Media Review for November 12, 2015

Nigeria Gets Cabinet Ministers After Long Wait
Nigeria on Wednesday finally got a new government after more than five months of waiting, as 36 ministers and junior ministers swore the oath of allegiance and were assigned formal roles. The ceremony at President Muhammadu Buhari’s official residence in the capital, Abuja, brought to an end 166 days in which he has effectively been in sole charge of Africa’s leading economy. Buhari described the appointments as a “milestone” and indicated it had taken so long to decide because of the need to put “round pegs in round holes” with the right people for the job.  Daily Mail

Around 25 Dead in Boko Haram Raid in Niger and Clashes with Army
Around 25 people were killed on Wednesday in a Boko Haram attack on a village in southern Niger and subsequent clashes between the Islamist militants and the army, Niger military officials said. Fighters from the Nigerian militant group killed five civilians in their initial attack on the village located in the West African nation’s Bosso district. Niger soldiers drove back the militants, killing around 20 of them, the officers said. “Reactingly quickly, the government’s forces were able to push them back. Most of the Boko Haram elements have been neutralized,” said one of the officers, based in the Diffa border region. “The situation is under control and we are carrying out clean-up operations,” he added. Reuters

Kabila Must Go
There are hints that the president of the DRC wants to delay presidential elections. Here’s why that would be a disaster. On October 31, a spokesman for President Joseph Kabila’s ruling coalition in the Democratic Republic of Congo called for the country’s presidential elections — originally scheduled for November 2016 — to be delayed for two to four years in order to ensure their “credibility.” This would be convenient for President Kabila, who is constitutionally ineligible to run for another term. Although the government’s information minister played down the possibility of a delay, DRC experts have already noted Kabila’s strategy of creating administrative hurdles to postpone elections. In the DRC, the rules don’t matter. Power does. The Kabila regime is not without friends. Over the last few years, China has invested heavily in the DRC, and Kabila can most likely count on support from at least some of the neighboring countries, such as Angola, should he decide to stay in power. And even Kabila’s fiercest critics would concede that he has done some things right. The country’s economy is now one of the fastest-growing in the world. Foreign Policy

Congo’s Kabila Should Receive Immunity, Says Main Opponent Katumbi
Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Joseph Kabila should be granted immunity from prosecution after he leaves office, said Moise Katumbi, the popular former governor widely considered the frontrunner to replace him. The statement by Katumbi is likely to be viewed as an attempt to convince Kabila to leave office when his second and final elected term ends next year. Katumbi, who led the mining province of Katanga, did not specify what charges Kabila, who has ruled Africa’s top copper producer for nearly 15 years, could potentially face. In an interview with Reuters at his home in the mining hub of Lubumbashi, Katumbi said he had discussed the subject of immunity for Kabila with fellow opposition figures Etienne Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe during a recent visit to Europe.  Reuters

Obama Expresses ‘Deep Concern’ over Situation in Burundi: White House
U.S. President Barack Obama, in a phone c    all with South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, expressed “deep concern” about the situation in Burundi, the White House said. Obama asked Zuma “to continue to work with other regional actors to call for calm and press for a dialogue that can bring about a long-term solution to the crisis,” the White House said in a statement. At least 240 people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled to neighboring states, during months of violence that began when Burundi’s president, Pierre Nkurunziza, decided in April to run for a third term. He won a disputed election in July. Reuters

Nobody’s Sure Who’s Running Algeria But It Definitely Isn’t The President
It is the largest country by land mass in all of Africa, and the second or third largest by population in the Arab world, blessed with massive oil and gas reserves that have turned it into one of the key military and political powers of the Mediterranean. But many say Algeria is in deep trouble, with its ailing longtime ruler nowhere to be seen and factions struggling over a successor. […] A group of 19 politicians, including former ministers, last Friday signed a letter voicing concern about Bouteflika’s heath, wondering whether he was actually running the country’s day-to-day affairs and requesting a meeting with him. “We believe it is our duty as Algerian patriots to draw your attention to the deterioration of the general climate in our country,” the letter said. Bouteflika’s prime minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, insisted Monday his boss was in “full control,” but the president hasn’t appeared in public for weeks. BuzzFeed News

U.S. Offers $27 Million in Rewards for Information on al Shabaab Commanders
The United States has announced rewards worth a total $27 million for information on six top commanders in the Somali Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which has launched attacks across East Africa. The U.S. Department of State said on its website that this included up to $6 million for information on Abu Ubaidah, the al Shabaab leader who took command in September 2014 after his predecessor, Ahmed Godane, was killed by a U.S. missile strike. The United States, other Western powers and countries in the region see the fight against the al Qaeda-aligned group as a vital part of the battle to prevent Islamist militancy spreading in East Africa and beyond. Reuters

Libya Army Says 13 Security Personnel Killed by ‘Terrorists’
At least 13 members of Libya’s army were killed by “terrorist” violence on Tuesday in the east of the war-torn country, an army spokesman said. “Most of the soldiers were killed by landmines planted by terrorist organisations,” spokesman Miloud al-Zawi told LANA, the official news agency of the internationally recognised government. Zawi said that 16 security personnel died in all, but only named 13 that were killed on Tuesday. It was unclear when or how the other three died. According to LANA, the soldiers were killed in different conflict areas around the eastern city of Benghazi, where their forces were trying to advance. AFP on Yahoo News

Benin’s President Says Will Step Aside in 2016 to ‘Respect the Constitution’
Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi will step down after two terms, out of “respect” for the constitution which bars him from seeking reelection in 2016, he told AFP “To each his convictions. Mine are to respect… my country’s constitution,” he said during an official visit to Paris. Boni Yayi’s decision not to try extend his rule sets him apart from many African leaders, such as Republic of Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, all of whom have been in power for decades. Sassou Nguesso, who has spent three decades in the top job since 1979, recently pushed through a new constitution allowing him seek a controversial third consecutive term in elections next year. AFP on Yahoo News

France Presses Pope to Cancel Central African Republic Visit
The French army is trying to persuade Pope Francis to scrap a visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) at the end of the month, just before a referendum and elections are due to take place, and is refusing to provide troops for his security detail, according to French media. RFI

UN Sends More Peacekeepers, Drones to C. Africa
The United Nations is sending hundreds of extra peacekeepers and its first drones to the Central African Republic to bolster security ahead of elections next month, a UN official said Tuesday. The December 27 elections are shaping up as a test of the country’s progress in its political transition after the bloodletting that followed the March 2013 coup. The new deployments may even be in place for a planned visit by Pope Francis to the troubled CAR on November 29-30, although security concerns may force the Vatican to scrap the trip. Egypt will be sending a battalion of 750 troops while 140 police from Mauritania are set to arrive before the elections, a UN official told reporters. AFP on Yahoo News

France to Wind Down Central African Mission after Elections
France will resume withdrawing its troops from Central African Republic following elections intended to restore democratic rule following more than two years of inter-religious violence, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday. Paris sent soldiers to its former colony in late 2013 in an attempt to stem the bloodshed, which began after the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power earlier in the year provoking a backlash from Christian anti-balaka militias. Interim authorities announced a timetable on Tuesday for the long-delayed presidential and parliamentary polls, fixing the first round of voting for Dec. 27 and a second round, if needed, for Jan. 31. They will be preceded by a referendum on Dec. 13 on changes to the constitution, according to a government decree. Reuters on Yahoo News

How to Unite Enemy Fighters into a Single National Army (and what that Means for Peace)
Is integrating ex-rebels and former government forces after war the way toward a stable peace? Policymakers and academics seem to think so; military integration has become an important part of peacebuilding. So far, there is little evidence that joining groups that have fought each other actually does make peace more stable. That’s partly because it takes time to evaluate how well integration worked. […] By most accounts, Rwanda has an efficient and cohesive army. There, the government invested heavily in “solidarity camps,” or political education programs such as Ingando and Itorero. These programs aimed to create a new national identity for soldiers and citizens alike. They have also helped to rewrite Rwandan history in line with how the Rwandan government wants it portrayed, which has helped the increasingly autocratic Rwandan authorities remain in power. The Washington Post

Europe Banks on Incentives and Persuasion to Keep Migrants Home
Along the Sahara trail that tens of thousands of Africans take each year to reach the shores of Italy, Europe is paying for a pit stop, of sorts — one that it hopes will give these young people on the move a reason to go back home. From Our Advertisers The center sits in Niger — in a city bustling with thousands of migrants risking everything to reach Europe — with a tough mission. It gambles that by giving the migrants heart-to-heart talks about the dangers ahead, then teaching them job skills that they can use at home, like how to make bricks out of sand and plastic, it can help stanch the exodus of Africans seeking a better life in Europe. “Of course, we cannot match their dream of being in Italy,” said Giuseppe Loprete, Niger mission chief for the International Organization for Migration, which runs the center. “But we can give them a local development project.”  The New York Times

EU Presses African Nations to Accept Migrants Back
The European Union pressed African leaders on Wednesday to take back thousands of people who do not qualify for asylum, as overwhelmed Slovenia began building a razor-wire border fence to keep migrants at bay, raising tensions with neighboring Croatia. Sweden, struggling to manage the influx too, became the latest EU nation to announce the introduction of temporary border controls, as of Thursday. According to the International Organization for Migration, almost 800,000 people have entered Europe by sea this year. The EU predicts that three million more could arrive by 2017. The Europeans say most Africans are coming in search of work and should be sent home, but many deliberately arrive without documents and must wait months before they are taken back. At an EU-run summit in Malta, African leaders are set to commit “to cooperate with the EU on return and admission, notably on travel documentation,” according to the latest draft of an “Action Plan” being drawn up. AP on ABC News

What Libya Can Teach Europe about Refugees
The ECFR has released a report suggesting Europe could learn a few things from Libya about migration management. Its author, Mattia Toaldo, tells DW what Europe is doing wrong. […] A big chunk of the migrants who arrive in Europe still come through Libya and the Libyan route has always been there. The route through Turkey and the Balkans is a bit more recent; at least, in terms of the high number of migrants using it now. Precisely since Libya has been a known route to Europe for long time, we could learn a few things from it about how to manage and control smuggling routes and networks. This information could also be applied on other routes. Deutsche Welle

No Country for Young Men: Mali Loses Youth to Migrant Crisis
Little by little, the demographics of the settlement are altering as its youth join the exodus of African migrants looking for a better life in Europe. “My three grandchildren went off in search of adventure in Spain, because here there is nothing,” a 72-year-old woman tells AFP in front of her shack. “If they had not gone, we would have died of hunger.” Across the village of around 2,000, some 60 kilometres west of the capital Bamako, the story is the same. An unearthly quiet suffocates the streets lined with straw and mud huts that once rang with the laughter of husbands, sons and fathers. Nearly 140,000 migrants arrived in Italy from Africa by sea in 2015, the bulk of them Eritreans but sizeable numbers from west Africa too, according to International Organization for Migration figures. Times Live

Don’t Give Money to Eritrea, Activist Tells EU
Eritrea, the African country that supplies the most asylum seekers to Europe, does not deserve any financial aid from the international community, an exiled human rights campaigner said on Wednesday. “Eritrea has become one of the most paranoid, repressive and secretive countries in the world,” Elizabeth Chyrum, director of Human Rights Concern – Eritrea, said before a meeting of European and African leaders in Valletta. Commenting on reports that the European Union was considering giving €200m to Eritrea to stem migration flows from the impoverished nation, Chyrum pleaded for the bloc to reconsider. News 24

East African Countries in Fresh UK travel Warning List
The United Kingdom has issued fresh travel warning to its citizens, citing security concerns in 53 countries among them three East African countries. Kenya and Uganda are ranked in the partly unsafe category with Ethiopia, Egypt, India, Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malaysia and Sudan. Countries categorised as wholly unsafe and most dangerous for British tourists include Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Guinea, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, among others. This implies that in the region, only Rwanda and Tanzania are considered safe for UK visitors. According to Edward Bergman, the African Travel Association executive director, security advisories always affect the number of visitors and investors into the specific regions, punishing an entire economy.  The East African

Cash Offensive: US Aid Organisation Kits out Army Units to Battle Boko Haram
Kitting out a Nigerien army unit is not what most humanitarians would consider the best response to Boko Haram. But for the NGO Spirit of America, it is precisely the sort of muscular aid – along with more traditional wealth-generating development projects – that’s needed to tackle the militants. The US non-profit organisation draws the line at supplying weapons. But for a donation of $27,239 (£18,030), Spirit of America will provide all the non-lethal equipment a 150-man unit patrolling the southern border with Nigeria needs. If that’s a bit steep, then $21 buys a headlamp and $62 a first aid kit. Islamist food aid won’t radicalise Pakistan’s earthquake survivors Ayesha Siddiqi Read more “Spirit of America is a philanthropic rapid response team providing humanitarian and economic assistance in support of our nation’s interests,” proclaims retired general Stanley McChrystal, of Afghanistan surge fame, on the banner of the group’s website.  The Guardian

Were Fake Bomb Detectors Used by Hotel Security in Sharm el-Sheikh?
As authorities investigate whether a bomb could have been smuggled aboard Metrojet Flight 9268, CNN has seen private security personnel in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, using handheld bomb detectors that British officials and security experts say just don’t work. Despite tightened security in the resort in the wake of the disaster which claimed 224 lives, CNN witnessed security guards at hotels and shopping centers using “bomb detectors” of a similar design to those banned for export by the British government. Asked about images of the devices in use in the Red Sea resort where Flight 9268 began, a spokesman for the British Foreign Office said it had raised the issue with Egyptian authorities. “We will continue to raise our concerns over the use of the devices in question,” said the spokesman. CNN

Egypt Stands to Lose $280m a Month
Egypt stands to lose 2.2 billion Egyptian pounds ($280 million) a month from Britain and Russia’s decision to suspend flights after the Russian plane crash in the Sinai Peninsula, Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou said on Wednesday. Britain stopped flights to Sharm al-Sheikh four days after the passenger plane crashed shortly after taking off on Oct. 31 from the Red Sea resort, pointing to the likelihood that it was brought down by a bomb. All 224 people on board were killed. Several European countries followed, and Russia later suspended flights to all Egyptian airports. IOL News

Forty Years on from Independence, Angola Still Lacks Freedom
Angola is celebrating 40 years of independence on 11 November. Now, however, people are no longer just asking for peace, democracy and bread, but also freedom. In the face of President José Eduardo dos Santos’s 36-year rule, one slogan has emerged among Angola’s informed youth: Liberdade Já (Freedom Now). On the same day, the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) will celebrate 40 years in power. Angolans have only known two kinds of rule: Portuguese colonialism and the authoritarian regime of MPLA. During those years, the MPLA has chosen to perpetuate the worst practices of the very regime it claims to have replaced – the Portuguese colonial state. Economic extraction, the central objective of the colonial state, has become the means for the Angolan elite to assimilate into the Portuguese elite. The prime example is the president himself. His first born, billionaire Isabel dos Santos, is a major investor in Portugal.  The Guardian

El Nino and Hunger in Africa
One of the most important global stories going into the New Year will be the effect of El Nino on food supplies in the Horn of Africa and in Southern Africa. So far, this looming threat has not garnered too much media attention.  But among aid professionals, there is deep concern that El Nino may usher food scarcity, widespread starvation, and perhaps even famine. The El Nino weather phenomenon manifests itself in different ways in different parts of the world. But in some regions of Africa, it is expected to have a devastating effect on food security. Ethiopia is currently experiencing its worst drought in thirty years; and just yesterday USAID released $90 million in food aid for the country. In Somalia, previous el Ninos have cause destructive flooding, wiping out crops and cutting off entire regions from aid convoys.  UN Dispatch

Britain Pledging £200m In Aid Money To Africa
The UK is pledging £200m in aid money to Africa over the next four years, the Government has confirmed. Meanwhile, £2.1m will be contributed to a European Commission trust fund worth £1.27bn, which is designed to help African nations do more to help the refugee and migrant crisis. More than 50 leaders, including representatives from Africa and the EU, have gathered in Malta to try to find a solution to the crisis. In return for taking back people classified as economic migrants rather than refugees, Europe will provide more money to help solve conflicts and poverty. Countries where many of the refugees and migrants originate, such as Eritrea, Niger, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan, will also be represented.  Sky News

Kenya Army Involved in Sugar Smuggling Racket: Report
Kenya’s army is involved in a $400-million sugar smuggling racket in Somalia that also funds the Al-Qaeda militants it is supposed to be fighting, a report alleged Thursday. Far from fighting the Shebab, Al-Qaeda’s East Africa affiliate, the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) are, “in garrison mode, sitting in bases while senior commanders are engaged in corrupt business practices,” said the investigation by Nairobi’s Journalists for Justice rights group. The report is based on months of research conducted in Somalia and Kenya, including interviews with serving Kenyan officers, United Nations officials, Western intelligence sources, sugar traders, porters and drivers. The report also accused Kenyan troops of “widespread” human rights abuses — including rape, torture and abduction — and conducting air strikes “targeting crowds of people and animals” rather than the militant training camps it claims to bomb. AFP on Yahoo News

The Bizarre Scheme to Transform a Remote Island into the New Dubai
On October 8, 2008, a group of government officials from the Comoro Islands made their way from their villages to a small airport not far from the nation’s capital, where, on a runway overlooking the Indian Ocean, a private plane stood waiting to fly them to Kuwait. […] The reason for the officials’ trip to Kuwait was economic: their country was completely broke, and had been that way for as long as they could remember. The Comoro Islands, which lie in the Indian Ocean about 200 miles off the east coast of Africa, is one of the poorest nations in the world; the last time a poverty survey was conducted, in 2004, about half of its 800,000 citizens were living on less than $1.25 per day. Earlier that year, the Comorian government had received a proposal from some visiting Arab businessmen. What if the Comoros started to sell their citizenship to raise funds? There was a great demand for passports in the Middle East, the men explained; for starters, wealthy individuals saw a second or third nationality as a shortcut to make travelling and doing business abroad easier. Some Gulf countries were also figuring out what to do with large groups of Bidoon, or stateless people residing within their borders. The Guardian

US, China Agree on Vision for African Development
U.S. officials say their government and China’s both want peace and development for African nations, and are working together on the continent. The statement marks a change in tone for the United States, which has suggested previously that China is exploiting Africa for its natural resources. For years, the U.S. and China have played tug-of-war for influence in Africa. By most measures, China has come out on top, thanks in part to heavy investment across the continent and trade that topped $220 billion last year, three times greater than Africa’s trade with the U.S. But as both superpowers continue to ramp up their investment and diplomatic efforts, the two are happy to coexist, says Susan Thornton, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. VOA



Photo: Adam Jones