Media Review for October 20, 2015

The High Stakes and Low Suspense of Côte d’Ivoire’s Upcoming Elections
In Côte d’Ivoire’s upcoming election this Sunday, there will be 8 candidates competing for the presidency – though one wouldn’t be able to tell from travelling around Abidjan. Around the city, there are hundreds of bright, sleek campaign billboards, but they are almost all for incumbent President Alassane Dramane Ouattara (known as ‘ADO’). Adorned with the national colours of orange, white, and green, their powerful marketing signals to Ivoirians that a vote for Ouattara is a vote for the entire country. The difficulty of spotting billboards for the president’s opponents meanwhile reflects the general feeling here that Ouattara will win a second term – whether in the first round on 25 October or in the run-off on 22 November. African Arguments on allAfrica Ivory Coast’s Ouattara to Push for New Constitution if Re-Elected
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said on Monday he would push for constitutional reform if he wins re-election this week to scrap a nationality clause that helped drag his West African nation into a decade-long crisis. Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, has long been a magnet for immigrants from neighboring countries. Ivorian nationality became a burning political issue at the heart of a 2002-2003 civil war that divided the country in two for eight years. Ouattara himself was barred from seeking the presidency over what opponents said were his foreign origins before finally winning election in 2010, though his victory sparked a second brief civil conflict that killed more than 3,000 people.  Reuters This is What you Need to Know about Xenophobia and this Sunday’s Elections in Côte d’Ivoire
With presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire scheduled for Oct. 25, few doubt that incumbent Alassane Ouattara will win another five-year term. The main question is whether he will win in the first round against a fragmented opposition or require a run-off. With the economy booming and thousands of newly-naturalized citizens supporting him, the election is Ouattara’s to lose. The context is dramatically different from that of October 2010, when elections were finally held after nearly a decade of conflict between Côte d’Ivoire’s predominantly Muslim north and largely Christian south. After the polls closed, then-President Laurent Gbagbo, a southerner, and challenger Ouattara, a northerner, both claimed victory. Violence between their supporters left 3,000 dead before Gbagbo was arrested in April 2011 and turned over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges of crimes against humanity. Ouattara was inaugurated as president and has received considerable international support, even as opponents argue that his side should also be brought to justice for their role in the violence. The Washington Post

Egypt Enters Second Day of Election Without Voters
Egyptians appeared to be shunning the ballot box for a second day on Monday in what one newspaper called “an election without voters”, highlighting growing disillusionment since the army seized power in 2013 and promised to restore democracy. Voting got off to a slow start, a day after polling stations visited by Reuters correspondents pointed to a turnout of around 10 percent in sharp contrast to the long lines and enthusiasm in the 2012 election. Younger Egyptians who make up the majority of the population were virtually absent, with many people dismissing it as a sham or expressing doubt that new lawmakers would change anything. News 24

26 Egyptian Officers Allegedly Jailed for Plotting Coup Against Sisi
A military court in Egypt has sentenced 26 army officers to jail, after being convicted on charges that included plotting for a military coup. The officers, four of whom are retired colonels, were given sentences ranging from 10 to 25 years. According to BBC Arabic, which broke the news on Sunday, other charges include the disclosure of military secrets, and membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government classifies as a terrorist organisation. Two members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hilmi al-Jazzar and Mohamed Abdel Rahman, were both sentenced in absentia to 25 years in prison. This is the first time that military officers have been indicted for plotting a coup against the current Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who, then serving as head of the army, seized power in a military coup against the country’s first elected leader Mohammed Morsi.  Middle East Eye

When it Comes to Democracy, Egyptians Hate the Player but Tunisians Hate the Game
Many hoped the protests associated with the Arab uprisings would unleash a democratic wave in the region, sweeping out autocrats who had withheld political voice from generations of Arabs. Yet rather than producing liberalized polities, with the possible exception of Tunisia, the uprisings primarily led to either devastating civil conflict or the resurgence of authoritarian regimes. How have these events affected how Arab publics think about democracy? Has the nearly universal failure of the uprisings to yield democracy lead citizens to give up on democracy as a system of governance? My forthcoming article in the Journal of Democracy, argues that the uprisings had a surprisingly small effect on attitudes of ordinary citizens toward democracy — likely because the uprisings were not really about democracy in the first place. However, it also finds some notable shifts in public opinion, particularly in Egypt and Tunisia.  The Washington Post

Pope to Visit Mosque, Slum, Refugee Camp in Africa
Pope Francis will visit a refugee camp and a mosque in the Central African Republic as well as a slum in Kenya during a trip to Africa next month loaded with potential security risks. The pontiff will be in Kenya from November 25 to 27, spend the next two days in Uganda and travel on to the Central African Republic (CAR), where the trip will end on November 30, according to a Vatican itinerary published Saturday. The three countries have significant Catholic communities and have been troubled by civil conflicts and violence, which will increase concerns surrounding possible attacks during the visit.  The Daily Monitor

Tanzania: 149 EU Election Observers Expected at Polling Stations
The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) is set to deploy  140 election observers to all polling stations on Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar, officials said on Sunday. Deputy Chief Observer, Ms Tania Marques said a core team of 10 election analysts arrived in Dar es Salaam and on the Zanzibar Island since early September and will remain in the country as long-term observers until early November. The Citizen

African Standby Force Starts First Military Exercises
Members of the African Union’s new 25,000-strong multinational standby force are gathering to begin field training for the first time. The exercises in South Africa aim to make sure the force is ready by January to respond to crises across the continent. The force will be made up of five brigades from Africa’s economic blocs. It is being set up to avoid reliance on the outside world in peacekeeping across the continent. BBC

Further Call on the French Government to Release Archives Dating Back to the Rwandan Genocide
Anti-racist groups in France held talks at the French Senate to call on the government to release archives dating back to the Rwandan genocide. Rights groups have denounced the shroud of secrecy surrounding this dark chapter in world history and have claimed that French officials are hiding the truth.  RFI

Somalia Clan Clashes Kill 14
At least 14 people were killed and 20 others injured on Monday in deadly clashes in central Somalia, witnesses and officials said. Rival clan militias engaged in street battles in the town of Beledweyne following a dispute over tax collection, witnesses said. Beledweyne is 335 kilometers north of Mogadishu. Most of the wounded are said to be civilians caught in the crossfire. A local journalist who was video-recording the fighting was injured. Efforts are underway to mediate the dispute. Local elder Abdi Ali Boreh urged African Union troops in the city to help separate the rival sides. VOA

US Lifts Travel Warning on Kenyan Coast
The United States government has lifted travel restrictions it issued to its citizens on visits to most parts of Kenya’s coastal region. The US Embassy stated travel restrictions to Malindi through Mombasa and Kwale counties to the Tanzanian border had been lifted. “There are no longer general restrictions on travel to Malindi city in Kilifi County through Mombasa and Kwale counties to the Tanzanian border,” an email sent to its citizens and staff stated. The US, however, restricted its staff from traveling to towns near the border with Somalia and cautioned them against using the Likoni ferry in Mombasa.  Daily Nation

African Union Urged to Hasten Troop Deployment to Burundi
The African Union’s peace and security council on Saturday recommended the organisation hasten plans for sending troops to Burundi if violence in the country worsens and called for investigations into rights abuses there. The council also said the union would impose sanctions against anyone who incited further violence in Burundi. Burundi has suffered months of violent turmoil since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April he would seek a third term, a move that triggered protests and a failed coup. The opposition said the president’s decision violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005. Nkurunziza won the July 21 election that was boycotted by his opponents. In recent weeks Burundi has seen increased shootings and grenade attacks targeting top government officials and members of the opposition. The East African

AFP and RFI file Lawsuit after Correspondent Beaten in Burundi
Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Radio France International (RFI) on Monday filed a complaint after their correspondent in Burundi was held and badly beaten after being arrested by security forces in August. Burundian journalist Esdras Ndikumana, 54, was taking pictures at the scene where a top general was assassinated in the capital Bujumbura on August 2 when he was detained by members of the National Intelligence Service (SNR). He was held for around two hours, during which he was subjected to severe beatings on his back, legs and the soles of his feet. He was hospitalised following the ordeal. “One of those who was torturing me wanted to take my wedding ring,” Ndikumana told AFP-TV in an interview on Monday.  AFP on Yahoo News

Uganda: Government Targets Houses, Cars in New Spy Operation
The government is bugging residential and office buildings, vehicles, electronic gadgets and business centres in at least 21 posh city hotels under a mass surveillance scheme, leaked details of the covert operation show. Government on Friday denied the allegations raised by UK charity organisation, Privacy International, that it is using the Complete IT Intrusion Portfolio acquired from the London-headquarted Gamma International group, to extra-judicially collect Ugandans’ personal information. According to intelligence briefing prepared for President Museveni, which Privacy International accessed to author its report, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) launched the spy programme on December 5, 2012.  The Monitor

Libya’s Recognized Parliament Rejects U.N. Proposal for Unity Government
Libya’s internationally-recognized parliament decided on Monday to reject a United Nations proposal for a unity government, lawmakers said, in a blow to efforts to end a political crisis. But the House of Representatives (HoR) said it would continue to take part in U.N.-backed peace talks with its rivals, based in the capital, Tripoli. Libya is in the grip of a war between the internationally-recognized government and its elected parliament on the one side and an unofficial self-styled government controlling Tripoli. Each side is backed by rival alliances of armed factions. Four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Western powers are pushing for both sides to accept the U.N. accord, fearing violence has allowed Islamist militants to gain ground and illegal migrant smugglers to take advantage of the chaos. Reuters

Five Dead in Libyan Shelling as IS Claims Two Executions
Five people were killed by shelling in the Libyan city of Benghazi late Monday, a local hospital reported, as the Islamic State group claimed it had executed two men in the east of the war-torn country. The Al-Jalaa hospital in Benghazi announced on Facebook that four people were killed in the shelling and a fifth died in hospital, while three others were injured. “Most of (the casualties are) children under the age of 10,” it said. A military source in Benghazi confirmed the incident, which happened in the central area of Laithi, but refused to say who was behind the violence. AFP on Yahoo News

Meet the Libyan Coast Guard: Few Ships, no Lights, Little Hope of Stopping Migrants
We sped through the Mediterranean in the Libyan coast guard’s tiny gray skiff, rocked by the small swells that marked the end of summer. It was another morning patrol in the longtime smuggling capital of North Africa. The six officers on board stared at the horizon looking for something that resembled a migrant boat. Behind them, the coastline was littered with the remains of vessels that had capsized, and the clothes of people who had drowned. At the wheel, the commander of the unit, Lt. Col. Assam Tor, was the only one who spoke. “Even the migrants have bigger boats,” he said, shaking his head as a wave crested over the brim, his men looking on blankly, lacking the equipment and the will to do much at all. The Washington Post

The Boko Haram War Machine Is Far from Defeated
This increase in direct military action may have forced Boko Haram underground, and allowed the Nigerian government to retake much of its territory. However, the government has been unable to exercise control and governance over the ostensibly recovered territory. Far from defeated, Boko Haram has yet again shown its flexibility and sophistication by shifting tactics and returning to the more asymmetric fighting strategy it had been using for years. In fact, there was an overall decrease in Boko Haram related violence and deaths since January. However, over the last four weeks, there has been a significant resurgence in violence. Since giving up territorial control, Boko Haram has made much greater use of  suicide attacks. It is safe to say that the group will continue to use this tactic as it is so hard to defend against. In most cases, the bombers appear to be women. DefenseOne

Nigerian Intelligence Arrests Biafran Separatist Leader
Nigerian intelligence agents have arrested a broadcaster calling for the peaceful secession of the southeast from Nigeria, according to two Biafra separatist groups whose cause prompted a civil war in the 1960s that killed an estimated 1 million people. Radio Biafra director Nnamdi Kanu was detained Saturday as he was about to fly to London from Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, said the Indigenous People of Biafra and the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra. It was not immediately possible to get comment from the Department of State Security. In July, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government said it had jammed Radio Biafra’s signal because it is unlicensed but the station is still able to broadcast, airing grievances of the Igbo people. The Igbos fought a civil war to form an independent nation called Biafra in the late 1960s that killed about 1 million people, mostly Igbos from conflict-induced famine.  AP on Yahoo News

Global Witness: How 4 African Countries Lost $4 billion
A watchdog group says four African countries lost more than $4 billion in shady oil and mining deals and calls for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to police the hidden ownership of companies used for such corruption. Global Witness details contracts in Nigeria, Angola, Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo and “lays bare how anonymous companies facilitate the loss of national wealth on an epic scale.” The report questions the role of international oil companies that facilitate such deals. AP

Algeria’s Generational  Change
And then there was one. Three men dominated in the Algeria that emerged from the 1990s conflict between a directionless state and radical Islam: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika; the longstanding secretary-general of the presidency, Larbi Belkheir; and the man who presided over the pervasive Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS).  military intelligence service for 24 years, Lieutenant General Mohamed Mediène. Belkheir died in 2010. The dismissal on 13 September of the DRS head, most often known by his nom de guerre, ‘Toufik,’ leaves only an ailing Bouteflika in place. In the power vacuum that emains, Algeria’s chattering classes are speaking openly about the fall of a generation of ‘untouchables.’  The Africa Reports

Muzzling Dissent in Morocco
As a monarchy committed to democracy, Morocco has a favorable image as one of the most stable countries in North Africa and the Middle East. But that reputation is being threatened by a government campaign of intimidation against journalists and rights groups. The monarchy of King Mohammed VI took welcome steps after the Arab Spring protests of 2011 to open Morocco to more democratic participation, including drafting a new constitution and holding parliamentary elections. Last month, local and regional elections were held successfully. Sadly, against the backdrop of these democratic successes, the Moroccan government is targeting journalists who dare to report news it doesn’t like, with intimidation, harassment and jail sentences for vague crimes like defaming the state. In August , Samad Lach, a human-rights activist and a member of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalism, was put under a travel ban after being interrogated and charged with a barrage of supposed crimes, including “working for foreign agendas.”  The New York Times

‘Slaves by the Will of God’: Why Mauritania has the Highest Percentage of Slaves in the World
Mbarka Mint Essatim wondered why the other girls didn’t have to scrub the dishes or sweep the floors clean of Sahara sand. At family meals, she waited until the others were finished, and then ate the leftovers alone. If she was slow with the washing up, they beat her. She slept on a mat outside the house, and didn’t go to school. This was the only life Essatim knew. The family, part of Mauritania’s Arab-Berber minority known as “White Moors,” would tell people that she was their child. But as Essatim grew older, her “uncle” began touching her inappropriately. Globalpost

Thousands of Rhinos, 500 Poachers; Grim Toll in the Hunt for Prized Horns
[…] South Africa has more than four-fifths of the world’s rhino population. Poaching is at an unprecedented level, driven by demand in countries such as Vietnam, where horns, used in traditional medicine or as a middle-class delicacy, fetch up to $65,000 (£42,000) a kilo, more expensive than gold. A record 1,215 rhinos were killed last year, almost treble the 448 lost in 2011. As of late August this year, 749 rhinos were known to have been poached – 544 of them in Kruger park, where officials estimate 6,000 well-armed poachers are at large. But there is another, less reported death toll. Nearly 500 poachers from neighbouring Mozambique alone have been shot dead by rangers in Kruger park over the past five years, it was claimed recently. Joaquim Chissano, Mozambique’s former president, said 82 alleged poachers from the country were killed in the first half of this year, describing them as “destitute, poor people recruited by crime networks who make the real money … Each of these dead Mozambicans means more poverty for his family, because they can no longer count on him to fight for better living conditions,” Chissano noted.  The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones