Media Review for May 27, 2016

U.S. Increases Antiterrorism Exercises With African Militaries
After a series of terrorist attacks on hotels and other tourist sites that raised concerns all across Africa, the United States has increased training exercises with militaries here, focusing on how to defend civilian targets on a continent that has become a significant battleground in the war against militant Islam. In Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, United States Army troops simulated an elaborate hostage rescue with West African forces this month. The combined forces stormed a building, shot mock militants and secured the hostages. In Kenya, American trainers funded by the State Department have been working with police commandos on how to respond to terrorist attacks like the Westgate shopping mall raid in 2013, when fighters with the Shabab, the local affiliate of Al Qaeda, killed 67 people and wounded 175 more. And in Gabon next month, paratroopers from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division — after crossing the Atlantic from their Fort Bragg, N.C., headquarters — are scheduled to jump out of a plane and straight into a joint exercise, part of an effort to train Central African militaries in elaborate raids, strikes and rescue missions. The training effort between the American military and its African partners is a far cry from the days when the Pentagon viewed the continent as a place to avoid, fearing open-ended United Nations peacekeeping missions. The New York Times

A Constitutional Coup in Congo
President Joseph Kabila is a man of few words, but it wouldn’t take many to reassure people that he intends to step down in December, when his second elected term in office ends, instead of dragging his country into a constitutional crisis. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has never had a peaceful transfer of power, and the president’s unwillingness to commit to vacating office on time has many worried that it won’t have a transfer of power at all this year. Six months before voters are supposed to go to the polls, Kabila stands accused of deliberately hindering electoral preparations in order to engineer another term. The president’s alleged strategy for remaining in power, known in Congo as glissement, French for “slippage,” has typically been more about what his government hasn’t done — adding millions of newly eligible voters to the electoral roll or releasing funds due to the electoral commission — than what it has. But, in recent weeks, glissement seems to have entered a proactive phase. In the span of eight days this month, the government indicted Moise Katumbi, a popular former governor who represents the biggest electoral threat to Kabila, and secured a critical court ruling that will allow the president to stay in office until his replacement is elected, even if the vote is delayed as the electoral commission has hinted it will be. The first development goes a long way toward removing a formidable challenger, while the second gives him a legal basis for remaining in office for the foreseeable future. Foreign Policy

DRC Opposition Says President is Working to Delay Elections
Security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo broke up opposition demonstrations across the country Thursday. Two people are believed to have been killed in the eastern city of Goma. The march was organized by a group of leading opposition parties to protest what they claim are President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to stall elections until he can change the constitution to allow him to seek a third term. The Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that Kabila can stay in office if November elections are postponed. Opposition leader Eva Bazaiba said her message for Kabila is that his mandate ends Dec. 19, 2016. She said if elections are not organized by then, the opposition will consider Kabila a putschist and someone who has violated the constitution. Around mid-morning, several thousand protesters in Kinshasa began to move in a sea of colorful flags. VOA News

Uganda: 7 Convicted of Al-Shabab’s Deadly World Cup Bombings
A Ugandan judge on Thursday convicted seven men of carrying out twin bombings which killed 76 people who were watching the 2010 World Cup final in the capital, Kampala. The men, who were also convicted of multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, could face the death penalty in sentencing Friday. Another suspect was convicted of aiding and abetting terrorism, while five others were acquitted. In convicting the seven men, High Court Judge Alphonse Owiny Dollo said there was proof that the July 2010 bombings were planned in Somalia and that explosives used in the attack were ferried through Kenya. The 13 suspects — including Ugandans, Kenyans and Tanzanians — were charged under Uganda’s anti-terror law. FBI agents testified during the trial in Kampala. AP on ABC News

Court Rejects Simone Gbagbo’s Appeal Against 20-year Jail Term
Ivory Coast’s supreme court has rejected former first lady Simone Gbagbo’s appeal against a 20-year sentence handed to her last year. The former first lady was charged with undermining state security for her role in the violence that followed the 2010 elections which left more than 3,000 people dead. She was tried with 78 co-defendants for their part in the crisis caused by the refusal of her husband and former president Laurent Gbagbo to recognise Alassane Ouattara’s victory in the November 2010 presidential poll. Simone Gbagbo is also due to stand trial on May 31 in Abidjan on charges of crimes against humanity related to the wave of post-election violence. Africa News

Military Push, Economic Hardship Fuel Insurgency in Nigeria’s Delta
Slumped in a chair at Port Harcourt airport in Nigeria’s Delta region, community leader Udengs Eradiri warns that attacks on oil facilities there are likely to escalate unless the government “changes its body language”. Intensifying attacks in the Niger Delta this year have driven the OPEC member’s oil output to a more than 20-year low, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to move in more soldiers. The effects can be seen on the pot-holed roads of Port Harcourt and Yenagoa, two major cities in the Delta, where the army has set up checkpoints less than a mile apart. Buhari hopes that will protect oil facilities. But for Eradiri – head of the Ijaw Youth Council, representing one of the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria – the tactics will only fuel anger about poverty and push more young men into militancy. “There is a quest for survival in the Niger Delta, not criminality,” said Eradiri, while stranded at the airport due to a jet fuel shortage – a symptom of the economic malaise gripping the West African nation. Reuters

To Find Progress in Nigeria, Think Local
On May 29, it will be one year since Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari took office. His electoral triumph and no-nonsense style sparked high hopes in a country fatigued by chronic corruption, poor infrastructure, the Boko Haram insurgency, and the incompetence of his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. But it hasn’t been an easy year for Africa’s largest economy, which has been stunned by the drop in the price of oil — the main source of government revenue and nearly the sole source of foreign exchange. So what has Buhari accomplished? The evidence is contradictory. On one hand, for instance, a vast anti-corruption campaign is under way — in a country that badly needs it. Buhari reinvigorated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the country’s lead anti-corruption agency, with aggressive new leadership. Every week brings news of prominent figures being questioned; the sums reportedly in play can reach billions of dollars. But the targeting feels haphazard, the methods are unclear, and running well-handled prosecutions in the country’s creaky justice system is a challenge. Foreign Policy

South Sudan’s South: Conflict in the Equatorias
The formation of a transitional government following Riek Machar’s return to Juba in April marked the most significant milestone of the August 2015 Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) that ended the twenty-month civil war. Yet the ARCSS, designed to address a war primarily fought between the government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in the Greater Upper Nile region, is an imperfect solution to other conflict fault lines, notably in the Equatoria region. Conflicts there are driven by a combination of national governance issues – federalism, security sector reform and a new constitution – that the ARCSS addresses – and localised grievances. Though the Equatorian conflicts appear to be on the wane, the agreement’s ability to address national political and security governance issues as well as regional-specific questions about the status of Equatorian opposition forces will determine if they revive. International Crisis Group

Oil-Infrastructure Damage Cuts Output Further in South Sudan
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Oil output in South Sudan declined to as little as 120,000 barrels per day because of damage caused by a 2 1/2-year civil war to production facilities, Petroleum Minister Dak Duop Bischok said. The only crude being produced in the East African nation is at Paloch in Upper Nile state, Bischok said in an interview Wednesday in the capital, Juba. Oil companies are working on bringing facilities back on stream with the aim of boosting output by July, he said. “This is a challenge and people are working on it,” Bischok said. “The repairs will cost a lot and it is the companies operating there which will do it.” Oil production in South Sudan, which has sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-largest proven reserves, has dropped from at least 350,000 barrels a day that the country was producing in 2011, when it seceded from neighboring Sudan. Its low-sulfur crude is prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation. Bloomberg

Why the EU migration deal with Sudan is so Dodgy
Sudan is already benefitting from a $45 million regional programme to “better manage migration” in the Horn of Africa, under the European Commission’s $2 billion Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The EC has also announced a $112 million aid package “to address root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement” in Darfur, east Sudan, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The problem is that the Sudanese military is involved in much of the instability in those regions. “Sudan is not only important as a major transit route north to Europe, it is also a producer of migrants,” said Magnus Taylor, Horn of Africa analyst with the International Crisis Group. “But if your job is to stop people arriving in Europe and to come up with a deal to reduce those numbers, then your interest in the internal politics of Sudan may be secondary.” IRIN

Zimbabwe Seeks Help to Recover Missing Billions
Zimbabwe has extended its investigations into missing diamond revenue to six countries including the United States following claims the impoverished country could have lost $15 billion through externalisation. The country’s law enforcement agents are already investigating directors of one of the Chinese mining companies that had a concession in Marange for allegedly externalising millions of dollars. According to a letter by Zimbabwe’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to its counterparts in the United Arab Emirates, China, Zambia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo, Harare wants help to track down some of the missing money. The Africa Report

The Key to Africa’s Prosperity? Cultivating ‘Agropreneurs’
[…] Today we are talking about 70% of the people in sub-Saharan Africa who earn their income from agriculture. Because of that, agriculture ends up being between 25% and 40% of the gross domestic product of these countries. That’s an extremely significant figure. And it’s not just that agriculture is contributing to GDP; it’s also the inclusivity of agriculture. The benefits are spread more evenly across society, particularly to the benefit of the poor. You are able to reach people in deeper ways in terms of reaching them with investments that can transform their lives, than you could do with any other sector. Investment in agriculture is 11 times as effective in reducing poverty in sub-Saharan Africa compared with investment in other sectors. In other developing countries, it’s said to be about four times as effective. LA Times

Migrant Crisis: UK Set to Send Second Warship to Libya
The UK is set to send another warship to the Mediterranean to help tackle people-smuggling and movements of arms in and out of Libya, officials say. David Cameron told the G7 summit in Japan that the UK was ready to take an “active leadership role” in helping Libya deal with trafficking. The UK currently has one survey vessel, HMS Enterprise, operating in the area. For the UK to send another warship, the EU will need to extend the mandate of its current naval operation. UK officials at this week’s meeting of G7 industrialised nations said they would seek UN approval so that the new warship could also seize boats suspected of smuggling arms to fighters of so-called Islamic State in Libya. BBC

‘Police Officer and Protesters Killed’ as Demonstrations Turn Violent in DR Congo
A police officer was killed by stone-throwing protesters in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a United Nations human rights official said Thursday, as nationwide anti-government demonstrations erupted in violence. A protester was also shot dead in Goma in the east of the country, said José Maria Aranaz, director of the UN’s Congo-based Joint Human Rights Office. Two others were injured by gunfire, he said. However, the governor of North Kivu province, Julien Paluku, denied that a police officer had died. Security forces also fired tear gas at an opposition march in the capital Kinshasa, in the far west of the vast country, where around 5,000 people were protesting. France 24

President Mugabe Pardons 2,000 Prisoners
President Robert Mugabe has pardoned all female prisoners except those on death row or serving life sentences as his government seeks to decongest overcrowded prisons. Zimbabwe’s cash strapped government has been struggling to feed the close to 20,000 prisoners in the country’s jails where inmates often complain of poor living conditions. The latest amnesty will see at least 2,000 prisoners being released in the next few days. President Mugabe also freed all juveniles irrespective of their crimes. “Our 46 prisons nationwide are overpopulated. We have a holding capacity of 17 000, but we have been holding over 19 900 prisoners,” Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services public relations officer Priscilla Mthembo was quoted saying on Thursday. Africa Review

Guinea-Bissau’s President Names New Prime Minister, Sparking Protests
Guinea-Bissau’s President Jose Mario Vaz late Thursday night decreed Baciro Dja prime minister of the West African nation. The move sparked protests by supporters of the ruling party, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC). Some 100 protesters gathered in front of the presidential palace following the announcement, throwing rocks and burning tires. Riot police attempted to disperse the demonstrators with tear gas. “The PAIGC will not accept any illegal and unconstitutional decision,” the party said in a statement. The ruling party demanded that it choose its own prime minister, adding that it “will respond with all means at its reach.” Deutsche Welle

Tunisia Mulls Women Soldiers
Tunisia’s defence minister said Thursday his country must examine the possibility of allowing women to serve in its armed forces to face down “new challenges” including jihadist attacks. “Tunisia’s constitution says that national service is a right for all citizens… This duty applies to all citizens, male or female, so it’s now time to look into the issue,” Farhat Horchani told the private Mosaique FM radio station. Women are not technically excluded from joining the armed forces but Tunisia’s one-year obligatory military service is in practice reserved for men. Tunisia has been hit by dozens of jihadist attacks since its 2011 revolution, including assaults last year in Tunis and the beach resort of Sousse that killed 60 people, all but one of them foreigners. The beheading of a teenage shepherd by jihadists as his sheep grazed on Mount Mghilla last November also horrified the country. News 24

UN’s Top Court to Hear Kenya-Somalia Border Dispute
The UN’s top court said on Thursday it will hold hearings in September into a maritime border dispute between Somalia and Kenya which may decide the fate of potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves. Kenya will respond to a Somali complaint that Nairobi wrongly claims swathes of seabed that Mogadishu insists are its own during four days of hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague from September 19. Mogadishu is seeking to claw back authority over its territorial waters, including an area of the Indian Ocean bordering Kenya’s territorial waters that is potentially rich in oil and gas deposits. Kenya, which has had troops in southern Somalia since 2011, first as an invading force and then as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission, lays claim to a triangle of water stretching for more than 100 000 square kilometres that is also claimed by Mogadishu. News 24

Increasing Perils at Tanzania’s Nyarugusu Refugee Camp
The risk of sexual violence among Burundian women and girls in Tanzania’s Nyarugusu refugee camp is being driven up by the scarcity of firewood used for cooking, adding to an already high level of sexual gender-based violence in the camp, according to the International Rescue Committee (IRC). One refugee recounted her experience while holding back tears. She recalled being grabbed by a man with a knife while collecting firewood. The mother-of-three, who fled Burundi in May last year after her husband was killed, managed to escape when other Burundian refugees came to her aid. She said she was saved by the grace of God. According to the IRC, on average, two to three women report being raped each week in incidents relating to collecting firewood up to 15 kilometres outside the camp. Staff working in the camp say that due to the stigma associated with sexual violence, they believe the number of cases that go unreported is much higher. Al Jazeera

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma: From Poor Upbringing to Leader of Africa’s Third Largest Economy
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has announced he will appeal against the ruling of the High Court in Pretoria that nearly 800 corruption charges against him, dropped in 2009, should be reinstated. As the leader is battling against growing discontent and calls to step down, IBTimes UK looks at his life and political career, marred by corruption scandals and allegations of rape. International Business Times



Photo: Adam Jones