Media Review for August 26, 2015

Salva Kiir to Sign Peace Deal on Wednesday
The warring parties in South Sudan will on Wednesday take the first step towards peace after President Salva Kiir agreed to sign the peace deal in Juba. The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) secretariat in Djibouti has written to all partner states inviting them to the signing ceremony in Juba on Wednesday. The letter reminded the office of the Special Envoys for South Sudan to make arrangements for travelling documents for those government officials who will be attending. President Kiir had on August 17 declined to sign the peace deal proposed by regional leaders, asking for 15 days for consultations. The East African

UN Ready to Act Immediately if S Sudan Deal not Signed
The UN Security Council has warned that it is ready to “act immediately” if South Sudan’s president does not sign a peace deal with rebels this week. President Salva Kiir is scheduled to sign the power-sharing agreement in Juba on Wednesday, alongside the leaders of Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia. Council members “expressed their readiness to act immediately if President Kiir does not sign the agreement tomorrow as he has undertaken,” said Nigerian Ambassador Joy Ogwu, who chairs the council this month. South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar, a former vice president, met a deadline to sign the agreement on August 17. Al Jazeera

UN: China Arms Firm Sold $20M in Weapons to South Sudan
A U.N. panel of experts said that a major Chinese state-owned arms supplier sold more than $20 million of weapons to South Sudan’s government last year, several months into the country’s deadly internal conflict. The experts’ first-ever report, made public Tuesday, says China North Industries Corp., or Norinco, sold South Sudan’s government 100 anti-tank guided missile launchers, 1,200 missiles, about 2,400 grenade launchers, nearly 10,000 automatic rifles and 24 million rounds of various types of ammunition. The report also says South Sudan’s military has somehow obtained four attack helicopters since the start of the conflict. It had none before then. AP on Stars and Stripes

U.N. Report Details Flow of Foreign Weapons Into South Sudan
The South Sudan government spent $20 million last summer on weapons including machine guns and grenade launchers from China, while rebels procured ammunition made by their onetime rivals in neighboring Sudan, according to the United Nations, fueling a war in which villages have been razed and women reportedly raped. The Security Council, which is considering a draft resolution that would impose an arms embargo, threatened Tuesday to take unspecified “immediate action” if the president, Salva Kiir, failed to sign a peace accord Wednesday as he has promised. Judging by a report by a panel of experts that was released Tuesday, oil-rich South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, is already awash in weapons. Mr. Kiir’s forces, the panel found, also obtained Russian amphibious armored vehicles, capable of moving soldiers through flooded terrain during the rainy season, Israeli-made rifles and Mi-24 attack helicopters, made in the former Soviet Union. The New York Times

Hardliners Dominate New Burundi Government
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza unveiled his new cabinet on Tuesday, with the central African nation’s government dominated by hardliners and loyalists. The president won a highly controversial third term in elections in July — polls the United Nations say were not free or fair, and which sparked and attempted coup and months of civil unrest led by opposition groups who condemned his re-election bid as unconstitutional. There have also been a string of killings since his re-election, including of his top security chief, assassinated in a rocket attack last month. AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria: At Least Six Dead, Over 20 Injured As Suicide Bombers Strike in Yobe
At least eight persons have so far been confirmed killed in two separate suicide bomb attacks in Damaturu, the Yobe state capital. Over 20 others are injured, officials and witnesses said. One of the suicide attacks was at the entrance of the town’s major bus station. Sources in Damaturu said the first bomb blast was heard echoing in from the Pompomari axis of the city as a male suicide bomber, said to be in his mid 20s, suddenly exploded on the street. No one was affected, except himself. Shortly after the Pompomari bombing, another one occurred at the Damaturu Motor Park. Pemium Times on allAfrica

UN Chief Offers Support to Nigeria to Counter Boko Haram
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledged support on Monday for Nigeria’s efforts to counter Boko Haram and tackle the causes of militancy in the country’s northeast, where he described humanitarian conditions as particularly worrying. Ban also pledged to strengthen democracy in Nigeria after a peaceful election brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power in March. It was the first democratic transfer of power in Africa’s most populous nation. “I hope that this example will be emulated by many countries around the world … I want to commend the people of Nigeria on the peaceful, free and fair elections,” Ban said in Abuja after meeting Buhari. He said the two men discussed security and development issues “including the cause of troubling levels of violence and terror perpetuated by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria and beyond”. Reuters

Nigerians to Mark 500 Days Since Boko Haram Schoolgirl Abductions
Relatives of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram said they would hold a youth march and candle-lit vigil on Thursday to mark 500 days since the abductions. Boko Haram fighters stormed the Government Secondary School in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state on April 14 last year, seizing 276 girls who were preparing for end-of-year exams. Fifty-seven escaped but nothing has been heard of the remaining 219 since May last year, when about 100 of them appeared in a Boko Haram video dressed in Muslim attire and reciting the Koran. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has since said they have all converted to Islam and been “married off”. Al Arabiya

Nigerian Graft-Fighting Commission Accused of Corruption
The chairman of Nigeria’s corruption-fighting Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is appearing before the Senate to answer accusations that he diverted billions of dollars. Ibrahim Lamorde and other officers of the anti-corruption commission are alleged to have misallocated 1 trillion naira (about $15 billion) in recovered assets with the collusion of banks and estate agents. A whistleblower, security company owner George Udoh, provided documents making the allegations. The accusations come as the commission has been pursuing new President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to stamp out Nigeria’s rampant corruption. AP

Nigeria’s Buhari Starts Probe of Weapon Purchases Since 2007
[…] Anti-corruption groups such as Transparency International say spending by the Nigerian armed forces is opaque and soldiers have complained of being under paid, poorly equipped and overstretched. Adesina acknowledged there was an “apparent deficit in military platforms” causing low morale among troops. The Nigerian military has also struggled to obtain arms, after the U.S. blocked the sale of helicopter gunships over allegations Nigeria’s military committed human-rights abuses. Nigeria abruptly ended a U.S. mission to train its troops to fight Boko Haram in December. The probe will “investigate allegations of non-adherence to correct equipment procurement procedures and the exclusion of relevant logistics branches” when previous administrations secured weapons, Adesina said. Bloomberg

Nigerian Govt Takes Action on Illegal Diplomatic Passports
The Federal Government has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to retrieve forthwith all valid diplomatic and official passports from all persons who are not entitled to hold such documents. This is contained in a statement by Mr Yusuf Isiaka,the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Interior, on Monday in Abuja. “The Permanent Secretary, Mr Abubakar Magaji, Federal Ministry of Interior, has directed the Nigeria Immigration Service to retrieve all valid diplomatic and official passports with immediate effect from all persons who are not entitled to hold such documents,” the statement said. Vanguard on allAfrica

Democratic Detour: Guiding ‘Good Coups’ Back to Democracy
Once set aside as artifacts of history, scholars and policymakers have vigorously returned their attention to coups d’état. This shift is clearly warranted, as recent coups in places like Honduras, Egypt and Thailand have broad ramifications for trade relationships, security and the growth of democracy. Unfortunately, we are largely playing catch-up in a fast-paced game. We know a fair amount about what causes coups—weak economies, illegitimate governance, past histories of coups, domestic protests—but far less about what transpires after a coup comes about. Following the end of the Cold War, the conventional wisdom that coups are bad for democracy ushered in a flurry of policies by nations like the United States and international organizations like the Organization of American States (OAS) and the African Union (AU) meant to dissuade and condemn coups. World Politics Review

Tunisian Army Units Take Part in Naval Exercises with NATO
Tunisian army units took part, Monday, in naval manoeuvres with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) frigates, in the Tunisian territorial waters as part of exchanging experiences, Spokesman of the National Defence Ministry lieutenant-colonel Belhassen Oueslati said. In a statement to TAP, he specified that the NATO ships dock every year in the Goulette port, before heading to Sicily as part of the co-operation with the Tunisian army. “The NATO frigates left Monday the Tunisian territorial waters,” he added. TAP

More South African Military Training Asked for by the DRC
South African military expertise has again been requested by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to train FARDC soldiers. It is not a new task for SA Army instructors who have been training soldiers from the regular DRC army for at least the past four years in terms of an agreement between the two countries. Operation Thebe, as it is known, is separate from South Africa’s involvement in and commitment to the UN Mission in the DRC – MONUSCO – and its Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). The issue of more training was raised this month when FARDC Commander General Etumba Didier called on SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke in Pretoria. DefenceWeb

Libya Calls for Iinternational Air Strikes Against IS
Libya’s foreign minister on Tuesday renewed a call for the lifting of an arms embargo and for international air strikes to help tackle the Islamic State group which threatens to create a “rear base” in the country. “The situation is extremely serious,” Mohamed al-Dayri, foreign minister for Libya’s internationally-recognised government based in Tobruk, told AFP on a visit to Paris. “People are dying, are crucified, are disinterred from their graves, are burned alive. Libyans don’t understand why the international community doesn’t wake up to these dangers.” Libya has two rival governments and has been torn apart since the international community helped oust its leader Moamer Kadhafi in 2011. AFP on Yahoo News

Islamist Militant Attacks Leave Kenyan Tourism Industry Reeling
Travel warnings have been lifted, Kenya’s government says U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit last month shows travelers are safe and the World Tourism Organization agrees. Still, foreign visitors are staying away. For decades, the white sandy beaches and warm blue waters of Mombasa and other resort towns along Kenya’s coast have attracted mainly western holidaymakers. Now the $1-billion-a-year industry is struggling to recover after a series of attacks in the past two years by Islamist militants loyal to the al-Shabaab movement in neighboring Somalia that killed more than 500 people. “Business is still very low,” Tuva Mwahunga, general manager of the Serena Beach Hotel in Mombasa owned by TPS Eastern Africa Ltd., the region’s biggest hotel chain, said in an interview Aug. 10. “We’re at 26 percent occupancy. With this we can’t continue. We’ve had to stop contractors and part-time staff.” Bloomberg

Muslim Leaders are Trying to Change the Way Kenya Fights Terrorism
Muslim leaders have called on the Kenyan government to stop victimizing innocent Muslims as part of anti-terror efforts and instead engage with the Muslim community to address extremism. Al Haji Yusuf Murigu, the vice chairman of National Muslim Leaders Forum, spoke on behalf of Muslim leaders last month, asking the government to keep police and military from acting above the law in combating threats from the Islamic militant group Al Shabaab and other extremist groups. “While we support the government’s measures to weed out terrorism, we are concerned that the measures being taken are selective and often deliberately target members of the Muslim community,” Murigu said. Globalpost

Israel Frees Hundreds of African Migrants From Desert Detention Center
Israel on Tuesday began releasing about 1,200 African migrants from a remote desert detention facility after the Supreme Court overturned legislation allowing them to be held without charges for up to 20 months. Nearly 600 people, who had been held at the Holot detention facility in southern Israel for more than a year, were sent on their way with sandwiches and $16 for bus fare. But they were prohibited from going to Eilat or Tel Aviv, two cities with large African communities and many Israeli residents who bitterly resent their presence. LA Times

Over 5000 Migrants Rescued off Libyan Coast Last Week: EU
Around 5,300 migrants, mainly from Sub-Saharan Africa, were rescued in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast last week, EU border agency Frontex said Tuesday. Most were rescued over the weekend, plucked from wooden or rubber boats, in one of the busiest three-day periods since the Frontex-coordinated operation Triton was launched in November 2014. “Thousands of migrants have been rescued off the Libyan coast this weekend and I am proud to say that vessels and aircraft funded by Frontex helped save more than half of them,” said Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri. AFP on Yahoo News

The Russian Roulette of the EU Asylum System
After a staggering 1,880 migrants have died trying to reach Europe in 2014, the European Commission has finally announced that it will be assuming the responsibility of patrolling the Mediterranean Sea. As of August 2014, it is estimated that 124,380 would-be asylum seekers landed on European soil, the largest amount in recent memory. At the current rate, 2014 is poised to break the record set in 2011, when 140,000 migrants arrived following the Arab Spring. Enduring conflicts in Syria and Iraq and general instability in Afghanistan, Eritrea and Somalia has driven more people from their homes in search of refuge in Europe. However, paying a high sum to endure a grueling and perilous passage may in fact be the most straightforward leg of the journey.
Syrian film challenges refugee rights Faced with this surging number of refugees, the cracks in asylum system of the European Union are showing beneath its polished veneer. Al Jazeera

Mugabe Reaches out to the West
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe said yesterday that he welcomed Western re-engagement in his country’s economy which was ready for ”a massive economic takeoff”. Giving his state of the nation address in the capital Harare, Mugabe, 91, also called for the strengthening of ties with multilateral institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. “My government values re-engagement of the Western world in the Zimbabwean economy,” he said in the first such statement in a decade-and-a-half of strained relations with the US and Europe. Mugabe said he planned to amend the country’s investment laws, a move that might be seen as a climbdown from the tough stance on indigenisation. Times Live

Zimbabwe’s President Mugabe Booed in Parliament over Economic Crisis
Zimbabwe’s veteran president Robert Mugabe was booed and heckled by opposition politicians over the deteriorating economy as he gave his state of the nation address to parliament on Tuesday. Movement for Democratic Change parliamentarians questioned his economic policies, jeering as the 91-year-old delivered a policy speech which lasted less than half an hour. He spoke as the UN confirmed earlier estimates that around 1.5 million Zimbabweans or 16% of the country’s population will face hunger later this year and need food aid. When Mugabe – who has been in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from Britain in 1980 – outlined his government’s plan to improve the economy, one lawmaker yelled at him to admit “you can’t do much about it”. The Guardian

At Least 20 Killed in C. African Sectarian Violence: Police
At least 20 people were killed and many others injured in days of sectarian clashes in the Central African Republic, sparked by the death of a young Muslim, police sources said Tuesday. The clashes in the central Bambari region broke out Thursday following confrontations between primarily Christian anti-Balaka militants and young Muslims and Muslim ex-Seleka rebels. By the following day, continuing violence had killed 10 people and injured another five, before erupting again Sunday. The initial spark for the sectarian blood-letting was the August 20 killing of a young Muslim man beaten to death by armed individuals identified as anti-Balaka militants. AFP on Yahoo News



Photo: Adam Jones