Media Review for November 2, 2015

Sinai Plane Crash: Russian Airliner ‘Broke Up in Mid-Air’
A Russian airliner which crashed in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 people on board, broke up in mid-air, a Russian official says. Victor Sorochenko, the head of Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee, said it was too early to conclude what caused the crash on Saturday. He told reporters debris was found across a 20sq km-wide area of Sinai. So far 163 bodies have been found. Russia observed a day of mourning on Sunday after its worst air disaster. Mr Sorochenko spoke after visiting the site of the debris, near the village of Hasana. The head of Russia’s Air Transport Agency, Aleksandr Neradko, said that “all signs attest to the fact that the aircraft disintegrated in the air at a high altitude”. Jihadists allied to so-called Islamic State in Sinai, where such groups are active, had made a claim on social media that they had brought down flight KGL9268.  BBC
Most Gulf Carriers Re-Route Flights over Sinai after Russian Crash
Most Gulf airlines said on Sunday they were re-routing flights to avoid Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where a Russian aircraft carrying 224 passengers crashed on Saturday. Carriers from United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait said they would re-route flights as a security precaution until there was more clarity. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said it would continue to fly over Sinai but avoid certain areas on the advice of Egyptian authorities. Air traffic in the region has been on alert since a militant group linked to Islamic State in Egypt said it had brought down the plane “in response to Russian air strikes that killed hundreds of Muslims on Syrian land”.  Reuters on Yahoo News
Russian Plane Crash: Tragedy Strikes Egypt’s Tourist Trade after Airbus A321 Crashes in Sinai
[…] Professional accident investigators from Egypt, Russia, Europe and the US will, in time, establish what caused an Airbus A321 to fall out of clear skies on a routine charter flight. It may well be that the fatal sequence of events has nothing to do with the country where the journey began. But the tragedy has brought renewed attention to the risks that prevail in a country that is so dependent on tourism. It draws attention to the insurgency that has been going on for years between Islamists and the Egyptian army.  In North Sinai, where the plane crashed, the Foreign Office advises against all travel to the area and warns of “regular bomb attacks against government buildings, security forces and energy infrastructure”. “The al-Arish area has seen many attacks, but the whole of the North Sinai region is at risk,” it says. The Independent
Al-Shabab Assault Targets Senior Somali Officials
At least 15 people have been killed and dozens more wounded in an attack on a hotel in the centre of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, witnesses tell Al Jazeera. A car bomb exploded at the main gate of the Sahafi Hotel early on Sunday morning, with attackers then storming the hotel as they exchanged gunfire with security guards. A suicide bomber detonated a second set of explosives inside the hotel. Somali troops and African Union forces were deployed to the scene and took control of the situation,. Lieutenant Colonel Paul Njuguna, the spokesperson for the AU Mission in Somalia, told Al Jazeera.  The al-Shabab armed group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.  Al Jazeera Obama Removes Burundi from Trade Program
U.S. President Barack Obama says he plans to remove Burundi from a U.S. trade preference program because of a worsening crackdown on the political opposition there, after Burundi’s president took a controversial third term in office. In a letter to Congress Friday, Obama said the violence against Burundi’s opposition includes “assassinations, extra-judicial killings, arbitrary arrests and torture.” The measure to drop Burundi from the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will take effect on January 1. AGOA allows eligible African countries to import certain products without paying any duties, helping the countries to boost exports. Obama said the violence in Burundi “worsened significantly during the election campaign that returned President [Pierre] Nkurunziza to power earlier this year.” VOATwo Bomb Blasts on Tanzania’s Zanzibar after Disputed Vote, no Injuries
Two bombs exploded minutes apart in the main city on Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago on Saturday without causing casualties, police and witnesses said, adding to tensions on the islands after a disputed election. Tanzania held national elections on Sunday, which included a vote for local authorities in Zanzibar, traditionally a bastion of opposition to the central government. But Zanzibar’s election commission annulled the vote for the island’s president, citing “gross violations”. The opposition rejected the move, saying it had won that poll. Police arrests several angry youths after the decision. “Two bombs went off this morning within a space of 10 minutes from each other. No one was killed or injured,” a Zanzibar police commander, Mkadam Khamis Mkadam, told Reuters, adding it was in a residential area of Zanzibar City, which lies on the main island of the archipelago.  Reuters

Magufuli Must Embrace Reform to Save CCM
Having won a very competitive election with the lowest margin by a candidate of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), it may be tempting for Tanzania’s president-elect, Dr John Pombe Magufuli to stonewall on electoral and political reforms that would weaken the party and the presidency. Yet the fractious nature of the election, on the mainland where main challenger Edward Lowassa has rejected the outcome and announced himself winner, and in Zanzibar where the results were annulled after the opposition claimed a first-ever win, are proof that Dr Magufuli will have to reform more, not less, to keep CCM in power. Many who voted for Dr Magufuli did so for the man, not the party. Others, like Sulaya Kigaila, a first-time voter in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, did so grudgingly. “I really wanted change because I think CCM is tired but I ended up voting for Dr Magufuli,” she said. “The opposition spent years telling us Mr Lowassa was corrupt yet they took only a week to choose him as their candidate. I did not trust them.”  The East African

Pope Hints Central African Republic Visit Could be Cancelled
Pope Francis indicated on Sunday that his planned visit to the Central African Republic this month could be cancelled if violence between Christians and Muslims there worsens. Speaking to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square, he called for an end to the “cycle of violence” in the country he is scheduled to visit Nov. 28-29 as part of a trip that will also take him to Kenya and Uganda. Francis spoke of the “trip I hope to be able to make to that nation”. He has previously simply said he would go. A senior Vatican source said the phrasing was chosen because of the violence in the capital Bangui, where the pope is scheduled to visit a mosque in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods. “If the situation worsens, he will not be able to go and he is aware of that,” the source said.  Reuters

Sudan Arrests Three Opposition Figures
Sudanese security agents arrested three opposition figures in Khartoum on Wednesday, their party said, despite efforts by the government to persuade opponents to join national dialogue talks. “The armed force of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested three members of the Sudanese Congress Party,” the party said in a statement. The group had been detained in the Mayo suburb of Khartoum by police on Tuesday for delivering speeches criticizing the government in public, the statement said. NISS officers arrived at the station in Mayo the day after and took them to an unknown location, the Sudanese Congress said.  Al Arabiya

Sudan Hands Over Boko Haram Suspect to Nigeria: Interpol
The director of the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) bureau in Khartoum Col. Muatasim Abdel-Rahman al-Kagan disclosed that Sudan has extradited a member of the Islamist rebel group Boko Haram to Nigeria. Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche was arrested in May 2014 in Khartoum. He was fingered as the mastermind of the 14 April 2014 bomb blast in Nyanya, Abuja which killed at least 75 people and injured 200 others,. The Sudanese government had previously said there are 17 conditions to be met before handing over the suspect to Nigeria including amending the bilateral agreement on extradition of criminals. Sudan Tribune

Lake Chad Clashes Leave 14 Boko Haram Members Dead
The Chadian government said on Sunday that soldiers repelled two attacks by Boko Haram on army posts around Lake Chad, leaving 14 militants dead. “Two members of Boko Haram were neutralised and a third blew himself up, wounding 11 civilians” during an attempted suicide attack on the Bougouma army post, the government said in a statement, referring to the Nigerian jihadist group. Soldiers killed 11 Boko Haram members during a second attempted attack on the Kaika army post, also in the Lake Chad region, the statement said. It said the situation had been brought “under control” without elaborating. VOA

Nigeria Crackdown on Fake Bank Accounts
Nigeria has launched a major crackdown on fake bank-account holders in a bid to reduce fraud in the banking sector. People were asked to enrol at their local banks to have their fingerprints taken, along with a photograph of their face by the end of Friday. Nigeria’s central bank said non-registered customers would lose electronic access to their accounts. Huge sums are allegedly stolen from Nigerian banks as a result of forgery and illegal withdrawals.  BBC

Benghazi Government Accuses Italian Warships of Violating Libyan Territorial Waters
The Benghazi-based officials vowed to use “all means” to protect the country’s sovereignty, in a statement issued on Sunday. Libyan naval forces say they spotted the three Italian vessels near the east coast of the North African country. “The warships kept on until they approached the shores of Deryana town in east of Benghazi,” the authorities said. “The government strongly condemns this violation.” Italy, the former colonial power in Libya, denied the accusation. “All of Italy’s military ships present in the Mediterranean operate in international waters and respect the limits established by treaty,” the country’s defense ministry stated on Sunday.  Deutsche Welle

South Sudan’s New Rebel Group Unveil Demands to end Hostilities
The leader South Sudan’s new rebel group said his forces would lay down weapons and accept negotiations if president Salva Kiir and his government cancelled the establishment order expanding the current 10 states to 28, despite signing a peace deal to end over 20 months of conflict with the armed opposition. “The desire of the people of South Sudan is peace but the desire of the president and his group is totally different. They are preaching war instead of peace and their actions speak much about their intentions. He [ Kiir] has the lost control over the current situation,” General Yoanes Okij said Sunday. Sudan Tribune

Constitutional Court Validates Conde’s Re-Election in Guinea
Guinea’s constitutional court on Saturday validated President Alpha Conde’s victory in an October 11 election that handed him a second five-year term with a clear majority. The election’s results were announced October 17, but the nine-member court had to weigh complaints from opposition candidates before certifying them. “The Constitutional Court declares Mr. Alpha Conde … with 57.84 percent, elected president of the republic,” the body’s president, Kelefa Sall, said. The court judged complaints lodged by opposition candidates Faya Lansana Millimono, Papa Koly Kourouma and Lansana Kouyate to have been unfounded. VOA

As US-Egypt Tensions Thaw, M1A1 Abrams Tank Co-Production to Resume
The United States and Egyptian governments will soon resume the co-production of M1A1 Abrams tanks, weapon systems and accessories after signing a deal that formalized the collaboration between the Egyptian Tank Plant and US defense equipment manufacturer General Dynamics Land Systems. The production is partly meant to fulfill a 2011 Egyptian order of 125 M1A1 Abrams tanks from General Dynamics, delivery of which was halted in July 2013 when the US government froze military aid to protest the military coup that toppled Mohammed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president. The bulk of the tank order will be produced locally at Egyptian Tank Plant 200, a military industrial complex located in the city of Helwan just outside the capital of Cairo. DefenseNews

DRC Government Spokesman Denies Election Delay Report
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s information minister is denying a report that one of his colleagues said DRC elections, slated for next year, will have to be delayed up to four years. Saturday, the Reuters news agency quoted ruling coalition spokesman Andre Alain Atundu as saying a national census would need to be carried out and voter rolls revised to ensure the credibility of a vote, so people need to allow two to four years for elections to be organized. But in a text message Sunday, Information Minister Lambert Mende told VOA the report was false. He asked where and when Atundu had made this statement. He suggested it had been circulated by pranksters on social media.   A Reuters reporter told VOA he had been present with a number of other journalists when Atundu made the statement.  VOA

Zimbabwe: Military Panicks Over Economic Implosion
The military — the pillar of President Robert Mugabe’s rule — is reportedly panicking over the country’s dipping economy, which it fears is now the biggest threat to the ruling party’s continued grip on power as Zimbabwe sinks deeper into recession amid company closures and retrenchments. In separate private briefings this week, army chiefs told Zimbabwe Independent that the power cuts, which have seen most suburbs in Zimbabwe going for more than 18 hours without electricity, have exacerbated an already dire situation. Contrary to President Robert Mugabe’s assertion that the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T is the greatest threat to the country’s stability, accusing it of being a Western-sponsored front bent on effecting illegal regime change or worries about former vice-president Mujuru’s mobilisation against government, security chiefs say it is the economy which is Zanu PF’s main threat. The Zimbabwe Independent on allAfrica

Madagascar: the Country that’s Poor But not Poor Enough for Aid
She had never heard of Facebook, so when shocking photos of her emaciated children and grandchildren were posted there, Njomasy could little guess the ripples of anger they would send all the way to the president. The family’s plight brought rare public attention to the “silent killer” of child malnutrition. Nearly 1.9 million people in southern Madagascar do not have a secure food supply with 450,000 facing severe shortages, according to government and UN figures published recently.. This follows three successive poor harvests hit by drought. One of the worst affected areas is the Ambovombe district, where few places feel as remote, dry, hot and dustblown as the village of Satrie. There Njomasy and her husband, Lahie – they are known by single names and uncertain of their ages – are among 12 people crammed into a small house fashioned from tree branches and dry grass. The Guardian

Israel’s Chilly Reception for African Asylum Seekers
[…] Israel’s policy toward African asylum seekers is to pressure them to self-deport or, as the former interior minister Eli Yishai put it, to “make their lives miserable” until they give up and let the government deport them. About 60,000 African asylum seekers have entered Israel since 2005, most of them Muslims from the Darfur region of Sudan, and Orthodox Christians from Eritrea; today that number is closer to 45,000. The government and some media call them “infiltrators,” a word that for most Israelis evokes Palestinians illegally crossing into Israel to launch attacks, painting them as a threat. A law passed in 2013 requires male African asylum seekers already in Israel to be detained automatically and indefinitely in the open detention center, Holot, in the Negev desert. Detainees are allowed to wander the desert between three obligatory check-ins every day, and they must also remain in Holot overnight. If they miss a check-in, they can be transferred to the nearby prison. Their only alternative is to accept a sum of $3,500 to return to their country of origin, or a third country, usually Uganda or Rwanda, often without proper documentation to stay.  The New York Times

India’s Rising Power in Africa
In an attempt to boost trade and investment opportunities abroad, India has welcomed heads of state, policymakers, and businessmen from every country in Africa, marking the largest ever India-Africa summit. Leaders from some 54 nations descended on New Delhi this week for a summit aimed at ushering in a ‘partnership of prosperity’ for Africa and Africans. In contrast to the economic powerhouse China, which has been accused of exploiting the continent’s vast mineral and energy resources, India positioned itself as a fairer partner to a continent tipped as the global economic growth engine of the coming decades. With an estimated population of 1.1 billion, Africa’s total GDP is worth over $2.8tn and has been growing at over 5 percent every year. And with India’s trade with the continent worth $71bn a year, it believes Africa will help its economy grow faster and is targeting around $90bn by the end of 2015. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones