Media Review for November 9, 2015

Burundi: A Critical Juncture
The crisis in Burundi, ongoing since the April 25 announcement by President Pierre Nkurunziza to seek a third term in office, is entering into a dangerous phase. In a speech on November 3, Burundian Senate President Reverien Ndikuriyo incited ethnically-based violence: “You tell those who want to execute the mission: on this issue, you have to pulverize, you have to exterminate – these people are only good for dying. I give you this order, go!” Such language harkens back to Burundi’s divisive 1993–2005 civil war in which 300,000 were killed. Independent media reports have subsequently reported large population movements in areas of southern Burundi home to the ethnic minority Tutsi population. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Burundi Attack Kills Nine Amid Fears of Harsh Crackdown
Gunmen killed at least nine people in Burundi’s capital hours before police launched house-to-house searches for weapons, amid international fears of fresh bloodletting in the central African nation. The mayor said seven people were killed in an “execution” attack on a bar in Bujumbura on Saturday night, adding that a probe had been launched to track the “assassins.” Two others later died of their wounds. Witnesses said attackers stormed into the bar, forcing those drinking outside to enter and lie on the ground before opening fire. Meanwhile, hundreds of police and soldiers ringed the opposition flashpoint Mutakura district of Bujumbura early on Sunday to start a widely feared crackdown on “enemies of the nation.” City mayor Freddy Mbonimpa said police were searching for “hidden weapons,” insisting the raids were being “done professionally, because the police are using weapon detectors.”  Al Jazeera

Burundians Flee Capital over Fears of Security Crackdown
Gunmen have shot dead at least nine people in an attack on a bar in Bujumbura as a feared government security crackdown, that has caused scores of people to flee the Burundi capital, got under way. Witnesses said the gunmen stormed into the bar — located in a mainly opposition neighbourhood — forcing those drinking to go outside and lie in the street before opening fire. Venant Rwakiranya, who lives near the bar and saw the bodies, said Sunday that the bar’s owner, his nephew and one of his employees were among the victims. The killings in the city’s southern Kanyosha district took place late on Saturday, hours ahead of a deadline for civilians to hand over weapons, as the government urged security forces to use all means necessary to stamp out resistance to the president. France 24

Burundi Begins House-to-House Searches Amid Fear of Massacre
Police have started house-to-house searches for weapons in opposition areas of the capital, Bujumbura, on Sunday as the deadline set by Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza for “criminals” to hand over firearms or be treated as enemies of the state expired. Hundreds of police and soldiers were deployed to the opposition district Mutakura, where many residents have fled amid concern of a crackdown on “enemies of the nation.” Burundi has succumbed to violence ever since Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term, which he secured in July in what the opposition said was a violation of the constitution. Nkurunziza’s re-election triggered protests, and in May there was a failed coup attempt. At least 200 people have been killed since April, with bodies found dumped on the streets almost daily. More than 200,000 people have fled the country. In the latest spell of violence, an unknown gunman killed nine people at a bar in the capital on Saturday night. Deutsche Welle

Rwanda’s Paul Kagame Accuses Burundi Leaders of ‘Massacres’
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has accused Burundi’s leaders of carrying out “massacres” on their people in his most critical speech yet of the crisis in the troubled neighbouring state. “People die every day, corpses litter the streets… How can the leaders allow their population to be massacred from morning to night?” Kagame said, speaking in Kinyarwanda on Friday, in a speech heard by AFP on Sunday. Relations between Rwanda and Burundi are tense, with Bujumbura accusing Kigali of backing those who oppose President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial third term. Kagame, speaking in Kigali during an awards ceremony, gave the speech before the end of a Burundi government deadline for civilians to surrender weapons, which has prompted international fears it will trigger further violence.  Daily Monitor

West Fears Burundi Is on Brink of Conflict
Western diplomats and analysts who pay close attention to sub-Saharan Africa are worried that Burundi is on the brink of a major conflict and could explode in violence when a deadline for opposition groups to disarm expires Saturday.  Scores of people have been killed this year in Burundi, a small, poor, hilly country in central Africa, since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a third time despite protests that he was violating term limits. He won in a turbulent election in July, and this week he issued an ultimatum to opposition members to lay down their weapons. Addressing the nation on Monday, Mr. Nkurunziza said anyone who did not comply by Saturday would “be considered to be enemies of Burundi and will be treated as terrorists,” according to a transcript provided by the United States State Department. “This is the last warning,” he said. The New York Times

Seven Killed in Clashes after Election Upset in Eastern Nigeria: Police
At least seven people were killed Sunday in clashes between supporters of rival political parties in Nigeria’s eastern Taraba state after a court nullified the election win of the state governor, police said. “Seven people were killed and 15 injured in fighting between supporters of PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) and APC (All Progressives Congress) in Wukari following the election tribunal verdict overturning the governorship election in favour of the APC,” Taraba state police spokesman Joseph Kwaji said. “Several homes and businesses were burnt in the violence which was brought under control by anti-riot policemen,” Kwaji said. Daily Mail

Kenya Readies 10,000 Police to Boost Security for Pope
Kenya said on Sunday it may deploy as many as 10,000 police officers to boost security during a visit by Pope Francis later this month, as the country readies for crowds of one million people. Islamist rebels have staged a string of attacks in Kenya, including an April massacre at Garissa university in which 148 people were killed, and a 2013 assault on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping mall that killed 67. “Security agencies continue to fine-tune plans to secure the city during a particularly busy period, and when we expect Nairobi’s population to swell by an additional one million people,” State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu said in a statement. AFP on Yahoo News

Investigators ‘90 Percent Sure’ Bomb Downed Russian Plane
Investigators of the Russian plane crash in Egypt are “90 percent sure” the noise heard in the final second of a cockpit recording was an explosion caused by a bomb, a member of the investigation team told Reuters on Sunday. The Airbus A321 crashed 23 minutes after taking off from the Sharm al-Sheikh tourist resort eight days ago, killing all 224 passengers and crew. Islamic State militants fighting Egyptian security forces in Sinai said they brought it down. “The indications and analysis so far of the sound on the black box indicate it was a bomb,” said the Egyptian investigation team member, who asked not to be named due to sensitivities. “We are 90 percent sure it was a bomb.” France 24

How Sinai Became a Magnet for Terror
Grey jeans, black trainers and a surface-to-air missile were all that could be seen of the man waiting under a tree for an Egyptian military helicopter to fly past in early January 2014. He fired and the aircraft tumbled to the ground, a moment captured on video by the group that would become Isis Sinai Province, and released in triumph soon after. The attack served notice to the Egyptian military and the rest of the world that Sinai’s Islamist insurgents had stepped up their ambitions and their capacities, drawing weapons and inspiration from the region’s other spiralling conflicts. If last week’s explosion on board a Russian Metrojet flight from Sharm el-Sheikh proves also to have been their work, those ambitions have reached a new level. Cairo has long struggled to control the sparsely populated expanses of the Sinai Peninsula, where Islamists have found refuge with smugglers, criminals and others keen to escape too much official scrutiny. But until little over a decade ago, it was a place militants went to hide, train and plot, not somewhere they carried out attacks. The Guardian

In Tunisia, a Mission of Justice and a Moment of Reckoning
For Sihem Bensedrine, it sometimes seems as though the Arab Spring revolution never happened. As the head of Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, she is in charge of guiding the country through a process of transitional justice for the crimes of past regimes, a sharp turnaround after nearly 60 years of dictatorship.  Yet Ms. Bensedrine, a journalist, independent publisher and longtime human rights campaigner, says she often finds herself struggling against the same mind-set that prevailed under the dictatorships of Habib Bourguiba and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The attacks from government officials, the news media and even her fellow commissioners are all part of a familiar strategy, she says, one intended to undermine her person and her office. The New York Times

Presidential Campaign Kicks off in Coup-Prone Burkina Faso
A presidential campaign starts Sunday in Burkina Faso, with the winner poised to re-establish democracy after the long rule of former soldier Blaise Compaore in a nation prone to coups. An attempted coup in September led by Compaore’s one-time presidential guard chief, General Gilbert Diendere, caused authorities to postpone presidential and legislative polls from October 11 until November 29. The coup was foiled by a popular uprising – much as street protests toppled Compaore himself at the end of October 2014, angry at his bid to change the constitution in order to extend his 27-year rule. Diendere has been charged by a military court on 11 counts, including a “crime against humanity”, after clashes that claimed 14 lives and left 251 wounded, according to transitional government figures. France 24

Gulf of Guinea Commerce Collides with Crime
The Gulf of Guinea finds itself at a critical moment in its history. The promise of economic growth and the danger of maritime crime are pushing the region in opposite directions. And like a ship beset by a storm, only the hands of skilled sailors can help the region navigate the rough waters. First, the good news: West Africa’s economies are booming, and the Gulf is an important part of that growth. It’s a major route for shipping oil all over the world. Container shipping traffic is up. The Gulf’s mild, predictable climate is ideal for commerce, fishing and docking. It offers a relatively short shipping lane between Africa and South America. And one of the Gulf countries, Nigeria, has the largest economy on the continent. DefenceWeb

Morocco King in Rare Visit to Disputed Western Sahara
Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has vowed that revenues from the mineral-rich Western Sahara will continue to be invested locally, on a rare visit to the disputed territory. He was speaking late Friday in the territory’s main city Laayoune, to mark 40 years since hundreds of thousands of Moroccan civilians marched across the border with the then Spanish colony to lay claim to it. The Green March triggered war with the Algerian-backed Polisario Front which had been campaigning for independence for the territory since 1973 and continues to do so to this day. King Mohammed, who arrived to much fanfare in the city for only his third visit since he succeeded to the throne in 1999, described the Green March as “a watershed moment in the process of completing the kingdom’s territorial integrity.” Al Arabiya

Niger President to Run for Re-election
Niger’s ruling party announced Saturday that President Mahamadou Issoufou will run for re-election next year. Issoufou, 63, was selected as his party’s presidential candidate “so that he can continue the work he started for the benefit of the people of Niger,” said Bazoum Mohamed, leader of the ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS). “President Issoufou’s record has been very satisfying,” he said at a ceremony marking the occasion which was attended by 5,000 people. Issoufou was first elected in 2011 in a vote organised by a military junta which in 2010 overthrew president Mamadou Tandja, who was seeking to stay in power beyond the two-term limit set by Niger’s constitution.  AFP on Yahoo News

Media Regulator in Benin Suspends Main Private Newspaper
The media regulator in the West African country of Benin has suspended the main private newspaper Le Matinal for allegedly insulting President Boni Yayi. The order by the high audiovisual and communications authority said the newspaper broke several sections of its code and stopped it from printing pending a hearing, the date of which has yet to be announced. “The publication of the daily Le Matinal is suspended until a hearing of its director and the author of the incriminating articles by the high audivisual and communications authority,” said a document seen by Reuters. The document referred to articles in which the government and president were cited. It was signed on Tuesday and the paper has not appeared since Wednesday. There was no immediate comment on Friday from the newspaper’s editor. The order has been criticised by other newspapers and by opposition politicians in a country that has a largely free press and is credited as a pioneer of multi-party democracy in Africa.  Reuters

Khartoum Bans Sudanese Opposition Leaders from Travelling to Paris

Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Sunday has prevented several opposition leaders from travelling to France and confiscated their passports. The secretary general of the opposition Alliance of National Forces (ANF) Farah Agar told Sudan Tribune that NISS prevented the political secretary of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) Mohamed Mukhtar al-Khatib, member of the SCP central committee, Tarig Abdel-Mageed and the chairman of the Unified National Unionist Party (UNUP) Gala al-Azhari from travelling to Paris and seized their passports. Agar pointed the opposition leaders were seeking to participate in the meeting of the “Sudan Call” forces which will discuss the agenda for the dialogue preparatory meeting scheduled to be held under the auspices of African Union in Addis Ababa later this month.  Sudan Tribune

Have UN-led Talks in Libya Been Compromised?
For the past year and a half, rival militias loyal to rival governments in Libya, have been fighting what has been described as a low-level civil war. And the UN’s envoy to Libya, Bernardino Leon, has been trying without success, to push the two sides to form a unity government. But now Leon’s work has been thrown into doubt, after it was revealed he had been negotiating a high-paying job in the United Arab Emirates. The Gulf country is a backer of the UN-recognised government in Tobruk. And its rival in Tripoli says the revelation undermines the UN envoy’s impartiality. So, what will this mean for the UN led talks to form a unity government? And will the new UN envoy be able to restore trust between all sides? Al Jazeera

Call for Vigilance as Sierra Leone Declared Ebola-Free
Sierra Leone was declared free of the Ebola virus disease at a symbolic ceremony in Freetown. The World Health Organisation Country Representative, Dr Anders Nordstrom, made the pronouncement as part of a brief statement. “Today, November 7, 2015, the World Health Organisation declares the end of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone,” he declared, amidst applause in the conference hall of the Bintumani Hotel in Aberdeen, the tourist area in the west end of Freetown. The occasion was graced by President Ernest Bai Koroma and his ministers, representatives from the diplomatic community and aid agencies, who helped Sierra Leone fight the deadly disease that infected over 8,000 people and killed nearly 4,000.  Africa Review

Rwanda’s Main Opposition Party Considers Giving up
Rwanda’s main opposition party says it is considering quitting politics after it failed to stop the amendment of the Constitution to remove presidential term limits. This comes as the Senate approved the draft constitutional amendment that was recently debated and voted in by the Chamber of Deputies. Subject to a referendum, President Paul Kagame could have the freedom to rule until 2034. The Green Party says its political agenda is being undermined by the ongoing amendments.  The East African

Africa’s Lake Chad Could Fuel New Migrant Crisis: UN
A perfect storm of drought, poverty and armed conflict in Africa’s Lake Chad basin could fuel Europe’s migrant crisis if world leaders fall short at two crucial summits on migration and climate change this year, a UN official warned. The two-day EU-African summit in the Maltese capital Valletta which begins on November 11 and the UN COP21 climate conference in Paris at the end of the month must tackle long-festering problems in the region, Toby Lanzer, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel, told AFP this week. Both summits address key issues which are keenly felt by countries in the drought-stricken Lake Chad basin, where 2.5 million people have been displaced, some of whom have already crossed international borders to escape the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, he said. AFP on Yahoo News

EU Turns to African Leaders to Stem Migrant Crisis
EU leaders will push their wary African counterparts to help tackle the migration crisis at a summit in Malta this week, offering them billions of euros in aid in exchange for cooperation. Having recently pressed Turkey to stem the flow of Syrian refugees, Europe is turning its attention to the other main source of an unprecedented number of people fleeing across the Mediterranean. The gathering of more than 50 leaders from both continents on Tuesday and Wednesday will see an overwhelmed Europe call on Africa to take back more people classed as economic migrants and not refugees from war.  AFP on Yahoo News

Diamonds Aren’t Forever for Botswana as Mining Boom Fades
The honeymoon is over in Botswana, where the diamond industry that led the world has fallen on hard times. The discovery of the gems nearly half a century ago transformed the southern African nation from a dusty farming backwater into one of the continent’s wealthiest societies. Thousands of miles of dirt roads were paved and schools and clinics built in every town. The capital, Gaborone, once a rural village, is now dotted with office blocks and malls occupied by South African chains like Shoprite Holdings Ltd. The country’s finances were in such good shape that Botswana earned the highest credit rating in Africa. Bloomberg

Kenya Just Accused the U.N. of Aiding Terrorists
As thousands of refugees attempt the perilous Mediterranean crossing each week, millions more remain trapped in semi-permanent displacement camps — away from the guns and bombs they fled back home, but shut out of the economic centers where they might thrive. Nowhere are there more such people than in Dadaab, the largest refugee camp on earth and a crude metropolis of sticks and mud located in northeastern Kenya. Dadaab, which sprawls out over 20 square miles of desert some 60 miles from the border with Somalia, is home to nearly half a million Somali refugees, many of whom have been there since 1991, when their home country collapsed into civil war. As attacks by the militant group al-Shabab have intensified in Kenya in the wake of the country’s 2011 invasion of Somalia, however, the Kenyan government has come to regard Dadaab as a security threat. Now it wants to close the camp — and deny its residents even the privilege of living in purgatory. Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones