Media Review for December 10, 2015

The Political and Security Crisis in Burundi
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
Panel One: The Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of African Affairs,  U.S. Department of State Washington , D.C. Download Testimony
Panel Two: Dr. Joseph Siegle Director Of Research, Africa Center For Strategic Studies National, Defense University Washington , D.C. Download Testimony
Mr. Sixte Vigny Nimuraba Dean’s Assistant And Director Of Violence Prevention Program, The School For Conflict Analysis And Resolution, George Mason University Arlington , VA  Download Testimony
Mr. Thierry Vircoulon Central Africa Project Director, International Crisis Group Nairobi , Kenya Download Testimony

Burundi Unrest: 7 Killed in Violence Related to President’s Extension of His Time in Power
Seven more people were killed in Burundi’s capital in violence associated with turmoil over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s extension of his term in office, witnesses said Wednesday. The international community has warned that the central African country could slide into chaos if the killings continue. The U.N. says at least 240 people have been killed since April when Nkurunziza’s candidacy was announced. Men in police uniforms pulled five people from their houses in Cibitoke neighborhood and shot them dead Wednesday morning, resident Salima Bukuru said. Their bodies were left on the roadside, she said. “That one works for a company which processes soap. He had just returned home from the night shift when they came for him. They beat him as they pulled him out of the house,” Bukuru said pointing at a body among the group of five bloody corpses on the side of the street in Cibitoke.  AP on US News and World Report

Nearly 100 Protesters Released from Burundi Prison
Nearly 100 Burundian protesters who opposed President Pierre Nkurunziza during months of violence in the capital Bujumbura have been released from prison, officials said on Tuesday, as the government held aid talks with European Union officials. Burundi, which emerged from a 12-year civil war a decade ago, began spiralling into chaos in April when Nkurunziza announced he would seek a third term, causing months of protests in Bujumbura and a failed coup. Bujumbura has been holding talks with European Union officials about whether the tiny East African nation can continue benefitting from EU aid after arresting hundreds of protesters, shuttering private media houses and closing bank accounts of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Deo Ruberintwari, the Interior Ministry’s permanent secretary, said the release of 97 prisoners “has no connection with the consultations under way”. Reuters

Seven Ethiopian Students Killed for Protesting Development Plan
Activists claim security forces have killed at least seven students in more than two weeks across Ethiopia’s Oromia state, where students have been protesting a government plan to expand the area of the capital, Addis Ababa, into Oromia. Oromia police have confirmed three fatalities in what it termed provocations by “anti-peace elements.” Images of severely injured students have been posted on social media, and hundreds of other protesters have reportedly been rounded up in a crackdown on those demonstrating against several state-led development projects. Oromo students, the opposition and diaspora activists liken the proposed Addis Ababa and the Surrounding Oromia Special Zone Integrated Development Plan, or the Master Plan, to a land grab. They fear that it will displace Oromo farmers and undermine Oromia’s interests by expanding Addis Ababa’s boundaries. Al Jazeera America

Boko Haram: US Calls for Viable Military Action
The United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Amb. Samantha Power, on Wednesday said that Nigeria urgently needed a viable military action to end activities of Boko Haram. The African Media Hub of the U.S. Department of State in a statement said that Power also called for a regional strategy to disrupt Boko Haram’s hideouts, weapons’ flow and means of recruitment.   “The repeated attacks by Boko Haram, which have killed 27 in the Lake Chad region, require viable military action and a wider regional strategy to disrupt their safe havens, weapons flow and recruitment. “It’s also essential that the socio-economic conditions areas being exploited by Boko Haram be addressed and that their dire humanitarian conditions be addressed as well,’’ it said. Vanguard

Boko Haram Still a Threat as Deadline Nears
Earlier this year, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari gave his country’s military a deadline of December to defeat the six-year-old Boko Haram insurgency. Whether the troops have met that deadline depends on how you define “defeat.” A military spokesman says soldiers have pushed the insurgents out of territory they controlled in the northeast, as well as degraded their ability to stage large-scale attacks. Some residents of the northeastern city of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, say they feel safer; but, soldiers who spoke to VOA say they’re ill-equipped and outgunned, while a government official in Borno State says some areas remain unsafe. VOA

COP21: Climate Change and Conflict Meet in Cameroon
Nadine Wondje, a native of Manoka, an island off the coast of Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala, fears the sea will soon “swallow” her village. “Those poles and the other stakes you see is what remains of our homes that were once located there,” she told IRIN, pointing out to sea. “We have been displaced many times, each time further and further inland.” Wondje doesn’t know where her family will go the next time a storm destroys her house, but coastal erosion and regional flooding have forced many away already.  Tens of thousands of people in Cameroon are not only being driven from their homes and communities due to deadly attacks by Boko Haram, but also, increasingly, because of extreme weather events, including drought and monsoon rains. At least 120 villages have been destroyed since 2012 by flooding, along with thousands of hectares of farmland, according to Cameroon’s Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization.   IRIN

Lake Chad Suicide Blasts Stretch Aid Agencies, Displaced “Live in Fear”
A series of suicide bombings in Lake Chad in recent months, blamed on Boko Haram militants, has hindered healthcare and aid delivery and left tens of thousands of displaced people living in fear of further violence, aid agencies said on Tuesday. Four female suicide bombers attacked Koulfoua island on Saturday, killing at least 15 people and injuring 130, the latest in a wave of bombings that prompted Chad last month to declare a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region. Chad was instrumental in forcing Boko Haram to cede territory earlier this year, but the swampy maze of islands in the border areas between Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria has since become a main target for the militant Islamist group. More than 50,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to the violence and threat of further attacks, which has hampered the provision of supplies and healthcare to those in need, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said. Reuters

Sudan Braces for ‘Fighting Season’ as Peace Talks Fall Flat
For residents in southern Sudan, the official return of the dry season brings with it the renewed threat of war. As roads dry out, government forces and rebel groups have mobilised to resume fighting after peace talks between representatives from the two sides failed to reach an agreement in late November. This week, the South Kordofan governor, Issa Adam, told press that 2016 would be the “final year of the conflict”, implying a potential intensification of fighting if armed groups continued to reject political dialogue. During the last period of conflict, which usually starts in December as roads become passable after the rainy season, more than 2,000 bombs were dropped on civilian targets in the region, according to citizen reporters. The Guardian

British Army Signs Training Deal with Kenya
Kenya has signed a deal with the UK, allowing the British Army to continue training thousands of troops in the country every year. The agreement still needs to be ratified by both the UK and the Kenyan parliaments, but it will allow the army to use what has become its biggest foreign training area for live firing drills. The BBC’s Africa Correspondent Alastair Leithead joined one of the exercises.  BBC

French Nuclear Giant Areva Accused of Bribery in South Africa, Namibia, Central African Republic
Anti-corruption NGO Sherpa has filed a case against French-based nuclear power multinational Areva, alleging corruption related to a mining deal involving assets in South Africa, Namibia and the Central African Republic. The allegations centre on the 1.8-billion-euro purchase of three uranium mines in 2007. “We have a strong suspicion of bribery,” relating to foreign government officials, Sherpa executive director Laetitia Liebert told RFI on Wednesday. “We are trying to understand how these suspicious operations could escape the attention of the compliance and audit committees of the group.” RFI

Can Old Faces Bring True Change after Burkina Faso Polls?
A year after an uprising toppled Blaise Compaore after he led Burkina Faso for 27 years, the people of the west African country have elected a new leader whose deep ties to the old regime make many doubt the prospects for real change.  President-elect Roch Marc Christian Kabore had a succession of strategic jobs under Compaore before falling out of favour just 10 months before the insurrection of October 2014. Kabore, whose Movement of the People of Progress (MPP) won 55 of 127 seats in the November 30 polls, has vowed a “total break with the old regime”. But some observers see him and his entourage as opportunists. Times Live

How Big is Isis in Libya – and How Much will the Death of Abu Nabil Affect Them?
Nabil is believed to be a long-term al-Qaeda militant who previously operated in Iraq. He is suspected of appearing in an Isis video, which showed the brutal beach murders of kidnapped Coptic Christians. The film included threats of future attacks against “people of the cross”. According to Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook, the death of Nabil will limit the ambitions of Isis in Libya. In a statement released 14 November, Mr Cook explained: “Nabil’s death will degrade Isil’s ability to meet the group’s objectives in Libya, including recruiting new Isil members, establishing bases in Libya, and planning external attacks on the United States.” However, the extent to which Nabil’s death damages Isis operations in Libya remains to be seen. The Independent

31 Dead, 20,000 Families Homeless in Torrential Rain in Kinshasa
Anger peaked in Kinshasa’s slums Wednesday as DR Congo’s poor grappled with little more than bare hands against torrential rains and flooding that have left 31 people dead and 20,000 families homeless in less than three weeks. “They kill us from hunger, now they’re exterminating us with water,” said Jocelyne Kapinga, wading through mud, slime and fecal matter swirling inches above the heels of her rubber boots. Since November 19, “we have recorded 31 deaths due to the collapse of homes” in repeated downpours, Kinshasa’s Interior Minister Emmanuel Akweti told AFP. The city’s wet season normally runs from October to May, but this year the rains began only in mid-November, with a third of the average annual rainfall — or 450 mm (17.72 inches) of water — falling in less than three weeks, Akweti said. In Ndanu, an impoverished southeastern district of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, people have been hit especially badly by this year’s unusually heavy rains. AFP on Yahoo News

US Seeks Transparency on Alleged Rapes by UN Peacekeepers
The United States today called for greater transparency into alleged sexual assaults by UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic, demanding to know the nationalities of the accused. The admonition from the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, followed a new round of accusations received by the UN mission in the African country, known as MINUSCA, against peacekeeping troops accused of sexually assaulting women and young girls. Power, in strongly worded testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the alleged crimes “egregious” and “horrific”. Her testimony came a day after a French court heard charges against four French soldiers suspected of raping child refugees in the African country in 2013 and 2014. AFP on The Times onf India

Senior Fugitive Rwanda Genocide Suspect Arrested
One of nine top fugitive Rwandan genocide suspects, a former mayor accused of slaughtering thousands and organising mass rapes in 1994, has been arrested, the UN has said. Ladislas Ntaganzwa, for whom the US had issued a $5 million bounty for his arrest, is indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity. Around 800,000 people — mostly members of the minority Tutsi community — were slaughtered in the 100-day orgy of violence, largely by ethnic Hutus. Ntaganzwa is accused of organising, “the massacre of thousands of Tutsis at various locations… he was also alleged to have orchestrated the rape and sexual violence committed against many women,” the UN-backed Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) said in a statement received Thursday.  AFP on Globalpost

Western Sahara: Morocco Wants to Negotiate Directly With Algeria
The United Nations Secretary General’s Personal Envoy to Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, said in a closed doors meeting briefing before the Security Council on Tuesday that Morocco foresees no political solution to the conflict as long as Algeria is not brought to the negotiations table in “a formal way.” While describing the step he took since last April to bridge the gap between Morocco on the one hand, the Polisario and Algeria on the other hand, in order to reach a political settlement to the conflict, Ross said that his efforts were fruitless. “To this end, I visited the region three times in September, October, and November. Unfortunately, these efforts have not borne any real fruit to date,” he said. “The Polisario has confirmed that it is ready to resume face-to-face talks even in the absence of new ideas. Morocco remains unready to do so without significant preparation through shuttle diplomacy,” he added. Morocco World News

Nhlanhla Nene: South Africa Uproar After Finance Minister Sacked
The decision by South Africa President Jacob Zuma to sack the finance minister has been widely criticised. South Africa’s currency fell close to a record low against the dollar on Thursday morning as the markets were digesting the news. BBC Africa business reporter Lerato Mbele says that Nhalnhla Nene’s attempt to rein in spending may have unsettled some people loyal to the president. The sacking comes as South Africa’s economy is struggling to grow.  BBC

Once Militant, Now Millionaire. Next Up: South Africa President?
Cyril Ramaphosa is the only serving politician in South Africa who’s led both a labor union and a business empire. Now chances are rising that he’ll lead the country. The country’s biggest labor group last month cautiously backed Ramaphosa to head the ruling African National Congress in two years – a post that would make him a shoo-in to succeed President Jacob Zuma in 2019. That would crown a comeback from political obscurity after Thabo Mbeki outmaneuvered him to become deputy president in 1994 and for the top job when Nelson Mandela stepped down in 1999. He was only named deputy president last year. If Ramaphosa, 63, does triumph he’d face an economy that’s gone adrift under Zuma. The rand has hit record lows, the nation’s credit rating is on the brink of being downgraded to junk and violent protests are the order of the day. Public disgruntlement is growing about 25.5 percent unemployment and a lack of housing and decent education.  Bloomberg

Crisis Sparked by Lord’s Restistance Army in Central Africa Must Not Be Underestimated, Security Council Warned
Central Africa’s security and humanitarian crisis triggered by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) should not be underestimated, senior United Nations and African Union officials in the region told the Security Council today, urging all forces involved in combating the armed group to sustain their momentum and coordinate more closely in order to eliminate its influence. Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the region (document S/2015/914), Abdoulaye Bathily, Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), said the LRA was particularly active in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It had adapted to the strong collective response by keeping a low profile, buying time and taking advantage of coordination gaps in hopes that fatigue and competing priorities would weaken resolve. UN

Angola: Donald Trump Isn’t The Only One Calling For Restrictions On Muslims
Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made headlines this week by saying he wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He previously said he would “strongly consider” shutting down some mosques in the U.S. Trump’s controversial comments might seem unprecedented, but there’s a country that has taken Trump’s rhetoric one step further and actually put one of his proposed policies — shutting down mosques — into practice. That country? Angola. The oil-rich, southern African nation of 21 million is thousands of miles away, but looks a lot like the U.S. when it comes to religion. Both countries are roughly three-fourths Christian (Roman Catholicism dominates in Angola) and less than 1 percent Muslim. But in contrast with the U.S., the Angolan government has made it extremely difficult for non-Christian religious groups to practice their faith. Bloomberg

UN, Warning of Migration Specter, Seeks Record $2B for Sahel
The United Nations on Wednesday sought a record $2 billion for the Sahel to tackle what a senior U.N. official called a triple crisis of poverty, insecurity and climate change that could lead to a new wave of migration. The United Nations has increased its appeal for the nine countries in the semiarid band stretching from Senegal to Chad more than tenfold in as many years, but each year funding has fallen short. Toby Lanzer, U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator, said that it would be difficult for top donors from Western governments, facing many competing crises, to increase their pledges but that it was in their own best interests to do so. “Right now people are riding their bicycles from Russia into Norway,” he said, referring to Syrian refugees arriving in northern Europe. “Eventually, you are going to have thousands or tens of thousands of people [from the Sahel] who will seek opportunities elsewhere or, if worse comes to the worst, be forced to flee,” he told Reuters. VOA

Wall of Trees Being Planted Across Africa to Halt Desert
It seems like Mission Impossible: Stop the Sahara Desert from spreading farther south, its incursion into arable land fueled by climate change and overgrazing. But tree by tree, a Great Green Wall is being planted across a belt of Africa to fight back, though the success of the Herculean effort depends in large part on about a dozen countries making a concerted effort and on funding. Under plans launched in 2007, the Great Green Wall will be an arc of trees and plants running 7,000 kilometers (4,350 miles) across Africa — from Senegal along the Atlantic all the way to Djibouti on the Gulf of Aden. The 15-kilometer (9-mile) wide wall is a part of a wider initiative meant to help reduce seasonal winds packed with sand and dust, slow land degradation and the encroaching desert, and to improve the health and lives of those living nearby. The New York Times

How Cash is Carried Across Congo
Imagine if, to collect your salary each month, you had to walk to the nearest town—perhaps tens of miles away—to congregate in a school or a football pitch or a church. There, you and your colleagues wait for a man to arrive from the capital—perhaps a thousand miles away—with a suitcase of cash. Most of the time, you do not receive as much money as you should. Sometimes the man does not arrive at all.  Until recently, that is how most government employees in the Democratic Republic of Congo were paid. But over the past three years the government has been trying to get civil servants to open bank accounts, to which their pay can be transferred directly. In the process, it is accelerating the spread of banking in an economy that, according to Michel Losembe, the bow-tied president of the Congolese Banking Association, is “not very far off barter”. Few countries are as corrupt as Congo. A persistent national joke concerns a mythical “Article 15” of the constitution, which reads “Débrouillez-vous”—“You’re on your own”.  The Economist



Photo: Adam Jones