Media Review for August 17, 2015

Shekau Claims He is ’still in Charge’ Of Boko Haram
The leader of Nigeria’s Boko Haram denied he had been killed or ousted as chief of the jihadist group in an audio recording released Sunday attributed to him by security experts. In the eight-minute Hausa-language message, Abubakar Shekau rebuffed claims by Chadian leader Idriss Deby that he had been replaced and called the president a “hypocrite” and a “tyrant”. “It is indeed all over the global media of infidels that I am dead or that I am sick and incapacitated and have lost influence in the affairs of religion,” he said in the recording released on social media. France 24

Cameroon Pledges 2 450 Troops to Anti-Boko Haram Force
Cameroon’s president says his country will contribute 2 450 troops to a five-nation army to fight the Nigeria-based Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, nearly tripling his initial pledge. President Paul Biya announced the new troop total in a statement Friday night. At a meeting in Cameroon in February, Nigeria and a group of neighboring countries that also includes Chad, Niger and Benin agreed to deploy around 8 700 troops against Boko Haram, which became an affiliate of the Islamic State group earlier this year. Cameroon initially pledged to contribute 750 troops. Biya said on Friday the increase followed recommendations from a June summit meeting of regional leaders. News 24

Nigeria: Air Force Commences Fresh Air Strike over Sambisa Forest
The Nigerian Military, in its resolution to incapacitate and further degrade the fighting spirit of Boko Haram Terrorist Group, has carried out several bombings and air strike missions in Sambisa Forest, the spokesperson for the Nigerian Air Force, Dele Alonge, has said. The strike missions, said Mr. Alonge, an air commodore, came after several weeks of tactical reconnaissance by the reconnaissance/ surveillance aircraft. The air strikes carried out by F-7NI and Alpha Jet fighter aircraft, as well as attack helicopters has resulted in the degradation of the terrorists capabilities and destruction of some of their strong holds, the spokesperson said. Premium Times on allAfrica

Boko Haram and the Media
Fraught with logistic and security concerns journalists have struggled to report on Boko Haram’s insurgency in northern Nigeria. Since 2009, around 17,000 people have been killed as the armed group battles the central government. Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses, but with a deteriorating security situation – journalists have struggled to speak to the victims and file stories directly from the ground. And as most of the region’s telecom infrastructure has been destroyed, journalists have had a limited choice as to where to get their information: Boko Haram’s propaganda machine or official press releases from the government. Al JAzeera

Nigeria: APC Accuses Jonathan, Appointees of Looting at Least N11.11trillion, Says They Must Face the Law
The ruling All Progressives Congress has accused the past administration led by Goodluck Jonathan of looting at least N11.11 trillion (or $55.68 billion at N199.5 to a dollar) of public funds while in office. In a statement Sunday, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Lai Mohammed, said, the rate at which public funds were stolen during the last regime was too “massive”, “spine-chilling” and “mind-boggling” to ignore. The party listed the funds unaccounted for by the regime to include: – 3.8 trillion Naira out of the 8.1 trillion Naira earned from crude oil (2012-2015) withheld by NNPC. Premium Times on allAfrica

Ex-army Chief Col Jean Bikomagu Shot Dead in Burundi
The former head of Burundi’s army has been shot dead outside his home in the capital Bujumbura. Col Jean Bikomagu, who led the armed forces during the country’s civil war, was gunned down as he drove through the gates of his house. His daughter was badly injured in the attack, a family member told AFP. It is the latest in a wave of killings across Burundi, since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for – and won – a third term of office. The civil war was fought along ethnic lines with mostly Hutu rebels fighting against the politically dominant Tutsi minority. BBC

AU: Burundi Crisis a ‘Catastrophic Risk’ for Region
The African Union has warned that the political crisis in Burundi could have catastrophic consequences for the country and the surrounding region. The statement, by AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, comes a day after the killing of former military chief Jean Bikomagu. Unidentified gunmen killed Bikomagu outside of his home in the capital, Bujumbura. The death follows the recent assassination of the president’s security advisor Adolphe Nshimirimana. VOA

President Obama Eyes African Legacy
As President Obama finished his speech to the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa last month and stepped off the stage, a tempest whipped up outside. The trees swayed, the rain battered the domed roof of the headquarters building and, given the lecture he’d just delivered to African leaders from their own pulpit, it might well have been the ghosts of dictators past rattling the rafters. He talked about democracy and the “cancer of corruption,” but the words which reverberated across the continent were an off-script put-down of leaders who “refuse to step aside when their terms end”. BBC

IS Beheads 12 Libyans in Battle for Sirte
Islamic State has beheaded 12 people and hung them on crosses during a battle for the coastal city of Sirte, news reports said. Sources said the 12 people beheaded were local gunmen who had been battling IS in eastern Sirte district known as “neighbourhood three”. IS militants also executed 22 other Sirte residents who had taken up arms against the group and later set the hospital on fire in which the injured were admitted. The fight over Sirte has been raging since Tuesday, with one Libyan diplomat warning of a “massacre” in the city. Authorities in Tripoli, 450 kms from Sirte, said warplanes were bombing armed groups linked to IS in Sirte. The Libyan ambassador said the fighting erupted after IS assassinated an influential imam from the Al-Farjan tribe. AFP on Times of India

Libya Govt Calls for Arab Airstrikes Against ISIS
Libya’s internationally recognised government appealed to Arab countries to carry out airstrikes against the local Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate, which is expanding its hold on the coastal city of Sirte. The statement late on Saturday came after the ISIS affiliate seized control of a new neighbourhood in Sirte. The militants shelled the area, killed a senior cleric and hung the bodies of prisoners over bridges. “The Libyan government, unable to ward off these terrorist groups because of the arms embargo, and out of its historic responsibility toward its people, calls on brotherly Arab countries … to launch airstrikes against specific targets of (ISIS) locations in Sirte in co-ordination with our concerned bodies,” the statement said. News 24

Libya’s Government Urges Arab Air Strikes Against Islamic State in Sirte
Libya’s internationally recognised government has asked fellow Arab states to conduct air strikes against Islamic State in the coastal city of Sirte, a cabinet statement said on Saturday. In the past few days, Islamic State has crushed a revolt by a Salafist Muslim group and armed residents trying to break its grip on the city. Dozens of people have been killed, according to residents. The fighting typifies chaos in Libya, where two rival governments and parliaments, together with an assortment of Islamists, tribesmen and armed groups, are battling for control of cities and regions, four years after the ousting of veteran leader Muammar Gaddafi. Reuters

Benghazi Case Focuses Attention on US Interrogation Strategy
After a suspected militant was captured last year to face charges for the deadly 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, he was brought to the U.S. aboard a Navy transport ship on a 13-day trip that his lawyers say could have taken 13 hours by plane. Ahmed Abu Khattala faced days of questioning aboard the USS New York from separate teams of American interrogators, part of a two-step process designed to obtain both national security intelligence and evidence usable in a criminal prosecution. The case, still in its early stages, is focusing attention on an interrogation strategy that the Obama administration has used in just a few recent terrorism investigations and prosecutions. Abu Khattala’s lawyers already have signaled a challenge to the process, setting the stage for a rare court clash over a tactic that has riled civil liberties groups but is seen by the government as a vital and appropriate tool in prosecuting suspected terrorists captured overseas. AP on Stars and Stripes

Notorious Extremist Said to Head Al-Qaida West Africa Branch
A militant group that has claimed responsibility for recent violence in Mali has rebranded itself as al-Qaida’s West Africa branch while reaffirming that it is led by the notorious extremist Moktar Belmoktar. The SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. monitoring outfit, said the latest statement from Belmoktar’s Mourabitoune organization was distributed on Twitter this week. Belmoktar, who is known for daring attacks and for kidnapping foreigners, has been reported killed numerous times, most recently in June. In May he rejected a pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State group made by a different member of his organization. AP on Stars and Stripes

Mali Armed Groups Clash Near Rebel Stronghold Kidal
Rival armed groups in northern Mali said on Saturday they briefly exchanged fire in the first apparent breach of a peace accord they signed with the government in June. An exchange of light and heavy weapons fire took place south of Kidal, the stronghold of secular Tuareg rebels leading a coalition known as the Coordination of Azawad Movements, or CMA. “Firing began at around 18h30 between the Platform and the CMA in the Amassine valley south of Kidal,” said a source within Gatia, the main pro-government militia within an alliance of groups called Platform. A CMA military source also confirmed the incident but said shooting had stopped by nightfall. Reuters

South Sudan South Sudan President Arrives for Last-ditch Peace Talks
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Adaba, on Sunday for peace talks with rebel leaders and regional presidents, in a reversal of an earlier decision not to attend because of a split in rebel forces. Before leaving the South Sudanese capital, Juba, Kiir warned, however, that it would not be possible to sign a lasting deal unless all opposition factions were included. “A peace that cannot be sustained cannot be signed,” Kiir said, but added that he felt “compelled” to join the talks. “Even if I am not happy, I must show my face because if I don’t go, negative forces will take me as the one against the peace that was going to be signed,” he said. Deutsche Welle

East African Leaders Meet as South Sudan Peace Deadline Looms
East African leaders met in Ethiopia on Sunday ahead of a deadline for South Sudan’s warring leaders to strike a peace deal or risk international sanctions. South Sudan’s government and rebels are under intense diplomatic pressure to sign a deal by August 17 to end a 20-month civil war in which tens of thousands of people have been killed. But South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has said he would not go to the talks and would send his deputy instead, after complaining it was not possible to strike an effective deal because rebel forces have split. AFP on Yahoo News

Split in Opposition Jeopardises Juba Peace Deal
The political crisis in South Sudan looked set to continue as it emerged that the warring parties will not meet the August 17 deadline to sign peace agreement. While the opposition is split over the proposed deal, the government has warned that it cannot be coerced into signing a document it does not fully agreed with. The government is also taking advantage of the split in the rebels and are also arguing that Dr Riek Machar no longer commands the loyalty of all the rebels and that they will wait till a substantive leadership emerges from the rebellion. “We will not sign a peace agreement unless Dr Machar puts his house in order. We understand that the splinter group is working on a new proposal. We will only negotiate with whoever emerges as the leader of the rebellion,” said South Sudan deputy ambassador to Kenya James Morgan. The East African

Trouble on the Horizon as Mutale Trains Youth to ‘handle’ Uganda’s Opposition
Uganda’s Major (Rtd) Roland Kaooza Mutale, a man with a history of election violence, is back in action with his first batch of cadres expected to pass out on August 20, raising fears of chaos in the run-up to next year’s polls. The EastAfrican witnessed the training of youth in a bush camp in Luwero district, 60 kilometres north of Kampala, and learnt that the retired soldier plans to build an anti-opposition force numbering thousands. Maj (Rtd) Mutale, officially designated as a special presidential adviser on political affairs, is mostly known for his past militia group, Kalangala Action Plan (KAP), founded in 2001, which was accused by the Opposition of torturing its supporters and interference in the electoral processes in the country, allegations that were quashed by court. The East African

ISS: West Africa Mobilises Against Maritime Insecurity
‘West Africa is on track to secure and take more advantage of its blue economy.’ These were the words of Baye Meissa Khoule, a captain in the Senegalese Navy and chairman of a group of West African experts who recently validated a priority action plan for the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) integrated maritime strategy (EIMS). On 27 and 28 July in Abuja, Nigeria, 30 delegates from the 15 ECOWAS member states carried out an in-depth examination of the regional maritime strategy, identifying 20 priority activities to be implemented between 2016 and 2020. These activities are not only limited to the framework of maritime security, but also extend to other key areas such as governance, economy, environment, education and research. ISS on DefenceWeb

Death Toll of Migrants Asphyxiated on Italy Boat ‘rises To 49′
The number of migrants asphyxiated in the hold of an overcrowded fishing boat off the Italian coast has climbed to 49, Italian media reported Sunday. Authorities made the grim discovery on Saturday when an Italian navy patrol boat was sent to the sinking vessel’s aid as it made the journey across the Mediterranean to Europe. At first around 40 people were thought to have died, but the number has been revised upwards to 49, according to reports citing authorities in the Sicilian port of Catania. AFP on Yahoo News

Head Of Ousted Central African Leader’s Party Arrested
The secretary general of the party of Francois Bozize, the ousted former president of the Central African Republic, was arrested Saturday as he was about to board a plane for Paris, a party source said. Bertin Bea was travelling to a funeral, a member of the National Convergence party (KNK) told AFP, requesting anonymity, adding that Bea’s passport was confiscated. A police source said an investigation had been opened following remarks Bea made in June “seen as inciting disorder”, without elaborating. On August 7, Bea announced that Bozize wanted to run for president in October but that “everything is being done to block the way.” AFP on Yahoo News

Sacked PM Renominated in New Twist to Guinea Bissau Row
The ruling party in Guinea Bissau has renominated Domingos Simoes Pereira as prime minister, three days after he was sacked by President Jose Mario Vaz, a leader of the PAIGC party told AFP Saturday. The west African country has been thrown into a constitutional crisis by the president’s decision to fire his prime minister over a series of disputes including the naming of a new army chief “We sent back Friday the proposal of our party concerning the future prime minister. It is the president of the party, Domingos Simoes Pereira,” said a party vice-president Adja Satu Camara, adding that if the country’s leader rejects the proposal, the party will purse all available options. AFP on Yahoo News

ECOWAS Warns Army to Stay Out of Guinea Bissau Crisis
West African nations on Sunday warned the army to stay out of Guinea Bissau’s consitutional crisis, saying only dialogue would end the standoff between its president and the premier he sacked. The coup-plagued country has been in political turmoil since President Jose Mario Vaz fired Domingos Simoes Pereira on Wednesday over a series of disputes including the naming of a new army chief. Senegal’s President Macky Sall, who heads ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States which groups 15 countries, appealed for talks between the two men to end weeks of tension. AFP on Yahoo News

Illicit Financial Flows to and From Africa
At the heart of the Burundi crisis is the issue of protecting the Arusha Accords, a political framework widely attributed with having brought Burundi out of its 1993–2005 civil war. Africa Center for Strategic Studies on YouTube

Angola Regime Rules in Brutal Apartheid Style, Says Activist
From beating women to unleashing dogs on protesters, Angola’s government runs the oil-rich nation with an apartheid-style iron fist, says maverick activist Rafael Marques de Morais. “Some of the methods the Angolan regime uses are reminiscent of what the apartheid regime used here in South Africa against the majority of the people,” Marques told AFP in an interview in Johannesburg. “It’s reminiscent of the old tactics the fascist Portuguese colonial regime used against the former colonial subjects,” added the outspoken 43-year-old, who was a guest speaker at the South African launch of a new book on Angola. AFP on Yahoo News

For French-Algerians and Algerian-French, No Place to Truly Call Home
The fishermen of Cap Falcon, a peaceful beach on Algeria’s western Mediterranean coast, swear they can see the Spanish mountaintops when the weather is clear. So tantalizingly close is Europe, the beach is a favorite launching point for the “harragas,” as illegal migrants are known here. The first rocks of Cabo de Gata, a part of Spain, are just 120 miles away — a trip that takes 18 hours with a 30-horsepower engine if all works smoothly. But the ultimate goal for Algerians is almost always France. “For us, Spain is just a stop; we leave it to Moroccans,” said Belaid Ouis, 40, who left Algeria 10 years ago but returned in June. “Our goal is to reach France, because of the language and the common history.” The New York Times