Media Review for May 16, 2016

After Years of Distrust, U.S. Military Reconciles With Nigeria to Fight Boko Haram
Less than two years after it blocked a sale of American-made attack helicopters to Nigeria from Israel because of human rights concerns, the Obama administration says it is poised to sell up to 12 light attack aircraft to Nigeria as part of an effort to support the country’s fight against the Boko Haram militant group. But the pending sale of the Super Tucano attack warplanes — which would require congressional approval — is already coming under criticism from human rights organizations that say President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has not yet done enough to stop the abuses and corruption that flourished in the military under his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. Officials at the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon have been bracing for a fight with congressional Democrats, in particular Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, over the sale of the planes. The proposed sale reflects the warming of the relationship between the Nigerian and American militaries, which had frayed under Mr. Jonathan. The Pentagon often bypassed Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram, choosing to work directly with neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The New York Times

Boko Haram May be Sending Fighters to Isis in Libya – US Officials
There are signs that Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadists are sending fighters to join Isis in Libya, and of increased cooperation between the two groups, a senior US official said on Friday. Nigeria has asked the US to sell it aircraft to fight Boko Haram, which has been waging a seven-year insurgency in the north and last year pledged loyalty to Isis, which is active in Syria, Iraq and Libya. Little is known about the extent of cooperation between the two radical Islamist groups. But western governments worry Isis’s growing presence in north Africa and ties with Boko Haram could herald a push south into the vast, lawless Sahel region and create a springboard for wider attacks. US deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken said there were “reports” Boko Haram fighters were going to Libya, where Isis has established a large presence, taking advantage of security chaos. The Guardian

Five Boko Haram Leaders Captured, Dozens of Hostages Freed
The multinational forces fighting the Islamic extremists of Boko Haram have arrested five of the group’s leaders and freed dozens of captive women and children, Cameroon’s government announced Saturday. The raids targeting Boko Haram bases in the northern Madawaya forest earlier this month freed 28 children and at least 18 women, government spokesman Issa Tchiroma said. Boko Haram had set up camp in the forest after fleeing another military operation in neighboring Nigeria and had been training captive young girls and women as suicide bombers, he said. The news came as French President Francois Hollande joined several West African leaders at a summit in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, where they discussed progress in the fight against Boko Haram and how to resolve the humanitarian crisis it has created. The extremist group has forced more than 2 million people to flee their homes, some across borders. CS Monitor

Cameroon, Allies Claim Gains in Fight Against Boko Haram
Cameroon and its allies in a multinational force are claiming gains in two operations last week against the Boko Haram militant group in Nigeria. Cameroonian casualties from the operations have reached hospitals in Maroua but morale reportedly remains high. Thirty wounded Cameroonian soldiers have been ferried in the past four days to the military hospital in Maroua on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria. Among them is 26-year-old Fabian Ngo who says he was wounded when his vehicle hit a landmine returning from the Nigerian town of Kumche after raids that destroyed four Boko Haram training camps. “While coming back, our vehicle climbed on a mine. That is how we had a shock, this incident. From there, they brought me here and now we are [making] a difference, I am feeling so happy. This is what we have been waiting for so long. Maybe in two months when my legs will get [treated] I will wear my uniforms and rangers and will go back and continue my mission,” Ngo said. VOA

Around 100 Arrested in Burundi Opposition Strongholds
Around 100 people have been arrested in the capital of Burundi in the latest of a series of roundups by security forces targeting opposition strongholds, officials and witnesses have said. Freddy Mbonimpa, the mayor of Bujumbura, told journalists that the operations were necessary to “control and manage the movement of the people,” but residents said the result was widespread fear. Friday’s roundup in Musaga, a southern neighbourhood that has seen regular anti-government protests since Burundi’s crisis began more than a year ago, was characteristic of security sweeps of recent weeks. According to witnesses, dozens of police and soldiers went from one door to another and from one street to another compiling lists of residents and visitors and taking many, mostly young men, away for questioning. Daily Nation

Uganda: Opposition’s Kizza Besigye Charged with Treason 
Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has been under virtual house arrest since a presidential election in February, was charged with treason after being whisked out of the capital, his lawyers said. Besigye disputed veteran President Yoweri Museveni’s victory in the election. Since polling day, his house has been ringed by police, spiked barriers placed on the road to it and visitors vetted. The government insists Museveni’s victory was valid and says Besigye is trying to hold illegal protests. He was arrested in the capital Kampala on Wednesday after staging a ceremony at which he was mock sworn-in as president and taken to Moroto, a town about 400km away. Al Jazeera

Uganda Now Shifts Focus to Review of Constitution
After President Yoweri Museveni’s swearing-in, attention now shifts to constitutional reforms, with some leaders suggesting that removal of the age limit is the only remaining hurdle that can stop President Museveni, 71, from extending his stay at the expiry of his current term in 2021. Constitutional and electoral reforms remain key demands from both the opposition and activists. However, these demands are being countered by quiet mobilisation within the ruling National Resistance Movement to remove any hurdles to another Museveni candidature after the next five years. It was understood that the matter came up for discussion at the new NRM MPs induction retreat in Kyankwanzi Leadership Training Institute between March 25 and 30. At his inauguration, President Museveni focused on his agenda for the next five years and launched a vitriolic attack on the West’s hypocrisy in regard to the International Criminal Court. The East African

Sudan Government Forced South African Withdrawal from UNAMID
South Africa’s withdrawal from the hybrid AU/UN peace support mission in Sudan last month was because the Sudanese government had made it “increasingly difficult” for proper logistic support to be provided to deployed soldiers. This is according to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who told MPs during her budget vote in Parliament this week that this contributed to “making it impossible for our forces to protect the women and children of that country”. “As a result a decision was taken to withdraw from UNAMID with effect from April 1. The force will not be replaced. A team of logistic experts will manage the withdrawal of remaining SANDF assets and equipment over a six month period.” DefenceWeb

Al-Qaeda Affiliates are Threatening West Africa’s Most Peaceful Cities
In a city where nightclubs and mosques coexist peacefully, Islamist violence long felt like a foreign problem — something residents watched on news clips from the Middle East or other parts of ­Africa. “We just didn’t worry very much about it,” said Abdullaye Diene, the deputy imam of the country’s largest mosque. “Here you can spend your nights drinking at the disco and then shake the hand of the imam.” But Senegal and its neighbors are facing a new threat from extremists moving far from their traditional strongholds in northwest Africa. Since November, militant groups have killed dozens of people in assaults on hotels, a cafe and a beachside resort in West Africa, passing through porous borders with impunity. The attacks have occurred in countries that had been rebounding from political turbulence, such as Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Now fears of such bloodshed are growing in this pro-Western democracy, which serves as a ­regional hub for international ­organizations. The Washington Post

Egyptian Court Jails 152 People over Islands Protest
An Egyptian court sentenced 152 protesters on Saturday to between two and five years in prison each after they demonstrated against a decision to transfer two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, judicial sources and state media said. Hundreds of police officers were deployed in central Cairo on April 25 to quell protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision to hand over Tiran and Sanafir islands. More than 200 people are being tried in connection with the protests, the judicial sources said. Of those sentenced on Saturday, 101 received five-year prison terms and 51 received two-year sentences, judicial sources and the state-owned al-Ahram newspaper said. The 152 protesters were convicted of breaking a law banning people from protesting without first notifying the Interior Ministry, the judicial sources said. Reuters

Egypt Sentences 101 Protesters to 5 Years in Prison
Egyptian officials say two Cairo courts have convicted and sentenced to five years in jail a total of 101 protesters for taking part in peaceful, anti-government demonstrations last month. The officials on Sunday said the 101 were convicted of breaking a disputed 2013 law that effectively bans street protests. Of the 101, 79 were also fined $10 000 each. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media. The sentences were passed late on Saturday, hours after another Cairo court sentenced 51 protesters to two years in jail for their part in last month’s demonstrations, which were called to protest Egypt’s decision to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia as part of a demarcation deal. News 24

US Sends Armored Vehicles to Egypt to Combat Islamic State
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo says Egypt has received its first shipment of armored vehicles designed to protect soldiers from roadside bombs. The embassy said in a statement that the first batch of 762 MRAP (Mine Resistance Ambush Protected) vehicles was delivered Thursday, and is aimed at helping to “combat terrorism and promote stability in the region.” Egypt has been struggling to contain an insurgency based in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, where an Islamic State affiliate has carried out scores of attacks mainly targeting the army and police. The delivery came nearly two weeks after a visit by Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford, his second trip to Egypt in two months. AP on Stars and Stripes

Somalia and Somaliland Restart Dialogue
Mogadishu, far from one of the world’s flushest governments, has been quick to point out the donation was not designed to influence the talks in Turkey due on 31 May. It is “not meant to gain any political sympathies, but it is brotherly responsibility to help each other in these difficult times,” said Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mohamed Omar Arteh. Northern Somalia is facing an El Nino-related disaster. Nearly 1.7 million people out of a population of 4.6 million in Somaliland and Puntland need some form of humanitarian assistance, according to OCHA, the UN’s office for humanitarian coordination. In some areas the drought has destroyed 60 to 80 percent of cattle, in a region where families depend on livestock for income, food and status.OCHA has appealed for $105 million to help tackle the crisis. Relations between Somalia and the self-declared independent republic of Somaliland have historically been extremely sensitive. IRIN

Nelson Mandela: CIA Tip-off Led to 1962 Durban Arrest
Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962 came as a result of a tip-off from an agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), a report says. The revelations, made in the Sunday Times newspaper, are based on an interview with ex-CIA agent Donald Rickard shortly before he died. Mandela served 27 years in jail for resisting white minority rule before being released in 1990. He was subsequently elected as South Africa’s first black president. Rickard, who died earlier this year, was never formally associated with the CIA but worked as a diplomat in South Africa before retiring in the late 70s. The interview was conducted by British film director John Irvin, who has made a film, Mandela’s Gun, about his brief career as an armed rebel, the Sunday Times said. BBC

UN Report: Congolese officers Got Pistols from North Koreans
U.N. experts say Congolese army officers and police reported receiving pistols from a group of 30 North Korean instructors training their presidential guard and special police forces, which would appear to be a violation of U.N. sanctions banning Pyongyang from exporting weapons or providing military training. The panel of experts monitoring U.N. sanctions against Congo said they found that pistols similar to those produced in North Korea were issued to some members of the Congolese army and national police serving in the U.N. peacekeeping mission. “The group also found that the same type of pistol was available for sale on the black market in Kinshasa,” the Congolese capital, the panel said in excerpts from the report seen by The Associated Press on Friday. On another issue, the experts said Rwanda is continuing to train and finance Burundian refugees in Congo with the ultimate goal of removing Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza from power. AP on Stars and Stripes

Long Emphasis on Terror May Hurt U.S. in Conventional War, Army Chief Says
When Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army chief of staff, stepped off his jet into the sunshine here on Sunday, it was the first time the Obama administration had sent its top Army officer to Africa for a high-level meeting to get the continent’s fledgling militaries in shape to deal with growing terrorist threats. As General Milley plunged into three days of talks with senior military officials from 38 African countries, the biggest question facing him was not how the United States would work with those militaries to contain the threats. Among them are four militant groups that American officials say are capable of carrying out attacks in Europe as well as across Africa: the Islamic State affiliate in Libya, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda in northwestern Africa and the Shabab in Somalia. The New York Times

Questionable Deal: EU to Work with African Despot to Keep Refugees Out
The ambassadors of the 28 European Union member states had agreed to secrecy. “Under no circumstances” should the public learn what was said at the talks that took place on March 23rd, the European Commission warned during the meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee. A staff member of EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini even warned that Europe’s reputation could be at stake. Under the heading “TOP 37: Country fiches,” the leading diplomats that day discussed a plan that the EU member states had agreed to: They would work together with dictatorships around the Horn of Africa in order to stop the refugee flows to Europe — under Germany’s leadership. When it comes to taking action to counter the root causes of flight in the region, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said, “I strongly believe that we must improve peoples’ living conditions.” The EU’s new action plan for the Horn of Africa provides the first concrete outlines: For three years, €40 million ($45 million) is to be paid out to eight African countries from the Emergency Trust Fund, including Sudan. Spiegle

Equatorial Guinea, Gabon Expelling Central African Migrants
Several hundred people from Central African nations are stranded in southern Cameroon after being expelled from neighboring Equatorial Guinea and Gabon this month. Equatorial Guinea and Gabon say they are expelling foreigners who do not have proper identification papers. The majority of those being expelled are economic migrants from around Central Africa. They complain that authorities in those two countries ransacked their homes, seized their money and deposited them on the border at Kiossi. Some had only just arrived in those countries while others had been living there for years. Bakari Zhouli, a 45-year old engineer from Chad, says his documents were taken and he is stuck. He says he is surprised that the government of Equatorial Guinea is chasing out the people who helped to transform many parts of their country from mere foot paths, forests and abandoned cocoa plantations into a developing country. He says he helped transform the capital, Bata, in the 15 years he was there.VOA

Gambia President Hits out at Senegal over Border Dispute
Provocative comments by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh on Sunday threatened to overshadow talks with Senegal aimed at resolving a three-month border blockade. Hours before the two countries’ foreign ministers sat down to talks in Dakar, Jammeh laid out his views on the dispute in forthright comments broadcast on state television on Saturday. “I have no intention of going to settle the issue of the border because our border is opened,” the president said. “They closed the border and I will not negotiate with someone that closed the border.” The border blockade, which has created shortages of essential daily items on both sides of the frontier, followed The Gambia’s decision to slap a hundred-fold hike on fees for trucks entering its territory – which is completely surrounded by Senegal. news 24

War-Weary Somalis Flee for Europe as Rebuilding Comes Too Slow
When hundreds of Somalis were reported drowned in the Mediterranean last month, Abdi Deeq didn’t rethink his plans to flee the Horn of Africa nation and risk the illicit crossing to Europe. More than two decades of Somali civil war and a bloody al-Qaeda-aligned insurgency have left the 22-year-old student with little hope his country is becoming safer or more prosperous. Even as the capital, Mogadishu, rebuilds and elections are scheduled this year, near-daily bombings, rampant corruption and few career opportunities mean he’s one of many young Somalis who see moving abroad as their only choice. “Many students who were my classmates risked their lives going to Europe — some died in the sea and others survived,” Deeq said in an interview in the city. “I am ready to join those friends.” Bloomberg

Years after Exile, Ugandan Indians regain Status of Economic Pillars
Drop by an upmarket hotel, cafe or restaurant in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, and the chances are the owner will be an Asian from the Indian sub-continent. From running banks, farms, supermarkets and shopping malls, Ugandan Asians have regained their prominent role in the country’s economy, following their expulsion more than four decades ago. About 50,000 Asians were made to leave the country in 1972, on the orders of military ruler Idi Amin, who accused them of “milking the economy”. At the time, they ran 90 per cent of the country’s businesses and accounted for 90 per cent of tax revenues. Since their return to the country in the 1980s and 1990s, Asians have once again become a pillar of the country’s economy. After they were forced to leave, a large, prosperous community of Ugandan Asians found itself scattered across the globe, many having lost businesses they spent years working on. In the years which followed, Uganda’s economy slumped. Daily Nation



Photo: Adam Jones