Media Review for July 1, 2016

At Least 15 Killed in Suicide Bomb Attacks in North Cameroon
Two suicide bombings carried out by Islamic extremists in northern Cameroon have killed at least 15 people and wounded dozens, authorities said Thursday. The attacks late Wednesday hit a video club and a mosque near Cameroon’s border with Nigeria, said Midjiyawa Bakary, governor of Cameroon’s Far North region. At least 50 people were wounded, he said. Boko Haram has killed at least 480 civilians in Cameroon since the extremist group significantly increased attacks there starting in July 2015, Amnesty International said Thursday. Northern Cameroon has suffered more than 200 attacks blamed on Boko Haram in that time, including nearly 40 suicide bombings in the Far North region, the rights group said. AP on The Washington Post

Violence Around Lake Chad is Leading Nowhere – Just Deepening Divides
The male recovery ward in the hospital is all in blue: blue sheets, pillows, curtains. Outside, the temperature hovers around 40 degrees: inside, large fans keep the air moving. All the beds are occupied by adults – except one. Eight-year-old Abba is the exception. He’s hunched against the wall under the window, and he watches me carefully as I approach. I’ve been told he was injured when he was forced to flee his home, not far from here in Maiduguri, northern Nigeria. At first glance, he doesn’t look too bad. Just a small bandage on his arm. Then I realise something’s not quite right. There is only one foot protruding from under the sheet. Abba has lost his right leg. He looks at me, as if he expects me to say something, or do something. But what can I do? Suddenly, the electricity cuts out and the heat invades the ward. The Guardian

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s Bodyguard Arrested for Having ties to Boko Haram
A bodyguard of President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly been arrested for having close ties with Boko Haram militants. According to Vanguard, Hassan Aminu who was a personal bodyguard to Buhari, was taken into custody by security operatives to be interrogated. The presidency, however, could not be reached for comment regarding the reports. The claim was alarming as it suggested that Boko Haram managed to manipulate itself to get extremely close to the president. News 24

Nigeria Signs $80bn Oil and Gas Infrastructure Deals with China
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, has signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with several Chinese firms for over $80 billion new investments, spanning five years, in the oil and gas industry covering pipelines, refineries, gas and power, facility refurbishments and upstream financing. Speaking exclusively to This Day yesterday from Beijing, China, Kachikwu said the agreements had been executed during the three-day roadshow in the Asian country to attract investments to Nigeria’s oil and gas sector. The objective, he said, is to bridge the infrastructure funding gaps in the Nigerian oil and gas sector. He said: “I can confirm that we had a successful outing and finally raised investment commitments and signed MoUs worth $80 billion. This Day

Libyans Are Winning the Battle Against the Islamic State
[…] The Islamic State first announced its presence in Libya in the eastern town of Derna in October 2014. A mix of local jihadi groups and returnees from the Syria war formed an affiliate and soon established a base in Sirte and its surrounding hamlets, also setting up cells in the capital of Tripoli and in the western town of Sabratha. The Islamic State’s central leadership in Iraq and Syria bolstered this growth by dispatching advisors and redirecting flows of foreign volunteers to Libya. But starting in the middle of last year, the Libyan affiliate began losing ground to local armed groups in Derna, Benghazi, and Sabratha. Sirte, however, remained untouched — until now. That changed in early May of this year, when a coalition of armed groups affiliated with Libya’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) launched a campaign to wrest the coastal city from the terrorist group. Dubbed Al-Bunyan al-Marsus, or “The Solid Structure,” the operation began after the Islamic State overran a checkpoint west of Sirte guarded by fighters from the nearby city of Misrata. Foreign Policy

UN Extends Darfur Mission Despite Sudan Opposition
The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of an international peacekeeping force in Darfur for a year over fierce opposition from the Sudanese government. On Wednesday, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to June 30 next year, saying that the situation in Sudan threatened global peace and security. About 18,000 troops and police from more than 30 countries will continue to deploy as part of the peacekeeping mission in Darfur, a region the size of France where tens of thousands of civilians have been killed since 2003. The UNAMID mission was first deployed in Darfur in 2007, a compromise between Western calls for a fully-fledged UN peacekeeping mission and Khartoum’s insistence on an African solution. The Security Council decided to extend its mandate after “determining that the situation in Sudan constitutes a threat to international peace and security,” said the resolution adopted on Wednesday. The East African

Senate Confirms New Air Force, AFRICOM Commanders
The Senate has confirmed two senior generals to lead the Air Force and the command responsible for military operations in Africa. By voice vote late Wednesday, senators approved the nominations of Gen. David Goldfein to be the Air Force’s chief of staff and Gen. Thomas Waldhauser to run U.S. Africa Command. Goldfein had been serving as the service’s No. 2 uniformed officer. Air Force Secretary Deborah James on Thursday tweeted her congratulations to Goldfein. She says his swearing-in is set for Friday.  AP on the Washington Post

At Least 18 Killed by a Roadside Bomb in Somalia
At least 18 civilians were killed when a roadside bomb went off on Thursday in Somalia’s Lafole town, southwest of the capital, blowing up a packed mini-bus that was passing by, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The al Shabaab militants have frequently launched attacks against security forces and civilians around the country in the past. The group wants to topple the Western-backed government. “All the 18 people on board the mini-bus are dead and burnt. A remotely controlled bomb along the road exploded,” said Abidkadir Mohamed, a police officer at the scene. Nur Ahmed, who was driving along the same road, said the mini-bus was being escorted by a vehicle carrying troops. A government truck full of soldiers followed by the minibus overtook him at high speed before he heard a loud explosion, Ahmed said. “The government car which was probably the target escaped undamaged,” he said. Reuters

ISIS Makes Inroads into Kenya
Recent arrests show the Islamic State’s growing presence in East Africa, where they are recruiting young Kenyans for jihad abroad and raising fears some of them will return to threaten the country. Kenyan intelligence agencies estimate that around 100 men and women may have gone to join the ISIS in Libya and Syria, triggering concern that some may come back to stage attacks on Kenyan and foreign targets in a country already victim to regular, deadly terrorism. “There is now a real threat that Kenya faces from ISIS and the danger will continue to increase,” said Rashid Abdi, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group think tank in Nairobi. The problem of eager but often untrained extremists gaining terrorist skills with ISIS and coming home to launch attacks is one European nations are already grappling with, and may soon be Kenya’s problem too. News 24

Trouble in the Heart of Mali: Unrest in Central Regions Threatens Deeper Instability
The Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA) takes its cue from the National Liberation Movement of Azawad (MNLA), drivers of the Tuareg insurgency in January 2012 and still pursuing a quasi-separatist agenda. The other group, the “Platform”, is a loose collection of armed movements, broadly described as pro-government, but from diverse constituencies and driven by different, local agendas. Both before Algiers and since, there have been localised conflicts and a relentless war of words between these northern factions. But Jean-Hervé Jézéquel of the International Crisis Group has noted a rapprochement of late, with both CMA and the Platform directing verbal fire less at each other and more at the government, criticising its slow progress in addressing the north’s political and economic exclusion and the stalled Demobilisation, Disarmament, and Reintegration process. Much will ultimately hinge on the tactics adopted by these rival blocs, but Mali watchers are also concerned by two developing trends: the growing reach and changing tactics of jihadist groups, and the unrest erupting in previously peaceful central regions. IRIN

Ivorian Opposition Rejects Plans for Constitutional Referendum
Twenty-three opposition parties in Ivory Coast on Thursday issued a joint declaration against President Alassane Ouattara’s “authoritarian” plans for a referendum on constitutional reforms. “The signatories reject the anti-democratic, authoritarian and unilateral procedure of the president for a new constitution,” the parties’ document said, urging Quattara to drop the plan. The 73-year-old president was re-elected to a second five-year term in October promising to draft a new constitution, notably suppressing a clause on national identity that has driven bloody civil conflict. The so-called “Ivorian-ness” clause in the existing charter, which took effect in 2000, stipulates that both parents of a presidential candidate must be born on Ivorian soil, and not have sought nationality in another country.  News 24

Burundi Marks Diplomatic Day Ahead of Independence Celebrations
Burundian Foreign Minister Alain Nyamitwe led a delegation of the foreign diplomatic corps on a tour of parts of the country Thursday as part of the East African nation’s diplomatic day. The annual event gives diplomats a chance to see activities across the country firsthand and engage with senior government officials. “Today we had the opportunity to go and visit the source of the Nile River in the south of Burundi in Bururi province, and later on we also visited a flagship sugar factory of Burundi, Sosumo,” Nyamitwe said. The diplomats “came to know the importance of this factory in the economy of our country, and also of our region.” The foreign minister called the trip “very significant, because it has allowed the diplomatic community to see for themselves that the country is doing well.” VOA

US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa
The U.S. State Department released its annual Trafficking in Persons report Thursday and again, Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds — from forced labor to sexual slavery. Again this year, not one African nation made the report’s top tier — which is dominated by developed Western nations like the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. The State Department says the ratings are based more on the extent of government action to combat trafficking than the size of the country’s problem. A significant number of African countries remain at the lowest possible ranking. VOA

Ghana Cautioned to end Modern Slavery or Risk Losing U.S. Aid
Ghana has been cautioned by the United States to increase its efforts to end modern day slavery or risk losing millions of dollars in aid. The West African country has been listed second year in a row as a Tier 2 Watch List country in the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report released on Thursday by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Ghana’s position means its government is not fully meeting the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons and failed to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in the past year, the US Department of State explained in a statement. Africa News

6 Egypt Soldiers Killed in Clash with Smugglers
Egypt’s military said six soldiers were killed in clashes with armed smugglers near the country’s western border with Libya on Thursday. The soldiers were patrolling the border when they “came under surprise fire” from the smugglers, a military statement said, adding that a number of smugglers were killed in the exchange of fire. Egypt has contended with jihadists in the western desert and along the border with Libya, as well as smugglers who bring in weapons and drugs across the long frontier. It has also been battling a jihadist insurgency in its eastern Sinai peninsula that has killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers. News 24

The International Development Implications of Brexit
Both the European Union and the United Kingdom are important players in international development, in fact the EU is the single largest foreign aid provider; and the United Kingdom’s own aid programs, run by the Department for International Development, or DfID, are considered some of the more innovative agencies in this space.Also, the UK is one of just a few countries to actually have met a commitment to spend 0.7% of its gross national income on global development. UN Dispatch

East Africa’s Biggest Broadcaster to Close Radio and TV Stations
East African’s largest media company has announced it’s shutting down three of its radio stations and one television channel in a move that has shocked the region’s media industry. Kenya’s Nation Media Group (NMG) announced the decision in a statement sent to employees on Thursday. It said the company needed to move to a more digital and mobile-friendly business model. “We are reorganising ourselves with the objective of transforming the group into a modern 21st century digital content company embracing a digital/mobile first business model,” the statement read. With 1,800 employees spread out across its 21 print, broadcast and online divisions in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi, NMG is one of Africa’s largest media organisations. The Guardian

Zimbabwe’s Debt-shifting Gamble Brings it out of the Cold
Zimbabwe’s debt-shifting gamble brings it out of the cold Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told RFI he was desperately searching for credit on a visit to Paris on Thursday. He talked to business leaders about investment opportunities to revive the country’s struggling economy. He also met with financial lenders at the Paris Club to conclude a deal on repaying almost two billion dollars of arrears. If finalised, the debt deal would signal Zimbabwe’s return to financial markets after almost two decades. RFI

Guinea-Bissau Faces Budget Shortfall after IMF Stops Payments
Guinea-Bissau is facing a “catastrophic” economic situation, with a gaping budget deficit, after the International Monetary Fund suspended its support over two private bank bailouts, the finance minister said on Thursday. The IMF said on June 3 it was halting payments after the tiny nation’s government went against its advice and took on around 35 billion CFA francs ($59 million) in underperforming debt from Banco da Africa Ocidental and Banco da União. “The economic situation of the country is catastrophic. The state has a deficit of 22.4 billion CFA francs,” Finance Minister Henrique Horta told reporters. The deficit amounts to about 3.5 percent of GDP. While inflation remained steady at 3 percent and the state had earned 113 billion CFA francs from sales of cashews, Guinea-Bissau’s primary cash crop, he said the IMF’s suspension of support was crippling. “If the country does not have the IMF programme, the other lenders will not have confidence in us,” he said. The IMF had planned to allocate 6.1 billion CFA francs ($10.34 million) to Guinea Bissau in 2016. Reuters

Why Congo Miners Fear President Kabila’s Guards
The Democratic Republic of Congo may be one of the richest countries in the world in terms of mineral wealth but eight out of 10 Congolese people live in extreme poverty. Fighting over huge mineral deposits in the eastern region have led to ongoing conflict in the area, perpetrated by both Congolese and foreign militia. The BBC’s Maud Jullien went to the south-eastern province of Katanga, where artisanal miners are complaining of forced expulsions at the hands of the presidential guards. BBC

Nigerian City of Lagos Shuts ‘Noisy’ Churches and Mosques
Authorities in Nigeria’s Lagos State have shut 70 churches and 20 mosques in an attempt to reduce high noise levels. About 10 hotels, pubs and club houses were also closed, officials said. Some estimates put Lagos’ population at around 20 million, creating a constant background of noise – from the blaring of car horns, to the Muslim call to prayer and loud singing in churches. The state government has vowed to make the city, the biggest in Africa, noise-free by 2020. BBC



Photo: Adam Jones