Media Review for May 25, 2016

Uganda Threatens War On DR Congo Over Lake Albert Attacks
The Uganda government has threatened to use military force against Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) forces if attacks on its citizens on Ugandan soil re-occur, a minister said on Monday. The threats came three days after four Ugandan police officers were shot dead while patrolling on its territory on Lake Albert by Congolese soldiers. The outgoing Foreign Affairs minister Okello Oryem, describing the incident as an abhorrent conduct of Congolese soldiers, said a repeat “may compel the Uganda authorities to take self defence measures to protect its citizens.” The Foreign Affairs ministry said the four officers were responding to an illegal fishing incident by DR Congo nationals in Ugandan waters when they were ambushed by the Congolese soldiers. The lake is shared in roughly equal parts by the two countries and has in recent years been the scene of sometimes deadly clashes, mostly over alleged illegal fishing in each other’s waters. The East African on allAfrica

Libya Intercepts Hundreds Bound for Europe
Libyan coastguards said they detained 550 people trying to reach Europe illegally by boat on Tuesday, the second time in three days they have intercepted migrants in the same area. “Coastguards in the west who were patrolling off the Zawiya refinery on Tuesday intercepted four large inflatables carrying around 550 illegal migrants,” navy spokesman Colonel Ayoub Qassem said. Those detained were from “several African countries” and included three children and 30 women, eight of whom are pregnant, he told AFP. “The migrants have been handed over to the relevant authorities to be taken to detention centres,” Qassem said. On Sunday, Qassem told AFP that coastguards had intercepted seven vessels carrying around 850 migrants, again off Zawiya which is about 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli. IOL News

Egypt’s Allies Rally Amid Fears Over Worsening Security
After two years of cool relations between the U.S. and Egypt, the October terrorist attack on a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai Peninsula triggered a flurry of visits here by U.S. officials, who called for increased military aid to shore up President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. The downing of that jet was claimed by an Islamic State affiliate based in the Sinai. The possibility that the mysterious crash of an Egyptian airliner last week was another act of terrorism has only intensified worries that Mr. Sisi is unable to contain the threat, according to a U.S. official, a Western diplomat and other experts. “An incident like this on the heels of another airline disaster is always going to speed up any cooperation on security even if the cause is not yet clear,” the Western diplomat said. Regardless of what actually caused the EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo to crash, Michael Hanna, an Egypt expert at the Century Foundation, said recent traffic from Washington suggests the U.S. will seek to increase support for the Sisi regime despite deep concerns about its human-rights record. The Wall Street Journal

US Envoy: Burundi Talks Off to Good Start
The latest round of talks to end Burundi’s political crisis was “a positive step,” according to Thomas Perriello, the U.S. special envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region. Perriello spoke to VOA’s Central Africa service from the northern Tanzanian city of Arusha on Tuesday as the four days of talks concluded. Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa facilitated the talks, aimed at ending protests and violence that began when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term last year. Previous discussions led by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni made no progress. Perriello said the latest discussions were “high on substance and high on listening,” and praised Mkapa’s political skills. “I think, given the stakes in Burundi, it was good to see the facilitator play that role so well,” he said. VOA

Burundi’s Peace Talks Going Nowhere
The purpose of peace talks is to engage your opponent across the negotiating table. But the Burundi government sees things differently and by picking and choosing who it talks to, on Tuesday sank the latest mediation effort to resolve the country’s political crisis. Four days of an “inter-Burundi dialogue”, mediated by former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, has been labeled a “monologue” by the opposition. They are furious over the government’s decision to exclude key members of the umbrella National Council for the Restoration of Arusha Agreement and Rule of Law – known by the French acronym “CNARED”. IRIN

Ethiopian Official Wants to Become First African WHO Chief
Ethiopia’s foreign minister and previous health minister, Tedros Adhanom, has thrown his hat into the ring as Africa’s first and only candidate for the post of director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). A new U.N. health chief will be appointed during next year’s World Health Assembly. The WHO, which was established as a United Nations specialized agency nearly 70 years ago, has never had a director-general from Africa. Tedros hopes to break that mold and promises to wage a vigorous campaign to achieve that goal. Tedros does not impugn the work and achievements of previous directors-general, but suggests that the view of global health in the past has been seen through the narrow lens of mainly developed countries. “But, as you know, Africa and many of the developing countries carry most of the burden. And, we have never given a chance to Africa or a developing country to see the global health from that perspective and to see the global health from those who can understand the root cause of the problems that they have,” he said. VOA

Dissent is Marching on in Zimbabwe
At least 100,000 young people from each of the country’s ten provinces are expected to take part in the march in support of the head of state on May 25. President Mugabe is scheduled to address the crowd. But Mugabe’s public support is clearly on the wane, owing to growing economic and social problems. A cross section of Zimbabwean youths who spoke to DW expressed mixed feelings over the planned march. One young man said that President Mugabe’s leadership “has been groundbreaking; the whole of Africa and the world know that. I, for one, love the leadership of President Mugabe.” But there was also criticism, like this voiced by another young man in Harare: “We are at a very crucial time for young people. And time is something we are throwing away. Deutsche Welle

South Sudanese Soldiers ‘Getting Away with Murder,’ Rights Group Says
South Sudanese government soldiers have killed, tortured and raped civilians and looted and burned down homes in and around Wau town in western Bahr el Ghazal state over the past several months, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Tuesday. The report described mostly ethnic Dinka soldiers carrying out “abusive counterinsurgency tactics” since December against people from the Fertiti ethnic groups. The abuses occurred before the government, rebels and opposition agreed on a shaky national unity government last month after several years of fighting. “With all eyes on the new national unity government in Juba, government soldiers have been literally getting away with murder in the country’s western regions,” said Daniel Bekele, HRW’s Africa director. HRW called for the government to halt all abuses and properly investigate, as well as form a war crimes court to punish those responsible. Deutsche Welle

Khartoum-Juba Security Talks to Resume Next Month : Diplomat
South Sudan’s deputy head of diplomatic mission to Khartoum Kau Nak Maper said the governments of the two countries have agreed to resume the meetings of the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) on 6 June in Khartoum. In September 2012, both Sudan and South Sudan signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, border trade among others. In March 2013, the two countries signed an implementation matrix for these cooperation agreements. Maper told the semi-official Sudan Media Center (SMC) that the two countries agreed to resume the JPSC meetings on 6 June, stressing his government approved the proposed date after the two governments agreed to delay the meeting to early June. Sudan Tribune

China Signs Deal with Sudan to Build Nuclear Power Plant
A Chinese state-owned company has signed a framework agreement with Sudan to build the east African country’s first nuclear power plant, an official in Khartoum said on Tuesday. The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the electricity ministry on Monday to build nuclear reactors that would help to generate electricity. “The agreement will allow Sudan to build in the future a nuclear plant to generate nuclear energy for peaceful use,” ministry spokesman Mohamed Abdelrahim Jawish told AFP. “This preliminary agreement was signed on Monday and we are now talking of capacities,” he added. In 2012, Sudan informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intention to pursue nuclear technology amid an increased demand for electricity from the country’s growing population. The East African

Nigerian Governor Declares ‘War’ Against Herdsmen
A Nigerian state governor has declared “war” against nomadic herdsmen, after another deadly attack in an escalating conflict killed two people. “The killing of our people must stop,” Ayo Fayose, governor of the southwestern state of Ekiti said on Monday during a visit to the community affected. “We must take all action to stop it. They have killed two. This Ekiti war must be fought with the totality of our spirit, strength.” Fayose called on the crowd to “bring down” any cow grazing unnecessarily in any part of the state and local communities to “terminate the lives” of herdsmen that attacks them. The governor’s comments go way beyond any of his counterparts also affected by the Fulani conflict, which has seen a spate of attacks this year against farmers in central and southeastern states. News 24

‘Tomato Ebola’ Hits Nigeria as Moths Destroy Country’s Staple Food
A state government in northern Nigeria has declared a state of emergency after moths destroyed swaths of tomato fields, threatening supplies of the country’s leading staple food. Nigerian farmers describe the outbreak as “tomato Ebola” after the deadly disease that devastated west Africa in 2014. The news from Kaduna state saw Nigerians voice fears on social media they would not be able to make jollof rice – a beloved national dish made with tomato paste – because of the scarcity. Tomato prices have shot up as a result of the moth Tuta absoluta, adding to existing hardships from a 67% rise in the price of petrol and soaring inflation in Africa’s largest economy. The Guardian

Forensic expert suggests explosion downed EgyptAir jet
Body parts recovered from the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804 showed signs of burns and were so small that they suggested the jet was brought down by an explosion, a member of the team examining the remains said Tuesday. But the idea of a blast was promptly dismissed by the head of Egypt’s forensic agency as “baseless” speculation. The cause of Thursday’s crash of the EgyptAir jet flying from Paris to Cairo that killed all 66 people aboard still has not been determined. Ships and planes from Egypt, Greece, France, the United States and other nations are searching the Mediterranean Sea north of the Egyptian port of Alexandria for the jet’s voice and flight data recorders, as well as more bodies and parts of the aircraft. Egypt’s civil aviation minister has said he believes terrorism is a more likely explanation than equipment failure or some other catastrophic event. But no hard evidence has emerged on the cause, and no militant group has claimed to have downed the jet. News 24

UN Chief Won’t Accept Kenya’s Decision to Close Camps
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reiterated his concerns about the planned shutdown of Kenya’s Dadaab camps during talks in Istanbul on Monday with Deputy President William Ruto. A UN summary of the meeting indicates that Mr Ban was not persuaded by Mr Ruto’s address to the World Humanitarian Summit, also on Monday, in which the latter vowed that Dadaab would be closed this year. The UN chief “pointed to the potentially devastating consequences of prematurely ending refugee hosting for hundreds of thousands of people,” said the summary supplied by the world body’s press office. Mr Ban also “recognised the extraordinary humanitarian role Kenya has played over the years as one of the world’s foremost refugee hosting countries,” the UN reported. The East African

A Mining Code You Can Live by in DRC
Reforms of mining legislation have stalled once again after an angry reaction by companies who say taxes are still too high while commodity prices are low. Mines minister Martin Kabwelulu strode about this year’s Mining Indaba, which took place as usual in Cape Town in early February, with an unusually confident swagger. True, a collapse in mining revenue has left a gaping hole in the government’s budget, but Kabwelulu was celebrating nine years in his position, making him the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) longest-serving cabinet minister. “I don’t know why I’ve stayed in position so long,” Kabwelulu said modestly, “but the fact that I have shows that we have stability in governance in our country.”  Africa Report

El Nino Wreaks Havoc in Africa
Extreme drought followed by massive rainfall: the weather phenomenon El Nino is at the root of famine and floods in many African countries. While nations in southern Africa are suffering from the lowest rainfall in 35 years, the east of the continent is experiencing massive floods. Epidemics of cholera, malaria, measles and scabies follow. The UN World Food Program has raised the alarm: more than 20 million people in East Africa, and 14 million in the southern part of the continent, lack food. Will the international community be able to cope with this catastrophe? This was one of the central issues up for debate at the World Summit for Humanitarian Aid in Istanbul, on May 23 and 24. Here is an overview of the situation in the worst affected countries. Deutsche Welle

Wake Up, Zambia, Smell the Roses
One Zambian mine, Kansanshi in Solwezi, has consistently paid most corporate tax countrywide over the past decade. Mining, too, is the country’s main foreign exchange earner, and supplies one-fifth of government revenue. But while mining remains important, it will never generate the number of jobs that Zambia needs to create for its growing population. A more diverse approach is needed.  Daily Maverick

Mozambique Heads for Default After Missing Loan Repayment Deadline
Mozambique was heading toward a default on Monday after the government failed to honour a sovereign guarantee behind a $535 million loan taken out by a state-run company to build shipyards that have not materialised, a Finance Ministry source said. The repayment crisis in what was once one of the continent’s brightest economic prospects is likely to trigger a reappraisal of the wave of commercial lending to African governments during the past decade of relatively strong regional growth. The state firm, Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), was unable to make the $178 million payment and the government – which last month admitted to $1.35 billion of secret foreign borrowing – also failed to come up with the cash, the source said. Foreign creditors behind the loan, organised by Russia’s VTB Bank, had rejected the war-scarred Southern African country’s initial proposals to renegotiate payments, but were still in talks to try to reach a deal, the source added. Reuters

Tunisians Seek Justice for Past Wrongs
In the few countries where the so-called Arab Spring forced a change in leadership, new governments have done little to address people’s demands for justice for crimes committed under decades of dictatorship. But Tunisians are hoping they can be the exception to the rule, following the introduction of a pioneering legal programme. In 2013, Tunisia passed a comprehensive Transitional Justice Law, described as the first of its kind in the world. This law established the Truth and Dignity commission, which is reviewing thousands of cases of human rights violations over a period of six decades. So should we consider this as something merely symbolic, another lengthy process of confession and redemption, or could it deliver genuine results for the Tunisian people? BBC

On the Frontier of Islam: The Maverick Mystics of Senegal
The Grand Magal is a commemoration of exile. In September 1895 (18 Safar 1313 in the Islamic calendar), Senegal’s French colonial government deported to Gabon a diminutive holy man with a fondness for coffee and couscous whom they suspected of planning a jihad, a holy war, to drive them out of West Africa. Watching from the dock as he was led onto the steamship that would take him on the 2,000-mile southward journey, the holy man’s most devoted follower, a serene-faced giant whose matted dreadlocks were partially covered by the black hood of his cloak, announced that he would drink the Atlantic dry to keep his beloved mentor at home. Ibra Fall had come under the influence of Sheikh Ahmadou Bamba a decade earlier. He had searched for years for a marabout, or spiritual guide, to lead him towards God, working his way through a number of false prophets as he trod the sandy tracks of central Senegal. When he met Bamba, as the Mouride historian Donal Cruise O’Brien relates, he knew he had attained his goal. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones