Media Review for September 28, 2015

Sectarian Clashes Kill 24 in Central African Republic Capital
The murder of a Muslim taxi driver in the capital city of the Central African Republic set off a spasm of bloody sectarian violence, leaving dozens dead or wounded in a stark reminder that the situation in the country remains extraordinarily fragile despite months of relative calm. The violence took a heavy toll, with at least 24 people killed on Saturday and nearly 100 wounded, according to hospital and medical NGO sources. The unrest continued into Sunday, prompting complaints that French and U.N. peacekeepers didn’t act fast enough to halt the killing. “The events of [Saturday] and [Sunday] are very serious. We count many crimes against property and persons,” Security Minister Dominique Said Paguindji said in an interview. “We will deal with this situation diplomatically to avoid civilian casualties that would add to the death toll.” The violence reportedly kicked off after a Muslim taxi driver was found dead in the streets of Bangui. Christian militiamen known as the Anti-Balaka had allegedly abducted him the previous day, after he had delivered a passenger to the airport. Foreign Policy

Gunfire, Looting in Central African Capital Despite Curfew
Sporadic gunfire rang out in the capital of the Central African Republic overnight despite a curfew imposed following weekend violence that claimed at least 20 lives, residents said Monday. Gunfire was heard in particular near a central police station in Bangui, they said, adding that several shops and homes were looted during the dusk-to-dawn curfew. Medical sources said that in addition to the more than 20 dead, around 100 people were wounded in Saturday’s violence sparked by the murder of a motorcycle-taxi driver in central Bangui’s Muslim-majority PK-5 neighbourhood. AFP on Yahoo News

Burkina Faso Disbands unit Behind Failed  Coup
Burkina Faso’s cabinet has dissolved the elite presidential guard unit that took the interim president and prime minister hostage in a failed coup just weeks before elections, according to a series of decrees read on state television.  The government on Saturday also dismissed the minister in charge of security and created a commission to identify those responsible for the coup attempt. The cabinet meeting was the first since President Michel Kafando was restored to power on Wednesday. “Judicial prosecutions will immediately be engaged against the authors and accomplices,” state television RTB announced, according to the Reuters news agency. The country’s attorney general also said it was moving to freeze the assets of those involved in the coup, the Associated Press news agency reported. The cabinet also abolished the post of head of the president’s military council. Al Jazeera

Burkina Faso Prosecutor Freezes Assets of Leaders of Failed Coup
The state prosecutor of Burkina Faso on Saturday froze the assets of General Gilbert Diendere, who led a failed coup last week in which his men took the president and prime minister hostage just weeks before elections. The prosecutor said in a statement he was also freezing the assets of 13 others suspected of links to the coup as well as the political party of former President Blaise Compaoré and three other parties. France 24

Burkina Faso Moves On From Failed Coup, Gears Up for Election
In the aftermath of the failed coup in Burkina Faso, questions are being raised on how to get the electoral process on track again and whether members of the former ruling party will take part. But the streets of Burkina Faso’s capital city, Ouagadougou, are busy again as people try to move on from the events of September 16, which paralyzed all economic activity for a week. Saidou Zangre reopened his clothes shop Saturday. “The recovery can’t be automatic,” he said. “It is also our role to come back into the city center and show people that it’s OK, that there is no problem anymore.” The transitional government, led by interim President Michel Kafando, met Friday, two days after he announced he was back in charge. The decision was made to dissolve the presidential guard, or RSP, the elite unit that was behind the failed coup.  VOA

UN Rights Chief Alarmed About Arrests, Killings in Burundi
The U.N. human rights chief is expressing concerns about arrests, detentions and “unexplained killings” in Burundi. Zeid Raad al-Hussein says dead bodies are found nearly every day on the streets in some neighborhoods of Bujumbura, the capital, and “in many cases, the victims appear to have been killed by a bullet fired at close range.” In a statement Monday, Zeid pointed to an intensification of police searches aimed to seize illegal weapons in Bujumbura and said reports suggested that many of those killed had been arrested beforehand by the police or the National Intelligence Agency. His said his office has registered 90 cases of torture, 134 killings, and hundreds of cases of arbitrary arrest and detention since April, including 704 arrests this month alone. AP on ABC News

Huge Demo in Brazzaville Against President
Thousands of people massed in Congo’s capital Brazzaville on Sunday in an opposition protest against plans by veteran ruler Denis Sassou Nguesso for a constitutional referendum that would let him extend his rule. The rally was the biggest since Sassou Ngeusso returned to power in 1997, an AFP journalist said. If the referendum is approved, Sassou Ngeusso would be eligible to contest elections next year. Sassou Ngeusso, a former rebel leader, announced last Tuesday plans for the referendum but gave no dates. The 72-year-old president had previously convened a “national dialogue”, which came out “by a large majority” in favour of amending the constitution to remove an upper limit on the age of presidential candidates as well as the number of terms the head of state can serve. News 24

‘10 Dead’ in Benghazi Clashes Between Libya Army, Jihadists
Seven jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and three soldiers of Libya’s recognised government died in weekend clashes in the eastern city of Benghazi, military and medical sources said Sunday. A source at the city’s Al-Jalaa hospital, quoted by Libya’s government-run news agency, said three soldiers were killed and 21 colleagues wounded during the Saturday-Sunday clashes in the Saberi district of central Benghazi. Seven members of Libyan branches of ISIS were killed and seven others captured, according to the army’s central command. Controversial army chief Khalifa Haftar announced a military offensive on September 19 against anti-government forces in Benghazi, 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) east of the capital Tripoli. AFP on Al Arabiya

Death Toll in Mozambique Renamo Shootout Rises to 20: Police
The death toll in a roadside gun battle involving a convoy carrying Mozambique’s opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama has risen to 20, police said Sunday, heightening tensions in the troubled southern African nation. Accounts of how Friday’s shootout near Imchope in central Mozambique began differ widely, with Dhlakama’s Renamo party claiming it was an ambush. Police say armed men in Dhlakama’s 12-vehicle convoy opened fire first on a minibus taxi carrying civilians. “According to our reports, it seems the minibus came too close to Renamo’s convoy, who thought it was attacking, so they opened fire,” police commander Armando Mude told AFP. AFP on Yahoo News

Zimbabwe’s White Farmers Find Their Services in Demand Again
When Tracy Mutinhiri struggled to get her tobacco crop to grow, she turned to some of the country’s most experienced farmers for help. There was only one complication: They were white. In Zimbabwe, farmland has been a central issue in the African nation’s violent struggles over race. Fifteen years ago, the government began seizing property from thousands of white farmers and giving it to blacks as recompense for the abuses of colonial rule. But now, as agricultural output stalls, black landowners are quietly reaching out to white farmers who were thrown off their land. “The problem now is that we have the land, but they have the experience,” said Mutinhiri, a black landowner. “We need to help each other.” President Robert Mugabe has said forging ties with white farmers is a step backward. He initially won fame as a guerrilla fighter against white minority rule, which ended with Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980.

UK to Deploy Troops to Help Keep Peace in Somalia and South Sudan
Hundreds of British troops will be deployed to Somalia and South Sudan to train African peacekeeping forces in order to foster “less terrorism and less migration”,David Cameron has said. The prime minister said he was offering forces to United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU) missions to help tackle conflicts that are facilitating the rise of terrorist groups in Somalia and prompting mass migration from South Sudan, where 2 million people have been displaced by the battle between the government and rebels. About 70 members of the military personnel will be offered to help in Somalia, where a peacekeeping unit is present to tackle the threat of the Islamist group al-Shabaab. They will not be involved in combat operations but will help train AU forces in areas including logistics, engineering and medical aid. The Guardian

Somalia Parliament Speaker Drops Impeachment Motion Against President
Somalia’s parliamentary speaker has withdrawn an impeachment motion brought against President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud – the latest crisis to threaten the country’s stability as it struggles to rebound from two decades of chaos and war. Somali lawmakers last month filed the motion against Mohamud, accusing him of abuse of office and “betraying the country”. Mohamud has said he is committed to holding elections before his term runs out in August 2016. International envoys have urged a rapid resolution to the crisis. “We have dropped the motion against the president,” parliament’s speaker Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari said late on Friday, adding he had convened a meeting on Oct.7 to try to resolve the issues raised in the motion. Reuters

Bureaucracy Hampers Operations of Eastern African Standby Force
The Eastern African Standby Force’s operations are hampered by red tape that has delayed its rapid response to crises in the region, despite having achieved full capability nine months ago. Unlike the four other standby forces in Africa that are anchored in their respective regional economic communities and are able to react quickly to safeguard regional interests, the EASF is not linked to the East African Community, thus prolonging the time for consultations in times of crisis. For the EASF to intervene, it needs a request from the African Union Peace and Security Council; the request is then discussed by the Council of Ministers on Defence and Security before approval by the Summit of Heads of State from troop-contributing countries.  Macharia Munene, a history lecturer at the United States International University in Nairobi, faults the deployment procedures, arguing that waiting for approval from the AU, which has been previously accused of being slow to respond, could see the force overtaken by events in a crisis.  The East African

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Crisis: 200 Fighters Surrender
Some 200 members of the Boko Haram Islamist militant group have given themselves up, in the biggest such surrender, Nigeria’s army says. The fighters are said to have handed themselves over in the town of Banki on the border with Cameroon. The military earlier said the town had been recaptured from Boko Haram but there is no independent confirmation. Some 17,000 people are said to have been killed in the six-year insurgency, mainly in northern Nigeria. BBC

Smuggling Kingpin Apparently Killed with Bodyguards in Libya – But Who Was he and Who Did it?
The claims, as often in Libya, were dramatic: Salah al-Maskhout, the country’s biggest people smuggler, had been shot dead along with eight of his bodyguards in the capital, Tripoli. Prime suspects were a special forces unit of the Italian army, accused by officials of the Tripoli-based government – one of two rival authorities in war-torn Libya – of responsibility, on the basis of the ammunition employed. The shoot-out had happened near the Tripoli Medical Centre, the city’s main hospital, on Friday morning as Mr Maskhout, alleged mastermind of the biggest operation smuggling migrants across the Mediterranean sea, was leaving a relative’s house. A four-strong hit squad armed with handguns reportedly used their 4×4 vehicle to block the man’s car as he was leaving, killing him and others. The Telegraph

How Spain Halted the Flow of Migrants from Mauritania to the Canary Islands
[…] fricans looking to make their way to Europe, Nouadhibou’s location 800 kilometers south of the Canary Islands makes it an attractive place. Which explains why the EU and Spanish authorities keep a very close eye on the thousands of small fishing boats moored here. In 2006, when Morocco began cracking down on illegal immigration, the traffic in people seeking a new life in Europe moved south to Mauritania and Senegal, from where Spanish territory could be reached within five or six days. The sea crossing is dangerous, but that hasn’t stopped more than 31,500 people succeeding in making the journey to the Canary Islands in recent years. But as suddenly as the exodus started, it has stopped. In 2008, 108 rickety boats reached the Canaries from Mauritania; so far this year, not one has arrived. It’s not easy to explain how the flood of people has come to a halt, but part of the answer is to be found in Nouadhibou. El Pais

U.N. Adopts Ambitious Global Goals After Years of Negotiations
[…] The goals apply to all countries, and they are fleshed out with 169 specific targets for action. The estimated price tag for achieving them is $3 trillion, and few people think it will be easy. “The low-hanging fruit have almost all been picked,” said Jim Kim, the president of the World Bank. Though the goals are not legally binding on any country, they gain moral force from having been adopted by consensus after three years of lengthy negotiations. The sticking points along the way included objections from Qatar, the Vatican and others over access to sexual and reproductive health services, and pushback from the United States and others over reducing inequality. There were, and still are, fierce disagreements over tax loopholes used by firms in poor countries, and on the need to root out corruption.  The New York Times

Africa at Heart of UN Development Summit Goals
The Summit on Sustainable Development held at the UN General Assembly in New York on 25-27 September will see 193 countries ratify ambitious global goals to end extreme poverty and hunger, address the impact of climate change and reduce inequality by 2030. Africa will be at the heart of the discussions. Member states will formally adopt the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) and 169 accompanying targets resulting from the largest consultation process the UN has conducted in its 70-year history. The summit sets some very ambitious targets, such as a goal of zero poverty, zero hunger, better healthcare, higher education, gender equality throughout the world, all this to be achieved before 2030.  RFI

SA soldiers Repel Deadly Ambush in Dafur
Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) deployed in Sudan as part of the UN-African Union hybrid mission repelled a deadly ambush by rebels in the Darfur region on Sunday morning‚ the SANDF said in a statement. One South African soldier was killed in the attack while another was seriously wounded‚ it said. “The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans‚ Chief of the South African National Defence Force‚ Chief of Joint Operations Division and Chief of the South African Army convey their heartfelt condolences to the family‚ relatives‚ friends and comrades of the deceased and wish the injured member a speedy recovery‚” the communique said.  Times Live

South Sudan President Assigns Top Allied Military Commander
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, has issued a republican order assigning a high ranking allied militia commander to the highest military command of the national army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), in the country. In an order broadcast by the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV) on 23 September, president Kiir assigned allied militia commander, Lieutenant General, Bapiny Monytuil, as SPLA deputy chief of general staff for moral orientation. Sudan Tribune

Ivory Coast Police ‘Block Opposition Rally’
Riot police prevented an opposition demo from taking place in Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan on Saturday by blocking off the rally site and threatening would-be demonstrators with teargas, opposition supporters said. One of the protest organisers was arrested, the opposition National Coalition for Change (CNC) told AFP. With a month to go until a presidential election in which President Alassane Ouattara is seeking a controversial second term, the CNC had called on supporters to gather in Abidjan’s Yopougon neighbourhood. But protesters said they arrived early on Saturday morning to find the area occupied by heavily armed riot police. News 24

Alleged Islamic Extremist Accused of Destroying Timbuktu Monuments Sent to Hague
An alleged Islamic extremist charged with involvement in the destruction of religious buildings in the historic city of Timbuktu in Mali in 2012 has been arrested and was sent to the International Criminal Court early on Saturday. Ahmad Al Mahdi Al Faqi, known as Abu Tourab, is the first suspect in the court’s custody charged with the war crime of destroying religious or historical monuments. Al Faqi was surrendered to the court by Niger based on an arrest warrant issued a week ago and transferred to the Hague early on Saturday. No date was immediately set for his arraignment. The court said in a statement he was a member of Ansar Dine, an Islamic extremist group with links to al-Qaida that ruled across northern Mali in 2012. The Guardian

Hajj stampede: 54 Nigerians killed
At least 54 Nigerians are known to have died in Thursday’s stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, says Nigeria’s National Hajj Commission. It was the deadliest incident to hit the Hajj in 25 years. At least 769 pilgrims from around the world died in the crush. Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry said the crush appears to have been caused when two waves of pilgrims converged at right angles at an intersection on Thursday morning. The pilgrims were taking part in the Hajj’s last major rite – throwing stone at pillars called Jamarat, where Satan is believed to have tempted the Prophet Abraham. BBC

US to Spend $300 Million to Fight HIV in Africa
The Obama administration said on Saturday it was allotting an additional $300 million to the effort to reduce HIV infection among girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African countries. The sum would help the main US program for fighting AIDS in Africa to meet goals including providing antiretroviral treatment to 12.9 million people by the end of 2017, said Susan Rice, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser. “No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS. Every year, 380 000 adolescent girls and young women are infected with HIV,” she said in a statement.  News 24

Rwanda Among Safest Countries Globally: Report
Rwanda has been ranked among the safest countries in the world that provide conducive atmosphere to people who walk alone at night, according to the Gallup Global Law and Order 2015 Report. Gallup’s Law and Order Index is a worldwide measure that gauges people’s sense of personal security in their neighbourhoods and their personal experiences with crime and law enforcement. The report released on Friday named Rwanda among few countries globally that have tightened safety and security of citizens hence enabling people to freely walk alone at night. According to the survey Singapore, topped the international poll with an overall Law and Order Index of 91, ahead of Hong Kong, Norway, Spain and Rwanda in that order. Rwanda scored 85 percent in the global ranking.  Xinhua Anti-Poaching Battlefield Draws U.S. Veterans
KIIn the last decade, poachers have killed more than half of central Africa’s elephants. Now, a group of U.S. veterans is rallying to stop the illegal killing of animals on the continent. Kinessa Johnson served as an Army mechanic in Afghanistan. A knee injury sent her back to civilian life early. “I got out. I was really confused. I kind of became a nomad for a month,” she said. She modeled for gun companies and worked as a firearms instructor. She moved to Western Washington, always searching for the sense of purpose she’d known in the military. That’s when she met Marine Corps veteran Ryan Tate. “It’s time that we start using those skills and putting them back to work,” said Tate. Military Times



Photo: Adam Jones