Media Review for May 12, 2016

DRC Constitutional Court: President’s Mandate Can be Extended if No Vote
DRC President Joseph Kabila, who is constitutionally barred from running for a new term, can remain in office even if no election takes place before his mandate expires at the end of 2016, the Constitutional Court said on Tuesday. The ruling was handed down on the request of the ruling party amid increasing international and domestic concern over the government’s failure to set a date for the next elections, originally due to have been held in November before Kabila’s mandate ends. Kabila, who took over Democratic Republic of Congo on his father’s assassination in 2001, is constitutionally barred from running for a third term. He won successive elections in 2006 and 2011. Wednesday’s ruling followed a request for clarification over Kabila’s fate should the polls fail to be held on schedule before the end of his term, as is widely expected. News 24

Congo Lurches Toward a New Crisis as Leader Tries to Crush a Rival
As hundreds of police officers ringed the courthouse, the mob came barreling up the street. From blocks away, you could hear its hungry roar. “I am Moïse!” the people yelled. “We are ready to die today!” At that moment, Moïse Katumbi, a popular opposition politician who is the gravest threat to President Joseph Kabila’s rule, stepped out of a Mercedes van, wearing a white shirt, white pants and white shoes, the flag of the Democratic Republic of Congo knotted jauntily around his neck. The crowd exploded in a celebratory frenzy. The police officers surged, swinging clubs, slamming protesters to the ground and firing tear gas. Clouds of acrid purple smoke cut through the tropical air. Congo’s government, which is continuously lurching from one crisis to the next, is now playing a very dangerous game. Mr. Kabila, who faces term limits, is resisting international calls and rising pressure in Congo to relinquish power by the end of this year, as Congo’s Constitution requires. Instead, Mr. Kabila seems to be withdrawing deeper inside the corner he has painted himself into. He has unleashed his security forces on protesters, strained relations with powerful friends like the United States and lashed out at perceived enemies.  The New York Times

House Committee on Foreign Affairs – Subcommittee Hearing: The U.S. Role in Helping Nigeria Confront Boko Haram and Other Threats in Northern Nigeria

  • The Honorable Frank R. Wolf,  Distinguished Senior Fellow 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative
  • Mr. Emmanuel Ogebe Special Counsel Justice for Jos Project
  • “Sa’a”, Chibok Schoolgirl Education Must Continue Initiative
  • Christopher Fomunyoh, Ph.D. Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa National Democratic Institute

Children Dying Among Detained “Boko Haram Suspects” in Nigeria – Amnesty
Around 1,200 people, one in 10 of whom are children, are being detained at Giwa barracks in the city of Maiduguri, where they are kept in dirty, overcrowded cells without enough food or water and denied access to legal aid or a trial, Amnesty said. Some 150 people, including seven young children and four babies, have died this year in Giwa barracks, many from disease, hunger, dehydration, and gunshots wounds, according to Amnesty. Nigerian government officials were not immediately available for comment. Former detainees told Amnesty that inmates received half a litre of water each day, lacked access to washing facilities, and slept on the floor in cells that were rarely cleaned. “People are detained, often with their children, in appalling conditions which do not meet basic human rights, or keep them alive,” Amnesty’s Nigeria researcher Daniel Eyre said. Times Live

Youth Riot in Nigeria over Failed Campaign Promise
Angry youth in northern Nigeria torched homes and properties of two politicians on Wednesday over unfulfilled campaign promises made during the lead-up to the vote that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power, witnesses told AFP. A mob of young men stormed and set fire to the country home of Senator Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya and the campaign office and poultry farm of politician Abdullahi Mahmud, located in the town of Gaya, about 50km from Kano, Nigeria’s third-largest city. The politicians, who both were voted in with Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) party last year, had promised to improve on sputtering electricity, limited water supply and rampant unemployment. “They overwhelmed the police who tried in vain to stop them” from committing arson, local resident Usman Bala told AFP, adding that the protesters stole “all the chickens” from the farm. News 24

Just Return Stolen Assets, Nigeria’s Buhari tells UK PM
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Wednesday that he did not want an apology from Prime Minister David Cameron for calling his country “fantastically corrupt”, but said Britain could return assets stolen by officials who fled to London. “I am not going to demand any apology from anybody. What I am demanding is the return of the assets,” Buhari told an anti-corruption event hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London. He noted the case of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of oil-rich Bayelsa state who was detained in London on charges of money-laundering in 2005, but skipped bail by disguising himself as a woman. Alamieyeseigha, who died in Nigeria in October, left behind “his bank account and fixed assets, which Britain is prepared to hand over to us. This is what I’m asking for,” Buhari said. “What would I do with an apology? I need something tangible,” he said.  News 24

U.S. Official: Terror Kills as Many or More in Africa Than Mideast
The number of people killed by terror attacks in Africa in the last year is as large, if not larger, than the deaths inflicted by ISIS in the Middle East, U.S. officials said Tuesday. In response to the assessment, a senior lawmaker questioned whether race explains why the U.S. is not more involved in the fight there. Obama administration officials testifying before the Senate said that even as Africans continue to struggle with militant groups such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, they face the specter of ISIS, also known as ISIL, working to infiltrate their continent in ways that could intensify the terrorist threat. “We are concerned about the risk that the presence and potential expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on the continent will grow,” Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, using one of ISIS’ many names. She said that the number of people killed by African militant groups was “as large, if not larger, than the number of people killed by ISIL.” CNN

Rwandan President Says Public is Forcing Him to Run for Third Term
The Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, has said that he did not want a third term in office but had to bow to entreaties from his people, who were not ready to say goodbye to the architect of the nation’s recovery from the 1994 genocide. Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Africa in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, the president said he was aware that changing the constitution to allow him to run again would draw international criticism but had little say in the matter. The changes, which technically allow Kagame to stay until 2034, were approved in a December referendum by a 98% majority that Rwanda’s tiny opposition and western diplomats said was suspiciously high. “By the way, I didn’t ask for this thing,” Kagame said of the third term during a panel discussion chaired by former British prime minister, Tony Blair, one of Kagame’s most high-profile international supporters. The Guardian

South Africa Withdraws Troops From Darfur
Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says a decision has been taken to withdraw the South African defence forces from Darfur, in Sudan, due to difficult working conditions. The Minster announced this when she tabled the department’s Budget Vote in the National Assembly, on Wednesday. The announcement comes after South Africa had deployed forces to the Darfur region as part of the United Nations (UN)/ African Union (AU) hybrid mission. “The Sudanese government made it increasingly difficult for us to provide logistic support to our troops, and impossible for our forces to protect the women and children of that country,” she said. The UN/AU hybrid mission, which was established in 2007, was given a mandate to protect civilians and contribute to security for humanitarian assistance, monitoring and verifying implementation of agreements, assisting an inclusive political process and contributing to the promotion of human rights. on allAfrica

Social Media Blocked in Uganda Ahead of President Museveni’s Inauguration
Ugandans will soon watch incumbent President Yoweri Museveni be sworn into office for his controversial fifth term after he won over 60% of the vote in elections in February 2016. With the inauguration ceremony coming up on May 12, the Uganda Communications Commission ordered on May 11 that access to social media within the country be blocked. This is déjà vu for Ugandans, who experienced a forced shutdown of social media for four days during the February 18 election, in which opposition leader Kizza Besigye took 35% of the vote. The political opposition claims that the poll was rigged; international observers and human rights groups have also criticized the election process. Besigye and other opposition figures have been under house arrest for much of the time since February, and have relied on social media to organize what they’re calling a “defiance campaign” of protests. Besigye was only able to file a legal challenge against the election results with the help of former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi. Global Voices

Besigye Sworn-in in Mock Ceremony in Kampala
In a day of dramatic events in Kampala, on the eve of President Yoweri Museveni’s inauguration, opposition leader Kizza Besigye was ‘sworn in’ as the president of Uganda. Dr Besigye running on the Forum for Democratic Change party ticket received 35.61 per cent to Museveni’s 60.62 per cent of the vote, which he rejected, claiming to have won with about 52 per cent during the February 18 General Election. As presidents and other dignitaries landed at the Entebbe International Airport to pomp and ceremony and were escorted to Kampala sirens blaring, Besigye, who has been under surveillance by police over threat to public order, made a surprise appearance in the capital attracting crowds. The security forces fired teargas to disperse the throngs and in the ensuing chaos, Besigye was arrested.   In a video posted on YouTube later, Dr Besigye is seen on a podium accompanied by FDC officials taking oath of office with a banner proclaiming him as the elected president of the people’s government of Uganda in the background. The East African

Tunisia Unrest: Deaths in Tatouine and Near Tunis
Four security officers and two suspected fighters have been killed in two separate incidents in the south of Tunisia and near the capital Tunis, according to government sources. A fighter detonated his explosives belt after a firefight erupted in the Tatouine governorate on Wednesday, killing the officers. “One terrorist element was shot dead while the other detonated his explosives belt, killing two officers and two agents of the national guard,” said the interior ministry. Tunisia, the birthplace of the 2011 Arab uprisings, has suffered from a wave of violence since its revolution that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the longtime president. Earlier on Wednesday, two suspected fighters were killed during the raid in Ariana province, just outside Tunis, against a cell planning “simultaneous” attacks, according to AFP news agency. Al Jazeera

Local Official: Somali Commandos Kill 15 in Raid on al-Shabab Base
A Somali commando unit killed at least 15 suspected Islamist fighters Wednesday in a raid on an al-Shabab base in Galgudud region, central Somalia, the second such raid in two days. Local government official Qadar Mohamed Ali told VOA’s Somali service that the aim of the raid was to destroy the base and neutralize the militants’ capacity to organize and carry out regional attacks. Ali said Somali troops seized rocket-propelled grenades and mortars in the raid. He said no Somali troops were killed or injured. The raid came a day after an attack on an al-Shabab base in the village of Toratorow, about 100 kilometers southwest of Mogadishu, in which an unknown number of militants were captured or killed. VOA

Algerian Soldiers Kill 7 Islamist Extremists East of Capital
Algieran soldiers on a search operation have killed seven armed Islamist extremists in the province of Bouira, east of the capital Algiers. A statement by the Defense Ministry said the soldiers killed the seven on Wednesday in Lakhdaria, some 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Algiers. They also recovered a cache of arms, including automatic pistols, rifles and loaded chargers, as well as eight cell phones. The statement suggested some of the seven were early members of the Islamist insurgency that began wracking the North African nation in the 1990s. The ministry said two men, identified as M. Ammar and R. Ali, had joined the armed insurgency in 1993 and 2001 respectively. The insurgency – which left an estimated 200,000 dead – eventually transformed into the North African affiliate of al-Qaida. AP on Stars and Stripes

Sudan’s Bashir PaysRare Visit to Uganda on Thursday
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir would start a two-day visit to Kampala on Thursday to discuss bilateral ties and the situation in South Sudan with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni. Following ten years of strained relations, Museveni visited Khartoum last September where he and Bashir agreed to work together to bring stability in South Sudan and the region, and to end tensions between the two countries over the issue of rebel groups. An official at the Sudanese presidency toldSudan Tribune on condition of anonymity Wednesday that Bashir would travel to Kampala on Thursday in an official visit but he didn’t elaborate on the issue. Sudan Tribune

Kenya, Citing Terror Threat, Plans to Expel Somali Refugees 
The Kenyan government has announced that it plans to expel hundreds of thousands of refugees, a move that aid agencies say would violate international law and endanger many people. For years, Kenya has threatened to shut down the Dadaab refugee camp, where hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been marooned for decades. A sea of tents and plastic shelters spread out across miles of desert near the border with Somalia, the camp has become essentially one of Kenya’s largest cities. On Wednesday, the Kenyan government said that terrorists were using Dadaab as a hide-out. “As a country we have been glad to help our neighbors and all those in need sometimes at the expense of our security,” the government said in a statement. “But there comes a time when we must think primarily about the security of our people. Ladies and gentlemen, that time is now.” Kenya is home to about half a million refugees who have fled years of war and turmoil in neighboring Somalia. But Somalia is hardly at peace now; the Shabab militant group continues to rule large parts of the country, brutalizing and killing civilians. The New York Times

Kenya Leader Says He’ll Seek Second Term to Finish Graft Fight
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said he will “definitely” run for a second term in elections next year, seeking to halt corruption and speed up economic growth. Kenyatta, in an interview published in the Nairobi-based Star newspaper, said that he wants to continue with his reform agenda. The administration made “big strides in a very short period of time,” although the roll out of a new layer of government — with the creation of 47 counties — slowed progress, the leader said. Kenyatta, 54, joined forced with his one-time rival, Vice President William Ruto, on a joint ticket for the 2013 elections, narrowly defeating opposition candidate Raila Odinga who disputed the result. Bloomberg

‘Death Awaits’: Africa Faces Worst Drought in Half a Century
[…] Since time immemorial, shepherds have wandered with their animals through the endless expanses of the Danakil desert. They live primarily off of meat and milk, and it was always a meagre existence. But with the current drought, which has lasted for over a year, their very existence is threatened. “First the livestock die, then the people,” Utban says. The American relief organization USAID estimates that in Afar alone, over a half million cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and camels have perished. Reservoirs are empty, pastures dried up, feed reserves nearly exhausted. With no rain, grass no longer grows. Many nomads are selling their emaciated livestock, but oversupply has led to a 50 percent decline in prices. Currently, millions of African farmers and herders are suffering similar fates to Utban’s. The United Nations estimates that more than 50 million people in Africa are acutely threatened by famine. After years of hope for increased growth and prosperity, the people are once again suffering from poverty and malnutrition. Spiegle

Illegal ‘Blood Gold’ – From War-torn Sudan to Your Phone
Sudan is the third-largest gold producer in Africa, yielding more than 70 tonnes of gold each year. But the journey this gold takes once it’s out of the ground has become increasingly difficult to track. Recent investigations into internal data from accounting firm EY show that a large percentage of Sudan’s gold has been sold to Kaloti, a Dubai-based precious metals solutions and services company responsible for about 40% of Dubai’s gold trade. The emirate’s gold trade is estimated to be worth $75-billion a year and accounts for more than 20% of the international trade in the precious metal. Kaloti is gaining an increasingly unsavoury reputation for allegedly buying gold from conflict zones like the Democratic Republic of Congo and for its loose due diligence processes. During 2012, EY acted as a financial and conflict mineral auditor to Kaloti, which, evidence shows, received most of Sudan’s exported gold in that period. Kaloti flagged its own gold suppliers as high risk, a fact that was known by the auditor. Mail and Guardian

South Africa is the ‘Beacon of the BRICS’
As the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Kigali commences, Michael Rettig, Senior Fellow at Washington’s Africa Center for Strategic Studies, recently and astutely summarized South Africa’s unparalleled imprint on the continent. While no doubt addressing present-day hindrances to short-term prosperity, those inherent in any emerging market and those resonating across Africa, given the commodity crisis, he emphasized the Rainbow Nation’s vibrant presence in global geopolitics and today, ever-globalizing business. South Africa “consistently ranks among the best countries in the region to do business and hosts nearly a quarter of all of sub-Saharan foreign direct investment projects,” Rettig writes. And Michael, that’s just scratching the surface. Beyond the fact that viable returns from a continent and market of nearly 1.5 billion people are too attractive to ignore, it’s clear that one of the most reliable methods to achieve success, integrate and develop business in Africa has been and remains through the ‘Beacon of the BRICS’; the South African ‘thruway’. Business Insider

Magic and Murder: Albinism in Malawi
Certainly not since early 2015, and the start of a wave of “ritual killings” of people born with albinism: an inherited genetic condition in which the body fails to produce enough pigment, or melanin. Since January last year, there have been 17 recorded murders of people with albinism in Malawi, and 66 cases of abductions and other related crimes. “Anyone born with albinism in this country is living in fear of attack, no matter how socially connected one is,” said Chipungu, a 32-year-old graduate and civil servant. Albinism affects roughly one in 17,000 people globally, but in sub-Saharan Africa the incidence is higher, typically as common as one in 5,000. In Tanzania, it is one in 1,400. People with the genetic trait often experience taunting and discrimination. They can be accused of being “ghosts” or “witches” or derided in other ways for somehow being less than human. IRIN