Media Review for May 11, 2016

US, Somali Forces Raid Al-Shabab Base
U.S. and Somali special forces conducted a joint raid early Tuesday on an al-Shabab base, killing or capturing an unknown number of the extremist group’s militants.   Somali security official Mohamed Nur Gabow told VOA Somali that U.S. forces played a “lead role” in the operation targeting al-Shabab officials.  Residents in the village of Toratorow, about 100 kilometers southwest of the Eastern African country’s capital of Mogadishu, said soldiers dropped from helicopters on the village’s outskirts and then went to their target on foot. The troops met no resistance during the two-hour operation, Gabow said. He declined to specify how many militants were killed or taken into custody. VOA

Uganda’s Top Export: Mercenaries
Uganda, in East Africa, is home to 37 million people and one of the poorest countries in the world. It’s perhaps best known for the dictator Idi Amin, who came to power in 1971 and murdered 300,000 of his countrymen during an eight-year reign. Although the country borders tumultuous South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda today is an island of relative political stability. The economy hums. Shopping malls bloom around the capital. Its people, to generalize, are deeply religious, family-oriented, and averse to profanity. Winston Churchill dubbed Uganda the Pearl of Africa in part for its friendly people. It’s also one of the leading providers of mercenaries—or “private military contractors,” as the security industry prefers to call them. They are at once everywhere and nowhere. On TV, a company called Middle East Consultants runs advertisements looking for able-bodied young men to send to Dubai. Talk to taxi drivers as you bump along dirt roads in the capital, Kampala, and each has a friend or cousin or neighbor who raves about the fortune he’s made guarding some embassy or joining the war in Iraq. But official numbers and interviews with the kind of multinational companies that go to countries such as Uganda to find soldiers are hard to come by. Bloomberg

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations-Hearing: Terrorism and Instability in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • The Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Assistant Secretary, Bureau Of African Affairs U.S. Department of State.
  • The Honorable Linda Etim, Assistant Administrator For Africa U.S. Agency for International Development.
  • Mr. Justin Siberell, Acting Coordinator For Counterterrorism, Bureau Of Counterterrorism U.S. Department of State.
  • Mr. Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, Assistant Administrator And Director, Regional Bureau For Africa United Nations Development Program.
  • Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate And Regional Director For Central And West Africa National Democratic Institute.

Armed Groups Pose Major Threat to S Sudan Unity Govt
Despite forming the transitional government of national unity (TGoNU) to end more than two years of civil war, South Sudan’s newly inaugurated leaders must prioritise security reforms and revamp the fragile economy to prevent the youngest country from plunging again into civil war, experts have said. The government is faced with a daunting task of rebuilding the shattered infrastructure and paying salaries of a huge number of civil servants. Many of the civil servants have undergone more than two months without being paid, including the integrated military and police part of the more than 1,500 former Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO) rebels led by Vice President Riek Machar. Experts say the security threat posed by various militia groups may at large affect peace and stability in a country awash with small arms. Daily Nation

New Rebel Group Formed in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State
Officers from the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Opposition in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state have defected and formed their own faction. The officers previously under the overall leadership of the First Vice-President, Riek Machar, have asserted that the 2015 peace agreement signed with president Salva Kiir, has not addressed the cause of the war. The group is yet to announce the name of their faction and under whose leadership and the objective of the war they have declared to pursue. An armed man identifying himself as Colonel James Deng Mayar told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that they have announced a peaceful split from the armed opposition forces under the overall command of General Dau Aturjong, who allied himself and his forces to the First Vice President, Riek Machar. Sudan Tribune

Buhari Hosts French President, Hollande, Biya, Others at Abuja Security Summit
President Mohammadu Buhari would on Saturday host the French President, Francois Hollande and president Pual Biya of Cameroon to a Regional Security Summit in Abuja. Others also scheduled to arrive Abuja on Friday for the summit included the Presidents of Cameroon, Niger Republic, Chad and Benin Republic. Similarly, representatives of the United States, Britain, Equatorial Guinea, the European Union, ECOWAS, the Economic Community of Central African States and the Gulf of Guinea Commission are expected at the summit. The security summit will lead essentially to the successful conclusion of ongoing military operations against Boko Haram in the north east of nigeria and the lake Chad basin. Vanguard

Nigeria Giwa Barracks ‘a Place of Death’ Says Amnesty
Amnesty International says at least 149 detainees have died “in horrendous conditions” at a military detention centre in north-east Nigeria this year. In a report, Amnesty says 11 of those who died at the Giwa barracks were young children, including four babies. It called the centre “a place of death” and said it should be closed. The BBC’s Abdullahi Kaura Abubakar in Abuja says it is the latest in a series of damning reports on the Nigerian military’s treatment of suspects. The army has not commented on the latest report but has previously said it has set up a human rights department to check claims of abuse.  BBC

Nigerian Oil Output Falls Towards 22-Year Low as Violence Spreads
A series of attacks on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure has pushed its output of crude close to a 22-year low, Reuters data shows, putting intense pressure on the country’s finances. Shell workers at Nigeria’s Bonga oilfield in the southern Niger Delta were evacuated following a militant threat, a senior labour union official said on Monday, while attacks late last week forced Chevron to shut its Okan offshore facility, taking out 35,000 barrels per day (bpd). While Shell said the latest unrest had not yet impacted production, its Forcados field is still closed and under force majeure following a February subsea pipeline attack, taking out 250,000 bpd. The violence has depressed production in what is typically Africa’s largest producer to roughly 1.69 million bpd in May, the lowest since at least June 2007, when production fell to 1.68 million bpd, International Energy Agency data shows. Reuters

Cameron says leaders of “fantastically Corrupt” Countries to Attend British anti-graft summit
British Prime Minister David Cameron was caught on camera telling Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday that leaders of some “fantastically corrupt” countries, including Nigeria and Afghanistan, were due to attend his anti-corruption summit. Cameron will host an international anti-corruption summit on Thursday aimed at stepping up global action to combat corruption in all walks of life. In a pooled video feed made available to the ITN broadcaster, Cameron was shown talking with the queen about the summit. “We had a very successful cabinet meeting this morning, talking about our anti-corruption summit,” Cameron said when the queen approached. “We have got the Nigerians – actually we have got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain.” Cameron went on: “Nigeria and Afghanistan – possibly two of the most corrupt countries in the world.” Reuters

Zimbabwe can’t keep printing more money
We thought we had seen the last of Zimbabwe’s fantastic Monopoly money in 2008 when the country’s reserve bank was printing notes of up to Z$10 trillion face value each. That was to try to keep the presses up to speed with plummeting devaluation and galloping inflation that was running into billions of percent. That was the last gasp of the Zimbabwe dollar before it collapsed completely and the country converted to US dollars, mainly, as well as the South African rand and a few other currencies thrown in for good measure. That change – plus the advent of more sensible economic policies brought in by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) when it became part of the government of national unity which took office in 2009 – helped to stabilise the economy after a fashion. But since President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF returned to sole power after the 2013 elections, Zimbabwe’s economy has been rapidly going downhill again. The Star on IOL News

History Hangs Over Rwandan Genocide Trial in France
More than two decades after the Rwandan genocide, two former mayors appeared before a Paris court Tuesday for their alleged participation in the slaughter, in a trial that highlights France’s complicated relationship with the tiny African nation and its alleged foot-dragging in bringing genocide suspects to justice. Octavien Ngenzi and Tito Barahira, both now in their 60s, are accused of genocide and crimes against humanity — accusations that both deny. Their scheduled two-month trial is only the second of its kind held in France since Rwanda’s 1994 slaughter, despite accusations facing several dozen other Rwandans on French territory. “We’re happy the trial is taking place, but it risks being long and difficult,” said Alain Gauthier, president of the Collective of Civil Plaintiffs for Rwanda, a nonprofit that tracks alleged genocide perpetrators now living in France. VOA

Cameroon Vigilantes Foil Suicide Attack
Local self-defense groups in this country’s north have thwarted a rash of attempted suicide bombings targeting civilians near the border with Nigeria in the past week, officials say. During early morning prayers Monday, the civilian group in this northern border town faced one such test. A young man appeared for the first time in their mosque, raising suspicions, said Muslim cleric Bouba Garba. When the stranger moved toward the imam, shouting that he should pray for peace in the world, vigilantes shot and killed the stranger with a bow and poisoned arrow. Then they used a long stick to search him from a distance, detonating the man’s explosive vest. VOA

Libya’s Eastern Oil Fields May Halt Amid Port Blockage
Fields responsible for the bulk of Libya’s oil exports will be forced to halt production within a month unless a blockade is lifted on the port of Marsa el-Hariga, according to the Tripoli-based National Oil Corp. “In less than four weeks we will have to shut production completely because the tanks at Hariga will be full,” Mohamed Harari, a spokesman for NOC, said in an e-mailed statement late on Monday. “The blockade will cause serious harm and bring no benefits.” Factions controlling the east of the North African nation said April 30 that they wouldn’t allow any tankers to depart Hariga without their approval. The move came after the region’s bid to sell a crude cargo independently of the NOC in Tripoli was stymied as the United Nations blacklisted the shipment. Output from the nation has slumped about 80 percent since the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Al Qaddafi as different groups compete for control of oil facilities. Bloomberg

Libya Gets ‘Presidential Guard’
Libya’s government of national unity on Tuesday announced the creation of a new military force to protect government buildings, border posts, vital installations and VIPs, a statement said. It was the first move by the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) to reorganise armed forces in the North African country that has been mired in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi. The GNA announced on its Facebook page that the “Presidential Guard” will be Tripoli-based but will include members of the police and army “selected in different regions” of Libya. It will ensure security at “presidential complexes… and public buildings”, as well as providing close protection for members of the government and “notable guests” of the country.  News 24

US Will Not Seek Death Penalty Against Benghazi Suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala
The justice department will not seek the death penalty against Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected Libyan militant charged in the Benghazi attacks that killed a US ambassador and three other Americans, federal officials announced on Tuesday. The department revealed its decision in a brief court filing that offered no additional explanation. In a separate statement, spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, had made the decision after consulting with prosecutors. Pierce said the department remained “committed to ensuring that the defendant is held accountable” for the 2012 attacks. The Guardian

13 Bodies Found in Mozambique
Mozambique police confirmed on Tuesday that 13 bodies had been found in the restive centre of the country where security forces have clashed with rebels from the Renamo group in recent months. The bodies were reported by local journalists last week while investigating allegations of a separate mass grave containing 120 corpses in the same area. “The 13 bodies were buried on Saturday near the place where they were found,” Armando Mude, police spokesperson for Manica province, told AFP. “Due to their advanced state of decomposition, it was not possible to determine whether the bodies had bullet marks or not.”  News 24

Tensions in Uganda Ahead of Museveni’s Inauguration
Tensions are reportedly rising in Uganda, as members from the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party continue to be arrested ahead of President Yoweri Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony, a report said on Tuesday. According to the Daily Monitor, more FDC members were apprehended on Monday after police stormed the party’s offices. Museveni is set to be sworn in on May 12. Police raided FDC offices on Monday and arrested its deputy secretary Ggneral for administration, Harold Kaija, in Kampala.   Kaija had just finished addressing the FDC weekly media briefing when around 20 police officers stormed the offices. This was the third time that the party’s offices were raided since the February 18 elections. News 24

US Likely to Continue Support for Egypt
For months, some U.S. lawmakers and activists have called on the government to suspend military aid to Egypt over its violent crackdown on dissent.  But analysts say despite these concerns, aid levels will likely remain unchanged and perhaps even rise. Recent weeks have seen a flurry of visits senior U.S. officials, confirming that Washington views President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi as an important partner in maintaining stability in the region. Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Foreign Aid Lindsey Graham last month announced he’d push for “billions” of dollars in emergency aid to countries fighting Islamic State in Libya and Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. BBC

Buried Without a Name: The Untold Story of Europe’s Drowned Migrants
More than 1,250 unnamed men, women and children have been buried in unmarked graves in 70 sites in Turkey, Greece and Italy since 2014, a BBC investigation has found. The majority died trying to cross the Mediterranean to seek a new life in Europe. Over the past two years an estimated 8,000 people have lost their lives trying to cross into the EU, according to figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Most are lost at sea, but many bodies have been washed ashore, bringing tragedy to the beaches of Greece, Italy and Turkey. BBC

The Other Reason Africa’s Elephants Are Dying
Now Nakutit and other Maasai elders near Amboseli do their best to dissuade the next generation of warriors from keeping up the lethal tradition. Wildlife-related tourism has given them a stake in the animals’ survival: A luxury eco-lodge now leases Maasai land and, with a portion of its tourist fees, has paid for new roads, started a school, and funded scholarships for high school and university. “I have already changed my attitude,” Nakutit says. “We see that wild animals have some benefit for us.” But the end of ceremonial killings in the area by men like Nakutit has not halted the eradication of the region’s prized megafauna. That’s because they represent only a small part of the underlying problem: the growing conflict between humans and wildlife over Kenya’s increasingly crowded land. Foreign Policy

Cameroon Cancer Patients Seek Treatment Late, Or Not at All 
The number of cancer cases is expected to double in sub-Saharan Africa in the next fifteen years, as the population grows and people live longer. That was among the findings released at a meeting of African and European cancer experts in Cameroon this month. The continent has a higher than average fatality rate for many cancers as people often seek medical treatment late.  Joseph Baba applies freshly pulled bird feathers, along with various concoctions he prepares, to the chest of Helmine Agbor. She suffers from breast cancer.  Baba has been a popular traditional healer in the Manguier neighborhood of Yaounde for the past 22 years. He says he gets about 15 new cancer patients every month. “It is God given. I treat cancer of the breast, even that of the uterus. I can cut it, then you press, you massage, you massage. I don’t handle cases because I want to. I handle those that I am capable of. Those that I am specialized in. The payment is a foul and raffia [palm wine],” he said. VOA

Senegal’s Handicrafts: Made in China? Cheaper Chinese-made Products May Soon Eclipse Locally Made Traditional Crafts
Every morning, Ibrahima Syla arrives early to open the doors of the Fama Boutique, his shop at the Soumbédioune Craft Village in Dakar’s Medina neighbourhood. Along the narrow shop walls, the entrepreneur arranges his leather creations – handbags, wallets and shoes – fashioned out of snake, crocodile and camel. “Leather is in my blood,” says the 56-year-old, who learned the art of working with animal pelts from his father. “I can kill the animal, tan it, cut it, and produce it.” Syla’s handicrafts retail at between $10 and $175, depending on their size and the type of leather. Many of his customers are European or American tourists eager to snag a leather handbag for a fraction of the price they would pay at home. “Tourists who come to Senegal and appreciate art come to [the Craft Village] to buy something original,” explains Syla. “It is illegal to sell items here that aren’t made in Senegal.” Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones