Media Review for May 31, 2016

The Evolution of African Peacekeeping
The United Nations charter, while nearly 15,000 words, establishes its purpose in the first six: “to maintain international peace and security.” Peacekeeping missions are a key tool in this effort. The UN has 16 active missions around the world today. The work can be difficult and dangerous, and the current missions have suffered more than 1,600 fatalities so far. Nine of the UN’s current missions are in Africa, which correspondingly hosts a bit more than half of the world’s conflicts. UN peacekeepers operate in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, and Western Sahara. In addition, the African Union leads the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia. (At times, AU deployments have evolved into UN missions, such as the 5,600-strong MISCA mission in the Central African Republic.)  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Chad Ex-dictator Gets Life Sentence for Crimes Against Humanity
A special court in Senegal on Monday sentenced former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre to life in prison after convicting him of rape and crimes against humanity. “Hissene Habre, this court finds you guilty of crimes against humanity, rape, forced slavery, and kidnapping,” said Gberdao Gustave Kam, president of the special court. Habre was also found guilty of rape with Kam saying that he had committed “non-consensual sexual relations on three occasions, and a non-consensual oral sex act.” The case, at the Extraordinary African Chambers (CAE) — a special tribunal set up by the African Union under a deal with Senegal — is the first time a country has prosecuted a former leader of another nation for rights abuses. Habre has declined to address the court, refusing to recognise its authority. Activists hope the landmark case could encourage others to bring similar action. The East African

Habré’s Historic Conviction Sends Mixed Messages to African Dictators
This is a landmark judgment for international justice, and it comes at a good time given the African continent’s well-publicised struggles with the International Criminal Court in this area. As the Guardian noted: “Habré… is the first African former head of state to be convicted in Africa, and the first former head of any state to be convicted of crimes against humanity by the courts of another country. It is also the first time that a former head of state has been convicted of personally raping someone.” Habré has 15 days to appeal the verdict. The case against Habré was a long time in the making, and that it happened at all is largely due to the tireless struggle for justice waged by some of his victims. “Unlike allegations of ‘victors’ justice’, this case was one of victims’ justice. Without a doubt the most prominent feature of the Habré case is the role that victims played. The long drawn-out process to bring Habré to justice demonstrated the tenacity and determination of victims in the face of great resistance,” said Ottilia Anna Maunganidze, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies. Daily Maverick

Hissène Habré Trial Provides Model for International Justice
[…] Not only is the trial of Habré the first time a country has prosecuted a former leader of another nation for rights abuses, it is also an important model of how hybrid courts can reconcile the often conflicting demands of international law and local sovereignty. Other such cases have been tried by international tribunals such as the international criminal court, based in The Hague. However, the ICC only has jurisdiction over crimes committed after 1 July 2002, when its statute entered into effect – well after Habré had lost power. More importantly, there is deep animosity among African leaders towards the ICC, which is seen as biased. Indictments of incumbent leaders of Sudan and Kenya have stirred particular resentment. So a powerful theme surrounding the trial was, therefore, African justice for an African criminal. “Today Africa has won. We say thank you to Senegal and to Africa for judging Africa,” said Clement Abeifouta, president of a Habré survivors association. “We are proud that this trial took place on African soil.”  The Guardian

Three Days, 700 Deaths on Mediterranean as Migrant Crisis Flares
The grisly week also underscored the complex problem that the refugee crisis poses for Europe. The Continent’s leaders, facing an anti-immigrant backlash in many countries, have signed a controversial deal with Turkey that so far has sharply reduced the migrant flow into Greece last year, roughly one million people marched through the Balkans toward Germany. Yet closing the Greek route has shifted attention to the longer, more dangerous sea route from Libya to Italy. As of Wednesday, roughly 41,000 migrants had been rescued at sea after leaving Libya, nearly the same number from the same period last year, according to the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration. The New York Times

Power Struggles Stall South Sudan’s Recovery from War
If there is any chance for South Sudan to get back on its feet, it will need to be serious about the mundane. So says Fredrick Lokule, a veteran civil servant who is passionate about bureaucracy, of all things — specifically tax collection, the thankless task that any functioning state requires. But the government of South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, has long been driven by personalities, not by policies. Now it cannot afford to pay even its most experienced technocrats. Mr. Lokule, who is in charge of his state’s revenue authority, says he has not been paid for more than two months. His office sits on an unpaved road and experiences frequent power failures, so his employees have grown used to working in the dark. “People are patient,” Mr. Lokule said. “But of course we’ve been frustrated because of a lack of this, a lack of that.” The New York Times

Five UN Soldiers Killed in Central Mali Ambush
Five United Nations peacekeepers were killed and one other seriously injured in an ambush in central Mali on Sunday, the United Nations said. A convoy of soldiers in the U.N. Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was attacked 30 kilometers west of Sevaré, the U.N. said. The nationalities of the soldiers were not released and so far no group had taken responsibility for the attack. It comes 10 days after five MINUSMA peacekeepers from Chad were killed in an ambush in the northern region of Kidal. Two days ago five Malian soldiers were killed near the town of Gao. “I condemn in the strongest terms this despicable crime,” said MINUSMA head Mahamat Saleh Annadif, adding that it constituted “crimes against humanity under international law”. France 24

Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual Leader Mohamed Badie Receives Life Sentence
An Egyptian criminal court on Monday handed down a life sentence to the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood along with 35 other members of the outlawed Islamist group, a state-run news agency reported. Mohamed Badie, the group’s “Supreme Guide,” was among those found guilty of engaging in violent acts in the northeastern governorate of Ismailia in the wake of protests over the 2013 ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy, Egypt’s state-run MENA reported. The court found the men guilty of killing three citizens in Ismailia governorate and attempting to kill 16 others, and attempting to occupy an official building in July 2013, Egyptian state media agency Al-Ahram reported. CNN

Head of Egypt’s Journalists Union Detained
The head of Egypt’s journalists union and two of its board members have been questioned by prosecutors over allegations that they spread false news and harboured journalists wanted by authorities, one of the three and their lawyer said on Monday. They were ordered released on $1 000 bail each, but they refused to pay and were consequently detained at a police station in central Cairo, said board member Khaled el-Balshy and defence lawyer Sayed Abu Zeid. “We refused to pay because the accusations are related to publishing news and that should not involve imprisonment or bail,” said el-Balshy. The move against the three came less than a month after the head of the union, Yahya Qalash, called for the interior minister’s resignation and a presidential apology over an alleged police raid to snatch two journalists wanted for allegedly inciting protests and who had taken refuge inside the union building in downtown Cairo. News 24

Tunis Museum Attacker Killed in Libya
A senior IS commander in Libya, Tunisian Khaled Al-Shayeb, who Tunisian security forces thought they had killed last October is reported to have finally died this week in clashes with Misratan fighters to the west of Sirte, in northern Libya, reported The Libya Herald. Shayeb, also known as Luqman Abu Sakhr, was believed to have been one of the terrorists who organised last year’s attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis in which 22 people, mostly foreign tourists, were murdered. The Tunisian National Guard claimed last year that Shayeb had been one of several commanders killed during an operation in Gafsa. IOL News

Turkey Hopes to Reopen Tripoli Embassy, Build Economic Ties – Foreign Minister
Turkey’s foreign minister said during a visit to Tripoli on Monday that his country hoped to be the first to reopen its embassy in the Libyan capital, following the arrival of a U.N.-backed unity government at the end of March. Security in Tripoli remains fragile and the unity government’s leadership has been operating out of a heavily guarded naval base as it gradually tries to gain control of ministries. Tunisia and several Western European states including France and Britain said shortly after the unity government’s leadership moved to Tripoli that they hoped to reopen their embassies, but no dates have yet been announced. “God willing, we will be the first country to resume our embassy’s work in Tripoli,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, after meeting his Libyan counterpart Mohammed Siyala and Prime Minister Fayez Seraj at the naval base. He also pledged Turkish support for the government’s efforts to restore stability and security to Libya, and said Turkey hoped to boost its economic presence in the North African state. Reuters

Mauritius Raises Security Level after Gunshots Fired on French Embassy
Mauritius police said on Monday it had stepped up security after gunshots were fired at the French embassy and a hotel in the capital city. A police official said nobody had been injured and an inquiry had begun to identify and apprehend the perpetrators, adding graffiti mentioning Islamic state was discovered on the wall of the French embassy. “Police attended a request early in the morning in St Georges street and found traces of projectiles on the bay window of St Georges Hotel and a window found on the ground floor of the French embassy,” police commissioner Mario Nobin told reporters. He said security level had been raised in the country and in strategic places but reassured the population and embassies on the Indian island nation that the situation is under control. Reuters

Germany Pledges Further Support to AU
The German government has pledged an additional €55.5-million in support of African Union (AU) programmes and joint strategic initiatives over a two-year period. With the new commitment, Germany’s total support to the AU since the inception of bilateral co-operation in 2004 exceeds €500-million. “We want to support the AU in making substantial progress in the economic and political integration of Africa,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal representative for Africa in the federal ministry for economic co-operation and development Gunter Nooke said in Addis Ababa. “Economic transformation, skills development and the creation of job opportunities are central to combat poverty and the root causes of forced migration and we have agreed to do more in the area of agriculture training and development,” he said. Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe Braces for Economic Collapse All Over Again as Mugabe Vows to Restore the National Currency
When President Robert Mugabe decided to fill the streets of Harare with a mass demonstration by his supporters last week, his minions spent thousands of dollars paying people to turn up. This was money that Zimbabwe’s regime could not afford. Since the national currency was abandoned in favour of the US dollar in 2009, Mr Mugabe has been unable to resort to his usual habit of ordering the Reserve Bank to print money to fund overseas trips, refurbish his official residences or pay soldiers and civil servants. But the 92-year-old dictator has decided to return to the old days when he was free to print banknotes at will. By 2008, he had printed so many that Zimbabwe suffered the worst hyperinflation in history, peaking at about 500 billion per cent and pauperising an entire society. The Telegraph

Daallo Airlines Blast: Somalia Sentences Two to Life in Prison
A military court in Somalia has sentenced two men to life in prison for masterminding a bomb attack on a Daallo Airlines passenger plane in February. Eight other people, including a woman, were sentenced to between six months and four years in prison. The blast, shortly after take-off from Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killed the bomber and left a hole in the plane’s fuselage. Somalia’s militant Islamist group al-Shabab said it carried out the attack. However, it admitted at the time that it had failed in its attempt to bring down the plane. The verdicts were the first in connection with the blast. BBC

Nigeria: Security Forces Kill Oil Militants, Separatists
Nigerian security forces clashed with oil militants and Biafran secessionists in separate bloody confrontations Monday that killed at least 20 civilians and two police officers, officials and witnesses. The violence erupted in Nigeria’s restive south as the military mounted an offensive in the oil rich south-central Niger Delta and separatists protested in the southeast. Over the weekend, soldiers fired on speedboats believed to be carrying Niger Delta militants preparing to strike oil installations and killed or wounded an unknown number, army spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman said. The Ijaw Youth Council, a community group, accused soldiers of firing Saturday night on a speedboat trying to evacuate civilians wounded in a military siege of Oporoza, a town reachable only by water or air. Community leaders say civilians have been wounded and beaten up by soldiers demanding that residents hand over members of the Niger Delta Avengers, a new group that has claimed attacks on strategic pipelines that have halved oil production in a country that used to be Africa’s biggest petroleum producer. AP on Stars and Stripes

Has the Nigerian President Delivered on His Promises?
A year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements is how Muhammadu Buhari describes his first year in office. In an anniversary speech on Sunday, the Nigerian president promised to boost the economy, eliminate corruption, improve infrastructure and defeat Boko Haram. These promises are similar to the pledges made in his presidential election campaign. Buhari inherited several problems from the previous government when he took over a year ago. Since then, a new threat has emerged, which is attacking the heart of the economy. The Niger Delta Avengers are an armed group sabotaging pipelines in southern Nigeria, home to most oil and gas fields. The Avengers are demanding more of the national oil revenue to benefit the population of the poor and polluted Delta region. How will he deal with the threat and the many problems Nigerians face? Al Jazeera

Uganda Switches Sides, Dumps North Korea for South
Uganda promised to halt military cooperation with old ally North Korea after a visit to Kampala by South Korean President Park Geun-Hye on Sunday. North Korea, which is under UN sanctions for its defiant efforts to build nuclear weapons, has for many years sent military trainers to Uganda, but Uganda’s foreign minister Sam Kutesa said the relationship would now end. “We are disengaging the cooperation we have with North Korea as a result of UN sanctions,” Kutesa said. “Our policy is that we do not support nuclear proliferation.” The about-turn followed a meeting between Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and his South Korean counterpart Park Geun-Hye. “President Museveni said Uganda would enforce the UN Security Council resolutions, adding that the government had already been given orders to disengage with North Korea on police and other military engagements,” Uganda’s State House said in a statement late Sunday.  The East African

Rare Success Story of Wildlife Protection in Kenya
Few thought it would work. Even the experts said no chance. But 24 hours after the road underpass opened, the bull elephant slowly stepped through and re-established safe passage on an ancient trail. Reaching high into the clouds, Mount Kenya is a waypoint on the elephant’s inbuilt GPS. For centuries herds in this part of Africa have trodden the route back and forth across the equator to Mount Marsabit in the north. Then came agricultural fields. And a road network. The old elephant paths were blocked by either cash crops of flowers and tomatoes, or by lorries thundering on tarmac through the foothills. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones