Media Review for May 19, 2016

EgyptAir Flight MS804 from Paris to Cairo Crashed – Hollande
An EgyptAir flight from Paris to Cairo is feared to have crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after disappearing from radar overnight. The Airbus A320 went missing at 02:30 Cairo time (00:30 GMT), soon after leaving Greek airspace. There were 56 passengers – including three children – seven crew members and three security personnel on board Flight MS804, EgyptAir said. Airbus confirmed “the loss” of the 13-year-old plane. A major search and rescue operation is under way involving the Greek and Egyptian armed forces. France has offered to send boats and planes to help in the effort. BBC

Chibok Schoolgirl Abducted and Held by Boko Haram Found After Two Years
A young woman carrying a baby emerged Wednesday from the Ni­ger­ian bush with a story that began over two years ago: She was among the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Islamist militiamen and the first to be found since shortly after the hostage-taking. The fast-moving events that followed — the announcement of her recovery, her reunion with her mother — were celebrated by activists and others who had helped rally support as high as the White House for the students held by the militant group Boko Haram. The end of the woman’s ordeal was likely to raise hopes that others held by Boko Haram could find freedom. But the militants remain a significant force despite widening military campaigns — backed by U.S. drone surveillance — in Nigeria and surrounding countries including Cameroon and Chad. The Washington Post

Victims of Boko Haram, and Now Shunned by Their Communities
Zara and her little brother thought they were finally safe. After being held captive by Boko Haram for months, they made it to this government camp for thousands of civilians who have fled the militants’ cruelty. But instead of a welcome, residents gathered around, badgering them with questions and glares. They beat her 10-year-old brother, convinced that anyone who has spent time among the militants, even a young kidnapping victim, could have become a sympathizer, possibly even a suicide bomber. Zara, in fact, was hiding a dangerous secret strapped to her back: her baby. The child’s father was a Boko Haram fighter who had raped her, but Zara knew the crowd would still doubt her loyalties. So she quickly spun a tale that the militants had killed her husband, leaving her a young, widowed mother. “If they knew my baby was from an insurgent, they wouldn’t allow us to stay,” said Zara, whose full name was not used, to protect her safety. “They’ll never forget who her father is, just like a leopard never forgets its spots.” The New York Times

Car Bomb, Clashes with ISIS Kill 32 Libya Unity Govt Forces: Military
Thirty-two fighters loyal to Libya’s unity government were killed in clashes with ISIS militants and a car bombing Wednesday near the ISIS stronghold of Sirte, the military said. “The toll of today’s martyrs reached 32, and 50 others were wounded,” the operations room set up by the new Government of National Unity (GNA) said on its Facebook page and Twitter account late Wednesday, updating an earlier toll of 18 dead. Of the earlier toll, seven died in a car bomb attack in Buairat el-Hassun, 60 kilometers (35 miles) west of Sirte and the others were killed in an IS foray in Abu Grein, further west, that the GNA recaptured on Tuesday. Libya descended into chaos after the toppling and death of Muammar Qaddafi five years ago and soon turned into a battleground of rival militias battling for powers. More recently, the power vacuum has allowed ISIS radicals to expand their presence, giving them a potential base in a country separated from Europe only by a relatively small stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. In a related story, bank guards shot dead three people as they tried to disperse a crowd of hundreds of people queuing for cash outside a bank in the Libyan capital Tripoli on Wednesday, a security official said. AFP on Al Arabiya

African Nations Back Moves to Arm Libya govt
The African Union on Wednesday threw its weight behind Italian and US-led moves to stabilise Libya that include arming a national unity government to fight Islamic State militants. Western powers are also keen to see Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj’s fledgling administration establish its authority over the whole country so it can actively contribute to efforts to stem the flow of mostly African migrants using Libya as a launchpad to get to Europe. The two issues were at the centre of an Italy-Africa summit in Rome on Thursday and Chad, which currently holds the AU’s rotating presidency, welcomed this week’s acceleration of international action on Libya. “The situation in Libya deserves to have our full attention,” Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat told ministers from Italy and more than 40 African states. News 24

ISIL Accused of Unlawfully Executing Dozens in Libya Bastion
ISIL has unlawfully executed dozens of people in its Libyan stronghold of Sirte, said Human Rights Watch on Wednesday in a report documenting the extremist group’s atrocities. The New York-based watchdog recounts scenes of horror that followed the city’s seizure by ISIL militants in February 2015 – including instances of crucifixions and shooting a man to death for “cursing God”. The group has also been accused of diverting food, medicine, fuel and cash from the port city. At least 49 people had been killed by methods including decapitation and shooting for alleged crimes including blasphemy, sorcery and spying, HRW said in a report based on a series of interviews conducted in March this year. “The Sirte residents described public beheadings, corpses in orange jumpsuits hanging from scaffolding in what they termed ‘crucifixions’ and masked fighters snatching men from their beds in the night,” it said in the 41-page report entitled “‘We Feel We Are Cursed’: Life under ISIS in Sirte, Libya”. “They said morality police aided by informants patrolled the streets, threatening, fining or flogging men for smoking, listening to music, or failing to ensure their wives and sisters were covered in loose black abayas.”  The National

EU Sanctions Mooted Amid DR Congo Crackdown
Britain warned Friday it may seek EU sanctions over “acts of repression” in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as police clashed with supporters of a key opposition leader accused of hiring foreign mercenaries. The warning came after the mineral-rich African country’s Constitutional Court this week ruled that President Joseph Kabila, in power since 2001, can stay in office beyond 2016 without being re-elected. “We are talking to our European colleagues about targeted sanctions against those responsible” for violence and intimidation against the opposition, said Danae Dholakia, Britain’s special envoy to Africa’s Great Lakes region. “The position of the United Kingdom is that the people responsible for acts of repression or violence will take responsibility for their actions or decisions,” said Dholakia. The diplomat was referring to the recent legal woes of Moise Katumbi, an opposition candidate for elections in theory due before the end of the year, investigated for some 10 days about the alleged recruitment of mercenaries. AFP on Al Arabiya

Collective Punishment in Congo
People already made homeless by the conflict in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo are once more at risk, threatened by the closure of camps in North Kivu Province by politicians and the military who regard them as sanctuaries for rebel fighters. The killing of two soldiers in March in Mpati, in the Masisi region, allegedly by shots fired from inside a camp, was the final straw for the local authorities. They accuse FDLR rebels (originally made up of Hutu forces accused of participating in the Rwandan genocide) of sheltering among the displaced. According to North Kivu Governor Julien Paluku, the “camps are reservoirs for criminals”. The alleged ease of access for gunmen is frustrating the military campaign against the FDLR, who are accused of rape, killings, extortion and forced recruitment among civilians. IRIN

Morocco Summons US Ambassador, Fumes over Rights Report
Morocco’s foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador on Wednesday to express anger over a “scandalous” State Department report on human rights in the North African kingdom. The ministry said in a statement it protested to the ambassador, Dwight Bush, over “manipulation and flagrant factual errors” in the report released on April 13. It questioned “the true aims and motivation” behind the critical report. “Morocco is a state of institutions and has national structures whose credibility and seriousness are widely acknowledged,” the ministry said. “Serious allegations such as those contained in the State Department report give the impression that these institutions do not fulfil their duties.” GlobalPost

Burundi Peace Talks to Resume Without Opposition
Burundi’s main opposition group said Wednesday it had not been invited to long-stalled peace talks aimed at solving a year-long crisis, demolishing hopes the meeting could help strike a deal. Talks were expected to run from May 21-24 in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha but key umbrella opposition group CNARED were not invited, the group’s spokesman Pancrace Cimpaye said. The Burundian government refuses to sit with key opponents who it accuses of involvement in a failed May 2015 coup and of months of violence including grenade and rocket attacks. The

Uganda: Museveni’s Arch Rival, Besigye Remanded in Prison
President Yoweri Museveni’s nemesis and the losing candidate in the recent presidential elections, Kizza Besigye was on Wednesday remanded in custody at the notorious Luzira Maximum Prison until June 1, 2016 after being charged for committing high treason. The treason charges were read to him anew, in the absence of his lawyers, at Nakawa magistrates court on the outskirts of Kampala. Besigye has reportedly decided to go it alone without lawyers. Last Wednesday, Besigye was arrested after he posted a video of his “swearing in ceremony” as president of Uganda on YouTube and Facebook. He was flown to Moroto, over 300kms northeast of Kampala, where he was imprisoned after briefly appearing in court on treason charges. On Monday he was transferred to Luzira Prison in Kampala after prosecutors argued that he should be tried in the capital, as his alleged offence was committed in that area. Africa Report

ENI Gas Pipeline in Nigeria’s Delta Attacked -Residents
Unknown attackers have blown up a gas pipeline belonging to Italy’s ENI in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, residents and the company said on Wednesday, the latest in a string of attacks on oil and gas facilities in the impoverished region. The attack occurred on Tuesday in Ogbembiri in Bayelsa state, residents said. A wave of attacks in the Delta, where many complain of poverty despite sitting on much of Nigeria’s oil wealth, has cut oil output to 1.4 million from 2.2 million barrels per day. “It is not clear if it is connected to militant activities or ordinary vandals or people paid by contractors to do so so as to get repair contracts,” said Eric Omare, a spokesman for the Ijaw Youth Council, an umbrella organisation of youth groups in the southern region. A spokesman for ENI said “sabotage” of the pipeline had affected 1,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Reuters

Zimbabwe Fails to Pay Diplomats, Slashes Allowances
Zimbabwe’s diplomats have gone for several months without pay amid moves by the government to cut their allowances by 25 percent as part of far reaching cost cutting measures. According to a report by a parliamentary committee tabled recently, embassy employees at various missions are now being forced to do extra work to survive due to late disbursement of salaries. The committee said in Kuwait, the ambassador had been summoned by the Gulf state’s government after landlords complained that embassy employees were not paying rentals for their accommodation. Zimbabwe has also been failing to maintain buildings housing its missions abroad due to worsening economic problems back home. Africa Report

Mozambique Opposition Wants Inquiry Into Possible Police Death Squad
Mozambique’s opposition on Wednesday demanded an independent investigation into a spate of unexplained killings and the possible existence of a police death squad. Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the main opposition party Renamo, said an inquiry separate from a police investigation was needed into the killing of 15 people last month in the Gorongosa region, north of the capital Maputo. Renamo accuses the ruling Frelimo party of burning homes and killing civilians in a campaign against Renamo guerrillas, violence that has forced thousands of Mozambicans to flee into neighbouring Malawi. Each party accuses the other of attacks on their members in various parts of the country as a simmering conflict between the old civil war foes has escalated since a fiercely contested national election in 2014. Reuters

Kerry Meets Sisi as Egypt Seeks MidEast Peace Role
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Cairo on Wednesday to meet President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after Egypt called for a renewal of the Middle East peace process. Even before Sisi had raised the issue, Kerry had planned a visit to discuss the crises in Libya and Syria and to raise concerns about Egypt’s harsh crackdown on dissent. But the top US diplomat is also keen to hear more from the Egyptian leader about how he intends to help broker peace between his Israeli and Palestinian neighbours. “He’s interested in hearing a bit more directly from the president about what role he has in mind,” a senior US official told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity. France 24

Chad to Probe Disappearance of Soldiers Missing Since April
Chadian officials say they have opened an investigation into the disappearance of more than 20 soldiers in the days before and after the April 10 presidential election. Prosecutors announced the probe late on Monday, after calls for action from right groups and, more recently, France. Investigators have already interviewed families of those reported missing, hospital staff, rights groups and others, state prosecutor Alghassim Khamis said. The soldiers went missing as President Idriss Deby was re-elected for a fifth term after 26 years of rule. Troops voted a day ahead of the poll. On April 28, the Chadian League for Human Rights (LTDH) and Amnesty International said more than 20 soldiers and security personnel were feared missing and called for government action. They were thought to have resisted pressure to vote for Deby, they said. News 24

Warrant for Burkina’s Ex-president Compaore Still Live – Army Prosecutor
Burkina Faso’s military prosecutor on Tuesday denied reports that an arrest warrant for ex-president Blaise Compaore, currently living in neighbouring Ivory Coast, has been cancelled. Chief prosecutor Armand Ouedraogo said last month that the warrant for Compaore had been cancelled over procedural irregularities, because it had been issued without first being formally requested by the state prosecution. However, a senior prosecutor for the military court, who asked not to be named, told AFP that “the arrest warrant against Blaise Compaore has not been cancelled. I can even say that it was never cancelled”. Compaore has been living in Ivory Coast since he was overthrown in a popular uprising in October 2014 after ruling Burkina Faso with an iron fist for 27 years. News 24

Somaliland Wants World Recognition of its Independence
The semi-autonomous region of Somaliland is renewing calls for international recognition of its self-declared independence from Somalia. Somaliland on Wednesday celebrated 25 years since the region proclaimed independence from Somalia. Thousands of civilians and military personnel paraded in front of dignitaries in the capital Hargeisa as the government showed off its Soviet-era military arsenal. Somaliland asserted independence in 1991 after the overthrow of Somali dictator Siad Barre. The region has experienced relative stability and economic prosperity over the years, even though neighboring Somalia has been wracked by deadly violence. “We do not want any special treatment form the international community,” said Sa’ad Ali Shire, Somaliland’s foreign minister. “We simply want recognition of the reality that has existed in Somaliland for 25 years.” AP on Stars and Straits

Health Officials to Weigh Declaring Global Emergency as Yellow Fever Strikes Southwest Africa
Alarmed that an outbreak of yellow fever in southwest Africa could spread if not quickly contained, medical experts will convene this week to consider whether to declare an international health emergency. Though the panel convened by the World Health Organization may not make the declaration — a move taken with Ebola and Zika outbreaks — the session to be held in Geneva on Thursday speaks to the seriousness of the disease’s spread in Angola. Yellow fever infections tied to Angola already have been reported in China. “In my view calling an emergency committee for yellow fever is clearly the right thing to do,” Lawrence Gostin, faculty director of Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, said in an email. La Times

Ex Phoenix Express 2016 Commences
Maritime forces from Europe, North Africa, and the United States began the tenth iteration of the multinational maritime Exercise Phoenix Express on 17 May.  Phoenix Express, sponsored by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and facilitated by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, is designed to improve regional cooperation, increase maritime domain awareness information-sharing practices, and operational capabilities to enhance efforts to achieve safety and security in the Mediterranean Sea. “The benefit of Phoenix Express is the coordination and collaboration that happens between multi-national partners in the maritime environment, every Chief of Naval Operations that I have ever worked for, part of their vison has always been not just the U.S. Forces but all of the other partners that we operate with around the world,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Kovacich, Director of Strategy, Plans and Programs, United States Africa Command. “It takes all of us working together and contributing to each other’s knowledge and experience.” DefenceWeb