Media Review for September 30, 2015

Africa and the Peacekeeping Summit
Over 100 countries provide more than 125,000 uniformed and deployed personnel supporting 16 ongoing UN peace operations. Seventy eight percent of these personnel currently serve on the African continent. More than half of these (over 60,000) represent 39 different African countries. The African Union has two ongoing missions involving approximately 28,000 troops: the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the African – led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic (MISCA). Peacekeeping, in short, has become a key pillar in the security architecture for Africa. Adapting peacekeeping to the challenges of the contemporary security environment was a key theme of the Leader’s Summit on Peacekeeping which was hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings. In support of the occasion, the Africa Center for Strategic Studies highlights some of the key challenges, evolving trends, and lessons learned from peacekeeping operations in Africa in recent years.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Burkina ex-Coup Leader Calls on Troops to Lay Down Arms
The general who led a short-lived coup by Burkina Faso’s presidential guard this month called on his troops to lay down their arms, local radio said on Tuesday, after the army surrounded their camp following their refusal to disarm. “The command (of the presidential guard) has become a bit difficult. I call on them to lower their arms,” General Gilbert Diendere told Radio Omega in an interview, according to its Twitter feed. “There are some troops who are out of control.”  Reuters

Burkina Faso Army Takes Over Coup Supporters’ Barracks
Burkina Faso soldiers have seized control of a military camp held by Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) officers, who refused to disarm in the wake of a failed coup earlier this month.  The soldiers entered the presidential guard palace barracks with little resistance, an army officer told Reuters. Troops were carrying out clean-up operations at the camp, searching for General Gilbert Diendere, who led the short-lived coup. However, he appeared not to be at the camp.  Gunfire was heard earlier in the evening near the presidential palaces and the RSP barracks. A military spokesman confirmed that the army opened fire on the coup supporters, though no injuries have been reported.   Al Jazeera

‘Many Feared Dead’ as Burkina Army Storms Coup Leader’s Barracks
Soldiers who staged a short-lived coup in Burkina Faso abandoned their barracks in the capital late Tuesday after a tense standoff with loyalist troops, the military said, as authorities battled to regain control of the crisis-hit country. Coup leader General Gilbert Dienderé told AFP he feared there had been many deaths from the assault on the sprawling military base, which is next to the presidential palace in Ouagadougou. The army “fired artillery,” Dienderé told AFP, adding that there had been families and a clinic inside the barracks.  France 24

Burkina Airport Shut as Troops Trap Plotters
Ougadougou airport was shut down on Tuesday, an airport official told AFP, as Burkina troops locked down the area around the barracks of an elite unit behind a short-lived coup after they failed to disarm. All flights were cancelled and the airport near the city centre would remain shut until further notice, the source told AFP. The news came several hours after the army staged a lockdown in the Ouaga 2000 neighbourhood around the barracks of the presidential guard (RSP) responsible for the September 17 coup. Although the unit abandoned its coup last week and was formally dissolved by the cabinet on Friday, the guards have failed to lay down their weapons and remained inside their barracks, prompting a new stand-off with the government.  News 24

Military Arrests Ex-Burkina Faso Minister
Burkina Faso’s army says it has arrested a former high-ranking minister who served under the country’s now-ousted president of nearly 30 years. Former Foreign Affairs Minister Djibril Bassole denies the allegations that he supported the military general behind this month’s failed coup. The government accuses Bassole of joining forces with General Gilbert Diendere and alleges the two have sought help from foreign forces. Bassole replied late on Monday by calling it a “demonisation campaign” against him. While coup leader Diendere quickly handed power back to the civilian transitional government, efforts to disarm his supporters have stalled.  News 24

Africa Leaders Push for UN Reforms
African states on Monday drove home the point of reforming the United Nations’ top organ to get a slot they will use to advance their interests. African Union (AU) chairman Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, South Africa President Jacob Zuma and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn appeared to be reading from a well-rehearsed script when they accused the UN of discriminating against the continent, five decades after a majority of its nations gained independence. They particularly aimed their salvos at the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which they described as an “exclusive club”, who hold sway in the decisions that the world body of nations makes, including the election of the secretary-general. Daily Nation

U.S. Troops Have Turned to Some Unsavory Partners to help Find Warlord Joseph Kony
U.S. Special Operations forces have opened a new front in their hunt for the African warlord Joseph Kony, moving closer to his suspected hideout in a lawless enclave straddling Sudan and South Sudan, according to military officials and others familiar with the operation. As their mission stretches into a fifth year, however, U.S. troops have turned to some unsavory partners to help find Kony’s trail. Working from a new bush camp in the Central African Republic, U.S. forces have begun working closely with Muslim rebels — known as Seleka — who toppled the central government two years ago and triggered a still-raging sectarian war with a campaign of mass rapes and executions. The Pentagon had not previously disclosed that it is cooperating with Seleka and obtaining intelligence from the rebels. The arrangement has made some U.S. troops uncomfortable.  The Washington Post

Lockheed Martin to Supply Hellfire Missiles to Egypt and Tunisia
The US Army Contracting Command (USACC) has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to supply an undisclosed number of AGM-114K/R3 Hellfire II missiles to Egypt and Tunisia as well as Iraq, Pakistan and Indonesia in a $357.8 million Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract. In a notice published September 16 by the Department of Defense (DoD), USACC said Lockheed Martin Corporation was the sole bidder for the contract, which is due for completion in September 2017. Although there is no specification on the number of missiles due for delivery to each country, a notification issued in April this year to the US Congress by the State Department solicited its approval of a “possible sale to Egypt of 356 AGM-114K/R3 Hellfire II Air-to-Ground Missiles with containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment.”  DefenceWeb

Nigeria Struggles with Unprecedented Economic Crisis: Senate leader
Nigeria is struggling with an unprecedented economic crisis due to a plunge in oil revenues undermining the state’s ability to provide even basic services, Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Tuesday. The comments by the country’s third most powerful person are among the starkest from officials on the extent of an economic crisis hitting Africa’s top oil producer. A collapse of global oil prices has whacked public finances and weakened the naira, delaying public salaries and fuelling inflation. Oil is the main source for the budget and to fund food imports.  Reuters

China Wins Africa Friends by Building Dam in Ebola Outbreak
As workers at Western companies fled West Africa during the world’s worst-ever Ebola outbreak, a state-owned Chinese company carried on. China International Water & Electric Corp. completed the Kaleta dam on budget and a year ahead of schedule in July, ending chronic power shortages in the capital, Conakry. Construction continued even as companies including London-based Rio Tinto Plc and Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal SA paused projects in the region. “The Chinese saved us,” Lansana Fofana, 63, said, as he stood on the $526 million hydroelectric dam that China financed and he oversees. For Fofana, the 1,545-meter (5,069-feet) wall is a monument to the positive role China can play in Africa. In other parts of the continent, Chinese companies have been accused of treating workers poorly, building substandard infrastructure and damaging the environment.  Bloomberg

Timbuktu Mausoleum Destruction Suspect Appears at ICC
A suspected Islamist militant accused of destroying cultural sites in Timbuktu has appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC), in the first case of its kind. Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi is suspected of war crimes over the destruction of nine mausoleums and a mosque in the ancient Malian city in 2012. He was handed over by Niger after the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest. Islamists occupied the city until they were ousted by French forces in 2013.  BBC

Malians Hunt for Missing After Hajj Stampede
Issa Camara’s phone has not stopped ringing. Last Thursday, the Malian man’s sister was among the thousands of pilgrims participating in the last event of the hajj, the pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Now, friends and relatives keep calling, asking whether she survived that day’s stampede in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Health Ministry said 769 died after two streams of pilgrims converged on a narrow, dusty road. Some were trampled to death; others suffocated. They had come from throughout the Muslim world. […] They were among some 9,000 Malians who made the pilgrimage. The Bamako government has released a list of hundreds of missing Malians. Travel agencies and local media say between 30 and 50 of them could have been killed.  VOA

Exclusive: Nigerian President to Become Oil Minister in New Cabinet
President Muhammadu Buhari will hold Nigeria’s oil portfolio in his new Cabinet, rather than trust anyone else with the source of most of Nigeria’s revenue, he told Reuters on Tuesday. Buhari, who took office at the end of May promising to combat corruption, has made clear he wants to overhaul the oil sector in Africa’s biggest economy, which provides the government with around 70 percent of its revenue. “I intend to remain the minister of petroleum resources,” Buhari said in an interview on the sidelines of the annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.  Reuters

More than 20 Killed in Mozambique Gunbattle: Government Spokesman
More than 20 people were killed in a shootout at the weekend between Mozambican forces and gunmen in a convoy carrying the leader of the main opposition party, a government spokesman said on Tuesday. Mouzinho Saide said armed men in a convoy of vehicles carrying Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the opposition Renamo party, opened fire on a minibus taxi carrying civilians. “The Defense and Security Forces were sent to the scene, were confronted by shots coming from Renamo men. They fired back, killing the shooters,” he said, adding 23 people had been killed. Renamo officials said the attack on its members was an ambush. Earlier this month, local media said Dhlakama had escaped without injury after his convoy was attacked by gunmen as he returned from a rally.  Reuters

CAR President Pinned Down at Airport
Fierce fighting between militia and UN peacekeepers erupted in Central African Republic on Tuesday as President Catherine Samba-Panza rushed back early from the UN General Assembly in a bid to end days of violence in which at least 37 people died. Samba-Panza, who has blamed ousted president Francois Bozize for stoking the violence, was pinned down in the airport on arrival in Bangui as the clashes between the anti-balaka militia and UN peacekeepers blocked the route to the presidency, sources at the airport said. Reuters witnesses reported heavy gunfire in the riverside capital and said two helicopters from France’s Sangaris peacekeeping mission were circling near the airport, opening fire on militia fighters.  News 24

Amnesty Warns of Conflict Diamond Stockpile in C.Africa
Amnesty International on Wednesday called on the Central African Republic to confiscate and sell diamonds amassed by traders worth millions that could be fuelling militia violence and child labour. Huge stockpiles of possible conflict diamonds could end up on the global market when a ban on exports from the country is lifted, the rights group said in a report. Researchers also documented a string of human rights abuses in CAR diamond mines, with children as young as 11 working in hazardous conditions, carrying out “backbreaking work for very little money”. The export of diamonds from the Central African Republic was banned in 2013 under the Kimberley Process, which aims to stem the flow of so-called “conflict diamonds”. The ban will be partially lifted once the government meets conditions set in July 2015 by the Kimberley Process.  AFP on Yahoo News

African Union to Publish Investigation, Form War Crimes Court for S Sudan
The African Union has decided to publish an investigative report about atrocities committed in South Sudan and to establish an ‘African-led’ court to prosecute those responsible for the atrocities, according to a communique released by the AU Peace and Security Council. The communique was released by the AU governing body late yesterday following a meeting of the body at the level of heads of state in New York on Saturday, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The group of African leaders directed the Chairperson of the AU Commission to release the final report of the African Union Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, “for public information.” The report consists of two parts, a majority opinion of the Commission members, and a “separate opinion,” expressed by a member of the panel who did not agree with the majority view. Both are to be released to the public, according to the communique.  Radio Tamazuj

UN Demands South Sudan Corrects Mistakes
South Sudan’s president and a rebel leader accused each other on Tuesday of violating a ceasefire brokered to end a 21-month conflict in the world’s newest state as United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon appealed to them “not to betray and disappoint us.” Ban told President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar that now was the time to correct their “grave mistakes.” A political dispute between the pair spiralled into a war that has killed thousands and forced two million people to flee. “We are all here to help you, I hope you will not betray and disappoint us,” Ban told a meeting on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly in support of a peace deal signed last month.  News 24

Uganda Troops Staying Put in South Sudan
A Ugandan military spokesperson says Ugandan troops will stay in South Sudan until the government of President Salva Kiir asks them to withdraw, contradicting a recent peace accord calling for them to leave. LieutenantColonel Paddy Ankunda said on Tuesday that Ugandan troops in South Sudan are not preparing to pull out. Under the terms of a peace deal signed last month between Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, all foreign troops are supposed to leave the country. The presence of Ugandan troops in South Sudan is opposed by Machar, who says the foreign soldiers are an obstacle to peace.  News 24

Kenya ‘Will Stand Firm’ in Somalia, Kenyatta Tells UN
President Uhuru Kenyatta pledged in his address to the United Nations General Assembly that Kenya “will stand firm in support of the Federal Government and the people of Somalia.” He said that Kenyan forces will continue to operate alongside the Somali national army and within the framework of the African Union military mission in Somalia. Speaking to world leaders gathered for the opening of the 70th session of the General Assembly, he acknowledged that the continued threat posed by al-Shabaab has had “a great impact on Kenya’s national security and economy at large.” Kenya has expended billions of shillings on regional peace and security and many Kenyan lives lost in terrorist attacks, Mr Kenyatta noted, urging the international community to take strong action against the terror group and to focus on “the phenomenon of foreign fighters.”  The East African

Talks to Bring Opposition into Guinea-Bissau Government Break Down
Guinea-Bissau’s largest opposition party, the Party of Social Renewal (PRS), will not be joining a new government that is seeking to turn the page on a crisis that has threatened to destabilize the nation, its spokesman said on Tuesday. The PRS, which holds 41 out of 102 seats in parliament, had been in negotiations with the ruling PAIGC party to join Prime Minister Carlos Correia’s cabinet. Correia’s appointment on Sept. 8 came after weeks of political turmoil triggered by President Jose Mario Vaz’s dismissal of Prime Minister Domingoes Simoes Pereira and his government over a row between the two PAIGC rivals. With no other obvious partners for a coalition, PAIGC looks likely to rule alone – although given the potential for internal rebellion, it may not be a smooth ride without PRS backing.  VOA

Year of Terrible Headlines Sees South Africa’s Homicide Rate Leap Again
It’s not just today’s headline: South African homicides are rising again. Crime is a daily horror, with South Africans confronted with constant bare-bones news summaries that make the country seem, at times, almost like a war zone. Although homicides have declined significantly in the last two decades, South Africa remains one of the most violent societies on Earth: Police crime statistics released Tuesday reported that killings rose by 4.6% – or 782 bodies – in 2014-15, after a similar increase last year of 5%. Every day, on average, 49 people are killed by others. But it is the extreme brutality of South African crime – the shocking rapes and killings of children, or the lengthy torturing of elderly farmers – that confounds analysts.  LA Times

Want to Fight Ebola? Help Liberia Invest in Toilets
As my country continues to recover from the ravages of Ebola, we hope that we have won the battle. But we have certainly not yet won the war. The shadows of that horrifying crisis, which claimed more than 4,800 lives in Liberia alone, still linger. It will take time for our nation to fully recover, psychologically and financially, from that descent back into poverty, death, and fear — the kind we thought we had left behind after the end of our last civil war in 2003. Before the crisis, our economy was growing at 7.5 percent, and we were making steady progress. Now, we again find ourselves rebuilding; our neighbors, Sierra Leone and Guinea, are still working toward defeating Ebola. Our priority is to revisit how we deliver the basics of life to our people, including safe water, sanitation, and hygiene. During a special U.N. summit in New York this past weekend, member states formally adopted new Global Goals for sustainable development.  Foreign Policy

Video: ‘We are not Gays’ in Zimbabwe Says Mugabe at UN
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe used his turn to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York Monday to launch a bizarre tirade against gay rights. “We reject attempts to prescribe new rights that are contrary to our values, norms, traditions and beliefs,” said 91-year-old Mugabe, whose country has been the subject of international condemnation for its treatment of gay people and where homosexuality is still a crime. “We are not gays,” the outspoken leader declared in front of heads of state from around the world at the annual gathering. France 24

‘Hand Them Over So We Can Stone Them to Death’: LGBTI People’s Ongoing African Battle
It’s a song that has been sung year after year: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people are victimised in the majority of African countries, and human rights activists continue to fight an uphill battle. Earlier this week, Human Rights Watch released two disturbing reports from Kenya and Tunisia respectively, detailing more draconian prison sentences, public violence and even torture. There is no law protecting the rights of LGBTI persons and those who are brutalised or otherwise discriminated against have little recourse.  Daily Maverick

    



Photo: Adam Jones