Media Review for October 8, 2015

Triple Suicide Attacks hit Northeastern Nigeria
Suicide bombers killed at least 18 people in three dawn attacks in the northeastern Nigerian town of Damaturu, officials and witnesses said. Separately, Boko Haram attacked a rural military camp in northeastern Yobe state overnight but were repulsed by troops who killed at least 100 of their fighters, the military said. Seven troops died in the fighting and nine were injured in the village of Goniri, said army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman. Hours later, at around 6am local time on Wednesday, when mosques were filled with worshippers performing early-morning prayers, two women suicide bombers struck in Damaturu, Yobe state’s commercial centre. “One of the suicide bombers gained entry into the mosque and detonated explosives, and the other bomber was sighted roaming around the compound and [when] asked questions, she too detonated explosives,” said resident Ibrahim Musa. Al Jazeera

At Least 100 Militants Killed in Attack on Nigerian Military Base
More than 100 Boko Haram militants were killed in an attack on a Nigerian army barracks in Goniri area of Yobe state early on Wednesday morning, a military spokesperson said. Seven soldiers were killed while nine others were wounded in the attack, Colonel Sani Usman said. “On the last count over 100 terrorists bodies were seen, unfortunately however, seven of our gallant soldiers paid the supreme price while defending our fatherland, while one officer and eight soldiers were wounded in action,” he said. Machine guns, AK-47 rifles and rocket-propelled grenades were recovered from the militants. News 24

Burundi Expels Rwandan Diplomat as Tensions Rise
Burundi has expelled a senior Rwandan diplomat, officials said on Wednesday, the latest sign of tension between the central African neighbors that share a history of ethnic conflict. Burundi was plunged into crisis six months ago, when President Pierre Nkurunziza’s announcement he would seek a third term ignited weeks of protests and a failed coup. Nkurunziza went on to win a July 21 vote, but opposition groups have accused his government of a violent crackdown against them. Rwanda, which endured a genocide in 1994, has expressed alarm about the situation in Burundi and its regional implications. Salvator Ntacobamaze, permanent secretary in Burundi’s Ministry of External Relations and International Cooperation, said the diplomat, Desire Nyaruhirira, had been expelled but declined to give any further explanation. VOA

Splitting South Sudan into 28 States: Right Move, Wrong Time?
President Salva Kiir’s decision, announced last Friday, to create 28 states in South Sudan, up from the current ten, risks adding another destabilising element to the peace pact signed between the government and the SPLM-In Opposition (SPLM_IO). The peace deal is already under extreme pressure with both parties having violated the ceasefire. But according to opposition leader Riek Machar, the decree to split the country into smaller pieces is retrogressive and risks undermining the deal further. Machar was quick to denounce the decision, calling it “a clear message to the world that President Kiir is not committed to peace.” The proposed move by Kiir is ostensibly an answer to the long-stated objective of “taking towns to the villages”, a code word for spurring grassroots development through the devolution of power via a decentralised governance structure.  African Arguments

South Sudanese Rebel Leader Blasts the U.S. After Cold Shoulder From the White House
South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar is visiting Washington this week to seek support for the increasingly fragile peace deal both he and his rival signed under intense U.S. pressure in August. But the Obama administration has grown so frustrated after both sides failed to follow through with the agreement — at least the seventh of its kind in the past 20 months — that National Security Advisor Susan Rice abruptly scrapped a scheduled meeting with Machar at the White House on Tuesday. The cancellation has not previously been reported.  Foreign Policy

Scale of South Sudan Sexual Violence is Unprecedented – Red Cross
Women in South Sudan have suffered unprecedented levels of sexual violence in the last two years, including abduction, rape, forced marriage and murder as civilians became targets of merciless ethnic warfare, the head of the Red Cross mission there has said. “We went to one village to distribute aid and (our teams) were told they had been attacked some days earlier and 90 women had been abducted. After several days only about 60 of them came back,” said Franz Rauchenstein, the outgoing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation. The latest turbulent chapter in South Sudan’s four years of independence erupted in December 2013, after a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, revived tensions between Kiir’s Dinka and Machar’s Nuer people. Reuters

UN Concerned by DR Congo Tensions in Run-up to Vote
The United Nations’ envoy to the Democratic Republic of Congo warned Wednesday that Kinshasa was clamping down on the opposition ahead of next year’s elections and urged authorities to hold credible polls. “The political space is shrinking for opponents,” Martin Kobler told journalists following a meeting of the UN Security Council on the DR Congo. “It’s important to have a credible, balanced electoral process,” he said. In power since 2001, President Joseph Kabila is barred under the constitution from seeking a third term in elections expected in November of next year. But opponents accuse him of maneuvering to stay in power. AFP on Yahoo News

Ethiopia: Despite Re-Election, Prime Minister’s Hold on Power is Still Work in Progress
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is riding high after being unanimously re-elected by parliament. But this united front masks deeper fragilities that may yet unseat Hailemariam. Still, while the premier may not have any natural constituency of his own, he can at least rely on Meles Zenawi’s ghost for support. […] Meles was a hero of the revolution that unseated the brutal Derg regime, and Hailemariam is not. Meles was an iconic African statesman, and Hailemariam is not. Meles came from the ranks of Ethiopia’s political elite, and Hailemariam does not. Daily Maverick

Guinea Heads to the Polls Amidst Fears of Post-Election Violence
On October 11 some six million Guineans, about half the population of the West African nation, will elect a new president. There are eight candidates, including incumbent president Alpha Conde and his two main rivals, opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo, of the Union of Democratric Forces in Guinea (UFDG), and Sydia Toure of the Union of Republican Forces (UFR), a former prime minister. However, the opposition lacks a clear position. First there was a boycott threat, then the demand for a postponement, then the threats were withdrawn. A little over a week before the election, the seven candidates running against Conde called for the poll to be postponed by a week, claiming there were mistakes in the electoral register. Vincente Foucher, a Guinea expert at the International Crisis Group, says the idea is not unreasonable “when you see for how many months this election has provoked controversy, demonstrations, violence and arrests.”  Deutsche Welle

Game on Between Uganda’s Former Liberation War Allies
This 2016 election in Uganda is likely to be closely contested, with personal animosity seeping into the bigger political questions. Having removed presidential term limits in 2005 and, over 30 years, engineered a system in which he sits at the apex of decision-making, President Yoweri Museveni is not keen to leave. But the ‘Old Man’ will have to beat out his former doctor, Kizza Besigye, and former prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi to cling onto power.  Daily Maverick

Mozambique Destroyed its Last Landmine. That’s a Victory for Food Security
Explosive remnants of war (ERW) or unexploded ordnance (UXO), is a hidden killer that claims thousands of lives and limbs each year. Landmines litter roughly 60 countries and regions of the world, while cluster munitions—particularly heinous types of bombs with historically high failure rates—contaminate 25 countries. The vast majority of cluster-bomb accidents harm civilians in the course of daily life. The full toll of these weapons is typically measured in terms of casualties (about 10,900 people in Mozambique, for example). But casualty counts are insufficient indicators of risk and harm. They tell just half the story, through quantifiable events: accidents, injuries and deaths. The rest of the story is found in what doesn’t happen and whatcan’t be counted: acres not planted, harvests not reaped, forests not foraged, waters not fished, incomes not earned and mouths not fed. UXO is more than a killer. It’s a hindrance to development and food security. Globally, for every casualty counted, millions still live in fear of the ground beneath them.  UN Dispatch

Here are Five Lessons for Writing a Constitution (see under: Africa) That Can Help Prevent Violence
Tanzanians are going to the polls this month, and the constitution will be one of the biggest issues. Here’s the problem: the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party had agreed to reform it in ways that would loosen its tight grip on power — but delayed a constitutional referendum scheduled for last April until after the October vote. The upcoming elections have therefore become a de facto referendum on the country’s future — and the future of its constitution, any nation’s blueprint for how to distribute political power. Tensions are high, and opposition groups are warning of possible election violence. The case of Tanzania raises questions about how constitutions affect peace and democracy in a country. Are some forms of constitutional design better at managing conflict than others in Africa? That’s exactly the question that two recent political science books take on. Here are the five major takeaways.  The Washington Post

World Diamond Body Rejects Report Trafficking Is Fueling War
A program involving more than 80 countries to stem the flow of diamonds trafficked by armed movements is succeeding in stopping the revenue from sales of the gems being used to stoke violence, World Diamond Council President Edward Asscher said. The 12-year-old Kimberley Process has taken “more than 99 percent” of so-called conflict diamonds off the market, Asscher said in an interview from Vienna on Monday. He rejected a report by London-based Amnesty International last month that said diamond trafficking was helping to fuel violence in the Central African Republic. “The diamond council gladly re-invites Amnesty to participate and join us and the civil society coalition looking into aspects of CAR and the whole Kimberley Process,” he said. Bloomberg

‘Allow Citizens Access to African Court’
The President of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AFCHPR) has urged all African countries to ratify the court’s protocol and to give their citizens and NGOs direct access to the court. Justice Augustino Ramadhani told the Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Midrand this week that only seven countries had made the necessary declarations which would allow their people and NGOs to seek redress from the court. This meant that 47 states have not made this declaration while 25 states had not ratified the court’s protocol, out of the African Union’s 54 member states. South Africa has ratified the court’s protocol but it has not made the declaration permitting individuals and NGOs to access the court. IOL News

British Warship Starts Hunting for People Smugglers in Mediterranean as Part of New EU Operation
A British warship began hunting for people smugglers in the Mediterranean on Wednesday as part of a European naval operation targeting the trafficking gangs that dispatch tens of thousands of migrants and refugees from Libya in precarious boats. HMS Enterprise is a key element in the European Union force, which has the power to stop, board and destroy smugglers’ boats. The intervention, dubbed Operation Sophia after a baby born to a migrant woman on board a German warship in August, is the latest response to Europe’s gravest refugee crisis since the Second World War. So far this year 558,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in Europe by sea, mostly landing in Italy and Greece, with an estimated 2,987 losing their lives in the attempt. The Telegraph

Ebola Countries Record First Week with no New Cases
The three West African countries at the heart of the Ebola epidemic recorded their first week with no new cases since the outbreak began in March 2014. The outbreak has so far killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). New cases have fallen sharply in 2015, but the WHO has warned that the disease could break out again. The epidemic is the worst known occurrence of Ebola in history. More than 500 people believed to have had dangerous contact with an Ebola patient remain under follow-up in Guinea, the WHO said in a report. It also said several “high-risk” people linked to recent patients in Guinea and Sierra Leone had been lost track of. BBC

Sudan, Saudi Arabia Discuss Minerals Exploration in the Red Sea
Sudan and Saudi Arabia on Tuesday have discussed exploration of mineral resources in the common area between the two countries in the Red Sea. In February 2012 the two nations launched the Atlantis II joint venture to exploit gold, silver, copper and other minerals from the bottom of the Red Sea. The joint sea region of Atlantis II has about 97 million tons of various raw metals, including a ton of zinc, 500,000 tons of copper, 4000 tons of silver, 80,000 tons of gold and different amounts of cobalt, lead and cadmium precipitates.  Sudan Tribune

UN Diplomat Urges Timely, Credible Elections in DRC
The top U.N. diplomat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is urging the government to take all necessary measures to ensure national elections happen on time next year and are transparent, credible and inclusive. In Martin Kobler’s final briefing Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council, he said political tensions were running high ahead of the scheduled November 2016 legislative and presidential elections. Kobler, whose term as the secretary-general’s special representative to the DRC will soon end, warned that human rights violations were increasing, with more than 2,200 recorded violations this year affecting more than 5,000 people. He said state agents committed half of these abuses. VOA

Libyan Officials Don’t Agree on National Unity Government
Libyan lawmakers have not yet reached agreement on a national unity government that is meant to stitch the oil-rich but chaotic north African country back together, a U.N. envoy said. Bernardino Leon had said that the United Nations hoped to announce the unity government on Wednesday. “We hope that tomorrow at the latest to be able to announce this unity government,” Leon told reporters at a midnight briefing in Skhirat, Morocco. He said there was “no need to introduce modifications” into what has been described as the final draft of a peace deal. Libya is split between an Islamist-backed government based in Tripoli and an internationally recognized government in the country’s east. The U.N. is trying to broker a deal to unify them and bring peace to a country that fell apart after the overthrow of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Even as lawmakers were in session Wednesday to debate names for the potential unity government, Libyan security officials said an explosion went off next to the parliament in the capital, Tripoli.  AP on ABC News

Kenya Objects to Coastal Boundary case Filed by Somalia at the ICJ
Kenya has formally rejected Somalia’s boundary dispute case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), terming it “invalid.” Attorney-General Githu Muigai says in preliminary objections filed to the ICJ that Mogadishu’s contest to have Kenya-Somalia coastal boundaries adjusted is invalid. This is because an agreement exists between the two countries to progressively solve the matter through negotiations and not courts. “Litigating this complex issue before the court is clearly contrary to the 2009 MoU. Somalia’s case is invalid and Kenya is confident that the court will agree with its submissions,” Kenya says in its response to the case filed in July.  Daily Nation

Nigeria: The Great Oil Robbery under Diezani Alison-Madueke
Just two days before the federal cabinet dissolved to allow President Goodluck Jonathan appoint a fresh one in recognition of his new electoral mandate, officials in charge of our oil and gas resources secretly signed a deal assigning production rights in at least two large oil blocks to a shadowy company with no prior experience and no fixed address. Under the direction and with the approval of then petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, the officials with a magic wave of a pen effectively transferred hundreds of millions of US dollars – possibly billions – in public assets to private individuals without a public tender. The deal is in apparent violation of Nigeria’s Public Procurement Act, which forbids no-tender bids for the procurement of goods and services by any government-owned institution under penalty of imprisonment.  Premium Times

Clooney’s South Sudan Coffee Reaches Europe Despite War
Mired in civil war for 21 months, its oil-based economy in tatters, South Sudan is an unlikely source of upmarket coffee capsules for European consumers. But coffee company Nespresso is bringing South Sudanese espresso to the international market for the first time as part of a long-term plan to revive the coffee industry in the poor, war-wracked East African country. Hollywood actor George Clooney – an advocate for South Sudan and the public face of the Nespresso brand – launched the initiative two years ago. “There is a real opportunity here,” Clooney said in July 2013. News 24



Photo: Adam Jones