Media Review for January 28, 2016

Bashir Orders Opening of Border with South Sudan
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Wednesday has ordered to open joint border with the neighbouring South Sudan. The official news agency SUNA reported that the Bashir has issued a presidential decree ordering to open the border with the South Sudan and “directed the concerned authorities to take all the necessary measures for the implementation of this decision on the ground”. Sudan closed its border with the South Sudan in June 2011, one month before the formal declaration of independence. Sudan Tribune

Suicide bombers kill 13 in Chibok
Four female suicide bombers exploded at a market in the Chibok hometown of Nigeria’s kidnapped schoolgirls on Wednesday, killing 13 civilians and wounding 32 people, witnesses said. Three soldiers including their commanding officer are among the injured being treated at the hospital, according to a man who was at the scene. He said the blasts with shrapnel zapping through the air began when soldiers stopped a young women covered in a hijab for a routine search at the entrance to the open-air, roadside vegetable market in the northeast Nigerian town. She blew herself up. Then three women already inside the market exploded in quick succession. The man insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals. A Chibok community leader in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, said another blast occurred at a military checkpoint at the entrance to Chibok. Tsambo Hosea Abana said relatives called to tell him that his niece and uncle are among the wounded. IOL News

African Leaders Trying to Push Burundi to Take Peacekeepers -Officials
African states are trying to push President Pierre Nkurunziza to accept peacekeeping troops at a summit this week to prevent Burundi sliding back into ethnic conflict but there is little hope that he will agree, officials said. The African Union (AU) announced a plan in December to send 5,000 peacekeepers to Burundi, where more than 400 people have been killed in worst violence since an ethnically charged civil war ended in 2005. Burundi swiftly rejected the plan, with Nkurunziza saying any such force would be considered an “invasion”. A senior AU diplomat said that African nations would try to persuade Nkurunziza to change his mind. “He is not expected to endorse the plan, however,” the diplomat said. Sanctions could be considered if Nkurunziza did not accept, he told Reuters before the AU meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, without giving any details. Reuters

Burundi High on Agenda of Upcoming AU Summit
The 26th African Union Summit of heads of state and government, which will take place Saturday and Sunday, is heavily loaded with burning agenda items. One of the issues is whether or not the heads of state arriving in Addis Ababa later this week will authorise the deployment of an armed force in the troubled central African country of Burundi. Usually, most of the decisions at AU summits are made by the Council of Ministers well before the arrival of presidents who just endorse or reject the proposals. Given that Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza has already said that he will not allow a foreign force into his country, “the Burundi issue will suck the air as heads of state make the decision if they will allow the deployment of 5,000 troops in Burundi by the AU,” says Dr Yann Bedzigui, Researcher, Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis at South Africa’s Institute of Policy studies (ISS) who is here as an observer at the talks. He adds: “Burundi already said No. The Chairman of the the talks will put a question that will require a majority of two thirds of the 54 AU member states.”  East African

Burundi President Refuses to Negotiate with Coup Plotters
Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza has told members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council that his government will not negotiate with those who attempted to overthrow his government in May last year. While meeting the Burundian head of state, the Security Council pressed upon him to allow an inclusive dialogue in a bid to end the current political and security crisis in the East African nation. Nkurunziza also turned down an offer by the African Union deploy 5 000 peacekeepers. There was not a warm welcome for the Security Council delegation, as the team made its way through the local villages to Gitega in the north of Burundi to meet Nkurunziza. The discussions failed to reach a concrete agreement. UN Ambassador Angola, Gaspar Martin says, “You never find a solution in one day, we will continue to talk to find solutions which are appropriate for the president, Burundi and the region.” SABC

Burundi: what Can Actually Be Done?
The violence in Burundi is evolving and getting worse. Challenges to President Pierre Nkurunziza’s rule are becoming professionalised, as demonstrated by the attacks on two military camps in Bujumbura last December. Godfroid Nyombare – Nkurunziza’s former chief of secret service and main plotter of the failed coup last May – has reportedly created an armed rebellion. And security forces have started using rape as a weapon of war, signalling their intent to break Bujumbura’s quartiers contestataires psychologically as well as physically. This evolution is all the more worrying given that there are few tangible solutions to the crisis in sight. As summarised by Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN Security Council, Burundi “is going to hell” and there is “no contingency planning, no UN presence, no dialogue”. But what could be done to genuinely improve the situation in Burundi? And by whom?  African Arguments

Burundi: Inflation Accelerates as Political Woes Continue
Crisis-torn Burundi’s year-on-year inflation accelerated to 7.1 percent in December from 5.8 percent in November following rising costs of some food on markets. The country has been embroiled in a political crisis since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s decision to extend his term in office. Burundi’s economy, which relies heavily on coffee and tea exports, has faced increasing pressure since it was thrown into political turmoil last April, when Nkurunziza said he would run for a third term in office. Opponents said another five-year term, which he began in August, violated a peace deal that ended a 12-year civil war in 2005. Africa Report

North Africa al-Qaida Group Posts Video of Kidnapped Swiss
An organization that monitors jihadi sites says al-Qaida’s North Africa branch has released video of Swiss woman abducted recently in Timbuktu. SITE Intelligence Group says the Sahara division of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb posted the proof-of-life video of Beatrice Stockly Tuesday on Telegram and Twitter. It says a fighter in the video dated Jan. 16 demands the release of fighters imprisoned in Mali and one captured in Niger in exchange for her release. Switzerland’s Foreign Ministry says it has called for Stockly’s unconditional release. It says it has been in contact with her family and Malian authorities since the kidnapping. The Swiss woman, who had been briefly abducted back in 2012, was kidnapped again on Jan. 7 by jihadists who scaled the walls of her Timbuktu home. AP on Stars and Stripes

Algeria Suspends Flights to Libya
Algiers: Algeria has suspended flights to Tripoli, a few days after it detained hundreds of Moroccans trying to travel to Libya having arrived at the international airport in the capital Algiers. Libya has become a regional concern since Daesh terrorists gained ground there and called for foreign recruits, especially from North Africa. Algeria is an important US ally in its fight against armed groups in the region. The decision to suspend flights to Tripoli was taken by the Algerian civilian aviation authority on Tuesday. No reason was given for the suspension. “The decision will be effective on Jan. 29,” according to a statement from the aviation authority. Algerian officials did not say when they would resume flights to Tripoli. Gulf  News

Botswana ‘Least Corrupt’ Sub-Saharan State
Transparency International has ranked Botswana as the least corrupt county in sub-Saharan Africa. Botswana emerged tops with a score of 63 in this year’s global Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International Wednesday. It was followed by Cape Verde (57) and Seychelles (55). Rwanda was the top performer among the East Africa Community (EAC) countries, with a score of 49 at position 55 globally. Its score has, however, dropped from 53 in 2013. Africa Review

Africa’s Defence Sector at Risk from Corruption
Most of Africa is at medium to high risk of defence sector corruption, with a big problem being a lack of oversight of military expenditure, and corruption on operations, which exacerbates insecurity, according to a new report from Transparency International (TI). One of the key findings of TI’s recently released Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index 2015 results for Africa was that despite increased defence spending across many states, increases in defence spending are not necessarily enhancing state security. Too often procurement decisions are taken with little reference to strategic requirements, military effectiveness is eroded by poor controls on personnel, while forces are repurposed for commercial ends, TI said. The 47 countries studied in TI’s report on Africa spent approximately $40 billion on military expenditure in 2014, comprising around .02% of global military spending. Over the last decade, 2 out of every 3 African countries have substantially increased their military spending, with total defence spending across the continent increasing by 91% since 2005. DefenceWeb

Five Kenyan Police Killed after Truck Hits Explosive Device
Five Kenyan policemen were killed on Tuesday in the coastal county of Lamu after their truck hit an improvised explosive device planted on the road by Islamist militants al Shabaab, police sources and a local governor said. It was the latest in a series of attacks near Kenya’s border with Somalia. Al Shabaab took credit for the attack but said it had killed eight Kenyan soldiers. “The truck had about 10 administration police officers and the explosive that blew it up seemed to have been planted on the road they were using,” a senior regional official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. Senior officials and police declined to give official statement on the attack, saying it was sensitive, and that they still awaited detailed report from officers on the ground.  Reuters

Kenya Honours Troops Slain in Somalia
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday led an interfaith memorial service honouring Kenyan soldiers killed while on peacekeeping duty in Somalia. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud attended the event at a military barracks in Eldoret. “We owe these young patriots who gave everything a debt of honour,” Kenyatta said. “We can begin to discharge it by resolving never to forget their sacrifices. We must also make sure that every single one of the cowards who murdered them will be hunted down and brought to justice.” In Nigeria Buhari faces the Boko Haram extremist insurgency while Mohamud’s government in Somalia relies on foreign troops to protect against the Islamic extremists al-Shabaab. News 24

Kenya Judge Phillip Tunoi Probed Over ‘$2m Bribe’
Kenya has begun a judicial inquiry into allegations that a Supreme Court judge accepted a $2m (£1.4m) bribe. Phillip Tunoi denies taking money to rule in favour of Evans Kidero, whose election as Nairobi governor was challenged in 2014. Mr Kidero, who became governor in March 2013, has also denied that he paid a bribe to influence the ruling. Both men deny meeting the person who alleges that he was their intermediary and facilitated the bribe. BBC

UN Mission Chief Vows to Destroy Terrorists in Somalia
The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has vowed to crackdown on terrorist groups operating in the Horn of Africa region. AMISOM Acting Force Commander Major-General Nakibus Lakara, who visited El-Adde base in southern Somalia which was attacked by Al-Shabaab fighters last week, said he will ensure that terrorists operating in Somalia are eliminated. “We are here to ensure that Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups are eliminated from this great nation of Somalia,” Lakara said in a statement released in Mogadishu on Wednesday. “We shall re-strategize. Our defenses must now become offensive by nature. It is payback time, we shall win this war, and the Somali people shall be free,” he added. Lakara reiterated that the Mission will remain committed to its primary mandate of ensuring terrorist groups in Somalia, especially Al-Shabaab, are pushed out of Somalia. Xinhua

Somalia Stumbling along ‘Bumpy and Difficult’ Path to Peace and Prosperity
Despite sporadic, sometimes intense militant attacks, Somalia has been making steady political progress ahead of a planned presidential vote this year, but these tenuous gains will not be consolidated unless the focus switches to debt relief and kickstarting the economy, says the former head of the UN mission. Nicholas Kay, a British diplomat, was the UN secretary general’s special representative to Somalia from mid-2013 until December. During his tenure, the Horn of Africa country sought to fine-tune its federal system (pdf), which is meant to take some of the sting out of the clan rivalries that have poisoned politics for more than two decades and complicated the war against al-Shabaab militants. “The political and security progress the country has made will be at risk unless there are enhanced economic opportunities and livelihoods for the massively young population,” Kay said after returning to London at the end of last year. The Guardian

HRW Global Report Highlights ‘Politics of Fear’
Human Rights Watch released its2016 global report Wednesday, reviewing human rights practices in more than 90 countries from the end of 2014 through November 2015. For the organization’s Nairobi launch, Somalia and Kenya researchers gave remarks about their findings in those East African nations.   During the Nairobi launch of the 2016 Human Rights Watch global report, HRW Africa Director Daniel Bekele said poverty, unemployment, massive population growth, bad governance and weak institutions continued to set the stage for widespread human rights abuses.   But the “politics of fear” is the topic of this year’s report, and Bekele highlighted the increasing number of small to large-scale armored, violent conflicts in the region. VOA

Final Round of Central Africa Presidential Poll Delayed
The second and last round presidential poll in the Central African Republic, which had been scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed over organisational problems, the electoral authority said on Wednesday. “We can’t hold the election on Sunday, it’s impossible, we will soon announce a new date,” said Julius Ngouade Baba, spokesperson of the electoral authority (ANE in its French acronym). Two former premiers, Anicet Georges Dologuele and Faustin Archange Touadera, are vying for the presidency of the strife-torn nation. Dologuele won 23.74% of the vote in the first round on December 30, trailed by Touadera, who picked up 19.05%. Dologuele, a 58-year-old former central banker, came to be known as “Mr Clean” after his attempts to bring transparency to murky public finances during his time as premier.  News 24

DR Congo Elections Could be Delayed Till 2016 over Update of Voter Lists
13 months is what could be required to revise the Democratic Republic of Congo voters lists. This is according to sources who said that the estimates came from the country’s elections commission. A document dated January 14 purporting to be from the National Independent Elections Commission (CENI) and published on Twitter, said it would take 13 months and 10 days to carry out even a partial revision of the lists at a cost of $122 million. The document also indicated that it could take 16 months and $290 million to revise the full voters lists. According to the CENI, authentication of the document published by a UK-based political analyst Michael Tshibangu is difficult. Tshibangu is the president of the Association of Development and Democracy in the Congo. However, diplomatic sources in Kinshasa confirmed the document was genuine. Critics have accused president Joseph Kabila of manoeuvering to delay the elections by drawing out the electoral calendar in a bid to maintain his grip on power.  Africa News

Sinai Bombing Kills Army Colonel, 3 Troops
A roadside bomb struck an armored personnel carrier in the turbulent north of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, killing an army colonel and three soldiers, Egyptian security and health officials said. The officials said the blast just south of the coastal city of el-Arish wounded another 12 soldiers, several of whom were in critical condition. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Egypt has for years been fighting a Sinai-based Islamic insurgency. The attacks have grown more frequent and deadlier since July 2013, when President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, then the defense minister, led the military ousting of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.  News 24

Q&A: Tunisia’s Social Time Bomb
According to academic Lamine Bouazizi, Tunisia’s transition process has faced two crucial moments: the first when two opposition figures were assassinated in 2013, and the second on January 22, when violent protests broke out in Kasserine over a lack of economic opportunities. Provinces such as Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine and Gafsa are a “social time bomb”, said Bouazizi, 47, who has done extensive research on the labour movement in Tunisia and documented the root causes of the country’s revolution.These cities were the first to rise up against Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, and the January 22 protests were the latest culmination of a citizenry asserting its rights. Unemployment in the olive and fruit-farming region bordering Algeria is almost double the national average. The latest wave of protests suggests that unless the political progress in Tunisia is matched by economic advances, social tensions will continue to boil over. Al Jazeera spoke with Bouazizi about the events in Kasserine and what this means for Tunisia’s transition process. Al Jazeera

Nigeria: : Gulak Declares Self PDP Chairman
Former Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Political Matters, Alhaji Ahmed Gulak, on Wednesday pronounced himself the substantive chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party. Gulak made the pronouncement inside the National Working Committee Hall at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja. He spoke in company with his loyalists, which included former Special Assistant to ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe and a former Commissioner in Bayelsa State, Chief Ayakeme Whisky. Gulak said he decided to take over the leadership of the party following the court order of December 16, 2015, which asked the party to name someone from the North-East to replace the former chairman of the party, Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu.  The Punch

UN Agency Sounds Alarm over Africa’s Growing Foreign Debt
Africa is faced with increasing debt repayments especially those countries that have borrowed in foreign markets, the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) warned Tuesday ahead of the 26th African Union (AU) summit that opens later this week in Ethiopia. At the briefing in Addis Ababa Tuesday, Mr Adam Elhiraika – the director of Macro Economic Policy Division at UNECA – described the condition created by countries that invest in foreign bonds as “imported inflation” but noted that a country with strong macroeconomic fundamentals should be able to handle its debts. He added that countries that continue to borrow abroad need to put in place policies that would allow them to pay without compromising their macroeconomic climate. East African

Why Morocco Has Remained a Safe Country for Tourists
Despite threats of terrorism, Morocco has not had a terrorist attack since 2011. More people in the United States, France, and Indonesia have been killed in the past year from terrorist attacks than Morocco. However, Morocco does share the same region with nations that have witnessed violence during this same period, including Egypt, Tunisia, and Lebanon. This has many concerned that Morocco’s tourism industry will be hurt by the unrest in neighboring countries. The effects of terrorism have a broader impact than violence. Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa have witnessed the decline of their tourism industries since the Arab Spring and the growth of ISIS. North Africa has deeply felt the economic impact of terrorism. The Egyptian government projects it will lose upwards of 70% of its tourism because of 2015’s terrorist attacks on the country. Also, Tunisia’s government predicts the tourism industry’s loss of $384,000,000 in 2015, following June’s terrorist attacks.  Morocco World News



Photo: Adam Jones