Media Review for February 11, 2016

Nigerian Refugee Camp Hit by Double Suicide Bombing
Two female suicide bombers have blown themselves up in a refugee camp in north-east Nigeria, killing at least 56 people, officials have said. The health and rescue officials said a further 78 people were being treated for wounds following the twin explosions on Tuesday morning. The camp houses about 50,000 people who have been driven from their homes by the Boko Haram Islamist uprising. Officials blamed the extremists for the bombings at Dikwa, 55 miles north-east of Maiduguri, the biggest city in the region and birthplace of Boko Haram. The six-year insurgency has killed 20,000 people, made 2.5 million homeless and spread across Nigeria’s borders. The Guardian

Burundi Crisis: US Concerned over ‘Rwanda’s Destabilising Activities’
The US has raised concerns with Rwandan officials over reports suggesting it is involved in “destabilising activities” in neighbouring Burundi, officials have said. Rwanda is reported to have armed and trained refugees to fight on behalf of the Burundian opposition. The Rwandan government has denied the allegations. Burundi has been hit by civil conflict since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term. In a hearing in the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two top diplomats cited reports from colleagues in the field that they said pointed to Rwandan involvement in the Burundi crisis. Thomas Perriello, US envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, said the reports suggested that Burundian refugees, including children, were being recruited from camps in Rwanda to participate in armed attacks against the Burundian government. Turmoil erupted in Burundi after Mr Nkurunziza announced plans last April to run for a third term, which he went on to win. BBC

U.S. Policy in Central Africa: The Imperative of Good Governance – Senate Foreign Relations Committee
– The Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of African Affairs U.S. Department of State.
– The Honorable Thomas Perriello Special Envoy For The Great Lakes Region Of Africa U.S. Department of State.
– The Honorable Roger A. Meece Former United States Ambassador To The Democratic Republic Of Congo, Former United Nations Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
– Ms. Sarah Margon Washington Director Human Right Watch.

Report: Terrorism Threat Still Poses Risk for Doing Business in Kenya
Terrorism, corruption, a precarious judiciary and the upcoming general elections are some of the key risks of doing business in Kenya, according to Control Risks, a global consultancy firm that has released its “RiskMap 2016” report. The report highlights what the firm considers some of the most significant trends in global risk for both public and private organizations. East Africa senior analyst Paul Gabriel said during Wednesday’s report launch that the perception of East Africa as being negatively impacted by terrorism affects the business community and the region’s economy. “But there isn’t always a well-understood differentiation between different parts of Kenya,” said Gabriel. “So you might have a company operating in Nairobi and therefore being perhaps not so much exposed as a company operating along the Somali border. But an outside client, an outside customer might not necessarily understand that.”  VOA

Somali Militants Planning Attacks Disguised as Peacekeepers: AU Force
African peacekeepers said on Wednesday they had information that al Qaeda-linked militants were planning to launch attacks in Somalia disguised in their uniforms. Islamist fighters from Somalia’s al Shabaab group had taken some uniforms from camps run by the African Union AMISOM force, officers said. “AMISOM has information that due to panic Al-Shabaab have plans to masquerade as AMISOM and dress in AMISOM troop’s uniforms,” the force said on its Twitter account. “These uniforms were accessed from AMISOM camps in the past and disguised as such, AS (al Shabaab) are organising to carry out atrocities,” it added. Kenyan soldiers serving with AMISOM suffered heavy losses when al Shabaab launched a dawn raid on their camp in the southern Somali town of El Adde on Jan. 15. Reuters

US: Political Crisis Building in Democratic Republic of Congo
A political crisis is growing in Democratic Republic of Congo over the possibility that President Joseph Kabila might seek a third term in office, a senior U.S. official warned on Wednesday. Tom Perriello, U.S. Special Envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes Region, said if Kabila sought a third term in November elections, even though the constitution bars such a move, it could undermine political and economic gains of the past decade. Kabila has stopped short of saying he will step down in November at the end of his second elected mandate, prompting concerns he wants another term. “A political crisis is building as the DRC prepares, or rather fails to prepare, for upcoming historic elections scheduled for this November,” Perriello told a congressional hearing. “If the DRC chooses the path of Burundi, the scale of human suffering could dwarf what we have seen next door.”  VOA

Congo Opposition Calls for General Strike to Make Kabila Stand Down
Opposition leaders in Democratic Republic of Congo called for a general strike next Tuesday to press President Joseph Kabila to step down when his mandate expires at the end of the year. The decision represents a retreat from earlier plans for a mass pro-democracy march after the powerful Catholic church pulled its support last month, saying the event had been co-opted by political interests. Kabila succeeded his assassinated father in 2001 and won disputed elections in 2006 and 2011. Critics accuse him of trying to skirt constitutional term limits and stay in power by delaying a presidential election slated for November. Dozens died in Jan. 2015 in protests over the issue. “We are called upon to stay at home, to not go to work and to not send our children to school,” opposition leader Charles Mwando Simba told reporters in the capital, Kinshasa, flanked by leaders from most major opposition parties.  Chanel News Asia

Mbabazi Says Crime Preventers are Political Militia Meant to Disrupt Elections
Independent Presidential Candidate Mr Amama Mbabazi has said crime preventers are a political militia being by government to disrupt the coming general elections. Addressing a press conference at Larem Guest House in Gulu on Tuesday, Mr Mbabazi noted that crime preventers are not a part of the Uganda police force adding that, plans to arm them makes them political militia meant to create an atmosphere conducive for violence. This was in reference to media reports that the Inspector General of Police, while addressing crime preventers in Kapchorwa, early this year, allegedly promised to arm the otherwise stick wielding outfit. “Why would one with a fully established police force, with the army and all the pillars of state in place create a militia, give them fire arms to do what?  Daily Nation

Eritrea Says It Backs Saudi Arabia’s Moves to `Combat Terrorism’
Eritrea’s president reiterated his support for Saudi Arabia’s battle against militants, without commenting on a United Nations report that said the kingdom and the United Arab Emirates were paying the African country to help their military campaign in Yemen. “The Saudi government has declared to combat terrorism, and that is something that has to be supported without preconditions,” President Isaias Afwerki told local media in January, according to a transcript published Wednesday on the Eritrean Information Ministry’s website. “What makes the Saudi initiative unique is that it is the initiative taken by countries in the region,” he said. “If properly handled, it could register progress and bring positive results. That is why we supported the initiative without reservation and preconditions.”  Bloomberg

Islamic State Foothold in Libya Poses Threat to Europe
Counter-terrorism officers in the Metropolitan Police are increasingly concerned that so-called Islamic State’s foothold in Libya could become a second springboard, after Syria, for attacks on the UK and the rest of Europe. As the US-led coalition steps up air strikes on IS positions in Syria and Iraq there are growing fears that the IS “enclave” around the Libyan city of Sirte is providing a safe haven in which jihadists can train, fund and plan attacks across the Mediterranean. So how real is this threat? Last week the US State Department and the Pentagon jointly raised their estimate of the number of foreign jihadists with IS in Libya to 4,000-6,000. They believe large numbers are being recruited from African countries to the south, helped by cash inducements.  BBC

Sudan Summons U.S. Envoy over New Sanctions on Illicit Trade in Darfur Gold
Sudan’s foreign ministry Wednesday summoned the United States chargé d’affaires in Khartoum, Jerry Lanier, to protest against a draft resolution submitted by Washington to the UN Security Council (UNSC) paving the way for new sanctions on gold mining in Darfur. The Security Council is discussing Wednesday the report of the UN Panel of experts on Darfur arms embargo and expected to vote a resolution renewing its mandate for an additional year. The draft resolution written by the penholder, U.S. mission, expresses concern over illicit trade in gold and other natural resources.  Sudan Tribune

Sudan: Army Chief Replaced
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday replaced the Chief of Staff of the country’s Army. According to a statement from the presidency, General Emadeddine Adawi replaces General Mustafa Obeid Salim, who was Chief of Staff of the Army since 2013. The statement gave no official reason for his replacement. Mustafa Obeid Salim was involved in the design of operations against rebels in Sudan and also in the participation of Sudanese forces in the war in Yemen. He was expected to have completed his term in 2017.  Africa News

World Hunger: What are the Most Undernourished Countries?
[…] Haiti, Zambia and the Central African Republic have the highest rates of undernourishment in the world, according to figures released by the World Bank. In all, seven of the ten most undernourished countries in the world are in Africa. Namibia and Zambia have seen hunger increase the most between 2000 and 2013, as a proportion of their undernourishment level at the turn of the century. According to the FAO, progress has been hindered by slower and less inclusive economic growth, as well as political instability. Food insecurity in some countries has also been made worse by natural and human-induced disasters. The Telegraph

China, India and Japan Court Africa at the Mining Table
This year’s Mining Indaba has been cast as taking place under a pall, but not too much has changed, at least not from the perspective of China, cited for much of the turmoil in the global mining industry. Chinese government officials here in this South African port city gave away little about the Asian giant’s thoughts about its central role in the turbulence, instead focusing on what they said would be better times ahead in what is a highly-cyclical industry. Zhao Caisheng, a division director at China’s national land and resources ministry, forecast a strong outlook for mining, on the back of developed economies re-industrialising and increasing spending on capital projects, and emerging economies accelerating the industrialisation push. “China is entering a ‘New Normal’ of high-end medium-speed growth,” Zhao said, referring to the country’s rebalancing towards a more consumption and services-heavy economy. China’s growth has been steady at 7%, he added, and the Asian country contributes as much as 30% to current global growth rates. Mail and Guardian

Lesotho Army Chief Must Go, Says SADC
A Southern African Development Community (SADC) commission of inquiry into Lesotho has recommended that controversial army commander Tlali Kennedy Kamoli be fired as part of efforts to restore stability in the troubled kingdom. But the recommendation is likely to stoke more turmoil as Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili had declared that he was not bound by the SADC inquiry’s recommendations. The SADC commission report was finally released in Lesotho’s parliament on Tuesday amid chaos from opposition MPs who heckled Mosisili as he addressed the House. Opposition MPs claimed Mosisili had doctored the report and not released the original version. They did not substantiate their claims as Speaker of Parliament Ntlhoi Motsamai, from Mosisili’s Democratic Congress, did not entertain their ubiquitous heckling and point-of-order disruptions. IOL News

Chad, Cameroon could reintroduce presidential term limits
Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno, has promised to reintroduce constitutional term limits if he wins a fifth term in an election slated for April 10, 2016. The leader, who has ruled the oil-rich central African country since 1990, was on Tuesday named the candidate of his Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) party for the presidential polls. “The principles of presidential term limits in the constitution must be reintroduced,” the Chadian president said at the convention of his ruling party in N’Djamena. “Today nothing requires us to remain in a system where changing leaders becomes difficult … In 2005 the constitutional reform was conducted in a context where the life of the nation was in danger,” the Chadian leader said. Candidates have between February 10 and 29 to file their bid. If no outright winner emerges from the first round, there will be a runoff vote on May 9.  Africa Review

The Fallen: Jacob Zuma, Shame of the Nation
On Thursday evening, President Jacob Zuma will stand at the front of Parliament with his hand on his heart as the military band plays the stirring notes of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, the 21-gun salute thunders and fighter planes roar overhead. It is a poignant moment at the Opening of Parliament every year, a brief moment of unity and patriotism. This year, the national salute will be taken by a man unworthy of the honour of leading the Republic of South Africa. He shamed himself and he shamed the Parliament he will enter. But Zuma will stand at the podium and Parliament and deliver the State of the Nation Address because he is incapable of recognising the disgrace he brought to himself and the nation. Daily Maverick

S. Africa Plans to Prosecute Apartheid-era Police Officers for Murder
The body of a young anti-apartheid activist who was kidnapped and tortured in 1983 by South African police has never been found, her family never able to mourn at a grave, her killers not sent to prison. Now, more than three decades later, prosecutors plan to charge four police officers for the murder of Nokuthula Simelane after Simelane’s family went to court to force the National Prosecuting Authority to press charges. The new move against the former policemen goes to the heart of long-running tension in South Africa over the push for reconciliation among the country’s racial groups and the desire to punish perpetrators of human rights abuses during the traumatic decades that preceded multi-racial elections in 1994. But the case is murky, with some of the officers involved having admitted to kidnapping and torturing the young woman, but claiming they released her after she agreed to be an informant.  CS Monitor

From Journalists to Generals, Algeria Cracks Down on Dissent
ournalist Hassan Bouras was arrested on 2 October, 2015 for speaking out on Al Magharibia, the London-based Algerian television channel critical of the government. Charged with “contempt of a state institution” and “incitement to take up arms against the state’s authority,” Bouras has been accused of serving the cause of militant Islamists. For the past three months, the journalist, who is also an activist with the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights and a member of the Front du Refus (Rejection Front), a coalition against the use of fracking to extract shale gas in Algeria, has been in jail waiting for a trial date to be set. Amnesty International fears that the current proceedings against Bouras “are aiming to silence him for his dissenting views,” especially since Bouras is “renowned for his efforts to expose corruption and other alleged abuses attributed to state officials,” the human rights advocate said in a statement. Middle East Eye

Cameroon: Creating Jobs to Counter Boko Haram Recruitement
An IT training center and new job opportunities. IT specialist Wakil Idi believes that that will help in the fight against Boko Haram. After all, he says, the recruiters prey on the unemployed youths.  Deutsche Welle

Millions Face Food Shortages as El Niño Fuels Africa’s Worst Drought in Decades
Southern and eastern Africa are in the grips of a historic drought blamed on El Niño that has put millions at risk of starvation, devastated croplands, and dried up rivers across the region. The World Food Program estimates that up to 14 million people are facing hunger due to failed crops, skyrocketing commodity and food prices, and the lowest levels of precipitation in 35 years. Among the worst affected areas are Malawi, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe declared a state of emergency this week, following Lesotho, with as many as a quarter of the country’s 13 million people in need of food aid, the Associated Press (AP) reported. Scenes of desperation played out in many drought-stricken parts of the country, where families are going weeks without a proper meal and bartering what little food they have. Others have accused authorities of punishing opponents of the government by denying them food aid — a claim denied by the government, according to the AP.  VICE

Uganda Discovered the Zika Virus. And the Solution for It.
MPALA, Uganda — The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) is nestled in a series of rolling hills outside of Entebbe, the town on the banks of Lake Victoria that served as the seat of government during Uganda’s time as a British protectorate. At the institute’s main entrance hang maps from old studies and magnified images of some of the viruses that have been isolated or discovered here, including West Nile virus. But it’s the Zika virus — which has infected tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in the Americas in recent months and may be linked to a spate of children born with underdeveloped brains in Brazil — that’s now bringing Ugandan epidemiologists unexpected attention. UVRI scientists first discovered Zika in the blood of a rhesus monkey back in 1947. And while Uganda has never had an outbreak of the virus, the country’s unique approach to monitoring the spread of similar diseases could hold the key to stopping future epidemics in their tracks. Consider how Uganda dealt with the Ebola virus. Long before Ebola made its recent rampage across West Africa infecting more than 28,000 people, Uganda, in eastern Africa, had its own Ebola outbreak — two in fact, in 2012. Led by scientists at UVRI, however, the outbreaks were quickly identified and contained. Only 21 people died as a result — in contrast to more than 11,300 in West Africa in the past two years. Foreign Policy

Ghana’s Gold Diggers: Chinese Miners Bring Conflict
China has had a long history of investment in Ghana, whether it be building the country’s national theatre or constructing roads and dams. But the Chinese influence has not always been beneficial. Now it is causing environmental devastation and social unrest. An influx of illegal Chinese miners, attracted by the abundance of gold, has ignited bloody conflicts with the local — and also illegal — small-scale miners, the galamseys, over the mines’ control. The foreign workers stay in camps in the bush, their presence evident from roadside signs in Chinese advertising excavation equipment and wholesale food. With what some see as the complicity of the Ghanaian government, the foreign miners smuggle powerful machinery in the country, which allows them to plough their way through the gold-rich soil much faster than the galamseys, who work with spades. This exacerbates the environmental impact of illegal mining, as fertile agricultural land is turned into wasteland that is extremely difficult to restore. SciDev.Net

Tunisia Makes $500 Million from Ousted President’s Assets
Tunisia has made nearly half a billion dollars from the sale of assets confiscated from ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his allies, a minister said Wednesday. In the months following Ben Ali’s flight to Saudi Arabia after the January 2011 revolution that ended his rule, the cash-strapped country seized hundreds of businesses, properties, luxury cars and jewellery belonging to him, his family and his allies. “Since 2011, we made around 1.5 billion dinars (of which) around 1 billion ($500 million, 442 million euros) went into the state’s coffers,” Finance Minister Slim Chaker said. “The other 500 million dirhams went to paying off debts,” he said. Revenues from the sales have boosted the national budget and allowed the state to borrow less, he added, but the process is slow. Only some assets have been sold off so far, including at an auction at the end of 2012. AFP on Yahoo News



Photo: Adam Jones