Media Review for August 31, 2015

Outspoken Nigerian Envoy to Washington Dies Suddenly
Nigerian Ambassador Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, Abuja’s outspoken envoy to Washington, died Thursday, just days before he was slated to leave his diplomatic post and head home. He was 68. Adefuye, a retired professor of history, was appointed ambassador in 2010 by then-President Goodluck Jonathan. Over five years, he earned a reputation in Washington as a zealous and fearless advocate for Jonathan’s often-shaky administration. Newly-elected President Muhammadu Buhari, who defeated Jonathan in March, asked Adefuye to resign — even though a replacement had not yet been named. Yet Buhari and Adefuye had a professional working relationship, and collaborated when Buhari visited Washington in July, a visit that State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner on Friday said highlighted “Adefuye’s skill as a diplomat.” Adefuye had earlier served as Nigeria’s envoy to Jamaica. Foreign Policy

Nigerian Official: Boko Haram Trying to Hit Lagos
Nigeria’s Islamic extremist rebels Boko Haram are trying to extend their violent campaign across the country including Lagos, the country largest city, an intelligence official said Sunday. There has been a sudden influx of Boko Haram agents into Lagos and other parts of Nigeria outside the militants’ main area in northeastern Nigeria, said Tony Opuiyo, spokesman of the Department of State Services. He said Boko Haram is trying to extend their reach after being pushed out of the urban centers of northeastern Nigeria in recent months. AP on Stars and Stripes

Nigeria Arrests Boko Haram Commander Linked With Suicide Attacks
Nigeria’s secret police said on Sunday it had arrested notable Boko Haram suspects, including a key commander, linked with several suicide attacks across the country. The Department of State Services (DSS) said in a statement that Usman Shuiabu known as Money and other frontline members of the hardline Islamist group were picked up in Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Enugu and Gombe states between July and August. “Of particular note was the arrest on 8th July 2015 in Gombe state of those responsible for the co-ordination and execution of the suicide attacks in Potiskum, Kano, Zaria and Jos,” it said. News 24

Boko Haram Spy Ring Uncovered at Abuja Airport
Nigeria has uncovered a spy cell run by militant group Boko Haram at the international airport in the capital Abuja apparently aimed at selecting targets for attack, the country’s national security agency said. In a statement late on Friday, the Department of State Services (DSS) said it discovered the ring on Monday and was working with aviation authorities to pre-empt any attack. President Muhammadu Buhari has made halting Boko Haram’s six-year-old insurgency a priority, but a Reuters tally shows the jihadist group has killed more than 700 people in Nigeria in bomb attacks and shootings since he came to office on May 29.  IOL News

Chad Executes 10 Boko Haram Fighters Over Deadly Attacks
Ten members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram have been executed by firing squad in Chad. It comes a day after they were found guilty of terror charges at a trial in the capital N’Djamena. Security sources said they were shot at a firing range north of the capital. All 10 were convicted over their roles in twin attacks on the capital in June, which killed at least 38. A month after the attack, Chad reintroduced the death penalty for acts of terror.  BBC

South Sudan troops break ceasefire – Riek Machar
South Sudan’s rebel leader has accused the government of violating a ceasefire hours after it came into effect. Riek Machar said the army attacked his forces in two northern states, allegations which the military denies. President Salva Kiir, under the threat of sanctions from the UN, signed a peace agreement on Wednesday, despite “serious reservations”. Several ceasefires to end the brutal 20-month conflict in the world’s youngest nation have failed to hold. BBC

South Sudan’s Shaky Ceasefire in Doubt
South Sudan’s rebels and government traded accusations on Sunday just hours after a ceasefire between the two came into affect. Rebels said the army had fired on some of their positions along the White Nile river, which the South Sudanese military dismissed as “mere fabrications” intended to hoodwink the international media. “A military convoy – two barges, seven gunboats – has been moving…Whenever they see our positions on the banks, they shell,” said rebel spokesman Dickson Gatluak. “The cessation of hostilities started at midnight on Saturday but the government has broken it. They are not committed to it,” Gatluak added, saying that they would report the attack to IGAD, the eight-nation regional bloc who helped engineer the truce. Deutsche Welle

Uganda Will Withdraw its Army, Watch Juba Cosely
Uganda says it will honour the requirement of the latest peace agreement to withdraw its army from South Sudan territory, but on condition that the safety of its citizens is guaranteed.  Chief of Defence Forces Gen Edward Katumba Wamala told The EastAfrican that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces will comply with the directive in the agreement that all foreign forces in the war must leave South Sudan within 45 days. Uganda’s exit and a replacement force are key to building confidence within the rebels [Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement – In Opposition] but Gen Katumba Wamala said UPDF’s withdrawal depends on the safety of Ugandans living and working in Juba and elsewhere within South Sudan.  The East African

How the West Lost Burundi
Last Thursday morning, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza stepped in front of a house of newly elected members of parliament and was sworn in for a third consecutive term. In attendance were the ambassadors of Russia and China. Western diplomats had been informed just that morning that the inauguration, for which an official date had not been set, was to take place, and a few low-level officials managed to make it. Their higher-level counterparts would not have attended anyway.Burundi, a country of some 10 million people wedged somewhere between East and Central Africa, became a flash point in late April when Nkurunziza’s announcement of his candidacy for third term sparked protests, harsh crackdowns, and a cycle of violence in the capital, Bujumbura. Far from resolving the conflict, Nkurunziza’s victory in the July 21 election, which was boycotted by much of the opposition and denounced by Western governments, seems to have ushered in a new more violent phase in the crisis. Tit-for-tat killings of regime and opposition leaders in the weeks since have threatened a potentially catastrophic escalation of violence. Foreign Policy

Militia Releases 163 Child Soldiers from Ranks in CAR
The anti-Balaka militia has released 163 children from its ranks in the Central African Republic, a country where as many as 10,000 youth have been recruited to fight for armed groups since 2013. The children were handed over at a ceremony on Friday in the northern town of Batangafo that was facilitated by the UN children’s agency (UNICEF) and the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSCA) in the country. The youth were freed from the anti-Balaka group, which still vies with the Seleka rebels for control of this town where some 30,000 people are living in a refugee camp.  Al Jazeera

Central African Republic Court Bars Transitional Government Members from Polls
Central African Republic’s constitutional court has confirmed the exclusion of past members of a transitional government from running for office in presidential and parliamentary elections due in October. A 2013 transitional charter stated that members of the caretaker body would not be eligible to participate in the polls, which are meant to draw a line under more than two years of violence However, the court was asked to clarify the charter’s provision after former Prime Minister Nicolas Tiangaye and other senior ministers, who have since left the transitional government, announced their candidacies.  Reuters

About 200 Feared Dead in Libya Refugee Boat Disaster
At least 105 people have been killed and more than one hundred others are still missing after a boat, reportedly packed with refugees bound for Italy, capsized and sunk off the Libyan coast. Hussein Asheini, the head of Libya’s Red Crescent in Zuwara, told the Associated Press news agency that 105 bodies had been recovered. Nearly 200 others had been rescued, the organisation said. A security official in Zuwarah, a town in the North African nation’s west from where the overcrowded boat had set off, said that there were about 400 people on board. The UNHCR, the UN Agency for refugees, in a statement, released on Friday, said there were about 500 people on board.  Al Jazeera

Algeria Detains Former Counter-Terror Chief – Report
A retired Algerian intelligence chief, formerly in charge of counter-terrorism, is being held in a military prison after his arrest in Algiers, the daily El-Watan reported on Sunday. After being forcibly retired at the end of 2013, “General Hassan”, born Abdelkader Ait-Ouarab, was arrested at his home on Thursday and is being held in Blida military prison 50km south of Algiers, the newspaper said. A security source confirmed his arrest to AFP, but gave no further details. News sites first announced that he had been detained on Friday, but there has been no official confirmation. News 24

Mali Militia Agrees to Leave Occupied Northern Town
A government-allied militia has agreed to leave a northern Mali town it occupied earlier this month following clashes with Tuareg separatists, a move praised by the country’s United Nations peacekeeping mission as helpful for preserving a fragile peace accord. The militia agreed to leave following the intervention on Saturday of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, said Fihroun Maiga, spokesman for the Platform coalition of militia groups. On Friday, Maiga had insisted they would stay in the town to prevent the separatists from returning, flouting the demands of an international peace monitoring group. VOA

Is Mali’s Peace Deal Dead?
Mali, which has been working to re-establish stability ever since early 2012 when an attempted coup by Tuareg rebels made way to a full blown complex insurgency in the northern part of the country, is still struggling to ensure that the recently signed peace deal actually leads to a pacified situation. With several attacks, killings and fights for control over territory, the long-anticipated peace accord is starting to look superficial. Most recently, towns in the area of Kidal, in the north, have been the battleground for opposing Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA) and the Platform Coalition (pro-government forces). In addition, the chronic unrest continues to facilitate jihadist actions – the lack of positive territorial control in the north by the Malian government leaves the door wide open to transnational criminal networks, who benefit from the insecurity.  UN Dispatch

Egypt Sets October Election Date, After 3 Years Without Parliament
Egypt will hold a long-awaited parliamentary election in two phases starting Oct. 18-19, the election commission said on Sunday, the final step of a roadmap to democracy that critics say has been tainted by a crackdown on dissent. The first phase of voting was due to begin in March but the election was delayed after a court ruled part of an election law unconstitutional. The second phase of voting will take place on Nov. 22-23, the election commission told a news conference. Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, reversing a major accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. France 24

Italy’s Eni Discovers Huge Gas Field off Egyptian Coast
Italian energy group Eni says it has found one of the world’s largest natural gas fields off Egypt’s coast. The company said the area was 1,450m (4,757 feet) beneath the surface and covered 100 sq km (39 sq miles). It could hold as much as 30 trillion cubic feet of gas, or 5.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent, Eni said. The company says that the Zohr field “could become one of the world’s largest natural-gas finds” and help meet Egypt’s gas needs for decades. “This historic discovery will be able to transform the energy scenario of Egypt,” said Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of Eni. BBC

Sudan’s Bashir to Visit China Despite International Arrest Warrant
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is expected to travel to China on Monday for a four-day visit, the foreign ministry said, defying an international warrant for his arrest. The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010, accusing him of masterminding genocide and other atrocities in his campaign to crush a revolt in the western Darfur region. Members of the ICC are obliged to act on arrest warrants. China is not a member. Bashir, who rejects the court’s authority, has managed to travel within Africa and the Middle East. In June, he was forced to flee South Africa, however, after a court ruled he should be banned from leaving pending the outcome of a hearing on his possible arrest. Sudan’s foreign ministry said Bashir would visit China for a commemoration of the end of World War II. Reuters

Iranian Ship and Crew Escape after 5 Months in Captivity off Somali Coast
An Iranian fishing vessel and its crew have escaped after being held captive for five months by Somali fishermen, maritime piracy experts said on Friday, but it was not clear how many crew members had escaped. Jaber, an Iranian fishing vessel believed to have up to 19 crew, was captured on March 26, along with another Iranian fishing vessel, Siraj. Local officials accused them of illegal fishing in Somali waters. Although there are still rare cases of sea attacks, piracy in the Indian Ocean has largely subsided in the past three years, mainly due to shipping firms hiring private security details and the presence of international warships. Reuters

Confusion Still Reigns Over Death-Toll in Horror Swaziland Accident
In the first official statement on the accident‚ posted on Sunday‚ the Royal Swaziland Police Service states on its website that 13 people were killed – two of them men‚ both aged 25‚ while the other victims were all young girls aged between 11 and 19. However‚ the rights group Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN)‚ quoting what it says are inside sources‚ claims that at least 65 young girls were killed in the crash. On Saturday‚ a posting on the police website stated that no fatal accidents had been reported in the past 24 hours. Sunday’s posting says that the next-of-kin of the victims have already been notified. Times Live



Photo: Adam Jones