Media Review for October 27, 2015

Today’s News

Congo Voters Approve Denis Sassou Nguesso’s Third-Term Bid
More than 90% of voters in Congo-Brazzaville’s controversial referendum have approved constitutional changes to allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to run for a third term, results show. Under the current constitution, the president has been unable to seek re-election because he is over the age of 70 and has already served two terms. The opposition say turnout was low and the vote should be annulled. However, official results put the turnout in Sunday’s referendum at 72%. More than 1.2 million people voted in favour of the change, while nearly 102,000 rejected it, the electoral commission said.  BBC Opposition Says Congo Referendum Should be Annulled Due to Low Turnout
A referendum held in Congo Republic to decide whether the president can legally stand for a third consecutive term should be cancelled due to low turnout, a senior opposition leader said on Monday. An opposition boycott of Sunday’s referendum means the country’s veteran ruler, President Denis Sassou Nguesso, is likely to have won voters’ support, paving the way for him to run in an election next year and potentially extend his decades-long rule over the oil-producing central African country. “It (the turnout) totally discredits the referendum. Either they annul it or else he will impose a dictatorship and the Congolese will not accept it,” said opposition leader Pascal Tsaty Mabiala, secretary of the Pan-African Union for Social Democracy party. “The smart thing would be to annul the referendum,” he told Reuters by telephone. Reuters

Observers give Ivorian vote thumbs-up in boost to Ouattara
Observers gave Ivory Coast’s weekend presidential ballot a clean bill of health on Monday, despite complaints from opposition candidates, in a boost to President Alassane Ouattara who is widely expected to be re-elected. A former senior IMF official, Ouattara has led the West African nation to an economic revival in the wake of a 2011 civil war, helped by a boom in cocoa production for the world’s largest grower. Electoral officials said participation in Sunday’s election was a healthy 60 percent, allaying fears of weak turnout. The commercial capital, Abidjan, was calm on Monday, though traffic was light, as the nation of more than 20 million people awaited initial results from the Independent Elections Commission (CEI) expected in the late afternoon.  Reuters

Ivory Coast presidential vote turnout ‘around 60 percent’
Turnout in Ivory Coast’s presidential election on Sunday was around 60 percent, a senior electoral official said on Monday, allaying fears that poor participation would mar a vote expected to return President Alassane Ouattara to office. “The participation rate is around 60 percent – a figure which will become more precise as results gradually come in,” said the vice-president of the Independent Electoral Commission, Sorou Kone.  France 24

Tensions rise in Tanzania as ruling party takes early lead
An opposition candidate in Zanzibar unilaterally declared himself the winner of the island’s presidential election and security agents arrested 191 people during a night raid on opposition tally centres amidst rising tensions as results of Tanzania’s most competitive election since Independence started trickling in. Official results released on Monday by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) put John Pombe Magufuli, the presidential candidate of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, in the lead, winning 10 of the 264 constituencies reporting, while his main rival, Edward Lowassa of Chadema won in three. The official tally released so far by Monday evening were from marginal constituencies and likely to change when results from bigger regions come in. Some 23 million Tanzanians were registered to vote and more than half of all voters live in nine major regions of the country, none of which was yet to report fully by press time.  The East African

EU Invites Burundi for Talks as Countryside Violence Spreads
The European Union invited Burundi’s government to talks in an attempt to restore peace, as violence spurred by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s re-election left six people dead across the nation over the past two days. The EU is requesting consultations with Burundi under procedures in the EU-African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Partnership Agreement, a pact for development cooperation, it said Monday in a statement. The EU said the invite comes “in the event of failure to respect essential elements of the agreement, namely human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law.”  Bloomberg

Looking Beyond Mugabe
Robert Mugabe. When cameras caught him stumbling down the steps of a podium in February, photographers were forced to delete the images and several bodyguards were later fired. Nevertheless, photoshopped pictures of the nonagenarian dictator went viral. Some show him sprinting up a football field, riding a surfboard, astride a missile, and were almost affectionate. Others might be tactfully described as vulgar, hostile — and symbolic of his approaching end. […] It is a question of growing importance in a country beset by so many self-inflicted wounds — from Mr. Mugabe’s ruinous land redistribution effort that destroyed a prosperous agricultural sector and fueled the flight of white farmers, to the rampant corruption and political violence that has caused Western aid to shrink.  The New York Times

Why some African leaders cling to power, whilst others walk away
Following a weekend of elections on the African Continent, analysts are drawing parallels between Congo-Brazzaville and Tanzania even before results are announced. One leader is accused of tampering with the constitution to extend his grip on power, whilst the other has been credited with respecting presidential term limits.  RFI

Forget Benghazi. What About Libya?
There is the House Select Committee on Benghazi, of course. But Thursday’s spectacle, in which former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified, focused on events that occurred three years ago. None of our leaders in Congress or in the administration seem to acknowledge the need to help Libya right now. […] Libya is of crucial strategic importance to the United States. Geographically, it is a gateway to and from Africa. The Islamic State is beginning to establish a foothold there, and if it gets hold of the country’s enormous oil wealth, the results will be disastrous. Libya can either be a helpful, stable ally to the United States or a failed state, awash with displaced persons and a base of operations for terrorists. The New York Times

HRW meets Gaddafi’s son
Human Rights Watch said on Monday it had been able to meet slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s son Saadi in a Tripoli prison, where he said his rights were being violated. “He said lawyers were not present during any of the interrogation sessions, where, he alleged, prosecution officials had intimidated and threatened him and other witnesses,” the New York-based rights group reported. Gaddafi’s third oldest son spoke to HRW without guards present on September 15 at Al-Hadba prison, in what appeared to be his first meeting with a rights organisation since his extradition from Niger in March 2014, it said. Saadi Gaddafi had sought refuge in Niger after the 2011 popular uprising that toppled his father. IOL News

Libyan Red Crescent reports 40 bodies washed up: IOM
The Libyan Red Crescent reported 40 bodies were found on its coastline near the ports of Zlit and Khoms, according to a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration who said on Monday they may be victims of a week-old shipwreck. At least 3,175 migrants and refugees have died trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea this year, the vast majority on the route from Libya towards Italy, according to IOM data. IOM spokesman Joel Millman said he did not have any information on when the people had died.  Reuters

“I Was Never Prouder to be a Young African.” The South African Student Protests Were a Lesson of a Lifetime
It all started at the University of Witswatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg.  By the end of the week, protests had spread across universities in South Africa.  From the big universities with large student populations, to smaller, more modest-sized universities, everyone was involved in the student protests.  Proposed fee hikes energised both learners and lecturers into action.  Lectures were cancelled.  Institutions were shut down.  People took to the streets. And unfortunately, the police got involved. When police clashed with protesters at the University of Cape Town, the protests could no longer be ignored. UN Dispatch

Mozambique gas projects raise risk of resource “curse”
Carlos Candido has been fishing in Mozambican waters for three decades, unaware until recently of huge gas deposits beneath the ocean floor. Now the gas wealth is about to be released, Candido wishes it had never been found. Up the coast from where he lives in northern Mozambique, thousands of people face resettlement to make way for planned gas projects in an area where money is already starting to flow, bringing unwanted consequences such as a rise in prostitution. Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest countries, discovered the reserves off its coast between 2010-2013, offering an opportunity to transform the former Portuguese colony which was ravaged by a 16-year civil war that ended in 1992. Reuters

Ooni of Ife: New Yoruba king named in Nigeria
A 40-year-old accountant has been named the new Ooni of Ife – a revered monarch in south-west Nigeria. Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is the new king, one of the most influential among the Yoruba people, Nigeria’s second biggest ethnic group, who number about 35 million in West Africa. He is a prince from one of the ruling houses in the Ife kingdom. The previous Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade, died in a London clinic in July aged 85. BBC

Nigerian military forms new brigade to fight Boko Haram: chief
Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Monday said a new Task Force Brigade in restive northeast town of Beneshiek in Borno State was strategically established to end insurgency. Buratai made the remarks while addressing soldiers deployed to the new brigade in Beneshiek and Ngamdu. This location is very important and strategic, he said, noting that the new Task Force has great impact toward defeating the Boko Haram group. “You are better trained and equipped than the criminals and you have to be professional and responsive,” he added. “You should have no excuse not to be on patrol, ambush or raid operations,” he said. Xinhua

Nigeria: Lagos to Deploy Drones to Combat Crime
The Lagos State Government has disclosed that it may deploy drones in addition to the 1,000 CCTV surveillance camera mounted across Lagos as part of the efforts to effectively monitor developments and collect data in the state. Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Olufemi Odubiyi revealed this during a chat with journalists in Lagos. “The use of unmanned drones to effectively receive updates and monitor developments in a megacity of our size may also not be out of place,” he said. Odubiyi said there was urgent need to upgrade and add to the existing 1,000 CCTV cameras in the state to complement the other crime prevention initiatives of the government which include the Security Trust Fund, Street Signage, House Numbering and the provision of three-digit number for emergency calls. The Daily Trust on allAfrica

Warlord Kony killing Congo elephants, selling ivory in Sudan
African warlord Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in Congo are killing elephants for their ivory, which they trade for supplies in Sudanese-controlled territory, according to a new report released Monday by the watchdog group Enough Project. The ivory is trafficked from Congo’s Garamba National Park, where the animals are poached, to Kafia Kingi, an enclave controlled by Sudan, where the rebels deal with Sudanese merchants to get food, uniforms and ammunition, said the report that is based on interviews with defectors from the rebels. Rebel commanders, under direct orders from Kony, have also traded with Sudanese military officers, said the report. One group of rebels based in the park poaches elephants and secures the ivory, and then another group transports the ivory from northeastern Congo through Central African Republic to Kafia Kingi, the report charges. “The tusks are likely trafficked to Nyala, South Darfur, and on to Khartoum for export abroad, primarily to Asia,” it said.  AP

South Sudan Makes Progress on Cease-fire
South Sudan’s rebels signed an agreement Monday to finalize the implementation of the security arrangements that were part of an August peace accord. Fighting has continued despite that cease-fire, but this latest development has all parties hopeful. The government delegation and a group of former political leaders and detainees signed the agreement in September, but the rebels had refused. General Taban Deng Gai said the rebels delayed because they were concerned about the volume of troops in the capital city, Juba. VOA
Egypt says 2 senior Muslim Brotherhood officials arrested
Egypt’s state-run news agency says security forces have arrested the secretary general of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, and another high-ranking Brotherhood member. The news agency says on Monday Hussein Ibrahim, the dissolved party’s secretary general, and El-Refei Hassan, were hiding in the western Mediterranean province of Marsa Matrouh on Egypt’s north coast. It says they have confessed they were trying to reach Libya. The Muslim Brotherhood has been facing a mass crackdown since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led a July 2013 military ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, a longtime Brotherhood official, amid mass protests against his rule. Morsi is now in jail, the Brotherhood was designated a terrorist organization in December 2013, and the party dissolved in August last year.  AP

Conde faces battle to revive Guinea economy after reelection
Guinean President Alpha Conde’s emphatic reelection appears to have subdued a combative opposition but a lingering Ebola outbreak and a slump in metals prices are dogging his plan to revive the West African state’s economy. Frequent demonstrations by opposition parties angry at Conde’s election in 2010 deterred investors during his first five-year term. At least 60 people died in protests in Africa’s largest exporter of bauxite, the raw material for aluminum. But this time the opposition has failed to take to the streets despite crying fraud at Conde’s presidential election victory on Oct. 11, when he won 58 percent of the 4 million votes cast. Reuters

In Somaliland, go-slow nation building spurs exodus to Europe
While the numbers are a fraction of the more than half a million migrants who have crossed European Union borders this year, their mass emigration has been gnawing at the fabric of Somaliland’s 3.5 million population. Dubbed a “national tragedy,” this youth flight is stressing tightly knit communities and deepening the poverty that many of them struggle with. And officials also appear at a loss as to how to stem the growing exodus.   It’s increasingly becoming a question of when a young person will leave, not if.   Somaliland, a territory that is not internationally recognized, has prided itself on its stability. Since it broke from neighboring Somalia almost 15 years ago, it has developed, against all odds, a working political system, government institutions, a police force, and its own currency. Yet development has not kept pace with a younger generation’s appetite for professional jobs, nor created policies that engage them. Many are restless and bored, and their flight eats at the potential of a country hungry to be acknowledged by the international community.  CS Monitor

China rides the rails of Ethiopia’s development
Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Rail project opened last month to the delight of excited residents of the country’s capital. The $475m urban rail project – funded by China – is one of the most obvious examples of Beijing’s huge role in Ethiopia’s infrastructure development. The world’s most populous nation has also built dams, roads, and factories in Ethiopia, and even gifted Addis Ababa the African Union headquarters, which cost $200m. Gedion Gamora, a research fellow at Erasmus Mundus University in the Netherlands, said while the relationship between China and Ethiopia goes back to ancient times, formal relations between the countries began only in 1970. Ironically, though, the Marxist-inspired Ethiopian revolution of 1974 put a damper on the countries’ ties for the next 17 years. Ethiopia’s closeness with the Soviet Union meant its relations with China, then a Russian rival, were minimal. Al Jazeera

Nigeria telecom giant MTN fined a record $5.2bn
Telecom giant MTN Nigeria has been fined a record $5.2bn by Nigeria’s Communications Commission (NCC). MTN was fined for non-compliance with a deadline set by the NCC to disconnect all non-registered sim cards. The move follows accusations by mobile phone users that the regulator had failed to bring operators to account for poor services to subscribers. MTN Nigeria says it is studying the letter sent to it by the regulator and will respond soon. MTN is one of the largest phone providers in Nigeria. BBC

Another 22 elephants poisoned with cyanide in Zimbabwe reserve
Zimbabwean rangers have found the bodies of 22 more elephants that were poisoned with cyanide in the country’s Hwange national park. The grim discovery brings to 62 the number of elephants poisoned by poachers in this southern Africa country in October.  Rangers found the carcasses of the elephants in Hwange park’s Sinamatella area on Monday morning, spokeswoman for the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority said on Monday. “Again, it is cyanide poisoning. We suspect poachers are responsible,” Caroline Washaya-Moyo told the Associated Press. She said she does not yet know how many ivory tusks were taken from the killed elephants.  The Guardian

    



Photo: Adam Jones