Media Review for April 29, 2016

Waldhauser Nominated to Replace Rodriguez at Africa Command
President Barack Obama has nominated Marine Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser for promotion to four-star rank to replace retiring Army Gen. David Rodriguez as head of U.S. Africa Command in the ongoing effort to halt the spread of ISIS on the continent, the Pentagon said Thursday. If confirmed by the Senate to lead the command, Waldhauser would become the only Marine to head one of the combatant commands. In a statement, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called Waldhauser, 62, of St. Paul, Minnesota, the “perfect pick for this dynamic command.” Waldhauser, currently the director for Joint Force Development on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, was commissioned in 1976. He served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991 and, as commander of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, led Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a Major General, Waldhauser was commander the 1st Marine division.

Equatorial Guinea President Extends 36-Year Rule
Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has won re-election, securing 93.7 percent of votes cast in an April 24 poll to extend his 37-year rule over the Central African oil producer, a government statement said on Thursday. Obiang, Africa’s longest-serving leader, has ruled the former Spanish colony since 1979 when he staged a bloody military coup and ousted his uncle, who was later executed. Obiang’s closest challenger in the polls was Avelino Mocache Benga, who won just 1.5 percent of the vote, according to complete provisional results. Turnout was 92.9 percent, the statement from Equatorial Guinea’s Office of Information and Press said. France 24

Burundi Death Toll Jumps to 31 in April: UN Rights Chief
The United Nations human rights chief said on Wednesday 31 people have been killed in attacks in Burundi this month, decrying an increase in violence in the east African nation. Tit-for-tat attacks between President Pierre Nkurunziza’s security forces and his opponents escalated a year ago when he announced a disputed bid for a third term as president. He won re-election in July. The United Nations says more than 400 people have been killed since then and more than 250,000 have fled the country. “Some 31 people have been killed in attacks so far in April, compared to a total of nine people in the last month,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein said in a statement. “I fear that the increasing number of targeted assassinations will inevitably exacerbate the already extremely dangerous spiral of violence and unrest in Burundi.” Reuters

On the Run in Burundi
“Where there are people, there is conflict,” a Burundian saying goes. It has been relevant in this tiny Francophone country for as long as most of its inhabitants can remember. Perhaps no African state has suffered so much to so little outcry, or even notice, from the world, for which Burundi holds little geopolitical or economic significance. “There’s no social contract sealed among Burundians,” Melchior Nzigamasabo, a Burundian political observer and a liaison to the British High Commission, told me.“The country’s defining characteristic is disagreement.” Four decades of Belgian colonial government fostered little development and a lot of ethnic animosity. In 1961, the first elected Prime Minister was assassinated; in 1965, another was killed. In 1972, as many as three hundred thousand Hutus were killed by the Tutsi-led army. (This “first genocide,” as it is sometimes called, passed almost without notice outside Burundi, but did incense Richard Nixon. “I’m tired of this business of letting Africans eat”—meaning kill—“a hundred thousand people and doing nothing about it,” he said to Henry Kissinger, who in turn noted that more people had been killed in three months in Burundi than had died in eight years of war in Vietnam.) That was followed by a coup in 1976, another in 1987, and another in 1993; after the President was assassinated in the last, as many as a hundred and fifty thousand Burundians were killed in a bout of violence that some consider a second genocide. The NewYorker

South Sudan Forms Transitional Government of National Unity
Four factions of the South Sudan’s former warring parties and political rivals, turned peace partners, have finally formed the long-awaited transitional government of national unity (TGoNU) to administer the country for the next two and a half years, pending elections. This comes two days after the arrival to Juba of Riek Machar, newly sworn in First Vice President, and eight months after a peace agreement was signed in August 2015 to end 21 months of civil war. The war, which has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions more, erupted on 15 December 2013 in the national capital, Juba, when internal debates over political and institutional reforms within the leadership of the ruling party of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) turned violent. Sudan Tribune

US Threatens Sanctions, Arms Embargo if South Sudan Backtracks
The United States is prepared to consider imposing sanctions or an arms embargo on South Sudan’s leaders if they fail to cooperate in a proposed unity government to end conflict in the country, a senior US official said on Wednesday. “We have everything at the table, we are prepared to look at sanctions, we’re prepared to look at an arms embargo,” US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, told lawmakers. The fighting in South Sudan, whose 2011 secession from Sudan was supported by the United States, has torn apart the world’s youngest country. The country’s rebel leader Riek Machar was sworn in as first vice president on Tuesday after he returned to the capital Juba for the first time since conflict broke out two years ago. President Salva Kiir’s sacking of Machar as his deputy ignited a war in December 2013 which has killed thousands and displaced millions in the world’s newest country. The United States has said Machar’s return is an important step toward the establishment of a unity government. The East African

50,000 People are Dead. So Why Won’t Obama Push for an Arms Embargo in South Sudan?
South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar returned to Juba this week, eight months after he and his rival, President Salva Kiir, signed a peace deal that required him to go back to the capital and resume his post as first vice president.  Washington has cautiously accepted Machar’s delayed return as a crucial step toward lasting peace in the country, where more than 50,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since infighting between Machar and Kiir burst into large-scale conflict in late 2013. But on Wednesday, Donald Booth, U.S. special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, warned the United States would not hesitate to push forward with both sanctions and an arms embargo if the warring parties fail to work effectively with each other on the path toward peace. We have everything at the table,” Booth told lawmakers at a hearing on Capitol Hill, the same day the United States committed an additional $86 million in aid to the country. “We are prepared to look at sanctions, we’re prepared to look at an arms embargo. But for now, Booth said Washington will push forward with a public financing accountability program to track spending from both sides of the conflict in order to reduce the likelihood of arms purchases. Foreign Policy

South Africa Corruption Case Blow for Jacob Zuma
South Africa’s High Court has ruled that a decision to drop 783 corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma should be reviewed. The charges were dropped just weeks before the 2009 election which led to Mr Zuma becoming president. Judge Aubrey Ledwaba said the decision by the chief state prosecutor at the time was “irrational”. The case, brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance, opens the way for prosecutors to reinstate the charges. Mr Zuma always denied the allegations which are linked to a government arms deal in 1999 worth billions of dollars. BBC

Untrusted and Unpresidential: How Low Can the Zuma Presidency Go?
On Friday, judgment will be delivered in the Pretoria High Court on whether the decision to drop corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma in 2009 was unlawful. The judgment, whichever way it falls, is likely to set off another chain of events that will drag the presidency and the country through more complex legal action and more muck. The Office of the President, through its incumbent, could be edging closer to being put on trial. As he has done with all his scandals, Zuma is likely to pretend this has nothing to do with him and continue to go through the motions of running the country as a hollowed out leader. Daily Maverick

Sudan to Implement Visa Reciprocity with U.S.
A senior diplomat in Khartoum said Sudan will treat U.S. officials on reciprocal basis and deny them entry visa to Sudan, pointing that American policy on this respect affects bilateral relations. In press statements on Wednesday, State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kamal Edin Ismail Saeed said that his government intends to deal within the principle of reciprocity with any country” “We will reply to the United States. If any (Sudanese) official is denied (a visa) or delayed we will reject and delay (visa issuance for) their responsible,” he said. We also we have our own assessments and will choose those we are useful for Sudan and allow them to enter,” he added. Sudan Tribune

Can a Gambian Spring Survive Jammeh’s Infamous Wrath?
Stereotypical African dictator Yahya Jammeh doesn’t suffer enemies gladly. But he’s made plenty during his 22 years in charge of the Gambia, and a recent wave of unrest indicates that his opponents are gaining strength. But can these delicate beginnings of a mass movement withstand the president’s penchant for brutal repression?  Daily Maverick

UN Votes to Wrap up Ivory Coast Peacekeeping Mission in 2017
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to wrap up its 12-year peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast next year, a sign of confidence in the West African nation’s progress to peace after years of political turmoil and thousands of deaths. A resolution adopted by the U.N.’s most powerful body calls for all U.N. peacekeepers and international police to leave Ivory Coast by April 30, 2017 and for the mission to officially end on June 30, 2017. It had about 4,650 troops and military observers and nearly 1,400 police at the end of February. A second resolution, also adopted unanimously, immediately lifted an arms embargo on Ivory Coast as well as a travel ban and asset freeze on individuals. After an attempted coup sparked a civil war in 2002, Ivory Coast was split into a rebel-controlled north and government-controlled south. A peace deal in March 2007 brought key rebel leaders into the administration, but deep divisions remained. AP on Stars and Stripes

UN Lifts 12-Year Arms Embargo on Ivory Coast
The United Nations Security Council removed a 12-year-old arms embargo on Ivory Coast on Thursday and renewed the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the country for another year. The embargo was imposed in 2004 after the West African country’s 2002-2003 civil war. The resolution, passed on a unanimous vote, welcomes an ongoing dialogue among all Ivorian political parties and the improvement of the human rights situation. It also strongly condemns the March terror attacks at the Grand Bassam beach resort that killed at least 19 people. There are currently some 6,900 U.N. troops and police in Ivory Coast, according to the U.N. website. The resolution states those forces will leave by the end of April 2017. The United Nations will then have two months to complete the mission’s closure. VOA

Liberia ex-Footballer George Weah to Run for President Again
The former international footballer George Weah will run for president of Liberia for a second time. He said he had the “vision” to transform the country. Mr Weah, who played for teams including Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea, was the highest-ranking African footballer in Fifa’s list of greatest players of the 20th century. His previous presidential bid, in 2005, was defeated by current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Her second term in office will end in 2017 and under the country’s constitution she cannot run again. During his football career, Mr Weah became a UN goodwill ambassador. BBC

Liberia: Africa’s Unknown Tax Haven with Much to Lose
As world leaders consider what to do about the revelations emerging from the Panama Papers, Liberia’s government will be worrying about the fall-out that may cross the Atlantic Ocean from the affair. The European Union has announced it will be creating a new “tax haven blacklist”, to be released by mid 2016. Liberia is likely to be a strong contender for inclusion on this list. Since the late 1940s, the small West African country has been running a tax haven with laws more secretive than Panama’s. Africa Report

Nigeria, France Strengthen Military Co-operation
Nigeria and France on Thursday signed an agreement on closer military co-operation, including intelligence sharing, to strengthen the fight against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region. Nigerian Defence Minister Mansur Dan Ali said the agreement was evidence of a “growing partnership” between Abuja and Paris, as he met his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in the capital. The two countries have been working more closely since a summit in Paris in December 2014, particularly in the area of military intelligence on the Islamist militants. France has provided Nigeria with satellite images and surveillance footage from Rafale fighter jets based in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, which have flown over the main conflict area. News 24

Nigeria Land Conflict: Government Condemns Attacks and Vows Crackdown
From Boko Haram to cattle raiders…A deadly attack gives Nigeria’s government another security headache. A UN arms embargo is lifted, and peacekeepers prepare to return home, as Ivory Coast continues to emerge from years of instability. And Papa Wemba’s body arrives in Kinshasa, as crowds pay tribute to the DRC’s rumba king. France 24

Kenyan Electoral Body Seeks Improvements in Next Year’s Polls
A leading member of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said the group wants to improve the administration of next year’s general election. The constitution requires that elections be held August 8, 2017. IEBC officials said they have been engaging with stakeholders to address their concerns in the run-up to the election. Yusuf Nzibo of the IEBC said the commission was working with international partners to help correct some of the challenges the group faced during the 2013 elections. “We are looking for support from international organizations such as the American IFES [International Foundation for Electoral Systems] … to help us in terms of improving on the technology,” Nzibo said, adding that there are two particular areas of concern: results transmission and voter identification equipment. “The equipment we had, unfortunately, arrived late and there were challenges with the batteries,” Nzibo said. VOA

Somali, AU Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab
The Islamic State militant group claimed its first ever attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia gears up for elections later this year. The situation has led to growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in establishing its armed forces to bring security, after 25 years of chaos. Somali authorities say they are countering a resurgence from al-Shabab rebels after years of progress in driving back the militants. Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji-Faqi, the country’s defense minister until 2014, attributes this to strategic changes on the part of the militant group. VOA

Mali Military Blamed for Deaths
Local rights groups in Mali warn that the army and its allies are torturing and killing civilians from an ethnic group accused of collaborating with Islamic militants in central Mali as concerns mount about the spread of extremism there. There has been a “worrying spike in abuses by the army against suspected jihadists,” the vast majority of whom are from the Peuhl ethnic group, said Corinne Dufka, West Africa associate director with Human Rights Watch. “Witnesses and family members have described how men detained around Diabaly and Boni were severely beaten or burned and in three cases, subjected to enforced disappearance,” she said. “These cases simply must be investigated.” News 24

UN Slaps Ban on Renegade Libyan Oil Shipment
The UN security council has blacklisted an Indian-flagged cargo ship for illegally transporting crude oil from a Libyan port not under government control. The council’s committee monitoring sanctions against Libya put the vessel Distya Ameya on the list on Wednesday based on information it received from the Libyan government that it was carrying oil in violation of a 2014 UN resolution prohibiting shipments from rebel-held ports. The sanctions committee said that on Tuesday the vessel was north of al-Bayda, Libya, heading for Malta. It said the Distya Ameya may have been sold recently to an unknown buyer and the vessel’s name may have changed to Kassos. The Guardian

Why Africa’s Migrant Crisis Makes No Sense to Outsiders
Since January, 43,000 South Sudanese refugees have fled to eastern Darfur. That’s right — Darfur, home to one of the 21st century’s worst ongoing humanitarian crises. That number, announced by the United Nations on Monday, is a window into a tragic and bewildering refugee crisis in Africa that is often overshadowed by migration flows to Europe. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, violence and insecurity have become so bad that families are seeking shelter in other war-torn countries. In 2015, for example, nearly 100,000 Ethiopians and Somalis traveled by boat to Yemen, one of the world’s most dangerous countries. Last year, nearly 5,000 citizens of Congo, which is fighting powerful rebel groups, were seeking refuge in the Central African Republic, itself torn apart by civil war. And yet 10,000 Burundians have fled their country’s own growing civil unrest for Congo. Thousands of Nigerians escaping the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram have gone to Chad, where different strains of that same insurgency conduct frequent deadly attacks.  The Washington Post

Kenya to Torch Ivory Stockpile Worth $100m
Time is running out: at current rates of elephant killing, conservationists warn large herds of elephants will be wiped out within decades from all but the most protected of parks. Following a regional summit to boost awareness of the threat of poaching and push efforts to end trafficking of ivory entirely, Kenya will take the symbolic step of torching almost the entirety of its stores, seven times the size of any stockpile destroyed so far. The mass burning tomorrow will see Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta destroying 105 tons of ivory, representing more than 6700 elephants – or about 5% of global stores. Another 1.35 tons of rhino horn will also be burnt. It is a grand statement: on the black market, that quantity of ivory could sell for more than $100-million, and the rhino horn could raise $80-million. AFP on Times Live