Media Review for March 14, 2016

Ivory Coast: 16 Dead in Grand Bassam Beach Resort Attack

Militants have killed at least 16 people in a gun attack on a beach resort in southern Ivory Coast. The attackers fired on beach-goers in Grand Bassam, about 40km (25 miles) from the commercial capital Abidjan. The resort is popular with both locals and foreigners. Four of the dead were Westerners, including a French and a German national, officials say. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said it launched the attack. The gunmen have been “neutralised”, officials say. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was quick to claim responsibility for the attack. It published its claim in four languages – a sign that the group was seeking to boost its media profile to match its recently enhanced operational capabilities. BBC

Ivory Coast Attack: Survivors Describe the Fear

Survivors of the first attack by Islamic extremists in Ivory Coast described scenes of confusion and fear as the jihadists gunned down defenseless civilians at a beachfront resort area. The attack left 16 dead. Those who make a living off tourism believed the attack on Sunday would deal it a huge blow. “Here, we work every day so foreigners [can] come here to relax … With all that has happened, I don’t think that the clients are going to come back now,” said Francois Tanoh, who rents beach chairs to tourists. Frenchman Charles-Philippe d’Orleans said he was at the beach with a friend when he heard the first shot, and thought it was a firecracker; then he heard another and louder one. A security guard told beachgoers not to worry, that some youths had tried to enter the paid-access beach and that another guard had fired his weapon into the air, d’Orleans told French radio RTL. But then more shooting broke out and d’Orleans and others hid behind a wall with gunmen “to the right, to the left, toward the road and toward the beach,” d’Orleans told the radio interviewer. He said that when the gunfire receded he and his friend sped away in a car. News24

Al-Qaeda Claims Ivorian Beach Attack as Toll Reaches 16

An Al-Qaeda affiliate claimed the killing of 16 people by gunmen at a Cote d’Ivoire resort leaving bodies strewn on the beach as fears grow of a mounting jihadist threat in West Africa. Armed with grenades and assault riffles, the attackers stormed three hotels in the sleepy resort of Grand-Bassam, popular with expats, around 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of the commercial hub Abidjan. Witnesses described panic as the gunmen sprayed bullets across the beach, and one told AFP they heard an assailant shouting “Allahu Akbar” – Arabic for “God is greatest”. “I saw one of the attackers from far away,” says Abbas El-Roz, a Lebanese salesman, who was in the pool of a hotel when the attackers struck. “He had a Kalashnikov and a grenade belt. He was looking for people.” Fourteen civilians and two special forces troops were killed in the shooting spree, along with six assailants, according to Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara. East Africa

Uganda: Supreme Court Allows Makerere Law Dons to Join Amama Petition, Rejects CSOs

Court has allowed Makerere University law lecturers to join the presidential election petition in which defeated independent candidate Mr Amama Mbabazi is seeking an annulment of Mr Yoweri Museveni’s victory. The nine lecturers including Prof Joe Oloka-Onyango, Prof Sylvia Tamale, Prof Christopher Mbazira, Dr Ronald Naluwairo, Dr Rose Nakayi, Dr Busingye Kabumba, Mr Daniel Ruhweza, Dr Kakungulu Mayambala and Mr Daniel Ngabirano, had on March 9 applied to the Supreme Court seeking to be part of the petition as amici curiae (friends of court). In their application the dons emphasised that their role in the petition would be purely neutral, focusing on providing guidance, considering their expertise in matters of law. In a court ruling read by Justice Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza Monday morning, the judges said: “We are satisfied that the applicants raise relevant points of law and will benefit court in the hearing.” “The Court is satisfied that the applicants are quite competent, experienced in the field of law and human rights,” she said. According to justice Tibatemwa, public interest outweighs the concerns and the objections raised by the respondents in which they sought to block the admission of Makerere law dons. Daily Monitor

At Least 22 Killed in Post-Election Violence in Uganda’s West: Police

Fighting in western Uganda between supporters of rival candidates involved in last month’s national and local elections has killed 22 people and wounded 10 others in recent days, police said. Opposition party Forum for Democratic Change accused the government of stoking violence in recent days in the area where opposition candidate Kizza Besigye had a strong showing against veteran leader Yoweri Museveni, who won the disputed Feb. 18 poll. Police said in a statement issued late on Sunday that clashes erupted between supporters of rival candidates after local council elections in the area held on Feb. 24. Police said 16 civilians died in clashes between the rival supporters while six more were killed when police intervened to quell the violence. A further 10 were injured, including four soldiers, and 149 houses were burned down, police said. “We have information that criminal gangs are being incited,” police said in the statement, adding that 80 people were arrested after some youths attacked members of the security forces with machetes, knives and clubs. “We caution those misleading the youth into engaging in reckless … attacks on the security forces and other innocent people to desist,” the statement said. Museveni, 71, in power since 1986, was declared winner of the Feb. 18 presidential election with 60 percent of the vote against Besigye’s 35 percent. Parliamentary elections were held the same day, while local elections followed a few days later. Besigye and other rival candidates rejected the presidential poll results, saying they had been rigged. Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, another of the defeated candidates, has petitioned court to try to nullify the result. Reuters

EU Cuts Aid to Burundi Govt, to Fund Humanitarian Agencies Directly

The European Union will continue to fund humanitarian agencies in Burundi while announcing Monday that it has suspended direct support to the Bujumbura government. The EU is Burundi’s biggest aid donor, funding about half the annual budget of the central African country – one of the world’s poorest. More than 440 people have been killed and nearly 240,000 fled to neighbouring countries since last April when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced his bid to extend his rule, which he won in a disputed July election. “The situation in Burundi remains of serious concern for the EU, though we have seen recently some glimpses of hope. Today’s decision makes clear that for our relations to be fully resumed we expect a number of concrete measures to be carried out,” EU’s foreign affairs commissioner Federica Mogherini said. East African

Burundi: From Radio Silence to Virtual Airwaves – A Conversation With SOS Médias Burundi

How the destruction of private radio stations affects access to information about the Burundi crisis, and what SOS Médias Burundi is doing about it. When was the last time you saw Burundi in the news? If it has been close to a year, there’s good reason. Last May, international media was abuzz with stories about the East African country, after an attempted coup d’état threatened to depose President Pierre Nkurunziza. Massive protests began when Nkurunziza was elected for a third term – an occurrence that members of the opposition deemed unconstitutional. The former Hutu rebel leader has been in power since 2005. In the ten months that have transpired since, Burundi has entered one of the worst crises since its civil war. Opposition leaders and supporters have been killed, civilians have been arrested and tortured, and hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country. But many people both inside and outside Burundi have little to no information about the violent reality that has overtaken the country. This is in large part due to the fact that, since the coup, independent media outlets – particularly radio stations – have been destroyed, shut down or heavily censored by the government. IFEX

Rwanda Dismisses ‘Childish’ Burundi Spy Claim

Rwanda Sunday dismissed as “childish” and baseless a claim by neighboring Burundi that a man arrested on the border was a spy. Burundi security forces Saturday paraded before journalists the man they said was an army corporal on a spying mission to “destabilize” the country, cranking up tensions between Bujumbura and Kigali. But Rwandan army spokesman Joseph Nzabamwita said the allegation was nonsense. “The RDF (Rwanda Defense Force) has no missing soldiers, no such name exists in the RDF,” he told AFP. “The accusations are childish, ridiculous and lack credibility.” Burundi named the man as Corporal Rucyahintare Cyprien, arrested last Monday in Rushenya on the Rwandan border. Daily Star

UN Says South Sudan Allows Fighters to Rape Women as Means of Payment

South Sudanese government allows its fighters rape women and girls as payment, the United Nations rights office has said, adding that it was one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world. “The assessment team received information that militias…who carry out attacks together with the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (South Sudanese military) commit violations under an agreement of do-what-you-can and take-what-you-can,” the rights office said in a new report. “Most of the youth therefore also raided cattle, stole personal property, raped and abducted women and girls as a form of payment,” the report added. In a report, the UN human rights office painted a harrowing picture of civilians suspected of supporting the opposition, including children, being burnt alive, suffocated in shipping containers, hanged from trees and cut to pieces. UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein meanwhile warned that brutal rapes had been used systematically as an instrument of terror and weapon of war. “This is one of the most horrendous human rights situations in the world,” he added in his statement. Daily Nation

Al-Shabaab Still Poses Big Threat to Region, Say Experts

Funding cuts, implementation of an arms embargo on Somalia and a slow de-radicalisation campaign are combining to re-energinise Al-Shabaab. The revelations follow a recent report by a top US military official who said despite continued drone and ground attacks on the militants, the group still posed a big threat to the region. “Al-Shabaab’s efforts will be aimed at removing external influence from Somalia and compelling troop-contributing countries to re-evaluate their involvement in the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom),” Gen David Rodriguez, the head of US Africa Command told his country’s Senate Armed Forces Committee. “In future, Al-Shabaab may seek to adapt to financial and territorial losses by broadening its terrorist agenda throughout East Africa.” According to Gen Rodriguez, recent successes by Amisom have been hampered by overstretched resources and a weak Somalia national army. Daily Nation

Tensions Building Ahead of Republic of Congo Presidential Poll

The Republic of Congo heads to a presidential election next Sunday amid deepening distrust as President Denis Sassou N’guesso seeks to extend his already three decades in power. The country’s electoral campaign is in full swing, but the main opposition coalition, the IDC-Frocad, said authorities are preventing the candidates from campaigning. IDC-Frocad Spokeperson Guy Romain Kinfoussia said police recently threw tear gas into a meeting held by a candidate of the opposition. And another candidate was refused the right to hold a meeting in a public square. Nine candidates are running, including N’Guesso, already in power for 30 years. The president held a referendum in October to change the constitution to remove the two term-mandate limit and 70-year-old age ceiling for candidates. The referendum passed with 92 percent of vote, a result rejected by the opposition which had called for a boycott. VOA

Benin: Country Heads to Polls for Presidential Elections

A SO-CALLED cotton king once accused of trying to poison his president could be about to take power in the tiny West African country of Benin. Cotton magnate Patrice Talon is the main challenger to Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou in the current presidential elections. The pair are due to face each other in the second round of voting on March 20 after the first round last week failed to produce a clear winner. Preliminary results showed that neither Talon nor French-born Zinsou had the majority of votes for an outright win with the former taking 24 per cent of the vote against the Prime Minister’s 28 per cent. Another businessman Sebastien Ajavon was a close third but if the preliminary results are confirmed Talon and Zinsou will vie against each other in a run-off on Sunday. THE results were a blow both to Zinsou and current President Thomas Boni Yayi whose decision to make him prime minister last year was seen as an attempt to anoint a successor. Unlike many of his counterparts in the region Yayi has not tried to change the constitution in order to cling on to power. Leaders in Rwanda, the Congo Republic and Burundi have all changed their constitutions in order to stand for a third term. The National

Seven Northern Kenya counties to form regional economic bloc

Seven governors from counties in northern and northeastern Kenya are planning to form an economic bloc in a bid to make devolution in the region a success. The bloc brings together Lamu, Tana River, Isiolo, Marsabit, Garissa, Mandera and Wajir, which have similar demographic and geographic features. Garissa Governor Nathif Jama, who is leading the team bringing the counties together, said plans to form the bloc were still in the initial stages. The governors, he said, are strategising on how to put the bloc’s legal aspects together before drafting a memorandum of understanding among the participating counties. “We are discussing how to form it so that it can help our people. In a nutshell, therefore, it is an idea that we are still working on. Very soon we will be calling on the leadership from the seven counties including the MPs and senators and give a briefing. Daily Nation

Japan Grants UNICEF $4.9m for Emergency Interventions in Sudan’s War Affected Areas

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has received a $4.9 million grant from Japan to address the basic needs of children in the conflict affected states of South Darfur, East Darfur, South Kordofan and West Kordofan. “The funds will specifically support the provision of improved water drinking sources and adequate sanitation for 50,000 people; screening services for 140,000 children under the age of five for severe acute malnutrition and treatment for 10,000 identified severely acutely malnourished children ,” said a statement released by UNICEF Sudan on Sunday. Also, the Japanese grant will enable the U.N. Children’s Fund to reach 140,000 children with essential vaccines, 36,000 pregnant women will receive Tetanus toxoid vaccines and 37,000 children will receive treatment for common childhood illnesses; UNICEF further said. Japanese Ambassador to Sudan, Hideki ITO, expressed hopes that the “contribution enables UNICEF to tackle the challenges faced by children and women affected by emergencies in the targeted areas”. Sudan Tribune

Ethiopia Gains in Push for UN Security Council Seat
Ethiopia’s bid to secure membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is gaining momentum with Brazil being the latest country to back the horn of African nation, a foreign affairs ministry official said Sunday. Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent membership in the Security Council was officially launched by foreign affairs minister, Tedros Adhanom on 29 February after Seychelles agreed to leave its candidature for the former. Ethiopia, currently the only East African country, has wider chances of becoming a non-permanent member in the world body’s powerful panel. The spokesperson for Ethiopia’s foreign affairs ministry, Tewolde Mulugeta, said a number of African nations have backed Addis Ababa’s current bid. Brazil’s foreign affairs minister, Mauro Viera told reporters in Addis Ababa that the South American nation supports Ethiopia’s bid for a non-permanent seat at the UNSC. “Ethiopia would contribute a lot if elected as a non-permanent member of the Council”, Viera told reporters Saturday. “With its ample experience in regional, continental and global peacekeeping operation, Ethiopia would have an immense contribution in the Council,” he added. The African Union (AU), during its 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government held last January, endorsed Ethiopia’s candidacy for the election to be held in New York in June. Ethiopia intends to become a key player in the UN Security Council’s efforts in maintaining international peace and security. If elected, Ethiopia vows to boost roles of African countries in the global decision making process which had been dominated by western powers. Sudan Tribune

Zambia: Police Nab 3 Chinese Found with Masks, Guns and K400,000 Cash

POLICE in Lusaka have arrested three Chinese who were found with masks, two pistols, explosives and over K400,000 cash. And Lusaka Province police commissioner Nelson Phiri confirmed the arrest of the Chinese in an interview. According to a source, the three Chinese were arrested after a search at their premises on Lekraf Road in Makeni area. The trio, believed to be the masterminds of a spate of robberies that have rocked Lusaka, have been detained at Lusaka Central Police Station. “Police on Tuesday arrested three of the Chinese that live there [in Makeni]; they were found with guns and masks as well as money. These are the guys that are stealing around Lusaka. They are said to be stealing even from their fellow Chinese. It’s good that they were arrested; we keep hearing of Zambians being shot by police yet even the so-called foreign investors are involved in these robberies,” said the source who lives in Makeni area. PostZambia



Photo: Adam Jones