Media Review for April 1, 2016

UN Could Vote Friday on Police Presence in Burundi

The UN Security Council could vote as early as Friday on a French-drafted resolution that would lay the groundwork for a UN police presence to help quell violence in Burundi, diplomats said. The draft resolution requests that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hold talks with the Burundian government and the African Union on the proposed international presence and present options to the Security Council within 15 days. The text, obtained by AFP on Thursday, provides for the “deployment of a United Nations police contribution to increase the United Nations capacity to monitor the security situation, promote the respect of human rights and advance rule of law” in Burundi. … A recent visit by UN rights officials to detention centers in the capital Bujumbura found that almost half of detainees had been tortured or ill-treated, some seriously, he said. AFP

Burundi: Lawyer Slams Attorney General’s Warning to Families Not to Submit Evidence to ICC

Days after IBTimes UK revealed 60 Burundian families appealed to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate alleged crimes against humanity committed in Burundi, the nation’s Attorney General has called on families of victims of alleged extra-judicial executions to provide evidence for investigations, warning them not to submit it to the ICC. … Bernard Maingain, one of the three lawyers who have already written to the ICC and the High Commissioner for Human Rights, criticised Bagorikunda’s statement, highlighting that families want to work with professionals and independent investigators as well as provide all the information available to them so that the alleged crimes against humanity do not go unpunished. Speaking from Brussels, Maingain exclusively told IBTimes UK that legally, the prosecutor in Burundi should not wait for victims’ complaints to investigate. “It should investigate as soon as it has knowledge of facts and to date – obviously the Prosecutor General’s investigations do not work”. IBTimes

Egypt’s Abuses, Crackdown Draw World Attention

Nearly three years into a heavy crackdown overseen by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, allegations of human rights abuses including killings, torture and secret detentions are starting to bring an international backlash from the Egyptian leader’s allies. In the past month, Egypt was rebuked over its human rights record by US Secretary of State John Kerry, the European Union’s foreign affairs arm, the European Parliament, the UN Council for Human Rights as well as several Western European nations, including key trade partner and EU heavyweight Germany. … “This looks like a clampdown on sections of Egyptian civil society and it must stop,” the UN. Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Raad Al-Hassan said of the NGO case. Kerry raised concern over “deterioration” in Egypt’s rights situation and “a wider backdrop of arrests and intimidation of political opposition, journalists, civil society activists and cultural figures.” News24

Libyan Unity Government Moves to Assert Power in Tripoli

Libya’s unity government received a boost to its authority Thursday, as 10 cities formerly under control of a rival militia-backed Tripoli body pledged support to the newly arrived prime minister-designate. The arrival of UN-backed Fayez al-Sarraj at a naval base on Wednesday drew fury from the non-recognised authority in charge of Tripoli, which demanded he leave or surrender. But 10 coastal cities in the west of the country called on all Libyans to “support the national unity government” in a major blow to the unrecognised authority that is refusing to give up power. The announcement came in a statement on the official Facebook page of the Sabratha municipality, which also asked the government to “put an immediate end to all armed conflicts across Libya”. France24

Cameroon to Drive Out Boko Haram

Cameroon’s military has launched a new operation to rid the country of Boko Haram militants “once and for all” and soldiers are prepared to storm one of the group’s remaining strongholds in Nigeria, a military commander said on Thursday. The operation – code-named Tentacle – began this week and involves thousands of soldiers working with Nigerian soldiers on the other side of Cameroon’s northern border, General Jacob Kodji said. “We must flush them out and free our people once and for all,” Kodji said, adding that soldiers were “determined” and prepared to move into Nigeria’s Sambisa Forest, a stronghold of the Nigerian-based Islamic extremists. The forest has been targeted in a sustained aerial bombardment by the Nigerian Air Force this year. Northern Cameroon has suffered regular raids and suicide bombings attributed to Boko Haram for more than a year. A particularly deadly spate of attacks in January killed at least 57 people in 17 days, according to government figures. News24

Sudanese Army Liberates Rebel Stronghold in South Kordofan

The Sudanese army on Thursday said it has gained control of Um Sirdiba town, a stronghold of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector in South Kordofan State. “The army is continuing its advancement towards its planned targets at all axes. It is maintaining the initiative and closing on the rebels,” Ahmed Khalifa Al-Shami, Sudanese army spokesman, said in a statement. ‘‘The army has managed to liberate Um Sirdiba town, the main stronghold of the rebels at Kadogli sector and one of their important command centers,” he noted. Daily Nation

Rebels ‘Besiege Sudanese Govt. Forces’ in Nuba Mountains

The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), claim that their forces ‘managed to liberate Agab in Heiban county from government forces early on Wednesday morning’. In a press statement, SPLM-N military spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi says that the Movement “inflicted heavy casualties. SPLM-N captured one Man truck and a small car. Lodi claims that “Government forces in Karkaria are under complete siege, cut off from any logistic support. Their loses are more than 60 dead, more than ten vehicles destroyed, including one Tank.” The fighting is reportedly ongoing, and Lodi refutes an earlier Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) claim to have control of Um Serdiba as “absolutely false. “There is still intense fighting between El Nogra and El Atmur so we will keep updating,” he told Radio Dabanga. Radio Dabanga

African Observers Arrive in Sudan Ahead of Darfur Administrative Referendum

An African Union team Thursday arrived in the Sudanese capital to monitor the three-day administrative referendum in Darfur region which will be held during the second week of April. Darfur residents are called to vote from 11 to 13 April on whether or not the region will keep its five states or reunite as one entity with a semi-autonomous administration. While several Darfurian parties and groups call to maintain the current administrative territorial division, the head of Darfur Regional Authority Tijani al-Sissi called last week to reunite the five states under one administrative entity. Also, armed and political opposition groups are opposed to the vote saying achieving peace is the priority. Sudan Tribune

Key Official Says South Sudan Unity Government Within Reach

The head of an international group monitoring South Sudan’s peace process says the formation of a transitional national unity government in South Sudan “now seems within reach.” Festus Mogae told the UN Security Council on Thursday that despite continuing cease-fire violations “there has been notable progress.” South Sudan has been at war since December 2013 as government forces loyal to President Salva Kiir battle rebels led by his former deputy Riek Machar. They signed a peace deal in August 2015, but fighting has continued, even since Kiir named Machar to be his vice-president again on Feb. 11. UN envoy Ellen Margrethe Loj said South Sudan “is at a critical juncture” and sustained progress requires both leaders to form the transitional government without delay. News24

‘Influx from South Sudan into East Darfur and West Kordofan Continues’: UN OCHA

According to aid organisations on the ground, more than 48,000 South Sudanese have arrived in East Darfur, South Darfur and West Kordofan states since late January 2016. These people are reportedly leaving South Sudan due to food insecurity, as a result of armed conflict, the failure of the agricultural season, the unavailability of food and high prices of cereals in South Sudan. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reports in its latest bulletin that the new arrivals are fleeing from South Sudan’s Northern Bahr El Gazal, Eastern Bahr El Gazal and Warrap states. In East Darfur, 40,468 South Sudanese have arrived in seven locations in the state over the past two months, according to the registration committee in Khor Omer camp, the Sudanese Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and Government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC). A team from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is currently in Ed Daein town for the verification of the new arrivals in Khor Omer and is training enumerators, including staff from HAC, the SRCS and others. The number of South Sudanese in other localities in the state will be ascertained during a mission planned next week. Radio Dabanga

Somali Grenade Attack Kills Two, Injures Eight in Beledweyne

At least two people were killed and eight others injured in a hand grenade attack at a mosque in the central Somali town of Beledweyne, police said. The attack occurred during evening prayers when assailants lobbed a hand grenade at worshipers, police officer Hussein Nur said by phone late Thursday. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. It was the second major attack reported in Somalia on Thursday. Another six people were killed in a car-bombing claimed by al-Qaeda-linked militants in Galkayo city in the nation’s semi-autonomous Puntland region. Bloomberg

UN, AU Training for Somalia Police Recruits Commences

The UN and Africa Union (AU) on Tuesday have began giving training in Jubbaland for 200 officers of the Somali Police Force. A statement issued on Wednesday by the Africa Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said the training programme which will last for three months intends to produce new recruits trained on new policing model. Officials said the training is critical to build the capacity of the Somali Police Force in order to help them restore stability and security as well as to maintain rule and order in the war ravaged East African nation. The training is being conducted by AMISOM Police in partnership with the Somali Police Force and the regional Interim Jubbaland Administration (IJA). … According to the statement, the new policing model contains federal and state-level components, which will be under the respective federal and state-level ministries of internal security. The 200 Somali police recruits are the first batch of the 600 police officers selected for training. Currently AMISOM doesn’t have a permanent Police Training Centre but said it is in the process of sourcing for funds to construct a permanent structure. Sudan Tribune

Drought-Hit Somalia at ‘Tipping Point’: UN

The United Nations’ aid chief for Somalia begged for cash Thursday to stave off starvation amid intense drought affecting a million people and to pull the war-torn country “back from the tipping point.” “Urgent action is required right now. If not, we risk a rapid and deep deterioration of the situation, as drought conditions may worsen in the coming months,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Peter de Clercq said, appealing for $105 million (92 million euros) for “life-saving” aid for more than one million people. “Communities are already losing their means of survival. The time to fund is now, to come back from the tipping point, avoid a greater crisis and avert loss of lives,” he told reporters in Nairobi. The UN said that “malnutrition-related deaths” have already been reported. Northern Somali areas, including self-declared independent Somaliland along the Gulf of Aden and semi-autonomous Puntland, are especially hard hit, with some 385,000 people in acute need of food aid, with that figure feared to quadruple without help. Bar-Kulan

He Wants More and Will Get It: Djibouti’s Guelleh Eyes Fourth Term Win in Presidential Vote

After 17 years under his rule, few doubt Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh will fail to win a fourth term in polls next week, with a divided opposition already calling the vote a sham. Supporters of Guelleh—president since 1999 of the tiny but strategic former French colony whose port guards the entrance to the Red Sea and Suez Canal—are confident of victory in the April 8 vote. Since campaigning began on March 25 portraits of “IOG”, as Guelleh is nicknamed, have lined the baking hot streets of Djibouti city, capital of the arid Horn of Africa nation of some 820,000 people, where Guelleh supporters parade in the green party colours of his Union for the Presidential Majority (known by its French acronym, UMP). “We are optimistic, especially when we see that the opposition party is struggling”, said Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf. Guelleh won the last polls five years ago with 80% of the vote, after parliament changed the constitution in April 2010 to clear the way for a third, and now a likely fourth, term. Mail & Guardian

Rwandan Senior Military Men to Appeal 20-Year Jail Term Verdict

President Paul Kagame’s former head of security, Col Tom Byabagamba was Thursday sentenced to 21 years in prison on charges of inciting rebellion against the government, concealing evidence and disrespecting the national flag. His co-accused, Rtd Brig Gen Frank Rusagara was handed a 20-year jail term after being found guilty of inciting insurrection against the government, spreading rumours with intent to taint the leadership’s image and illegal possession of firearms. Rusagara was also on trial for calling the Rwandan President Kagame a “dictator”, labelling the country as a “banana republic”, as well as spreading through his email “negative” media reports and books which criticised Kigali’s leadership. Byabagamba was found guilty of “refusing to salute” while the national anthem was being recited while on a state mission in Juba, South Sudan, portraying the government as “killers”, as well as sympathising with FDRL, a Rwandan rebel group. East African

Uganda: ‘Swallow Bitter Pill, Learn Lessons from Court Ruling’

Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), has said that Uganda as a country must take the hard lessons brought forth by the poll petition seriously and learn to approach all future elections with the 2016 experience very firmly in mind. Today, the Supreme Court dismissed the former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi’s poll petition challenging the re-election of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and upheld the results of the polls. The petition was dismissed for lack of substantial evidence to prove that Museveni committed several of the electoral offenses he was accused of and that there was noncompliance with the electoral laws by the Electoral Commission. New Vision

Uganda: Court to Rule on Besigye Detention Case

Justice Elizabeth Kabanda will at 11am determine whether she maintains the prosecution of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Gen. Kale Kayihura and Kampala North Regional Police Commander Wesley Nganizi at Kasangati Magistrate’s Court. … In his application, Besigye contends that since February 18th, he has been arrested, detained and put under house arrest at Kasangati beyond 48 hours without any charge preferred against him. He sought an order for the police to be immediately and unconditionally removed from his home pending the hearing of his main case at the High Court Civil Division on May 4th. New Vision

Rights Groups Call on Congolese Authorities to End Arbitrary Arrests

Several human rights organizations have denounced a wave of opposition arrests in the Republic of Congo. Tensions remain high in the country following the recent reelection of incumbent President Denis Sassou N’Guesso, as the opposition has contested the results and called on the Congolese people for civil disobedience. Amnesty International as well as several Congolese human rights organizations say the recent arrests of political opponents were arbitrary, and they have called on Congolese authorities to release them. Christian Mounzeo, president of the Engagement for Peace and Human Rights Organization, said the group is asking politicians to resolve their political disagreements by political means and not through violence, curtailing freedom and arbitrary arrests. The arrests follow the announcement last week of the reelection of incumbent President Denis Sassou N’Guesso with about 60 percent of the vote in a controversial first-round poll, extending his more than 30-year rule in the Central African nation. The opposition claims the election was rigged and it has denounced the crackdown. VOA

Mozambique’s Dangerous Game of “Cat and Mouse” is Entering a Critical Phase

If an audacious statement by Mozambique’s opposition leader, Afonso Dhlakama, is to be believed, troops loyal to his Renamo opposition grouping will attempt to take over the administration of six provinces in the country come 1 April 2016. How, when and even whether they do, remains unclear, but it will need to be done with force and will amount to an overthrow of each of the various provincial governments. The statement reflects the increasingly tense and polarised political climate which has come to characterise Mozambique in recent months. Since the turn of the year in particular, negative news emanating out of Mozambique has become the norm. Aside from a number of clear economic stresses facing the country, of particular concern is the dramatic uptick in political violence which is threatening to plunge it into crisis. The intensification of violence and deterioration of the security situation in many parts of the country following the 2014 election, has prompted serious questions around what this means for the country’s political and economic trajectory. Indeed, The International Crisis Group flagged the country as being on “conflict risk alert” following the escalation of tensions in February. CNBC Africa

South Africa’s Opposition Says will Take Necessary Action to Remove Zuma

South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance will take any steps necessary to remove President Jacob Zuma from his post, should parliament fail to do so, its leader said on Friday. The DA said it had started proceedings to impeach Zuma after the country’s highest court ruled on Thursday he had violated the Constitution by ignoring an order to repay some of the state money spent on improvements to his private home. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones