Media Review for September 21, 2015

African Union Suspends Burkina Faso, Slaps Sanctions on Coup Junta
The African Union suspended Burkina Faso and slapped sanctions on the leaders of its military coup as troops tried to stop protesters from marching on the capital’s Revolution Square. The 54-member bloc also imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on the junta’s leaders, with Uganda’s representative denouncing the kidnapping of Burkina’s interim leaders on Wednesday as a “terrorist” act. The latest coup was orchestrated by an elite army unit loyal to deposed president Blaise Compaore who claim that interim president Michel Kafando was excluding Compaore’s supporters from the upcoming October 11 polls. AFP on Yahoo News

Mediators Secure Plan to Restore civilian rule in Burkina Faso
West African leaders mediating post-coup talks in Burkina Faso on Sunday proposed a return of the ousted interim president in return for an amnesty for the putschists who seized power this week. Under the mooted political accord to end the political crisis, fresh elections would be held by November 22 including candidates loyal to ex-leader Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in a popular revolt last year. The proposal was read out by former Burkina prime minister Kadre Desire Ouedraogo at 6:30 pm (1830 GMT) Sunday. It foresees “the restoration of the transitional institutions and of president (Michel) Kafando”, and for all those being held as a result of the coup to be freed.  France 24

Burkina Coup Supporters, soldiers Storm Talks
Violence has erupted at the main hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital where talks are taking place with regional mediators after last week’s coup. One group of protesters opposed to the new regime chanted “No to military rule” while another group chanted its support for the junta. Soldiers protected two opposition leaders from an angry mob that had tried to stop them from entering the hotel. Tensions are running high in Burkina Faso following the announcement last week of a coup that deposed a transitional government which was organizing national elections for October 11. The country’s president of 27 years, Blaise Compaore, was ousted late last year in a popular uprising. News 24

Mooted Amnesty Deal for Burkina Coup Leaders Branded ‘Shameful’
West African leaders trying to mediate an end to Burkina Faso’s coup proposed the return of the ousted interim president on Sunday in exchange for an amnesty for the elite troops who overthrew him this week. But civil society groups – who played a major role in the uprising that toppled the country’s longtime ruler Blaise Compaore last year, and whose former chief of staff led the coup — branded the deal “shameful”. Under the mooted accord negotiated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to end the crisis, fresh elections will include Compaore supporters who had complained they were being excluded from votes planned by the interim government for next month. France 24

Burkina Faso: A Play for Power by the Presidential Guard
Elements of the elite Presidential Guard have declared a coup in Burkina Faso weeks before general elections slated for October 11. It puts an abrupt end to a transition and that got underway after popular protests forced out long-serving president, Blaise Compaoré, over his attempt to seek a third term.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Burkina Faso coup: Junta Insists on Staying on
The general who led a coup in Burkina Faso this week insists on remaining in power until polls are held, according to a document seen by the BBC. Gen Gilbert Diendere made the proposal at talks brokered by West African mediators in the capital Ouagadougou. On Saturday one of the mediators had spoken of a breakthrough and hinted at a new transition government reinstating interim President Michel Kafando. At least 10 people have been killed in clashes since Thursday’s coup. The overthrow of the civilian interim government – carried out by the presidential guard – was widely condemned. Burkina Faso has been suspended from the African Union.  BBC

In the Line of Duty: Amisom Loses 1,100 troops
The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) may have suffered at least 1,100 fatalities since 2009, according to information the force shared with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) — the world’s leading tracker of defence and military affairs. Paul Williams, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University, said in a study released recently that Sipri regards the figure as “a conservative, minimum estimate.” Prof Williams said he gathered the information from disclosures by Amisom to Sipri, which show that 69 of its troops were killed last year as a result of hostile action. The African Union said this figure did not include deaths from causes such as illness or accidents. The death toll, as reported to the Sweden-based researchers, ranged from a high of 384 personnel in 2012 to a low of 94 in 2011.  The East African

Warning in Tanzania over Political Militia Groups
Electoral authorities in Tanzania on Saturday called on police to investigate fears that some political parties were preparing to train militia groups ahead of next month’s national elections. The concern has emerged as campaigning heats up prior to the October 25 polls, in which the long-time ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party’s candidate John Magufuli is hoping to succeed President Jakaya Kikwete. But Magufuli, aged 55, is facing what is seen as the tightest electoral race in the east African nation’s history, with the main opposition parties uniting around ex-prime minister Edward Lowassa, aged 61, who recently defected from the CCM.  News 24

Egypt Has a Creative Way of Hiding Bad News: Banning Journalists From Reporting on It
Egyptian officials have a new plan for how to deal with the accidental killings of eight Mexican tourists last weekend: force the media to act like it never happened. The office of the country’s top prosecutor issued a ban on any further press coverage of the mysterious attack that killed the tourists and their four Egyptian guides after they were mistaken for insurgents in Egypt’s increasingly violent Western Desert, a popular safari destination. The gag order, which was announced late Wednesday, came after Mexican Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu flew to Cairo to meet with her Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, to relay her country’s concern and anger over the attack. At a news conference after their closed-door meeting, Shoukry avoided an outright apology for the deaths, saying only that they were “regrettable.” Egyptian officials had initially said the tourists were strafed by Egyptian helicopters after their SUVs drove into a restricted area, but Ruiz Massieu rejected that explanation Wednesday.  Foreign Policy

Message Said to be from Boko Haram Leader Attacks Nigerian Army
A new audio message purportedly from Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau calls the Nigerian army liars for saying troops have regained territory from the militant Islamist group. Related Stories Three blasts hit northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri: military Reuters Boko Haram leader dismisses Nigerian military claims AFP Nigerian army releases 128 Boko Haram suspects AFP Bombs in northeast Nigeria kill at least 12 Reuters Bombs in northeast Nigeria kill at least 12 Reuters Want to lower energy costs? SolarCity can help SolarCity Sponsored Nigeria’s military said on Friday it had recaptured villages and rescued 90 people in a process that involved the “continuous elimination” of the group from Nigerian territory. “They have lied about us saying that they retaken our territories, taken weapons and driven us away,” says the recording posted online. “They are actually the ones whom we have driven away. They are all liars.”  Reuters on Yahoo News

At least 5 Killed in Suicide Bomb Attack in Northern Cameroon
At least five people were killed in a suicide bomb attack on Sunday in the northern Cameroon town of Mora, military sources said, in what appeared to be the latest cross-border attack by Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist militant group. The dead included a police officer, two civilians and the two female suicide bombers, who detonated themselves at around 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) in the Galdi neighbourhood near the entrance to the town. “It happened not far from the town stadium when the police officer who was killed attempted to carry out a routine check,” said one of the military officers, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press.  Reuters on Yahoo News

Nigerian Tribunal Orders Arrest of Senate President Over Assets Claims
A Nigerian tribunal issued an arrest warrant for the president of the country’s senate Bukola Saraki for refusing to appear before the court over allegations of false declaration of assets. “This tribunal has called on the defendant to appear before it and stand trial,” tribunal judge Danladi Umar said in his ruling in Abuja. “In view of the non-appearance of the defendant, this tribunal orders the inspector general of police or the relevant security agencies to produce the defendant before this tribunal,” he said, ordering that a “bench warrant be issued against the defendant”. The Code of Conduct Tribunal is a special court that tries asset declaration offences. AFP on GlobalPost

Nigerian States Tap Emergency Fund to Pay Wages Amid Oil Slump
Nigerian states have drawn from a 300-billion naira ($1.5 billion) emergency fund at the central bank and are asking for more money as they struggle to pay civil service salaries after the oil-price slump. Eighteen states have tapped the intervention fund and more requests are being processed, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Godwin Emefiele said in a statement e-mailed by the presidency on Thursday. Debts worth a total of 574 billion naira have been restructured for 23 states since August, it said. At least half of Nigeria’s 36 states, which rely on monthly federal handouts for the majority of their funding, have been unable to pay bureaucrats’ wages after Brent crude prices fell by half in the past year. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer.  Bloomberg

UN Accuses Libya Army of Seeking to Torpedo Peace Deal
The United Nations accused the army of Libya’s internationally recognised government on Sunday of deliberately trying to sabotage crunch peace talks with a new offensive in second city Benghazi. The UN Support Mission in Libya called for an immediate halt to the offensive announced by controversial army chief Khalifa Haftar on Saturday to give peace talks between the country’s rival parliaments a chance. UNSMIL said it “strongly condemns the military escalation in Benghazi”. “The air strikes are a clear attempt to undermine and derail the ongoing efforts to end the conflict at a time when the negotiations have entered a final and most critical stage,” it said. AFP on Yahoo News

UNHCR Repatriates over 4,000 Somali Refugees from Kenya
The UN refugee agency said that it has so far repatriated 4,108 Somali refugees from Dadaab refugee camp in northeast Kenya to Somalia since December last year. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in its bi-Weekly Update received in Nairobi Saturday that 250 individuals returned to the Horn of Africa nation by road convoy while 224 returnees were assisted to return to Mogadishu by flight in the first half of September. “The total number of returnees assisted under the voluntary return process stood at 4,108 as of Sept. 15 (3,510 by road and 598 by flight),” the UN refugee agency said in its latest report. It said some 4,878 refugees have confirmed their intention to return to Somalia as of Sept. 15, adding that it has strengthened the identification and assessment of people with special needs under the voluntary return process.  Xinhua

Uganda’s Veteran President Gets Nod to Run Again, Faces Tough Rival
Uganda’s veteran President Yoweri Museveni got the formal go-ahead from his party to stand again in elections next year, setting him up for a possible tough confrontation with ally-turned-adversary, former prime minister Amama Mbabazi. Museveni, 71, has already dominated the east African nation for nearly 30 years, with a rule bolstered by economic growth, an often divided opposition and control of the security services. But analysts say Mbabazi – the ruling party’s former secretary general who is now hoping to stand as an opposition candidate – could be the president’s strongest challenger yet. Mbabazi, who was seen as a kingmaker in Museveni’s government before he was sacked as prime minister in 2014, originally stood against Museveni to get the ruling National Resistance Movement’s presidential nomination.  Reuters on Yahoo News

Nyakairima Death: Radio Katwe, Social Media Explode with Conspiracy Theories
Therefore, news of the passing on of Internal Affairs Minister and former Chief of Defence Forces General Aronda Nyakairima last week was, not surprisingly, met with speculation about the cause of death. As soon as news broke that Gen Nyakairima had died on Emirates Airlines flight EK323 from South Korea to Dubai, the New Vision newspaper, quoting government spokesman Ofwono Opondo, tweeted the cause of death as cardiac arrest.  The East African

France’s Hollande Visits Morocco After Torture Row
French President Francois Hollande arrived in Morocco Saturday on an official visit that takes place against a backdrop of controversy over torture lawsuits in Paris against the kingdom’s intelligence chief. Hollande, accompanied by five ministers and a delegation of business leaders, was met on the tarmac in Tangiers by King Mohammed VI at the start of the two-day visit. “I want France and Morocco to enter a new phase of partnership,” Hollande said. “We have a common will to act in Africa and also to fight against terrorism, which remains our top priority,” he said after receiving military honours and a traditional offering of dates and milk.  AFP on Yahoo News

French Imams to Receive ‘Tolerance’ Training in Morocco
French imams are set to be sent for training in Morocco where they will be instructed in the “values of openness and tolerance”, it was announced Saturday as French President François Hollande began a two-day visit to the north African country. The training will take place at the Mohammed VI Institute in Rabat – an €18 million facility opened in March this year with the goal of educating Muslim scholars and imams from all over the world. A joint declaration from Paris and Rabat said the training would promote “an Islam with the right balance” that conforms to “values of openness and tolerance” and “fully anchored in the values of the Republic and secularism”.  France 24

Ghana Police Under Fire for Crushing Demonstration Against Ghost Voters
An international human rights group has condemned police in Ghana for using excessive force to crush a protest against alleged ghost voters in the country’s electoral register. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said evidence showed that police used disproportionate force against the protestors during the demonstrations in Accra on Wednesday. Africa Reports

Over 4,500 Migrants Rescued off Libya in one Day
Twenty-one rescue operations Saturday picked up more than 4,500 people off the Libyan coast, according to the Italian coastguard, as calm seas sparked a flurry of attempts at the perilous Mediterranean boat crossing. Among those taking part was Doctors Without Borders ship Bourbon Argos, which told AFP it had rescued more than 800 people, who were expected to be brought to safety in Italy along with the rest of those saved. “We started before first light this morning with our first rescue. We rescued two wooden fishing boats and two rubber dinghies,” said Simon Burroughs, emergency coordinator for search-and-rescue missions by the medical group — commonly known by its French initials MSF.  GlobalPost

AP Investigation: Bungling by UN agency Hurt Ebola Response
As a worker at Kenema Government Hospital mixed a batch of chlorine on a broiling August day, he noticed it didn’t have its typically strong, bleach-like odor. Concerned, he turned to a consultant with the World Health Organization, who tested the disinfectant and found barely any active ingredient. “I was deeply shocked,” the consultant, Jerome Souquet, wrote in an email to his boss in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. Souquet said the consequences of using the ineffective chlorine “could be catastrophic, and cause immediate infection of all the staff.” Questionable chlorine was just one of a toxic mix of avoidable problems faced by Ebola responders in Kenema last summer as the outbreak was spiking. Weak leadership, shoddy supplies and infighting exacerbated a chaotic situation at a critical front in the battle against the virus, an Associated Press investigation has found. More than 40 health workers died in Kenema — a devastating loss in the fight to control an epidemic that has claimed more than 11,000 lives.  AP

Tanzania Stops Malawi Burning Ivory Stockpile
Tanzania has blocked Malawi from burning 2.6 tonnes of ivory, saying it needs to use the tusks as evidence for the prosecution of suspected poachers. The nearly 800 tusks were intercepted by customs officials as they were being smuggled into Malawi from Tanzania. The director of Malawi’s wildlife department said he was disappointed with the court order, which bans the burning of the ivory for three months. Malawi’s elephant population has halved since 1980, mainly due to poaching.  BBC

Mapping the World’s Winners and Losers from China Trade
The United States has long had large deficits with China, and those have only gotten larger over the past year. Germany has seen its surplus shrink by more than a third as export of automobiles has fallen. And India, in the midst of advancing a bold economic program to support domestic manufacturing, has seen its deficit increase drastically. In China’s near periphery, Thailand is now running a deficit. Myanmar and Singapore have seen their deficits explode.Particularly hard hit is Australia, which during the first seven months of 2014 ran a surplus of more than $5.5 billion a month with China, a growing interdependence that caused many to ask how the country would balance the security relation with the United States and a trade relation with China. But over the first seven months of 2015, Australia’s monthly surplus has fallen by an average of more than $2.3 billion versus one year ago, as commodity prices, largely iron ore, have fallen and China’s construction has slowed. Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones