enough for the world to notice and, eventually, it was where rebel forces first began to mobilize. It was the rebel capital for a time. It was where foreign journalists and aid organizations largely felt safe to set up shop. Those groups, though, are all gone now, frightened away. Benghazi in 2015 is gutted, its seaside buildings pockmarked by mortars and bullets. Libya is deeply divided. After Gaddafi was ousted and killed, there was a brief moment of optimism before the various rebel militias who fought Gaddafi’s army began fighting among each other to fill the power vacuum. Over the years the country has settled on two general sides: the Islamists, who control Tripoli; and an internationally recognized government that is led by a former Gaddafi general who opposes the Islamists, which controls much of Benghazi. In the madness, the Islamic State has taken hold in Libya. It now controls the city of Sirte. Globalpost

How the West broke Libya and Returned it to the Hatred of the Past
What exactly was toppled in Libya with the overthrow of Muammar Gadaffi? A dictator, or a working power structure? It was utterly predictable that military intervention would be a fiasco. Sadly the lessons of the Iraq war did not alert Nato leaders to the disastrous consequences of their punitive mission. Western military strategists had, of course, identified the nerve centres they would need to target to bring down their enemy. They made detailed appraisals of Gaddafi’s defensive strongholds, his air bases, listening stations, electronic warfare and communications networks, tank regiments, ground troops, planning and command centres, logistics hubs, key infrastructure and administration. Everything. But they failed to take account of the most essential consideration: the nature of the Arab-Berber world. And it’s this monumental oversight that holds the key to Libya’s current’s chaos, along with the chaos that has been tearing the Iraqi people apart for over a decade. The Guardian

U.N. Envoy Says Talks Continue With Warring Libyan Factions
The U.N. envoy to Libya said on Wednesday consultations would continue with both the country’s warring factions after the chief of the elected parliament said the congress had rejected a U.N. proposal to end the crisis. Libya is mired in a conflict between its internationally-recognized government and elected parliament on one side, and a self-styled administration holding Tripoli on the other, with each backed by loose coalitions of armed factions. After months of talks, the United Nations has drafted a deal to form a national unity government and has proposed a six-member executive council to lead it. But both sides have balked at parts of those accords, stalling any final agreement. Reuters

Leader of Troubled Mali Seeking Renewed International Support
The last three years have been very challenging for Mali. In the spring of 2012, jihadists with links to the al Qaeda terror network invaded northern Mali, taking advantage of a local rebellion by armed Tuareg separatist against the central government in Bamako in southern Mali. Most of the jihadists were driven out of northern Mali by a French-led intervention force in January 2013, though they still control some territory in the far north. Deutsche Welle

Rights Groups: Cameroon Prisons Severely Overcrowded
Human rights groups in Cameroon say prisons constructed for 500 detainees are housing more than 3,000 people, many of whom can be held for years without charge in inhumane conditions. The government says it is working on solutions. Aristus Beba has been locked up at the Kondengui central prison for five years. The 26-year-old says he has never stood trial. “My elder brother accused me of stealing money from the house and I was taken here. I have been beaten up several times here. I had to clean the toilet every time. Any small food they bring for me here they take every thing. I don’t have anything. I am really suffering here,” said Beba. Kondengui prison was constructed for 750 inmates but now holds more than 4,000 men, women and children.   Cameroon National Institute of Statistics reports there are about 30,000 peopleheld in the country’s 78 prisons. VOA

Pledging Conference Raises Euro 94 Million to Help Somali Refugees Return Home
Representatives from more than 40 countries and organizations have pledged Euro 94 million (or USD 105 million) to support Somali refugees in Kenya and help them to voluntarily return to Somalia in safety and dignity. At today’s pledging conference hosted by the European Commission and UNHCR, the international community committed resources to a plan of action designed to improve socio-economic conditions in Somalia and support refugees preparing for return from the Dadaab camps in Kenya. In addition, a pledge was made to provide training and job opportunities in Somalia for 10,000 returnees. UNHCR

With Exams Just Days Away, Why are South African Students Protesting Instead of Studying?
She is the daughter of unemployed parents in the crowded, rat-infested township of Alexandra, the first member of her family to make it to university. She’s a law student who dreams of becoming chief justice one day. At night, Kgothatso Ledwaba studies, with exams just days away. But during the day, the 21-year-old third-year student marches and shouts, dances and sings protest songs as part of a wave of student protests across South Africa that has shocked the African National Congress government and embarrassed government ministers. The students’ protest #FeesMustFall is emblematic of wider concerns: an economy that fails to offer university and high school graduates opportunities, and a government out of touch with the anger of ordinary South Africans and unable to improve education or health services. LA Times

How Kenya is Winning Back Tourists
Kenya’s tourism industry has had a tough go of it over the past few years. Election unrest, rising crime rates and terrorist attacks have not only made headlines, they have also caused governments to issue stern travel warnings. Tourism is a major industry in Kenya, known for not only its safari destinations, but also its Indian Ocean beaches and its major cities, Nairobi and Mombassa, both of which are considered tourist gateways to East Africa. Following highly publicized attacks attributed to Somalia-based terrorist groups, on a mall in 2013 and a university dorm complex in April of this year, both the U.S. and UK issued a series of travel advisories for their citizens. Though these advisories did not cover the entire country, when coupled with the non-stop news coverage of the poor security situation, they were enough to get many people to cross Kenya off their to-visit list. Travel Pulse