Media Review for June 6, 2016

Boko Haram Attack in Southeast Niger Kills 32
Thirty soldiers from Niger and two from Nigeria were killed in a Boko Haram attack by “hundreds of assailants” on Friday on the southeastern town of Bosso close to the border with Nigeria, the Niger defence ministry said on Saturday. “The counter-offensive conducted early this morning helped to retake control of all the positions in the city of Bosso. The situation is under control”, the ministry added. “A sweep is ongoing in the area with the mobilisation of all land and air means”. Seven others from Niger and eight from Nigeria were injured in the attack, according to the ministry, which reported “several deaths” among the assailants. Bosso is part of the Diffa region, which is home to many refugees and internally displaced people who have sought to avoid Boko Haram violence elsewhere. The region has been targeted numerous times in attacks blamed on the militants. Reuters on IOL News

Troops Kill Top Boko Haram Commander, 18 Others In Borno – Army
The Nigerian Army said that its troops in Borno on Friday killed a top Boko Haram commander known as Ameer Abubakar Gana and 18 other fighters. A statement issued on Saturday by army spokesman, Col. Sani Usman said several arms, ammunitions, vehicles and other items were recovered during the operation. Usman said in the statement that the commander and his men were killed during a clearance operation on the terrorists’ stronghold at Chukungudu by troops from various army battalions with support from Air Force aerial surveillance. Usman said the operation was conducted following intelligence report about the activities of the insurgents in the area. “Following credible information on the presence of Boko Haram terrorists at Chukungudu, a carefully planned operation comprising troops of 22 Brigade Garrison and 153 Task Force Battalion as well as Nigerian Air Force Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaisance, was conducted. “While advancing to the location, the troops encountered Boko Haram terrorists’ ambush position at Muskari, Gilam and Hausasi. The Leadership

Darkness Looms Over Nigeria as Militant Attacks Cut Power
Nigerians may have to get used to living in the dark. Unless President Muhammadu Buhari, 73, can subdue armed militants attacking gas facilities that supply the nation’s power plants, his plans to remedy an electricity shortage he called a “national shame” in his inauguration speech a year ago will be stillborn. In March, Buhari said he would increase power generation by 2,000 megawatts this year and raise it by 2019 to 10,000 megawatts, double this year’s peak in early February. Then militants in the oil-rich Niger River delta started repeatedly blowing up gas pipelines, lowering electricity output to 1,000 megawatts on May 23. The scarcity has battered an economy already in crisis because of falling prices for its main export, oil, threatening a recession. As it is, Africa’s largest economy currently generates about a 30th of South Africa’s electricity production, for a population more than three times its size. Bloomberg

Nigeria Seizes Billions in Looted Cash and Assets
Nigeria has seized more than $10.3bn in looted cash and assets in the past year under President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign, the west African country’s information minister said. In addition, the government is expecting the repatriation of more than $330m stolen from the public treasury and stashed in banks abroad, Lai Mohammed said in a statement on Saturday. He said most of the money is in Switzerland. Mohammed did not identify former and current officials accused of looting public funds, though the government had promised to publish them. The minister did not say how much of the money has been returned voluntarily by former officials hoping for forgiveness or a plea bargain. Al Jazeera

U.S. Warns Islamist Militants Planning Attacks in South Africa
The United States warned its citizens on Saturday of possible attacks by Islamist militants on U.S. facilities or shopping malls in South Africa during the upcoming month of Ramadan, but the South African government said the country was safe. It was the second such warning in under a year from the embassy, which issued a similar alert in September in a country that has a significant expatriate and tourist population but has seldom been associated with Islamist militancy. The U.S. embassy said up-market shopping areas and malls in the commercial hub of Johannesburg and Cape Town, widely regarded as South Africa’s tourism capital, were the main target areas in the suspected planned attacks. “This information comes against the backdrop of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s public call for its adherents to carry out terrorist attacks globally during the upcoming month of Ramadan,” it said in a statement posted on its website.  Reuters

Morocco Takes Down ISIS Terror Ring
The Moroccan Central Bureau of Judicial Investigation (BCIJ) belonging to the national intelligence agency on Thursday announced dismantling an ISIS sleeper terrorist cell in each of the cities of Tétouan, Martil and Casablanca. The ring comprised six members. Primary details confirm that the members are closely affiliated with ISIS off-shoot terrorists who are seeking a new foothold in Morocco, falling into the ISIS larger expansionist strategy implemented across Syria and Iraq. According to a press release issued Thursday by the Moroccan Interior ministry, the captured ISIS members were planning to recruit local fighters who were to be sent to terror training camps before coming back to carry out attacks against soft targets and strategic sites in Morocco. The schemed plan was to send members of this cell to one of ISIS’ camps to undergo military trainings and return to Morocco in order to commit specific terrorist operations, said the statement. Ashark Al Awsat

Angola Leader Secures Economic Grip Naming Daughter as Oil Boss
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos tightened his family’s grip on sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest economy two years before he has indicated he’ll leave office by naming his billionaire daughter Isabel as chairwoman of the state oil company. The appointment “shows that President dos Santos doesn’t trust anyone else and moreover that he’s looking to have a dynastic succession,” Markus Weimer, an analyst for Horizon Client Access Inc., an energy investment advisory group, said Friday by phone from London. “It’s a very strong indication that Isabel will also be considered a possible leader when he retires in 2018.”   The Russian-educated dos Santos, Africa’s second-longest serving president, has said he will quit “active politics” in 2018 after leading the country since 1979. His son Jose Filomeno dos Santos already runs Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund. Angola ranked 163 out of 167 countries in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index and had the world’s highest rate of child mortality under the age of 5, the United Nations Children’s Fund said last year. Bloomberg

Political Violence Roils the Republic of Congo
President Denis Sassou-Nguesso’s new term in office, a continuation of his decades in power after a murky re-election, has gotten off to a rocky start since violence in the Republic of Congo has left his political opponents fearing for their lives. On April 4, the day that final election results were released, shooting broke out in the southern districts of the capital, Brazzaville, which are considered to be opposition strongholds. Military barracks and checkpoints and two police stations were targeted in a gun battle that lasted nearly two days, according to the International Federation for Human Rights. Human right groups have also reported that airstrikes and a ground offensive took place in Pool, another area known for harboring opposition figures, starting the next day. The violence comes after protests last year over the constitutional referendum that extended the eligibility of presidential candidates beyond age 70, which allowed Mr. Sassou-Nguesso, 72, to run again. Mr. Sassou-Nguesso, often considered one of Africa’s so-called presidents for life, has governed the country for 32 of the last 37 years. The New York Times

Libyan Brigades Capture Air Base from ISIS South of Sirte
Brigades aligned with Libya’s UN-backed government said on Saturday they had captured Ghardabiya air base from ISIS to the south of the militant group’s stronghold of Sirte. Spokesman Mohamed al-Gasri said the capture of the base, about 20 km (12 miles) from the centre of Sirte, was strategically significant since it cut off supply routes for ISIS and “trapped them further” within the city. Three fighters from the government-backed brigades were killed and around five wounded in Saturday’s fighting, he said. The brigades, mainly made up from fighters from the western city of Misrata, have driven ISIS back to the outskirts of Sirte from the west over the past three weeks. They counter-attacked after the militants had advanced towards  Misrata in early May. To the east, a separate force that controls oil terminals and is also loyal to the UN-backed government captured two small towns from ISIS earlier this week. Reuters on Al Arabiya

Libya’s UN-backed PM says victory over IS is near
The prime minister of Libya’s U.N.-backed government said in comments published Sunday that “total victory” against the Islamic State group in its main Libyan stronghold is near, as forces close in on the coastal city of Sirte. Fayez al-Serraj told France’s the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that his government needed international intelligence and technical assistance, but “not airstrikes.” The comments came a day after a spokesman for forces allied with his government said they captured a military base about 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Sirte. The spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed al-Gosry, said “we are officially in Sirte and only days away from controlling the center of the city.” AP on The Washington Post

Over 100 Refugees Drown after Boat Capsizes off Libya
The bodies of more than 100 people who drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea were found washed up on beaches near the Libyan city of Zuwarah, a Libyan navy spokesman said.  Colonel Ayoub Gassim told The Associated Press on Friday that at least 104 bodies have been pulled out of the waters near the western city, but that the expected death toll is likely to be higher since such boats usually carry up to 125 people. Most of the victims appeared to be from sub-Saharan Africa, though their bodies were decomposed and it was not clear when they had drowned. The bodies of two children were among those recovered. On Tuesday, the UN refugee agency said at least 880 people drowned over the past week following a series of shipwrecks as departures from the North African coast towards Italy surged. Al Jazeera

Egypt Formally Receives First Mistral Class Vessel
The Egyptian Navy officially took delivery of its first Mistral class landing helicopter dock vessel Gamal Abdel Nasser on Thursday from French shipbuilder DCNS. The flag transfer ceremony took place in the presence of Egyptian and French Navies’ Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Rabie and Admiral Rogel, Hervé Guillou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DCNS, and senior Egyptian and French officials at Saint Nazaire in France, including Egyptian defence minister General Sedki Sobhi.  DCNS said the Gamal Abdel Nasser will leave Saint-Nazaire in the next few days along with associated support vessels, namely two new-generation landing craft (CTM NG) and one EDAR fast amphibious landing craft.  DefenceWeb

West Africa Anti-terror Force Tops Summit Agenda
West Africa should “think harder” about developing a new anti-terror force, a top regional official said Saturday, as Niger announced the latest deaths among its troops battling Boko Haram jihadists. Over the past year West Africa has suffered terror attacks on nations previously untouched by jihadists, as well as confronting an Islamist insurgency that began in northeast Nigeria but has spread to several neighbouring countries. That meant greater intelligence sharing and military co-operation is required, said the incoming head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) commission, which implements policy decisions agreed by its 15 members. Times Live

African Union Troops in Somalia Arrested for Selling Military Supplies
Five soldiers with the African Union mission in Somalia (Amisom) and 10 Somalis have been arrested for selling military equipment, police say. They were found with improvised detonators, fuel, sandbags and empty ammunition boxes, reports the BBC Ibrahim Aden in the capital, Mogadishu. Amisom has not commented beyond saying it is trying to confirm the arrests. The mission is fighting alongside Somali government forces against al-Shabab Islamist militants.  BBC

Terror Verdict Renews Focus on Somali-American Recruitment
The top law enforcement officer in Minnesota says the recent conviction of three Somali American men on terrorism charges should be a “wakeup call” for some members of the local ethnic Somali community whom he says continue to live in “denial” that community members could be targeted by Islamic State (IS) recruiters. U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger was speaking after a court in Minnesota found three men guilty of conspiracy to provide material support to the IS group and conspiracy to commit murder abroad. Luger’s office charged ten men in total, one of whom has already traveled to Syria and is fighting alongside IS. Six other men pled guilty, while three men—Mohamed Farah, Guled Omar and Abdirahman Daud—all in their early 20s, decided to stand trial. VOA

S Sudan Resumes Talks with Sudan
South Sudan resumed talks with Sudan on Sunday on a raft of thorny issues, including borders and oil revenues, still outstanding from its 2011 secession. The south’s foreign affairs, defence, interior and oil ministers travelled to Khartoum for the talks…the first since a unity government was formed in Juba last month in a bid to end its devastating civil war. “There are some difficulties in our relations,” South Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor acknowledged at a joint media conference with his Sudanese counterpart Ibrahim Ghandour. “I delivered a message from our President Salva Kiir to President (Omar) al-Bashir calling for fast resolution of bilateral issues.” The south’s independence in 2011 left a raft of issues unresolved, including the status of the Khartoum-occupied border district of Abyei, which had been supposed to hold a plebiscite on its future, and the payments Juba should make for the use of an oil export pipeline through Sudan. News 24

Kenya Police ‘Ready to Use Lethal Force’ Against Protesters
Nairobi’s police chief has warned opposition supporters not to take part in Monday’s protest in the Kenyan capital “if you value your life”. Japheth Koome said police were prepared to use lethal force if necessary. Despite the warning, demonstrations have gone ahead in Nairobi and the western city of Kisumu. The opposition has been protesting on Mondays in recent weeks about the make up of the electoral commission, which it says is biased.  BBC

Rwanda’s Opposition Pushes for Return of Exiled King
Debate on whether the exiled last King of Rwanda should return home has divided opinion, with opposition groups urging the government to bring back the elderly King Kigeli Ndahindurwa V. The government however says that King Kigeli is free to return like any other Rwandan living in exile, dismissing the argument that he can play a reconciliatory role. The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda last week rekindled the debate by urging the government to “do whatever is possible” and help bring back King Kigeli, who is turning 80 this month, and accord him the perks of a former head of state. King Kigeli, a Tutsi and the last monarch of Rwanda, was overthrown in 1961 by a Hutu rebellion spurred on by the Belgian colonialists and currently lives in Virginia in the US. The Rwandan Greens insist that the exiled king be assisted to return to his country and be allowed to play a role in unity and reconciliation of the Rwandan people. The East African

Military Deals Mark South Korea, Turkey Leaders’ Visits
Geopolitics, defence imports, security and the region’s oil and gas findings were at the centre of last week’s visits to the region by the presidents of South Korea and Turkey, and the United Kingdom’s foreign affairs minister. Uganda was the greatest beneficiary: The country signed defence agreements with South Korea and Turkey. South Korean President Park Geun-hye was on a diplomatic charm offensive in a bid to win over Uganda and Ethiopia into military co-operation. She was also seeking to deflate North Korea’s arms business and military co-operation with the region; North Korea has relied on the business for foreign currency. Just two days after President Park’s visit, Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Kampala, Nairobi and Mogadishu, where trade and defence agreements were signed. In Uganda, President Park met senior Ugandan military officers, and her Vice Defence Minister, Hwang In-moo, led defence talks with officials of Uganda and Ethiopia. The talks culminated in agreements for an exchange programme between military personnel. The East African

Magufuli’s Method in ‘Madness’
Seven months after President John Magufuli ascended into the highest office of the land uncertainty persists over what his style portends for the Tanzania’s future.His efforts to sweep out wasteful government spending, root out corruption and discipline lazy public servants seem unfazed. During the period he has sacked dozens of senior public officials for things like refusing receiving government’s salary. But he actually seems committed to ensuring Tanzania moves forward in as far as government’s delivery of social services is concerned and has helped to build the image of a rare kind of a politician – the one who walks the talk. And his war on corruption and embezzlement has endeared him to many Tanzanians, especially the poor folk who regard him as the new crusader. The Citizen

U.S. Bans Commercial Trade of African Elephant Ivory
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced a near-total ban on the commercial trade of African elephant ivory on Thursday. Under current guidelines, ivory can be sold if it was brought into the United States before it was listed as endangered or if the elephant died of natural causes, as long as there is documentation. The new rules will restrict those sales to genuine antiques, like ivory statues, artwork or chiseled chess pieces, that have been lawfully imported, as well as items like musical instruments that were made using less than 200 grams of ivory. The new rules aim to curb the rampant slaughter of the elephant, an endangered species, which experts say accounts for 96 deaths a day. They also intend to severely restrict the African ivory market in the United States, the world’s second-largest consumer of illegally poached ivory. “The people of the United States will be speaking loudly,” said Daniel M. Ashe, director of the Fish and Wildlife Service, “and saying we value living elephants in the wild more than we value the creation and the trade of trinkets made from ivory.” The New York Times

Fatou Bensouda, the Woman who Hunts Tyrants
Bensouda is now 55, and has been the ICC’s most senior prosecutor since 2012, a decade after the court was established, when she was elected to replace the post’s inaugural holder, Luis Moreno Ocampo. She became, at a stroke, one of the most powerful African (or Muslim) women in the world. But to understand what Bensouda can do, it is important first to clarify what she has not done. It was not, for instance, the international criminal court that put the former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and more than 100 others on trial for crimes in the former Yugoslavia, and earlier this year convicted Radovan Karadzic of war crimes and genocide. That was the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), an ad hoc body established in 1991 that to date has seen more than 80 of that conflict’s bloodiest criminals convicted and sentenced. A similar international tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), set up three years later, convicted 61 people of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. The Guardian

Swiss Bankers Stirred, But Not Shaken, Into Returning Africa’s Stolen Loot
[…] Switzerland’s success in recovering and returning $800-million, which the notoriously corrupt Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha stashed away in Swiss bank accounts during the 1990s. Zellweger said after Abacha’s death in 1998, the new Nigerian government gave Switzerland full legal co-operation in persuading its courts to unfreeze Abacha’s accounts. By contrast, the two Kabila administrations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had given Switzerland zero co-operation in recovering Mobutu Sese Seko’s millions. The reason was that Mobutu’s eldest son—and heir—François-Joseph Mobutu Nzanga Ngbangawe had become deputy prime minister. He blocked the release of the money to the DRC state because he would get it himself. Switzerland was eventually legally bound to unfreeze the funds to him, Zellweger said – and to add insult to injury, the DRC government then publicly denounced it for returning the money to the Mobutu family. So, Zellweger concluded that preventing money being stolen in the first place was more important than trying to recover it afterwards. Greater transparency and observance of the rule of law were needed.  Daily Maverick