Media Review for October 29, 2015

Today’s News

When Military Leaders Do the Right Thing: Three Lessons in Ethical Leadership from Africa
The date is March 25, 2012. After a night of tension in a nation hailed for its democratic credentials, Senegal’s third president Abdulaye Wade, telephoned his opponent, Macky Sall, to concede defeat after a bitterly fought election that had gone into the second round. The West African nation breathed a collective sigh of relief following months of unrest marked by deadly clashes between opposition activists and police. Wade’s attempt to change the constitution to contest a third term was at the root of the crisis. For over 6 months, more than 200 civil society organizations under the umbrella group, M23, organized daily nationwide protests to force Wade to reverse his declared bid. When Wade was elected in 2000 for a seven year mandate, Senegal had no term limits. He was re-elected in 2007 after introducing a two-term limit and reducing the mandate to five years but he changed his mind during the final months of his presidency, prompting fears that Senegal, long considered an exemplar of democracy, was on a dangerous precipice.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

South Sudan Civil War Inquiry Details Torture and Forced Cannibalism
A new report has laid bare the scale of the atrocities committed during South Sudan’s 22-month civil war, detailing cases of rape, torture, mutilation and instances of forced cannibalism. The report, from the African Union (AU), also disputes the government’s claim that the conflict began after the country’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, attempted a coup against President Salva Kiir in December 2013. The resulting violence has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced more than 2 million, and prompted fears of a famine. “The commission found cases of sexual and gender-based violence committed by both parties against women,” says the report. “It also documented extreme cruelty exercised through the mutilation of bodies, burning of bodies, draining human blood from people who had just been killed and forcing others from one ethnic community to drink the blood or eat burnt human flesh.” The Guardian

Congo Opposition Calls Mass Protest Friday in Referendum Row
Congolese opposition leaders called for nationwide protests on Friday to pressure the government into retracting a constitutional amendment that will enable President Denis Sassou Nguesso to extend his three-decade rule. On Tuesday the government announced that a landslide 92.96 percent of people voting in a controversial referendum on Sunday had approved the changes to the constitution allowing Sassou Nguesso to run for a third term next year. The two main groups opposed to the constitutional changes — the Republican Front for the Respect of Constitutional Order and Democracy (FROCAD) and the Initiative for Democracy in Congo (IDC) — had called for a boycott of the referendum and rejected the official results. AFP on Yahoo News

Zanzibar Poll Annulled, Throws Results Into Doubt
Tanzania’s elections were thrown into doubt Wednesday after the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago annulled polls, sparking tension on the islands and raising questions about national presidential results due Thursday. Opposition parties have also alleged rigging in Sunday’s presidential, general and local elections, the tightest polls ever in the East African nation, with the governing party facing the first major challenge to its dominance in decades. Zanzibar’s electoral commission on Wednesday said elections on the Indian Ocean islands — where the 500,000 registered electorate also voted for Tanzania’s national president — must be carried out again, citing “violations of electoral law”. “The process was not fair and had breaches of the law… I declare all the results to be null and void,” Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Jecha Salim Jecha said, reporting alleged violations including double-voting and cheating. The East African

Tanzania Polls: US Alarmed over Zanzibar Vote Annulment
The US says it is “gravely alarmed” by the scrapping of Zanzibar’s tightly contested presidential and parliamentary elections. The decision should be rescinded, as the election had been “orderly and peaceful”, it added in a statement. Zanzibar’s electoral commission chief annulled Sunday’s poll, alleging it was marred by rigging. The opposition says the vote on the semi-autonomous Tanzanian archipelago was cancelled as it had won. BBC

UN Backs Investigation of Human Rights Violations in Burundi
The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday strongly backed the African Union’s decision to investigate human rights violations in Burundi and also pledged to respond to any actions that threaten peace, security and stability in the troubled central African nation. A presidential statement approved by all 15 members expressed deep concern at the growing insecurity and continuing rise in violence in the country including extra-judicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions. President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision in April to seek a controversial third term, which he won, has sparked killings and arrests and triggered fear and uncertainty, leading more than 200,000 people to flee the country. Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft warned last week of a “threat of genocide” in Burundi. AP on the Washington Post

EU Naval Anti-Smuggler Operation “Not Working”, Needs Intervention in Libya: French Admiral
The EU naval operation to clamp down on illegal migrant crossings from Libya is not working, according to its deputy commander, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean. The only way to stop the flow, he said in Rome yesterday, was by going to Libyan territory, both the country’s inshore waters and on land and hitting the smuggler networks. “The operation will only be effective when we can work close to the networks, go after the big fish not the little ones who go out to sea,” he said. In the three week since it started, the operation, codenamed Sophia and designed to arrest the smugglers and seize their boats them had not done so at all so far, the French rear admiral admitted. To move in on the smugglers in Libyan waters and in the country itself would need  the UN Security Council endorsement. Libya Herald

German UN Diplomat to Take over Libya Peace Effort
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon plans to appoint German diplomat Martin Kobler, who led the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to head a struggling peace effort in Libya. Ban on Wednesday informed the Security Council of his decision in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP. Kobler will succeed Bernardino Leon as special envoy for Libya just as efforts to end years of turmoil in the north African country have run into hurdles over the formation of a unity government. Libya’s internationally-recognized parliament and the Islamist-backed assembly have rejected the latest UN proposals for power-sharing. France 24

18 Bodies Found from Downed Libya Helicopter
The death toll from the downing over the Mediterranean of a helicopter belonging to Libya’s Tripoli-based government has risen to 18, a naval officer said Wednesday. Lieutenant Rabii Mohamad said 13 bodies were retrieved after the aircraft was shot down Tuesday near Al-Maya, west of the capital, and five more Wednesday morning. “Today we will focus on trying to pull out the wreck of the aircraft but we don’t know if there are other bodies because the number of passengers is not clear,” Mohamad told AFP. Colonel Mustafa Sharkasi, from Tripoli’s air force, said Tuesday 16 people were on board and at least nine killed, including Colonel Hussein Abu Diyya of the Fajr Libya militia that controls the capital. Sharkasi blamed the internationally — which denied any involvement — and vowed retaliation. So far, no one has claimed responsibility. AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria: Army Declares 100 Boko Haram Terrorists Wanted
The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, on Wednesday in Maiduguri, Borno State capital, launched the circulation of large posters carrying photographs of wanted Boko Haram terrorists including the supposed leader of the insurgents, Abubakar Shekau. The large posters, with inscription written in various languages of Nigeria, also had phone numbers which the public could easily call or text to indicate which of the characters in the numbered photographs they know or have information of. The photo posters was launched as part of the counter terrorism material packaged by the Directorate of Army Public Relations. The army chief launched the posters shortly after delivering a paper titled ‘Contemporary Warfare, War Reporting and Dilemma of Military Leadership’ at the three day 2015 DAPR Study Period that ended today. Premium Times on allAfrica

Why Obama’s Military Deployment Against Boko Haram is Too Little, Too Late
On Oct. 14, President Obama declared the deployment of approximately 300 U.S. Armed Forces personnel to Cameroon to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations. These troops (and military equipment) will support the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), under the command of Nigerian Maj. Gen. Iliya Abbah. The MNJTF has 8,500 soldiers and 2,000 police officers that hail from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Benin. President Paul Biya of Cameroon, and President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria welcomed Obama’s announced deployment of U.S. soldiers and intelligence expertise in Cameroon. Intelligence expertise is an important contribution as African countries have serious deficits in intelligence abilities for peace operations. According to political scientist James Poland, intelligence is the first line of defense in fighting terrorism. While some in West and Central Africa welcome Obama’s action, it’s too little, too late. Security expert Michel Rubin considers dissuasive military tactics as the “best means to counter terrorist threats.” The U.S. deployment focuses on intelligence, stopping short of supporting preemptive strikes or more direct and special operations. At its current level, the U.S. troop and equipment contribution will not provide sufficient military force to eradicate Boko Haram. The Washington Post

US Training Niger Army to Resist Boko Haram
American soldiers have begun training units of Niger’s army at the edge of the Sahara Desert, in what a U.S. military official calls a “new wave” of military support for African states battling Boko Haram militants. More training will follow for national armies in Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad, the official told VOA, speaking on condition of anonymity. Extremists from Boko Haram are based in northeastern Nigeria, but they have carried out notorious attacks throughout the Lake Chad region – Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria. Training in Niger began on October 19 at Agadez, the largest city in central Niger, once a center for caravans crossing the Sahara. VOA

Zuma Leaves Door Open to Third Term as President of Ruling ANC
South African President Jacob Zuma pulled back from comments that he would “never, ever” stand for a third term as leader of the ruling African National Congress. In an interview at his Pretoria residence Tuesday, Zuma, 73, said he’ll be guided by the ANC on whether to stay on as leader of the party that has dominated South African politics since the end of white minority rule in 1994. The Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian newspaper on Oct. 10 quoted Zuma as saying that he would “never, ever” stand for a third term “even if they beg me.” “If there was any remark of that nature, it was a remark made, but not within how the ANC does things,” Zuma said about his comments to the Mail & Guardian. “Even the president has no right to take his own decision. We don’t act as individuals, the ANC guides us. When the time comes the ANC will direct us.” Bloomberg

Zim Prosecutor-General Handed Jail Term
Harare – Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday slapped prosecutor-general Johannes Tomana with a 30-day prison term for defying high and supreme courts orders to issue certificates for the private prosecution of a Zanu-PF member of parliament, Munyaradzi Kerere, and Telecel Zimbabwe shareholder Jane Mutasa. But the sentence was wholly suspended on the condition Tomana issues the certificates in the next 10 days. In January this year, the Supreme Court ordered Tomana to issue the private prosecution certificate after Mutasa was accused by Telecel Zimbabwe of swindling the firm out of more than US$1,7 million in airtime top-up vouchers, an incident said to have occurred in 2010. However, Tomana declined to prosecute Mutasa for lack of evidence. Kereke, on the other hand, is facing a rape charge.  IOL News

Swiss Investigate Eritrean Consulate on Accusation of Forced Tax
Swiss prosecutors are investigating whether the Eritrean consulate has broken the law in allegedly forcing its Swiss-based nationals to pay a 2 percent tax by withholding consular services, a spokesman said on Wednesday. Eritreans are one of the main nationalities among the refugees who have fled across the Mediterranean to Europe in the past few years. Around 36,000 have reached Italy so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. A U.N. Commission of Inquiry into Eritrea’s human rights record said in June that the Eritrean government was forcing Eritreans abroad to pay the 2 percent diaspora tax, also called the “rehabilitation tax”, by denying them access to basic consular services, undermining a right to freedom of movement. “We submitted the complaint to the Attorney General at the end of September,” a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Office of Police, Alexander Rechsteiner, said on Wednesday. Reuters

Eritrea Footballers ‘Gain Botswana Asylum’ after World Cup Qualifier
Botswana has granted asylum to 10 Eritrean footballers who refused to return home after a World Cup qualifying match, their lawyer says. Dick Barford said he had been informed of the decision by Botswana’s secretary for justice, defence and security, Augustine Makgonatsotlhe. Eritrea’s footballers played the national team in Botswana on 13 October, losing the game 3-1. Many Eritrean footballers have claimed asylum recently after playing abroad. Six players claimed asylum in Angola in 2007, 12 in Kenya in 2009, and another 18 in Uganda in 2012.  BBC

Rwanda Parliament Debates Constitutional Changes for Third Kagame Term
Revisions to Rwanda’s constitution that would allow President Paul Kagame to seek a third seven-year term appeared on parliament’s agenda on Wednesday, with the lower house of the Kagame-controlled body expected to vote later in the day. In July, Rwanda’s parliament backed a motion to let Kagame extend his mandate, and last month Rwanda’s highest court ruled the constitution could be changed to extend the two-term limit. The constitutional changes still face a popular referendum, although there is little chance they will fail. Kagame controls the Rwanda media, and he is personally popular as a nation-builder after Rwanda’s 1994 genocidal conflict. “All depends on the opinions of the people,” the Supreme Court said in its October ruling. News 24

Somali President Warns Shabaab on Joining ISIS
Somalia’s president called on Islamist Shabaab fighters on Wednesday to surrender amid reports factions have shifted allegiance from al-Qaeda to Islamic State. Both militant franchises are “destroyers”, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a statement, saying he had followed “with interest the now-public dispute within al-Shabaab, over whether to swear allegiance to al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.” Mohamud said the reported divisions were “symptomatic of a group that has lost its way”, and warned that Somalis “do not need a new brand of horror and repression”. The Shebab, East Africa’s long-time al-Qaeda branch, is fighting to overthrow the internationally-backed government in Mogadishu, which is protected by 22 000 African Union troops. News 24

Somalia: Is Somaliland Still a Good News Story?
In Somaliland, most politicians are known by their nicknames. So President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud is ‘Silanyo,’ which translates to ’skinny lizard’ – a throwback to his youth when he was tall and slim. President Silanyo is not skinny anymore, however, and nor should he be president – his term in office was supposed to expire on 26 June 2015. But after the scheduled elections were repeatedly postponed, Silanyo is still in charge, and no one is particularly surprised. Although Somaliland is famed for its regular, peaceful elections – an oasis of peace and democracy in a region usually associated with authoritarianism and conflict – almost every election in its history has been subject to lengthy delays. Somaliland’s last parliamentary elections, for example, were conducted in 2005, meaning that the current crop of representatives have served for five years longer than intended. The last presidential election (won by Silanyo), was originally scheduled for March 2008, but only took place more than two years after. ISS on allAfrica

Thousands Homeless as El Niño Floods Sweep Somalia
Flash floods in Somalia have destroyed thousands of makeshift homes, as well as latrines and shallow wells, the United Nations said, predicting that up to 900,000 people could be hit by the strongest El Niño weather phenomenon in decades. The floods, which have made roads impassable and cut thousands off from aid, could reverse many of the humanitarian gains made in southern Somalia since 2011 when the Horn of Africa nation was devastated by famine, experts say. Some 3.2 million Somalis — one-third of the population –already needed life-saving aid and over one million were internally displaced before the rains began on Oct. 7. “The El Niño conditions come amid an already fragile humanitarian situation,” the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement late on Tuesday. VOA

Congolese Ban on Overseas Adoptions Fuels Smuggling of Children
A crackdown on international adoptions by the Democratic Republic of Congo has spurred a black market in child smuggling, with Americans paying to get dozens of infants out across its jungle borders, the Thomson Reuters Foundation has found. More than 80 Congolese children have been taken illegally out of the country in the past two years, testimony shows, with adoptive parents paying networks of local brokers. Concerns over child smuggling emerged after President Joseph Kabila suspended exit permits for adopted children from the central African nation in September 2013, causing uncertainty for hundreds of children assigned to foreign families. The Congolese authorities said the decision was taken due to concerns and investigations over child abuse in U.S. households, but campaigners say the move has created a lucrative trade in which children are smuggled across borders for a price. Thomson Reuters Foundation

The Politics behind the Ebola Crisis
At the Ebola epidemic’s height in mid-2014, there were concerns social order in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone could collapse. International mobilisation, notably after the UN Security Council declared the epidemic “a threat to peace and security” on 18 September, brought an extensive intervention and considerable progress. When explaining the dramatic increase in infections starting in March, observers mostly point to weak health systems, limited resources, population mobility, inadequate support and that the virus was largely unknown in the region, but lack of trust in the state, its institutions and leaders was also a major factor. Nor was the international community beyond reproach. It prevaricated, and mostly ignored early and clear warnings until the threat was perceived as global. International Crisis Group

A Brutal Genocide in Colonial Africa Finally Gets its Deserved Recognition
As s a teenager in the 1960s, Israel Kaunatjike joined the fight against apartheid in his native Namibia. He couldn’t have known that his activism would take him across the globe, to Berlin—the very place where his homeland’s problems started. Back then, Europeans called Kaunatjike’s home South-West Africa—and it was European names that carried the most weight; tribal names, or even the name Namibia, had no place in the official taxonomy. Black and white people shared a country, yet they weren’t allowed to live in the same neighborhoods or patronize the same businesses. That, says Kaunatjike, was verboten.  The Smithsonian

From Lebanon to Africa
Immigrants have been coming to Africa from what is now Lebanon for the past 150 years or so, becoming established, industrious communities, integral to several West African states. In fact, the first president of Ivory Coast described them as a “bestowment from the sky” – a gift from God. Over a century-and-a-half, a combination of political instability, economic forces, famine and conflict has brought successive waves of Lebanese to West Africa, from where they have fanned out across the continent. The influx continues today. The first Lebanese arrived in the former French territories of Senegal and Ivory Coast in the 19th century, as France encouraged settlement to stimulate growth in the colonies. They also came to Ghana, at the time named the Gold Coast by the British. Some of that first wave may well have been heading further west but their ships changed course. Al Jazeera

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