Media Review for June 27, 2016

Terrorist Siege of Mogadishu Hotel Kills 20
Authorities in Somalia say a terrorist siege of a Mogadishu hotel has ended, but not before at least 20 people were killed, including a government minister. The militant group al-Shabab is claiming responsibility for the attack, saying the hotel is frequented by what it calls “apostate government members.” Somalia’s foreign minister says among the dead is the country’s environments minister, Buri Mohamed Hamza. The Somali National News Agency said Sunday the death toll stands at 20, including three staff members of a radio station. Police say the terrorists set off a car bomb outside the Hotel Naso-Hablod Saturday afternoon before gunmen burst into the building, firing their weapons at random and seizing hostages. Police stormed the hotel and engaged the gunmen in a firefight, cornering them on the top floor. VOA

Kenya Aims to Cut Size of Somali Refugee Camp by About Half by End-2016
Kenya aims to reduce by almost half the population of Dadaab refugee camp which is home to about 326,000 mostly Somali refugees by the end of the year, a committee that groups Kenya, Somalia and the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said. Kenya has said it wants to close the camp, which was once home to more than half a million refugees, citing security threats. Nairobi says the Somali Islamist group al Shabaab has used the camp as a recruiting ground to launch attacks on Kenya. But Kenya has been urged by the United States, the United Nations and others to ensure no one is forced to return to Somalia, which is still struggling to rebuild after decades of conflict and continues to face an Islamist insurgency. Reuters

Nigeria: 5,000 Rescued from Boko Haram in Borno
The Nigerian army says it has rescued more than 5,000 people who were being held hostage by Boko Haram following a clearing operation in four remote villages in the northeastern Borno state. “Our troops have decisively dealt with the Boko Haram terrorists, particularly hibernating in Sambisa forest, which used to be their stronghold,” Colonel Sani Kukasheka Usman, army spokesman, told Al Jazeera on Sunday. The soldiers evacuated the villages of Zangebe, Maiwa, Algaiti and Mainari, the army said in a statement. The fighting led to the killing of one civilian and six Boko Haram fighters, it added. The 5,000 rescued, mostly women and children, had been living under Boko Haram for more than six years, since the armed group launched its violent campaign in 2009. Al Jazeera

Australian Company Says Workers Freed after Nigeria Kidnap
An Australian mining company says seven of its workers who were kidnapped in south-eastern Nigeria last week have been freed. McMahon Holdings said three Australian workers were released along with a South African national, a New Zealander, and two Nigerians. Five of the men are injured, two of them seriously, the company said. The men were kidnapped when their convoy of cars was ambushed by gunmen near the city of Calabar on Wednesday. Their Nigerian driver was killed in the attack. Kidnap-for-ransom is a longstanding issue in southern Nigeria, where gangs target expatriate workers. BBC

‘New’ Oil Rebels Spring from the Old
The Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group that has been attacking Nigeria’s oil infrastructure since early this year, is anything but new, according to those familiar with the region. It was only a matter of time before militants returned to the swamps and creeks of the delta region, sources said. The “boys” behind years of violence surrendered their guns in 2009 when the Nigerian government introduced an amnesty programme for militants. Thousands stopped bombing oil pipelines to go overseas for skills training as divers, welders and boat builders using monthly stipends of 65 000 naira, which at the time was worth $400. Then last year, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that he was planning to wind down the programme as well as lucrative pipeline security contracts to save the cash-strapped government money. “That infuriated everybody,” said Silva Ofugara, chairperson of the Ekpan-Uvwie community development committee in the oil town of Warri in Delta state. People thought they could leave their lives as guerrilla fighters behind and focus on a new future. Mail and Guardian

Algeria: An Overlong Fight with Qaeda Offshoots
Algerian People’s National Armed Forces, (Algeria’s army) has accomplished several and sequential victories over extremist armed groups which have been fought since the wake of Algeria’s war against terrorism in 1993. With sporadic military operations, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) strongholds have been targeted—AQIM remains active in many of Algeria’s neighboring countries, facing a knock-out competition with ISIS, another terrorist organization seeking foothold in Algeria. The Algerian army announced that earlier this week, 18 terrorists have been reportedly killed in the Rouakeche area of the Medea Province and had revealed that it has found and confiscated artillery and ammunition from the field which were in the possession of AQIM affiliated militants. Medea had been terrorism-free for a decade now. However, tracking back in history, the province was considered as a no-army zone, given the tight grip extremist Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, led by Djamel Zitouni, had over it. Asharq Al Awsat

14 Killed in Clash over Land in Central Mali, Police Say
A police official says 14 people have been killed in a clash over land in central Mali. Moussa Ag Infahi, the police director-general, said Sunday that the fighting between residents of two villages in Djenne, in the Mopti region, occurred Saturday. He did not provide details on how the 14 were killed, though he noted the death toll was provisional and could change. It is the beginning of the planting season in the area, a period when land conflict is common. Central Mali has also been the scene of attacks by Islamic extremists, including one last month that killed five Togolese peacekeepers. The Mopti region is known to be a stronghold for the Macina Liberation Front, a militant group that has claimed responsibility for several attacks on the army. AP

Madagascar Stadium Blast Kills Two
A grenade explosion has killed at least two people during Madagascar’s national day celebrations in the capital Antananarivo, officials say. About 80 people were wounded in the blast at a stadium, general Anthony Rakotoarison told AFP news agency. President Hery Rajaonarimampianina said it was a “terrorist act”, and blamed it on “political divergences”. The situation remains fragile in the country, with supporters and opponents of the president at loggerheads. The blast happened during a free concert at the Mahamasina stadium. A military parade had been held there earlier. It was not immediately clear who or what was behind the explosion. BBC

African Migrants Force Their Way Into Spain’s Melilla Enclave
About 30 people forced their way into Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla on Sunday, a local government official said, one of few successful attempts to storm the border so far this year following increased patrols and security. Spain has two enclaves in Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla, and migrants from all over Africa regularly try to reach them, by climbing the triple barriers that separate them from Morocco or swimming along the coastline. After thousands of migrants crossed from Africa to the enclave in 2014 and 2015, Spain last year stepped up security at the Melilla border. Although there is no official data, just a few dozen are believed to have made it so far in 2016. Reuters

Congo Presidential Hopeful Given Prison Term in Absentia
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Democratic Republic of Congo presidential hopeful Moise Katumbi was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison and fined $1 million by a local court, his lawyer said. The court ruled Wednesday that Katumbi, 51, was responsible for an illegal real estate transaction, the details of which haven’t been published. Katumbi denies the charge, which he says is intended to derail his election bid. The wealthy politician and businessman ended months of speculation in May by declaring his intention to run for president in a vote due in November. The former governor of copper-rich Katanga province, where the court proceedings took place, was “arbitrarily sentenced,” his lawyer, Hubert Dumbi, said from Lubumbashi in southeastern Congo. By trying Katumbi in absentia, failing to call any witnesses and taking a decision in less than 48 hours, “the court has violated the law and not respected procedure,” Dumbi said.  Bloomberg

Who Should Pay for African Peacekeeping?
Since 2002, none of the five African Union peace operations have been financed through the AU’s Peace Fund, except for an allocation of $50 million for the African-led International Support Mission to Mali in 2013. The slogan of ‘African solutions for African problems’ falls a little flat when financing mainly comes from the European Union, individual European donors, and the United States. But an AU summit at the end of July in the Rwandan capital Kigali hopes to change all that. African leaders are going to try to agree on a roadmap of alternative financing for AU-led peace support operations. The meeting will explore innovative approaches – taxes on hotels, flights, text messaging, even a percentage of import duties – to self-generate 25 percent of peacekeeping costs by 2020: a significant step forward. The AU hopes that level of commitment would persuade the UN to cover the remaining 75 percent. IRIN

What Africa Thinks of Brexit
There are a number of ways in which Brexit could have an impact on African countries. First of all, it will have an impact on the global economy and trade and investment are likely to suffer from this. “You have to bear in mind that being a member of the EU, the UK is now and will still be for a period of time and the only trade arrangements the UK has with African countries are negociated through the EU,” Steve Barrow, head of G10 Research at Standard Advisory London, a leading financial markets and commodities bank, told RFI. “Once we leave the EU then those trade relationships and agreements will no longer exist, and they will have to be replaced by something, and obviously, if they’re replaced by something that is more advantagious to the UK and less to African countries, then that could be of detriment.” RFI

Sudan Completes Troop Pull out from Buffer Zone with South Sudan
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) on Sunday said it has completed the re-deployment of its troops along the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) with South Sudan. In September 2012, the two Sudan’s signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking and border trade, among others. On 14 October 2015, South Sudan’s defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk and his Sudanese counterpart Awad Ibn Ouf signed an agreement to operationalize the buffer zone between the two countries. But the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) meetings to decide the effective activation were adjourned several times due to the security situation in South Sudan. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan Facing Unrest over Delayed Salaries
South Sudan faces escalating unrest as workers down their tools demanding salary arrears. Civil servants have gone for four months without pay, prompting strikes involving judges, doctors, teachers, lawyers and university lecturers. The new transitional government is unable to pay salaries due to a donor-freeze on aid and reduction in oil production. Leader of the People’s Liberal Party Peter Mayen Majongdit said the situation could lead to an economic collapse that would result in serious security risks for the country. Mr Majongdit said that the leaders — President Salva Kiir and his deputy Dr Riek Machar — should appeal for international assistance to meet the basic needs of South Sudan’s citizens and government. The East African

The Prosecutor and the President
[…] Notions of human rights that transcend borders originate in antiquity, but the first international war-crimes tribunal, historians believe, did not take place until the 15th century. The first large and truly successful one was not until almost 500 years later, at Nuremberg. After the Cold War, human rights became a centerpiece of Western foreign policy, at least nominally, and in the 1990s, the United Nations Security Council set up criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Lebanon followed. In June 1998, diplomats from 160 countries gathered in Rome to discuss a permanent international criminal court. African diplomats were particularly intent. On top of the genocide in Rwanda, the 1990s had brought civil wars or campaigns of systematized violence to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia, Algeria, Burundi, Niger, Ivory Coast and Chad. Atrocities were committed by officials who also controlled their countries’ justice systems. For its Western proponents, an international criminal court was largely a matter of conscience. For Africans, it was a way to fight impunity. “We wanted ways of enforcing good government in Africa,” Betty Murungi, a lawyer in the Kenyan delegation in Rome, told me. The New York Times

Rwanda Under Review on Human Rights Policies
The United Nations wants Rwanda to implement at least 50 per cent of the human rights recommendations provided under the Universal Period Review (UPR) by November 2017. At a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in March, Rwanda reaffirmed its commitment to protecting and ensuring human rights. However, the speed at which the country is implementing 50 recommendations it accepted has come under scrutiny. “It is many months since Rwandan adopted these recommendations. By the midterm review in November 2017, Rwanda should at least have achieved a 50 per cent implementation,” Chris Mburu, a senior human-rights advisor to the UN, told The EastAfrican on June 23 on the sidelines of the UPR quarterly stakeholders meeting in Kigali. “With more focused political intent, they can reach 60 per cent by that time,” he added. Recommendation Number 4 — on the adoption of a national human rights action plan — has been implemented 75 per cent, according to Rwanda’s Ministry of Justice. The East African

Start-Ups For the State: Rwanda wants to Create a Culture of Entrepreneurship. But Can it Really Be Done by Decree?
[…] National unity has been a central theme during Rwanda’s recovery from the horrific 1994 genocide, and that same top-down, government-led approach to solving problems often extends to other areas as well. At the helm is President Paul Kagame, the long-time leader who effectively took charge after the genocide and has since developed a reputation as a strongman. He recently strengthened his hold on power by embracing — some say orchestrating — a constitutional amendment that could allow him to remain leader until 2034. Whatever this level of control might mean for democracy, it has enabled the government to rapidly propagate its entrepreneurship edict. In less than a decade, Rwanda has incorporated entrepreneurship into nearly all facets of its government — from the “Human Capital and Institutional Development Department” of the Rwandan Development Board to innovation camps put on by the Workforce Development Agency to international partnerships like the kLab incubator. While coordination between these agencies could still be improved, in some ways the push seems to be bearing fruit.  Foreign Policy

11 Babies Born with Zika-linked Microcephaly in Cape Verde
Cape Verde has recorded a number of 11 babies born with microcephaly, a rare birth defect linked to the Zika virus which reached the archipelago in October 2015. “The women became pregnant during the second half of 2015. They began to give birth and now we count 11 cases of babies with microcephaly in a cumulative total,” an epidemiologist from the Ministry of Health, Maria de Lourdes Monteiro said. Nine of these cases were reported in Praia and two on the island of Maio. The number includes a stillborn baby, Dr. Monteiro said on Thursday at a meeting on the impact of Zika organized by the UN in Praia. AFP on Africanews

Africa’s Charcoal Economy Is Cooking. The Trees Are Paying.
When Julien Andrianiana started selling charcoal 14 years ago, he was just one of a few dealers around. Most households in Toliara, a coastal city in southwestern Madagascar, still used firewood for cooking. As the city’s population doubled, business became so brisk that he managed to send two of his children to college, “thanks to charcoal.” It quickly became the product of choice in kitchens not only in Toliara, but also in other fast-growing cities across Africa. Charcoal — cleaner and easier to use than firewood, cheaper and more readily available than gas or electricity — has become one of the biggest engines of Africa’s informal economy. But it has also become one of the greatest threats to its environment. In Madagascar, an island nation off the eastern African coast and one of the world’s richest nations in biodiversity, the booming charcoal business is contributing to deforestation. It is expected to exacerbate the effects of climate change, which has already disrupted farming, fueled a migration to cities, and pushed many rural residents into the one thriving business left: charcoal. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones