Media Review for July 15, 2016

UN Congo Mission Expects Presidential Election to Be Delayed
The head of the United Nations mission in Congo said Thursday he does not believe the country will be able to hold its presidential election as scheduled in November, another indication that President Joseph Kabila could stay in power beyond his mandate. “We cannot have elections on Nov. 27. That’s what the experts tell us,” Maman Sidikou told a press conference in Kinshasa. He said even a partial revision of the electoral register in preparation for the vote would take at least nine months. Tension has been mounting in this central African country amid opposition claims that Kabila wants to delay the vote so he can stay in power past his mandate that expires at the end of the year. Kabila is barred from running for a third term under Congo’s constitution. The United Nations has warned of renewed violence and instability in a country that has never had a peaceful transfer of power. AP on The New York Times

Cameroon: Amnesty Intl Decries Mass Detention, Torture
Cameroonian authorities are currently detaining and torturing more than 1,000 people for alleged involvement in Boko Haram terror activities in the Central African state, charged human rights group Amnesty International Thursday. A new Amnesty International report also claimed that “dozens are dying from disease and malnutrition or have been tortured to death.” Amnesty said 1,000 people are being detained in “overcrowded prisons” – with nearly 1,500 people detained in a building built for 350 – “in insanitary conditions where malnutrition is rampant.” “In Maroua prison, for example, between six to eight people die each month… Family visits to detainees are strictly limited.” Anadolu Agency

Morocco to Return to African Union after 32 Years of Absence
Morocco has decided to return to African Union (AU) , according to Moroccan newspaper Akhbar Alyoum. “A diplomatic source approached by Akhbar Al Yaoum has confirmed the desire of Morocco to resume his seat in the pan-African organization,” the paper reported. The African Union, which replaced the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 2001, includes all 54 African states besides Morocco that are members of the United Nations. Morocco decided to withdraw from the continental organization in 1984 after the OAU accepted the self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (RASD) as full-fledged member state. According to the same source, this historic move is anticipated to be announced during the 27th AU Summit scheduled to take place in Rwandan capital of Kigali on July 17-18. In preparation for the event, Morocco’ foreign Minister Salahedine Mezouar has visited several African capitals, including Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Senegal, Tunisia Cameroon, Cote D’ivoire, and Ethiopia. Morocco World News

African Governments Undermining Corruption Fight, AU Body Says
Africans continue to face increasing risks of being short-changed in dubious and poorly negotiated oil deals between governments and multinational corporations involved in the extraction industry, the African Union’s (AU) advisory board on corruption said at the side-lines of the ongoing summit in Kigali. “The kind of contracts made by our governments with these multinationals have not met the transparency standards needed, our people are short-changed in these contracts by multinationals, this needs to be addressed” Daniel Batidam, chairperson of the AU anti-corruption body said. “These contracts have largely benefited their parent countries more than our people; deals are made with multinationals that work like cartels and a few individuals in governments. The interests of the people need to be protected,” he added. The East African

AU Chair Elections Quandary as Doubts Rise over Pedigree
Planned elections for a new African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson may not happen as scheduled this week, after influential members called for postponement until “high calibre” applicants are got. According to the official agenda, elections of AU leadership including replacement of the current Commissioners are supposed to take place at the ongoing 27th Summit in Kigali. Dr Mehari Taddele Maru a member of the AU High Level Advisory Group, said in a statement on Wednesday that a sharp decline in the pedigree and profiles of the various candidates, particularly the chairperson, is a crucial concern that should lead to a postponement of the election. “The first step for this reform would be to postpone the Commission elections to January 2017, and re-open the nomination process again with necessary reform in the national level nomination process,” he said. The East African

10 Killed in Ethnic Protests in Northern Ethiopia
At least 10 people, including police officers and civilians, have been reportedly killed in northern Ethiopia following days of protests, according activists and a monitor. Demonstrations on Thursday and similar protests in recent days in the northern city of Gondar were against what protesters see as the erosion of their ethnic identities in the area. The violence is believed to have started after the attempted arrests by Ethiopian government troops of some leaders of the Amhara ethnic group. “This seems to be another ethnically-based conflict,” said Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Addis Ababa. He quoted sources and local news reports as saying that as many as 20 people may have been killed. Al Jazeera

In South Sudan, Bodies are Being Counted as Peace Accord Appears to Unravel
The dead were being counted in South Sudan’s capital on Thursday, after U.N. bases fell under fire and swaths of the city turned into an urban battlefield. The civil war, it appeared, had returned to the capital. Even though the fighting had mostly stopped by Tuesday, many of the 45,000 people who fled the clashes searched for food and water, often without success. The United Nations had reached a critical shortage of basic aid supplies, officials said. Fear of continued fighting left markets bare and provisions scarce. In the wake of yet another violent collapse of the world’s youngest country, the fate of the government and the international humanitarian mission here were thrown into question. Stars and Stripes

S. Sudan President Calls for Talks to Salvage Peace Accord
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has called on rival leader Riek Machar to meet for talks, in an effort to save a peace deal threatened by days of heavy gun and artillery battles in the capital. Residents of Juba tell VOA the city remained calm Thursday, three days after a cease-fire took effect, but that people remain on edge and are not sending their children to school in case fighting resumes. Speaking to reporters at the presidential compound in Juba, President Kiir said he does not want further bloodshed in South Sudan and wants Machar, the country’s top vice president, to come back “so we can chart the way forward.” VOA

South Sudan’s Kiir Rejects Deployment of Extra Troops in Juba 
South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir said his government “will not accept a single soldier” to back peacekeepers as demanded by regional leaders and the United Nations. Addressing reporters on Thursday for the first time since violence engulfed the country’s capital, Juba last week, Kiir said his country already has thousands of foreign troops at UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as peacekeepers. “No. We will not accept even a single soldier,” stressed the president. “There are over 12,000 foreign troops here in South Sudan,” he added, in reference to peacekeepers working for the UN mission. The South Sudanese leader questioned the necessity of more troops. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan: ‘They Will Find Us and Kill Us’
The South Sudanese government soldiers arrived in a village outside rebel leader Riek Machar’s hometown of Leer early on an October morning last year, and they fanned out quickly through the maze of thatch-roofed huts and mud-brick buildings. Before Michael Mathok had time to hide, one of the troops loaded his assault rifle, pointed it directly at the cattle herder’s family, and then shot and killed his wife, Nyagany, in front of the couple’s two young sons. In a panic, Mathok, 48, grabbed the 7-and 9-year-old boys, and the three ran for their lives, leaving the 28-year-old Nyagany’s bleeding body on the dusty ground. In a conversation with Foreign Policy in the rebel-controlled town of Nyal in May, Mathok said he and his sons then hid in a nearby well, where he peeked over the edge and watched in silent horror as 20 government troops took turns raping a local grandmother to death. “They told the old woman, ‘We are going to kill all Nuer in this community. We do not want any Nuer in South Sudan,’” he said, referring to the ethnic group he shares with Machar. “I told my children, ‘If you cry, they will find us and kill us just like your mother.’” Foreign Policy

UN Ready to Work on Proposal for Combat Force in South Sudan
The United Nations is ready to work with east African bloc IGAD to refine the group’s proposal for an intervention force within the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the Security Council on Wednesday. After an outbreak of deadly violence between rival troops in South Sudan’s capital Juba in the past week, IGAD demanded the creation of an intervention brigade, similar to a U.N. combat force in Democratic Republic of Congo that is mandated to enforce peace by targeting and neutralizing armed rebel groups. “The goal, as I understand it, being to secure Juba and, if possible, its airport through demilitarization so that the government of transition and national unity can get to work without worrying about security issues,” he said. Such a combat unit would need to be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, which on Sunday urged states in the region to prepare to send additional troops to South Sudan in the event that the 15-member body decides to reinforce the U.N. mission.  Reuters

Tragedy in South Sudan — and $2.1 Million for Washington Lobbyists
While opposition forces are responsible for some of the historical bloodshed, South Sudanese government forces “bore the greatest responsibility” for human rights violations, according to a United Nations report. Those government forces have raped and murdered civilians, recruited child soldiers and looted civilian property. Meanwhile, more than 5 million people in South Sudan are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the World Food Programme’s estimate, and many of them face “unprecedented levels of food insecurity,” say UN agencies. One in five South Sudanese have fled their homes, according to international development organization Mercy Corps. But while the South Sudan government largely claims it doesn’t have enough money to fix these problems, the struggling government was able to spend $2.1 million on Washington, DC, lobbying and public relations firms from 2014 through the end of 2015, a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal records reveals. That’s $2.1 million to buff up its image, keep US aid flowing and stave off harsher US-backed sanctions in response to South Sudan’s atrocities.  PRI

Zimbabwean Citizens March to SA Embassy to Voice Their Concerns
Hundreds of Zimbabwean citizens living in South Africa have marched to the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria to highlight their concerns with the current economic and political situation in Zimbabwe and the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire. Mawarire, who was arrested after organising a nationwide strike last week, has since been released. The group, which also comprised of various civil rights organisations, delivered their memorandum of grievances to the countries deputy ambassador. Zimbabweans say they are tired of President Robert Mugabe’s regime and are calling for political change in the country. They believe that Mugabe, who has been serving as president for nearly four decades, must step down and make way for people who will revive the country’s struggling economy. SABC

Zimbabweans Suffer “Savage” Police Abuse as Anti-Mugabe Movement Grows
The list of cases recorded by a trauma clinic is detailed and varied – men, women and children whose only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time when Zimbabwean police cracked down on a rare outbreak of dissent this month against President Robert Mugabe. “Torture, Torture, Torture, Intimidation, Torture, Torture, Intimidation, Assaulted, Torture…”, reads one column of the spreadsheet prepared by the clinic, which was seen by Reuters. The violence occurred during a “stay-away” inspired by Evan Mawarire, a 39-year-old preacher, whose call for workers to stay home in protest against corruption and economic decline amounts to the biggest challenge to Mugabe’s rule in nearly a decade. Police spokeswoman Charity Charamba and information minister Chris Mushowe did not answer their mobile phones or reply to text messages requesting comment on the allegations of abuse. Times Live

Kenyan Police Officer Fatally Shoots Six Colleagues
A gunman who shot dead six Kenyan police officers inside a police station in western Kenya on Thursday is a police officer himself, witnesses said. Initial reports widely spread by both local and international media outlets said the man was a suspected recruiter for al-Shabab, an armed militant group based in neighboring Somalia. But later two Kenyan police officers in the area told VOA on condition of anonymity that the killer was a Kenyan police officer. “The shooter was a police officer named Maslah. As soon as he came to his shift at the station around 4:00 a.m. local time this morning, he took his gun and shot five of his fellow police officers and later he killed another police officer,” one Kenyan police officer told VOA Somali. VOA

Libya’s New Defence Minister Survives Assassination Attempt
Libya’s new defence minister is said to have survived a car bomb assassination attempt, One of his guards was wounded by shrapnel. The media office of Mahdi al-Barghathi said on Thursday that the minister came under attack while leaving an army barrack in the eastern city of Benghazi, when a car bomb was detonated on Wednesday. Al-Barghathi is part of the UN-brokered unity government seated in the capital Tripoli, which has so far failed to win the parliament’s vote of confidence. A key point of contention is over the army leadership and the future of General Khalifa Hifter, the head of armed forces based in the east, unpopular in western Libya, but a hero for some in eastern Libya. News 24

Bashir, Wanted by ICC, ‘Very Welcome’ at Rwanda’s AU Summit
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the world’s top criminal court, is “very welcome” in Rwanda for a summit of the African Union starting this weekend, the country’s foreign minister said on Thursday. Rwanda has “no obligation” and “no right to arrest anybody” as it has not subscribed to the treaty founding the International Criminal Court (ICC), Louise Mushikiwabo said at a news conference. She also dismissed out of hand an ICC request, sent to the Rwandan government two days ago to help it arrest Bashir, calling it “a distraction”. “We are too busy to pay attention to that kind of thing,” she said at the media conference held ahead of the gathering of the 54-nation group. The summit takes place on Sunday and Monday. News 24

Nigeria’s Anti-graft War Only Scratches Surfaces – Campaigners
There has been no shortage of praise for Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war, which has led to the arrest of a string of high-ranking former government officials. The crackdown centres on an alleged $2.1bn “arms scam”, where money earmarked for weapons to fight Boko Haram is said to have been diverted for political purposes. But experts say the arrests and ongoing trials do little to tackle systemic corruption in the defence sector that helped allow the Islamists to seize swathes of territory in the country’s northeast. Former national security advisor Sambo Dasuki is accused of overseeing a sprawling embezzlement scheme that saw “phantom contracts” awarded for personal gain, as under-equipped and demoralised troops fought better-armed militants. News 24

Ghana Companies Sell Shares at Record Rate Amid Debt Squeeze
Ghanaian companies needing cash are caught in a dilemma. Faced with borrowing costs at a 13-year high, companies including the local unit of Diageo Plc and Ghana Oil Co. are turning to the stock market to raise record amounts of capital as they try to reduce debt. They could hardly have chosen a worse time. The West African nation’s benchmark stock index is in a bear market, having fallen to a three-year low as a plunge in oil prices and power shortages weigh on economic growth. That makes the share sales a bargain for investors – and a welcome injection of cash for the stock market – but a raw deal for the sellers, according to African Alliance Securities Ltd. Bloomberg

Senegal: Illegal Logging is Threatening Casamance Forest
Deforestation is threatening Senegal due to illegal logging on the border with The Gambia. An investigation in June revealed that Chinese rosewood imports from Gambia, Senegal’s enclaved neighbor, were the second highest in the whole of West Africa, second only to Nigeria between 2010 and 2015. Yet the Gambia has nearly no forest cover. According to a local NGO, the general misuse of resources across the country is rampant. RFI

Ivory Sales: Fast-track to Elephant Extinction?
A United Nations ban on the international trade in ivory will be under attack by South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Johannesburg in October. In a document submitted to CITES, the three countries say that if trade is not permitted, they will seek to nullify the ban on the principle that CITES failed to act on its mandate to investigate the matter. Were they to succeed, according to Ross Harvey, a researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs specialising in wildlife trade, it would be a disaster for elephants. In a peer-reviewed paper published in the latest edition of Politikon, he says that if selling stockpiled ivory into the world market is permitted but fails to reduce the price – and it is likely to fail – it will increase demand and hasten the extinction of elephants. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones