Media Review for June 20, 2016

Boko Haram Murder 24 at Village Funeral – Mostly Women
Boko Haram militants have killed 24 people, mostly women, as they mourned at a funeral in a village in northern Nigeria, looting and burning their houses down.  Suspected Boko Haram militants also attacked a village in Niger while a delegation of ministers was visiting, killing seven police officers and wounding 12 in a gun battle. Some women were still missing after Thursday’s attack on the village of Kuda in Nigeria’s Adamawa state, according to a resident, Moses Kwagh. Maina Ularamu, a local community leader, said the attack occurred during the “mourning celebration” for a local leader. “They came on motorcycles and opened fire on the crowd, killing 24,” he said. “Most of the victims were women. They looted food supplies and burnt homes and they left almost an hour later.” The Guardian

Court in Egypt Sentences 2 Al-Jazeera Employees to Death, Former President Mohammed Morsi to 40 Years in Prison
An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced six people, including two Al-Jazeera employees, to death for allegedly passing documents related to national security to Qatar and the Doha-based TV network during the rule of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. Morsi, the case’s top defendant, and two of his aides were also sentenced to 25 years in prison. Morsi and his secretary, Amin el-Sirafy, received an additional 15-year sentence for a lesser crime. El-Sirafy’s daughter, Karima, was also sentenced to 15 years in prison. Morsi was ousted by the military in July 2013 and has already been sentenced to death in another case. That death sentence and another two — life and 20 years in prison — are under appeal. All of Saturday’s verdicts can be appealed. AP on Fox News

Burundi Could Pull out of Rome Statute after Launch of Probe
Burundi has threatened to reconsider its membership to the Rome Statute after the International Criminal Court launched preliminary investigations into post-election killings in the country. Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Nyamitwe said ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had not taken into account the principle of complementarity, where national courts are given the first priority to investigate the killings that have taken place in Burundi since April last year. Mr Nyamitwe said Burundi is yet to decide on its membership of the ICC but “should the ICC not respect what the African Union has been asking for, then we have no choice but to follow what others in the continent have come up with as an alternative.” The East African

Burundi’s Crackdown on Rebels Creates Tension after Ultimatum
Tensions remain high in the Mugamba region in Burundi, following a crackdown on rebels in the area. This follows the announcement by President Pierre Nkurunziza, who gave them a 15-day ultimatum to surrender their arms or risk being arrested. Wednesday marked the end of the ultimatum and according to reports, youths have been seen fleeing the area for fear of being arrested by the police. Several security forces have been deployed in the area though residents have been assured of their security. According to the police spokesperson, 26 people were apprehended and 6 kalashnikov guns have also been seized. Africa News

Bashir Declares Ceasefire in Blue Nile, South Kordofan
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has declared a comprehensive four-month ceasefire in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, where fighting between armed rebels and government troops has left scores of casualties. Rebel fighters with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) have been battling government forces in the two southern states since 2011, in a conflict where neither side has managed to difinitively take control of the two areas. “President Bashir announced four months of ceasefire in Blue Nile and South Kordofan starting from Saturday,” army spkoesman Brigadier Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami told AFP. “This gesture of good will from the government is to give the armed groups a chance to join the peace process and to surrender their arms.” Al Jazeera

Sudan Rebels Conditionally Accept Bashir Cease-fire
Rebel groups have announced conditional acceptance of a unilateral cease-fire declared by Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan. On Friday, Bashir declared a comprehensive four-month cease-fire in the two states, the scene of an insurgency against the Khartoum government since 2011. The rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) called for immediate negotiations with the Sudanese government in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to enforce the cease-fire on the ground. In a statement on Saturday, SPLM-N Secretary General Yasir Arman said Bashir’s move was preceded by a similar ceasefire declaration by rebel groups in the two states. Anadolu Agency

Al-Shabab Confirms Death of Garissa Attack Leader
Somalia’s armed group al-Shabab has confirmed the death of a commander suspected of organising the 2015 attack on Kenya’s Garissa University that left 148 people dead. The killing of Mohamed Mohamud Ali, also known as Dulyadin, was announced by Somali officials on June 1, and al-Shabab confirmed his death with the release of an obituary on Saturday. “We console ourselves and our nation for the martyrdom of the Muslim knight commander Sheik Mohamed Mohamud Ali (Dulyadin). May Allah accept him and lift him to paradise,” it said. Al-Shabab said the commander, also know by the aliases “Kuno” and “Gamadhere”, was killed by “US Crusaders”. Al Jazeera

Democracy in East Africa Loses Out as Governments Battle Opposition
A look at the region’s political scene reveals the grim struggle between those in power and those who oppose them, in a way that augurs ill for the political pluralism they have all subscribed to, at least on paper. The gap between the written constitutional provisions, which set up multi-party dispensations, and what happens on the ground grows wider every year. In Kenya, the opposition, led by lynchpin Raila Odinga of the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), has locked horns with President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee coalition on the former’s insistence on the reform of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which the opposition claims is biased in favour of the ruling coalition. So far, some deaths have occurred from police shooting during demonstrations called by Mr Odinga and his supporters to force President Kenyatta to agree to a negotiated settlement of the matter. The East African

ISIS Tries to Break Siege in Libya’s Sirte
The Islamic State group on Sunday tried to break a siege on their last holdouts in Sirte but were pushed back by fighters allied to Libya’s unity government, a spokesperson said. ISIS fighters have been pinned down in parts of Sirte since forces allied to the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) launched an operation to dislodge them from the coastal city last month. Pro-GNA forces on Sunday said they clashed with the jihadists who had launched a bid to break away from positions west of Sirte using “medium-sized” weapons. “Our forces confronted them and forced them to retreat,” said spokesperson Reda Issa. News 24

Libya Eastern Government Declares Martial Law
The speaker of Libya’s eastern parliament has declared martial law in areas under its control, a move intended to empower its military to respond quickly to infiltration by militias loyal to the rival, U.N.-brokered government in the capital, Tripoli. Parliament Speaker Agila Saleh’s declaration Sunday places the military on high alert and expands its powers. The measure reflects the eastern administration’s consternation as it comes under growing pressure by the international community to recognize the Tripoli-based national unity government. AP on Stars and Stripes

Algerian Troops Kill Eight Islamist Militants
Algerian soldiers killed eight armed Islamist militants in an operation south of the capital on Sunday, the defence ministry said. It said the eight “terrorists” were killed in an ambush in a mountainous area of the Medea region, about 80km south of Algiers. Arms and ammunition were seized, it said. The ambush was part of an ongoing operation against militants that began on June 9 and had so far led to the killings of 12 “terrorists” and the arrests of four others. The authorities in the North African country use the term “terrorists” to refer to Islamist militants. News 24

Nineteen Migrants Found Suffocated in Truck at DRC-Zambia Border
Congolese authorities confirmed on Saturday that they had discovered the bodies of 19 migrants who had asphyxiated in a Zambian-registered truck earlier in the week. Border guards in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said they had been alerted by the sickening smell coming from a truck which was revealed to have been carrying some 100 refugees. The seventy-six living migrants were rescued when the vehicle was stopped on the Zambian border in southeastern Congo on Thursday. “We stopped this vehicle … because of the nauseous smell which was coming from the trailer,” said Jean-Pierre Lubosha, head of the DRC border control. He told the press that the crew had at first claimed to be transporting fish. Deutsche Welle

Migrants Dying of Dehydration, Starvation, Sexual Attacks in North Africa
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said the discovery of 34 dead migrants in the Sahara this week brings the number of known migrant deaths on the African continent this year to 471. IOM believes these deaths may be only a fraction of the true number of migrant fatalities across North Africa. The Geneva-based organization reports at least 120,000 migrants have passed through Niger this year on their way to Europe. Yet, the only deaths recorded by IOM in Niger are the 34 victims who died after being abandoned by their smuggler this week. The agency said many more people have died from exposure, starvation or dehydration in the vast Sahara Desert. It said there also is an alarming trend of violent deaths for migrants in North Africa. IOM spokesman Joel Millman told VOA that sexual attacks have been responsible for dozens of deaths. VOA

So Near and Yet so Far: Yemeni Refugees Stuck in Djibouti
The war in Yemen triggered a little-reported flood of refugees fleeing across the sea to Djibouti, where they try to recreate a normal life. James Jeffrey reports from a remote camp near the desert town of Obock. Deutsche Welle

Cameroon Ivory Bust Reveals Maritime Trafficking Route
Cameroon is making efforts to crack down on elephant poaching and ivory trafficking. Several recent busts have led officials to intensify surveillance at sea and in border areas. A man who complained to police at their station near the town of Campo on Cameroon’s southern border with Gabon and Equatorial Guinea was arrested alongside 45 other people although he insisted he was just a passenger aboard the ship. But Georges Mouncharou, Cameroon’s highest wildlife official in the area, said the ship had three containers of ivory on board weighing about 200 kilograms. The discovery was a bit of luck. Mouncharou said the ship ran out of fuel Tuesday and had to anchor in Cameroonian waters. The vessel was traveling from Gabon to Nigeria. Cameroonian officials noticed the ship while it was re-fueling and suspecting that it was owned by traffickers, they boarded it for a search. It is the first time Cameroon has found ivory on a sea vessel. VOA

The Potential Impact of Brexit on Africa
What does Brexit – the withdrawal of Britain from the EU – have to do with Africa? A lot, says Uzo Madu, a British citizen with Nigerian roots. The blogger told DW that Africa played an important role for Britain when it joined the EU. When Britain’s colonial empire ended, the economy faltered as well. “I think Africa was a strong motivation for the European integration process. Also, in the context of Britain, its withdrawal from the empire and declining economic strength due to this made the move towards the European experiment somewhat inevitable,” says Madu. She also points to the historical importance of British EU membership for the country’s former colonies: “If we look at how Britain joined the EU in the early 70s, it also meant that also Commonwealth Africa would now join the EU-Africa relations club. The British ascension agreement included a lot of provisions about Commonwealth African countries who were able to get EU preferential trading schemes.” Deutsche Welle

The Ethical Failure – Why I Resigned from the UN
There is no hierarchy in the horror and brutality I witnessed during those two decades – massacres, torture, killings, the displacement of populations – but an eight-year-old boy describing in detail his sexual abuse by the peacekeepers meant to protect him is the kind of account I wish I’d never had to read. I’d also seen a lot of the UN’s dysfunction over the years, but I wasn’t prepared for how the organisation would deal with these events, with the ensuing scandal – and with me. Cholera in Haiti, corruption in Kosovo, murder in Rwanda, cover-up of war crimes in Darfur: on too many occasions the UN is failing to uphold the principles and standards set out in its Charter, rules and regulations. Sadly, we seem to be witnessing more and more UN staff less concerned with abiding by the ethical standards of the international civil service than with doing whatever is most convenient – or least likely to cause problems – for themselves or for member states. IRIN

65,000 Rights Complaints Filed to Tunisia ‘Truth Panel’
A panel
tasked with uncovering the truth about human rights violations under Tunisia’s autocratic rulers before its 2011 revolution said Friday it has received 65,000 complaints. The Truth and Dignity Commission has tracked abuses committed between July 1955 — just a year before Tunisia gained its independence from France — and December 2013 when the fact-finding body was set up. The period effectively covers the rules of prime ministers Habib Bourguiba, that of his successor Zine El Abidine Ben Ali ousted in the 2011 uprising, and the first post-revolutionary governments. Commission head Sihem Bensedrine told a news conference they had received a slew of complaints including of “torture… arbitrary detentions… physical abuse… violations of freedom of speech”. Al Arabiya

Egyptians Pay Too Much for Food Due to Needless Rules, U.S. Says
Unnecessary and burdensome regulations will leave Egypt, the world’s largest wheat buyer, with more than $860 million in direct costs and lost export earnings this year while its citizens pay more for their food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Costly tender requirements, confusion over wheat-import policies and curbs on the export of rice were cited by the U.S. agency’s Foreign Agricultural Service in a June 8 report that was published Thursday. The country could increase earnings and lower import costs if it complied with international standards, according to the report. “Egypt’s unorthodox agricultural measures lead to spending cash it cannot afford and missed market opportunities for some of its key commodities,” the USDA said. “The end result is higher food prices paid by Egypt’s overburdened consumers, in complete dissonance with the government’s efforts and trumped up claims that it’s trying to make food more affordable.” Bloomberg

Morocco Launches Foundation to Fight Extremism in Africa
Morocco launched a religious foundation on Wednesday to counter the growing waves of extremism in Africa and promote religious moderation and tolerance across the continent. Moroccan King Mohammed VI gave the go-ahead for the foundation in a ceremony attended by scholars from 31 African countries. The Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema (scholars) seeks to unify and coordinate the efforts of Muslim scholars in Morocco as well as in other African states to disseminate and reinforce the values of tolerance in Islam. Xinhua

Algeria Blocks Social Media Networks to Stop Exam Cheating
Algeria has said that it has temporarily blocked Facebook and some other social media networks to stop cheating in upcoming school exams. The move follows leaks of baccalaureate papers and exam questions online ahead of retakes. In a statement Sunday, the Ministry of Post and Information and Communication Technology said that the “cut of social networks has a direct relationship with the matriculation exams” which begin Sunday. The ministry said that the unusual move was made to protect students from “phony topics” that might appear on social media. AP on The Washington Post

Nigerian Naira Slumps 23 Percent after Currency Peg Ends
Nigeria’s naira slumped 23 percent against the U.S. dollar on Monday in tentative interbank trading after central bank removed its currency peg, Thomson Reuters data showed. The naira traded just twice at 255 against the dollar, and less than $1 million had changed hands by 11:00 a.m. (1000 GMT), as dealers said they were nervous about foreign exchange liquidity under the new system. Monday’s rate was sharply weaker than the 197 peg the central bank had been maintaining for the past 16 months, then abandoned last week in a bid to alleviate chronic forex shortages. But it was still off the 350 seen on the parallel market since a slump in oil revenues started hammering public finances and foreign currency reserves. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones