Media Review for October 1, 2015

Burkina Faso Coup Leader in Vatican Embassy
The military general who led the short-lived coup in Burkina Faso has sought refuge at the Vatican Embassy, a day after the army opened fire on his supporters in the presidential guard to force them to disarm, a person who works closely with the clergy said Wednesday. Gen. Gilbert Diendere is sheltering at the Vatican nunciature in Burkina Faso’s capital, according to the person close to the Catholic clergy who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists. The Vatican spokesman did not immediately respond to an email requesting information. Negotiations are underway for Diendere to give himself up, the government said in a communique. Diendere told The Associated Press he is willing to surrender to authorities.  AP on Yahoo News

US Africa Command Boss discusses Regional Security in Uganda
The head of the U.S. military’s Africa Command, on a visit to Uganda, on Wednesday awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit to six Ugandan military officers, including the country’s top military commander, according to the U.S. Embassy in Uganda. Gen. David M. Rodriguez bestowed the awards, including to Uganda’s top commander, Gen. Katumba Wamala. Rodriguez’ visit and the awards highlight Uganda’s role as key ally in the fight against Islamic extremists in Africa. “Because of these leaders, because of what they have done in command of troops out in Somalia, the Somali people have a chance to live a better life,” Rodriguez said, according to a release from the Ugandan military.  AP on The Washington Post

Six Ugandan Soldiers Receive US Legion of Merit Award for Their Role in AMISOM
Six Ugandan soldiers have been awarded the prestigious Legion of Merit degree of officer medals by the United States Army for their leadership in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, promoting regional stability and dedicated service to Uganda. A statement issued here Wednesday lists those awarded as the Chief of Defense Forces General Katumba Wamala, Lieutenant General Andrew Gutti, Major General Francis Okello, Major General Levi Karuhanga, Major General Fred Mugisha and Major General Nathan Mugisha. The Legion of Merit is a military award of the US Armed Forces given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.  Star Africa

Al-Qaida or Islamic State? Issue Simmers Within Al-Shabab
Somalia’s Al-Shabab militants have moved to silence members suspected of pushing the group to switch its main alliance from al-Qaida to the Islamic State extremist group. Residents of Jamame and other sources tell VOA’s Somali Service that the group has detained five of its foreign members in the town, about 60 kilometers south of Mogadishu. The identities of the five are not yet known, though residents say heavily-armed al-Shabab security men made the arrests Tuesday night in a raid on a home. Gunfire was heard, but it’s unknown if anyone was hurt. It’s not exactly clear what caused this crackdown, but sources say some foreigners recently have voiced their support for the Islamic State. VOA

Lawmakers: Keep U.S. Troops on Hunt for Kony
Lawmakers advocated Wednesday for the Obama administration to keep the U.S. military involved in the hunt for African warlord Joseph Kony. “We trust the administration will decide to continue this worthy effort,” said Rep. Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations in the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The United States and other members of the international community must retain our resolve to capture or remove the leaders of the (Lord’s Resistance Army) and any terrorist group the threaten the lives and well being of innocent people worldwide,” he said.  The Hill

Central African Leader Pleads for Calm as 30,000 Flee Tense Capital
“We fear that the violence we’re seeing in Bangui is a return to the dark days of late 2013 and 2014, when thousands were killed and tens of thousands had to flee their homes,” UN refugee agency spokesman Leo Dobbs told reporters Tuesday. At least 36 people have died in the last three days and 27,400 fled their homes amid the latest flare up of violence in the conflict-torn country, the United Nations said. Fears of a sudden refugee influx saw neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo announce the immediate closure of its northern border with the landlocked former French colony. One in 10 Central Africans – 460,000 people – have sought refuge outside the country, mainly in Cameroon, Chad, DR Congo and Congo, since violence broke out more than two years ago.  Times Live

Central Africa Republic Elections in Doubt Amid Latest Violence
At least two more people died in violent clashes between militias in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui on Wednesday. Since Saturday, at least 39 people have been killed in fighting between Christian, Muslim and other religious and ethnic groups in the city. The situation was relatively calm on Wednesday, with UN and French peacekeepers patrolling the streets. That spate of violence broke out on Saturday after claims that a motorcycle-taxi driver was murdered in the capital’s Muslim-majority PK-5 neighborhood. Around a hundred were injured when the unrest spread to other districts. The recent spike in violence has raised doubts about the interim government’s plans to hold elections on October 18 and restore democracy in the impoverished African country, which has been experiencing unrest for more than two years. Deutsche Welle

How Ethiopia has Cracked Down on People Smugglers
[…] Now as Europe grapples with an influx of migrants, Ethiopia’s government has intensified a crackdown on the smugglers it blames for luring thousands abroad. The government says it has arrested more than 200 smugglers operating along its 700km (435-mile) border with Sudan this year and has begun a massive awareness programme to inform the public about the dangers of making such perilous journeys. It was spurred into action after 30 Ethiopian Christian migrants were killed in Libya by Islamic State militants in April.  BBC

U.S. in Talks With IMF on South Sudan Aid After Peace Deal
The U.S. and the International Monetary Fund are discussing a rescue package for South Sudan to help rebuild the economy after almost two years of war, a U.S. envoy said. Officials are in talks over the extent of the financial assistance required to restore macroeconomic stability to the oil-producing nation, U.S. Special Envoy to South SudanDonald Booth said Monday by phone from New York. South Sudan’s economy is projected to contract 7.5 percent this year, while the deficit on its 10.6 billion-pound ($3.6 billion) budget is expected to widen to 5.9 percent of gross domestic product from 3.7 percent last year, according to the African Development Bank. “South Sudan has a serious budget-deficiency problem that they need to address,” Booth said, adding that the U.S. wants to create a stable economic environment that’ll support a peace agreement signed last month. He didn’t specify how much will be required or whether the IMF or U.S. will extend loans. Bloomberg

Amnesty International Blasts Egypt, Says Sisi Pardons Just A Guise
Human rights organization Amnesty International has advised the international community not to be fooled by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s “veneer of reform and empty promises.” Sisi issued presidential pardons for 100 young people on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, including activists Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif, and journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who were sentenced to three years last August in the internationally condemned Al Jazeera case. Some of them were released immediately, and others after a slight delay, such as Salwa Mehrez, whose name was listed wrongly in the presidential decree. But in a statement Monday, the international rights organization specifically highlighted the cases of seven activists who still remain behind bars.  Worldcrunch – Mada Masr

Property Tied Congo President’s Family Seized
French judges have ordered the seizure of a property tied to the family of Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso in an investigation over suspected ill-gotten wealth, a source at the prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday. Congo’s long-ruling leader is among a number of African leaders targeted by a long-running French investigation into alleged illicit financial holdings in France. William Bourdon, a lawyer for Transparency International France, the organisation that brought the case, said two properties were involved. “The seizures were carried out after a thorough financial investigation established a direct link with several members of Sassou Nguesso’s family,” he said. A lawyer for Congo authorities was not available to comment. IOL News

South Africans March to Call time on Mass Government Corruption
South Africans across the political, social, religious and racial divide have marched through the country’s main cities to protest against massive corruption blamed for hampering development and widening the wealth gap. In the first widely supported march against graft since democracy came to South Africa in 1994, as many as 10,000 people marched to the Union Buildings, the seat of government in Pretoria, where a petition was handed in signed by 200 organisations. Among its demands were that President Jacob Zuma pay back some of the 200 million rand (£15 million) spent on revamping his Nkandla country home – a major bugbear for South Africans which has caused Mr Zuma’s popularity to plummet even among the staunchest supporters of the ruling African National Congress. The Telegraph

In South Africa, Even the Schoolchildren Pay Bribes
The corruption habit begins early in South Africa, with children bribing school gate guards a few cents to let them out to buy candies. “You pay a bribe and you get away with it. It becomes a habit. Most people say corruption is part of our culture,” said Lucky Menoe, an activist with a South African anticorruption organization, Corruption Watch. Menoe works with children who report their experience paying bribes at schools – to get a copy of an exam paper in advance, or to pass a subject. He runs programs to try to educate them to say no to requests for bribes. In a sign of public anger over rising government corruption, a public coalition of unions, anticorruption activists, legal rights groups, churches, organizations representing the poor, homeless people and opposition parties led protest marches against corruption Wednesday in Pretoria and Cape Town – the first mass anticorruption protests since the governing African National Congress took power in 1994. The most common brush with corruption comes on roadsides where police, their badges artfully hidden, pull over drivers for minor offenses and demand a “cold drink” or to “buy me tea.”  LA Times

Bodies on Streets Offer Grim Warning
Dawn in Bujumbura, and bodies line the streets. Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza succeeded in his return to power, but the violence that accompanied his controversial election has not stopped. Who carries out the killings on the streets of the capital — assassinations or reprisal raids — is not known, and both sides blame the other. Some say it is the opposition being killed, others say the attacks are to scare off pro-government supporters. “We discover corpses almost every day on the street in Bujumbura, sometimes with traces of extreme violence,” said Carina Tertsakian from Human Rights Watch (HRW). AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari: ‘End Unruliness’
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Nigerians to stop their “unruly behaviour” to achieve progress. “To bring about change, we must change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens,” he said in an address to mark 55 years of independence. Mr Buhari was a military ruler in 1984 and 1985, and ordered civil servants who were late for work to do frog jumps as he tried to impose discipline. He returned to office in May after winning democratic elections. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous state, and the continent’s main oil producer. However, most of its citizens live in poverty, and the country often faces fuel and electricity shortages. BBC

Amnesty: At Least 1,600 Killed in Boko Haram violence Since June
At least 1,600 people have been killed in the Boko Haram conflict since the start of June, taking the civilian death toll to some 3,500 this year, Amnesty International said on Wednesday. The deaths in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger come despite apparent military advances against the Islamist militants in recent weeks, the rights group said in a statement. “The number of people killed so far this year is truly shocking with more than 3,500 civilian fatalities in less than 300 days,” said Amnesty’s Africa director for research and advocacy, Netsanet Belay. “Governments in affected countries must take all necessary legal measures to ensure the security of civilians in affected areas,” he added. AFP on Yahoo News

Ghana: Over 30 People Killed in illegal Mine Pit
Over 30 illegal miners were trapped and at least one confirmed dead on Monday in a collapsed illegal mine pit at Tarkwa Nsuaem, near Takoradi, 218 km west of the capital Accra. Eye witness say at least one person had been pulled out of the debris dead , while more than 30 were still trapped underneath the rubble. Tarkwa Municipal Police Commander Paul Ayittey was quoted by local a radio station as saying there had been two other injured people pulled up from the collapsed pit. Local media sources say the incident occurred in the early hours of Monday and has brought activities at the mine site, where over 300 people had been working, to a standstill. Business Day Ghana

Kenya Seeks UN Security Council Support to drop Ruto’s ICC case
Kenya will use the UN Security Council to rally support in its bid to have the case against Deputy President William Ruto at the International Criminal Court dropped. Multiple sources within the country’s diplomatic mission at the United Nations said that deferring the case had been ruled out by the UN Security Council. This was on the grounds that Mr Ruto’s trial at The Hague was not a threat to international security. Instead, they advised that the government target the Assembly of States Parties’ (ASP) meeting slated for November to push for the withdrawal of the case. Daily Nation

Why the ICC has the Wrong Man on Trial over Invasion of Timbuktu
“Tuareg sent to the ICC,” read the headlines, announcing the delivery of the first Malian jihadist suspect to the international criminal court.  Alleged Islamic extremist accused of destroying Timbuktu monuments sent to Hague   Read more Abou Tourab, to use his nom de guerre, will appear at the Hague today, accused of being a leading member of Ansar Dine, a Malian group allied to al-Qaida, and participating in the destruction of the monuments in the historic city of Timbuktu. Worse, the ICC added in a statement, he played an significant role during the 10-month occupation of the city. Do the agents and intelligence services of Mali, the ICC and France have no memory? First let’s give the young man his rights and call him by his name: Mohamed Ag Mahmoud Al Faqi. Call him Terrorist and Pseudo-jihadist, too, but not Tuareg. Tuareg is an ethnic group, not a defect to be displayed in a headline, offending all those who have not joined the dance of jihadists. The Guardian

Algerian Held in Guantanamo Seeks Reparations from US
An Algerian man filed a claim Wednesday with an international human rights body seeking compensation from the U.S. government for the nearly 12 years he was held without charge at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Djamel Ameziane urged the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to grant him reparations and compensation for physical and psychological abuse that he says he suffered while in U.S. custody and for his failure to get a job since being sent home in December 2013 because of the stigma of being held at Guantanamo. Wells Dixon, one of Ameziane’s lawyers, said the 48-year-old makes no specific damage claim but he should receive “lifetime financial support and medical care” for what he has been through. At a minimum, the U.S. should return several thousand dollars seized from him when he was captured, Dixon said. AP on Yahoo News

Map: China’s Stereotypes of Africa, from ‘Chaotic’ Somalia to ‘Awesome’ Gambia
China’s ambitions in Africa are well-documented. Its annual trade with the resource-rich continent recently surpassed $200 billion, and Chinese agencies and firms have invested heavily in building badly needed roads, railways, and public buildings. Meanwhile, more than 1 million Chinese have reportedly left home to seek their fortunes in African nations. Those ties may be drawing China and Africa closer, but that doesn’t mean everyday Chinese understand the continent terribly well. For example: “Why does South Africa have so many white people?” is the leading autocompleted result for queries about that country posed to Baidu, China’s largest search engine. Baidu’s autocomplete feature works similar to Google’s: When someone begins typing into the search box, an algorithm displays a list of suggested ways to finish the query, in part by combing the engine’s archives for previously popular searches. Those automatic suggestions often have the added benefit of sifting through layers of online discourse to uncover the profound and (often amusingly) mundane questions that often lead people to search for answers. Foreign Policy

An Oil Dispute in Niger is Exposing Big Problems with Chinese Investment in Africa
On August 14, a compressor failed at the Soraz oil refinery near Zinder, Niger, crippling one of the very few pieces of industrial infrastructure in one of the poorest countries in the world. The thing is, there may never have been a compressor blowout. According to multiple energy-industry sources who spoke with Business Insider, the shutdown of the Soraz refinery — which has driven up gas and cooking-oil prices throughout Niger and pushed parts of the country of 16 million to the edge of a serious fuel shortage — was a deliberate decision by the refinery’s state-owned Chinese operators and coowners.  Business Insider

African Governments Must Urgently Invest in Science and Research
Africa will continue to be held back if we do not immediately invest in research and development. African governments who have not met the 1% target pledged at the African Union heads of state summit in 2006 should increase their spending on research. Pledges have been made, but in most cases they haven’t been translated into concrete actions. This is partly because African governments struggle with conflicting priorities such as preventing disease outbreaks and providing education and proper sanitation.  But science could have solutions for these challenges – if we invest in it. The African economies are some of the world’s fastest growing, averaging 5% annually. For this growth to continue, local solutions and innovations need to be applied to all sectors, especially healthcare and education. Economic progress can only be sustained when the population is fed, educated, healthy and happy.  The Guardian

Christians in Morocco: A Crisis of Faith
[…] Almost 98 percent of the people in Morocco are Muslim, just over 1 percent are Christians, and a fraction of a percent are Jewish. The Christians are mainly foreigners residing in the country — the exact number of Moroccan Christians is unknown. Attempting to convert a Muslim to another religion — also called “shaking the faith of a Muslim” — is a crime punishable with up to three years imprisonment and a substantial fine, though recently there has been discussion to delete the law. Mohammad converted when he lived in France. Fatima was educated by Christian missionaries at a school in Tangier. Today, they attend church in Rabat and accept the risk that goes along with worshiping publically. US News and World Report



Photo: Adam Jones