Media Review for August 10, 2015

Gunmen Launch Deadly Attack on Villagers in Northern Mali
Gunmen killed 10 civilians in an attack on the village of Gaberi in northern Mali, army spokesman Souleymane Maiga said on Sunday, a day after a deadly siege by suspected Islamist gunmen at a hotel northeast of the capital. The attacks are the latest sign of insecurity in the West African country where the United Nations has brokered a tenuous peace deal between Tuareg separatists and the government. At the same time, remnants of an Islamist insurgency linked to al Qaeda and new Islamist militant groups are apparently mounting a growing campaign against the United Nations mission (MINUSMA) and Malian military targets. France 24

Mali siege: Soldiers Free Hostages at Hotel; 12 Reported Dead
Twelve people — including five Malian soldiers — died as a result of a hostage situation and ensuing battle between the attackers and soldiers at a Mali hotel, Malian state-run broadcaster ORTM reported Saturday. Five foreigners have been evacuated from the hotel in Sevare, in central Mali, the broadcaster said. Earlier, a spokesman for Mali’s President told CNN that officials believed the dead included five soldiers, four attackers and three civilians, but that the toll had yet to be confirmed. Army spokesman Col. Souleymane Maiga said at least one foreigner had been killed, among other casualties, but did not specify the foreigner’s nationality. CNN

Attack in Central Mali Sign of Spreading Extremist Violence
The first attack by Islamic extremists in a central Mali town, in which 10 people died, shows that jihadist aggressions are spreading in the country and hitting more directly at the government military and the U.N. peacekeeping force, an expert said Saturday. Three of the attackers also were killed, and seven suspected militants were detained, the government said. Four U.N. employees were rescued. Additional U.N. personnel may still be missing, said a U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because of lack of authorization to speak to the press. AP on Yahoo News

Change in Militant Tactics Puts Tunisians on Edge
A dozen police officers, one with an assault rifle across his knees, guard the presidential mausoleum in this seaside resort, easily outnumbering the foreign visitors on a recent morning. It was here, the hometown of Tunisia’s first president, Habib Bourguiba, that a teenager once tried to blow himself up amid a group of tourists. The attack failed — his bomb did not explode and a tour guide tripped up the would-be bomber as he tried to escape — but it was only by luck that disaster was averted. That was two years ago. More recently, despite ample warnings, Tunisia has had less luck in the face of a growing terrorist threat. Gunmen trained in Libya and linked to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda killed 22 people at a national museum in the heart of Tunis, the capital, in March and 38 tourists along a beach in the nearby town of Sousse in June. The New York Times

Top Burundi General’s ‘killers’ Held
Burundi’s prosecutor on Sunday said the killers of a powerful general loyal to President Pierre Nkurunziza had been identified, while a rights activist shot in a “reprisal” attack for his murder was allowed to leave the country. General Adolphe Nshimirimana, widely seen as Burundi’s de-facto internal security chief, was killed in a rocket attack on August 2. He was a close aide to Nkurunziza, whose election for a controversial third term has fuelled violence resulting in about a hundred deaths, a crackdown on protests and an exodus of citizens fleeing the country. AFO on Yahoo News

US Envoy Warns Burundi Attacks Risk a New Cycle of Violence
The United States’ U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power warned Friday that “horrible attacks” on both sides in Burundi risk creating “a cycle of violence and a spiral of violence.” The capital Bujumbura has been hit by violence since April when the ruling party announced that President Pierre Nkurunziza would seek re-election for a third term. Nkurunziza was re-elected last month in elections widely condemned as unfair. Tensions escalated following Sunday’s assassination of a top military general, Adolphe Nshimirimana, and Monday’s attempted assassination of a top human rights activist, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, who had spoken out against a third term for the president. Power urged the government and opposition to participate in internationally mediated talks to come up with political arrangements “that will calm tempers, allow civil society and independent media to be reconstituted, and to operate freely in the country.” AP on ABC News

Rwandan UN Peacekeeper Kills Four Colleagues in CAR
A Rwandan UN peacekeeper in the Central African Republic has shot dead four of his colleagues and wounded eight others at their base before being gunned down himself, military sources have said. The UN said it was opening an investigation into the killings which it called the worst such incident to hit the peacekeeping mission in the country since it was deployed in September 2014. Al Jazeera

Libya’s War on Isis: How the West Had a Hand in the Country’s Descent from Euphoria into Chaos
It was Ali Zeidan’s first official visit to Washington and the then-Prime Minister of Libya had an urgent request: help us build a new military force, he implored American officials, that can solidify a fledgling government’s legitimacy and buy us time to get our country back on track. Back home, things were going badly. Just two years after the overthrow of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the country was awash with heavy weapons. Militias, reluctant to give up power, had begun to turn their guns on one another. A separatist movement was gaining traction in the country’s east. And a year earlier, in 2012, Islamist militants had killed the US ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi. “We would like an alliance against terrorism,” Mr Zeidan told President Obama and other world leaders as he made his case. The Independent

Nigeria to Step Up Local Arms Manufacture in Boko Haram Fight
Nigeria said Friday it would step up domestic arms manufacture for the military to cut its reliance on foreign weaponry in its fight with Boko Haram Islamists. President Muhammadu Buhari instructed the Defence Ministry to create “a modest military industrial complex for the local production of weapons to meet some of the requirements of the country’s armed forces”, his office said in a statement. Buhari told a graduation ceremony of the National Defence College in the capital Abuja that Nigeria’s over-dependence on other countries for military equipment and logistics was “unacceptable”, the statement said. AFP on Yahoo News

Could a Long-term Solution to Boko Haram Come From the World Bank?
When it comes to the fight against Boko Haram, Nigeria’s new president Muhammadu Buhari has been busy. He has finally got the Multinational Joint Task Force up and running, which combines troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria into one regional force: a necessary weapon against what has always been a regional rather than national problem. He has worked to repair frayed relations with regional leaders like Idriss Déby of Chad and, more recently, Cameroon’s Paul Biya. His visit to Cameroon in July culminated in an agreement to allow troops from both countries to engage in ‘hot pursuit’ across borders, which will make it harder for militants to skip across national boundaries to evade capture. ISS

Nigerian Pirates Kill ‘four Soldiers and a Policeman’
Suspected pirates killed four soldiers and a policeman in an attack on a military base in Nembe town in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta, a police spokesman said Saturday. “Four speedboats loaded with unknown gunmen, suspected to be sea pirates, attacked the Joint Task Force (JTF) base at Nembe Water front,” spokesman Asinim Butswat said of the assault, which occurred on Friday. “They killed four soldiers and one policeman. The gunmen carted away two HP (high power) guns and other arms from the base,” he said. AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria’s Buhari Shakes Up State Payments System in Anti-graft Drive
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered ministries to use only approved government bank accounts to make payments, the vice president’s office said on Sunday, part of a drive to improve transparency and clamp down on corruption. Buhari, who took office in May after being elected on promises to fight endemic graft in Africa’s biggest economy, has said he believes officials have stolen around $150 billion from the public purse over the past decade. Under the new system, all receipts due to the government or any of its agencies must be paid into accounts maintained by the central bank unless specific permission has been granted not to do so. Reuters

Congolese See No End to President’s Final Term
To take the political pulse of this sprawling, mineral-rich country, head to the busiest stretch of Lumumba Boulevard, one of the capital’s main roads. On weekdays, a large crowd gathers here to peer at the newspapers posted on an eight-foot-high wall and loudly trade opinions on the news of the day. Recently, the shouting has been about President Joseph Kabila’s plan to carve the country’s 11 provinces into 26, which many Congolese see as a ploy to delay the coming presidential election and allow Mr. Kabila to “slide,” as people here say, into a third term. “We already know these are political maneuvers,” said Theo Balsomi, an unemployed college graduate, as he jostled with others to get a look at the newspapers on a recent afternoon. “Knowing the reality of our country, we have lived through many regimes. We won’t allow Mr. Kabila to slide for even a second. The whole population would oppose that.” The New York Times

Ivory Coast Opposition Party to Boycott Election
The opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) is boycotting the upcoming October 25 presidential election, because it says the prevailing political and security conditions are not conducive for a peaceful, transparent and credible poll. Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo’s party is also split, according to FPI spokesman Boubakar Kone, who is rejecting reports Pascal Affi N’Guessan would lead the party into the election. Kone says N’Guessan was disqualified from leading the party in the poll at an April meeting, “Mr. N’Guessan is no longer part of the FPI, so he cannot be our candidate.” “We haven’t decided yet to participate in the election for many reasons,” Kone added. “The first one is that the gentleman who is our current president is not eligible. He needs to needs to withdraw his candidacy. The second thing we have to say is that the conditions are not good for a fair election in Côte d’Ivoire.” VOA

Report: LRA Smaller, Still Active
A new report says efforts to combat LRA rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and elsewhere have made significant progress since 2010. Released by the Washington-based Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative, the report [PDF] also warns that rebels are still trafficking illicit ivory and diamonds and continue to find safe havens. What’s more, indicted war crimes leader Joseph Kony remains free. Five years ago, President Barack Obama signed the Lord’s Resistance Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. It led the administration to announce a strategy to end the rebels’ long reign of killings, abductions and looting. The AU and U.N. also launched anti-LRA initiatives. VOA

Prominent Hard-line Islamist Dies in Egyptian Prison
An Egyptian security official says a leading member of the hard-line group Gamaa Islamiya has died in prison. Interior Ministry official Major General Hassan el-Sohagi said on Sunday that Essam Derbala died of natural causes. A statement from Gamaa Islamiya’s political party accused Egyptian authorities of “assassination”. It said authorities intentionally deprived Derbala of medicine and subjected him to psychological torture. The statement called for responsible officials to be prosecuted. Derbala was arrested earlier this year and accused of inciting violence. News 24

Without a Soft Landing For Kiir, The Igad-Plus Peace Proposal is Doomed
In the past 20 months, South Sudan has swung between hope and horror. The government of South Sudan, under President Salva Kiir Mayardit, blames fighting on an unbridled power-grab through a failed coup attempt by his erstwhile deputy turned foe, Dr Riek Machar. For the opposition under Dr Machar, the conflict is due to failure of leadership by President Kiir. These opposing narratives cloud the search for a durable negotiated settlement. Any peace proposal must address these primary non-negotiable imperatives or risk failure. This has been the persistent, fatal flaw of the numerous peace proposals by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) under the auspices of the African Union since early 2014, and the current peace proposal by Igad-Plus Five, which the two camps are expected to sign before August 17. Is the Igad-Plus Five Peace Agreement really workable, enforceable and viable if not enduring and comprehensive? The East African

Five Men Charged With Murder Of 200 Migrants Drowned in The Med
Five men have been charged with multiple counts of murder by Italian authorities after survivors named them as the traffickers in charge of a vessel that capsized in the Mediterranean, killing an estimated 200 people. According to witness accounts gathered by police, the suspected traffickers – two Libyans, two Algerians and a Tunisian aged 21 to 24 – threatened the migrants on board with knives and beat them with belts to control them. About 100 African migrants now presumed dead were allegedly held in the hull of the doomed boat, survivors told police. The traffickers allegedly said those passengers, who had paid less for their crossing than others, could be kept there for three days. When the hull started filling with water, the traffickers beat them back and ordered other passengers to sit on the hatch of the hull to stop them getting out. The Guardian

France Opens Bribery Investigation into Gabonese Official
France is investigating Gabon president Ali Bongo’s chief of staff on suspicion of taking a bribe to help secure a contract, a judicial source said on Saturday. French police had detained Maixent Accrombessi for questioning last Monday, a move sharply condemned by Gabon, but released him after finding that he had diplomatic immunity. Accrombessi is suspected of accepting a bribe from Marck, a French firm that makes military uniforms, in connection with Gabon’s award of a contract to Marck at the end of 2005, the source said. The Guardian

‘Unburnable Carbon’: Africa has Hit Big Oil and Gas Recently but, Alas, it May Have to Remain in the Ground
US President Barack Obama’s announcement a week ago of a far-reaching plan to limit carbon pollution from US power plants has been hailed as the clearest step to the commitment to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This is the temperature point beyond which irreversible damage to the earth becomes inevitable – think super droughts, massive floods and mass extinctions. The Clean Power Plan establishes the first-ever national standards for US power plants to limit carbon pollution, aiming to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 32% from 2005 levels by 2030. Mail and Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones