Media Review for October 28, 2015

Today’s News

Constitutions and Conflict Management in Africa
[…] Across forms of constitutional design, the quality of political institutions was found to be critical to conflict management. A free press and space for civil society, an independent electoral commission, an apolitical judicial systems, and a merit-based civil service, for example, were demonstrated to be vital means by which constitutional protections were upheld whether more accommodative or integrative. Lacking these independent institutions, powerful political actors were more easily able to bulldoze over or reinterpret constitutional restrictions to suit their interests. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Referendum Prompts ‘Civil Disobedience’ Calls in Congo
A Congolese opposition coalition has called for a “civil disobedience” protest after voters overwhelmingly approved changes to the constitution that will allow President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his three-decade rule. The government said early on Tuesday that a total of 92.3 percent of people voting in the central African country on October 25 backed the initiative to scrap an age ceiling of 70 as well as a two-term limit. “We will maintain civil disobedience until the withdrawal of the planned constitution, which is a masquerade,” said the FROCAD opposition coalition spokesman Guy-Romain Kinfoussia. Official results put turnout at  72.4 percent. On Monday, FROCAD leader Pascal Tsaty Mabiala estimated turnout at about 10 percent. Al Jazeera

Huge Win for Ivory Coast President
Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara has won a second five-year term with nearly 84% of the vote, electoral commission officials say. His previous victory was rejected by the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, sparking a civil war which killed 3,000 people. Mr Ouattara’s closest challenger, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, got 9%. He is an ally of Mr Gbagbo who faces trial at the International Criminal Court. Several candidates withdrew from the poll, saying it was not free and fair. However, on Monday US election observers said the election was credible. BBC

Jailed Ex-President Lingers as a Force in Ivorian Vote
[…] The long standoff exposed old wounds in the nation that at the time had barely healed from a bloody civil war that started in the early 2000s. Some human rights groups also accuse Mr. Ouattara ’s camp of atrocities but he has faced no charges. Mr. Gbagbo maintains a huge following of loyalists in Ivory Coast, many of whom feel he was the true winner of the 2010 elections and was unjustly ousted by meddling international forces who wanted to hand power to Mr. Ouattara. “A lot of people who support him think he was railroaded,” said John Mukum Mbaku, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and economics professor at Weber State University in Utah. “It could be a problem.” Some of Mr. Ouattara ’s opponents are running on a Gbagbo platform, pledging their allegiance to him. At a rally last week in the Marcory neighborhood, young people on scooters popped wheelies to thumping loud music with lyrics switched to praise Mr. Gbagbo and the opposition candidate who made a crowd-pleasing campaign pledge. The New York Times

Tanzania Ruling Party CCM on Course for Lean Parliament Majority
The candidate of the ruling CCM party, John Pombe Magufuli, leads Tanzania’s presidential race after a tally of official results late on Tuesday put him ahead of nearest rival, Edward Lowassa of Chadema and the opposition Ukawa alliance. Delays in releasing the results, however, continued to stoke tensions and police were deployed in many parts of the country and in parts of the capital, Dar es Salaam, as the anxiety threatened to spill over into violence. CCM, which has governed Tanzania since independence from Britain in 1961, was also on course to win a reduced majority in Parliament, although the status of Zanzibar remained contested after the opposition claimed it had narrowly won the presidency of the islands for the first time. The East African

Tension in Tanzania Poll Count as Ministers Lose Seats
Tanzania’s ruling party presidential candidate took an early lead on Tuesday as election officials counted votes in a close race for a second day, while several key ministers lost their seats. The polls are expected to be Tanzania’s tightest election ever, with the governing party facing the first major challenge to its dominance in decades. Amid growing tension, the election commission has called for calm and warned only it can declare results. “People should ignore announcements by other institutions and individuals,” National Electoral Commission (NEC) head Damian Lubuva told reporters.  News 24

Zanzibar Opposition Claims Election Victory
An opposition party in the island archipelago of Zanzibar declared victory in a presidential election even as official tallying continued, raising tensions as mainland Tanzania awaited official poll results. Maalim Seif Hamad of the Civic United Front party announced on Monday that he had won the Zanzibar presidential election, saying he beat his rival, Ali Mohamed Shein of Tanzania’s ruling party, with more than 52 percent of the vote. Although part of Tanzania, Zanzibar is run by a semi-autonomous government with its own president. “Our supporters know we have won. They have gathered to celebrate. They have been extremely patient and it would be counterproductive to attempt to trick them out of their moment,” he said in a statement. Al Jazeera

What do Burundi, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Algeria, Tunisia, Cameroon, Uganda, Chad, Congo, Rwanda, Have in Common?
Since African nations won independence, many leaders have tried, often successfully, to stay in power by amending their constitutions to change the cap set on presidential mandates. The latest example is veteran Congo ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso, whose government on Tuesday claimed a landslide victory in a referendum on changes to the constitution that would make him eligible to contest elections next year, extending his three-decade stay in power. There are critics of term limits, who have supported various presidents in their moves to scrap term limits. They say term limits are “foreign” to Africa, and that it is “undemocratic” to deny the people the right to give a good leader a continued in office. Mail and Guardian

Libya Militia Commanders Killed as Helicopter ‘Shot Down’
A number of senior Libyan Islamist militia leaders were killed on Tuesday night after a helicopter was shot down near the capital Tripoli, authorities said. At least 14 people were killed and all 23 occupants were feared dead after the helicopter, which was ferrying the commanders and large amounts of cash to pay salaries for their men, came down just offshore near the settlement of al-Maya, between Tripoli and the town immediately to its west, Zawiya. “It was shot by an ant-aircraft gun about 25 km west of Tripoli,” said Jamal Zubia, a spokesman for the Tripoli authorities. “We have no doubt that this was a deliberate attack.”  The Telegraph

Nigerian Troops Rescue 338 People Held by Boko Haram: Army
Nigerian troops have rescued 338 people, mainly women and children, held by Boko Haram Islamists around the group’s Sambisa forest stronghold in the restive northeast, the army said Wednesday. “The (army) unit … rescued 338 persons that were held captive by the terrorists,” the army said of an operation on Tuesday, adding that 192 of the survivors were children and 138 women. The raid targeted “suspected Boko Haram terrorist camps at Bulajilin and Manawashe villages” on the edge of the Sambisa forest, the army said in a statement, adding that troops killed 30 suspected jihadists and seized a cache of arms and ammunition. The Nigerian military has in recent months claimed a string of successes against Boko Haram in its quest to end the hardline Islamist group’s six-year insurgency.  AFP on Yahoo News

US Condemns Latest Boko Haram Attacks
The United States Tuesday condemned last week’s “horrific and indiscriminate attacks” in northeastern Nigeria carried out by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. The October 23 and 24 bombings occurred at the newly built Jambutu Mosque in Yola, the capital of Adamawa state, and a neighborhood mosque in Maiduguri in Borno state, as well as other locations in that city. The attacks left 61 people dead. “We offer our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones of the many innocent civilians who were killed and injured,” U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday. VOA

Shabaab’s Leadership Fights Islamic State’s Attempted Expansion in East Africa
The Islamic State has made a big push to win the loyalty of Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in East Africa, and fighters in its ranks. For months, Islamic State boosters on social media have predicted Shabaab’s imminent defection. And the “caliphate” recently released numerous propaganda videos encouraging Somali jihadists to switch their allegiance from al Qaeda head Ayman al Zawahiri to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed “Caliph Ibrahim.” The videos targeting Shabaab’s rank and file have starred jihadists in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.  Long War Journal

Rebels, Security Forces Battle in Burundi
Gunmen and security forces battled in a series of deadly clashes in Burundi, police said on Tuesday, the latest violence since the controversial re-election of President Pierre Nkurunziza. At least seven people were killed and 15 others wounded in clashes since Monday, the latest in months of unrest triggered by Nkurunziza’s successful bid to win a third term in office. Attacks have included gunmen firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns on security forces in the capital Bujumbura, with the government blaming “criminal gangs.”  News 24

Tunisia Is the Exception, Not the Model
What’s to be done with Islamists? Should they be assimilated into the phony multipartism of closed regimes? Included in processes of political liberalization? Democratized by force — bombed into democratizing? Killed? For more than two decades, the question has been a torment. First for Arab elites, then for Muslim elites and then, after Sept. 11, 2001, for the whole world.  The radical approach — violence — doesn’t accomplish much except to further radicalize the radicals. Slaughtering a jihadist only confirms his methods while reinforcing his ideology of victimhood and turning him into a martyr. The West becomes the enemy, and so do its democracy and its rules. By reaction, Islamism becomes the “solution” — which is, incidentally, the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Islamism’s vision of the world becomes justified. Its propaganda becomes truth, backed up by photographs showing the dead victims of the West’s Crusades. The New York Times

AP Interview: Tunisia PM Says Jobs Needed to Counter Terror
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid said Tuesday his country needs jobs to counter the threat of terror attacks like the two this year that targeted tourists, but his nation’s important tourism sector won’t fully recover for another two to three years. Essid told The Associated Press in an interview that the unemployment rate in Tunisia of 15 percent nationally and 33 percent for young university graduates is the biggest risk factor for future attacks. “There is an economic problem and jobless people who don’t have any other solution economically, so they go and become terrorists,” Essid said before attending an international conference on extremism by the Madrid Club group of former global leaders and heads of state. “The root of the problem is the high degree of joblessness.”  AP

What did Tunisia’s Nobel Laureates Actually Achieve?
[…] So far, Tunisia’s National Dialogue has been heralded as a case of “democracy saved,” with Quartet members described as patriotic civil society organizations that placed collective over parochial interests. These organizations are understood to have thrown Tunisia a life preserver in a crisis moment, saving political actors from themselves. The Quartet has been cast as an example of civil society “outsiders,” in cooperation with allegedly apolitical technocrats, rescuing elected government – both from its purported incompetence and from unelected opponents intent on dismantling democracy. The Quartet members – especially the UGTT, Tunisia’s powerful trade union and the Dialogue’s undisputed standard-bearer – are portrayed as standing midway between Tunisia’s seemingly familiar secular actors and its “devil-we-know” Islamist political elites, yet simultaneously outside politics. The Washington Post

Ghandour Decries Negative Impact of U.S. Sanctions on Sudan’s Economy

Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour has complained about the negative impact of external debt and the American economic and financial sanctions on the east African country. Ghandour, who was addressing the preparatory ministerial meeting for the third India-Africa summit in New Delhi Tuesday, pointed that his country didn’t benefit from the various initiatives to cancel the debts of the developing countries including the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative despite meeting all the technical requirements. Sudan Tribune

As Dynamics Change, Mali’s Smuggling Business Thrives
Despite the longstanding perception that Mali’s drug trafficking infrastructure is mainly restricted to the north, several recent developments have shown that there is an emerging threat of a spillover into the centre and south of the country. New smuggling networks could soon become a Malian and regional reality.  Daily Maverick

DRC: Citizens Begin Stay-at-Home Protest over FDLR Violence on Civilians
Citizens in several towns in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) have declared a stay-at-home protest over violence committed by militant groups against civilians. It is believed that people declared a three-day shutdown after one woman and two men were allegedly stabbed by members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) in the restive North Kivu Province. Georges Kasongo, head of an NGO in the territory of Lubero town, told AFP that the protest was launched to urge the government to restore peace and security in the area. The three civilians are currently being treated and are believed to be in a serious condition. Kasong added that the protest which started on Monday ( 26 October) had so far been a success as businesses, offices and schools remained closed. International Business Times

EU Provides €365.5 Million to Support Southern Mediterranean Countries
EU provides €365.5 million to promote private sector development, democratic reforms and better living conditions in Southern Mediterranean partner countries (Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco). […] Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, commented: “Today’s new EU assistance package will directly benefit citizens in partner countries by creating jobs, stimulating growth and improving living standards, including among the most vulnerable. This EU support is crucial given the various challenges our Southern Mediterranean partners are currently facing”. European Commission

India Pitches for Counter-Terror Cooperation with Africa
Asserting that there was growing scourge of terrorism in view of fast-growing linkages of terrorist groups across the globe, India today strongly advocated stepped-up cooperation through intelligence exchange and training with 54 African countries. Addressing her counterparts at the Ministerial Meeting of the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit here on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also forcefully put India’s case for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, saying the country along with Africa comprising nearly 2.5 billion people “can no longer be excluded from their rightful place” in the world body. Noting that “all our nations find themselves faced with the growing scourge of terrorism”, she said the menace of non-state actors and cross-border terrorism has acquired a new dimension and the scale of this challenge is huge and undermines the peace and stability in the countries. The Hindu

Ethiopia is Experiencing its Worst Drought in 30 Years
Ethiopia is experiencing its worst drought in 30 years: The impact of the failed spring belg rains was compounded by the arrival of the El Niño weather conditions that weakened summer kiremt rains that feed 80 to 85 per cent of the country. This greatly expanded food insecurity, malnutrition and devastated livelihoods across six affected regions of the country. The level of acute need across virtually all humanitarian sectors has already exceeded levels seen in the Horn of Africa drought of 2011 and is projected to be far more severe throughout an 8-month period in 2016. UNOCHA on  ReliefWeb

UN lifts Security Zone Around Mali Town as Security Improves
U.N. peacekeepers are lifting a security zone they imposed around the town of Kidal in northern Mali because fears of an attack have diminished after rival clans signed a peace deal earlier this month, a U.N. spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Peacekeepers imposed the 20-km zone on Aug. 20 over concerns that pro-government forces would try to take the separatist stronghold. They began to lift the zone on Monday, said Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for the MINUSMA mission. “We think there is no more danger. We are no longer fearful for the security of the civilian population. People can attend to their daily business without danger,” said Achouri. Risks have diminished since the deal reached between the Ifoghas and Inghad clans, the rival ethnic Tuareg groups supporting the separatist Coordination of Azawad Movements and the pro-government militia Platform, respectively.  Reuters

International Criminal Court Says India Should Hand over Sudan’s Bashir
The International Criminal Court said India should arrest and hand over Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted on genocide charges and expected to visit New Delhi for a summit this week. Bashir is accused of masterminding genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in his campaign to crush a revolt in Sudan’s western Darfur region. The Hague-based tribunal issued warrants for his arrest in 2009 and 2010. Along with at least 40 other African leaders, the 71-year-old president is expected to arrive in New Delhi on Wednesday to attend an India-Africa Summit aimed at boosting trade and investment between the two regions. Thomson Reuters Foundation

Somalia’s New Pirates by Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia.
Somalia is blessed with the largest coastline in continental Africa. Our rich marine waters are some of the most productive in the world, teeming with schools of yellowfin tuna, blue marlin, dolphinfish, and sardines. For more than 30 years, however, this bountiful marine wilderness has also been a source and site of conflict, as foreign illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels have plundered our waters – stealing our fish and selling their catches at distant ports. Just a few years ago, the encroachment of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing vessels sparked a wave of piracy in Somalia that cost the global maritime shipping industry billions of dollars in lost revenue. As illegal foreign fishing vessels fled our waters, Somali pirates quickly shifted their focus toward more lucrative vessels, such as cargo ships and oil tankers. And, now that piracy has mostly been eliminated, there is growing evidence that foreign fishing vessels have returned to plunder our waters once again. Project Syndicate

Lions Quickly Disappearing In Much Of Africa, Study Says
Lions are rapidly disappearing in large parts of Africa, and their population could be reduced by half outside of protected areas over the next two decades, according to a study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Many lion populations are either gone or expected to disappear within the next few decades,” says one of the report’s co-authors, Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer at Panthera, a group dedicated to the protection of large cats: “The lion plays a pivotal role as the continent’s top carnivore, and the free-fall of Africa’s lion populations we are seeing today could inexorably change the landscape of Africa’s ecosystems.”  NPR



Photo: Adam Jones