Media Review for September 22, 2015

Burkina Faso Coup Leader Gen Diendere Given Ultimatum
Burkina Faso’s army has given the coup leader an ultimatum to surrender or face an assault, as its troops reach the capital, Ouagadougou. Negotiations between army chiefs and the presidential guard are under way to avert bloodshed, security sources said. Gen Gilbert Diendere seized power last week after opposing moves to integrate the presidential guard into the army. He has released the president and the prime minister, following talks brokered by mediators. BBC

Burkina Faso Coup Leaders Free Detained Prime Minister
Burkina Faso coup leaders have released the country’s prime minister, Isaac Zida, from custory, Al Jazeera has learnt. The prime minister was detained alongside the country’s president and unknown number of cabinet ministers last Wednesday by presidential guard soldiers who then installed General Gilbert Diendere, a close ally of deposed long-term president Blaise Compaore, as leader of the west African country. The release of Zida, on Tuesday, comes hours after army soldiers entered the capital Ouagadougou without resistance after coup leader General Gilbert Diendere said he would hand over power to a civilian transitional government. Army leaders also began surrender talks late on Monday with the elite presidential guard that staged the coup.  Al Jazeera

Burkina Coup Leader Apologizes, Pledges to Step Down
The leader of last week’s coup in Burkina Faso has apologized to the country and says he is planning to hand over power to a civilian government. In a statement Monday, General Gilbert Diendere, said he will step down as the country’s de facto leader at the conclusion of talks mediated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The regional group is holding an emergency summit in Nigeria’s capital Tuesday to discuss the situation. General Diendere, head of the presidential guard which seized power last Wednesday, told VOA’s French to Africa Service on Monday that he wants to avoid bloodshed. The general said former Burkinabe president Jean-Baptiste Ouedraogo is serving as a go-between in the talks.  VOA

Burkina Faso Demonstrators Protest Proposed Compromise Deal
Demonstrators took to the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital Monday, burning tires to protest a proposed compromise solution to the country’s deepening political crisis as tensions mounted over military rule. Regional mediators spent the weekend trying to broker a compromise between the junta that seized power in a coup last week and other politicians in this West African country. They announced a plan late Sunday that calls for new elections by the end of November. However, the general now in charge of Burkina Faso did not attend the news conference where the draft agreement was read aloud and it was unclear whether he would abide by the plan that calls for him to step aside until the elections can be organized.  AP on ABC News

Burkina Faso Mediators Propose November Vote After Coup
Mediators in Burkina Faso’s political crisis proposed new and more inclusive elections in November, though the military that seized power in a coup last week indicated Sunday it still wanted its general to lead the country during any transitional period. That could prove to be the serious sticking point in a draft agreement released late Sunday following two days of talks led by the presidents of Senegal and Benin. The proposed plan will be taken up Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria, by West African member states of the regional bloc known as ECOWAS. Senegalese President Macky Sall, who helped lead the weekend talks, said the draft was the result of discussions with all parties. “We have two ways out here: The first one is through peace … that will lead to an end of the crisis through fair and democratic elections,” Sall said, adding that the other route would lead to “chaos.”  AP on The Washington Post

ICG: Burkina Faso’s Troubled Legacy of Dictatorship
At least three people have been killed and 60 injured during street clashes in Burkina Faso’s capital as protesters demonstrated against a military coup on 16 September. Crowds gathered in the streets of Ouagadougou to demand the release of the interim president and members of his government, detained by the presidential guard, and the organisation of elections as scheduled for 11 October. Soldiers fired warning shots to disperse the protestors, who responded by throwing stones. Coup leader General Gilbert Diendere told Reuters the trigger for the putsch was a proposal this week by the transitional authorities to dismantle the powerful Presidential Security Guard. International Crisis Group

Protesters in Washington Say No to Burkina Faso Military Junta
Washington-based Burkina Faso citizens and friends of Burkina Faso held a demonstration in front of the White House Sunday to say “no” to the military takeover in their country and “yes” to the scheduled October 11 presidential election.  Meanwhile, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediators led by chairman and Senegalese President Macky Sall late Sunday proposed a new and more inclusive election in November. The proposal would restore the civilian transitional authority, while offering amnesty to the coup leaders. ECOWAS leaders are expected to meet Tuesday in Abuja to discuss the proposal. VOA

Buhari to Host ECOWAS Summit on Burkina Faso Crisis
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday in Abuja host an Extraordinary Summit of the Economic Community of West African States Authority of Heads of State and Government. The information is contained in a statement issued on Monday by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu and made available to journalists on Monday in Abuja. Mr. Shehu said the main item on the agenda of the summit would be the current political situation in Burkina Faso. President Buhari has condemned the coup d’etat in Burkina Faso and called for immediate restoration of civil transitional authority.  Premium Times

Police Confirms 54 Death, 90 Injured in Maiduguri Bomb Blasts
The police on Monday confirmed that 54 persons were killed in Sunday’s multiple bomb attack in parts of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. The Borno State Police Public Relations Officer, Emmanuel Isuku, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) also revealed on phone to journalists that 90 persons were injured. The residents of the troubled town were thrown into apprehension on Sunday evening when bomb explosions were heard in the evening, a sound which re-echoed all over the town. It was gathered that the bomb attacks were targeted at a mosque and business area of Ajilari Cross.  This Day Live

Violence breaks out Ahead of Guinea Eection
Several people were wounded as supporters of rival political factions clashed in northern Guinea, witnesses said Monday, as tension mounts in the race to elect a new president. Activists backing opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo and supporters of President Alpha Conde threw stones at each other in the town of Koundara on Sunday, a local police officer said, in the first violence of the campaign. “The tension had been noticeable since Saturday, when the opposition activists announced an electoral campaign carnival through the city, which the government supporters didn’t want,” said the source, putting the wounded at 17. AFP on Yahoo News

Zambia: New Times, Same Old Problems
Much has changed in Zambia in the last 25 years. But amid all the change, the country’s recent economic travails show just how much has remained the same. The economy is still dependent on copper, accounting for more than 70% of its export income, and thus vulnerable to price swings. As a result of the current commodity downturn, the kwacha has fallen by more than a quarter of its value this year. Daily Maverick

In Sierra Leone, Giving the Stigma of Ebola a Good, Swift Kick
[,,,] It has been more than a year now since the Ebola outbreak peaked. Kenema, the third-largest city in Sierra Leone, has mostly returned to normal. The number of new cases has dwindled to almost nothing, and Sierra Leone has hopes of soon reaching 42 days without any new cases, allowing it to declare itself free of Ebola. However, as the disease fades, problems for the survivors have grown. Across the country, they are being cast out and stigmatized for the disease that almost killed them. Over the past year, many survivors have reported being thrown out of their homes and kicked out of public places. For many in Sierra Leone, the survivors became an unwitting symbol of the destruction that tore the country apart.  The New York Times

Angola Joins Global Chemical Weapons Body
Angola will join the chemical weapons non-proliferation body in The Hague, leaving only four countries that have not become members, the organisation said on Monday. Angola will become the 192nd state to sign up to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, use and stockpiling of all toxic agents for warfare. “I hope that the few remaining countries outside the convention – Egypt, Israel, North Korea and South Sudan – will follow suit quickly to join the global consensus against these terrible weapons,” said Director-General Ahmet Üzümcü. Angola’s membership will start on Oct. 16. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for its work in ridding Syria of its poison stockpile. Reuters

Central African Republic: The Roots of Violence
Crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) is longterm and characterised by sporadic surges of violence against a backdrop of state disintegration, a survival economy and deep inter-ethnic cleavages. Armed groups (including the anti-balaka and the ex-Seleka) are fragmenting and becoming increasingly criminalised; intercommunal tensions have hampered efforts to promote CAR’s national unity and mend its social fabric. Unfortunately, the roadmap to end the crisis, which includes elections before the end of 2015, presents a short-term answer. To avoid pursuing a strategy that would merely postpone addressing critical challenges until after the polls, CAR’s transitional authorities and international partners should address them now by implementing a comprehensive disarmament policy, and reaffirming that Muslims belong within the nation. If this does not happen, the elections risk becoming a zero-sum game. International Crisis Group

DR Congo: is Rebellion the Royal Road to Power?
Even as an international court tries Bosco Ntaganda for alleged war crimes, other ex-rebels hold key posts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, from President Joseph Kabila to government ministers, senators and generals. Since September 2, the former militia chief has been on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in 2002-2003 in the turbulent northeast of the country. Nicknamed “the Terminator” because of a pitiless reputation, Ntaganda took part in successive uprisings before he was made an army general in 2009 under an amnesty given to several armed groups. For Kinshasa, such was the price to pay for peace.  AFP on Yahoo News

Why the President of Ghana Said He Was Like a Dead Goat
A goat stew has been simmering in Ghana’s cooking pots for months. It all began in March. President John Dramani Mahama was definitely in hot water. He’d been facing an unprecedented series of strikes and protests over poor delivery of services and economic difficulties. On an official visit to Botswana, he reportedly told an audience of expatriate Ghanaians: “I have seen more demonstrations and strikes in my first two years. I don’t think it can get worse. It is said that when you kill a goat and you frighten it with a knife, it doesn’t fear the knife, because it is dead already.” So just as a knife doesn’t bother a dead goat, the strikes no longer bother him. The Ghanaian online newspaper JoyOnLine ran the headline: “I have dead goat syndrome — Mahama tells Ghanaians.”  NPR

South Sudan President Will Skip New York Meeting
South Sudan President Salva Kiir will not be attending a meeting at the United Nations later this month called by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to strengthen the ongoing peace process. Information Minister Michael Makuei said President Kiir had already designated his Vice President James Wani Igga to represent the South Sudan government. In addition, Makuei said, the invitation was given to President Kiir on short notice. He said while President Kiir considers the UN meeting very serious, the situation in South Sudan is more serious.  “President Salva Kiir is not going to the United Nations General Assembly meeting because he has already delegated his Vice President James Wani Igga to go and attend the General Assembly meeting as scheduled,” he said. VOA

Evicted Zimbabwe White Farmers in ‘Symbolic South Africa Win’
A property owned by Zimbabwe’s government in South Africa has been sold to compensate white farmers evicted from their land in Zimbabwe. The auction followed a five-year battle to force the government to pay legal costs, after it lost a court challenge against its controversial land reforms. The farmers’ lawyer said it was a “symbolic victory” and vowed to target other Zimbabwe-owned properties. Zimbabwe launched several court bids in a failed attempt to contest the ruling. Property speculator Arthur Tsimatakopoulos bought the house for about $282,000, reports the BBC’s Mohammed Allie in Cape Town. But most of the cash will go on legal costs, the farmers’ lawyer Willie Spies said. BBC

Mugabe Might Quit Before End of Tenure – Zanu-PF Officials
Senior officials from the ruling Zanu-PF party have reportedly indicated that President Robert Mugabe might be forced to quit before his current tenure ends in 2018 due to “explosive succession and economic problems”. This comes as Mugabe, 91, continues to make blunders which the opposition says is a sign the veteran leader is ”too old” to continue leading Zimbabwe. According to the privately owned The Standard newspaper, the past 10 months have been especially telling for Mugabe, who among other things, revealed that his wife has literally “captured me at home”, declared his rival Morgan Tsvangirai the legitimate winner of the 2008 poll, famously fell down a flight of steps in Harare, and read a wrong speech at the opening of parliament last week. News 24

Million Fewer Tourists Visit Tunisia this Year
The number of foreign tourists in Tunisia dropped by 20% to four million in the first eight months of the year after two Islamist attacks that killed dozens of Western visitors, the tourism minister said on Monday. Tunisia, for which foreign tourism is an important contributor to gross domestic product, has been under a state of emergency since the attacks. Security has been heightened around tourist sites and high-profile locations in the capital. Thirty-eight people were killed by a gunman at a hotel in Sousse on the Mediterranean coast in June, three months after 21 tourists were killed by gunmen attacking the Bardo National Museum in the capital Tunis. The Islamic State militant group claimed the two worst attacks in the North African country’s history.  News 24

Car Bomb Attack Near Somalia’s Presidential Palace
At least five people were killed when a car bomb exploded close to the presidential palace in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu on Monday, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility from the Islamist militant group al-Shabaab, which is trying to overthrow President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s Western-backed government. The group stepped up attacks this month, retaking a town in the central region and attacking African Union troops. “So far, we know five soldiers died and over a dozen were wounded,” Ali Hussein, a police officer, told Reuters, adding that the attack might have been aimed at a United Nations convoy that left the palace just before the blast. News 24

‘Close Your Eyes and Pretend to Be Dead’ – What Really Happened Two Years Ago in the Bloody Attack on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, the Somali militant group al-Shabab carried out an assault on Kenya’s Westgate Mall in one of the worst terrorist attacks in the country’s history. A group of young gunmen stalked the halls and stores of the upscale Nairobi shopping center, and methodically murdered at least 67 people. News of the attack seized the world’s attention, dominating international media coverage for days. But much of that reporting was confused and contradictory, mirroring the litany of false and misleading statements made by Kenyan authorities. There were between 10 and 15 gunmen, the interior minister said. Two or three of them were Americans, said another cabinet minister. Together they took hostages, used heavy explosives, and pulled off a three-day siege, according to other government sources. Except none of these things were true.  Foreign Policy

Mali’s Terrorists Cast their Web Wider
Recent terrorist attacks in central and southern Mali point to a deteriorating security situation in the country. The most recent attack occurred on 19 September at Bih, a in town Mali’s central region of Mopti. The attack led to four deaths, two civilians and two police officers. The terrorist threat, previously confined to the north, has spread to the rest of the country. This despite the presence of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the French military under Operation Barkhane. On 7 August, a hotel siege in Sévaré resulted in 13 deaths, of which four were MINUSMA employees. The Macina Liberation Front (MLF) later claimed responsibility for the attack. On 10 June, an attack targeted at the National Gendarmerie in Misséni, located 20 kilometres from the Ivorian border, killed one and injured two soldiers. In March, Bamako became the scene of a terrorist attack in the restaurant, La Terrasse.  ISS

Libya: at Least Six Die in Fighting Near Benghazi
Heavy fighting erupted over the weekend between forces from Libya’s recognised government and Islamist militants west of Benghazi, killing at least six people and heightening tensions in UN peace negotiations. Benghazi is just one front in a wider conflict in Libya, where a battle between two rival governments and their armed allies is pushing the north African state to economic collapse, four years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. At least six people were killed and ten wounded when fighting broke out on Saturday west of Benghazi between General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army forces and fighters allied to Islamic State, a medical source and local residents said. The fighting between General Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army forces and fighters who are allied to Islamic State broke out on Saturday and involved artillery shelling and airstrikes, according to a medical source and local people.  The Guardian

Fed’s Unchanged Rate Leaves Africa Unsettled
The decision by the United States Federal Reserve mid last week to hold off an interest rates hike has left African markets unsettled, with analysts warning that the depreciation of the currencies around the continent is likely to continue. On Thursday, the Fed elected to keep its interest rate at zero, pushing the US dollar lower and temporarily lifting the pressure from most world currencies. Should the the US Federal Reserve decide that it is finally time to start raising interest rates later next month or at the beginning of 2016, African currencies will feel the pressures of a bullish dollar even as central banks try to stem the tide. According to Jeff Gable of Absa Capital, a member of Barclays Bank, the current market environment remains very unstable for most African currencies, and East Africa is no exception.  Last week, Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said that the emerging markets and frontier economies are being affected by speculation on the interest-rate hikes. East African



Photo: Adam Jones