Media Review for September 3, 2015

Today’s News

Heavy Gunfire Rock Burundi Capital
Heavy gunfire fire and shelling have rocked Burundi’s capital Bujumbura two weeks after the surprise swearing in of President Pierre Nkurunziza. Authorities are yet to comment on the overnight shootings but a resident in one of the suburbs in Bujumbura said one person was killed during the fierce exchange of fire between the police and an unknown armed group. The government has previously said that the armed groups that have been attacking the police have no political agenda. “Some were arrested and some weapons confiscated, these armed groups who make attacks don’t have an agenda because even the opposition political leaders don’t recognize them,” deputy police spokesman, Pierre Nkurikiye, told reporters recently. The East African

Anti-Government Protests Resume in Burundi
Anti-government protesters have resumed in some neighborhoods in Burundi’s capital after residents accused the police of harassment. Police have been disarming Bujumbura neighborhoods amid political tensions stemming from the president’s disputed re-election in July. Residents reported heavy gunfire overnight and Wednesday morning as police searched neighborhoods for firearms. In the volatile Musaga area, protesters threw stones at police as others ran to safety amid gunfire and loud explosions. Musaga resident Hussein Abdallah said they were protesting because the police have been making arrests even if they fail to find illegal guns. AP on ABC News

UN Report Reveal new South Sudanese Military Acquisitions
A report released by the UN says that South Sudan has spent more than $850 million on four Mi-24 attack helicopters, Chinese missiles, 10 amphibious vehicles and thousands of Israeli-made rifles in a bid to crush an armed rebellion which broke out in December 2013. The report says the new weapons have been “been instrumental in prolonging and escalating the war” and enabling large-scale violations of humanitarian law. The report, posted on the UN website on 25 August, identified the Israeli assault rifle widely used in South Sudan as the Ace, an upgraded version of the Galil assault rifle which is manufactured by Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI). DefenceWeb

Why does South Sudan Matter so Much to the US?
It wasn’t so much a collective sigh of relief when President Salva Kiir finally signed the peace deal this week. It was more a sense of “let’s see” as the US issued a warning that it would “hold to account” any of the leaders who might stray from their public commitment. For the moment, the champagne is being kept on ice. After more than a year and a half of hostilities and failed peace efforts, threats of sanctions and possible war crimes charges by the US followed. President Obama has been left feeling deeply unimpressed by the South Sudanese leadership. During his recent East Africa visit there was talk of a “Plan B” if the two parties failed to sign a deal. Africa Review

Uganda Says 12 of its Soldiers Killed in Islamist Attack in Somalia
Twelve Ugandan soldiers who served as African Union peacekeepers were killed when militants attacked their base in Somalia this week, a Ugandan military spokesman said on Thursday. The statement suggests a lower death toll than the 70 claimed by al Shabaab, which carried out Tuesday’s attack, although spokesman Paddy Ankunda said he could not confirm if peacekeepers of other nationalities had been killed. The AU peacekeeping mission, known as AMISOM, has not yet released casualty figures for Tuesday’s attack, which came roughly a year after al Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane was killed in a U.S. air strike.  Reuters

Kenya Makes Major Security Reshuffle
Kenya’s government on Wednesday announced major changes in its administrative and security personnel, with a clear focus on tackling the worsening insecurity linked to Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shabaab rebels. Interior minister Joseph Nkaissery said the changes will “strengthen efforts to combat the threat of terrorism and the creeping threat of violent extremism, bring an end to the menace of cattle rustling and enhance the campaigns against illicit alcohol, drug trade and substance abuse.” The reshuffle is “crucial to responding effectively to the current security threats facing us,” he added. News 24

Shabaab Warn Against ‘Immoral Culture’ at Hotels, Beaches
Islamist militants al-Shabaab issued a warning against Somalis who frequent hotels, beaches and nightclubs in the capital Mogadishu, saying it will target men and women who engage in “immoral culture”. Al-Shabaab frequently stages bomb and gun attacks in the capital – and especially around popular hotels – in its bid to topple Somalia’s Western-backed government and impose a harsh version of Islamic law. Somalia, which descended into chaos after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991, is trying to rebuild after two decades of conflict and chaos.  News 24

A Zimbabwean Dissident Was Either Brave or Reckless. Now he’s Missing
In one of the world’s oldest autocracies, Itai Dzamara set a dangerous goal: He would bring down 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe. Starting last year, Dzamara, 36, marched through this city’s streets holding a placard reading “Mugabe must go.” He demonstrated in front of parliament. He delivered a petition to the president’s office, demanding his resignation. He rose to fame for being either brave or reckless, depending on whom you asked. For a while, it seemed he would get away with it. Dzamara was briefly arrested. He was beaten by police officers. But his crusade wasn’t stopped. The Washington Post

From Hyperinflation to Deflation, No End to Zimbabwe’s Decline
Alfred Moyo sees two possible ways of moving stock from his hardware store in Mabvuku township on the eastern outskirts of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital: selling it at a loss or giving it away. “There’s simply no money out there,” he said in a phone interview. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got $10 million worth of stock or $1,000 of stock, either way all you can do is sit it out and hope things will improve.” Moyo is one of thousands of Zimbabwean business owners who are caught up in a spiral of stagnating growth, rising unemployment and now, worsening deflation. Consumer prices have fallen every month since March 2014, dropping 2.8 percent in July from a year ago. That’s a far cry from the days when prices rose an average of 500 billion percent at their peak in 2008, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund. Bloomberg

DRC Bans War Rape Surgeon Doccie
Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday banned a documentary film about a doctor who treats war rape victims, leading the film makers to say the government was trying to silence debate about sexual violence. Media Minister Lambert Mende gave no reason for the decision to ban “The Man who Mends Women (L’Homme Qui Repare Les Femmes)”, which is about Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege, the founder of Panzi Hospital in the eastern city of Bukavu. Sexual violence by militias and the army is a defining atrocity of a conflict in eastern Congo that has lasted two decades, and the hospital has treated thousands of rape victims. Several high-level perpetrators have recently been convicted.  IOL News

Congo Warlord ‘The Terminator’ Pleads Not Guilty at ICC
A former Congolese rebel leader known as “The Terminator” has pleaded not guilty to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bosco Ntaganda entered his plea Wednesday on the first day of his trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Prosecutors say Ntaganda is responsible for atrocities committed by his rebel group, the Union of Congolese Patriots, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003.   He faces 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity, including charges of murder, rape, sexual slavery, enlistment of child soldiers and forcible transfer of population.  VOA

Sierra Leone Quarantines 50 Following Latest Ebola Death
Sierra Leone Tuesday quarantined 50 people in the northern district of Kambia, where a 76 year-old woman died over the weekend from Ebola. The country had just celebrated the release from the hospital of its last known Ebola patient. Abdulai Bayraytay, national publicity and outreach coordinator in the office of Sierra Leone’s government spokesman, told VOA the good news so far is that no one else has shown symptoms of the virus. But Bayraytay said the woman’s death re-emphasizes the government’s warning for Sierra Leoneans to be vigilant, not intransigent.  He described the current Ebola news as unfortunate. VOA

Mali, Neighbours Plan force to Fight Extremists
Mali’s defence ministry adviser says that five neighbouring countries have met to discuss a joint force to fight extremism in the region. Lt Col Diarran Kone said on Wednesday that representatives from Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad are meeting in Bamako to strategize. He said they are meeting with experts from the African Union and the West African economic bloc, Ecowas, to discuss what is necessary to deploy such a military force. There have been several meetings of the five Sahel countries. The G5 Sahel is an institutional framework for coordinating and monitoring security in the region. The first summit was held in February in Mauritania to coordinate development and security policies. News 24

Nigeria Seeks Joint Efforts on Security in Gulf of Guinea
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday urged members of the minerals-rich Gulf of Guinea to work together to curb piracy and insecurity in the region, his office said. Pirates have been taking advantage of poor of security in the Gulf to cause incalculable damage to local countries, Buhari told Prime Minister of Sao Tome & Principe Patrice Emery Trovoada in Abuja. “With their shared strategic interest in the security of the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria and Sao Tome & Principe must work harder with other stakeholders to keep it safe,” Buhari was quoted as saying. The Gulf of Guinea off west Africa has seen numerous attacks on ships in recent years, sparking concern it could become a new hub for piracy. AFP on Yahoo News

Torture in Tunisia
It has been four years now since a popular uprising in Tunisia ousted former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. It was hoped then that the Jasmine revolution – and the democratic governments to which it gave birth – would usher in a new era; that consensus politics and the rule of law would be reflected in the actions of those supposed to protect society from criminality, wherever it lies. State repression, so much a feature of the old regime, was meant to be at an end; police brutality, torture and the abuse of human rights were to be consigned to history. But this, it seems, may have been wishful thinking. As this People & Power investigation has found, while police brutality is no longer officially sanctioned by the state, it continues unabated nonetheless. Many of those responsible for enforcing the rule of law in Tunisia are themselves still breaking it, time after time. Al Jazeera

UN Council Weighs Action on Mediterranean Migrant Crisis
The UN Security Council is discussing a draft resolution to address the crisis arising from the wave of migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe, Russia’s envoy said Wednesday. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the new measure “may well be” adopted this month during Russia’s presidency of the 15-member council. The new text would be slightly different than previous draft resolution that would have allowed a EU naval force to clamp down on migrant smugglers that operate in Libyan territorial waters. Churkin said the new resolution would deal with action taken on the high seas, outside of Libya’s territorial waters. He did not provide details, but diplomats said the British-drafted measure would authorize the seizure in international waters of ships operated by migrant smugglers. AFP on Yahoo News

Crackdown Fuels Migration Crisis Within Africa
Papa Demba Sow left Senegal two years ago hoping to make a better life in the oil-rich central African country of Gabon but in July he was arrested by police, thrown in jail for a month and deported along with hundreds of other Africans. The plight of African migrants struggling to reach Europe, alongside thousands fleeing violence in the Middle East, has stirred international alarm this year, with hundreds dying at sea on the perilous Mediterranean crossing. But the majority of Africans who emigrate remain within Africa. ADVERTISING Yet, amid rising concerns over the spread of Islamist militant groups on the continent and several economies hit by a slump in commodities prices, some African nations are clamping down on those migration flows. Reuters

IOM: ‘Transit Countries Have a Role to Play in Migration’
Over one hundred people said to be Ethiopians have been intercepted and questioned by Zambian authorities.The alleged migrants were apprehended as thousands of people make the risky journey to Europe seeking asylum.  Deutsche Welle

Refugees Vs. Migrants? The Word Choice Matters
What’s in a name? That is a question journalists, politicians and policymakers are asking themselves in addressing the Mediterranean refugee crisis. Although the terms “refugee” and “migrant” are often used interchangeably, the terms have very different meanings and attach different rights and responsibilities. As a result, it is important to understand what we are talking about when discussing how to deal with the crisis. In the simplest terms, a migrant is a person who travels, often for work or economic reasons, while a refugee is a person fleeing armed conflict or prosecution. Thus while both migrants and refugees may leave their home country out of necessity, the rights they are entitled to vary depending on the reason for their departure. UN Dispatch

Ex-Ivory Coast President’s Backers in Power Struggle
Two years ago, Pascal Affi N’Guessan was in jail after backing the losing side in Ivory Coast’s civil war. Now he is running for president, provoking a power struggle within the opposition whose outcome will help decide the country’s future stability. While N’Guessan appears likely to lose in October, the fact that the former prime minister is even contesting the election for the main opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) ought to mark a step towards national reconciliation. But the party’s founder, former president Laurent Gbagbo, is awaiting trial in The Hague over his role in the 2011 war, and FPI hardliners have called for an election boycott, which would be the party’s third in the past four years. News 24

Eight in Race for Guinea Presidency
Eight contenders including current head-of-state Alpha Conde have been approved as candidates for Guinea’s second democratic presidential election, the constitutional court said on Wednesday. The list is a mixture of outsiders and opposition big-hitters including former premiers Cellou Dalein Diallo and Sidya Toure — but notably omits exiled former junta chief Moussa Dadis Camara. Camara has been living in Burkina Faso since an assassination attempt a year after seizing power in a coup in 2008 and had signalled his intention to run. AFP on Yahoo News

Spain Senate Approves Permanent US Military Base
The Spanish Senate on Tuesday approved the establishment of a permanent force of 2,200 US Marines based in southern Spain, who can be swiftly deployed to crises in Africa. The US already has a rapid reaction force of about 800 troops at Moron de la Frontera, near Seville, who were deployed temporarily in the wake of the 2012 attack on a US mission in Benghazi, eastern Libya. […] The main mission of the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response unit will be to protect US embassies in Africa, evacuate civilians in difficulty, or intervene in conflicts or humanitarian crises. It will come under the US military command for Africa (AFRICOM) which is based in Stuttgart, Germany. Globalpost

Canada vs. Africa
Unlike the US or France, Canada is not a leading military force in Africa. But Ottawa exerts influence through a variety of means including training initiatives. Canadian Forces have trained hundreds of African soldiers at the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre in Kingston Ontario and Lester B. Pearson Centre in Nova Scotia. Canadian forces have also directed or participated in a slew of officer training initiatives, running courses in Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Mali among other places. In recent years Ottawa has funded and staffed various military training centres across the continent such as the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center in Ghana, African Centre for Strategic Research and Studies in Nigeria and Ecole de Maintien de la Paix Alioune Blondin in Mali. Canadian special forces also train a number of African militaries. Along with the US, Canadian troops trained counterterrorism units in Niger, Kenya and Mali and in 2014 Canadian Special Operations Forces Command spokesman Major Steve Hawken told Embassy that his force had recently trained 800 African military personnel. CounterPunch

Is Nairobi no Longer the Innovation Hub of Africa?
Eight years since Kenya gave the world M-Pesa and Ushahidi, the country has become a hub of African innovation. The iHub, m:lab, Nailab and C4Dlabs, show how young digital-savvy Kenyan tech entrepreneurs are transforming lives. Several start-ups and mobile applications have been launched to provide practical solutions to Kenya’s development challenges in education, health and agriculture. But since the launch of M-Pesa and Ushahidi, a crowdsourcing platform used across the world to map conflict, has Nairobi developed any other application of this scale? Or has the emergence of Nairobi as a major tech city been overblown? The East African



Photo: Adam Jones