Media Review for June 8, 2016

U.N. to Investigate Peacekeepers Reported of Killing Women and Children in Africa
The peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic have been tainted by allegations that troops from several countries sexually abused children and adults. But on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch released a report providing new evidence that soldiers from the Republic of Congo had killed civilians. In the report, Human Rights Watch said it had uncovered new evidence that Congolese soldiers killed more than a dozen people, including women and children, while serving as peacekeepers from December 2013 to June 2015. The report is the latest in a series of allegations against peacekeepers, who have been accused of rampant sexual abuse, including against more than 100 girls in a single prefecture in the Central African Republic. The United Nations has said it is investigating the sex allegations, which it called “sickening.” The Central African Republic was torn by sectarian strife in 2013 after the ouster of President François Bozizé. Thousands of people were killed, and nearly a quarter of the population was displaced. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, a prime minister under Mr. Bozizé, was elected president this year. The New York Times

Boko Haram Attacks in Niger Force 50,000 People to Flee
About 50,000 people have fled a town in Niger’s troubled south-east after deadly attacks by Boko Haram insurgents, the UN said on Tuesday. The attacks began on Friday against a military post in Bosso, in the Diffa region, killing 26 soldiers including two from neighbouring Nigeria. “An estimated 50,000 people or so fled,” Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the United Nations high commission for refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva. Fifty-five insurgents from the Nigeria-based Islamist group were killed and many were injured, according to authorities. Edwards said most of the people fleeing the violence walked westwards to Toumour, about 18 miles (30km) west of Bosso. “Many people are reportedly traumatised and worried about their safety. People are sleeping in the open and urgently need shelter and other assistance.”  The Guardian

Nigeria Plans Talks With Militants, Oil Minister Says
Nigeria will start a dialogue with the Niger Delta Avengers militant group, which has been claiming a string of attacks, its oil minister said. President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed a team led by the national security adviser “to begin the process of a very intensive dialogue with those caught in the middle of this,” Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said late Monday. “We are making contacts with everybody who is involved, the ones that we can identify, through them, the ones that we can’t identify so that there is a lot more inclusiveness in this dialogue,” he said. “Our prayer is that this works so that we resort to dialogue rather than use of force.” Kachikwu said the military would scale back its campaign to hunt down the militants in the southern region, which produces much of Nigeria’s oil output. VOA

Who Are the Militants Attacking Nigeria’s Oil Industry? Q & A
Attacks on pipelines in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger River delta region have slashed crude output to the lowest level in 27 years and shut all but four of the country’s 23 gas-powered generators, leaving much of the West African nation without electricity. A group calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers has claimed responsibility. Here’s what the conflict is about: Bloomberg

Nigeria’s Buhari ‘Broke Promise to End Medical Tourism’
A leading Nigerian doctor has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of reneging on a promise to end “medical tourism” by seeking treatment in the UK. Nigerians spent $1bn (£690m) on foreign medical trips in 2013, most of which was unnecessary, said Dr Osahon Enabulele. Nigerian politicians were mostly treated by Nigerian doctors in the UK, he added. Mr Buhari flew to London on Monday to be treated for an ear infection. It is unclear where the 73-year-old would be treated for what his office described as a “persistent” infection. BBC

UK Tables Draft UN Resolution to Enforce Libya Arms Embargo
Britain has circulated a draft UN resolution that would authorise the EU naval force in the Mediterranean to intercept ships suspected of smuggling arms in waters off Libya, in what would be a new attempt to tighten the noose around Islamic State in its stronghold of Sirte. Forces loyal to the UN-backed government in Tripoli claim to be at the gates of Sirte, and as many as 6,000 people have fled the city in anticipation of a battle to oust Isis from the town. The resolution to enforce the existing arms embargo on Libya is likely to be voted upon next week if Russian concerns can be overcome. The enforcement is partly necessary because the UN wants to send selected arms to the government of national accord (GNA). However, a partial lifting of the arms embargo increases the threat of arms reaching either Isis or militias that do not recognise the authority of the GNA. The Guardian

Rwanda, South Africa Mending Relations
Rwanda says diplomatic relations with South Africa are on course to fully normalise, but there are still few signs of the progress. Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo on Tuesday while speaking to journalists said the two countries are working on increasing trade between Kigali and Pretoria. “Normalisation is a process and includes a number of things. A number of commercial activities between the two countries are ongoing. We have very good trade and investment relations. “Many South African companies are operating in Rwanda and RwandAir flies to Johannesburg daily. South African officials have been coming to (Rwanda) including a large delegation led by the (South Africa’s) deputy president which came for the World Economic Forum for Africa,” Ms Mushikiwabo said. The East African

US Wants Sanctions on Congo Leaders, Europe Not So Sure
Concerned over Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s apparent attempts to cling to power, United States officials are pushing for sanctions against his inner circle but running into opposition from European powers wary of moving too quickly. Kabila is ineligible to stand in Democratic Republic of Congo’s next election due in November, after serving two elected terms. Opponents accuse him of plotting to hold onto power by delaying the poll or even changing the constitution to remove the term limit, as several African leaders have done. His government says it is unlikely to be able to organise the vote on time, and the electoral commission has said the delay could last 16 months. Senior Kabila ally Henri Mova Sakani on Saturday raised the possibility of a constitutional referendum on the number of terms he can serve. Any such move risks triggering further violence in Congo, which has never had a peaceful transition of power. Donors worry about a repeat of the regional conflict in eastern Congo between 1996 and 2003, when millions of people died and more than a half-dozen countries were sucked into the fighting. The East African

Hunting for Humans: Malawian Albinos Murdered for Their Bones
For Agness Jonathan, every day is a gamble with her children’s lives. Simple questions like whether they should go to school carry an unimaginable risk of death and dismemberment to satisfy a barbaric demand. This is because her daughters are living with albinism, a genetic condition resulting in little or no pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. And this makes them a target. It is children like Agness’ who, according to a newly released Amnesty International report, are being hunted like animals in Malawi where their bones are sold in the belief the body parts bring wealth, happiness and good luck. The report chronicles the day-to-day lives of those living with the condition, and details the extent of a recent surge in killings of albinos living in the landlocked country in southern Africa. CNN

Ex Tanzania Leader in Fresh Bid to End Burundi Strife
A former Tanzanian president mediating talks to end Burundi’s deadly crisis will meet the opposition this weekend in a bid to end the deadlock, diplomatic and opposition sources said Tuesday. Benjamin Mkapa is to hold talks in Brussels with members of CNARED, which groups almost all opposition parties, they said. “We welcome the fact that the mediator will meet CNARED members in Brussels on Friday and Saturday,” the group’s spokesman Pancrace Cimpaye told AFP from Brussels. Western and African diplomats confirmed that Mkapa would meet with opposition figures this week. Hundreds of people have been killed and a quarter of a million others have fled Burundi since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s controversial decision in April 2015 to run for a third term, a vote he won amid opposition boycotts in July. Times Live

Museveni Drops 35 ministers, Appoints Wife to Head Key Ministry
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday evening reshuffled his cabinet, axing 35 ministers and appointing his wife, Janet, as education minister. Janet is increasingly seen as her husband’s likely successor. Museveni, who in February won a disputed electoral victory has been in power for 30 years and has appointed family members to key posts in what observers believe is laying the groundwork for a relative to take after him. The president’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba was promoted to be a major general in the army in contentious circumstances, but recently he said he would not seek the presidency. Before her latest posting, Janet was the Minister for Karamoja Affairs. Opposition politicians are critical about Museveni’s choice to head the education ministry, which is the second most funded after the Defence ministry. The Africa Report

UN Whistleblower in CAR Sex Abuse Case Resigns
A whistleblower in the United Nations’ human rights office has resigned, two years after leaking information to French officials about a U.N. investigation of accusations that French soldiers sexually abused children in Central African Republic. Rights office spokesman Rupert Colville said Tuesday that Anders Kompass resigned “several weeks ago” though the resignation won’t take effect before August. The U.N. internal justice system in January cleared Kompass, a Swede who was the operations director of the rights office, over the leaks in 2014 about accusations that French soldiers had abused some children they were sent to protect in CAR. Their deployment was independent of the United Nations. French authorities say they are investigating the allegations and have vowed to punish anyone found responsible. AP on Stars and Stripes

Carrot and Stick: EU Refugee Policy in Africa
“We have to start somewhere,” argues EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Frederica Mogherini before the European Parliament. “We will not turn things on their head with our proposal, but … there is no other way to change African societies than to work with them.” Behind this call for a new kind of cooperation between European, Middle Eastern and African countries on refugee policy, stands pure political necessity: “Today, tens of thousands of people are in Libya looking for a way to get to Europe,” states a new European Commission paper. Brussels knows that EU member states continue to be at odds with one another, and that they have little desire to take in more refugees. Deutsche Welle

People-smuggling ‘Kingpin’ Mered Medhanie Extradited to Italy
An Eritrean man believed to be at the heart of the operation to smuggle migrants from Africa to Europe has been extradited to Italy, prosecutors say. Mered Medhanie, known as The General, was held in Sudan in May and was flown to Rome on Tuesday. Britain’s National Crime Agency said he is thought to have arranged the transit of a boat that sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa in October 2013. At least 359 migrants died when the boat, travelling from Libya, capsized. BBC

Burkina Orders Corruption-accused ex-PM to Return from Canada
Burkina Faso President Roch Marc Christian Kabore has ordered former prime minister Isaac Zida to return to the country where he is accused of corruption. Kabore warned Zida — a former military officer who took power after president Blaise Compaore was ousted by a popular uprising in October 2014 — that he may consider his absence from the country as “desertion.” After leaving government last year, Zida went to Canada to be with his family who moved there when he was still in office. Daily Mail

Kenya Bans ‘Unlawful’ Demonstrations
A day after deadly protests rocked several areas of Kenya, government security officials issued a decree on Tuesday banning all “unlawful demonstrations.”Joseph Nkaisserry, Kenya’s interior minister, said protesters “armed with stones, machetes and other crude weapons” had caused “heightened political tension, disruption of peace and loss of livelihoods affecting thousands of ordinary Kenyans.” As a result, Mr. Nkaisserry warned, “from today, the Government prohibits all unlawful demonstrations in the country.”What exactly “unlawful” means and how this decree differs from what the government already had the right to do remained unclear. Kenya’s opposition leaders have been organizing regular protests on Mondays, to many Kenyans’ chagrin. The opposition leaders immediately rejected the ban as unconstitutional. The New York Times

Gabon Election to Be Held Aug 27
Gabon will hold an election for president on Aug. 27, election authorities said on Tuesday, in which President Ali Bongo, whose Gabonese Democratic Party has a firm grip on power, was expected to secure a second seven-year term in power. Bongo has sought to diversify the oil producer’s economy and boost public investment, but some of his programmes have been hampered by the slump in commodities prices and he has faced opposition from many quarters. Some critics say Bongo is ineligible to run, arguing he was adopted and born in a different country. After he was declared winner in 2009, opposition supporters clashed with security forces. His supporters say the allegations about his nationality are spurious. Reuters

Angolan Separatist Rebel Leader dies In Exile in France
The leader of a rebel movement seeking independence for Angola’s main oil region has died in exile in France, the group said in a statement seen by Reuters on Tuesday. The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) said Nzita Henriques Tiago, 88, would be buried in France on Friday as he only wanted his body taken back to Cabinda if it was an independent state. It did not say exactly when Tiago, who was president and co-founder of FLEC, died. FLEC fought a low-level insurgency for four decades in the thin enclave sandwiched between Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo which accounts for around half of Angola’s oil output. Reuters

Algeria’s Chief of Staff Urges High Alert to Confront Terrorist Plots
Algiers-Algeria’s Chief of Staff Admiral Ahmed Gaid Saleh has urged officers and troops stationed in the country’s biggest military zone to go on high alert to avert a possible retaliation by extremist organizations to the killing of 60 of their members in ambushes carried out by the army in the past months. Algeria fears that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) would carry out attacks after suffering huge losses in army operations. Saleh said during a meeting he chaired in Nahiya al-Askariya al-Oula, which lies 50 kilometers south of the capital, that the huge results achieved in the battlefield in the fight against terrorism are due to the extensive efforts exerted by the people and the nation. The military has been actively deployed on the border with Mali and Libya and has arrested several extremists and arms smugglers, and thwarted attempts to smuggle weapons to the country. Asharq Al Awsat

Mauritania: President Ould Abdel Aziz Denies any Attempt to Stay in Power
The Mauritanian leader last week indicated he never planned to change the constitution to be able to run again for elections at the end of his current mandate coming to end in 2019. Tension has risen since March between the opposition and the ruling party after some ministers and lawmakers suggested constitutional amendments so that President Ould Abdel Aziz runs again for the presidential elections in 2019. Speaking in an interview with some international media, President Aziz denied he was harboring any such a wish. “I have never at any moment said that I would modify the constitution to run again. I took two oaths to respect it. They are stronger than what I will say in the future,” he said. North Africa Post

Egypt Sentences Several to Death Over Tribal Clashes
An Egyptian court has sentenced 25 men to death on Tuesday for taking part in tribal clashes two years ago that left 28 dead, court officials said. Of 164 people on trial, 21 received life sentences, equivalent to 25 years, over the deadly clashes in the southern province of Aswan. Tribal vendettas are common in Egypt’s poor, rural south, but the clashes over two days in early April 2014 were the deadliest in several years, according to police. Long-standing rivalry between the Bani Hilal, an Arab tribe, and the Dabudiya, a Nubian family, flared after a man from one camp sexually harassed a woman from the other. The two sides had sought to dampen tensions with a reconciliation meeting, but it degenerated into a firefight, leaving three Bani Hilal members dead. News 24

Somalia’s Uphill Battle to Criminalize Sexual Violence
After Maryam was gang-raped in a camp for displaced people in 2012, she tried to report it to the police. She was still bleeding heavily when she arrived at the station, but instead of assisting the pregnant mother of six, the officers demanded that she go home and clean herself up. But first, they made her scrub her blood off the floor. She never filed an official report, lost her baby, and was raped again five months later. For nearly two years, a law that would ensure a measure of justice for survivors of sexual violence like Maryam, whose ordeal was recorded in a 2014 report by Human Rights Watch, has been wending its way through the Somali Parliament. The Sexual Offenses Bill, which would be the country’s first comprehensive law on sexual violence, still faces enormous impediments to passage and even greater impediments to implementation. But on May 17, it was endorsed by a group of high-level Somali officials, representatives from donor countries, and U.N. and African Union diplomats in what advocates described as an important step toward getting the draft law on the books. Foreign Policy



Photo: Adam Jones