Media Review for May 17, 2016

U.S. and Allies Ready to Help arm Libyan forces Against Islamic State
Diplomats from 25 countries and international organizations, including the United States, said Monday that they are considering arming and training the new unity government in Libya so it can fight the spread of terrorist groups in the country and counter the smuggling of migrants to Europe. In a joint communique after a lengthy meeting on ways to rein in chaos in Libya, the diplomats said they would support Libya’s request to be exempted from a U.N. embargo that was put in place five years ago to keep arms out of the hands of Islamist militants and rival militias locked in a power struggle. Other parts of the embargo would be reinforced, the communique said, so that arms go only to the forces being established by the “government of national accord” that returned to Libya six weeks ago when Prime Minister Fayez Serraj arrived on a boat with his allies.  The Washington Post

Pentagon Admits US troops Still in Libya
The US military doesn’t have a “great picture” of the situation in Libya, but small teams of US special operations forces continue working in the war-torn country to gain intelligence, a spokesman said Monday. The Pentagon was forced to acknowledge in December that a team of US commandos had gone to Libya after they were kicked out the country by local forces who posted a photograph of the men on Facebook. The United States still has a “small presence” in Libya tasked with trying to identify the players and which groups might be able to assist the United States in its mission to combat ISIS, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told reporters. Exploiting Libya’s power vacuum, the militants have established a firm foothold in the North African country, especially in the coastal city of Sirte. “This small presence of US forces has been trying to identify players on the ground, and try and find out exactly what are their motives and what they are trying to do,” Cook said. AFP on Al Arabiya

Burundi Says Rwanda Expels 1,300 Burundians as Relations Fray
Rwanda has expelled more than 1,300 Burundians in the past week after they refused to move to refugee camps, senior Burundi officials said on Monday, amid signs a political crisis is testing relations between the neighbouring countries. Rwandan officials were not immediately available for comment on the reported removals of Burundians who had been working there, many of them for years – an account confirmed by one of those affected. Rwanda has been hosting tens of thousands of people who have fled more than a year of political violence in Burundi – and others who have crossed the border for years for work, often without formal permission. “They were asked to go to refugee camps or return back to Burundi,” the governor of Burundi’s Kirundo province next to the Rwandan border, Melchior Nankwahomba, told Reuters by phone. “Those who refused to go to refugee camps were chased … and stripped of their possessions,” he said, adding that they were pushed out by local officials. Reuters

Systematic Roundups Spread Fear in Burundi
Freddy Mbonimpa, mayor of Bujumbura, told AFP the operations were necessary to “control and manage the movement of the people,” but residents said the result was widespread fear. Friday’s round-up in Musaga — a southern neighbourhood that has seen regular anti-government protests since Burundi’s crisis began over a year ago — was characteristic of the security sweeps of recent weeks. Dozens of police and soldiers went door-to-door, street-by-street, compiling lists of residents and visitors and taking many away for questioning, mostly young men, according to witnesses. “They took all the men, young people and even students in uniforms going to school”, said a female resident of Musaga who said her husband and two sons were taken away. Times Live

Tanzania Purges 10,000 ‘Ghost Workers’ in Anti-corruption Drive
Tanzania has removed more than 10,000 “ghost workers” from its public sector payroll in a crackdown on corruption. Payments to the non-existent employees had been costing the government more than $2m (£1.4m) a month, according to the prime minister’s office. The authorities say they are continuing to audit the public payroll and expect to find more phantom workers. President John Magufuli, who was elected in October, has promised to cut wasteful public expenditure in office. He ordered the audit in March, calling for the money saved to be used towards development. BBC

Kenya Police Fire Tear Gas on Protesters Urging Electoral Reform
The police chief for Nairobi central, Paul Wanjama, said at least 15 demonstrators were detained during the protests in central Nairobi on Monday. They are to be charged on Tuesday, although Wanjama did not say what accusations they would face. Officers armed with batons confronted hundreds of protesters outside the offices of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). Monday’s demonstration was the third clash over the issue in less than a month. Odinga wrote on Twitter, “Despite the use of undue force by police, our peaceful pickets shall continue every week until the IEBC is reformed.” Deutsche Welle

Nigerian Oil Output Down 40 Percent in Volatile South
Nigeria’s oil production has fallen by nearly 40 percent because of militant attacks in the country’s south, according to Minister of State for Petroleum Resources Emmanuel Kachikwu. Kachikwu told the lower house of parliament Monday that the country’s crude oil production had declined from 2.2. million barrels per day to 1.4 million barrels per day. He said the loss of 800,000 barrels per day is due to “incessant attacks and disruption of production in the Niger Delta.” Nigeria relies upon the production of crude oil for the bulk of its national income and the 2016 budget assumes production of 2.2 million barrels per day at $38 a barrel. Attacks on oil infrastructure are on the rise in Nigeria’s south, where a group calling itself the Niger Delta Avengers has been vandalizing oil facilities. The group is calling for a greater share of oil profits for the region’s residents and has vowed to damage Nigeria’s economy. VOA

Senegal-Gambia Border Talks Break Up
A first round of Senegal-Gambia talks to end a three-month border blockade has ended without agreement amid an impasse over a long-delayed bridge project, a senior advisor to Senegal’s foreign minister said on Monday. “We will consult our experts about the issue of the bridge, and the next meeting will be in July,” the advisor said after several hours of talks between Senegal’s foreign minister Mankeur Ndiaye and his Gambian counterpart Neneh Mcdouall-Geye on Sunday. The advisor said the Dakar government would encourage militant truckers blocking commercial traffic to halt the standoff. “Senegal will work with those involved to re-open the border to traffic,” the source said. The 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. News 24

Rwanda Genocide Perpetrator Gets Life in Sweden
A Stockholm court on Monday sentenced a Swede of Rwandan origin to life in prison for genocide and war crimes for his involvement in the 1994 massacres. Claver Berinkidi, 61, moved to Sweden in 2002 and was naturalised in 2012. In 2007 a Rwandan court sentenced him in absentia to 30 years behind bars, and authorities later tracked him down to Sweden, where officials opened an inquiry. Basing its decision mainly on the testimonies of survivors, the Swedish court said Berinkidi had a commanding role and took part in five attacks in April and May 1994, including an assault in the Nyamure hills that killed thousands of civilians. “While the genocide took place 22 years ago, this category of crime is so grave that the sentence should be life in prison,” the court said in a statement. News 24

Uganda: Museveni Orders Investigation Into Besigye’s Escape
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Monday ordered an investigation into how opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye escaped house arrest prior to Museveni’s Thursday inauguration. Besigye’s dramatic escape last Wednesday from his home just outside Kampala, despite it being under tight military siege, preceded his umpteenth arrest in downtown Kampala as his followers thronged his car prompting riot police to disperse the crowds with clubs and teargas. Following the escape Museveni ordered police chief Gen Kale Kayihura to investigate whether some of his top officers were involved in allowing the dramatic escape. “Insider sources said the investigating team will include officers from the presidential guard unit called the Special Forces Command (SFC) and some officers from the Police Professional Standards Unit (PSU). The team has less than two weeks to report its findings,” reported The Observer. More than 20 police officers deployed to guard the home of former presidential guard were arrested as part of the investigation. IOL News

Nigeria: FG May Integrate Civilian JTF Into Military, Police – Buhari
The Federal Government may integrate members of the Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF) into the Nigerian military and police after the war against the Boko Haram. President Muhammadu Buhari gave this indication while responding to questions at a press conference after the 2nd Regional Security Summit in Abuja on Saturday. “For those who have received military training, it will be advised either to recruit them if they are within the age bracket of recruitment in the military or the police,” Buhari said. He allayed fears that the Civilian JTF could constitute another security challenge to the country after the defeat of Boko Haram. “They have been of tremendous help to the military because they are from there, they have local intelligence and some of them are retired military or retired policemen. Since they were drawn by the authorities of their respective states, they were taken into confidence and trusted. Personally, with the experience I have as a military man and during the civil war, using local intelligence, using local authorities from ward, to local government, to the state can improve our intelligence collection,” Buhari noted. Daily Trust on allAfricaAfrican Army Chiefs Gather in Arusha for Week’s Meet
For the first time, Tanzania is hosting the African Land Forces Summit, a weeklong training seminar which has brought to Arusha army chiefs in-charge of land forces from across the continent as well as the United States. The ‘African Land Forces Summit 2016,’ which starts here today is being held at the East African Community (EAC) headquarters premises under the coordination of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) and the United States Army Africa (USARAF). Like the previous African Land Forces Summits, this year’s ALFS is yet another annual, weeklong summit which has brought together land force chiefs of staff from throughout the African continent to discuss mutual threats and challenges from a regional perspective.  Tanzania News Daily on allAfrica

Defence Lawyers Seek Shorter War Crimes Sentence for DR Congo’s Bemba
Bemba’s case is the first before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to focus on sexual violence as a weapon of war, and the first to find a military commander to blame for the atrocities perpetrated by forces even though he did not order them. Both defence and prosecution teams were to argue their case in three days of sentencing hearings before judges at the court in The Hague. The three judges convicted the former feared rebel leader in March on five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. A chilling series of rapes, murders and atrocities were committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 to March 2003 by troops from Bemba’s Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC). Times Live

Africa’s Electoral Landscape: Concerning Signals, Reassuring Trends 
Between March 2016 and December 2017, there will be at least 52 presidential and parliamentary elections in 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. With memories of the intense violence following the elections in Kenya (2007), Zimbabwe (2009), Côte d’Ivoire (2010), and Nigeria (2011), many international and regional institutions have become more focused on understanding the motivations and triggers for electoral violence. Research of electoral violence between 1990 and 2008 by Scott Straus and Charlie Taylor and additional data from the U.S. State Department’s 2008–14 Human Rights Reports provide a sense of the scope and type of electoral violence predominant in sub-Saharan Africa. The data tell us that the likelihood of electoral violence varies greatly across the continent. Many countries experience no electoral violence, while others have intensely violent elections. Moreover, the risk of violence can differ from year to year within the same country.  Africa Center for Strategic Studies

You Can Have Our Millions — But First You Must Pass Our Test
What’s the best way to help out someone in need? Just give money? Or try to make sure they’ll spend the money effectively? That’s a dilemma that’s faced anyone confronted by someone begging on the street. And it’s an international problem as well. When rich countries give aid to poor countries, how do they know the money will go to good use? The Millennium Challenge Corporation has come up with one strategy. MCC, as it’s called, is a U.S. government foreign aid agency created by Congress in 2004 to fight global poverty. Its mission says: “MCC forms partnerships with some of the world’s poorest countries, but only those committed to good governance, economic freedom and investments in their citizens.”  NPR

Corruption Probe Nabs 14 More Cameroon Officials
Cameroon has arrested and jailed more than a dozen government administrators and project managers in a crackdown on corruption. But many think President Paul Biya, who has been in power for 34 years, is just silencing his opponents. Among the 14 senior state officials arrested and detained within the past two weeks is Joseph Andre Eyebe Eyebe, the highest ranking government official in the western town of Bangante. Cameroon’s Justice Ministry says he and 13 others were charged by the country’s special criminal tribunal for corruption cases and taken to prison in Yaounde, the capital. Justice Ministry spokesman Etienne Dika says the 14 men are accused of embezzling $9 million that was to be paid as compensation for people evicted from land used for the construction of a deep sea port in Kribi. VOA

WHO Guidelines Aim to Help Millions of Victims of Female Genital Mutilation
Every year, the World Health Organization reports that some 3 million girls, most under the age of 15, are subject to female genital mutilation. This number adds to the hefty toll of more than 200 million girls and women already living with the harmful consequences of this brutal, inhumane practice. For the first time, WHO is issuing guidelines to help health workers provide better physical and psychological care for these girls and women. Female genital mutilation, or FGM, involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is prevalent in 30 African countries, as well as a few countries in Asia and the Middle East. In addition, with increased global migration, more cases of FGM are occurring in Europe and North America. Lale Say, coordinator in WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research, says FGM can cause as pain, severe bleeding and even death. VOA

Brazil, China Roles in African Farming Explained
A special issue of World Development, out this month (May), examines the real roles that China and Brazil are playing in African agriculture, moving beyond what the authors consider as  “simplistic narratives of South-South collaboration or neo-imperial expansion”. Eight papers culled from an input of 20 research collaborators detail how Brazil and China are impacting the African economy. The work, organised via the Future Agricultures Consortium, was supported with roughly US$ 934,000 in UK Economic and Social Research Council funding. The project set out to explore what is actually going on in Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, where Brazil and China have made investments, says Ian Scoones, fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, the UK, and editor of the issue. “There has been much debate about the role of the rising powers in African economies, and agriculture has been highlighted as an important area of investment,” says Scoones. He notes that claims made about the Brazilian and Chinese presence range from “accusations of land grabbing to the importation of huge numbers of workers.” SciDev.Net



Photo: Adam Jones