Media Review for July 19, 2016

On Nelson Mandela Day, UN Urges Action that Inspires Change for a Better World
As the world marks Nelson Mandela International Day, United Nations officials and UN Peace Ambassador Stevie Wonder today paid tribute to the South African activist and peacemaker’s tireless efforts to end intolerance and injustice, calling on the international community to follow his guiding example in efforts to build a better world for all. “Nelson Mandela International Day is an opportunity to reflect on the life and work of a legend who embodied the highest values of the United Nations,” said UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson at a meeting of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York to mark the Day, which is observed annually on 18 July. UN

Militants Seize Army Base in Central Mali: Deputy Mayor
Militants attacked and seized control of an army base in the central Malian town of Nampala on Tuesday, the deputy mayor of a nearby town said. “The army is regrouping in town (Diabaly) and is preparing a counter-attack to retake the base, which fell into the hands of the assailants,” the deputy mayor of Diabaly, Ousmane Diallo, told Reuters by telephone.  Reuters

Nigeria: Boko Haram Suspects Freed, Given $10
About 250 people who were arrested and held on suspicion of links to Boko Haram Islamists have been released and given $10, Nigeria’s army said on Monday. “Yesterday (Sunday), a total of 249 cleared suspected Boko Haram terrorists and accomplices were released… as approved by the chief of army staff in Maiduguri,” said army spokesperson Sani Usman. Colonel Usman said in a statement that those released included 46 women and 34 children. They were handed over to the Borno state government in northeast Nigeria and told “to remain law-abiding and go about their lawful business”, he added. “Each of them was given a token of 3 000 naira ($10.4),” he said.  VOA

Nigeria Children ‘Starving Post-Boko Harm’
Almost a quarter of a million children in parts of Nigeria’s Borno state formerly controlled by Boko Haram are suffering from severe malnutrition, the UN children’s agency says. Tens of thousands will die if treatment does not reach them soon, Unicef warns. In areas where Boko Haram militants had been in control, it found people without water, food or sanitation. Last month, a charity said people fleeing Boko Haram had starved to death. The Islamist group’s seven-year rebellion has left 20,000 people dead and more than two million displaced. Nigeria’s military is involved in a large-scale offensive against the group. BBC

Nigeria Inflation 16.5% in June, Highest in Almost 11 Years
Nigerian inflation accelerated to the highest rate in almost 11 years in June, complicating the task of the central bank in an economy which is at risk of contracting this year. The inflation rate in Africa’s largest economy increased to 16.5 percent from 15.6 in May, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said in an e-mailed statement on Monday. That’s the highest rate since October 2005, according to data on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s website. Prices rose 1.7 percent in the month. The median of seven economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for inflation to quicken to 16.2 percent. Bloomberg

IGAD Demands Rival Military Forces Leave South Sudan’s Capital
The regional group IGAD (Inter Governmental Authority on Development) in East Africa has called on forces loyal to South Sudan President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar to leave Juba and be replaced by a protection regional force that would take over security in the capital. Uganda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem said the IGAD-PLUS meeting on the sidelines of the African Union summit in Kigali also expressed its support for the recommendations by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to reinforce the U.N. Mission in South Sudan. “Today had a meeting on South Sudan, and they re-emphasized the position that was reached in Nairobi. But more importantly, today they emphasized the need for neutralizing Juba.” VOA

AU Backs Call for ‘Robust’ African Force in South Sudan
The African Union has backed a request for African troops with a robust mandate to reinforce U.N. peacekeepers in South Sudan.  The AU summit meeting in Rwanda’s capital approved the request, which will go the U.N. Security Council. The African heads of state were responding to a communiqué on South Sudan put out after a meeting with regional leaders and the United Nations on Saturday. The communiqué issued by IGAD Plus, a body representing East African countries plus Rwanda, South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria, called on the U.N. Security Council to extend the U.N. mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, with a revised mandate. That revised mandate, it specified, should include the deployment of a regional protection force to separate South Sudan’s warring parties. VOA

South Sudan Stops Nationals from Fleeing Clashes, Group Says
South Sudanese security forces are preventing people from leaving the East African nation after fighting that began July 7 between rival armed groups loyal to President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, Amnesty International said. “The organization has received reports from two charter companies that national security service officers have ordered them not to carry South Sudanese nationals, particularly men,” Amnesty’s South Sudan researcher, Elizabeth Deng, said Thursday in an e-mailed statement. “It is absolutely critical that both parties to the conflict do not obstruct safe passage of civilians fleeing to places of refuge both inside and outside of the country.” Bloomberg

U.S. Seeks to Reassure South Sudan on Troops Sent to Juba
The United States is not taking any offensive military actions with the goal of destabilizing South Sudan, and is only sending a small contingent to assist its embassy in the country, which has been gripped by violence between rival troops, the State Department said on Sunday. The United States wants to reassure the people and the government of South Sudan that it has no plans to target any government or military leaders or import special military equipment with the goal of destabilizing the nation, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner in a statement. “Any suggestion that the United States has done so or will do so is false, baseless, and not in the interest of peace in South Sudan,” he also said. President Barack Obama on Friday said he would deploy up to 200 U.S. troops equipped with combat equipment to South Sudan to protect U.S. citizens and the embassy in Juba, with troops initially stationed in neighbouring Uganda. The East African

How Does South Sudan Move Forward?
So what happens next? Amid the many dire warnings that South Sudan is about to dissolve into civil war, a small comfort is that it hasn’t happened yet. The mass ethnic killing of civilians in Juba that occurred in December 2013, marking the start of two years of terrible conflict, has not taken place. Apart from some pockets of trouble, the violence has not spread, and “we have seen some restraint from the leaders”, said Casie Copeland of the International Crisis Group. There was 30 minutes of wild gunfire on 11 July when President Salva Kiir’s SPLA forces celebrated the defeat of rival Riek Machar’s soldiers in Juba. Deep animosity remains between the two camps, and there are believed to be those within the ruling circle urging Kiir to go ahead and finish the job. IRIN

In Egypt, Many Leaders Quietly Cheered Turkish Coup Plotters
Egyptians watched raptly over the weekend as military forces moved to unseat a democratically elected Islamist president in Turkey, reminding many of a similar move by the Egyptian military three years ago. That political intervention in 2013 led by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, ousted the democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and all but wiped out his Muslim Brotherhood. Many Egyptians had hoped to see a similar result when Turkish soldiers tried to topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist ally of Mr. Morsi who has criticized his removal, and the crackdown that followed. “I will not deny there was a lot of excitement,” said Dalia Youssef, the deputy chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee in Egypt’s Parliament, after images of military vehicles rolling through the streets of Ankara and Istanbul interrupted her vacation. The New York Times

Why Does Tunisia Produce So Many Terrorists?
The experts have long since determined that Tunisia is a disproportionate source of recruits for radical Islamist causes. Despite the country’s relatively small population of 11 million, Tunisians are conspicuously over-represented among the fighters of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. According to recent estimates, 7,000 Tunisians have joined the cause — more than any other country, including much larger ones such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. There are also, according to numerous reports, thousands of Tunisians training and fighting for jihad in Libya, Tunisia’s next-door neighbor, which has a strong Islamic State presence. (Indeed, the Tunisian authorities have boasted that they’ve prevented some 12,000 other potential jihadists from leaving the country for Syria since 2013 — a statistic hardly as comforting as they apparently would like it to be.) Foreign Policy

Algeria and Morocco to Boost Joint Security Cooperation
Algeria announced on Sunday an agreement reached with Morocco to promote security cooperation in facing terrorism and exchanging information on extremists and activists in fundamentalist groups, in particular ISIS. Moroccan Delegate to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Nasser Bourita and Head of Foreign Intelligence Yassin Mansouri conducted a visit to Algeria over the weekend to discuss the means to promote security and fight terrorism, as well as the situation in Libya and the threats posed by terrorist organizations. An official statement issued by the Algerian government said that Algerian Prime Minister Abdul-Malik Sellal received Bourita on Friday. The statement added that talks touched on bilateral relations and challenges facing Africa and the Arab world. An Algerian government source told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the meeting with the Moroccan delegation was mainly focused on security matters, in particular the threats presented by ISIS on the African countries. Asharq Al Awsat

Western Sahara Clouds Morocco’s Return to African Union
After a 32-year hiatus, Morocco officially announced its intention to rejoin the African Union on Monday after leaving in a row over the status of Western Sahara. Morocco claims the disputed former Spanish colony is an integral part of its territory, but the African Union recognizes it as an independent state. Neither Rabat nor the AU have changed their position. The request was made in a letter from the Moroccan King to heads of state gathered at the African Union summit in Rwanda. In it, Mohammed VI evokes the memory of his grandfather Mohamed V, and his father Hassan II, and their contribution to the African continent. RFI

UN Security Council Urges Political Dialogue in DRC, Calls for Credible Polls
The United Nations Security Council has urged parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to commit to peaceful political dialogue whiles focusing on holding peaceful and credible elections. The Council acknowledged the efforts of the Congolese authorities and especially by the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), with the support of various partners to revise the voters register and take concrete steps towards the upcoming elections. They however expressed deep concern at increased restrictions of the political space in the DRC, in particular recent arrests and detention of members of the political opposition and of civil society, as well as restrictions of fundamental freedoms such as the freedom of opinion and expression. They urged the government DRC as well as all relevant parties to respect human rights and to refrain from violence and provocation. Africa News

Sao Tome and Principe President Loses Election to Former PM
The ruling party candidate and former prime minister Evaristo Carvalho has won the first round of the presidential election in Sao Tome and Principe held on Sunday with 50.1% of the vote against the incumbent President Manuel Pinto da Costa. The National Electoral Commission announced the results early Monday morning with Carvalho, the candidate supported by the party of Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada, getting 34,629 votes (50.1%), President Manuel Pinto da Costa getting 17,121 votes (24.8%) and the third candidate Maria das Neves getting 16,638 votes (24.8%). Africa News

UN Fears ISIS in Libya Could Relocate from Sirte
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on Monday that Islamic State fighters could set up new cells across Libya and north Africa as they are driven from their stronghold of Sirte. Ban outlined the threat from foreign terrorist fighters (FTF) in Libya in a confidential report to the Security Council, obtained by AFP. “The recent pressure against ISIL in Libya could lead its members, including FTFs, to relocate and regroup in smaller and geographically dispersed cells throughout Libya and in neighbouring countries,” Ban said in the report. The defeat of ISIS fighters in Sirte “appears to be a distinct possibility”, leading many to flee south as well as west, to Tunisia. News 24

Islamic State Struggling in Libya, Dunford Says
The Islamic State is suffering higher casualty numbers in Libya, a sign that the terror group is growing weaker in the country, said the U.S. military’s top officer. “I don’t think there is any doubt that the Islamic State in Libya is weaker now than it was some months ago,” Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday in Stuttgart. “There is no question about it. They have suffered significant casualties.” Dunford, who was in Stuttgart to oversee a change in leadership at U.S. Africa Command, said there are indications that rival governing factions in Libya also are beginning to coalesce, something he described as a positive trend line during the past two months. Islamic State fighters have sought a foothold in Libya, particularly in the areas around the Mediterranean port cities of Sirte and Benghazi, during the past years. Stars and Stripes

AFRICOM Under New Command Faces Complex Threat Environment
Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser took command Monday of U.S. military missions in Africa, where a volatile mix of insurgencies and fragile states poses challenges for a growing U.S. military mission on the continent. Waldhauser, who replaces retiring Gen. David Rodriguez, urged his new staff to think in unconventional ways as it confronts a range of threats stretching from Somalia in the east to Libya in the north and Nigeria in the west — all countries where Islamic militant groups are fighting for footholds. “It is up to us to bring creative solutions to these challenges,” Waldhauser said during a change of command ceremony in Stuttgart, home to the headquarters of U.S. Africa Command. Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Waldhauser’s experience as a war fighter and strategic thinker made him the right fit at the right time for AFRICOM. Stars and Stripes

Still No Money for Zimbabwe Soldiers – Sources
Zimbabwe has delayed paying its soldiers for a second successive month, sources said on Monday, underlining the worsening economic crisis that has triggered recent protests. Ten days ago, President Robert Mugabe’s government was shaken by a national strike led by civil servants frustrated over several salary delays as Zimbabwe’s treasury struggles with a severe cash shortage. The military is normally the first priority for payment due to their role in protecting the regime of Mugabe, 92. But they were not paid as scheduled last week, and last month’s salaries were paid about two weeks late. “We were supposed to get our salaries last Friday but there was nothing at the bank,” a junior soldier who requested anonymity told AFP. “We do not know when we will be paid.” News 24

amaBhungane: Politically Connected Brothers, Scandal, Toxic Loans – Malawi Edition
The scandal surrounding Malawi’s politically connected Sterling Timber International has deepened, with an insider alleging that the government settled the company’s large debt to the state-owned Malawi Savings Bank. Sterling Timber received a 1.4-billion kwacha (R58-million) loan from Malawi Savings Bank (MSB) in 2011 to set up a timber processing plant, which it never built. The Centre for Investigative Journalism Malawi has now been reliably informed that the treasury paid its debt to MSB – which allegedly still stood at R58-million – when the bank was sold to a private company last year. Sterling has powerful friends. One of its directors, Peter Mwanza, is a former agriculture minister and senior member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Daily Maverick

Jill Biden’s Africa Visit Places Emphasis on Women’s Rights, Immigration, Education
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, is focusing on women’s rights, immigration and education during a visit to three African countries: Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger. During her first stop in Ethiopia, Biden visited a transit center in the capital for refugees at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). There, she met with officials at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and learned more about the refugee screening process for those seeking resettlement in the U.S. One of the refugees accepted for resettlement is Sembetu Buratu, an Eritrean mother of a four-year-old girl, who left her home country to help her family. VOA

More Europe-bound Migrants May be Dying in Sahara than at Sea – Report
African migrants trying to reach Europe may well be dying in greater numbers in the Sahara desert than the thousands who have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, a migration tracking organisation said on Friday. A report by 4mi, an affiliate of the Danish Refugee Council, said it had witness testimony suggesting that the sea crossing – where many have also been rescued by European coast guards – may be less risky than the earlier stage of their odyssey through desert where many may vanish without trace. “Migrants and refugees from the Horn of Africa arriving in Libya, Egypt or Europe consistently indicate that even more people might die while crossing the Sahara Desert than while crossing the Mediterranean, but reliable data on migrant deaths on land routes have so far been unavailable,” the report said. Interviews with over 1,300 migrants between 2014 and 2016 provided information about 1,245 deaths of people on the move in Libya, Sudan and Egypt combined, it said. Reuters

AIDS Summit Opens as Concerns Grow over Epidemic Resurgence
More than 18,000 scientists, campaigners and donors opened a major AIDS conference in South Africa on Monday, hailing progress against the disease but warning that recent gains were under threat. The week-long conference returns to Africa 16 years after Nelson Mandela galvanised the world to take up the fight against AIDS, describing it as “one of the greatest threats humankind has faced”. Again hosted by the coastal city of Durban, the International AIDS Conference is seen as the key biannual gathering of experts tackling a pandemic that has claimed more than 30 million lives in 35 years. Among those attending this 21st edition are UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, activists including singer Elton John and actress Charlize Theron, and Britain’s Prince Harry. France 24



Photo: Adam Jones