Africa Media Review for October 27, 2016

Ethiopia Withdraws Troops in Somalia over ‘Lack of Support’
Ethiopia has withdrawn troops from Somalia, where they had been battling Islamist militants. It blames a lack of international support for the move, following the EU’s recent cut in its funding for foreign troops in Somalia. Ethiopia is a major contributor of soldiers to the Amisom, the African Union mission in the country. Ethiopia has recently withdrawn from several other bases, which were quickly occupied by al-Shabab militants. Officials in Somalia’s Bakol region say some residents have already fled the area since the Ethiopian troops left, fearing an imminent of al-Shabab, which is part of al-Qaeda. BBC

Ethiopia Says Troop Pull Out From Somalia Not Linked to Internal Crisis
Ethiopia has stated that its decision to pull out troops from Somalia is not linked to the state of emergency declared in the country that has faced months of anti-government protests. Communication minister Getachew Reda explained at a news conference in the capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday that their decision was due to limited support in the fight against Al Shabaab which creates a financial burden. “The troops are not under the AMISOM mandate and are unfortunately not supported in their efforts to assist the Somali National Army … The Somali National Army and the international community must take responsibility,” Reda said. Africa News

IS Militants Seize Town in Somalia’s Puntland
Pro-Islamic State militants have seized their first big town in the Puntland region of Somalia, officials and residents told VOA. The militants moved into the Red Sea town of Qandala, 90 miles east of Bosaso, in the early hours of Wednesday without any confrontations. Officials from the Puntland administration have left the town. The chairman of the town, Jama Mohamed Mumin, confirmed to VOA’s Somali Service that the town was seized by “Daesh.” A resident in the town told VOA Somali that about 60 militants entered the town and hoisted their flag on top of the police station and another historical building. VOA

Two Women Convicted in US of Financing Somali Group Al-Shabab
Two women who U.S. prosecutors say led an online group in raising money to support the Somali insurgent group al-Shabab were convicted by a federal judge Tuesday following a trial in U.S. District Court in Virginia. Muna Osman Jama, 36, and Hinda Osman Dhirane, 46, were found guilty of organizing the so-called Group of Fifteen women from eight countries that helped finance al-Shabab military operations and safehouses in Somalia and Kenya, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Eastern Virginia. “These women funneled money to a terrorist organization which was conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said in a written statement. VOA

‘I’m Scared These Men Will Kill Everyone’: ISIS Takes a Somalia Town
The black flag of the Islamic State went up over an old, crumbling coastal town in Somalia at dawn on Wednesday, the latest sign of a sharpening duel between Somalia’s top two militant groups. According to officials and residents, dozens of masked men carrying heavy machine guns, assault rifles and the Islamic State flag marched into Qandala, an ancient trading post on the Gulf of Aden. There was no resistance, the witnesses said. The Islamic State fighters simply walked down the main road into Qandala, a town known in Somalia for its old white castle on the sea. Residents stood back, staring with a mix of awe and fear. Even the fishermen who usually ply the warm waters of the gulf did not go to sea on Wednesday, banned by the militants. The New York Times

Ethiopia Rules Out Early Elections to Address Unrest
Ethiopia’s government has ruled out holding new nationwide elections to address the grievances behind nearly a year of deadly protests. But the opposition says the changes the government is undertaking are not good enough. Government spokesman Getachew Reda says Ethiopia will not call for an early vote. The next regional and nationwide elections are scheduled for 2020. “What we are trying to do is to follow the election cycle,” said Reda. “This government does not have the slightest of intention to all of sudden change the law and call for a vote based on a changed law. We are here for the long haul.” Reda said Wednesday parliament will instead convene to endorse a proposal from the prime minister to reorganize the Cabinet. That is expected in the next week, though Reda did not give an exact date. VOA

Islamic State in Africa Tries to Lure Members From al-Shabaab
Islamic State’s push to co-opt one of Africa’s deadliest jihadist movements has come with an attempt to present a softer face to potential recruits. Over the past year, the jihadist group also known as ISIS and Daesh has launched a broad recruitment campaign across Somalia to pry foot soldiers and senior operatives from al-Shabaab, a two-decade-old insurgency allied with al Qaeda that has made it very clear they have no desire to switch franchises. Stung by battlefield losses to larger al-Shabaab forces, Islamic State has offered promises of an easier life: lower taxes, more tolerance for substance abuse and fewer political diatribes. The inroads have been small, but there is evidence the approach is winning ideological converts, luring a few hundred al-Shabaab defectors including influential imams and allowing Islamic State to establish bands of followers in the northeastern tip of the country. In March, Islamic State launched its first attack on Somali soil—a bombing of an African Union vehicle in Mogadishu—and released a video purportedly showing its first Somali training camp. The Wall Street Journal

Boko Haram Attacks Signal Resilience of ISIS and Its Branches
[…] Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and Western intelligence officials believe the recent strikes were carried out by a group that splintered off with the Islamic State’s blessing to focus on Western and strategic military targets. Now, the group is unleashing the kinds of military attacks that had been on the wane in past months, restoring a deadly urgency to the conflict just as it seemed the militants were finally losing traction. The splinter group has stated its intent to focus its attacks “away from local Sunni civilians and towards military and Western targets,” said Cmdr. William J. Marks, a spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington. The renewed violence offers insight into the reach of the Islamic State. As it loses ground in Iraq and Syria, the group is relying on affiliates like this Boko Haram faction to hold their ground. Other affiliates are also trying to keep up the fight, even under increasing pressure from the West. The New York Times

U.S. Using Tunisia to Conduct Drone Operations in Libya: U.S. Sources
The United States has begun using a Tunisian air base to conduct surveillance drone operations inside Libya, the latest expansion of its campaign against Islamic State militants in North Africa, U.S. government sources said on Wednesday. The unarmed drones have been flying out of Tunisia since late June and are now part of a U.S. air defense in support of Libyan pro-government forces fighting to push Islamic State fighters out of their stronghold in the Libyan city of Sirte, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The use of the Tunisian base, which was first reported by The Washington Post, extends the U.S. military’s ability to gather intelligence on Islamic State in Libya, the U.S. sources said. Other locations in Africa where U.S. drones are launched, including Niger and Djibouti, are farther away. Reuters

Gambia Pulls Out of ‘Racist’ ICC Amid Fears of a Mass African Exodus
Gambia has declared its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, amid growing fears of a mass African exodus from the world body designed to prosecute those who commit the gravest atrocities. The west African nation described the ICC as a racist organisation which is “involved in the persecution and humiliation of people of colour, especially Africans”. It comes just a few days after South Africa began the formal process of withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC. Burundi has also announced its intention to withdraw in due course. The Independent

Burundi Notifies U.N. of International Criminal Court Withdrawal
Burundi has informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon of its decision to quit the International Criminal Court, it said on Wednesday, adding momentum to mounting African opposition to the Hague-based tribunal. African states have long complained the ICC is biased, prosecuting Africans while ignoring others, but they had until recently resisted withdrawing. Burundi now says it has joined South Africa in taking such a step. Gambia said on Tuesday it would withdraw, saying the court had ignored war crimes by Western nations. However, the United Nations said it had not received official notification from Burundi. “An official document announcing Burundi’s move to quit the International Criminal Court was sent to Ban Ki-moon,” Foreign Ministry permanent secretary Joseph Bangurambona, told Reuters. Reuters

AU Commission Has No Standing in ICC, Says Dlamini-Zuma
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has said that the AU “has no standing in the ICC” and therefore, it is “purely” the decision of African countries to join or to withdraw from the Hague-based tribunal. Dlamini-Zuma said this in Pretoria where she engaged with South African editors on her blueprint agenda 2063 for the AU. “The AU commission has no standing in the ICC. We are not members. It’s a purely sovereign decision of each country to join or to pull out,” Dlamini Zuma said. News 24

Angola: ICC Actions Focus On Africans – Foreign Minister
The minister of Foreign Affairs, Georges Chikoti, said on Monday in Luanda that the actions of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been targeting more the African states or personalities or less strong regions. In this regard, the minister spoke of the intention of the withdrawal of South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and many other African countries that also intend to abandon the ICC as it has proven to be a court focused only to condemn African or less strong countries . The minister, who was speaking to the Angolan Public Television (TPA) in “Grande Entrevista” programme, highlighted that it is not very good from the law point of view. “For example, if we look at the case of President Laurent Gbagbo, the ICC cannot build a case against him, but it keeps him there, and this is just one example of the actions of ICC”, he said. allAfrica

Questions over Nigeria’s Anti-corruption Crusade
At his inauguration in May last year, President Muhammadu Buhari was clear about his government’s priorities — crushing the Boko Haram terror campaign, jumpstarting the economy and “killing corruption”. Of these, Bahari’s economic goals have been the furthest from being realized, partly due to the creaking global oil market, which is responsible for much of Nigeria’s foreign earnings, but also because of a revived sabotage campaign against the country’s gas pipelines and, according to most analysts, Buhari’s unsteady policies. The campaign against Boko Haram has fared better, with the terror group now divided and on the back foot under a military onslaught. However, it is the relentless anti-corruption crusade that has really made its mark over the last 17 months. Anadolu Agency

Sudan’s Bashir to Appoint PM
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has proposed constitutional reforms that would include the appointment of a prime minister. State Minister al-Rashid Haroun said Wednesday the proposed amendments “are in line with the outcomes of national dialogue” in Sudan. Parliament Speaker Ibrahim Ahmed said a panel will be formed to discuss the proposed constitutional changes. “The panel will finish its work within two months,” he said. The amendments are expected to be approved as Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) dominates most seats in parliament. Anadolu Agency

UN Says 145 Child Soldiers Released in South Sudan
The UN children’s agency Unicef said on Wednesday it had negotiated the release of 145 child soldiers from two rebel groups in South Sudan. “Our hope is that today’s release will be followed by many others,” Mahimbo Mdoe, Unicef head in South Sudan, said in a statement. The Unicef estimates that around 16 000 children are currently fighting or working as porters with armed groups in South Sudan, including the national army. It says that more than 800 have been recruited this year alone. The 145 released this week came from a group called the Cobra Faction and from the main SPLA/IO rebel faction, both in the eastern Pibor region of the country. In 2015, armed groups in the same area released a total of 1 775 children. News 24

African Union Considers Hybrid Court for South Sudan
The African Union plans to establish a ‘Hybrid Court’ on South Sudan to deal with impunity, promote national unity and justice in the country. African Union chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the decision followed work by the AU Commission of Inquiry on South Sudan, which was the first of its kind on the continent. In a speech read by Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr Aisha Laraba Abdullahi during the commemoration of the Africa Human Rights day, Dr Zuma said the AU was keen on deepening the culture of human rights and justice in some of its Member states. The day was commemorated at Banjul in the Gambia. The East African

Peace Talks With Mozambique’s Opposition Leader Called Off
Peace talks between Mozambique’s opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama and mediators were called off at the weekend after fighting broke out between the military and ex-rebel fighters, local media reported on Wednesday. The meeting was part of negotiations that opened in May to end a simmering conflict between the government and the former Renamo rebel group. “We had agreed (with President Filipe Nyusi) that two mediators would come… to meet me,” Dhlakama told the independent weekly Canal de Mocambique. But Dhlakama, who has been holed-up in the central Gorongosa mountains for a year now, said the military increased its presence near the venue of the meeting on the morning of the talks. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones