Media Review for July 13, 2016

Hundreds ‘Forcibly Disappeared’ in Egypt
Egypt’s security services have forcibly made hundreds of people disappear and tortured them in the past year to try to tackle dissent, a rights group says. Students, political activists and protesters – some as young as 14 – have vanished without a trace, according to a new report by Amnesty International. Many are alleged to have been held for months and often kept blindfolded and handcuffed for the entire period. Egypt’s government has denied it uses enforced disappearances and torture. BBC

AU Weighs Sending Troops to South Sudan
The African Union (AU) is considering sending troops to South Sudan, as a last resort to quell the wide scale violence that broke out between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing Vice President, Riek Machar. At least 300 people were reported killed including two Chinese peacekeepers while thousands of civilians fled the capital Juba. In a closed door emergency meeting during the 27th AU Summit in Kigali on Monday, delegates discussed the possibility of sending a neutral armed force to separate both groups of fighters, protect the unarmed civilians and enforce the peace agreement signed in August last year. The East African

South Sudan’s Opposition Refutes Rumoured Death of Top Army Officers
South Sudanese armed opposition faction dismissed as “white lie” a claim by government officials that they killed their top army officers. Sporadic shooting into the air rocked the South Sudanese national capital, Juba, on Monday night as soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir celebrated their claimed victory after circulated rumours suggested that they had killed General Simon Gatwech Dual, Chief of General Staff of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), during their four days of fighting in Juba with forces loyal to First Vice President, Riek Machar. Sudan Tribune

Deputy’s Forces On Run After South Sudan Fighting Kills 270
Fighters loyal to South Sudan’s deputy leader are on the run after President Salva Kiir’s soldiers forced them from bases in the capital following days of violence that left at least 272 people dead and raised the prospect of a return to all-out civil war. The government is searching for Vice President Riek Machar’s troops who’ve been “dislodged” from their main base at Jebel and sites in the rest of the capital, Juba, in clashes since Friday, Lul Ruai Koang, a spokesman for the president’s army, said by phone from the city. Machar’s forces have fled the city, according to an opposition official, who described the violence as a coup against the East African country’s transitional administration by factions opposed to the power-sharing peace deal. The last time there was serious fighting in Juba, a full-scale civil war ensued in the oil-producing nation that drove 2 million people from their homes and killed tens of thousands. Bloomberg

Precarious Calm in South Sudan’s Capital as Foreigners Flee
Embassies and aid organizations in South Sudan were trying to evacuate staff from the capital, Juba, on Tuesday as a precarious calm settled over the city following several days of deadly clashes. “Several hundred people have already been killed, including civilians seeking refuge. Some of the civilians killed were reportedly targeted based on their ethnicity,” the U.N. special adviser on preventing genocide, Adama Dieng, said in a statement Tuesday. South Sudan’s government has said at least 272 have been killed, including 33 civilians, in fighting that broke out Thursday night with gunfire between opposing army forces that raised fears of a return to civil war. President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader, First Vice President Riek Machar, declared separate cease-fires Monday night. Military trucks drove up and down Juba’s roads with megaphones Tuesday, ordering soldiers back to barracks. AP on Yahoo News

South Sudan Reject Arms Embargo, Says Undermines Sovereignty
South Sudanese government has rejected a global proposal seeking consensus to impose an arms embargo on the young nation, questioning the intention behind the advocacy. “What is the reason for these sanctions? The president is fully committed to implementing the peace agreement. The rebel leader Riek Machar has returned and the transitional government of national unity has been formed,” explained South Sudanese ambassador to neighbouring country of Kenya. Ambassador Chol Mawut Unguec Ajonga, argued that the arms embargo would reduce the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the official army of South Sudan, to carrying “only sticks.” “What do they want? Do they want our national army to carry only sticks,” he asked in an interview with the London based British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Monday on the situation in the country. Sudan Tribune

Would an Arms Embargo on South Sudan Work?
In the aftermath of scenes of South Sudanese helicopter gunships attacking opposition positions in the capital, Juba, the UN Security Council has been urged to impose an arms embargo and is discussing the situation today. The move has been blocked by member states before, and experts are deeply sceptical it can work. “Even if an embargo is imposed, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be enforced,” said the author of a report published today by the Small Arms Survey’s Human Security Baseline Assessment, which monitors conflict in Sudan and South Sudan. The SAS report shows that an arms embargo on the Darfur region of neighbouring Sudan has been violated frequently, with no repercussions. IRIN

East Africa’s IGAD Seek Special UN Mandate to Secure South Sudan’s Capital
East Africa’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, is seeking a revision of UN Peacekeeping force in South Sudan (UNMISS)’s mandate in an effort to set up an intervention brigade that will secure Juba, that country’s capital. Fighting between forces of President Salva Kiir and those loyal to vice president Riek Machar flared four days ago. Reports from Juba say up to 270 South Sudanese have been killed in the fighting – risking a return to civil war and further instability in a volatile and poor region of Africa. The East African bloc – Intergovernmental Authority on Development’ (IGAD) council of ministers on Monday held an emergency meeting to address the renewed fighting in South Sudan. The Africa Report

Ugandan Army to Evacuate Citizens from South Sudan
Despite claims on Tuesday from South Sudan’s ambassador to Kenya that recent fighting in Juba has ended, neighboring Uganda has ordered its armed forces to evacuate Kampala’s citizens stranded across the border. South Sudan ambassador to Kenya, Chol Ajongo, told reporters in Nairobi on Tuesday that the official death toll from days of fighting stands at 272. Both South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel leader-turned-vice president Riek Machar called for a unilateral cease-fire on Monday in the capital Juba after several days of fierce battles between their respective forces. Fighting broke out in the South Sudanese capital on Friday, with heavy weapons such as tanks, helicopter gunships and artillery involved, leaving thousands of people displaced or seeking shelter in United Nations properties. Anadolu Agency

Pastor in Zimbabwe Is Arrested as Anger Toward Robert Mugabe Builds
The authorities in Zimbabwe on Tuesday arrested a pastor who organized the country’s largest protests in a decade, and whose activism has galvanized public anger over President Robert Mugabe’s 36-year rule and the nation’s crumbling economy. The pastor, the Rev. Evan Mawarire, 39, was charged in the capital, Harare, with inciting public violence. The police also searched his home and church, looking for a stolen police helmet and baton as well as subversive material, according to a search warrant. The police arrested Mr. Mawarire a day before additional protests were planned for Wednesday and Thursday. Last Wednesday, the capital and other cities shut down as many Zimbabweans responded to calls by Mr. Mawarire and other protest leaders to stay home from work. The New York Times

Five Political Parties Boycott Burundi Peace Talks
Representatives of five parties that participated in Burundi’s general election boycotted a second round of peace talks Tuesday in the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha. Burundi has been mired in a crisis that has killed more than 450 people since President Pierre Nkurunziza pursued and won a third term last year. Opponents said his move violated the constitution and a peace deal that ended a civil war in 2005. Dialogue in Bujumbura last year between the government and opponents failed to bridge differences, and talks mediated by Uganda earlier this year also swiftly stalled. The five parties were unhappy with the decision of the mediator, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, to invite Burundians accused of human rights violations and involvement in an attempted coup against Nkurunziza in May 2015. VOA

Uganda’s Opposition Leader Granted Bail
The High Court in Kampala Tuesday July 12, granted bail former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, 24 hours after the decision had been deferred. High Court judge Justice Wilson Masalu Musene delivered his ruling which on Monday had been deferred pending court’s verification of the applicant’s age. In his ruling, delivered amidst tight security at the High Court, Justice Masalu Musene cited the legal provision that unless one has confessed to the crime, the accused person is innocent until proven guilty. In addition, court said that on his conduct past and present, Dr Besigye fulfilled the conditions for bail. The East African

ICC Refers Uganda and Djibouti to UN for Not Arresting al-Bashir
The ICC referred the two African countries to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties, which represents the nations that have ratified the court, on Tuesday. “It is now up to them to take the measures they deem necessary regarding this matter,” the court said. The ICC has issued warrants to arrest Sudanese strongman Omar al-Bashir over a series of crimes, including three separate accounts of genocide. The Sudanese president is also wanted on suspicion of murder, torture, and rape in the nation’s breakaway region of Darfur. Some 300,000 people have died in the violence. Sudan does not recognize the ICC’s authority and considers itself outside of its jurisdiction. Al-Bashir himself denies the charges. Deutsche Welle

President Kagame Sacks Health Minister over Corruption
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame today sacked the country’s Health Minister Dr Agnès Binagwaho, whose five-year term has been ridden with scandals. Social media users woke up to the news of the sacking of the minister, some tweeting ‘finally’, as the firing letter signed by the Prime Minister made rounds. “In accordance with the Constitution as amended to date, specifically article 116, President Paul Kagame has removed from cabinet Dr Agnès Binagwaho,” the short statement signed by Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi reads. Dr Binagwaho has been heading the health docket since May 2011 after she was elevated from the position of Permanent Secretary but her tenure has been ridden with major scandals over the years even as she held on the position. The East African

Gao Protest Turns Deadly as Malian army Opens Fire
Malian soldiers opened fire on anti-government demonstrators in the northern city of Gao on Tuesday, killing three and wounding at least 31, two doctors at a hospital that received the bodies told Reuters. The protesters were angry about the introduction of a new interim authority set to take charge of the region on Friday, which they said would give power to armed groups and would not benefit local people. The Malian government did not immediately respond to requests for comment. France 24

Dlamini-Zuma Leaves ‘Big Shoes to Fill’ at AU
Whoever replaces Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s as chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) is going to have big shoes to fill,” Ndumiso Ntshinga, South Africa’s ambassador to the African Union (AU), told the African News Agency (ANA) on Tuesday. One of the crucial events which is expected take place at the 27th AU Summit in Kigali will be the election of a new AUC chairperson to replace Dlamini-Zuma. The positions of deputy chairperson and four commissioners (Political Affairs; Human Resources, Science and Technology; Infrastructure and Energy; and Rural Economy and Agriculture) are also open. IOL News

Why Congress’ Zika Impasse Could Awaken Ebola Menace
While Congress dithers over the advancing Zika virus, another smoldering epidemic keeps threatening to burst back into flame. Ebola. Emergency funds to fight that deadly virus may run out in October because they were poached to fight Zika until Congress agreed on a plan to battle the new, mosquito-borne epidemic. And that’s a major problem because while Ebola has subsided as a threat, it hasn’t ended. It could burst into alarming bloom as it did in mid-2014 unless there are forces and resources on the ground to fight it, say senior federal health officials. That’s been overlooked in the fight over Zika, where the idea that Ebola is “over” has colored the increasingly partisan stalemate on how much to spend on Zika and where the money should come from. Right now, the odds are that Congress will leave town until early September without setting aside more Zika money — forcing health authorities to keep drawing on Ebola funds. Politico

How Tunisia’s Security Agencies are Confronting Infiltration Attempts
Online news site Akher Khabar reported June 27 that Tunisia’s Ministry of Defense had dismissed four soldiers on charges of religious extremism, saying it had “obtained documents showing their dismissal by the administrative court.It is not the first time that members of Tunisia’s security and military establishments have been dismissed on charges of religious extremism and collaboration with jihadi organizations active in the country. In September 2015, Tunisia’s Ministry of Interior dismissed 110 security members on suspicion of having ties with terrorist organizations. The ministry claimed that the suspects were affiliated with “various agencies, including the police, gendarmerie, army and customs.”  Al Monitor

Algeria Rips House Appropriators over Sahara Coercion
Algeria is warning US lawmakers of “consequences” if they continue siding with regional rival Morocco in the dispute over the Western Sahara. In a letter to House appropriators late last month, Ambassador to Washington Madjid Bouguerra expressed his “deep disappointment” with language in the pending annual foreign aid spending bill that echoes Rabat’s stance on the decades-old conflict. Morocco claims the disputed territory and administers about 85% of it, while many indigenous Sahrawis have taken refuge across the border in Tindouf, Algeria. Al Monitor

Mauritania Charges Anti-slavery Activists over Slum Riot
Twenty-three anti-slavery activists in Mauritania were charged Tuesday with public order offences and belonging to a banned abolitionist movement over their involvement in a slum riot last month. Hereditary systems of slavery still exist in Mauritania despite an official ban, where those belonging to “slave castes” are forced to work as cattle herders and domestic servants without pay. The members of the Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) were arrested on June 29 during clashes when police tried to clear a slum that was home to many “Haratin” — a traditional slave caste — in the capital Nouakchott. A dozen police were injured. Middle East Eye

Six Boko Haram Suspects, Including Chief, Arrested in Nigeria
Six suspected Boko Haram members, including a senior leader, were arrested after a local vigilante group found them in Lagos, Nigeria. They were rounded up in various parts of Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, after leaving Maiduguri in Borno state, headquarters of the militant Islamist movement that has terrorized Nigeria since 2009. Alhaji Mustapha Mohammed, leader of the Lagos Civilian Joint Task Force, said the suspects were turned over Monday to Nigeria’s Department of State Services after their capture Friday. He added that the alleged Boko Haram members were found in different places around Lagos, looking unkempt and showing signs of starvation. Of his vigilante group, Mohammed said, “We are from Borno, where these terrorists come from. and we know their communities. Our people back home do monitor them, and once they leave Maiduguri, we will be alerted so that we can be on the lookout. Once they arrive in any community in Lagos, our members are always on the ground to fish them out based on intelligence reports.” UPI

As the UK Shuts Itself Off, Africa Rolls Out a Welcome Mat Across the Continent
In policy as in life, one man’s poison is another man’s cure. While Brexit and rising nationalism across Europe have called into question the European project, last Sunday the African Union (AU) unveiled an electronic passport intended to allow the free movement of people, goods and services across the continent’s 54 countries. The e-passport is part of what Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chair of the African Union Commission, has called a “strategic plan to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous and inclusive Africa”. It will be given first to heads of state, foreign ministers and permanent representatives of member states based at the AU’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, but the plan is to roll out the e-passport to all AU citizens by 2018. The Guardian

DRC Declares First New National Park in 40 Years
The Democratic Republic of Congo has been losing more and more forest every year to subsistence activities, mining, and farming. Continuing conflict is exacerbating the situation. The creation of the new 2.2 million-acre Lomami National Park grants protection to a remote, relatively unscathed area home to an abundance of wildlife. A decade of surveying in the region led the way to the creation of the park, with researchers discovering an expanded bonobo range, as well as a new species of monkey: the colorful lesula (Cercopithecus lomamiensis). Conservationists and government officials are working with local communities within and around the park to ensure protection of the region and promote sustainable livelihoods. Mongabay



Photo: Adam Jones