Media Review for May 3, 2016

Nigeria: $15bn Lost in Arms Procurement Fraud
Nigeria’s Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has accused the previous administration of stealing some $15 billion (13 billion euros) of public money through fraudulent arms deals. Osinbajo said the huge sum was “lost… to fraudulent and corrupt practices in… security equipment spending during the last administration”, according to a statement released by his office on Tuesday. The figure is more than half of Nigeria’s current foreign exchange reserves of $27 billion, he said on Monday in a speech in the southwestern city of Ibadan. President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May last year vowing to crack down on endemic corruption and impunity in government and has set about bringing offenders to book. AFP on  IOL News

Senegal, US Sign Defense Cooperation Agreement
The United States and Senegal signed an agreement Monday to ease access for U.S. troops should they need to deploy to the West African nation in the case of a humanitarian or security crisis. The Defense Cooperation agreement “will facilitate the continued presence of the U.S. military in Senegal,” said Senegal’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mankeur Ndiaye. The agreement “will also help to enhance security cooperation and further strengthen defense relations to face common security challenges in the region.” The agreement comes amid heightened extremist threats in the region following major attacks in Mali, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. Senegal has increased security efforts to counter threats as some experts have warned the country could be a target. It also comes after the most deadly Ebola outbreak in history has abated. Ebola has killed at least 11,300 people mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea since December 2013. Senegal allowed U.S. military aircraft to transport troops, health workers and equipment to Liberia during the crisis, the embassy said. AP

Sahel Jihadists Resorting to Soft Targets: French Commander
The commander of a French anti-jihadist force in Africa’s northern Sahel says Islamist insurgents are hitting soft targets elsewhere after losing the initiative in the region. General Patrick Brethous said groups were now selecting easy targets beyond the reach of his Operation Barkhane because they had been outmanoeuvred on home turf. “It’s perhaps precisely because they are under pressure that they (jihadist groups) do that. They have no sanctuaries left, just a few hideouts in the far north,” he told AFP in an interview at the headquarters of Operation Barkhane in Chad’s capital N’Djamena. Brethous cited a March 13 attack — claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — in Ivory Coast’s Grand-Bassam beach resort that killed 19 as an example. AFP on Yahoo News

UN ‘Alarmed’ by Renamo in Mozambique
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says it has received “worrying information” about armed clashes in Mozambique between national security forces and members of Renamo, the former rebel group. “Human rights violations, including cases of enforced disappearances and summary executions, have also been reported,” said spokesman Rupert Colville on Friday. He said the announcement by the head of the police on Monday that any public protest would be repressed raised serious concerns. Ahead of demonstrations called for this weekend and the next week, Colville said: “We urge the government to fulfil its obligation to guarantee that all citizens may exercise their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.” Tension has been rising in Mozambique over the past few months after Renamo rejected the outcome of the 2014 legislative elections and announced its intention to seize power in six of the country’s 11 provinces. IOL News

Dangers of Life as a Journalist in Somalia
Somali TV journalist Abdulkadir Omar Abdulle has been seriously wounded in the line of duty. He says journalists are the most vulnerable people in Somalia, and that groups often target journalists who file stories they see as negative, thinking they are filing in support of their rivals. To mark World Press Freedom Day, Abdulkadir tells his story. BBC

Can a Gambian Spring Survive Jammeh’s Infamous Wrath?
Stereotypical African dictator Yahya Jammeh doesn’t suffer enemies gladly. But he’s made plenty during his 22 years in charge of the Gambia, and a recent wave of unrest indicates that his opponents are gaining strength. But can these delicate beginnings of a mass movement withstand the president’s penchant for brutal repression?  Daily Maverick

Why West Africa’s Muslim-majority States are Banning the Burqa
A crowded market in the heart of the capital was the chosen target of the first suicide bombing in Chad’s history. In a split second, 15 people were killed and 80 maimed. It soon became clear that a man clad in a burqa had carried out the attack, passing through the checkpoint outside the market by concealing his explosives beneath the all-enveloping canopy. The government of the West African country responded last July with a measure that elsewhere might have been seen as draconian: it simply banned the burqa. The Telegraph

British Troops Arrive in Somalia to Fight Terrorism
A British Army team has arrived in Somalia as part of a UN-backed African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to counter Islamist militants.The move reinforces the UK’s commitment to targeting terrorism around the world. AMISOM was launched in 2007 to fight against Al-Shebab – the Islamist militant group allied to al-Qaeda – whichi is still battling Somalia’s government for control of the country. The group has carried out a string of attacks – including attacks in neighbouring Kenya – and is believed to have between 7,000 and 9,000 fighters. RFI

DRC Opposition Agrees Joint Presidential Candidate
A coalition of opponents of DRC President Joseph Kabila announced on Sunday former regional governor Moise Katumbi as their “joint opposition candidate” for presidential elections due before the end of the year. Democratic Republic of Congo authorities are under pressure from the international community to hold the polls as planned in November before Kabila’s second – and constitutionally last – mandate ends. Last month police in the southeast of the country fired tear gas to break up a demonstration by 5 000 people in the latest unrest triggered by fears that Kabila plans to extend his rule into a third term. News 24

‘DR Congo Entering Period of Political Contestation’
As the Democratic Republic of Congo gears up for elections scheduled for November, opposition parties are strategizing how best to win at the ballot box. Incumbent President Joseph Kabila’s second term is coming to an end in December and the constitution bars him from running for another term. The recent move is a coalition that has handpicked Katanga’s former governor, Moise Katumbi (pictured above) to run for the top job. The wealthy businessman has however not given any signs whether he intends to be on the ballot paper. DW spoke to Christoph Vogel, a researcher on the DRC at the University of Zurich in Switzerland. Deutsche Welle

Nigeria to Begin Exploratory Oil Drilling in Chad Basin by October – NNPC
Nigeria plans to begin exploratory drilling in search of oil in the northeastern Chad Basin region by October, the head of the state oil company has said. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, who last year said Africa’s biggest crude exporter may be on the verge of a significant oil find in the Lake Chad area, said in a statement on Sunday that seismic studies were ongoing. “Drilling activities will commence by the last quarter of 2016,” the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) chief, who is also minister of state for oil, was quoted as saying in the statement issued by the state oil company. Africa’s biggest economy has been hit hard by the sharp fall in global oil prices because it relies on crude exports for around 70 percent of government revenue. Africa News

Nigeria Property Boom Follows Boko Haram Retreat
Property investors in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri are benefiting from a rise in real-estate prices following the retreat of Boko Haram fighters. Maiduguri is the largest city in Borno state, once a stronghold of the fighters and a frequent target for its suicide bombers. The group claims to be fighting against Western influence and is thought to have killed about 15,000 people and driven more than two million from their homes during its six-year insurgency. Since the Nigerian military began a wide-ranging military operation against Boko Haram, many of Maiduguri’s residents that had fled are on their way back home. They had sold land and property to escape the armed group’s advance but their return is forcing prices to go up. Al Jazeera

Sudan Reiterates Sovereign Rights over Halayeb Border with Egypt
Sudan insisted on Monday it had “sovereign rights” over two border territories whose ownership has been the subject of a long-standing dispute between Cairo and Khartoum. Sudan has regularly protested at Egypt’s administration of Halayeb and Shalatin near the Red Sea, saying they are part of its sovereign territory since shortly after independence in 1956. Since April, Khartoum has stepped up its claim to the territories after Egypt transferred two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia in a move that triggered street protests in Cairo. “We will not let go of our sovereign rights on the Halayeb triangle,” Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour told parliament on Monday. “We have adopted legal and political measures to assert our rights in the Halayeb triangle.” The East African

Security Clause Now Harder to Implement in South Sudan
Security has proven to be the most difficult to implement out of the eight issues in the South Sudan peace agreement. Apart from the frequent violation of the ceasefire, the demilitarisation of Juba and the cantonment of the former fighting forces in designated areas has been complicated with suspicion between the two opposition camps and lack of funds. The main area of controversy has been the deployment of all forces from Juba within the 25km radius which according to the peace agreement ought to have been done within 90 days from August. Dr Riek Machar had attributed his long-delayed return to Juba after signing the peace agreement eight months ago to the inability of the government to withdraw the extra troops from the capital, while the government has been citing a lack of funds to set up camps and feed the soldiers. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) transported 1,570 soldiers to its camp in Jebel Kujur, in southern Juba. The security arrangement workshop held in Addis Ababa in October 2015 decided that only 8,000 troops will remain in Juba as presidential guards and joint integrated police.  The East African

South Sudan Asks Nairobi Court to Release Frozen Funds
Troubled South Sudanese government wants the Kenyan High Court to reverse an order it issued attaching a bank account it has with CfC Stanbic Bank, arguing that the $18 million in the account is part of the country’s emergency operation fund. The Juba-based government says in court documents that the funds in CfC Stanbic had been earmarked for easing the economic and political challenges currently facing the country, and that Khartoum firm Active Partners Group’s (APG) decision to attach the account has stalled its operations. APG attached the account to recover $41.9 million Kenyan courts awarded the Khartoum firm as compensation for a botched power project South Sudan had contracted it to undertake. An arbitration panel awarded the Khartoum firm the huge amount in January last year, paving the way for APG move to the commercial division of the High Court in Nairobi to enforce the award. APG filed the enforcement suit in Nairobi’s Milimani Court because the arbitration was done in Nairobi, giving the Kenyan courts jurisdiction over the matter. The East African

Violence Increases as Burundi Talks Delayed
There was hope the appointment of a new regional mediator for Burundi, former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, would jumpstart the peace process; but, talks that were scheduled to start Monday in Arusha have been delayed until later this month. Meantime, arrests, grenade attacks and assassinations continue, and dialogue grows more complicated by the day. Political mediation for Burundi, scheduled to start Monday, has been postponed. Officials cited the need to consult more with the government and its opponents. A previous mediation effort led by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni failed to make progress. In March, the East African Community (EAC) bloc appointed former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa to lead the talks and help find a solution to the country’s yearlong political crisis. According to officials familiar with the talks, the government is reluctant to meet with opposition groups who they say are behind attacks on government and security officials. VOA

Burundi Needs ‘Reconciliation Commission’ Says Former President
Today Burundi marks 44 years since the massacre of over 100,000 Hutus. The country finds itself in the middle of another political crisis. After repeated failed attempts, talks have been scheduled for next week in Tanzania. Last April, President Pierre Nkurunziza decision to seek another third term sparked nation-wide protests. The violence continues to this day, despite Nkurunziza’s disputed victory at the polls. International observers fear that the conflict might escalate into an ethnic war between Tutsis and Hutus. The latest bloodshed comes as the ICC launches a probe into Burundi’s year of violence. DW: Do you think this commemoration day will really help the country in the reconciliation process? Domitien Ndayizeye: No. It all depends on what the government aims to achieve by such action. We have made it clear how important it is, that an investigation into what happened from independence until today, be carried out by a reconciliation commission. It will help us to understand and categorize different crimes committed since independence. Unfortunately, that has not taken place. Deutsche Welle

Firebrand Malema Rallies South Africa’s Poor Pledging Land, Jobs, Wifi
The firebrand leader of South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters on Saturday launched his party’s campaign for what are expected to be closely-fought local elections, promising to rescue voters from poverty, unemployment and corrupt government. EFF president Julius Malema chose the highly-symbolic backdrop of Soweto, Africa’s most famous township outside Johannesburg and just a stone’s throw from Nelson Mandela’s last home before his arrest, to lay down his challenge to the ruling African National Congress whose youth wing he once headed. With the ANC’s vast majority now straining under the weight of President Jacob Zuma’s scandal-plagued leadership and high unemployment as the economy stutters, opposition parties have made inroads into the liberation party’s strongholds. Formed just three years ago the EFF won 6 percent of the vote at national polls in 2014 to become the third largest party and the second largest in opposition. Reuters

Egyptian Police Raid Press Syndicate, Arrest Two Journalists
Egyptian police raided the press syndicate in Cairo late on Sunday and arrested two journalists critical of the government, a syndicate official and reporters said in what the labor union called an unprecedented crackdown on the media. Labor union officials said this was the first time that police had raided its building — a traditional spot in downtown Cairo for staging protests — as authorities seek to quell rising dissent against President Abdel Fattah Sisi. The interior ministry denied officers had stormed the press labor union building but confirmed it had arrested journalists Mahmoud El Sakka and Amr Badr who work for the opposition website Bawabet Yanayer inside the syndicate. Hundreds of officers have been deployed in central Cairo since protests erupted on April 15 against Sisi’s decision to hand over two islands to Saudi Arabia, with thousands calling for the government to fall, a slogan from the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Police dispersed smaller protests two weeks later.  Reuters

Ivory Coast to Privatise Power, Water Monopolies
Ivory Coast will break up its long-standing electricity and water monopolies and introduce competition to reduce prices amid growing public concern over price increases, President Alassane Ouattara said. The government decided in June last year to increase electricity prices by 16% over three years to keep pace with production costs. Under the arrangement electricity prices were scheduled to increase by 5% in January. But some customers saw rates rise by as much as 40%, according to a government investigation, prompting Ouattara to cancel the January increases and call for a more competitive industry. “This situation reminds us of the need to open up the water and electricity sectors to competition,” Ouattara, a former senior International Monetary Fund official, said in a Labour Day speech on national television on Sunday. Fin24

Majority of Traffic Fatalities in South Africa Tied to Drunken Driving
This is the fifth story in a series on road chaos in South Africa. On Dec. 6, 2005, Brenda Caplen was visiting her brother in Abu Dhabi. She was restless, “tossing and turning” in bed. “I knew something was wrong. I had this terrible feeling; I didn’t sleep the whole night,” she remembers. The next morning, Caplen’s brother called her to the phone. The person on the line had news that put the businesswoman on the next flight back to Johannesburg. “I don’t remember too much about the day but it was really the worst day of my life,” she says. Caplen’s son, Stuart, had been partying in 7th Street, Melville. The strip of nightclubs and bars is popular, especially with students taking advantage of offers like “buy one drink, get one free.” VOA



Photo: Adam Jones