Media Review for August 21, 2015

US blasts swearing-in of Burundi leader for third term
The United States on Thursday sharply criticized the inauguration of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza for a controversial third term, accusing the ruling party of ignoring the people’s will. Washington also warned that the crisis in the central African nation was not over and that political dialogue and international efforts to mediate it were key to bringing it “back from the precipice.” Nkurunziza, an ex-rebel turned born-again Christian who believes he is in power by divine choice, was inaugurated earlier Thursday after he won elections that the United Nations said were neither free nor fair. AFP on Yahoo News

Burundi president says God on his side
Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza warned rebels on Thursday that they would be crushed by God after being sworn in for a controversial third term following weeks of protests and a failed coup against him. Nkurunziza thanked God for his win in elections last month – polls the United Nations say were not free or fair – after taking the oath of office in a surprise ceremony in the capital Bujumbura announced only hours before. “The victory we have achieved is a victory of all Burundians, those who elected us, and those who did not,” Nkurunziza said. His third term has been condemned as unconstitutional by the opposition and provoked months of protests. There has been a string of killings since his re-election, including of his top security chief, assassinated in a rocket attack last month. News 24

South Sudan journalist Peter Moi shot dead
Gunmen have killed South Sudan reporter Peter Julius Moi by shooting him twice in the back in the capital, Juba, his family said after identifying his body. He is the seventh journalist to be killed this year in South Sudan, where a civil war is ongoing. His killing comes days after President Salva Kiir threatened to kill reporters “working against the country”. A presidential spokesman said the words were taken out of context and police were investigating Mr Moi’s death. BBC

Sudan’s Bashir says ready for ceasefire and offers amnesty for rebels
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on Thursday said he is ready to declare a two-month ceasefire in Blue Nile, South Kordofan states and Darfur region and renewed his offer of amnesty for the rebel who are willing to join the national dialogue. Al-Bashir who chairs the national dialogue committee aka ,7+7 mechanism, made his offer in a speech before the general assembly of the dialogue process which includes over 83 political parties and 50 national figures. Sudan Tribune

US circulates draft resolution for UN sanctions on South Sudan
The United States on Wednesday circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution proposing an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against South Sudan if President Salva Kiir refuses to sign a peace accord ending the country’s civil war. The draft resolution would kick in only if Kiir continues to delay signing the peace accord past the September 1 deadline to do so, according to a US official. The Security Council is expected to vote on the resolution by that deadline. “The idea is to shape behaviour … in the next 15 days,” the official told reporters Wednesday. “There is one choice left to make, and that is the choice for peace.” The resolution would include an arms embargo against the world’s youngest nation as well as targeted travel bans and asset freezes. The East African

Russia weighs UN arms embargo on South Sudan
Russia said Thursday it needs more time to study a draft UN resolution on imposing an arms embargo and sanctions on South Sudan if President Salva Kiir refuses to sign a peace deal. The United States presented the draft resolution to the Security Council late Wednesday, hoping to schedule a quick vote, possibly as early as Friday. But Russia’s Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev said “it’s a complex draft. We need time to think about it.” The draft text would impose an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on individuals deemed responsible for the failure of the latest effort to end the 20-month war that has killed tens of thousands of people. AFP on Yahoo News

Warnings as Somali lawmakers move to impeach president
Somali lawmakers said Thursday they were determined to stage a vote of no confidence to oust the president, dismissing international warnings it would hamper peace efforts in the war-torn nation. “This motion is not aimed at destruction, but rather correction,” said MP Abdi Barre Yusuf, who is backing the motion accusing President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud of corruption. The motion was filed earlier this week, and still has to be approved by the speaker before being put to parliament. It is unclear how many support it, but lawmakers claim they have around 100 MPs behind it. But while at least 90 members are needed for a motion to be debated in parliament, two-thirds of the 275-member house would have to back the vote to force the president from office. International backers have issued a warning. AFP on Yahoo News

Kinshasa to try troops accused of rape in C. Africa
Three UN soldiers from the Democratic Republic of Congo accused of rape in the neighbouring Central African Republic will be put on trial, the justice minister told AFP on Thursday. The soldiers are alleged to have raped three young women — the latest in a series of claims against the UN mission in the Central African Republic, known by its acronym MINUSCA. “I have ordered General (Joseph) Ponde, the prosecutor of the armed forces, to start proceedings (based) on the dossier the UN has put at our disposal,” Justice Minister Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said. He said Kinshasa would not “tolerate” such acts, adding that the accused would be repatriated and judged in a military court. AFP on Yahoo News

Mauritania court upholds conviction against anti-slavery activists
A Mauritanian court on Thursday upheld a two-year prison sentence against three anti-slavery activists who were arrested during a protest against bondage in the west African nation. Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, runner-up in the 2014 presidential elections and head of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA), was jailed in January alongside two other activists. In an open letter published after the ruling he vowed to continue his fight against slavery and appealed for the United States and European Union to put pressure on Mauritania to act against the practice, including stopping financial aid. AFP on Yahoo News

Arab armies – Full of sound and fury: The region’s armed forces are being put to the test
Despite the Middle East’s bloody reputation, most of the region’s generals have been able to kick off their boots for much of the past few decades. Apart from a few gruesome interludes, such as Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait or the nearly decade-long war it fought with Iran in the 1980s, the major Arab powers have not had to do much fighting since reaching peace deals or durable ceasefires with Israel after the war in 1973. Yet all armies in the region were forced to shake off their torpor after the uprisings of the Arab spring of 2011 and the conflicts that they sparked. Now it is hard to find many that are not fighting. Their foes range from Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq to the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen. (And, in several worrying cases, their own civilians). The Economist

Is Egypt’s President Creating More Terrorists Than He’s Stopping?
There are very few people nowadays ignoring the growing repression in Egypt. Most recently, a new “counterterrorism” law was imposed this week—but it snuffs out free speech more than terror. Even the State Department denounced the law: “We are concerned that some measures in Egypt’s new antiterrorism law could have a significant detrimental impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms,” its spokesman said. The new law punishes as a crime the publication of information that differs with the official version of facts about terrorism, which means you agree with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi or you go to jail. The Atlantic

Cairo attack should cause headache for Obama
The massive blast that targeted a security building in Cairo this morning, injuring at least 29 people – many of them police officers – went off just days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi signed off on a new controversial “anti-terrorism” law. This is likely no coincidence as it shows that extremist groups like the ‘Islamic State,’ which claimed responsibility for the attack, are unfazed by the new “counter-terrorism” rules meant to curb their activities. Egypt’s political trajectory should also give pause to Washington, which only recently fully restored the close ties it traditionally had with Cairo under the rule of Hosni Mubarak. In March, the Obama administration announced it would resume military aid to the country worth $1.3 billion. The funds were frozen as a response to a military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Islamist Mohammed Morsi. Deutsche Welle

Egypt’s grim summer: Islamic State affiliate claims latest bombing
It’s been a very hot summer in Egypt, with not only more scorching temperatures than usual, but an accelerating tempo of violence. Rights groups and political opponents blame increasingly repressive policies by the government of President Abdel Fattah Sisi for fueling extremist sentiment. The Sisi government says Islamic terrorists are seeking to undermine Egypt’s security and its economy, which are closely intertwined. As has been the case across the region, the militant group Islamic State has added an element of both unpredictability and calculated cruelty, thriving on the very turmoil it helps spawn. Egypt is still a model of stability compared with neighbors such as Libya, but its economic touchstones of foreign investment and tourism are both vulnerable to violent episodes. LA Times

Libyan guards at crossing to Egypt stop working
Libya’s regular border security guards have stopped working at the main border crossing to Egypt, officials said on Wednesday, a further breakdown of state authority. The incident will reinforce worries in Egypt that militants are using the desert border to smuggle in fighters and weapons from Libya, which is in a state of chaos four years after rebels overthrew Muammar Qaddafi. The border is also a transit route for migrants from Syria heading via Egypt to western Libya, from where they hope to get by boat with the help of smugglers to Italy. “The force protecting the Musaid border crossing between Egypt and Libya have withdrawn due to some problems,” said Tariq Kharaz, a spokesman for the interior ministry of Libya’s internationally recognized government, based in the east. Al Arabiya

Regional CVE Summit in Mauritania
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania hosted the West Africa and the Sahel Regional Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) from August 19-20, 2015. The summit included over 200 participants and emphasized the importance of a “whole-of-society” approach to address the underlying causes of violent extremism. In the summit, participants highlighted the essential role played by local communities, municipal and national governments, and non-government stakeholders in this effort. The summit also reinforced support for a new CVE youth network for the region, which will enable young people to share their experiences, innovations, and good practices in building community resilience to violent extremism and challenging extremist narratives. This was the seventh and final regional CVE summit ahead of the UNGA, when heads of state from around the world will gather on the margins of UNGA at a Leaders’ Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism on September 29, 2015.

Crackdown in Niger Fails to Deter Migrant Smugglers
As many as 2,000 migrants leave Agadez weekly, the last big stop before reaching Libya, 620 miles away across the scorching sand. And while the government of Niger has begun cracking down on the traffic, spurred by the outcry in Europe over illegal migration, the business of moving migrants is booming. Recent arrests, roundups and repatriations under the government’s tough new anti-trafficking law have done little to end the lucrative migrant trade in Agadez, whose permanent population is around 90,000. Nor has the regular discovery of dozens of corpses of migrants in the desert — 48 more were found in recent weeks, victims of dehydration — stopped the flow of people north. Ten smugglers were arrested here in recent weeks, panicking migrants, 60 of whom were also rounded up, and their handlers. The New York Times

Ivory poaching: UK troops sent to Gabon to fight illegal trade
British troops have been sent to Gabon to tackle an increase in ivory poaching. The 12 Northern Ireland-based soldiers are on their way to the African country, which has seen widespread elephant killings for their tusks. Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba requested help in battling the international trade. Most of the country’s elephants have been illegally poached for trade to Asia, leaving the population dwindling. The elephants inhabit the Minkebe National Park, which has a forest the size of Belgium. BBC

Senegal court upholds graft conviction against ex-president’s son
Senegal’s supreme court on Thursday upheld a graft conviction and six-year jail term against Karim Wade, the son of Senegal’s ex-president Abdoulaye Wade, in a blow to his own presidential aspirations. A former “super minister” with several portfolios in his father’s government, Karim was convicted in March for amassing an ill-gotten fortune in a deeply divisive case that has led to opposition protests in Dakar. France 24

Rebels urge UN to remove ’security zones’ in northern Mali
Mali’s main Tuareg rebel group on Wednesday urged the United Nations to lift “all the security zones” set up in the country’s north in response to deadly clashes between rival groups that have threatened to unravel a newly agreed peace deal. Three days of fighting between pro-government Tuareg militants and Tuareg rebels from the Co-ordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) prompted UN peacekeepers on Tuesday to install a 20km safe zone around the town of Kidal to protect civilians. News 24

Guinea-Bissau ruling party rejects new PM, calls for protest
Guinea Bissau’s ruling party angrily rejected President Jose Mario Vaz’s new choice for prime minister Thursday, deepening a political crisis in the troubled west African nation a week after the government was sacked. Vaz appointed former minister Baciro Dja, 39, as prime minister a week after he fired Domingos Simoes Pereira over a series of disputes including the naming of a new army chief, sparking fresh crisis in the chronically unstable nation. AFP on Yahoo News

UN blacklists C. Africa diamond firm, three militia leaders
The United Nations slapped sanctions on a diamond firm from the Central African Republic and three militia leaders for undermining security in the troubled country. A UN sanctions committee imposed an assets freeze on the Badica/Kardiam firm for providing support to armed groups in the Central African Republic through illegal trading in diamonds and gold. The action followed the seizure by Belgian authorities in May 2014 of diamond parcels sent to Badica/Kardiam’s representative in Antwerp in violation of a 2013 ban on diamond trading, the committee said. The Central African Republic descended into bloodshed after a 2013 coup against longtime leader Francois Bozize that unleashed a wave of violence, pitting Christian anti-balaka militias against Muslim Seleka rebels. AFP on Yahoo News

When the world stops buying diamonds, this African country sees its economic growth cut in half
Botswana, one of the world’s top diamond producers, expects such weak demand for the gem this year that it has almost halved its forecast for economic growth. The government expects the economy to grow 2.6%, well below the original target of 4.9% for 2015, according to a strategy paper released this week.The world is not buying as many diamonds, cutting Botswana’s growth in half Diamond prices have fallen about 12% over the last five years. The industry had been counting on wealthy Indian and Chinese shoppers to make up for slowing demand elsewhere in the world, but a slowing Chinese economy and ongoing anti-corruption drive has dented enthusiasm for conspicuous jewelry. Quartz

South Africa is one of world’s top five markets for illicit cigarettes
South African soldiers being offered bribes of up to R20,000 to look the other way by cigarette smugglers is an indication of just how massive the illicit cigarette trade is, a factor highlighted by the Tobacco Institute of South Africa (TISA). “South Africa has the highest illicit tobacco incidence in sub-Saharan Africa and is listed among the top five illicit markets globally,” TISA chief executive Francois van der Merwe said. In 2013 an estimated 31% of all cigarettes consumed in South Africa were illicit. This figure dropped to 23% last year. “In terms of impact on the national fiscus more than R20 billion in tax revenue has been lost since 2010. DefenceWeb