Media Review for May 10, 2016

Map of Africa’s Active Militant Islamist Groups
Recent high-profile attacks have drawn increased attention to the threat of terrorism in Africa. A review of attacks by militant Islamist groups in Africa over the past 12 months reveals considerable variation in the groups involved. Most are locally-focused even if they have declared an allegiance to a global terrorist network. Attacks have also been conducted in a relatively few, concentrated areas on the continent. Boko Haram is responsible for the vast majority of fatalities, a figure that has escalated dramatically in recent years. While garnering much attention, ISIS has a limited presence in Africa, often working through pre-existing groups with their own agenda. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

UN Warns of ‘Devastating Consequences’ if Kenya Expels Refugees
Kenya’s decision to stop hosting refugees could have “devastating consequences” for hundreds of thousands of people, the UN warned on Monday, urging the country with the world’s largest refugee camp to reconsider. Citing security concerns, Kenya said Friday that it planned to close refugee camps on its soil and would no longer automatically grant refugee status to arriving asylum seekers. The UN refugee agency voiced alarm at the announcement, warning against “the potentially devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of people that premature ending of refugee hosting would have.” Kenya hosts some 550 000 refugees in camps in the north of the country. News 24

Ethiopia Rescues Dozens of Children Abducted Last Month
Ethiopia has recovered some of the 125 children who were abducted by militiamen from South Sudan last month in a deadly ethnic clash that left more than 200 people dead, Ethiopian government announced Monday. On April 15, heavily-armed ethnic Murle militiamen reportedly crossed over from South Sudan into Ethiopian soil, where they went on a rampage, pillaging 13 localities of Nuer and Agnuak communities. Tewolde Mulugeta, Foreign Affairs spokesman, said: “Ethiopia’s effort to get the children back achieved the first result today with dozens of children released.” But exactly how many were released was not specified by the official. No independent confirmation about the number of children rescued so far could be made. Also, it remains unclear exactly how the children were recovered. Anadolu Agency

Tunis: 2,000 Stopped from Going to War Zones
Tunisian authorities prevented nearly 2,000 people from travelling abroad to join jihadist groups in the first three months of this year, interior ministry spokesman Yasser Mesbah said on Monday. Since January, authorities have also dismantled 33 suspected “terrorist” cells and put on trial 1,400 people accused of belonging to a “terrorist organization,” Mesbah told private radio station Shems FM. “In 2016, 1,877 Tunisians were prevented from leaving the country to travel to zones of tension,” Mesbah said, without identifying these destinations. Since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia has faced a growing militant threat, with ISIS last year claiming a string of deadly attacks on holidaymakers and security forces that killed dozens. Thousands of Tunisians have joined militant groups in conflict zones such as Iraq, Syria and Libya over the past few years. Mesbah told AFP that most of the suspects prevented from travelling abroad to join jihadist groups this year were young people aged between 20 and 23 who have been placed under daily surveillance. AFP on Al Arabiya

Israel Warns Jewish Pilgrims of ‘Severe’ Terror Threat in Tunisia
Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau on Monday highlighted a “severe” travel advisory for Tunisia. Many Jews who hail from the Mediterranean Arab country travel each year to the island of Djerba in the country’s south, the historic home of an ancient community of Jewish priestly families, to celebrate the Lag B’Omer holiday, which this year falls on May 25-26. The bureau, a branch of the Prime Minister’s Office, on Monday urged Israelis and Jews not to visit the country this year due to the “high” likelihood of attacks by jihadist groups. “Terror groups, especially global jihadist [organizations], continue to operate in Tunisia and to launch terror attacks,” the bureau said in a statement. “In light of that fact, the threat level posed to Jewish targets is high. The Counter-Terrorism Bureau therefore reiterates the severe travel advisory for Tunisia (‘severe concrete threat’) ahead of the Lag B’Omer pilgrimage to Djerba island, and recommends against the visit.” Times of Israel

Deadly Conflicts over Green Pastures in Nigeria
It was too late for the residents of Ukpabi Nimbo, as the attackers invaded their village. According to media reports, heavily armed herdsmen stormed the village in the southeast of Nigeria at the end of April. Dozens were killed, houses and churches were destroyed. Such raids are common in Nigeria. Herdsmen, often nomads, compete with farmers for fertile lands. The conflicts were often restricted to northern Nigeria. But now nomads, partly from neighboring countries, are reaching the south in search of greener pastures. In February, 300 people in central Nigeria died after such a raid and 7000 were displaced. According to SBM Intelligence, a consulting company that offers in-depth investigation, there were 400 such incidents between 1997 and 2015, mostly in the fertile green belt of Nigeria. Estimations show that more than a thousand people die every year.  Deutsche Welle

Anger Overflows in Nigeria as Economy Dives
Young men became entangled in a swirl of flying fists. Gas station workers swatted away boys hoping to fill their plastic cans. A mother with a sleeping baby in her minivan was chased off, rightly accused of jumping the line. A driver eager to get ahead crashed into several cars, the sound of crunching metal barely registering amid the noise. Nigerians were getting used to days like this. But then came the ultimate insult to everyone waiting at the Oando mega gas station: A bus marked Ministry of Justice rolled up to a pump, leapfrogging no fewer than 99 vehicles. “Service With Integrity” was painted on its door. A gas station supervisor who calls herself Madame No Nonsense stepped aside to let it fuel up before anyone else. The crowd howled at the injustice. Plummeting oil prices have set off an economic unraveling in Nigeria, one of the world’s top oil producers, and the collective anger of a fed-up nation was pouring out. “Starvation in the land of plenty,” said Tony Usidamen, a public relations consultant waiting for fuel. The New York Times

Kiir Calls for Exhibition of Nationalism in South Sudan
South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir, has called on the citizens of the world’s youngest country to exhibit nationalism as a way to fight tribalism and regionalism, which has seen the country grappling to patch up divisions. President Kiir urged that leaders should be judged by their own citizens, not “other people”, who allegedly wanted to control the country with the view to exploit the resources. “Let our people judge us, not somebody from outside. The desire of these people and their governments (foreign governments) is to subordinate and control us so that they can exploit our resources,” President Kiir charged. Sudan Tribune

Ugandans Welcome South Sudan Refugees
As Europeans pontificate the pros and cons of allowing desperate refugees into their countries, Uganda, a poor country with a fraction of the resources of many European countries, has an open-door refugee policy and is helping many African refugees to rebuild their lives. “Uganda has the most progressive policy towards refugees in all of Africa,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Protection Officer in Adjumani, near the South Sudan border, Akiko Tsujisawa told the African News Agency (ANA). “It not only allows refugees to come into the country but helps them to rebuild their lives by giving them land to cultivate in resettlement camps and access to social services,” said Tsujisawa. The UNHCR is working with the Ugandan government in Adjumani to help approximately 132 000 South Sudanese refugees who have fled the violence in South Sudan. “Uganda has a long history of helping refugees starting with Jewish refugees who escaped the Nazis during the Second World War,” said Titus Jogo, Ugandan government Refugee Desk Officer for refugees in Adjumani.  IOL News

Congo Opposition Leader Accused of Hiring Mercenaries
A leading opposition candidate for president of Democratic Republic of Congo was questioned on Monday over government allegations of hiring mercenaries, a case that could halt his fledgling campaign in its tracks. Police fired tear gas at more than 1,000 supporters of Moise Katumbi who advanced on the prosecutor general’s office, where he was being questioned, chanting “president!”. Some entered the building and at least four were arrested, a Reuters witness said. Katumbi’s supporters say the allegations are aimed at derailing his campaign to succeed President Joseph Kabila, who has ruled since 2001 but is barred from standing for a third term at elections set for November. France 24

Meet Presidential Candidate Moïse Katumb
Moïse Katumbi, the-larger-than-life Congolese football magnate and presidential candidate, appeared before a prosecutor on Monday in Lubumbashi to respond to an accusation that he hired foreign mercenaries to destabilize the country. But who is this controversial, almost mythic figure running for president in the elections set for November? Hundreds of people came out to demonstrate in the streets of Lubumbashi Monday morning as Moïse Katumbi arrived in court to be questioned about accusations that he gathered a militia to destabilize the country. The extremely popular Katumbi is a Congolese multimillionaire, business man and politician. He used to be the governor of the very large and wealthy Katanga province. It’s known for natural resources—especially copper and cobalt. He made a lot of his money in those fields. RFI

Rwandan Ex-mayors Face Trial in France over 1994 Genocide
Two former Rwandan mayors go on trial in France on Tuesday facing charges of crimes against humanity and genocide over the 1994 massacres in the central African country. As the second trial in Paris by a special court created to go after suspected Rwandan killers who fled to France, it is expected to lay bare the strained relations between the two countries. Two decades on, Rwanda accuses France of complicity in the genocide — which saw at least 800,000 people die in an 100-day slaughter — because of its unwavering support for the Hutu nationalist government at the time. Two years ago, on the 20th anniversary of the mass killings, Rwanda’s minority Tutsi president, Paul Kagame, openly accused French soldiers of not only complicity in the genocide but of actually taking part in it. France 24

South Sudan Food Crisis May Affect up to 5.3 Million People, WFP Says
Up to 5.3 million people in South Sudan may face a severe food shortages during this year’s lean season, the U.N. World Food Programme said on Monday, nearly double the number in the first three months of the year. From January to March, 2.8 million people were classed as being in “crisis“ or “emergency” food situations, with about 40,000 thought to be suffering an outright famine. The rising hunger comes despite attempts to end more than two years of war, which started in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir sacked his first vice president Riek Machar, triggering ethnically charged violence. Some fighting continues, but Kiir was able to name a new cabinet in late April, including former rebels and members of the opposition, after Machar returned to Juba and got back his old job. The Huffington Post

Ivory Coast Tries Former First Lady for Crimes Against Humanity
While the trial of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo resumes at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis, the trial of his wife Simone Gbagbo, who faces similar charges, opens in Ivory Coast. Simone Gbagbo’s supporters gave her a warm welcome as she entered the criminal court that will judge her in Abidjan. The former first lady is being tried for crimes allegedly committed during the post-electoral crisis in 2010 and 2011, triggered after her husband, then president Laurent Gbagbo, and contestant Alassane Ouattara both claimed victory in presidential elections. The subsequent four months of violence left at least 3,000 people dead. She and her husband were eventually arrested and Ouattara became president. VOA

Deadly Rwanda Floods Leave Thousands Homeless
At least 49 people have been killed after heavy rain caused widespread flooding across parts of Rwanda. The small central African country was hit by torrential downpours over the weekend. The Northern Province was worst affected and suffered the highest death toll. Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs Minister Seraphine Mukantabana said 42 of the victims came from Gakenke district. The rest belonged to Ngororero and Rubavu districts in the west, as well as Muhanga in the south. There were also dozens of injuries, with at least 26 people requiring hospital treatment. The heavy downpours caused landslides that blocked roads across the north of the country, cutting off thousands of people. Buildings have been damaged and nearly 500 homes have been destroyed, leaving thousands of people homeless. Al Jazeera

Kenyans Protest Against Electoral Body
Kenyan police have fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse protesters who had gathered to demand the resignation of a body supervising next year’s presidential elections. Hundreds demonstrated on Monday in Nairobi near the office of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). They were demanding the resignation of the electoral body, saying it would rig the 2017 presidential elections. Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Nairobi, said security was tight in the Kenyan capital after the protesters – who have pledged to gather every Monday – were dispersed. Al Jazeera

Uganda: Police Surround FDC Officials’ Homes, Ingrid Turinawe Missing
Police has surrounded Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) officials’ homes barely a day after the party secretary for mobilisation Ms Ingrid Turinawe was reported missing. The Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mr Wafula Oguttu on his twitter account wrote, “Under siege! Homes of most FDC senior leaders have been surrounded by the security forces.” When contacted, the FDC spokesperson who also doubles as Kyaddondo County East MP Ibrahim Ssemujju confirmed that his home in Kirinya Wakiso district had been surrounded by police Monday morning. “I don’t know why police has surrounded my home. They came as I was preparing to go to our head offices in Najjanankumbi to organize our weekly press briefing,” he said. Mr Ssemujju also said FDC secretary for mobilisation Ms Ingrid Turinawe has gone missing. The Monitor on allAfrica

Uganda: Where is Amama Mbabazi?
The last time he made a public appearance after he lost the Supreme court petition, Amama Mbabazi, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous American actor, said: “I will be back.” The former prime minister told his supporters to remain patient as he works on a new strategy to confront government. A month later, some of his supporters are wondering whether there could be any strategy and what it entails. For the time being, Mbabazi is not saying anything. The Go Forward office on Plot 29, Nakasero road, which was a meeting point of his supporters, was closed down after the election. We have been told that the operations of this office have since been merged with those of another coordination office on Kanjokya road in Kamwokya. It is ‘womanned’ by his sister in-law, Hope Mwesigye. The Observer on allAfrica

Seeing President Mugabe’s Frailty, Zimbabwe Braces for Turmoil
The independence festivities took place just as they have for decades: led by President Robert Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe has ever had. But as Mr. Mugabe, 92, inspected a military parade during the celebrations last month, he did something unusual. When his vehicle stopped in front of a framed picture of the president, Mr. Mugabe bowed before his own portrait. Zimbabweans were stunned. Had their president grown so feeble, they wondered, that he could no longer recognize the person in front of him? Mr. Mugabe, the world’s oldest head of state, said this year that he would preside over Zimbabwe “until God says, ‘Come.’ ” His increasingly powerful wife, Grace, vowed that her husband would rule from a special wheelchair until he was 100. But the end of an era looms over this capital. As Mr. Mugabe has grown visibly weaker in the past year, talk of his death dominates the private conversations of the governing class, leading to some cutthroat maneuvering for the endgame. The New York Times

Using Courts to Crush Dissent in Ethiopia
For the past six months, thousands of people have taken to the streets in Ethiopia’s largest region, Oromia, to protest alleged abuses by their government. The protests, unprecedented in recent years, have seen Ethiopia’s security forces use lethal force against largely peaceful protesters, killing hundreds and arresting tens of thousands more. The government is inexorably closing off ways for Ethiopians to peacefully express their grievances, not just with bullets but also through the courts. In recent weeks, the Ethiopian authorities have lodged new, politically motivated charges against prominent opposition politicians and others, accusing them of crimes under Ethiopia’s draconian counterterrorism law. HRW

‘Ethiopia is Boiling’: Rebel Group’s Founder Warns of New Arab Spring
After 30 years of unsuccessful protests, even violence, Abdirahman Mahdi, the Ogaden National Liberation Front’s (ONLF) foreign secretary and founding member, denies it is time for the Somali rebel group to give up their dream of self-determination and warns of an Arab Spring-style insurrection in Ethiopia. Daily Maverick

South Africa’s Top Anti-graft Official Fears for Her Life
South Africa’s top anti-corruption official fears for her life after learning from an informant that hit men are being contracted to kill her, her spokeswoman said on Sunday. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is a leading public figure who scored a major victory when South Africa’s top court ruled on March 31 that President Jacob Zuma had violated the constitution by ignoring her instructions to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home. “On the 1st of April she received a text message from an informant, and that informant warned her to be careful. That person said a top gangster in the Western Cape was paid to get a hit man to kill her,” said spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi, confirming a report in the Sunday Times newspaper. “She is concerned about her safety and security,” Masibi said, adding that Madonsela knew the informant personally. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones