Media Review for January 6, 2016

Burundi Civil War Fears as President Accused of Campaign of Murder
Innocent Ntawumbabaye had obeyed police orders to open his front door when two officers walked wordlessly into his home and shot him several times in the head. The 44-year-old milk seller wasn’t the only victim that day. On 11 December, after an attack on military installations in the capital, security forces loyal to president Pierre Nkurunziza responded by summarily executing 87 civilians in the space of a few hours. Nkurunziza, a former rebel turned president, announced in April that he would run for a controversial third term, in a move many observers say contravened a 2005 peace deal that ended the 12-year civil war which claimed 300,000 lives. His decision plunged the small central African country into a political crisis, prompting weeks of demonstrations by young activists in the capital demanding that the 52-year-old president step down. The Guardian

Burundi General Pleads Guilty to Coup Attempt
Former Burundi defence minister Cyrille Ndayirukiye and four other defendants have pleaded guilty to involvement in a failed coup last May during a trial of 28 police and military figures, judicial sources said Tuesday. Ndayirukiye, number two among the coup plotters, and two other army generals and two police commissioners cited the violent repression of anti-government protests to justify their attempted takeover of power. “I could not remain with my arms crossed while the police were killing the population, while President Pierre Nkurunziza was playing football and while the troops… appeared indifferent,” army general Ndayirukiye said during his first statement from the witness box on Monday, the sources said. They face possible life imprisonment. Burundi was plunged into crisis last April when Nkurunziza announced a controversial bid for a third term, triggering deadly street protests followed by an attempted coup, which laid bare political splits within the military. Coup leader General Godefroid Niyombare is currently on the run.  The East African

Head of the IMF Says Her Organization Wants to Collaborate with Nigeria in Tracing Looted Money
The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said Tuesday that her organization wants to collaborate with Nigeria in plugging leaking of funds through corruption and to trace looted money. Lagarde, on a visit to the African economic giant, said Nigeria has enough of a financial war-chest to overcome the current economic challenge without resorting to the IMF for financial support. She said at a press conference that during her meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, she told him that the IMF would be willing to assist the Nigerian government in plugging revenue leakages, tracing stolen funds and restructuring its tax system. The economy of Nigeria, a major oil producer, has been hit hard by dropping oil prices on the international market. Lagarde said she looks forward to discussing how the country could face the challenges associated with global economic downturn, within the remaining days she would be in the country. She said she and Buhari also discussed his anti-corruption crusade as well as his commitment to transparency and accountability. AP on US News and World Report

Why does Nigeria Need to Borrow Money?
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has met the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) managing director as the West African country grapples with the fall in global oil prices. His government is trying to secure funds to combat Nigeria’s $11bn (£7.4bn) budget deficit. But Christine Lagarde said she was not holding talks on a loan or a bailout, saying she saw no reason why Nigeria would need IMF money. BBC Monitoring looks at why Nigeria needs to borrow and how crucial oil is to its economy.  BBC

Lagarde Urges Nigeria to diversify its Economy Away From Oil
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, is in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, for a visit aimed at strengthening the body’s partnership with the West African country. As well as meeting the Nigerian president, she is set to hold talks with economic experts, ministers and leading industry figures. Her visit comes at a time when Nigeria, Africa’s leading economy, is facing serious challenges. Inflation is high, the number of unemployed people is rising and insufficient infrastructure, such as the lack of a reliable energy supply, is contributing to the slowdown of Nigeria’s economy. Oil is the country’s main export, but a drastic fall in oil prices has reduced revenues, hitting Nigeria’s economy hard. A continuing struggle against corruption is also hampering Nigeria’s development.  Deutsche Welle

Nigeria Court in Kano Sentences Cleric to Death for Blasphemy
An Islamic court has sentenced a Nigerian cleric to death by hanging for insulting the Prophet Muhammad in the northern city of Kano. Abdul Nyass was convicted after a trial held in secret to avoid protests. Five of his followers were also sentenced to death last year. These are the first death sentences for blasphemy handed down by a Nigerian Sharia court – the sentence has been delivered for other offences such as adultery but none has been carried out. BBC

Boko Haram is Not “Defeated” But Buhari’s Strategy is Working
Shortly after Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated as Nigeria’s new president in May 2015, he boldly declared that Boko Haram would be defeated by the end of the year. The Nigerian and international public were rightfully sceptical. The prior administration under Goodluck Jonathan had declared several times that Africa’s most deadly militant group would be “soon be history” or that its leader Abubakar Shekau was dead, only to see both Boko Haram and Shekau re-emerge stronger than before. However, just before 2015 was over, Buhari announced that he had succeeded in his pledge, claiming that Boko Haram is now “technically defeated”. African Arguments

Nigeria’s Bello Haliru Mohammed ‘Stole Money from Boko Haram Fight’
Former Nigerian defence minister Bello Haliru Mohammed has been charged with money laundering. He is accused along with his son, Bello Abba Mohammed, of diverting $1.5m (£1m) that was meant to buy arms for soldiers fighting Islamist Boko Haram militants. The two men have pleaded not guilty. President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May, set up an investigation into the procurement of weapons for the military, which found that phantom contracts worth $2bn had been awarded. BBC

Algeria Proposes New Draft Constitution with Term Limits
Algeria’s government has released a new draft constitution that would limit presidents to two terms and recognise the language used by Berber minorities as official. The draft, published in state media on Tuesday, is part of reforms promised by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his government after Arab Spring uprisings in neighboring countries in 2011. The constitution, which needs parliamentary approval, would limit presidents to two five-year terms. Long-ailing Bouteflika was re-elected for a fourth term in 2014. The charter would also require a parliamentary majority to name a prime minister, currently appointed by the president.  News 24

Islamic State Militants Target Libya’s Es Sider Oil Port for Second Day
Islamic State militants resumed shelling near the Libyan oil port of Es Sider on Tuesday and an oil storage tank in the port was hit by a long-range rocket causing a fire, a petroleum guards spokesman said. Guards spokesman Ali Hassi said the militants were 30-40 km (19-25 miles) from the port, which they also targeted on Monday in an attack that left seven guards dead and 25 wounded. The National Oil Corporation (NOC) said the oil tank fire had started just as firefighters were close to bringing under control another fire at an oil tank in the nearby port of Ras Lanuf, which was hit during fighting on Monday. Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, Libya’s biggest oil ports, have been closed since December 2014. They are located between the city of Sirte, which is controlled by Islamic State, and the eastern city of Benghazi.  Reuters

Algerian Government Lays Out Draft Constitutional Reforms
Algeria’s government on Tuesday unveiled draft constitutional reforms, including a two-term presidency limit, an obligatory consultation with parliament to name prime ministers and making local Amazigh an official language. Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika promised a package of amendments to strengthen democracy in the North African state, which since independence from France in 1962 has been mostly governed by the ruling FLN party and the military. The proposed reforms, which Bouteflika’s cabinet director Ahmed Ouyahia presented to reporters, will go for approval this month before parliament, the last hurdle before being adopted in the constitution. The president’s allies have a strong majority in parliament.  Reuters

Liberia President Supports Reducing Presidential Term
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she supports the call by Liberians to reduce the presidential term of office from two six-year terms to two four-year terms. A constitution review commission set up by Sirleaf recommended last year to reduce the number of years the president can serve. The commission also recommended the term of office for senators be reduced from the current nine years to six, and representatives from six to four years. Information Minister Lewis Brown said Sirleaf’s support to change the presidential term to two four-year terms is part of her effort to build a democratic governance model that is transparent and that every Liberian can feel a part of. “She has, in fact, written the legislature and she has asked to actually consider amending the presidential term to two four-year terms rather than what it is today which is two six-year terms. In effect, limiting the president to a maximum of eight years in office,” he said.  VOA

Sudan Lost $7 Billion Due to Border Shut Down with S. Sudan: Official
Sudan’s foreign ministry has disclosed they are discussing with the South Sudan the reopening of border between the two countries saying that Sudan’s losses has incurred $7 billion due to stopping cross-border trade. Sudan shut down its border with South Sudan in June 2011 following the eruption of the armed conflict in South Kordofan state, accusing Juba of supporting and harbouring Sudanese rebels. Sudan’s state minister foreign affairs Kamal al-Din Ismail, who briefed the parliament Monday on Sudan’s foreign policy, said his country’s interests were significantly hit by the closure of the border with South Sudan. Sudan Tribune

CAR Peacekeepers Face New Sexual Abuse Allegations
The U.N. mission in the Central African Republic said Tuesday that it was investigating new allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by U.N. peacekeepers and international forces in the country’s capital. The mission, known as MINUSCA, did not give details of the allegations but said staff from the U.N. Children’s Fund had met with four alleged victims, all girls, and were helping them to obtain medical care and assessing their psychosocial needs. There have been at least 17 previous accusations of sexual misconduct by members of the U.N. mission in the CAR. The alleged incidents led U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to fire his top envoy to the country, Babacar Gaye, in August. VOA

UN Eyes Further Troop Cut to DRC Mission
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is recommending that 1 700 troops be cut from the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the second drawdown in two years. Ban said in a report to the Security Council released on Tuesday that a further cut could be decided if progress was made in rooting out rebel groups in the east. The proposal, to be discussed at a council meeting next week, comes amid growing tensions in the DRC over elections in November and whether President Joseph Kabila will seek another term in office. Ban said he was “deeply troubled by the rising political tensions associated with the electoral process” and warned of “a real risk of civil unrest and widespread violence if these tensions remain unaddressed”. News 24

Peru Military Contingent Heads to Africa on Peace Mission
Admiral Jorge Moscoso Flores, Chief of the Joint Staff of the Peruvian Armed Forces on Monday led a farewell ceremony for a military contingent that will join the United Nations peace corps in the Central African Republic. The ceremony, held on Monday afternoon at the Bolognesi Square in the Army headquarters, saw the presence of high-ranking officials of the three military institutions, among other authorities. The act bade farewell to a contingent of the Peru Engineering Company, which will work with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic—Minusca. The Peruvian group, comprising 205 Armed Forces members, is the first Latin American military contingent sent a African nation to perform a peacekeeping mission. 25 out of the total are already in the Central African Republic since early December, 2015 and the remaining 180 will leave tomorrow, the Defense Ministry informed. Andina

Guinea President Reshuffles Cabinet, Aims to Revive Economy
Guinea’s President Alpha Conde has appointed a close confidante as minister of mines and an economist as finance minister in a big government reshuffle aimed at kickstarting an economy recovering from an Ebola epidemic. The reshuffle that brings 16 people into government comes after Conde was elected in October to a second five-year term and follows his decision to name mining executive Mamady Youla as prime minister. The West African country is a major producer of bauxite, an aluminium ore, but growth has slowed due to a slump in metals prices and a two-year epidemic that killed more than 2,500 people and has driven away some investors. Presidential aide Abdoulaye Magassouba was named minister of mines and geology to replace Kerfalla Yansané while Malado Kaba, former country director for the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI), was named finance minister, a statement from the presidency said. VOA

Niger ‘Winning the War’ Against Boko Haram – Army Chief
Niger is “in the process of winning the war” against Boko Haram jihadists who have staged attacks from neighbouring Nigeria since February last year, the army chief, General Seini Garba, said on Tuesday. Boko Haram, which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group in March, has stepped up attacks on areas of Niger, Chad and Cameroon that border Nigeria while also continuing a devastating campaign of suicide and shooting attacks on home soil. The group’s six-year campaign for a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria has killed at least 17 000 people and made more than 2.6 million others homeless. “We feel we are in the process of winning the war even though the terrorist group still has the capacity to harm,” state radio quoted Garba as saying. News 24

South Africa’s ANC to Push for Tougher Anti-Racism Law
South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) says it will push for tougher legislation to jail anyone guilty of “racial bigotry”, or “glorifying” apartheid. Black people could no longer be treated as “sub-humans”, it said. The nation has been gripped by a racism row after Penny Sparrow, an opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) member, on Facebook called black people “monkeys”. She denied she was a racist. The DA party suspended her membership. The racially discriminatory apartheid system ended in South Africa in 1994. It had been introduced in 1948 by the then-white minority government and was later declared by the UN as a crime against humanity. BBC

SANDF Joint Operations “Over-Stretched” on Internal and External Deployments
The SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Joint Operations Division has again confirmed it is over-stretched when it comes to deployments both internally and externally. One example is the border protection tasking Operation Corona where 13 infantry companies supported by four battalion headquarters currently patrol South Africa’s 4,471 km land border with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. The majority of patrol work is done in specially adapted 4×4 bakkies with foot patrols, observation posts and a smattering of aerial support from the SA Air Force. A Joint Operations presentation late last year noted that “we do what we can with what we have, as we acknowledge the military’s role as government’s instrument to achieve internal and external diplomatic and security objectives”. The “what we have” part is aptly described as “funding challenges” in a statement issued by Cabinet’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster. DefenseWeb

Morocco Had Key Intel Role After Paris Attacks
A top Moroccan intelligence official said on Tuesday that it was his country that put French and Belgian police on the trail of the network behind the November attacks in Paris that killed 130, and likely spared more lives by pinpointing the location of the suspected ringleader. The director of the Central Bureau of Judicial Investigations, Abdelhak Khiame, said “this intelligence precisely allowed France to avoid more severe attacks that were planned.” European investigators are trying to piece together the geography of the Nov. 13 attacks, focusing attention not only on Paris and Brussels — where some of the attackers lived — but on other parts of Europe as well as the trail of some to Syria. The Islamic State extremist group claimed responsibility for the attacks on restaurants, cafes, a noted music hall and the sports stadium. AP on Stars and Stripes

Zimbabwe Government Hikes Traffic Fines to Boost Revenue
With the New Year, the Zimbabwean government has put in place new ways of raising revenue.Traffic fines have increased by at least 100 percent, and the fine for running a red light has jumped from $20 to $100. Zimbabwe’s natural resources such as gold, platinum and diamonds have failed to make the country’s economy tick.Now the government is turning to another source to raise funds — traffic fines. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa hiked fines for speeding, running red lights and other infractions by 100 percent or more as of January 1st.This is the first time in Zimbabwe’s history that fines have been used to generate revenue for the government. Tawanda Majoni, an independent analyst in Harare, said it is clear the government is desperate for money. “It has been struggling to pay civil servants, it has been struggling to fund key projects,” she explained. “Apparently it is now looking at fines as one way of raising revenue. But that is a very desperate and sorry way of doing that. What the government is actually doing is to look at crime as a source of income.” VOA

Nigeria Goes to the Mall
[…] The emergence of malls — and mall culture — in Nigeria reflects broad trends on the continent, including a growing middle class with spending power and the rapid expansion of cities like Warri that are little known outside the region. As in America, malls in Nigeria have quickly become hangouts for the young and destinations for families. Their rarity also imbue a sense of exclusivity. Pushing a shopping cart full of food and the latest Chinese smartphone, Wealth Mark, 22, strolled through Delta Mall with his younger sister, Confidence, and her friend, Franca, all with wide smiles. Mr. Mark stopped to take photos of the two young women with the smartphone, then a selfie of all three.  The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones