Media Review for November 10, 2015

France Seeks UN Action in Burundi to Prevent ‘Another Rwanda’
France on Monday urged the UN Security Council to adopt a draft resolution aimed at toughening the international response to spiralling violence in Burundi, amid fears of Rwanda-style mass killings. The measure threatens targeted sanctions against Burundian leaders who foment violence or hamper efforts to end the crisis that followed protests over President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term. “We are extremely worried by what we are seeing in Burundi at this moment: this increase of political violence and the extremely alarming ethnically-based hate speech,” French Deputy Ambassador Alexis Lamek told reporters. “If we let tensions escalate the whole country could explode,” Lamek said. “Especially when we hear hate speech coming from highest ranks.”  France 24

Boko Haram: State of Emergency Declared Around Lake Chad
Chad has declared a state of emergency in the Lake Chad region after attacks by Boko Haram militants from Nigeria. The decision came after at least two people were killed in a suspected Boko Haram suicide bomb attack. Ministers say sweeping powers to control people’s movements are needed because the area, which borders Nigeria, is targeted by the militants. Chad has been instrumental in helping Nigeria retake most of the areas Boko Haram had seized in northern Nigeria. But in the last few months, the group has intensified attacks in remote areas around Lake Chad. BBC

Suspected Boko Haram Suicide Bombers Attack Mosque in Cameroon
Two female suicide bombers suspected of belonging to the Boko Haram militant group blew themselves on Monday near a mosque in Cameroon’s Far North province, military officials said on Monday. It was not immediately clear if the explosions caused other fatalities. Boko Haram has led a six-year campaign for an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria. Neighbouring countries including Cameroon joined forces against the group last year, driving its offensive beyond Nigeria and displacing thousands of people. Reuters

Ugandan Civil Society Fears Unfair Presidential Poll as Museveni Bids for New Term
Uganda’s presidential campaign kicked off on Monday amid fears that the voting would be rigged or slanted to favour the incumbent, long-standing President Yoweri Museveni. But the country has vigorous social media and seasoned opposition candidates, including Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change and Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister, who is running as an independent.  RFI

Al-Shabab Video Shows Executions of African Union Troops
The Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab had released a video showing its members executing African Union soldiers during an attack on their base in Somalia in September. The video, reported Tuesday by SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi activities, shows armed fighters rampaging through what looks like a camp for Ugandan troops. Al-Shabab says it killed more than 50 Ugandan troops in the attack on a base for peacekeepers in the town of Janale. Ugandan officials have reported only 19 deaths. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said after the attack that al-Shabab may have taken some prisoners and blamed commanders for being “asleep” when the attack happened. AP

Settle Yemen Crisis to Help Somalia PM tells UN
Ending the crisis in Yemen is crucial to prevent Islamic State jihadists from shoring up Somalia’s weakened Shabaab, Somalia’s prime minister said on Monday. Prime Minister Omar Sharmarke told a special session of the UN Security Council on Somalia that the Shabaab’s recent pledges of allegiance to IS are “not to be taken lightly.” “Resolution of the crisis in Yemen is crucial,” he said. “Such will go a long way in keeping al-Shabaab from accruing support from ISIS, using Yemen as a conduit or launching pad.” News 24

DR Congo: Security Council Calls for Total Neutralization of Foreign, Local Armed Groups in East
The United Nations Security Council today called for the elimination of local and foreign armed groups which have for decades devastated the eastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and urged the immediate resumption of joint operations between the UN peacekeeping force’s Intervention Brigade and the national army. “The Security Council stresses once again the utmost importance of neutralizing, once and for all, armed groups in the DRC, in particular the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) as well as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), the Front for Patriotic Resistance of Ituri (FRPI) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA),” the 15-member body said in a presidential statement. Stressing the need to extend state authority over territory vacated by armed groups and enforce the effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants, the Council noted “with concern” that joint offensive operations between the national army and the Intervention Brigade have yet to resume.  UN

Morocco’s King Rules out Compromise over Western Sahara
Morocco’s king has renewed Rabat’s insistence that there will be no compromise on the kingdom’s claim to sovereignty over the Western Sahara, vowing that he will offer no more than autonomy to end the four-decade deadlock over the region. “This initiative is the maximum Morocco can offer,” Morocco’s King Mohammed said late on Friday, referring to the autonomy plan for the region. “Its implementation depends on reaching a final political agreement under the backing of the United Nations.”  Al Jazeera

The Importance of Getting Counterrorism Right in Dakar
Nearly a year ago, heads of state, regional leaders and international organizations met in Dakar to map strategies to confront terrorism in Africa. When participants regroup in Dakar on November 8-10, they would do well to take stock of how some of these counterterrorism initiatives have gone terribly awry. At the first Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security, United Nations Security Council counterterrorism representatives urged African nations to criminalize participation in violent extremist groups at home and abroad. In the past year, nine African governments have passed one or more such measures. That brings to at least 23 the number of African countries, from Algeria to Zimbabwe, with sweeping counterterrorism laws on their books.  Newsweek

An Island Refuge, Surrounded by Bloody Civil War, in South Sudan
The swamp is so large it can be seen from space. During the rainy season, it stretches over an area the size of France, a forbidding maze of reeds and crocodiles that long warded off even the most intrepid of explorers searching for the source of the Nile, whose waters flood these clay plains.  At night, swarms of ferocious mosquitoes seek out flesh. There are also tsetse and razor flies, and a variety of deadly snakes, not to mention the stifling humidity. This vast marshland, known as the Sudd, is also home to something else: tens of thousands of desperate civilians who have fled South Sudan’s civil war, the subject of a New York Times virtual reality film about children, resilience and survival. Geng Keah Deng, 50, was shot and bleeding when he left his village near the city of Leer this summer and waded into the swamp. The New York Times

Corrupt Kenyan Leaders to Face US Sanctions
President Barack Obama’s government has warned Kenya’s leaders linked to corruption that they risked facing sanctions believed to include travel bans. US Ambassador Robert Godec in Nairobi said the  US Government was offering partnership which would help Kenya stem corruption including ethics training and supporting procurement through oversight for the programmes it was finacing. Godec said corruption has reached crisis levels in Kenya making US take tough stand on unspecified action. The US has previously denied visa to in dividuals named in corruption. “Corruption is undermining economic growth, security and many things the government wants to do. We believe Kenya will overcome it. Steps need to be taken to address the situation. The challenge is to figure out what needs to be done and it all depends on Kenyan leadership and citizens to champion change but we are willing to partner on solutions,” he said. The Standard

Airliner Tragedy Crushes Egypt Hopes of Tourism Revival
Tourism in Sharm al-Sheikh was picking up again after years of political turmoil, with so many Russians enjoying the sun and fun that local beach aerobics instructors used the visitors’ own language rather than Arabic or English. Life was at last starting to look good for residents of the Red Sea resort, but that was before an airliner taking Russian tourists home broke up over the Sinai Peninsula, where Islamic State militants suspected of planting a bomb on the plane are waging an insurgency. Now the future looks grim for thousands of Egyptians, from taxi drivers to diving instructors, who flocked to Sharm al-Sheikh to find jobs. One tour company official predicted holidays might now have to be discounted by up to 50 percent. “I have been working in Sharm for three years but this is the first time I have ever seen it so empty,” said Ahmed Rabie. He spoke outside the cafe he runs in Naama Bay, at the resort’s heart. Chairs were stacked on tables and not a single person was sitting inside. Reuters

Egypt Hotel Workers Questioned, as UK Hands Russia Intelligence on Sinai Plane Crash
Maids, porters and other hotel staff in Sharm el-Sheikh are being questioned by Egyptian investigators to discover if one of them hid a bomb in a passenger’s luggage before they boarded a doomed Russian holiday jet. With Egypt now “90 per cent certain” that Metrojet flight 9268 was brought down by a terrorist attack, the hunt for the bomber has widened. Airport staff have already been interrogated without a breakthrough being made, and now police are exploring the theory that someone with access to the hotel rooms of Russian tourists could have secreted a bomb in a suitcase. They are checking the backgrounds of staff who work in hotels where the 224 victims of the crash were staying. The Telegraph

Egypt: Opaque Terrorist Network on the Sinai Peninsula
“Islamic State” (IS) affiliates on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula have been boasting about causing last week’s crash of a tourist jet in the region, killing all 224 people on board. “The soldiers of the caliphate have managed to crash a Russian plane in Sinai Province,” a member of “Sinai Province,” the regional IS affiliate, wrote on Twitter. The group claimed to be seeking revenge on Russia, which launched airstrikes on IS positions in Syria in September. Egyptian investigators looking into the crash have so far denied that Sinai Province was responsible, but international intelligence services agree that it’s possible the terrorist network is to blame. Sinai Province is just one of many terrorist groups active in the peninsula’s mountainous terrain. Among others, al Qaeda affiliates are rivaling IS for domination of the region. Deutsche Welle

Extremism in Egypt: When Countering Terrorism Becomes Counter-Productive
Since the inception of the El-Sisi regime in Egypt, there has been an exponential increase in the number of terrorist incidents directed at the state. In the Sinai Peninsula especially, the security situation has deteriorated significantly, with the Islamic State joining the melange of extremist groups operating in the region. Extremists have also shown their ability to extend violence beyond the Sinai and into the capital. In June, Egypt’s Chief Prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, was assassinated, and there have been a number of high-profile attacks in Cairo since then.  The regime has responded to the increased threat with heavy-handed tactics, including a controversial new anti-terrorism law, which limit civil liberties and violate a number of basic human rights. Ironically, it may be this very strategy that is leading to increased extremism. ISS

‘He Would Not Accept Censorship’: Egyptian Journalist’s Arrest Signals Sisi’s Growing Anxieties
Through intimidation and arrests, the Egyptian government has in recent years forced independent journalists into such extreme self-censorship that many have fled the country or stopped writing at all. But in the past two months, international incidents, including the accidental deaths of eight Mexican tourists at the hands of Egyptian security forces, and the Oct. 31 Russian plane crash in the restive Sinai Peninsula, have tightened the knot on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s already rigid media crackdown. On Sunday, independent journalist Hossam Bahgat was arrested and charged with “publishing false news that harms national interests and disseminating information that disturbs public peace.” According to Negad al-Borai, the lawyer Bahgat requested, the charges are related to an Oct. 14 article he wrote for Egyptian outlet Mada Masr revealing that in August a military court secretly convicted 26 military officers of plotting a coup to overthrow the current regime. Foreign Policy

Ruling Party Rivalry Deepens in Tunis as MPs Walk Out
Thirty one lawmakers from Tunisia’s ruling Nidaa Tounes party resigned from their parliamentary bloc on Monday, deepening a row over party succession. The secularist Nidaa Tounes, elected to power last year in a vote hailed as a democratic victory after Tunisia’s Arab Spring revolt, has been riven by months of infighting. The deputies who resigned Monday, nearly a week after suspending their membership in the party’s parliamentary bloc, are supporters of Nidaa Tounes secretary general Mohsen Marzouk. Marzouk’s supporters accuse President Beji Caid Essebsi’s son Hafedh of trying to seize control of the party. AFP on Al Arabiya

French Army Seizes Mali Arms Stashes
The French army has seized “significant” caches of weapons during an operation in northern Mali, where it is helping local forces battle jihadists, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday. Around 1,500 French troops are deployed in Mali as part of the fight against Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist groups which took control of the country’s north in 2012. Le Drian, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a security forum in Senegal’s capital Dakar, said the operation targeted “identified trafficking zones” as well as the sites of stashed weapons. He said the operation involved “fairly strong action” but no combat. Large parts of Mali remain beyond the control of government and foreign forces, despite the French-led mission launched in 2013, and last month three French special forces soldiers were wounded in a landmine blast in the north. AFP on Al Arabiya

Three Dead in Fresh CAR Clashes
Clashes between fighters in Central African Republic killed at least three people and wounded five on Monday, a U.N. official and an aid worker said, amid intensifying violence in the country. The latest fighting centred in and around the town of Bambari, much of it controlled for the last year by the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC), a faction of the former Seleka rebel alliance. Central African Republic was plunged into sectarian violence when the mostly Muslim rebel group briefly seized power in the predominantly Christian country in early 2013, prompting a wave of reprisals by the anti-balaka militia. U.N. and French peacekeeping forces have failed to restore calm. “Two people were killed during the fighting in a village 10 kilometres (6 miles) away (from Bambari) and one other died of his injuries,” a U.N. official said on condition of anonymity. IOL News

Djibouti: Court Turns to Farce as Guelleh Lays low
Djibouti opposition leader Abdourahman Boreh will take the stand again today in the London high court as lawyers for the government of President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh accused him of stealing millions from state contracts. But whether anything new will emerge from the cross-examination seems doubtful. Mr Boreh gave evidence across four days last week, but each time he was charged with falsifying conversations in which he claimed to have kept the president informed of the various tenders to expand Djibouti harbour, Boreh set the court laughing with the line, “Why don’t you ask President Guelleh.” Judge Sir Julian Flaux had indeed ordered the president to attend the hearing, but Guelleh refused, saying he was too busy running the country.  Mail and Guardian

Top Chinese General Visits Djibouti amid Base Speculation
A top Chinese military officer visited Djibouti at the weekend, official media reported, prompting a state-run newspaper Tuesday to downplay concerns Beijing is planning to establish a base in the strategically vital African entrepot. The chief of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) general staff, General Fang Fenghui met Djibouti’s president at the weekend, the official PLA news source China Military Online reported. Fang told President Ismail Omar Guelleh that China was willing to “deepen pragmatic cooperation between the two countries and two militaries”, the report paraphrased. Beijing is expanding its military heft and reach as China becomes more powerful, with annual double-digit defence budget increases and its first aircraft carrier entering service. AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria President Buhari Fires Anti-Corruption Chief

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the head of the country’s anti-corruption agency. No reason was given for the removal of Ibrahim Lamorde, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In August, Mr Lamorde denied allegations that $5bn (£3.3bn) had gone missing at the commission. Mr Buhari won Nigeria’s presidential elections in March, promising to fight corruption in the country. In August, a Senate committee said it was investigating charges that assets and cash recovered by the EFCC had been diverted. At the time, Mr Lamorde told the BBC the charges were a smear campaign. He led the EFCC for four years until his dismissal on Monday. BBC

More Sudanese Soldiers Go to Yemen
A 400-strong Sudanese force arrived in Yemen’s port city Aden on Monday in support of pro-government forces preparing to confront a possible new offensive by rebels on the country’s south. Yemen’s loyalist forces, backed by Saudi-led coalition strikes, supplies and troops, pushed the rebels out of Aden as part of an operation launched in July to take back southern territories lost to renegade forces. Four other southern provinces – Lahj, Daleh, Abyan and Shabwa – were also retaken by the forces loyal to President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. News 24

On the Road in Agadez: Desperation and Death Along a Saharan Smuggling Route
You can’t see the road from Agadez in Niger to Libya. You simply drive to the edge of the local airstrip, turn left, fork right, head past the one building on the horizon – a lonely police checkpoint – and that’s it. Only a select few local drivers know which dunes lead across the Sahara and which ones lead to oblivion. And in three days of driving, there are plenty of wrong turnings to make. Yet before they risk death in the Mediterranean Sea, before they cross the battlegrounds of the Libyan civil war, and well before a tiny few of them reach the new security fences at Calais, most migrants from west Africa must pass along this road. Many of them die on it. The Guardian

Bye Bye Ebola! The Feel-Good Video of the Year
[…] The Ebola epidemic ravaged Sierra Leone, infecting 8,704 people and killing 3,589 since the first infection in May 2014. The virus wiped out entire families, devastated communities, and forced people to adapt their traditions, and change their way of life. But Ebola has been defeated. On Saturday, it had been 42 days since any new cases of Ebola were discovered in the country. This, according to the World Health Organisation, means that it is safe to declare the epidemic over. “Thank God it’s gone, a new day has come,” raps Block, in his new video featuring the Freetown Uncut collective. The video is called Bye Bye Ebola, and it might just be the most heart-warming three minutes on the internet. Don’t believe me? Watch it yourself. You will see staff in the Ebola Treatment Centres – fully garbed in their protective rubber suits – dancing in their now-empty wards. You will see policemen twerk at their checkpoints, which were vital to preventing the spread of the disease. You will see burial teams break it down in front of their makeshift hearses. You will see soccer players doing backflips, traders twirling their merchandise, and fishermen nearly over-balancing their wooden boats as they all do Azonto, the West African dance craze. Daily Maverick



Photo: Adam Jones