Media Review for January 26, 2016

Terrorists Strike Burkina Faso: What Are the Implications?
[…] For AQIM, the recent attacks in Bamako and Ouagadougou are part of a play for rejuvenation. As Mali’s elected government slowly puts the state and country back together, and as Mali’s internal security dynamic becomes dominated once again by peace accords and their troubled implementation, terrorism in the North has taken on a lower profile and has come to seem like just another part of persistent provincial insecurity, despite the very real and regrettable cost it is having on UN troops there. By contrast, spectacular terror attacks in Sahel capitals on prominent hotels frequented by international travelers have recaptured international attention and provided AQIM an easy opportunity to directly kill Western and other international civilians. The Bamako and Ouagadougou attacks also announce AQIM’s intention to remain on top among terrorist groups in the Sahel. Across 2015, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, made inroads in the region and AQIM was shaken: Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS, recruits joined from new locations like Ghana, AQIM suffered from internal tensions over adherence to Al-Qaeda or ISIS, and new terrorist factions, like Jund al-Khilafah and the Macina Liberation Front, formed in AQIM’s stomping ground. Big hotel attacks, done in the Burkina case in coordination with a former AQIM splinter group, Al-Mourabitoun, broadcast AQIM’s intention to remain on top in a region where its members have conducted operations for decades. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Twenty-five Dead in Suicide Bomb Attack on North Cameroon Market
Four suicide bombers killed about 25 people in a village in Cameroon’s Far North region on Monday, a local official said, the most deadly in a string of recent attacks in an area beset by violence connected to Islamist militant group Boko Haram. Two bombers struck the Bodo central market while others hit the town’s main entrance and exit points, the official said. “There was a quadruple suicide bombing in the village of Bodo this morning. There are around 25 deaths and several wounded,” he said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Cameroonian troops form part of an 8,700-strong regional force created to defeat Boko Haram, which has waged a six-year campaign to carve out a separate state in northeastern Nigeria. Boko Haram has stepped up attacks outside Nigeria over the past year, including in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, threatening regional security. Reuters

Libyan MPs in Tobruk Reject UN-backed Unity Government Plan
Libya’s internationally recognised parliament has rejected a United Nations-backed unity government plan, dampening hopes of an end to the country’s civil war. Meeting in the eastern city of Tobruk, 89 out of 104 members of the House of Representatives rejected the proposed new government, demanding wholesale changes. The rejection is a blow for the UN, which has been trying to persuade the elected Tobruk parliament and an Islamist-led rival in Tripoli to unite. It also throws into doubt a proposed €100m (£76m) European Union aid package and Britain’s promise to deploy 1,000 troops to train a new Libyan army, which are both conditional on a unity government being established. The Guardian

CAR Confirms Presidential Run-off, Annuls Legislative Vote over ‘Irregularities’
The Central African Republic’s top court on Monday cancelled the first round legislative vote held in December over “irregularities” but confirmed that two former premiers will vie for the presidency in a run-off this month. The December 30 elections,were expected to turn a page on the restive country’s worst sectarian violence but the legislative vote was flawed by “numerous irregularities and the involvement of candidates in them,” Zacharie Ndoumba, the president of the Constitutional Court said. France 24

US issues Security Alert Ahead of Uganda Presidential Elections
The US government has issued a security alert to its citizens residing in or intending to travel to Uganda ahead of the country’s presidential election slated for February 18 and local election scheduled between February 24 and March 10. In a statement published on its passports and international travel department website, U.S government says all its citizens are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the electoral period. “This Travel Alert expires on March 31, 2016. The State Department recommends U.S. citizens maintain a high level of security awareness leading up to, during, and following the election period. U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies, polling centers, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind as gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and turn violent,” the statement reads in part. According to the statement, U.S citizens are supposed to review their personal security plans; remain aware of their surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates. Daily Monitor

Amisom On the Spot as AU Leaders Meet in Ethiopia
The structure of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) is expected to come under sharp focus when the AU discusses a report on peace and security in Africa. AU heads of state and government converge in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for a summit this Saturday. The meeting however comes in the wake of repeated terrorist attacks on its mission in Somalia, partly blamed on the insufficiencies and rigid structure of Amisom. On January 15, KDF in El Adde were ambushed by Al-Shabaab militants. Chief of Defence Forces Samson Mwathethe alluded to Amisom lacking “necessary capacity” leading KDF to mobilise its resources in response to the attack. Daily Nation

Military Camp Attack Fuels Somalia Pullout talk
Kenya was plunged into mourning yet again by another attack from the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group. This time, however, the dead and injured were not civilians at a poorly policed shopping mall, university campus or remote township but dozens of soldiers in a military camp in Somalia, near the Kenyan border. Authorities remained tight-lipped on the number of Kenya Defence Forces soldiers killed in the deadly dawn attack by the Islamists at the military camp in El Adde last Friday. But it was clear that the numbers were significant enough to prompt a sombre statement from President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Commander-in-Chief of the KDF, hailing the soldiers who died for their country and promising revenge. The East African

Another Knock for Kenya’s Once-Mighty Media: Top Editor Fired for Criticising President Kenyatta
Until Wednesday, when he was sacked, Denis Galava was managing editor at the Daily Nation, one of the most respected newspapers in Africa. He’s an old hand in Kenyan journalism, and a respected commentator on national politics. His last act for the newspaper was to write and publish an editorial. This wasn’t unusual: Galava estimates that he has written more than 100 editorials for the Daily Nation. This one pulled no punches. Addressed to President Uhuru Kenyatta, it said that the country deserves better leadership from its politicians, and lambasted Kenyatta’s record in office. “We reject the almost criminal resignation and negligence with which your government has responded to our national crises this past year. We need not recount the number of lives lost, the losses incurred by businesses and opportunities wasted for millions of Kenyans due to the incompetence of the Executive. Daily Maverick

Rwanda Police Shoot Dead ISIS Imam
An imam accused of seeking to recruit young men to join the Islamic State group was shot dead in the Rwandan capital Saturday night while trying to escape from a police escort, police said in a statement Monday. Muhammad Mugemangango, deputy imam of the Kimiromko mosque in the capital Kigali, was shot dead as he sought to escape police custody during an escorted visit to his home, they said. “He was under investigations for mentoring Rwandan youths into Jihad and recruiting them to join Islamic State in Syria,” the police statement said. Police said Mugemangango had been detained “on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities” but tried to run away after he accompanied police to his home to conduct a search. On the way back, he jumped off the vehicle and was shot, they said. News 24

Now Eala Committee Summons Bujumbura over National Crisis
Burundi will appear before the East African Legislative Assembly on January 25 to argue against a move to have it suspended from the East African Community and the African Union. The Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU) and the East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum (Eacsof) have asked EALA to recommend to the EAC Summit of Heads of State that Bujumbura be bypassed for the chairmanship of the bloc until it brings to an end the crisis caused by President Pierre Nkurunziza’s assumption of a third term in office. The organisations said if the various measures proposed in their petition do not work after a month, then Burundi should be suspended from the EAC and the AU. The heads of state are expected to make a decision on the recommendations at the EAC Ordinary Summit in Dar es Salaam on February 29.  The East African

Rep. of Congo: Party Selects President to Run for New Term
The Republic of Congo’s ruling party has promised a first-round win after formally choosing President Denis Sassou N’Guesso to run for a new term in March. Pierre Ngolo, the party’s secretary general, announced the selection Monday at the end of a two-day convention. Sassou N’Guesso, 72, first ruled the Central African country from 1979 until 1992, when he lost an election. He returned to power in 1997. In a referendum last October, voters approved revisions to the constitution’s term and age limits that would have barred Sassou N’Guesso from running again. Sassou N’Guesso’s opponents called for a campaign of “civil disobedience” in the run-up to the referendum, but they later appealed for calm after at least four people were killed in demonstrations urging the president to step down. AP

Berlin Talks Between Sudan Govt., SPLM-N Broken Off
The second informal meeting between delegations of the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) broke off on Saturday with no sign of progress toward an agreement ending the four years of conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The two delegations began their second informal discussions round in Berlin on Friday, with expectations that this session would conclude with agreements on the cessation of hostilities and the provision of humanitarian assistance. The accords would pave the way for a preparatory National Dialogue meeting. Sudan Tribune on Radio Dabanga

AU Summit to Put Spotlight on Security Concerns
The 26th session of the African Union Summit will start in Ethiopia later this week with security concerns on the continent high on the agenda. The meeting comes amid political instability in Burundi following elections in that country as well as the recent terror attacks in Burkina Faso and Somalia. President Jacob Zuma will lead South Africa’s delegation to the summit. The sitting of the AU Assembly will be on Saturday until Sunday. Over 50 African leaders and some foreign dignitaries are expected to attend. This will be preceded by meetings of the different organs of the AU that include the Executive Council made up of Foreign Affairs Ministers and the AU Peace and Security Council among others. International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane elaborates on some of the issues that will make it to the agenda. SABC

Algeria President Deals Death Blow to DRS Intelligence Agency
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has taken control of Algeria’s security and intelligence services by forming a new leadership for the entire sector, newspapers reported Monday. The reports said a DSS agency has been set up to replace the powerful DRS intelligence agency, which is being dissolved. Retired general Athman Tartag, an ex-security advisor to the president, is to head the DSS, newspapers reported. He was named in September as successor to longtime DRS chief General Mohamed Mediene — better known as General Toufik — head of a shadowy intelligence service that many viewed as a “state within a state” in the North African country. Bouteflika has established the DSS under a decree which has not been made public, according to the government daily EL-Messa. There was no official confirmation of the reports. Middle East Online

Change of Command at SANDF Joint Operations Division
On Thursday this week Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi will hand over command of the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) Joint Operations Division to Major General Duma Mdutyana. Mgwebi has been named Force Commander of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), which includes a tri-nation Force Intervention Brigade (FIB), the first ever UN force to be given an offensive mandate in its work of protecting civilians. Mgwebi’s appointment was announced by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in December and indications are the whipcord tough senior SANDF senior officer will take up his appointment either later this month or early in February. There is currently no official UN indication of how long the three star general will be in charge of the UN single largest mission but appointments at this level in the world body are generally for two years.  DefenceWeb

Old foes Clash in Mozambique
When Mozambican troops hunting opposition fighters attacked his village this week, 10-year-old Wit Messenger turned and ran, leaving behind parents he may never see again. Messenger is among thousands of Mozambicans who have fled across the border to refugee camps in Malawi in the last month, saying Frelimo government forces are burning homes and killing civilians in a campaign against Renamo guerrillas in an escalation of a simmering conflict between old civil war foes. Spokesmen for both Frelimo and Renamo each told Reuters that the other side was responsible for attacks on their members in various parts of the country but would not give details about the violence that prompted the refugee exodus. The first Mozambicans arrived in the Malawian village of Kapise in June last year but the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says the flow of migrants has rapidly increased this month and predicts the number could rise from 3 500 now to 5 000 in coming days, more than it can currently handle.  IOL News

UN urges AU to address South Sudan Crisis
The UN secretary-general is urging African Union states to address South Sudan’s failure to meet a deadline to establish a transitional government of national unity. Ban Ki-moon said through his spokesperson on Monday that forming a transitional government is an “essential step” in implementing a peace deal between South Sudan’s government and rebels. Ban called on South Sudan’s parties to overcome their differences after failing to meet Friday’s deadline. He asked African leaders to make the peace deal a priority at the AU summit this week that he plans to attend. News 24

Egypt’s Silent Anniversary
The Egyptian government worked intensively to make sure that something important happened in Tahrir Square on Monday: nothing. On the fifth anniversary of the Jan. 25 protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, traffic snaked through the square in downtown Cairo unimpeded. The only gathering was a small cluster of pro-government Egyptians, some holding signs adorned with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s smiling face, organized to praise the police forces that were the loathed enemy of the protesters on Jan. 25, 2011. It was the first time since 2010 that Jan. 25 passed without demonstrations disrupting the normal pace of daily life. An Interior Ministry source told the Egyptian daily el-Watan that the government had dispatched 180,000 security forces across Egypt to ensure quiet. The effort succeeded. The 35 protest marches organized by the Muslim Brotherhood to “shock and shake the junta … with your thundering protests” fizzled without a trace. Leftist activists didn’t even bother organizing protests of their own. Foreign Policy

The Egyptian Revolution: What Went Wrong?
“These kids [protesters] should be arrested in a matter of 24 hours. And we can get them by getting their mothers, their sisters, and their wives. Whoever tells me ‘human rights’, I will hit with my shoes … my words are clear. We should get their mothers, their fathers and their wives” said the head of the human rights committee in the newly “elected” Egyptian parliament, the former judge Mortada Mansour. This was a few weeks ago. His words were already policies. Five years ago, the brutality of the security services sparked a challenge to the authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak: an uprising whose slogans were “bread, freedom, dignity, and justice”. Today’s political facts of life in Egypt could not be further removed from these slogans: well over 40,000 political prisoners, more than 1,250 forced disappearance in 2015 alone, hundreds of alleged extrajudicial killings (mainly in Sinai), and multiple mass killings of protesters in the aftermath the July 2013’s brutal coup. So, what went wrong?  Al Jazeera

How I Plan to End Fulani Herdsmen, Farmers Clashes – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari said Monday in Abuja that poverty, injustice and the lack of job opportunities were mainly responsible for inter-communal and intra-communal conflicts in Nigeria. Speaking while receiving a delegation from the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, an organization active in the promotion of peace in Nigeria, President Buhari said to achieve enduring peace in the country, greater effort must be made to eradicate poverty and injustice. The president described ethnic and religious conflicts in parts of the country as outward manifestations of underlying problems of joblessness, injustice and poverty. On conflicts between farmers and herdsmen, President Buhari said that a plan to map out grazing areas will soon be presented to the Nigerian Governors Forum as a temporary solution to the frequent conflicts until cattle owners are persuaded to adopt other means of rearing their cattle.  Premium Times

Tanzania Suspends Officials Over National ID Card Project
Tanzanian President John Magufuli suspended the head of a national electronic identification-card project and four other officials on Monday, opening the way for a corruption investigation into a public procurement process. Magufuli, who took office late last year, has pledged to root out corruption and inefficiency in Tanzania. He has already sacked several senior officials, including the head of the government’s anti-graft body, a senior rail official and the head of the country’s port authority. On Monday, the president said he had suspended the director general of the National Identification Authority (NIDA), Dickson Maimu, and other officials of the authority pending a graft investigation and an audit of the 179.6 billion-shilling ($82.20 million) that NIDA has so far spent on the project. VOA

‘Bad joke’ trial of 17 Angolan activists drags on … and on … and on
The 17 young Angolans started protesting against the Angolan government in 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring. They filmed some of these protests and the footage shows them gathering for just a few minutes before security forces shut them down, violently. Last June, 15 of these activists were arrested in a sweep by Angolan authorities. Some had gathered to discuss a book called From Dictatorship to Democracy when they were arrested. The state accused them of “rebellion”, “attempted coup d’état” and “crimes against national security”. These young men are teachers and musicians, not government officials, their supporters point out. Their only weapons were books and computers.  RFI

African Economies, and Hopes for New Era, Are Shaken by China
Many economists expect South Africa, the continent’s most advanced and diversified economy, to slide into a recession this year, a projection disputed by the government. As Africa’s biggest exporter of iron ore to China, South Africa is suffering from a slump in mining, as well as in other sectors like manufacturing and agriculture. Like the currencies of many commodity-exporting nations, South Africa’s rand has declined sharply in recent months because of the worldwide fall in prices of raw materials and because of poor government policies. The weak rand will make it more painful for South Africa, which is experiencing the worst drought in a generation and is usually an exporter of agricultural products, to import corn, the nation’s staple. The New York Times



Photo: Adam Jones