21 November 2012

East Africa: African Press Review 21 November 2012

The families of massacred Kenyan police officers fall victim to bureaucracy. Who authorised a Kenyan military operation in Garissa? Will an Irish oil prospector pull out of Uganda? Will Tanzania's government get its way over building an airport near Serengeti? What are Kabila, Musevini and Kagame talking about?

The main story in the Kenyan Standard this morning is headlined "Baragoi killings: The untold story".

Baragoi is the Rift Valley town in Samburu where at least 42 police officers were murdered in an ambush by suspected cattle-rustlers 10 days ago.

According to The Standard, families of security officers who died have not yet been officially informed about the grim fate that befell their loved ones.

Families interviewed by journalists from the Nairobi-based paper on Tuesday said they had been shuffled from one office to another without any formal help over identification and burial.

Worse still, there has been no official list of the names of police killed and missing.

A separate article in The Standard tells the story of a family which has been traumatised by the effort to find news of the body of their son who was among the officers caught in the botched operation to recover stolen livestock in Baragoi.

The family from Karatina has made countless trips to police headquarters in Nairobi and Chiromo mortuary, so far without success. A similar check at Kenyatta National Hospital where survivors are recuperating has also been negative.

The relatives are now pleading with the relevant authorities to understand their plight and help them to locate their son.

In another security related story, The Standard reports that confusion reigned yesterday over who allowed a section of the military to mount an operation in Garissa town on Monday after three of their colleagues were gunned down.

With allegations of high handedness mounting, Defence Minister Mohamed Yusuf Haji quickly distanced himself from the chaos, saying he did not know who sanctioned the Kenya Defence Forces operation in the town.

Residents of Garissa, who accuse the KDF of brutality, engaged in violent clashes with police on Tuesday, leading to the death of at least one person.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Farahb Maalim and nine other legislators condemned the soldiers and threatened to seek the intervention of the International Criminal Court to investigate possible human rights violations by the security forces.

The East African, reports that Tullow Oil may pull out of Uganda as a result of a dispute with the Kampala government.

The Irish prospecting firm is reportedly frustrated by the lack of progress on arriving at "a final investment decision" about whether to build a pipeline or a refinery.

There is a long history of disagreement between the oil companies and the government on whether crude or refined products are the best way to commercialise oil production in Uganda.

Tullow is said to favour a pipeline option to facilitate the export of crude oil, while the government would prefer a medium-sized refinery to enable the export of at least some higher value petrol products.

Unlike the two other oil companies in Uganda - France's Total and China's CNOOC, both huge multinationals - Tullow does not have the financial resources to play out a prolonged waiting game, according to analysts interviewed by The East African.

Another story in the regional paper says that the protracted battle over the construction of an international airport next to Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, pitting the government against environmentalists, is nearly over - and the government seems to have carried the day.

Plans for the construction of the 300-million-euro facility, expected to start early next year, are complete and the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority has approved the project. All that remains now is the release of an environmental impact assessment report by the National Environmental Management Council.

The government has faced nearly six years of stiff resistance from conservationists and environmentalists opposed to the plan.

Objectors have already blocked an earlier attempt to construct a 321-kilometre tarmac road through the Serengeti.

American billionaire and conservationist Paul Tudor Jones is said to be willing to finance the construction of the airport.

Tudor, a prominent Wall Street tycoon, runs a five-star lodge at Sasakwa Hill and owns three wildlife hunting blocs covering nearly 110,000 hectares in western Serengeti.

The airport project is part of President Jakaya Kikwete's dream to create a new gateway to Tanzania's northern tourism circuit, says The East African, and open up investment opportunities in the resource-rich Lake Victoria region.

According to the main story in Uganda's Daily Monitor, Congolese President Joseph Kabila yesterday arrived in Kampala for what sources said was a crisis meeting with President Yoweri Museveni, hours after M23 rebels captured Goma, the commercial capital of eastern Congo's Nord Kivu province. Rwandan President Paul Kagame quickly followed him as fighting escalated in the Kivu region.

DR Congo is adamant that the Tutsi-dominated M23 rebels are receiving military backing from Rwanda, a charge Kigali has consistently rejected.

Several investigations by the UN Group of Experts have also shown that M23 is supported by Rwanda.

The meeting of foreign affairs ministers from the Great Lakes region currently going on in Munyonyo appears to have been overtaken by yesterday's abrupt arrival of Kabila and Kagame, says the Daily Monitor.

Reports from the eastern DRC last night said rebel columns were seen marching out of Goma along the road to the South Kivu town of Bukavu.

Although M23 says it is fighting the government to prevent the ongoing marginalisation of Tutsis, Kinshasa says the reason for the rebellion is control of Congo's minerals, largely concentrated in North and South Kivu provinces.

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