Media Review for May 6, 2016

Niger Delta Militants Blow Up Chevron Oil Facility
The Defence Headquarters on Thursday confirmed that armed men suspected to be members of a militant group in the Niger Delta attacked a major platform of Chevron Nigeria Limited. Chevron, an operator of a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said the attack occurred at about 11.15 pm on Wednesday. It is the latest in a series of attacks on oil facilities since President Muhammadu Buhari vowed to treat “vandals and saboteurs” in the region as terrorists. “Its Okan offshore facility in the Western Niger Delta region was breached by unknown persons,” said Chevron in the statement. “The facility is currently shut-in and we are assessing the situation, and have deployed resources to respond to a resulting spill,” the company added. A group, the Niger Delta Avengers, which had earlier claimed responsibility for the sabotage a Shell Petroleum Development Company facility in the Forcados areas of Delta State, also took responsibility for the latest attack. Premium Times

U.S. Seeks to Approve Attack Aircraft for Nigeria in Boko Haram Fight
The U.S. administration is seeking to approve a sale of as many as 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to Nigeria to aid its battle against the extremist group Boko Haram, U.S. officials say, in a vote of confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari’s drive to reform the country’s corruption-tainted military. Washington also is dedicating more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the campaign against the Islamist militants in the region and plans to provide additional training to Nigerian infantry forces, the officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s plans. The possible sale—which the officials said was favored within the U.S. administration but is subject to review by Congress—underscores the deepening U.S. involvement in helping governments in north and west Africa fight extremist groups. Reuters

Militants Stage Attacks Between Libyan Stronghold of Sirte and Coastal Misrata
Islamic State militants staged attacks on Thursday between their Libyan stronghold of Sirte and the city of Misrata, killing five people, officials said. … Aziz Issa, the spokesman for Misrata central hospital, said three members of the local security forces had been killed in an attack on a checkpoint at Abu Grain, about 140 km (85 miles) west of Sirte. He said about 40 people had been wounded in the attack and clashes that followed, and that they were still being brought to the hospital late on Thursday. Separately, militants carried out a bomb attack in Baghla, to the south, a local official and a resident said. The official, from the nearby town of Bani Walid, said two residents were killed in the bombing. Reuters

Algeria Builds Giant Mosque as ‘Blow’ to Islamists
Algeria is building one of the world’s largest mosques which officials say will serve as a buffer against radical Islam and crown the legacy of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The Djamaa El Djazair mosque is being built facing the picturesque bay of Algiers as part of a complex that will include a one-million book library, a Koranic school and a museum of Islamic art and history. It will also have a 265m high minaret—the world’s tallest—as well as a 20 000 square metres prayer hall capable of accommodating up to 120 000 worshippers. The complex will be located between a future tourist hotspot and working class districts that were once a bastion for Islamist extremists. News24

Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe
Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa. Mauritania was one of the last countries allowing free entry to Syrians. But in February, it too began demanding visas as officials in North Africa and the Sahel try to stem the flow of migrants and refugees traveling across the Sahara in hopes of reaching Europe. Jamal Ahmed calls his friend Khalid on What’s App. “Where are you now?” he asks him. Both men are from the Syrian town of Idlib. Khalid has just arrived in Germany. Jamal remains in Bamako where the men and their families shared a stuffy apartment for two years. Jamal never intended to stay in Mali this long. VOA

Burundi: A Year Later, Still in Crisis
This, according to Marie-Louise Baricako, a prominent gender activist from Burundi, is what life is like at the moment for that beleaguered country’s citizens. “In Burundi you can’t say ‘trouble areas’, because trouble can be in any area. What is safe today is not safe tomorrow. Civilian life today is a life of fear, a life of uncertainty, and not knowing exactly what is happening tomorrow. People plan only for the next 24 hours. Anything can happen. When they come into your home, they take the men and the boys and inside they rape the wife and the daughters. It’s incredible, you cannot describe it, but what is happening in Burundi should be a question of morality for the whole continent of Africa,” she told Daily Maverick. Daily Maverick

Ghana Electoral Commission Ordered to Clean Up Voter Lists
Ghana’s Supreme Court has ordered the country’s electoral commission to immediately clean up the voter list to be used in this year’s presidential, legislative and local elections. The court said the current voter list is not credible for use at the polls. Abu Ramadan of the opposition People’s National Convention (PNC), and Evans Nimako, a farmer from Ghana’s Eastern region, petitioned the Supreme Court, saying the voter list contains non-citizens and minors. The two asked the court to instruct the electoral commission to compile a new voter list to be used for the elections. The court also urged the electoral commission to ensure it consults all political stakeholders in electoral administration processes. VOA

Ethiopia Activist Charged After Anti-Govt Facebook Posts
The ex-spokesperson for Ethiopia’s main opposition Blue Party has been charged with inciting violence and being a “ring leader” of a banned rebel group after he criticised the government on Facebook. Yonatan Tesfaye, who has been jailed since December 2015, in one message accused the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) of using “force against the people instead of using peaceful discussion with the public.” He was referring to the authorities’ response to protests that have rocked the Oromia region in Africa’s second-most populous nation. News24

Intelligence Official: Islamic State Growing in Somalia
Pro-Islamic State Somali militants have grown in numbers and are receiving financial and military support from Yemen, a top intelligence official told the VOA Somali Service. Abdi Hassan Hussein, the former Director of the U.S.-backed Puntland Intelligence Agency (PIA) said when the pro-IS Somali faction was founded in October last year it had about 20-30 men, but has since set up training camps and recruited more fighters. He said the group’s fighters now number between 100-150 fighters. “They received military supplies from Yemen—weapons, uniform, ISIS sent trainers who inspected their bases, and they have started sending financial support.” Bar-Kulan

Western Countries Urge Kenya to Take Steps for Smooth Polls
Kenyan voters must have confidence that the electoral commission and judiciary are impartial and efficient ahead of polls next year, 11 diplomats from western countries said Wednesday. In a joint statement the diplomats, who included U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, said with elections in 15 months, it is time for Kenyans to consider the steps needed to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections. Kenya’s main opposition leaders, protestant churches and Central Organization of Trade Unions have called for the disbandment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission on the grounds of corruption and alleged bias. AP

Uganda Bans Media Coverage of Election Result Protests
Uganda has banned live media coverage of opposition protests against the re-election of President Yoweri Museveni. The opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has called for a “defiance campaign” against the 71-year-old leader extending his 30-year rule. Security forces have sealed off the home of its leader Kizza Besigye, who described February’s vote as a “sham”. The government says media organisations could lose their licence if they cover the protest. Those who cover the event on social media would also be punished, the head of Uganda’s Communications Commission said. Last week, a court ruled that what the opposition is calling a “defiance campaign” against the election result was illegal, but the FDC has insisted on going ahead with its activities. BBC

UN, AU, Sudanese Trilateral Action Team to Visit Darfur
A joint trilateral action team from the United Nations, the African Union, and the Sudanese government will begin a visit to Darfur on Sunday to assess the reality of the situation on the ground. Ambassador Ali El Sadig, the spokesman for the Sudanese Foreign Ministry, told reporters on Wednesday that the joint group’s programme includes a field visit to the five states of Darfur from 8 to 16 May. He said that the joint trilateral work team will hold a meeting on the final day of the visit to raise its output to the joint mechanism at strategic level. Radio Dabanga

Sudanese Security Storm Office of Prominent Lawyer and Arrest His Clients
Sudan security agents on Thursday broke into the office of prominent lawyer and rights activist Nabeel Adib Abdallah and arrested several university students. On Tuesday, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Khartoum (UofK) decided to shut down the university indefinitely and ordered dismissal of 17 students for involvement in recent demonstrations. …  Abdallah told Sudan Tribune that 15 armed men in civilian clothes broke into his office on Thursday afternoon and identified themselves as National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) agents. He pointed that the armed men ordered the students to sit on the ground and started beating them before they took 11 of them and two office employees to an unknown location, saying the two employees were later released. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan 1st VP Says Prisoners of War Must be Released
South Sudan’s First Vice President Riek Machar on Thursday reiterated that political and prisoners of war should be released from jail in order to bring stability and peace to South Sudan and in compliance with the peace agreement. Machar made the remarks at the Parliament Affairs Ministry during an induction workshop for the ministers of the Transitional Government of National Unity. He said that he is aware that there are still prisoners of war in government detention centers. “There are serious issues in the agreement that JMEC may not resolve or the CTSAMM may not resolve it. It will be the cabinet that will resolve it and if we all work together, we will definitely resolve all these issues,” he said. Radio Tamazuj

DRC: Why is Moise Katumbi’s Presidential Election Candidacy So Important?
As uncertainty grows around whether presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will go ahead in November 2016, Moise Katumbi, who announced on 4 May that he is entering the presidential race, is seen as the biggest challenge to force the electoral calendar back on track. The incumbent, President Joseph Kabila has been accused of delaying the electoral process as he seeks to prolong his rule into a third term, which is barred under the constitution and is at present a prevalent theme in a number of African countries. The international community, including the United Nations, France and the United States have weighed in publicly about the need for free, fair, and timely elections, and many in Congo believe Katumbi is a powerful opposition figure. IBTimes

Mozambique: Human Rights Commisison Demands Investigation After Scattered Bodies Discovered
Mozambique’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has called for a full investigation into the discovery of bodies scattered in the bush of parts of the central provinces of Manica and Sofala. This demand follows repeated denials by the Sofala provincial and Gorongosa district authorities that there is any mass grave in Gorongosa. … The CNDH urged the government “to create the necessary conditions so that a serious, independent and transparent investigation”. The relevant national or international bodies should be given “unconditional access” to the sites where the bodies had been found. AllAfrica

Mozambique: Secret Debt Crisis—All Budget Support Stopped
Revelations that the government of Armando Guebuza took on more than $2 billion in debt in secret are creating a deepening economic crisis. The Group of 14 (G14) budget support donors have all suspended their contributions to the government budget, the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, confirmed yesterday. There are at least three loans to parastatal companies taken in secret in 2013. They are the Mozambique Tuna Company (EMATUM $850 mn), revealed last year and recently renegotiated, and two newly revealed loans, Proindicus to provide maritime security, particularly for offshore oil and gas operations ($622 mn), and Mozambique Asset Management (MAM), set up for maritime repair and maintenance ($535 mn). AllAfrica

Tales from the Crypt: Angola’s Hidden Hospital Horrors
“Sick people don’t have to pay. Only the dead.” At face value, this remark from one of the administrators of the Regional Hospital in Cafunfo, in the province of Lunda Norte seems to make no sense. Then clarity emerges: the town does not have electricity. The living have to put up with no electricity. But the families of the recently deceased are forced to pay “for a day or two’s refrigeration in the morgue” or deal with the gruesome consequences of a decomposing corpse. Cecilia Matias was only sixteen when she died from yellow fever. Her Aunt, Madalena Matias revealed that that the grieving family had to find the equivalent of nearly four hundred dollars for Cecilia’s body to be preserved while they arranged her funeral. Maka Angola

South Africa: Buildings at 17 Schools Burned in Protests
South African authorities say buildings at 17 schools in a provincial area were set on fire during several days of violence by residents who oppose an administration plan for their area. South African media reported that Vuwani town in Limpopo province was relatively calm Thursday after the unrest, in which protesters also blocked roads, burned vehicles and fought riot police. The violence started Sunday after residents failed in a legal bid to stop their area from being shifted from the authority of one municipality to another. AP

South African Opposition Parties Boycott Zuma Speech in Parliament
South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday asked for more orderly debates by lawmakers in parliament after most opposition parties boycotted his speech in the assembly. Several MPs from the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were forcibly ejected from parliament on Wednesday as they sought to prevent Zuma from giving a speech. On Thursday, the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, the EFF and six smaller ones were absent as Zuma gave a speech in reply to issues raised during the previous day, saying the president was “discredited” after court rulings against him. Reuters



Photo: Adam Jones