Media Review for February 10, 2016

Tanzania President Backs New Zanzibar Polls
Tanzanian President John Magufuli has backed an election re-run for Zanzibar despite an opposition boycott and international fears that a fresh poll could trigger violence. Last year’s vote in Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands was scrapped, but diplomats from 15 nations expressed concern that the election commission annulled it “without having provided evidence to substantiate its claim that irregularities had taken place”. But Magufuli said polls were the best way to end the political crisis. “There is no better way to solve the political impasse in Zanzibar than another round of the ballot box,” Magufuli said in a speech on Monday read to diplomats by Foreign Minister Augustine Mahiga. News 24

Rwanda President Kagame Fires Military Intelligence Chief
President Paul Kagame has fired Rwanda’s head of military intelligence, Major General Richard Rutatina in unclear circumstances. In a statement posted Monday on the Ministry of Defence website, the president and commander-in-chief of the Rwanda Defence Forces dismissed Maj Gen Rutatina from his position commonly known as “J2″, while promoting two other senior military officers. Though reasons for his sacking were not provided, Maj Gen Rutatina leaves office with “immediate effect”. Before his appointment as head of military intelligence in 2013, Maj Gen Rutatina previously served as President Kagame’s adviser on defence and security. He had replaced DCG Dan Munyuza, who is now the deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations. His replacement has not been provided. The East African on allAfrica

AU’s Inaction on Burundi ‘Predictable’
The African Union’s (AU) decision not to send a peacekeeping force to Burundi has been slammed by a Burundi opposition leader, and called inevitable by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria. “It was predictable that the African Union (AU) would have to back down after Burundi called their bluff,” Jakkie Cilliers from ISS told the African News Agency (ANA) on Monday. “Right from the beginning it was highly unlikely that the AU would send peacekeepers. The AU basically set themselves up,” said Cilliers. Disagreement among AU members, fears of being considered an invading force without Burundian cooperation, no authorisation from the United Nations, setting a precedent, and exaggerated reports of genocide were factors in the AU’s about-turn. The AU’s 15-member Peace and Security Council (PSC) member states decided in December 2015 to deploy a 5,000-strong peacekeeping force in Burundi following reports, by members of the AU Commission for Human and People’s Rights of killings, torture and arbitrary arrests, reported the “defenceWeb” news portal. IOL News

Ugandan Opposition General to Spend Polls in Jail
A former Ugandan intelligence chief and critic of President Yoweri Museveni was denied bail on Tuesday, days before elections in which the veteran leader is seeking to extend his 30-year rule. General David Sejusa, 61, has denied all charges against him, including taking part in politics in violation of army law and being absent without leave. The military judge, General Levi Karuhanga, said Sejusa was a possible flight risk and ordered him back to a high security jail until a hearing on February 23. “After hearing from the defence and prosecution side, court hereby rules that General David Sejusa is sent back to Luzira prison,” Karuhanga said. News 24

Pentagon Seeks Funding for Libya, Africa Military Operations
The Pentagon is seeking $200 million in the 2017 budget for counterterrorism operations in Libya and other portions of North and West Africa, but Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday that Libyans must take the lead in eliminating the Islamic State threat in their country. The new funding provides the first concrete indication of what the U.S. military may do to battle the threat, including expanded drone and surveillance flights, strikes and other operations. And it is the first time that the Pentagon has included a separate increase for operations against the Islamic State in Africa. There were no details on how the money would be spent. The $200 million is part of an overall increase in the department’s war funding, including the ongoing effort in Afghanistan, and the airstrikes and training in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State. The war funding request is $58.8 billion for 2017, compared to $58.6 billion this year.  AP

US Military Seeks to Prepare Africa for Shifting Terror Threat
African forces began a U.S.-led counter-terrorism training program Monday in Senegal, amid what a U.S. commander said were rising signs of collaboration between Islamist militant groups across north Africa and the Sahel. The annual “Flintlock” exercises started only weeks after an attack in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou left 30 people dead. The assault on a hotel used by foreigners raised concerns that militants were expanding from a stronghold in north Mali toward stable, Western allies like Senegal. Al-Qaida (AQIM) fighters claimed responsibility for the attack, one of increasingly bold regional strikes in the Sahel, a poor, arid zone between the Sahara Desert and Sudanian Savanna that is home to a number of roving militant groups.  VOA

Obama ‘on the Verge of Taking Action’ in Libya, Corker Says
The Obama administration is “on the verge of taking action” against the Islamic State in Libya, where the terrorist network has flourished in recent months, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told POLITICO on Tuesday. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) declined to describe what kind of action the White House was considering or to put a time-frame on it. But his comments came amid increased chatter in the administration about a greater U.S. military role in Libya, where political turmoil has helped create a vacuum hospitable to jihadist groups. According to some reports, at least 5,000 Islamic State fighters are now operating in the North African country, whose fall into chaos began not long after the U.S. and its allies helped Libyans oust dictator Muammar Qaddafi during the so-called Arab Spring in 2011. In Libya, the Islamic State fighters are said to have more freedom than their territory in Syria and Iraq, where a U.S.-led coalition is targeting them on multiple fronts. Politico

West ‘Can’t Fight Isis in Libya Without a Unity Government’
Islamic State (Isis) in Libya has become a threat to all of Europe and western military intervention may now be required, but only so long as the Libyans can first form a coherent national government, Sir Peter Ricketts, David Cameron’s former national security adviser, has warned. Ricketts, who has just ended a stint as UK ambassador to France, said there was a “very remote” chance UK combat forces would be used, and said airstrikes on their own would be of no use. Western powers have been considering whether any military intervention, such as training Libyan security forces, can help prevent Isis gaining a permanent foothold in the oil-rich country.  The Guardian

Heavy Clashes in Southeast Libya, 30 killed
Two days of clashes in southeastern Libya between a local armed faction and Sudanese fighters have left more than 30 people dead, a local mayor said on Friday. The commander of the Libyan Subul Assalam faction, Abdurrahman Hashim, said the Sudanese fighters were rebels from Sudan’s Darfur region who had moved into the area around the town of Kufra following the uprising that toppled Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. He said his group was retaliating for armed robberies and attempted attacks on Kufra, in Libya’s desert south-east which shares a border with northwestern Sudan. Kufra Mayor Miftah Bou Khalil told Reuters that Subul Assalam fighters attacked an oasis 150 km north-west of Kufra on Friday, killing 10 Sudanese fighters and capturing four.  Reuters on al Arabiya

Tunisia Ministry of Defense Deny Rumours of Western Military Build Up on Libya Border
As military intervention in Libya grows increasingly likely, the Ministry of Defense has denied social media reports of a US and German military buildup on the country’s southeastern border. However, Ministry spokesperson, Belhassen Oueslati did confirm to Tunisia Live that the country is presently receiving technical support from the two western powers in reinforcing security provisions for the newly erected border wall. A US State Department official also specifically denied the presence of any US military bases within Tunisia earlier this afternoon. However, they were able to confirm that, “We are committed to the security of Tunisia and to partnering closely with it to meet common security challenges. The U.S. and Tunisian militaries enjoy and benefit from a very close, cooperative relationship. “We continue to work with various Tunisian units to build counter terrorism capacity. “ Tunisia Live

How Tunisia’s Crooked Cops Are Undermining the Revolution
Something went wrong when Mohammed and his fellow cops raided a terrorist hideout near Tunisia’s border with Algeria last September. It’s not that there was a dangerous firefight, or booby-traps, or that their targets escaped. In fact, there weren’t any terrorists at all — just a couple of smugglers and 129 large cartons of black market Marlboro cigarettes worth almost $100,000. The cops detained the smugglers, loaded up the cigarettes, and headed back to the station in a six-car convoy. But suddenly three of the cars, carrying 100 cartons and the detained smugglers, split off and drove away. Neither the cigarettes nor the smugglers ever made it back to headquarters. Mohammed says the remaining 29 cartons were switched out with much cheaper cigarettes before an official seizure report was filed. It is well known that the Tunisian revolution began five years ago when a young street grocer set himself on fire to protest his abuse at the hands of local police in the poor town of Sidi Bouzid. Less well known is that the grocer was an entrepreneur who had been forced into the black market by impossible bureaucratic barriers, leaving him vulnerable to constant extortion by the police, who eventually seized his equipment and sole means of income. Exasperation at this form of widespread corruption — no less than demands for dignity, freedom and employment — played a key role in fueling the uprising.  Foreign Policy

Africa: Beyond Piracy – What Next for African Maritime Security?
Last year saw an almost total absence of reports of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the western Indian Ocean and off the coast of Somalia. This is the laudable outcome of concerted international and regional counter-piracy efforts. Since 2012, there has been an annual decline in the total number of reported attempted and actual attacks in the region. The decline has led to calls for reforms to four key international counter-piracy institutions in the new ‘post-piracy’ environment. These reforms are important, but will not provide lasting solutions if African maritime, economic and developmental interests are neglected. It will therefore be vital that local stakeholders, such as the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), drive new developments.  ISS

Zimbabwe Appeals for $1.5 Bln to Prevent Starvation
Zimbabwe on Tuesday appealed to local businesses and charities for $1.5bn aid to save more than a quarter of the population from starvation due to drought. “The government of Zimbabwe requires a total of $1 572 009 953 with effect from February to December 2016,” Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s vice president told a news conference in the capital Harare. “The amount of rainfall received to date is inadequate to meet basic household consumption needs as well as support for livelihoods, agriculture and wildlife.” Mnangagwa’s appeal comes barely a week after President Robert Mugabe declared a “state of disaster” in many rural areas hit by severe drought. News 24

Bread Feeding Unrest in Cairo
Egypt has long been called Umm al-Dunya, or the “mother of the world”. Ancient Greeks described it as “the gift of the Nile” whose flooding each year provided two rich harvests. Egyptian wheat fed the pharaohs and was used by the Roman state to supply the free bread which kept its citizens loyal. With one of the oldest agricultural economies in the world, Egypt has for centuries been an economic and cultural powerhouse in the region, and at the heart of this is its capital, Cairo. Street life in the sprawling metropolis is vibrant and much of the city functions as a marketplace. Although international chains such as KFC and McDonald’s exist, their offerings are often too expensive for locals who prefer their own versions of fast food bought at carts around the city.  News 24

Aid Agencies: Millions in South Sudan Risk Starvation
U.N. aid agencies warn millions of people in South Sudan risk starvation as the food crisis in the war-torn country escalates. The promise of a bright future held out when South Sudan gained its independence in July 2011 has turned sour after more than two years of civil war. More than 1.5 million people have become internally displaced and at least 750,000 have fled to neighboring countries in search of refuge. Compounding the misery is a U.N. assessment that 2.8 million South Sudanese, nearly 25 percent of the country’s population, are going hungry and need assistance. Of this number, they say at least 40,000 people living in conflict-affected Unity State and other hard-to-reach areas are on the brink of catastrophe. World Food Program spokeswoman Bettina Luescher tells VOA children are very vulnerable. She says children who do not get enough food in the first 1,000 days of their lives will suffer long-term consequences. Those who do not die, she says, will suffer from physical and mental impairment. VOA

For South Sudan, a New Challenge Looms: Bankruptcy
Since December, the value of the South Sudanese pound has tumbled by more than 90 percent amid protracted negotiations between President Salvia Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar over forming a unity government after more than two years of civil war. Opinion is divided in Juba over whether the negotiations will be successful. But ​the ​lack of proper planning by President Kiir’s government – and a global rout in the price of oil, its main export – means dwindling financial reserves. Now economists are warning of economic collapse, possibly within weeks, if South Sudan does not receive financial support soon. In an interview with the Monitor, Finance Minister David Deng Athorbei blamed the financial woes “on a plan for a regime change” from foreign countries who want to see the fall of the current government. “If we run out of dollars then we will have to depend on the South Sudanese pound,” says Mr. Athorbei.  CS Monitor

South Sudan, Uganda to Re-Map Border
Uganda and South Sudan officials have started educating residents living on the 2,115km stretch of land that separates the two countries as they prepare to demarcate the boundary. In 2014, the two nations signed a memorandum of understanding to demarcate the border after residents living on both sides claimed ownership of some of the land, leading to sporadic clashes. The 10-day education exercise, which was launched in Gulu Town at the weekend, started yesterday and will be followed by the demarcation processes by surveyors and an 18 man-committee from both countries. Speaking at the launch, Foreign Affairs state minister Oryem Okello stressed that demarcation will be done mainly in the areas where violence has been rampant. Mr Oryem Okello said the exercise will boost regional trade and put to an end tension between the two countries. He said the same education exercise was carried out last year in Juba, South Sudan. “The main aim we are carrying out this exercise is for the future generation so that the communities in both countries are able to live without conflicts,” Mr Oryem Okello said. Daily Monitor

‘IS recruiter’ Arrested in Northern Nigeria: Secret Police
Nigeria’s intelligence agency on Tuesday said it had arrested a recruiter for the Islamic State group, as well as seven alleged members of the Boko Haram offshoot Ansaru. The announcement comes nearly a year after the leader of Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria, Abubakar Shekau, pledged allegiance to IS leader in Syria and Iraq, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. Speculation has been rife since then on whether closer links would be forged between the two groups, with lawless Libya and the remote Sahel region pinpointed as a possible source of contact. The Department of State Services (DSS) said in an emailed statement that Abdussalam Enesi Yunusa was detained in the northern city of Kano on January 17. AFP on Yahoo News

Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash
The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum producers, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception, with analysts predicting a rough year ahead. The fortunes of Africa’s largest economy have long been intertwined with the price of oil. But analysts are worried as crude prices have fallen to $35 per barrel from their peak of over $100 a barrel in 2014. Bismarck Rewane, chief executive of Lagos-based advisory firm Financial Derivatives Co., said, “Impact of fall in oil price is, to put it mildly, catastrophic, in the sense that, in terms of magnitude, huge, in terms of preparedness to deal with the magnitude, totally ill-prepared.” Nigeria produces over 2 million barrels per day, making it Africa’s largest producer of crude. VOA

Guinea Media Blackout in Memory of Slain Journalist
The press shutdown in Guinea, in honor of a colleague who had been killed, was carried out by journalists. It was due to start at 6 am and last until 10 pm local time on Tuesday (09.02.2016). DW spoke to Kerry Paterson, Africa Research Associate at the New York-based Committee to Project Journalists (CPJ). What was her response to this protest? If journalists in the country want to take a stand for press freedom and want to say that it is unacceptable for journalists to be forced to work or perform their duties in unsafe conditions, then it is their right to protest. In some ways it is commendable that they see their profession – and creating a blackout therein – as a means of maximizing their impact. Deutsche Welle

US President Obama Signs Africa Electricity Plan into law
US President Barack Obama has signed into law an initiative aimed at bringing electricity to 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020. The Electrify Africa Act of 2015 will give legal backing to Mr Obama’s flagship Power Africa scheme, which is trying to improve access to electricity through public-private partnerships. It took nearly two years to be passed in both houses of the US Congress. About two-thirds of people in Africa do not have access to reliable power. BBC

Amara Konneh: Liberia Senate Attempt to Jail Finance Minister Fails
Liberia’s Supreme Court has stopped the Senate’s attempts to jail the country’s finance minister after he tried to clamp down on politicians’ expenses. London-based Banker Magazine awarded Amara Konneh its African Finance Minister of the Year award in 2014. But on Tuesday the Senate voted to jail Mr Konneh for acting beyond his powers by proposing a $1.2m (£800,000) budget cut. The Supreme Court ordered a halt on his imprisonment “until further notice”.  BBC

Yet Another Integration Scam
It comes around regularly in the first two months of every year – scammers “promising” young people positions in the military on payment of money and every year the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) has to again warn against this illegal practice. Making matters worse is that more than 10% of those who did the hard yards in applying for selection through the official military skills development (MSD) system did not bother to arrive on official call-up day. In past years the military job skills racket has been run in North West, Mpumalanga and Western Cape. Judging by the name used by one group of scammers – South African Cape Coloured Corps – Western Cape is again a province targeted this year. SANDF spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga has, yet again, condemned activities “aimed at deliberately misleading members of the public regarding integration to the force”. “The SANDF reiterates there is no integration into the SANDF following Parliament’s promulgation of the Termination of Integration Act of 2001 and the Demobilisation of Amendment Act of the same year that formally and legally brought the integration process to an end on December 21, 2002,” he said in a statement adding “once again, it is illegal for those who are taking advantage of young South Africans by promising them integration into the defence force”.  DefenceWeb

ICGLR Military Chiefs Focus on Security
The event that is being chaired by the chief of Staff of the Angola Armed Forces (FAA), gen. Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, in his capacity as head of the ICGLR military body, is focusing Monday on exchange of information on the security and humanitarian situation in the above mentioned countries. A source from the closed-door meeting told Angop the session is discussing and outlining future action on the future of Central Africa Republic, South Sudan and Burundi, in view of the political and military instability prevailing there, resulting in the killing and displacement of people. Tuesday’s session precedes the Summit of heads of State and Government of the ICGLR member countries on February 12 in Luanda, ahead of a session of the Defence and Foreign ministers on February 10-11. The CIRGL groups Angola, Burundi, Central Africa Republic, Congo, DR Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Tanzania and Zambia. Angop

Somalia Invites Moderate Islamists to ‘Negotiating Table
Somali Federal government has urged paramilitary group of AhluSunna Wal Jamea to embrace peaceful resolutions to disputes with Adado administration, Garowe Online reports. Speaking in Mudug regional district of Hobyo, Interior Minister Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein (Odawa) said, he wants that Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamea be united with Interim Galmudug Administration headquartered in central Somalia town of Adado. He has pressured Galmudug leader Abdikarin Hussein Guled into fresh endeavors aiming at end to the standing differences between both sides. Garowe Online

Chad’s President to Seek Fifth Term
Chad’s President Idriss Deby said Tuesday that he would run for a fifth term in April’s election and promised to restore term limits if he wins. Deby seized power in a 1990 coup. Term limits were scrapped in 2005 just as a civil war between Muslims and Christians erupted. “The principles of presidential term limits in the constitution must be reintroduced,” Deby told a political party convention Tuesday. “Today, nothing requires us to remain in a system where changing leaders becomes difficult.” He said the “life of the nation was in danger” when term limits were ended in 2005. Chad has become a key Western ally in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in neighboring Nigeria.  VOA



Photo: Adam Jones