Media Review for August 27, 2015

Dozens killed as Somali Shebab ambush troops: government
Dozens have been killed in Somalia after Shebab gunmen ambushed an army convoy, officials and local elders said Thursday, the latest battles with the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents. Shebab fighters launched attacks on the army convoy near the village of Tulo-Barwao in the southwestern Gedo district of Somalia on Wednesday, a region bordering Ethiopia and Kenya, sparking intense gun battles. Government officials put the toll at 32 Shebab and 11 government soldiers killed, while the Shebab said the only casualties were 19 government troops. Local elder Abdulahi Halane said around 30 people were killed in total. It was not possible to independently verify the toll. AFP on Yahoo News

South Sudan’s Kiir Signs Peace Agreement Despite ‘Reservations’
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Wednesday signed a peace agreement aiming to end the country’s 20-month conflict. However, in a speech to east African leaders gathered for a signing ceremony in the capital Juba, Kiir highlighted “serious reservations” about an “imposed peace”. “Something wrong must be there inside the document which people do not want to be known,” said Kiir, referring to reservations about the peace deal identified by the South Sudanese government. RFI

White House Warns Kiir Over Peace Deal
The White House on Wednesday welcomed the decision by South Sudan President Salva Kiir to belatedly sign a peace accord, but warned his endorsement should not come with caveats. “President Kiir made the right decision to sign the peace agreement today,” said spokesperson Josh Earnest. “But we should be just as clear that the United States and the international community does not recognize any reservations or addendums to that document.” The White House called Kiir’s government to abide by the agreement and begin rebuilding the country. News 24

Exclusive Interview: Machar on South Sudan Peace Deal
South Sudan President Salva Kiir has signed a peace deal with rebels – more than a week after initially refusing to do so – at a ceremony in the capital Juba attended by African regional leaders. Rebel leader Riek Machar signed the accord in the Ethiopian capital last week, but Kiir had said on the same day that his government needed more time to study the text. In an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Machar told Al Jazeera that the agreement includes several reforms, including the reconsitution of the army, security forces and the police. “There were reasons for the war, and this peace agreement addresses these reasons,” said Machar. “We hope nobody creates war again in South Sudan.” Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford reports from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Al Jazeera

South Sudan’s Peace Deal May Not Be Worth the Paper It’s Written On
Yielding to the threat of U.N. sanctions, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir grudgingly signed a landmark peace deal Wednesday that would cede considerable power to his bitter enemy, rebel leader Riek Machar, as part of a power-sharing arrangement aimed at ending the young country’s 20-month-long civil war. Or did he? Before putting his pen to paper, Kiir initialed a 12-page document, separate from the 75-page agreement itself, that included a list of 16 reservations and other grievances with the peace pact and that raised questions about his commitment to the agreement. The grievances included everything from a complaint about the manner in which President Kiir’s full title is described in the peace pact to a demand that reconstruction funds flowing from the deal be placed under the control of the finance minister, not a foreign official, according to a copy of the document obtained by Foreign Policy. Foreign Policy

Radio-Silenced in the World’s Newest Country
On Aug. 22, on the bare floor of a prison cell in the South Sudanese capital, Juba, journalist George Livio marked his 365th day behind bars. A reporter for a United Nations-run radio station, Livio was arrested a year ago by South Sudan’s internal spy agency, the National Security Services (NSS). He has not been charged with a crime, and a lawyer has been prevented from visiting him in prison. Although his arrest made headlines both inside and outside the country last year, a spokesman for the presidency refused even to acknowledge that he has been taken into custody. Livio’s detention is emblematic of the rapid erosion of free-speech protections in South Sudan, which broke apart from the repressive government of Sudan in 2011 but now finds itself engulfed in a brutal, two-year-old civil war of its own. Foreign Policy

U.S. Special Envoy Meets with Sudan’s Foreign Minister
The United States Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald E. Booth, on Wednesday has discussed with Sudan’s foreign minister, Ibrahim Ghandour, the outstanding issues between the two countries. Sudan’s foreign ministry information department issued a brief statement saying the visit of the American envoy and his accompanying delegation would last for two days. The US embassy in Khartoum announced that the envoy is paying a rare visit to Sudan to discuss bilateral relations between the two countries. “The visit comes within the framework of our diplomatic efforts to develop ties with the Sudanese and to discuss all issues framing relations between the two nations,” said the embassy spokesperson, Caroline Schneider. Sudan Tribune

About 50 Bodies Found in Hull of Migrant Ship
About 50 bodies were found in the hull of a migrant boat that was rescued off Libya’s northern coast on Wednesday, adding to the more than 2 400 people who have perished at sea this year making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing to Europe. Italy’s coast guard says the Swedish ship Poseiden, which is taking part in the EU’s Triton Mediterranean operation, rescued 439 people from the ship on Wednesday. The rescue was one of 10 requests for assistance that arrived at the coast guard’s operations centre as Libya-based smugglers take advantage of calm seas to send boats overloaded with migrants to Europe. News 24

DRC President Signs Legislation on Local Elections
The president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has signed legislation to keep elections on a timeline proposed by an independent commission, a government spokesman said Wednesday, as the new U.S. envoy for the region urged respect for the constitution and electoral calendar. President Joseph Kabila on Tuesday signed the parliament-approved legislation to hold the first local elections Oct. 25, said spokesman Lambert Mende. “The president’s actions today reflect the government’s steadfast commitment to upholding the electoral calendar,” he said. The Independent National Electoral Commission’s implementation of the timeline “will enable the Congolese people to participate in free, fair and transparent elections at all levels of government.” VOA

Negotiator Quits on Eve of Libya Talks
A senior negotiator from one of Libya’s two parliaments on Wednesday quit UN-sponsored talks on forming a unity government a day before a new round of negotiations. The United Nations has been trying to persuade the country’s warring factions for months to form a unity cabinet and end fighting across the nation four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi. Militant groups allied to each of the two administrations have brought the country’s oil-dependent economy to its knees and most of Libya is now lawless and run by armed groups attached to neither government. IOL News

IS Stops Phone Communications Between West, East and South Libya: Report
Internet, landline and Libyana mobile telephone communications have been cut between east, west and south Libya according to the Libyan Post, Telecommunications and Information Technology Holding Company because of damage to a cable at Sirte. Company sources allege that it was done deliberately yesterday by Islamic State (IS) forces in the town. In a statement, the LPTIC said that as a result, services of Libyana, Almadar, Libya Telecom & Technology, and Libya Phone between east and west were not working. It added that other public and private telecommunications services, including those of banks, were also likely to have affected. The internet is still is working in Tripoli, as are phone calls within the three regions. The internet was reported down in Torbuk and Benghazi. Libya Herald

Algerian Troops Kill five Islamist Fighters in Operation
Algeria’s armed forces have mounted operations against Islamist militants in the east of the country and killed five fighters in the past few days, the Defence Ministry on Wednesday. The campaigns were taking place in the eastern coastal regions of Jijel and Skikda, state news agency APS reported, citing the ministry. It did not name any armed group but said five militants had been killed and weapons seized. The Algerian government is fighting two armed groups, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the Caliphate Soldiers, a branch of Islamic State. Since the end of a civil war in the 1990s which killed more than 200,000 people, Algeria has become a U.S. ally in its fight against armed Islamist militancy in the Sahel. Reuters

Plane Carrying Guinea’s Ex-Junta Chief Diverts to Ghana
A plane has landed at Ghana’s Kotoka International Airport (KIA) carrying a former junta chief of Guinea Moussa Dadis Camara. Camara was heading back to Conakry to campaign for his presidential bid in October but authorities denied him landing right and had to divert to Ghana Wednesday. Camara, who is on exile in Burkina Faso, having survived an assassination attempt a year after taking power, on Wednesday left Ouagadougou on a flight to Guinea with a planned layover in Abidjan, the AFP reported. According to a spokesman for Camara’s Patriotic Front for Democracy and Development (FPDD) Maxime Manimou, the plane was blocked from landing in Abidjan and forced to land in Ghana. GhanaWeb

Suicide Bombers Attack Chad Army Camp: Sources
Two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a Chadian army camp on Wednesday, according to security sources who blamed the attack on Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamist group that Chad and other countries in the region are pursuing militarily. “The two kamikazes tried to get into the camp but were pushed back by the guard so they detonated themselves at the entrance,” said an officer at the Kaiga Ngouboua base in the Lake Chad region, adding that a suspected accomplice had been arrested. Nobody except the bombers was killed. Reuters

Burkina Excludes ex-President’s Allies from Legislative Election
Burkina Faso’s constitutional council has declared more than 40 people linked to former President Blaise Compaore’s ruling alliance ineligible for an October legislative election. The West African country, currently ruled by a transitional government, will also choose on Oct. 11 a successor for Compaore who was toppled by street protests as he sought to modify the constitution in order to extend his 27-year rule. Many of the candidates for both the legislative and presidential elections come from the political old guard. “All people having supported an anti-constitutional change damaging to the principle of democratic transition, notably the principle of limiting the number of presidential mandates leading to an insurrection or other uprising are ineligible,” the court said late on Tuesday, citing article 166 of the electoral code. Reuters

Sub-Saharan Democracy, Continued: Tanzania Goes to the Polls
It will take a concerted effort to unseat the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi in the upcoming elections in Tanzania, but momentum appears to be behind the Ukawa opposition coalition, led by former prime minister Edward Lowassa. The outcome of what are expected to be the closest elections in the country’s history is sure to affect not just Tanzania, but the region and the African continent as a whole. Daily Maverick

SANDF Needs to Get Involved in Peacekeeping in Africa – SA Army
The importance the South African military places on peacekeeping in Africa and having a stable and prosperous continent can be seen in its hosting of Exercise Amani Africa II later this year and its involvement in the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC) force. South African Army chief, General Vusi Masondo, said that some people have questioned whether South Africa should be committing itself to operations on the continent when there are burning issues at home such as border security, but that development of the continent would not happen in an environment of carnage and instability. DefenceWeb

Liberia’s National Oil Company Sacks Entire Staff
The National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) Tuesday sacked its entire staff of 200, saying it did so to save itself from collapse due to declining oil prices. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf endorsed the cuts, saying they will reduce costs and put NOCAL on a more viable financial footing. A statement issued Tuesday said Sirleaf instructed NOCAL’s board of directors to restructure for organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Rodney Sieh, publisher of Liberia’s FrontPage Africa newspaper and online magazine, said the reductions are not surprising given NOCAL’s reputation as a dumping ground for political appointees, its bloated staff and mismanagement. VOA

After Obama Visit, Kenyans Now Favour US over China
More Kenyans have a favourable opinion of the United States than China following US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country in late July. This is according to a recent survey by Nairobi-based research firm Ipsos which indicates that 56 per cent of Kenyans polled say the US is the most important development partner for the country outside the East African Community. Only 15 per cent of Kenyans have a favourable opinion of China as the country’s most important development partner – followed by Germany, UK and Japan at one per cent each. In the run-up to the elections, campaign rhetoric – especially from Uhuru Kenyatta-led Jubilee Coalition – was laced with anti-West sentiments which severely tattered the image of the US in the Kenya. The East African

Nigerian Second-Quarter Economic Growth Slows on Oil Plunge
Growth in the Nigerian economy, Africa’s largest, slowed in the second quarter due to the slump in oil prices, the country’s statistics office said. Gross domestic product expanded 2.35 percent on an annual basis, compared with 3.96 percent a quarter earlier, the head of the National Bureau of Statistics, Yemi Kale, said on his Twitter account on Tuesday. The oil industry contracted 6.8 percent, Kale said. “This is not a good result for Nigeria,” Alan Cameron, a London-based economist at Exotix Partners LLP, said in e-mailed comments. “Moreover, with policy rates stuck at high levels, and fiscal policy being tightened automatically through lower statutory oil disbursements, it is hard to see any catalyst for improvement.” Bloomberg

Chinese Firm Signs 1.48 bln USD Deal to Build Cement Plants in Africa
A Chinese firm has signed a deal worth 1.487 billion U.S. dollars with Nigeria-based cement giant Dangote Group to build cement plants in several African countries. The plants will be built by China’s Sinoma International Engineering Co., Ltd in countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Zambia, Senegal, Niger, Mali, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivore Ghana and Nepal. They are expected to add 25 million metric tones to Dangote’s existing capacity of almost 50 million tonnes of cement. Owner of Dangote Group and Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote told reporters on Wednesday at the signing ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria that work on the plants would be completed within 30 months, with a ground breaking ceremony held in Cameroon on the same day. Xinhua

New Deputy Commander for Djibouti Joint Task Force
Capt. William W. Wheeler III, set for promotion to rear admiral, has been tapped to serve as the next deputy commander for the U.S. military mission in Djibouti, the Defense Department announced. Wheeler, who now serves as the executive assistant to the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa in Naples, Italy, will replace Air Force Brig. Gen. William P. West as deputy commander at the U.S. military’s Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. The commander is Army Maj. Gen. Mark R. Stammer. The task force’s main mission in Djibouti is to counter violent extremism around the volatile Horn of Africa with a special focus on threats emanating out of neighboring Somalia. Stars and Stripes



Photo: Adam Jones