Media Review for September 25, 2015

Soldiers Leave Capital, Burkina Faso Returns to Calm
People lined up at gas stations and money machines in Burkina Faso’s capital on Thursday as life began returning to normal after a week-long coup. Interim President Michel Kafando and interim Prime Minister Yacouba Isaac Zida were reinstalled on Wednesday and government soldiers who had remained loyal to the government withdrew overnight. Members of the presidential guard that staged the coup were confined to their barracks. People in Ouagadougou went out early Thursday to buy sheep at the market for slaughter in celebration of Eid al-Adha, known here as Tabaski, one of Islam’s most important holidays. AP On Yahoo News

Coup Reversal Restores Calm in Burkina Faso
Life is getting back to normal in Burkina Faso as the country recovers from a week-long political crisis provoked by a coup that was reversed Wednesday. Army tanks and policemen are less visible in the streets of the capital, Ouagadougou, a day after coup leaders from the presidential guard handed power back to the transitional civilian government. Some banks are open for the first time in days, as are shops in the market, which comes as a relief to Ouagadougou residents such as Kafanda Haruna. “Here in the market, it was difficult to find food,” he said. “We suffered a lot.” Most petrol stations remain closed but are due to reopen Friday. Fuel shortages led street vendors to increase gas prices by 50% this week. VOA

How the people of Burkina Faso foiled a military coup
If there is one thing that Burkina Faso has proved, it is that the country has an almost unlimited capacity to confound the predictions of even the most seasoned observers. When citizens protested against then president Blaise Compaoré last year, no one expected the mass movement to work – or to see the much-feared Compaoré, who had clung to power for 27 years, retreat into exile. And last week, when the head of the presidential guard arrested the interim leadership and declared himself in charge just three weeks before planned elections, few thought that General Gilbert Diendéré would be forced out within the week. Yet this is exactly what happened.  The Guardian

Melly: ‘Burkina Faso’s Diendere Not in a Position to Set Amnesty Conditions’
Burkinabes rejoiced in the capital Ouagadougou, a day after the military restored power to a civilian regime. Several thousand residents gathered in the city’s municipal stadium for prayers on the Muslim feast, Eid al-Adha. Others lined up at gas stations and money machines. Market places were busy with people buying food to prepare in celebration of the feast, one of Islam’s most important holidays. According to AP, Muslim leader Aboubakar Sana, called for peace and dialogue, during prayers, that will lead to free and fair elections. Prime Minister Isaac Zida announced on Wednesday that there would be a delay of several weeks before elections could be held. The elections were scheduled for October 11. Soldiers in Burkina Faso withdrew from the capital on Wednesday night after a transitional government was reinstalled. General Gilbert Diendere acknowledged that people had been killed during the coup and took full responsibility for the consequences. At least 10 people lost their lives, with more than 110 wounded.  Deutsche Welle

Burkina Faso: How to Get the Transition Back On Track
When Burkina Faso’s President Blaise Compaore introduced a bill in Parliament in October 2014 to modify the Constitution to extend his term in office, he never imagined that it would trigger an uprising that would end his 27-year-long authoritarian rule. The transitional period that ensued was set to culminate with presidential and legislative elections on October 11. But barely a month before the elections, on September 16, the presidential guard loyal to Compaore staged a coup d’etat. Within days, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) stepped in to mediate a situation that threatened to degenerate into violence. allAfrica

Uganda Warns of Possible Attack by Somali Militants
Ugandan police warned of a possible attack on mosques including in the capital Kampala by Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants and cautioned the public to be vigilant. Police said they had received intelligence indicating al Shabaab was planning an attack on Kampala during the Eid al-Adha holiday on Thursday. “The hunt for the al Shabaab cell/group behind this planned attack is ongoing, we call upon the general public to be extra alert and vigilant,” the statement, issued late on Wednesday, said. Police have increased security around the city. The east African country has issued frequent warnings of planned al Shabaab attacks since 2010 when twin bombings killed 79 people. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for those attacks, saying they were revenge for Uganda’s deployment of troops in Somalia. East African

S African Troops Pulled out of DRC for Violations
The South African military has said it is withdrawing about 50 peacekeepers from a UN mission in Congo to face a court martial because they violated disciplinary codes, a military spokesman said.  The violations included leaving a base after curfew, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said on Thursday. The troops were deployed in eastern Congo as part of a unit with a mandate to fight rebel groups, according to a South African military statement. The statement said the personnel compromised the security of other South African troops and would face prosecution. It said they violated not only the South African military conduct codes but also those of UN peacekeepers, the Associated Press news agency reported.  Al Jazeera

UN defends Arms Shipment in Kenya, Calls Drug Claim Disturbing
Weapons discovered by Kenyan authorities aboard a Norwegian ship were part of a legitimate cargo for United Nations peacekeepers and the vessel should not have been inspected without a UN presence, a Unite Nations spokesperson said on Thursday. Kenyan authorities said they uncovered weapons and a drug-like substance stashed inside a shipment of UN vehicles when they boarded the Norwegian-flagged Hoegh Transporter at the port of Mombasa last week. “It is unfortunate that the Kenyan authorities inspected the cargo without a UN presence, which runs contrary to established protocol and provisions surrounding privileges and immunities,” the UN said in a statement signed by its spokesperson in Nairobi, Nasser Ega-Musa.  News 24

Testimony Mounts in Habre Trial
As an avalanche of testimony overwhelms exiled dictator Hissene Habre, his lawyers have repeatedly employed one line of defence – that there is no smoking gun linking him to the atrocities of 1980s Chad. The 73-year-old is making history in the dock of a special tribunal in Senegal over his regime’s brutality – the first time a despot from one African country has been called to account by another. News 24

US Pledges $45 Million for African Nations Fighting Boko Haram
The White House said on Thursday that it would send up to $45 million in defence services, including military training, to support African countries in their fight against the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria will receive support that builds on the training and military equipment the United States has already supplied in the fight against the group, White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. France 24

In Rwanda, ‘Reeducation’ Means Detention for Homeless, Hawkers and Other Undesirables
In  Rwanda’s creepy Big Brother speak, the facility behind the high red-brick walls of a disused factory in the capital is called a “transit center.” Its job is “reeducation” and “rehabilitation.” But it’s more like a prison, according to former detainees. Inside its walls, street beggars, homeless people, drunks, street hawkers, prostitutes, “idlers” and others, many of them the poorest of the poor, are held without charge, some for months, according to a report Thursday by Human Rights Watch. The name for staff members at police-operated Gikondo Transit Center who mete out regular beatings? “Counselors.” “They say Kwa Kabuga is a reeducation center, but it is a prison,” one former detainee told HRW in February 2014, using the center’s nickname. “So I ask, why not call this place a prison?”  LA Times

Uganda Warns of Possible Attack by Somali Militants
Ugandan police warned of a possible attack on mosques including in the capital Kampala by Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab militants and cautioned the public to be vigilant. Police said they had received intelligence indicating al Shabaab was planning an attack on Kampala during the Eid al-Adha holiday on Thursday. “The hunt for the al Shabaab cell/group behind this planned attack is ongoing, we call upon the general public to be extra alert and vigilant,” the statement, issued late on Wednesday, said. Police have increased security around the city. The east African country has issued frequent warnings of planned al Shabaab attacks since 2010 when twin bombings killed 79 people. Reuters

Nigeria: Things ‘Collapse into Place’
Overall, it is estimated by the UN that Nigeria’s population will expand from 180-million today to more than 400-million by 2050, making it the world’s third most populous country. Properly trained and harnessed, this upsurge in the country’s population could offer a demographic dividend. But that will require doing things differently . Deutsche Welle

Egypt to Equip its New Mistral-Class Helicopter Carriers With 50 Russian Made Ka-52K Alligators
Egypt, France and Russia have reached an agreement to sell Egypt the two Mistral Helicopter Carriers originally built in France for the Russian Navy. Saudi Arabia is likely to finance the acquisition, as it supported the other arms deals Egypt has struck with France. Each Mistral vessel is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, up to 1000 troops and 50 armored vehicles. Egypt is also buying Russian Ka-52K helicopters from the Russian Helicopters Company, Russian news agency TASS reported. These helicopters were originally designed to operate from the vessel in Russian service. The Russian Navy is also expected to buy these helicopters, becoming operational in 2017-2018; Egypt is expected to receive its first helicopters at the same time.  Defense Updates

Killing of Mexican Tourists Puts Scrutiny on Western Arms Sales to Egypt
An attack by Egyptian security forces that killed a dozen people including eight Mexican tourists last week has prompted calls for renewed scrutiny on a recent increase in US and European arms sales to Egypt. Human rights groups said the killing on 13 September in Egypt’s Western Desert was an illustration of a deeper problem of how Egypt’s military and police use lethal force. In Egypt’s north Sinai region, where the government is battling Isis militants, residents say the military has displayed a pattern of indiscriminate killing which the government denies. The airstrike on the picnicking Mexican visitors reportedly involved a US-made Apache helicopter gunship. Survivors said that they were bombed about five times during the three-hour attack. The Guardian

Congo Brazzaville Opposition to Protest President’s Third Term Bid
A Congo Brazzaville opposition leader said the people will take to the streets this Sunday to protest President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s decision to seek a third term. Guy Kinfoussia Romain, president of the Union for Democracy and Republic party, said Congolese will take a page from Burkina Faso, where civil society and labor unions played a key role in blunting former President Blaise Compaore’s bid to seek a third term and made sure that this month’s military coup did not succeed. The 72-year-old Sassou Nguesso has ruled oil-producing Congo Brazzaville for 31 years in two separate administrations. But he’s banned by the current constitution from seeking another term, and only candidates under the age of 71 can run.  VOA

Conflict-Hit Mali Names New Government
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita named a new government on Thursday, with cabinet members replaced in the key security and justice posts in the conflict-hit west African nation. Prime Minister Modibo Keita’s second cabinet since his appointment in January, announced by presidential decree, has 31 members in addition to the premier, against 29 in the previous administration. Salif Traore, a former regional governor, takes over the security and civil protection portfolio from Sada Samake while Sanogo Aminata Malle, a magistrate, becomes justice minister, replacing Mamadou Diarra.  AFP on Yahoo .com

The Big Reckoning: How Many People Did the Millennium Goals Save?
Two years after it became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve theUN millennium development goal (MDG) of halving hunger and extreme poverty– the mood in the west African nation is a little despondent. Qansah and her husband, James, have six children. In an exceptionally good week, his work as a carpenter and her cosmetic and culinary labours will bring in 900 cedis (£150). Almost half of that, says Mercy, goes on food alone. “It’s just by the grace of God that we are surviving and pulling through,” she adds. “Generally speaking, things are not good for us. Life is difficult.”  The Guardian

Severe Droughts Leave Africans Hungry and Desperate
[…]  the severity of this year’s drought has written off her sunflower crop and destroyed the harvest across this swath of agricultural land in northern Uganda. The damage to food production is spreading across the continent: From Angola to Zimbabwe, officials say more than 30 million Africans will need help to survive the looming tropical dry season after the worst droughts since 1992 slashed this year’s harvest of such staples as corn, rice and beans by half. Those farmers and their customers will look to international agencies and their governments for aid. But this year’s shortages are being aggravated by an incongruous dynamic: Surging economic growth has diminished many nations’ reliance on foreign donors, leaving them more exposed to the ravages of unexpected droughts and storms. The Wall Street Journal

Africa’s Oil Boom Goes Bust
A decade of decadence has come to an end for African oil producers. International oil prices have fallen from last summer’s $100 per barrel highs, to averages of $56 in the first half of this year. After generating hundreds of billions of dollars in wealth over a commodities super-cycle, Africa’s big oil producers are facing economic crises and the threat of political instability. Even the continent’s new petro-states, some with relatively strong institutions and laws on transparency and accountability, are feeling the strain, well before their oil industries have really taken off. There are some winners from the international oil price rout. South Africa, Kenya and other major net importers on the continent, for instance, are benefiting from the fall in prices, with foreign oil typically making up a large share of their respective import bills. But there are also many losers. African Arguments

Mecca Eid al-Adha Hajj Stampede: Saudi Prince Blames African Pilgrims for over 700 Dead
Saudi Arabia’s head of the central Hajj commitee, Prince Khaled al-Faisal, has blamed the crush outside the holy city of Mecca that killed at least 717 people and injured 850 more on “some pilgrims with African nationalities”, according to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV. People from several different countries are reported to have died in the stampede, which took place when two groups of pilgrims arrived at a crossroads on Street 204 at the tent city of Mina for a traditional stone-throwing ritual. Prince Khaled’s controversial remarks on undisciplined pilgrims were echoed by Saudi health minister Khaled al-Falih, who was quoted by El-Ekhbariya television as saying that “many pilgrims move without respecting the timetables [set by authorities, which was the] principal reason for this type of accident. If the pilgrims had followed instructions, this type of accident could have been avoided.” […] The head of Iran’s Hajj organisation, Said Ohadi, said the incident was caused by the authorities’ decision to close two paths near the scene of the symbolic ’stoning of the devil’ ritual. “Today’s incident shows mismanagement and lack of serious attention to the safety of pilgrims. There is no other explanation.



Photo: Adam Jones