Media Review for November 13, 2015

Troops Could Be Sent to Burundi if Violence Worsens: U.N.
Key Western powers and the United Nations are discussing the possible deployment of international peacekeepers to Burundi if the violence in the African country spirals into a full-scale ethnic conflict, diplomats said on Wednesday. At least 240 people have been killed and tens of thousands have fled to neighboring states, during months of violence that began when President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April to run for a third term. He won a disputed election in July. The United Nations warned on Monday that Burundi could be facing imminent catastrophe with violence in danger of escalating to atrocities. Burundi said it was “not in flames” and there should be no concerns about an impending genocide.  Reuters on NBC News

U.N. Security Council Seeks to Head Off Mass Atrocities in Burundi
Spurred by fears of mass atrocities, the United Nations Security Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution that calls for a bolstered international presence in Burundi but stops short of sanctions against those who incite violence. The resolution, drafted by France, condemned the latest killings and called for urgent talks between the government and opposition forces. More than 200 people have been killed in Burundi since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he would run for a third term, a move many regarded as unconstitutional. The president won and has rebuffed calls to start talks with opposition forces. The reputation of the United Nations was badly singed by its failure to stop the genocide in neighboring Rwanda in 1994, and then again by its failure to stop the killings in Sri Lanka in 2009. It is under enormous pressure to prevent another outburst of mass killings, especially along ethnic lines. The New York Times

EU to Evacuate Families, Some Staff from Burundi
The European Union is to evacuate the families of staff members as well as some non-essential employees from Burundi after a wave of political violence in the central African nation, officials said Friday. “We have decided to evacuate temporarily the families and part of the non-essential staff but the (EU) delegation will continue functioning normally,” an EU official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “The decision has been taken on the basis of a new risk assessment of the situation in Burundi.”  Daily Mail

AU Body to Meet Friday Over Burundi Crisis
The Peace and Security Council of the African Union plans to meet Friday to review the latest reports on the situation in Burundi, following concerns that the escalating violence could plunge the country into chaos. The turmoil in the Central African country has forced about 210,000 refugees to flee to neighboring countries including Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Both the African Union and the United Nations have warned that if not resolved, the security situation in Burundi could destabilize the country and affect the entire region. But, in a recent interview with VOA, Burundi Foreign Minister Alan Nyamitwe said it’s erroneous for people to conclude that the political and security challenges the country currently faces could lead to genocide similar to what Rwanda experienced in 1994. He denied the country is in flames following escalating violence after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to seek a controversial third term. VOA

Kenya Sends Envoy to Meet Burundi Government and Opposition
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has sent a special envoy to Burundi to meet with the government and opposition leaders to discuss the ongoing crisis. Envoy Joseph Nyagah spent Wednesday and Thursday in Bujumbura to encourage continued dialogue to help end the crisis sparked by the controversial third term of Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza.  RFI

UN Less Equipped for Burundi Crisis than before Rwandan Genocide
Burundi’s political violence threatens to spiral into an ethnic or regional conflict but the UN is less equipped to deal with it than it was in Rwanda before the 1994 genocide, a UN human rights official said on Tuesday. “It’s slipping and sliding we believe, unfortunately, down a very ugly slope,” Scott Campbell, head of Central and West Africa at the U.N. human rights office, told a news conference. At least 252 people have been killed and 200,000 have fled to neighbouring states since President Pierre Nkurunziza decided in April to run for a third term. Three more bodies, hands bound and shot once, were found on Tuesday, Campbell said.  France 24

Leaked Emirati Emails Could Threaten Peace Talks in Libya
The United Arab Emirates was shipping weapons to favored belligerents in Libya over the summer in violation of an international arms embargo while simultaneously offering a highly paid job to the United Nations diplomat drafting a peace accord there, leaked Emirati emails show. The leaked correspondence is threatening to undermine months of Libyan talks by tarring the diplomat with an apparent conflict of interest. The emails also open a new window into the hidden and contradictory machinations of regional players like the United Arab Emirates that have helped inflame the fighting even as their diplomats say they support a peaceful solution. “The fact of the matter is that the U.A.E. violated the U.N. Security Council Resolution on Libya and continues to do so,” Ahmed al-Qasimi, a senior Emirati diplomat, wrote in an email on Aug. 4 to Lana Nusseibeh, the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United Nations. The New York Times

Nigeria Troops Rescue over 60 People, Kill Four Islamists: Army
Nigerian troops killed four suspected Boko Haram suspects and set free 61 people, mainly women and children, held by the jihadist group in the flashpoint northeastern Borno state, the army said Thursday. In an operation, troops under air cover cleared Boko Haram camps “and in the process rescued 61 persons abducted and held captive by the Boko Haram terrorists,” the army said in a statement. “The rescued persons were mainly women and children,” the military said, adding that troops also “killed four terrorists and arrested one.” The Nigerian army had last October 28 also said it freed more than 330 people, mostly women and children, from Boko Haram’s Sambisa forest stronghold in an operation in the volatile northeast. Of the survivors, 192 were children while 138 were women. AFP on Yahoo News

Nigeria Investigating Connection Between Niger Delta Militants And Indigenous People Of Biafra Activists
SaharaReporters has exclusively obtained a leaked confidential memorandum of the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) showing that the office is investigating what are described as the “subversive activities” of the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and their alleged alliance with some Niger Delta militants. The memorandum, which underlines that the operations are in line with the NSA’s directives regarding the confirmation of the alleged activities, references “Special Operations covering the South-East (SE) and the South-South (SS) Geo-political zones” by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). It described conversations between NSA officials and prominent militant leaders and stakeholders in the Niger Delta area. Included in the discussions was King Dodo II of the Bilabiri Mein Kingdom of Bayelsa State, who “acted as an intermediary between the NSA Team and a Militant Group known as Die Bullet Proof,” and the “Ebiril Group.” The memo noted that these groups “control the axis of Azagbene/Egbemo-Anagalbiri territory in Bayelsa State.”  Sahara Reporters

GBissau Releases Ex-military chief Charged over Coup Bid
Guinea-Bissau’s highest court has ordered the release of a former armed forces chief detained for more than three months over suspected involvement in a failed 2012 coup attempt. Jose Zamora Induta, a rear-admiral who was ousted as military chief of staff in 2010, was placed under house arrest after returning from exile in Portugal in July and transferred to an army barracks in September. The Supreme Court ruled late on Wednesday however that the military tribunal which ordered his arrest had no jurisdiction “because the crime for which Zamora must answer is not a crime of a military nature”. “My client is ready to face justice to clarify the charges hanging over his head, but not before a military court that has no legitimacy to judge such cases,” his lawyer Jose Paulo Semedo told AFP on Thursday. Induta remained in Bissau after being forcibly removed by Antonio Indjai but eventually fled to former colonial power Portugal after Indjai led a coup in April 2012.  AFP on Yahoo News

CAR Catholics Look to Papal Visit for Salvation
Fervent Roman Catholics in the Central African Republic, faced with almost daily killings, are counting on Pope Francis to help save their battered nation when he is scheduled to visit late in November. “If we take the number of countries there are in the world… we stand for nothing with the desolate spectacle we offer. But it’s in this bloody mess that the pope wants to stay. I tell myself that God wants to lead us to salvation,” a member of the transitional administration told AFP, asking not to be named. Dozens of people have been killed in past weeks and scores of homes torched and looted in a recent flare-up of sectarian clashes in the capital Bangui between vigilantes of the Christian majority and the Muslim minority population of the former French colony. Francis, 78, is scheduled to tour a camp for people displaced by the violence and visit a mosque in one of the most dangerous areas of Bangui before celebrating mass in a stadium.  Africa Review

Why are Salafi Islamists Contesting Egypt’s Election?
On Oct. 17, Egypt began its first election cycle since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in 2013, and only one religious party, the Salafi al-Nour Party, is officially participating. While Nour performed poorly in the first round of voting – winning only 10 out of 209 seats – its participation is significant as this will be the first time in the country’s history that the Muslim Brotherhood is not the leading religious opposition since its founding in 1928. And yet, despite this historic event, there is virtually no serious commentary by the country’s leading Salafis about the elections themselves, even as the country heads for the second round of voting Nov. 21 when, it would seem, Nour could use all the support it can get. Why this silence? Salafi groups continue to understand politics principally outside the parliamentary process. More precisely, it is not political power per se that interests them, but rather that the governance of a country accommodates their distinct interpretation of Islam. Muslim Brotherhood Islamists, at their core, adhere to a political ideology whose aim is to assert the influence of Islam in politics and society by any means, often citing a wider canon of Islamic and secondary literature and engaging with modern institutions. The New York Times

South Sudan Says Rebel Will Attend Peace Summit in Capital
South Sudan’s government said on Thursday it would meet rebel leader Riek Machar at a regional peace conference in its capital Juba next week, almost two years since he left the city at the start of the civil war. There was no immediate comment from Machar’s camp on whether he would attend the meeting to discuss implementation of a peace deal, which has already been marred by accusations from both sides of ceasefire violations. The world’s newest nation plunged into conflict in December 2013 after a political row between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Machar. Fighting has often followed the ethnic fault line between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer people, and Machar has not been seen in the capital since. Reuters

South Sudan Says Not Ready to Receive SPLM-IO Advance Team
South Sudanese government said it is not ready to receive the advance team from the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) under the leadership of the first vice-president designate, Riek Machar, saying the leadership in Juba is yet to make the necessary preparations for the reception of the team. SPLM-IO leadership earlier announced they were selecting 500 officials of the movement to be sent to Juba and other nine states by mid-November in order to mobilize and sensitize the populations on the implementation of the peace agreement signed with president Salva Kiir in August to end the 21 months long civil war in the country.  Sudan Tribune

Doubts Plague Congo’s Latest Demobilisation Programme
A major new attempt to return thousands of rebel fighters to civilian life in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been beset by delays and is still threatened by funding constraints and continuing insecurity, according to analysts, who also point to broader governance problems. Congo has yet to recover from major civil wars that claimed millions of lives between 1996 and 2008. Dozens of armed groups remain active in the east of the country. Almost 5,000 former combatants – out of a targeted 12,000 – are enrolled in a third programme of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, or DDRIII, and are now in two demobilisation centres. Many of them surrendered to government forces back in 2013, well before the programme began, because they feared a major army offensive in the east of the country. It was only in May of this year that the initial phases of DDRIII got off the ground. Participants have already received training in literacy and civic education, as well as psychosocial support.  IRIN

Europe Fund to Tackle African Migration ‘Not Enough’
The $1.9bn (£1.2bn) European fund to tackle African migration is not sufficient, several African leaders have said after crisis talks with their European counterparts. It was one of several measures European and African leaders agreed to reduce the flow of people into Europe. The leaders said their aim was to “address the root causes of migration”. The Europe-Africa meeting was planned after around 800 migrants died when their boat sank off Libya in April. Senegal’s President Macky Sall, who currently heads the West African regional group Ecowas, told journalists on the sidelines of the summit that the money pledged was “not enough for the whole of Africa”. Later, at the closing press conference, he said he was pleased with the trust fund, but said he would like to see it “more generously financed”.  BBC

US lifts Liberia Sanctions Citing Democratic Progress
US President Barack Obama on Thursday ended sanctions against the West African nation of Liberia originally put in place by former President George W. Bush’s 2004 executive order. “The United States congratulates the people of Liberia for their determination, ingenuity and commitment to peace and democracy that has made this possible,” said Ned Price, the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) spokesperson, in a statement. The 2004 executive order activating sanctions was a response to former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s actions, deemed a national security threat to the US and its interests. The NSC spokesperson added that the move was a response to positive developments in the country since Taylor stepped down.  Deutsche Welle

African Standby Force to be Operational by Early Next Year
Why does Africa need a standby, continental army that can parachute into hotspots at a moment’s notice? For South African Navy Captain Jaco Theunissen, the answer can be boiled down to just a few words: Mali. The Central African Republic. Congo. “It’s specifically because of those interventions,” Theunissen told VOA News. “… The feeling is that Africa should send their own African force instead of bringing the United Nations to come and do peace support operations. Let it be an African standby force doing the African peace support operations.” The 25,000-strong African Standby Force, under the auspices of the African Union, aims to do just that. The force right now includes service members from Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. VOA

Exiled Congo Opposition Figure Shot in Paris Suburb
An exiled Republic of Congo opposition figure was shot and badly injured by a gunman this week in a northwest Paris suburb, a judicial source said on Thursday. Ferdinand Mbaou, a 59-year-old former colonel, was attacked by “an individual who shot him in the back near his home”, said the chief prosecutor in Pontoise, Yves Jannier. The gunman escaped. Mbaou headed presidential security under former head of state Pascal Lissouba, who was ousted in a 1997 coup by current President Denis Sassou Nguesso. Sassou Nguesso has since been elected to two consecutive terms in office and is expected to bid for a third next year following a controversial referendum last month changing the constitution to enable him to extend his rule. News 24

Zanzibar Annuls Recent Election, New Vote Expected
The semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar annulled October’s elections and a new vote appears likely despite continued negotiations to strike a political deal with Tanzania’s mainland. Despite fierce opposition criticism, the government formalised the nullification of the October 25 polls on Wednesday after the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) cited “violations of electoral law”. The annulment came after a key candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF), declared himself the winner before the results were officially announced. Hamad and incumbent President Ali Mohamed Shein from the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) have met at least twice in a bid to resolve the crisis, media reports say. A government statement said Shein would remain in charge until new elections. Al Jazeera

Trajectories of Terrorist & Armed Groups in Africa
To block the spread of recruitment and radicalization in West Africa, African policymakers and their partners should seize the window of opportunity to support preventative measures in as-yet untouched communities. The Africa Center’s Dr. Benjamin P. Nickels, Academic Chair for Transnational Threats and Counterterrorism, offered these observations while participating as a speaker at a recent Woodrow Wilson Center event entitled “Present & Future Trajectories of Terrorist Groups and Armed Non-State Actors in Africa.” Africa Center for Strategic Studies

More Than 30 Mafia Suspects Probed for Arms Trafficking to Africa
Police on Thursday carried out raids across Italy on the orders of Naples anti-mafia judges probing more than 30 suspects for trafficking weaponry to Somalia and other conflict-wracked African countries. The raids took place in Naples, in locations in the Lazio region surrounding Rome, in the northeastern Veneto region and in the northern Piedmont region, police said. Police uncovered machine-guns and light weapons during the raids and also seized documents and computers, Italian daily La Repubblica reported. The suspects allegedly trafficked mainly Italian-made jet components, helicopters, machine-guns other weapons and recruited mercenaries, investigators said. They include former ambassadors, middlemen and former soldiers and businessmen with links to the Naples’ mafia’s powerful Casalesi clan. Adnkronos International on Stars and Stripes

Kenyan Army Profiting from Illicit Trade that Props up Al-Shabaab
Kenya’s military has been accused of taking a cut of the illegal sugar and charcoal trade in Somalia that provides the bulk of funding for terror group al-Shabaab which it is meant to be fighting. A report by Journalists for Justice, a Nairobi-based civil society group, claims the Kenyan Defence Forces (KDF), which receive training from the British army, earned around $50 million (£33 million) a year from taxing the goods travelling through the port of Kismayo, close to the Kenyan border, where it has a base. It said that despite the avowed seriousness of the Kenyan military campaign in Somalia follow attacks by al-Shabaab on its soil that have cost 400 lives, its senior commanders were abetting the al Qaeda-inspired group through corruption while its foot soldiers sat in their bases. One diplomat quoted in the report described the illicit trade in sugar and charcoal, which is thought to be worth between $200 to $400 million annually, as “shocking” and “inimical to national security”.  The Telegraph

U.S. and Other Western Nations pledge to Help Kenya Fight Graft
The United States, Britain and nine other countries pledged on Thursday to help Kenya to try to beat corruption, promising to step up efforts to prevent funds leaving the country and pushing for those who commit graft to be prosecuted. Fresh cases of brazen sleaze, including disclosures that one ministry spent public funds on buying sex toys and $85 ball point pens, have led to public and media calls for resignations and put further pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta to tackle Kenya’s rampant corruption. Saying Kenya faced a “corruption crisis,” ambassadors from 11 mainly Western countries issued a statement pledging to help return stolen assets to Kenya and impose travel restrictions on those responsible for graft. Reuters

‘Anti-graft Crusader’ Arrested in Malawi
A former Malawian civil servant once hailed as an anti-graft crusader has been charged along with 16 other officials in the country’s widening “Cashgate” scandal, a court spokesperson said Thursday. The multi-million-dollar scandal prompted foreign donors – who provide around 40% of impoverished Malawi’s budget – to pull the plug on aid worth around $150m. Paul Mphwiyo, the former budget director at the finance ministry, was among 17 suspects charged with a raft of graft offences and theft of $4m in the Cashgate affair, which originated in 2005. Mphwiyo was shot outside his house and badly injured two years ago when he was reported to be about to expose a network of corrupt officials.  News 24



Photo: Adam Jones