Media Review for June 17, 2016

U.N. Names States Not Keeping Pledges from Obama Peacekeeping Summit
Most of the 47 countries that pledged support to U.N. peacekeeping at a summit led by U.S. President Barack Obama have taken steps to lock in the commitments, according to a draft report seen by Reuters, but several of them – including Spain – are lagging. The U.S.-led push for more U.N. troop options comes amid allegations of misconduct and sexual abuse by U.N. peacekeepers in Central African Republic. Officials and diplomats said it was hoped surplus troops would allow the U.N. to exercise more discretion with its 16 current missions. The United Nations is using some of the new troops on offer as leverage to put pressure on poor-performing units, a U.N. diplomat said, citing the repatriation of hundreds of Democratic Republic of Congo troops from Central African Republic after sexual abuse accusations. The U.N. draft report on the status of the pledges made at Obama’s September summit showed some of the support promised by 10 countries had already been deployed to U.N. missions in Mali, South Sudan, Congo and elsewhere. Reuters

Nine Killed as Congo Troops Clash with Ex-militia Fighters: NGO
At least nine people died in clashes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that erupted when government soldiers prevented former fighters from leaving a camp for demobilised militia groups, officials said on Thursday. The camp houses ex-fighters from the Rwandan-backed M23, which participated in rebellions against the government of President Joseph Kabila in 2012 and 2013, and the Mai Mai militia, whose allegiance fluctuated during the conflicts, a U.N. official said. Emmanuel Cole, president of the Bill Clinton Foundation for Peace, a human rights NGO in Kinshasa, said six ex-militia fighters and three soldiers died in Wednesday’s clashes. Congo’s east has been plagued by instability and conflict for two decades. The region suffered the worst of the fighting during a war between 1996 and 2003 that sucked in half a dozen African countries and left millions of people dead. World powers fear a repeat of that violence as Congo approaches a contentious election period with Kabila, in power since 2002, accused of seeking to delay the poll or change the constitution to extend his mandate for another term. Kabila has not commented. Reuters

Soldier Kills 7 in Kampala Barracks Rampage
At least eight people have been killed in a shootout inside the Makindye Military Police barracks just outside the Kampala Central Business district. The barracks, which house the elite disciplinary unit of the army, has been sealed off. Confirming the incident Thursday afternoon, Uganda People’s Defence Forces spokesman Col Paddy Ankunda said most of the dead are civilians, children and women believed to be wives of the soldiers in the barracks. The motive of the shooting spree is still unknown. Ankunda said in a tweet, “Sad moment Sgt Obua Isaac of military police Makindye has just gone bonkers killed seven people. All of the killed are women and children, one child injured. Sgt Obua Isaac, the killer, has been put out of action”. The incident though not the first rampage killing spree by a soldier has happened at a time when Uganda is experiencing his security tensions following mass arrests of soldiers and politicians allegedly involved in subversive activity. East African

Number of Child Soldiers in Somalia May Top 5,000, UN Reports
A top official with the U.N. Children’s Fund says there could be 5,000 child soldiers in Somalia as al-Shabab continues its recruiting campaigns. In an interview with VOA Somali, Susannah Price, UNICEF chief of communication, said the recruitment and use of young children as soldiers was documented, and at surprisingly high numbers. “This is a very, very … disturbing situation,” Price said. “Indeed, there could be up to 5,000 child soldiers. We know that al-Shabab has a recruiting campaign for children sometimes involving persuasion. They may be giving money or food sometimes. The children in the [displaced persons] camps are an easy target.” In the past, an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 children — sometimes as young as 9 — were enlisted in the Somali armed forces, according to UNICEF. VOA

Prize for Achievement in African Leadership Goes Unclaimed, Again
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced on Thursday that the seven-member prize committee had failed to find a winner for the 2015 award, after no one met the criteria. “When we launched the prize 10 years ago, we deliberately set a very high bar,” said chairman of the foundation, Mo Ibrahim, a telecoms entrepreneur. “We want the prize to shine a spotlight on outstanding leadership to provide role models right across society, as well as supporting laureates to continue to serve the continent by sharing their wisdom and experience.” Candidates for the prize worth $5 million (4.4 million euros) are former African executive heads of state or government who have left office in the previous three years. Deutsche Welle

Boko Haram Opens Radio Station
Boko Haram has established an FM radio station, according to a report monitored on the Hausa service of the Voice of America yesterday. Residents in Tolkomari, which is in the far northern part of Cameroon, have confirmed receiving broadcast messages from the sect via the radio station on 96.8 frequency modulation. The VoA report said the station broadcast mainly propaganda materials to counter media reports of victories by troops from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic against the Boko Haram militants. The report said the Cameroonian government is worried by the new development and has commenced investigations towards locating the radio station, which is said to be on the Nigeria-Cameroun border. Africa Reporters

LRA Rebels Intensify Attacks and Abductions in CAR – UN Warns
The United Nations has said that the the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels have stepped up attacks and abductions in the Central African Republic, in the first three months of this year. UN’s concerns come after reports emerged on Wednesday that the rebels had kidnapped 29 people from two villages in CAR this week. The UN also raised concerns over Ugandan military plans to withdraw its anti-LRA troops from the region, saying that the withdrawal will further complicate the manhunt for an infamous warlord, Joseph Kony. Africa News

Desperation Rising at Home, Africans Increasingly Turn to Risky Seas
[…] More than 1,300 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean in boats from North Africa in the last few weeks alone. Most of the people who risk everything to make the crossing come from places like Eritrea, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia and other African countries where the job market is decimated. The global debate over migration often focuses on the desperate treks of Syrians fleeing a horrible civil war. But the latest deaths at sea are a powerful reminder that the journey Africans take to escape the hardships of daily life in their countries is significantly more dangerous — and increasingly common, the United Nations says. Getting to Europe from places like Senegal often requires crossing hundreds of miles of barren desert terrain patrolled by thieves and the most fearsome of terrorist groups — offshoots of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. The New York Times

Ghana’s President and the $100,000 Burkinabe Car Gift Controversy
The thin line between a gift and a bribe: that is the situation Ghana’s president finds himself after receiving a ‘gift’ of a Ford Expedition from a Burkinabe contractor but for the main opposition NPP, the president has proven he is corrupt. This piece looks at the issue, what Ghana’s laws says, vis-a-vis the upcoming elections. With barely five and half months to crucial general elections, the president of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama is entangled in a scandal dating back to 2012 where he is reported to have received a gift of a vehicle valued at $100,000 from a Burkinabe contractor. Africa News

Corruption Case Against Malawi’s Ex-President Hits Another Snag
It has been almost a decade since former Malawi President Bakili Muluzi was arrested on corruption charges, but his trial has made little progress. A judge will rule Friday on another request for a 30-day postponement. Muluzi, 73, and his former personal secretary, Lyness Whiskey, are accused of stealing 1.7 billion Malawian kwacha ($12 million) during his 1994-2004 presidency. The funds came to Malawi as aid from Taiwan, Morocco and Libya. The former president has always said the charges were politically motivated. The lead prosecutor in the case recused himself a month ago, citing personal reasons. The trial was to resume Monday, but the new prosecutor said a key witness was not available and asked the judge for 30 days to review the charges. Tamando Chokotho, the lead defense counsel, also said he would need more time to prepare. VOA

Splits and Schisms in South Sudan: How the Creation of More States is Undermining Peace
One of South Sudan’s 10 original states, Central Equatorial has been split into three: Terekeka, Jubek and Yei, each with its own flag, local commissioner, and institutions. President Salva Kiir has done likewise across the country, reorganising South Sudan into 28 states, largely along ethnic lines. He announced the policy in October 2015 and implemented it in December 2015 despite objections from the UN, the international community, and, most importantly, the opposition – led by former vice president Riek Machar. Machar’s return to Juba late April marked the end of a two-and-a-half-year civil war in which government and opposition forces alike committed mass atrocities against civilians, including murder, rape, and the use of child soldiers. Much of the brutality took place along ethnic lines, with Kiir’s Dinka soldiers targeting civilians of Machar’s Nuer people, and vice versa. The two sides signed a peace agreement in Addis Ababa in 2015, and Machar’s return marked a step forward, at least enabling the formation of a transitional unity government. But other parts of the agreement seem forgotten or outright ignored – most obviously, Kiir has ploughed on with implementing his 28-states policy without waiting for an independent commission to evaluate the move. IRIN

Enough Project calls on President Kiir to Ensure Return of Stolen Money
A United States-based Enough Project has called on South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir, to ensure that the public money which have been stolen over the years by his officials should be returned. JPEG – 12.4 kb Clooney, South Sudan’s Kiir and Prendergast share a light moment, March 11, 2012 (Larco Lomayat) In a statement released on Thursday, Enough Project’s top leaders including John Prendergast and Brian Adeba, said President Kiir’s recent comments to recover the assets stolen were encouraging, but cautioned that past promises by the President meant nothing. “Recently, the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, called for global support to recover assets stolen by South Sudanese elites and deposited into foreign bank accounts or spent on purchasing properties in foreign countries. This is not the first time President Kiir has expressed a desire to tackle elite corruption in his country. In past cases, however, there has been no effective follow through, leaving the situation unchanged and the stolen assets in the hands of those who stole them,” said Enough Project in the statement. Sudan Tribune

Airmen from Europe, US on 1st African Partnership Flight in Kenya
More than 50 airmen from Europe and the United States are preparing to train with their counterparts from three East African countries as part of the first African Partnership Flight in Kenya. The exercise, which begins Monday, will be the largest of its kind since U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa launched the first African Partnership Flight in Ghana in 2012. The program strives to strengthen relationships with African nations while helping them develop their own air forces, Air Force officials said. “We try to conduct multilateral training, to pull multiple nations in and train them simultaneously,” said Maj. Todd Tyler, who works in USAFE-AFAFRICA’s international affairs operations branch and is the African Partnership Flight-Kenya mission commander. “This helps us to not only guarantee regional interoperability but also regional cooperation.” USAFE-AFAFRICA currently has plans to conduct two partnership flights on the continent per year in different countries. Stars and Stripes

Search Teams Recover Cockpit Voice recorder from Ill-fated EgyptAir Plane
The cockpit voice recorder from the crashed EgyptAir plane has been found by search teams who were forced to repair the damaged device over several stages, Egyptian investigators announced on Thursday. Egypt’s investigation committee said the so-called black box from the ill-fated Airbus A320 was located and pulled out of the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the damage to the voice recorder, the Mauritius-based Deep Ocean Search vessel successfully recovered the machine’s memory unit. France 24

Tortured and Cast Out: Nigeria’s ‘Cursed’ Children
[…] thousands of children are accused of witchcraft by their families every year in Nigeria. These children are often abused; in some cases, killed. Many are cast out by their communities and end up on the streets. A recent study commissioned by the EU concluded that witch-hunting children was one of the most neglected abuses of human rights of the past few years. The gruesome practice occurs in various African countries, as well as parts of Asia, but most commonly in Nigeria. The situation is especially critical in the Akwa Ibom region in the south-west of the country. Deutsche Welle

What is Happening to the Nigerian Naira?
Nigerians have been busy debating the government’s decision to ease currency controls, which have been blamed for stagnating the economy. This shift in policy, announced this week, will likely result in a plunge in the value of the naira. RFI spoke with three Nigerian economists who have varied views on the decision. For the past few years, the naira has been pegged at 197 or 199 to the US dollar. However, the head of the Central Bank of Nigeria said Wednesday that Nigeria would introduce a flexible exchange rate, starting on June 20. RFI

Ethiopia Downplays Eritrea’s Claim it Killed 200 Soldiers
The Ethiopian government on Thursday downplayed a claim by Eritrea that the latter has inflicted heavy losses to Ethiopian troops during the weekend clashes along their disputed border. In a statement issued today, Eritrea alleged that its Army has killed 200 Ethiopian troops and wounded more than 300 further saying the disclosed figures are conservative estimates. The statement issued by the Eritrean ministry of information added that Ethiopian forces were “compelled to retreat to locations beyond from where they initially unleashed the attack” However Ethiopia has immediately downplayed Asmara’s claim saying the number of causalities Eritrea alleged to have entailed were only a desperate and cooked up figures aimed to cover the very heavy loss the Eritrean Army suffered. Sudan Tribune

Ethiopia Dismisses Human Rights Watch Report on Oromia Region
Ethiopian authorities have dismissed a 61-page report by Human Rights Watch that details the killings of more than 400 people over the past seven months in a crackdown on protests in the country’s Oromia region. Government spokesman Getachew Reda told VOA Thursday an organization so far from the realities on the ground could not have issued an accurate account of the human rights situation in Oromia. The spokesperson said Ethiopia’s national human rights commission issued its own report with death tolls that were significantly lower than the Human Rights Watch report and accused the organization of not checking its facts. Human Rights Watch said soldiers have repeatedly fired live ammunition at Oromia protesters with little or no warning or attempts to use non-lethal crowd control measures. It said many of those killed were students, including children under the age of 18. VOA

Somaliland: Kill All But the Crows
To much of the world, Somalia has a fearsome reputation. It is seen as one of the most dangerous places on the planet – a failed state that is widely believed to be home to warlords, pirates and terrorists. But in the north of the country, at least, the reality is different. Somaliland is an autonomous enclave with its own flourishing capital city, Hargeisa. Though a long way off from receiving international recognition as an independent state, it is a haven of peace and stability when compared with the rest of Somalia. But Somaliland has its dark side. Within living memory its citizens fell victim to the most savage of state-sponsored atrocities. General Siad Barre – the ruthless dictator who ruled Somalia from 1969 to 1991 – went to war with the clans who inhabited the area. Believing them to be supporting a rebellion against his regime, he took revenge by sending in his army with a mandate to “kill all but the crows”. Al Jazeera

The Uprising That Changed South Africa
It is considered a turning point in the long struggle against apartheid in South Africa. On June 16, 1976, schoolchildren took to the streets of Soweto to protest against a decision that would force them to be taught in Afrikaans, the language of their oppressors. Schools for black children were already in a dismal state, intentionally overcrowded and under-resourced. It was under these conditions that the students protested on that day 40 years ago. In a response consistent with the way the apartheid government repressed dissent, police opened fire on the young protesters. Officially, 170 students were killed, but many put that figure as high as 700 in the violence that followed. It became known as the Soweto Uprising and led to other protests across the country. But 40 years on, what does the Soweto Uprising mean for a new generation of young South Africans? Al Jazeera

Mozambique’s Tangled Web of Debt
The ruling party is struggling to convince voters and bankers that it can clean up the government’s books and hold former regime members to account. The discovery in April of two state-guaranteed loans worth more than $1bn, taken out by shadowy companies linked to the intelligence services, has triggered an economic and political crisis unprecedented since peace and democracy returned to Mozambique in the early 1990s. The newly discovered loans mean the government of Armando Guebuza approved more than $2bn in secret guarantees for companies set up by the intelligence services and the defence ministry, including the controversial Empresa Moçambicana de Atum (Ematum) deal, whose $850m loan came to light in 2013. The Africa Report

The Disease Detective Who Speaks the Truth About Epidemics
The first time I saw Ali Khan in action, we were both much younger, and perhaps more idealistic. The year was 1995, the place — a remote village down the Kwilu River from the equally remote city of Kikwit, in a nation formerly known as Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was sweltering hot, we were atop the equator, and the center of the village was denuded of shade-providing trees. The village elder, shouting in Kikongo, was putting out as much angry heat as the sun boring down upon us: He was enraged that Khan and other foreigners were trying to remove an ailing resident of the village to a quarantine site. Tempers rise during epidemics. Every culture, whether African or American, has beliefs and taboos that clash with efforts to stop the spread of disease. In my experience, few diseases elevate raw emotions and fear like the hemorrhagic virus Ebola. I sat on the periphery, trying to follow as the Kikongo, Zairois, French, and Parisian patois barked back and forth among the locals and their American, Belgian, and WHO visitors. Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones