Media Review for January 7, 2016

‘Dozens Dead’ in Libya Truck Bomb
At least 50 people have been killed by a truck bomb targeting a police training centre in the western Libyan city of Zliten, reports say. Media in Libya said the attack struck the al-Jahfal training camp. The training centre had been a military base during the rule of ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Libya has been hit by instability since his overthrow in 2011, and there is concern Islamic State (IS) militants are gaining a foothold there. The country has been run by two governments – only one of which is recognised by the international community. The Lana news agency, run by the internationally-recognised government, said at least 50 people were killed and 127 injured in the blast, which was reportedly heard 60km (40 miles) away in Misrata.  BBC

The Islamic State’s Next Target: Libyan Oil
Islamic State (IS) militants and Libyan forces were engaged in a pitched battle on Wednesday for coastal oil terminals that experts said hold the key to the extremists establishing control of the country and turning it into a base for future attacks in Africa and Europe. Five oil tanks in the Libyan cities of Es Sider and Ras Lanuf were on fire on Wednesday as IS fighters shelled the Mediterranean port cities, Reuters reported. Libyan National Oil Corporation Chairman Mustafa Sanalla issued a statement urging the various non-IS factions in Libya’s ongoing civil war to form an alliance against the militant group. “I hope this appalling violence will lead political leaders on all sides in Libya to understand the magnitude of the threat we face,” said Sanalla. “I encourage them urgently to put aside their differences. We need to unite against this common enemy, not tomorrow or next week, but now.”  VICE

Peacekeepers Can Still be Deployed to Burundi: Dlamini-Zuma
The African Union Commission (AU) chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, says the continental bloc can still deploy peacekeepers to Burundi, if the violence in the country persists. Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, earlier threatened that his country would fight the deployment of any AU peacekeepers. Burundi has been plunged into unrest since Nkurunziza announced his bid for a third term in April last year. Dlamini-Zuma met with Tanzanian Foreign Minister, Augustine Mahiga, in Durban on Tuesday to discuss Burundi. She says the deployment of peacekeepers is not off the table. “There would have been no reason to send troops if there is no violence. If the violence stops, there would be no reason to deploy any troops but if they were to be deployed it would not be to change regime, it will be to ensure the civilians are protected and that the government installation is also protected.” On Tuesday, it was reported that a senior official said that Burundi’s government will not take part in peace talks with the opposition scheduled for Wednesday, casting fresh doubt on efforts to end months of violence. SABC

Boko Haram Kill Seven in Suicide Attack, Raid
Boko Haram gunmen have mounted their first attacks since Nigeria’s government declared them “technically” defeated, killing seven people in a raid and suicide bombing, residents told AFP on Wednesday. The attacks happened on Tuesday in the northeastern state of Borno, near the Islamists’ Sambisa Forest hideout, where the army is looking to flush out remnants of the rebel group. President Muhammadu Buhari, who has made crushing the rebellion a priority, in December said a sustained counter-offensive had reduced the group’s ability to strike effectively. The first attack happened in Izgeki village, said one resident, who gave his name as Isyaku, from the town of Mubi in neighbouring Adamawa state. News 24

Boko Haram Arrests Worsen Cameroon Prison Conditions
Detention conditions in Cameroon’s prisons are worsening as thousands of people suspected to have links with Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram are thrown in jail. Since 2014, at least 1,300 people have been “arbitrarily arrested, and many held in deplorable conditions, which have led to dozens of deaths,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s director for West and Central Africa. At least 700 of these suspected Boko Haram terrorists are currently detained in Maroua Central Prison, where already poor conditions “have been worsened by these massive arrests of Boko Haram suspects”, the attorney general for the Far North Regional Court of Appeals, Joseph Belporo, told IRIN. Under Cameroon’s 2014 anti-terrorism law, the military and police have been raiding homes and markets along the northern border with Nigeria searching for suspected Boko Haram militants. Most of those taken into custody are teenage boys and men, and they are often arrested dozens at a time. Many families say they still don’t know where their loved ones were taken. IRIN

Shariah Court in Nigeria Sentences 10 to Hangings
A Shariah high court in Nigeria’s northern Kano city has sentenced a Muslim cleric and nine others to death by hanging for blasphemy. The court of Islamic law made the ruling Tuesday against cleric Abdulaziz Dauda and nine others, saying they also incited people to perpetuate religious violence. Those who filed the suit against Dauda say he equated the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with the late leader of another religious order during a public gathering in Kano in August. Prosecutor Lamido Abba Sorondinki said the accused were found guilty after five witnesses, including police, testified against the cleric.  News 24

Nigeria—Act with Resolve, Build Resilience, and Exercise Restraint. By Christine Lagarde
[…] My first visit to Africa as IMF Managing Director was in late 2011, and the first country on my itinerary was Nigeria. At that time, Nigeria was emerging from the 2008-09 commodity price collapse and the banking crisis that followed. Since that visit, Nigeria has been acknowledged as the largest economy in Africa—with a maturing political system. We saw a peaceful general election last year in which, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, there was a democratic transition between two civilian governments. It was a strong sign of Nigeria’s commitment to democracy, to a new Nigeria. At the same time, the external environment has changed. Oil prices have fallen sharply; global financial conditions have tightened; growth in emerging and developing economies has slowed; and geopolitical tensions have increased. All this has come at a time when Nigeria is facing an urgent need to address a massive infrastructure deficit and high levels of poverty and inequality. International Monetary Fund

Burundi’s Ruling Party Stresses Cooperation Over Peace Talks
The Burundian ruling party has called for close cooperation between the Ugandan facilitation in the Burundian peace talks and the National Inter-Burundian dialogue Commission (CNDI), the ruling party said Wednesday in a statement. “The National Inter-Burundian dialogue Commission (CNDI) should be the only legal framework that is mandated to organize, coordinate and implement the dialogue process on behalf of the government. The Ugandan facilitation cannot exclude the CNDI, but they have to cooperate closely,” said Daniel Gelase Ndabirabe, Spokesman of the Burundian ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD). According to Ndabirabe, the Ugandan facilitation and the CNDI have a “challenging task” of presenting an “appropriate model of democracy” for Burundi. “Cooperation between the Ugandan facilitation and the National Inter-Burundian dialogue Commission (CNDI) will lead to the success of the needed inclusiveness,” said Ndabirabe. Xinhua on GlobalPost

Ivory Coast Government Resigns Ahead of Reshuffle
Ivory Coast’s government resigned on Wednesday after President Alassane Ouattara vowed to bring more “efficiency” to the West African state just two months after he was re-elected. Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan presented his resignation and that of his government at what was to have been the first cabinet meeting of the year in a move observers said was expected. But after praising the 73-year-old economist for astutely handling his brief during three years in the post, Ouattara’s office said Kablan Duncan would remain as head of a new team. “The president of the republic (has signed) a decree nominating Daniel Kablan Duncan as prime minister and government head and has instructed him to propose a new government as soon as possible,” presidential secretary general Amadou Gon Coulibaly said. AFP on Yahoo News

Tunisian PM reshuffles cabinet amid security, economic challenges
Tunisian Prime Minister Habib Essid named 12 new ministers on Wednesday in a cabinet reshuffle he hopes will boost the effectiveness of his government as it battles jihadist violence and tries to revive the economy. Tunisia has been under a state of emergency since an Islamic State suicide bomber attacked presidential guards in November in the capital Tunis following two previous militant attacks on foreign tourists that have damaged the country’s economy. Essid named new ministers of the interior, justice and foreign affairs, among others. He gave no reason for the changes but late last year he said he would replace ministers to increase the efficiency of his government. Tunisia, praised as a model for democratic transition since its 2011 revolt ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, has mostly avoided the violent turmoil of other “Arab Spring” countries which also toppled long-standing rulers. Reuters

Senior Tunisian Ruling Party Member Says to Break Away
A senior member of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi’s ruling party said on Wednesday he plans to break away and form a new political movement because of a perceived power play by Essebsi’s son. The rift in Nidaa Tounes, a secular movement formed after Tunisia’s 2011 revolt against Zine Abidine Ben Ali, comes at a delicate time as the North African state struggles to contain jihadist violence and spur economic growth. Divisions have been growing inside Nidaa Tounes — which means Call of Tunisia — since last year after a dispute emerged between a wing of the party led by Essebsi’s son and another by Mohsen Marzouk, a leftist activist and one of its founders. Marzouk leads a group of 30 Nidaa Tounes lawmakers who threatened to resign over what they said were attempts by Hafhed Caid Essebsi to change regulations in a bid to exercise greater control over the party. The president denied those allegations. Reuters

Algeria Orders 12 Sukhoi Su-34 Jets from Russia
Algeria has placed an order for 12 Sukhoi-made Su-34 fighter-bombers from Russia as part of the country’s effort to modernize its fleet. The request comes after eight years of negotiations between Algeria and Russia, and believed to be part of a $7.5 billion arms deal signed by Algerian and Russian officials in 2006, which also included anti-missile systems and other defense equipment, according to Defense News. “We have resumed talks on the sale of export Su-32 bombers to Algeria,” Russian news source Vedomosti quoted Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association director general Sergey Smirnov as saying. The Su-32 is the export version of the Su-34, and is designed for tactical deployment against air, ground and naval targets. Modifications include enhancements in electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. UPI

Somalia Joins Saudi Backlash Against Iran
Somalia has joined Saudi Arabia in the backlash against Iran over the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in Mashad. Somali Foreign Affairs ministry issued a condemnation Monday, written in Arabic, of the mob attack. The attack came following last Friday’s execution by Saudi Arabia of dissident Shi’ite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The execution has caused an uproar in the Shi’ite Muslim world. Like Saudi Arabia, Somalia is predominantly Sunni. Other Sunni-led countries that have backed Saudi Arabia in its row with Iran are Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain. The latter, though with a Shi’ite majority, is led by a Sunni elite. Africa Review

German Cabinet Approves More Soldiers for Mali, Iraq
The German cabinet has approved plans to send up to 650 soldiers to Mali, boosting its presence in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the West African country which is beset by Islamist militant violence. It also agreed to increase the numbers of soldiers training Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to up to 150 from 100. The majority of the German forces who will start going to Mali in the coming weeks will be stationed in the north of the country which has seen an upsurge of violence by Islamist militants. Working with Dutch forces who operate a military camp in the northern city of Gao, they will carry out reconnaissance work and provide logistical support. Germany’s lower house of parliament is due to decide on both missions at the end of January.  Reuters

Uganda Opposition Dismisses Claims it is Forming Militias
Ugandan opposition parties have dismissed claims by the government that some presidential elections candidates had created militia groups ahead of the forthcoming polls as propaganda. The parties were reacting to claims that President Yoweri Museveni’s opponents in next month polls had set up militia to fight their rivals. “I do not believe any candidate is recruiting militias. The government is trying to tarnish us for sympathy votes,” opposition parliamentary candidate, James Olam said. On Monday, government said it had received information that some presidential candidates were recruiting militia to cause havoc should they fail to win the elections. Africa Report

Uganda’s 2016 Elections: Same Same But Different?
Uganda is currently gearing up for presidential and parliamentary elections on 18 February in which President Yoweri Museveni will be contesting for a fifth term in office. Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) first came to power in 1986 after an armed struggle, and the 71-year-old incumbent is vying for his third presidential term since 2005 when the multi-party system was re-introduced and term limits were lifted. In 2011, Museveni garnered 68% of the vote, improving on his 2006 election win with 59%. Nine candidates are competing for the presidency this time around, although it is essentially a three-horse race. Museveni is, of course, one frontrunner; Kizza Besigye, a long-time opposition leader and retired colonel, who will be running for the fourth time on the ticket of the largest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), is another; and completing the leading pack is John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, a former Prime Minister and former NRM Secretary General, who will be running under the GoForward banner.  The African Arguments

This Politician’s Philosophy: No Perks For You
It’s a hard life for Tanzanian public officials these days. No more driving your limousine to villages. No more flying first class to meetings in Europe. You can’t even send Christmas cards on the taxpayer’s dime. President John Magufuli, elected in October, has banned these things. He canceled the country’s Independence Day celebrations, saying it would be shameful to spend millions of dollars on fancy parties and military parades in a country battling cholera. And he even restricted the amount of refreshments allowed at official meetings. “There will be only juices and water,” says Emmanuel Makundi, a journalist for Radio France’s International Swahili service in Dar es Salaam. “And maybe some bananas. But the president says, you can take your breakfast at home!” NPR

As Britain Resumes Flights to Sharm el-Sheikh, Will the Country Recover from Terror Crash?
For the Britons who flock to Sharm el-Sheikh every year, the Red Sea resort is a chance for sun and a little relaxation. But for the tens of thousands of young Egyptian staff who pour their drinks and hand out their beach towels, Sharm el-Sheikh is a window onto an otherwise distant world. Many of the Egyptian workers are from small villages in the conservative Nile Valley and grew up in religious homes with little exposure to foreigners. Sharm el-Sheikh offers them the chance to do what would be unthinkable back home: learn foreign languages; see liberal Western lifestyles up close; and, in some cases, date European women. Yet as tourist numbers dwindle in the wake of the alleged bombing of a Russian passenger jet – and the subsequent halt of all flights from the UK – many of these young men worry they will lose their jobs and be forced back to the narrow lives they thought they had escaped. The Telegraph

C.A.R. Presidential Election Likely to Go to 2nd Round
The National Election Authority in Bangui raced to beat a deadline to announce the results from the December 30 presidential poll. With more than 70 percent of the votes counted, the Central African Republic’s presidential election looks set to go to a second round. Both of the two leading candidates are former prime ministers who served under ousted president Francois Bozize. The Authority’s logistics officer, René Sankanga, said some votes have yet to arrive in the capital. The votes from the refugees and the Diaspora in Chad arrived Wednesday in Bangui, but votes from France and some regions have not arrived, he said. The Election Authority hopes they will arrive by Thursday so results can be announced.  VOA

Two Guantanamo Inmates Transferred to Ghana
The Pentagon has announced that two inmates from the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba have been transferred to Ghana. The decision to move the two suspected terrorists from the prison was based on several factors — including security matters — after a comprehensive review of their cases. Ghana’s foreign ministry identifies the two former prisoners as being from Yemen and says they were cleared of all terror charges. It says Ghana, as a member of the international community, has a responsibility to assist in what it calls the “international crisis situation,” including accepting refugees from Syria. The Pentagon says 105 prisoners remain at Guantanamo. VOA

Ethiopia: People in Addis Ababa are Scared, Living Under ‘Martial Law’, says Opposition
At least 150 people have been killed in an ongoing deadly crackdown against protests in Ethiopia, according to rights activists and opposition groups. Demonstrators in the Oromia region have been protesting for the past six weeks against the government’s plans to extend the boundaries of the capital Addis Ababa. “I am worried,” says Eyasped Tesfaye, a member of the opposition Blue Party, saying it is taboo to talk about the reported 150 people allegedly killed by Ethiopian security forces in the capital. “The people in the Oromia region are under martial law,” he adds. RFI

The Questions No One is Asking About Eritrea
In one of the latest major media reports on the large numbers of refugees fleeing Eritrea, the BBC followed in the footsteps of many of its predecessors. In the ‘Exodus from Eritrea’ radio discussion, the BBC World Service began by asking why so many Eritreans are leaving the country. In response, the discussants mentioned the usual suspects: the country’s indefinite national service; UN sanctions over outdated reports of Eritrean assistance to al-Shabaab; Ethiopia’s occupation of the disputed town of Badme; economic collapse; and human rights abuses. The programme then asked what can be done to stem the flow of refugees. On this question, the idea of enhancing international engagement with Eritrea on issues of trade and investment was proposed as well as greater support regarding border demarcation and increased aid. Attention was drawn to the fact that isolation and punitive measures aimed at the ruling PFDJ has so far failed to bring Eritrea “in from the cold“. The African Argument

Benin Politicians Criticise PM’s Bid for Presidency
A group of politicians and union leaders in Benin say they are opposed to Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou standing for the presidency, claiming he was “parachuted in” by former colonial power France. Zinsou, a Franco-Beninese financier, quit last year as head of one of Europe’s biggest investment funds to become prime minister of the tiny west African nation in a move that surprised many. In November, he was named candidate for outgoing President Thomas Boni Yayi’s Cowry Forces for an Emerging Benin (FCBE) party at elections on February 28. A coalition of political and union figures, led by former head of state Nicephore Soglo, claimed there was a plot to “impose” Zinsou as a candidate and demanded France explain itself. News 24

South African Farmers See Pain as U.S. Trade Deal Unravels
South African fruit, wine and nut farmers are bracing for hardship as the U.S. looks set to rescind their duty-free access to the world’s largest market at a time when they’re already facing the worst drought in more than two decades and rising input costs. South Africa missed a Dec. 31 deadline to remove barriers on beef and chicken imports from the U.S., placing it at risk of losing trade preferences for its agricultural goods under the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act, or AGOA. South Africa exported $154 million worth of farm goods under the program in the first nine months of last year, according to the Trade Law Centre, which is based in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town. “The U.S. is the crown jewel of our markets,” Piet Smit, a citrus farmer in the southwestern town of Citrusdal, said by telephone on Tuesday. “If we lose the AGOA benefits there will be extra costs that the farmers will have to swallow.”  Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones