Media Review for August 4, 2015

Burundi Rights Activist Mbonimpa Injured in Gun Attack
A prominent Burundi human rights activist has been shot and seriously wounded by gunmen on motorbikes, his family and witnesses say. Pierre Claver Mbonimpa was attacked in the capital, Bujumbura. He was a stern critic of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial bid for a third term in office. On Sunday presidential aide Gen Adolphe Nshimirimana was killed in an attack on his car in Bujumbura. He was in charge of the president’s personal security. Burundi has suffered serious unrest since President Nkurunziza’s decision in April to seek a third term in office. BBC

Fragile Burundi Casts a Wary Eye on Rwanda
Burundi and Rwanda can seem deceptively like conjoined twins. They share a common history, geography and language, and their populations are divided ethnically between Hutu and Tutsi. Both were devastated by some of the worst mass slaughter of the 20th century. Since the guns fell silent, they have charted very different courses as they try to move beyond their bloody pasts. But trouble in one seems inevitably to spill into the other, and their politics are becoming intertwined again, in dangerous ways. Burundi is in danger of collapse, its capital rocked by violence and divided by political intrigue. The country’s fragile democratic fabric has been shredded in recent months by President Pierre Nkurunziza, who brushed aside a constitutional bar to secure a third term in office and put down an attempted coup meant to stop him. As Mr. Nkurunziza struggles to retain control, his top officials accuse Rwanda of tacitly aiding his enemies. The New York Times

Despite Impressive Progress, Questions Raised over Kagame Leadership Style
Rwanda President Paul Kagame has presided over a remarkable transformation in the country, after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, with a skill rarely seen in Africa. He has been a sort of godsend — focused, strict, and running a disciplined state. Donors hold him up as a shining example, and aid flows into Rwanda because he is a hands-on chief executive who makes things work. Even his harshest critics acknowledge that much has improved under his stewardship. Progressive in many ways, President Kagame has pushed for more women in political office: Today Rwanda has the highest percentage of women in parliament in the world. He has also defused ethnic rivalry, the issue that led to the genocide. President Kagame has made indisputable social and economic progress, expanding the economy by an average of eight per cent annually over the past 10 years, by wisely investing in infrastructure projects. East African

Nigeria: We Were Ill-Equipped, Demotivated-Badeh
The immediate past chief of defence staff (CDS), Air Marshal Alex Badeh, yesterday disclosed that the military under his watch was ill-equipped and lacked motivation to tame Boko Haram. The former CDS made this disclosure in Abuja at the pulling out ceremony organised in his honour as he bade farewell to the military after 38 years of service. At the height of the insurgency, Boko Haram attacked his hometown and his house while he was the nation’s defence chief. Badeh also used the occasion to accuse a section of the media, the political class and some foreign interests of working against the military. Leadership on allAfrica

Nigeria: Corruption – Buhari Descends on Civil Servants
Disturbed by the rot and thriving corruption in the civil service, which has cost the country trillions of naira, President Muhammadu Buhari has taken his anti-graft war to the sector. He has ordered that all outstanding audit queries which had piled up over the years be resolved within the next 30 days. Confirming the presidential directive, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the unanswered audit queries sounded unsavoury to the President who, on hearing it, expressed his displeasure. An audit query is the request for an explanation by the Auditor-General of the Federation over improprieties discovered in the Accountant-General of the Federation’s report. The report is done quarterly. Vanguard on allAfrica

Nigerian Banks Name And Shame Bad Debtors
Nigerian commercial lenders listed hundreds of bad debtors in full-page newspaper adverts on Monday, under orders from the central bank aimed at avoiding a repeat of an industry bailout that cost the government $4bn six years ago. The move follows the expiration of a three-month time limit issued by the central bank in April for bad debtors to square up their accounts or be identified in Nigerian media, as well as barred from currency and government debt markets. The central bank asked commercial lenders to publish bad loans of $251 320 and more that were more than 365 days old, the time limit after which it considers money to be lost. News 24

Sudan Says Bashir Plans to Speak At U.N. Summit in New York
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges, is planning to travel to New York in September to speak at the United Nations, Sudan’s deputy U.N. envoy said on Monday. A provisional U.N. agenda for a sustainable development summit lists the Sudanese head of state as scheduled to speak on Sept. 26. The summit is due to formally adopt a plan for the world’s sustainable development over the next 15 years. When asked if Bashir would be attending the summit, Sudan’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Hassan Hamid Hassan said: “Yes.” He gave no further details. A provisional agenda for the U.N. General Assembly meeting of world leaders, which begins on Sept. 28, only lists Sudan as being represented at ministerial level. Reuters

Gabon Leader’s Chief-of-staff Held in Paris in Corruption Probe
The Gabonese president’s chief-of-staff was detained Monday in Paris on suspicion of corruption as he was about to fly back to Libreville, a judicial source said. Maixent Accrombessi, who is very close to Gabonese leader Ali Bongo Ondimba, was detained at Roissy airport near Paris “for corruption of a foreign public official”, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous. The arrest is part of a probe by Paris prosecutors into the 2006 awarding of a contract in Gabon to a French military uniforms manufacturer. AFP on Yahoo News

Ethiopia Hands Lengthy Prison Terms to Muslim Activists
An Ethiopian court sentenced 17 Muslim activists on Monday to prison sentences ranging from seven to 22 years on charges they plotted to create an Islamic state in the majority Christian country. A journalist for a Muslim newspaper was also sentenced for conspiring with the activists, the court in Addis Ababa said. The defendants, who all denied the charges, were arrested in 2012 on charges of plotting to stage attacks to create an Islamic state in Ethiopia, which has a sizable Muslim minority. The sentencing comes as Ethiopia faces increasing scrutiny from human rights groups that have regularly accused it of arresting activists, journalists and bloggers to stamp out dissent. The government dismisses the allegations. Reuters

Libya Refuses Any Foreign Military Intervention: PM
Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thanni said his government rejects any foreign military intervention on the Libyan territory, official news agency LANA reported on Monday. “Libya welcomes cooperation with all countries, provided with mutual respect and non-interference in the country’s internal affairs,” Al-Thanni said. His statement came after some reports said European countries are planning to restart military operations in Libya as soon as a unity government is formed. The reports said that as Libya has become a focal point of illegal immigrants wanting to cross into Europe, European countries are planning to organize a military operation to fight illegal immigration in the Mediterranean. Xinhua

Ten Malian Soldiers Killed in Timbuktu ‘terror’ Attack
Ten soldiers were killed Monday in a “terrorist” attack on their camp in the Timbuktu region of northern Mali, a military source said. “This morning at Gourma-Rharous we pushed back a terrorist attack which caused 10 deaths in our ranks,” the source said. Another military source confirmed the ambush, saying it had targeted a unit of the National Guard based in Gourma-Rharous and left around 10 men dead. The second source said the attackers were believed to be “jihadist elements” linked to Islamist group Ansar Dine. The attack comes two days after two Malian soldiers were killed and four others injured in an ambush in the centre of the west African country. France 24

The Ebola Vaccine We Dared to Dream of is Here
For more than a year and a half, three of the world’s poorest countries have struggled against the most devastating Ebola epidemic in human history. Containing this unprecedented outbreak would have been a huge challenge for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone under any conditions. But the scale of the task was far greater because of the absence of the most effective possible defence: a vaccine. That may all be about to change. I normally like to avoid superlatives when describing the interim results of a medical trial, but it is difficult to talk about the report of the experimental Ebola vaccine in the Lancet as being anything less than spectacular. More than 7,600 people in Guinea have received the vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, in a study that targeted people from communities with cases of Ebola. None who received it immediately has so far contracted the virus. That’s an efficacy of 100%. The Guardian

CDC Director Visits Sierra Leone
Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control visited Sierra Leone Monday to assess the fight against Ebola, which has killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa. Stopping in Freetown, Dr. Thomas Frieden expressed optimism the deadly virus can be stamped out, but insists Sierra Leone needs to continue keeping its guard up, much as it did when two recent Ebola deaths caused 500 people to be put in quarantine in the country’s Northern Tonkolili District, which had previously gone 150 days with no Ebola cases. “The response has been robust, quick, there was identification of contacts, monitoring of contacts and several contacts become ill and they were tested and isolated,” he said. “That’s how you stop outbreaks.” VOA

South Sudan to Unveil Own Plan to End Conflict
South Sudan’s government is due to unveil its own peace plan in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abbaba, just days after it refused to sign a regional plan to end the country’s ongoing conflict, Al Jazeera has learned. Ateny Wek Ateny, South Sudan presidential spokesperson, will not offer any details of the peace plan but said President Salva Kiir is consulting leaders from all 10 states for guidance. He reiterated his government’s refusal to accept the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) plan. Al Jazeera

Sudan Guarantees Rebels Freedom
Sudan’s government said on Monday it is ready to offer rebels battling its forces legal guarantees to allow them to attend talks in Khartoum aimed at addressing the country’s multiple crises. President Omar al-Bashir has called for a national dialogue to try to end conflicts in border regions and to right its ailing economy. The government says the talks must take place in Sudan. “We are ready to offer the required guarantees for armed groups to attend” the national dialogue, First Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh said at a press conference. “We are ready to freeze the sentences” against rebel leaders, he said, but added that the government would not offer them full pardons yet. News 24

UN Airlifts DRC Refugees out of C Africa
The UN said on Monday it had begun repatriating more than 600 people who had fled to the now violence-torn Central African Republic from the Democratic Republic of Congo six years ago. The United Nations’ refugee agency said it had airlifted a first group of 39 Congolese refugees from Zemio in southeastern CAR to the remote, eastern DR Congo province of Ango on Monday. “Over the next three weeks, UNHCR plans to repatriate a total of 628 refugees on 12 chartered flights, including the one on Monday,” the agency said in a statement. The refugees were among some 5 000 people who fled DRC in 2008 and 2009 to escape attacks by the notorious Ugandan rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). News 24

Obama Urges African Youth to Build on Progress
On the heels of a landmark visit to Kenya and Ethiopia, where President Barack Obama declared “Africa is on the move,” he honed the message, this time to 500 young leaders visiting from sub-Saharan Africa. “The continent has archived historic gains in health from fighting HIV/AIDS to making childbirth safer for women and babies. Millions have been lifted from extreme poverty. So this is extraordinary progress,” Obama said. “And young people like you are driving so much of this progress, because Africa is the youngest continent.” The president urged the Mandela-Washington fellows of the Youth African Leaders Initiative to build on the progress Monday in Washington. VOA

Yemeni Refugees Flee to Djibouti
Djibouti appealed Monday for aid after ​​hundreds of Yemeni refugees fleeing civil war arrived in the Horn of African nation, adding to thousands already being supported. “The refugees arriving have lost everything,” said presidential spokesman Naguib Ali Taher, adding they needed shelter as well as medical care, including psychological support. Djibouti, a tiny nation of over 800,000 people, is a haven for Yemeni refugees fleeing the air strikes that have devastated their country. Naharnet

Gabon Leader’s Chief-of-Staff Freed After Being Held in Paris
The Gabonese president’s chief-of-staff was freed Tuesday after being briefly detained at a Paris airport on suspicion of corruption as he was about to fly back to Libreville. Maixent Accrombessi, who is very close to Gabonese leader Ali Bongo Ondimba, was detained at Paris’s main Charles de Gaulle airport “for corruption of a foreign public official”, said a French judicial source, who wished to remain anonymous. However, a few hours later, his lawyer Francis Szpiner told AFP: “He is leaving soon for Gabon and will continue to carry out his duties.” The arrest sparked fury in Gabon. A presidential statement “protested strongly” against the arrest which “violates the fundamental principles of international law.” AFP on Yahoo News

The Slow Death Of Zimbabwe’s Labour Movement
For a long time, Zimbabwe’s unions were also Robert Mugabe’s most vocal opposition. It’s no coincidence that Morgan Tsvangirai emerged from the labour movement, as did the Movement for Democratic Change. But as Mugabe has consolidated power, the unions have become less and less influential. That the Zimbabwean economy is in a never-ending tailspin doesn’t help. Daily Maverick

Madagascar Mess-ups Keep Tourist “paradise” Marooned
In 2008, the tourism in Madagascar was very high. But there has been political trouble since 2009 so the tourists are fewer and fewer,” Andrianantoanina told Reuters as ring-tailed lemurs scampered through nearby eucalyptus trees. With the mining industry hit by low global commodity prices, the government has promoted tourism as a spur of growth and job creation in one of the world’s poorest nations. Touting its rainforests, reefs and weird and wonderful plants and animals, officials are aiming for 1 million tourists by 2020, five times higher than last year and more than double the 2008 peak, when 380,000 people visited the former French colony. There are even lofty plans to compete for well-heeled visitors who flock to Mauritius and Seychelles, two “honeymoon” destinations where European elites have vacationed for decades. Reuters

Fool’s Gold: Inside Burkina Faso’s Artisanal Mining Industry
The gold mine of Alga, about 130km north of Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, could serve as the set for a post-apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster movie. This barren hillside covered in grey dust is pockmarked with dozens of pits, some covered by ramshackle straw huts. Hundreds of people mill around these holes. Powder camouflages their faces and clothes. From time to time a muffled explosion from deep underground turns into a geyser of earth. This noise is punctuated by the constant pounding of the stone mills and the blaring of horns from motorcycles racing along narrow paths, carrying minerals and people while chasing pedestrians out of their way. Gold has been mined at Alga for the last three decades, said Elia Sawadogo, the cousin of a mineshaft owner. But a significant deposit was found deep underground a few years ago. Daily Maverick

Hope or Hype: The Revolution in Africa Will be Wireless
The continent of Africa has long been seen as the place where humanitarian aid and World Bank loans go — to attempt to save lives or to dictate how countries should grow. Now there’s a new movement underway — a technology movement. Young entrepreneurs from the continent are protesting the old ways by launching startups that, they say, will put Africans in the driver’s seat. But not everyone agrees that technology is the solution to Africa’s problems. Gregory Rockson, 24, is definitely in the pro-tech camp. He started the tech company mPharma in his home country, Ghana, to improve health care. NPR

The Number of African Millionaires is Set to Grow by Nearly 50 Percent over the Next 10 Years
These are boom times for Africa’s rich. The number of African millionaires is forecast to grow by nearly half over the next decade, according to a report by New World Wealth, a Johannesburg-based research firm. This follows a whopping 145 percent increase in the number of “high net worth individuals” in Africa — meaning people with net assets of $1 million or more — between 2000 and 2014, with oil-rich Angola leading the pack. In comparison, the number of high net worth individuals worldwide grew by 73 percent in the same period, the report said. Globalpost



Photo: Adam Jones