Media Review for April 4, 2016

UN Security Council Approves Burundi Police Force

The UN Security Council has approved a resolution paving the way for a UN police force to be deployed in Burundi. The resolution, drafted by France, calls on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to draw up a list of options for the proposed presence within 15 days. Burundi has been in turmoil since April last year, when President Pierre Nkurunziza sought and won a third term that the opposition said was illegal. Since then more than 400 people have been killed. There is concern the violence could grow into ethnic conflict in the region. In January, the UN said it found evidence that Burundi’s security forces gang-raped women while searching the homes of suspected opposition leaders and heard testimony of mass graves. Mr Ban will have to consult the Burundian government about the proposed force but President Nkurunziza has expressed opposition to an intervention by the UN or the African Union. BBC

Burundi Agrees to United Nations Police Deployment

Burundi has accepted the United Nations Security Council’s resolution to send in police, the foreign affairs minister said on Saturday, after months of political tension. The 15-member council unanimously adopted on Friday a French-drafted resolution asking UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to offer options for a police deployment to Burundi, where violence threatens to spiral into ethnic conflict. … “This UN resolution is fine for us since it takes into account everything we have been saying,” Alain Nyamitwe, Burundi’s foreign minister, told Reuters. “We have always been open to experts but never to sending of peacekeeping troops in Burundi,” he said, adding “a few” UN police could help stabilise the country. But Leonce Ngendakumana, chairman of the opposition FRODEBU party, criticised the resolution for failing to call for the deployment of peacekeepers. “That UN resolution brings nothings to us,” he told Reuters. “We don’t want UN police but UN peacekeepers who would prevent Burundi from sliding into another civil war.” The opposition wants the peacekeepers to be deployed to disarm the different armed groups including the militia allied to the ruling CNDD FDD party, known as “Imbonerakure”, Ngendakumana said. East Africa

Burundi: Civilians Urged to Use App to Record ‘Crimes Against Humanity’

Last week, 60 Burundian families officially mandated a group of lawyers to bring judicial cases in front of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding alleged crimes against humanity committed in the small African nation. While it is both dangerous and challenging to prove material purporting to show human-rights abuses is genuine, the project coordinator for the eyeWitness to Atrocities project of the International Bar Association, has encouraged Burundians to use a mobile app, eyeWitness, to help bring perpetrators of atrocities to justice. The association designed the free smartphone camera app to help human rights defenders, journalists and ordinary civilians document atrocities from anywhere in the world, so the evidence can be verified and used in court to prosecute perpetrators of the worst international crimes. … Tested and designed to work in low infrastructure environments such as Burundi, the app allows activists to take verifiable photos, videos and audio recordings by using metadata embedded in the files – which means they can be used in investigations and trials. IBTimes

Leader of Ansaru Islamist Militant Group Arrested in Nigeria

The leader of Nigeria’s Ansaru jihadist group, a Boko Haram splinter group ideologically aligned to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has been arrested, an army spokesman said on Sunday. Khalid al-Barnawi is one of three Nigerians listed by Washington in 2012 as “specially designated global terrorists”. The US Department of State in June 2012 named Barnawi alongside Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and Ansaru founder Abubakar Adam Kambar as terrorists. “Security agents made a breakthrough on Friday in the fight against terrorism by arresting Khalid al-Barnawi, the leader of Ansaru terrorist group in Lokoja,” military spokesman Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said. “He is among those on top of the list of our wanted terrorists,” he added. … Ansaru, a splinter group of Boko Haram, specialising in high profile killings and attacks on global interests, is also linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Barnawi, 47, whose real name is Usman Umar Abubakar, hailed from Biu town in restive northeast Borno state. He and his group have been involved in a string of kidnappings of mostly foreigners. The group comprises mostly western-educated Boko Haram members who were trained in AQIM camps in the Algerian desert. France24

Biafra: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari Faces Criticism for Backing Western Sahara

Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari is facing mounting criticism by pro-Biafran secessionist groups over his support for the independence fight of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) in Western Sahara. Pro-Biafrans demand the independence of Biafran territories forcibly annexed to Nigeria during British colonisation, which ended in 1960. Supporters of the breakaway were angered after Buhari said, in March, that Nigeria would help ensure independence and self-determination for people in Western Sahara. A Biafran Republic was established in 1967 and re-annexed to Nigeria in 1970, following a civil war that claimed between one and three million lives. Pro-Biafrans, who are routinely holding demonstrations across south-eastern Nigeria calling for independence and the realease of one of their leaders, Nnamdi Kanu, accused the president of being a hypocrite. IBTimes

Heavy Shooting Between Police, Gunmen in Republic of Congo’s Capital

Police in the Republic of Congo’s capital exchanged heavy gunfire with unidentified gunmen Monday in the first major outbreak of violence since the re-election of President Denis Sassou Nguesso last month. The shooting happened in Brazzaville’s Bacongo and Makeleke neighborhoods. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Nguesso first served as president between 1979 and 1992, and after losing an election returned to power in 1997. He won disputed elections in 2002 and 2009 before getting voter approval to remove constitutional blocks that would have barred him from the March 20 vote because of age and term limits. An army general who finished third in the voting alleged fraud and called for a campaign of “civil disobedience” after the results were announced. VOA

US Officials: Drone Strike Kills Key Al-Shabab Leader

The US military says it has carried out a drone strike against a key member of the al-Shabab extremist group in Somalia. Officials accuse the militant of planning at least two deadly attacks in Mogadishu last year. US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hassan Ali Dhoore and two others were killed in the airstrike in southern Somalia, close to the Kenyan border. “We have been watching him off and on for a long time,” one official told the AFP news agency. The military said it was still assessing the results of the strike, which was carried out on Thursday. Dhoore was allegedly part of al-Shabab’s security and intelligence wing. He had been involved in planning attacks in Mogadishu, including an assault on the capital’s airport that killed at least nine people on Christmas Day in 2014, the Pentagon said in a statement. He was also allegedly “directly responsible” for a March 2015 attack on a Mogadishu hotel, resulting in the deaths of 15 people, the statement read. DW

‘Tanzanian Spy’ Tried, Executed by Al-Shabaab

An alleged jihadist from Tanzanian has been executed in Southern Somalia, reports indicate. Issa Jemes Mwesiga, who hailed from Tanzania, was executed on Saturday at a square in Jilib town, about 400km south of the capital Mogadishu. He was charged, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to death at an Al-Shabaab court over accusations of espionage. Tanzania’s ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations couldn’t be reached by The Citizen for reaction on the reports, but Al-Shabaab officials said that Mwesiga was fighting alongside “fellow jihadists” before becoming a spy. The Citizen

Libya: IS Attacks Oilfield, Murders Two More in Sirte and is Itself Attacked

IS terrorists killed two guards in a hit and run oilfield attack, murdered two more prisoners in Sirte and reportedly lost several men in air strikes on two targets in the town. According to the Petroleum Facilities Guard, two of their men died when an IS convoy of around ten trucks descended on the Beda oilfield. PFG spokesman Ali Al-Hassi told Reuters that two of their men were killed. The attack on the field, some 250 kilometres south of Ras Lanuf, was reportedly beaten off. This is not the first assault on oil facilities that IS has mounted, In January a raid near Maradah saw the abduction of six workers and serious damage to one of the main oil pipelines. Libya Herald

Libya: Military Commanders Gathering in Marj to Discuss Presidency Council

Regular armed forces commanders from eastern Libya and a number from the south and west are reported to have have gathered in Marj today for discussions with General Khalifa Hafter and the army’s high command about the situation in the country since the arrival of the UN-endorsed Presidency Council in Tripoli. They include the head of the Libyan National Army’s western Operations Room, Colonel Idris Madi, who flew into Benina airbase yesterday. He was briefed there about the situation in Benghazi by Brigadier-General Abdussalam Al-Hassi who took over the local operations room last December. … according to army sources, the aim the commanders’ gathering was to rally the armed forces behind the House of Representatives’ president Ageela Saleh and ensure that commanders and units do not start working with the Presidency Council and prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj until he and the Government of National Accord are approved by the HoR. Libya Herald

Liberia Says Latest Ebola Fatality Travelled to Guinea

A woman who died of Ebola this week in Liberia, months after it was declared Ebola-free, had travelled to Guinea with her three children, one of whom is also sick, the health ministry said on Sunday. The 30-year-old woman died of the deadly virus on Thursday while being transferred to hospital in the capital Monrovia, more than two months after the epidemic had been declared over in the country. George Sornor, the ministry’s communication’s officer, told AFP that the unidentified woman had crossed into Liberia from neighbouring Guinea, where a fresh Ebola outbreak has killed seven of the eight cases registered since mid March. Liberia had closed its borders with Guinea after news of the outbreak March 17 and had reopened them several days later until Friday, after the woman died. “The woman came from Guinea on the 21st of March when the borders were closed. We don’t know how she crossed,” Sornor said. News24

Sudan: SPLM-N Claims More Victories in South Kordofan and Blue Nile

The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) said its forces have defeated the government troops in Al-Azrag area in South Kordofan state. Fierce fighting is taking place in the Nuba Mountains area of South Kordofan since as the Sudanese government army launched a large-scale campaign on the rebel positions. The two sides issued daily statements on the development on military fronts indicating the intensification of the clashes. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Sunday, SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi said that fierce clashes are ongoing in Hiban, noting their forces destroyed a government tank and 11 mounted vehicles. He added that 100 government soldiers have been killed in the three-hour battle. The Sudanese army spokesperson was not reachable to comment on these claims. Also, an SPLM-N official said their fighters have shelled military positions inside South Kordofan capital, Kadougli using Katyusha rockets on Sunday morning, pointing they targeted sites where military command meetings are being held. Sudan Tribune

Up to 400,000 in Sudan May Need Food Aid

Around 400 000 people in Sudan could need food aid because of poor rains caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, a UN official told AFP on Sunday. El Nino saw rains in the 2015-2016 agricultural season drop significantly in parts of Sudan in comparison with the previous season. “We got down to a net number of about 400 000 individuals that will be in need of food assistance” because of the low rainfall in parts of Sudan, said Marco Cavalcante, head of programme for the UN’s World Food Programme in Sudan. Last month, the United Nations issued a plan to respond to the effects of El Nino in Sudan, in which it estimated that a total of some 3.5 million Sudanese would be affected by El Niño. … The areas worst affected by drought are in eastern Sudan, East Darfur and the centre of the Kordofan region, Cavalcante said. News24

South Sudan: More Than 370 Armed Opposition Forces Arrive in Juba: UN

t least 372 members of the armed opposition (SPLM-IO) forces out of the expected 1, 370, arrived Juba in the last week, the United Nations mission said. The soldiers will form part of the joint integrated unit to manage security in Juba ahead of the arrival of South Sudan’s first vice president designate Riek Machar, who was appointed in accordance with the peace agreement ending over two years of conflict. Machar insists he will only take up the post after Juba has been completely demilitarised. UN officials, however, said they expect the former in the South Sudan capital next week. “The remaining troops are likely to reach The capital next week, thus making it position to initiate the establishment of transitional government of national unity,” the UN said. Sudan Tribune

To Break or to Build: The Choice Now Facing Uganda’s Opposition

Last Thursday afternoon, in downtown Kampala, a crowd of a hundred boda-boda (motorbike taxi) drivers gathered for a victory parade. To the front of their bikes they attached posters of Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s long-time president, who was declared the winner of disputed elections in February. The Supreme Court had just announced that it would uphold his re-election, removing the last legal obstacle to Museveni being sworn in for a seventh time – and the boda-boda men were ready to celebrate. Or so it appeared. “I’m going to celebrate Museveni, but I like [Kizza] Besigye,” said one man, referring to the main opposition leader who officially garnered 35% of the presidential vote to the incumbent’s 61%. He had been offered a full tank of fuel to join the rally – enough, he reasoned, to masquerade as a Museveni supporter for a couple of hours. So it was with the election, say the opposition: a “sham”, greased with bribes, scented with tear gas, and sealed with outright vote-rigging. Besigye has described the process as a “creeping military coup”; his supporters call him the People’s President, the real winner. There is some truth in that, and some exaggeration too: Museveni retains genuine support, and nobody knows what the outcome of a free and fair election would be. But Besigye’s rhetoric and passionate following frighten the regime. He was held under house arrest for 43 days after voting (police finally left his home on Friday) amid heavy security deployment nationwide. African Arguments

‘Culture of Impunity’ at UN over CAR Abuse Cases: Rights Organization

A human rights group says it has no hope the UN will address the sex abuses allegedly committed by UN peacekeepers in CAR. The Code Blue campaign calls on the international community to set up an independent tribunal. The United Nations said more than 100 girls and women had come forward with new sexual abuse accusations against international peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the alleged victims of sexual abuse had been interviewed by a UN team in Kemo prefecture, east of the capital Bangui, and the majority of them were minors. AIDS-Free World, a US-based organization which first reported the new allegations, said some abuses were committed as recently as last month (March). The advocacy group also said at least three girls had reported that they had been taken to a French military camp, tied up, undressed and forced by a commander to have sex with a dog. The organization’s co-director, Paula Donovan, told DW in an interview that the international community should set up a special tribunal to deal with such abuses. DW

Kenya Garissa Attack: Memorials for Victims One Year On

People across Kenya have marked the first anniversary of the massacre of 148 people at Garissa University. Thousands gathered at the college on Saturday, with about 100 taking part in a run to commemorate the victims. Later, prayers and candlelight vigils were held in Garissa, in the capital Nairobi and elsewhere, led by government officials. Four al-Shabab militants shot students in their dormitories before rounding up and killing dozens more. It was the deadliest attack in Kenya since al-Qaeda’s bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi in 1998, which killed 213 people. Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab, which is based in neighbouring Somalia, has carried out a number of attacks against Kenyan targets. The group says it is retaliating for acts by Kenya’s security forces, which are part of the African Union’s mission in Somalia against al-Shabab. BBC

South African Parliament to Debate Zuma Impeachment Motion on Tuesday

South Africa’s parliament will debate on Tuesday a motion to impeach President Jacob Zuma, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said, after a top court ruled the president had violated the constitution. South Africa’s constitutional court ruled on Thursday that Zuma had failed to uphold the constitution by ignoring orders from the public protector that he repay some of the $16 million in state funds spent to renovate his private residence at Nkandla. Since Thursday’s ruling, opposition party leaders, ordinary South Africans and even an anti-apartheid activist jailed alongside Nelson Mandela have called on Zuma to step down. Mmusi Maimane, leader of the opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA), tabled the motion to have Zuma impeached, and Mbete told reporters on Sunday “the debate on that motion has been scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.” The Africa National Congress majority in parliament will almost certainly give Zuma political cover against the attempt to impeach him. But the judicial rebuke may embolden anti-Zuma factions within the ruling party to mount a challenge. Reuters

Important Lessons for Africa as Strong Institutions Win Out over a Strong Man

The executive announces on prime-time TV that it will comply with an adverse ruling from the judiciary. The president apologises for a scandal over the use of public money on his private home, and says he will pay back the personal benefits gained. His reassurance to voters, to the legal profession and to market rating agencies, confirms that the country he runs is a robust democracy. His actions affirm the memorable words of US President Barack Obama in his address to the Ghanaian Parliament: “Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions.” These events in South Africa last week, when President Jacob Zuma addressed the nation to say that he accepted a damning Constitutional Court judgment against him, stand in strong contrast to the actions of other leaders on the continent. The Conversation