Media Review for January 13, 2016

Female Suicide Bombers Attack Mosque in Cameroon
Two female suicide bombers have attacked a mosque in a town near Cameroon’s border with Nigeria during morning prayers, killing at least 10 people and wounding about a dozen others, the governor of the region has said. The attack in the town of Kolofata on Wednesday has been blamed on members of Boko Haram who reportedly crossed the border into Cameroon a few days earlier, Midjiyawa Bakari was quoted as saying. The town of Kolofata in Cameroon’s far north near the border with Nigeria has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram.  Al Jazeera

The massacre Nigeria forgot: a year after Boko Haram’s attack on Baga
It’s been a year since members of the radical Islamist sect, Boko Haram, stormed the fishing town of Baga in northern Nigeria and killed an estimated 2,000 people. It was the most brutal massacre yet perpetrated by the group and the once bustling Baga, home to 300,000 residents on the banks of Lake Chad, has since been become a ghost town. “No one stayed back to count the bodies,” one resident told Human Rights Watch at the time. “We were all running to get out of town ahead of Boko Haram fighters.” Today, the streets are empty. Fewer than 1,000 people remain, eking out a living from small farms hidden away from public view. A resident of Maiduguri, the nearby state capital, said under condition of anonymity that Baga remains desolate under threat from Islamists. The Guardian

US moves to end crisis in Burundi
The U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes of Africa, Mr Thomas Perriello, would be visiting Burundi as part of his government’s efforts at ending crisis in the country. The African Media Hub of the U.S. Department of State said in a statement that the Envoy would be visiting crisis-ridden Burundi, as well as Brussels, Belgium, Rome and Italy. Perriello will also be visiting Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Kigali, Rwanda; Bukavu, Goma, and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); Bujumbura, Burundi; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. According to the statement, the trip is focused on supporting regional efforts to resolve crisis in Burundi, as well as support upcoming elections in the DRC. “The U.S. Government strongly supports the regionally-mediated Burundian dialogue relaunched on Dec. 28, 2015, and is urging all stakeholders to remain committed to the process without preconditions. Vanguard

Nazi hunter fears for Burundi
German Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld said on Monday she fears “the worst” for Burundi if “massacres” linked to the political crisis in the strife-torn African country continue. “The political crisis that Burundi is going through could degenerate into a humanitarian catastrophe,” Klarsfeld, who is a special envoy for the UN cultural body Unesco, said in a statement as she arrived in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. “The massacres that have been perpetrated in 2015 portend the worst,” she said. Her schedule has not been announced, but she had said she would travel to “Burundi, a country whose population has already suffered civil wars, in order to primarily launch an anguished appeal for respect of human life.” News 24

Opposition Sees Ominous Ethnic Undercurrent in Burundi Violence
Lionel fled Burundi last month after a tip off from a friendly police officer that he was on a “list,” which opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza say the intelligence service compiles of people who are often arrested and sometimes killed. Lionel had attended protests and had spoken out against the government online, but he believes being a member of the Tutsi ethnic minority had put people like him more at risk of being targets. “The government has tried to turn this into an ethnic problem,” he told Reuters, from the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Eight months into a crisis that erupted when Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term his opponents say is illegal, Burundi has been suffering from a worsening wave of violence. At least 400 people have been killed and 200,000, like Lionel, have fled the country. VOA

Torture rife in Burundi, opposition claims
“They tied me up, beat me with their belts and kicked me, out on th street in broad daylight,” a Bujumbura resident told DW. The man wishes to remain anonymous. Security forces arrested him in the city’s Cibitoke neighborhood because he took part in the protests against President Nkurunziza’s third term in office. They brought him to Ndadaye police station. “We had to lie down. They beat our backs with barbed wire. It was terrible,” the man said. “They beat us as if we were snakes,” a woman, who also does not want to be named, remembers. “Some of us were beaten more severely than others. It depended on which police officers caught you and perhaps what they accused you of,” she said quietly. Deutsche Welle

Weary of Chaos, Factions in Libya Tentatively Shift Toward Peace
Four years after Libya’s revolution, the scars of war are still visible in this city — buildings pockmarked with bullet and rocket holes, graffiti on the walls remembering fallen fighters, and a war museum where rusty ammunition spills across the sidewalk in front. Misurata became famous for its resistance to an eight-month siege by troops of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. Its fighters gained a reputation as tough guys, spearheading the final assault on the capital, Tripoli, and catching and killing Mr. Qaddafi. In the aftermath, their militias fought turf wars and ran rackets. Yet now many of those same fighters are advocating peace. Weary of war and even ashamed at what they had become, some have refused orders to fight, organized their own cease-fire and accused political leaders of causing a civil war. A majority of the Misurata revolutionary brigades have signed an agreement to protect a United Nations mediated unity government — and on Friday provided security for members of the government on their first visit to Libya to visit victims of a suicide bombing in the town of Zlitan.  The New York Times

Can ISIS Actually Gain Power Over Libya’s Oil?
As it turns out, Syria was merely a springboard for a much larger ISIS plan—replenishing terrorist coffers by taking over oil assets in war-torn Libya. The terror group has largely taken control of the Libyan city of Sirte and its hundreds of miles of coastline, and has ransacked two key oil terminals in an attempt to wrest control from fragile Libyan officials, ISIS is banking on taking over these oil facilities, and is now reportedly recruiting its own oil and gas engineers. Libyan crude should be an easier target than Iraqi oil, which has remained largely out of ISIS reach. If ISIS succeeds, it will have more revenues and more power. Reeling from warring parallel ”governments” in a seething civil war, Libya is in no position to stop ISIS from filling the void. Libyan oil officials say ISIS has ravaged oilfields south of Sirte, clashing with guards at key oil terminals, shelling storage facilities, and setting oil tanks on fire. All that’s left to do now is take over this part of the business in earnest.

U.N. says some of its peacekeepers were paying 13-year-olds for sex
The United Nations has been grappling with so many sexual-abuse allegations involving its peacekeepers that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently called them “a cancer in our system.” Now, officials have learned about what appears to be a fresh scandal. Investigators discovered this month that at least four U.N. peacekeepers in the Central African Republic allegedly paid girls as little as 50 cents in exchange for sex. The case is the latest to plague the U.N. mission in the Central African Republic, whose employees have been accused of 22 other incidents of alleged sexual abuse or sexual exploitation in the past 14 months. The most recent accusations come in the wake of Ban’s efforts to implement a “zero tolerance” policy for such offenses.  The Washington Post

U.S. says to suspend South Africa trade benefits on March 15
The United States will suspend duty-free benefits for South Africa on March 15 because it has failed to meet the requirements of a trade deal, President Barack Obama said on Monday, a move that could cost South Africa up to $7 million. The suspension is seen by analysts as a move to pressure Pretoria to loosen restrictions on U.S. farm exports, in particular on U.S. poultry products. South Africa has said it is concerned that an outbreak of avian flu in the United States, which killed nearly 50 million birds, could pose animal and human health risks to its economy. The U.S. denies there are such health risks from its poultry. “I have determined that South Africa is not meeting the requirements … and that suspending the application of duty-free treatment to certain goods would be more effective in promoting compliance,” Obama said in a proclamation. Reuters

Ghana president defends decision to accept Guantanamo detainees
Ghana’s president defended on Tuesday its decision to accept two Yememis released from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay and said criticism from Christian leaders that the men could endanger national security was misplaced. Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih al-Dhuby were transferred to Ghana after being held for more than a decade in Guantanamo, Cuba, the U.S. Defense Department and the Ghana government announced last week. A grouping of powerful Christian leaders said on Monday the men posed a security threat and should be sent back to Guantanamo, while the main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party, said the government should have consulted more widely before accepting the two men. Comments posted on social media and callers to radio phone-in shows in Ghana have also expressed widespread opposition to their arrival. Reuters

Hague prosecutors press on with Kenya case after witnesses pull out
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court will focus on weight of evidence to seek a post-election violence conviction against Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto, one of them said on Tuesday, after multiple witnesses withdrew their testimony. Lawyers for Ruto and his co-accused, broadcaster Joshua arap Sang, want judges to throw out the crimes against humanity charges against the pair, saying the loss of the six witnesses’ testimony has fundamentally undermined the case. The hearing has become an important test case for the court in The Hague which, since being set up 13 years ago to end impunity for the gravest international crimes, has handed down just two convictions. Ruto’s high-powered legal team, headed by London barrister Karim Khan, scored a victory on Tuesday, persuading judges to allow evidence to be heard in public over the objections of prosecutors who worried a public airing could endanger remaining witnesses. Reuters

Kenya moves to regulate indiscriminate religious preaching
Evangelical churches in Kenya have condemned what they described as government plans to make it tougher for religious bodies and clerics from all faiths to operate. BBC reported that the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya said the move move was aimed at stopping the growth of evangelical churches in the country. But a leading Anglican cleric welcomed the proposals as an attempt to end the “commercialisation” of religion. The proposals required all religious bodies to register, and for preachers to have police clearance. All religious institutions would also be required to submit their statements of faith to a government-backed body for examination. Christians form the majority in Kenya, while Muslims are the second-largest group. The

How al-Qaeda and Islamic State are competing for al-Shabaab in Somalia
Isil and al-Qaeda are fighting a tug-of-war for the allegiance of al-Shabaab in a battle which could hasten the demise of Somalia’s jihadist movement, according to researchers. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have released another video – purportedly filmed in Libya – urging the “brothers” in al-Shabaab in Somalia to join their struggle. So far, two senior al-Shabaab commanders have pledged allegiance to Isil. But this has split a movement which once controlled almost all of southern Somalia. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia’s president, said the defections from al-Shabaab were “symptomatic of a group that has lost its way”, and warned that Somalis “do not need a new brand of horror and repression”. He called on disillusioned al-Shabaab fighters to take advantage of a government amnesty. The Telegraph

U.S. man charged with supporting African terror group
A Maryland man has been indicted on federal charges he provided material support to an al-Qaeda offshoot that has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks in East Africa. Authorities on Monday said 31-year-old Maalik Alim Jones traveled to Somalia in 2011 to fight on behalf of the al-Shabaab militant group. They say Jones learned how to fire an AK-47 and rocket-propelled grenade launcher, then used his training to attack the Kenyan government. Jones appeared in federal court in Manhattan on Dec. 19 to face charges that include conspiracy to provide material support to al-Shabaab and possessing, carrying, and using firearms during and in relation to a crime of violence. Information on his lawyer wasn’t immediately available. If convicted, Jones faces up to life in prison.  AP on Al Arabiya

Authoritarianism in Eritrea and the Migrant Crisis
Tens of thousands of Eritreans have arrived at Europe’s shores in recent years seeking asylum. They make up a significant share of the unprecedented stream of migrants and refugees making their way to the European Union, undertaking dangerous journeys while challenging the bloc to find a collective response consistent with refugee law. Many more Eritreans reside in neighboring Ethiopia and Sudan, bringing the refugee population to about half a million, and making the country of six million people “one of the world’s fastest-emptying nations,” according to the Wall Street Journal. The scale of the migration has heightened Western interest in conditions inside what is one of the world’s most closed countries, where those who have fled describe a long-standing system of forced labor, among other human rights violations, that a UN commission said “may constitute crimes against humanity.” Council on Foreign Relations

Mauritania prisoners on hunger strike
About 30 Islamists have launched a hunger strike at Mauritania’s main jail saying they are being punished after a New Year’s Eve escape by a high-profile prisoner facing death over an Al-Qaeda assassination plot. The prisoners said in a statement sent to AFP that they had started the protest Monday at the main prison in Nouakchott, the capital, and would continue until all their demands had been met. These included “visits by family members …and easier facilitation for them, and for a doctor to be present on the premises round the clock and for faster access to prescribed medicines,” the statement said. The prisoners alleged they were facing “punitive measures after the escape of an Islamist prisoner we had no connection with.” AFP on IOL News

DRC bishops tone down Kabila criticism
Democratic Republic of Congo’s clergy has toned down its opposition to changes in the country’s electoral calendar, which critics say is meant to help extend President Joseph Kabila to extend his tenure beyond constitutional limits. Barely half way through the first month of the new year, National Episcopal Conference of Congo (Cenco) which was vehemently opposed to any “changes” to the calendar has already become less vociferous in its bold decision to take on DRC’s cantankerous, but pressing, political issue of constitutional electoral calendars. Late last year, when questions about the country’s political future and demands for compliance with its constitutional order became the order of the day, the bishops held consultations with civil society where one of the bishops said they had called for the meeting “by virtue of (their) pastoral duty”. The Africa Report

Half of South Sudan children ‘not in school’ because of conflict
More than half of children in South Sudan are not in school, the highest proportion in any country, UN children’s agency Unicef has said. Government forces have been battling rebels for the past two years, although a peace deal was signed in August. Niger is a close second, with 47% unable to attend school, followed by Sudan (41%) and Afghanistan (40%). Worldwide, some 24 million children of more than 109 million living in nations at war are not in school, Unicef said. Even before the conflict began, 1.4 million children were already missing class in South Sudan, Unicef said. Since the war broke out, more than 800 schools have been demolished and more than 400,000 children had to abandon their classrooms, the agency said.  BBC

South Sudan peace monitors demand rivals to let aid into starvation zones
Ceasefire monitors in South Sudan called on rival forces Tuesday to allow food into conflict zones where aid workers have warned tens of thousands may be dying of starvation. “Only a fraction of the emergency food” is in place “because of restrictions on aid convoys and due to insecurity,” said Festus Mogae, a former Botswana president who heads the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC), set up by regional bloc IGAD to ensure a peace deal is implemented. Last week the UN warned that thousands of civilians have fled fighting and extreme hunger in the past month, as leaders struggle to honour a peace deal on the ground. In October, UN-backed experts warned of a “concrete risk of famine” in parts of the northern Unity State if fighting were to continue with 30,000 people facing death by starvation outside areas aid workers can reach. East African

Gabon presidential hopeful seeks to end Bongo rule, wants more accountability
Former African Union chairman Jean Ping, a leading critic of Gabon’s President Ali Bongo, says he will run for president this year, hoping to break the ruling party’s near 50-year grip on power. Ping also told Reuters in an interview he wants to make the presidency more accountable, institute term limits, and invest in health, education and infrastructure. Bongo, the son of long-ruling former president Omar Bongo, won a disputed election in 2009 after his father’s death. He is currently favoured to win the August election and secure a second mandate to rule the Central African oil producer. But analysts say Ping, a leading critic of the Ali Bongo, might be able to capitalise on falling oil prices and broader frustration over wealth inequality, despite the ruling PDG party’s traditional advantages such as a strong patronage network. “I am committed to defending the rights of the Gabonese and I will go all the way to victory,” Ping told Reuters after a meeting with supporters this weekend, announcing plans. Reuters

Egypt’s hollow parliament
Egypt has been without a parliament since 2012. As the drastically reconstituted legislative body convenes this week for the first time in nearly four years, the final step in the restoration of Egypt’s authoritarian system of government appears to be complete. Ever since the July 2013 coup that brought to an abrupt halt the tenuous transition to democracy that followed a popular uprising to remove Hosni Mubarak from power, Egypt’s state institutions have been realigned under the authority of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. To be sure, the process has been fraught with external opposition and internal discord but, through it all, Sisi has managed to tighten his grip on power and consolidate his control over the country’s governing structures. Sisi’s supposed “road map to democracy”, which concluded with the swearing in of the new parliament on Sunday, began with the quashing of all independent political opposition following the military’s takeover in 2013. Beginning with the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s long-standing social movement that took the lead in the post-Mubarak transition by winning a series of elections and referendums, Sisi demonstrated that he did not intend to allow the continuation of the opening of the political field to outsiders and challengers.  Al Jazeera

Russia confirms Egyptian Ka-52K deal
Official confirmation has finally emerged from Russia regarding Egypt’s order for Kamov Ka-52K attack helicopters for its Mistral class helicopter carriers. 46 of the naval variants will be delivered to Egypt. “We have managed to keep up the financial parameters reached previously and to broaden the presence of Russian helicopter technologies in the world market. In the outgoing year, new contracts were signed with Russian and foreign helicopter users,” Russian Helicopters Director-General Alexander Mikheyev said in a statement published on 30 December. “For instance, a large agreement for delivery of 46 Ka-52 Alligator helicopters has been signed with Egypt through state-owned weapons trading company Rosoboronexport,” Mikheyev said. DefenceWeb

Angola buys helicopters, patrol boats, radars
Angola has bought six helicopters, two patrol boats and radar systems from Italy in order to improve its maritime surveillance capabilities. On 23 December, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos signed several contracts with Finmeccanica for the equipment, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa. This will be used to support a national and three regional maritime surveillance centres. Selex ES, part of Finmeccanica, will be lead contractor for the project, installing radar stations and communications systems along the Angolan coast. This portion of the contract is said to be worth 115 million euros. Another contract, worth around 7.3 million euros, is for two fast patrol craft built by Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei, also part of Finmeccanica. The contract includes training. DefenceWeb

Angola: The War On Social Media and the Trial of Activists
Following the president’s outline of his war on social media, Judge Januário Domingos is making history by being the first to hear a case of a political joke on Facebook that has displeased the regime. Yesterday, the judge of the Luanda Provincial Court questioned a Catholic priest, Father Jacinto Pio Wakussanga, for being part of an imaginary government, generated in a playful Facebook discussion, as the head of the National Electoral Commission. In court, the priest told the judge that he had heard through social media about this imaginary government and thought it was just a joke. Last May, a lawyer Albano Pedro set up an open online forum on his Facebook page to entice discussants to come up with names for what would be an ideal government of national salvation. The leader of the millennial religious sect “The Light of the Day”, José Julino Kalupeteka, who has been in jail since last April, was chosen by the participants as president of the Republic. On April 16, 2015, police and military forces massacred Kalupeteka’s faithful, after he resisted arrest in the Central Highland Province of Huambo.  Maka Angola

World Bank cancels funding for Uganda road amid sexual assault claims
Christine Baryamuzura is at her wit’s end. As the local council secretary for women in Bukonderwa, a village in the Ugandan district of Kamwenge, she has left no stone unturned in her efforts to get something done about the construction work that, she says, has destroyed lives in her community. A seemingly interminable cycle of emails and meetings has changed nothing. Claims that girls have been sexually abused remain uninvestigated. Meanwhile, homes, health and livelihoods are in a state of steady deterioration. At the heart of it all is a road project, supported by the World Bank, that should have helped rather than harmed the community. “That’s the tragedy that has come to this village,” Baryamuzura said. “Everything has been destroyed: our gardens, our homes, even our girls. “Of course we want the road, but should it be at the expense of our lives? Our leaders care more about the road than the people’s health.” The Guardian

How Long Have Africa’s Presidents Held Office?
Africa has some of the world’s longest-serving heads of state. Leaders such as Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and José Eduardo dos Santos have been in power for over 30 years. It’s also a continent of change. Across Africa, 25 presidents have held office for five years or less. A dozen presidents have assumed office in the last two years. Use this map and chart to explore how long each sitting president has held power. VOA