Media Review for May 23, 2016

Second Nigerian Girl to Flee Boko Haram ‘Is Not from Chibok’
A second Nigerian girl who escaped from Boko Haram militants and was kidnapped from her village is not one of the 218 secondary school students missing from the 2014 mass abduction. An army spokesman said on Thursday that Serah Luka was the second of the Chibok girls, who were snatched from their secondary school by masked Boko Haram fighters two years ago, to be “rescued” by Nigerian forces in the past three days. But leaders of the campaign to free the schoolgirls said the military did not check with the parents’ group before making the announcement, and that Luka, who the army had said was the daughter of a pastor, was not on the list. Yakubu Nkeki, the head of the Chibok abducted girls’ parent group, said that although there were two girls with the surname Luka on the list, neither of them were Serah. The Guardian

Driven Dack and Desperate, Boko Haram Heaps Misery on Niger
When Boko Haram attacked Falmaya Baba Gama’s village last year in northeast Nigeria, executing a dozen men and burning down the market, thousands of people fled across the border into Niger, with some forced to leave behind their children amid the chaos. The 30-year-old and her seven children arrived safely in the region of Diffa, but almost one year on, they are hungry, scared of further violence and haunted by the bloodshed they witnessed. “Even now, the children dream about Boko Haram and cry,” she said outside a thatched hut, held together with sticks and plastic sheets, in Assaga – a ramshackle site for the displaced located just a few miles from Niger’s border with Nigeria. Gama is one of some 240,000 uprooted people living in Diffa, a sweeping tract of desert in southeast Niger sparsely populated with isolated villages and dotted with shrubs and trees. Many of the displaced live in makeshift huts alongside the country’s main highway, having been driven from their homes in northeast Nigeria and southeast Niger by Boko Haram violence. Reuters

US in Dilemma over What Action to Take Against Museveni
The US seems conflicted about what action to take against President Yoweri Museveni, whose governance record has been criticised by senior Washington officials. The EastAfrican has learnt from a well-placed source within the Ugandan government that President Museveni is still looked upon favourably within the Pentagon as a dependable ally and Kampala as an assured gateway to the region. As such, for all his shortcomings, Washington — and by extension the West — is still ready to do business with him for some time to come. “American interests aren’t necessarily defined by the State Department or the Oval Office. Defence has a lot to say. So, from the Pentagon, you are likely to get a completely different perspective than you would get from the Oval Office,” said the source. President Museveni has not enjoyed much warmth from the administration of Barack Obama, who has lost no opportunity to call out long-serving African leaders. The East African

Can Talks Lead to Peace in Burundi?
Burundian leaders have successfully negotiated national crises in Arusha, Tanzania twice since 2000. Yet, now they’re back there again, hoping to resolve this latest phase of instability. Government and opposition leaders arrived in Arusha on Saturday for talks. But the main opposition group has not been invited. And that could mean the peace negotiations fail before they even begin. Meanwhile, the fighting on the ground is continuing. Rights groups say targeted assassinations, torture and disappearances have become commonplace. Hundreds of people have been killed and a quarter of a million have fled from the country since April of last year. Al Jazeera

Ghana Regulatory Commission Frowns on Arms Proliferation Ahead of Polls
Ghana’s Small Arms Commission – a gun regulatory institution– plans to launch a media sensitization initiative to educate Ghanaians to be vigilant, after expressing concern about a possible surge in the stockpiling of weapons in the run up to the November general election. Jones Applerh, the executive director of the commission, said his organization is working closely with other security agencies, including the police and immigration service, in an effort to prevent politically motivated arms trafficking. He said some countries that signed the Economic Community of West African states’ [ECOWAS] convention to collaborate with other countries in the region, have so far failed to do so, which he said has contributed to the proliferation of arms. The accord requires guns to be registered and monitored and the information shared in an effort to collaborate with neighboring countries in the fight against terrorism. VOA

UN Says Sudan Has “de Facto Expelled” Humanitarian Official
The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in Sudan Sunday said the Sudanese authorities declined to renew a permit for the head the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), saying he was being effectively expelled from the country. HCT is the highest-level decision-making forum of the Inter-Agency Steering Committee (IASC) structures in Sudan and is the primary mechanism for coordination among UN agencies and NGOs. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, HCT expressed “shock and disappointment at the de facto expulsion by the Sudanese government of one of its senior UN officials, the head of OCHA Ivo Freijsen”. Sudan Tribune

Six Killed in Suspected Boko Haram Violence in Southern Niger
At least six civilians died and another seven were injured in an attack reportedly carried out by Boko Haram jihadists in Niger, the army said on Friday. The Nigeria-based terrorists have been known to launch cross-border raids in their attempt to create a state based on Islamist Sharia law. The attack occurred on Thursday evening near the southeastern town of Bosso, close to the Nigerian frontier, authorities confirmed. Boko Haram fighters struck the village of Yebi after dark, setting fires at the market and at ten private homes. They arrived on foot and horseback and made off with vehicles after the carnage. “Search operations are ongoing in the area to neutralise these terrorists,” said an army statement broadcast on state TV and radio. The Defense Ministry added that the victims had either been shot or burned alive before the area was evacuated. Deutsche Welle

DR Congo Opposition Leader Katumbi Flies to SA for Medical Care
Moise Katumbi, the opposition presidential hopeful in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has flown to South Africa for medical treatment, his lawyer says, a day after authorities issued an arrest warrant for him. He was accused of hiring foreign mercenaries in an alleged plot against the state, which he denies. Mr Katumbi’s lawyer said he had been in hospital since police had fired tear gas during a protest. Elections are due in November. Prosecutors allowed him to travel for treatment on condition that he returned to face the criminal charges against him. Lawyer Georges Kapiamba said Mr Katumbi was taken to hospital in Lubumbashi, after police fired tear gas at him and his supporters. BBC

Burkina Faso Holds First Local Elections in Transition
Burkina Faso held local elections Sunday seen as a key step in the country’s transition to democracy from the authoritarian rule of Blaise Compaore. Some 24,000 members of the security forces were on duty for voting day, which had initially been scheduled for January 31 but was postponed following the January 15 jihadist attacks that killed 30 people in Ouagadougou. Some 5.5 million people are eligible to cast ballots to elect around 20,000 municipal councillors, who will then choose mayors for 368 towns. They are the first local elections in the impoverished West African country since president Compaore was overthrown in a popular uprising in October 2014 after ruling the country with an iron fist for 27 years. The subsequent interim government dissolved all municipal councils set up under Compaore and replaced the mayors with non-elected prefects. Presidential elections last November were won by Roch Marc Christian Kabore, a leading figure in Compaore’s ouster who had held a number of posts under the former president before falling out with him. AFP on Al Arabiya

Zika Virus Strain ‘Imported from the Americas’ to Africa
The Zika virus strain responsible for the outbreaks in Brazil has been detected in Africa for the first time, the World Health Organization says. The WHO said it was concerned that the latest strain was spreading and was “on the doorstep of Africa”. It is currently circulating in Cape Verde, an archipelago off the north west coast of Africa. Zika has been linked to neurological disorders including babies being born with small brains. Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said: “This information will help African countries to re-evaluate their level of risk and adapt and increase their levels of preparedness.” BBC

Migrant Crisis: Libya Intercepts Boats Carrying 850 People
Libyan coastguards say they intercepted boats carrying 850 migrants trying to reach Europe on Sunday. A spokesman said the migrants from various African countries – including 79 women, 11 of them pregnant – were found in seven inflatable boats near Sabratha, west of the capital Tripoli. More than 30,000 migrants have already crossed from Libya to Italy this year. It comes as the UN’s first World Humanitarian Summit is due to open in Istanbul. Heads of state, aid agencies and others will discuss the financial response to crises and how better to distribute aid to those who most need it.  BBC

Refugee Crisis: Its About the Money and the Global Politics
The Somali refugee crisis has turned into a high stakes game of money and global politics as the world responds to Kenya’s threat to expel 600,000 displaced people. On Friday, following a high-level meeting between Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and a United Nations Security Council delegation, a lull in the storm appeared with the announcement that Kenya was “open for discussion” on the issue. Abdelatif Aboulata, the chairman of the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee, who is also Egypt’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and Mathew Rycroft, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations told journalists that Kenya’s position at the meeting was that the refugee problem required shared responsibility among partner organisations. The East African

Hiking the ‘Rat Tracks,’ Hunting for al-Shabab
The men who form Kenya’s first line of defense against the Somali militant group al-Shabab wear sneakers or rubber tire sandals, bucket hats, and mismatched, hand-me-down fatigues. They are Kenya Police Reservists, also known as Home Guards. But they’re also goat herders, retired civil servants, and casually employed locals who are paid a meager $90 monthly stipend for their service. Anyone but active police and military professionals, really. Many of them hold their battered 1980s service rifles awkwardly, as if they’re not quite sure how to handle them. This ragtag bunch of reservists has become a cornerstone of Kenya’s new security strategy for its restive northeast, put in place after the devastating al-Shabab attack on Garissa University College last year that left 148 people dead. Overseen by Mahmoud Saleh, a native of the northeast who was recalled from the diplomatic corps, the new strategy aims to professionalize these volunteer militias — and leverage their superior local knowledge to patrol Kenya’s wild and largely unprotected border with Somalia. Foreign Policy

U.N., Western Donors Urge Somalia to Speed up Vote Process
The U.N. Security Council and Western donors have urged Somalia’s parliament to speed up approval of new election rules to ensure an August vote is held on time, saying delays put recovery from conflict at risk. Somalia, slowly rebuilding after decades of violence and still battling an Islamist insurgency, is due to elect a new parliament, whose members will in turn pick the president. “The United States is increasingly concerned about delays in the 2016 Somali electoral process,” the U.S. State Department said on Friday, adding the “legitimacy of Somali federal institutions” depended on a transparent and timely transition. It urged parliament “to act swiftly” to enact the new rules. The process to be approved by the outgoing parliament falls short of one-person-one-vote, which diplomats say would be too tough to stage because of the insurgency. But the process will expand the number of people picking the lawmakers. In 2012, just 135 elders selected members of the lower house. Under the new rules, 13,750 people from across federal states will chose 275 members of the lower house. A new 54-seat upper house will also be created to represent the states. Reuters

Why the UN Needs a “Peace Industrial Complex”
In a world where annual defence spending is over 1.6 trillion dollars and the UN Peacebuilding Fund receives less than 700 million dollars, it would seem that the military industrial complex is unwaveringly entrenched. This imbalance in global priorities is not easily overcome, but that is exactly what a high-level meeting on Peace and Security held here last week aimed to do. “We need to build a peace industrial complex,” said Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN and Chair of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, an advisory body that supports efforts to prevent conflicts around the world. Building this “complex” would mean increasing political commitments, ensuring predictable financing, and strengthening international partnerships for peace operations targeting the roots of conflicts. Since 2000, the UN has sought to reform the way it conducts peace operations, and a renewed focus on preventive action lies at the heart of its mandate. One of the main aspects of this effort was the creation of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, and its associated Peacebuilding Fund. These bodies are different from the larger UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations in that they try to identify and financially support targeted projects to prevent conflict, rather than reacting to existing crises. IPS

The Simple Genius of Zimbabwe’s #ThisFlag Protest, and the Man Who Started It
The day that he lost it, the day that he’d finally had enough, Pastor Evan Mawarire was sitting at his desk at his office in Harare. The 39-year-old Zimbabwean is a professional master of ceremonies – his church doesn’t pay him a salary – but work has been scarce in this tough economic climate, with little sign of things getting any better. So bad, in fact, that he didn’t know if he would be able to keep his children in school. “I’ll be honest with you, the day it happened was a really tough day for me. I was thinking of ways I could get more money for school fees, or I could borrow money, but it just wasn’t happening. I was packing to go home,” said Mawarire, in an in-depth telephone interview with the Daily Maverick. And then something snapped. After decades of struggling to make a living and keep his family safe, of quietly disappearing into the background like upstanding citizens are expected to by the current regime, Mawarire decided that he would disappear no more. Daily Maverick

SA Army Flexes Its Muscle with Capability Demonstration
The South African Army this week held a major capability exercise outside Bloemfontein in order to showcase the combat readiness of the country’s ground forces. The exercise, held at the General de Wet training ground outside Bloemfontein, replaces both Exercises Young Eagle and Seboka, in an effort to save scarce resources. The exercise saw live night firing on Wednesday evening followed by a major firepower demonstration on Thursday, which was attended by hundreds of invited guests. Most Army assets took part, with an emphasis on mobile firepower, supported by two Rooivalk attack helicopters from the Air Force, which fired cannon and rockets at targets on the range. The South African Air Force also contributed several Oryx helicopters, which were used to land and extract troops and equipment. A single A109 Light Utility Helicopter acted as an aerial observation platform. DefenceWeb

Africa’s Ticking Time Bomb – U.S.$35 Billion Worth of Eurobond Debt
The 2008 economic crisis is the single largest factor that has driven developing countries to seek alternative sources of financing for social and developmental infrastructure. This was a result of the drying up of bilateral loans and grants from European and American countries. Some African countries put forward the argument that the funds from capital markets, or sovereign bonds, are a cheaper source of alternative financing. A sovereign bond is a debt security issued by a national government known as a Eurobond. It is denominated in a foreign currency, usually the dollar, rather than what its name (euro) implies. Seychelles holds the distinction of being the first sub-Saharan African country to issue a sovereign bond – it issued a US$30 million bond in 2006. This was followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) issuing $454 million, Gabon $1 billion and Ghana $750 million in 2007. The Conversation on allAfrica

Exploding Lake, Blood-Laden Drones Spur Rwanda Tech Boom
The tiny nation of Rwanda is pursuing a local technological revolution in a bid to transform its largely agrarian society into the equivalent of an African Singapore. Since President Paul Kagame led his Rwandan Patriotic Front to power in 1994 after a genocide that claimed as many as 800,000 lives and cut economic output in half, the East African nation has pursued policies aimed at encouraging investment in and developing its ICT industry. The goal is for Rwanda to become a middle-income economy by 2020. The latest innovation was unveiled this week when Rwanda officially opened a methane-fired power plant on Lake Kivu to generate clean energy. The government’s commitment to technological innovation has helped double the industry’s contribution to the 1.53 trillion-franc ($1.97 billion) economy, according to National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda data. It may also ensure the landlocked, tea- and coffee-growing nation sustains growth that’s averaged 7.5 percent since 2000, according to International Monetary Fund data. Bloomberg

Ghanaians Own more than 35 Million Mobile Phones
Ghana’s mobile subscription figure has soared astronomically, with more than 35 million people in the West African country now owning mobile phones, providing a big platform for innovative and creative mobile applications to boost living conditions. The number of mobile phone users climbed to 35,283,957 at the end of 2015, representing a teledensity rate of 129.63 per cent, while data subscribers stood at 18,031,188 indicating 65.74 per cent rise over the same period. Communications minister, Edward Omane Boamah attributed the development to aggressive infrastructure deployment, amplified by massive investments by investors to enhance mobile usage and transactions. Africa Report



Photo: Adam Jones