Media Review for April 11, 2016

Ismail Guelleh Wins Fourth Term as Djibouti President
Ismail Omar Guelleh has won a fourth five-year term as president of Djibouti, a strategically important country in the Horn of Africa. Guelleh, who ran on the UMP party ticket, secured 87 percent of the votes cast in Friday’s elections, according to provisional results announced by the country’s interior minister. Guelleh, 68, also won the 2011 election with 80 percent of the vote after the country’s parliament altered the constitution to allow him to extend his rule. Speaking on Saturday, Hassan Omar, the interior minister, said Omar Elmi Khaireh, the opposition coalition (USN) candidate, came second, with seven percent, or 9,400 of the 133,356 votes cast. About 3,844 ballots were declared invalid. Al Jazeera

Chad Votes with Longtime Leader Deby Seeking Fifth Term
Chadians voted on Sunday in a presidential election as the incumbent, Idriss Deby, sought a fifth term in office. President Deby, who took power in a military coup 26 years ago, faces 12 challengers but is widely expected to win another term. “I call on Chadians to vote in calm and serenity. Our country is starting from a long way back but the future looks bright. I ask all politicians to respect the verdict of the ballot box,” Deby told journalists as he voted. Witnesses said thousands of voters cast their ballots at polling stations in the capital, N’Djamena, in the first election the central African country has held using biometric data. “We came to vote for the president to guarantee peace in our country. Around us in the neighbouring countries there are too many problems,” civil servant Fatima Zara told Reuters news agency. Al Jazeera

Boko Haram Wants $56m for Schoolgirls
The terror sect is thought to have issued the demand during secret contacts with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has said he is willing to negotiate for the girls’ freedom. The group’s leader, Abubakr Shekau, had previously demanded the release of jailed comrades in exchange for the girls. But a deal along those lines – brokered by the Red Cross – fell through after Nigerian prison officials said that commanders on a list given to them by Boko Haram were not in their custody. Details of the new ransom request emerged ahead of the second anniversary of the girls kidnapping on the night of April 14, 2014, when they were abducted by Boko Haram gunmen posing as soldiers.  Times Lives

President Obama: Libya Aftermath ‘Worst Mistake’ of Presidency
US President Barack Obama has said failing to prepare for the aftermath of the ousting of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi was the worst mistake of his presidency. Mr Obama was answering a series of questions on the highs and lows of his time in office on Fox News. He said, however, that intervening in Libya had been “the right thing to do”. The US and other countries carried out strikes designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising. But after the former Libyan president was killed, Libya plunged into chaos with militias taking over and two rival parliaments and governments forming. So-called Islamic State (IS) gained a foothold, and Libya became a major departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe. BBC

France Rules out Future Libya Airstrikes to Secure Unity Government
No further air strikes will be launched, and no more troops to be sent on the ground of Libya to combat ISIS militants, as France’s foreign minister stated on Friday that it ruled out the aforementioned measures, however it said it could aid in securing the U.N.-brokered national unity government in Tripoli. Holding hopes on different aspects, all western powers are supporting the unity government, having faith that it will seek foreign support to confront ISIS militants, deal with migrant flows from Libya to Europe and restore oil production to shore up Libya’s economy. Nevertheless, it is uncertain and worrying that any direct military intervention has the chance to make things worse in regard of the current situation, especially if a political void remains with its influence on the country.  Asharq Al Awsat

Tanzania, Uganda Agreed to Resolve Border-related Disputes
Tanzania and Uganda have agreed to collectively resolve challenges facing people living along the border of the two east African nations including illegal immigrants and security. The agreement came at a meeting held in the Tanzania’s northwestern region of Kagera – about 298 km from the Ugandan capital Kampala. The meeting involved high-ranking officials and experts from the two countries. Tanzania’s Deputy Permanent Secretary for the ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Dr Moses Kusiluka said the move is meant to cement bilateral relations between the two nations. “There are no serious border disputes, but there are some complaints from people of the two countries…and those challenge are what we want to address them,” Kusiluka said omn Sunday. Xinhua

Deadly Car Bombing Targets Mogadishu Restaurant
At least three people, including a child, were killed on Saturday in a car bomb attack outside a restaurant in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, police and witnesses said. Armed group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack on its radio station, saying it was targeting government forces who were inside the restaurant, according to the DPA news agency. Abdifatah Halane, a spokeseperson for Banadir province said the explosion took place in Mogadishu’s Beyhani district. “Three civilians were killed and five others injured,” he told the AFP news agency. News 24

Somalia’s President Says al-Qaeda-backed Rebels are ‘Resurgent’
Five years after a U.N.-backed force began to push al-Qaeda-linked militants out of their strongholds, Somalia boasts clear signs of progress. Large swaths of the country have been reclaimed. Streets, beaches and markets have come back to life in once forsaken cities. The United States has promised to rebuild its long-shuttered embassy. But as Somalia approaches a critical period, with parliamentary and presidential elections due by August, those gains are showing signs of reversal. The al-Shabab rebels are “resurgent,” President Hassan Sheik Mohamud said in an interview last week. He and other senior officials acknowledged that ­Somalia’s government is still ­unable to provide security or public services to regions that have been liberated. The government must choose between giving its soldiers wages or weapons, he said. The Washington Post

Isis: New Terrorist Group Jahba East Africa Pledges Allegiance to ‘Islamic State’ in Somalia
A new terrorist group has pledged allegiance to Isis as it continues to expand its presence in East Africa. A group calling itself “Jahba East Africa” announced its alliance on Thursday, hailing a “new era” in the region. In a statement, militants gave bayah (an oath of allegiance) to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and recognised him as the “rightful Khalifa (leader) of all Muslims”. The group’s name is previously unknown but there were hints in the statement that its supporters may previously have been part of al-Shabaab. The Independent

South Sudanese Government Accused of Militarising Juba Again
In a serious violation of the agreement between rival parties to demilitarize the national capital, Juba, pending arrival of First Vice President designate, Riek Machar, and formation of transitional government of national unity with President Salva Kiir, the government has been accused of sneaking into Juba on Saturday evening thousands of armed youth from the ruling ethnic Dinka of Bahr el Ghazal region. Chairperson of the national committee for information and public relations in the armed opposition faction of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), Mabior Garang de Mabior, said reliable information indicated that the Chief of General Staff of the South Sudan’s army, General Paul Malong Awan, brought to Juba last evening troops from his home region in violation of the deal. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Army Chief Sparks Controversy
South Sudan’s opposition faction is calling recent comments by the country’s army chief of staff, “anti-peace and anti-democracy.” Last week army chief of staff Paul Malong Awan said as long as he lives, former vice president and rebel leader Riek Machar will never become president of the world’s newest nation. Speaking during a visit to his home village of Malualkon, General Awan did not say how he would prevent the opposition political leader from becoming president. Machar spokesman James Gatdet Dak condemned Awan’s comments as “an unfortunate reminder that there are senior political and military officials of the government in Juba who are not for peace and democracy.” VOA

Burundi Rejects Deployment of UN Police, Monitors
The Burundian government is resisting the United Nations Security Council resolutions to deploy police and military monitors in the country. The government said it will not compromise the mandate of its police force to maintain law and order after the France-sponsored motion was passed by the UN Security Council to monitor the security situation in the country. “We don’t want deployment of hundreds of police officers. The United Nations has to remember that there are AU observers who are on the ground so we just need a few to help stabilise the situation in the country,” said Burundi’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Nyamitwe. The UNSC resolution requested Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in consultation with the Burundian government and AU to present as soon as possible and not later than 15 days of the adoption of the resolution options for deployment of a United Nations police contingent in Burundi. The East African

Kigali Moves to Nip Radicalisation and Terrorist Recruitment in the Bud
The Rwandan government has been quietly dealing with religious extremism and radicalisation as reports emerge that the Somalia-based Al Shabaab and the Islamic State (IS) have been targeting the country’s Muslim youth for recruitment. Before President Paul Kagame broached the subject on March 26 in the Western Province district of Rubavu, there had been no media or public discourse on the issue. Rubavu has the highest number of Muslims in Rwanda, and President Kagame while addressing opinion leaders made reference to last month’s terrorist attacks in the Belgian capital Brussels, saying that Rwanda too was facing religious radicalisation, citing an example of a Rwandan soldier on a peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic who shot and killed four of his colleagues in August 2015. ABC News

Tight Race Expected in Comoros Presidential Runoff
Comoros election officials have began counting ballots after a tense three-way presidential run-off poll featuring the current vice president and a former coup leader who ruled the country for seven years. The day of voting on Sunday was marred by a number of incidents notably on Anjouan, one of the three islands which make up the Indian Ocean archipelago. Results in the race to succeed outgoing President Ikililou Dhoinine are not expected before Wednesday. The second round of the presidential election comes after Vice President Mohamed Ali Soilihi – known as Mamadou – won the first round in February with 17.88 percent of the vote. The two other contenders are the governor of Grande Comore island, Mouigni Baraka, who garnered 15.62 percent in the first round, and 1999 coup leader Colonel Azali Assoumani, who took 15.10 percent. Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia and Egypt to Build Bridge over the Red Sea
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has announced an agreement with Egypt to build a bridge over the Red Sea connecting the two countries. The monarch made the announcement in televised comments on the second day of his visit to Cairo after meeting the Egyptian president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. “I agreed with my brother his excellency President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to build a bridge connecting the two countries,” Salman said. “This historic step to connect the two continents, Africa and Asia, is a qualitative transformation that will increase trade between the two continents to unprecedented levels.” Sisi, who earlier presented the king with the ceremonial Nile Collar, Egypt’s highest honour, suggested they name the crossing King Salman bin Abdel Aziz Bridge. The Guardian

Egypt Gives Saudi Arabia 2 Islands in a Show of Gratitude
Since King Salman of Saudi Arabia arrived in Cairo on Thursday for a five-day visit, the leader of the oil-rich kingdom has lavished his Egyptian allies with promises of aid and investment. But this time, instead of writing a blank check with little more than a polite “thank you” to show for it, King Salman will return home Monday with something more substantial in return: two islands in a strategic corner of the Red Sea. Egypt’s cabinet announced on Saturday that it was transferring sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir, arid and uninhabited islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, to Saudi Arabia. The cabinet tried to suggest that the transfer, pending approval from Parliament, merely returned Saudi Arabia’s own territory. Saudi Arabia transferred Tiran and Sanafir to Egyptian control in 1950 amid concerns that Israel might seize them. The New York Times

Rome Recalls Ambassador over Murder of Italian Student in Egypt
Italy on Friday recalled its ambassador to Egypt for consultations in protest over the lack of progress in a probe into the fate of murdered Cambridge student Giulio Regeni. The move came after two days of talks between Egyptian and Italian investigators in Rome ended without a resolution of tensions between the two countries over the fate of 28-year-old Regeni, whose tortured and mutilated body was discovered outside Cairo on February 3. “Italy has undertaken a commitment with the Regeni family… that we would stop only once we get the truth,” Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said. France 24

The Democracy Activist Who Became a Suicide Bomber
Five years ago, Ahmad Darrawi was one of the idealistic young Egyptians whose bravery stirred world-wide admiration. In 2011, he stood among the protest vanguard in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and in the months afterward he often appeared on TV, outlining reforms for Egypt’s brutal and corrupt police. In the fall of 2011, he ran for parliament as an independent. His campaign ads showed a smiling, clean-shaven man in a gray suit under the slogan “Dignity and Security.” He was 32. Three years later, Darrawi blew himself up on the battlefields of Iraq, where he was fighting as a loyal soldier of Islamic State, according to the terrorist group. How did it happen? How did a hopeful, principled young man from a middle-class family turn into a coldblooded suicide bomber? It is hard to separate that question from the Arab world’s broader descent over the past five years: from nonviolence to mass murder, from proclamations of tolerance and civic idealism to the savagery of Islamic State. The gap between those ideals is so vast that any attempt to link them can seem like madness. But for Darrawi and others like him—in Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia and more. The Wall Street Journal

Spain Police Find Arms Cache in North African Ceuta Enclave
Spanish police say they are investigating an arms cache found in the country’s North African enclave of Ceuta that might have links with the Islamic State group. Police said among the items discovered in perfect condition were two submachine guns, three pistols, an air gun that had been “modified for use with live ammunition,” assorted ammunition, knives and an IS flag. The statement on Saturday said the weapons were found Thursday in a field near Mirador de Benzu at the eastern tip of Ceuta. Investigators were examining the items for evidence that might point to the identity of those who hid them.  AP on ABC News

Are the ADF ‘Islamist’ Scapegoats in Congo?
Attacks on civilians in the Beni region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have killed more than 500 people in the past 18 months. Congolese officials accuse the Allied Democratic Forces, an Islamist rebel group with links to Uganda, of committing the massacres. But it’s not that simple. Behind the narrative of an Islamist menace there is evidence of Congolese military involvement, with potential links to smuggling rackets. IRIN

US Researcher who Linked Soldiers to Massacres Expelled from DR Congo
Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have expelled a prominent American researcher weeks after he published a report linking soldiers to the massacres of civilians, the government and the researcher’s organisation said on Saturday. Jason Stearns, the director of the Congo Research Group at New York University, was expelled from the country, to which he makes regular research visits, for making false declarations to immigration services, government spokesman Lambert Mende said. Immigration authorities “wanted to present him to a judge but finally they decided to expel him”, Mende said, adding that he did not have any details on the nature of those declarations. The Guardian

Russian Confirms Egypt as North African Buyer of 50 MiG-29s
The Russian Commission for Military Technical Cooperation has confirmed Egypt as the North African buyer of 50 MiG-29M fighter jets and released fresh details of the Egyptian purchase of several other weapons systems worth at least $5 billion in 2015. In February Russian officials confirmed the sale of 50 MiG-29M fighter jets to a North African country but declined to identify the buyer. Rosoboronexport signed the deal in April 2015, and expects to deliver the first two aircraft this year. RAC MiG deputy director general Alexey Beskibalov in February said deliveries should be completed by 2020. The MiG-29M (and two seat MiG-29M2) is an improved version of the MiG-29 featuring longer range due to increased internal fuel, a lighter airframe, slightly more powerful and improved RD-33MK engines, an in-flight refuelling probe, multi-function displays in the cockpit and improved avionics. DefenceWeb

New Nigerian Army Aviation Corps seeks helicopters, UAVs
The Nigerian Army is considering the acquisition of new South African-made Rooivalk, Russian-made Mi-17, French-made H125 and some Chinese-made helicopters to equip a newly formed Army Aviation Corps. According to a report published by the Nigerian daily newspaper ThisDay, the establishment of the Nigerian Army (NA) Aviation Corps was revealed by Nigerian Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai when he addressed the 2016 First Quarter Chief of Army Staff Conference in Abja on Wednesday. Buratai said the new stand-alone counter-terrorism air unit will be tasked specifically with providing aerial support to ground forces fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in the north and north-east of the country and guaranteeing long-term national security. DefenceWeb

ANC Rebellion Gains Momentum, Raising Odds of Zuma’s Ouster
A rebellion against South African President Jacob Zuma is gathering momentum within the ruling African National Congress, fueling a political crisis and raising the odds of his ouster. Calls for Zuma, 73, to step down by ANC veterans, church and civil-society organizations and business leaders have intensified since the Constitutional Court ruled on March 31 that the president “failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution.” Friends of the president, the Guptas, who the ANC are investigating over allegations they offered cabinet positions for concessions, on Friday quit from management and board positions in companies they control, alleging “a sustained political attack.” “President Zuma took a wrong turn in a number of respects,” George Bizos, a lawyer who was one of former President Nelson Mandela’s closest friends and represented him at his 1963 treason trial, said by phone from Johannesburg. “I will not subscribe to the statement that the ANC is corrupt or that they do not have the interest of the country at heart. The onus is on President Zuma, for the benefit of his party which he has served well for a long time, to resign.” Bloomberg

Kenya’s Broken Bromance
There are signs that the unlikely alliance formed between Kenyatta and Ruto in 2013 may not last far beyond presidential elections in 2017. The political friendship between President Uhuru Kenyatta and deputy president William Ruto has been one of circumstance. The pair joined together in the unlikely but victorious Jubilee electoral alliance in 2013, despite Ruto having supported Kenyatta’s bitter rival Raila Odinga in the previous poll, and the impact of the post-electoral violence of 2007 and 2008, where the Kalenjin – Ruto’s ethnic group – had massacred members of Kenyatta’s Kikuyu ethnic group. Africa Report

Madagascar’s PM Denies Govt Announcement of his Resignation
Madagascar’s presidency on Friday announced the resignation of Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo after weeks of political conflict, a claim swiftly denied by the head of government who said he planned to step down in the future. Ravelonarivo and President Hery Rajaonarimampianina have been in conflict over issues including the poor condition of the island’s main roads and rising crime in the capital Antananarivo. Rajaonarimampianina won elections in 2013 but has been beset by opposition to his rule, with lawmakers trying to unseat him for alleged constitutional violations and incompetence. France 24

Terrorism, Armed Conflicts, Falling Oil Prices Slow Central African Economies
A meeting of central African finance ministers and officials of the Bank of Central African States, BEAC, has predicted very difficult times for economies of the six central African nations if they do not diversify their economies. BEAC governor Lucas Abaga Nchama says falling world petroleum prices, insecurity from Boko Haram terrorism and the spillover of the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR), has led to growing debts and weak financial performances of the private sector in Chad, Cameroon, CAR, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. He says economic growth has been reduced from about 4 percent before 2014, to 2.8 percent in 2015 and 1.6 percent so far in 2016. He says the overall fiscal deficit has worsened from 4.1 percent of GDP to over 6 percent and that all central African countries have experienced unprecedented increases in their debt levels and are afraid the debts may get to 70 percent of GDP, a level they consider very bad for any economy.  VOA

New Sierra Leone Ebola Alert
Sierra Leone called on Sunday for increased vigilance to prevent a resurgence of the Ebola virus after new cases in neighbouring Liberia and Guinea, but cautioned against shutting off borders between the west African states. The alert came after the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed a link between a fatality in Liberia, months after it was declared Ebola-free, and new cases in its neighbour Guinea. A woman died of Ebola in the Liberian capital Monrovia on March 31, after arriving from Guinea, where a fresh Ebola outbreak has killed eight of the nine cases registered since mid-March. Two of her three children, aged five and two, have since tested positive for the virus. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones