Media Review for October 5, 2015

Nigeria’s Abuja Hit by Blasts with at Least 18 Dead
A series of explosions on the outskirts of the Nigerian capital Abuja have killed at least 18 people, officials say. The first two struck Kuje township: one by a suicide bomber near a police station, the other a bomb at a market. Another bomb exploded at a bus stop in Nyanya. No group has said it carried out the attacks yet but suspicion has fallen on Boko Haram Islamists, who targeted Nyanya last year. The militants, who are fighting to carve out an Islamist state, has mostly focused their campaign on the north-east.  BBC

Militants Loyal to Islamic State Claim Suicide Bombings in Nigerian Capital
Militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State said they were behind suicide bombings near the Nigerian capital Abuja which killed at least 15 people, a statement on Twitter said on Sunday. On Friday, suicide bombers attacked two suburbs of Abuja. President Muhammadu Buhari had blamed Boko Haram, which has waged a six-year campaign to carve out an Islamist state in northern Nigeria, for the Abuja attack. But militants claiming loyalty to Islamic State said they had conducted the suicide bombings, according to the statement. The authenticity of the statement, which did not mention Boko Haram and was issued under the name Islamic State West Africa, could not be verified.  Reuters

Nigeria Has Deteriorated into a Major Humanitarian Crisis
Amid similar announcements made by his European counterparts, Secretary of State John Kerry, announced that the U.S. would accept 85,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 and 100,000 by 2017.  This, no doubt, is welcomed news. Yet, while we celebrate this extension of good will to Syria’s refugees, there is another conflict that rages on with little attention to the humanitarian crisis it has wrought. In Nigeria, humanitarian interventions remain woefully under-resourced by the international community, leaving Nigerian civilians and churches to fill the void unsupported. The international community must and can do more. UN Dispatch

Nigeria’s ex-Oil Minister Alison-Madueke Arrested in London – Sources
Nigeria’s former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke was arrested in London on Friday, a source from Nigeria’s presidency circle and another with links to her family said. Alison-Madueke was minister from 2010 until May 2015 under former president Goodluck Jonathan, who was defeated by Muhammadu Buhari at the polls in March. Buhari took office in May promising to root out corruption in Africa’s most populous country, where few benefit from the OPEC member’s enormous energy resources. A police spokesman in London said he had no record of such an arrest. The National Crime Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  Reuters

Suicide Bomber in Niger Kills at Least 7 People
A suspected Islamic extremist in southeastern Niger detonated his explosives when confronted by a policeman Sunday morning, killing the officer and at least six civilians in a town targeted numerous times by jihadists this year. There was no immediate claim of responsibility though suspicion fell upon Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based extremist group that has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and carried out scores of attacks in neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad in recent months. Aboubacar Halilou said Sunday that he was coming out his house in the town of Diffa around 8 a.m. when he saw four young men walk past.  AP on Stars and Stripes

At Least 8 Klled in Burundi Capital, Residents Say Police Behind Killings
At least eight people died in shootings in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura overnight, an administrator said, and explosions rang out in several districts, the latest in a series of attacks to hit the city since a disputed presidential election. Local residents told Reuters the police were behind the killings and had been accompanied by unarmed members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party’s youth wing – Imbonerakure – who stole items such as mobile phones from houses. Residents also said most of the dead were civilians and that some had been found with their hands tied behind their backs. Deputy Police Spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye denied that officers had been involved in the killings and said those responsible were criminals whom the police were pursuing. Reuters

Kigali-Bujumbura buses, Once Full, Now Empty as Burundi’s Hunt for ‘Rebels’ Frightens Rwandans
Buses to Burundi from neighbouring Rwanda used to be full, but nowadays they struggle for passengers: a reflection of tensions amid accusations Kigali is backing a rebellion against Bujumbura. Checkpoints on the roads from Rwanda have sprung up, with passengers regularly taken off buses and accused of being part of a rebel army Burundi’s government accuses Rwanda of harbouring on its soil. “If you are young you are routinely arrested,” said Jacques, who works for a Rwandan bus operator. Burundi, where a 13-year civil war between Tutsis and Hutus ended in 2006, has been rocked by violence since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza launched his successful but highly controversial bid for a third term in power. It sparked an attempted coup and months of civil unrest led by opposition groups, who said it was in defiance of the constitution and the Arusha accords which ended the war. Tightly-controlled Rwanda—which has a similar ethnic makeup to Burundi—is seen as a safe place for those who oppose the government in Bujumbura.  AFP on Mail and Guardian

Rwanda Protests ICGLR’s Bid to Broker Peace Deal with Burundi
An offer by the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) to mediate dispute between Rwanda and Burundi has been rebuffed by authorities in Kigali. The ICGLR overture came last week during a meeting of regional foreign affairs ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where a decision was reached to send a fact-finding mission to defuse tension between the two countries. Angolan Foreign Affairs Minister Georges Chikoti, who chairs the ICGLR Council of Ministers, told reporters that Burundi blamed Rwanda for supporting insurgency on its territory, violating the region’s mutual security and defence agreements on non-aggression. Tension between the two countries has been building up over the past few months. Bujumbura has accused Kigali of backing opponents of President Pierre Nkurunziza and providing refuge to the generals who attempted to overthrow his regime. The East African

Region Clinches Major Security Deals amid SDG Talks
East Africa clinched major regional security deals at the Sustainable Development Goals conference in New York last week as global efforts to contain terror and alleviate poverty gathered momentum. The highlight of the deals was a commitment by China to set up an 8,000-strong peacekeeping force and to give the African Union $100 million to support peace efforts such as those by the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), where Kenyan, Ugandan and Burundian soldiers are deployed. The UK also said it would send 70 troops to Somalia to reinforce the AU forces fighting Al Shabaab, adding that a further 300 will go to South Sudan to help stabilise the country, where civil war broke out in December 2013, barely two years into Independence from Sudan. Although the US said it would not join the UK in sending troops, President Barack Obama committed to increase logistical and material support to UN forces in Africa and elsewhere, estimated at 120,000 worldwide.  The East African

South Sudan’s Civil War Claims More Lives after President ‘Violates’ Peace Deal
One of the world’s bloodiest conflicts claimed more lives on Sunday after the President of South Sudan was accused of “violating” a peace agreement by unilaterally creating 28 new states. At a stroke, President Salva Kiir announced that South Sudan’s 10 existing states would be divided into 28. The government said this decree would come into effect immediately, without requiring approval from parliament. South Sudan has endured almost two years of civil war between Mr Kiir’s government and a rebel movement led by Riek Machar, a former vice-president. The fighting has claimed tens of thousands of lives and driven 2.2 million people from their homes – 20 per cent of the entire population. The Telegraph

Scores Killed as South Sudan Factions Resume Fighting
Fifty-two soldiers and rebels have been killed in recent fighting in South Sudan’s contested state of Unity, said a military official Saturday, blaming rebels for the latest violation of a peace deal signed last month. Rebel forces have attacked positions held by government troops, killing 14 of them and wounding 42 others, military spokesman Col. Philip Aguer told The Associated Press. Government troops have killed 38 rebels and have captured two others along with 50 rocket-propelled grenades, he said. The clashes, which started Monday and continued Friday, took place in Leer and Koch, he said. The death toll of 52 was for fighting in Koch and not Leer, which government troops had to abandon under intense fire from the rebels. Aguer gave no civilian death toll from the fighting.  AP on ABC News

Displaced and Hungry after South Sudan’s Peace Deal
Cradles and baskets balanced on their heads, thousands of women and children streamed in from the bush to two outposts in the swamps of Koch county in Unity state, the heart of South Sudan’s civil war. “I came here because at home we have nothing – no food,” said Nyapar Kueth, lining up in Koch town with hundreds of colourfully robed women to receive sacks of grain from the World Food Programme (WFP). “We have been eating the fruits from the trees.” In August, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his rival, former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer, signed a peace agreement to end what is now 21 months of fighting. Tens of thousands have been killed in South Sudan’s civil war, which largely pits Dinka against Nuer, and more than two million have been displaced, according to the UN.   Al Jazeera

CAR President Calls for Tougher UN Mandate
Central African Republic’s interim President Catherine Samba-Panza called on Saturday for a tougher mandate for the UN mission, Minusca, and the disarmament of militias and rebels after more than 40 people were killed in the capital of Bangui. Samba-Panza, who returned early from the UN General Assembly in New York this week because of the unrest, also declared three days of national mourning for the victims, starting on Monday. The murder of a Muslim man last weekend rekindled sectarian violence that has plagued the mostly Christian nation of 4.5 million people since Muslim Seleka rebels briefly seized power in March 2013.  News 24

Billions From U.S. Fail to Sustain Foreign Forces
With alarming frequency in recent years, thousands of American-trained security forces in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia have collapsed, stalled or defected, calling into question the effectiveness of the tens of billions of dollars spent by the United States on foreign military training programs, as well as a central tenet of the Obama administration’s approach to combating insurgencies. If there is a bright spot in the training landscape, it may be the American-financed effort by a 22,000-member African Union force — from nations like Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia — to oust the Shabab, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, from many areas of the country. […]  Advertisement Continue reading the main story The American government has invested nearly $1 billion in the overall strategy in Somalia. But even with the gains, the Shabab have been able to carry out bombings in Mogadishu, the capital, and in neighboring countries, including massacres at a university and a shopping mall in Kenya in the past two years. The New York Times

Clashes in Guinea as Tension Mounts Ahead of Presidential Vote
Opposition supporters clashed with activists from the ruling party in southeastern Guinea, leaving “numerous” people injured, medics and witnesses said Saturday, as tension mounts in the west African country ahead of next week’s presidential election.  At least 16 people were admitted to hospital with bullet wounds following the unrest in the city of N’Zerekore, a hospital source told AFP, adding that six others came in with injuries caused by sticks and stones. In another hospital in Guinea’s second-largest city, a source spoke of “around a dozen young people” injured. It marks the second major outbreak of violence in the run-up to the October 11 polls, after rival factions clashed in the northern town of Koundara in late September. At least 17 people were injured then, according to witnesses and security sources.  AFP on Yahoo News

Tensions Flare Between Guinea-Bissau President and New Premier
Guinea-Bissau’s president on Saturday accused the new prime minister of overstepping his constitutional bounds by claiming the right to name the cabinet, suggesting a months-old political crisis in the coup-prone West African state is not over. President Jose Maria Vaz said in a statement it was the head of state’s prerogative to decided the structure of the cabinet and review the names proposed for ministerial appointments by his prime minister. “The statement of the prime minister, Carlos Correia, concerning the submission of the list for a new cabinet is unconstitutional,” Vaz said, after Correia submitted a list. The comments marked the first flaring of tensions between Vaz and veteran politician Correia, who was sworn into office in the former Portuguese colony on Sept. 17 in a bid to end a political standoff that had sown fears of Guinea-Bissau slipping back towards chaos after a 2012 coup. Reuters

Tunisia Lifts State of Emergency Imposed after Beach Attack
A state of emergency imposed in Tunisia after a jihadist gunman massacred 38 foreign tourists in June is set to be lifted, the president’s office announced Friday. “The state of emergency announced on July 4 and extended on July 31 ends today, October 2,” Beji Caid Essebsi’s office said. “It had been extended for two months and this period ends” at midnight, presidency spokesman Moez Sinaoui told AFP, without elaborating. France 24

Libyan Red Crescent says Bodies of 95 Migrants Washed Ashore
The bodies of at least 95 migrants have been found washed ashore in Libya over the past five days, a spokesperson for Libya’s Red Crescent said on Sunday. Mohamed al-Masrati said Red Crescent scouts found 85 of the corpses near Libya’s capital Tripoli and 10 near Sabartha, a Libyan coastal city that is a main launching point for smugglers’ boats headed to Europe. He says most of the deceased are migrants from other African countries and search efforts continue. Thousands of migrants seeking a better life in Europe cast off from Libya on rickety boats, hoping to reach Italy. The International Organisation for Migration says that more than 2 600 migrants have died in 2015 so far on the Central Mediterranean route that includes Libya. News 24

The Gun Smuggler’s Lament
In 2011, Osama Kubbar ran Qatari-supplied arms to Libyan rebels battling the Qaddafi regime. Today, he is watching from afar as his country is torn apart by two warring governments and a web of rival militias. This is the story of a failed revolution and the people it engulfed. […] By 2013, Libya had all but collapsed—not despite Doha’s efforts and those of its opportunistic middlemen, but partly because of them. Supporting certain allies, at the expense of national reconciliation, helped drive dangerous political wedges. To be sure, Qatar was not alone. Other countries, most notably the United Arab Emirates, contributed to Libya’s instability by building their own networks on the ground. But where Abu Dhabi also offered material and logistical assistance, Qatar was exceptional in the scale of its provision during the uprising.   Foreign Affairs

Mali Govt, Rebels Swap Prisoners in Bright Spot for Peace Deal
Mali’s government and a major Tuareg-led rebel alliance exchanged prisoners this week, the two sides and a UN source have said, in a move hailed as a step forward for the country’s fledgling peace process. A total of 47 prisoners were traded between the government and the Co-ordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA), and marks a key bright spot for a country that despite a months-old peace deal has yet to see stability firmly entrenched. “The Malian government freed 31 rebel prisoners and the rebels freed 16 Malian military prisoners,” an official from Minusma, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, told AFP on condition of anonymity. The official said the prisoner exchange took place on Thursday and was carried out in an effort to “ease the peace process”.  News 24

Joseph Kony and Mutiny in the Lord’s Resistance Army
Vincent Okumu Binansio, nicknamed Binany, was one of the many children who have been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda. Captured in the mid-nineties, when the group was rapidly growing in power, Binany was taken to live in the compound of the L.R.A. leader, Joseph Kony, in Sudan. In Binany’s late teens, he became one of Kony’s bodyguards, and he eventually rose to the position of his chief aide, managing the welfare of Kony and his several families. This close proximity made Binany and other boys blindly loyal to Kony. “Binany was so naïve, so sincere,” said A., who was Binany’s wife for a few years, before she escaped, in 2004. “He believed what Kony said and did everything he ordered.” (A., who was kidnapped from her boarding school, in 1996, is now living in northern Uganda.) This devotion meant that, by 2009, when Binany was still in his early thirties, he was one of the most senior L.R.A. commanders. Kony entrusted him with the leadership of all groups operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, nearly three hundred armed men, or almost half of the L.R.A.’s troops, according to my estimates. Binany allegedly was one of the leaders of an assault on the Congolese region of Makombo that killed three hundred and twenty people. In 2010, Kony tasked Binany with a mission that he said could “determine the future of my government,” according to former L.R.A. fighters. The New Yorker

Cash-Strapped Zim ‘Won’t Sack Civil Servants’
Despite pressure from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), cash-strapped Zimbabwe will not sack any of its civil servants, a report quotes the finance minister as saying. Patrick Chinamasa told the state-controlled Sunday Mail newspaper that audits would be carried out to weed out “ghost workers”, civil servants who are either dead or not working in that particular post anymore. “We are not going to sack anyone,” he said. Zimbabwe’s bloated civil service wage bill eats up an unsustainable 83% of national revenue. As economic problems bite and industry and social services suffer, the reduction of that bill has been a key target for President Robert Mugabe’s government under an IMF-monitored Staff Monitored Programme.  News 24

Third of Africa Backsliding in Governance Index
More than a third of African countries are backsliding on governance, the 2015 Ibrahim Index showed Monday. Some 21 of the 54 states ranked, including five of the top 10, have deteriorated in overall governance performance since 2011, the annual index found. “Africans overall are certainly healthier and live in more democratic societies than 15 years ago,” said founder Mo Ibrahim, the Sudan-born telecoms tycoon. However, “the 2015 Ibrahim Index of African Governance shows that recent progress in other key areas on the continent has either stalled or reversed, and that some key countries seem to be faltering,” he said. “This is a warning sign for all of us. Only shared and sustained improvements across all areas of governance will deliver the future that Africans deserve and demand.”  AFP on Yahoo News



Photo: Adam Jones