Media Review for October 16, 2015

Twin Blasts Hit Worshipers at Nigeria Mosque
The attacks killed at least 26 people and wounded 25 more, a civilian defense fighter who helped evacuate the victims told the Associated Press. Another witness provided a much higher death toll. “We counted 42 dead bodies outside the mosque,” anti-Boko Haram fighter Amadu Marte told Agence France-Presse. “All the people in the mosque died. Not a single one escaped,” said Muhtari Ahmadu, a trader near the site of the blasts, also speaking with AFP. The first suicide bomber allegedly activated his charge when he entered the Maiduguri mosque on Thursday evening, according to sources at the scene. The second set off his bomb after people rushed to the scene to help the first victims.  Deutsche Welle

US Forces Ready Outpost for Boko Haram Drone Mission
U.S. forces are in the process of making improvements to a small outpost in Cameroon, which will eventually host up to 300 troops tasked with tracking fighters linked to the insurgent group, Boko Haram, Africa Command said on Thursday. “We’re not building any bases, but there is a location, and part of the deal will be that we will make some improvements,” said Charles Prichard, an AFRICOM spokesman. “Some life support things to make sure servicemembers have what they need. Food, water, shelter. That is part of the initial push.” About 90 troops have been deployed to Cameroon, with more set to follow as the military outpost begins to take shape. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced the move to send drones into Cameroon as part of an effort to help regional militaries in their fight against the Nigeria-based Boko Haram, a group that has ambitions to overthrow the government in Nigeria.  Stars and Stripes

Chad Arrests 62 Women for Wearing Veils after Bombings
Chad police have arrested 62 women for wearing full veils in public as the country steps up security against following a multiple suicide bombing attack, a police spokesman said. Authorities also arrested eight suspected attackers, police spokesman Paul Manka said on Thursday. The first major arrests of women for the veil ban have been carried out in the capital, N’djamena, since Wednesday in line with “anti-terrorism” measures, he said. Chadian authorities banned wearing full veils in public places in June to prevent suicide attacks, especially by the Nigerian armed group Boko Haram.  Al Jazeera

Ghana in Talks to Stem Nigeria Threat to Cut Gas Supply
A Ghanaian government delegation is holding emergency talks in Nigeria to avert a drastic gas supply cut that has been threatened, a government spokesman said, thus avoiding a potential political crisis. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation said it will cut gas supply by 70 percent to Ghana’s main power generation company by Friday due to unpaid debts of $181 million. Ghana already suffers power shortages and Nigerian gas meets about 25 percent of its needs. “They are already in Nigeria. They left Ghana last night. We are praying that they are able to negotiate, so that it doesn’t come to a cut in supply,” a spokesman for the power ministry told Joy FM radio on Thursday. Power cuts have raised the cost of doing business and angered voters at a sensitive time for President John Mahama’s government ahead of what is expected to be a tough re-election battle next year.  VOA

Guinea President on Course for First-Round Win in Disputed Vote
Guinean leader Alpha Conde was on track to win re-election in the first round of the country’s contested presidential election, partial results showed Thursday, as his main rival said he was pulling out of the poll “farce”. The opposition has said that Sunday’s vote, only the second democratic presidential poll since Guinea gained independence from France in 1958, was marred by widespread fraud and mismanagement, and demanded a re-run. Preliminary results from the vast majority of the ballots cast showed Conde ahead of main rival Cellou Dalein Diallo with the six other candidates trailing behind, the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) said.  AFP on Yahoo News

UN’s Ban Calls for Investigation of Burundi Killings
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday called for a rigorous investigation after nine civilians including an IOM staff member were shot in Burundi, reportedly at close range. Ban condemned the killings in which two police officers also died during exchanges of heavy gunfire in Bujumbura on Wednesday. Residents told AFP that a Burundian journalist, Christophe Nkezabahizi, his wife and two teenage children were killed in their home. Evariste Mbonihankuye, a staff member of the International Organization for Migration, was killed in the violence, a UN statement said. The UN chief “urges Burundian authorities to undertake a rigorous and prompt investigation into the circumstances and motives behind these despicable crimes in order to ensure that their perpetrators are brought to justice,” said a statement.  News 24

Ugandan Opposition Leader under House Arrest to Stop Him Holding Rallies
An opposition leader in Uganda who is running for president is under house arrest to prevent him from holding rallies that have been called illegal by the government, police said. Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change party is being detained in his home near the capital, Kampala, as a preventive measure “to ensure that there is no breach of peace”, said a police spokeswoman, Polly Namaye. Besigye was arrested because he planned public rallies and not the indoor meetings for which he got approval in eastern Uganda, she said. Ugandan police face mounting criticism over alleged brutality in breaking up rallies held by supporters of Besigye and the former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who also is running for president in elections next year. The Guardian

Uganda Police Brutality Warning Ahead of Polls: Rights Group
Police brutality against opposition supporters in Uganda is on the rise ahead of elections due next year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned Thursday. Opposition supporters and activists “risk beatings, arrest, or worse,” said Maria Burnett of the New York-based advocacy group, as momentum grows in the run-up to the vote next February. “Uganda’s police brutality consistently favours the incumbent,” Burnett added. The police is notorious for its use of tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and batons when confronting opponents of President Yoweri Museveni, who next year will mark three decades in power, HRW said. His main opponent is three-time loser Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) who has himself been arrested, beaten and teargassed on numerous occasions in the past.  East African

Collateral Damage Feared in Africa after Syria, Iraq Air Strikes
“Deliberate or not, the main drivers of international terrorism today are the policies and actions of the United States and its western allies,” said Jakkie Cilliers, the executive director of the Institute for Security Studies. Counterinsurgencies that have focussed on military responses and ignored political factors have often led to human rights abuses that are also fuelling political violence, the seminar heard. “In Kenya, Nigeria and many other [countries] the response of the government and the security agencies to international acts, to terrorist acts, have worsened the problem,” Cilliers noted, adding that they have been long-lasting in countries like Somalia, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. “These are all countries that have been the target of US interventions and this had led to devastation, chaos, deteriorating domestic security and extensive displacement,” Cilliers said.  RFI

Mideast Turmoil Strengthens Sudan’s Regime
When it briefly looked as if Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashirwould be detained in June on an International Criminal Court warrant in South Africa, the mood here was more of fear than jubilation—even among many opponents of his regime. That is because, even though Sudan is usually associated with bloodshed and wars, the giant country has emerged as an unlikely enclave of stability when compared with its neighbors. What many Sudanese dreaded in June and still fear: a precipitous collapse of the Bashir regime, in power since 1989, could throw the country into the same kind of turmoil that is ravaging much of the Arab world since the Arab Spring of 2011. “People were scared of chaos,” said Ghazi Salah-al-Din Atabani, a former presidential adviser who broke with Mr. Bashir to establish an opposition party in 2013. “The images that came out of the Arab Spring put the Sudanese on alert—no one would wish Sudan to go down the path of Syria or Libya.”  The Wall Street Journal

Kerry Says Open to Talks on Removing Sudan from Terror List
US Secretary of State John Kerry has hinted at willingness to remove Sudan from a list of “state sponsors of terrorism”, disclosing that he discussed this possibility with the Sudanese foreign minister recently. But Kerry said the decision would be linked to improvements in Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur rather than cooperation on counter-terrorism per se. The top US official was speaking at a function at Harvard University on Tuesday when he was asked about Sudan. A transcript of his remarks was published by the US State Department. He said, “I met as recently as a couple of weeks ago in New York with the new foreign minister from [Sudan] – Foreign Minister Ghandour, and we talked very specifically about what needs to happen in the two areas, in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and in Darfur in order to perhaps open up a new channel to talk about how we might get them off the terrorist list if they deserve to be taken off it, but that we need to engage and we’re prepared to do it.” Radio Tamazuj

63 Police Officers Fired over Corruption in Kenya Reforms
Sixty-three senior police officers, including a police spokesman, have been fired for “corruption and integrity issues,” an official of the Kenyan National Police Service Commission said Thursday. The investigations have revealed a hierarchy in the way proceeds of corruption are shared among police officers, Johnstone Kavuludi said. “During the vetting, investigations showed some of them were involved in corruption and were even doing it through their juniors,” he said, “Through scrutiny of their accounts, the commission was able to establish that junior officers working in the traffic department regularly transferred fixed amounts of money to some of their seniors, suggesting that they had been given targets.” AP

EU Appears Poised to Resume Development Aid to Eritrea
Eritrea reserves some of its harshest criticism for Western nations and often has strained or hostile relationships with its neighbors.  So it may come as a surprise that Eritrea is improving its ties with the European Union. Evidence of this is in a program known as the 11th European Development Fund, which may allocate $229 million over the next six years for projects in Eritrea relating to renewable energy, energy efficiency and economic governance. The allocation has not been finalized and the money has not been released, officials stress.  But in recent years, the program has funded small-scale projects in Eritrea, including using solar panels to power irrigation in rural areas, and has supported community courts to improve the legal system. VOA

The Dirty Secret Behind Kigali’s Clean Streets
There is a dirty secret behind the sparkling veneer of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Local residents call it Kwa Kabuga, and government officials call it the Gikondo Transit Center. Whatever name is used, the reality is the same. It’s a place where Kigali’s “undesirables” – street vendors, sex workers, homeless people and beggars – are taken, beaten and arbitrarily detained. Their offense, they are told, is they make the city look dirty.  Gikondo Transit Center is an unofficial detention center managed by the City of Kigali and run by the police. It is an old factory in the Gikondo residential neighbourhood, surrounded by high, red brick walls. It sometimes houses up to 800 detainees, often in cramped and desperate conditions without adequate food, drinking water or basic sanitation. Until mid-2014, many street children were also detained there.  Newsweek

Can the Central African Republic’s Samba-Panza Hold it Steady Until the Polls?
Since a five-day wave of violence killed more than 60 people in the capital Bangui at the end of September, President Catherine Samba-Panza’s transition government has been caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, the interim government faces the challenge of organising elections within the next few months. The renewed fighting in Bangui, triggered by the death of a young Muslim motorcycle taxi driver, led to the postponement of elections that had been scheduled for October. But the government is still under international pressure to hold polls before its mandate expires on 31st December. African Arguments

Here’s How you Bring Down a ‘Strongman’ Government (Without a Civil War)
For those following Burkinabè politics, unruly demonstrations against this most recent coup hardly came as a surprise. In some ways they resembled events from less than one year ago during the popular uprising that ended the former authoritarian regime. The October 2014 uprising came when, after nearly three decades in power, then-president Blaise Compaoré—who is widely believed to have murdered his predecessor—called on his ruling party, the Congress for Democracy and Progress or CDP, to change the constitution and end presidential term limits. That would have allowed him to run for a fifth time in 2015, solidifying his strongman rule. But hundreds of thousands of people held demonstrations across the country, protesting Compaoré’s attempt to hang on to power. That became a popular uprising, which, on Oct. 31, 2014, overthrew Compaoré and pushed him into exile. The Washington Post

Ethiopian Drought Threatens Growth as Cattle Die, Crops Fail
Saado Osman straps two bulging sacks of United Nations wheat to her donkey, one of the few animals the 70-year-old eastern Ethiopian herder has left since the rains stopped. Like millions of others in the Horn of Africa nation she depended on that precipitation to provide fodder and water for her livestock. Now drought has killed 20 of her cattle and goats, leaving her family of 10 with just four animals. “There is hunger here,” Saado said as she stood among a crowd receiving food relief in Afdem town in Ethiopia’s Somali region on Oct. 8. “For one year it has not rained.”  Bloomberg

Angolan Government Cuts Spending by 50% as Oil Revenue Plunges
The government of Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s second-largest crude producer, cut spending by half this year following a plunge in oil prices, Vice President Manuel Vicente said. Public investment was reduced by 53 percent, Vicente told lawmakers in a state-of-the-nation address on Thursday in the capital, Luanda. He delivered the speech in the absence of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 73, who was “indisposed,” according to parliamentary Speaker Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos. Oil accounts for about two-thirds of fiscal revenue in Angola, putting the nation at risk after crude prices more than halved since June last year. The central bank devalued the currency twice this year and raised the benchmark interest rate four times in response, while the government has sought funding from the World Bank and China to help cushion the economy. Bloomberg

Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay Join U.N. Security Council
Egypt, Japan, Senegal, Ukraine and Uruguay were elected on Thursday to the U.N. Security Council during an uncontested vote held at the General Assembly. The five countries ran unopposed for the non-permanent seats after regional groups put them forward as their choice, but the contenders still had to garner two-thirds of votes cast. Applause and cheers broke out in the assembly hall after first results showed Senegal had won the largest share, picking up 187 votes followed by Uruguay which garnered 185.Egypt won 179 votes and Ukraine 177 in the 193-nation assembly. The newly-elected members will begin their two-year stint on January 1, replacing Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria. They will join the other five non-permanent council members: Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain and Venezuela. Al Arabiya

Sanctuary Without End: The Refugees the World Forgot
[…] The scene could be from the main street of almost any sizeable town in northern Kenya. But there is nothing normal about this place, or the lives of the more than 300,000 residents that exist here. For Dadaab is the largest refugee camp in the world. If it was a city, it would be one of Kenya’s largest. But most of the people here do not come by choice. They’re men, women and children who have fled famine and war. And even though the camp has existed for 24 years, permanent structures are banned by the Kenyan government. In the older parts of the camp where Abdula lives, there are shops and hospitals. In the newer parts, families live under tents in patches of desert, battered by winds that whip up the occasional violent dust storm.  CNN

Lockerbie Bombing: Two Libyans Identified as Suspects
Two Libyans have been identified as official suspects by Scottish and US prosecutors over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing in their investigation. The Crown Office in Edinburgh confirmed on Thursday that Scotland’s chief prosecutor, lord advocate Frank Mulholland, had issued a formal international letter of request to the Libyan attorney general asking for permission to interview both men. Despite the chaos and continuing violence in Libya since Muammar Gaddafi was deposed in 2011, Scottish officials and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation have been pursuing other suspects in the bombing of flight Pan Am 103 which killed 270 passengers, crew and townspeople over and in the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988.  The Guardian

Kinshasa, Chinese Partners Near deal for $660 million Power Plant: DR Congo Rising?
SICOMINES, a joint venture between a group of Chinese companies and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Gecamines SA, is close to agreeing terms for the development of a 240-megawatt, $660 million hydropower plant that will meet the mining project’s electricity requirements within four years. “We have discussed the project for a long time and we are now aligned,” Moise Ekanga, executive secretary of the Office for the Coordination and Monitoring of the Sino-Congolese Programme, said in an interview in Kinshasa, the capital. “We are in the process of establishing the company that will own the concession to develop the project.” The Busanga plant and the 6.8 million metric-ton copper concession that Sicomines plans to develop are in the southeastern Katanga region, where electricity is increasingly scarce. Mail and Guardian

Economic Slowdown Prompts Scrutiny of African Data
A dip in the fortunes of many African economies has raised doubts about the accuracy of the heady statistics that lured hordes of investors during the “Africa Rising” boom years. Sub-Saharan Africa has achieved annual growth of more than five percent over the last decade, and foreign investment has more than quadrupled over the same period, as acommodities boom and an increase in consumer spending drove bumper returns. But a slowdown in China has depressed demand and global prices for the commoditiesexports that many African nations rely on, prompting the IMF and World Bank to slash economic growth forecasts this month. This cold dose of reality has raised questions about Africa’s ability to cope with weak prices for oil, minerals and farm produce that investors rarely asked during the good times. Reuters

Low Rainfall, Crippling Power Shortages Hit Zambia’s Economy
Brenda Nglazi Zulu has tried to adapt to the power cuts that sometimes leave her home in the capital Lusaka without electricity for half the day. She bought a gas stove and installed solar panels to help keep her lights on. But the cost to her career as a freelance journalist and researcher is becoming intolerable. Her monthly income has dropped by more than half, because most of the day she can’t work at all. “I now only work when electricity is available to power my mobile phone and my laptop,” said Zulu, 45. “Initially it used to be two to four hours of no electricity, but now we go eight hours to 12 hours a day without power.” With increasingly erratic seasonal rainfall causing severe water shortages at Zambia’s hydropower plants, Zesco, the country’s sole power utility, says it has been forced to cut back on electricity supply to households and industries. VOA