Media Review for April 8, 2016

U.S. Criticizes Congo Republic’s `Flawed’ Presidential Election
The U.S. said it was “profoundly disappointed” by what it called the flawed electoral process in the Republic of Congo that extended President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s 18-year rule. “Widespread irregularities and the arrests of opposition supporters following the elections marred an otherwise peaceful vote,” the State Department said in a statement. It urged Congo’s government “to correct these numerous deficiencies before scheduling legislative elections.” Nguesso easily won March’s elections in the Central African oil-producing nation. His candidacy was contested by the opposition, which led protests against a referendum last year that allowed him to change the constitution and run again. The U.S. also expressed concern for the welfare of thousands of Congolese who fled their homes after gunfire and explosions in the capital earlier this week. Congo’s government said at least 17 people died as gunmen opened fire on police stations and checkpoints in Brazzaville. It accused former militia member of orchestrating the attack. Bloomberg

Congo Ex-rebel Leader Sacked
Congo’s President Denis Sassou Nguesso has sacked a former rebel leader and clergyman from a junior post in the presidency over suspicions that he spearheaded a deadly “terror attack” this week. The government said three security troops, two civilians and 12 assailants perished in Monday’s violence in the south of the capital Brazzaville. A statement said Frederic Bintsamou had been dismissed as a “delegate charged with promoting peace and healing the scars of war.” The government identified the attackers as members of the disbanded Ninja Nsiloulou militia. The Ninjas fought two civil wars in the 1990s and were headed by Protestant preacher Bintsamou, also known as Pastor Ntumi, who is called the Prophet by his admirers. News 24

Boko Haram Turns Female Captives Into Terrorists
Hold the bomb under your armpit to keep it steady, the women and girls were taught. Sever your enemy’s head from behind, to minimize struggling. “If you cut from the back of the neck, they die faster,” said Rahila Amos, a Nigerian grandmother describing the meticulous instruction she received from Boko Haram to become a suicide bomber. Of all the many horrors of Boko Haram’s rampage across West Africa — the attacks on mosques, churches and schools; the mass killings of civilians; the entire villages left in ashes after militants tear through — one of the most baffling has been its ability to turn captured women and girls into killers. Boko Haram, one of the world’s deadliest extremist groups, has used at least 105 women and girls in suicide attacks since June 2014, when a woman set off a bomb at an army barracks in Nigeria, according to The Long War Journal, which tracks terrorist activity. The New York Times

800 Boko Haram Militants Surrender to Nigerian Military, General Claims
At least 800 members of the Boko Haram terror group have reportedly surrendered to the Nigerian military in the last three weeks. Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, previously pledged allegiance to Isis. Since 2009, the insurgency has killed around 20,000 people and made 2.5 million homeless. They were also responsible for abducting around 270 schoolgirls from a school in Chibok in April 2014. According to a report from the Institute for Economics and Peace released towards the end of last year, Boko Haram overtook Isis in 2014 to become the deadliest terror group in the world. The Independent

Nigeria Boko Haram militants Offered Olive Branch by Army
Nigeria’s army says 800 militants from the Islamist Boko Haram group who have surrendered and shown remorse will be rehabilitated into society. They would be profiled, documented and offered training in new skills at several camps currently being set up, the army spokesman told the BBC. Until now militants who surrender have been held in jail awaiting trial. The army has been criticised in the past for its treatment of Boko Haram insurgents and suspects. Last June, Amnesty International said that 7,000 young men and boys had died in military detention in Nigeria since 2011. BBC

Number of ‘Islamic State’ Fighters has Doubled in Libya, According to US General
US Army General David Rodriguez, who heads Africa Command, said on Thursday that the self-declared “Islamic State” (IS) militant group has seen the number of its fighters double in the past year, reaching up to 6,000. The top commander of US forces in Africa said local militias have tried to curb the militant group’s presence, but political infighting has contributed to a security void across the country. “In Benghazi and Derna, (Libyan armed groups) have fought back against the ‘Islamic State’ and made it much tougher for them to operate, as well as in Sabratha,” Rodriguez said, referring to cities where the group’s presence is growing outside of its stronghold in Sirte. “They are contesting the growth of ISIS in several areas,” he added, calling the group by an alternative acronym.  Deutsche Welle

Libya Unity Government Bolsters Control
Libya’s new unity leaders worked to tighten their hold on Tripoli Thursday, taking over the website of a rival authority in the capital whose head is refusing to stand aside. A week after arriving by sea with a naval escort, the UN-backed unity cabinet appears to be winning the support of key institutions that control Libya’s wealth and, crucially, militias in the capital. But a call by Tripoli’s unrecognised prime minister Khalifa Ghweil on Wednesday for his ministers not to cede power, contradicting an earlier announcement, highlighted the still-chaotic situation. It was unclear how much influence Ghweil, an engineer from the port city of Misrata east of Tripoli, still wields in the largely tribal nation. News 24

Morocco’s Outlaw Country is the Heartland of Global Terrorism
The northern Rif mountains have been home to hash-peddlers, smugglers, and outlaws for centuries. Now they’re a breeding ground for Europe’s jihadi terrorists. In the weeks since terrorists struck the Belgian capital, authorities and journalists have wasted no time mapping out the links between the Brussels and Paris attacks — between Molenbeek, Schaerbeek, and the French banlieues, between a hideout location here, and a fingerprint found there. The lines connecting the complex web of kinship and friendship ties across national borders are starting to resemble a Jackson Pollock drip painting with a disturbing message: These are the squiggles and dots that can usher deadly terrorist plots from conception through to execution. Mapping out the form and content of Europe’s terrorist cells is certainly vital investigative work. But lost in all these lines connecting Europe’s gray urban landscapes are the sun-drenched hills, valleys, and towns of northern Morocco. And it is to Morocco that we must go, tracing links that go back generations to the colonial era, crossing the Mediterranean — a sea that binds, rather than divides, Europe and North Africa — to fully understand what has spurred young men to wreak havoc in Western European capitals. Foreign Policy

Tide Rises Against Zuma
A letter signed by about 40 former members of “Masupatsela” (young pioneers) – those who were born or raised in exile – was sent to ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe on Wednesday, calling for Zuma to go. The Jakes Gerwel Foundation yesterday added its voice to ” a dialogue aimed at the restoration of visionary cohesion and nation-building at this hour of need in South Africa”. Masupatsela said: ” We are extremely unsettled by [ Zuma’s] disingenuous and contradictory assertion that he had always been willing to pay for the non-security features at Nkandla.” The group said Zuma’s apology on Friday night was insufficient. It said: “The press conference that was held by our president after the judgment was handed down was also deeply unsettling as he extended no apology for the abuse of public funds for his personal benefit.” Times Live

S. Sudan Rebels Move into Capital; Risky Part of Peace Deal
Armed South Sudanese rebels have begun taking up positions in the capital, a risky but crucial step to end two years of war. The Associated Press and other journalists on Thursday toured one of the rebel camps where fighters dressed in green fatigues stood in semi-circle formation, chanting call-and-response war songs and waving their AK-47s in unison. More than 900 of the rebels have set up camp in two designated sites in Juba as part of a process to secure the city for the scheduled return on April 18 of their leader, Riek Machar. The fighters will eventually reintegrate into the army, rebel Gen. James Koang, who is overseeing the process, told the journalists. Some rebels told AP they expect to safely reunite with the troops they’ve battled the last two years. AP on ABC News

South Africa’s Commitment to AU/UN Mission in Sudan is Over
The South African commitment to peacekeeping in Sudan is officially over with 8 SA Infantry Battalion due to start a gradual withdrawal next Friday (April 15). There has been a South African military presence in the east African country since July 2004 under the Operation Cordite codename that started with the deployment of a handful of staff officers and observers to AMIS, the then African Union Mission in Sudan that was transformed into UNAMID, a hybrid African Union/United Nations mission. When AMIS was terminated at the end of 2007 to become the first hybrid AU/UN peacekeeping mission on the continent, South Africa was aboard and responded to a request to increase its commitment to a standard UN infantry battalion. Since then the South African military presence has been constant at around the 800 mark with various full-time force and Reserve Force units and regiments serving in the troubled east African country. DefenceWeb

UN Experts Report Cluster Bombs, Gold Smuggling in Darfur
United Nations sanctions monitors confirmed in their latest report the recent presence of cluster munitions in Sudan’s conflict-torn Darfur region in violation of a UN arms embargo while rebel groups earned cash from illicit gold mining. The UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on Darfur said it had evidence Sudan’s air force recently had RBK-500 cluster bombs at the weapon loading area at the Nyala Forward Operation Base. “Although Sudan is not a signatory to the Cluster Munition Convention, it has previously denied either possessing or using cluster munitions,” the panel said in its report, seen by Reuters on Tuesday. Cluster munitions explode in the air and scatter smaller “bomblets” over a huge area that detonate when stepped on or picked up. The panel’s sighting of cluster munitions supports the findings of the UN Mine Action Service that the Sudanese Air Force has used RBK-500 cluster bombs. Reuters on al Arabiya

Khartoum Sentences 22 South Sudanese to Death
An anti-terrorism court in Khartoum has sentenced 22 South Sudanese nationals to death and three others to life in prison on Wednesday for belonging to a militant group in Darfur. “The judge sentenced them to death by hanging on charges of terrorism, fighting the state, bearing arms against the state and undermining the constitutional order,” Mahjoub Dawoud, defense attorney, told Reuters. The defendants belong to the Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel group based in Darfur that took up arms against the Sudanese government in 2003, complaining that their region was being marginalised. The group, led by Bakhit Abdul Karim (Dabjo), signed a peace agreement with the Khartoum government in 2013. Shortly after the agreement, the group handed in its weapons to the government and in return the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, pardoned members of the group. Reuters

U.S. Condemns Release of Sudanese Who Masterminded Escape of USAID Killers
Embassy in Khartoum Thursday condemned the release of Qusai al-Jaili who organized the escape of four men sentenced to death for the murder of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) employees John Granville and Abdel Rahman Abbas Rahama on 2008. Last Tuesday, Sudan Tribune learnt that al-Jaili had received a presidential pardon for good behaviour and memorizing the Quran. Since the release of his accomplice Mubarak Mustafa in February 2013 he had been claiming equal treatment. ’’The United States notes with concern the April 5 early release of Qusai al-Jaili,’’ said the Embassy in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Thursday, pointing that fugitives and their associates have killed Granville, Rahama and a policeman who was shot dead during the escape. Sudan Tribune

The Great Escape: How Kenyatta and Ruto Beat the ICC
In late 2010, about three years after the brutal post-election violence in Kenya that had killed more than 1,400 people, the slow-moving wheels of justice finally kicked into gear. With the Kenyan government struggling to prosecute by itself, it asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to step in, and they came up with a list of six names. These were, in the prosecution’s assessment, the instigators of the violence. While they may not have pulled a trigger or hefted a machete themselves, they were supposed to have encouraged, organised and funded others to do so. What’s more, the prosecution was confident they had enough evidence and witnesses to put them away on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Daily Maverick

Uganda: US, EU Regime Change Agenda Failing – Govt
The government yesterday turned the heat on two of its key donors, the United States and the European Union, accusing them of backing attempts to cause regime change in Uganda using unconstitutional means. In a statement, Mr Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, said the government took “strong exception” to what it called “continued unfair criticism” of the February 18 presidential election by the government of the United States, with the latest salvo being delivered by US ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac. Mr Opondo was reacting to Ms Malac’s keynote address at a symposium on governance and peace held at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Wednesday, in which she said: “The social media shutdown, the detention of Opposition figures, harassment of media – all of these things combined with poor organisation of the election have weakened Uganda’s democracy and tarnished Uganda’s image as a strong democracy in a turbulent region.”  Daily Monitor

Hundreds of Migrants Arrive in Italy on Boat from Egypt
Italy’s coast guard said on Thursday it had rescued more than 300 migrants from a packed boat in which they had traveled hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Egypt to the Strait of Sicily. People fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East have been arriving in southern Italian waters for years, usually from Libya, where they pay smugglers for the passage. A spokeswoman for the Italian coast guard said migrants had arrived from Egypt in the past, but much less frequently than from Libya, which is about half as far away by boat. Italy’s coast guard and a Spanish aircraft working for European Union border agency Frontex went on Wednesday to the aid of the boat, rescuing 156 men, 51 women and 107 minors. Reuters

Egypt, France to Sign Arms Deal Mid-April
Egypt and France plan to sign agreements for the purchase of weapons that include fighter aircraft, navy vessels and a military satellite communication system worth €1 billion (US $1.1 billion) during the forthcoming visit of French President Francois Hollande to Cairo, according to French news site La Tribune. La Tribune reported that the deal, which is expected mid-April, will include the sale of four new navy vessels worth up to €400 million by French naval defense equipment manufacturer DCNS. Two GOWIND corvettes are reported to be part of the upcoming sale. In terms of the deal, Airbus and Finmeccanica group member Thales Alenia Space will jointly supply the Egyptian defense force with a military satellite communication system worth €600 million. DefenseNews

After Summoning French Envoy, Algeria Warns over ‘Red Line’
Algeria accused France on Thursday of crossing a “red line” after French newspaper Le Monde published a front-page picture of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika among leaders it said were named in the Panama Papers leaks. The leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm have put the offshore wealth of politicians and public figures under worldwide scrutiny. Just days before a visit by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Algeria summoned the French ambassador on Wednesday to complain that French media reports on the issue were a “malicious campaign”. Valls starts a two-day visit to Algiers on Saturday to discuss trade ties and investment opportunities. Algeria, an OPEC member, is seeking to diversify its economy away from oil and gas. Reuters

Illicit Financial Flows and Africa’s Path to Development
When African Union (AU) Commission Chairwoman Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma was asked about the Panama Papers, which detail how the wealthy exploit offshore tax regimes, she was unequivocal: big corporates that are guilty of corruption and tax evasion must be targeted and return their ill-gotten gains to Africa. It sounded great. “Why aren’t you talking to the people who are holding the illicit flows to repatriate them back to our continent?” she asked at the Conference of Ministers, a joint AU and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) meeting held in Addis Ababa on Tuesday. “Everyone talks about corruption but when we say let those corrupt resources that were brought to your continent illegally be sent back to our continent we don’t see any movement there and I think that’s where now the debate must be taken.” And that’s where the conversation must go. Action, however, will be harder to achieve. Daily Maverick

‘Shame on You, I am Not Dying’, Mugabe Tells Potential Successors
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Thursday accused potential successors for wishing him dead and told ruling ZANU-PF supporters to unite against foreign enemies he said wanted to destroy the Southern African nation. Africa’s oldest leader at 92 years, Mugabe has held power since independence from Britain in 1980 and says his heir must be chosen democratically and that his wife will not automatically inherit the role. Mugabe told a meeting of about 10,000 veterans of Zimbabwe’s 1970s independence war that his frequent trips to Malaysia and Singapore had fed newspaper reports that he was ill and sometimes dying, stoking succession fights in ZANU-PF. “You then see a stampede now, they will be saying the president is dying. ‘I am not dying, shame on you’,” Mugabe said during the first ever such meeting with the veterans.

Burundi to Sign Agreement With AU Over Human Rights Concerns
Burundi is to sign a memorandum of understanding with African Union officials following concerns the government is violating citizens’ rights. Burundi Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe denied accusations that his government uses state security agencies, as well as supporters, to violate the rights of opponents. He says the administration in Bujumbura is cooperating with African Union (AU) officials, who are currently in the country to investigate allegations of abuse. The government is committed to protecting the rights of citizens regardless of their political affiliation, Nyamitwe says. “I, again, don’t understand that while we are using the language of openness, others are in the business of blackmailing the government, calling the government names, which I believe is not going in the right direction,” he said. “Now as far as we are concerned, it is up to the AU monitors through the AU military experts to tell their part of the story. But as far as we are concerned, we have done our best.”  VOA

AU Readmits Central African Republic
The African Union has readmitted the Central African Republic, ending a three-year suspension following a coup that sparked the country’s worst sectarian blood letting. The AU’s Peace and Security Council late on Wednesday hailed “positive developments” in Central Africa, including landmark presidential elections in February to turn the page on three years of violence that killed thousands. It also lauded the country for “successfully holding” the elections, which passed off without violence despite widespread fears of unrest. “In view of the successful completion of the transition process and the restoration of normal constitutional order”, the AU decided “to lift the suspension”, a statement said. News 24

Magufuli’s Rwanda Trip Sets Stage for New Order in East Africa
The arrival of Tanzania President John Magufuli in Rwanda on Wednesday for a two-day official visit marked a special moment for East Africa. First, it signified thawing relations between Dar es Salaam and Kigali after years of feuds following a fallout between Dr Magufuli’s predecessor Jakaya Kikwete and President Paul Kagame over claims that Tanzania favoured the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Rwanda believes FDLR played an active role in the 1994 genocide on its soil that claimed the lives of more than a million people. Significantly Dr Magufuli is Thursday scheduled to officiate at an event to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the genocide that drew global attention to the tiny east Africa nation, symbolising a truce over the genocide claims. “Rwanda extends a special welcome to His Excellency John Magufuli, President of the sister nation of Tanzania! Karibu sana mheshimiwa rais,” Rwanda Foreign Affairs minister Louise Mushikiwabo said on Wednesday.  The East African

Japan’s Africa Ambitions
Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hosted Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for an official five-day visit in Tokyo. Abe has now met Mugabe three times, despite Harare’s isolation from the West – and, more acutely to Japan – especially the United States. Zimbabwe remains under a number of sanctions from the US and some European countries, which have repeatedly called out Zimbabwe for its record on human rights issues. The hosting of Mugabe reveals the duelling pressures that face Japan as it looks to engage more states in Africa while still maintaining its image as a democratic state that promotes a rules-based order. Al Jazeera

Non-communicable Diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa: Uganda’s ‘Only Radiotherapy Machine Breaks Down’
Cancer patients receiving radiotherapy treatment at Mulago hospital may have to wait until next year when the new cobalt 60 radiation machine will be installed, after the old one broke down three weeks ago. According to Dr Jackson Orem, the director of Cancer Institute at Mulago hospital, it may be difficult to repair the radiotherapy machine, procured in 1995, to render efficient results. “The machine is already too old. We shall try fixing it but even when we succeed, it will be dangerous for us to use it because we are dealing with radiation which can cause severe side effects to the patients,” Dr Orem said. He said those patients who strictly need radiotherapy to destroy the cancerous cells, can only be referred abroad at the moment. Only those who need palliative care will be put on morphine drugs as an alternative. Daily Monitor



Photo: Adam Jones