Media Review for September 11, 2015

Algeria’s Bouteflika Sacks Generals to Curb Power of Military Intelligence
Algerian President Abdelazize Bouteflika has sacked several top generals, security sources say, in his latest move to curb the power of the DRS military intelligence service which has long influenced politics from behind the scenes. The purged generals included the head of presidential security and the director of internal security, the sources said. Both worked under DRS chief General Mohamed Mediene, who has played the role of political kingmaker for several decades by seeking to influence leadership choices behind the scenes. Changes in the security apparatus are closely watched in Algeria, which has become a key partner in the Western campaign against Islamist militants since emerging in 2002 from more than a decade of conflict during which 200,000 people died.  Reuters

Pope Francis Coming to Africa – Will Visit Kenya, Uganda, CAR
The pontiff will visit 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 wind up on November 30. A trip to Africa has been long in the works, but presented logistical challenges to organisers at the Vatican, including the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in west Africa, which has killed some 11,300 people since December 2013. Francis, who has travelled to parts of Asia, Latin America and Europe since his election two years ago, had already talked about plans underway for his visit to Uganda and the CAR, before Kenya was added to the programme.  Times Live

UN Chief Says Will Repatriate Peacekeepers over Sex Abuse
The U.N. chief is taking aim at sexual abuse by peacekeepers, “one of my greatest disappointments,” saying he will repatriate the troops of countries that don’t act on allegations and has already started to suspend payments to countries when allegations are credible. Ban Ki-moon’s statements are in response to the first comprehensive assessment of peacekeeping in 15 years and largely agree with a high-level panel’s suggestions for a major overhaul. The U.N. has more than 105,000 troops and police in 16 missions in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Member states contribute the personnel and receive monthly payments in return. The report with Ban’s response intended for public release Friday, but The Associated Press found it on a U.N. website Thursday. AP on Stars and Stripes

Are Women Better Peacekeepers?
There are nowhere near enough female peacekeepers serving in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Obviously, this is a problem, but it’s not just about representation. It’s also because female peacekeepers are often more effective than their male counterparts.  The Daily Maverick

Tanzania Gears Up for its Closest Ever Elections
Tanzania’s 25 October presidential and parliamentary elections will be hotly contested and may turn out to be the closest elections in the country’s history. As the campaigns get underway, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party still has a clear edge, but that could easily erode over the next five weeks. The CCM has made several political missteps and the opposition parties are more united than in the past. The defection of former CCM prime minister and political heavyweight Edward Lowassa to the opposition has generated fissures inside the ruling party and given an added boost to a more unified opposition. While the CCM clearly has some strong electoral advantages, there are growing indications that its long-term grip on power is continuing to dissipate.  African Arguments

The Vanishing: Why Are Young Egyptian Activists Disappearing?
A paper sun hangs on the wall, and the dresser is covered with bottles of nail polish in all colors. The woman who used to inhabit this room, who has been in the hands of the government for the past three months, seemed to have a fondness for ladybugs. There is a stuffed animal ladybug on the bed, and a rug in the shape of a ladybug on the floor. “Her friends called her the ladybug of the revolution,” Duaa El-Taweel, 22, says of her sister, who has disappeared. El-Taweel says her sister Esraa was restless and constantly on the go, taking pictures wherever she went. The walls are covered with patches of dried adhesive. “We took down the pictures,” she says, explaining that anyone depicted in them is in danger. El-Taweel pulls letters from her sister out of a cardboard box. They were folded to make them as small as possible, so that they could be smuggled out of prison. “I was blindfolded for 15 days,” El-Taweel reads from one of the letters. “I felt as if I were in a grave. It was so bad that I prayed to God to allow me to be resurrected. But I couldn’t kneel down. They kidnapped me on the last day of my period. I couldn’t wash myself for 17 days.”  Spiegle

Egyptian Student Becomes Anti-Corruption Icon
Softly spoken schoolgirl Mariam Malak has become an unlikely symbol of the fight against corruption in Egypt after scoring the sum total of zero in her final exams. The 19-year-old top student, a teacher’s daughter in a small village in the poor southern province of Minya, dreams of becoming a doctor like her two brothers. In previous years she aced her exams, and had expected a similar result in her final year. Now nicknamed the “zero schoolgirl” in the local press, Malak had scored 97 percent in her previous two years.  France 24

Accused Ghana Judges Shown Bribe Videos
Some 22 of the Ghanaian judges allegedly caught on camera asking for bribes have been shown the videos at the start of the investigation, judicial sources have told the BBC. The hearing has been held behind closed doors at the Supreme Court; the judges’ responses have not been made public. A total of 34 judges and magistrates have been accused after a two-year investigation by a local journalist. It is the biggest scandal in the history of Ghana’s judiciary.  BBC

Sihem Ben Sedrine: The Tenuous Position of the Woman Tasked with Bringing Those Who Profited Under Tunisia’s Authoritarian Regime to Justice
The woman charged with bringing to justice the corrupt businessmen and politicians who profited under Tunisia’s authoritarian regime before the Arab Spring is being targeted in a virulent campaign to discredit her. “They are carrying out a smear campaign against me, just like they used to under Ben Ali,” Sihem Ben Sedrine, president of Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission, told The Independent. A Reconciliation Law proposed by President Beji Caid Essebsi in July offers amnesty  to businessmen and public officials accused of corruption before the 2011 revolution. It has been met by widespread protests and has been branded “counter-revolutionary”.  The Independent

Uganda’s Museveni to Visit Sudan Next Week, as Kenyatta Holds Talks With Bashir
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni will begin an official visit to Sudan on next Tuesday for talks with President Omer al-Bashir., while the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta discussed issues of mutual concern with the Sudanese on Thursday. The visit comes amid strained relations between Khartoum and Kampala as the two countries trade accusation of support to rebel groups. Sudan accuses Uganda of harbouring rebel groups member of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) while Uganda claims that the rebels of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) are in western Sudan.  Sudan Tribune

South Sudan’s Parliament Approves Peace Deal
South Sudan’s parliament unanimously voted on Thursday to adopt a peace deal agreed last month by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, amid mounting pressure for both sides to lay down their arms. The world’s newest country has been ravaged by war since December 2013, when soldiers loyal to Kiir clashed in the capital Juba with troops loyal to his former deputy, Machar. Kiir signed the deal on Aug. 27 but complained about the details and said he had faced intimidation from other nations prior to signing. Sporadic fighting has continued since then, with both sides blaming each other for ceasefire violations. The clashes have prompted the United Nations Security Council to warn both sides that it could impose sanctions if the August deal collapses.  East African

Rwanda Deploys First Police Force to South Sudan
Some 170 Rwandan police officers including 40 women officers have been deployed to South Sudan’s city of Malakal, about 165 km from the capital city Juba, to beef up the UN peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), police source revealed Thursday in Kigali. Rwandan police spokesperson Celestin Twahirwa said this was first batch of the country’s policemen to be deployed in South Sudan He said the the mission of the police officer would be to protect the headquarters of (UNMISS) in different location across South Sudan. “In order to better accomplish its mission, the Rwandan con  Xinhua

Boko Haram Violence Increasing Hunger, Malnutrition in Region
The World Food Program (WFP) says it is scaling up aid for hundreds of thousands of hungry people, many severely malnourished, who have fled to Chad, Niger and Cameroon to escape attacks by Boko Haram militants in northeastern Nigeria. According to the WFP, nearly three quarters of a million people in countries bordering Nigeria are facing a worsening food crisis linked to increased violence by Boko Haram militants.   WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher told VOA that recent attacks have led to a sudden surge of internally displaced people and refugees.    VOA

Guinea Bissau Leader Dissolves Cabinet After Judgement
Guinea Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz has dismissed his two-day-old cabinet after the Supreme Court ruled that his appointment of a new prime minister was unconstitutional, a presidential decree has said. Vaz removed popular prime minister Domingos Simoes Pereira in August and replaced him with Baciro Dja, plunging the coup-prone nation into a political crisis. Members of the ruling PAIGC party, to which all three men belong, objected to the appointment and appealed to the Supreme Court which found in their favour on Wednesday. Al Jazeera

IMF Director Here to Discuss Liberia’s Recovery Plan
Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is in Liberia for two days beginning today, September 10, to engage with policymakers and other representatives of the Liberian society. At the head of a high-powered IMF delegation, Ms. Lagarde will hold series of discussions with government officials, representatives of women organizations and the private sector, including business and community leaders.  The Liberian Observer

Cuba Now Teaching Flying and Air Traffic Control to SA Air Force Members
Cuban/South African military co-operation has ratcheted up another notch since the start of this month with 24 SA Air Force (SAAF) members now undergoing extended training in various aviation-related disciplines in the island republic. That the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has its personnel problems, particularly in high-level skills sectors such as pilots, navigators and aircraft technicians, is common knowledge. It was again raised, albeit briefly, by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula at AFB Waterkloof two weeks ago. She was briefing the media on aspects around the charter of a bizjet owned by a Gupta-owned company that flew Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and a small entourage to and from Japan.  DefenseWeb

When Dictators Die:  The World’s Dictators Are Aging — But Democrats Shouldn’t be Too Quick to Rejoice.
There are 55 authoritarian leaders in power throughout the world. Eleven of these leaders are 69 years old or older, and they are in varying stages of declining health. Most of these aging dictators, such as Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos (73 years old), Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev (75 years old), and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (91 years old), have been in power for decades. At first blush this paints a hopeful picture for democracy watchers, who have recently documented a slow but steady authoritarian resurgence. Surely the fact that 20 percent of the world’s autocracies face the specter of succession provides an opportunity for new democracies to emerge — or does it?  Foreign Policy

How a U.N. Drone Crashed in Congo and Was Promptly Forgotten
Nyiragongo Territory, Democratic Republic of the Congo — On a cloudy October morning last year, an unarmed United Nations drone on a surveillance mission over eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo crashed and burned in farmland just north of the city of Goma. Local residents quickly gathered at the crash site, where U.N. officials later retrieved some of the drone’s pieces, including its black box, radar, and camera system. But its engine and tail arm — clearly emblazoned with U.N. insignia — stayed in a resident’s home in the poor territory for months, and other debris remained untouched in a field whose owner could no longer afford to farm It was one of five drones — each roughly the size of a compact car — used by MONUSCO, the United Nations’ $1.4 billion stabilization mission in Congo, where civil war has killed more than 5 million Congolese since 1996. Congo is the first nation where the U.N. has made surveillance drones a permanent part of its peacekeeping missions, and the unmanned aircraft are deployed to track rebel movements, monitor road conditions, and provide intelligence to help protect Congolese from the kind of summary executions and mass rapes that most recently plagued the country’s east during a 20-month period between 2012 and 2013. What they are not used for is actually killing any of those rebels. Foreign PolicyOne killed as Clashes Erupt Across I.Coast Ahead of Election
One person was killed as protesters torched vehicles and clashed with police in several Ivory Coast towns on Thursday, witnesses said, in the first major outbreak of trouble ahead of next month’s presidential election. The protests were called by part of the opposition a day after the release by the Constitutional Council of the official list of 10 contenders running in the October 25 poll, including incumbent Alassane Ouattara. Opposition groups urged anti-Ouattara marches on the grounds that both of his parents were not Ivorian — the same objection cited ahead of deadly unrest in 2010-2011 that left more than 3,000 dead following a presidential poll.  AFP on Yahoo News

Despite Closed Border, Moroccans and Algerians Find Ways To See Their Loved Ones
Algeria’s decision to shut down its land border with Morocco in 1994 has created many challenges for families in the two countries whose members are now separated. Despite the strict border control, however, Moroccan-Algerian families living in the border region occasionally manage to cross over. Most of these visits are carried out illegally, and they sometimes involve putting lives at risk. Algeria closed the border after Morocco imposed visa restrictions on Algerian citizens in the wake of a terrorist attack on the Atlas Ansi Hotel in Marrakesh. Moroccan authorities maintained that the Algerian Secret Service played a role in the attacks. HuffPost Arabi recently visited the border region and spoke to members of several families who live this reality every day. They shared the hardships they face and the sometimes inventive ways they stay in touch, despite the closed border.  The Huffington Post

South African Company Buys Back the Country’s Platinum Mines
The mines sold for 4.5 billion rand despite the plummeting platinum prices. Amplats, as Anglo American Platinum is known, actually values these assets at 7.7 billion rand. This 3.2-billion-rand loss is a sign of just how desperate the company is to dump these mines from its portfolio. Amplats’ CEO Chris Griffith said the sale was part of a move towards low-cost operations, as it removes these loss-making elements. The plummeting prices have been punishing platinum miners for some time now. The global price has dropped by 40 per cent just since 2011. RFI

Sinking Currencies Reflect Grim African Prospects
A slump in commodity prices and flight by global investors from risky “frontier” markets has hammered currencies and state budgets across Africa, increasing dollar borrowing costs and raising the prospect of political instability. From Nigeria and Ghana in the west to Kenya in the east and South Africa and Zambia in the south, currencies have all fallen against the dollar, and in many cases crashed through historic lows plumbed in the 2008-09 financial crisis. Things took a turn for the worse in mid-2014 when prices of oil and other commodities, the export mainstay of many African economies, dived largely due to a sharp slowdown in one of the biggest consuming countries, China.  VOA

Kenya Signs China Nuclear Power Deal
Kenya has signed a deal with China as part of the east African nation’s plans to have a nuclear power station by 2025, the Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board (KNEB) said Thursday. Kenya plans to set up its a first nuclear power plant with a capacity of 1000 MW by 2025, the board said, with ambitions to boost that to 4000 MW by 2033, and to make nuclear electricity “a key component of the country’s energy” production. The memorandum of understanding, signed in China, will enable Kenya to “obtain expertise from China by way of training and skills development, technical support in areas such as site selection for Kenya’s nuclear power plants and feasibility studies,” the KNEB statement said.  AFP on Yahoo News

British-Backed Mau Mau Memorial Set to Open in Rare Colonial Apology
It was one of the British Empire’s bloodiest insurgencies, but the thousands killed, tortured and jailed in Kenya’s Mau Mau rebellion were forgotten for decades. Now, in a rare example of former rulers commemorating a colonial uprising, a British-funded memorial to all the victims is set to open on Saturday. “This memorial is a symbol of reconciliation between the British government, the Mau Mau, and all those who suffered,” reads the stone plaque on the memorial in the capital Nairobi. AFP on Yahoo News



Photo: Adam Jones