Media Review for June 13, 2016

Libya’s Sirte Struck by Three Islamic State Group Bombings
The Islamic State group carried out three suicide car bombings Sunday against forces allied with Libya’s unity government battling to retake the city of Sirte, an official said. “Three explosions from cars driven by Islamic State suicide bombers targeted our forces in Sirte,” Rida Issa, a spokesman for the unity government’s forces, told AFP. “There are several wounded among our forces,” he said, without providing further details. Militants from the Islamic State (IS) group have barricaded themselves in the centre of their stronghold in the coastal city, hoping to draw militias fighting to dislodge them into a protracted street battle, a spokesman for the fighters loyal to the UN-backed government said on Sunday. France24

Mali Pro-Govt Militia Kills 8 Islamists in Clash: Sources
A Malian pro-government militia has killed eight Islamist fighters in a gunbattle in northern Mali, two security sources said on Sunday. Clashes between the militia and the Macina Liberation Front erupted on Saturday in Gourma-Rharous village, in the Timbuktu region of Mali which has long been plagued by Islamist militants, a military source and one from the militia told Reuters by telephone. They had no details of how the clashes started. Mali’s government and various separatist groups signed a peace deal last year but it has failed to prevent periodic violence in northern Mali by Islamist militants, who have also staged assaults on high profile targets in the capital Bamako, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. Reuters

Mali: Conflict Puts Over 250 000 Orphans at Risk
Fighting over the last four years has killed hundreds of people in Mali. There are fewer battles involving government troops, separatists and al-Qaeda fighters but the war is far from over. As a result, more than 250 000 children in Mali are living without a father, mother or both parents, according to the UN. Aid workers say the number has risen in the last four years, with many orphans living in refugee camps along the Mali-Mauritania border. “Orphans are the most vulnerable among refugees,” Tin Albarka Walt Alhassan, a nurse, told Al Jazeera. “The children who lost their fathers rely on mothers. These children need more help, care and protection.” News24

Major Boko Haram Recruiter Arrested — NSCDC
A major recruiter for the Boko Haram has been arrested in Borno, an official has said. The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, on Sunday said it arrested the 56-year-old Boko Haram kingpin in Aski Uba Local Government Area of Borno. The Commandant of the NSCDC in Borno, Ibrahim Abdullahi, stated this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Maiduguri. Mr. Abdullahi said the suspect was apprehended at Mussa village on June 7. “Our men have made remarkable progress by arresting a Boko Haram kingpin. “The notorious kingpin was said to be a recruiter as well as supplier of arms and IEDs to Boko Haram terrorists. “He confessed that his three children were also arrow heads of the Boko Haram sect,” he said. Mr. Abdullahi said the command had since handed over the suspect to the army for further investigation. Premium Times

Nigeria: Ex–Niger Delta Militants Urge Avengers to Negotiate with Government
Former Nigerian militants who wreaked havoc in the Niger Delta in the mid-2000s have urged the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to enter into dialogue with the government. The NDA has carried out a series of attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta since February, cutting oil production by to a 20-year low. The identity of the group has not been definitively established, although the NDA has distanced itself from ex-militants in the Niger Delta and appears to support the pro-Biafra movement, which is calling for the independence of a region in southeast Nigeria formerly known as Biafra. Newsweek

Dozens of Nigerian Army Officers Sacked
Nigeria’s army says it is firing many senior officers accused of corruption and stealing billions of dollars meant to buy arms to fight the Boko Haram Islamic insurgency. Army spokesperson Colonel Sani Kukesheka Usman says “quite a number” were sacked on Friday, mainly major generals, brigadier generals, colonels, lieutenant colonels and one major. He says some were handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly diverting billions meant to buy weapons. He says others played partisan roles in the 2015 elections. Usman did not name those fired in a statement on Saturday. News24

Benin Steps Up Security in Face of Militant Threat
Benin stepped up security patrols and roadblocks and increased border security on Saturday in the face of a threat from Islamist militants, the army chief of staff and a senior security official said. A statement by the army chief of staff gave no details of the threat. West African countries are increasingly concerned about al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and its allies. The groups have expanded a campaign in northern Mali in the last year to stage high profile attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. At the same time, Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which is based in the northeast of Benin’s eastern neighbour Nigeria, has killed thousands in an insurgency that began in 2009. It has also launched deadly attacks in Niger, Cameroon and Chad. Reuters

Eritrea Confirmed Fighting on Border with Ethiopia
The Eritrean government has just issued a statement confirming the heavy fighting on the border with Ethiopia. Fighting broke out between Ethiopian and Eritrean armies on Sunday, as HornAffairs reported earlier. The conflict is on Tsorena area, though it expanded eastwards later in the day. Locals in Sheraro and Badme areas told HornAffairs movement of mechanized units but no fighting yet. In a statement issued less than an hour ago, minutes before midnight, the Eritrean foreign ministry said: “The [Ethiopian] regime has today, Sunday 12 June 2016, unleashed an attack against Eritrea on the Tsorona Central Front. The purpose and ramifications of this attack are not clear. The Government of Eritrea will issue further statements on the unfolding situation.” Asmara didn’t provide further details. Addis Ababa has been tight-lipped on the matter throughout the day. Horn Affairs

Sudan and Russia Agree to Consolidate Cooperation
Sudan and Russia have agreed to enhance joint cooperation in areas of natural resources, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, transport and training. The agreement was announced at the conclusion of the 5th session of the joint Sudanese-Russian high-level committee for political consultation meetings in Khartoum Saturday. The Sudanese side was headed by the state minister for foreign affairs Kamal Ismail while the Russian side was chaired by the Russian President’s Special Representative for the Middle East and Africa, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Bogdanov. The meetings discussed the ongoing efforts to reach a political settlement between the Sudanese parties, and the need to work hard toward full implementation of the cooperation agreements between Sudan and South Sudan at the top of which the security arrangements. Sudan Tribune

Rival Forces Clash in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State
Rival South Sudanese forces clashed on Saturday in Central Equatoria state, situated south of the national capital, Juba. The deadly clashes, between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to First Vice President, Riek Machar, left at least 21 soldiers dead and dozen others wounded on both sides, according to military sources. “SPLA and SPLA-IO forces clashed on Saturday. The fighting occurred in Kansuk payam of Keji Keji county. Our forces were attacked in the area by the SPLA forces,” a senior military officer of the SPLA-IO told Sudan Tribune on Sunday. He blamed the forces loyal to President Kiir for allegedly attacking their military base around Keji Keji in Kansuk area. The source, who is also a member of the military committee responsible for the security arrangements per the August 2015 peace agreement, also claimed that the SPLA-IO forces defeated the SPLA forces in self-defence. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Hit by Mysterious Ebola-like Illness
South Sudan has been reeling from civil war, widespread hunger, and desperate poverty. The last thing the world’s newest nation needs is a deadly mystery disease. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it’s got. At least 10 people have died so far from the disease, which has symptoms that include bleeding, fever and vomiting. These effects are similar to Ebola, but tests show that it’s not, leaving medical workers perplexed. “The lab results are not consistent with the symptoms, and that is what is concerning,” Dr. Rohit Chitale, an epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told IRIN in a phone interview. So far the risk of an epidemic seems low. The disease hasn’t come anywhere near the levels of the Ebola epidemic that appeared in 2014 and tore through the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. IRIN

Al-Shabab Says Executed More of Its Own in Somalia
Al-Shabab militants in Somalia say they have executed two of their members, both of them recruited from Kenya, for disloyalty and anti-Islamic activities. The two Kenyans and a Somali man executed at the same time were killed in Somalia’s Middle Juba region on Friday, local residents told VOA’s Somali Service. The executions also were reported on an al-Shabab website. In the Bay region, four other men were executed Friday, accused of spying for Somali, Kenyan and U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a statement issued on social media by the extremist group. It said one of the four was accused of facilitating the drone strike in September 2014 that killed al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, also known as Abu Zubayr. VOA

Don’t Send us into Shabaab’s Hands — Exiles
Refugees fear for their lives as state plans to close camps, transfer them to Somalia. The planned repatriation of refugees and closure of the Dadaab camps could destroy the inhabitants’ livelihoods, traumatise their children and expose them to attacks by al Shabaab, some refugees have said. Some 329,811 refugees live in five camps in Dadaab. Speaking to the Star on Tuesday, some of them said the Kenyan government should have struck a compromise with Somalia on how best to solve the impasse. Kenya calls the camps an economic burden and security threat. It wanted to close Dadaab and send everyone back by November. After an international outcry, it backtracked and now says there’s no deadline. “We can’t believe we are being sent back to a country that is still unstable and faced with security lapses,” said Abdi Mohammed, 60, a refugee at Ifo II camp. “The attacks on a Kenyan base by the al Shabaab and now claims they have attacked Ethiopian forces only serve to prove that the country is still insecure. We wonder what al Shabaab can do to defenceless Somali citizens.” Bar-kulan

Seychelles Court Sentences Five Somalis to 12 Years
A last group of suspected Somali pirates that remained on trial in Seychelles has been found guilty of piracy offences and sentenced to 12 years in prison by the Seychelles Supreme Court on Friday. In the ruling delivered by Judge Gustave Dodin the five were convicted of two out of three counts of piracy brought against them by the prosecution. The Somalis stood accused of attacking a dhow and holding the Indian crew as hostages, as well as for using the dhow as a pirate ship to attack an oil tanker. The offences were said to have been committed in the Gulf of Aden between January 1 and January 18, 2014. The five suspected pirates were transferred to Seychelles on January 30, 2014 by French naval ship FS Sirco, which was part of the EU Naval Force, in collaboration with a Japanese air force plane. Their transfer to the Indian Ocean island nation for prosecution was thanks to a pirate transfer agreement signed between EU and the Seychelles in December 2009. Bar-kulan

Kenyan Opposition Calls Off Protests
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) has called off protests agitating for the removal of the electoral commission, after meeting church leaders and envoys. Cord, however, will resume demonstrations on Thursday if no solution is found by 9pm on Wednesday, Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama said on Sunday, while addressing a press conference at his Gigiri office. “We wanted solutions and we think the government should be given time. They are engaging us at the highest levels,” Mr Muthama said. Siaya Senator James Orengo added they had agreed during the extensive engagement with diplomats, business community and the clergy, that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cannot conduct credible elections. He said they have given the Jubilee coalition, headed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, time to respond to Cord’s demands. The Citizen

Uganda: Army Officers Arrested over Plot Against President
Dozens of military officers, including some senior ones, have been arrested over an alleged plot to overthrow long-time President Yoweri Museveni, a Ugandan military official said Sunday. More officers are being arrested over alleged acts of subversion following the detention Saturday of a colonel with the country’s air forces, military spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda told The Associated Press. Ankunda said the officers have suspected links to an opposition lawmaker, Michael Kabaziguruka, who is being questioned by the police over similar allegations. Kabaziguruka is a close ally of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was charged with treason following a disputed presidential election in February. AP

Rwanda Required to Appear at Ingabire Court Case in Arusha
The Rwanda government is expected to appear at the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights, despite requesting to withdraw from the court’s special declaration that allows individuals and NGOs to sue governments. In March, Rwanda put in a request to pull out of the declaration. The move led to the suspension of the hearing of a case involving opposition leader Victoire Ingabire after the government failed to send representatives.  Ms Ingabire, 47, who heads the unregistered political party FDU Inkingi, had taken the government to the Arusha-based court, accusing it of violating her rights and freedoms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She wants the court to force the Rwandan government to release her on parole, as well as incur the cost of reparations. She is currently serving a 15-year jail sentence handed to her by Rwanda’s Supreme Court in 2013, for inciting revolt, forming armed groups to destabilise the country and denying the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. East African

Rwanda Expels Burundians Who Say They Were Accused of Spying
Rwanda has expelled about 400 Burundians back to their country accusing some of them of espionage and fuelling tensions between the two small neighbors whose relations have been strained by Burundi’s political crisis, an official said on Sunday. It’s the second such expulsion in about a month and brings the total number of Burundians deported over the period to at least 1,700. One of those expelled, a young man who did not wish to be named for fear he might be targeted, told Reuters Rwandan officials accused some of them of spying for Burundi. “We were accused of being envoys of Burundi government and sent there to spy on Rwanda,” he said. Renée Mukandori, a Burundi local government official, confirmed the expulsion to Reuters and said it occurred on Thursday and Friday. Those deported mostly came from the Bugabira district of northern Burundi. Reuters

Burundi Opposition Happy With Mediator Talks
Burundi’s key umbrella opposition group said Saturday it was “very satisfied” after meetings in Brussels with a mediator tasked with brokering talks to resolve the country’s festering political crisis. International efforts are under way to find an end to the turmoil in Burundi, which has seen hundreds of people killed and a quarter of a million flee the country. The crisis began with President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision in April 2015 to run for a third term, a vote he won three months later amid an opposition boycott. The CNARED group, which includes almost all of Burundi’s political opposition, was barred from talks in Tanzania last month, but met mediator Benjamin Mkapa, a former Tanzanian president, in Brussels on Friday and Saturday. “We are very satisfied with our meetings with the Burundi crisis mediator since yesterday, it is even a victory as it amounts to recognition of CNARED,” the group’s spokesman Jeremie Minani said. While some members of CNARED were invited to Tanzania individually, the organisation as a whole was kept off the list. APF/Global Post

Large Gap Remains Between Views of Burundi Government
The regional mediator in the Burundian conflict, former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, has met the leaders of the main opposition coalition—the National Council for the restoration of the Arusha Accords and the Rule of Law (CNARED)—and former Burundian presidents in exile to try to address the country’s crisis in Brussels, Belgium. In a two-day meeting which began on Friday morning, CNARED presented Mkapa with a “roadmap” out of the crisis which would require President Pierre Nkurunziza to retire from office. CNARED contends that he is an illegitimate leader because he was re-elected last year to a third term despite the two-term limit in the constitution. “CNARED prefers a peaceful and negotiated way, but Nkurunziza still doesn’t hear. But if this fails, there are groups which took up arms that are likely to claim their right by force,” said Gervais Rufyikiri one of the CNARED leaders and a former Burundi vice president.” SABC

‘Why Does No One Mention Burundi?’ Asks Winner of New Humanitarian Award
In October 1993, two days after her Tutsi family were murdered by Hutus in Burundi, Marguerite Barankitse stood in front of a house of Hutus to stop a mob of local Tutsis taking revenge. “Before I am a Tutsi, I am a Christian,” Barankitse remembers telling the mob. “I will not allow you to kill those people.” The mob took no notice. Calling Barankitse a traitor, they stripped her, tied her to a chair, and burned down the house. “The Hutus were obliged to come out,” she says. “And to punish me, the Tutsis killed 72 people.” … Yet just two decades since her intervention, that violence has returned once again to Burundi, forcing Barankitse to flee for her life, along with a quarter of a million Burundians. …  “In 1993 it was an ethnic conflict, the Hutus tried to kill Tutsis,” says Barankitse. “Now it’s political. It’s the police and the government, who are supposed to protect their population but who are killing them.” Barankitse became a target for the regime, and last year her former students encouraged her to leave while she still could. “It’s better for you to save many Burundians outside the country than to be inside and be killed,” she was told. The Guardian

Magufuli Criticised as Tanzania Bans Rallies
Tanzania police have banned opposition parties from conducting planned nationwide protests for fear they could escalate into civil disobedience amid growing allegations that President John Magufuli was abusing his power. The development comes after the main opposition party Chadema scaled up attacks against the president after the government dropped live broadcasts in parliament and Deputy Speaker Tulia Ackson rejected MPs’ calls to cancel the debate on the decision to suspend over 7,800 students pursuing special teaching diploma courses at Dodoma University. As a result, opposition MPs boycotted the parliamentary budget sessions chaired by Dr Ackson whom they accused of hijacking their parliamentary privileges. The MPs said they will bring up a motion on a vote of no confidence against him. East African

Malawian Albinos Under Threat
At least 18 people with albinism have been murdered in Malawi since 2014 and Malawian police have documented 69 violent attacks. Now Amnesty International is calling on the government to put a stop to it. “We are being targeted and killed like animals and it has even complicated our day to day activities in terms of going to school, getting to work and even trusting people around us,” explains Boniface Massah, Director of the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi. … In the country, criminal gangs often prey on what they refer to as the “white blacks”, a derogatory term for people with albinism. They kill them and sell their body parts to traditional healers. Even graves are frequently looted. According to the UN, there is a lucrative black market for this cruel and inhumane practice. An entire body of a person with albinism can fetch up to 66,000 euros ($ 74,900). DW

Fleeing Renamo, Mozambican Villagers Seek Refuge in Eastern Zim—Report
A traditional chief living near Zimbabwe’s eastern border with Mozambique claims Mozambican villagers are fleeing across the border to escape attacks by Renamo rebels, a report says. In the first reports this year of Mozambican villagers seeking refuge in Zimbabwe, Chief Mapungwana told the state-controlled Manica Post newspaper that a number of Mozambican villagers had asked for permission to build temporary homes in his area in the Chipinge area of Manicaland province. Luthando Mapepa, a reporter from the newspaper, said he crossed the border to Espungabeira last weekend and found “affected communities … were fleeing to Zimbabwe, running away from Renamo bandits.” Espungabeira is in Mozambique’s Manica province and lies just 4km from the border with Zimbabwe. News24



Photo: Adam Jones