Media Review for December 30, 2015

Central African Republic Holds Elections after Years of Conflict
Polls have opened in the Central African Republic in delayed presidential and parliamentary elections aimed at restoring stable government after years of turmoil. Thirty candidates are vying to replace interim leader Catherine Samba-Panza. UN peacekeepers are patrolling to stop a repeat of the clashes during a recent referendum on a new constitution. CAR has been torn by sectarian violence since a largely Muslim Seleka rebel group seized power in March 2013. BBC

Burundi Government Wants “Coup Plotters” out of the Talks
The Burundi peace talks could be headed for a stalemate after the warring parties appeared to be unwilling to concede ground to each other Head of the Burundi government delegation, foreign affairs minister Alain Nyamitwe, told NTV that they may pull out of the dialogue if opposition members suspected to be behind the recent attempted coup are part of the negotiations. The talks were relaunched on Monday by the chief mediator, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. But the Burundi opposition also want President Pierre Nkurunziza, who was controversially re-elected for a third term in July, to step down as a means to end the ongoing crisis that has claimed hundreds of lives. NTV

Four Former Burundi Presidents Join Talks
Negotiations to end the violence in Burundi kicked off yesterday at State House Entebbe with four former Burundian presidents attending the talks mediated by President Museveni. Ex-Presidents Pierre Buyoya, Sylvester Ntibantunganya, Domitien Ndayizeye and Jean Baptist Bagaza attended the inaugural session to draw the agenda for talks aimed at ending the bloody political unrest. However, the talks seemed be headed for a rocky route with the Burundi government side giving a condition that all “coup plotters should not be allowed to attend the negotiations” First Deputy Chairperson of the ruling party CNDD-FDD Victor Burikukikiye told the meeting attended by representatives of regional countries, international bodies and powers that it was “wrong to meet people who participated in the failed coup.” “Before we start the negotiations, there are things that must be addressed. Those who participated in the coup attempt should not participate,” he said, adding that the talks’ agenda must be agreeable and should reflect recent events in Burundi. Daily Monitor

New Burkina Faso President Sworn In
Burkina Faso has a new leader for the first time in nearly 30 years, as President Roch Marc Kabore took the oath of office Tuesday. Kabore promised to “preserve, respect, enforce and defend the constitution” in a ceremony from Ouagadougou broadcast live on Burkinabe radio and television. Kabore’s swearing-in comes 14 months after former president Blaise Compaore was overthrown in a mass uprising, sparked by an attempt to extend his 27-year-rule. A transitional government organized the presidential election that Kabore won last month with 53 percent of the vote. VOA

SANDF Commander to Head UN’s DRC Mission
An experienced South African general is taking over as commander of the 20 000-strong peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the UN’s largest mission, officials said on Tuesday. Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi will head the MONUSCO force as it presses on with operations targeting rebel groups in the eastern DRC and as the country heads for elections next year. Tensions have been rising ahead of the vote due in November over fears that President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, will seek changes to the constitution to stay in power. Mgwebi, 59, served as head of the UN mission in Burundi from 2004 to 2006. He is currently chief of joint operations of the South African Defence Forces, and has served as director of special forces and head of South Africa’s army infantry formation. News 24

Former Rwandan Mayor Sentenced to Life over Role in Genocide
A German court sentenced a former Rwandan mayor to life in prison on Tuesday, convicting him after a second trial of participating in genocide for helping organize the killing of some 400 members of the Tutsi minority in 1994. Onesphore Rwabukombe, 58, was convicted in 2014 of being an accessory to genocide and sentenced to 14 years in prison. Both sides appealed that ruling, and a federal court found that evidence heard at the original three-year trial suggested there was sufficient evidence for a tougher conviction. It ordered the Frankfurt state court to reconsider the case, and judges ruled Tuesday after a five-day trial. Their finding of aggravated circumstances means that early release, which is common in Germany, is less likely. Rwabukombe, a member of the Hutu majority who was mayor of Muvumba, was accused of ordering the attack at church grounds where the victims had taken refuge in the town of Kiziguro on April 11, 1994. AP on Stars and Stripes

A Uganda Gay Rights Fight is Taking Place in a Springfield Court
A Ugandan gay-rights organization is accusing Springfield Christian pastor and former gubernatorial candidate Scott Lively of crimes against humanity, reports The Boston Globe . The group, Sexual Minorities Uganda, alleges Lively has worked to deprive gay people in Uganda of their fundamental human rights such as assembling peaceably. Lively has traveled to Uganda to work with activists and officials and gave speeches there about the “gay movement” being “an evil institution,” reports the Globe. “Scott Lively’s long record of exporting vicious anti-LGBT bigotry is horrifying. His words and actions harm LGBT people from the United States to Uganda and beyond,” Kerry Brodie, a spokeswoman for The Human Rights Campaign, told the Globe in a statement. The Boston Globe

South Sudan’s 28 Governors Take Oath, Told to Relinquish Positions in Near Future
South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, witnessed swearing in ceremony of 28 governors he appointed recently, but reminded the governors from states of greater Upper Nile to be ready to leave positions for candidates from the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) when a transitional government will be formed in accordance with a peace deal signed in August been warring parties in the country. President Kiir said his government will further negotiate with the SPLM-IO leadership to amend the power sharing agreement and relieve governors whose states will be governed by the peace stakeholders led by former vice-president, Riek Machar.  Sudan Tribune

Escape from Leer and South Sudan Civil War
Eight months pregnant and fearing for her life, Nyayang Bol Biel gathered up her two young children in the dead of night and prepared to embark on a 500-mile journey that she prayed would save their lives. Nyayang had already lost many friends and relatives to the war that had raged around her for almost two years. Now, soldiers were tightening their grip on the marshland in the remote northern area of South Sudan where she and her family were eking out a fragile existence. As she headed for the safety of Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya, Nyayang left behind her parents, her four sisters and three brothers, knowing that she might never see them again. But she felt that she had no choice. A year earlier, Nyayang’s hometown of Leer in Unity State had been razed to the ground, forcing her and her community into the bush. Now she was no longer safe even in the swamps. Al Jazeera

VP: ‘Sudan Determined to Close Darfur Camps’
Sudan’s Second Vice-President, Hasabo Mohamed Abdelrahman, said that his government is determined to close the camps for displaced people in Darfur next year. He further instructed the return of police forces and prosecutors to Um Baru locality. Abdelrahman delivered a speech to the representatives of former rebel groups and displaced people in Um Baru, North Darfur on Monday. According to Sudan Tribune, the Second VP said Darfur has “completely recovered from the war and is now looking forward to achieve a full peace, stability and development. “The camps represent a significant and unfortunate loss of dignity and rights of citizens in their country,” he said, and called on the displaced people “to choose within no more than a month between resettlement or return to their original areas. Radio Dabanga

Libya Next For Military Intervention Against IS?
A couple of years ago, I had lunch with a senior civil servant responsible for, among other things, advising the Prime Minister. The adviser, a little younger than me, had not been on the ground in Libya – and I had. “You need to keep an eye on Libya,” I somewhat pompously intoned. “The place is falling apart and the loonies are on the march.” The former Italian colony has, following the fall of the Gaddafi regime, become a messy bolognaise of a country. Tribal militia have seized vast swathes of the country which was splitting between east and west while the “loonies” – radical jihadis – were gaining ground. Sky News

Algeria’s Bouteflika Approves Constitutional Reform Proposal
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has approved a long-awaited constitutional reform package, state media reported, part of measures he pledged after taking office for a fourth term last year. The draft constititional revision, approved at a “restricted” cabinet meeting late on Monday, will be submitted for final approval next month to parliament, where Bouteflika’s allies have an overwhelmimg majority. Bouteflika, who had a stroke in 2013 and has not been seen in public since the election, promised reforms to strengthen democracy in Algeria, which has been controlled largely by the FLN party and the military since it won independence in 1962. When the proposals were discussed last year, they included delegating more executive authority to the prime minister and more powers for opposition parties in parliament, as well as reforms for the press and to counter corruption. Reuters

An Ex-Dictator Faces Trial — But Not In The Country He Ruled
Chad’s ex-dictator Hissene Habre stands accused of crimes against humanity, including allegations of sexual slavery, and the testimony over the past few months has been harrowing. The case is also setting a precedent because it marks the first time the former ruler of one African country, Chad, has been put on trial in another nation, Senegal, in a specially convened court, backed by the African Union. Dozens of witnesses have testified in the capital, Dakar, at the court, known as the Extraordinary African Chambers. Women say they were raped in custody during Habre’s regime from 1982 to 1990. One woman, Kadidja Hassan Zidane, testified in October that Habre, now 73, raped her four times in the presidential palace in the 1980s. NPR

A Cause For Cautious Celebration: Guinea Is Ebola-Free
Guinea is set to celebrate with concerts and fireworks Wednesday, following the World Health Organization’s announcement that the country is now officially Ebola-free. On Tuesday, WHO declared that after two years and over 2,500 deaths, the Ebola epidemic in Guinea has officially ended. The announcement marks the passing of two 21-day incubation periods since the last person to have contracted Ebola — a baby girl called Noubia — was cured of the virus. “Of course people are happy,” says Safiatou L. Diallo, a World Bank operations officer based in Conakry, Guinea. “But the mood here is also very humble. People have lost their entire families, and we are still remembering and mourning that.” The announcement in Guinea is a milestone, because “this is the first time that all three countries — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — have stopped the original chains of transmission that were responsible for starting this devastating outbreak two years ago,” said WHO regional director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti in a statement. NPR

Exclusive Access Inside Boko Haram’s Stronghold in Nigeria
BBC Hausa’s Jimeh Saleh was granted exclusive access to Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa forest in north-eastern Nigeria. Travelling with the Nigerian army, he went to see how far the region had come since Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to crush the group by the end of 2015 when he was elected in May. Boko Haram’s six-year insurgency has seen more than 17,000 people killed and over a million others displaced. BBC

Nigeria: The Defeat of Deadly Boko Haram?
Nigeria’s information minister said on Tuesday that Boko Haram was “largely defeated” – despite two days of grisly attacks blamed on the armed group that killed dozens in the volatile northeast. Lai Mohammed said the Nigerian government had greatly reduced Boko Haram’s capacity to strike, adding it was on its last legs as a rebel force since launching an insurgency six years ago that has killed an estimated 20,000 people. “Boko Haram has been largely defeated. They know they are on their way out,” Mohammed told journalists in Lagos.  “They lack the capacity to launch horrendous attacks they used to do in the past. We have succeeded in dislodging them. Our problem now is how to resettle the internally displaced people.” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari set a self-imposed deadline to stamp out the group on December 31, and he said recently Boko Haram had been “technically” defeated.  Al Jazeera

African Democracy Saw Ups and Downs in 2015
The year 2015 was defined by both highs and lows for democracies across Africa, complete with elections, coup attempts, constitutional changes, and peaceful transfers of power.   Nigeria saw its first democratic transition of power in April, when 72-year-old former general and military dictator Muhammadu Buhari defeated incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan. The polls ended 16 years of one-party dominance for the continent’s most populous nation. In Tanzania, President Jakaya Kikwete stepped down after his constitutionally mandated two terms. John Magufuli was peacefully elected in October after a spirited campaign. The former public works minister demonstrated his dedication to abolishing waste and reducing poverty by shoveling leaves and trash to mark Independence Day after canceling the usual festivities.  VOA

Egypt Arrests 4 Leaders of Anti-Mubarak Movement
Egyptian authorities on Monday arrested four leaders of a youth movement that spearheaded the 2011 revolt against former president Hosni Mubarak, judicial officials said. The arrests of the leaders of the April 6 movement come less than one month before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 2011 revolt that ousted Mubarak. Sherif Arubi, Mohamed Nabil, Ayman Abdel Megid and Mahmud Hesham were arrested at their homes on Monday morning, a judicial official said. “The four are accused of inciting violence” and will be held for 15 days under preventative detention, the official said on condition of anonymity.  News 24

Kenya, Uganda Seek Transport Corridor Funds with Eye on Trade
Kenya and Uganda plan to build another corridor to boost trade between the two East African countries. Uganda National Roads Authority and the Kenya National Highways Authority are seeking funds from the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the project which will traverse Uasin Gishu County and to the west of the boundaries of Eldoret, Trans Nzoia. The proposed road project dubbed multinational Uganda and Kenya: Kapchorwa – Suam – Endebess – Kitale – Eldoret Bypass Roads Project is expected to start at Cheplaskei; about 13 kilometres from the centre of Eldoret town, following a north westerly direction traversing the Eldoret – Kapsabet – Kisumu road at Kapsaret. Secure 100 acres Trans Nzoia governor Patrick Khaemba, in an earlier interview, told the Business Daily that they had intensified talks with the national government to secure 100 acres of the Suam forest on the Kenya-Ugandan border to set up a trading centre.  The East African

Sudan Arises as Sugar Hub
[…] Sudan is emerging as a regional sugar trading hub, with the commodity offering a bright spot for an economy ravaged by decades of conflict and the plunging price of oil. At the same time, Sudan’s imports of refined sugar—a key food ingredient in the desert nation that lacks natural sweeteners like fruits—is helping to push the global sugar-price recovery, according to analysts and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The shift for Sudan has been propelled by a combination of market liberalization, demand for sugar from neighboring countries where prices are higher and swelling domestic consumption boosted by a record refugee influx. The refugee situation has pushed Sudanese demand for refined, or white, sugar to 1.5 million metric tons this year from less than 900,000 tons in 2014, according to the International Sugar Organization. “The market has became sort of addicted to Sudan in the last year or so,” said one Dubai-based sugar trader. “Every time you looked at a vessel lineup, you saw vessels going to Sudan.”  The Wall Street Journal

Raymond Gilpin on Africa’s Diverse Economies (video)
The year 2015 has been a year of success and challenges for the African continent. Many nations have managed to keep their economic growth rates higher despite the impact of the Ebola virus and price drop of oil. CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough spoke with Raymond Gilpin, the Dean of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.  CCTV



Photo: Adam Jones