Media Review for August 18, 2015

South Sudan’s President Lets Deadline for Signing a Peace Deal Pass
Bucking the threat of international sanctions, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, refused to sign a peace deal to halt the nation’s civil war on Monday, the deadline for a final accord mediated by African leaders. “If it is signed today and then tomorrow we go back to war, then what have we achieved?” Mr. Kiir was quoted as saying in a Twitter message posted by the South Sudanese government’s account. South Sudan, which became the world’s newest nation four years ago to great fanfare, fell into a devastating civil war about 18 months ago. Thousands have died, more than 1.5 million people have fled their homes and nearly half the population is at risk of going hungry. The New York Times

South Sudan’s Kiir Demands More Time, as Machar Signs Final Peace Agreement
South Sudanese rebel leader, Riek Machar signed the long-awaited final peace agreement to end the 20-month long civil war in the youngest world’s nation on Monday. but president Salva Kiir declined to sign the deal, requesting for more time to consult with his political and military officials back in the capital, Juba. At the same event, the recently reinstated secretary-general of the ruling Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum, signed the peace agreement on behalf of the former detainees, despite reservations from ruling party chairman on the same deal. As former vice-president, Machar and Amum signed the deal, the South Sudanese leader witnessed the signing ceremony and initialled his signature on the agreement as a witness. Sudan Tribune

South Sudanese Rebels: President Opposes Power Sharing
A South Sudanese rebel spokesman said President Salva Kiir refused to sign Monday’s peace deal aimed at ending the country’s 20-month civil war because he is afraid of power sharing. According to mediators at the talks, Kiir did not sign the agreement and asked for 15 days to consult with his constituencies. The decision is seen as the latest blow to peace talks sponsored by the East African bloc IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, as well as several other countries, including the United States and China. VOA

US Warns South Sudan Leader Over Refusal to Sign Peace Deal
The United States urged South Sudan’s president Monday to sign a peace deal with rebels within two weeks to end 20 months of brutal civil war. While rebel chief Riek Machar signed the accord, President Salva Kiir and his government did not, with a mediator saying they had “certain reservations” and would return within 15 days after consultations. “The United States deeply regrets that the government of South Sudan chose not to sign an agreement that was supported by all of the states in the IGAD plus the troika – the United States, United Kingdom and Norway, China, the African Union and the United Nations today,” said US State Department spo0kesperson John Kirby. News 24

Machar Accuses Uganda of Altering Sudan Peace Terms
The leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement -In Opposition (SPLM-IO) , Dr Riek Machar, has expressed concern that proposals in an agreement to be discussed at the peace talks with President Salva Kiir have been “hijacked” in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. In an interview with Voice of Ameria news website last Thursday, Dr Machar blamed Ugandan President Museveni and Mr Kiir for changing the text of proposals previously agreed to by both parties, ahead of the resumption of the peace talks. Dr Machar says he was informed about changes in the proposal by Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin, who is also a mediator of the peace negotiations. Dr Machar accuses President Museveni of teaming up with Mr Kiir to derail the peace negotiations. “There was a provision in the peace agreement that says the national capital shall be demilitarised. This has been changed. To us, this is a very critical issue; this is a deal breaker. Daily Monitor

Why are Ugandan Troops Fighting in South Sudan?
Monday is the deadline for the two sides in South Sudan’s civil war to sign a peace deal after a conflict which has caused thousands of deaths. On a recent visit to the region President Barack Obama warned President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar to reach an agreement or face sanctions. A major sticking point in negotiations has been the presence of Ugandan troops in the country, backing government forces. The BBC’s Catherine Byaruhanga has spent time with them in Bor, north of the capital Juba. BBC

The Boko Haram Mystery: Just Who is Leading Nigeria’s Jihadists?
Claims that Nigeria’s Boko Haram has been “decapitated” have been spectacularly rebuffed by the jihadists’ leader, yet his first broadcast in months may not see off an impending mutiny, say analysts.Abubakar Shekau released an eight-minute audio recording on Sunday — his first since March — denying claims by Chadian leader Idriss Deby that he had been replaced, and dismissing the president as a “hypocrite” and a “tyrant”. The tirade was a reaction to Deby telling reporters in N’Djamena last week that Boko Haram was no longer led by the fearsome Shekau and that his successor, whom he named as “Mahamat Daoud”, was open to talks with the government. AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria: ‘Five Million Cases Pending in Nigerian Courts’
Justice Fred Oho of Delta State High Court has revealed that there are over five million cases pending in Nigerian courts due to a ‘hugely cumbersome and overburdened legal system’. He made this revelation in a researched paper on ‘Religious Doctrines, The Courts and Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR)’ during a public lecture organised by Brotherhood Lawyers International Fellowship convention which has its headquarters in Calabar. He did not reckon that the strike by the Judiciary Workers Association of Nigeria which led to the closure of many courts in the country, particularly in Cross River State for nearly one year now had contributed to the huge number of pending cases. Daily Trust on allAfrica

A look at Egypt’s Sweeping New Anti-Terrorism Law
Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has approved a new draconian law that offers a sweeping definition of terrorism and sets harsh punishments, including heavy fines for journalists who don’t toe the government line. The government has said the law is necessary to combat a growing Islamic insurgency and help restore stability after years of unrest. But the new law has alarmed rights groups and even some senior politicians, raising fears of a return to the decades-long emergency rule of President Hosni Mubarak, ousted by a 2011 revolt largely driven by anger at police brutality. Here are some of the main points of the new anti-terrorism law, which includes 54 articles. AP

Libya RisksBecoming ‘Another Somalia’ Rome Warns
Italy warned Monday that Libya risked turning into “another Somalia” as it signed a joint statement with the US and several European allies condemning “barbaric” acts carried out by the Islamic State group there. Abubakar Shekau released an eight-minute audio recording on Sunday — his first since March — denying claims by Chadian leader Idriss Deby that he had been replaced, and dismissing the president as a “hypocrite” and a “tyrant”. The tirade was a reaction to Deby telling reporters in N’Djamena last week that Boko Haram was no longer led by the fearsome Shekau and that his successor, whom he named as “Mahamat Daoud”, was open to talks with the government. AFP on Yahoo News

US Sending Arms to Nigeria – Report
Facts that the US might start sending arms to Nigeria came on the heels of the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle’s revelation in an interview with one of our correspondents that the US government never placed arms embargo on Nigeria. “There’s been a lot of misunderstanding on this issue before, during and after President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Washington. Let me be clear about a couple of things. One, we had worked very closely with Nigeria on the Leahy Amendment….The second piece of misinformation, which has been bandied about in (newspapers’) headlines, is that the US has lifted its arms embargo on Nigeria. There was never an arms embargo,” Entwistle said. According to Radio France Internationale, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency records show that the country’s Department of Defence is set to transfer military material to Nigeria. The RFI noted that a DSCA list of “so-called Excess Defence Articles” slated for Nigeria indicated that the US Army was about to transfer Caiman trucks, armoured vehicles designed “to defeat current and emerging threats,” according to their manufacturer, British-based BAE Systems. The Punch

The Boko Haram mystery: Just Who is Leading Nigeria’s Jihadists?
Claims that Nigeria’s Boko Haram has been “decapitated” have been spectacularly rebuffed by the jihadists’ leader, yet his first broadcast in months may not see off an impending mutiny, say analysts.Abubakar Shekau released an eight-minute audio recording on Sunday — his first since March — denying claims by Chadian leader Idriss Deby that he had been replaced, and dismissing the president as a “hypocrite” and a “tyrant”. The tirade was a reaction to Deby telling reporters in N’Djamena last week that Boko Haram was no longer led by the fearsome Shekau and that his successor, whom he named as “Mahamat Daoud”, was open to talks with the government. Times Live

Egypt’s New Challenge: An ISIS Insurgency in Sinai (video)
Amid increased attacks by ISIS’s affiliates in Sinai, Egypt’s president has moved to enact tougher antiterrorism laws. The Wall Street Journal

Militia in Northern Mali Battles Tuaregs in Threat to Peace Talks
A pro-government militia in Mali said on Monday it had killed 20 separatists in three days of fighting that the U.N. peacekeeping mission said undermined efforts to pacify the northern region of the country. The fighting occurred as neighbouring Niger prepares to hold peace talks on Wednesday between the pro-government Platform group, which includes the Gatia militia, and the Tuareg-dominated Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA). The talks are aimed at restoring a peace agreement signed in June that the government had hoped would allow Mali’s army to focus on stamping out Islamist groups. “The fighting is over for now on all three fronts. CMA lost everywhere and sustained 20 dead. There was none on our side. All the deaths were for nothing,” Fahad Ag Almahamoud, Gatia’s Secretary General, told Reuters. Reuters

UN to Set Up ‘Security Zone’ in North Mali After Clashes
UN peacekeepers said they would establish a 20-kilometre “security zone” around the town of Kidal in restive northern Mali with effect from Tuesday following deadly clashes between a pro-government group and Tuareg rebels. The fighting erupted Monday at Agnefis, about 120 kilometres south of the strategic town of Kidal, “killing several people”, a regional security source said. The UN peacekeeping mission in Mali known as MINUSMA said in a statement it was a “blatant violation” of the recently agreed Mali peace deal known as the Algiers Accord. France 24

ISIS ‘Brutally’ Quells Rebellion in Libya’s Sirte
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) has brutally quelled a rebellion in the Libyan city of Sirte by citizens who took up arms to try to push back the armed group, residents have said. Witnesses said the group was now calling on residents to pledge allegiance over loudspeakers from its main mosque and desecrating bodies of their adversaries. Sources in the city told Al Jazeera on Monday that clashes broke out five days earlier between ISIS and armed residents in the city’s Number Three neighbourhood, before ISIS besieged it and began shelling it with heavy weaponry. News 24

Libya: ‘They Won’t Succeed in Untangling the Chaos’
As long as instability continues in Libya, the “Islamic State” will continue its advance, the German Middle East expert Michael Lüders predicts. Libya, he warns, is becoming a stronghold for extremist groups like IS. […] Military intervention is difficult in a state that – like Libya, Iraq and Syria – presents itself as failed, a state with various political and military parties and alliances that, to a certain extent, are forged anew from one day to the next. The Egyptian government planned to bring eastern Libya under its control – ostensibly to fight terrorism, but in all truth with the aim of becoming a power factor in oil-rich Libya. So far, however, Egypt has refrained from taking action. Deutsche Welle

Some Ethiopian Troops in Somalia not Under AU Mission
Some of the Ethiopian soldiers operating in Central Somalia’s Hiran region are not under the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) forces. Abdurahman Abdi Dhimbil, the Commander of Sector four of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) confirmed this at a media briefing on Monday. It was held in Beletweyne town, the headquarters of Amisom’s Sector 4, which is 335 km north of the Somali capital Mogadishu. Mr Dhimbil’s statement came after Ethiopian troops that seized five villages and settlements from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Shabaab left Hiran region. The withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops and the accompanying forces from Somali National Army (SNA) caused an uproar after Al-Shabaab militants returned to the vacated zones. The east African

Gabon President Says Giving Iinheritance to Country’s Youth
Gabon President Ali Bongo said late on Monday he would give “all his share of the inheritance” from his long-ruling father Omar Bongo Ondimba to “the Gabonese youth” in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of independence. “I’ve decided with the full agreement of my wife Sylvia Bongo Ondimba and my children that my share of the inheritance will be shared with all Gabonese youth because in my eyes we are all heirs of Omar Bongo Ondimba,” he said, after saying “no Gabonese must be left by the side of the road”. “All income from my part of the inheritance will be donated to a foundation for the youth and education,” he said. News 24

Botswana Leader Takes over SADC Chair
Botswana President Ian Khama on Monday accepted the chairmanship of Southern African Development Community (SADC) from his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe in the Botswana’s capital city, Gaborone. Mugabe handed over the SADC Chairperson’s Badge to Ian Khama during SADC’s annual Heads of State and Government Summit held on August 17 and 18 in Gaborone. The latter was reelected as the president of Botswana last October after his party – the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) – won majority of the parliament seats in the country’s 11th general elections. Born in 1953, Ian Khama is the elder son of Botswana’s founding president Seretse Khama. IOL News

Don’t Mess with Grace Mugabe – She Could be the Next President of Zimbabwe
For two decades, she was a demure companion at her husband’s side. Now she has taken the stage as a fearsome political figure in her own right. Can Grace Mugabe seize power before it’s too late? The Guardian

G.Bissau Marchers Demand Reinstatement of Sacked Premier
Some 1,000 people marched in the capital of Guinea Bissau on Monday calling for the restitution of the prime minister, who was sacked after a standoff by the west African country’s president. The marchers, including deposed premier Domingos Simoes Pereira himself, gathered outside the headquarters of the ruling PAIGC party in the centre of the capital Bissau. “With such a huge mobilisation… the institutions of the republic must respect the will of the people,” Pereira told the crowd. “You cannot arrest people who know where they are going,” he added, as supporters chanted “DSP! DSP!” in a reference to his initials. AFP on Yahoo News



Photo: Adam Jones