Media Review for July 7, 2016

UN Mission in Liberia Ends
The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General for the United Nations Mission in Liberia, also known as UNMIL, says the mission has done a good job in bringing security to the West African nation after a period of unrest and now it is time for Liberia to be responsible for its own security. In 2003, the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 1509 to have UNMIL, among other responsibilities, protect civilians, offer help to the people of Liberia, and assist the Liberian government in developing and implementing national security reform. VOA

African Union Troops to Start Pulling Out of Somalia in 2018
African forces in Somalia, of which the Kenya Defence Forces are a part, should start withdrawing from October 2018, the African Union has said. The African Peace and Security Council said the two-year period would allow proper establishment of necessary facilities for the handover of African Union Mission (Amisom) to the Somali forces. The details of the two-year schedule were contained in a revised Concept of Operations (Conops) which the council approved last week during its 608th meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It means Amisom should start pulling out of Somalia only after a new stable government has been in place, Al-Shabaab has been chased out of most of the territory they still occupy and the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) have been strengthened. Daily Nation

Gaddafi Son Saif al-Islam ‘Released’ from Libya Jail
Muammar Gaddafi’s most prominent son has been released by his Libyan jailors, his lawyer at the ICC has told FRANCE 24. Saif al-Islam was sentenced to death in 2015 for crimes committed during the revolution that overthrew his father. The former Libyan dictator’s second son “was given his liberty on April 12, 2016”, lawyer Karim Khan said Wednesday, adding that Saif al-Islam was released under an amnesty and “in accordance with (Libyan) law”. Khan declined to say whether he had spoken to his client, saying only that he “is well and safe and in Libya”. France 24

A WhatsApp Blackout in Zimbabwe was No Match for Massive Protests Against Mugabe’s Failing Economy
The Zimbabwean government allegedly tried to block WhatsApp on Wednesday (July 6) to stop protesters from mobilizing. If true, the effort did little to stop countrywide demonstrations against a worsening economic situation. Protesters succeeded in shutting down the main cities in what has been the most brazen display of public dissatisfaction in Zimbabwe since the violent contested election of 2008. Protests were organized on social media using the hashtags #ShutDownZim, #ZimbabweShutdown and #ZimShutDown, according to the independent NewsDay newspaper. Driven by Zimbabwe’s youth, the demonstrations are against Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, who is 92 years old and has ruled along with the ZanuPF party since independence in 1980. Quartz

One More Sign of Zimbabwe’s Decline: Women Desperate for Work Trafficked to Kuwait
The advert in the jobs section of a Zimbabwean newspaper read: “Vacancies in the Middle East. For those interested please contact …” When Soria Hove*, 34, spotted the ad earlier this year she immediately called the number provided and was told to visit the agency’s office and bring along her qualifications. A few days later, anxious but hopeful, she walked into a well-appointed office with neatly-dressed, professional staff. The job on offer was as a maid in Kuwait. The salary would be US$750 with $150 deducted each month as reimbursement for her air ticket. Hove was over the moon. The average wage in Zimbabwe is $253 a month—and that’s for just five percent of the population who actually have a formal job. IRIN

Somalia’s President Recently Held First-ever Meeting with Israeli PM
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently met with the president of Somalia in a first high-level contact between the two countries, a source close to the Somali leader told The Times of Israel. Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the East African nation, which has a population of some 11 million. Somalia, a mostly Sunni Muslim country and a member of the Arab League, has never recognized the State of Israel. Two weeks ago, a report on the Caasimada Online, a news website operated by journalists opposed to the Somali regime, stated that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and three other Somali officials came to Tel Aviv on a short visit and met there with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. Times of Israel

Netanyahu Says Africans Deported from Israel “Not Asylum Seekers”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken on the controversial issue of African immigrants being deported from the middle eastern country to Africa, saying that they are ‘job seekers’, not asylum seekers. Israel has been criticised by rights groups over the mistreatment of African asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, as well as over ongoing plans to resettle them back in African countries including Rwanda and Uganda. “They don’t seek asylum in Israel, they seek jobs in Israel. Asylum seekers are something else. The 25-year, 23-year old, able-bodied people come to work in Israel,” Mr Netanyahu said during a joint press briefing with the Rwandan president in Kigali Wednesday. “If they need asylum, they will get asylum, but if they want jobs, then we have an organised system of receiving people in Israel,” he added, noting that Israel regulates its borders just like any other country. The East African

In Africa, Benjamin Netanyahu Looks for Friends, and U.N. Votes, for Israel
Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, cruised around the capital of Kenya with an entourage of dozens of Israeli executives, hoping to sell Africa everything from Israeli-made plastic wrap, sprinklers and irrigation pipes to software, CCTV cameras and military equipment. Even cantaloupe seeds. But Mr. Netanyahu was also on the lookout for something else: precious United Nations votes. “There are 50 countries in Africa,” Mr. Netanyahu said (actually, there are 54). “Just about all of them,” he continued in an interview in recent days, “could be allies of Israel. They vote at international forums, and I know people don’t believe this, but I think we can change the automatic majorities in the U.N. and so on if you begin to shift this.” The New York Times

Kenya: DisCORD in Main Opposition As Election Looms
The first sign of trouble came when the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) put forward three candidates to run for the presidency in next year’s election. Far from putting on the united front necessary to defeat incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta, so far Kenya’s official opposition appear to be less CORD, and more discord. With only four weeks left to make a decision, the coalition is deeply divided over who will be their official flagbearer. Three senior figures have so far put their hat into the ring: Orange Democratic Movement leader, and current CORD leader, Raila Odinga; Wiper Democratic Movement leader Stephen Kalonzo; and Forum for the Restoration of Democracy leader Moses Wetangula. Daily Maverick

Is the Lord’s Resistance Army Rising Again? 
For 30 years, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have been spreading appalling terror in northern Uganda, eastern Central African Republic (CAR), western South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). By modest estimates, the LRA has killed 100 000 people, displaced about two million, and raped, mutilated or abducted countless others. This includes many children, who have been forced to become soldiers or sex slaves for LRA fighters. Its barbaric methods include dismembering its victims and slashing off noses, lips, ears and limbs. Yet Kony — a self-styled Christian mystic, though in reality a homicidal psychopath — has somehow eluded death or capture. His arch-enemy, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, threw everything at the LRA, eventually driving it out of its birthplace in northern Uganda in 2006. But, like the cancer that it is, the LRA metastasised into the neighbouring countries. Its fortunes then waxed and waned, according to regional politics. The Herald

Somalia: A Rise that is Visible to Only a Few
The horrors that defined the Horn of Africa country during the civil war are slowly giving way to a new Somalia, one that is becoming relatively peaceful and is making slow but steady socioeconomic and political progress. The problem is that few people are noticing this change. These days Somalis reminisce about life before the war. With a sense of nostalgia they reflect on the carefree days of swimming, picnics and cinema; when children were in school, the economy was growing and business was booming, providing jobs for thousands of Somali citizens. That golden period was to end abruptly in 1991 with the onset of a debilitating war that ruined the economy and obliterated the banking system. Today the mention of Somalia invokes chilling images of the deadly activities of Al-Shabaab militants, suicide bombers or pirates. “Somalia is an emerging success story, but momentum needs to be sustained,” said Nicholas Kay, the former UN special representative to Somalia, at the turn of the year. The Africa Report

Mozambique Needs a Government of National Unity
Mozambique needs a unity government says a former Presidential advisor in Malawi as this would be the easiest strategy to end the conflict in that country. Political analyst, Humphrey Mvula told News24 that by appointing Renamo rebel leader Alfonso Dhlakama as a second vice president in a unity government “the conflict will immediately end”. He said authorities in Mozambique should realise that armed attacks are a tactic Dhlakama is using to get some form of power after defeat in elections. “There is no better strategy to an end the war than through the formation of a government of national unity which would entail appointing Dhlakama as a second vice president,” said Mvula. “It is a strategy of sharing the national cake equitably, as part of peace-building process.” Mvula said, for a warlord who spent about 20 years in the bush, there is nothing else he expects but to share in the rewards of power. Mail and Guardian

Waning Interest in DR Congo
The United States is at least trying to bring some pressure to bear on Joseph Kabila’s regime. Two weeks ago, it placed Kinshasa police chief Celestin Kanyama on its sanctions black list. US citizens are now no longer permitted to do business deals with him and any assets he might have on US territory have been frozen. The US Treasury said in statement the move sent “a clear message that the United States condemned the regime’s violence and repressive actions, especially those of Celestin Kanyama.” Kanyama was responsible for police operations last year in which 40 people were killed in an anti-Kabila demonstration. But the sanctions are not just intended to hit Kanyama. As this is the first time that a close associate of Kabila has been blacklisted, they also contain a message for the DR Congo president himself. He is no longer considered a potential model African leader. Deutsche Welle

South Sudan’s Kiir to Meet Sudanese President in Kigali
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit will meet Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir on the sidelines of the African Summit which will be held from 10 to 18 June in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, a South Sudanese diplomat said on Wednesday. South Sudan’s Chargé d’affaires to Khartoum Robert Ring told the official news agency (SUNA) on Wednesday said the two presidents continued to hold bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the African Summits, adding “ they would meet to discuss outstanding issues between the two sides”. He pointed that the recent meeting of the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) covered all issues, describing it as one of the most important meetings. Sudan Tribune

Five Years After Independence South Sudan Faces Myriad Challenges
South Sudan, the world’s newest country faces myriad problems five years after achieving independence, aid agencies warned this week. South Sudan which achieved independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, is on the brink of economic collapse, development organisation Oxfam warned Tuesday. South Sudan’s economy relies heavily on oil, and it is one of many developing countries to have suffered from low oil prices in recent years. “Plummeting oil price and oil production all but grinding to a halt due to intense fighting have had a devastating impact on a country which depended on oil for 98 percent of its revenue before December 2013,” said Oxfam in a statement. IPS

Two Dutch Soldiers Killed in Mali Peacekeeping Accident
Two Dutch soldiers were killed and another seriously injured during a training exercise in Mali on Wednesday afternoon, the latest casualties in a mission that has become the most deadly place for United Nations peacekeepers to serve. More than 11,000 soldiers are serving in the Mali mission, which aims to support the Bamako government in its fight against Islamist militants in northern Mali, who have staged assaults in the capital, as well as in Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. Corporal Kevin Roggeveld, 29, and sergeant Henry Hoving, 24, were killed by an exploding mortar shortly after 1130 GMT, the acting head of the Dutch armed forces told a news conference. At least 103 peacekeepers have died since the start of the mission in April 2013. VOA

France Sentences 2 to Life in Prison for 1994 Genocide in Rwanda
France on Wednesday sentenced two former Rwandan mayors to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity committed in the African country in 1994. Tito Barahira, 65, and Octavien Ngenzi, 58, were tried over attacks against ethnic Tutsis in the town of Kabarondo, where they both have been mayor. They denied any wrongdoing. Ethnic Hutu extremists killed more than 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus in a three-month rampage in 1994 while the world largely stood by. A number of Rwandan genocide-related crimes have been tried in recent years in Rwanda and other countries. This was the second such trial in France, which can rule on such cases since parliament adopted a law that gives it universal jurisdiction over cases of crimes against humanity. VOA

Rwanda Opposition Leader dealt blow as Court Rejects Plea
Rwanda’s imprisoned opposition leader Victoire Ingabire was dealt a blow after the court rejected her plea for video conferencing to help her follow court proceedings in a case involving the government of Rwanda. The Arusha based African Court of Human and Peoples Rights’ President Augustino Ramadhani Sunday said the court did not have the capacity to facilitate the use of video conferencing, adding that her presence at the court was not necessary. Lawyers of the embattled Rwandan politician had argued that since she cannot be allowed to travel and attend the hearings in Arusha, the court should avail her with video conferencing facilities. Her lead counsel, Gatera Gashabana told the court that preventing her from participating “would undermine her right to effective remedy.” “In the absence of rules guiding the taking of evidence from video conferencing, the court cannot compel the government of Rwanda to provide video conferencing for her to follow proceedings,” Mr Ramadhani said. The East African

India to Reinvigorate Ties with African Nations
India’s prime minister hopes his visit this week to four African nations, some not visited by an Indian leader in more than three decades, will reinvigorate cooperation in energy, trade and investment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Mozambique on Thursday followed by South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya. Brushing aside suggestions that India is trying to compete with China in Africa, an Indian External Affairs Ministry official, Amar Sinha, said several agreements are expected to be signed with each of the four countries during Modi’s visit. Sinha said these countries have been India’s maritime neighbours across the Indian Ocean and act as gateways for Indian exporters and traders to landlocked African countries. Maritime security was an area of common interest. News 24

East Asian Networks ‘Smuggle Ivory Across Africa’
East Asian criminals have expanded their ivory smuggling networks across Africa, a new report has found. Researchers say the syndicates are run by Chinese and Vietnamese nationals working with corrupt officials and have become the main challenge in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. They are involved in poaching and moving large illegal ivory consignments across Africa and then to Asia. Ivory carvings are prized in East Asia as status symbols. The finding by Traffic, a wildlife trade investigating agency, was based on the increasing number of Chinese and Vietnamese nationals being arrested during illegal ivory seizures.  BBC



Photo: Adam Jones