Media Review for June 14, 2016

Beaten and Tortured Before Thousands of Them Drown – Migrants Detained in Libya Detail Abuse
Migrants detained in Libya before they attempt to make the deadly crossing over the Mediterranean to Europe face beatings, torture and squalid conditions before they risk their lives on the open sea. … Abdurrahman, 23, from Eritrea, described the abuse he endured when the overloaded boat he was travelling on—with capacity for 50 people but carrying 120—was intercepted by members of the Libyan coastguard in January 2016. “They made everyone get off and beat them with rubber hoses and wooden sticks… They then shot one man in the foot – he was the last one coming off the boat so they asked him where the driver was, when he said he didn’t know they said ‘That means you are the driver’ and they shot him,” he said. IBTimes

Nigerian Militants Insist on Foreign Mediators for Talks with Government
The Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group that has carried out attacks on oil facilities in Nigeria’s southern oil region, said on Monday it would only negotiate with the government if independent foreign mediators were involved. Last week the group, which wants a greater share of Nigeria’s oil wealth to go to the impoverished Niger Delta region, rejected an offer from the government to hold talks. Attacks in the southern swampland have pushed oil production to a 20-year low in what was until recently Africa’s biggest oil producing nation. Its production has fallen behind Angola in the last few weeks. In a statement on its website, the Avengers said they wanted multinational oil companies operating in the country to “commit independent mediators to this proposed dialogue” to “bring about a lasting peace”. “If need be we may review our earlier stance of not taking lives,” the statement said. Reuters

Border Clashes Between Ethiopia and Eritrea Heighten Fears of War
The Eritrean Embassy in Kenya sent a text message alert Monday morning: The Ethiopians had attacked. Fighting on the border. Situation unfolding. … As the news of renewed clashes in the rocky, barren frontier began to spread on Monday, many Ethiopians and Eritreans feared the worst. Witnesses said both sides were rushing troops to the Tsorona border area, and heavy artillery was apparently fired from both sides. On the Eritrean side, several people were reported to have been killed. The reports of fighting and the lack of solid information raised fears that the two countries could be sliding once again toward all-out war. But by Monday afternoon, the extent of the fighting was unclear. The Ethiopian government said Eritrea started it. Getting more information out of Eritrea is like trying to see into a pitch-dark room: The government is one of the most secretive, isolated and repressive nations in the world. NY Times

U.S. Embassy Guard Killed in South Sudan Capital
A local security guard working at the United States Embassy was shot and killed by unknown gunmen in the South Sudan capital, Juba on Saturday. The U.S. envoy in Juba, Molly Phee said the deceased was a person who loved his nation. “The work of the U.S. Embassy and USAID [US Agency for International Development] is made possible each day by the outstanding efforts of 320 South Sudanese members of our team,” said Phee in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Monday. … The deceased, relatives said, worked as a guard at the American embassy for 10 years. The statement, which did not name the deceased, said the “Local Guard Force was shot last night around 1:45 am while he was on duty protecting an embassy off-site facility.” … This is the first time a diplomatic mission worker has been killed while at a work station. Sudan Tribune

Kenyan Lawmakers Propose Electoral Reforms After Weeks of Protests
Kenya’s parliament has proposed giving the Supreme Court more time to hear petitions against future presidential votes, after weeks of protests by oppositions parties accusing the main election body of bias. The results of both the 2007 and 2013 presidential elections were disputed, and in the aftermath of the December 2007 vote Kenya plunged into several weeks of ethnic bloodletting that killed about 1,200 people. Now, more than a year before the next election in August 2017, opposition protests have been staged on an almost weekly basis against the electoral oversight body which opponents say show pro-government bias, a charge the body denies. … The lower house of parliament, or National Assembly, is also proposing amending the constitution and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act to remove the role of the IEBC in resolving disputes relating to nominations. It called for a public consultation across the country between July 4 and July 15. Reuters

DRC Opposition Unites Against President Kabila
Leading opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say they have organized themselves under one umbrella called “Rassemblement” or “Rally” to force President Joseph Kabila to leave power. Kabila’s second term concludes at the end of this year. The new coalition was formed last week in Belgium and includes the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) led by veteran opposition figure Etienne Tshisekedi; the Dynamic Opposition, and the G7, which recently chose the governor of Katanga Province, Moise Katumbi, as its presidential candidate. … Opposition groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been holding almost weekly nationwide rallies to force President Kabila to respect the constitution and step down at the end of his second term. VOA

Gunmen Attack Remote Ugandan Police Post
Ugandan officials said they had repelled a deadly attack on a police post by gunmen in a northern district amid reports of mass arrests of soldiers accused of plotting against President Yoweri Museveni. The military and the police repulsed the gunmen following a firefight that lasted 30 minutes, Ugandan police spokesperson Fred Enanga said in a statement late on Sunday. One soldier was killed in the attack, and three soldiers and two police officials were wounded, police added. The attackers, who carried machine guns, targeted the main police station in the remote town of Gulu. … The military last week arrested dozens of soldiers and officers, including a colonel with the country’s air force, over links to alleged subversion. They are yet to be officially charged. News24

Burundi-Rwanda Political Tensions Continue
Political tensions between Burundi and Rwanda continue to rise as the Rwandan government expels more Burundians. Since Wednesday, Kigali has expelled at least 387 Burundians allegedly living in Rwanda illegally. Of these, 201 arrived in Kirundo province, which borders Rwanda, on Friday evening while another 175 had arrived in Burundi on Thursday and a further 11 on Wednesday. Some of the expelled Burundians said Rwandan authorities had accused them of spying for Burundi. However, the Rwandan government has been telling journalists that they were all expelled because they were not legal refugees. “They had no documents allowing them to live in Rwanda,” they said. … Not everyone believes the official explanations given by the Burundian and Rwandan authorities for the expulsions. Many see other reasons. “Both countries fear infiltrations,” an independent source in Rwanda said. IOL

Tanzania: I’m Being Hunted by the Police—Kabwe
Alliance for Change(ACT) party leader Zitto Kabwe says he is alive and well after speculation that he had disappeared under unclear circumstances. He has told reporters at the ACT Wazalendo HQ in Dar es salaam that the police force has been hunting him since yesterday. He has condemned what he described as “the government’s continued crackdown on the Opposition”. He also warned President John Magufuli that he is risking his reputation as a leader who has vowed to deal with corruption while his government bears all elements of dictatorship. “We should not allow the government to succeed in this mission. The President cannot fight corruption in an undemocratic country,” he said. The Citizen

In Drought-Stricken Burkina Faso, Farmers Get Creative
Rural Burkina Faso is battling more frequent and ever-longer droughts. The dry season, which traditionally lasted from mid-February to June, is increasingly extending into July and August, delaying the start of much-needed rainfall for planting. Crops frequently dry up or are attacked by insect pests, rendering most of the harvest useless. Farmers in the country’s northern Passoré province are getting a helping hand through one-day “plant clinics”, which allow them to bring in damaged crops for a consultation. The initiative is part of the Building Resilience to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED) programme, supported by Britain’s Department for International Development. … In a country where over 80 percent of the population relies on subsistence agriculture, persistent droughts also have big implications for hunger. According to the Food Agriculture Organisation, acute malnutrition in the Sahelian north stands at 9.4 percent for children under five, with over 10 percent considered a serious emergency. Reuters

Germany, Namibia ‘Genocide’ Talks Advanced
Germany and Namibia are in the advanced stages of talks on officially recognising as “genocide” a colonial-era crackdown more than a century ago in which more than 65 000 ethnic Hereros were killed, the German government said on Monday. It hopes to conclude them by late next year. … The aim is to produce joint declarations by the countries’ governments and parliaments and to draw “conclusions for the future,” which could include projects to give the descendants of the victims “development prospects,” Schaefer said. News24

How a Quiet, Wonky Lawyer Became South Africa’s Corruption-Buster
It’s not every day that a constitutional lawyer gets treated like a rock star. But at South African President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Union address in February, reporters jostled to hear what Thulisile Madonsela had to say about it, and onlookers took to Twitter to gush about her and her canary-yellow dress. … Madonsela is not just a lawyer. She is also South Africa’s public protector, an ombudsman-like post that has come to symbolize for many a struggle for rule of law and better governance in this young democracy. During her seven-year term, which ends in October, the soft-spoken Madonsela has endured personal attacks and intimidation as the public face of an office investigating allegations of misconduct, abuse of power and shoddy administration at every level of government, including the presidency. But her tenacity and success have also restored a vital sense of optimism in a country that many worry has veered off course 22 years after its first free elections. Washington Post



Photo: Adam Jones