Media Review for December 7, 2015

Libya’s Rival Governments Shun UN, Sign Separate Peace Deal
Lawmakers from Libya’s rival parliaments have reached a power-sharing agreement in Tunisia, shunning a U.N.-brokered deal to avoid the “foreign intervention” tainting it, an internationally recognized government representative said Sunday. However, it appeared the deal had failed to gain broad acceptance by either side, with representatives from both parliaments coming out to slam the newly minted agreement. Libya slid into chaos following the 2011 toppling and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The oil-rich country has been torn between an internationally recognized government in the far east and Islamist-backed government in the capital, Tripoli. AP

Risk of Huge IS Influx into Libya, France Warns
There is an increasing risk of Libya becoming a haven for combatants from Islamic State, even as western nations target the extremist jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, the French defence minister warned in comments published Sunday. “We see foreign jihadists arriving in the region of Syrte (northern Libya) who, if our operations in Syria and Iraq succeed in reducing the territorial reach of Daesh (Islamic State, IS) could tomorrow be more numerous,” defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the Jeune Afrique weekly. Le Drian ruled out military intervention in Libya but warned the West had to try to foster Libyan unity in the face of such a threat. AFP on Yahoo News

France Flies Surveillance Missions over IS Group-Held Territory in Libya
French military aircraft have flown reconnaissance and intelligence missions over Libya, including areas controlled by Islamic State, and more are planned, a presidential document shows. According to the press dossier provided on Friday ahead of President Francois Hollande’s visit to the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria, two missions were flown on Nov. 20 and 21 around the towns of Sirte and Tobruk. French warplanes have been bombing Islamic State in Iraq for more than a year, and in Syria since September. France stepped up its bombing in Syria after the attacks by Islamic State (IS) in Paris on Nov. 13 that killed 130 people. The French government had not previously acknowledged carrying out operations over IS zones in Libya. Sirte is controlled by the group. France 24

Warplanes in Libyan Skies May Signal Next Major Battle in Fight to Contain Islamic State
Libyans have become expert sky watchers. On many days, social media fills with pictures of the latest American drone or spy plane making low passes over Sirte, the local headquarters of Islamic State. There are grainy snaps of the squat, white Lockheed P-3 Orions, and hazier captures of dark drones, while discussion over a twin-engined aircraft that makes figure-of-eight passes could fill a chatroom. With the intensification of bombing of the terror group in Syria, Libya’s sky watchers think airstrikes are imminent. Speculation about airstrikes heightened last week when the UN reported what intelligence agencies have been saying for months – that Libya has become Isis’s fallback position. More than 800 fighters sent from Libya to battle in Syria and Iraq have now made the journey the other way, as Isis expands its Libyan caliphate. The Guardian

Burkina Faso Coup Leader Charged over Sankara Murder
Authorities in Burkina Faso have charged a general who led a failed coup in September with complicity in the 1987 assassination of President Thomas Sankara, senior security sources have told the Reuters news agency. “General Gilbert Diendere is formally charged in the Thomas Sankara case,” a senior security source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters, adding Diendere had been charged last month. Mathieu Some, Diendere’s lawyer, told Reuters on Sunday that his client had been charged over Sankara’s death and he would prepare his legal defence. The charges are yet to be made public. Ten others, less senior than Diendere, have already been charged, Reuters reported. The senior security official said most were soldiers in the elite presidential guard of former President Blaise Compaore, who was ousted in October 2014. Al Jazeera

Why Data Was Crucial to Burkina Faso’s First Election Since Uprising
Democratic elections in transitional states are never straightforward. With limited experience to draw on, finite resources and a lack of transparency, it’s not uncommon for rumours, tensions and civil unrest to overshadow the process and undermine faith in the results. But by midday on Monday 30 November – the day after Burkina Faso’s presidential election – citizens had a reliable early indication of who would be their first elected head of state since the overthrow of strongman Blaise Compaoré last year. The difference was clear. For the first time, the results of the count were made openly available in real time. The official election website showed live results by district for each presidential candidate, and which candidate was leading in each province. The Guardian

Nigeria’s Biafran Separatist Upsurge
The month-long demonstrations by pro-separatist ethnic Ibo youth in south-east Nigeria degenerated into violence on 2 December. At least eight of the thousands of protestors who had blocked the strategic Niger Bridge at Onitsha, Anambra state (linking the predominantly Ibo south east to western parts of the country) as well as two policemen, were killed. Demonstrators set fire to the city’s central mosque and eight trucks belonging to Dangote Group, a conglomerate owned by northern billionaire Aliko Dangote. Crisis Group’s Nigeria Analyst NNAMDI OBASI discusses Nigeria’s new struggle with supporters of the short-lived, secessionist Republic of Biafra, which was defeated by federal forces in 1970.  International Crisis Group

Nigeria’s $500m Typing Error over MTN Fine
Nigeria’s telecom regulator says it made a $500m (£330m) typing error when announcing a reduction in a massive fine imposed on Africa’s largest mobile operator, MTN. The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) initially said the $5.2bn fine had been reduced to $3.4bn. But NCC spokesman Tony Ojobo says the correct amount is $3.9bn (£2.5bn). The original sanction was imposed in October for failing to cut off unregistered users.  BBC

With Burundi’s President Sticking to Power, Violence Is on the Rise
On a recent Sunday when many people were still out enjoying the warm night air, a squad of gunmen burst into the Bwiza street market and started shooting. The gunfire raked across the thatched stalls and iron shanties. When the smoke cleared and residents stood over the bodies, they could not make sense of it: A meat seller? A night watchman? A boy asleep in bed? What was the point of such an attack? Others shrugged, saying it was just another weekend in Burundi. Ever since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza said he would run for a contentious third term, this verdant little country in central Africa has had an ominous cloud hanging over it. There have been deadly protests, an attempted coup, heightened ethnic tension and a rat-tat-tat of violence that is sudden, shadowy, hard to decipher, and often gory — bodies found with hands tied, corpses missing fingers, a severed head discovered in a swamp. Many of the killings occur on the weekends, when more people are hanging out in the streets or meeting up at bars. The New York Times

Escaping Burundi: Life in refuge
When Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for re-election despite a constitutional two-term limit, unrest erupted in a nation whose history is haunted by genocide and civil war. Assassination attempts, house raids and a failed coup have characterised the past months of crisis forcing more than 240,000 people to flee to neighbouring countries and seek refuge in Tanzania’s refugee camps. Up to 60 percent of at least 110,000 Burundian refugees who have fled to Tanzania’s refugee camps since April are children under the age of 18.  Al Jazeera

Algerian President Returns Home after French Medical Checks
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has returned home after a brief visit to France for routine medical checkups, the presidency said in a statement carried by the APS state news service on Saturday. Bouteflika, 78, who suffered a stroke in 2013, traveled to France on Thursday. He has been seen mostly in brief television images or in photographs on state media since winning a fourth term in office last year. Bouteflika won his re-election in 2014 promising stability and strong security policies in a region where many neighbouring countries are struggling with Islamist militant attacks. Under Bouteflika’s government, Algeria has become a partner in Washington’s campaign against Islamist militants in the Maghreb and a major supplier of natural gas to Europe since emerging from its own 1990s war with Islamist fighters. Reuters

Lesotho to Dispute Report on General’s Death
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) expressed “great concern” on Saturday that the Lesotho government had launched a legal challenge to the report of a Commission of Inquiry into the killing of former army chief General Maaparankoe Mahao on June 25 this year. President Jacob Zuma, Mozambique President Filip Nyusi and a senior Tanzanian official mandated Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa – SADC’s facilitator in the Lesotho crisis – “to expeditiously communicate the concerns of Sadc to the Kingdom of Lesotho.” They met as the troika of SADC’s security organ, after the summit of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (Focac). Ramaphosa and SADC Executive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax also attended the troika meeting. IOL News

Museveni Seeks Chinese Funding for East African Railway
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni wants the Chinese government to prioritise the building of a railway line linking Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo said on Friday. Museveni told the forum on China-Africa cooperation in Johanesburg, South Africa that the 3000 km railway link will help develop the region. “Our urgent need that we would like the Chinese government to look at is the building of the regional Standard Gauge Railway that will link Uganda with Kenya at Malaba, Rwanda at Mirama Hills, South Sudan at Nimule and the Democratic Republic of Congo at Aruu,” he said.  Africa Report

C. African Republic Attack Kills 8, Wounds UN Peacekeeper
An attack in Central African Republic by Muslim combatants led to the killing of eight civilians in a camp for the displaced along with five fighters, the United Nations said Friday. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said U.N. peacekeepers intervened in Thursday night’s attack which also injured several displaced people and two ex-Seleka Muslim combatants, and slightly injured a peacekeeper. Central African Republic descended into conflict in 2013 when Muslim rebels overthrew the Christian president. That ushered in a brutal reign. When the rebel leader left power the following year, a swift and horrific backlash against Muslim civilians ensued, and violence has continued. The attack comes days after Pope Francis wrapped up his three-nation Africa tour in Central African Republic, calling for peace and Muslim-Christian reconciliation.  AP on Stars and Stripes

Restoring Africa’s Landscape: 10 Countries Unite to Combat Deforestation
Ten African countries have committed to restoring 100 million hectares of degraded and deforested land across the continent over the next 15 years. The plan, which costs $1.6bn (€1.4bn), will be underpinned by a $1bn investment from the World Bank and the rest from private sector investment. The AFR-100 scheme was launched on Sunday in Paris. It will be backed by almost one billion euros from the World Bank, additional funds from Germany, as well as over half a million euros in private-sector investment. The countries taking part so far are Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda. The new land restoration programme builds on national commitments made by African countries for a UN deal to tackle climate change, due to be agreed in the French capital next week. RFI

Boko Haram: Three Female Suicide Bombers Kill at least 27 People on Island where Refugees Were Seeking Safety
Three female suicide bombers have blown themselves up at a market in Chad, killing at least 27 people. Boko Haram is suspected of orchestrating the blasts on Koulfoua Island in Lake Chad, which borders Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad. Security officials told the Associated Press that at least 90 people were injured in Saturday’s attack, carried out by three women. General Banyaman Cossingar, the director general of Chad’s national police, said there had been no official claim of responsibility but Boko Haram was suspected. The terrorist group has carried out several bombings and massacres in the region, causing the government to impose a state of emergency last month. The Independent

Sudan Rebels, Army Brace for Fighting Season after Peace Talks Flop
Government forces and rebels in Sudan’s war-torn border regions say they are preparing for another bout of fighting after the latest talks in Addis Ababa failed to reach a deal. The African Union-mediated talks ended last month without a temporary ceasefire being agreed in Darfur, mired in conflict since 2003, and South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where rebels have been battling since 2011. Now the rainy season that leaves roads in the regions impassable has ended, both sides are braced for more fighting. “We are preparing to defend ourselves,” said Arnu Lodi of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, which is based in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. “Our troops are in high morale, well trained and prepared,” Lodi said. Sudan’s military also says it is on high alert in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.  AFP on Yahoo News

South Sudan Army Accused of New Attacks in W. Bahr el Ghazal State
South Sudanese armed opposition group, the SPLA-IO, under the leadership of former Vice-President, Riek Machar, said their cantonment areas came under attacks by forces loyal to President Salva Kiir in Western Bahr el-Ghazal state despite the ceasefire deal signed in August by the two warring parties to end the 21 months of violent conflict in the country. Official spokesman of the opposition leadership confirmed that attacks were reported on Saturday on their bases. “Forces loyal to the regime in Juba have continued to target our cantonment areas in clear violation of the ceasefire and security arrangements,” said James Gatdet Dak.  Sudan Tribune

Rumor Mill Undermines Peacekeepers in CAR
The United Nations peacekeepers stationed in Guy-Amour Bockoumou’s neighborhood are there to protect him; but, he doesn’t trust them. The Fatima district of the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui, has been the scene of repeated clashes between Christian militias and fighters from PK5, the capital’s besieged Muslim neighborhood. Bockoumou, however, says the Burundian peacekeepers deployed in the neighborhood as part of the United Nations’ MINUSCA peacekeeping force haven’t done enough to stop fighters from burning houses. And he’s heard rumors that the U.N. soldiers have even transported in Muslim fighters to attack Fatima — although he stresses he’s never seen that personally. VOA

Seychelles Presidential Race Heads Into Second Round
The Seychelles will go into a presidential election runoff on Dec. 16 after all the six candidates in the first round failed to secure a 50 percent share of the vote, the chairman of the electoral commission said on Sunday. The Indian Ocean archipelago nation of 115 islands and 93,000 people went to the polls to pick a new president on Dec. 3 in the three-day vote. The incumbent President James Michel, 71, won 47.76 percent of the 62,004 votes that were cast, while his closest challenger, Wavel Ramkalawan, a 54-year old Anglican priest, scored 33.93 percent. “We will have to go into a second round,” said Hendrick Gappy, the chairman of the Seychelles Electoral Commission.  Reuters

Bamako Hotel Hostage Taking was Joint Attack: Qaeda
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said last month’s hostage taking at a hotel in Mali’s capital Bamako was a joint operation with another jihadist group, in an audio message posted Friday. “The lions of Al-Murabitoun brigade… have joined Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, so that they are one sword in the throat of their first enemy, Crusader France and its agents in the area,” said AQIM chief Abdelmalek Droukdel, an Algerian. The attack in Bamako underlined their new unity “with blood and sweat”, he said. Meanwhile, Al-Murabitoun, the group of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, confirmed in an audio recording that it is joining AQIM. AFP on Yahoo News

In Nigeria, Chinese Investment Comes With a Downside
[…] The relationship between China and Nigeria is a complex web of dependency, one replicated in dozens of developing countries around the world, like Chile, Ethiopia and Indonesia. Such ties are integral to China’s global ambitions. President Xi Jinping of China, who was in Africa this week emphasizing economic diplomacy, just committed $60 billion in development assistance to the Continent. But such efforts also pose new and unpredictable challenges for Beijing. China has lent heavily to commodity-exporting countries, which are now struggling with low commodity prices. At the same time, China’s highly competitive manufacturing sector has devastated many smaller-scale rivals across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Mr. Xi’s pledge in Africa, in part, seemed aimed at quelling criticism over what some see as a lopsided relationship that largely benefits China. To support its swelling trade in Nigeria, China is funneling billions of dollars to build roads, rail lines, airport terminals, power plants and other desperately needed infrastructure. China is the top lender to Nigeria, where political instability and violence have made Western interests skittish.  The New York Times

China, Africa Call for Homegrown Solutions to Solving African Crises
Fifty African countries and China wrapped up a landmark summit on Saturday vowing to push for homegrown solutions to solve Africa’s peace and security woes. The leaders met for what South African President Jacob Zuma dubbed “historic” talks, aimed at bolstering ties between the continent and its major trading partner. In a declaration adopted in Johannesburg the leaders pledged to “continue to support each other on security matters and maintain peace and security.” “We remain committed to seeking the peaceful settlement of disputes through dialogue and consultation, and China supports Africa in its efforts to solve African problems through African solutions,” they said in the declaration. France 24

5 Myths About Chinese Investment in Africa
[…] The first — and most damaging — myth is that China is in Africa only to extract natural resources. There is no question that the continent’s vast natural resource endowments are a big draw for Chinese firms — just as they are for Western oil and minerals giants like Shell, ExxonMobil, and Glencore. Yet even in oil-rich countries like Nigeria, this is far from the whole story. In 2014 alone, Chinese companies signed over $70 billion in construction contracts in Africa that will yield vital infrastructure, provide jobs, and boost the skill set of the local workforce. Technology companies have also done much to accelerate local development. More than a decade ago, the Chinese telecom firm Huawei established its West African training school in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. Ever since, it has been honing the skills of local engineers who are rolling out the cell phone networks that underpin Africa’s telecommunications revolution. The story is the same in other sectors: Our China Africa Research Initiative team at Johns Hopkins University, which has sought to map Chinese engagement and analyze its impact, found Chinese factories in Nigeria employing Nigerians and producing building materials, light bulbs, ceramics, and steel from salvaged ships. As one Nigerian official told me in a 2009 interview, “The Chinese are trying to get involved in every sector of our economy.”  Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones