Media Review for October 9, 2015

Tunisian Group Wins 2015 Nobel Peace Prize
The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday bestowed the Nobel Peace Prize on an alliance of four Tunisian civil society groups for their tireless efforts to seek harmony and foster democracy in the nation that gave birth to the Arab Spring. The quartet of groups, including a worker’s union with more than 1 million members, has worked to advance democracy in Tunisia, which has made relative strides in reforms as other Arab Spring nations struggle with greater violence, instability and the re-emergence of dictatorships. The groups, the committee said, made a “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”  The Washington Post

Rwanda’s Top Court Clears Way for Kagame Third Term
Rwanda’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that President Paul Kagame could run for a third seven-year term, rejecting an attempt by the main opposition party to block changes to the country’s constitution. In the latest instance of an African leader seeking to extend his days in power, the Kagame-controlled parliament backed a motion in July to let him run again as leader of the east African state. The constitutional changes must pass a referendum although there is little chance of them failing due to Kagame’s control over the media and many aspects of public life, as well as his popularity as a nation-builder after a 1994 genocide. “All depends on the opinions of the people,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling.  Reuters

No Limits? Rwandan Ruling Shows how African Leaders can Stay in Power
Rumors that Rwandan President Paul Kagame may seek a third term in office first started in 2013. Before then, Mr. Kagame had openly and routinely discussed his retirement in 2017, when his second, seven-year term ends. Then the state-controlled media began to talk up the prospects of a third term, praising Kagame’s transformation of post-genocide Rwanda. And Kagame slowly began to drop his own hints.  “I think at some point we need to leave countries and people to decide their own affairs,” he said in 2014. “Why I’m saying that is because I’m asked when and whether I plan to leave office – right from the start of my first political term in office. It is as if I am here just to leave. I’m here to do business on behalf of Rwandans.”  CS Monitor

Rwandan Constitutional Amendment ‘Not the Will of the People’
The Rwandan opposition has suffered a setback in its attempt to foil Paul Kagame’s bid to remain president for a third term. The Supreme Court ruled that the constitution may be amended to allow Kagame to run in 2017. DW has been talking to Frank Habineza, leader of the opposition Democratic Green Party. DW: Mr Habineza, you were against the third term project and now the Supreme Court has ruled that Kagame can run. How much of a disappointment is this ruling to you and your party? Frank Habineza: We are not happy about the basic ruling, since we had given the Supreme Court tangible reason for it to rule in our favor, but we have not been beaten. We are still going to continue with the democratic struggle.  Deutsche Welle

Exclusive: Italy paying Ransoms in Syria and Somalia
A six-month investigation by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has cast light on the shadowy world of hostage negotiations, revealing how some governments negotiate with armed groups and pay cash ransoms. In one case, Italy paid millions of dollars for the release of one Italian and one Belgian journalist, according to Syrian fighters. In another, Al Jazeera obtained photographs of an $11m cash ransom paid by Italy to the armed Syrian group, al-Nusra Front, in return for the release of two aid workers. Intelligence files obtained by Al Jazeera also reveal how Italy intervened in negotiations with Somali pirates and brokered a deal to pay $525,000 for the release of a dual Italian-South African citizen and his partner. The Italian and South African governments then fed the media a false story, claiming that a daring raid by the Western-backed Somali military had secured the hostages’ release.  Al Jazeera

U.N. Announces National Unity Government for Libya
The U.N. envoy for Libya is announcing a national unity government for Libya after months of difficult talks between the north African country’s two rival governments. Bernardino Leon has told a press conference that the names of candidates for the national unity government have been decided. The announcement is a step toward stitching together the oil-rich but chaotic country that fell apart after the overthrow of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. The country has been split between an Islamist-backed government based in Tripoli and an internationally recognized government in the country’s east. Leon says the prime minister for the new government is Fayez Sarraj. The envoy says of the names of candidates for the new government, “We believe this list can work.” Times

Failure to Pay Soldiers Threatens Somalia’s War on Islamists
Somalia’s inability to pay and even feed its soldiers threatens to undermine years of hard-won military gains against Islamist al Shabaab rebels, with corruption sapping morale and weakening the army in the war against the militants. In the past two months the al Qaeda-aligned group has stormed an African Union (AU) peacekeeping base and recaptured several small towns from retreating Somali soldiers in Lower Shabelle region south of the capital, Mogadishu. While no one expects the rebels to regain swathes of territory they lost since AU and Somali soldiers pushed them out of Mogadishu in 2011, there are fears that years of efforts to reform the army may come undone as unpaid soldiers defect, erect checkpoints to extract bribes, or lose the appetite to fight.  Reuters

Tunisia Lawmaker Escapes Assassination Attempt
Unidentified gunmen fired multiple shots at a Tunisian sports magnate and legislator on Thursday near the resort city where an Islamic extremist killed 38 tourists at a luxury hotel last summer. Ridha Charfeddine wasn’t injured in the attack on a road leading to Sousse, a resort city 150 kilometers [nearly 100 miles] from Tunis. Police combed the region in search of the attackers, who had reportedly opened fire on Charfeddine from a vehicle, and set up roadblocks at entry points to Sousse, officials said. Charfeddine is a lawmaker in the secular Nida Tunis party of President Beji Caid Essebsi, head of the Etoile sportive du Sahel soccer team, and a top shareholder in the Attassiaa TV channel, among other business interests. VOA

The True Cost of Terrorism: Tunisia’s Tourism Industry Struggles to Survive
[…] The atmosphere is reminiscent of the mood on the Titanic. That night Zohra Driss, the hotel’s owner, decides that it’s time to close down. The property is losing too much money. It needs an occupancy rate of 25 percent to make it through the winter, but only 5 percent of the rooms are currently occupied. The hotel made it through the summer with guests from Tunisia and Algeria, but now reservations have declined dramatically. In addition, the Spanish Riu chain, which has a 49 percent stake in the Imperial Marhaba, is considering pulling out of Tunisia altogether. Driss informs the general manager of her decision. The next morning, Saadi delivers the message to every department in the hotel. On Sept. 30, the Imperial Marhaba will join the other hotels along the beach and give up.  Spiegle

The Sad State of Egypt’s Liberals
If you believe Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s president, his country will take a final step towards democracy later this month, when voters start the process of choosing a new parliament. The previous one, freely elected and dominated by Islamists, was dissolved by the supreme court in 2012. The intervening period has seen Mr Sisi, then a general, oust an elected president, win an election himself and crush his opponents with violence and draconian laws passed by decree. Contrary to his rhetoric, Mr Sisi has set Egyptian democracy back. Yet the forces behind Egypt’s revolution in 2011—when the previous strongman, Hosni Mubarak, was overthrown in a popular revolt—have shown scant ability and often little inclination to keep the country on a more democratic path. Most of Egypt’s so-called liberals supported the overthrow of Muhammad Morsi, the former president, in 2013 on the grounds that his Muslim Brotherhood was itself undermining democracy. Many then stayed mum as Mr Sisi’s troops slaughtered protesting Islamists. Tarnished by this history, riven by infighting and lacking broad appeal, the liberals now appear helpless to check Egypt’s slide back to authoritarianism.  The Economist

Algeria: The Generals’ Endless Autumn
In less than 10 days, the video had 150,000 views on YouTube. For 30 minutes, retired general Hocine Benhadid – President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s opponent – was interviewed by Radio M, the internet radio network that belongs to the independent website Maghreb Emergen. He lashed out at Said Bouteflika, the president’s younger brother, as well as Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah, the Algerian army’s chief of staff. “A bunch of madmen, headed by Said Bouteflika, are plundering the country,” Benhadid said. “The people will rise up if Said wants to impose himself as a successor to his brother. … A mafia is ruling Algeria today. … Bouteflika is conscious only for 30-40 minutes per day. … Gaid Salah is nothing, he is only powerful through his phone and his chair. He has no seat in the army, he can’t even summon the leaders of the military regions, and nobody follows him. He was appointed in 2004 as chief of staff because he was delaying files, as he is weak.”  Middle East Eye

Burundi’s Economy to Shrink by 7.2 pct in 2015: IMF
Burundi’s economic output is expected to shrink by 7.2 percent this year after 4.7 percent growth in 2014, but expand again by 5.2 percent in 2016, the International Monetary Fund said. The forecasts, contained in the latest World Economic Outlook for October seen by Reuters on Thursday, did not give the reason behind the latest projections. But the country has been in political turmoil since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term in office. Opponents said another five-year term, which he began in August, violated a peace deal that ended a 12-year civil war in 2005, a conflict that left Burundi awash with arms. In a sign of slowing economic activity, Burundi’s tax revenues have been falling ever since. The latest data from the revenue authority show tax collections dropped 31.8 percent below target in August when it collected 42.2 billion Burundian francs ($27.51 million), against a target of 61.9 billion francs. Reuters

Hunger Stalking Zimbabwe Forces Children to Miss School Lessons
Rising numbers of children are no longer attending class at Mupinga Primary School in the southeastern Zimbabwean district of Chiredzi. They’re too hungry to study. Enrollment at the school this year is down by at least 150 students, more than a 10th of the school total, Maxwell Macheke, the headmaster, said in an interview. Last week teachers had to scrape money together and rush out to buy a bag of cornmeal, a staple food, to feed one particularly distressed student, he said. “Some of the children walk 10 kilometers (6 miles) to come to school every day,” Macheke said. “We’ve noticed that some of them no longer bring their lunch boxes.” Bloomberg

Ebola Scare as Man Dies in Nigerian City of Calabar
An Ebola scare has been reported in southern Nigeria, a year after the country was declared free of the virus. Ten people have been quarantined after coming into contact with a man showing Ebola-like symptoms, officials said. The man reportedly died shortly after being admitted to hospital in Calabar. On Wednesday, the three countries worst affected by Ebola – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia – recorded their first week with no new cases since the outbreak began in March 2014. BBC

To Prevent The Next Plague, Listen To Boie Jalloh
This is a landmark week in West Africa. For the first time since the Ebola outbreak, there were no new cases reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. There are many unsung heroes who deserve credit for this milestone. One of them is Dr. Boie Jalloh, age 30. Ten days after he showed up for his medical residency at 34th Military Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, he received a letter requesting his presence at the hospital’s newly constructed Ebola unit. That was in August 2014. The virus had reached the capital city, and the unit was immediately overrun with patients. Jalloh learned fast because he had to. Months later, as international organizations arrived in West Africa to join the battle against Ebola, Jalloh served as a wealth of information on how to treat the disease and design Ebola units to suit the local context. NPR

China-U.S. Ivory Ban Offers hope of Saving Elephants but Terms Unclear
Although many have welcomed the announcement, they have raised questions about the exact terms of the ban, the timeline for implementation and the possible persistence of loopholes that could continue to enable the trade. “In 2009, when China legalized the import of [some] ivory, poaching started to go up dramatically across Africa,” said Peter Knights, the executive director of WildAid. “What we think is that the sales ban will hopefully have a equal effect in reducing that poaching. The Chinese middle and upper classes’ penchant for ivory jewelry, art products and ornamental carvings could drive many countries’ wild elephant populations to extinction, experts say. Tens of thousands of elephants are killed every year for their tusks, according to the Born Free Foundation, a wildlife organization. Mainland China is widely considered to be the world’s biggest ivory consumer; the U.S. ranks second.  LA Times

East Africa: Tanzania Arrests EA’s Most Wanted Ivory Trafficker
Police in Tanzanian has arrested one of the most wanted ivory traffickers in the East African region. Yang Feng Glan, nicknamed the “queen of Ivory” was tracked down by Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit (NTSCIU) over the course of a year. Having previously confessed to the crime of ivory trafficking, Yang faces 20-30 years behind bars if convicted. She was arrested together with a number of other Chinese ivory traffickers. According to the Elephant League Organisation, Yang recently disappeared from Tanzania, moving to Uganda, but returned a week ago, when the task force swiftly moved and arrested her.  The Observer (Kampala) allAfrica

UN protests Assault of Staff Allegedly by South Sudan Forces
The U.N. has protested alleged physical assault of its military and civilian personnel by members of the South Sudanese army at a roadblock in Central Equitoria state. According to a statement Thursday, personnel in a patrol by the U.N. Mission in South Sudan were ordered out of the vehicle and assaulted by the soldiers. The patrol, which was on its way to Wonduruba in Central Equitoria, then turned back, the statement said. The U.N. mission in South Sudan condemns such “hostile acts” and wants an immediate investigation into the incident, the U.N. secretary-general’s spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters on Thursday. AP on Stars and Stripes

South Sudan Repartition Could Split Country Yet Again
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir says he will repartition the country into 28 states, up from the current 10. Opponents say taking such unilateral action is a violation of the recently signed peace deal, and is the latest sticking point on the path to peace. Kiir says splitting South Sudan into 28 states will help reduce the size of the national government and distribute more resources to the rural population. But rebel leader and ousted vicepresident Riek Machar says the president should have consulted the opposition first, per the terms of a peace agreement signed in August to end nearly two years of fighting. VOA

South Sudan’s Warring Sides Violated Ceasefire Over 50 Times: Monitors
South Sudan’s warring sides have violated a ceasefire agreement over 50 times in the last 20 months, mediators said in a report on Thursday. The world’s newest nation plunged into civil war in late 2013 after a political row between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar reopened ethnic fault lines between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer people. More than 10 000 people have died. Facing heavy international pressure and the threat of sanctions, Kiir and Machar signed a peace deal in August. But since then both sides have accused one another of attacks, and humanitarian groups have pulled out of parts of the oil-rich country where heavy violence has been reported.  News 24

US Secretary of State Meets South Sudanese Leaders in Washington
The United States (US) Secretary of State, John Kerry, has on Thursday met with South Sudanese rival leaders despite earlier cancellation of such a meeting on Wednesday by the national security adviser, Susan Rice. On Tuesday, Rice, in protest of president Salva Kiir’s decree which unilaterally created 28 new states in violation of the peace agreement he signed with the armed opposition leader, Riek Machar, coupled with refusal by Machar to sign minutes on security arrangements at a workshop in Addis Ababa, cancelled a scheduled meeting in Washington with senior officials of president Barrack Obama’s administration. Sudan Tribune

Is Germany Moving Closer to Paying Reparations for Namibian Genoicide?
German parliamentary speaker Dr Norbert Lammert has on numerous occasions expressed Germany’s interest in developing a partnership with the Namibian government to further develop the country. During his visit to Namibia this week, Lammert said the South African nation had made progress during the past 25 years of independence by transforming the country into one of the most stable political systems in Africa. While Namibians were happy to hear this, many of them – especially members of the Herero tribe – were more interested to hear how Lammert would deal with the killing of thousands of Herero and Nama people more than a century ago. In 1904 a racial extermination order against the two tribes was issued by the then government of German South West Africa.  Deutsche Welle

Niger Diplomat to Head UN in DRC
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed the current chief of the AU mission in Somalia to head the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN official said Thursday. Maman Sambo Sidikou, a former foreign minister of Niger, replaces German diplomat Martin Kobler, who headed the UN’s largest peace mission in the DR Congo since July 2013. Kobler is to leave his post at the end of October. Sidikou, who led the Amisom mission in Somalia since July last year, takes over as UN envoy to the DR Congo and head of the 22 000-strong Monusco force, amid growing tensions in the country.  News 24

Africa’s Old Men’s Club out of Touch with Continent’s Burgeoning Youth
While Africa has a very small proportion of younger leaders between 33 and 55 in comparison with other continents, it has the youngest population in the world. The age gap between Africa’s elderly leaders and its young population has created a disconnect between the leaders and the led. There is something unmistakably common in Africa: the continent’s ageing and long-serving presidents. Its five longest presidencies stretch between 29 and 36 years, adding to a cumulative 169 years. Their longevity in office is matched by their old age, ranging from 71 to 92 years, and a combined 392 years.  Daily Maverick

Pro-Compaore Politician Arrested in Burkina over Failed Coup
Burkina Faso authorities on Thursday arrested the deputy of deposed leader Blaise Compaore’s party, as part of a probe into a failed bid to overthrow the interim government, a security source told AFP.  Achille Tapsoba, vice-president of the Congress for Democracy and Progress (CDP) party, is the third pro-Compaore political leader to be detained this week in connection to last month’s short-lived coup. “He was wanted, and he handed himself in to a police station,” the security source said. Burkina Faso, which last year saw a popular uprising oust veteran president Compaore from power, found itself on the edge of chaos for six days from September 17, when an elite army force loyal to the old regime tried to snatch power from the transitional authority. AFP on Yahoo News

Facebook Targeting 14 African Countries with Satellite Internet Initiative, Says Eutelsat CEO
The head of French satellite company Eutelsat has told RFI that its partnership with Facebook to improve internet access will target 14 African countries. Eutelsat CEO Michel de Rosen said on Thursday that the initiative will partner with local providers to roll out satellite connectivity making the internet more accessible. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones