Media Review for February 22, 2016

Uganda’s Complicated Elections: Six Underlying Issues to Watch
Uganda has just held its 5th presidential election since Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986. During this time opposition parties have gained a growing share of seats in parliament. Yet, the 2016 electoral process has been marked by arrests of opposition candidates and charges of voting irregularities. To put these developments in context, six institutional factors stand out for their importance in shaping Uganda’s democratic trajectory.  Since Museveni came to power after waging a series of armed struggles—first against Idi Amin, and later Milton Obote and Tito Okello—Uganda’s traditional opposition parties have withered away. In their place, are parties that have emerged from ruptures in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). This is significant since many analysts contend that genuine democratic competition in Africa will only emerge from within their long dominant liberation movements.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Ugandan President Wins 5th Term In Election Held Under ‘Intimidating Atmosphere’
Longtime Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had won another 5-year term with more than 60 percent of the votes, Uganda’s electoral commission says, following an election that observers say fell short of democratic. Museveni, a former guerilla leader, came to power 30 years ago when he toppled brutal dictator Idi Amin. This is the fourth election where Musevani has faced multiple candidates. Elections observers from the European Union say this vote took place in an “intimidating atmosphere for both voters and candidates.” The observers say they “received reports of intimidation and harassment of opposition parties by security agencies as well as arrests of supporters and voters from more than 20 districts.” The most prominent opposition candidate, Kizza Besigye, “was detained by police who burst into his election headquarters in the capital, Kampala, just as he was about to start a press conference to dispute the election process,” as we reported.  NPR

Uganda Challenger Besigye Claims Poll Fraud over Museveni Win
The main opposition leader in Uganda, Kizza Besigye, has rejected the result of Thursday’s elections, in which President Yoweri Museveni won a fifth term of office. Mr Besigye, under house arrest since Friday, said Ugandans had seen “the most fraudulent electoral process”. He described the poll as a sham and a creeping military coup. President Museveni, in power for 30 years, received nearly 61% of the votes, with Mr Besigye taking 35%. Foreign observers say the poll was conducted in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. While praising the “remarkable determination” of Ugandans to vote, EU chief observer Eduard Kukan said the governing National Resistance Movement’s “domination of the political landscape distorted the fairness of the campaign”. BBC

Election Was a fraud – Mbabazi
Go forward Independent presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi has dismissed the just announced election results saying they were a result of a fraudulent process. In a statement issued hours after the results were announced, Mr Mbabazi gave an account of how his rallies were disrupted by state agencies. He said the events that preceded the election “illuminates that this election was fundamentally flawed and that the announced results were not a reflection of the will of the Ugandan people.” Mr Mbabazi said his team is investigating what transpired on Election Day, “to determine our next course of action.” Mr Mbabazi, who garnered 132,574 (1.4%) of the 9,701,738 total votes cast, however, called on his supporters and the general public to remain calm. Mr Mbabazi’s statement came after that of FDC’s Kizza Besigye, who outrightly rejected the outcome of the elections saying it was a sham process. The electoral commission gave Mr Besigye 35 per cent of the total votes cast. Daily Monitor

U.S. Criticises Uganda Election, Says Concerned About Besigye’s Arrest
The United States has criticised the handling of Uganda’s disputed presidential election and raised concerns about the house arrest of an opposition leader who failed to end President Yoweri Museveni’s 30-year rule. Museveni, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders and a U.S. ally, was declared winner on Saturday but opponents rejected the outcome of the election. European Union and Commonwealth observers have also criticised the handling of Thursday’s poll. Main opposition candidate Kizza Besigye was arrested three times this week and alleges the police have put him under house arrest and blocked his electronic communication. Besigye has described the election as a sham and another challenger, Amama Mbabazi, said the poll was “fundamentally flawed”. The U.S. State Department said it was concerned by Besigye’s continued house arrest and the shuttering of social media in Uganda, where Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have faced outages since election day.  Reuters

Besigye Pulls a Surprise in NRM Strongholds, Military Barracks
Dr Kizza Besigye, the leading Ugandan opposition candidate in the just concluded General Election, pulled a surprise in some areas that had religiously voted for President Yoweri Museveni in the past elections. Dr Besigye’s three-month campaigns yielded fruit in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) stronghold including a military barracks where he garnered more votes than President Yoweri Museveni. His performance in western Uganda, which in previous elections voted for President Museveni almost to a man, surprised many as he was expected to win at least one more district in addition to Kasese. Provisional results showed that Dr Besigye had garnered 60 per cent of the votes in Kasese district. In an election where he started as an underdog with some party members pushing him to stay out of the race to pave the way for a fresh presidential candidate, Dr Besigye attracted huge crowds at his campaign rallies. The East African

Kenyatta, Nkurunziza Congratulate Museveni
Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta last Saturday became the first head of state to congratulate President Museveni, upon winning Thursday’s elections which effectively extends his grip on Uganda to 35 years. Using his Facebook and Twitter accounts, Kenyatta said: “The people of Uganda have spoken, and they have spoken very clearly. We respect their choice of president Museveni.” “I am very pleased to congratulate President Museveni on his re-election as President of Uganda.” “Kenya values its close friendship with Uganda. That friendship is founded on a common history, a common culture, and common interests. In years past, we have worked closely together for the prosperity and freedom of our nations.”  Daily Monitor

Army, Police Search Vehicles to and from Kampala
The army and police have maintained a security ring around Kampala, searching vehicles driving into and from the city. Security checks have been set up at Namanve, seven miles from Kampala and at Kanyanya about five miles from the capital on Gayaza Road. Namanve is located at the boundary of Wakiso and Mukono districts. It’s on the Kampala-Jinja highway, a gateway to the East and the coast where most of Uganda’s goods from Mombasa port pass. Kanyanya township is on Gayaza Road that leads to Kasangati, the home of the key Opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye, who police has since Saturday confined to his house. The road also leads to Luweero District via Gayaza-Zirobwe road. On spot checks by Daily Monitor established that the police and army deployed were searching the occupants of mainly privately-owned vehicles leaving and heading to Kampala City. The luggage and occupants were scrutinised.  Daily Monitor

Newly Elected Central African Republic Leader Faces Hard Realities
A former prime minister, Faustin Archange Touadéra, has won election as president of the Central African Republic, according to preliminary results, setting the stage for the first elected government in three years for a poverty-stricken country that is just emerging from a devastating civil war. Mr. Touadéra was declared the winner after receiving nearly 63 percent of the votes in a runoff election, the National Elections Authority said late Saturday. The results still need to be confirmed by the country’s constitutional court, but are expected to stand after Mr. Touadéra’s main rival said he would not contest them. On Sunday morning, as some of his supporters marched in the streets, beating drums and singing, Mr. Touadéra said he would focus on building the battered economy of a country that is one of the poorest in Africa.  The New York Times

Niger Heads to Polls with Top Candidate Behind Bars
A jailed candidate facing baby-trafficking charges was among the top contenders to challenge Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou for the country’s top job, as voters headed to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections. Niger is electing a head of state on Sunday, as well as a new parliament, with President Issoufou hoping to secure a second five-year term. A total of 7.5 million people are eligible to vote, with results due within five days. Known as the “Zaki” or “lion” in Hausa, the majority language in Niger, Issoufou, a 63-year-old mathematician and mining engineer turned politician, faces a total of 14 rivals including a particularly tough challenge from two former prime ministers and an ex-president. Should he fail to snatch a first-round victory, his main rivals have struck a deal to back whoever scores highest among them in the hope of ditching the president.  Al Jazeera

Islamic Fundamentalism Grips World’s Least Developed Nation
About 15 years ago, Niger’s main university had one mosque and students mingled freely. Now, there are at least 12 places of worship and male and female students sit in separate canteens for meals. “If you come here at prayer time you will see most of the students leave the classrooms and rush to the mosques,” said Idrissa Gado, a geography student at state-run Abdou Moumouni University in the capital, Niamey. “The greatest imams preach here.” President Mahamadou Issoufou, 64, will regulate the expansion of the strict Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam if he wins re-election on Sunday in the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer, according to his interior minister. The mining engineer is supported by the U.S. and France in efforts to keep out militants inspired by Wahhabi teachings operating on three of its seven borders, including the one with Libya where Islamic State has bases.  Bloomberg

U.S. Bombing in Libya Reveals Limits of Strategy Against ISIS
[…] The airstrikes on a training camp in Sabratha, targeting a Tunisian militant associated with planning two major attacks on Western tourists in Tunisia last year, did demonstrate the United States’ growing concern over Libya as a new base for the Islamic State and its willingness to use air power against militant commanders and infrastructure. Yet every counterterrorism victory also underscores the limits of the American approach to the countries where the Islamic State is strongest, as the focus on military action has not been matched by diplomatic efforts to resolve the core political issues that allow jihadists to prosper. In Libya, efforts to build a unity government have made little progress. In Iraq, there has been little success in easing Sunni resentment. And in Syria, an announced “cessation of hostilities” has not materialized.  The New York Times

Serbian Hostages Killed in U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS in Libya
Two Serbian hostages died in American airstrikes on an Islamic State training camp in western Libya on Friday, Serbian leaders said on Saturday in statements that criticized a military operation that had been presented as a clean strike against extremism. The strikes by American F-15 jets against a compound in Sabratha, 50 miles west of Tripoli, the capital, killed at least 43 people, according to Libyan officials. The Pentagon said that it was likely that the dead included the principal target of the attacks, Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian militant who was accused of facilitating two major attacks on Western tourists in Tunisia last year. But the deaths of the hostages, both Serbian Embassy employees, drew protests from Serbia and raised questions about the quality of the American intelligence that led to the strikes. A Pentagon spokesman, Peter Cook, said that American forces had watched the site for weeks before the strikes and found “no indications of any civilians present.” But, he said, the military offered its condolences to the bereaved families and undertook to “share whatever information we can with the Serbian government.”  The New York Times

Tunisia To Install Surveillance Gear on New Libyan Border Wall
The Tunisian government says it has completed the building of a 200-kilometer (125 mile) long barrier wall and a trench along its border with Libya to prevent Islamist militants from entering the country. Addressing a press briefing after touring the wall late last week, Tunisian Defense Minister Farhat Horchani said German and US contractors will soon install electronic surveillance equipment on strategic points along the barrier to detect any breaches. The barrier, which stretches from the Mediterranean coastal town of Ras Jedir to Dhiba in the southwest, features a wall and trenches filled with water. Horchani said the barrier will help stop the free movement of arms and militants from the chaotic Libyan civil war to Tunisia and other countries in the Maghreb and north-west Africa’s Sahel region. Defense News

Morocco Isis Terror Cell ‘had Been Preparing Chemical Weapons Attack’
Ten suspects were arrested in a raid on a safe house on Thursday. They had been planning a suicide attack for the following day, Morocco’s Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations (BCIJ) Director Abdelhak Khiame told a press conference. Six jars of sulphur-containing chemical fertilizer, which when heated can release a fatally toxic gas, were found during the raid. Isis sniper footage turns out to be clip from video game Further chemicals which can create the tetanus toxin were recovered too, BCIJ’s risk management member M. Elarji told Huffington Post Maghreb. The chemicals may have been put in the bombs in order to be disseminated on detonation. Four machine guns, thirteen tear gas bombs and significant quantities of ammunition were also among the weapons seized, together with an Isis flag. Six jars of sulphur-containing chemical fertilizer, which when heated can release a fatally toxic gas, were found during the raid.  The Irish Independent

Democratic Republic of Congo: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Joseph Kabila?
[…] According to Roddy Barclay, head of analysis at U.K.-based consultancy africapractice, Kabila would be unlikely to succeed if he put the issue of constitutional reform to a referendum. The president won just 49 percent of the vote in 2011 and the strikes demonstrated a growing discontent with Kabila. “Kabila lacks the political strength and wider support of the likes of Nguesso or Kagame,” says Barclay. Despite its huge size and massive mineral wealth—it is a main source of coltan, a key element in mobile phones and laptops—DRC is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking 176th out of 188 countries in the U.N.’s 2015 Human Development Index. A democratic transition is crucial for the good for DRC, but the strikes show that one of Africa’s most enigmatic countries may be headed on a path to violence. “The events this week suggest that this opposition is starting to spread,” says Clark. “If that’s the case and Kabila does try to run for a third term, he may be confronted with nationwide protests. The experience of the last two elections in Congo shows that, if there’s a large-scale protest against Kabila, he tends to react violently.”  Newsweek

UN Secretary General Visits South Sudan, DRC Next Week
The United Nations secretary general, Ban ki moon will visit South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) next week, Stephen Dujarric, a spokesperson for the world body, has disclosed. Over the weekend, the Secretary-General will leave New York for a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan,” he announced on Friday. Ki moon, the UN said in a statement, is expected in Goma on 23 February to visit people impacted by the insecurity and humanitarian crisis in the region, including those living internally displaced people’s camps. The UN chief will reportedly be in the DRC capital, Kinshasa for the opening session of the Great Lakes Private Sector Investment Conference and will meet the DRC leader, Joseph Kabila, state officials and activists.  Sudan Tribune

Extreme Hunger in South Sudan
The situation is likely to deteriorate, it states. However, a lack of information makes it impossible to say whether the situation meets the IPC’s technical definition of a famine – an important, and emotive, signal. Given large-scale conflict and displacement, and underlying fragility, the possibility has been under review for months. Figures arrived at towards the end of last year may already be out of date. On the IPC five-point scale, the latest official report estimates that 40,000 people in South Sudan’s Unity State may be living at level five – the worst possible condition. A declaration of famine would need to be backed by more context and data, according to the IPC group. Those figures were arrived at by a South Sudan food security working group that includes the government. IRIN

Peacekeeping Is a Tool for Political, Not Military Solutions – Eliasson
United Nations peacekeeping is “a tool to advance political, not military, solutions to conflict,” Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told the UN Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. He made the comments this week when the General Assembly subsidiary body opened its 2016 session. Noting existing mechanisms are not always suited to meet new challenges he stressed the critical role of the Special Committee plays in setting the direction of comprehensive reform of peace operations. “Strengthening UN peace operations is a multi-year agenda,” Eliasson said in the opening session, which was also addressed by Under-Secretaries-General Hervé Ladsous and Atul Khare, who respectively head the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), and the Department of Field Support (DFS).  DefenceWeb

South African Ruling Party Official Accuses US of Plot
The U.S. government must clarify the “irregular activities” of some its diplomats in the country, a spokesman for South Africa’s ruling party said Sunday. “There seems to be irregular activities coming from the U.S. Embassy,” said Keith Khoza, spokesman for the ruling African National Congress party. The ANC party will communicate their concerns to Washington through diplomatic channels, he said. Khoza referred to accusations made last week by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe that the U.S. is planning regime change in South Africa, similar to the Arab Spring. Speaking Friday at a march for non-racialism in the capital Pretoria, Mantashe said “regime change elements” similar to those in Libya and Egypt have crept into South Africa, the African News Agency reported. “Those meetings in the American Embassy are about nothing else other than mobilization for regime change,” said Mantashe, according to the agency. “We’re aware of a program that takes young people to the United States for six weeks, brings them back and plants them everywhere.” AP on Yahoo News

Zuma Son Said to Be Top Shareholder in Firm Buying Optimum
South African President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane is the biggest individual shareholder in a group that’s acquiring Glencore Plc’s Optimum colliery, a person familiar with the shareholding said. The group includes the Gupta family, whose links with the Zuma family have been criticized by opposition parties. Tegeta Exploration & Resources Ltd. agreed to buy Optimum for 2.15 billion rand ($140 million) in December after Glencore had placed the mine under administration because it said it couldn’t make a profit due to the terms of a coal supply deal with state power company Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. Tegeta is 64 percent owned by Mabengela Investments, which in turn is 45 percent owned by Duduzane Zuma, the person said. That makes him the biggest individual shareholder in Optimum, the person said. Rajesh Kumar Gupta has a 25 percent stake in Mabengela, according to the person.  Bloomberg

Egyptian Columnist Delivers Stinging attack Against el-Sissi
A prominent columnist on Sunday delivered the harshest attack to date against Egypt’s president in the local media, saying that Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi presided over a “theocracy” that is no different from the Islamist-led government he overthrew in 2013. In a front-page column in the al-Maqal daily, Ibrahim Eissa expressed outrage over a two-year prison sentence issued Saturday against author Ahmed Naji for publishing a sexually explicit excerpt of his novel that prosecutors said violated “public modesty.” The sentence has angered Egyptian authors and artists, who say it’s a blatant encroachment on the freedom of expression and artistic creativity enshrined in Egypt’s new constitution. A statement signed by 13 rights groups and published Sunday called for Naji’s immediate release.  AP on Yahoo News

EU Refuses to Send Observers to Congo Vote: Statement
The EU decision came as it dismissed recent electoral reforms in the country, including the introduction of an independent electoral commission, as insufficient to guarantee a transparent vote. “The current context does not allow … the EU to envisage setting up an electoral observers’ mission for the March 20 vote,” a spokesman for the bloc’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in the statement dated February 19. The European Union considers that “the reforms to the electoral law that were introduced in January 23 appear limited” and do not fulfil the recommendations made by an EU mission to the country. The legal reform came after a new constitution removed barriers to President Denis Sassou Nguesso extending his rule. AFP on Times Live

Ivory Coast Extradites 3 Coup Suspects to Burkina Faso
A Burkina Faso military official says Ivory Coast extradited three former members of an elite unit that staged a brief, failed coup last September. Colonel Sita Sangare, a military prosecutor, said the suspects arrived in Ouagadougou on Saturday evening. They became the target of international arrest warrants after they fled to Ivory Coast when the coup failed and Burkina Faso’s transitional government was restored. The two countries’ presidents have sought to ease tensions after Burkina Faso’s military tribunal announced in January that an arrest warrant had been issued for Guillaume Soro, the head of Ivory Coast’s parliament, for his alleged role in the September coup. Ex-Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore also remains in Ivory Coast despite a warrant for his arrest over the 1987 death of his predecessor, Thomas Sankara. News 24

Crowded field Competes for Comoros President
Voters in the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros voted for a new president on Sunday from a crowded field of 25 candidates, with a struggling economy and poor infrastructure high on the agenda. Polling stations in the country of less than one million people officially opened at 04:00 GMT, although some were delayed by the late arrival of voting materials. By midday, no major incidents had been reported as some of the 159 000 voters on Grand Comore island cast their ballots in an election protected by several measures to combat voter fraud. Only voters on Grande Comore were eligible to vote in the first round of the election, in accordance with electoral rules that stipulate the president is chosen on a rotating basis from one of the archipelago’s three main islands. Among those running for president are a former coup leader and the vice president.  News 24

The Truth About Child Trafficking in Senegal
[…] Across the country, there is a tradition of sending boys ages 5 to 15 to Koranic boarding schools known as daaras. In reality, the boys—known as talibés—are forced to spend more than eight hours a day begging in the streets for money, rice and sugar for their marabouts. The rest of the time, they are locked inside squalid buildings learning the Koran, while the marabout collects their daily earnings with no fear of being investigated or prosecuted. Parents often send their children to daaras to study the Koran simply because they can’t afford education. But what is presented as a form of education is often a cover for the exploitation of these children. In addition to being forced to beg, the talibés are beaten, raped by their marabouts or older talibés, chained to the ground so they can’t run away, and live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. Malaria, skin diseases, breathing problems and stomach parasites are common.  Newsweek

Lavish Celebrations for Mugabe’s Birthday, Despite Drought
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has marked his 92nd birthday Sunday with private celebrations while a massive event is planned for next week amid the country’s widespread drought. The state broadcaster led bulletins with well-wishes for Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state who has been in power for 36 years, while the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper published a 16-page supplement for the birthday. “Mugabe’s birthday is like that of Jesus Christ,” proclaimed posters promoting the newspaper’s special edition. Public celebrations will be held on Feb. 27 in the southeastern city of Masvingo, near the historic site of Great Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s birthday has been publicly celebrated since 1986 and while political leaders would not divulge the budget for this year’s party, in the past the event has cost up to $1 million for the transportation, accommodation and food for thousands of guests.   AP on Yahoo News



Photo: Adam Jones