Posts tagged ‘Tanzania’

AROUND AFRICA: Elections in Tanzania, Zanzibar, Ivory Coast;

Tanzania Vote Disputed.

Tanzania (CIA World Factbook)

(CIA World Factbook)

Voters went to the polls in Tanzania Sunday (October 25) to pick a president and members of Parliament for the east African nation.

But the main opposition candidate, Edward Lowassa, has rejected the election results — citing alleged fraud, according to the Voice of America website.

For the first time since the country’s independence in 1961, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) — the longest serving political party in Africa — faced a formidable threat from a coalition of four main opposition parties dubbed Ukawa (Umoja wa Katiba ya Wananchi, which means Coalition for the People’s Constitution).

Lowassa told reporters Wednesday (October 28) in the capital, Dar es Salaam, that results from the opposition coalition’s tallying unit showed the opposition was leading the vote count before police raided the unit Monday (October 26), the VoA reported.

The opposition Chadema party, part of the coalition, said police detained 40 of its volunteers who were tallying results. The police commissioner said the arrests were based on “violations of electoral procedures.”

Ethnic tensions over elections are virtually unheard of in the country of more than 100 ethnic groups, according to the BBC.

The incumbent, Jakaya Kikwete, has served the maximum two terms and is not seeking re-election. Over the past decade, a series of high-level corruption scandals have tainted the government and seen a reduction in financial assistance to the country, one of Africa’s largest aid recipients, the BBC said.

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Zanzibar Vote Voided.

Meanwhile, officials in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago have annulled the vote, sparking tension on the islands and raising questions about the national presidential result, according to Al Jazeera.

Zanzibar’s electoral commission said Wednesday (October 28) that elections on the Indian Ocean islands – where the 500,000 registered electorate had also voted on Sunday for Tanzania’s national president – must be carried out again, citing “violations of electoral law”.

“The process was not fair and had breaches of the law … I declare all the results to be null and void,” Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Jecha Salim Jecha said, reporting alleged violations including double-voting and cheating.

The annulment is likely to delay the announcement of full national results. Counting continued for a third day on Wednesday (October 28), with the ruling party presidential candidate in the lead.

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Ivory Coast Landslide.

Ivory Coast map. CIA World Factbook

Ivory Coast map.
CIA World Factbook

And in west Africa, the president of Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire), Alassane Ouattara has won a second term in office. He received 83 percent of votes Sunday (October 28),according to official results announced overnight.

Ouattara won a landslide victory. Second place candidate,  ex-Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan, got just 9 percent of the vote, according to VoA.

More than 3,000 people were killed in post-election violence in 2010 and 2011 when incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat.
Internationally accepted results showed Ouattara had won the November 2010 election.

Gbagbo was removed from office after French troops and United Nations peacekeepers intervened in the crisis. He is now awaiting trial at the Hague for crimes against humanity. Ivory Coast is a former French colony and still has French troops stationed there.

October 28, 2015 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA: Africa Command Tackling Violent Extremists and Other Challenges

Making Progress, but …

U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are training Tanzanian park rangers in infantry skills such as patrolling, offensive tactics, land navigation and mounted operations to aid in countering illicit trafficking.  (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Hopkins)

U.S. Marines from the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa are training Tanzanian park rangers in infantry skills such as patrolling, offensive tactics, land navigation and mounted operations to aid in countering illicit trafficking.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lucas J. Hopkins)

Africa’s security environment remains “dynamic and uncertain” with numerous countries through out the continent plagued by crime, corruption, as well as political and economic unrest, says the head of U.S. Africa Command.

Testifying today (March 26) before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Army General David Rodriguez, AFRICOM’s commander, said the command has expanded collaboration with allies and partners to address the “growing threat in Libya, Mali and Nigeria” including “an increasingly cohesive network of al Qaeda affiliates a growing Islamic State (ISIL) … presence and Boko Haram.”

Rodriguez said al-Shabaab remains the primary security threat to U.S. interests in East Africa “despite progress by regional partners in liberating parts of southern and central Somalia from the group’s control.”  And in North and West Africa, Libyan and Nigerian insecurity “increasingly threaten U.S. interests. In spite of multinational security efforts, terrorist and criminal networks are gaining strength and interoperability,” he said.

Of five immediate priorities, the top two are countering violent extremism and enhancing stability in East Africa and in North and West Africa.

Rodriguez noted that AFRICOM’s engagement with partner nations has increased between Fiscal year 2013 and 2014.  “In Fiscal Year 2014, we conducted 68 operations, 11 major joint exercises, and 595 security cooperation activities,” he told the Senate hearing. By comparison, AFRICOM conducted “55 operations, 10 major joint exercises, and 481 security cooperation activities in Fiscal Year 2013.” But requirements are expanding faster than resources are increasing, he added.

More on this hearing later this weekend.

March 26, 2015 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: UPDATE — U.N. Drone Deployment Delayed; C.A.R. Militia Disbanded; China’s African Media Buys; Cassava Crop Threatened

U.N. Delays Congo Drone Deployment

U.N. peacekeepers’ plans to deploy an unarmed surveillance drone in the skies over the Democratic Republic of Congo have been delayed until December, Reuters reports.

A Selex ES Falco at Paris air show. (Photo courtesy of Selex ES)

A Selex ES Falco at Paris air show. (Photo courtesy of Selex ES)

The United Nations planned to deploy a Falco unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) made by Italian defense electronics firm Selex ES (a unit of Finmeccanica) last month in eastern Congo, but unanticipated procurement procedures have caused a delay “until the first days of December,” U.N. Peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told a news conference Thursday (Sept. 12).

Congo troops and U.N. peacekeepers have been battling an insurgency by a rebel group known as M23, in the rugged eastern part of the country for more than a year. The rebels defected from the DRC Army in 2012 over alleged mistreatment. Thick forests and few roads have made ground patrolling difficult in the area, which borders Uganda and Rwanda.

The Falco is a medium altitude, medium endurance surveillance platform capable of carrying a range of payloads including several types of high resolution sensors. It will be the first time the U.N. has used a drone for aerial surveillance. If successful, officials and diplomats hope UAVs could be used in peackeeping missions in Ivory Coast and South Sudan. The United States is mounting unarmed drone surveillance of Mali and other strife-torn areas of the Sahel from a base in Niger.

Central African Republic

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook map)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook map)

The president of the Central African Republic says he is disbanding the Seleka rebel group that helped to bring him to power earlier this year, according to the Voice of America. President Michel Djotodia made the announcement Friday (Sept. 13) in the C.A.R. capital, Bangui, saying the rebel coalition “no longer exists.” But he provided no details about steps he would take to dissolve the group.

Recently, fighters from the rebel movement have been blamed for clashes with rival militias as well as a surge in robberies, auto thefts, rapes and murders. The violence has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

China News in Africa

If there is an “information war” between China and the United States on an African battleground, as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested at a congressional committee hearing in 2011, it appears that China is beginning to win the war.

That’s the take away from Canada’s Globe and Mail in a story about Chinese media acquisitions in Africa.

“In South Africa, Chinese investors have teamed up with allies of the ruling African National Congress to purchase Independent News and Media, one of the most powerful media groups in the country, which owns daily newspapers in all of the major cities,” the Toronto-based newspaper reports.

China has been making big investments in African media from newspapers and magazines to satellite television and radio stations, and some observers believe that will allow the People’s Republic to promote its own agenda in the press and counter hostile coverage.

According to another South African newspaper, the Mail & Guardian, two Chinese companies — China International Television Corporation and China-Africa Development Fund — have acquired a 20 percent stake in Independent News and Media. The Mail & Guardian previously reported that the South African state-owned Public Investment Corporation (PIC) was buying 25 percent of the company, using Government Employee Pension Fund money.

Cassava Crisis

Children eating fried cassava in Tanzania (Photo by Martin Best, copyright FAO East and Central Africa)

Children eating fried cassava in Tanzania (Photo by Martin Best, copyright FAO East and Central Africa)

Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and especially Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) pose an enormous threat to the food security of 135 million people in Central and East Africa, aAt least half of all plants in Africa are affected by one of these diseases.

Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and especially Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) pose an enormous threat to the food security of 135 million people in Central and East Africa. At least half of all plants in Africa are affected by one of these diseases. – See more at:
Cassava Mosaic Disease (CMD) and especially Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD) pose an enormous threat to the food security of 135 million people in Central and East Africa. At least half of all plants in Africa are affected by one of these diseases. – See more at:

September 12, 2013 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

AFRICA: The China Question, Mali Fighting

Xi in Africa

China’s new president, Xi Jinping, is in the middle of a four day tour of Africa – part of his first trip abroad as national leader.

Xi will be attending a two day conference of leaders of the so-called BRICS countries starting today (March 26). The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – form an economic bloc made up of many of the world’s leading emerging economies. But Xi is also trying to assure Africans that China interest in their continent isn’t just as a market for its manufactured goods and a source of the raw materials needed by its factories.


His first stop in Africa this week (March 24) was Tanzania. China has had a close relationship with the country since it gained its independence from Britain in the 1960s. Thousands of Chinese engineers and laborers built a railroad connecting Tanzania with Zambia in the ’60s and ’70s, according to Xinhua’s website.

At a conference center in Dar es Salaam built with Chinese assistance, Xi assured the audience and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete that China was interested in helping African nations develop their economies, pledging $20 billion in loans to African countries over the next two years. He also said China would train 30,000 African professionals, offer 18,000 scholarships to African students and “increase technology transfer and experience,” Reuters reported.

China’s trade with all African countries reached $198 billion in total value in 2012, an increase of 19.3 percent from 2011, according to Chinese customs statistics, the New York Times reported. Much of that trade consists of oil, minerals and other commodities from Angola, Nigeria and other resource-rich countries, the Times said.

After the two-day BRICS meeting Durban, South Africa, Xi will wind up his first foreign tour with a visit to the Republic of Congo (not be confused with the Democratic Republic of Congo — formerly known as Zaire.)

At a Washington symposium on conservation and national security that your 4GWAR editor attended last week, a former Bush administration diplomat said China had made Africa “strategic.”

“I think that strategic engagement is going to translate into political influence and geo-strategic influence,” said Jendayi Frazer, the first woman appointed U.S. Ambassador to South Africa and a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs. “I think it will show up in things like the United Nations Security Council and how votes start to go in the U.N. General Assembly and other such venues,” she added.

But, “African citizens are becoming increasingly impatient with the flood of Chinese laborers” into their labor markets “and particularly, cheap goods and the supply chain” supporting Chinese traders in the African marketplace. “It’s a big problem,” she told the gathering, co-sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations and Conservation International.

Frazer, now a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, noted however, that China’s “model of supporting business and their strategic outlook in Africa, is something we in the West should emulate. We should do a better job of helping our private sector” in Africa and other regions.

[You can see a video of Frazer and some of the other speakers at this symposium by clicking here. Your 4GWAR editor’s question about AFRICOM is at 57 minutes and 55 seconds on the tape. Frazer’s comments on China in Africa are at 1 hour, 3 minutes into the tape, followed by her comments on AFRICOM.]

Mali Update

Mali [click on image to enlarge]CIA World Factbook

Mali [click on image to enlarge]
CIA World Factbook

Six people – including one civilian – have been killed in fighting between Islamist rebels and French and Malian forces in the northern city of Gao (see map), according to Voice of America.

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate has named a replacement for a key commander killed by Chadian soldiers in Mali’s northern mountains last month, according to an Algerian broadcaster, VOA reported. The new guy, Djamel Okacha – also known as Yahia Abu El Hamam – is slated to replace Abdelhamid Abou Zeid as a leader of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, commonly known as AQIM, according to Algeria’s Ennahar TV.

March 26, 2013 at 1:15 am Leave a comment

AFRICA: Rats That Detect Landmines

The Real Rat Patrol

Last Father’s Day my wife and son gave me a rat, actually a bunch of rats. In lieu of a tie or DVD, they made a donation in my name to an outfit in Africa that trains rats to sniff out land mines – and tuberculosis (more on that later).

Started by Belgian Bart Weetjens, APOPO is a registered Belgian charity based in Tanzania. Weetjens says he got the idea for explosives-detecting rats from a Scientific American article about gerbils’ sensing ability.

Not these guys ...

The rodents APOPO uses are not just any rats but cat-sized Giant African Pouch Rats (Cricetomys gambianus). Like dogs the rats are trained to detect the explosives vapors emanating from landmines – even if they’re buried. And like dogs, the rats are given a food treat as a reward.

Unlike dogs, the rats are small (15 inches, three pounds), easily transportable and cheap. It costs about $2,000 to train a rat compared to $10,000 for a mine-sniffing dog. Rats are more resistant to tropical diseases. They also don’t imprint on humans like dogs do, so one handler can deal with many rats and a ran will tolerate several handlers or trainers.

Between 1999 and 2008, there were 73,576 casualties in 119 countries caused by landmines, improvised explosive devices or munitions left over from previous conflicts, according to Landmine Monitor. The group’s report says 17,867 of those people were killed and 51,711 were injured. The status of the remaining 3,998 is unknown.

Most of APOPO’s rats — known as HeroRATs — work in neighboring Mozambique where years of civil war have left thousands of landmines dotting the landscape, making some land inaccessible for agriculture and other forms of development. APOPO and the HeroRAT team have helped to return more than 1.7 million square meters of land to the population in Mozambique since the start of operations in the late 1990s.

So far in 2010, the rats have found 596 mines, 308 unexploded ordnance, and 6,205 small arms and ammunition. The group aims to make Mozambique’s Gaza Province landmine safe by 2014.

...but this little guy. (Photo: APOPO)

Mine-sniffing rats are also being trained by police in Colombia the most heavily mined country in Latin America. And honey bees are being studied by  the University of Montana and the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico as land mine detectors.

The APOPO rats’ sensitivity is not limited to explosives. They can detect tuberculosis in the saliva submitted for testing by patients – and they can screen patients faster than a human technician in a lab. So far this year, the rats have identified more than 1,438 people with TB that were originally missed in hospital testing.

For those too young – or too old for that matter – to know the 1960s television series, “The Rat Patrol,” click here for some cultural intel (for a lengthier  discourse of the show’s canon — pun intended),  see the Wikipedia entry.

October 14, 2010 at 12:01 am 1 comment


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