Media Review for August 28, 2015

Hundreds Feared Dead after Boat Sinks off Libyan Coast
A boat packed with mainly African migrants bound for Italy sank off the Libyan coast on Thursday and officials said up to 200 might have died. A security official in the western town of Zuwara, from where the overcrowded boat had set off, said there had around 400 people on board. Many appeared to have been trapped in the hold when it capsized. By late in the evening, the Libyan coast guard rescued around 201, of which 147 were brought to a detention facility for illegal migrants in Sabratha, west of Tripoli, the official said, asking not to be named. Another local official and a journalist based in Zuwara confirmed the sinking but also had no information on casualties. The migrants on board had been from sub-Saharan Africa, Pakistan, Syria, Morocco and Bangladesh, the security official said. France 24

Tide of Death: Libya Struggles to Cope as Migrants’ Bodies Wash Ashore
They set out full of hope, clutching a few cherished belongings, or the hand of a loved one as they stepped onto the overcrowded, barely seaworthy boats they thought would take them to new lives in Europe. But within hours, their journeys across the Mediterranean ended in tragedy. Now days, weeks, or even months later, their bodies are washing up on the beaches of Libya. And with no stable, functioning government to take control of the situation, ordinary Libyans are struggling to cope with the tide of human remains. Mohammed Misrati, spokesman for the Libyan Red Crescent Society in Tripoli, says most of the migrants’ bodies wash up along a stretch of Libya’s western coast, in Zuwara, Khoms and Sabrata — where many of their journeys began. CNN

UN Panel of Experts Recommend an Arms Embargo on S. Sudan
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) should impose a ban on the supply or transfer to South Sudan from or through territories or by nationals of all UN member states, a team of experts from the wold body said in a new report. The ban will prevent UN member states from using vessels or aircraft to transport weapons, ammunitions and other related materials to the young nation. According to the UN panel of experts, a major Chinese state-owned arms supplier sold more than $20 million of weapons to South Sudan’s government last year, several months into the country’s deadly internal conflict. Sudan Tribune

Statement by the National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on the South Sudan Peace Agreement
The United States welcomes President Kiir’s decision to accept the terms of peace and sign the regionally-sponsored peace agreement today in South Sudan. However, we do not recognize any reservations or addendums to that agreement. The United States believes this is the necessary first step toward ending the conflict and rebuilding the country. Now the hard work begins. Implementing this agreement will require commitment and resolve from all parties to the conflict as well as South Sudan’s regional and international partners. The United States will support the people of South Sudan as they begin the implementation process, but it is imperative that the parties remain committed to peace. The White House

Press Freedom in Kenya Under Renewed Attack
Relations between Kenya’s lawmakers and the media could take another dramatic turn for the worse as a bill restricting reporting on parliamentary proceedings heads towards a third reading in the National Assembly. The bill introduced by member of parliament Adan Keynan has been condemned by local media as “one of the most brazen attempts to limit the freedom of expression.” The legislation envisages stiff fines or jail terms for anyone who publishes “false or scandalous libel” about parliament, its committees or proceedings. It stipulates the need for “approval by the speaker or chairman of a committee before proceedings are broadcast.” Deutsche Welle

Uhuru Kenyatta Declares War on Drugs in Coast
President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed an immediate crackdown on drugs, dealers and their dens at the Coast. Mr Kenyatta on Thursday told local politicians to work with security forces to ensure all drug dens are eliminated in the same manner illicit brews were destroyed in central Kenya and Nairobi. The illicit brew crackdown, he said, was a success and young people who had been addicted are now sober and working. “I am happy now that the youth are sober and can work…. The war now should be on drugs,’’ he said when he opened this year’s Mombasa International Agricultural Show in Mkomani, Nyali. The operation against drugs and drug cartels must be carried out from constituency to constituency, Mr Kenyatta said. Daily Nation

Saving South Sudan From Kleptocracy
South Sudan’s belligerents have signed a peace deal, but it is far from certain that the brutal 20-month civil war is over. If the next steps the parties take are simply to restore the status quo that existed before the war’s eruption, the odds are wildly in favor of a return to deadly conflict. However, if the implementation of the agreement is seen as a chance to restart the construction of a viable state in the world’s newest country, dismantling the violent kleptocracy that it’s become since independence in 2011, then South Sudan has a chance for peace. There are monumental obstacles at multiple levels to peace in South Sudan. But the biggest challenge is the nature of the state itself. In its short life as a nation, governing institutions have been hijacked for personal enrichment and advancement by rival factions of military and civilian officials. The Daily Beast

Congo-Kinshasa: Danger Looms in DRC As Kabila Maneuvers to Remain in Power
It is becoming increasingly difficult for authoritarian African heads of state to change constitutions that limit them to two terms in power. In Burkina Faso, starting in October 2014, President Blaise Compaore asked his parliament to amend the constitution to allow him to run for a third term. Before the parliament could act, tens of thousands of angry protesters went into the streets. They burned parliament and forced the president to flee his country in a French military helicopter. In Burundi during the period June to August 2015, President Pierre Nkurunziza took advantage of an ambiguous clause in the constitution to run for a third term with the connivance of the Supreme Court. This unleashed major violence in Burundi, forcing thousands of frightened citizens to flee to neighboring countries. allAfrica

US, UN Emphasize Respect for Constitution in DRC
The United States and United Nations are urging Congo to abide by its election calendar and the two-term limit for presidents. The new U.S. special envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region, Amb. Thomas Perriello, spoke to media in the DRC capital this week after meeting with President Joseph Kabila. According to the DRC constitution, presidential elections should be held by November 2016. A move by the government to organize a new census that might have delayed the elections provoked violent protests in January. Visiting Kinshasa on Wednesday, Perriello told reporters he had productive meetings, including an important introductory conversation with Kabila. VOA

Burundi: Hundreds join #10MillionPresidents campaign
Hundreds of Burundians have chosen to ignore the legitimacy of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term by joining a new online campaign in which they declare themselves presidents of Burundi. Officially, Nkurunziza’s second term ended on Wednesday (26 August) at midnight. While the President was unexpectedly inaugurated on Thursday for a third term in office after winning contested elections in July, his opponents, who say his third term is unconstitutional, now claim they no longer have a president. Using the handle #10MillionPresidents, online users started posting comments in which they declared themselves president and pretended to impose their law. International Business Times

Nigerian President Names Banker as Chief of Staff
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari made former United Bank for Africa chief Alhaji Abba Kyari his new chief of staff Thursday, as part of his first senior government appointments since taking office. Kyari, who has degrees in law and sociology from Cambridge and Warwick universities in the United Kingdom, has held a number of roles in the private sector, including at Unilever and Mobil, Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina said in a statement. The chief of staff is a non-ministerial role but its holder is typically an important fixer and influential presidential aide. The role of government secretary went to Babachir David Lawal, an engineer with experience in telecoms, while retired colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali becomes head of the Nigerian Customs Service. AFP on Yahoo News

Governance: The Anti-Corruption Car Crash
President Kenyatta’s outing of a confidential list of public officials being probed for corruption has prompted the investigating body itself to crumble into chaos Despite the headlines about high-profile probes and charges for political and business corruptions, impunity is flourishing in Kenya. Indeed, some claim the anti-corruption effort is being sabotaged by government insiders. Politicians on all sides agree that corruption has risen to unprecedented levels since President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Jubilee Alliance government took over two years ago. The Africa Report

Egypt Emerges as Front-Runner in Mistral Warship Sweepstakes
Several countries have expressed interest, with Egypt leading the pack, in the purchase of two French-built Mistral-class helicopter carriers after Paris reneged on their original deal to deliver the vessels to Russia. France and Russia terminated a 2011 contract for the construction and delivery of two Mistral warships worth 1.2 billion euro ($1.35 billion) earlier in August. Speculation swelled surrounding potential buyers for the orphaned carriers following an announcement that Paris and Moscow had reached an agreement to terminate the contract. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the refund would not amount to the initial contract’s cost. Finance Minister Michel Sapin later assessed the compensation at below 1 billion euros. Sputnic News

Just Out Of Jail, Ethiopian Leader Brings A Sharp Message To Obama
Just a few months ago, Bekele Gerba was languishing in a high security Ethiopian jail, hearing the cries of fellow prisoners being beaten and tortured. Now, the 54-year-old foreign language professor is in Washington, D.C., for meetings at the State Department. His message: The Obama administration should pay more attention to the heavy-handed way its ally, Ethiopia, treats political opponents — and should help Ethiopians who are losing their ability to earn a living. Gerba is a leader of the Oromo Federalist Congress, a political party that represents one of the country’s largest ethnic groups. With estimated numbers of about 30 million, the Oromo make up about a third of Ethiopia’s population. In 2011, Gerba was arrested after meeting with Amnesty International researchers and sent to prison on what he calls trumped up terrorism charges, often used in Ethiopia against political dissidents. NPR

Rights Groups Stirring Over Sudan President’s Travels
Plans by Sudan’s president to attend a World War II victory commemoration in China next week and a United Nations session later next month have angered rights groups seeking to remind the world about the international warrants for his arrest. The Sudanese leader, Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for prosecution by the International Criminal Court at The Hague on charges including genocide and war crimes in the country’s Darfur region, has eluded the warrants since the first one was issued in 2009. “It is outrageous that anyone would welcome him into their border without arresting him,” Tom Andrews, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, a Washington-based advocacy group, said Thursday. The New York Times

UN to Investigate Militia role in Breaking Mali Peace Accord
A United Nations official says Mali’s peace accord monitoring committee is demanding the immediate evacuation of government-allied militia members from a town they took from separatists in the country’s north. GATIA militia members chased Tuareg separatists from north Mali’s Anefis on Aug. 17. Fighting between the groups broke a peace accord signed in June by the government, allied militias and separatist groups. Arnauld Akodjenou of the U.N. mission in Mali said Thursday the committee condemned the violence and ordered the evacuation. He said the U.N. will investigate the fighting from Aug. 15-17. AP on Stars and Stripes

2 French Journalists Held for ‘Attempted Blackmail of Morocco King’
Two French investigative journalists were arrested on Thursday in Paris on suspicion of trying to blackmail the king of Morocco, legal sources in both countries said. Eric Laurent and Catherine Graciet, who are working on a book about King Mohammed VI, were arrested after a meeting with a Moroccan official at which they were given money, a source close to the French investigation told AFP, confirming remarks made by a lawyer for the Moroccan government. “A sum of money was handed over and accepted,” the source said, adding the journalists were being investigated for attempted extortion and attempted blackmail. Eric Dupond-Moretti, a lawyer for the Moroccan government, told RTL radio that Laurent had contacted the royal palace in July, saying he was writing a book about the king. AFP on Yahoo News

101st Recognized for Liberia Mission
The 101st Airborne Division was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Award by the commanding general of U.S. Africa Command, Gen. David M. Rodriquez, during a ceremony held in the division headquarters building today. The JMUA is the second highest award a unit can receive. Rodriquez and Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, the commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell, unveiled the award and a campaign streamer, recognizing the division’s five-month deployment in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development-led mission to fight the spread of Ebola in western Africa. “The day the 101st got into Africa, things started changing,” said Rodriguez. “Every day they were there, the confidence and courage of the Liberian people started picking up.” The Fort Campbell Courier

Guinea’s Ex-Junta Leader Back in Burkina Faso
Former Guinean junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has arrived in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso. This was after the flight carrying him to Cote d’Ivoire was denied landing rights in Abidjan. The aircraft was forced to land in the neighbouring Ghana, from where he travelled to Burkina Faso. Mr Camara has been in self-exile in Ouagadougou since he was overthrown in 2010. Sources said that Mr Camara had planned to disembark in Abidjan and travel by road back home, in Guinea. Last May, he unsuccessfully attempted to return home but was allegedly blocked by Guinean authorities. Africa Review

Salif Keita Fears for Albinos as Tanzania Poll Campaigns Hot Up
African music legend Salif Keita has called for more protection of people with albinism, as Tanzania begins campaigns for General Election, with fears growing over a possible rise in witchcraft attacks. “It is completely unacceptable for humans to sacrifice other human beings, it comes from ignorance,” the Malian musician, himself an albino, told AFP in an interview during his visit to East Africa. “Albinos are born, they grow up just like everyone else. It is unacceptable to attack them.” Rights groups have warned of the risk of a rise in attacks against albinos in Tanzania, which has just begun campaigns for civic, parliamentary and presidential elections on October 25. Some politicians have been accused of buying body parts of albinos for witchcraft and purported lucky charms. The East African

Ghana Investigates Islamic State Recruitment in Universities
Ghana’s authorities are investigating several universities over links to suspected recruitment for the so-called Islamic State (IS), officials say. IS agents recruited students after urging them to join radical online forums, National Security Coordinator Yaw Donkor told the GhanaWeb news site. Mr Donkor also confirmed reports of two Ghanaians travelling to join IS. The Islamist militant group, notorious for its brutality, holds swathes of territory across Iraq and Syria. BBC

23 Dead as Madagascar Troops Battle Cattle Rustlers
Deadly clashes between troops and armed cattle rustlers on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar have left 23 people dead, the army said on Thursday. Eight of the dead were soldiers while 15 of them were cattle thieves, known as “dahalos” in the local Malagasy language. “We have eight soldiers killed and another 12 injured,” said Theophile Rakotonirina, head of the army’s operations and intelligence unit. “We have also identified 15 dead dahalos.” The incident took place early on Wednesday in an area near Ankazoabo in south-western Madagascar. Troops were alerted to the theft by a cattle breeder who had 90 of his zebu stolen. News 24

Regional Trade Pacts to Curb Poaching in Africa, US says
A planned Pacific regional trade pact and a tariff-free deal between African nations and the United States should help to discourage wildlife poaching in Africa, a senior US official said on Wednesday. Speaking in Gabon at the start of a conference on the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), US Trade Representative Michael Froman said the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership would include measures to curb demand from Asian for trafficked wildlife from Africa. Froman said the United States would also work within the framework of AGOA, renewed for 10 years in June, on measures supporting African nations to reduce the supply of poached animals to international markets. AGOA allows tariff-free access for some 6,000 goods from 39 African nations to US markets. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership will help combat illegal wildlife trafficking, including the illegal trade of ivory from Africa,” Froman told the opening session of the two-day conference. The East African

Lion of Judah or Pro-Western Dictator? Haile Selasse Still Debated 40 years After his Death
On 27 August 1975 a French reporter phoned the Ethiopian imperial palace, which had been overrun by Marxist army officers the previous year. Haile Selassie I came to the phone. On a poor line, speaking good French, the “king of kings” sounded calm and composed, not suspecting he had only a few more hours to live. “I am well as before,” said the 83-year-old man some revered as a god. “The soldiers are gone. I am well and so are my people.” Forty years later, his death remains shrouded in mystery – and the subject of debate. Official sources spoke the following day of his “respiratory failure” but many believe the “lion of the tribe of Judah” was assassinated by revolutionaries determined to overthrow a centuries-old monarchy. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones