Media Review for May 2, 2016

Kenya Burns 105 Tonnes of Ivory in Bid to Stop Poaching
Kenya’s president has set fire to 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and more than 1 tonne of rhino horn, in a statement against the trade in ivory and products from endangered species. Uhuru Kenyatta put a flame to the biggest of 11 pyres of ivory tusks and one of rhino horn in a chilly afternoon on Saturday. “This is the largest stockpile destroyed in Africa,” said Al Jazeera’s Catherine Soi, reporting from Nairobi.  Al Jazeera

Kenya Ivory Burn Controversy: Why Botswana Boycotted The Historic Conservation Event
The Kenyan government set fire to 105 tons of ivory and 1.35 tons of rhino horn in the largest-ever destruction of its kind Saturday in Nairobi National Park. A number of African leaders, conservation bigwigs, business moguls and even Hollywood celebrities attended the star-studded event. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who lit the 11 towering pyres, said he intended to send a message that the East African nation does not tolerate wildlife poaching. “Ivory belongs to our elephants. There will not be a market in it,” Kenyatta said Saturday, as he called for a complete ban on any form of trade in ivory. While most countries and conservationists praised Kenya’s move, the historic burn was controversial for others. The government of Botswana boycotted it altogether. International Business Times

In Congo, Wars Are Small and Chaos Is Endless
Deep in the forest, miles from any major city, lies an abandoned cotton factory full of the dispossessed. There is no police force guarding it. No electricity or running water inside. No sense of urgency or deep concern by the national authorities to do much about it. Instead, as the days pass, hundreds of displaced people make cooking fires or sit quietly on the concrete factory floor. Dressed in rags, they stare into space, next to huge rusted iron machinery that has not turned for decades. They are members of the Bambote, a marginalized group of forest dwellers who are victims of one of the obscure little wars that this country seems to have a talent for producing. “It’s like we don’t exist,” said Kalunga Etienne, a Bambote elder. This is what the Democratic Republic of Congo, the biggest country in sub-Saharan Africa and one that has stymied just about all efforts to right it, has become: a tangle of miniwars. The New York Times

Former Rebels, Ex-detainees in President Salva Kiir’s Cabinet
South Sudan’s unity government is beginning to take shape, with the newly-appointed Cabinet holding its first sitting on Friday, hours after being appointed. On Thursday evening, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir officially formed the transitional government of national unity after he announced a new Cabinet, which saw former rebels and post-2013 war detainees take up key positions. Through a presidential decree, Kiir appointed the former rebels to the Ministry of Interior, Mining, Water and Transport, while the political detainees got the Foreign Affairs and Agriculture among other portfolios. First Vice President Dr Machar, through his SPLM-IO party, now controls a third of the 30-member cabinet. President Kiir retained the influential Defence and Finance ministries,with his key loyalists Kuol Manyang and David Deng Athorbei as ministers respectively. On the other hand, Machar’s SPLM/A-In Opposition Deputy Chairman Gen Alfred Ladu Gore was appointed Minister of Interior while its chief negotiator Gen Taban Deng was appointed Minister for Mining. One of his key lieutenants and the son to the founding president John Garang, Mabior Garang was appointed the Minister for Water and Electricity. The East African

US Gives South Sudan $86m Humanitarian Aid
The US has announced more than $86 million humanitarian assistance to South Sudan. A press release by US embassy in Juba on Wednesday evening indicated the money would be used to help the conflict-affected people in South Sudan as well as the refugees in the region. South Sudan was in dire need of safe drinking water, emergency healthcare, nutrition services, shelter, improved sanitation, agricultural training, tools and inputs and fishing supplies. The statement explained that a portion of the funding would go into helping the internally displaced persons both within and outside of UN protection sites, those seeking asylum and South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries. Africa Review

Dozens of Migrants Missing as Italy Responds to Shipwreck off Libya
Twenty-six migrants have been rescued by an Italian cargo ship off the coast of Libya, but dozens more are said to be missing. Video footage released by the Italian coastguard showed the survivors being transferred to one of its vessels, after it had responded to a satellite phone call and diverted the merchant ship to the area. The ship found a rubber boat that had taken on water and rescued the two dozen aboard. But Italian media said at least another 70 were feared dead; other estimates put the figure at 84. Euro News

Blacklisted Oil Tanker Returns to Libya’s Zawiya Port
A tanker that Libya’s rival eastern government had been using to try to export oil in defiance of the Western-backed administration in Tripoli returned to the country on Saturday, after it was blacklisted by the United Nations, the state oil company said. The eastern government’s parallel oil company had hoped to sell the cargo of 650,000 barrels, but the United Nations measure required states to ban it from entering any port. Two competing governments, one in Tripoli and one in the east, backed by armed factions have struggled for control of the North African OPEC state since 2014. The eastern administration has set up its own National Oil Corporation in parallel to the Tripoli-based NOC. A U.N.-backed unity government, designed to replace the rival administrations, arrived in Tripoli last month and is attempting to assert authority over the whole country. Western powers fear any attempt by the eastern NOC to export crude independently would undermine the Tripoli government and further fracture the country along regional lines. Reuters

How Election Monitors are Failing Uganda
Uganda, heated controversy still surrounds President Museveni’s re-election with just over 60 percent of the vote two months ago. At a press conference on February 20, the European Union election observation mission presented its preliminary report on how the election had been conducted. The controversy surrounding the race, and the claim by the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) that the polls had been rigged, ensured a charged atmosphere. But despite finding that the number of votes it counted did not correspond to the official results in 20 percent of observed polling stations, the mission refused to answer a question about whether the elections were “free and fair.” Instead, they pulled their punches, directing the audience to read the report “and draw their own conclusions.” International election observation missions — when small teams of foreign nationals are sent to watch over elections under the auspices of groups such as the European Union, African Union and the Carter Center — are intended to deter foul play and ensure free and fair polls. In practice, these monitors are not generally known for toughness or frank criticism. But even by their notoriously cautious standards, the verdict in Uganda was strikingly tentative and evasive. Foreign Policy

Burundi’s Crisis Talks Postponed
The inter Burundian dialogue that was scheduled to take place from May 2 to 6 in Arusha, Tanzania has been postponed. This was announced on Friday by the office of former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa who is also the facilitator of the talks. “Following consultations between the facilitator in the Burundi dialogue, former Tanzanian President Benjamin William Mkapa and East African Community (EAC) Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko, the resumption of the dialogue which was due on May 2-6 has now been postponed,” indicated the statement. The statement further added that this will provide more time to make further consultations with stake holders and all concerned parties. The office said that the dialogue will probably take place in the third week of May. Africa News

Gunmen ‘Kill 5’ in Burundi Bar Attack
Gunmen in trenchcoats burst into a bar firing at drinkers in Burundi’s capital Bujumbura killing five, police said on Friday, the latest in a string of attacks in the troubled country. Four civilians and a soldier were killed and three others were wounded in the shooting late on Thursday. “A group of four armed criminals wearing long coats entered… they started shooting at customers,” police spokesman Moise Nkurunziza said. AFP on IOL News

U.N. Renews Mission in Western Sahara in Divisive Vote
The United Nations Security Council on Friday renewed its peacekeeping mission in the disputed Western Sahara region for a year with a resolution that placed only mild pressure on Morocco, which in a diplomatic flare-up last month expelled many of the staff members of the mission, crippling its ability to function. The resolution expressed the “urgent need” for a full restoration of the mission, known by its acronym, Minurso, and called on the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, to report in three months whether it had been returned to “full functionality.” The measure did not order the Moroccans to rescind the expulsions. It also did not specify what further steps might be taken to resolve the mission’s severe limitations, which have raised fears of a return to armed conflict in Western Sahara, a mineral-rich region long claimed by Morocco. The Security Council’s handling of the expulsions was under scrutiny by other nations where peacekeeping missions have been deployed. The New York Times

Four Arrested over Killing of Burundi General
Four people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the assassination of a senior Burundian army general earlier this week. Attorney General, Valentin Bagorikunda, said on Friday that investigations were continuing to capture more suspects. Brig.-Gen. Athanase Kararuza, a senior security adviser at the office of the first vice-president, was shot dead in the capital Bujumbura on Monday morning on his way to work. Along with him in his car, his wife and one of his security guards were also killed on the spot and his daughter was injured and died on Thursday. Xinhua

22 Somali Soldiers Killed in Al-Shabab Attack
Militant group al-Shabab attacked and recaptured a town in Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region early Sunday morning, killing 22 Somali soldiers, an official told VOA on condition of anonymity. The militants claimed that they had killed more than 32 soldiers including a senior military officer in the town of Runirgood, a day after the town had fallen to government forces. The commander of Somalia’s 12th sector, Mohamed Mohamud Sanay told VOA his soldiers were ambushed and eight of them were killed, while his forces killed 12 al-Shabab militants. The commander said a senior officer was wounded and is now missing. A Somali official who asked not to be named told VOA the death toll among soldiers was 22 and 10 others were missing and feared to be captured by the militants.  VOA

Somalia Mosque Collapses Kills 15 in Mogadishu
A mosque under refurbishment has collapsed in Somalia, killing at least 15 people and injuring 40. It happened during Friday prayers as the building, in the capital Mogadishu, was packed with worshippers. Hundreds of people are reported to have been inside the building when it collapsed and some are still believed to be trapped under the rubble. An engineer on the refurbishment project has been arrested on suspicion of negligence, local media report. Some media outlets report that worshippers were at prayer, while others say more than 100 people were pouring a concrete foundation after prayers when the structure collapsed. BBC

British Army Team in Somalia on UN Peacekeeping Duties
A British Army team has arrived in Somalia as part of a United Nations mission to counter Islamist militants. An advance party of about 10 soldiers from Force Troop Command, 1 Div and Field Army training will support African Union peacekeeping efforts against the al-Shabab group. About 70 personnel will eventually be in Somalia carrying out medical, logistical and engineering duties. Around 300 troops are also be deployed to the conflict in South Sudan. Al-Shabab – the Islamist militant group allied to al-Qaeda – is battling Somalia’s government for control of the country. BBC

14 Killed in Nairobi Floods and Building Collapse
Torrential rainstorms in the Kenyan capital have left at least 14 people dead, police said on Saturday, including at least seven crushed when a six-storey building collapsed, as rescue teams shifted rubble in a desperate search for survivors. One survivor was pulled from the huge pile of debris shortly after dawn, Kenya Red Cross said, some 10 hours after the building collapsed on Friday night and as skies cleared after a night of ferocious storms. “We have lost seven people after the house collapsed last night,” said Nairobi police chief Japheth Koome. “We have 121 others who have been rescued and taken to hospital.” Kenya Red Cross, who along with police and other rescue services continued to search the piles of crumbled concrete rubble, said a total of 150 households had been affected. News 24

How Magufuli is Shaping East Africa’s Geopolitics
At its inception, the Coalition of the Willing (CoW) was billed as the best alternative to the snail’s pace push to integrate the East African Community. But the events of last week, which saw Tanzania snap the oil pipeline deal from Kenya, and is courting Rwanda on the standard gauge railway (SGR) deal, indicate that this could have been just another show of all talk and no action. At the centre of this Tanzania charm is President John Pombe Magufuli. Dubbed the bulldozer, Tanzania under his tutelage is slowly reshaping how the future of regional mega projects will be determined. In June 2013, then a rejuvenated President Uhuru Kenyatta reenergised Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda to concentrate their efforts in actualising multibillion dollar infrastructure projects like pipeline, railways and the Lapsset and Mombasa port projects. The East African

Strategy of Terror: The Suicide Bombing Girls of Boko Haram
The Nigerian military looks to be slowly gaining the upper hand in its fight against Boko Haram. But the Islamist terror group isn’t going quietly and has begun using young girls as suicide bombers. We talked to some of those who escaped. […] She awoke early in the morning. The baby, just a few weeks old, lay next to her breathing peacefully, his face pressed up against hers. Fatima heard the voices of women approaching her hut before they came in, grabbed her by the wrists and dragged her outside. Fatima screamed, cried and kept stumbling to the ground. She knew what these women wanted. She had seen how they had outfitted the other girls with suicide belts, how fighters had driven them to the outskirts of the city in pick-ups and how they had returned without the girls. Spiegle

Nigeria’s Next Security Challenge is at a Tipping Point and Could Be as Deadly as Boko Haram
For the past six years, the Boko Haram terrorist group has run riot in Nigeria, carrying out fatal attacks and kidnappings across the northern part of the country. It has claimed lives of up to 20,000 people and displaced more than a million. But while the worst actions of Boko Haram, which have grabbed global headlines, now seem to reducing in frequency, another conflict has been going on in Nigeria for almost two decades with next to no media coverage outside the country. Pressured by the conflict between climate change, modern agricultural economics and a centuries-old tradition, it now threatens to explode into a full-scale criss. The low-level clashes between nomadic Fulani herdsmen and farmers used to be confined to the northernmost regions of the country, but due to the increasing desertification of nomadic grazing land in those areas which are traditional cattle-rearing territories, overgrazing and lower rainfall; the nomadic herdsmen have been pushing farther and farther south in search of grass and water for their herd. Quartz

Massive Oil Theft by Pirates Costs Nigeria $1.5 Billion Every Month
Depressed oil prices, rampant corruption, and pipeline vandalism are only parts of Nigeria’s oil problem. It’s now losing a massive 400,000 barrels of crude daily to pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, an amount equal to the entire daily export capacity of its Forcados terminal. Overall damage from piracy, theft and fraud for Africa’s largest oil exporter is estimated at some $1.5 billion a month, according to U.S. deputy ambassador to the UN, Michele Sison, citing a Chatham House report. USA Today

Beyond the ICC: How International Criminal Justice can Thrive in Africa
The international criminal justice system has been developing at an exponential rate; and Africa remains a wellspring of such developments. At the International Criminal Court (ICC), which remains focused mostly on African situations, the first four months of 2016 have been eventful. The trial of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo and co-accused youth leader Charles Blé Goudé has began, while that of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo ­– the former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo – ended with him being found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic. The Kenyan case against the deputy president, William Ruto, and co-accused radio executive Joshua arap Sang was terminated without prejudice to re-prosecution. More recently, the Prosecutor announced the opening of a preliminary examination into the situation in Burundi. ISS

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai Drops Poll Boycott
The Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC-T has ended its election boycott and will now contest the 2018 general polls despite its “No Reforms, No Elections” campaign adopted in 2014. Zanu PF has capitalised on the “No Reforms, No Elections” campaign by grabbing all parliamentary by-elections held since last year as MDC-T boycotted. In Bulawayo alone, Zanu PF won all six by-elections that the MDC T boycotted in June last year. “We are preparing to participate in the 2018 elections and we are very categorical about it,” Tsvangirai told journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club on Friday night. “What we are saying is that when we go to that election, it must give the people the confidence that the election will not be usurped like the 2013 one.”  The Standard on allAfrica

Political Splits Threaten Tunisia’s Economic Reform
Political divisions in Tunisia’s ruling coalition risk undermining economic reforms and paralysing the government as it tries to revive the country’s post-revolution economy and tackle Islamist militancy. Until recently, compromise between secular and Islamist parties in the governing alliance had helped keep Tunisia’s transition on track after the 2011 overthrow of Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, which inspired uprisings across the Arab world. But that consensus looks increasingly threatened by squabbling among secular allies and splits within the coalition. When lawmakers voted for part of an economic reform package last week, the ruling alliance managed to force the bill through by just two votes after many of its lawmakers opposed the motion or abstained.  Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones