Media Review for December 8, 2015

US killed al-Shabaab Senior Leader in Somalia Airstrike, Pentagon Says
The Pentagon said on Monday the US killed a senior leader of the al-Shabaab extremist group last week, in an airstrike in Somalia. The spokesman also said the US had confirmed that a 13 November airstrike killed a senior Islamic State leader in Libya known as Abu Nabil. The strike on 2 December that killed three was announced by a Pentagon spokesman, who identified the targeted al-Shabaab senior leader as Abdirahman Sandhere and said he was also known as Ukash. Al-Shabaab, an Islamic extremist group, is responsible for numerous attacks in east Africa, particularly Kenya. US officials had said shortly after the Libya attack that Nabil likely had died. By coincidence that airstrike, carried out by F-15 aircraft on a compound in the city of Derna, happened just as the Paris terrorist attacks were under way.  The Guardian

US fighter Flees al-Shabab after ISIL Allegiance Row
A middle-aged American citizen who had been fighting for al-Shabab in Somalia has fled the group after angering its leadership with a pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Abdul Malik Jones surrendered himself to an African Union military base in Barawe in southern Somalia on Monday morning, senior al-Shabab sources and government officials told Al Jazeera. “No one expected him, according to officials, and he has now been airlifted and is being kept [by the government] in Mogadishu,” Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow said. Al-Shabab is fighting to overthrow Somalia’s government and establish a state based on its interpretation of Islamic law. Sources in the armed group told Al Jazeera that Jones had recently become aligned with ISIL, a move that al-Shabab, which is aligned with al-Qaeda, punishes by death.  Al Jazeera

Kenya: Outrage as Shallow Graves with Fresh Corpses Found in Mandera
Shallow graves with 12 corpses including a woman’s have been discovered in Lethe area of Arabia Ward in Mandera East constituency sparking fear of a return of extra-judicial killings in an area where police and military forces have been battling Al Shabaab militants. The graves were, serendipitously, discovered on Sunday by herdsmen in thickets in a remote village identified as Lethe, about 30 kilometres, south of Mandera town on the main highway to Wajir. Pictures of the apparently fresh dead bodies were posted on social media sparking an outrage by local leaders who believe these are victims of extrajudicial killings. Besides Al Shabaab militants there are several armed groups and brigands in a volatile area and local activists claim 28 local youths have been snatched away by local police and military officers in recent months, without trace. Standard Digital

Kenya Police Shootings Kill Hundreds Since 2009, Rights Group Says
Police and security forces are responsible for nearly 300 gun-related killings and dozens more injuries in the past two years, including cases of summary execution and stray bullets striking bystanders, a Kenyan rights group says. Jeremy Mutiso, 28, was chatting with friends near his home in Mathare one Sunday evening in June 2011 when a demonstration started. Police arrived to break it up. “From where I was watching,” Mutiso said, “I heard four bullets, gunshots, and the fourth one was so loud. … when I was trying to run to our house, my hand couldn’t move.” One hand was in his back pocket, he said, and he was unable to pull it out. People running behind him told him that he had been shot and was bleeding. Mutiso said it took hours to get to the hospital, where he stayed for two weeks. VOA

Who Profits from Kenya’s War in Somalia?
It has been more than four years since the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) crossed the border into Somalia, and Kenyans are entitled to ask what exactly their troops are still doing there. The official rationale is no longer entirely convincing. The original purpose of the military intervention was to insulate the country from the conflict in Somalia. ‘Kenya has been and remains an island of peace, and we shall not allow criminals from Somalia, which has been fighting for over two decades, to destabilise our peace,’ said George Saitoti, the internal security minister at the time. It is debatable whether that aim has been achieved. Although Operation Linda Nchi (‘Protect the Nation’) curtailed the operations of al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group has claimed responsibility for dozens of incidents on Kenyan soil in recent years. This includes the high-profile attacks on Westgate Mall and Garissa University. ISS

Kenya and Ethiopia Sign $196m Peace Deal
Kenya and Ethiopia on Monday signed a $196 million (Sh20 billion) five-year deal that will spur development and end conflict along their border. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn witnessed Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed and her Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom ink the agreement. “This is a historic a function. The presence of the Prime Minister is a reminder of Ethiopia’s commitment to deeper relationship between the countries and the people,” President Kenyatta said. Africa Review

20 Judges Sacked in Ghana after Corruption Sting
Twenty judges implicated in a high-profile investigation into bribe-taking in Ghana have been sacked, the country’s Judicial Council announced Monday. The dismissals came after hearings before a five-member disciplinary committee appointed by Ghana’s chief justice Georgina Wood focusing on undercover footage shot by a local newspaper. Twenty-two lower court judges and magistrates were initially identified as well as 12 high court judges in a case that has rocked the west African nation. All were suspended pending the investigation. One judge among the 21 lower court judges was removed after being mistakenly named as part of the probe. AFP on Globalpost

French Judge Issues Arrest Warrant for Ivory Coast Parliament Speaker
A French judge has issued an arrest warrant for Ivory Coast’s parliament speaker Guillaume Soro after he failed to appear in connection with a case brought against him by the former Ivorian president’s son, judicial sources said on Monday. Guillaume Soro, a former rebel leader turned politician, was prime minister when fighters under his command captured Michel Gbagbo, son of Ivory Coast’s ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, at the end of a brief civil war in April 2011. Held in detention until 2013, Michel Gbagbo filed a complaint in France accusing Soro and other senior figures in the former New Forces rebellion of “kidnapping, false imprisonment and inhumane and degrading treatment”. Michel Gbagbo holds both French and Ivorian citizenship. Reuters

UN Official: Action in Burundi Isn’t Sufficient to Threat
Regional and international action in Burundi at the moment isn’t sufficient to address the threat of escalating human rights violations and potential mass atrocities, a United Nations official said Monday. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic told reporters that Burundi is “a clear case” in which human rights violations currently taking place should serve as a warning that more ambitious actions are needed to prevent a worsening of violence. President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term, which he won in a disputed election, has triggered months of violence, including an abortive coup attempt. At least 240 people have been killed since April and about 215,000 others have fled to neighboring countries, according to the U.N. Both opponents and supporters of the government have been killed in apparent revenge attacks. AP on ABC News

China to Build Navy Base in Djibouti: Djiboutian Minister
China is to build its first naval base in Djibouti, the Djiboutian foreign minister said Friday, in the latest sign of China’s growing international security presence. Djibouti is seen as a key strategic location in the Horn of Africa, with United States, France and Japan already having facilities in the country. “The negotiations have come to an end and the naval base will be built in Djibouti,” Mahamoud Ali Youssouf told AFP on the sidelines of a summit of African leaders in Johannesburg. “The goal of the base is to fight against pirates… and most of all to secure the Chinese ships using this very important strait that is important to all the countries in the world.” “For Djibouti, it’s an additional strategic ally.”  Defence Talk

China Base in Djibouti Reflects Economic, Africa Strategy
Head of the Africa program at the London-based Chatham House, Alex Vines, said the Chinese are experimenting with this new base. “They still want to clearly emphasize that China is different from other powers in Africa, so it’s not like France, that has military bases in various places, or the U.S. that has a military base at Camp Lemonnier, so they’re framing this as just a naval facility. In effect, though, this is about Chinese experimentation, longer term, how will African governments react?” Vines said. Alexander Neil, a senior fellow at the Institute for Strategic Studies Asia office in Singapore, said the Chinese are enlarging their footprint in Africa in other ways as well, a foreign trade and investment strategy known as “one belt, one road.” It refers to setting land and maritime trade routes, a kind of modern-day version of the historical Silk Road. VOA

No Libyan Military Intervention Says NATO Chief
NATO should not be thinking of intervening militarily in Libya according to its chief Jens Stoltenberg. ‘If a unity government is formed, we are ready to help it and provide assistance,” he said, adding “we are not discussing a major new military operation in Libya and I will not be recommending it”. The NATO Secretary General was speaking in Rome today ahead of next Sunday’s international conference called in his capital by Italian premier Matteo Renzi. Renzi has moderated indications in September that he did not rule out Italian involvement in an international peace-keeping force. However last week he said that intervening in Libya “is not on the agenda at the moment. We would rue the consequences of any intervention without a clear strategy”.  Libya Herald

Militant Group Publishes Photo of what it Says were Mali Hotel Attackers
Islamist militant group al Mourabitoun published a photograph on Monday of two men dressed in military fatigues it said attacked a luxury hotel in Mali’s capital on Nov. 20 and killed 20 people, the SITE monitoring group said. The image shows the young men holding AK-47 rifles and standing in front of a pick-up truck bearing a black flag with Arabic writing that is apparently an emblem of a militant group. “Two knights from the knights of martyrdom … carried out an operation on the Radisson hotel, killing in it dozens of foreigners of various nationalities,” read a photo caption in Arabic that named the two men. It was not possible to confirm independently whether the men who assaulted the Radisson Blu and died during their operation were the ones shown in the photograph. Mali state television last month showed photographs of the corpses of two men it said were the attackers.  Reuters

In War with Boko Haram, Nigerians Battle to Keep the Classroom Door Open
You could easily miss the school gate that sits along this dusty, winding road on the outskirts of town. Which is the point: Its anonymity protects those who live and work behind it from prying eyes. But after much back-and-forth with a suspicious guard, the gates swing open to reveal a vibrant burst of activity. A scrum of boys chase after a soccer ball on a new playground, their donated clothing hanging loosely on their slight frames. Others play on freshly painted swings perched cheerfully in front of classrooms and dormitories. As their laughter floats through the air, the children at this school in Nigeria’s predominantly Muslim north seem blissfully unaware of their role in formulating a response to Boko Haram, the militant group that has killed thousands of Nigerians while forcing boys into war and girls into slavery. CS Monitor

Nigeria: Sambisa Air Strikes Hit Boko Haram as military Scrambles to Meet December Deadline
The Nigerian military is working around the clock to defeat Boko Haram by the end of December, defence spokesperson Rabe Abubakar told IBTimes UK. The colonel made the comment as the military announced it carried out air strikes in the Sambisa forest, Borno state, believed to be one of the terrorists’ last major strongholds. Referring to the December deadline given by President Muhammadu Buhari to defeat the militants, Abubakar said: “There have been lots of operations and activities towards meeting the deadline. We are not relaxing and we are trying to ensure we are doing all we can to subdue the terror activities.”  International Business Times

Ooni of Ife: New Yoruba King Crowned in Nigeria
A 40-year-old accountant has been crowned the new Ooni of Ife – a revered monarch in south-west Nigeria. The new king Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is now one of the most influential among the Yoruba people, Nigeria’s second biggest ethnic group, of about 35 million in West Africa. Tens of thousands celebrated in the city of Ife, AFP reports. He told the BBC he does not intend to get involved in politics, wants unity and will stand for “forthrightness”. The new king said to the BBC’s Umar Shehu Elleman that he doesn’t want supremacy among leaders. Instead “we just want to lead by example, do things right and foster unity,” he said. BBC

Kagame Slams ‘Other Nations’ over Third Term Criticisms
Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Sunday lashed out at “other nations” for interfering in his country’s internal affairs after criticism over a move that would allow him to extend his rule. “We can be good friends, we can agree to disagree but there is a line when it comes to the interest of Rwandans,” Kagame, aged 58, told the leadership of his Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR). “They tell us we should have the right to make our own choices, but our choices then become defined as manoeuvring,” he said in quotes relayed by the FPR’s Twitter account. “Our actions do not correspond to the wishes of other nations,” he said. The Rwandan Senate last month passed a constitutional amendment that reduces presidential terms from seven to five years and maintains the two-term limit but makes an exception for Kagame, allowing him to run in 2017 for a third seven-year term, at the end of which the new rules come into force.  News 24

S. Sudan Gov’t Still Rejects‘Big Number’ of SPLM-IO’s Advance Team
South Sudanese government under the leadership of president Salva Kiir has reiterated its rejection to the expected return to Juba of hundreds of members of the advance team from the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) under the leadership of former vice-president and first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, for the implementation of the peace agreement signed in August between the warring parties. Earlier, officials of the opposition group told Sudan Tribune that the advance team per the list submitted by the SPLM-IO would start to travel to Juba on Friday, 11 December, according to the arrangements made through the East African regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Sudan Tribune

PK12 Symbol of Rift Between CAR’s Christians, Muslims
Minutes after the passenger-laden convoy of trucks pulled out of Bangui’s PK12 neighborhood in April 2014, mobs stormed past the cordon of soldiers that had held them back. With their rightful owners gone, everything in the neighborhood was up for grabs. Looters absconded with doors and roofs. They pillaged the mosque, shattering its windows and taking its furniture. And some simply moved in, taking over houses where Muslims once lived. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called the conflict in the Central African Republic “ethno-religious cleansing.” VOA

Uganda Democracy Shrinking – AI
The Ugandan government is reducing democratic space in this East African country ahead of February polls in which long-term President Yoweri Museveni will seek to extend his almost 30-year rule, an international rights organization said on Monday. Uganda’s police have arbitrarily arrested opposition candidates and dispersed their campaign rallies ahead of the February 18 presidential and parliamentary elections, Amnesty International said. “Excessive force” used by police to disrupt the opposition gatherings is hindering the ability of Ugandans to receive information and engage with the opposition ahead of the elections, says the report, citing the arrests of the main opposition candidates, Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye, and their supporters between July and October.  News 24

Cape Verde on Alert over Viral Disease Outbreak
Cape Verde has reported the outbreak of Zika, a viral disease. Health officials have recorded 4,182 cases of Zika virus infections over the past two months. “Since October 2 when Zika virus was confirmed for the first time in Cape Verde, 4,182 cases have been diagnosed on three islands,” Health minister Cristina Fontes Lima, told the Portuguese news agency, Lusa, on Sunday. She added: “46 cases where diagnosed on Fogo Island, 322 on Maio and the remaining on Santiago,” pointing out that there were no fatalities so far. Africa Review

Enough! Will Youth Protests Drive Social Change in Africa?
Young people in Africa have changed governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Burkina Faso, and recently staged major demonstrations in South Africa and the Republic of Congo. Disillusioned young people continue to take to the streets in various African cities. But they are also reacting in other ways: some migrate and look for opportunities elsewhere, while others are lured into joining radical organisations such as Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Young people’s transitions to adulthood have become increasingly uncertain. Economic growth in recent decades has not translated into job creation or greater equity, and a growing number of young women and men, both educated and non-educated, find themselves unemployed or underemployed. They are unable to attain the social markers of adulthood such as a secure job, marriage and a family. Trapped between childhood and adulthood, they are living in a twilight zone, a liminal space that has now become known as “waithood”.  African Arguments

Divorce Rate Spikes after Tanzania Poll
Up to 50 women in Zanzibar have been divorced for taking part in the recent Tanzanian elections against the will of their husbands, according to lawyers and women’s rights campaigners. Mzuri Issa, coordinator of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, said 47 women were divorced for voting contrary to their husband’s orders in a tightly-fought ballot that remains undecided. Issa added some women did not take part in the election for fear of being divorced or for fear of violence, while others complained that they were forced to cast ballots for candidates they did not support. The divorces were confirmed by the Zanzibar Female Lawyers Association (ZFLA) and the Mwanakerekwe district Kadhi court in Zanzibar. IOL News

Kenyans Mock ‘visiting’ President over Jet-Setting
#KoT (Kenyans on Twitter) have taken aim at Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for his frequent foreign travel. Using the hashtag #UhuruInKenya, a play on the #ObamaInKenya tag used when the US leader visited in July, they mocked Kenyatta as though he were a leader on an official visit.  Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones