African press review 14 September 2012
In Africa, the growing protests aganist an anti-Islam video is causing concern, as well as crackdowns on press freedom in Côte d'Ivoire and South Africa.
We begin in Nigeria, where the newspapers say tensions are growing in the north of the country as security agents try to prevent an outbreak of protests over the amateur anti-Islam film that has caused widespread anger across the Arab world.
The Punch reports security operatives have intensified patrols in flashpoint cities such as Jos, Kaduna and Kano. The paper says it learned on Thursday that fundamentalists in the North had been holding meetings about the film.
The paper reports that less than 24 hours after the Police Inspector-General, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, placed his forces on a nationwide alert, the US advised its citizens in Nigeria not to take the threat of attacks by extremists lightly.
The Nation argues in an editorial that Libya and its pro-democracy revolution had no better friend than J. Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador who was killed along with three other Americans in Tuesday’s attack on the consulate in Benghazi. According to the paper, the worst thing now would be for the United States to turn away from its commitments to work with Libya and Egypt as they try to build stable new societies.
The Nigerian newspaper Vanguard examines the state of the northern Nigerian economy as the region’s nineteen states swim against a tide of insecurity unleashed by Boko Haram insurgents that killed thousands of people and destroyed properties across the region. The paper looks at Gombe state, the commercial nerve centre in the north east. It reports almost two-thirds of some 1600 civil servants, teachers, and hospital staff have abandoned their posts due to the violence.
Elsewhere in Nigeria, the Guardian reports that more than 25,000 people have been displaced in the northern Benue State due to the overflow of the River Benue. Emergency officials warn at least 14 local government communities were on the brink of being lost due to the unprecedented flooding.
In Côte d’Ivoire, a government-unleashed tsunami has swept away half of the country’s newspapers. The state-controlled media regulatory board slapped a two-week ban on six prominent papers, reportedly for endangering Côte d’Ivoire’s fragile peace.
The government was infuriated by the recent publication of photographs of Laurent Gbagbo and several close aides languishing in jail accompanied by comments about the portfolios they held prior to the April 2011 post-electoral crisis that resulted in 3000 deaths. A spokesman for the suspended newspapers has issued a press release stating they are up against a ferocious and brutal dictatorship that the country has never experienced.
The US ambassador in Côte d’Ivoire issued a statement on Thursday expressing concern about the erosion of press freedom in the country. The public, he wrote, is best served only when a diversity of opinions are freely expressed in the media. The Ivorian people, he continued, should have the right to judge for themselves the pertinence of different political points of view as well as the statements and arguments relayed by the press.
And in South Africa, Mail and Guardian reports that a labour union at the public SABC broadcaster has instructed its members not to report on the expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. An official of the Broadcasting, Electronic, Media and Allied Workers Union (Bemawu) told the newspaper that the ban extends to any coverage of Malema’s assassination or death in any other manner until top management instructs otherwise.