Media Review for February 12, 2016

Machar Appointed South Sudan’s First Vice President
South Sudan rebel leader, Riek Machar was on Thursday appointed the country’s first vice president in accordance with last year’s peace accord. In a decree, read on the state-owned SSTV Thursday, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir also appointed James Wani Igga as the county’s vice president. The appointments, according to the presidential decree, were made in accordance to the 2015 peace agreement and powers given to Kiir by the 2011 Transitional Constitution.  Sudan Tribune

Islamic State Fighters Head South in Libya, Threatening Sahel
Groups of Islamic State fighters are quitting their bases in Libya fearing Western air strikes and heading south, posing a new threat to countries in Africa’s Sahel region including Niger and Chad, officials and intelligence sources said. The ultra-hardline movement that has seized large areas of Syria and neighbouring Iraq has also amassed thousands of fighters along a coastal strip in Libya, where it has taken the city of Sirte and attacked oil infrastructure. African and Western governments fear that the vast, lawless Sahel band to the south will become its next target, and say any large regional presence could be used as a springboard for wider attacks. “ISIS (Islamic State) are moving towards southern Libya to avoid the likely air strikes from the European coalition,” said Colonel Mahamane Laminou Sani, director of documentation and military intelligence for Niger’s armed forces. “If something like that happens, the whole Sahel is (affected),” he added on the sidelines of the annual U.S.-led ‘Flintlock’ counter-terrorism exercises in Senegal. Reuters

Sudan Accuses Unnamed Groups of Using Darfur Rebels in Libyan Conflict
Sudan foreign ministry reiterated claims that Darfur rebel groups are involved in the Libyan conflict and pointed accusing fingers to unnamed groups saying they support them to achieve personal interests and ambitions. “Sudanese Foreign Ministry condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on the Kufra city by the so-called Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM),” said the ministry’s spokesperson Ali al-Sadiq in a statement released on Thursday. Al-Sadiq further condemned “those who stand behind these groups and provide them with with money and weapons to threaten peace and security (in Sudan) and to serve (their) interests and personal ambitions”.  Sudan Tribune

Rwanda to Relocate Burundi Refugees
Rwanda says it plans to relocate Burundian refugees to other host countries, days after being accused of attempts to destabilise its neighbour. Plans for the relocation of an estimated 70,000 refugees will start immediately, the government says. Rwanda has been accused of arming and training refugees to fight Burundi’s government, charges it denies. Burundi has been hit by unrest since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to stand for a third term last April. BBC

Burundi Feels Vindicated by US Accusation of Rwanda
Burundi says it feels vindicated now that the United States has accused the Rwandan government of involvement in destabilizing activities in Burundi. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday that there are credible reports that Burundian refugees in Rwanda are being recruited to participate in armed attacks on the Burundian government. Burundi Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe said Burundi has been sounding the alarm about Rwanda for months. Nyamitwe said the United States must now take concrete action, because Rwanda’s behavior is contrary to all international norms. “For us, we say it’s better later than never because we’ve been telling the Obama administration about this for the last seven or eight months,” he said. “But of course, in the beginning we were told that we were just trying to divert the attention of the international community on Burundi toward another country. So for us, we want the U.S. to move beyond simple rhetoric and take action because those are absolute acts that disturb the peaceful existence of states; those are acts go against United Nations charter,” he said. VOA

Is Rwanda Stoking Ethnic Fires in Burundi?
[…] This week, the United States took up the complaint, in a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “There are credible reports of recruitment of Burundian refugees out of camps in Rwanda to participate in armed attacks by Burundian armed opposition against the Burundian government,” said Thomas Perriello, US envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. “We have seen a number of reports from our colleagues in the field that suggest [that] the Rwandan government has been involved in destabilizing activities in Burundi,” said Linda Grant, US assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Kagame has previously dismissed these claims as “childish”. Tellingly, however, neither he nor his foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo have reacted directly to the US accusations. Mushikiwabo instead tweeted that the international community was not doing enough to stop the violence: “On #Burundi: is international community (whatever that means), incompetent, impotent or oblivious to gravity…daily murders and disappearances!”. Daily Maverick

France Consulting on New UN Resolution on Burundi Violence
France is consulting U.N. Security Council members on the text of a new resolution that would strengthen international involvement in Burundi and Britain says it could include “a policing element.” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters Thursday that the council must keep the spotlight on escalating violence in the impoverished African nation, which he called “conflict prevention.” President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek re-election last April touched off street protests that led to a failed coup in May and a rebellion that has left Burundi on the brink of civil war. Opponents and supporters of Nkurunziza in the capital, Bujumbura, have targeted each other in gun, rocket and grenade attacks, and the violence has spread to the provinces. The U.N. estimates that more than 230,000 people have fled to neighboring countries since the street protests began and that over 430 people have been killed. Human rights activists blame government security forces for extrajudicial killings. AP on Yahoo News

UN Wants to Send Experts for Burundi Mass Graves Probe
The United Nations wants to send independent forensics experts to Burundi to help authorities investigate allegations of mass graves in the strife-torn country, a senior official said Wednesday. After a government security crackdown in December, witnesses came forward with accounts of at least nine mass graves in and around Bujumbura including one in a military camp where more than 100 bodies were allegedly buried. Corpses were allegedly dumped in grave sites by police who had carried out raids in Bujumbura, arresting and shooting young men in response to a December 11 attack by gunmen on three military barracks. UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic told reporters that a Burundian prosecutor had opened an investigation of the alleged mass graves and that the United Nations had offered to help. “Somebody has to dig those mass graves. We would like to be present when this is done and we are offering to provide forensics experts,” Simonovic said. The East African

Central Africans Head to the Polls Under a Shadow from the Past
The smiling faces of two former prime ministers, Anicet-Georges Dologuele and Faustin-Archange Touadera, gaze out from thousands of campaign posters plastered across Central African Republic’s dusty riverside capital Bangui. The spectre of a third man, exiled former ruler Francois Bozize, looms just as heavily over the presidential run-off vote on Sunday. With it comes the risk that the vote may change little if anything, no matter who wins it. Central African Republic, a majority Christian country rich in gold, uranium and diamonds but too unstable to mine them profitably, has been torn between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian “anti-balaka” militias since the rebels ousted Bozize in early 2013. The violence has killed thousands, forced one in five residents to flee and led to de facto partition along ethnic and religious faultlines. Seleka withdrew from Bangui in 2014 and an interim president was named to lead a transition to democracy. Reuters

Ugandan Election: ‘Zero Chances’ for the Opposition
Ugandans head to the polls on February 18 amid a troubling increase in threats against the opposition and the media. President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the country for 30 years, has said he wants to extend his term in office in order to help the region push foward with the creation of an East African federation – a proposed union which would see Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Kenya forming a single sovereign state. All five countries have expressed interest, but negotiations continue over how such a union would work. Following Museveni’s announcement that he would not leave his post as president before the formation of the federation, Uganda’s neighboring countries are skeptical. DW spoke to Christopher Kayumba, a Rwandan political commentator, about how the Ugandan election could affect the geopolitics of the region. Deutcshe Welle

Congo Sets Governors Vote Date as Opposition Plans Strike
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s government said gubernatorial elections will take place in March, as opposition parties called for a general strike next week to protest what they say are efforts by President Joseph Kabila to hang on to power. Voting for governors and deputy governors in 21 of the country’s 26 provinces will be held March 26, the Independent National Electoral Commission, known by its French acronym CENI, said in a statement emailed from the capital, Kinshasa. Congo is the world’s biggest source of cobalt, used to make rechargeable batteries, and Africa’s largest copper and tin miner. “The CENI has received a firm engagement from the government to fund the election of governors and vice governors,” it said. The indirect gubernatorial ballot was supposed to be part of a series of about a dozen elections scheduled to take place between October 2015 and November 2016, culminating in a vote for a new president. Dates for the election of provincial assembly members, senators and local government representatives have also been missed. A comprehensive revised election calendar has yet to be published even after requests from donors and opposition parties.  Bloomberg on The Chicago Tribune

Nigerian Suicide Bomber Gets Cold Feet, Refuses to Kill
Strapped with a booby-trapped vest and sent by the extremist Boko Haram group to kill as many people as possible, the young teenage girl tore off the explosives and fled as soon as she was out of sight of her handlers. Her two companions, however, completed their grisly mission and walked into a crowd of hundreds at Dikwa refugee camp in northeast Nigeria and blew themselves up, killing 58 people. Later found by local self-defense forces, the girl’s tearful account is one of the first indications that at least some of the child bombers used by Boko Haram are aware that they are about to die and kill others. “She said she was scared because she knew she would kill people. But she was also frightened of going against the instructions of the men who brought her to the camp,” said Modu Awami, a self-defense fighter who helped question the girl. She was among thousands held captive for months by the extremists, according to Algoni Lawan, a spokesman for the Ngala local government area that has many residents at the camp and who is privy to information about her interrogation by security forces. The Seattle Times

Suicide Bombs Punctuate German President’s Nigeria Visit
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and his German guest President Joachim Gauck condemned on Thursday the double suicide bombing by suspected Boko Haram militants which left 58 people dead in a camp for displaced people in northeastern Nigerian on Tuesday morning. The suicide bombers, young women wearing veils, had passed themselves off as refugees in order to gain access to the Dikwa camp lying some 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. The delay in relaying news of the attack was attributed to the destruction of telecoms masts by the militants which caused a breakdown in communications. Political analyst Ibrahim Aliyu told DW blamed the attack on the “laxity of the Nigerian military” who, he said, were not doing their job properly. Deutcshe Welle

Nigeria’s Buhari Needs to Avoid Telling the ‘Single Story’ about Nigerians Abroad
Earlier this week, in the course of answering a question in an interview in London with British newspaper The Telegraph, Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari gave an insight into his thinking that promptly kicked off a firestorm on Nigerian social media. Here’s the relevant section of that wide-ranging interview: A number of Nigerians use the migrant routes to come to the UK to claim asylum, saying their lives are at risk from Boko Haram. Is is legitimate for them to do so? “Some Nigerians claim is that life is too difficult back home, but then again some Nigerians have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in different prisons all over the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking. I don’t think Nigerians have anybody to blame. They can remain at home. Their services are required to rebuild the country. If their countrymen misbehaved, the best thing for them is to stay at home and encourage the credibility of the nation.” Do you think that Nigerians have an image problem abroad? “Certainly. But we are on our way to salvage that. We will encourage our countrymen to stay at home, work hard and make a respectable living at home.”  Quartz

Five Years after Egypt’s Arab Spring: ‘We Didn’t Need a Revolution’
It was a day Ahmed Hassan will never forget. He was in Tahrir Square in the heart of the Egyptian capital, the nexus of the Arab Spring revolution. It was around sunset, and the crowds were dancing and reciting poetry. It was the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule. “It was the most beautiful moment when we heard of Mubarak’s resignation,” said Hassan, a youthful 29-year-old in his dreadlocks and a green hoodie. “I danced and was overjoyed. We were all happy together.” On Thursday, it will have been five years since Mubarak was forced out of power. His ouster ushered in the anticipation of democracy and freedoms. Instead, Egyptians were thrust into one of the most uncertain and repressive periods of their modern history — its denouement still unfolding today. The anniversary passed quietly across Egypt and no visible signs of people commemorating Mubarak’s downfall. The Washington Post

Chad’s President Deby Assumes the Mantel of Statesman
Although he’s been around for a long time – 26 years and counting – Idriss Deby doesn’t enjoy quite the same profile (or notoriety) as other African leaders of his ilk, such as Robert Mugabe or Teodoro Obiang. But a recent push to insert Chad into regional affairs, coupled with Deby’s recent appointment as chairperson of the African Union is changing this perception. Daily Maverick

The UK Needs to Stay Out of Zimbabwe’s Succession Politics
Last week, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai sparked controversy in Zimbabwe when he claimed that foreign diplomats he’d spoken to had revealed a preference over who the country’s next president should be. Speaking to journalists, the MDC-T party leader said: “I was with one of the ambassadors [in Harare] who was talking about [Vice-President Emmerson] Mnangagwa being a pragmatist”. Tsvangirai’s suggestion that Western diplomats favour Mnangagwa made headline news in Zimbabwe and re-energised debates about who will eventually succeed the 91-year-old President Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa, a seasoned minister within the ruling ZANU-PF, is seen as one of the most likely candidates. African Arguments

Chad’s Former Ruler Habre Awaits Ruling in Landmark Human Rights Trial
Chad’s former ruler Hissene Habre faces a three-month wait to learn his fate after a landmark human rights trial in Senegal at which victims gave harrowing accounts of arbitrary detention, torture and prisoners being forced to dig mass graves. Prosecutors recommended life in prison during closing arguments to the court this week if Habre is convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. Defence lawyers were addressing the court on Thursday, and the three judges are expected to rule in May. Habre ruled from 1982 to 1990, when he fled into exile in Senegal. Two years later, a truth commission in Chad said 40,000 acts of political murder and torture occurred during his tenure, mostly by his feared Documentation and Security Directorate. It is the first time one country’s domestic courts have tried a former leader of another on human rights charges, and activists say this route could provide an alternative to the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague. That matters in Africa, where some leaders criticize the ICC as neo-colonial for focusing heavily on abuses committed on the continent, and some countries have threatened to leave.  Reuters

Renamo Warned Not to Block Roads
The Mozambican police have warned the former rebel movement Renamo that it will use all means in its power to prevent the Renamo militia from blocking the country’s roads. The police were responding to a threat made at a press conference on Monday in the central city of Beira by Horacio Calavete, the Renamo head of mobilisation in Sofala province, who claimed he was speaking on behalf of Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, currently living in a bush camp somewhere in Gorongosa district. Calavete said Dhlakama’s instructions were that the Renamo militia should set up armed road blocks on the main north-south highway between the Save river and the Inchope crossroads in Manica province. There would also be “control points” on the roads from Inchope to Caia, and the bridge over the Zambezi River, and from Inchope to the western city of Tete. Calavete said the decision had been taken in protest against the alleged murder and kidnapping of Renamo members and officials “every day”. IOL News

South African MPs Walk Out en Masse During Zuma’s State of the Union Address
South Africa’s parliament was thrown into chaos for the second year running on Thursday as opposition MPs shouted abuse at scandal-hit Jacob Zuma, calling on him to resign before walking out en masse as he delivered his State of the Nation address. Mr Zuma’s speech was delayed for an hour and he was forced to repeatedly sit after opposition MPs lined up to filibuster with points of order about his sacking of the respected finance minister and public spending on his private home. Outside, one of the biggest deployments of police and other security staff since the end of apartheid in 1990 monitored protests by thousands of people for and against the president, who won a second term in office in 2014. Julius Malema, Mr Zuma’s one-time protege, now his fiercest critic, led the protests by members of his Economic Freeedom Fighters party, who dress in red and wear berets to reflect their socialist agenda.  The Telegraph

Egypt’s Brotherhood Torn by Divisions
On the night of August 13, 2013, Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad Haddad sat in a stairwell of a building next to Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque, and said: “We need a miracle.” Police moved in to disperse a sprawling Islamist protest camp in the mosque and an adjacent square the next morning, and within 12 hours about 700 demonstrators had been shot dead. Gunmen among the crowds killed around 10 policemen. Thousands of Islamists, including Haddad and much of the Brotherhood leadership, have been arrested since. No one in what remains of the organisation, now torn by internal rifts, seems to know how it can recover. Only five years ago, the Brotherhood was in a very different position. News 24

Cairo’s Soviet-Style Silencing
This week, dozens of Middle Eastern artists and performers are being welcomed and celebrated at Bill T. Jones’s renowned annual Live Ideas event. This year’s festival, titled “MENA/Future Cultural Transformations in the Middle East North Africa Region,” is focused on cultural transformations in the region and features films, lectures, panels, and community dialogues with MENA artists, addressing ideas and ideals through the lens of culture, all in an effort to forge a third way forward, in a world engulfed by terror and tyranny. On Monday night, I had the privilege to co-host the opening keynote event of the festival with the Arab world’s most recognized comedian, Bassem Youssef, a.k.a. “Egypt’s own Jon Stewart.” Sadly, Egyptians no longer can enjoy Youssef’s work or many of these other national treasures in their own country. If you are an artist or intellectual in Egypt, your choices are stark: Give up your creative freedom, or be forced into exile by the vicious authoritarian regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose government murders, imprisons, and intimidates would-be critics into collective silence.  Foreign Policy

Drought Spells Disaster for Somali Herders
Two consecutive seasons of drought across northern Somalia are driving tens of thousands of pastoralists into hunger and debt. Abdilahi Mohamed had 20 cattle in August. Only five now survive. He herded his animals 250 kilometers – from his home in Faraweyne to Banka Geriyaad, northwest of Hargeisa, capital of Somaliland region – in the hope that the Hays rainy season (December to February) had generated enough fresh pasture there. “But before I got there people had already moved in and finished it all,” he told IRIN. It’s a similar situation in the autonomous state of Puntland, to the east. Mohamoud Ahmed told IRIN by phone from Sanag region, one of the hardest-hit areas, that he had “lost a number” of his herd. “My entire family is now in a critical situation: no water, no food, no nothing. Young ones and the elderly are suffering a lot. Sometimes I buy a drum of water for $120 – when I can afford it.”  IRIN

Angola Faces Health Crisis as Oil Price Fall Leads to Cutbacks
When a plunge in oil prices prompted Angola’s government to slash public spending last year, street trader Antonio Simao Baptista had no idea it would leave his rundown suburb overwhelmed by filth and disease. The budget of Africa’s second largest oil exporter has been cut again this year and is 40 percent lower than two years ago. Public services including rubbish collection and water sanitation, are overlooked by contractors who aren’t being paid or can’t import equipment due to foreign exchange shortages, contributing so a surge in deadly diseases. “Look at the garbage and also the water we drink is filthy. The water in my home is brown. I was raised in the colonial-era and I have never seen this before,” said Baptista, 60, swatting away flies and mosquitoes swarming overhead. Reuters

Solar-Powered Wells Ease Conflict over Water in Kenya’s Rift Valley
With her year-old baby strapped on her back, Christine Lenganya, 25, lifts and balances a 20-litre jerrycan of water on her head. The mother of four leaves the borehole and follows a rocky footpath that weaves through dense acacia trees uphill to her home. This is the second of two trips she makes daily to the nearby communal well, fitted with a solar-powered pump. Before the well was drilled, Lenganya had to make a long trip morning and evening to a dam 7 kilometres (4 miles) away. “Life was so hard, and I could hardly do any meaningful work at home. I arrived tired, and the little water I brought was not even enough for use in the family,” Lenganya said. Her husband used to walk the same distance each day to take his seven cattle to the dam to drink. At other times, when the area’s rivers and dams dried up, Lenganya’s family – and many others in Kenya’s West Pokot County – were forced to go and look for water in neighbouring counties. That often led to conflict with the Turkana, Tugen and Samburu people over scarce pasture and water in the north Rift Valley. Daily Nation



Photo: Adam Jones