Media Review for February 8, 2016

Mystery of the ‘Resolution’ at Addis African Union Summit to Walk out of ICC
A common position by African countries on mass withdrawal from the International Criminal Court will not be reached until June when a committee tasked to engage the UN Security Council reports back. Contrary to reports that 34 African countries resolved during the 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa in January to withdraw from the Rome Statute that established The Hague-based court, a report of the meeting indicates that the leaders only mandated the Open-Ended Committee of Foreign Affairs Ministers to discuss the intention with the UNSC. The AU Peace and Security Council will then consider the foreign ministers’ draft on the ICC Action Plan in order to table recommendations for consideration at the next AU summit in June. The East African

Alassane Ouattara: No More Ivorians Will Go to ICC
Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara says he will not send any more Ivorians to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. This means none of the president’s supporters will go to the ICC. His long-time rival Laurent Gbagbo is on trial for war crimes at the ICC over the civil war sparked by his refusal to accept defeat in the 2010 election. Both sides were accused of atrocities during the four-month conflict, which left some 3,000 people dead. Mr Outtara said Ivory Coast now has an operational justice system so future prosecutions will happen in national courts.  BBC

Four Killed, Including Child, in Burundi Attacks
Four people, including a child, were killed in grenade attacks in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura, which has been wracked by political violence, an official and witnesses said on Sunday. The four were killed in an attack in a bar in the working class Kinama neighbourhood, said Bujumbura mayor Freddy Mbonimpa. Among the victims was a young boy selling eggs. Ten others were wounded, said a hospital source. In another attack, “armed criminals” threw a grenade at a police patrol, injuring eight civilians, said Mbonimpa. Another grenade was thrown at a military patrol, but no one was hurt.  News 24

AU Chair Appoints Team to Negotiate with Burundi Factions
The African Union has appointed a high-level delegation of five African presidents to negotiate with factions in Burundi over the possible deployment of an African peacekeeping mission to the East African country. On Friday evening, newly elected AU Assembly Chairman and President of Chad Idriss Deby named five leaders from east, central, western, southern and northern Africa to follow up with talks, after the AU Summit failed to enforce the deployment despite Burundi’s rejection of the forces. A statement from the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa said the five, one each from the continent’s regional blocs will “consult the government and other actors of Burundi, on inclusive dialogue and deployment of the African Mission prevention and protection in Burundi (MAPROBU) if accepted by the Government of Burundi.”  Daily Nation

Fear of Cholera, Floods as Burundi Refugees Pack Tanzania Camps
Heavy rains, flooding and a spike in new arrivals could threaten the lives of over 110,000 Burundian refugees in overcrowded camps in Tanzania, six aid agencies said on Monday, amid warnings of rising political tension in Burundi. Life-threatening malaria and diarrhoea have been spreading in Nyarugusu, the world’s third largest refugee camp, since the rainy season began, and damage caused by a powerful El Nino has left aid agencies short of funds throughout east Africa. “Refugees are arriving in their hundreds every day,” the agencies, which include Oxfam, Save the Children and HelpAge International, said in a statement. “Many people are still living in overcrowded mass shelters months after their arrival, where wet floors and cramped conditions mean that the risk of respiratory infections and waterborne diseases is high.” Reuters

UN Asks Chad for Answers over CAR Rebel Leader Visit
UN officials are demanding the Chadian government explain why a Central African rebel leader was able to travel freely to Chad in defiance of Security Council sanctions against him. Nourredine Adam, the second-in-command of the ex-Seleka band of mostly Muslim rebels, was able to fly to Chad despite an assets freeze and a travel ban imposed by the UN in May 2014, the world body’s sanctions committee said in a report obtained Friday by AFP. Adam also seems able to continue to travel freely to countries like Kenya, Chad and Ethiopia said the group, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions imposed on the Central African Republic. Adam declared he had met Dr. Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, Special Envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General in the Chadian capital on December 21, 2015, according to the report. The OIC is the world’s largest inter-governmental Muslim body, representing 57 states. AFP on Yahoo News

UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR
The United Nations is trying a new approach to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (or DDR) of armed groups. The new approach, described as pre-DDR, is being launched in the Central African Republic’s northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of the mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and the Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work. Since November, the U.N. mission in Kaga Bandoro has enrolled 481 ex-combatants in pre-DDR and is paying most of them nearly $4 a day, mainly for cleaning up the town. To qualify they had to hand in weapons – 206 locally made hunting rifles, 10 modern assault rifles and 2,600 rounds of ammunition.  VOA

US Struggling to Build anti-Islamic State Strategy in Libya
The Obama administration is struggling to find the right mix of military and diplomatic moves to stop the Islamic State in Libya, where the extremist group has taken advantage of the political chaos in the country to gain a foothold with worrying implications for the U.S. and Europe — particularly Italy, just 300 miles away. U.S. officials have publicly warned of the risks of Libya becoming the next Syria, where the Islamic State flourished amid civil war and spread into Iraq. No large-scale U.S. military action is contemplated in Libya, senior administration officials said, but Obama last week directed his national security team to bolster counterterrorism efforts there while also pursuing diplomatic possibilities for solving Libya’s political crisis and forming a government of national unity. While the Islamic State has emerged in other places, including Afghanistan, Libya is seen as its key focus outside of Syria and Iraq. “We’ve been mindful of this risk for more than a year and a half now,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. “We’re going to continue to watch how the threat in Libya evolves, and we’re going to continue to be prepared to take action.”  The Washington Post

Islamic State Presence Soars in Libya
Islamic State fighters have streamed into Libya in recent months, a US official said on Thursday, heightening fears the extremists are gaining ground and influence in the north African country. About 5 000 IS jihadists are now in Libya, the defence official said, approximately double earlier estimates, while the number of IS extremists in Iraq and Syria has dropped. The updated tallies come as the administration of President Barack Obama faces growing calls for the US military to step up action against the IS group in Libya, where the jihadists have already seized the city of Sirte and an adjoining length of Mediterranean coastline. NATO defence ministers are meeting in Brussels next week to evaluate the ongoing US-led coalition campaign against the IS group and to discuss ways of redoubling efforts.  AFP on IOL News

The Third Front: It is Time to Take Action Against Islamic State in Libya
[…] It makes little sense to squeeze IS in one battlefield only to let it grow somewhere else. Belatedly, Italy, France and Britain—and, crucially, America, too—are drawing up plans for military action. If there is one lesson from the interventions of the past, it is the importance of securing a degree of political legitimacy and working with competent forces on the ground who can seize back territory from extremists and hold it. Western forces would, ideally, be invited in by a new unity government. But UN-led talks have dragged on for months, stymied by the refusal of the Islamist-influenced government in Tripoli to accept that it lost an election in June 2014 and to make peace with the winners of that poll, who fled to Tobruk. More recently they are being held up by the refusal of both parliaments to accept the UN’s latest proposal for a unity government. More intensive diplomacy is needed to push the two sides into a deal, using whatever leverage is available. As part of that process, the West will have to support the new Libya generously with money, as well as military backing, humanitarian relief and investment to get the oil flowing again. America, which has been negligently absent from Libya since the killing of its ambassador and three others in attacks in Benghazi in 2012, needs to apply its muscle, too.  The Economist

Tunisia Unveils Anti-Jihadi Fence
Tunisia’s defence minister has visited an anti-jihadi fence that’s being built on the country’s border with Libya to stop Islamist militants from entering Tunisian territory. Defence Minister Farhat Horchani inspected the first completed part of the 196km fence, which aims to counter the threat from jihadi militants and render the entire border impassable by vehicles. Horchani said the project came about with financial assistance from Germany and the US. Military personnel and dozens of journalists were also given a tour of the defence structure, composed of sand alongside water-filled trenches and monitoring centres. News 24

10 Key Issues where Uganda Election Will be Won or Lost Going by Recent Trends
The February 18 election in Uganda is President Yoweri Museveni’s to lose as he seeks to extend his 30-year stay in office, but with recent opinion polls showing his main rival Dr Kizza Besigye gaining ground, we explore some of the key issues that will determine the outcome. This is arguably the most important issue and the hardest to predict. According to the Electoral Commission, there are 15,277,196 Ugandans registered to vote. But while the number of eligible and registered voters has been rising in each of the last four elections (with the exception of 2006, of which we shall return), the number of people who bother to turn up and vote has been falling. It peaked at 72.60 per cent in 1996, the first time Ugandans directly voted for their president, fell to 70.31 per cent in 2001, 69.19 per cent in 2006 and then plunged to 59.29 per cent in 2011.  The East African

Australian Woman Freed from al-Qaeda in Burkina Faso
An elderly Australian woman kidnapped last month along with her husband in northern Burkina Faso by a group affiliated to al-Qaeda has been freed, a spokesman for the president of neighbouring Niger has said. Jocelyn Elliott “was freed following mediation led by the president of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, and presented to the press this afternoon in Dosso,” presidential spokesman Abdourahmane Alilou said on Saturday. He added Burkina Faso’s intelligence services had also been involved in securing her release and that efforts were ongoing to free her husband, Ken Elliott. The two Australians, both in their 80s, were kidnapped on January 15 near the Burkina Faso town of Djibo, where they have run a medical clinic for four decades. Al Jazeera

Malian Tuaregs Returning Home Face Violence
Charred timbers are all that remain of a dozen Tuareg homes burned down last week in Mali’s northern city of Timbuktu by a mob angry after reports of a gun attack on Malian security forces nearby. The mob blamed the Tuaregs, who in Timbuktu number about 25 families among some 17 000 Malians who have returned to their homes this year after taking refuge in the neighbouring countries of Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger. In Timbuktu, the returnees are met with distrust, scorn and violence by residents who blame them for the unrest that has enveloped northern Mali in recent years. News 24

Somali Officials: Man Killed in Plane Bombing Given Laptop Before Flight
Somali security officials say they have identified a person they believe planned the bomb attack that was intended to bring down a Daallo Airlines flight last week. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior intelligence official told VOA’s Somali service the suspect was known to the security agencies and is linked to at least another attack carried out by the al-Shabab militants. The intelligence official says the person, said to be 40 years old, runs a business that sells mobile phones, eye glasses and clothing, and uses it as a cover for his covert al-Shabab operations. “He is not in jail, he escaped, we have been told that he was last seen in Afgoye town last week,” says the official. The mid-air blast blew a hole in the aircraft and forced the pilot of Flight 159, bound for Djibouti with 74 passengers on board, to make an emergency landing about 15 minutes after take-off from Mogadishu. VOA

Troops ‘Retake’ Somali Port City from al-Shabab Militants
After falling to al-Shabab militants on Friday, the port city of Marka was recaptured by Somali government troops and African Union (AU) peacekeepers on Saturday, according to Somali officials. “The Somali forces and AMISOM peacekeepers secured control of Marka again and now the situation has returned to normal,” Abdirisak Mohamed, a Somali military official, told the AFP news agency by telephone. “There was a brief exchange of gunfire, but the militants have fled,” he said, adding that “several” al-Shabab fighters as well as one Somali soldier were killed during the clashes. “The AU and Somali troops attacked the town from two directions, forcing the terrorists … out of town,” Mohamed Hussein Shine, a local official, reported. A Marka resident who spoke with AFP said the AU troops – also known under the acronym AMISOM – used tanks to recapture the port, adding that four civilians were killed after they were caught in the fighting.  Deutsche Welle

French General Testifies in Rwanda Massacre Probe
General Jean-Claude Lafourcade was questioned in particular over claims that France’s UN-mandated Operation Turquoise, which he led, left ethnic Tutsis to be slaughtered by Hutu killers in the western Bisesero hills in June 1994, the sources said. French soldiers had been deployed in Rwanda a few days earlier under UN instructions to stop the genocide that had begun in April, and which three months later had left at least 800,000 people dead, most of them Tutsis. In 2005 survivors filed a complaint in France, saying the French troops had on June 27 vowed to return to Bisesero, but when they came back three days later, it was too late for hundreds of Tutsis who were massacred. Lafourcade, who appeared as an “assisted witness” — meaning he has not been charged but can be summoned for questioning at any time — again refuted the accusations during lengthy hearings on January 12 and 14, the sources said. Times Live

Sudan Appeals for US and Germany to Pressure Rebels to Engage in “Serious Talks”
Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour Sunday has asked the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to put pressure on the rebel groups in order to join the peace process. International and regional mediators have been brokering different process to end Darfur conflict since 2003 and the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011. Foreign ministry spokesperson, Ali al-Sadiq said that Ghandour discussed with a delegation from the USIP headed by the former US special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman, the peace talks in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile.  Sudan Tribune

Algerian Lawmakers Adopt Constitutional Reforms Reinstating Presidential Term Limits
Algeria’s parliament adopted a package of constitutional reforms Sunday that authorities say will strengthen democracy, but opponents doubt it will bring real change. The reforms are meant to address longstanding public grievances in the North African nation, and possibly to prepare for a smooth transition amid concerns over the health of 78-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The package was passed by 499 votes to two, with 16 abstentions, Senate speaker Abdelkader Bensalah said. A two-term limit on the presidency—lifted in 2008 to allow Bouteflika to run for a third time—will be reintroduced and the president will be required to nominate a prime minister from the largest party in parliament. France 24

Guantánamo Prisoner Sent Home to Morocco Remains in Legal Limbo
Younis Shokuri, a Moroccan detainee at the Guantánamo Bay prison, said he feared being repatriated to his native country. But the Moroccan government told the United States that it would probably release him without charges 72 hours after any transfer. So last September, Mr. Shokuri went home — reluctantly, but voluntarily. But despite its assurances, Morocco has kept Mr. Shokuri in custody and is weighing criminal charges, apparently focused on allegations that he was involved with a Moroccan terrorist group before his capture in Afghanistan in late 2001. Mr. Shokuri’s lawyers have demanded that the Obama administration press Morocco to live up to what they thought was a deal. Both governments have said little to explain the discrepancy. Several officials familiar with behind-the-scenes legal and diplomatic discussions are now shedding light on the murky episode. Beyond its importance for Mr. Shokuri, his situation illustrates how difficult — and messy — it can be to winnow down the ranks of detainees viewed as posing a lower-level security risk at the Guantánamo prison, which the Obama administration still wants to close in its final year in office. The New York Times

Nigerians have Image Problem Abroad, Hampers Emigration to West – President
Nigerians have an image problem abroad which makes it difficult to emigrate to the West, but they can stay at home where their services are needed, President Muhammadu Buhari was quoted as saying by a British newspaper on Saturday. A former army ruler from the 1980s who returned to power as a civilian after winning an election in March last year, Buhari has the image of an ascetic disciplinarian keen to tackle his country’s persistent problems with crime and corruption. “Some Nigerians’ claim is that life is too difficult back home,” he was quoted as telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper. “But they have also made it difficult for Europeans and Americans to accept them because of the number of Nigerians in prisons around the world accused of drug trafficking or human trafficking,” he said.  Reuters on Yahoo Mail

29 Killed in Congo Ethnic Violence
Twenty-nine people have died in fighting between ethnically based armed groups in eastern Congo, activists say. Rebels belonging to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) attacked a camp of the Popular Union for the Defence of the Innocent (UPDI) in the North Kivu province on Sunday, Edgar Mateso, a representative of civil society organisations in the region, said. Guns and knives were used during the fight, Mateso said. Army spokesman Hazukay Mongba confirmed that fighting had taken place. The FDLR is a Rwandan Hutu rebel group operating in Congo, while the UPDI defends the Nande ethnic group. Dozens of people have been killed in clashes between the two militias in the last month, according to activists. AFP on Sky News

‘Big men’ Setting Back Hopes for Democracy in Africa
When then-President Bill Clinton visited Africa in 1998, he praised “a new generation of leaders” as champions of a dawning “African Renaissance.” Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni was one of them: Two years before, he’d been elected president after a decade as a military ruler. Museveni is again running for president — at the age of 71, after abolishing constitutional limits on presidential terms. He refers to the East African nation’s oil reserves as his own, holds a public holiday to mark when he seized power in a coup 30 years ago and is expected to easily win a fifth term in the Feb. 18 elections. Over the past few months, long-serving leaders in Rwanda, the Republic of Congo and Djibouti also have demonstrated their resolve to cling to power. All are favorites to secure re- election this year or next. Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term last year, spurring violence that’s claimed more than 440 lives. That led another U.S. president to deliver a much sterner message. “When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife, as we’ve seen in Burundi,” Barack Obama told an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in July 2015. “And sometimes you’ll hear a leader say, ‘Well, I’m the only person who can hold the nation together.’ If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation.”  Chicago Tribune

In the Fastest-Growing African Economy, Government is the Fuel
Ethiopia is the new flavor of the month for Africa watchers. The East African nation led the pack of fastest-growing economies — not just in Africa, but in the world — in 2015. While many African nations are struggling to cope with plunging currencies and falling revenue from commodities, Ethiopia’s economy grew 8.7 percent last year and is set to expand 8.1 percent in 2016, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. Globally, only Papua New Guinea grew faster last year, at 12.3 percent. Much of Ethiopia’s success is due to the dominance of the state in the economy. The nation exports very little compared to its African peers and capital controls mean the currency, the birr, has retained its value despite the global downturn. “The fact that much of the spending is on capital projects, especially infrastructure, means that government spending has been the key driver of the boom,” said Getachew Teklemariam, an independent economist based in the capital, Addis Ababa. “It is unimaginable to think of Ethiopia as one of the fast-growing countries in the world without government spending.” Bloomberg

In Southern Africa, an Illusion Built on Aid Heralds Hope and Hunger
In all 2.8 million people in Malawi, or 17 percent of the population, now face hunger, according to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). Drought and floods have hit the maize crop, exposing the fragility of gains which had seen Malawi’s rates of malnutrition slashed in the past two decades. That progress was partly rooted in a fertilizer grant for small-scale farmers. But now the government, starved of donor funds following a graft scandal over two years ago, can ill afford such payments and says it must scale down the program. Ironically, policies aimed at ensuring basic food security are partly to blame for a cycle of rural poverty and aid dependency in this land-locked African nation, leaving the population vulnerable to climate shocks, economists say. Reuters on Yahoo News

Coca-Cola Has Discovered an Untapped Market to Save the Soda Business
As soda sales slow in the US, Coca-Cola is looking elsewhere for customers. One of the major regions of focus: Africa. Coke said in 2014 it would invest $17 billion in the continent from 2010 to 2020, a figure that tripled the amount spent in the previous decade. In late January, the company announced its biggest overseas acquisition since 2012: A 40% stake in Nigeria’s largest juice marker, TGI Group’s Chi Ltd, which sells beverage brands such as Chivita 100% and Chi Ice Tea, with plans to buy the rest within the next three years. “We are extremely optimistic about Africa’s continued economic and social growth and recognize the importance of ensuring we stay one step ahead of evolving consumer tastes by broadening our portfolio and introducing new products,” Kelvin Balogun, president of Coca-Cola Central, East, and West Africa, said in a statement about the acquisition. While Americans are drinking less soda, there is still plenty of room for Coca-Cola’s growth in Africa. In the third quarter, SABMiller — a key Coke bottler in Africa — experienced soft-drink-volume growth of 13% in Africa, with a 21% increase in South Africa.  Business Insider



Photo: Adam Jones