Media Review for November 25, 2015

Apparent Suicide Attack on Tunisian Presidential Guard Bus Kills 12
A bomb exploded on a bus packed with Tunisian presidential guards in the capital Tunis on Tuesday, killing at least 12 people in an attack one source said was probably the work of a suicide bomber. Ambulances rushed wounded from the scene and security forces closed off streets around Mohamed V Avenue, one of the main streets in Tunis, before the president declared a curfew in the city and imposed a state of emergency nationwide. It was the third major attack in Tunisia this year, after an Islamist militant killed 38 foreigners at a beach hotel in the resort of Sousse in June, and gunmen killed 21 tourists at the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March. Islamic State claimed both those attacks. Reuters

Tunisian President Declares State of Emergency after Bus Bombing
Tunisia’s president has declared a state of emergency throughout the country and a curfew in the capital after an attack on a bus carrying his presidential guard killed at least 12 people. Beji Caid Essebsi, who was not on the bus when it was hit by an explosion on Tuesday in the centre of Tunis, said in a televised address the country was at war against terrorism and called for international cooperation against extremists who have staged several attacks across the world in recent weeks. “I want to reassure the Tunisian people that we will vanquish terrorism,” he added. The bomb exploded shortly before 5pm on Avenue Mohamed V, near the 7 November clock tower, a city landmark. The Guardian

Want to Beat the Islamic State? Help Tunisia
[…] Despite long odds, Tunisia (pop. 11 million) has emerged as the Arab Spring’s lone success story. Tunisians have stuck to their hard-won democratic institutions despite considerable political and economic turmoil. The Islamist Ennahdha Party has played a crucial part in this success by demonstrating its willingness to share power with its ideological opponents and allowing genuine political competition. The Nobel Committee’s decision to bestow its latest Peace Prize on four groups with prominent roles in the country’s democratic transition has lent international recognition to the Tunisians’ achievement. If Tunisia can maintain and expand its democratic institutions, it will send a vital message to the rest of the Middle East and North Africa. It will show that Arabs and democracy don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It will show religious Muslims that they have nothing to fear from the separation of religion and state. And it will show liberals that they don’t have to tolerate corrupt dictators as their only protection against religious dictatorships. A prosperous and vibrant Tunisian democracy is our best counter-argument to jihadist dictatorship.  Foreign Policy

Islamic Militants Hit Hotel in Egypt’s Sinai, Killing 7
A brazen militant attack involving a suicide car bombing and claimed by the Islamic State group targeted a hotel in Egypt’s restive northern Sinai region on Tuesday, killing seven people, including two judges, the state MENA news agency said. The attack on the Swiss Inn hotel in the coastal city of El-Arish was the latest violence convulsing the troubled peninsula, where Egyptian troops are struggling to put down an Islamic insurgency. The attack was quickly claimed by the Islamic State’s affiliate based in Sinai. The assault came a day after Egypt held the second round of parliamentary elections. Judges who supervised the vote in Sinai were staying in the heavily guarded hotel.  AP on Yahoo News

Armed Vigilantes in Burundi’s Capital Expose Deepening Crisis
As darkness falls, vigilantes armed with automatic rifles emerge to patrol the streets of Bujumbura, a city plagued by killings and violence as Burundi’s crisis deepens. For months, the trill of cicadas in the tropical night has been interrupted by sporadic gunfire and explosions across the capital, centre of the turmoil sparked by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s bid for a third term in office. Thousands initially protested against the president and opposed his re-election in a disputed July vote. Now some have formed vigilante units, coming out at night in tracksuits and jeans, clutching AK-47 rifles as they patrol. “If the police shoot at us, then, yes, we will fight back,” the leader of one group, giving his name only as Fred, told this Reuters photographer, who followed his unit last week. “All hotspot neighbourhoods are protecting themselves in this manner.” Residents and vigilantes in other districts confirmed this. Reuters

EAC Lawmakers Appeal to Burundi on Peace
The East African Legislative Assembly Monday called on the Burundian government and citizens to do all it takes to restore peace and calm in the country. Speaker Daniel Kidega said the Assembly regrets the current deteriorating situation in the country that has led to loss of lives and damage of property. Burundi drifted into political violence since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid for a third term in office. About 200,000 Burundians have taken refuge in neighboring countries because of the violence and a spiralling crisis. “We must prevent a situation that would see the country further degenerate and slide into anarchy,” said Speaker Kidega. Xinhua

Kenya’s President Names New Cabinet
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta Tuesday night announced a new government structure, increasing the number of ministries and departments. The changes came following claims of mass corruption in the government that saw six Cabinet Secretaries step aside. None of the six, Ms Charity Ngilu, Ms Anne Waiguru, Mr Kazungu Kambi, Mr Felix Koskei, Mr Michael Kamau and Mr Davis Chirchir, was retained. The ministries were increased from 19 to 20, while state departments rose to 41 from 26. President Kenyatta’s address was relayed live on national television. The appointees will be vetted by the National Assembly before taking up their respective roles. The East African

Puzzling Ebola Death Shows How Little We Know About The Virus
“The reality is this outbreak’s not over,” says Dr. William Fischer, speaking about Ebola. “It’s just changed.” Fischer, a professor at the University of North Carolina who’s been studying Ebola survivors, was speaking about the new cases in Liberia. On Monday, a 15-year-old died of the disease. The teenager’s father and brother have also tested positive for Ebola. Health authorities have not yet determined how the family was infected. Liberian health officials say the 15-year-old boy visited several clinics in Monrovia last week before finally being directed to an Ebola treatment unit. The more than two dozen health care workers who came into contact with him are among the nearly 160 people now being monitored for signs of Ebola.  NPR

Germany to Send up to 650 Soldiers to Mali for Peacekeeping Mission
Germany is ready to send up to 650 soldiers to Mali to bolster the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the West African country and to help France in the region, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. “We will shortly ask parliament to approve a mandate of up to 650 soldiers,” von der Leyen said after a meeting of the Bundestag lower house of parliament’s defense committee. She added that Germany also planned to increase the number of soldiers training Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq to up to 150 from 100. Reuters

Pope Urged to Press Human Rights Issues in Africa
Pope Francis begins his first official visit to Africa Wednesday, with stops planned in Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic — a trip that human rights advocates hope he will use to press for expanded political rights, religious tolerance, and respect for minorities. The pope makes his first stop in Kenya Wednesday, where he will visit the slum of Kangemi, in keeping with his advocacy for the poor. He is also expected to highlight the effects of climate change, having previously said the underprivileged are disproportionately affected by changes in weather patterns. And he will meet with leaders of different faiths, in an effort to address Kenya’s history of violence between religious groups. Human Rights Watch has sent a letter to the pope outlining a list of concerns the group hopes he will address during his African visit. It called for the pope to address human rights violations in all three of his destinations.  VOA

Will the Pope Challenge Homophobia in Uganda?
Pope Francis embarks this week on an Africa tour that will take him to the Central African Republic, Kenya and Uganda. Gay rights activists say they hope the pope brings a message of tolerance. In Uganda, Catholics make up nearly half of the Christian population and hold considerable sway within a number of communities. The pope’s upcoming trip to the country, where same-sex acts are illegal, has many wondering if he will address the issue of widespread and sometimes violent homophobia. The pope, once commenting as part of a response to reports of gay clergy members in the Vatican, said that if a person is gay and searches for the Lord in goodwill, who is he to judge. Joanne Banura, a devout Catholic, says she approves of the pope’s stance. VOA

In Africa, Pope Francis Will Find Religious Vibrancy and Violence
Pope Francis later this week makes his first apostolic trip to sub-Saharan Africa – a part of the world where the number of Muslims and Christians is projected to increase dramatically over the next 35 years. It also is a region where the tension and distrust between these two religious groups has been rising. Not surprisingly, the three countries on the pope’s itinerary all have sizable Catholic populations. Catholics in Uganda numbered 14 million as of 2010, making up 42% of the population, while Catholics made up 22% of the population in Kenya (9 million) and 29% in the Central African Republic (1.3 million), according to a Pew Research Center report on Global Christianity. All in all, more than 170 million or about one-in-five (21%) of sub-Saharan Africa’s inhabitants were Catholic in 2010. Pew Research Center

How Pope Francis’ Trip Retraces the First Papal Visit to Africa
The crowd at the Entebbe airport had been waiting for hours, but spirits were high — drummers, singers and dancers milled about while the Police Band prepared to perform the Ugandan National Anthem. The Ugandan President was on hand to greet the celebrated guest, along with four other heads of African states. Then Paul VI touched down on the tarmac, and on July 31, 1969, became the first reigning Pope to ever visit Africa. “Roman Catholics number about 3,000,000 in Uganda—one of Africa’s most Christianized countries,” TIME reported in the next issue, “But during the visit of Pope Paul VI last week, it seemed as if all of its 9,000,000 citizens had become instant Romans.” On Wednesday, Pope Francis will travel to Africa for his first papal visit to that continent. The visit comes nearly half a century after Paul’s, but Francis’ route in Uganda will retrace some of his predecessor’s steps. Time

Sudanese Army to Raise the State of Alert in War Areas
The Sudanese army has pledged to raise the state of preparedness in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile saying it would actively seek to recapture the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) stronghold of Kauda. Sudan’s defence minister Awad Ibn Ouf said the army would continue to deploy troops across the country to promote border protection, pointing they mainly aim to protect the eastern, southern and northern borders in order to preserve people’s lives and property. Ibn Ouf, who laid out his ministry’s 2016 plan before the parliament Tuesday, added those objectives would be carried out in close and continued coordination with the ministries of interior and foreign affairs and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Sudan Tribune

U.N. Urges Deployment of More Peacekeepers to South Sudan
South Sudan is at risk of sinking into a cycle of revenge killings on a large scale, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as he recommended an extra 1,100 peacekeepers be deployed to the world’s youngest nation. In a Nov. 20 report to the U.N. Security Council on the world body’s peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, seen by Reuters on Monday, Ban questioned the commitment by the warring parties to a peace deal signed in August. “Breaches of the ceasefire agreement and the failure of the parties to meet the initial deadlines articulated for the preparatory phase of the peace agreement’s implementation, call into question their commitment to the peace process,” Ban wrote. He said deep divisions among communities in South Sudan, which gained its independence from Sudan in 2011, combined with the high levels of brutality throughout the violent conflict, “could lead to a pattern of revenge killings.” Reuters

The Gambia Bans Female Genital Mutilation
The Gambia has announced it will ban female genital mutilation (FGM) after the Guardian launched a global campaign to end the practice. The president, Yahya Jammeh, said last night that the controversial surgical intervention would be outlawed. He said the ban would come into effect immediately, though it was not clear when the government would draft legislation to enforce it. FGM involves cutting female genitalia – often when girls are young – to remove their labia and clitoris, which often leads to lifelong health complications, including bleeding, infections, vaginal pain and infertility. More than 130 million women worldwide are subjected to the procedure in Africa and the Middle East. The Guardian

Rival Libyan Tribes Sign Peace Deal in Qatar: StateMedia
Two rival Libyan tribes, the Tuareg and Toubou, have signed a cease-fire deal in Doha to end months of fighting, Qatar state media has reported. The deal, signed on Monday, not only seeks to end 14 months of fighting in the southwestern Libyan city of Ubari but also help thousands of displaced people return to their homes. The agreement was signed by heads of delegations of both tribes in the presence of a Qatari assistant foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani, reported the Qatar News Agency (QNA). “A permanent cease-fire is part of the agreement that also stipulates the return of the displaced people of Ubari to their homes, opening the public road to Ubari and ending all armed manifestations in the town,” said the QNA. AFP on China Post

Burkina Faso Set for an Electoral Uprising?
On Sunday, 29 November, around 5.5 million people are expected at the polls in Burkina Faso to elect the next president and the 127 members of Parliament. These elections, the first after the ousting of former president Blaise Compaoré, will see 14 presidential candidates and 6 944 Parliamentary candidates vie for top spots in the country’s leadership. The current mind-set among most Burkinabes is a mixture of hope and anxiety. The electoral process, which was interrupted following the attempted coup d’état of 16 September 2015, was meant to end with elections initially scheduled for 11 October. Although some voters seem to have lost faith in the power of the ballot as a means to express and realise their expectations, many remain hopeful that these elections could mark the beginning of long-awaited change. The polls will certainly be a test for the country’s democratic maturity. ISS

Boko Haram Cannot be Beaten with Guns Alone – Nigeria’s Corrupt Education System Needs to Change
Nigeria’s Borno State is in turmoil, plagued by a raging insurgency that has cost dozens of lives in recent weeks alone and seen farmland and property worth millions of naira destroyed. It is also strained by a huge influx of refugees from elsewhere in the country as Boko Haram continues its murderous rampage. As a result of the massive level of illiteracy in Borno, uneducated youths have been brainwashed into joining the insurgency. Their parents reject so-called Western education – known as Boko – as un-Islamic, and every year less and less young people enrol in school, which is seen as a tool of the colonial West. It does not help that many of the oldest schools in Borno were established in the colonial era, among them Yerwa Central Primary School, which was opened in 1915, just one year after Nigeria was created by fusing together a number of previously rival states into a colony administered by Britain.  International Business Times

Nigeria’s Unconventional Tools Make Policy Hard to Predict
Nigeria’s central bank is confounding analysts with unconventional economic policies that are becoming difficult to predict. While African central banks from Ghana to South Africa tighten monetary policy to protect their economies from plunging currencies, speculation is growing that Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele will reduce the benchmark rate on Tuesday for the first time in six years. Seven of the 19 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict the rate will be cut by 50 basis points to 100 basis points, while the rest forecast it will stay at 13 percent. “People are divided because they are starting to believe that decisions are being made devoid of any economic rationale,” Bismarck Rewane, chief executive officer of the Financial Derivatives Co., said by phone from the commercial capital, Lagos. “Some of the decisions being made now are made with political rationale.”  Bloomberg

Africa: How the New Peace and Violence Development Goals Can Be Met
For the first time, issues of violence and peace are part of a global development framework. The recently launched Sustainable Development Goals aim to “significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths everywhere”. While admirable in its intent and ambition, is this possible? And, if so, how? Earlier global agreements, notably the Millennium Development Goals, did not consider issues of conflict and violence. Critics point to the omission as one reason areas affected by conflict and violence lagged so far behind peaceful and stable countries on achieving the goals. Human development indicators are often far worse in conflict areas. On top of this delivering development is made more difficult by continuing violent insecurity, politicised divisions and militarisation. Unsurprisingly, people in these areas see reducing levels of violence and conflict as the most important way in which their lives could be improved. The Conversation on allAfrica

World Bank Sets $16 Billion Plan for African Climate Campaign; Targets Land, Water, and Cities
The World Bank announced a $16 billion plan to help African communities adapt to climate change, which poses threats ranging from food-price increases to more frequent droughts and the rising risk of malaria. The African Climate Business Plan outlines steps for safeguarding land, water, cities and humans from adverse climate change effects such as extreme weather. It also aims to build more renewable energy and early warning systems. The proposals will be presented at the 21st United Nations Conference on Climate Change, or COP21, in Paris from Nov. 30. The Washington-based development bank warned that climate change could lead to 43 million more Africans living in poverty by 2030 unless action is taken.  The Mail and Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones