Media Review for November 18, 2015

Boko Haram Overtakes Isis as World’s Deadliest Terror Organisation
Boko Haram has overtaken Isis as the world’s most deadly terrorist organisation, according to a new report. The Nigerian-based terror group, also known as Islamic State’s West’s Africa province (ISWAP), was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014. In comparison, Isis is believed to have killed 6,073 people in the same period. Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the group, also known as the Islamic State, in March of this year. […] Boko Haram carries out most of its atrocities in north Africa. Over the past year, Nigeria witnessed a 300 per cent rise in fatalities from terror acts to 7,512. This is the largest increase in terrorist-caused deaths ever recorded by any country, and is predominantly down to Boko Haram’s expansion. In 2013, Nigeria ranked fifth in terms of the highest levels of deaths, but moved to second last year. The Independent

Nigeria Blast: ‘More than 30′ Dead in Yola Explosion
An explosion in the Nigerian city of Yola has caused multiple deaths and injuries, with some reports saying more than 30 people may have died. The blast appears to have struck a busy market area where traders were closing up for the day. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited Yola on Saturday, declaring that the Islamist militant movement Boko Haram was close to defeat. Yola has twice been hit by deadly bomb attacks this year. The city lies in the northern state of Adamawa, one of the worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency. BBC

Nigeria: Many More People Killed Despite Unprecedented N1.48 Trillion Arms Spending
Nigeria has recorded more deaths from insurgency and violent crimes in the last four years than before, despite spending an unprecedented N1.488 trillion on armaments between 2011 and 2014, a PREMIUM TIMES analysis has shown. While N369 billion was spent in 2011, N365 billion, N381 billion and N374 billion were spent in 2012, 2013 and 2014, respectively for the purchase of the security equipment — mostly arms and ammunition — across the major law enforcement departments of the country. Offices reviewed are the Office of the National Security Adviser, Ministries of Defence, Interior, and the Police. Together, they received a total budgetary allocation of N3.69 trillion within the period. The N1.488 trillion spent on arms formed about 40 per cent of the entire N3.69 trillion security budget. The security budget was about 20 per cent of Nigeria’s entire budget within the period. Premium Times on allAfrica

Nigeria: Buhari’s Cabinet – Solid Choices, but Too Few Women and Too Elitist
Nigeria’s new cabinet, perhaps the most awaited in the history of constitutional democracy in Africa, has finally been sworn in. The wait involved at first a shocking and unexplained silence, and then the release of a partial list which was approved by the Senate in October, a full 131 days after the president was sworn in. Ministers apparently got to know of their respective portfolios 35 days later. It was shambolic. Clearly the governing party had not listened to the message delivered on behalf of Tony Blair, former UK prime minister, about the importance of the first 100 days of office. In a keynote address at a special two-day policy dialogue held in Abuja immediately after the party secured victory in May 2015, Blair, through his former advisor Peter Mandelson, said: You will have more good will and more authority to do the difficult things at the beginning of your term than at the end. The Conversation on allAfrica

Nigeria Hit by Severe Fuel Shortage Amid Payment Row
A severe fuel crisis has hit Nigeria with long queues of angry motorists waiting for hours outside petrol stations in major cities to fill up. Importers are accused of withholding petrol because of a payment dispute with the government, which they deny. This is the biggest fuel shortage in Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May. Nigeria is Africa’s main oil exporter but imports most of its petrol because it lacks the capacity to refine it.  BBC

France Requests European support in Syria, Iraq, Africa
France invoked the European Union’s mutual assistance clause for the first time on Tuesday, asking its partners for military help and other aid in missions in the Middle East and Africa after the Paris attacks. The unexpected move to look to the European Union for help, rather than the U.S.-led NATO alliance, requires all of the bloc’s 28 members to provide “aid and assistance”, which Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said meant taking some of the burden off France as Europe’s most active military power. “France cannot do everything, in the Sahel, in the Central African Republic, in the Levant and then secure its national territory,” Le Drian told a news conference during a meeting of EU defence ministers in Brussels where he invoked the EU’s Article 42.7 mutual assistance clause. French troops have been deployed in Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad in the Sahel area of west Africa. Reuters

Tunisia Confronts Corruption, the Economy and Islamic State
There is only one happy story to emerge from the tumult of the Arab spring of 2011. While its neighbours succumbed to chaos, violence and renewed authoritarianism, Tunisia, the first Arab country to oust its dictator, remained on the path to peaceful democracy. There were setbacks along the way, but in 2014 the country held free and fair general and presidential elections, and adopted a relatively liberal constitution. Its reward was the Nobel peace prize, presented in October to four civil-society organisations that helped keep Tunisia on track. The prize, said the Nobel committee, was also an encouragement for Tunisia to stay the course. But a month later, the country looks rather wobbly. A rift in the dominant political party threatens to destabilise the government, which was already struggling to jump-start an economy plagued by corruption, red tape and two big attacks on foreign tourists claimed by Islamic State this year  The Economist

Tanzania Hails ‘Miracle’ of Miners Rescued after 41 days Underground
Five miners have been rescued in Tanzania after surviving for up to 41 days underground by eating cockroaches and frogs and drinking drips of muddy groundwater. A total of 20 miners are thought to have been trapped on October 5 after their shaft filled with sand as they dug for gold in an abandoned mine in the northwestern Shinyanga region, some 500 miles west of Dar es Salaam. Fourteen escaped but six others remained trapped. Yesterday, five of them were brought out dehydrated and thin but alive in what mining officials described as a “miracle”. One other man was discovered dead.  The Telegraph

In Ivory Coast, a President’s Push to Redefine Citizenship is Personal
[…] Earlier this year, President Ouattara indicated that if re-elected, he would push for constitutional reform that would expand the parameters of Ivorian citizenship. The concept of “Ivoirité,” or Ivorian nationality, is one that Ouattara also has had to grapple with. For years, he was denied the chance to run for the presidency because of an article in the Constitution that excludes the children of immigrants from holding the top office. Indeed, it is this particular article 35 that the president announced he would tackle first in expanding the scope of citizenship, making the national issue of statelessness also a personal one. “I want to seize this opportunity to have a constitution which is more coherent,” Ouattara said in an interview with the Associated Press after his re-election in October. “I want a constitution that is modern, that is coherent, and that will respect the rule of law.” CS Monitor

Armed Opposition Accuses S. Sudanese Gov’t of Renewed Attacks
Armed opposition faction (SPLA-IO) led by former vice-president, Riek Machar, have accused government forces of renewing attacks on their positions in Unity state in violation of the ceasefire agreement they signed in August with president Salva Kiir. Opposition leader’s spokesman on Monday said their forces came under surprise attack in the morning hours of Monday in violation of the ceasefire agreement. “Our base at Tuochluak was attacked on Monday by government forces coming out from Nhialdiu town. It is unfortunate that Juba regime has continued to violate the ceasefire despite the peace agreement to end the war,” James Gatdet Dak, spokesman for the opposition leader, Machar, said in a press statement he issued on Tuesday. Sudan Tribune

Kagame May Rule Until 2034
Rwandan President Paul Kagame would be able to run for a third term in 2017 and potentially stay in power until 2034, thanks to a constitutional amendment passed by the country’s Senate on Tuesday despite the opposition slamming the move as undemocratic. “We are happy to vote for the lifting of the presidential term limits as requested by the people,” Senate President Bernard Makuza told dpa. The possibility of changing the constitution had already been approved by the lower house of Parliament and the Supreme Court. The amendment, which is still to be confirmed by a referendum, cuts the presidential term from seven to five years and maintains the current two-term limit, the weekly Jeune Afrique reported. News 24

US Condemns Rwandan Move to Allow Kagame Third term
The United States on Tuesday condemned a vote by Rwandan lawmakers to approve a change to their constitution to allow President Paul Kagame to serve a third term. A State Department spokesman did not explicitly threaten that US aid to its traditionally close African friend would be cut, but warned ties could be reviewed. The Rwandan senate’s decision to approve an amendment to the constitution must still go to a referendum, but is seen as likely to pass with little opposition. “The United States notes with great concern the Rwandan senate’s vote today,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington. AFP on Yahoo News

Civil Society Role Urged in Burundi Talks
A Burundian civil society leader has called on the international community to help strengthen Burundian civil society groups so that they can effectively play their role as the voices of the people. Deogratias Niyonkuru, secretary general of ADISCO, a Burundian NGO that organizes farmers to mobilize resources for their own development, said civil society has a major role to play in the ongoing efforts to find an amicable solution to the country’s crisis. This comes as the international community has called for an all-inclusive dialogue between the government and the opposition. Niyonkuru said participation by civil society groups is needed because too often peace talks are represented by the extreme views of the government and the opposition without the voices of the people. VOA

Burundi Open to Dialogue With Opposition
A senior Burundi official says his country’s government is willing to start a dialogue with the opposition, following calls for such talks by U.S. President Barack Obama and the United Nations. Willy Nyamitwe, a senior adviser to Burundi’s president, told VOA’s Central Africa service Monday that a dialogue could take place either inside or outside the country. He offered few other details about the possible talks. Nyamitwe said the government has already appointed a national commission for dialogue. “It is like President Barack Obama had read the mind of Burundi’s leaders. You know that the government has for a long time advocated for dialogue, as it believes that any political solution to Burundi’s problems will come out of dialogue,” he said.  VOA

DRC Gets New Electoral Commission Chiefs
President Joseph Kabila has sworn in new chiefs of the electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo a year ahead of planned polls, state television reported on Tuesday. Corneille Nangaa, Norbert Basengezi and Pierrette Mwenze were respectively made president, vice-president and quaestor – or treasury officer – of the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI), according to a decree. The appointments follow successive resignations of previous top CENI officials at a time of political upheaval, since opponents of Kabila, in power since 1991, believe he is seeking a means to stand for office again despite a constitutional ban. News 24

Military ‘President’ Rules over Vast Chunk of C. Africa
Small and wiry with a Bin Laden-style beard, General Mahamat Al Khatim is absolute master of a vast region in northern Central African Republic, far from the reach of the capital Bangui. Al Khatim, whose public appearances are a show of power and wealth in one of Africa’s poorest and most battered nations, is one of the warlords who emerged from the Seleka (“Alliance”) of mainly Muslim rebels that toppled president Francois Bozize in 2013. Known as “the president” across territory south of the border with Chad, the general’s trips through Kabo, his dusty “capital,” are spectacular. Nobody would dare not to turn out and applaud, despite being regularly robbed by his men. Sunday Times of Sri Lanka

Senegal Bans Burqas
The West African nation of Senegal says it’s banning the most conservative Islamic apparel worn by women. The move announced on Tuesday by Interior Minister Abdoulaye Daouda prohibits women from wearing burqas where only their eyes can be seen. It comes as Senegal confronts the growing risk of the Islamic extremists of Boko Haram. Already four imams accused of links to the Nigeria-based insurgent group have been arrested. Daouda says the law is not anti-Islamic as Senegal is a Muslim majority nation. Instead he says it’s a question of national security. News 24

Khartoum, Cairo in Diplomatic Row over Shooting of 15 Migrants
A diplomatic row has erupted between Sudan and Egypt following reports that 15 illegal Sudanese migrants were killed while crossing the border from Egypt to Israel. According to Egyptian state-owned media reports, the Sudanese nationals were shot dead by Egyptian police on Sunday in the troubled Sinai peninsula as they attempted to cross into Israel. The Egyptian government has not officially commented on the reports. The Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs spokesman Ali al-Sadig said they have asked the Egyptian authorities to confirm whether the reports were true. He warned that the Sudanese government will not tolerate any humiliation of Sudanese nationals in Egypt. ”We will not allow anybody to humiliate the Sudanese people; we are in close contact with our embassy in Cairo to monitor the situation of the Sudanese people there,” Mr Al-Sadig told reporters in Khartoum. The East African

Egypt Plane Crash: Russia Says Jet was Bombed in Terror Attack
A homemade bomb brought down the Metrojet airliner over Egypt’s Sinai desert last month, the Kremlin has said, confirming for the first time that the plane was destroyed by a terrorist act. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, vowed to find and punish those responsible and ordered an increase in airstrikes on Syria as “inevitable retribution” for the attack that killed all 224 people on board, mainly returning Russian holidaymakers. Egypt denied reports that two employees at Sharm el-Sheikh airport had been arrested in connection with the bombing. The final flights clearing British tourists from the Red Sea resort left on Tuesday. Russia previously distanced itself from the assertions of other countries, including Britain, that a bomb was almost certainly responsible for bringing down the Airbus A321 plane. The Guardian

The Battle for Uganda’s ‘Museveni Babies’
[…] After nearly 30 years at the helm, Museveni is facing his toughest race yet. On the ballot will be the president’s longtime political ally, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who also served as the secretary-general of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) until he was fired last year. Museveni also faces a challenge from Kizza Besigye, who was the president’s personal physician during the Bush War that brought him to power. Besigye has run unsuccessfully against Museveni in the last three elections. The strategies of all three candidates have focused on recruiting young voters by exploiting the main crisis facing Museveni babies — a lack of jobs and economic opportunity for young people. Besigye, who led widespread “Walk to Work” protests against high fuel and food prices in 2011, has made it clear that his campaign will be one of defiance. He held a symbolic post-nomination rally at the Nakivubo War Memorial Stadium in Kampala’s Central Business District, which saw violent protests back in 2011. According to Human Rights Watch, at least nine people were killed in those protests, which were led by Besigye and involved mostly unemployed youths. (Opposition sources say that dozens of people were killed.) Since then, the outspoken opposition leader has been the target of regular arrests and beatings by the police under Uganda’s draconian Public Order Management Act — ironically pushed through by Mbabazi before his own fallout with Museveni.  Foreign Policy

El Nino Sending Droughts and Floods to Africa
El Nino, which is sparked by a rise in sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, has caused drought in several parts of Africa. The worst affected country is Ethiopia, which is suffering its severest drought in 30 years. Ethiopia has a population of 90 million of which eight million need food aid. That figure could rise to 15 million by early 2016, the United Nations says, as failed rains during both the spring and summer have created food and water shortages. The Ethiopian government has said it would start distributing 222,000 tonnes of wheat this month and plans to import almost double that amount if the scale of the food shortage does not diminish. The government and aid agencies say Ethiopia needs $600 million to cope with the crisis.  Deutsche Welle

France to Pay Fees for Garissa University Terror Attack Survivors
The French government will pay school fees for a year for 109 Garissa University College students who survived the April 2 al Shabaab massacre. The students will also be given a living allowance, the French Embassy said, adding Ambassador Rémi Maréchaux will visit Moi University in Eldoret on Thursday. Students who survived the attack in which 147 were killed and at least 67 others injured were transferred to the campus. In a statement to newsrooms on Tuesday, the Embassy said Maréchaux will hand the aid in a show of solidarity to students who had not received any financial support. “France and Kenya are facing the same enemy – fanaticism and extremism – that lead young French and Kenyans towards terrorism,” the Embassy said. The Star

Fed Suspense Grips Africa Central Banks in Final Policy Move
Central banks at three corners of Africa have a last chance in coming days to prepare their economies for any liftoff in U.S. interest rates as they grapple with policy already complicated by record-low currencies. Ghana unexpectedly increased its benchmark interest rate and Mozambique raised its rate for a second consecutive month on Monday against a backdrop of heightened speculation that the Federal Reserve will lift borrowing costs for the first time in nine years in December. South Africa and Kenya will each set monetary policy this week, while in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, the central bank will hold its final meeting of the year next Tuesday. From Ghana to Zambia, African currencies have been among the worst hit by a slide in investor sentiment toward emerging and frontier



Photo: Adam Jones